Published November 27, 2017 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 42

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.

Josephine spent the evening holed up in her study after the incident in the laundry. I hadn't seen a master spend so many hours researching since my days with Alistair.

I once glanced through a crack in the door to find her bent over the desk. Pouring over countless textbooks by a dull yellow lamp. Every once in awhile she'd sigh in frustration, and lean back in the leather chair. Massaging her temples as though whatever she was searching for was still far out of reach.

She continued late into the night, and I didn't see her again until noon the next day.

I walked past the dining room to find Josephine sitting at the long oak table, absently chewing on an apple while flipping through a small book. Blankly staring at the paper like she was too exhausted to concentrate. Often flipping back to previous pages like her mind had gone elsewhere.

I was curious as to what held my mistress' attention. A less experienced soul would have just asked, but I'd found ways of getting information using the subtlest means possible.

"Your lunch, Mistress." I laid a tray of fresh bread and vegetable soup before her.

She put down her book and blinked. "Ethan, this looks amazing. Wherever did you get the bread?"

"I baked it this morning of course." I poured tea into a small ceramic cup and placed it before her, along with a small cube of sugar and a miniature jug of milk. I took the opportunity to lean a little further forward to get a better look at her book.

A History of Soul Slavery in the Second Century, said the cover in small black letters.

Someone was suddenly interested in souls.

"You made this?" Josephine picked up the bread roll to examine it. "But this is just like the bakeries in town." She broke off a small piece and dipped it into the soup. Then popped it straight into her mouth without even stopping to consider whether it was poisoned. "And delicious too," she beamed.

"Thank you, Mistress." I smiled. "Your compliments mean the world to me."

It was then that Macy walked past the room and winked. I had no idea what the old woman was plotting, but she seemed far too eager to allow an old broken soul to wait on her precious mistress.

I ignored Macy and turned my attention back to Josephine. "I also had a chance to collect your mail, Mistress."

Josephine almost choked on her bread. She sat there bent over the table, coughing for almost a minute, until she regained the ability to form words.

"You did what!" she cried in horror.

"Your mailbox was overflowing onto the street, so I emptied it this morning."

"And you're still alive!"

"Well, there were a few explosives, some suspicious powder, and a package of nails which exploded and unfortunately shredded one of the shirts you kindly provided. But as I explained before, such physical dangers can't harm a soul."

"Oh…. Yes...of course." Josephine hesitantly nodded like she was recalling the moment that I showed her the true nature of my form.

I pulled several envelopes from my pocket and placed them down on the table. Josephine picked them up and examined the addresses, eyes widening in surprise like she recognized them well.

"Thank you Ethan," she said softly. "This is very kind of you, but there really is no need to-"

"There is no need for such words, Mistress," I interrupted. "I am a mere soul that you purchased-"


"Therefore it's my duty to serve you to the best of my ability." I solemnly bowed. "Nothing less."

Josephine sighed in frustration and looked back to her letters. Clearly irritated by my attitude, but decided to let it go.

That should have been a small victory for me, but I couldn't feel anything.

What I didn't tell Josephine, was about the messages I found hidden amongst explosives and poison. Long angry rants that went on for pages. Calling her dreadful things, and telling her to die in the most horrific ways.

I couldn't understand why my harmless looking mistress was the target of such hate, and I could only assume that it was the price she had to pay for going against the interests of the rich and powerful.

When Josephine wasn't in parliament, she was preparing for parliament, collecting donations, or writing letters in an attempt to gain more support. Her entire existence seemed to revolve around one social cause after another, with very little time left over for anything else.

I'd never met anyone like that before, and I found it hard to understand why someone as well off as Josephine, cared so much about improving the lives of those below her. Especially when she seemed to get nothing in return, except for the continued threats to her life.

I accompanied her door knocking that afternoon in an attempt to get some answers. But all I did was watch her go from door to door. Trying to appeal to people who couldn't care less.

"Please consider signing this petition," she begged an elderly man from the doorway of his two story brick home. "The city orphanage is beyond capacity with little medical support. They're literally just throwing children out onto the street, and that's if some disease doesn't kill them first. Parliament has so far rejected any plans to increase taxes on the rich but-"

And that was the moment he slammed the door in her face.

"Please reconsider!" Josephine cried, but no one came to answer. She raised her fist as though to beat the door in, but regained control of her emotions and turned away.

"Perhaps we'll have more luck at the next house," I said from the base of the stairs. There was a large pile of flyers balancing in my hands. All printed with large slogans, such as reduce child poverty and make a better future for the next generation.

Josephine took a sheet from the pile and deposited it into the mailbox at the base of the house.

"These people have no concern for anything that doesn't involve them," she angrily muttered. "They think they're above everyone else."

"Such an unfortunate thing, Mistress."

"I'm sorry Ethan," she sighed. "You must be tired. You're more than welcome to go home and rest."

Her words made me laugh.

"What's so funny?" she asked.

"Just your concern, Mistress." I smiled. "Out of all the work I've been forced to do, following you around town as you knock on doors must be the easiest of them all."

Those words silenced her for a few minutes. She chewed on her lower lip, and I could almost see the thoughts turning over in her mind.

"I've done some thinking, Ethan. If you're so insistent on making me meals and cleaning my home, then it's only right that I give you some kind of compensation in return."


"I mean money, of course."

"And what would I do with money," I laughed. "I don't eat, and you've already provided me with clothes."

"You could use it to buy something nice."

"Which would be taken away the moment that I change masters. It's impossible for a soul to hold onto any physical possessions."

"But there has to be something you want?"

To be honest, there were plenty of things that I wanted. My dead friends back. To not be a slave. To live as I liked without ever having to deal with the Soul Market. None of which Josephine was even remotely capable of providing.

"There's nothing," I lied. "Just your presence itself is enough for me, Mistress."

Because as long as she owned me, I could take a short break from the horrors of her kind.

Josephine didn't look pleased. "Why is it that you always say such strange things," she muttered.

"Well, if it isn't Miss Beaumont!" cried a man's voice from across the street.

I looked towards the voice, to see the old man with glasses who lectured Josephine at parliament, poking his head out of a gleaming black carriage window. He ordered his driver to move closer, and the carriage halted on the street beside us.

"Good day to you, gentlemen," replied Josephine coldly. Her face was blank, but I could see her lips twitching as though she was trying her best to control her emotions.

"By Azazel! It's her!" laughed the voice of another man who I didn't know. He pulled back the carriage curtain to unveil four of them inside. All politicians dressed in immaculate black suits. Intently staring down at us like we were barely worth their time. "And with a soul. Going from door to door asking for handouts like a beggar."

"I'd expect nothing less from the great Miss Beaumont," laughed another arsehole.

"Oh the hypocrisy!"

"If my memory serves me correctly, wasn't it you Miss Beaumont who called on us to boycott the soul trade?"

"If no one buys souls, then the whole industry will crumble," said one of them in a high pitched voice, which I guessed was a bad impression of Josephine. "Then all the poor little Earth folk will be saved."

"And yet here you are with the very thing that you worked so hard to abolish. I only knew it was a matter of time before your true colors shone through."

"What do you have to say to that, Miss Beaumont?"

"Unlike some people, my own personal life has nothing to do with my policies." Josephine's voice was so frosty that even I felt uneasy. "What I choose to do in my private time is no concern to you."

"Poor return, poor return," the first guy laughed. "Let's see how your supporters will respond when they discover that their great marta for social justice can't even follow her own policies."

"Onward driver!" one of them cried, and the carriage rolled back out onto the street.

Josephine stood there frozen and glared at the carriage as it disappeared into the distance. Her shaking hands clenched into fists.

"Mistress?" I asked when she didn't move.

"Please go home, Ethan." Her voice sounded so weak and exhausted. Josephine almost looked towards me, but then quickly glanced away.

"But your door knocking?"

"It's almost finished. All I need is a few more signatures, and then I'll take them to parliament myself."

"But the thugs from yester-"

"Have probably learnt their lesson, and won't bother me again."


"Just go home Ethan. Please," she begged.

I could have argued more, but a good soul should never question their master.

"As you wish, Mistress," I said with a bow and then left her alone.

Unlike Josephine, I didn't believe that the men who attacked her would give up so easily. I'd seen the desperation in their eyes because I'd experienced it myself. Mortals like that would have done anything in order to scrape a few bucks together.

That's why I went to find them.

I silently patrolled the roads, back alleys, and rooftops around parliament. Keeping to the shadows and trying my best not to draw attention.

I told myself that my actions were to protect my place with an easy master, and had nothing to do with any concern for Josephine's safety.

I eventually found the thugs lurking in an alley close to where we fought the previous day. Crouched against a brick wall covered in obscene chalk graffiti. One guy would occasionally glance around the corner for any sign of Josephine, while the others smoked and played cards.

There were five idiots this time, and the magic user was gone. Probably still recovering from having half his teeth knocked out.

"Where's that bitch?" growled Pipe Guy impatiently as he glared at the cards in his hand. This time there were two large steel pipes resting against the wall behind him. Like getting another one would somehow double his chances.

"Shouldn't be too long," muttered the idiot who I poked in the eyes. They were still bright red like he had yet to recover. "That stuck up bitch and her soul will pay for yesterday."

"Really? Is that so?" I said from the shadows at the end of the lane.

They immediately dropped their cards and hastily jumped to their feet. Eyes wide and faces pale like they'd just seen a ghost.

They then ripped out their weapons. Another pipe, two knives, and a short sword. An interesting combination, but still manageable.

"It's the fucking soul from yesterday!" Red Eyes cried like the others hadn't already worked that out.

"I'm only going to say this once, so listen well," I said coldly. All the fake politeness gone from my voice. "Leave now, and don't come anywhere near Josephine Beaumont again."

Pipe guy dumbly blinked, like a soul threatening him was too much to comprehend. His face broke out into a grin, once those words finally penetrated his thick skull.

"Is that a joke?" the fool laughed. "You actually think that we're gonna listen to a fricken soul?"

"You will, if you know what's good for you," I replied.

"Are you actually threatening us?"

They all laughed behind him. Oh, how that was going to change.

"You don't scare us," Pipe Guy said while making an obscene gesture with his fingers. "You're a fucking dead ghost, fool!"

"So you're not gonna run?" I asked.

"Of course not! Didn't you listen to a damn word I just said!"

"Well then." I calmly pulled a handful of knives from my pocket. The freshly sharpened blades glimmered in the darkness. "I guess that it's time to play."

It was quiet that evening. I spent an hour carefully repairing my shirt, then found myself tackling the mess that was Josephine's study. Macy was too nervous to use the ladder herself, so she asked me to help her move all the books from the floor onto the upper shelves.

She passed them to me one by one, and I obediently arranged them into neat lines where the light couldn't reach. Trying my best not to show any interest in the ones that I desperately wanted to read.

Then there was a yawn.

I looked down to see Macy tiredly leaning against the bookcase. Eyes drooping as though she would nod off to sleep at any moment.

"I could finish up here, if you'd like," I offered.

My words made her jump, but she quickly composed herself. "Oh, that's very kind of you, Ethan dear." She brushed the dust from her apron. "But it's getting late. It's probably best if we rest up and leave this till morning."

"It's no real trouble." I smiled. "We souls don't require much rest, so I can easily keep working a little longer."

I thought she'd put up more of a fight, (only a fool would leave a stranger alone with such important things) but Macy removed a key from her pocket and placed it on the desk.

"Just make sure to lock up once you're finished," she tiredly said with a smile, then left the room.

I said goodnight and made a show of diligently working, but as soon as I heard her bedroom door click shut, I shoved the book in my hand onto the shelf and descended the ladder.

At long last I was free from her gaze.

Across the room on the opposite bookcase, sat a collection of books that I had yet to examine. The spines were too worn and dusty to read, but I could make out several words which grabbed my attention.

I pulled one book off the shelf to examine it closely. Rubbing the dust away with my jacket sleeve.

Magical Theories and More, said the faded letters.

It confirmed what I'd long suspected.

Josephine was a magic user.

There was no doubt that the punch she used was a magical spell, along with the chant she used to unlock the back gate. Other than that, I saw her do no other incantations, which was unlike other magic users who'd perform spells daily like breathing air.

I placed the book under the desk lamp to read it more clearly. The language was complex and difficult to decipher, but I scanned the pictures and diagrams for anything I could use to improve my few pitiful spells. Carefully keeping one eye on the door in case Josephine or Macy suddenly appeared.

"So there is something that you're interested in after all," echoed Josephine's voice throughout the room.

I jumped in shock and looked straight at the doorway, but of course she wasn't there.

My mistress instead emerged from a gap between two bookcases. No doubt through a hidden door that I'd missed. It made me question whether I was the one watching her, or the other way round. What had she seen? How much did she know, but didn't let on?

"I must apologize, Mistress." I slowly closed the book. Trying my best to remain calm despite how much I wanted to flee. "My curiosity must have gotten the better of me."

Josephine walked over and I suppressed the urge to back away. Everything depended on my ability to remain natural and composed.

She leaned against the desk and examined the cover. Giving me a clear view of her exposed shoulders and neck. There wasn't a scratch on her, so I could only assume that there were no other threats waiting for her in the dark.

The men from the alley weren't dead, but I highly doubted they'd be walking any time soon. They may have put up a decent fight, but their constant miscalculations about a soul's body had been their downfall.

"Magical theories? An interesting choice." Josephine looked straight at me, and it took every ounce of effort not to shy away. "But I can't say that I'm surprised."

"It just caught my eye, Mistress." I picked up the book and went to return it to the shelf. "I do enjoy looking at the pictures."

"If you're so interested in magic, then I can teach you!" she called out from behind me.

"That's a very kind offer," I laughed while climbing the ladder. Too nervous to realize that I was returning the book to the wrong side of the room. "But as you already know, it's impossible for a soul to channel magic. It would only be a waste of your time."

"Then how about as payment!" She stood at the base of the shelf looking up. I was impressed by the ferocity of her eyes. "If you don't want money or physical things, then how about knowledge instead? That's something that can never be taken away from you, right?"

"Mistress..." was the beginning of my protest, but then I realized that I had nothing to say.

Before me lay a shelf full of magical books, like a scene from Alistair's study. The place that I still dreamed of when all hope was lost.

For one small moment I was suddenly the Ethan of two centuries earlier. The naive boy who fantasized of learning great magic, and dreamed of an impossible future which could never come true.

I knew that dreams were stupid and should be forgotten, but what was wrong with allowing myself to give into stupid dreams once more.

If only for a short while.

"Fine. You have a deal, Mistress."

01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 5051 ,52, 53