Chapter 4 The Walk Home
The characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries belong to Miss Charlaine Harris. No infringement on my part is intended. The characters on True Blood belong to Mr. Alan Ball. No infringement on my part is intended.
I have no BETA, editor, or other such charming person. All mistakes are my own.
“I like the night sounds,” Red said as they walked on through the woods. “The brook sounds quieter in the darkness and carries a melody line. Like a mother singing a lullaby to her child who is asleep but the she wants the moment to last for she knows there will not ever again be another like it. In the deep velvet blackness the nature that stirs during the day has gone to its restful slumber, as well.
In the night, you can hear the leaves talking to each other. Whispering enticements and promising that the magnificent, glorious sun shall rise and welcome the morning with its crystal rays. That is a nice sound,” she sighed wistfully. “Morning.”
Something large fluttered overhead, blocking the moonbeams ad causing the air currents to stir upon her flushed, warmed cheeks. “Night is just as lovely. There can be an occasional owl hooting and even the cry of the fox, as eerie as it is, well, it just tells me that he is looking for his mate.”
His body was warm against hers and he was sure of foot, helping her over roots and stepping over ruts that blended into the floor of the forest. When only their breathing could be heard, the quiet did over take them. Their footfalls were muffled by the thick carpet of moss and the moon smoothed their simpatico shadows and kept their silhouettes from embracing each other.
“Huntsman, if we are to be married, do you have a name?” she asked him, her voice like a moth’s soft flutter of wings on the golden beams of moonlit that danced along on the breeze.
“Eric,” he responded, bringing her hand up to his lips for a kiss. His women maker was throbbing. Soon, he would know what his name would sound like screamed in passion from her lips.
“And yours?” he asked, his hand sliding under his cloak and adjusting King Eric, thumping him on the head and telling him the woods was no place to take his wife for the first time. A clean bed and body was what she deserved.
“Reddiford Redding Reddom,” she replied. “Folks just call me Red,” she said with a small laugh that tinkled like a thousand small silver bells that danced on the harness of reindeer.
“That is a lot of name for one so very fine and small,” he answered, his smile covering his face, his teeth gleaming white in the light of the night as he thought about all the ways he could pleasure her against that tree that was in front of them. His mouth on hers, his hands, everywhere! King Eric cheering him on! Once more his hand slipped beneath his cloak and a solid whack keep King Eric from pushing his ideas at him.
“Well, it is what I was given when I was born. My mother’s mother came from the lines of Reddiford and Redding. Reddom,” she shrugged, such an ignoble gesture for one so dainty. “I guess it belongs to my father. My Granny Woman said it was what my mother said to name me. And so she did. I am not known by it in the village. They only call my Reddiford, or Red.”
“Reddom is an old and service worthy name,” his voice was most sincere and thoughtful. “They have stood guard to kings and queens throughout the ages and have been trusted with the very lives of their royals. If this man was your sire, you are indeed blessed with blood that is courageous and trustworthy.”
“Well,” he could hear the desire in her voice, “I can only hope that one so good gave me life.
Most excellent,” he could hear the smile in her voice as they stepped out into a clearing, leaving the leaves peppered with moonlight behind them. “Granny Woman left candles in the windows.”
Eric stopped and drew her back into the safety of the shadows. “You live there?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “My entire life.”
“I know this place. My honored grandfather told me about it when I was just small, wee lad. That is the Reddom hunting lodge. Built well over two hundred years ago, high in the mountains, with chimneys three and two brick mountain peaks that push out from the top windows. There is a painting of my grandfather as a young man standing in front of it. King Stephen the Lame named it for his Reddom that saved his life on numerous occasions.”
“But, this house has no name,” she smiled at him and placed her hand on his cheek and shook her head. “This is my home. I would think I would know if my house had a name. My Granny Woman brought me here. Surely she would have told me if it had such a glorious past.”
“Your Granny?” he was thoughtful, his voice hesitant, tasting each word as he said it. “You are how old?”
“So, if your mother was fifteen when you were born and if your Granny was fifteen when your mother was born that would be thirty plus eighteen which equals forty-eight. Does your granny look fifty?”
“What?” she hesitated, her body caught in the act of trying to move forward but could not because it was frozen by such an idea. Clearly, all these years, she had missed the obvious.
“Does she have white in her hair? Wrinkles around her eyes and neck? Creases on her forehead? Crows feet around her eyes? Sagging breasts?”
“Well no,” Red shook her head, the blonde radiating out and grasping the moon beams. “She is lovely. Beautiful, even. Long blonde hair, blue eyes, her body is dainty and petite.”
“So that’s where she went,” his voice, sounded distant, soft and hard; so far away she wondered if he was coming back to her.
“Who went where?” she asked her hand upon his arm.
“Princess Pamela,” he snickered out the name casting the woman who wore it into the role of a harlot. “Or so she was referenced behind her back. She was lover to the youngest son of the king, Prince Charles. All sorts of wrong doings and ill will were attached to her name. Not that Charles was or is any better. At one time it was believed that they were plotting to kill the king and take the crown. All manner of ill pushed out from their wake. Which brings me to you,” he paused in his telling and kissed her lightly on the forehead.
“Pamela had a female relative, Fergie by name, that claimed she was carrying Charles’ baby. When the child was born, Pamela and the babe disappeared. No one knew if it was male or female. I am guessing,” his eyes held hers, “that the baby was female.”
“You mean me?” her voice came out in a strangled cry. “Fergie, my mother’s name was Fergie?”
“Yes,” he held her next to him, inhaling the scent of her hair, feeling the trembling of her body. “The timing is right,” he raised her face to his. “You live in a royal hunting lodge. There was a Robert Reddom at court at the time, accompanied by his younger brother, Michael. They were perilous times and when the witch hunting started, Michael was sent away.”
“How do you know all this?” she asked, her voice filled with questions.
“Before I was The Huntsman, I was the youngest son of a very insignificant noble house and part of my many duties, when called upon, was to stand guard at court. Princess Pamela would be a bit older than me. I seriously doubt she would remember me, but from your description, I know it is her.”
“So, what do we do? I still wish to be your wife.”
“Continue on,” he brought her hand up for another kiss. “I shall inform her that I intend to marry you. That we shall be man and wife before we leave the village and that I shall provide for you for the rest of your days.”
“What if she says no,” her hand squeezed his.
“She won’t,” he smiled.
Opening the heavy, red door, they both entered and hung up their cloaks. Red put her stick beside the door and closed it and drew the bolt.
“Granny Woman,” she called out, “I am home and I have brought my future husband.”
“What?” a sleepy filled raspy voice called out as there were footsteps and a head leaned down from the top of the stairs. “Husband?”
“Yes, please, he is here to ask you for my hand in marriage. I am willing to be his wife. But I would ask your blessing.”
“What?” was yelled louder. “You want to do what?” As she drew up her robe and started down the stairs her eyes blazing and her words terrible upon the air. “Have you let him touch you and fill you? I warned you about the desires of the flesh and how men only want one thing. Are you with child? What great lout has done this to you and I shall castrate him? Let me get my sword!” she yelled in fury as she approached them, throwing whatever came within her grasp.
Eric stoically stood his ground as all manner of objects de art crashed around him and into him. At last they were toe to toe and eye to eye.
“Huntsman,” she said with just a modicum of respect. “What have you to do with this child?”
“This child is a woman and I seek a wife and she seeks a husband. A good match, I believe could be said. So here I am asking for your blessing. And if not that, at least your approval. And if not that, then a fuck you and be gone, the both of you. For I mean to leave here with her. So name your bride price and if it is not unreasonable, I will pay it. But have her I will so do not be greedy and do not covet these tools in my position. For this is how I earn my living…how I shall from this day forward provide for my family.”
“I have no need for knives and all though I have no place to spend the coin of the realm, I do find it useful from time to time. Place what you have on the table.”
Drawing out his pouch, Eric emptied the contents onto the elegant inlaid surface where it made a ringing sound as the coins sorted themselves out.
“You are a wealthy man,” Pamela said as she sorted through the gold and silver. “This alone would feed us for a year.”
“Would feed you,” he stressed, “for two years,” he replied.
“Well yes, of course,” she smiled at him, as her hands itched to pull a blade from his person and gut him.
“Red has been apprenticed to the kitchen of The Wide Gate. She does exceptionally well there. Some day she could own her own bakery where I could have fresh loaves daily.”
“Her hands will be busy cooking for her family. She will be paid with a snug house, children who will love her and a husband that will warm her bed and her body. If you desire a fresh loaf daily, money shall be provided for you to purchase this.”
Eric admired her craftiness. Those really were not such unreasonable terms. Money could certainly be left to see to this need. He liked fresh bread as well.
His darling Red had taken a seat at the table and was sitting quietly during this discussion. Her eyes are on him said that no matter what, she was leaving and would be his wife.
Wait one! What is this? There is a small wisp of smell that drifts along and causes his nose an internal twitch. The angrier Princess Pamela gets there is something so very, very, wrong. “I do a very good job of masking my scent of Were,” Eric thought with pride, “ I am beginning to believe that Pamela does as well,” as his hand itched to draw his sword.
“Red is a very good girl,” Granny Woman said with pride. “Her maidenhead is still intact. This is thanks to me as well and her beat stick. She has no experience with men. I want to know that you do right by her. I wish to be present when you take her for the first time.”
“No,” came his firm reply. “As her husband it is my job to give her pleasure. I do not need you present, getting off, while I tend to my husbandly duties.”
Eric watched her lick her lips. Yes…Pamela. Things had not changed so very much for her after all. The perversions were still there.
“Well, then you bed me and if you pass, gladly will I give my…”
“Beat stick,” was all he said as he sat back and watched Stick the Smaller whack about on the body and person of Pamela.
The screams and running and mad dashing about did little to slow Stick down. He continued to whack no matter what part of her boy was presented to him.
“Stop, please stop,” Pamela was huddled in a corner with her hands covering her head, blood running down her face and bruises appearing.
“Stop Stick,” he said with authority and it returned willingly to the large, capable hand that Stick now served. “I believe we are in agreement. Retire to your bedchamber and I will have Red bring you up some tea, unless you prefer something stronger?”
“Behind the meal in the left cupboard,” she sobbed as she stood and hobbled off to bed.
Eric watched her crip her way slowly up the stairs, crying softly.
“Pour it up and I will go with you,” was all he said when he pulled his sword. “Be prepared. I think your Granny Woman is the Were that has been eating the locals. We are getting ready to find out for sure. Do not fear, I am right here with you.”
Blinking back her tears, all he could do was cup her cheek. “I know you love her. But she will not give you up. Ever. She lives here and has this fine life because of you. She would rather kill you then give you to me. The wolf will be in the bed. Put down the drink and stand clear so that I can deliver the killing blow.”
When Red knocked lightly upon the door, warned that the wolf was within, but loving her Granny Woman all the same, she heard what she thought was a low growl, followed by a cough and a sobbing, “Come in.”
“It is the wolf,” was mouthed in her ear and she nodded and set her shoulders.
This was her Granny Woman’s room, who was in reality a very bad wolf. Entering, the familiar was still there. The chair where they would sit when she was little and read stories. The lamps on the green marble carved mantel. The fire crackled cheerily in the hearth. That was the only light in the room and as Red approached the bed, the carpet with vines and brightly colored trees smothered the sounds of her feet. There is the ornate four-poster bed and all she could see was a cap and the covers pulled up to Granny Woman’s chin.
Setting the pungent, spirited drink down on the small rosewood table by the bed, Red leaned in. “I am so sorry for what happened to you. But I do still wish to marry him and I do so wish you would give at least me your blessing.”
“Lean in closer child, so that I might whisper it to you.”
Sitting down on the bed the firelight now reflected back red flames in the eyes that stared back at her.
“Why Granny Woman,” Red said in wonder, “what big eyes you have!”
“All the better to see you with my dear,” was whispered.
“Why Granny Woman,” Red leaned in closer, “what a big nose you have!”
“All the better to smell the delicious aroma that lingers about your body, my dear,” was said with the licking of her lips.
“Why Granny Woman,” and Red drew back and off the bed, “what big teeth you have!”
“It has been an age in coming,” Pamela laughed in glee, “but they are so long and pointed so that I my eat you down, my dear!” she roared.
And then Granny Woman never roared again. Eric cut off her head.
“Now what?” Red’s voice rushed out as she took another step back as the head fell onto the bed and the blood was sopped up by the many old but finely embroidered coverings.
“You have nothing to fear, my wife,” he said leaning into her and rubbing her nose with his. “I am going to wrap her body in these blankets and take her outside and put her in the cold room. In the morning we shall take her body into town and claim the bounty. I will sell the pelt, unless you desire to keep it.”
“No,” she took his face in both of her hands and shook her head. Her eyes were mirrored with his. “I think coin would be for the best.”
“Excellent,” he nodded in agreement. Kissing the palms of both of her hands, he smiled at her and then went about his task. “While in town we shall be married, sell the live stock and then I shall take you home.”
“Then what?” she asked.
“I shall contact Michael Reddom and tell him I have married his daughter. Then, we shall live happily ever after.”
Smiling, Samuel looked up from his notes. “A good and decent ending. I have held true to the story line, given the dynamics of our group,” he rolled his eyes, “and even used some of the quotes from the story itself..i.e…Why grandma, what big eyes you have. I did, however, ad lib and include the nose. That was all on me. After all, she was a Were. Good, don’t you think? Appropriate? The nose?”
“What the fuck, Samuel?” Pam glared at him. “Beat stick? Where did that come from? And a Were? You made me a Were!”
“That was Red’s magical stick. Eric traded her marriage for a piece of it. See what you miss when you come back with a bagged blood when we all know you were vamp speed and hooked up with a willing donor in Bon Temps.
And it was obvious that you were the Were. You said so yourself. You loved Charley. There was a Were that killed his two brothers. You were plotting to kill two more. Poison the king. Who else stood to gain?”
Pam shrugged. “I can see your point. Good one,” she nodded in agreement as she started looking through another fairy tale book.
“So,” Sookie looked perplexed. “So, who sent Red and Pamela to the hunting lodge? Who paid the monthly allowance?”
Samuel grinned. “Who would have the power to set you up in the King’s hunting lodge?”
“Well,” Sookie hesitated. “The king…” her voice trailed off.
“Yes,” he nodded, “but he would not see to that. But who could do so in his stead?”
“Oh,” Sookie sat up straighter. “His personal body-guard. The older Reddom brother. Not only his body-guard but his personal trusted advisor, as well. He would have the king’s ear. So, Red’s uncle was the one seeing to her needs. He was also the one that got the baby-daddy out-of-town when the witch hunt started.”
“You sure, Samuel?” Pamela asked. “I was thinking maybe Charley. That he was going to use her for some nefarious purpose. You know, bring a dragon into town, you needed a royal virgin to give to the dragon, he would sacrifice his own daughter and be crowned king by the people. What have you got to back up Robert?”
“Oh yes, Robert,” Samuel nodded opening his notebook. “I have calculated here, how much Reddom would have made annually. His needs would have been seen to at court so he would only receive a small enough stipend to send home to his family, if he had one. Which he did not since he was always in the presence of the king. You see, minus what he would need for small things, the amount used to pay the going rate of a woodman and for a new apron for both women every year, and for milled flour and other dry goods they could not produce, calculated on the numbers used during the 11th century, comes to this exact amount,” he pointed back to Reddom’s pay.
“And since his younger brother was there under his sponsorship, he must have been shocked and horrified when I am sure the younger confided to his older brother that he was no longer a virgin and it was very good stuff being a man. And Reddom was no fool. Being older and wiser and familiar with the ways of the court, he knew his baby brother had been used for his baby making abilities. And since Charley never said the baby was not his, the prince must have dipped his wick into Fergie as well. But the prince also knew she was not virgin, so he had a fifty-fifty chance of not being the father. It would not have been wise for Michael to stay. Intrigue of this sort never ends well for the innocent and the used. Robert had his brother out of there on the first pack mule train that would get him within a three days walk of home.
You know,” Samuel was thoughtful, “I considered Charley. However, if you need a royal virgin sacrifice for an offering of any type, you are going to be 100 percent certain. He was not. Besides,” he tapped the page where he had written his formula. “Numbers do not lie. Robert Reddom.”
“Ick,” Sookie shook all over.
“Well,” Pamela sighed, “at least we learned the moral of the story is to not fuck someone unless they are the monarch. Fucking someone who is hoping to be the monarch is just not the same thing.”
“Beat Stick,” Eric’s voice said softly out into the night as he rubbed his hands against his temples. “I want one of those. My dearest older brother,” his eyes looked pleadingly at Samuel, “please find and buy for the father of your bride one of those magical sticks. I am begging you…” Eric sobbed.
“What…brother…” Samuel arched an eyebrow at his brother, while his hand cupped Eric’s cheek. Shaking his head and sighing continued on, “What possessed you to turn her? I even warned you. You had to know how this was going to end,” he said with sympathy as he kissed Eric on the top of the head and then sat beside him and gave him a hug.
“Beat stick,” Eric sighed and then glared at Pam.
Pam sat up straighter and adjusting her lipstick with her little finger, began.
“And Eric the Huntsman and his Miss Red, that night, before the pelt of the Were had even cooled off, in front of the fire upon the bearskin rug in the living room, all modesty and decorum were tossed aside, along with the virginity of Red where she howled and panted and screamed for more but never begged for mercy. They were indeed married the next morning and when the full moon rose that night, upon his back she rode the wolf to her new home.
Standing at their very fine front door, because although from the house of a lesser noble and the youngest son, Eric had a money tree that grew in the back yard; Red, taking her stick she tossed it out into the night.
‘Fetch,’ she laughed, and so he did. And they lived happily ever after. Because penis really does come in that size.”