Kersen watched as a vampire’s right fang was ripped out with pliers. He winced sympathetically as the vampire screamed and then spit blood.
The Blood Diamond was closed for the night, and it was currently being used as the venue for a series of trials that needed to take place in London. The Magister currently sat on the stage in a chair that might as well have been a throne. Kersen assumed it had been brought in for him.
“You idiot,” the Magister said coldly. “You fed on a human that belonged to another. Three months of starving until your fangs grow back should teach you better manners. Brothers and sisters of the tribunal, is this fair? Is this just?”
Around them, vampires shouted their approval. Kersen, standing near the front beside Eric (who appeared as stoic and in control as ever), simply looked around at them, feeling his stomach turn over.
The Magister’s assistant then ripped out the other fang as the vampire screamed.
“Sentence passed and executed,” said the Magister. “This trial is concluded… best of luck. Moving on.” He looked down at a notebook he was holding. “Well this should be interesting. Eric Northman, sheriff of London.”
Eric stepped forward. “Yes, Magister.”
“Bring me your murderer,” the Magister said.
Without waiting for Eric, Kersen swallowed hard and then stepped forward. He was keenly aware that nearby there was a coffin cover in silver chains. It hadn’t been used yet.
“What do you have to say for yourself,” the Magister said.
Kersen had had a long time to consider that exact question. “The vampire in question attacked a human that belongs to me.” There were a lot of reasons why he was glad that Michael was not here for this, but this explanation was one of them. “He was threatening to kill him.
"So you killed a higher life form for the sake of your pet?" the Magister spat. "You broke an ancient and fundamental law, and decreased our numbers at what could be a critical time."
Kersen wondered why this could be a critical time. It made him feel uneasy. Though he had the good sense not to ask.
"And," the Magister added, "I understand that this may not have been the first such offense you have committed. I've heard things about you, Kersen Sonneveld. There are those who are quick to condemn you as valuing cattle over your own kind. These are very, very bad accusations."
Kersen tensed. This was not going well at all. He needed to deflect. Forcing himself to keep his voice calm he said, "Magister. The vampire had broken the law. The human was mine, and he knew it. He would have killed him. Fed from him - "
"A human!" the Magister interrupted. "A human death? Who cares, happens every day!"
"He - he was stealing from Eric as well," Kersen added quickly.
At that, the Magister arched an eyebrow, looking intrigued. "Eric?"
"Yes, Magister, it's true," said Eric stoically. "Jamie was a thief and a liar. He was hurting my business." Kersen wanted to look at him, but he didn't dare. He didn't want there to be any sense that they were... colluding.
"The business part..." the Magister said thoughtfully. "Now that is a serious offense."
Kersen found it disgusting that stealing was considered more of a crime that killing a human. Though again, he had the good sense not to express this opinion.
"Jamie attacked my human because he had been caught," Kersen said. "He was not only hurting Eric's business, but he would have killed my human - "
"Humans exist to serve us," the Magister said, words clipped. "That is their only value."
Suddenly, Kersen could not keep it in any longer. He had to say something to this. "There are those among us who think differently."
He could almost feel Eric glaring at him.
The Magister looked as if he wanted to rip Kersen's head off. "Do you question my authority? I am the Magister, I was trained in the inquisition, and I am the adjudicator for every vampire territory in Europe. As the humans say - those humans that I think you love more than your own kind, Mr. Sonneveld - back your shit down."
"Kersen," said Eric quietly, and Kersen glanced at him and then lowered his head.
The Magister made a little sound that almost sounded like amusement. Kersen looked up at him again, only to see a small smile on his face. "Well you haven't bored me," the Magister said. "That works in your favor. And you seem to be obedient to your sheriff."
"Yes," Eric said immediately. "He is."
Kersen was incredibly grateful. He could have kissed him.
"The usual sentence," said the Magister, "is five years in a coffin chained with silver."
Five years?! Kersen looked at the coffin and felt like he was going to throw up.
There were murmurings of surprise around them, as the Magister continued speaking. "During which time your body will waste to leather and sticks. You'll probably go insane. However..."
Hope sprung up in Kersen.
"I'm feeling a bit... creative," the Magister continued. "You, Kersen Sonneveld, seem to prefer the company of humans to vampires. You have lost your sense of priorities. You owe us... a life."
Kersen suddenly had a very, very bad feeling about this.
The Magister waved a hand, and a few seconds later, two vampires emerged from behind the stage, dragging behind them a human girl. She was young, and clearly terrified, screaming and struggling in vain while she was dragged. Though once they stopped, she stopped moving, as if hoping they might decide to simply let her go.
Kersen immediately knew then what the Magister intended, and his entire body went cold and numb. "No." He shook his head, looking almost panicked. "No."
The girl, meanwhile, was looking around, wide-eyed and terrified. Kersen couldn't even look at her.
And he couldn't do it. He couldn't. "Put me in the coffin, Magister," Kersen blurted, and inside felt himself hoping against hope that Michael and everyone else he cared about could forgive him. But he just couldn't do this. "I will go willingly. I swear."
The Magister looked down at the girl, chuckling at how clearly traumatized she was. "You've come to your end, child. Or perhaps your beginning." He gestured to Kersen, still looking amused. "Meet your maker."
The girl looked at Kersen. There was a light of realization in her eyes, as she seemed to realize now what they were planning to do to her. If it were even possible, she looked even more terrified. Too much to even speak. And yet, Kersen thought he saw the slightest shred of hope in the way she looked at him, in between the terror and defeat.
Kersen looked away from her. He couldn't stand it. He squared off at the Magister. "If you want to torture someone, torture me! I'm the one who broke the law! She didn't do anything..."
The Magister laughed again. "Torture? This isn't torture. Though I can show you that, if you like..." He looked down at the girl again with an almost leering expression.
"No," Kersen said quickly. He suddenly knew exactly how this would go. It didn't matter if he turned the girl or not. It wasn't as if they would leave her alive, let her go home. At least if he agreed... oh, god... at least he could try to make it hurt as little as possible. "I was wrong to speak," he said. "I apologize, Magister."
"Don't be so alarmed by what you see in this cow," the Magister said, looking down at her impassively. "Humans are primitive. Incapable of feeling pain as we do. But you know that. Bring her closer."
His assistant grabbed the girl by her hair and dragged her closer to Kersen. She started screaming and struggling again, more desperate this time.
"According to our records," the Magister said, "you have never been a maker. Is this true?"
"Yes, Magister." Kersen felt sick.
"But you know the procedure for your particular breed of vampire?"
"Yes, Magister." He couldn't even look at her.
"Then proceed. And do not glamour her if you are able. That's not allowed."
She was still screaming as Kersen very carefully knelt down on the floor beside her. He didn't dare look at Eric before he did so, not sure what he would see. The girl's screaming, meanwhile, only got louder the closer he got to her. He felt like a monster. He could see himself through her eyes and it made him feel sick.
"What is your name?" Kersen said gently. He tried to convey warmth, but he felt terrified himself.
She was barely coherent enough to speak, but she managed to get a single word out: "Bonnie."
"I'm so sorry, Bonnie," Kersen whispered.
She could only stare at him, tears running down her face.
Kersen just couldn't seem to bring himself to do it. He looked up at the Magister again. "She's just a girl!"
"Shut up and do as you're told!"
Kersen looked back down at her. "I'm so, so sorry," he said again, and reached for her. She screamed again, and began to struggle, the tears turning to sobs. It was easy enough for Kersen to overpower her, though.
"Forgive me," Kersen whispered, and sank his fangs into her neck.
The Magister laughed.