Published December 21, 2017 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 44

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.

I couldn't sleep well that evening. My thoughts kept me awake. Partially because I was reminded that my mistress' death would inevitably come, and also because I'd begun to reflect.

When I was alone, and all was quiet, I thought of everything I'd seen and done. Alistair's mansion, the factory, the war, the souls who I tormented myself. I was once in their position, and knew exactly how it felt, yet I still broke their fighting spirit and used them to get what I wanted.

Perhaps I was just as bad as Foreman and all his sick friends.

"Oh, Ethan, you should have known that once you went that far, you'd never be able to live with yourself," echoed Alistair's voice from a dark corner of my room.

But I looked to see nothing there.

I began studying through the nights to distract myself from my own thoughts. Spending hours alone in the study. Reading any book or scripture I could get my hands on. Only immersing myself in those ancient pages seemed to make the voices disappear.

Someway through the first week, my tired brain decided that it would be a great idea to mix magical chalk with black ink, and I set to proving my theory at once. Painting page after page of paper diagrams in the laundry. Some so large that they consumed most of the floor.

I would rip them to pieces and start again at the smallest mistake. Consumed by a morbid search for perfection.

But it was wrong to immerse myself in silence.

With every stroke of the brush I thought of how things could have been different. If I had made better decisions, then people would not have suffered. If I had tried harder, then perhaps some of my friends would still be in this world.

But no matter how many grand ideas or brilliant plans I thought up, there was no way to change the past.

I had no choice but to live with my own actions.

Sometime during the night I gave into exhaustion and collapsed on top of my own work. Sleeping there for hours until I was awoken by the sound of someone moving around the room.

I tiredly opened my eyes to see Josephine sitting beside me on the floor, examining one of my paintings in the morning sun.

"Sorry. Did I wake you?" she asked softly.

"No, it's fine," I whispered, but then remembered formalities. "Mistress."

I sat up and rubbed my eyes, fingers smudged with dry ink. The black diagram clearly printed onto my white shirt.

Josephine covered her mouth and averted her gaze in a poor attempt to conceal her laughter.

I rushed to the porcelain sink and furiously scrubbed my hands, trying my best to remove all the ink. I soon discovered that it was also smeared through my hair and across my face. Like a small child who'd just discovered finger paint.

Josephine coughed and attempted to compose herself. "Nice idea." She gently ran her fingers along my painting in search of any mistakes. "Mixing the chalk and ink together. Definitely makes it easier to see what you've done, not to mention more portable. But does it actually work?"

"There's only one way to find out," I said while furiously scrubbing my hands with a bar of soap.

"Just do me a favor and try not to blow up my house in the process."

"I'll try my best, Mistress."

Josephine rolled her eyes, perhaps yet again unimpressed with my answer. She pulled herself to her feet and brushed the dust from her dress.

"I'm heading off to parliament. I'll be back sometime this evening."

"But Mistress-" I tried to protest, shocked that she was going back there again after all the attempts on her life, but Josephine quickly cut me off.

"Don't Mistress me," she snapped back. Ferociously stabbing one finger in my direction to emphasize her words. "What I choose to do with the rest of my life is my own decision. I will be there, and nothing in Hell can stop me."

I sighed in defeat, and weakly scrubbed my face. All the while wondering how I could get her out of the next mess that she'd inevitably create for herself.

"But," she said hesitantly. "You're more than welcome to come along ... if you want." Her face blushed crimson then she quickly looked away.

I examined Josephine curiously. Wondering what could possibly cause such a reaction in the stern woman. But such thoughts were quickly brushed aside by the joy of being invited. "Just give me a moment," I said and rushed to change my clothes.

It wasn't long before we encountered our first sign of trouble. A small group of thugs patiently waiting for us on the street. They were different from the men who attacked her before. Younger, perhaps more naïve, wearing worn and mismatched suits in a terrible attempt to blend in.

They pretended to be immersed in a conversation about politics, rattling off names of people who didn't even exist, but soon dropped their newspapers and briefcases when they saw us coming. One of them ripped out a potato sack full of wooden bats from behind a fence, then eagerly passed them around to the other six men.

"Jossie Belmont!" cried their leader. An emaciated teenager who'd probably lived most of his life on the street. "Get ready to meet your maker!"

The idiots charged towards us. Screaming profanities while wildly swinging their bats like they'd never been in a real fight.

Josephine glanced at me and smiled. "Ready?"

"Ready." I nodded back.

I ripped out a large sheet of paper from my jacket and rolled it out onto the ground. Unveiling one of the diagrams I'd painted the previous night. I took a red crystal from my pocket and placed it on the far corner.

The symbols lit up instantly, then red smoke and fireworks sprung forth from the center of the page. Incinerating the paper and clouding the street. It wasn't what I hoped for, but it was something.

"What the fuck!" One thug cried in surprise.

"Run!" Josephine grabbed my hand and we dashed through the smoke. Laughing together like children as the thugs swore and blindly swung their own bats into each other.

"You'll need to make more of those!" she laughed.

We ran free of the smoke and dashed towards parliament. Ready to face any challenge that those sly corrupt politicians threw our way.

I wasn't sure how it happened, but Josephine's dreams slowly became my own. Perhaps I wanted to atone for my past mistakes, or forget my old self, but I came to believe in her cause.

I thought that if we worked hard, then we could fix it all. Poverty, inequality, the Soul Market. Together we could make a better world where no one would have to suffer again.

But such dreams were only dreams in the end.

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