Published October 22, 2017 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 39

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.

Another Damned Soul Market

One week later.

After years of being passed from master to master, I'd inevitably become an expert in Soul Markets.

It wasn't difficult.

No matter where they sent me it was always the same.

Same cheap stone building full of badly lit hallways and rusty cages. Same dark stone floors which had never been scrubbed. Same disregard for beings like me.

The smart managers would always cram as many souls into a cage as possible. New produce to the front, and the broken and crazy in some corner at the back.

I would watch the souls around me sob for hours, while others would amuse themselves by watching the customers. Arms crossed and faces emotionless, like they no longer cared who bought them.

Decades earlier I was a fresh show piece that they'd advertise in a glass window, but on that day, they shoved me into a cage with one fool who'd never experienced the real Underworld.

"Chipper's me name," said the young soul with a smile so bright that I wanted to slap him in the face. "And you?"

"Go screw yourself," I snapped and continued my drawing.

I was sketching a large magic diagram into the floor using a fragment of stone. I had no materials to activate it, so the most I could do was to draw away and imagine it exploding.

Chipper crossed his arms and pouted in the corner, until he worked up the courage to speak once more. "You know. That wasn't very nice." He sounded genuinely upset, even though I went easy on the idiot. "I was only trying to be friends."

"Listen," I snapped. "I don't know what kind of soft life you've had until now, but this is the Underworld. If you hope to get through the next few years with your sanity intact, then you better give up on the idea of friends."

"Why not? Friends are great! They make you feel all warm and happy on the inside. I had plenty of friends back at my mistress' home. We may have been split up after she passed away, but I'm certain that we'll all meet again."

The stupidity of his words was enough to make me laugh. I had to stop drawing as my body began to shake.

Chipper blinked in confusion. Like his naive mind couldn't comprehend what was so funny.

"Really? Is that what you think?" I laughed. "That some kind master will just come along and sweep you off your feet, to be reunited with your precious friends?"

"Of course! What's wrong with that?"

His eyes sparkled with hope. Like he fully believed the crap spilling out of his mouth.

I reached out, grabbed his shirt, and tugged him towards me until my lips were just before his ear. "Listen you fool," I hissed. "Forget the life you had before. You're now second hand goods. And those shitty people out there," I tilted my head to outside the cage. "Aren't looking for friends. They've come here to find a new slave. For some crappy factory, decrepit house, or to test out any sick fantasies that they've created in their fucked up minds. And that's how it's gonna be. For as long as you exist. Over and over again until they erase you from this place. There's no such thing as happy endings for souls. All that's waiting out there for you is despair and death."

I then shoved him away and continued my sketching.

Chipper rubbed his eyes and his gaze fell to the floor. I thought that may have been enough to shut the idiot up, but he still had more to say.

"I don't believe you," he muttered.


"I said that I don't believe you!" he cried more confidently. "My mistress was selfless and kind! And my next master will be the same! I just know it!"

"And where are you going to find this great master of yours."

"Out there of course!" He pointed to the mortal scum walking around the market.

"Really?" I scoffed. "I don't see them."

"What do you mean? There are plenty of great masters. Like that old man over there." He pointed to an elderly man with white hair and two washed out souls trailing behind him. "I can tell that someone like him must have a gentle heart and soul."

"If he's so great, then why do those souls look so miserable. They haven't said a word since they walked in, and I doubt they're allowed to. What sort of great man owns souls who are too afraid to speak?"

"Well… maybe he's a little hard to get along with... but how about that woman over there!" He pointed to a middle-aged housewife in a frumpy pink dress. "She looks so lovely. I'd be happy to go home with someone like her."

"Probably looking for someone to raise her children while she and her husband go out on the town."

"That doesn't sound too bad."

"That's what you think, until you meet them. Spoiled manipulative brats who'll lie, cheat, and do anything they can to get you in trouble."

"Then how about that guy?" He pointed to a young unshaven man who just walked in. He looked around the market in confusion like it was his first time.

"A student who's finally scraped enough money together to buy a soul," I said while examining the guy from head to toe. "He's just left his rich parents, with no idea how to cook or clean. He'll be too busy studying to even notice anyone there. Not a bad choice, if you want a few quiet years."

"So you're saying that I should get him to buy me?"

"No. Because he'll be buying me instead." I grinned. "Hey!" I called out to the young guy and pointed to the bargain board that the staff had attached to my cage. "Thirty pounds! A real steal, right? You're never gonna find another loyal soul this cheap in town!"

I thought I'd done an excellent job at convincing him, but instead of walking over to take a closer look, he just huffed and turned away.

The arrogant brat!

I clenched my teeth as Chipper giggled beside me. I returned to my picture. Violently hacking away at the floor as I tried to suppress my embarrassment.

If only the Soul Market hadn't stripped me of my crystals when I was resold. If I had one in the cage with me I would have blown up that dump.

"And this," echoed the voice of one stern salesmen as he strolled through the room. "Is where you can find our most recent arrivals."

He was the only mortal there who seemed to give a damn about his job. Grey suit perfectly ironed and black shoes well polished. He was followed by a young woman with long black hair and dark olive skin. Large eyes wide in surprised before they quickly narrowed with annoyance. Her dark blue dress blended well with the darkness, and I could tell from the quality of the material that she must have been loaded.

They were accompanied by a short elderly woman in an apron. A mortal servant, I guessed, because her mistress didn't seem the slightest bit interested in purchasing a soul.

"I can't believe that you tricked me into coming to this deplorable dump," the woman angrily muttered to her servant. "Just look at these conditions. I don't know how the governors sleep at night."

"There's no need to worry about that," said that shitty salesman. "I can assure you that each and every soul, knew the full terms and conditions of their contract before agreeing to sell themselves. And were all handsomely rewarded for their trouble while alive. Despite appearances, they're more than happy to serve, and can adapt to any kind of living conditions."

"Bullshit," I hissed under my breath.

"But-" said the angry woman before her servant interrupted.

"Please take a look," rasped the servant. "I won't be here forever. It would put me at ease if there was someone to look after you once I'm gone."

The woman still didn't look convinced, so the salesman decided to but in. "I do have one soul who would be right for you," he said. "She's only had one master before, and is highly adept in cooking and cleaning. I'm certain that the two of you could get along wonderfully."

"That's very nice," snapped the woman as though still trying her best to sound polite. "But I have no need for a soul."

"Many satisfied soul owners once said the exact same thing. But after they got their first soul, there was no turning back! A soul can be used in any way you want, madam. It's entirely up to you. She could be just a servant, or a loyal friend to accompany you through the rest of your life."

"Just one soul," begged the servant. "Then I'll never ask anything from you again."

I thought the angry woman would protest, but she instead sighed in defeat. "Fine. Just one look," she muttered.

"Excellent!" The salesman merrily clapped his hands. "Now if you could please follow me this way. I'm certain that she'll be just thrilled to meet you."

I growled and looked away. I couldn't explain why, but I felt a small hint of disappointment that he hadn't mentioned me. Like I was so old and used that my only potential buyers were arseholes and scum.

I went back to hacking at the floor, trying my best to destroy as much of that place as possible.

"That's magic," said a voice, and I turned to see the young woman peering through the bars of my cage. Dark eyes wide in surprise as she examined my drawing. "Wherever did you learn that?"

I grinned. Confident that I could sway the situation in my favor.

"When you've lived as long as I have, you're bound to pick up a few things, young miss." I gradually moved towards her. Lips curving up into the most seductive smile I could master. "Cooking, cleaning, threading, reading, a few magic tricks here and there. Whatever a beautiful woman's heart or body could possibly desire. Buy me now and I'll show you everything."

Despite my shameless speech, she still looked intrigued, but the salesman was beside her in an instant with a scowl on his face. Angrily glaring like he knew exactly what I was.

"I highly doubt that this one is suitable for what you'll require," he said as pleasantly as he could. "If you'd rather a male, I can direct you to several far better souls. Take this one for example." He pointed to Chipper. "He's a kind and considerate soul with only glowing recommendations."

Chipper's face broke out into a giant smile, and his transparent skin seemed to glow three shades brighter.

"If I buy you, will you tell me how a soul can learn to do magic," said the young woman like she hadn't listened to a word.

"Of course," I smiled. "Whatever you desire, Mistress."

"I'll take this one," she said to the salesman.

"Josephine," said the servant. "Perhaps you should at least take a look at the other soul-"

"You asked me to get a soul and now I've found one," the young woman snapped. "That's what you wanted, right?"

"Of course," said the servant. "I'm sure that this one will be," she paused and looked at me as though searching for the right words. "Wonderful."

I observed my new mistress during the carriage ride home. Making sure to only glance at her from the corner of my eye as I pretended to be immersed in the scenery outside.

Josephine sat straight with her hands in her lap, often nervously brushing her fingers over the pattern on her dress, before she realized what she was doing and quickly composed herself.

I caught her watching me, so I turned to face her and smiled. Doing my harmless servant act.

"What should I call you?" she asked hesitantly.

"Whatever you like, Mistress," I pleasantly replied.

"Yes, but what's your real name?"

"I'm a soul Mistress. I have no real name."

"Then what did your previous masters call you?"

"Whatever they wanted."

My mistress looked taken back for a moment. As though I was her grand introduction to the world of soul slavery.

"Then..." Words failed her for a short moment. "What would you like me to call you?"

"It matters little to me, Mistress. Any name will do. Many masters often choose the name of their favorite childhood pet, snack, or military leader-"

"No, that sounds terrible." She shook her head. "I'd rather you tell me."

"Of course." My smile faltered. "As you wish, Mistress." I quickly racked my brain for any name which could please her.

For some reason I was suddenly reminded of a day long ago when I was asked a similar question.

"Ethan." I wanted to kick myself as soon as that name left my mouth. I don't know why I said that, but it was already too late. I lost the confidence to look her in the eyes, then reassured myself that it was only a name, so why should it matter? "If it pleases you, Mistress... you may call me Ethan."