Chapter 1

Blade

My name is Blade. It's not my real name, but my real name doesn't apply to me anymore. So Blade was what I replaced it with. Because that's what this life has made me, a blade. Cold, hard, and friendless.

Everybody thinks that they got it so rough, that nobody understands them. But for me, all that's true. Nobody understands me because I have no one. Mom died from cancer when I was little. Dad drank himself to death after Mom died. Big sister killed in a robbery where she worked. Bang, bang, bang. Family was dead before I reached double digits. Friends? Apparently the grieving scared kid I was after my family died wasn't the guy people wanted to hang out with. So yeah, my life sucked.

Sucked, not sucks. That's not me anymore. That was just a bad dream, a truly terrifying nightmare. But like every dream, eventually I woke up. And now, I got a new life to go along with my new name. Blade is not the name of a sad lonely little kid. Blade is a name to be spoken awe fully and with reverence.

"I'm sorry son, but your credentials don't match what we're looking for." The fat ugly man was saying. "Maybe you'll have better luck somewhere else."

"Thank you sir." I said standing up and leaving the room. I had been trying to get a job for a while now. Being fifteen, I was on my way out of the orphanage and I could use just about any money. But, with a name like Blade and my attitude towards life, things weren't looking to good.

The fact that I was an orphan was the only reason I still had interviews. People heard my story and wanted to give me a chance. Then they met me, they saw my long unkempt black hair, my angry eyes, ragged old jeans and tattered jacket and they judged me. They realized that life has made me a cynical pessimist and they write me off. But they all apologize for it, cause they feel bad for turning someone like me away.

I learned a long time ago that apologies don't mean a single thing. They're just words we use to make ourselves feel like its ok. I'm so stick of apologies and condolences. What does that even mean? You have our deepest condolences. I've heard that line more times than my real name.

"Hey, watch it!" an old woman screamed at me as I almost bumped into her. I gave her the courtesy of my middle finger before carrying on my way. I hated the world, I blamed the world, and I just wanted it to end.

"Why?" I thought. "Why me?" I never did anything to deserve what happened. The things that happened to me made me the way I am. If I still had a family, maybe I would still believe in apologies. I might even have helped that old lady cross the street. Maybe.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for a Mr. Bishop?" someone asked me.

"Don't know any." I muttered brusquely continuing on my way.

"Well then, perhaps you know a boy named Blade?" the stranger asked again. I stopped in my tracks.

"I know a Blade, why do you need him?" I muttered quietly. I turned to the stranger. The man was wearing a long black trench coat and despite his considerable height there were several inches of fabric dragging on the ground. I couldn't see much of his face under the shadow of the black fedora hat on his head.

"I have a job for him." the man replied. He cleared his throat. "I mean you."

"Who are you." I asked backing away a few steps. This guy looked extremely shady. And I had learned to stay away from those kind of people.

"One of my names is Thanatos." The man replied.

"One of your names?" I asked suspiciously.

"I, much like you, have different names." Thanatos replied. "But for now you will call me Thanatos."

"Thanatos?" I asked. "That sounds foreign. What country are you from?"

"Greece." Thanatos replied. "Now about the job."

I waited for him to continue or at least elaborate on this job, but he seemed to be waiting for me. "What about it?"

"Do you want it?" Thanatos asked.

"What is it?" I said getting confused.

"A job." Thanatos replied simply.

"Wow, really." This guy was crazy. "Look, I'm going to need more details."

"I cannot tell you more unless you accept." Thanatos said shaking his head. "You must accept the offer to learn the details."

If someone won't tell you what kind of job you'll be doing, you know you need to get out of there, but what he said next hooked me.

"I CAN say that it will change everything." Thanatos promised.

That was what I so desperately wanted. A new life. My mind started racing. If this guys was telling the truth, I could have a new life. I would get to start over as Blade. "A job's a job I guess."

"Good." Thanatos said. "Will you please come with me?" he offered me his hand.

"Wait, you want to hold my hand?" I asked a little skeptical.

"It's necessary." Thanatos assured me. "Come on." I guess I did need a job. So I took the offered hand and followed Thanatos into a nearby alley.

"Umm…" I started to say.

"Keep your mouth closed! You don't want to eat any of this." Thanatos shouted quickly. Before I could ask what 'this' was the shadows surrounded me and Thanatos dragging us both down into the ground. I started to scream but Thanatos cupped his hand over my mouth.

Don't accept jobs from strangers, you might just get dragged into the earth by a shadow.

When the blackness receded I found myself in a strange place. I was standing alone in the middle of a long room with tall black pillars running down its length on each side. Facing me was a set of large stone doors. I walked towards them and saw that they were engraved with scenes of a vast army of skeletons worshipping a man who's head was on fire.

I reached up a finger to feel the stone and found that the door swung open for me. The door was about eight feet tall and six inches thick, I had to weigh some huge amount, yet it opened at the touch of a finger. I closed the door and turned around to study the room I was in.

The black pillars continued up until they were out of sight, and I could see no ceiling. Beyond the pillars was just shadowy blackness, which flickered as if the shadow was cast by a fire. Yet I saw no fire, or any other signs of lighting.

"Ah, you're awake." Thanatos said from behind me.

"Where am I?" I asked him.

"Well, Blade, this is your new office." Thanatos explained.

"This is MY office?" I asked stunned. "What exactly am I doing?"

"You are Hades." Thanatos muttered.

"Haiti?" I asked confused. "We're in Haiti?"

"No, Hades. H-A-D-E-S." Thanatos explained. "As in Hades, the Greek god of death and the underworld."

"Hades? Greek god of death? What are you talking about?" I asked Thanatos. What did he mean?

Thanatos sighed. "Surely you've heard of Hades from Greek Mythology? Zeus, Hercules, the Odyssey, Olympus?"

"I've heard of the Olympics." I said. "But not the other stuff."

"Oh, Hades." Thanatos said sadly. "Very well. From the beginning then. You've heard of Greece?"

"I'm not stupid."

"Good! In ancient times, when Greece was the center of civilization, the ancient Greeks worshipped a series of gods and goddesses." Thanatos said slowly.

"Yeah, that was their religion." I said kind of annoyed that he was talking to me like I was five.

"Yes. These Greek gods and goddesses are real." Thanatos explained. "You are now one of them."

My mouth dropped wide open. "You're saying I'm a god? Hades, the Greek god? Are you crazy?"

"You're not Hades." Thanatos said. "You're taking Hades job. And his palace, and his powers, and his immortality."

"Whoa, hold up." I said. "I'm taking his immortality? If Hades was immortal, why am I replacing him?"

Thanatos sighed. "Hades and a few other gods decided that they had lingered in this world too long. They decided it was time to hand off the mantle to a new generation of gods."

"So what? Hades died and appointed me to replace him." I said trying to clear this up.

"Hades did not die, he is immortal." Thanatos said again.

"If he's immortal why isn't he here?" I asked.

"To a god like Hades, forever is not such a long time. The gods have endured for eons. They have lived more lifetimes than the world has people. Perhaps they grew bored of this earth and needed to move on."

"So they passed on, as in dead?" I asked.

"If you continue like this you will be the god of stupidity!" Thanatos shouted. "Hades and the others did not die, they faded. They removed themselves from this world."

"Ok, Hades is not dead." I said surrendering. "So, I'm the god of death. What about you Thanatos? Are you a god?"

"Yes, I am the god of death." Thanatos explained.

"Hold up. You said I'm the god of death and the underworld." I said. "How can we both be the god of death?"

"Technically you're the lord of death AND god of the underworld. I am the god of death." Thanatos explained. "You see, Hades was the god of both death and the underworld. But the underworld is constantly growing with all the dead people pouring in, so eventually it became too big a job for Hades to do both. That's when he appointed me his lieutenant and made me god of death."

"That's stupid. I'd never give up being a god." I said.

"We'll see in a few thousand years if you're still so enthusiastic." Thanatos said. "Now, you accept the job and all it comes with?"

"I already said yes." I said.

"Very well," Thanatos muttered, "time to make it official. Come with me." Thanatos lead me towards a dais on the opposite side of the room from the doors. "Sit." He ordered pointed to the dais.

"There's no chair." I said stating the obvious.

"Sit." He repeated.

"Ok." I muttered. I stepped up onto the dais and began to sit down. As I lowered myself into a sitting position the shadows that danced just beyond the black pillars rushed forward and formed a solid black throne underneath me. As I sat in the throne, I felt my body come alive with power. I could feel my bones vibrating with raw energy. Now I felt like a god.

"My lord." Thanatos said dropping to a knee before me. "I have awaited your return."

"I like this." I said examining the throne. "This is going to be sweet." And so, Blade was the new me. I was no longer a sad, scared little boy. I was a god. The god of death…or was it the underworld? Either way shouldn't I get to pick who dies and who lives? "Thanatos. Is my family in the Underworld?"

"They are indeed Master Blade." Thanatos replied.

"I need to see them." I said standing up. "Take me to them." It felt good giving orders.

"Yes Master." Thanatos said getting to his feet. "This way." He lead me out of the throne room and into a hallway. As we made our way through the palace I noticed a trend in the décor.

"Hades sure liked the color black and skeleton statues." I pointed out.

"Those aren't statues. They're real skeletons." Thanatos said. He was right, I noticed that the skeletons were moving.

"Why are there skeletons?" I asked edging away from the nearest one.

"We're in the Underworld." Thanatos pointed out. "Besides, you're the lord of the dead. You'll be dealing with a lot of skeletons."

"What did I sign up for?" I muttered watching a skeleton with one leg hobble down the hallway past me.

"That's not the worst of it." Thanatos muttered. "Skeletons will seem like daisies compared to some of the creatures we will deal with."

"Like what?" I asked curious.

"Foul things that should not be spoken of." Thanatos replied cryptically.

"You brought it up." I said. "Is my family skeletons?"

"No, they have not been here near long enough." Thanatos said. "However, they are still dead."

"I know that." I said to him. "I've lived with that fact for my whole life."

"It would be unwise to bring them back." Thanatos stopped walking. He turned to face me. "That is why you want to see them? So you can bring them back."

"That was my plan." I admitted after a pause. "I guess you're going to tell me I can't." The possibility of seeing my family again had almost brought back the old me.

"You're a god. You can do what you want." Thanatos shrugged. "But if you bring them back to life, they will no longer be in your life."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"You're the lord of the dead. Your duty is to the Underworld. If you give your family their lives back, then they will have to leave here. A person cannot die twice, so when their time comes…again. They will fade rather than die. This fate is not what you seek."

"Then what do I seek?" I asked. "You seem to know."

"You seek to have a family." Thanatos whispered.

"I know that already!" I shouted. "That's why I wanted you to take me to them."

"You misunderstand." Thanatos said. "You seek a family for Blade. Your old family was only family to the old you. Now that you are Hades, your relation was cut."

"You didn't say that when I took this job!" I said.

"The fault is not mine. You claim to want your family back, yet you yourself are pushing them away." Thanatos said. "You have changed your name, your personality, and yourself just to get away from their ghosts. Are you sure you want me to take you back to them?"

I was quiet for a while, thinking over his words. Thanatos was right. It seems that I had unconsciously changed anything about me that reminded me of my loved ones. Without realized it, I was the one that kept them away. "What should I do?"

"Blade, you have a new family now. You are a new person, a god. I think seeing the people that were your family would only confuse and hurt you." Thanatos said. "Blade is now who you are. You must remember that, let go of the past."

"You keep saying I have a new family. Can I meet them?" I asked.

"You will not meet them. They will meet you." Thanatos said strangely.

"If we're going to be working together for eternity, you're going to have to speak more plainly." I said kind of annoyed with Thanatos cryptic talk.

"Sadly, you cannot just visit your family. You must be summoned." Thanatos said.

"When do I get summoned?" I asked.

"When they summon you." Thanatos answered.

"Can I fire you?" I asked bluntly. "Cause this isn't working out."

"You could fire me, but it will be near impossible to find someone willing to be the Grim Reaper forever." Thanatos said.

"Fine, you're not fired." I said.

"Thank you Master."

"Yet." I added. "Now take me back to the throne room." The whole way back to the throne room thoughts were racing through my head about Thanatos' words. About my new family, and how they would summon me when it pleased them.

"Here we are." Thanatos said bowing.

"Who exactly is this new family of mine?" I finally asked, sick of my rampaging thoughts. "Who are they to summon me like a pet? I'm a god!"

"Exactly. You're A god. Not THE god." Thanatos explained. "There are other gods, and unfortunately for us they are a little higher up on the totem pole."

"I bet Hades didn't like that." I muttered. "Being a god, yet you still have a boss."

"He found it insufferable." Thanatos nodded. "As do many others. But the hierarchy is there for a reason."

"And that reason is?" I asked.

"Because that's how we do things." Thanatos answered.

"Are we in Hell?" I asked.

"The Underworld, yes we are." Thanatos answered. "Why?"

"Cause I wanted to banish you there." I muttered. "Why can't you give me a straight answer?"

Thanatos sighed. "Because I'm tired of answering questions."

"What do you mean?" I asked. I hadn't questioned him to much have I?

"Being Death, all you hear is 'Why? Why did you have to take my loved ones?' and other such questions." Thanatos said. "I hear too many questions."

"Wow, that's kind of dark." I said.

"We're gods of death." Thanatos said. "Get used to the dark."

"Good advice." I muttered. I went over to my shadow throne and sat down on it. "So what do gods of death do all day?"