A Question of Faith

Manhattan - St. Patrick's Cathedral

Cruciform in design, the cathedral is divided into a nave, two transepts, and a choir. Large arches and columns line the far side of the pews, all the way to the pulpit.

Marble floors, and antique stained glass windows add a bit of austerity to the church.


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Gideon Hastings Bryn Blackwell

Churches. Crosses and crucifixes. Candles and a holy water cistern. The outgrowth of a religion that is so young and prides itself on being so very, very old. Holy symbols that mean little to him, and have little effect on him either. Some vampires, mostly the young, cringe at the sight and avoid churches, not realizing that it is the power of the faith and not the power of the symbols that will cause the demon within to recoil and rebel.

It amuses Gideon to chose this site, simply because he does thrive on doing the unexpected. He walks slowly forward, even stops to gaze upon the crucifix hanging over the altar before stepping into the pew and seating himself.

"Beautiful church," Gideon remarks quietly. "Not quite as old and careworn as those in Europe, but still it carries the weight of years."


It is rare for Bryn to set foot in a Catholic church. Though it is part of Christianity, he was raised Anglican at the Church in Wales, and thus, prefers to attend services at an Anglican church. He has no issues with Catholicism though, they simply choose to have a difference of opinion in regards to who is in power within the Church.

"It is. One of the older within the city, I believe." Amazingly, Bryn has not gone into a lot of the religious history of the city. Simply because he has been focused on other things.

"I appreciate you meeting with me, Gideon. I had several more questions in regards to the soulmate principle, and was wondering if you could answer them, or perhaps point me to someone who can."


"Your curiosity has been furthered piqued, or is it your client who is desiring more information?" It's idle curiosity. If Bryn chooses not to answer, Gideon will not be offended, nor will her press the issue.

"Please, feel free to ask. If I am unable to provide you with answers, or with suitable answers, then I'll point you in the appropriate direction."



It really is a matter of both of those things. "My client should have full information, and my own curiosity is piqued in regards to some matters that we did not discuss previously."

Bryn is careful to not mention that he is curious for Serafine's sake.

"We have discussed the benefits for the vampire in such a pairing, but what would be the benefits for the partner if they were human or another supernatural? What would cause them to want to stay with said vampire?"


The sorcerer may say little, but Gideon is well-versed in reading others and reading between the lines. He observed quite closely the interaction between Bryn and Serafine. It was very plain to him that the pair is quite enamored of one another, and given the openness and publicity of their relatioship, it is clear that Bryn is not worried about what The Priory will think or say. He can't speak with one hundred percent certainity, but he suspects that the pursuit of knowledge that drives Bryn is making him examine his relationship with Serafine, in the same light as the relationship of his client.

"Beyond the possibility of a lifelong companion and the opportunity to one day be turned?" Gideon asks.

He crosses one leg over the other and turns his body toward Bryn. "The benefits to the human come with the establishment of a blood bond. A true, permanent blood bond, which is built when the pair share blood. The human is healthier, and will heal more quickly and have greater longetivity. For a supernatural, their innate gifts are strengthened. A witch or a sorcerer, for example, can cast stronger spells and will notice an increase in their magic potency. They will recover more quickly from using magic. A werewolf will find that they have better control over themselves, and when they shift. They will be even faster, stronger, have keener senses."


"At the point where the bond is permanent, there is an emotional and empathical link that makes sexual congress phenomenonal."


The sorcerer is aware that Gideon reads as much into things as he himself does. It both annoys and amuses Bryn to no end to know that Gideon has more than likely figured out his questioning, simply from the day he 'broke in' to Serafine's apartment.

"Not everyone is prepared to stay with someone for an eternity," he points out quietly. If Kieran and Brooke are soulmates, the chances of the pair remaining together for a long time is there, but at the same time he cannot see the witch asking to be turned.

"How, and when does the bond become permanent? Is it possible for it to become a permanent thing without either party knowing about it?"


"How very true," Gideon agrees simply. He tugs on the sleeves to his suit jacket and considers the sorcerer. "Tell me, hypothetically speaking, if it were you, would you be willing to stay with someone for eternity? If you could achieve it without giving up your magic or becoming a vampire?"

"We are speaking of something that is beyond the ken of normal magic and ritual as we think of it. Making it permanent is a metaphysical thing that appears to be consigned to the joint consent of both parties involved, though it does not seem to have any particular ritual or rules."

Gideon looks forward again, brow furrowing. "When a blood bond exists, the soulmate pair need only to decide that they wish to make a full commitment to one another. They may do it verbally. They may do it legally or ritually. The important factor is that it must be a joint, heartfelt decision for a permanent committment."


"Hypothetically speaking, it would entirely depend upon whom the someone in question were." Bryn glances behind them, then begins to walk along the aisle of pews. They do have the church to themselves at this hour, but it wouldn't be unbelievable for tourists to consider entering.

"There are ways to achieve it without turning. Spells. Potions. Things that have been long lost." That does not answer Gideon's question though.

"If it could be done, and for the right person, I would strongly consider it."

The sorcerer can't help but chuckle at that. "So basically, they make a commitment as a human couple would, to stay with one another, and that is all that is needed to make it permanent?"


Gideon strolls casually along beside Bryn, very unaffected by the holy symbols that adorn the church. "We are dealing with old magic for lack of a better descriptions. Ideas and occurrences, supernatural things that predate the knowledge of many of the oldest of my kind. Possibly only the fae have knowledge and awareness that far back."

Gideon gives a small, wry grin. "In essence, yes. A normal, human, commitment is all that is required."

Gideon tugs his sleeves and straightens his suit coat, staring directly at the altar. "I chose a hand fasting." The words are said as casaully as if he were discussing the weather.


"It is all a matter of intent. These days, I do suppose the pair in question could simply pledge their eternal committment to one another via Twitter or Facebook and have the same result." Modern technology is wonderful, but there are days that Gideon misses the easier, simpler times.


"Anyone who would pledge themselves via social media needs a thwack upside the head." Bryn is potentially old-fashioned, but the truth of the matter is writing 'I love you's' and marking a status on Facebook as 'in a relationship' seems to be a ridiculous way to make that type of commitment. It should be done face to face.

"A hand fasting seems a noble way to do it. A commitment without needing a legal document, and beyond that for a vampire likely more of a commitment than a traditional wedding." Depending, of course, on the age of the vampire.

"So were the human to turn after the commitment was made, the pair would be bound until one of them died. How does the death of a soulmate affect the one left behind?"


"You are not going to get a disagreement from this quarter," Gideon remarks. "There is an entire generation that is growing up without what were considered requisite social skills only a generation ago. It is rather disconcerting and saddening. I begin to consider the merits of returning to a secret, underground existence until the pendulum swings back in the different direction."

Gideon listens, but says nothing, allowing Bryn to mull over things on his own. In his personal opinion, Serafine Roque is the perfect candidate for a traditional hand-fasting, though that woman is just human and bubbly enough that she would likely opt for a true wedding. There is a thought. A vampire and a sorcerer getting married in a traditional human wedding.

He is silent for a moment. "Painfully."


"It's a deep, binding bond. When the other dies, that connection is severed. Even if it is not a sudden death, the breaking of the bond is quite painful and shocking."


"Times change. Social etiquette changes. It does not mean that it is proper or wise, but it is what society is now." Bryn often wishes he could hide until people begin to be more properly social again, but he knows and accepts that for some, social media is a way of staying in contact during busy, hectic lives.

"So when one dies, it feels like the other will want to die."

Rubbing his hand on the back of his neck, he stops at a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and exhales a sigh. "I am sorry that you have had to experience that, Gideon." Silent for a few moments he considers what he has just been told.

"Are there ways to sever the connection without death?"


Gideon is hopeful that it will happen, but hope is different from pragmaticism and the world will continue to move forward technologically. He hopes that it never moves so far that social interaction face-to-face is done away with completely, if only because that will make feeding so much more difficult.

"It was her choice," Gideon says quietly. "I do not and have not ever begrudged her that desire. I much prefer that she lived and died at her own choosing than remain living a life that she found too overwhelming and distressing." It gave her peace and happiness, and though Gideon will never admit it, the only reason he went on afterward was because of a promise extracted. He is honorable, and has always been a man of his word.

"Yes, however, this is the point where I tell you that I have little knowledge of it. My fae sources hinted at it, and all the methods, or perhaps the same method being referred to in different ways, requires fae magic and knowledge of deeper, older magic than any magic user knows or wields."


"Still, I cannot imagine going through that." Bryn claps his hand to the man's shoulder and exhales a sigh. "You are far more noble than I think I could ever be if I were in your situation." It is true. Bryn doesn't think he would be able to stick around and watch someone he loved die.

"So there are ways if someone outside of the pair wished to break the bond." That causes the sorcerer to frown, and he knows that he will have to look into it further. See if Grainne has the information that he seeks. Not that he wishes to break a bond, but he should have all the information.

"It is perhaps a good thing that the magic is old and hidden, because to break it would likely kill both parties, I am assuming?"


"We find our strength and nobility when we are tested," Gideon turns to look at the sorcerer, regarding him with eyes that are old and carry the weight of too many years, falling and rising civilizations and wars and strife behind them. "I hope that you are never tested in such a way." If he had to predict, however, Gideon thinks it is Serafine who will be tested, and it is here that her humanity may well be her failing.

"Yes, though those methods are not easily discovered. Also, an individual outside would need to know that there was a bond to break, but I do imagine that if it was done inappropriately, it would result in the deaths of both individuals."

Gideon rubs his hand over the arm of the nearest pew. "I do not have enough information to answer with one hundred percent certainity. However, I can contact one of my sources and discover if there is more information to be had regarding breaking the bond without death."


"We do." Bryn has been through things that he wouldn't wish on anyone else, but nothing like losing someone he cared about so deeply. "I do think that everyone is tested in such a way at one point in their lives or another. It is humanity's greatest flaw that we cannot accept that we will be tested when we least expect it."

The sorcerer considers what he is being told, and frowns slightly.

"It is rare when you do not have the information, Gideon. That was mere curiosity on my part. I have no intention of attempting to break my client's bond unless they so desire. I have enough information to tell them that it would be a risky endeavor, and that should be enough."


"Though if you do find more information on it, I would definitely be willing to make a fair exchange for the information. As it is, I already owe you."


"It is not something that I have been asked before, nor information that I have sought. It was sufficient enough in my experience to know that such exists and where I may begin seeking if I should ever have need of it." Gideon stops and shoves his hands into the pockets of his pants, making it look quite effortless and gracefully flattering. "I felt, and still feel, that it is safer for those involved in such to know that the means of destruction are extremely difficult to come by at best."


"You are good for your words and your debts, Bryn. I have no fear that when I am in need of something, you shall be able to come through for me."


"Though I would not worry about the information on your neophyte problem. It was not you whom sought my knowledge with regards to that issue. Merely coincidental that the other party as well as yourself, was seeking said information."


"It is not information that I would have sought either, but I am well aware that my client's Maker is a rather nasty piece of work, and I could see them attempting to destroy any bit of happiness that my client might have in their life." Bryn rubs his hand over the back of his neck and exhales a slow breath. "I really do not have need of the spell or charm that could do such a thing to someone else. I know that it exists. I know what it means. My concern is to find a way to stop it."

Dropping his hand, he raises his brow. Then he laughs.

"Serafine is the one who asked you to come to the city, right when it was beneficial for me to speak with you as well. That woman never ceases to amaze me. Though if you will allow it, I will take on her debt to you as well."


"Then I do hope that your client will take care and use this information wisely."

"The Maker-Child relationship can be a tricky one. Some Makers are more prone to fits of ownership and possession than others, and are willing to do anything in their power to keep their control. Others treat the relationship more like that of a mentoring at most distant, family and/or lovers at the closest. Unfortunately, we have no set rules or guides on how we introduce a neophyte to the world or raise them up in it."

Gideon smiles at Bryn's laughter. "Serafine Roque is a remarkable woman. She hides a very quick and sharp intellect and observant mind behind a pretty face and a helpless facade. Men and kingdoms have fallen for less." Gideon is not giving anything away; Bryn should have figured this out by now. However, if he hasn't, Gideon will consider it a freebie for the sorcerer. Not that he believes Serafine is manipulating Bryn. The interaction he has seen tells him that there is a true relationship there beyond the typical feeding and shagging needs of a Karneros.

"I have oft found myself fascinated by Serafine and her Maker. For one created as he was, and trained as he was, it is an interesting contrast to see how much humanity and gentleness he encouraged his Child to retain."


"That would be my hope as well. All I can do is provide it to them. What they do with the information is then their own." Bryn cannot force Kieran to take heed and use the information wisely, or to keep his relationship with Brooke from his Maker.

"Yes, I have noted that. I do suppose it also depends on the Maker, and the one they are choosing to turn. I have seen that a single Maker can have several very different Children."

Bryn nods in agreement of Gideon's assessment of Serafine. "I will admit that it was her humanity that drew me to her at first, but each new facet that she reveals is equally impressive. I am quite glad that she was able to contact you."


"Yes, the personality of the Child is a factor, but a Maker does have a good deal of sway and influence in those early years and decades."

"I imagine that she will not be happy with you assuming her debt, but it is not I who will have to smooth her ruffled feathers. I will accept your offer."

Gideon lifts a brow and gives a faint smirk to the sorcerer. "She is resourceful. A good ally to have, though somewhat willful and stubborn. From my associations with her, I would suggest that you do not underestimate her, Bryn, nor should you try to clip her wings. Women like that are a delicate balance, but the relationship, whether it be business, friendly or romantic, can be quite rewarding." Despite his age, the words are not said in a patronizing tone. Bryn Blackwell is smart, and has probably come to the conclusion himself. Gideon is merely underscoring what he has learned in his centuries of experience.

"I think she suits you, and you her."


"I do not imagine so," Bryn says, chuckling. "But as it is my case that she requested your help for, it is the least I can do." If Serafine does get upset over it, he will be more than happy to smooth any ruffled feathers or hurt feelings.

"I have no intention of underestimating her, or clipping her wings. We are simply going through a transition period where I need to get used to the specific quirks of her bloodline and the fact that I really do not like to share." He has no qualms discussing this with Gideon, because he knows well that the man is not going to use the information against him.

"That is high praise coming from you."


"Yes, I do imagine that would be difficult given her particular needs." Gideon has never been able to decide if being Karneros would be a blessing or a curse. Their requirements keep them close to humanity, their siren call makes it child's play to attract prey, but they are a slave to their need to feed upon lust.

It must be difficult for a human to be involved with one like that.

"Then know as well that I do not say it lightly." Gideon nods his head. "Seldom do I see a mixed pair, a vampire and a mortal, who compliment one another." Once Bryn gets over his very human jealousy issues, they could be quite the pair.


"It is." Rather difficult. Bryn knows that he cannot ask her to feed only from women forever. Perhaps he can request that the majority of those she feeds from be female, with one or two men that he's vetted to ensure that they won't harm her. It's something worth discussing.

"But I do try my best to think of it like steak. It is a meal, nothing more."

Bryn rubs the back of his neck, and raises his brow at the old vampire. "Then you feel as Serafine does that there is a possibility that the information you have given for my client suits us as well?"


"More likely than not, that is how she thinks of it as well." Their kind easily divides humans into food and playthings, and sometimes true companions, friends and romantic interests. It's a difficult mindset for humans to grasp, because to them, a cow is always a cow, but they are not forced to live among cows and pretend to be cows. The mental separation is a requirement because vampires need humans for their survival, but they cannot think of them all as individuals in their own right.

It's trickier with Karneros, Gideon knows. Having had the pleasure of seeing Kieran in his early days with Ysabel, and later witnessing Kieran and Sera enjoying the bounties of Europe, there can be no question that the Irish vampire is a hedonist and that he imparted some of that to his Child. However, enjoying the feeding is quite different from enjoying the source.

"Does she think that?"


"I hope so." Bryn is no stranger to how large Serafine's heart is. He could easily see her treating each 'meal' as an individual person. That's the part of her he really doesn't want to share. "It bears further discussion with her at any rate."

Pausing momentarily, he looks up at the statue. Exhaling a sigh, he nods. "Yes, she does. I cannot tell if it is just her fanciful thinking due to her creativity, or if she truly believes it to be the case."


"Apparently she did happen to enter into one of my dreams long before either of us had the information."


"I believe that the two of you complement one another," Gideon states again. He follows Bryn's gaze toward the statue. "I have observed the two of you separately and together, and in my short observations I have observed a minutia of interaction that speaks strongly toward complementary personalities." The pair responds to each other quickly and easily, in a more physical sense, often without realizing they are doing so. They appear to be in sync, anticipating the other's responses and requests before they come.

"You have a natural … draw towards one another."

Could the pair be soulmates? Gideon does not have enough data to make a reasonable guess.

"One has to think like a romantic to write romance," Gideon gives a soft chuckle. People would not think of vampires as romantics, but if any bloodline is to be romantic, it is the Karneros.

"Interesting." Gideon tilts his head, and studies Bryn. "She is unable to glamour you and I presume that she had not fed from you?"


"Unable to glamour me is something that we cannot test. No vampire is able to glamour me. I have a permanent runic spell etched into my body." Bryn keeps his eyes on the statue, finding it odd to be discussing vampires in front of the Blessed Virgin.

"We do have a natural draw toward one another though. The first night we met was over a murder case, and I can say without a doubt that my focus was drifting between her and the case." Which is an interesting thing for Bryn to have happen. He's generally so good at focusing on his work.

"At that point, she had not fed from me, no."


"I have not known you to be easily distractable," Gideon muses, turning away from the statue. He starts down the aisle again, at a slow and leisurely pace. It's an observation, not an agreement with the sorcerer, nor is it a disagreement. He has worked with Bryn before and knows that the man tends to be quite focused.

"Are you entirely certain that it was not the Karneros siren?" He plays devil advocate because Bryn is a man of reason and logic. The sorcerer needs to examine and re-examine things from all angles.

"That is not typical. I will not say impossible, because I do not know that it is impossible. I do know that I have not heard of it happening without some sort of blood or glamour connection. Unless there is an entirely different reason for such a connection. Magical or metaphysical."


"That is because I am not." Bryn allows a few seconds to pass before he turns to follow the vampire down the aisle. "I am usually entirely focused."

He pauses for a moment, considering. Could it have simply been the siren allure? "Positive," he says slowly. "I have had it used on me before. I know that the draw was entirely different."

Once he falls into step with Gideon again, he rubs the back of his neck. "I will need to find another way that she can test it."


Gideon gives the sorcerer a curious look. "Why must you test it? Why must she? Does it matter whether or not the pair of you are soulmates or merely compatible partners who found one another?"

"I have heard it said among mortals that 'Life is too short.' If you have formed a connection with Serafine and care for her, do the pair of you need to be soulmates?" Gideon exhales a sigh. "I understand that the scientist within you feels the need to examine and re-examine, but what does your instinct tell you, Bryn?"


It is a valid question. Why must they test it? Bryn slips his hands into his pockets, glancing at the vampire. "Because I do not want her to believe it to be true if it is not. I do not want her to hurt if she believes it with all her heart and then has to face up to it not being true. She believes it right now, just based on the information that you have previously given me."


"Life is too short for my kind. I am happy with the way things are with Serafine. With the way things are progressing." Bryn does not need the pair of them to be soulmates to be happy with her. "My gut instinct is to say that it is the case. I have loved women before, but it is nothing like this has been even though it has been only a few short months."


"I would suggest then, that the only test remaining would be to allow her to feed from you under controlled circumstances," Gideon says simply. He may as well be discussing mathematical facts or historical findings from the calm tones of his voice. "She will need to be hungry, but not starving, of course. Serafine is old enough that she knows her body's signals. She knows when she requires food and when she does not, and she knows how long she can stretch between feedings before she starts to fill the ill effects."


"If you wish for it to be more of a test, and not to allow influence via psychological yearnings, do not tell her it is your blood. Present it to her bagged or bottled as nothing more than a meal."

The Ancient vampire frowns a bit, "Unless, she has become acclimated to your blood, in which case, she'll know what it is anyway."


"She has tasted my blood. She would be able to tell it was mine." Bryn is certain of that. She could taste a drop of his blood in a glass. "It could still work as a test, however. If I let her feed fully from me, both of her needs, and see how long she goes without another feeding." He doubts that Serafine would starve herself simply in the hopes of the two of them being soulmates.

"I do have several pints in reserve at the Priory regardless."


"You have your test, then." Gideon looks over to the sorcerer. "If this is something you both desire, then you should pursue it and find out if it is true or not. It isn't to be taken lightly. Whatever old magic is responsible for allowing this bond to exist has a reason for it. If you chose to someday make the bonding permanent, if you are soulmates, we've already discussed that it is not something that can be simply ended and walked away from."

It goes without saying that Serafine will outlive Bryn, he will grow old and age while she will not, unless he choses magical means, turning or some other extraordinary methods to remain with her. "Surviving the loss is … hard." A minor understatement. "I believe that whatever power is behind this had a rather sick sense of humor."


"I never take things involving magic lightly," Bryn comments. "From what you have said, it is also quite dangerous to the vampire in question." That is something of a concern. He does not want to be a liability to Serafine, or wind up hurting her in any way. "I am presuming that it must be some sort of fae magic for it to be such a strong bonding." There will, of course, be research into it.

"Surviving any loss is hard, but I am well aware that this one would be much more difficult. I will proceed with extreme caution."

There is a moment where he pauses, glancing skyward. Then he exhales a sigh. "I am in your debt now, Gideon, for this information. Please do not hesitate to call on me should you need my assistance."

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