On the 11th of January 1937 Johnathon Ignes is born. He is a suitable weight, in good health...but different from all the other babies in the ward, because he is born immune to guilt. 2 years and 235 days later, worldwide war breaks out.
Sent away as an evacuee, Johnathon grows up away from his mother, and meets Erebus, a cheeky paperboy. Erebus too, has no guilt, and under his influence, Johnathon grows up into a monster.
This is the story of how that monster, became a leader.
- The prequel to 'Souls' (but will make sense if you haven't read it) -


19. Chapter 18

“Where are we even going?” Erebus suddenly thought, they were in the back of Eloise’s car on their way to meet Kris, whoever ‘Kris’ was.

“The middle of nowhere” Eloise replied, being deliberately vague. Erebus scowled, and looked out the window. “Just out of curiosity,” she suddenly spoke up again, “How much have you had to drink in the past 24 hours? Only neither of you seem as drunk as I’d expect.”

“Not sure, three and a half pints at least” Erebus shrugged, Eloise turned to Johnathon.

“Five pints” Johnathon informed her. Eloise nodded, processing the information.

“I think you both have a high tolerance for alcohol then, maybe not all the time, but in times of high stress your bodies can counteract the impacts of drinking” Eloise concluded.

“Are you saying that because of your intrusion I’m going to find it harder to get drunk over the next day or two? I like you even less now…” Erebus grumbled. Johnathon ignored his moaning and laid his head back, tired.

Dawn was breaking, it was around six in the morning, and he’d been up all night. The sun was tinting the sky, and the darkness was going back into hiding for a few hours. Letting himself drift off he smiled at the knowledge that he was officially an adult, and that he wasn’t a child anymore…

“What I want to know is why have the two year gap?” Johnathon awoke to the sound of Erebus asking yet more questions, “Why leave the note, send the girl, then just disappear for 24 months?”

“It’s actually been 13 months and 13 days” Eloise corrected him, “And I thought it best to give you both some time to calm down, especially after the little message you sent me…” Johnathon turned to look out of the window, and the sun was bright and high, it was late morning. “Good morning Johnathon” Eloise remarked, a small smile curving her lips.

“Did you fall asleep?” Erebus had been oblivious to Johnathon’s little nap.

“Um…yeah” Johnathon confessed, slighting embarrassed.

“I don’t think I could sleep right now if I tried…” Erebus trailed off.

“Yet another difference between you both” Eloise sighed, adjusting in her seat.

“What do you mean? We’re extremely similar” Erebus argued, agitated by her comment.

“On the surface perhaps,” Eloise nodded, “But when you dig a little deeper there are many differences between your Souls.”

“I thought you said we were both Dark Souls” Erebus pointed out.

“I did,” Eloise leaned in, “But there a many shades of black. When I look at you both, I see darkness, but when I stare into you both…I see more. Erebus, you have a soul so black it makes me dizzy, it swirls around continuously…it is nauseating. Johnathon, you have a soul that a deep black, it draws me in only to push me away, and there’s something about the way you maintain yourself that seems to fit with the reading I get from you. One of you is evil past redemption, and the other’s redemption goes way past evil.” Neither Johnathon nor Erebus spoke for the remaining duration of the journey after that, not that is lasted much longer anyway. Around half an hour later the car stopped. Eloise waited until the driver, a girl around the age of thirty, opened the door.

When they exited the vehicle the first thing to hit Johnathon was the colours. Everywhere was lit with the sun, bringing out the green in the grass, the brown in the mud, the blue in the sky. It was like a picturesque landscape painting. The smell wasn’t anything like in Cantumville, there was no smoky edge or human stench… just the air and the fields. It was refreshing and renewing. Sounds of birds replaced sounds of people, sounds of wind replaced sounds of cars, and the rowdy chatter was gone. There was no sign of human life at all.

“Well this is boring,” Erebus clearly didn’t see the scenery in the same way everyone else did, “Where is everything?”

“Beyond the trees” Eloise pointed out to the rows of wood and branches in the distance.

“We have to walk?” Erebus groaned.

“It would be disrespectful to bring the car any closer to Kris’s territory” Eloise explained.

“Do I look like I care?” Erebus asked rhetorically.

“A word of advice Erebus,” Eloise’s tone turned firm and serious, “Try not to insult Kris when we arrive, he is an extremely proud man and will not take kindly to your sarcasm”. Erebus just shrugged, careless.

The trio set off, leaving the driver behind. It was odd how the field looked smaller than it actually was, the repetitiveness of the scenery played a trick on the mind, making you interpret the image as less. After ten minutes of walking, and only getting half way, Johnathon was beginning to share Erebus’s pessimism. After twenty two minutes, they were there, wherever ‘there’ was. Eloise parted the branches, taking the lead and stepping through. Johnathon and Erebus followed after, slightly cautious.

What they saw was not more forest, but it was not without nature either.

In a large clearing, there was a small, slightly aged log house, with light from a fire shining through the windows. Surrounding it was a small array of flowers, and to the left there was a small garden growing vegetables, grains, and fruits. A little further behind there was grand a treehouse, to which the only entrance was via a rope ladder dangling loosely from the open doorway. It was full of people playing, working, and running around, and a low murmur of chatter mixed with squeals from the younger inhabitants. It was not the sort of place Johnathon would have ever wanted to live, but he could see why certain people would dream of a home like it.

Seconds after they came into the space, a man approached them. He was tall and well-built, with brown eyes and a dark complexion, and his hair was curled upon his forehead as if it was rarely tendered to. He walked with a sense of authority, but his posture was open and welcoming.

“Eloise, how are you?” He addressed her first.

“Very well Kris, and you?” Eloise smiled, hugging him.

“I’m…perfect,” Kris stressed his words, “New faces?” He gestured to Johnathon and Erebus.

“Erebus McKoy and Johnathon Ignes,” Eloise stated their names, “They’re the Dark Souls I was telling you about”.

“Well, Erebus and Johnathon, welcome to my home,” Kris greeted them, shaking their hands firmly, “Please, come and meet everyone” he signalled to a few of the other inhabitants whilst he spoke. Two women and a man came up. “This is my wife Rebecca, my brother Tao, and his girlfriend Hannah” he introduced them one by one, letting them each shake hands with both Johnathon and Erebus in between. After that they scattered, leaving Johnathon and Erebus alone with Eloise once more.

“Kris is a Wild Soul,” Eloise pointed out, “He built this whole place with Tao from scratch years ago so that he could be closer to nature.”

“What about Rebecca and Hannah?” Johnathon checked.

“They’re wild too. Wild Souls have a lot more instinct that homo sapiens, it was easy for Kris to find Rebecca, they were drawn to each other…the same goes for Tao and Hannah.”

“What’s everyone else doing here then?” Erebus asked, his tone bored.

“They’re all Wild Souls too, and they found this place, this is their home” Eloise tried to explain, but she clearly found it difficult, “Some Wild Souls prefer to go it alone, and spend their lifetime travelling and exploring, others gather together as a family and set up a life which is harmonious with nature. Kris, and everyone else here, chose the second option.”

They walked towards the log house, stepping inside, welcomed by the warmth from the fireplace. Everyone else ignored them as they walked up the stairs and into a room with two beds.

“You’ll be sleeping in here,” Eloise informed them, “I’d get some rest, tomorrow will be…interesting”.

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