My normal as anything we have around here sister did more to educate me in the next hour and a half than the all the reading, talking and questioning of the previous two months had done combined. If this job came with a budget, I’d hire her to educate every new slayer. Seriously.
Unlike other slayers who instinctively know quite a bit – but don’t instinctively know what you don’t know – my sister just assumed we were starting from scratch and went from there. She moved on from things I already knew – as soon as I passed her quizzes – and hit everything she could think of that I really needed to know.
That proved to be quite a lot. Color is important but it isn’t static – like people, creatures can change over time. Each of the three colors is measured on a 10 point scale by those who can detect color. Higher is better so Thompkins 7 was actually pretty high.
Possession is more complicated. For the most part, it isn’t ownership – and in the few exceptions where it is, only the Mistress herself can actually ‘own’ a creature. Possession is usually a kind of patronage. The Mistress (or whichever true born happens to be involved) is the patron. The slayer that takes possession is the steward – this explained why Thompkins had called me that several times – I had been meaning to ask. Yes, any creature possessed will obey the steward as if obeying the Mistress herself. That meant I had to be even more careful of possession than of my command ability – my off the cuff comments could become law.
But the creature gets more out of it – the increased chance of ‘achieving’ a soul. Dispossessed creatures (yes, there’s a word for it – and yes, Lisa knew it) cannot be safely around humans, not even the benign forms can be around humans a lot. But without that contact, it is difficult to impossible to remain clean or unblooded – which is a necessary part of achieving.
For Thompkins, the issue is remaining clean – doing no harm to innocent humans. That sounds easier than it is – even though as a function of his type he protects kids, he still emanates a lot of power that can be harmful over time. He also is as susceptible as anyone else to temptation – like the temptation of having kidnapping scum for dinner. With no soul, he’s not considered a moral actor (that is weird as heck to me too – he’s certainly trying to behave morally) so nothing short of outright defiance of God counts as sin right now. He has to be as harmless as possible to the people around him, even the bad ones. Not an easy row to hoe.
For the werewolves, the issue is less complicated but harder to accomplish – they must remain ‘unblooded’. Blooding is simply blood letting – having drawn human blood, any human blood. Once blooded – which for an average werewolf happens the first time they transform – it takes 1000 years of not drawing human blood at all to be considered unblooded again – then and only then they can work toward achievement.
Being possessed or in a pack makes it much, much easier on the creature. A werewolf in the Mistress’ pack simply cannot hurt a human without her direct command. A possessed creature with its steward can be around humans safely almost constantly – his power is contained in the possession and doesn’t harm anyone.
That explained why Thompkins reacted the way he did – from his point of view, he’d gained a lot more than he lost. Having been born a creature with parents to teach him well, he had been striving toward ‘cleanliness’ his whole life. There would be a cleansing period similar to that of the blooded creatures but it lasted only a year and a day. Then he too, could work toward achievement.
Gaining a soul is a lot more than just playing nice in the sandbox. Only God can grant a soul. There is no Bible for soul achievement – nor are there hard and fast rules. Piety, prayer, charity, and love are the four ‘pillars’ but when and how a soul is exactly achieved, only God decides. It’s a dark path with no flashlight. Just a Voice – that’s how Lisa said the books describe it. A Voice saying ‘follow’ and leading out of the darkness.
I’m more of a ‘turn on the headlights’ kind of guy – but it’s not my business to tell God how to do His business. Over the years, I’ve come to see the wisdom in the process. I guess because I have seen it happen a few times now – and there’s an enormous amount of spiritual healing that comes along the way.
You wouldn’t think creatures, as powerful as they are, would be hurting. You’d be wrong – whether created or born, all creatures are in spiritual pain. They instinctively know they are missing something – something they can’t get back. Werewolves and vampires aren’t just feeding to continue to live when they attack humans – their confused spirits are hoping to capture what’s missing in themselves – the souls that is there in their victim.
That can never work – which creates a vicious cycle. Some creatures resist – they attack only to sustain themselves. Others, in anger and pain, attack without reason, striking out at a world they cannot comprehend. Some of these can still be helped – some can even be possessed or brought into the pack. Others refuse – they chose to follow the darkness. Those are the ones that have to be slain.
It was sobering, to tell the truth. Lisa went on to explain that slayers have an instinctive knowledge – they know when to strike and when not to. Crystal had let a werewolf and a vampire live – circumstance? I began to doubt it. I had let two werewolves live because killing them felt wrong. Now I knew it was the right decision. And it was comforting to know that Someone was in the driver’s seat to make sure I knew when to slay and when not to.
I had a new respect for my little sister. She’d understood more than I did. And not just from reading Momma’s books – she pulled out her Bible as well to explain a few things. She made connections I’d have never seen.
So, inadvertently, I’d solved the Thompkins problem. He would have his cleansing period and then I had no doubt he’d go on to achieve. Once ensouled, he would be as human as the rest of us – once gained, a soul cannot be lost. Meaning they cannot ever again be made into creatures – salvation is a gift to be accepted or not and that is a choice only a soul can make. I knew what Thompkins would chose – that was not in any doubt. There would be a white wedding in my little sister’s future with a good, God fearing, human being as the groom.
I was careful not to smile at her during my epiphany – she’d have creamed me. Having straightened out her big brother as much as possible for the night – and impressed the heck out of our mother who had listened in as she cleaned the kitchen where we sat – Lisa decided to say her good nights. She trotted back across the hall to speak to Thompkins then came back, kissed Momma and trotted off to bed. I put things on the top shelf for Momma, agreed that my ‘normal’ little sister was something else and with my own kiss for Momma, trotted back to my apartment.