I entered the court of William of England with a frown on my face. Though the monarch “accepted” vampires, he required both tribute and information. I was, however, planning to offer incomplete or false information to the cruel king. Indeed, his reputation preceded him, so I knew him to be a tyrant and the murderer of his own brother.
Despite this, William’s castle was undeniably the safest place for my progeny and me to stay in the area. It was also quite a few miles from the main city of London, and—though Pamela planned to tour the city of her birth extensively in order to see what had changed—I was content to spend my last month in Terra in relative quiet.
A hundred years was a long time, and I had accumulated much wealth—in human terms. I offered it all to William in exchange of a “quiet life” in his court. He agreed wholeheartedly, even giving me unmonitored access to his library, though he thought it was so I could write a chronicle of my travels for his benefit. After I was long gone, he would realize that I had left him blank paper to “read.”
By luck, William planned to be away from the castle for most of the duration of Pamela and my visit in his lands, and I could not have been more pleased about that, for the king was just as I had expected he would be: arrogant without good reason and powerful without good judgment.
In my experience, he was the standard human king.
Indeed, I was prepared to settle in and lay “low” as Pamela said her last goodbyes to her human home.
But that was before I saw her.
She sat next to King William as if she were like me—already dead. Yet—in contrast to me—she seemed to be lacking any hope. Oh—she kept a constant smile on her face—but even the court regulars had termed it a “crazy smile.”
She held a child on her lap—William’s son, a boy named for the father.
Both mother and child smelled quite sweet, so out of caution, I commanded Pamela not to touch either of them, for I figured they might be part Fae. However, it was not Queen Susanna’s scent that struck me the most; it was her eyes.
And the sudden burst of hope I saw in them—when they first beheld me.
“I am Eric Northman,” the man with no thoughts told my husband and king. “We have exchanged letters,” he added.
William greeted the man, and they exchanged meaningless pleasantries. But I could hardly hear them as I used my telepathy to explore the creature.
Even the sleeping infant on my lap woke up and strained to see the stranger. I knew it was because the void that the creature projected instead of thoughts was “comforting” to him too.
“Eric.” The name was as beautiful as the man it belonged to. And the man’s thoughts were as silent to me as I had always prayed a man’s could be.
His mind felt so different from the mind of the goblin who had “helped” me by creating gold from hay. That man’s thoughts had been unknowable, but like stingers piercing the night. Eric’s brain was like a blanket that I could hide within. In fact, concentrating upon him lessened the noise of all the others. And I could tell that my child was doing just as I was. He would not understand, but Eric was a life-long prayer coming true.
However, I was not used to prayers getting answered.
And I knew that there was always a “catch” with God. Perhaps, I was being granted the feeling of comfort only so that my pain upon losing my child would be even more acute.
Perhaps, I was being tested by a God who wanted to learn if I would take my comfort even while holding my son during what might be his last time at court.
With that sobering thought, I backed away from the silent, comforting brain of the stranger. After all, what comfort did I deserve? I was the woman who had sold her child to a creature who planned to eat him.
So, instead of letting myself disappear into Eric’s mind, I delved into Quinn’s always disturbing thoughts. As usual, they were tinged with lust and violence. But they also explained what Eric was: a vampire.