And so we come to the end. I enjoyed the ride. Please click to follow me if you enjoyed the story as another will be starting in a few weeks. Please remember that this has no beta…so each and every mistake is my own... I hope there aren't too many.
13 years later
Time had flown, almost literally passing in the blink of an eye, with how busy things were at the Castle in Volterra. Meetings of the vampire government occurred monthly, making for a busy and eventful calendar for all involved. The trips back and forth brought constant news of what was happening, newborn uprisings, mysterious deaths of humans, civil wars between covens…they all kept the law enforcement very busy.
Emmett had joined with a few others as part of a squad that went worldwide to investigate crime scenes. One particular vampire on that crew, James, was very helpful and gifted. James could track almost anything or anyone, his skill helped solve crimes and get the crime squad's reputation for always getting their criminals get out there, and crime was lower than ever.
The newborn training program had required some adaptations as it grew. Jasper had set up teams that would go to locations in other countries, all over the world, to help newborns get set in their own environments and communities. Many newborns had no way to get to Volterra and needed guidance where they were. This made more sense than a panicked newborn vampire trying to relocated to a new and unknown location, which could add more stress to a new vampire. The Newborn teachers took their jobs very seriously, and had teams of dedicated workers who would fly out on a moment's notice to help, and to smooth out anything that might have caused disturbances to human kind.
Alice had taken over guiding the castle tours, her bubbly personality set the humans at ease, while her gift allowed her to see if there might be a possibility of anything going wrong, such as a newborn vampire having a tantrum or one of our guests having an unscheduled human snack. The tours took place twice a month and even provided revenue that would go towards resources for newborns to buy clothing and other needed personal items.
As the newborns learned control they could help out in many ways around Volterra. Some operated a website to advertise the castles heritage and history. There were on line merchandise sales that could be filled with souvenirs. Vampires who were able helped keep the castle in top repair, while even others tried their hands at skills such as indoor hydroponic gardening. One of our newborns was a man named Colin, who was able to make plants have growth spurts, and his skills ended up creating a source of fresh food that could be sold at market by anyone willing to work the stand.
The stand was designed to be weather proof, and always in the shade. People had to walk far into the covered stall area to see the wares, and it was built onto the side of the castle, on castle property, so there was no risk of getting stuck with a different stand. It became another source of revenue, available to anyone who worked the garden or the stand, earning the income.
The odd design of the stand was complimented in the summer heat, and enjoyed during rainy days, and the human customers seemed very content to talk gardening. Perhaps vampires seemed less intimidating when they talked about horticulture, either way it made us seem more normal, and gave us a way to blend in more in this community.
I had continued working with a small team to help vampires discover their gifts. It was always a trial and error. I listened for their mental connection to their magic… the small flare of wonder that connected a vampire to their skill, and Eleazar could feel a small flicker of their magic when they were working with whatever their skill connected with.
Sometimes the skills were very helpful, such the day we discovered a young female vampire whose magic was reacting around plastic, but showed no specific ability until she met her mate, a quiet man who was almost 200 years old, who finally came forward to ask for help to determine his skill. The two vampires met and once they saw each other, their souls touched. From that moment on whatever plastic they touched could be molded or mended together, but only when he was with her. Without him, her gift remained a dormant, his gift was connected to the plastic as well, but again without her, he could do nothing either. Their gift was dependant on their mate. A wonderful new revelation.
Some gifts however simply added humor or disbelief in their oddness, such as finding a vampire who could make rocket fireworks freeze, it was beautiful, but no matter how the chemical components were mixed and recreated in other formats, it only worked for the one firework…and only for a few seconds. We saw vampires who could make yarn knit itself, and another who could paint amazing works of art, but only with their eyes closed, needing to shut off their visual sense in order to be in touch with the paint they used.
There were powers that were for making rats sleep, or that made birds sing, powers that made human hallucinate when they had even a small amount of alcohol in their systems. The list went on and on, with a wide varieties, and with some more that were doubled among mates.
Perhaps one of the most helpful gifts was from a vampire named Brody, a century old vampire whose gift allowed him to change the eye color of others, only for a short time…an hour or so, but it was wonderful for those who wanted to blend in for a short walk in the village, or for those working the garden stand. Brody had found his mate in the newborn Colin, and was very content to stay by his mate's side. So much had changed in the role I had taken. I was really enjoying my job here, now that it was done with joy and willingness, it made me smile each time someone found their gift, no matter how powerful or minute.
The increased number of vampires present in one place led to many vampires finding mates, some who were days old, others who were centuries old. There had never been so many vampires crossing paths as there were now, and this added another bonus to our new system. Vampires began coming by just to socialize, to see who was new in the hopes of finding their soul's match. Many vampires came and went, for lessons or for help finding their power.
It was during an outing with Bella, working to provide some exposure to vampire trying to find their spark for their gift, that a second gift of Bella's was discovered. We knew that she had mythical blood in her veins and that it kept her from being fully vampire. The magic in both warred within her, making it so she was never fully one or the other. Bella slept, and ate, voraciously. She still never drank blood, but her skin was impervious to being damaged, but without the simmer that our skin have, she was like oil and water in a jar, always together, yet never fully integrated together.
What we did discover though, is that Bella could sense other magical creatures. In her earlier life, she had met a few, but it became apparent that her vampire side had brought out a new skill besides her ability to control things mentally and physically. While walking with me in a cobbled laneway as a bundled up person had passed the opposite way on a drizzly day. Bella had suddenly froze up, her eyes wide as she shivered. As the person continued to move on by, Bella turned and raced in their direction.
"Stop!" She yelled, only slowing once she reached the person's side.
The person didn't turn, but ceased walking. Standing still and rigid. I moved closer in case there was a threat. But the person's thoughts were frantic.
Why did she stop me? What does she know? Who is she? Could she tell?
"Look at me, please…" Bella plead, urging the person to turn.
The person stood stock still, unmoving. I could feel their fear in their thoughts. Then Bella did something I never anticipated.
"You're not alone. "Bella said softly, holding out her hand towards the alley ahead. Before her palm, they cobbled bricks lifted from the ground, just three of them, but they rotated lazily by whatever force Bella held over them. The dark form stood taller, even stepping backwards slightly.
What the hell is that! She can't be human, perhaps she is like me...
The person, lifted up gloved covered hands towards the hood covering their face, gently easing it back. A lovely woman stood there, her skin flawless, a warm brown with hint of blue.
"Are you Ciguapa?" The woman intoned, glancing down at Bella's feet, and peering with squinting eyes at her face.
"Not Ciguapa, but not human either. "Bella said with a soft smile as the bricks fluttered, like feathers, to the ground, settling once more into their muddy cradles.
"I could feel you, the moment you got close. I had to ask…to see." Bella said awkwardly.
"I am not full Ciguapa either." The woman said. "But enough that I have to live in the shadows of the world. I am far from my homeland, hoping to disappear, but these legs make it impossible." The woman said as she lifted a foot, and it was then we both noticed her feet faced the wrong way. "I wish I had your skill to hide what I really am…to be invisible in plain sight. Even the color of my skin might be explained as something else, but the feet make it impossible." She spat bitterly.
Without a thought, my Bella had hugged her.
"You're not the first non-human I have met, in fact my mate here is also not human." She said gesturing to me. "I think I can help you if you like…though it might hurt…you see my gift is to be able to change things…to control them. I might be able to turn your feet so they face the same way as humans….if that would make you happy. My name is Bella"
I did not need to hear her thoughts to see the hope on the young woman's face.
"My name is Jimena." She said, holding out her hand to Bella. "And I would love your help."
This meeting led to my love being in her element. Her kindness and desire to help others had her helping Jimena. She had helpers in the form of two other vampires. Taavi had the ability to distort reality, and Emily had a skill that worked like giving sedation. Together they peacefully put Jimena into an induced sleep, while she dreamed of pleasant things thanks to Taavi's skill, and Bella worked carefully on one foot than the other, turning them to face forward, mending joints and tissue as she worked.
Bella took time to work with her gift, shifting things slowly on the molecular level, the flesh and muscles, the bones and veins shifting like liquid, yet never breaking, even the bluish hue of Jimena's flesh was lightened until only a vampire would notice the color. Human eyes would not detect it. After it was done, my darling collapsed beside her patient and slept as well.
Jimena could not have been more ecstatic when she woke. She nearly knocked Bella over once she realized, it was only her needing to practice her balance that kept her from her goal.
It was the start. Word got around after Jimena left, making her way back into the world, and occasionally, from then on, magical beings would occasionally show up looking for Bella, the magic shifter. They came to blend in, to be hidden in the ever expanding human world. To have skin changed, eyes removed, feathers retracted and hooves shaped. These poor people were tired of hiding, always close to being discovered, yet never able to have a life outside of hiding.
Carlisle was ecstatic about having the chance to learn about new species, and it gave him something to record and study, to add to his knowledge of Bella kind. It was interesting to see that there were so many kinds of magical beings that still existed, not just vampires and shifters or were wolves. These other beings were trying to hide, or that were able to exist in plain sight, for not all of them needed help blending. In fact if it weren't for Bella's gift, we might not have even noticed that some of them were there at all.
With each alteration Bella would need a recovery phase, with intense sleep and a feast once she awoke. Her magical side needed to recover before it was possible to do it again. These people came to Volterra to find Bella, but occasionally Bella found one that was being kept as a pet, or a captive against their wills. She found those as we travelled on trips for some alone time away from the castle, and she freed them, feeling it was her duty to those like her. She had grown up free, and felt that everyone deserved that right.
With so much happening, the future looked bright and happy. With all of these amazing changes, in such a short span of our lives together, I could only imagine what a wonderful future we had in store.
Or is it?