To celebrate the end of the work week, and just because I feel like it, here's another teaser of my work Aequitas, again picking up where we last left off. Enjoy - preferably with a beer! :)
Themis sighed heavily. She couldn’t even enjoy the sights, sounds and smells around her now. At first they had been a delight; that much she could recall. Slowly, over her time as a reaper, the bloom faded. Now, these castle walls triggered the same panic in Themis as her dreams did. Reapers did not dream.
How long had she been a soldier of Death? That she couldn’t remember. Time meant nothing to them anyway. Still, she wondered. Themis closed her eyes once more, dipping into the knowledge she could summon at will. Ah, yes. The memory invaded her senses—sight, sound, touch, smell and even taste—as if she were reviving the night she entered the Great Hall for the first time.
Themis had a sense of endless, timeless drifting, brought to a halt when she opened her eyes. Blinking furiously, she scrambled to make sense of what was in her field of vision: an ivory-colored ceiling—not dirty white, but more like marble—which seemed to stretch up to the heavens forever, and a man’s smiling face. His bronzed skin stood in contrast to his straight white teeth and his wavy blond hair fell over her, creating a partial curtain of privacy between them in that moment. But his eyes were kind. And somehow understanding, though he couldn’t know her.
“Welcome,” he had said as he helped her to sit up. “I am Hyperion.”
“W-who am I?” Her mind was full of cotton, as was her mouth. She glanced down and stretched her arms out before her. Leather cuffs covered her from wrist to elbow. Her hands flew to her leather breastplate, molded to her like a second skin and displaying an intricately carved image of a blindfolded woman holding a sword and scales. Justice, she thought. Was that her name?
“Where am I? What happened to me?”
The man named Hyperion put a warm, thick hand on her shoulder. Its weight immediately calmed her, and she had a brief flash of the sun upon her face. Same warmth. Choppy images flooded her mind, too jumbled to make any sense. She shook her head as if to clear them.
“Be at ease. You are a Reaper, a soldier of Death. That is all you need to know for now. The rest will come.”
“But… why?” she’d asked him. Hyperion had smiled, as if he’d been anticipating the question.
“Death is neutral. She takes no side. And she has always served as a mediator between her brothers.”
Her head spun. “Brothers? Death… is a woman?”
Hyperion chuckled low and it lit up his already radiant features. “God and the Devil. And yes. Why not? So, have you decided on a name?”
She decided at that moment she liked Hyperion.
He trained her, as he did all the others like her, to fight like a warrior. While Sanctus, another reaper, schooled her in the ways of ferrying souls, Hyperion taught her all manners of combat and prepared her for her other duty: as slayer of all things unnatural. He told her of vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghouls and other creatures who sought to throw the balance of good and evil, light and dark. She trained for endless hours, wielding her scythe, until weapon and warrior became one.
Themis borrowed her namesake, as they all did, from gods, goddesses, titans and giants of Greek myth. The scrolls containing legends of reapers’ origins suggested the first of their kind had chosen names in deference to the oldest, most advanced civilizations of man, and likewise, selected Latin as their preferred, formal tongue—once they had need for speaking.
She had slain so many of those things he’d told her about. Themis had also ferried hordes of souls. Many went up; many went down. Somewhere along the way, things changed for her.
Was it just this—an infinite stream of souls, shepherded from one plane of existence to the next? A never-ending fount of blood pouring from the blade of her scythe? Was any of it making an impact? Should she even ask these questions?
“Oh, what am I doing?” she asked the heavens. Themis had work to do, and these quandaries accomplished none of it. She filed them away, along with the increasingly vivid images from her dreams, into neat little compartments in her mind. Then she slung her weapon into the holster against her back and strode out of the courtyard.