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Authors: M.J. Stevens

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Bound (The Guardians)

BOOK: Bound (The Guardians)
5.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


By M.J. Stevens


Copyright © 2014 M.J. Stevens

All rights reserved


First published in Australia 2014 by



The right of M.J.Stevens to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her under the
Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.

This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the
Copyright Act 1968,
no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, recorded or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.





Cover design by KILA Designs


To Ruth, because you were the one person who didn’t ask me to dedicate this book to them.


‘No good deed ever goes unpunished, Mellea.’

That was the answer my father gave me when I was seven, the day I asked why we had to move away. That was the answer he continued to give me each time we had to leave again.

My mother kneels down and keeps telling me everything is all right. She puts what little I have in yet another box. I say to her that I don’t want to move anymore. I beg them to let me stay. I like my school and my friends. But they don’t hear me.

The room quickly starts to feel smaller.

All of my belongings twist into a dark void. My parents are gone. I’m left in darkness.

I call out, but they don’t answer. I’m slipping into the black abyss, my body hurts as I try and grab onto anything for support.

No! Please, I don’t want to be all alone! I’m scared!

My eyes fling open and my torso hurls forward. I’m in my single bed, a thin sheet lies over my legs and my forehead is damp with sweat. I try to shake off the nightmare by rubbing my eyes with my fingertips. I notice the small clock sitting on my bedside table says there is one minute until my alarm. I reach over and stop it before it starts.

I drowsily glance around my bedroom, soaking up my last free minute before I have to rise. This space is too small for a young lady who is nearly eighteen.

I only have three pieces of furniture, a bed, a side table and a bookshelf. The shelf has only a handful of titles on it, none of them given to me new. My clothes live in a plastic basket on the floor and my shoes – right next to it. I emerge from my bed and stumble out the door.

I walk around the corner to the bathroom. The timber floorboards, brown and unpolished, creak with every step.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow… every day is the same. I do the same thing, see the same people, eat the same food and come back to the same house. Some people, I guess, might enjoy mind-numbing predictability.

But I hate my life, because I know deep down, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

When I finished high school last year, I thought I had everything planned out. I was brimming with enthusiasm, the kind you only find in newly turned seventeen year olds. I was going to apply to university, study and get out of this dingy little town. I was supposed to be waking up in a dorm, drinking hot beverages and poring over books in preparation for exams.

But those dreams ended with letters all starting with the same sentence,
‘We regret to inform you that in this instance you have been unsuccessful…’

So I did what any normal person would do.

I cried, ate bad food and then secretly downed a whole bottle of alcohol, passing out on my best friend’s kitchen floor. Fortunately, after frying a few brain cells, I was able to see the light. It wasn’t over. I just had to create a new way to get to my dream.

I currently work as a store clerk, an hour and a half commute away in the biggest and most lavish metropolis in Selestia, Poridos City. The funds that I earn from this job are split in two ways, living money and savings. The goal is to save enough for a full-year’s tuition at a local community school. The study credits from there will shadow my mediocre high school grades and allow me admission to university.

Standing at the bathroom sink I turn the hot faucet. I wait. After a few seconds of air coming through the pipes, water flows and I can wash my face. As I pull a towel off the nearby holder, I hear a loud snap. The barely hanging rack has made another crack in the yellow stained walls.

I see my blank expression in the mirror. I’m not in the least bit shocked.

My whole house, how should I put this, well… it’s a crap shack, an abysmal hole on the edge of a dodgy town. Everything around here is busted, even the floors. In winter they’re so freezing cold they burn the soles of your bare feet. In summer they’re sticky and pop with the adjusting temperatures.

This house has two levels. Upstairs consists of two cramped bedrooms, a tiny kitchen and bathroom too small for three adults.

There’s also only one toilet and it’s housed in the bathroom as well. I can’t remember the last shower I had that wasn’t accompanied by my father’s fist drumming loud beats on the door.

The bottom level is completely occupied by my father’s mechanic garage at one end, and my mother’s art studio at the other. Neither one of my parents likes me lingering in their workspaces too long. It really leaves nowhere for me to go, except maybe out into the large, dry grassed yard. You know, with the hot sun, insects and creepy crawlies.

I head out of the bathroom and towards the kitchen to make breakfast. My father sits at the small dinner table, reading the newspaper. I slide around the back of him and put the kettle on the stove. I don’t bother to tell him about the new crack in the bathroom wall. He doesn’t like me “moaning” about something else in the house that’s broken. Besides, he probably heard it.

As I wait for the water to boil, I glance over Da’s shoulder. I lean in closer and closer. He’s scanning an article about the royal family of Selestia, the Guardians.

The Guardians’ are the ruling family, chosen by the spirits, who make our laws and are seen as the mortal embodiment of the spirits that guide us. I can see why. Their lineage extends back further than the history books can date, through wars and hardships they have remained in power. Those who believe in the strongest global faith, Livolism, say that the Montarus family was chosen by the hallowed spirits and that they’re blessed with
sacred powers

The Guardians live in the same place I work, Poridos City. Their “home” is a grand, three-pillar crystal building that sits on a hill just outside of the city. The article Da reads is about the oldest Successor, one of the children of the current Guardians and, in this case, the next Lord Guardian of Selestia.

The Successor is in his mid-twenties and recently united with a young woman, the future Lady Guardian. I catch a glimpse of the name Arin Montarus and a picture in black and white.

My father quickly notices my staring. He flips the paper over, blocking my view. I scrunch my face. My father
the Guardians and constantly stops me from learning more about them wherever possible. He even dislikes me working in Poridos, afraid I will become royal-crazy like most residents there. I have no idea why he hates them. But I do know it’s getting frustrating.

I stir my cup of tea, make some breakfast and sit down across from Da. I place my plate, holding bread with jam smeared on it, down on the plastic covered table. My father continues to read the story, but is now holding the newspaper up so I can’t see at all.

‘Can I have that when you’re done?’ I ask, pointing at the paper.

Da shakes his head, still reading.

I moan, ‘Oh c’mon! You can’t hide them from me forever. Besides, I know that you’ve met them before. It was before I was born. What were they like? I hear they all have these amazing blue eyes. What about all those myths about them being magic?’

‘No one is magic,’ Da says with a sigh. ‘Don’t ask me to tell you about them again, Mellea. Yeah, I met them once and it was

I don’t understand what could be so horrible that he refuses to speak about it with me, even now I’m older. He didn’t even tell me himself he’d met them. About a year ago I found an old, browned photo of Da and he was forced to explain it.

The picture was from his days as a water miner. It showed him kneeling in front of his team in working gear, alongside a well-dressed young man with blond hair. The picture was taken outside the Guardian’s Tower. I’m sure that man is now our current Lord Guardian, Neros Montarus.

Father goes back to reading. Whilst he does, he mumbles, ‘The Guardians…they’re built on nothing but corruption, blood and slavery...’

I pick up my bread and start chewing on it. I can feel myself staring at him with squinted eyes.

What’s that comment supposed to mean? I think Da is over exaggerating.

I hear footsteps coming up the front stairs. I twist my head towards the door. It opens with a hard push, the moisture in the air causing the wood to swell. It’s my mother. She slides in with a painting on a canvas before her. She’s an artist, a very good one. She paints mostly and enjoys outdoor settings as her main inspiration.

‘Another one? You’ve gotten so many orders lately. Your studio under the house is packed,’ I comment with a mouth full of bread.

My mother smiles at me. ‘I know! We’re paying our electricity bill
on time
this month!’ she says with a quick arm dance.

‘Good, I’ve run out of candles.’

It’s a joke, but I’m also partly serious. It’s rare for us to not be overdue payments on
utility. We’ve even had things shut off completely. A few years back I had to take a week off school to pick fruit, the extra money went into our food account so Momma and Da could focus on getting the hot water back. It was a long, cold month.

Momma puts the painting down and heads to the sink, making her own cup of tea. I swallow another bite of my toast and sip my drink.

I watch Momma lean over Da’s shoulder, the same way I did. Swiftly she lunges over him, slamming her hand down on the page.

‘Noran, stop!’ she warns strongly.

I stare at the two; another bite of jam-soaked bread hangs from my mouth.

Da says, ‘Take your hand off the page, Kelisa-bey.’

I gulp. When my father calls her by her proper name, not Kel, something bad is coming.

‘No,’ Momma replies sternly. ‘Reading about the Guardians, their Successor children or anything about them is
off limits
in this house. It upsets you too much. You know this!’

Father glances at her. ‘Successor Arin has turned twenty-six and united with his new bride. He’s now officially in line to be the next Lord Guardian. Not to mention the other two siblings who are waiting in the wings for a possible chance to rule. We have to keep an eye on them so we can fight against them!’

‘Stop it!’ she cries. ‘You’re a small town mechanic. I’m an artist. Mellea is a young woman starting her life. We’re not anti-Guardian assassins. We don’t need to bother ourselves taking on extra stress from people we can do nothing about.’

Da thumps the table with one hand. ‘Why don’t you understand? After everything that I’ve told you about them, after I was forced to give up my career because of a stupid mistake, why can’t you see the reasons behind my actions?’

Momma replies, ‘I do see. But you could have been more. You could have kept going as a water miner. We could have kept our home in Poridos City and pushed on. But you gave up and sunk into your own little world. Now we’re broke and living in the sticks. For spirit’s sake, we can’t even afford to pay our own daughter’s tuition!’ she yells back in his face.

That comment, it makes my father explode with rage. He stands up and the two continue to have a screaming match before me. It becomes a blur of angry faces, pointing fingers and loud voices. Unable to stand it, I bolt from the table. I quickly put on my work uniform, white shirt and black pants. I snatch up my bag, bolt though the kitchen and down the front steps.

BOOK: Bound (The Guardians)
5.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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