Ye Who Enter Here
I promise this is all going to blow up soon. Lucifer has a strategy, but we're going to have to wait and see if it's going to work for him!
I've been writing on and off for a few months and I took some time out to write a one shot to clean the palate for these stories. I'm going to be posting Emmett pretty soon after this chapter, so I hope that everyone who is waiting on that story can be patient a little longer. Although, if you're a fan of either of these stories you learned patience long ago.
Thank you to my beta Cullenista! She's got the mad skillz! : ) See? Skills with a z! That gives her super secret beta abilities! She also has an incredible story "Blue Moon Over Manka's" with lots of love, and characterization, and angst-y goodness. Love on her.
I don't own Twilight still… but after all these chapters I kinda' feel like I'm one with them.
Edward pulled me to my feet when I was ready to move, but he refused to let go of me just yet. I took comfort in his presence, and borrowed strength from the deep looks of love that shone in his eyes whenever they met mine.
I couldn't help but feel absolutely lost in my love for Edward at the moment. I couldn't be anything less… not after seeing the depths of his sacrifice. He had done so much for me. He would have forced himself to live in hellish entropy just for the sake of my human happiness.
Edward seemed like he wanted to talk, but at the same time knew that it would be impossible until all of this was ended. Truthfully I had a lot I wanted to say to him at the moment as well. When this was over… and we were safe and free again… well, it didn't matter right now. Right now we needed to focus on the fight.
Carlisle looked into my face. "Are you going to be alright to continue? Is there anything we can do?"
"I'm fine, I think," I answered Carlisle as best I could. We had no way to gauge if I was healthy. No life signs to take. I looked up at my husband, and he held me impossibly closer. I imagined that he would be thinking along the same lines.
We started forward almost as if we were one moving body. My family and I. There was a part of me that understood now that this is how it was meant to be. Fate stated that I was made to be part of this family. I was the other half of Edward's soul… Carlisle and Esme's daughter; sister to Jasper, Alice, Rosalie, and Emmett. I was a Cullen from the moment I was born into this world, and I'd only been marking time on the planet until they'd entered my life.
This was my destiny. This was who I was. The girl that had been Bella Swan might as well have been born on their doorstep.
Esme would have loved that.
Edward's hand was in my own and I squeezed lightly. I was afraid to talk about this revelation yet in case we lost. He would torment himself unnecessarily. We wouldn't lose now though. I couldn't imagine it.
"We need to find him again." Lillith seemed disappointed with the thought of seeking out the monster, especially when he'd been so quick to out himself before. Now… who was he? How do we even begin to look? There were so many!
"Where do we look? Will he be the same?" Emmett's thoughts mirrored my own questions.
"He has already suffered a defeat. He'll look to draw power from someone who is lost. He will look for corruption. Evil. He'll try to latch onto that and gain strength," David bit out. He seemed to be concentrating very hard now. "I don't see him yet, but that doesn't mean he's gone. We'll most likely find him quickly once the shield falls.
"Is Lana weakening?" Esme seemed concerned and looked beyond me to the woman herself. Never worried for herself, always for the circumstances of others.
"Not at all, but we must face our destiny, in all things," Akira looked deeply into his mate's eyes and spoke again, "Lana must let the shield fall if we are ever to meet it."
We stood to the front of the shield now, the wolves loping forward at intervals to our sides. Cain would, without thinking it seemed, touch the fur of the albino wolf. He was ready to say the word that would release the fighters from their vicious battle. If I had adrenaline it would have been shooting through me. If I had a beating heart it would be thundering. As it was, I could taste the tension in the stale air around me.
"I love you…" Edward started to speak.
"I know," I interrupted. "Tell me when this is over. Tell me everything when this is done."
"I will," his whisper was a sweet promise. His lips… to God's ear, or so I hoped with everything I had.
"Drop it," Lillith commanded.
"STOP!" Cain roared. "Be free!" There was silence for all of a second and then there were shaking heads and murmurs of confusion. A few vampires continued their feral rending.
I could feel the riot of power all around me. I calmed my mind and tried to let serenity drown the insistent pull of my catalogue.
"My Children of the Night, pure evil is here amongst us. True darkness, the kind that causes even the sweetest of purity to wither and die if given the opportunity… has taken root in the world. You were all brought here to fight that darkness… or fight for it. Give up now, those of you that have given into the madness, in the name of God.
"We will not judge you. We will not kill you. He has given you free will, and you can decide now to fight for Lucifer, and lose the rest of your soul, or to gain back your freedom and live as we were meant to. God will grant you peace. I will grant you only death if you meet me on this field today, and any promises that Lucifer has made you will be met in the fiery pits of Hell," Lillith concluded with a snarl.
It all sounded a little dramatic to me, almost like I was reading some kind of outlandish religious horror book. How could this really happen? How could this be real? It seemed a little strange for me to question this reality though considering that I was a blood drinking, power stealing vampire now.
"There is no one here that will answer your call Lillith." A voice that I recognized at once as Jane's rose above the confusion. Edward absolutely snarled with rage next to me and I held his now completely tense body against my own. I understood that it was my newborn strength that kept him from any drastic action.
Jane continued to speak in a taunting tone, "We have been promised more than peace… we have been promised power. My Alec and I have been promised to rule this world. You will not keep me from that. No one will keep me from my destiny."
"Yes little one." I heard a familiar voice confirm. It was the reedy voice of one of the Volturi, Marcus. "You have been promised much. Now come and take it. I give it to you willingly, if you come to me."
Jane contested, "You would never give up that which you take so much delight in. You love your power… even though it isn't real, even though you are just a figure head for these gentle creatures from Nod."
"You are misjudging them little Jane. They are not gentle… and they bring with them a power that you can't possibly understand," Caius said with deep caution in his voice.
"Yes, they bring swords of fire, and shields of light. The righteous wrath of God is at their side. You'll never be allowed to leave this place if you continue, sweet Jane." Aro's voice sounded quiet and reedy as well. Somehow… less like him. "Where is Alec, Jane? When was the last time you saw him?"
"He gathered the forces that I will use to kill you. He is on his way," Jane argued… and a path cleared between her and the masters of the Volturi.
"No… you will never see him again. He is already gone. I killed him myself," Marcus taunted as he walked forward.
This was news to me. When had he had time to run off and kill Alec?
Aro seemed to walk unnaturally forward then, like a puppet on strings. "There is no reason for all of us to fight here today. You may still back down. You may still live," Aro cautioned.
When the other two brothers walked forward in an unnatural way a horrible realization began to dawn on me, but I didn't get the opportunity to voice it with Jane's terrible growl resounding over everything, followed by more of her angry words.
"To live forever as your servant, Aro? No more will we live in the shadows of the world, in the darkness of the sewers, in the cloak of darkness. There is no God, no Devil, but there is supremacy. I think I'll take my chances with Lucifer. He's a million times more powerful than you and your empty justice," Jane snarled.
It seemed as if she were becoming angry and frustrated. I realized then that she was trying to access her power… I could feel it flaring and testing and shooting. It didn't touch any of the Volturi lords. It was as if she were aiming at nothing.
Caius held up a small roll of paper, and for some reason that indistinct item made me want to run. I'd never felt fear weave through every part of my body in such a thorough licking flame. Jane immediately fell to her knees and stopped trying to harm them. "Your fate is sealed. We no longer require your feeble services."
"We have finally come to the end of the game. You have failed to impress me," Marcus took over speaking as if Caius were part of him.
The three Volturi lords spontaneously looked away from Jane as Marcus spoke and like one of those magicians with flash paper the little roll burst into flames. At the same time, Jane did as well.
There was nothing that they did that all three princes didn't do and a horrible realization began to dawn on me.
"NO! MASTER! I WAS LOYAL! I BUILT YOU AN ARMY!" Jane cried out as the flames engulfed her body. She writhed toward the Volturi with open arms "PLEASE, NO!"
I heard a hiss from behind me. David spoke quietly afterward, confirming my worst fear, "I have found him, my lady."
Edward quickly joined in with a roar of his own, although I wasn't sure if it was because he'd been denied his own revenge, or if it was because of David's epiphany.
I stared in open mouthed shock. This was not what I had been expecting at all. I would never have seen this coming. Marcus, Caius, and Aro were no longer our allies. How would we ever be able to defeat them? How had they been taken over by that monster? They were three people! What would those who were loyal to the Volturi do now?
What would the others do? Those who had pledged themselves to Jane and Alec? I understood now… Marcus had not killed Alec. It was Andrew. He had done exactly as one would think the devil would do. He was filling them with doubt for their chosen masters. There were some that would lose their faith in Jane and Alec's dream but continue to fight against the Volturi. The rest would cleave back to their old masters.
Of course, this is what he wanted. Lucifer was going to confuse them. There were those here who believed that their masters were good and wise. Perhaps they would be confused into fighting for the wrong side. They were used to following the edicts of their leaders… would they take orders from the vampires from Nod? I wasn't entirely certain.
The Volturi princes were many things… but they weren't truly evil. Mostly… at least… not until now. They didn't have to keep me alive for Edward when Jane brought me to them. They didn't have to spare our lives before when Edward had come to them to kill himself. They could have just as easily killed him the instant he had asked.
"This is unexpected," Cain spoke with concern. "Not to mention ill timed."
"How will we ever win against both of them? There are those with unswerving loyalty… they are not evil Lillith. It would never be fair for them to be condemned without understanding the consequences," David voiced my own concerns.
"If we try to control them… they may rebel against us," Priya spoke with a sigh. "They have never known us."
"This is our fault… we have stayed away for too long. Priya is right, they do not know us. They do not have a reason to believe us. We will have to find a way to convince their hearts of our intentions," Lillith whispered.
"How will you do that?" Carlisle asked with honest concern. "We stand with wolves against those who would believe them to be our mortal enemies. They will have no reason to think you more trustworthy than those they have followed for centuries."
"Bella, can you keep an ability locked without being overwhelmed?" Jasper asked me with a quiet fierceness.
"I can try," I answered. "What do you need me to do?"
"I see, yes Jasper that will give us an advantage," Edward interrupted.
Everyone looked at my husband with annoyance.
"Jasper?" Carlisle prompted.
"Bella needs to keep the powers from the Volturi princes. These are invaluable skills, an asset to us, but one heck of a hindrance if left on their side," my tactical brother explained.
"I agree," Lillith concurred. "Bella, can you do it?"
"I'll do my best," I replied with conviction. The concentration was coming easier every time. I picked them out easily… old and strong. I could touch anyone around me and know their every thought. I was able to see the strands of connection shimmering from person to person. It was really distracting. Especially the beautiful threads that entwined my family and the silver sparkling cable that connected me to Edward.
Aro and Marcus snarled at me and Edward crouched down in protection and I imagined that the look he gave them was vicious, threatening.
Lillith put her hand on my shoulder and we both quickly found out there was a tear in my sleeve. I reeled. It was too much, too many thoughts. I knew that touching ancients was a bad idea, Aro had been hard to handle, but some of her mind was almost alien. We both pulled away and I couldn't help crying out.
The second after it happened I knew a lot of things all at once but there were three that I was distinctly sure of. Firstly, I was now certain that Lillith was exactly what she said. Secondly, there was a chance, and I didn't know how great it was, that we would fail. It was an eventuality that they had prepared for. They had said their goodbyes. Lastly, I learned the plan that had brought us here… and now I knew how much they were depending on our family to save everyone.
My wife cried out sharply and I turned in time to see Lillith pull away from Bella. I reached out to her to find out what had happened and I watched as Bella literally yanked herself back from me, and felt the sting of rejection.
Bella shook her head at me and said, "Don't!"
"What's wrong?" Emmett looked for an immediate threat. "Did someone hit you?"
"No… I just want to give Edward the opportunity to tell me things the old fashioned way," Bella explained.
I could have smacked my forehead for all of the stupidity that I felt. She was like Aro now. Able to see every thought I'd ever had. She wanted some secrets left between us to share.
"Isn't there anything we can do?" Rosalie gasped over my shoulder, "This is insane. Before there were a few hundred other vampires on our side, but you can't expect us to fight all of them! We're all going to die!"
"Yes. It will be glorious," Cain snarled.
"I'm not going out there and neither is Emmett. Come on, let's go," Rosalie held out her hand to her husband.
Emmett shook his head sadly and spoke with remorse, "I'm sorry Rose. I can't leave now. This isn't about fighting. I know you think it is for me, but it isn't. I love you, and that's why I'm staying. I'm fighting for us, for this. Our family needs us now more than ever. I know you're scared, but guys like that feed on fear and doubt. Let it go now and let's do this for each other."
"That's really touching… now if anyone would like to look at what's in front of them…" David and the rest of the vampires from Nod had taken on a fierce stance next to the wolves who were also crouched and ready to spring.
I read the frenzy of the minds around me. There was uncertainty, and confusion in the Volturi. I looked over at Bella and questioned, "How potent are their ties to each other? Can we convince them?"
"Some are very weak… some are stronger. What are we going to do?" My wife looked above my head to Jasper and Cain.
Jacob's mind answered her, 'Time to bust some skulls people. I don't want any of you to die out there. If you think you are… take as many of them with you as you can. Embry, Quill, I want you to keep an eye out for the Cullen and Nod covens. Make sure we can see them all the time. If any of them go down I want to know about it. Leah… if I die you take over and fight like the demon I know you are.'
Leah laughed with a flashing of her enormous teeth, but said nothing for once.
For a second Jacob's mind flashed to the albino wolf next to him and I saw a glimpse of stark white meeting light brown. He was remembering the exact feel of her skin and the brush of her lips. The entire pack seemed to look over at him all at once. Jacob's voice was quiet, 'I'm sorry, but if you've got something you want to mull over, I think this might be the time to do it, you may not get another chance.'
He was right. What if I had already experienced the last touch and not savored it as I should? What if she died and left me here alone? Or, what if it were one of my family members that were lost? What if they were to perish? I looked at them all as we heard the Volturi begin to grumble confusedly.
I looked at My Bella again at the thought, the fear churning in a way that was reminiscent of the description that she herself had given me recently of nausea. I had never known fear until I'd met Bella… true fear, or true anger, or true love. She was the one who unlocked my very soul. I knew it now with everything that I was. My wife was the embodiment of my life essence.
Every aspect of her was beautiful as she stood looking out over our hopeless situation. Her hair plastered with rain, her face creased with concentration. Her body, which I'd not had enough time yet to worship.
My wife had an eldritch and innocent exquisiteness that sang to my very long dormant heart, and made me into something better than I was. I may have been a fiend when we'd first met, but she had rescued me from the depths of my own monstrous prison.
Every inch of her beautiful form was burned into my perfect memory, but it wasn't enough. I wanted my hands on her. I wanted the opportunity to shower her in love and give her as much of myself as I could. We had waited to give ourselves physically to each other at my suggestion and then her insistence, but it simply hadn't been enough time yet.
So, I would have to defend her with everything that I was. I could never lose her now. There was a part of me that was certain that if she ceased to exist I would simply die. We were an extension of each other's salvation. I would defend them all as best I could, but she would be my priority… my most precious of commodities. My love, my life, my everything from the moment she stood downwind and her blood sang for me.
"My friends…" Aro called in an authoritative but whispy voice that wasn't his own disrupting my thoughts and bringing me back to myself. "We are gathered here to dispatch evil. It is as the fair Lillith has said. Unfortunately, there are those amongst us that would endanger our world. They live with the intent to make humans their slaves. We will not allow all of our peace to be lost to their foolishness.
"No one can be trusted," Aro continued. "We cannot know who is our enemy and who is not. To wait now would be prudent. To wait and sort out the righteous from the evil would be the correct course of action."
"What trickery is this?" Cain muttered with a look of confusion.
"Edward?" Carlisle asked me with an equally confused look. 'Can you hear them son?'
I listened intently for the tenor of their minds and failed to find Caius, Marcus, or Aro amidst the sea of babble. I concentrated and focused stretching my mind to seek the voices I knew to be theirs but heard nothing. I couldn't seem to read them, no matter what I did.
I grit my teeth and tried again, surprised when Esme came to rub gently at my back. I tried harder and finally I reached them, but it was scattered and unfocused. I had once told Bella that minds could be like radios, if that was the case it was like getting reception at the bottom of a ravine… but at least they were still FM.
I shook my head and raised my shoulders in a shrug before answering, "I don't know Carlisle. They aren't really easy to read right now, and I'm getting the impression that Caius, Marcus, and Aro aren't actually in control of themselves at all."
"Their connection is different… The first time I saw it they were connected, but it was comfortable and natural. Now they have this strange jarring other form standing over them. I look at them and see him too," Bella announced to the group.
Jasper stepped forward and spoke with a sense of authority, "Why wouldn't they do this? Why wouldn't Lucifer just wander back to Volterra now that the city is ostensibly his? Is there a reason that he hasn't tried to just take them before?"
The two Russians looked to each other and smiled almost venomously and began speaking. I translated to Bella and anyone else who didn't speak the language, "Volterra is a holy city. It is watched over by God, and therefore was unapproachable by Lucifer. In a vessel he is capable, but they must be strong to get past the various holy relics. Only the brothers are strong enough and have enough knowledge of the secrets to be useful. With them in his command the city is lost if we let them leave here."
"It was never an option," Lillith growled. "The brothers seldom leave Volterra for a reason. We must come up with a strategy." She looked between Cain and my brother Jasper.
Alice took that moment to gasp as she saw a horrible vision. I watched as pyres of flame dotted the landscape; scraps and body parts burning horribly everywhere around us, friends and foes alike. As her vision broadened I noticed the ravaged corpses of wolves and there at the feet of the brothers was my poor family destroyed as I had never imagined. Torn and shattered. Only two lay still and perfect, myself and Bella. Eyes devoid of life, she held me against her, and somehow I knew that despite being in one piece, I was dead too.
Alice's eyes met mine and I growled low. Her voice shook as she began to speak, "Edward…"
"Don't!" I warned. "We don't know what is real and what isn't. Don't put stock in anything you see Alice."
"What did she see Edward?" Esme demanded. "Alice? What did you see?"
"Alice!" I warned.
"We die. We all die. That's what I see. That's all I can see. Every avenue, every decision we make leads down the same path. I've never seen such horror. I've never had to see all of you dead so many times in so many ways. We're going to fail unless the path we are on changes dramatically," Alice's voice faltered and died.
"Again… a strategy!" Lillith demanded.
"Bella? Is there anyone out there that can warp perception? Someone who can make people see things?" Jasper demanded.
I watched her silently as she seemed to search. She looked troubled and confused. I wanted to hold her and was angry that I could not. I could reach out with my voice though, and the more she struggled the more I realized that it would have to do. "Bella, I'm here with you."
She smiled up at me and seemed to concentrate again before she spoke, "Yes, but it's extremely limited. She has to touch them to convey her mind. It's not going to work for us."
"Can you expand on abilities?" Carlisle questioned. "Is there a way to heighten…"
We immediately all looked to Akira.
"Perfect!" Jasper crowed. "Now, we can take Marcus' ability and show them that the ties of their masters are false! Take both abilities and use them together with Akira backing you up!"
There were less dead people wandering around in Alice's vision, or more dead people wandering around, if you will. We weren't yet amongst the living, but I could have a little hope.