Headnote: This “INNER-Lude” occurs after Chapter 24 of From the Inside Out.
BYZANTINE GREECE (835 A.D.)—NEAR ARGOS
I’d come to be fond of the man who had taken me as his wife. A widower without children, Loxias looked to be about as old as my father when he spotted me. I had just come of age, and the man decided that I was worth the bride-price my father had set for me.
Loxias was a landowner and a ship maker—and a skilled one, too. So being his wife had given me a certain amount of status and comfort.
We lived on a small vineyard outside of the town, and we had slaves to work the land and make the wine and olive oil that was yielded from it, for Loxias was too busy with his ships to worry about an estate.
Loxias was a kind man. He beat neither me nor his slaves. In fact, our slaves lived better than most free workers. Loxias made sure that they had good homes, adequate food, and even medicine when needed. And he gave them their freedom after they’d worked off the amount he’d paid for them. Not surprisingly, none of the free men or women chose to leave us, for they were happy with us, and Loxias would pay them a yearly wage if they stayed on.
Many of my husband’s societal equivalents, including my father, critiqued him for this practice, but Loxias was a man of principle. He even saw to it that I was educated once we were married, and—though I could not quite understand why he insisted upon my education—I was happy to learn to read and write. And I loved learning about other places in the world, too!
In fact, after a while, Loxias began to speak to me of his business—and his ideas about life in general. He even listened as I express my own—albeit less developed—ideas on such matters.
And Loxias was patient, too. Though we married during my fourteenth year, it took me until my twentieth year to conceive a child for my husband. And, in all that time, he never showed me any displeasure.
I bore him a boy, whom his father named Aegis—a tribute to his own father.
A year later, I gave birth to twins—a son and a daughter named Cirio and Iona.
Loxias was well-pleased with me—as I was pleased with him, and I enjoyed being a mother and wife very much.
I spent my days tending to the little ones and overseeing the slaves and free workers as my husband worked.
I spent my nights in bliss in my husband’s loving arms.
Aegis was a rambunctious child—beautiful and spirited.
I first noticed that he seemed to be able to read my thoughts when he was only two years old. Loxias did not seem surprised when I told him of my suspicion—nor did he seem disquieted.
In fact, he explained that the gift of reading thoughts was from the gods and had been given to him too, though he said that it needed to be kept a secret. He told me that his mother was what the gods called a faerie, which was a blessed group of beings full of magic and power. He said that he’d been born with what the faerie people called a “spark.” And—because he’d been born to a Fae-bearing female—he’d grown from childhood to adulthood within only a few days!
He also told me that he was much older than he appeared—almost nine centuries older, in fact.
Loxias said that his previous wife had been a full-blooded faerie, but she had not been blessed with the ability to have children. Thus, when she’d passed on to what he called the Summerlands, he’d looked for a human wife, hoping to have children.
He told me that he was grateful for me—very grateful.
He beseeched me not to be afraid of him or our children.
I was not afraid.
I soon found out that Loxias had other gifts beyond his thought-reading. He could meld two pieces of iron together with his bare hands. A light would emit from them, but it would not burn him.
He told me that our children might eventually have similar gifts. His revelations did not sway my feelings for my sons and my daughter, however. I loved them. It was as simple as that.
And I knew that Loxias would teach our children to use their gifts wisely—just as he’d been taught. Meanwhile, I tried to teach them the lessons my own parents had taught me.
Kindness. Respect. The value of working hard.
The children grew.
I was pregnant again as my twenty-fifth birthday passed. Aegis was four years old, and the twins were due to turn three the next week. They, too, had the ability to read thoughts, and I often felt left out as my family would speak to each other in their minds as I was left to wonder what they might be thinking.
Still—I did not begrudge them their gifts. I supposed I just wished I could be like them.
It was summer—hot and humid. Heavy with child, I was often drawn to the stream half a league from our home.
The children were happy to go with me, for all of them were like fish in the water, and little Aegis enjoyed fishing. My eldest boy liked the thought of providing sustenance for his family, and he was teaching little Cirio too.
I had found a perfect spot in the stream; it was under a mature olive tree. I lay there in the water—my eyes half-opened and half-closed—watching my children splashing together happily, even as I held my hands over my distended belly, wondering if my newest child was already somehow speaking to his or her brothers and sister.
I dozed off with a smile on my face.
The first scream I heard belonged to Cirio.
But the others were soon screaming too.
No longer asleep, I half-ran and half-swam toward my little ones, even as growls filled the air. I couldn’t see what was attacking them. It moved too fast!
Still—I threw myself in its path, trying to stop it from reaching my daughter—even as I registered the bodies of my two sons floating in the water.
They were both face down.
And the stream was red.
The monster paused before me.
He looked like a man, but fangs jutted from his mouth.
His eyes moved from my frightened orbs to my belly.
He inhaled deeply.
“You smell of heaven, human,” he growled.
I pushed my daughter toward the shore.
“RUN!” I thought at her, knowing she would hear me.
Iona did not hesitate. She scrambled up the bank and began running as fast as her little legs would carry her back to our home.
“I could easily catch her,” the predator before me smirked. “I could kill her as quickly as I killed these,” he added, gesturing toward my floating sons.
“No,” I gasped. “Please. No.”
“Why should I show you mercy?” he asked.
“If you are a devil, I will offer my soul,” I swore.
“I am a devil,” he said contemplatively. “But you are not what I want.”
He took a step toward me, displacing the water before him as he did.
In the next moment, I was ripped from the stream and thrown onto land so quickly that my spine snapped.
I could not move. I could not feel anything below my neck.
I could not feel my unborn child.
But I could see the monster approaching me.
I screamed as I saw him rip into my belly.
Blood and gore filled my vision, and I knew the life within me was now gone.
I fainted for a moment, but I forced myself back to consciousness, praying to the gods that my daughter’s feet were still moving fast—that she would find safety.
The predator’s face appeared before me, leaning and leering over mine. “Delicious,” he said, his mouth stained with the blood of my unborn child, his hands holding an impossibly tiny body.
“Your daughter tasted of ambrosia,” he added sickly.
“A daughter,” I whimpered.
“Now I will drain the ones whose necks I snapped,” the monster declared.
I could not move my neck anymore, but—showing his sadism—the monster did it for me so that I was looking at the water once more.
As if toying with me, the villain slowly went to Aegis’s corpse and then brought his neck up to his lips before biting into his dead body.
I could only grunt as I felt more hot tears on my cheeks.
I knew that my hands could not brush them away.
When my eldest boy’s body was completely pale and drained of its blood, the creature threw him onto the bank near me.
But I couldn’t reach out for him.
The monster next picked up Cirio and drained him as he’d done his brother. The creature carried the emaciated body of my second son and placed it almost tenderly next to his brother.
He looked down at me with angst in his eyes.
“This was not my fault. You and your children were too tempting to resist,” he accused. “You are to blame for their deaths,” he emphasized, even as he picked up the tiny corpse of my unborn daughter and put her with my sons.
I couldn’t find the power to speak and I couldn’t feel my body, but I did know that I was bleeding out—dying.
I continued to pray for my daughter’s life.
Appearing almost drunk, the monster left.
I stared at my dead children. I could see Cirio’s opened and terror-filled eyes. He’d died afraid.
And I died just a little more for knowing that.
But the fates were not done punishing me for some unknown crime I must have committed.
The monster appeared before me again. My daughter—my last living child—was kicking in his arms.
“I thought I was sated, but this one just smells so sweet,” he said before he ripped into her throat.
I found the voice to scream as I witnessed Iona’s life leaving her eyes.
“Who are you?” I asked weakly as the monster threw her body toward those of her siblings.
He tilted his head and looked at me curiously. “Why do you want to know?” he asked.
“To curse you,” I spit out, noticing that my mouth now tasted of my own blood. “To curse you before you kill me too.”
“I have already killed you,” he said with a drunk-sounding chuckle. “But I will not drain you. I wouldn’t want to ruin the lovely flavor in my mouth with your plain blood.”
“Give me your name! Let me curse you!” I begged, certainly sounding irrational.
“I am cursed already,” he responded.
“Then one more won’t hurt you,” I spit out.
He chuckled. “I like your spirit, woman. So I will tell you. Warlow is my name,” he said. “And—if your curse works—I will be grateful for it,” he added before seeming to disappear.
After that, I worked hard to keep my eyes open—so that I could watch over my children.
Though I’d already failed to keep them safe.
I wished that I could move any of my limbs to get to them. But I couldn’t. Warlow had broken my back—along with my heart.
It was many hours later when Loxias found us. Only then did I close my eyes.
I’m sure he thought I was dead at first, for he went straight to our children and wept over them. As I faded into the darkness, I could not blame him for showing favor to them.
“I am sorry,” I managed to whisper, thinking that those would be my final words.
“Thalia!” he cried out incredulously, before scooping me up into his arms.
“Monster,” I whimpered. “A monster killed them.”
“Do not think on that. You will be fine,” he said, kissing my forehead and running with me toward our home.
But I knew I wouldn’t be fine. I couldn’t even feel his arms holding my body.
And then I slipped away.
THREE NIGHTS LATER
I woke up thirsty, so incredibly thirsty that it was difficult for me to form a thought.
A jug of red liquid was thrust before me.
“Drink,” a male voice said.
The scent of the liquid made me feel even thirstier, and I immediately did as the voice had bid.
“More!” I said desperately as I licked the top of the jug.
Another was given to me.
As I took my fourth jug, I began to think again.
“How is it that I can move?” I asked the man who had handed me the liquid paradise. “How am I alive?”
“Drink,” he said simply. “Drink until you have no more need, and then we will speak.”
I drank until I was sated. And then I looked at the man who’d given me sustenance.
His skin was darker than mine, but—at the same time—it seemed pale. He had an other-worldly look about him. And I gasped. “Are you a monster? Like the one who killed my children?”
The man tilted his head and studied me for a moment. “My name is Mesehti,” he said, “and I am a vampire.”
“Vampire?” I asked. I’d never hear the word.
A clicking sound filled the air, and the man’s mouth opened to reveal fangs.
I screamed and moved into the corner of the hut I was in.
“Thalia,” he said soothingly. “I will not harm you.”
“One such as you killed my children,” I panted.
“That cannot be,” he said calmly. “My kind—your kind—can be out only during the night. Your children were killed when the sun was high in the sky. I saw them, and it looks as if our kind killed them, but that is truly impossible.”
“Our kind?” I breathed.
“Where is Loxias? Where is my husband?” I yelled out.
The creature before me sighed and hid his fangs as another clicking sound filled the air. “I have owed Loxias a favor for centuries,” he said. “You were to be that favor. He asked that I turn you—that I make you my child so that you could live on.”
“Your child?” I asked.
He motioned toward his mouth. “Feel your own,” he instructed as he showed me his fangs once again.
Tentatively, I moved my fingers to my mouth and cut the tip of my thumb on what I found there.
Resisting drinking my own blood with difficulty, I watched as the small wound healed within seconds.
“You were almost dead when the sun set on the day you were attacked. Loxias had sent a servant to my home—to fetch me,” he said quietly. “Loxias loved you and did not want your existence to end. So I drained the rest of your blood and fed you mine. When I did that, your body healed of the wounds that had been made in it, and you became like me.”
“I’m a monster—like the one who killed my babies!” I cried.
“Again, that is not possible. You will soon learn that our kind cannot survive in the sun,” Mesehti said. “We die during the day—every day.” He shrugged. “And—as for being a monster? I do not believe that to be true. The thirst that you woke up with would make you hunt and feed on human blood—similar to how a lion would hunt and feed upon an antelope. However, I will help you to learn how to feed without killing—if that is your wish.”
I retched, though nothing came out of my mouth. I looked at one of the jugs I’d gulped out of; only then did I recognize that the red liquid was most certainly blood—human blood. I heaved again.
“The thought of drinking human blood should not disgust you,” Mesehti chuckled. “It is now the only sustenance that will truly nourish you.”
“No,” I gasped in horror. “Why did Loxias not allow me to die—to join our children?”
He sighed. “I cannot answer that for him.”
“Can you kill me—please?” I begged.
“I could,” he said matter-of-factly. “I am very old and have the strength to crush you with my hands or rip your head off. Or I could stab wood into your heart or leave you to die in the sun. But I will not do any of those things to you. In fact, as soon as I saw you, I knew that I would still owe Loxias his favor, for I couldn’t accept you as such. Thalia, I wanted you to be my child!” he added passionately.
“What? Why?” I stammered.
“You were attacked only a little after noontime, and you wounds were profound. Your womb was literally pulled from your body; your spine was shattered. And—yet—you were still alive when I came. You were fighting for breath; it was clear that you had an amazing spirit—that you would make a magnificent vampire. I knew that the gods still had purpose for your life.”
“I no longer believe in the gods,” I spit out.
He smiled indulgently. “Perhaps you will again one day. Anyway, I meant my gods—not yours. I meant the gods of Alexandria.”
“You are Egyptian?” I asked.
“You know something of the world,” he said, looking pleased.
I nodded. “My husband taught me. Where is Loxias?” I asked again. “Please. Tell me.”
“He buried your children and moved on,” Mesehti said compassionately.
“But why?” I asked desperately. “Why did he leave me?”
“Thalia,” he sighed, “Loxias is half-fairy. And you are a newly-turned vampire. You would try to kill him if you were around him.”
“What?” I asked, horrified. “No! I would not!” I insisted.
He smiled at me indulgently. “Yes. You would. Even humans would be too much of a temptation for you to resist at this time. Should you be within a league of a fairy, your instincts to feed would be out of your control.”
I shook my head in denial.
He looked sad as he rose from where he’d been sitting. “Come with me.”
“No! Where is Loxias?”
“Come!” he ordered forcefully.
I felt his words like a chain, pulling me after him.
We walked out into the night; it was not long before I recognized that we were not far from Argos. And then I smelled something that made my fangs ache.
“It is a human,” Mesehti said. “Not quite half a league away.”
My knees buckled and I fell to the ground in shame and pain. “I want to kill him. I want to take all his blood.”
My maker got onto his knees as well. “I won’t let that happen. I swear it, Thalia.”
I looked into his eyes; they were an impossibly dark color of brown, yet they seemed illuminated from within.
They amazed me. In fact, I realized that all of the messages being sent to my brain from my senses were amazing!
“Let yourself feel the night,” he said softly—knowingly. “Open your spirit and really take the night in.”
Though I didn’t feel compelled by Mesehti’s words, I did as he suggested.
The night sky was not black at all. It was an amazing amalgam of blues and purples, and it was lit up with stars that seemed to be of many colors.
“I’d always thought that they were all white,” I whispered.
“They are not,” he said, following my eyes to the heavens. “And there are many stars in the heavens that humans cannot see.”
“Do fairies come from up there?” I asked breathlessly.
“Somewhere up there. Yes,” he replied. “There are doors between here and their world, so they can pass into this world rather easily. Loxias told me of them. He’s seen the fairy world—but just once. He told me that there are two suns there and that it is always daytime.”
He chuckled. “And that wouldn’t do well for a vampire.”
“How do you know him? Loxias?” I asked, trying to keep my mind from obsessing about the nearby human, whose delicious scent seemed to literally be wafting through the air.
“As I suggested before, the scent of fairies is intoxicating to vampires. The older I’ve gotten, the more I can resist the scent, but—once taken—fairy blood causes vampires to lose their control. No matter how old they are—or how civilized they want to be,” he added darkly. “There was a war between our kind and fairies. I knew better, but I gave into temptation and tasted as I fought, for my vampire brother was with me, and I counted on him to save me if I got into trouble.”
“Brother?” I asked.
“Yes,” he smiled sincerely. “Godric is his name, and we traveled the world together for many years. But my lack of control almost led to his death.” He sighed. “Godric is younger than I, and I should have been watching over him, but he almost died saving me from myself when I became inebriated on Fae blood. I was captured by the Fae, but Godric negotiated with Loxias to save my life. Since then, your husband has been a friend to my brother and me.”
“When was this?” I asked. I’d not heard of any recent battles in the area.
Mesehti closed his eyes. “Three hundred and fourteen years ago.”
My eyes widened. “How old are you?”
He winked at me. “I am almost thirteen hundred years old.”
I gasped. “Is that how you have control? Around fairies?” I asked desperately. “When will I have control around them? Can I see Loxias then?”
Mesehti looked at me with sadness in his eyes. “Loxias is already quite old for a half-blood. He might be gone by the time you have enough control.”
I stood up. “Then start teaching me control—now!” I demanded, motioning toward where I knew the human was. “I mean—please,” I amended.
“Very well,” My maker said, smiling at me fondly.
946 A.D. AMSTERDAM
“You are Thalia,” a male voice observed. The voice sounded kind.
I knew it was Godric even before I turned around and approached him.
“Yes,” I said.
He gave me a slight smile, which was tinged in melancholy. “I was unhappy to hear that my brother met the true death.”
I looked down; I was still mourning for my maker.
“I killed the one who took him from this world,” I growled.
Godric reached out to lift up my chin. “Mesehti has sent me many messages over the years—telling me of you. I can see that he didn’t exaggerate about your fierceness.” He smiled at me. His face was gentle, but I knew from my maker that Godric could be brutal when needed.
“You will stay with me for a while,” he half-asked and half-ordered, even as his eyes lit up. “I have a young child—Eric. You could help me to teach him—to train him.”
I shook my head. “I came to you only because it was my maker’s wish that I seek you out—if he ever met the true death,” I said, my voice catching. “But I cannot stay; I have my own business to attend to.”
Godric looked as me closely. “Mesehti conveyed that your children were killed by a creature named Warlow.”
“I have heard that name,” he said.
“What? You have? Where?” I asked desperately.
Godric sighed. “There is a story in the Book of the Vampyr. Tell me—have you heard of Lilith?”
“No,” I said.
“Supposedly, she was the first of our kind. Supposedly, she made a child named Warlow.”
“A creature calling himself Warlow killed my sons and my daughters during the daytime,” I said, feeling liquid trail down my cheeks at the mention of my children. I ignored the thick, bloody tears.
Godric seemed to go into down-time for a moment as he contemplated.
“Perhaps, it is a different Warlow,” he contemplated. “Perhaps not.”
I gasped at Godric. My own maker—though I loved him very much—had never even allowed for the possibility that the murderer of my children could have been a vampire.
“Warlow is—and always has been pursued by certain elder fairies—though I do not know why,” Godric said.
“Did Loxias tell you that?” I asked, speaking the name of my husband for the first time in almost a hundred years. My maker and I didn’t speak of him after a while. Doing so had been too painful for me.
“No.” Godric frowned. “Thalia. I hate to have to tell you this, but Loxias passed into the Summerlands not three months ago.”
I fell to my knees, weeping almost uncontrollably.
I had still held out hope that I could, one day, be with him again.
“How? How do you know?” I asked.
“After your children were lost, Loxias made his way north,” Godric said. “I saw him several times during the last century. The last time was about three years ago. He asked for news of you. He still loved you—you know?”
“What happened to him?” I asked, pushing tears from my cheeks.
“He diminished much after your children perished,” he sighed. “Magic is a funny thing. It can keep us young for a long time—forever in the case of a vampire. But it cannot keep the mind or the spirit young. Loxias began looking for death. He fought in battles that he had no business being a part of—both human and supernatural battles. Eventually, he found a conflict he couldn’t survive.”
He placed a hand on my back as I continued to weep.
Losing my maker had gutted me. But losing Loxias made me feel as if I were losing my children—and my home—again.
Godric’s touch was firm and comforting, but I hated showing my weaknesses. I’d endeavored to destroy all of my human emotions over the almost-century I’d spent with my maker.
Godric seemed to be able to read those thoughts from me. “I do not see your tears, Thalia. I see only your strength.”
“I have only one reason for living now,” I growled. “To kill Warlow.”
Godric turned away from me and spoke. “Similar to you, my new child has but one purpose in the world—though I am trying to help him to see that he can find more in this life.”
“What purpose?” I asked, happy that the focus of attention had moved away from me.
“Eric’s human family was killed—by Weres, which were likely being led by a vampire,” he said. “The last years of his human life were spent hunting them. The first years of his vampire life have been spent trying to convince me to hunt them.” He turned around and looked at me. “I love my child and will help him with his quest as soon as he has full control over himself. And I shall help you with your quest, too; however, I feel that yours might be more difficult.”
“Thank you,” I said sincerely. “Your help would be welcome.”
“I hope that you will stay with Eric and me for a while,” Godric reiterated.
I found that I wanted to.
“Does Eric know that my maker and you were brothers?” I asked.
“If he’s as special as I think he is, then his blood will know,” Godric said with a twinkle in his eye. “Shall we test him?”
I loved Godric. After my maker, he had been the most important being in my life. But he was not infallible.
In my opinion, Nora was evidence of that.
She was a waste of his fucking blood!
Of course, I could admit that I’d become quite antisocial throughout the years, and I could tolerate very few.
I trusted even fewer.
Nora was not among them.
Still—I knew that Nora might serve a use for me.
I greeted her with a nod of acknowledgment. She was a Chancellor of the Authority, after all. I had begrudging respect for Roman Zimojic. However, I had very little interest in politics.
I was still focused on finding the elusive Warlow.
“Nora,” I said.
“Thalia,” she returned. “It has been ages.”
“Of course it has been,” I said. “We have very few common interests—or goals.”
“We have one,” Nora smiled. “Warlow.”
“What do you know of him?” I growled.
“I know he was Lilith’s child,” Nora offered.
“Godric told me that information a millennia ago,” I said, even as I started to leave the tavern where I’d met Nora.
The bitch was wasting my time.
“Did Warlow walk in the sun?” she asked.
I turned and went back over to her. “What do you know?” I asked with a growl.
She sneered. “Only rumors. Innuendo,” she said in a superior-sounding tone. She’d always adopted that with me—as if I couldn’t crush her within a second.
It was only my love for Godric which had stopped me from doing so when Nora had annoyed me over the years.
“Rumors? Innuendo?” I asked after a moment.
She shook her head. “I don’t even know why I’m bothering. Godric asked me to look into Warlow now that I’m a member of the Authority, but I hardly see why he thinks you are worth the effort.”
I titled my head and looked at her. Even after all this time, she had no idea that we were “related.” Eric—even as a “baby”—had been able to smell the similarities between my blood and his maker’s blood. But Nora was too self-focused.
Oh—don’t get me wrong. She’d done some good over the years—for both humans and vampires. However, I’d always felt that her motives were ultimately her own ambitions.
Not that there was anything wrong with that—unless one tried to act “better.”
As Nora most certainly did.
She sighed as if I were annoying her to the point of insanity.
I hoped I was.
“It’s possible that Warlow was a fairy—before he was turned,” she told me. “And there are some reports that drinking fairy blood can help a vampire walk safely into the sun.”
I acknowledged Nora’s information with a nod. “Do you know if Warlow is still among the undead?” I asked.
“It is believed that he’s been banished—to another realm,” Nora responded. “It seems he has hunters other than yourself.”
Again, I acknowledged what she was saying with a nod. Though I’d never run into Warlow, I had come across one of his hunters before: the fairy, Niall Brigant.
Luckily—for him—he could cover his scent.
Nora smirked. “So—why are you hunting Warlow anyway. Are you one of the fanatics who wishes to cling to anything that is of Lilith?”
“No,” I said simply, before turning to leave. Being in Nora’s presence was too annoying to endure for long.
“Warlow was last known to be in Louisiana,” she said from behind me.
I turned to face her.
“Eric’s territory,” Nora smirked before zipping out of the room.
The bitch always did have to get to last word, even though taking it from an elder showed me her weaknesses.
1997 SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
“Hello, Cousin,” I said, sneaking up on the Viking.
He turned, showing me that he’d drawn both a short sword and a stake from his clothing.
Perhaps, I’d not snuck up on him after all.
“You are lucky I know your scent,” he smirked.
“And you are lucky I didn’t make an effort to truly conceal myself from you,” I returned.
Eric put away his weapons, smiled, and then reached out to take my arm. He greeted me like he would have a warrior in his human time.
I liked that. It showed me that he respected me.
“I am pleased to see you, Thalia. Surprised and pleased. It has been 242 years,” he added.
I nodded. “Yes. And now I am looking for a place to settle down.”
He looked at me skeptically. “You are not one to want to settle down.”
I smirked at him. “And you are one who does.”
Eric chuckled. “Guilty—as charged. But, Thalia, the vampires in my retinue are required to offer both tribute and service. If I offered you special treatment, I’d have to disclose our relationship to each other, Cousin.”
I rolled my eyes. “Fine. I will pay your tribute and do what is required to be in your retinue in order to keep others from knowing of our affiliation.”
After all, allowing too many others to know of your connections was one of the worst things a vampire could do.
Eric’s eyes twinkled.
“You are going to enjoy my being in your service—aren’t you Viking?” I asked with exasperation.
“Too much,” he grinned.
I chuckled. Eric always was something of a “boy”—especially when we were relatively young vampires together, traveling with Godric and learning from him.
“Have you spoken with Godric lately?” I asked.
He shook his head and looked suddenly forlorn.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Godric has told me that he prefers that I not visit him for the time being,” Eric reported. “Or call him. In fact, he told me that he will initiate all contact between us from now on—unless there is an emergency.”
“What?” I asked incredulously.
“He made it a command,” the Viking whispered.
I pulled my mobile phone from my jacket pocket and dialed my “uncle’s” number.
“Thalia,” he said by way of greeting.
I saw Eric perk up at hearing his maker’s voice, though the Viking remained silent.
“Godric,” I greeted.
“Did Nora contact you? I asked that she do so if she discovered any new information about your foe,” he said.
Eric’s eyebrow raised in question, but I brushed his query aside with a wave of my hand. As much as I liked and respected Eric, he had his revenge quest and I had mine. I’d thought once about telling him about Warlow, but I’d stopped myself. Eric was the sort to get lost in helping me. He was “better” than I was in that regard. Perhaps to my discredit, I knew all about his own revenge quest, yet I didn’t have any desire to be involved in it.
Call me selfish.
Call me single-minded.
Call me vampire.
Arguably, there was something “too human” still in Eric. Godric had recognized it a millennia ago. And I’d recognized it too. Thus, I’d never burdened the Viking with my toils, for he truly would have been weighed down by them—for he cared for me deeply.
And—for that—he would always have my loyalty.
“I’m with Eric,” I said to Godric.
“Oh,” he said.
There was silence for a moment. Eric was looking at the receiver of the phone as if it were the altar of Zeus.
Or—in his case—the altar of Odin.
“Tell my child that I will visit him soon,” Godric said. “Within a fortnight.”
Eric’s face lit up.
“I hope to see you then too,” I said.
“Of course,” he responded before hanging up.
“Thank you,” Eric told me. “Godric still contacts me and visits on occasion, but I fear that I’ve displeased him in some way.” He shook his head. “I have tried to examine all that I’ve done over the past decades.” He sighed. “I failed him in the 1940’s. I worry that he has remained disappointed in me following that failure.”
I approached one of the only two beings I trusted and touched his cheek. “We all fail our makers.”
He shook his head. “I never met Mesehti, but I cannot imagine that you ever disappointed him.”
“I did not save him from the one who killed him,” I whispered. “He ordered me away when the danger came. He ensured that I would be unharmed. And—in so doing—he tied my hands.”
Eric reached out and took my hand. “I would do the same to save Pam,” he shared.
Not liking the emotion of the moment, I changed the subject. “How is Pamela?”
PRESENT DAY—20 MINUTES BEFORE SUNSET
I cannot say that the phone woke me up because no “thing” had woken me up for more than a thousand years. In truth, at my advanced age, I had been awake for some time; however, it was my practice to stay in bed until I knew the sun had fully set.
Call me a purist.
Still—I so seldom received calls unless they were from Eric, so I answered the phone.
The voice greeting me oozed of acid and sarcasm. “Thalia.”
However, I did not hang up. I knew the voice.
“Doctor,” I said.
Ludwig knew more about me than I was comfortable to admit. A part of me hated her for that, but a bigger part of me counted on the doctor.
Yes—she’d become my “shrink” during the past decade or so, a fact that I’d been especially grateful for after Godric had met the sun. As a goblin, Ludwig was unpleasant and gruff. She had no compassion to speak of. In other words, she was the perfect confidant for me. And—I knew that my secrets were safe with her.
Thus, the little goblin knew about my past.
She knew about Loxias.
She knew about my children.
She knew about my desire to take revenge on a monster named Warlow.
“Where is your new child?” she asked me.
“Sarah Newlin has my blood, but she is not my child,” I growled.
My four children were now dust in the Grecian soil near Argos.
And, as a vampire, I’d never been tempted to make a child of my own.
In fact, if anyone other than Eric has asked me to change Sarah Newlin, I would have told him or her to fuck off! But my cousin had asked me to do the “job” because he trusted few others.
Of course, Eric had also “sweetened” the pot by offering to let me out of “Fangtasia service.” In truth, he could have done it before—despite the questions that might have been raised if he let me off the hook—but he knew how much I hated doing my “time” at the club. And—he was still a fucking adolescent in some ways.
“Last night, Sarah Newlin woke up thirsty and winy,” I said dispassionately. “She got TrueBlood and a silver-lined coffin as her birthday presents.”
“It figures that Sarah Newlin would turn after only a day,” she said sourly.
“The worst ones often do,” I commented. Ludwig and I both knew well that a vampire could “cook” for up to three days before rising. And—indeed—the longer one “cooked,” the more gifts he or she would have.
Of course, this had a lot to do with a maker’s intentions and strength.
Unsurprisingly, I had put very little effort or blood into Sarah Newlin.
There was a moment of silence, and I found myself wondering why. Ludwig was known for sharing her words quickly and succinctly and—most often—rudely. She certainly wasn’t one for angsty silences. It was as if the doctor was hesitant about something. I wondered if she could be wary about experimenting upon Sarah. But surely Ludwig didn’t have any scruples about Sarah’s inevitable true death! That woman had made her silver-lined coffin, and now she was most assuredly lying in it.
“Do not worry about Sarah’s condition for your experiments, doctor,” I offered. “Though her coffin is lined with silver, I placed a blanket inside so that the silver wouldn’t touch her skin directly. Unless the foolish creature thrashed around—that is.”
“The Newlin woman doesn’t concern me—beyond her role as my guinea pig. If you had seen all of her and Burrell’s plans, you would understand that her fate is much less cruel than the fates she would have made for all vampires,” Dr. Ludwig growled.
I smiled fondly. Ludwig wasn’t exactly a “first do no harm” kind of physician. And she certainly wouldn’t heal any creature she judged unworthy of her time and effort.
“Is the trial vaccine for Hep-V ready?” I asked. “Are you ready for me to bring Mrs. Newlin to you?”
“Not yet,” Dr. Ludwig said. “I suggest she stay in her coffin for now so that she cannot do any more harm.”
“Oh—she will,” I grinned. “When I put her into it, I commanded her not to attempt to get out. And, of course, I locked it too.”
Again, there was an odd silence on the line.
“Are you going to tell me why you called me before sunset, or should I guess?” I finally asked.
She sighed. “I don’t know if I should tell you. I don’t know if it would do you good or cause you harm.”
I tensed. “Tell me.”
Once again, she sighed. “Fine. Four half-Fae children were born in Area 5 last week. Today, a monster murdered one of the girls. The other three rallied and survived. I have just seen them; they will have emotional scars, but they are resilient.”
“Monster,” I growled.
“An impossible monster,” Ludwig shared, her voice betraying a little fear. That in itself was telling. She continued, “A creature who seemed to be vampire, but who attacked during the day—in the full light of the sun.”
I was tingling with energy.
“The children are telepathic. One of them heard his name,” the doctor said.
“His name,” I repeated, knowing that I already knew it, but asking for confirmation from her all the same.
“Warlow,” Dr. Ludwig replied.
“Where?” I demanded.
“Thalia,” the doctor said firmly, “tell me something first. Would you rather protect the remaining fairy hybrids or kill Warlow?”
I was unable to speak for a moment as I considered the doctor’s question.
The faces of my children came into my mind, and I saw them as vividly in my memories as I had the night I’d risen a vampire. I saw them alive and full of energy. And then I saw them dead. And then I imagined them alive again.
Aegis was fishing and teaching an inquisitive Cirio.
Iona was sitting on the bank of the stream, making a chain of flowers.
And—for the first time—I imagined what my unborn daughter would have looked like.
Loxias, like me, had dark hair. However, my eyes were blue, while his were brown. Our three eldest children had inherited his brown eyes. But I imagined my youngest looking at me with wide blue eyes just like my own.
“Protect them,” I finally whispered, even though I was surprised by those words—and the truth of them. “I want to kill Warlow too, but no more children will die at his hands. No more.”
There was a pause.
“It is more than just those fairy children who are in danger,” Ludwig said.
“Who else?” I asked, becoming even tenser, given the news that Eric had entrusted me with just a few nights before.
He was getting married.
To a fairy-human hybrid.
A fairy-human hybrid who was—by a miracle of magic and fate—carrying his children.
“I have keen senses,” Ludwig said.
“And your point?” I asked impatiently.
“You and Northman? You do not share a maker, but you are of the same bloodline,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Impressive senses, indeed,” I returned. “Our makers shared a maker.”
“All of the endangered children are from Bon Temps—and soon, all will be in the home of Sookie Stackhouse. Actually, that’s wrong. She is Sookie Northman now. As you likely know, Sookie is pregnant and will soon bear part-fairy sons. The four children attacked earlier today are the children of Andy Bellefleur and a flighty fairy named Maurella, who took off as soon as her daughters were born.”
I growled at the thought of a mother abandoning her children.
“The children will be young women by the time you meet them,” Ludwig informed.
“Their growth is accelerated, like Loxias’s was,” I commented, remembering what my husband had told me long ago. A Fae-bearing female would almost always impart her “light” upon a child, and that would speed up his or her early growth.
“Yes,” Ludwig responded. “Sookie and Eric’s children will grow quickly, for they were produced with her light and Fae magic.”
No one left “living” except for Eric and—it was now clear—Dr. Ludwig knew of any “familial” connection between Eric and me, though Pam certainly suspected something. However, she had not been that familiar with Godric’s scent, and she was not gifted with a sense of smell as acute as her maker’s. Plus, she was still relatively young. However, I didn’t think it would be much longer before she “sniffed out” that I was part of the same bloodline as she was, given the fact that Godric and Mesehti shared a maker. She already joked that Eric and I both smelled “old”; she also assumed that I was from Northern Europe, like Eric, and neither her maker nor I had corrected her on that assumption. And, though I did speak to Eric in Greek at times, I cannot recall Pam ever being present when I did.
It wasn’t as if I wouldn’t claim Pam as “family” either. I “liked” her—as much as I allowed myself to “like” anyone these days.
Though—granted—that wasn’t a lot.
Nowadays, I just preferred my solitude.
However, I would give up that solitude to help to protect Eric’s children—my kin. In fact—because they were part-Fae—I felt even closer to the situation. For, like Sookie, I’d once had Part-Fae children. However, unlike me, Sookie would not lose hers!
Of that I was determined!
Even if I had to die to save them!
“You said that all of the children would soon be at Sookie and Eric’s residence,” I said, referring back to Ludwig’s previous comment. “I assume that Eric and Sookie are returning, even now, from their wedding in Rhode Island?”
“I figured the Viking would have told you about that,” Ludwig said. I could imagine her smirk in my mind.
He’d invited me, though he’d known that I would not accept.
Again, the doctor sighed. “Sookie called me earlier. It was from her that I heard of the attack, and she was the one who asked that I examine the Bellefleur girls. She also told me something else.”
“What?” I asked.
“She blames herself for the attack on the girls.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Warlow. He is here for her. Apparently, one of her ancestors promised him the first Fae-bearing woman from the Stackhouse bloodline. That—as it turns out—is Sookie.”
I found myself growling—low and murderously. It seemed as if protecting the Bellefleur girls, watching over my cousin’s sons, and finding Warlow all revolved around the same woman: Sookie Northman, my cousin’s new wife.
“Where is Sookie?” I asked the doctor.
“I thought you’d never ask,” she returned.
A/N: So this one was a long one! It was fun to develop a story for Thalia. Given that I transplanted her from the books to a series based upon the show, I felt like I had a lot of latitude about what I could do with her character. I wanted to try to explain why she’s both so fierce and so “unpleasant.” I always have figured that her story was a tragedy, and I thought that incorporating Warlow into it in this INNER-Lude would make sense. I hope that you enjoyed it! Lemmie know what you think if you have the time and inclination.
We’ll be back to Eric’s POV night week.
Thanks to Sephrenia for the banners and thanks to Kleannhouse for the extra set of eyes! I worked in the banners for the characters as the chapter went along because the section was long and I wanted you to visualize (especially the new characters) as you went. Again, thanks to Sephrenia for making it possible!