THE ANCIENT PYTHONESS POV
It would have been “cheating” to help the Viking and the young telepath too much—or too directly—so I had not done so.
I would not do so.
After all, if they could not help themselves out of most of their scrapes . . . .
Why should I bother?
Plus, I did not like to cheat too much when it came to the future. Moreover, I believed in the Fates too much to piss them off—though I had never had the pleasure of actually meeting them.
But—like all things—I figured even that was just a matter of time.
Ironically, my attitude about noninterference made me a very unlikely individual to be a seer; indeed, the Fates had a sense of humor.
During my human days, not using my gift had been more difficult than it was now. Once my ability was discovered by my human people—the Spartans—I was isolated by them and named their Oracle. However, that did not mean my life was a comfortable one. On the contrary, when I resisted telling them all that I saw (for their own fucking good, I might add), they decided to keep me mildly to moderately drugged all the time in order to “encourage” my compliance.
In my constant state of “tipsiness,” I would mindlessly share my visions with them, though most of them did not even apply to them! In retrospect, I was glad that my visions of faraway places and future times sometimes led them to fuck up.
Though the Spartans publicly claimed that my virginity added to my “sacredness,” I was certainly no virgin!
At least not for long after I became the Oracle.
Plenty of the so-called powerful took me sexually. And why would they not? I was beautiful and alluring—mysterious and forbidden. During my younger years, I was considered very beautiful indeed! I had jet-black hair, and my eyes were bluer than the Mediterranean. Not to boast or anything, but I also had a body that any Siren would have killed for (and I had met a couple of them during my travels).
Yes—many Spartans “could not stop themselves” from sneaking private time with the “virginal” Oracle, and their attentions certainly did not take away from my gift. In fact, several of the Spartan men hoped to be able to father a child with me—one that inherited my abilities—but I never did become a mother.
At least not in the human fashion.
Despite not having many choices in my “life,” I actually enjoyed the sexual aspect of it. Perhaps, being drugged all the time was why I was receptive to my lovers’ attentions; I would never know for sure. However, given the way my life had “evolved,” any bitterness I had for the Spartans would have been a wasted emotion. They were all dead-dead, after all. And I was not. I had an existence that eventually allowed me to view them as ancient history.
I had not been turned in the prime of my beauty, but I could not be bitter about that either. Most other vampires were already intimidated by my gift—at least to an extent. That gift in a beautiful package would have created variables that would have been inconvenient for me.
With both fairy and elven blood flowing through my veins, I had already lived a long mortal life—of 125 years—by the time human age began to afflict me. My body wrinkled, and my joints became weathered, leading to my inability to walk quickly. Of course, my main “visible” affliction from others’ points of view was, ironically, something I could not see. Humans called the affliction cataracts these days, and they took away my ability to see with my eyes.
Sadly, though vampirism eliminated the pain that “human” aging brought with it, none of the marks of that aging went away after I was turned. I still had wrinkles. I still limped—unless I hovered (which I only ever did when I needed to move quickly). And I still could not see with my eyes the way a “normal” vampire would. I saw the “real world” only with my “second sight”; I “saw” only the future.
Never the now.
But, of course, it had been my “second sight” which had shown me my maker.
My maker found me because I found him. Beginning in my 120th year, I’d had visions of him—and visions of what my existence would be like as a vampiress. The Fates, in the end, allowed me the choice of whether or not to become a vampiress or to die as a quasi-human. Indeed, if I had not influenced one of my loyal handmaidens to find my maker in the city and give him a message for me, he would have never come to me.
But I did choose him, and—in turn—he offered me a freedom I had never known. Without the drugs I had been taking almost my entire life, my mind became clearer than ever before. And sharing my visions with others became my choice.
Indeed, my maker never forced me to use my gift—even for him—though I volunteered information that would help us in our travels together. In fact, my maker only ever gave me one command regarding my “sight”: to never tell him if I had a vision regarding his own true death.
Thankfully, the Fates had not been unkind to me when it came to that command. I never foresaw my maker’s demise. Thus, I did not have to experience the torture of not telling him; I simply rose one night knowing that he was gone.
On the other hand, the Fates had chosen to offer me glimpses of what my life could be like after my maker died, but—again—it was my choice what to become from there. I could have simply disappeared to a small Greek Isle, existing on blood from the natives of that land and never telling anyone of my visions. I could have “lived” through those visions—witnessing the world like a voyeur.
But what was the fun in that? My human life had been too claustrophobic as it was. Thus, I gathered a new group of handmaidens around me—some Were, some human, and some vampires that I chose to make (after offering them their own choices)—and eventually, I made myself “known” to the vampire population at large.
My first order of business had been to seek out those who established the first Supernatural Counsel in the Old World, for I had foreseen the good that they could do together. In turn, they asked me to become the arbiter for their most difficult cases. That role had always challenged and excited me, for my visions did not necessarily “help” me to know the whole truth. However, those whom I judged did not know that, and I learned to find the truth in a variety of ways. I also learned that the truly guilty always gave themselves away.
In one way or another.
Of course, being a one-person judge and jury—and being a seer—might have made me a target. But it was soon clear to all vampires that I was not one to air random dirty laundry—unless another dared to be a “real” threat to me. And—in the few cases when someone did—even the Fates could not protect him or her from my wrath.
I would use all that I knew and all of my craft to kill them and their progeny before they could move a single finger against me. Needless to say, word got around, and few had been tempted to act against me after my first century as a “known entity.”
Yes. For the most part, I was revered and valued—not unlike I was by the Spartans—yet there was a big difference in my current existence. I was free.
Free to do whatever the hell I wanted to do.
Free and trusted.
What rankled me the most about my human days was that I had—ironically—never been trusted by my own “human” people. I had been born to Spartan parents, who had been unaware of their Supernatural relatives. I had grown up being a Spartan—feeling national pride and loyalty. If I had been trusted—accepted—I would have chosen to use my gift to aid my people voluntarily. I scoffed at the ignorance of those who had quite literally held me captive. I was a future teller, and they had used my visions to plan battles and crops and governments—yet they had so little trust in me as a person.
“Hypocritical bastards,” I said aloud.
Indeed, to “protect” their secrets and the secrets of their little, temporary empire, the leader of Sparta even refused to allow a doctor to come to me when my actual vision first became blurry. My people had herbs that could have helped the problem—at least, slowing the progress of the cataracts. But I was not treated by doctors; my eyes were left to rot. Thus, by the end of my human life, I could see only shadows and a little light—like the dwellers in Plato’s cave allegory. Perhaps, that had always been the Fates’ intention, however. Indeed, sometimes the shadows that “real” beings emitted were more authentic than the beings themselves.
Thankfully, my other senses had grown since I had been turned; in fact, according to my maker, their unnaturally rapid growth was likely my vampire gift. Indeed, my ears and fingers and nose and tongue told me more about the world than my eyes had ever told me when I had been a human. And—my psychic visions added “sight” to the other senses in a way that probed far deeper than even a vampire’s eyes could.
Yes—the Fates had been kind to me in many ways.
In turn, I had certainly limited the number of times that I had fucked with any of their plans.
As I said—I did not “cheat” often.
But I did cheat when something out in the larger world truly interested me.
And—simply put—the fairy and the vampire who fell in love and bonded interested me. I had lived a very long time and witnessed many, many things—both through experience and through my visions. One thing that I never thought I would see, however, was genuine love between a vampire and a fairy. Of course, Sookie Stackhouse was not all fairy; had she been, Compton would have certainly killed her. The Gods knew, he had almost killed her as it was!
But she had survived him. Sookie was just enough fairy to “match” Northman—to make their match interesting. And—then—there was her telepathy. It made me feel connected to her. Had she been alive during my human time, she may very well have been treated and used as I was. Indeed, during certain points of Sookie’s life, it was only the Fates themselves that had prevented her from being exploited by her own government.
Perhaps, they had helped because Sookie, too, innately knew that she should not use her gift to cheat the Fates out of their own fun.
Though the future of the fairy and her vampire was coming more and more into focus with each vision I had of them, it was not quite yet set—even as it pertained to the de Castro issue. But the pair of lovers had a better than average chance of surviving that conflict. And, if they did survive the next week, there would be years of relative peace for them. And, by the time strife visited itself upon them again, I had “seen” that Miss Stackhouse would be a formidable vampire by her maker’s side.
I smiled to myself. Yes—Sookie’s “fairy nature” and her demon blood would make her a very interesting vampire, indeed! She would be stronger than most young vampires—and in much more control of herself than even I had been when a “young” vampiress. But in my defense, neither elves nor fairies (let alone humans) were known for their impulse control. Demons, on the other hand, were nothing if not disciplined. If they were not, the whole world would be perpetually ablaze—given the fact that most demons had the ability to shoot fire from their hands.
It was a pity that Sookie had not inherited that skill from her godfather’s blood, and it was a blessing that the one Stackhouse descendent who had inherited that power would never have the chance to develop it. Luckily—for all of society—Jason Stackhouse had become a bitten Were, thereby stifling his demon genes, before he had reached an age that would allow him to develop his “fire ability!”
Like I said, the world would not have been ready for Jason Stackhouse with a demon ability—despite how amused I would have been.
As for Sookie, she was destined to remain relatable to humans even once she became a vampire—even though she had, ironically enough, been mostly ostracized during her younger years for not being “human” enough.
Of course, what made Sookie most unique was not her mixed heritage. It was that she resisted prejudice, even though she still suffered from it. Her flaw was her difficulty accepting the fact that she did not deserve the prejudice she received. For many years, she had felt as though accepting love from another would ultimately “harm” that other. Thankfully, that fear had finally been put aside in regards to the Viking.
I smiled to myself as I recalled one of my more recent visions of the not-so-distant future. It would be Sookie’s relatability combined with her mate’s physical “charms” which would discourage others from fucking with them. His becoming king would ultimately work out well for them. Within a few years, the nature of their “mixed” couple-hood would become known to humans. It would be the stuff of fairy tales—excuse the pun. They would be forced to be in the limelight to a certain extent, but that publicity would only help them to remain safe. Indeed, no one would want to risk the wrath of the Viking and the public who “adored” him and his mate! I had seen Eric and Sookie on the cover of People—after all.
As if vampires were people. As if a fairy-demon-human hybrid was!
I smirked, but then frowned.
Sadly, I had also had visions where Sookie and Eric died at the hands of de Castro.
My frown deepened. A future without them in it was much less colorful and entertaining to me. For one, I knew that they would bring a certain richness to vampire summits that had been missing. Northman had the potential to be a truly visionary king, given his lovely mixture of practicality, self-interest, business acumen, and—most of all—playfulness. With his maker gone and the Freyda nonsense solved, the “lighter” side of the Viking would be able to come out more, especially as fostered by his pledged one. And—as for Sookie? Well—in time, I saw that she and I would become good friends, commiserating about our “extra” gifts—even before the night (decades from now) when her vampire would make her un-dead.
Oh—I did not see them or myself as agents of the Fates or anything lofty like that. I’d had my fill of being around those with such haughty—godly—aspirations during my human years. In the grand scheme of things, I knew that I could affect very little in a way that would effect sweeping change. I believed that the Fates controlled what I was able to “see,” after all.
And I was glad of that.
So, again, I did not often risk fucking with those Fates.
I smiled to myself. The Viking and his fairy might have been just blobs of light and shadow when I had met them in Rhodes, but they lived vividly in my visions; in fact, one never knew that those two would be up to!
Certainly, the future was never just one thing. That was what most vampires did not understand about my gift. Choice (either bad or good) and will (either free or constricted) were variables that were always changing the future—and, therefore, my visions of it.
But, then again, there were certain events that seemed set into stone—no matter what future came. To say the truth, it was only those “fixed” events which truly caught my eye and my imagination.
Had Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse not shown up in one of those stone-like visions, I would not have taken much notice of either of them. However, the fact that they had now turned up in three of my invariable premonitions made them incredibly “special” to me.
Special enough for me to tempt the Fates—at least a little.
The first of the visions starring the practically star-crossed pair had been of their bonding in Rhodes. I specified “practically” because the two did not—as it turned out—have to die to be together. Or, at least, they had not met the true death yet.
I sighed as I thought about how things might have progressed after Eric and Sookie’s bonding had been completed.
They could have spoken honestly with one another in Rhodes—and saved themselves much trouble. But they were both stubborn, though I felt that Eric really should have grown out of some of his obstinacy by now.
One thousand years of existence left him with few excuses beyond the old “ingrained habits” story. Of course, the Viking had shown that he could evolve in a myriad of ways.
Still . . . .
It almost always took them longer to accept certain truths when it came to matters of the heart. I blamed the Y chromosome.
Of course, regardless of Sookie and Eric’s actions after their bond was made “permanent,” they had bonded in all of the visions I’d had about them before Rhodes.
That meant that they had been fated to bond.
And—when they meant business—the Fates were never to be denied (or cheated).
The second invariable vision I had involving the pair of lovers involved their escape from Rhodes. Oh—there were many ways that they could have escaped, but it always did happen. And Sookie was always the one who saved Eric—though in some visions his progeny perished.
For my part, I had been glad to see Pamela survive.
She was entertaining as well.
In some of my visions, the bombing in Rhodes had led to the Viking immediately going to Sookie and initiating a discussion that led to their becoming a solid couple. Of course, what had actually happened had been more doubts and delays as both the Viking and the telepath allowed their fears (though they had not—at the time—admitted that they were fears) to drown out their desire to be together.
I shrugged. At least the two would now have time to get through all of their emotional obstacles; or—at least—I hoped that they would have the time.
The third constant vision I had of the couple involved the killing of Victor Madden. It did not always occur in the same way or under the same circumstances, but it always did occur. To be frank, I was pleased that Madden had been eradicated from the earth.
His presence had been annoying—even if I had never met him in person.
But seeing him in my visions had been enough.
Few had made me feel the need to bathe after appearing in a vision. Victor had been one of those few. Of course, my various visions had allowed me to watch him die in a variety of ways; overall, it was a good trade-off.
Speaking of my visions.
Again, even knowing the future, I knew better than to use my knowledge for foolish things (though I had made a pretty penny in the world’s stock markets). Over the years, several foolish vampire “leaders” had resolved to try to coerce me into using my gift for their own selfish motives; like those who resolved that I would be better “dead” than “alive,” they almost always found themselves at the sharp end of a stake before they even made an offer to me.
Perhaps that was why I was inclined to like the telepath so much. She understood that to use her talents wholesale would be to sell her soul to the devil.
Not the literal one, of course. He was, ironically enough, honorable in his own way—though his arrogance tended to cover up that aspect of his personality.
Speaking of the devil . . . .
“Pythia,” the male voice said from behind me.