The Underworld (Chapter Five, page 2 of 8)

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Back when the palace was hers.

She paused halfway up, remorse and longing settling deep inside her, along with a sense of loss. She'd given up everything to become human and then fucked it all up. If she hadn't left her position as Death, the underworld and all its souls would be safe. Gabriel wouldn't be locked out.

They wouldn't be a part, and she wouldn't be sad, because she'd lost him.

Anger flared within her, and she shook her head to clear the emotions. She wasn't certain how to handle the human feelings. Lately, they'd imprisoned her as much as the death dealers, made her incapable of acting, left her spinning out of control.

As a deity, she had never experienced these sensations. As a human who recalled what it was like to be an all-powerful deity, she hated being … vulnerable. Weak. Emotional.

Past-Death continued up the stairs to the second subfloor. It was lined with a few more rooms, some used by her predecessors as torture rooms, as well as guard quarters and supply rooms.

Voices drifted from a doorway on her right, and she stopped at the edge of the door, fear fluttering through her at the thought of discovery.

It's just a dream, she reminded herself.

With a deep breath, past-Death entered the room boldly.

The three death dealers acting as guards didn't look up at her entrance, and she relaxed. They certainly appeared to be very real, but they weren't able to see her.

Are all human dreams like this? Past-Death studied the three. She knew them. They were junior death dealers, from the same crop as Harmony, who hadn't been around for more than five hundred years. She had hand selected every grim reaper she ever conscripted.

How had she missed the warning signs that these particular trained assassins wanted to usurp Death? She'd read their souls when she brought them in. They at least started out as loyal. Was it simply what Gabriel had tried to tell her on many occasions? That compelling the elite killers to work for her was wronging them? The duty was an honorable one, to claim and protect the souls of humans, Immortals and other deities alike. Who would not want to perform such a sacred duty?

Not that it matters now. She looked away from the three. Whatever mistakes she made in the past, they were done with. Not only that, but Gabriel was smart enough to avoid the same issues she'd somehow created over the years.

Past-Death's gaze fell to the ancient keys to dungeon cells that hung on one wall. They were in two rows, arranged in the same order that the cells were in, with each key having a duplicate. Doubting anything she did in a dream was going to carryover when she awoke, she plucked up two keys: one to her cell and the other to one of the two cells at the end of the hallway.

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