Published July 10, 2016 by

Memories of a Soul in The Underworld Chapter 4

Story Summary

Ethan is a soul in the Underworld with no memory of his life on Earth. He is bought and sold by various masters for centuries. Traveling from large industrial towns to scorching hot deserts. During his journey he picks up the skills, knowledge and magic to escape his enslavement. He runs with the intent of living a free life, but is pursued by agents until he's cornered on a remote mountain range. With little time left, Ethan begins to recount his life and masters in the hope of leaving a record of his existence. These are his memories.

Angela, Alphonse, Mira, Anya, Felix, and I lined up in the front garden the next morning to wish our master a safe trip. The army forced him into the war, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

I don't know why they were interested in a pampered aristocrat like Alistair. I can only assume that the shitty king thought that conscripting magical users was the best way to crush his adversaries. This cruel strategy worked in the end, but my master had even less experience than me when it came to combat and war.

Alphonse nervously brushed a crease in his suit for the twentieth time that morning, and Anya kept readjusting her hair. Mira was sobbing uncontrollably, and I was certain that I saw a small glimmer of sadness within Angela's dark lifeless eyes. Felix also looked anxious, but as concerned as I was for our master, I hadn't considered the possibility that he may not return.

Alistair's face was cold, passive, and he was trying his best not to cry. He quickly turned away once or twice to wipe stray tears from his eyes.

"I'll be back soon." Alistair's gaze flicked between us like he was desperately trying to memorize our faces. "I expect you all to be on your best behavior during my absence, so that means no throwing sharp things."

"We'll try, Master," muttered Alphonse, but I remember him and Mira getting into several knife fights over the following months.

Alistair then hugged each of us goodbye. I was last, so he desperately held onto me as though terrified to let go. When my master reluctantly moved away, I glanced over to see a teary Mira furiously staring back, and for some unknown reason, Anya also looked hurt. I tried to make eye-contact with her, but she quickly looked away.

"Farewell beloved souls," said Alistair as he slowly and dramatically climbed into his horse drawn carriage. "Words can not describe how much I'll miss you all. I pray that we can be happily reunited by the end of the year."

"I'll miss you too!" sobbed Mira.

"Come back soon, Master," said Alphonse. "It won't be any fun around here without you."

"Slice them to pieces," said Angela in her morbid childlike voice. "And then dance on the bodies."

"Good luck out there, Master," said Anya. It was easy to see how much she adored him. "If anyone can come back alive it's you. I'll be here waiting for you. For as long as I exist, if not longer."

"Thank you, dear Anya," said Alistair with a sad smile. "I'm eternally grateful to have found such kind souls who believe in me."

Alistair then looked directly at me, but I didn't know what to say, so I said my goodbye with a small awkward wave.

He looked like he expected more, but then sighed and took a seat in the carriage. Arms crossed and face blank.

We all stood there waving as the carriage moved away from the house. Out iron gates which I hadn't been through since the day I arrived.

As soon as he disappeared from sight, Mira collapsed to her knees and began crying out like an injured animal.

Alphonse crouched down to comfort her, and when I took a closer look, I could see that he was also quietly sobbing.

I assumed that someone like Anya must have also been suffering, so I reached out to support her.

"Anya," I said kindly and placed one hand on her shoulder, but she angrily shrugged off my touch like my presence was revolting.

"Don't talk to me," she snapped before spinning on her heels and dashing back into the house.

I stood there frozen in shock with my hand still reaching out, and it was then that Angela started giggling at my misfortune.

"Girls, huh?" said Felix with a smile as he jabbed me in the ribs with his elbow. He then must have realized how devastated I was, and attempted to give me better advice. "Don't worry about Anya. She probably just needs time to adjust to him being gone. That's all, you know."

His words seemed logical and I hoped he was right, but in the following days, Anya continued to shut me out like she despised my existence.

"Anya!" I called out nervously when I knocked on her door for the tenth time that week. I stood there listening to her shuffle around the room. "Please come out Anya!" I begged, but perhaps Alistair's absence was a bigger shock than I expected.

"It's all your fault you know," laughed Angela from the shadows at the end of the hall. "She hates you Ethan. She's never gonna speak to you again. Never ever ever. You should just go somewhere dark and never come out. That's what I do."

I don't know what other crazy gibberish she had to say, because I walked away. Angela began chatting to a painting of Alistair's grandfather.

After that failed attempt to speak to Anya, I retreated to the library. There I could distract myself by reading textbooks for hours on end. Disappearing into my own fantasy world. I tried to picture what it feels like to breathe and eat food, but as much as I searched, I found nothing about what a soul is, or what happened to me back on Earth.

Until one day when I found a small sentence that went something like this.

Once the soul is removed, the body dies.

I stared down at the page and repeated those words again and again in my head.

Slowly, I opened the reading desk draw and pulled out a sharp silver letter opener. I then positioned it just above my arm. My hand nervously shook, but with one deep breath, I stabbed it straight through my wrist until it clanged against the wooden desk.

It went through my body like I was made of smoke, and I could easily move it back and forth through my hand without feeling anything.

I didn't stop there. I tried stabbing it through my arm and thigh, but I couldn't find any of the vital organs or arteries that were written in the textbooks.

All I did was confirm what I already knew. Once a soul is ripped from their body they die straight away, and my current form is just a ghost of what I used to be. Some weak little shadow that can be used without limits to serve rich hellish beings.

I growled in frustration and flung the letter opener across the room. It bounced off a wall and landed somewhere under the shelves.

I angrily ran my fingers through my colorless hair. Furiously tugging on ghost like strands which couldn't be pulled from my scalp.

Why did I agree to this back on Earth?

I expect you all to be on your best behavior during my absence, so that means no throwing sharp things, echoed Alistair's last words in my mind.

Even though he wasn't there, I could recall his sad face as he went off to war. Terrified and hopeless like there was no going back. I suddenly felt terrible for ignoring his request and got up to retrieve the letter opener.

It had rolled under a large bookshelf at the back of the room. The space was too narrow for most of my arm, so I slowly eased it out with my fingertips until it rolled into my hand.

It was then that I caught sight of an odd book sitting on the bottom shelf.

It was small, thin, green, and covered in dust. Wedged between two books on exotic insects where I'm sure it didn't belong. I found the title on the spine intriguing, so I tilted my head to read it more clearly.

Magic for Anyone.

Perhaps my fellow souls would have left it there, but I always found demonic magic intriguing. I used to watch Alistair perform incantations from the crack in his study door, and if I was lucky, he'd even let me hold materials as he conducted experiments.

When I first got there, I often daydreamed about becoming a magical scholar like him, but I had long given up on using such abilities myself. Such things require a living body, which I don't have, so I thought it was stupid and childish to even consider the possibility.

But I couldn't turn away from the book on the shelf.

I carefully pried it out as a chunk of the spine crumbled away at my touch.

Magic for Anyone; Easy techniques for the magically impaired, said the cover in bold golden letters.

I curiously opened the book and read the first page.

Tired of your magic wielding friends showing off at parties? Had enough of people mocking your inability to do spells? Well you need not suffer anymore my friend, because with Otis Vandagear's guide of magic for anyone, even a monkey can pull off the simplest of incantations. All you need is the book in your hand, Otis Vandagear's sparkling magic channelling crystal, Otis Vandagear's gateway to dreams chalk, and an undying determination to upstage your friends and acquaintances.

It then showed a picture of a crystal and chalk with an insanely high price tag, and only someone as rich as Alistair could possibly afford them.

I sighed and flipped through the book to see what was so great about Otis Vandagear's techniques. It was full of diagrams of strange circles and how to replicate them in a few easy steps. I never knew that it was possible to do magic with just a crystal and chalk, but it did explain how even ordinary people can use magical weapons on the battlefield.

Had it been a different day, I may have brushed the book off as nonsense and placed it back, but I desperately needed something to distract myself from Alistair's absence and Anya's strange behavior.

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