Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Ch25



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

I may have forgotten myself and given into despair, but it wasn't over. I could still pull myself together and become the unrelenting soul who I was weeks earlier. It didn't matter if my opponent was twice my size, or a thousand times stronger, I vowed to run and fight until the world ended.

The mountain cave was quiet, as though the delusions disappeared along with my self doubt. Sunlight filtered through the entrance. Illuminating the icy rocks and crevices so that the lighting spell by my feet was no longer needed.

I kicked the crystal from the paper before me, and the floating ball of yellow light disappeared. Small drops of ice dislodged from my leg which hadn't moved in days. I deposited the paper, crystal, and notebook back into my worn jacket, pulled myself to my feet, and made my way out of that hole.

I was ready to take on any challenge that they threw my way. Refusing to ever give into such crushing hopelessness again. My eyes gazed across the endless fields of glittering snow with a new sense of hope.

Until I saw it.

A thin trail of smoke rising up from a white hill in the distance. As though the owner fell asleep and forgot to extinguish the flames before the break of dawn.

There was only one person that such a fire could belong to.

The remaining Soul Market agent.

There was no way that reinforcements could have arrived already, so the blue demon had continued his pursuit alone. Motivated either by dedication to his cause, or vengeance against the crazy soul who murdered his comrade.

"Shit," I swore as panic clouded my mind.

The desire to run was overpowering. Blocking out all logical thoughts. I wanted to flee from that spot and continue onwards forever... but that was how I'd lose.

If I ever hoped to beat the Soul Market once and for all, then I needed to stand and fight. I needed to know just how they managed to track me across the Underworld.

My hands clenched into fists as I tried to gather my remaining courage.

"Well, it looks like I'll be taking the initiative this time," I said, but none of the voices spoke back.


I retraced my steps to a narrow pass on the mountain road. It was wedged in between a rock wall and a sharp drop, so there was nowhere else for that stinking Soul Market bastard to go.

I spent the afternoon moving snow and laying traps. Patiently waiting for the moment when the demon would show his ugly face. Silently plotting all the terrible ways to get what I wanted.

Two days passed before my target finally arrived. Far more decrepit then I remembered. Clothing worn and blue face hollow. Wearily creeping along the path like the mountain had taken its toll on my tormentor.

The bastard's footsteps were deliberately slow and silent, like the demon already knew that I was close by.

No...of course he knew that I was there. They always did.

He caught sight of my worn and patched up coat billowing in the wind by the edge of the cliff. The hood drawn up and sleeves pulled down, leaving nothing exposed. Just like a real soul who wanted to hide what they were.

The demon froze for a moment before pressing his back against the mountain wall. Eyeing my clothing warily as a plan came together in his creepy little mind.

This time there were no verbal warnings or talk of contracts. He'd learnt his lesson and wouldn't leave anything to chance.

The demon crept closer. Edging his way towards the cliff in order to get me in range of his spells. He was midway through taking one step when he suddenly paused, gaze falling to the ground before his feet.

The freezing spell that I'd carefully laid, had become painfully obvious in the failing sunlight.

The arsehole carefully examined the glowing insignias under the snow, until he located the small purple crystal powering the spell. He then carefully nudged it off the diagram with his foot and the symbols disappeared. Allowing the demon to continue forward without sticking to the ground.

Then I was within range of his sneaky little tricks.

The demon held his hands out before him and chanted under his breath. Four walls of ice instantly sprung from the ground. Ten times the speed that they had materialized before. The ice enclosed my coat like a frozen coffin. Leaving no room to escape.

The demon's mouth broke out into a grin and triumph flashed across his face. He eagerly strolled towards the ice coffin with the confidence of a man who'd won.

"It's over soul!" He punched his fist into the air as though fighting an invisible foe. "Don't think for a second that you're getting out of that one!"

I almost felt sorry for the fool, when the snow collapsed under his feet, and he plunged straight into the hole which I'd dug in the middle of the pass. His feet hit my second freezing spell at the bottom of that hole, paralyzing him in place, leaving only his head and shoulders exposed to the elements.

Bingo!

It was then that I sprang out of a mound of snow, butt naked, clothes still draped over the snowman trapped inside the ice coffin. I raised a plank of wood over my shoulder and advanced towards the bastard. My feet leaving the faintest of footprints in the snow.

"It's over, huh?" I spat as I swung the plank straight into his stupid head. The swing was weaker than I expected. Nowhere near enough to knock him out. "Over for who? You piece of shit!"

I furiously swung the wood again and again. Channeling all my anger, frustration, and self loathing into those strikes, until the demon's eyes rolled back into his head and he finally lost consciousness. Collapsing head first straight into the snow.

I tossed the wood away and fell to my knees. Chest heaving up and down as though I could breathe. I'd planned for every possible scenario. Placing traps upon traps until the pass was a minefield, but that didn't ease my anxiety or fear.

One small victory meant nothing if there were still others to take his place.



I dragged the demon's unconscious body back to an abandoned shack on the mountainside. The old timber walls were rotting, and there were gaps between boards, but it was enough to protect us from the fierce winds outside.

Others had been there before me. Haphazardly overturning furniture and ripping open cupboards and drawers. Shattering plates and glasses across the dirt floor. What could have once been a table had been hacked to pieces to create a fire in the middle of the room, leaving just enough wood to recreate a small blaze of my own.

I needed the heat to keep the prisoner alive. The demon wasn't allowed to die until I got what I wanted.

I pulled up a wonky chair and sat back to watch him.

My prisoner was bound to a chair using strips of my shirt. Hands positioned out before him, right where I could see. His fingers were bound most tightly of all (so that he couldn't move them for spells) but I didn't doubt that the demon could still pull off plenty of tricks without having to move.

My stalker was younger than I imagined. Perhaps early twenties. Blue skin smooth. One stark white horn poking out from his head while the other looked to have broken off. Mouth wide open as saliva dripped down his shirt. Exposed teeth yellow and rotten.

Blood still dripped from his head, despite the dirty cloth that I wrapped around the wound.

"Not much of a looker, is he?" said a voice from behind me.

I turned to see imaginary Alistair looking over my shoulder. There was a thin white shawl wrapped around his head, much like the delusion I once saw in a desert.

"Now that's going to scar," Alistair muttered. "Looks like he won't be forgetting you in a hurry."

"Good," I muttered back.

"What's the plan, Ethan?"

"I question him."

"And what makes you think that he'll talk."

"He will." There was confidence there that I needed to back up. "If I use whatever means necessary."

Alistair sucked in his breath. "And here I was thinking that you despised torture and enslavement. How quick you are to sink to their level, dear Ethan."

"He deserves it," I snapped while trying to suppress any lingering guilt. "He's one of them."

"And yet you barely know him."

"He's been stalking me for weeks, Alistair!" I barked. Exasperated with his skewed logic and lack of understanding. "Trying to drag me back to be a fucking slave. If it wasn't him in this chair, then it would be me. That's the way things work in this world!"

Alistair glared at me coldly with those bright green eyes. "If telling yourself that makes you feel better, then by all means, go right ahead."

The delusion was right, but it was already too late. I'd gone too far to ever back down.

"What would you know," I angrily muttered. "You're not even real. The real you wouldn't have taken his side."

Imaginary Alistair laughed. A deep unnatural cackle which instantly unnerved me. "Oh, Ethan dear, it's been so long that I doubt you can correctly recall the real me at all."

I glanced away, incapable of looking at that face, but when I returned my gaze, he was already gone.

My shaking hands clenched into fists. What did one stray delusion know? Of course I didn't want to lower myself to the Soul Market's level, but what other choice did I have? I had to sacrifice what little humanity I had left if I wanted to win.

With a moan the demon began to stir. He gradually cracked open his eyes, blinking once or twice, before his mind caught up and he jumped back in horror. Frantically struggling against the fabric, tugging on arms which refused to slip free. His mouth flew open, spewing out words which sounded like the beginning of a spell, but I quickly slapped my hand across his face to silence the bastard.

I ripped a burning coal from the fire with my bare hand, then menacingly held it before his ugly mug.

"If you so much as begin to chant a spell again, then I'm burning your bloody face off!" I cried.

The demon ceased moving and eyed me wearily. No doubt having heard enough terrible rumors to know that I was serious.

"What in Hell do you think yer doing?" the demon angrily hissed through clenched teeth.

"Getting you to talk," I said as confidently as I could.

"About what?" he snapped.

"Everything. Starting with how the Soul Market works."

The demon growled. "I have nothing to say to a soul."

"Really?" I waved the coal in his face. "Then how would you like being on fire?"

The demon laughed. Shoulders violently shaking. His eyes had a hint of craziness which made me suspect that I wasn't the only one who went mad on that mountain.

"And what's gonna stop you from killing me anyway, soul?"

"My word."

"Your word? As if I'd ever trust the words of a fucking lunatic soul who murders people?"

"Because if you answer my questions, then you'll be different. I promise," I said gently with the kindest smile that I could master, but it did nothing but further convince the monster that I was insane.

The demon leaned forward. Face stone cold and eyes full of hatred. "I ain't giving you shit. You crazy piece of scum."

I sighed. Not the least bit surprised. "I had a feeling that you'd say that."

My hand reached into my pocket and pulled out a knife. Five inches long, rusty and slightly bent, but it was enough for that bastard. I then grabbed one of his bound wrists and held the blade above it. The demon instantly began chanting a spell (the disobedient prick) until I shoved the knife right into his blue hand.

"Fuck!" he screamed in pain. The spell instantly forgotten.

I placed both my hands on the knife hilt and used my strength to slowly press it down further through his flesh. If they all thought I was crazy, then why not live up to their expectations?

"Still don't wanna talk?" I hissed.

"Wait! Wait!" the demon cried amongst profanities and screams. "I'll talk! I'll talk!"

I stopped pushing the knife and sat back in the chair. Eyeing him warily just in case the demon decided to pull something.

"What do you wanna know?" he breathed through the pain. Chest slowly heaving up and down.

"How you managed to find me?"

"Tracks."

"Liar," I hissed.

"I ain't lying!"

"It's rather difficult to find tracks after a blizzard, don't you think?"

"I'm very good at tracking."

I raised my hand towards the knife.

"It's my job!" he cried with panic. "I've done it my entire life!"

I pressed the knife down further.

The demon screamed in pain. "Fuck! It's the truth, damn it! I swear!"

Part of me almost believed him. Almost. But I'd been in the Underworld long enough to know that the Soul Market's methods went far beyond basic tracking.

"How about we try something else," I growled with frustration. "Tell me why I sold my soul!"

The demon winced in pain. "Money."

"Liar."

"I'm not lying!" He roared with anger. "I read your record and it was there!"

There was something different about his eyes when he said it, but I refused to accept those words as the truth.

"What?" the demon laughed. "Does that come as a shock? Did you think that a crazy bastard like you would have done it for some kind of higher purpose? Don't kid yourself, idiot. You were just another dirty pauper who'd sell themselves away for a handful of change."

"Stop it!" I hissed.

"You were too stupid to even write your own freakin name. You signed the contract using a fingerprint of your own blood."

"I said stop it!"

The demon shut up for a moment before he thought of something new and stupid. "I still have a copy of it, you know," he said with fake sincerity, tilting his head to the side. "Out there in my other bag. You can go out there and check, if you want."

"As if I'd ever fall for such a pathetic trick."

"Fine, soul. Suit yourself!"

The room fell silent and we sat there angrily glaring at each other. I was trying desperately to plan my next move, without letting on, keeping my face as neutral as possible, until I was hit by another question.

"How do they do it?" I asked while trying not to sound the least bit curious. "How do they bring in people from Earth?"

"Magic," the demon grunted.

"Ha! That has to be one of your most pathetic lies so far. Even I know that it's impossible to use magic on Earth."

"What would you know," the demon snapped. "As long as there's a connection, then anything is possible."

"Whatever," I hissed. "How can I go back there?"

The demon laughed. The sort of unnerving cackle which let me know that I wouldn't like the answer. "Back? There ain't any going back for you, soul. Dead idiots like you can't exist in that world. Without a real body you'll just disappear. But by all means, go right ahead. You'd be doing the rest of us a favor."

I kicked him in the shins and reached for the knife, pushing it down further.

The demon cried out in pain. "What the fuck is your problem?" He hissed. "I'm telling the truth!"

"How did you find me!" I yelled back.

"I already told you!"

"You told me lies!"

"It's the truth!"

"I've been in this world for centuries," I spat. "Serving masters with abilities you could only dream of. I ravaged their libraries and plundered their knowledge. So I don't doubt for one moment that you've been using magic to track me around Hell. Now tell me what it is."

The demon clenched his jaw, and I could see a guy who'd never back down. "I'll die before I tell you anything, soul."

"Then so be it." I said coldly.


We sat together in silence for what felt like hours. I entertained myself by watching the flickering embers of the dying fire. Trying my best to ignore the blood flowing from his wounds. Occasionally I would look up to see my prisoner examining the room. No doubt creating an escape plan for the moment I let my guard down.

"I wonder what will kill you first." I anxiously tapped my fingers. "The blood loss or the cold? You know, I could patch up your wounds in an instant. If you start telling the truth."

"I told you the bloody truth," the demon hissed back. Breathing more strained than before.

"You...told..me..nothing." I made sure to coldly emphasize each word.

The demon weakly laughed, then flinched from the pain. "You know that more are coming, right? If you've got half a brain, you'll run while you still have the chance."

"And allow yourself to magic your way out of this one?" Did he think I was an idiot? "Forget it. And besides, I have a feeling that it'll be days before your friends show up. If you even contacted them at all."

The demon growled like I'd caught him out on his lie. "You know this will never stop, right?" he spat. "They'll just keep sending more of us until you're begging us to take you back. Just give up already, soul!"

"Someone before you said that too." I smiled. "Just before I stabbed him in the throat." There seemed no need to mention that I did it only to defend myself.

"You're sick!"

"You can thank all your little friends for that. Anyone would go insane after what you bastards put me through."

"So you think that you're some kind of victim now?" The demon's face contorted in anger. "That you were mistreated or something?"

"No one in Hell could deserve what happened to me."

"What's your problem, soul? You're the one who agreed."

"It shouldn't count if I can't remember!" Why couldn't any of those bastards understand? " You can't talk like I'm the same person who I was back on Earth."

"No, you're wrong," the demon hissed. Eyes angrily glaring right into mine. "You're just like them. They might insist on calling you souls, but all I see is another rotten human who can't take being on the other end of the shit stick."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"My kind used to rule the Underworld, you know," the demon lectured. "Occasionally bringing in corrupt humans from Earth. But all that changed when that bastard Azazel descended from Heaven. Now our once mighty race has been reduced to this. A bunch of fricken dogs. Barely better off than you stupid souls."

"Oh, what a tragedy," I breathed sarcastically.

"You think your life was bad?" The demon was on a role. "I was taken from my homeland before I could even walk. Shoved into a bloody institution where they taught us to be like you. They filled our heads full of false promises. Of how if we worked hard and did what you wanted, then they'd somehow treat us like one of your own. But no matter how hard I work, people just take one look at my face and see me as below human. So don't you dare lecture me on how hard your pathetic life was, dead human, because you don't know shit."

It was a nice speech. If I'd heard it two centuries earlier I may have even given a damn. But all I could think about was how to use his own words against him.

"If you hate humans so much, then why are you trying so hard to hide their secrets?" I asked.

"Because I despise you more than them," the demon spat back.

"Ah, of course."

"Aren't you going to ask why?"

"No," I laughed. "I think it's quite obvious."

"No," he hissed. "I can tell that you have no idea of the suffering we went through, just to bring back your sorry arse. Four of us set out that day, but now I'm the only one left."

"Four?" I had inevitably caused the death of one, but I had no idea about the other two.

"We lost one to the cold, then another guy fell. Perkins….he was the one who insisted we keep going. He had a young family to feed, and was afraid of losing his job. I'm sure you remember him, he's the one who you murdered."

Those words were like a knife through the gut, but I couldn't let the demon know. I kept my eyes straight ahead and expression as passive as possible. "Like my fate would be any better, if you had won."

"But I can help you too!"

"How?"

"If I plead for your insanity, then maybe they'll destroy you." The demon's eyes shined with desperation. "That's what every soul wants in the end, right?"

He made it sound nice enough, but there was no way that the Soul Market would ever make it that easy. Any end they had planned out for me, would surely be as drawn out and agonizing as possible.

"Nice try," I muttered. "That may have worked, if you'd asked me centuries ago."

"And would that be before or after you were bought by Lynch Textiles?"

I was taken back. Shocked that he knew something so personal, but it shouldn't have been a surprise. I could imagine them all in some dusty office, laughing over my pathetic existence before they set out. It was unfair that my time was an open book for them to pick apart, when I knew nothing of theirs.

"I was stationed in Azaelia once," the demon continued once it was obvious that I had no witty comebacks. "And people still talk about him. The Butcher of Azaelia Town. But you'd know all about that, wouldn't you?"

I clenched my fist, but kept my face neutral, hoping that he'd drop it if he saw that I didn't care.

"How many was it?" the demon asked. "Thirty? Fifty? Perhaps even one hundred? All under the eyes of the military and they didn't do a thing. I heard that he cut them up and stashed the remains in the factory basement. Even if they weren't quite dead yet. I wanted to ask if you ever saw him do it."

"Only an idiot would believe such stupid rumors," I hissed. But I felt it, memories that I'd tried so hard to suppress.

I could suddenly see it within my mind. A girl no older than fifteen, desperately holding onto my arm in Master David's room. "Please," she begged. "You have to help me."

I knew what would become of her, but no matter how much empathy I felt, my body refused to move. I was so damaged and broken that the mere thought of going against my master's wishes froze me with fear.

"Just do it," Foreman hissed from behind me. His face screwed up in disgust, like even he couldn't stand the things that Master David did. "Things are easier if you just do what he wants."

"Did he use you as practice?" asked the blue demon. "Is that how you became so fucked up in the head?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I coldly snapped back.

"No, I think you do." The demon looked me straight in the eyes as though he could see through to my mind. "I can tell from your face that you saw it. That explains a lot."

"Whatever," I muttered.

"We all heard things about you, even before you pulled this petty escape attempt. A lord in the south ordered twenty souls to be buried together with him when he died, and just like he wanted, his family shoved all their souls into that shithole with the dead guy. The only thing was, they never approved it with us first. Our agents broke open the tomb months later to find that all the souls had gone mad. All of them, except you."

"They were weak."

"No." The demon shook his head. "I don't think that's it. I think that you were already so fucked up that something like that couldn't leave a dent, you crazy piece of shit."

The demon then devolved into a long string of profanities which only came to an end when I kicked him in the shins.

"Fuck!" He swore in pain.

"Enough wasting time!" I snapped. "How did you know where I was?"

"I already told you-"

I was so tired of those words that I grabbed a coal from the fire and moved forward to shove it in his face.

"Wait! Wait!" cried the demon when the coal came dangerously close to his skin. "I'll tell you alright! I'll fucking tell you!"

I lowered the coal. "Now that's more like it."

The demon looked to the ground and chewed his lower lip. As though he'd kept the truth so closely guarded that he couldn't bring himself to voice it.

"Well?" I asked.

"Right pocket," he muttered.

"Huh?"

"It's in my right pocket."

"This better not be a trick."

I leaned forward and reached my hand in to the frayed jacket pocket, fingers wrapping around something small. I pulled my hand out to find a small shiny black orb, not much bigger than a coin.

"Now push down on both ends," the demon growled.

I did as he asked, but nothing happened.

"Harder!" he snapped.

I pressed down with all my strength. With a soft click, a thousand small beams of light suddenly exploded outwards from the orb. They sailed across the room, each one stopping in mid air, until I found myself surrounded by a million small twinkling stars.

"What is this?" I breathed in awe.

"A map of souls. All agents have one-"

I finished the sentence. "Making it impossible to ever get away."

I leaned in closer to examine a small cluster of lights by my head. Noticing for the first time that they weren't all standing still. They were too small to make out any individual features, but if I looked closely enough, I could recognize the vague outline of their bodies.

"That's the Western Region," said the demon. "You can tell by the shape of the groups."

"Where are the living people?"

"Who knows." The demon shrugged. "Anything with a body doesn't show up, but souls… you're all naked and exposed for everyone to see."

I gritted my teeth in frustration. It wasn't fair. How could we ever hope to challenge a system that had perfected our enslavement.

"Where are we now?" I asked.

"Hades Teeth is over there." He nodded towards the back of the room.

I moved passed the larger clusters to an area with fewer lights. "Here?"

"No, further, towards the wall. We're pretty far from everything, so you have to go back as far as you can." I did as he said. "Now, see that one little light in the corner? If you look real close, then you should see your ugly mug."

I moved closer, trying to find the tiny star, but I saw nothing.

"Are you sure?" I turned back to the demon and instantly realized my mistake.

His good hand was free from the constraints and extended out towards me as he rapidly chanted a spell. I dove to my left and only narrowly dodged a falling ceiling beam.

The demon scrunched up his face in irritation, but didn't waste a moment starting his next spell.

"No!" I screamed and dashed across the room towards him, lunging straight for his neck.

I wrapped my ghostly fingers around his jugular and the chair tipped over backwards, sending the demon's head straight into the floor.

"Don't you dare!" I screamed in a poor attempt to exert power, but the demon's eyes rolled back into his head and his body went limp. Either from the impact, or the other terrible things I did to him, I honestly didn't care.

But my fingers didn't let go. All I could think of was how easy it would be to end it there. Just squeeze a little harder and I'd have one less problem to worry about. Sure, it was unpleasant, but I'd already killed people before, so how would one more make a difference?

"Why should I give a damn about you?" I hissed in his face.


I sat back on a mound of snow and watched the cabin burn. It had served its purpose, so why shouldn't it go up in flames? It was better to erase any evidence that I'd ever existed at all.

I pulled the black orb from my pocket and the map of stars materialized into the air around me. I sat there examining them all, searching for my star until I located it in the distance. All alone with only itself to rely on. Just like the soul it belonged to.

It finally made sense. I ran to the most rural place I knew, but isolating myself had just made it easier for them to find me. Like a giant walking target. It would be better to return to the cities where one soul would be harder to distinguish amongst thousands.

But even then there would be no end. As long as the Soul Market could track me, they'd always be on my trail. I was destined to spend the rest of my existence running and fighting until either myself or the Underworld came to an end.

There are times when I wonder what things could have been like, echoed Josephine's words within my mind. If we were both born into the same world.

And for one moment I could see her there on the snow before me. Eyes full of love and admiration, but still longing for something that I couldn't give.

But there was a time long before then when someone else said a similar thing.

It was at a grand party in a large mansion, under the gleam of a thousand colorful lights. There, Alistair dragged me out onto the dance floor and crushed his lips against mine.

I was taken back. Bewildered. Confused as to how I should respond when somebody kissed me but I couldn't move.

"Oh, Ethan," my old master whispered in my ear so that only I could hear. "If you were alive, we could do so many more exciting things."

He laughed and then pulled away. Returning to his guests with vigor that only a living person could possess.

My fingers tightly squeezed around the black orb in my hand.

Yes, there was one way to hide my existence from the Soul Market. It seemed impossible, but that didn't mean that it couldn't be done.

"Hey," I said to the unconscious demon laying on the snow beside me. "I've made up my mind. I'm going to become human again."

The guy didn't flinch, but I was confident that he'd live. He had the heat from the burning shack to keep him alive after all.

I put the orb back in my pocket and stood to my feet. Ready to begin my descent down the mountain and towards a new goal.

But I wouldn't do it just for the sake of escaping the Soul Market or fulfilling the wishes of dead people.

For as long as I can remember.

All I ever dreamed of.

Was to become human again.



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