This post is a bit of a process for me – coagulating my thoughts on Eric and Felipe – and what the hell Felipe is likely to do. As of now, writing this paragraph, I’m not sure, and I’m not so sure I’ll have an answer when I get to the end, but this will organise and set me free of the way it’s plaguing my brain at this point. Firstly, the zones map I made:
The big question here is what will Felipe do about the killing of Victor and how will it play out?
Firstly, I think I should point out that when it comes initially to discussing the conjunction of Victor’s death and Freyda’s proposal, that at least for the first part of my analysis, the end result is the same – either Eric is dead by Felipe, de-Sheriffed by Felipe or given to Freyda. Whichever way you look at it, Eric is gone from Area Five. It doesn’t make much of a difference if he’s ashes on the wind or if he’s flirting with Freyda – he’s still not there, and the surrounding affects are what matter and what will influence Felipe.
Okay, in the framing of easy answers, fanfic offers us only the idea that Felipe would just thank Eric and be done with it. That’s highly unlikely to be what Felipe does. If Felipe were to do that, it would be tacit approval to every other vampire that is in Louisiana – kill whoever you want, deplete Felipe’s numbers and power structure and he won’t mind one single bit. Felipe might be glad that Victor is dead, but he’d rather eat ground glass that give that up. It’d be open season for any vampire to knock off whoever they hate – and I bet vampires can hold quite the grudge. So Felipe isn’t going to send the message that Eric can kill who he wants to, when he wants to. That would be sending the clear message that Eric’s desires outweigh what it is that Felipe wants done. You can’t be a ruthless scary vampire King if you’re going to just let shit go because you didn’t like the personality of the vampire who died. Every other vampire will wonder if Eric’s going to kill them next, and the power would shift away from Felipe and to Eric. So just letting it go in the name of friendship is a suicidal move.
While SVM doesn’t have the retarded idea of the Magister who’s concerned with vampire numbers (and it is retarded because what the fuck does the Magister do otherwise and who the hell pays for him to live or does he just go from junkyard to junkyard on the back of a pick up? Does anyone believe he has 3-4 court cases a night and therefore why does he have so many court matters sitting around waiting if that’s his full time job…..stupid show) it does have a complex system wherein the maker or owner of the original vampire gets paid for the loss of said vampire. They have some arbitration – that possibly goes on at the summits. But there’s no turning of a life for a life – after all, some feckless 17 year old virgin is hardly an adequate replacement for a vampire with centuries of experience. Numbers are important, but no one just grabs up some random human to fill their ranks. They choose humans with a desirable quality that will help them along or fulfil a need. They also try to obey the laws for the most part, since SVM vampires are actually dead in the day – and thus defenceless if humans decide they’ve overstepped their bounds by killing and turning one too many humans in a junkyard.
So Victor himself – for whatever benefits he gave Felipe – is worth more than just turning some random vampire. At the very least, Eric will probably have to pay a very hefty fine for getting rid of Felipe’s very valuable lieutenant. That may be the least of what happens – and probably the only sure outcome. Thank goodness Eric is sensible and no doubt has liquid savings rather than a piece of real estate better known as a white elephant plantation house. Victor made a lot of money, and kept a lot of vampires in line for Felipe. It doesn’t matter what Victor might have done to take away Louisiana – Felipe isn’t going to look at worst case scenario – he’s going to look at what he was actually robbed of. At the time of his death, Victor was acting Regent in Felipe’s name. We see through Sookie’s eyes, and speculate that he might have had his eyes on a crown, but that’s just speculation, and will probably have no bearing on what Felipe decides Victor is worth. After all, he now has Eric over a barrel and can squeeze him for every last drop of money, fealty and blood. Since he’s a ruthless vampire King, that would probably be a bloody good move.
Of course, on top of that Felipe might have some special punishment for Eric. I doubt very much whether he’s going to call him to Las Vegas – he’s more likely to come to Eric if he must. Most likely he’ll send Sandy back to Louisiana and she’ll be the one to dish out punishment. I know she’s a woman, but she’s a scary vampire as well, and this isn’t AB’s world where women have no power relative to men. I don’t know if we’ll find out about it – or whether Eric will keep it to himself. It won’t be anything that disables him or takes him out of commission with the state the way it is. He’s still the physical power at the top of the state, in case another royal tries to push into the state. The first vampire Area any of them would hit would be Eric’s Area. It’s tactically important. Sandy at least has field experience in Louisiana – from before Victor sent her away. Now that Victor’s gone, Felipe will have to get someone in to fill that power vacuum. He can’t just let the state lie fallow, or some other vampire will get in there before him, and he’ll lose Louisiana.
One of the things that affects the outcome of this little incident is the power structure that already exists in Louisiana. As of Victor’s death, once again, the only real power nexus in Louisiana is Eric and Area 5. Any of the other sheriffs in the state haven’t been running things too long, and while Victor has been travelling the state, he’s not a typical hands-off type leader pushing his underlings to excel. Victor is the type of leader to try to cut down a Sheriff who looks too powerful – much like he did with Eric. You wouldn’t stick your head up too high in that state, because Victor might chop it off to show everyone else he’s a tough guy. So their power base is a little undermined, particularly since the odds are that Victor has been taxing the shit out of them to fund his campaign against Eric. Every organisation needs continuity of leadership, and the Louisiana fiefdoms haven’t had much of that since Sophie Anne and all of her people died.
If Sandy turns up, I’m sure that she could have everything ship-shape in short order. The problem is that now Eric actually looks like a threat. After all – he killed the previous Regent. We might know the situation, but a vampire Regent isn’t going to just trust that Eric’s intentions are good. That’s how you get dead. Unlike the school yard no one is going to listen to Eric’s pleas that Victor was picking on him and it was justifiable. Vampires sooooo don’t care about what a bad week you’ve had, and how Victor was asking for it. Being ruthless means being actually ruthless – pressing where you have advantage, despite what Eric might claim. Of course, there might be some leniency for Eric if he can show that Victor was a really harsh leader who was forming insurrection in his ranks, and hopefully the advent of those clubs siphoning off Eric (and indirectly Sookie’s) money will show what a craptacular job Victor was doing in Louisiana. Sandy – or whoever is sent – will have to be the right balance of intimidating and progressive to get things back on track.
I’ve spoken before about what will get loyalty, and about spies. Being a leader in the vampire world is a delicate balance – scary enough not to be fucked with, but not so scary all your underlings want to kill you off in fear of their own lives. Eric is a good example of that – his killing of Longshadow exemplifies that he’s not to be fucked with, and his underlings all appreciate the freedom he gives them. Eric has some cool management skills he uses – if I was a vampire, I’d want a boss like Eric. But as Felicia said, he’s no softie. In the first book he was willing to torture his accountant – and would have but for Sookie – so he’s no one’s white knight. Even Thalia fears his punishments:
Sometimes she seems to forget how little she would like that punishment.”
All Together Dead, p. 17
If Thalia fears your punishments, you’re one hard-arse. As referenced in Bacon, Thalia is older than Eric – way older – she knew the original Circe of Greek myth, which puts her at c. 750-700 B.C.. I know that the predominating wisdom is that Eric is the oldest vampire around, but he’s not, and he’s certainly not a sweetie-pie boss. Just there happens to be a lot of scope between say a boss like Sam (worst punishment is short shorts and not offering health insurance) and a boss like Victor (worst punishment is making you eat your mother’s tongue and letting her bleed to death in front of you). That doesn’t mean that Eric is a better boss than all other bosses, or that he’s a benevolent boss, and I daresay he has his specialised tortures that he enjoys, and dishes them out on his vampires. Oh, and he doesn’t rape them or force them to have sex with him – which is something vampires don’t find much elsewhere.
So Eric is desirable in his Area just because it’s running, it’s been running a while, he can successfully defend it, and he has vampires who are loyal to him. The fact that he tends not to monster his vampires as a management style means that if one of his underlings tried to get rid of Eric, who are they going to inherit? Victor? Someone else like Victor? Pfft. Better to stick with Eric. It’s sensible for Eric too to have underlings who’ll like him and work hard for him. Fear is not a good motivator – not fear for your loved ones. Finding your job relatively tolerable is what it’s about in the vampire world. A couple of shifts a week at Fangtasia, fair tithes and Eric isn’t a dickhead monster to you should cover it.
Bill will be essential to the Area, so I see him staying and probably keeping Sookie company for a bit. I know that some of the popular opinion is that Bill should die a horrible death, but that’s not practical. Eric is nothing if not practical. In fact, Eric would be a giant dickhead to drive Bill and his database from the Area. Bill is valuable:
From Dead to Worse, p. 175
I know that there’s generally a lot of contempt for Bill, which grates on me. Bill is valuable to Eric, makes him lots of money and keeps Eric alive. Victor is saying above that it factors into why Eric is still alive for the Las Vegas takeover. Plus, he’s like live-in bodyguard for Sookie, who Eric doesn’t have to pay or motivate. Bill isn’t going to let Sookie die, so Eric can just go back to work and leave it at that. So Eric has a gentle enough touch to keep Bill there in the Area, making money and working for him. If Eric is a dickhead and drives Bill from the Area, Mississippi for one would be over the moon to have Bill and all those juicy profits, while Eric’s King would be gravely unhappy to lose the revenue – and take it out on Eric. I also think that the romantic fairytale that Eric would drive Bill out for upsetting his relationship with Sookie…heh…yeah, sure. He characterised rape as relationships getting “rocky”. Move on fangirls – Eric is no dewy eyed lamb of love who’ll banish evil Bill from the castle forever.
Of course, the oath of fealty is important on both Eric and Bill’s sides. They both abide by it with some cordiality. The oath of fealty when it comes to the vampires – they have to both swear one to their Sheriff to be taken into an Area, and they have to be released from it when they want to leave. That will play into how Felipe handles Eric’s killing of Victor. After all, Eric is able to keep Bill in the state – and it’s possible that if Eric left, so too would Bill. We know he stays for Sookie, but there is no guarantee that there aren’t other factors keeping him from leaving. If another Sheriff was installed who would use Bill’s caring for Sookie against him, I think Bill would be just as likely to leave to protect Sookie. You wouldn’t just want to get rid of a Sheriff holding together an Area, thinking that that’s the end of it. It could decimate the Area – Pam would leave, Bill may leave, Thalia might leave or become uncontrollable. Indira might leave – all of those vampires who like the conditions under Eric might just up and follow him to wherever he goes – and that’s not good for business.
Now, of course, they’ve sworn loyalty to Felipe as well as to the Area Five Sheriff, but it’s silly to think not letting them out of their oaths to go elsewhere means that they’ll perform the same way. That’s an absolute invitation to skive off and do less, and to form a plot to kill your leader so that you can leave and do as you wish. So no good leader who wanted to make money and stay alive would try to force vampires to stay with them. In the case of Eric, it would absolutely decimate the existing power structure of Area Five. Not only that, but because Eric is actually a hard arsed bastard, there’s no one waiting in the wings to give it smooth transition to new leadership.
So taking Eric out of Area Five would potentially devastate the Area, and as a result, the entire state of Louisiana. Arkansas isn’t formed enough under Red Rita to support Louisiana. So I don’t think that Felipe would do that, until he can get things back on track in Louisiana. Some nice continuity going and Eric would be toast. As it stands now, Victor actually did Eric a favour by ripping all those resources out of New Orleans and leaving Eric relatively strong. After all, all Eric has to do to be up to speed again, is plump out his ranks and shut down Victor’s clubs (or assume them) and he’ll be right. But that doesn’t mean that Felipe won’t have some nasty torture and a lot of money to squeeze out of Eric.
Now, one thing that does throw a spanner in the works is the Freyda situation. One of the key influences is whether or not Felipe finds out that the bond is broken. If he knows, then his best course of action is to send Eric off to Freyda and try to assume care of Sookie. After all, Sookie wouldn’t be going with Eric along to Oklahoma, and Felipe could claim the telepath for himself. But the problem there is Niall – Felipe is not going to want to piss off Niall. Even though we know Niall is gone, there’s a mail slot right there and as I’ve discussed before, Niall might actually re-open the portals to help Sookie. Felipe’s going to want to keep things cool with Niall. I dare say that in exchange for her services, the weres and shifters would be willing to stand up to Felipe, and Sookie can always go to the police. That’d be a dicey subject though – and cause for action in the next books.
That’s a possibility – that Felipe will try to get rid of Eric to get his hands on Sookie. Of course, he’s still left with that empty Area Five if he does that – so he’s unlikely to do that for a telepath of unknown worth that may refuse to co-operate. A forced telepath who really doesn’t want to co-operate is pretty useless for what you want her for. It was different before – when they didn’t know she’d rather be married to Eric than a creature for the King. Now they do know that. There comes a point where threats don’t become viable, and if uprooted from her home and all she cares about, Sookie would be a lot less helpful. I also think that at this point, Sookie could argue that Felipe’s promise of protection doesn’t mean dick because it was all lies during the Fae war. She could also argue that Clancy’s death paid off that debt. Either way, I don’t see Sookie easily going to Las Vegas.
I know one of the common scenarios in fics is to put Sookie in chains, or brutalise her – but that’s not the way vampires work. They use subtle menace and threats. That’s what actually works in the real world. Too much brutality and one ends up like Victor – with no one wanting to do what he wants them to, and everyone trying to get as far away as possible. A telepath, as I’ve discussed before, cannot have thoughts verified. I mean, if Sophie Anne decided to brutalise Sookie and put her in chains, that would have been the moment when Sookie decided that the FotS were right to blow up the lot of vampires at Rhodes. That’s if she didn’t let it slip with everyone Sophie Anne did business with.
Every time I see a fanfic vampire brutalising Sookie and putting her in chains, that’s the point when I think the vampire is deeply stupid..or rather that the author would be really bad at being a vampire. They’d be the type like Mickey – and hey, Tara threw him for a loop more than once. He wasn’t trying to keep a resourceful telepath in line – just some chick who owned a shop and didn’t have a surfeit of supernatural beings that would stand up for her, or supe favours to call in. Mickey was crap at controlling Tara – she broke out of his control in Merlotte’s once, she reported what was going on to Sookie, and Sookie got Eric to call Mickey off. And Mickey didn’t have a kingdom to keep in order and could keep Tara around the house (because he didn’t require her telepathic input on business dealings with humans) and she could be glamoured. So see how well that sort of treatment works? In that it just doesn’t – it’s only sustainable for a short period of time. As an aside, it’s damn crappy writing, because the story is in holding pattern boredom while Sookie sits in the house doing as she’s told.
But, I have no doubt that if Felipe can try to force Eric into a corner so that he has to trade off Sookie then I could see him doing that. Felipe isn’t Eric’s friend, and if can squeeze a telepath out of Eric, he might just try to do that. It would be like a game of political chicken – to see who blinks first. Felipe will work with the subtle threat that he might let the contract go ahead. In that way, Felipe might be able to bargain Sookie’s participation at summits out of Eric. Of course, Eric knows that, so he’d be playing chicken just as hard to give Felipe the least amount of Sookie time as he can. After all, Eric has been putting it to Victor that Sookie follows orders, so it stands to reason that he sells the same shit tale to Felipe as well. Of course, if this Freyda stuff drags on too long, Sookie is less likely to do what Eric thinks best, being that he’ll be some other woman’s husband and not have her best interests at heart.
Speaking of Freyda, she’s the new Queen on the board who has the potential to scuttle this whole thing. She’s really powerful – she has Oklahoma, and she has her eyes on Las Vegas. So does the King of Arizona (I’ll pause here for you to find where they are on the zones picture) have his eyes on Nevada. Eric’s quote is the most pertinent here:
Dead Reckoning, p. 186
Felipe at this point is relatively weak. All three states are ripe for the picking, because he doesn’t have one strong state – he has three seriously understaffed states. We don’t know enough about the situation in Las Vegas to say for sure. But that could be a crucial point. If Felipe only has a skeleton crew in Nevada, then he may not be able to spare Sandy to send her to Louisiana. This would be good for Eric in one way, because he’d just have to pay Victor’s maker; but it would leave the state wide open for whoever decided they wanted to own it. It’d be bad for Eric because it means yet another takeover. It seems as if the Zeus board has decided that any Zeus ruler who wants to go for Felipe’s kingdom can do so – because we have two Zeus kingdoms circling Nevada, as Eric points out.
Now, that means that both Arizona and Oklahoma are stable enough to actually take over the states. As it exists now, while Louisiana and Arkansas are adjacent, Nevada and Louisiana and Arkansas are not. It’s possible that Felipe will have to fend off these sharks. Of course, if I’m right, and as I’ve proposed before, if Freyda really really wants a telepath, and if she takes over Louisiana, she has no reason to marry Eric to get Sookie. She’ll be the Queen, and be able to make a deal with Eric that if he lets her use his wife at Summits, he can stay married.
Oklahoma is adjacent to Louisiana and Arkansas, and it’s easier taking over those states that are in formative disarray, than it is to go at Felipe’s power nexus. Of course, if the King of Arizona snatches up Nevada, then Freyda can steal in and get Louisiana and Arkansas. They might even be working together in a tacit agreement with each other – she can have the two weaker states, and he can have the one strong state. In that case, Freyda will have the advantage of owning Louisiana and the floor is hers. She can make whatever rules she wants, and negotiate for a telepath directly, rather than the underhanded way she seems to be going about it now.
The real question is, would resettling under a new power system take a lot of time, or a little; and how much of a threat is Freyda to Sookie? As far as it goes, apart from the Eric dealie, Freyda is no different to Felipe. She’d want to use Sookie’s telepathy, and that’s it. Felipe wants that too. Either royal is the same as far as Sookie’s life. It’s Eric’s life that would be in disarray over another takeover, and that would present difficulties in their relationship, just like it did last time. Of course, that seems to be the way of vampire life, and Louisiana could do with some stability that it had under Sophie Anne.
So I’ve come to the end of my reasoning. Either Felipe will punish Eric with money and possibly physical torture (or more likely set up Sandy as regent and have her do it – leading to stable female leadership by a good ruler in the state of Louisiana) or Freyda will take over the state. I can’t quite decide which way I lean right now, and CH often tends to surprise me. I can’t wait…but until then, I’ll keep guessing over it – which way will Felipe leap?