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Aside from Heaven

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Aside from Heaven

Installment 01

Remember the Dead

Dying was an art.

It was also painful and annoying as hell! What was worse was his sister and the man he, at one point, considered his mentor did this to him and he was dying in the arms of the man he had hated for the vast majority of his entire life.

“Is this the end?”

If this was God's sense of humor, he wasn't laughing. Please let it be the end.

“For you and me both, my friend.”

Wait. Robin was dying as well. Maybe he would laugh, when he himself died.

Couldn't breathe.

“I’m sorry.”

Breathing was hard. Damn, he wished he could die already so he could move on to the next phase of his existence, one where that angel with the crazy eyes would tell him he had accomplished whatever it was he was supposed to accomplish and then he could move on to the job of reuniting with Genevieve.

Someone once told him that your life flashes before you when you're dying. This was true, but what seemed to stand out to him the most were his previous deaths. Hanging twice. Beheaded, by his sister, again. Sweet Jesu, what had he done to the woman to warrant her wanting him dead?

And apparently succeeding.

The Angel of Death told him he had a task to accomplish, something important he needed to do in order to move forward.

Suddenly, he felt... he needed to let Robin know, tell him. It was part of it.

“At least you have someone waiting for you. Marian.” Breathing was getting more difficult. Talking was near impossible. “The love of my life-”

Wasn't her. I was wrong. The love of my life, wasn't her.

“She was always yours.”

Did I succeed? I've let her go. What about all these peasants? All of these lives saved? Was that enough?

Behind Robin, he could see... see his mother. She was smiling.

You did well, Guy. I am so proud. You let her go. You're free. Finally. Tell him the rest.

A great sense of peace flooded him, flooding his being. Words flew from his lips,

“I die proud. I am free.”

He realized he was staring at the ceiling, when everything went black.

~~~...~~~

“Come on. Up you go!” Guy felt someone grab his hand, pull him up. “Ah, you're a big one! Small wonder my Chickie-poo loves you so!”

He was lighter on his feet, weightless. He stood up, realizing he was spirit, light. Not looking at the owner of the voice with him, he turned back to see his body lying prone, Robin leaning over him, closing his eyes.

“Guy?” He turned to the voice. “You can do no more. Do not linger, come with me.” She took him by the hand and the next moment, they both flew up through the castle, through the bricks, the battlements. Up they rose, before floating, turning to face the castle.

Before he knew it, he found himself settled in some sort of long chair with chains suspended in mid-air. He raised his arms, looking about him and rather leery of the contraption. “What witchery is this?” He started to stand.

Guy found himself restrained and the light beside him turned into human form.

“Don't do that. You've no wings and you are new to this. You need to get your bearings or you'll fall.” The woman was tall and slender, her face ageless. “This is a porch swing. They are comfortable and at some point, you and Genevieve will spend a lot of-”

“Genevieve?” Now she had his complete attention. “You will take me to Genevieve now?”

The being smiled, but shook her head. “No. Not yet. You have much to accomplish between now and 2014.”

“Did I not save enough lives here?” As he threw out his hand to the castle, there was an explosion. As the walls fell, there was dust, great noise, Robin and Archer appearing in the fog. Almost immediately, sparks of light – souls – rose from the ruins, and almost as quickly, a good deal of those same sparks turned black and were thrown to the earth, swallowed in the soil. “What the-”

“Lost souls.” For a while, the two watched souls rise and souls fall. They watched the sun set before Guy spoke again.

“Who are you and why are you here? I thought Douma-”

“Douma is the Angel of Death. You are not dead.”

“Really?” Guy smirked. “Last I looked, my body was lying in the cellar of those ruins and I was quite dead.”

The being was smiling. “Ah, but we are not done with you, not done with your soul. You-” she poked Guy on the arm, “have a lot of work to accomplish and you have a little over 800 years to accomplish it.”

Guy leaned back on the support chains. “And this is where you'll tell me how?” He crossed his arms. “Who are you and why are you here?”

She sat up, a rather perky thing. “I thought you would never ask. My name is Valoel. I am your Guardian Angel, as I was your father's Guardian Angel.” She leaned forward to whisper, as to why, he couldn't guess. “I am also Genevieve's Guardian Angel. That crucifix she gave to you, belonged to me. I gave it to your father as a promise, a promise I intend to keep.”

“And what promise was that?”

“That you would be a great man,” the angel responded with a smile. “And that you would bring honor to the Gisborne name.”

“Ah, Angel! You messed up there,” Guy scoffed.

“No, I didn't.”

Guy stared at her hard. “He wasn't supposed to come home that second time, was he?”

The angel didn't hesitate. “No. No, he wasn't. But someone needed to stop Longthorn from hanging you.” Their attention returned to the castle, more souls rising from the ruins, and some being slung to the ground.

“How does this work? Eight centuries to figure out how to help Genevieve.”

There was something Val liked about Guy of Gisborne; he was to the point and didn't procrastinate. He made quick decisions and carried through, regardless if they were right or wrong; moral or unjust. That tenaciousness would aid him throughout the lifetimes. “You will have eight centuries to build a dynasty. You will live and die and live some more and die some more. You will be given information to aid you in your quest to build a dynasty. The land of Nottingham will grow fine tobacco, a rather prosperous crop and at some point some very fine lace will be made. Bicycles, but you don't need to worry about that yet. Be prepared for that. Those things will serve you well, make you very wealthy.”

Guy smirked. “But how does that help Genevieve?”

“You are going to need money and lots of it, to help her. You need to learn the law from the ground up. The world is going to change and the sooner you get started, you will help bring about that change.”

She threw up a finger to ward off his comment. “You cannot change history. You cannot change the fact that in a few hundred years, King Henry VIII will go through six wives, trying to procure a male heir. He will murder two of them in the attempt, alienate his eldest daughter causing one of England's bloodiest centuries and you will not be able to stop him from robbing and stripping the monasteries and abbeys of their wealth. You can,” she admonished, “save some of it. And you can protect your family from the religious tug-of-war in the middle of it!”

Guy's attention had returned to the ruined castle. The sun was rising and still souls continued to rise from the ruins.

And souls continued to be slammed, screaming to the earth.

“How do you suggest I save some of the church's wealth? And when?”

“Take up brick-laying in the next life or two. At some point, Ripley's will need a fresh coat of wash.” The angel leaned over towards the knight. “The nuns of Ripley's will claim your body and put you in the catacombs of the Abbey in a few days, along with the wealth you have left for Seth.” Guy snarled at that. “Being there will not hurt you a bit! They will treat you very kindly and with great respect.”

“Respect I paid them for!”

“Aye and in time, that respect will be earned. Your descendants will be blessed for that respect!” Valoel took a deep breath and relaxed. “The nuns will protect your and yours for many generations! They will remove your family jewelry and crucifix from your body and lay them with the money you have left for Seth. No one will be able to touch the crucifix, save your reincarnations. It will be very hot to the touch.”

Guy remembered the few times he held the cross, taking note of the bite, the sting of it. Up until Genevieve gave it to him...

“There will be an additional scroll. Look for it.”

“What is it?” Guy sounded bored, so very bored, but Val knew he was listening carefully and pondering every bit of information.

“Genevieve's contract. The copy you made for yourself.”

Guy's head whipped around. “I put that in the box hidden behind the chamber pot in the water closet!”

“Yes, you did and the home will fall into severe disrepair until you claim it in forty five years! It would stink of piss and shite and the ink will have run! I,” with this, she pulled an ornate circular canister from her robes and shook it under his nose, “have secured it and will make sure it is safe in the crypt where you can find it!” Quickly, it disappeared up her sleeve. “Your title and lands will be held by the crown, but you will need to be knighted and you will want to ingratiate yourself to Henry III, to have it returned to you. That would be John's son and successor.”

The angel shivered as the man leaned over and whispered in her ear. “And how do you suggest I do that?”

Val shrugged. “Oh, there is a little disagreement in France that he will think he needs to settle.” She shook her head. “He doesn't need to be a part of it. In fact, he needs to stay out of it. It will behoove him not to put his nose where it doesn't belong and he will be oh so very grateful to the man who talks him out of it in the long run.” With this, she began to clean her nails. “If you play your cards right, not only will Locksley and the surrounding county be returned to you along with your title, you might even find yourself gifted with a wealthy heiress to wive, along with her lands and vineyards in Southeast France.”

Guy threw back his head and roared. It was a hearty laugh. Val waited for him to finish before tapping him on the arm. “Before you do anything, there is one thing you must do, because if you do not accomplish it, it will make this beginning very difficult.” Now, she had Guy's full attention. “Annie is not feeling very kindly towards you and will initially refuse to have anything to do with the wealth you have left her and Seth. You can still claim it, but you need the education the money will buy and with her refusing to acknowledge it-”

“I will receive no education and no way to pay for my training as a knight.”

“True.” She nodded towards Ripley's. “You need to convince her to accept the gift.”

“She hates me,” Guy whispered. “And for good reason.”

“But she still loves you.” The Angel laid her hand on his arm. “She remembers the sweetness that does reside in you. Seth is the last Gisborne. You need her to at least acknowledge that. You are Spirit. Your voice and presence can be seen and felt for a limited time.”

Guy started to slide from the bench, before stopping. “Will you be here when I return?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not.” Guy was glaring now. “Probably not,” she finally admitted. “Remember. Convince Annie to accept the bequest for Seth's sake. Take every educational advantage when it's presented to you. Henry III. The Saintonage War in 1242. Just say no. Stay beneath everyone's notice. You want power; you do not want notoriety. In this form, stay close to Nottingham. Listen. Learn from history. You'll be stronger for it. You cannot be seen by the living for long, so do not waste time.”

Guy began to fade, thinking of the task at hand, before coming back suddenly. “Genevieve?”

“I will watch and protect Genevieve until you get there.”

He was nodding as he faded, the mist of him blowing in the direction of Ripley's.

Val continued to sit there for a time, watching the rising of the souls that was beginning to slow down.

“You are spoon feeding him.”

“Yes, I am, Douma.” The Angel of Inner Peace smiled serenely. “He is smart; certainly more intelligent than most gave him credit for. He will not need a spoon so much as time goes.”

“And he has time. But will he have enough of it?”

Val exhaled. “One hopes. One so hopes.”

tbc