Published May 07, 2017 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 26

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.

Hade's Teeth
Not so long ago.

I huddled behind the rock as another spell crashed against it. That one was strong enough to leave a dent, but not powerful enough to break through.

How did they find me?

I traveled to the most remote and dangerous place I knew. Taking extra care to cover every trace of my existence, and yet they still tracked me down like there was a magical force I couldn't escape.

The snow crunched under the feet of those bastards as they gradually moved closer. I pulled a knife from my back pocket and held it between trembling hands. Ready to throw it at their heads if I had to.

"I can do this, I can do this, I can do this," I muttered like a mantra.

I had to remain calm and focused. I couldn't afford to let my thoughts run astray.

"Looks like you're cornered, Ethan darling." Imaginary Alistair casually leaned against my rock examining his nails. He didn't seem the slightest bit concerned about my grim situation.

"Shut up!" I hissed. "I don't have time for you right now!"

"Can't see how you're going to get yourself out of this one."

"Go away."

"Whatever you want." Alistair yawned and lethargically got to his feet. He took one step before I realized I could use him.

"Hey, wait!" I cried and he obediently froze. "How many are there?"

Alistair sighed like my request would take immense effort, then looked towards the source of the attack. He curiously examined them for a moment before his mouth broke into a grin. "Why don't you take a look for yourself?"

I quickly glanced around the rock, only to narrowly dodge a large metal grappling hook attached to a rope. It landed in the snow near my feet, then quickly disappeared when the owner yanked it back.

I only saw them for a moment, but it was enough time to take in what I was up against.

There were two of them. Both ankle deep in the snow, wearing large furry gray coats and boots to protect themselves from the cold.

One was a human man with a black cap and a beard so large and bushy that I could only see his eyes. He confidently swung the grappling hook like he'd used it countless times to capture disobedient souls.

The other guy was a tall blue demon with only one horn. There was a dark red scarf wrapped around his neck, and I could tell from the way that he held his black gloved hands out before him, that he had to be the magic user.

"Give it up soul!" yelled the human. "You've got nowhere to run!"

"Never!" I cried. "I'm not going back!"

"You signed a contract!"

"Really? Then where is it?"

There were quiet whispers like the two of them were discussing something.

"If you come back with us now, then we'll show it to you!" the human cried.

I couldn't believe that they thought I'd fall for something so stupid.

"There's no way that I'll ever honor a contract that I can't even remember!" I yelled.

"It doesn't matter whether or not you remember, soul scum!" cried the demon. "All that matters is that you signed it, so that makes you property of the Soul Market. Forever!"

I sighed in exasperation. I'd already heard those words a hundred times before, like the Soul Market drilled them into every one of their minions.

"He does have a point," said imaginary Alistair who was still chilling out in the snow. "Maybe it's best to go back with them. Perhaps whatever punishment they have planned for you might not be so bad. I'm sure it'll be over in a year or two. There may even be a half decent master willing to buy a cheap damaged soul such as yourself."

"Just shut up already!" I snapped.

"Screw you, soul!" yelled the demon. "As soon as I drag you out from behind that rock-"

"I didn't mean you! I was talking to Alistair!"

There was silence for a moment, like the two of them had only just realized what sort of nut job they'd found.

The agents must have decided to give up on reasoning with me, because the demon chanted a spell, and then the next attack hit the rock so hard that it began to split down the middle. I looked to the spot where Alistair once stood, but he'd disappeared into thin air.

I almost missed him.

The cliff was obviously my best chance at escape. If I threw myself over the edge they'd never be able to follow. It would take the agents days to climb down the steep mountain and by then I'd be long gone.

It was the perfect plan.

I pulled a roll of crumpled yellow paper from my pocket and unraveled it onto the ground, unveiling black painted lines and symbols like the spell I once drew in Alistair's study. My ghostly body will never channel magic, but after years of failed experiments, I'd developed other ways to pull off a few spells, as basic as they seemed.

I took a small red crystal from my pocket and placed it onto the edge of the page. The painted symbols glowed, then several small balls of red light formed in the center of the paper. The balls of light quickly shot upwards into the sky, then plummeted to the ground. Landing in all directions. Sending snow flying. It wasn't enough to injure those bastards, but all I needed was a distraction.

The human cried in surprise. That was my chance. I quickly shoved the crystal back into my pocket and dashed towards the cliff's edge. Running as fast as my legs could move. I almost made it...but then a tall wall of ice shot up before me, blocking my escape.

My body crashed straight into the frozen wall, and I was knocked onto my back.

"Damn the powers of Hell!" I swore before a grappling hook lodged itself into my shoulder and the human yanked me backwards. That bastard dragged me towards him, then tossed a rope net over my body before I could pull my shoulder free.

"What did I say?" laughed the human to his comrade. "I knew those wankers back at headquarters had to be exaggerating! This stiff's a piece of cake."

"You'll never take me!" I cried and used the knife in my hand to furiously saw the grappling hook's rope until it broke with a snap. I came to a halt and attempted to free myself from the net, but the rope was more difficult to cut through. "Come on, you stupid piece of shit," I hissed as I sawed through the net with all my might.

"It's over, soul!" said the demon victoriously as he smugly walked towards me with his hand outstretched. He chanted a spell, then two walls of ice sprung up beside me one by one. "You may have been sly enough to get past those other idiots, but this is as far as you're gonna get!"

A third wall sprang up behind me as he took another step forward, but then his body suddenly froze mid step, with his foot in the air and his mouth wide open. The demon's red eyes were angrily fixed on me, and I knew that behind those pupils he was cursing my existence.

With one final cut to the rope, I created a large enough hole to untangle myself from the net and pull my body through. I laughed in triumph, because like every agent before him, he'd underestimated my abilities and walked straight into my spell. Very few magic users ever think to closely examine the ground by their feet, and he'd overlooked the faint glow of a large paper circle carefully hidden under the snow. I may have been stupid enough to let them sneak up on me, but all the weeks of running had made me paranoid enough to leave traps whenever I stopped to rest. This particular paper diagram was capable of freezing anything that touched it.

"Look who's finished now!" I cried while basking in my small victory, which only lasted for a second before I had to dodge another hook and chain that came flying towards me.

I drop rolled, then used the knife in my hand to deflect the human's next attack. He pulled a long thin sword from his belt and advanced. Jabbing it furiously like he could shove it through my body and pin me to the ground.

I hastily backed away while trying to lead him straight into the freezing spell, but he carefully moved around the outside like he'd noticed the faint insignias glowing amongst the snow.

"Just give up already!" the human growled as he chased me around the edge. His frozen comrade could only watch. "You'll never escape the Soul Market!"

"Really?" I taunted and did another lap around the circle just to wear him down. "Just watch me. I can keep this up for days, unlike you."

"It's pointless! We'll find you, no matter where you go in Hell!"

"How!" I yelled, but he ignored my request and picked up speed.

There was a growl from the demon like his vocal cords had begun working. The freezing spell was beginning to fade. He growled again long enough to grab the human's attention, then flicked his eyes down to the purple glow by his feet. It was the crystal I used to activate the spell.

The human stopped running like he'd understood the unsaid message, then turned and dashed towards the crystal.

"Shit!" I swore.

It was impossible to win against both of them, so I had to take him out. I dived at the human and grabbed onto his torso, knocking him to the ground. The sword slipped from his hand and we tumbled in the snow, rolling once or twice before he landed on top of me and pinned my shoulders to the ground.

He grinned like he'd won, but then I shoved a handful of snow into his eyes. I used my hands and legs to throw him off balance, pushing him away.

I rolled to my feet, so did he, and we both stood there glaring at each other. Neither of us willing to give in.

The human screamed in rage, pulled a knife from his coat, then dashed towards me like he fully intended to rip me to pieces.

I fled towards the frozen wall along the cliff's edge. It was impossible to climb over, but there was another way through.

"I don't know why the Soul Market even gave you a job," I taunted to enrage him. "You can't even catch one weak little soul!"

"Screw you, sinner!" he cried and sprinted after me.

I stopped before the wall of ice and unfolded a crumpled piece of paper from my back pocket. Unlike the carefully designed circle in the snow, it was a mess of angry lines like the ink had exploded on the page. I placed the red crystal on the edge of the paper and the lines immediately began to glow a fiery crimson. I slammed the paper down onto the ground just as the human tackled me. He pinned me to the wall of ice and pulled out a rope to bind my hands together, but that's when my spell exploded downwards through the cliff.

The ground shuddered. The cliff began to crack and splinter, then collapsed beneath us before the human had a chance to flee. We both plummeted hundreds of feet, then landed with a crash amongst the rocks at the base of the cliff.

I was slightly phased from the fall but completely unharmed. Easily dodging falling rocks to avoid them pinning me to the ground.

I'd won.

I laughed in glee, but then turned around. The laughter instantly died in my throat.

Crushed among the debris was the body of the human man. The back of his head had smashed against the ground on impact, killing him instantly. Blood splattered the rocks and his legs had been crushed by falling stone, but the most disturbing thing was his face.

I hadn't paid much attention to his appearance when he was trying to catch me, so it was like I was seeing him clearly for the first time. His eyes were frozen wide open in terror, and the skin around them was smooth. He couldn't have been any older than eighteen, and looked more like a frightened teenager than a deadly soul hunter. His coat was also worn and full of badly sewn patches. Like he never had the money to buy another.

I covered my mouth in horror and slowly backed away.

He wasn't much different from me. A young man who'd been forced onto that mountain through poverty and bad luck.

I turned away and pulled my hood over my face. Trying my best to forget that man, but his image was already firmly burned into my mind. Ready to haunt me at every hint of self-doubt.

I put one foot before the other and walked away as snow began to fall.

There was no time to stand around feeling sad.

As much as it pained me, I had to bury my remorse and keep going if I hoped to stay ahead of the Soul Market.

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