Chapter 25: Tides of Change
Thoughts stampeded through my mind like wild horses. I tried to think of anything I could do or any weapons I could use on the vampire that was bearing down on my neck. The only thing I had been carrying was my phone and Victor had already smashed it. I wished I had been able to spend more time with my uncle to know what kind of magic I was capable of. Teleporting had been my one ace in the whole, and right now with Victor firmly tethered to me, it would do me no good. Not unless I just wanted to teleport the both of us somewhere else for him to rip my throat out.
My eyes were still closed, but I could feel Victor pushing my head to the side as his nose lowered to my neck and he inhaled. My hands came up to his chest and pushed uselessly away. His hands tightened around my neck as he drew my scent in, slowly savoring it. My fear was so strong that I could feel my children’s frantic response and it added to my own fear.
I couldn’t let it end like this.
My thoughts raced to the various stakes I had kept throughout my beach house. I focused my mind on the one I kept between the edge of the mattress and the box spring in my room.
Dermot had once told me that the skill could save my life, but I had only once before succeeded in summoning an inanimate object across space, and that had been when Doctor Ludwig had needed her medical bag and my children’s lives had been at stake.
Well—they were sure at stake now.
Just as I felt Victor growl, and knew he was going to tear into my throat, I felt the familiar heft of the wooden stake. My other hand slid around the end of the wood as well, and I pushed the stake upward through Victor’s chest with all of my might.
For a second he stumbled backwards his eyes transfixed on the protruding wood, “How?” he whispered and then his eyes flicked up to my gaze before they became lifeless and he fell backwards to the floor. I remembered from the first time I had staked a vampire that it would take his body some time to flake away.
I was suddenly aware that the sounds of my uncle’s sword had fallen silent and I looked up to see him staring at me across the headless torso of the other vampire. My uncle’s eyes shone with astonishment, but I was too numb to move.
“You can summon objects across distance now,” Dermot said in wonder.
My eyes flickered up to my uncle only to settle downward on the stake in Victor’s chest again. “I’ve only managed twice and both times I was knocking on Death’s door,” I responded in a flat tone.
“At least your magic has not failed you when it counts most,” he uttered, stepping closer to me. I didn’t move as he gently examined my neck with one hand, his other still on his sword.
I glanced down and saw that the once white dress I was wearing was now spattered with red. The effect now eerily reminded me of the dress I had first worn to Fangtasia when I met Eric. I had been naïve and innocent then. The blood, death, and violence of the supernatural world had been abhorrent to me then, but I wasn’t the same girl anymore.
So many people had said I changed after what I went through in the Fairy war, but I knew I had changed even more drastically in the past five months since I left Bon Temps. I knew I was part of the supernatural world now, and with two half-vampire children, there was no going back. It meant setting aside some of the human moralities I was raised with and sometimes embracing the violence of the supe world, but I was determined to hold my own among them and even earn my place if I had to.
I held my hand out to my uncle. “Give me your sword,” I said in a no-nonsense manner. He looked at me curiously, but carefully handed over the blade. I knew it would be sharp and could tell by looking at it that it was silver. I carefully positioned myself over Victor’s body and brought the sword down in an overhead arc across his throat, the silver cleanly and easily severing his head.
I handed the sword back to my uncle who continued to watch me with wide eyes, and carefully bent over my belly to pick Victor’s head up by his hair. My other hand deftly plucked the stake from his chest.
“This all ends tonight,” I told my uncle, meeting his eyes with determination. “It might be better for you to leave since there are a lot of vampires here.”
“I can mask my scent for a time. I will not abandon nor fail you again,” Dermot insisted, his eyes narrowing to slits with his determination.
I nodded and turned back down the hallway I had come from. “How did you find me?” I wondered as I quickly made my way down the hall.
Dermot matched my steps, his hands once again firm on his blade, ready for battle. “It took me a month to find you, but it is very difficult to hide from your Fae blood relations. Our familial connection called to me and brought me to you. I have spent the past four months watching over you from a distance, hoping I would be there if you needed me and that I might have the chance to redeem myself,” he said with a sad smile.
I knew in that moment that I had misjudged my uncle in some ways even worse than I had misjudged Eric. I had heard one stray thought from him, and immediately assumed his actions would follow that stray thought. I had been a telepath my whole life, I should have known better than to judge him on one stray thought.
But there was no time for apologies. All I could offer in return was my own sad smile and a look that showed my understanding and sorrow.
The sounds of battle rang loud from the banquet hall as I neared the door I had previously fled through. I could tell by the voids that there were many more vampires here along with the red snarls of the two-natured. Surprisingly, I realized that many of those snarled thoughts were familiar to me.
I paused before I pushed the door open with my hip, searching in my blood for the connection to my vampires. I could immediately feel the hum of Eric’s blood, the excitement of battle swirled with concern and bloodlust. Robert’s hum was weaker, but what emotions I could feel from him told me his emotions were nearly the same as Eric’s. I could feel Pam’s existence too since she was of Eric’s blood, but strangely, I realized I could feel another vampire even more strongly than Pam. The feeling was stronger, but different then the feeling I got from Pam.
I pushed those thoughts away, and swung the door open with my hip, Victor’s head still in one hand, and the stake in the other. Blood spattered the walls and coated the floors. I could see the dead bodies of vampires and two-natured throughout the room, but I didn’t take the time to mark who was among the dead. Hopefully, there would be time for that later.
My eyes instantly sought out my Viking. He was nearly in the center of the room, swinging a large broad sword at any vampire or Were who came near him. I could hear him calling out commands in other languages as my eyes quickly took in the sight of the others who fought beside him. A vampire that could have been his brother in his human life, swung another broadsword, laughing and shouting as he fought. It took me a second to realize that this vampire must have been his vampire “brother”, though I had never heard about him before.
Pam and Robert fought nearby, along with many vampires I recognized as belonging to him. Stan was nearby with his own contingent of vampires, one of his children was busy feeding blood to Barry, obviously trying to bring him around. I was surprised in some ways to see that even Bill and Judith were here, fighting side by side, not too far from Eric. What really surprised me was the sight of Thalia fighting near some of the other vampires I recognized from Eric’s area. But I suppose Thalia was up for a good fight no matter the cause.
None of my vampires seemed overly injured, but I could tell they were all sporting minor to moderate cuts and tears. It was hard to tell what was their blood and what was the blood they had spilled from others.
There were so many other vampires scattered throughout the room, most of whom I didn’t know, nor know what side they were fighting on. It took me a split second to realize that the size of the room had doubled sometime during the fight. The loose partition that had once divided the large room into two banquet halls had somehow been torn from its tracks and thrown to the ground. Obviously, Eric’s backup plan had involved stationing vampires and weres nearby in case a battle had come. I was glad now for his backup.
My eyes had taken in the sights of the room in a matter of mere seconds, but I couldn’t help but wonder how much time had passed since Pam had first pushed me from the room. No one seemed to notice my presence yet, and I was still gathering my senses so I could figure out what to do when I heard Eric’s voice call out to Pam.
“Pam! Find Sookie and make sure she gets out of here! That oily snake Madden got away and I don’t know where he went,” Eric yelled to her as he spun and neatly severed the head of the vampire who had been coming at him.
My eyes closed momentarily as I gathered my strength and yelled out in a clear voice so that I could be heard above the din of battle, “Victor Madden is dead!”
It took only moments for the sounds of ringing swords and snarling animals to fade into silence as everyone turned to face me. I paused briefly on Eric’s incredulous face as my gaze swept the room. I held Victor’s slowly flaking head aloft, and then threw to the ground several feet in front of me. My other hand still gripped the bloody stake. “Victor has gone to his final death by my hand. Those who followed him will receive swift deaths if they surrender now. Those who do not can be assured of slow deaths if and when they are granted,” I ground out viciously.
Part of my heart wanted to say they would go free if they laid down their weapons, but I wasn’t naïve any longer. I knew they were all considered traitors for following Victor and that no one could trust them. The only penalty in the supe world for their crime could be death.
Eric quickly pushed through the masses of supes and stood by my side, grasping my free hand with his. Robert, Pam, Stan, Bill, Judith, Eric’s brother, and a few others quickly followed fanning out on either side of Eric, Dermot and I. I was pleased that none of the vampires seemed to give my uncle any hungry looks, though there were a few curious gazes cast his way.
Those I recognized as loyal to Eric or one of the two Kings’ quickly spread through the room, blocking all the exits and trapping Victor’s remaining men. I recognized both Alcide’s and Calvin’s packs blocking different doors as well, snarling at anyone who glanced in their direction. I knew the roaring lion by the door closest to me had to be Sam.
Eric lifted our joined hands to his mouth and placed a gentle kiss on my knuckles. His eyes were shinning with too many emotions for me to name. His face turned back to the room and hardened once again as he called out, “My wife speaks truly. Lay down your weapons now and be granted a quick final death.”
I could see many vampires disdainfully eye the mostly disintegrated head at our feet as they dropped to their knees in defeat, but some turned and tried to fight their way through those at the door. Some fought until they were slain, others were overpowered and shoved roughly to their knees as silver was brought out and they were bound.
I recognized a few of Stan and Robert’s men, along with little Thalia as they began sweeping throughout the room, staking or decapitating the kneeling vampires. A few of Alcide and Calvin’s pack members also prowled through the room, though I tried not to watch too closely as they tore into the surrendering Weres. I wanted to turn away, but I forced myself to keep my shoulders back and stand by Eric’s side. He could feel my inner turmoil though and squeezed my hand while sending me waves of calm through the bond. For once, I fully opened the bond and welcomed the feelings, reveling in the sensations.
Eric’s satisfaction quickly followed as he looked down at me. I knew he had been waiting for so long for me to accept it when he sent me his emotions and I sent him my love in return.
He looked me up and down and said, “Your visage calls to mind the night I first met you, yet you are no longer the same woman who walked into my bar.”
He said it with a smile, but I still asked, “Is that good or bad?”
“It is not good or bad. It simply is. You are my lover, my wife, my everything, and I love all of you. The good and the bad. Your weaknesses, and your many strengths,” he assured me.
I don’t know how long I stood reveling in the simple calm that Eric flooded me with, but I was so consumed with the feeling that I didn’t sense the approach of anyone else.
“Well, well, it appears my lieutenant has been given his final death,” a familiar, heavily accented voice called down from above and behind us.
We all turned quickly and looked up to see Felipe standing on a balcony overlooking the room one floor above us. I hadn’t even noticed that there were several balconies overlooking the room. Eric shoved me behind him and quickly pushed us backwards towards the center of the room as men not only dropped down from the balconies but also pushed our vampires into the room and away from the doors. The other kings and our friends circled around, with me getting pushed towards the center of the protective circle.
Now we were the ones trapped in the center of the room, surrounded by Nevada vampires.
I realized quickly how smart Felipe’s plan had been. He waited in the wings for the end of the battle, ready to step in and take out whoever was left standing after they were already exhausted and injured. What I didn’t know was how Felipe had even known what was going on. Not that it mattered at this point.
“How good of you to send my traitorous lieutenant to his death. It is unfortunate you aligned yourself with other monarchs to do so. The penalty for sedition and treason against your king is final death,” Felipe said, his cape fluttering around him as he dropped lightly to his feet from the balcony, a wide smile on his face.
He started walking towards us, looking our group over. I didn’t recognize any of his vampires, but then, I had done my best to avoid the Nevada group lately. I peered around Eric’s shoulder to look at Felipe as he stalked towards us with his entourage following. He looked positively gleeful, but then his eyes lit on me and he smiled even wider and laughed. “Why, it does appear you were able to find Miss Stackhouse after all. It seems you lied when you said you couldn’t find my telepath. That shall be another strike against you however,” Felipe said, shaking his head.
He looked our group over more, his smirk once again deepening. “Perhaps I should thank you for bringing together these two kings in one place for me. It will make it easier for me to take their kingdoms,” he said with a laugh, many of his vampires joining in.
I felt Barry step up from behind me and grip my hand in fear. Dermot stepped to my other side and grabbed my other hand, tossing the stake that I had still been clutching to the ground. I could feel his magic swirling around us and knew he was preparing to teleport us out of the trap we’d found ourselves in. I almost laughed to think we’d found ourselves in a trap twice in one night.
Eric’s determination swelled around me and he looked over his shoulder at the three of us. “Leave. Disappear. Now,” he growled with a nod to Dermot.
Dermot nodded back, and I felt him trying to “tug” me along with him. I pushed his hand and Barry’s away and hissed back at him and Eric, “No. I’m not going anywhere.”
Before either of them could stop me, I pushed between Eric and Robert in their protective circle and stood with my head held high. I could see the calculating gleam in the Nevada king’s eyes when he took in my pregnant belly, but I was through with running and hiding. I wanted this to end tonight. I just needed to draw things out.
“People won’t stand for this,” I said quietly. “You can’t take over the whole country.”
“It shall take time I grant you, but it will happen, with you by my side helping, of course,” Felipe replied, crossing his arms.
“Do you really think you’ll get away with killing two more kings?” I asked, amazed at how strong my voice actually sounded. Inside, I felt like I was shaking.
Felipe spread his arms wide. “Who shall stop me? All is fair in a takeover,” he said with a laugh.
Everyone shifted and fingered their weapons. Felipe eyed our gathered forces and addressed them. “Your monarchs and leaders of course will forfeit their existences, but if the rest of you lay down you arms now and swear fealty to me, then you may live to see another night. Or you may fight and die alongside your leaders,” he said with a flick of his wrist towards the “leaders” gathered around me.
I was proud and amazed when not a single vampire nor Were moved an inch. Felipe’s face turned angry as he beckoned for me to come to him. “You will of course come with me Miss Stackhouse. Your husband’s life is forfeit for treason, but I shall take you into my care and protect you and your young. You are my asset,” he cruelly reminded.
I expected Eric to try to push me behind him again, but he stood beside me, looking like the proud Viking warrior that he was. “She is my wife,” he hissed. He raised his sword in front of him, pointing it towards Felipe. “I hereby lay claim to the states of Louisiana and Arkansas. You could not rule over them along with Nevada. You’ve been spreading yourself too thin, King De Castro. Leave now with your people and I shall let you keep Nevada. Stay and you shall lose more than your kingdom,” Eric said in a steady voice.
I held my breath as the line was drawn in the sand.
Eric was right about Felipe spreading himself too thin trying to control too many states, but I knew he was greedy. He couldn’t see that he couldn’t control such a large and spread out kingdom. He was a crude king, but he was too ambitious for his own good.
Felipe’s eyes narrowed on Eric as he held his hand out at his side. One of his vampires stepped forward and placed a jeweled sword in his waiting hand. He held the sword in front of him and everyone on both sides gathered themselves for the impending fight.
“So be it. You shall all die together,” Felipe’s accented voice rang out as he pulled his cape off with one hand and twirled it away from himself.
Eric took one step forward as he started moving to meet Felipe and his vampires. Robert stepped in front of me and pushed me back by my uncle just as the vampires on both sides and our Weres made the first step towards each other. I closed my eyes in dread.
Our numbers were fairly even, but Felipe’s men had the benefit of being fresh and ready for battle. Ours were tired and injured from already fighting.
I hadn’t wanted it to come this far. I had been hoping to stall long enough and the only question now was how many lives would be lost until help arrived.
“What is the meaning of this?” a thick accent rang out.
Everyone stopped on both sides.
Finally, I thought as I sagged against my uncle in relief. Finally here.
A/N: Thanks to blueiris for coming up with a banner for this story! You can check out the new banners on the main page for this story. The link to the page is in the directory at the top along the rigt side of the screen.
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