Chapter 33 – The Horn

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise.  No copyright infringement is intended.

 

There was a quality to the roofs in this part of the world. They were steeper but, at the same time, they were more accessible. Most were roofed with tile, and that gave Thalia the vital handholds and foot friction she needed. Once, more years ago than she liked to think about, she’d spent most nights up here, above city streets, perched. ‘A gargoyle,’ she supposed as she and her kind might have inspired those sculptures. From below, with their pointed teeth and glowing eyes, she supposed vampires did resemble the gargoyles that graced older churches and public buildings. Wide-eyed faces with hungry mouths, that was vampires to this very day.

Now, humans weren’t so superstitious. They used binoculars and flashlights, their scanners and more to chase away the shadows and illuminate the night. Humans might call it better times. Thalia would not.

The woman she was watching exited the narrow door. She glanced both ways before hunching into her jacket and walking briskly toward the museum. This same woman had been in Tirana, then Cluj-Napoca. She haunted museums and old church records. She wasn’t the first. Before her, Thalia had followed a man through Paris. The connecting thread was their obsessive research into vampires, specifically dhampirs.

The creak behind her could have been the wind, but Thalia hadn’t lived this long by making assumptions. Her motion was fluid, the line of hand to arm to sword a blur.

“Fancy meeting you up here!” Karin was closer than she should have been.

“I could have killed you!” Thalia hissed softly.

“You could have tried,” Karin shrugged. “The Viking says you’ve found something.”

“Maybe,” and Thalia gestured before lightly running over the roof and jumping to the one below. “That woman,” and she pointed out the figure walking toward the old building that housed the records. “She started in Albania and has been working her way east. She has an interview with Beryl.”

“When?” It was the way Karin asked it. When Thalia stared, Karin added, “Your target better make it soon.”

“So, the old crone’s finally pissed someone off enough to end her?” There was only one reason Karin came to Europe. Generally speaking, there was only one reason Karin went anywhere.

“She’ll sell anything, information, stolen art, friends…” Karin looked away. “If you knew when this interview was to happen, it would be helpful.”

“Do you suppose Beryl has anything really useful to share on the subject of dhampirs?” Thalia asked.

“Well,” and Karin grinned, “I suppose there’s only one way to find out. That is, if you can leave your bird perch.” When Thalia didn’t answer right away, Karin said, “I’m not the talking sort. At the very least, you could find out the excuse that woman used to pique Beryl’s interest.”

Beryl’s lair was on the far side of town where the rooftops weren’t so close. The run there was fast, but once they were on land, the vampires moved even faster. “Think we should have brought a basket of goodies?” Karin chuckled.

“Don’t eat any candy she offers, Little Girl,” Thalia snorted. The doorbell answered on the second ring, but only after the curtains in the window upstairs shifted.

“You could have made a run for it,” Karin said as Beryl answered.

The tall, thin vampire just sneered. “Would I have gotten far?”

“Fair question,” and Thalia didn’t stand on the doorstep any longer. She pushed the vampire aside and walked in. The front hall was dirty, leaves on the floor. The dust on the small table beside the door was thick. “Don’t get out much?” the small vampire asked, sketching an X with her finger in the grime.

Beryl just wiggled her fingers, leading back past a curtain. “It’s all for effect. My garage is out back so I don’t use the front door much. It lets people see what they believe, that we live in underground crypts, communing with the dead.” She glanced over her shoulder, “Which appears to be prophetic. Karin the Slaughterer! Which of my many detractors finally worked up the nerve to send you?”

“You know I don’t come with a gift card,” Karin quipped.

“I’m surprised you came to the door,” and Beryl sat down in her perfectly normal living room. “I’d offer you blood, but I don’t like to eat and die. So much messier, don’t you think?”

“For a vampire who’s looking at her final death, you’re handling it surprisingly well,” and Thalia executed a slight bow before sitting opposite her hostess.

“We’re talking. That’s a few more moments in this world,” Beryl pointed out, “and we’re being polite. That gives me hope this won’t be painful.”

“I suppose that part depends on you.” Karin didn’t sit and she didn’t stray far from the door. She simply stood, hands crossed, her eyes everywhere.

“You were expecting a visitor,” and Thalia leaned forward, getting to the point. “A woman.”

“The researcher,” Beryl nodded. “She has a particular interest in dhampirs. I assumed she was working for your master, but I see now that isn’t the case.” The thin woman leaned back, her elaborately coiled hair almost looking as if it was pulling her neck back. “So, if she isn’t here gathering information for Eric Northman, who could she be?”

“Who made the introduction?” Thalia asked. “Surely, you don’t accept invitations off the street! Someone with your sorry reputation?”

“I am a purveyor of rare objects!” Beryl exclaimed in mock protest.

“You are a seller of whatever you can get your claws on, whether it’s yours to sell or not!” Thalia countered.

“For someone who’s not received by most of the monarchs of this world, you are very opinionated!” and Beryl smiled tightly. “What cemetery are you resting in, I wonder, since no decent vampire in this part of the world would offer you a coffin?” Beryl made a show of staring at Thalia’s shoes. “I suppose you keep your clothes somewhere else, but how do you get the dirt out of your hair?”

“My resting places are not your concern,” Thalia sighed. “The middle man?”

“And what about you, Karin?” Beryl asked instead. “Since I won’t live much longer, perhaps you would satisfy my last small curiosity. Who bought you?”

Karin didn’t answer. Instead, she pointed to the clock. “I’ll tell you what. For every question you answer, you’ll gain a minute, but for every question you ask, you’ll lose two. It’s a quarter past the hour. Since most people make appointments for the top and bottom of the hour, I’ll assume you’re playing for time, hoping someone comes to the door. As you said, this can be easy or it can be terrible. You know I’m capable of making these the longest fifteen minutes of your life.”

Thalia now stood as well. “Fine!” Beryl protested, holding her hands up. “I don’t know the woman’s name. She’s not local but she speaks the language. The information isn’t for her. She’s compiling a report to be sent back to the United States.”

“Who?” Thalia pressed.

“The invitation came from a mutual friend on this side of the pond,” Beryl preened. “Edward Madden. You remember him.”

“The English King’s Second,” Karin answered.

“The same,” and Beryl smiled at Thalia. “He says he saw you recently. When he mentioned dhampirs, I put two and two together. That’s why I thought this woman was working for you. Everyone knows your master managed to sire one. So, tell me, did the Viking’s son develop well or is he one of the sickly ones?”

“That’s two minutes gone!” Karin hissed.

“Bitch!” Beryl swore. “That isn’t fair!” but Karin showed no signs of relenting. “Fine!” Beryl hissed again. “Edward made the call. You know what a darling he is. I haven’t heard from him in forever.”

“That’s because you have no friends,” Thalia said sourly. “Who can trust someone like you? You wheedle and ply, then embroider the edges of whatever you hear and sell it to the highest bidder.”

“I can’t help it vampires are unscrupulous! If they weren’t so greedy, they wouldn’t be interested in anything I have to say.” Darting a quick glance at Karin, Beryl continued. “The woman told me she’s collecting folklore, anything about dhampirs, their traits, gifts. She wanted to know if they reproduced and if the progeny were known to have any particular gifts. She’s been spending time sifting through old records and trying to track down possible descendants.”

“Descendants?” There was something about this that worried Thalia. “Is she human?”

“How the hell should I know?” Beryl snarled. “I haven’t met her and now I never will!”

Then, with a flourish, Beryl’s head hit the floor. Karin stepped back from the brief flash of blood before the woman’s body slumped. “She asked another question,” Karin said shortly by way of explanation.

“You’ve improved.” Thalia didn’t say more. There wasn’t any point.

“I’ve gotten too much practice,” Karin sighed, wiping her blade on Beryl’s clothes.

“I take it I’m playing Beryl?” Thalia stood, helping Karin move the body. It would be easier to sweep away the dust from the floor once Beryl’s remains crumbled.

“Think that will leave a stain?” Karin asked, glancing at the blood stain on the sofa.

“She was old,” Thalia shrugged. “Probably not.”

“She talked a lot,” and Karin looked around.

Thalia glanced around, too. “It would be worth sweeping the place for recordings. I could see Beryl having the place wired. It’s easier to sell information when you can provide your buyers a taste.”

It didn’t take long. The body fell apart within minutes and Karin swept up the fangs. Almost as soon as they’d stuffed the clothes into a trash bag the front door chime sounded. Thalia swept up Beryl’s necklace and putting it on, headed for the front door. “Look around,” she told Karin.

The woman was a were. It was in her scent. Not wolf, but something close. “You must be that nice woman who called me,” Thalia said and then disengaged the lock, stepping outside, and pulling the door shut behind her. “Let’s walk, shall we? I don’t get enough opportunities to see my neighborhood and together, I can enjoy it through your eyes. You aren’t from around here, are you?”

“No,” the woman answered in English. “I’m from Belgium.”

“How exciting for you, to travel on an assignment like this. Are you a private investigator?”

“We went over this,” and the woman eyed Thalia. “I thought vampires didn’t forget.”

“I suppose I am suspicious,” Thalia said quickly. “Even with the Revelation, some things, especially for those of us who are older, some things don’t change.”

“Is that why we’re walking outside?” the woman asked.

“You caught me!” and Thalia laughed. It was more of a croak and Thalia realized her mistake. “Sorry! I guess I’m a little nervous.”

“You’re not what I expected,” the woman confessed, and when Thalia gave her a look, she explained. “The vampire in England told me you were a fixture around here, kind of a piece of local folklore all on your own.”

“I’m sure he meant it in the nicest way,” Thalia replied. “And what about your benefactor? The one paying the bills? What does he say?”

“I don’t know,” the woman shrugged. “I write the reports and email them to Madden. Then, the money arrives.”

“So, you’re not curious about who is asking the questions?” Thalia peered at the woman walking along beside her. “You seem rather young for this line of work.”

“I’m one of the foremost experts in this area,” the woman replied. “Dhampirs and the legends surrounding them was an obscure area of study until the American vampire created one. Mr. Madden wasn’t the only person to contact me. My colleague in Spain is getting similar inquiries.”

Thalia nodded, “Of course. Now that they know they can, any male vampire near the age would be curious.”

“It’s not just them,” the woman shrugged. “I even had a woman call me asking for a list of all known dhampirs. I think she was husband hunting.”

This time Thalia’s laugh almost sounded normal. “And what do you think you can learn from me?” she asked the researcher.

“You’ve lived in this area a long time. I’ve seen documents to suggest you might have been around when there were dhampirs living here.” The woman glanced at Thalia, waiting.

“So, you want to know if I knew any?” Thalia asked. It was obvious the woman wanted exactly that, so Thalia asked her own question. “You seem like a woman with good instincts, and you know how to dig. Who would you guess is asking for the information you’re collecting?”

“If I had to guess?” and the woman shrugged, “A King from the US. I think somewhere in the South.”

Thalia could see it was just that, an educated guess, and so when the woman made clear she was waiting, Thalia decided to bring the conversation to a close. “Sorry,” she told the woman, “Dhampirs were already legend when I was made.”

The woman’s eyes narrowed. “Well,” and she stopped walking, “Then you’re telling me something changed from the first time we spoke.”

Thalia didn’t bother hiding her sneer. “And you so quickly believed me! I wonder how many others have fed you foolish tales that you swallowed whole?”

The researcher didn’t look kind anymore. She looked sour. “Mr. Madden assured me…”

“Mr. Madden will assure anyone of anything for a price. I’m assuming there was money involved?” and Thalia barked another short laugh. “There’s a saying about suckers being born every minute. Maybe you know that saying?”

“I think I’ve heard enough,” the woman said shortly. She turned before saying, “Thank you for your time,” and then she started walking. She wasn’t running, but she wasn’t exactly taking her time either.

Thalia purposely stared after her and, sure enough, the woman glanced over her shoulder. ‘Good,’ Thalia thought, ‘You should be scared when you play with creatures like me!

By the time she made her way back to Beryl’s lair, the lights were out and the front door locked. She didn’t bother looking for Karin. The assassin would be long gone, either on to her next assignment or making her way back home. It was as Beryl had said. Thalia was resting in a cemetery, but this would be her last dawn spent in this country. Tomorrow she would make her way to Spain to track down the colleague the researcher mentioned and see if Edward Madden was running him, too. “Then, it’s time to have another chat with my English friend,” Thalia mumbled.

She stripped quickly, hiding her clothing in an empty crypt drawer. Before she shut down her phone, though, she sent her text, letting the Viking know all she’d learned.

xxxXXXxxx

 

“What time did you say it is?”

“Five minutes after the last time you asked!” Brigid eye-rolled.

Jason Stackhouse finished the rest of his beer, then rose. “Well, then, I guess I got time for one more.” He glanced around the porch. “Hunter? You ready?”

“Yeah,” and Hunter pushed off his perch leaning against the front rail. “I’ll help you.”

“Peter?” Jason offered.

Peter leaned over his fiddle far enough to look at the full beer sitting at his feet. “Sure, I could use another warm beer.”

“He’s fine!” Brigid scolded. She nudged Rick who was leaning against her knees. “What about you? You’re drinking for three now!”

Rick tipped the mostly empty bottle. “Sure.” He’d arrived home a half hour ago to find the group assembled on his front porch. His Mom and Dad had their first national television spot tonight. They were speaking with a reporter from a national cable news show. “What do you think they’re doing right now?”

“Your parents?” Peter asked, and after Rick nodded, he gave a typical Peter answer. “They’re probably fighting.”

“I’m sure they’re not!” Brigid protested, but Rick found himself believing Peter’s version.

Jason pushed open the screen door. It was unseasonably warm and Brigid, who was always hot now, cajoled them into sitting on the front porch. “Pam comin’?” he asked, handing Rick another beer.

“Not if she knows what’s good for her!” Hunter sniffed. He had a bowl of pretzels and offered some to Brigid as he passed.

“No, thanks,” she sighed. “Just make me swell up.” Rick rubbed her ankle sympathetically. She was retaining more water and he knew it made her self-conscious. “You shouldn’t be hating on Pam, especially for trouble you brought on yourself!” Brigid scolded. “No one told you to sprinkle talcum on her sweater.”

“I thought it would look like dandruff,” Hunter shrugged. “I had no way of knowing it would make her itch!”

“You’re lucky she didn’t break more than your car!” Peter chuckled. “If it had been Karin, she might have removed a body part or two.”

“Where is your plus one?” Jason asked. “Ain’t seen her around lately.”

“Working,” and Peter resumed the tune he was working on. For anyone else, that explanation would not have passed without comment. This group knew what ‘working’ meant.

“She’s doing a lot of that lately.” They were all thinking it but Rick was the only one willing to say it out loud.

“She’s worried about some stuff,” Peter said like it was no big thing.

“She’s worried about you,” Brigid clarified.

Peter didn’t say anything for a long minute, and then as the silence grew, he sighed, setting the fiddle on his knee. “Yeah, I suppose she is. She found a grey hair. It set her back some.”

“It’s not so bad,” Rick offered.

“You know I never wanted it,” Peter answered. “I told her so, too.” He glanced around before his eyes settled on Rick. “I have to say, though, you make it look good, but then, you were born to it.”

“Don’t you ever think about it?” Brigid asked.

Peter set the fiddle aside. He picked up his beer and walked over so he could lay his hand on Brigid’s belly. “I do,” he nodded. “More now than I did before.” Brigid laid her hand over his and as they looked at each other, the baby under their hand gave a slow roll and they both laughed. “I guess the idea of sticking around to see this one and the next one is growing on me.”

“Who said anything about another one!” Brigid protested.

Rick watched them from his place on the floor. “I can’t think of a world without your music,” he told his friend.

“Now, don’t you get all mushy on me!” Jason hooted. “Being mortal is a good thing! If everyone decided to live forever there wouldn’t be no more room for that little baby or nobody else.”

“Good point!” Peter nodded. “Still, I’m thinking Karin and I have some more talking to do when she gets home.”

“I’m glad!” Brigid sighed, and then turning to Hunter, asked, “And what about you? Whose heart you breaking lately?”

“Same old, same old,” Hunter replied.

“Has anyone heard anything?” Rick asked.

“About Heidi?” and Hunter shrugged. “She’s in Mississippi. Stan hears from her. He passes tidbits to Aunt Sookie.” Hunter sighed again. “I don’t know why I care. She’s not coming back. Pam says she can’t.”

“Because she agreed to spy,” Rick stated.

“And vampires don’t forgive,” Jason added.

“Or forget,” and Rick kissed the side of Brigid’s knee before rising.

“Well, thank goodness you’re not that kind of vampire!” and Brigid held out her hand. “Come on, help me up! I’ll get the TV turned on,” and she headed into the house.

“It’s another fifteen minutes!” Hunter pointed out.

“So by the time I pee and get more water and get comfortable in that funky chair, it’ll be time!” Brigid answered.

As Rick picked up the dishes and glasses scattered around the porch, Jason asked, “How’s she doin’?”

“Amy Ludwig says she’s good,” Rick answered. “She’s tired, but I guess that’s normal for the last month.”

“She’s big!” Hunter half-whispered.

Rick glanced at the door. Brigid had become hyper-sensitive, crying at the drop of a hat. He waited until he heard her moving around in the back of the house. “Yeah, Amy says the baby’s going to be big, but she said not to worry. Brigid’s a tall girl and she doesn’t think there’ll be any complications.”

“She snapped at me for talkin’ to her belly!” Jason chuckled before asking, “Any idea what we’re gettin’?”

Rick just eye-rolled. “No and you better not ask her! You’d think it was some kind of state secret or something!”

“No kidding!’ Hunter chuckled. “Pam was pushing. You know how she is about pink! Anyway, she was wheedling about names and wardrobes; I thought Brigid was going to jump through the phone and stake her dead!”

“Yeah,” and Rick sighed. “She’s a little touchy these days. I call before I get home now. If it sounds like she’s had a bad day I have Kyle swing by Merlotte’s for chicken fingers. I just open the door, shove them in, and wait until I hear eating noises before I come in myself.”

Jason was laughing, “Yeah, I remember that! Don’t matter what it is! Rain, dust, or the dryer broke. It was all my fault. I got real good at sayin’ ‘Sorry’ and ‘Yes, dear’!”

“I know she’s uncomfortable, but I’m sure ready for those hormones to go away!” Rick sighed.

“You coming in?” Brigid called from inside.

“Yes, Dear!” Rick answered, giving an eye-scolding to his laughing friends.

They assembled in the living room, kicking back while the show host talked about how she would be sitting with ‘America’s Favorite Vampires.’ “Makes them sound like the Kardashians!” Peter drawled.

“I keep thinking this is a bad idea,” Rick groaned. “I mean, right now they’re some corner story in a gossip magazine. They start doing this thing and they’ll be front and center on every news outlet. I mean, that’s not my Mom! That’s never been my Mom!”

“When it comes to popularity, yeah, you’re right, but when it comes to standing up for the little guy?” and Hunter took another swig of beer. “When she thinks someone’s been done wrong, she can be fierce!”

“She scared me,” Brigid admitted. “For a while there, I knew she didn’t like me. It’s not what she says. It’s how she looks at you!”

“You know there are stories they tell about her down at Fangtasia,” Hunter added. “You ever see that bullseye with her picture on it behind the bar?”

“Yeah,” Rick sighed. “I’ve seen it. I heard the stories. Vampire Killer Sookie, but that was a long time ago.”

“Didn’t you tell me you’ve seen things, reading vampires?” Brigid asked. “You’ve seen your Mother kill.”

Rick turned toward his mate, “I wouldn’t have told you about that if I thought it would worry you!”

But Brigid wasn’t having it. “Oh, please! You’re Mother and I are good now, Rick. Frankly, I don’t mind knowing I’m surrounded by people who would fight for me,” and her hand strayed to rest where the baby was visibly rolling.

“Once Beansprout hatches, I’ll teach you to fight for yourself,” Rick proclaimed. “I don’t know why you’re going on about this.”

“Beansprout?” Hunter asked.

“I have the Jolly Green Giant in here!” Brigid explained to Hunter before turning to Rick. “I’m not ‘going on’! I know you’ll take care of me!” The words were kind but the tone wasn’t and as quickly as she’d snapped, Brigid’s eyes filled with tears.

Peter interrupted, cutting the brewing drama short. “They’re on!” and he stared at Brigid, pointing to the television. It worked. She caught herself, hastily wiped her cheek, and settled back against the cushions.

‘Hormones,’ Rick reminded himself. He caught Peter’s quick wink, and let go the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. ‘One more month,’ he reminded himself.

The host of the show made introductions and the camera switched to the armchairs where his parents were seated. Rick had to admit, they looked good. “Did they put makeup on them?” Hunter asked.

“They probably fed really well before they went on,” Rick half-whispered. “It makes them a little rosy.”

“Speaking of which,” and Brigid nudged him, half-smiling.

Rick nudged her back, all forgiven. “Later,” he mouthed and she blushed, her scent blossoming into the room. Rick’s fangs itched and he took her hand in his before laying it palm-down on his thigh. If there was one real positive about this stage of pregnancy, it was the sex. He’d been shy as she grew bigger, but the sensation was overwhelming. She was tighter and so warm he felt he could stay within her forever. Some positions weren’t comfortable anymore, but they’d figured out the ones that were.

Rick was thinking about taking Brigid in the shower when he heard the host ask, “But, according to the people we spoke with, you never wanted to be turned into a vampire, Sookie. What changed your mind?”

Rick focused on the TV. He had to admit, the camera loved his Mother. He saw the way her chin lifted and knew the question hurt her, but he figured only someone who knew her as well as he did would have caught it. “It wasn’t my choice,” his Mother acknowledged. She looked at his Father and her smile was real. “What happened to me was a crime, but I won’t allow being a victim to define me.”

“Victim?” and the host leaned forward a little. “Some people might question you calling yourself that. After all, you’re the self-proclaimed Vampire Queen of New Orleans!”

“Vampire Queen of all Louisiana, thank you very much!” Hunter chuckled, saluting the screen with his beer.

“Actually, it’s not my title!” and Sookie laughed in her charming way. “It does sell a lot of tourist tickets, though, and I’m happy to help out my little part of the world any way I can. If calling me a Vampire Queen convinces someone to come and see how amazing New Orleans is, well, I’m okay with that! They may come to see vampires, but what they discover is a beautiful city with a rich culture and the best food in the entire world!”

“Amen to that!” and Jason nodded. “You dish it, Sis!”

“Still, you knew each other before you became vampire,” and the host turned to Eric. “In fact, you’d been married by vampire law?” and the host let the question hang in the air.

“When we first met, vampires and humans weren’t allowed to marry,” Eric answered smoothly. “It’s not like that now, but it was during the time of the Revelation. Vampires had just come out, things between our races were tense.”

“Eventually, the frictions broke us apart,” Sookie jumped in. “We divorced and Eric moved to Oklahoma.”

“Where you married someone else,” the host jumped back in.

“Freyda was beautiful,” Eric nodded. It was the way he stared at him Mother after he said it that had Rick grinning. Rick recognized how he was manipulating the interview, but the Viking still worried about the woman seated beside him.

“But you were pregnant,” and the host looked sympathetically at Sookie. “How was that?”

Rick hadn’t realized he was squeezing Brigid’s hand so tightly until she shook him loose. “Sorry,” he apologized, but he couldn’t stop staring at the screen.

“Confusing,” and his Mother looked equally sympathetic. “After all, no one remembered vampires fathering children. They were nothing but some stories that seemed more legend than anything else. I knew what I wanted,” and Sookie gave Eric a look that let everyone know what that was, “but I couldn’t see how it was possible.”

“And, you never told Eric?” The host really was looking caught up by the story.

“Eric was married to someone else,” Sookie sighed. “By the time I accepted this impossible idea that our son was really Eric’s, well, it seemed best to let sleeping dogs lie.”

“But fate wanted us together,” Eric said. He was giving Sookie a look that could have melted butter.

“Yes,” and Sookie returned his look. “In the end, it worked out and now we’re here.”

“So,” and the host leaned back. “You proved it’s possible for vampires to have children… Well, the human way. There’re people saying that’s more natural than how vampires are usually… ‘made’? Is that the right term?”

“I usually say ‘turned,’” Sookie smiled, “but ‘made’ works, too.”

“Okay, then,” and the host waited. “So?”

“Well, for one thing, I think we’re the only ones who have produced a child this way,” Sookie replied. “We have a theory, but until there are more…”

“Dhampirs, that’s the right word for a child between a vampire and a human, right?” the host asked.

“It’s what the legends call them,” Eric answered. “What we don’t know is if this kind of reproduction is truly possible for all vampires or if this is something that just happened for us.”

“For example, the legends don’t say anything about female vampires being able to reproduce this way,” Sookie explained.

“There’s some thought that if it is possible for more than just us, there may be other factors…” Eric continued.

“Extreme age,” Sookie commented. “It’s never been a consideration, and now we…vampires, I mean, find ourselves trying to reset our rules surrounding progeny.”

“There are rules about progeny?” the host asked.

“There are rules about many things,” Eric grinned.

“To become a vampire is to enter a regulated world,” Sookie explained. “Sometimes I think it might be a little like being Amish, or something like that. It’s not a religion, far from it, but if you don’t follow the rules there are consequences.”

“We have clear direction about what is right and wrong,” Eric added.

“And, where are these rules written?” the host asked.

“They aren’t,” Sookie explained.

“But, if they aren’t written, how do you remember them, all these rules?” the host asked.

“A vampire has perfect recall,” Sookie answered. “We literally can’t forget.”

“Our code was established thousands of years ago.” Eric took Sookie’s hand in his as he took lead in the conversation. “When we are turned, this code is one of the first things we’re taught.”

“Thousands of years!” and the host looked wide-eyed before she said, “But, surely some things have changed over all this time!”

“Of course,” and Eric smiled, turning on the charm. “Any changes are discussed among our leaders. When a change is made, it’s shared throughout our community. After all,” and he flashed his smile again, “there aren’t so many of us.”

“And why is that?” The host sat back, and Rick knew this was the central message his parents would try to hammer home.

“Being a vampire isn’t easy,” Sookie sighed. “Not everyone is cut out for it. Sure, there are advantages, but as Eric said, there’s a lot of rules, and then there’s everything you give up! For me, the hardest thing was day. You don’t realize how many things are only done during daylight hours!”

“Human food,” Eric smirked.

“Chocolate!” Sookie groaned. “No,” and she shook her head. “It’s not easy.”

“Vampires realized this long ago,” Eric nodded. “That’s why any turning must be discussed and approved by a vampire’s community leader. Taking a child is a great responsibility, and the community must be sure that both Maker and Child are ready and fully understand what the change requires.”

“So, your turning wasn’t sanctioned?” the host asked Sookie.

“No, it wasn’t,” Sookie confirmed.

“What happened to the vampire who turned you?” the host asked.

“He’s finally dead,” Sookie answered, and then added, “He was selling his blood to V dealers and they turned on him.”

“So, a bad end to a bad vampire?” the host asked.

“It is said we are magical creatures,” Eric answered. “Fate, what you might call karma, works quickly with us.”

Rick snorted, recognizing the story for the lie it was. He’d been there the night they found his Mother. He knew how Bill Compton died and he knew the nightmares that shook his Mother for years after. He also appreciated how the truth could hurt the vampire cause. “So, what would you say to those in Washington who are talking about imposing new rules on vampires and their ability to reproduce?”

“I’d ask those legislators to meet with us,” and Eric turned toward the camera. “Talk with us first, learn about our community before you develop or implement these rules.”

“Do you think vampires should be allowed to run for public office?” the host asked.

“It would require so many changes,” Sookie sighed. “Folks would have to agree to move all their meetings to night time.”

“It is easy to be afraid of those you don’t know,” and Eric shook his head. “We have lived among humans for centuries, following their rules and our own. It’s how we have survived in every community, not just here in the United States. This conversation is the first of many we’ll be having, extending our offer to humans and their lawmakers. Meet us. Learn about us. We believe you will find there’s nothing to fear.”

“He makes it sound charming,” Brigid sighed aloud.

“My bet is every legislator who gets in a room with him ends up glamoured,” Jason chuckled.

“That’s terrible!” Rick growled, but Peter just shrugged, and Rick realized his uncle was probably right.

 

12 thoughts on “Chapter 33 – The Horn

  1. Fantastic update. I’m glad you had fun last week even though it was cold for your troopers –but the pics revealed a good time was had by all!
    Hmmmm……..Beryl was rather a stoic vamp as she saw her end at the hand of Karin. I guess Thalia was playing “catch and release” with the Were to see if she can land a bigger fish.

    Poor Brigid –I so remember that last month of being preggo –daughter was 9 lb 6 oz –a surprise to us all. Such a diverse group that have surrounded Rick and Bri –a were-panther, a human, a telepath, vamps……they have the same “allure” that Sookie has in all the supes she attracted to their cause.

    Now….with the Sookie/Eric interview draw more vamps to their way of thinking or isolate more, such as the older ones…?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. There was a bit to unbundle in this one. Rick and Brigid do attract people, but these are also people who are there because there’s implied danger. There are the bonds of family, but also of duty. Of course, they are both that little bit Fae, so it’s probably not just their personalities…
      Good observation about Sookie and Eric. Isaiah will be tying their work to fund-raising. Vampires can be both possessive and jealous, but if it works, they are as likely to clam victory. Of course, if it fails, they’ll be quick to throw our couple under the nearest bus.
      Beryl was old and living a dangerous life. She had to wonder why the stake hadn’t found her before, but that’s something you’d see with vampires from time to time. They just get tired of continuing, and when fate finally catches them, they aren’t surprised. It was something that was often mentioned about Eric, his ability to embrace and actually welcome new circumstances.

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  2. Karin found a gray hair on Peter..let’s hope the conversation he has with her ends up as they both hope it should. Love the pregnancy hormone references and the third trimester challenge for making love..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Karin’s heart isn’t given easily, and this reminder of her lover’s mortality isn’t sitting well. I can’t think of anything more terrible than loving someone so fiercely and being helpless as you watch them leave you.
      Oh, pregnancy! For those of us who’ve done it, it is an experience you don’t soon forget! Not only does this new soul share your body, it influences your behavior. It was, at least for me, that wind-up to understanding my life would never again be wholly my own. I wouldn’t change it, not for the world, but I recognize that had I not had my sons, I would be a different person.

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  3. As soon as Beryl said, How the hell should I know? I laughed. Her head be gone. Gotta love Karin. And now you have Pam wanting to know the sex of the baby. How much she loves pink. Either way Pam will be getting this baby a whole wardrobe. I want to see someone say no to Pam.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. No one says no to Pam! She hasn’t doubted her place in the world from the moment she was born, and its kudos to her parents, both human and vampire, that she feels that way. Certainly wasn’t Eric’s experience. Appius forced him to forge himself in a particular way and it’s only now, long after his Maker is dead, that Eric is able to embrace all aspects of who he is and who he was meant to be.
      I do like Karin! She tells it like it is – no bullshit. No wonder she and Thalia get along. Had it been anyone else cutting Beryl’s head off so soon, Thalia would have barked. With Karin, she just accepts it.

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  4. I am so happy you had your scout weekend. Fabulous memories you are making. Thank you for the update. What is the concern with descendants of Dhampirs? Is she being paid by Brigid’s Grandmother? Does Brigid’s family know of the link of Sookie and her fairy family? So many questions.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a great weekend. This was the 4th Klondike Derby I’ve organized, and it will be my last. Happy to help, but it’s someone else’s turn! Hunger Games was this one’s theme, and I ran the Archery station. For many of the scouts (both male & female) it was their first time with a bow in their hands. They had a great time, and well worth a little cold.
      Ah, why are they asking about dhampirs? That’s a question more should be asking.

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  5. I think I could read many many chapters of the “Excellent Adventures of Assassin Karin and Badass Thalia in Europe”…. meanwhile, adding another virtual candle to the altar of deities that look over Badass vampiresses… Please do not let Thalia meet the True Death… Surely she needs to be there to regularly babysit the Dhampir’s incoming progeny… They are bound to need Protection+++

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. Someone should write that story. They are quite the team – the Frankie and Grace of the vampire community… only meaner. As for Thalia (or Karin) and babysitting???!!! Yeah… I don’t think so.

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