“NO!” Sophie-Anne’s screams as echoes of her of denial radiate throughout the silent ballroom. She tries to rise to her feet but to no avail as the guards force her to stay on her knees in front of The Guardian. She struggles against their hold, but her efforts are futile. A guard brings a black wooden box with the seal of The Authority on it towards The Guardian. He stops in front of The Guardian, presenting the box to him. The Guardian removes a pair of black gloves from his pocket and then pulls the gloves on before opening the black box. From the box he removes a thick piece of mahogany wood with a silver handle on top. The guard then closes the box and steps away. The Guardian moves slowly towards the three condemned vampires, the stake poised above his head ready to strike.
The Guardian stops before Lorena. “As The Guardian, the leader of the one true Authority, I condemn you Lorena Krasiki to the True Death.” Lorena raises hate-filled eyes to The Guardian’s face, unable to react in any other way due to the fact that silver is in her and on her body. The Guardian glares back and stabs her through the heart; her body disintegrates into a pile of sludge, thus splattering those closest to her.
Compton falls to the floor in agony, writhing and screaming at the pain from the loss of his maker. His body flails on the floor like a fish out of water. The Guardian gestures towards Compton’s body in irritation. “Somebody pick him up!” Two of the guards secure Compton by holding him underneath his arms. The Guardian then raises his arm containing the stake again and swings it through the air towards Compton’s heart. Compton flinches and turns his head to avoid seeing the oncoming death-blow.
Seconds pass with nothing happening. Compton opens one eye to find the stake poised above his non-beating heart. The Guardian looks down at Compton in contempt. “You sniveling coward! For once in your life, be a man; accept your fate. Instead you hide from it. What on earth did Lorena see in you to grant you the gift of immortality?” The Guardian steps back from Compton, disgust clear on his face. “You deserve the True Death for all your crimes, but I do not wish to come in contact with any part of your remains.”
“Guardian, if I may,” Sookie says as she steps forward from her place beside Eric.
The Guardian bows toward Sookie. “Princess Brigant, what can I do for?”
Sookie nods her head regally towards The Guardian. “As the representative for the Fae race to the Supernatural Council. . .” Sookie’s words are cut off as the long silent crowd reanimates, their voices rising to near deafening levels given the previous silence in the room.
“SILENCE!” The Guardian’s voice thunders over the murmurs of the crowd. “You dare disrespect a member of the Supernatural Council in such a way?” The crowd falls silent once again, many of them now looking fearfully at the beautiful blonde mortal they had considered insignificant.
Sookie flashes a genuine smile at the crowd. “It’s alright Guardian. I’m sure it is surprising to many to know the Fae representative to the Council has changed. My family felt it was time for a change. After all, the world around us is changing. We must change with it if we wish to survive. It is my fervent hope that I may help all of us,” she gestures towards the mixed crowd in attendance, “coexist peacefully in the future.”
The smile fades from her face as she turns to speak to The Guardian once more. “However, there are those that would threaten our peaceful coexistence. They must be dealt with swiftly and decisively. Guardian, I humbly ask that you allow me to deliver the True Death to Compton. After all, his crimes are against the House of Brigant.” Sookie’s face is hard as granite as she stares at Compton; not a trace of emotion clear on her beautiful face.
The Guardian nods, gesturing for Sookie to go ahead. “As you wish, my lady.” He moves to return to his seat on what was once Sophie-Anne’s throne.
Sookie gestures for the guards to step away from Compton. She continues to stare at Compton, her body as still as that of a vampire. Compton, however, howls in pain as a red glow surrounds his body. The glow is faint at first, but it begins to darken and pulse as Compton’s skin turns red. With a last scream, the red glow envelops Bill’s body and disappears in a flash. All that remains behind are the silver handcuffs that bound his hands and two fangs. Sookie returns to stand beside Eric as the crowd watches her in awe. She places her hand in Eric’s and he squeezes it slightly, the bond flooded with his feelings of love and pride in his mate. The Guardian rises from the throne, slowly walking towards Sophie-Anne; the stake still firmly gripped in his hand.
“Wait!” Sophie-Anne screams as The Guardian moves in front of her. “I demand the right to challenge my accuser!” Excited murmurs sweep through the crowd. A challenge between vampires was similar to a duel, minus the use of pistols or swords. A challenge always resulted in the True Death for at least one of the participants in the challenge. The victor of the challenge settled the dispute; guilt or innocence was irrelevant. The practice of challenges between vampires had vanished as the human population had grown and technology had advanced. The Authority had outlawed the practice of challenges once The Great Reveal had occurred.
“Challenges are prohibited,” The Guardian states coldly. “And the laws of the Supernatural Council state that a council member cannot be challenged.”
Eric steps forward. “On behalf of my bonded mate, I accept the challenge of Sophie-Anne Leclerq!”
The Guardian regards Eric in silence for a few moments. He says nothing as he weighs the pros and cons of this situation. He knows The Ancient Pythoness has stated that Godric is to be the next monarch of Louisiana. By delivering the True Death to Sophie-Anne that will make Eric the King of Louisiana. The Ancient Pythoness was adamant that Eric was not to become the King of Louisiana.
The Guardian sighs in resignation. “Clear the room of all non-vampires; we do not need this turning into a bloodbath.” The Weres in attendance move towards the exits without haste; they do not want to involve themselves in vampire politics. The humans are more reluctant to leave; they are morbidly curious. The Authority’s guards ultimately glamour the humans into leaving the ballroom. The humans are then glamoured to believe an attack on the Queen of Louisiana took place, resulting in the deaths of her and her progeny.
While the guards clear the ballroom, Eric is surrounded by Pam, Godric, and Sookie. Pam and Sookie are clearly agitated by Eric’s acceptance of Sophie-Anne’s challenge; Godric remains expressionless, his side of maker/child bond eerily silent. Eric removes his jacket, tie, and shirt, setting them over a cocktail table. He is wearing black pants and a black wifebeater. His eyes are bright and wide in anticipation of the upcoming fight. He is confident that he will easily defeat Sophie-Anne.
“Eric, you don’t have to do this,” Pam says with concern in her voice. She loves her maker; he is everything to her. She worries about him, and this is an unnecessary risk he is taking. “That crazy bitch is going to meet her True Death tonight no matter what happens. Why give in to her demands?”
“Are you afraid?” Eric smirks at Pam.
“Fuck you,” she grumbles. Eric chuckles as he moves to stand before her. He cups her face in his hands, pressing a kiss to her forehead.
“You will stand by your mistress’ side,” Eric commands Pam softly. “Make certain she is safe. I expect Sophie-Anne will try to go after Sookie at some point during the fight.” Pam nods once, her eyes welling with tears. “What is this? You know I love it better when you are cold and heartless,” Eric teases Pam. His words may be light-hearted, but he sends his love, affection, and pride to Pam. She bows respectfully to her maker, sending all her love and gratitude to him. Eric kisses Pam once more on the forehead before stepping away from her.
Eric stands respectfully before his maker. Godric and Eric stare at each other, with no words exchanged between them for several moments. Godric finally nods his head once. “Do not be too cocky, my child. Her desperation will make her a formidable foe despite the fact she is several centuries younger than you. She has nothing left to lose.”
Eric bows his head towards Godric. “Thank you Master. I will not fail you,” Eric’s eyes drift to Sookie. “I will not fail any of you.” Eric turns his attention back to Godric.
Godric smiles affectionately at Eric, “You have never failed me, my child.” The smile vanishes from his face, replaced by a steely determination that is frightening in its intensity. “No harm will come to Sookie; you have my word.”
Eric nods his head gratefully to Godric. He finally turns his attention to his beautiful mate. Sookie tries to smile, but the smile quickly turns to tears. “Min älskade, you know I hate your tears.” Eric brushes the tears from Sookie’s face, bringing the tears to his lips.
A sob escapes Sookie’s lips, but the tears stop falling. Eric brushes his thumbs against Sookie’s cheeks. “Lover, I have to do this.” He begs for her understanding in their bond. The Viking and vampire in him are both demanding that he protect his mate. After everything that has happened to Sookie, he needs to exact revenge against the one held responsible.
Sookie nods her head once. She understands Eric’s need to defend and protect her; she feels the same way about him. It does not mean she relishes the idea of watching him battle the condemned queen. She pulls his head down to brush her lips softly against his. She pulls back to stare at him. “Make it quick, Eric.”
Eric nods in agreement, his lips brushing against hers once more. “Stay behind Pam and Thalia. I cannot worry about your safety too.”
Sookie agrees and moves back beside the vacant throne. Pam and Thalia move directly in front of Sookie. They are so close to the telepath that Sookie finds it hard to have enough space to breathe. However, she says nothing in complaint. She draws her mental shields tightly around her, blocking her end of the bond. She does not need Eric distracted in any way.
The vampires left in the room move to stand by the walls of the ballroom, their fangs down in anticipation of the upcoming fight. Eric moves into the open space on the dance floor. The Guardian drags Sophie-Anne to a spot across from Eric where he removes the restraints from her wrists. Sophie-Anne then brings her wrists up to her mouth, licking the blood from her wrists to clean herself.
The Guardian stands between Sophie-Anne and Eric. He raises his arms to gain the attention of everyone in attendance. “You are all bearing witness to the challenge between Sophie-Anne Leclerq and Eric Northman. This is a fight to the finish,” he says as he turns slowly to look at all those present. “At stake is Louisiana. Any interference by an outside party will result in the True Death. Any attempt by one of the combatants to attack a spectator will result in the True Death.” The Guardian glares at Sophie-Anne while making this proclamation. She rolls her eyes like the child she is. The Guardian vamps off the dance floor. “Begin!”
Sophie-Anne launches herself at Eric, her fangs and claws out. Eric side steps her attack, grabbing her by the arm and twisting it so hard that her shoulder and elbow are both dislocated at the same time. Sophie-Anne howls in pain as Eric spins her in a circle, sending her flying into one of her precious Greek columns that fill the room. The impact of force is so great that chunks of stone and plaster splinter off, landing on top of and around Sophie-Anne. Using this new weapon to her advantage, she throws a large slab of the stone at Eric, hitting him in the stomach and ribs. The blow doubles him over in pain, allowing Sophie-Anne the advantage of landing on his back. She sinks her fangs into his neck, drawing his blood into her body, greedily sucking his essence in. His 1000 year old blood helps heal her injuries, thus rejuvenating her. She claws at his skin, tearing and shredding at his flesh. Her fingers go for his eyes, intending to gouge them out but Eric blocks the attack, snapping the bones in both her wrists. Using Sophie-Anne’s arms, he flips her from him, sending her sliding across the ballroom floor. Eric is on top of her before she can lift her head.
The fight continues for several minutes, with Eric clearly having the upper hand. After her first attack, Sophie-Anne has been unable to inflict any damage on the Viking. She, however, looks as if she has gone a hundred rounds with Muhammad Ali; her body is bloodied, bruised, and broken. She is clearly slowing down as Eric inflicts more and more damage on her body. Their fight has caused severe destruction around the room; tables and chairs lay in pieces, cracks and holes are present in the walls, and scratches and gouges mar the once beautiful marble floors. Eric has managed to keep his body between Sookie and Sophie-Anne the entire fight, making certain that Sophie-Anne does not have the opportunity to attack Sookie.
Sookie has averted her eyes for most of the battle. She cannot watch for fear of putting Eric at greater risk. However, she has sensed that Eric is winning the battle from Pam’s reactions. As like the other vampires, Pam’s fangs are down; her body practically vibrates with energy as she watches her maker battle the evil queen. It is Pam’s sudden hiss that alerts Sookie to the fact that something has gone wrong. She raises her head to see Eric has been stabbed through the shoulder with what looks to be a wooden chair leg. His eyes glaze over with pain as he pulls the makeshift stake out of his shoulder. The wound goes completely through his body, blood pours out from his wound but Eric garners enough strength to stagger to his feet, and to start searching for Sophie-Anne. His eyes harden as he finds her at the front of the ballroom where Sookie is standing with Pam and Thalia. Eric growls loudly, his eyes are black pools of rage; it is time to end this, no more toying with his former queen.
Sophie-Anne’s fear spikes as she sees her death in the Viking’s eyes. In this instant, she knows she has no hope of defeating the Northman. Sophie-Anne searches the room frantically for an escape. Her eyes find none. Instead, her gaze settles on Hadley, the child that has betrayed her. Hadley had moved closer to Sookie earlier, acting as part of the guard to protect her. Sophie-Anne screams in anger as she vamps towards Hadley; if she is going to meet her True Death than so is her remaining progeny.
Eric’s eyes widen in horror as he realizes Sophie-Anne is going for Sookie. He knows he will not be able to make it to Sookie’s side before Sophie-Anne. “NO!”
Godric, seeing Sophie-Anne’s intentions, takes the Sais from Thalia’s hands as he stands in front of Hadley. He cuts off Sophie-Anne’s head as she takes to the air to attack Hadley. The head and body of the former Queen of Louisiana fall to the ground with a loud splat and thud as they disintegrate into a pile of blood and goo. The room is deathly still as everyone stares at Godric. Godric’s face is expressionless as he stares at the occupants of the room. His eyes travel to Hadley; she stares at Godric with a shy smile. The severing spell has truly worked since she is experiencing no pain at the loss of her maker.
“All hail Godric, King of Louisiana,” The Guardian proclaims.
As if one, the vampires of Louisiana drop to one knee, their right hands fisted over their undead hearts and heads bowed as they swear fealty to their new monarch.