WIP – Soulstealer

I am working on a new series, but it will not be out until later this year when the Poisoner of Charm City series is completed.

Here is the blurb:

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

I never thought I’d want to leave the Sect. I had everything there: a promising career as Lord Alaric’s protege, unlimited power as the Deadly Sin of Envy, and the perfect job as a neuropsychiatrist at Sistine Memorial Hospital when I lived in the human world in Charm City.

However, to keep everything balanced, I’ve kept a secret from my master. I’ve hidden my husband Viktor Kelvin away from Master Alaric so he doesn’t kill him for defecting from the Sect.

When my master assigns me a mission to find a defector from the Holy Ten, he offers me a choice: take on the mission he’s assigned me and kill Viktor, or risk becoming a traitor and defecting from the Sect myself.

With my only help coming from Kelvin’s friends, my wonderful boss, and a handful of girlfriends, I have to make my choice. Either I can continue to be the villain everyone despises or I can become a hero without a clue about how to live like one.

My problem? I don’t know which side to choose.

Chapter One is below. This has not been edited, so keep that in mind while reading.

Chapter One

Some days, I hated my job especially when pissants thought they could seal my magic. My job as an Arbitrator of the Sect was a constant battle—one I often find myself struggling with nowadays.

As I cautiously crossed the threshold into the rich lord’s chamber, my senses were immediately assaulted by a world of extravagance and excess. The walls were adorned with intricately woven tapestries depicting scenes of ancient battles and mythical beasts, their threads shimmering with gold and silver. Underfoot, plush carpets swallowed my footsteps, masking the sound of my boots as they padded against the polished marble floor.

The air was heavy with the scent of exotic spices mingled with the sweet fragrance of burning incense, creating a heady atmosphere that almost made me dizzy. Moonlight streamed through stained glass windows, casting rainbow-hued patterns on the opulent mahogany furniture that filled the room. Velvet-covered chairs beckoned invitingly, while side tables displayed crystal decanters and delicate porcelain tea sets.

But it was the lord’s desk that caught my eye – a masterpiece of craftsmanship cluttered with quills, inkwells, and parchment scrolls bearing his elegant script. In one corner of the room stood a massive four-poster bed draped in silk curtains that billowed gently in the breeze from an open window. The bed looked so inviting, piled high with cushions and pillows of every shape and size.

Yet despite all this wealth and luxury, a sense of unease crept over me.

As if sensing my discomfort, the very walls seemed to whisper their secrets long buried and dark deeds done in shadows. Suddenly, I realized that there was more to this room than met the eye – and that I had stumbled into a world far more complex and dangerous than I could have ever imagined. With a chill running down my spine, I knew I would have to tread carefully in this opulent but treacherous realm.

Of course, this was something only I could achieve. Master Alaric demanded a lot out of his subjects, but for a direct disciple such as myself, he only wanted perfection. Failure meant punishment. Failure meant defection from the Sect.

Failure also meant I lost precious memories—memories I haven’t been able to retrieve despite the best healers in the world tampering within my mind.

Not a lot of people could handle my job because of Master Alaric’s demands, but I didn’t have to worry about him complaining about my performance whenever I hunted traitors down or took away someone’s magic from them at his command. Still, it had to be done, even when I faced arrogant pissants who thought they could outsmart me and steal my magic.

I had been prepared for this encounter, or so I thought. When I snuck into the mage’s room and attempted to use my powers, a powerful cube hung in the middle of the room.

Well, well. Perhaps I could steal this artifact and put it in my secret room where I hid all the treasures Master Alaric gave me.

The moment I went to touch the bluish light glowing on the metal, runed cube, a beam hit me in the chest and I was sent backward. Luckily, I kept my footing, but I couldn’t feel the whispers of the dead through the walls anymore.

Drat. This thing just sucked away my necromantic powers.

I was left standing there, stunned and fumbling for a solution.

My companion Lucretia’s voice echoed in my head. You’re thinking like a human. Use your other abilities, silly. It’s been a while since you used them for the right cause. I think living in the human realm has made you soft, little Soulstealer.

Right. I had other abilities at my disposal—ones that couldn’t be sealed away.

As a Deadly Sin, I was too powerful and unpredictable to be categorized or contained. My demonic powers were still within reach, and in desperate need of them, I channeled the five shades of Envy to break through the mage’s cube.

The cacophony of their voices filled my head as I chose Vengeance, my favorite shade. For a moment, I thought I would choose Anger since he excelled in attacking my enemies. Nonetheless, I let her shade envelop me in dark green energy and shattered the damn cube floating in front of me.

My necromantic powers returned, and with them, a sense of satisfaction.

The mage cowered before me, begging for mercy on his knees. He promised to reveal everything if I spared him. Once, I would have granted him mercy, but it was too late for mercy now. My master had ordered his punishment – stripping him of his magic as divine retribution for betraying him.

Despite being tasked with carrying out these orders, it always made me sick. The power coursing through my body was too much for one person to handle without consequences. However, it was necessary to complete my duty as a judge and executioner. As much as I hated it, there were moments when I relished the power and control it gave me over those who dared cross my path.

After all, it wasn’t every day that one got to play God and deliver punishment according to their own desires.

“Please, mistress.” The pitiful mage put his hands together in prayer. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know as long as you don’t hurt me. I promise I’ll support Lord Alaric in his endeavors.”

I brushed my hands along my dark blue Victorian dress and took a deep breath. Sometimes, I loved my job. I got to go after criminals, and I got to dole out divine punishment whenever it suited my purposes. Other times—like today—I had to do unpleasant things like judge people and strip them of their powers thanks to my master’s orders. This man betrayed him and deserved the ultimate punishment.

God had told us he was no longer worthy of his magic.

Unfortunately, my master had bestowed that task onto me.

I hated doing it. It always made me sick afterward because I had too much power in my body unless I sealed it away inside a crystal.

Fortunately, I had a crystal with me today.

Maybe I wouldn’t get sick afterward.

My telepathic voice lost all emotion as I carried out the normal sentencing I usually did whenever I did these visits. Lord Graham, you have betrayed Lord Alaric for the last time. For your crimes, your punishment is death to be carried out immediately. How do you plead?

The lord seemed taken aback. “Innocent, of course.”

You stole scrolls that rightfully belonged to Lord Alaric. He wants them back.

His face fell. “Drat.”

For your crimes, you shall be stripped of your power. My hand glowed with purple energy. You may run if you wish, but you shall not escape divine punishment. God has decreed it so.

Of course, the old coot ran. They always did whenever I got to the last part of my sentencing.

I hit him with my magic, then concentrated on finding his soul.

Souls weren’t hard to find as a necromancer, but I had the added joy of being a Deadly Sin of Envy. So, I had two powers to juggle, and they always wanted to clash with each other. My necromantic powers came to the forefront as they looked for his soul, found it, and homed in on it.

Then I pulled it out of his body.

His body fell to the ground like a sack of bricks. He didn’t even scream when I ripped out his soul.

There was something about pulling souls out of someone’s body that made my body sing and pure euphoria overloaded my body every time I used my powers. The fact that I could summon them later without getting my hands dirty was a bonus. Nonetheless, once I hit my target, they usually never escaped my grasp.

Usually, I didn’t have any reservations about this, but this time, my heart panged.

Did I do the right thing by carrying out divine punishment today?

These divine punishments—what did they mean? Did they do anyone any good? What did stealing their powers do? Who did they serve, exactly? Just Master? I know he “gave” them to people by transplanting them into others, but really, was it my place to judge them?

I almost lost sight of my task, but Lucretia sensed my hesitation and came up behind me. “What’s wrong? We’re supposed to be finishing the mission, remember?”

The mission. Right. Finish the mission and then I could question everything else later.

I put his soul inside the crystal around my neck, sealed it, and then lifted his lifeless body with magic and put him in his bed. That should work until they find him in the morning. Then I dispelled Vengeance, and she returned inside my body. Now, let’s look for those scrolls Master Alaric wanted.

“Whatever is the matter?” Lucretia came up beside me. “You never hesitate in battle.”

I pondered telling her my thoughts, but I decided against it for now. I had a momentary lapse of judgment calculating where his magic was, that’s all. Now, let’s find those scrolls. If you see anything else valuable, let me know. I’m looking for magical books and could always use more to add to my collection.

I reached for his desk and rummaged through the scrolls littering it. He had a lot of papers there, but none of them were the scrolls Lord Alaric wanted to be retrieved.

Where would I be if I were a pair of important scrolls? Was there a safe in his room somewhere? Perhaps hidden behind a picture of behind a piece of furniture or in his closet?

“Check for a safe or something,” Lucretia said. “I don’t think he would just leave the scrolls out, dearie.”

I smiled. You and I are on the same page.

“Come on.” Lucretia let her curly red hair flow freely while she bent down in the closet and rummaged through his things. “Tell me what you were thinking when you hesitated. It’s not often this happens to you. I won’t tell anyone, you know. It’s a teacher/student sort of moment. It’s not like I’ll tell Alaric anything.”

Again, I hesitated. Master—Alaric—would find out somehow. Then I’d pay the price for my thoughts.

“You’ve been different these last few months.” Lucretia faced me with an amused expression on her face. “Ever since we stopped Sanderson from destroying your precious Charm City, it’s like you want to save the people around you rather than work for Alaric. What do you want to do, dear?”

I groaned. I should have known Lucretia would have sensed my reservations sooner or later. She always did. She even knew when I met my husband and I hadn’t even told her that I didn’t kill him on our first mission together years ago.

A few months ago, we met up with the newest Deadly Sin—Wrath. She had been split into two parts: male and female. I must admit, the hosts they chose weren’t terrible—quite formidable, actually—but they were stubborn in their own right. However, we had to team up with them to save their city from Sanderson—one of our Sins who was using us for an evil experiment to take over the world.

After we stopped our former boss, we were free to live our lives. Of course, I still worked for Master and visited my husband Viktor on the side, pretending I couldn’t find him whenever Master asked me to bring him back to the Sect. I knew I couldn’t hide his location forever, but I’d protect him for as long as I could. The day would come when Master would ask me to kill Viktor and our daughter. When that day came, I would have to make a choice: either focus on my family or focus on Master.

I didn’t want to think about it, but my stomach churned as if forcing me to come to this realization. The time to make such a choice wasn’t here yet, but it would come soon enough.

“I can guess what you’re thinking.” Lucretia came out of the closet and approached me. “You’ve had thoughts about having a normal life for a while now. I can’t blame you, considering you’ve had a taste of it being on your own without me. But remember the price for those things. You must consider everything before you decide what to do with your life.”

I looked inside Lord Graham’s nightstand drawers and was rewarded with a black box with a key inside of it. I know. I turned the key. It clicked and popped open, revealing the scrolls. I’ve been thinking about how to proceed for a while, actually.

“I would concentrate on the mission first.” Lucretia put a hand on my shoulder, then moved some loose brunette strands of hair out of my face. “We can talk later about your choices. However, it’s imperative that we get these scrolls back. They shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.”

What if they already went into the wrong hands, though?

I closed the box and sealed it up, then made a rift and put the box inside the portal. Have you ever wondered if we were doing the right thing by taking people’s powers? What would happen if we left them with other people? People who actually deserved them instead of transferring them through Master’s orders?

Lucretia furrowed her eyebrows, then put her hands on her hips. “We wouldn’t be doing God’s work.”

What if God wants us to do something else? I finally couldn’t hold the thought in any longer. I know my Mistresses have another path in store for me.

Lucretia sighed. “Here we go with your Dark Mistresses again. They’re not real, dear.”

Oh, but they were. They were very real, and they existed in my dreams.

I took another sweep of the room, careful to make sure I didn’t overlook anything I’d consider a treasure as I made sure not to say anything to Lucretia. If I fought back against her, we’d be here all night. Then someone would come and arrest us for our crime.

We needed to leave.

I looked in one more drawer and noticed a black leather-bound book with runes on it. It glowed when I touched the cover with my fingertips.

Yes. This would be my reward for a job well done.

Master didn’t need to know about my stolen treasure.

I put the book inside the rift as well, then sealed it up. I’d look at it later when I had more time after work to actually read the book.

“Listen.” Lucretia backed up, then brushed her red hair off her shoulder. “You don’t have to worry about those choices now. Just enjoy life the way it is. You’re serving Alaric the best you can apart from turning your husband in for treason and you’re starting to enjoy what it’s like to be a human as well. No one can teach you that life experience at the Sect. I suppose your husband is good for something even if he did betray Alaric.”

Viktor was never meant for this kind of work. He had a heart. He wore it on his sleeve whenever he was with me and couldn’t hide his feelings no matter how hard he tried. So, when he defected, it was no surprise. The why behind his defection surprised me, however. He was now working for Wrath full time in her cushiony assassin organization as her personal bodyguard or her hacker-for-hire as she called him.

Whatever. As long as it made him happy and he didn’t flirt with her, I didn’t care. Okay, that’s a lie. I still had to curb my jealousy sometimes because he made her do things he wouldn’t even think of performing for me like actually doing his job instead of making everyone else do things for him.

Viktor is good for me. I meant what I said as I collected myself and faced my mentor. We’ve been trying to reconnect, but sometimes, he still pulls away from me and works on his gadgets for days at a time downstairs. I don’t understand why.

Lucretia laughed. “Honey, you’re a villain in his eyes. He’s the good guy who can do no wrong.”

But what if I don’t want to be the villain anymore?

She patted my shoulder. “You’re not a villain, honestly. God wouldn’t have bestowed such responsibilities on you if you were a villain.”

What does this all mean? I looked at my hands, trying to find any hidden meaning I could before someone had to explain it to me. I just—I need some meaning to my life, that’s all. It’s not like—

“Let’s just get this to Alaric.” She ushered me toward the door. “You can reflect on all this later with me when we’re not on a timeline and we’re in private. I don’t want any of Alaric’s goons overhearing and wiping our memories because we’re thinking of defection. That’s the last thing we need when you’ve come so far.”

I nodded. In the Sect, you either served Master Alaric or you were the enemy.

I didn’t want to be seen as the enemy.

By the time we left Lord Graham’s place, we had secured some more loot and we had cleared his place of anything else he had stolen from Master Alaric. He had stolen more books from him. While I couldn’t claim them for myself, I could read them eventually if I borrowed them from Master Alaric.

I planned on borrowing them soon.

Lucretia’s conversation stayed with me as we went through her portal to get to Quantico. Her portals were different than mine besides the color of her aura. She always got to her destination whereas I sometimes missed the mark. However, she came up on the Holy Church where Master resided. A purple and black portal surrounded it, hiding it from view from human eyes. One thing about this dimension that always fascinated me was how time flowed differently in the portal. We could be here for days, but it would only equal to a day in the human world.

Time mattered when we indoctrinated our victims. You could dole out a lot of torture to someone within a weekend. I should know. I used to participate in helping Master and the disciples with such activities before I lived in the human world.

Overall, Master Alaric had a grand church. Every handcrafted brick was put beautifully in place, the other materials like the pillars welcomed people because of their majestic nature, and there was a clock in the center of the doorway with magic controlling the time. There were glass mural paintings in the windows—mostly with Biblical pictures of Jesus and his followers—and there were different wings for each part of the church. Overall, there were about five different parts of the Sect here.

I never interacted with them because I strictly reported to Master, but I oversaw them and made sure no one defected. If they did, I knew what to do.

It was never a pleasant outcome.

“So, did you hear about the bounty Alaric wants to assign to you?” Lucretia closed the portal and crossed her arms over her chest. “It’s a defector. I hear it’s a pretty hefty bounty, too. Almost four hundred thousand dollars for anyone who catches him.”

I stopped. It was rare Master Alaric offered money to catch someone.

What did this guy do to make him angry?

No. I headed towards the church. I wonder if that’s why Master texted my phone while we were heading back. He knew I was out on a mission for him.

“Well, whatever it is, it’s big. He’s already got the Holy Ten on it, but they couldn’t catch this guy. He’s eluded them. Took out most of them, too. It’s like how they can’t catch those Deadly Sins we’re protecting but they can actually protect themselves.”

I groaned. The Holy Ten were a pain. They were so stuck on themselves because they had powerful holy magic that they looked down on me and anyone else who was a Deadly Sin. They wanted to kill Viktor on sight because of his Sin and I had to stop them several times.

As far as I was concerned, they could take their holy magic and shove it. My Dark Mistresses blessed me with dark magic, and I used it well. Viktor, too.

I went up the concrete steps to the church and took in the hydrangea bushes surrounding the steps. The Holy Ten need to stay out of affairs they can’t handle. I went to the door and put my hand on it, breaking the magical seal. Honestly. I can handle something like this.

“I know.” Lucretia snickered while following me. “They’ve been trying to catch him for a few weeks now. I told Alaric you should’ve handled this from the beginning. It’s in your wheelhouse, anyway. You work in a hospital and that’s where he’s hiding.”

Well, well. This just got interesting.

I walked into the church and Lucretia walked beside me. We passed by a group of nuns who said hello and then scurried off to their destination. The marble-tiled floors made my heels clop as I walked on the floor, so I floated to stop the noise.

Lucretia frowned. “Walk on the floor like a normal person, please.”

I pointed to my heels. Then I’d have to take off my shoes.

“It’s okay. Honest.”

I sighed. Fine. I returned to the floor. The noise is just annoying, that’s all.

“It lets people know you’ve arrived.” She touched my shoulder. “I swear. Do you still float in the human world?”

Sometimes, I did, but I didn’t answer the question.

Lucretia’s frown deepened. “Try not to float in the human world anymore, please. Now, come along.”

She moved in front of me and walked down the hallway.

I followed her. I enjoyed the murals and the ornate decorations along the walls. The church had some money put into it based on the golds and whites they chose for decorations or paint. Still, they could have invested their money in better protection at the front doors. I still thought they had lax security other than a magic seal.

Still, Master Alaric chose our security. I couldn’t fault him.

We arrived at an altar room and saw some people praying. A black jewel hung from the top of the altar and its aura encompassed the people in the room, helping them see the truth behind God’s work. However, I knew better now. It was a damn good brainwashing technique.

I shivered. Did I undergo such a technique?

I couldn’t remember. Goddammit, I couldn’t remember.

We went into another room—this one a conference room. Master sat at one of the chairs with a few other people in the room. He brushed his long black hair off his shoulder, then glanced at me when I popped in the doorway. Then he returned to the brown-haired knight who wore gold armor and wore a sword in his scabbard.

“You’re free to go, Roderick.” Master Alaric waved his hand at him. “We’ll discuss what the Templar Knights will do later. Right now, I need to meet with Eileen and Lucretia about the wayward bounty the Holy Ten couldn’t catch.”

Roderick nodded to me with a glare in his brown eyes. “Soulstealer.”

I lowered my black-rimmed glasses at him. “Lord Roderick.”

He left the room with his knights before we could say anything else to each other.

Master. I stepped into the room and bowed before Master. We found the items Lord Graham stole. I also have his powers sealed inside the crystal around my neck.

Master Alaric waved us over to him. “Excellent. Let me have the crystal and the books.”

I rose, opened the portal where I put the items Master wanted, and then handed him the few thick books we recovered from Lord Graham’s place. I also handed Master the box I found in the nightstand.We weren’t sure which books we wanted, so we took everything he had.

He opened the box and pulled out the scrolls. “These are the ones. Thank you very much. They’ll prove quite useful.”

I came closer to him. What are they?

“Some transmogrification spells.” He opened a rift and put the items in there. “I have another task for you. I know it’s right after your other assignment, but I have no choice. It’s urgent.”

Lucretia took a seat in one of the conference chairs. “I told her a little about it. The Holy Ten sure screwed the pooch on this one, didn’t they?”

Master Alaric held his forehead with two fingers, then looked up at her, his green eyes dark. “Don’t remind me. It’s not often they fail this miserably.”

I crossed my arms over my chest. So, what kind of mission is it?

He calmed down and turned to me, then wiped off the chest of his black and red holy robe. “You’ll be going after Roy Jacobson. He was the cleric of the Holy Ten, but then defected and shared secrets about our organization with the government. Word through the grapevine has it he’s been hiding. Right now, he’s either in a medical facility because he’s been injured or he’s hiding and practicing being a medic since it was his previous profession with the military. Either way, I need him brought back to us.”

I narrowed my eyes. That’s it? No stealing his powers?

“Oh, you can steal his powers if you want.” Master Alaric smiled at the thought. “He’s powerful. But I don’t expect you to since he’s so strong. I expect you to bring him in to me for questioning so we can reprogram him.”

I shuddered. Reprogramming never sat right with me after I remembered what that phrase actually meant within the last few months.

“Oh, don’t be so bleak, Eileen.” He caressed my face and I had to do everything in my power not to shudder at his touch. “All you’re doing is a retrieval mission. Surely that’s easy for you isn’t it? But then again, you’ve let your husband slip away from me. I expected you to bring him to me by now.”

I held in my sigh. I knew he would bring this up sooner or later.

“You know where Viktor is.” His hand continued stroking my face. “I know you do. Why do you protect him? He’s just a useless fool who hides with Wrath, serving her in whatever capacity she wants. I know you hate other women around him. So why let Viktor stay with her?”

I closed my eyes. I would not let him manipulate me into telling him where Viktor was no matter how hard he tried.

“Well, it doesn’t matter.” He pulled his hand away. “I’m tired of waiting for you to bring him in, so here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to go after Roy. You’ll go after Viktor at the same time. I want them both. With Viktor, I don’t care if he’s alive or dead, but I want him brought to me. I need to take his Sin away from him and put him in someone else. Surely you know what that means.”

My eyes shot open. The moment of truth finally arrived.

Now, I had to make my choice.

Leave a Comment