Twenty minutes passed before Stan pulled off the main road and drove for a few hundred feet down a dirt road, surrounded by tall trees and thick underbrush. When he stopped the car and killed the engine, he and Isabel turned slightly in their seats to face me and Eric.
“This is a dead end road, but we can cut through the woods and be only a hundred feet or so from the main church. If he isn’t there, then we can move along the perimeter while you scan the buildings. The place is surrounded by woods.”
I nodded while Eric spoke, “Do you know where their main power line is located?”
“Yes, there’s a transformer near the main entrance.” Isabelle answered. “Once we locate the Sheriff, Stan can uproot a nearby tree to disrupt the power supply.”
I had to give Isabelle credit for giving the job to Stan. I didn’t think he should be anywhere near the church if we wanted to leave without bloodshed.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure Eric should be going inside either.
But I wasn’t going to tell him that.
Once everyone was out of the SUV, Eric and I trailed behind the Texas vampires as they led us, at inhuman speeds, through the dark woods. We made our way into a tall grove of trees, nestled up behind the large, and somewhat ostentatious looking, church. We had barely stopped moving when Eric looked at me with a raised eyebrow and impatience radiating from the bond.
Guess that was my cue.
I closed my eyes in order to concentrate as much as possible, and I let my mind drift over the people in the building.
“There’s about a hundred people in the building.” Without opening my eyes, I started telling them what I found as I scanned. I was sure to keep my voice low enough only the vampires with me could hear. “All the women and children are in the sanctuary with a few men. The rest of the men are spread out throughout the building and they are all armed with silver chains, guns with silver bullets, and wooden stakes.”
I heard Stan let out a barely audible “Hmph.”
I found the noise to be a surprisingly human sound to escape such a bloodthirsty vampire. More importantly, however, it indicated how little he thought of humans – even armed humans.
“What else?” Eric hissed, and I was pulled out of my thoughts abruptly.
I really needed something to help with my wandering mind. This was not the time to loose my concentration.
Deciding to fight my inward wayward ramblings, I refocused on the task at hand and looked for ‘bubbles’ in the church, indicating vampire minds.
It didn’t take long.
“There’s two vampires inside.” I heard someone shift their weight but my eyes were still closed and I didn’t know who it was. “They are in the basement. I can’t feel any humans near them.” I paused as I studied the bubbles some more. “One of them hasn’t moved but the other is pacing.” I considered for another moment. “I’m not sure but I don’t think they are in the same room.”
“Are any of the doors unguarded?” Isabelle asked.
I shook my head before offering more information. “The main door is the least guarded. They don’t expect trouble to knock on the front door.”
Eric’s voice was heated with hate as he spoke, “We’ll have to disprove that theory.”
I was still concentrating on the bubbles in the basement when a sudden realization hit me and I opened my eyes.
“Is Godric twice your age?” I asked quickly.
Eric blinked in surprise at my question before he stared into my eyes and slowly nodded his confirmation.
I turned to Isabelle. “And you are about half Eric’s age?”
While Isabelle nodded confusedly, Eric continued to stare at me.
Stan, however, didn’t like waiting for answers.
“How do you know this? And what does it have to do with getting back our Sheriff?” He sneered angrily.
I answered quickly to avoid increasing the tension surrounding us. “I only just realized the size of a vampire’s void, or bubble, in my mind relates to their age.”
Eric looked at me for a moment longer before nodding, “This is definitely useful and we will have to test it further at a later time. For now, how old do you believe the second vampire in the basement to be?”
I’m sure that if my face didn’t show my concern than our bond probably radiated it. “That’s the problem. I’m sure the vampire not moving is Godric.” Eric nodded in response as I continued. “The vampire pacing feels like he’s maybe five hundred years older than Godric.”
“I see,” was Eric’s only response as he straightened slightly and looked in the direction of the church.
After a couple of moments of silence within our group, Isabel’s voice startled me slightly. “The older vampire must be a renouncer.”
While Eric and Stan nodded, I could only look on in confusion. Isabel, seeing that I didn’t understand her statement, clarified her words for me. “In rare cases, those who have turned vampire come to hate their lives and feel that they must help destroy the race in order to atone for their believed sins. Other times, vampires simply grow tired of their existence and meet the sun, but they do not seek to punish our race.”
I nodded to show my understanding and turned to look at Eric. He seemed to be contemplating Isabelle’s words but I could also see the wheels turning in his mind.
“Since this older vampire helped to abduct Godric in order to force him to meet the sun, we must assume he is the first type of renouncer. As such, he will be even more dangerous because he doesn’t care for his existence.” Eric paused and looked at me. “You haven’t been trained to fight yet so your job will be to free Godric.”
I nodded in response. I knew I didn’t have a chance against a 2500 year old vampire.
“I’m sure Godric is being held by silver.” He hissed between clinched teeth. “Be sure you cover your hands before trying to free him.”
“Here.” Isabelle spoke as she reached into a bag she was carrying over her shoulder. “I brought gloves.”
I took the offered black leather gloves and pulled them over my hands.
“Good.” Eric nodded once in approval before continuing. “Isabelle and I will distract the older vampire to give you time to free Godric.”
He reached for the cooler of blood that Stan was carrying. “We may need Godric’s assistance in order to defeat the renouncer. You will need to give him the donor blood as quickly as possible.”
I swallowed uselessly as the severity of our situation started to sink in.
We were going into a Fellowship church where dozens of human men were armed with anti-vampire weapons. Not to mention the crazed vampire renouncer, who was much older than any of the vampires on our side, and he had no reason to fear final death.
Just as I was about to suggest we get more help, because I was starting to fully comprehend our predicament, I felt a strong wave of strength and reassurance enter me through the bond.
“We would wait for reinforcements from Godric’s area, but dawn is nearing and we know they plan to sacrifice him then.”
Understanding what Eric was saying, I worked against my fear and embraced the feelings coming from the bond.
“I understand.” I managed to say without an ounce of my fear leaking through into my voice.
I felt Eric’s pride in me course through the bond as he turned to address Stan. “After you knock out the power, join us in the basement.”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
Behind the tree line, fifty feet from the main entrance to the church, Eric, Isabelle, and I waited for Stan to knock out the power, before forcing our entrance. We had only been waiting a couple of minutes when we heard a series of large crackles, a ground shaking thud, and a resounding boom.
Then the lights flickered off and we started to emerge from the tree line when several lights flickered back on.
“They must have a back-up generator.” Eric hissed quickly as we all halted in our movements.
“I’ll find it and join you later.” Isabelle answered, before she was suddenly gone.
I took a small step forward to stand next to Eric. I wanted to reach out to him as I observed his rigid form and felt his tension and worry, but I knew instinctively now was not the time.
“Are the vampires still in the same place?” Eric spoke softly but firmly, his voice startling me in the quiet surrounding us.
I concentrated on the building and the voids inside. “Neither of them are moving now and the older one seems to be closer to Godric.”
Eric growled low and looked like he was getting ready to speak, when we noticed movement around the church.
Ten men came pouring out of the front door and started running in a military like form towards the direction I knew Stan went to kill the main power supply.
“We can’t wait any longer. They suspect someone has come for Godric and they may do something rash.” Eric seethed, before looking down at me with fire in his eyes. “We will use our speed to get past the humans and into the basement. You will follow my lead. Do you understand?”
My gloved hands tightened around the handle of the small cooler I carried. “Yes, Eric. I understand.”
Shocking me immensely, Eric’s eyes softened a little and he quickly leaned down to kiss me on the middle of my forehead. “Do not worry. We will survive this night together.”
Before I could recover from my surprise at Eric’s untimely sweetness, he was moving at vampire speed towards the church, and I was following on his heels.
As luck would have it, when we were only about five feet out of the tree line, the remaining power source must have been destroyed, since the compound was thrust into darkness. I could see only a very small amount of light coming through a couple of windows, and a quick glance in their direction revealed the light was coming from emergency exit signs. Nothing to worry about now, any cameras would be without power.
As we approached the front door of the church at vampire speed, I opened my mind to scan the other side of the entrance.
There were five humans guarding the door.
I whispered this information to Eric in a low tone that only a vampire would hear. He nodded in response, before surprising me by picking me up bridal style and flying up into the air.
We had just arrived at a spot hovering above the entrance when I felt all the guards direct their attention to a hallway opposite the front door.
“I’ll lead them away from the door and join you as soon as I can,” came Isabelle’s quiet voice as I ‘saw’ the guards all focus their attention on her and start chasing her down one of the church’s long hallways.
“The door’s unguarded now.” I informed Eric, and he quickly set me down on the ground and reached to open the door.
Surprisingly enough, it was unlocked, but unfortunately, the doorknob was also made of silver.
It was a testament to how focused Eric was on getting to Godric that he didn’t notice the silver before he touched it.
He hissed softly and removed his hand from the door. I didn’t wait for his invitation before I used my gloved hand to open it.
As I had said, the entryway was empty behind the door.
We walked into the middle of the large foyer and stopped to glance at each other. I think we both realized we didn’t know the way to the basement.
Before we could make a plan to find our way through the church, we turned around, as we felt someone else nearing the church.
“In case things went badly, Godric had us study the church layout from the plans filed with the city, when it was built as their headquarters.” Stan explained, as he walked in and went towards the left hand hallway. “Follow me.”
Within five seconds, we were standing in front of another wooden door.
“This leads down some stairs to the basement.” Stan explained.
I reached out with my mind and found the vampires again. “There are no humans down there. They have left the renouncer to guard him.”
They both nodded and Stan reached out to open the door. I reached out to stop him before he made contact with the doorknob.
“Silver.” I answered his questioning look.
Again, I was thankful for the gloves, as I turned the knob and pushed open the door.
The stairway down to the basement was almost pitch black, but of course that didn’t mean anything for vampires.
We sped to the bottom of the staircase and stopped again. Eric and Stan both looked at me. They didn’t have to speak. I understood the question.
The basement had one large concrete bunker style room with a long hallway stretching out from it. There were three doorways on each side of the hallway. It was easy to locate the vampire minds.
“The last door on the left. They are both in there.” I said, hoping the older vampire couldn’t hear my words.
There was no more planning to be done, and no more words to be said. Stan led the way down the hallway, followed by Eric, and I brought up the rear. As we approached the door, I reminded myself my responsibility was releasing Godric, and giving him blood so that he could help the others. The fighting couldn’t distract me.
The next two minutes would feel like hours, days, or weeks had passed. It was unbelievable how much could happen so quickly.
Stan ignored the doorknob and kicked open the door. He took one step forward and Eric and I breezed in behind him with Eric going to the right, while I stepped to the left.
My right foot had not even touched the ground, when Stan’s head dropped and his body disintegrated into a glob on the floor.
With my vampire mind, I was able to assess everything in the room in the milli-second before anyone moved.
Godric was chained in silver against a wall to my right. He was taller than me but much shorter than Eric. I would guess he stood about five feet ten. He had dark hair and dark brown eyes. His neck was secured to the wall, but his eyes were focused on Eric. He wore only a stained pair of white linen pants and his toned body was covered in tattoos. He had deep cuts in strategic places on his body, and the ground was covered in dried blood.
I understood immediately.
They had been bleeding him to keep him weak.
Tearing my gaze away from Godric, I focused on the renouncer. He was slightly taller than Godric, but a couple of inches shorter than Eric. He also had short dark hair and brown eyes. On his arms, and neck, I could see several tattoos, but my eyes were more interested in the thin silver chain that was only just now falling from the air.
And I understood.
The renouncer had wrapped the chain around Stan’s neck when he entered and used the thin, wire-like, chain to slice through his neck and kill him. Permanently.
In that moment I truly doubted our survival, but I shook off my thoughts and focused on my task.
Without risking a glance at Eric, I moved to stand in front of Godric.
What felt like a lifetime since we entered, was only mere seconds, but I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.
As the sound of an intense battle reached my ears, I shut it out and started to pull the silver chains from the wall. Even though I knew Godric must be in pain as I moved his chains around, he didn’t make a sound.
I freed his right hand first, and reached down to the cooler filled with blood to hand the bag to Godric. He didn’t seem to have the strength to lift his arm to put the blood in his mouth so I pushed it into his mouth and left it there. After all, he didn’t need to breathe.
He took the hint and I heard his fangs sink into the bag followed by a sucking sound, as I released his other hand and started to release his neck.
“More.” I heard him whisper softly as the bag, fell from his mouth. I stopped working on the chains and reached down for a second bag of blood.
We repeated this pattern while I removed the remainder of his chains, giving him a third and fourth bag.
He did not look at me while I worked. He kept his eyes trained on the battle behind me. That is until I gasped and grabbed my side.
I saw Godric’s eyes flash to me for just a moment before they settled back on the scene behind me.
As for myself, I ignored everything but Godric. I couldn’t think about what was going on behind me, or what I was feeling through the bond. I realized that the pain in my side was actually Eric’s, and it was tremendous.
I had to get Godric free and fed so he could help my Maker.
It probably only took a minute for me to feed and free him, but it felt like hours. However, the moment I freed Godric from the last of the chains, he was gone and joining the fray behind me.
The speed at which he whipped past me knocked me on my butt and I turned quickly to watch what happened next.
Even with my vampire sight, I couldn’t follow all the action that occurred in the next minute. I heard grunts and groans and I saw blood spray from the quickly moving bodies, but they were a thousand years older than me, at their youngest, and they moved faster than my mind could process.
I wanted to help, but I knew instinctively that I would only be in the way and get myself killed if I tried.
I stood up slowly against the wall and hugged myself as the battle raged on. I thought of Isabelle and wondered if she would be here soon. Would she be the one to tip the scales in our advantage over this ancient vampire?
Suddenly, the blurring bodies in front of me stopped moving.
Godric stood facing Eric with at least two feet between them. The renouncer stood behind Eric with the thin chain wrapped loosely around Eric’s neck.
“Godfrey.” Godric spoke calmly but firmly. “Brother.”
“We are not brothers. We are dark, soulless creatures simply created by the same monster.” The renouncer, Godfrey, responded harshly. “We have no families. We are the destroyer of families.”
I saw a thin line of blood start to seep from Eric’s neck, as Godfrey pulled the silver wire a little tighter. I felt Eric’s pain through the bond but he kept his face impassive as he stared at Godric.
“Do you truly believe we have the right to exist?” Godfrey sneered. “We are an abomination. Join me as I help clean the world of our vileness. Then we shall seek our judgment with the dawn.”
Godric’s head tilted slightly to the left. “Release Eric and I will join your cause.”
The laugh that came from Godfrey was manic and would have raised the hairs on the back of my neck if I were still human. “You think me naïve? That I would believe you sincere in your wish to join me, when you try to save another soulless creature with the same breath?”
I saw the wire grow tighter and sink further into Eric’s skin. “You have made your choice.” Godfrey spit out harshly. “I will end this one before continuing with my plans to see you burn at dawn.”
When I saw the muscles in Godfrey’s hand start to tighten, I knew he was going to do it. He was going to kill Eric.
I didn’t think about what would happen next if Eric died. I didn’t think about how my life would end when Eric’s did. In truth, I didn’t think at all.
I only felt.
I only felt the fear of losing Eric.
Of their own accord, my hands flew up in a stop motion as I took an unconscious step forward and screamed a firm but resounding, “NO!”
My entire body felt like it was on fire, as a tingling started at my toes and traveled quickly throughout my body and concentrated in my hands. An incredibly bright and hot light burst from my hand and shot across the room to hit Godfrey where he stood behind Eric.
Before I could blink, what was left of Godfrey, mere ashes, floated through the air and settled on the floor.
I know my mouth was gaping open as I started shaking my head back and forth. My whole body was trembling as I backed away from the sight before me until my back hit the wall behind me.
I wasn’t overcome with relief because I had saved Eric, or that the ‘bad guy’ was gone. I couldn’t feel any release from the tension of the night when I had just reduced someone to ashes with the mere flick of a hand.
Before I could complete my mental breakdown and spin out of control, Eric was standing in front of me with his hands on my shoulder. My eyes were just high enough on his chest to see the blood that still fell from his wound on his neck.
“Sookie,” Eric said forcefully. “Look at me.”
I heard the command in his voice and I looked up into his deep blue eyes.
“I command you to tell no one of this power unless I tell you otherwise. Do you understand?”
I nodded numbly.
“Say it, Sookie.” He shook my shoulders lightly.
“I understand.” I managed to croak out.
He nodded and scooped me up into his arms in a bridal hold once again. I noticed Godric was standing behind him.
As we walked out the door, Eric spoke softly. “Sookie, is there anyone outside of the door from the basement?”
Trying to pull myself together, I reached out with my mind to feel for any minds.
“No one’s in the hallway but the front door is blocked.”
Eric nodded and carried me up the stairs. Part of me wanted to tell him that I could walk but the larger part of me was still in shock. So, I let him carry me.
When we emerged into the hallway, Godric took the lead and opened a door straight across from the basement entrance. He seemingly ignored the silver burning his hand as he turned the doorknob.
I guess a little silver burn was nothing compared to what he’d just suffered through.
Once we were inside, Godric closed the door and led us over to a large set of windows. He unlocked them and pushed them open. Before I could comprehend anything else, we were all flying out into the night.
Hmm. Godric could fly. I guess that’s where Eric and I got it from.
Thinking of my gift of flying made me think about what I’d done to Godfrey. I wasn’t ready to think about that again just yet, so I looked back down at the church instead.
I was just about to remind Eric about Isabelle when he spoke in a normal tone, “Isabelle, meet us at the SUV.”
I don’t know how Eric knew Isabelle could hear him but, as we flew towards the woods hiding our vehicle, I saw a streak of movement indicating Isabelle was below us.
Barely a minute later, we all silently climbed into the SUV, and Isabelle was gunning the engine as she guided us back onto the highway.