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Death Pact

Author's note: I am resubmitting this piece under my own name this time for technical purposes. This was...  Show full author's note »
Author's note: I am resubmitting this piece under my own name this time for technical purposes. This was originally intended to be an emotional piece, by the characters' personalities made things difficult, so I've given up on making it so, and instead just add in emotional scenes whenever I see fit.

Hope you enjoy.  « Hide author's note
Chapters:   1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 10 Next »

Prologue

Being alive meant I was in trouble.
I awoke to only silence and darkness. I could tell my head hurt, yet at the same time, I could feel no pain. There was something important... something urgent, something I had to do no matter what...
I shook my head.
Where was I?
Something had happened in those last few milliseconds, right before I had been hit by that... that... thing. Phantom wounds all over my body began to ache. I winced at the agony, but still didn't feel any pain.
Yes, Mason is a rift walker. No, you should not know what that is.
This was definitely strange.
My eyes adjusted slowly to the darkness. I took a quick glance around. There were other people here too. I took a breath to call out to them, but found that my voice didn't work. Neither did my lungs... wait.
How was I still alive?
I had clearly died the second that... thing ran me through. But then again, this wasn't exactly a place that resembled my neighborhood.
From what I could tell, everyone was gathered in some sort of cavernous chamber filled with darkness. Virtually no light shone into the room; only darkness shrouded the chamber... wait... then how could I even see?
The other people also looked confused. They all wore some kind of draping black garment, like a black robe that was two sizes too big for them. I could recognize no faces, nor did I want to. If the last thing that had happened to me was dying, then I didn't even want to think about what happened next.
"Greetings, deceased ones," a deep voice hissed into the chamber. "As all of you probably know, you are dead. This is a transitory room, where your deaths will be registered and your souls moved accordingly. You will be given freedom of speech now. Please await further instructions."
Almost instantly, a chorus of chattering broke through the silence. I tried to ignore it and process what was happening.
I had died, that was for sure. I clearly remembered that hideous thing killing me, but where I was... that was the mysterious part. This certainly didn't look like heaven or hell, or any variety I had learned about in mythology. Well, if this really was where people went after they died, I couldn't really do anything about it.
"But it's kind of unfair," I said to myself, sitting down on whatever the room's surface was made from. That thing that had killed me clearly hadn't been human. Maybe an alien? I just sighed to myself. This was really beginning to disappoint me.
"Greetings again, deceased ones," the deep voice hissed again after a few minutes. "Your deaths have all been successfully registered. Please head towards the nearest portal to commence soul placement."
Pitch black spheres appeared around the room. All around, people were approaching them uncertainly. Those who touched them vanished. After a while, nobody was left. I stood.
"Guess it's time for me to go too," I said to myself.
"Hey! Wait just a second!" a voice suddenly said.
"Me?" I asked, but there was no reply. I walked around for a moment, trying to locate the voice. Then, I saw them.
A person was arguing with what looked like a figure dressed in black robes, except with a black mask and a sword hanging at his side.
"You expect us to believe in this crap?!" one of the people said. His voice definitely sounded young. Probably a teenager, like me, but with an attitude. I decided to stay and watch a while longer; I was dead after all, waiting couldn't hurt.
"This isn't fair!" the teenager complained. "You can't just pop out of nowhere, telling us that we're dead and expect us to believe it!"
"Jack Carter," the figure said. "Cause of death, car accident: was severely intoxicated at the time of the accident. Evaluation, fair death."
"Don't give me that bull****," the teenager named Jack said. "I didn't die! Get that into that ****ing head of yours!"
The figure seemed to frown. "I would appreciate it if you did not employ vulgar language here."
"**** you," Jack spat at the figure.
Almost too fast to see, the figure drew his sword, ran the teen through, and sheathed it again. Black fire engulfed the teenager, who briefly screamed before disappearing along with the black flames. I swallowed hard.
The figure turned its mask towards me and walked over. I made no attempt to run. I doubted I could escape anyways.
"Why are you still here?" the figure asked.
"Let's see," I said, taking a deep breath to calm my nerves. "You gave that other guy an evaluation of his death, right?"
"That is correct," the figure said.
"Then do the same for me," I said. "If my death is fair, I'll go without resisting."
"Riku Alcastar," the figure said. I winced at the mention of my name.
"Cause of death," the figure continued. A brief pause. "Attack by an unknown entity."
"Unknown entity?" I said. "You mean even you don't know what that thing was?"
"Invalid support," the figure said. "Incomplete evaluation... I will contact my superiors on the matter. I apologize for the wait."
"No, it's fine," I said. "Take as long as you need."
The figure turned away and dissipated into black smoke. I sat down again.
This was getting stranger by the second. I had died, sure, I could accept that, but just what was this place? And what the heck had killed me?
"Riku Alcastar?" another voice said with a British accent.
I stood up. "That's me. Who are you?"
A black cloaked figure similar to the one I had just spoken with stepped out of the darkness, except there was something more... real about this one. Like he was actually a person underneath the mask.
"I am Mason Winston," the figure said. "I am one of the thirteen Hands of Death. I was informed that you were displeased with our administration?"
"No, your administration is fine," I said. "It's just, I'm a little curious. I was killed by something... well, something strange, and it didn't seem like your subordinate could figure out what it was either."
"I see," Mason Winston said. He paused for a moment. "It seems like a sort of dimensional anomaly. Possibly a creature that had escaped from our second sphere."
"Then technically it's your fault that I died," I said.
"I said possibly."
"Ah, sorry."
"Anyways, it's certainly true that your death was not in complete validity," Mason said.
"So... then can I go back?" I asked. "You know, to living?"
"Well, it is still uncertain as to what that creature was," Mason said. "So, I cannot allow back until the matter has been thoroughly investigated."
"Then... I have to wait?" I said.
"Sorry, but there's not much I can do until we've conducted an investigation," Mason said. He paused again. "However, there may be another method."
"Like?"
"If one is unsatisfied with their deaths, they can choose to serve as a wraith for the Hands of Death for a time, to be reincarnated into a newborn."
"Ah, I'd rather go back to my old life," I said.
"But, since your death has not been validated yet, I am willing to allow you to return directly to the world of the living after you complete your duties," Mason continued. "I'll even cut down the time you have to serve."
I thought for a moment. "Alright, sounds reasonable. But first, let me hear what this service is."
"As a wraith working for the Hands of Death, you will be required to bring the souls of those who have died back here," Mason said. "You will be given the proper equipment to search for and transfer the souls, as well as instructions on how to do so. Your training will take time, however, and you will not be sent to the world of the living at the exact time of your death, for sake of convenience."
"And how long do I have to do this for?" I asked.
"The standard time is two years of service," Mason said. "However, I am willing to cut it in half, since your death is a special case."
"A year then..." I said.
"Don't worry about the time," Mason said. "Time is in a stasis in this dimension, so when you complete your duties, you will be able to return to the world of the living at the exact time of your death."
"Oh," I said. "That's pretty convenient. So, just one year of hunting down souls and I'm free, right?"
Mason nodded. "But, if you happen to miss even a single soul, you will be transferred back and your death will become valid again."
I thought for a moment. The deal sounded risky, sure, but I knew it really wasn’t. I was essentially dead already, and dying a second time would probably just be experiencing this all over again. But, would I really want to spend a year of my life collecting souls…
Oh, wait. I was still dead. That made it easy then.
"Alright, sounds simple enough," I said. "When do we start?"
"Follow me," Mason said. The other black portals closed and a new one opened up behind the figure. Mason turned and stepped through. I followed quickly behind.
Chapters:   1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 10 Next »


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This book has 17 comments. Post your own now!

LaChouette This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm
Hm, this is an interesting story. I like the idea of expecting to feel pain, but it's not really there. I think maybe you could limit the use of ellipses; it doesn't seem necessary in some parts, but if you prefer them there, that's perfectly fine. It's your work. Other than that, I liked it and I think i'll read the second chapter too because I'm curious about what happens next. Good Job!
 
None0 replied...
Sept. 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm
Okay, I just have to comment on this point. My chronic use of "..." in dialogue is because of Test of Metal, in the scene where Tezzeret is running away from the magma scorpions with Doctor Jest. He's really out of breath from the running and the author uses "..." after every few words to show just all of the pausing in his speech. I just thought that was an ingenius use of ellipses, so I'm kind of copying him to an extent.
 
guardianofthestars This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm
I found this a very interesting read, enough so to continue reading past the first chapter like I originaly planned.  It is a very neat idea and I like the originality of it.   I feel the emotion was lacking in scenes that should've had some. For example, when Riku first died he was just seemed at little bumbed out .  "Alice", when she turned, also seemed to lack a bit of the emotion that most people would've been going through. *shrugs* But that is just me. ... (more »)
 
None0 replied...
Jul. 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm
Yeah, I'm pretty bad with emotion. I just can't tell what my characters are supposed to be feeling.   Although Riku's reaction was on purpose. He's ultra-paranoid (I make this more apparent in later chapters) and expects to die at any moment of his life, so he's not really surprised when he dies, but he is a little disappointed because he died early.   I really have to work on Alice. All of her scenes just seem lacking whenever I read over them. Sh... (more »)
 
vegangirl0725 said...
Jul. 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm
I read the first part, it's very creative and awesome, but there were a few parts where I got bored with the story.
 
None0 replied...
Jul. 27, 2013 at 7:14 pm
There's generally a lot of setup in my stories, especially in the beginning. I need to introduce world mechanics, entity abilities (wraith, vampire, etc), locations, and character relations (this takes a long time) before I can thoroughly spam actions scenes.
 
Carly_Elizabeth said...
Jul. 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm
I absolutely loved this! It's really original and very interesting. You have a vast vocabulary. And I really enjoyed reading it. If I were to give a little critism I would say that there wasnt really any tone to the story. But other than that it was amazing. Keep writing!
 
None0 replied...
Jul. 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm
I don't really get what the whole tone thing is about. If you're talking about the characters, Riku is a relatively apathetic character (as in, he doesn't really care what happens as long as he comes back to life), and Alice has no idea what's happening half the time. Eron is more or less the same as Riku, since he's used to being near-invincible.   I'm also pretty bad with emotional scenes, so I like to keep my story logical instead of reflecting on feeling... (more »)
 
nelehjr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 10, 2013 at 1:41 pm
Wow, what an interesting concept. I'll try to read more later. (Reminding self: end of p2) Just a little constructive critism, I think you should add a bit more of what the characters look like in greater detail--Like what did Alice look like before she became a vampire? Just a thought. She knows but we the readers do not.
 
None0 replied...
Jul. 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm
I purposefully didn't include what Alice (not her real name) looked like before she became a vampire so I could have a nice semi-reunion scene at the end (won't go into too much detail because of the potential spoiler).   Riku's description is somewhere in the Third Flight chapter. He's always wearing a hooded cloak before then, so Alice never gets a good look at him. Although I feel like I didn't describe him very well (Riku has a very "normal" appearance,... (more »)
 
RoyalCorona said...
May 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm
It is so great so far!! I am hooked and I am only stopping so I can write this! Great job!
 
None0 replied...
May 28, 2013 at 11:37 pm
Spoiler alert: it ends with a cliffhanger (and probably always will until I finish it).
 
Krasota This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm
I finished reading this and it was AMAZING! You have a knack for words. The only criticisms I have are extremely minor and barely worth mentioning as they do not affect your overall novel. In the scene where Alice is committing suicide, she's sniffling and tears are cascading down. However, a girl does not delicately cry unless she's an actress. (Note: not for the faint of heart) In reality, her cries will most likely include a severely runny nose and loud sobs. Also, Riku is n... (more »)
 
None0 replied...
May 2, 2013 at 12:50 am
Long comments are fine. I write them all the time. As you can probably tell, I'm not very good with emotional scenes, which is partly why it takes so long to write this book. Thanks for the crying clarification; I'll try to edit that on my version. I did try to show that Riku is gradually warming up to Alice, but he's not quite there yet, since he's not the type of character to trust someone within a few hours of meeting them. Maybe they'll get along better in Italy... &nbs... (more »)
 
Krasota This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm
Well, I think it was beautiful, regardless of the emotion bit. No problem, and good luck with the remaining chapters! I'll definitely be reading the next ones since you have me hooked. :D Have a nice day!
 
LexusMarie said...
Apr. 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm
Hey there, None0! Your work is very, very impressive! You have so much talent that you so clearly show in your work. At the rate you are going right now you will have books on the shelves that everyone, including myself, would love to and will be purchasing. I love the title, it's very mysetrious and sets up an open perspective for the reader, the book could go so many ways. And it is very appealing to readers. The summary and tags also caught my attention very easily. You have a way with wo... (more »)
 
None0 replied...
May 1, 2013 at 12:20 am
Thank you for the kind words. I'm very glad you liked so much of this book. I found it much harder to write than my other books, due to the massive number of character interactions and emotional scenes (had to be very careful not to screw up on those), and proofreading through them takes forever. Anyways, glad you like this book; I'll be sure to update when I can.
 

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