Ancient Legends Book Two
©Copyright 2011 Jayde Scott
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance between the characters and persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Other titles by Jayde Scott:
The Divorce Club
A Job From Hell (Ancient Legends Book One)
Voodoo Kiss (Ancient Legends Book Three…coming soon) To Twinschi, Silver and Tabby
You taught me the true meaning of love…
My gratitude goes to F. for the inspiration and for believing in me all those years. You're a blessing and my rock. Without you, I couldn't have written yet another book.
A huge thank-you to my editor and beta readers. Your insight is always appreciated.
Thank you to my critique partner, Christine, whose witty lines never cease to amaze me.
Last but not least, a huge thanks to all my wonderful readers for taking a chance on a new author.
Chapter 1 – Family relations
I stood in the corner of the torture chamber, back pressed against the ancient stone. The air was hot, sucking every bit of oxygen out of my lungs. Bright rays seeped through the few loose stones in the wall, leaving a trail of whirled up dust particles in their wake. I sighed and pointed at the heavy mahogany door.
"How long is this going to take, Dad? You know I've to get to my job."
A guy hanging from long chains in the ceiling yelled like a pitchfork just stabbed him in the bum. I figured that was about the only answer I'd get. Groaning, I averted my gaze, hoping Dad, dressed in his usual business suit, gaze fixed on the guy undergoing some major torture, wouldn't notice, but of course he did.
"This is your job, Cassandra. Are you watching and learning?" he asked.
Nodding, I curled my lips into a forced smile, grateful Dad couldn't read my thoughts because we were blood-related. My stomach turned at the metallic smell of blood hitting my nostrils.
You'd think after growing up there I would've been used to the whole shebang—torture, famine, death and so forth—but I still flinched and gritted my teeth. Truth be told, I'd rather do my nails and smell of YSL
than dust, sweat and what else not. Even at King Louis XVI's court, which we were forced to visit as part of a history project at school, I was the one who stayed inside and ate all the chocolate truffles instead of joining the cheering crowd to watch the henchman decapitate France's traitors. Trouble was, Dad didn't quite agree with my pastime choices of shopping and doing my nails.
"Looky here, kiddo." Dad pointed at the poor soul who had probably made a few wrong choices in his life. "If you tickle that spot right under his solar plexus, he'll be in painful giggles for days. That's enough time to come up with the next step in his endless loop of torture. We have a reputation to maintain, got to be versatile."
Groaning, I rolled my eyes. I couldn't stand the yelping, shouting and crying any more, so I inched closer, holding my breath because the smell made me sick. "Dad?"
Dad's green eyes focused on me. "You know you're not supposed to call me that when we're at work."
I nodded, carefully preparing my words. "Right. Sorry, Lucifer.
Do you think you could let me finish this for once?" I ran a hand through my frizzy red hair, which I did mean to straighten in the morning, but let's face it, with the heat down there I wouldn't have done my split ends any favour.
Dad cocked a brow. "You want to—"
Not really. "Uh—huh."
He beamed at me. "That's my girl. Want me to help you?" I rolled my eyes again. He held out his hands. "Okay, I was just checking. If you need anything, call me."
I waited until he disappeared out the torture chamber, then walked over to the guy dangling from some kick-ass chains, and tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention.
His eyes darted about; I could smell his fear, or maybe it was just the sickening odour of someone who hadn't showered in at least a week. Combine that with the heat, blood and a fair share of other body fluids, and you have a deadly combination.
I wrapped an arm around his neck, my sleeve barely touching his sweat-slicked skin. "Listen, mate. Here's the deal. I just got my nails done and I don't need them getting chipped when I practice one of these procedures from this little, old book." I hold up my Torture Techniques For Dummies booklet, covering the Dummies part so he wouldn't think I was a complete beginner. "Do you think you could scream and moan a bit, you know, like you're in real pain?" I whispered.
He just stared at me, open-mouthed. I groaned inwardly. Was he dense or something?
"Yo," I hissed. "Either you do as I say, or the Big Boss's coming back. Trust me, you don't want that."
Dad's voice rang through the chamber, making me jump. "Less talking. More screaming!"
I groaned. Seriously, no pressure there. "Just warming up, Dad."
"Looks like you're the one that needs convincing," he roared.
"Where's your Louis Vuitton handbag?"
"No, don't do anything rash, like cut my credit cards in half." I licked my finger, then leafed through the pages. My finger landed on Impalement: A sharp pole is pushed through a victim’s body while alive. Who in their right mind would ever practice something that barbaric, not to mention disgusting?
"Please yell," I whispered. The guy barely acknowledged me, so I held up the page to him, praying he could read. His eyes skimmed the large fonts, pupils widening. I could see I was finally getting somewhere.
"Oh, that looks painful." I sighed. "I've got goose bumps just thinking about a nasty procedure like that. If you don't start acting, I'm going to call my dad to show you how this little number works."
It took a few seconds for the message to kick in, but the guy finally let out an ear-piercing cry.
"Okay, cut it." I shot a last glance over my shoulder and turned back to him. "It's kind of late and I need to get to work. What do you say, you scream one more time, then fall into a nice coma? Doesn't have to be a deep one. They'll let you sleep for a few hours until I get back."
I counted to three and slipped out because I couldn't take it any longer. Dad thought one day I'd inherit the family business aka Hell, but I had other plans. I loved my customer service career. Soon, I'd have my own company and we'd give Amazon a run for their money.
Chapter 2 – Distros
The torture chamber was situated on the third plane, Acerbus.
Hell had seven different dimensions, each coming with its own perks of physical agony and mental misery. By the time I reached our mansion on the first level to change for work, I'd be covered in grime, sweat and what else not. Before I wasted any more time, I took out my high-tech phone, and beamed myself onto the second upper plane, Distros, where the heat was still bearable. Usually, I tried to avoid it because Distros is one spooky place, but I had no choice than to travel through only one dimension at a time since I hadn't yet come up with the right programming on my phone.
Proud of myself, I peered at the tiny electronic item, which I invented in a rare moment of utter ingenuity. It looked like any other cell phone, albeit a very chic one in a sleek 'n silver way. But, based on its functionalities, it resembled an electronic genie. However, since I had designed it not long ago and it hadn't passed its beta
The wide plane was covered in a thick layer of grey dust blocking out the sun. A strong wind whirled the decaying leaves on the ground, blowing them toward the dilapidated cottages in the distance.
Many deceased people lived in Distros, souls who would be accepted into Heaven once they sat out a certain amount of time for their petty crimes, such as lacking faith and having the wrong priorities in life. I knew for sure none of Dad's demon employees were around because Distros was home to our temporary visitors that didn't require torture for their sins, meaning there was almost no supervision. Dad figured, being there in that semi-darkness instead of with their loved ones was enough punishment already, so he didn't get involved.
As said, Distros gave me the creeps even more than the torture chambers in the lower planes. The emotional turmoil and suffering was too strong for an angel. So I didn't usually linger here, but today something made me hesitate.
"Hello?" My voice echoed in the vast space, cutting through the eerie silence like a knife.
The soft wail of a girl carried over from my right. Even though I knew better than to get involved, I headed toward the tiny lodge. She was sitting on the porch, her blonde head buried in her lap, strands of hair swaying in the wind. Behind her, a loose shutter thudded against the dirty wall of the house.
"Are you okay?" Stupid question, I know, given that she was dead and stuck in Hell. Of course she couldn't be okay when her mind kept recalling the still vivid memories of her life. Rubbing my upper arms, I took several tentative steps forward until I stopped several inches away from her. This was the nearest I'd ever been to a Distros ghost.
The distress wafting from her was palpable in the air. My fallen angel side flickered to life, soaking up the chaos surrounding her, but for once I didn't feel like enjoying the thrill. There was nothing exciting about human suffering and emotional pain.
Her head rose, revealing a pale, chubby face with large blue eyes and thin lips. She couldn't be much younger than me, but the wet trails on her cheeks gave her the innocence of a child. But she must've done something to deserve being sent here.
"I haven't seen you before. Are you new?" she asked, wiping a plump hand over her cheeks.
I nodded because it was easier than disclosing my real identity. I figured she might not be so inclined to talk to me if she knew. "I'm Cass."
"Theo." She smiled and patted the floor next to her. I dropped down, tucking my legs under me to stave off the cold wafting from her skin. In spite of the high temperature outside, she was undoubtedly freezing like all the other ghosts on that plane.
As if on cue, a shudder ran down her arms, turning her flesh into goose bumps.
"Where do you live?" Theo asked, wrapping the thin shawl tighter around her slender body. I pointed vaguely behind me to the woods with their dying trees and copper grass. She bobbed her head, knowingly. "It's much nicer there than to the west. At least, you're not being constantly preyed on by the demon wolves."
She was talking about the guardians' helpers who made sure no one escaped Hell through the east gate.
"You were crying because of someone," I said, eager to change the subject.
"How do you know?"
I shrugged, considering how much to reveal. "I often see and hear what's going on in other people's minds." Apart from those related to me by blood, that is.
Theo's eyes grew wide open. "That's a cool gift to have. I bet I wouldn't be dead if I could do that."
She had been murdered in cold blood. Memories of a dark passage, an underground tunnel, flashed before my eyes. I shook my head to get rid of them, and they stopped, but not because I wanted them to. I couldn't yet control what or how much I saw.
Theo smiled bitterly.
"Why are you here?" I whispered.
She averted her gaze to stare at a large fissure in the ground. "I hurt someone very bad."
The pictures didn't come, so she was blocking them out of her memory. That wasn't the way Distros worked, meaning it was only a matter of time before they returned to haunt her.
"I just wish I could warn my sister," Theo continued.
She peered up from the ground, her blue gaze meeting mine.
Her memories started flooding my mind. "Because she's dating his brother," Theo whispered.
Tremors ran up and down my spine as more images flashed before my open eyes. A sense of sadness grabbed hold of me, drawing me deep into a drowning pool of sorrow and regret. This was why angels weren't supposed to get too close to humans. We were too sensitive for our own good, enjoying celebration to excess, and killing ourselves over the melancholy in mortals.
I rose, pushing up on my arms to steady my shaking knees. My seventeen-year-old body felt aged by decades, my soul wounded, just like Theo's. It wasn't right that she be here, and yet it was because she took someone's life.
"I have to go." My hand reached out for her, stroking the almost white blonde hair.
"That's okay." She smiled, her lips trembled. Her eyes glazed over like a veil covering a window, hiding her very soul. She was in pain and lost in her past again. "Goodbye, Sofia. We shall meet again when you're dead, just like me."
Her sister's name was Sofia. The knowledge made me walk away briskly, the cold wind clearing my head a little. Twelve years ago, Mum had become friends with a Distros ghost, right before she left to resume her position as a seraph in heaven. One day she just disappeared because the pain became so strong she couldn't live here with Dad and me any more.
If Dad found out I conversed with one of the souls, I'd be in major trouble. Think locking me up for the next ten years or, even worse, cancel my credit card. My meagre Skylife wage wasn't nearly enough to cover my apartment costs. I knew I must forget Theo because there was nothing I could do for her. Once she did her time, she'd be welcomed into heaven. The knowledge consoled me for all of five minutes during which I took a shower and changed into a clean pair of jeans and a shirt. Then the feeling of something not quite being right returned again.
Chapter 3 – Hearing voices
I arrived at my tiny cubicle with five minutes to spare during which I prepared to do what I always did: lean back and enjoy the atmosphere. Lines were ringing. Heads were nodding, eyes rolling; bored voices assured frustrated customers their orders would dispatch soon, and refunds would be issued within a week upon an item's return. No place offered more constant and diverse drama than the Skylife head quarters, where the customer service department was based. As part fallen angel, I thrived on chaos. It was better than chocolate.
The clock on my computer showed a minute to go. I smiled, soaking up the frayed nerves and the contained voices threatening to rise any minute.
"Cass? Are you all right? You look a bit flushed." It was my supervisor, Rick—a short, bald man in his mid-forties who hated his job but knew how to suck up so no one found out. Unfortunately, I did because I could read his mind.
I smirked. "You try coming from one hundred plus degrees to this. All that heat and steam—"
Rick nodded. "You went to a spa? I wish I could afford it. I've heard sauna's great for tension and stress relief."
If I told him I lived in hell, he'd fire me for being as loony as an apple in a banana tree. "Yeah, that's the ticket," I said. "A little R&R.
My minute's up." I put on my headphones, signalling him our conversation was over. I was ready to answer my first call.
Rick shot me a doubtful look before he disappeared around the corner, counting the hours until he could return home to his lager and TV. The constant reminder in his mind drove me nuts.
"Skylife customer service. Ca
"Listen, I'm enquiring about an order which should've been here a week ago. Where the heck is it?"
The guy sounded pissed off, irritation dripping from his deep voice. Somehow he seemed familiar, and yet I didn't pay attention as thick waves of pleasure washed over me. The promise of imminent drama made my skin tingle. For a second I felt guilty, then I just shrugged it off. It wasn't my fault my dad's DNA coursed through my veins. I smiled and took his order number, my fingers gliding over the computer keyboard effortlessly. "Let me just check for you. Customer satisfaction is our priority." It was all a lie we were supposed to tell; the company only cared about the cash and profit margins. "Ah, here it is, sir. You ordered a few security items." Five cameras, sensors, movement detectors and mace—was he trying to fortify a bank? I cleared my throat and resumed my chirpy chatter. "The parcel was dispatched last Tuesday and should be with you shortly."
A pause on the line, then, "Ain't good enough, Mary Poppins. I need it now, otherwise I want my money back."
"I can assure you it will arrive within the stated delivery estimate. If not, we're more than happy to refund your payment. Now, have you visited our website lately? We have many items discounted up to fifty per cent."
He snorted. "I doubt I'll be ordering anything else soon since you can't seem able to deliver one parcel."
Someone was grumpy today. I smiled. "Of course, sir. I understand your concern. Is there anything else I can help you with?"
"Is the parcel sitting right here in my hands? No. It isn't. You haven't exactly helped. And your chirpy voice has made my headache worse," the guy said.
Boring. Hang up. This guy has LOSER written across his forehead.
Listening to several voices speaking at the same time was hard work. I groaned, wishing I could shoo away the tiny devil, Kinky, dressed in a black robe and sitting on my left shoulder, like an annoying fly. Ever since separating, my parents had adopted the habit of demonstrating their parental love by trying to outdo each other. It all started with Mum gifting me a little personal angel, Pinky, dressed in loose shorts that looked like diapers with a golden halo casting a glow over his blonde locks. Pinky took the place on my right shoulder and was supposed to teach me proper etiquette when Mum wasn't around. Of course Dad had to throw in a tiny devil by the name of Kinky, a personal demon with a beautiful face, dark eyes and hair as black as coal. Needless to say, Kinky was all that social etiquette wasn't about.