Welcome all you basement alchemists out there. Take a seat you members of secret societies. Have we got a show for you today. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I have a doozie for you today. “Welcome to the show, Michelangelo.”
“Good day, Lisa Burton.”
“I’ve wanted to get you on the show for a while now.”
“That is my understanding, yes. Carmina Orsini—I believe she has asked you, as well as everyone she likes, to call her Nonna—has been asking me to talk with you. As I have told her repeatedly, I do not have the time. Alas, I also do not have the time to continue arguing with her. So, here I am. Against my better judgment. Because the woman is just… such a difficult woman to refuse.”
“I know Nonna, and she’s a wonderful person. She was on the show a year ago. Having some problems with one of her granddaughters, Donni.”
“Yes. I was made aware of her transgressions. She should not have done that. Doing so was dangerous. As is this. But, as I said, she is persuasive.”
“Now for our listeners, you are the actual Michelangelo. Can you tell us how you managed to stick around for so long?”
“It is a long story. Let me see, how can I simplify it for you? Alchemy is a precursor to chemistry. While there is a significant scientific component involved in the pursuit, there is an equal focus on magic. And while I realize alchemy is now a nearly-defunct practice, I can attest to the fact that it is, indeed, a fruitful and viable endeavor. Several centuries ago, I succeeded in conquering an alchemist’s two greatest challenges—finding an elixir of immortality and transmuting invaluable metals into untold riches. It has made for a long and rewarding life.”
“It seems like things might get boring after living that long. Do you find yourself running out of things to do?”
“If only you knew how humorous that statement is. While I was a burgeoning artist in Florence, I had the good fortune of being employed by the Medici family. My work and my loyalty to them yielded a mutually-beneficial agreement. While outwardly it would appear I was creating works of art for the family in exchange for their patronage, I was in fact serving as a bodyguard of sorts. And because this became such an intimate and lucrative partnership, I took a vow to always protect the family. It was because of the Medici patronage that I had the ability to conduct my alchemical research, so it was only fitting that I devoted myself to a perpetual defense of the family. I took a solemn vow. Hence the formation of the Medici Protectorate. Every generation since that time, I chose an elite class of warriors to protect the descendants. All these years later, the Notaro family—four daughters—are the lone survivors. With the Italian government currently in turmoil, the country is on the brink of revolution. Heirs of a powerful former ruling family would be ideally poised to take control and seize power. A nefarious faction has learned of their existence and is in pursuit of them, wanting to control them for its own benefit or eliminate them outright. I have chosen four men to be the Notaros’ guardians and several more men to serve as their support.”
“Um… devil’s advocate here, and all that. Has anyone considered what the girls might want in all this? I mean, maybe they don’t want to play princess Barbie. Maybe one of them wants to become a heart surgeon or something.”
“Of course their feelings have been considered. To the extent they are relevant, anyway. If any of the Notaro women was interested in ruling Italy, I would do everything in my power to make it so. But none of them wants that. They all work for their father’s building company and are quite happy in their respective fields. Control of any country is unappealing to them. I have even gone so far as finding a replacement for them—someone who is smart enough and benevolent enough to rule Italy for the good of the people. But until we are able to seat him at the head of the government, the Notaro women will be in danger. That is why they are in seclusion. I would like nothing more than to allow them their freedoms, but it is not safe for them to be in public, particularly on their own. That is why I have opened my homes to them and have assembled the family and their protectors under one roof. Only with constant protection will they be safe. And before you launch into a feminist lecture about the power of strong and independent women, let me stop you. This isn’t about damsels in distress and barbarian men thumping their chests to display their dominance. I have seen it. One of the benefits of my alchemical rituals was the creation of marble daggers which grant their wielders’ powers. One of my powers is foresight, and I have seen the future. The women are in danger without this protection. They, the country—the entire world—are in danger. The Notaros may not like being sequestered, but their discomfort is far better than the alternative.”
“Okay, so you miracled somehow that they’re going to come around. You know these are women we’re talking about, right?”
“I am aware, yes. At one time or another, each of them has escaped. And every time, to nearly disastrous consequences. That is why I found Carmen Scalzotto. He is an activist and a scholar—someone who will be an excellent ruler and can take the burden off their shoulders. But there is only so much I can do, and these confounded women are making things harder. They want to go home, the Brotherhood wants them to be happy, and now we have to protect the Notaro family in addition to Scalzotto. My resources are unimaginably large, but they are not infinite. We are spread thin. Too thin. It is time to put this challenge to rest once and for all, or I will not be able to protect… everyone.”
“So it’s not just fulfilling your vow. You care about the girls, but also want to keep Italy in the right hands. Hands you selected.”
“My feelings are immaterial. And at this point, so is my vow. Do you understand what will happen if this particular evil cabal assumes control of Italy? It will not mean the destruction of one country or even the entire European continent. Dictators have attempted to conquer the world before. Some have even come close, but they have always been stopped. That will not be the case this time. The world has never seen a mind so keen, so devious. So bent on control. If this organization wins, it will be unstoppable. It will mean global domination. Life as we know it will cease to exist.”
“Got it. So our best chance of saving the world involves protecting the Notaro sisters from the bad guys, but all you’ve assigned to the job are four brothers?”
“Very special brothers, hand-picked by me. I adopted them, groomed them, trained them. I used my sculptural skills and alchemical rituals to create special daggers which give them powers that enhance their already exceptional abilities. They are, as you say, the world’s best chance.”
“Daggers might be kind of cool, but we have explosive drones, rocket launchers, and things out there today.”
“Do you think a man can live as long as I have and not know the wonders of modern technology as well as what resides in the hearts of men? The marble came from my personal quarry. Each stone color taps into cosmic powers and provides the wielder with unique abilities. I spent years perfecting the rituals. Colors, materials, herbs, words, science—you cannot conceive of the time and effort put into these weapons. Nor can you comprehend the grueling preparations these warriors have been through. I have watched one of my sons after another give himself over to his calling and master his powers. Only Roberto has yet to fully embrace his gifts. And his are the most important of all. If he does not succeed in becoming one with his weapon and embracing his abilities, all hope is lost.”
“Roberto? You mean Coz, right?”
“Yes. Roberto Cozza.”
“Okay, so let’s project that Coz comes to terms with his powers. What happens next?”
“The Medici Protectorate has spent centuries watching and waiting. Defending. If I can get all four of the Brothers ready—and that means Roberto must come fully into his powers—then we can go on the offensive. We can bring the fight to… well, who leads the cabal is not the point, is it? Suffice it to say, I have known this man for a long while and he is formidable. The only way we can win is to instigate the final battle. And win it.”
“It’s all kind of sad in a way. These girls don’t want what their destiny provides. These brothers have been forced into this life and molded into warriors when they might have chosen different paths for themselves. And an old acquaintance who let you down can’t be trusted. Seems to have all the makings of a Greek tragedy.”
“We are not Greek, Miss Burton. We are Italian.”
“You’re something, all right.”
“I believe I have said enough to satisfy Carmina. If you do not object, I will take my leave now. There is still much work to be done.”
“No. No objection. You’ve given us plenty to think about. Thank you for visiting with me today. Any closing remarks for our listeners?”
“Your very lives are in danger. Whether you believe in alchemy or not, this is happening. And whether you believe in a higher power or not, you might want to pray for our success. Good day, Miss Burton.”
“You can read more about Michelangelo and the brotherhood in the Medici Protectorate Series, by Staci Troilo. Book four, Tortured Soul just hit the shelves.
“Make sure to use those sharing buttons on your way out. It really helps my guests and their authors out. I know Staci and Michelangelo would do it for you. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”
Protection is safety. Until it stifles.
After months of clandestine battles, the Brothers of the Medici Protectorate finally know who is responsible for the assassination attempts on the Notaro family, the secret descendants of the Medici line. And they’ve never faced such a formidable foe.
Roberto Cozza–Coz–faces this new reality with surprising pragmatism. His powers may make the difference in winning their covert war–if only he can master them in time. It would just be so much easier if he could get his emotions under control, but neither his Brothers nor their charges are making things easy on him.
Toni Notaro appreciates the security provided by the Brothers, but she knows she has her own role to play–and it terrifies her. She is the missing link in Coz mastering his emerging abilities, yet she struggles to bridge the gap between what he needs and what she can offer.
As the Brotherhood hurtles inexorably toward the climactic final showdown, Coz and Toni must find the strength within themselves and each other to master the secrets of his powers, or risk death and defeat for all they hold dear.
Universal Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/STtorturedsoul
Staci Troilo writes because she has hundreds of stories in her head. She publishes because people told her she should share them. She’s a multi-genre author whose love for writing is only surpassed by her love for family and friends, and that relationship-centric focus is featured in her work.