Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Ch27

Story Summary

Long ago I sold my soul and doomed myself to an eternity in the Underworld. I was treated like a slave for centuries, but no more! I'll find a way out of this destiny or die trying!

Chapter: 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

"Great, isn't it!" Lucas proudly pointed to his second story brick home. One of the front windows was broken, and the roof looked as though it would collapse at any moment, but the young man still gazed up at that dump like it was a glorious mansion.

"It's...beautiful, Master," I dryly replied. My voice dripping with fake awe. "Never before have I seen... a home so wonderful."

"It looked a lot better before," he muttered. "Back when uncle was still alive. But then that old geezer had to go die on me without leaving any money for repairs."

"How terrible that must have been."

"You don't know the half of it," he muttered. "Come on. I'll show you inside."

Lucas placed a key into the rusty lock, then shoved the door open with his shoulder when it became stuck. "I've been living out here ever since my stingy parents kicked me out. Got all the money in the world, yet refuse to share it with their only son."

"How cruel of them, Young Master."

"I'd be out on the street right now if my uncle hadn't left me this place."

"Your stories of suffering and endurance bring tears to a soul's eyes."

"If that wasn't bad enough, I've been asking for a servant for years, but they still refuse to get me one. Like they honestly expect me to clean things myself."

"What monsters!"

Lucas wasn't joking about the cleaning, and he then led me through a kitchen with dishes piled high and a stained table littered with bread crumbs. There was a faint scratching in the walls which may have been rats.

We walked into a cluttered sitting room with dark red wall paper, gold plated lanterns, and antique furniture hidden beneath dirty clothing and trash. I doubted that he'd cleaned a thing in his life.

"Right, you can start here," huffed Lucas like dragging strangers through the door to clean his house was an everyday event. "And then once you're finished, you can do the kitchen and bathroom. And make sure to get the area under the tub. My parent's lazy soul would always clean around it like he thought we were blind."

"It would be…. My pleasure, Young Master." I tried to suppress my own irritation. It would take days to fix that dump, and I was afraid of Soul Market bosses changing their minds. There was no time to waste on a spoilt kid. "I apologize for my own curiosity, but I faintly recall you mentioning a library. I can't help but wonder what sort of collection a brilliant man like yourself must possess."

"Oh, yeah, that." Lucas pointed to the far wall. "There it is."

I followed his gaze to see one bookshelf in the corner, only slightly taller than myself. It had an assortment of worn law textbooks crammed into any available space, but it wouldn't pass as a library.

"Great, isn't it?" Lucas grinned and led me over to take a closer look. I caught sight of several romance novels and a children's picture book. "I don't mean to brag, but I do have one of the largest collections on the street."

"It's…. Awe inspiring...Young Master."

It was a miracle that he didn't pick up on my sarcasm.

"I don't know why you're so interested in this sort of thing, Tulip. Everyone knows that souls have no use for books."

"I like to look at the pictures," I said with the enthusiasm of someone who'd rattled off that excuse too many times to count.

"The pictures?"

"They….. Make me happy."

"Oh," he said with surprise. "Well, to each his own, I suppose. You're free to take a browse once you've finish cleaning everything."

"Your generosity never ceases to amaze me, Young Master."

"I trust that you can get this all done by morning. Unless you are really useless. Then I suppose that I'll just hand you back to the Soul Market to get destroyed."

"Oh, there's no need to worry about that," I said with a brilliant smile. "I have no doubt that you'll find my work… satisfactory."

Lucas glanced at me, and I saw what could have been a brief flash of apprehension flicker within his eyes. I thought that I may have underestimated the young man, but then he quickly cast his doubts aside and chose to put his faith in the strange soul that he picked up off the street.

"I hope so," he muttered, then walked out of the room.

I actually made a show of cleaning up his crap, in case Lucas returned. Neatly folding clothes and shoving the rubbish into one pile, but I dashed straight to the bookcase once I was certain that the young man had retired for the night.

I scanned every volume in search of anything I could use, but what few magic books he had were all basic and useless. Nothing more than easy chants for children and beginners.

But I didn't give up there.

I went through the rest of the house in search of some grand library that could be hiding away, but all I uncovered were dusty spare rooms. Full of cobwebs and broken furniture which hadn't been used in decades. After an hour of searching, I found nothing in that dump which could help me reach my goal.

"Screw this crap," I muttered after taking one look at a moldy bathroom. I didn't fight for my freedom just to waste time waiting on another overindulged brat. It was better to take my chances back on the street.

I pulled back the bathroom curtains to formulate an escape route, but two Soul Market agents were already waiting outside. The moraless bastards were smoking on the side of the road while patiently waiting for my escape attempt. Rugged up in large coats while pacing back and forth to keep themselves warm. One of them gave me the finger when he saw me glancing through the window.

I clenched my fist and allowed the disintegrating curtain to fall back into place.

They had me trapped.

The old me would have been consumed by fear and soon given up...but I wasn't that soul anymore. If they wanted to play a waiting game, then they'd be the ones to lose. I may have been nothing, had nothing, trapped in a useless dump with a new shitty master, but that wouldn't stop me. I could still achieve the impossible. Even in those dismal circumstances, I'd show everyone what a soul named Ethan was capable of.

For the next few weeks I was the perfect soul. If anyone was watching. I cleaned that disgusting place and attended to Lucas' childish whims. Passively taking his shit while reassuring myself that he'd be the last person that I'd ever wait on.

"This is too bland," Lucas complained about a bread roll which would have pleased even the fussiest of masters. "My parent's soul did a better job."

"I'm sorry that it's not to your liking, Young Master," I politely said through clenched teeth while washing the dishes. I kept one eye outside to the Soul Market agents who were watching the house. They'd continued to stalk me in shifts, but my dull routine had them bored to tears.

"Florence's was much sweeter," Lucas continued. Completely oblivious to the agents outside. "And the texture was better, so make it like that."

"I'll try my best, Young Master." I obediently replied despite having no idea how to achieve his vague expectations.

"You better, or I might just have to go into town and have a talk with the Soul Market. They said that I can send you back there whenever I want. The manager even offered to let me watch as they erase your existence."

"I doubt that will be necessary, Young Master," I said for the third time that day. As thick as he was, Lucas had worked out that I didn't want to die. He'd taken to threatening me whenever he felt like it. Such a pathetic attempt to keep me in line.

"I also need my shirt washed and ironed, Tulip. I'll be attending a party at Anson's mansion this evening, so it has to be ready by six."

"How spectacular, Young Master," I said without thinking, but then realized that such information could be of use. "I have no doubt that a great man, such as yourself, must have many important friends."

"Well, I don't mean to brag." That's always what he said before the bragging started. "But I've personally met the sons of some of the most famous magical masters in town."

"And who would be the strongest magical master in town?"

"That would be Lord Bellerive. His father was an immortal who lived over three hundred years."

"And such a great master must surely reside in a large mansion, correct?"

"You'd think, but he sold it and moved into a dull house in the middle of town. Apparently because it's closer to the shops, or something."

"The shops on main street?"

"Yes, near the bank." Lucas paused. "Why ever are you asking so many questions?"

"Oh." I rushed to think up any excuse I could use to distract him from my real goal. "I just love the sound of your voice, Young Master." I cringed at how stupid that sounded. "It's….. like a choir of birds on a pleasant spring day….. as though pure joy has taken the form of sound. Why, I could listen to you for hours without ever getting bored."

As long as you blab the locations of every useful man in town, I thought to myself.

Lucas suddenly choked on his food. "Tulip," he coughed. "I think that we need to have a conversation about boundaries."

"Whatever for, Young Master?"

"You should know that I'm not… that."

"Like that?"

"A man who...spends intimate time with other men."

Oh, so he thought that I was trying to hit on him.

"But Young Master," I said with a wicked grin that would have made Alistair proud. "Your dashing smile and glimmering locks are enough to stoke the fires of a dead man's heart. Your bright shining personality is like a beacon of hope in my miserable existence. How can I possibly control myself in your presence?" I took it one step further and latched onto his arm. Trying my best to play the part of a pathetic lovestruck soul.

Lucas jumped to his feet and shoved me away. I allowed my body to dramatically collapse onto the kitchen floor.

"T..T..Tulip!" he spluttered. "As lovely as my hair is, your behavior is unnerving me. I order you to compose yourself in my presence!"

"I'll try, Young Master," I pretended to sob while covering my face with my hands, but I only did it to conceal my laughter.

I glanced through a crack in my fingers to see the Soul Market agents shrug and leave. Obviously fed up with watching a pathetic soul and his ridiculous master. I knew that they wouldn't be gone forever and that other agents would be back, but it was the moment that I'd been waiting for.

The moment where they'd begun to underestimate me and drop their guard.

It was another few weeks before the agents stopped showing up in the evenings. I accompanied Lucas to parties held my his mediocre friends in their mediocre houses. There, I would patiently stand in the corner holing his coat like a piece of furniture. Passively watching on as my master showed me off.

"Look at this idiot," Lucas would point at me and laugh. "Does anything that I could possibly want, and I didn't pay a cent. Can you believe it?

"As expected of Lucas," his stupid friends would laugh back. "You really are the master of pulling pennies. No one else in this town could have done it for free."

Sometimes his friends, the crueler ones, would order me to perform tricks like a dog. A backflip, a cartwheel, an impression of a bird. No matter how stupid or demeaning it was, I'd smile and obey. Then once the wine really started flowing, and the party got going, they'd become too intoxicated to notice that I was even there. I'd listen in on the latest rumors flying around town. Who was dating who, who'd come into new money, who'd lost it all. The truly intoxicated guests would barely notice if a voice from the shadows slipped them a question or two.

Over time I could put names to faces, and faces to houses. Mapping out who had anything of value, and who wasn't worth my time. Storing all that information away for later as cogs began turning in my mind.

Those were small steps, but I was certain that they'd pay off in the end.

It was another week before I felt confident enough to leave Lucas' house alone. The Soul Market's visits had become more sporadic, only once every few days, as though the idiots believed that I could actually reform. It was too bad that I wouldn't be there to watch their faces when they realized just how wrong they'd been.

It was time to progress to the next phase of my plan. Lucas (or the great disappointment as I called him in my head) lacked the materials I needed to pull off any decent spells, so I had to outsource them from elsewhere. Society had made it impossible for me to purchase them legally, so I had no choice but to take them the only way I knew how.

With my own hands.

After weeks of sucking up and pandering to gain information, I found my first target, the magical master Bellerive. Several of Lucas' unexpectedly useful friends confirmed that the elderly man received a large inheritance of magical goods. I felt bitter that he hadn't rushed into save me from the Soul Market instead.

I made my move one evening while Lucas slept. Completely dead to the world as he was getting screwed over.

I crept across snowy rooftops and through shadowy streets. Avoiding anyone who came my way. I silently climbed over the estate's tall stone wall and snuck through Bellerive's large garden. Hiding behind neatly trimmed hedges that had been shaped into rabbits and hamsters, until I reached the back of the house.

My fingers lightly traced the oak timber window frames one by one, testing their strength, until I found one weaker than the others. I then slid a steel letter opener between the gap and gently pried it open. Creating a large enough opening for my body to slip through.

I climbed inside and then carefully closed the window behind me, readjusting my black hood so that my face was completely covered in the darkness. My back pressed against the wall as my bare feet moved across the carpeted halls. Never before so grateful for my light body which barely made a sound.

I peered into every room on the first floor to find a stylish kitchen, lounge, guestroom, and bath, but none of the ancient artifacts which Lucas' friends described to me after several drinks.

I was about to ascend the stairs before a door creaked open at the end of the hall. There was only just enough time to slip myself into the closest room and hide behind the door.

A soul emerged. Pale face covered in white powder, dressed in a dark blue suit with several ruffles which had once been in fashion a century ago. He virtually glowed in the dark as his feet glided across the floor like he was floating.

The soul paused before the room that I was hiding within. Face blank and lips taunt, making him impossible to read.

I shrank away from the gap in the hinges in terror, paranoid that he could somehow sense my fear, but the soul instead continued walking and disappeared into the adjacent room. Quietly closing the door behind him.

That was my chance.

I silently crept out of hiding and dashed up the stairs. Moving back into the shadows before anyone else could appear. After slipping in and out of several rooms, I finally located the study.

The room was full of several bookcases and a wall of dusty cabinets with frosted glass doors. Inside were various ancient relics from all corners of Hell. Glowing crystals, demon bones, and stone plates covered in illegible insignias. All of which had to be useful for something.

It was impossible to take everything so I had to choose wisely. Carefully examining each item before shoving a chosen few into my coat. I also went through any book I could use. Ripping certain pages out of others which were too heavy to carry back. It killed me to leave so many things behind, but I couldn't risk too many objects weighing me down.

Once I had taken as much as I could carry, I cracked open one of the glass windows to formulate an escape route. There was one large tree outside the window. Not easily accessible, but I could reach it if I jumped. A far better idea than creeping back through an unfamiliar house riddled with mortals and souls.

I climbed up onto the window frame, then leaped forward, flying through the air until my fingers securely wrapped themselves around the closest branch. My weight alone wouldn't have been a problem, but I'd greatly underestimated how much my new loot weighed.

The branch immediately snapped with a sickening crack, and my body plummeted to the ground. Crashing against the grass with a loud thud. Several stone tablets instantly shattering in my pockets.

I lay there dazed for a moment, trying to work out where I went wrong, when my mind was snapped back to reality by voices inside the house.

A window banged open, and the soul in the blue suit shoved his pasty face outside. Brandishing a large lamp into the darkness as he frantically searched for the origin of the noise. Perhaps he saw me, perhaps he did not, but I couldn't wait around to find out.

I quickly pulled myself to my feet and dashed back into the darkness. Frantically scrambling over the back wall, then dashing down the street. Stopping only once to confirm that I wasn't being followed, before I ran full speed straight back to Lucas' home.

The following days were spend analyzing my collection. I had pages from the library, objects from the townspeople, and the knowledge in my mind from the past three hundred years. One alone wasn't enough, but together they created a pathway towards an impossible dream.

Compared to my research and dreams of the future, waiting on Layabout Lucas seemed utterly pointless, so I naturally began to slack off with my chores.

"Tulip!" the young man bellowed as he burst into the kitchen one morning. I quickly folded a tablecloth over my research to hide it from view. "I asked you to iron my shirt a whole ten minutes ago!"

"I'm humbly sorry, young master," I apologized, but my acting was barely believable. "I will iron your precious garments at once."

"You better," Lucas snapped back. "And you left the window open again last night. There's been several robberies in town and I don't want to be next. Sneaky Steven up the road has been eyeing off my library for years, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's the mastermind behind this all."

"As you wish, master."

"And then there's the living room." The idiot was certainly on a role. "Why's there a giant burnt patch on the floor?"

"A tragic cooking accident."

"A cooking accident? In the living room?"

"That's why it was an accident."

"What the…Tulip, if you don't start seriously doing better soon, then I'm gonna send you back to the Soul Market!"

"Don't say that, master. You are like the sun that shines on a grim spring day. Bringing joy and life to all those around you like a playful bumble bee."

"Yes, yes, I get it already," snapped Lucas, no longer impressed by my flowery words.

"Your pained expression brings me nothing but misery." I intended to sound more sincere, but I was irritated that I had to speak instead of getting back to work. "I have learnt the error of my ways. I will strive to be the perfect example of slavery and oppression."

Lucas sighed and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. Completely exasperated by my behavior. "You know Tulip, I'm starting to think that your heart really isn't in this. I get this feeling that you've been lying to me since the day that we met."

I flinched. So there really was a limit to how much Lucas would believe after all.

"You're right." I reached for a bottle of cleaning solution and poured it onto a white towel. Soaking the cloth completely. "I really wouldn't believe that sort of crap, either."

"What do you mean?" Lucas snapped back.

I took hold of the soaked cloth, then stood to my feet, moving towards my self centered master. There must have been something about my eyes that uneased him, because the young man instinctively moved back, as though cowering from a monster.

It was then that I lunged before he could run, throwing my whole weight against him.

Lucas fell back and hit the floor with a bang, his head colliding with the floorboards, but it wasn't enough to knock him out. He lay there dazed for a moment when I straddled his waist, doing my best to hold him down as he frantically struggled.

"Get off!" Lucas screamed and shoved his hand in my face. "Help! Anyone! My soul has gone mad!"

His words were cut off by the chemical soaked cloth that I held against his mouth and nose. The idiot gripped both my wrists and almost succeeded in getting free, until his eyes rolled back into his head and his body went limp. Breathing weakly as he gradually slipped into unconsciousness.

I rolled off his body and collapsed onto the floor beside him. Trying my best to calm my racing nerves. Bewildered that such an improvised plan had actually worked.

Then Lucas began to snore. Merrily snoozing away without a care in the world. Face peaceful and serine despite what I had done.

The idiot was far more manageable when he was unconscious, but it wouldn't be long before someone noticed him gone.

If I wanted any hope of following through with my plan, then it had to be that night.

I can only imagine how Lucas must have felt when he returned to consciousness several hours later. The idiot groaned pathetically before his eyes fluttered open. First dumbly examining his own lap, then the ropes binding him to the chair, before his head shot up in horror. Frantically surveying the room that had been transformed beyond recognition.

Lucas' sad excuse for furniture had only been in the way, so I shoved it all against one wall to create an open space. The moldy carpet was next to go. Replaced with a sprawl of black insignias which spiraled across the floor and halfway up the walls. Crammed into every available corner until the wooden floorboards were transformed into a sea of black scribbles.

Crumbling demon bones and ancient artifacts lay woven in amongst the ink. Each one with its own unique effect to improve my original spell.

And then there was me. Standing in the center of the room with my back turned towards him. Covered in black ink while sharpening the idiot's largest kitchen knife. I took great pleasure in watching the blade shine with each stroke.

Lucas sucked in his breath with terror, then finally gained the confidence to speak.

"Tulip! What's the meaning of this!" he arrogantly spat out. As though the fool actually possessed an inch of power. "I demand that you release me at once!"

I sighed and turned to face the idiot. All fake emotion gone from my face. "I'm sorry for the terrible inconvenience, Young Master," I said with just the slightest hint of sarcasm. "But you must understand, this is just something that I have to do."

"What the frickin demon balls are you prattling on about, Tulip?" Lucas couldn't hide the panic in his voice. "I order you to release me at once!"

I failed to suppress my own laughter. Letting it out freely to Lucas' displeasure. It was hilarious how he thought that I'd actually listen.

"I'm afraid that I can't do that, Young Master." The title was used to mock him instead of a sign of respect. "You see, I need your help with one small itty bitty thing, Young Master."

"Tulip! Tulip! What are you doing!" Lucas cried out in fear as I slowly crept closer. "Get away from me at once!"

Lucas frantically struggled against the bonds holding him to the chair, then attempted to kick me away with his feet like a toddler throwing a tantrum. "Help! Help! For God's sake!" He screamed. "My soul's gone mad! Help! Please! Anyone!"

"I'm afraid that no one's coming to help you today, Lucas," I sighed, then stepped to the side to avoid his flailing legs.

"Please," the idiot begged. His gaze moved to the knife which dangerously hovered above his arm. "I'll give you anything," he cried with such desperation. "Just take whatever you want."

"But Lucas." I smiled. "That's exactly what I'm gonna do."

And with that I sliced straight into his arm with one dramatic slash. Not hard enough to kill him quickly, but just enough to make him bleed.

Crimson blood soon seeped from the wound and dripped down into the stone basin which I'd placed beneath his chair.

Lucas gazed on in terror, his face white as a sheet. As though the guy could see his own death.

The idiot made one last attempt to escape the bonds, but I dropped the knife and held his arm down. Making sure to collect every drop that I could. Trying my best to ignore his terrified face and cries of mercy.

It was better not to think of the man before me as human. Just as a necessary sacrifice to reach an end. One last unpleasant hurdle to crush and then I'd never have to stoop so low again.

Gradually, as the blood flowed and the bowl grew fuller. Lucas' struggles became weaker and his gaze less focused. As though it was a battle just to remain conscious.

I almost felt sorry for him.


I fully intended to bleed the idiot dry. Utilizing him to the fullest and then disposing of the body like a smart little murderer, but I instead found myself tightly bandaging his arm with my shirt. As though my dead hands had gained a mind of their own. It wouldn't stop the bleeding completely, but hopefully he'd live.

"Fuck you," were the words Lucas weakly rasped to thank me for kindly sparing his useless life.

I grabbed the stone basin of Lucas' blood and moved it to its rightful place in the center of the ink diagram. Carefully checking every object and line as Lucas moaned away in the corner.

All the preparations for my experiment were finally complete. The spell would either grant my greatest wish, or backfire in my face. Blowing me to pieces or transforming me into something far worse.

Any normal person would have hesitated. Just like I did.

Even starting to question if they were doing the right thing.

"Such a shoddy spell will never work," echoed imaginary Alistair behind my back. All knowing and haughty like usual.

I opened my mouth to defend myself, but someone else already beat me to it.

"How would you know? It's not like you've ever tried," snapped a voice I knew well.

I spun around to see Josephine. Dressed in the same blue dress that she wore when we first met. Her form solid and clear, even though there was no way that she could be real.

Both Josephine and Alistair sat on top of the furniture which I'd pushed against the wall. Him on a coffee table, and her gracefully perched on a sofa arm. Angrily glaring at each other as though willing the other to disappear.

Had they even known each other in real life? I could no longer remember.

"I pity the idiot who encouraged this finger painting," muttered Alistair. "He's going to blow up the house."

"Would it kill you to have a little faith," snapped Josephine. "Nothing will ever change unless you try to make it happen."

"Says the woman who died from her own spell."

"Says the idiot who couldn't fight back to defend himself."

"Self righteous hypocritical cow!"

"Vein overindulged fashion disaster!"

I coughed to grab their attention, and they both turned at the same time. "Ethan!" They chanted together. "You're on my side, right?"

I gazed at them both. Trying to memorize every detail. The first person I ever loved, and the woman who saved me from myself. I wanted to be together with them. So much so that it hurt, but they weren't real. Just crazy delusions that my mind made up to help cope with the crushing loneliness.

The real Alistair and Josephine were never coming back.

"Thank you both. For everything," I said. Forcing the words out of my mouth before I could back down. "But I can't keep talking with you. I've lived in the past for too long….If I'm to have any hope of moving forward, then I need to let you go."

"Ethan," Josephine said softly.

It was then that I almost cracked, but I swore that I would create a new life for myself. One where I wouldn't be constantly dragged down by the past.

"Goodbye," I said quickly and pulled myself away from the delusions. Spinning on my heels and vowing never to look back.

I took one step forward. Then another. Shedding my clothes and moving into the center of the diagram. Stepping right into the basin of blood. If this was going to be the end, then I could at least be content with knowing that I didn't back down.

I picked up a piece of string attached to a large yellow crystal across the room. Tugging it towards me. The crystal slid to the edge of the ink diagram, then connected with one thick black line. All the insignias instantly glowed gold, basking the room in a blinding yellow light.

"What the… Tulip!" Screamed Lucas. His chair violently banging against the floor as he tried to slip free. "Stop it! Stop it at once!"

The light remained for several seconds. Blinding me. When it faded I was shocked to see nothing but smoke.

A terrible sign.

The black smog cleared to unveil smoldering insignias, and several artifacts that had been burnt to black crisps. The last remains of a spell which barely held itself together.

Lucas' blue eyes were wide open in horror as he stared right at me. Stupid mouth making frantic gasping sounds, as though the result of my experiment was too horrifying to comprehend.

Fearing the worst, I looked straight to my hand, expecting to see the thing of nightmares, but instead, my dead translucent palm had become a pale pink. Solid and living like a real mortal's skin. As though red arteries pulsed under the surface.

I reached to my head and grabbed a fist full of hair, which was still ghostly white, but when I tugged on a strand it came loose from my scalp. Something unimaginable for an ordinary soul.

The final test was when I used the sharp edge of the bowl to scratch my own hand. Nervously staring at the mark which I didn't think would appear. The small cut changed color, then like a real person, small drops of crimson blood seeped through to the surface.

Just like a forgotten dream from long ago.

My new body shook as uncontrollable laughter burst forth from my throat. Echoing throughout the narrow room.

I'd actually done it.

I'd transcended the barrier between the living and the dead.

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