A/N: Once again, I was listening to my Battle-Song Music Mix as I wrote this. You can link to my YouTube playlist by clicking the picture.
Chapter 192: Phoenix Rising
Just as Sookie had been expecting, once she was a few steps past the basement door, a huge iron slab crashed down behind her, trapping her inside the basement.
Sookie stopped running. She took a deep breath and then “influenced” the Were who was watching the video feed from the basement to destroy the equipment and then follow his friends, who’d left the warehouse to go after the fairy. This completed, she steadied her emotions and followed the corridor toward the room where the bonds were telling her she’d find her mate.
She heard Russell Edgington cackling gleefully as she entered the large room. Her eyes immediately went to Eric’s, and she could tell—despite the fact that he was trying to keep his pain out of the bond—that he was hurting. It was clear that in the last several minutes, Russell had stabbed Eric many times, most of them deep cuts. And the ex-king had the knife poised over Eric’s thigh even then.
Sookie felt her hands tingling with building light; she wanted to hit Russell Edgington with everything she had—all of her power―but she held back. There was a plan to follow, and she needed to focus on that and not on her anger at Russell’s actions or even her fear that Eric would be hurt more.
She saw terror and uncertainty in Eric’s beautiful blue eyes, but she felt only confidence and love in the vampire bond. He was―as she knew he would be―playing his role to perfection.
And now it was show time for her as well.
“Welcome, Miss Stackhouse,” Russell said with a little bow. “We have been anxiously waiting for your arrival.”
Sookie moved her eyes from her husband’s, and she let them look desperate as they settled onto Russell’s.
Russell smiled, but there was an edge to his voice. “You are just full of surprises, my dear. I had no idea you could teleport or cover your scent. Queen Mab underestimates you, but I know better.”
Sookie tried to make her face show fear. “Queen Mab?” she stammered. “But how—uh how—can you know her?”
Russell cackled again. “Let’s just say that we have a common purpose. You! And, of course, your dear ‘husband’ here.”
Sookie truly shivered when she thought about asking her great-grandfather to kill the woman he was still officially married to in Faerie. Of course, Russell took her tremble to mean that she was frightened of Mab and him working together.
“Dearest,” Russell pouted, even as his eyes glowed in anticipation, “I really do wish you would let me enjoy your scent—our scent together. I know you have taken my blood; I could smell it in you earlier. It was divine.”
Russell’s vulturine expression made Sookie tremble again; even the thought of taking his blood made her stomach turn.
“You will not carry out my simple request?” Russell’s annoyance was clear. “You will soon do everything I bid you to do,” Russell said icily. “Once your bond with the Viking is severed, I will tie you to me so tightly that you will never get away.” He chuckled, though his black eyes held no mirth in them. “Why would you ever want to?”
Sookie raised her hands and prepared to shoot Russell, even as Eric struggled against his chains and bit down as if trying to break through the gag in his mouth. As he gnawed further through the leather covering, the silver that made up the center of the gag sizzled against his lips.
Everything had been scripted, and Sookie had known what to expect, but she still had to work hard to keep her cool as she saw her husband’s supple lips burning from the silver.
His arrogance and ignorance clear, Russell just grinned at Eric’s “useless” actions.
Sookie looked at Russell with pleading eyes. “Let him go Russell. Let us leave. I know that you want revenge for Talbot. I know you hate Eric for killin’ him and hate me for what I did with his remains, but please, can’t you see that doin’ this isn’t gonna bring him back?”
Russell had two responses to Sookie’s plea: to laugh at her whole-heartedly and to stab Eric jaggedly in his thigh, which was already covered with fresh wounds.
Luckily, the three-thousand-year-old vampire was too crazed to notice that Eric’s new wounds were already beginning to heal, thanks to a not-so-slow infusion of Sookie’s magic through the fairy bond.
She felt Eric cautioning her through the vampire bond and stopped the flow of her magic for the moment.
Russell stabbed Eric’s other thigh and left the knife in the wound. The sizzling sound of the silver was sickening.
Sookie yelled out, “No!” Her hands lit up with white light. Russell continued to chortle.
Meanwhile, a now seemingly frantic Eric was shaking his head furiously and moaning what sounding like “No” into his gag. His eyes were pleading for Sookie to stop—to run away, to escape. But the vampire bond was telling an entirely different story. Through it, Eric cheered her on and sent his love and trust to her. In that moment, his trust meant the world to Sookie. And his love? Well—that meant everything.
She yelled out again as Russell took the silver blade from her mate’s thigh and prepared for another strike. She let her magic flow from her hands; she tried to make her burst look similar to how it had appeared when she sent Russell flying across the parking lot of Fangtasia that morning when Russell and Eric were burning in the sun. However—this time—she knew that the blast represented only a fraction of her true power.
The light of her magic bounced off of Russell as if he were protected by one of Sookie’s force fields; it hurled―instead―straight into Eric’s chest. The Viking cried out despite the gag—as if he were now in even more intense pain.
Sookie allowed for her magic to dissipate as if she were confused by what had just happened.
“Eric,” she whispered in horror.
She moved her shocked eyes from Russell to Eric, who was writhing on the table as if he were burning from the inside out.
Sookie looked back at Russell in shock, and the ancient vampire only laughed harder. He thrust the silver blade to the hilt into Eric’s thigh and left it there again; the sickening sizzling sound once more filled the room. The ancient vampire clapped his hands together in celebration.
He then began to slowly move toward Sookie like a predator stalking its prey.
Sookie continued to feign confusion and helplessness as Russell approached. She stepped back. “What?” she asked in bewilderment as she looked down at her hands as if they were broken. She then looked hopelessly at Eric, seemingly horrified at what she’d done to him.
Eric’s pitiful moans filled the room. Russell smiled at the sound and turned briefly to look at Eric. “Music to my fuckin’ ears!” he crowed.
He turned back to Sookie. “I’ve been waiting for the sweet sound of his pain for days now.” He smiled sinisterly. “Who would have thought that all I had to do was to bring you here, my dear? You have,” he paused and smiled sinisterly, “hurt him far worse than I ever could.”
Russell took another step toward her, and she answered it with two backward steps. Sookie knew that Russell could slay her in mere moments—or at least that’s what he thought. However, the twisted vampire still wanted for her to kill Eric herself. He was having fun playing with them—torturing them like lab rats.
For just a moment, Sookie locked her eyes onto Eric as she took another step backwards; he was looking straight back at her now that Russell had turned his back. The confidence he had in her was still coming through the vampire bond, and she saw the knife in his thigh begin to work its way out of his body as the healing magic that had come with her blast and that which Eric had stored up before combined to mend the wound beneath it.
She did not allow herself to triumph in the proof of Eric’s healing, however. She shifted her eyes back to Russell’s almost black orbs and quaked at the insanity it them. She didn’t need to act. Despite her confidence in her husband—in herself—she was scared.
Savoring the fear in Sookie’s eyes, Russell sneered as he continued to inch toward her. “It looks like you won’t be able to save your precious Viking this time―will you?” He cackled and inhaled deeply. “Please, allow me to smell you, my dear. I have been so looking forward to a taste of you; in the cement for all that time, all I could do was fantasize about your blood.”
Sookie winced at Russell’s words and the twisted smile on his face; however, she was immediately bombarded by Eric’s strength and was empowered.
With extreme difficulty, Eric kept himself from struggling against his restraints and trying to attack Russell, who skulked ever closer to his wife. Sookie and he had agreed that it would be after the second blast that he would fulfill his true role in the plan.
Eric was floored. Sookie’s first blast of magic had been incredible. In her hurry to tell him the plan in their short dream earlier, she’d mentioned getting some kind of ancestral light from a fairy ritual. She’d warned him that her magical force might be stronger than either one of them could guess.
She had been right. Even as Russell thought that Sookie had blasted Eric with magic intended to do harm, her healing light slammed into him with at least ten times more force than it had ever done before.
And the most incredible thing was that she was holding back.
Sookie had been sending him a steady influx of her healing magic for most of the night—starting right after their dream. She’d asked him to use only what he needed to preserve himself from Russell’s inevitable violent outburst, but to store the rest. However, the blast that Eric had just received from his wife had held much more than healing magic. It seemed to already be charging him—invigorating him—for what was coming next.
Eric watched Sookie’s interaction with Russell carefully. He knew that she was waiting for as long as possible before sending the second blast.
Sookie’s plan had been simple. They’d make Russell think that his plan was working, but instead of sending magic to harm the three-thousand-year-old, Sookie would send magic to finish healing and to strengthen Eric.
It was risky.
If the talisman hadn’t worked as Russell had said, then Sookie would have strengthened Russell―not Eric. And the last thing they needed was to have to face Russell hyped up on “Sookie mojo.” Sookie had also worried that her magic might somehow be changed due to the talisman and become harmful to Eric as it was being transferred.
So she had held back as she’d sent the first blast, waiting to get confirmation through their bonds that her magic had not harmed Eric.
In fact, it had done the opposite of harm.
Sookie’s magic had immediately had a profound effect on his body. All that was not healed before―including the new wounds that Russell had inflicted―had been healed by Eric the second Russell focused his attention on Sookie. In fact, Eric had needed to “order” the magic not to finish healing his latest stab wound. Russell had left the knife in Eric’s thigh and would have heard it if the blade was pushed completely out of the gash and clanged onto the metal table.
However, there was more than just the healing of Eric’s wounds. The magical blast seemed to heal Eric’s heart more than anything else. In her light, Sookie had sent her love to him in an even more immediate and profound way than she was constantly sending it through their vampire bond.
Her light had felt like a promise—a promise that she would not be leaving him again, a promise that they would no longer need dreams to be together, a promise that they would have much longer than one night in hundreds of “real” physical contact.
He felt her promise salving all of the moments that he’d missed her by his side. It soothed away the pain he had suffered at Russell’s hands. And once her magic was done with the wounds of his heart, it had poured into the fairy bond.
Eric watched as his wife kept up equal backward movements to Russell’s forward ones.
Sookie sent something that felt like a question into the vampire bond. Intuiting that she was asking him if he was prepared for what was coming, Eric immediately answered back with confidence and welcome. He was ready to soak up everything she had to give him.
Sookie waited until she was literally backed up against a wall―seemingly trapped. To catch Russell off-guard, she knew that the ancient vampire would have to think he’d won―think that he was getting exactly what he wanted. And he wanted her to kill her own husband. He wanted her powerless. He wanted her broken.
So when he once again moved toward her, and she couldn’t move back, she raised her hands as if in defense, eliciting a sick, triumphant smile from Russell.
Sookie knew her face was contorted in fear and hopelessness for Russell’s sake, even as she felt the combined force of her and her bonded’s magic rising inside of her. She let it pool, like molten lava ready to erupt from a volcano. And when she could no longer contain its force, she aimed her hands straight at Russell’s chest. This time, it was not a short burst.
She held nothing back.
The blast held all of her faith, all of her hope, all of her love. It held the strength of everyone who had ever loved her. It held the dream of the family she wanted to make with Hunter and Eric and everyone who was fighting with them that night. It held everything, yet it took nothing from her.
The light―as it had before―bounced off of Russell and traveled into Eric, who truly was writhing under its power this time.
But it was not from pain. On the contrary, the magic was invigorating him. The knife that had been in his body couldn’t help but to be dislodged now, but Russell thought the sound marked the force of Sookie’s magic or the breakup of Eric’s body. He was too busy howling and celebrating the horrified look that Sookie had put on her face.
Sookie had to hold onto her smile as she felt elation—pure rapture—from Eric. Finally, she understood the true depth of the force that she and her mate could create together, and it was depthless.
Russell cruelly taunted her, “You, Miss Stackhouse—it is you who will finally kill Eric Northman!”
He failed to glance over his shoulder and see that Eric was not—in fact—dead or dying. He was rising.
PS: You might be interested in the results of a very scientific study I conducted. (See below). 😉