(a Time after Time side-story)
Summary: A Time after Time side-story, this piece explores Karin’s background, her involvement in Appius’s death, and her encounter with Sookie and Eric two years later. It should be read after Time after Time and serves as a kind of epilogue.
A/N: The following Karin POV contains a lot of her memories. However, it begins not long before Appius is killed in the Time after Time narrative.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No profit has been made from this work. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. The events in this story have been inspired by True Blood and the Southern Vampire Mysteries book series.
“Independence is a heady draught, and if you drink it in your youth, it can have the same effect on the brain as young wine does. It does not matter that its taste is not always appealing. It is addictive and with each drink you want more.”
Part 1: Origins
My maker had taught me stealth.
He had taught me patience.
But it was from watching Appius Livius Ocella hurt him in Rome that I’d learned how to hate.
Hate was such an interesting emotion; actually, it was a living creature. It grew and festered—when it had good reason to.
He was a good reason to hate—not that I’d ever hate him.
But I did hate any who would harm him.
“Others of my kind have killed your family. And you will soon die as well.”
Those had been the first words Eric had ever spoken to me, even as his fangs had glinted in the moonlight.
But they’d been pearl white.
By that point, I’d seen the points of several pairs of blood-stained fangs.
Fangs that had tortured my family for days.
Fangs that had been elongated as the creatures who “owned them” had somehow controlled our minds so that we couldn’t seek out help during the day.
Every night for a week, I’d heard the sounds of flesh tearing—often my own.
But that night, I’d stopped hearing the agonized screams of the others in my family for long enough to know that I was the only one left alive.
I gurgled out a curse at the monster looking at me. Given my injuries, it was surprising that I could even do that.
“Hate me if you like, but take comfort in the fact that I’ve killed all but one of the vampires who killed your folk.”
“Thank you,” I choked out.
“I didn’t do it for you,” he said breezily. “They were wreaking havoc in this region, and I was hired to kill them. Still—I am glad that they are dead. And I will hunt the last of them.”
I gurgled a little more—this time in agreement and thanks. And then I cursed the clean-fanged creature again.
“Monster,” I managed. “Fuck you.”
“I sense that you feel I didn’t fulfill my job soon enough—given the situation with your family. However, I was hired only tonight—if that changes your perception of me. I hope that it does.”
There was something in his eyes.
Something benevolent—even as it was violent.
Something asking for acceptance.
He was offering me a choice.
“Would you like to help me catch the last of them?” he asked.
I somehow knew that what he was really asking me was if I wanted to be like him.
“Don’t want to be like them,” I coughed, thinking of the monsters who had tortured my family for nothing other than their pleasure.
“Then don’t be. I’m not,” he said with certainty. “I kill their kind. Be like that—if you want.”
I considered for a moment, even as I felt my body grow colder.
“You must decide quickly,” he whispered.
I nodded my head as much as I could—which wasn’t much.
He didn’t hesitate before biting me.
It hadn’t hurt. Truth be told, I was already practically drained by then.
My last thought as a “living” creature was that there was a bloody wrist being pushed against my lips.
Obviously, I’d drunk.
I’d awoken as a vampire for the first time in a cave.
My first moments of “living death” were not that unique—given the time in which I was “made.”
It was winter.
The first conscious thought I had was that I should have been cold. But I wasn’t cold.
I felt my own flesh. It was frigid. It felt dead.
I was not cold.
I could see and I could feel.
In fact, I could smell the snow more strongly than ever before, as if every flake had its own scent.
“Do you know the word ‘vampire?'” my maker asked. His voice was like a touchstone, and I opened my eyes to look upon him.
I shook my head. “No, but you said the word before.”
“You’ll learn what it means soon enough,” he smiled. “Do you believe in mercy?” he asked.
“Yes,” I responded.
“And you want to be nothing like those who harmed you and killed your family?”
“No!” I yelled out angrily. “Nothing!”
How could he even ask!
He nodded and seemed pleased. “Some vampires change as soon as they rise. They forget their humanity.”
“I won’t ever forget! Or forgive! But I don’t want to be like them!” I called out. The sound echoed uncomfortably in my own ears.
“Good. Then I command you to kill no humans unless they threaten your life.”
I felt a ripple throughout my body—as if I was being transformed.
“I am Eric, your maker,” he said. “And you and I are going to have a good life together.”
“You said we would hunt the one that got away,” I panted.
“We will,” he said, looking contented. “But there will be time for that. For now, I have a question for you.”
“What?” I demanded.
“Are you thirsty?”
I growled so loudly that the sound reverberated in my body, shaking me.
Yes—I was thirsty.
Suddenly so thirsty that I wanted to kill for a drink.
But I knew I couldn’t because of the command that had already been issued to me.
My maker told me to stay where I was, and within minutes, he brought three people into the cave.
All of them seemingly mindless.
“They have been glamoured so that they won’t remember those,” he smirked, motioning toward my mouth.
And that was when I felt them: fangs.
“Let me show you how to feed so that you don’t kill,” Eric said.
And he did show me.
And then he taught me other things.
And—eventually—he helped me as I hunted down the one who had gotten away.
All my life, I’d been restless—even before I’d “died.”
My human mother had told me that I ought to have been born a boy. But I wasn’t so lucky.
I was born female—weak by tradition and biology according to the people group I was born into.
My life path had been determined from the day of my birth. I grew up helping my mother tend to the household and the little garden of cabbages, onions, potatoes, and carrots which fed our family. My father and brothers worked the fields of richer men in order for us to be able to stay in the home that the hands of my forebears had built from wood which they’d cut down—on the land where they’d toiled long before a so-called “lord” had arrived.
When I’d come of age and proven to be “pretty” to the eyes of those around me, I’d done all that I could to keep myself “homely,” but—eventually—men had found me. I’d had my first child when I was thirteen.
A boy. The son of the son of the lord of the manor.
A second child by that man had been stillborn.
A third child by a stranger who had attacked me in the dark one stormy afternoon was born the summer of my seventeenth year.
She’d been a pretty daughter.
My first thought was that she would be better off dead, but I cared for her with diligence nonetheless. It’s just what one did.
The good news was that my family didn’t shun me or judge me—despite my unwed status or children. They’d known that I had no choice in the matter.
And—eventually—I had no choice about marriage either. A strong man from a village close to where my family lived “selected” me. Nils was his name. He came to live with our family—since his own home had burned along with his first wife.
Nils was a hard man, but—ultimately—a decent one. He joined my father and brother in the “family work.” His contributions were welcome.
And his presence offered me some protection.
Still, I’d always felt the impulse to get away from the life I’d been born into. So, I suppose, that it wasn’t a surprise that I’d wanted to “get away” from the second life I was given.
Oh—Eric was a good maker. He even indulged my wanderlust. For a long time, we explored together, but that exploration didn’t prevent me from wanting to be on my own. The desire for separation and complete independence was ingrained within me.
A part of my bones that couldn’t be fought.
Eric had withheld my freedom from me for a long time, and eventually, I’d resented him a little because of that.
But I’d never stopped loving him.
That love was what had made Rome and its aftermath such a fucking nightmare!
Appius Livius Ocella had come very close to destroying my maker in Rome—not just his body, but his soul too.
And it had killed me to watch—and feel—Eric pushing me away after that.
I’d hated him for it.
At the time.
But now I loved him a little more for it.
When Eric had set me free, it was the most unselfish thing that had ever been done for me, for—despite needing me desperately—he’d released me.
I hadn’t understood my maker’s pain then. And I knew that I never would—not really.
Unlike me, Eric wasn’t truly independent in spirit, though he certainly couldn’t be classified as dependent either. Indeed, from what I knew of his human life, his existence had been based upon codependence—though not the “negative kind” humans now discussed.
No—Eric’s kind of codependence was more like symbiosis.
Despite growing up in a home that required symbiosis for survival, I’d neither felt nor wanted to coexist. The “co” part was just too goddamned tricky.
It couldn’t be counted upon. It wasn’t worth the risk. My own mother had taught me that.
Well—he wasn’t afraid of the same demons I was.
He was a social being. He’d grown up in a large community where the people truly “communed” in longhouses. They’d huddled together through harsh winters. They’d toiled together when crops failed. They’d fought together when other people groups had tried to conquer them.
And Eric had been a leader among them. And that was the difference between us. Eric had been in the position to lead his people. But me? I had been in a position only to stay silent—to take the punches life threw at me.
I hadn’t been able to punch back—until Eric made me a vampire.
Perhaps, my maker’s greatest mistake with choosing me had been not noticing just how much I would quickly want to be on my own.
He’d wanted a companion. I’d wanted freedom.
Still, it wasn’t until after Rome that our differing philosophies had torn us apart forever.
And we were torn apart.
Oh—I continued to love my maker, but I knew that we would never spend long periods of time together again. We needed different things.
I think that he understood that now.
And—honestly—I loved him too much to ever see him hurt so much again. And as long as Appius was in the world, my maker’s pain would remain a possibility.
And that was why I’d jumped at the chance to eliminate that possibility.
I’d known about Marion. Most vampires older than a hundred had heard her name. But I hadn’t known her as my maker had.
I’d seen her once, but—not being the social sort—I’d not approached her.
Thus, I’d been surprised when I’d received her call.
But I’d immediately booked my flight to New York after getting it.
My vampire gift had been twofold. I could fly like my maker—much to Pam’s chagrin. And my sense of smell was more pronounced than any creature I’d ever known—including my maker.
That’s what made me such an effective hunter.
But even a “normal” vampire could pick up almost every scent within a hundred feet of him or her.
Unless magic was involved.
And that was why a potion had arrived for me and Marion the night before.
I’d had a feeling that it was somehow from the Ancient Pythoness, so I asked.
After all, I’d never been one to allow a mystery to go unsolved.
“This is from Pythia, isn’t it?” I demanded, holding up the potion.
Marion chuckled and shook her head. She was so much older than I—and revered. But I figured she’d enjoy a little challenge.
“You know the Ancient Pythoness well enough to call her Pythia?” she asked.
“I don’t know her at all,” I said. “I just don’t like having to use such a long fucking name. It lacks economy. And you didn’t deny this is from her,” I said, holding up the potion again.
“No,” Marion smirked. “I did not.”
“Why has she shown an interest in my maker?” I asked.
“How do you know she has?”
“She met with him at Rhodes.”
“How do you know that?” Marion asked, obviously amused.
“I just know. Tell me why,” I said. I’d faced down enough elder vampires to know that directness often did the trick when it came to getting answers. Of course, directness could also get a younger vampire killed.
So I’d used it sparingly.
“Your maker is in love, and that is all I know,” Marion said.
“If he’s in love, then Appius will do whatever it takes to kill the woman he desires!” I said immediately.
“Yes. And that is why we are going to kill Appius now,” Marion said. “Not that I wasn’t just waiting for a good chance anyway.”
“Why would Pythia care?” I asked.
Marion’s eyes took on a faraway look as if she were studying the past. “It is always a mystery whom she likes—whom she supports. Most of the time, she keeps out of the business of others. But a year ago, she called me and told me to begin preparing to kill Appius. She told me to seek out your aid in order to ensure that Alexei would be eliminated at the same time. Maybe she was just tired of the havoc they were wreaking. Maybe she just appreciates,” she paused, “love.”
“So—my maker loves,” I commented.
“Like I said, that’s all I know,” Marion commented. “And I’m only telling you that much because I know that—despite the distance between you and Eric—you are loyal to him.”
I bowed in agreement. “Yes.”
It took me only moments to remember all of the things my maker had done for me—all of the things that he’d taught me. His greatest gift—his last one—had been sacrifice.
And I didn’t want him to have to sacrifice any more.
I closed my eyes for a moment. Eric—in love. Yes—that was a good thing. It was what he’d likely been looking for all of his life—as both a human and a vampire.
“Symbiosis,” I whispered.
“Do you have any questions about your task tonight?” Marion asked, changing the subject.
“No,” I whispered. “None at all.”
I knew how to stalk prey. It was what I’d become best at—thanks to my maker.
My first “goal” as a vampire, after all, had been to hunt down the last vampire who had decimated the husband and children I’d never wanted—the mother and father and brother who had never imagined that life could be bigger than the existence they’d been dealt.
I’d lived on, while they had died, and I’d made sure that any guilt I’d felt was taken out on the vampire that had “gotten away.” I’d taken my time. I’d learned from my maker how to draw out my foe’s suffering.
And—in so doing—I’d found my calling.
I was an executioner. And I trusted my own judgment to be the jury and the judge too. That was probably why I’d always felt the need to be “apart” from others. One simply couldn’t remain unbiased if one was attached.
After Eric had released me, I became a hired “enforcer.” My job was to “enforce” the rules of the vampire monarch I worked for. And I was good at my job—at least when it came to the rules I concurred with.
Like I said: I was comfortable with being judge, jury, and executioner.
And during my long life, I’d killed only one being with malice.
That last vampire “loose end.”
His name was Liam. But by the time I was done with him, he’d not remembered it.
Eric had supported my brutality, but had also encouraged me not to show it when there wasn’t a good reason.
But now I had a really good fucking reason!
And I was ready to kill a couple more vampires with extreme prejudice.
Appius and Alexei.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this first piece to the Karin “puzzle.” There will be one more part in this short “side-story.” Please comment if you have time. 🙂
Thanks a lot to kleannhouse and Sephrenia!
Click the “cast” button below to see the new cast page for The Time Stories, which is what I’m calling Time after Time and this little “side-story/epilogue.”