*Chapter 7*: Chapter 6
AN: I apologize for the update delay. I struggled with this chapter; because I initially saw this story taking a very different direction…but when I quit fighting the muse and just went with “the flow” I was able to finally come to a somewhat satisfactory chapter. I hope.
My beta for this story, LadyDoughnuts, is on vacation, and so all mistakes are mine.
Thanks again for everyone who took the time to review last chapter!
Recap: Sookie traveled with Mr. Cataliades to Ponca City, Oklahoma to attend Eric and Freyda’s wedding. Pam accompanied her to the event, and they have exchanged blood to help support the ruse that Sookie is Pam’s pet. Meanwhile, Eric has been secretly plotting to overthrow the queen with the help of several of his allies. When we last left off, Eric had rejected Freyda’s advances and at the end of the chapter, Sookie and Pam were being escorted by Freyda and her guards into a room while Eric looked on down the hallway.
As the library doors boomed shut, Eric’s momentary paralysis thawed. He shot forward like a bullet, intending to wrench the doors from the frame to get to Sookie and Pam. But before he could enter, Felipe appeared in a flash, blocking his way, flanked by Hans and a throng of armed guards.
Felipe held his arm out, as he stood behind two guards. “Northman, if you value their lives, you will back the hell up,” he said through a razor sharp smile.
Eric paused momentarily, but his eyes betrayed his murderous thoughts as his hand strayed to the hilt of his sword.
Felipe looked down, and in a calm voice said. “And kindly remove your hand from the sword. Now.”
Eric ignored him, shaking his head once in refusal. “With all due respect, majesty.” He strode forward as the guards pointed their guns at him.
It took every ounce of willpower for Eric to refrain from relieving de Castro’s head from his shoulders. The threat of silver bullets alone didn’t stop him, but he reigned himself in with great effort when he thought of his vulnerable lover and child.
Eric give a frigid half-bow to Felipe and said, “King, the queen has agreed for me to meet with Ms. Stackhouse prior to the wedding. She signed a contract allowing this and my intent is to follow through with the meeting. Now, if you’ll please excuse me,” he said in a low and deadly voice, pushing forward.
Felipe nodded to Hans and the guards, who barred the way. Felipe matched Eric’s dangerous tones, his fangs bared. “If you value the lives of Ms. Stackhouse and Ravenscroft, you will wait until the queen grants you admission.” In the blink of an eye, his expression rapidly changed, his debonair facade clicking back into place instantaneously. “When Freyda has…visited with them, you are more than welcome to your allotted time that was agreed upon.”
Eric was livid. In all of his many centuries, he could not recall a time when he felt more enraged, made all the more poignant by his momentary helplessness.
He ground out, “I will wait…briefly…and then I am going in. There will be no more negotiations.”
Felipe sighed in mock sadness.
“Ah, ah, ah, Mr. Northman, you must reign in that legendary temper. You wouldn’t want something…unfortunate to happen to the ladies, would you? If you play nice, everything will run smoothly.”
Eric’s fists opened and closed, his muscles aching for violence. But he held himself back, for the moment. He listened for the slightest sign of aggression inside the room, prepared to fly through the wall if necessary.
Sookie and Pam were ushered inside the estate as soon as their car had been allowed admittance. Very little was spoken as they were escorted inside the lobby and taken through a side hall, away from where most of the guests were headed.
Sookie instinctively knew something was amiss as soon as they arrived. As they walked down the corridor, in the corner of her eye she saw the muscles in Pam’s jaw twitching. Pam shook her head infinitesimally as they were herded into a room by several guards. They remained standing as Freyda entered the room, her back turned to them momentarily as she slammed the door.
Freyda stayed facing the door with her hands flat on the surface for several seconds, her head down. In the blink of any eye, she turned around, her face serene and pleasant.
“Ms. Stackhouse, Pam, how lovely of you two to come to our wedding. This is such a special occasion for us. I feel so fortunate that you have come to witness our pledging.”
Pam bowed slightly with mock deference, “Majesty. Thank you for the invitation, we are honored.” Pam was feeding her bullshit back to her, as it was known to all that Freyda had wanted neither of them at the wedding. Eric told her that he had insisted on their attendance, citing that his child’s presence was not open to negotiation, and adding Sookie’s presence as an early addendum to their pre-nup contract.
Freyda gave a tight-lipped smile and sneered. “Hmm, yes. I see you both dressed for the occasion. Interesting choice of dress, Ms. Stackhouse. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that it looks like almost a…wedding dress of some sort.”
Sookie glanced at Pam nervously, unsure of how to respond. Luckily, Pam intervened.
“Uh, no queen, it is a gown that I had ordered some time ago, and it was delivered in the wrong size…Fortunately, it was Sookie’s size, and so…”
Freyda interrupted her as she strode towards them. “Cut the shit, Pam. I want you and that backwoods trash to know that Eric and I will marry tonight,” she continued advancing until she was face to face with Sookie. “And you, you will fade into the woodwork. You’ve been a toy, a plaything to him and nothing more.”
Sookie felt her infamous Stackhouse temper rising. “Freyda. You may force Eric to marry you, and he will probably get over losing me in time, but you can’t stop him from loving me…or me loving him.” She held the queen’s gaze as Pam approached.
“Freyda, you are getting what you want, why waste time bantering with the human?” She looked nervously back and forth between the two women, who were less than a foot away from each other. Pam was fully prepared to stake the bitch with her shoe if necessary, but knew that a complete clusterfuck would ensue. It was all in the timing…
Pam continued, “My master had mentioned that he was to meet with Sookie prior to the wedding…something about it being part of a contract?’
Freyda glanced at her. “I haven’t forgotten.” She gave an evil smile. “He is waiting just outside these doors.”
Sookie felt a jolt of lightning down her spine at hearing that he was nearby., “Eric is here, right now?!” She started towards the door, Freyda and her guards forgotten for the moment.
Freyda reached out and grabbed Sookie’s arm, yanking her back with a cruel snap. With her other hand wrapped in Sookie’s hair, she hissed into her ear. “Yes, he is out there, waiting for you, but first I have a little message for you all.” Freyda nodded at her guards. Two grabbed Pam, one of whom wrenched her arms behind her back while the other placed silver manacles on her wrist.
Freyda then motioned for doors to be opened.
Eric burst past Felipe and Hans, into the room. He froze when he saw Freyda grasping Sookie, looking immediately to Pam, who had been forced to her knees. His eyes narrowed as he approached Freyda while unsheathing his sword.
“You will release Sookie and Pam immediately. I don’t give a fuck about our contract. I’ll end you now!” He held his sword poised, ready to end her at a moment’s notice.
Freyda smiled, unfazed. “Hmm. Yes, well, it would be most unfortunate if Sookie was to have her throat ripped out before you got to me. Of course, there is also the issue of your child’s vulnerability. It would be a shame to lose one of our kind over such a simple human.”
Eric observed that Sookie was frightened, but he also saw the fire of anger burning bright. He felt torn. Events were not enfolding as he had planned. His allies were hopefully in place, waiting for the signal to enact the plan, but he had not anticipated Freyda’s immediate detention of Sookie and Pam.
He glanced at Pam and made a subtle hand signal to her, a question. She blinked twice, a signal for yes. She had contacted Miyamoto en route to the mansion and was given the go ahead. He just had to keep up the charade for a little while longer.
He sheathed his sword, trying a different tactic meant to stall for time. “Freyda, this was not part of the agreement. I will not go forth with the wedding tonight if you do not release both of them immediately. I will have Cataliades summoned, who will file a grievance with the council for your breach of contract.”
Freyda smiled as she let go of Sookie, pushing her roughly into Eric, who reached out and enfolded her into his arms.
Freyda looked at them with distaste. “As the contract states, you have half an hour with her.”
Eric couldn’t resist bending down and burying his head into the side of her face and hair, inhaling deeply and whispering into her ear, “You came, lover…thank you for trusting me.”
She turned her lips to his, meeting him in a brief but intense kiss.
Freyda interrupted, biting out. “At least have the courtesy of refraining from insulting me with your public display of affection. You will have your time together, but first, I have a message to relay to you from one of your friends.” She glanced at Felipe, who shared a smug smile with her. She then nodded to Hans and the guards.
The guards raised Pam to her feet. She looked livid and bit out, “This suit is couture. If the fabric has been damaged, you will be getting a bill from me!”
Eric stayed close to Sookie and growled menacingly when a guard began to touch her. “You are not to touch her!”
The guard backed up and looked questioningly at the queen, who coolly studied them before nodding her assent.
She turned and gestured with her hand, signaling that everyone was to be escorted down the hall. They were all taken down the west wing of the estate, away from where the wedding ceremony was to take place. Hans opened the door to a sitting room, ushering everyone inside. One of the guards closed the door behind them, and then another turned to a bookcase, pushing it aside to reveal steps leading down into a tunnel.
Eric froze. This tunnel was not noted to be on the blueprints and must have been added at some point after Freyda taken over the estate. If he had a heart, it would have been pounding, as he suspected that the stairs led to the underground system that his allies would be navigating.
Sookie looked up at him, fear rounding her eyes. Eric pulled her closer, giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. His other hand stayed on the hilt of his sword.
Hans and Freyda led the procession with her personal guards followed by Pam, Eric, Sookie. Felipe and the rest of the guards walked behind them. At the end of the stairwell was a large room that had held several silver barred cells. In one of the cells, a vampire was strapped to a chair, his head down on his chest. He was drenched in blackened blood and missing both arms, which were cleanly lopped off, close to the shoulders.
Sookie gasped when she saw the dark hair, at once realizing who sat in the cell. “Bill!” She leaped forward towards him, but Eric pulled her back.
She turned to Freyda and spat. “Oh my God, you bitch! What have you done to him?” She sobbed and turned to Eric. “Did you know anything about this?”
Eric shook his head, his mouth set in a grim line. “I did not.” He turned to Freyda, his eyes blazing in fury. “What is the meaning of this? Why has one of my Area 5 vampires been taken captive and tortured?”
Felipe interrupted as he walked up to stand next to Freyda. “Actually, Sheriff, he is a vampire in my retinue, and I was aware that he was brought before the queen. In fact, I ordered his arrest and transport.
Sookie continued to cry. “I just saw him the other day…he, he said he was going to stay behind and take care of things while you and Pam were away. He told me… he begged me not to come here…” She turned to stare incredulously at the monarchs. “Why, why did you do this to him?’
Freyda laughed and clapped her hands. “Well, why don’t we let him tell you himself?” She waved to one of her guards to unlock the cell. She shook her head dramatically. “Hmm, there seems to be a mess upon the floor. I’m afraid I can’t risk getting soiled before the wedding, now can I?” She giggled. “Felipe, would you do me the honors? Don’t worry, I will have one of my attendants clean your shoes.”
Felipe smiled and bowed. “Of course, my dear. He may be difficult to rouse, I’m afraid. Do you have any blood on hand? ”
Freyda nodded at Hans, who went to a steel cabinet that was in the corner of the room. Without a word, Hans grabbed a True Blood and stoically unscrewed the cap while entering Bill’s cell. Unceremoniously, he grabbed him by the hair, yanking his head up from off his chest.
Bill groaned softly as Hans thrust the bottle between his lips, pouring the liquid down his throat. Bill gulped down the drink as dark red fluid dribbled out the sides of his slack mouth. Hans continued holding his head up as he emptied the last of the contents.
Felipe entered the cell, fastidiously walking around the bloodiest areas of the floor. Peering into Bill’s unresponsive face, he sighed and spoke to Hans. “Wake him.”
Hans slapped Bill’s face twice, while still grasping a fistful of his hair. Bill moaned louder, his eyelids fluttering.
“Mr. Compton, please excuse the interruption. I hate to disturb your, ah, repose, but we wish to speak to you!” He smiled while he spoke in friendly, conversational tones.
Bill struggled to open his eyes, one of which was partially blood encrusted.
“Do you understand what I am saying, Mr. Compton?’
Hans released his hair and Bill slowly nodded his assent.
Felipe chuckled as he rose up, “Excellent!” He turned to Freyda. “He’s awake, majesty.” He smiled at Eric. “What did you wish to ask Mr. Compton?”
Bill groggily focused, his stare instantly zeroing in on Sookie. “Sookie?” he rasped. “Please forgive me! I tried to stop you from going…they came after you left…” He sobbed, “God, they said you would be safe if I told them the truth. They said you’d….”
Felipe backhanded him and spoke softly in his ear. “Oh, she is not really your concern any longer, is she Mr. Compton? And I believe you may have answered any questions Mr. Northman likely had. Isn’t that right?” He beamed at Eric.
Freyda shook her head in mock disappointment. “Now Felipe, don’t presume to answer for my betrothed. I would bet that the Area 5 Sheriff would likely have some questions for Mr. Compton.” Here she leveled a seething look at Eric. “Isn’t that what Sheriff’s do? Interrogate suspects who are detained for treason?”
Eric stiffened. He kept his features as noncommittal as possible before answering, “I don’t know what you are alluding to, my queen, as Bill has not demonstrated any treasonous behaviors that I am aware of. And as Sookie mentioned, he was overseeing Fangtasia and my routine Area 5 duties while Pam and I were away.”
Freyda zipped in front of Eric’s face, her fangs bared. “Yes, he is quite the little helper, isn’t he? If it weren’t for his confession, I would have been none the wiser that you were planning a coup tonight.”
Eric remained motionless and didn’t reply to her accusation.
Freyda smirked and nodded her head. “Yes, Viking, I know all about your plan, your allies, their point of infiltration into my estate. Even as we speak, I have my elite guard intercepting your friends.”
Eric pulled his broadsword out of its sheath, quick as lightning and moved to cut off the queen’s head. However, she was pushed out of the way by Hans, who turned his back to Eric’s blade, which bit deeply into his spinal cord.
Freyda fell to the ground and screamed, “Take his sword, he’s deadly with that fucking thing!”
The guards rushed Eric as Sookie screamed and Pam struggled to break her bonds. It took eight guards to disarm him while they beat him with the butts of their guns, though he was able to tear off the head of one and thrust his fist through the chest of another, yanking out his heart. He continued to fight the guards even as he fell to the ground.
Pam got free of her captors clutches for a brief moment, beheading one by jumping behind him and yanking the chain of her cuffs around his neck while she braced her knee in the small of his back.
Freyda shrieked, “Put that bitch in one of the cells!”
Pam was dragged kicking and thrown into the cell adjoining Bill’s.
In the midst of the melee, Felipe grabbed Sookie and clamped a hand over her mouth. He pulled her away from the fray as he whispered into her ear, “Stay calm, my dear. You need to be smart about this. Let Freyda handle this in her way, let her marry the Viking, and you will live to see another day, I will see to it.” He paused as he watched Eric struggle under the pile of vampires. “I will annul your status as Ms. Ravenscroft’s pet, and you will instead come back with me to Nevada.”
Felipe kept his iron grip on Sookie as she struggled, tears streaming down her face.
Freyda looked at Hans with distaste as he dragged himself by his arms to be closer to her. She rolled her eyes at him. “Hurry up and heal, for Christ’s sake. I’m going to need you to help keep him in his place!” Hans looked up at her with an indecipherable expression on his face, but nodded his head in obeisance. She had one of her guards summon additional backup.
Freyda walked over to Eric when the new onslaught of guards finally overpowered him and pinned him to the ground.
She looked down at him and said, “Now you listen to me, Northman. You are going to go forth with this wedding ceremony tonight.” He looked up at her with gritted teeth, the veins on his neck standing out. “The barmaid and your child are insurance that I will have your complete cooperation.”
“My soldiers should have already neutralized your co-conspirators. But… if any were able to get past them, they are to stand down and surrender. If you aren’t able to leash them in, your child will meet the final death.”
She bent down and hissed into his face, “I may be centuries younger than you, but you have grossly underestimated me. You have fucked with the wrong woman! I have had enough of your shit, and from here on out you will toe the line. Now, I have made a deal with Felipe that he can have the telepath, but if you keep pushing me, I will end her. Mark my words.”
With this final warning, she turned to her guards and called over her shoulder, “Bring him. He has ruined his suit, but luckily I have another waiting in my chambers,” she turned her head in Felipe’s direction and sneered at Sookie. “She comes as well. I want her to see him pledge himself to me. Then do what you want with her, just keep her the hell out of my sight, because if I see her after the ceremony she is meat.”
Guards wearing thick leather gloves raised Eric up, as silver cuffs were placed on his hands and feet. He looked over at Pam. “Tappa inte modet, hålla sig till planen. Överleva, barn. [Don’t lose heart, keep to the plan. Stay alive, child.)
He turned back to Freyda. “You will not live past your wedding night if Sookie is harmed.” He began to struggle again in his chains.
Freyda shook her head. “So stubborn….” She nodded to the guards who fell on him, beating him until he blacked out. She smiled as she left the room with her guards, followed by Hans, who had healed sufficiently to stumble upright.
Felipe kept his grip on Sookie, who was screaming and trying to fight her way to Eric. “You bastards, quit hitting him, God, please,” she sobbed. She watched in horror as three of the guards lifted his massive frame.
Felipe chuckled as he dragged her to the door. As they walked down the hall, the lights suddenly went out. A series of explosions reverberated in the corridor, followed by distant screams.
Sookie yelped as she was knocked to the ground by the concussive force of a blast. She then heard the sounds of grunts, curses, and gasps of pain. She lay still, curled up in a ball, hoping she would be overlooked in the confusion. Suddenly, a cold hand grasped her arm and pulled her up. An unfamiliar voice whispered in her ear, “We must hurry…we’re here to help you and the Viking!”