I’ve been pretty busy this week with Christmas so I don’t have a chapter ready for everyone but I do hope you guys have good holidays. I’ll be back next week for sure.
I’ve been pretty busy this week with Christmas so I don’t have a chapter ready for everyone but I do hope you guys have good holidays. I’ll be back next week for sure.
With the addition of Cain’s curse, humankind were turned away from magic in a big way. It was no longer taught to every child and users lost the adoration of the populous. Over time the only people who practiced the arcane arts were Cain’s own descendants or those that secluded themselves from civilization. Cain’s cursed found themselves left out of history, becoming folklore in their own time.
Then, early in the thirteenth century, a deal with death would make another big change to the world of magic.
A girl somewhere near the age of sixteen the first born of an eastern european aristocrat was married off to a man that she actually liked. They both had been trained in the way of the summoning ritual, likely by alchemists under their families’s thumbs. As part of their vows to each other they made a deal with death, in exchange for their souls they would be able to return from the dead if they both died. A sort of reverse suicide pact.
Her brother was denied his claim as heir. Despite his stature within the family and his gender, their parents had decided to give her a major percentage of the holdings when they died. Needless to say, the brother plotted revenge against her. He had an assassin kill her husband. Whilst she was still fighting with the idea of killing herself, he confronted her screaming at her for getting more than he did. Before she could fight back, he stabbed her with a large silver cross, she died within moments.
The girl and her husband were held in between this world and the next. Death came for them but paused as part of the deal.
“Do you still wish to hold up the bargain?” He gave them one last chance. Her husband hesitated, knowing that he still had the option to stay with her forever. She did not, still holding onto the words that her brother had said to her. How dare he?
The human body is easily repaired by magic, but a body without a soul is only a slab of meat, alive or dead. The girl and her husband were returned to their bodies, but only in part. The core, their primal instincts and memories, the casing was forfeit, their emotions and ego.
Even without feeling it directly the girl’s core had continued to hold the rage that she had died with. Her body half dead was changed by this energy, unprotected by the casing, it shriveled the skin and pushed out her hair follicles. Becoming a beast much like Cain, she ripped her brother in half, enjoying the look on his face she realized her hunger, for his blood, his very soul.
“Thus the first soulless was created in our world. Except that story has some pretty big oversights and doesn’t explain much. Vampires didn’t even drink blood, they would shred the soul casings of their victims, feeding on emotions. If they were desperate they could kill a person to suck out the whole soul but blood sucking was a more recent soulless trait.”
“If they don’t drink blood, how do they breed?”
“Do I also need to fill you in on human procreation?”
“So they have sex and live births?”
“They give birth to half souled children without emotion?”
“Correct. Thanks to that little ability they have mixed in with the Cain curses and thinned out their own curse. Of course, they did have the ability to convert humans, but the half Vampire half humans were weak.”
“They burned in the sun.”
“Pop culture taught you something then huh?”
“Vampires effectively bred themselves out then.”
“Mostly, the last of them made their way to America with the immigrants hoping to make a colony of vampires. Their royal family was burned in the very houses they built.”
“What do you think he’s going to do?” Reese focused on the road.
“I know what I think, what do you think?
“I think he’s going to sell his soul to find out who killed the last in his living line.”
“So we are on the same page.”
Reese planted his foot on break, not fast enough to shoot Maeve forward but soulless barely noticed G-forces. He put himself into a parallel park behind Mannies. Both of them jumped out and sprinted down the walkway as fast their normal human selves would go.
“Gomez!” Reese shouted once he came into view. The man was older than his wife, wisps of silver in his hair that covered his face. He was sitting on the pavement his back on the wall. They slowed as they got closer.
A puff of black smoke shot up in front of Reese making him stop in his tracks.
“Where do you think you’re going Blackwood?” The smoke revealed a man, looking like part of the mafia in all the cliche. Maeve didn’t slow down, pulling something gold out of her pocket of holding.
She pushed the jeweled hip-flask between Reese and the Demon possessed.
“You’re going to get out our way before I put you in here with your friends, I hear they’re hungry.” The Demon turned to her with an angry look, it turned surprised. He looked down at the flask and shot his hands up in surrender backing off.
“I was only doing what Mammon told me.”
“Well get Mammon out here, I want to talk to him.”
Reese knelt down in front of Gomez.
“I hope you got what you asked for Gomez.”
“Va…” He started to mumble.
“Keep your strength buddy.” Reese put his hand on shoulder.
Maeve had pulled a short sword, holding it above her head and holding the flask as though it was a shield.
“Mammon, get your ugly face out here.”
“Who are you calling ugly?” A much larger cloud of smoke slithered its way out of the door to Mannie’s.
“You clearly.” Mammon had taken the body of a Hollywood actor, he was a big deal but Maeve didn’t remember his name. He played a lot of lawyers and Mafiosos.
“What do we have here? Maeve’s back I see Reese, I thought you had agreed to tell me if that happened?” Mammon stood as far away from Maeve as he could.
“I got back today actually.”
“Well, considering I haven’t eaten a single child since you filled up that flask there. I’m guessing you’re not here to try and make me drink.”
“Gomez over there. Did you deal with him?”
“What did you give him? What did you take?”
“Client confiden…” Maeve’s sword was already on his neck. “You know, I really hate you soulless, always showing us up.”
“Tell me about it.” Reese stood up.
“He wanted to know who killed his grand daughter, I showed him.”
“You sent him there? You know what that does to a soul.” Reese pointed out.
“What did you take from him?” Maeve pushed the blade a little more.
“You two make a great good cop, bad cop. His soul is forfeit to me when he dies.”
“Which would have been tonight if we hadn’t got here.”
Reese picked up Gomez and held him over his shoulder.
“I’ll be seeing you later Mammon.”
“Vampyre.” Gomez coughed out. “It was a Vampyre.”
“Hello, Karen right?”
“That’s me, are you here for the death of that… hybrid?” Maeve could feel in her bones the urge that Karen had to say ‘Abomination’ but she also felt the fear that Karen released.
“Yes we are, sorry for the trouble, I know that the Titan slayers were here before. We are just trying to be thorough.” Reese chatted politely, unaware of the horror that was coming over this older Serkett. “Can we come in?”
Maeve hadn’t met many Serkett in her time with the Refuge, just like most of the Children of Cain they kept to themselves. Looking over the entrance to their house she noticed one particular thing, it was normal. Even on a spiritual level, no magic had been used in this house, the energy from when Sam and Alix were here remained so intact, that Maeve could sense it without effort. Those cursed of sand always mystified Maeve, she didn’t have enough practice to detect the tiny difference in their energy from that of a normal human.
“Can I get you anything? Blood?” Karen pulled Maeve out of her daze.
“Oh. Oh, no thank you. I’m not that kind of blood sucker.” Maeve blinked once to reveal her purple eyes then again to hide them.
“Ah, right. Anything for you Reese, I think I have some leftover lamb heart pie?”
“Thank you, but I had lamb heart for lunch.”
“Okay then, please have a seat. What did you want to ask me about?”
Reese pulled out a note from his coat, it was on light blue paper with glitter. Maeve wasn’t sure if that was from Alix or Sam.
“So the last time you saw Saida was two days ago around four thirty correct?”
“Yes, she didn’t want to stay for dinner. I had honestly planned on making Cuisses de Grenouille for weeks now.” Reese chuckled, Maeve missed the joke.
“She didn’t say where she was going? and she only seemed to act particularly different when you asked her to have dinner with you?”
“Right, now my questions.” A toothy smirk made its way across Maeve’s face.
“Maeve…” Reese started to interject
“Had you met Saida before she settled you?”
“Yes…” Karen answered but was cut off.
“You understand what she is?”
“When we got here what were you terrified for?”
“Two more enforcers just showed up…”
“Or you were worried that we were on to you. When is your husband due back?”
“When he’s finished hiding the murder weapon? You have blood on tap but you’re both Serkett?”
“We have soulless friends on this stree…”
“You have a soulless assassin in your little black…”
Karen’s stinger shot out from her shoulder, Reese only caught up with it by the time Maeve held it in her hand. Just like a scorpion’s only it could reach over arm’s length and was the size of a fist.
“I… I… didn’t mean…”
“It’s okay Karen, that’s my fault, I was pushing on your emotional barriers with my own. It was the only way I could know if you were telling the truth.”
“Saida… Saida was the last of my husband’s line.” She said between sobs. Maeve and Reese looked at each other.
“I… we didn’t know.” Reese put his hand on Karen’s other shoulder.
“I couldn’t give him any more children… I would never kill the only family he has left.”
“You never told anyone?” Maeve asked softly.
“We couldn’t, to have the Froschkönig associated with us would mean certain death.”
“That’s why you came to the refuge.” Reese declared with a small amount of pride on his face.
“We need to track down who did this Karen, not just for your justice. The vengeance of the refuge must also find them.” Maeve put down Karen’s stinger gently. It slowly pulled itself back.
“We have no idea, honestly. Gomez is out right now hounding everyone he knows in the shadier parts of town.”
“Which parts of town?” Reese stood up.
“He said he was going to Mannie’s…”
“We need to go. Right now.”
“Thank you, Karen, for all of your help.”
Reese half jogged over to the car, rushing himself in like death was in a slow pursuit.
“Why the rush?”
“Mannie’s isn’t just shady outback gambling. It’s Mammon’s home away from home.”
Cain didn’t simply kill his brother. His brother was protected, by almost every angel. Abel had dealt with them all, they wouldn’t have let anything happen to him. They gave Abel everything, and even when Cain offered more, they chose to continue dealing with Abel.
One day Cain had finally given up. He gave his four children and his wife his goodbyes and sent them as far away as they could go. He turned his house into an altar for death, and for as long as he could, he chanted. Chanting for death to make a deal with him.
Almost succumbing to malnourishment was what finally brought the manifestation of Death. Death made it clear that with the Angels protecting him, Abel would be untouchable to his minions. However he could grant the power of death unto Cain, being Abel’s brother they would have no reason to stop him from getting close.
Cain did not care what it was going to cost him but to seal the deal Death had to tell him. It would cost Cain his body, his physical form belonged to Death in any state. Cain accepted and did as the story tells.
During the murder of his brother Cain changed, mentally and physically. He became a gargantuan beast of unparalleled strength and agility, his mind devolving into that of a hungry unrelenting carnivore. Abel’s family having also been skilled in magic forced Cain’s beast to flee before he devoured them all. Much later they called upon the Angels to smite him from the Earth.
It was already too late. Each of Cain’s children were also stricken with the curse. Being half Cain and half their Mother they only got a small part of the curse, but it was enough to leave them alienated from most places they could go. Over time they managed to make their own families and some even managed to integrate into some of society. Many centuries have passed since then and the curses of the four have both thinned out with human blood as well as mixed with each other.
“… But us scholars still have to classify them. So we have determined the blood lines of most of the more common descendants. Dragons have the curses of fire and sand. Shapeshifters also have those but some have the curse of the moon. Merpeople have the curses of the moon and water.”
“Fire, sand, water and the moon. The moon curse doesn’t seem to fit.”
“Some have referred to it as the curse of darkness, but it doesn’t make you weaker in the light, just stronger when it’s night.”
“Well what are Vampire’s then?”
“You’ve met a Vampire?”
“Uh, no, I just thought they would probably exist too. Thought they might be descendants of Cain.”
“No… Vampires only relation to Cain is that their progenitor made a deal with Death. They also spread their curse amongst the living and Cain’s descendants but theirs was a curse of soullessness.”
“The last thing I heard about Vampires was the last of their kind was killed during the witch trials.”
“Why do they keep showing up in pop culture then?”
“Okay don’t forget to breathe.” Guide gently hovered in front of Whiskey. She was cross legged, hovering above her bed with her hands holding tightly onto her knees. “… and drop.”
Whiskey fell softly onto her bed.
“Phew, this magic thing is hard work.” She jumped up and hobbled over to the kitchen, one of her legs had gone to sleep.
“You have no idea, you only managed that because I partially hypnotised you.”
“Why do I have to…” Whiskey took a big gulp of water “… start with this mind magic? You said there were hundreds of magics to master.”
“And you would like to start with the easy ones huh? How about body Voodoo where you turn your body in a psychic controller of objects? Or perhaps blood infusion where you sacrifice your own essence to empower items?”
“Yeah, they sound good.” Guide flapped over her head like a hungry carrion bird. “Oi what was that for?”
“You have no understanding of your own power! These magics sound easy because they are! They have no strength in them, other magics that are hard would break them easily. A soul bound sword, one of the most common soul driven artifacts, it would slice clean through any blood infused object. And body Voodoo, pah! Could barely make one fall off a table.”
“Surely I should start with the easier magics first? So that I could understand the mechanics, then progressively try the harder things.”
“This isn’t a game. Magic is pure power, it is addictive, moving between different styles is not recommended, especially for initiates. There are shortcuts, but there is something that is true with all magic, you can only get out what you put in.”
“What are the shortcuts?”
“You can give up something in exchange for greater magic power at ease.”
“Like what, my soul?”
“Yes, your soul. But not just that, to get this power you would be making a deal. With an Angel or a Demon, perhaps Death or one of his Reapers. They accept souls as a general currency but they have been known to want items, favours and titles as payment.”
“And how would one make such a deal?”
“By summoning the entity.”
“I will not be telling you how to summon spirit beings. I will however, be telling you more about them as we move into our next theory session.”
“Well if that’s how you want to play it, I need to get some dinner first. I missed lunch and it’s getting close to six. So I’m going to go out and bring some back some Chinese, do you want me to bring you back something? A book mark? Some whiteout?”
Maeve and Reese had gone back to the Refuge. Maeve grabbed the keys to her temporary room from Red and made the arduous climb up to it. They had an elevator but she refused to use it, she needed to do something with all the time on her hands.
The room was standard, full of self cleaning furniture and a lack of natural light. She ripped the blinds open and pushed out the windows as far as they could go. She opened the small closet that came with the room. On the inside face of the wooden door a ritual template was carved in, for space linking. She pulled a small piece of cylindrical glass from her pants around the same size as a large permanent marker.
Using it like a crayon she drew on several new symbols below the template, in a deep fluorescent blue. Maeve didn’t own anywhere to store her belongings so she had found a different way to drag her clothes around.
Once she had completed her additions to the door she put away her glass marker. Pulling out another object from her pocket. It was a small white rock, some pumice. Putting it between her mouth and the door she blew on it. Black smoke lightly poured out flowing towards the door. The smoke touched the symbols. It was suddenly sucked up into the door without a trace.
Satisfied, Maeve closed the closet and went off to the bathroom. By the she would finish in the shower the tentacled new pet she has spawned in the door should have moved all of her clothes out of her pocket dimension.
Reese was drinking at the bar talking to the examiner’s office on speaker once Maeve had changed and come down again.
“Sorry Reese, we’ve been testing every hair, skin fragment and drop of blood we pulled from the garage. None of it has turned up as anyone else.”
“You still have a lot to go through right?” Reese asked.
“We started with the batches that were most likely from someone else, it’s not looking good.”
“Keep trying but you can put this on the back burner then. Thanks for your help.”
“Anytime… “ Reese hung up.
“So we’re onto plan B then.” Maeve swiveled towards him in the bar chair.
“What’s plan B?”
“I was hoping you knew.” Reese just shook his head and leant his arms on the bar. “Do you have a case list for Saida?”
“Mr. Red?” Reese forwarded the question on.
“Huh?” He stuck his head out from the kitchen
“Do we know what Saida was working on recently?”
“Uh, last thing we sent her to was a routine settling for some Serkett that had just moved here.”
“Was that the best idea? The Serkett were not happy about her even existing.” Maeve put in.
“They came into the fold willingly, her settling them in was is a requirement we set on them which they accepted.” Reese answered.
“Either way, they aren’t soulless. Plus Sam and Alix have already questioned them.” Red added.
“I think that we should go over there anyway, Sam and Alix aren’t as pushy as I am.”
“…although most spirit beings have what could be called godly power, none of them have omniscience nor prescience.”
“Prescience?” she asked through the noodles in her mouth.
“They can’t see the future. Why would I translate to that if you didn’t understand it?”
“I’ve heard that word before but I wasn’t sure of the meaning.”
“Right. So, they aren’t all knowing, in fact they seem to know only as much as anyone else most of the time. However, the Choir of Gabriel and the Shades of Mammon have been able to look into past events, even take someone there to witness it. At a hefty price of course.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of this Sunday school. Could you tell me something else? I was attacked by a fire monster, could you tell me about that?” Whiskey had been quietly eating the whole time. Finally finishing her meal she spoke up.
“Fine.” Guide set himself down but open on her desk with a visual sigh. “What was this fire monster called?”
“I think they called it an Afeet.”
“An Afeet attacked you? Why?”
“I sort of jumped in between a fireball and Isaac.”
“But Isaac has shielding runes, he wouldn’t have been hurt by an Afeet fireball.”
“Yeah, thanks, I know that now. It was something called a slow burn though.”
“Oh, well that may have ended up doing some damage. Hold on, you jumped in front of a fireball, having never seen Isaac, or even magic before?”
“Are you stupid or brave? I guess it’s a bit of both.”
“Thanks again.” Whiskey glared at him. “Stop trying to change the subject, what exactly is an Afreet?”
“It is a one of the descendants of Cain. Particularly one that holds only the curse of fire.”
“Wait… Cain. As in Cain and Abel?”
“Ugh.” Whiskey threw the empty takeaway container into the bin by her desk. “Back to Sunday School I guess.”