Banner Believe, a Christmas story

Chapter 21

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.

This Story is rated M.

Believe— Chapter 21

Pam was standing in a plantation in Brazil, admiring the mix of coffee plants that she had procured. Her inventory said she had five hundred. She had them at all stages of life, pulled straight from a nursery. They were packaged and ready to go. She also had them staged at their plantations in Brazil, Southeast Asia and Ethiopia. Somewhere in this mix would be a type that would remember its roots and do well in Fae.

“Oh,” she could feel the vibration on the wind and then Ranger appeared. She had met him earlier tonight when Eric had popped into Fangtasiaand picked up the contacts and brought his second-in-command along.

“Mistress Pamela,” he bowed his head to her. “These are going. Now, if you would be so kind, stand next to me and we shall be off to the next sight.”

Sookie was dozing in and out. It was late when Eric came to bed. The moons and the stars had set.  Morning could not be far off.

“How is it going?” Sookie asked, sitting up and holding out her arms for an embrace.

“Dad is being charming,” he replied and sat down next to her and took her in his arms.  “Damn, now I know where I get my charming bullshit from.”

Sookie grinned at him and rained kisses on his nose until he smiled back.

“The coffee plants have arrived. While on Earth, Ranger took a crash course on how to grow coffee beans and also how to roast them and make coffee. Apparently Pamela put him through his paces. He has brought back a stack of books as well which he has passed out to the guards and when morning comes, the books will go to the Moortufels as well.”

“Has anyone reacted to this return of cleansing magic?” she asked.

“No, no one knows, as of yet. Of course, when the sun rises and the landscape has changed around the castle, I imagine it will be commented on,” he chuckled.

“Dad is waiting to see if it has any effect on anyone…” he stressed the word. “Instead of dancing, tonight, he is inviting any and all to partake of his grand and far flung  coffee party. Pam has sent along recipes.”

“I can certainly help with that,” she nodded. “What do you think?”

“I think it is a great idea,” he pulled her up and  kissed her. Releasing her, his hand took hers and pulled it up for a kiss and he nuzzled it back and forth against his nose.

“The guards shall be keeping count of who does and who does not involve themselves. Things are going to get interesting,” he sighed licking her wrist.

“Woof…” Sookie raised an eyebrow, “and woof again.”

“Indeed,” Eric looked grim. “I would really love to take a look at the godmothers’ library.”

“If Fairly really is all that,” Sookie was watching her husband as he nibbled on her.  “She will have a ward in place to let her know if someone comes and goes without an invitation.”

“Breaking and entering?” Eric looked aghast. “Why, I am the Proxy King, I can go where I will. And besides, I will get her to invite me in.”

“Really?” Sookie’s grin was back. “She just does not strike me as the type.”

“Oh yes, I mean why not. She wants me to strut my stuff down there. I think there is no time like the present.”

It became very quiet. Eric had settled into himself and Sookie hugged him tighter. “What is going on? And why the hurry?”

“Sookie, Dad is talking about sending us home with O.I. and S.I. and closing the portals.”

“What?” her voice got loud.

“Forever!” he stressed.

“What?” her voice was low and confused.

“He thinks someone is trying to poison the Blue Lagoon and lock us, his family on this plane so there would be no going back for us. Ever.

He is not pleased. I cannot say that I am either. So I am going over and inviting myself in.”

“May I go with you?” she asked.

“You can sit outside with Ranger and my guards. Lover, you are pregnant. We take no risks.”

“That’s fair,” she nodded. “It is still early. You want to go now?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “I think now would be for the best. If  she is there fine, if not…oh well…” he said shrugging his shoulders.

“I will notify Ranger. We will pass through my father’s area and grab you some breakfast. Then we are going.”

 

The Courting King was sitting on top of a table, having a sandwich made of barely and spelt still chatting with a few librarians when he first heard and then saw Eric and his merry band approaching. Hopping down, he took a better look. Things were not so merry.

“Ladies if you would please excuse me,” he made a grand and sweeping bow. “It appears I have business. Apparently not of the pleasant sort.”

The ladies looked upon the approaching guards and scattered.

“My son,” he called out. “What brings you here with death on your countenance?”

“I am off to visit the library in the godmothers’ abode. Sookie needs breakfast. Have you any news?”

“Fairly left here a few hours, ago. The moons had not yet set.”

“Then she is home?”

“Perhaps. Erikr,” he took him by the shoulders.

“Father, if you are going to send us away, I am not going without stirring the pot, I believe you said. The coffee shrubs have arrived. They are sitting on the castle grounds. I am going to invite myself in and accidently spill the cup of coffee I am carrying. There are also non-glamour contacts in our room. Several pair. All my men are wearing them. Here,” he handed him a sack, “are the ones for you and your trusted souls.

Just read the directions on how to put them in your eyes.”

Er-erikr was not pleased with his son. And yet his pride for him knew no bounds!

“Then leave Sookie here with me. Obviously you are expecting the worst. If you do not return, I am sending her home and closing us off.”

“Good enough,” he nodded. “Sookie shall abide with you and I plan on returning.”

Hugging his dad, he turned to his bride. “Please stay with Dad. Eat. I will return shortly.”

“I am counting on that,” she reached up and pulled him down for a kiss.

With a sigh, she stood back and then kissed him on the nose. “I will be here when you return.”

“Most excellent,” he grinned. “Now eat.

Move out,” he yelled and word was passed down the line.

“Have you the basket of goodies?” Eric said to Ranger as he stepped up beside his Proxy King.

“Yes sire,” he grinned. “We are prepared.”

 

When they arrived at the godmothers’ residence, it was dark. The outside torches had been extinguished and the candles in the windows had burned out as well.

“Looks deserted, does it not,” Ranger said to Eric.

“Indeed,” he replied. “Time to ring the bell and see who is up.”

Ranger pulled the rope and the bells could be heard chiming throughout the building.

“Mistress Crewel,” Ranger said when she opened the door. “The Proxy King is here to have breakfast with the ladies that reside here. Please, rouse them and tell  them they have company.”

There were fifty that sat at the table as the bread and butter was passed around. Eric continued to sip his coffee while his men saw to the catering aspect of this little impromptu get together.

“Where is Fairly?” he asked as he buttered his bread, added jam, and looked around the table.

“Oh,” Worthie looked around, startled. “She is probably still in the library. When she came in tonight, she went straight away there. I will go and fetch her.”

“No problem,” Eric said standing. “I will go. Please continue on. Ranger, with me, please.”

The two went down the steps, Eric carrying his cup and Ranger by his side. “Notice everything,” Eric said as they approached.

“With the doors down, these hallways echo,” Ranger noted.

“Yes, hard to sneak up on anyone down here. Of course, the same thing could be said of those doing the sneaking. If you are stealthy enough, you can hear what anyone else is doing.”

Ranger grinned. Touching his chain mail, it went to silent mode. He did the same thing to his sword.

Eric winked at him as they turned down the passage that would take them to the library door.

“Now that’s odd,” Ranger was looking around. “What happened to the doorway?”

“I smell magic,” Eric commented out loud, “and my second says the door has disappeared. How odd is that.”  Dipping his fingers in the coffee, he splattered some against the wall. The stone dissolved and the  mist it created seeped into the floor.

“Nicely done, my Proxy King,” Ranger said pulling his sword.

Walking into the antechamber, the small droplets of coffee were flicked from Eric’s fingertips. All seemed to be in good order as they passed through the first room. Entering the main chamber, there was the distinct smell of ammonia.

Eric put his hand on Ranger’s arm and shook his had no as Ranger took a step forward.

“Fairly,” Eric called out. “It is Erikr, the Proxy King. Fairly, are you in here?”

“Yes,” they faintly heard her voice from the far right hand corner of the room. “Yes, I am here. One moment please. I am placing the see and say books back onto a shelf. If you will give me a moment, I will be right with you.”

When she appeared, she was riding her broom. Hopping off, she bowed and then smiled at both men. “What a blessing you bring to our library. Is there something I might help you with?”

“We brought breakfast and were missing your company at the table,” Eric smiled charmingly. “After breaking the fast, I was hoping for a tour. Ranger has told me what fine work you have done. After we eat, perhaps you would show us what else needs to be done.”

“My pleasure,” she smiled. “But the shelves have been righted and now there is just the placement of the books. Unless, my Proxy King and his most faithful second, you know my method of shelving, I will just continue on by myself although your thoughtfulness is noted and appreciated.

Oh, most delightful,” she said turning her head, her nose sniffing the air.  “I believe I smell roasted figs! Suddenly I am hungry.”

As they passed through the opening, she stopped. “I thought perhaps you had come in through the Western Entry. I ward the main door because I have had an intruder.”

“Oh,” Eric looked surprised. “We just walked in.”

“Oh…” she looked lost for a moment and then continued on.

“Is there a problem?” Eric asked. “Do you need guards down here with you while you are working?”

“No-o-o-o-o,” she said slowly. “It could be someone in the house came down to get a book. Very well could be they just forgot to reactivate the ward.”

“Excellent, then. I am here on behalf of my father. Since any one of you could be the next queen and my step-mother, I thought perhaps I should get to know you in a kinder and gentler manner.”

 

Eric spent thirty minutes with them over breakfast. There was small talk, all of them pleased about the righting of the library, the stuffed figs, and then it was time to go.

It was quiet as they returned to the Courting King. Ranger’s face was set in a frown. Eric’s eyes held steel.

 

Striding into camp, the guards read what was on their faces and bristled. Er-erikr watched as he son and his second approached.

“Time for the out briefing,” Eric said once he was under the tent.  “Where is my bride?”

“She is sleeping,” his father pointed to a small tent a few feet away.

“Excellent,” Eric nodded. “Let me get Sookie.”

 

Gathering at the table, Eric began. “We did breakfast. We invited ourselves into the library. Which was interesting because there was a stone wall that smelled of magic where once there was a door. I sprinkled it with coffee and the opening appeared. In we went and things were perhaps not as they should be.

Ranger,” Eric directed his attention at him. “What did you notice?”

“The smell of piss when we first entered. I thought that a bit unusual for a library. Second, there was a tingle of energy when you asked Fairly about us helping to shelve books. Like maybe she was trying to glamour us into believing we would be of no service to her. And thirdly, she was lying about one of her fellow godmothers fetching a book and forgetting to reactivate the ward. There was a slight whiff of fear, there. The way her eyes shifted, from me to you, she was wondering if one of us did it.“

“You carried a cup of coffee?” Sookie asked.

“Yes,” Eric nodded. “I am beginning to believe that her ego is such that she would not even consider that coffee would work against her.”

“Oh,” Sookie nodded. “Since she gave  you the information about it, it cannot be more than her.”

“Correct my bride,” he brought her hand to his lips for a kiss.  “And now we need a course of action for the coffee plants.”

Er-erikr was frowning. “We will need to post guards around the coffee shrubs. Some one is going to make a midnight raid.”

“Remember that cloud that Fishlock felt and yet there was no rain?” Eric’s face was grim.

“Yes,” his father nodded.

“Count on the rain. Could be in broad daylight. Cover the plants. All bets are good it will be raining poison.”

“What?” came comments from around the table.

“As we opened the wall to let us into the library, there was the smell of ammonia.”

“Ammonia?” Er-erikr looked puzzled.

“Piss,” Eric’s eyes were blazing.

Ranger nodded. “Not fresh.”

“Yes, it was not fresh,” Eric was tapping his fingers, together. “If you could fly, you could seed the cloud with piss, make it rain ammonia. You could even make it rain ammonia above the Blue Lagoon.”

“Acid rain,” Sookie was shaking her head. “That is a real problem on earth.”

“Good to know,” the Courting King flexed his fingers and blue lightning sizzled around his hands. “Let’s get started on this. The plants are going to need coverings.

I think, perhaps, we shall foster them out. One shrub per household for those that are interested.”

“This will be our plan,” Eric nodded. “Ranger, if you would please, spread the word. Just like at the library, we shall be checking out coffee plants. Prepare a roster so we know who gets what.”

There was a hustle of activity and Eric, Sookie and Er-erikr were the only ones left sitting at the table.

“I hope I did not force your hand,” Eric looked sadly at his dad. “But someone is trying to force us into staying. Or perhaps force us into going. Either way, this has gotten very old. If this bitch is responsible for my mother’s death and my misery as vampire, I am way past done. So Dad, I need you to step up and work your plan.”

“Will do,” the older man smiled. “Let us just put it in motion. I am going to see Fairly. Tell her I have decided that in her I can find no fault and I believe we shall do very well together if she will consent to be my wife.”

“You sure?” Eric eyed him. “I did not mean right this minute.”

“No time like the present, your mother always used to say,” the man smiled at his son. “And so I am off. And either I will return with my heart full,” he batted his eyelashes, “or broken,” he batted them, again. “I could go either way.”

“Well just damn,” Sookie watched her father-in-law walk away and his guards fall in. “Just damn!”

 

Er-erikr was greeted at the godmothers’ door. When he announce his desire to see Fairly, with a bouquet of flowers in his hand, there was much smiling among the women and he was escorted downstairs!

“We will leave you two to be alone,” Glasser smiled and nodded at him as they began to withdraw and he was left standing in the anti-chamber.

Settling within himself, he closed his senses off except for his magic. It was a handy trick and one he did not talk about and began his search.

He could sense no one, which was interesting.

Focusing his energy  he was able feel the magic that filled this place. It ran like rivers and streams. Some a raging torrent, others a small quiet stillness that spoke of dangerous deep currents!

He needed to pick one. One something to focus on and block the other power spikes that would swirl around him and finding him of no interest, moved on.

“What the fuck, I believe my son would say,” as he watched the activity around him. For a library, which  was considered neutral territory, because they all carried each other’s books, this was a hot spot! All the magic in all the books had been activated, not just the ones of the house. That was the rule. Dragon books did not work their magic outside of a dragon’s house. There was no infringing upon the home of another.

Catching a whiff of something, he stepped into that magic and following its pull, he walked between the stacks, turning left, then right, then left, then right, stopping to pull out a book, turn to a page and read to himself the only verse written there. Shelving the book, he continued on in the steam of enchantment.

It became apparent to him that he was always making a right hand turn and the entire feeling was one of downward motion. Yes, he was walking a spiral staircase downward. This reality began to fade out and he could see through the books in places into other planes of existence. All of them horrible, with shadows and screaming creatures clawing at the invisible wall that kept them in place.

So they could see him as well. That was interesting.

There was a horribleness beginning to push up from below.  “Not prepared for this, not today old man,” he  cautioned himself. Slowing down his pace, he took a step backwards and then did an about face and could feel the energy stream pushing him along until he was back at the anti-chamber.

Looking down at his hand, the flowers were dead. With a gentle breath, he blew on what remained and they fell away to nothingness.

Stepping back out into the hall, “O.I.,” he said, “I need a new bouquet of flowers, please.”

“Mo fo’n my king,” the dragon whispered when he popped in and handed him the purple lilies.

“Exactly,” Er-erikr replied.

With a concerned nod, O.I. popped out.

“Fairly,” he entered the chamber again, “Fairly, are you down here?” he called out.

Walking into the stacks, he called out again. “Fairly. It is I, Er-erikr. Are you here?”

There was silence and then faintly he heard her.

“I am over here,” her voice was louder as she was   levitating on her broom.

“You look most charming sitting there in the air,” he laughed. “I will come to you. You just sit there prettily on your besom and I will find my way over.”

Passing through the stacks, they chatted about the fine work she had done. When he arrived where she was,  she was still floating and was beginning her downward descent.

“These lilies are for you,” he said handing them up to her. Then taking her by the waist, he lifted her down to the floor.

“They are lovely,” she inhaled deeply. “I love the purple lilies.”

“My self as well,” he nodded and looked around. “What a quaint working space you have for yourself. Lovely fire, a resplendent couch for napping and a comfortable chair for reading and a lovely kettle for making tea.”

“Yes,” she smiled. “I was just heating water for a cup of tea. Could I interest you in one?”

“Yes, please,” he smiled at her. “Or rather, my lady, may I do the honors?” he gave her a grand sweeping bow.

“I am the hostess, here,” she bowed in return. “You sit and I shall pour.”

“Then allow me to put the flowers in water and they shall keep us company while we chat.”

“There is a pitcher, there,” she pointed to the shelf. “And there is water in this bucket. See to the flowers and I shall see to the tea and we can discuss what brings you   to see me.”

When they had both settled on the couch Er-erikr pulled one flower from the bouquet and handed it to her. “I wish I had grand words and even grander dreams, but Fairly, all I have is myself. And to you, I offer myself. If you would do me the honor of being my wife, I am willing to walk with you for the rest of our days.”

“What?” she drew back a bit. “But…but…you just started courting.”

“Yes, and I am weary of it. I like order and a schedule and knowing my place in the universe. And being a Courting King, this is not my place in the universe,” he said with a heavy sigh and a shake of his head.

“I have found you to be kind and true and helpful. You put your life at risk to warn me and my family. If you would be my wife and queen, I could ask for nothing more.  It could be a marriage of convenience or it could be one of friendship that I would hope would grow to love and the giving of comfort to one another.

Whatever you desire, your time would be your own. Spend it at the castle with me or spend it here in your library or both,” he added raising her hand to his lips and kissing it.

“The caveat being I cannot give you children. I am sure I would grow to love you, but I do not know if I still have that depth of love to give.”

“I understand that,” she nodded. “And I do not think it matters. I…I…I am not one that nurtures. I know that about myself and am not ashamed to say it.  Nor am I confortable in crowds of people. I prefer the quiet of the books to that of the mindless chattering that wishes to absorb you and keep your mind in a narrow trough.”

“Myself as well.  Court can be wearisome. Or perhaps it is wearisome because I am lonely.”

“Or perhaps because,” she smiled at him, “idiots abound.”

“Well,” he sighed. “There is that,” he added with a grin.

“But I am not here to discuss my subjects. I am here to call upon you. And I am honored, fair lady, that you have sat so kindly and graciously and listened to my proposal. I do not expect an answer right away.”

“You know, your son does not like me,” she said as he stood.

Laughing, he smiled at her. “My son does not like anyone. Fortunately, he loves his wife.”

“Truly?” her face showed concern.

“Yes and yes. Erikr does not like anyone and he loves his wife.”

“Will he approve of me?”

“Fairly,” he sighed. “He dislikes all fae equally. His desire is to return to his home on earth. As far as he is concerned, ‘Pick one,’ he says, ‘anyone that you do not find annoying and someone you can trust. My life is not here.’”

“Oh,” she nodded. “I thought maybe he…he…wanted…

He really wants to leave?” and you could hear the doubt in her voice.

“You thought what? He wants to be king?” He laughed even louder. “Erikr is a warrior and does not abide fools or laziness. Do not waste his time, do not tell him lies or think to dazzle him with your half baked plans. Don’t whine about your life around him and do not get in his way.”

“His bride must be exceptional,” her voice was soft.

“Yes, she is,” he answered.

“I, I think I would consent to be your bride,” she said with a shy smile.

Raising both of her hands to his lips, he placed passionate kisses, there. “Thank you, my very honored and humbled heart thanks you.

I know the hours have moved on. You need to think on this. Once you have found peace about this within yourself, announce it to your house. After their council and if I were you, I would listen to those wise women, send me word and if you are still in agreement I shall announce it to the realm.”

Draining his cup, he set it on the table. “You make a wonderful cup of tea. I hope that we have every afternoon to share with each other in such a way.”

“Thank you, you are very kind. I do so love tea in the afternoons. I think I would enjoy that,” she added blushing.

“Myself as well,” he raised her hand for another kiss.  “Do you wish for me to escort you upstairs?” he asked gently.

“No, I am going to take your advice. I am going to fix myself another cup and think on things. Then I shall make my address to the godmothers.”

“Until later, fair lady,” he kissed her hands again. “I await your final decision.”

Standing, she walked with him to the hallway, her hand tucked into the crook of his arm. Placing one more kiss on her hand,  he walked away and then  turned and looked at her before he began the stairs.

Walking back to her work area, she was lost in thought, as her steps tread steady and true. When she could feel the flames from her fire, she noted that she had returned…and a bit surprised that she had been so unaware of her surroundings.

“Interesting turn of events,” she said as she added more leaves to her cup and poured in the water.

His cup still sat on the table. She was very sure that Erikr did not trust her.

But looking into Er-erikr’s tea cup, apparently he did, for there sat the tea leaves in the bottom. Her hands reached automatically for the china and flipped it over onto the saucer. When she lifted the lid, there was the shape of a swan with three small goslings sitting on her back.

“What?” she peered closely at the mounded leaves before her.  “This makes no sense!”  Shaking the saucer, the bit of liquid that remained could not dislodge the figure. There was no mistaking the oddity that was displayed there.

And then the neck of the goose turned out and the head stared into her eyes and said, “I am coming for you.”

The saucer clattered to the floor as she drew back in horror!

“Besom,” she called her trusted companion to her side, “sweep all of this into the fire! Hurry, please hurry!”

 

 

 

Dear Readers,

Still giving the tours in Crazy!

Thanks for shouting Ole! to me as you drive by!

I am hoping to return to Normal, whatever that is by August….(I am laughing hysterically, here…would I even recognize Normal if it bit me on the ass?)

Thanks for hanging with me! I am getting to the end of this story, slowly but surely!

As always, thanks for reading!

Be blessed and be the blessing,

CES