Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Thanks to the researcher who have contributed to runestones.com for helping me understand a little more. This chapter is short. Just warning you now. All mistakes are my own.
Eric paced the kitchen until Pam got home.
She frowned. “What’s going on with you? Trouble in paradise?”
“Paradise?” he replied and then shook his head. “No, Sookie and I are fine. I’m,” he paused and pointed to the crown and open book still on the table in the front room.
“You’re what?” Pam tilted her head. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m part fairy.”
Eric rushed to the book and pointed to the page while Pam read over his shoulder. “My father was Håkan the Red.” He traced his father’s name with his fingertip. “His mother, Atla, died giving birth to him.”
“Atla was Fae?”
Eric shook his head. “No. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t spoken to Niall.”
“When did you see Niall?”
“You were out with Marie when he came into the bar. We talked about the past. He’s having trouble with Breandan again.”
“I don’t understand what this has to do with your heritage,” Pam interjected.
He grunted. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Niall told me that Breandan is going to wipe out all fairy hybrids, something about it stealing their Fae magic. He mentioned that Breandan is a hypocrite since he had a human lover a long time ago. Atla.”
“Holy shit!” Her eyes widened. “You’re Breandan’s grandson?”
“Does he know?”
“I don’t think anyone does. Breandan might not have known Atla was with child. You know how the Fae have no concept of time passing in this realm. Niall spoke as if we’d just seen each other yesterday, but it’s been a century.”
“I remember,” Pam said, a shudder moving through her body. The battle had been long and bloody. Drunk on fairy blood, they had barely escaped a true death.
“Breandan’s father died, leaving him in charge of the water Fae. He’s waging war again.”
“But because Niall killed his son, that means you’re his heir!”
“And I’m in love with his rival’s granddaughter, Sookie.”
“And you’re a vampire. Wait, Sookie is Niall’s granddaughter?”
He nodded. “I’m sure he’ll be very proud,” he said wryly. He turned his attention back to the crown. “I wish I could read this,” he said.
“They’re runes, right? You can. We have the whole world of knowledge at our fingertips,” she said before retrieving her laptop.
“Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? I was just researching Breandan!”
“You’ve been a little preoccupied. All we have to do is find a site that has…” she trailed off and smiled. “Here it is. Each of these symbols means something.” She picked up the crown and squinted.
“This piece is different,” he said, pointing out the medallion.
Pam’s eyes scanned the page. “This symbol means water, or the sea.” She pointed to a carving that looked like a backward seven. “And this one,” she rubbed her finger into the grooves of an X, “means love or marriage.” Four smaller runes were carved below. “These ones,” she scrolled up and down on the page, “mean Odin, Tyr, water, and Odin again.” She frowned. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
Eric read over her shoulder. “Each rune has a phonetic sound. Those each represent a letter in her name: Atla.” He got a knife and used the blade to pry open the fine prongs holding it in place. Years of dust flaked away from the edges of the medallion when he popped it out. The piece seemed to give off pulses of energy in his palm. “It feels different… almost alive.”
Pam frowned and held her hand out to him, waiting for her turn to touch it, but when he placed it in her palm, the same expectant look remained on her face.
“Can you feel it?” he asked.
“Feel what?” She closed her hand around it but didn’t react. “It’s not different for me.”
He turned it over in her palm and they looked at the engraving on the back composed of an intricate series of symbols he’d never seen before. “What do you suppose this means?”
She shrugged. “They’re not runes, and they don’t look like any language I’ve seen.”
“I want to find out what they mean, and I know someone who can help.”
* * * *
“Are you coming with me?” Eric asked Pam as they sat outside a dark apartment building.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” Pam replied.
They walked up three flights of stairs silently and knocked. A chorus of crickets serenaded them while they waited, but the door didn’t open. The faint sound of a television filtered through the door.
Eric knocked again. Harder. Louder.
Pam turned her head and cupped her ear against the door. “Maybe she’s not—”
The door jerked open suddenly. Dim light spilled out, illuminating the squat form still holding the doorknob. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” Dr. Ludwig asked in a flat voice. She tightened the belt on her My Little Pony robe and sighed.
Eric bowed deeply. “My apologies. I need your help.”
Dr. Ludwig craned her head, looking down the corridor. “What do you need this time?”
“May we come in?” Eric asked politely.
“Ja. Won’t you please come in?” She shuffled inside and turned the T.V. off. Once she was behind her desk, she motioned to the two chairs opposite her. “I need a real office,” she said, motioning around her apartment. “So no one disturbs me while I’m trying to watch Six Feet Under in my pajamas.”
“I love My Little Pony,” Pam said.
“Meh, when you are as short as I, you don’t have much choice.” She cleared her throat. “Now, what can I help you with? Are you unhappy with the protection spell on your house? I’ve known that witch for years.”
“The protection spell has worked fine, but I do need to fortify it.”
“I will contact Octavia and let her know. Should I tell her to plan on tomorrow night?”
“Yes, that would be wonderful,” he said.
She smiled and pushed away from the desk. “If we’re finished—”
“I also came to show you this,” he said, sliding the medallion across her desk. The moment it left his hand, the vibrations stopped, making his skin twitch.
Dr. Ludwig scowled as she picked it up. “I can’t help you with this. I don’t read runes.”
“Oh, we’ve already—” Pam started, but Eric squeezed her knee, stopping her short.
“The other side interests me. It’s in a language I’ve never seen before.”
Dr. Ludwig’s plump fingers gripped the flat piece of metal and turned it over. She frowned and bent a lamp closer. “Where did you get this?”
Pam looked at Eric, but said nothing.
“A friend of mine.”
She narrowed her eyes, making them almost disappear. “I didn’t realize you were friends with a fairy.”
Eric and Pam exchanged a glance before he asked, “What does it say?”
She sighed before she got up and retrieved a large leather-bound book. “Some of the words I know, others I will have to look up.”
“We can wait,” Eric said.
“It will take a while,” Dr. Ludwig warned.
They still had several hours before the sun would rise. “We can wait.”
* * * *
Eric and Pam rested while they waited, conserving energy.
Dr. Ludwig rubbed her eyes before she spoke, “It’s a love poem.”
“What does it say?” he asked.
Dr. Ludwig ran her fingers across the engraving as she read from the notes she’d jotted down. “I cannot do it justice, I’m sure much is lost in translation.” She cleared her throat. “The tide rises and falls, bringing us together. The sea calls to me, but I love you more than life itself.” She sighed. “There are two more lines that are similar. The sea and love and being pulled apart. Your fairy friend,” she asked, “how does that work? Don’t you want to kill her?”
Eric frowned and then understood her meaning. “Oh. She’s not that kind of friend.”
Dr. Ludwig pushed the medallion across to him. Eric stood and set a pile of cash on her desk before picking it up. “Thank you for your help.”
She tucked the cash into a desk drawer and stood to show them out. “Until next time,” she said.
“Oh. One more thing,” Eric said, pausing in her doorway. “Did it feel strange in your hand?”
She snorted. “Of course not. I’m not Fae.”
* * * *
Eric remained silent for the drive back to their house.
“What are you going to do now?” Pam asked once they got home.
“Sleep. In the evening, I’ll… I’ll…” He sighed. “I’m not sure what I’ll do.”
“Does Sookie know?”
He shook his head. “No. But I need to tell her. Will you work my shift?”
“Of course,” Pam said.
At home, they went their separate ways and got ready for the coming day. He held the medallion in his hand while he slept, and for the first time in over a thousand years, he dreamt.
Happy Friday! On to Up All Night: Chapter 17