The blade Thomas had ordered forged by the smith, Fenn, was unique. I had never seen one like it. Tom told me he had known he would need it upon facing his brother, Harlan, and he knew this only because of a dream he’d had sometime before he’d found Molly Bishop in the Caribbean. In that dream he held a silver sword—a saber of sorts—that held in its hilt a bloodstone.
Bloodstones are gems that have always been connected to vitality and immortality. Bloodstones may lend great strength to a person who carries one without coming into direct contact with it, but they can also sap the life from a man in mere moments, should their alluring surface so much as brush the skin. They are discreet, immensely dense areas of life generating a force—much like a massive body generates gravity. A bloodstone pulls at sources of life as one would imagine a gravitational force pulls on an object. Things coming too close experience a stronger tug, while things keeping just enough distance can pull back. In this way, life can actually be taken from a bloodstone for the owner’s benefit.
Not as popular as holy magic (light-producing spells), bloodstones are often used as defence against vampires. The bloodstone has a particularly deadly thirst for the near-limitless life force that exists in anecrotic tissue. The rate at which it drinks the life of a vampire is enough to turn one of them to ash in the blink of an eye.
Thomas may not have known why his dreams compelled him to commission the crafting of the sword, which he called “Brother,” but he would discover why in time. The blade was also special because it held powers beyond what was lent to it by the bloodstone. Brother was what gemseekers and sorcerers call a “soul well.”
A soul well is any inanimate artifact that has the capacity to steal any number of lives from any number of living beings and house them within the artifact for the user’s purposes. Needless to say, such artifacts are rare. Soul wells are historically most sought after by necromancers for the purpose of implanting stolen lives into the bodies of the dead, whom they use as personal slaves or guardians. It has been discovered that a soul well also strips any and all curses from its target as well, because curses affix themselves to a life, not a body.
The reader will recall that, according to folklore, those who are bitten and infected with the werewolf curse must kill their infectors in order to remove the curse from their body. Folklore is correct, yet it spares us the most important details. The infected must have a soul well in his possession upon killing the infector. Because any two lives are very different but curses are not, a soul well will almost always sap a werewolf curse from both a slain werewolf and his or her infected killer. At the same time it drains the life force from the slain. It is important to keep in mind that curses are not the same as sicknesses. The werewolf curse, for example, is passed like a sickness, but is not one. A curse can be stripped of a body with a soul well, nullifying the effects of a curse, but the effects themselves cannot be stripped in this way. They will disappear in time, yes, but recovery is needed.
A carrier of the werewolf curse cannot kill any other carrier and hope to be cured. Since a werewolf’s curse is most like his infector’s, one hoping to relieve himself of it must find the lupomorph who infected him. It is also relevant to note that the vampire curse cannot be removed by any known means. If it is taken from the body, the body experiences instant atrophy. This is one crucial difference between the curses because while both vampires and werewolves’ children are born with their parents’ curses, a werewolf may remove the curse, while a vampire’s condition is permanent.
Thomas was wise to create Brother as a weapon and a soul well. The more intimate a relationship a soul well and a death share, the more effective the process, and the more likely any curses will be completely absorbed. Still, a soul well need not be created with a weapon. It may be as simple as an old shoe, a piece of magic cloth, or even something as small as a ring.
April 28, 1833