Apologia, or, raison d'être.
I had the pleasure of reading Eowyn77's story "Fair Game" (and you should have that pleasure, too), and it got me to thinking of the Cullen's extended family, the Denali Coven. Here is a gathering of vampires who have lived much longer than Carlisle and have come, on their own, to a decision to abstain from human blood, and have been abstaining for the last two hundred years … that is, longer than any other vampire other than Carlisle.
Oh, and three of them are succubæ.
Oh, and other vampires have joined with their coven, following their choice.
Now, isn't that a much more rich, much more interesting story to tell than the Cullens and Hale and Whitlock and … ? Well, hanywey. Some of you may argue that there's enough source material in the Cullen family, thank you very much … some of you are correct, but I took a fancy to the Denali Coven, thanks to the deft attention that Eowyn77 paid it (and she has the gall to call Tanya her Mary Sue! Mary Sue? With her writing Tanya wasn't Mary Sue, she was, well, Tanya!)
But how to tell their story? A thousand years of it? That's quite a bit of work, now, isn't it? Yes, it is. So, instead of telling their story, I'll ask them to tell it. So, this isn't really a story at all, but a series of loosely connected Chautauqua using Wallace Stevens' poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." Why use this poem? Well, that will come out in the telling. Oh, and read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Firstly because it's required reading, and secondly, you'll learn (many things, but also, particularly) what a Chautauqua is.
The first story that came to me was: what was Kate thinking as she made her play for Edward. This would be in verse IV. The next story that came to me was why Irina was so cool: so cold and distant. That is verse I.
So, this is how this works. Each chapter heading will be the particular verse of Wallace Steven's poem followed by the narrative of the character sharing her story. Since I've got chapter four done first, the first three chapters will be place-holders until the stories of those chapters tell themselves to me. I envisioned this as a yarn spun only by Kate, but perhaps each chapter will be told by a member of the Denali coven and their "guests"?
Oh, this story is rated "T" for a reason. It is not lemony in nature, but it does cover mature material (but what a teen can handle these days, I believe), particularly it covers what it is to be or to encounter a vampire or succubus, as a human, ... or as a vampire. Some of the imagery invoked in these chautauqua will be compelling, but not particularly, erhm, life-affirming.
Along with the influence of "Fair Game," this story includes, with permission, characters from runaway-xo's universe ("Alaska" and "Lilly and Lucas"), two youngster: Lilly (whom I have transferred into Kate's guardianship ... oh, she's a vampire) and Lucas (a.k.a. "lunch," but Lilly was already abstaining for 200 years. Not that meant much: the Volturi sometimes are not the best listeners when you're rattling off your food preferences).
So, this story is AU in that regard, but it's further AU in that it flows along the line of my story "My Sister Rosalie" (MSR). I say this not to require reading MSR as a prerequisite, but to inform you, my dear reader, that some tangents of conversation when followed may end up in foreign territory, so if you say to yourself: "Hey, I thought Lady Didyme was destroyed!" then you would think correctly with respect to the plot of the canon, but in MSR she makes a "reappearance." Like I said, there are tangential differences to the canon; they are deliberate.
Speaking of questions of canon, I employ a concept of succubæ that seems to be in some consensus here in fandom, and also hinted at in "Fair Game," and that is that succubæ are naturally more powerful than vampires. One such power is that of adeur that I obtained from various sources via the story "Pomme de Sange" by destileotie. That story and "Our New Life" by KrysCullen on twilighted-dot-net gave me some back story to work with on the mechanics (powers and how they work) for succubæ, and I am indebted to these stories for providing me this information.
And, as is my wont in my apologiæ, I find I must also offer an apology on top of my explanation. geophf is all about the double entendre, isn't he? 13 Ways, in essence, really isn't a story, per se. It's more of a meditative work. It looks at a character in each verse, following the theme of the verse in "Blackbirds." In this light, things such as plot or have the character explain every concept on which they reflect goes against the grain of this work. You may, perhaps, consider this work as poetical, or, perhaps, epigrammatic. So, reading this, it's best not so much to think, "Oh, what's going on? What does she mean by that?" The important thing is to feel what the character is feeling, to see what they see. When you do that and let go inconsequentials — such as "understanding" — do you assume the mind of the character speaking a little better?
In other words, do you feel, in verse I, Irina's arrogance and her boredom, and when these changes interrupt her narcissistic nihilistic ennui, do you feel the pique? Feel the character and be the character: that is what this "story" is about.
When you do reach this state of in alter whomever, you can take that identity back with you when you reread the books. "Oh!" you'll now say, "that's why Irina went to the Volturi!" Or: "That's what it's like to lead a coven of succubæ with your mother destroyed. Poor Tanya, always being looked to for all the answer with no one to lean on herself; no wonder she wanted Edward!" And so on for each of the characters represented here. If you do that, I consider this work a success.
So, without further ado, I present thirteen ways of looking at the Denali coven. There are many more ways to look at them than just thirteen with much more than three thousand years of shared existence to draw from, but this is a start. Perhaps this set of chautauqua will lead you to your own discoveries of this coven?
Chapter 1 "Apologia": This chapter. Explains the raison d'être and influences of this story.
Chapter 2 "I. Snowy Mountains — Irina": Among twenty snowy mountains Irina, the Yuki-Onna (雪女) sits, coldly waiting for dinner, and contemplates what love truly is.
Chapter 3 "II. Three Minds — Eleazar": Tanya, Irina, Kate. Three entirely different minds, but inextricably linked. Just like my old masters, the three crows (三羽烏): Lords Aro, Caius, and Marcus. Would my new coven replace the seat of power that the Volturi had held for 3000 years?
Chapter 4 "III. Autumn Pantomime — Tanya": We all pantomime something, don't we? Lilly and Lucas pretend to be normal high school students on their first day of school this cool Autumn day. While, I, dropping them off, pantomime being the leader of the Denali coven, as I have for the past 450 years.
Chapter 5 "IV. A Man and a Woman are One — Kate": Tanya made her play for him, but he didn't need an intellectual sparring partner. Irina made her play for him, but he didn't need an "FB" (寝しいくん). So now it's my turn. I know what he needs me to be, and Edward, Mommy's coming for you now.
Chapter 6 "V. Whistling or Just After — Vasilii": Mommy. Love you. Play with me?
WARNING! This chapter contains very strongly implied depictions of maternal loss.
WARNING! This chapter contains very strongly implied impressions of the "innocence" of an immortal child.
Chapter 7 "VI. Icicles — Garrett": I'm an easy going, adventurous bloke in the midst of a den of gorgeous, Slovakian female predators. Succubae. A bloody dream come true, right? Yeah…well…not so much.