With his planet under attack by the Moracci, and a strange virus devouring his people by the droves, healer scientist Chesterfield Tombre knows he must find a cure for the dreaded plague. Yet with a sinister boss running the Office of Federal Health and a planet slowly crumbling away, Chesterfield has limited resources and nowhere to turn.
Winterian Guard Donacio Floresia can’t get the gorgeous healer scientist he saw on an informational broadcast out of his head. For a week he’s played the recording over and over, telling himself he really just cares about the man’s cause. When he realizes the Office of Federal Health is about to be destroyed, and possibly the gorgeous healer with it, Donacio knows what he must do.
Donacio finds himself pledging his Oath of Loyalty to Chesterfield and sweeping him away to a mountainous fortress. Although they escape the burning city, will there be time to find a cure and stop the Moracci, or will everything fall apart that lies beneath a Winterian Sky?
“Climb on my MRV,” the man said.
“I don’t even know who you are,” Chesterfield answered.
“I am a Guard of Winteria.”
“Great. So are you loyal to the Chancellor? Are you bringing me to some office where they can destroy my work?”
The man laughed. “I can’t stand the Chancellor.”
“And of course you would tell me if your plan was to imprison me,” Chesterfield said sarcastically.
The man wore a sword on his back. He withdrew it from his sheath, and moved toward Chesterfield. When he was several feet in front to Chesterfield, he bent down on his left knee and raised the sword with his right arm so that it was pointing diagonally upward, only inches away from Chesterfield’s body. The man looked Chesterfield in the eye and began to speak.
“I am Donacio Floresia, a Guard of Winteria. I pledge my allegiance to you, Healer Chesterfield Tombre. By the Moons that encircle us now, by the Sun that keeps us warm in the darkest of winters, by the gods who guide us on our paths, I swear my heart, my soul, my life to your protection. I stand between you and harm until my dying day.”
Chesterfield gazed at the man on the ground in front of him. He had looked directly into Chesterfield’s eyes the entire time he spoke, and for the life of him, even though he was now done speaking, Chesterfield could not break that eye contact. There was something truthful, about his eyes, something Chesterfield knew that he could trust, but the whole thing seemed ridiculous.
Like all Winterians, Chesterfield had grown up hearing stories of the oath the Guards had taken, and he had even seen the Guards of Winteria take the Oath of Loyalty to an individual or a cause, but that had always been on information society broadcasts, and the Oath had been said to political or humanitarian leaders, and sometimes to a cause. It was said to important people. He finally spoke.
“Why are you saying this to me?” he asked of the man whose name he now knew to be Doancio. “I’m not a celebrity or some sort of hero.”
A smile crossed Donacio’s face as he began to speak. “As you must know, Guards of Winteria are able to take the Oath of Loyalty to anyone they please. Our allegiance is to Winteria, and if there is a person, a group of people, or a cause, that we believe will benefit Winteria, then our consciences allow us to make this oath. We are advised to only make this Oath twice in our lives, once to Winteria, and once to the person, group, or cause we feel serves our planet best. This helps ensure that our loyalties are not divided. I have only taken the Oath to Winteria, so now, I take it with a free conscience. You are a vital asset to our planet right now, Healer Tombre, and one of our only hopes. Others see this, but they are not in a position to help. We live in a world right now that is full of fear. It is your fearlessness in the face of this danger, and your humility in your work, that make you heroic to me, Healer Tombre. For these reasons, will you accept my Oath of Loyalty?”