He could feel her emotions roiling through the bond. He held her bridal style in his lap, his lips brushing repeatedly against her forehead. "Tell me, Sookie."
She twisted to throw her arms around his neck. "I spoke to my Gran again."
He didn't need clarification. She'd had another dream, and it had upset her. "What did she say?"
"We talked about the baby."
was silent, briefly wondering if he should tell Sookie the rest of what
he knew about their baby and those that would follow. From her
demeanor, from the way she clutched at him, he realized it was more than
likely that Sookie's grandmother had already revealed to her the full
truth of their son growing inside her. There was no point in him
withholding anything now. "Did she tell you he is Odin reborn?"
Jerking back from his chest, her lips parted in a soundless gasp. Shock rolled over her like waves. "You knew?"
voice was a thrum of tenderness. He stroked her warm face with long,
gentle fingers. "Yes. I had planned to sit you down and tell you all of
it our first night home, but, after what happened at Fangtasia, I
decided you needed more time to come to terms with everything." She
leaned into his open palm and closed her eyes. "I only told you what I
did last night so you could understand that this is no longer about us
alone." He paused. In the ensuing silence, she opened her eyes to look
at him, his blue eyes were waiting for hers. "I did not mention our
son's former life because I did not want to overwhelm you."
"But you were planning on telling me before? You weren't going to hide it from me?" Her voice was achingly vulnerable.
I had planned to tell you everything I knew before the fiasco at
Fangtasia, and while I kept some things from you last night, I was
planning to fill you in on the rest as soon as I thought you were ready
to hear it."
She was still and thoughtful for long seconds. "Then I'm not upset with you."
eyes narrowed with speculation, his eyebrow arched. "You're not? You do
not feel as though omission is tantamount to a lie?" Eric felt hope
squeeze tightly in his chest. He had braced himself for her anger,
expected her hurt; he had not foreseen this.
Shaking her head,
Sookie said truthfully, "You were right to hold back. I doubt Odin told
you as much as my Gran told me, and if you had told me about the baby
being Odin I would have flipped and you wouldn't have had any of the
answers I needed." She touched his lips, tracing the seam with her
fingertips, her eyes soft. He pressed a kiss against them. "I wasn't
ready to hear the full truth last night, and you were right to keep it
from me. I believe you when you say you weren't planning to keep this
from me, so I'm not mad that you held back to protect me."
fisted his hair in her hands and pulled him down to her lips and kissed
him, gently, again and again, sighing against his mouth.
"Who are you, and what have you done with my Sookie?"
laughed. Tucking herself into his chest, she relaxed against him. "I
have to grow up, and so do you. You're right and this isn't about us
anymore." Taking one of his hands in hers, she settled it over her belly
and continued, "It's about our family. I get that we're supposed to do
something great for the world, but right now I want to talk about our
baby … and the ones that follow."
"So you are aware that we will have more children?"
"Yes. I know they are going to be the old gods reborn too."
Stroking his wide fingers over her belly, Eric pressed, "And how do you feel about that?"
an awful lot of sex, I don't know that I'm up for it," Sookie
acknowledged dimly, her voice giving the impression of displeasure. Eric
tensed visibly and checked the bond. Effervescent mirth exploded like
confetti across it. The minx was toying with him! He exhaled sharply.
"Sookie!" he said indignantly, shaking her teasingly. Her easy laughter warmed him and he found himself laughing back.
stilled. "Of course I'm nervous, Eric. They'll be so strong and have so
much power. I don't like to think of myself as some endless incubator,
but my Gran talked me down off the ceiling. It won't happen all at once,
thank God. This will stretch over thousands of years—I still can't wrap
my head around that, though."
She looked at him with
difficulty, her words remote. She could feel the movement of his lips in
her hair as he nuzzled her, inhaling deeply, her intoxicating scent
rushing into his mouth and nose. "Go on, lover. I'm listening," he
"She explained that they'll be our children,
that it's kind of like reincarnation. She told me that they probably
won't even remember their past lives and they'll be our children in
every way. So it doesn't matter who they were. It's who they're going to
be that is important to me, and that depends on us. We have to raise
"Apparently your Gran told you quite a bit. Will you
share it all with me? Or do you require time to think some elements of
it over like your other dream?"
Sookie weighed her options in the
pulse of a heartbeat. Telling Eric that Gran knew Jason was a lost
cause would mean he wouldn't put the effort into finding some way to
save him. She couldn't bear that. She was not ready to give him up. If
there was a way to break his bond, she trusted Eric would find it. And
regarding Gran's warning concerning Eric—what would be the point to tell
him? If it was going to happen, it would happen and she was powerless
to stop it. She could only mitigate the effects. Yes, she ached to think
he was going to hurt her. She wished she knew more of how and when and
why. Gran told her it wasn't going to be physical harm but she winced
inwardly thinking of him in his full fury. Things between them were
almost loving now, the distance she used to feel gone. She loved this
man, she needed him, needed him to acknowledge the love for her she knew
he felt. She inwardly steeled herself. Right now she had to focus on
her baby. "I'll tell you everything about the baby. We spoke about Jason
some, but that was between us."
"Fair enough. I am ready to listen to what you have to say."
held her hand, lacing it with his as she leaned into his chest again,
Sookie repeated her conversation with her Gran almost verbatim. He
listened patiently, without interruption, stroking up and down her arm
soothingly as she recounted her tale. When she was done she asked, "So
what do you think?"
"I think our future is going to be very interesting."
"Eric, that's not what I meant and you know it."
her effortlessly so that she straddled his lap now, he qualified,
"Sookie, there is much to think about. I am pleased that your
Grandmother answered so many of your questions, and, truthfully, many of
them are the same ones I would have." He smoothed a strand of hair back
off her forehead, their eyes locked. "I'm pleased our children will not
be born with more power than they can handle or we will be able to
control until they can control themselves. I am pleased your Gran
explained that these will be our children. Am I worried? Yes. Raising a
child is difficult even in the best of times, and it has been made clear
to the both of us we are in dangerous times. We have yet to know the
full scope of this prophecy but it is obvious we are on the precipice of
a crisis of immense proportions. However, you know I am always up for a
challenge," he grinned.
Eric had been born from a time where the
mantle of manhood was assumed early with the clutch of a shield and
swing of a sword. He was barely past eleven when he fought alongside his
father in his first battle. The success of it brought his village great
prosperity through the enslavement and trade of those defeated. Eric
had fought with a savagery that rivaled his older brothers, emboldened
by the reckless fearlessness of a child who did not believe in odds. He
had learned his skills of defense and attack by watching his father and
brothers, but his cunning for survival was a beauty innate. A thousand
years had passed and he was still a warrior, still a powerful force by
the very nature of the life he had lived. Women were inherently weaker,
smaller. His mate had to be protected, his children had to be watched
over. He would provide and care for both.
"We will get through
it, Sookie, and I will keep you safe." His mouth closed over hers, his
teeth nipping her bottom lip and sucking it between his teeth, wringing
from her a fierce moan from the streaking pleasure. His hands grasped
her knees and began to move up her thighs. She started to tremble.
"Eric?" Her voice held concern.
"Hmmm," he responded, eyes closed, fingers tracing the soft insides of her thighs, climbing upward.
"Eric." Louder now.
He opened his eyes.
Her brows drew down in apprehension. "You're not upset that I'm not going to be a vampire?"
gently cupped her face angling it to catch her eyes. Grinning, Eric
replied, "I'm actually very pleased about that." Her eyes widened in
surprise. He confirmed, "I know, I know what you're thinking, but it is
no longer true. For some time now, I have been saddened by the thought
of you losing your warmth. While I do not like the idea of you being
vulnerable in a human form, I can honestly say that I prefer you this
way. You are soft, and warm, and alive, and I am pleased you will always
be this way. I wanted you as my eternal companion and thought the only
way to assure that was in your turning. We have what is called a win-win
situation here. We both get what we want. I will simply have to make
sure that you are always properly protected so your humanity does not
"You don't seem very surprised by the fact I'm going to live for eternity but not have to be a vampire to do so."
not. Odin revealed this to me. It was one more thing I was intending to
speak with you about. I know you did not want to be turned, and thought
you would be particularly pleased with this development. It seems I was
never meant to but can keep you forever regardless." He cocked his head
curiously. "You seem to be taking the news well yourself."
A small, guilty smile curled Sookie's lips. "I've known since New York. I've had time to get used to it."
"Really? Is this another one of those things your Gran told you about in your dream in New York?"
Ahmose told me. After our fight, I spoke to him while you were dead. He
told me I would never be turned, but not to tell you until the prophecy
was revealed. Well, we know some of it now. He said you weren't ready
to hear it at the time."
"He was probably right to have you keep this from me."
"Are you mad?"
Sometimes, as individuals, we need to come to an understanding of
issues before us in our own time and method but now using our shared
point of reference, I think. It proves we are beginning to understand
each other, and that our connection is strong." He moved to put his arms
around her as she encircled his waist with her own, drawing tightly
against each other, her head tucked under his chin.
stretched between them as they each ruminated. There were still oceans
of difference to be traversed before they were on common ground. Eric
could feel Sookie tense in his embrace and leaned back to regard her.
"What is it, my Sookie?"
"I don't care about the prophecy, Eric. I
want our decisions to be based off what is best for our family.
Whatever Niall or this seer has to say might be important, and I get
that we're supposed to help the world and all, but ultimately I want all
of our choices to revolve around what is best for our children."
agree. We will aid the cause of this prophecy as best we can, but, as
you say, our first priority will be our children, our family. We will
hear out the Pythoness and Niall, and then we will decide how to proceed
with our new knowledge. If I think it is safest to take you and our son
away and hide you from the world, if I believe the only way to keep you
safe is to abandon this life, I will do it. We'll leave it all behind
if we must, prophecy or no."
"I swear it."
leaned forward again, pressing tightly against him. His arms swept
around her once more and held her firmly, his mouth blazing a trail of
kisses across her forehead, down her cheeks and against her throat. She
felt so tiny in his embrace.
She tilted her head to meet his
mouth that swooped down to settle hot and hungrily hers. He kissed her
leisurely with a lazy sensuality, increasing his pressure until she
could feel its heat in her toes. She gasped for breath against him,
pulling away to breathe in rasping lungfuls of air. "Oh Eric," she
moaned, melting against him. She had not known it was possible to feel
like this, to become so disconnected and yet feel so whole with another.
"I love you."
"My Sookie," he murmured, his head again bowing to
hers. She parted her lips and let him explore her mouth, their tongues
touching and tasting.
"I … I'm happy we're having a baby. I never
thought this would be possible, and now that it's real, I'm happy, but
I'm really scared. So many things could go wrong. If something happens
to you or the baby … I'll break, Eric. I survived losing Gran, I
survived Bill, but to lose you or our child? I can't do that, Eric. I
can't lose what we have."
His teeth grazed her shoulders. She
closed her eyes and shivered. "You won't. Our enemies may be many, they
might be strong, but we are stronger, and it is obvious we have powerful
allies. I will protect you, Sookie."
Her hands went up to rake
through his hair. "I know this makes me a bad person, but I don't care.
When it comes to our family I'll be selfish and a bad person if I have
"Sookie, what are you talking about?"
face into his throat, she begged, "I want you to promise you'll do
whatever you have to in order to protect our baby. I want you to promise
you'll go to whatever lengths you have to in order to keep us safe. I
don't care what you have to do or how you have to do it, when it comes
to defending us from our enemies you do whatever you have to. I know
that makes me a bad person, but I don't care."
Eric could feel
Sookie's conflict. He knew it went against her values to say such a
thing, but he agreed with her determination. There was no line in the
sand when it came to their son, or their children that he would cross,
and Sookie realized that every bit as he did. Kissing her temple, he
sealed his lips to it and promised, "I will do what I must, Sookie, just
as you will. Hopefully, the hard decisions and sacrifices you are
worried over will never come about, but if they do we will be ready for
"I want to learn to use my faery magic."
good idea; faery magic is powerful, and if your mark truly enhances it,
this could be very beneficial. I will feel better knowing you have such
means to protect yourself if the measures I put in place fail. We will
definitely be speaking to Niall about it."
Moving her hand up his
chest, she stroked her fingers over his Mjolnir. "Do you think that
since my mark allowed me to tap into my faery powers, yours allowed you
to tap into your god powers?"
"More than likely. I was only able
to use them after our bonding took place and the mark appeared. I think
each of our marks allows us to tap into the powers they represent. Your
septagram is a symbol for fae magic, and my Mjolnir symbolizes the last
of the power of the Norse gods that resides in me. It makes sense."
"People aren't going to like us having this kind of power. They aren't going to like you having a child."
don't care what people think. You held the only opinion I cared about
with regard to this baby. You have made your position clear. No one
else's thoughts about our child matter to me. If anyone tries to hurt
you or my son, I'll kill them."
"I 'd like more guards."
already given the order to bring more in. Ahmose is sending us a dozen
vampire guards, they should be here tomorrow night. I also have about
two dozen Weres from the Shreveport pack as well as a contingent of
werepanthers from Hotshot coming in to guard you as backup, all trained
in military procedure. I'm setting up security posts around your land
and buying all the surrounding territory around your house, including
Compton's estate. I want it all cleared. Your home, with the barrier, is
the safest location for you. Bobby is seeing to buying up the human
owned land sites around your home today, and I will speak with Compton
soon," he paused. "You realize you can't work at Merlotte's anymore,
Sookie," he said decisively.
She stiffened. Sadness poured
through their bond. 'He's right. I can't work anymore. I don't know what
carrying a vampire baby will do to me, and I can't risk being in the
open like that once people learn it's Eric's baby I'm carrying.' Her
voice was resigned, "I know. I don't want to quit, but it's too
dangerous. I'll talk to Sam—but Eric, I don't want to be locked up. I
get that security is really important now, and I'll be on board with
that, but I can't live in a cage."
He stroked his hand along the
lush curve of her hips, his fingers lingering over her waist and then up
her back. She arched responsively against him. "We'll work it out as we
go. I am pleased that you are not fighting me on increased security
measures. You have always been hesitant about such things before."
different now. I don't like the idea of being followed and guarded, but
I'll live with it if it means keeping our baby safe."
"This pleases me."
"I'm stubborn, Eric, not stupid; right now I can't afford to be stubborn."
fell into a brooding silence, both feeling the weight of the changes
their lives were undergoing. The air thick with their tensions, Sookie
suddenly blurted, "We're not calling him Odin. My Gran said they'll be
new, so I want them to have new names."
Eric laughed. "They will
be new, and they will be our children in every way. You will be their
mother and I will be their father. Who they were before is not as
important as who we will raise them to be. You may name our son, and
those that follow whatever you wish."
"How about Francis?"
"Ok. There might be a few restrictions."
"How about Doogie?"
"Doogie? What kind of name is that?"
Giggling, Sookie answered, "Like Doogie Howser. He was a genius kid on a television show."
"Genius or not, you're not naming my son Doogie."
"I'm fond of Archibald."
she was teasing, and realizing the humor was just what was needed at
the moment, Eric replied, "No. It only ever went well with Bogart, and
our son's last name will be Northman. How about Leif?"
"No. Sounds too much like leaf, as in trees."
"Nope. How about Oliver?"
"That name means elf army, and my son will be a vampire. What do you think of Maximus?"
"No. Reminds me of Mighty Max."
"Who is Mighty Max?"
"It was a cartoon boy that had a magic baseball cap. It was really corny."
Laughing, Eric replied, "So Maximus is out."
Nuzzling his neck, Sookie blew a hot whispery breath against him. "We'll have to buy a baby name book."
"I'll have Bobby pick us up one."
fell silent again, simply taking comfort in the soothing calm
engendered by the other's touch. Sookie had closed her eyes, enjoying
Eric's musky smell, the affectionate strokings up and down the length of
her back. Her mind drifted on the sensory pleasure, remembering the
cabin, the erotic moments that now bound her wholly to him, the cave ….
She broke the spell, her voice sounded strained. "Eric, what do you
think the rest of the prophecy is?"
"I think it has to do with my
taking control of the supernatural world. The Pythoness, Niall, Han,
Ivan, and Ahmose all referred to me as High King at some point. There
has never been a High King, so referring to me as that leads me to
believe I will unite the supernatural world under my rule."
"Are you ok with that? I know you didn't want to be King of Louisiana, much less the whole supe community."
would prefer only to be responsible for me and mine, but if becoming
High King is the price I have to pay to keep you and our son, to have
you and to keep you both safe, it is a price I am more than willing to
"Will it be a hard transition? It doesn't sound like the
supes like taking orders from anybody, and have only ever followed the
rule of the Council. Will they listen to you?"
She was learning
the subtleties of how his world functioned and Eric found himself
pleased. "I think it will be a very hard adjustment, but I believe it is
one they will have to make in order to survive. I believe there is more
to the prophecy than just uniting the supernatural world."
Her blue eyes were shimmering in the low light as she looked up at him. "What else do you think the prophecy is about?"
believe there is possibly a war with humanity on the horizon. The weres
and shifters are thinking of revealing themselves in a few years and
humans are still reeling from our reveal. It could cause panic as humans
come to understand how much of this world they truly don't know or
understand, and humans are notorious for reacting to confusion and fear
"Then why doesn't the Were community just keep silent? Stay in the shadows and give people more time to adjust?"
the same reason we had to reveal ourselves. Human technology will not
allow them to remain hidden for much longer. With human satellites and
scientific breakthroughs, it is becoming impossible to hide ourselves."
There are nearly a thousand satellites monitoring the earth now, and,
each government capable of launching more, continues to do so. The U.S.
alone announced their intent to up their satellite numbers to 800. These
satellites are capable of seeing with incredible accuracy. It is
probable many governments already know of Weres and shifters and have
caught them in states of transformation with their satellites. It will
not be long before some public news network gets some footage by
accident, and, as I said before, it is always best to be preemptive when
it comes to survival. It was decided for vampires to come out first
since there are more of us, and humans have speculated on our existence
for so long. The supe community believed we would be best received,
especially since True Blood came along and rendered our threat to
humanity harmless. Our revelation was always meant to pave the way for
the rest of the supernatural world to follow."
"Wow. That's like some sci-fi, action movie stuff right there."
laughed, "It does sound like something out of a movie, but that doesn't
make it any less true. The means that human governments have both
procured and created to protect themselves from each other threatens our
own civilization. Peaceful cohabitation may be imperiled. We knew war
was a possibility, and it appears that one will take place."
Her forehead creased with a frown of concentration. "I don't want to fight a war, Eric. I don't want to fight against humanity."
do I, but I will not calmly accept annihilation either. If humans will
not accept the supernatural world, we can and will fight for our place."
"This is scary."
He drew her tightly against him again. "I'll protect you, Sookie. I swear it."
don't want to talk about any of this anymore. We'll find out everything
soon enough. I want you to tell me a story. A nice story."
stretched and moved them to lie on the bed with Sookie curling her body
against his side, head pillowed on his shoulder. "I will tell you the
story of the time I took Pam to India to celebrate Holi."
"Isn't that the festival where they throw paint and different kinds of powder on each other in celebration?"
Smiling, Sookie said, "I bet Pam just loved that."
didn't know," Eric said grinning, warmth welling in his eyes as he
remembered. "She was less than pleased when she got hit in the face with
blue paint. She has never forgiven me for making her suffer through
that night, but it was simply too good an opportunity to tease her for
me to pass up."
Eric went on to tell
Sookie of how he'd convinced Pam to go with him to India about fifty
years ago. He'd neglected to mention to Pam the specifics of the
festival, though, merely telling her it was an cultural celebration of
the triumph of good over evil. He assured her the trip would be good for
her education. And otherwise delicious. The spiciness of the cuisine of
Northern India permeated the blood of its human inhabitants.
laughed, a full throated, bellowing guffaw that brought blood tears to
his eyes as he described leading Pam into a trap that night as he
brought her out into the street festivities only to be pelted by humans
covered in paints and carrying vast amounts of paint and powder that
they threw at each other in celebration. The sari Eric had just gifted
Pam with the night before at the festival's bonfire was destroyed. Her
finely coiffed hair was a flattened mess of blues and pinks. Paint
dripped down her carefully made up face and the powders adhered to every
exposed length of her skin. Eric had anticipated the water balloons and
paint and sidestepped all but a light dusting of powder to his jacket
which he flicked off easily. When she glared at him murderously, he'd
explained matter-of-factly that the different colors thrown at the
festival were supposed to take all the sorrow away from participants and
make their lives more colorful. Pam was definitely more colorful,
didn't she agree? Pam was not amused.
Just the idea of fussy,
clothes-horse Pam decked out in all her finery getting paint balled made
even Sookie laugh and their combined laughter spiraled into helpless
spasms as Sookie started wheezing watching Eric laugh so hard.
gibbous moon was low in its arc over Bon Temps when Sookie and Eric
rose from the panic room. Eric could easily hear the strident voices of
Sookie's friends in the living room as he unsealed the hatch and then
helped her up the ladder rungs. Sounds in the closet caught Thor's
attention and the puppy was nose-to-nose, tail wagging furiously as
Sookie poked her head out. "Good boy, Thor!" she murmured, happily
massaging his neck. She cleared the hatch and picked the dog up who gave
her a wet, sloppy kiss. Sookie giggled. Turning to observe Eric, whose
movements were expert and economical, she watched him lift himself up
and reseal the hatch door. She followed his lead into the living room
where the clamor of voices abruptly stopped.
Sookie was bombarded
with the restless vexation of her friends, all speculating on why
they'd been dragged here and forced to stay in her house all day. Eric
could feel Sookie's edginess through the bond and he flooded her with
comfort and support. He was not eager for the impending confrontation;
he expected her friends to be angry over what would seem like
imprisonment to them. He did not want Sookie dealing with more stress
and the feel of all that adrenalin coursing into her brooding womb made
him feel suddenly protective and territorial of his mate. Turning into
the living room, he found Quinn and Alcide keeping watch over a seated
Lafayette, Tara, Eggs and Sam. Sam was no less for the wear having spent
his day at his bar until a short ten minutes ago when he left it in the
hands of Terry. Eric took hold of Sookie's hand and softly squeezed it,
leaning against her ear to murmur, "Do you want me to explain?"
was apprehensive as she tilted up to look at Eric. "I … uh— actually I
want to explain it to them alone. That's ok, right?"
take your guards and check in with Han and Ivan outside so you'll have
time to speak to your friends," Eric brushed his mouth against her brow
and then jerked his head to Quinn and Alcide to motion them to follow.
screen door banged hard as they left. Sookie weaved awkwardly reacting
to the slam, and crossed into the room nervously. Lafayette, Tara, and
Eggs were all sitting on the couch and Sam was in the overstuffed chair.
Their eyes were hard with questions. "Uh … hi guys. I guess you're
wondering why Eric had you brought here today, huh?"
Tara was never one to hold back. "What the hell is going on, Sook?"
felt the rush of tears sting her eyes as she sat down in the other
chair facing her friends. Thor jumped into her lap. She ran her hand
softly against his thick coat. "Something terrible has happened, and you
guys need to stay here for a while. For your protection."
Her friends shifted uneasily. Sam leaned forward in his chair, his voice kind. "What's going on, cher?"
was no way to drop this bombshell without the fallout going everywhere.
"Jason isn't on vacation, guys," she said, lungs laboring. "He was
kidnapped by the vampire queen of Louisiana, the queen who is after me.
The message you heard was a fake; he was forced by the queen into
leaving it. In truth, she forced a whole lot more." She closed her eyes a
long minute to catch her breath, her heart hammering in her throat.
"She forced him to blood bond to her, and she—she—she turned him.
Jason's a vampire now."
disassociated, folded in on itself and shattered. The metaphor was
wrong—time didn't slip away. It was violently and forcibly choked,
twisted, seized and left for dead. A beat. Two. Three. The look on
everyone's face, the silence that was louder than the intake of breath.
And then there was Sookie's fragile voice rising over the thin sound of
their collective heartbeats.
"He … he's … he's not the
Jason we knew. I saw him last night … and he …" Burying her face in her
hands, Sookie sobbed, "He said unbelievably horrible, cruel things. He …
he killed my cousin Hadley—not by accident, he gloried in it. He's a killer. Oh God, he laughed!" She stopped, remembering, closing her eyes, her lips drawn tight in a grimace.
"He's dangerous. He's just not
our Jason anymore. He's under the queen's control and Eric is certain
he's going to be coming after me and possibly everyone I love to hurt
them as well."
There were no words of comfort in the moments of
comprehension, the news a horror too profound to absorb. There was not
enough oxygen in a room with collective gasps followed by suspended
breaths, with shifting bodies sparking in an electric storm. The
intensity was broken by the muffled sobs from Sookie as she curled Thor
into her arms and cried against his soft fur. She could feel Eric
sending comfort through the bond and her heart clutched for her Viking
as she opened herself fully to his support.
Sam broke the tension. "Why? Why would the queen take him? What would she want from him?"
jumped off the chair and Sookie watched as he padded over to his dog
bed where he retrieved a chewbone and sat down to gnaw on it. Wiping at
her tears, Sookie's sadness retreated behind a small smile for her
puppy. "It's a long story. The queen is mad that I'm with Eric. Months
ago, she sent Bill here to Bon Temps to seduce me and bring me to her
court because she had wanted to turn me to make me her child. She wanted
to use my telepathy. She wanted a new pet." Sookie could see her
friends weren't grasping the subtleties of this. "A telepath is a useful
tool for mainstreaming vampires who want to know if they can trust
humans they need to associate with for business. Turning me—provided my
telepathy survived with it—would make me an eternally useful tool," she
said by way of emphasis.
"Bill? I thought you were engaged to him at one point," Eggs said, clearly confused.
owes fealty to the queen. He did what he was told. I was … brokered,"
Sookie said reluctantly. She continued. "Eric messed her plan up. We
share a blood bond. We share a lot more now," Sookie granted carefully.
Her mind told her 'not yet' and she did not elaborate. "The queen has
made it clear she intends to find a way to take me away from him, but
she knows she can't fight him. He's too powerful now. She's afraid, too,
that Eric will try to kill her. So she bonded Jason to her and turned
him. He will do whatever she bids. He's her willing slave. He's
committed to her for an eternity unless somehow this connection can be
broken. Now, the only way Eric can kill her is if she moves against him by killing my brother. Jason is programmed to avenge her. The queen,
Sophie-Anne, knows that Eric cares about me, and she knows Jason's death
would devastate me. She took Jason as a way to strike out at Eric, and
to keep him from killing her. She's insane."
Sookie looked at her
friends with urgent, grave eyes. "Eric ordered you all brought here
because last night … last night the queen and Jason made it clear
they're going to do anything they can to hurt me in order to hurt Eric.
Eric brought you here to keep you safe so that neither Jason nor the
queen go after you to hurt me."
Sam, who very clearly understood
how the supernatural world worked, was taking the news soberly. His
heart hurt for Sookie, but he knew things like this happened in the supe
world. It was why he'd wanted to keep her completely out of it.
Lafayette, who had also been exposed to just how ruthless vampires could
be, grimly buried his face in his hands. Jason had been a friend his
whole life and the thought of the bravery his friend had shown trying to
fight the maenad made him wince with shame—here he was feeling secretly
thankful that it wasn't him in the queen's lair. He was so overwrought
with a kind of survivor's guilt he couldn't look Sookie in the face. He
felt thankful Eric cared enough about Sookie to protect her friends.
Eggs, who hated everything to do with the supernatural world, was
thinking this was just another reason he needed to get Tara to
understand it was too dangerous to continue her friendship with Sookie.
In his mind, it was obvious that the paths the two longtime friends were
on were no longer parallel. Tara's life was with him now, and she
needed to let the past go.
While Tara no longer pined for Jason
the way she had as a girl, she still loved him deeply and the news had
hit her particularly hard. Under all his pretty playboy macho ways was a
true person, and the fact that Jason might be really and truly gone
tore at her heart. She needed to be alone, to walk outside and scream at
the moon; she wanted to open her mouth and scream and scream until
nothing more could come out; she wanted to fall and crumple up into a
ball and roll away somewhere—anywhere—just to hide. She had to hold it
together for Sookie. She closed her eyes. When she opened them again to
look at Sookie, her vision was blurred. She asked stoically, "Is there
no way to help him?"
Sookie's reply was a mix of hope and
despair. "Eric promised to do everything he can. He's going to call in
every witch, sorcerer or being capable of magic to try and sever Jason's
connection with Sophie-Anne, but he says it is doubtful there is a way
to do it. He swore to try, though, but until then you all need to be
careful and watch out for him. You can't trust him as long as he's bound
Tara's fists tightened in her lap. Vampires.
Always vampires. This never would have happened were it not for Sookie's
association with all the foul creatures. "I need you to tell me
everything. What all happened when you saw him? Start from the
While Sookie filled her friends in on what had
happened last night from the moment she'd entered Fangtasia, Eric was
outside speaking with Han, Ivan, and the Were guards. Standing facing
the woods as he took inventory of Sookie's property and visualized all
the security measures he was going to implement, Eric commanded, "Things
change from this moment. I am doubling Sookie's nighttime guard, and
tripling her daytime security. No one gets in the barrier during the
day, and no one leaves. I am making arrangements for Sophie-Anne to be
removed from both her throne and this country while I try to find a way
to save Sookie's brother. Until then, her friends stay here, and, after
that, until Sophie-Anne and the threat she and her children pose, they
will be heavily guarded. Is that understood?"
Han and Ivan didn't
question anything Eric had dictated, but the Weres were a little
confused. Quinn's voice did not disguise his disbelief. "How are you
going to order her from the state? She's the queen. And, beyond that,
how are you going to save Jason? Interfering between a Maker and child
is against vampire and Council law."
"I don't care. If there is a
way to save Sookie's brother I will find it. I am skeptical it can be
done, but I will try. As for how I intend removing Sophie-Anne? Simple. I
will order the Council to see it done."
Alcide and Quinn's eyes
widened with astonishment. The weretiger scoffed, "I think being in the
Swedish cold has messed with your head, Northman. No one orders the
Council. Not even you."
"The Council takes its orders from the
High King," insisted a voice from the shadows. They all turned to the
figures of the Pythoness and Niall emerging from the tree line, the
ancient, thready voice of the Pythoness having spoken. Alcide and Quinn
were noticeably shocked at their arrival and immediately dropped to
their knees, heads bowed, while Han and Ivan moved to flank Eric,
waiting for his orders. Eric growled at the sight of them, "I told you
to go and not to return until I sent for you. Why are you here?"
the kneeling Weres, the Pythoness was emphatic. "What we have to tell
you cannot wait. You must hear what we have to say. The safety of your
bonded depends upon it. You are High King, and your word is law, but
this one implores you to hear our words."
There were stunned gasps from Alcide and Quinn, who remained kneeling heads down reverentially.
Weres," the Pythoness ordered. They rose immediately, watchful,
cognizant something very big, of tremendous precedence was happening
that would change all their lives. The very air resonated with power.
stared at the visitors with eyes a hot, savage glow, debating whether
to allow the Pythoness and Niall near Sookie. He had felt her anxiety
and pain in the bond, knew she was sharing her grief with them at this
moment. He also knew her number one priority was their child. He took an
unnecessary breath and exhaled gruffly. He nodded, deciding he wanted
to hear what the Pythoness had to say, and knew, after their last
conversation, Sookie would want to hear it as well.
forward, turning to face Han and Ivan together, and ordered, "Take the
Were guards and measure out the perimeter. I want exact specifications
for the installation of an electrical fence. I want the fence to be 30
yards outside of the barrier, and I want to know the best locations you
would recommend for security posts. List the vantage and blind spots.
Then go and speak to Compton. He will be moving. I want his land. No one
is allowed to live near Sookie."
Han and Ivan nodded and strode
off towards the woods, Quinn and Alcide following. Eric turned towards
the house, his voice sangfroid. "Come. Sookie is inside. We will hear
what you have to say."
Sookie looked up as she watched Eric enter
with the two people she'd seen in the living room the prior night. She
had just finished explaining how she'd stood up to the queen when she
caught sight of her vampire in the living room doorway. Her eyes
assessed the situation. "Eric?"
Eric ignored her friends and
spoke to her directly. "Sookie, you will have to finish speaking with
your friends later. We need to hear this."
immediately that Eric was inferring knowledge of the prophecy. Looking
at her friends, her lips quivered in a tiny smile. "We'll finish talking
about this later. I … I'm sorry guys, but I need to speak with Eric and
these guests right now." She turned to Sam. "Can you take everyone over
to the guest house and stay there until I send for you?"
Tara jumped up and seethed, "Now wait just a damned minute, Sook! You're just going to drop everything because Eric tells you to? We're talking about Jason here!"
stood, shaking her head and firming her chin, "Tara, you don't
understand. There's … there's other stuff going on. Eric wouldn't be
interrupting us if it wasn't really important. We'll finish talking
later, but right now I need to be with Eric. I need you to be
understanding about this. Jason is important to me, Tara, you know this,
so I wouldn't be asking you to leave right now if it wasn't necessary."
glared caustically at Sookie for a long moment before whirling around
and stomping from the house as Eggs jumped up, winced, shrugged and
followed her. Lafayette stood, cautiously rounding the couch with a
backward glance at Eric and reached to hug and kiss Sookie's cheek. "I'm
so sorry, Sooks, you know that. You have my heart, girlfriend." He
edged from the room, shrinking against the wall to quickly head out of
the house without looking at Eric.
Sam ran a hand over his tired
face and stood to hug Sookie as well. Kissing her forehead, he murmured,
"I'm so sorry for you, cher. I'm here for you. I'll keep an eye on them
until you're ready to talk to us again."
"Thanks, Sam," Sookie
returned his comforting hug. When they were gone she looked at Eric and
their two guests and said, "I guess it's finally time to hear about the
Eric strode into the room in quick long
steps to take Sookie's hand. Thor looked up at him, tail thumping
heavily against the floor. Eric sat down in the chair she'd been
occupying and pulled her into his lap giving Thor a pat on the head as
the puppy leaned into his legs. He wrapped an arm around Sookie, and
ordered, "Sit down and tell us why you are here. Leave nothing out. No
Niall led the Pythoness to
the couch and helped her sit before seating himself, elegant in an
immaculate white suit. Sookie noticed at once the man was tall and slim
with arresting green eyes and long, fine golden hair. He was beautiful
in an epicene way and all at once she realized he wasn't human at all
but some supernatural creature—his ears were pointed. She thought he
looked familiar, and then she realized he was the man that she'd seen at
her parents' funeral, and out in the woods speaking to her Gran when
she was younger.
Niall cleared his throat. Directing himself to
Sookie, he said, "This woman here goes by the name of The Ancient
Pythoness. My name is Niall Brigant, Sookie." His voice was resonant and
light. "I am your great-grandfather. Fintan, your grandfather, was my
"Can I meet this Fintan?" she finally asked.
"I'm sorry, my child. Fintan was half human. He lived over seven hundred years, but he is gone now."
"What are you?"
"I am fae, child. A faery."
"Then you are much older?" she asked.
came here almost six thousand years ago. I arrived only a few short
centuries after the greatest war the supernaturals in this world had
ever fought. I appeared because there was a prophecy in the fae realm
that there would come a day when my race would face extinction. Only the
royal line knew of this prophecy, and we have kept it that way to avoid
panic. The prophecy foretold that the power and magic of our blood
would one day fade and our females would no longer be able to reproduce.
The prophecy said that the solution to saving my kind lay in the blood
of human gods. So Oberon, my father and ruler of the fae, sent me here
to convince the human gods to save our kind. I came and met with the
most powerful gods of that time. I told them of the prophecy, and I
begged their assistance. I made a vow to give freely whatever they would
want or need in return for the rescue of my people."
looked intently into Sookie's eyes. "After I told them my tale and the
plight my race would face, they told me their own sad tale. They told me
that the prophecy my people faced coincided with their own. Their world
had a prophecy as well. They told me their extinction also approached,
and that the powerful blood I sought had not yet been made. They told me
the blood they had was built on faith, and the power of it was not
strong enough to save my kind. I despaired, but they told me this did
not mean that they could not offer help."
Tightening his grip on Sookie, he observed, "They required the essence
of vampire in their blood to be able to save you. The blood of gods
built on faith was not strong enough. You need the blood of vampire gods
to save your people."
Nodding, Niall replied, "Indeed. The gods,
as they were, while powerful, were not powerful enough to save the fae
when the time came. So we struck a deal. They told me of the prophecy.
They explained that one day they would be reborn into new bodies, bodies
built not on faith, but by magic, and love. I was told that when this
happened they would then have the means of saving my kind. However, in
order for this to evolve, the introduction of fae blood into human
bloodlines had to occur. A deal was struck. We would introduce our blood
into your world, and we would never lay claim to the chosen ones needed
to bring back the gods. In return, the gods reborn would give us blood
to heal our own. My father opened many portals from our world to this
one and my people began migrating here. We assimilated, living alongside
you to make the introduction of fae blood into human bloodlines
possible. The pathway was set to create the two beings needed to help
return the old gods of this world, to help them be made new."
Sookie took one of Eric's hands from across her belly and laced her fingers with his. "What exactly is the prophecy?"
was when the Pythoness interrupted. She was wizened with wild white
hair and a milky glaze to her eyes. Sookie realized at once she was
blind. She'd never seen a vampire so old and so fragile looking. Her
sightless eyes went unerringly to the High King and Chosen Mother. "The
prophecy states that when the world is on the brink of annihilation, the
Chosen Mother will be born, and she shall name her king. Together,
their love will remake the old gods into new, vampiric ones. These gods
will help their father save the world, while the Chosen Mother's heart
will guide them all."
Sookie had to strain to understand her
thickly accented English. The impact of her words carried different
values of enlightenment. Eric frowned; he was still not happy, and
certainly not accepting, of the belief that he belonged to Sookie. In
his mind she would always be his. Everything she was belonged to him.
Sookie naïvely hadn't even picked up on that particular subtext. She was
focused on the chilling idea of annihilation. Looking between the crone
and Niall, she asked, "How is the world endangered?"
explained, "My child, can you not see it? The world is staggering under
the stresses of human existence. Holes are being poked in the sky
causing global warming. The ice caps are melting, threatening coastlines
around the globe. Forests that provide the Earth's oxygen are being
razed. Entire species of animals and fauna are being wiped out. Toxic
chemicals are being dumped daily in the rivers, lakes and oceans, you
have overfished fish species that totter on the brink of extinction. The
land is dying from chemicals and misuse. The world's climate becomes
more unstable each year. Storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, the
likes of which the world has never seen, grow exponentially in force.
Your diseases, famines, and your wars ravage the world. Humanity is
lost. As faith is abandoned, the magic that holds this world together is
threatened and lost. Without magic, this world will die."
her head, Sookie argued, "Faith isn't lost. Humans might not believe
the same things they used to, but we still believe in things. Just
because we've replaced the old gods like Zeus and Odin with God and
Christ, doesn't mean we don't still believe."
thoughtfully, Niall replied, "Humans proclaim faith, Sookie, but they
have very little of it, in truth. Once, they believed in the world
around them. They believed in The One, even if they didn't understand
it. They believed in everything beyond themselves. Now humans believe
they are the greatest force. They proclaim faith in their gods. They go
to church on Sunday and sing hymns, but do they actually live their
lives by the codes their faiths demand?"
When Sookie didn't
respond, Niall continued, "No. They don't. Proclaiming faith, and truly
having and living by it are two different things. Faith has become a
hobby, a recreation. Do Christians follow each of the Ten Commandments
as they should? Do they live their lives in the belief that only God can
judge and that forgiveness is great? Do Muslims try to be tolerant of
other faiths as the Quran instructs, or are certain passages distorted
to fit political and racial agendas? True faith is living and dying in
the belief of something greater than yourself. Few humans still have
this kind of faith. Humans are not supreme. Life is supreme, in this
world, in all worlds. Without faith, everything you know and love will
be lost. Humans are threatening to destroy all life in this world with
their myopic self centric behavior."
Nodding her head, the
Pythoness croaked, "The One tries to warn them. Storms and lightning
rain down from the sky. The sea rages at humans in an attempt to show
them that they must cease their careless violation of the world. Humans
believe that they have the right to do whatever they wish to the Earth
in the belief they own it. They do not understand that the world owns
them. If something is not done, this world will be dead and dust within a
century. The One knows this. The One knew this thousands of years ago.
The One saw the fate and future of this world the day this Earth was
dreamed into existence. Because of this, The One took the steps needed
to ensure that you and your king would be in place to bring humans back
under control, to be ready to save life here in this realm.
of years ago, The One took human form as a man and walked the Earth.
The One found a woman, a remarkable woman with the necessary strength of
heart to do what was needed. He told her of the fate of humans and life
on this Earth. The One told this woman that she would beget his child, a
girl child, who would beget another, and another, and so on through the
many ages—a line of daughters that would never die out. Into this line
of daughters would be born two women, at different junctures of time,
who would ultimately come together to bring about the prophecy. The
One's dream of saving this realm would rest in the hands of these women.
One would serve as the guide, the other would be the Chosen One. She,
with her king, would be the Earth's saviors."
tightened around Sookie. It was becoming clear. The Pythoness continued.
"There would be only one disruption in the line of daughters, for the
first time males would be born into the line. When this disruption
happened, it would signify that the time had come for the Chosen One to
be born, the Mother that would save us all."
Eric's eyes widened as realization rolled through him like a thunderbolt. "You! You and Sookie are the two daughters!"
the Pythoness replied tonelessly, "Yes. Though blind from birth, I was
born with the gift of sight. The power of The One's influence in my
blood allows me to guide the supernatural world as I must to aid you
now. I was born knowing I would be here to help you. I lived my human
life, and did my duty by birthing a daughter. When she was born, I gave
her into the care of others. In my youth I was an oracle to many and
revered. When my human usefulness was near to end, I left for the cave
at Delphi to wait for my Maker to come turn me so that I could walk the
ages and be here now. My daughter lived on to have her own daughter. My
Sookie's voice was hesitant, "So I am—"
are my descendent many times over. Our line is descended directly from
The One. No one else in the world has the power of our blood. The Power
of The One has lain dormant in each generation. It has come forth only
twice … in you and me. I was given the power of sight so I may guide
you, and you were given the power of life and truth. Your telepathy
comes from The One so that you can hear the thoughts of humans to aid
the cause of saving the world. You hear truths as no one before you
"But what about my fae side?" Sookie interjected, bewildered.
fae heritage comes from your paternal side, tying your blood to their
magic. The One's power that flows in your veins is from your maternal
side. In both, you have human blood as well. You alone have been given
the ability to bind the blood of your human and fae sides to the blood
of your vampire, making you immortal. You are the greatest, and last of
The One's line for humanity. Never again will a human have the power of
The One inside them. You were born to save and remake the world. You
were born to have children more powerful than any other. You were born
to love and guide them so they can complete The One's dream of saving
this world so that it can finally realize its purpose."
reeled inwardly. She felt small and insignificant despite the enormity
of her existence. "What is the purpose of this world?"
world is meant to unite all the others, but first its inhabitants must
come together in harmony. Humans and supernaturals must learn to
coexist. Unfortunately, it is now only through war that this can come
about. Humans will fight the truth that they do not rule all, and are
not supreme. They will try to destroy all supernaturals in order to
prove they are the most important. We must fight them in order to save
Eric was confused as well. "What do you mean this world is meant to unite all the others?"
Niall spoke up. "What do you know of other worlds, Northman?"
felt the warm touch of Sookie's fingers stroking his arm as he replied.
"I know there are thousands of alternate dimensions. I know each has
its own set of rules, laws, and gods and their own forms of magic. Some
are connected to each other, some are accessible from this realm, and
some are not."
Niall nodded, "That is true. However, they are not
alternate dimensions. They are simply other worlds. The universe is
larger than anyone's ability to imagine. The realms you believe to be
alternate dimensions are in truth simply planets in other galaxies
scattered around the expanding universe. There are hundreds of thousands
of us, and the only thing that truly connects us all is The One. The
One created all. The One dreamed us all into existence. Who or what The
One is will never be known or understood, but the truth is we are all
children of The One. The portals connecting my realm to this one are
simply wormholes that connect my world to yours through space."
Pythoness added, "The One ultimately desires us all to live together in
peace and harmony. That destiny is tens of thousands of years away,
but, here and now, the path is being set to achieve that dream. This
world, the beings of this realm, are meant to pave the way for us all to
come together. In all other worlds, creatures live and die by magic.
Our realm is the only one with a being that is not made of magic. Humans
are literally the greatest and worst creation of The One. Their lack of
magic makes their minds incredible. They have imagination unlike any
other to compensate for the void of magic in their being. This was
intentional. Because they have no magic, they seek strength and power
through technology, and that is how they will travel into the stars. The
One desires this, but first humans must learn that magic and technology
can and do coexist. War is coming. A war to end all wars, and the
Chosen Mother's king shall fight it. Humans must be made to see reason,
but they will not do so in a peaceful fashion. They will take up arms
against us first, and we will have no choice but to fight them to save
The Pythoness declared, "The two of you will guide
this world to the destiny of peace and acceptance of all creatures on
this earth. The two of you will bring into the world vampire gods that
will watch over this world and its people for the rest of time. Long
after the both of you finally come to the end of your path, and it is
time for you to return to The One, they will take the lessons you have
taught them and help guide all the realms together. The One's dream of
peace begins here. This is the prophecy."
eyes had gone as wide as a child's on Christmas day. She sat quietly in
Eric's lap as they both attempted to come to terms with what they had
just learned. The bond smoothed and stilled between them like white
noise. The truth of their destiny, the truth of what lay before and
between them threatening to swamp them both with its sheer incredulity.
Long moments passed. Finally, Eric concluded that so much of what they
had been told were events that would not unfold for thousands of years,
and they both needed to keep focus on the more present dangers.
Eric said, "Most of what you have told us, while unarguably important,
is not of immediate concern. Right now, I wish to focus on the enemy
that threatens us today. I want to concentrate on the approaching war.
The rest can be dealt with at a later time."
Niall nodded, in
accord with the vampire's reasoning. "Do you remember how I mentioned I
came to this world after the greatest war the supernaturals had ever
faced? Do you know what I was referring to?"
responded solidly. "You were speaking of the Great War against Sargon.
Defeating and killing him nearly wiped out the primitive vampire race
and several other supernatural races were indeed lost bringing him down.
All supernaturals know of this story."
The Pythoness announced, "Sargon is not dead."
For a moment, Eric felt nothing beyond stupefaction. Recoiling, he asked sharply, "What?"
is not dead," she repeated. "He has lain in wait for over six thousand
years. He faked his death and hid from us all, waiting for this moment."
Indicating Sookie, the Pythoness confirmed the worst of Eric's fears.
"He learned of The One's dream, of the Prophecy regarding Sookie. He
plans to kill you and take her for his own. He wants to force a bond
with her so that the children will be his. He wants to lay claim to this
world and then use the children to wage war on the other realms. Sargon
is the enemy we face now. He must be defeated and his existence
terminated before the war with the humans comes."
Eric went deadly still. Sookie looked up at him over her shoulder and asked softly, "Eric?"
silent, Sookie." Eric's mind was racing. This development seized his
very marrow threatening to deluge his vampiric senses with fear and he
would not allow himself to be frightened. He had to move through the
tangle of emotions and strategize. He needed to get up NOW and move,
shake the lethargy from his bones, and tap into the intelligence and
guile that had served him so well all these centuries. 'Sargon?
Sargon! He was nearly invincible six thousand years ago, and the
supernatural world was practically decimated trying to bring him down,
and his great defeat was in truth a ruse? A trick so he could wait for
Sookie to be born? He will not have her!' He needed a moment.
Standing, he set Sookie back in the chair and crouched in front of her.
Taking both her hands in his, he said, "I need a moment to think. Ask
Niall your questions. I will be back."
Sookie searched Eric's
eyes. For the first time she saw fear there and it frightened her. She
opened her mouth, then closed it and swallowed convulsively. She
managed, "Are we going to be ok, Eric?"
Eric held her gaze. He
would not let any harm come to her. Whatever he had to do, he would
protect her and his unborn child with his life. He leaned forward to
kiss her brow and said, "Ask Niall your questions. I'll be back." He
stood and walked briskly from the room.
With his departure,
Sookie focused back on Niall and the old woman with the clouded eyes.
Pulling her knees to her chest, she wrapped her arms around them and
turned to Niall. "I have a lot I want to talk to you about, but most of
it I'd like to save for later, if you'll make time to see me again."
nodded, his voice warm. "I am here whenever you need me. I have had to
keep myself from you for most of your life so as not to interfere with
the prophecy, but, from this moment forward, you have but to call me and
"Can you send someone to teach me to use my faery
powers? I want to be able to protect myself in case Eric isn't there or
if the safeguards he puts up fail."
"I will send to you your cousins, Claudine and Claude. They live in Shreveport and can work with you daily, if you'd like."
"I have cousins?"
Niall replied, "You have many relatives. We could not introduce
ourselves to you before the reveal of the prophecy, but I can arrange
for you to meet them if you wish."
"Maybe … I uh—well right now
isn't a good time. I'll probably want to meet them later, but right now I
just want to learn to use my powers."
"Very well. I will contact
Claude and Claudine as soon as I leave here, and have them speak with
your bonded about arranging a training schedule."
"Thank you for that." Sookie was quiet a moment before she asked, "What happened to my parents?"
ghosted across his features before Niall answered."That was a grievous
error on my part. My father had decreed that all knowledge relating to
the true nature of our breeding problem be kept a secret, and no one
outside of the direct royal line knows of how closely our world's
survival depends upon yours. Those in my realm that choose to believe
our breeding problem is an effect of the opening of our portals into
your world, believe that interbreeding with humans is leading to the
obsolescence of our race. A faction of rebels has risen and made it
their mission to snuff out all part faes. They wage war against the
royal line to try and force us into closing the portals. This group of
extremists learned of your family's connection to my line and killed
your parents. They intended to come after you, but I was able to stop
them and kill all who knew about you. The secret of your existence has
been kept safe."
"Why don't you just tell them about the
prophecy?" Sookie asked. "Wouldn't that keep them from trying to kill
us? Wouldn't that have saved my parents?"
Shaking his head, Niall
replied, "I couldn't. We couldn't afford for my people to learn of your
prophecy which would lead to supernaturals of this world learning your
importance. Once your Eric solidifies his rule over the supernatural
world here, and the truth of your child is made known, my father, Lord
Oberon, will announce the prophecy to our people and they will
understand why we have bred with this realm and why the portals must
Sookie shook her head, perplexed. "Why was it so important that other supes here not know about me?"
Pythoness answered. "If other vampires learned of your heraldry, of how
powerful you could make the one that bonded to you, they would have
hunted you. You would have been a prize to every male vampire and you
would truly never have been safe. Also, your Eric could not know of the
prophecy before its time. He needed to make his own choices based on his
desire for you in order for you to truly accept him. Ultimately, your
heart is what will save us all. Keeping the secret of this world's
prophecy and that of the faes, protected your heart and your future. You
needed a man that chose you for you, not your gift, not your power, and
not for what you can do. Keeping these secrets, assured Eric bound
himself to you for no other reason than his desire to have you."
nodded and then stopped herself, coloring with embarrassment realizing
the Pythoness couldn't see the gesture. If Eric had known of the
prophecy before he'd bonded to her she would have always carried doubt
in her that he was choosing her for her. This way, she knew he had truly
wanted her for her, and the prophecy was secondary. "Well then I guess
I'm grateful." Focusing on the old woman, Sookie asked, "Pythoness,
ma'am, you're this seer everyone talks about? The one that all
supernaturals listen to and obey?"
The Pythoness fixed a gaze on Sookie that was disturbing in its accuracy. "Indeed, Chosen One."
was pointed in her concern. "And you're going to rally them all around
us? You're going to make sure they protect my baby? They won't try to
"I will make it known the child is to be protected at
all costs. Your child has much to fear from Sargon since he would
destroy the child in order to use his own seed to impregnate you. The
human activists that despise vampires are dangerous to you as well, but
the rest of the supernatural world will guard you and your children."
eyes turned toward the rich, controlled voice. Eric stood in the
doorway of the living room, his arms clasped behind his back. In the few
moments he'd taken in the kitchen to examine the situation, he'd gone
through a range of emotions to reach those of determination. Sargon was
an enemy unlike any other. The danger he represented was absolute, but
Eric would not be defeated. He'd returned to the living room in time to
hear the Pythoness announce she would make sure all the supernatural
world would support them. He was well satisfied.
comfort and support through the bond as he flicked a glance at Sookie
and felt her agitation. He focused on the Pythoness and Niall. It was
time for him to issue orders. "Sookie and I will speak with you again
soon, but for now, she and I have other things to discuss. You will go."
Looking at the Pythoness, he commanded, "You will return to the Council
and order them to dethrone Sophie-Anne immediately. She and her
children are to be banished from the country, but kept under strict
surveillance. I want to know every move she makes. You will also summon
every witch, wizard, sorcerer, and sorceress, all beings capable of
wielding magic, and bring them here to me. They will be given the task
of finding a way to sever Sophie-Anne's bond from Jason."
Shaking her head, the Pythoness argued, "The boy is lost. It is foolish to waste resources trying to save—"
Eric's eyes were blazing. He had no time or patience for arguing. "You
have proclaimed me High King, and you will obey! I have given you an
order and you will follow it!"
Sighing, the Pythoness bowed her head and conceded, "Very well, my king. It shall be done."
voice was cool and taut as he insisted, "Good. You will order
Sophie-Anne from the country and I will take over as King of Louisiana.
For now, I do not want more people than absolutely necessary knowing of
the importance I or Sookie hold. The longer we can keep her pregnancy a
secret, too, the better. For humans to know about my son at this time
would jeopardize the success of the immediate tasks at hand. I need to
focus on Sargon. So, for now, I will be known only as the King of
Louisiana. Obviously, Sookie's guards will need to be alerted, but I
trust you would not allow them here unless they are completely
"Indeed," the Pythoness assured.
it that way," Eric replied. "I will become king and begin assembling an
army to fight Sargon, and later, the war to save the world. While I do
this, the problem of severing Jason from Sophie-Anne must be thoroughly
researched. If there is no way to help him, Sookie will mourn his loss,
but first I will be able to tell her with absolute certainty that there
were no magical means to save him."
Focusing on Niall, he
ordered, "You will send me two dozen of your royal faery guards to help
guard Sookie during the day. They need to have charms to shield their
scents so the nighttime vampire guards are not distracted … and I trust
these guards will be the best and most trustworthy you have."
nodded firmly and vowed, "It will be done, and I will travel to
Faeryland to collect the royal guard from my father. They have protected
him for thousands of years. They are our greatest warriors, and their
loyalty to our line is absolute. Outside of my family, they alone are
aware of the prophecy, and they know the importance Sookie holds for us.
They will give their lives for her and your child."
looked at Sookie as he ordered, "Now leave us. I will contact you soon
to discuss this further, but right now I must speak with my bonded."
rose to leave, Niall offering the Pythoness his arm. She leaned against
him, her voice pitched low and compliant. "As the king commands. Know
that tomorrow night I will be sending further measures of protection.
These beings answer only to you and Sookie and will protect you both.
They will arrive tomorrow night with the additional guards Ahmose is
Eric didn't take his gaze from Sookie as he replied, "Very well. Now go."
They heard a pop and the Pythoness and Niall were gone. Sookie admitted, "You're scaring me, Eric."
took her hands and moved them both to the couch. He could not afford to
shield her from the truth of the danger they were in. She needed to
understand that every action mattered right now. He continued to hold
her hand and her gaze. "I need to tell you about Sargon. You have to
understand how dangerous this situation is."
taking his eyes from Sookie's, Eric asked, "Do you remember how I've
told you vampires are forbidden from using or learning magic?"
is the reason for this edict. Few humans many millennia past could
truly wield magic to any meaningful degree. Mostly because there weren't
nearly as many humans then as now, and because being able to wield
magic is very hard to do, requiring time and immense training, and those
were not plentiful in ancient times. Sargon was the first and last
human to be turned who was capable of wielding magic. Vampires learned
the folly of such an action quickly. Sargon was a sorcerer as a human
and he was able to convince a vampire to turn him. He promptly used his
magic to kill his Maker so he would be subject to no one's will. The
power and magic of a vampire's blood alone is incredible, but couple
that with the ability to actually wield magic and Sargon was beyond
deadly. His strength grew quickly once turned. Within a couple of
hundred years he had amassed a sufficiently large enough army through
the use of mass magical mind control, and went on a warpath to conquer
Her hands were cold in his. "What happened?"
A devastating war. The war against Sargon made the vampire/fae war look
like child's play. Vampires nearly became extinct fighting Sargon, and
many supernatural races were extinguished trying to take him out. Almost
all of the truly ancient vampires back then died fighting him. By the
time he was finally brought down, there were perhaps only several
hundred vampires left in all existence, most of them young. Weres and
shifter numbers suffered greatly as well. We recuperated over time, of
course, but that was when the idea of a Council was formed. We had all
come together to fight him, and once he was dead, or, so now I find
apparently in hiding, the supernaturals that remained decided a supreme
ruling faction was needed to ensure such a thing would never happen
again. A law was handed down to prevent such a reoccurrence from
happening—vampires were forbidden from learning or wielding magic. It
was even outlawed to ever turn a witch or human capable of magic. There
could be no possibility another Sargon could rise."
"Oh my god. Oh my god, Eric."
this is a danger of catastrophic proportions if he is not found and his
life expunged. Of all the enemies I could have imagined, of all the
dangers I thought would be revealed to us, I never once considered this.
Sargon was nearly invincible six thousand years ago, and if he's been
lying in wait all these years to upset the time balance and get to you,
there is no telling what his power is now."
Sookie leaned forward. "I feel like I can't breathe right now."
I vowed I will protect you and our son with my life. I still mean to do
so. But if Sargon has indeed been lying in wait all this time to get
you … Sookie, from this point on, I require total obedience from you.
When I give you an order, you must follow it. From here on out, I can't
afford to waste time worrying about whether or not you will obey. I must
focus entirely on protecting us. I cannot afford to be distracted. I
will not be frivolous with my orders, so when I do give a command you
must follow it. No hesitation, no questions, nothing. I say, you do.
Eric's words terrified her. The fact he was
admitting to her, blatantly, that he might fail in protecting her scared
her more than anything else. It was inconceivable to her that anything
could best Eric. She moved to crawl into Eric's lap, her arms coming
around his neck tightly. "I'll do what you say, Eric. I promise … but
right now, please, just hold me. I'm so scared."
Drawing her close into his own embrace, Eric buried his face into her hair and thought, 'So am I, my älskade, so am I.'