As Sookie dealt with Tara, Roman searched through the footage they had collected from placing Bill under surveillance and searching for the answers to the questions that had plagued him since the return of his Mistress. Sitting at his desk, Roman played the footage, looking for any sight of Sookie. Roman knew they wouldn’t be able to keep what happened to Sookie secret for long, but he could protect her by destroying the footage of his Maker at her weakest. No one needed to see that.
Pulling up the footage from the night Bill was made King, Roman snorted at how clueless the Civil War vampire truly was. The younger vampire had no clue he was just a puppet King. The fool wasn’t even aware the whole thing was being recorded. He actually believed he had earned and deserved the role of King. Roman would have much rather appointed the Viking to the position. Unfortunately, his actions with Russell Edgington had all but taken him out of the running.
Loading the video for the next night, Roman watched as the as the new King addressed his Sheriffs. He couldn’t help but laugh at the clear disdain Eric had shown Bill. The puppet King had no control over his Sheriffs; this was made evident to Roman by the informal and disrespectful manner in which Eric addressed Bill. As he continued to watch the footage, Roman heard Bill inquire after Sookie, claiming he could no longer feel her, a fact Eric also admitted. Roman arched a brow as he listened to Bill proclaim his love for Sookie and used his new position as King to order Eric to stay away from her once she was found. Roman didn’t even have to listen to Eric’s reply to know the Viking wouldn’t heed his King’s orders to stay away from anyone, especially Sookie. Eric’s affection for Sookie was plain to see. As he watched Eric bow mockingly before the King, Roman had to wonder if Sookie knew of Bill’s orders to Eric regarding her. He guessed she didn’t, and, knowing his Maker as he did, she wouldn’t be happy once she’d found out about said “orders.” Roman rolled his eyes as he heard Bill dismiss Eric and instruct one of his guards to bring him a donor.
“Not the mainstreaming King you claim to be, are you, Bill?” Roman snorted as he watched a pretty brunette be presented to the King. “Oh yes, you love my Maker so much you were fucking another woman the night after she disappeared.”
“They say talking to yourself is a sign of madness,” said Dieter as he entered the room, a teasing smile curling his lips.
Roman chuckled as he looked up. “Most of the things we’ve done would be considered madness in the eyes of the many.”
“True,” Dieter agreed, stopping beside Roman’s chair at the head of the table. He raised a brow as he looked at the screen in front of Roman and saw what his maker was watching. “Ah, Nan’s little puppet. Not quite the mainstreamer we were led to believe. What did Nan see in him?” he added as he watched Bill bend the brunette over his desk and enter her roughly. “He’s hardly King material. He can’t even fuck right. As far as I can tell, the only thing he would be good for is cannon fodder.”
“He was easily manipulated,” Roman replied as he hit fast forward. “From what I’ve surmised, he truly believed he was made King because he earned it. Nan pulled his strings, but what I want to know is who was pulling Nan’s?”
“What do you mean?” Dieter asked as he took a seat.
“Nan knew of the Fae and believed Sookie was one,” Roman answered as he pulled the footage from the night Nan was killed and showed it to his eldest child.
A frown creased Dieter’s brow as he watched the footage. “Nan was too young to have any dealings with the Fae.”
“As was Sophie-Anne.” Seeing Dieter’s confused look, Roman shared with him all that Sookie had told him and by the time he was finished, Dieter was as equally as concerned and furious.
“This is most troubling,” Dieter said. “We went to great pains to assure Sookie would be untouched by the Supernatural world. Yet a four-hundred-year-old Queen knows Our Lady is part Fae from just hearing stories from Sookie’s cousin? No, that is not possible! Someone was feeding Sophie-Anne information.”
“Probably the same person who was feeding it to Nan,” Roman put forth.
“But who?” Dieter asked.
“I don’t know, and I don’t believe Sookie does either,” Roman confessed. It troubled him greatly that neither he nor his maker knew who was pulling all the strings; however, at that moment in time there was nothing he could do about it. “Of course, there is one connection between them all.”
“Compton!” Dieter growled. “You think he is involved in all of this?”
“No, at least not knowingly,” Roman admitted. “Compton is a puppet, a pawn. He’s not smart enough to be the brains behind it. No, I believe he has been manipulated as well.”
“So, it begs the question; who is pulling the strings? Who is the puppet master?” Dieter asked.
“And to what end?” Roman added. “What did they hope to achieve? If the person or persons responsible believed Sookie only to be a fairy, then sending a vampire after her should have resulted in her death. A vampire as young as Compton would never have been able to resist attacking a fairy.”
“They suspected she was more,” Dieter deduced.
“Yes, that is my belief,” said Roman, a troubled look spreading across his face. “I’m just not sure if they suspected her true identity. Did they know she was the child of Lilith? Either way means trouble.”
“Speaking of trouble, Salome has been lurking around,” Dieter informed Roman, his lips curling into s smirk. “She is most eager to speak with you. I believe she is anxious to reaffirm her place with you. Our Lady’s return has her worried. She wishes to know…” Dieter trailed off as he searched for the right words. “What is it the humans say… if she is still your number-one girl?”
“Salome was never my number-one girl,” Roman replied, a slight grimace on his face as he spoke the unusual words. As cruel as it might sound, Salome was never more for him than that of a willing body to sate his lust. The biblical whore was a talented bed mate and Roman enjoyed fucking her, but that was all, and despite her claims, Roman knew she held no real feelings for him. She was working her own agenda as well. She wanted power and Roman had it.
“I think that is what she fears,” Dieter said with a chuckle. “She fears Sookie will take her place.”
“For me to take her place I would have to take several steps down,” Sookie said, startling them both as she entered the room and joined the conversation. “I already stand much higher than her.”
“True, but Salome believes…” Dieter started.
“Because she’s bending over for Roman she’s more important than she is,” Sookie finished for him as she perched herself on the side of the table. “Tell me, how long did it take her to come crawling to you after I disappeared?”
“Just over a year,” Roman answered truthfully.
“Damn it,” Sookie cursed. Turning her gaze towards Dieter, Sookie smiled at her old friend, “I owe you a hundred bucks.” Seeing Roman’s confused look, she giggled as she added, “I bet Dieter it’d only take six months for her to start sniffing around you.”
“It wasn’t surprising. Salome craves power,” Roman said, shaking his head.
“Just like her maker,” Sookie replied. “He was a horrid little man. I was so happy when he lost his head.”
“Salome could prove to be a problem,” Dieter warned. “She has amassed a great deal of power and risen high in the vampire world in the last twenty years. She will not like having to take a step back because of your return.”
“Great, so we have to deal with Russell’s escape and return, the Fae not being extinct, and a possible takeover attempt,” Sookie groused. “Oh, how I long for the simplicity of a month ago… Well, no, a month ago here, I was actually stuck in Fae. That wasn’t fun or simple. Anything else we have to worry about?”
“Just The Sanguinista Movement growing stronger,” Roman said.
“To think, my biggest problem yesterday was whether my friend would rise as a vampire, and which vampire I actually loved,” Sookie snorted. Raking a hand through her hair, Sookie let out a sigh as she took a minute to compose her thoughts. “Okay, so Russell, Salome, fairies, and The Sanguinista Movement,” she added, counting them off on her fingers.
“That seems about right.” Dieter nodded. “There is also the problem of the growing anti-vampire movement.”
“I’ve only been back a night and I already need a vacation,” Sookie grumbled. “Let’s deal with one thing at a time.”
“So what is the plan?” Dieter asked. “You said we have to wait and see when it comes to the Fae. What about Russell and The Sanguinista Movement?”
“I think for now Russell should be our main focus,” Sookie replied thoughtfully. She bit her lip as she recalled her interactions with Russell. “Roman, you said that The Sanguinista Movement have adopted Russell as their unofficial leader or mascot.”
“Yes,” Roman said. “They believe Russell embodies their beliefs.”
“A fanatical group who looks up to a psycho,” Sookie snorted. “That’s just peachy.”
“So what do we do?” Dieter asked. “If The Sanguinista Movement discovers Russell didn’t meet the true death and is, in fact, out there somewhere free, it will be anarchy. They could rise up and try to seize power, not to mention the reaction of the humans if they discovered it.”
“We need to find and kill Russell before anyone finds out,” Sookie replied, her brow furrowing in thought as she went over all she knew. “Although I suspect that could prove to be difficult. I suspect Russell is not working alone. He has someone helping him.”
“What makes you think that?” Dieter asked.
“Because Russell would be too weak to escape and care for himself,” Sookie explained, as she jumped off the table and started pacing. “A year ago Eric tricked Russell into believing he could walk in the sun…”
“How?” Roman growled, interrupting her.
“You already know the answer to that,” Sookie replied, not stopping her pacing.
“They used you!” Roman snarled, his anger spiking at his maker being used in such a way.
“Yes, both Eric and Bill know how unhappy I was about it,” Sookie replied. “And before you say it, you won’t kill them… While I’m on the subject, you,” She pointed a finger at Roman as she stopped pacing, “and me are going to have a little talk about you issuing a death warrant on Godric’s child.”
“It wasn’t my choice,” Roman said, his anger deflating in the face of Sookie’s words.
“We’ll talk about it later,” Sookie replied firmly. The second she had heard The Authority had issued a death warrant against Eric, Sookie had been furious and concerned. Knowing the connection between Roman and Eric, Sookie couldn’t fathom why her child would issue a death warrant against the child of his child. Eric might not have known of the connection, but Roman most certainly did. “Something doesn’t add up here.”
“What do you mean?” Roman asked. He could feel her anxiety and didn’t like it. Something was troubling his maker.
“Russell being free, the death warrant against Eric, and the veil being lifted all happened within days of each other,” Sookie replied, trying to put it together in her mind.
“You believe they’re all linked,” Dieter deduced, sitting forward and placing his elbows on the table.
“Or the mother of all coincidences,” Sookie said with a snort.
“What are you thinking?” Roman asked, knowing she had an opinion on the matter.
“I think someone is pulling our strings,” Sookie mused. “Russell’s escape is linked to Eric and Bill…”
“You think they had something to do with it?” Dieter questioned, interrupting her.
“No,” Sookie answered with a shake of her head. “There is no way Eric would have dug Russell up. He would never risk it. Eric hates Russell more than any of us, and with good reason. Eric wanted Russell to suffer. It was why he didn’t just stake him.”
“What of the young Mister Compton?” Dieter asked, a sneer curling his lips as he thought of the unworthy vampire. “He has a history of aligning himself with those who are stronger than him, getting them to eliminate those he perceives as threats to him, and then betraying them.”
“He’s got a talent for that, doesn’t he?” Sookie snorted. “Yet something tells me he isn’t responsible for this. Do I think he’s capable? Without a doubt. I think Bill Compton is capable of just about anything. He’s loyal only to himself. He never even blinked when I staked Lorena…” Sookie chuckled at the twin looks of shock on Roman and Dieter’s faces. “Long story; nevertheless, if Bill thought digging Russell up would benefit him, he’d do it in an instant.”
“Compton doesn’t seem overly fond of Northman,” Dieter remarked. “Is it possible he dug Russell up so he could get rid of him?”
“Bill absolutely hates Eric. He’s jealous of him. It’s clear to me now. From the second I met Eric, Bill did everything in his power to try and get me to hate him as well. He didn’t want me to trust Eric,” Sookie replied, informing them of Bill’s behavior when it came to Eric. “Given his mission for Sophie-Anne it’s not surprising, but now I can’t help but wonder if there’s more to it. Bill was openly defiant of Eric and his position as Sheriff before you lot foolishly made him King. At the time I stupidly thought it was sweet; Bill was protecting me. Now I know it’s because he didn’t have anything to worry about. He had Sophie-Anne and Nan waiting in the wings to protect him. This time he has no one. Russell wants him dead as well. I’m sure if all Russell wanted was to kill Eric, Bill would have dug him up five minutes after they buried him. He’ll play with other people without a second thought, but Bill won’t risk his own life.”
“It does seem unlikely he would risk his own existence,” Roman agreed. Turning his attention to Dieter he added, “Remember how quickly he was to back down and released Eric when we informed him his own life would be forfeited if he followed through on the death warrant against Eric that Nan had no right to issue?”
“I do,” Dieter recalled.
“What?” Sookie growled, her eyes flicking between Roman and Dieter. “What death warrant?”
“About five nights ago, Compton requested a warrant be issued to send Northman to his final death. He claimed Eric was a threat to The Mainstreaming Movement,” Roman replied, eyeing his maker carefully. He could feel her emotions bubbling under the surface and knew the slightest touch would set her off. As much as he would have loved to watch Sookie tear Bill apart with her bare hands, Roman knew now was not the time, nor was he sure she would just stop with Compton. If she gave into her bloodlust, she could wipe out half of the people in the building, and no one would be able to stop her. “Nan approved the warrant without putting Compton’s request in to the rest of the Authority,” Roman added, as he rose from his seat. “Once we discovered what she had done, we revoked the warrant, and Nan was punished.”
“Please tell me you have footage of that?” Sookie growled. Anger and hatred were welling up inside her and she welcomed them both.
Five nights ago would have been the night Bill found me with Eric. He tried to have my Viking killed and then had the audacity to act like the magnanimous King, who was sacrificing his own love so I could be happy. I should’ve let Eric kill him.
So lost in her anger, Sookie never even realized she referred to Eric as her Viking.
“Bill tried to have Eric killed? He asked for a death warrant? The deceitful little bastard. I want him stripped of all power,” Sookie raged, her eyes blazing with anger.
“You seem to be taking this personally,” Dieter remarked.
“I was with Eric that night,” Sookie informed them. “He had been cursed by the witch Antonia was possessing. Eric was no threat to anyone. Bill had Eric cuffed in silver and locked up in the cells beneath his house.”
“That was not the report we received,” Dieter replied. “It seems Mister Compton is quite duplicitous.”
“He’s a lying bastard,” Sookie spat. “It’s a disgrace that you all allowed him to achieve so much power, but from what you’ve told me that was Nan’s doing.”
“Nan was Compton’s biggest supporter.” Roman nodded. “We had others in line for the throne of Louisiana, but Nan campaigned ardently for Compton to take the reign. He was voted in five to three.”
“Mmm,” Sookie murmured as she pulled a chair out and sat down.
“What is it?” Roman asked.
“Was Eric one of the other vampires you had in mind for the throne?” Sookie asked, slowly putting things together in her head.
“Yes,” Roman admitted. “He was my, our,” he corrected, waving a hand between himself and Dieter, “first choice.”
“Understandable,” Sookie said, nodding her head. “You said three. Who was the third?”
“Nora Gainesborough,” Roman answered.
“Nora, of course.” Sookie let out a soft groan as she closed her eyes and let her head fall back. “That would have been who I smelled,” she added in a low whisper.
“Sookie, I’m lost,” Roman confessed, unsure of where she was going with it all.
“Five to three,” Sookie said, snapping her head forward and meeting his gaze. “The death warrant against Eric, if it would have been carried out, the first one or this one, what would it have done? Other than send Eric to his final death.”
“It would have weakened Louisiana,” Roman replied, thinking of the ways Eric’s death would have impacted the state. “Orphaned his child…”
“It would have weakened our bloodline,” Dieter cut in, his eyes widening in shock as it came to him.
“Just like the loss of Godric did,” Sookie said softly. She knew she had to tell Roman that she was with Godric, when he met the sun. He had the right to know, but unfortunately now was not the time. “Godric’s death left a hole in our line and the loss of Eric would have widened it.”
“I still don’t understand what that has to do with three to five,” Roman confessed, feeling a stab of pain at the mention of Godric. He regretted nothing more than not calling Godric to him after Sookie was reborn human. He could have helped his child regain his love of life. Guilt tore him apart and he didn’t think he would ever truly forgive himself.
“Three to five, that is what you told me the vote was to send Eric after Russell a year ago,” Sookie said. “A thousand-year-old vampire going after a three-thousand one, it was…”
“Suicide,” Dieter finished for her, beginning to put it all together. “Eric was not supposed to survive it.”
“That’s what I’m thinking,” Sookie admitted, tapping her fingers against the table. “Eric had been looking for Russell for a thousand years without any luck; then just days after Godric met the sun, Eric suddenly discovers the Werewolves’ Master’s identity. You don’t find that the least bit strange?”
“Now that I think about it, I do.” Roman nodded.
“But you see, I don’t think anyone factored me into all of it,” Sookie mused. “Eric wasn’t supposed to survive. Russell was supposed to have killed him and cause our line to grow weaker. When that didn’t work, they needed a new plan.”
“The death warrant,” Dieter realized.
“That’s my guess. Nan’s warrant was revoked because she didn’t have the authority to issue it. But a warrant issued by the entire Authority would be different. You couldn’t get out of that. I’m guessing the vote was five to three again?”
“You would be correct.” Dieter nodded. “It was Nan’s last vote since our next bit of business was issuing one on her.”
“So you send Nan to carry out the warrant,” Sookie said, playing it over in her head. “You know full well she’s not going to do it, and you send another team after her. Eric and Bill kill Nan and her guards, but before they can escape, the second team arrives and takes them into custody. How am I doing so far?”
“Very well,” Roman praised.
Rising to her feet, Sookie slowly moved around the room as she worked out what happened next. “Nora tried to rescue Eric,” she began and then stopped abruptly. “No!” She cried, snapping her fingers as she spun around and faced Roman. “You assigned Nora to the second team. You told her to help Eric. He’s Godric’s child, you’re not going to send him to the true death. Nora does her thing and frees Eric and Bill only something goes wrong and they all end up getting caught. The True Death awaits Eric. Now, because of her treasonous actions it awaits Nora as well, and we are about to lose two of our bloodline, that is, until I walk through the door and fuck things up.”
“I believe that about sums it up perfectly,” Dieter snorted.
“Although you know what this means, don’t you?” Sookie asked. She eyed them both cautiously as she continued, giving neither of them a chance to answer her. “Someone out there knows of our bloodline.”