My blood was humming with blood lust, but I had to keep myself reigned in. I was careful not to breathe even once.
The prince was hours away from death. His skin had taken on an unpleasant purple color and he could scarcely move.
“How does it feel, old man?”
I dragged his dead weight through the unnaturally manicured rose garden in which Freyda would shortly be taking her nightly walk.
“How does it feel to have had what you desire most so close, and to know that it will be ripped from you forever?”
The pathetic thing was trying to speak, but only moans escaped his lips. His eyes were alive even as his body failed. He would have killed me a thousand times if he could. I fisted a handful of his wispy white-blonde hair and ripped it from his scalp and threw it aside.
“You slipped. You came to reason with me, you trusted a vampire that you had grievously wronged. Did you think I had forgiven? I do not forgive, Fairy. I do not forget. Tonight, you die.”
I propped him on a stone bench, removed an iron poker from my bag, and thrust it into his thigh. He screamed and I laughed quietly. I withdrew an iron rasping file and picked up one of his limp feet.. I began to file…
“We have to make sure you stay where I leave you.”
I removed the counterfeit amulet from my pocket and put it in his ragged and blood soaked coat. I then picked up his hands and withdrew the iron needles and examined his fingernails.
“Freyda has been looking for this for some time, you see it resembles an amulet that reflects a being’s heart’s desire.” I inserted first one then another under each nail as he howled. “She hopes to bring all the kingdoms in this country to heel, one monarch at a time, but first she intends to regain control of me. I intend for her to believe she has accomplished this.”
I grabbed the poker and slowly removed it, watching as the once proud prince writhed in agony. His blood was beginning to overwhelm me, but I had to ensure that it would cause the much younger Queen to lose all control. I stabbed it into the other thigh, before taking to the sky to watch from a safe perch.
Drawn by the sounds and scent of bleeding fairy, several guards were quickly closing in on Freyda’s prey. I could let them devour Niall and present the amulet, but Freyda would be wary of it if she did not find it herself.
I chose to intercept.
I picked them off easily, plucking them from their blood thirst induced tunnel vision, and twisted their heads off.
I smelled her coming.
With a glee one can only know when victory is all but certain, I retreated to the rooftop once again.
She did not disappoint. Niall was obliterated in seconds, what remained of the mightiest prince the fairies had seen in hundreds of years was dust sparkling and drifting on the night breeze.
What an idiot, she was. Was she so young that she did not know that scattering fairy dust was a sure way to attract and alert other fairies of the death of their kin? No, I thought it much more likely that she was too intoxicated to for coherent thoughts. Niall’s blood would be a powerful drink indeed. It was almost a shame to have wasted so much.
What ensued was not unexpected. Guards continued to be drawn by the lingering scent and the blood I had spilt. The queen and her force had a violent orgy in her rose garden. I waited hours for them to finish.
When dawn was close, the lethargy stealing into each of them brought them back to reality. Niall’s clothes were searched. The amulet was found.
Now I had only to go to ground and wait for her to test its authenticity tomorrow.
The ease with which others allowed themselves to be manipulated, had always astounded me.
I rose with purpose. I had slept in the earth. I was centered.
I flew to the roof as the last dim rays faded, burning my skin slightly, but no matter. I knew I would be in the building securely before any saw me. Breaking off a metal grate, I climbed in to the ventilation system that connected to each of the sealed bedrooms. I had memorized where to go. When I found her room, I watched her stir. Like my child, she was not early to rise and quite groggy. She sat up and I saw she was already wearing the false charm.
I grinned to myself. Such greed. I wondered if the invitations had already been sent to other monarchs. She would not need much guiding.
I waited for her to bathe, then let myself into her chamber.
When she returned I swept her into my arms and called out the name I knew would seal her fate.
I kissed her and kissed. She was at first quite taken aback and confused at my sudden appearance, but all too quickly began to reciprocate. I hoped she believed she had not heard the guard announce me.
I got the odious task of fucking Freyda out of the way then pulled her close to me and looked in her eyes.
“Don’t leave me again,” I feigned.
“Never, my darling. We will be together forever.” She fingered the ball of amber resting upon her breast. It was time.
“We must celebrate!” I informed her. “We must call together those who have mourned you!”
“Mourned me, my love? How do you mean?” but her eyes were gleaming. She wanted to show her power over me where no other had it.
“The king of Nevada and Arkansas was devastated when he lost you as well, however, my darling, he no longer controls Louisiana. You will never guess the vampire in custody of that state! Bill Compton!”
Freyda’s woeful lack of knowledge about Sookie was evident in the way she just smiled and nodded. I wanted to keep her as off balance as I could and expecting her to have Sookie’s memories was an excellent tool.
“Shall I send the message, my love? Or shall we run away together and never look back?” I asked and kissed her again. Though it repulsed me, I had never been so affectionate to her and she was reeling.
“No, why should we go, my love, when I have only just returned to you? I shall send the necessary invitations. Perhaps we can have him here tonight,” she intoned with lust for power in her voice. She quickly added, “Would that please you… Master?” I could have laughed at the notion of Sookie calling anyone ‘master,’ but Freyda assumed all humans acted like sycophants.
“Very much, little one. Run along, I must bathe.”
“Eric, you’re filthy,” she was abandoning her pretense. Testing how much she would be able to bend my will.
“I slept in the ground to get to you quickly. Are you displeased?”
“You have ruined my linens. Go wash immediately.”
“As you wish, my love.”
She grinned with full fangs and a dark fire in her eyes. I left her alone.
I lingered as long as possible in the shower. I wanted to scrub away all evidence of her on me. I did not want her scent to offend my senses any longer than it must. When I finished, I donned my filthy garments and hid myself once more in the ventilation shaft. My bag of weapons greeted me. Silently I selected a silver tipped stake and a silver bladed dagger, and kept them ready.
Freyda returned with De Castro as expected, but I had not expected the third monarch in her company.
Bill Fucking Compton, King of Louisiana, by purchase no less, looked very confused.
Freyda was making overtures to both vampires as if she was the woman of their very dreams (in fairness, she believed she was) and, while Felipe was responding in kind, Compton was politely trying to extricate himself from the limbs, both male and female, pulling him into the tryst.
I had no desire to kill Compton, but was unsure it was wise to leave him alive. I had not intended on witnesses. No sense in meeting true death as a punishment for a revenge I was due.
“Eric, darling! Come and join us!” she called in the direction of the wash closet.
I had to make a decision.
If I had to kill Bill, I would kill Bill.
I shot out of the vent and straight for the fornicating king and queen. In seconds I had parted Oklahoma’s head from her body and buried the stake in Nevada’s chest. I’d ruined her sheets again. I found this amusing. They were flaking away and reeking as I turned to the vampire that had once been my vassal.
He was crouched in a defensive posture, waiting for me to move.
He relaxed slightly when I didn’t immediately kill him. He looked at me with his cool mask devoid of all emotion and spoke one word almost in the form of a question.
I said nothing.
Silence reigned for some time while we regarded one another.
“Eric Northman, I killed these vampires because they were planning a coup. You were witness to Oklahoma’s plan, were you not?” He flashed me a rare grin, which I returned. William Compton now had the right to claim another three states, effectively making him the most politically powerful vampire on the continent.
“I was, and will support any claim you make on this state and the others.”
“You’ve no interest in a kingdom of your own?”
“None. I have never desired to be a king.”
His grin broadened, and for a moment I could almost understand Sookie’s initial attraction. He looked handsome, approachable even, despite fully extended fangs.
“Eric, I never expected you to be the author of my good fortune. I’ve always hated you.”
At this, I actually laughed. “The feeling is mutual.”
“Would you consider a post as a sheriff?”
“I am not seeking political employment of any kind at this time.”
“May I ask why not?”
“Freyda started a war with the fairies last night. Niall is dead. I do not wish to be involved in the backlash given our… history.”
Whatever he was expecting, it was not that. He lost his smile quickly and began to pace.
“This strengthens your claim, however and spun as retaliatory deaths it may be enough to stem the tide of anger in the Fae before it is out of control. I suggest you contact the Ancient Pythoness and Desmond Cataliades immediately to begin communications with the lesser rulers. They will be in an uproar until a new Sky Prince is crowned.”
He nodded. “I take it he hasn’t any successor?”
“None that I have met that will be capable of leading their people.”
Bill heaved a sigh. I hated it when vampires did that out of the company of humans. Bill was notorious for such human quirks. “I wish I had a liaison. Sookie would have been perfect, we could still be near her without causing more damage.”
It was my turn to grin like a lunatic. This promised to be pure gloating pleasure. “Bill, I have someone I would like you to meet.”