Chapter 05: In With the New

Eric Northman walked in with his retinue and instantly, he owned the room. In a sea of disinterested aristocrats, monarchs, warriors and the new younger vampires, he took over like a storm wave and no one could look elsewhere.

The procession of ancient vampires somberly proceeded through the grand ball room and everyone but the Ancient Pythoness and Eric, stopped at the edge of the stage, forming a formidable line of protection around the Viking. Eric held out his hand for the Pythoness to help her on the stage and then the two turned towards their waiting audience.

The sheer power of them standing there commanded the attention of all present vampires even without the master of ceremonies calling for silence. The Ancient Pythoness took a step forward and declared the Viking as the king of Louisiana and Mississippi, and a member of the supernatural council. A murmur ran through the room as all vampires finally beheld the face behind the change that was coming to them.

As part of the ancient formal ceremony of coronation of a new King, the vampires present were asked if there was anyone who wanted to challenge Eric or lay any claim for the monarchy.

The present vampires were shocked and impressed. It had been a long time indeed when a new monarch had had the courage to follow that part of the coronation ceremony. Most just perceived it as a threat and skipped the part. A few called it preposterous. But truth remained that it took real courage and a whole lot of crazy to do it and Eric had a lot of both these qualities.

In fact, there was just one other instance when a challenge had been put forward and coincidentally, it happened two thousand years ago in Viking country. The rulers were the twin brothers Abjörn and Ágeirr, who now ruled the modern Sweden, Norway and Finland. A few suspected that Eric had a connection with them but no one knew anything certain about that story.

When the challenge was spoken, it was as if the ground had swallowed up everyone present. There was pin drop silence as no one could take a step forward or even move and it was not because of the ceremony, or the scary looking blond vampires with Eric, or the guards, or the Ancient One. It was how Eric looked at each one of them with a cold hard gaze. It was the way he stood in front of everyone with complete self-assurance. It was the glint of power and dominance in his speckled blue eyes. Even those who had known him for years saw a shift in him. Something had surely changed in him. Something had grown in Eric Northman that now commanded the respect of each and every one that set eyes on him.

It took one whole of year of scheming and planning and healing and a millennium of accumulated experience before he reached this moment, this stage, this room full of vampires looking up at him…

..

It took Eric three months to heal from being burnt in the sun…Three excruciating months of being bedridden and weak and dependent after a millennium of power… He was saved because he had been in the Kingdom of his sire’s siblings and even when he said he wanted to be alone, they still ordered the special humans in their retinue to check on him from time to time for feeding. He had been very lucky that two humans were already on their way towards him when his Warlow sunscreen wore off and he started to burn.

When they found him, his skin and hair were gone, along with most of his muscles. His extremities were burnt and he was crippled without his hands and his toes. Eric cursed, he sulked and he brooded…He didn’t say it and it wasn’t easy but he was thankful for Pam being constantly with him in those months. Later he was thankful for the fact that for the first time in his long undead life, he got so much period of safe inactivity that forced him to just really sit and think about well, everything. It was truly painful when his body grew back little by little. It was more than painful when he forced himself to confront his demons while the healing happened.

So many shitty mistakes!

Why had he let imbeciles like Bill rule over him when he could easily claim power, and perhaps then, the clusterfuck with the humans would not have happened! He let his progenies walk into disaster and then he had to follow them. He let his sister rot. He could not save her. Godric told him to protect Nora, and he failed Godric. He did avenge her death, but that would never bring her back.

Then there was Sookie Stackhouse. In all his years of undead existence, he finally found someone he loved so much that he even agreed to die for her. And what did she do? At the first test, she left him and walked out the door. And however bitter it may have left him, he did let her go. That was the right thing to do. But it left him bitter nonetheless. Bitter and empty! Worst thing was, Eric knew in his heart that if they came to such crossroads again, he would gladly lay down his life for her, again, and she would walk out on him, again, on some flimsy pretext, widening the hole she left when she walked out the last time. Fucking flighty fairies! Why did it bother him so much? Was she really worth all of it?

So many regrets!

But Eric moved on. And he did what he did the best, he survived. Death would not hold him back. Hell, his own death hadn’t stopped him and he had jumped at the choice Godric brought to him, to have an undead life. Heartbreak would not hold him back. Anger would not handicap him. He stepped up to be the man his human father would have been proud of. He stepped up to be the vampire Godric would have been proud of. He understood that he needed to let go of his past to move past the wall that was blocking him in his heart. He wanted to be the son, the maker, the vampire that he himself could approve of, could understand and could live with. Somehow, he found the strength to start his journey towards being that man, that vampire.

When he was healed, Eric started travelling across Europe to reform his ties with the ancient European monarchs Godric had trusted enough to be friends with. Being the progeny of one of the oldest and most respected vampires earned Eric a lot of allies. He made a point to stay most of the year with Abjörn and Ágeirr, working for them, with them and earning their trust and respect.

He knew the Supernatural Council had been planning to keep away till another monarch decided to claim the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, as was the norm with vampires. But he could not turn away from keeping those few people he still cared for, as safe as possible. So Eric got in touch with the Supernatural Council and started the process of setting up a new political structure for the bereft region again.

He contacted and secured the support of the few oldest vampires from the two states- Thalia, Sigebert, Wybert and Andre. Eric knew if he could convince these four to what he planned to do, the others would just step in line behind them and follow.

Sigebert and Wybert were around eight hundred years old, brothers from their human life and vampire siblings in their undead lives. They were Anglo Saxon warriors and even in their human lives had been frightening to look at. Both towered over six and a half feet, had broad frames and were heavily built. They were unruly, daring and very strong. But they had been swordsmen in their human lives and still remained so at heart. Give them a battle to fight and food and women to tide them over and they had everything they could ask for. Eric did not have to convince them for long. It involved a wager, a sword fight and a few injuries that the three of them could laugh off. They also saw that Eric was bold, fearless and spirited like them. The brothers lost the wager and like the honorable warriors they were, swore fealty to Eric.

Andre Paul was no warrior. His strength lay in his cunning and his ability to make problems disappear without a trace. He could be valuable if handled correctly. So when Eric approached him with an offer to be a sheriff and an iron bound contract, Andre recognized the importance of a good leader and the imminence of a bloody coup if someone worthwhile did not rise up to the task of bringing the state’s affairs under control. He also appreciated Eric’s foresight and his crafty art of negotiation. He readily accepted the offer.

Before becoming sheriff, Thalia lived a lonely life and liked it that way. Put her in a group of humans or vampires and she became an outright sociopath. Even if she followed all rules, vampires avoided her like a plague and humans were plain terrified of her. But the tainted true blood and infected humans hit everybody, and Thalia was not unaffected. She became even more antisocial and distrusted everyone. She was also two centuries older than Eric, a vicious and accomplished warrior and best of all, Eric saved her life once and now she owed him a favor. It was tough to get around her non responses but Eric was slick and finally succeeded in bringing her around. Add to that Eric was probably the only vampire that had a favor with Thalia. As aloof and as prickly as she was, she admired a good warrior and could follow a worthwhile leader. Once she promised Eric her loyalty, Eric was sure that she had his back and she was the only one he decided to trust with his own previous area to oversee. Needless to say, his first task for Thalia had been to issue an edict to make “fairies” and “part fairies” in his states, untouchable by vampires, without consent.

The four new sheriffs were all honorable in their own ways, powerful and old. The other thing they had in common was a hearty contempt for their previous King Bill. With everything going on, the four accepted the fact that the option Eric gave them was really the best one they had. No telling when some other vampire laid claim to the states and what kind of fate they would have after that. They knew Eric since decades. They knew he could be the leader everyone was missing. So, they came on board and together they met the Supernatural Council to claim Louisiana and Mississippi. With the numbers each of the five was representing, the council could not refuse and they accepted Eric’s claim. Eric became king and Thalia, Sigebert, Wybert and Andre became his sheriffs.

..

Most of the existing monarchs had already seen it coming, given that after the true deaths of Russel Edgington and Godric and not counting the Ancient Pythoness, Eric Northman was now the oldest vampire among them, younger only to Thalia who swore fealty to him. He could have claimed kingship over Louisiana years before but had always stayed away from an active role in politics. Even younger, few could have willingly wanted to face him in a battle of arms or wits. Age only improved what already was magnificent in Eric and today, they could all see that he absolutely knew and embraced it.

So when the choice was spoken out, no one challenged Eric Northman’s claim.

Eric came forward and kneeled on one knee in front of the Ancient Pythoness. She held a plain gold circlet and spoke chants of protection over it, before placing it over the Viking’s brow. Then he was crowned with his ancient Viking crown and was presented with his sword and a shield depicting the sea and a sword. Eric rose and the folded blue silk banner was unfurled for the first time. On the turquoise blue material were embroidered in gold thread, a few waves and a sword, that now represented the Viking. All present vampires nodded deeply in respect for the new king, the younger ones, kneeling in deference.

The ceremony went on for most of the night. Each of the sheriffs, along with Eric’s progenies Pam and Willa, and Tara, offered their blood to their king in the charmed golden goblet, as a sign of their oath, and swore fealty again in front of all witnesses and the Pythoness. Every vampire from the states of Louisiana and Mississippi came forth one by one to congratulate Eric and to swear loyalty for his rule and took an oath to protect him and those under his protection with their lives. As expected, Bill Compton was one of the last ones to approach the stage and his expression was not congratulatory.

 

 

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