The Monad Chronicles: Guardian
by Sam Cheever
Erotic Prose Publications
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9710485-2-2
Nuria is a protector of the magical realm. She’s in trouble with the gods for allowing a guardian angel to be extinguished. To earn her way out of trouble she’s been given a task. There’s a plot to take over Olympus, and the gods suspect that a human named Ian Lavelle is at the heart of it. So they send Nuria to Earth to question and destroy the sexy and elusive Ian. But Ian Lavelle is much more than he seems…and he may just be too hot for Nuria to handle!
Note: Prologue omitted.
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The woods swayed around me, bright with filtered light and the dance and song of millions of small-brained inhabitants. I stayed close to the smooth, black trunk of a huge luck tree and rubbed its silky bark.
Ahead of me, on the path, a demon squatted over a human female, sniffing her with a pig-like nose that dripped and quivered at her unfamiliar scent. I was worried about the girl. She’d been screaming and thrashing around mere moments earlier. Now she was very still on the ground.
I closed my eyes, deciding that the time was right, and entered the sphere between worlds, sliding on silent wings of air toward the unsuspecting demon. I bit my lip, praying he wouldn’t notice the change in atmosphere that would tell him of my presence. Or the wrinkle in the air that, at the last moment, I would step through so I could kick his fat, oily ass.
I was mere feet away when the demon stiffened suddenly and stood, looking around with small, beady eyes and reaching for the electric fork at his waist. I stepped through the wrinkle and reached for him, grabbing him around the neck with one arm and twisting the thick wrist of the hand that now clutched the instrument of my sudden and complete death. The wrist bent forward with a very satisfying crack.
He threw back his head on a squeal of pain, catching me in the chin…hard. Stars burst in front of my eyes as I tightened my arm around his treelike neck until the ligaments gave way. I sent my electrical energy into him at an annihilation level and he exploded into dust, settling over the prone form on the ground.
Kneeling beside the woman, I reached for her delicate looking neck, feeling for a pulse. It was fairly strong. Frowning, I wondered why she looked so pale. So still. I sent healing power into her and, when her pulse picked up I stood and stepped away. Glancing at the wrinkle that awaited me, I struggled with the idea of leaving her there alone.
Her guardian should have been there already. I wondered what was keeping him. As I had the thought the air shifted behind me and I turned, looking into the pale, harried face of her guardian angel.
He smiled. “Nuria, sorry I’m so late. There was a problem with one of my other protecteds. He thought it would be a good idea to ride his barely broke horse through town…completely naked.”
I twisted my lips at the thought. “Please tell me he was drunk.”
Mack laughed and shook his head. “Unfortunately no. He’s just really that stupid.”
“Is he okay?”
“Well, he’s alive. But I don’t think there’ll be any offspring in his future. Probably a good thing.”
I nodded, glancing down at the pretty young woman at my feet. “The demon dropped her here and I was able to grab him.” I frowned. “Her pulse is strong. I’m not sure why she hasn’t woken up yet.”
Mack kneeled down beside her and, placing his hands over her forehead and heart, did a quick probe of her body. “She seems whole and basically unharmed.” He frowned slightly. “But there is something…”
The woman jerked upright, a hissing electric fork in her hand, and stabbed it into Mack’s chest. He screamed and flew upward, hovering over her, his hands trembling over the spot on his chest where she’d impaled him. He looked decidedly indistinct.
The girl gained her feet and looked at me, her pretty blue eyes filled with hate. “Evil spirit die!”
She lunged at me, barely missing my stomach with the deadly electrical weapon. I danced away, pulling my own weapon forward. “I think you have me confused with someone else. We came to help you. We’re friends.”
The woman stopped suddenly, cocked her head, and gave me a slightly scary smile. “You are no friend of mine evil spirit. Your kind only harms. As she lunged at me I lifted my knife, glancing at Mack. He knelt on the ground several feet away, clutching his chest and struggling to breathe. But he looked a bit more substantial. That was a good thing.
I had a serious dilemma. I had no jurisdiction with humans. Harming one would put me in a very delicate spot.
The woman apparently had no such restrictions. She lunged again and missed me by inches. I swung away to the side, pushing my knife forward like a shield. If I could just get hold of her weapon.
She gave a primal scream and lunged. I saw her coming toward me and knew I’d have to kill her. I really didn’t want to kill her. But it was either her or me. Surely the Council would understand.
Something hit me from the side. Hard. And I flew sideways. I threw my hands up to break my fall and felt them slide into nothingness. I fell through the waiting wrinkle and into safety…watching in horror as Mack took the killing blow that had been meant for me.
* * * *
Slouching against the wall, I watched the gods filter into the room in a leisurely fashion. I momentarily envied them their charmed existence. Their worst problems were whether they had enough wine in their goblets at any given time and if their current paramour would be available that morning, and afternoon, and evening…
I shook my head at my inner musings.
“A drachma for your thoughts?”
I turned and scowled at Keane, a fellow warrior and my sometimes partner in Monadery. “Hey Keane. Why are you here?”
He shrugged. “Apparently they want someone to attest to your character or some such idiocy.”
I felt my blood starting to boil. “They think I pushed poor Mack into that fork?”
Keane just shrugged wide shoulders, studiously avoiding my eyes.
I blew out a breath and crossed my arms over my chest, glaring at the arrogant creatures across the room.
The council table was two thirds full. Just a few more anuses needed to complete the ass convention at the raised Council table.
When the table was full I reluctantly took my seat in front of them. Keane sat down next to me and we both looked at the empty third seat.
As Zeus banged the gavel to start the proceedings, the wide, golden doors at the side of the room opened, allowing a brush of warm air filled with the scent of wild flowers to drift across the room.
My worst nightmare floated through the doors.
I turned to Keane. He grimaced. My eyes projected horror as I murmured, “Oh Hell no!”
He shook his dark head and leaned close. “This can’t be good.”
Etta was tiny and pink and feminine. She was also dim witted and arrogant. She didn’t look like a horrifying monster, but she was.
She was a guardian, like Mack had been. A favorite of the gods…unfortunately. But her success rate wasn’t as good as mine. And it ate at her…big time. So she took whatever opportunity she could find to bring me down. She’d been a giant thorn in my side since I’d accepted my commission as a Monad.
The fact that she was in that room at that moment, sauntering toward me with a superior look on her tiny, pink, monster face was a terrible thing.
A horrendous thing.
A foreshadowing of my doom.
Zeus glared at Etta and set his gavel down in front of him. Within easy reach.
Zeus liked to play with his gavel. “You’re late, guardian.”
Etta stopped in front of the long, semi-circular table and curtsied prettily.
I rolled my eyes at Keane. Etta had always liked to make an entrance.
“I beg your forbearance majesty. I had an emergency with one of my protecteds that held me.”
Zeus continued to frown but nodded his acceptance of her excuse. “Sit, so we may begin.”
Etta turned toward me. The smile that slipped onto her monster face when she saw me made me want to zap her with about ten thousand volts right between her hate-filled eyes.
Oops. Deep cleansing breaths. That would not be good for my case.
I forced myself to turn away and ignore her.
No easy thing since she made sure one of her wings fluttered in front of my face when she sat down, completely blocking my view of the Council. I pushed at it a few times and she finally folded it away, giving me a wide-eyed look of innocence as she did.
My hand twitched over my weapon.
Zeus fondled his gavel as he turned to look at the gathered Council of Gods. Olympus’ finest on parade…for yours truly.
“Recently, one of our finest guardians was annihilated…somehow…by his protected, while on a mission to save her from a demon.” The faces of the other gods behind the long table showed varying degrees of shock and distress. It was a rare occurrence for a guardian to be annihilated. Especially by a human. “I’ve called this assembly to learn the facts of the…situation.” He turned to glare at me. “Nuria, Warrior Monad Third Level, inform the Council of your partner’s death.”
I grimaced at the Third Level shit. I should have made Second Level long ago. But I kind of sucked at sucking up. It was a problem for me.
I cleared my throat and stood up. Etta’s wing fluttered upward as she shifted daintily in her seat and hit me in the face. I whacked at the obscuring wing with the heel of my hand, infusing it with just the tiniest bit of electrical energy as I did, and spit feathers out of my mouth as she jerked it back with a gasp.
I stepped forward and bowed low to the Council. “Your Majesties. Thank you for the opportunity to come before the Council today…” I glanced up from under my white-blond bangs to assess their attitudes and found that most had already lost interest. This was a good thing. Or a bad thing. Depending on where their beady little brains happened to land at the time of sentencing. Straightening up to my full height of five foot nine, I fixed a firm, unwavering gaze on Zeus. He was really the only one that mattered. Although the sun god, Apollo, second in command on the Council, was fully capable of toasting the room with solar rays if I ignored him for too long.
“I received the information this morn from the Watcher, that the human woman had been taken by a demon and that I was needed to annihilate the creature. Mack was contacted at the same time, but he was tied up with one of his other protecteds and was late in arriving.” I stopped, turning to fix Apollo with a glance. He nodded for me to continue and appeared to be listening intently. His eyes sparkled.
I took a deep breath, feeling better. Apollo had always seemed to have a soft spot for me. I didn’t allow myself to delve too deeply into that thought. His thunderous rages were well known on Olympus. Rivaled only by his extreme, almost feminine, bouts of tenderness. Some of us speculated that his thunderous moments were an overcompensation for his less than manly soft moments. It made a certain twisted sort of sense. He did go through man-servants at an alarming rate. And they generally ran, rather than walked away when he released them. With a certain, skewered aspect to their features… Denial is an ugly thing.
I shook my head, forcing my mind back to the moment.
“The demon had the woman flung over his shoulder when I arrived and was carrying her into the woods. She was kicking and screaming and generally putting up an ear fracturing fuss. I followed them through the woods, keeping my distance. As long as I could see that she was alive and basically unharmed. I waited for the right moment, when she wouldn’t see me and when Mack could be there to erase her memory and ease her back into her normal life.” I frowned in thought. The next part bothered me. Had bothered me from the first. Because I couldn’t explain it.
“Go on, child.” Apollo’s lyre stroking had taken on an almost sensual aspect that was very disturbing. I glanced at him and saw that his bright, green gaze wasn’t fixed on me. Turning to see where he looked, I realized he was staring at Keane.
Keane’s face was twisted in horror.
I waggled my eyebrows at him and he looked like he might pass out.
“CONTINUE!” The Council chambers exploded with Zeus’ impatient tones.
I jumped a little and turned back to the waiting gods, now sitting with expectant faces.
Apparently Zeus had woken them up.
“As I said, the human was putting up quite a fuss. But then she suddenly gave a little squeak and went limp. The demon jerked to a stop as if he was surprised and started poking at her. When she didn’t respond he laid her on the ground and looked her over very carefully.” I frowned again, remembering. “She appeared to be unconscious but unharmed.”
I shook my head, lost in the scene my mind was replaying from memory. “I decided I couldn’t wait for Mack and dispatched the demon while the woman was unconscious. Then Mack arrived and he bent over her to assess her condition and she suddenly came awake, plunging a fork into his chest.”
A low murmuring at the table brought me out of my thoughts. I glanced at Apollo. He’d stopped stroking his lyre and was looking at me, he was paying attention again. “M…” I had to clear my throat again, “Mack was badly hurt but he removed himself and was recovering. Then the human attacked me. She…” I turned haunted eyes to Zeus, “Your majesty. She called me evil spirit.”
The table erupted. Everyone was talking at once. Fear and shock paled the assembly of arrogant faces, bringing a few to their feet. “It’s impossible!” erupted Poseidon from the other side of Zeus. A storm suddenly filled the air of the chambers. Poseidon’s blue gray hair swung away from his shoulders in a sudden, stiff wind of his own making and several Pages, standing behind their assigned gods, scrambled to grab at papers that took to the air. Fat raindrops started to fall, bringing cries of sharp protest from the assembled goddesses.
Aphrodite, standing next to Poseidon, smacked him on the arm.
Zeus cast a quelling glance at his brother and the storm slowly subsided.
Poseidon looked sheepishly around, red faced. “Sorry.” He murmured.
He’d never been able to hold his storms.
Zeus returned his attention to me as the gods fluffed and straightened and resumed their chairs. Pages were still scrambling around the Council chambers trying to sort out papers that had blown out of their hands during Poseidon’s outburst.
“The human knew you were a Monad?”
“It would appear so, your majesty.”
A perky wind slipped through the chambers and Zeus glared at Poseidon.
The wind died.
Silence reigned in the chambers for a few moments as the Council considered this startling news. Finally, Hades stood. “It is clear that someone has been creating mischief on Earth. I will go at once to the Underworld and start my investigation. I need to be back there soon anyway to see to Mack’s comfort when he arrives.” Without another word, Hades turned away from the table and left the chambers, calling for his Page to ready a Unicorn for his departure.
No one tried to stop him. It was a small miracle that they had gotten him there in the first place. He never strayed far from his underworld kingdom, or Persephone, his extremely possessive wife.
Almost as a single unit, the gods watched Hades leave and then swung their collective gaze back to Zeus. He fondled his gavel for a moment and turned to Keane. “Address the council, Keane Warrior Monad.”
Keane stood and I stepped back, allowing him to take the spotlight…and the heat…for a while.
He bowed low to the council. “Majesties.”
They stared back at him, arrogance painting their beautiful faces.
Aphrodite leaned forward, smiling a secret smile at Keane. It was fairly well known that she had designs on him. So far he’d managed to sidestep them. But from the look of pure lust she was throwing him at that moment, I seriously doubted he was going to be able to hold her off for much longer. Keane’s body stiffened visibly, nerves kicking in under her clearly sensual appraisal. “Tell us what you know of this Monad’s character, Keane of the Emerald Isle.”
Someone gasped and I jerked in surprise. It was as near a term of endearment as the gods would give in public. An acknowledgement that she knew of his roots, his life as a human. Keane had been the fiercest of all warriors in ancient Ireland, respected by his peers and his enemies alike. And, at six foot three and two hundred pounds of pure muscle, topped off by shiny black hair that curled softly over his shoulders, sparkling eyes the blue of the ocean, a strong, square jaw and soft, kissable lips, he was as legendary for his skill with the ladies as he had been with a sword. Aphrodite had…apparently…done her homework. For her to put that much effort into him spoke volumes.
To his credit, Keane’s voice when he spoke was clear and strong. “Nuria, Warrior Monad is an exemplary warrior with a clear record. Her success rate is unmatched in the force. She has never done anything to make me think she would put a partner, no less a guardian, in danger. I believe her account of the incident…without hesitation.”
As a result of Keane’s ardent support, Aphrodite cast a speculative glance toward me. It was obvious she was assessing me as a possible rival for Keane’s affections. Apparently she wasn’t concerned by what she saw. Her beautiful violet eyes swung away from me dismissively.
Frowning slightly, I resisted the urge to fluff my hair. I wasn’t that unattractive surely.
Zeus banged his gavel and Keane stepped back, placing his arms behind his back and standing, warrior-like, with legs set in a wide stance and back rigid. I risked a glance at him and his eyes sparkled. One corner of his generous mouth tilted upward.
I grinned back. Keane would be all right. I wasn’t going to waste any worry cycles on him.
The huge golden doors swung open again and a Page strode quickly into the room. She was hourglass shaped, pleasantly padded, with auburn hair that ended in soft curls at her tiny waist. She had bright green eyes that swung to Keane and widened slightly as she stepped before the Council and turned to give the customary bow. “Your Grace, I bring the news you seek.”
Zeus looked at us. “Step outside the Council chambers while we discuss this news.”
I bowed and turned away, striding quickly toward the golden doors. Keane and Etta were hot on my heels.
When we stood in the vast, marbled hallway outside the chambers I turned to Etta and poked her in her nearly flat chest with a finger. “If you ever…ever…stick that wing in my face again I will cut it off and feed it to a gorgon. Are we clear?”
Her beautiful dark eyes widened and she glanced at a guard standing down the hall from us. Unfortunately for her he was too far away to have heard me. Finally she gave me an evil grin and shrugged.
I turned away from her, in a huff, and began to pace in front of the doors. Keane joined me. Etta clasped her small hands at her waist and watched us carefully.
“What news do you suppose the Page brings?” My gaze found Keane’s and it was filled with more than the simple question.
He gave me a slow smile. “I can only guess…of course…but I believe the Page was sent to the Watcher to find out about an Earthly plot of some kind.”
I nodded. “That makes sense. The human woman’s behavior was strange at best. I knew something was wrong…I just didn’t know what it was until it was too late…” My voice wobbled as I thought of Mack, and the killing blow he’d taken for me.
Keane placed a hand on my back and leaned close, cutting Etta out of the conversation between us. “He was a guardian, Nuria, it’s what they do. He would do it again should the opportunity arise. He’s in a better place now.”
I nodded, knowing he was right, but not feeling any better for it. I didn’t want anyone to take my burdens from me. Either in the form of my guilt…or my death.
The golden doors opened again and we were ushered in by the pretty Page who’d arrived with Zeus’s news.
She stood to the side of the doors as we entered the chambers. Her gaze never left Keane’s as he passed by. They exchanged a smoldering glance that told me all I needed to know about their relationship.
Aphrodite would not be pleased.
When we stood in front of the Council table once again, Zeus fondled his gavel and glared down at us. “The Watcher has discovered a human group that needs to be examined closely. Their leader is unknown to this Council.”
He looked at me. “Nuria Warrior Monad, I wish for you to return to Earth and find this group. Do whatever is needed to discover what they are about. Pay particular attention to its leader. We need to learn what he knows of us and why this group apparently means us harm. When you have learned all you can learn, you must kill the leader. You will not return to Olympus until he is dead. Is that clear?”
“Yes.” I gave a small bow. “May I ask what you know of this group, and this man, your Grace?”
“No. You may not.”
Considering me dismissed, he turned to Etta. “Etta, guardian of the first choir, step forward.”
I jerked around just in time to get smacked in the face by an errant wing. Etta cast me an innocent, theatrically apologetic look.
This time my hand rested on my weapon and grasped it convulsively. A grinding sound filled the silence of the room and I forced my jaw to unclench. I don’t know how the council could place any weight at all on the woman’s opinion, since, at nearly four hundred years old, she was apparently still unable to control her wings.
Etta glided toward the Council table and curtsied prettily. The assembled gods smiled down at her fondly. The grinding sound returned as I fought an eye roll. How was it the Council couldn’t see the horns sticking out of the woman’s head or the long, forked tail swinging from her pert little buttocks?
Zeus leaned forward, abandoning his gavel for a moment to smile at my arch enemy. “Etta, guardian, you have been selected to accompany Monad Nuria on her mission to Earth. I wish you to observe, help where needed, and report back to me.”
Shit! I turned to Keane, my face heating in anger at this show of distrust.
He frowned and shook his head in disgust.
Etta’s cheeks pinked softly in apparent pleasure. “I…I don’t know what to say, your majesty. I’m honored by your trust…”
Just like that Zeus lost interest in her. He straightened and banged his gavel. I couldn’t see Etta’s face but I could tell by the stiffening of her shoulders that she was not pleased by Zeus’s dismissal in the middle of what had promised to be a truly nauseating and obsequious speech.
Despite my dismay at the fact that Zeus had stuck me with my arch enemy for the mission, I couldn’t stop a mean, little smile as Olympian ADD took the wind out of the monster’s wings.
Then Etta was striding toward me with blood in her eye and my grin slipped away. Shit, damn, and maggot shoes.
I was most certainly headed for the lowest circles of Hell.
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