The Rider


It was a childish and innocent game, enough. But when children tended to play it in the dark and gloomy forest that was forbidden, innocent was hardly a word you could call it. The forbidden forest that was closed-off from the townsfolk of Bon Temps had a peculiar scent to it. The lingering scent of earth, and old blood, and death. And that was exactly what Sookie had found in the woods that late afternoon as she hid from her brother.

Sookie liked to climb trees best. She knew a graceful and safe way to use her limbs to stretch out on the branches without falling, and her ten-year-old brother Jason took forever finding her when she hid up trees.

For a moment, a still silence crept over the forest as she trod and heaved herself further up a tree. Jason's voice calling out for her suddenly trailed off and grew disturbingly distant. But then she heard it:

"Come out, come out, wherever you are!"

She let out a sigh of relief hearing her brother's voice and she was about to make her way back down the tree to startle him when she heard another sound sweep through the woods. It was the sound of horse's hooves pounding the dirt.

Sookie stared below the branches and saw a magnificent white stallion gaiting past. It's coat was as white as snow, but what intrigued her the most, she thought, was the person riding on the brilliant creature. She could not discern the rider's appearance; as he was wearing a long black cloak with the hood up, keeping his face invisible to any eyes who dared to seek a face underneath it. As the rider clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth gently to persuade his white horse to a stop, he dismounted the horse swiftly by swinging his legs around its powerful torso and his large pair of dark leather boots that came up to his knees hit the dirt loudly from underneath the soles of them.

Sookie couldn't tear her eyes away from the cloaked figure; She found herself captivated, both by the horse, and its invisible owner. She held her breath as he brought his hands up to the hood covering his face, and her heart stopped for a moment when he cast back the hood to reveal a man's face. His hair was matted clumps of dirty-blond that rippled an inch or so below his shoulder-blades, and he had an ethereal but highly menacing quality to him. He looked weather-beaten, and rugged, as though he had been on horseback for evenings on end. His jaw was set as he peered around the forest, and the air around him seemed to have dark, luring appeal.

Sookie watched him survey his surroundings, and she moved a little to catch a better glimpse of this mysterious rider. Much to her misfortune, the branch she went to step on gave out a little snap, leaves whirled down towards the ground, and it seemed to alert the mysterious man in a daunting way. Without warning, he bore a long pale sword with skill, like a sharp and expert weapon-bearer, and as he reclined his head towards the trees where she hid, Sookie wished she was invisible.

Eyes a brilliant ocean hue met hers from where she remained hiding, and Sookie felt cold all over. There was an odd aura of fear and danger the man presented, simply by looking at her.

"It seems there is a monkey hiding in the trees," spoke the man, and, deliberately it seemed, he brought his eyes away from her and glanced off into the distance. "Why don't you come down from that tree and reveal yourself to me?"

Sookie's heart raced furiously, and she tightened her grasp of the branches above her. It had to have been a one metre drop, and she wasn't sure she had enough strength to grapple her way safely down the tree with a strangers eyes on her. "I don't think I will, good sir," she said in as calm a voice as she could manage, directing her quaky voice down at him from where he stood, waiting below her. She knew better than to trust some stranger that had a weapon drawn. What if he slit her throat the instance she did?

"Yes, you will, girl, you will climb down this instance; and you won't defy me."

Suppressing the urge to stick out her tongue at him, she attempted to climb further up the tree. But to her dismay, the branch she was standing on decided to break from underneath her, and she was sent flying down the tree. She let out a small, agonized scream as one of the branches cut into her right cheek, and she screamed again in embarrassment as she saw herself falling precisely on top of the rider's head. She brought him down with her, and since his body was in the way, he took most of the impact and cushioned her fall rather lovely.

With a strangled noise, Sookie's eyes shot open and stared nervously at where she lay. Somehow, she had landed right on the centre of the man's chest, and his head was flopped back at an odd angle. She could see crushed dirt and leaves in his long hair as it billowed out around him, and as she took a closer inspection of his face, she felt her heart beat frantically. His handsome face was just a few inches from hers, and his eyes were tightly closed, as though she had winded him terribly. She couldn't even hear him breathing, no less, and when she raised her hand and placed it carefully underneath his nose, she couldn't feel anything touching her skin. No breathing. His chest didn't even move. He wasn't breathing; He was still as a corpse.

"Oh, no," Sookie thought sadly, as she stared wide-eyed at the man. "I've gone and killed him!"

Something caught her attention on his robe, and she saw he had a little pendant dangling around his neck, fastened around it with a thread of drawstring. It was an interesting looking pendant, though, she hadn't any wits about what it was meant to be. She brought her eyes back up to the man's face, curious to if he had made any movement or sign of life again. But his eyes were still closed, and he did not stir.

She needed to get help, that's what Sookie had to do. She needed to get back into town and call on a doctor to return and get him fixed up.

With that idea in mind, she lifted herself carefully off his chest and sprung to her feet. She bent her knees in a way to prepare herself to run for her life back into town to get some assistance, when suddenly something seized her ankle in a death grip. She gasped and looked, and saw that the man's hand was clutching onto her ankle, preventing her from leaving. Despite all that, his eyes were still closed, and he looked dead. It was almost as if seizing her by the ankle had been a sudden spasm he had been inflicted with, and he seemed to be holding onto her ankle quite effortlessly.

"Please, good sir," Sookie panted, struggling to get free. "Release me. I'm trying to help you."

The man's lips parted open, finally a sign of life. And then, he spoke through them, "What makes you think I need your help, girl?" His deep voice was mocking. "It is you that needs more help than I. Do you know who I am?"

Sookie shook her head, "I wouldn't care anyway, who you are. The only person's name I need to know of is the good Lord's himself. Now, please, let me go."

"As you wish," answered the man, letting his tight grip falter immediately. Catching her off-guard, she stumbled back a fraction, and watched the man cautiously as he climbed to his feet. He was so much taller than her. It made her feel almost small, insignificant. His long hair rippled in the breeze, and she took a step backwards as he took a careless one forwards. "You needn't be frightened. I will not hurt you, so you can consider yourself lucky. I only wish to help you."

"Help me?" Sookie shot back, with haughty pride in her voice. "Why would you need to help me?"

He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled shrilly. His fine white horse galloped back over to his side faithfully, and in a way that almost made her laugh, the horse ducked it's head at her and made a courteous bowing movement by crisscrossing its front legs. Sookie stared at the beautiful horse in bewilderment, and caught herself wanting to feel how soft it's coat no doubt was. Her eyes flitted up to the man to find that he was watching her vehemently with eyes that seemed to gauge her every reaction. He sheathed his sword next, and she felt immediately comforted by the action.

"May I?" she asked uncertainly, hesitantly reaching out with a hand full of eagerly splayed fingers towards the horse.

"You may," the man simply said quietly, with eyes that refused to leave her. The moment her fingers touched the horse's white coat, she fell in love. She wanted to put her cheek flat against it next, to feel how luxuriously soft its coat was.

The man threw his hood over his features and Sookie stepped back a fraction warily as he mounted the horse. Sookie backed away and he watched her with secretive eyes through the cloak as she dashed away without even so much as another glimpse back at him. He reached down and stroked the small spot on his horse that she had touched with her smaller fingers, and even then, he could almost still feel the heat of her. He could easily conjure in his mind how scrubbed and clean her fingernails had been, and how delicate her hands were, and how soft to the touch. The beds of his fingernails, however, were marked with blood and dirt, from endless years of bloodshed and carnage. So dirty, so unclean, very much unlike hers. He had never seen a girl of her tender age seem so unaffected and courageous in front of him. For goodness sake, she even petted his horse.

"I shall not forget you," he said to himself, as he stared off long ways into the place she had now disappeared. "And I will return for you, in a few years perhaps. You live in the little secluded town of Bon Temps, I see?" He patted his horse and scratched it behind the ears absently. "Lucifer," he whispered to the horse, putting his mouth by it's pointy ear, "I believe Eric Northman has found his marionette, at last."

He tapped the horse on the side with his shoe forcefully, and commanded the horse to hurtle westward.

I'm not sure if anyone will like this. I'm a very big fan of The Lord of The Rings, etc, and imagined what it would be like to have Eric Northman as this dark and reclusive figure, who people fear. I would very much appreciate your thoughts, or even a simple comment telling me to continue, and that it is something you would like for me to continue, would be wonderful