This story starts off five years after its prelude: 'Life is never what you expect it to be'. Bella is now Caius's mate and they are both very happily bonded. This is an adult version of twilight and will have lemons and violence (after all it revolves around vampires) so you have been warned! Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is the creator of these intriguing characters but has nothing to do with this story.
Chapter 12 – If a temple is to be erected, a temple must be destroyed
Edward and Alexia were at the Cullen home in Forks. They were sullenly discussing the unsettling situation caused by Caius's disappearance with Jake and Quileute tribe. Edward tactfully attempted to obtain Jake's support; not only to watch over Bella's father but also to enlist their aid in a quest to locate Caius.
It had been a long and tedious negotiation. Edward had found it difficult convincing them to even consider involving themselves in vampire matters; especially the senior members of the tribe. However after a long discussion, they ultimately came to an arrangement acceptable for all concerned parties.
While Jake and Edward were tying up the last lose ends; Edward, hearing the familiar melody of "Clair de Lune" coming from his pocket, pulled out his cell phone. Looking at the display he quickly recognized the number and flipped it open to say "Edward here".
As soon as Edward picked up the Cullens saw him and Alexi standing together in a room. "With Carlisle, we could use some help here".
Seeing the anxiousness in Carlisle's face Edward held his hand up in a silent request to supress the ongoing discussion in the room. Then switching to audio his face took on a serious expression as he asked "What's going on?"
Not having much time Carlisle explained "Demetri is about to arrive, he has been sent to us to look for Caius. I will understand if you're busy but I would really appreciate your insight in the matter".
Directly understanding the advantage of being able to read Demetri's mind he answered "No problem Alexia and I were just about to leave. We will try to make it before tomorrow; is that fast enough?"
Carlisle gave a sigh of relief saying "Yes son, we are really grateful".
Edward then carefully asked "Have you heard anything from Alice and Jazz?"
Edward could hear the concern permeate Carlisle's voice as he answered "Mostly by way of e-mail as that is extremely easy to censor; even when they call us they are never their carefree selves so I'm almost sure that there are guards watching. I would be grateful if you can 'see' what is going on. After all Demetri has often met them in Volterra so he will probably know how they are doing.
Edward looked at his cell phone and realized how important it was that they leave as soon as possible. "Don't worry Carlisle we will be leaving within the hour".
Jake had been watching the various expressions on Edwards face while he was conversing with Carlisle and once Edward hung up he asked "What's up?"
Edward looked up towards Jake an then his eyes connected with Alexia as he answered "Demetri, the Volturi tracker has come to look for Caius"
Jake's quizzical expression turned into one of unbelief as he stated "After sitting on his ass for more than six months?!"
Edward shrugged his shoulders replying "Apparently, Aro has asked him to investigate"
All of a sudden Jake was taken aback as he recalled the name "Aro, isn't he that manipulative king that keeps trying to get Bells in his guard?"
Edward gave him his lopsided smile while slightly nodded his head to the side saying "The one and only!"
Jake and many of his Quileute tribe's men exchanged apprehensive glances. Turning his gaze back towards Edward and Alexia Jake said "Look man, I said we'd come back with you and search for Caius but this, changes everything; as long as the Volturi are watching over your clans we can't go. You know we would do anything for your family and Bells but our first loyalty must be towards the well-being of our tribe. We can't get involved in vampire problems and certainly not ones that include the Volturi".
Edward identifying the practicality of such a decision automatically replied "I understand, but can you still watch over Bella's father?"
Jake looked at the tribe's representatives and seeing their implied nods of approval he consented saying "Yes, we can still give our assistance to that problem as he is only indirectly involved with the vampires".
Edward nodded his appreciation saying "Knowing Charlie is safe will allow us to concentrate on the problems concerning the Volturi".
Jacob then looked at them both saying "Call me once he has left, the plans have been made and everything is set in place. We will keep it that way until their tracker leaves".
Alexia looking at the various face of the tribesmen in the room she verbalized their appreciation by saying "Both us and our clans are exceedingly grateful for your support and that of your tribe"
While Carlisle, Esme, Emmett and Rose discussed the numerous possible problems this assignment of Demetri's could entail they saw the airplane lights in the distance. When it ultimately landed they saw Demetri exit the airplane hatch and after what seemed to be an eternity, Demetri closed the hatch behind him and descended the stairs unaccompanied.
Arriving in Alaska, Demetri was met by Carlisle who did his best to keep things civil, for the loss of Jasper and Alice had left the Olympic coven suspicious and annoyed. The fact that Demetri had come unaccompanied by other members of the Volturi allowed the Cullens to moderate their wariness. The Olympic coven were inadvertently disappointed at not seeing Isabella in Demetri's company believing she would be more forthcoming with news concerning Jasper and Alice; the absence of further Volturi followers however helped compensate their disappointment.
Demetri quickly noticed the ridged formality of their reception while scanning the family. Now, without Caius or Bella at his side, the hospitality had become a formal one and although disappointing; it was not surprizing. After all the Volturi had a certain reputation and so did Demetri.
As they all strode in silence towards the Cullen's place; Demetri scanned the group noting the absence of Riley.
After being accompanied to their home, Demetri quickly came to business asking "Where is Riley?"
Carlisle turned towards him and honestly replied "I haven't a clue, the Denali's have not yet returned to Alaska. Maybe my son has an idea where they are but he and his girlfriend are visiting friends at the moment. I expect them back any time now".
"Could you contact your son to inquire about this?" Demetri asked "I need to know and maybe they can give you the information; either through e-mail or a simple telephone call".
"I'll do my best but I can't promise more than that" Carlisle explained.
Demetri nodded his head in acceptance "In the meanwhile I wish to take a look at the spot Caius disappeared; although doubtful, you never know what I might still find". With this said their conversation ended and Demetri prepared to leave.
He spent the rest of the evening and night following the route he had taken so long ago, endeavouring to find any potential clues on its path; for vampires, especially trackers had a keen sense of direction.
When he arrived at the cliff his mind went back to the last time he had been here; the night Caius had fallen into the abyss and the memory of Isabella's desperation to follow her mate into the void overpowered his senses. His step faltered surprised by the intensity of his emotions; something he hadn't felt in centuries.
He decisively shook his head forcing himself not to be side-tracked from his search. It was essential that he concentrate and remember all he had seen that disastrous night. He combed the cliff and the forest but after a rigorous search he found nothing; not that he had great expectations, after all it had been more than a half year ago!
Trudging back he weaved back and forth over the already formed footsteps in a renewed effort to comb both sides of the trail keeping his eyes open for anything out of the ordinary along the way. He was so devoted to his task that he didn't realize that he had arrived back at the Cullen's home until he saw the welcoming lights looming up ahead. Upon entering the house he recognized Edward Cullen's voice which implied that he and his girlfriend had arrived. Taking off his coat he walked up to the Cullens and giving the newcomers a brusque nod of his head, he politely smiled.
After mimicking Demetri's greeting they all joined the rest of the Cullens in the living room. Everyone was silent but Edward was determined to swiftly amass a maximum amount of facts from Demetri's mind. With a crooked smile, which was his trademark and a censored glance he cautiously probed stating "I hear from my parents that you wish to search for Caius".
Demetri looked at the Cullens one by one and then elegantly pulling on his sleeves he bestowed all present a charming smile as he informed them "Yes I was sent here by Aro to do so. He is concerned about Isabella's welfare; her inability to accept the loss of Caius is starting to take its toll". As the group listened to his explanation Edward sifted through Demetri's thoughts and in doing so was surprised to find Demetri unaware of any ulterior motives Aro may have. He was also pleasantly amazed to find that Demetri's friendship with Bella had survived the loss of Caius.
A few minutes after Demetri enlightened the Cullens of the recent state of affairs Emmett guardedly asked "Why didn't Bella come along and help? Knowing Swan's persistence I can't imagine how you got her to stay in Italy; she would ever allow herself to be left behind".
"Yes" Demetri scrupulously observed Emmett and frowned at the mention of Bella's nickname "You must learn to curb your tong Mr Cullen. In the past I had no problems with you mentioning her by her former name but times have changed. She is still part of the royal family and under Aro's guidance therefore I advise you to use the name given to her by the Volturi coven …. Isabella"
Alexia carefully repeated Emmett question but with a little more finesse saying "Why didn't Isabella come along? Knowing her persistence I can't imagine how she would ever allow herself to be left behind".
"You are correct" Demetri subtly smiled at the mention of Bella's temperament then, surveying the group he began "I have known Isabella almost as long as all of you and in all that time she has been a headstrong woman; one who's courage and devotion are unlimited". He paused for a moment remembering the first time he had seen her; when she had come with Alice to beg for Edward's life and ended up staying in Volterra as Caius's mate.
He then looked over to Edward knowing he could watch his thoughts and continued to speak "I have always found these admirable traits, especially for someone so young. Unhappily enough this might also be her downfall; she keeps insisting that Caius is alive and without closure she cannot move on. The loss of Caius has weakened the Volturi coven and since that moment Aro has been striving to reinforce it. As you know he has asked many vampires like your sister and brother to help but he also needs Caius's former mate to stand by him. He wants Isabella to pick up her tasks as queen".
Demetri's thoughts of how Bella had come to the attention of the Volturi by attempting to save him automatically triggered the guilt that he always carried with him; after all, thanks to him she got mixed up in the dangerous coven. The mutual love between Caius and Bella soothed his guilt but with Caius's death the guilt had not only come back, but was unbearable. Realizing that action had precedence over his guilt, Edward gave him a puzzled glance and responded "But it has only been a little more than a half year since his demise and he was her true mate; how can he expect her to conform so swiftly? Look at Marcus, he still is crushed by the loss of his mate and it has been centuries".
All went silent after this was said until Carlisle asked "How are Jasper and Alice doing getting along in Volterra? Have you seen them?" Watching the images in that passed in Demetri's mind Edward was able to see that both were dutiful in their dealings with the Volturi. Neither had been harmed or in any way changed; even their eyes were still a golden colour. Hearing Demetri's thoughts he realized that Demetri was oblivious to the fact that Alice and Jasper were being held against their will but having seen his images of them he understood why.
Demetri was perplexed; he didn't understand why the Cullens hadn't called or visited their siblings to ask them these questions themselves. Then with a perplexed expression on his face he asked "Have you not heard? At their insistence they are now living in Caius's apartments of the castle and are allowed to hunt in the nearby Parco di Migliarino just outside Volterra so that they can continue their vegetarian diet".
Turning to Carlisle he asked "Why don't you ask them yourselves?
This met with silence as the Cullens looked at one another and although Demetri found this strange he suppressed his curiosity and continued "another thing I wish to ask; I heard from Carlisle that you may be able to contact Riley. Can you do that for me?"
"Both he and Athenodora are enjoying their rest in Brazil and I wish to avoid causing them unnecessary inconvenience".
Demetri felt the concern in Edward's voice but persisted "Can you contact them?"
"Why, is it really necessary?" Edward inquired.
"It was Aro's idea that Riley accompany me in my search; after all he uses other techniques to perceive a vampires presence than I do. Considering Isabella seems convinced that Caius is still alive the results would be more convincing for her if we were both involved with the search". While Demetri spoke Edward picked up on a small deviation that seemed to trouble the Volturi tracker and when he delved deeper he heard what had troubled Demetri. 'Aro had emphatically requested that, if he should find Caius, he tell only his master'. This meant that the results of Demetri's mission were secret which automatically made Edward suspicious. For him the significance of such a statement was obvious; if Caius were to be found all involved in the search party could be in danger.
"Yes" Edward sighed "Isabella was very insistent that Caius had survived and was alive".
Looking at Edward Demetri sighed saying "What I don't understand is how she could be so insistent. Considering I have been in the company of Caius for centuries and know the exact tenor of his mind; I could easily track him. Yet, as much as I have tried I cannot feel his presence at all".
Edward, understanding Demetri's doubts explained "Bella seems to think that Caius may have become different after his fall; that it could have caused his mind to send out a different tenor than before the fall. Could that even be possible?"
Demetri thought about it and remembered her saying something similar to that effect on the night Caius died. He however had not paid much attention to her words as he had no choice but hold her until Alec came to take her back to the Volturi coven.
Aro resolutely assigned her to various administrative duties relating to the Volturi coven and its assets. Under the motto 'as queen she should have a better understanding of the Volturi coven and recognize her responsibilities towards it'. Bella, knowing that there was a distinct possibility Aro would lock her up if she disobeyed, reluctantly accepted. Having seen his amorous ambitions she kept herself busy in order to avoid unnecessary intimacy; she sure as hell wasn't ready or willing to take Aro as a lover.
Gradually, as the time passed she assisted Aro in his communication with the other covens. With the help of her language skills she quickly caught on; the work wasn't difficult and she quickly adapted to her various tasks. The only drawback was, knowing that she was the reason for the quick demise of the former secretary; Aro said it was inevitable, but still... it curbed her enthusiasm.
Living within the rules Aro's set down she enjoyed the possibilities that were available to her. She had internet at her fingertips although she knew it was probably under censor; was determined to relish any freedom she could get within Aro's restrictions. After more than 8 months Bella finally had a chance to view the outside world.
The instant Aro discovered she had been a straight-A student he decided to add accounting to her many tasks. A year after Caius's accident she had become Aro's personal secretary. A task that was gratifying if it were not for the fact that it kept her under the constant scrutiny of his watchful eyes.
All in all Bella's situation in the coven had been governed by Aro since Dimitri had left for Alaska. With the loss of her language lessons Bella's time had been filled with these tasks and more intensive trainings with Alec to hone her skills. Consequently, more that 60% of her time was spent with Aro.
One day Bella had just finished her practice and asked Alec to bring her to Marcus's apartments; it was one of the few places where she felt truly comfortable.
She was about to open the door to his library when she heard voices; her first reaction was to leave but the dialogue held her in glued to the spot.
"Dimitri hasn't found any evidence that Caius is still among us" she heard Aro explain.
"That may be so" Marcus answered "but it is still too soon to have anyone fill his shoes".
"I'm not suggesting that; I am merely suggesting that we consider our options, if worse comes to worst. We had the capacity to overwhelm both the Egyptian and Romanian covens in the past but if we show any potential weakness now, they will attempt to regain their power. You know, as well as I that it a serious possibility!" Aro explained seemingly trying to defend his point of view.
"Still, I feel it's too soon to decide anything' Marcus listlessly answered.
Aro went on to explain. "Marcus, you were there; you know the risks we had to take and with Caius on our side we were able to win. The times have changed and although brute force is no longer necessary we must flex our muscles and let everyone know that we are not contestable even with the loss of our brother"
"What do you suggest we do?" Marcus probed but Bella could feel an underlying tension radiating from his words.
"If it becomes necessary I wish to have someone with special powers to fill in his place" Aro enlightened his brother-in-law.
"Who are you suggesting?" Marcus asked suspicion staining his words.
"It has to be someone with very strong powers" Aro clarified
"You want Alec?" Marcus prodded
"He is one of my choices" Aro cautiously admitted
"Be truthful; he is your choice". After a moment Marcus added "He has always been your favourite ever since you first laid eyes on him as a boy; but is he not too young in mortal years to be a king?"
"He may be young but he is also deadly; with his help we have destroyed many of our enemies. At that time neither you nor Caius complained of his age" Aro brusquely replied.
After a moment of consideration Marcus admitted "That is true and I must confess he is also very loyal".
"So, you will think of it?" Aro asked encouraged by Marcus's statement.
"We have now spoken of it; I will think of it when the time comes" Marcus gruffly answered deliberately closing the topic.
"That is all I ask" Aro said as he made his way towards the door "I will take my leave; I must go back to my work".
Hearing Aro's approach Bella hastily hid in the shadows but she had been to slow to react and Aro's sharp eyesight caught a glimpse of her garment before it was shrouded by the darkness.
Although Aro turned a blind eye to her presence he made a mental note of what she had probably heard.
The last few years Aro had coveted the thought of binding Bella to himself; he had toned his interest a couple of months ago but since that time she constantly found an excuse to avoid him. Aro's patience was wearing thin, so officially declaring Caius's death by filling his throne would force her and others to accept the inevitable.
The last few weeks he had made the decision; if he could not bend her, he would break her. It was not yet time to expose his intentions; there was still a great deal of arrangements to be made before that time came.
* If a temple is to be erected, a temple must be destroyed Nietzsche