“The vampire is a good man,” Niall said. “He loves you very much.”
“I know,” she said. “You are a good man too, Grandpa.”
Niall smiled a little wider. “I do like it when you call me that.”
Sookie returned his smile. “Can everyone in our family read this book?”
“No,” Niall responded. “My parents, for example, had no knowledge of it. I have known only two others that it revealed itself to during all of my years, yet it opened itself up for you immediately.” He smiled widely—seemingly pleased about something.
“Okay,” Sookie said with a lifted brow. “What are you so happy about? Why is it so important that this book has let me read it?”
Niall smiled. “This book is offering you much more than just the knowledge of our kin, my dear. I believe it wants to help you to save your husband and yourself as well.”
Sookie sat up a little. “How? How can a book ‘want’ something?”
Niall stood and looked down at her proudly. He spoke almost formally. “Sookie, this book recognizes only those whom it considers to be the most honorable heirs of the Sky Fae. Its magic is beyond me and beyond recorded time, and until this moment, it has never recognized a hybrid. As I said before, it recognizes only a few. It recognized my mentor, who passed to the Summerlands long ago. It recognized me. It recognized my son, Claude. And now, there is you. The book judges the individual.”
He paused. “Sookie, this book has judged you worthy of its knowledge. It has judged you an heir to the most sacred secrets of the Sky Fae. It has judged you as capable of protecting our people, and it has the ability to bestow upon you the tools necessary for you to do that.”
Sookie shook her head vehemently. “But I don’t want this knowledge, Niall,” Sookie insisted. “I don’t need it. I’m not going to stay here. I don’t see how I can ‘protect our people.’”
Niall smiled. “You have no ambition for this knowledge, Sookie; thus, the book knows you would not use it to harm other Sky Fae. That is why it finds you trustworthy. As for protecting our people, my dear—I have seen you do it already with Hadley and with Hunter. And there are other Sky Fae in the human realm, mostly hybrids. Perhaps your role will be to protect them.”
Sookie looked up at him with uncertainty.
Niall continued, “If you accept the gift that this book wishes to bestow upon you, then the knowledge of our kind—of our kin—will always be with you, whether you are here or not. Even if it is only Hunter that the book intends for you to help keep safe, our ancestors would see that as worthwhile.”
Niall sighed, “I predicted that you would likely resist this knowledge, child. However—as for needing it—I think that you do. I think that the knowledge and the tools that will come to you if you complete the Ritual of Acceptance could help you greatly.”
Sookie shook her head again. “What do you mean by ‘tools’ and ‘ritual?’” She was clearly frustrated and a little frightened. “Look, Niall, this is all real interesting, but what does it have to do with anything we’re tryin’ to accomplish here today?”
Niall smiled and again spoke formally, this time as if his words were from a script, “Sookie Stackhouse―daughter of Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse, granddaughter of Earl and Adele Stackhouse, great-granddaughter of Niall Brigant and Viola Stackhouse, and wife of Eric Northman―you are a true daughter of the Sky Fae. You have been touched by the power of our ancestors and entrusted with our secrets—chosen as one of the most worthy among our people. Given this fact, as the oldest keeper of The Book of the Fae, I can choose to bestow upon you the Light of Our Ancestors through the Ritual of Acceptance.” He paused and winked, “After that, you will have all the tools you need to become a guardian to your kin.”
After Niall’s speech, Sookie looked up at him a little awkwardly. “Uh—thanks. But what the hell are you talking about? And how the hell is all this gonna help me protect my husband?”
Niall winked again. “Is young Eric not your kin too?”
Some understanding began to dawn upon Sookie. “What tools are you talking about?” she asked.
He smiled. “I am talking about the power of this place—of Faerie—of our ancestors. I am talking about making you an heir to that power.”
“But I’m not staying here,” Sookie insisted again, standing nervously. “I don’t wanna be your heir!”
“I know that you will not stay here,” Niall smiled, “but I am able to bestow this power as I see fit.” He winked yet again. “And I can give it out more than once. Claude completed the ritual the day after we found out he could read the book. Truth be told,” Niall chuckled, “I would offer to bestow the light on anyone who could read this book; it is just that there have been so few who could.”
“Well,” Sookie said, “if something happened to Claude, I’m not gonna come here and rule your kingdom or anything, Niall. I’m sorry, but that’s just not gonna happen.”
Niall laughed loudly, “Oh—I know, Sookie. That is not how the book works anyway, nor is it how leadership would be transferred in Faerie. The knowledge and power that I want to open for you is not related to who rules this realm; otherwise, my parents would never have been in a position of power. In fact, there have been periods of history when no one had access to the knowledge in the book, for none living were seen as worthy of it, so you needn’t worry about becoming trapped here.”
“But what does it mean then—this light of the ancestors thing? You still haven’t told me about these ‘tools’ you keep mentioning either.”
“It means that your fairy gifts will grow, Sookie. Or, more accurately, I think that it would mean that you could fully control the powers that you have already―among other things.”
“Why didn’t you have me look at this book before then?” Sookie asked. “Why didn’t you tell me that this ancestor-light thingy was a possibility?”
“The Book of the Sky Fae must choose you first, and for a long time, I did not think you would agree to come into Faerie even for a short period of time so that I could confirm your ability to read it. And the book cannot be removed from this place. Plus, I was not sure the book would accept you―though I thought it might, given everything else. And—of course—I did not want to get your hopes up. Also, the existence of this book and the knowledge it contains must be kept a secret. Only those who have read it truly understand what is inside. For the rest, it is simply another book—and a blank one at that. So I could not tell you without compromising the book.”
Sookie thought for a moment. “So—if I accept this ancestor-light thing, then I’ll be able to control my powers? I can go home? My training will be done?”
Niall nodded. “If I am right, the tools you receive during the ritual will help you take the final step you need to take in order to best use your powers,” Niall confirmed. “The ritual will help to solidify the fairy in you—to tap into her power. And at that point, you should be able to wield your magic at will without having to be spurred on by your emotions―and without being endangered by them—though we would still need to test your ability before you left for your home.”
Sookie brought her brows together. “What are the ‘among other things’ that you mentioned, Niall?”
Niall replied with a smile, “You will have all the knowledge of the Sky Fae placed into your mind as if this book itself had been placed there, and that knowledge will automatically change as more are born or leave for the Summerlands.” His face clouded with momentary worry. “To be truthful, I am not sure how your human brain will take this. You are a hybrid, and no hybrid has ever been given this gift by the ancestors. As I said, none have been judged worthy of it, but I imagine that other things will happen to you as well.”
“Like what?” Sookie asked.
“I cannot be sure.”
“Speculate,” Sookie said firmly, crossing her arms in front of her.
“Well,” Niall began with a chuckle, “I think that the power of our ancestors will enhance all of your existing fairy traits, just as it did with mine and then Claude’s. Your telepathy and ability to transmit thoughts will likely become stronger, and I think that your ability to shut others out of your mind will grow too.” Niall paused. “I also believe that you will gain at least something of a longer life, like all the Sky Fae. I think that your body’s aging will slow down. As a matter of fact, it has already begun to do so since you have arrived in this realm, and that has occurred with you spending most of your time outside of its borders.”
Sookie looked at Niall with surprise. “So you think I’ll live longer?”
“Oh yes,” Niall answered with certainty. “All fairies in this realm do. And the hybrids who have been brought here are all showing signs that they will have much longer lives as well. Even in the human realm, fairy hybrids tend to live longer, though not so abnormally long that they attract too much attention; they stay healthy into their 90s or 100s mostly—until their human bodies run out of steam. However, if you take the Light of Our Ancestors, then I believe that your lifespan will expand by quite a bit—even in your realm.
“Eric,” Sookie whispered.
“Yes,” Niall smiled. “Your vampire will be pleased by this, especially since you are uncertain about when you wish to join him as a vampire.”
“When?” Sookie said, half to herself and half to Niall.
The fairy chuckled. “Oh—I have no doubt that you will eventually join your mate as a vampire, Sookie, even if you are not yet ready to admit it to yourself. Your bond will not allow you to become separated from him. Thus, I’m sure that you will eventually choose to become like him. But your longer lifespan will give you much more time to be as you are—or, more accurately, as you will become after receiving the light. And who knows what will happen between now and the time when you choose to become vampire? You and your Eric may become so entwined that neither one of you is encumbered by the weaknesses of your respective species anymore. I, for one, cannot wait see it all play out,” he chuckled again.
Sookie shook her head but smiled slightly at Niall. “Sometimes I think that you just like me because Eric and I are so amusing to you.”
Niall smiled back and winked. “No—but I admit that I am curious about what will happen with you and your mate. The likes of your connection has never been seen before, and I sometimes wonder if you two are simply another moment of evolution as the old lines and differences between peoples become irrelevant. It is an exciting possibility―I think—one that my sister would adore.”
“What if this ancestor-light thing doesn’t work in me—because I’m a human?” Sookie asked with concern. “Could it hurt me? Kill me? ‘Cause if it does, that’s not gonna help Eric.”
Niall looked immediately troubled. “I will not lie to you. There is danger involved, Sookie. I do not know how the part of you that is human will react once the ritual is performed. I would hope that the book would not offer you this gift if you could be permanently damaged by it, but your situation is like no other, so I cannot say for sure.”
Sookie contemplated for a moment. “I need to speak to Eric about all this. I can’t just take this ancestor-light thing and not consult him, especially if it could change me or kill me. I mean—what if it doesn’t let me leave Faerie? What if the changes turn out bad and I—um—short circuit or somethin’? What if my human side can’t take the ritual? Then, Eric will die―won’t he?”
Niall responded contemplatively. “I considered these things. But gaining the knowledge and power of the Sky Fae did not affect my ability to live in the human realm with Viola or to leave this place at will. And I do not believe that you would have been chosen if true harm could come to you.”
His pensive look back, Niall sighed. “However, gaining the knowledge was overwhelming at first—even for me—and you are justified in being cautious, especially since you are mostly human.” He nodded. “I understand your need to discuss this with your mate.”
“Then—should we go back now?” Sookie asked, moving to get up.
“We can,” Niall said. “We can go back, and you can consult with Eric in your dreams. If you decide to do the ritual, then we can return.”
“How long will the ritual take?” Sookie asked.
“Very little time to do it, but several hours or days to recover. With you being human, I do not know how long it will take.”
Sookie’s voice lifted, “I’m not spending several days here, Niall! That was never part of the deal!”
“No,” Niall said gently, as he put up his hands as if in surrender. “After the ritual, I always intended to take you to the ‘in-between place’ to recover.”
“Oh,” Sookie said relieved. “What if Eric and I decide against the ritual?”
“Then, we will have to come here again—at least until what needs to happen here does happen.”
“So we’ll have to do this all over again?” Sookie asked sadly.
“Yes,” Niall said quietly. “That is why I advocate that we stay for the rest of the hour we had already agreed upon. Then—if you and Eric decide upon the ritual, the power of it will augment what we are able to accomplish today. It would―I believe―mean less time lost for young Eric in the end.”
Sookie sighed. “Okay—I’ve already been here for somethin’ like 30 minutes, right?”
Niall nodded. “Twenty-eight, actually.”
Sookie exhaled heavily and nodded. “Okay, so let’s get to the training part.” She set down the book, and her voice became resolved, “So what exactly does the training entail, Grandpa? You’ve been mysterious about it all―you know.”
Niall sighed and smiled sheepishly. Immediately, Sookie sat up a little straighter. “What is it, Niall?”
He sighed deeply. “The book was my main reason for not talking much about what I wanted you to do here. I knew that if it chose you and you chose to accept the gift, then—well—‘that would be that,’ as my Viola used to say.”
“So there’d really be no need for me to train at all if I went through with the ritual?” Sookie asked.
“Wow,” Sookie said. “Well maybe the other training will work—just in case. What do you need me to do?”
Niall gave her another sheepish smile and a shrug. “You are already doing it.”
A/N: Thanks for all your comments/reviews for the last chapter! Even though many of you are still likely throwing rotten food at me—OUCH, by the way—for not resolving the mystery of who is after Eric, I still love y’all. I hope y’all still love me….OUCH. Guess not. How about if I promise no more cliffhangers (until next chapter). How would that be? OUCH!