“No,” Eric whispered, indescribable pain filled his eyes. He felt his heart shatter at the news and stumbled backwards. “How?”
“They don’t know. Alcide and Maria-Star were captive in the cells the entire time. It wasn’t them, though no one’s been able to determine how it all happened or where she is.”
Flicking his eyes over Nora, Eric frowned. “Why do I get the feeling we were set up?”
“Because you were,” Russell said, stepping into the room. “Let’s speak elsewhere,” he said to the Viking, nodding toward Ludwig, who had finished setting up for the magical dialysis and was looking at them pointedly.
“Fine,” Eric nodded. “Call us when you need our blood,” he added, directing the words to the small doctor.
Fintan was also waiting by the door for Russell to get Eric, and the three men walked to the courtyard.
“Explain!” Eric demanded in no mood to beat around the bush. “What happened to Sookie?”
“I wasn’t resting here. I went to Mississippi, trying to see if there was anyone there who could help and grabbed some vampires who had arrived from other states and countries. Roman was here, but when he woke, there was a crisis; the vampires in New England were backing out. They declared that night they would support Warlow. No one realized it for a few days until I returned and she wasn’t here,” Russell told them.
“How the fuck didn’t anyone realize she was gone?!” Eric growled. “Jason or Susie didn’t think it was strange that they didn’t see her?”
“Sookie had told Thalia to take them to a safe house. She said she would call them in a few days. When they didn’t get a call, they called my private line,” Russell explained.
“Did she fear an attack?” Fintan asked, wondering if his granddaughter feared New England would attack in a show of support for Warlow.
“Perhaps,” Russell told them, “she had me give her blood before I left.”
“This doesn’t make sense,” Eric huffed, going over everything in his mind.
“She’s not on this plane anymore,” Russell said solemnly. “She’s not dead, but no longer in the human realm. I was hoping you had felt her in Fairy.”
“No,” Eric replied dejectedly. “She wasn’t there.”
“Then she must be with the Danann,” Russell declared before realizing what he said. She’s not dead, he repeated to himself, knowing that was all that would sustain him. He could not imagine what was happening to her.
“Not again,” Eric mumbled. “I can’t lose her again.”
“She chose this,” Jesus said as he approached them. “I was bound, magically, not to say anything until you were back, Eric.”
“She what?!” Eric raged, not believing his ears. She couldn’t have chosen to go to Danann. She wouldn’t leave him.
“Nora was a set up. Sookie didn’t realize it until after she was taken. If she would’ve known before she would’ve stopped it. It was all to get you away as was the trip to Mississippi. She knew the plan was to take her. She said she figured out how to end it, end the war and this was the only way to do it.” Jesus looked at them all, a mixture of relief and devastation now that he could reveal the information.
“That sounds just like her,” Eric growled, pissed off at his lover. “How the fuck does she plan to end it?”
“She intends to take down Warlow and all his people on her own with magic?” Eric scoffed. Turning to Fintan, he added, “Can you get us into their realm?”
“No. I can try to get to Fairy and obtain the necessary tools to create a portal there,” he told Eric. “However, I am sure they are being carefully guarded.”
“I don’t care how well it’s guarded,” Eric growled. “I won’t leave her there to fight alone.”
Fintan looked to Russell and took a breath. He knew he would probably be facing his father and the elite guard. Nevertheless, to get his granddaughter he would do all he could, suicide mission, or no.
“We can send vampires with you if you want,” Eric said, making plans in his head. “Do it quickly. I don’t want her there a minute longer than she has to be. I will not lose her again. I will tear apart every fucking realm if I have to. I will get her back.”
“Every vampire you can spare,” Fintan told him. “You know how our time works,” he warned.
“I do,” Eric replied vexed. He fucking hated it. “Are you staying here or going with Fintan?” he asked, directing the question to Russell.
“I’ll go,” Russell said, needing to actively work to save his child.
“I will arrange everything here,” Eric replied, taking charge. “I need to help heal Nora as well as do Ailis and Nathaniel. Take as many as you want.”
Russell and Fintan stepped away from Eric, taking Jesus with them. “What magic can you offer to help?” Russell asked Jesus. “Anything for protection, strength, swiftness?”
“I can enhance your strength,” Jesus replied. “It will only be temporary, but it should help.”
“That’s fine,” Russell said. “Do we need more vampires? If it’s just you and me, we can pop in and out,” Russell told him.
“By now Niall will have realized Neave and Lochlan have been killed, so he will no doubt have extra guards around,” Fintan replied thoughtfully. “A small band of vampires would be best, no more than five.”
This time they could go to the closest portal. The five vampires stood in the Bon Temps cemetery as Fintan found and opened the portal. Isabel, Felipe, Maxwell, Indira, and Russell stood by him. Each of them, including Fintan, had iron weaponry; swords, crossbows with arrows, and daggers.
Holding out his hand, Fintan shimmied the portal’s opening, making it slightly visible to the vampires. “When I say jump, jump.”
They jumped on his command, entering a different part of Fairy compared to the Ohio portal. “Where to?” Russell asked.
“Half a mile that way,” Fintan said, pointing in the right direction. The Bon Temps portal was closer to fairy village.
The vampires moved quickly, knowing this needed to be taken care of swiftly. They came ready for and expecting a fight, knowing that hardly any time had passed here since Nora had been removed. They had barely reached the edge of the village when they encountered their first sign of trouble. A small band of fairies were patrolling the edges of the village, waiting to sound the alarms.
With their weapons already drawn, the vampires worked quickly, destroying the fairies swiftly. They were not well trained, and the sharp iron weapons easily parted their flesh.
“Why isn’t their scent affecting us?” Isabel asked, looking down at the fairy blood that covered her.
“It wouldn’t, not here,” Fintan replied, cleaning his blade on his shirt. “The magic here suppresses it.”
“Where to?” Russell asked again, refocusing them. They needed the tools to get to Sookie.
“The palace,” Fintan replied, pointing it out in the distance. “Niall keeps everything there.” Once more, the vampires sped in the direction he indicated, a few straying off at a time or two, to kill those who tried to detain or slow them down. By the time they got to the palace gates, each one of them was coated in blood and some even had some dust decorating their bodies.
“If he’s here, Niall will be in his office,” Fintan told Russell. “Everything I need should be in there with him.”
They had managed to get this far unscathed, but now there would be the elite guard to fight. Each fighter prepared him or herself mentally before they entered the palace, Fintan and Russell leading the way in a vicious attack.
Russell moved in a frenzy as he cut down all in front of him. The thought that his child was in Danann drove him on. One fairy after another fell to his blade as he coated the walls with their blood. When a fairy almost got the better of Maxwell, he swiftly intervened, slicing into the fighter before he could end the vampire.
“Thank you,” Maxwell said as he thrust his blade through the heart of another fairy.
“How many inside?” Felipe asked Fintan as they approached the door to Niall’s office.
“Just three,” Fintan answered, surprised there wasn’t more. “One of them is definitely Niall.”
“Focus on getting what you need and popping out. We’ll meet you at the portal,” Russell said.
Fintan nodded in agreement before Russell kicked the door in and sped inside the office.
The two guards in there were the most vicious. They had silver weapons and were wielding them expertly. Claude was one who was attacking, teleporting, and fighting the vampires well. Niall was clashing swords with Felipe.
As the vampires fought the fairies, Fintan made a dash for the large cabinet on the far side of the room and yanked the door open. Everything he needed was in there and he quickly pulled out the materials. Russell moved to cover his back and protect him.
Niall was slowly being bested by Indira and Maxwell. De Castro let out a cry as one arm was sliced off by Claude. The fairy grinned haughtily, not realizing Felipe had allowed the injury to deliver a fatal blow. The grin remained on his face even as Claude’s head fell to the ground.
The other fairy, however, seemed more skilled. It took one slip on Isabel’s part for her heart to be pierced with the silver sword and her torso to be sliced open. Russell quickly zipped over, causing Fintan to spin around sword raised. The ancient vampire caught Isabel as she fell before she exploded. The sword had been tipped with wood. Russell looked at the guard, but couldn’t stop himself from doing a double take.
The wooden-tipped sword clanged against Fintan’s raised sword as the guard brought it down swiftly.
“Brother?” Fintan whispered in disbelief as he recognized the other fairy.
Dermot’s eyes widened as he pulled back his weapon. “Fintan,” whispered the fairy guard, his hands shaking. “Father said you were dead.”
“Not dead, disowned,” Fintan said bitterly. “I dared go against his wishes and loved someone not of his choosing.”
Niall knew he was done, but he would not permit the son he should have aborted to corrupt his loyal one, even if it meant killing one of them himself. He pulled an iron dagger out of his belt with his free hand, spinning toward the fairies. He reared back and slammed the dagger forward.
While Dermot’s back had been to the remaining fight, Fintan’s eyes went wide and he grabbed his brother pulling him to the side and out of harm’s way, unable to avoid the iron blade himself as it implanted itself right below his left shoulder.
“No!” Dermot screamed, seeing the blade slice into the brother he thought was dead. “Why, Father?” he cried as he pulled Fintan into his arms.
The vampires leapt at Niall, restraining him before he could do any more damage. Fintan’s eyes closed as he looked at Russell. “Pull it out,” he said to the vampire, as his uninjured hand clasped his brother’s wrist, preparing for the pain.
“No, no, no,” Dermot cried, his tears falling onto his brother’s face.
“It’s okay, brother,” Fintan told him, feeling pain radiating and spreading through his body as every blood cell that touched the iron poisoned his system.
“No, it’s not,” Dermot wept. “I just got you back.”
“I need you, brother,” Fintan said as Russell stepped over. “I need you to get my Sookie home. They took her to Danann.” He braced himself, grasping Dermot’s wrist tighter. He screamed out as Russell pulled out the blade that was continuing to poison his system.
The ancient vampire crouched before the twin fairies. “Would my blood assist?” Russell asked.
“No,” Dermot replied brokenly. “The wound was too deep. He will pass to the Summerlands soon.”
“You need to help her, Dermot,” Fintan told him, ignoring the exchange. “Swear you will do all you can,” he begged. Fintan closed his eyes, his breathing ragged. He opened them again to stare in his brother’s tear-filled eyes. “Save her,” he pleaded hoarsely.
“I will. I give you my word, brother,” Dermot swore, ignoring Niall’s cry at his promise.
Fintan gasped in breaths, trying but failing to ignore the pain. Tears trickled out of his eyes as he wondered who would greet him in the Summerlands. Would his Adele be there? She was human. His mother? She was human too. He thought back to his childhood. His school friends had always been less important than his brother had, but those who had passed, would be good to greet once more. He thought of his caretakers and his extended family. They would be nice to see. Then his mind flicked to his Sile, the original fairy sacrifice to the Danann. She would be there to greet him, he thought, and it filled him with pleasure.
“Save her,” Fintan whispered, addressing not only his brother, but the rest of the room as well. His mind finally savored the peace of painless death. With his last shallow gasping breaths, he thought of Sile.
Dermot wept openly as his twin turned to dust in his arms. “I promise,” he repeated over and over.
“Dermot,” Russell said, gently grasping the fairy’s shoulder.
Dermot looked up at Russell through tear-filled eyes. “I didn’t know,” he swore heart brokenly. “I didn’t know he was alive or that Sookie was his granddaughter.”
“I believe you,” Russell said to him. “But we need to get the tools to open a portal to Danann and get back to the human realm. The more time we spend here the more days we miss there.”
“I can open it for you,” Dermot said, determined to honor his brother. “Pass me that bag,” he added as he rose to his feet.
Russell handed him the bag wordlessly. They needed to hope Dermot was a loyal and honorable fairy. He was the only chance they had.
Collecting the supplies he needed, Dermot threw the bag over his shoulder and glared at his father in hatred. “You killed your own son and sold his granddaughter into slavery. I hope you burn for it.”
“He will,” Russell promised.
“Let’s go,” Dermot said after spitting in Niall’s face.
“The portal in Bon Temps,” Russell told him as the vampires dragged the resistant fairy prince through his palace, across the village, and to the portal that would take them back.
It didn’t take them long to reach it, and once they did, Dermot quickly opened it and instructed the vampires to jump through after first checking it was night.
They sped to the Shreveport home, unsure of how much time had passed in Fairy.