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Authors: Marcus Wynne

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The Sword of Michael - eARC

BOOK: The Sword of Michael - eARC
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The Sword of Michael - eARC

Marcus Wynne

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Marius Winter doesn’t walk the road of the shaman-warrior alone. He has powerful allies in the Other Realms and in ordinary reality. His spirit guides are a Lakota war-chief and medicine man, First In Front; Tigre, a powerful feminine spirit who appears as a white tiger; and Burt, a spirit raven who channels an old Jewish bookie from the Bronx.

Now Marius is targeted by a powerful sorcerer. In the battle for the souls of his friends and lover, he must storm the gates of the underworld and fight through the Seven Demi-Demons of Hell to the deepest dungeons to confront Belial himself.


No Other Option

Warrior in the Shadows

Brothers in Arms

The Sword of Michael


This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Marcus Wynne

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

A Baen Books Original

Baen Publishing Enterprises

P.O. Box 1403

Riverdale, NY 10471

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3689-1

Cover art by Adam Burn

First Baen printing, November 2014

Distributed by Simon & Schuster

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

Printed in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Chapter 1

The dead man chased me through the graveyard.

My breath rasped in my throat as I ran for my life. With each labored gasp I tasted the Arturo Fuente 858 I’d enjoyed after dinner. It didn’t taste as good coming up as it did going down. I ducked between grave stones and marble monuments like a scared quarterback hustling through a broken field of meth-snorting linemen. The dead man right behind me meant to do more than tackle me; he meant to snuff my life out and roll what was left of me into a hole.

I’d already killed him twice. He hadn’t taken the hint.

Mud splashed up from the soaked grass as I ran. My shirt darkened with sweat and mud and my ponytail beat on my collar.

Trying to stay alive is hard work, but I’ve found that not dying is a great motivation to work hard.

I fumbled a spare magazine into my Glock 19. The antique crystal rosary wrapped around my left hand hindered my usually flawless exchange, but I wasn’t overly worried about technique at this point.

I held the power of Christ in one hand and a 9mm pistol in the other.

The sacred and the profane.

My life in a nutshell.

I dodged sharp left around an ancient concrete mausoleum, the edges melting into the gray of curdled milk. On the other side stood a full-size statue of the Blessed Mother Mary. This was a good place to make my stand. The Holy Mother was one of my patrons. She held me close as she holds all the children of men. She’d once held the man whose body now shambled after me. The decaying flesh no longer held the original soul, now passed into the Light: the shell that pursued me was inhabited with the twisted fury of a dark spirit bound by a sorcerer’s will.

A zombie is hard to stop. The undead flesh is rotting and the nerve ends don’t work. Only the force of will and intention from the dark spirit keeps the body moving. They shamble, they drag, they stumble.

But they never stop and they have incredible strength.

So my Zen koan for the night was “How do you kill the undead?”

The first magazine of 9mm I’d put into the zombie didn’t slow it down. When it first came out of the bushes along the bike path off Nicollet Street, I thought it was a mugger, so I treated it like one. I drew my Glock 19 from my Philly Holster Appendix Rig and put a burst of Hornady Personal Defense into its chest.

The gunfire was loud. If anyone else was out on the moonlit path, the shots would have cleared them away. Five rounds of high-performance 9mm into the upper chest would have gotten a mugger’s attention, according to my gun-fighting mentor Dillon, whose presence I keenly missed right about now.

The lack of effect on the zombie was what he would call a clue.

Another burst of 9mm verified my initial impression.

If not an undead, or some other variety of hostile paranormal, it was a bullet-resistant mugger. So flight was called for. I don’t have the ability to fly in the Middle World, but I can run. If required.

Tonight was such an occasion.

Running isn’t my thing. I consider it pointless pain except when truly necessary. In my normal day running’s not necessary. It also isn’t my style. One thing I’ve learned in my life—and my extended spirit apprenticeship—was that you must face that which you fear.

So I stopped and turned to face it.

And to catch my breath.

The undead had been a big man. Over six feet tall. A broad frame only slightly diminished by his brief stay in the grave. The remains of an expensive dark suit rippled with pulses of the energy that kept dead bones and meat moving. He would have been handsome, with sharp pronounced cheekbones and a square jaw. Now the skin was sallow and pulled taut over the bones. The eyes yellow and red with sorcerous fury. Blackened lips drew back across yellowed teeth in a feral smile.

“Shaman.…” it hissed.

“Yes,” I said. “That would be me.”

The yellowed shirt beneath the dark suit coat leaked fluid from the holes my 9mm had punched in the chest. Center of mass hits don’t mean much when the heart and plumbing in there no longer function. That doesn’t apply to me. I’m a fragile bag of meat and water. The supernatural strength that drove the undead across from me would enable it to choke the life out of me and tear my lifeless form to pieces.

But I knew what I was dealing with.

And I knew what to do.

The rosary wrapped snug around my hand, I held my pistol in a strong Isosceles and carefully aimed my Glock.

“Sword of Michael…” I murmured.

I shot twice. Once in each undead knee.

If they can’t stand, they can’t hurt you. Shattering the leg’s bony structure robbed the creature of its ability to walk. It toppled and before it struck the ground I saw surprised rage pass across the decaying face. It went down as though praying. Then it raised its head, looked at me, and began ripping into the wet manicured sod with clawed fingers.

Two more carefully aimed shots, one for each elbow, brought it to a stop.

It raised its head.

“You’re delaying the inevitable, Marius,” it whispered. “Sooner or later…”

I squatted down. “Who sent you?”

A cackle like branches scraping across the icy glass of a winter’s window.

“So many hate you, Marius. So many grievances…is it someone here, or someone who’s come back, or…?” it said.

“I compel you,” I said.

The dead face twisted. It gagged from a rotting throat.

The voice changed. Sickly sweet words, obscenely feminine: “You cannot compel me, shaman. I am bound to no living flesh…”

I holstered my Glock. I took out a squeeze bottle of Holy Water. I took a deep breath, gathered myself and called upon the Powers of Light.

“Michael, Mighty Archangel, General of the Mighty Warriors of Light on Earth, I call on you for your help…cleanse this flesh of the Dark Forces in the name of Creator God and by the power of Jesus Christ, rebuke this unclean spirit and cast him out of this vessel!” I shouted. I sprayed Holy Water over the undead.

The corpse rippled like a pond in a strong wind. Darkness rose out of it. Black mist on a midnight moor.

“We’ll be back, shaman. We’ll be back…” whispered a disembodied voice.

I continued with the clearing. “Michael and Uriel, Mighty Archangels, I call on you for your help…enclose this spirit in a super bubble of Divine Light, contain it so that it may do no more harm…”

The trees bowed as a wind rose from nowhere. With the vision that is not-vision, the seeing that is not-seeing, the gift of shamanic sight, I saw the dark spirit struggling within a bubble of light, surrounded by the Warriors of Light taking it away—

—And one mighty figure surrounded in blue light paused to look back.

Michael the Archangel. General of the Legions of Light. Protector of the Sons and Daughters of the Light.

He faded away, leaving only the memory of light in the darkness.

I stood. I replaced the rosary in the velvet bag I wore around my neck. Put the Holy Water back in my pocket. The corpse on the ground began to draw in on itself. A bright light in the center of the chest drew it in like a whirlpool of light. Then it was gone.

Faint and far off were distant sirens.

My strength ebbed from me. I spurred myself into a slow jog to the edge of the cemetery. I slowed to a walk on the pavement, cut across the street, and headed for home. I hurried past well tended houses slowly lighting themselves up as my neighbors woke to the dawn.

What a night.

The Dark Forces were back. With a vengeance. And they’d sent an advance party to deal with me.

Chapter 2

My name is Marius Winter. I am a shamanic practitioner. A shaman, though by tradition I can never refer to myself that way. Shaman is a title bestowed by the community I serve. That title is earned through serving the community in the shaman’s roles: ceremonialist, artist, storyteller, healer, warrior, leader and keeper of knowledge. These roles are not sharply defined like a job title in the Middle World. In the shamanic world roles are blurred, defined by Spirit, and there are many shades of gray in the spectrum between the Dark and the Light.

Sometimes, depending on what Spirit brings to your door, some or all of those roles might merge. For instance, a healer may be called upon to be a warrior to provide the service of protecting his community from the attack of dark forces. This is the most dangerous and challenging shamanic work of all.


What some call exorcism.

For a reason known only to the Great Spirit, this is the work that comes to me.

In partnership with the healing spirits, my job is to remove the lost souls of dead humans, spirits, entities, demons and extraterrestrials from those who come to me seeking help. To send those possessing spirits back to where they came from and to be a channel for the healing of those who’d been infested by those forces.

I call myself a depossessionist.

I once had a business card with that title and the motto “I depo…if you don’t pay, I repo…” I ended up getting rid of them because I thought it too pretentious a title and the humor of the motto was lost on my clients.

You need a sense of humor to survive in this business.

Shamans die doing this work. Illness, madness, accidents, heart attacks, violence done to them by the possessed, taken by the Dark Forces…possession. These are the risks. If you’re blessed, very lucky and damn good, you might just live long enough to die of old age in your bed, surrounded by those you’ve loved and those who’ve loved you.

The latter is what I aspire to.

I have an impressive scar collection from the former.

First In Front, my Native American spirit guide, likes to point out that all my scars were on the front of my body. In the Native tradition, that meant I got them by going straight on at my opponents.

I’d like to believe that, but I can recall plenty of times when discretion had proven to be the better part of valor, which is a fancy way of saying I ran like hell.

With hell on my heels.

Did I mention that First In Front is dead? Or passed over, as we depossessionists prefer to say. Speaking to the dead is in my job description, and despite there being a long list of entries in the DSM that cover that particular affliction (and the medications prescribed for it), in the realities I work in it’s just as a real as a book in the hands or on the screen or stacked on the bed stand beside my queen sized bed in my otherwise austere bedroom.

I’d like to say that my mostly empty bedroom was because of my spiritual practice, and that’s part of it, but the larger part had to do with my ever present cash flow crisis, something we practitioners have to deal with since we spend most of our time dealing with non-ordinary reality, in which annoyances like rent, groceries, car payments and child support don’t come into play.

My bedroom: one queen sized bed with a carved oaken headboard done in Celtic imagery of the Horned God and the Goddess. A beautiful altar on a small table of carved rosewood holding candles, Native American fetishes, a few crystals, the power-phernalia that a shamanic practitioner accumulates. On the wall, a drum and a rattle, the tools of the wandering shaman.

Have drum, will travel, I like to say.

The only other thing on the wall was a carved wooden cross with the World Tree on it, a gift to me from the most beautiful woman in my world, my lover Jolene.

Jolene, Jolene…

And me, sprawled beneath several layers, because even in the warmest nights of summer in Minneapolis I get cold. I don’t have much intestinal tract left and the crisscross of scars across my belly and chest tell a grim tale to anyone familiar with edged weapon violence; losing so much of my guts messed up my internal thermostat so most often I feel cold.

It can also be the presence of spirits.

The presence of my familiar spirit guides and the compassionate and helping spirits leave me feeling warmed; the presence of less friendly spirits leave me feeling chilled. I sat up on the edge of the bed and did my thrice-daily shielding exercises, a legacy of the Atlanteans: cup my hand at the base of spine on the sacrum and call for the Universal Force for Clearing; seal the soul gate at the base of my skull with my thumb and extend the blue energy of the Archangel Ebernox over my entire body; take my hand over my sternum and channel the essence of platinum, gold, silver, the light of the rainbows, the colors of earth…and for those not from this planet, the compassionate Star Beings, the colors of their home world. I felt warmth return to me as the energy shields cocooned me in their protection.

Then I picked up the loaded Glock 19 and slid it into the lock box beneath my bed.

In my world, I have to deal with a full range of threats, from dangerous spirits to equally dangerous humans.

And now I was ready to start my day. I went downstairs into my front room, turned on the MacBook to download my e-mail, checked my voicemail (nothing) and padded barefoot into the kitchen to brew a single cup of perfect coffee in my Keurig coffeemaker. I watched the coffee decant into a blue china mug with the image of the Horned Man and the Sun God painted on it. The free organic Sumatran was thickly scented and black with a faint sheen of oil on the surface.


I took my coffee out onto my porch, eased myself into an old rattan chair with a thick cushion, and watched the park wake up. I consider the greenways of the park across the street an extension of my front lawn. At this time of the morning, in late spring, the air is fresh and clean and it’s one of my morning pleasures to watch the early joggers and walkers circle the park, while a group of falun dafa practitioners train under the shade of the big oak trees.

I took a long slow sip of the Sumatran.

Life is good.

I checked the waiting room, which is a special crystal I keep on my porch, blessed and charged with the Divine Light of Creator God. It attracts spirits. I attract them as well, which is why I have a waiting room, so that those spirits who seek me out for help can stay within, drawn by the Light they want to return to, till it’s time for me work with them and help them cross over into the Light. Those of us who guide the dead or work with the spirits are like beacons in the dark; the more we do the Work, the brighter our personal Light becomes, and we draw…things.

Lost spirits looking for help. Curious elementals. Confused dead humans. Spirits of natures.

Dark Workers, demons, and the occasional vampire, werewolf and possessed human as well.

I rubbed the scar tissue on my belly where one such possessed human had opened me like a bag of groceries with a big knife. That was a long time ago and I’d learned well that particular lesson about the dangers of The Work. I live and work in two worlds simultaneously, the Seen and the Unseen, and both worlds have their own dangers.

In one, you can lose your soul. Or your mind.

In the other, you can lose your life. Or your mind.

You pays your fee and you takes your chances.

Or words to that effect.

One thing for sure, being a crazy magnet makes you appreciate the fine things in life, like good coffee and a little peace and quiet early in the morning. I wanted to linger in that, but today I needed to deal with the issues of ordinary reality like house payment, groceries, renewing my work consumables (white sage, sea salt, holy water, sweet grass, olive oil and some other unguents) and the small budget I set aside for simple pleasures like movies, Arturo Fuente 858s and a bottle of Bushmills Single Malt.

I needed some income. I used to have a regular job. But when Spirit calls you, it calls you hard. I’d left that job and a steady income behind me on the Path.

“Your needs will be met,” First In Front said.

My spirit guide perched comfortably in the rattan chair beside me. He’s a tough looking man, as suits a Lakota Sioux war chief and medicine man, tall with a hawk nose and flat slab cheeks, warm brown eyes that can sharpen and narrow like a bird of prey as it strikes.

“What about my wants?” I said.

He laughed. “Put your intention out there. What you seek will come to you.”

“I seek some income.”

“You’re in the wrong business, white man.”

“I could raise my prices.”

He shrugged. “I took horses.”

“You also took scalps.”

He nodded in agreement. “There is that. You should try it sometime. Use that big knife I sent you.”

He had sent me a knife as a gift. In the way of spirit guides he’d led me to an old antique shop in a little town called Arthur, an Amish community in central Illinois, when I’d been on a road trip. I’d gone into the shop just as an old farmer unloaded a box of junk he’d found in his grandfather’s attic. In the box there’d been a big knife, a trade knife, in a beaded sheath. I took it home for a whole twenty-five bucks. It took a razor’s edge after I’d oiled and honed it up. The knife hung on the wall in my healing room.

“I like that knife,” I said. “I owe you one or two. Smoke?”

He smiled.

I went inside and fetched my last Arturo Fuente 858 from the humidor on the coffee table. When I came back he smiled in anticipation. I clipped the end, struck a wooden match and carefully fired the cigar. It’s an extravagant indulgence to smoke my last cigar first thing in the morning, but I’ve always had a problem with delaying gratification and since spirits—especially spirit guides of the Native American persuasion—love tobacco, this was the perfect opportunity to thank my friend with the gift of smoke on a fine morning.

I puffed the cigar into life and blew smoke to the four directions.

“I thank the Powers of the East, the North, the West, and the South. I thank the mighty Archangels Michael, Uriel, Raphael and Gabriel, you who stand at the four corners of the Creator’s throne, you who stand at the four corners of the World. I thank the Great Spirit Above, Below and Within…”

I blew the smoke towards First In Front. The blue smoke covered him in the chair. He leaned forward and inhaled deeply.

He smiled. “Thank you, my friend.”

“Most welcome, brother,” I said.

He disappeared, leaving an eddy in the blue smoke.

Spirit guides are apt to do that.

I finished my smoke, an enjoyable forty minutes or so, and then went in and checked my e-mail. The first in my priority queue was from Jolene, the love of my life. It was a photo of a beautiful Asian woman, naked, bound tight in white cords tied in elaborate knots, gagged with a beautifully folded white linen scarf. The Subject line said: “Do you like this? I do…”

Nothing else.

That’s Jolene.

I saved that one.

I deleted the spam which offered to extend my penis or sustain my erection or order pharmaceuticals from Canada or buy discount jewelry. My friend Louise asked me to come give a class on Basic Shamanic Journeying—that would be a few dollars in the cigar and whiskey fund—and a message from a colleague in the Chicago suburbs asking if I was free to consult on a difficult case she had going. There was a note from a potential client who’d seen an article about me in the
. I sent her a brief reply with my phone number and went on through the queue. I found an interesting one from my friend Troy who ran the American Ghost Society in Decatur, Illinois—one of the darkest and most haunted cities in the US—asking if I’d like to tag along with him on a ghost investigation. It would appear on the Discovery Channel and be a nice promotional effort for us.

Not that my practice needed that, nor did I particularly want to promote it. Like everything in the Middle World and the Other Realms, the ebb and flow of business—though I don’t think of my practice as a business—was dictated by Spirit. I’m accustomed to periods of frenetic activity in between the slack time when I had no clients, no classes to teach, and nothing but time on my hands. I take those times as blessings, as well as an opportunity to cultivate patience, and trust in the Creator to see that my needs were met.

But I was low on Bushmills, out of cigars, and down to leftovers in the fridge. So maybe it was time to pray and remind the spirits that in the Middle World we mortals needed to eat, and that required cash for groceries.

The phone rang.

I laughed. See how intention works?

I looked at the Caller ID. A local number but not known to me.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hi,” a woman’s voice said. “Is this Marius Winter?”

“That would be me.”

“I’m Maryka Owen, I just e-mailed you about a consultation?”

“Hi Maryka. That was fast!”

A pause. “I’d like to see you as soon as I can.”

I looked at the last short stub of my cigar fuming down into the gray of ash.

“How ’bout right now?”

BOOK: The Sword of Michael - eARC
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