A/N: TRIGGER ALERT—brief (and undetailed) references to non-consensual sex occur in this chapter. Still—I wanted to warn you.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9 • 5:40 p.m. • The Philippines
Bill Compton achieved awareness about twenty minutes before sundown. All of the blood he had been taking in had enabled him to wake up before his usual time. By contrast, Alexei would wake up about fifteen minutes after the sun set. Perhaps due to the desperate situation he’d been in when Appius had found him and turned him, Alexei had always been a late-riser. And glutting himself upon human blood actually caused him to “sleep in” even more.
His master called his sleeping in “napping.”
Before Bill opened his eyes, he inhaled deeply and was almost overwhelmed with the scent of blood around him.
When he opened them, he was met with an odd sight and an even odder sound. His master was speaking in baby talk to the lone remaining citizen of the island which had “hosted” Appius, Alexei, and his feasts for the last month and a half. Indeed, their stay had been extended an extra week, for the little island housed more people than even King Datu had been aware of.
“You will have to help me console Alexei when I do not allow him to eat this little one,” Appius said of the three-year-old boy before him. The child had tear-streaks staining his face, and—despite his dark complexion—he was pale with fear and uncertainty.
His parents had been on the menu the night before—saved for last because, though Appius had enjoyed the idea of leaving one lone child alive at the end of the vampire trio’s rampage, he did not want to have to actually take care of said child.
“But he is so excited about the idea of leaving the boy alive to remember,” Bill said evenly. A part of him knew that he should be ashamed of himself for not feeling pity for the being shedding silent tears as he looked up into the face of the most ancient being that he would likely ever meet. But Bill did not feel pity. His master had helped him to overcome that emotion weeks before. Other lingering human traits had also been abolished.
As an example, Bill now knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did not love Sookie Stackhouse, nor should he have ever felt such a weak emotion for a mostly-human creature. Hell! Even if she’d been full fairy, she would not have deserved the love of a vampire!
His new master had taught him that the proper way to feel about an intriguing or useful non-vampire creature was curiosity, as one might feel for a zoo animal. Oh—some such creatures were “better” than others, as the lion was superior to the lamb, but none of them were equal to a vampire.
Indeed, they could only begin to touch equality if they were chosen to be turned into a vampire. However, even then, a new vampire would never be better than the one who chose him or her. After Sookie was his vampire child, Bill would be able to offer her his affection—similar to that “love” which Appius held for Alexei. However, even then, Appius was clear that Sookie would need to earn Bill’s affection—that it could not simply be given.
It could, however, be compelled within her. Indeed, one of the most useful lessons Bill had learned from his master during the prior six weeks had been on a night that Appius had enjoyed his fill early and had regaled Bill with tales of how he’d forced Eric—slowly but surely—to earn Appius’s affection. According to Appius, Eric had initially refused to submit to anything other than Appius’s commands—initially unwilling to receive even his maker’s tender attentions without struggle.
Bill could not understand why—or how—anyone would—or could—resist such an impressive vampire as Appius Livius Ocella. And—knowing that Eric had done so—gave the younger vampire yet another reason to hate him.
The best reason he’d yet found.
Yes—Eric’s lack of appreciation for his maker now made Bill’s temper fire to life. Eric Northman was unworthy. But Bill was not. Case in point—he showed his master proper respect and obedience.
In fact, Bill now viewed Eric’s loss as his own gain. Appius was his maker now—in all ways that mattered. And he would see Eric Northman dead if he disrespected Appius again.
Speaking of his master, Appius was once again trying to coax the child into smiling. But the young one had seen the vampire commit too many atrocities to relent. His face—so innocent—was the truest picture of terror that Bill had ever seen.
“The child is beautiful,” Bill remarked.
Appius turned to smile at his young apprentice. “And what makes him so to you, young William.”
“His pure terror. His terrible awe of you,” Bill responded, his own voice full of awe and reverence. “He exemplifies all that you have taught me about how humans should look at us. And you have given him the greatest gift imaginable.”
Pleased by Bill’s words, Appius smiled. “And what gift do you believe I have bestowed upon the lad?”
“You have shown him the true unbridled beauty of vampire nature, Master. Even as a vampire—and even with a maker who cared little for humanity—I never witnessed what you have shown me in this place. This child has seen such wonders already! And he will live on to re-see them in his nightmares for the rest of his days. He will never be the same. You have spared him; you are his god now!”
Appius’s smile widened. “I knew that there was promise within you, William. But I must say that you have exceeded even my own expectations.”
“I now exist to please you, Master,” Bill said with veneration.
“And so you do—please me,” Appius responded with certainly. “And—since you do—I ask that you take away the child as soon as the sun fully sets before Alexei awakens.”
“You wish me to leave your side?” Bill asked.
“Only for a short while,” Appius assured the younger vampire, who had formed a pleasing dependence upon him in such a short amount of time. “I have arranged for two transport vessels back to the island of Luxon. We will then go to Manila by automobile to pay our respects to Datu. Alexei and I will take the second transport; however, I will keep him busy here for a while. I am sorry that you will miss the great burning I have planned for this place. But not seeing the child—here and so tempting—will be better for your brother.”
Bill nodded in obedient agreement, even as he smiled a little. One of the many gifts that Appius had bestowed upon him had been calling him Alexei’s “brother.” He hoped one night to earn the label of “child” from his master as well.
“I will miss the fire,” Bill said, standing up quickly and pulling on his blood-stained clothing from the night before. Since all the adult humans were dead as of the night before, the trio of vampires had rested within the village itself—in a light-tight section of the home of the last family they’d killed the night before. However, there was a warded lodge on the other end of their island paradise where they had spent all of their other days since their “vacation” had begun. There, he would shower and gather his belongings. “However, it is a small thing to give up, compared to all that you have given to me, Master,” he added.
Appius smiled at the young vampire. “I knew you would understand. Now—as we discussed—take the child to a family on Luxon who will care for him well. And glamour them to raise him as one of their own.”
“Should I clean the child before delivering him?” Bill asked.
“No. It will be more horrible for the child if the first reaction from his new family is one of horror. However, do glamour them not to approach the authorities about the condition in which they find the child.”
Bill nodded in agreement as he watched Appius bend toward the child to give him a light kiss on the forehead. His gaze drew the child’s to him.
“Even without glamour, you would always remember this place and the horrors of what happened, little one,” he said gently to the child. “You were chosen to live because you are just at the right age—to remember, but to never be able to fully comprehend what you saw here. You are at the right age to speak about your experiences without being old enough to be fully believed.” He intensified his gaze so that he was now glamouring the child. “I free your mind to vividly remember the fear and the horrors of your early life. However, you will not be able to say aloud—or to communicate to others in any way—that vampires were responsible for those horrors. You will, however, always live in fear that I will return for you. This fear will not occur to you all the time, little one. After all, I want you to try to find peace and joy in this life, but at first dark, every night, you will worry that I have come for you. And you will remember me—all the days you draw breath,” Appius finished as his fangs elongated.
Bill chuckled heartlessly as the child wet himself.
“The child is ready to go,” Appius said, pushing the little one slightly toward Bill.
The elder vampire sighed. “And I am ready to go, too. Though it has been a lovely visit here, I believe that even Alexei has been sated for a time.”
Bill chuckled again, only this time with affection for his vampire “brother.” It had not taken Bill long to feel a kind of paternal affection for Alexei. He needed special care, after all.
“Just in case,” Bill said, “I will find a few humans for us to feed upon after I find the child a new home.”
Appius smiled with approval. “Yes. Alexei—as much as I hate limiting him—will need to practice feeding without killing. And doing it while we are still in the Philippines will be better in case he fails. Easier to clean up.” The elder vampire sighed and reached toward the bed to stroke his younger child’s hair. “He does so hate to stop feeding before a human is bloodless.”
Bill nodded. “It will seem odd for me too, given the experience here.”
“Arrange for some expendable humans on the private plane to the United States as well,” Appius said. “Part of our trip will be during the day, so about ten should do—for those times when we are awake. Alexei may need to practice feeding without killing several times before he gets it right.”
Bill nodded in obedience and yanked the Filipino child to his feet before lifting him. “I shall make sure that our journey preparations are all in place, Master. And I will call Andre and the witch to ensure that they are ready to attend to us in Louisiana as well.”
Appius watched Bill leave with the motionless child in his grasp. Unfortunately, the little one was in shock, so he had ceased his struggling the night before, though Appius had secured him with ropes before he had taken his rest that morning. It would have been inconvenient if the child had wandered off during the day and gotten itself killed, after all.
The elder vampire lay down next to Alexei. He felt pleased—content even. William had, indeed, been just what their nest had needed. For the first time in many years, Appius no longer feared who would take care of Alexei after he was forced to allow him to go off on his own.
“Bitch,” Appius said, referring to his maker, who had once commanded him to never keep a child by his side for more than two hundred years. Her command had been what had forced Appius to let Eric have his independence.
Appius growled in anger. One of his chiefest regrets was that two hundred years had not been enough time to break Eric, though he had tried. Another of his regrets was that he could no longer stand being in proximity with his elder child for more than a week or so at a time.
“And I do not like to be uncomfortable,” the ancient said bitterly, almost pouting.
Moreover, he always felt weaker if he was around Eric—as any vampire would when going against his or her maker’s orders, even in a temporary way.
Still—Appius was anxious to see Eric again. If William was representing the situation correctly, much damage could be done to Eric in just a week’s time. Sookie Stackhouse could be ripped from him. Pamela, Eric’s second child, could be toyed with. Appius was even contemplating having Eric order Pamela from his side—permanently.
“Yes. Much damage can be done in a short amount of time,” Appius said with glee. Eric would lose the woman he’d been feeling such strong emotions for—emotions strong enough to have been felt by his maker halfway around the world. He would lose his child and, therefore, be in fear of ever making another. And, of course, Appius would use the body of his beautiful child for several nights, enjoying the most perfect specimen of male that the ancient had ever seen.
And he would leave Eric even more anxious about the potential of future visits.
“Perhaps, at long last, you will finally be broken,” Appius smiled.
Isolde had needed to use her persona as Karin the Slaughterer to infiltrate the inner circle of King Datu’s court. Though Datu had many courtiers, mostly sycophants lining up to kiss his fat ass, few were genuinely trusted by the king. Indeed, he’d been trying to hire her for a while, anxious to have a few of the stronger members of his court, those who had been skimming from his own coffers, eliminated. Datu was lazy, however—reticent about dirtying his own hands. He also clearly liked the idea of the notoriety that came along with Karin’s services.
Having employed her meant that others would be much less likely to cross him in the future.
Generally, Karin would have never taken a job from one such as Datu. Simply put, she didn’t like how the king did business, nor did she approve of the kind of business he allowed to be done in his kingdom.
However, Datu had proven useful, offering her the perfect cover for her investigatory work. From the King of the Philippines and those around him, Karin had been able to glean much knowledge, including a bit of information about what Appius had been up to. Unfortunately, she’d been unable to discover the exact isle of his depravities. However, she did know that he intended to be received in King Datu’s court later that night—to offer his last payment for the “special services” Datu had provided.
From the court, Karin intended to follow her maker’s maker. She was almost positive that Appius and two other vampires had arranged for a private flight out of Manila before dawn. If she was correct, they were planning to leave the country from a hangar where she’d stowed a few tools of her trade: the tools of an assassin.
She was hoping to alter their plans—permanently.
Appius looked closely at Bill, who was driving the vehicle that Datu had arranged for their transport to the airport. Alexei was in the back seat in downtime. Bill’s idea to placate Alexei with a meal as soon as they returned to “civilization”—or, at least, what the humans thought of as such—had been inspired.
And it had saved the maker from having to placate the childlike Alexei with the promise of a greater treat later.
Alexei had eaten well, though one of the humans Bill had secured had not survived the encounter. The other had lived, however. And—given Alexei’s difficulty with becoming “tame” once again after a binge—let alone one that had been going on for over a month—that was a small wonder!
Yes—Bill was already proving himself to be quite the useful tool. And now Appius intended to test Bill’s usefulness in another way.
“I have not told you what my vampire gifts are,” Appius stated. “Would you care to learn of them?”
“It would be an honor,” Bill returned, his voice laced with awe.
“One, of course, you have seen.”
“The gift of flight,” Bill said with a certain amount of envy.
“Ah—yes—a coveted gift, to be sure.”
The Civil War veteran nodded in agreement.
Appius sighed deeply. “I am certain that my maker would have held back all gifts from me if she could have. However, she was of great magic—both before and after her turning. The ability that she could not help passing along to me allows me to know when someone is trying to deceive or harm me through the use of magic.”
“What do you mean?” Bill asked. “I mean—I have never heard of an ability like that, Master,” he corrected, his tone shifting from a questioning one to a humbler one.
Appius smiled fondly at his young ward. “The ability is a feeling really—a sense of distrust whenever any form of magical spell is being used against me—in any way. Even more, I feel a sense of warning even at the intention of magical harm—before the act. That is why I do not fear working with your Hallow; if her magic is ever constructed to injure me or my interests, I will know of it before she can utter a single spell or complete a potion. It is a kind of,” the elder paused, “intuition.” He did not mention that this skill was likely a much weaker version of his maker’s prophetic ability. In truth, he resented that he’d not inherited all of Pythia’s skills, though it was said that her future-telling was a part of her even before her turning.
“That is a useful skill, Master,” Bill remarked. “However, I do not think that Hallow will betray us.”
Appius laughed in a way that would have been patronizing to Bill if he were not so completely enthralled by his elder. “Oh, dear boy! You have much to learn! A witch is only ever trustworthy up to a point. And—even then—one cannot be trusted for long. They thirst for our power, and your Hallow is even worse—using our blood to become more like us than any Were or witch should ever be. Still, she—like others of her ilk—can prove useful for a season. And we will test that usefulness. However, now we have other concerns.”
“What concerns?” Bill asked.
“A vampire. Karin the Slaughterer. Have you heard of her?”
“Rumors. She is an assassin—right?” Bill asked.
“Yes. Datu confided in me that he hired her to eliminate some of his foes,” Appius waved as if Datu’s concerns were insignificant—as they, indeed, were immaterial to the elder vampire.
“Do you wish to engage her services?” Bill asked with some confusion.
“No. However, Datu pointed her out to me at court. I had never seen her before tonight. Something,” he paused, “is amiss regarding her.”
“Amiss?” Bill asked.
Appius looked at the younger vampire indulgently. “Yes, young William. Given her profession, it is not surprising that she uses magic to cover up her scent, but I find it quite odd that I know she intends to use her magic against me in some way. At least, to deceive me.”
“You believe Datu arranged for you to be assassinated?!”
Appius laughed. “No. He lacks the audacity for such a maneuver; moreover, he hopes to get his hands on more of my money one day when Alexei is in need of another island vacation.”
The vampire in the back seat perked up. “When, Father? When can we return?”
Appius smiled at the young one’s excitement. “Perhaps a decade.”
“So long?” Alexei pouted.
“After we see your brother, I would like to explore some of the rest of the United States, since it will be my first time there as well. Does it not sound pleasant to explore new places with William? I am sure that there are certain courts that will offer us much amusement.”
Alexei shrugged and turned his attention to look out the window.
“So Karin the Slaughterer?” Bill asked, anxious to know more about what Appius had to say on the topic.
“Oh, yes. Back on track. Thank you, William. To finish what I was saying—my ability allows for me to know how looming a danger from magic is; thus, I know that the assassin is tracking us even now—from above.” He seemed to be pondering for a moment.
“Who do you think employed her?” Bill asked somewhat pensively.
“She covers her scent; thus, when the magic she uses to conceal it runs out, perhaps, we will learn more. Or I may just have to garner information from her the old-fashioned way. Tell me, William. Have you ever had a good lesson in the art of torture?”
“My maker had some advice on the matter,” Bill responded.
Appius smiled at him. “I will be anxious to see what you already know, and—do not fear—I will happily teach you a trick or two,” he winked.
“You do not fear the assassin?” Bill asked, his own anxiety clear.
“Not when I know she is coming,” Appius smiled sinisterly. “However, I do have a job for you.”
“You are to keep Alexei safe as I deal with the so-called ‘slaughterer.'”
“I can take care of myself,” Alexei said sullenly. “William’s not much older anyway.”
“Of course, you can take care of yourself,” Appius placated, even as he shared a significant look with Bill. “I just know that the two of you—working together—will be unharmed while I secure the vampiress trailing us.”
“She cannot hear us?” Bill asked nervously.
Appius shook his head. “She is above us at quite a distance, far enough that I cannot sense her; however, my gift allows me to know she is there,” he paused, “in a different way.” Again, seeming to ponder something carefully, he was silent for a moment. “Speaking of gifts—flight is not such a common one. It tends to be passed along from sire to child—with very few vampires outside of those lucky lineages being able to do it.”
“I can fly!” Alexei said excitedly.
Bill nodded an absentminded reaction to his new vampire “brother.” The Southerner was not of a vampire lineage that enjoyed the gift of flight. Indeed, Northman was one of the only vampires whom he’d ever met who could do it.
“Do you think her ability is significant?” Bill asked his mentor.
“One of the reasons I have lived as long as I have is because I think of all possibilities,” Appius said contemplatively. He turned to Bill and then Alexei. “Proceed to the airport, and be wary—in case the Slaughterer is not alone in whatever quest she is on.”
Bill gasped as Appius moved so quickly from the moving vehicle that he almost seemed to disappear as if by magic. Alexei’s fangs came down.
“Daddy gets to hunt!” he enthused. “He likes to hunt vampires—sometimes!”
“And you?” Bill asked, mostly to make sure that Alexei was kept somewhat distracted so that he wouldn’t fret over his maker.
“I like to hunt humans—mostly,” Alexei shrugged. “One time, Father got me a fairy to hunt, and that was very nice,” he added, licking his lips.
Bill nodded, even as an uneasy feeling engulfed him. He did not want Alexei to grow fixated upon Sookie because of her fairy blood. In confidence, Appius had offered a private assurance that Alexei would be “controlled” as needed, though he’d certainly encouraged Bill to “share” Sookie’s blood with Alexei and himself. It wasn’t as if either of them would prefer her for sex.
Of course, Bill had agreed to share Sookie with them, and—if they ultimately decided to fuck her—he would allow that, too. After all, his new master had thoroughly convinced him that Sookie was—in her current form—a lesser being.
“Ah—he’s caught her!” Alexei enthused.
“How do you know?” Bill asked.
“Since he’s been hunting, he let me feel him,” Alexei shared. “He can cut off his end of our bond, but he doesn’t when he knows I want to feel what he’s feeling.”
Bill nodded as he turned the car onto the access road that would take them to the private airfield that they’d be leaving for the United States from.
“Father is just disappointed the hunt didn’t last longer,” Alexei sighed. “But it will be fun to torture her—don’t you think?”
“Yes,” Bill stated, feeling a sense of excitement at the prospect of learning from Appius. Plus, he was intrigued to find out why Karin the Slaughterer meant his Master ill-will.
A/N: Hi all! If you are like me, Appius and Bill make you cringe. In deciding upon my portrayal of Appius in this piece, I determined that I wanted to paint him in what I would imagine is the worse light possible—to paint him as being truly evil to his core. I couldn’t imagine a more evil scenario than what I imagined would be Appius’s behavior if he had the opportunity to treat humans in any way he wanted. Anyway, even I—as the author—cringed through the re-reading of this. I hope that means I did a good job.
I promise—no Appius in the next chapter. Instead, a little Sookie and Eric.
P.S. As always, please review if you have the time and the inclination.