Saturday, September 29, 2012

97 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

Chapter Ninety Seven

"Come on, come in," a raspy voice said. "I will not bite you."

She cackled at this little joke. I knew she had no teeth.

I walked slowly towards her hard bench. "Is this where they keep you?" I asked.

"I go here, there, and everywhere. Please light the candle on the table, it will make this seem more real to you," she said.

I did as she said and turned to look upon the wizened crone face of the Ancient Pythoness. I had met her once during a trial involving the Queen of Louisiana, the ruler that preceeded King Felipe de Castro. He had eventually killed Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq,  Queen of Arkansas as well as Louisiana, and taken her states away from her, adding them to his own state of Nevada. It was a shameless power play but it worked. Queen Sophie's victory in the court room had been short lived.

The Ancient Pythoness smoothed the purple robes over her bony knees with gnarled fingers and waited for me to speak.

"Are you the one that was sending me the snake visions?"

She laughed, a dry sound that was like fall leaves blowing across headstones. "I was trying to gently summon you with my mind. Obviously your telepathic powers are more exceptional than any others. I did not mean to frighten you."

The flickering light from the candle reflected on her staring blind eyes, making them shine eerily like moonstones.

"Why were you trying to summon me?" I asked, coming to stand in front of her.

Her ancient form was bent with age, she was blind and toothless. Yet, as a very old vampire, she radiated power and wisdom. This aged woman, once an Oracle at Delphi, was Turned in her last days to preserve her remarkable ability to see the truth and impart justice. Now she was the Supreme Judge among vampires and was only needed to rule on cases involving royalty or matters affecting all vampires.

Again she laughed. "Come closer, Sookie Stackhouse, let me feel you."

I came right up to the edge of her purple gown and she reached out with fingers as twisted as tree branches. She ran them gently over my face. Her fingers were cold and steady, powdery and soft.

"Ah yes, such a pretty girl. And now you are Vampire. Eric is your Maker?" she asked, placing her hands back in her lap.

"Yes, he is. He's upstairs unconscious, I'm real worried about him," I told her.

"Oh my dear, I did not mean to worry you. Anna Hita could have glamoured him so you could come to me but her powers were blocked by some spell he carries with him. I had to send the Mist of Morpheus to surround him. He is not harmed and will awaken as he was."

She patted my shoulder in a reassuring way.

"Why did you need to knock him out? Couldn't he have come with me?"

"No, he would have objected," she said, shaking her head. Her wispy gray hair was like the down on a dandelion and seemed to swirl around her head like smoke when she moved.

"Objected to what?"

"To what you must do," she said. "Your husband is very protective of what is his, and his obstinacy is legend. I have so little time left. I have summoned you here for a reason. I am old, older than you can imagine. My time is drawing to an end."

I felt sad at this but I didn't see what I could do.

"Do not mourn for me. I am glad to go on, to leave this corporeal form behind. When I have gone there will be no Supreme Judge over the vampires of this world, and one is needed. If there is not one authority over all there will be chaos. Wars will erupt, many will die. Humans will be caught in the cross fire between one warring faction and another. Without the Ancient Pythoness to rule there will be pandemonium across the earth."

Her voice got stronger as she spoke, quavering with the horror of her prophecy. It sent chills down my spine.

"Can't you do something?" I asked her. Why was she warning me?

"I am doing something. Before I go I am passing my power to you," she stated calmly.

I was flabbergasted at her suggestion. "How? I can't possibly be the Ancient Pythoness. I'm not ancient, I'm not a Pythoness. I'm not even a very good Vampire, I'm a weakling!"

"Ah yes, that unpredictable fairy blood. It can be both a blessing and a curse, can it not?"

I didn't know how to answer that. I guess I agreed. Before I could reply she went on.

"Do not trouble yourself about your weakness, I will fix that before you leave here. As for the title of Ancient Pythoness, it goes to the person I appoint. I appoint you." It sounded final when she said it.

"You can fix my weakness?" I asked.

"Naturally. One can not be a weakling and rule over all vampires."

I really liked the idea of not being a weakling anymore. I thought about what this would mean to me, to our family, to vampires in general. It was a crazy idea, was she even giving me choice?

"Why me?" I croaked, becoming almost panic stricken at the thought. "Why on earth would you pick me?"

"Out of all the people I have come across in my travels, you are the most qualified."

"I am the least qualified. I know nothing about the law, even less about vampire law. I haven't even been a vampire for a year yet. I come from a small town, I barely squeaked through high school. I have experience waiting tables in a restaurant. That's it."

Surely she could see her choice of a replacement would have to be someone familiar with the legal system of Vampires, whatever that is.

She laughed again, that very dry sound. "You have the only qualifications that matter. Justice is like the marrow in your bones. You are not fooled by the outward appearance, you see into a situation and you know what is right, what is fair. Your head is not muddled with the tangle of laws that we have invented over the centuries to cover every tedious situation. You will only be called to rule when a King or Queen has need of a fair ruling. I sit idle for years without being needed. But when I am needed, my word is final. I, and now you, will be the highest court. Every knee will bend to you when you rule, I promise you."

Her voice sounded strong again. Then she sighed, sounding old and tired. "Before I go you must drink from me. My blood will impart my power. It will also take away any weakness you have. Come now, drink."

She held out her arm, a mere twig of a limb, so wrinkled and dehydrated it didn't look like there could be any fluid in it.

I stood there, repulsed by the idea of taking this poor old woman's few remaining drops of blood. Maybe she was wrong, maybe she wasn't going to die. If I drank from her it might push her over the edge. I might kill her.

more to come ..... (Super Saturday everyone! The day here is overcast but my day is still bright because you are here with me. Thank you for coming, y'all come back now, ya hear? )


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

96 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

Chapter Ninety Six

At first nothing happened, then little bubbles began to rise up in the water as if it was beginning to boil, though there was no heat. A thin layer of steam or vapor misted off the top and began rotating counter-clockwise.

I wanted to ask if this was a bad sign but Anna Hita had her eyes closed, her singing chant growing louder as the intensity of her magic built. She began to wave her hands over the vapor, causing it to ripple and disperse, then it reformed into new cloud shapes. In these clouds I thought I could see my profile.

I looked at Eric again, he was leaning forward to peer into the steam, trying to see what was coming. He didn't have long to wait. Suddenly a thick column of gray smoke rose, turning into a purple eyed serpent. It towered over the coffee table, rearing back as it had before.

"That's it!" I cried, "That's the snake I've been seeing!"

Faster than a vampire could react the snake arched forward and struck, but it didn't go for me, it went for Eric!

It coiled itself around him over and over, completely enclosing him in a solid wall of gray. His hand went limp in mine and I sensed his body slump back as if he was unconscious though the gray shroud prevented me from seeing any part of him except his hand. I pulled on his arm while trying to get him out of the center of the coiled serpent but I couldn't budge him. I didn't want to dislocate his shoulder so I stopped pulling.

I screamed at Anna Hita to end the spell, to stop it, to release Eric from the grip of the smoky snake. She stopped chanting and very slowly the mist returned to the bowl. Waiting for Eric to appear out of the fog was excruciating. When the room was clear of mist I shook Eric, trying to rouse him. He was out cold.

"What's wrong with him?" I asked Anna Hita.

"He is asleep. He will awaken and be as he was before," she said calmly.

"Did you do this to him? Wake him up," I told her, beginning to wonder if she had tricked us all these years into trusting her. Could she be working some evil against us now?

"No, this is not my doing. You must come with me and go where I tell you, to the one who can awaken Eric." She stood up and held out her glittering ringed hand. "Come Sookie, come and meet your destiny."

I remained seated next to Eric, holding his limp hand. "No, I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what's going on. Wake Eric up, then we'll both go."

I was feeling panicky. Eric was my destiny, wasn't he? What was she talking about?

Was she crazy? How could she expect me to do anything without my Maker?

"This is a journey you must make alone. An old friend awaits you. Do not fear," she smiled, a radiant smile of goodness and love. "I will stay here and watch over our Eric until he is released. Do not fear," she repeated.

I surely DID fear but what were my choices? What old friend awaited me? Was it Holo-Gran? Why would she be here, in New Orleans, sending a ghost snake to knock Eric out?

My mind raced with the possibilities - in the end it all came down to one thing - trust. I could stay here guarding Eric's body until the dawn knocked me out or I could go where Anna Hita wanted me to go and try and fix this. I had to trust her.

I stood up. "All right, show me where to go."

She walked to the ancient armoire and swung the enormous piece of wooden furniture away from the wall as if it was as light as a sheet of paper. It was on hinges and smoothly opened like a door, revealing a dark rectangular opening behind it. I smelled stone and ancient moisture, dank, like a basement in an old building.

"Just keep going down the stairs until the end," she said, indicating the opening.

"Do you have a flashlight?" I asked, stalling. I did not want to be separated from Eric while he was helpless.

She laughed, a merry sound like the tinkling of little bells. "You are Vampire, Sookie. You need no flashlight."

I am Vampire, I need no flashlight, I repeated to myself as I walked through the hole in the wall.

Stone slabs formed steps that led down in a spiral. One by one I stepped down. Very quietly I heard the armoire swing shut. I heard the drip of water way below me, the scurrying of little feet, both insect and rodent, and the very faint sound of the city outside the building.

I hoped very much I wasn't going back into the Underworld again, I really hated it there.

Anna Hita was right about not needing a flashlight. The stones glowed green, the air glowed light yellow, everything was illuminated by the energy that powered the atoms it contained. To a human the railingless steps would have been treacherous, roughly carved and uneven heights. I was able to descend quickly, getting ever farther from Eric above.

Well, the quicker I dealt with this the sooner I would be reunited with him. The thought gave my feet wings and I went ever faster, around and down until finally I came to large cavern carved into solid rock.

Sitting as still as a statue on a stone bench in the middle of the cavern was the person I had been sent to see. It was someone I had never expected to see again.

More to come .... (Happy mid-week everyone! Hope this new format shows up as I wrote it. Thank you so much for showing up in either your old format or any format you like! Be well.)


Saturday, September 22, 2012

95 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

Chapter Ninety Five

We walked down the dark and narrow graffiti covered walled hall that led to Anna Hita's scrying parlor. To my human eyes the writing had been nearly indecipherable as age and grime had obscured the characters of languages that might not even exist anymore.

To my vampire sight the letters came alive, glowing in pastel and primary colors, layer upon layer of them, each giving off a distinct scent and a feeling of time and place. All these people must have visited the Scythian Scryer at one time or another.

Her parlor must have been here a very long while, perhaps even before the neighborhood fell into decline. Now the old dark red brick structure was an historical building, protected by the City of New Orleans, though the neighborhood was still full of shady characters. Shady or not, they knew better than to mess with a vampire or anything owned by a vampire.

The hallway was like the United Nations of vampires, the graffiti made even more rich by the centuries of time the writers inhabited. Suddenly I wanted to write my name and some wise saying on the wall too. What would I want to say that would be memorialized for all to see?

One line stood out more clearly than any other. I knew Eric had written that line. It was written in the Old Swedish language he used when he was being formal.

"What does it say?" I asked him, looking up at him and then the line.

He smiled, showing white teeth. "I wrote it back when I was less ..."

He tried to find the right word, " .... flexible than I am now."

"OK, so what does it say?"

"No second chances," he said.

I must have looked as worried as that made me feel. I made lots of mistakes.

He gave a loving growl and hugged me to him, lifting me up against his chest and fake biting my neck.

"But for you there will always be a second chance," he said in my ear. "And a third chance."

"And a fourth chance?"

"For you, my wife, there are as many chances as there are stars in the sky."

We kissed passionately in that narrow hallway, happy we were there together, united as man and wife, Maker and Child. United for all time. I knew he truly would give me all the chances I needed, which was a very good thing considering our history.

Happy with our embraces we came into the empty parlor. Corinth, Anna Hita's very competent secretary, bustled in a moment later from the office. She commented on how well I looked, meaning I made a good vampire, then she asked us to sit and told us Anna Hita would join us shortly.

Nothing had changed in the fortune telling parlor in the decades since I had first come here, quaking in my shoes, to ask for help. The same heavy ornately carved wood furniture, the same windowless space illuminated by a kerosene lamp, the same unicorn tapestry covering the entrance to Anna Hita's apartment. It was through this entrance that the lovely Anna Hita swept in.

Tonight she wore a skin tight cobalt blue ankle length dress, split to the knee, studded with glittering rhinestones. Her arms clinked when she moved due to numerous gold jewel-encrusted bracelets on each arm. Most of these had been given to her by her grateful clients and her admirerers.

When I saw the splendid blue sapphire bib necklace she wore I thought of Jure, how he would swoon to see the perfect grape sized stones set into a rich butter yellow gold collar. Perhaps he had given her this necklace, it sure looked like something he would offer if he could bear to part with it.

"Sookie! Eric!" she gushed, coming to us to hug us. "I am so glad you are here!"

She had always been warm and loving to us, not cool and reserved like most vampires. I knew it was because she thought of us as her kin. Eric on the vampire side of her heritage and me on her human telepathic side. She was the original telepath and all that came after had to be her descendants, making us easy to find.

She had told us more than once that our love was written in the stars, fated to happen, because of who we were and our connection to her, I guess. Many vampires believed in fate, that things were destined to happen a certain way. I wondered how true that was, how much of our own lives we controlled.

I agreed that Eric and I seemed destined to be together. From the second I met Eric my life had veered off course, never to return to the outcomes I had planned. Eric was more than a husband, he was an adventure.

We exchanged greetings then followed her into her perfectly decorated light filled apartment. Decorated in tones of ivory, cream and accented with gold, the apartment was the epitome of good taste and elegance.

Brocade couches, gilded carved wood edges and legs and a huge white marble coffee table dominated the living room. To our left was an antique white carved marble fireplace, it looked French to me now that I had visited France.

On the mantle was the glowing golden pyramid I remembered from earlier visits, a pyramid that was somehow a transmitter to our founders, vampires from another planet. The pyramid sat silent tonight, no messages coming in.

After sitting down across the coffee table from her I explained about the visions I had been having. Her high arched brows raised in a pretty look of inquiry as I told her about the huge serpent that shot purple fire from its amethyst eyes.

"Are you uninjured?" she asked us, when I was done.

"Completely," I told her. "I was hoping your invitation meant that you could shed some light on what was happening to me."

Eric didn't say anything but I felt that he was less relaxed than he usually was. He was probably worried this was some new mission we would have to take on, something he didn't want to get mixed up in.

We wore our enchanted rings to prevent Anna Hita from glamouring us or reading our minds. We trusted her but it was better to be safe than sorry.

I wasn't even sure the rings worked. How would we know if she peeked into our thoughts? And if she glamoured us, then erased the memory of it with more glamour, how would we know about that either? Some things you just had to take on faith. I believed Anna Hita was our friend and ally.

"I wanted to see you, to find out how you were doing now that you are Vampire but of course we must see to this perplexing problem first. Let me get my scrying bowl so I can see what is troubling you," she said, going to a very old oak armoire and taking out a black opaque bowl. She pushed a button on the wall and a moment later Corinth silently entered the room.

"Please, fill the bowl," she told her assistant, handing her the large bowl cupped in both hands.

Anna Hita sat back down across from us, smoothing her skirt into place and crossing her shapely ankles. As usual she wore the most delicate and intricately woven hand made sandals, showing off her pedicured and perfect little feet. A diamond studded toe ring flashed as she moved.

Corinth went to an adjoining room and I heard water running from a tap. I wondered if Anna Hita had a regular kitchen sink back there to fill her scrying bowl.

It was hard to think of her having anything ordinary people had, like coat hangers, though she surely must need to hang up her many wonderful gowns. She was so exotic the idea of her hanging up her glamorous clothes at the approach of dawn just seemed too mundane a task.

"I should warn you," I said, as Corinth carefully placed the full bowl in the center of the table, "I went to a witch friend of mine and the table blew up when she tried to read the cards about this vision. Maybe there's a curse on me. Can you remove it if there is?"

Corinth, her face impassive,  gave us all a tiny nod and left as silently as she had appeared, leaving by the main door and, I think, locking it behind her. I had never heard the door being locked before. Anna Hita must definitely not want to be disturbed during this reading.

She smiled and nodded. "Oh yes, there is not anything under the moon that I do not know about. Do not fear, little daughter, soon all things will be clear." She leaned forward and blew on the surface of the water, causing it to ripple.

"The Bowl of Discovery is ready. Let us begin and see what we shall see."

She held her delicate ringed hands over the bowl and began to chant and sing a melody that seemed to have notes in a scale I never heard before. I took Eric's hand in mine and looked at him to see what he thought of all this.

He knew better than to be skeptical. Anna Hita was not just mumbo jumbo like many fortune tellers, she had real powers and she could get to the bottom of our problem if anyone could.

Still, he seemed stiff and uneasy. What was he afraid of? And if he was concerned about something, shouldn't I be on guard too?

more to come .....(Greetings Fanpires! They changed the posting format here so I hope this shows up as I wrote it. Glad to see you Gjiers! I am always so happy to hear from each of you, dear readers, when you get the chance. Wishing each of you healing and wellness, see you Wednesday.)


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

94 - Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman Look to the Future - Part Two

Chapter Ninety Four

The following night Eric greeted me with his usual enthusiastic and loving embraces but a little later I could see there was a guarded tension in his body language when he went to answer his cell phone.

His newest ring tone, "Time Is On My Side" was one of his favorite songs by the Rolling Stones. I wondered if any of them had become Vampire yet. Occasionally a famous human would shop around for a Maker, though they were getting harder and harder to find as the stringently enforced laws restricted all post- Great Revelation vampires to making a Child every hundred years.

As a newbie I would not be eligible to make my first Child for ninety nine more years. I thought of Jason and how slim his chance was of Turning if Pam didn't come around, and it didn't seem likely. I thought about Jure wanting to Turn Linda before he committed to marriage. I waited for Eric to finish his call.

"I see." was all he said before he closed his phone. He scrolled through his saved numbers until he found the one he wanted.

He made a second call to someone named Franco and asked for the services of Vito. He paced while he waited for confirmation that bodyguard Plan B was in place. He told Vito where to meet us and closed his phone.

I watched him while he paced. He was magnificent, naked from the waist up, waiting to see what color outfit I chose so he could co-ordinate his clothes to mine. I could also tell by the dance in his pants that he was going commando. Good thing the cashmere was so soft against his skin.

"The Bishop brothers are in Switzerland," Eric said. "I have retained someone else."

"Are they visiting those Yeti we saw?" I asked, chosing a lovely pure silk sky blue suit to wear to New Orleans. I matched it to a cream silk blouse.

No matter what I wore I would never be able to top Anna Hita's outfit. All her gowns were custom made, as tight as a second skin and covered with jewels or sequins. Her jewelry was always jaw dropping and exotic. She was probably the most glamorous woman in the world, her gorgeous outsides matching her beautiful insides. She was a peach.

Eric picked out a cream silk dress shirt from his closet and a tie that picked up the blue of my suit exactly. The silk shirt slid over his muscled torso in a most sensuous way. If we weren't in a hurry to leave I might have ravished him right there and then.

"I do not know why they are there, only that they will be unable to accompany us tonight. Aside from the visions we do not seem to be under actual attack. Our trip should be uneventful," he said as he dressed.

"Then why do I sense some caution in you?" I asked, coming up behind him to press myself against his back, wrap my arms around his chest and enjoy the feel of him. He smelled wonderful, like woods and spices and raw manliness.

After a moment he turned to face me, concern evident in his blue eyes. "I do not know why Anna Hita wants to see us. She is uniquely situated because of her affiliation with many powerful vampires. I do not want to get embroiled in another power struggle between super egos, we have too much going on right now to spend any time solving international vampire problems."

"She might be solving our problem," I reminded him. "Don't forget, Augustus seems to be actively trying to link us to his destroyed legion."

Eric's face changed to a scowl. "He is angry his plans for the world have been shelved, that his bid for his own country has been thwarted, but I will not allow him to take his frustration out on you."

I believed there was more to it than Augustus's ill humor over his derailed world domination plot. Augustus correctly surmised that I was directly responsible for the loss of a big chunk of his Nest. He didn't know exactly how I did it yet his belief that I had some kind of special powers would surely lead him to the conclusion that I used those powers to decimate his troops.

The loss of his legion meant a loss of power. There was nothing a Vampire hated more than to lose power because that reduced the chances of survival. The more wealth and fire power a vampire had, the more resources and resourceful the vampire, the more likely that vampire would live to rise another night.

Looking at the grim set to Eric's mouth as he tied his tie I thought that nothing was going to reduce Augustus's long term survival like coming after me. Auggie better back off. Eric didn't want my inadvertent and unfortunate destruction of the legion to result in my persecution. He would rather believe that Augustus was simply coming after me since he could no longer hope to rule the world. Maybe he was right.

Though Eric treated me to all his Nordic charms I could feel the tension pulsing around him as we boarded our private flight to New Orleans.

A huge werewolf named Vito, nicknamed "The Veto", went with us as a guard, summoned at the last minute when the Bishops weren't available. On the ride to the airstrip Eric had told me that Vito was a mercenary that did odd jobs for powerful vampires on a case by case basis. He was loyal to no one master, that must have left Eric feeling a little wary of him. Still, he had never betrayed anyone he worked for, as far as we knew, so he was better than nothing.

Aside from nodding at me Vito was as unobtrusive as a big muscle bound guy in a suit could be. A gun bulged under his arm and he carried a duffle bag, more weapons probably, and maybe a change of undies too. The night was crisp and cold but none of us wore coats. The flight was warm and comfortable, the landing smooth.

We arrived by hired car in front of Anna Hita's parlor without incident. Vito got out and looked around before holding the door open for us. Eric exited the limo, then me. As my foot hit the pavement two vampires in suits flashed up to us. Vito immediately put his bulk between us and them, reaching for his gun. Hair began to sprout from his face and neck as he assumed his more lethal wolfman form. He must be one of those that could change at will because the moon was new.

"Whoa, whoa there fella," the younger and shorter of the two well dressed vampires said laughingly, holding up his palms in a gesture of peace.

"This is just a simple subpena," the older vampire said in mellifluous tones, "not an attack."

He held out a piece of paper with elaborate scroll work around the edges to Eric.

Since the worse the older vampire could do with the subpoena was inflict a paper cut, Vito didn't pull his weapon. He looked to Eric for direction.

"I will accept the document," Eric said, his eyes a skating rink of icy calm. "Who are you?" he asked after he took the paper.

"I am Counselor at Law Banish Tell and this is my associate Lawson Wynn. We're with the law firm .."

" 'Tell and Wynn - You tell us your problem and we will win your case,' " I quoted from the TV commercial. Tell and Wynn had been the first vampire law firm to advertise on mainstream television and accept both vampire and human clients.

"Yes, indeed," Banish Tell beamed at me, pleased I knew his commercial by heart. "This is just a notice to appear before a tribunal and answer the charges. In your case I'm sure it will be a mere formality."

He gave a courtly bow. I didn't smile at him, though I was tempted to. Eric and Veto had stony and wary expressions so I tried to match them.

"How did you find us?" Eric asked.

The beautifully coiffed silver haired Banish had old fashioned Southern charm and a nice mannerly way about him, hard things for a good Louisiana small town girl raised as I was not to respond to, but I held firm, not smiling and looking at him as if at an inanimate object of little interest.

"We have our little ways," Banish said with a twinkle in his eye.

To human eyes Eric would have appeared to not move except perhaps to blur slightly. To vampire eyes, my eyes, I watched him travel across the street, rip a car door off the hinges, pull out a short ferret-faced human man in a bad brown suit and drag him back to us.

"Is he one of your little ways?" Eric asked, practically throwing the little man at Banish.

Banish caught him and set him upright, a living pawn in a game between the two vampires. He chuckled.

"Looks like you caught me out, sir. We have been watching your residence to try and interface with you to serve you the summons. Just one more service we offer at Tell and Wynn, where 'service is guaranteed' ." He was quoting from his TV ad again.

"We have the summons, now leave us and take him with you," Eric said, indicating the quaking human that was hiding behind Banish and clutching his sleeve for all he was worth.

Banish wrenched his arm free, frowning at the wrinkles in his suit jacket sleeve. "For heaven's sake man, get a grip," he ordered his employee.

The little man straightened up, his adam's apple bobbing up and down uncontrollably as he tried to get control of his fear. If vampires scared him so much he shouldn't work for them.

Banish looked the gigantic Vito up and down and laughed with genuine merriment. "Is this here mighty hunk of canine manpower you all's body guard?"

He didn't even wait for an answer, just nodded at Lawson signaling it was time to go.

"We wish you a good evening sir, madam," Lawson Wynn said with a tiny nod, walking backwards a bit to take his leave. He didn't want to get attacked on his way back to wherever he came from. The older Banish was more confident and turned to take his leave.

The two attorneys, their human spy nipping at their heels like a frightened puppy, walked away at human speed after they were sure we weren't going to come after them and rip their limbs off.

Eric unfurled and read the paper for a moment, folded it, and put it in his inside suit jacket pocket. If the two vampires had been determined to attack us I saw that Vito, as imposing as he looked, would have been as useless as tits on a boar. No wonder Banish was smirking.

Vito's reflexes were not fast enough to thwart a full on vampire attack and his strength was probably not adequate either. At night he was window dressing, pure and simple, unless some human sent their human flunky to kill us. 

Vito straightened his tie, smoothed back the sides of his well oiled hair and shot his cuffs as if he had just roughed somebody up. His excess hair had already disappeared, his pointed ears and muzzle almost gone.

As if Eric was reading my mind he dismissed Vito back to our hotel room. The big guard skulked away, ashamed that he hadn't noticed we were being tailed. During the day he would come in handy to guard our safe room which would hold our travel containers. He was one more layer of security to prevent the unthinkable.

"Is it bad?" I asked Eric after Vito left, indicating the subpoena.

"On the contrary, it is good. Augustus is going through proper legal channels to try and find out what happened in Kloster. He wants us to answer questions under oath. He is not going to be stupid enough to try vigilante justice or illegal magic."

"Then if it's not Augustus that's sending those creepy visions, who is it?" I asked.

"That is what we are here to find out," Eric said, opening the door for me.

more to come ..... (Wonderful Wednesday everyone! So glad to be able to post another chapter and wait to see what you think. It makes my whole week more fun! Hoping you are well and getting better.)