First I want to apologise for how long it's been. I won't bore you with the reason lets just say I've been dealing with bouts of stress induced anxiety and depression, but I'm finally somewhat on the mend. I know it'll come back but for now...I'm writing, which is a good sign.

I've had this chapter in my head for a very long time, so I hope you enjoy it.

I can't promise the next one will be out quickly. Unfortunately feeling bad about not posting chapters of my fanfiction only fuels my anxieties (which is just silly I know) so I'm just...taking it slow.

I do have plans for this, and I will finish it, that much I can promise.

Hope you like it :)

Bittersweet Bones

Chapter 23

by missrebecca

It had taken them less than an hour to cross from Italy into Romania, and they had made camp in a small clearing within the dense forests along the Serbian border. They were gathered at the base of a ridge of hills, over which their scouts had told them was Caius's army. Their camp was less a camp and more groups of vampires lounging on rocks and standing perfectly still in odd little circles. There was no need for shelter, or warmth, or food, and aside from the slight murmur of quiet voices they were silent.

"It's so quiet here," Isabella whispered to Jasper, where they were stood beside a giant tree. It was true, there was nothing but the sound of the wind around them; not the call of a bird, nor the shuffle on an animals feet, not even a heartbeat.

"Animal's tend to have a better sense of danger than humans. They know when we're near, and they stay away. But I imagine this place has been quiet for a while."

"Because of the werewolves?" Jasper nodded, and they lapsed once more into silence.

Isabella cast her eyes across the gathered vampires, though everyone was still, their eyes were moving constantly. Everyone was on edge, unsure what it was they were supposed to be doing. They knew where the werewolf camp was, but striking before they had any conformation of their proposed actions seemed too aggressive, even for the Volturi. Scouts had been sent to keep an eye on the road into the nearest town, so when they made their move against the humans they could retaliate. As yet, there had been no movement.

"Jasper!" A voice called through the camp, belonging to a dark haired woman Isabella vaguely remembered seeing in the hall before she was turned, though she didn't know who it was. When Jasper replied with an emphatic, "Alice?" and took the small woman into his arms, lifting her feet off the floor, Isabella had her answer.

"I wasn't expecting you," Jasper was saying.

"It didn't take me as long as I thought to get here." Alice's smile was bright, but her eyes kept flicking to Isabella suggestively, when it became obvious that Jasper wasn't reacting to her hints she rolled her eyes and stepped past him, hand outstretched. "Isabella, right? It's nice to formally meet you."

Though her thoughts were elsewhere, and a twinge of jealousy at seeing Jasper react so happily to another woman's presence was threatening to overwhelm her, she responded to Alice's advances with a smile of her own. "You too," she said.

"Oh!" Alice gasped, before turning to the two vampires behind her. "This," she said, gesturing to a tall blond haired man, he had pale, but kind eyes set in a narrow face that smiled as Alice introduced him, "is Carlisle. And this," her gaze turned to the woman beside Carlisle, she stood to just past his shoulder, with long caramel coloured curls tumbling around a pretty oval face, she looked to have been much the same age as Isabella when she was turned, "This is Esme. They're the couple I live with."

"It's nice to meet you," Isabella said, shaking the hands offered to her.

Just then, Edward marched back into the camp. Isabella had been watching him, as she often found herself doing, she thought he was like a caged lion, prowling back and forth with a look of extreme consternation on his face. It was strange, she thought, how in the castle he seemed so at ease, and yet free of those confines he seemed trapped. As though he was finally able to hear her thoughts he stopped and his head snapped in their direction. But it was not to Isabella that his gaze was drawn, it was to the man, Carlisle, standing behind her.

"What are you doing here?" Edward asked, striding over to stand before their small group.

"Alice asked me to help. More importantly what are you doing here?" Carlisle replied. His voice, though quiet and calm, held an edge of something Isabella didn't recognize. It almost sounded like fear.

"Good one. You know exactly why I'm here."

"I mean outside the castle."

Edward inhaled sharply, such an odd movement on one who doesn't breathe naturally. "Because evidently we need all the help we can get." And then he stalked away, moving faster than Isabella had ever seen him do.

"Where's he gone?" she asked, expecting Jasper or Alice to reply. Instead, Carlisle spoke up.

"He'll have gone somewhere far enough away that he won't hear any of our thoughts."

Isabella frowned. She had questions about Edward, yet the moment before battle didn't seem an appropriate time to ask them. She only hoped Carlisle made it through so she could ask him.

There was a sudden ripple amongst the statuesque vampires, it took only a moment for Isabella to realise why. There was a smell on the air. Like nothing she'd smelled before, it was musty and dirty and made her nose wrinkle in distaste. She could only assume it was the smell of werewolves.

Howls carried on the wind and Isabella felt a chill creep up her spine; they sounded impossibly close by and moving closer. She saw their scouts run down into the valley, confused looks on their faces as they whispered to Edward and Felix. Word crept back to Isabella's small group quickly. The wolves were coming towards them.

"But I thought the human's were to the east," she whispered to Jasper.

But Jasper shook his head. "There is no human settlement here. Not for many miles."

Realisation dawned quickly. "So this was a trap?"

"Precisely." Jasper's jaw was set tight and Isabella watched as his hands flexed. "Stay by me."

However, the words were barely out his mouth before the beasts crested the hills around them. Isabella wasn't sure what she had been expecting, but it wasn't this. They were enormous, grotesque and oddly deformed. Not like any wolves she'd seen before. Their teeth seemed too big in their mouths that dripped blood from where they had cut their own flesh, their eyes were yellow, and had pin point pupils. Hunched spines protruded from skin that seemed stretched too tight over sinew. Their legs were thin, but their feet were huge, with frighteningly big claws that dug and churned up the ground beneath them. She had expected them to have fur, yet their skin was oddly human still, though seemed to be a strange grey colour.

For the first time since becoming a vampire, Isabella felt a true trickle of terror, that paralysed her where she stood. Scanning the banks around them, she counted thirty wolves, maybe forty, standing on all sides watching them. She was about to turn to ask Jasper...what she didn't know, something, anything that might help her, but then the chaos started and she did not see Jasper again until it ended.

The earth turned to a maelstrom, churned by vampires feet and the wolves claws. Before she knew it Isabella was smothered in mud and blood. The screams tore through the air and even her vampiric vision couldn't keep up with the movement of everyone around her. All her training, the lessons with Chelsea, Dimitri and Jasper flew from her mind as panic made her body freeze and her thoughts run wild.

Their group became scattered and as the wolves descended she attempted to keep her eyes on her friends, to no avail. A creature sprung from her right and the scream that tore from her throat as it's jaws clamped upon her arm made her feel that her throat was bleeding, until she realised that the taste of blood was real and it was coming from the creature's head through which she had instinctively thrust her arm. As she lowered her arm, the werewolf slumped and slid from her, leaving brain matter and chips of bone clinging to her black sweater.

After her first kill, it was not like Dimitri explained. There was no knowledge that she was dangerous, she did not spring to action and begin slaughtering the enemy. Instead she stood, petrified in place, sure that her dead heart was rocketing within her chest. Too scared to move, to scream, she could only watch and react as the vampires around her succumbed or conquered the creatures around her. Another, smaller, werewolf happened upon her and it lunged towards her abdomen, no doubt intended to cleave her in two. Dropping slightly, Isabella reached out both arms and gripped the creatures deformed shoulders, before spinning and flinging the creature into a nearby tree, impaling it on a fortunately placed branch.

Her stomach churned and she thought for sure she would vomit up the blood meal she had had before they'd set off for the East.

With her mind frozen she dropped to her knees as she watched the blurs around her. Blood and gore flew through the air. Within the confusion she saw Dimitri lose his head to a trio of beasts, and heard Chelsea's inhuman screams rip through the cacophony. Isabella felt a crack somewhere within her. To one side of the clearing, she saw Esme, that gentle woman she had only just met being backed into the trees by two wolves, they walked on their hind legs, jaws dripping. Carlisle was struggling with four of them himself, but his eyes were only for Esme and they were so pain filled, Isabella felt another crack rip through her. They seemed to ignore her, on the outskirts and on her knees, she obviously did not come across as a threat to them, and the thought crossed her mind that maybe Caius was hoping to capture some of them alive.

The last crack of her soul came quickly unexpectedly. Out of her notice a creature with dripping fangs and a dark blood stained muzzle was creeping behind her. Before she noticed she felt it's breath on her neck and she gasped instead of screaming, there was no time left for screams. When suddenly it cut off. Turning swiftly she saw Edward grappling the beast. She knew how quickly she had dispatched the two before, and thought for sure Edward would be able to match the beast. But he was injured, his right arm hanging limp by his side. When the beasts jaw clamped upon his neck, Isabella thought she was dreaming, and when Edward's head was pulled from his neck his body dropping like lead to the ground, Isabella thought that maybe he wasn't there, maybe this was a nightmare.

She didn't remember the beast dropping to all fours, or it spitting Edward's head across the clearing into the ready built fire. All she remembered was it's smile, a grotesque knowing smile that said soon she would join him. Suddenly she was back in Italy, in a sun soaked courtyard sipping wine with Edward, laughing and joking. She remembered kissing in the shade, tumbling beneath the sheets of her rented bed. She remembered the love and passion that had grown between them. As the wolf bared it's teeth, her heart broke, and she screamed.

The sound was like glass shattering, an explosion of sound that caused a physical shockwave to explode, with Isabella at the epicentre. The shield she struggled with, the power that Aro and Edward had known she could command was suddenly unleashed. The pain was immeasurable, she tasted blood and felt the hot blood tears pouring from her cheeks. Before suddenly, the world turned black.

She came to in Jasper's arms. Her head was pounding and her body ached, but she sprang up thinking they were still in the throes of battle. Yet all was calm. Around her groups of vampires were gathering up body parts, separating the werewolf dead from the vampires. Identifying friends and lovers. She saw Chelsea, hands in fists as she stood over the decapitated form of Dimitri. His head had been burned, leaving no chance for him to be rebuilt. Esme was standing in the arms of Carlisle, and she saw Alice, sitting on a far off rock, eyes closed and legs crossed.

"What happened?" she asked, shocked at how quiet and hoarse her voice sounded.

"You did. I don't know what you did, your shield blew us apart. The force of it knocked us off our feet, but the wolves...they aren't built as we are, not as strong as Marcus or Edward had thought. The wave simply...tore them in two."

That was when Isabella realised, every single wolf was dead. Not only dead, but torn into pieces. She saw not one wolf whose body was still in tact. Had she truly done this?

"Where," she coughed to clear her throat, "Where's Caius?"

Jasper's head dropped. "Not here." At her frown he continued. "The whole thing was a trap and it worked. We've lost half of our army, and we know that Caius just has more wolves, to him they're obviously disposable."

It was their worst fear, that Caius wouldn't be with the army, that they wouldn't have their chance to destroy him. "Edward?" Isabella asked. She knew what had happened, could remember it, but refused to believe he had truly died protecting her.

Jasper shook his head. "He's gone. I'm sorry."

She didn't acknowledge his answer, she was too busy trying to work out just how that had happened. Why had it happened? Before her mind could cycle too fast, Chelsea came to stand with Isabella and Jasper, they were soon joined by Carlisle and Esme.

"We should go," Chelsea said. She had her arms crossed about herself, and Isabella thought that perhaps she was trying to hold herself together. "Aro will need to be told what's happened."

Jasper nodded, and, collecting Alice on the way out, the left the blood soaked clearing at a steady jog. Isabella wished she would not have to face such bloodshed again, but she knew that it was only going to get worse, before it could get better.

Let me know what you think :)