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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chapter 49 ~ The Prophecy

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."

Eric 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?"

Eric's 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.

"No. 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."

His 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."

She 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?"

She 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?"

"That's 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.

She 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 encouraged.

"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 them right."

"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."

Eric 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."

Moving 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?"

He 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 carry risk."

"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."

"I'm 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?"

"No. 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?"

"No. 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.

Silence 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."

"I 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."

"You promise?"

"I swear it."

Sookie 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 to be."

"Sookie, what are you talking about?"

Pressing her 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 them."

"I want to learn to use my faery magic."

"A very 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."

"I 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."

"I've 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."

"Everything's 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."

They 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."

"Absolutely not."

"Humphrey?"

Knowing 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."

"Henrik?"

"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."

They 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."

"I 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 pay."

"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?"

"I 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 with violence."

"Then why doesn't the Were community just keep silent? Stay in the shadows and give people more time to adjust?"

"For 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."

"Really?"

"Yes. 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."

Eric 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."

"Neither 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."

"I 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."

Eric 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?"

"Yes."

Smiling, Sookie said, "I bet Pam just loved that."

"She 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."

"What happened?"

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.

He 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.







The 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?"

Sookie 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?"

"Yes. I'll 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.

The 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?"

Sookie 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?"

There 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."

Dead silence.

Time 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?"

Thor 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.

"Bill 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 to Sophie-Anne."

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 beginning."

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?"

Ignoring 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.

"Rise, 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.

Eric 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.

He stepped 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."

Sookie knew 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!"

Sookie 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."

Tara 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 prophecy, huh?"



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 more secrets."

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 son."

"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.

"I 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."

Niall 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."

Eric understood. 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?"

This 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?"

Niall 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."

Shaking 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."

Smiling 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.

"Thousands 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."

Eric's arm 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!"

Nodding, 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 line continued."

Sookie's voice was hesitant, "So I am—"

"You 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 has."

"But what about my fae side?" Sookie interjected, bewildered.

"Your 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."

Sookie reeled inwardly. She felt small and insignificant despite the enormity of her existence. "What is the purpose of this world?"

"This 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 them."

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?"

He 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."

The 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 world."

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."

Silence.

Sookie's 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.

Resolute, 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?"

"Yes," Eric 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?"

"Sargon 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?"

"Be 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."

Niall 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 I'll come."

"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?"

Smiling, 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?"

Pain 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 remain open."

Sookie shook her head, perplexed. "Why was it so important that other supes here not know about me?"

The 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."

Sookie 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."

Sookie 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 kill him?"

"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."

"Excellent."

All 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.

Eric pushed 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—"

"Enough!" 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."

His 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 trustworthy."

"Indeed," the Pythoness assured.

"Let's keep 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."

Niall 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."

"Good." Eric 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."

They 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 sending."

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."

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."

"Ok."

Never taking his eyes from Sookie's, Eric asked, "Do you remember how I've told you vampires are forbidden from using or learning magic?"

"Yes."

"Sargon 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 the world."

Her hands were cold in his. "What happened?"

"War. 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."

"Sookie, 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."

"Sookie, 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. Understand?"

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.'

2 comments:

  1. Glad sookie is acting mature about the ommission part. Mothers will move heaven and earth to protect their children. LOL for the name discussions. Satellites indeed…drones too. The Holi thing was funny. Eggs is going to be difficult I think as well as SB. Glad Han/Ivan are on Eric's side. Hope Tara leaves with Eggs. She is sooo annoying. Has anyone else caught the fact that sookie really didn't have much choice in who she"claimed or named". Hope she figures out they are really equals or that he is not all high ruler of her. Every time I read sargon, I read sauron(lotr). Lol.

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  2. looky their our Sook is growing in leaps and bounds now lets see if she countinues or slips big time.... KY


    oops
    1-"Then why doesn't the were community just keep silent" need to capitalize WERE "Were community.
    2-"know of weres and shifters and have" need to capitalize WERE and Shifter "Weres and Shifters"
    3-"Now, the only way Eric can kill her if she moves against him is by killing my brother" this sentences confuses me.... it missing a word byt the last part i am perplexed.... "kill her is if she moves agianst him" now the following confuses me like something is missing.... : "is by killing my brother"
    4 -

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