Cain and I trained outside the church for a bit while Aira watched. Aside from Cain’s display of “I’m better than you” he was actually a very good teacher. I think I’ll be able to really hone my skills if he’s willing to continue to train with me. I believe, with what we’ve been pulled into, that we’ll all need to hone our skills. Especially since banishment left me rather weak.
While we were training Gabriel, the arch angel, came down. Said he’s found us by looking the places “he couldn’t see”, meaning that somehow Edric’s wards against heaven aren’t as effective as we’d thought. Although he is the angel of knowledge so perhaps he had another way? Gabriel said he was taking Aira with him to discuss the events that had happened with her. I tried to get him talking a bit, hoping there would be a way to convince him to leave, or perhaps Edric would step in and banish him, but Gabriel is an arch angel and his will, this time, couldn’t be stopped. He offered a piece of advice though…and from what I could tell he was genuine in his want to help us; and then he took Aira. He did seem to actually want the truth of the situation from her and not to hurt her. I know she’s innocent and am hoping this conversation with Gabriel will lead to an ally…but if I’m wrong…we’ll have to find a way to retrieve her from heaven.
There was nothing to do after Gabriel had taken Aira, but continue. We decided to follow up on the lead that Gabriel proved…head to a bar, there would be a man sitting alone, we’ll need him. Edric was resting so Cain and I left to go to the bar, a place called Vanity. Cain seemed familiar with the establishment and we were able to get in easily enough. After briefly looking around it was obvious who Gabriel intended us to meet. A man, sitting alone in the back, radiating with power. Cain and I approached him and talked with him a bit. Found out he is a warlock named Marcus Solomon and knows very powerful soul magic. Fortunate. Perhaps Gabriel did send a bit of luck our way. But before we were able to leave with Marcus a man recognized Cain and punched him…..I don’t remember much after that, until the fog cleared and Cain had me wrapped up. Turns out training with him, learning his skill, also transferred his curse. Or at least part of it. When the man hit Cain, I blacked out, letting the blood lust of the mark take over, and killed three men before Cain could stop me. At least Marcus seemed to understand we were intentionally hurting people and agreed to leave with us.
We took him to his place and told him everything, something Edric would later reprimand me about, but Marcus seemed to have some understanding for soul magic and told us there was a different way to accomplish our goal. We don’t have to consume souls, we can bind with them. Marcus agreed to meet with Edric, but the two have a history…or at least have poor opinions of one another based on reputation and Edric was a bit reluctant to meet, he did agree and we all went to Marcus’ bookshop to discuss the matter. Marcus pulled his wife, Katherine, into the situation and they told us how we could bond with the souls to access their power versus consuming them. Edric agreed to give this a shot since it’s what Aira and I wanted. The Solomon’s can help us track viable souls and asked the criteria for the type of soul we’d want to bind to. Based on Aira and I’s last conversation, I was able to establish that both of us would want to bind ourselves to as good of people as we could…which, since we’re looking for supernatural beings, isn’t a small ask, but the Solomon’s agreed and began the search. I asked if they would track down a Djinn first as I’m hoping the Djinn will help me with Mason’s situation. They located one in Helena, Montana and Cain and I went to track him down.
Turns out the Djinn was trying to lead a somewhat solitary life, out in the woods, off grid to be left alone and not hurt people. He only fed when people wondered into the woods and even then, didn’t kill them simply made them sick for a few days. I appealed to his sense of honor and good character and he eventually agreed. I’m not sure this convincing thing is something I’m actually good at. Surprising, since I never had an issue with getting souls to cross when I reaped them. Perhaps getting people to agree to teamwork is something different.
We returned to the Solomon’s bookstore with the Djinn, Reese, in tow and discussed our next move. Reese agreed to help infiltrate the Chicago Djinn family to try and track Mason for me and the Solomon’s said we had to have 11 total different supernatural souls to bind with…the binding only able to take place once all 11 were present. Confiding in Marcus that I struggled with the negotiations he suggested that I track down the Siren soul next so she could help with recruitment. I agreed and after Katherine did a locator spell I went on my way. Cain stayed behind to get Reese set up to start his infiltration.
I arrived in Nashville, TN at the location that the siren was tracked to. Walking into an upscale bar I could hear music…I don’t think I’ve listened to music in a very long time, but what stopped me in my tracks was his voice. It was familiar, too familiar, and I instantly wondered just how powerful this siren was to affect me like that until I saw his face….the hair was perhaps shorter and he was slightly older than the Akecheta I knew, but all the same it was him. Or at least a genetically similar version. Surely fate wouldn’t put him in my path now?
I couldn’t help but listen to his song, and then his next song…and his next. As his set was wrapping up I got a drink for him at the bar, a honey lagger with real honey….something that Akecheta used to enjoy. I was going to wait for the siren to head out and try to approach him when he was alone, but he walked to the bar and I simply couldn’t help myself. Perhaps coming alone was not a good idea. I materialized and handed him his drink. He was surprised, but watched me with familiarity…perhaps he felt it as well? or was he simply playing me? I told him who and what I was and that I knew what he was and needed his help. He told me his name was Gregory and offered to buy me dinner while we talked.
We ate together, an italian place, and he easily agreed to help me…in fact it seemed like a given and that the dinner wasn’t to hear my request, but rather just to be with each other. I ended up telling him my entire history with Akecheta and Death and everything else. He shared how he became a Siren and how he came to Tennessee. Talking with him, being so near, it was both unnerving and euphoric at the same time. I haven’t felt surprised or flustered in so long, I assumed I couldn’t feel those things anymore. Perhaps when we all soul bound and I gained the ability to taste food my propensity for emotion has also returned. Regardless of the reason I relished in being near him after so long. He must have felt some of the same and asked to spend more time just us before going back to the group. We went to an theatre and watched an old movie. He tried to kiss me….something I haven’t shared with another man aside from Akecheta…and I began to wonder if perhaps Gregory was playing me. Cain and Marcus both had literally just reprimanded me for being too quick to trust, too quick to reveal our plans and information…and this man was a Siren after all. Perhaps he knew exactly what to do to get me hooked on him. I could tell I offended him and we left the movie early to go to his apartment so he could pack and we could be on our way. I couldn’t stop myself and held him hand as we left.
At Gregory’s apartment we talked a bit more while he packed and he eventually convinced me I was a poor food source for him since I lacked the strong emotions others are quicker to feel and that he wouldn’t waste his time on me if he didn’t also feel a pull. I suppose I should have been offended, but I was relieved. I ended up letting him kiss me….perhaps it was selfish, but it was nice to pretend that we simply were together and the world wasn’t falling apart. I may have spent too much time “recruiting” him and so we teleported to the location Cain gave me where the recruits could gather.