Chapter 07: The Lay of the Land
Exactly thirty minutes after Nora had left, there was a knock on the door. She came into the room carrying a few bottles of TrueBlood and quickly put them into the small refrigerator in the room. A male vampire followed her in and closed the door behind them.
The male had many visible tattoos. From his neck and his arms, they disappeared under his T-shirt. Eric sensed that he was several hundred years old—probably around Nora’s age. He had extremely dark hair—the kind of black that almost looked blue—and it contrasted sharply with his pale skin. His eyes were hazel, though the black of his shirt was bringing out the darker shades of them. Indeed, he would have fit the “stereotypical” Goth image even before vampires had actually made themselves known to humans!
He nodded at Eric in greeting. “I am Tavio Santana.”
Eric nodded back. He’d heard the name before. Nora had taken Tavio as her mate about a decade before. Godric had told him about it during one of their final phone calls before he withdrew himself from communications with most others—including his vampire children.
“Here is paper and pen,” Tavio said, though he produced no such implements. “Please write down all that you require before nightfall tomorrow, and we will have the day-staff secure it for you.”
Nora motioned for Eric to answer.
“Thank you,” Eric said, going along with whatever Nora was doing.
Tavio pulled a device that looked like an iPod from his pocket and nodded in Nora’s direction.
“We can communicate without being overheard now,” Nora said.
“So there are listening devices in these quarters?” Eric asked.
“Of course,” his vampire sister said, “this is the Authority. But Tav will leave you with this device. With it, you can have privacy. However, don’t overuse it. A bit of silence is expected. Too much is suspected.”
Eric nodded in understanding.
“So—what is going on?” Nora asked. “Earlier you asked me to kill Nan. But when you arrived with her, you two looked almost,” she paused and smirked, “chummy.”
Eric sighed. “When I called you, the situation was different. I was hoping to contain my new child’s secrets, and I had reason to believe that Nan would be a problem in my desire to do that. Of course, Sookie wasn’t my child then, and I had no way of knowing that Nan had already told Roman about her by then.”
“Sookie? Sookie Stackhouse?” Nora asked.
“You know the name,” Eric observed, his eyes narrowing.
“Yes,” Tavio responded. “Roman told Nora and me about her last night. Nan thought she was an extraordinary human—probably part fairy—and clairvoyant too.”
“So you two must be on the short list of people that Roman trusts right now,” Eric observed.
“Yes. It is a list that gets shorter all the time,” Nora responded. “Roman told only Tav, me, and one other member of the Authority—Kibwe—about Nan’s theories regarding Sookie.”
“Did you know that Roman planned to recruit her? And me?” Eric asked.
“I knew he’d sent Nan back to Area 5 to approach Miss Stackhouse—to try to negotiate a contract with her. And—I believe that she planned to speak to you too. In fact, I was going to call you around the time that you called me. That was why I was able to speak to you freely. I was out of the Authority compound when your call came through. I wasn’t sure that you even knew Miss Stackhouse. Roman mentioned her as belonging to Compton.”
“She did—once,” Eric said with a little growl. “But she became mine. And now she is my child.” He paused and his voice softened. “She was the one who stayed with Godric at the end.”
Nora gasped as Tavio reached out to take her hand.
“Then she has my gratitude,” Nora said quietly.
“And mine,” Eric stated.
“I think she has your heart too, Brother,” Nora commented astutely.
Eric didn’t respond verbally to her statement, but his eyes told Nora that she was right.
“What happened to her?” Nora asked gently.
“Earlier tonight, Sookie was attacked by a Were. She was mortally wounded—to the point that vampire blood couldn’t bring her back without turning her. However, Sookie did not want to be a vampire. She was near death when Nan showed up and ordered that she be turned. To prevent her sire from being Compton or Nan, I did it—though Bill may have had enough blood in her by then to be part maker to her too.”
“That is a rare thing,” Tavio stated.
Eric nodded. “But it is not unheard of.”
Nora inhaled deeply. Her gift was sensing connections between beings.
“I smell mostly you in her. But—you are right. I smell Compton too. And I smell something else too. What is it? It smells lovely,” she said a little dreamily.
“That is just her,” Eric said with a little smile, looking down at his beloved. “But, if I had to guess, I would say that it is the Fae in her—maybe the spark. It seems to have clung to her during her transformation.”
“Do you still wish for me to kill Nan?” Nora asked.
Eric shook his head. “No. I have agreed to cooperate with her and, therefore, with Roman for the time being and to try to get Sookie to do the same. As a human, she could resist glamour, however, so she might be able to resist the maker’s call. But I agreed to try with Sookie—for one month’s time.”
“And after that?” Nora asked.
“Nan promised that Roman would let us go,” Eric responded.
“What of Sookie?”
“She may very well want to meet the sun,” Eric said in a whisper.
“And you would let her,” Nora commented.
There was a pause.
“I hope she chooses this life then—for your sake,” Nora commented.
“So do I,” Eric agreed. “So—what are we dealing with here? From what both you and Nan have indicated, Roman is facing a threat—one that is likely going to be coming to a head soon.”
“How do you know that?” Tavio asked.
“If it wasn’t imminent, Nan would have never suggested a month as the timeframe of my and Sookie’s allegiance,” he said astutely. “Obviously, she believes that the threat will be over and done with by then—one way or the other.”
Tavio smiled. “He is as you said he’d be,” he commented to his mate, “cunning.”
Nora chuckled. “Yes. He’s always been able to see five steps ahead, which makes him impossible to beat at chess.” She smirked as she looked at Eric. “You are right about things coming to a head soon.”
“What is known about Roman’s enemies?” Eric asked.
“They call themselves the Sanguinistas. They believe in a literal interpretation of the Book of Lilith,” Nora informed.
Nora smiled wryly. “I know you are not religious, Brother, but—when Roman was made Guardian—he was given a vessel of what is believed to be Lilith’s blood. All Chancellors are given a drop upon their induction to the Authority. I can tell you that there is something mystical about it—something powerful and ancient. Just a tiny amount of that blood increased my own strengths.”
“So—the Sanguinistas are religious fanatics?” Eric asked.
“Yes. They believe that mainstreamers have betrayed their own kind, and they view Roman—who spearheaded the mainstreaming movement—as their chief enemy.” Nora paused for a moment. “Roman’s consort, Salome, is the likely leader of the Sanguinistas.”
“Then why doesn’t Roman just end her?”
“He wants to use her to ferret out who the others are. He suspects that at least one more Chancellor is a Sanguinista. Moreover, we do not know how extensive the group is yet, but killing their leader may make the problem even worse.”
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” Eric commented.
“Yes,” Nora said. “It was Salome who came to me to sniff out whether or not I would be interested in joining the Sanguinistas. Of course, her words could be interpreted as innocuous, and if confronted, she would say that our conversation was her attempt to see if I was a traitor.”
“So. You and Tavio are loyal to Roman. And this Kibwe as well—I assume?”
“Yes,” Nora responded.
“What of the other Chancellors?” Eric asked. “Where do their loyalties lie?”
“We don’t know for sure,” Tavio said with a shake of his head.
“Then guess,” Eric returned. “I need to know what I’m going to be dealing with—what I will need to protect her from,” he said as he glanced down at Sookie. He was still holding her hand, though she would never know it.
“We are not sure about Dieter Braun or Rosalyn Harris,” Nora said, “but if I had to guess, I would say that they would back Roman.”
“Dieter plays things close to the vest,” Tavio supplied. “But he has been loyal to Roman in the past.”
“And Rosalyn appears to be quite loyal to Roman, but if he loses the edge, then she will defect over to the other side without a thought,” Nora added.
“And the other two?” Eric asked. “Are there not nine Chancellors?”
Nora smirked. “You have figured out that Nan is a Chancellor?”
Eric nodded. “Yes—during the Russell situation. She acted with too much authority—not to be a member of the Authority. So—Nan, you two, Salome, Kibwe, Rosalyn, Dieter. That makes seven.”
“Number eight is Margeaux Poirier,” Tavio said.
“She was turned at only fifteen and is, therefore, volatile. But she is crafty. Roman is not sure whether or not he can trust her. I would call her a coin flip,” Nora informed. “During her human life, she was fervently religious—a disciple of sorts to Joan of Arc. And—it is possible that Salome could have influenced her to transfer her passionate leanings to Lilith.”
“And number nine?” Eric asked.
“Hyun-Ae Kim,” Nora answered.
“If there is a side against Roman, she will—most certainly—be on it,” Tavio said. “We are almost positive that she is with Salome, for Salome is the one that brought Hyun-Ae into the Authority. They seem to clash as times, but it is likely a performance.”
Eric nodded in understanding. “So—Salome is leading the Sanguinistas, and Hyun-Ae and Margeaux are likely with her. However, Roman hasn’t chopped off the snake’s head because her following extends beyond this building.”
“Yes, we know that there are Sanguinistas among the kings and queens as well as sheriffs around the country. Thus, to kill the movement, Roman needs to understand it,” Tavio said.
“However, he needs to understand it quickly, or it might be too late,” Eric said.
“Yes. From communications that we have decrypted, it seems clear that something big is coming soon,” Tavio informed.
Nora sighed. “There is a further complication too. Roman truly loves Salome—and hopes that she can be turned back to his side.”
“Which could make him vulnerable,” Eric said.
“Yes. Or he might hesitate. He is a little older than she is—a little stronger,” Tavio said, “but if he pauses, she might be able to take him down when the fighting starts.”
Eric nodded. “So—we must help to save Roman from himself too.”
“Likely,” Nora said.
“And Roman initially wanted Sookie in order to help him find out who was loyal to him.”
“Yes,” Nora informed.
“Are we safe here?” Eric asked. “Will Salome and her followers try to harm us?”
“You are safe. They do not know why you are here,” Nora said.
Eric looked skeptical. “But they will soon guess.”
“You won’t be harmed, Eric. I will assign Were sentries whom I trust to guard your quarters during the daytime. And I have already set the locks to be opened only by you or me. All you need to do is scan your retina there.” Nora pointed to a machine near the door.
Quickly, Eric did just that and then returned to Sookie’s side. He retook her hand.
“What do you need for your child—for when she rises?” Nora asked, gesturing toward Sookie.
Eric looked around. “Is there anything in here that has any real value?” he asked. “She will likely be quite angry when she rises. She might become destructive.”
Nora smirked. “We will take the Monet when we leave.”
“Good idea,” Eric sighed. He pointed to the small refrigerator/microwave set-up. “I’d like to get some B-positive. Four bags should be enough.”
“Your favorite flavor,” Nora observed.
“Yours too,” Eric reminded. “And Godric’s and Pam’s. I’m hoping Sookie will have similar tastes to the rest of us—when it comes to blood. And I don’t want her first meal to be synthetic, nor do I want it kicking. If she kills, I want her to have her head on straight and make that choice for herself.”
“Understood,” Nora said, sending out a text. “The blood will be here within a few minutes.”
“And I want to arrange for two live donors as well. Let’s say three hours after sunset,” Eric said.
“What kind?” Nora asked.
“One woman and one man,” Eric sighed. “It is possible that she will desire sex as she feeds from a human. On the other hand, she might want to avoid that. I want both possibilities ready for her. And—they should be type A-positive if possible.”
“Our least favorite blood type,” Nora smirked. “So you can better teach her control.”
“All will be arranged for,” Nora said. “I assume that you wish to be left alone for much of the night tomorrow?”
“Yes. I will bring her out only if she is in control of herself.”
Nora nodded. “It will soon be sunrise. I have arranged for more clothing to be delivered to you before then. And the blood will be here soon as well. Can you think of anything else you need?” she asked.
“No,” Eric responded. “Just make sure that Bill Compton is kept away; we will deal with him when Sookie wishes it.”
“I will make sure he stays in his cell—under silver,” Nora said with a smirk.
Tavio handed Eric the iPod, which was apparently a signal jammer of some kind. He demonstrated how to turn the device off and on as he did so.
“Thank you for waiting for me to get her settled,” Eric said—’performing’ for anyone listening. “Here is a list of my requirements.”
“These are reasonable,” Nora said with a wink at her brother. “We will see you again—as well as your new progeny—after she gains control of herself.”
With that, Tavio took the Monet off the wall, and he and Nora left. Two minutes later, humans carrying additional clothing and the blood that Eric had requested arrived. Eric quickly accepted the items, put away the blood, and then returned to the side of his child.
From the clothing, he chose a modestly cut, light blue nightgown and dressed Sookie in it before tucking her into the large bed. Then he, too, dressed, putting on the pants from a sweat suit he’d been brought. He put on a T-shirt too, figuring Sookie would react better if he was clothed—though he didn’t hold out much hope that anything would make her feel better.
He lay next to her and pulled the covers over them. Vampires didn’t need blankets, of course, but the warmth was a nice sensation to them.
He “spooned” her body and spoke quietly. “I wish I could have taken you to ground, min kära. The earth in Louisiana this time of year is nice. It retains warmth from the sun and absorbs its scent as well. But it is also cool, and you can literally feel that there is water close to you from below. The mixture of sensations is oddly soothing—at least to me. I hope that you will one day let yourself experience such things.”
He inhaled and buried his nose into her hair. “You already smell a bit like me, but I can get a sense of what you will smell like as a vampire too. Still so sweet, Sookie—still so distinct. You will be magnificent if you let yourself be. I will try my best to guide you to the destiny that will suit you—however—not the one that would suit me. It will be difficult, but I will try.”
Eric was quiet as the dawn came. As an older vampire, he was not so much at the sun’s mercy, and he let himself enjoy just a few more moments with his progeny in peace.
“Tomorrow will not be so easy for you,” he whispered. “But I hope that you remember this much: I love you.”
A/N: I hope that you are still enjoying this story. It has been fun reimagining the Authority! I added people and changed the histories of others. You’ll learn more about them as they go. I’ve also re-cast a few of them, and you’ll find out whom I picked soon! As for Tavio, I hope you liked him. I knew that I always wanted to give Nora a mate because I didn’t want her to be a potential love interest for Eric. I always thought he was using her to turn away from his feelings for Sookie, and that wasn’t her fault, but—with Sookie being Eric’s new child—Nora isn’t needed to help him “f*ck the pain away.” Note: I didn’t dislike Nora for being involved with Eric in the show, by the way. Sookie had already broken things off with him in that iteration of the world, and—let’s face it. Eric is not a “piner.” However, the show creators turned Nora into someone I didn’t like. And she had so much potential as a character! In addition to taking Eric out of the equation of her “personal life,” I’ve also added in Tavio. Plus, I’ve made her loyal to Roman, as opposed to Salome. It will be interesting to explore this twist.
Until next time—when Sookie rises! Will she break stuff and be angry? Or will she take her transformation well? You know the answer. This is Sookie-right?
P.S. Thanks again Seph for the help in casting Tavio (and for naming him)!
And, as always, thanks so much for all the rest of the art for this story, Seph, including the wonderful cast banners below!