Eric came to himself slowly—very slowly. In a thousand years of being a vampire, he’d never felt what could be called “dazed” until that moment, but he had once—as a young teen—been knocked unconscious when he’d fallen from a horse. His mother told him that he had slept for eight days after that fall, and Eric was pretty sure that he had been in what humans now called a coma. Eric remembered none of his time asleep, but he did remember waking up.
He’d been thirsty—so terribly thirsty―but he could ask for no drink.
He remembered feeling so groggy that he couldn’t make himself move for what seemed like a long while—despite the fact that he was aware that he “should” have been moving. He remembered feeling powerless and trapped in himself.
That was how he felt now.
He blinked a few times, trying to assess where he was, but his eyes were blurry. All that he knew for sure what that he still was—he was still alive.
“I should imagine,” a genteel-sounding Southern accent said from his side, “that you have quite the headache.” The voice laughed. “However, you are just gonna have to tell me why you aren’t dead—when you can speak again, that is. I must admit that in all my years, I’ve never seen another vampire take such a blow and not turn to ashes and sludge immediately. For a moment there,” the voice paused, “I thought it was me—that I’d lost my touch—that what you and Mr. Compton did to me had sapped my 3,000 years of strength. But then I realized that it was something about you.”
The voice stopped to laugh. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is all your fault that you are still alive. You won’t just die!”
Eric turned his head slightly, and his eyes finally focused; they landed on Russell Edgington’s dark, unfeeling orbs.
Russell continued with a cackle, “As I intimated, I was quite surprised you survived. However,” he winked down at Eric, “I was also quite grateful. You see, I had not intended to kill you right away. It was just that the emotion of the moment compelled to me to strike you as I did.”
Russell moved his finger in large circles around his own ear. “You see, being stuck in cement for a couple of years can make one a little crazy. In that way, Mr. Compton was indeed correct.”
Eric’s eyes once again became unfocused. He gurgled out a soft, “Sookie,” as he closed them and once again tried to regain his bearings.
“Ah, yes—the little fairy—your little fairy now, if the reports that piss-ant de Castro has given me are true,” Russell said with derision. “You cannot know how disappointed I was to find out that she was no longer around. Those fools in Las Vegas think that she is no more.” He laughed cruelly. “They actually think you killed her, you know—drained her blood,” he added dramatically.
“But you and I know better, don’t we, Eric?” Russell sat back in his chair. “I happen to know that your little fairy has been taken to the fairy realm once again. That time difference thing must have really sucked—for you, that is!” He laughed again. “It is a good thing we are immortal—at least I am.” He crowed. “I just bet that if we wait long enough, she’ll join us―won’t she?”
That got a reaction from Eric, and his eyes popped back open, now clearer.
“Ah—yes,” Russell nodded. “There you are. I was wondering when you would really join me. After all, that lump on your head is quite nasty. Again—apologies for that.” Russell raised his hands apologetically. “But c’est la vie!” Russell sighed. “It’s almost morning, and I’m going to let you get your rest now. Plus, I need to get to my little,” he paused, “hiding place.”
Eric could see Russell opening a TruBlood and felt it being put to his mouth. Eric managed to swallow a bit of it as Russell fed him. “This will help with the headache,” Russell said tapping his own head before feeding Eric a bit more.
After the bottle was gone, Eric was feeling clearer. He looked at Russell. “What are you,” he stammered, “going to do?”
Russell looked at him, the madness apparent in his twisted features. “Oh—you and I will become better acquainted as we wait for your little fairy to come to the rescue of her fallen knight.” Russell’s voice turned cold as ice. “And you will suffer with dread each moment you are awake, thinking about how I will take your beloved Sookie Stackhouse from you—just as you took my Talbot from me.”
“Northman,” Eric managed. “Stackhouse-Northman.”
Russell shook his head. “You really are pussy-whipped.”
The ex-king of Mississippi turned to go, but then paused. “Oh—and if you call your bitch of a child to you, I will take her too.”
Russell turned again and went up a set of stairs, leaving Eric alone.
Due to the TruBlood, Eric felt a little sharper. He inhaled and assessed. He smelled rotting wood and mildew. He was most likely in the basement of an old building. Given the other scents he picked up on, Eric was certain the building had once been used for manufacturing clothing. In addition to Russell, he smelled four others in the building. There were two Werewolves.
He shook his head slightly; Yvetta and Lillith were the other two scents. The presence of neither of them surprised him―though the presence of Russell had.
Eric wondered how the Were guards that had been posted to monitor Russell’s resting place had failed so horribly; after all, he checked in with them every night. He also wondered what had gone wrong with the electronic security and surveillance systems he had as back-up to the guards. Given the condition of the ancient vampire, Eric could tell that Russell had healed from his time in the cement completely, which meant he’d been out of it for a while—probably for at least a few months.
Bill―Eric posited―may have been more clever than he’d thought, and Lillith certainly was. Somehow, someone had discovered the full scope of his surveillance of Russell’s resting place and had probably captured and glamoured the Were guards, which was something he himself would have done to keep an enemy in the dark. However, Eric had safeguards and a human staff in a secret location monitoring the space too. Someone must have made sure that the surveillance footage was tampered with too. Whatever had happened was now a moot point, however. Russell was out and planned to use Eric as bait to capture Sookie. The ancient vampire would then likely kill Sookie so that Eric would receive the same fate as he had received when Talbot died.
Eric closed his eyes. It was almost dawn. He sent a signal to Pam, repeating the one he’d sent earlier; it clearly told her to stay away and protect Hunter. Russell, thank all the gods in existence, didn’t seem to know about Hunter as of yet, but Eric couldn’t be sure. Bill had known about his child, which meant Lillith also knew. And Russell could just be saving his knowledge of Hunter for a time when he could use it to best advantage over Eric.
Eric sighed, knowing that he too would have looked for his enemy’s weaknesses; hell—that is why he’d killed Talbot.
Eric steeled himself. No matter what, Pam would know what to do—protect Hunter and make sure that everyone in the family was locked down. And if she tried some hair-brained rescue—well, she would not have to worry about being killed by Russell. Eric would stake her himself.
The Viking calmed himself. For all of his overt hot-headedness, Duncan could be trusted to keep a level head. And he was with Hunter even then. So was Batanya. He closed his eyes and sighed with relief. His child would be safe. Eric knew that he could not take away the pain and worry that Hunter would likely soon feel when he learned that his father was missing, but his son would be safe.
Eric continued his assessment of his immediate surroundings. He was being held down by silver chains to a table. However, the silver was not directly touching his skin; it was wrapped in leather. Eric knew that this was so that he could heal from his head wound and be ready for whatever tortures Russell would inflict upon him the next night. Eric had used the same methods before. And he’d had many an enemy—most recently Bill and Quinn—on tables similar to this one.
Eric also knew that Russell’s torture would be both physical and psychological. The Viking steadied himself; he knew that he could take any physical torture that Russell doled out―though he also knew that Russell’s version of that torture would be profound. He expected that Russell would begin with silver, probably a knife of some kind.
Eric closed his eyes. Russell would likely graduate to even more horrible physical punishments when the silver didn’t break him.
After that too failed, Eric knew that Russell would toy with him regarding the things that could really hurt him: Sookie and—if he knew about him—Hunter.
Eric reached out to the fairy bond, finding it strangely quiet but still there. Sookie was with him, but she was no longer actively in contact as she had been before when Russell had been pursuing him. He figured that the shock of the blow Russell had given him may have affected her too, and he prayed to every god that he could recall that she was safe. He also prayed for his son, knowing that Hunter would wake up for one of the first times without Eric there.
Eric trusted those that he’d placed around his child to make sure that he was okay physically, but he also knew that Hunter would be worried. Eric made silent promises to both his bonded and his son that he would hold on no matter what—until Sookie came for him. And he would use all that he knew about mind warfare to battle with Russell.
Above all, he would have faith in his wife—even if Russell broke all of the faith that he had in himself.