Eagerly, Bill sat down where Appius was motioning he do so. “I will tell you all that I know of Eric, Ocella. However, I wonder if I may ask you a question before I do.”
Appius stared at Bill until the younger vampire shifted uncomfortably.
“I will allow your question, Bill Compton,” he finally nodded.
“Thank you,” Bill responded deferentially. “I have been led to believe that Eric’s happiness is something that you would,” he paused, “keep in check—if given the option.”
Appius smiled sinisterly. “I admit that I trained Eric to spurn the kinds of emotions that would make him weak.”
“Such as love?” Bill asked, his eyebrow lifting.
“A vampire does not love,” Alexei chimed in mechanically, even though his attention was now mostly on a cartoon program on television.
“That is correct,” Appius praised his younger child, still regarding the vampire before him. “Are you telling me, Mr. Compton, that my child loves?”
He nodded. “I am afraid so. And, please, call me Bill if you wish.”
Appius contemplated for a moment. “Eric has always carried affection for the children he’s made.”
“Children?” Bill asked. “I know only of Pam.”
Appius scoffed. “From the sound of her, she is inferior. I have not yet had the pleasure of her acquaintance,” he said sarcastically. “And I missed meeting Eric’s first child as well—for she died not long after the turning.” He shrugged.
“Pam is an unpleasant sort of creature, and Eric indulges her,” Bill said as he glanced at Alexei. “Not that indulgence is an inherently bad thing. However, it is not of a child of Eric’s that I wish to speak. It is a human—a mostly human—whom he claims to love.”
“A human?” Appius scoffed. “Impossible. Surely even Eric would not be so unnatural as to give his affection to a human.”
Bill shrugged. “Perhaps you are right. I will admit that part of why I came here was to confirm my suspicions of Eric’s feelings for the human. In truth, Eric might be lying. And—if he is—I could use that information to undermine his relationship with the human.”
“Why would you care one way or the other?” Appius asked with curiosity.
“The woman is mine,” Bill responded immediately. “Eric stole her from me.”
Appius chuckled. “Surely, you are not here to ask me to recompense you for the thievery of a human! Isn’t there a magister trolling around the mess you call a country? And isn’t there a monarch? Sophie-Ann Leclerq if I am not mistaken. Why not take any issues you have about a human to them?”
“The queen is currently more in the mood to placate Eric than to do what is right according to vampire tradition,” Bill commented.
“Ah—the ways of the vampire,” Appius said with a nod. “They ought to be revered.”
Bill nodded in agreement. “I have heard that you believe that—that you believe in the superiority of vampires above all creatures.”
Appius nodded. “Yes. That fact is manifest. You said that the woman you believe my child is enamored with is mostly human. What creature’s blood makes her impure of nature? Surely not Were,” he scoffed with disdain. “Surely, my child has not sunk so low for that!”
Bill shook his head. “The woman, Sookie, has some fairy blood.”
“Fairy?” Alexei asked with interest, licking his lips. “I like fairy! Very much!”
“She is only a small amount fairy,” Bill said quickly. “She tastes only a little sweeter than a normal human.”
Alexei frowned and looked back at the television. “Why would my brother want to keep a human then?”
“Why indeed?” Appius asked.
“He has given Sookie his blood—on multiple occasions,” Bill volunteered.
A deep frown immediately etched itself onto Appius’s face. “Do you believe that he intends to bond with her? Or turn her?”
“I do not know for sure,” Bill said, shaking his head. In truth, the younger vampire hated to even consider either prospect.
“I tried very hard to teach Eric not to become too attached to any living creature,” he emphasized. “Non-living creatures are different—as we are superior,” he added, glancing at Alexei, who seemed focused on the television, though he could surely hear what was being said. “To have moderate affection for one’s child is, of course, quite acceptable, especially if that child embraces what it means to be a vampire.”
“Like I do, Papa,” Alexei said with a self-satisfied grin, proving that he had been listening.
“Yes, you please me very much, little Lexi,” Appius said, smiling at the boy. “It is your brother that has so often disappointed me.”
“Eric,” Alexei said with a sneer.
Appius turned his attention to Bill. “I have kept track of Eric enough to know that he shows too much respect to lesser creatures such as Weres.”
“He allows Weres to guard Sookie—at her home—even now,” Bill reported.
“Guard her? You mean to tell me that he has taken so much interest in her that he cares about her safety? Does she have any value beyond her sweetened blood?” he asked incredulously.
“She is a telepath,” Bill relayed. “She can read the minds of humans and—to a lesser extent—the two-natured.”
Appius considered Bill’s words for a moment and shook his head. “The idea that Eric feels anything approaching affection for this mostly human is troubling to me—even if some value can be seen in her talent.” He sneered. “Had Eric truly absorbed my training, he would not care anything about her! He would have forced a bond with this Sookie immediately upon meeting her, making her his blood slave and harnessing her skill as his own. Had he done so, he could have kept her secured in one of his homes—without the need for mongrel guards! And he could have sated any lust he felt for her at will, rather than allowing it to develop into an emotion that weakened him,” he added with a judgmental hiss.
Bill held in his anger and worry over Appius’s words. Indeed, sometimes, he would still find himself wondering why Eric had not done what Appius was depicting. After all, Eric was a monster, just like his maker. Bill wondered if Eric was just biding his time, making sure that Sookie did not have any living Fae kin that would demand retribution if Eric made Sookie into his Renfield.
“You have seen them together—yes?” Appius asked.
“And does Eric demonstrate outward affection for her?”
Bill recalled the week before—that horrible night that he was last in Sookie’s home—the night that she’d banished him from her home and her life.
After she’d uninvited him, Eric had come to her. He’d held her in his arms, comforting her. Had Bill not witnessed Eric’s seemingly sincere care for her, he might not have believed it. But witness it he had.
“Perhaps Eric is manipulating her to believe he cares,” Bill mused. “However, I have seen him show signs of outward affection for her—in front of other vampires.”
Appius was silent for a moment. “Eric seems to be in great need of a refresher course in proper vampire behavior; however, it will have to wait until Alexei and I are finished in the Philippines.”
Had Bill been a human, he would have shivered at the sight of Appius in that moment. The elder’s eyes glowed with the idea of “teaching” Eric his own brand of vampire etiquette. In that moment, Bill felt very grateful for two things. One—that Appius Livius Ocella was not his maker and, therefore, had no power to command him. Two—that his own maker was no more.
Indeed, Appius—Ocella—reminded Bill of Lorena, though the woman was certainly a much “tamer” version of Ocella. Both makers, however, clearly had an important character trait in common: they both enjoyed inflicting pain upon their children when they deemed it necessary.
“There is a witch in Louisiana who is allied with me,” Bill ventured.
“A witch?” Appius asked. “What need does a vampire such as yourself have of such an ally?”
“Generally, none,” Bill responded carefully, given Appius’s clear distaste for creatures other than vampires. “However, the witch has an interest in Eric.”
“Interest?” Appius asked.
“She wishes to encroach upon his territory and take a portion of his profits. She also wishes to become his lover and feed upon him.”
Appius laughed out loud. “Oh, does she now?”
“Would it not be fitting—given how Eric has given his blood to a human—that he be made to give it to the witch, Hallow?”
Appius considered for a moment. “Such a thing would be quite ironic. Is this witch you have allied yourself with powerful?”
“The most powerful I have encountered. She is also a Were and uses vampire blood to enhance her strength and magical power.”
Appius scoffed. “Such a creature is an abomination.”
“Making her an even more appealing tool with which to punish Eric?” Bill half-asked and half-suggested.
“Yes,” Appius said with a sinister smile. “Perhaps this Hallow creature would be an appropriate tool for reminding Eric that mixing—in any way—with lower beings is poor judgement.”
The elder vampire seemed to be imagining many scenarios as his sick smile twisted even further upward. “Yes—a trip to the New World will be a nice diversion after we are done here. Do you not think so, Alexei dear?”
The younger vampire shrugged but then nodded. “Especially if you will punish my brother.”
Appius chuckled. “Perhaps, you will be fond of him upon meeting him and wish for me to show him mercy.”
Alexei shook his head, his eyes twitching as if he were insane.
“I admit that it will be fun to plan how to toy with Eric. It has been too long,” Appius mused, more to himself than to Alexei or Bill.
“I ask only that Sookie not be physically harmed,” Bill said. “She is mine, after all.”
“You suffer from a fondness for this creature too?” Appius judged with a sneer.
“I wish to mold Sookie to fit my needs,” Bill responded truthfully. “I will admit to enjoying,” he paused, “certain qualities that she possesses. But—I will no longer tolerate her defiance. She will learn, however, to please me again,” he added.
Appius smiled at Bill. “And do you plan to use your blood to mold her to your will?”
Bill nodded, even as he pushed back his shame. “She will come to understand that it is best that I do so.”
Appius nodded approvingly at the younger vampire. Perhaps, he was not such a waste of space, after all. Perhaps he could be molded.
Appius leaned forward and brushed Bill Compton’s cheek with the backs of his fingers. The younger vampire bristled a bit at his touch, even though Appius could sense a bit of lust in Bill’s eyes.
Perhaps molding Bill Compton could be fun. Appius hadn’t allowed himself “to sculpt such a project” since he’d turned Alexei.
Perhaps, with Alexei distracted by the decadence to come and the upcoming trip to America, Appius would have the time to devote to creating a “new child” of sorts—one that he might task with taking over Alexei’s care after his two-hundred years as his direct “keeper” was up (thanks to his cunt of a maker’s command). And—if Alexei associated Bill with the fun he was about to have—then his younger child would take to Bill even better.
Yes. Perhaps, Bill might serve a purpose, after all, and the weakness of character Appius sensed within the young vampire could ultimately be twisted—corrupted—into an advantage.
And Appius did so enjoy corrupting. Yes—Appius was certain that Bill Compton could be easily molded into exactly what Appius wished, in contrast to one such as Eric—who had resisted him to his very core.
And—if Bill was initially a bit “uncomfortable” as he was fashioned into Appius’s asset? Well—that might be fun for Appius too. He stroked Bill’s cheek again.
“I have things that I can teach you about vampire superiority. I have the means to help you to fully understand—in ways that you have not yet been able to imagine—how vampire-human relations ought to be,” Appius said almost seductively. “And I will help you in your quest to retake the woman you seek—as long as you vow that you will treat her as a human pet ought to be treated.”
“I admit that I,” Bill stammered, “care for Sookie.”
“After you have molded her to be an acceptable companion for you, then you will turn her,” Appius said, almost as if he were glamouring Bill. “That way, you can keep her—control her for all time. And—in so doing—you would make her into a more perfect creature—one worthy of your care.”
Bill nodded. “I had determined that I would turn her once. She’d,” he growled, “taken Eric’s blood and was thrown into a trunk where I was dead for the day. I was injured at the time,” Bill added.
“A car trunk?” Appius chuckled. “Now that is a story you must tell me. But why did you not turn her if you had the occasion to do so. As well as the need for her blood?”
“Eric stopped me,” Bill said bitterly.
“You despise my elder child, do you not?” Appius grinned.
Bill nodded in affirmation, though clearly somewhat reluctant to witness Appius’s reaction.
The elder vampire simply stroked Bill’s cheek again; this time, the younger man leaned a little into his touch. It was difficult for him not to, given the magnetism the elder vampire seemed to exude.
Appius smiled. Bill Compton would be so easily crafted—so pliant to his will.
Of course, there would be many bad habits for the vampire to overcome. It was no wonder that Bill was jealous of Eric, Appius thought. Clearly, Eric was a superior vampire in most ways.
Except that Eric had never truly embraced the mentality of the vampire as Appius had desired.
However, in all other ways, Eric had risen a magnificent vampire: beautiful, stronger than expected for a newborn, and with an inner strength that—if it had been applied as Appius had desired—would have made his child unstoppable!
Alas, Eric did not behave as Appius would have hoped.
And—as for Alexei—his potential had always been limited by his weakness and chronic illnesses as a human, as well as by the desperation involved in his turning. Indeed, Appius had likely turned Alexei when he was too far gone. Thus, he was unable to control himself as he may have otherwise; sadly, the boy would always need supervision.
But Appius had not been able to resist turning the young prince.
“I see great potential in you, Bill,” Appius said, his voice still low and seductive.
“I am honored,” Bill said sincerely.
“As well you should be. To be judged as worthy by one of my ilk is—indeed—a great distinction. “You will stay with Alexei and me until we travel to Louisiana together. Here, you will partake with us—learn to embrace that which ought to be unbridled in a vampire.”
“But, Papa!” Alexei pouted. “I do not wish to share!”
“Hush, child,” Appius said with a mixture of sternness and appeasement. “There will be plenty to go around. And—if there is not—I will arrange for more.” He smiled at his child. “And would it not be nice to have another vampire in company as we play?”
Still pouting a little, Alexei shrugged. “You promise you will get more to hunt if we run out?”
“And we still get to stay for a month?” Alexei followed up.
“More than a month—remember? All the way from Christmas to February 1,” Appius chuckled.
“Okay,” Alexei said, pacified for the moment.
“I am grateful for the invitation to join you, Ocella. However, I cannot be . . . .”
Appius interrupted. “I am prepared to take you under my wing—to teach you what I know and to allow you decadence on a level you have never imagined. And I am prepared to help you get the woman you want afterwards—as well as toy with my elder child, which is also something you want to happen. I make these offers because I believe you could become a useful extension of me. But I will make these offers only once,” he said firmly.
“And how long would I be under your wing?” Bill asked with some unease.
Appius chuckled heartily. “As long as our association is mutually beneficial—of course. Take a moment,” the elder said gently. “But consider my offer carefully.”
Bill nodded gratefully and did as Ocella suggested. To become the protégé of one such as Appius Livius Ocella could be of great benefit to him. Yet Bill had always teetered on the line between embracing his vampire self and feeling shame for his more violent tendencies. When he had succumbed to his baser instincts before, he’d always understood that Lorena was the cause. Now—perhaps for the first time—the choice of what kind of vampire he wished to be was his. Undoubtedly, having one such as Ocella as his ally—indeed, his protector—would be convenient. Never again would he have to fear the likes of Eric Northman or Sophie-Anne Leclerq, for they would know that he had a more powerful vampire than they at the ready to defend him. And—as an ambitious vampire—Bill had always felt like he was destined for some kind of greatness. Linking his existence to Ocella’s would be a step in that direction. And—then—there was Sookie. Ocella had basically vowed to help Bill secure her. The elder vampire clearly had a disdain for humans—especially if emotion was involved. However, he had also supported Bill’s plan to bring Sookie to his side—to mold her to become his perfect mate.
“May I keep Sookie as my human pet for several years before I turn her?” he asked aloud.
“You enjoy her warmth and blood,” Appius said knowingly.
“Then keeping her warm and bleeding is not something I would prevent. Indeed, it would be your right as her master.”
“Her master,” Bill said with a hint of a smile.
“You like the sound of that,” Appius voiced, grinning conspiratorially.
Bill nodded, somewhat ashamedly. “Sookie would be mine?” he asked. “I—uh—would not have to share her?” he continued, glancing furtively at Alexei.
“I would never ask you to share her—if that is what you are getting at. However—if she is sweet—an occasional offer of a few drops to your adoptive brother and myself would be welcome,” Appius said, also with a glance at Alexei. “I would, of course, assure that nothing more than a bit of blood was taken from her on such occasions. And—as neither Alexei nor myself indulges in the weaker sex beyond feeding—there would be no worry on that account.”
Again, Bill contemplated in silence for several moments. “I am in Sophie-Anne’s retinue. That might complicate my traveling with you.”
“She would not test me—if I asked for your extended company,” Appius smiled.
The room was quiet for a moment.
“I would be honored to become your protégé,” Bill said with an air of finality.
“Excellent!” Appius clapped.
“I will need to make a few calls—to Hallow in order to ensure her patience and also to Andre, the queen’s child.”
“He is your confederate as well?” Appius asked with a smirk.
Bill nodded. “He wants control over Sookie—I think—for the queen. I am using Andre, and he believes that he is using me.”
Appius smiled. “Yes—you do, indeed, have much potential. Now—you must tell me all about the plans you have already made.”
Bill nodded. “May I ask what we will be doing for the next few weeks first, Ocella? You have alluded to what is to come, but my curiosity is peaked,” he added, licking his lips.
Appius chuckled sinisterly. “There are many adventures for a vampire with the means and the audacity to enjoy them. Datu is especially accommodating.”
“How so?” Bill asked eagerly.
“Some of the islands of the Philippines are practically untouched by time, the indigenous peoples living upon them shunning the trappings of the modern world. A few lack even such modern conveniences as telephone access. It is to one of those small islands that Alexei and I—and you—will go at nightfall tomorrow. A witch in Datu’s employ will place a spell preventing all but vampires from going to or from the island until February 1. There is also a spell to protect our resting places there. We have been given leave to hunt upon this island.” He sat forward and grinned maniacally. “Tell me—have you ever participated in the extinction of an entire people group?”
Bill shook his head, shaking in both anticipation and horror. Indeed, now that he was joining with Ocella, there would be no going back.
“There are six hundred and three humans to hunt,” Appius shared. “We will stay concealed, hunting only half a dozen a night—to play with and to feed from. We will create a specter; we will be the bogeyman come to life. Soon, the island will be nothing but fear—terror that will compound when the humans discover that they cannot leave the island. Finally, on our last night, we will kill all who remain! We will bathe in blood every night—for 39 nights. And then we will burn all traces of the people we annihilate. Or—perhaps—we will leave one human alive, glamoured to have forgotten all the destruction that occurred—except for in his never-ceasing nightmares. Would it not be amusing to watch such a human go on—solely responsible for making the choice between staying on the tribal land or moving outward to breed and try to carry on something of his or her people. Oh—how amusing!” Appius laughed sinisterly.
Bill closed his eyes, a part of him wishing that the horror of Appius’s description might be washed away from his mind.
A small part of him.
“Do you still wish to join Alexei and myself?” Appius asked, almost tauntingly.
“Yes,” Bill practically whimpered. “Very much.”
“Good,” the elder said, sincerely pleased. “Tell me—is ‘William’ your true given name?”
Bill nodded in confirmation.
“Then you will be my William,” Appius said with a satisfied smile.
Again, Bill nodded. He could not help but to have doubts about the path he was now on. Yet he also could not control his excitement.
“Come, William, Alexei,” Appius said, standing up and winking at Bill. “Datu promised an appetizer. There is a bungalow two kilometers from here that houses three humans, one of whom tried to swindle our hosting king. He has gifted us with them.”
“Papa!” Alexei bounced up excitedly. “You said we would have to wait to eat until tomorrow!”
“I wanted it to be a surprise, little Lexi,” Appius said fondly. “It is now Christmas, after all.”
“Thank you!” Alexei said, embracing his maker. “And I will not even have to share—since there are three of us and three of them!”
“That is true,” Appius smiled, pleased that Alexei seemed willing to accept William’s presence. “Now—let us go and enjoy our first meal together—as a,” he paused, “family.”
A/N: First of all, I hope that you all have had a wonderful couple of weeks! I had a good visit with family, but then was greeted by a pile of work. Oh well—it never ends.
I hope that you “enjoyed” the chapter. These three make a very disturbing grouping to write for. For me, they are the most twisted (as in mentally defective) trio in the SVM series. I think I am definitely influenced by Ericizmine’s depiction of Alexei, too—so I really don’t have any pity for him. As for Appius and Bill, they were both the worst kinds of predators in my book. Anyway, I promise that next week’s chapter will take us back to Louisiana and will begin with an ERIC POV! So something to look forward to!