Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Stephenie Meyer created this little world I like to play in.
Basketball42, MadisonBelle – I couldn't respond to your reviews because your PMs were disabled, but I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your comments.
I'm posting a day early, as I actually have to catch up on life tomorrow. I went to the Marcus Foster concert on Thursday night, and it was SERIOUSLY amazing. But I spent the day having fun with some girlfriends and have to make up for it – sad face. Nah…who am I kidding. IT WAS WORTH IT! If you ever get the chance to see Marcus in concert – GO! I can't even tell you how talented the man is, and seeing him in person is an experience you'll never forget. He had another musician with him - Ruston Kelly, who is just about as amazing and a really nice guy. Go check out his music, you can find him on the web. Tell him April from Atlanta sent you!
Of Lilith, it is told
That, ere the snake's, her sweet tongue could deceive,
And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
And, subtly of her contemplative,
Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,
Till heart and body and the life are in its hold.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
"My name?" I asked, as if I was flattered he wanted to know.
He straightened slightly at my lack of hostility. He wasn't past his suspicions, but it was apparent he was going to continue assessing me…and my purpose. "It is only proper that I know to whom I'm speaking," he replied in an elegant way. I wanted to laugh at his manners; what a prize.
Moving slowly over to him, I reached my hand up as elegantly as any of the "fair maidens" I'd slaughtered during the Middle Ages. Yes, he was cautious, but again his good breeding won out. He grasped it lightly with his fingers and bowed over them. As the moonlight caught on the red in his hair, my possessive nature won out.
He was mine, and I was going to do whatever it took to keep him.
When his presently-golden eyes looked up in expectation of an answer, I murmured, "My name is Lilith."
I didn't know what I'd expected. A flare of recognition perhaps, a startled gasp, some hint of appropriate decorum for the privileged knowledge I'd just given to him… my name, a name that only a few living and dead creatures knew. Instead, the boy's reaction was anticlimactic. I didn't know if it made me feel better…to know that his memory had truly been erased, because there was no conceivable reason to believe that with his sire's background and relatively extensive knowledge that Edward would not know precisely who I was, or to feel infuriated, because I shouldn't have been forgotten so easily. Rage flashed through me hotly, and I had to strain to keep my anger contained. Thankfully, Edward's head was still bowed over my hand, so he didn't observe my reaction. He nodded slightly before releasing my hand and stepping back. This action did anger me; I'd hoped that the tactile contact would progress just a little farther.
Patience… An ethereal whisper came into my consciousness.
I inclined my head slightly in acknowledgement of that command. After all, I had time to play with the child.
"Thank you for…" he hesitated and I wondered why "…for liberating me."
"Saving you…" I corrected, beginning to establish the story I would weave to mold him to my will.
His face twisted, pain and agony causing his muscles and skin to distort. "No…I wouldn't call this salvation." His hand went to his chest, pressing hard over his silent heart.
My children…and their simplistic, long held notions of mating, I sighed.
I'd heard it all…the tiresome drivel about love and the idea that there was "one" who completed each of us as no other. When I'd witnessed the phenomenon for the first time so many thousands of years ago, the happiness and peace between the "mated" pair, I'd destroyed them immediately. It was such an abuse of the power and freedoms I'd given them. Someone else had shown me another way. We were made, contrary to the notions of the one who'd created me, to be free to live our existences as we pleased in debauchery and lawlessness.
We weren't meant to be tied to lofty ideals, but to live as we saw fit and as our whims led us. Yet, it seemed that no matter the age, no matter how long my existence, that those ideas I'd rebelled against relentlessly and insidiously insinuated themselves into our world. Mating and love…it was but one of the things that had stained my plan and led it awry. For as long as my children, and theirs, had existed, even the most narcissistic of them all had searched for their "other halves." One such example was their previously acknowledged leader, Aro, who'd clung to his ridiculous, asinine mate; another, his sister's morose husband, having grieved millennia at losing his Didyme. Why didn't they follow their instinctive hedonistic natures?
There was NO such thing as love...it was but a myth!
A myth of biblical proportions… I cackled at the very thought. How ironic.
If I could destroy but one more thing, annihilate but one more example of the ridiculous plans of my maker, it would be this. Mate… Love… Communion… Togetherness and all the things you had to sacrifice in order to be a part of "one."
And it would seem that I'd been given the ultimate test in the man before me. The boy was still clinging to his mate…the woman he believed dead. He even seemed immune to my siren charms, but perhaps that was just because the loss was so new. What would it take?
Have him destroy her… The dark whisper came.
Hmm…. I couldn't help the cruel smile that spread across my face. Then I swiftly suppressed it lest Edward spy it.
A vision of Edward tearing his Isabella to pieces and burning her to ash thoroughly pleased me. It would warp and destroy his mind as nothing else when I informed him of what he'd done. Perhaps that was the puzzle piece after all. I'd keep looking for opportunities to seduce him and mold him into my own creation, but in that moment, I realized that I'd chosen the ultimate test of my abilities in breaking this one. In fact, I suspected that any of his "family" members would present the same challenge; they seemed just a little too convinced of the power of love.
So be it…
Isabella Marie Swan Cullen would never know what caused the hatred in her husband's eyes, but I would. As the years and millennia without the Cullens' influence stretched out in front of Edward and me, I would determine when to reveal to him just how base he was…that he'd destroyed his mate for the precepts of revenge. Then and only then, when I'd warped his mind to my designs, would I be able to teach him the freedoms of hedonistic pleasures and chaos.
The woman made me uncomfortable; although, I didn't know why. Her thoughts matched her words, and she'd delivered me from this coven she spoke of, so there was no basis to my discomfort…yet, it was there nevertheless. I felt confused. She'd known my mate, Maria. A pain seared through my mind at the name, and I felt off, as if it all didn't fit. Perhaps that was the basis of my hesitancy to trust this Lilith…the sense that all was not as it seemed. I remembered some things, such as the fact that I was something more than a mortal creature. I knew I had strengths far outstripping these creatures. I recognized the concept of a ship and the vastness of the ocean water. I knew the words we spoke between us and how to converse, but for as to whom I really was…nothing…empty….lost.
I heard a voice in my head saying my name, or at least the one the woman had told me I went by. But this voice…it was full of warmth and love. Funny that I could remember that feeling and put a name to it, but not know, other than her name, anything about the woman that had loved me. Sensations of being caressed ran across my skin. Suddenly, the fact that I was still holding another woman's hand, albeit in as a form of proper introduction, seemed entirely wrong. I didn't want to insult the woman before me, so I barely kept myself from snatching my hand away. Forcing myself to retain a measure of civility.. and where did I get that, I wondered, I gently released her hand and stepped back…but not before I caught a glimpse of pure maliciousness in her features.
All was not as it seemed…
For now, I would play along with this woman in order to hear her thoughts and ascertain the information I needed to annihilate this coven that had destroyed my love.
My love. The pain seared again and the need for revenge filled me, making me almost dizzy. If it was the last thing I did with my existence, I would destroy these Cullens. I would tear them piece to piece in Maria's name. Moving toward one of the metal walls of the ship, I lowered myself, wrapping my arms around my knees and staring out across the water. I needed to think…
I heard her moving, directing the other person on board to take us to a port in Africa. It was then that the pounding of something drew my attention, and I took notice of the burning in my throat. Instinct told me that my need could be satisfied by the luscious sound, but for now I wanted to focus on these feelings of being caressed. Of "my love."
I needed to remember this woman filtering through Lilith's head. Maria. I would steal Lilith's thoughts and allow myself to indulge in the feeling of a hand moving along my flesh for just awhile, and then I would begin to plan the destruction of the Cullens.
"Lilith…" The name was garbled, the thought absolutely incomprehensible.
Jasper moved to stand before the desk, leaning over to stare into my eyes. His look was demanding and authoritative. The others had frozen, but how many from their own knowledge of the mythical female or how many from the stress evident on my face, I didn't know.
"Carlisle?" he prompted peremptorily, desiring an answer from me. Anata had moved to my side, her hand still trembling on the spread pages of the copy of the Talmud she'd thrown down in front of me. Esme's hand brushing down my arm gave me the focus I needed. Looking out over our family and friends, I shook off the shock.
"Lilith, or at least the myths of her…"
Anata scoffed, and I looked to see her eyebrow raised again. Her point was made; we were in the midst of urban legends and myths. It would behoove me just to state the facts rather than argue about her existence. I inclined my head slightly in respect to Anata.
"The first known writings of Lilith date back to before 3,000 B.C. She was considered a demon." Esme grumbled beside me, knowing that for so long, I'd considered us nearly as such given our primal nature. Clearing my throat unnecessarily, I went on, "She has intrigued multitudes of scholars, and her legends abound in many cultures and across the span of documented history. She is ascribed to have many different purposes and personas."
"Most are evil?" my wife questioned, asking for hope.
"All accounts are," I answered her, wishing I could soften the blow. "To be honest, I'm not as knowledgeable as I should be." However, there was one that obviously had a degree of understanding above and beyond my own. "Anata?"
The raven haired beauty drew herself up, unused to being the center of attention. Her burgundy eyes widened before she turned to see the others watching her and waiting.
"Please," Nessie begged, seeing Anata's unusual shyness. Jacob and Seth stood by Ness; William,
Victoria, Ellie, and Stefanie fanning out between where she stood and Bella sat.
Turning to Jasper, Anata calmed, but I didn't think it had anything to do with my son's gift. "The Talmud speaks of a demon, one that Adam sired more demons from after he was forced out of Eden for disobeying. There are other accounts as well, and many thoughts of just who she is."
"Father Paul said that she was the serpent that caused Adam and Eve to eat the apple." Victoria piped up. I nodded to her. This account would place Lilith in the Garden of Eden, interfering long before "the fall."
Anata smiled at Victoria before speaking to the rest of us. The child had been the impetus for this knowledge coming to light; we'd all heard her questioning and the triplets' statements that had led Anata to this quest. I just hadn't known why Anata flew into the room until she flipped to the first notation of Lilith in the Talmud. The reference to Lilith stealing unsuspecting men from their homes at night to mate with was the basis of the bastardized vampire/succubus folklore that Tanya and her sisters had fulfilled so nicely before Nahuel. Even now, Tanya's sexual allure was apparent as she stood by her mate, Carmen, Kate, and Garrett.
"There is more," Aden said quietly, stepping close. "Carlisle, in the Torah there are many indications that she wasn't a demon or just the serpent. There is some belief, in certain circles, that she was Adam's first wife. A wife who self-exiled from Eden because she wouldn't abide by the rules."
I heard the gasps at his words.
"Her name is used to promote the epitome of feminine freedom," Alice said quickly.
"Lilith Fair, women's rights, those are all positive!" Emmett argued. He might act like a chauvinist at times for laughs, but Emmett's belief in the sanctity and power of his mate and his female family members were very strong. No one supported the independence of women more.
"There is no doubt that her image has also been used for good," Anna murmured. She and Henry had moved to Jasper's side while he'd turned back to stare back down in speculation at the aged text Anata had brought us.
Rose looked over and caught my attention. "That her name has been used for the good isn't important here. Is this truly that woman, Carlisle?"
Deep warmth radiated within me, at the change in Rosalie's relationship with me. It was times like this that it truly hit me, just how much Henry and the events of the last few years had gone to heal the deep wound within her. "I…don't know." Then as an afterthought, I added with deep fear, "I hope not." For if it was truly Lilith and even a small part of the legends were true, Edward had been captured and was surrounded by an evil the likes of which we'd never known.
Jasper straightened into a military stance before giving his directions. "Alice, you and Emmett scour the internet for every reference to Lilith you can find. Anata…"
She interrupted him. "I'll take the ancient Babylonian legends. I may have forgotten most of them, but I at least know where to start looking now that we have a focus."
"We do have a focus don't we, Carlisle?" Eleazar, my oldest and dearest friend, asked and then looked to Carmen with fear.
I closed my eyes for the barest of moments, letting the idea sink into my bones and psyche, waiting for any sign…any sign…that we were wrong. I knew that I was looking for the answer, and that I would know if we had indeed chosen the wrong path. Instead, that force that had been motivating me to get to Volterra seemed to hum. There was no desire to search elsewhere, and had I been able to, I would've cried over that.
Edward… my son… I couldn't imagine what he was going to face before we rescued him. For rescue him we would.
"Yes," I slowly answered both Eleazar's question and those left unspoken in our family and friends' faces. With my announcement, the room blurred into activity, various individuals claiming bits and pieces of the search.
"I'll take the Torah and Islamic literature," Aden noted. "Unless we know of a messianic Jewish vampire, we'll have to rely on Allah's direction."
Eleazar's foundation in Catholicism had him already muttering about the books that had been left out of canon. Benjamin's mumblings made everyone aware that the known accounts stated that Lilith had spent the majority of her time in Egypt; he and Tia would be following up with acquaintances they still had in the area.
Heidi motioned to Demetri, Louis, Felippe, Annius, Tancred, and Duarte. "We'll take Marcus' private library, along with perhaps, Henry and Anna." She waited to receive a nod from Henry…knowing that he held everything of his uncle's in great esteem. Upon seeing his agreement, she breathed a sigh of relief. "Master Marcus was perhaps the most inquisitive of the three about the creatures that existed upon this earth. I suspect he would have documentation about ancient cultures like Anata's."
Louis, at least, brought some joviality to the situation. "Well, all the English have are some fairly erotic paintings of a blond haired, voluptuous woman. We're too modern in comparison, but at least we're better than you Yanks. Everything you have has been turned into Hollywood movies."
I couldn't help but smile a little at his observations, and shook my head briefly in amusement.
"Well, the Irish are a wee superstitious lot," Siobhan announced from the doorway, Maggie and Liam just beside her. She nodded to me as I couldn't help but smile at their timely and welcome arrival. Gratitude for our loyal friends overwhelmed me, as I knew the Amazon Coven was on their way as well to aid us. But for now, Siobhan was here, and she moved gracefully over to us, kissing Esme's cheek before taking my hand and squeezing it gently. "I'm certain there are tales of this woman buried within our fine folklore somewhere. We'll find him, Carlisle, and we will…" she emphasized the word "…bring him home."
"Is that just hopeful thinking, or are you envisioning such an outcome?" I asked, choking on the words.
"Both," the Irish vampire said with a resolute nod, before turning to find Bella sitting in a chair, her legs crossed, with a calculating look that was warring with fear.
She'd been this way since hearing the woman's name pass my lips. I knew that Bella hadn't been particularly religious as a human, but there had been no disguising the horror in my voice and what it most likely meant. I hadn't thought to protect her either mentally or physically, since Datuu, Myval, Lance, Gimhae, Fred, and a still William-leery Brianna shifted around my daughter, as if guarding her from unseen forces. Bella looked to her side as the young woman touched her shoulder briefly. That the five-year old vampire did so was a testament to how much she'd grown from her incarnation as the ancient woman's assassin against me. Jasper and the others in the Guard had molded both her and Fred into efficient soldiers and scouts with lethal skills. Yet she was still very much a warm girl with an especial affection for Bella.
My lack of nurturance became apparent as Siobhan moved through the guards pulling Bella up into a motherly embrace.
Shame washed over me as I realized I hadn't gone to her as the discussions began. But almost like she was the mind reader, Bella looked over to catch the guilty look on my face as Siobhan held her.
She saw straight through me and shook her head slightly, before saying, "Carlisle, stop. I would much more prefer that you are using your energy to plan with Jasper."
At the mention of my son's name, everyone turned to him again, but it was Henry who spoke. Holding Anna's hand, his thumb rubbing over the top of her hand gently, he announced, "Twenty four hours… We'll meet here in twenty four hours – no more, no less. I don't want to even waste that much time, but we need to do a thorough job of research. Alice, have Sue and Charlie call Sam. See if he will go speak with Father Paul. I have a feeling the priest may be able to shed some light on this for us." Turning he looked at the Spanish vampire. "Eleazar, if you would go to the Cathedral. Perhaps those in charge there might have even more information than we do here at the castle."
"Actually, Henry," Eleazar spoke. "I can do better than that. I have a contact at the Vatican who can help me find information on Lilith." He paused with a small smile. "The rumors of secret libraries in the Vatican? Well, they're true."
My eyes widened at his words. I had dismissed that story as mere urban legend and fantasy popularized by a recent movie.
Henry nodded, and looked around to all present. "It seems we all have directions to follow, so let's divide and conquer…" Jasper nodded in brisk agreement. And with that, we all scattered.
Would love to know your thoughts?
As always, I can't thank ColdOnePaul enough for his faithful editing. He keeps me on my toes and makes sure that this comes to you with a degree of intelligence.
I would also like to thank Crystal and Dawn for their pre-reading, notes, and corrections. I feel like I need a Team Full Moon Rising shirt for them! ;)