Title: Bloody Morning: The Prologue
Characters/Pairing: OCs. And Alec. And the rest of the Volturi. If you couldn't guess.
Summary: For every vampire, there is a vampire hunter. Her goal is impossible. Her reasons are irrational. Her mind is set. Camilla Willard has a bone to pick with the Volturi.
Warning/Spoilers: You'll see swearing sooner or later. Oh, and this occurs after BD. However, this is not a Cullen story. They will be mentioned, but not shown. Everything the characters say is in Italian unless noted otherwise. The Twilight world in this fanfic is blended between the movies and the books in the way I see fit.
A/N: I wrote this because I could. As I simply hate the way Twilight!vampires are indestructible to human beings, I made them able to be killed by a special weapon and are able to be severely burned by holy water . . . because I could. 8D As long as the vampires sparkle and are almost impossible for humans to destroy, I'm fine with whatever weaknesses I give them. If you aren't, I'll smile.
Also. Making this AU in only a few aspects because I could. Alec and Jane were seventeen when they were turned and have their movie!heights, because a kid taking down 1000+ year-old vampires is ridiculous. Jane just happens to have a high voice that sounds like a child. :P
Also, please forgive the air vent thing. That'll be the only majorly unrealistic, WTF-worthy thing in this fic, I promise. :D
Yup. Enough of my rambling, yeah? XD Beta'd by Kaleidoscope Flowers. Reviews are loved, but not necessary to my survival.
Dedication: To Aly-la-Advisor, for putting up with my erratic PMs, questions and plot bunnies. Thanks for everything. :D
· The Prologue ·
I still remember the incident that ripped away every shred of innocence, ignorance and sense of security I had as if it were yesterday.
In actuality, it was six years ago.
I was eleven. We were on vacation in Volterra, away from our poor house in Potenza for once. "Mom," I sang, coming up to grab my mother's hand. She smiled and glanced down at me. "What's this place?" I asked with a gesture to the house that she'd led me to.
"This is our vacation house, dearest," she stage-whispered to me. In front of me was a two-story building made out of sienna-colored stone with a slightly reddish-tiled roof. It looked exactly like the other buildings I'd seen before, and I couldn't find anything remarkable about it. "Your father gave this to me as a gift. He built it himself, so we don't have to pay anything for it."
I smiled, finding that hard to believe. "It looks awesome, Mom. Better than the one that we have in Potenza. If it's free and we just have to pay the bills instead of the mortgage, why can't we move here?"
My mother's face became fearful. "Before he died, your father told me to never move here permanently, and stay away from . . ." She trailed off.
"From?" I prompted, raising an eyebrow. She pressed a hand to her forehead.
"I'm sorry, sweets. I don't remember." Her lower lip trembled and I gave her a hug. After the accident, my mother started showing the fact that she had a hard time remembering things—often they were little, like when Valentine's Day was or what my Aunt Chiara's hair color was.
I patted her arm. "It's okay, Mom."
"D-do you still run track?" she asked suddenly.
I blinked. Why did she stutter? "Why?"
"Yes, I do. Fastest one on the team," I boasted, gesturing down to my sneakers. "Bet you I can run to that lamppost down the street and come back in twenty seconds."
My mother chuckled. "Go ahead, dear. I'll be counting."
"Don't do the steamboat thing, but don't do onetwothreefourfive either," I warned, sticking out my tongue at her. She smiled and nodded.
I took a deep breath and launched myself away from her. This place was a desolate neighborhood, our vacation house being the only building on the street, which was probably why my father had chosen it. I touched the lamppost at the corner and ran back to my mother.
"Fifteen," she said as I flew past her. I skidded to a stop, catching my breath and doing the breathing exercises in seven.
I smirked. "Told you," I said when I could talk without panting.
She continued smiling and took my hand. "You feel like going out sightseeing? It is our first day on vacation."
I shrugged. "Sure. Let's go see what they have. I'm in the mood for some spaghetti."
The sky was overcast and the sun was nowhere to be seen.
My mother led me down the twisting turns of the street and emerged in the main square, in front of the clock tower. We had passed a pizzeria on the way, but I didn't mention it to her. She probably wanted to go to a nice, sit-down restaurant with me. Like she always did.
"Mom," I said suddenly, "Do you think anyone would miss us? I mean, we've only got each other."
She looked at me oddly. "Why do you think that, cara mia?"
"I don't know. Just wondering," I replied, shrugging. And then she caught my attention.
A woman wearing boots, jeans and a figure-hugging red shirt was talking about something to a group of captivated tourists. The woman turned around to lead them to the building by the clock tower and stopped at the sight of us. She beamed, her creepy violet eyes glinting. My mother made a noise in the back of her throat and made a move to leave. I stood rooted to the spot, enchanted by her odd eyes.
She reached us before we could leave. "Hello. My name is Heidi. I'm giving a free tour of our magnificent city and I'm just about to go to the clock tower, then to the ruins. Would you like to join us?"
My first thought at seeing Heidi was that she was beautiful—inhumanely so. My mother relaxed at something, despite the fact that the shirt's neckline would've made her faint if I wore it, and nodded.
"Um, Mom? What happened to going to a restaurant?" I asked, grabbing her arm, half-expecting her to start floating towards the tour guide.
She blinked, coming back into focus. The tourists behind Heidi continued talking, not paying attention to us at all. "Oh. Oh, right. Well, dear, I'm sure we can do that afterwards, hm? The wait will just make you hungrier, which is a good thing." She patted my head.
"Mom, I'm not sure this is a good idea," I warned. Heidi gave me the creeps. My mother paid me no mind and smiled at Heidi, giving a small nod.
"Are you sure this is free?"
"Absolutely," Heidi said. She turned to stare at me and I shivered. Those violet eyes freaked me out. Despite my protests, my mother grabbed my wrist and took a place at the end of the line. She didn't lead us to the clock tower—instead; we took a turn around it and went to a narrow, slanted dead end. I didn't even notice the manhole in the street until she helped a woman climb down it.
A man lingered by the entrance to the dead end and stared at us as we passed. He had blonde hair, a fair complexion, and yellow eyes that, if you looked long enough, seemed to glow in the daylight. What was with the people of Volterra and having strange eyes? I took a deep breath and tried lag behind with my mother. "Stay together!" Heidi cooed. My mother quickened her pace, practically dragging me along. "I don't want any of you getting lost. This is a big place, after all."
She helped me jump down into the abyss, following after me. She pushed through the crowd and led us through the frighteningly dark corridor illuminated only by torches. "Now, this is one of the many passageways built during the late 1400s . . ." she began, walking forward and making gestures with her hands. Tourists raised their cameras to take pictures. It was dark, cold, and water hit my head every so often. I could hear tiny little squeaks and scratches—rats? With every minute, I grew increasingly worried. This was a very, very bad idea.
At some point we had to go through a door that looked like it was fit for a prison cell. Finally, we reached the end of the hallway and Heidi pushed open a thick wooden door, gesturing for us to follow her. We were led into a brightly lit reception room. It was warmer here, for which I was grateful. She nodded to the receptionist and went to another part of the hallway.
We followed her like lost puppies. At the end of the hallway were two sets of doors that I guessed to be elevators. Heidi pressed a button, summoning one. "We're just using the elevators for convenience. The real Etruscans had to use the flights of stairs. If you'll follow me, I'll lead you to the throne room used by monarchs of Italian city-states!" she called. We were forced to trail the cluster of tourists that instinctively went after her.
"Mom," I began when we left the elevators and entered the hallway leading into another furnished, modern lobby. A chill was starting to set in. "I want to leave. Please."
"Nonsense, sweets. I promise once we see the throne room, we'll go to the restaurant," she said with a vacant smile.
I bit my lip. I had a funny feeling that this wasn't going to end well.
Heidi threw open the doors—instead of a throne room, like I'd expected, it was another ornate hallway. She led us past several golden doors and stopped in the middle of the hallway, sliding a panel away to show a plain wooden door. She smiled at our puzzled expressions. "The residents of Volterra used this to hide from any invaders that got past their walls. This is where the throne room is. If you'll follow me, please?"
I wrinkled my nose. All of her explanations for things sounded like total bull, but the tourists were hanging on her every word. Typical—they were probably Americans who happened to know Italian. This was an unsettling tour.
She pushed open the door, ushering us inside. Seven other people were waiting for us, clothed in various colors that would've been nondescript on the street. Their anticipating smiles gave me shivers. As soon as I walked in front of the open doors, they slammed shut of their own accord and the eight went into action.
Screams echoed up around the room, mine included. I stood, rooted to the spot, as a brown-haired girl appeared next to a fat man and smiled at him. His knees buckled underneath him, and I could see his veins sticking out of his neck as he screamed in agony. She grabbed his head and attached her lips to his neck. I could only watch in horror, paralyzed, as extra blood trickled down the side of his throat. The man's tan complexion soon faded and she licked the stream of excess red, leaving a watery stain in her tongue's place. The girl dropped the corpse and went after someone who wasn't me.
I blinked, vision going hazy. None of those things had gotten to me yet. I ran as fast as I could to the wall, far away from the monsters. I inched along the sienna brick, watching the carnage around me. Something bumped into my fingers and I looked down to see a large rusty air vent. It was the size of an outdated radiator, something that seemed like it had been built during its early stages. It was crazy, but people did this all the time in the movies.
I knelt down and pulled at the slats. Some of them crumbled at my touch, while others didn't budge. I looked back at the monsters and the screaming tourists, hoping the screams covered my attempts to escape. It was probably really stupid, but I didn't care. Any chance to get out of this place was better than nothing.
Finally, the rest of the air vent crumbled into dust. I sneezed, wiping it out. There was another scream and I turned, against my better judgment, only to see a blonde man bite my mother's neck. I had the sickening feeling that my heart had stopped, but a quick check of my pulse proved me wrong. My scream joined hers and the few others that were still alive. I wanted to run to her, throw off the blonde man, but I knew I couldn't. It was too late for her.
I crawled into the air vent, blinded by tears. It was a tight space, but I managed to keep going. The screams finally ceased and I stopped halfway through my escape, my shoulders shaking too hard for me to carry on. I started moving again, covering an inch or two every time I tried to move.
It was getting hard to breathe and I was starting to feel claustrophobic. I just knew I had to get out, away from those things. I inched my way up, kicking the sides of the vent and sucking in my gut sometimes to get through tight spaces. Finally, I crawled over another entrance to a vent. I couldn't see what it was, exactly, but it appeared to be a bathroom or something. I examined the slates covering the opening, trying to determine how to open this one. It wasn't as rusty as the thing I'd used escaped the room, so it probably wouldn't open or disintegrate as easily.
How did they do this in the movies?
I couldn't concentrate anymore. I was too worn out from the climbing and I was sure the shock would leave and I would start sobbing about the death of those people. Those poor, poor people—my mother! Heidi had led us into a trap, I was sure of it.
I laid my head down on the cool metal bars and closed my eyes.
I woke up to absolute silence and the scent of smoke. It made my eyes water. I stared at the opening in the vent again and suddenly remembered why I was there—to escape the things that'd killed my mother. I turned over on my back with difficulty and kicked the vent opening with my feet, expecting it to fall open so I could drop to the floor with safety.
Instead, nothing happened.
I sighed and slammed the side of the vent with my fist, tears of frustration appearing in the corner of my eyes. Pain shot through my knuckles and I hissed, cradling my hand to my chest. After waiting for several minutes, I kicked it again and it made a squealing noise. I adjusted to a more comfortable position, and with new hope, kicked it with both feet as hard as I could. I probably looked like someone doing the Worm.
The noise of clattering metal echoed, and suddenly my feet were free. I was grateful that the monsters didn't pay much attention to their large, outdated ventilation system. Soon, by inching my way forward, it was just my torso keeping me put on the inside of the vent. Briefly, I wondered what the reaction of someone would be if they walked in and saw a pair of legs dangling in the room, but pushed that to the back of my mind. I was having a lot of luck so far, and I wasn't going to jeopardize it.
I closed my eyes and inched forward again. I fell slightly and got caught, stuck because of my middle. "Dammit," I muttered. It was the first time I'd used a swear word in my life. I closed my eyes, sucked in my gut and raised my arms, and suddenly I was falling. Metal chafed against my arms, making me wince. I hit the floor on my feet and collapsed when pain exploded in my ankles.
I waited for the shock to end, curled up into a ball. Eventually the pain of the landing faded, and I discovered red marks on my arms. When I could move again, I turned over and got on my knees, leaning over and vomiting on the tiled floor. The door opened and a man walked in, stopping at the sight of me.
I felt much better after throwing up. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, cleaned it with a paper towel, and limped to the door. "Get out of this place," I said to him as I slipped past the door. A quick look around told me that I was on a high floor level of some building. The receptionist's desk wasn't far away. I swallowed hard and looked for something that I recognized.
Giving up, I went to the receptionist's desk. "Excuse me," I whispered softly. She looked up at me, her expression patient but detached. She appeared unconcerned with my disheveled appearance. "Which is the way to the exit?"
She smiled at me. "Follow the right hallway around the corner to the first set of elevators. The lobby is two floors down, and exits to the street." I turned on my heel, not even bothering to give her a thank you. "Have a nice day!" she called after me.
As I walked, the surroundings started to click in my mind. I stood alone in the elevator and couldn't even smile at the cheesy tune. It only reminded me of Heidi's smiling face as she led us all to our deaths. I stepped out of the elevator when the doors opened with a small ding, and bolted to the entrance of the building as soon as I saw it.
I managed to wrap my hands around the door handle before a set of hard, freezing, strong arms wrapped around my stomach. "There you are, girl," Heidi cooed. I looked over my shoulder, my hands not loosening from the cool metal handles. Her violet eyes were more vivid than they had been when she was leading the group of tourists to their deaths. Her beauty was almost paralyzing, and that scared me. "Your mother's looking for you!"
She was lying. I tried to squirm out of her iron-like grip, but couldn't. "Tell her that I'm with my dad, then. She knows where he is."
Heidi frowned and let go of my middle, wrapping her hand around my arm instead. Cold seeped from her skin into mine. I couldn't help shivering—at both the temperature and the ferocious look in her unnatural eyes. "No. She wants you to stay with her for the rest of the tour and sent me to find you."
I started thrashing. "Let go of me, you monster!" I shrieked. "I don't want to die!" Her grip only tightened, prying my hands from the door handle. I pounded on the glass doors. "Those tourists—they're dead! My mother's dead! You're responsible for the murder of my mother and all those people!"
She looked around quickly to see if anyone had heard, hissing under her breath.
That was probably what had saved me.
The man I'd seen earlier, before we were led to the massacre, was outside of the building. He must've moved from the dead-end alley. Looking up at my shouting, he frowned and straightened from his casual stance. Heidi tugged on my arm and I wrapped my free hand around the door handle.
The monster reached around me to pry my hand off and I screamed as loudly as I could. She winced at the pitch and suddenly, the man was inside the building with a hand on my shoulder.
"She's with me," he said coolly. Heidi narrowed her eyes.
"Her mother sent me to bring her back. She's worried sick because her daughter's been missing."
"Tell her that she's with her father. We were supposed to go to a restaurant before you came along and asked them if they wanted to join the tour."
Heidi faltered. So did I. I hadn't seen him around the clock tower, so I had no idea how the heck he knew that. Lucky guess, maybe? I didn't care. I held on to my new lifeline, scared out of my wits.
"I didn't see you there," she purred. "So . . . darling." Oh. Now she was using endearments on me. I narrowed my eyes. "Is this man your father? Do you recognize him at all? I can call security if you want."
I shied away from her cold skin and into the man's warmth. At first, it seemed too hot, but it was probably normal temperature. After all, I'd been held in Heidi's icy grip for such a long time. "Yes, he is." I lifted my head to stare at her dead-on, trying to keep a straight face. Whenever I lied, I usually smiled, but there was nothing funny about the situation now. Her expression soured.
"I don't believe you."
She reached for me again and the man punched her in the face. There was a sickening crunch and cracks appeared on her cheeks and nose, like she was a glass doll. I shrieked, moving away from both him and Heidi. My back pressed against the glass door. The handles dug into my flesh painfully.
While Heidi was momentarily stunned, the man hoisted me up onto his back. "Hold tight," he muttered. I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face in the crook of my elbow. I heard the door open and then wind rush past us. Jeez, he must've been a fast runner. Something splashed onto my body, drenching me, and I looked up to see the man pouring some kind of liquid over his feet with one hand. Then he readjusted his grip on me and he was running.
I saw someone dressed in a dark gray cloak appear in an alley. The man swerved away from them and finally set me down at a gate leading out of the city. Sienna gargoyles stared outside gloomily. Fields and mountains stretched as far as the eye could see. "Can you run?" he asked me. Trembling, I nodded. More people dressed in gray appeared, looking around. I thanked God that the crowd was large today. They hadn't seen us yet.
"Then run. Go!"
I didn't need him telling me twice. I took off, wishing I'd put my long hair up into a ponytail. The man appeared next to me, not even seeming to be out of breath. He pulled me into a cave, where a shiny, red, expensive-looking car awaited us. I stopped, tilting my head and giving him a look of confusion. I'd been expecting a Vespa, not a car—only the ridiculously wealthy could afford one. He shrugged in response and opened the door. "If you want to live, get in the car."
I followed his orders without hesitation, slipping inside the backseat. He started up the car and waited in silence for a few minutes. "Okay, they went to the other side of the city." He floored the gas pedal and I closed my eyes, thanking God again that I'd had the sense to put on my seatbelt.
That was when I got over the shock and started crying.
I was embarrassed to cry in front of this guy, because I rarely cried—and when I did, it was loud, obnoxious and made my face red. I tried to quiet the noise as much as I could, but it didn't work that well.
He listened to my sobbing in silence. "How'd you survive?" he asked when I'd stopped wailing like a banshee. Now, I was sniffling, and I gazed at him with tears still dripping down my cheeks. "No one usually lives through the feedings."
I looked at him and wiped my nose with my sleeve. He added awkwardly, "Um, if you don't want to talk about it, it's fine . . ."
I shook my head. For some reason, I wanted to tell him what had happened. He might not think I was crazy—unlikely as it was, there was still that foolish hope. "I-I'm the fastest runner on my team in Potenza. When I saw this girl drink the blood of a man I ran to the wall and tried to go unnoticed. Then I bumped into an air vent. It looked big enough for me, so I tried to get it open—it was pretty rusty, so peeling it apart was easy enough.
"Of course, I got stuck a few times. I kept crawling and eventually fell asleep. I don't remember how long I stayed in there, but when I woke up I realized that there was another vent opening in the men's bathroom. Except I didn't realize it was the men's bathroom. I kicked the thing open and managed to get out . . . but my mother didn't. She's dead." I pressed my shirt to my nose, trying to stop the runniness, and sniffed again. If I thought about it, I was going to start bawling soon.
"You realize that this," he gestured to me, "should've been impossible, right? Unless you managed to turn into a hamster or something." He gave me a glance. I snorted.
"It was the size of an old radiator. I'm not going to wonder how this happened when it was supposed to be impossible. Maybe the palace was built in the Baroque period, when everything was big and fancy, and when they modernized it they wanted to keep it in the feel of things? It worked in the movies."
He grunted. "Yeah, in Toy Story something—when the characters were the size of your hand."
I crossed my arms over my chest, sniffling and wiping my nose with my other hand every so often. "Well, it doesn't matter. I'm alive, right? God probably smiled upon me." We lapsed into silence and I settled for staring out the window.
Then it occurred to me that I was in a car. Alone. With a man who I didn't know anything about, going to a place I didn't know existed.
"Who are you?"
He chuckled. "Isaac Randall."
"And where are you taking me?"
"My evil lair where I can keep you prisoner for the rest of your life." He smiled at my bewildered look. "Relax. I'm taking you to a safe house. It's wise to not go back there again until you know what you're dealing with. I live with this co—erm, family. They'll take you in, I'm sure."
I stared at my reflection in the window, curling a strand of straight brown hair around my finger. "Then what am I dealing with?" I asked. He looked at me and I shrugged in response.
"Surely you should know by now. You said the key factor yourself."
I saw someone drink a guy's blood.
"They can't be vampires," I said, shaking my head. "It's the middle of the day. I mean, the sun isn't out, but they should be sleeping in their coffins or something."
He laughed. "Everything you know about vampires, save a few things, is a myth."
I furrowed my brow. "No fangs?"
"No. Their teeth are sharp enough to break skin without the need of fangs."
He smiled at me through the rearview mirror. "Nope. Garlic is kind of like a skunk smell to vampires, if that makes sense."
"Holy water? That's a myth, too?"
"It depends on who it's blessed by," Isaac answered. I bit my lip. "The only one that has an effect on vampires is the type that's blessed by the Pope. Not only can it hide your scent from vampires, but if you throw holy water on a vampire, it burns them. Vampires don't know of that because they're cocky bastards. When they stopped being affected by regular holy water, they automatically assumed that there was only one type and that it didn't hurt them."
I closed my eyes and started crying again. He continued driving in silence. When I looked up, I asked, "And I don't suppose sunlight hurts them?"
"No. They sparkle in sunlight."
"They . . . sparkle?" My tone was full of disbelief, and I winced at the nasal sound.
I paused, weighing my answer. Finally, I went with, "What the hell?"
"That was my first reaction, too." He smirked at me, yellow eyes shining. He didn't seem to be paying any attention to the road like he should've. I looked away.
"What kind of an excuse for a vampire . . . okay. This is ridiculous. Vampires aren't that pitiful. How do I know that you're telling the truth?" I raised an eyebrow and pressed my cheek to the cool glass of the window.
"You'll see," he replied. "Oh. They don't sleep, either. That's why they have bruises under their eyes. Their eyes turn black when they're thirsty and red when they've just fed."
I nodded. "That's the only thing that sounds like a real vampire." Something occurred to me. "Wait. If there are vampires, then are there . . . werewolves?"
He stiffened. I waited for an answer, and he finally sighed, "Yes."
"Let me guess," I answered sarcastically. "They aren't affected by silver bullets, turn into wolves at whim, and can shift forms in the middle of the day."
He slowed to a stop at a red light. "No, they're exactly like the werewolves you'd expect, save for the silver bullets. They are the natural enemy of vampires." He reached into something inside the shotgun seat and pulled out a pale slice of meat, chewing on it absently.
I swallowed and looked away, fighting down the nausea. The rest of the ride was in silence, only broken by the sound of Isaac's chewing. "I know how to fight vampires," he said at last. Before I could answer, he cussed and made a highly illegal U-turn, taking another sharp right at a dirt path. I slammed into the door, the seatbelt digging painfully into my collarbone. Dammit, I knew he should've been paying attention to the road!
"And I could teach you," he said when we were driving safely again. "Believe me; despite how stupid they may sound to you, they're almost indestructible to someone who doesn't know how to fight them."
I laughed to myself. Yeah, I was playing along, but this Isaac guy was crazy. I mean, we all knew that vampires didn't exist. I didn't know what I'd seen back in the hidden palace, but it was definitely not a group of vampires. It was probably some Satanic cult or something. I eyed the door handle and then the speedometer over his shoulder. He was going at eighty kilometers an hour. Outside, we were driving up a cliff. There was no way I would've been able to get out of the car alive.
I closed my eyes. Immediately, a picture of the blonde man killing my mother appeared and I opened them again. I would play along. For now. "I—I don't know."
"Don't you want to avenge your mother?" he pressed, glancing over his shoulder to stare at me. His face softened at my expression. "Sorry," he said, sounding sincere. "That was a low blow. It's just that . . . never mind. You can tell me whenever you want. I don't usually leave the house."
I didn't answer. We passed a vast forest before he pulled up into a large clearing. The dirt road turned to asphalt again, and I leaned around the shotgun seat to see what was ahead of us. At the sight, I gasped.
It was like something out of a picture of a wealthy Italian merchant's house. The walls were impeccably white, with columns everywhere. It was three stories high with a fountain in front of it. I'd never seen anything close to it in my life—I didn't know that they still had houses like these on the market. It shouldn't have surprised me, considering the fact that he had a car and not a Vespa, but the sight still rendered me speechless.
He went around the fountain and stopped in front of the entrance. I unbuckled my seat belt and got out. As soon as my feet touched the cobblestone, the front doors were thrown open and two women—one a bewildered blonde and the other a chubby redhead—in their mid-twenties stood behind it.
They both wore a dark pendant with a five-pointed star, but each had a different jewel in it. The redhead had what I figured to be an amethyst, while the blonde had a sapphire in the middle of her star. At the sight of me, they paused and tucked their necklaces under the hems of their shirts.
Then they smiled at us and ran down the steps. Both of them had a turn to give Isaac a hug. The redhead pulled away to look at us, while the blonde hovered behind her shoulder, gazing at me in curiosity. I looked down at my sneakers in embarrassment.
"Who's this?" the blonde asked. I swallowed, suddenly unsure if this had been a good idea. "You brought a girl here, Isaac? What persuaded you to do this?" I looked up, ready to protest, but decided against it. She took her freaky eyes off of me and stared at him questioningly.
Isaac chuckled. "Ah, Sera, calmare. She's the first survivor of the feastings I've ever seen. A vampire caught up with her before she could escape and I saved her. I was hoping we could take her under our wing."
The redhead raised an eyebrow, but the blonde—Sera?—was the one who spoke. "We'll have to wait for Kiera to come back with Yoselin to make a decision."
The redhead glared at Sera, and added, "But until she arrives, the girl is our guest. Welcome!"
I swallowed again, refusing to blink. Sera pressed her lips together. "You poor thing," the redhead cooed, reaching for me. Instinctively, I shrunk away from her touch. Heidi came into my vision, her eyes bright red and her nonexistent fangs glistening, and I took another step away from the two. The car's side rear view mirror dug into my back.
"Odette," Sera scolded. "She's just witnessed a vampire feasting. A bunch of them must've tried to grab her. Goddess knows how she got away. Follow me, girl."
Odette smiled apologetically at me, and I nodded at Sera's command, too exhausted to protest. Goosebumps traveled across my skin, and I felt like someone was watching me—someone who wasn't currently outside. I looked up to see a woman standing in a third-story window. She was staring down at me, her lip curled into a sneer. I squinted, trying to get a better look at her. Before I could point her out to the others, the black drape she was holding fell back into place and she was gone.
Isaac put a hand on my shoulder, guiding me forward, and I remembered where I was. I shuffled after Sera and Odette, putting the mystery woman out of my mind. "So what are they, then?" I asked Isaac in a whisper. Much to my disgust, my voice still shook. He knew what I meant. The two women started a conversation, not paying any attention to us. A smile played on the corner of his lips.
"We've already covered werewolves and vampires. You couldn't guess yet?"
I swallowed again. "Oh, God."
"They're pagans, actually."
"You're telling me that—that witches exist, too?" I felt like I would faint. This was happening too fast and was too impractical for reality. This had to be one big joke . . . or nightmare.
He nodded. "They exist in covens all over the world. It can get confusing, as the witches and vampires use the same word to describe the groups that they live in. I tend to call the bloodsuckers' groups clans, if that helps."
We entered the mansion and walked down the wooden hallway. For a house filled with witches, the décor was rather plain. There were a few pictures of people hung up here and there, but there was nothing that would suggest this family was abnormal, which I found odd.
Odette stopped in a room that looked like a kitchen. "Would you like some hot chocolate?" she asked, her voice the epitome of politeness. I shook my head and she looked up. "What was that?"
"No, thank you," I said. My voice was hoarse from crying in the car.
She nodded, looking concerned. "What about you, Isaac?"
"Nah, I'm good."
Out of the corner of my eye, Sera turned around. "Odette, I'm going to show our guest her room. I'll be right back. Follow me," she said to me. I nodded and trailed after her. She went up a flight of carpeted stairs and down a winding hallway. I looked at the other set of stairs with open curiosity. They were painted white, and the door that would've hidden them was open. Finally, she stopped in front of a door and pushed it open, revealing a fully furnished guest room. "We have four of these. Kiera will go with you to buy some clothes, should she decide that you are a guest and not a threat to be destroyed. Enjoy your visit here," she murmured.
"Grazie." Sera left me alone. The room had a gray carpet with baby-blue wallpaper. Everything else was darker blue, black, white or wooden. I went over to the bed and sat down, being left alone with my thoughts.
I don't know how long I stayed up there.
Eventually, the pillow started to look inviting. Memories of all those people being murdered and left for dead kept me from trying to sleep. I stared out of the window. Night was approaching. I wouldn't even blink if I could help it.
Was this my way of dealing with shock? Stay as still as I could and try not to close my eyes? I never had had a reason to be in shock before, if this was shock. I could hear people walking past my door, and Odette brought me a grilled panino at some point. I didn't eat it.
I hadn't even realized I'd fallen asleep until my own screaming woke me up. As soon as my eyes opened, the only thing I could see was Heidi and the blonde man leaning over me, taking turns to drink my blood with savage grins. Someone pressed a hand to my forehead and whispered in a raspy voice, "Ssh, ssh! People are sleeping, child."
"What?" I mumbled, sitting up and staying as far from the pillow I could. I rubbed my eyes before I saw her—the one who'd watched me from the window.
She was the exact stereotype of a witch that people came up with, but without the hat and the wrinkles. Her skin was sallow, as if she'd never been in the presence of sunlight. She wore a dress that had a plunging neckline, tied together by strands of black fabric.
Her hazel eyes were surrounded with excessive black makeup. Her dark brown hair was curly and a handful of it was pulled up into a bun. The rest trailed down her back. There wasn't a jewel in the middle of her necklace. Candles were lit everywhere in my room—candles I hadn't even realized were there.
I swallowed, keeping my eyes steady on the clock above her head. It was a little past midnight. "Who are you?"
She smirked at my cold panino, and then looked back at me from across the room. "Allow me to introduce myself, child. I am Anastasia, second Enchantress of this coven. I wondered how you'd be able to cope with witnessing the death of so many people, including your mother." She raised her hand and inspected her nails.
I narrowed my eyes. As far as I knew, she hadn't been there to hear our conversation, and Odette, Isaac or Sera didn't bother to fill her in. "How'd you know about me escaping the monsters' feast?"
Wait. No. I didn't believe in this . . . this insane thought that the whole household had: the belief that vampires, werewolves and witches existed. It was one big nightmare. I pinched myself and winced. Okay, so maybe I was awake. That didn't mean that it was real. Vampires were mythical. So were witches and werewolves.
I chanted the myths to myself mentally: Witches were old hags that had broomsticks. Vampires burned in sunlight. Werewolves turned into wolves during the full moon. Witches had pointy hats. Vampires drank blood. Werewolves were killed by silver. Witches—
All of these stereotypes passed through my mind in a minute. She hummed, jolting me out of my thoughts. She also ignored my question, looking up and smiling in a way that gave me unpleasant shivers. "We welcomed you to our coven, expecting you to be a productive member of this household, because Isaac asked Kiera to keep you. But instead, you start to plague us with your screams. I placed a charm on your door so that the inhabitants of this house wouldn't be awakened by the noise." She sighed, like she was doing some service that I should be grateful for.
Anastasia walked up to me and leaned down until our noses were almost touching. Her icy breath washed over my face, and I couldn't help wrinkling my nose. "I'm the outcast of this coven, you see," she said. "Because I am exactly what a witch is supposed to be. I call it . . . embracing my heritage. They want to fit in to the incompetent human society." She laughed. I flinched at the sound. The room went silent as she settled for staring at me. Uncomfortable, I looked at the window and picked at the comforter.
"So. I heard you're too cowardly to try to fight the Volturi," she murmured. I glared at her.
"Too cowardly? What the hell are you talking about?"
She clucked her tongue, grinning. "Little girl, don't you know anything about respecting your elders? And yes. A little birdie whispered in my ear that you're just going to be hiding, away from the Volturi. You'll never try to give them a taste of their own medicine for killing your mother, too."
Too? What did she mean, too?
She straightened and sauntered away from me. "Excuse me? You don't know anything, okay—" I began.
"Hmm," Anastasia sighed, cutting me off. "It appears the little birdie was right."
I narrowed my eyes and looked away, memories overwhelming me and making me queasy. She snickered. "What's the Volturi?" I asked her before she could make a comment on my behavior.
She didn't look at me, inspecting her nails instead. "The vampires that killed your mother and the tourists. That's what they call themselves. Volterra is their capital, the vampire world their kingdom. And they must be crushed. You can only do that with the proper training."
She clapped and began to move towards the door. She let out a wild laugh and turned back to me with an expression on her face that I deemed to be a smile. "Oh, well! I guess they'll just have to destroy more families than they already have, and never face justice from the Goddesses . . ." She put her hand on the doorknob. I bit my lip.
"Wait," I said. She paused and I continued chewing on my lower lip, mulling over my options.
This Anastasia was right. She was a freak, but she was logical. They did destroy families—mine included. But vampires were supposed to be indestructible to a regular human . . . unless they were taught how to fight them properly. There were always vampire hunters in the myths; why couldn't there be any in reality, too? I could learn from Isaac—he'd seemed to know what he was doing when he punched Heidi and escaped Volterra with me. "Is Isaac awake?"
She nodded. "He's in his gym. Used to be a basement, and then he came around and turned it into a workout place. I can show you, if you so desire."
"Thanks." I stood up as she opened the door. "How long is that charm going to work, anyway?" When I stepped outside, she waved her hand and all the candles were extinguished at once. I shivered and turned away.
"As long as you live here," she replied. "As I already stated, Kiera, our coven mother, decided to keep you instead of kill you. So I suppose I should welcome you as a temporary coven mate. Welcome to the de Luca coven." Her smile was so large it looked like she was grimacing. She actually scared me a little bit.
When we reached the first floor, she opened a door that I'd originally assumed lead to a linen closet. Instead, there was a flight of steep steps. "Down there," she told me, "is the gym. Have fun."
I swallowed and stared. Her smiling grimace disappeared. "Don't tell me you've changed your mind and want to run away with your tail between your legs."
I shook my head and went down the first two steps. She closed the door behind me. Swallowing again, I continued on my journey until I could hear deep breaths and the sounds of something being hit. When I made it to the ground floor, Isaac paused in his workout.
"Who's there?" he called out. "I know you're there. Your footsteps were as loud as shotgun blasts."
I poked my head around the arch. "Me," I answered meekly. He relaxed a little bit.
"Oh. You. What do you want?"
"I wanted to talk to you about your offer . . . to teach me how to fight the vampires," I said, my voice hesitant. I still couldn't believe I was doing this. "I mean, I know I'm only eleven, but I can learn how to fight! I can learn what hurts them and how to sharpen my senses, and who's who—"
He chuckled, gesturing for me to come forward. When I did, he laid a hand on my shoulder. "Are you sure you want to devote your life to this? It's very dangerous and the action can be a little slow. The training is demanding and takes years to complete. Few humans have ever succeeded in killing a vampire."
I looked up and met his gaze. "I want you to teach me how to kill the bloodsuckers."
That was six years ago.
I am not oblivious to the supernatural.
This is a tale of the hunter, and of the hunted, and how they both applied to two different people. It isn't a happy tale. It, as of yet, doesn't have an ending. It won't have an ending until I succeed in my goal.
My name is Camilla Willard.
I will be the one to destroy the Volturi.
Written for Project PULL. Are you WTF-ing yet?
Cara mia – my darling (to females)
Grazie – thank you
Panino – sandwich (plural: panini)
Calmare – calm down