Guiltless

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) -

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33. Chapter 32

Adele kept her promise, and found Johnathon some local work as a mechanic. The pay was unfair, and the hours were tough, but it gave Johnathon something to do, and the money he earnt through hard work seemed better than the money he stole.
The night of the party arrived. Johnathon and Erebus travelled down to Eloise’s house, ready for an evening of socialising.

31st December 1972:

“Why are we doing this?” Johnathon asked Erebus as they approached the front door, “Why did we bother coming? We’re not going to enjoy ourselves…”

“Free booze?” Erebus guessed, slightly lighter than Johnathon in his mood. They came to the door, and knocked a couple of times. They were both dressed in plain shirts and trousers, but Johnathon wore a black sleeveless jumper over the top of his. Erebus held in his hand a bottle of cheap wine they’d stolen on the way over, planning to give it to Eloise as a nice(ish) gesture. The door was answered by Chloe, who was wearing a long charcoal dress. Behind her the party was already in full swing, people were dancing and drinking everywhere you looked, it seemed they were the last to arrive.

“You’re late,” Chloe remarked.

“Hello to you too” Erebus grumbled, thrusting over the bottle of wine as he barged past her. Johnathon tilted his head and smiled stiffly.

“I’m sure he’ll be friendlier after he’s had a few drinks” he excused Erebus’s behavior. Chloe stepped aside, letting him pass.

“Eloise tells me you’ve changed,” Chloe murmured, “That your Soul is lighter. Is it true?”

“Apparently” Johnathon shrugged.

“Hm. How did you do it?” Chloe was curious, perhaps she wanted to change herself, and needed to know how.

“I don’t know,” Johnathon lied, “Maybe I just grew up” he gave her the same excuse he’d given Eloise. Chloe walked away after that, seeing no further use in their conversation. Johnathon quite liked that about her though, she never wasted time on unnecessary small talk, unlike the other people he’d met over the years. He was about to go over to the snack table, when he felt a tug on his trousers. He turned around to see a small, mischievous toddler behind him, making uncontrollable giggle-like sounds that resembled the noise a walrus might make whilst being tickled. A few seconds later Hannah came running up behind him.

“Leo! Get back here.” she laughed, when she noticed Johnathon she stopped laughing. “Oh, hello Johnathon,” she blushed, uneasy, “I’m sorry about Leo, ever since he learned to walk he’s been a complete nightmare. Was he bothering you?”

“Slightly, yes.” Johnathon didn’t bother with telling her a white lie, “Is he your son?”

“Yes, he is. Beautiful isn’t he? Just like his father. Unfortunately, he also shares his daddy’s sense of adventure, he’s always running off.” Hannah rambled on and on, speaking in short, fast-paced sentences, still slightly out of breath from chasing him.

“Friend?” Leo pointed at Johnathon whilst he spoke, checking with his mummy.

“Yes,” Hannah grinned, though her tone showed signs of insecurity, “This is Johnathon” she introduced him. After a few seconds of awkward silence, Hannah spoke again. “Well, we should probably get back to daddy” she made her excuse, picking up Leo and carrying him away. Johnathon was glad for her absence, and continued on his way to the food selection.

There was a lot of choice, Eloise had laid out everything from crisps to caviar. Shoving past a few people to get to what he wanted, Johnathon filled up his paper plate, deciding to make the most of the party. He was just on his way to sit down and tuck in, when he bumped into someone who annoying hadn’t been looking where they were going. A boy, around the age of six or seven, who had been running around like a madman.

“I’m sorry” he apologised quickly, looking up at Johnathon. His voice had a strong accent, like Kris’s and Tao’s.

“Hm.” was all Johnathon said in response, not all that bothered by the accident.

“Have we met?” The young boy asked him, staring at his face as if there was some recollection inside him.

“I don’t think so” Johnathon tried to end the conversation so he could get away.

“I think we have,” the child was persistent. Johnathon looked at the boy, deciding to make an effort to try and recognise him. He had brown hair, that was too short to have some sort of shape on his head, and he was of average height. His rich skin complemented his blue eyes like vodka and coke. He reminded Johnathon of someone, if only he could figure out who…

“Is your name Gael?” Johnathon suddenly thought.

“Yes, yes it is sir” Gael’s lips curved, he was obviously happy to be recognised.

“I attended your fifth birthday party” Johnathon informed him.

“Ah yes, I remember now, you’re one of the Dark Souls” Gael nodded.

“Yes, I am.” Johnathon confirmed. Then he straightened his expression, and toughened his tone, “Which is why I suggest you leave me alone and let me eat”. And with that, Gael was gone. Johnathon, pleased, went and began to enjoy the food, hoping not to see any more of his allies children that night.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, could I have you attention please?” Eloise raised her voice, coming out from the crowd. “I have a few announcements to make,” everyone turned to look at her, intrigued, “I am going to start with the bad news, to get it out of the way. What you all must understand is that the hunter threat is not as imaginary as I have previously been claiming. You see, hunters to exist, just as we do. They hide from us as we hide from them, they spread the word about our talents, create negative propaganda, and attack us when we are weak and not expecting it. Hunters are real, I feel as though I can no longer lie to you about that.” Eloise paused, letting everyone get used to the idea, Johnathon just waited for her to speak again, he’d known for ages that the hunters were out there. “That is why I feel we need to start taking precautions. I am proposing that we instate leaders for each Soul race, so that we may all look for guidance from people who best understand us. As you all know, I am very good at making the right decisions, which is why I have already chosen these leaders. For the Songbird Souls, I have chosen Felicity Yung. She is a kind-hearted, moral, and understanding person, and I have huge faith in her abilities as a leader. For the Wild Souls, I have chosen Kris Maines. He was one of the first Souls I ever met, and for years already he’s been welcoming others of his kind into his home, offering them a place to stay. In my eyes, he is already the leader, I am simply making it official. The Dark Soul position was the one I found most difficult to decide on, you see, not many Dark Souls show inspiring leadership qualities. I do, however, think I have made the correct decision in choosing Chloe Franks as the leader. She has been at my side for a while now, and I trust her completely.” Eloise looked around the room one last time, judging everyone’s reactions, “Thank you for listing, and enjoy the rest of the party”.

Once Eloise was gone, everyone began chatting again. Surprisingly enough, Eloise’s speech had not ruined the mood, but lightened it. People seemed more faithful, more trusting, more united. No-one seemed to be in a panic over the hunters, the most common emotion seemed to be relief. People were relieved that Eloise had found a solution, they were relieved to finally receive some guidance.

“I can’t believe this!” Johnathon heard Erebus come up behind him, “If Eloise thinks I’m going to mindlessly start following that stupid tame brunette then she’s got another thing coming.” Before Johnathon could answer him, another person intruded into the conversation.

“I’m flattered,” Chloe approached them both, “Stupid tame brunette, it actually has a nice ring to it.”

“What do you want?” Erebus wasn’t in a mood for playing games. Chloe turned to Johnathon.

“I thought you said he’d be friendlier after a few drinks? Oh well…” she trailed off.

“Just get to the point” Johnathon snapped, tired of her dawdling.

“Don’t you get it? I’m gloating” Chloe seemed surprised at their misunderstanding, “Not to you Johnathon, you couldn’t care less about my leadership. Erebus on the other hand…is very jealous. Aren’t you Erebus? You want this position, you want to be in power. But you know Eloise will never let that happen…ah well, what can you do?”

“I could kill you” Erebus growled, far too quick in his response.

“You do that and Eloise will never put you in charge.” Chloe told him, and all three of them knew she was right. Erebus walked away, giving in (for a while at least). “Don’t worry, I’ll play nice. I’ll be a good leader. I’ll listen.” Chloe added. Johnathon looked up, inquisitive about her guarantee.

“You’ll listen no matter what?” He checked with her.

“Of course” Chloe promised.

“Then I have something to tell you.”

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