All Things Pass is a joint venture between Metropolis Kid and Lion in the Land
"No way could she take on both Carlisle and Esme, I don't care how many dead dog souls she had in her!" Emmett asserted.
"It's true," Edward confirmed. "She might have obtained extra powers, superhuman strength, but her physical make-up was still human, soft and vulnerable. And the spirits themselves said that she wouldn't have that same fiery burst as when she took on the new souls, so she wouldn't have the speed to completely disable Carlisle or Esme, much less both of them working together. Furthermore, Carlisle would've been particularly strong at that point, because he'd just…" Edward's voice trailed off.
"Fed on a live human," Jasper completed solemnly.
"Oh my God," Bella whimpered. Her shoulders slumped and she turned her gaze mournfully onto the trail of blood leading into the cavern. "Why would he do it? His whole life…they had all these blood packets right here…why?"
By now Edward had come and put a comforting arm around his wife. "Sometimes there's no good explanation. But if…knowing Carlisle, if he was getting no nutrients from animals, he probably wouldn't hunt anymore, wouldn't waste a life—any life—that way. But like drinking blood, the hunt is an instinct for us…we crave the physical gratification of the kill. If he hadn't had that kind of outlet for a while, well, who knows what could've set him off."
Rosalie, who'd been staring at the blood stains, cut in. "This doesn't make any sense. I know Carlisle hadn't ever fed on a live human before, but I doubt that he'd be this messy of an eater. Once he latched onto that guy's throat he wouldn't be going anywhere. So why the trail of blood?"
"Is it the girl's?" Alice asked.
"Perhaps," Jasper answered. "She's the only human that would've have had the strength to get away."
"Unless…" a hopeful Bella added, "unless Carlisle changed his mind part way through! Maybe he realized what he was doing and backed off, and the guy ran here to be with his girlfriend."
"Honey," Edward said, "you've never fed on a human before. It's not that easy. Once Carlisle gave in to the bloodlust, there'd be no stopping."
"But he stopped when he changed you! And when he changed Rosalie and Esme!"
Edward shook his head. "That was different. His intention from the beginning was to change us, so the act was initiated with a completely different mindset. He'd fortified himself. If he began this feeding under the influence of bloodlust-"
"Well maybe is wasn't blood-lust," Bella persisted. "Maybe…maybe this Antonio was really sick and Carlisle saw that he wasn't going to get better. So he decided to change him, to save him, and then Joan walked in on the middle of it and-"
"STOP!" Rosalie shouted. "Just stop! We can stand around here all day and spout theories; we're not going to know anything until we find them. Do any of the rest of you pick up on a faint scent of Carlisle and Esme?"
The others stayed still and breathed in slowly through their noses.
"Yes," Alice said, then she started walking over toward the far end of the cavern. "It gets stronger over here."
The floor of the cavern sloped upwards at the point where Alice led them, and their combined torch light revealed a very small hole about half way up. However, it was only large enough to fit one person.
"Another tunnel?" Alice asked.
Jasper handed Alice his torch, and crawled up the slope, like a spider, until he reached the hole. He held his face in front of the opening and closed his eyes. After a few moments, he said, "I feel air coming through. It may be another exit. I'm going to check it out. Wait here, and I'll be right back." He disappeared into the darkness. Two minutes later, he reappeared and leapt to the cave floor.
"It is an exit. A very narrow one. And it's covered with branches and leaves, as if someone purposely wanted to hide it."
They all exchanged grave glances. They were going to have to go through this newly-discovered exit if they wanted more information on where their parents had gone.
"Guys, don't worry," Bella said. "This isn't a problem."
"Love, we are definitely in werewolf territory now. This burial ground is proof of that."
Bella shrugged. "No duh, Edward. But I'm Switzerland, remember? They'll listen to me." She clambered up the wall and through the hole.
"Bella!" Edward dashed into the hole to join his betrothed.
"Guys!" Alice shouted. Then she turned to Jasper. "We've got to go, hon. Strength in numbers." Then Alice also disappeared.
"A fight, awesome!" Emmett grunted. He'd been waiting for something like this ever since, well, ever since he'd been Emmett.
Rosalie growled and then shot a piercing glare at Jasper. "Looks like you and I are the only ones with any brains around here, and we were right – we should've killed that egocentric moron when she was still human! How many times do we have to let her idiocy lead us into danger?" Rosalie flew into the tunnel after her husband, and Jasper followed right behind.
He emerged minutes later to find his brothers, sisters and wife standing face to face with an enormous, snarling charcoal-colored wolf. As Jasper pulled himself into a defensive stance, two more wolves appeared. One was pitch black.
"Guys, we aren't here to cause trouble," Bella tried to soothe. "Carlisle and Esme have gone missing and we're just trying to find them."
Jasper sent out blasts of his calming vibe, but with more wolves arriving by the second, each with their emotions raging, his ability was being stretched to its limit, and he wasn't sure he'd be able to keep their rage in check. He turned his attention to Edward, who was undoubtedly reading the wolves' minds.
It always took Edward a few extra minutes to acclimate to the La Push wolves' thoughts when there was more than one from the pack present. While in animal form, they shared communal thought, each simultaneously hearing what the others were thinking, and that made it difficult for Edward to know who was thinking what. Right now he was most interested in the thoughts of the leader, Sam Uley, the black wolf.
We don't have any evidence that these six have done anything to violate the pact… sounded like Embry, or maybe Quil.
I say having to listen to Princess Vampira whine on our land is reason enough to attack… that had to be Leah.
They're part of the same clan; what one does, they all do… Paul perhaps?
Any of them make a false move, one inch out of line, and you are to attack... That was Sam.
Edward heard more and more echoes of these voices as additional wolves gathered. The Cullen kids were surrounded. Some of the wolves came up close, but many stayed back in the trees, a strategy to catch any vampires that might decide to run.
A high pitched wine came from the forest to Edward's right. He glanced sideways and saw a sandy-colored wolf, Seth Clearwater. Seth had always been friendly with the Cullens. At the time Edward and Bella's daughter had been born, he'd even seceded from Sam's pack to follow Jacob's leadership in a new pack that protected the vampires from threats. But with Jacob off at college, Seth fell back under Sam's leadership and was bound to follow his orders.
Still, Seth did whatever he could to help the Cullens out. And at that moment, he was pushing aside the thoughts of the other wolves to focus on something else. Edward was shocked to hear Carlisle and Esme's voices coming from Seth's mind and realized that Seth was recalling a memory – he was telling Edward what had happened.
At first Edward didn't see anything of significance, just sky and leaves, but he heard voices, his parents' voices. This memory had a thick, gauzy feel to it, telling Edward that the direct memory belonged to one of the other wolves, and it had been shared with Seth at a later point. Edward swept aside all the other voices swirling in his brain and focused on what Seth was showing him.
"That bitch! The meddling bitch! She's ruined everything!" Esme shrieked.
"Darling, keep it down," Carlisle's soft voice commanded in a whisper so low that it could not be heard by human ears. "The wolves' sense of hearing is just as keen as ours."
Esme's voice lowered, but was still permeated with the shrillness of panic. "I don't understand why we didn't just use the other exit."
"Esme, dear, we've already put the patients through so much. They don't need to see this, too. And after what Joan told them, some of them may try to retaliate against us. We can't risk harming any more humans."
"What's going to happen now, Carlisle? The patients are going to leave. They'll make their way back to civilization and then everyone will know."
"We have time. In their condition it will take them at least twenty-four hours to reach the nearest house and, without a map or any sense of where they are, probably twice that. And then it's going to take time for them to convince someone that their story has any credibility. By then we'll have warned the children, and they'll be well on their way to setting up a new life somewhere else."
"Don't you mean we'll be on our way to setting up a new life?"
There was a moment of deadly silence, and then Carlisle spoke. "I have bitten a human and broken the treaty – I owe a debt to the Quileute."
"Carlisle, no," Esme wailed.
"Esme, I won't make the decision for you; you must decide what your own conscience can bear, but for me there is no choice. I made my decision when I plunged my teeth into that innocent man and drank from him."
Esme's voice suddenly became very steady and probing. "Why did you do it? You seemed satiated…why?"
"My thirst was satiated, but my savage instincts to kill, to tear, to destroy were not. I've been hiding it from myself for too long, but no more. I am…a monster."
"Yesss," Esme uttered, her voice becoming a hiss. And in that one syllable, rather than sounding disturbed by her husband's revelation, she sounded almost elated. Carlisle looked at her quizzically. "We are monsters," she continued. "As I did my research, trying to find a human reason for your condition, it only became more and more clear to me that while we still inhabit these human husks, we are decidedly not human. But that's what we've been pretending to be, and Carlisle…I'm tired of it. I didn't realize how tired until I was chasing that girl down the hall the first time, right after she'd walked in on your feeding.
"I wanted to catch her, darling, not just to shut her up. I was aroused after watching you feed on that boy, and I wanted to hear her scream as I tore into her. I wanted to feel the warm blood pump out of her and gurgle down my throat. I wanted to hold her soft body to mine and feel it go limp as I drained the life from her. I wanted that, Carlisle.
"So when she came back and had all that power, and had ripped our limbs off, it wasn't self preservation that gave me the strength and the speed and the clarity I needed to overpower her. It was pure instinct and a craving for her blood. And when, even after I'd cornered her and latched onto her, she still managed to throw me off, spilling her blood all around me, my instincts were heightened with the taste of a true challenge. It was the most titillating rush of my existence Carlisle, and when I caught her that final time in the big cavern, every single drop of her blood across my tongue was exquisite. This cannot be the last time I taste that. I don't want it to be."
"My dear Esme…" Carlisle's quiet voice was barely discernible through the memory, but it was filled with infinite disappointment.
During Esme's speech, she and Carlisle came into view. The wolf that had first seen them stood back, hidden among the trees, to keep its scent out of the vampires' range. Through the leaves, Edward saw a corpse draped over each of his parents' shoulders.
"Don't take that tone with me, dear husband," Esme warned. "I have been a good little girl and gone along with your way of life for nearly a century, isn't it only fair to try it my way for the next?"
"Your way. That is your way of life now, is it?" Carlisle asked sadly. "Darling, I'm afraid you are already lost. As soon as we are off Quileute lands, we will give these poor souls a proper burial, then we will find our children and tell them what we have done. After that, we will say our goodbyes, and I will return here to accept my punishment. As I said before, you are free to let your own conscience dictate what you will do, but I hope you will join me. It is your only chance at redemption."
Carlisle and Esme became visible from all angles as more wolves showed up and their visions were reflected in Seth's memory. The wolves moved in closer, and Carlisle and Esme could hear and smell their approach. Carlisle merely turned toward the closest wolf and held his arms up in surrender.
"We can run, Carlisle," Esme whispered. "We'll throw the bodies at them for distraction and run. We'll keep running and call the kids on the way to warn them. Let's go to Europe, Carlisle. Amsterdam, or maybe the canals of Venice. We don't have to pretend anymore."
Carlisle ignored her. "I have broken the treaty," he announced to the wolves. "So has my wife. These corpses are the proof." He then turned to Esme. "Repent, my darling. Repent now before it's too late."
Esme's eyes blazed on her husband, and she lowered one shoulder to let half of the female's corpse slide down. Then she swung the body around and flung it at the nearest wolf. The wolf caught the body in its jaws, and another jumped at Esme.
Seth fought to end the memory there, but bits flashed through, and Edward saw Esme's head ripped from her body and he watched Carlisle close his eyes and stand perfectly still, except for his lips, which appeared to be murmuring a prayer, while three wolves tore into him.
Jasper groaned and fell to one knee as he was hit with the full impact of Edward's instantaneous despair. Alice, Emmett and Rosalie whipped their heads toward him, while Bella remained oblivious to it all. She was frustrated that the wolves were not responding to her pleas. Jacob Black would've been slobbering all over her by now.
"Hey, come on, I'm Switzerland," she said and took an unwise step toward a cinnamon-colored wolf.
"Bella, no!" Edward leapt in front of his bride and felt a burning hot fang sink into his marble-like flesh.
Emmett was finally getting that fight he'd been waiting for, and the Cullens were outnumbered two to one.
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
I have some exciting news! I've been published. :) My original novel "Three Daves" is now available at .com, and my short story I Don't Do Valentine's Day is part of a collection of romantic short stories in "A Valentine's Anthology," also at Omnific. Please stop by my Web site, .com, to check them out.