**A/N: And now, back to our regularly-scheduled (stop laughing) STC! Things were going to progress more in this chapter but then SOMEONE got all talky… Witches are cool, though, so we’ll hear her out, ok?
The faintest twitch of a lip was the only indication of Godric’s amusement. He could sense the witch’s magic and so knew she must be familiar with such things yet the appearance of the chairs had still managed to surprise her.
Funny how those who had access to powers always thought themselves the only ones…or was it also Niall’s presence? She did seem a bit aware of his allure.
Like the old goat needed another fan…pfft.
As the ancient vampire quickly studied his subject, he remained tensed to rend the older female to bits if she proved to be a threat – he trusted Sookie’s opinion but opinions could be wrong – yet he had to admit that the witch seemed sincere in her quest for vengeance and in her desire to be rid of any residual traces of Compton’s influence.
He heartily applauded both aspirations all the while conceding that it was strange that the woman had been able to tell in the midst of glamour she’d been glamoured in the first place.
Perhaps it had been Sookie’s doing? Or could the unusual cognizance have stemmed from her witching ability?
He shrugged. The vast majority of regular humans were blind to mental manipulations yet she wasn’t.
It would be his glad duty to remove any remaining glamours.
Such mind control was necessary in some contexts but as seemed usual for the irritating younger vampire, Compton had badly perverted his powers, and her powers, for his own subversive gains. Retribution was warranted on yet another scale.
Ah, to begin.
Stating that it would aid her concentration, Godric had Sari turn her chair to face the door with her back toward the room. As the elder vampire moved to remain before her, Pere smoothly moved in tandem to keep his guard at her back.
With an ease borne of both his power and the witch’s desire to be rid of any remaining influence, he easily caught and held her open, eager gaze.
Once in the woman’s mind, he did in fact discover and summarily release several other odd bits of mind control. They reminded him vaguely of a child’s first failed attempt at knitting and he wondered how that swamp scum had managed to survive past his toddler years…either version of them.
After neutralizing all evidence of tampering that he could find, he allowed a healing version of his own glamour to search out and repair any residual damage caused by those numerous heavy-handed violations.
Finally, with nothing left to remove or heal, he stepped back and released the witch from his mental hold, and noticed that she seemed subtly calmer.
“How do you feel now?”
Although still sitting in the chair, Sari gave what amounted to a full-body shake as a series of expressions flitted across her face.
“I can’t tell exactly what you did, but whatever it was, I feel better in a strange way. Could you tell…” her voiced tapered off as she pointed to her head.
“Turn to face the others and then I will explain,” Godric calmly ordered with only the slightest tinge of impatience. Now that he had accomplished his goal, he was keen to retake his place beside his slightly fretful Claudy and saw no reason to exclude everyone from this mostly unimportant conversation.
“Kids these days” was heard by the vampire population.
The beings who didn’t hear Sari’s lightly teasing mutter as she turned her chair back around wondered at the barely-heard snickers from the undead population.
Once the chair was turned and Pam and Pere had taken their places on either side of the witch and Godric had happily retaken his seat, he spoke.
“Yes, I found and ended several small, mostly inadequate glamours and remainders of failed attempts.” He held up a hand when he saw Sari starting to speak. “I do not know their function, but they are gone now. Your mind is now free from all influence.”
Sookie, Eric…everyone watched as the red-headed woman’s face reflected bitterness, anger, then wonder. The moisture suddenly flooding her eyes was a surprise to all.
After a few moments she cleared her throat.
“Thank you…,” her voice trailed off as she looked expectantly at Godric who promptly realized that the only name the witch knew was Sookie’s.
“Godric,” he handily supplied as he lazily stroked his thumb across Claudy’s lower back where his hand had settled on its own accord. The habit of automatically touching his flighty little love-bug with the colorful hair seemed to already be a thing, he thought fondly.
“Godric, then. You know, you felt entirely different in my head than King Leaky Dick did. You were wind and ease whereas he was hammers and rust.”
She shook her head quickly then said with a laugh, “I know I must sound crazy, but that’s really how it felt. But…I knew it,” she exhaled. “I just knew that there was something else going on in there. Just for curiosity’s sake I wish I knew what it was supposed to have me do, but I’m so glad that it’s all gone.”
Sari glanced at everyone else in the room and the expectant, curious expressions urged her to continue. “You can’t imagine how bad, how wrong, it felt being forced to use my magic in ways it’s not meant to be used. Don’t get me wrong,” she suddenly stated as though teaching a class, “there is no such thing as dark or light magic, magic is just a tool that does what the one wielding it tells it to do; that’s all. But I take a lot of pride in the fact that I don’t use my gift to hurt anybody, especially not the good guys.”
She glanced down at her hands which she flexed and relaxed several times as she apparently collected her thoughts.
Eric listened, of course, but while concentrating more on the blonde in his lap. He considered her words and wondered what all Compton had wanted the witch to do. That she even realized she had been glamoured while still under its effects surprised him, and he waited for a break in her monologue to ask about it. Pam, he noticed, was keeping a close eye on the woman by her side and remained ready to subdue her if needed.
“I don’t use it to magically coerce anyone into doing things that would hurt either themselves or others, and that’s one of the things that seeping jackass had me do. But no matter how wrong it felt, something in my mind compelled me to do it anyway.”
Noting the big blond vampire’s expression, she raised a brow in question.
“You can remember your time spent under glamour?”
Sari nodded with disgust.
“Oh, yeah. I could hear and reason and knew my own thoughts but all of that was overridden by what he ordered me to do. He had me spell quite a few people to do things or to forget things. My mind was aware enough to wonder why he didn’t just do it himself what with him being a vampire and all, but I guess he used up all his oomph on me. A lot of what he had people forget had to do with you and her,” she elaborated with a nod toward Sookie. “I feel like you guys need to know that no one in his big ol’ house actually wanted to be there, and while I hate to say it, a lot of them seemed better off after I made them forget…certain things.”
Sookie and Claudy both grimaced in sympathy.
“He also had me cast what I call “greed spells” so that his finances would improve and his “influence” would spread far and wide, whatever that meant. I don’t mind casting good fortune and prosperity spells but damn, you can’t expect good things to come from bad actions and you can’t expect everything you want to land in your lap without puttin’ in at least some effort an’ he wanted way too much, too fast. It was like he was desperate for quick money and he sure didn’t have any idea of how witch magic actually works. Between the mind control and my own personal hatred of him,” she continued after attempting a calming breath, “I didn’t have or bother makin’ a chance to tell him that spells of that type wouldn’t work particularly well for him because of the selfish greed and evil factors.”
To the amused expressions in the room she replied with a shrug, “Oops.”
Unexpectedly and with a gleam in his old eyes, Niall spoke. “A desire for beneficial luck is understandable especially in light of his plans for that evening, but other than the usual, I must wonder why he would have a sudden need for quick money.”
“Maybe the ’80s called his clothing back and he needed a new wardrobe?” Pam smoothed the soft material of her pants over a thigh as though she hadn’t spoken.
“Makes as much sense as anything and good gracious but that asshole had lousy taste in clothes,” Sookie agreed with her own quip. “Really, though, from what I remember he’s never been wealthy but surely bein’ a king brings its own money?”
Eric nodded, his face softening briefly as he glanced down at the telepath. “You would think…unless he has somehow lost whatever came with the title…”
“Or went into massive debt in some other way,” added Godric in a thoughtful voice. The logic was sound – the kingling appeared to be desperate in more than one way.
Everyone pondered the subject until Eric’s voice broke the silence.
“Witch, what else do you remember?”
“Far too much, Blondie.” She was fairly positive his name was ‘Ayerek Fucking Narthmin’, according to the oozing jerk’s version of pronunciation, but she hadn’t been officially introduced yet. “Ok, so some of the things he had me do were common enough, like spells warning of intruders or to let him know when specific people or objects are approaching – like you guys. I can easily add an alarm of sorts for if one or more of the wards has been crossed or broken,” she stated proudly. “He had me cast several different kinds both of those types of wards an’ tune them to alarm when you approached. Different wards were keyed to alarm at different distances.”
Both Eric and Sookie nodded at the explanation.
Sari then glanced curiously around the interior before baldly asking, “Can I get somethin’ to drink?”
For some reason everyone seemed surprised at the request. She shrugged her shoulders.
“Talkin’ makes me thirsty, what can I say?”
With an amused shake of her head, Claudy asked her what she wanted.
She stared at the now pink-haired lady and replied somewhat skeptically, “A nice hot cup of chamomile tea would hit the spot.”
Claudy nodded with a light smirk then waved her hand negligently. Immediately thereafter everyone save the vampires had a favored beverage on the table before them.
Although the long, low table separating the two sofas was a bit of a stretch for the bemused witch – she wasn’t exactly trusted yet so no one wanted her any closer to the group than necessary – a lightly steaming cup of chamomile tea appeared before her.
Noticing that the vampires lacked refreshment, Pere stood, nodded toward Niall, and popped away without saying a word.
Sari’s mouth was still partially open when he reappeared half a minute later with what to her mortal eyes seemed to be an oddly-shaped cooler. Once the three vampires had been served – for the comfort of the others their “beverages” were served in tall opaque glasses – the conversation resumed.
“Ok, Red, what else can you do?” There wasn’t a drop of her libation on Pam’s lips but her slightly red-tinged teeth momentarily distracted the witch.
Sari pointed to her own teeth as she mumbled, “You got a little something…”
Pam and, surprisingly, Sookie and Pere snickered, and even Eric fought a smile from being bombarded with his child’s amusement through their bond. Godric and Niall observed patiently while Claudy looked elsewhere.
“You’re a mess,” the witch teased the blonde vampire beside her before continuing her information relay. “So, yeah…it would take me a while to tell you all that I can do, but for the sake of this conversation I can ward a place or a room to keep specific or general people with ill intentions or specific objects out, but I’d never warded a room or an entire badly decorated house of horrors to keep people in, and that’s another thing he tinkered with my mind to make me do. I’m moderately skilled with healing spells, but not when it comes to vampires, so when he tried to force me to heal his disgusting wounds, it failed beautifully. I might could have done more for him if I’d truly wanted to, but somehow a part of me was able to resist even if it wasn’t by much. He never figured it out, though,” she ended with an evil grin.
Godric raised a brow in question while Sookie leaned forward a bit on Eric’s lap with his hands around her waist to keep her from toppling over. Her curiosity was obvious.
She knew that vampire glamour completely overrode a human victim’s mind and will – it was one of the main things she’d wanted to warn about and expound upon in her as-yet-unwritten book, after all – and was intensely interested in learning what the witch had been able to do…and how.
Sookie leaned forward a bit more to place her half-empty tea glass on the table and asked, “What were you able to tell about it all? What did it feel like? I remember tracing the magic back to you and then to your mind, but I could feel a weird fog in your head.”
Sari shuddered in revulsion.
“That’s exactly what it felt like, like there was a strange fog between me and reality. At first I didn’t realize what was going on, you know? Ok, from the beginning… About a week and a half ago I received a so-called “invitation” from the Doucheking of Louisiana. After negotiating via email until I got sick of looking at my laptop – his dubious majesty is a lousy cheapskate; he argued about every single thing – we settled on price and service. Business has been a bit slow here recently or I’d have told him to shove it. Baby got bills, though, so I accepted the job. Anyway, the night after we finally reached an accord,” Sari paused mid-explanation as the big blond vampire’s phone rang. When he answered the call and moved to the back of the strange room they were all in, she wasn’t sure if she should continue her tale until Godric nodded.
“I was flown to a private airstrip in Shreveport where some of his faux military-lookin’ minions picked me up. Before leaving, though, I’d left details about it all with several in my, well, you guys would probably call them my coven, but honestly, they’re just likeminded and supportive friends. Anyway I didn’t reveal any secret contents but I did let them know where I was going and more or less when I expected to be back. LeakyDick wasn’t sure how long he’d need my services though so I had to leave the return date a little vaguer than I’d have liked. The night you,” she nodded toward Sookie, “freed me from the glamour, after I left that horrible McMansion I contacted them and told them what was going on, told them to spread the word and to keep their wits about them. I do not trust that asinine motherfucker in any way, shape, or form. I wouldn’t put it past him to try to lure another witch in to do his dirty work now that everything he was plannin’ went to hell in that tacky handbasket.”
Feeling as though she’d covered most of the main points and that she could gladly provide more specific information if asked, Sari reached for her tea now cool enough to sip as they all waited for the gorgeous giganto-vamp pacing at the back of the room to finish his call.
When Eric’s phone had chimed, a glance at the display had him quickly if gently moving Sookie from his lap. Not the least interested in the witch’s story beyond the basics which he’d gladly leave to the others since he was already aware of most of what she’d said, he’d gladly strode toward the back of the “bubble” to speak quietly with Cataliades.
It was a given that his conversation was being closely monitored by the other two vampires and the oldest Fairy in the room even though that one was studiously studying his princely nails, and that was fine. Thankfully it was unlikely that Sookie would overhear anything; he would rather have a chance to hear any news and decide for himself if it needed to be softened before relating it to his Sookie. She had already been through enough as it was.
Physically she was feeling better…mostly, but his vampire senses easily detected the still drained state of her powers. The fact he hadn’t had a chance to feed her tonight was excruciatingly frustrating. Understandable, sure, but…
He knew the difference, knew how she felt to him when she was in her natural, “fully charged” state, and the difference to him was almost painful.
The conversation with Cataliades was blessedly short and, although not all news was good, the old demon was quite informative on several fronts and promised updates as new information came to light.
With a bland expression he rejoined the group by half-sitting on the sofa arm nearest Sookie’s head. Fortunately by then the witch had ceased her most recent monologue. But, before choosing to speak freely, Eric faced the witch…the one person in the room he had the least reason to trust.
True, she had been helpful when relaying information to Sookie, but…well, she was a witch.
Knowing the look on Eric’s face for what it was even though his child was once again touching Sookie – her hair did look particularly soft, he had to admit – Godric politely asked Sari, “Is there anything specific that you should tell us?”
The sooner they could decide whether to allow the intruder into their actual midst or…not, the sooner they could discuss his child’s conversation with the demon. Godric wasn’t concerned either way; his glamour was unfathomably stronger and smoother than Compton’s would ever be even if he were to be allowed to continue his vile existence.
Which he wouldn’t.
The witch placed her now empty cup back on the table and appeared to concentrate for a moment.
“Well, I wish I knew what might be important, but while it was all goin’ down there at the end I did make sure that Sookie knew what seemed to be the biggest deals at the time. You know,” she said in reply to the enquiring looks received from the pink-haired lady and the lady vamp, “the weird amount of new iron in the basement and about the wards which she then somehow helped me remove? I also made sure to think hard to her about the teams of men stationed at the three places, and about the wanna-be King’s oozy state. The wards and the iron and the teams of men were the main things, though. And I don’t know how she did it,” she turned to beam at Sookie, “but somehow she managed to make my hands quit hurtin’ during all of that.”
With a quick bow of her head she thanked Sookie then added with an angry huff, “I can’t forgive him for takin’ those kinds of liberties with my mind and my free will. I freely admit that I’m not anybody’s judge an’ jury, but I can definitely say he needs to be stopped from ever being able to do that kind of thing to another person, especially a powerful witch who would never hurt decent people. My rational mind, or at least what there was of it considerin’ his glamour, knew that what he was plannin’ to do to y’all wasn’t right; that’s why I made sure to show and think to you what I could when I felt your presence. You,” she said directly to Eric, “were supposed to get in but not get out and he had a lot of silver nets and chains and stakes and weird guns just for that purpose, and you,” she looked again toward Sookie, “were apparently supposed to end up in the iron-clad basement. Didn’t nothin’ about that situation sound or set right with me.”
Eric’s opinion of the witch rose – it had to. At the time he hadn’t considered how the witch had prioritized the information she’d shown Sookie, how she had made sure that Sookie and therefore he had the most relevant facts as soon as she realized what was happening.
There was no denying it – rather than understandably begging them to help her escape, she had worked with Sookie to make the situation as safe as she could.
That…he could trust.
“How did you escape, anyway?” The question came, surprisingly enough, from Claudy.
The witch grinned and…and cackled like a witch cliché.
“I grabbed my purse, walked right out the front door, got in my car, and hauled tail right out of there. I didn’t even slow down until I hit Arkansas.”
Thoroughly enjoying everyone’s varying degrees of shocked disbelief, she nodded her head firmly.
“I sure did! Somethin’ happened right after we lost connection. I don’t know what it was, but ol’ DiaperButt got real excited all of a sudden and started shoutin’ at people and callin’ up other people on that phone growing out of his hand and I didn’t think I had any reason to hang around. Once I crossed the state line I finally slowed down some and eventually looked for a place to hide out for the night. I stayed that day and night, and left to try to find you that next morning. You people are damn near hard to find, you know that?”
Sari glared briefly at everyone in the room but took no offense when Niall, Godric, and Eric all quirked a brow at her eloquent observation.
“But there was something just too fishy about King Leaky Pickle and all his strange ‘party preparations’ and I wanted to be sure you were ok. You did me a good turn and turn about’s fair play. That, and, well, some revenge would be nice, too.”
While the others chatted with the talkative witch, Eric took a moment to think. Not for the first time did he miss the bond with his Maker, but their long experience together still allowed each to read the other vampire’s nonverbal cues almost as easily as if either had spoken aloud.
Godric’s minute nod combined with a bit of a shrug and a glance at Sookie told him that the decision was in his hands depending on Sookie’s reaction.
As he turned his gaze back toward his Sookie, he wondered if her opinion of the woman remained the same. He didn’t think she’d have revised it especially not now that she knew a little more, but he wanted to give her the option. So he nudged her to get her attention then sent what he hoped she would recognize as a query through the bond and, although it took a moment for her to decipher what he meant, her eyes unfocused as she focused. Eventually she subtly nodded her head.
Eric and Godric then exchanged another short bout of communicative looks wherein each vampire’s expression morphed from politely serious to seriously angry.
“She was to ward and otherwise prepare the king’s residence to ensure neither I nor Sookie, if acquired, could escape,” he surmised through dropped fangs. “So, we have a pathetically weak, physically damaged king in desperate financial straits who is also frantic to end me to remove me from whatever nefarious situation he is attempting to bring to fruition and, more importantly, to get me out of the way so he can kidnap my woman for…unspeakable purposes. Does that about sum it up,” he asked bitingly.
Grim nods, dropped fangs, and a rumbling growl greeted his summation.
Niall stood to pace, a surprisingly effusive reaction rarely seen by those who knew him.
The empty beverage containers all disappeared with a jittery flick of Claudy’s hand before that hand grasped Godric’s for reassurance.
She hated that her whatever-times-removed cousin was in danger, hated that said cousin was still magically depleted, hated that she, herself, couldn’t solve the problem… If she wasn’t so terrified of vampires she would…ugh! With a sharp exhale, she leaned on her vampire’s strong, solid shoulder.
Sookie, too, leaned into a vampire for comfort. Her strong, possessive warrior…she was so thankful that he had survived the ambush, that he was beside her and that he would remain by her side. The effects of the drain on her magical core hadn’t been noticeable during the mêlée, another thing for which she was thankful, but that was entirely due to her link with her family. Had she not been able to establish then maintain that link, things would have been very different – Eric would almost certainly be finally dead and she would undoubtedly be wishing the same for herself.
But that hadn’t happened. Instead, albeit annoyingly weak and so easily tired it wasn’t funny, she was safe here in this strange “bubble” with those she loved the most…and a new witch friend. She’d been glad to ease Eric’s mind one last time about the witch’s honesty.
Now if she could only get some alone time with her warrior, life would be exponentially better…and then Godric spoke.
“What did our…lawyer have to say?”
**A/N: So yeah, hey there… *peeps up from behind desk* What did you think of this chapter? Next chapter: what the Dae said…**