Two months later . . .
The opulent sun room of Sophie-Anne Leclerq, the Queen of Louisiana, has been transformed from a pool room to an elegant Venetian masquerade ball. The room is empty except for the catering staff and event planners that are attending to the last-minute details. Tonight is the night of the Monarch’s Ball, the annual ball to celebrate her reign as monarch. Despite Sophie-Anne being in serious financial trouble with the IRS, she spared no expense with the party. André had tried to have her cancel the ball, but she refused. Being the child she is, she threw a temper tantrum, stating she would not be made to look like a pauper in front of other vampires. She turned on him in her rage, shredding the skin from his face with her fingernails. She shouted at him that she has an image to uphold. Nothing and no one, especially a lowly human organization, was going to keep her from having the lavish affair she was determined to have.
Each year, the party’s theme was changed, and this year is no different. Because of Sophie-Anne’s love of opulence, she settled on a masquerade ball. She spared no expense on her dress; she commissioned a custom-made dress from a designer in New York. The dress is white, which contrasts starkly with her red hair, and strapless with a sweetheart neckline which makes the dress hug to her curves. The bodice has diamonds and pearls sewn into the fabric with gold thread to make the dress sparkle. The bodice gives way to a straight skirt with a slight train at the bottom. The masquerade mask is also custom-made; it was molded to fit Sophie-Anne’s face perfectly. The mask has lace sewn around the edges and is decorated with strands of pearls and yellow sapphires with white feathers accentuating the right side of the mask. Sophie-Anne had also ordered coordinating outfits and masks for her progeny. Of course, their costumes were nowhere near as opulent as hers; she is the Queen, no one will outshine her.
Sophie-Anne smiles at her reflection in the mirror as she takes in her appearance; to her eye, she looks regal and elegant. Her smile widens even more as she thinks of how the evening will end with her finally getting the fairy-hybrid she desires as well as the Viking meeting his True Death. Words cannot adequately describe the sense of rage that had taken root in Sophie-Anne when Hadley returned to New Orléans without her cousin. Before Sophie-Anne could order her punishment, Hadley informed her maker that Sookie was no longer in Bon Temps. She had left without a trace; Jason had no information on Sookie’s whereabouts and their grandfather had died shortly after their grandmother. No one in Bon Temps knew where Sookie Stackhouse was.
Sophie-Anne, without any other options, called the Sheriff of Area Five. Pam reminded the Queen that Eric was out-of-town, and would not return until Friday. The Queen snapped that Eric was to call her the moment he returned to his post. Sophie-Anne’s fury simmered for days until the phone rang Friday evening. Sophie-Anne demanded to know Compton’s whereabouts since she had been unable to contact him. It seems Bill Compton had disappeared without a trace weeks ago. Eric informed the Queen he had no idea where Bill was; the Civil War veteran had not filed any paperwork with him indicating his intention to leave the area. In fact, during Eric’s disappearance, Compton’s house as well as the nest of a trio of vampires in Monroe had burned to the ground. Pam and Thalia traced the attack back to a group of known vampire haters. Eric informed the Queen the attackers had mysteriously died in a single car crash. Due to Bill’s disappearance and the burning of his home, Jessica was left alone. Eric was irritated that Bill had up and left without taking his progeny with him, leaving Eric and Pam the task of training a baby vampire. Sophie-Anne, in her rage, suggested that Eric stake the newborn vampire as a lesson to Compton, but Eric refused. He said as much as the red-headed vampire annoyed him, she was actually drawing customers into in his bar. Sophie-Anne ordered Eric to contact Compton’s maker, but that was also a dead-end. Before the conversation ended, Eric informed the Queen to expect a couriered package from him containing the sheriff’s paperwork for the last six weeks.
Sophie-Anne’s smile falters as she remembers receiving the package from the Viking. There was the usual paperwork of business applications, residency requests, and estate information for those vampires that had met the True Death. But it was the last paperwork in the package that caused Sophie-Anne to destroy her throne room; the paperwork indicating the bonding of Eric Northman to Sookie Stackhouse.
HOW DARE HE?!?!?!?!?!?!Sophie-Anne’s rage threatens to rise to the surface again as she recalls the unabashed joy in Eric’s voice when she had called to confirm that he had bonded himself to a human. He explained that he had known Sookie for years since she was raised by Godric. He had always been fascinated by the vivacious blonde, but he wanted to wait until she was ready to bond to her. André was forced to finish the telephone call for her since she went into a blind rage, destroying everything in her office. She was so angry that she drained three of the donors in her donor pool; André had then been forced to dispose of the bodies.
The next evening, Sophie-Anne had risen with a plan. She informed her children that the night of the Monarch’s Ball they would be executing the Viking and his progeny. The Viking thought he was above the law; he thought he was better than her; he disrespected her. He would be reminded that SHE is Queen of Louisiana; and EVERY subject must obey her. Before he would meet his True Death, however, he would watch as she turned his precious bonded into her fifth child. Sookie would spend eternity paying for the Viking’s transgressions.
At the thought of getting what she finally wants, Sophie-Anne’s fangs drop in pleasure. She calls down to the donors’ quarters, demanding three donors be sent to her room. She feels like celebrating her victory a little early.
Several hours later, the ballroom is filled to capacity with the upper echelon of vampire hierarchy. Monarchs from other kingdoms and members of the AVL mingle among those humans and Weres gifted with an invitation. Everyone wears their finest, but Sophie-Anne is pleased to note no one looks as good as her. After all, she is the Queen; she should shine above all others.
Sophie-Anne looks around the ballroom noting her children in position around the room. Her progeny all wear the same mask. The masks are gold and blue, a tribute to the state flag of Louisiana. The mask worn by Hadley and the Berts is a partial mask, only covering the eyes and the nose.
André’s mask is different; while it is also blue and gold, the mask covers his entire face. It enables him to move through the crowd without anyone knowing who he is, which is exactly what Sophie-Anne wanted. André is the one Sophie-Anne has tasked with taking out the Viking as he is the eldest of her children.
Speaking of the Viking . . . Sophie-Anne looks around the ballroom, her irritation mounting when she does not find the tall stature of the Sheriff of Area Five. Fucking Northman, Sophie-Anne thinks to herself. Once again he disrespected her by not showing up on time. Sophie-Anne had instructed all of her sheriffs to arrive by 10:00 pm. It is nearly midnight, and there has been no sign of the Viking. Sophie-Anne calls for André through the maker/child bond and he instantly appears at her side.
André appears at her side instantly. “My Queen, how may I be of assistance?”
She hisses at him in frustration, “Where is the Viking? He should have been here two hours ago. He insults me by not attending my ball. People have noticed that he is not here and they are commenting on it.”
Before André can respond, a vampire dressed impeccably in a black tuxedo with a black shirt and red tie appears before the Queen. His face is completely covered by a black mask. Sophie-Anne and André do not recognize the vampire.
“My beautiful lady, you would honor me by granting me the pleasure of your company for the next dance,” the vampire says while bowing with a flourish before Sophie-Anne. He produces a red rose as an offering for the Queen.
Sophie-Anne, always susceptible to flattery, giggles like a school girl at the attention from the vampire. She takes the rose from the vampire, bringing it to her nose. She inhales deeply before sliding the solitary bloom down her skin to tuck the rose in her cleavage. “I would be honored to share a dance with such a gallant gentleman.” Sophie-Anne places her hand in the vampire’s outstretched hand. The couple makes a striking pair as they move towards the dance floor, her in all white and him in all black. Many make note of the couple as they begin waltzing to the opening strains of the music coming from the live orchestra at the far end of the room.
They dance in silence for the first turn around the ballroom. Sophie-Anne is intrigued by her dancing partner; she does not think he is a vampire that resides in Louisiana. She does not recognize him by his physical stature, not that she can see much with his mask. She is actually taller than him in high heel shoes, but not by much. He has rich dark brown hair, icy blue eyes, and despite his smaller height, he is muscular. His tuxedo is custom-made, and the bit of jewelry he wears is from Cartier, both indicating his wealth. Sophie-Anne decides to turn on the charm; she needs money and if he has it, she wants it.
She smiles at her dance partner in a flirtatious manner, “You’re a wonderful dance. I haven’t had as graceful a dancer partner since my time in France.”
“Thank you.” His voice is soft and smooth, but he offers no more; he is being intentionally vague. Sophie-Anne is intrigued, so she tries another line of questioning, hoping to get him to open up.
“That’s a lovely watch you’re wearing. Is it Cartier?”
The vampire turns his wrist to look at the watch. His eyes soften and even though she cannot see it, Sophie-Anne can hear the smile in his voice. “Thank you; my daughter gave it to me as gift.”
Daughter? Sophie-Anne is momentarily confused. She has never heard of a vampire referring to their progeny as a son or daughter. Before Sophie-Anne could question her dance partner about his choice of words, a hush falls over the crowd. Many eyes turn towards the entrance of the room. Standing in the doorway is none other than Eric Northman; his physique gives him away despite the mask covering his face. And he isn’t alone. Two women flank his sides; both are blonde and dressed to outshine everyone else in the room. The women are dressed to complement one another. The woman on the right wears a red silk sheath with a red lace overlay. The dress clings to her body like a second skin. Her eyes are covered with a black mask highlighted with red stitching and her hair is pulled up in a bun on the top of her head. The second woman is to the left of Northman, and clings to his arm. The dress she is wearing has a black lace bodice that clings to her breasts, cinched in her stomach, and then flares out to hug her hips. From her hips it falls to the floor as a black lace overlay against a nude sheath. Her eyes are covered in a red and black mask with red and black feathers on the right side. Her hair falls in curls down her back. The three of them stand at the entrance observing the room and allowing the room to see them. Sophie-Anne is furious as the murmurs begin moving through the crowd. She stops moving on the dance floor, forcing her partner to stop dancing with her. She tries to move out of her partner’s arms, but his grip tightens almost painfully to keep her still. She opens her mouth to speak, but her dancing partner beats her to it.
“Yes, my daughter. I am sure you have heard of her: Sookie Stackhouse.” The vampire releases her, and removes the mask from his face. Sophie-Anne’s eyes widen in horror. Her dancing partner is the Gaul: Godric, the maker of Eric Northman. He stares at her with venom in his eyes, daring her to make a move.
Sophie-Anne summons André frantically through the maker/child bond. She does not get a response. Sophie-Anne is ready to scream for her guards when an excruciating pain brings her to her knees. Blood tears fall from her face as she clutches at her chest, gasping for breath. Screams fill the room and a path clears in the room. From her knees, Sophie-Anne is able to see a pile of vampire remains on the floor; the blue and gold mask that André had worn sticks up from the middle of the pile of goo. Thalia stands over the remains, blood splatter on her bronze dress and mask, a Sai in each hand. The sound of fangs dropping resonates throughout the ballroom. Everyone is frozen, waiting for Sophie-Anne’s reaction.
From her knees, Sophie-Anne stares at Thalia with pure hatred in her eyes. “You fucking bitch!” Sophie-Anne’s voice rings out across the now silent room. “I will have your head for this! Guards!” Sophie-Anne calls for her guards, but no one moves towards the ancient vampire. Sophie-Anne tries to stagger to her feet but she is hit by simultaneous waves of pain, forcing her back to her hands and knees. Again, screams fill the air as two vampires explode, their remains landing on the floor with a loud splat. She tries to call her children to her side, but all the bonds have been severed. Sophie-Anne croaks out, “Sigebert….Wybert…Hadley.”
The crowd shuffles again to show two more piles of vampire remains on the floor. Standing over the remains are Russell Edgington and Stan Davis, the Kings of Mississippi and Texas. Russell holds his cane at chest height, the end covered in blood and goo. Stan holds a sword in one hand and a wooden stake in another.
Sophie-Anne staggers to her feet, swaying from the pain she is experiencing. She then rips the mask from her face as she moves towards the two neighboring monarchs. “YOU; I should have known the two of you would be part of this!What do you hope to gain out of this? You think to take Louisiana away from me? The Authority will never stand for this!” Sophie-Anne looks smug as she finishes her tirade against the two monarchs.
“I have no qualms with what they have done.” Sophie-Anne whirls around to find the leader of The Authority, The Guardian, standing beside Godric. “In fact, they acted on my orders.” Sophie-Anne blanches at The Guardian’s words. He smiles maliciously at her. “Guards, seize her,” he says with an imperious tone.
Sophie-Anne tries to run but she is quickly surrounded. Her shrieks fill the air as she tries to fight against her captors, snapping at them with her fangs, she is quickly subdued with silver handcuffs. In the time that it has taken to arrest Sophie-Anne, The Authority’s guards have moved into place around the room, making certain that no one leaves the room and that no one attempts to fight for the soon-to-be dethroned Queen of Louisiana. The Guardian has moved to sit in the throne at the far end of the ballroom. Standing on either side of the throne are the Kings of Mississippi and Texas. Standing beside the King of Texas are Godric and Thalia.
All the attendees of the ball move to the sides of the room. They have cleared the main floor. The guards move Sophie-Anne to sit on her knees before The Guardian. The sounds of heels clicking on the marble floor are heard as Eric, Sookie, and his progeny Pamela move towards the throne. They walk regally forward, their eyes straight ahead. They stop behind Sophie-Anne; Eric bows respectfully towards The Guardian as the two women courtesy. The Guardian nods his head respectfully and indicates that they should join him. Eric escorts his women to stand beside Russell.
“What is the meaning of this? I demand to know why you have delivered the True Death to my progeny! Why am I being imprisoned?” Sophie-Anne’s voice is shrill, and she squirms against the handcuffs. The silver causes her flesh to melt, and smoke rises from the restraints.
The Guardian gestures towards one of the guards standing near the exit. The guard nods in understanding and leaves the room. He returns quickly with two more prisoners in silver restraints; their heads covered by black cloths. The guard escorts the prisoners to the area next to Sophie-Anne, forcing them to their knees. The guard removes the black bags from the prisoners, revealing Bill Compton and Lorena Krasiki. The two new arrivals do not fight against their restraints; they have been sedated with silver.
“It has been brought to my attention that the three of you,” he gestures towards the three imprisoned vampires before him, “have conspired to break the laws established by The Authority. You have attempted to imprison a mortal against their will, intending to keep her as a blood slave. Sophie-Anne Leclerq and William Compton, you are also guilty of committing multiple blood offenses against the House of Brigant, the leaders of the Fae race. Furthermore, the three of you have committed a blood offense against a member of the Supernatural Council.” The Guardian’s voice carries throughout the room, reaching every member in attendance so that they understand the severity of the crimes committed. Murmurs begin circulating throughout the room. The condemnation of everyone in attendance reaches Sophie-Anne’s ears. She looks around wildly as she realizes no one in the room will stand by her side.
“These charges are preposterous! I do not know what the other two have done, but I have done nothing wrong!” Sophie-Anne’s shrill voice cuts through the murmurings of the crowd.
“Nothing wrong?” The Guardian sneers at Sophie-Anne. “Have you forgotten so quickly that you sent Compton to Bon Temps to procure Sookie Stackhouse for you because you suspected her of being part fairy?”
“That’s a lie,” Sophie-Anne cries. She feels her hopes of surviving diminishing by the second. “I merely sent Compton to Bon Temps to decide if the Stackhouse family would be receptive to vampires. My newest child, Hadley, was homesick and wanted to see her family. I was not going to allow her to see them if they were Fellowship of the Sun sympathizers.” Sophie-Anne smiles internally as she thinks of the plausible lie. Surely this will save her, especially since Hadley is not here to dispute the claim.
“You lie!” Sophie-Anne’s mouth drops open in shock as she registers Hadley’s voice cutting through the crowd. Hadley has removed her face mask and is standing by Thalia’s side. “You turned me because Compton drained me to the point of death; you were hoping that the sweetness of my blood would continue as a vampire, giving you an endless supply of fairy blood. You turned on me in a fit of rage when I rose and no longer tasted of Fae; you had André and the Bert’s abuse my body for days. You forced me to perform sexual acts on everyone in your court for your amusement. You commanded me to tell you about my family, looking for someone to take my place. That is how you learned of Sookie.” Hadley turns towards her cousin, her eyes quickly filling with tears. “I’m so sorry Sookie. I never wanted any of this to happen to you.” Sookie nods her head in forgiveness, knowing that Hadley was just as much a victim in all of this as she was. Godric moves to Hadley’s side, touching her hand with his as a sign of comfort and support.
Hadley draws in a breath and continues speaking, turning her attention to The Guardian. “Sophie-Anne ordered Bill Compton to Bon Temps to procure Sookie for her. It was part of his punishment for draining me. He was also ordered to turn Jessica Hamby against her will.” Hadley finishes her speech and visibly sags into Godric’s side. Godric places his arm around her, supporting her with his body as they move back towards Thalia and Stan Davis.
“Be silent Hadley!” Sophie-Anne’s eyes fill with a murderous rage as she looks at her only remaining child. “As your maker, I command you to release me!” Hadley flinched at Sophie-Anne’s words, but does not move from her place by Godric’s side.
“Hadley! I command you!” Sophie-Anne’s screams fill the air, but nothing happens. She opens her mouth to speak again, but cannot. Eric had blurred in front of her, striking her across the jaw hard, snapping the bone and causing her lower jaw to hang limply. Eric blurs back to stand beside Sookie and Pam.
“I am sorry, Guardian, but I could not stand listening to her caterwauling any longer.” Eric looks anything but repentant, a smirk playing with the corners of his lips. The Guardian chuckles at Eric’s action, waving his hand to show that all is forgiven.
“Thank you Sheriff Northman; you have done us all a great service. I have all the evidence I need to deliver my sentence. Does anyone in attendance have anything to offer as evidence?” The Guardian looks out at the startled guests in attendance. He rises from his seat on the throne, moving forward to speak to the assembled crowd.
“I know this may seem sudden to many of you. Rest assured that I and the other members of The Authority have been aware of these charges for several months. We have been painstakingly acquiring evidence against Sophie-Anne Leclerq. You have heard the undisputable testimony from her child, Hadley Delahoussaye. A child, I might add, that agreed to undergo a blood severing spell this evening to be free to speak about the heinous crimes of her maker. William Compton, while being interrogated by the King of Mississippi, corroborated the charges against Sophie-Anne. Finding out about Sophie-Anne’s plans, Lorena Krasiki kidnapped Ms. Stackhouse, intending to auction her to the highest bidder. For their crimes, Mr. Compton and Ms. Krasiki have been sentenced to the True Death.”
The Guardian moves to stand in front of Sophie-Anne, grasping her healing jaw in his hand. “As The Guardian, the leader of the one true Authority, I declare that you, Sophie-Anne Leclerq, shall be sentenced to the True Death.”