A/N: Okay, so here's the chapter I promised you months ago... Believe me, I am guilty. First those exams, then I look at my half-completed chapter and got so irked that my writer's block kicked in.. Then my muse finally came back to me, all of a sudden and I just typed this chapter out.
3k+ words! YAY.
I hope this chapter clears some things up for you people.
And it was a pleasant surprise that so many of you spoke of Death in the reviews - it certainly is interesting how he caught all of your attention though he had the limelight for a short amount of time. Well, for those who liked Death - I think this chapter will make you happy because he'll be yammering (Uh, no, because if he were to yammer, it's not Death...)
Enough of my rambles, goodness.
Feel free to drop any questions - I'd answer to the best of my ability without giving away important things. I FINALLY CAN HAVE TIME TO ANSWER TO EACH REVIEW FROM NOW OMG! Thanks for the well wishes for my exam - receiving them results in about two weeks; goodness the thought gives me freezing feet - and for the reviews! I appreciate and find them to be a huge encouragement:
CiaoKawaiirina, Guest, Guest, Guest, No name (Well, there're so many Guests that I kinda got a kick out of it when I was entering this in)
that applies to the reviews for chapter 25 as well ! Thanks so much!
charlenerennie7, Jules Bells, Alycesaundra Mathews, Vanima gurtha, Stargazer1364, CiaoKawaiirina, Alec'sbaby1, Happy. Death. Executioner, Jeri252, kouga's older woman, Slytherin of the Sea, Noname, Guest
Bella freezes; for a moment, no one is able to move as they all stare at the spot where Victoria was just seconds ago. She shakes her head left to right, right to left, eyes wild and impossible to comprehend as she backs away, falling into Felix's hold. His fingers tighten around both her arms when she trembles, unable to take her eyes off the hooded figure.
"Who do you think should be the next, Bella?" Death asks, his raspy voice breaking the silence, and Bella catches a glimpse of a snarl, "perhaps him?" He asks, grabbing the closest vampire who hisses, struggling against his abnormally strong hold, causing the hood to fall off his head and revealing a boyish-looking teen.
"I'm a newborn! I can - " The teen screams, hysterical as he pushes the vice grip he has on him.
"Oh, little one, I've had centuries of training - believe me when I say I'm stronger than newborns. All the rumors that newborns are always stronger? All lies!"
Bella takes a deep breath - she's not stupid. He probably isn't lying: her newborn strength isn't enough to tackle him; his acute senses will stop her attempt for escape should she try; and most importantly - her eyes travel to the bare hand still in the air - his touch kills.
"So, Bella, tell me, who do you want done next?" He reaches down to the floor to grab his glove, then places it between his teeth, before pulling it down onto his exposed hand. A soft sigh echoes throughout the empty room.
"Relieved to have my hand hidden, aren't you?" He questions, voice hard, head turning to slowly scan everyone in the room under his hood. Bella frowns; she is definitely afraid of him, yes, but his tone seems off. Could it be that he actually is perhaps - just a little, tiny bit irked by how everyone treats him because of his gift? Or a curse, more like.
No one answers and Death laughs so loudly it feels like its reverberating through their ears. "Cowards!" He hisses once he is done. "No one here to challenge me, then."
Bella swallows hard; her fingers reaching to grip her necklace for reassurance, a cold icy feeling overcoming her when she realizes that it isn't there. She shuts her eyes, then opens them again.
"I'll take you on."
The words burst forth from her throat without her even taking any notice of it. Felix gives her a 'What the fuck are you doing' face and she almost drops down to her knees when she realizes the bold statement is in fact made by her herself.
"Jesus," she breathes, and she watches as he whirls to face her.
"The first to accept what I issued turns out to be a newborn. How interesting," he says, dark amusement dripping from his voice, "how, how interesting."
Felix's hold tightens on her considerably, "Have you gone fucking insane, Bella?" She shakes her head - she is without her necklace, but she feels comforted by a certain voice in her head.
"You're strong. You'll make it."
It holds such faith and conviction that it gives her immeasurable courage. No matter how much she tries to recall who it was to utter such kind words to her, her head hurts and she feels as if she's slamming against a wall. And she knows deep inside her that they are the words she will need. It sucks and it ticks her off to not know who the other party is to understand her to this extent. Is it Felix? She turns her gaze to him; then decides it isn't the right time to ask.
She feels her lips tugging up to a smirk. "A little."
Death doesn't respond to her bold agreement; instead, she can feel his bloody red eyes boring holes into herself. She resists the urge to turn away and cower. Don't be a wimp, Bella!
"What's the definition of winning?"
"Bella, let me take your place," Felix cut in, not answering her question, "you can't -"
She whips her head around; eyes steel hard as she sends him a warning glare, "Don't interfere; let me try."
He swallows, taken aback by how much her eyes look like Alec himself: the glint in her eyes; the hard set of lips; and the reassurance she gives. No; he shakes his hard hard, she's not Alec. She will never be Alec: she's just a fragile newborn.
"I'm not made of glass, Felix," she hisses, the instant she sees the hesitation in his eyes - she knows. She knows he definitely isn't the one who murmured such assuring and confident words to her - someone who has such strong, unwavering faith and trust in her determination wouldn't - couldn't - give such a shaky gaze.
"So, how do I win?" She repeats her question, turning back to face Death.
"Well, I'd say victory means your opponent not able to even force one word out," one speaks up. Bella arches a disbelieving brow, "Pulling off his tongue? How animalistic."
He splutters; "I didn't mean it that way - I meant death."
"You've a sketchy way of surmising that," Bella says, fighting a smirk as the other struggles to retort.
"Now, dear, you're speaking as if you've a chance of defeating me," Death says, a tinge of amusement in his voice, "Being able to twist my neck is enough to prove victory."
"Bella..." Felix tries again, "you're no match for him. You've only watch a few fights in front of you occur - watching can't give you fighting skills! This isn't a game. You're going to face Death. Literally."
"Have more faith in me," she says, voice hard as she lowers herself into a crouch, pulling her lips back and releasing a feral growl.
Death does the same.
The time ticks, and everyone watches with their breaths held - one single thought dominating her mind: She's going to die.
"Take off your gloves," Bella murmurs, eyes on Death's, tone icy and brittle. She wants this to be fair. She has a theory she wants to test, after all. Death is obviously taken aback by this news; his body stiffening at her request.
"Take them off."
He doesn't answer, and everyone waits for any form of reply with bated breath.
"Again! Have you fucking gone crazy?" Felix yells, "you fucking moron!"
She shakes her head, "His gift - curse, whichever: should be used. That's why it's a vampiric fight, no? Otherwise, it'll be alike to a commonplace brawl; just with much more violence, perhaps."
She averts her eyes away from Felix's concerned eyes. "I'm serious. Take them off."
Death seems to stand frozen for a moment, then a chuckle escapes him. He straightens from his crouch, tugging his hood down carelessly - everyone gasps when they see what he hid under his hood.
His face is stunningly breath-taking, even for vampires, the faded yet ugly scar running down from the bridge of his nose to the corner of his lips not even marring his beauty at the slightest; his iris is lined with such dark red that it is almost captivating; his nose so straight and tall; his lips plump and full which currently curls to a wicked grin.
"Bella, Bella, Bella," he sings, "how interesting you are."
She blinks, momentarily dazzled by his beauty - it almost looked otherworldly. He takes one step towards her, then another, then another. She remains at her spot, lips set to a thin line and determined not to back away from his darkening eyes as he reaches her. His clothed hand reaches for her cheek; fingers running over the curve of her face, "You look more stunning up close."
"Get your hands off her!" Felix roars, hand shooting out and grabbing Death's, "don't you fucking touch her!"
"Felix," Bella's voice is quiet she speaks, "let go of him."
Felix releases his wrist reluctantly, his eyes blazing as he stares at Death who directs him a mocking smirk.
"The moment is broken," Death says, as if disappointed.
Bella chuckles, a humorless one, "Don't kid me, Death, you were obviously looking for weaknesses when you were running your fingers on my face."
"I took off my hood because I respect you for your bravery. And I'm still impressed. I don't do this for everyone, Isabella. Be honored."
He takes off his gloves, lowering himself back to position, "It will be a pity when you're gone."
"If," Bella corrects as she moves her clenched fists up in the air like how she watched people in fighting dramas do - they seem to hang suspended in an awkward position. The thought of digging a deep, dark hole for her to crawl in suddenly seems terribly appealing - Shit, how is one even supposed to fight? She gets blurry flashbacks of someone fighting a pack of dogs - wolves - but if she can't remember who he is... She attempts to settle herself. She'd have to make do with catching his stance and copying it. Hopefully, it'll give her some leverage.
He eyes her, almost hungrily, "It's been a while since I saw one of you. Let's start."
One of you? She opens her mouth to -
A fist comes whishing past her; she moves impossibly fast to the left, and she catches a bit of his smirk as he darts behind her.
"I'd suppose Bella is in a bind now, Alec," Aro says, with his steepled fingers on his lap, eyes cruelly cold.
They are situated underground after walking down twenty flights of stairs; it almost looked like the dungeon in the castle itself, where the Volturi keeps their prisoners for punishment. He spots a hole behind him - it certainly has its use. Alec hadn't known of its existence till now. His eyes absorbs his surroundings, cautious of any traps that Aro might have placed beforehand. He opens his palm from behind him and urges the haze down to the hole, careful not to draw attention as he continues their conversation.
He arches a brow, "And how'd you know that?"
Aro snaps his finger once. One of the guards that'd lifted his throne down pulls out a scroll from under his cloak. Alec's eyes widen as he realizes almost immediately what he has in his hands. It looks almost like a carbon copy of the same brown scroll he had poured all his hard work and slogging his guts in - it was the final plan for the invasion. His eyes widen, unable to conceal his shock.
He drinks in his former Guard's expression greedily, then adds, "Can you guess who the traitor is? My, he was quite a willing individual. He saw everything you harbor for the fragile girl... you are weak, in his eyes."
"What I hold for Isabella is none of your business," he says, eyes hard, "and I suppose you don't know her well. She is anything but fragile."
Aro blinks, looking a little off-guard. "Was that a hint of admiration I hear?" His voice holds a sharp edge, and an unrecognizable glint reflects in his eyes.
"Not only that; respect as well, Aro," Alec replies, his face smooth without any frowns that his words almost seem plausible, "she is a born fighter."
Aro's fists clenches on the arms of his throne, the bones almost jutting out from his almost translucent skin. "I regret to inform you that your trust is misplaced. Even Felix would have trouble facing him."
Alec's eyes narrow.
"You've been placing your trust in Felix, haven't you? Perhaps he just isn't strong enough."
A short pause.
Alec laughs so abruptly that Aro's finger gives a slight twitch. "What's so funny?"
"Felix is strong; and if he can't take on the opponent - Bella can."
This time, it is Aro's turn to laugh. "Gracious, Alec - have you gone so delirious that you expect a newborn to win an experienced fighter?"
"Her physical condition doesn't deter her from doing anything she is determined to. She is strong - stronger than most vampires I've met. I've placed my trust in her, and I won't regret it. It isn't in me to look back."
"Perhaps now you will, for the first time. For trusting Demetri."
Aro's lips curl up to a grin, "Yes, Alec boy, it was Demetri who betrayed you. Demetri."
Alec knows Aro is a cunning old geezer, but at the same time, he is no liar - just someone who plots too much. But he had thought Demetri liked Jane -
"Aren't you curious about what led to his betrayal?"
He reaches for the black device around his ear, then taps in the code for Jane. "I think we've spoken enough."
He flicks his wrist before him and clouds of mist rushes to Aro. The elder vampire merely smirks. "My, Alec, what got you in a knot?"
Another cloud looking exactly the same slams into it and for a moment Alec sees nothing but grey - then the mist from both sides dissolve.
A resounding clap. "My, I didn't expect it to actually work." Aro looks pleased. He pushes a familiar-looking guy forward - isn't he the one who was guarding Bella when he was human - "He's Grady. Remember him? I sent him to human Bella and she was so kind to teach him how to read that he now refuses to cooperate with us."
"What do you mean?" Alec asks crisply, his eyes darkening to a frightening hue of red.
"He has the gift of mirroring. He reflects whatever attacks people throw to him - by doing so, he acts as a perfect shield; being able to deflect and cancel out the opponent's gift," Aro says, clapping his hands again, "and because of his stubbornness, I'd brought in Edward to assist me."
Alec stiffens; he doesn't like where this is going.
"Yes, Alec, Edward is here to control his mind. His mental strength is actually weak - so easy to break in. Edward played chess with me while he invaded his mind. Isn't it amusing?"
"You're sick," Alec spits out, his eyes intent on Edward who'd stepped forward a moment ago, a satisfied smirk on his face, "you're the hooded figure visiting Aro?"
"About three quarters of the time; the others were actually Demetri himself - the one you call a comrade," Edward says, "didn't you find it strange how he fanned and encouraged your flames for Isabella? Didn't he initially threaten you - no matter how subtly - not to develop any feelings for Isabella? And how coincidental both your stories are? Man, you're easily played, Alec."
"Doing such unnecessary things, doesn't prove anything, Demetri. I will never be interested in a human; they're just good-for-nothings."
Demetri continues to walk down the stairs, the sound of his sneakers stepping on the wood seem taunting as they reverberate through the house.
"Well, let's hope so," Demetri returns his snide comment, leaving him behind.
Alec bristles visibly; his body trembling as he attempts to contain his fury - it is almost too much for him to take. He feels humiliated - as if his skin is being torn down piece by piece and he can't do anything about it.
They were all lies. He suddenly realizes why he had given him - them - all the chances to know how he truly felt at times. All because of her; she is the one who lectured him on how he should treat people. Someone who probably had already forgotten him. He isn't stupid - he knows what had happened even if they all tried to keep it a secret.
Hilarious. He is such a laughingstock.
Suddenly a chuckle burst forth from his throat - it takes all of them off-guard, even Alec himself. A voice unlike himself roars - it's as if something inside him snapped. "I'm not easily played! I am Alec Volturi! I won't be going down so easily!"
"Not a Volturi anymore, boy," Aro reminds Alec.
"Oh yes, this will be called the Cigno Revolution!" He cackled madly, his mist coming in such erratic and unpredictable waves that even though Grady has a gift of mirroring - it is a trouble reflecting them all back.
"Let's see how you will fail in the hands of Alec! Me! The leader of this army!"
Aro's lips curl up. "Yes, Alec, that's how I want to see you to be. I want you to fight me at your fullest potential! So you will lay utterly defeated by my feet."
Jane's eyes dart around the forest, cautious as she makes her way out. Something is warning her - something bad. She doesn't know what, though. She takes in a stuttered breath - she prays fervently that everyone will be fine - especially her brother.
"Jane!" She hears the familiar call of Demetri and she spots him right ahead of her, sprinting towards her direction. "I was looking for you everywhere!"
"Sorry, Demetri, I guess I lost myself back there," Jane says, a little taken aback by his urgency, "have you taken down those on our region?"
"Yes, they were an easy bunch," Demetri says, waving his hand dismissively, "you feeling okay now?"
She nods her head, then pushes past him, eager to get back to the war. He catches her arm. She struggles against his abnormally steel hard grip, smacks hard on his arm, then opts for shooting daggers behind his head.
"Let go of me!"
Demetri tugs her back to face him roughly, and the coldness in his eyes shocks her. "This charade is almost over, Jane."
Jane's eyes widen. She suddenly hears a series of taps - she struggles to understand; it is an exclusive childhood code that both had created for dangerous situations. Alec had once saw her meeting with Riley and taught her that in case something happened. She had branded him as being a worrywart though his expression at that point, expressed nothing but boredom - she knows him well enough. He is her twin after all. "What?"
"It's all right if you don't understand. Alec understands everything now - perfectly, even."
She repeats the code in her head then freezes when she deciphers the taps Alec had sent.
Demetri. Traitor. Danger.
A/N: A 3k+ chapter to make up for my belated chapter; goodness I know I'm horrible! And finally things start to move. I hope it's the pieces are connecting together for you guys. Please do leave me a review to tell me your thoughts. The war scene is rather adamant to continue on, damn.
Please do check out another fic of mine if you're interested. It revolves around a womanizing Alec (*faints) and a rather crude Bella with bickering scenes. It's more lighthearted compared to Dangerous Seduction. It's up on my profile, named 'Please, Stay'.