THE SOUL TO TAKE

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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

“It doesn’t take a genius to know what they meant. ‘The time has come for all to know what each has hidden’ is simple. Secrets. They were talking about the secrets we are keeping. The second thing is about talking out our problems and setting our differences aside for now. Obviously, when Shiva turned the gods to stone it caused an unbalance between the worlds. How and what that unbalance is...is something we don't know. When they said fix it or we will, what they really meant was, if we don't fix the unbalance then they will take our fate into their hands to fix the unbalance. They were forewarning us to work together and solve the issue or to suffer the consequences of not doing so,” Orpheus explained.

Everyone stared blankly at him.

“How in the underworld did you decipher their message so quickly?” Anna asked.

It was lucky that Orpheus was covered in black fur or else Anna would see how hard-core he was blushing.

“It's a long story...one I prefer to share only with you, Anna,” he softly stated.

“Spill it all ready, guys,” a sleepy Rex said.

Rex moved from where he had been laying and wandered over to Anna's lap. He was comfortable enough with her to show her affection. It was amazing how much one could grow on a being in such a short time. Rex looked up to Anna like a motherly figure even though it was his duty to protect her. He told himself, that by cuddling on her lap, he was protecting her.

Anna smiled down at her goyle. She waited for him to get comfortable in her lap before she started to stroke his stony ears.

“Rex is right. Who wants to go first?” She asked.

Sin scooted closer to Anna while Kyrain and Shiva repelled away from each other.

“This is stupid. Everyone has secrets. I highly doubt that by sharing ours, it's going to fix the unbalance issue,” Shiva scoffed.

“For once I agree with you,” Kyrain said.

Sin said nothing.

Orpheus rolled his eyes.“You guys are so daft. The Fates didn't want us to just blurt out all of our secrets. They wanted us to tell the ones that concerned the issue at hand. There is a reason we are all here and that they showed themselves to all of us. Each one of us has played a part in establishing the unbalance. We all ready know a part of Shiva's, but she needs to tell it like it is, from beginning to end,” Orpheus said.

Shiva muttered something that was too low for anyone to hear.

“Fine,” She said.

Shiva couldn't believe she was about to tell them everything, but the last thing she wanted was for the Fates to come after her. She would rather take her chances with the gods.

“I was always a little power hungry. Hades always said that it was my lust for power that made me so special in his eyes. When I was a little girl, Persephone wouldn't have anything to do with me; or Hades wouldn't let her. I don't know which. The point is, Hades raised me. He raised me to be the next ruler of the underworld. He swore he would step down when I was ready to rule. I waited and waited but he never stepped down. When I confronted him, he just laughed in my face and told me that he would never step down. He had lied to me and it hurt. I wanted to punish him. At the time, I was a mere soul collector. While I was in the process of collecting Kyrain's soul, I came across a passage in my soul book that appealed to me.”

“I had only wanted to turn Hades to stone but somehow I ended up turning all the gods and demigods as well. I guess, because I was the one who had cast the spell, that I was spared. I can only guess that Kyrain was spared because he was on the mortal plane, and had been reborn. Since Sin is part demon and part mortal, then he was spared. I'm not sure how you weren’t turned to stone, Anna,” Shiva admitted.

“I don’t know. I guess I’m not a demigod; just some immortal with the gift of light,” Anna said.

“Even so, Anna, you should have been turned to stone because of your gift of light, but I know why you weren’t,” Rex said.

Rex looked up at Anna. She was ready to know the truth, and he seriously doubted the Fates would penalize him for telling it to her now.

“You do?” Anna asked.

“Yes. But in order for me to tell you my story, the cat must first tell his,” Rex said.

Orpheus sucked in a breath. He knew he would have to speak eventually, but he was hoping to get Anna alone first. Well, it wasn’t going to happen that way, he could see; he would have to tell her everything he knew in front of an audience. He supposed worse things could happen.

“Anna, do you remember when I told you my story in the maze? I lied about everything, only I didn't know I was lying at the time. My name is Orpheus and the reason I could decipher the Fates words is because, while I was a legendary musician and poet, I’m also a prophet. You’re going to think I am completely insane, but everything I'm about to tell you is one hundred percent the truth.”

“Eurydice was my wife, my one true love. And when she died, I was devastated. My wife was so beautiful and so full of life. I only got to be with her for a short time. You see, there was a man that pursued her to no end. One day when she was fleeing from this man, she stepped on a viper and got bit. She died instantly and I wasn't there to save her. I was too busy making music with my instruments and creating poems which my love had inspired me to do.”

“It was that very music that had inspired the nymphs to tell me how I could be reunited with my love. I knocked on deaths door, and finally my knock was answered. A collector manipulated my body enough that it appeared as if I was dead, but kept my body alive while my soul traveled to the underworld. I was met there by Hades and Persephone; and because at that time Hades loved his wife so much, when she pleaded my case he granted it.”

“I was told both Eurydice and I could leave the underworld. However that was only to be if I met one condition. I was to walk through the tunnel in front of Eurydice and not look back until we both reached the mortal plane. At the time it seemed easy enough...too easy. So, I accepted the condition.

As I walked ahead of Eurydice, I began to doubt Hades’ word. She was so silent so I had no indication whether she was behind me or not and I lacked faith.”

“I made it through the threshold between the worlds, but I became so paranoid that I turned around. If I had just waited a few more seconds, then Eurydice would have been mine once more. As it was, Eurydice yet had one foot still in the tunnel, so when I looked and saw her face, she was whisked back into the underworld.”

“My chance was gone, but I didn't give up. I mourned for her day and night until my time was up. This time, when the collector took my soul, my mortal body died with it. I was sent to the underworld and there judged.”

“At that time, I discovered Hades was no longer the ruler, but his daughter was. I had been judged to be a slave, and at first I complied, but then I began to seek for a way to escape my fate. As soon as the opportunity arose I took it. I found myself in the middle of the maze and I was searching for my love. When the statue gave me the riddle, I wasn't able to give it the correct answer. Because I failed the statue laid a curse upon me; I was to be a cat and a guide to all the beings who were smart enough to pass the test. However, I could be free if I found my one true love and if she would accept me as hers.”

But, the longer I stayed in the statue, the more I forget. It wasn't until recently, that I came to remember who I really was. During my time in the statue, I had come across many beings and one of those beings had been a god; he gave me a gift. That gift gave me godlike abilities. While I was never a god, I do still have those abilities.”

“I've spent many years searching for my Eurydice, and I finally found her, It's you, Anna. You’re Eurydice reincarnated,” Orpheus said.

Anna sighed. The Fates had already clued her in on who she really was.

“I know. The Fates told me. You said reincarnated? The Fates said that my mortal life as Anna was fabricated?” Anna questioned.

Orpheus had no answer for her, but Rex did.

“They are correct. After your soul as Eurydice came to the underworld, and Orpheus had failed to retrieve it, the Fates let it be. They figured you, as Eurydice, would complete your mission without further distraction,” he said.

“It still doesn’t explain how I ended up with fabricated memories,” Anna pointed out.

At Orpheus's words, Sin had placed a possessive arm around Anna. He threw a hostile look Orpheus's way. Anna was his girl and no one was going to take her away from him. He would kill them first.

Kyrain sat back dumbfounded. He was the man who had given the gift of godlike powers to Orpheus, but the last thing he had expected was that the gift would bite him in the butt. Here he was trying to pursue Anna, and now he had more competition. The only way it could suck even more was if the repulsive gargoyle spoke up and confessed his love to his girl as well.

Anna shook her head. Up til the last bit, she had believed every word Orpheus had said. How was it that every male in the underworld ended up believing they were in love with her? If the Fates hadn't told her she was Eurydice, then she would have to swear up and down that she was the daughter of Aphrodite.

“Not to interrupt this love fest, but I really don't see how this all plays into the whole unbalance thing. Though it is interesting how we all knew one another before this moment,” Shiva said.

“Rex...You said you would tell your story after Orphi- I mean Orpheus told his,” Anna said.

She would process everything else later, but she was dying to know what Rex knew. Sin's possessive gesture was getting on her nerves. If he didn't see how much she cared, than he was truly ignorant. She had gone through hell...literally, just to get to him. If that wasn't love, she didn't know what was.

Rex nodded.”Anna, what Orpheus said is true. What the Fates said is also true. Your soul was recycled. Only demigods have souls; the full blooded gods do not, though many think otherwise. I believe Sira told you slightly different and she wasn't too far off base. You are Eurydice, but you may never remember being Eurydice. The Fates recruited you. They foresaw what Shiva would do, on the very day she was born. Your mission then, was to steal Shiva when she was a baby. It was a mission you accepted, but then Hades caught you red-handed and he placed your soul into the infant mortal body of Anna. He couldn't destroy your soul, because you were, and still are, protected by the Fate

“When you were old enough, the Fates went to you and gave you another mission. They wanted you to kill Shiva before the damage was done. But they didn't know the exact date Shiva would cast the spell. So before you could start your mission, the spell had all ready been cast. At the time, you were on the mortal plane preparing for your mission. When the spell hit the gods, it also hit you because of your gift.”

“It was because of your gift that the spell affected you. You lost all memory of ever being Eurydice, and you also forgot the mission you were supposed to complete. The spell fabricated fake memories for you. It was the spells way of filling in the blanks that had been made when your memory was wiped. My guess is that, because you and Orpheus had a close bond in your previous life that the spell also linked you two together. When you lost your memory, he lost his. When you got yours back, so did he.”

“Originally when the Fates came to you and told you about your mission, they didn't go into a lot of detail. However, that doesn't matter anymore. They don't care what happens to Shiva now. They just want the unbalance fixed,” Rex said.

“What is the unbalance?” Sin asked.

“You should know. Shiva knew. She was working towards fixing it while still trying to get away with keeping the gods locked away,” Rex said.

Shiva's eyes widen.”The taking of unmarked souls! The collectors have been going rouge since the day I cast that spell.” Shiva said.

“Very good. Only it's more than just the unmarked souls being taken; your collectors have also been leaving marked souls behind. Are you aware what happens to innocent souls that are taken way before their time? Do you know what happens to marked souls when they are left behind?” Rex inquired.

Shiva shook her head no, Kyrain looked blank,

Sin kept his face expressionless and stayed silent,

Orpheus shrugged, and Anna raised an eyebrow and gave Rex a look that said, “Go on.”

“Innocent souls get stuck in limbo. They don't come here, they don't get judged, and they don't have their souls recycled. Marked souls that are left behind go insane, their souls become shades, and their bodies eventually deteriorate and die. Then their souls become stuck on the mortal plane. If enough marked souls are left behind, then the negative energy they create tips the scales of good and evil in both worlds. The mortal plane will become the underworld, and the underworld will no longer be as we know it now.”

“It's unclear exactly how the underworld will change, but one thing is for certain: the mortal plane will be thrown into a chain of rolling events that will eventually end up becoming an apocalypse,” Rex said.

For once Shiva looked terrified. “It's my entire fault!” She sobbed.

“Yes, and no. The unbalance started before you were born. It started when Persephone messed with the tunnel of return and manipulated it to fit her desires. Everything would have turned out fine if she had gone through, but because Hades stopped her, the marked soul she should have replaced never got collected; it stayed on the mortal plane long after its body deteriorated. You, well you just didn't help matters any when you chose to cast the spell,” Rex said.

Anna gasped out loud. Something just occurred to her.

“Oh my god. Unbalance! That's it. The scales of justice are also unbalanced,” She said.

“No, they are not,” Shiva said.

“Yes. Yes, they are. When I was being judged there was a young girl that you called first. What was her name?” Anna paused. She recalled the day she had been judged and all the people who had went before her. “Jane Rowan! She was a sweet looking little girl, who I thought to be about six years old. There was no way that girl should have done all those bad things that she had done. I thought it was odd at the time, and when the guy you called after Jane came up...Oh, who was he?” Another pause. “Jason Kruger! That's it. When he was called forward I expected him to see the same fate as Jane. He was a rough looking fellow with cold eyes. Yet the scales tipped in his favor and the TV made him look like a saint.”

“Now how could it be that a sweet looking six year old would do bad deeds, and a rough looking man in his mid forties hadn't done one single bad thing?” Anna scrutinized.

“Hmm... maybe the unbalance affects the living as well? Makes the one's who would have originally been kind and good go bad, and the ones that should have been cruel and bad be good and saint like. I wouldn't rule it out. It is also possible for the scales to be corrupt as well. Nothing is impossible when the delicate balance has been broken,” Rex said.

“How do we fix it?” Orpheus asked.

No one said anything because no one knew the answer to that question.

“Why should we fix it? It's obviously Shiva's fault,” Kyrain said.

“You want to rule the underworld right? Well good luck with that if there is no underworld to rule,” Sin said.

Kyrain glared at Sin and Sin glared right back. Sin wasn't intimidated one bit by his younger brother. Truth was, he didn't want to rule the underworld, he just wanted to take Anna and find a little oasis they could exist in. He was over the drama of his siblings, the world above, and the one they were currently residing in. Sin wanted to think that if he suggested it to Anna she would be down with it. But Orpheus’ coming might change things. He needed to know. The underworld was not his problem, the mortal realm was no longer his problem, and all the souls- innocent or not- were not his problem.

“Forget this. Anna comes with me. Together we will find our own place in the worlds. I don't care where that is, I just want to leave all this crap behind and be with you for all eternity...what do you say?” He looked to Anna.

Orpheus interjected before Anna could say a word.

“Three things, bud. First, there won't be a place in the world if you ignore the issue at hand. Second, Anna is my girl. Third, why would she ever want to be with a coward like you?”

Sin's face couldn't turn any redder. While they had been talking, he had shifted back into his mortal body, though right now he was wishing he had stayed in demon form. Sin was trying to come up with a snappy comeback, but before he could get a thought formed, Kyrain put his two cents in.

“You both have it wrong because she wants to be with me. It is written that a woman with a strong soul will help me get what I most desire. Well, sorry to disappoint both of you, but that woman is Anna,” Kyrain said possessively.

Shiva wisely chose to stay out of the current turn the conversation had taken.

“Excuse me, guys, but all three of you are forgetting something,” Anna said.

“What?” they asked in unison.

“That she is my girl,” Rex said, for the hell of it.

Anna playfully swatted him. She knew that he was joking and she appreciated his attempt at trying to lighten everyone's mood.

Anna finished, “That I am not a trophy. You cannot possess me. I either choose to be with someone or I don't. Right now all three of you are being so childish that it makes me question why I was ever with any of you.”

Shiva cleared her throat. She quite liked ruling the underworld and would like to continue doing so.

“If you children are done squabbling, I have a proposal for all of you,” She said.

That got their attention. All heads turned to Shiva.

“If you will all help me set things right, then I will reward you all.”

She then turned to Anna. “If you help me, then I will release the gods. Your mission will be over and you will be free to live out your...whatever.”

“Kyrain, if you help out, then I will step down and you will be the next ruler.”

“Sin, if you help then...well I won't come after you and you can be free to find your little oasis.”

“As for you two,” Shiva looked at the cat and gargoyle, “I have nothing to offer.”

“Do we have a deal?” She asked.

Anna nodded. She was willing to help if only to save the mortal realm. And if she was able to set the gods free in the process, then that made it all the sweeter for her.

Kyrain nodded. He knew Shiva was lying through her teeth, but he would rather get the worlds back in order so when it came time to overthrow Shiva he would have an underworld to rule.

Sin shrugged. He seriously doubted Shiva would keep her word, but if it meant he got to spend more time with Anna then he was down for it.

Orpheus frowned. He didn't think Shiva would let the gods go and he hoped Anna knew that. However, he knew that wherever she went he would follow. He wouldn't loose her again.

Rex just gave everyone a lopsided smile. He had his moments where he could be mature, but mostly he was just a child. He let his tongue loll out of his mouth and nuzzled into Anna's hand. Where she went he would go. It was his sworn duty after all.

“Then it's settled. I have to stay here because the underworld needs a ruler, especially at this critical time. But you are all going to have to split up. The mortal realm is huge and I need someone to go there. And someone needs to go to limbo and see what they know. I have a feeling that even if I set the gods free it won't be enough. I think we may need to round up the marked souls, and free the innocent ones in order to get the worlds back in balance. That should help with the scales of justice. I will still need someone to guide the soul collectors and keep them from taking any more innocent souls; they need to get back on task with the marked souls.”

“Kyrain, you will deal with the other soul collectors. Sin you will search the mortal realm and round up the left behind marked souls; take the cat with you.”

“Anna, you and the gargoyle will go to limbo and free the innocent souls. They need to be judged as fast as possible. I don't know what will happen to them if we wait any longer. Any questions?” Shiva asked.

They all opened their mouths to protest about their arrangements, but Shiva cut them off.

“Good. Okay, get going. Remember to stay in contact with each other and most importantly, me. For now we will call a truce, but once the worlds are in order all bets are off. Though, I'll still hold up my end of the deal,” Shiva said. She added the last part for their benefit. Shiva had no intention of keeping up her end of the deal. Her words may be bound, but there was always a way to bypass a detail or two and she would have plenty of time to figure it out while they fixed her mistake.

Kyrain teleported from the underworld; he was anxious to get started and with the mood he was in, it meant a lot of collectors would end up in pain. His true plans were not forgotten though, and he intended on bugging Anna until she begged for him to take her.

Sin had no idea how to leave the underworld. He wasn't happy about being paired with his rival, but it would give him a chance to study his opponent and figure out a way to eliminate the competition for Anna's love.

“I can't teleport yet...” Sin said.

Orpheus smiled wickedly. He knew Anna would be just fine with the gargoyle. However, he was going to have a lot of fun with her current boy toy. There was no doubt to him who Anna truly belonged too and he was bound and determined to remind Sin of it every chance he got. He would impress Anna by collecting the souls that needed to be collected and he would have a grand time doing so by putting Sin to shame. Sin couldn't teleport, but he knew a sure fire way they could exit the underworld. Of course, it would irritate Sin immensely; his plan was genius.

“That's okay. We will use the platform to go to the mortal realm,” he said to Sin.

“What platform?” Sin asked.

“Follow me and you will see. I do hope you don't mind heights?” Orpheus asked.

Sin groaned. He hated heights.

“How are we all going to keep in touch?” Anna asked.

Shiva but her lip while she thought about it. “Telepathic communication.” She closed her eyes and whispered an incantation spell that would connect all of their minds together. She made it so they could get in touch with each other when they needed to, but kept it so their private thoughts would remain private. The last thing she needed was for any of them to see into her private thoughts. “Done.”

Anna watched as Sin and Orpheus took the path that would lead them to the platform. She really hoped they wouldn't kill each other in her absence. She didn't know how she felt about either of them now that she knew the full truth of who she was. All she knew was she had innocent souls to save and that was all that mattered. She still loved Sin but she found herself infatuated with Orphie as well. There would be a time she knew she would have to choose between them. If the Fates were anything to go on, then she would be in darkness if she chose Sin. Anna hated thinking about having to choose between her current lover and a past lover she didn't remember. It was best to just focus on the task at hand.

“Can you make a portal?” She asked Rex.

“To limbo? Of course. I can make a portal to all of the worlds. It is one of the many gifts I have,” Rex boasted.

Anna chuckled. “Please make us one.”

“You got it,” Rex said.

He flew out of her lap and swiped at the air. The air parted and a slit of light was revealed. Anna stood up and brushed her pants off.

“Piggy-back ride?” he asked.

“You going to fall asleep again?” She teased.

“Maybe,” Rex admitted.

“Alright. Hop on,” she said laughing.

Rex shouted in glee and jumped onto her back.

Anna walked up to the portal. Her ocean blue eyes blazed with excitement for the challenges to come. She raised her arm and let out a battle cry. She was more than sure that it was an appropriate time to do so. After all, she didn't know what she would be facing once she stepped through the portal and entered the other side.

With no hesitation or second-guessing, Anna jumped through the portal. A sparkling light blue mist consumed her and Rex. Together they disappeared through the portal, anxious and ready for their next adventure.


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