We sped through the windy back roads of Bear Creek to reach the main highway, which would take us to Anchorage. If I was human the combination of speed with the sharp corners of the narrow road would have violently knocked me around, but I sat perfectly still. My mind was a different story though; I was anxious of what lay ahead and at the same time worried that leaving Renesmee was a mistake. Edwards phone lit up, momentarily interrupting my thoughts.
“Who is it?” I asked as he pulled his phone from his pocket.
“Its just Carlisle,” he replied in a soft, reassuring tone as he briefly looked at the screen. I realised that my voice clearly reeked of the anxiety that penetrated every aspect of my body. We’d left the house almost immediately after Edward and I had fed – Carlisle was to book our flights so that we wouldn’t waste any time, he was simply passing on the booking information.
I forced myself to sit back into my seat. “Relax,” I told myself. I felt foolish, embarrassed, and weak. I felt like I should have been stronger than I was feeling; I needed to get a better control over my emotions – I was acting to, human.
“Stop,” I said to Edward suddenly and in moment of spontaneity as I was literally speaking as I thought.
He slowed his speed a little, but didn’t stop; “Bella?!” he asked, clearly surprised and confused by what I had said.
“Just stop the car,” I replied, “I want to drive!”
He put his foot on the break again, bringing it to a complete stop this time. I needed to get my mentality out of this sad, unhelpful mood and figured that by taking over the driving I would be able to better concentrate on the actual task at hand. My anxious, worrying thoughts were not helpful, and could even potentially put us in a bad situation if I wasn’t focusing on the right things.
There was a sense of uncertainty between Edward and I as I sat in the drivers seat. It wasn’t like there was a problem with me driving or anything – I was just as competent as he was; pushing the normal limits of things such as the speed and handling of a car wasn’t an issue when you had an indestructible body, and he wasn’t concerned about me being physically fragile any more. The uncertainty between us must have been coming from the fact that I was simply breaking a habit – Edward usually drove, no questions asked; he didn’t insist on it, it was just how it always turned out.
We remained silent as I gripped the steering wheel and floored the accelerator, speeding along the road. As we came into the next corner I didn’t slow down and instead accelerated hard – something that Edward had taught me few years back. I looked to my right, to where he was siting and noticed that he was smiling slightly.
“What?” I asked, in a tone that was half cheeky, but also suggested that I was already slightly offended if he was going to critique my driving. The uncertainty between us from when I’d asked to drive had vanished, and I realised that my whirlwind of anxious thoughts had been pushed much further towards the back of my mind – he must have been smiling because he had realised why I wanted to drive, and could see that it had worked.
“Not bad,” he replied, referring to the corner I had sped around; “break just before this one ahead, then floor it when we reach the peak of the corner,” he added.
I grinned at him in response and gently tapped my foot on the break, slowing a little. As soon as I felt the car start to pull in the opposing direction from the forces of gravity I slammed my foot back onto the accelerator. The car fishtailed slightly, but I kept my foot on the gas, which after a second or two gave the car the ability to gain traction again, speeding towards the next corner that lay ahead.
Edward continued giving me small tips as we winded our way through the back roads and onto the main highway to Anchorage. The distraction I had set up for myself had worked, I was completely focused on getting to Italy and I felt in control again – indestructible too, like a vampire should feel! Edward and I had also been able to enjoy some much-needed fun together - something that I realised had been seriously missing after all that had happened over the last week.
We didn’t have to wait long when we arrived at the airport – we technically should have been catching the late morning flight, given the time that it took most people to drive from Seward to Anchorage; but thanks to my un-humanly mannered driving, with Edward helping as my “co-pilot”, we caught the 1am to Italy. We didn’t talk much on the plane as most of the other passengers were asleep and I knew that if we did the conversation could easily turn to pointless worry – as easy as it would have been, I didn’t fall back into my mental rut of panic and anxiety, I was able to keep that under control.
The last time, my one and only other time that I had been to Volterra was when the town had been riddled with people celebrating Saint Marcus day – yes, the same Marcus from the volturi; it was all part of a plan allowing the volturi to remain living secretly under the town, as well as the cause of many of the major vampire myths seen in fictional material today. The flight to Italy had eaten up most of the day, and by the time we had flown from Rome to Florence and driven form the airport their to Volterra it was almost dark, so we didn’t have to worry about the sun giving us away with any of the human residents around.
Edward, who had driven from the Florence airport, parked down a small side street close to the town’s centre where the narrow passageway that housed the entrance to the volturi was. We hadn’t stolen a car like I had with Alice the last time; instead, we had hired a Mercedes much similar to Carlisle’s.
“Lets do this,” Edward said softly, his hand already opening the car door.
A wave of anticipation came over me, though it was filled with the same nerves and anxiety that I had pushed aside earlier when we were first leaving Bear Creek. I suspected that Edward was experiencing his own set of similar feelings. Coming to see the volturi didn’t guarantee us any answers or information in regards to dealing with Desiree and her family, it just seemed like the best place to start looking.
I got out of the car too, and walked towards Edward who was now standing a little way from it waiting for me – I realised that I must have been stalling a bit, letting my feelings get the better of me. “Vampire not human,” I said in my head – a last minute plea with my brain to focus on the more important task at hand, seeking some helpful information!
I moved to where Edward was waiting. Unexpectedly, he grabbed my hand, pulling my body into his. He smoothly moved his free hand up towards the back of my head and pulled me in to kiss him. His kiss was hard, and somewhat forceful – it emanated a certain passion that instantly gave me the control I had just lost. The kiss had worked like a strong drug and I felt like the invincible vampire I was again. I kissed him back with this re-found confidence, trying to express to him just how positively his affect was on me; he was my rock.
Edward was the first to pull away and we stared at each other for a brief moment. I noticed that he had a similar look of confidence in his eyes to how I felt that I was feeling. Without speaking to one another, as we didn’t need words to express ourselves, we walked with our re-found confidence to the dark, narrow passageway just off from the town centre where the volturi would be – its emptiness highlighted the fact that I had Edward with me this time, as the last time my fate, loosing him, was in my hands only.
The lift in the passageway had been strategically placed away from any of the limited fluorescent lights, making it hard for most humans to even notice that it existed. When the doors finally opened I was surprised to see that it was empty; I had expected that someone like Jane or Felix would be waiting to greet us, to figure out what we were doing here before disturbing Aro – I was sure that they knew we were here though.
Edward and I walked together down the short passageway, which opened up to the main reception area – the “front” for the volturi, which simply looked like any other flash businesses entrance.
“How can I help you?” someone asked in a slightly suspicious tone as we walked into the room. I looked ahead to where the person had spoken from, a young man, who looked like he was in his mid twenties, sat behind the expensive mahogany desk eyeing us over. I was a little surprised to see that the receptionist had changed from the last time I was in this room – though in hindsight this should have been expected; and they were probably not the first replacement after the one I’d met last time either. He most likely had the same desire as other receptionists employed by the volturi - to be turned.
“We’re here to see Aro,” Edward replied. The expression on the man’s face changed, becoming slightly confused. I guessed that he had been trying to figure us out; because of our honey coloured eyes we look nothing like your average vampire but definitely more than human.
“Ah, well,” he was clearly nervous as he spoke, not quite sure what to make of us, “ah, why don’t you take a seat and I will let him know your h– “
He stopped what he was saying suddenly and clutched his head. He was clearly suffering from some form of intense pain.
“Well well, what’s this?” a high-pitched, young girls voice cut in – I didn’t even have to look at her to know that the voice, and the cause of the receptionists pain, belonged to Jane. Her voice always seemed to catch me off guard. It sounded as though she was a young and innocent child, but at the same time, carried an unusual tone of confidence and arrogance – something that could only come with age and life experience. “We haven’t seen you two in a while,” she added.
“We need to speak with Aro,” Edward replied, his tone sounding to-the-point and somewhat cold – he didn’t have much respect for her.
“He’s, entertaining some guests at the moment, but he shouldn’t be too long,” she put emphasis on the words entertaining and guests, and given the playful smirk she was bearing I could only assume that he was feeding. Whilst I had never tasted human blood before, and had no desire to, the temptation and constant burning in the back of my throat was still always there and would never go away – this feeling almost vanished when I thought about the volturi’s eating habits however; they didn’t kill a random person in the wrong place at the wrong time, but large groups of people all at once.
“Follow me,” she added after the short pause.
We left the reception area following Jane down the large passageway that lead to the same, formally styled meeting hall where I had first met Aro and the other two volturi leaders, Marcus and Caius. When we reached the centre of the room Jane stopped and turned to face Edward and I.
“Wait here,” she said in a cold, professional manner, “Aro won’t be a mo–” she paused for a split second, and I could hear that someone was about to walk into the room; Aro I guessed. “A moment,” she continued quickly with a slight smirk on her face that showed her clear adoration for him, then turned away from us and began to leave the room. When she was about a meter away from her exit we saw him.
“Well hello,” Aro said loudly. He sounded somewhat excited to see us, but at the same time a little unsure or hesitant – this was most likely due to the fact that the last time we had seen each other he had been planning on killing us!
“What brings us the pleasure of your company,” he continued.
I glanced at Edward as I assumed that he would be the one to answer, being a little more familiar with him than I.
“Well,” he started, “firstly its not what your thinking.” I assumed that Aro was thinking something along the lines of seeking revenge – which would of course been completely justifiable from our perspective. “We’ve came to seek any information you may have on witches,” he added.
Aro’s reaction was one that I hadn’t expected as he appeared to be speechless!
“We sort of have one as our neighbour in Seaward,” I said, trying to prompt him out of the somewhat stunned moment he was having.
“I, ah –” he said, still sounding confused, “this is unexpected! I haven’t seen one in over, two thousand years! Are you sure – ah, may I?” He was now gesturing to Edwards’s hand. Aro had a similar gift to Edward, in that he could read minds, however, only one at a time and only through physical touch.
Edward reached out his hand for Aro to embrace and I watched as he placed both of his onto Edward’s, closing his eyes to concentrate on the images that he would no-doubt be getting. I noticed that I was holding my breath in anticipation like I had the last time I was here, when I was still human.
“Fascinating,” Aro said after a short moment, seeming somewhat bewildered; “she’s very cunning!”
“Who is?” A sharp, authoritative voice cut in; when I looked to where it had came from, the same doorway that Aro had appeared in, I saw that it was Caius.
“Caius,” Aro said, “Edward and Bella have come to seek our advice about a witch, and from what Edward has just shown me she seems rather talented.” His voice contained his usual playful element, though he still seemed bewildered by the news we brought – I always found that Aro was hard to read unless Edward was giving a running commentary, constantly playing the poker face.
Caius’s expression turned from stern and serious, to annoyed and a little frustrated. He looked directly at Edward and I now, addressing us for the first time since he had walked into the room; “like the real ware wolves,” he said, emphasising the fact that we had almost crossed the boundaries of the vampire law that they enforced without exception; “we got rid of most of the witches a few thousand years ago; and haven’t came across one since.”
“Are they immortal?” I asked. I knew that my question wasn’t exactly the most important one to be asking first off, but when he mentioned the word thousand I couldn’t help but immediately think of Desiree – I knew that we were underestimating her abilities.
“No, but they do live a lot longer than humans,” he replied, “we destroyed the main bloodlines.”
“So how do we kill her?” Edward asked.
“Well that can be tricky,” Aro answered, looking over to Caius, “considering she’s been creating other creatures.” Caius was one of the stricter leaders of the Volturi, and quite ruthless when it came to other species that could threaten the vampire race – like the real moon-turning wolves and vampire babies that had almost been the cause of Renesmee and the rest of us being killed.
“Yes,” Caius said. Something in his voice had changed, and though it was highly unlikely, I couldn’t help but think it might have been a hint of fear coming through. “Perhaps we should continue this elsewhere,” he added, speaking directly to Aro.
I looked at Edward, knowing that he would already know exactly what Caius was not saying – his face was reassuring when he looked back, but I was still left as the only one not knowing, which made me a little more anxious.
Aro nodded at Caius in agreement, then turned to face Edward and I; “after you,” he said politely, gesturing for us to follow Caius who was already leaving the room. I hadn’t been to any other parts of the volturi property apart from the reception area and the large meeting room we were in, but I assumed that it was far larger considering the amount of vampires that were a direct part of the ruling coven. The hallway was a lot narrower than the one between the entranceway and the meeting hall, but had the same stone walls. We followed Caius down a flight of stairs and then to the end of another rather long hallway. The room appeared to be someone’s office or study. It was a large room, with grand, highly lacquered dark-brown furniture. The room was lit by a large chandelier – although it had been clearly dimmed creating a more comforting atmosphere. In front of a wall completely lined with books were a couple of sofas, which we moved towards.
“Have you ever wondered where vampires originated from Bella?” Caius asked after brief moment once we had sat down – due to Edwards’s abilities I was the only one who needed verbal filling in here.
“Ah, no,” I replied feeling surprised with myself that this notion hadn’t occurred before. I had thought about it when I was human, as had most others considering the amount of varying answers there were on offer. But where vampires had originated from hadn’t even crossed my mind once; I was just happy knowing that I would be able to love Edward and Renesmee forever.
“Most vampires believe that we began as a result of a disease that affected the genetic make-up of the body,” Caius explained, “and they are right; but what they don’t know is that a witch was behind it!”
I wanted to look at Edward, and to try read any possible feelings he had about this, but changed my mind as I quickly remembered that he would have already processed any surprise. In that brief moment that I continued to look at Caius, waiting for him to continue, it all hit me at once. Desiree had created Savannah and Eric, the venevores, just like another witch had created the first vampire. It also confirmed that she would clearly be stronger than us, which sent lightening bolts of defeat through my body.
“Just over two thousand years ago we killed the last of the known witch bloodlines that were around with the help of a witch named Jewdica. The most effective way to kill a witch is for another witch to drain enough of their power so that a vampire can successfully wrench a dagger through their heart, which is the source of their magic. The heart is the only way to go about killing a witch, but only when their magic is weakened enough as the power that the heart possesses is greater than a thousand vampires,” he continued in detail. “It was Jewdica’s ancestor, his bloodline, who had created the first vampire. The last few generations of his family had been slowly killing off other witches in order to protect the growing vampire race and essentially gain total control and dominance over all three races, human, witch and vampire.”
What Caius had said was a lot to take in all at once and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fully accept this for at least a few more hours. My predominant thought was with the reason that Edward and I had came to the volturi in the first place – to ensure the protection of our family. “So, where is Jewdica?” I asked Caius, hoping that he or someone else from his bloodline would be able to help us deal with Desiree. I assumed that as we had moved to a more private room that the reality of witches in our world was a well-kept secret, and one known only by leaders such as the Caius, Aro and Marcus, possibly the Romanians too.
“Jewdica reached the point where he had almost gained total control, with only one other bloodline left to kill. This particular bloodline however had created an unexpected weapon – ware wolves!” Caius explained, his clear hate towards ware wolves showing in his voice, “as we took the hearts of the last bloodline two wolves came from nowhere and attacked Jewdica and the other members from his bloodline, who were all vulnerable and wakened themselves from fighting. This resulted in the end of both bloodlines. We managed to gather ourselves and take down the two wolves, but they weren’t the only ones of their kind – the ware wolves had spread fast but we have since been able to hunt most of them.”
The feeling of defeat that was running through my body before had subsided a little, making way for one of numbness and insignificance. I felt small and weak all of a sudden – I was still a new vampire, so was Edward in comparison too, and he had ninety years on me! I thought about what Caius had said, trying to process what I could. I wondered whether his hate towards ware wolves, his near death experience, had started from this battle.
“So how should we deal with Desiree?” Edward asked, speaking for the first time and bringing my busy thoughts to a head. “She needs be killed! She could destroy all vampires.”
“We need another witch!” I exclaimed, stating the obvious as I came to the realisation that she could very well be the only one!
“What we need is a way of killing her without having a witch by our side!” Aro said after a moment of silence, his voice sounding oddly enthused. He was looking at Caius, clearly referring to another secretive aspect of the whole situation. I looked over to Edward as I remembered that he would have known exactly what Aro was thinking - the look on his face as he stared at him was a mixture of bewilderment, surprise and hope.
Copyright © to Jonathan Cameron 2011
Copyright © to Jonathan Cameron 2011