Previously: Isabella makes a deal with the Other and comes out of the Void with possession of Stefan's soul, they agree to negotiate, they come up with a deal to end the war, and Caius and Marcus take Aro into custody and revoke his royalty.
Chapter 15: The Wrath of the Vulture
Jasper agreed to be my diplomat and stay behind to work with the Romanians on plans for the South, territory, and setting up ambassadors and perhaps even embassies to ensure continued peace. He agreed to keep in contact and keep me updated on how things were going. The Romanians wished to get someone into Volterra to establish positive relations the other way as well. I suggested Fyodor, as he had already made a good impression on Caius and me alike.
It was agreed, and Fyodor escorted me back to Volterra. On our travels back to Italy, I realized quite quickly that I was going to have to be careful with how much information he was allowed to see. While I wanted to end this war, and a certain amount of trust was required for that, I could not forget the centuries of struggle and death involving the Romanians that I had seen in Aro's mind. Fyodor was respectful, and would be a great diplomat, but he could never be considered a friend.
"Caius!" I exclaimed, honestly happy to see him. I extended my arms and embraced him upon reaching him. "It is good to be back. Where is Marcus?"
"Present." Said he, entering in through the door hidden in the wall behind the thrones. "Fyodor, I assume you are here to play ambassador."
"I am. The God of War has agreed to stay behind to act on your behalf in Romania." Fyodor informed, offering his arm. "I hope that this arrangement pleases you."
"Of course. We trusted Isabella to take care of everything." Marcus replied, reaching to take Fyodor's forearm in a shake.
"Indeed we did." Caius added in, moving to take Fyodor's arm once Marcus had let go.
"I shall stand by until I am needed." Fyodor offered, and Caius nodded in agreement before waving for the door guards to escort Fyodor to his rooms.
"Isabella, how do you wish to approach this situation?" Marcus asked once everyone was out of hearing range.
"Head on." I answered, turning to face them. "How do you think we could make my new rule as obvious as possible?"
"Well," Caius said hesitantly, "when we revoked his rule, we also took his symbol of it." He turned to Marcus, who removed Aro's Volturi Crest pendant from his robes.
"He will take this overthrow very seriously when he sees you bearing the sigil of the king." Marcus said, indicating for me to turn around. I did so, and he put the chain around my neck.
"Deal with this quickly, Isabella." Caius implored. "I am unsure how much longer I can take this."
"I will head there immediately." I said, nodding slightly to dismiss myself. I waved for Fyodor to remain in the throne room with Caius and Marcus, and I headed to the dungeon.
Demitri and Felix opened the doors for me as I walked in and escorted me to the cell that Aro was being kept in. Once I reached the cell, Alec was sitting there guarding it, keeping Aro in a sedated state.
"Leading General, it is good to see you again." Alec greeted, looking genuine about it. He seemed to deflate with relief at my presence.
"It is good to see you as well, Alec." I said softly, looking at Aro where he lay, crumpled, on the cell floor. I found myself tearing up a bit at the sight of my True Mate, the Vulture of Velathri, so defeated and helpless. "Have the Kings filled you three in on the plan?"
"Master Caius was very clear in his instruction. We are to address you as the Steward Vulture or First Queen at all times once Aro is removed form Alec's influence, and we are to give you all the loyalty that we have always had to King Aro." Demitri informed, shifting slightly on his feet. "How are you going to approach this, Isabella?"
"Firmly." I answered, my expression hardening. "This war cannot be allowed to continue. No matter what happens, I will not bend."
"We are here for you, Leading General." Felix encouraged. I nodded in thanks before turning to Alec.
"I am ready. Release him." I ordered. Aro reacted instantly. He was on his feet in the next moment, charging the cell door, skidding to a halt once he saw me in his path.
"What is this?" Aro asked, looking between all of us in confusion. It was then that his eyes moved to his former pendant around my neck. His eyes widened almost comically, and he recoiled as if hit by a strong wind. "It is true then. All that I love have forsaken and betrayed me. Do I get to be made privy to the extent of your treachery, my mate?"
Demitri, Felix, and Alec looked at me in shock at Aro's confession of our relationship.
"Aw, so now I am important? You acknowledge us now, when your power is stripped from you, when everything that you hold dear in the world is threatened, when all you have worked for has been taken from you, and when there is no way for you to fight my rising power." I accused, not hiding my bitterness. "I am about to become more powerful than you ever dreamed, and because you so foolishly thought yourself above me and strung me along, I will not let you reap the benefits of my power. You are about to see the other side of the tide, Aro of Velathri. The vampire world is mine to command now, and I have only one thing to say. This war is over!"
"The war will never be over. The darkness that you endure… I recognize it." Aro hissed, a smile growing on his face. "Someone got a little too close to my creator, didn't they? You are in way over your head, sweetheart. The Other won't really let you go."
Without thinking about my reaction, my eyes darted to meet his, and I know that I looked as startled as I felt. Benito and Maria told me that Stefan, Vladimir, and I were the only ones that know of the Void and vampire beginnings. "What did you just say?"
"Stefan created me. I spent the first twenty years of this life with him, nipping at his heels. Do you really think that the Void is unknown to me? I, too, have met the Other. I accidentally used my gift on Stefan in the beginning, and do you know what deal I made with the Dark Lord?" Aro admitted, and he did not pause for an answer. "To get out, I agreed to murder my sister."
"I would have seen that in your mind." I whispered, horrified. In Aro's memories, I had seen that she was killed because she had been a traitor.
"She was still a traitor, and I would have had to kill her anyway. When I made the deal, I didn't know that though. I decided her fate and traded her life for my own freedom far before the War. The Other agreed to keep it a secret for me." Aro said, smiling still. "What did you give?"
"That is none of your business." I snarled in reply, growing tired of his mocking. "I am simply here to tell you that until you are willing to forsake war, you will be a prisoner."
"Under whose authority?" Aro asked, pointing to the pendant around my neck. "Yours?"
"Yes." I replied coldly. "Mine. By order of the Volturi, by power of the gods and the Evening Shadow, I proclaim you unfit to rule. My word is law. My word is truth. Forever and ever it stands."
"The Steward Vulture has spoken." Alec muttered, seconding my proclamation as accepted by the guard.
"As the First Queen speaks, it is so." Demitri said, formally making it law as second witness.
"You really are enjoying this, aren't you?" Aro slurred. He looked away for but a moment before making eye contact again. "It will not last. My rule is bound by fate. It is my divine right. Volterra will not allow you to stay in power. She belongs to me."
"She has no say in the matter." I replied, turning to leave, nodding to Alec.
"That is where you are wrong." I heard Aro reply before I heard his body crumple to the floor under Alec's influence.
My mind was in turmoil. Was I really destined to be with a man so twisted as to kill his own blood, the mate of his kin, only to escape the Void? Was my match truly a man that did nothing but mock, threaten, and desire power? What did that make me?
"Aro! What are you doing here?" Caius whispered, moving to stand against his cell door and peer through the darkness toward where he had heard Aro's voice. "Where have you been?"
"I am sorry that it has taken me so long to return. How long was I gone?" Aro asked, his voice much different, smoother and deeper, than Caius remembered.
"About a calendar rotation, I believe." Caius answered, reaching a hand out through the hole that was used to pass him food. "I have missed you, friend. Things have gotten worse since you disappeared. After the attack on the Palace, I must admit I thought you had gone back to Velathri for good."
"That is still my ultimate plan. My home calls for me, even now." Aro replied, reaching out to grasp Caius's hand. Caius gasped at the icy touch, almost recoiling. He would have if it had been any other man. "I am here to get you out of this place. No dungeon shall be able to hold us again."
"What do you mean?" Caius asked, gripping the hand tighter.
"Do you trust me, Caius?" Aro inquired, turning my hand to face palm up. "I need your last words." I suddenly felt icy breath on my wrist. My heart skipped a beat. Without another moment's pause, I replied.
"With my honor." At his words, Caius felt the sting of Aro's bite, and from that moment on, they were brothers.
"Caius. What are you doing here?" Aro asked, not looking up from where he sat along the cell wall. Alec stood by, watching carefully.
"I am sorry that it has taken me so long to visit." Caius said, his voice rough with repressed emotion. "I have missed you, brother."
"This is not right, Caius, and you know it. Volterra is mine to rule." Aro stated, scratching on the floor in ancient Egyptian. Get me out of this place, brother.
"Do you trust me, Aro?" Caius inquired, and Aro finally turned to look up at him, hope in his eyes.
"With my honor." At his words, Caius nodded, waved to Alec, and left the dungeons with a new goal in his mind.
"We must be careful, Isabella." Marcus said suddenly, making me look his way when I entered the throne room. "Caius's bond with Aro is much stronger than his with either of us."
"He knows that this is for Aro's own good." I replied, using Demitri's gift to make sure that I could not sense Fyodor in the area. There was no need for a Romanian to hear this discussion.
"Does he really though?" Marcus said, watching me with a raised eyebrow as I moved to stand beside him. "Is it for his own good? He was a bit bloodthirsty, yes, but since your betrayal, he has been absolutely feral. He only gets worse as time goes on. His bonds with everyone but Caius are beginning to fade away. There will be no ending this war if we do not work to convince Aro, and I am unsure whether he shall ever be swayed."
"We have to try." I whispered desperately, feeling as if I were losing a race and was unable to run any faster.
"We may need to come up with another approach to this." Marcus replied, looking off into the distance. "Already, we have committed treason. Perhaps I should have just gone with Didyme all those years ago. I have ended up in the same place anyway."
"Nothing you could have done would have prevented her death." I consoled, placing my hand on his shoulder in comfort.
"I know, but perhaps it would have been better if I had died with her."
"Don't say that!" I hissed, disgusted at the very idea. "You have been detrimental to the vampire world ever since your creation. You and I both know it."
"Once again, Isabella, you are assuming that those around you see the world as you do." Marcus replied. "I have never felt that I was needed in the vampire world. Are any of us really necessary? There is always someone else that could take our places. Even the great Aro of Velathri is replaceable. You have proved it."
At that, he stood slowly and left the throne room through the double doors toward the entrance hall. Sighing, I sat in Aro's former throne and waved for Heidi and Jane to fetch dinner. I was thirsty.
Volterra waited patiently. The time was soon to come. Hours were but breaths. Days were beats of a heart. Weeks went by quickly. Through all of them, Volterra waited patiently.
Her King sat trapped. The Vulture was caged. He would be free soon enough. The city would make sure of it. After all, Volterra was the Keeper of the Void. She covered the gates that lead into the spectral world. She knew the divine destiny of the world, and she had given divine right to Aro of Velathri. He was meant to be her King.
"Do you remember what you said to me when I woke to this life?" Caius asked, sitting against the cell that Aro was being kept in. Alec had long since stopped guarding him. There was no need. Aro would not leave. He had nowhere to go.
"Of course." Aro replied with his back to Caius's on the other side of the bars. "I told you that we would one day rule the world."
"We did." Caius replied, smiling slightly as he remembered their early years.
"And we shall again." Aro swore, turning his head to look at his brother. Caius turned as well. They made eye contact, and Caius nodded.
"We shall again."
"First Queen, there have been whispers against you." Jane warned me, looking around to be sure we were not overheard.
"I know. I need you to do me a favor." I replied, worried at how this was going to turn out. "When I am overthrown, you must turn against me as well. Stay in Volterra with your brother. Protect the Crest and remain in the capital. Do you understand?"
"I fear you are the only one that will be able to contain Aro's anger." Jane answered, truly looking frightened. "Please. You mustn't leave."
"When the time comes, I will go quietly. Stay faithful to the Vulture, and you shall not receive his anger." I said, putting out my hand for a shake. Jane took it. "You have been a good friend, Jane, and I shall not forget it."
"Be careful." She whispered, and I nodded in promise before heading back to my rooms. On the way, I sent a quick text to Jasper, letting him know it was time for the Whitlocks to make their escape. My short rule was coming to an end, and it was time for my allies to go into hiding.
"Caius! What have you done?!" I growled, sweeping the books and papers off his desk in anger. "You must know what he will do with this freedom!"
"I do not care what he does with it." Caius whispered, looking me directly in the eyes. "All I care is that I gave it to him."
"Damnare!" I cursed, using Jane's gift on him. He screamed and fell to his knees. I stopped the onslaught almost immediately, and lifted him violently to his feet by the collar of his robes. "This will mean war. You know as well as I that he cannot do without bloodshed. He was not ready for this!"
"It has been three months since he was put in that cage!" Caius yelled back desperately. "I put my trust in you, and you left him there to rot while you stole his glory!"
"You dare impugn my honor? He is my mate! Everything I have done has been for him!" I shouted in return. Marcus entered the room then, and I turned to him "Caius has freed Aro."
"I am aware." He replied as Stefan and Vladimir entered in behind him. "We have traded the vampire world to keep Volterra and the surrounding hills as well as release Aro. The war is officially over."
"Aro agreed to this?" I questioned, completely shocked that Marcus was involved as well.
"No. We had a majority." Marcus said, indicating for me to be removed from Aro's throne. Fyodor and Demitri came forward to restrain me. I did not fight them as they took me into custody.
"That is all that is necessary, isn't it? A majority?" Vladimir asked with a smirk as I was brought to stand before him and Stefan. "Oh wait. Your word is Volturi law now."
"It may have been, but not anymore. This is now a Volturi Crest reservation. This is the only place that those bearing the sigil of the Vulture will have amnesty." Stefan said, gazing at me with an anger that I did not understand. "I may not have my soul, but do not think for a second that it does not still exist."
"I never said it didn't." I whispered in confusion. I had honestly wanted peace between our covens. Why was that so hard to do?
"No. You would not say that. You own it, after all." Stefan hissed. "What do you think the Other would do with my soul if I were to burn you? You cannot keep possession of it if you are dead."
"Stefan, I wanted to-" I started, wondering how he had found out about the deal I had made with the Other.
"Taci din gură!" Stefan shouted, interrupting me. I went silent, knowing at this point, there was nothing I could say to improve my situation. "As your punishment, I will leave you to the wrath of the Vulture."
A/N: Wow! Well, here goes another chapter guys. I am actually updating pretty frequently. Midterms are coming up on me though, so I might not update for a while. Please keep those reviews coming though. I love hearing from you. On that note, what do you guys think?
POLL NEWS: Due to errors on the sight that the voting was taking place on, NighttimeRainAwards has changed the polls to taking place on their fanfic profile. There will be two more days that you guys can vote for this story on the 15th and 16th of June. Their fanfic name is nrawardsofficial. Just type that into the search bar under author, and you will find them. Thanks again for voting! :D
PLAYLIST NEWS: The 15th some for the playlist will be up right after this chapter. Check out my profile if you are interested in the entire playlist. The song for this chapter was Haunted by Disturbed. I do not own any of the songs or Twilight. You know how it is.
"A maniacal unit of sub-human parasites
Warped into a feeding frenzy with the smell of fresh blood
Open your eyes and see the creatures for what they are
A swirling mess of hatred and envy
Don't be naïve enough to think you're unaffected
The conversion has already begun..."