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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73. Chapter 72

“What do we do now?” Leo asked. All the leaders had gathered with Eloise at the houseboat to discuss what the next move would be. Felicity was dead, the songbirds had no leader, and the light at the end of the tunnel had been dimmed.

“Felicity was an idol for Songbirds everywhere, she was their hope…” Peter trailed off, his face sinking more and more by the minute.

“Felicity is gone.” Eloise stated plainly, her face unreadable. Unlike everyone she didn’t seem upset by the death, but more conflicted. Her eyes didn’t move as she spoke, she just stared blankly out into the distance, unable to even shift in her position. If Johnathon didn’t know any better he’d assume she was in shock, but Eloise wasn’t one to freeze under pressure, whatever was wrong, it was much more inexplicable than simply shock. Why else would she seem so cold and heartless at such a tragic time? “There is nothing any of us can do about it, the most pressing issue right now is leadership, not greif. There’s just been a massive attack, the Songbirds are distraught, and there is no leader to calm them down. They need strong leadership, someone they believe in, someone they trust, someone-”

“They need Felicity.” Peter cut her off, standing up to his aunt. “Felicity was the source of their strength, and now she’s gone. Killed dead by a hunter in front of a bundle of witness, including her own daughter, how can you be so acceptive of that? You’re acting like a robot! Things don’t always have to run like clockwork, and right now we have to tackle more delicate matters. Like how Angelica is currently unconscious upstairs in one of Johnathon’s guest bedrooms, because someone felt the need to knock her out minutes after she saw her mother get murdered.” Johnathon, not in the mood for criticism, and least of all criticism from Peter, simply turned to glare.

“She was going to get herself killed.” He defended himself, scowling. It wasn’t the time for looking back, it was the time for looking forward. Eloise was right to some extent, they needed to decide what to do next.

“Eloise, is there-well, um, do you know, uh-do you know anyone who could...replace her?” Leo practically choked out the words, it clearly tore him apart to say such a thing. His expression was nauseated as he looked away, needing a moment. There was no doubt that everyone in the room thought Felicity was pretty much irreplaceable, and to think about such things so soon after her brutal death...it was a monstrous but unfortunately necessary sin.

“As of yet, no.” Eloise shook her head, still looking out absently into the distance, “I shall start looking though. Felicity was a strong leader, her skills and beliefs would have been passed on to those around her, I’m sure I shall find someone worthy soon enough.”

“Well that’s...encouraging.” Leo nodded uncomfortably, clearly trapped in a moral dilemma. Then the room fell silent once more, nobody having anything left to say. Truth me told nobody knew what would happen next. Even without taking the death of one of the most influential souls into consideration, it was still a disaster. The death count was unknown but clearly high, the hunters had proven their strength, and the four remaining leaders were sat in stunned silence acting as if they were civilians in the soul community, not politicians.

“We should probably check on Angelica…” Peter trailed off, his main concern not for the daughter of the deceased but for the atmosphere of the room, he was desperate to change the conversation topic.

“Yes-yes of course, let’s go.” Eloise agreed, getting up from her seat, her eyes finally focusing on the room around her, and not the world outside the window. Everyone else followed her example, finally getting up from their seats.

They found Angelica still out cold, her body spread out across the bed sheets. Unbathed, her hands were still stained crimson and her clothes still decorated with mud grass. Her blonde hair intertwined with tiny twigs, and the ends were dip-dyed red. Her right arm, which lay like a lightning bolt along her side, had a long green and brown bruise outlining it, spreading into a dark purple splodge when it reached her elbow. If it were not for the slow rise and fall of her chest, you would have thought you were in a morgue staring at a lifeless body.

“When will she wake?” Eloise asked Johnathon, kneeling beside the sleeping girl.

“It’s hard to say...but I can wake her up now if you like.” Johnathon offered walking over, before he reached the bed Leo’s arm extended out to block his path.

“How?” He spoke firmly, concerned over Johnathon’s methods. This distrust was almost offensive for Johnathon, but he took it all in his side, reacting only with a gentle sigh and small push past Leo towards Angelica. He knelt beside Eloise, and reached his arm over to the back of Angelica’s neck.

“There’s a pressure point just...here.” He applied a tiny amount of pressure and stood back up again. Sure enough, Angelica’s body shifted in the bed, and her blue eyes slowly began to drift open. Her eyeball drifted clumsily, examining the room around her, which was most likely blurred from her perspective.

“Good morning.” Eloise managed a small smile, trying to lighten the mood before it had a chance to darken. Angelica looked at her, finally starting to wake up properly. As she did so her expression changed, her eyes widening as she sat up, remembering the events that had led up to her slumber.

“The clearing- m-my m-mother...wh-what? Uh-...” She stammered, burying her head in her hands.

“Your safe now, we’re not at the clearing anymore.” Eloise placed her warm hand against her back, trying relentlessly to comfort her. “The hunters are gone Angelica, they can’t hurt you.”

“B-but my...my mum, w-what about...what h-happened?” Angelica looked up, her face red, damp, and swollen. Everyone in the room looked away automatically, as if it was a defense mechanism in their minds. Nobody wanted to have to be the one to say it, to admit it...to accept it.

“You know what happened Angelica, you were there.” Eloise bit her lip as she spoke, taking Angelica’s hand in hers, “I’m so very sorry, but she’s gone.”

After that the only recognisable sound was wailing. Tears and cries that bounces off the walls and infected people’s ears. Angelica sat there, rocking back and forth, emitting any sound that she could think of to express her incredible grief and sadness. And all Johnathon could do was stand there and watch, watch the relatable sight of heartbreak over death, as he felt his own heart begin to melt.

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