Summary: Ethan is a Soul doomed to spend eternity as a slave in Hell for reasons he can't remember. After centuries of torment he finally snaps and goes on the run from those who enslaved him. Can he escape and become more than a regular soul, or is he doomed to spend an eternity in The Underworld? Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four
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It all began back then, or at least I think it did. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not anymore. Decades of memories are all blurred together and difficult to tell apart, but one thing that stands out like a bright torch in the darkness was my first master. I have no idea why I can remember that guy so well while others have submerged into the back of my mind. Maybe because I often thought of him and how things may have turned out if fate had been different. Perhaps if he had lived a little longer I may have been spared of some of the awful shit that happened soon afterwards.
My first master was a demon by the name of Alistair. I say demon, but he didn’t look much different from myself other than actually being alive and breathing air. He looked like a young man in his early twenties with long blonde hair and green eyes, but in reality he must have been over two hundred. He was my master, but he was actually a master, that’s what they call people here who have mastered over a thousand magic spells. If you’re one of those peasants who dwell out in this frozen wasteland you may have no idea what magic is, but in the larger cities there are hundreds of people who dedicate their entire lives to learning different spells and incantations. The rich use magic rocks to power their street lights and lamps, and there’s always some destitute scholar performing magic tricks on the street for extra cash. With all these different spells you’d think that someone would put some effort into cleaning up the corrupt and filthy underworld, but all those magical scholars just use their talents for fighting and improving themselves. I once had a vain master who used to kick the poor on the street, but spent over thirty years learning magic just to make her nose look smaller.
One of the most sort after incantations is the famous immortality spell. If you master this highly dangerous piece of magic it’s possible to live for eternity, or until you accidentally slip up and kill yourself by not performing it perfectly like her. The only other way to become immortal in this world is to sell yourself and become a soul slave like myself, but only idiots and lovestruck fools would possibly reduce themselves to that.
Luckily for him, my late master Alistair came from a well renowned family which had the money to waste on an expensive magical academy for their precious only son. There he mastered over one thousand magic spells including the one for immortality. He also wasn’t malevolent for a demon, and he was so old and lonely that he eventually snapped and began treating his Soul Slaves like they were real people.
“How fortunate you are,” said his driver as he took me to my new master’s mansion one rainy afternoon. I had just arrived in the underworld and I stared out the carriage window in bewilderment like a child seeing the world for the first time.
“Most master’s round these parts treat their soul slaves like trash,” he continued. “But the Master’s a decent bloke, and immortal. We’re set for the rest of eternity without having to suffer like those unfortunates out there,” he pointed to the street outside and I looked to see an oldman dragging his soul slave along by her hair. I shuddered and felt thankful that it wasn’t me, but that was mild in comparison to what some masters can do.
“You’re so lucky,” were the words I would continue to hear over the years.
“Your master is so kind, and he will never die, so you never have to worry about being resold to some terrible monster.”
What did they know? I was so fresh and naive back then that I swallowed their lies and believed in my master without a doubt, which only made everything more painful later. If I was so lucky then what the fuck am I doing on this mountain out in the fucking snow with nothing but a soggy notebook and pen to keep me company as I flee from my end. I almost wish that I could go back and slap my past self for being such a fucking idiot. Even better, I’d tell him to start figuring out some way to escape from the underworld or end his pathetic existence. There is pain and suffering no matter where you go in this place, and it’s only a matter of time before it comes to find you with vengeance.
But enough about that shit. I need to write down everything about my old master while I still have the chance. I guess you could've almost calledthat guy a soul’s ideal master. Alistair was rich, optimistic, perhaps a little eccentric but everyone seemed to love him. He wasalso an intense party animal and socialite who regularly held late night gatherings in his large mansion.
Unfortunately he had no concept of savings and burned through his inheritance and salary without any regard for the future. I guess there’s no reason to care about money when you can live forever.
He also merrily flirted with everyone, men, women, and even his soul slaves including me.
“I love you all!” He would cry out in joy and lavish us with expensive gifts which were wasted on a bunch of ghosts who’d soon be gone. I don’t know if he was intentionally trying to mess with us or just did it on a whim, but my master had successfully turned my fellow soul slaves against each other as they all fruitlessly struggled for his affection. I was at least bright enough not to involve myself with their mindless fighting, but it was unavoidable when he showed me a little too much attention at one of his many evening parties.
“Traitor!” Mira screamed and threw a knife at my head when I walked into the kitchen carrying a tray full of empty wine glasses. Mira was another soul slave who looked like a teenage girl with long hair. She’d lived with the master longer than any of us and thought that made her our boss. I used to fear and despise her back then, but it's difficult to hate her now that she's gone.
“Trash! Filth! Useless piece of shit!” Mira screamed as she continued throwing knives one after another at my body. Being a soul they all passed through me like air, but I dropped my tray in shock and the wine glasses all shattered against the floor with a crash.
“So you think that you can have the master all to yourself now do you pretty boy?” Said a soul named Alphonse who was leaning on the kitchen bench behind her. His arms were angrily crossed over his chest and he glared down at me, which was probably the only frightening thing a dead guy like him could possibly do. Alphonse was a large man with short hair who always acted tough, but was reduced to a giggling mess in the presence of Master Alistair. I wonder if he was like that when he was alive, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he sold his soul in order to get some stuck up guy’s attention.
A year earlier Alphonse and Mira had bothdesperately competed for the master on a daily basis, but they’d recently decided to join forces along with Angela who must have also been there. Angela looked like a small girl no older than seven, but in reality she was more than four hundred. All her centuries in hell had warped her childish soul into something dark and unrecognisable, and I think she must have somehow deceived the master into thinking that she was an adorable young girl. I could never imagine Alistair intentionally buying someone who could suck all the joy out of a room.
“Slit him open,” she said with a wicked smirk which looked out of place on such a small child. My suffering probably brought that bitch great joy.
Alphonse and Mira began to encroach on me, and being the naive idiot I was back then, I completely freaked out. What a joke. As if a ghost can actually make a ghost bleed? I stupidly pressed myself to the wall in terror and prayed that I could somehow pass through, but unfortunately the shitty gods of Hell weren’t kind enough to give us such useful skills.
Anyway, there I was, completely terrified of an angry ghost girl and her transparent sidekicks, when suddenly my only friend in Hell, Anya, burst through the window dragging Felix behind her. Anya was a boyish girl with long curly hair who’d been working for our master for over a decade. She was strong, forward, and didn’t let rotten souls such as Mana and Alphonse walk all over her. Maybe I was in love with her, or maybe I wanted to be like her, but it was so long ago that it doesn't matter. Either way she was completely infatuated with our charismatic master and didn't bother to hide it. Perhaps we were only friends because she saw me as a useful ally in her constant struggle against the other three, or maybe she honestly viewed me as a friend, but Anya’s long gone now so I can’t exactly ask. Sometimes I wish that she was still around. I could do with the company right about now.
Felix was someone who I could almost consider a friend. He was the calmest guy in the mansion and he had no interest in our master or involving himself in the other’s feuds. He was a young looking man with messy hair and glasses even though I'm certain that souls don’t need them to see. Our master had unsuccessfully tried to hit on him several times, so Felix had retreated to the garden and barely came indoors. I’d even begun to forget how his voice sounded.
“You!” Spat Mira like refusing to address Anya by name would somehow make her more inferior.
“Mira!” Yelled Anya and she angrily pointed one finger towards the other girl. “Looks like your pea sized brain has finally figured out that the master will never love you, but there’s no need to take your pent up frustration out on Ethan.”
“What do you know bitch!” Said Mira with a knife in her hand. “I’ve been here longer than any of you. I know things about the master that you never will!”
“Oh dear Mira,” said Anya. “Knowing what time the master poops shouldn’t be considered a big secret.”
“I know more!” Cried Mira. “I’ve seen him naked!”
“I saw him naked once too!” Anya yelled back.
“Liar! Everyone knows that he was only half naked that time!” Yelled Anya.
“Was not!” Said Mira. “I saw everything!”
“Why am I even here!” Cried Felix as he desperately tried to escape Mira’s grip on his wrist. “I’m just a gardener!”
“Quit struggling and back me up!” Snapped Anya. “You’re supposed to be on my side.”
“I never agreed to be on your side!”
“If you’re not on their side, that automatically makes you on my side!”
“Even Felix can’t help you now!” Yelled Mira and she threw a kitchen knife at Anya, but the other girl easily dodged it.
Knowing my fellow soul slaves they probably descended into some pointless argument and began threatening to kill each other despite already being dead. The fight only came to a close when Anya got her hands on the frying pans and began tossing them at Mira and Alphonse like frisbees. The two of them ducked behind the kitchen counter to avoid her assault, while Angela just stood there and yawned like she was bored.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” said Anya and she reached out her hand towards me. I hesitantly took it, and we ran out of the kitchen and down the corridor like a pair of small children. The skirt of her black maid uniform billowed behind her as we dashed down the halls past expensive oak furniture and exquisite works of art. I didn’t know it back then, but most people in the underworld live in poverty, and very few demons can possibly afford to live in a mansion as majestic as that one. Alistair inherited everything from his late parents and faded paintings of a large woman and a tall looking man glared down at us from the walls with disapproval. Sometimes I could also spot small paintings of a young and miserable looking Master Alistair dressed in a black dinner suit.
At last we arrived at the library and Anya dragged me inside and bolted the door behind us.
“They shouldn’t be able to find us in here,” she said with a grin and collapsed on the carpeted floor. “That’s what you get for messing with team Anya!”
“What about Felix?” It seemed cruel to leave him there to deal with Mira and Alphonse alone.
“He should be fine,” she said with a shrug. “They don’t have much against him with that guy being neutral and all,” by neutral she meant that he wasn’t involved in their daily battles to become the master’s favourite.
“That reminds me,” Anya quickly spun to face me with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. I knew that she was doing her best to appear frightening,but she just looked like a small child throwing a tantrum. “Is it true what they’re saying? Did the master really kiss you in front of all the guests tonight?”
My mind was suddenly assaulted by images of what happened earlier and I tried my best to push them back down into the depths of my memory where they belonged. I’d been serving drinks at his party like always when master Alistair suddenly grabbed me by the wrist, spun me to face him, and then crushed his lips against mine before everyone. Obviously I’m just a walking ghost so I couldn’t feel anything, but it was the first time that he’d been so overly affectionate towards me. I’d seen him do it plenty of times with his other guests, so I suppose that something like that must have been meaningless to a playboy like him.
“So it is true!” Cried Anya and she jabbed one finger at my chest. “I can tell from that look on your face!”
“No, it wasn’t anything like that!”
“Oh no,” she cried dramatically. “Don’t tell me that you also want the master!”
“No, no, you have it all wrong!” I cried. “I didn’t ask him to do it, he must have just done it because he was drunk and there was no one else around.”
“Really?” She glared down at me. “How do I know that you don’t secretly like him too? They say that it’s always the quiet ones that you need to worry about.”
I couldn’t take her glare so I had to look away. “There’s no way that I would ever like a guy like that. He’s vain and cares only about himself.”
There were plenty of other negative things that I wanted to say about Alistair, like he was an irresponsible playboy who was going to end up destroying himself, but I had to stop there because I knew that Anya loved our master more than anything, and she would certainly become mad if I continued to disrespect him. I could remember wishing that Anya would pay that much attention towards me.
“I suppose you're right,” she sighed. “But I’m worried about him, you should have heard what those people were saying tonight behind his back. They’re all so civil and pleasant to his face but they’re like monsters when they don’t think that he can hear them anymore. They kept saying that it was wrong to be so affectionate to souls like us. They think that we should suffer.Everyone think’s the master’s snapped and gone nuts.”
“I’m sure that’s not true,” I said to reassure her, but looking back on it now I’m certain Alistair must have been mad. “They just don’t know him as well as we do, that’s all.”
“Yeah, I guess you're right, it must just be something like that,” she smiled nervously. “Imagine if the master actually did go nuts?” She laughed. I began to laugh along with her while hoping that she wouldn’t resent me for what happened at the party that night.
Our lives continued on like that in the mansion for decades. Every day was much the same. We’d start by doing the chores the master had assigned us, but then one of us would get on another’s nerves and we’d all end up facing off against each other until Anya and I ran away, or the master would come to break up our fights. Then we’d all go to sleep and wake up anddo the same thing the next day for another forty years. We all foolishlythought that we could exist there forever in our own sheltered hideaway, but of course it was impossible to hide from the terrible world which existed outside our master’s four walls.
Next chapter! The beloved master moves towards his end!
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