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Cinder X, Page 1

Jessica Sorensen


Page 1

  Prologue

  My life has become a series of book pages, dead bodies, death omens, Angels and Reapers. That’s it. I go to school, come home, read, and then fall asleep in the silence of my house while feeling the lingering sensation of death omens that I’ve felt that day. When I shut my eyes, I see the faces of the dead I saw—my curse, my weakness, my torture.

  Today was a rough day because I saw Asher, or so I thought, but when I went up to him, it was just a guy with black hair who looked like him. When I stopped the guy, shouting out Asher’s name, he looked at me like I was a lunatic, especially when he realized I was Ember Rose Edwards, town weirdo that everyone believes is a murderer.

  I ended up leaving school early and going home to read, like I do every day, hoping I can find something that will give me a clue as to what the hell my purpose is. What I face in the future if I become the last Grim Angel standing. How I will know when I am the last one standing. Or, better yet, how I can get rid of the Anamotti, a secret society group of Reapers who banded together to eliminate the Grim Angels one by one, including me.

  I’ve become a huge target with them lately and fighting the insanity by myself, well, it’s getting harder. I feel my mind bending in ways I haven’t thought were possible. I black out sometimes. Hear voices. See death. And the worst part is, I have no one.

  I stop writing as the painful truth throbs in my chest. I stare down at the page I just filled up with pretty much the same words as the day before. “God, I’m becoming so repetitive. ” Deciding I need a break from writing, I close my journal and exchange it for a book; the one Raven gave me about Grim Reapers and Angels of Death during the Halloween dance about a month ago. I recline against the headboard of my bed, propping my knees up and putting the book on my lap. Then I find the spot where I left off last night, where the topic shifts from how a Reaper removes a soul to some sort of hidden realm.

  There is a place between life and death where souls that carry the blood of the Reapers can roam freely. It’s known as the shadow realm, a barrier between life and death. The area allows Reapers to see into the world yet stay undetected, hidden in a shadow which cannot be seen by anyone that doesn’t possess Reaper blood. This allows them to wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims…

  Shadow realm? Is that how Reapers stay so well hidden? How they can appear out of nowhere?

  In the warped and twisted part of my mind, I wonder if I can see this shadow realm since I have Reaper blood inside me. I wonder if I could enter it. I wonder what this means about me. How much evil thrives inside me, how much of my Reaper blood owns me?

  I decide to add the shadow realm information to the list on the wall of stuff I’ve discovered about Grim Angels over the last few weeks, which isn’t a hell of a lot, but it’s better than nothing. I grab a marker from my nightstand and move to the Angel painted on my wall that Raven drew. Below the feet, I’ve started a list of things I’ve discovered about Grim Angels:

  1) Grim Angels can see death.

  2) They experience blackouts, lose track of time, and sometimes hear voices.

  3) They were created because there was a battle over the control of human’s souls between the Angels of Death and Grim Reapers.

  4) Angel and Reaper blood runs through Grim Angel veins to create a balance between the species so neither of them can steal souls.

  5) They’re what binds Angels and Reapers to earth as a punishment for getting in the battle to begin with, which makes them a target of torture even though they’re supposed to remain untouched. Reapers have broken the rules, though, and try to drive Grim Angels into insanity or to give into their evil blood.

  The problem with number five is that the only person who can punish the Reapers and Angels for breaking the rules is their leader, and Asher told me his leader, Michael, won’t do that. Then there’s the fact that, of course, the Reaper’s leader doesn’t give a shit. It’s a weeding out process for them to get to the last Grim Angel because the last one standing has to make a choice; if good or bad will rule over all souls. If the Reapers or Angels will win. There’s more to it than that, though. One of Asher’s last words was that I needed to find out what happened to the last Grim Angel, but I have yet to discover anything about that.

  This’s all I’ve really discovered so far and it’s frustrating.

  I sigh and pen another fact below the list:

  6) Shadow Realm—those with Reaper blood in them can hide in this place between life and death, go around unnoticed, torturing their victims.

  After I’m finished, I put the pen down and go back to reading, hoping for more answers.

  Since Grim Reapers walk around without their victims knowing they exist, they have easy access into their thoughts and the way they make decisions. It allows them to torture in the most maddening ways. Most of the Reapers have spent time in the realm, enjoying their true nature of observing humans before they take their souls.

  I shudder, thinking of how Cameron has spied on me many times and how I always wondered how he did it.

  However, the Grim Reapers are more known for watching Grim Angels behind the veil than anything. Although many believe that Grim Reapers simply want to torture Grim Angels in order to win the battle and win souls, there are some that believe there is a deeper reason for the madness. There have been several reports made over the centuries of Reapers taking the souls of the Grim Angels and collecting them for purposes unknown. There have also been many speculations of these purposes ranging from gaining power to achieving the ultimate immortality.

  It was once believed that Grim Angels’ souls were untouchable because they neither belong to the Angels, the Reapers or the humans, since they’re a balance of all three. And there are many that still believe that to be true, however the facts show that Grim Reapers have found ways around these rules and there have been reports of them not only being able to steal innocent souls even after the battle, but have also stolen Grim Angel souls, which hold more power than any other soul, since they’re connected to all three worlds. But for a very long time the question still remained: how were they doing it?

  After multiple counts of research, I’ve been led to believe that it is possible through the et furabatur de Anima tenebroso. The process of the et furabatur de Anima tenebroso could quite possibly remove the soul of a Grim Angel. Depending on how it is looked at, there is a benefit that could come with removal of a soul with the et furabatur de Anima tenebroso because a Grim Angel’s soul contains a lot of power. In fact it has enough power to free pure souls trapped by Reaper possession.

  As the page ends, my heart knocks in my chest at what I just read. I hurry and turn it, eager to read more while also afraid of where this might be going. Afraid that I might read something that could possibly tempt me to give up my own soul to free the people I care about.

  Anima tenebroso est fere impossibile furari, non tamen est possibile. Sed determinatio temporis et magnis. De contritione et magnis triste minantes Angeli.

  “No… no… no. No. ” I quickly fan through the next couple of pages, but have no such luck finding anything I can read. “It’s all written in Latin. ”

  I comb through the pages for a little bit longer, as though it will somehow miraculously turn the words into English again. But it doesn’t, so I put it aside on my nightstand and go downstairs to get my laptop, hoping I can translate some of the words online.

  I turn on the living room light, letting the pale light fill up the room, and put some brightness into the depression of the emptiness. The silence of the house is depressingly familiar, but it’s how it’s been for weeks. My mom is still gone, getting treatment for her drug addiction and my brother, Ian, has barely been around since I questioned him about the photo I f
ound of Alyssa. He’s either avoiding me or plotting my death; I can never be too sure anymore who plays on what side.

  I collect my laptop from the coffee table and turn for the stairway with it tucked under my arm. As I reach the doorway, I get the strangest feeling that someone is watching me, but I try my best to shake it off, figuring I’m probably extra jumpy because of what I just read… Still, I can’t help noting all the shadows in the room as well as on the walls, moving with the branches outside. None of them seem to move towards me, so I go back upstairs, desperate to figure out how exactly Grim Reapers steal Grim Angels’ souls and what happens to people possessed by them.

  As I’m passing by my mom’s room, I try not to look inside, but I can’t help it when the door’s agape. My blood still stains the carpet from when she stabbed me before I took her life so I wouldn’t die. She still blames me for it. The few times I’ve talked to her, she reminded me that I’m a killer, just like my father. That I killed my grandmother and tried to kill her. That she doesn’t want me. Sometimes I wonder if she’s possessed, too, if I’ve lost her to the Reapers yet, but I haven’t seen her in person for weeks, so it’s hard to be certain.

  Finally, I rip my gaze off the blood on the carpet and go back into my room. I sit down on my bed, open up the laptop, and wait for it to boot up. My room has gotten noticeably colder and, if it’s even possible, the house seems quieter. I glance over my shoulder, noticing that my window is cracked open. I try to remember if I had it open before, yet that is ridiculous since it’s the end of November and freezing. No, someone’s been in my room.

  I set the computer aside and stand up. “Is someone in here?”

  I scan the room for where I left my knife when I notice the nightstand is empty and my heart stops. The book. It’s gone. “Shit,” I curse, rushing over to the window. I open it wider and peer down at the ground below. There’s nothing but shadows below the light of the moon and I can’t see a damn thing in order to tell if someone’s down there, running away, or watching me.

  “Dammit. ” Letting out a frustrated sigh, I lean back in, shut the window and lock it.

  Irritation soars through me. That book was the only thing that had information about Grim Angels and now it’s gone, right when I was getting to something that could perhaps explain how to free pure souls. What’s even worse are the possibilities of who took it. The Anamotti. Cameron. Another Reaper. Raven. One of the walking dead.

  I start to sink down on the bed, aggravated beyond words, when a shadow forms on the wall. At first I think it’s from the moving branches outside my window, but then it takes the shape of a tall figure that moves whimsically. My heart slams in my chest as I jump to my feet, debating whether to run or chase the damn thing down because I’m guessing it took the book.

  It turns around when I reach the middle of my room and starts to circle around me with its eyes glowing black like cinders. I back away but end up walking right through it as it darts behind me. I stumble and fall as a cold chill spirals through my body. My legs give out on me and I land on my bed, instantly covering my face as the shadow dives for me, aiming straight for my mouth. I shut my eyes, feeling it entering me by the cold that seeps into my body and spreads. My pulse slows while my breathing decreases, and for a moment, I think I’m going to die again. But then, everything gets extremely quiet as I wait for it kill me, steal my soul. Instead, the cold starts to evaporate from my body.