A/N - Here it is. Thank you so much for waiting so patiently. I apologize for this taking so long, but RL kicked my butt this month and this chapter was a monster to pull out of me. A very special thanks to my ficwife Mer / frol for helping me locate my voice again and being such a gracious supporter throughout. Huge thanks as well to Ape / Gasaway Alley for cleaning up my grammar, and pushing pretty words. I love you guys hard. Christy / Navarre thank you for pre-reading and being such a sweetheart.
There is a very special song which Mer sent to me months ago by Mary Fahl called Deep as you Go which inspired me throughout the writing of this. Thank you Mer. This chapter is for you. XoXo
The day after my training session with Xandru, I stood on the bluff overlooking the vast, roiling ocean, imagining the approach of tall ships filled with ruthless vampires coming to kill those I love. The spectral imprints of my kin stood alongside, rippling in the wind, their diaphanous presence a fortifying thing for in that moment I felt very alone with the secrets entrusted to me; trapped in the vow to keep them. The spirits let out a collective sigh which hung in the air like windsong as they retreated back into my body. An electric kiss of power curled around my spine as they merged with me. The fusion of their magic and mine rose in waves off my body, shimmering like heat off freshly laid asphalt. The crunch of gravel alerted me to his approach and I quickly reigned in the raw waves of energy so as not to spook Jake. I figure I had frightened him enough the past week with my new found abilities.
"You needed to see me?"
I turned and took in the measure of my ex husband. Jake was different, older, more at peace. Transformed in his imprint to Leah. There was a softness in his eyes when I asked about her.
He closed the distance and wrapped his large arms around me. The wind blew in from the great water crashing below us, pushing us closer together, our hair entangling in a lively dance.
"Thank you." he whispered near my ear then pulled back to look at me. I smiled brightly, trying to sound cheerful as I said,
"Don't thank me yet. There's something I need to ask of you before we go into battle with the Volturi.
Jacob listened intently as I told him my and Xandru's plan, of course, I didn't tell him about Xandru. His brow furrowed when I finished and he stared into the horizon. Squinting into the dying rose light of the setting sun, he sighed, crossing his arms over his broad chest.
"I don't know Bella. It's awful risky."
"It isn't, not if you do it exactly the way I said. "
" You said or he said?"
"What? Who is he said?"
This was a prime example of our communication. Seven years of marriage. How did I not kill him? Oh right. I almost did.
"Your secret magic trainer guy, the one we weren't allowed to sniff out."
"Jacob, just be there when I told you to be. Think of it as a...leap of faith."
" I don't like it Bella. You should let the Cullen's know."
"I can't. They'd stop me. It's the only way."
"Just be there Jacob. Or we all die. "
I turned back haughtily to the crash and pull of the ocean, as I heard Jake curse in Quileute and walk away from me. I resisted the urge to scream until my throat bled. The seagulls answered my urge in surrogacy, their piercing shrieks filling my ears as I inhaled the briny air to calm myself. I hated keeping secrets from Edward and I deeply resented the fact Jacob of all people just called me on it.
I funneled my frustration into training. Over the next few weeks I trained hard, the spirits of all four of my formidable ancestors as my guides. Reinforced by their presence, I grew stronger each day. I reveled in my newfound power and what I could do with it with some guidance. Adrastea and Leda were relentless in pushing me to hone and strengthen my abilities whereas Marie and Aesa taught me temperance in handling the frustrations wrought from trial and error.
To Edward's credit, if he did suspect me of keeping things from him, he didn't push the issue. He was attentive, caring, and he hid his mask of worry well even while tending to the flayed and blistered burns on the tips of my fingers. The physical pain of my charred flesh had nothing on the internal blaze of guilt for keeping Xandru's crucial involvement and plan from him. Charlie, Billy, Jacob, even Edward, all betrayed my trust and now I betrayed Edward's in the same manner.
For what? His protection?
Or my own? I can not live without him. I won't.
Nor can he live without you. Now you see the other side of the coin. How hard it was for him to leave, believing what he did.
Sometimes my Grandmama, Marie popped in during these internal debates. Often she played Devil's Advocate, especially for Edward. She was quite besotted with him, and it warmed me inside to know that I was finally able to confide to one of my own Edward's true nature.
"Yours and Edward's love is so strong, the ripple of your imprint is felt across time. It's a wonder the two of you didn't spontaneously combust when you first met."
"Is that why you drew his eyes in the book, Grandmama?"
"Oh, my dear, those aren't his eyes. They are yours."
"Mine? But... he shouldn't have to change me. We've imprinted. I will stay forever young, just like him."
"Perhaps, but don't forget, imprint or no, you are still mortal. You can still be physically harmed. " She ran her ghostly finger over the wounds on my skin.
Three days before we were to meet the Volturi, Edward was yet again silently, carefully tending to the fresh wounds from a day of wielding power that sometimes got the best of me. The past few weeks of grueling practice had pushed me to the point of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. My natural defenses eroded leaving me bare.
Then a miracle happened.
Edward heard me.
"Oh my God Isabella!"
The alarm in his voice startled me, I searched his pale stricken face as he looked at me, confusion and fear manipulating his features.
"Edward?! What is it?"
"I heard you...I heard your thoughts."
My stomach did a nosedive into the carpet, hiding beneath my shoes. Jesus. What did he hear? Shit. Shit, shit, shit!" My face radiated with heat when Edward gave me a chagrined look for my potty mouth...or in this case...potty thoughts.
"Let's just say I heard enough." He reached for me. "Now I know where the burns are coming from...why didn't you tell me?" He squeezed my hands so tight it hurt. I said nothing about the pain, but I couldn't meet his eyes. I looked for my courage in the carpet.
"Because I knew you would do this...get upset."
"I'm not upset...I'm a little shocked. I never thought I would be able to ever hear what's...going on in there."
"You mean you are not upset about the ...what did you...crap." I sighed heavily. I'd been nudged by the powers that be to put my cards on the table. If I knew one thing, everything happens for a reason. I had no idea what he heard, or even how he heard it. I really didn't care anymore. There was no use in keeping anything from him now; the relief was resurrecting. I told him everything. Even Xandru's involvement. His face was completely unreadable until I came to the part about Alec / Xandru. He was extremely pissed Xandru had overtly threatened me in our bedroom right under his very nose, but he stuffed his hurt pride into his pocket, and for that I was truly thankful. He only asked me if Xandru could be trusted. I gave him an emphatic yes and he relaxed somewhat. I finished with telling him about the wolves and their part in the plan and how I wasn't sure if Jacob would do it, that he thought it too risky. How Jacob pushed me to tell him everything.
"Edward, please be honest with me. Do you think it's a risk worth taking?"
Standing up and placing his hands on his hips, Edward paced the room. Stopping abruptly he looked at me with a pained expression.
"Of course I think it's a risk, but unfortunately, in this situation, risk is all we have if we hope to survive." My shoulders fell with the burden of the lives that could be lost in this battle. He came over to sit by me, placing his cool hands around mine, soothing the burns that had bitten my fingers.
I poured out my feelings of inadequacy in a rush of mental anguish as he held me. What if we failed? What if I failed everyone else? Edward winced with the onslaught of doubt and fear.
"Bella, listen to me. I know how hard you are working at mastering your abilities. You are powerful. I feel the miracle of it every time we make love. We've validated it in the histories of your line in your great grandmother's book. The stories from the Romanians. I trust you, and even though I am a little disappointed you didn't come to me with all of this in the beginning, I understand where you are coming from having been there myself." He flashed a sheepish grin at me, he tilted my chin.
"I love you Bella. Whatever it takes. I'm following your lead." I wrapped my arms around him, hugging him as tightly as I could, melting in the relief of trust and hope. I smiled into his chest,
"You think I'm powerful?" I realized how lame that sounded after it came out of my mouth. The level of exhaustion I was experiencing was even affecting my self confidence. I felt like that 17 year old girl again. Doubting her worth.
"You are not the same person you were nine years ago. You've never seen yourself clearly love. Magic at your fingertips and you still feel unsure of yourself." he chuckled in disbelief. Even though he could read my mind, it certainly didn't mean he would be given all the secrets as to what makes me tick.
"You won't fail. WE won't fail. Now that there are no secrets, we can figure a way through this. Alec, I mean, Xandru is sure there is no other way?"
I pulled back from him and shook my head.
"He said it was decided long before any of us were even born how it would end. I've seen it for myself in The Scriptures, it has the complete curse that Adrastea put on the Volturi lords. I'm the key. His interpretations are sound Edward. The Volturi are coming with the support of their entire Guard. We will be outnumbered by at least three to one."
"Then, it's the best plan we have." He mulled something over quickly and a shrewd look rippled across the placid waters of his face.
"Can you still get in touch with Xandru?"
"I'd rather not involve the Romanians. Marie can take a message to him."
"I have an idea which might tip the odds a bit more to our favor."
"Here they come." Edward whispered.
Ten pairs of eyes zeroed in on the treeline that surrounded the clearing, the ocean at our backs, this spot chosen specifically for that purpose. Yesterday, Carlisle received the call we were expecting. Aro, ever the slippery politician, coated the intentions for his impromptu visit with a thick syrup of lies, stating that he had heard of his old friend's treaty with the wolves and wanted to come and speak with him on it, to assure the validity of the treaty itself. Carlisle of course agreed amicably and told Aro that we would meet at the No Man's Land clearing between the Quileute and Cullen land.
There is a deep seeded knowing in your gut when you face the pinnacle, the "Point of No Return" of your destiny. A knowing that things are as they should be despite every heartache, every sacrifice along the way. Something shifts in the universe. Fate breathes a sigh of relief and locks us into place. If we listen closely, open our minds and our hearts enough to accept what is meant for us, we are given peace. Despite the danger we faced, I felt that peace now. There was no fear, indecision or thoughts of failure, just the anticipation of battle and the restrained rippling of power tensing across my body. The will to survive and protect what is mine paramount.
Protect what is ours.
The firm cool grasp of Edward's hand in mine reassured me that this was not a destiny I was to face alone. His profile was hard and searching into the blackness of the night as we awaited the approach of The Volturi Lords and their fearsome Guard. I looked down the line of the rest of my family who stood with me. Determination etched into their faces, their stance; fierce, defiant and watchful. I stood amongst beings as powerful as the dead gods of long forgotten religions and fables. The Romanians were the only ones who looked nervous. They did not fidget or wear it on their face as a human would, but it was there, dancing around their eyes in the furtive glances to each other, to me then back again.
They moved as one solid unit in perfect synchronization. It appeared as if they simply floated above the ground their steps were so quick and quiet. The Witch Twins flanked Caius and Marcus. Aro was at the head of the advancement trailed very closely by a very tall female vampire with long dark hair. Edward informed me she was Renata, Aro's shield. Caius had a look of scorn that with a touch of wary fear directed at me. Good. Be afraid. Aro gave me a cursory glance then held his hand up in the air limply and the whole operation came to a standstill. The brothers linked arms with him as if they held a silent communication through touch. Their faces were blank, and then Aro closed his eyes and smiled menacingly for a fraction of a moment, brightening and tightening his smile to the fake plasticity of a snake oil salesman.
"Carlisle, how nice to see you with your whole coven. Might I ask if our wolf friends will be joining us?" His voice was as pleasant as a breeze on a warm day, the razor sharp malice slicing through in mentioning the wolves.
"I'm afraid not Aro. They are quite wary of your intentions and frankly so am I."
"There is nothing to be wary about Carlisle. This is simply a formality old boy. This is the first treaty in the history of our kind with...descendants of the Pricolici." He gave the Roms a cursory heated glance. "I see you have consulted with those who dealt with their kind in the past. How thorough of you."
Carlisle knew better than to address the true reason the Romanians stood with us at that point.
"That is quite an entourage behind you for a simple formality Aro." Edward bristled. I squeezed his hand in earnest.
Please Edward, keep your cool. We need them to come closer.
"Ahhh, yes, well you can imagine, with the history we have had with the Children of the Moon,
my Guard insisted on protection before we deal with these unknowns. Speaking of unknowns, who might this lovely human creature be? And here I thought you brought me and my brothers a snack as a welcome offering."
Edward's entire body tensed and he shot a glance at Carlisle before he spoke. Carlisle nodded slightly.
"Drop the charade, Aro. We know you came here for the wolves and us. She is not yours to take."
Caius leered. Marcus was...ambivalent. The lights were on but no one was home. Aro didn't even flinch.
"Well it is a shame then that the wolves did not show. It is quite an inconvenience as we really wanted to take care of you both at the same time. However, I can certainly make an exception and offer you and your family clemency if you simply hand over your human...pet."
I had enough of this game.
"As Legacy of the Striga line, I can assure you Lord Aro, I am no one's pet."
Aro's face showed mild surprise, then a smile which chilled my skin crept across his face as he bowed ever so slightly before me.
"Aro, Caius, Marcus, I would like you to meet Isabella Swan, descendant of the Striga." Edward could not keep the pride out of his voice.
"Striga! What a delightful surprise. I thought your line died out."
"Only because you hunted us down and burned all you could find." My voice was flat and emotionless, which was no easy feat. The itch to smite the smarmy bastard that lied and oozed deceit in front of me made my skin crawl with the need to end this. I forced myself not to look at Ioana or Xandru, keeping my cards close to my chest for just a little bit longer.
Touching lightly the arms of his brethren they moved forward. See for yourself I am who I say, you arrogant creature. Come closer. Caius tried very hard to not look directly at me. Marcus gazed catatonically at Edward and I both, perhaps he saw our imprinted connection and was wondering at it. Aro broke formation, Renata heeling like a dog from behind. He extended pale, bony, perfectly manicured hands toward me.
"Now, now my dear, who has been filling your head with such lies?" He looked directly at the Roms who glared challengingly back at the Volturi brothers. Caius curled his lip and snarled, a loud snapping sound which Aro cut off with a glance. I made no move toward him. He needed to come to me. Once him and his entire guard were all standing within the invisible, odorless circle of liquid nitrogen, we saturated the ground with earlier that day, Edward put his hand up in front of Aro.
"That is far enough Aro."
Aro breathed one word, "Alec." My family and the Roms responded, executing the next part of the plan flawlessly. All of the vampires froze in their place as if Xandru had truly immobilized them. He hadn't, but no one can fake freezing stock-still, better than a vampire. This was Edward's idea. He knew Aro would want to speak with me alone. He took the bait, now it was time to reel him in.
"They are not lies Aro, and you well know it."
Anger slithered across his features, revealing the silver tongued serpent who hid amongst biting, polite lies. In a flash, he came within a hairsbreadth of my face. I prayed Edward would remain still and not give up our carefully planned ruse of the Cullen's immobility. A thought occurred to me which hadn't before, causing a sickening heaviness in my stomach. All Aro had to do was touch them and the jig was up. Aro's breath then washed over me, the scent of cloves and exotic spices assaulted my nose.
"You have come by your bravery honestly, Isabella of the Striga. You even look like them." He reached out and ran an icy finger down my throat ever so lightly. I trembled with barely restrained rage which he thankfully mistook for fear.
"Your neck is as lovely as Adrastea's, it would be a shame if I had to remove your head also, should you stand against me." More of his icy fingers crept across the bottom of my neck then delicately tightened. I pleaded to Edward to remain calm through my thoughts. I screamed it at him. I could feel his waves of panic hit me like a tidal wave, which I projected on to Aro as if they were coming from me. A little trick I learned from Jazz. Aro fell for it, grinning in sadistic satisfaction thinking he had me trapped, finally conquering the only thing that ever truly frightened him.
Pride goeth before the Fall.
"I can not hear you." He pouted like a child. "Pity. Silence could work against you." His grip loosened and he trailed one finger along the cord which hung around my neck holding Taha Aki's tooth. When he came to the pouch he quickly withdrew his fingers as if it singed him. A look of disgust curled his lip and he snarled;
"It's a shame your blood has been tainted by that of the Pricolici. The throat of the Striga Queen should be wearing jewels...not the base magics of savage mutants. All of your kind are a poison to our way of life. You blur the lines between us and them, spending half your existence human. "
He ghosted away from me and appeared in front of Carlisle hissing resentment oppressed for centuries.
"Then there are the golden eyed mutants of our own glorious race, who by choice, not design, change their natural way of life; all for their unnatural sympathy for humans. How is a doctor of medicine unable to accept we are evolution incarnate of the human race? Why fight evolution? Why bathe in their blood to save a life rather than take it? Martyrdom must get tiring for the soul, Carlisle."
He sidled up to Rose. I could feel Jasper working overtime to send out calming waves aimed at his quick tempered bear of a brother.
"Stunning," he purred lasciviously into her ear, eyes trailing over her body. "Why would such a creature mourn the inferior being she was when human?"
Aro seemingly teleported from Rose to Edward, he moved so fast. He came dangerously close to my mate. So close my fingertips glowed, pulsing with the need to keep him away at any cost. He turned his gaze to me and raised a thin black brow,
"Why fall in love with a being you could break with merely a touch? Deny yourself the blood which could give much more pleasure then this delicate shell of a body could offer."
Rage rode across my face like a storm, taking everything I had not to roast the son of a bitch right here. Right now. My grandmama Marie's voice skimmed across my anger.
"Victory to the spider."
She was right. Patience. I exhaled and grounded myself yet again. I was going to exhaust myself just trying to hold back my power more than using it if I wasn't careful.
Aro looked at me with a bemused smile, pleased as fuck he was rankling me.
If he only knew.
"If you do not join us Isabella, I will set you all aflame before I leave."
"No Aro. It is you and your brethren who will burn. You will relinquish your rule over the Vampire race or perish as it was decreed in Adrastea's curse upon your reign."
His eyes hardened into crimson moonstones, He scoffed,
"What could you possibly know of the Curse? The Scriptures are lost. What the Romanians told you was a fairytale. The Triumverate was an abomination." He finally acknowledged Stephane and Vlad's presence, which as they feared, would not bode well for them. I silently pleaded they remain frozen and not give the rest of us away in a fit of cowardice. The vacuous silence over the scene added to the tension pushing against me. The guards stared ahead, fearsome statues, the promise of death in their eyes. Aro's voice bit into the eery stillness.
"However...I don't like to take chances. The brothers were left alive as a witness to our power and were never again to challenge it." He raised a hand and four Guards ascended upon the Romanians. I watched in barely contained horror as they were disassembled in a screech of metal, grinding, grating agony to my ears ending with the roar and crackle of fire. They went to their death with honor, not giving the rest of us away. I whispered a prayer their sacrifice would not be in vain.
All that remained of the Moroi Kings were bits of ash, dust and dying embers. Aro's boot flew through their remains scattering it with callous disregard.
"The Scripture found it's way to me, Aro. I know the true meaning of the curse and the prophecy it held. You know as well as I do killing the Romanians and the last remaining descendants of the Pricolici won't keep you safe. It is me you fear. I am the Three that become One. Descendant of the Witch and Wolf, imprinted to a vampire lover. Striga, Moroi and Pricolici. I will be all Three. "
My hands snapped with power drawing Aro's attention to the blue arcs of raw magic at my fingertips. For a split second, fear appeared on his face. Just for that moment, that brief particle of time, I knew I had him.
The venom in his voice lashed out with fury, landing impotently against my hardened resolve to see him finished.
"You are still human! It's of no surprise to me Carlisle's prodigal son could not bring himself to change you so you could come in to your full power. Join me , and I will save your loved ones and change you myself. You will be more powerful than you can imagine. Your weak mortal body could never withstand the amount of power you would need to wield to bring down me and my Guard. Don't be foolish."
"We shall see who is the fool, Aro."
I finally let loose a strip of magic, spreading like a hot wind over my body, flowing out of my mouth as I called forth my destiny;
Come Witch, come Wolf, come Vampire lover,
In my blood you flow, with my skin I cover!
Aro's expression was watchful, wary. Caius wouldn't restrain himself any longer,
"Brother, don't let her do this."
Aro ignored him, rapt with the magic now coating my skin, ruffling as a breeze through my hair. I felt my vision grow hazy as Adrastea surfaced, changing my features to more resemble hers. I heard the words coming from my lips as if they sounded above my head, felt myself meld with the power of Adrastea, Aesa, Leda and Marie. Our eyes turned white, our skin sprouted the black veins blooming like cracks in glass, branching, splintering, reaching until it runs out of momentum. Aro's eyes widened with shock as he listened to the words falling from our lips which he had not heard in over 1500 years;
A curse upon you
to burn on a pyre
set by our Queen
who is baptized in fire
Three become ONE
to cause your demise
All Three she becomes
from ash she'll arise
Three become ONE
All Three she becomes.
Striga, Moroi, Pricolici
hastening the end of the Volturi
All hail the Golden Eyed Queen!
The Alpha, Omega; Legacy.
Three become One
All Three she becomes
"Impossible." Aro whispered at the sight before him. I could feel Adrastea's satisfaction in facing her nemesis. All of the women pushed bright flares of power through my body; I was their vessel, their retribution, and everyone wanted a turn at the wheel.
We are Earth.
Adrastea pulled wild raw energy from the earth , siphoning torrents of ancient power into my body. A sluggish, warm sensation moved along my veins, the scent of fresh grass, damp earth and spring rain permeating my senses as I felt the undiluted strength of the Mother's charms. Fading to a steady hum of power, Adrastea receded to allow room for her sister's ascension.
We are Air.
Aesa pushed forward, her power keening like a fierce wind along an open plain, howling and blowing in the face of the Guard and their Lords. Aro and Caius were helpless to mask the fear on their face. Marcus smiled and closed his eyes as the wind pushed against him.
We are Fire
The blood auburn color of Leda's hair bled across my scalp to the tips which flew about in the wind like errant flames. My hand turned palm up, a fireball snapping into existence growing round and hot, levitating in mid air.
We are Ice
Settling back into the seat of my conscience, the fireball in my hand turned to snow, falling softly into my outstretched hand. The air around us became cold and vacuous.
We bring vengeance upon you thrice.
One slips from your hold.
Aesa's spectral imprint sprang from my body, the scene of the burning Romanian castle forming in ghostly images around her. She was running from the scene where Aro had just murdered her sister.
Two finds love lost from old.
Leda and Uriah materialized, his form shimmering between that of a human and that of a wolf while she glowed as if she swallowed the moon.
Three latently awakens
to fulfill a destiny forsaken.
The women left their respective scenes, fading into each other, becoming a glowing pulse of energy, a mist which drifted towards me soaking into my skin. I felt the roar of raw magics pull along my my veins, rushing amongst my ears like a waterfall.
As we will,
So mote it be.
Delicious, warm heat spilled over me from the tips of my fingers to the bottom of my toes. Rife with power, I held my hand, palm out again forming a ball of fire. It whispered of it's consuming heat, singing of the things it wanted to devour. I let it grow and build until it was the size of a soccer ball cupped between my hands, then I raised it above my head and threw it directly at the line of liquid nitrogen surrounding the Volturi and their Guard. A wave of flames sprang up from the gas-soaked ground encircling us and the Volturi.
The walls of fire pulled all of the oxygen from the air in a sucking, heated pulse, roaring with gluttonous satisfaction with each draw. Caius opened his mouth to give the order to attack when my wild cry overpowered his, harmonizing with the choir of the flaming wall, invoking his name so he could serve his justice.
I felt his magic press against us like a heavy blanket, yet we were unaffected by it's cloying touch. The universe tightened, seemingly holding it's breath. Our enemy stood before us, frozen like statues on the exhale. Aro was the only vampire left with the ability to move as my great uncle wove his spell. Xandru wanted Aro for himself. The Cullens sprang to action descending upon our vulnerable prey like deadly locusts. Jasper jumped Caius with leonine grace, tearing his head, arms and legs from his torso with deadly expertise. I ignited a pyre which he dropped the pieces in to be consumed. Esme took apart Marcus, and readied him for the pyre. It was a solemn quick end. His need to go so strong, I even felt his grief of sad waves emanating from his body. Jasper and I exchanged a look of knowing, and we moved forward. Edward and the rest were doing what they could to dismantle the Guard as quickly as possible. Jane was also left for Xandru. This was our first mistake.
The thundering of paws pounding the earth could be heard beating like a base drum beneath the raging pulse and dance of the flames. I smiled and lit more pyres as the cavalry mobilized. Jacob pulled through for me. Carlisle dispatched of Renata then gripped Aro tightly, he struggled and cursed as he watched the first wolf leap through the flames like a ferocious Hell Hound, landing unscathed within the circle. I had asked Jacob to insist the Pack take a prolonged soak in the ocean before they came to our rescue. The wet coats enabled them to jump safely through the prison of fire I built for the Volturi. The part Jacob didn't like was them jumping blindly through a ring of fire not knowing what was waiting for them on the other side. Especially if we couldn't immobilize the Guard. It was all about trust; Jake needed to trust Xandru and I could immobilize the army, and I needed to trust Jake and the Pack could be patient enough to wait until the timing was right.
Xandru turned to Aro. Hate boiling in his eyes and rippling across iron skin. My great uncle smiled, reaching out, putting his hands tightly around Aro's neck. In an instant, the vampire Lord jolted with the unexpected Judas kiss of Xandru's impeccable deceit flashing him all the images he was denied for centuries.
"How dare you betray me? I gave you eternal life!! Power! You were my left hand!"
A terrible screech of rage ripped from Aro, he threw his head back, violently connecting with Carlisle, knocking him to the ground. As Carlisle scrambled to his feet, Aro swung a crushing two handed blow to Xandru's chest, the mighty crack as he made contact rang in my ears as I watched my uncle fly through the air, landing in a large burning pyre.
The shrill child like voice pierced the din of fire, brimstone and Xandru's panicked shrieks. I turned to the source to see Jane, reanimated and beyond pissed. Her angelic features stained with a vehemence so caustically malicious, I shivered in reaction as she wreathed a deadly smile.
This one word sliced through me like a million hot knives, sluicing through flesh with blinding brutal agony. I dropped to the ground. The pain was so bright, so sharp, I had no sense of self beyond the unending, throbbing torment of my brain ripping in two from Jane's mind manipulation. I felt the wet sticky trickle of blood run from my nose and ears as I pushed myself to concentrate on reinforcing my shields. Reprieve granted, I lay gasping for breath, looking around wildly for my loved ones.
My family lay scattered about the field, thrashing in torment on the ground. Never will I be able to erase their screams from my mind. Their keening pleas for Jane to stop or give them death stole the breath from my body. The evil witchling was now standing over Edward, his spine bowed in paroxysms of pain I could never begin to imagine. Hot tears streaked down my face, the panic of seeing him in so much distress causing my mind to shut down. To forget who I was. A baying howl echoed across the field followed sharply by a yip of distress. I lifted my head to look further down the field for the wolves. They were unaffected by Jane's power. But they had other problems.
The Guards were now awake, fighting back, and Jake and his Pack were grossly outnumbered.
A menacing menagerie of recently reanimated Volturi Guard were plowing their way through the thinly threaded defenses of the wolves. They were coming for my family who lie helpless on the ground at Jane's non-existent mercy. Edward let loose a howl of torment,
I stood up, a powerful bellow escaping from my smoke ravaged throat. Aro's eyes widened and he answered my call by coming for me. Jane's attention was drawn to us and I tightened my shield, her eyes rolled back in her head from trying so hard to breach my wards.
Three things happened all at once.
A great grey wolf burst past me, intercepting Aro, biting him in the midsection forcefully and shaking him within his mighty jaws like a dog with a squirrel.
He made quick work of Aro's body, tossing him into the flames, then bounded off to help the others.
Xandru came up behind Jane in a riotous flaming fury, wrapping his arms around her neck in a choke hold, dragging her backwards. She screamed as her clothes caught fire.
Just as the Guard came within striking distance of my gasping, sputtering family, the spirits of Aesa and Adrastea shot out of my hands like fireworks. Their brilliant blue forms launched into the sky, melding into a single helix. Wind building with a roar resonating from their center, the helix then spun into a tornado of hair, arms, legs and dress. Bringing their dervish dance to a standstill, they turned towards my family who stared into the sky wide eyed with wonder. Realization dawned across Edward's face,
"No Bella!" His hand shot out as he was picked up by a strong magical wind blown from the mouths of the two sisters, whisked out of harm's way.
Out of my way.
I inhaled a deep breath, drawing the power of the Winds, the Moon, the Earth into my body. The wind seemingly snuffed out the fires littered across the field in a great sucking backdraft. I drew everything into me. Leda's voice rang out strong and true from my throat, the red tips of our hair spiraling in the breeze.
"I AM FIRE!"
Raising my arms to the Moon I saw that they had magically transformed into wings, igniting into orange, red and blue licks of flame. Pushing off from the earth we propelled upwards to the heavens. I looked down to the battle scene below us. Everyone had ceased fighting, watching us rocket into the sky. Some Guards were running away. A few wolves lay on the ground; I couldn't tell who they were. Jake's great brown head tilted up to watch my ascension, he howled, rounding up the rest of his Pack to get the hell out of my line of fire. A few of the wolves shifted back to human form, picking up the injured wolves to run them to safety. The last thing I could make out on the ground below was Xandru kneeling by his dead, burning Ioana, smiling up at me his face full of rapture, a flaming glorious angel of death. The memory of the day we spent training rose to the forefront of my mind, soothing the horror of watching skin slide molten off his titanium bones.
"You have no idea how powerful you are. You could burn them all Isabella, but it would be of great risk, because you are mortal."
"I would sacrifice my life for theirs."
"I have no doubt. That type of courage and sacrifice assures me you are the one I have been searching for. The One to set me free."
Our ascent halted. Suspended in the night sky, I spread my wings and legs akimbo resembling the shape of the Vitruvian man. I channeled the energy of billions of burning suns, galaxies away. My physical sense of self blew apart when wild, demanding starfire spilled across my world, transforming me into a blazing bomb of destruction plummeting to the earth. I was Fire. Retribution. Vengeance. Deliverance wrapped in Hellfire. I did not think of impact and the reality of my bones being crushed to splinters when I hit the earth. Nothing could touch me as I lit them all aflame. My cells exploded into a raging inferno upon impact drowning everything on the battlefield in a sea of flames. There was no pain. Yet. I rode this crest of power into Euphoria while their screams were swallowed by my voracious holocaust. The screams faded, the thundering roar of the inferno which engulfed me was all that existed.
I came down from the exultant frenzy of my supernatural adrenaline rush . Down, down, down, into the abysmal pit of blinding pain, I was pinned to the earth, cradled in her embrace, unable to move my broken, burnt body. The heat was so intense, I could feel my skin bubble. My clothing, my hair had melted away, the entire surface of my skin felt as if boiling acid had been poured over it.
Xandru's voice again, "...because you are mortal."
My life for theirs.
Xandru's words resonating stronger this time, a mantra, a prayer as I lay helpless in a smoldering, shattered heap of bones and charred meat.
"Have no fear of Death..."
I had no fear of it, I only feared that it would never come, that I would be left on this spit to roast and broil until I was nothing but ash. I thought of my ancestors lashed to their poles, burning for sins they did not commit. All of the women in our line burning. I would be the last. The only one who chose this end, but my choice came with just as painful a consequence. Edward. I've gone willingly. I love you.
A burst of snapping and crackling caused me to instinctively turn my head towards the disruption in the monotonous hiss and suck of the wall of fire. Hell's lullaby. I peeled one eye open to see the edge of a long liquid black cloak surging in the forceful gusts of the flames untouched by their devouring licks. Looking up, I knew my prayer had been answered. Death Incarnate. Come to fetch me at last. There was no face to be seen within the hood. He spotted me, disappeared then bent over me. Yes. Please. Take me away now. This dark angel enshrouded me within the raven wings of his cloak, springing me from Hades. The world began to fade away, white hot pain kindled around the edges of my awareness. Pressed against the icy hard planes of his chest, ragged breaths of his scent my salvation. Edward. He had come for me, just as Xandru said he would.
"...his love will resurrect your mortal body. Make you complete."
Edward gently placed me on the ground after we were clear of the inferno I created to incinerate an immortal army. I could not open my eyes as they had melted shut from the heat of the blaze, but I could open my mind to him.
"You came for me."
He choked on a dry sob. "I will always come for you, love."
"It's time Edward. Please...so we can be together."
"Forever Bella. " He bent to my neck, biting through the skin like it was brittle paper. The moment his venom mixed with my blood, a brilliant pink flash flared behind my eyes, revealing a vision of us lying flat on our backs in our meadow, snow gently falling upon our skin. His voice pierced my conscience, I felt his terror at the sublime pleasure in drinking my lifesource. I flooded him with images of our love to ground him, to bring him back from his feral descent. He shuddered and released his hold, then placed his mouth to my body again and again, razor sharp kisses at my wrists, my ankles and femoral artery. I grew sluggish with the loss of blood, my pain all but faded away as his venom spread through my veins like a hoarfrost. I felt the spirits of my ancestors leave me with a sigh, one by one. Adrastea, the last to let go, whispered in my ear to always remember who I am, to which I answered;
"I am Ice. The Phoenix who rises from the ashes. The Golden Eyed Queen." Edward covered me with his wintery body as I dug deep for one last burst of magic to cover us in a tomb of ice, frozen lovers awaiting rebirth to Eternity.
I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know how much by leaving me a review. Now that I'm finished this beast I finally have time to respond to them!
There will be outtakes; a few written by myself, but most will be written by my very talented friends. Jaspersbrand already has a fabulous Rose one shot already to go. Goldenmeadow has committed to one! If anyone has any ideas about an outtake they would like to see, please PM me and I will see what can be done.
Thank you, to EVERYONE that has read and reviewed. Very special thanks to Jaspersbrand for creating my forum thread and being such a rock star. Big PJ Harvey red lippy kisses to Goldenmeadow for being so inspiring and supportive. Viridis73, my Twin, I adore you and I can't wait until you get that laptop! Pixiekat, winterstale, Rosabella, Twiliteaddict, Vi, slobber-monkey and the rest of you beautiful ladies on the Double Wide thread my deepest thanks for your friendship and support.
My new story is a collaborative effort with my beta frol / Mer and should be posting in a few weeks. Please make sure to add me to your author alerts so you will know when it's up!
Bright blessings to your and yours.