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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43. Chapter 42

Johnathon and Erebus returned to being friends rather than enemies, though the words spoken in their brief argument still stuck with them like scars. Johnathon announced he was back together with Adele, and though many did not approve, no-one tried to stop him. Even Eloise began to gradually accept their relationship. Over the course of just under a year, everything seemed to settle down in Johnathon’s life. In fact, everything was going far too well…

11th January 1975:

Packing a suitcase was always a stressful and strenuous ordeal, even for Dark Souls. The worry of forgetting something important, the struggle fitting it all in, and the fuss over folding your clothes all shoved it down to the bottom of a to-do list. There never is any way to avoid it though, and everyone must inevitably and unfortunately, face the case. Johnathon was packing his bag for a three day getaway to Kris’s little hideaway. It was another ‘ASNM’ thing. Neither he nor Erebus had received invites in the past few years, but this time was different for some unknown reason. This was to last longer too, because apparently there was more to be discussed. Johnathon wasn’t too happy about that, he didn’t like Kris’s home, and found his time there awkward and unpleasant, though none of this was deliberate. Reluctantly, Johnathon zipped up his bag, and carried it down the stairs. Erebus wasn’t finished until ten minutes later, he worried more about his appearance than Johnathon, and had spent longer deliberating which clothes to shove in his bag. Erebus was enjoying a last minute cigarette, when the doorbell rang. Johnathon went to answer it, as he was the only one of them who cared enough to. It was Adele.

“Hello” she smiled up at him, stepping inside. Johnathon heard Erebus groan from the kitchen, overhearing her entrance.

“Hey there,” Johnathon grinned, ignoring Erebus and pulling her in for a quick kiss.

“What’s she doing here?” Erebus came through to the hallway, ruining the moment. Erebus’s relationship with Adele was no longer violent, but they did have a small rivalry over Johnathon, both of them wanting to spend more time with him than the other. Adele had grown a lot more confident around Erebus, and no longer shrunk back at the sight of him. In fact, she often talked back to him when he was rude.

“You should ask her that, not me” Johnathon shrugged.

“I was in the area and I thought I’d stop by,” Adele told them both innocently,

“I’m not interrupting anything am I?” Johnathon said ‘no’ at the same time Erebus said ‘yes’.

“We’re just about to leave actually, we’re heading off for a few days” Johnathon clarified.

“Oh, well I’ll go then…”

“No, stay for a while, we don’t have to leave just yet” Johnathon took her hand and lead her into the kitchen.

“Well I don’t know, the traffic might be awful…” Erebus trailed off, unable to resist contradicting Johnathon, who glared at him in response. Adele sat down at the table whilst Johnathon boiled the kettle, and Erebus stood in the doorway, accepting his role as a third wheel.

“So...where are you off to?” Adele made conversation.

“The middle of nowhere.” Erebus answered before Johnathon could, “So don’t try to find us until we’re back”.

“Kris’s house” Johnathon clarified, placing two mugs down on the table. Adele knew who Kris was, she knew who everyone was. Though she’d never met them, Johnathon talked about them frequently, or rather, he moaned about them frequently.

“Is he the one who lives in that clearing?” Adele checked, unsure.

“Yeah, with the small log houses and blossoming gardens” Johnathon nodded.

“Wow…” Adele murmured. She loved the idea of Kris’ home being out in the open. She was always trying to get Johnathon to describe it, as if it were a magical fantasy setting in one of her favourite books.

“Why are you going there? I thought you didn’t like his place.” Adele suddenly recalled Johnathon’s own opinion.

“We’ve been invited.” Johnathon grimaced.

“Yeah, we have. Not you. Us.” Erebus reiterated the guest list to Adele, “Me and Johnny boy, away for the weekend, away from you.” He didn’t need to rub it in so much, but he wanted to. Adele just shrugged his comments off, used to his childish bragging.

“Have fun” she beamed at him. The smile was, obviously, fake, and aimed to annoy him further. Johnathon intervened before anymore damage could be done.

“Well...it doesn't have to just me and Erebus” he pointed out.

“It doesn’t?” Erebus stepped forward, uncomfortable with where the conversation was going.

“No, not exactly.” Johnathon shook his head, “I hear Felicity is bringing her boyfriend Rhys”.

“Yeah but Rhys is a pigeon” Erebus reminded Johnathon, using the nickname ‘shreiking pigeon’ in place of ‘Songbird Soul’, “This gathering is Souls only. The clue is in the name, Johnny boy, Annual Soul Negotiation Meeting.”

“It does sound pretty thorough…” even Adele was hesitant.

“How can we expect normals to treat us equally if we don’t do the same to them?” Johnathon argued with the both of them.

“Eloise won’t be happy…”

“I don’t want to cause any trouble…”

“Adele is my girlfriend.” Johnathon interrupted them, “People need to move on and accept that. She should come and meet everyone, I’m sure they’d like to get to know her. And Adele wants to be introduced, don’t you? Just the other day you said you felt like some sort of phantom to everyone.”

“Well, yes, but…”

“Then it’s settled.” Johnathon decided, “Erebus, you go on ahead. I’ll go back with Adele so she can pack her bag, and then we’ll in her car, and meet you there”.

“You’re leaving me behind again?” Erebus groaned, “Typical.” Johnathon and Adele ignored him, heading out the door as if he had never spoken. Johnathon sped up their journey to Adele’s house by getting her to put her arms around him as her ran the way there. Despite this being a common thing for them both to do, Adele still shut her eyes as they ran, and clung on tight, like a child on a ride at a theme park. Adele was quicker at packing her bag, probably because she was too preoccupied with worries over meeting everyone to sweat over what top to pack. They left only forty minutes of o after Erebus in the end.

Adele spent most of the journey fiddling with random objects as Johnathon drove. She was clearly nervous, and who wouldn’t be? A simple homosapien about to meet the leaders of each Soul race, as well as other influential Souls. It was like a bee visiting a wasp’s hive. All the excitement over the beauty of Kris’s home seemed to have escaped her, swept away by the anxiety of meeting Kris himself. “You’ll be fine,” Johnathon assured her, sensing her mood, “I’ll be beside you the whole time”. Eventually, they arrived. Johnathon parked the car far away from the entrance, mainly because he knew he was already pushing his luck by bringing Adele along with him. They walked at normal pace through the field, Adele seemed to be calmed by the scenery. As they got closer, they heard a faint hum of voices from within. Johnathon took Adele’s hand, and they both inhaled deeply, it was time.

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