|Mystic Protectors |
|Kathi S. Barton|
|World Castle Publishing, LLC (2014)|
His love for her was forbidden…
Riss has been around since the beginning of time and watching his charges be born, grow up, and die has taken a toll on him. Until lately, being a Protector has always been enough… The Archangel Michael, Riss’s mentor and superior, decides with the help of their “Boss” to change things up a bit―like the rest, he doesn’t want to lose one of his best Protectors. Riss is assigned to guide and protect Kala. Riss is not happy about the changes and hopes this is his last assignment as a Protector before he can quit and live his last year on Earth and die.
She has nothing left to lose―except her life…
Kala has lost everything: her family as a child, her job, and now her apartment. She is also having weird dreams that she can’t quite remember…dreams revolving around a single white feather. Kala’s sexual fascination with the feather brings forth the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen―Riss. He came for his feather―he can feel everything she does with it throughout his body.
Sex with a human is forbidden and Riss has never even considered it―until now.
A madman, suffering from a delusional fantasy, has set his sights on Kala. He has already killed and will kill again. She will be his or suffer the consequences…
And Riss has been forbidden to interfere…
Mystic Protectors Series
Kathi S. Barton
World Castle Publishing, LLC
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author
’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
World Castle Publishing, LLC
Copyright © Kathi S. Barton 2014
First Edition World Castle Publishing
, LLC, February 14, 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
Cover: Karen Fuller
Michael moved down the hall toward the office. He knew that the other protectors hated to be summoned to this particular office, but he didn
’t mind. He loved going in and conversing with the creator of all things. Boss, as He wanted everyone to call Him, as it sounded so much friendlier, was a man of men. A kind yet firm man and one who could change things in a beat of a hummingbird’s heartbeat. Michael paused in mid-step.
He was going to change things again. Things were running very smoothly right now, and he
’d want to shake things up a bit. Michael tried to think what it could possibly be and looked up when someone laughed.
I was thinking.” Boss nodded. “Am I going to regret coming here today?”
Possibly. And I know you were thinking. I heard. You think much too hard for a man who has it all.” Michael snorted, a habit he’d been trying to break himself of. “You think I would lie to you?”
Nay. I think you believe whatever you wish will be wonderfully simple when it seldom is.” Boss moved back into the room He’d come from, and Michael followed. The walls were covered with images of the protectors.
Protectors had long since been the ones who helped Boss in His daily work. A chosen man or woman would be given the assignment to watch over a child when they took their first breath. They never interfered with the person but whispered advice, gave them guidance, and when the time was right, they would be there with them when they drew in their last breath as well.
“I do wish to change things. But not for all of my protectors—just a few.” Michael sat down knowing that he’d have to carry out these duties no matter what they were. “You have noticed that they are…unhappy?”
I have. But it’s happened before. They are bored. The last time this happened we gave them a few days to interact on earth and they were happier for it.” Boss shook His head. “You do not want that again.”
They wish to leave me.” Michael sat there stunned. He’d not heard that. But he knew to leave here would mean— “I don’t want that to happen.”
No, nor do I. Who is it? Maybe I can talk to them.” Boss shook His head again. “You don’t mean to kill them, do you? I know that is the way of things. When a servant is ready to end their time as a protector, they are sentenced to…please tell me of your plan.”
I wish to have them…Perhaps it would be best if I showed you what I have in mind.” The wall took another shape and images, a great many of them started to move. And the faster they moved, the more movie-like they became. Twice Michael had asked him to slow down, and after he explained it to him, it moved on. Michael sat there for a long while after the movie stopped and stared at the images of the few men he’d seen there.
They will not be happy.” Michael looked at Boss when He didn’t say anything. “Nor will Tholan. He will believe that he is not worthy of such a gift.”
He will be the hardest to convince, yes, but if we deal with him later, then perhaps he will see it is not such a bad thing to have happen to him.” Michael doubted that. Tholan had a weight on his heart that no one seemed able to help him with. “I would like to start with these five men before Tholan. I want…do you think you could help me get this started?”
When would you like for this to happen?” Michael was looking over the files when he realized he’d not been answered. “You have already started this, haven’t you?”
I thought it best that we do some arranging to make sure that the other half of my project was well within hand for us.” Boss laughed. “Do not look so crestfallen, Michael. The new group, my Mystics, will be a greater force than we ever imagined.”
They worked well into the night, and when Michael left his office, Boss was smiling. He would be, too, if he wasn
’t so worried about Tholan. The man… Well, that would be something they’d deal with at a later time. But now he had to give the list of men to him and hope that he didn’t ask too many questions.
It is going to be a long time before we will be able to say this worked.” Michael heard Boss laugh and flushed. “You should come with me. He will have a fit.”
Nay, he will not. He is a good man. But a man who feels he has failed many. You’ll do fine.” Boss laughed again. “You are the Archangel Michael, men tremble at the sound of your name.”
Today was a big day. Today his charge was to go into the hospital and finish with her life
as she knew it there on earth. Riss was to take her to the holding station where she’d meet him for the first time in person. He was both happy for her and sad; happy that her pain and suffering would end, but saddened by the fact that she’d move on and he’d be assigned another child to watch over until his or her death.
as headed to earth when he felt the Summoning Mist call for him. His first thought was that he was being brought before the judgment panel again. Then he realized he’d been very good the last couple of hundred years and really had nothing to worry about. He turned to the one who’d come for him.
I need to be with Sadie, it’s her final day. I need to be with her to guide her here. Can this not wait until later?”
No, my lord, you are needed now. I was told to tell you to come posthaste.” Riss nodded, thinking how much he disliked the disembodied mists…they were so single-minded. Riss tried to reason with the mist.
Shall I send another to be with her? She’ll be afraid.” Again the mist shook his head and Riss had no choice but to follow.
Someone has been sent.” Wanting to argue but holding back, Riss made his way to the upper floors of the offices behind the mist. Someday he was going to stick his hand through one of them to see if they could feel it. He concentrated on this rather than trying to figure out why he’d been summoned on such a day as this.
wasn’t thrilled to be there. Things hadn’t been the same for him in a very long time, and this was just another thing on his long list. It wasn’t as if he hated his job. He actually loved it, but he was tired. And when he was tired, he tended to get himself into trouble. Again. And being called to the upper levels meant he was indeed in trouble again. Riss wasn’t a typical guardian. He was one of the ones that would argue when something just didn’t set right. Smiling, he realized he loved that part of his job most of all.
Riss had been a guardian for as long as there had been humans
to watch over. He supposed he should feel honored to be the one to watch over and guide a human to their afterlife. But if he was honest with himself—and really, he had no choice in that area—he had been thinking of quitting…a drastic move for one such as himself. Thousands of years of watching babies grow up and experience things he never would, only to see them eventually die, was taking its toll on him…a few of his brethren as well.
The doors slid open as soon as he came to the one he
’d been called to. Tholan, direct supervisor and his good friend, stood up, but he did not look happy.
If you pop an attitude with me, I’m not going to be happy. Talking to you right now is not on my top fifteen list. There are too many issues right now for me to have to argue with you.” It was a fib, and they both knew it. Tholan lived to argue almost as much as Riss did, and Riss was really good at baiting him into one but wasn’t in the mood as Tholan continued. “Please have a seat, and I’ll tell you why you were sent for. Oh, and I sent Levi to be with your charge. She’s in good hands. “
But not mine.” Tholan nodded but didn’t say anything. “It’s cop an attitude, not pop, and it’s top ten, not fifteen. You need to interact more with humans. They’re fun. Most of the time. And when they’re not…well, then they’re not. Sorry, so why am I here? You have to give me my month before you give me another assignment. I’m too tired, and I need it.”
We’re changing things. It just came down to me this morning. You’re the first I’m telling about it. “ Riss stilled. While he was okay with changes, Tholan’s tone didn’t make Riss think it was a good one. While a thousand and one things ran through his mind, Tholan answered a call from someone.
Change. What could be so monumental that he
’d be pulled from his assignment on the last day to be told about it? Were they going to demote him? He had no idea why that popped into his head, but he hoped not. The thought of being an animal watcher again made his skin crawl. They were okay for a few weeks, but for the most part, they didn’t interact like humans did. And they didn’t make him smile. He thought maybe he’d rather be assigned to a desk than be an animal watcher. Anything was better than watching a—
Riss?” Riss looked at him, feeling the world crash down upon him. “It’s not nearly as bad as what’s going through your mind right now. Trust me.”
I’d rather be assigned desk duty than animal watcher. The last time I did that…well over half my life ago…I had a worm. A single worm. They live for years and do nothing but dig and poop. No, whatever it is, I don’t want it. Put me in receiving. I’ll inventory feathers if you want, but please don’t give me another worm. Or better yet, I wish to quit. Now.” Riss flushed when Tholan laughed. “You’ve been at a desk your entire time here, haven’t you? You can’t imagine what it’s like serving animals.”
The Boss has decided to make it so we are not with a single human from birth to death. He’s found out that it’s as hard on us as it is Him. And we’re not connected like He is.” Riss doubted that was true but kept his mouth shut. “You, Agon, and Valyn will be the first to take this new system. Sort of help us work out the bugs. As it stands now, you’ll each stay with a group we’ve handpicked for this project and stay with them for a period of no more than ninety days before you’ll go to one more in the group of humans. Each of you will rotate in an order that has been handed down to me. We’re hoping…well, they are hoping…that over the long run, you’ll attach less emotion to a single person.”
No, we’ll be attached to several of them at once. I don’t want to work out bugs. This is a stupid idea.” Tholan raised a brow at him. “Well it is. I’m not cut out to take on more than one person at a time. Having to live a lifetime with one person is hard enough, but taking on several at a time is too much. You have to let me end this now.”
It’s a done deal, Riss. You start next week.” Riss sat there for several seconds before he got up. “Sit down, I need to give you details.”
I can’t do details right now. I have to…I’ll come back, but right now I have to get out of here. Give me…please give me a few days. I need to have this.” Tholan nodded, and Riss left the office.
Riss was in his room when he realized he was going to have to do this and no amount of trying to think otherwise was going to work.
To have to spread himself around like this was going to take its toll on him, and he was so afraid of what would happen. Riss knew he was close to the edge now, and he didn’t want to end things that way. He was already stressed out, and this wasn’t going to be helpful. Lying on his bed, he looked up at the ceiling and thought of his life as a protector.
Michael had picked him for the job so long ago that
now he often wondered if it had been real. But the tattoo, the seal of Michael, was there on his arm for anyone to see. Up until recently he’d worn it proudly. Now…now he just wanted to rest.
You’ve never expressed such a desire before.”
Riss didn’t bother looking for the man who spoke. He wasn’t really in the room with him but always in the back of his mind. Michael was his good friend too. So many were.
I’ve never been this burnt out before. When was the last time you were on earth? Things have gotten insane there.”
Riss rolled to his side to look out the window as he continued.
“When I was there the other day, five children were killed in an automobile accident that also injured two adults. Things move entirely too fast for us. We’ve no way to control things.”
Stop your whining.”
Riss smiled when Michael snapped at him. He said that to him every few weeks just to get a rise out of him.
“You should have to work with me. One day and I’d bet you’d beg to be put back on protector duty. My job sucks too.”
Riss waited before saying anything more. He had been thinking about this for a while now and wanted to bounce it off someone
else because Tholan had ignored him so soundly. Finding someone he could talk to that wouldn’t condemn him was hard.
I want to quit.”
Riss got up and moved to the large window in his room. It was one of the perks of being so old. He got to have one of the best rooms with the most gorgeous views. His view right now was of earth in the winter. The snow falling on a large open field was beautiful.
“I tried my best to tell Tholan that I really wish to turn in my wings. Then I want to finish my year that I’ll have left on earth to die.”
Please don’t do that. Maybe we can work something else out. Is this because of the changes that are being made? I think that they’ll help you. You’ll not have to be with someone for their entire life. You can see many stages of life for a good deal more people at once.”
And see them all die instead of one every few decades.”
Riss opened his outside door and stepped out into the falling snow. It crunched under his feet, and the flakes landed on his face only to melt into tear-like drops.
“No, I’ve thought about this before I was told today. I’ve been feeling this way for many years, more than I should.”
Let me talk to someone. I don’t want to lose you. You’re my best protector.”
Riss snorted, a habit he’d picked up years ago from Sadie. His heart hurt for her too, and that he’d not been there to bring her home. When Michael appeared before him, Riss wasn’t really surprised. And when he sat down on the snow-covered bench, Riss sat beside him.
You’re serious about this?” Riss looked at him when he asked. Was he? Yes, he was, more so than he’d been about a great many things.
I am. I know that once I turn in my wings, I’ll only have a year in which to get my affairs in order, but there is nothing really that I have. I’ve never had the desire to have a home on earth, never owned anything remotely human before, and when my charges come over, I’ve rarely taken anything that I’ve thought of to remember them by. I have enough memories as it is.” Riss looked at Michael. “I’m tired.”
Then I will make some enquires. Let me have a few weeks to get things working, and once I do, then you may talk to Tholan with me.” Michael put out his hand, and Riss stared at it for long moments. “You must take it, Riss. We have struck a deal.”
Riss looked at him then.
“You’ll not put me off then? You’ll honestly look into this for me? I think now that I’ve said it aloud I want it more than ever.”
I will. You have my word that I will make arrangements to have your life as a protector ended. I will do this, to you I swear it.” Riss took his hand and felt the power of it go through him. Michael was one of the most powerful beings he knew and could kill a lesser man with just a touch. Riss thought he’d miss him the most of all the people he knew.
Tholan watched the exchange between the two men. His heart hurt for them both. Riss, because the man was really going to do this, and for Michael, because he hated to lose anyone close to him. Tholan looked at their boss, who stood next to him, and wondered what He would do now. They’d been watching Riss and Michael together since Michael had called them into the conversation.
He’ll be greatly missed.” Tholan felt his world shift. He hadn’t expected that the man would agree to Riss leaving. But this man was the lord of all of them, and His word would never be challenged. “I will talk with Michael. We’ll give him a sendoff he will appreciate, I think.”
You’re going to take his resignation then?” He nodded at Tholan. “He’s my friend, and he’s been with you since the beginning. I think…I don’t want him to die. We cannot afford to lose men like him. Yes, he has his problems, but for the most part he’s the best we have in the field. Perhaps we could give him something that would—”
And you’re going to question me?” Tholan felt the thunder of His words and lowered his head. “I know what I’m doing, Tholan, and I know what a good friend Riss is to many. What I do not know is why he has not spoken to the others about this. Mayhap they could have helped him. Did you know that he was so tired?”
No, sir. I did not. He only said something to me today when I tried to talk to him about the changes that you’d made. I felt he wasn’t serious. Apparently I was incorrect. Riss was most upset with the changes, but not enough, I thought, to quit us. I had no idea that he was contemplating this as well, to die.” He nodded, and Tholan continued. “I should like to speak to him if possible.”
Nay, there will be no need. I will handle this with Michael. If we see fit, I’ll let you know what our decisions will be. He may come to you. Then you could speak to him, but do not tell him we have talked. I’d be very happy if you would keep him in the rotations as well. Riss may decide to change his mind.” Tholan nodded again and knew that the conversation was over. The room was dimmer by many degrees, and he didn’t feel the warmth of Him any longer. Tholan was alone once again
Watching Riss sit in the snow as it covered the tracks that had been
, he wondered what would be said if he told them he, too, was burnt out. Tholan only stayed because he knew that he was needed. But his joy for the job had gone away some time ago. He went back to his desk to set up the rotation. Writing Riss’s name across the schedule hurt him. Tholan knew that before this decade was finished, he’d be finding someone to replace his good friend.