THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2005
APPROXIMATELY SIX MONTHS LATER
It had been 564 nights since I’d seen Sookie. To say that I’d had to force myself to stay away from her—especially after the Dawn fiasco—would have been an understatement.
But I had forced myself.
The “list” of future items included so many threats to Sookie—many of them occurring because she’d been “mine.”
Because of that, I’d decided—even before I’d died for the day following our second encounter—that I would do everything in my power to make sure that Sookie was not harmed this time around. And I’d vowed to deal with all of the items that she’d told me about before I even contemplated seeing her again.
Of course, for more than a year, I had tried to convince myself that I was focusing on the list for self-preservation.
Not for Sookie.
I chuckled ruefully as I thought of a quote by one of my favorite authors from the last couple of centuries: Rudyard Kipling. He’d once said, “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”
My fear of feelings.
My fear of failing Sookie.
Yes—these fears had been at the root of my self-told lies. However, acknowledging the truth that I did care about Sookie—despite our short acquaintance (at least, on my end)—did nothing to change my actions.
And I had acted—a lot—based upon Sookie’s words to me.
I dealt with the Longshadow situation quickly and decisively, but without stirring up the ire of Hot Rain. I created a situation during which I personally caught Longshadow in the act of stealing. And, because of that, I’d been able to dismiss him from my area with no problems. Vampire law allowed me to seize all of Longshadow’s property in Area 5, so I’d done just that. I was also within my rights to punish the thief with silver before I banished him, but—instead—I’d contacted Hot Rain and turned over the corporeal punishment of the child to his maker. Hot Rain had been grateful for my forbearance and had promised to command his child to never enter the state of Louisiana again.
Longshadow never saw or knew about Sookie. He was let off with a “slap” on the wrist—relatively speaking—though I’d heard that Hot Rain kept him in silver for a month. Having doled out the punishment himself, Hot Rain had no reason to want revenge. In fact, he owed me a favor.
The next issue I’d dealt with had been the Maenad. I had made sure that she’d been given ample tribute on the very day that she’d stepped foot into my area. In fact, I gave a large enough offering to count for all other bars in Area 5, too.
On my knees in respect, I’d asked Callisto—personally—to move on from my area immediately, suggesting Las Vegas as the site of true debauchery in the United States. Callisto hadn’t even asked me why I didn’t want her to be in Area 5. She’d simply remarked that I “had the future in my eyes” before leaving immediately.
I’d had a good laugh when I heard that she was wreaking havoc in Las Vegas a month later.
I couldn’t help but to hope that what happened there—her—would stay there.
Next up, I’d managed to help Stan—though anonymously. Godfrey was dealt with “internally” before he could kidnap Farrell. However, I did hear that the ancient vampire still met the sun; he’d just not had the opportunity to take anyone with him.
As far as Queen Sophie-Anne went—I offered evidence that ensured that she would escape most of the downfalls outlined by Sookie. For example, I passed along damaging information concerning Peter Threadgill before Sophie-Anne sought a marriage alliance with him.
In fact, I became an expert at offering “insider” information without seeming like the one with any of the knowledge.
Ironically enough, it was learning that Karin had been willing to help me in Sookie’s “other time,” which encouraged me to contact her—to ask her for help in “this time.” True to form, Karin was intrigued by the variety of tasks I wanted her to complete. My first child had always been restless—much more prone to boredom than even I was—but she was also creative and relentless. Just what I needed to deal with the de Castro and Madden situation.
Looking back, I knew that I wasn’t really ready to be a maker when I turned Karin. I had used her to give myself a purpose after Appius let me seek my own life. But—unlike with Pam—I didn’t yet know how to give back any of myself when I made her.
Even from the first, I had been able to tell that Karin wasn’t fully content with me—though I treated her well and taught her all that I knew.
She wanted me sexually for only a little while, and I certainly never forced her. Unlike Pam, she certainly preferred men, but she liked taking her meals during sex—not that I blamed her. And she was thirsty for variety in her meals and lovers—not that I blamed her for that either.
Knowing of Karin’s restless desire for independence, I should have released her as soon as I knew she could exist on her own. But I did not. I just wasn’t strong enough to let her go at the time. I was selfish for her company.
It was during our final decades together that Karin began to feel mild resentment toward me. She would often ask to be allowed to go off on her own, and I did let her leave my side for a few months at a time. It was never enough for her, but she indulged me out of love and loyalty.
In the end, it was an encounter with Appius that ruined our relationship for a very long time.
By then, Karin and I had crossed paths with Appius a few times. Appius had been all “charm” during those interactions. He’d seemed curious about our lives. Each time, I’d offered myself to him sexually. I could tell that he wanted it, and part of me had even missed my maker. And I certainly knew better than to disappoint him. The sex had been private—affectionate even.
Moreover, Appius had been particularly kind to Karin. By then, my maker had been looking for his own child to turn for a while, but he was patient. Not just anyone would do for Appius Livius Ocella, after all! I’d been worthy only because I was a Nordic prince and a good warrior and sexually attractive to Appius. He’d watched me for a long time in order to confirm my worthiness before he’d taken me.
In hindsight, I should have anticipated that Appius’s geniality wouldn’t last forever.
Karin and I had been in France when I’d felt Appius’s “call.” I’d not felt it for a long time, and I worried that my maker was in danger. Hell—feeling Appius at all was quite unusual for me. He had a gift which allowed him to shut down any emotion-sharing in our bond.
Of course, I answered my maker’s call as quickly as possible with Karin in tow.
We found Appius in the court of the King of Rome. Appius was inconsolable, for he’d finally found his “new” child, but the young man hadn’t survived the transformation process.
Appius could be particularly cruel when he felt weak or when he failed in some way. He had the need to reassert himself—to show his dominance in a very public and physical way. And I was—quite literally—his chosen “whipping boy” when his attempt to make a new child failed.
In his mind—that failure was somehow my fault.
As soon as I saw my maker, I knew I was in trouble. And I also knew that there was nothing I could do about it.
Appius commanded me to my knees in front of the many other vampires in the Roman king’s court. He loudly proclaimed that no child had ever disappointed a maker more than I had disappointed him—that no child deserved punishment more than I. The Roman king, an old friend of Appius’s, found the situation hilarious and encouraged my maker’s baser inclinations.
The most difficult part for me was that Appius compelled me to command Karin to watch all of my “punishment”—to learn from it.
To learn what a “pathetic creature” her maker was so that she would not follow in my footsteps.
Seeing me powerless before my maker—weak before him—made Karin doubt me. Seeing me forced to submit sexually to him—and to everyone else in the court who wanted a turn with me—made her pity me. Seeing me commanded to accept any and all debasements—without putting up a fight—made her lose much of her respect for me.
Seeing me cut and silvered and raped—and then forced to beg for more—made her lose the rest.
Appius kept me as his whipping boy for 83 nights.
At the end of them, he castrated me and sent me on my way.
I closed my eyes and tried not to remember my condition when Karin and I had finally been allowed to leave Rome. I tried not to remember that Karin had needed to carry me from the city and to dig the hole we rested in the first day we were away from Appius. I tried not to remember that I’d been too weak to seek my own meal. I tried not to remember the judgment in Karin’s eyes when I’d drained the human she’d brought to me for sustenance even when she’d tried to pull me off of him and promised me more.
I’d always taught her to value the lives of innocents. I’d always taught her the need for self-control.
But—after the worst 83 nights I’d ever spent with my maker (even worse than my first years with him)—I had forgotten all lessons.
I had forgotten all mercy.
Before Rome, Karin had felt my maker’s command only when it was for her own good; I’d never given her a cruel command as Appius had done to me when I was a young vampire. But—in my shame and to my shame—I did after we left Rome.
Once I was physically healed—which took more than a year—Karin asked to be let go again, but instead of giving her even a month of freedom from me, I commanded her to stay by my side forever. When she resisted the command, I made her bow before me. When she resisted again, I imposed my will upon her until she was in agony.
And I watched her love for me turn into hate.
I suppose I wanted her affection for me to die—I supposed that I needed for it to disappear. After Rome, I felt despicable, and I wanted to be despised.
Plus, seeing and feeling Karin’s hate was better than seeing and feeling her disappointment in me. Her pity.
Indeed, before Rome, I had thought myself “healed” from my maker’s cruel “upbringing.” What Karin didn’t understand was that the scene in the Roman court wasn’t so different from things Appius had done to me when I was a fledgling and required “punishment”—though he’d never done it on such a large scale.
In fact, after my first fifty years or so with Appius, he began to treat me with reluctant respect. He taught me many valuable lessons. Eventually, he gave me choices about whom I would feed from and fuck. Our relationship shifted to a kind of partnership. I learned to create situations that would prevent him from becoming bored or disappointed. I even learned to “enjoy” his sexual attentions.
In other words, I evolved into Appius’s ideal child. And, when I did—ironically enough—my maker no longer wanted me around.
Appius sent me away from his side—desiring to put his energy into something more stimulating: finding a new child.
By the time I’d left my maker, I’d been “programmed.” I didn’t hate him. I didn’t resent him. In fact, it took me a while to figure out how to thrive without him. That’s why I’d needed Karin.
I needed someone to live for—having forgotten how to live for myself.
After Rome, I came to understand that my maker could—and would—do anything he wanted to me. Anytime he wanted to do it!
That is also when I recognized that Appius would never truly free me. For a while, my bitterness ate at me, and I was keen to make everyone around me suffer as well.
Thankfully, it took me only a few months to realize that I was no better than Appius when it came to my child—no less cruel.
Thus, I lifted all the commands I’d ever given Karin. I released her from all future commands. I set her free.
I told her that I would love her always and would always welcome her to my side—if she ever wanted to be there again. However, I made clear that her forgiveness was her own to give—and that I didn’t truly deserve it.
Free at last, Karin left my side without a word.
I wandered after that, exploring the Far East—going as far as Japan. I stayed away from anyone who had ever known me. I met new vampires and studied new kinds of combat.
I went on in solitude.
I didn’t see Karin for more than a century, though I kept track of her in passive ways. She quickly made a name for herself. Even in the far reaches of the earth, she became rather notorious as an enforcer and was eventually nicknamed “Karin the Slaughterer.”
Eventually our paths crossed in Istanbul. Her life experiences had helped her to understand the cruelty of some makers, so she knew that what Appius had done to me wasn’t completely unheard of—though the extremes he had gone to in order to subjugate me were rare.
Still, Karin had begun to appreciate that I’d not been overly cruel to her—at least, not for long. By the time we saw each other in Istanbul, she’d forgiven me for the brief time I’d held her to my side by force. I was grateful for that.
After that, we were “warm” with each other, and—until I came to America—I always made a point to see her every decade or so, just to find out about her life. The invention of the telegraph and then the telephone helped us to stay in touch once we were on different continents.
When I phoned her after my encounters with Sookie, Karin was using the opportunities created by the Great Revelation to see the parts of the world she’d not seen before.
I told my eldest child about Sookie Stackhouse in the vaguest of terms—careful not to mention the telepath’s name (or even that she was a telepath). I called Sookie “the psychic,” and I told Karin about the possible future the “man” had predicted.
I suppose that—in many ways—Pam was too close to the situation, so I’d been reluctant to ask her to help me with the “list.” But Karin was removed from me. She was free from me. She could hang up or listen as she willed.
But she chose to listen.
And then she chose to help.
Truthfully, Karin was the perfect person to help me to anonymously spread the knowledge given to me by Sookie. From the far ends of the earth, my child sent emails or made phone calls using untraceable technology.
Pretending to be a handmaiden of the Ancient Pythoness, Karin warned Russell Edgington that Lorena might try to start trouble in his kingdom.
Pretending to be a weather witch, Karin called Queen Sophie-Anne and told her about Hurricane Katrina a month before it happened. Sophie-Anne was so frightened by the prospect of destruction that she “battened down the hatches” and even commissioned a project to build up the levees.
After the hurricane struck, Sophie-Anne was lifted up as a beloved heroine by humans, for—without her timely work—the destruction would have been many times worse. People still died, and some parts of New Orleans were still lost. But—by all accounts—the vampire queen had saved many lives and much property.
After that, Sophie-Anne was so popular that Felipe would have been a fool to fuck with her. Hell—she even became an AVL poster girl.
But that wasn’t really good enough for me. Karin’s main task was to stir up trouble in Nevada—however she could—as long as she wasn’t implicated. Having met de Castro in the Old World, she was more than happy for the task.
Apparently—he’d been a douchebag even before they were invented.
Of course, because Sophie-Anne had not slain Peter Threadgill in this timeline, there was no great need for the Louisiana vampires to go to Rhodes—especially given the fact that we were busy in the aftermath of Katrina.
Not that Rhodes was a disaster anyway.
Pretending to be a Fellowship member with a conscience, Karin had called the manager of the Pyramid of Gizeh Hotel, warning him of the plans “her people” had for the vampire summit. Needless to say, the suitcase bombs never made it to their destinations.
Needless to say, I’d never felt closer to Karin.
Another thing to thank Sookie for.
Another reason to make sure she stayed safe.
Another reason to stay away from her.
I sighed and closed my eyes, remembering everything about the way she’d looked when she’d told me that she loved me.
I shook myself from my feelings, lest they overtake me.
Practical: I knew that I needed to remain practical if Sookie was to survive.
I needed to see to every item Sookie had told me about until the possibility of her hurt was annihilated!
I growled in contemplation.
After the Longshadow and Maenad situations had been dealt with, I kept my eyes out for Hallow and her brother. Needless to say, they didn’t live to see their first sunrise in Area 5.
In addition to the ones I already had, I planted a few more spies in the queen’s court, though it had been my old friend Rasul who’d told me about how Hadley had been “punished” by the queen for “getting her hopes up that there was a telepath in the kingdom.” Hadley had been glamoured to never speak about her family again. And—once she was turned—she was commanded not to speak of them. I figured that command also protected Sookie’s cousin, the little boy—Hunter.
However, I had Bubba watching over the boy, nonetheless.
To combat potential fairy issues—which were what I was most immediately concerned with—I’d hired a Britlingen to monitor the portal near Sookie’s home at all times. However, Clovache’s primary assignment was to watch over Sookie and Adele—without their knowing it. Sworn to secrecy, the Britlingen had been told about Sookie’s telepathy; thankfully, for just a bit more money, Clovache had agreed to shield her thoughts completely from anyone in this realm. That took more of Clovache’s energy than was “normal”; however, I’d been assured that she would be able to fulfill her duties in this realm for the next 67.3503 years (as opposed to her usual maximum—75.498 years). But I figured 67-plus years would be plenty of time.
Clovache’s standing orders? 1.) Kill any immediate threats to Adele or Sookie. 2.) Capture any threats that were not immediate and bring them to me. 3.) Inform me of any activity at the fairy portal.
I had also employed Thalia for a job that excused her from Fangtasia duty for the next five years. Her work was straightforward: to drive the fairy triplets—Claudine, Claude, and Claudette—from Louisiana without harming them. In the end, her job had been easy. For several weeks, she’d left her scent in and around the strip club where the Cranes worked, Hooligans. She’d followed them whenever they’d gone outdoors at night.
Of course, they knew how to teleport, but—because of me (and Sookie, of course)—Thalia knew their home address.
Predictably, not long after Thalia had made first “contact,” all three of the fairy triplets had been spied at the Fae portal. Clovache had watched as they’d returned to Faerie; thankfully, they hadn’t returned to the human world since then—at least not through the portal near Sookie’s home.
I knew that Sookie had liked the one called Claudine, but I was glad to have them out of Area 5 all the same.
The one thing that Sookie’s narrative had taught me above all else was that even well-meaning fairies could bring destruction with them.
And I was determined that Sookie’s “second life” would not be destroyed.
No matter what I had to do.
A/N: Hello all! I hope that Eric’s POV helped you to understand his motivations. For me, Eric’s journey in this piece is a thousand years in the making, which is why I decided to bring in his story with Appius and Karin. A lot of you have commented that Eric should just kill Appius or Alexei. To set the record straight, Eric is under a maker’s not to make any attempts on Appius’s life—including trying to arrange for someone else to kill Appius. And now you have a sense why Eric can’t just kill Alexei.
Anyway, beyond Appius, Eric has accomplished a lot. But there is more yet to do. I know that a lot of you are yelling at Eric to just tell Sookie what he’s doing, that he wants her, etc. But this won’t is as stubborn as the other one. He will refuse to go to Sookie until all the threats are gone, and he knows that Appius might be a problem he cannot solve. Given that fact, he believes it would be cruel to give her false hope.
Until the next,