Evening's Light

14. Aro

* Aro's POV*

* still a month earlier *

Two knocks pounded on my study door while I was going through some of the legends-of-old books I pulled from the library, wanting to check through them again, to see if I'd missed something. Could it truly be possible another bloodline exists? And if so, when…where…how?

"Come in, Caius," I spoke, eager to hear the news Calem had returned with of a possible new bloodline. A new bloodline I was eager to seek and destroy, of course.

Caius opened the door and motioned for Calem and Marcus to proceed in after him. Marcus held Calem firmly by the back of the neck, pushing him into the room as Caius closed the door behind them. Renata and Felix stood behind me once again, in protection, but would need to leave as I touched upon my vampire's new found information.

"Renata, Felix." I eyed them to depart.

They nodded in obedience, made their way across the room and closed the door behind them.

"Ah…Calem…" I stared at the small vampire before me, then drifted towards him. "Caius tells me you have made an interesting discovery?"

"Yes, Aro," he spoke with nervousness like all vampires did in my presence. That was good, that was what I wanted. He was a puny little runt, but his swiftness through the trees was unlike any other I had seen, which held a great advantage for us when it came to hunting the wild mavericks.

"Come now," I held my hand out for him, "and show me what you have seen."

He was hesitant as he looked over his shoulder at Marcus who held him by the back of the neck again. Marcus nodded for him to proceed and shoved him towards me. Calem took one stumbled step forward, made a quick glace at me, then looked wearily at Caius. I grew impatient. What was this peon of a creature so anxious about?

Caius moved behind him and shoved him once more in my direction.

"What are you so afraid of, Calem, that makes you leery to come to me?" I glowered at him in suspicion.

Calem shook his head, obviously frightened. And I watched with curiosity as several expressions change about so frequently on his face. I narrowed my eyes, waiting for an answer, and his hand.

"Uh, nothing, Aro," he spoke apprehensively before bowing his head in my direction and taking a hold of me without meeting my gaze.

"We shall see then." I gave him a wary tone before his pictures filled my mind. I closed my eyes as I followed his journey from Volterra.

Calem was out on a routine hunt for werewolves, keeping high up in the trees, away from their sudden advances. He was pacing quickly through the trees of the Carpathian Mountains in Slovakia when he caught a werewolf scent. He slowed, then moved in closer and quieter to eye it.

The wolf that roamed before him was dark grey with a white patch at the base of its neck and two white front paws. It was sniffing at the ground, tracking after something. Calem knew this was a man-wolf, a werewolf, by its build and size. But strangely, he'd noticed, that certain fire did not run through its eyes and foam did not leak savagely from its large mouth.

He crawled swiftly and quietly further down the tree, moving in closer to understand more of what he was looking at. The wolf suddenly perked its ears and sniffed at the air in Calem's direction, then eyed him. He'd been spotted, causing the wolf to dart away in fear on an opposite route. It was not a normal reaction from the wild ones that would stand up to face him, eager for a fight.

Knowing he had a job to do, Calem swung and leaped powerfully through the trees, catching up after just a few seconds and flung himself at the wolf who was still running.

He landed on the animal's back and the two tumbled over and over until they came to a stop. Calem snarled his top lip back, grabbed at the wolf's mouth, closing it, and pushed its head to the ground. He leaned in and took a clear bite at the neck. The wolf wailed and howled in pain as the venom made its first burning appearance into the bloodstream. The werewolf kicked his overgrown paws, scratching and clawing as much as possible—meaning nothing against Calem's hard skin.

Voices and running were heard off in the distance, and Calem rapidly bit seven more times at the wolf's neck and arms before scurrying back up a tree, away from the coming noises. Nothing would save the filthy wolf now; he'd smiled as he darted back through the trees to continue his current hunting duties.

The drifting breeze coming from behind him, caused Calem to pause for a moment when he smelled the scent of an unfamiliar vampire and more werewolves in the air. In his curiousness, he turned and headed back to see two vampires and five wolves leaning over his recent kill, his retreat halted as he gazed upon the wolf pack that stood before him. Werewolves always traveled alone. What was he seeing?

Calem's attention was caught then when the wolves began sniffing at the air as the breeze made a change in course. His scent had been caught. The male vampire jerked his head up and narrowed in on Calem immediately.

In a panic, Calem took off in a mad dash, hearing the one and then more chasing after him. But he was too fast as he used his legs to thrust greater distances, leaping one branch to the next. He knew he couldn't be caught.

Hours later, he'd made his way home, running across the hills then and jumping over the castle wall to find Marcus and deliver his news.

I abruptly let go of Calem's hand, taking in every detail.

"Interesting…" my voice snaked on the s' as I looked at Caius, then back at Calem. "You found a whole pack of werewolves…and in alliance with vampires." I raised an eyebrow, disgusted at the thought.

"I did, Aro." Calem managed a slight smile at my almost pleased expression. My emotions were mixed between finding a pack of werewolves to get rid of, and the appeal of discovering a new breed. A pack of that kind, banded together? Now that was unheard-of…ever.

"Well done, my young vampire." I gently touched the top of his head, praising him for his actions and his discovery.

"Th—thank you, master," he muttered.

But my mood changed rather quickly as I replayed the last bit of Calem's memory. I found myself glaring down at him with intensity and disappointment when I realized what had bothered me about his most recent quest.

"I'm curious, Calem." I paused so I could lean in closer, allowing him to see the fire that ran through my eyes. "When they chased you away from the mountain… Where was it you ran to?" I hissed, already knowing the answer the idiot would have to give.

To my irritation he said nothing and his eyes widened. Noting the furious tone in my voice, Calem began to shake.

"I'm waiting," I sang sarcastically, removing my glare from him only for a moment; nodding to Caius, who stood behind him, ready. Caius understood my sudden glance, grinning as he gradually placed his hand inside his cloak. Marcus hovered in closer, recognizing the meaning in my expression.

"Well…" Calem looked around uneasily, noticing the two vampires who were suddenly closer than before. "I…ran here, Aro." He swallowed hard.

"I see," I said as I began pacing, creating a more dramatic effect, avoiding my desires of wanting to crush him right then and there.

Calem continued to tremble in uneven breaths as he watched me pause occasionally to gaze at the fire, then back at him. I was sending the wretch an uneasy message.

"And did you make sure you lost them at any point along the way?" I asked my next question before looking upon him again.

He paused, searching his memory, his eyes shifting back and forth, hoping to find something that would save him from what was coming.

When he came up empty, as I knew he would, he hung his pathetic head in failure and answered, "No, Aro, I didn't."

"What are you saying, Aro? Get to the point," Marcus grumbled, anxious for this line of specifics and questioning to be over.

"What I'm saying, Marcus," I snipped condescendingly, "is that it appears our vampire friend here not only killed a werewolf, but had himself spotted and chased. Then, without making sure he wasn't being followed, he returned home...here." I glowered at Calem, my eyes full of rage and my lips tightening in fury.

Calem's eyes widened more in fear of my anger and the facts laid out before him. He had made a stupid and very unwise decision, and he was going to pay for his idiocy.

I turned to make my way to the window, motioning my okay to Caius and Marcus with a simple lift of my hand. My head shook in false pity as the two dark cloaks encircled Calem too swiftly for him to make a single cry.

I ignored the slashing and ripping sounds as I moved the curtain to gaze out the window towards the full moon. The fire that burned in the center of the room behind me, reflected brightly off the window, catching my attention before I could focus on anything. I moved the curtain back quickly before the blaze could be noticed.

"What are you thinking, Aro?" Marcus asked nonchalantly as he drifted over to me.

I turned to him with a glare.

"I'm thinking that not only have we discovered a new breed of werewolf, Marcus…but, that we, too, have also been discovered." I wanted to spit at the thought.

His face hardened with mine.

"I'm thinking that a pack of werewolves, and two unknown vampires, now know where we are. And now, more than ever, we need to prepare ourselves for what could be coming."

I turned back to the window, pulling the curtain back again, gazing upon the night's moon. "We have two nights left..."

"Of course," Marcus agreed, emotionless as usual.

"Aro." Caius's voice shook slightly as he stood in the middle of the room. "Calem said earlier he killed a werewolf, but there were other ones that came..." He tried to hide his fear, but it was all too easy to see through him.

"That is true, brother. I saw seven wolves in his memory, plus two vampires."

"Vampires?" he barked.

"Yes, ones I am not familiar with." I scowled, seeing them as traitors to the natural order of things. Traitors, like the Cullen's. And once that family was finally gone, we'd happily move in on their little Quileute pack of dogs, maybe keeping one for myself in fun.

"Hmm…" Caius's pulled his face in in an angry bit of confusion.

"It appears our new breed of werewolves have made some friends," I sarcastically humored to myself.

"We know where they are, Aro?" Marcus asked, still without a care in the world.

"We do." I nodded. "They are in the Carpathian Mountains in Slovakia."

"We should go to them then. Destroy them before they come here," he thought out loud.

"Yes, yes, I see your thinking, Marcus. But if we leave here, they may make their way around and we could miss them altogether." I placed a finger over my lips, deliberating, shaking my head slightly as I shot down some of our options. "No, I think it would be better for us to stay here, and let them come to us." I decided. "There are only nine…" I stopped, amused, catching myself. "I mean eight…at the most."

"Very well, Aro, I will go inform the guard," he exclaimed, then left quickly, leaving Caius and his terror alone with me in the room.

"How did we miss them, Aro?" Caius growled. His tone giving the impression I might somehow be to blame for it. He should be careful to insinuate such things.

I raised my hand up to silence him and he exhaled a large huff in frustration.

I glided back over to the stack of books I had opened on my desk, pulling the oldest one from the bottom, finding the region of Slovakia and scanning through it.

"Hmm…" I moaned as I read, finding nothing. Slovakia made no mention of any werewolf legends or stories that were out of the ordinary to us, or didn't pertain to the 'wild ones'. So I decided to search back further, to other areas I had previously read about. I found the earliest recorded document I had bookmarked by a dog-tagged page and re-read the entries. "I wonder…?" I considered out loud.

"What? Did you find something?" Caius moved promptly by my side.

I read out loud to him, what I had noted previously. "It says here that 'a werewolf appeared in Siberia roughly twenty-one hundred years ago, mutilating two people and injuring one before being chased off into the nearby woods by the townsfolk that same evening, never to be found...'"

"We already knew that, Aro," Caius interrupted in a condescending tone.

"Patience, my friend," I said as I held my hand out to him again, cautioning him with a defiant stare to let me finish. "'The werewolf's last assumed victims of the area that night, were the Nidelya family'," I read further, "'a father and his two sons who were out hunting when townsfolk followed after the wolf'. It also says here 'The Nidelya family never returned from the woods, and no bodies were ever found'." I paced behind my desk in thought, looking for any hidden meaning.

"Alright," Caius pondered in annoyance. "So, no bodies were ever found. And…it was assumed this family was the werewolf's next victims." He turned to me then. "I don't understand, Aro, what could it mean other than a family vanished along with a werewolf? We've already covered Siberia completely."

I raised my eyebrows in a slight hint to him, contemplating his last words. "Well, precisely that, Caius…a 'family' vanished…"

He continued to stare at me more irritated by the minute. "I still don't understand what you're thinking?"

"Calem saw a pack, a 'family', of werewolves this evening. Who's to say this isn't our Nidelya family?" I paced again, shaking my finger in thought. "But not wild like the ones we're used to hunting. Their eyes were not blood red, they did not breathe in heavy puffs and foam did not flow uncontrollably from their mouths. They were different, my brother." I continued roaming back and forth behind the desk in silence.

"But if the werewolf attacked them, and they somehow survived, wouldn't they be wild themselves?" Caius spit, informing me of what I had already known.

I refrained from a fight with him, taking into consideration the angst that was building up in him.

"Yes, of course they would. But even though these were the same filthy breed of wolf, they were different, milder. How do we know this family didn't run from Siberia, and who's to say they didn't find some way to calm themselves…after all these years?" I paced once again in deliberation.

"Do you think it's possible?"

"I think 'anything' is possible, Caius." I was burning with possibilities, remembering the Cullen and Denali families, who had changed their behaviors of the hunt. "We know we have discovered a pack of werewolves, none the less. I can't be sure they are the Nidelya family, but having them all together will definitely make killing them that much easier…" I grinned.

Caius's face calmed.

"Good." He smirked, liking the idea. Not much to be afraid of from a mild wolf was there?

I turned and motioned for Caius to leave and sat back down at my desk, anxious to rummage through more books. But he continued to stand before me, staring.

"What is it, Caius?" I asked after a moment, annoyed he was still here. I had made it clear our discussion was finished.

"What do we do now?" he asked, waiting for some big plan to come rolling off my tongue.

I leaned back in my chair, twirled my pencil with my fingers, tilted my head a little and said cynically with a slight shrug of my shoulders, "We wait…"

Caius pursed his lips, sighing heavily out his nose. He wasn't happy with my answer. But Marcus was already preparing the guard, and I certainly felt no need to worry about six measly wolves and two vampires. We had two nights left of their full moon, and we would wait…patiently.

I waved my hand firmer towards the door so Caius knew he should leave. He bent over in accordance, and then left abruptly, slamming the door behind him.

Poor Caius, always over reacting.

Renata and Felix re-entered the room a few minutes later. While Renata went to stand behind me, Felix swept away the pile of ashes that lay on the floor into the fire, asking no questions.

"Did Marcus speak with you?" I glanced up from my book to meet Felix's eyes.

"Yes, Aro."

"Good." I nodded, then continued to scan through the pile of legends that lay before me, looking for any other unusual uproars between Siberia and Slovakia in the past two thousand years.

The next day and night had gone by without a sound or werewolf in sight. But we maintained our guard to be ready for anything.

On the third day's sunset, Caius entered my study, with Sulpicia and Athenodora following behind him.

"You asked for us, Aro?" Sulpicia approached, eyeing me with concern in her voice.

"My dear…" I put my hands on her shoulders, looking into my mate's deep, red eyes, "we are going to move you and Athenodora. We don't want to take a chance either of you will get hurt if the wolves should decide to show tonight."

She sighed lightly and held her chin high. "Very well." She then raised an eyebrow to me. "Where would you have us go?"

"I want you to hide on the other side of the castle, under the old prison floor, but within hearing, you'll need to know if you should have to run from there." Then a cordial grin broke across my face. "Just a precaution, though."

She turned to look at Athenodora, making sure she was alright with the plan then turned back to me after they nodded to each other. "Alright, Aro, but I ask that you be careful, these wolves are different, you may not know what you're up against."

"Not to worry, my dear." I stroked my hand down the back of her hair then across her cheek. "I've seen exactly what we're up against."

She bent her head to me, staring out the tops of her eyes and into mine with one last caution, then turned and left the room gracefully with Athenodora following her, closing the door behind them.

Caius moved to the window and pulled it back slightly, looking up at the sky. "The sun is setting quickly, Aro."

I drifted over to join him, looking up into the sky myself. "Excellent," I said as I smiled to him, turning to make my way towards the door to meet up with Marcus and the guard.

I paused when Caius didn't move.

Pretending to inquire at his known stillness, knowing exactly what was running through his mind, I asked, "Are you coming, brother?"

He turned and I could see the terror rising in his eyes. "No," he replied unsteadily.

I glared at him for a moment, not surprised.

"Very well," I said politely. "Are you going to stay in here by yourself then?"

Caius peered back up at the sky then back at me and mulled over my question. And in a short instant he was angrily by my side heading towards the door. I knew him hiding here alone, should we falter, would do the trick.

"You do not have to fight," I consoled him, "but stay close and keep Marcus with you. Only one of us need be in sight at a time." Then I stopped and turned to meet his eyes. "Do you understand?"

"Of course, Aro." He nodded with as much hidden relief as he could. I would stand up against the wolves myself if they showed. But if anything should happen to me, the guard would need a backup to follow. Preferably Marcus.

"Good. Now let's go see if the mangy beasts have the nerve to show their faces tonight," I barked, heading down the hallway and downstairs to meet up with the guard who were ready and waiting at my command.

The sun had been set for a few hours and no disturbances had made themselves known as Demetri stood watch in the shadows of the courtyard. Alec and Jane headed up each line that contained eleven vampire guards in each, holding their positions with stillness behind the castles interior doors.

Renata stood behind them with me. If the two vampires should show with the wolves, I didn't know if they carried any gifts that would need to be detoured.

I could hear Caius sniffing nervously at the air from time to time while he and Marcus sat in two chairs further behind me, waiting. They would stand at the doors if we should need to exit them tonight, listening. Marcus would be next to take charge this evening, should I happen to fall. Then I laughed to myself. What a ridiculous thought.

It was nearly midnight when we finally heard the mangy beasts. Their angry howling and growling circled feverishly outside our walls. They were here, and they wanted us to know it.

"Jane, Alec," I called to them. "Lead the lines out to their formation among the courtyard. Keeping back as usual."

They nodded in understanding as Felix opened the doors for us, ready to slaughter our enemy.

Demetri met us as the doors widened. "They're up on the wall, Aro. Six wolves, and not a vampire in sight."

"Thank you, Demetri."

I turned to Renata casually, who was always nervous before any battle. "It appears your services will not be needed tonight, my dear. Please wait with Caius and Marcus, keeping watch over them. I will call for you if plans should change."

It eased her to hear the orders to stay inside as she turned and headed back to where Caius and Marcus sat, standing between them, but remaining tense.

Once the guard made their way out to the courtyard, Demetri and Felix followed them. The formation broke enough for me to advance through then shaped back, standing nearly shoulder to shoulder.

As we starred at the despicable creatures lined up along our walls, highlighted by the full moon, it was clear who their leader was; the largest one who stood in the middle. He glowed a bright white and appeared to be possibly twice my size, if I were on all fours.

The moonlight bounced off his large, dripping fangs when he barred them to me as I took my position, starring them down.

Piece of cake!

They crouched in attack mode, waiting for a cue…any cue. Then, when it looked like their leader was about to jump, the sound came on like rapid, squeaking rolling thunder.

High pitched squeals and yells, hundreds of them, filled the thick black cloud that hurriedly moved this way from behind them in an animalistic, unorganized pattern. It was clear then of the cue the filthy mutts were waiting for.

The bats flew past them at great speed, filling my courtyard and encircling us. Their screams knocked us to the ground as we gripped at our ears in pain. It was difficult to see through the chaos. The piercing squeals were so intense, I felt a pain run throughout my body, out my fingers and down to my toes.

When I turned my head up to the wall, to try to get a better look, the wolves had disappeared. I looked around at once hoping to locate them as soon as possible. But it was hard to find much through the flying blackness.

Yet, I barely made out animal-shaped patterns at each end of the formation. All the guards were still shrieking in pain when I noticed what the wolves were planning to do. They were going to work their way in.

"Stand up and get them!" I shouted. We would not go down tonight to a bunch of dogs and flying rats.

The guard stood immediately and moved about, looking for the wolves while the bats still created quite a disturbance. Their screams had not quieted in the least, and neither had our pain, but their numbers were beginning to lessen.

Jane and Alec were knelt down on the stone floor, still gripping at there ears. They would not be any help tonight as long as the bats flew and squealed about them.

When I stood to walk over to where they were, a loud howl caught my attention. I snapped a gaze to my right to see two of my guard lying headless on the ground, shadowed by the large white wolf who now eyed me.

Fury filled within my blackened eyes and burned at them as I started to make my way over to him, desperate to destroy.

These bats had irritated me enough, that I reached up and grabbed at one, squishing it in my bare hands…watching its blood and guts spill in exhilaration. I glared back at the wolf; he would be next.

He darted swiftly back towards the wall when I was a few feet from him, and jumped up to meet up with the rest of his pack that stood waiting for each other.

The bats had lessened to about fifty when I suddenly heard a painful yelp come from beside me. Felix and Santiago had grabbed and knocked a blonde and grey werewolf to the ground before he could reach the top of the wall.

I motioned for them to immediately take it away and glared upon its packs' anguished faces as they watched the two vampires drag it off behind big protective doors. Blood and fur lined a path along the stones as the wolf struggled and snarled to free itself from its captures' clutches.

The doors slammed shut and I continued to eye my enemy, now down to five and all but a few of their distractive bats gone. They were out of options as most of the guard formed back up, ready to defend again.

The darker one that stood next to the leader blocked him when he was about to make an attempt to jump in the direction of the bloody trial. And then fire burned in his eyes as he glanced back in my direction. I assumed it was from my expression, and the smile that curled its way up my face.

They knew they couldn't fight anymore, let alone win…and so did I. And we had one of them.

The darker one nudged at the leader. And after staring at the doors for a moment, he shot me an evil glance before jumping back over to the outside. I knew by his look his eyes, they would be back…and we would be ready.

"Anton!" I shouted, pointing to the top of the wall. "Stand up there and make sure they leave. Come get me if they should try to come back."

Anton jumped, crouched in the shadows, and peered out into the darkness as he watched them retreat back into the night.

I headed swiftly to the doors that Felix and Santiago disappeared behind, taking a few more of the guard with me.

When I entered the room, the two were struggling to tie our new werewolf friend up between snarls, growls and shouting. The other guard with me went over and helped hold the animal down. Santiago tied its arms behind its back then hurriedly tied its feet up to its hands as well. The fangs were as large as we were used to seeing, but we took no precautions, I called for Alec.

"Yes, Aro?" Alec came up next to me, eyeing calmly at the beast thrashing itself around on the floor.

"Take care of this thing till we get a muzzle on it."

"Yes, master." He grinned as he sent his gift into motion. Within seconds, the animal was lying paralyzed, not fighting, not moving and barely huffing.

Felix sped back into the room with a steel muzzle he put on the wolf that clasped tightly behind its ears. No one else was going to be bitten tonight.

I heard the wolf wince in pain at the sharpened pins that pierced at its skin when he weakly attempted to open his mouth inside it.

"Santiago," I commanded. "Gather the guard and put those dismantled vampires back together."

"Yes, Aro!" He bent to me, taking two other guards in the room with him.

Just then, Caius entered behind me. It was no surprise when he halted in horror at the werewolf that lay, still alive, on the floor before him.

"What is this? Destroy it!" He pointed then yelled to Felix, "Destroy it!"

Felix made his way over and grabbed at the wolf's neck, ready to break it in half.

"Wait!" I put my hand up, contemplating something. "Do not destroy that mutt just yet."

"Aro. What are you doing?" Caius barked at me in confusion and fury.

"I have a better idea of what to do with it." I grinned deviously.

"What could possibly be better than destroying this…this monster, Aro?"

"I'll tell you, my brother." I stuck a hand up for him to wait while I went back out the doors into the courtyard, looking around. "Demetri," I called for his immediate presence.

When he approached, I motioned for him to follow after me back into the room.

"Aro, I demand to know what's going on," Caius fumed. "I do not approve of the idea of keeping this thing alive one moment longer!"

"Yes, Caius, I know." I spoke calmly, too fascinated within my new found idea to pay much attention to his fears.

"Felix, Demetri…" I glanced at them. "We have much to discuss. Get Marcus and meet me in my quarters. But first, get this thing out of here." I waved my hand for them to take the bloody wolf away and motioned for Caius to come with me.

"Aro!" he barked out my name, causing me to stop and turn around slowly. "What is so important that needs to be discussed right now?" He stood in defiance, holding his hand out for the two vampires to not touch the animal.

"Alright, Caius," I humored his authoritative attempt. "We need to discuss Felix and Demetri taking a little trip."

"A trip?" Caius shrieked. "Seriously, Aro, destroy the animal and be done with all this foolishness."

"Do not panic, brother." I put a comforting hand on his shoulder and smiled. "They'll be taking the beast with them."

Caius lowered his eyebrows in bafflement.

"Where are we going, Aro?" Felix asked in confusion then glanced over to Demetri. Especially after hearing they'd be taking the wolf with them.

I raised one eyebrow a little, as a devilish smile broke out across my face. "You two...are going back to Forks…"

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