DAY 14: A Gift for Heather 218 – Part III

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Can’t get enough of this story? Well here’s some more 😉

 

DAY 14: A Gift for Heather 218 from ladytarara

THE CHRISTMAS FAIRY

 

Part 3: (Re)Turning

11.

Even beyond the gates of Rome, the hordes of Visigoths continued for miles, some on foot and others on horseback, for that was who the Suebi and other Germanic tribes had become over the last 500 years. The tribe who would sack Rome, who would bring the ancient world to its knees, destroy its last great empire, and trigger the Dark Ages across Europe.

And Godric had opened the gates for them.

“Do you remember me?” Godric asked Sookie. She shook her head, confused.

“No. Should I?”

“I was there when Niall came through the stones at Carnac. My maker was ended that day, and your mother. Your father was driven mad with grief and try as I might, I could not find him. You took me with you to a farmhouse in the far future, told me you would be safe, that you hid there frequently. I have often wondered, Sookie – were you actually safe?”

Sookie wrung her hands. “I do not know of what you speak. I don’t know you, don’t remember – my father is dead, drowned by the water fae in vengeance.”

“You didn’t come looking for me?” he demanded.

“How could I? I need help – I came to find it – I have to keep looking.”

“Perhaps I could be of assistance? “Godric peered more closely at Sookie, realising that the golden light that had so drawn him to her no longer suffused her skin in the same way, that somehow she looked altered, different. Subdued, her light paler than he remembered it, as though it had grown sick and faded.

“I don’t see how.”

“What is the problem?”

Hesitantly, Sookie told him of her journey, how she had fled, and she noticed how Godric’s mouth pressed into a thin line when she mentioned Niall’s name.

“Sookie, I may be able to help you, but first, heed my warning. I have had more dealings with your grandfather Niall Brigant than I care to remember. He is a dangerous man.”

“I know it.” Sookie thought of her slaughtered bridegroom and his family with sorrow, even though she had not wanted the match, she had not wanted them killed like that either.

Godric’s thoughts turned inward as he thought of how much Niall had meddled in human affairs. With Gaul a subject state of the Roman Empire, the Druids disbanded, and the stones rendered useless as he slammed the portals shut and toppled the stones, Niall had returned to Rome.

One day by chance Godric saw him in the tent of Caesar, a wooden bowl held out to him, filled to the brim with some kind of light-diffused liquid. Caesar drank deeply, and Godric watched as the bowl fell from his hands, Caesar following it to the ground as the falling sickness gripped him.

Niall stood over him, a smile spreading across his face.

“The seizures are necessary I am afraid – a natural reaction to having your mind purged, so I can more easily bend you to my will. Well, the druids are all but done in, their magic scattered across the land like grains of rice, but I will bring the rest of you to your knees. I will rule you in secret, spread iron across this world, keep the fae out of it. You see, my magic is strong, but it is not enough to peer into every corner of this wretched world. Thanks to her, I have weakened myself substantially to make her appear more fae, to change her memories – I must be in my dotage, my brain addled with age to allow myself to grow so soft. But there you have it, and my main rival is either dead or lost to grief, so what is left to me now but unrivalled power?”

Godric gasped at the memory. Had Niall been speaking of Sookie? It would explain so much. He reached out a hand tentatively to touch her, and felt her skin to be colder than it should, and he wondered if the stifling of her light was slowly killing her.

“Oh, Sookie,” he breathed. “I think I know what ails you.”

“I am not ill.”

Oh, but you are, he thought. Sick unto death and you have no idea.

“Please, Godric, will you help me? Can you help me? He’s lying there in the snow dead and -” She pulled out the mirror and Godric recoiled from it, sensing at once the bitter tang of a dark and powerful magic.

“Where did you get that?” he demanded. “Sookie, it’s not right – a mirror should reflect light. This one is absorbing it. There is something dark at its heart.”

Sookie looked at the golden object in her hand, a beloved reminder of her father, something he had journeyed far to retrieve and gift to her, something Niall had desperately wanted to use, but never could. This was her inheritance; this was the only way she knew to get back to Eric. The mirror glass itself was hard to look at, and Sookie had to concentrate with all her might to do it, as though an invisible hand was keeping her head turned, a faceless voice whispering into her ear to look away, to never mind it – this was the only way back.

“It’s a portal,” Sookie told him, “My father gifted it to me.”

“Sookie, I was there the last time you saw your father. He gifted you with no such thing. This mirror is not what it seems. I wish I had the gift of the fae to see into people’s minds, but I don’t need such powers to know Niall has done something to yours. Your father rebelled against him, tried to stop the closing of the portals and the destruction of the stones. Please, please don’t use it.”

Sookie blinked, shaking her head slightly to try and dislodge the voice whispering in her ears. She glanced sideways at the mirror from under her long, thick lashes and saw at its centre was darkness, not light.

“I have to use it. Just once more – I must get back to him. There are no other portals left, none that travel in time. I found a doorway between Earth and Faerie, but it does not cross time. If I don’t use it, I can’t save him.”

Godric nodded slowly, considering. “What about me? I cannot go through the mirror. Humans are not permitted to travel in time, only the fae.”

“But you are vampire. You have your own method of time travel.”

Godric smiled at her, his heart lightening just a little at the thought of it. Several hundred years on the slow path for him, a blink of an eye for her – it could give him enough time to think of a solution, a way to restore her to what she was, and a way to break the mirror’s hold over her.

“That would be best. I don’t like you using it, but I understand your need. Let us hope once more will do no extra harm.”

“You will meet me in the north, on the appointed day, at the right time?”

“I swear it. I will be there.”

Sookie nodded, staring through the mirror, whispering the spell she needed. Godric watched as the blackness concentrated there grew, spilling out, sucking up all the light around her, its long fingers stretching out of the glass and wrapping themselves around Sookie’s spark, filching away the light that made up who she was as it fed upon her brightness. The fingers snatched back inside the glass, taking Sookie with it, the blackness wrapping itself closely around her as it took her back to her dead lover.

Godric had no idea how to break the curse on her, but he knew who would.

With Rome gone, he made the hunt for Oren his sole purpose in life. And he looked everywhere, every conceivable place, even in lands still empty and yet to be granted a name. He flew over stormy seas and strange shores, asking where there were people, hunting alone when there were none. Sometimes he heard rumours and whispers of a man who had shed an ocean of tears, drowned in his own sorrow, and sank deep into Hades never to surface again, a man who wielded light, a man lost and filled with grief.

Centuries turned. Christianity spread across Europe with the Dark Ages, stone castles sprouting like magic beanstalks as in Rome’s absence the old kingdoms re-emerged, the petty kings and the petty wars, and somehow the light and knowledge of ancient times was lost, drowned under the darkness.

Godric began to feel a pull to go north, could sense the time was coming when he must go to Sookie’s aid, and he set his feet upon the path, sad that he had been unable to find her father, but hopeful that he could aid her.

 

Sookie knelt in the snow, the mirror returning her to the exact moment she had left. Eric lay like a slumbering giant in the snow, a frost giant out of Norse myth, his limbs blanketed with a fine dusting of snowflakes, a shroud sent down from the sky itself to mourn him. With soft and gentle hands, she cleared the snow from his face, lifting his head so she could lay it in her lap, the mirror forgotten in the snow beside her, so she did not see her light was dimmer, did not see that the blackness still spilled out of the glass and on to the surrounding snow, staining its whiteness with black.

She looked back toward the road, feeling a little giddy and breathless. “Please,” she whispered. “Please.”

Would he come? Would Godric be here in time?

A soft thud landed beside her and she looked up in to his concerned face, thinking the look he wore was directed toward the dead man in her lap rather than herself, her paleness, the dimness of her light, and she did not notice how he carefully tiptoed around the mirror, avoiding touching it or looking at it.

“I told you I would come.”

“Do you know what to do? What can be done?”

He looked down at the man cradled in her lap, the strong jaw, the blonde hair, a large and well-muscled man, a warrior for sure. And he recognised him – the face of his child he had sought out in the far future. But was he too far gone? Had he been dead for too long?

Godric reached out a hand to touch the cold white skin of his cheek, then he laid his head over his heart before straightening and turning back to Sookie.

“He is not dead, not quite – but he is perhaps a heartbeat away from it. I will turn him.”

Dropping his fangs, Godric bit deeply into his own wrist, holding it to the lips of this man, using his other hand to prise them apart just enough for the magical elixir to slide down his throat and do its work. Three times he opened his wrist to him, knowing there was magic in that number, that good and bad always came in threes. Let this be good, he prayed to Wotan, just another version of this man’s Odin, one name overwritten with the other, just as in the south Saturnalia had been rewritten into Christmas, though he knew like many others the Christ had been born in the spring far to the south of this place.

Godric righted himself, allowing his wrist to heal.

“I will need to bury him and lie in the ground with him for three days. Sookie, you should not be here when he rises. It would be too dangerous for you. Newborns are wild and I will need to exert much control, to train him before I can let him be with you.”

“No!” she shouted forcefully. “I won’t! I have gone to great lengths to save him. I will not wait quietly or hide away!”

“You must, or he may harm you in his thirst and his rage, and he will have to live with whatever injury he has inflicted upon you forever. I can command him, but he will be half-wild. It is not safe!”

Sookie nodded reluctantly, vowing to herself that she would find a way around it whilst they were in the ground. “The soil is frozen here – how will you be able to dig deep enough?”

Shrugging, Godric got to his feet, heading toward the slaughtered village, returning with tools to break the soil and dig. “If the tools can hold out, I can dig deep enough.” He used an axe to tear open the ground, to soften and break it before switching tools. Despite the ice, he made short work of it, tossing the shovel aside as he picked up her Eric as though he was no more than a rag doll, jumped into the hole and laid him out carefully, seating himself beside him, resting the man’s head on his lap.

He was taking a risk, he knew it. He did not know this man, other than Sookie loved him, other than seeing a glimpse of his face in a vision of a future that might never come to pass. This was the man he would forge a child-maker bond with, this was the man he would snatch from the jaws of death, this was the man he would gift with the moon and the stars, this was the man he would have to trust with his back until he met the true death.

Hoping Sookie was right, he nodded up to her as she began to bury them both.

 

 

12.

Still covered in the dirt of the grave that had birthed him, Eric fought his maker.

“Why?” he shouted. “Why would you make me into this, the same nightmare that killed my family and my village? Why would you think I would want to be this?”

Sookie stood with her back to a bare tree, its leaves long since gone and its branches heavily bowed with snow, her cheeks wet with silent tears, just out of sight of the grave and the duelling vampires.

Godric picked up a sword and threw it to his new child.

“Are you mad?” screamed Sookie, stepping out from the tree, but Eric’s eyes never left his maker and she wondered if he even knew she was there, her heart almost breaking.

“If this life is such an affront to you, such a betrayal of those who lie dead in that longhouse, murdered by a vampire who has a reputation as one of the worst of our kind – the fact he travels with wolves should tell you enough – then go ahead and kill me. Or end yourself. I will not command you – the choice must be yours.”

Eric grabbed the proffered sword, an old design weathered by time, but as serviceable as it had been when it hung from his belt as he raided the Gauls with the Suebi, a sword he had carried with him when he threw open the gates of Rome and allowed the descendants of his men to wreak their vengeance.

“Please,” Sookie begged as Eric held the sword in an attacking position. “I asked him to – please, the fault is not his.” She ran between the two of them, grabbed the sword by the blade and positioned it above her breast. “If someone must die for this, then it should be me.”

Eric growled, his pupils dilated with bloodlust, his new fangs aching for blood, his face just inches from her own as Sookie struggled not to recoil. His chest heaved with a deep breath, and she could see he was sampling her scent, tasting the air around her, and she wondered if he even remembered her, if there was anything of the man she had given herself to left inside this beast. Godric waited, his body filled with tension as he prepared himself to rip his new child off Sookie when he attacked her. But then Eric fell to his knees in front of them both, the sword falling onto the snow as he released his grip on it, and he buried his face in her belly.

“Sookie,” he breathed into her skin. “You came back for me.”

“Of course I did. We were running away together, remember?”

“I do. But now – you can’t want me now.”

Sookie dropped to her knees in the snow, facing him, her face pressed into his chest. “I want you more than anything,” she whispered. “Why would I want anyone else?”

“I can’t run now. Perhaps you should marry whom your grandfather wants.”

“It was a lie. He lured them in and killed them all.”

“Then twice tonight the laws of hospitality have been broken.”

 

Godric watched the two lovers in the snow, wondering that his new child had not ripped open her neck, that he had not tried to slake his thirst. He had warned her to stay away, but of course, she had not listened. How much he must love her, he thought, to have the raging beast within him so stilled, so tamed by her.

Eric stood, gently disentangling himself from Sookie, picked up the sword from the snow where he had dropped it, and laid it at Godric’s feet.

“Master.”

“Son.”

“I pledge my fealty and my loyalty to you -”

“Not necessary,” Godric smiled. “It belongs to her. I have sworn to protect her, no matter the cost, and now you can do the same.” He reached out to touch Eric’s shoulder. “You please me greatly, my child. Now we have other matters to tend to.”

Sookie helped them gather more wood, the driest they could find given the weather, leaning it against the longhouse to act as kindling. Godric nodded to her when he thought it was enough, and she conjured fire to her fingertips. Eric watched, then signalled her to stop as he ran back into the building. The fire died in her hands and then she chased after him, stepping over body after body, seeing his large form kneeling by his mother’s dead body, his hands unfastening a brooch.

“It was her most prized possession,” he said softly. “She would have wanted you to have it. I wish she could have met you and loved you as I do.” He turned to face her, pinning the brooch to her shoulder, a dragon made of gold and set with blue stones.

“It is beautiful. You honour me, and I will wear it with pride.”

He slid the wedding band from his mother’s finger, one that had been passed down for generations, an item he also knew she would have passed to him to gift to his wife if he’d lived long enough to have one.

“Sookie – I have no right to ask you, I don’t even fully understand what I am – but please – wear this as a symbol we are bound together. I do not know if we can wed – why would you wed a dead man? But this would mean much to me.”

“Of course I would.” She slipped the ring over her finger, resizing it with a subtle spell, the band a plain but beautifully worked gold, fashioned into a stylised knot.

Getting to his feet, he took her in his arms and kissed her softly, holding her close, the warmth of her body and the beating of her heart a sweet refrain that coursed through his body, his fangs running out unbidden with desire and hunger. Sookie stared at his fangs, and Eric pushed her gently away.

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Then don’t.”

“I must honour my parents and my people.”

Nodding, Sookie took him by the hand and together they went outside, Eric’s hand clutching hers even tighter as she held a flame aloft in her hands, working a small spell to ensure the wet wood caught alight and the people within could begin their journey to Valhalla.

Godric watched them as the longhouse burned, noted their entwined hands, the ring on Sookie’s finger, and the fine brooch she wore. How Eric had contained himself so long in her presence, newborn and uncommanded, he did not know. Perhaps it was shock or grief, or perhaps he was spelled with her love – but he had never seen anything like it in all his years and he sighed, thinking of all he had to teach his new child about what it meant to be vampire.

He moved to stand behind them, a hand on each of their shoulders.

“The trail is still fresh and he cuts a wide path through the snow given the company of wolves he keeps. Let us end him,” Godric said.

Eric let go of Sookie’s hand, turning to face his maker.

“Is it possible? Can vengeance be sought?”

Godric looked up at the night sky, dawn still far away, the night clear enough for now, but the snow would return soon enough.

“Let me teach you how to hunt. He is worthy prey for our first kill together, and he deserves to be ended for this.”

His sword retrieved from the snow drift Russell had thrown it into, Eric nodded, his face grim. “And Sookie?”

“Sookie, you should not come. It will be too dangerous.”

“You need time with your new child. I know it. But neither can I stay here.”

“The mountain,” said Eric. “The cave with the lake.”

“I will wait there for you.”

He kissed her tenderly and then turned to his maker, pointing out the direction Russell and his wolves had travelled in his guise of Old Man Winter. Shaking his head, Godric pointed up into the air.

“I have the gift of flight. Not all our kind do, but my maker could, and I inherited the gift from his blood. You should have received it from mine.” Godric flew up into the air and Eric watched, open-mouthed, as he tried to imagine himself following, picturing himself flying up alongside him. “It’s no good,” he began. “I have no idea how to do it.”

“Open your eyes,” said Godric. “You are already up here.”

Eric opened his eyes, seeing the white carpet of snow laid out below him, the winter-bare trees and the inferno that had been his family home. Sookie was still there, looking up at them both, and he almost fell from the sky like a stone with the weight of his own astonishment.

“We have much to discuss and you have much to learn. But first I want to know; do you love her?”

“With all my heart.”

“Good. If you had answered differently, I would have ended you myself.”

“Are you – are you in love with her?” Eric asked hesitantly, not sure he wanted to hear the answer.

“Only as a brother or a father, nothing more. My wife died long ago and I have not loved another.”

They watched as Sookie waved farewell and headed in the direction of the cave to seek shelter.

“You must feed – I will teach you to do it without killing. The hunger should be much stronger in you than it is – I should have been more prepared. But I must warn you, when you feed, especially if it is a woman, you will be filled with desire. You will want to fuck your meal – but given the pledge you have made to her, I assume this is something you do not want, so you must learn control. And even with Sookie,” he continued. “You must be careful. Our blood is powerful, it is sacred and it makes humans stronger and if we share ours with them as we drink their blood, powerful bonds can be formed. And as a fairy, she is already magical and -”

Godric broke off, pointing down to the snow below them.

Wolves, running together in a pack, ranging around the vampire known as Russell Edgington, still clad in the fur coat of Old Man Winter, his progress slowed by some of his injured wolves, unable to shift, who trudged through the snow beside him leaving a bloody trail in their wake.

“We must be careful. He is old and powerful, but there are two of us, and whilst you lack age, I do not, and both of us were born to the sword.”

Silently, they descended from the sky, swooping down and seizing wolves on the periphery of Russell’s group, picking them off silently one by one as at last the waves of hunger washed over Eric, somehow delayed by his shock and his grief, and he tore into neck after neck, taking his fill of the strongly-flavoured were blood, which tasted as gamey as a musk ox in rutting season. The stench alone was enough to put Godric off, but Eric had no such qualms, his face stained with blood as one by one they picked off all the outlying wolves, perhaps twenty in all.

Russell was cursing and swearing at the snow, oblivious to the silent death raining down on his followers, convinced of his own invincibility, that none would ever dare challenge him, especially not here in the frozen, sparsely populated north, where pickings were slim and meals far between. Few vampires came this way without purpose, and he fingered the crown through his bag, the sword of Beowulf hanging by his side. Perhaps he would head south again, even though more than one vampire king had banished him. Still, he was old and he would bide his time and these young upstarts would die as they always did and then he would find a kingdom of his own.

A footfall in the snow, out of time with the rest of his pack and without the sound of dragging limbs like the wounded weres alerted him to the attack. Edgington dropped his fangs, snarling as he smelled intruders, others of his kind.

He would rip their hearts out.

Attacked from both sides, Russell drew his sword, engaging first one assailant and then the other. The ferocity stunned him as he unsheathed his dagger, fighting first with the sword and its longer reach, then stabbing beneath the flying blades with his dagger and his superior speed, aiming for their hearts. But the big one danced out of his way, anticipating his moves and he snarled again, recognising him as the man he had left for dead in the snow, the one he had considered turning for one mad second.

Another of his kind had done the deed. He had the shorn hair of a Roman, but the blue woad tattoos of the north. A mercenary, perhaps. The gods knew the Romans had more than their share of them and in the end, it had destroyed them.

His progeny fought with great skill, his face filled with bloodlust and rage as he fought to avenge a newly-killed human family. But the other, the maker, his face was calm, detached, and Russell doubted he was even close to his own age, but something about him was terrifying and he knew the marks of a man who had spent many lifetimes in battle. A true warrior – and one to fear.

An ancient Abyssinian diplomat when alive, Russell had never been more than passingly good with a sword, relying on his slaves to protect him, to be his muscle. And as vampire, he had survived through his cunning and ruthlessness. But here, on this foolish quest to avenge Grendel, he had no hired muscle other than wolves, his progeny dead, and finding himself mistrusting of all others.

The wolves howled around him, the ones who were left, as they tried to hurl themselves at his attackers, even amped up as they were on his blood, they fell too easily to the merciless blades of his foes. Around him the snow was littered with the dead, their bodies changing back to human form as they died. He kept fighting blow by blow, and he wondered if this was it, if this was the end.

Godric tested his opponent’s skill level and found it wanting. Knowing his reputation for madness, he waited patiently for an opening, knowing it would come, that he would make some kind of mistake, and all he would have to do was press his advantage to take the kill. Eric fought well as he expected, his sword nicking Edgington, making him bleed, and setting his wolves baying at the scent of his blood.

A wolf hurled itself at Eric, and he grabbed it swiftly, breaking its neck as he threw the body at Edgington, who dodged it neatly with his vampire reflexes, but did not adjust for its transformation to human size as the corpse hit him in the chest, rocking him backward on his feet as with a blood-curdling cry, Godric grabbed him by the hair, yanking back his head, his throat exposed to his progeny’s sword.

“The kill is yours,” he told him. “A gift to farewell your human family and to welcome you into mine.”

Eric hacked through Edgington’s neck, Godric holding it up by the hair for a moment before it disintegrated along with his body, staining the pure white snow blood red.

Eric dropped to his knees. “Master, I am not worthy of you. Please, forgive my rejection of your gift. I see it now for what it is and I thank you.”

“Rise, child – there is nothing to forgive. Let us leave them here for the real wolves to devour, their bones to be picked clean, and left where they lie. Your vengeance is complete. You have begun to learn what it is to be vampire, and now we must return you to Sookie.”

“How do you know her?” Eric asked.

“Let me tell you what I know of Sookie Brigant.”

 

 

Sookie leapt to her feet when she heard them both return, stopping in her tracks when she saw them both covered in blood.

“Are you hurt?”

“No.” Eric closed the distance between them, wrapping his arms around her, holding her close as he laid eyes upon the mirror his maker had mentioned, the one she had used as a portal to travel in time and save him. The glass shone darkly, and even in the dim light of the cave, he could see the shadows gathered around it were a deeper black than the others. Should he snatch it up and break it against the rocks, or throw it deep into the lake? But to break a mirror was bad luck – the worst – better to keep it where he could see it, better to wait till they could find out what it really was.

“I will stand watch,” said Godric, stepping out towards the mouth of the cave, following the rocky path upward, glad to get out into the bracing night air, knowing they would have to rest in this place though he longed to leave it behind him.

“Is he alright?” asked Sookie as Eric kissed her gently.

“He doesn’t wish to intrude.”

“Ah.”

She returned his kiss then, his fangs snicking out as she reached out to touch them.

“I am sorry for this. I knew of no other way.”

“Don’t be sorry – I am not. Godric is a good man – better than perhaps you or I know. If being vampire means I can stay with you, then I will seize it with both of my hands. Sookie – he told me what he knows of you, how your memory has been blocked or changed somehow. The mirror – Sookie, look at it – can’t you see the darkness spilling out of it?”

Sookie tried to look at it, but her eyes kept sliding away.

“I can’t. It won’t let me – something is pushing me away from it.”

“It is a danger to us, to you. It cannot be from your father. Godric says as far as he knows Oren is not dead, but he has been unable to find him. Could Niall have trapped him?”

“Possibly. Yes. He is capable of anything – but my father is powerful, more so than me. What should we do?” Fear made her voice tremble and Eric put out a hand to console her.

“We will travel to Carnac – the conventional way – no more portals, Sookie. Godric says the mirror is dimming your light, feeding on it somehow. He cares for you and does not want to see you harmed.”

“He told me of his long-ago oath. But Eric, I don’t remember him!”

“Godric thinks perhaps the stones will help the memories return. And it is the last place Oren was seen and as his child you might have more luck sensing where he could be. If we are to escape Niall, if we are to have any kind of life together, it must be done. Oren is the only one with enough power.”

“But the stones are dead. Niall saw to it. He will not have their power to draw upon.”

“Maybe he will be strong enough anyway.”

“When do we go?”

“Tomorrow, at first dark. This place is too dangerous now. We have no idea who else might come to call now Russell has been ended.”

“And there is a door to Faerie here, one that has been forgotten. That’s how I came here. If Niall finds it, then this is the place he will come to.” Sookie shivered. “I don’t want to go back there, to be his prisoner, to be wed to a man of his choosing, and bred like cattle. I want to be with you. Wherever you go, I go.”

“So be it,” Eric whispered, kissing her gently once more. “But there will be no breeding with me. No children. Sookie, I am dead, and so is my seed.”

“Not all of it.”

“What do you mean?”

She grasped her hand in his and placed it on her belly.

“We were lovers when you lived, but a few nights ago. Some of your living seed is in me still, perhaps it will take root. It is too soon to tell.”

“I would wish it was so. I do.”

She kissed him more fiercely then, rising on her tiptoes, his arms lifting her higher to help her get the contact she needed. He groaned as she moved against him and he pinned her up against the wall, his hands sliding beneath her dress, stroking her smooth skin. Sookie pulled her long hair to one side, exposing her neck.

“Take my blood,” she whispered.

“I should not. I don’t want to hurt you, especially if there is a chance – any chance at all – that you carry my child,” he replied, even as his excitement at the thought of tasting her grew, of her hot, rich blood filling his mouth. He traced his hand lightly over her breast and she shuddered.

“That doesn’t help. Please – I know you won’t hurt me. I trust you. I love you. Please.”

“Will you take mine?” he countered. “Godric explained to me how it is done, how a bond is formed. We would share our emotions. I could feel what you feel, and you could feel me. Please.”

“Alright.” She wrapped her body more tightly around him and with his throbbing, aching fangs, he bit into her soft white flesh as delicately as he could, her blood sweeter on his tongue than anything he could have imagined as he pushed himself up against her. He raised her skirts to her waist, her bare bottom cupped in his hands as she reached out to him, pulling his pants low over his hips till they fell to the floor. He withdrew his fangs and gently as he could, slid himself deep inside her, losing himself to the sensation of her, so much more than before.

He understood now what Godric had told him about feeding and fucking, and how if he wasn’t careful, he could lose himself. He bit deep into his wrist and offered it to Sookie as she grasped the bleeding wrist in both hands, kissing his fingertips, caressing his thumb before she took what he offered.

His blood was rich, like dark chocolate melted over the fire, mixed with cream and sweetened just slightly. Her tongue probed the wound and Eric shuddered, wondering if he would come undone so soon. Still, if what his maker had told him was true, what would it matter if he could continue to bring her pleasure?

Sookie came and he followed quickly, the sensation more than it had been as human, more intense, more overwhelming, and he wondered if it was merely being vampire or that he could feel what she felt, too, now the thin and delicately woven bond connected them, heart to heart and mind to mind.

“We are one,” he whispered in her ear.

 

Godric did his best to block out the sound of fucking, but there was only so much he could take. He scented blood in the air and paused in his pacing for a moment, straining to hear any sounds of a struggle. His bond to his new child was filled with the pleasure of his joining, but he did not detect any traces of bloodlust.

He sighed, relieved, really not wanting to have to go in there and prize them apart like two dogs in heat to save Sookie’s life. Scenting Eric’s blood, knowing they had begun to bond and that now she was safe enough, that he had proven once more he had admirable control for one so young, he decided to head further out into the night, to leave them to their joy in each other.

He had been alone for so long; it was difficult not to lament what he had lost.

 

Godric still remembered the raid that had given him his wife. The hooves of their horses thundering across the plain, the Suebi stopped at a cottage on the edges of a thick, dark forest, the kind they told tales to children about to scare them. The trees were dark and grew thickly together, the acidity of the pine needles killing everything below it, the lack of understory adding to the gloom, the thick pine canopy blocking out all light and casting strange shadows.

“We should not enter,” a man had said to Godric. “This is a place of witches. None would live here except those engaged in the dark arts.”

“Don’t be a fool. Our horses need water and pasture. There is no grass, it is true, but there may be oats or hay in the cottage there. Come on, what are you afraid of?”

A small band, only fifteen men, they had filled their saddlebags with Gallic gold and jewels, the craftsmanship fine and delicate. “We have more than enough gold to pay.”

A man next to Godric snorted. “Why would we pay for what we can steal?”

“There is a sign on the door, a symbol for those of you not to ignorant to read it,” Godric continued. “There is a wise-woman here.”

“A witch,” sneered the other, the man who had spoken first.

“One who is powerful in magic and spells. We pay for what we take, or we will be cursed.”

Godric dismounted and walked up to the door. “The nearest town is a good three days’ ride and we may still be pursued. We must take what rest and refreshment we can get.”

“If the Celts come for us, won’t they come here, too?”

Godric smiled unpleasantly at the speaker. “You forget my mother was a Celt. I know their ways. They are more superstitious than we are and would never dare to breach the hospitality granted by a white lady. If she takes us in, then we will be safe.”

“How will you convince her?”

“With my boyish good looks and natural charm, of course,” Godric laughed as he knocked gently at the door.

When it opened, a girl stood there, maybe twenty-years-old, her hair a burnished copper, her eyes a wild, mossy green.

“Do you know what this place is?” she demanded.

“Are you the White Lady? Is this her house?”

The girl stepped out of the doorway, closing it firmly behind her.

“It was,” she whispered. “But she was driven out and drowned by a band of marauding Romans who aim to stamp out our ways.” She eyed Godric curiously. “You are Suebi.”

“I am.”

“Ah. I am Sieglinde. I am relying on this mark over the door to keep myself from harm. I was the White Lady’s apprentice, and I do not know enough of the dark arts to keep attackers at bay. You have a kind face, a handsome one -” She reached out her hand to his and Godric almost recoiled, but stilled himself, allowing the White Lady to touch him.

“Come with me,” he breathed, his heart already lost to the girl with the copper hair. “I will protect you, make you my wife. You will always have a place with me.”

“Alright, but we must hurry. The Romans are camped behind that hill.”

And so, he had placed her on the saddle before him, his body trembling at the touch of hers as his men stared at him as though he was mad. Who would take a White Lady to wife?

Ignoring their stares, he rode home at a gentle pace, barely daring to touch her hair, let alone her hand or kiss her lips. He would not lie with her till they were wed, as much as his body ached for hers.

Like so much precious gold and jewels, as though she were fine china that might break, he rode home with his bride.

 

A scream of anguish broke through his reverie, his wife now long-dead dispersing like mist as he was yanked back to the world of the living. What had Eric done? Would he have to pull him off Sookie after all?

Racing inside, he found Eric kneeling on the cave floor, trying to hold on to Sookie’s body as her back arched with pain and she screamed, the sound echoing off the walls of the cave, both naked, their clothes shed across the floor like old skins.

“What did you do?” Godric demanded of his child.

“We exchanged three times and then -”

“On the same night?” Godric shook his head. He had not told Eric to space it out, that the magic in his blood might be too much. “Sookie, what is it? Where does it hurt?”

Her eyes opened, staring directly at Godric’s, so bright he thought sparks might fly from them.

“I’ll kill him!” she screamed. “I’ll fucking kill him!”

“Who? Eric?” If he had hurt her, he would hold him down for her himself.

“Niall!” she spat.

Godric rocked back on his heels, relieved that Eric had not caused this. He was growing quite fond of his new progeny.

Sookie began angrily dressing, Eric swiftly locating his pants, and putting them back on.

Both relieved and shocked that Sookie had her memories back, neither of them noticed the mirror reaching out for her.

 

 

14.

Black, choking hands reached out of the mirror, grasping Sookie by the neck, and trying to force her in to the growing portal spilling out of the mirror’s frame. Eric grabbed hold of one hand, trying to tear it off her, but it held fast, defying his vampire strength. Godric grabbed a shadow hand with a force that would have crushed skulls, but all he managed to do was dislodge the smallest finger from Sookie’s throat.

He grabbed his sword and hacked at it, hoping it was Niall’s hand and that it would hurt, but his sword recoiled harmlessly from the dark flesh, unable to even scratch the skin. Sookie was chanting furiously and what was left of her spark began to glow brighter, and too late, Godric could see the shadow feeding from her light.

“Sookie, stop – please! You will only make it stronger!” he shouted.

The hands were pulling her toward the mirror and she stepped closer to it, unable to resist. Eric raised a war axe, hurtling it with all his strength at the mirror itself, no longer caring if it broke and shards lodged in his undead heart and ended him, but the mirror proved itself tougher than iron, the axe skittering harmlessly across the floor.

A face appeared in the shadow, a face Godric recognised as Niall’s, his features distorted and demonic as he dragged Sookie to the portal. “You shall never have her!” he screamed. “She has defied me, shown herself false, and unworthy of my love and protection. So now I curse her, trap her in the mirror and its never-ending portal, to be hurtled from Christmas to Christmas, regardless of time or name, always to see it and never to enjoy it. A Christmas fairy, indeed!” He laughed harshly, and Eric tried to grab hold of Sookie one last time, but she was ripped from his arms, the force of her momentum hurtling her through the mirror as he cried out in his grief and anger and rage.

Godric placed a steadying hand on him, wondering if he would have to restrain him as the shadowy portal began to fold back in upon itself, neatly packed away in the mirror’s gleaming silver interior.

“I should have thrown it into the lake when I had a chance,” Eric said. “Would it have saved her, do you think?”

Godric never had a chance to answer as a pulsing rope of light wound its way out of the mirror, looping itself around Eric’s waist, and swiftly dragging him into what was left of the portal. A blinding flash of light followed and Godric felt his bond to his child grow quiet as he was whisked who knew where. He grabbed the mirror, holding it aloft as he screamed.

“Send them back, or take me, too! Why would you leave me here alone? They are my charges, my responsibility, and I have to follow them!”

The mirror remained silent, all traces of the portal gone now, all pretence of being mere glass long since vanished. There was no gleaming silver now, just an oval of iridescent black.

Godric ran his hands through his hair. What should he do? What the hell should he do? He longed to throw the thing into the lake or fly to a thousand feet and drop it onto rocks below. But it was his only link to them, his child and the woman he had sworn to protect when she was but a girl, and now the loathed object had to be treated as though it were his most treasured possession.

Carefully, he grabbed Eric’s shirt from where it lay on the cave floor, still spattered with the blood of Edgington and his weres, and wrapped the mirror tightly in it, stuffing the bundle into his coat pocket.

He grabbed his few possessions, then flew out into the night. There was little else for it but to head to the stones himself at Carnac. Finding Oren was more urgent than ever.

Whatever had happened, he believed something or someone else had taken Eric – not the malevolent shadow sent from Niall. Now it was time to find out who or what that was.

 

Eric woke face-down on a flagstone floor, unable to tell at first if the gloom was that of the cavernous building or that of night. He sat up groggily, a blinding, blazing headache almost sending him back down to the floor. It was worse than any he’d ever had as a human after a night of drinking and carousing. Warm yellow light spilled out from candles in sconces along the wall, and he wondered where he could be. The cave was gone, but this place was only marginally smaller, the ceiling criss-crossed with arches. Something pricked at the back of his mind, prompting him to look up and sure enough, there he was, the thin and emaciated body of the Christ, a crown of thorns pressed into his skull as he hung in his final agonies on the cross, a bloody and gruesome symbol to frighten the Christians into obedience.

He staggered to his feet. Thankfully the place was empty, though he could hear talking and shouting nearby, knives scraping plates and ale being sloshed out of tankards at some kind of feast, perhaps just outside the doors of the cathedral. The golden cup and dish of the Christ holding his body and blood gleamed in the candlelight, and Eric jumped to his feet at once, catching a glimpse of his beloved’s face in the reflection. He seized the dish in both hands, turning it round, and there was her face, but only when light fell on it. In the shadows, it remained a staid and boring gold, though the craftsmanship was finer than any he’d ever seen. The cloth of the altar was finer and softer than he knew cloth could be, edged with exquisite lace.

It was some kind of trick – it had to be.

Placing the holy items back on the altar, he looked up and saw in every window of watery, hand-poured glass not the faces of saints, but the face of Sookie, forever outside, always peering in. He raced to the nearest one, his hand reaching out to stroke her face, but of course, it was only a small panel of glass, brightly coloured by some art he had not seen before.

Perhaps if he could find out what this place was, where it was – he had seen many Christian churches on his raids to the south, but none like this one. It was larger, more splendid, finer. Closing his eyes to shut out the images that taunted him, he headed out to the courtyard.

French. They were speaking a kind of French, though not exactly the kind he was used to, similar enough for him to understand. A life of raiding had taught him much, including the languages of many countries. Was this Frankia? These people the Franks?

Arrayed out the front was an enormous table and seated at its head was a man dressed in the piebald clothes of the fool, atop his staff a grinning skull of perhaps a cat, hung with bells and baubles that he constantly shook up and down. He put his long-toed shoes on the table, his stinking mud-covered feet next to the roasted hog and trenchers of wine and ale, and all up and down the table were people in various states of dress, men clothed as women and women clothed as men, some of them aping ecclesiastical attire.

“I declare,” shouted the Fool at the table’s head. “As Lord of Misrule, I shall appoint a Christmas bishop who will perform the wedding rite for those here who are yet unwed. The marriages shall last for only one night, so make the best of it!”

A child was pushed forward from the crowd and a bishop’s cloak and mitre were placed on him.

“And dice!” shouted the Fool. “Let us celebrate our Lord’s birth with a game of chance upon the altar!” He threw out a bag containing dice and a man caught it neatly, grabbing three others and heading back into the church proper.

What was this? Had the world gone mad?

“And let us all drink a toast,” screeched the Fool, “to the wise and learned Council of Basel in the year of Our Lord 1431 when our wise and holy leaders saw fit to issue a church edict outlawing our merry repast, calling us debauched heathens carrying on the pagan traditions of the long-dead Rome. Well, Rome might be dead and the Caesars no more, but one thing is for sure: The Romans knew how to party!”

He raised his tankard high, brayed like a donkey, and then downed the contents in a single gulp. The rest of the table followed suit, and Eric felt more than one hand reach out to touch him, some from drunks unsteady on their feet, others from those proffering more lecherous advances. Having seen enough, he resolved to leave when the Fool spotted him and beckoned him over.

“What a magnificent costume!” he congratulated Eric. “You look exactly like a Northern barbarian. Tell me, is that real blood? And the missing shirt – a stroke of inspired genius!”

Irritated by his over-familiarity and his reeking bad breath, frantic with worry for his Sookie, wondering exactly what nightmare she had been thrust into, his fangs dropped unbidden and a low growl built up deep in his chest.

The Fool stared at him, open-mouthed and in complete silence for once before guffawing loudly and slapping him on the back. “Brilliant! You must be one of the mummers from out on the street. Let me congratulate you on your costume. You are sure to scare them all out of their pants! Go man – go! They must be waiting for you!”

Eric turned, fleeing the scene of maddening debauchery, wondering what hell the world had fallen into, and how on earth he had been dragged here, and why. Had Niall brought him here to torture him, to taunt him with images of Sookie, and punish him? Where was she?

Out in the darkness of the street, the crowds thinned and he could see there were men lying in wait for the feast to end. At first he took them just for rogues, but he could make out the masks they wore, caricatures of the devil out and about on this night, seeking those joined in the revelry to celebrate the Christ and the return of light to the world by mimicking the devil, scaring the poor drunken fools as they left the feast, and possibly relieving them of their coins in the process.

He half hoped one would step out and accost him, his fangs itching for more blood despite all he had drunk earlier that night. Was it still the same night? He could not tell.

A woman in a hooded cloak moved up ahead, and for a moment he thought it was Sookie, rushing out after her in the darkness at vampire speed, grabbing her by the elbow as she gasped and turned to face him. Her falling hood revealed copper hair, lit by the distant light of the sconces attached to walls to light the way of revellers to the Feast of Fools.

“I am sorry,” he said when he saw her face. “I thought you were someone -”

“You thought I was Sookie Brigant.”

“What do you know of her?” he demanded, his grip tightening on the woman’s elbow as he struggled to contain his fangs. The woman chuckled softly.

“I know what you are. Do not bother to hide it from me. I am a ghost permitted to walk on this night, and I have seen you from afar, Eric Ulfriksson. I know of your troubles. In life, I was a white witch, and I can see the spell that binds you.”

“What is it? Do you know where Sookie is? Can you bring her back to me?”

“So many questions! The spell is blood magic, your own I would guess, the special power of a vampire’s blood that animates you and keeps you in the world of the living, instead of the dead like me. You bonded with this woman. The bond has dragged you here, through the mirror.”

“Sookie, where is she?”

“Here, but not here. You will see her, but never touch her, never hear her voice. You are doomed as she is. She may be the Christmas fairy, but you are its dark angel, for what else is a vampire but an angel thrown out of the heavens with Lucifer himself?”

“How can I get to her?”

“That I do not know.”

“Where are you?”

“The Otherworld.”

“Your name?”

“Seiglinde.”

“What should I do? Can you tell me – what should I do?”

“There is nothing you can do but try to find her, try to comfort her, try to work a way out of this mess, or you will be condemned with her, trapped with her in an eternal Christmas.”

Eric swore. “I’m not even a fucking Christian.”

“And there is the irony, is it not? Niall has a sick sense of humour, though I do not think he meant for you to come. You should use that against him, find a way to get to him before you are pulled to the next time, the next Christmas.”

“How?”

The ghostly figure of the witch began to fade before his eyes.

“How?” Eric demanded, his voice filled with howling rage.

But the woman had already gone and he was left staring at empty shadows, twirling their way up and down the street, mocking him in his pain as he fell to his knees, head in hands, blood tears on his face.

 

 

15.

The cold was bitter, the snow slowing his progress as Godric flew south toward the stones of Carnac. Where could Eric be? And Sookie – what of her? Had he failed her for a second time? He closed his eyes against the driving snow, relying on his vampire senses as his vision was lost to him in the midwinter storm.

This was not a night to travel, but instead a night to be indoors by the fire, talking of battles long past. On nights such as this you might chance across a troll in the darkness, its misshapen, grinning face as cracked and pitted as the rock it was carved from, but so strong it could rip you limb from limb and leave your carcass for the wolves to feast upon. Or perhaps you might chance across an elf, the dark and malevolent kind who worked ill wishes and foul magic, come to curse the year ahead and make your crops wither and die in the ground, condemning you and yours to a slow starvation. This was a time when the supernatural were abroad and humans should cower in the dark, waiting for the light to return.

The stones were huddled together against the cold, their backs turned to the freezing wind, cloaks of the finest snow and ice settling over their shoulders. More scattered than he remembered, some lay toppled in the snow, others broken or missing, carted who knew where to build roads and chicken coops.

How was he supposed to save them?

Godric landed deftly in the middle of what had once been a stone circle, his hand reaching out to touch the stone, colder than even the drift of snow gathered around its feet. Dead – it all felt dead – not a single trace of the warmth and light possessed by this place a few hundred years earlier. The stones stood like ghosts, lonely sentinels in the night, long forgotten guards abandoned to their watch, shadows gathering thick and fast at their feet. How much had these stones seen, silent witnesses to the deeds of gods and men, they alone never changing as the world around them carried out its plots and intrigues as kings and peasants alike lived out their lives and passions, yet they were untouched?

Perhaps I am like these stones, thought Godric, as he thought of all he had seen, all he had lost, and all he had thought he’d gained by finding Sookie once more, and taking Eric as his child. But the fates were fickle and the next day they were gone, swept away in time’s tide, and he was left to bear witness to the loss. The weight of his days pressed down upon him and he wondered how the stones could stand it, so much more burdened with time than he was.

A light mist played across the hillside and for a moment he thought he could hear tinkling music and laughter, the ghost of a memory of the child Sookie had been. He could almost see her there, running through the stones, hair long and loose. Godric smiled at the phantom, her small hand extending out to an unseen figure behind one of the largest stones.

Was it Niall?

Godric landed with a thud, switching effortlessly to running as he strove to get to the girl in time, to tell her not to go, to stay with him a while. His hand reached out to touch her, but when she turned, she had no face, and he fell to his knees in the snow, looking up at the last moment to see a figure still there, hiding in the shadow of the stones.

With a start, he realised he had left the protection of the stone circle, even broken as it was now, and he wondered what hideous conjuring had come for him. Too late, he realised he stood upon a barrow, one covered still in a cairn of stones, a thick lintel supporting the doorway. A double-bladed axe was carved above the entrance, a sign that a god had once dwelt here. He reached out to brush away the snow and saw serpents twined around the entrance, carved in detail by some long-dead artist from a time well before the Age of Iron.

Was it a doorway between worlds, or a trap?

The figure turned, pushing back her hood to reveal copper hair gleaming in the starlight. Godric fell to his knees in front of her.

Was it her? How could it be? Or was it something other, a fairy come to waylay travellers on this wintery eve, wearing the guise of his long-dead wife?

“How? Seiglinde, how?”

Ghostly arms wrapped around him, and Godric held her to his chest. Real or not, fairy or not, if she ended him with her embrace as the stories often said, then so be it.

But nothing happened.

“Wife, how come you to be here when you have been dead these last nine hundred years?”

“I have come to help you find what you seek.”

“You know where Oren Brigant is?”

“Follow me.”

She ducked down low under the lintel, disappearing into the dark womb of the earth that held the bones of ancestors long past. Godric followed, wondering if she would show him Oren’s bones, picked clean by the passing of time, signalling the death of his quest to save his child and the girl he had sworn to protect so long ago.

He could barely stand under the barrow, the ceiling low and pressing against him. With his vampire sight, so used to peering into the darkest of places, he could make out bones, some human, some animal, even scattered teeth and shards of broken pottery. Axes and arrowheads lay abandoned on the floor, no doubt buried with long-dead chieftains to use on their journey to the after-life, the other world. Gems glittered in the dark and he could see the moon-whiteness of pearls, wondering how they had come to be in such a place, and fine blue beads, the stones streaked with white, lay scattered where the leather cord had long since rotted away.

“Why do you bring me here?” he demanded. “This is a place of the dead. Is Oren dead?”

“This place is not what it seems. It is a gateway -”

“Do not take me to Faerie. I cannot -”

“I know what you are and I know your limitations. The eternal sun of Faerie would kill you. No, this will take you to another place, to a world beyond the veil, where it is always night.”

“Where is it?” he demanded.

She gestured back toward the mouth of the dolmen.

“It is back the way you already came.”

Godric turned and bending low, left the strange, cramped burial place, re-emerging into the darkness of the winter night as though he was stepping into bright light, so dark had the burial chamber been. The place looked the same, only a mist had settled round the stones, the snow gone, and he could hear voices.

“Have you sent me back in time?” he demanded.

“No. I know you would not be able to stay there long. This is where I dwell, where we all dwell when our mortal bodies perish.”

“The Otherworld?”

“Yes.”

“So Oren is dead?”

“No. But he will not leave. He hides here and he is with his wife.”

The fire of outrage began to burn deep in the pit of Godric’s stomach. “All this time?” he demanded. “All these years he has been here and left Sookie to fend for herself?” His fangs erupted and a snarl built low in his chest.

Seiglinde placed a calming hand on his chest.

“It is not what it seems. Go to him – go find him.”

“And what of you?” he asked shakily. “Are you but a shade?”

“A guide sent to you by the old gods, with what little powers are left to them.”

“I have missed you, wife. Others have known my body, but no other has known my heart.”

“I know it. Now go.”

Godric bent to kiss her softly, surprised to find her lips warm and receptive. He would have lingered, but she gave him a little push and he set out from the hill, the stones upright and strong, laid as they had been originally, the village below brightly lit as though a carnival was taking place. Sighing, he left the one woman he had ever loved, even for as brief a time as she had been alive before the Romans slaughtered her, and set out down the steep path to find Oren.

Seated before the fire, Oren’s golden hair blazed in the firelight, his dark eyes hidden behind shadows. He was dressed as Godric had last seen him four hundred years ago, in midnight blue with the blazing sun as his crest. In his hand was a cup of ale, in his lap a trencher of meat, his knife spearing small pieces and delivering them to his mouth.

Annwyn sat beside him, her form less solid, her long golden-brown hair darkened by the shadows, her face whiter than Godric remembered and marked with grief. If she was dead, as he knew she was, then how could her face be so changed? Did even the dead mourn those they had lost? She sat quietly by Oren’s side, her hand on her husband’s thigh as though he anchored her to this place, to this world, as though at any moment he might be torn from her side and lost.

Was this the place he would have come to if he had not been turned? Would he be here, Seiglinde seated by his side, her hand on his thigh as he told tales of battles lost and won? He would never know, and it burned deep in his heart that he might have lost her forever.

Godric made his way through the crowd toward the fire, positioning himself between the flames and Oren. It took him several minutes to realise the light had been blocked, that someone stood before him.

“Out of my way,” Oren snapped. “You must be new here – not all have the right to sit by the fire and feast. Tell me, were you a warrior in your life?”

“You know I was.”

Oren glanced up, recognising Godric’s face at once.

“And you failed me. You failed Sookie.”

Godric ignored the insult.

“As did you.”

Oren pushed Annwyn’s hand from his thigh, getting to his feet, his face distorted with anger. “I tried everything! I gave everything to try and save her from my father!”

“Then why are you here, a living man mewed up with the dead, lost to his grief, and forgetting the living, so he might sit with his wife’s hand on his lap?”

Oren drew his sword, the fairy blade glinting in the firelight. Godric dropped his fangs, snarling.

“You are still undead. Shall we see if my sword can make you bleed?”

“And I am no longer a newborn. I am old and powerful. If fighting you is what it will take to get you to return to the land of the living and take up your responsibilities, then so be it!”

The fairy blade twirled and danced in Oren’s hands and Godric flew neatly away from the fire, causing the fae prince to shout his protest as he pursued Godric into the open, the stone circle above them as witnesses. Godric’s blade was in his hand and it clashed with Oren’s sword, the two more evenly matched than they had been, Oren’s fancy fairy footwork doing little to help him against Godric’s vampire speed and strength. He took care not to wound the man – a blood offence would help no one – but Oren was less circumspect as Godric had to dodge out of the way more than once to avoid being nicked.

A crowd had gathered around them, and Godric thought he caught a glimpse of Annwyn and Seiglinde conversing and he wondered if they knew each other.

At last his anger spent, his chest heaving, Oren lowered his sword.

“I cannot best you at the sword, but I still have some magic left to me.” Oren drew a fireball to his fingertips and he heard Seiglinde shout at him to stop.

“Give me leave to speak!” Godric demanded. “Hear what I have to say, and then if you do not like it, I will even stand still and allow you to obliterate me, because if you will not help me, then all is lost and I might as well be as dead as these shades.”

Oren gave a curt nod.

“Why are you here,” he demanded, “when Niall has had Sookie all this time?”

“No!” shouted Oren, his face a mask of horror. “You lie! Sookie is dead!”

“Why do you have cause to think that?”

“After the battle, a fae soldier came to me. He carried this silver and gold box,” he drew it out from under his jacket, opening it and holding it out for Godric to see.

Inside it was a grisly collection of body parts, a human heart and a tongue, but what caught Godric’s attention most were the eyes. Large and dark, ripped from their sockets, they were so like Sookie’s.

“You see,” Oren continued. “He sent me proof of her death.”

Godric shook his head. “They are false. Sookie lives.”

“How do you know this?”

“She came to me, travelling through a mirror to find me, so I could save her lover, freshly killed in the snow by another of my kind. I turned him, but then Niall trapped her in this.”

Godric reached into his pocket, pulling out the mirror, unwrapping it from his child’s bloodstained shirt, the glass of the mirror shining blackly.

Oren took one look at it, careful not to touch it.

“I will fucking kill him!”

 

 

banend-2

MANY THANKS TO THE LOVELY AND ALWAYS ENTERTAINING LADYTARARA FOR THIS IMAGINATIVE AND CAPTIVATING TALE, OF WHICH MORE IS TO COME OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. DO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AND LIKES AS ALWAYS THEY DO END UP WITH HER!

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36 thoughts on “DAY 14: A Gift for Heather 218 – Part III

  1. suzyq591suzy says:

    This story is just like a fine wine better with age –Ole Niall better watch his step –I am thinking his days are numbered now that the old Gods are giving what help they can. Such torment for Godric to see his wife again and they cannot be together:-( You have woven such a rich tapestry of events for our lovers leaving you wanting to read and picture more:-) This story has made my week so much better. Until next chapter in the saga Ciao

    Liked by 2 people

    • ladytarara says:

      Oh that’s so nice to hear! Reading everyone’s comments on this fic have certainly made my week pretty awesome, so I’m glad it’s improved yours too!
      Ah yes – Niall is a piece of work in this fic and he is going to keep on making their lives difficult. He’s going to become increasingly monstrous inside and out. I have something in mind later on for Godric and Seiglind – you know I’m terrible with the hint-dropping and I always give away too much but that’s all I’m going to reveal!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ladytarara says:

    Reblogged this on ladytarara and commented:

    Hi everyone!
    Here is Part 3 and the ((re)turn of Eric to the story. Will he be saved in time? Of course he will!
    You guys are awesome – I’m just blown away by the response to this fic.
    Hope you enjoy Part 3!
    Lady T

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cari1973 says:

    It seems everyone is in consensus saying I’ll fucking kill him! !! Congratulations!! You have created a Niall so delightfully villainous that we all want to see him become a pulpy mass of blood and broken bones.

    Liked by 3 people

    • ladytarara says:

      Oooh my goal exactly!!! It’s about time I had a truly villainous Niall. Always using Russell or Crappius or even Beehl (who in my opinion is about as villainous as a sock puppet given his lameness) gets old after a while. So it was definitely Niall’s turn.
      I’d love to kill him but I need him for the sequel… Unless I make a replacement villain. (I have killed and continually replaced villains in my True Viking series, so it is possible) But for now Niall stays!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jackiedm69 says:

    Naill better watch his back….both Oren and Sookie wants to kill him hehe!!
    Now I would love to know in which dimension/realm is Eric?!?
    So happy that Eric had his vengeance killing Russell, no need to keep that villian alive.
    Naill is more than enough lol!
    Tender moments between Godric and his wife….
    Anxiously waiting for tomorrow.
    Jackie69

    Liked by 3 people

    • ladytarara says:

      There was no need to keep Russell – you are absolutely right! And I figured killing him could be a nice bonding experience for Eric with his new maker. As you know I have a pantheon of assholes in True Viking so this time I’m going to stick to just Niall (mostly) and he really is the stuff of nightmares.No alternate dimensions in this fic (unless you count Faerie I guess oh and the Otherworld which is meant to be a representation of the Gauls’ beliefs on the afterlife which the Internet knew next to nothing about so in the end I made a lot of it up apart from the name). I’ll save the multiple dimensions for Doctor Who! Eric will travel through time instead! Yeah completely different right? Hehehe. Glad you like the story and only 2 parts left to go in this 5 day binge-readathon!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. tleel says:

    Oh this story just keeps you wanting to read it as fast as you can to see what happens next, and I’m a slow reader though I love to read. Now that everyone is on the same page including Sookie on wanting to kill Niall we should get on with the show. Eric needs Sookie, Godric needs Eric and Sookie. now to get everyone in the right time period and working together. I can’t wait for tomorrow to get here and for the next installment to be ready. This is a great Christmas, Yule, plain holiday gift to give anyone in this fandom.

    Liked by 3 people

    • ladytarara says:

      Oh thank you! I’m really happy to hear that you like the fic so much! It’s a lot to read in a short time but it’s great that you are enjoying it! I’m so happy with the response it’s received – I was really quite worried that it was too much but you guys have all proven me wrong on that account! And it’s so nice to write a fic for the advent calendar as a way of giving back to the people who work at the FA Guide (thank you Heather218). And as a bonus everyone else gets to read it too!
      Everyone wants to kill Niall and he certainly deserves it but he won’t die for a while cos I need him to be the villain in the sequel too! He will however become increasingly monstrous and unable to hide his true form behind fairy glamour.
      Thank you for reviewing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mom2goalies says:

    Your stories just keep getting more and more interesting! Amazed at the backgrounds given to everyone and love that Sookie was able to get Godric to safe Eric. Eric, of course, is a strong vampire from the start. Their love so fierce. Cannot wait to see what Oren does to Naill and how both Eric and Sookie can be freed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ladytarara says:

      Thank you! yes some serious ass-kicking coming up… Though Niall has to live to see another day or I’d need a new villain for the sequel! And I kinda like him as a monster. And of course Eric is a kick-ass vampire from the start – how could he not be with such an awesome maker? Eric and Sookie will of course be freed from Niall’s monstery-clutches and Oren may have a teeny tiny role to play in that!

      Like

  7. Magpie says:

    Oh, the law of threes, the Lord of Misrule and a barrow with a portal to the world of the dead. You’re really spoiling me now. 😉

    I love the time jumps, too. Somehow going from stained glass windows in fifteenth century France to misty hilltops at Carnac just works and it all ties together beautifully. Well done, this is the perfect Christmas fairytale!

    If you ever decide to write an Aussie Eric and Sookie, I’ll read it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladytarara says:

      Mwahahaha! I may do it one day – but right now I have too many fics to finish. I think I’ve got three ongoing series at the moment! But if I ever run out of stuff – yeah maybe!
      The Lord of Misrule was fun – I did take a few historical liberties with this one but it was loosely based in fact. And I think it’s proof that the old pagan traditions really took a hell of a long time to die out (are they really dead? Not sure…) I think it’s quite interesting to explore how we sometimes take our own traditions for granted, being naturalised as ‘normal’ to us rather than questioned or examined so they become cultural myths. There will be more time travelling – it will take a while for everyone to find each other and synch up and I take that opportunity to jam in as much Christmas as possible! I think when I reblogged the first part of this fic that it has more Christmas than you can poke a stick at – well, that’s definitely Part 4!
      Glad it all ties together – I have some pretty out there ideas sometimes so it’s nice to know it makes some kind of sense!

      Like

  8. msbuffy says:

    I love this story! I’m kind of happy that it’s going to be so cold tomorrow, so I can just relax and read, read, read! Of course I’ll be waiting for the post for Part 4! I could read it 50 time and still love it! 🙂 Best gift ever!

    Liked by 2 people

    • ladytarara says:

      Thank you! It will all start coming together soonish – Part 4 is them kind of trying to figure out what’s going on and synching up cos they’re a bit all over the place for a while travelling through various Christmases… But it will all come together and I am so happy with the response this fic is getting! Thank you for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

    • ladytarara says:

      Very true! Now we just need Eric to find Sookie, get Niall to come along, then Oren and Godric can turn up and there’s gonna be a showdown! Eventually. Part 4 is more the finding each other and then Part 5 is the ass-kicking / setting up the sequel.

      Like

    • ladytarara says:

      I’m jealous! Wish I had a cold, cold day! Mind you it’s not super-hot yet but soon enough it will be! Thank you – it’s so nice to hear from everyone how much they like this fic. I dumped all my WIPs to write it. I think it took me 3 weeks or so. I think it was definitely worth it and I am so happy to hear from quite a few readers that the length is not the problem I thought it would be!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lea says:

    LOL! ‘Like father like daughter’ were exactly my thoughts as well! Nice touch.
    Another incredible chapter Lady T. So much rich detail and history here which are both such wonderful features of your stories. And thank you for the kind words in response to my review of part 2. I will always happily read anything you care to write and the more bizarre the better. 😉
    Back to this chapter and hooray for the end of Russell Edgington!
    I was worried there for a few moments that he might somehow escape but the end of Russell was indeed a cathartic moment for Eric and a fitting tribute to his slain family.
    I had also hoped that at least one of Sookie’s parents had survived and now that Oren is suitably fired up maybe some progress can be made on reuniting this new hybrid Fae/Vampire family.
    I do look forward to Sookie and Oren and Eric and Godric and anyone else who cares to join in collectively providing Niall with the comeuppance he so richly deserves. If that must be delayed until the sequel then so be it since I am certain you will make it worth the wait.
    The family that slays together… has a bloody good time doing so!
    The vampire part of the family enjoyed a nice bonding moment in this way and now the Fae side needs the same opportunity to re-bond and let off some steam. I look forward to parts 4 and 5 and just where you take us all next.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladytarara says:

      Niall will come to a nasty end – I promise, and when the time is right. Haven’t written it yet but I promise to make it spectacular. No escape for Russell – he needed to go! I figure Godric and Eric together would be more than a match for him especially as they were warriors in life and I made Russell some kind of glorified accountant or something similar. Oren is still very much alive and ready to kick some ass. Definitely the family who slays together!
      You’re welcome in regards to the last comment – it’s true! You are a discerning and adventurous reader, exactly the kind I like!
      Not sure if Hisviks will post Part 4 tomorrow or not – I think she’s making the decision night-by-night (day-by-day? Stupid time difference!) depending on the stats and if it looks like readers are keeping up with the load. So I will defer to her expertise and regardless it will all get posted soon enough!

      Like

  10. lzdiva4 says:

    Still totally engrossed. I got a little behind so I read this chapter pretty quickly. I may have to re-read so I can digest all the information you supplied us. Glad to see Oren is still alive. Now maybe with him, Godric and eventually Eric working together they can manage to free Sookie from Niall’s clutches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladytarara says:

      Oh completely understandable! I think if I was on the reader’s end of this fic I would get behind too! It’s a lot to read in a short time. Yes, Oren survived and he will work with Godric to free Sookie from the mirror and defeat Niall of course!

      Like

    • ladytarara says:

      Niall will have some of his comeuppance in this fic but he will live to see another day because I need him in the sequel. I think control is one of Eric’s main vampire qualities, probably something he had as a human too so I like to keep that quality with him even when he’s a newborn. Hopefully it’s not too far-fetched!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. murgatroid98 says:

    Wonderful! Gripping! Sad! Rage inspiring! Rage against Niall that is. I’m so glad they killed Russell. He won’t be bothering them in the future. Glad Oren is alive and Godric found him. I sure hope he can help Godric save Sookie and Eric. Of course, I’m hoping Godric can be with Sieglinde again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladytarara says:

      There will be some rescuing happening in the fifth and final instalment. Niall rage is good rage! He is pretty bad but Russell is at least gone – he definitely won’t be a problem anymore. Niall however will be more tricky to kill off – mostly cos he needs to hang round for the sequel. Seiglinde and Godric are quite the pair – she has certainly got some witchy powers even as a shade and this won’t be the last he sees of her.

      Like

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