Eric heard the sizzle of silver and the screams of Jessica behind him, but he could not turn around. His full attention was on the fairy in front of him. Claudette was a fierce warrior, and for about twenty minutes, she’d been matching him move for move. However, like a true tactician, he’d been holding back, studying his enemy.
Fluidly, he repositioned their battle so that he could see Jessica and Pam. Jessica, who had been holding her own against Neave, had obviously been bitten by her and was in agony, but the wound was not healing as it should have been. Moreover, she had been covered with the silver net. Pam was now trying to hold off both silver-teethed fairies. Neither one was as proficient with the sword as Claudette was, but Pam was working on her own now—and she was struggling to stay ahead of Thing One and Thing Two’s erratic movements.
To make matters worse, it seemed as if Claudette had placed a magical barrier around the fighters, so Thalia, Sam, Tray and the other Weres could not get to them. They were all left to watch helplessly from the perimeter.
Claudette smiled as she followed Eric’s eyes. “Poor little vampire,” she said in a patronizing tone, “you will be receiving no help in the near future. Fairy magic really is so much more potent than the human stuff―don’t you think?”
The clash of their swords once again ripped through the night.
Eric knew that―given time―he could best the fairy, despite her many attempts to elicit him to act with emotion and not cunning.
Eric had already catalogued Claudette’s moves and had become better at anticipating them. Meanwhile, he had been moving defensively rather than offensively for the most part, waiting for the fairy’s guard to drop. However, he now saw that Pam was laboring even more, and he felt his child’s uncertainty through their bond. He knew that he would not have time to wait; he would have to force the issue with Claudette.
Eric dropped his own guard slightly and purposely, though not enough to arouse suspicion in his opponent. She struck his blade with a powerful blow, sending it hurling ten feet away. With the exception of Thalia, their helpless audience gasped as one.
Claudette smiled at her advantage and thrust her sword straight toward Eric’s heart, which was wide open to her.
The force of the blow knocked the vampire down, but the blade did not dip into his flesh. Claudette looked at him in surprise, and her momentary pause was all he needed.
He pulled the tiny squirt gun Hunter had given to him out of his jeans and ripped it in two, exposing all the lemon juice inside. He hurled the juice with a careful aim, and it all landed directly onto Claudette’s face, causing her flesh to sizzle and burn. Eric stood and kicked Claudette to the ground.
He retrieved his sword, walked back over to where Claudette was suffering, and swung. His blow sent her sword―as well as the hand that held it―to the ground. She grabbed her new wound with her other hand and writhed in pain. Eric quickly checked his chest to make sure he was not wounded, but the new, improved Kevlar vest he’d gotten had done its job perfectly. He was just glad that he’d been wearing it in anticipation of his excursion into the fairy realm the night before and had not yet had a chance to change clothes.
Leaving Claudette alive for the moment, Eric moved toward Lochlan and Neave, who had Pam at a clear disadvantage. The deranged fairies had heard Claudette’s screams, and Neave now turned to Eric. The seemingly rabid fairy was chomping her blood-stained silver teeth and swinging her sword haphazardly. Eric gripped his father’s sword tightly and swung with the grace of a thousand years of practice, taking the fairy’s head from his shoulders. Soon―all that was left of Neave was dust.
Eric saw that Pam was easily holding off Lochlan now.
“Northman!” Tray yelled from the perimeter. Eric turned to see that Claudette was trying to claw her way to her sword, pulling her body with one hand.
Eric used vampire speed to get between her and her sword and then kicked the weapon fifty yards away and outside of her magical barrier. “Naughty, naughty, Claudette,” he said, leaving the female fairy helplessly on the ground. He turned next to Jessica, who was still under the silver net. Using his sword, Eric lifted the item and slung it away before looking at the bite on her neck, which seemed to be festering.
Eric turned back to Claudette, “Why is she not healing?”
The female fairy laughed manically through her pain. “She will not heal, vampire. I told you Neave and Lochlan were special. One bite from them sends silver into the bloodstream. She will slowly die.”
“No!” Pam said, just as she increased her effort and disarmed Lochlan, ready to take his head.
“Wait!” Eric yelled. He looked down at Claudette, “Tell me a cure, and I will spare your lives.”
She only laughed.
Eric took his sword and swung it, taking off Claudette’s other hand. “If I must, fairy,” Eric said with iron in his voice as well as his hands, “I will turn you to dust a limb at a time, but you will tell me how to help Jessica!”
Claudette only laughed again and taunted Eric with a caustic tone. “I will tell you nothing, vampire! Nothing.”
Eric could see in her eyes that she meant what she was saying.
Eric pulled his phone from his pocket. “Ludwig, I need you here – NOW!” He hung up.
Within moments the little doctor was standing next to him, obviously unrestricted by whatever magic Claudette had used to create the barrier, which was still holding the others out. The diminutive doctor quickly took in the site.
She spoke up in her nasally voice, “One fairy dead―too late to do anything with that one.” She gestured toward the pile of dust that had been Neave. “That one is currently uninjured,” she said looking at Lochlan, who was kneeling on the ground with Pam’s sword raised threateningly above him. “That one seems to be bleeding to death from wounds from your sword, Northman,” she continued as she pointed to Claudette. “And you have a vampire with silver poisoning. I assume it’s the vampire I’m here about―correct?”
“Correct,” Eric said through clenched jaw.
Ludwig went over to examine Jessica’s bite. There looked to be streaks of silver emanating from it, and Jessica was crying in pain. Ludwig looked up, “The only thing I can think of that would cure this one is fresh fairy blood. You got any of that?” she asked sarcastically.
Eric looked at her and then smirked, “A new supply happened to have arrived tonight.”
Ludwig shook her head, “Very funny, Northman. But don’t let her drink for this one,” she said, gesturing toward Lochlan. “He’s toxic.”
Eric turned to Pam, whose nostrils were flaring in response to the scent of Claudette’s blood, but who had maintained her poise and her position over Lochlan. Eric was extremely proud of his vampire child’s control. He nodded toward the remaining male fairy.
Pam looked down disdainfully at Lochlan. “Well―Jessica’s not supposed to eat from men anyway,” Pam deadpanned. Then she quickly brought her sword down and decapitated the fairy. Soon his body was dust alongside his sister’s.
Eric bent down over Claudette. “If you help me get Sookie and Hadley back, I will not let Jessica finish you off. Once she’s taken a little from you, I will heal your wounds with my own blood, and I will get you back to Niall.”
Claudette spat at him venomously. “I would sooner die a thousand times than take your blood, vampire. And as for Sookie and Hadley―I’m sure that they are already bred by now, and I am even more certain that you will never see them again. Perhaps even right now, your precious Sookie is being ravished and seeded by Ivan or whoever else won the bid!”
Eric growled, but suppressed his urge to rip her throat out. He stood and once again looked at Pam. “Pam, Jessica looks parched. Give her permission to drink.”
Pam went over to Jessica.
“Stop!” Claudette yelled.
Eric turned around and was met with a burst of magic from Claudette that hit him directly above the heart, right where his fairy bond resided.
Claudette laughed, “That will keep it numb for a while.”
Eric grabbed at his chest.
Claudette continued laughing.
“Do it,” Eric said quietly, looking again at Pam.
Pam caught Jessica’s eye, “Jessica, I command you to feed from and kill that bitch right now!”
In moments, Jessica was on top of Claudette draining the rest of her blood from her body.
Meanwhile, Eric had fallen to his knees, and bloody tears streaked from his eyes. His hands still clutched his chest, right over the fairy bond. He could not sense his Sookie there at all. He reached out to both of their bonds, but there was nothing for him to grasp hold of. He’d become so accustomed to and dependent upon the fairy bond they’d created together; however, no matter how hard he tried to find Sookie inside of him, she did not answer his call.
As had remained true for most of the last nine months, he felt only hollowness from the vampire bond. And now, he felt only numbness from the fairy bond. He felt completely empty. Deadened and dead.