Because it's Monday and I loathe Mondays, I've decided to take the easy (and hopefully more rewarding) route for all of you, and post another excerpt from my urban fantasy, Aequitas. We're picking up where we left off. Enjoy, and come back tomorrow for some wit. I was fresh out today.
To hasten their progress, Themis gathered Michael’s soul into her cloak and whisked them both away, scattering their particles to the In Between where she and the other reapers resided—and where Michael would be judged.
They reformed in the Measurement Room, where she willed the soul to part from her body. Michael staggered and fell before the elevated dais in the center of the cavernous room. Themis ignored the carved images above her head, though they always comforted her, and focused on the other reaper in front of them. Sanctus stood on the dais, arms extended, as he always did. Whatever the outcome, souls were always welcomed to the In Between, the plane of existence between Heaven and Hell. This was neutral territory.
Themis bowed quickly with her fist over her heart and closed the hulking, ancient wooden doors just as the screams reached her ears. She’d never witnessed what happened when a soul was claimed for the light or the dark, but the oratory differences were stark.
Wandering down the halls of their stone fortress, she passed a series of identical rough-hewn wooden doors leading to reapers’ quarters and other appointed rooms. Her long, pale fingers skimmed along the corridor’s rough, hand-chiseled stone, before walking through an arch leading to a grassy courtyard. No matter what seasons befell the people on Earth, here the grass remained green. She and the other reapers used this place as a jumping off point before they departed, unless they were leaving on horseback. Instead of heading to the stables to visit her stallion, Themis stood in the center of the green expanse with her face upturned.
It all looked so… normal. The sky over her head was robin’s egg blue and free of clouds. Their fortress and homestead, the In Between, belonged in the Scottish Highlands, complete with moss-covered hand-hewn stones and turrets. The grass smelled fresh and clean and gave under Themis’ leather-clad feet. Even she and the other reapers wore skin, in addition to their leather armor, projecting an image of humanity rather than their true form. Who would prefer gaping into a skeletal face with floating eyeballs staring back?
Mirage. Illusion. Fabrication. All of it.