There are eight Guardians of the Watchtowers of the Winds, four males and four females, who balance the flow of energy between worlds and keep the universe in balance. Ellen Groves was one of those eight Guardians, and with Ellen gone the universe is now badly out of balance. Each of the Watchtowers, vortexes of energy that control ley lines flowing from sacred sites around the world, are being attacked by someone who understands the principles of alchemy and magic and seeks ultimate power. The sacred circle in the center of the old-growth forest on Ellen’s property is the only vortex with enough power left to balance polarity, but to restore that balance at least two male and two female Guardians must allow their spirits to fuse inside the sacred circle. Sheila Ryan awakens from a coma to discover she remembers past lives. Sheila and Tom Groves, Ellen’s son, have been inextricably linked together through time and now they must rekindle their passion and recall a love that transcends time and space if they hope to save the universe from an ancient evil who has never known the meaning of love.
Author: Paul Dale Anderson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Themes: Powerful forces are at constantly at work, deliberately hidden from everyday perception, that control human lives; When certain men and women meet, magic happens; We all live many lives, some remembered and some forgotten
Words: Approximately 120,000
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Sean McMichaels is assigned to investigate the brutal murder of Ellen Groves, the 64-year-old mother of U. S. Army Ranger Major Tom Groves. Tom Groves is the leader of an elite Rapid Deployment Forces team and the Pentagon suspects Ellen’s murder is only the first of many acts of terrorism directed against families of military officers. Bob McMichaels discovers the entire Groves family guard amazing secrets. Bob becomes a target when he learns the killers are trained assassins who will do anything to possess Ellen Groves’ land in northern Wisconsin, including killing anyone who gets in their way.
Bob tries to escape two gunmen in a blizzard by outrunning their Ford Explorer on a Ski-Doo snowmobile, but he flips the Ski-Doo to avoid hitting Sheila Ryan’s stranded car. The men in the Explorer, unable to stop or avoid an accident, plow into Sheila’s Lincoln, demolishing both cars. Sheila survives, and Bob takes the injured girl back to the Groves’ house on the Ski-Doo. On the way, he meets Jerry Walker, and Bob asks Jerry to give them a ride in Jerry’s warm Dodge truck. Unknown to Bob at this time, Jerry is one of the hired assassins assigned to follow up on the men in the explorer and their intended target.
Bob and Jerry carry Sheila into Diane Groves’ living room and leave the comatose girl on the floor in front of a warm fire while they search for Tom and Diane who have gathered with friends and family members in the woods to remember Ellen Groves. When Diane discovers strangers have entered the house, she erupts with anger until learning Sheila is severely injured and needs immediate help. Diane, her sister Nancy, and the remaining family members join hands to send healing energy into the girl’s body that saves Sheila’s life and begins to restore Sheila’s memory. Neither Bob nor Jerry can believe what they witness. 84 year-old Aunt Anna asks Jerry if he also needs her help. She tells the boy she can help him heal, too, if he asks for her help. Jerry tells her he “don’t need no help. Don’t need no one.” Threatened by the old woman’s incessant questions, Jerry sulks off to the kitchen and plants a bomb where no one will see it.
When Jerry reports what has happened and tells Colonel Jack Delacroix about the bomb, the Colonel calls Jerry stupid. Delacroix is a control freak who expects his men to follow orders and not think or act on their own. Both are sociopathic killers cut from the same cloth, and Delacroix considers Jerry a protégé. But Delacroix warns Jerry not to do anything stupid or the Colonel will kill him and “bury you so deep that even the devil won’t be able to find you.”
Philip Ashur, CEO of a secretive multi-national conglomerate called XIIMI, is the master manipulator pulling Delacroix’s strings. It was Ashur who dispatched corporate attorney Sheila Ryan to Wisconsin to seduce Tom Groves and legally steal Ellen’s land. Ashur maintains Ellen’s severed head, along with the heads of other Ascended Masters in a freezer in his office on the 76th floor of XIIMI’s Chicago headquarters building. By keeping body parts from decaying after death, Ashur captures the spirits of the adepts and prevents those adepts from being reborn. Philip Ashur has himself been reborn many times, and he can recall past-lives in many parts of the world, including ancient Egypt, where he studied arcane secrets of alchemy. He learned the secrets of extending his life and keeping his spirit in the material world where he can continue to build on knowledge and wealth already acquired rather than having to relearn and rebuild from scratch each time he reincarnates. But Ashur’s actions are upseting the delicate balance between the spirit realm and the physical, and now none of the spirits released from their bodies can cross over between worlds.
Sheila Ryan awakens from her coma to discover she, too, remembers past lives. Tom Groves and Sheila Ryan have been inextricably linked together through time. Now they rekindle their passion as they recall a love that transcends time and space. So, too, have Bob and Diane lived many lives together. Diane lets Bob in on the secrets of magic, explaining magic in terms Bob can understand: Everything is engery, she tells Bob, and physical matter is only energy that is directed by the spirit to assume individual forms. The key to manifesting changes to both energy and matter is polarity, and the balance of opposite polarities. Polarities--male and female, light and dark, night and day, north and south, positive and negative—is what makes the universe function and engenders life. There are eight Guardians of the Watchtowers of the Winds, four males and four females, who balance the flow of energy between worlds and keep the universe in balance. Ellen Groves was one of those eight Guardians, and with Ellen gone the universe is now badly out of balance. Each of the watchtowers, votexes of energy that control ley lines flowing from sacred sites around the world, are being attacked by someone who understands the principles of alchemy and magic and seeks ultimate power. The sacred circle in the center of the old-growth forest on Ellen’s property is the only vortex with enough power left to balance polarity, but to restore that balance at least two male and two female Guardians must allow their spirits to fuse inside the sacred circle.
Philip Ashur has already killed five of the eight Guardians and holds their spirits captive inside his freezer. Now Ashur orders Delacroix to kill the three remaining Guardians and preserve their heads so he can add their spirits to the trophies inside the freezer on the 76th floor of the XIIMI building. Unless there is another Ascended Master that Ashur doen’t know about, Philip Ashur will soon have enough power to control this world and all others.
Delacroix sends Jerry Walker with a team of assassins to the Chilian Andes to kill La Curandera, a powerful Mapuche shaman and healer who talks to the wind and to trees, cats, birds, and snakes. Jerry parachutes onto the side of an active volcano where his team overcomes caustic fumes and vicious attacks by pumas, snakes, and condors before reaching La Curandera at the very top of the mountain. Though they shoot her multiple times with high-powered weapons, she doesn’t die. Then she talks to the mountain itself, releases her spirit from her body, and allows the volcano to erupt and blow everyone off the top of the mountain in one big blast. As Jerry is dying, he hears La Curandera’s voice ask if Jerry wants to be healed using the exact same words Aunt Anna had used. Despite excruciating pain, Jerry is wary. “What’s the catch?” Jerry asks the voice in his mind. “There’s gotta be a catch. People don’t do nothin’ for me unless I do something for them first!” The voice tells him there is no catch, but there will be an exchange of energy that may change Jerry in unpredicatble ways. Jerry takes a chance, his only chance to live, and allows La Curandera’s spirit to enter his body and help him heal.
“It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” a doctor tells Delacroix. “This man should have died hours ago either from loss of blood or from extensive internal injuries such as punctured lungs, crushed spleen, ruptured intestines, or fourth-degree burns of his entire body. It’s a miracle he’s still alive. But the biggest miracle is that he appears to be healing at a phenomenal rate, healing from the inside out. You can actually watch tissues regenerate. I’ve never seen cellular activity like this before, and the closest I can compare it to is in-utero fetal development or maybe a salamander sprouting a new tail. I’ve had him in an MRI and the scans are unbelievable. Nothing about this kid is normal.”
While Delacroix waits for Jerry to return for questioning, another team of assassins is dispatched to Lappland in northern Scandinavia to find Biegolmai Davvi, a Saami shaman and Guardian of the north winds. Biegolmai looks like a giant Santa Claus and is reputed to be older than the hills. Before Biegolmai can be killed, however, he transforms himslef into a bird and flies away. When Delacroix’s continued efforts to kill Bob McMichaels fail, Delacroix sends Jerry Walker to Bob with a message: Susan and Sean, Bob’s two teen-aged children living in Texas with their mother after a bitter divorce, are hostages and Delacroix threatens to kill both kids unless Bob does exactly what Delacroix orders. Bob is forced to inform Army Intelligence that Bob is now certain Ellen’s murder was merely an accident and not a conspiracy, and that,effective immediately, Bob is taking his accrued leave to go on vacation with his kids.
Jerry helps Bob rescue the drugged children from Delacroix’s men. After a fierce gun battle and high-speed car chase, Jerry and Bob carry the children through the snow-filled woods as Diane’s spirit, in the form of a hawk, guides them to safety. Biegolmai arrives at Ellen’s house in the form of a giant raven, and Delacroix’s men surrounding the property fire automatic weapons at him. But the wise old man, soaring on the winds, avoids their bullets. He lands safely and transforms back into a grandfatherly Santa Claus figure.
When Lokesvara Sailendravarman, a Buddhist lama living near the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in northern Cambodia, senses danger, he leaves the sanctuary of the Watchtower and journeys to America. He changes into civilian clothes, rents a Prius at O’Hare, and drives to Wisconsin to join the battle. Delacroix’s men ambush the Prius, and nearly kill Lokesvara before Tom, Bob, and Diane rescue the Buddhist monk. Diane becomes a hawk that attacks Delacroix’s men, and Jerry becomes a condor, the harbinger of death.
When Delacroix learns his men have failed to capture the heads of the remaining Guardians, Delacroix flies to Wisconsin to personally lead an attack on the house. If all else fails, Delacroix plans to use a radio transmitter to detonate the bomb Jerry planted in the house days ago. When Delacroix’s men are killed by birds and Delacroix himself is wounded by Bob, he detonates the bomb and blows up the house. The occupants are barely able to escape with their lives. But Delacroix has failed to bring Ashur the heads of the remaining Guardians, so Ashur replaces the Colonel with William Carter, an ex-army ranger, who kills Delacroix and assumes command.
While Carter leads another attack on the adepts in Wisconsin, Philip Ashur recalls past lives in Egypt, the birthplace of alchemy. During one of those lives, Ashur is a student at the school of assassins in Cairo shortly after the Caliph of the Fatimites founded that city on the banks of the Nile. In separate assemblies for men and women at the Abode of Learning, Ashur proceeds through the nine steps of intitiation into the mysteries of the Hidden Imam and the Assasseen, the Guardians of the Secrets. Other students that readers recognize, but Ashur doesn’t, include Bob McMichaels, Tom Groves, Diane groves, Sheila Ryan, Aunt Anna, and Theodore Carnes. By the end of that lifetime, Philip Ashur becomes al-Hassan ibn Shabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain who trains assassins.
In another life, Ashur goes back to Egypt 3,333 years before the birth of Christ, to the days before the First Kindgom when Ashur was known as Thoth, the scribe of Seth. Seth and his brother Osiris vie for the right to bed Isis during the night of the summer solstice, an auspicious time prophesized as the moment Isis would conceive Horus and unite the three kingdoms of the Nile into one Egypt. Ashur had come to the land of black earth to learn the secrets of He-Ka, the black magic that allowed men and women to transform into birds, cats, and reptiles and transfer the ka and the ba into other human bodies so one might live forever. Isis and the women warriors of the middle kingdom only allow men onto the sacred soil of the Isle of Isis on certain nights when the moon and stars are aligned for procreation, and Ashur accompanies Seth to the Isle for a night of debachery and intrigue. Ashur devises a way for Seth to eliminate Osiris by means of an ornate sarcophagus, constructed to the exact measurements of Osiris’ mortal body from the finest Lebanese cedars and bedecked with precious stones. Seth promises to give the sarcophagus to whomever fits into it perfectly, and no one fits but Osiris. After all his men try and fail to fit into the sarcophagus, Osiris lies down in the sarcophagus and Seth seals him inside and orders him dismembered and all the body parts but one dumped in the river Nile.
Seth, whom readers recognize later as XIIMI’s founder Theodore Carnes, impregnates Isis who Ashur identifies as Diane Groves in a previous incarnation. Sheila Ryan’s spirit is recognized in Nephthys, Ellen Groves in Hathor, Bob McMichaels in Osiris, and Tom Groves in Horus. Ashur seduces Purple Lotus Flower, a priestess of Hathor who later becomes Sara Nelson, a protégé of Ellen Groves. Purple Lotus Flower intitates Ashur into the secrets of Ma-at and teaches him how to live forever.
As the effects of the drugs abductors had intjected into Bob’s children wear off, Bob is able to reconnect with Susan and Sean in their first meaningful interactions since Bob and Donna were divorced. Sean is especially taken with Biegolmai’s resemblance to Santa Claus, and Biegolmai tells the boy stories about Santa and the Guardianship of the sun. Stories don’t have to be true, says Biegolmai, but there is always a kernel of truth hidden in all stories that endure. Sean helps Biegolmai and Jerry gather weapons and ammunition from from the fallen assassins before Bob, Tom, Sheila, and Jerry drive to Chicago to confront Philip Ashur.
While Bob and his friends battle drifting snow on the highway, William Carter leads his team of assassins against the women in the woods, and the women tansform into birds to battle Carter’s superior firepower. Carter uses pyrotechnics to set the woods ablaze, and Nancy is killed when she tries to stop the pyrotechnic bombardment. Diane takes revenge for Nancy’s death by slashing the assassins to pieces with her beak and talons.
When a Wisconsin State Patrol rookie stops Jerry for speeding on the expressway, Bob learns that Donna swore out a warrant for his arrest for allegedly kidnapping his children. Bob’s orders have been revoked, and he is to be held on federal kidnapping chages for taking the kids over the state line. Jerry slams the car door into the cop, and they make a getaway but become bogged down in snowdrifts before going more than a few miles. Eventually, after switching vehicles and one more close call at a police roadblock, they reach Chicago and the XIIMI building on the western shore of Lake Michigan.
Ashur recalls seven years of training with Lama Tulku Guru Rimpoche where he learned the secrets of Pho-wa, the secrets of tranferring the spirit from the body at death, with Ellen Groves and Lokesvara Sailendravarman, two of the Lama’s other students. After Ashur seduces a willing Ellen, Ellen leaves Tibet to give birth to her first child. Ashur stays in Tibet to complete his training, then goes to Hong Kong where he meets Theodore Carnes. Carnes reveals that they have met many times before, once when Carnes was Seth and Ashur was Thoth. Carnes asks Ashur if he learned the secret of Ma-at from Purple Lotus Flower, and when Ashur confirms he does indeed know the secret, Carnes offers Ashur anything to reveal the secret of eternal life. Ashur negotiates for total control of XIIMI, and Carnes agrees to live a new life in a new body elsewhere and never interfere with Ashur’s activities. Both men live up to their agreement, but Ashur has second thoughts and sends Gunther Weiss with a team of assassins to kill Carnes and bring Ashur his head.
Sheila knows Ashur’s private access codes to the 76th floor of the XIIMI building, and the four friends knock out the guard in the lobby and try to work the elevator. But Ashur knew they were coming and changed the codes. When police show up, the four run for their lives along the bike path paralleling the shore of Lake Michigan. Diane’s spirit joins them in the form of a hawk, and they elude police.
When Ashur learns that eleven-year-old Sara Nelson is a hidden ascended master who attains full powers at menarche, Ashur uses magic to attack Sara Nelson and Bob’s chidren at the Nelson farm. First, Ashur destroys the farm itself with high winds. Then he sends snakes and wolves to confront Sara, her parents and siblings, and the McMichaels kids. But Sara uses magic of her own, and she defeats the snakes and wolves with a forked stick from the old-growth forest. If Sara can reach the sacred circle on Ellen’s propety, she can join with Biegolmai, Lokesvara, and the spirit of La Curandera to re-establish polarity.
Ashur’s use of magic to generate high winds in Wisconsin causes a backlash over Lake Michigan, and winds whip the waves to deluge the bike path. Sheila Ryan discovers her own magical powers and calms the winds. Her female energy counters Ashur’s male energy, and Ashur is forced to try one last desperate act to stop Sara from reaching the circle.
As Ashur calls upon the powers of the gods, Bob and Tom shoot out the windows on the 76th floor of the XIIMI building and Ashur is distracted from completing his invocations. Suddenly, a hawk flies through the shattered window and plucks out Ashur’s eyes. Philip Ashur falls to his death on the sidewalk below, and the hawk swoops down to pick up Ashur’s head and carry it out over the lake.
Meanwhile, Weiss fails to kill Theodore Carnes before Carnes and his bride escape on an Air France jet to Chicago. Weiss follows, and discovers Carnes is now back in control of XIIMI. Weiss decides to kill Carnes before Carnes learns that Weiss has been dispatched to kill him, and Weiss enters the sewers of Chicago and ignites the gas lines under the XIIMI building. But Weiss miscalculates, and the explosion takes out most of the Magnificent Mile and kills Weiss in the process.
Bob and his friends return to Wisconsin where Sara and the other Guardians have restored balance and harmony and reopened the doors between worlds. Ellen’s spirit has been freed by fire, and Ellen and Nancy cross over to the spirit realm where they will be rejuvinated and reborn.
Donna is so happy to hear her children are alive and well, that she drops all kidnapping charges. When Bob reports to Defense Intelligence, he is told that Homeland Security verified Bob’s earlier reports about XIIMI after the catastrophe in Chicago, and Bob will receive a commedation for his fine work. Bob and Diane are married at the sacred circle, and then Tom and Sheila are united in a similar ceremony. Biegolmai and Sara train Sean and Susie while Bob and Diane honeymoon. Then Bob and Tom return to active duty while Diane and Sheila rebuild the house in the woods and keep the home fires burning until the men return.
Told in third-person episodic style, this story embodies myths and legends from around the world to generate a new mythology. Many of the incidents are related to historical facts, and the principles of alchemy and magic are founded on textual references available to anyone who seeks them out. The dates and places are real, but they have been distorted by the author’s imagination. All of the characters are pulely fictional. Paul Dale Anderson has performed thousands of actual past-life regressions, and he teaches hypnosis at Rock Valley College and is a certified instructor for the National Guild of Hypnotists. Paul has also taught novel and short story writing for Writers Digest School and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
This is the first of a series of novels containing some of the same or similar characters and themes. Two of the other novels have been completed in manuscript, and Paul is at work on the fourth novel in the series.