Chapter 34: Losses & Gains, Part 1

Chapter 34 United


A/N: The cast is huge for this chapter, so I’m going to be intermixing the chapter banners in with the text.  Thanks Seph for all the visuals!!!!!!  And thanks to Kleannhouse for the beta-work!


PYTHIA POV

“You are a strong woman,” Pythia said to the she-wolf.

“Yes,” Maggie returned.

“Are you strong enough to ask to be a vampire?” the Ancient Pythoness asked, even as she dragged Maggie’s body out of the fray and into a supply closet.

The vampiress said nothing as the Were rattled agonized breaths.

“What do you see?” Maggie asked wearily.

“I good future for you—either way,” Pythia stated softly. “The afterlife would welcome you. And—so would I. If you allow me to make you my child.”

Maggie sighed, feeling a little stronger suddenly. Or maybe it was just hope she was feeling. “Does my husband await me? In the afterlife?”

“He does,” Pythia said. “He is,” she paused, “eager for you.”

The Werewolf breathed a shaky sigh. “Will Brady live through this?”

“He will go on,” Pythia responded somewhat enigmatically. “He was always meant to stay on this plain. You and your mate raised a strong young man.”

Maggie sighed again, and this time blood came forth from her mouth.

“I think that I am ready to go to Brady’s father,” she said.

Pythia looked at the woman and smiled a little. “I figured you would choose your mate—though I’ve now had two denials of offered immortality in less than a week.”

Maggie smiled through bloody lips. “Sorry.”

“I am not,” Pythia said, her back straightening. “Why would I be sorry to be with such a formidable lady as she passes from this world to the next?”

Maggie gripped the hand of the vampire who was now holding hers.

“Thank you for your offer, milady,” she whispered.

“You are most welcome. Enjoy reuniting with your mate,” Pythia said, even as the life of the Werewolf dwindled and was lost.

In truth, Pythia had always known what the woman’s answer would be—but, even amidst battle, some pauses were owed, and Pythia had always appreciated female warriors of Maggie’s strength. Even when her strong mate had been alive, Maggie had not been one to stay behind her husband.

Pythia closed the Were’s eyes and waited. Soon she knew that the one who she was really meant to make her child would come to her.

Maggie

AP_UN


TALBOT POV

Neutral vampires or cowards had quickly left the ballroom as soon as all hell broke loose; the more generous of them had taken the human donors or pets out of the room with them.

Talbot was one of those exiting vampires. Of course, his King and lover had ordered him to leave as soon as the fighting began. However, Talbot hadn’t expected things to start so abruptly, nor had he expected that the harbinger of the battle would be a war-cry from Eric Northman.

Talbot licked a fang, even as he dragged Hadley with him into the elevator. Sophie-Anne was supposed to have left the ballroom with him, but she’d been engaged in battle before they could get out, and she’d pushed her pet at him to babysit. He sighed at the “duty,” though he agreed that it would be a pity to waste a tasty morsel.

“Sophie!” Hadley cried out, trying to struggle from his grip.

Talbot rolled his eyes. What did the idiotic human think—that she could “save” a vampire in the middle of a vampire battle?

“Shut up—or I’ll let you go,” the vampire warned gruffly, even as he thought about Russell’s amazing costume and how angry he’d be if it became spoiled. He was keen to have his lover take him in that outfit. Moreover, Talbot had spent hours working with a clothing designer to get things just right.

“I should have had the tailor make a spare,” the vampire muttered as the elevator doors opened to his suite with Russell. He would glamour Hadley to be quiet and wait for Sophie-Anne in their room. And then he’d engage the locks to his own and “hunker down” as Russell had instructed him to do. Only a single Were was guarding the door to the suite, though he was quick and efficient about letting Talbot and Hadley inside.

Soon, Talbot had followed through with his plans for Hadley, and she was—thankfully—silent as a church mouse. He truly hoped that Sophie-Anne survived; she was an amusing companion. Of course, he planned to keep the pet for culinary reasons if she didn’t, however.

Talbot went to the main room of the suite to get a few bottles of Royalty blended. And then he retired to his and Russell’s bedroom and engaged the locks.

Talbot never had a doubt that his lover would come to him soon, so he went about preparing himself so that he could best enjoy the fruits of Russell’s bloodlust—without the loss of his own costume.

Talbot_UN

Hadley


PETER POV

Peter Threadgill had—unfortunately—given Jade Flower too quick of a death, though their battle had taken several minutes. It turned out that they were evenly matched—until the King of Arkansas used his Bowie knife to gut her. He’d finished her off with a stake to the heart as he’d spat in her face.

Happily, he’d been in time to join the Viking’s child in “battling” Sophie-Anne. The Queen of Louisiana relented quickly, like the coward she was.

Peter Threadgill, King of Arkansas-

Jade Flower

Pam_UN

Sophie-Anne_UN


ISABEL POV

“For our maker!” Isabel and Miguelito yelled as one—as they plowed a stake into Felipe de Castro’s chest.

Eric had kept his promise to let them see to the be-caped king who had orchestrated their maker’s death. Felipe was older and stronger than either Isabel or Miguelito. But they worked together well—beautifully in sync with one another.

Before their victory, Miguelito had suffered a deep gash to his side from Felipe’s sword, but he was already healing. Isabel had not been wounded, so—after making sure her brother was well enough to go on—she turned her attention to one of the many vampire soldiers that was fighting for Russell’s side.

isabel

Miguel

Felipe_UN


ROMAN POV

Roman had become frustrated as minion after minion engaged him, obviously hoping to kill him and gain Russell’s favor.

Still, fighting such younger vampires was a relatively easy chore, so he was able to survey the battle.

The Viking and his mate were still engaged with Edgington in the center of the dance floor. Roman just hoped that the Norseman knew what he was doing, for it seemed as if Russell was merely toying with his prey.

The Guardian had seen two of his Councilors fall in battle. Rosalyn had not been up to the task of taking on the Georgia Queen, Lilah, despite the fact that Queen Lena had moved in to try to help her. Sadly, it had been too late, but Lena had quickly avenged her compatriot, and Georgia was now without monarch.

Isaiah, too, had met his final death. In fact, other than Alexei, he’d been the first one killed by Roman’s reckoning. King Barlett Crowe of Indiana had worked with King Sampson of Arizona to ensure that happened.

However, most of the Councilors had held their own. Peter succeeded in killing Jade Flower relatively quickly. Kibwe had taken out King Johnathan of Alabama—after a fierce battle—and though Kibwe had been hurt, he’d been dragged from the fray by one of the Werebears.

King Edwin and Queen Agnes had killed Barlett Crowe and King Sampson soon after the maker and child had killed Isaiah. Edwin and Agnes had certainly been helped by the fact that both of their enemies suffered the pain of losing a blood connection almost simultaneously as Felipe and Jade met their ends.

Dieter, like Roman, seemed stuck taking on one peon after another.

Roman sighed as he took out another of Russell’s people. The room had quickly flooded with the followers of kings and queens as soon as the melee had started, though most of the Were fighting seemed to be occurring in the corridors outside.

The Guardian did have something to smile about, however, when he saw Mirabel fighting nearby. Finally, she had shown her true stripes and was taking on one of the Authority guards, who was trying to aid Roman. She managed to deal a death blow to the guard just as Roman made his way through one of de Castro’s minions.

Mirabel spun around to face him, even as he swung his own sword. Her head was lopped off and landed on the floor with a satisfying plop.

Roman grinned as he turned to engage another foe. He couldn’t help but to wonder at the light show being put on by the fairies and the demons at the other end of the large room. Illuminated by a blast, he saw Nan Flanagan and licked his lips. He very much wanted to get to her. He called his child to his side, and Jacob appeared quickly.

“Help me get through this mess so that we can get to that mess,” Roman instructed, gesturing to the sea of nameless vampires that stood between him and his goal before pointing out Nan.

Jacob smiled and the two began to cut their way through enemies toward Nan.

Roman_UN

The Authority

Lilah

Bartlett_UN

sampson_UN

Johnathan

Mirabel

nan (2)

jacob_Seph


ALCIDE POV

As soon as Alcide had been given the potion to cover up his scent by Sookie, Henry and Tray had given him a larger role in the operation. He was heading the portion of Henry’s pack which aimed to take out Russell’s original pack.

Using the intelligence that Sookie had gathered, Alcide’s group was able to ambush their targets. Of course, as expected, Russell’s Weres were hyped up from fresh infusions of V. However, to help to counteract that, Eric had assigned two vampires, Chow and Rasul, to Alcide’s command. From what Alcide had picked up, both had been feigning loyalty to Russell, so neither wished to be part of the main fight in the ballroom—mostly for their own safety.

After all, friendly “fire” could be a bitch in battle—even if they were wearing the pins that everyone else on their side had on. Still, very few had known that Rasul had been Eric’s spy, and—in the heat of battle—someone might strike him before noticing the small pin. And Chow was a bit of a putz, so some random vampire might decide to take him out “just because.” However, both were helpful additions against the V-pack.

Alcide knew that his part of the battle was winding down even as he tore into the throat of the strongest wolf that was left in the corridor that he was fighting in. He let out a howl.

Alcide

Rasul_UN


LEONIE POV

Pythia had not told Leonie why she wouldn’t be able to help Sookie by zapping Russell while he was busy fighting Eric. She’d said only that it would be impossible. Still, Leonie had tried once, but hadn’t succeeded in hitting the mark.

However, there was an impressive black mark on the wall at the far end of the room.

Indeed, Leonie had soon become way too busy to keep an eye upon Sookie as Russell’s army was joined by unexpected allies—a family of Dae who had been exiled to the human realm following an attempt on the life of Dae King’s son by the family’s patriarch. These demons, the Christopoulos clan, had settled in Europe and had worked for several of the vampire kings and queens there; however, instead of taking on law professions as many demons did, they were freelance assassins.

Apparently, Russell had paid for their allegiance.

Similar to fairies, many demons were telepaths, though—like fairies—they used the gift for communication rather than infiltration. Also similar to fairies was the fact that many demons could produce a “light” weapon from their hands—though theirs was based in fire. The fairies in the room—including Niall, whose presence greatly surprised her—soon joined with Desmond Cataliades in order to take on the demons in order to prevent them from lighting the “friendly” vampires on fire.

“We have not battled together for three centuries, my wife,” Niall said from next to Leonie.

It was at times like these when Leonie was reminded of how much she respected her husband.

“It is a welcome occurrence,” she said with a grin and a leer. In that moment, she might have even considered fucking him for old time’s sake—if her romantic attentions were not firmly focused upon Brady. Perhaps, the Were might consider a three-way?

Claude was proving himself strong and brave, and he’d already taken out one of the demons of the group—though the youngest of them. Leonie could sense the pride from her husband, and she felt pride of her grandson too. He reminded her of Dermot in many ways: he always undersold himself—but when push came to shove, he was a formidable battler.

Leonie finally understood why Pythia had insisted that she get Claude’s help that night. Only fairies would have been able to match up against the demons. And Russell had secured all ten remaining members of the Christopoulos clan. Their patriarch, Anatoli, was especially powerful.

And she and her comrades were still outnumbered: Nine to four.

Fire clashed with light, sending sparks toward the high ceiling as one of Leonie’s balls of energy hit one of Anatoli’s. She charged at him, sword raised, ready to defeat her enemy.

Leonie_UN

Niall_UN

Claude_Seph

Desmond Cataliades_UN

Anatoli


JASPER POV

Though every muscle in his body was taunt and he longed for battle, Jasper Fant had one purpose only: to protect his wife and Amelia during the melee. Thus, he squelched his urge to join Desmond and the fairies in their fight against the Christopoulos clan.

He had positioned the witches in the northwest corner of the ballroom. Their goal? To produce a spell designed to bolster the strength of Sookie and Eric’s bonds—so that they could act even more as one.

Octavia had welcomed it, for she held a soft spot for both the Viking and the young fairy hybrid. Still, she’d found her assignment to be delightfully ironic. Once upon a time, Eric had hated the Fae bond, and now he was doing everything possible to strengthen it.

The trick was that the spell needed to be performed at just the “right” moment. Russell needed to become “used to” the strength of the bonded pair. The added oomph of the booster spell would then—hopefully—surprise him.

Jasper Fant

Octavia_UN

Amelia_UN


TWENTY NIGHTS EARLIER

“Will I get addicted to you?” Sookie asked dreamily.

Eric had just pleasured her in ways that she’d never imagined. And she’d lost count of her orgasms when he’d caused her to lose the ability to count.

He chuckled. “That’s the plan, min älskade.”

“Mmm. Good plan,” she returned, pressing herself upward just enough so that she could see her mate’s face and the smile on his lips.

“Seriously though,” she said. “Will I get addicted to your blood?”

She still tasted the sweet aftertaste of it on her tongue.

“Not in the same way as a V addict, but I would say that you already are addicted to it,” Eric responded, his tone contemplative. “Of course, I am addicted to your blood too. And I am compelled to exchange with you often.”

“I want that too,” Sookie whispered. “Every time we do, I think the bonds get stronger.”

“Yes,” he agreed, “and they seem to becoming more one than two now—though I can still tell which is which.” He chuckled. “I’m not sure that makes any sense.”

“No. I get it. I feel that too,” she agreed.

“So—tell me what you did today,” the vampire requested.

“Woke up late,” Sookie giggled. “Someone wore me out last night—between the training and the sex.”

Eric chuckled. “You must have eaten. Your stomach makes different noises when you haven’t.”

“It must be gross to hear all the parts of my digestion process,” Sookie commented with a blush.

“Not gross,” Eric returned. “Just a part of you. So did you do anything else other than eat?”

“I read The Art of War again,” she stated.

She’d read it many times during the last several days.

Having memorized the text long ago, Eric recited a quote from it: “The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

“Do you think Russell is going to provide us with the opportunity to defeat him? I mean—he must know The Art of War too.”

The vampire contemplated for a moment. “Russell will be preparing for a different battle than the one he will get. Assuredly, there will be times when our forces will have to,” he paused, “improvise. That occurs in all battles, and I’m sure that Russell will leave nothing to chance and will make sure all of his allies are with him. But we will still have the better preparations. We can only hope that Sun Tzu was right about the general with the most preparations defeating his enemy. As for Russell giving us an opportunity to defeat him? I think he will underestimate us—what we are together—and that will be the moment we will win.”

Eric_UN

Sookie_UN


A/N: Okay—so this is a very frenzied chapter! So here’s a sum-up. I wanted to try to create the effect that there are tons of “little” battles being fought simultaneously. Because of Roman’s narration, we find out how the Authority members have fared during the battle—with Peter, Lena, Agnes, Edwin, Kibwe, and Dieter surviving so far, while Rosalyn and Isaiah have been killed already. We also see what Alcide is up to—leading Henry’s Were force against the V-Weres (remember in the last chapter, we learned that Mustapha was leading a force of Were-Bears against the fake bomb squad). The fairies/demons on “our” side are now having to deal with some mercenary demons brought in to fight for Russell. And our witches are holed up in a corner. Meanwhile, imagine Eric, Sookie, and Russell still fighting in the middle of the “dance.”

Of course, it’s not surprising the Talbot got the heck out of Dodge with Hadley in tow.

And then there’s Maggie. I wanted to take her death away from the fighting in order to give her a peaceful end. I felt strongly that she deserved this, and I liked the idea of the A.P. both offering to turn her and also letting her know that she’d be “fine” either way. It’s not surprising that Maggie chose to move on to be with her deceased mate. Anyway, I liked the idea of these two strong women having this moment, since—in many ways—this story is about the strength of women.

Okay—I hoped that helped so solidify what had gone on in this chapter.

 

Kat


RIP

Maggie

Rosalyn_WYD_Seph

Isaiah_UN


rip2

Felipe_UN

Bartlett_UN

sampson_UN

Jade Flower

Lilah

Johnathan

Mirabel

Cast_UN2


 

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30 thoughts on “Chapter 34: Losses & Gains, Part 1

  1. This is SO good! I enjoyed the differing scenes and POV’s! It must be so hard keeping track of all of this… Maggie being given a choice was a lovely sendoff to a very strong character. I had to laugh at Leonie’s thoughts, ever the fairy even in battle. Great chapter & terrific job by the entire team!

    1. I kept a spreadsheet–quite literally–so that I didn’t accidentally kill someone twice. LOL. The first draft was actually pretty funny w/ inconsistencies. For instance, I had two Trays. He was both Henry’s lieutenant and Thalia’s Were Alpha. It wasn’t until the second draft that I was–oops. And in the first draft, I killed one character twice because it had been a few weeks between drafting, and I’d forgotten about the first time. So–yeah–after that, I did a spreadsheet.

      1. WOW! You would have to! Of course, that sets you apart from CH who had two continuity people (never mind a spreadsheet!) and they couldn’t keep track of which characters were killed – twice! LOL! That’s a great idea though when you’re writing something of this magnitude… You could have killed Bill a couple of times of though and none of us would have minded a bit! 🙂

  2. That is a lot of action captured in one chapter, thank you. Having the banners sprinkled throughout was helpful for tracking. I’m so nervous about what happens to everyone so I hope that you please post soon! This story has a lot of heart.

  3. Loved the different snippets of the battle. Yes, as sad as I am that Maggie died it was a very peaceful one at the end. Looking forward to seeing the effect of Octavia’s spell on the fight with Russell and finding out about the others.

  4. Wow.. You did the small battle idea very well!! I felt we were jumping from one to another, but in a way that makes sense. So sad for Maggie, but I understood it. I can’t wait to see who will be the child of the AP!

  5. I really liked what you did here with the banners inside the chapter…that was VERY helpful!! i was able to put the battle to stage quite easily. Excellent work by everyone *claps*

  6. I really like how you had the pictures within the story it helped with the reading of the battle scene and my memory of the character. I like how you gave Maggie a separate scene and she chose to join her mate. I’m curious to see how the bond comes into play.

  7. OMG!
    Excellent battle scene,loved all the scenarios!
    But I must ask you something : at the end of the scene between Pythia and Maggie ,Pythia was waiting for the one whowould really become her childe.Are you telling us that Pythia is going to turn Sookie?
    Jackie69

  8. I wonder who else the AP is waiting for to become her child?
    It’s all a bit chaotic at the moment but exciting.
    I wonder if Alcide will find himself up against Debbie…and what he’ll do?

  9. Loved this! I’m very sad about Maggie, but thought her end was great. I’m dying to find out who the AP’s new child is going to be. My first thought was Brady, but not sure how that would work with him and Leonie…

  10. I am utterly in awe of you right now–this chapter is amazing and must have been hard to keep track of! (I saw the comment about the spreadsheet!)

    Maggie and Pythia was a very touching scene to open with, and I think it’s sweet that she chose to go to her husband in the afterlife. I’m very intrigued about who the one meant to be her child could be–part of me is thinking Sookie but I know you still have twists up your sleeve, so it’ll be interesting to see!

    I like the way this chapter was set up to show all of the little battles going on in the middle of the “dance”, and I really liked the sweet flashback and the idea of the spell to bolster their strength. Still dreading that Sookie is going to have to die for Eric, but holding onto the hope that things will turn out alright. I’m interested to see how their plan works and so beyond ready to see Russell die!

  11. I’m not to sure but I don’t Sookie is the AP’s next child. When she said she had to die in order for Eric to win. She ready did so in a way when Hallow died as Sookie when she took the potion.

    GREAT job with all the fight sequences. It was hard to see Maggie go.

  12. Brilliant battle scene. I love the way you gave Maggie a peaceful death. She did deserve it and her having chosen not to be turned makes me wonder who her new child will be……Sookie?

  13. A sad fact of stories like this is that ‘good’ characters have to die in order to keep a ‘real’ feel to it. So I knew we would lose some people we didnt’ want to but you did Maggie justice and wrote her out a dignified ending. I’m sad she’s gone but it was done gently. As for the rest – wonderfully written, it was enjoyable to read despite the tension. Spreadsheet or not I still can’t get my head around how you keep track lol. I don’t think I’ve come across a story with so many different threads/plots that execute so effortlessy (well to the reader anyway).

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