Chapter 10 - The Will to Fight
I could tell Aro was not a military figure, for his strategic planning was lacking. I understood his concern in placing Gianna and me in the backlines so we could focus on using our strength to prevent the Cullens from attacking, but using Jane's group to defend us was far from intelligent. While Felix and Demetri were both very powerful vampires, their loyalty in defending Gianna and myself would be lacking, and he should have known. It wasn't that I cared if we were the primary targets of attack; I just knew we wouldn't be. The witch twins would.
I thought of all the stupid mistakes Aro made in his planning as we walked through the snowy mountains of New Hampshire. It had been a while since I traveled this area, and the last time I was here was quite a terrible experience. I remembered how hard it was before to travel in the rough terrain. Now I had no trouble as we walked, over 200 vampires in an unbroken formation. While more than half of our group were spectators and would not fight, there were at least a hundred fighters on our side, and I hoped that the Cullens would be powerful enough to survive. I couldn't imagine such an innocent group of vampires being destroyed for the Volturi's sake. Of course, if the Cullens lost, it would primarily be my fault for my role was clear: I was to freeze them all in their respective positions as the Volturi quickly murdered them. But I already knew that once Bella was gone, Alec's power would take over and that would be the instant Gianna and I could slip out. It saddened me to selfishly use the innocent Bella as a martyr, but I had to do what was necessary to protect my brother and Gianna's son.
When we reached the clearing where Aro said the Cullens would be waiting, they were already assembled. At least 25 vampires and what looked like five overgrown wolves stood crouching, ready to fight. These wolves hid strategically in the dense groups of trees, but my keen eyes could clearly see where each one stood. They had quite the army banded together, all fierce looking vampires, except a select few, but I knew that they would stand no match over the towering Volturi. It saddened me as I scanned all the faces that would no longer be in existence in a matter of minutes.
As I studied their faces, pausing briefly over the ones I knew, I stopped at one creature. One of the wolves stood out to me, different from the others. It was clear that this wolf was the only female out of the group, much smaller than the rest, though just as vicious. While the other wolves were growling and crouched, ready to pounce, she stared intently at me with her sparkling eyes. I wondered if she was planning how she could kill me, or if it was interest that sparkled those glowing orbs. Her fur looked soft, and suddenly I grew curious of how the silken grey would feel to my cold, hard hands. One of the wolves, the biggest of the group growled, as though he knew I was looking at her and protected his ally.
"God..." Gianna hissed in a low voice that I knew only I could hear. I finally glanced away from the wolf and looked over to where she was looking, almost gagging at the empty spot surrounded by a huge band of vampires. I knew that they would not surround a spot for no reason, and I wondered if this was how Bella's powers worked. Did she prevent others from getting to her by shielding herself in a fetid aura that no vampire could look at for too long? I felt Gianna nudge me in the side, and I looked to where she pointed, and I froze. I could no longer fight the Cullens.
I stared at the figure, the most beautiful creature with his flawless brown hair and marble skin. His eyes were a friendly gold like the rest of the Cullens, and he looked back at me with the same, horrified expression. While the Cullens looked ready for battle, he simply stood there, reluctant to fight, no, refusing to fight. Of all the Cullens, only two remained out of battle stances, and it was this one I studied and a blonde male, who I assumed was Carlisle.
"It can't be..." I whispered.
"I'm so sorry," Gianna sighed. I knew that if she was still human and not surrounded by hundreds of vampires that could easily rip her apart, she would be crying. And so would I.
"It's not your fault," I snarled. It was the Cullens' fault. They defeated the whole purpose of my existence, everything I was fighting for. The entire reason why I followed the Volturi around like a pet dog all came crashing down as I looked directly at the damnation that should have been my brother.
"Do not fear, brother," I knew Aro was speaking to me. "No vampire here will unnecessarily hurt David. Our intentions are to have him and Alice both join us. Oh I could feel from this distance the power flowing through his body. Imagine the potential when you two are reunited."
Little did he know that this did not comfort me the slightest, but I had to keep up my façade. The challenge of our escape became slightly harder, with another member I would have to try and protect.
"My dear friend, Carlisle!" Aro said, taking the slightest step forward to the Cullen army, Renata glued to him. "My, what an army you have pulled together for this splendid occasion!"
"My good, Aro," Carlisle bowed. "This occasion is nothing close to splendid."
"Please, do not think harshly of our decision," Aro replied. "We make decisions for the improvement of our kind, and unfortunately, your son broke a very big rule." That was the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. I knew just as well as anyone that the Volturi have been planning to destroy the Cullens for as long as I existed, and they were looking for any excuse to do so. Unfortunately, my nosiness gave them just the excuse they needed, though I didn't understand how the Cullens had broken the rules when they told me nothing, and Aro had me turned and on his side instantaneously.
"He did no such thing, it was a mere accident that a human solved on his own, much like a riddle," Carlisle challenged. "And how interesting it is that you still try to reprimand us when this single witness now stands among your army."
"That is beside the point," Aro smiled again. I didn't take my eyes off of my brother as the entire conversation went on. I could see through the pain in his eyes everything he wanted to tell me, and I just wanted to let him know everything would be okay, that I would not fight; I would not harm the Cullen army though I despised the fact that they had turned my own flesh and blood into a monster. When we were young, we both wished that we could be special. Be witches, wolves, vampires, demigods, anything out of the ordinary with magickal powers. We could've never guessed that this would happen.
"I'm sorry to say that if you decide to punish us, we are ready to fight," Carlisle sighed heavily.
"Please do not make such rash decisions, Carlisle, you know I will never harm you if I had the choice," Aro said, sincerely.
"You cannot expect me to stand back and watch as you murder my family," the blonde was still calm.
"Murder? It is justice, my friend," Aro smiled. My brother frowned, and I felt the distress trembling in his body. I needed to let him know, I needed to tell him that I wanted to protect them, but there was no safe way to do it with over 200 vampires surrounding me. I was sure that Aro had ordered a handful of them to study me and my actions, so I did the best I could to prevent exposure. I flashed the quickest grin that I could muster, lasting for less than a second. If he saw it, he would know my intentions instantly. Not only was he smart, but he was my twin and he knew me better than anything.
"Let us deliberate," Aro said to Caius and Marcus. He first looked at Jane and Alec, and they nodded, though I knew Bella would be shielding against their powers. "Bradley, my son," he smiled, before huddling in a perfect triangle with the other two, their black capes covering them.
"As you wish, master," I said, and reluctantly faced the Cullens. One by one, I froze their bodies in the position they stood. I heard them start to groan and snarl at each other as they realized that their bodies were freezing over. Some were easier to bind, and others took immense concentration and power, but I knew that I would be able to stop them all as Aro wished. But I refused to use my ability on David, and even Aro would not see this as out of the ordinary. I also left the wolves untouched, pretending that I did not see them hidden in the woods. As I scanned the woods, I could sense about five werewolves, and a quick heartbeat that I knew was Nessie. The most subtle, but certainly familiar aroma and physical existence then hit my senses. Someone was hiding amongst the wolves. Someone I knew. But who? Unfortunately, I had no time to try and weed out who this person was, and I returned my attention to the Cullens.
It didn't take all my strength to freeze the entire Cullen army in their respective positions. But I realized they would die too quickly if they could not move, and Gianna and I would not be able to escape. I had to rethink my strategy. I could not see Bella anywhere, and this burned a whole in my plan of escape. I knew that Gianna was as worried as I was at the prospect of our success. The only chance we had was to try and fight on the side of the Cullens, though we would be killed instantly unless we could somehow separate from the large Volturi group and huddle safely in with the others.
"And so it shall be," Aro said, and every member in our coven snarled. I had run out of time and the battle would begin soon. I could no longer formulate a plan and work this out with Gianna. I had to just act. It had to succeed, or we would all die, my only friend, David, and I.
"Aro, someone is protecting Bella with some immense power," I winced, trying to pretend the usage of my powers were straining me. I was a terrible liar, and my brother knew this. "I must try and break this spell if we are to be victorious, but this may loosen," I paused for a second to put emphasis on the word. "My hold on some of the Cullens," I spoke as quickly as I could to try and be deceptive, and I squeezed Giana's hands to ensure that she knew I was lying.
"Demetrix and Caius will destroy Bella immediately, and Alec will assume numbing," Aro nodded to me. I only had one chance, and things had to work perfectly with a lot of luck for this to work. Success also depended heavily on whether my brother still trusted me. There was one way I could convince him to believe in me, but would it work? I focused on the hard ground under the thick blanket of snow. A little sprout struggled to peak out of the density of the frozen ground and sheets of ice. I summoned the smallest of leaves that I could, and the green tip of a tiny Pothos poked out from the otherwise colorless snow. No one could suspect that this was a plan. No one would even know to look for the nominal speck amongst the littered ground. I quickly flicked my eyes in a downward direction, hoping that my brother took it as a sign to look at the only hope that I had left. With that, I resumed my plan, closing my eyes to sense for Bella in the fetid aura. I knew I would have to destroy the shield, expose her for the others to see. It wasn't easy; whoever it was that put this noisome circle around her was strong, but not stronger than me.
Protect Bella, was the last thought that crossed my mind when the shield crumbled. I released my bind on every member of the Cullen army as Caius, Demetrix, and Felix all flew towards Bella.
"Protect her!" Edward snarled and he lunged at Felix, biting into the other's neck. The ferocious vampire howled out before slamming his arm into the other, causing him to fly backwards into another vampire. Before he could lunge at the opportunity to attack Edward, he growled and fell to the ground, motionless. I knew that it was one of the vampires in the Cullen army that had somehow stunned him the way Gianna and I could.
Alice, the tiny female vampire stood almost completely still as five vampires quickly attacked her. She only moved her body slightly to dodge each one's moves flawlessly before Jasper came and ripped one apart, setting the pieces to flames. Boulders and flames surrounded another vampire, the snow on the ground flying up and cascading down like a powerful blizzard. It seemed the Cullens had a chance, more than I gave them credit for. They may have been outnumbered, but they had an arsenal of special abilities.
"No!" one of the gold-eyed ones shouted out angrily as her ally howled out in pain, his left arm burning on the ground. A flurry of vampires were lashing at him and it was apparent that soon every piece of him would burn to his end.
"Kate, don't worry about me," the bigger male with long hair said in a serene voice, though he was being plummeted
"Garett!" the one called Kate shouted out angrily and a violent storm of electric bolts shot out of her and stunned the vampires around her and her mate. She rabidly tore them all apart and set them to flames, her ally staring at her in disbelief. Three huge vampires were fighting their way through crowds of vampires, and their red eyes burned wildly. The way they maneuvered through their enemies, it was obvious how powerful and skilled they were in battle. It was also obvious that their targets were Alec and Jane, cowering helplessly behind a group, useless without their abilities.
"Bradley! Why are they all free to move?" Aro asked worried, backing up slightly and Renata stayed close to him.
"The strange shield is too hard to repress," I lied, and Gianna remained still, also reluctant to fight.
"And my powers are useless with the girl alive," Gianna said quickly.
"So fight," Aro ordered.
"No! She stays with me," I snarled. "She fights when I do. Once I break the girl's shield, her powers will be of great use!"
"This is not your battle to order," Aro replied menacingly. This was the first time I ever heard him without his cloying voice, and I knew he was stressed by the way the battle was turning out. Things were moving too quickly for even my vampire senses to keep up with, and with Aro keeping tabs on me, I knew my plan for escape was failing us.
I then remembered why I was here and I looked at my brother who still stood silently at his spot. As I thought, he was reluctant to fight and had not yet moved. He stared intently at me, as though trying to say something, but I knew he refused to speak aloud because Aro would hear. He was trying to use our minds to communicate, like we used to when we were young, but I could never read his facial expressions. A vampire lunged at him, and I immediately bound him. Would Aro assume that Dave had powers similar to mine, or would he suspect that I had now unleashed my first string of friendly fires.
"Fred!" Gianna shouted, and she finally moved from the safe spot behind me.
"Get her!" Aro ordered and a group of vampires lunged at her. The spectators were all watching intently, and I could see some were ready to join to defend the useless Volturi, probably to prove their worth and win some respect.
"No!" I shouted out and I used my powers to stop those that were after her. As the vampires froze, I knew that this could not be mistakenly attributed to my brother.
"I knew that useless woman would turn against us from the start, but YOU!" Aro snarled viciously, confirming my fears. My plan had failed, there was no way we could escape safely now with Aro knowing we were against him. The new plan was just to keep Gianna alive. I couldn't believe that she had suddenly lost control and jumped to the face of death, but when her fearful scream echoed her son's name, I knew how she felt. Her son was amongst the Cullens like my brother was, and we could no longer sit back and watch.
"Go," Aro snarled at a group of witnesses behind him, and a coterie of at least forty vampires fluttered out towards Gianna. Surely, they would be after me as soon as they were done with her. Even with our powers combined, we could not stop an army that huge. Aro was a smarter strategist than I thought, having hidden a large group of fighters within the witnesses to throw Gianna and I off guard in case we decided to turn.
"Gianna!" I shouted out and I was able to stop a handful of the offenders. Some fell to the ground from Gianna's mysterious powers, but her powers were slow and there were more than we could handle. I felt Jane's powers consume my mind, and I knew that Alec's slower spell was soon to follow. Vampires jumped at me and Gianna from all angles, and we fought off as best as we could with our powers, but there were too many. I was glad that Jane was focused on me and left my partner alone, for I could fight off the mind-blowing pain, but I knew that she could not. However, neither of us could fend off Alec's powers, and I was too focused on preventing any vampires from tearing Gianna to pieces that I could not focus on dissipating his fog that would destroy us both.
"David!" I shouted out, and I ran as quickly as I could towards the Cullens, knowing he was our last chance of survival.
"Help them!" I heard Edward and David screaming. Another blonde vampire, who was making that same putrid aura I broke earlier was running towards Gianna, warding off any vampire that tried to stop him. I knew instantly that this was her son. He was beautiful, like her, but with majestic blonde hair unlike her dark black. The Cullen army was too busy fighting against the more massive Volturi, and I knew that help would not reach us fast enough. The grey wolf that was staring at me before suddenly stopped her attack against the vampire she was fighting, and started running after me. The large wolf with long, ruddy fur howled out, as though ordering her to fall back.
"Mother!" the one I assumed was Fred shouted out, and he projected his shield outwards, causing some vampires to flinch, but they kept their attacks strong. Gianna dodged a blow that would have sent her plunging to the ground and compelled another into comatose. Fred's shield could not move far enough to reach us, and I wondered if Bella's protective aura would help us against Alec's mist that continued to creep closer.
"Sarah, no!" I heard David's voice echo. Sarah? Was she amongst the Cullens? I wanted to seek her out, but I hadn't the opportunity to see. I only prayed that she would be safe and would not sacrifice herself to try and save us now.
"Forget me! Help her!" I shouted out as I felt the exploding pain from Jane disappear. I saw Dave collapse onto his knees, though he did not allow his strong gaze to ever leave Jane. I didn't know what powers he possessed, but I knew that it would take immense concentration for him to overcome either Jane or Alec, and I didn't care about my survival. I didn't want him to become vulnerable to attack as he tried to focus his strength on Jane. I heard my partner scream out in agony as a vampire slammed her onto the ground and several of them followed suit, just about to tear her into pieces.
"GIANNA!" I shouted out, and I knew there was only one way left to protect her. I released my hold on all the vampires that my powers froze and did all I could to make the blonde reach Gianna before the flurry of vampires destroyed her. His powers were strong enough for them to flee unharmed, and I knew my life may have been a lost cause, but I had to savesomeone.
"I'm sorry, David, you know I love you," I said quietly, and lunged myself into the group of vampires attacking my ally and used the last bit of strength I had to hurl all their bodies in my direction. I heard a loud howl coming from the grey wolf. Was that a howl of despair, or one of relief? Then a burning pain filled my body.