The Rise

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Chapter Fifty-Seven

“Just… if he’s going to meet Nakida…” Ashur’s mom gazed over at him, her brows furrowed together. “Let me know how he reacts. If something goes wrong, can you call me?”

I smiled at her and nodded. After reassuring her a few times that everything would be okay, I walked her to the door and promised to mindlink her and Samuel immediately if Ashur reacted negatively to seeing Nakida.

Nobody had informed Ashur about his true origins, so I had to tell him today myself. Then, we would visit Nakida.

When she finally left the packhouse, after gazing back at Ashur, I shut the door quietly behind her. She was so worried, as any mother would be about a son who was resurrected from the dead.

Valerio was sitting at the table with Ashur, chatting about something. They both quieted down when I returned. I sat next to Valerio and across from Ashur. “Ashur, we need to talk to you about something.”

He nodded his head. “Is it about becoming a Protector because I really, really want to be one. No matter what my mom says I will be one one-day.”

I smiled at him. “No, this isn’t about being a Protector. This is about why your mother is so worried about you.”

His lips formed an ‘o’. “Yeah, she seems really worried lately. Usually she is so laid back. Why do you think she’s worried? Did I do something wrong?”

Valerio shook his head. “Nothing wrong.”

“Ashur, this is really hard to say, but you’ve changed,” I started. I honestly didn’t know how to tell him that he had died and was now in someone else’s body without sounding like I lost my mind.

“How?”

I took a deep breath. “Well…” I guess it would be better to start from the top. “There are people who have been taking pups and killing them to hurt me. Unfortunately, a few months ago… you were one of those pups.”

His brow furrowed. “How could I be one of those pups? I am here.”

My lips parted and pressed together a few times. “I have the power to bring people back to life, only if certain circumstances are met.”

“So you brought me back to life?” He laughed. “Oh my gosh! That’s so cool! Am I like part zombie or something?”

Valerio chuckled. “No, you’re not a zombie.”

Ashur made a face. “Oh, man. You know how cool everyone would think I am, if I was one?”

I forced a smile, wanting to steer this conversation back to where it was originally going. “Ashur, your body was destroyed.”

He quieted down and sat up. “But…”

“Someone who was very close to us died and before he did, he offered his body to you.”

“So… this isn’t my own body?” he asked. I shook my head. He parted his lips in disbelief and hopped off the chair to look in the mirror. His fingers gently grazed against his skin, picking and prodding and pinching himself. “What did I look like before?”

Valerio unlocked his phone and tapped on a picture, maximizing Ashur’s before-picture on the screen. He pushed his phone across the table and Ashur took it. His eyes widened. “This was me?”

I nodded my head.

“I look so small.” He laughed. “Well, I’m so glad I got this body. I’m super buff now.”

I closed my eyes, silently cursing Samuel for having this kind of influence on him. But I was glad that he wasn’t freaked out about his new body and his new life.

He sat back down, suddenly serious. “Moon Goddess, I have two questions.”

“Go ahead.”

“Did he…” He pointed to his own body. “...have interests in divines?”

I nodded my head, a small smile appearing on my face. “Yes.”

“He was very smart. I can tell. Sometimes I can answer questions that I don’t even know the answers to. I know I never liked thinking about divinities before, but now I’m so obsessed with them. I can do things I never thought I could do and have some distant memories of people I have never met.”

“What kind of memories?” I asked.

“I have memories of talking to Sun. I have memories of a man - a god - trying to hurt you with two snakes… I have a memory of bringing a skull to a man who helped hide it for us.”

My heart was fluttering with joy until the last memory. Ayodele never went to hide the skull with Vihaan with me. I did that by myself.

“I remember going to a bar…” He laughed. “... with that guy too. I’ve never been to a bar.”

I furrowed my brow. I was positive that Ashur had some of Ayodele’s memories stored, but… some of these memories were mine and mine only. Was he conscious when his soul was inside my body? Was he aware of his surroundings, able to form memories of being with me?

If he was… that meant that Damon could still form memories and be present too, which changed my whole mindset. I gave Valerio a I-need-to-talk-to-you-later look and he nodded.

Ashur looked between us. “Also, I had one more question. Why don’t I remember dying? Like… I remember what happened… but I don’t remember death or the time I wasn’t alive.”

I sat up. “You don’t remember anything?”

He rested his elbows on the table. “I don’t think so… I don’t know actually. The memories all get fuzzy in my head. I can’t tell if its his memory or my own.”

I frowned. I guess the rise of souls had some consequences. The body and the soul would become one and wouldn’t be able to differentiate between either. That makes things a bit more complicated for the next time I rose a soul.

Did people need to be compatible? Was this even ethical?

I thought nothing of it when I was doing it because I wanted to bring happiness, instead of pain to people… but was this right?

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