Finding my ex vampire boyfriend wasn’t the difficult part of this crazy mission I was on. Yeah, I knew this was crazy. But I was still going to do this. I wanted to help Jess. And it wasn’t as if I was cheating on Eric or anything right? I was just going to go see Bill for Jessica’s sake. And then I was going to go back to my sleeping viking.
So I spied on the guards, the staff, the help, anyone I could get a latch on telepathically, and luckily came upon the location of the dungeons. Figured that Eric had a dungeon here too. I guess old habits died hard. He did have a reputation to maintain.
Dodging the guards was a whole another animal though. I got till the gates of hell so to speak. Got past it by throwing my weight, attitude, fae royalty status, and eventually Eric’s name around. Another guard came up, asked permission to scent me and though it was weird, I ‘presented’ my wrist for a whiff. He inhaled once and quickly took a step back.
“Miss Stackhouse, would you please tell me why you wish to see this Compton fellow?”
“Ummm, he is the maker of one of my friends. She asked me to check on him and ask what he needs her to do. I’ll keep my distance. I don’t want to be anywhere near him.”
His brow scrunched in confusion.
“The vampires are all dead for the day. You won’t be able to talk to him right now.”
Shoot! And why didn’t I think about that?
“But sunset is near.”
“Then might I suggest that you let us consult with the king first? He will be up before the others.”
Oh boy! That was not the plan. Eric would never let me go in there. Much less ‘see’ Bill! I was thinking with my eye-teeth here!
“Oh umm…Then I’ll just take a look and…” think of another plan to talk to him later, ” be on my way. The talking part was not important anyways.No big deal. Just let me see him once.” I shrugged for good measure.
This time the guard nodded and asked me to follow him. I sighed in relief and started after him.
He led me to a dankest, smelliest, darkest shithole these people called a cell, in an obscure corner of a number of meandering passages which held more locked cells. Each one had heavy iron doors, not bars. He checked through a small slider panel through the door and looked at me.
“He’s in there. Out dead.”
“Can you open the door?”
I knew he was thinking it over and I didn’t want him to come up with another excuse for not doing so, “Look he is dead. It’s not like he can escape or anything. You’ll be right here. Outside. Just ten steps away.”
“Ok. I’ll open the door. But no going near the prisoner. Maintain more than an arms length of distance.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“If the king decides to kill me for this, make sure to tell him this as your idea.”
He approached the door, scanned a card followed by his fingertips, and the door slid open soundlessly. So dingy was where the dungeonness of this particular establishment ended. Then he stepped back.
I had to squint to make out the inside. It was not pitch black but the eerie blue light was dim and not enough for my mostly human eyes, even when I had Eric’s blood in me. I could just make out a form hanging on chains on the far wall, motionless, naked, somewhat shriveled. I took another step towards him. Then another and then another. Till I was a foot from him. His body was bleeding at various places. Those places were not healing. His face was streaked with dried blood tears. His legs and feet hung awkwardly, not really looking aligned enough to support his body in a useful way.
I looked at him and tried to feel something a human would feel at such a gory sight. I tried to tell myself that what was being done to him was monstrous and that I should be thinking about talking to Eric about letting him go. I conjured images of him, in a similar state in Mississippi, when I had rescued him from his maker and killed Lorena in the process. However, that memory also brought the memory of my subsequent draining at the hands of my then gentleman boyfriend.
So in the end, all I could drudge up inside me was an urge to puke all over Bill’s dark cell floor and run away.
“Good that Jess didn’t see you like this Bill.” I said under my breath, “You are pathetic. I probably shouldn’t have come here.”
I turned to leave.
A pair of legs went around me from behind, effectively grabbing me. Then I felt the searing hot pain of my shoulder getting bitten off. Savagely.
I didn’t even get the chance to scream.
I was having an out of body experience. There was a haze in my vision. I was in two places at once. In a dank dark cell under Eric’s mansion, getting drained by a tortured, hungry, not supposed to be up for the day vampire, and in a dark dirty moving vehicle getting drained by a tortured, hungry, not supposed to be up for the day vampire. Pinned, shocked, horrified!
I was aware of the guard rushing in and pulling Bill off me. There were loud noises coming from around me. Someone else grabbed me and was leading me out. That nasty bite on my shoulder was painful. Excruciatingly so. I could barely keep my head straight and walk. But I managed to walk the few steps out of the cell and reached the passage outside.
I couldn’t believe this happened to me. I just couldn’t. Bill attacked me. Fucking again! Came out of the dead to drink my blood. And I walked right into it. Like a fucking dinner goat!
Suddenly the hands that held me let go and I swayed. Only to be caught by another set of hands. Colder ones this time. I blinked to clear my vision and saw Eric’s blue eyes come into my line of sight.
“Errr iicc..” I croaked.
“Quite!” he growled. I heard the telltale snick of fangs popping. His right hand left my back and he bit into his wrist, pressing the wound on my lips before I could say anything else. I just drank.
The pain began to ebb. I felt the tingling of the tear on my shoulder stitching itself. Then the wrist was taken away. Eric wiped my lips with his thumb, tilted my head and inspected the damage. A low rumble started building in his chest.
Before I knew it, I was being leaned on the wall in front of Bill’s open cell. I looked for Eric and saw a guard getting torn apart, right down the middle of his torso before I saw my new vampire boyfriend tearing him. I was just trying to come to terms with the sight of the mangled wolf when the other one let out a roar of pain as Eric dangled him three feet over the floor with by his throat.
The eerie calm with which Eric said that one word to the hanging were guard shook me.
I had seen angry Eric, mad Eric, depressed Eric, excited Eric and last but not the least, silly amnesiac Eric. This one, however, was new. The look on his face, his arctic eyes, his quite voice scared me. And I had never been scared of Eric before.
“Sh..sh..she in..insisted” coughed out the were.
The were looked at me. Eric didn’t.
“So you open the gates of my prison for anyone who waltzes by and insists to go in?”
“She’s yours.” he whimpered.
“The whole damn state is mine.” he growled.
“And the next state and the next one as well. The rules…” Eric swung the were and banged his head against the stone floor, then got into his eyes to stare at him “…you should have followed, are mine too. So, I’ll ask again, you open the doors for anyone who walks in and asks you to?”
“I..I…I don’t know what happened your Majesty. I didn’t mean to let her in. But she asked me to let her go in and I couldn’t refuse her.”
This time, Eric did look at me. I couldn’t decipher the look.
“He’s right. I asked him to go. He told me you’d kill him for this. I still wanted to go in.” I whispered, knowing he’ll hear me clearly, “Please Eric. You don’t have to kill him too.”
Eric didn’t remove his gaze from me while his fingers bent into claws, ripped into the guard’s chest and pulled out his heart, instantly killing him.
Four more weres rushed to the scene and halted at the door of the cell, blocking my view. Each one of them took a step back when they saw the state of the cell. Eric stood up, towering over the others so I could clearly see his face. He took out his silk pocket scarf, wiped his hands and removed his blood splattered suit jacket and tie.
“Four of you were on guard duty as well?”
“Yes your majesty” one of them answered, ” We were patrolling the other cells.”
“Hmmm. And it took you a whole minute to reach here after a breach.”
Everyone went silent. Their thoughts however were hard to miss. They were dizzy with cold, dark fear.
“Eric I can explain. They …”
“QUITE!” Eric roared in anger, cutting me off and showing emotion for the first time since he came in, “Go upstairs, clean up and wait for me.” he ordered.
I took a couple of steps back.
“Eric you can’t order me around like that.” Even to me, my voice sounded pitifully weak. “Please don’t kill anyone else. No one else has to die for this.” I said slowly, holding up my hands as if caressing the air would caress him and maybe cool him off a bit. I didn’t want him killing anyone else. I couldn’t have more deaths on my hands. Not for my stupidity.
“Sir we..we are sorry. We got here as fast as we could.”
I knew they shouldn’t have said that. Eric turned from me to stare at the four cowering weres.
“Not. Fast. Enough.”
I knew before the blood hit my face what Eric was going to do to them.
It was surreal to watch four more bodies getting torn apart, almost simultaneously to my mostly human eyes. Bleeding body parts lay everywhere I looked. I watched Eric in shock and all I saw in his eyes was cold angry bloodlust. There was nothing human in those eyes. My lover was nowhere there. I loved Eric. But this was too much for me to stomach. How many people were going to die at his hands tonight? And for what?
I saw more weres and vampire rush in at the scene. Eric moved towards Bill and grabbed his hair to bring Bill’s face close to his.
“You just committed a blood crime Compton. Against me. You dared to lay hands on MY SOOKIE…I won’t give you the easy deaths these weres got away with. I am going to cut you to strips and let you burn in the sun till the point there is nothing left to burn. Then I am going to feed you your progeny’s blood and let you watch her burn in the sun while you recover and then cut you to strips again. This is going to go on and on and on for you Compton. You will not even remember your own name when I am done with you. You and your worthless progeny…”
“STOP!” I shouted hysterically.
Eric turned towards me, just as four more were’s and two vampires took position around him. The weres hid it well but I could feel their fear and disgust at the sight of the dead body parts lying around. The vampires looked amped up, fangs down, hands curled to look like claws, eyes darting around at super speed, taking every bit of the damage in. They looked at me and their pupils dilated at the scent of my blood, still in the air from that bite before.
I felt like I was in a really bad horror movie that I wouldn’t even want to watch. I just wanted to run away from all of it and wash myself off the gore.
Eric let Bill’s hair go and stepped towards me. He was still covered in bits of were.
“NO…Don’t…just stop Eric.”
He froze midstep, shocked at my angry words.
I knew it was a bad idea to say this at that time, but someone needed to say it.
“You can’t just kill people like that. You didn’t even stop to listen to them.”
His eyes grew arctic again.
“I will do what I have to do Sookie. They should have known better than to let you in. And to see Compton no less.” he sneered the last part. “He could have killed you here. ON MY WATCH. Just go Sookie. Go get cleaned up and we need to have a talk about what happened here.”
“No. I will not go. You cannot order me around.” I argued, my own anger bubbling inside me at being ordered around like a two bit slave. At that point, I didn’t even know whether it was my own anger or Eric’s flowing through me, fueling our spat. “What happened here was you loosing your brains and going on a mindless killing spree. That guard warned me to stand far but I forgot about it. He still SAVED ME FROM BILL. You just KILLED HIM!”
“That fucking mongrel was the one who put you in danger in the first place!” yelled Eric, “They all had my instructions. No one, not even you, was to go near Bill fucking Compton. What if instead of sticking his dirty fangs in you, he had snapped your neck?”
“Then that was MY FUCKING PROBLEM!” I yelled back.
“The FUCK IT WAS!”
Eric vamp-sped to stand right in front of me and looked deep in my eyes, “You are mine!” he growled and grabbed my shoulders, “What happens to you is my problem. Someone attacking you is my problem. Someone tries to drain you under my roof is MY FUCKING PROBLEM!”
I didn’t think he knew how painful his hands on my shoulders were getting. I also knew my tears were not far away. But I didn’t want to cry in front of the other weres and vampires, and least of all in front of Eric. While I understood why Eric was so angry, I also knew this was more about the pissing contest he had had going with Bill since Bill and I first walked into Fangtasia all those years back.
In the state Eric was in, I didn’t think he was capable of talking like a sane person. I wasn’t either. I had to get away from him for a few breaths.
“Let go Eric. I need to take a walk.”
He immediately let go of me.
“Don’t go out of my doors. It’s not safe.”
“That won’t be far enough away from you.”
As soon as I said that, I regretted the words. Eric’s face looked like I had slapped him. I felt a stab of hurt from him and then he shut off his emotions from me. I began to reach out to him but he took a step back, reached inside his pocket and held out a set of keys to me.
“Here. Take my car and go wherever you need to go.”
“Stephen, Nick…” two vampires zoomed in to stand five steps behind me, “take Miss Stackhouse to the garage. She needs to drive and get some air. You’ll follow.”
He said the last two words looking at me, eyebrow raised, as if challenging me to refuse the security. I decided not to rise up to it.
“This way Miss Stackhouse.”
One of the vamps gestured in a direction for us to take. I looked at Eric and he was staring fixedly at the wall behind me, resolutely not meeting my eyes. I just nodded sadly and followed Nick, or Stephen, or whoever it was, out of there, not caring one bit about how disheveled I must have looked.