Several of you asked if I was leaving FFdotNet. I`m not. Not unless I`m thrown out. But I got an amazing offer from Reefchic7. She offered to make me a blog with all my stories and in just a few days she gave me the most beautiful blog you can imagine – a fancy home away from home for my fanfics. Go check it out: thyra10 dot wordpress dot com.
I want to thank Suki59 for being such a great beta. In this chapter she had even more than usual to work with *blushes*. One day, Suki, one day I`ll learn all the things you keep correcting in my stories.
I don`t own Eric, Sookie or the rest of the characters in this story. I wish I did but I`m just not as creative as Charlaine Harris.
Eric had a way of finding his way into my heart and I had a huge grin plastered on my face.
Eric was more than a handsome man and an amazing lover. He was smart and funny and also very considerate and sweet. At least when he wanted to be. He had a few flaws too but I was slowly coming to accept them. Sort of.
That was what ran through my mind when I was washing myself in the river. Eric wasn`t there with me (or I wouldn`t have been washing myself – he would).
Andre Beardless had come to the meadow when we were lying there enjoying the feeling of bliss.
He`d had looked at me as if I`d done something wrong and then he`d told Eric to come with him to meet the Queen. As if Eric hadn`t spent almost all his waking hours with the Queen since we got back from the blot.
Eric had given me a light kiss on my nose but I hadn`t liked his furrowed brows much.
Still, standing naked in the river, thinking about Eric made me grin. I couldn`t spend all my time worrying. I`d done that for a lifetime already – Jason was the kind of brother who made you anticipate all kinds of evils. Thinking about Eric instead – Eric`s good sides – was a nice change.
I took my time in the river. I wanted to be clean and I wanted to smell good as I hoped Eric would be back in my bed tonight. Preferably awake and not too exhausted by whatever the Queen demanded of him.
No sweat, no blood, no fear of imminent death. It was a nice thought.
Then I shook my head at myself, pining for Eric just after he`d left me to join Andre.
I ducked under, hoping the cold water would bring me back to my usual self. I was not normally a woman who grinned just because she`d had perfect sex. Or found a man she … liked.
When I came up again I walked to the edge of the river, dried off and got dressed. Since I was trying to deny my brain the joy of thinking about Eric and what I wanted to do to his body when the Queen was done with him, I started wondering about what the Queen wanted with him. Why the many conversations? Why the frustrations? Why wasn`t I included?
I was relieved to see Rasul the Friendly, especially since he clearly came to see me. I`d been kept out of all the meetings and didn`t know what was going on. Maybe finally someone would tell me what the Queen wanted?
“The Queen wants you,” he said with a smile.
I laughed which made Rasul lift an eyebrow.
“No, it`s ….” I wasn`t sure how to explain my laughter. “I was just wondering what the Queen wanted and now you`re telling me she wants me.”
Rasul laughed a little too, probably because he was friendly enough to laugh because I found something hilarious, not because he thought I`d said something particularly funny.
“But I`m ready.” I tried to wipe the amusement off my face. Literally, actually. But it was still there, deep down in my stomach and wiping my face didn`t make me smile any less.
“Let`s go,” Rasul said and took my hand – something I found a little funny but I was sure his intentions were good. When he later moved his hand to my elbow I felt a little more comfortable. His touch indicated we needed to hurry but it wasn`t as personal as holding my hand had been.
We`d walked for a little while when I realized he wasn`t taking me back to the village. Instead he led me past the meadow, over the hills and into the forest.
“Where are we going?” I asked when I felt we`d come a little too far away from the village.
“The Queen is checking out our defenses. I promised to take you to her.”
“Do you know what she wants from me?”
He glanced at me, his smile reassuring. “She probably just wants to discuss your role in the battle against Felipe.”
I shrugged. There was something Rasul wasn`t telling me. Rasul was nice but he was also loyal so I didn`t think there would be much point in asking him for secrets he couldn`t reveal. And even if there`d been a point, I didn`t want to put Rasul in that position.
I knew the Queen didn`t entirely trust me and I started going over the possible reasons for that lack of trust. Eric had mentioned that my not going home with him when Jason had lost his hand was looked upon as suspicious – which only showed that Queen Sophie-Anne was an only child. Anyone would have stayed with her sibling if he`d just lost an important body part.
And why would I not support Queen Sophie-Anne? It wasn`t as if I – a shieldmaiden – would suddenly transfer my allegiance to a king who was opposed to female warriors.
We`d been walking through the forest for quite some time without seeing anyone. Wouldn`t the Queen have people watching her back if she were that far away from the village? After all, Felipe could land his army anywhere and at any time and Queen Sophie-Anne didn`t need to be caught unaware.
I pulled my elbow out of Rasul`s grab, surprised that he`d held on to it for so long, that I had allowed it, and grabbed the hilt of my sword.
It must have been my intuition – maybe that special feeling I usually only got when I was in battle – because I knew there were people in the forest. And not Queen Sophie-Anne`s people.
I touched Rasul to make him stop. “Watch out,” I whispered and pointed at my eyes and then at the forest.
He stared at me for a few moments. Then he held the hilt of his sword too and looked in the direction I`d pointed.
“What did you see?”
“Not sure.” I hadn`t seen anything but that didn`t mean there weren`t people around. Because there were. And they weren`t friendly.
Rasul and I stood back to back and slowly we moved sideways, scanning the forest, listening for movement.
“Are you sure it wasn`t any of our people?” Rasul whispered.
I nodded but since he had his back turned to me I also whispered back. “Very.”
I wanted to find a good place to fight, a place we`d chosen, not somewhere where we would be ambushed but Rasul walked us deeper into the forest and since he was the local person, I followed him.
I released my sword Instead of pulling it out and grabbed my knife since it was much handier in close combat, especially in the middle of a forest where low-hanging branches could get caught in the longer sword.
With my eyes wide open, I walked closer to danger, trusting Rasul to know we were going in the right direction. Trusting that he knew the forest well enough to bring us through it alive.
The forest was thick where we walked and the descending sun couldn`t quite penetrate the branches of the pine trees. I stared into the darkness between the trees, holding back my breath to catch any sound but the only movement I saw was Rasul and he was also the only one making any sounds. Way too many sounds. When this was over I would have to give him a lesson in walking in silence. He was like a group of toddlers on their way to a blackberry hill, stomping and grunting and breathing like every breath was his last.
I was just about to turn around and tell him to be quiet when I first had the knowledge that someone was going to hold me down and then, almost when that thought entered my head, I felt strong hands around my torso and I was thrown to the ground and my knife was knocked out of my hand.
Instinctively I fought, but then I saw that it was Rasul and I stopped for a moment. Why had he thrown me to the ground? Was he trying to protect me?
And then the truth hit me. We weren`t going to Queen Sophie-Anne at all.
I fought Rasul with everything I had in me. I kicked and tried to punch him even with his weight on my arms. I squirmed and screamed – and then everything went black.
The sun hitting my eyes when I opened them called out a headache the size of a three-day drinking party gone wrong. I quickly closed them again but it was too late. The hammer pounding on the anvil, better known as my brain, was not going to stop any time soon.
I took a deep breath through my nose and tried to clear my head, headache or not.
I was inside a house and it was day, judging from the sun that came through the smoke hole in the ceiling. Those were the two conclusions I could draw from the few moments I`d had my eyes open. Wiggling my hands I came to a third conclusion. I was tied up.
Someone had put me in a bed and I didn`t seem to have been beaten or hurt in any other way than what could be explained by whatever had hit me over the head and my fight with Rasul.
What a double-crossing bastard!
I`d never had many guidelines in my life but I`d always had the one: “Never trust a handsome guy.” Actually it was more like “never trust anyone” but handsome guys were at the top of my not-to-be-trusted list.
And yet I`d bought Rasul`s handsome, friendly smile and thought he only meant well. It had never even crossed my mind that he might be a spy. Or whatever he was.
Then I thought back at all the meetings Eric had been to with the Queen and the small remarks about her not trusting him. Oh, she should have known just whom she couldn`t trust.
Unless … my breath caught. Unless, it was the Queen who`d knocked me down and tied me up. Hadn`t Eric mentioned that she didn`t trust me? Maybe she`d had Rasul knock me down so that she could kill me without Eric ever knowing what had happened?
Maybe Eric would think I had run away if I died now and my body was never found?
For some strange reason that thought really hurt.
“Wake up, Sookie,” a voice said. There was something about the voice, a hidden accent or something, that I couldn`t place. “Open your eyes.”
Slowly I opened my eyes, which made the hammer pound even harder on my inner anvil. I focused on the man standing there, looking down at me. He was very handsome with his dark hair and eyes and that black bear skin draped over his shoulders. But he looked cruel too.
“Felipe,” I groaned. It was half a statement, half a question. He certainly looked regal enough to be a chief aspiring to be a king and he was living up to his name Felipe the Elegant.
“That would be King Felipe to you,” he said with a sardonic smile. “Sookie the Shieldmaiden.”
He managed to make the word “shieldmaiden” sound like a curse word.
“Why am I here?” I asked, my voice dry and rusty.
Felipe smiled. “You will find out soon enough.”
I tried to stand up, wanting to be big and menacing, and managed after a few less than dignified tries. Felipe`s smile never left his lips.
“You`re not weak,” he stated. “You`ll give Eric strong sons.”
I blinked, not understanding what Eric`s offspring was to Felipe but then I remembered how he wanted to adopt Eric as his own and how Eric`s mother had fled Eric`s birthplace to prevent just that.
“I`m a shieldmaiden. Shieldmaidens don`t have children.”
Felipe laughed as if I`d said something funny.
“It`s a woman`s place to have children. You`ve had your fun. Now it`s time to think about the future.”
“I don`t kill people for the fun of it,” I said, though I tried to keep my mouth shut. One should never argue with people like Felipe. Not unless you carried a sword. Swords were always better for discussions than just your mouth. “I`m a good fighter.”
Felipe`s smile disappeared and he looked deeply into my eyes. “You`re a woman, Sookie. You should embrace that fact. And a beautiful woman, at that.” He looked down my body. “You have good childbearing hips and will be able to provide Eric with many good sons.” He paused and was back at staring me in the eye. “Eric deserves a real wife – not some sword-wielding crazy-woman.”
“Maybe Eric should be the judge of that.” Yes, it was a pathetic comeback but I was tied up and had a headache. How brilliant can one be under those circumstances?
Felipe grinned. “Yes, let us let Eric be the judge of that.”
And with that he left me.
If I`d thought I would be left alone, that I would be allowed to crawl back onto the bed to sleep the headache away or to plan my escape – I wasn`t sure which of the two I had the energy for – I was wrong. Soon after Felipe had left me, four women entered the house and, to my joy, they started untying the ropes on my hands.
I took a quick look at them and decided I could easily knock them down but then one of them looked at me and whispered, “Please, don`t try to escape. They will kill my son if you do.”
The other three nodded and they seemed scared enough to kill my desire to knock them down and run away. Felipe was smart.
I was told that the woman was called Heidi and that she was supposed to make me look like a “real woman” – which made me wish her good luck – and that it was important that I looked my best.
“Why?” I asked but Heidi just shrugged and I wasn`t sure if it was because she didn`t know or because she couldn`t tell me.
Instead of writing a long A/N I`ll show you pictures this time. And since one can`t have as many pictures on this site as I would like, I`m going to redirect you to my fancy new blog, made by Reefchic7. I`ve posted pictures of the things you`ve asked me about – clothes, houses and ships. The address is thyra10 dot wordpress dot com. Go take a look!