THALIA POV, continued
Karin stepped away from the trees so that Thalia could see her. What there was of the moon was obscured by clouds, but Thalia was still struck by the vampiress’s beauty.
“Karin the Slaughterer. You have a reputation,” she said with a respectful bow. Thalia could tell that she was older than the vampiress in front of her, but she had much respect for anyone who was a better hunter than she was. And Karin the Slaughterer was clearly one of the few.
“Thalia. You are well-known too,” Karin said with a low bow of her own. “Tell me—has the Northman told you what my task is?”
“You are his shadow,” Thalia commented.
“Has he explained why that is?” Karin asked.
“He worries about Appius Livius Ocella,” Thalia responded with a sneer.
Karin nodded. “I have a secret you should know. I am Eric Northman’s first turned child.”
Thalia raised an eyebrow, indicating her surprise. She inhaled deeply. “The magic you use to cover your scent is perfect. I can notice no similarity between you and your maker.”
Karin stepped forward. “Do you think Appius would smell any resemblance?”
Thalia considered for a moment. “No. I do not think so. That is why you approached me? You are considering hunting him and wanted me to test your scent?”
Karin shook her head. “No. But it is good to know you cannot pick up any similarity.”
The younger vampiress looked toward the moon and was silent for a moment. Thalia, too, said nothing, though she knew that Karin still had more to tell her. However, she knew that empty words would not hurry Eric’s child along.
“My maker released me fully, using magic to break all holds he had over me,” Karin emphasized, “for he worried that Appius would come and use me to punish him—after Appius failed to make a child of his own. I did not understand at that time that Eric released me out of love—and because he wanted to keep us both safe. I spent many years resenting him for cutting me loose like he did—so irrevocably.”
“Most makers never fully release their children,” Thalia commented. “Or—if they do—it is a decision made only once a vampire has reached a certain age. It is a decision generally arrived at by both maker and child.”
Karin nodded. “Yes. Yet I was released when I was not even 61 years vampire. To be honest, I had wanted to go out on my own by then—to explore and to make my own way. I’d yearned for independence.”
“But that is very different from a broken parent/child bond,” Thalia commented.
Karin nodded. “It is. Our blood connection remains, of course. As long as my maker’s blood is within me, we will always know of the existence of one another—and of some of the feelings. It is somewhat like a blood tie with a human. However, our deeper connection was lost on the night that Eric felt Appius begin to draw closer to where he and I were traveling at the time. That night—I saw my maker afraid for the first time. Yet he did not want me by his side to fight beside him.”
“Fighting with Appius would have killed you both,” Thalia said.
“Tell that to the equivalent of a vampire adolescent,” Karin said wryly.
Thalia let out a rare laugh; it was full of memories—of her own younger vampire years.
“So—why have you approached me?” Thalia asked.
“My reasons are fourfold. The first—and most important—involves the safety of your own charge.”
“What must I know?” Thalia asked, all-business again.
“After my maker used magic to fully release me, I became Karin the Slaughterer. That is not who I was before; it is not even my name. I took on the persona of Karin the Slaughterer, and I have become an assassin who is unmatched. Yet—even I know my limitations. I have often thought about sending my maker’s maker to hell. Two things have stopped me.”
Thalia raised her eyebrow in question.
“The first is that my maker never asked me to; indeed, at times, it seemed as if he had a grudging respect for Appius Livius Ocella. Even—a twisted sort of love. But I believe, now, that Eric is unable to do anything against his maker.”
Thalia sneered. “A maker’s command.” She scoffed. “Only weak makers use such things to prevent their own children from harming them. Hell! If a maker fears his or her own child, he or she ought to have balls enough to kill the child!”
“Yes,” Karin agreed. “But Appius was—is—incapable of gaining any real respect or affection from his progeny,” Karin added. “And, at long last, it is time for me to do something when my maker cannot.”
“You said you had held back for two reasons though,” Thalia observed.
Karin nodded. “I have never taken a contract that I was not 100% certain I could execute, and the stakes are high. If I fail, Appius will either kill me or capture me, before counteracting the magic covering who I am. With either outcome, he will smell Eric in me.”
“Thus, if you fail, Appius would strike here—and likely target Sookie,” Thalia observed.
“And Pam,” Karin added. “It would be best if she had someone watching her back as well.” She paused for a moment. “I approached you tonight, Thalia, because my actions in going after Appius might awaken a sleeping beast. And it will then be up to you to protect Sookie; moreover, I will no longer be there to eliminate Eric if he becomes a threat to your charge.”
Thalia thought for a moment. “Why not leave things as they are—as the status quo?”
Karin sighed. “Because of what I felt tonight from my maker. Even through our limited blood connection, I was able to feel an intensity of joy that—quite literally—drew tears from my eyes. I believe my maker has completed a bond with Sookie Stackhouse.”
Thalia looked surprised. “So soon? I’d expected that outcome—but not for several months.”
Karin shook her head. “I can tell you only what I feel through what remains of our emotional connection. Pam likely felt the bond forming more fully, so you may wish to confirm my hypothesis with her. I can say only that for the last few hours, it has been as though my slight connection with my maker has an echo. Even from the other side of the earth, Appius will ultimately sense that echo as well, and—if he does—his curiosity will likely bring him here no matter what I do. At least, if I hunt him, I can set up a situation that will enable me to strike with the best chances of success.”
Thalia nodded to acknowledge the wisdom of Karin’s statement.
“Plus, my maker deserves happiness without any looming menace. As long as Appius is alive, he will forever be a threat—hovering in the back of Eric’s mind.”
“So gifting your maker with peace is the second reason why you act now,” Thalia remarked.
“Yes. My third is selfish. I wish to settle down, to become again the vampire I was before I had to flee from Eric’s side and become someone who was not his child so that Appius could never discover me. Karin is not my name. It is my profession. I would like to,” she paused, “be what I wish again. And I wish to be as I was born and turned.” She shrugged. “I can always resume my role as Karin the Slaughterer if I wish.”
Thalia nodded. “I can understand the need to establish roots. I roved for many years—until I found a place I wished to settle, and now I,” she paused and glanced back in the direction of the telepath’s home, though it was way too far for even her to see, “like my duties.”
“Sookie Stackhouse is worth your talents?” Karin asked.
“I believe she is,” Thalia responded. “She is my,” she paused, “friend—not that I will ever allow her to know that.”
Karin smirked a bit and then resumed her serious countenance. “So, Thalia, you needed to know that Appius will likely be coming soon if I fail. And you needed to know that he will likely be curious regardless—if he feels Eric’s joy even half as much as I do. Indeed, “joy” is not an adequate enough word. I do not believe there is an adequate one.”
“It is odd that—the more languages one knows—the more likely one is to see gaps in them all,” Thalia remarked.
“True,” Karin said with another small smirk. “And—now—for the fourth reason I approached you. Even from here, I can smell the usage of some truly lovely magic.” Karin inhaled. “Complex and powerful.”
“Yes. There is a witch in the area, Amelia Broadway. I, too, sensed her immense talent. Moves are being made to secure her talents in the defense of this place.”
Karin nodded her acknowledgment. “I have plenty of the potion I use to inhibit my scent, and I must have faith that Appius will not pick up any similarities between my and Eric’s scents. However, if I get too close to Appius, he will feel what is left of Eric’s blood in me. I have always made sure that I moved on if rumors of Appius’s proximity were in the air. However, now I will be putting myself into his path. Thus, I need the witch to construct a potion that will hide all ties of my blood. I have found a recipe for such a potion, but I haven’t the skill to make it.”
Thalia considered for a moment. “Give me the recipe, and I will approach the witch myself. She will help, and your involvement will never be known.”
Karin nodded. “That is what I was hoping you would say.”
The younger vampiress handed Thalia a folded piece of paper and then turned to walk away, but then paused. “If I meet the true death and my maker lives through all of this, will you give him a message for me?”
“Yes,” Thalia responded.
“Tell him that Isolde met her fate as herself and without regret. Tell him that,” she paused, “Isolde could not have asked for a better maker.”
“I will remember,” Thalia said softly.
And with that, Karin was gone.
Thalia left moments later; she felt the need to be closer—once again—to her charge.
A human who reminded her of herself.
“Worth at least ten goats,” Thalia said with a little smirk.
Unbeknownst to either vampiress, a being—not quite in the human realm and not quite out of it—had overheard their conversation.
Batanya used the magic that made her own stealth unmatched even among her own kind to materialize fully into the human realm. She took a moment to take in the scent of the vampiress Karin.
“Northman’s child, though the elder vampiress was correct that she smells nothing like him,” the Britlingen mused, allowing that knowledge to become added to all that she had already learned about her newest assignment. The Dae, Desmond Cataliades, had informed her that Sookie Stackhouse might very well already have enemies, as well as those who would covet her.
There were clearly many who cared for her, too. And some—like Northman—who, though he clearly cared, might be compelled to harm Batanya’s charge.
The Britlingen did not care what the motives were of any individual who might try to hurt or to kidnap the young telepath in her charge. She would kill any who dared.
However, she knew that she would also have to try to save Northman too—from himself and/or from his maker.
The bond required that.
Batanya smiled to herself. Britlingens were much more inherently magical than vampires, human witches, demons, and even the Fae—though they did not make potions or cast spells like the latter three groups did. Because of the magic within her, Batanya had sensed the precise moment when the bond had been formed between the vampire and the Fae-human hybrid. She had seen much during her time, but never such a bond.
In many ways, the newly-forged bond fought against nature. Yet—to those who had formed it—it was clearly the most natural thing of all, given the power of the magic their bond had produced. Batanya would be glad to protect the beings who made that bond.
She looked in the direction that Thalia had gone—the way back to the Stackhouse home. The vampiress was formidable. Northman’s children, both Pamela and Karin, whom Batanya would now also know as Isolde, had clearly been taught the arts of surveillance and battle. Batanya had already discounted the help of the other vampire whom she’d seen—Bubba. He moved with neither grace nor power, though he had managed to skillfully track a squirrel through the woods.
Well—it was something to add to Sookie Stackhouse’s assets. However, Thalia alone would be enough to eliminate most vampire threats. A third vampire guard, Padma, had yet to be fully assessed by the Britlingen.
The two-natured guards the Britlingen had seen during the daylight were exemplary. The werehawk, though young, was instinctive and clever in her movements. The shifter—who clearly preferred transforming into a bear—was quite powerful. The Weres in company—led by Maria-Star Cooper (who was one of only six beings to know why Batanya was in the human realm)—were estimable. The human sniper had seemed an odd choice for security, given the supernatural nature of the others, but he had turned out to be quite skilled with a lethal human weapon—if his practice shots that morning were true indication of his potential deadliness. Batanya had seen that the sniper employed silver bullets, which would surely slow down an enemy.
Other than Maria-Star Cooper, Thalia, Eric Northman, Desmond Cataliades, and his niece Diantha—as well as Sookie Stackhouse herself—no others knew about Batanya’s presence. Cataliades had deferred to the Viking in giving Batanya her specific assignment: to protect Miss Stackhouse from all threats. Batanya had not thought that Northman might be considering himself to be a potential threat.
She sighed, wondering if her own charge could survive if Northman had to be eliminated to save him from harming his beloved. Their bond was strong enough to make the Britlingen worry that she would fail her commission if she had to kill Northman for harming Miss Stackhouse.
She really hoped that she would not need to find out.
A/N: Hi all! I hope you enjoyed this chapter, featuring three bad ass women. I always loved the potential of these characters, so I think CH for them. However, I wish she’d fleshed them all out a bit more. So I hope you enjoyed what I did here.
Please comment if you have the time & inclination.
As I said last week, this story is going to need to take a pause. The good news is that this hiatus will likely be short-hopefully only a few weeks. The other story I’ve been working on, The Journey Itself, is now fully drafted! I am currently working on the revision of it, and Kleannhouse, who betas everything I do, has ten chapters already to work on! If everything goes to plan, I can continue working on the revision for a couple more weeks and then begin posting that one as I turn back to The Engine. To those of you who are sad that this story is pausing-I definitely empathize. The muse is sometimes fickle, however. She wanted the other story, and it was coming to me quickly, so I didn’t fight her. When I fight her and try to force a different story, I tend to get blocked for a while. Hopefully, she’ll be refreshed and happy that I “obeyed” her and let me move back to this story. Many of you have asked about my other unfinished pieces. I will say that nothing is abandoned, and I hope to finish everything I’ve started and work on other pieces in this fanbase, which I am still passionate about. There aren’t as many readers for it as there were in the past; however, I appreciate everyone who is still reading my work and keeping me excited about this wonderful past time of writing Eric/Sookie fanfiction. Thank you all.
Hopefully, I’ll “see” you soon with more of The Engine. Meanwhile, please give The Journey Itself a try once it gets started.