Inked Chapter 23

Chapter 23

Staring blankly at my grandfather I realized that everything everyone had told me was completely wrong. He was standing not that far from me, a smile on his face and his eyes twinkling with a glimmer I couldn’t describe. With each step he took toward me I could feel power exuding off of him. As he got closer to me, he also began to speak, his voice rumbling across my skin. My soul felt like it was shaking within me.

“I’m sure your grandmother told you many things about me. However, I wish for you to see who I am and not go by what other have said.” His smile was blinding, almost like the sun. “You grandmother was always afraid to let me meet your father.” A sad smile crept onto his face, and he glanced away, as if shielding his emotions before he turned back to me. “She was afraid because from the moment a child is born, it becomes a close rival to its parent. They love each other the most but they are also fearful of each other. She ingrained this into your father, and I wish it wasn’t so.”

I breathed in deeply, and asked, “Why did you never meet him even after all of these years?”

He seemed to deflate, his presence even becoming smaller. “There are some things that should be left alone until the right time appears. And that right time begins with you.”

“Me? Why?”

“You are my grandson, and that alone will bridge the gap between your father and I. I cannot help what has been done in the past, but I can try to mend things within our futures. That first step will be by helping my blood within you calm that which you received from your mother.”

I stared at him wide eyed. He even knew about the blood bomb within me? With only one glance?

“I was told it may take years.” I whispered. By this time my grandfather finally reached me. He was still smiling and with him before my, he seemed like a giant mountain and could engulf me, but I felt no killing intent from him, only a wave of utmost warmth.

“Your problem lies not within your mother’s witch blood as you may believe. That may have been the precursor, but the problem lies in the way you have used the powers you inherited from myself. Have you visited any of the four rivers within Tartarus?” Confused by this question, I shook my head. “That may be a good thing, there are certain properties within all of the rivers that could have made your powers become even more unstable. This would have exploded all of your powers from the inside out.” I shuddered thinking of this, that was seriously internal combustion and it terrified me.

“How to I fix the problem from my powers?” I asked with the resolution to get this fixed. If it could be fixed easily, that would mean I would have as many years as I wanted with Zane. I would, of course, never tell him he was the reason I sacrificed everything to meet my grandfather. Somewhere deep within my soul I had had a feeling that my grandfather would be able to help me solve all of my problems. The idea of a god had that effect I guess.

My grandfather looked me over with his fathomless eyes and said in a commanding tone, “Release.”

Without even my say so, as if his voice had the power to control me, every single ink slithered it’s way to the top of my skin and my wings burst from my back. They were still slightly more black than blue, but the blue was becoming more prominent. My grandfather stared at every single tattoo that etched into my skin, casting a cursory gaze at the wings that had unfurled.

“Pure blue,” he muttered under his breath. HIs eyes narrowed slightly and then he reached out a hand, tapping the tree tattoo on my hand. I felt the tattoo writhe and I was shocked to find pain lancing through my veins.

“What the?” I gasped, and tried to hold back the pure agony that moved to the depths of my bones.

“When you heal anyone, did these tattoos appear?” His question seemed to echo within the world. A command and question laced into one. I nodded through the pain. “Do you know why?” I shook my head. My grandfather stared at my hands for a while longer and then he tapped my skin again just as the pain was beginning to fade. This made the pain flare again, almost bringing me down to my knees.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked. It seemed that maybe I was wrong about my grandfather. Maybe he should be the one in control of Tartarus if he can inflict pain on someone of his own blood this easily. MAybe his entire facade was a lie.

“You’ve unknowingly trapped their souls. ANyone you healed has a part of their soul trapped within your body. This is the reason you cannot control your powers completely. They need to be released or they will begin to erode your own soul.”

“Their souls will eat me?”

“Essentially yes. In order to release them, you must use your own soul to let them go. They have begun to attach themselves to your bones, and once that happens, you will die.”

“How do I find them with my soul?”

Suddenly, my grandfather’s hand was before me, the power contained into the one finger that pointed at me could obliterate the world. It made me realize how insignificant I really was. There was nothing I could so before that finger touched my forehead.

~~~

Everywhere around me was a different world, memories that were not my own flashed before my eyes. Children, trees, puppies, kittens. These beings felt as if I could call them to me and control them. They all seemed familiar. It was then that I realized that these must be the portions of the souls that I had unwittingly trapped within myself.

Towering into the sky was a gigantic cherry tree, it was the one I had saved the second time I met Zane. That cherry tree was like a symbol to me. A symbol of life and rebirth. It made me miss Zane.

My grandfather had said something about using my own soul to untrap them. I looked down and found that my body was completely see through, I had no substance and was just a mirage within this world. Could I use these ghost like hands to push the souls out of this world? I glanced around and noticed that where every portion of the souls were situated, there were black chains wrapping around each and every one of them, imprisoning them. Maybe if I undid those, the souls would be free.

I floated closer to the chains, and wrapped my hands around one of the giant black chain links. From that touch, I felt life and death wrapped into one. Even as my hands touched that freezing metal, all the souls around me in this space seemed to scream noiselessly. The chain in my hands shook and transformed into a giant mouth. That mouth hissed at me before opening wide and bearing down on me as if I was it’s next meal. Black chains began to wrap around my feet, preventing me from even trying to escape.

As that mouth got closer I could feel myself becoming afraid of everything around me. Even as it’s sharp teeth got closer to my chest, I was suddenly wrapped in a blue like glow. I realised that this was the heart scale that Zane had given me. Its warmth flooded my body and those teeth seem to hit a wall only mere inches from my skin.

Just from that contact, it felt as if Zane was near me. The blue flashed and sank around me until it became a pinpoint ball glistening and sparkling within the space. It felt as if that little speck was everything within this world. From the other side of the tree came another speck of light. It was the same color as the heart scale, silverish blue. I knew at that moment that that was the part of the soul I had taken from Zane when I had healed him long ago. Even though I knew it was real, everything around me felt fake. As if I was trapped in an illusion unable to escape.

As the second part of Zane’s soul came closer to me, those two silverish blue lights merged into one. And somehow they began to expand until standing before me was a replica of Zane. He was encased in blue, see through, there but not there. I knew that this was his soul, somehow we were connected and he was inside of my soul.

That mouth seem to realize that it had not gotten what it wanted, so it began to attack again. As it opened its mouth wide enough to try to eat the newly materialized Zane. A scoff echoed within this small world as he reached out his translucent hand and gripped that mouth, exerting a little bit of pressure. As he did this that mouth cried out and eventually became chains once again.

“What happened?” Came Zane’s voice from that ethereal form. Without waiting, I explained everything my grandfather had told me about my ink and the souls. I did not leave out anything.

The expression on Zane’s form was never changing, showing not a trace of surprise. But his voice had a hint of anger in it when he responded, “These souls are siphoning your life?”

“Pretty much.” I muttered blatantly.

Zane’s form showed the first emotion I had seen from it when it frowned before reaching out with a hand, clenching it shut tight and pulling it back toward himself. The space around us seemed to shrink and I could hear muffled screams from all around. It was only a matter of seconds before I could see every form of every soul I had ever healed gather around me. No matter how much they tried to escape, it was as if the area around us had become a cage, blocking them in.

One of the soul forms gently touched my skin and I hissed in pain as the area around my left shoulder erupted in fire. The tattoo that was wrapped around that area seemed to wiggle out from my skin and merge into that foul that was floating in the area before me. The soul was a small puppy. I recognized it as one of the first beings I had ever been able to heal. As the tattoo merged into the soul, the soul seemed to smile, and give off a light that was so bright I almost had to close my eyes. When the light disappeared, the soul was also gone, along with my tattoo. Astonished, I looked over at Zane.

He had a frown on his face, still, his arm clenched tight to his body. “Do that with every single one of them, It seems that released the soul from your body. I’ll keep them contained in this area.”

Nodding, I reached out towards the next closest soul. It just so happened to be my mother. I remembered that time I had healed her. She was sick in bed with really bad pneumonia and the doctors said she would not have much longer. So, while she had slept, I had healed her. However, when she found out, she got furious and started to call me the devil’s child. It was not exactly a happy memory.

A tattoo slithered out from the top most part of my chest and touched the part of my mother’s soul. I was astonished even more when the bright light did not appear this time, but instead the soul looked over at me with a kind smile, reaching out it’s hands to touch our foreheads together.

“My baby boy.” The soul whispered in the soft voice of my mother. “Forgive me.” The form kissed my forehead before it gave a sad smile and flickered out of existence. Tears unwittingly filled my eyes, but I gritted my teeth and began to hunt down every soul within the captured space.

Inked Chapter 22
Inked Chapter 24

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