Back in the states Eric and Godric are preparing for an audience with the Queen. It isn’t quite full dark yet. They had time to discuss their strategy one last time before leaving for Sophie-Ann’s court.
They were at the compound shortly after first dark but, since they weren’t expected, she was punishing them by making them wait, whether she was actually busy or not, until she was damn good and ready to meet with them.
Finally the mountains that she called bodyguards allowed them entrance to the court after having them sit there for nearly three hours.
“Northman, Godric, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
They bowed, “Majesty, I understand you have been trying to contact me?”
What has become of Bill?”
“The Magister did not contact you?”
“He did not. Why would he?”
“I don’t know Majesty unless it’s because Bill is still one of your subjects and is being punished.”
She sighed, so hard put upon she was. “What did that moron do this time?”
“Majesty, he raped and beat a human to within an inch of her life many times over the course of three weeks. When it was discovered I was called in and she asked for my protection, which I granted and put in a complaint, on her behalf, before the Magister. He is currently serving a year in a coffin wrapped in silver and has to surrender half last year’s gross to her to pay her medical bills.”
“A year for beating a human? A little excessive isn’t it?”
“He was letting his mouth get the better of him so the Magister tacked on another six months.”
“Who was the human?”
“A woman by the name of Sookie Stackhouse.”
Her eye twitched almost imperceptibly, damn that Compton! He never could do the simplest jobs correctly! “What happened to the girl?”
“Majesty, I called in Dr. Ludwig and she treated her. Her kidneys were bruised, there wasn’t an inch on her body that wasn’t some shade of black, blue or purple, several broken ribs as well as other bones, her larynx was nearly beyond repair. She survived with Dr. Ludwig’s care and my blood.”
“You gave her your blood? Why?”
“Majesty, I needed to hear her story and it would have been many weeks, possibly months, until I could have heard it. She needed to eat as well.”
“Where is she now?”
“I do not know. She went into hiding in fear for her life.”
“Why would she fear for her life if Bill is in a coffin?”
“Majesty, his Maker interrupted the proceedings, offering to do Bill’s punishment. When the Magister told her he would serve the first half and she could serve the last half she lost her temper so she was told they would each be serving a year and she couldn’t serve his time for him. At this point she lost control and started choking Ms. Stackhouse. I tried to make her let go but she wouldn’t. When the girl lost consciousness she threw her against the Magister’s bus breaking her neck and back.
For this the Magister sentenced her to five more years in a coffin, to be served before she meets her final death, leaving her estate to Ms. Stackhouse.”
“How did the girl survive such injuries?” She had a sneaking suspicion she knew the answer, if it is what she was thinking she would kill Compton herself.
“Majesty, I turned her. She is my child now.”
“That still does not explain why she is in fear for her life.”
“Majesty, Lorena, Bill’s Maker, escaped the day before yesterday so I sent her to ground until this problem can be dealt with.”
“I am going to kill Compton once his punishment is over! I sent him to procure the girl for me. I wanted her telepathy for myself. Tell me, did her telepathy survive her turning Eric?”
“No Majesty, it did not.”
“Pity, she would have been most helpful at the summit next year. Is there anything else Sheriff?”
“Actually there is Majesty. I would like to relinquish my Sheriffdom. My Maker has called me and my children to him.”
“I will be sorry to lose you. Do you have anyone in mind to take over for you?”
“Maxwell Lee. He has a good mind, is good with numbers and has helped on occasion when neither myself nor Pam has been available to do the job.”
“Very well. It shall be so. You will have until the end of the week to transfer everything over to him and teach him what he needs to know to do the job correctly.”
“Thank you Majesty, it will be so.”
“Good, if there is nothing else…”
“Good, you are dismissed.”
They bowed to her and left court, not saying anything until they were high in the air. “Master, that was a little too easy.”
“It was but I think she will let you go. I think she’s angrier with Bill than she is that Sookie was turned and ‘lost’ her telepathy. She will take it out on him, and Lorena, if she ever gets hold of her.”
“Hmmm, maybe I should contact my contacts, see where she is and tip off the Queen, kill two birds with one stone.”
“It certainly couldn’t hurt and I’m sure Sookie would be ecstatic that you were in no danger. You are going to let her know you’ll be with her some time next week, right?”
“Once I have my reservations confirmed, yes.”
He took out a disposable cell: to Sookie: All’s well. Queen agreed 2 let me resign. Finalising. 3 you. C u soon.
To Pam: On our way home. B there by sun up. Old tree house.
Pam: All’s well?
Eric: Yes. Queen agreed 2 let me resign. Godric here.
Pam: How is Gramps?
He snickered as he showed it to Godric: Fine. Heard from S?
Pam: Yes. Bet you did too. Heard just after sun up here. said she went to ground.
Eric: Yes, she did. Anything on L?
Pam: Last seen in Jackson 2 hours ago.
He dialed the Queen’s number, “Andre, if the Queen would like a crack at Lorena she was last seen in Jackson about two hours ago. She will probably start her search for Sookie here so it would be my guess she would head down I20 to come straight here once she rises.”
“Why are you telling us this Northman? Do you not want her for trifling with what is yours?”
“If the Queen does not want her for taking away what she thought of as hers I will gladly do away with the wretch.”
“I will let you know shortly.” He hung up.
Eric: relayed msg to Queen. Hoping she takes care of the problem.
Pam: We’re not going to take her down? 😦
Eric: No. tying up loose ends then going to S.
Pam: Hmpf. you’re no fun any more.
Eric: I do try to keep you entertained, sorry I am failing.
Pam: Snark. Msg. from S. all’s well & she 3 me. what is 3?
Eric: 3 is heart. means she loves you.
Sookie: 3 u Master. c u soon. phone off so no GPS.
Eric: 3 u 2. c u soonest. regards to companion.
Eric: Bring Maxwell Lee with you 2nite. He’s new Sheriff.
Pam: Srios? He’ll be thrilled.
Eric: Srios. hours treehouse.
Back in Italy:
“Izzy, Master says the Queen is allowing him to resign! He’ll be here the soonest he can!”
“That is good news.”
“Yes. It’s only been a day and I miss him like crazy.
I should have asked you yesterday, did everyone make it out of the bombing okay?”
“We lost two vampires and four humans, Hugo being one of them.”
“I am sorry.”
Isabel’s eyes were red rimmed now, “Did he love me Michelle?”
“His thoughts said he did and people can’t lie to themselves. They can try but eventually the truth makes itself known.
Do they know who blew the nest up?”
“It was FOTS. A young man came in wearing a bomb and blew himself up trying to take us down. Apparently the FOTS is now training young people to kill vampires. He said something about the Light of Day Institute.”
“That’s so sad, training young people to hate. Human babies are born into this world with no preconceived ideas or prejudices, they learn it all from us, their parents and mentors.
The sun is coming. I’m going to bed. Sleep well Izzy.”
“You too Michelle. I’ll see you tonight.”
Sookie lay there, in the bed which was currently hers, wondering what they were doing back home, if they missed her. She certainly missed them. She turned to her side and pulled the t-shirt he had worn the last time she saw him from under the pillow. She put it to her nose and inhaled. As long as he was alive everything would be fine.
Eric was sitting on his couch in downtime, not really thinking anything.
He came to when he heard the knock at the door. It was Pam and Maxwell. Good, soon this nightmare would be over and they could start their new life.
“Pam, Maxwell.” They all nodded at each other. He sighed internally, he missed his Sookie’s fire, her body, the way she made these things so much easier for him.
“Maxwell, I have resigned as Sheriff. You are my replacement if you will have the job.”
“I would be honoured. Perhaps you could teach me how to deal with the Queen before she drives me insane?”
Eric laughed for the first time in what felt like days, “That is easy enough. I don’t unless I absolutely have to. When I must I show her deference, tell her what she wants to hear, make my plans to most easily and effectively accomplish what she wants without sacrificing what I want and get to it. Most times she wants nothing other than her taxes and her weekly report. As long as the area is prosperous and running well she won’t have cause to annoy you.”
“That’s it? Handle her with kid gloves and do what you want any way? You always have made it look easy.”
“That’s it. Tomorrow night I will show you where all the forms are and how to fill out the ones you need, give you the password for the Sheriff’s email account, the number for the hotline and the numbers for the other Sheriff’s so you will be part of the nightly phone chain.”
“With your leave I have just enough time to make it home. My pet was left standing in the middle of the bedroom when Pam came to get me. I didn’t have time to leave any instructions for her.”
“Of course. I will see you tomorrow night, first dark, at the bar to get this ball rolling so I can get out of here.”
Maxwell took his leave, leaving the three of them in the room.
“Godric, I’m glad to see you. Have you managed to keep my Maker in line? He’s incorrigible you know.”
“He wouldn’t be Eric if he weren’t. Your sister is magnificent, as you are in your own way.”
“She is. I miss her even though we haven’t had much of a chance to get to know one another yet. We will see her soon though. Are you going to be travelling with us?”
“I am once I settle things in Texas. The nest was clamouring for blood when we left. The King will calm them but it won’t be an easy truce.”
“What do you mean they are clamouring for blood? Did I miss all the fun again?” She glared at her Maker.
“I wouldn’t call a bomb blast and being impaled by thousands of pieces of silver fun.”
She continued glaring at her Maker, “I always miss out on the hunts. Please tell me you drained at least one of them.”
“I wasn’t there. The three of us had gone off to talk. When we returned vampires were climbing out of the rubble to take off after the perpetrators. Sookie and I were sent to a hotel to arrange for rooms and healing for the injured. That was when Sookie told you to go to ground, on her own initiative I might add. She wants her sister safe just as much as I do.
“The dawn is coming. It is time to rest. We will speak more tomorrow night. Be prepared for Lorena. I suspect she is headed this way.”
Just then his phone rang, “Speak.”
“Northman, the Queen accepts your parting gift. If she finds you before we find her subdue her, do not send her to her final death. The Queen wishes to take her vengeance for the loss of her telepath.”
“Very well. It will be done.”
They hung up, “That turned out nicely. The Queen will take our parting gift to take her vengeance for the ‘loss of her telepath’. We are to subdue her only if we should find her first. More correctly if she finds us first. ”
He took out his laptop and was soon on the Anubis page. Excellent! “Pam, can you be ready to leave by Sunday?”
“I am ready to leave now so yes.”
“Good, our flight leaves at 3 am. We should arrive just after dark. No need to pack much. I’m sure Sookie is going stir crazy so we will take her shopping.”
“May I ask where we’re going?”
“No. It’s a surprise, just pack light.”
Eric: have a good night my love. should be there Monday night just after dark. Have companion call me with contact info Saturday night.
“I am going to rest. Rest well and I will see you both tomorrow night.”
He lay down and pulled one of her shirts from his luggage. He held it to his nose and luxuriated in her scent.
She dried off and got dressed then checked her phone. She was ecstatic by the message there! “Izzy! He’s coming this weekend! He’ll be here Monday night! He wants you to call with contact information Saturday night! The Queen let him resign. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy!”
Isabel smiled at her young charge indulgently, “You certainly sound happy and excited. I am happy for you.”
She furrowed her brow, “You don’t sound so happy. What’s wrong?”
“Once I return to Texas I am to finish my punishment for bringing a traitor into the nest.”
“Surely Godric will lighten it since you have been so good to me.”
“Since it’s Godric he may but there’s really no telling.”
She texted Eric back: HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! 3 Counting the days. Is G coming with? P coming with?
To Pam: HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY! U coming with Master?
She turned her phone off and put it away, thinking about what Izzy had just said. “There is no way you can get out of it?”
“Not without paying double, or more, when they catch up with me.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
“Sookie, you’re young yet so you don’t know that sometimes these things have to happen. If I were to beg out other vampires would no longer respect me. If Godric were to go easier on me they would no longer respect him I deserve the punishment for bringing a traitor into the nest but that doesn’t mean I’m looking forward to it. I’ll pay the price because I deserve it, plain and simple.
You will learn this as you become older and have learned more about vampires and vampire society. No matter which continent you’re on we’re all the same, deep down inside. We’re all looking for that one person, vampire or human, that will complete us. No politics, no kidding around, we’re looking for our soul mate.
Judging by the way you and Eric look at each other I think you may have found your soulmate. If he hadn’t turned you I’m sure he would have chased you to the ends of the earth until you agreed to be his, to yield to him.”