Chapter 21: End Game

In The Dark

Chapter 21

End Game

**

The anxiety I felt for Sookie while she was gone…

The heaviness and desperation I felt while waiting for her to calm down enough to explain…

Nothing compared to the unhinged panic I felt once Sookie suggested Pam could be a targeted by Halfdan.

Sookie could have been wrong… but I couldn’t bank on it.

I could hope… but I still had to plan.

And I still hadn’t heard why Sookie thought Pam could be in danger. I still hadn’t heard the first fucking thing about the skip she’d just returned from.

I didn’t have to.

Sookie overreacted in small increments. She let herself succumb to anger and frustration, but in the time we’d been together, she didn’t fear. Not this way. Not to the point that she couldn’t do anything other than hyperventilate and choke ‘sorry’ after ‘sorry’ because she could feel how much I needed answers.

Even if she wasn’t preventing me from using our bond to help, I was too rattled by Sookie’s behavior to have been of much use in that aspect.

**

Getting the attention of the waitress to have the children’s food sent to our suite hadn’t been an issue. Everyone in the small dining room was watching Sookie’s emotional collapse as though it was dinner theater.

Since Misty had taken charge of Magnusson’s needs, Tina (my second most no-nonsense child) approached the waitress to remind the woman to see to drinks and condiments and give her our room number.

“Because I don’t think it was a coincidence that Halfdan contacted you for a job right after we ran into Appius.”

That was all I had to go on until Sookie could explain.

“Because I don’t think it was a coincidence that Halfdan contacted you for a job right after we ran into Appius.”

It left too much to the imagination.

“Because I don’t think it was a coincidence that Halfdan contacted you for a job right after we ran into Appius.”

He’d only intruded on our holiday for 27 minutes and he was all too amused by my ‘mid-life crisis’, claiming that he always knew I’d rebel against what I was eventually. He insulted Sookie by treating her like a servant, then again by suggesting she was a donor. He’d exposed his fangs when the children wanted to talk to him. He’d asked me about Pam for the first time since I brought her over…

If I hadn’t been so protective of my family, I would have known better… Appius only ever visited when he wanted something from me. Since he didn’t ask for a favor, I assumed his social call was a formality… an obligatory hello since he knew we were in the same small town. The Eric in the journal who suffered a visit had been asked to assist with Alexei’s discipline. Since our version of Alexei had been jailed for draining two children and was facing a death sentence, I thought the matter was settled and actually had the gullibility to feel relieved when Appius left our room.

While the children instinctively left the table and walked towards the elevator in an orderly fashion, I forced myself to remember every fucking facet of the phone call I’d gotten from Halfdan two nights after my Maker’s visit…

**

The phone was brought to me by the concierge while everyone was eating dinner. Shelly was on my lap and Magnusson was trying to remove my bottom lip at the time…

I didn’t care who was calling. The interruption was annoying… There was a reason Sookie and I left our phones in our room and only checked them sporadically.

It was a fucking vacation.

What’s more, we’d checked in using the names Mike and Carol Brady (as a joke) since we had six children in tow… but the concierge presented the phone to me while bowing and addressed me as ‘Sir Northman’.

Lovely.

I answered my ‘urgent’ call only to hear a familiar voice.

Even Halfdan’s whispers boomed. “If I had feelings, I might be offended you’d come all this way and fail to visit me in Kiel.” He had plenty of feelings, just no redeeming ones.

“There’s over a thousand kilometers between Kiel and Zermatt, your Majesty. I’ve notified Lord Brandeis of my presence in Clovis’s Kingdom.”

“Am I to believe your itinerary doesn’t include your estate in Eijsden?”

“Not this time, your Majesty. I was considering a visit in the summer though.” The farm and river were more enjoyable in the warmer months. Jenny and Tina were looking forward to constant access to the stables because riding was cathartic for them.

“Are you aligned with Clovis now?”

“I’m on holiday, your Majesty. I’m still a Sheriff under Queen LeCerq in the States.”

“Your Queen is an émigré of France.”

“No more than I’m an émigré of Ireland, Majesty. I believe I was there longer than Sophie-Anne was in France.”

“If you have no loyalties, then I have an errand for you. I have a long standing problem and I’ve been eager for you to return. You’re the Knight I need for the task.” I had plenty of loyalties. Most of them were scowling while they ate their meals because they were annoyed my conversation was in Danish so they weren’t being given any clues. They’d all learned German too quickly.

“I’m sure you have capable Knights, Majesty. I’m not free to work at the moment.”

“You’ll be compensated handsomely for the time away from your family.” He didn’t have enough cash to do that… for that matter, I was surprised he hadn’t called for a loan considering what my sources had told me.

“My apologies, Majesty, but I’m actually looking forward to retiring, not moonlighting.”

“You’re a Knight.”

“I was once… For Dmitri, Rodrigo, Tyson and you… At the moment, I’m a Sheriff for Sophie-Anne.” And the clock was running down.

“You’re refusing a task.” That would have been a big no-no if I were still working for him.

“I’m declining your offer to relieve me of my vacation.” I would have been more annoyed if I could think of anyone who liked hearing ‘no’. Vampires, specifically Vampire Kings who’d been Kings while they were still alive, were far worse.

“I’m sure I could convince you to accept the mission.”

“I’m not a Knight any longer, Majesty. It’s been long enough that I’m probably quite out of practice.”

He scoffed, “Nonsense. The mission is complicated and I’m sure you’re the only one I know of who could accomplish it. You’ll be hearing from me.”

**

You’ll be hearing from me…

At the time I assumed he was going to dispatch a messenger with a formal proposal, including a vague outline of the chore he wanted me to complete… I couldn’t have been more relieved when I hadn’t heard from him. I knew, in essence, what he wanted. Halfdan wanted me to end someone. Since he described the situation as ‘complicated’, he probably wanted several Vampires to be ended quickly and quietly for political reasons. That had been my specialty for years.

If I had to venture a guess, I’d speculate the rumors I’d heard about the Northern Kingdom’s finances meant Halfdan wanted me to help him make a move on France. The Kingdom was lucrative enough to bolster Halfdan’s finances and we already knew at least one version of Halfdan that had finally made a move. Those assumptions had only been supported by the information we learned during our last skip… second hand information, but there was a version of me whose hand had been forced… Pam called that Eric’s situation being ‘painted into the throne’, rather than a corner.

And I thought I pitied the Me who was stuck with Louisiana and Arkansas.

I didn’t enjoy the political games American Kings and Queens played… and there certainly wasn’t any room for melancholy in regards to my previous life as a Knight… The only good thing to come from that era was that I found Pam while on a mission for Tyson.

But whatever Sookie had learned in her skip made her connect Pam… to Appius… to Halfdan… and the connection made the most verbose woman I’d ever known too overwrought to explain.

As the children silently gave themselves something to do in the living room of our suite, I took Sookie to the bedroom and set her on the bed…

Keeping myself busy by wetting a rag and taking it to her…

She sniffled and sputtered for the next few minutes, calming herself down to the best of her ability while I waited at her feet.

The wait was agonizing.

She finally offered, “We’re together because of Pam.”

“She pushed, but we were already…”

Sookie shook her head. “We could still be stuck in the same retarded dance we were in until I had Mag if she hadn’t been so pushy… We’re together because of her, but she hasn’t witnessed any of our skips.” Fuck. That hadn’t occurred to me. As curious as she was, Pam hadn’t been as much as a spectator. Because of our locations each time, it hadn’t been possible.

“What happened with the other Us?”

Her eyes filled again, and her voice was strained. “I woke up on a sofa at your place in the Netherlands. I had to beat the crap out of a couple of guards to get close enough to Eric to get his attention. I ended up having to play Hide and Seek to get into his chambers to explain… The normal explanation. He hadn’t skipped or heard of me before because he was too busy being King like from the new edition of the journal… but… He never went to the States to work for Sophie-Anne… He stayed in Europe and Pam ended up getting murdered.” Oh… fuck… the first time I witnessed a skip, we learned about a Pam who’d been ended.

“Murdered?”

She nodded. “Murdered. The other Eric was conned into doing the job for Halfdan because Pam was being followed, right? Well, the one tonight, Pam was taken with Appius and held hostage to make sure Eric would do the job. Appius ended up getting her killed when he tried to escape… Eric, you told me he was jealous of how close you are to her… When he was here, he asked where Pam was.” And he’d veiled the question to make me think he was suggesting I’d replaced Pam with Sookie… and I’d told him no one could ever replace either of them.

“You think Appius might have struck some sort of deal with Halfdan… but in the other version, where I was King, Halfdan ended Appius.”

“The other You turned him down initially because he was sure Halfdan would end him to tie up loose ends too…”

“Killing Appius and threatening Pam made the threat more compelling and once the task was finished the assassin would have been… that Appius overplayed his hand, probably for nothing more than a Lordship.” And the vainglorious fuck could have simply commanded me to accept the task… but if he’d done that, I’d have known he was scheming, risking Me and My child for his own ambition.

“And in the version I met tonight, Pam was ended instead of watched because she was still at Eric’s side… In my head, it makes sense for Appius to volunteer to be ‘used as collateral’ with Pam to make you think Halfdan was covering his bases.”

I nodded in spite of the growing knot in the pit of my stomach. I’d ignored my visit from Appius. I’d ignored my call from Halfdan. I wanted to enjoy my vacation… so I missed clues that something big was happening. I was standing in the eye of an over-ambitious political shitstorm. “Clovis would have been told that I was in the Kingdom because I was a Knight, but Halfdan and Clovis have always been rivals… Appius hasn’t ever been a fan of France… Halfdan knew I was here, and he mentioned my family… because Appius told him.”

She nodded. “It had to be Appius… It had to be Appius and if he’s in cahoots with Halfdan to have you help him take over France, someone could be following Pam and waiting for an order.”

“Or waiting for me to take you home so that everything I love is in one place.”

Sookie shook her head. “Pam’s there. We’re here… you can’t protect us all. Appius is vain enough to think you’d want to protect him too. They think you don’t have a choice but to do whatever they ask.”

“I have choices… I have plenty of fucking choices. It’s just that none of them offer any guarantees.”

“Where is Pam? Does it feel like she’s still in Louisiana? What about Appius? Is he still local?”

“Pam seems to be where she should be and if I had to guess, I’d say Appius is in Geneva. Not far enough away…”

“Four skips… The skip that put us together. The skip when we found out about an ended Pam. The skip when we heard about the Eric ruling the Northern Empire. This skip… without a Pam…”

“We learned a lot from the first two skips. Is it possible for tonight’s version to have needed something from you? Did that Sookie know about Brandon? Or Misty and Jenny, or Hunter?”

“Everything was the same for her until she decided to stay in Bern instead of going home for school. She stayed with Allecks… one kid, already using telepathy because her in-laws were assholes… she already had custody of Misty and Jenny… The other Eric said they got stuck once because they missed something. When Eric and Sookie seemed like they had everything they needed from me, I laid down on her bed and a couple minutes later, I opened my eyes back in here. Eric wanted to bond to her. As soon as he heard we still have Pam. He lost her in the 70s and he’s been miserable ever since. He gave two shits about anything else I told him. He just wanted his own bond so he could see Pam…”

“I’m sure Sookie was happy to hear that.”

“She’d already had one skip. She said the difference between the first Eric and this one was scary. This one’s mind is like a bucket of pitch. Smaller, denser, darker… She felt horrible for him. She wasn’t going to give him a hard time about wanting Pam back. He knew it would only be small increments… Eric, I was in a T-shirt and panties. I was in the shower with him. I snuck up on him. He had me pinned to a wall. He didn’t once have an Ericy reaction. No sniffing. No jokes or sarcasm worth mentioning. He was like an Eric wrapper… and I saw itPam… He’d been given this long list of Vampires to end in two kingdoms… he was almost done when Appius pulled his stunt…”

“How convenient.”

“Are you trying to stay disconnected from what happened to them? Is that how you’re staying so calm? I saw what was in his head…”

“I’m not at all disconnected. I’m very aware that there’s a very real threat…”

She lunged forward to hug my neck and wail, “Then what are we going to do?”

“The only thing that comes to mind… I don’t think we’re going to be retiring.”

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50 thoughts on “Chapter 21: End Game

    • Just re read this as its been awhile and picked up on all the Rubbernecking hints I’d missed before but is everything okay as there has been nothing on any of your stories for a long time now?

  1. Wow…I just want to turn the page to keep reading, lol. Sounds like Eric will be a European King, with quite a large family, in no time at all!

    Great work!

  2. I hope End game is not the End of this fine story. I need to know that he has protected his family….all of his family. You really can rip my guts out with your words. You are a fantastic author. Thanks for making my life a brighter place.

  3. Arrghh! Fucking Appius! Bastard! I really only have yelling and curse words for him. I love that you’re spoiling us with 2 chapters in one night though, so I’m going to go read the other one and see if I can calm down.
    Cheers, Balti K

  4. Can I say how much I hate Appius? I really hope that this Eric and Sookie don’t lose Pam! You are awesome again, this chapter had me on edge again, you really rock! Update soon and please don’t leave us hanging with this E & S!

  5. Hopefully he ends Appius before he becomes King. Ahhh but you never write things the logical way now do you. That’s why you have so many rabid fans, your fantastic imagination. 😉

  6. Can’t wait to see what happens. I bet Eric is thinking of ending Appius and Halfdan. Hope Pam is ok *chews knuckles nervously*

  7. Appius, again..so needs to meet the sharp end of a very long stake..or get a nice suntan. This story has gotten much more complex, and if possible more mesmerizing.. I find myself wondering, when do you sleep? Because your brain must be full of all these wonderful plots and keeping them under control must be exhausting.

  8. Poor Eric. His life was so peaceful, relatively. Now he has to deal with this and I assume become king. No floating retirement. Great suspenseful chapter and now we have to wait for the update to find out what is going to happen 8-(

  9. I can’t believe that they may not be able to make good on their retirement plans because of Appius, he needs to be ended. I hope the skip information is in time to circle the wagons and protect Pam. Great chapter.

  10. Wow. I wonder if Eric could get Pam to go stay with Sophie Anne for a while. Does she, SA, even know about Eric’s new family? On the other hand, involving SA is probably a bad idea. We don’t know what she’s like in this skip. Looks like the vacation is ending prematurely. And Eric is surrounded by leverage right there in Switzerland.

  11. I really hope Pam is ok. I wish Eric had called her during this even though I understand his need for more info from Sookie. I’m thinking his remarks about not retiring means he’s going to end Halfden and take the thrown. It seems the BTD version really did get off light just ending up a Leu since so many have ended up on the thrown.

  12. Argh! I fell asleep last night!! At least it meant I had too wonderful MultiVerse gems when I woke up. So much going on here. The tension is building like crazy!!

  13. Oh what a selfish prick Appius is! Looks like we have another King Eric on the horizon…I was really hoping they could have enjoyed retirement! I also thought the only angst of the story was going to be keeping Sookie and her family hidden from Sophie Anne, but you pulled out the big guns! Sophie Anne is a really small fish in this game…damn vampire politics. Looks like the European vamps are nothing in comparison!

  14. Holy crap!! What is he going to do to keep them ALL safe?! Before they were just after Pam which is wicked bad, but now he has a whole family! And they are in two places!! Time to call in some favors…

  15. oy, they won’t get a break ever it looks like. maybe they skip so they can always be together to prevent disasters from happening.(pure weird speculation)

  16. Damn girl, you really ramped this one up! And…Appius just has to die…and if it’s at Sookie’s hand, all the better! Looks like retirement is not in Eric’s future —he has a small army of telepaths and “children” (Pam) to protect –and what better way than to either take the throne or give it to someone who is trustworthy…
    Pat

  17. Eeeep! Poor Eric and gah for scheming nasty vampires who can’t take care of their own problems! I sure hope that Sookie and Eric find a way to keep the family and Pam safe. The tension is really ratcheting up. Love it 🙂

  18. Angela, I truly love your writing and have been avidly following your blog for over a year. This chapter was disappointing. Before your loyal fans try to lynch me, let me say this: I provide criticism because I know you can do better. The random flashbacks were confusing and the explanation of relationships left something to be desired. The children taking everything in stride without being overly curious killed the believibility (sp?) of the characters.

    Honey, you’re one of the best writers I’ve ever come across. We all have bad days. I still love your work.

  19. Finally getting caught up on more chapters, slowly. I’m so worried for them. Can’t they ever get a break and have some time off? Maybe not retire but have a little less dire situations. I mean all stories, all version, not just this one, ya know? Anyway, I love your work, thanks for the updates.

  20. I just reread this story…..I guess that Eric is going to have to kill Hafdan and Appius in order to protect his family. I guess that the fates will not let him retire. I hope to hear more form this story soon.

  21. Just finished a re-read. I love these stories so much. I know you will update this one when you get to the right points in Europass & Nuclear Winter. : )

  22. Re-reading again. Usually, when I re-read I wind up not wanting to read this one because the mere thought of this Sookie’s 5 years with Sam is so completely disheartening. I always forget that it isn’t so bad (usually I’m just so annoyed and grossed out by the thought that Eric is stuck raising Sam’s kids – eeuuuck) I always forget that it is fun to have Sam killed off and to have an Eric so willing to jump in and wake every night with a newborn on his chest. I really do want an update on this one though because the story was left hinting at Eric having to take over the Northern Kingdom. However, the in-between of dealing with Appius and Halfdan with 6 kids and Sookie in tow (although I assume they would send Junior back to his parents). He has to worry about Pam and all hints would point to Pam being the one in danger and I would assume that is b/c Appius and Halfdan wouldn’t believe that Eric has feelings for all the ‘humans’ in his family that are anything close to his feelings for Pam. The problem with that theory though is that it wouldn’t take long for it to be pretty obvious how he feels about Sookie and the kids, plus Appius would be more than aware of Eric’s principles when it comes to kids. It seems almost necessary to continue this verse, but the amount of enjoyment I would get when you introduce the EP/NW vampire crew of the boys and Gawain… it would be nothing short of awesome. This could be the one that winds up with it all – you have the close relationship with Pam still, Pam is closest to Sookie in this one, Eric is raising Mags from birth and is the only father the kid will ever know, you have Misty & Jenny plus the two Merlotte’s – with Tina being a shifter and you still have a Jason and you have Corbett. There is only 1 aspect missing and that’s Adele. I would love to see this one go on & on and see the relationship of Mags and Eric develop. Plus, would Lauren & Jason move to Europe? Seriously, this could be the verse that goes the long haul…

  23. I miss this story, I think is the second time I have read it through, but I want to know what happens next. I know you are up to your eyeballs in other verses, but darnit make Eric and Sookie cooperate and let you finish this verse.

  24. okay i finished this verse again and of course like i said a few chapters ago, i caught a few things i missed before. i surely hope you continue with this verse i miss all the kids and i want to see if he gets stuck with a Kingdom.

  25. Okay….seriously, as much as I love the other verses that you have going on…I miss this one! It’s been almost 9 months since you updated this!!!! Are you planning to finish it any time soon? *twitch* I only ask because….it’s been 9 MONTHS!!!! Throw us a bone, will ya? *Twitch*

  26. no matter the reality, appius is always a prick. to bad these are svm instead of true blood, the best thing about tb is godric being erc’s maker instead of appius.

  27. Trying to remember how Erics mind sounds when it’s busy. Squiggly i think it is. Well I guess Eric’s mind right now whould be very very ‘squiggly’! So Eric has Sookie, Mags, Tina, Shelly, Misty, Jenny and Junior in Europe to look after. Then Pam stateside, but Stackhouse name isn’t exactly common, and it probably wouldn’t take much to learn he has a lot to do with the whole family. So that means Jason, Lauren, Brandon and Ashley too. Bran might stay with Were Supes, maybe Bubba to help. So I guess Pam, Jason and Lauren are going into hiding together?
    Does Reic have allies to look after Hadley too?

    All the pieces are so scattered! Dang!

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