Was this an ultimatum? I had to agree to the alliance after I learned their secret or Sookie would be my assassin? If so, how do you protect yourself from final death when the one hunting you can be fucking invisible?
I didn’t show any reaction outwardly to her declaration, but my response came through gritted teeth “Is that a threat, Princess?”
“No, Eric.” Sookie’s voice was defeated. “I’m trying to help you.”
“By threatening me?”
“By explaining the facts.” Her tone was detached. “Would you rather I tell you only the bare essentials and not warn you of the dangers looming all around you?”
“I would rather be afforded answers without all the cryptic fairy tales.” I growled.
I was surprised when Sookie seemed to grin a little. I was beginning to think her morose mood was unflappable. “I suppose you don’t enjoy reading mysteries either?”
“No. I don’t.” I replied shortly.
We both stood in silence for a couple of moments before Sookie spoke again. “Among fairies, our word is our bond. When we make a promise, we keep it.”
I nodded along with her statement since I knew this much about fairies. However, I failed to understand how it applied to our situation at the moment.
She turned to face me and any sign of her earlier amusement had been wiped away. “As you mentioned, however, fairies can be very cryptic. We word our promises very carefully and differing interpretations of a promise can allow leeway in how the promise is kept.” She paused before adding. “I have seen that vampires behave in a similar fashion.”
“Yes.” I raised an eyebrow in question, as I still didn’t understand where she was going with this subject. “We word promises to the best of our advantage.”
Sookie nodded in acknowledgement. “Niall knows this as well and that is why he will not allow you to live knowing our secret without having you bound by the alliance.” Before I could speak, she continued to talk. “However, I have another option if you are willing, because I don’t really want to kill you.”
She tried to give me a little teasing smile as she finished speaking but I could see the strain this conversation is causing her and I was annoyed to find that I didn’t like to see her upset. What the fuck!
I brushed away that thought before responding. “Well, what is this other option?”
“A blood oath.”
I didn’t expect that.
“I’ve only heard of blood oaths among fairies.” I challenged. I’d heard of a couple of blood oaths among Fae clans during the last Fae/Vampire war that solidified some of their alliances but I’d never heard of any between vampire and Fae. To be honest, I didn’t really know a lot about blood oaths in general.
“I know.” She nodded. “I don’t think there has ever been one between a vampire and a fairy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”
“How does it work?”
“A blood oath prevents deception within a promise. It does not allow loopholes and prohibits a differing interpretation that could be used to undermine the promise itself. It reads the pure intention of the oath and prevents the one making the oath from undermining that intention.”
“What happens if the person taking the oath does break the promise?” I asked thoughtfully.
“They can’t.” She explained confidently. “It’s physically impossible. For example, if I promised to never drink water again, then the blood oath would prevent water from ever coming into my mouth. It wouldn’t matter if someone else held me down and tried to force water down my throat. The magic would create a barrier that would keep the water away.”
“So, you want me to take a blood oath to keep your secret?”
“If you don’t agree to the alliance, then yes. I believe a blood oath stating that you would keep our secret would satisfy the Prince.”
“What’s the catch?” I knew there had to be one or every important transaction would require a blood oath.
When Sookie sighed at my question, I knew I was right. There was most definitely a catch.
“It’s painful for everyone involved.” She shrugged as if the pain were only a needle prick. “Anyone with your blood would feel pain for the time it takes the magic to settle into your blood line.”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean by my bloodline? You are speaking in fairy riddles again.” My temper was getting shorter and shorter.
“The blood oath applies to everyone who shares your blood. Your maker, child, and anyone else who shared blood with you in the past, present, or future would be held to the same promise. Therefore, the magic has to work through their blood as well. They do not have to be here though. All we need is the ritual knife from Fairy and I can call it here with my magic.”
I have to admit that I just stared at her. I’d never heard of any magic powerful enough to affect an entire bloodline especially if those involved were located all around the globe.
“And can the blood oath be lifted?” I decided to get all the facts before contemplating a decision.
“No.” Sookie’s eyes met mine to convey the seriousness of her answer. “Any attempt to interfere with the magic of the blood oath by anyone in the bloodline will result in the instant eradication of the bloodline. This is why a blood oath is often used in Faery to finalize alliances between clans. No one would dare risk the death of an entire bloodline.”
This woman was full of surprises tonight. I wanted to doubt her story, as I couldn’t imagine magic strong enough to cause the final deaths of so many vampires, but there was a ring of truth to her words.
“So, this is why a blood oath is such a rare occurrence?” I mused out loud.
Sookie laughed sarcastically. “I guess I didn’t make it sound very appealing did I?”
“Maybe you should work on your sales pitch technique?” I teased her half-heartedly.
“Possibly.” She replied with a slight grin before we both turned to stare out at the ocean and stood in a contemplative silence.
It only took me a few minutes to weigh the risks of agreeing to the blood oath before I came to a decision. Since the oath was only to keep their secret, I couldn’t see the harm in agreeing to the proposal.
“If I do not agree to the alliance, then I will take the blood oath to keep your secret.” I stated neutrally.
I noticed her shoulders lost some of their tension in response to my words. “Good.”
We continued to stand in silence for a couple of more moments while Sookie seemed to be gathering her thoughts. Finally, she gestured with her arm towards the shoreline. “Shall we walk?”
I nodded and fell into step beside her as we leisurely walked down the beach. The waves were relatively quiet in the background and the beach remained deserted. As we walked, I was tempted to break the silence and demand answers from the fairy but a glance at her showed that she seemed to be struggling with where to start her story.
Finally, after we had walked about a hundred feet, she started speaking.
“Do you know much about the development of a fairy’s magic?”
“No.” I answered dryly. “Your kind is very secretive after all.”
“True.” She sighed. “You will have to understand how we mature in order to understand everything.”
I nodded for her to continue her explanation.
“A fairy is born with a certain amount of magic. A human-fairy hybrid is the same if they have the ‘spark,’ which gives a fairy their magic. The magic a fairy is born with can give an indication to how powerful the child will be when they reach their magical maturity on their twenty-eighth birthday.”
She laughed a little as she added jokingly, “I like to call it a fairy’s magical puberty.”
“How old are you Princess?” I had a feeling that I already knew.
Her face lost all hints of mirth as she turned her head away from me. “I turned twenty-eight last week.”
“Did your puberty not go as planned?”
“You could say that.” Came her dreary reply. “But we’ll get to that in a moment.”
As we continued to walk, she explained more about the growth of a fairy’s magic. “From a young age, everyone saw that I was physically stronger than most full-blooded fairy children and I learned to teleport when I was only five. Most fairies are ten before they master the skill. I was also able to perform simple spells easily. The most impressive talent I possessed, however, was my telepathy.”
“Why is that?” It wasn’t that I didn’t think it was a powerful skill, but I wanted to understand why it was the most impressive to the Fae.
“In our recorded history, there has never been a telepathic fairy.”
That was surprising. I knew I’d never heard of one but it wasn’t like I was best friends with any fairies or knew all their powers.
“With all the skills I showed at such an early age, it was quite easy for Niall to name me as his heir. Of course there were some fairies that resisted because they are purists, but they didn’t have enough power to really put up a fight.”
“Purists?” I asked.
“There is a faction in Faery that believe our reproductive difficulties and loss of magical power are due to mating with humans. They want all hybrids killed.” Sookie answered dismissively. “But we’ll talk more about them later.”
“Don’t think I’ll forget.” I warned. I had a feeling this purist faction was one of the enemies I would be gaining with an alliance through a marriage with a fairy hybrid. If they didn’t like hybrids, then I can only imagine what they would think of a hybrid that was married to a vampire.
“I’m sure you won’t.” She laughed lightly before continuing. “On the night of a fairy’s twenty-eighth birthday, their family holds a ‘coming out’ party, of sorts. Everyone in his or her family and all close personal friends are invited to celebrate the new magic of the fairy. At the designated time, the newly matured fairy demonstrates any new powers they gained that day. The maturity party is one of the most sacred events in each fairy family.”
We walked for a few more moments before she picked up the story again.
“Since I was named the heir to the throne, a royal gala was planned and everyone in the kingdom was invited. We had planned it for years. I must have had ten dress fittings to make sure I looked perfect.”
She smiled slightly at some memory before all emotion left her face again. “The first new talent I discovered upon waking was the skill of tongue. We have several species in Fae and I spoke most of the languages but I had always struggled with Elfin. On my way to breakfast, I passed two elves in conversation with each other and I could easily understand them. I had known that the skill existed in our bloodline so I tested it with my cousin, Claudine, as we ate breakfast. Grandfather was very proud since the skill is very useful in politics.”
Sookie was silent for a couple of moments before I decided to move the conversation along, “Did you gain any other skills?”
“Yes. The next skill I discovered was my ability to mask my scent. Again, this is a powerful tool as it allows for discretion in movement.”
“You also gained your ability to cloak yourself, correct?”
“Yes.” Her tone was terse. “But I didn’t discover that skill until later that night.”
Before I could question her further, she volunteered more information. “The only other skill I discovered during the day was the ability to call items to my location. As you’ve seen, this is a very useful skill to have in battle.”
I nodded in agreement.
Then, I heard Sookie take a deep breath and I felt her tension as easily as if we were blood bonded.
“Everyone was very proud of me and I was very happy with my new powers.” She said wistfully before growing sad again. “I was scheduled to make my entrance at the gala an hour after sunset. So, about an hour before nightfall, I returned to my suite in the palace to begin preparing. My lady’s maid, Belinda, was there waiting for me. She had been with me since I was ten and she was fifteen. She was my closest friend outside of my family circle. She had made my dress herself. She was very talented.”
“Belinda and I spent the next half hour talking excitedly about the upcoming events as she painted my nails and drew my bath. After leaving me to soak, she closed my bathroom door and went to lay out my clothing.”
Sookie’s voice continued to become more strained and emotional as she continued her story. It was obvious we were coming to the turning point in her story and I could smell the tears welling in her eyes.
“I was soaking in the bath when I felt a strong surge of magic. My body tingled and I felt incredibly strong. Stronger than I’d ever felt before. I felt invincible.” She whispered the last part as if she were ashamed.
I was confused.
“Another gift?” I prompted.
“More like a curse.” She said bitingly as she stopped walking and turned her back to me.
“Before I could think about the new surge of strength I was feeling, I felt an overwhelming hunger. It was as if I hadn’t eaten in years.” I moved to stand beside her so that I could see her face but she had closed her eyes. “Without a second thought, I jumped out of the bathtub and wrapped my robe around me. Then, I ran out into my bedroom to order Belinda to bring me some food.”
The tears she had been holding back started flowing down her cheeks.
“But I never spoke a word to her. The moment I opened the door I smelled the most delicious food that had ever existed and I moved to devour it without conscious thought.”
We stood in silence for what seemed like hours but was probably only seconds before I prompted her to finish the story.
“Sookie?” I softly urged her to go on.
Although she didn’t acknowledge me, she continued her story. “The next thing I remember, I looked down and saw Belinda pale and dead in my arms.”
“I don’t understand.” I felt like I was missing something obvious in her story but I just couldn’t pull it together. “Was it a new power? What happened to her?”
Again, Sookie took a deep breath. She straightened her shoulders and turned to face me before turning my world upside down.
Before her words reached my ears, I heard the clicking noise I had heard several times daily for centuries.
“I drained her.”
As Sookie spoke, I saw her beautiful, perfectly white fangs gleaming in the moonlight.