A/N I’ve included some lemon goodness for ya, as its been a while!
No one really knows exactly what Cleopatra’s Palace looked like, so I took some creative license okay? 🙂 Also, anything can happen during meditation, stay with me on this one!
Ata needs to heal a little after nearly dying on the floor of Felipe’s mansion, and although shopping would be good I think she needs to emotionally heal, and given that she’s a family woman this was all I could think of. Sorry if it’s a little bit filler-y and whimsical, but it leads to a SUPER important discussion next chapter and it does give a few bits of info out too.
Also, I’m dying to know what your interpretations of the AP’s riddle are, so if you feel like sharing them then let me know, I love to hear all of your thoughts on such major things!
There are places I’ll remember all my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living, in my life I’ve loved them all
But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning when I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them in my life
I love you more though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life I love you more
In my life I love you more
~ In My Life, The Beatles
A tightening sensation in my lower stomach slowly started to rouse me from my sleep, along with a cool feeling drifting along my sides. Groaning quietly at the contrast between the cool feeling on my sides and my warm skin, I felt myself being pulled from my slumber. A light scratching sensation on the inside of my thighs caused me to frown, my eyes still closed as I tried to remember my location. It wasn’t until one long, languorous lick was placed at the apex of my legs did I remember where I was, and more importantly, who I was with. A breathy chuckle caused me to moan as Eric’s cool breath hit my warm center, his hands creeping up my sides to grasp my waist. His mouth was back on my core a moment later, his talented lips, tongue and teeth nipping, licking and sucking. Grasping at the bed sheets, my back arched, making me pant as he continued his ministrations, his slight stubble rubbing against my smooth skin. “Eric.” I moaned, my hands shifting from the bed sheets to his golden locks, my fingers tangling themselves in his unsettled bed hair.
With another chuckle he replaced his mouth, tongue and teeth with his fingers as he slid up my body, his cool frame resting against mine. “Good evening lover.” His husky whisper caused my insides to coil tighter as he crooked his fingers into a come-hither motion, internally stroking me, coaxing me to my release.
“Evening, Eric.” I groaned in response, unable to arch my body up due to his weight above me. Shifting beneath him, I lifted my head, capturing his lips with my own. His fingers changed angle, hitting the sensitive patch inside of me as his lips fused with my own, our eyes fluttering shut as we gave up one of our senses, letting the others overpower us. Nibbling on my lower lip with his blunt teeth, I opened my mouth a little, allowing him access. His tongue rolled into my mouth, tasting every part of me he could. Slipping my arms around his neck I pulled his alabaster body closer to my own, feeling his firm muscles against me, his heavy arousal against my stomach. Tilting my head sideways, my own tongue entered his mouth, battling for dominance, causing my vampire to growl quietly. His thumb shifted, landing on my nub, which he started to rub furiously, using the speed his immortality had given him to work me into frenzy. The tightening sensation in my lower abdomen was almost unbearable now and, breaking free from his lips to gasp for air, I came undone beneath him, crying out his name as his lips moved down my neck where he laved wet, open-mouthed kisses to the creamy skin he found there.
My eyes fluttered open as Eric slowly extracted his fingers from me, raising them to his lips before he sucked on them for a while, allowing me time to catch my breath. The Cheshire Cat grin painted on his features gave me the courage to grab his hand, pulling his fingers into my own mouth to taste myself on him. My little display earned me a lustful growl from my Viking. Letting go of his fingers with an audible ‘pop’ Eric wasted no time before he slipped into me with ease. It had amused me, from our very first coupling, that I was able to take all of his ‘gracious plenty’ without a struggle. During the few times I had visited Fangtasia before we had become an item I had heard from the minds of many of the whores there that few were able to completely accommodate him. It made me proud to know I could, as if we were designed that way. Heck if what The Ancient Pythoness had been saying last night was anything to go by, that we were indeed fated, then of course we were designed to fit together in every which way!
Although it had been a while since we had last engaged in such activities, which I found startling giving Eric’s insatiable appetite for blood and sex, I didn’t need much time at all to adjust to him. With a rock of my hips I encouraged him and his lips met mine in a searing kiss. Slowly he withdrew from me until just the tip of him was still inside of me, then he slammed on home as he parted my lips, thrusting his tongue into my mouth to match the movement of his hips. His tongue tasted every crevice of my mouth, tangling with my own tongue in a show of possessiveness. His hands moved over my body and it felt like he had more than two of them. One moment they were resting on my hips, the next they were trailing across my arms, dipping down the swell of my breasts, circling the curvature underneath them. Eventually they settled, one resting on my hip, a firm and steady hold on me, the other tangled in my hair. I found the weight of his hand on my hip reassuring as he used it for leverage, helping me to rise and fall with each thrust. His hold on me was comforting but not suffocating, it was the way our relationship had become now we had finally acknowledged our feelings for one another. The thought caused me to smile against my Viking’s lips.
He pulled back, allow me to breathe but to also showcase his slightly quirked eyebrow, and the genuine smile painted onto his lips as his hips kept up the steady and strong rhythm, my own hips meeting his thrust for thrust. “What has you smiling, min ängel?” he asked in a whisper, leaning down to press a kiss to the tip of my nose. By stretching up a little to reach, the angle of his thrusts shifted and together we groaned at the new sensation.
“You. Us. How much everything has changed. Your hold on me, it makes me feel safe.” I whispered honestly, losing myself in his endless cerulean orbs as one of my small hands trailed down my side, resting upon the back of his large hand that clutched on to me.
“I will always keep you safe, my Sookie.” He whispered in response, the hand that had been in my hair had moved to my cheek, cradling it. I always felt so small in comparison to him. “I love you.” He reminded me as his thrusts took on a sharper, more urgent pace. Gasping at the sudden shift, I tipped my head back, my eyelids fluttering shut for a moment. I felt Eric lick at my neck, my clavicle, and the valley of my breasts.
“I love you too.” I rasped in response, panting in a desperate attempt to draw in air as his pace quickened, unrelenting and yet loving at the same time. His hand left my hair and swiftly dived between our joined bodies to the little bundle of nerves between my legs. He rubbed it with the calloused pad of his thumb, a signal of the harsh life he had faced in his human years, as his lips met mine once again, consuming me completely. If it were at all possible for me to give up breathing and yet maintain my heartbeat, to never have to peel my lips away from his, I would do it in an instant. I belonged with Eric, joined with him this way.
The tightening sensation started in my lower stomach once again, signaling my slow climb to my release and numerous grunts and growls were tumbling from Eric’s lips, informing me that he too would soon be reaching his end. Our bond was wide open and the vast amounts of love and adoration he was pouring into it caused a few stray tears to slip down my cheeks. There was nothing quite like being adored so completely, to know that you were treasured and loved, especially by a man as incredible and powerful as Eric. Peeling his lips from mine once more, he licked my tears away, his eyelids concealing his beautiful eyes from the world as his head fell forward and his forehead rested against my jugular notch.
“I love you, my bonded, my Sookie.” He breathed against my sweat-dampened skin as he continued to thrust into me, my legs scrabbling to lock around his. My shields were none-existent at the moment, my mind elsewhere, so I could clearly hear Eric thinking his words in his native tongue first and then translating them to English so he could utter them to me, what was even better was that I could get the pronunciation down pact.
Deciding to try using his own language with him, I extracted my favorite part of the sentence. “Jag älskar dig.” I murmured against the top of his head. The moment the words left my lips his thrusts stopped, which caused me to mewl in protest. Very slowly he lifted his head, his eyelids snapping back so his bright blue eyes could meet mine, glazed over with his lust. He grinned at me, the corners of his lips almost touching his eyes he was that happy.
“Say it again.” He begged as I rocked my hips against his, reminding him that he was still buried deep inside of me. He took the hint and started with his sharp, deep thrusts once more.
“Jag älskar dig.” I groaned as continued his unrelenting pace, swiping the sensitive patch inside of me on the down thrust.
“Louder.” He demanded as he grasped hold of my thighs, parting them wide to allow him deeper.
“Jag älskar dig!” I cried out as Eric’s fangs snapped down. He suddenly flipped us so his back was on the bed and I was straddling his waist. Needing some form of support I placed my hands on either side of his head, leaning forward to gain a better angle. Eric’s hips were relentless in their rise and fall, the speed he had gained when he had been given his immortal life enabled him to continue pounding into me while making it look like he was having a nice relaxing day, or should I say night, at the beach. His large hands grabbed at my behind, helping me rise and fall in time with him. I could hear the bed creaking beneath us but I was too far-gone to care. I wanted my release so badly!
My new position, leaning forward, enabled Eric to raise his head, capturing my left nipple in his mouth. His fangs grazed my skin as he sucked on the dusty nub, laving his tongue across it moments later. His right hand let go of my behind to grasp at my other breast, his fingers pinching and playing with it in perfect time with his thrusts and his mouth on my left breast. I gasped, grabbing onto his shoulders as he swapped over, his mouth paying attention to my right breast as his hand let go, slipping down our joined bodies where he started to rub me furiously. I felt the tightening sensation constrict and, just as it snapped, his fangs slid effortlessly into the skin just above my nipple, allowing him to not only take my blood but to continue pleasuring me at the same time. All of the sensations coursing through my veins threw me over the edge with impressive force and, as my orgasm hit, I cried out Eric’s name like a mantra, my nails digging into his shoulders in exquisite pleasure. Seconds later his mouth parted from my breast, a primal growl, mixed with a pleasured cry, rang out through the bedroom as the tightening of my inner muscles pulled his own release from him, his cool seed dousing the heat inside of me.
Slumping forward I collapsed onto his chest, gulping in air as my body continued to shudder and ripple with the aftershocks. I was aware of the two little puncture marks on my breast but I couldn’t care any less at that moment in time. Eric’s fingers lazily drew patterns across my clammy back as we lay together in post-coital bliss. For a few minutes I was content, relishing in the feel of his cool body against my own. That was until I realized he was awake, and that meant it was the evening.
“OH MY GOD!” I yelped, scrabbling out of bed in the direction of the bathroom to clean myself up before dressing.
“What’s the matter?” Eric’s calm voice floated into the bathroom, through the door, as I took care of my human needs – emptying my screaming bladder and brushing my teeth.
“You’re awake, which means it’s nighttime! I’ve slept the whole day away!” I exclaimed, turning on the shower before I stepped in, washing myself with speed that even Eric would probably have been proud of.
“And what’s wrong with sleeping the whole day away? I’ve done that for the past 1000 years.” Eric teased me as I stepped out of the bathroom in a towel. He was dressed in one of his trademark black wife beaters and had just pulled on some underwear. While I would have liked him commando if we were back home, for impromptu romps, we were in the presence of others so it was only right for him to be properly dressed.
Of course the moment I stepped out in my towel the boxers he’d just pulled on started to look rather tight as he eyed me hungrily. “You gotta be kidding me? You want a round two already?” I sighed, moving to the wardrobe where I pulled out a fresh pair of panties and a bra, along with a pair of comfy blue Capri’s and a white tank top.
“Oh I’m always ready for another round with you, lover.” He purred right into my ear, causing me to jump with his sudden closeness. His firm body was pressed against my back and I could feel the evidence of his willingness for another round.
“Later.” I whispered as blood flooded to my cheeks, turning them a rosy colour. Eric’s fangs snapped down at the sight and, wagging my finger at him, he soon retracted them with a leer.
Dressing quickly we both left our bedroom. I felt bad about the fact I had slept the day away given how injured Ata had been last night. She’d probably needed me during the day to help her out and yet I’d be locked away with Eric instead.
We wandered into the living area just as Pam, Godric and Bubba emerged from their respective bedrooms. Flo was in the kitchen and the moment she heard us enter she turned around, a large grin on her lips as she dashed towards me, pulling me into her embrace. “You’re awake Miss Sookie! Miss Ata was worried about you all day!” She confirmed my worst fears. Ata had been awake, and alone, during the day.
“It reeks of death in here.” Pam commented with a wrinkle of her nose in disgust, breaking up my moment with Flo and snapping me out my guilt trip.
Flo’s face fell a little and she nodded sadly. “We had some unwanted werewolf visitors today, Miss Ata had to take them all out.” She stated solemnly, gesturing towards a darkened patch of carpet just in front of the bar stools.
“We were attacked?” Eric growled from beside me, his gaze fixed on Flo as he awaited confirmation. She nodded her head, moving back into the kitchen area to continue cooking whatever it was that was on the hob.
“Ata has guards, why didn’t they take care of it?” Godric growled out, clearly displeased with the fact his bonded had been forced to fight off attackers only hours after suffering a major trauma
“They tried to Mr. Godric, but the unwanted visitors took them out relatively quickly. I had to call in the people from the Las Vegas City Morgue to help get rid of the pile of bodies in here. They’re very boring there, they dress in black all the time and hardly ever smile.” Flo scowled, as if dressing in black and refusing to smile was the highest crime in the world. I had to stop myself from laughing.
“All of Miss Ata’s guards were killed?” Bubba spoke up with a gasp, and I remembered then that this was Elvis Presley! I was in the same room as The King! Of course I could remember Ata’s warning that I was not to call him by his human name, but it was taking everything in me not to squeal in delight and fangirl.
“Yes, and all the unwanted visitors. Miss Ata and I were having a lovely quiet breakfast when she ‘heard’ the scuffle downstairs.” Flo tapped her head, as if we didn’t know Ata could read minds. I was surprised to know Ata had shared that information with her human housemaid. “The unwanted visitors killed off her guards and then came on up here, tried to kill us both, were demanding to know where you were all resting. Of course she used those pretty lights that come from her hands to kill them all before they could get to any of you.” Flo sounded proud of my cousin, and I had to admit that I was pretty proud of her too. Now if only I could take on a pack of werewolves myself.
“Where is she?” Godric demanded, seamlessly slipping back into his role of possessive protector once again. Tipping his head back he sniffed the air, trying to detect Ata underneath all the different scents.
“Shortly after the cleanup crew left she went upstairs to the training room. Mr. Ari and his brothers joined her up there just as the sun set.” Flo informed us as she grabbed a saltshaker from the cupboard. I had no idea what she was cooking but it smelt incredible.
The moment Ari’s name slipped from Flo’s lips I was bombarded with Pam’s mental musings. “Ari’s awake! I wonder what he’s wearing this evening. Will he ignore me for that little kiss last night? Shush Pam, play it cool, let him come to you. You already made the first move last night!” She mentally chastised herself as Eric, Godric and Bubba started to head for the slightly shifted bookcase that concealed the entrance to Ata’s training room.
Pam had kissed Ari last night? Well I certainly hadn’t seen that one coming! My eyebrow quirked itself all of its own accord as Pam turned to look at me, and her eyes widened in realization that I had heard her. “Shit, shit, shit! Sookie heard me! Oh my god! Please don’t tell Eric, or anyone else!” She mentally begged me.
I wouldn’t take pity on Pam, she would hate that, but I would respect her privacy and her wishes. “I promise not to, don’t worry.” I reassured her as we trudged up the stairs.
“This is so weird.” My new blonde vampiress friend commented on our ability to communicate mentally. I mentally laughed, causing Pam to prod me in the back in annoyance as she felt my laughter in her mind. With a sheepish grin I withdrew from her thoughts, allowing her to once again have her privacy.
All of the lights in the training room were off; the only light illuminating the room was from the moon as it shone through the huge windows overlooking Vegas. “Oh it’s beautiful up here.” Pam commented quietly, taking in the sight. I couldn’t help but agree. At the far end of the room the hunched over form of Ata was resting on a woven mat. Her head dipped down, her hands together as if she were praying. She was silent, unmoving. Her blonde locks were a little matted and her skin looked, even from a distance, still a little dirty.
“What’s she doing?” I whispered, unsure as it whether I was supposed to be silent or not. All of Ata’s boys were stood near the door, Ari being the one closest to me. Ari didn’t respond right away, his eyes meeting Pam’s for a moment as he offered her a warm smile. It didn’t seem to me like Ari regretted his little kiss with Pam last night.
“Meditating.” He finally answered me as Godric slowly approached her, a look of concern etched onto her features. “She does this every time after she’s been hurt, to help calm her and soothe her emotions. Usually she waits until nightfall so we can join her, but apparently she’s been up here for hours now.” He explained as Godric crouched next to her, brushing her hair from her face. The moment his fingers ghosted over her temple he gasped, pulling his hand back and losing his balance, landing on his behind beside her.
“What the…?” he exclaimed, eyes wide as he turned to Ari for answers. The Egyptian vampire pushed off from the wall and sauntered over towards the slightly older vampire. Dropping my shields I attempted to breech Ata’s mind, but I was met with a big ol’ blank. Scowling, I took Eric’s hand, pulling him closer towards the meditating form of my cousin. Ata’s other boys, along with Bubba and Pam, followed close behind us.
“Incredible isn’t it? The moment you touch her she can pull you into her meditation.” He breathed, crouching down on the other side of my cousin.
“She’s back home.” I heard Godric whisper in awe, feeling Eric’s concern through our bond. I took a moment to check all of my other ties with the other vampires in the room. Bubba and Pam were just as confused as Eric, Godric’s emotions were all over the place and yet the emotions of Ata’s boys could only be described as amused.
“She wants us all to join her, most likely. Everyone take each others hands.” He turned to look over his shoulder, instructing us all on what to do. Pam instantly grabbed his free hand, causing the Egyptian to try and hide his smile. I noted his brothers trying to suppress their grins too.
Eric’s nostrils flared then, now he was close enough to Pam, and a frown settled onto his features. “Pam, why on earth do you smell like Ari?” he questioned as everyone turned to look at the blonde vampiress. She opened her mouth to respond but Ari beat her to it.
“Pam and I forgot to forge a bond yesterday while everyone else was, so we exchanged just before going to our day rest and neither of us had time to shower, hence why my scent still lingers on Pam, and hers on me.” He responded easily with a smile, but I could feel Eric’s disbelief through the bond.
I knew he wouldn’t push the issue right now, so he took hold of Pam’s spare hand, still clutching mine in the other. Unsure as whom I wanted to offer my hand to; the choice was taken from me as Bubba took it. I had to stop myself from squealing, but of course every vampire in the room could feel my excitement and glee at getting to hold hands with Elvis! Bubba’s eyes turned to me and he offered me a knowing smile. I felt myself blush; the last thing I wanted to do was to remind him of his human years and upset him. “It’s okay Miss Sookie, Miss Ata reacted the exact same way.” He offered me a reassuring smile.
“Sorry.” I mumbled, kneeling down on the floor as Eric and Pam did, bringing Bubba with me. On the other side of Ata, Godric had taken hold of Khai, who in turn had a hold on Riei, who was holding onto Oeri who was holding onto Oscar. Egor and Agmund were staying out of whatever was about to happen, so that they could defend us should there be another attack. I felt bad for the Viking vampires sometimes, they always seemed to be left out of everything, used for the brute strength their ages gave them.
“You need to take hold of her hand on my count of three.” He instructed Godric before he looked down both lines of people. “Close your eyes the moment we take her hands, and no one break off physical connection in this realm or else we all lose the connections and are pulled back, alright?” Ari instructed us all. All I could do was nod, feeling nervous about what was coming. Eric was pushing calm at me through our bond and I was suddenly overwhelmed with a tidal wave of it as every other vampire in the room sent me the same emotion.
“Thanks guys.” I whispered, trying to push back my gratitude though I was unsure if they all received it given the weakness of our bonds.
“One, Two, Three…” Ari counted, grabbing Ata’s hand on three as Godric did. Screwing my eyes shut I gasped as I felt myself being pulled in all directions, but as soon as the sensation started it stopped, and cautiously I opened my eyes.
The sight I was greeted with caused my jaw to drop. “Cheese and rice.” I whispered, looking up at the building before me. It was then I realized the sun was up. “THE SUN!” I squeaked, turning my attention the vampires that had accompanied me. I expected them to be burning, but they weren’t. Those who had never done this journey before, which meant all but Ata’s boys, were lifting their arms into the sky, observing them with wide eyes as they saw themselves in the sunlight for the first time in years, centuries, millennia. Even little Oscar, who had only recently been turned, was wide-eyed.
“The sun here won’t burn you, but you’ll feel its heat.” Khai explained.
Ari was watching Pam as she drank in the sight of the sunlight bouncing off of her skin. Although it was probably wrong of me I dropped my shields to take a peak in his head. “I knew she would look beautiful in the sunlight, even more beautiful than she does under the moon.” I slowly pulled myself from his mind, allowing him his privacy; a smile on my lips as I realized that Ari was as attracted to Pam as she was to him.
“Come, Ata is waiting for us.” Khai broke into the silence the other vampires had created. Slowly, and with awe filled eyes, they allowed their arms to drop back to their sides. It was only then that Godric raised his head, and the moment his eyes clapped onto the building before us a stray red tear slipped down his cheek.
“I haven’t been here for so long.” He breathed, looking over the architecture. I took a moment myself to look at the building before me. It was huge, magnificent, built entirely of limestone by the looks of it. There were four huge Sphinx’s leading the way to a staircase, two on either side of the path. They had of course been hand carved, as machines for such a job were a long way off being invented during the period of Ancient Egypt, and the years of work that had so obviously gone into them made them all the more beautiful. We walked along the path towards the staircase, my eyes never lingering on one thing for too long. It was utterly beautiful here, everything was sandy coloured, certain features accented by colour, such as the winged woman that sat above the huge gated arch that led into the compound we were about to enter.
“The winged Isis.” Riei murmured in my ear as I continued to stare at it in awe. “Queen Cleopatra is Isis reincarnated, it is only fitting she have her symbol above the entrance to her palace, as a show to others of her status and power.” He explained, causing me to gasp once again. Cleopatra’s palace, we were entering Cleopatra’s palace! The high limestone walls surrounding the palace would prevent any attackers from entering that way, and it seemed like this was the only entrance and exit. Walking through the gate, we entered a passageway carved into the thick limestone walls, huge carvings on either side of the walkway made the short trip incredibly informative.
“That’s Horus, our God of the King and vengeance,” he gestured towards a hawk headed God, “that’s Bes, our household God, he protects the family,” he gestured towards a small, dwarf-like God, whose name I recognized from the ceremony that opened my mind to vampire thoughts. “That’s Thoth, the God that taught us how to write and gifted us with knowledge,” he gestured to the other side of the passageway, to a god with the head of an ibis, “and that’s Osiris, our God of the underworld, he keeps an eye on the dead, ironically enough.” Riei grinned at me, obviously happy that one of his Gods paid special attention to him now that he was immortal.
Although Riei had been explaining everything to me, and I had been soaking it up like a sponge, I had also been watching Godric. His fingers had trailed over the carvings as we’d walked through the passageway, and he’d been muttering to himself in a language I had never heard of before. He was even thinking in the same language so there was no way I was able to decipher his words. It was apparent though that he was finding it difficult to process everything. I myself was finding it difficult to process it all. This was Ancient Egypt, in all its glory, the place where Ata had grown up, where she had found companionship and love with Godric.
We entered a massive courtyard with a huge open space in the middle. The sides were covered, thick limestone columns supporting the heavy rock roof that provided some shade. Numerous other passageways were dotted around, leading to areas I had no clue about. The place was huge though. Raising a hand I started to use it to fan myself. Khai was right, it was incredible warm, and I was pleased I’d donned such light clothing, but I still wasn’t use to such heat. Of course it was warm in Louisiana, in the summer it was rather balmy, but the heat here was different, it was fiercer. The floor beneath my feet was sandy and as I looked down I realized I hadn’t popped on any shoes earlier, so the warm sand was slipped between my toes. I felt like I was on the beach. Everything looked so real, felt so real, smelt so real. I could detect the warm scent that hot countries usually gave off and the fresh water smell from the river Nile. I could feel the heat from the sun, the light breeze from the air caressing my skin, causing my goose bumps to rise. I could hear the sound of river birds squawking at one another, and the faint sound of laughter.
Oscar scampered ahead of us, catching up to Godric who was practically a man on a mission. He obviously knew his way around the palace, as he’d clearly spent a lot of time here in his human years, but I got the feeling he was wanting to find Ata, to make sure she was okay after last nights events and the attack today. How on earth I slept through that is beyond me! I do believe the whole ‘sleeping like the dead’ phrase Gran used to use applied to me today. The thought caused me to laugh quietly, though I passed it off as simply amusement at watching Oscar scurry away, because I really did sleep like the dead with Eric around. I usually woke from my sleep numerous times in the night before I met him, and I was technically sleeping with the dead – just not six feet under.
Heading to the far end of the courtyard, I could see another huge archway carved into the limestone, the walls even higher to make a grand statement. There were several more carvings this time. “That’s Hathor and Re in the carvings. Hathor is the one with the head horns in which the sun disk Uraeus is set, and Ra also has the sun disk Uraeus on his head, there are also carvings of previous Pharaoh’s, all wearing the traditional crown of the kingdom they ruled over – upper or lower Egypt.” Ari explained to us, still not having let go of Pam’s hand though we had all parted ways before we even entered the palace. Pam seemed oblivious to the fact she was still holding the Egyptian’s hand, but Eric wasn’t. His quirked eyebrow caused me to give him a shove, giving him a pointed look to not mention it. If Pam was happy then good for her, she should be allowed to enjoy it.
“You use to live here?” Oscar asked Godric as we closed the gap between us all.
“In my human years. I actually lived on the other side of the city in an average sized stone home with my Master, who subsequently became my Maker, but I spent the vast majority of my time here with Ata, or I was working away in the fields out front during Shomu, the harvest season.” He answered, his eyes having taken on a glazed over appearance as he recalled his past.
The sound of laughter was getting louder, and as a group we walked through the archway, suddenly entering a medium sized, shady room. Sunlight was bursting in through the tall, slender window gaps on the left hand side of the room, throwing the light across the whole space, yet the low ceiling and marble flooring kept the room nice and cool. The walls were tiled, painted by hand with beautiful scenes of Ancient Egypt, its Gods and its people. On the right hand side of the room stood three golden statues, two of which were life size while the other was smaller, only reaching about halfway up the wall. They looked to be of the Gods, each holding a protective weapon. What captured my attention the most though was the raised platform on the far wall. Three steps led up onto it and three chairs sat upon it. On either side of the steps were more golden statues, more Gods that had been hand crafted. Three painted pillars sat on either side of the raised platform, supporting the roof.
Godric came to a stop, causing all of us to halt. The scene I was witnessing was a far cry from what I had expected. A woman who looked to be in her thirties, tall and slender, with pale limbs and jet-black hair, coupled with endless hazel eyes framed by black kohl, sat in the middle chair, a crown resting upon her head. To her right sat a man who looked to be in his fifties, his hair practically none existent and his bright blue eyes were the exact same shade as Ata’s, even their noses were the same. I’d seen him before; when Ata had shown me the moment she had chosen Godric for her companion, though her parents must have been younger at the time – Cleopatra and Julius Caesar.
Ata sat to her mothers left, dressed in a strapless white gown with a sweetheart neckline, gold embroidery adding detail to the bust, gathering tightly at her waist to pull her in, showcasing her hourglass figure. It fell to the floor, hiding away her feet. Her hair was in loose curls and her porcelain skin blended in so well with her dress. She looked a far cry from the state I had last seen her in, kneeling on the mat in the penthouse. On her own head sat a crown, a little smaller than her mothers, but a crown nonetheless. It was the person on her lap that was new, a young boy with jet-black hair like Cleopatra’s, he even had the same eye colour. He was without his shirt, wearing a traditional gold collar around his neck, leather cuffs around his wrists and he was wearing what appeared to be a white kilt with a patterned loincloth. He could be no older than 13. There was no symbol of royalty upon his head, but it was obvious this was Caesarion, Ata’s younger brother.
The laughter of the four people sat on the thrones subsided as we entered the room, and I watched as Godric instinctually dipped his head in respect. “Oh dear boy, you do not bow to us anymore.” Cleopatra’s voice was as smooth as silk, and she was conversing in perfect English. She rose from her seat, gliding down the steps and towards us. Julius followed behind her, as did Ata.
“Godric!” Caesarion cried out happily, leaping from his sisters’ lap to run at the ancient vampire. Catapulting himself at the old vampire, he wrapped his arms around his middle, squeezing him as hard as he could. “You were not in Aaru, or the Summerlands, so that means you became a night walker too, just like Ari and Khai and Riei and Oeri. Mut, Itf and I all tried to find you, but that was silly, because you found Amisi first!” The young boy let go of Godric, grinning up at him. I saw the ancient vampires features soften as he ruffled the boys’ bangs playfully.
“Mut? Itf?” I frowned, trying to see if I could understand what the words meant.
“Mother and Father.” I heard Oeri supply helpfully, a little stunned that he could hear my musings. “The blood exchange worked both ways.” He reminded me with a small smile.
“I wanna see!” Caesarion bounced up and down on the spot, looking up at Godric with such adoration that I could only surmise that they had been good friends during Godric’s human days. Carefully, as if he would startle the boy, Godric dropped fang, letting the young Caesar examine them thoroughly. A pained expression crossed Cleopatra’s features as she watched Godric reveal his fangs to her son.
“I’m sorry that happened to you, that the sunshine was taken from you, but it was the way the fates planned it.” She murmured her apology as Godric retracted his fangs, still maintaining his slightly dipped head. “Oh come now, you have taken our daughter as your partner, your bonded, you are family.” She chastised him gently, placing a hand under his chin to tip his head up. “You do not need to show your respect to us any longer, you have already earned it.” She reassured him, grasping one of his hands to place in Ata’s.
Without a second thought Godric was before my cousin, pressing a chaste kiss to the corner of her lips. “Good evening.” He whispered as he pulled back, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.
“Good evening yourself.” Ata teased in response, pulling him in for a proper, though respectful given the company, kiss.
“Are you going to introduce us to your friends, darling?” Julius spoke up for the first time. His voice was strong and unwavering, and it was apparent that it was another reason why he had been such a strong leader. The complete conviction in his tone was enough to make me do just about anything!
“Of course!” Ata turned her attention to us, offering us a smile. “This is my mother, Cleopatra VII Philopator, my father Julius Caesar and my little brother, Caesarion Caesar.” She introduced her biological family first, knowing there were fewer of them.
“Of course you all know Ari, Khai, Riei and Oeri.” She spoke to her family, gesturing to her four eldest boys who each grinned and waved.
“Regretfully so.” Cleopatra teased, poking her tongue out at them in a very childish gesture. I was taken aback, as were Pam and Eric if our newly formed bonds were anything to go by. She was one of the most well known Queen’s of Egypt, the history textbooks pegged her as the last – although I knew that was no longer true – and yet she was completely different to how I expected her to be. She still had an air of authority to her, and I had a feeling she could probably incite a war and win it should she so feel like it, but she was acting just like any other woman on the planet, any other mom.
“Who you don’t know is Oscar Roberts, he was only recently turned and his Maker mistreated him, so he’s living with us now and I hope to make him into my Childe at a later date.” She introduced our little baby vamp, who respectfully dropped his head a little.
“It’s nice to meet you Sir, Ma’am.” He politely greeted Ata’s parents, who instantly cooed over him. Cleopatra was swooping him into a hug, pulling him into her chest. The poor boy looked so startled, so unsure what to do. If he were to turn his head to face forward he would end up with a face of Egyptian cleavage. I had to bite the inside of my lip to stop myself from laughing at the mental picture I was conjuring up.
“Oh he’s so cute! Can we keep him?” Cleopatra asked her daughter, causing Ata to roll her eyes.
“Mut, you can’t keep all of my children, I need them.” Ata shook her head, laughter tumbling from her lips.
“Oh but you always pick such lovely companions, always make the right choices.” Her mother complimented, her gaze shifting to Godric for a moment before returning to Ata. It was clear the Egyptian Pharaoh was a fan of the ancient vampire. Letting go of little Oscar, who looked somewhat terrified – but in a good way of course – she drifted back to Julius, taking his hand in her own.
“This is Bubba.” Ata introduced Elvis with his vampire name, seemingly pleased that her mother had no idea who he was in the human realm and therefore she didn’t have to read the riot act about not calling him by his name, or asking him to sing and dance.
“Well you are most certainly a very handsome man!” Cleopatra was practically swaying. He could pull a 2000-year-old Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, was there anything Bubba couldn’t do?! Julius simply rolled his eyes at her swooning.
“Thank you, thank you very much.” Bubba responded politely, but his words caused me to have a mental fit and it took all of my willpower not to laugh and squeal. Eric obviously felt my fangirling as the corner of his lips quirked upwards, even Ata looked highly amused.
“This is Eric Northman, Godric’s progeny.” Ata gestured to my Viking, who gave a respectful dip of his head too. He’d been a Chieftain’s son in his human years, the prince of his people, so it was no surprise to me that he seemed in instantly know how to act around other royals.
“Ah the Viking, we’ve watched over you from afar.” Julius offered Eric a warm smile, causing my vampire to frown through our bond.
“You have been?” He asked, tipping his head sideways in curiosity as he observed the Roman leader before us.
“Of course! Our daughter was distraught over Godric’s ‘passing’ so we made sure to keep an eye on him in his immortal life, and subsequently we kept an eye on you too.” Cleopatra responded with a shrug of her slender shoulders, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to keep an eye on your daughters ‘deceased’ lover and his Childe.
“Wait, you knew I wasn’t truly dead?” Godric broke through into the conversation, quirking an eyebrow. It was obvious where Eric had inherited the move. Ata’s features darkened as she realized her mother and father had known that Godric was not truly dead all along, and yet had said nothing to her. I even noted how Ata’s boys all tensed.
“Yes,” Cleopatra sighed heavily, looking to her daughter. “Don’t hate me for it my, ya Danaaya. We have much to discuss about the past, but you’re yet to introduce me to the two beautiful blondes stood with your new nest.”
Ata’s features were impassive, and yet I could feel her through the bonds I shared with all of the vampires. Her anger was overwhelming and the hurt seeping through was horrendous. Her mother had lied to her, kept things from her, so I could understand her pain.
“This is Pamela Swynford de Beaufort, Eric’s progeny.” Ata introduced Pam, her voice tight with her displeased emotions. Julius’s eyes drifted to Pam’s hand, which was still locked in Ari’s. Realizing this, Pam went to pull her hand free, but the Egyptian vampire simply tightened his hold on her.
“I see you have settled in well with the nest.” Julius teased her lightly, and if vampires could blush I had a feeling Pam would have been. I could feel Eric’s surprise through the bond, but also his happiness that his usually cold-hearted Childe had potentially found a companion.
“And of course my cousin, Sookie Stackhouse.” Ata introduced me. Remembering the manners Gran had instilled in me, I dipped my head in respect.
“Fintan’s granddaughter yes?” Cleopatra eyed me for a moment before she smiled, obviously finding some resemblance to Fintan in me.
“Yes Ma’am.” I responded with a nod of my head. I wondered if she’d known Fintan at all.
Seemingly pleased, Cleopatra turned on her heels, making her way back to the throne she had recently vacated. Julius followed behind her, as did Caesarion. Ata took the lead, leading our little group over to them. Ata gestured to the seat, offering it to Godric first, as custom had dictated over the years. He took the seat, pulling Ata onto his lap, who in turn pulled her younger brother onto her own lap.
“Miss Ata, don’t ya have any guards here?” Bubba questioned with a light frown, glancing around the palace.
“No Bubba, this is my memory, we’re safe here.” Ata gave him an indulgent smile.
“How does that work, exactly?” Pam’s brow furrowed as she sat upon the steps with Ari. Eric and I did the same, as did Ata’s other boys, Oscar and Bubba.
“This is my meditative state. The room we’re in now, the areas you walked through to get here, they’re all from my memory. You smell and feel things as I did. I called my mother, father and brother here from the Summerlands, Aaru even, to speak with them, it’s the only way. Then I called Ari to bring all of you here. No one can get here unless I ask them in, think of it as an invitation only party, and you all have invitations.” Ata explained with a shrug of her shoulders, holding her brother tightly.
“Now, will you tell me why you kept my bonded’s immortal state from me?” Ata’s eyes rounded on her mother, narrowing in accusation. Cleopatra sighed, offering her hand out to Julius who took it, giving it a gentle squeeze.
“An old woman came to your father and I one night when we started to see one another, she told us we would have a little girl one day, and she would go on to do great things for the world with a young boy. It would come at a cost though. Your father would have to find the young boy first, and he would have to give up the sun for the moon and stars at a young age. We were told he would have to live with another, and that one day he would come here no longer. We were told to tell you of his passing, to discourage you from searching for him. You were supposed to be parted; you both had separate lives to lead. He had to find another, create another, who in turn would find your cousin and bring you all back together. You had to create your children, see the world and master your powers, so you could help your cousin master hers. You had to be parted so you could become the best you could both be when you were without one another, so that together, with his Childe and your cousin, the four of you would be a formidable team, to bring down those who wish to destroy the world in which you live in.” Cleopatra sighed as Julius squeezed her hand reassuringly.
Godric’s hold on Ata tightened as we all pieced together the information we were receiving. “This was supposed to happen all along? Over 2000 years ago this was foreseen?” Eric questioned, a light frown on his features as he rubbed my back gently.
With a small nod, Julius answered. “The old woman saw all of this happening, she saw this as the only way for the chaos to end, and for you all to have any shot at a long life. She did say though that the rewards, should you all succeed, would be great.”
“We were supposed to ensure your turning, Godric, but we did not realize your Maker in the process would hurt you. For that we are deeply sorry.” Cleopatra apologized to the ancient vampire solemnly, obviously referring to the physical, mental and sexual abuse that his Maker had subjected him to.
I could feel a twinge of Godric’s pain through our weak bond, and although she had Caesarion on her lap, Ata turned and pressed a tender kiss to Godric’s lips, slowly stroking the side of his face with her hand as she whispered to him in the same language he had used earlier – the one I couldn’t understand. I felt his pain subside a little as he sought solace from Ata’s words and her touch.
“All four of you strayed from the path a little bit though.” Julius scolded us all lightly, his eyes flickering from Ata to Godric, from Eric to I.
“Ata, you created a blood oath that was not supposed to happen. Godric, you watched Ata from the trees every night, which was not supposed to happen. Eric, you used the bombing of Godric’s nest to get your blood into Sookie early on in your relationship, which was not supposed to happen. And Sookie, you gave yourself to William Compton when it should have been Eric who should have claimed you first.” He explained to each of us in turn. Although he was not my father, and I didn’t really know him at all, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed about the fact he knew I’d given myself intimately to Bill.
I could feel Eric’s sadness that he was not the first to claim my body. Although I had loved Bill at the time, I hadn’t been ready for such a step in our relationship; his blood had been making me feel things that should have taken months to develop. Knowing now that Eric should have been my first made me feel not only sad, but guilty too. I shouldn’t have run into Bill’s arms and so willingly given myself to him, I should have waited longer, then maybe Eric would have been my first. Now I had nothing special to give him, to show him just how special he was to me.
“So they fucked up, but they’re all back together now aren’t they?” Pam spoke her mind, but her choice of words made me cringe. We were in polite company and yet Pam’s filthy mouth had made itself known, not even remembering the fact that Caesarion was just a youngster and shouldn’t have been subjected to such language.
“Yes I suppose so.” Cleopatra gave us an indulgent smile.
“Atzi was always supposed to grow up in the human world, she wasn’t meant to join us in Aaru. She was always meant to stay eternally pretty and marry you.” Caesarion spoke up, looking to Godric with a grin. “You were always meant to be my brother.” He looked so proud, holding Ata’s hand up to look at the promise band around her finger. I wondered if he knew it was a promise ring, not a marriage band.
“Caesarion!” Ata scolded her brother for getting ahead of them, her head turning sharply to look at her younger brother, but he gave a shrug of his shoulders. He reminded me so much of Jason at that moment, opening his mouth before thinking about what he was going to say.
“You were always suppose to find our cousin too, and she was meant to stay eternally pretty and marry you also.” He addressed Eric, grinning happily. Julius raised his free hand to his face, closing his eyes as he groaned at his sons’ lack of tact. I was a little stunned with the young Egyptian’s declaration. I’d only recently admitted that I would think about marrying Eric, not that I definitely would.
“The old woman, who was she?” Oscar asked, leaning forward in curiosity. He was keeping a respectful distance from the Egyptian Monarch and her Roman lover.
“The Ancient One, I believe her name was Pallas.” Cleo responded, giving her daughter a pointed look.
“Ah Pallas, I met her last night.” A pained expression crossed my cousins’ features as she recalled the events of the night before and I offered up my spare hand, placing it against her leg, which I rubbed soothingly. Smiling at my gesture, Ata let go of her brother with one hand, giving my shoulder a light squeeze in thanks. Godric’s grip on her tightened a little.
“Yes, I’m sorry that happened to you sweetie, but it was necessary in order to form the first bonds within your nest.” Cleopatra apologized to her daughter with a sigh. “Now, why don’t you go and show our guests around our home. Your father and I need to have a chat with both Godric and Eric.” She effectively dismissed us, shooing us away with a flick of her hand. Ata was up off of Godric’s lap, placing Caesarion down on the floor. As she went to move away though Godric grabbed her, pulling her back to him to plant a kiss on her lips.
“I’ll join you soon.” He whispered his promise.
“Take your brother with you, my daughter.” Julius ordered lightly as Ata grabbed Caesarion’s hand.
“Come.” Ata smiled, leading the way out of the room. Eric rose from the steps, bringing me with him. Leaning down he planted his own kiss upon my lips before letting me go. I didn’t want to be parted from him and my longing must have been strong in our bond as I was overcome with a wash of love. Returning it happily, I took Ata’s other hand, walking with her out of the room and back into the courtyard.
“I can’t believe you grew up here, faery princess.” Pam stopped in her tracks, drinking in the sight of the limestone monument. She even spared a moment to look at her arms in the sunlight once more. “Does this place still stand in our realm?” She asked, dropping her arm back to her side.
“It’s beneath the waves now, in the modern day port of Alexandria. Maybe one day, when I come back in our world, I’ll go sea diving and enter this courtyard properly for the first time in 2000 years.” Ata gave a small sigh, heading towards the far corner of the courtyard. She led us up a staircase, up onto the top of the wall that surrounded the royal compound.
I gasped at the sight the height gave me, as did Pam. All around us were mud and stone huts, the houses of the ancient people. There were no people, of course, as Ata had pointed out this was a ‘by invitation only’ gathering but it was still beautiful. “Look out to the horizon.” She instructed us in a whisper.
“Pyramids! The Sphinx!” Oscar’s eyes widened as we all took in the sight in the distance. Four huge monuments that were so well known to all of those in the world, they were wonders of the world even.
“The Giza Necropolis. My Priscilla woulda loved to see this!” Bubba exclaimed happily, his vampire vision enabling him to see further than I could. I couldn’t have cared any less though; it was still a beautiful sight.
“Everything in the world is afraid of time, and time is afraid of the pyramids.” Caesarion murmured his own eyes locked onto the empire he should have taken over after his sisters passing. He’d been so young when he’d been murdered; it wasn’t fair on the poor boy.
“Can we come here properly, when we’ve finally killed Russell?” I turned to my cousin, who was looking over Egypt with longing. It was the empire she should have ruled over for many more years, with Godric at her side. It was utterly beautiful, and I realized then just how little of the world I had seen, how little I knew of the world. I had Eric now though, and the family stood around me. There were so many doors opening for me and for the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid to open every damn one and step through them, to take whatever they all had to offer. I’d spent my life bending to the wills of others, keeping myself out of their thoughts, plastering on my ‘Crazy Sookie’ smile in a hope they would all like me. Fuck them. The people locked away in this little world with me, witnessing the blazing sunshine beating down on one of the greatest creations in the world, were all who mattered, of course with the exception of Jason. Ata was able to give all of the vampires in our little family the sunshine, even if it was in a dream. Would I be able to give Eric the sunshine? Pam even?
“This place is underwater in our world, but we can certainly visit the pyramids, even the Valley of the Kings and Queens. Maybe we’ll even go and see my mother.” She mused quietly. “On one condition though.” Curious as to her condition, I motioned for her to go on. “I want to see Bon Temp, your little country house, the bar you use to work in. I want to see this ridiculous club Eric and Pam run and I want to laugh at the patrons. I want to meet your brother and our other cousin, Hadley. I’d like to visit your Gran too, and place flowers down from Fintan.” She stated her stipulations. It took everything in me not to cry at the mention of Gran, of how ordinary her request was too. She could have asked for anything in the world, but she wanted to see my once ordinary life in my podunk little town, she wanted to visit Eric and Pam’s establishment with its interesting clientele, the complete opposite to the luxurious and upper class hotel and casino she owned in Vegas. With a nod I agreed, giving Ata’s hand a gentle squeeze. Although Ari had mentioned that Ata came here to heal, I felt healed myself. Ata had had the world at her feet and fate took it from her, but I wouldn’t let fate take anything from me. She’d already taken my parents, and Gran. No more. I felt stronger, more determined. I would survive whatever was coming, we all would, and then we would take our reward for it.
“Oh Baast, Baast, let down your hair!” The sound of a deep male voice jolted us out of our thoughts and we all turned on the spot to look down over the wall into the courtyard. I caught sight of Godric and Eric emerging from the throne room, their expressions blank and their bonds the same. Either they were both hiding something, or their little chat hadn’t been too informative or earth shattering.
Ata’s melodic laughter returned me to the man stood just in front of the wall. Without a second thought Ata let go of my hand, quickly descending the staircase before she embraced the strange man. It took no time at all for Godric to vamp over, fangs down as he snarled at the man, his arms around Ata’s waist as he pulled them apart, placing himself between them.
“My, my, someone is very protective!” The man laughed, appraising Godric for a moment. Deciding he was missing out, Eric vamped over too, up the stairs to stand beside me, as if this strange man would harm us.
“I thought you said this was an invitation only event?” Pam questioned Ata from her position next to me.
“It is, but Anu always had a way of getting past that. Plus he protects the dead, and, well, you are all technically dead.” Ata pointed out aptly, causing this Anu to laugh.
It clicked all of a sudden. “Anubis!” I declared, remembering the time Bill had informed me we would be flying Anu Air, the nickname the vampires used for Anubis Airlines.
“Yes, howdy Miss Stackhouse!” He grinned up at me, offering me a wave, which I returned with a laugh, feeling rather stupid. I didn’t even pause to consider how he was aware of my surname.
“As in, the Anubis the vampire airline is named after?” Pam started down the steps, letting go of Ari’s hand for a moment as she reached the bottom in order to straighten out her clothes. Eric, Bubba, Oscar and I followed behind her. Ata’s other children had been waiting at the bottom of the staircase for us.
“You named your airline business after me? Wow that’s original.” Anubis turned his attention to Ata, who gave him a cheeky grin. Now I was closer I was able to properly appraise the man before us. He was tall, of slender build and yet his muscles were strongly defined. His hair was jet black and his eyes a deep brown. Wasn’t he supposed to have a jackal head?
“So sue me, do you have any idea how difficult it was to come up with a name?” Ata rolled her eyes, smiling while she did so. Godric’s grip on her was still pretty tight and it didn’t go unnoticed by the Egyptian God.
“I’m not going to take my sister from you, you can relax your hold on her.” He chuckled.
“Sister?” Bubba’s head tipped sideways as he looked to Ata. “Miss Ata, you never mentioned you had more than one brother. I always thought little Caesarion was it.”
“Oh my daughter has many brothers.” Cleopatra and Julius had joined us once more with smiles on their lips.
“I have but one biological brother and that is Caesarion, mother.” Ata’s voice became tight as she spoke.
“But what about Ptolemy Philadelphus and Alexander Helios? They are your brothers too my dear.” Her mother tried to reason with her.
“They are not my brothers. They are Antony’s spawn and I refuse to acknowledge their presence in the world.” Ata responded stubbornly before she turned to respond to Bubba’s earlier question. “My mother had other children with another man, and I refuse to acknowledge their existence.” She gave her father a huge grin, obviously very much a daddy’s girl. “Mother is Isis reincarnated, and for her the sun rises and sets with my father, so he is Ra. I am Baast, as my subconscious is a cat, which is why Anu called me such, and why I seem to attract cats everywhere I go. Caesarion is Horus, for my mother held him on her lap as a child and fed him from her breast. Anubis is the half-brother of Horus, therefore I am his sister, or half-sister is one wants to be pedantic.” Ata explained in simple terms for us all.
“So, technically, all the Gods are in some way related to one another?” Oscar guessed, causing Caesarion to nod in confirmation.
“And here I was thinking that Louisiana was bad for inbreeding.” Pam muttered under her breath, but Ata was quick to fire back her response.
“During my human years it was not frowned upon for the royal family to marry one another. Royal women carried the bloodlines and the crowns so it was advantageous for a Pharaoh to marry his sister or half-sister. Normally the old ruler’s eldest son and daughter, who could be either siblings or half-siblings, became the new rulers. All rulers of the dynasty my family comes from were married to their brothers and sisters, so as to keep the Ptolemaic blood “pure” and to strengthen the line of succession. Unfortunately, as I was the last of our line, I was being forced to marry outside of our family, to a man I didn’t love.” She argued.
“And if it weren’t for your Oeri, you would have ended up joining me in the weighing of the hearts, dear sister.” Anubis pointed out as Oeri primped at the praise. It seemed to be a thing today, for the males of our group to bask in the glory they were receiving.
“Speaking of the weighing of the hearts, Pallas told us last night that ‘In the house of royalty four will fight together, yet only two will leave.’ What on earth does that mean?” Ata begged the God.
In some sense I didn’t wish to know, I wanted to bury my head in the sand and forget about it. The thought of any of us dying caused a lump to form in my throat. I didn’t so much care about myself, but the world needed Ata, Godric and Eric in it. I was a little barmaid from the back of beyond. I was nothing special. Eric was a Viking prince, a vampire Sheriff. Ata was an Egyptian princess, a human/faery Sheriff with several vampire children to take care of. Godric was the oldest vampire in America, after Russell of course.
“Oh dear child, you are just as special as the rest!” Cleopatra broke away from Julius, pulling me into her embrace, as if she had known I’d started my own little pity party. “The fates have such special things in store for you. You’ll have to face many demons from your past over the next few weeks, but you’ll be rewarded for it, I promise you that.” She murmured into my ear, holding me close. It felt strange to be comforted by someone else’s mother, especially when said mother happened to be the last historically recorded Queen of Egypt. My own mother had been frightened of me, worried there was something wrong with me. She had taken me to many therapy sessions, drugged me up on numerous occasions, but none of it had worked. Of course it wouldn’t have worked. I was different whether I wanted to believe it or not. At least now I had Ata to help me with my shields, to help me perfect my new skills.
“I cannot tell you exactly what it means, little sister.” Anubis answered Ata’s question with a sigh as Cleopatra let go of me. “But I can tell you that, maybe, nothing will come of it.”
“The Ancient Pythoness predicted it, she’s never wrong.” Eric pointed out to the ancient God, who simply chuckled.
“She may never be wrong, but she isn’t always completely right either. Let’s face it, she stated the four of you were fated to come together at some point and that certain things would happen to draw you together. She didn’t see your blood oath, your watchful gaze, your trickery or the loss of your innocence to another.” He reeled off the list, looking to Ata, Godric, Eric and I in turn. “The end game was the same, but how you got there was something she didn’t suspect at all.” He summarized.
“That is so not helpful.” Pam stated with her trademark roll of her eyes.
“What brother means is that you’re all clever and creative. The end game might not be exactly what you’re thinking it might be, so you need to think outside of the box. The end game won’t change however, but you might be looking at it the wrong way, and there are things you must and mustn’t do in order to make the end game happen the way the old woman predicted it to.” Caesarion clarified for us.
“I’m not one for games, can’t we just have the answer?” Pam scowled; clearly disgruntled with the lack of information we were receiving if my faint bond with her was anything to go by.
“No, if you know the answers right now, if we were to tell them to you, the path would change and you might not all walk out of it alive. My daughter has already started on the riddles today while you were all sleeping. You should all return and continue working on them. The quicker you solve them, the quicker you can act.” Cleopatra informed us with a forced smile. Obviously being powerless to help her daughter was upsetting her. I had no children of my own, and never would, but I always felt the same whenever Jason got himself into a pickle and I was unable to help him out.
“Anu, if for whatever reason either Godric or I don’t make it,” Ata started, just as Godric’s grip around her tightened.
“Please, don’t.” He mentally begged her, but my cousin was stubborn, and continued with her question anyway.
“Will you let us both into Aaru? I don’t want us to be parted.” My cousin’s eyes were hopeful. I was reminded then that it had been a while since I’d been to church, or prayed to God. I was such a bad Christian. God probably wouldn’t want me if I died. So many people had died because of me – Long Shadow, Gran, Rene, Lorena and Debbie to name a few. Okay half of them deserved it for their crimes, but that still didn’t make it right.
“Sister, I will save you both a place in Aaru, I promise.” Anubis vowed.
“Can you do me one more favor? Can you promise that, should either Eric or Sookie perish, that they would both have places in their own afterlives?” Ata pressed on. I could feel Eric’s surprise, and he could most likely feel mine too.
“I will have words with their Gods, and if their own Gods won’t have them, then they are more than welcome to join us in Aaru.” Anubis offered Eric and I kind smiles.
Julius suddenly turned his head to look through the gates we had initially entered through. “You’re guests are about to enter the lift up to your penthouse, my child, so you all need to go back now.” He turned to Ata with a sad smile, holding his arms out to her.
Breaking away from Godric, she stepped into her fathers embrace, burying her face in his chest as he held her close. Their hug only lasted a moment before Ata embraced her mother. Finally it was her little brothers turn, and she knelt on the ground to be the same height as him. “You be good for Mut and Itf, okay?” She whispered, her voice thick with emotion as she pulled her little brother into a hug. Wrapping his small arms around her, he held her tightly. Even I was getting emotional at the scene. I missed Jason. Although he was a horn dog, and a few crayons short of a coloring set most of the time, he was still my brother and I loved him dearly. We had to stick together these days; we were it for the Stackhouse line.
“I’m always good. Just be safe and come see us again soon, okay?” Caesarion struck a deal with Ata as they separated from their embrace, my cousin nodding her head.
“You take care of my sister okay? Protect her for me in your world.” Caesarion demanded of Godric, who of course nodded in response to the young boy. I couldn’t help but smile; I could see the similarities between himself and his sister. Both were use to getting their way, fiercely protective of their loved ones and both were naturally good hearted.
“And you,” he rounded on Eric, not at all intimidated by my Viking’s 6’4 height or his well formed, adult muscles, “you take care of my cousin or I’ll make your life a nightmare when you do eventually come to Aaru, okay?” He demanded of Eric, making me bite the inside of my lip to stop myself from laughing.
“Oh of course little prince! I wouldn’t dream of letting any harm come to my bonded.” Eric dipped his head as he too agreed with Caesarion’s terms.
“Good.” Caesarion declared with a nod as his mother and father chuckled at their sons’ demanding streak.
“It was indeed wonderful to meet you all.” Cleopatra spoke to Bubba, Oscar, Pam, Eric and I with a smile.
“And you.” I replied with a matching smile, already feeling fond of the Egyptian ruler.
“Keep an eye on my girl will you, you know how much trouble she gets into.” She sighed dramatically as she addressed Ata’s boys, who all laughed and ruffled Ata’s bangs, causing her to pout playfully. Even Pam couldn’t resist ruffling Ata’s hair, and I was pleased to see that Ata didn’t throw her over her shoulder and pin her to the ground for touching her.
“You know we will, we always will.” Khai reassured Cleopatra with a smile. As a group we turned back to the gate, starting our walk over there.
“Oh! Godric, one more thing!” Julius called out, as we were only a few yards away from the point at which we’d started this little meditation trip earlier on. Turning to look over his shoulder at the Roman, Godric’s head fell sideways. “In answer to your earlier question? Yes.” Julius responded vaguely, but it seemed Godric knew exactly what he’d been answering, as his face lit up into a broad grin. Curiosity burnt through all of the bonds I shared with all of the vampires in the group bar Eric and Godric, who shared a look that seemed to convey whatever it was they couldn’t verbally say.
Eric’s hand met my lower back as he guided me through the gate first, everyone else following after. Ata stopped just before she stepped through, looking over her shoulder at her family who were all waving their goodbyes. Raising a hand, Ata said her own goodbye before she followed us.
It was like being sucked through a wormhole. One minute I was lost in the world inside of Ata’s head and the next I was flat on my behind on the wooden flooring of Ata’s training room.
All eyes were on Ata as she slowly lifted her head, a small smile on her pale lips. Her mistreatment last night, and subsequently the cure for it, had done some serious damage to her body. It looked like she’d lost 5lbs overnight, which given her already slender frame couldn’t have done her any good. Her face looked a little gaunt too, her skin so pale it could probably rival that of vampires, but her eyes still held their usual glean, the bright blue colour completely captivating.
“If one tries to navigate unknown waters, one runs the risk of shipwreck.” She quietly quoted one of the riddles her parents had given her a few nights back.
Her eyes drifted along the lines of people either side of her for a moment before she looked out of the window over Vegas. “We need to send someone into Felipe’s mansion, to spy for us. We need to be prepared for the storm.”
Jag älskar dig (Swedish) = I love you
ya Danaaya (Egyptian Arabic) = loosely translates as ‘My dear’