Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Fear. These are the four core human emotions. But perhaps the most motivating of the four is fear. It drives men to start wars, end relationships, or turn around and go back right when they're on the brink of discovering something great. Above all the others, fear cannot be ignored. Whether it's fear of the dark, of spiders, of failure, humans use many different ways to deal with them. One can deny them and hope they'll go away. For instance, freezing in place until a spider has crawled back into its hole, or closing one's eyes while standing on a bridge to give themselves the illusion they are safe on the ground and not hundreds of feet in the air. One can turn to a higher power for guidance. The Bible encourages people to pray whenever they are afraid, and put their trust in God to protect them. One can also choose the more difficult route and face their fears head on, conquering them, overcoming them. They may choose to remember, in the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Everyone is afraid of something, and often, the stronger one seems on the outside, the more fears they have on the inside. Indeed, even a vampire is afraid of something. More than likely, they'll never have to confront those fears. But, every now and then—when they least expect it—their fears will crash upon them like a crate of apples that's been pushed out of a plane and is hurtling toward the ground. Once the crate hits the ground, it will break open and the apples inside will be turned to mush. When a vampire confronts his fears, his soul will be trapped in a never-ending loop of torture, his mind breaking open and all that he ever was turning to mush until he overcomes that fear.
Aro clapped his hands together once, a huge, gleeful grin spread across his face.
"Oh, the Cullens! How wonderful it is of you to join us here!" He carefully the surveyed the group before him. "But where is your dear wife, Carlisle? And Bella and Edward? Their precious child? Surely, you didn't leave them behind in Forks." He feigned disappointment at the absence of so many from the North American coven.
Carlisle's voice was firm, but honest as he took on the natural leadership role of answering the question on behalf of his family.
"They're at the hotel. Your invitation wasn't specific as to whom you wished to see. It simply said myself and whatever various members of my family that could attend. It did not say if you meant the entire family, or just the members who I chose to accompany me."
"I see I shall have to remind my next invitation writer to be more specific when she prepares a greeting for me. Sadly, the current one will become tonight's meal." Aro shot each of the five Cullens a meaningful glance, daring one of them to speak in defense of the poor girl who wrote the postcard to Carlisle. Just when it looked like Rosalie would be the one to step forward, Alice placed a hand of warning on her shoulder, forcing the tall blonde to stay in place. "No doubt your little Alice foresaw that my only real purpose in inviting you here was to wish you well and discuss how the new additions to your family fair. I assume you took that to mean this visit would not be of such a serious nature as to apply a strict interpretation to your postcard. But that is no matter now. You see, I am truly concerned for your family's wellbeing, my old friend. Are you still as determined as always to enjoy this life the same way you would as if you were human? Never taking advantage of all the benefits open to you as a higher being? What I mean to say is: have you yet decided to stop your foolhardy quest of living among humans and acting like them? You really should abandon that endeavor in favor of living like the superior species you are."
"We are perfectly content and even happy with our lives the way they are now, Aro. We continue to fair well. Thank you for your concern." The kind doctor dare not voice his suspicion that Aro was up to something not so innocent.
"That is good to hear. I have made a few new additions to the Volturi guard in the months since we last spoke. Look around. I dare you to recognize and name more than just a few of those in attendance."
"I had noticed some new faces." Carlisle confirmed, but did not elaborate, choosing not to play into what he suspected was some kind of sinister game.
"Yes, and some of them have very unique abilities that in all my years, I have never seen before. Oliver!" Aro gestured for one particular gentleman to step forward. Alice gasped quietly as a sudden vision hit her, causing Jasper to grip her hand slightly tighter. "Oliver comes to us from across the pond, and he's quickly becoming invaluable in his role here."
"Thank you, my King. London was my home once." Oliver clarified his origins as if one wouldn't be able to tell from his thick English accent. "In London, you're either employed by Her Majesty's service or you're unemployed. I was indeed part of Her Majesty's Secret Service, tasked with locating, exposing, interrogating, and eliminating spies against the Queen. I was very good at my job. Proper interrogation centers around the exploitation of another's fears." As he spoke, he started to walk in a slow circle around the Cullens. Now, he stopped in front of Jasper, meeting the Major's eyes with a silent challenge. "I suspect that you've used this technique yourself, though, not as effectively as I may have. I could diagnose and abuse fears faster than anyone else in my unit, perhaps faster than anyone else in the entirety of Her Majesty's Secret Service. I suppose my human intuition on fears followed me into this life. Otherwise, I would never be able to do what I do. Vampire fears are far more intense than ordinary human fears. And far more likely to cause them to break than any other imaginable torture. If King Aro will allow me, I would be happy to demonstrate." He looked over his five choices like a vulture seeking out the freshest meat to feast upon.
"By all means, yes, please!" Aro gestured happily to his guests, giving Oliver permission to choose one on whom to demonstrate his ability.
Oliver grinned like he had just been handed the keys to unlock every blood bank in the city and gave Aro a bow before turning back to the Cullens, circling each of them once more before stopping in front of Emmett.
"You are a rather large bloke, aren't you? But the bigger they are, the more concentrated their fears seem to be. It's not difficult to locate fears once you know exactly where to look. And… there, I found one." He laughed maniacally, "I simply pluck it forward…" Oliver used his thumb and first finger to mime picking something out of the air, and the moment he jerked his hand upward, Emmett crashed to the floor with a groan of pain.
Rosalie dropped to her knees next to him. "Emmett! Em, come on, wake up, it's me! Emmett, can you hear me? What did you do to him!?" She fiercely demanded of Oliver, letting out a menacing growl and moving into an attack position. She would have followed through, too, if Alice, Jasper, and Carlisle weren't all working to hold her back.