"I have to say," he started. "I am rather surprised this is as far as your journey has taken you."
"Demetri," Alec said. He wasn't sure if he should be surprised at the unexpected visit or be relieved he had someone to make sense of the situation with. "I wasn't expecting you to come. Do they have such little faith in my abilities?"
"Rest assured you're place in our ranks is still intact," Demetri assured him. "Though we know how Aro is when the situation involves Jane. Can't blame him for sending someone with a bit more…experience finding someone."
"No, I cannot say that I could," Alec sighed. "I assume you tracked Jane and not me?"
"You would be correct," Demetri told him. "This is where the trace ends, but where is she? Have you seen her or heard from her?"
"No," Alec admitted. "I'm afraid this is where I came to a standstill. It's as though her scent completely disappears here. There's no sign of it picking up anywhere else."
"I wouldn't be so sure," Demetri answered. "On my way over here, I picked up on her scent in the woods. It was very faint, as though masked by something unfamiliar."
"I didn't pick up on anything," Alec looked down, frustrated with himself. He should have been able to track his sister. Not Demetri.
"Of course you didn't," Demetri smirked. "Don't be so hard on yourself. Tracking isn't your forte."
"The scent was strongest here," Alec pressed. "But then it stops."
"Yes, I'm aware," Demetri answered. "However, I fail to see what she found so important that she stopped here. Of all places."
"Maybe she found something," Alec pondered aloud. "Maybe whatever Aro was looking for was here and she found it."
"Orders were to kill on sight," Demetri told him. "If that were the case, why has she suddenly disappeared?"
"We don't even know what he's truly after," Alec reasoned. "I've heard mention of some sort of hybrid. Could it be powerful enough to kill Jane?"
"Such a silly question," Demetri scoffed. "Of course not. No one can defeat Jane of all vampires."
"Yet she is missing," Alec pressed. "We can't pick up on her scent anywhere but in this location. Explain that."
"It is odd," Demetri admitted. "I would not jump to such rash solutions over something we know could not be."
"How do you know? We don't even know what this thing—if it's even real—is capable of." Alec continued. "Why else would Aro want it dead rather than get it on our side?"
"You have a point," Demetri conceded. "I'll give you that."
"We need to report to Aro. Tell him of our findings and suspicions." Alec decided, ready to turn around and head back to the Volturi to give a full report.
"No," Demetri said.
"Our orders were clear," Alec told him. "We must give a full report."
"And we shall," Demetri assured him. "We have a week and a half left before he stops waiting and comes here himself. We take the week, stay in this location and see what it is that caught Jane's attention."
"That's it? We just wait a week?" Alec asked.
"Then we give our report," Demetri told him, as though it was the most obvious fact in the world.
"So we stay here, and wait." Alec repeated to himself. "What exactly are you looking for?"
"Jane's scent led us to this location," Demetri explained. "Something must have led her here. You said so yourself. We shall wait here and look for anything suspicious."
"I'm not liking this Demetri," Alec told him. "We need to find her. Staying in one place will not help us find my sister."
"But it may lead us to something bigger," Demetri answered.
"I'm not sure about this," Alec said, doubtfully.
"Then run along and report your findings," Demetri ordered. "Show Aro and the rest of the guard what a coward you could be."
"I'm not a coward!" Alec exclaimed.
"We shall see won't we," Demetri knew how to manipulate anyone. It may not have been his specialty, but he was convinced staying would be in both their interests. He wasn't Jane; able to torture someone into staying like she had multiple times in the past. All he had was the ability to find Alec's weak point and turn it against himself.
"Yes, we shall," Alec crossed his arms, ready to prove himself to be just as good as everyone else on the guard. He earned his place. He wouldn't be made to feel a fool. He turned his attention to his original scenery, to what he was thinking about before Demetri had made his presence known. He still didn't understand what could have brought Jane to choose to come here, to this specific location. A high school. Forks High School, to be exact. So there they stood, watching as mindless, yet tasteful mortals wondered the school grounds, naïve to what really goes on around them.
From the looks of it, the school day had not started. Everyone was just arriving. Both Demetri and Alec would be hungry soon. Watching the humans mingle caused their minds to wonder, trying to choose who would be the easiest target among them. It was then, the picked up on an unexpected scent. A scent that was all too familiar to their kind. And what stood at even more so, was that there were multiple scents. Vampire scents.
"You smell that?" Demetri asked, simply for clarification.
"Vampires," Alec answered, not understanding why there would be multiple scents coming from the location of the high school.
"Potential risk for exposure, perhaps," Demetri thought aloud.
"It is possible," Alec told him.
"If that is the case," Demetri started. "Then our time here will not be wasted." They focused on where the scent was coming from…the Volvo that had just pulled into the lot and parked. They watched as five vampires exited the parked car and made their way inside the building. The scene in front of them confound them. They were determined to confront these vampires.
"Their eyes are a peculiar color," Alec noted.
"No matter," Demetri answered. "We need to make sure there is no risk of exposure. We keep track of them while they remain in this location. Then we follow them wherever it is they are going and confront them. If there is risk of exposure, Aro will want us to exterminate the risk."
-ONE DAY EARLIER—
Alec had traveled through most of Washington on his search for his sister. This town, Forks, that he just entered seemed dreary though what surprised him most was the evident smell of vampires he detected as he moved closer and closer to the High School. Instead of following Jane's scent, he was momentarily deterred; curious where these vampires were hiding.
He stayed behind in the woods, curious as to what these vampires were doing in the house. What caught him even more by surprise that the original scent her followed had disappeared just before the house. Yet as he zeroed in, looking through the large glass windows he saw not five vampires but fifteen. They appeared to be from different parts of the world.
He listened carefully, trying to learn the purpose of so many vampires meeting in one location. He was unsuccessful. He couldn't hear a word they said. Never once, in all the years of him being a vampire had any conversation been mute to him. He dared get a closer look.
He watched, carefully, making sure he was undetected. But the moment he came near the barrier, something flew him back.
Aro would definitely want to hear about these findings. Somehow he needed to send word to Aro, for if he returned empty handed,there was no telling what Aro would do to him.
He had just about come up with his plan of action when an unexpected need to leave the place and forget what he had witnessed came over him.. He had the urge to go about his previous plans.
That's just what he did. He left the Cullen property, completely forgetting that he was there. Forgetting all the vampires he had seen. Forgetting that he could not hear them and forgetting the fact that no scent was present the closer he reached the house.
-4 DAYS EARLIER—
Over a week had passed since the Denali clan arrived at the Cullen household. Since Bella revealed her secret to the family and since they agreed to stand by and fight. Tanya, however, had been a difficult member to deal with. Every opportunity that presented itself to attach herself to Edward, she would take it. Only to deal with the consequences afterward; Bella's specialty as Emmett referred to it. It became a treat to see the showdown between the two women. Three days after their arrival, the Amazon Coven and the Irish coven arrived. They were welcomed easily. After all, Bella had no reason to keep them out after they so willingly left everything behind to come help Carlisle. They didn't need any explanations at first. They were willing to help with whatever was needed.
Currently, eleven vampires had joined the Cullens in their stand against the Volturi. While all were willing to stand by and fight, the thought of how they could take up the Volturi had crossed everyones' mind. Thankfully, with the arrival of so many vampires to assist in the battle, Bella had more vampires willing to help her perfect expanding her shield. It had officially been mastered. Through all the craziness, she felt confident they could win the battle.
The big reveal of Bella's prophecy and her abilities took many by surprise. Her abilities were never doubted though it helped when she demonstrated once more for each coven that made an appearance. Tanya always kept her distance during these times; she'd never admit it aloud but she was afraid of what Bella was capable of. Especially knowing what Bella was destined to do. That didn't mean she wasn't after Edward though.
Her training in battle had yet to be started. Edward was hesitant of teaching her and while he felt she had very strong, natural instinct, he didn't feel comfortable being the one to teach her. Today, she was ready to try to convince him to help her fight. She'd provoke him, if need be. She made her way out of her cottage and headed toward the house. Edward had left earlier in the morning. There was still the issue of where certain covens were able to hunt, considering not all lived by the vegetarian diet. While the Covens were confident in remaining by their side to fight, their urges were starting to take over. The wolves remained close by to ensure no one slipped. Otherwise, the deal was off.
"I still don't see why you are resisting," Bella heard Tanya giggle as she approached the backyard of the Cullen home. She could see, very clearly, from where she stood as Tanya attempted to make herself appear more sexy and seductive, brushing the tips of her fingers up and down Edward's forearm. Bella could see how uncomfortable Edward was with her advances, especially since he could see exactly what fantasies she had in her mind involving the two of them. Bella could see them too, and they made her sick to her stomach. She decided to see just how far Tanya would take this, so she stood where she was, waiting.
"Tanya, I've explained this to you countless times since your arrival," Edward sighed as he removed her hand away from his arms. He took three steps back, hoping to finally make a breakthrough with her. "Bella is my mate. Your attempt to lure me away from the woman I am madly in love with is futile. This may work on mortals you like to seduce, but really, give me a little credit." He walked away, shaking his head in disproval. Everyone openly accepted Bella as part of the family. There was no reason for Tanya to continue to be so difficult.
"Edward," Tanya seethed, angry that he denied her yet again. "Don't walk away from me! I wasn't done talking to you!" Stop it this instant!
"You must really be a masochist," Bella laughed as she approached the two. Edward instantly opened his arms to welcome Bella into his embrace. They hadn't been separated long; not since Edward relocated himself into Bella cottage permanently. There really was no reason to go back and forth, not when majority of his time was spent with Bella in her cottage. "You are aware he basically implied you're a whore, right?"
"I am no such thing!" Tanya crossed her arms, insulted.
"Perhaps not," Bella agreed. "But can you deny you use your charm on any innocent man, knowing he cannot resist a succubus?"
"I use what I was given," Tanya conceded. "Nothing wrong with that…"
"Except that it makes it hard to believe you genuinely care for one person when you are busy jumping from one mortal to the next," Bella pointed out. That still doesn't make me a whore so stop calling me that!…Tanya directed towards Bella.
"Of course not, Tammy," Bella smiled. "I would never call you such a name."
"It's Tanya!" she screeched. "It's not a difficult name to remember. So say it right!"
"How silly of me," Bella giggled. You really want her over me, Edward? She can't even remember a simple name..what an idiot…
"Tanya, I won't warn you again," Edward growl, his resolve weakening. She wanted a reaction out of him. Both Edward and Bella could hear it in her mind. Bella placed her hand on Edward's chest, instantly calming him.
"Edward, don't" Bella shook her head before looking at Tanya. "It concerns me how little you know for someone who's been around for such a long time. I know your name. I could say it correctly, but really…I feel no need to respect you when you disrespect me and my mate continuously since you arrived here. I truly feel sorry for you. If you need help getting over him…let me know, I have just the thing." Bella winked at her.
"I don't need to get over anyone!" Tanya retorted. "Tanya never has difficulty moving on."
"Yet you love referring to yourself in the third person," Bella smirked. "You see Edward's happy. I know this must be new for you…having someone out of your reach but let it go. You're only embarrassing yourself. You'll find your mate one day Tanya."
"Who said I wanted to have a mate?" Tanya crossed her arms.
"Give me a little credit," Bella smiled. "We need to get going, we're practicing today with everyone if you want to join us. I don't want anyone being left unprotected and not knowing what to expect."
"Why would you even care about protecting me? You hate me," Tanya said, surprised.
"I don't hate you," Bella answered. "You simply do not try to get in between two people who are mated. You know better than that."
"Come on," Edward told them both. "We need to get started. Everyone's curious to see how far the shield will extend." I don't understand why you were so nice to her love, she doesn't deserve your kindness…
Bella expanded her shield instantly, opening her mind to Edward. It was a natural thing for her now. Everyone deserves a second chance Edward…He smiled in response. He didn't know it was possible to love her even more than he already had, but he was just proven wrong.
"Finally, we've been waiting for you guys to get here!" Rosalie exclaimed, walking over to Edward and Bella.
"You guys took too long," Emmett complained. "Zafrina all but started without you. I like my eye-sight…so can you work your voo-doo so we can move on?"
"Would you rather Kate zapped you instead?" Carmen joked from where she stood with Eleazar and Irina.
"On second thought…" Emmett quickly said. "Blind me…I'm not up for being electrocuted today, thanks."
Bella…I'm interested in having a bit of fun with that friend Emmett of yours…wait for my signal, then expand your shield and cover him… Zafrina directed towards Bella. Zafrina hid in her thoughts what plans she had in store for Emmett. Nothing too harmful; she just wanted to toy with him. Emmett noticed the silent interaction going on between Bella and Zafrina. He instantly put his hands up in surrender.
"Now, I'm not sure what you guys are planning," he started. "But don't go using me as your play thing…" No one answered him though. Instead, Zafrina focused her attention on Emmett and Emmett alone.
Suddenly, a glazed look was seen on Emmett's face and then he stared in front of him with lust-filled eyes. To everyone around him, the sudden boner he was now sporting was unexpected. No one knew what was going on. Bella and Edward suddenly did.
Within an instant, his pants were torn off, along with his shirt. His hands went in front of him as though caressing something that wasn't really there.
"You like that baby?" he said, sounding seductive. "I'm going to make you feel so good…" Everyone watched in shock at what he was doing. They all looked at Zafrina, understanding she was doing something to him.
"What the hell is he doing!?" Rosalie exclaimed as she noticed him reach for his cock.
"Zafrina…"Bella warned, not wanting the scene to play out. She definitely did not need to see this side of Emmett. Why not let it play out…"This is too far and not something we need to witness." Bella focused on Emmett and extended her shield to protect him from Zafrina's power. She knew it worked when he shook his hand and started rubbing at his eyes as though he was unsure of what was real and what wasn't. He looked around him, then down at where his hand was.
"Rosie, what the hell?" he exclaimed. "You don't just get me all worked up like that and not deliver!"
"Emmett," Bella giggled. "Rosalie has been standing over by Carlisle this whole time." She tried to tell him, hoping he'd realize what just happened.
"So none of that was real?" he asked, getting angry.
"No, it most definitely was not real," Edward tried stifling his own laugh.
"You made me see all that…"Emmett realized, looking straight at Zafrina.
"I did, and Bella shielded you to keep my power from working," she told him. "I just thought you'd like to see for yourself that blinding you is not the only thing I am capable of."
"Emmett, no offense of anything, but could you go put some clothes on?" Bella asked, looking away. He looked down once again, realizing he was standing in only his boxers. He didn't care.
"I'm pretty comfortable," he said as he went over and put his arm around Rosalie's shoulder.
"Go put clothes on," Rosalie told him, taking his hand off her shoulder.
"Ugh, fine," he was gone and back within a second.
"Let's get started, shall we?" Carlisle suggested, stepping forward. "If everyone would line up please. Zafrina…" he let her take over as he went over to join the others.
"Don't be alarmed when you lose your sight," Zafrina told them. "As Bella extends her shield, raise your hand when you get your vision back. We need to see how many she can shield at once. Once we have that, we can begin training."
"Everyone ready?" Bella asked. She looked nervously at Edward, hating to have him part of this. He gave her a reassuring smile.
The glazed look in everyone's eyes told Bella Zafrina had used her ability. It was no up to her to see if she could get everyone covered. She started with the first person closest to her—Edward—and expanded her shield to cover him. When she saw the shield expand and take him under its protection gracefully, she moved on to Alice, then Jasper…all the way down until Amun and Benjamin were covered. Zafrina stood amazed as each person raised their hands to indicate their vision had been restored.
"Amazing," Carlisle said, stepping forward. "How do you feel?"
"I feel great," Bella smiled at him. "I feel like if I needed to, I could cover more people under the shield."
"Anyone want to try again?" Emmett asked. "I volunteer as a test subject…" He smirked. Rosalie smacked him against the head, sauntering off inside the house.
-THREE DAYS LATER—
Bella stayed in the cottage later than originally planned as she looked through her book for what she needed, what she planned on doing if everything worked out. Her plans intended to help every vampire existing.
When she finally emerged, she took her time going over to the house and stopped short when an odd sense overcame her. Something wasn't right…something was out of place. She looked down, noticing her amulet glowing red. Danger. She followed in the direction, watching as the closer she got the brighter red it glowed. She made it all the way to the wood until from where she stood, she noticed a figure dressed in a royal cloak.
Why do their scents just disappear?
What reason do they have for staging such a meeting?
Aro will want to hear of this…
Bella picked up on his thoughts. He hadn't noticed her, much to her relief. She needed to stall…put him back on his path before he realized vampires were in the area. She could kill him now, but she couldn't use her power to will things to happen without the risk of it taking over. She needed training. She may have been able to fight Tanya, but to effectively kill a vampire without magic…she wanted instruction to get it right.
Her solution was to erase from his mind what he just found…she had just the spell for it, too.
As the Moon wanes and dawn arises,
so must the secret be forgotten,
Earth, Air , Water and Fire, Spirits aid,
this is my desire
She stood off to the side as she finished the spell and watched as a faint smoke circled his mind until it disappeared and he straightened his posture.
Must find Jane…Aro needs me to find her…
He set off once again, completely forgetting what he just witnessed.
"Bella, where have you been?" Edward asked, hugging her close to him.
"Dealing with an unwanted visitor," she answered.
"Another vampire in the area?" Eleazar asked.
"I think it was Alec," Bella told them.
"From the guard…"Alice realized. "He knows…"
"No, we're all safe and no longer under his radar," Bella assured everyone. "I took care of that without being seen."
"This means they're closing in right?" Tanya asked, finally trying to be more part of the planning.
"I've been watching for Aro's decisions," Alice told everyone. "He's sent Demetri out to track for Jane."
"So now it's not only Alec, but Demetri as well?" Bella asked, frustrated.
"Yes, Alec is already here, but I didn't know when he'd be making an appearance." Alice answered. "My visions are cloudy when you're involved and it seems with the wolves as well. So I don't know when they will strike or where."
"We need to be more careful," Bella decided. "If they come here, there's a high chance of them tracking your scent to this location. I'm lucky to have been away from all of you and picked up on his presence."
"I thought your shield kept our scent and their ability to pass impossible," Irina added.
"That's right," Bella assured everyone. "But do you honestly think they won't get suspicious when they suddenly lose your scent? Or when they notice all the vampires within one residence? That's exactly what happened just now with Alec. We need to be better prepared for a fight. I don't know how to kill a vampire without using my magic and that's something I can't do. Spells are not meant to kill. We don't want the fight to start before we're all prepared."
"She's right," Jasper said. "We need to be fully prepared. Buying as much time as possible is essential."
"My presence here has to be limited," Bella told them. "I'll stay around the perimeter by the cottage and only come and train when it is completely safe. Everyone else is to stay here, under the protection of the barrier. If they come here and you're not under the barrier, they'll be able to use their magic against you."
"I'll be with Bella," Edward spoke up, sensing her plans did not include him.
"No," Bella said. "We have to be treed carefully. We can't have them following your scent to the cottage as well. It's too suspicious. Stick to normal routines, as well. If we can find them and follow their patterns, we could beat them at whatever it is they're planning next."
"How do you even know they'll be making an appearance again soon?" Rosalie asked.
"I had a timeline," Bella told her. "You all know this. Alec was expected after two and a half weeks. Based on that, tomorrow is the last day. Now that we know Demetri is with him, we all need to be extra careful."
"What about the rest of the guard?" Cameron asked. "How will they know to come here?"
"When Demetri and Alec don't return, they'll get suspicious," Bella reasoned.
"I have a better idea," said an unknown voice on the other side of the barrier. Everyone turned to see two vampires who they did not invite, but who had already figured out they could not pass through the barrier.
"Who are you?" Bella asked. Bella heard the wolves closing in on the distance. They had been given all the numbers of who to expect. They agreed any uninvited vampires on the territory would be free game.
"Forgive me," the strange vampire spoke. "My name is Vladimir and this is Stefan. We heard about your gathering and plan to fight the Volturi. We would like to join you…"It is our time to rule…
"I don't think so," Bella said, crossing her arms.
"The more you have to fight beside you," Vladimir reasoned. "The better, wouldn't you say?"
"Your motive for fighting is to gain the power of the throne for yourselves," Bella told them. "Sorry to disappoint, but it is not yours to claim, nor can either of you be trusted with that type of power."
"What makes you so sure of this?" Stefan asked. Clearly these vampires weren't aware of Bella or her capabilities And while these vampires were against the Volturi, they could not be trusted to walk away.
"The color of your eyes for instance," Bella pointed out. She already made it clear to every coven who agreed to fight what her plans would be once she stepped in to fulfill her destiny. No humans would be harmed. Vampires would survive on a strict animal diet and she had been working on just the way to make such an adjustment tolerable for all. But these plans were being saved for another time.
"You hunt for sport," Edward stepped in. "Your intentions as rulers, while considerably just compared to the abuse of power the Volturi has committed for years, are not the future of our kind. You cannot be trusted."
"We're sorry you wasted your time coming here," Bella told him. "And we're sorry for what is about to happen."
"What is about to happen?" Stefan reiterated. "Are you aware of the word that's spread about your gathering? The Volturi has your family on its radar…it won't be long until the bring the battle to you."
"That's what we're hoping for," Jasper smirked.
Unexpectedly, two wolves emerged from behind Stefan and Vladimir, ripping the two vampires to shreds. Jacob appeared in his human from behind the two wolves to explain to those vampires who stood in shock.
An introduction had already been made between the wolves and the visiting vampires. The wolves may not have been happy with the situation, but they were happy to have a fight. And a full cooperation is just what Bella hoped for.
"Bella," Jacob smirked as he stepped through the barrier. Looking good, as always…
"Watch yourself, dog," Edward growled at Jacob's thoughts.
"Afraid of a little competition?" Jacob sneered, but was bumped by Sam who was in his wolf form. He had been warned what would happen if he continued with his idiocy. "Fine, fine…we're here on business as you can see. You were warned what would happen if unwelcome, unknown vampires crossed the land."
"You had excellent timing," Alice told them. "They were unwanted and you did us a favor by eliminating the potential threat."
"Can we get back to figuring out our next move?" Tanya asked, annoyed.
"They said it themselves, word is spreading about what's going on here," Jasper told them. "The Volturi will want to come investigate themselves."
"I'll keep watching for his decision," Alice told them.
"In the mean time, stick to your routines," Bella told them.
"Meaning?" Rosalie asked.
"You all go back to school tomorrow," Bella told them, as though it was obvious. "Everyone else will practice in the mean time and come up with a plan of attack."
"What about you?" Edward asked.
"I have a feeling our friends will be making an appearance," Bella told him. "Call it instinct, I don't care. But I can't be seen with you if they're there watching."
"I don't like this plan," Edward told her.
"I'll be fine," Bella assured him. "I won't get anywhere near them if they're there."
"And if they are?" Jasper asked. "You're unwilling to use certain gifts and we haven't practiced strategy with you yet.."
"That's where the wolves come in," Bella smirked and turned to face the wolves and ultimately ignoring Jacob. "If you are able, could you possibly have three wolves guarding the school grounds? If they're there…don't make a move until I give the signal. They can use their magic against you unless I shield you from them."
"We'll be there," Jacob told her.
A/N: Sorry for the delay in the update…but I hope the chapter was worth the wait and was eventful…updates are always appreciated! **** has been modified since original posting****