A/n: Um, hello everyone. If you're already a reader to this story, then you know that I've been gone for a while now and haven't updated this story (and my other stories) in months, and for that, I sincerely apologize. However, after returning to all my stories, including this one, I've noticed my writing has improved…by a lot. So, for right now, I'm going to be editing my stories before I put up new chapters. Nothing too major! Just the way they were written. Shouldn't take too long since I don't have many chapters to begin with…
However, if you are new to this story, welcome! It's always a pleasure to have new people read and enjoy my stories.
Chapter One- Surprise
His eyes as dull and lifeless as the surface of an unpainted canvas, Marcus dragged his impassive stare away from his brothers, who were currently locked in a verbal argument that appeared to be on the edge of becoming physical. Though he seemed to be simply bored and uninterested in the happenings around him, if one looked deep enough in the blood-stained windows that were able to display his spirit, they would only find a bleak and dark shadow of where his immortal soul used to be.
There was no sign of a former light being there; simply a never-ending abyss of grief, resignation, and patience.
He was waiting; waiting for the day that he would finally be free from the chains holding him to this meaningless existence. It was taking an excruciating toll on him though. Just the mere thought of seeing his lovely wife, Didyme, again after all the passing centuries was enough to drive him deep into the endless depths of madness.
So many nights of hearing her phantom voice whisper in his mind. So many nights of feeling her spectral touch ghosting across his body. Oh, how he wish he could end his own life without interference, just to experience the addictive joy of love all over again with his long-gone lover.
A moan, silent in its misery, slithered from out his throat as he raised up from his armchair and drifted off to the many rows of bookshelves placed behind him. His brothers didn't even glance up at his departure; so focused they were on gaining the upper hand of the other, their voices grew clearly louder and more heated by the fleeting seconds. Once more, their battle-of-the-words was caused due to the contentious actions of the Olympic Coven and their human member, Isabella.
These days, that's what they only seemed to discuss and dispute about.
Infamous for his habit of brutality, Caius wanted to punish them for "breaking the law with no sense of responsibility." Aro, on the other end of the power scale, was far too protective of his close alliance with Carlisle to let something so "worthlessly miniscule" cause a rift to tear between them. Thus, as a result of their conflicting point of views, the two immortal kings were always butting heads over the controversial topic.
Not Marcus though. No, never him.
Faint, but still visibly curled at the edges, Marcus's smile spoke of his silent opinion on the whole situation. Unlike them, he cared not for the activities of the Olympic Coven. Rather, his attention had concentrated on the human girl. Isabella had reminded him completely of his Didyme. Round, earth-colored eyes that were so clear and expressive, you would be able to find her soul with ease. A courageous attitude; one that she had revealed when she shouted out for her lover's pain by the hands of Jane to end.
It was her aura though, that radiated an inner sweetness with a tang of sharpness, which made Isabella quite similar to his departed Didyme.
Marcus clutched his chest and released a sigh as something inside him flared intensely before fading off to an aftermath burn. Just another consequence of thinking too deeply about his deceased wife; not that it stopped him from continuing to do so.
"Brother, do come over here and explain to Caius that attacking the Cullens would be purposeless, when the fact is, they have done nothing that would be considered wrong."
"Except reveal our existence to a human, who they refused to turn or kill the moment she learned of them! You are such a fool, Aro. Letting them leave without some form of punishment was one of your worst ideas in centuries!"
"They promised they would change Isabella soon, Caius."
"And that was enough for you to release them without some form of warning? Like I mentioned before…You. Are. A. Fool."
"I'll take that as a compliment, little brother."
Caius's retaliating snarl at the subtle insult received a weary groan from Marcus before he grabbed a random book from one of the shelves and turned back to his brothers. They were literally at each other faces; Caius, practically boiling with rage, leaned over Aro, who was sitting in his chair with his legs crossed, calm and unconcerned at the vicious growling he was receiving.
Honestly, Marcus did not understand why they were concerning themselves with the Cullens in the first place.
Perhaps it was the fact that untaught newborns have been springing up in one of the U.S. top cities, Seattle, he believed it was called, which was not too far from the small town where the Olympic Coven supposedly resided, or it could be that Caius was still grumbling over Edward Cullen's actions a couple months ago during Marcus's own festival. Whatever the reason, he was tired of the arguments going on between the two vampire lords.
Silent, he settled back in his own chair, and opened the thick book in his hands to its first page. "I believe that you should both ceased your quarreling over the Cullens. We sent Jane, Alec, Demetri, and Felix just to see if they have succeeded in changing Isabella into one of our kind. What more do you wished to do besides that?"
His thoughts finally spoken, Marcus lifted the book up to his eyes and began to read with a casual air. There was a tension-filled silence after that, but also, the sense of knowing that wasn't the end of the war. Just another battle, adding up to the final one.
It wasn't until he was in a hundred pages in his chosen book that things began to get interesting again.
Without warning, Santiago, the youngest member in the Volturi, came rushing through the library in a frantic manner. Blind with panic, the Spanish vampire almost crashes into Caius, causing the ancient to glare at him with a growl that hinted at irritation. Eyes wide with fear, Santiago immediately fell down to a knee while bowing his head in submission.
"My lords, the Elite Guard have returned from their mission and…they've brought back something interesting with them."
Caius sneered in characteristic disdain, taking a threatening step toward Santiago. "It must be truly fascinating for you to come running in here like a bumbling buffoon and nearly colliding with me!"
Aro laid a restraining hand on his fair-haired brother before turning to an embarrassed Santiago. "Let me see, young one," He demanded, raising out his other hand with his long fingers twitching in impatience.
His head still kept down, Santiago lifted up his own hand and placed it in the palm of his Master. Immediately, Aro was caught in the memories of what the guard member spoke about. Caius and Marcus gazed at their brother with well-trained patience; they knew that the process of gaining the information they needed could take Aro merely seconds or several minutes. Thankfully this time, it was the former.
Eyelids closed shut in concentration, an astonished gasp abruptly fell from Aro's lips before he released the tight grip he had on Santiago's hand. A smile of surprise and excitement, with an undertone of concern, spread across his face. In the light of the crackling fire inside the marble fireplace, his crimson irises gleamed like cut rubies as he stared off in the distance.
"My, my, my…this is an interesting development!" He exclaimed with a single clap of his hands, making the other two ancients glanced at each other with similar annoyance.
"And what would that be, Aro?" Caius asked wearily with a narrowing of his serpentine eyes.
The dark-haired ancient focused his thrilled stare on them at the suspicion-filled question. He spoke in a mysterious tone that Marcus knew was to guard vital information from them, "It would seem that our Elite Guard have brought back a certain…guest with them, who seems determined to speak to us."
Marcus arched an eyebrow at Aro's evasive words while Caius hissed in distaste. "Oh, perfect. I'm assuming it's another newborn nomad, looking to us to see if he could receive help against one of his many rivals. I swear, any immortals idiotic enough to gain several enemies in less than a year should be executed without any form of judgment. Just…end them."
Irritated to the point of slaughtering anyone in sight after his derisive rant, Caius stormed out the library, most likely to search for his personal execution torch that he used on those who were marked to perish. Santiago tensed up when the ancient walked past him, but still, he did not move from his kneeling position. Once he was out of hearing range, Marcus turned to Aro with a muted curiosity inside his glazed eyes.
"Why hide the identity of this…guest? Are they a former enemy of Caius?" He asked in a voice that was soft enough to be mistaken of as a whisper.
"Well, I can't exactly have our ruthless brother killing Isabella before she even tells of her reasons for returning to Volterra, now can I?"
At Aro's words, Marcus felt a strange burst of, what he could only described as, anticipation. "Isabella is here, at this very moment?"
Aro nodded and reached for the silk cloak that was laid spread out over his personal armchair. "I'll go find Caius before he enters the Judgment Chamber and has a childish fit. Will you go check on Isabella and see if she's safe and secure?"
Expressionless, though his emotions were a whirling mass of chaos, Marcus nodded once then laid his hand on Santiago's shoulder. The Spanish vampire glanced up before rising from off his knee and following after his silent Master through the oak doors.
"The girl," Santiago said once they were a distance away from the library, "She seems…close to death. Her manner is similar to that of a spirit; a cursed spirit, wishing to be free from the relentless ties that hold her to this life. To be honest, she reminds me almost of…" He trailed off his sentence with a sudden hush of pity. Marcus did not reply to the young guard's thoughtless words, ending their short conversation on an uncomfortable note.
The two soon arrived at the towering doors of the Judgment Chamber. Right outside the room, they waited in the soundless hall for the staccato of double footsteps in quick approach, but nothing could be heard coming from either direction. Seconds ticked by, yet still no sign of Caius and Aro.
Marcus sighed slowly in disbelief as he switched his attention back to Santiago. "It appears my brothers have gotten themselves into another fight. Search for their whereabouts and bring them here."
The guard member bowed his head, then disappeared in the shadows of the hall to retrieve his other masters. Marcus stared straight into the suffocating darkness until the unexpected echo of a vicious snarl, coming from inside the Judgment Chamber, caught his attention. Without hesitation, he pushed open the doors and was greeted with a suspicious sight.
On opposite sides of the room, Felix and Jane glared at each other with fierce intensity. The pain-bringer of the Witch Twins was behind held back by Demetri and her contrasting brother, Alec, while Felix, the King of Immortal Strength, was standing over a tightly curled form in a stance that was both weary and protective. At the sound of the doors opening, the figure raised up her head and stared at him with blatant fright. The terror left her gaze though when she noticed it was him, making her relax against the marble floor as if his presence was a gift.
"What is going on here?" He questioned, pulling his gaze from Isabella's to Jane's who froze at the hard edge of his voice.
"Lord Marcus!" She shoved Alec and Demetri away from her and straightened out of her aggressive crouch with a glaze of innocence spreading across her cherub face. "Nothing of importance has happened, my lord."
Marcus knew that was a lie the moment she said it. If he was to compared it to an object of nature, he would say it was a fragile web, created by an amateur spider who had to continue fixing its pathetic mistakes with clumsy threads that soon fell apart as well. The mere fact that Jane would even try to evade the truth with him was an annoyance that he wouldn't soon forget. In response for now though, he simply raised a cynical eyebrow at her for insulting his sharp intelligence in such a manner before drifting over to where Felix remain tensed for a swift assault.
A troubled frown pulled at the edges of Marcus's mouth when he finally had a good look of Isabella. Santiago had been right. The human girl did look close to death. Her irises, once a beautiful mix of earth and sun, was now a lifeless black that gave her the appearance of a starving vampire. Sunken eyes, with purple shadows underneath them, and skin a deadly pale that had a slight yellow tinge to it, her entire being screamed sorrow and weakness, with an edge of sickly death.
Marcus lowered himself onto one knee and tilted his head to the side in closer examination. In thoughtful caution, his hand reached out to the matted strands of dull brown hair that he knew used to be a silken wave of mahogany and amber. It had look so clean and smooth a few months before, but was now greasy and rough.
Paralyzed at the heart-breaking display of a damaged Isabella, Marcus's shoulders sagged as he murmured, "Isabella? What has happened to you?"
She didn't reply to him. Instead, her gaunt eyes shifted over to Felix who gave her a reassuring nod. Marcus took note of that action, and also, the hints of brotherly care on Felix's features. It surprised him since the burly vampire was known for his brutish love for violence, and violence always led to the loss of dear ones. That was the main reason behind Felix rarely growing close with anyone. Not even with Marcus and his brothers.
He respected them, and was completely loyal, but he kept his feelings in check.
"I…I need…your help," Isabella whispered with a rough tongue once his disturbed stare connected with hers once more.
Marcus leaned forward. "Help with what, piccola?" He did not like the look she had when she said she needed assistance. It seemed far too…foreboding for his liking.
Bella's hands reached under his cloak to clutched at his robe as she lifted herself up, causing Marcus to hold her in his arms so she could have some other form of support. Something akin to a stuttered heartbeat reverberated inside his chest as she brushed her warm lips against his sensitive ear while breathing out, "The Cullens…they're…."
She fainted in his arms; her eyes rolled in the back of her head before her eyelids shut close. Silence quickly occupied every inch of the room in an invisible shroud, leaving nothing vacant.
Felix, now having a reason to remove his vigilant observation off Jane, lower down on his knees to take Isabella from Marcus's arms. He held her to his chest with a gentle, but firm hold as she squirmed closer to him with the oblivious intent of the unconscious. Jane, flanked closely by Demetri and Alec, watched with her teeth bared and clenched in sharpened rows.
"Did we miss anything?" Aro exclaimed, bursting through the doorway with Caius and Santiago right on his heels. Nobody answered them. Rather, their attention stayed on the comatose girl before them.