The Battle for Akakor-Part VI
July 15, 2010 Sun Temple after Ceremony 6:40 pm
The greatest moments I have enjoyed in my occupation have included attending the birth of a baby. There was something about participating in the miracle of new life that had always made me, a vampire, feel closer to God. It was no different when I delivered Leah and Nahuel's son, Sammon. Perhaps that closeness to God was enhanced by the presence of my new siblings, Samon, Chandra and Llasa. (Elizabeth and Dagda were apparently visiting with Edward and Renesmee along with the other guests in Llasa's Home Room.) It was wondrous and joyful. When that tiny little baby drew in his first startled breath of life, he let go with a holler that sounded like music as it echoed and bounced off the stone walls of the Sun Temple. There had been a collective sigh from everyone in attendance and then we heard hands clapping from the home room and an unfamiliar melody rose up from beyond the room as the native guests sang a song of welcome to the newborn baby. Interestingly enough, Sammon was distracted by the melody and quickly quieted as the voices continued the song to its conclusion.
I remembered Leah and Nahuel speaking to me on Zafrina, Senna and Kachiri's riverboat a year previously, about whether or not I thought they would be able to conceive. It looked as though I'd guessed right. As I looked at Leah holding her baby close, even with her hair damp from sweat and her posture one of exhaustion, I marveled. Nahuel leaned in and kissed her tenderly and they shared a look that was full of exuberance yet loving. Sammon found his thumb against his fisted hand and drew it into his mouth beginning to suck. The action caused both his parents to gush with wonder. It was a piece of heaven when someone brand new to mortality came to us from God, pure and innocent. Sammon looked absolutely perfect. His heartbeat ran as fast as his parents and his body temperature was hotter than that of a mere mortal.
I worked to remove the placenta and prepared Leah for introduction to her son. As I performed my task, I realized the birth of Sammon wasn't the only miracle to have happened in the lives of Leah and Nahuel. Leah had undergone a transformation since meeting Nahuel last summer. Where once she was consumed by bitterness, there was now a loving serenity, filled with a peacefulness. Where once she hated vampires with a passion that blazed with its fierceness, she was now married to one. Well, okay a hybrid, but she had thought of Nahuel as being one before her imprinting. Where once she felt shame at her apparent barreness, there was now happiness so intense it was euphoric. Also, where there had once been a profound sadness, a hurt so deep she had built fortress walls of protection around her heart to keep it from being further trampled. The problem with the walls she'd erected was that no one could get in to love her either. But with the magic of imprinting, those walls had crumbled to dust and her heart was made whole through love; a love that overpowered the hurt from the past; a love that came with a future; a love that burned through her resentments and prejudices and helped her find herself again. Leah had come home, full circle.
Nahuel had transformed as well. When I'd first met him on the 'battlefield' during our conflict with the Volturi, he had seemed quiet and reserved. Of course, he was also walking into a field of angry vampires, but he was lonely. He had his aunt, but was estranged from his father and his three sisters. For over one hundred and fifty years, he had not really found companionship of close friends or peers, let alone love. Now, having found that love in Leah, his heart had opened up and his entire countenance had changed. His face, once pensive, was now often stretched out into a wide grin. His countenance once grave, believing that he was evil no matter what he did because he had 'killed' his mother at birth, was now renewed by the understanding he was not to blame for that death. Since his mother had come to him last summer, he had been able to heal that painful misconception of himself. I was sure Leah had a hand in helping him as he'd worked through that heartache. Leah had been good for Nahuel. She had given him strength and self confidence. I firmly believed that behind every good man was a good woman. When I looked at Nahuel and Leah, that belief was reaffirmed. They really did compliment and complete each other. And now they were parents.
With the help of Esme and Bella, We quickly had Leah's delivery finished up and adjusted her blankets so everyone could meet the newest Clearwater. Sue was the first to embrace Nahuel and Leah before she took the baby from Leah's arms and rocked him gently. Charlie hovered over her shoulder and asked how it was possible that this baby had gotten the 'Charlie Swan' curls--a remark that had gotten a laugh. Sue and Leah were both smiling brightly while silent tears streamed down their cheeks. Seth was next to take Sammon into his arms. The baby yawned so widely it brought about chuckles as well. Leah told him her son was pretty perceptive to know his Uncle Seth would 'put him to sleep' immediately. Of course, she was just teasing her kid brother and he knew it. He'd told her in reply he just had that affect on babies for some reason. Naomi had thrown up on him just yesterday. There were more chuckles to this remark. Leah made sure Bella got to hold the baby next. It was evidence of yet another relationship that had changed for Leah. She was making every effort to include Bella in her special moments. Leah used to pride herself in intimidating Bella. I had to say, I really liked the new Leah. Few people actually broke out of their old conformities and embraced a different path. Usually, sooner or later, they reverted back to their original behavior. Leah had really 'become' a queen in every sense of the word. Perhaps she was returning to her original behavior, before life had beat her up so badly. Either way, the woman I saw in Leah right then was the true Leah.
It was as we turned the bed around to face the rest of the room, we felt a rumble under our feet as ancient gears ground into place. I knew in that instant we had reached the 7pm deadline and the danger had passed, defusing the hidden explosives and ensuring the safety of the inhabitants of the Amazon region.
Chandra was holding the newborn Sammon, when Dagda, Elizabeth, Edward and Renesmee came in the door. Everyone was looking at the baby. Charlie with his limited mortal senses had not noticed the new arrivals. He looked up at Chandra and asked, "I'm sorry, you look so familiar to me. I know I've seen you and these other two men somewhere before but still I don't think we've met. I am…"
Before he could finish Chandra finished for him. "…Charlie Swan, Police Chief for Forks, Washington. You are also father to Bella Cullen and now Nathan and Naomi Swan. You're the step father of Leah and Seth Clearwater. You are the father-in-law of Edward Cullen and the step Father-in-Law of Nahuel Clearwater. You are the grandfather of Renesmee Cullen and now of Sammon Clearwater as well. And you are the husband of Sue Swan." Chandra smiled at the shocked look on Charlie's face. "You're also the man that Felix Volturi regards as the man he'd like to emulate as a father figure. Honestly, I'm positive if Felix could find a way, you'd be his adopted father." There was muffled laughter before Chandra continued, her eyes sparkling. "You are very practical and down-to-earth and you're pretty good with 'weird'! You are also very loving and protective. You are loyal and true. You are a man who doesn't need fan fare or high drama. You are as humble as you are genuine. You are a man worthy of the many blessings you have found yourself surrounded by." She passed the baby off to Llasa who seemed to be excited by the prospect of holding someone so tiny, before she returned her gaze to Charlie.
"Well, I don't know about all the compliments but I am very lucky." Charlie had a look of embarrassment that turned to consternation on his face. "But how did you know so much about me? Was it Bella? If it was, you should take it with a grain of salt. Bella has always had a higher opinion of me than I deserved."
"It must be a daughter thing." Edward said as he came up behind Charlie carrying Naomi in his arms while her twin brother was brought in by Renesmee at his heels. "Nessie is always doing the same thing to me. It is at times embarrassing."
"Hello Edward. Thanks for keeping an eye on the babies for me." Charlie said by way of greeting as he gathered Nathan from Nessie's arms. I wondered if he were worried she might drop him. But Nessie would never have done so, even accidentally. She looked as though she was ten but she had the grace of a butterfly and the strength to defeat a grizzly. Either way, she didn't look worried as she handed him to Charlie. She even winked at him and kissed his cheek.
"Charlie, I am Chandra." She said as she extended her slim hand towards him. After shaking his hand she put hers on his shoulder before moving on to Sue and Seth with a similar greeting. After she was done with that she stood before them with her brothers behind her. "As I mentioned my name is Chandra, and this is my husband, Dagda" He stepped forward and greeted the three of them in a similar personal way, adding personal antidotes to each. "And these are my brothers Llasa and Samon." Again the introductions went around to the three individuals in the room who had not been previously introduced to the perfected beings. "There used to be only the four of us but now we have a new sister, Elizabeth," She gestured to behind Nessie where Elizabeth stood smiling.
"Hello! Charlie Swan, it is so nice to finally get a chance to meet you officially." She said as she beamed from ear to ear. Charlie about did a double take as his eyes went from Elizabeth's face to Edward's, down to his granddaughter's and then back to the woman addressing him. "Of course, being the fine police officer you are, I can see you're quick to pick up on the family resemblance. Yes, I am Edward's mother."
Charlie smiled slowly at her and it wasn't hard to see him trying to work out the improbabilities inside his mind. "I'm sorry; Edward had told me his parents had died of the Spanish Influenza in 1917." He blinked once and then added somewhat softer, "Are you a vampire, too?"
"Oh no Charlie, I am not a vampire. I did die in 1917. But that was, of course, just the death of my mortal human life. I have been kept busy since then. When your daughter Bella was born, I became her guardian angel." Elizabeth's voice was sweet and musical.
"You're a guardian angel?" He asked his eyes going wider in surprise. He looked to Sue as though she would confirm or deny Elizabeth's claim.
"Charlie," Sue said quietly to Charlie, for everyone to hear. "Please don't tell me that you can believe in vampires and werewolves, but angels are too far out there to believe in. From what you understand now, angels should be a piece of cake. Right?"
"Well, I guess I see what you mean." Charlie admitted sheepishly. He turned back to Edward's mother. "Sorry, Elizabeth was it?"
"Yes, and there's no need to apologize. It is a lot to take in." Elizabeth added easily. "All mortals are assigned a guardian angel at birth. So when Bella became a vampire, I was jobless so-to-speak, until I was assigned to become Renesmee's." She added looking down warmly at her granddaughter as she spoke.
"Edward, you're mother is an angel." Charlie said to Edward over his shoulder. His words brought about another round of soft laughter. Charlie was using humor to deflect his anxiety. His heart rate was slightly elevated and his face had flushed with a slightly pink undertone.
"That she certainly is. Although I've always thought she was an angel." Edward said unruffled. "Even when I was a little boy, I always thought of my mother that way."
Elizabeth looked over to her son fondly. "Thank you Edward. Your words are high praise for me. I suppose it was the same for you and me as it was for Bella and Charlie and Nessie and you, Edward. Children often see their parents as all wise and knowing."
"We're standing here speaking with an actual angel. I'm sorry if this is rude to ask, but you're not a ghost right?" Charlie added in sudden alarm. Elizabeth simply shook her head slowly once and Charlie relaxed again. "Angels! This is unbelievable."
"It's cool alright!" Seth joined in at his side. "Are all of you angels?" Seth seemed to skip entirely over the disbelief Charlie seemed to have struggled with.
Samon answered him smoothly. "In a sense we are. Some of our assignments are classified as angel assignments." Charlie seemed to mull that over in his head for a moment.
Hey, I remember where I have seen all of you before." Charlie sounded as though a light bulb had just gone off in his head. "You were in a picture from Bella and Edward's wedding." He turned to his daughter and added, "You know, the one you had over the Cullen's fireplace in the living room." Bella nodded in affirmation. A grin flashed across her face. Charlie was still putting the puzzle pieces together. "Wait a minute. Chandra, you said there were only six of you but Elizabeth, you said every mortal had a guardian angel assigned to them. Those numbers are WAY off."
It was Llasa who answered. "Allow me to explain. This is my temple opening after all." He said with a playful smirk in Chandra's direction. "There are many guardian angels called into assignments. Often they have a biological tie to their charge. However, there are many levels of beings in the grand scheme of things. There are many different kinds of assignments and many different levels of progression. We are six brothers and sisters that exist as perfected beings. The four of us," He gestured to him and Dagda, Samon and Chandra. "…are advanced perfected beings. Our parents used to be as well, though they have advanced beyond us in their own progression. Elizabeth and Carlisle are so young to this life that they are still very much in the process of becoming."
"OUR Carlisle?" Charlie sputtered. While I was mildly amused as Charlie processed all of this new information, I was gratified he thought of myself in a possessive group way. His use of the word 'our' made me feel connected to him as a friend and family, more than just peers from the small town of Forks. I had feared I would lose that closeness with him when he learned what myself and my family were.
Llasa's look was knowing and amused. "Of course! The good Doctor is above reproach; leading his family, deserting his natural instincts and choosing a better way while fighting to save human lives."
"Sorry, of course I do agree with you." Charlie said abashed. "It's just that he IS a vampire." He continued under his breath.
"Correction," Llasa added. "He WAS a vampire. And while he still is mostly a vampire, special changes have begun already. He is becoming something more."
Charlie looked directly at me. His expression became somewhat sheepish. "Sorry Carlisle. You are probably the best man I know, even if you really are a vampire. But to go from being a vampire to an angel—well, that's really somethin'."
"You're right Charlie." I told him as sincerely as I could. "It is beyond rational belief."
"He's right about more than just that," Dagda put in. "He was right about Carlisle being the best man/vampire he'd ever met. That was right as well. Most individuals go through their entire life without meeting someone of the caliber of our newest brother, Carlisle." His praise was embarrassing me while it touched me deeply at the same time.
"Of course he's not exactly becoming an angel, he's kind of passing that level, having completed those requirements during his long existence here on the earth." Samon added. That had even surprised me. I had not realized that. Esme looked at me with sheer happiness. She loved having my deeds praised. Her look was shared by Edward and Bella too. Charlie looked impressed. I began to feel a bit uncomfortable with the attention.
"It is a lot to process at once, isn't it Charlie?" I said. "Don't worry though; we all know how you're feeling. We went through the learning process last summer."
"How about that, Carlisle is going to be a high angel." Charlie mused. He spoke to me again. "Well, you've already saved my family how many times already?" He smiled at me. It was a little nervous but his heart rate had returned to normal and I was glad for that. He unconsciously rubbed his chin as he put more puzzle pieces into place. He swung back around to Llasa and asked. "Now, if guardian angels are assigned at birth, then does this newborn already have one?" He asked pointedly.
"Of course he does. He's already here. And he wanted to say 'hi' to his son."
"His son?" Charlie's tone was perplexed.
The answering voice was not Llasa's. But it was one Charlie recognized at once."Yes, my son, and the rest of my family too. I guess I can count you in on that one now, cant I?"
Charlie spun around to see as his old friend Harry Clearwater appeared out of thin air. "Harry?" He sputtered before he almost passed out. I was prepared to hold him up in the event that he did and Bella immediately took Naomi out of his arms.
"Dad!" Seth breathed at almost the same time Charlie spoke. He ran and threw his arms around his father's still materializing form.
July 15, 2010 The Battle For Akakor 7:00 pm
I was surprised when the storm system that saturated the ground with pelting rain, left as quickly as it had arrived. In the stillness following, I surveyed the damage we had sustained. There was one section of the wall that would need to be repaired and four homes had been completely destroyed. The palace itself had sustained minimal roof damage where an incoming missile had grazed it. Most of the damage centered around the Sun Temple, though it had miraculously been left untouched. I wondered if that was due to unseen protection. The water reservoir would need attention, and at the request of 'The Monkey Hunter', leader of 'The Invisible Warriors', I'd walked personally to the main courtyard to inspect deep pits that had opened up during the fight.
As I approached, I was surprised to notice the pits before me were not from the ravages of war, but were square and man-made. There were hidden gears that had been used to unearth large cavernous areas below. As I looked down into one of the darkened pits, I could easily see there were huge plates of Gold inside. They looked to be the size of large windows. As I puzzled over what they could be for, I gasped aloud. I turned to look over at the Sun Temple and started to look more intently at what was in that pit, sizing up the dimensions of the hidden treasure. It seemed as though the gold was sheeting for the temple. But it wasn't enough to cover the entire temple. I realized as I walked around the entire pyramid, that there were several opened pits and each contained more of the gold plating. I was told the pits had opened at 7 pm, the deadline for the ceremonies to be completed. I gazed up at the temple and wondered what was happening now.
We had lost three of our human warriors during the battle and a dozen more were severely injured. The city's healers were working with them now and I knew Carlisle would add his expertise to their own when he became available. All in all, I was very satisfied with our defense of the city. I knew it could have been much worse.
Still, we weren't exactly out of the jungle yet—no pun intended. The Volturi had promised to return—tonight—now, in fact. I hadn't even been able to get word to Carlisle. I knew it was likely the perfected beings had nullified Edward's gift inside the temple again so that option was out as well. As I thought through what we would say to the mighty Volturi, I noticed Alice as she approached me faster than a human's eye could see, though in the gathering darkness I doubted anyone would have noticed.
"Aro and Caius are coming Jasper." She said quickly. I was surprised that though her voice sounded urgent, she was calm. I could sense no worry about her. I sensed…relief?
"What do you see and when will they get here?" I asked her as I gathered her in my arms. After the last few hours I felt a sudden need to hold her close and reaffirm she was still with me. I would have died a thousand deaths if anything had happened to her. She was my life. It could have happened as easily as being in the wrong place at the wrong time with all of those missiles exploding. Even with her gift, if she'd been distracted and had not seen… I'd shaken my head and breathed slowly to cover the shudder that ran through me at the thought. Her words brought me back from my disturbing conjectures.
"They are coming and he will demand an audience with Carlisle. They will be here in fifteen minutes and Carlisle will not emerge from the temple for another thirty minutes. Aro will demand to wait in the palace. I see us taking them to the main room, where they will speak with Demetri, Felix and Mia and try to persuade them to return to Italy. This conversation will occupy them until Carlisle arrives with Edward, Bella, Zafrina, Senna, Kachiri and Eliazar. Everyone else will enter the palace through a side entrance and take Leah and her new baby upstairs to her quarters without the Volturi being any the wiser." Then her expression became somewhat perplexed. "The thing is, there is a woman with them--a woman who looks like a beautiful local woman from one of the many tribes around here. She is the reason Aro is in a good mood. I can't see anything about her though." She looked up at me and a small smile of apology played across her lips; as if her information wasn't valuable because it wasn't complete somehow. She was the most valuable person of my entire existence. And if it played out this way, perhaps we'd get off better than we dared to dream.
"I hope you're right." I told her. "Aro is never more dangerous than when he is pleasant and polite. He truly is 'The Two-Faced Man'. I guess the question really is, 'How do you keep a two-faced man happy?'" I added with a sigh before I cradled her to me and bent to explain without words how important she was to me.
We stood and held each other for a moment longer before I knew I had to prepare for the Volturi's arrival. The fewer humans around the better and I felt the hidden citizens of Akakor who remained in the bunker would be safest left there for the time being. I instructed the human defenders who were not upstairs injured, or caring for the injured to join the others in the bunker before I allowed Alice to explain her vision to our vampire-shape shifter elite forces, consisting of: Emmett, Rosalie, Huilen, Felix, Demetri, Mia, Jacob, Embry, Quil and of course, Alice and myself. As she spoke, I could see how it would play out in my mind. And I explained an idea I had to the others when she finished. When I was through, Alice smiled absently for a moment before announcing that my ruse would work.
We didn't want Aro to understand much about what was happening here in the Amazon. Aro liked to collect things and while he didn't care much for human politics, he might be of another persuasion if he felt it was a vampire hybrid and a Quileute werewolf coming into power. We felt it would be best if Huilen were to assume the role as hostess when the Volturi arrived. She was from the area and Akakor was now her home. She could suggest to Aro she had planted the thought in the heads of the human men around her to defend her home from the militia and then sent them back to their families. Her story would conclude by explaining that Zafrina, Senna and Kachiri had arrived with the Cullens to say 'hello' to her nephew before they headed back to the States.
We had all agreed on our roles when we became aware of the swift yet silent approach of Italian vampires.
"They are here." Demetri said as he pointed directly to the front city gate.
"If 'they' means 'us', your true family Demetri, then 'yes', 'they' are here." Aro's voice said quietly into the night.
"Are you going to leave us standing out here in the dark of night talking to a wooden door? I expected to be treated with more courtesy than that." Caius spat out.
I took a deep breath and prepared to settle into a calm and peaceful state that I could send out as needed. Caius would be a handful in that department. Already furious indignation rolled off him and hit me like a tidal wave. I had more to concentrate on than just Caius and his terminally cranky disposition. I knew I would have to keep close tabs on all of them. I signaled to Felix and Emmett who opened the massive wooden gate from the two sides and Huilen took over as lead.
Her English had improved greatly in the last few years and with it came confidence as she spoke.
"Hello Volturi leaders and welcome to my homeland. Won't you come in?"
"Well, finally someone with manners." Aro said in delight as Huilen ushered them inside the city proper. Aro looked around at the bonfires and smoking piles of rubble that littered areas of his view.
"Sorry about the mess. We weren't expecting company. If we'd known of your arrival, I'd have scheduled my war at another time." Huilen said with wry humor.
"War is an ugly business." Aro agreed amiably.
As we walked towards the palace with the company of Volturi and the strange woman with a fast beating heart, I began to wonder what they had done to scare her so badly. Also I noticed Huilen's emotions of animosity that she struggled to keep under tight control as she looked to the lady. It was clear she knew her as well…and didn't like her.
After arriving at the palace and settling into the main room, Aro was delighted to take in the refinement he was surrounded by. "This place is absolutely enchanting. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was the lost city of Akakor."
"You've heard of Akakor from your castle in Italy?" Huilen asked without a hint of the irritation I sensed building inside of her.
"Ahh yes! Of course I am well read in all the legends around the world, since I am essentially the President of the mythological world. All that is mysterious arouses my…curiosity." Aro said as he took a seat in a chair like a king sitting upon his throne. His pompous arrogance exuded from him with an air of self-importance. I worked to control it and settled back into a tranquil calm which I sent out again in the strongest wave I could.
Instantly I noticed Huilen's ire fade. And though Caius' mood seemed to settle a bit as well, his face remained set in a permanent scowl. I realized this was his relaxed facial expression after centuries of glowers and frowns. He eased himself gracefully into a chair beside his brother and looked disdainfully at the assemblage of 'subjects' before him.
"Huilen, where is Carlisle? We requested he be prepared to receive us upon arrival. His insolence will not be tolerated! We demand that you bring him at once. And we want to speak to your nephew, Nahuel as well." Caius barked out as though a command.
I was struck by the interplay between the two Volturi leaders. While they were both in complete control of their emotional state, they were essentially playing the roles of 'good cop'—'bad cop'. Aro behaved himself as the diplomat, while Caius' disposition lent well as the Gestapo. With Marcus gone, there was no sense of mercy between them just cold, calculating malice.
"I am sorry that Carlisle wasn't here to greet you personally. As it happens, our battle ceased just before your arrival and no one was able to be spared to inform him of your impending arrival or your request. He is being located as we speak. As for my nephew," Huilen said as she shot a quick glance at the dark skinned woman, "He is with Carlisle."
"Well, now that that is cleared up," Aro said as he rubbed his hands together in anticipation as though a game show host. "We can visit with our sons Demetri and Felix."
I felt a tremble of anger shoot through both of the mentioned vampires. I was sure it was in reaction to the use of the word 'sons'. Demetri tightened his arms around Mia's waist in what looked like a move to calm himself. I sent another wave of calm his way. He took a breath and regained his composure. I wasn't the only one to catch his minute movements.
"Oh Mia, how lovely to see you again dear," Aro said in his saccharin sweet voice. "And you are such a beautiful vampire; a beautiful Italian vampire. You will of course be welcomed back home in Volterra as Demetri's mate. Allow me to express my condolences over the loss of your baby. That was so sad, but your efforts were still appreciated."
"Hello Aro," Her tone was brisk. She hadn't been a vampire long enough to have learned better control of her anger. It had taken my focused effort on her alone to help her gain control enough for that clipped response. I didn't have to be a mind reader to guess at the response she wanted to give. I already knew she was furious at Aro for ordering Demetri to mate with another female to produce a hybrid for Aro to study. This had been one of the straws that had broken the proverbial camel's back and cemented Demetri's decision to leave the Volturi for good.
"Well, well, well," Aro's tone was almost distracted as he processed Mia's reply. He then turned to Demetri. "You are well aware it is almost time for your return to Volterra. I offered you a year to help Mia gain control of herself. She seems to be doing fine, even if the two of you have decided to become vegetarians." He said the word as though it left a sour taste in his mouth.
"Utter foolishness!" Caius interjected vehemently. His dander was up again.
"No Aro, Mia and I will not be returning to Volterra." Demetri responded slowly. "We have decided to make a home for ourselves without the demands my job description has placed on me in Italy." I thought he had put it very diplomatically.
"Ahh," Aro said with sudden understanding. "Perhaps I could rescind my recent request; in light of your new relationship with Mia."
Demetri wasn't fooled for a minute. He had already been married to Mia when Aro had issued his order in the first place. "No thank you Aro. Mia and I have other plans."
"But you are the best tracker in the world! How dare you withhold your talents from us, you insolent fool. After all that we have offered you. This is reprehensible." Caius tone was scathing.
Aro looked between Caius and Demetri, then to Mia. He templed his hands for a moment and then with a quick glance in Chelsea's direction his face turned from calculating to pleasant. "Patience brother, all children get to a point where they feel the need for independence." As he spoke, I could feel a change in mood around Demetri and Mia. They suddenly wanted to return to Volterra. It was almost a melancholy. I knew it was the influence of Chelsea's gift that had created this new feeling. I worried it would overpower them. The Volturi were under the bubble of Bella's shield.
Aro continued to speak, this time turning his attention back to Demetri. "Of course, you may leave us for a time. We are still family though. Once you are Volturi, it is always your true home." His eyes took on a sad cast.
'Right,' I'd thought. 'Just like it has been for Eliazar. That must be why he was one of the key targets they had singled out to destroy in their plans to attack and kill my family.'
"You know you will be welcomed back with open arms, both of you, whenever you are ready to settle down and join with us again. We will keep your room ready for such a day. We would even be willing to accommodate your new diet. You remember how tolerant we were of Carlisle during his stay with us over this very issue. Please think about it Demetri and Mia. You will be sorely missed." Aro said sighing in resignation.
And as he spoke I felt the feelings of Demetri and Mia both change as they resisted the pull of Chelsea's gift. They became a barrier that reflected back to Aro turning his into a melancholy mood of longing.
"We will bear that in mind." Demetri said stone faced as he met Aro's gaze head on.
After a moment of uncomfortable silence that I worked through, relieving the tension in the air, Aro turned his attention to Felix. I felt his discomfort grow. He knew how Aro and Caius manipulated those around them. He would have to be on his guard.
"Felix, surely you will be returning to Volterra with us?" Aro asked; his sad tone becoming almost happy with the prospect. "I believe Afton has been itching for a wrestling rematch with you and Caius has new guards waiting for you to train…" He left the thought hanging in the air as though to tempt him with them.
"Aro, Caius, I have been very happy serving you in Volterra. You have been my family for so long now that I have all but forgotten the brutality of my human life. However, I have a compulsion to 'expand my horizons' you might say. I am seeing for the first time another way to live and I need to explore it more fully. I guess you could say that I am seeking to find myself—my own independence." Felix said in what was probably the kindest tone I'd ever heard him use. Felix looked between Aro and Caius as he spoke. At the end of his speech, he cast a glance in Huilen's direction. Aro didn't miss that either. Even as he spoke I could feel emotional confusion rise inside of Felix. Chelsea had apparently turned her attentions to him.
"Am I to guess some of your exploration might involve those of a romantic nature?" Aro asked in surprise with a raised eyebrow. "Perhaps I should allow you to pursue such interests—encourage it even." Aro said as he eyed Huilen, who returned his gaze with a pointed stare. Then he looked around him at the opulence of the palace where she lived and it seemed as though his mistaken belief it was hers had his devious mind boggled with the possibilities. It wasn't hard to guess what he was thinking. He was thinking he could expand his power base through Felix into the Amazon and gain a stronghold on the American Continent in the process. "Let us part company as gentlemen, Felix. I am sure that you will be with us again. We are after all, family. Perhaps, it will even be that there will be a new Volturi arriving with you." Aro said as he cast a nod in Huilen's direction. Then he extended his hand to Felix. A gesture that had it been anyone else, would've been a form of salutation. But with Aro, it always entailed so much more than that. I worried about how Aro reading the new information in Felix's mind right now would affect the outcome of our gathering. Just the thought that he and Demetri had deceived him about the existence of Ava would be enough to incite the Volturi leaders.
Felix realized he was backed into a corner but I sensed the approach of the party from the temple. I sent a message to Edward to tell Bella to cover Felix immediately. I knew he was close enough to receive my thought. I only hoped he was listening. Finally Felix sighed and shook Aro's hand. Aro grasped it tightly and intently peered over it. After a brief moment he released it with a look of disappointment. "Bella," he muttered under his breath and I let out an internal sigh of my own.
"He has more than a skirt on his mind." Caius retorted in distain. "You can see his eyes as clearly as I can. The red is no more. He has been brainwashed by Carlisle as well. And speaking of Carlisle, where the devil is he? Surely he's been located by now!"
"I'm right here," came the familiar voice of my father and I let out another sigh of relief before renewing my efforts to maintain a certain level of calm around me and those in the rest of the room as I turned to the sound of Carlisle's voice in time to see him, Edward, Bella, and Eliazar enter the palace sitting room.
July 15, 2010 The Palace at Akakor 7:30 pm
"Carlisle, it is so good of you to finally join us. And good evening to the rest of you as well; Eleazar, Edward, Bella," Aro said regaining his diplomatic composure as each new arrival nodded perfunctorily in his direction. "And how is your enchanting daughter Renesmee?"
"She is fine Aro." Edward replied without further comment.
"Please don't tell me you have entangled yourself and your coven so completely in the affairs of humans that you are now waging their wars for them." Caius' tone was incredulous.
I hated leaving the sanctity and reverence of being with my new siblings; torn from the presence of a newborn baby, the miracle of birth, being surrounded by light and peace, to having to deal with Aro and Caius and all their dark conniving ways. Still, Aro believed himself to be correct. I had to remind myself they truly believed that if they didn't maintain order in our world, it would collapse. I looked at him intently with my new sight and was shocked to see how dark black his aura was. Caius' was if possible, even blacker. They were covered in dark beings, who clung desperately to them as though they were holding on for dear life, so uncomfortable to be out of their element and perhaps in my presence as well.
'Well, perhaps it would give me the home court advantage.' I thought wryly as I tried to ignore the vile, dark attachments the Volturi had picked up. "Good evening Aro, Caius." I inclined my heads to each of them in turn. "And to answer your question, 'no', I was not involved in the war. I was delivering a baby and tending to the injured. I can assure you, I came as soon as I learned of your arrival." Well, that much had been true. Llasa waited to tell me until after they were through with their visit though. I was grateful for that.
"Still involved with the affairs of mortals," Caius' sour voice matched his expression.
"Guilty as charged." I was surprised how easy it was to ignore his perpetual bad mood.
"Well, hopefully this delivery ended better than poor Mia's did." Aro added in resignation.
"Yes, it did. And I am so glad to see your concern for Mia's welfare." I replied amiably. I knew he cared nothing for Demetri's mate. Mia would be dead if it'd been left up to him. I was glad he was still unaware that their baby was alive and well. Seth had taken her up the backstairs along with everyone else in Leah's family, Esme, Shiloh, Migina and most of the Denali vampires.
"Yes, well, I have found another way to study the vampire hybrid breed, so I will be leaving Demetri and Mia here for a time." Aro said as though it was his choice to allow them to stay. I nodded my head in acknowledgment. I wondered what he was referring to when he spoke of the 'new way' he had found to study them. Did he know about Joham? I felt as though he didn't. Perhaps Aro meant to locate him before returning to Volterra.
Aro continued to speak, drawing me out of my thoughts. "And Felix will be staying here for a time as well. He will be acting as my ambassador to the people of the Amazon." I knew Aro was putting the best face he could on losing two of his upper guardsmen. He had his 'black hat' on as Stephen and Vladimir were so keen to call it.
'We should leave brother," Caius suddenly said. He knew there was nothing more to say that wouldn't involve them appearing stymied. "It is clear that we are not truly welcome here."
"Nonsense brother." Aro said in a wide smile. "We were invited."
I felt Nahuel's presence as he entered the room from behind me.
"Invited?" Caius spat out. "I'd hardly consider Jasper Hale telling us to come back later an invitation, Aro."
"Oh, I wasn't speaking of Carlisle's rude son. No, I was speaking of the invitation we received from this enchanting young woman here."
That was when Nahuel calmly came to stand right before the young woman who stood to the far left of the group from Volterra. She was an Indian woman who was beautiful and with a start I realized who and what she was.
"Matcha, what are you doing here?" he whispered urgently.
"Nahuel, hello it is good to see you too." She said with a grimace.
"Where are Tuia and Mandu?" Nahuel added with worry on his face.
"Oh, they're fine. As usual, you are most worried about them. Oh, and I am fine as well. Thanks for asking." The hostility coming off the young woman was very evident.
"Yes," Aro said interrupting the confrontation. "We were out looking for Joham and were quite surprised to happen across Nahuel's sisters. After a fascinating visit with them, we were able to convince Matcha here, to return to Volterra with us for an extended visit."
"Yes Tuia and Mandu weren't interested in seeing Italy," She said addressing her remarks to Nahuel. "But you know me brother; I grow tired of seeing the same green jungle for the last three hundred years. Aro wanted to study hybrids and I wanted to study abroad. It was a case of perfect timing." She added with a shrug. Her tone was still defiant, challenging.
"Matcha, are you sure you want to leave just now?" Nahuel's voice took on a tone of reconciliation. "I haven't seen you in over ten years. You could stay and we could have a nice visit."
Matcha rolled her eyes and sounded almost bored as she responded, "Tempting, but I think I'll pass. But I know you'll have a very nice visit with Tuia and Mandu. They were going to finish their hunting trip and stop by for a visit soon."
"Well," Aro said as he stood signaling the end of the conversation. "I guess we'd better get going before we get put to work rebuilding this wondrous city." His said with a chuckle. "It is always a pleasure to see you Carlisle, Eliazar."
As they departed the palace, Matcha looked back at Nahuel and said, "Oh, and if you happen to see Father, tell him I said 'hello'."
That reminded Caius as well and he added, "And that he'd better get in touch with us at once."
It was with that parting remark, the Volturi 'guests' left the palace and the city.
It was then that we were finally able to let out a final sigh of relief. I went at once to tend to the injured from the battle. As I cared for them, I marveled once again at the events that had played out that day. The most remarkable had revolved around the birth of Sammon, son of Leah and Nahuel Clearwater.
Harry appeared and had a joyful reunion with Seth and Leah. He gave his blessings to Sue and Charlie before announcing excitedly that he was to be the guardian angel for the newborn baby.
Another surprise had been Migina, who had, along with her brother Shiloh, had her true heritage revealed; a heritage that tied the two of them to much more than just the 'Children of the Moon'. I knew Billy and Jacob were in for a surprise. When Migina finally had an opportunity to hold Leah and Nahuel's baby, she'd imprinted on him. I had to admit, that had been unexpected.
Even Tanya and Kate were told by Llasa the circumstances surrounding their mother's creation of the immortal child. It was clear, as they listened to the unbiased account, their long held belief of their mother's blatant disregard for the law was altered. She had acted to save a young child whose parents had been killed in a mudslide. She'd heard the rumbling on the mountain and had tried to get to the little family to warn them in time, but she was too late. When she'd dug the three of them out, she discovered the parents were already dead but the little boy's heart still beat faintly. She knew Aro, Caius and Marcus and believed that their opinions concerning immortal children were flawed from the start and that with the proper guidance; she would succeed where they had not.
I was amazed later that evening as I looked around at my friends and family and realized once again just how richly my life had been blessed. Charlie wasn't the only one who had to make adjustments to what his understanding of reality was, we all had. The world operated on so many more levels than I'd ever dreamed and our eyes were only now being opened up to them. I was grateful I had made the effort to not let the circumstances of my reality, of being a vampire, change the foundation of my belief of good and evil. That had made all of the difference.
It didn't take long after the Volturi left, for the palace to settle into a peaceful, joyful state. Leah and Nahuel sat in chairs in the main room with their new baby. The local citizens were released from the bunker and they filed by to greet the new arrival before they returned to their homes for the evening. Tomorrow they would start the chore of rebuilding and repair. They would have a great future here in Akakor. It would be a truly great center for culture, learning and so much more.
I thought of how this had all come about. How we had planned an innocent visit to the Amazon last summer. Then Leah had needed an escape to come to terms with her feelings surrounding Sam and Emily's wedding. Of course, then Nahuel arrived on the scene with his jaguars. Bella and Edward found the 'Lost Treasure of Akahim' which Emmett inadvertently activated, which led to our knowledge of higher beings and the world around us got a little bigger. I had been shocked to learn of how my family had been hand selected to bring Renesmee into the world. And of course, I had been given a choice. And my world has opened up again as a result. Demetri and Felix had chosen to walk the 'path of light' and had been richly blessed as a result The Volturi and their dark ways had left once again in shame, unable to stand in the light. Even Seth had his sweet little Ava now to protect and watch over. And now, Akakor was being restored. This day had turned into one of deliverance instead of destruction. Leah, who had believed herself barren, had brought forth a son who, according to my new siblings, would be a legend in his own time. Yes, life had been good indeed…so far.
This is the traditional end to the Twilight fan fiction, 'Indian Summer'.
A/N: There really will be a total solar eclipse in July of 2010. However, it will be on the 11th not the 15th and to get the complete effect of it, you have to be further south than Brazil. (Argentina or Brazil…or some south pacific islands :)
I have links on my profile page to the story, 'Returning Moon—a Story about the Children of the Moon'. It is where I got the characters of Migina and Shiloh from. It is currently a work-in-progress on TTS. I also have new pictures up on my picture site of Leah and Nahuel's vision of their future family.
I really appreciate everyone taking the time out of their busy schedule to read my extremely long fan fiction! I was approached by some other authors about combining 'Indian Summer' with their own fan fictions and bringing the plot into the future ten more years. That story is called 'All Worlds Collide'. We are almost done with it. If we decide to post it here at fanfiction, I will have to post my second Epilogue that takes Felix and Demetri out of their happy jungle home and back working for Aro. Since when I started writing 'Indian Summer' that was never my intent, I will only post that epilogue if 'All Worlds Collide' posts here. Then you can decide whether or not to read it, starting with my second epilogue!
Thank you for all your wonderful comments and support!