STEFAN AND VLADIMIR
“Edward,” I said quietly. I knew that it was pointless trying to speak to him in a low voice with Aro and Caius in the same room, but I felt embarrassed that our visit was well in truly turning out to be riddled with moments where I was being kept out of the loop.
“Stefan and Vladimir?” he asked, sounding a little surprised as he continued to stare at Aro, ignoring that I had spoken.
Stefan and Vladimir are two very old vampires from Romania, and they were the law when it came to the vampire world before they were overthrown by the volturi fifteen hundred years ago. They were eager to come to our aid when we were almost killed by the volturi for having Renesmee, mostly because they still have a strong desire to get back at the volturi and re-gain their positions and power in the vampire world.
“What is it!?” I demanded, speaking louder now and to all three of them. I was really starting to get sick of being the last one to know anything here – was it really that hard to slow things down for a split second and verbalise?
“Ah, sorry Bella,” Edward said, reaching his hand out to hold mine. I held it firmly in hopes that he wouldn’t forget to include me again before discussing something.
I turned to face Aro and Caius, “well?” I asked.
“Bella,” Aro started, “killing your witch is only a small part of this, situation; we don’t know her strength, who her connections are or if she even has any. We need to plan our actions carefully as this has the potential to put our entire race at risk!”
This thought scared me a lot, not because of the fact that it could affect all vampires but because it meant that my family was in serious danger. I couldn’t bare to see anyone of them get hurt – and I knew that both Edward and I would want to die if Renesmee was killed.
“I think that you and Edward should go to Romania,” he continued, “and seek Stefan and Vladimir’s advice on this as they should know more than Caius and myself.”
I looked over to Edward to try and see what he thought about this – I knew that it was inevitable that we wouldn’t be able to seek all the help that we needed from the volturi, but I did get my hopes up when Aro had first said that he knew about witches; I naturally wanted a quicker fix.
“Aro suspects that the Romanians have a few secrets about the witches that only they know,” Edward said with a stern tone to his voice – clearly filling in the other thoughts that he felt I should have been aware of that were not voiced by Aro. “Hopefully, because of the fact that they helped us the last time we were in need, they can help us with Desiree as well as any other witches that stand in the way of vampire existence.”
I knew that Edward was highlighting to me that Aro couldn’t be fully trusted – he always seemed to be able to generate a separate agenda that benefited himself, especially if it concerned any potential threats to his power. The significance that witches play in our world shows how insignificant we really are in the scheme of things – vampires aren’t invincible!
“What kind of secrets?” I asked, a little suspiciously. At first I had directed my question to Edward, but then decided that Aro needed to realise that he couldn’t hide while Edward was here, so he should be answering for himself.
“Well,” he replied, bearing a large and somewhat nervous smile on his face, “I’m not sure exactly what they know, but I do know that they have been particularly close with witches before, more so than any of us.”
“Unfortunately it’s a win-win situation,” Edward said, answering my thoughts. I had no desire what-so-ever to get caught up with vampire politics and seek information that could strengthen Aro’s power status, but we needed to find out how to protect ourselves from the illusive danger that Desiree brought – I just hoped that Stefan and Vladimir would be of help! Its not like we’re potentially declaring war on the volturi again!
After making a few further arrangements with Aro and Caius, Edward and I left the volturi to seek Stefan and Vladimir’s advice in Romania. Aro sent Caius to look for any other witches that could help us in the potential case that we needed one to fight Desiree – he would have sent Marcus and gone himself too, but he didn’t want to risk any other members of the volturi getting suspicious; the fact that we had turned up out of the blue would have already created enough suspicion amongst the group as it was. Edward contacted Carlisle as we drove back to the airport to fill him in on what Aro and Caius had sheared with us, as well as our plans to visit the Romanians. Carlisle would have liked to join us, or at least meet with Caius to search for any other witches, but explained that Desiree seemed to be keeping a close eye on them as she had shown up at Carlisle’s work this morning to see a nurse – he decided to contact Stefan and Vladimir over the phone to forewarn them that we were coming and explain our situation. We had only met them the once when they came to stand up to the volturi with us six years ago, but they had mostly kept to themselves then – Carlisle had the most established relationship which we could only hope was enough for them to be fully open about any secrets that could prevent us from being able to defend ourselves against Desiree if it came to that.
We arrived in the capital city of Romania, Bucharest, and after hiring a car, drove for around an hour towards the city of Brasov. Stefan and Vladimir lived in the near by mountains and there was only so far that we were able to drive as they lived in an area that was uninhabitable to most humans – Carlisle had arranged for them to meet us at small lookout where we would leave the car and follow them through the mountains to their home.
“We’re here,” Edward announced as he pulled over into a small widening to the side of the narrow windy road that I assumed must have been the lookout. I knew it was stupid of me but I couldn’t help thinking that the lookout would have appeared more official or obvious.
“Are they here?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied, “Vladimir is waiting for us.”
We got out of the car, it was early morning so we still had the cover of night – though it wouldn’t have mattered if it was light as the area appeared that it did not see a lot of people.
I followed Edward as he jumped the small wire fence on the edge of the lookout in a single, graceful bound – we fell about ten meters before softly landing on the ground below. We were now surrounded by dense bush.
“Good morning,” a deep whispery voice said from behind us – his tone reminded me a lot of Aro’s.
I turned around simultaneously with Edward.
“Vladimir,” Edward said, acknowledging his greeting.
Vladimir was short and had a slight build. His hair was a light ash-blonde that almost looked grey, and he was wearing similar black clothes from the last time that we had seen him – simple and modern, but with elements of older designs. You could also tell that he was significantly older than many vampires too as his skin had a particular powdery look to it.
“Follow me,” Vladimir said quickly after a brief moment of eyeing the two of us over.
He turned slightly and started running down a gully. Edward and I followed closely behind. Seeing Vladimir move fast and gracefully, just like Edward or myself, sparked a moment of realisation – being young, beautiful and invincible for eternity wasn’t all a good thing, or a gift; it was a necessity, natural element that gave us the ability to survive – like a dear with it’s antlers. As time progressed new things would happen, things like Desiree appearing and being a threat to our family. I didn’t know how the volturi had overthrown the Romanian empire fifteen hundred years ago, and I was sure that Edward didn’t either, but what it showed me was that we would always need to be on our guard, fighting to keep our family alive and together!
We had been running along the floor of the gully for around five minutes when Vladimir took a sharp right and started running up-hill. We soon came away from the dense bush as we gained altitude, and the terrain underfoot became rockier.
“Not far now,” Edward murmured to me as we continued to climb. The steepness of the slope was slowly starting to level out.
Vladimir slowed as we reached the peak of the climb. As I looked around I wondered where we could be going. We were high up, and although the surrounding cloud would have diffused any humans, I could clearly see that there were no buildings near-by at all!
I didn’t want to ask Vladimir how much further as I thought it would make me look stupid; instead, I pushed my shield out to allow Edward into my thoughts.
A smile instantly swept across Edwards face as he felt my presence in his mind. Discreetly he made a subtle gesture with his head. The gesture was clearly directing towards something ahead of us, but I could not see anything expect empty terrain and forestation below. I thought that he might have been suggesting that it was in the next gully on the other side of the mountain as this was the direction we were heading, but if this were the case I didn’t understand why we had slowed down.
We followed as Vladimir lightly jumped off a flat, large boulder that stuck out of the mountain top, landing on a flatter surface a few meters below – we were heading down the other side of the mountain again, and I assumed that we would be resuming the same speed as before.
Edward grabbed my arm as I landed from the small jump, jerking me back as my body had already prepared itself for running forward. As I turned to face Edward and Vladimir, wondering why we had stopped, I instantly noticed that we were now standing in front of an opening in the side of a mountain – a cave.
“Welcome,” for a split second I thought that it was Vladimir speaking, but realized quickly that the voice had came from a slightly different position. I could see Stefan walking towards us from the dark cave opening, and I remembered noticing the similarity of their voices when we met in Fork last.
“Come in,” he added in a more serious tone when he reached the opening of the cave, “Carlisle has filled us in a little on why you are here, we have much to talk about.”
We followed as Stefan turned around and walked back inside the cave. Although the cave was pitch black, I could see far better than any human would have been able to, and I noticed that it was varying to the right slightly. After walking a few more meters, I noticed that we were heading towards what seemed to be the end of the cave. As my eyes continued to quickly adjust to the pitch-black surrounds, I realised that it wasn’t just a blank dead-end, but a rather an entranceway! The entranceway comprised of a large grand set of double doors made from stone that was covered in subtle, but intricate, carvings of people and elements of forestation.
“Wow,” I let out quietly as I took a moment to take it in. The attention to detail was exquisite, and I assumed that the images were from the times when Stefan and Vladimir were the leaders of the vampire world – the vines and forestation contrasted with the distinct civil depiction of the flawlessly beautiful figures, which were clearly vampire, made me realise that the doors would have easily been a few thousand years old. I was standing right in front of something great and historical, something that any archaeologist would go nuts over.
“Its Vladimir’s work,” Edward murmured to me quietly.
“Its beautiful,” I said, turning to face Vladimir who was standing behind. He smiled slightly and nodded his head a little in acknowledgment of my admiration.
Stefan moved towards the doors and pulled them open with ease – they were about thirty centimetres thick and made from stone, so would have been practically impossible for even the strongest human to pull open.
We followed as Stefan lead us down a relatively long corridor that was lined with a dim light every metre or so – the contrast between the ancient stone walls, which were lined with a continuation of Vladimir’s exquisite carving, and the modern dimmed lights intrigued me. It was possibly the greatest example of vampire history – a history that was continually being written as the original owners still lived there. The corridor stopped as it opened up to a large, grand sitting area. To our right was a wall that contained paintings in gold guilt frames, and straight ahead was an archway where the corridor continued and I assumed led to other rooms. To our left was the greater part of the room. The far wall was filled with the largest fireplace I had ever seen. It was about five meters wides and went up the full height of the room, which was about six or seven meters tall. The only carving on the stone walls was decorative design, not of anything in particular like the entranceway, and there was a mix of old and new furnishings. The room was dimly lit by modern, unobtrusive styled lights; as well as the light that came from fireplace. In front of the fire place were two modern, white leather sofas that looked dainty compared to the grand surrounds, which included the odd piece of ancient-furniture, such as side tables and cabinets which were also filled with various historical artefacts.
Stefan stood in front of us, facing us now, “please, take a seat,” he said, gesturing to the white sofas.
“So, the volturi have told you the truth about witches?” Vladimir said as we sat down, “our greatest secret.”
“Carlisle appears to have filled you in on what we already know,” Edward replied, clearly referring to his ability to read their minds; “we’re looking for any other information that you may see as useful in killing a witch if this is necessary.”
“Well,” Stefan said, “from what we have heard, killing your witch will be necessary – and you will need another witch to help you.”
“We haven’t seen one for over fifteen hundred years though,” Vladimir added.
“You can thank the volturi for that!” Stefan’s comment reminded me of how bitter the two Romanians were about being overthrown, and what they were like in Forks six years ago – so eager for a fight to break out with the volturi.
“How so?” I asked. Whilst I understood why they were bitter towards the volturi, I was under the impression that they would have been somewhat working together when they destroyed the remaining witches, “Aro said that ware wolves were the reason,” I added.
Stefan and Vladimir exchanged a look with each another and Stefan chuckled a little at this. “Aro is lying,” he said.
I looked at Edward; slightly annoyed that he hadn’t mentioned this part to me earlier.
“Its news to me too,” he said, looking back to Stefan and Vladimir to continue with an explanation.
“Well he wasn’t lying exactly,” Vladimir explained, “he just wasn’t telling you the truth.”
“What Aro forgot to mention was that Jewdica’s daughter, Natacha, had survived,” Stefan continued, “Vladimir and I were in charge of the vampire race then but we were ultimately responsible to Jewdica. We were loyal our witches bloodline; we honoured them as our creators, and they protected us as leaders. Natacha was the only witch in our, society, left and she was very weak after the fight. Aro saw this as an opportunity for himself and persuaded other vampire guards to turn on us and kill her. Vladimir was taking care of her at the time he and a group of others broke into her room, she was so weak from the fight that all Aro needed was for Vladimir to be distracted by fighting for a second so that he could plunge a dagger into her heart.”
I looked over to Edward to see if what Stefan was saying was true or not. The look in his eye when he looked back at me confirmed that Stefan was telling the truth – Aro had clearly locked away this aspect of the story in his thoughts. I didn’t know how I felt about being ruled by witches, my only experience of one was Desiree, and I wouldn’t want to be living under her authority. But I did feel sorry for Stefan and Vladimir as they were both clearly loyal to them – Aro’s rise to power wasn’t fair, he used a weakness for a personal gain.
“Thank you for shearing this with us,” Edward said, clearly sharing similar thoughts to my own.
There was a moment of silence before one of them spoke.
“So,” Stefan said, “to address the reason of your visit; to kill a witch, one as powerful as what Desiree sounds, you need to drain their energy and flow of power. The only way to do this is with another witch.”
Another moment of silence passed. “Where were we going to find another witch?” I thought to myself. Desiree was powerful, but Aro and Caius were genuinely shocked to hear about her; and they had made it clear that witches weren’t exactly floating around!
“Well, thank you anyway,” Edward said, breaking the silence. He had clearly heard in their minds that they could help no further.
I felt defeated. I really believed that they would have been able to give us more promising advice – and I felt disappointed in Aro too, betrayed even! Not for his dirty way of coming into power, but for giving us false hope – it seemed like he was using us as a way of making sure he would be able to hold onto his power; that the Romanians didn’t know something about witches that they could use to gain their power back.
Edward stood up and both Stefan and Vladimir followed his lead – to show us out I assumed. I stopped just as I was about to get up to – Edwards cell phone rang.
“Carlisle,” he said, in a slightly unsure tone.
Although my hearing gave me the ability to hear every word that Carlisle was saying, as if he were standing in the same room, only one word suck with me, one name – Renesmee.
Panic struck through my entire body as I realised that she was in danger. Carlisle was explaining the rest but I wasn’t listening anymore – Desiree had kidnapped her!
“Bella!” Edward said. He was off the phone now and standing in front of me with both hands on my shoulders trying to snap me out of my own thoughts.
“Bella!” he said again.
I looked at him but couldn’t find any words to say in response as my thoughts were moving to fast for me to process. I didn’t know what to do – I wanted to get back to Seward, to try and find Renesmee despite knowing that we didn’t have a chance if Desiree wanted to kill any of us; but I also couldn’t help feeling like Stefan and Vladimir should have been able to help more. I wanted them to have had some sort of answer that would give Edward and I the ability to kill Desiree. If Aro had been able to block certain thoughts from Edward then maybe he was able to block something else in relation to why he had sent us here –
I pondered on this last thought for a moment, and out of desperation I convinced myself that Aro hadn’t sent us here for nothing. I closed my eyes and focused my thoughts on finding the edges of my mental barricade so that I could share this with Edward. I found the edges of my shield with ease, but as I attempted to push it out towards him I felt that another force was pushing it back. This instantly reminded me of when I had used my shield to stop Desiree from hurting Edward – the power she was exerting over Edward felt the same as what was pushing back on my shield, only, this was far stronger. I continued for a brief moment longer, usuing as much mental force as I could to try and push it out, but it still wouldn’t budge.
I opened my eyes and stared at Edward who was still trying to snap me out of my trance.
“There’s magic here!” I blurted at him, realising the reality of this as I spoke.
He froze instantly after I spoke.
“I, ah,” I stuttered as I attempted to explain further, “I was trying to communicate with you, but, something was pushing it back, like, like what I’ve felt with Desiree, but much stronger.”
“You can feel it?” Vladimir asked, his voice sounding surprised. From the look on his face I could tell that he was in deep thought about something, questioning something. I watched as he exchanged a look with Stefan who I could tell knew exactly what Vladimir was thinking.
“What’s –” I started, but before I could ask them what was going on, Edward jumped at Vladimir.
“Liar!” he shouted, as he pushed him into the cabinet against the wall behind.
Stefan had now jumped into action and I watched as he ripped Edward away from Vladimir, throwing him into the adjacent wall where a large painting hung and broke as Edward’s body hit it. I jumped up from my seat and ran to stand between Edward, who was starting to pick himself up, and the two Romanian’s.
“Stop!” I shouted.
I looked at Edward to make sure that he was listening, and the anger in his eyes subsided a little.
All chapters are copyright © of Jonathan Cameron 2011