“I want to show you something,” he informed while guiding her up towards where Godric had pointed out the Fae portal. “You see the air moves differently here.”
“Huh, I never noticed before now,” Sookie answered as she moved towards energy field. When she moved her hands across it sparks of light suddenly emerged from her fingertips. Frightened by the sight she instantly yanked her hand back upon her body. “Eric what did I do?” she asked nervously as the portal became more visible and active before them. They both instinctively took a step back as the air around them continued to charge audibly.
“I don’t know,” Eric stated with restraint as they gazed hypnotically as the swirling portal sprung to life. Deafening screams were now emerging out of the depths further driving Sookie and Eric back in caution. Her fingernails dug into his hands, drawing blood but she was too paralysed to notice the damage she was unintentionally inflicting. The whirling winds seemed to upsurge into an impending explosion when instead the portal closed upon itself anticlimactically.
In a momentary aftershock the portal trembled once more and a body crossed through before the vortex closed permanently.
“You will be okay on your own?” Godric asked Tara for the third time, receiving the same unchanged stoic answer. He gave a brief nod finally accepting for truth that she was perfectly capable. “Very well, you will call if you need anything.”
“I won’t want for anything.”
“I do not doubt that,” he returned with a small smile. “The offer will always stand. I would like it…”
“You’d like to talk to me,” she discerned. “If you want my company ask for it, don’t dress it up as anything else.”
Godric regarded her carefully feeling the truth of her bluntness through their bond. It was a strange gift to him, to be given something because he could simply ask. That Tara could say no to the request because she felt no threat from him to simply appease him, it was strangely refreshing. While many proclaimed to treat him with respect his age and strength determined it was a given, no longer a thing he had to work for to receive. Somehow in their short time span together he had earned something with Tara and it seemed more rewarding than anything he had come across in many centuries.
“I would like it if we kept in touch,” Godric finally managed.
“Sure, whatever,” Tara shrugged. “I’ll call you tonight to make sure you got back to New Orleans all right. Look after Sookie, she has knack for trouble.”
“I have heard as such,” he chuckled. “Thank you Tara.”
“For being yourself,” he answered with a melancholy smile before shooting up into the night sky that was fast becoming enlightened by the sun.
“Fucking manners,” Tara grumbled before closing the door on her modest studio, with ease she found the bed and fell to a restful sleep not long before the sun finally rose.
Eric stood waiting for his Maker on the elaborate porch of the antebellum home that was deemed the only safe place to spend the night for two vampires in the direct area. After Sookie had fallen asleep in his arms Eric had waited for the longest possible time before he was forced away from her warmth. To explore the cold cavern that housed Bill Compton’s former resting place instead. Eric had cursed himself when he took in the dilapidated state of the home as it would have been a clear giveaway to Compton’s intentions with Sookie had he come to investigate. He had first assumed that the Maenad had caused the damage but was startled to hear from Sookie that it went unscathed. No respectable vampire of Compton’s age would voluntarily live as he did without there being other motivations.
“We’ve rested in worse places,” Godric grinned as he held the latch to the crawlspace open.
“Even you and your simple tastes never allowed us to live like this,” his child returned while trying to refrain the amount of disgust that was coiling inside him with the lingering scent of Compton, it stayed especially strong below. He tossed in the two sleeping bags Sookie had given him and followed after setting up their sleeping arrangements.
“It is like old times,” Godric spoke wistfully as he settled into his sleeping bag. “When it was just the two of us for so long.” Eric had relegated him the smaller of the two sleeping bags, obviously once belonging to Sookie as it was pink and littered with rainbows and unicorns. Under normal circumstances he would have laughed at his Maker in the pink monstrosity were he not stuck in Jason’s He-man sleeping bag.
“You’ve become too important to be afforded such privacy,” Eric informed as they both stared up at the wooden boards above them in the dark and damp space. “We should talk.”
“Talk as much as you like,” he returned indulgently. “I would like that.”
“I spoke with Pam,” Eric started carefully.
“Tell me something Eric,” Godric requested. “Did you send her to Russell for her protection or your own?”
“I figured as much,” he spoke softly. “I shouldn’t have asked for your sacrifice as I intended to do. I should have considered you like you have with Pamela. You have your own path to follow.”
“You already told me this.”
“It merits repeating. You shouldn’t carry the wounds of your Maker,” Godric expressed with a tinge of regret thinking of the pain Tara carried because of her mother. “This is my monument that I am building it should be your choice whether you want to be a part of it.”
“I want to be able to question your decisions,” he returned conscientiously. “There is more to ruling than following ideology. One’s self is the last to gain from the position of power, you need advisors that won’t placate your every whims. You would do well to listen to Cecily and my concerns.”
“I forget sometimes you lived an impressive lifetime before I found you,” his Maker mused with a small sigh. “You walked in my shoes long before I did. You wish to be an advisor to my reign. Officiously I assume.”
“Yes, I’ve lived the life officially. I want to maintain my independence, you will need it when making alliances.”
“You were always one destined for the shadows, despite your fair looks,” Godric complimented as his hand tenderly reached out for his. “I accept your offer as my unofficial advisor. What is your first recommendation?”
“Russell has broken with the authority, I suggest you do the same.”
Sookie, Godric and Eric returned to the New Orleans palace to find it overflowing with an influx of new arrivals. Like the Authority had feared those susceptible to Godric’s preaching had gathered from far and wide to bow to the victorious King of Louisiana. The mildly sceptic had found evidence in the defeat of a Maenad and had come to join the ranks.
His followers had been quick to respond to their regent’s request to bring the city back to its former glory and the debris had sat gathered at the edges of the city. Their efficacy continued within the palace organisation as the incoming vampires were received and processed with expertise and expedience.
“Isabel,” Godric greeted at the sight of his former deputy and her human companion among the vast crowd that fell to silence and hushed whispers with his sighting. “Hugo.”
Isabel kneeled down in curtsy one foot swiping behind her in a deep vow of respect. “My prophet,” she returned reverently.
“Please stand,” he pleaded uncomfortable with her sudden devotion. She had always been a loyal second in command with an unusual soft heart for a vampire but never submissive. Isabel held a special place in his affection, like a surrogate daughter and he had proudly stood witness at her burgeoning romance with the human Hugo who gave up all to be with her. It was the first Godric had witnessed after the great reveal and he could make little sense of it at the time. It had left him in wonder regardless as his own child seemed to have fallen under a similar spell.
“This is Eric and his bonded Sookie,” Godric offered in introduction. At the sound of Sookie’s name Hugo became visibly nervous and whispered something in Isabel’s ear before departing with great haste. An excuse was mumbled out but understood by none.
“Human needs,” Isabel informed politely to the inquisitive looks. Godric thought nothing of it but Sookie and Eric were both keenly alert at the human man’s sudden withdrawal.
“Have you come to visit this fair city?” Godric asked.
“No,” Isabel replied with a small sigh. “Stan is seeking the crown and I fear it is a fait accompli. Our quarrelsome past would not allow me to retain my position.”
“You were never one to run from a fight,” Godric said with a slight furrow of his brows. It had always been a great sense of pride in the Spanish vampire, little stood in her way.
“I have more than merely myself to think of now,” she explained as her gaze hinged towards Hugo in the distance of the crowd. Isabel had never been able to properly explain to Godric what she found so fulfilling in human companionship, she barely understood it herself. For centuries survival meant the scorn of emotions but now it seemed all vampires were seeking a revival of it, be it through spirituality or through a reciprocation of others. Through meeting Tara he too had found some value in the latter. Godric took the changing in the currents of time as a sign that God was on his side, an opportunity that simply couldn’t be left to waste. That there was a path paved for him to travel further along.
“You are both most welcome,” Godric informed as he beckoned an administrative clerk to record her entry into their residency records ahead of the queue. “Perhaps you would consider a position as my second again.”
“You honour me Godric,” she returned with a small bow of her head. “Is this position not meant for your child?”
“His place is no longer by my side,” Godric said masking the pain of the apparent truth. He would remain in the periphery but Godric could no longer claim him as his own, he truly belonged with Sookie now. No matter what official title he carried.
“I advise him in an unofficial capacity,” Eric supplied in a gesture of consolation. It pleased Godric more than expected to hear his child had not abandoned him indefinitely and dared speak it aloud to others. They were no longer physically bound but he was thankful that he had bought something for the thousand years that lay between them.
“Follow me please Isabel,” Godric instructed before bidding his goodbye to Sookie and Eric as he resumed his official capacity as regent. The sight of his departure was like Moses parting the Red Sea as he moved through the large crowd. Some had already arrived in the white linen garbs while others still wore the comfort of their own clothes. Godric should have been pleased by the arrival of the devoted followers but only the indiscriminate devotion of his two children would truly grant him contentment now as he regarded the crowd with a hint of sadness.
“Eric,” Sookie whispered while nudging his arm. “Can we talk somewhere private?”
“Hugo?” Eric asked in response to what he assumed warranted the necessity of confidentiality. Sookie simply nodded in return and she was quickly whisked outside flying towards a high rise building in the central business district.
“Next time give me a fair warning,” she hissed out as he put her down on trembling legs. He merely shrugged indifferently in response. They entered through the secure door on the balcony that opened with a thumb print and a retinal scan. Eric switched the lights on for her benefit as she followed him through and took notice of the loft interior that only held one other room which housed the bathroom.
“Where’s the front door?” she asked confused.
“There isn’t one,” he returned as if it were a perfectly acceptable explanation. “There aren’t many vampires that can fly. This keeps me safe for any eventuality.”
“Hugo is an informant for the Fellowship of the Sun,” Sookie explained after understanding the lack of an exit feeling a strange mixture of claustrophobia and security. “They know about me. He was warned to stay away from me.”
“They are of no threat to us,” Eric responded dismissively knowing the most fanatic of their organisation resided in the dungeons of the Authority. “Godric will understand their intentions soon enough.”
“I remember you kowtowing to them not so long ago,” she said pointedly at his lack of concern he emitted a growl for that particular low point in his existence.
“Godric commanded me to do so,” he returned with a shrug of his shoulders masking the humiliation he felt at it. Sookie sensed it through their bond but wisely gave no acknowledgement to it. “They would all have been dead within seconds had I been able to act upon it.”
“Their organisation is strong. They are pulling in just as many new followers as Godric is.”
“They are mere boys pretending to be men,” Eric replied. “There is more to fear of vampires than of them.”
“They are willing to die for their cause Eric,” Sookie said with a rising agitation to her voice. “There are many of those among them and I have only seen that willingness in one vampire so far.”
“You would do well to listen to her,” Cecily piped in as she startled the quarrelling twosome with her sudden appearance. “It is they that captured Godric.”
“They simply poisoned an already deteriorating mind,” Eric responded as he refused to give the human faction more power than warranted. In the grand scheme of things he worried more for the reach of the Authority at this point in time than the church group. “Had he passed a group of Hari Krishna’s we’d be chanting in orange garbs right now.”
“They captured more than his mind, brother. They overpowered him. Newlin is raising an army.”
Eric grew eerily silent as he took in Cecily’s words making Sookie realise for the first time how unanimated he truly was. Eric had always been suspicious of the so called church but he never accredited them with anything capable of a true threat to their species or its survival. A skirmish here or there, a bomb threat perhaps. Humans were powerful when organised, it was always the failures in their own organisation that had stunted vampires and never allowed power structures to evolve in the same progression of their human counterparts.
The Authority that now sat and led in the darkness was one of many that had come and gone through the meanders of time and never evolved beyond medieval power structures. The Fellowship lacked overt political backing and therefore had always been regarded as a minor threat. When there was a militant backing capable of overpowering a two thousand year old vampire there was no doubt in Eric’s mind there was more to the hostile church from Dallas.
“What else did you hear from him?” Eric asked Sookie.
“That was all I could gather from his panicked mind,” she offered apologetically.
“I think it’s time to speak to Stan.”
The local media has started paying attention to the vampire who preached Christianity to a congregation who had been ever so charitable in the clean-up of the latest storm. There were whispers that his age was so great he could have walked amongst Jesus. Some had dubbed him ‘the apostle’ while the stauncher of Christians simply referred to him as Judas, demon or devil.
Godric had allowed the media crews in to film his usual Sunday night mass as he spoke of the false idols from Hosea’s excerpt. It was his first sermon since the defeat of the Maenad and the usually filled seats were now overflowing beyond capacity with humans and vampires alike.
Though Sookie had always enjoyed attending church with her Gran she found little faith with Godric and kept company with her heathen Viking boyfriend instead. The minds of the fellowship members she had read so far made her reconsider her own religious beliefs. She had always internally personalised it to a guiding spirituality as she stood witness to what the institutionalisation of it was causing. The words of the Fellowship of the Sun made as much sense to her as Godric’s misguided ones.
Sookie continued to watch the TV absent minded as she saw Godric’s seemingly innocent face appear as the report replayed the following morning. He spoke thoughtfully with the reporter who seemed clearly enamoured with him and his gentle manner of speech. Godric claimed to understand the fear humans held for his kind for he would feel the same were he not a vampire. He hoped to display how different it could be so they could co-exist. He promised to make it right. There was something in that promise and the appeasing blueness of his eyes that worried Sookie.
The format of the show had changed from an in depth interview to a panel show as Godric’s face was joined by others. While Godric remained polite at the scrutiny of the other pundits the standoff between him and Nan Flanagan was revealing. His quiet demeanour was poorly contained for one that knew him.
“You speak of us Ms Flanagan, not for us all,” Godric spoke before Sookie switched the channel to black. To her fellow human viewers they were merely displaying a little disagreement between vampires. Sookie knew better of the concealed message spoken, Godric had broken publicly with Nan Flanagan and the Authority. Two states down and a third about to fall, the Authority would be scrambling soon to avert a row of dominoes tumbling down one after the one usurping their established rule.
The political landscape was changing and Eric was proving to be an excellent advisor to Godric. The Authority could not be a legitimate power when their tenants were so at odds with each other and its ruling body. The corruption and abuse of power the Authority was exerting for so long was not one Godric wanted to associate with any longer. It was fast losing its extended grasp and he deemed it appropriate to stand solitarily but justly. Eric had advised that the statement of defiance would consolidate his rule better than a marriage to Lorena ever would have.
Sookie crawled back into her formerly warm spot in their shared bed. She stared into the darkness for a while contemplating the unending merry go round she seemed stuck on. One vampire had been traded for another, she could barely remember when she last had a proper home cooked meal. She had barely digested surviving the attack by a serial killer, taking his life in the process. Within weeks they were burying another body.
Inadvertently that turned into two on the night of Eggs’ funeral, when they had found the mutilated body of the female were that had been expelled from the portal. Sookie cringed in memory of that particular moment of quality time with Eric. They had buried her on top of a fresh grave, not Eggs’ at Sookie’s insistence even though they had to search for a long period of time to find another appropriate spot.
Eric had then proceeded to inform the local packmaster of her location, which confused Sookie of all the necessary subterfuge they had just engaged in. She was informed it was common courtesy. In the world of the supernatural it was an unspoken rule that whomever stumbles upon the body buries it, no questions asked. It was what kept them all hidden so well for years and vampires simply abided by it through tradition. It was like parking her in a morgue. Sookie hoped they would be able to identify the woman better than they had.
She counted her blessings for now. Happy to be clean, clothed, fed and warm she leaned into Eric and fell into a much needed nap as she feared the merry go round would soon start to spin faster once more.
“I saw you on TV,” the uncharacteristically sedate voice greeted through the phone.
“I take it you took little from my message?” he returned. Godric was too relieved to hear from her again to take insult when she didn’t. A small snivel escaped her confirming his suspicions. “How are you doing today Tara?”
“I could use a drink.”
“I do not possess powers of telekinesis,” he said apologetically as she smirked audibly at his misinterpretation. She considered briefly that he may never have drunk a drop before he was turned. He looked so deceptively young after all. She was quick to dismiss the thought as she knew in his times it was the preferred drink to water.
“Please tell me you have gotten drunk in your human days?”
“I was traded for a crate of wine,” he spoke softly, remembering the exchange.
“Shit,” Tara returned swallowing a gulp. She had finally found someone who had truly surpassed her in the ‘my life sucks’ awards. It was wholly disconcerting.
“In those days most were more often intoxicated than not,” Godric attempted to explain not enjoying the guilt she inflicted on herself. “Inhibition and temperance were not considered virtues. Wine was the vein of life.”
“You’re excusing the fact because it was currency?” Tara returned incensed. “That only makes it worse.” Past memories were flooding her with anger. She had come close to being monetised herself as a young girl of thirteen when her mother could not afford the rent. The landlord had been decent enough to pass in preference of her mother’s bed.
“No. I’m sorry I do not wish to upset you,” he pleaded. Her rapidly moving emotions were thoroughly confusing him. From the moment their tie was formed he had vowed to keep it open. He thought her a lesson from God, to connect him to humanity again. It only seemed fitting she was so resilient to his message, thus the greater the lesson.
Vampire bonds were always that of control, the exertion of power. Of slaves and masters. He could have full control of Tara if he had the desire to, yet he found to have none. The chance circumstance of its forging had taught him there was another side to a bond, one he had never explored with anyone. He was as much a slave to her, her emotions ruled his actions and responses. To her but also to others. He had already smashed several objects accidentally with a burst of rage emanating with her sudden flares of anger.
Tara had remained quiet not used to people apologising to her, making her unsure how to properly respond. It had knocked out the anger that had been rising over the injustice. She was well aware times were different then but she knew that a moral compass was no different now than two thousand years ago. She begrudgingly hated to admit it but she liked talking to Godric and he had proved a moral person. A misguided one at that but his heart was in the right place.
“You didn’t upset me,” Tara stated more calmly as she checked the deadly silence on the other end of the line was still present. “Those who treated you as a commodity did.”
“Times were different then,” he offered in commiseration.
“There are more slaves today than at any point in history,” Tara countered.
“There are also more humans today than at any point in history.”
“Fuck your logic,” she disputed good humouredly. He chuckled not normally enjoying course language since his conversion but it was a joy to feel her give in without resentment. With Tara he had ascertained that a curse word indicated she was at ease with someone, offering her a strange sense of comfort. Her verbal shields put her at ease with others, saving her from attack by always being on the offense. It gave her an inner strength he admired.
“I sometimes think my logic is the only thing you tolerate in me,” he returned enjoying the light emotions that tickled through the tie. He wanted her happy. It was a strange realisation as it was something he never aspired for himself. Godric wanted to be right, just but not happy. He had little to do with the elusive concept, never thinking someone like himself would be granted something like that.
“When it’s directed in the right path,” Tara said with a small laugh. “Maybe.”
“You concede little,” he remarked at her frugal compliment. Godric considered inviting her to join him in New Orleans again, remembering Eric’s advice to surround him with advisors that dared to defy him. He refrained already knowing her answer to be negative. She wouldn’t return to the scene of the crime, that was asking too much of her. He would enjoy these few hours before sunset over the phone. It wasn’t about seeing her anyhow, it was the conversation he appreciated most.
“You win more when you don’t concede,” she countered continuing their light hearted banter.
“False victories are no triumph.”
She snorted before her tone fell more serious, “How long have you been lying to yourself Godric?”
A/N: There is progress on the horizon with Godric as new threats emerge, we’ll see how long it lasts… The body at the portal remains a slight mystery but as you may have noticed it wasn’t any of your guesses…
My entry Hinterland Shades for Sephrenia’s Writing Challenge is up feel free to check it out. It will be continued at some point I’m still deciding whether it should be another multi chapter piece or a novella so bear some patience with that one.