Chapter 23- Counting Coup
Chapter 23- Counting Coup
For a moment, Eric stood in the basement completely torn and utterly frozen. He wanted to find Russell and kill him. He needed to find Sookie. Having her gone from inside him affected him more drastically than he could ever have imagined. It was like someone had hollowed out his middle. These two conflicting needs and desires locked him in place, and for a moment, he could not move in either direction.
A moment for a vampire like Eric was an eternity. Time was, the world moved too fucking slowly for Eric Northman, but that time was long past.
This was his world now, it moved so fast he could barely keep up, but he could keep up and the thought made him smile the same confident arrogant smile that he had worn for the last thousand years. Facing the mirror for a moment, viciously quashing the ache he felt for Sookie, he slid on his game face, the one that brought men to their knees in fear, the one that let the world know he was Eric Fucking Northman and took zero shit. He squared his shoulders, rose to his full impressive height and blurred out of the basement, following the bond toward Pam.
He could feel her fear, and her curiosity very strongly. She was close and she was still with Russell.
Russell was on his throne with Pam seated next to him. His legs were crossed and he was turned toward her, speaking in low intimate tones. Pam could feel Eric coming so she did not react when he suddenly appeared before them. Russell continued speaking to Pam as though the giant angry Viking had not just appeared in the room. He droned on, the very picture of calm; sending the clear message that not only was Eric not a threat to him, he was also insignificant.
Eric used his time to listen to what Russell and Pam were both thinking.
Fuck! Why is Eric back here? Where is Sookie? They shouldn’t have come back. Maybe I can buy enough time for them to get back through the mirror. FUCK! FUCK! Her face was the same icy mask of contempt as always and was very proud of her in that moment. As her Maker he had always known she was a simmering volcano of emotion. Now he could hear it all, and be impressed that she could be that worked up and look that cool. He sent her calm through the bond. She blinked but never broke stride, or let on that she was not hanging on Russell’s every word.
Fucking, Master! What would happen if I just killed him? I was told not yet, but fuck it. I give orders, I don’t take them. Eric sensing that Russell was about to move, immediately he used his mind to hold Russell seated.
A spike of pain shot through Eric’s head as Russell pushed back on him, fighting to move. He was unbelievably strong. Eric locked his jaw and pushed back just as hard, forcing Russell to sit there and thankfully, shut the fuck up, for once.
Pam rushed to his side, instinctively, his eyes never leaving Russell, he reached out and took her hand, pulling on the energy between them via their bond. He needed her strength to help him hold Russell in place. Once he had connected the pain in his diminished slightly, leaving him able to think again.
He knew he couldn’t hold this for long, but maybe he could hold it long enough.
“So, Russell, tell me. What’s it like to be The Master’s bitch?” Russell was so shocked he stopped fighting Eric’s telekinetic hold on him.
How the fuck does he know about The Master? Eric let out a contemptuous chuckle, rolling his eyes at his enemy. Sending a clear message that Russell was pathetic to not have realized he was looking at the one and only man who had ever kicked his ass in three thousand years. Pressing him, wanting to make him angry he continued, “Does it make your dick hard when he enters you, Russell? Is that why you rolled over like the little bitch you are and sold your soul to him?” Eric’s voice was much lower now, softer, and deadlier as he pressed on the ancient vampire. “If he were really all that, wouldn’t he be here now, Russell, wouldn’t he be here now to save your sorry ass from what is about to happen?”
Russell screamed and pushed so hard at the energy holding him in place that he managed to stand up. Pulling hard on Pam’s energy to support his hold, he brought her to her knees but he held Russell in place. He wanted the bigger prize. He wanted a chat with The Master. Digging deeper into himself he turned away from Russell, the very appearance of nonchalance, and pulled up a chair. He made it look contemptuous when the real truth was he didn’t trust his legs to hold him. Pam was still on her knees her head down. He kept his focus on Russell.
“Well, little bitch, does your Master care enough to show up when you are about meet your True Death, or has he abandoned you? Call him,” Eric said, waving his hand dismissively in the air and turning his face away in contempt, his tone conveying beyond a doubt his disdain for both The Master and his lapdog.
Eric had been listening to Russell’s thoughts while he pushed his buttons. Bill had said the night they buried him that Russell was ‘mad as a fucking hatter’! A year in quick dry on his own hadn’t exactly tacked him down in sanity.
His mind was addled, and when he was under pressure, as he was now, it reduced him to only brief moments of lucid thought, most of which centered on either killing Eric or crying for Talbot. The rest was just animalistic urges to please himself, fucking, drinking, anything that close up that aching hole in the middle of him. Right now he was fantasizing about ripping Eric’s arms and legs off one at time, slowly and then jerking off in the goo that Eric would leave behind on the floor.
The moments dragged into minutes, and just when Eric though that he would have to kill Russell without achieving his objective, he heard The Master speak to Russell.
I see I should have chosen my Champion more wisely. I didn’t take you for a fool Russell, yet here you are, held prisoner by one who is an infant compared to you. The one who you claimed to want vengeance on more than anything else in the world. The Viking is right, you are pathetic.
Eric kept his face blank, not wanting to give away his new telepathic ability. He did not miss though that the pressure The Master applied from inside, mixed with what he was doing outside, took Russell to a whole new level of crazy. The penthouse level of crazy, he thought and smirked when the thought how Sookie would have laughed at that. His own empty ache rose up then, again he pushed it back. One thing at a time.
Kill him, Russell, you know you want to, just go over there and do it. Show me what makes you worthy to be mine!
Eric felt Russell press harder to escape him, and then he felt blood in his ears, leaking from the strain. He was almost out of time.
“You know Russell, it’s too bad The Master is such a coward he won’t show up here to even try and save you. Don’t you just feel like a foo—“Russell cut him off with a crazy scream as The Master entered his mind and took control of his body. Here it is, he thought. This is where we find out if I guessed right.
He concentrated as hard as he could on The Master’s mind, which was, as he had hoped, now subject to the same rules that his vessel was. He could read vampire minds, and The Master had just entered a vampire, leaving his mind wide open to Eric. For a moment Eric was reminded of the sound he used to get on his car radio decades ago when he had to locate a station with a knob that turned. There was static, volume increased and dropped and then faded completely to come back nearly bending him over with its intensity. That, combined with the drain of holding Russell’s physical body in place, took him right to the edge of his resources. Pam screamed from the floor and he reached out with his mind to find Sookie. Please, help me, lover. I need you! Suddenly he could feel her there with him.
She was very far away, but she sent him strength through the bond. Calm washed over him, and he stood, facing The Master, feeling his hands begin to tingle. He held onto his connection with Sookie as tightly as he could and moved forward, into The Master’s mind.
“I must confess, Viking, I never thought you would make it this far. I wiped your mind, sent you back in time a thousand years into the timeline of another fucking world and still, STILL, HERE YOU ARE! Jones surely is one crafty son of a bitch. Vampire! Who the fuck would have guessed?” He shook his head in amusement. The funny was lost on Eric. Everything in The Master’s mind was centered in rage and being trumped again by his playmate Jones. He also sensed a modicum of grudging respect in him for the Viking before him. “I made you, do you know that? Every step you took, every experience that made you the warrior you are, it was my hand on the rudder. That was me at your knee, do you know that, Viking?”
Flashes too fast for Eric to track invaded his mind, he saw himself at different points along the way. He saw his father, Godric, Pam, Sookie…the ache filled him again, but this time he felt her reach out to him, and it was bearable again.
“Why?” It was the only thing that mattered to Eric. He didn’t expect to hear the truth but he expected to see it in his thoughts.
“Because I could,” was the sneering answer he got. In The Master’s mind though he saw differently. Flashes of Sookie filled him. Sookie as a child, Sookie as a young woman, Sookie with Bill, Sookie with Eric, Sookie with The Master, smiling happily as she sat beside him. Looking at The Master in exactly the same way she had looked at him this morning. Eric digging deeper into The Master’s mind saw Sookie rise from the throne beside The Master and he saw that she was heavy with child.
“No.” It was all he said. He said it in a quiet tone that sounded as though he were speaking conversationally over tea in the park on a Sunday. He took a deep breath and sent all his love, hope and reassurance to Sookie, along the bond. I will find you, beloved. I swear it. Hold on, I am coming. Then he let his hands light up and felt the energy of her power and her love run over his skin, caressing him like her hands and her kisses.
Love you, Eric. It came from far away, but it didn’t matter. Eric wrapped her words around himself and then he let go. Russell didn’t even scream, he just exploded into goo that rained down over Fangtasia. Eric fell to his knees then, too, exhausted. After a minute he crawled toward Pam, checking to see if she was well. She couldn’t move. They both needed desperately to feed and then to die. Eric helped her to her feet and went to warm bloods for them. After downing a bottle, Pam called some donors to come to Fangtasia and help them. Synthetic blood was not going to get this job done.
While they waited, she looked at him over her second bottle of blood.
“What the fuck, Eric?” He arched a brow at her, asking in his way what she meant by her query. “You just blew up Russell Edgington with looked an awful lot like a goddamned faery light bomb. You could have done that last year and saved us a world of trouble.” He shook his head, looking back at the bottle of blood in his hands.
“I couldn’t do it then.”
“But you fuck the Faery Princess, and now you and can shit light bombs from your ass?” He chuckled softly at image her words conjured.
“Something like that,” was all he said. She wasn’t ready to let go.
“Eric, you show up here through a goddamned mirror, bonded to a barmaid, half out of your mind high on love, joy and faery pussy, and I am supposed to just, what? Let that go? Tell me what the fuck is going on! Where the hell is Sookie? Oh, no wait, let me answer that one. She’s in trouble right? Because that’s where she always is.” Eric let her rant continue. She needed to blow off some steam after what happened with Russell. She wasn’t really expecting him to answer her anyway, not until he was ready.
His thoughts turned inward, processing his encounter with The Master. He and Sookie had been underestimated if Russell was The Champion to stand against them. However, now that advantage was out of the window. The Master knew he could channel Sookie’s power and he would be smart enough to prepare for all of them. Very likely he would also assume that Sookie could channel Eric’s power as well, and that was important because Eric was fairly certain that The Master already had Sookie.
He had not felt her until The Master entered Russell’s body. She had reached out to Eric through the crack The Master had used to enter this world. As soon as Russell had exploded the connection to Sookie was gone.
The Master has Sookie. Eric shivered, dread rolling in his gut. Pam immediately stopped ranting, and looked at him with compassion and concern.
“How can I help, Eric?” she laid her hand on his arm. “What were you doing tonight, Eric? I was out of it, but that wasn’t Russell at the end was it? It was something else.” He nodded, looking into her eyes. “What were you doing?” He smiled at her, pulling her close to kiss her forehead as he often did when he wanted to feel close to her.
“I was counting coup,” he said when he pulled back, a small grin on his face. She snorted, rolling her eyes. Eric had never quite gotten over his time with the Sioux. They had revered him, which never got old with him, as far as Pam could tell, but more than that they accepted him. He had regaled her with tales of his adventures for nearly a century. Before he could get wound up about it all again she pressed him.
“Fine, what now?”
“Now, I find my woman.” She hesitated.
“Seems like there might be more to this than just you finding your Princess, Eric?”
“Yeah, there is, but that is the only part that matters.”