Chapter 6 - Worse Than Death
This time, the pain did not go away. Was it still Jane, who out of spite and anger, continued her reign of torment on me for so long? I simply lay there, waiting for it to cease. It must have been days, when finally I could feel my toes again, my fingers, and later, entire limbs. Slowly, my body was coming back to me, like the pieces were being sewed back on a torn doll. When I finally regained my strength, I jolted up from what felt like a stone bed. The room was dark, and obviously cold, but I could see clearly and felt no discomfort in the frigid temperature.
Suddenly, the sweetest scent filled my nose, and an alluring beat filled my ears. I looked over at the corner that drew my attention, and there I could see a female figure, looking up at me with fearful eyes filled with tears. I felt a burning in my throat, and her smell lulled me and before I could process my actions, I held her screaming body tightly in my hands.
"No! Please don't kill me!" she begged. Kill her? What was she talking about? I could see each blood cell rushing through the beating artery on her neck and I just wanted to bite down on it. I didn't understand what was wrong with me and I felt my body begin to tremble with hers. My throat was burning, and her smell was amplifying it.
"Please...I have a son who needs me..." the woman whimpered helplessly.
"What are you talking about?" I thought I said, but the fluid, eloquent voice could not be mine.
"Please..." she begged. "I did so much...I worked so hard and now they use me to feed a newborn."
"A newborn?" again I thought I spoke, but that voice could not be mine.
"You...you're not killing me?" the girl asked, shocked.
"No...please explain what's happening," I said quickly in the foreign voice. My head was exploding with the agony of a hundred unanswered questions, and that was more than enough to flood out the burning in my throat and the unquestionable desire I had to tear apart her hapless body. This was the first time I could have questions answered, and I wasn't going to let my newfound instincts take this chance away.
"You're controlling your thirst...but how?" the woman asked, staring intently into my eyes.
"Clearly you fear me, so you should answer my questions swiftly instead of irritating me," I said through gritted teeth. The woman shook her head and I let her go, huddling myself to a corner. I tried to stay as far away from her, though it didn't help the burning sensation I got from every whiff of her scent. Was this pain "thirst" as she had said? No, I've felt immense thirst before, and it did not consume my body as this feeling did now. This was beyond thirst. I held my breath as she spoke in a hushed voice, though I could hear her words perfectly.
"This is the house of the Volturi. The Volturi are the head vampire clan that oversees the activity of all vampires. Basically, the biggest rule is that they live in complete secrecy and ensure that humans never find out about the existence of vampires."
"Vampires?" I muttered, again with that voice that didn't belong to me. "They actually exist?"
"My god you didn't know anything," the girl's remark was not scornful, but sympathetic. She shook her head and sighed. "Yes, and you are what we call a newborn, a brand new vampire. Your kind is very vicious and usually cannot control their thirst. The sweet scent you smell is my blood, and the burning in your throat is your desire for my blood. I am shocked that you do not kill me. It is truly a first that I've ever seen for newborns."
"Don't test your luck," I said annoyed. The scratching in my throat was getting worse by the second, though the thought of killing a human just to ease the pain was quite appalling to me. The idea of drinking blood was even worse.
"I must say that you are one of a kind, I can see why Aro has chosen you," the woman said.
"Tell me more about Aro. Why did he do this to me?"
"Like I said, you are a special one. Aro is sort of a collector. He collects vampires with special skills that will benefit his coven. For example, Aro has the ability to read your entire life's past by a simple touch. Jane has the ability to make you believe you are suffering the greatest pain, and her twin Alec has the ability to numb all your senses. Those two are vicious and Aro wants to collect more like them. He believes twins hold some specialty beyond what regular vampires can possess, much like Alec and Jane. If Aro sees that a mortal has any proclivity to become a special vampire, he converts them."
"Wait...he sees everything?" I asked fearfully. If this were true and if what this woman said about Alec and Jane were true, then Aro would be searching for David. Whatever power I may have, I had to make sure that Aro would not find out. Perhaps if he saw I was powerless, he would assume David would be too and would not seek him out.
"Is there any way to shield yourself from Aro's powers?" I asked. I had to do whatever I could to protect David.
"Not that I know of...Although...I heard that the new addition to the Cullen family shields her mind from everything the Volturi are capable of. The Volturi fear the power of the Cullens and believe the Cullens are trying to overthrow them. I believe...you were converted because Aro believes you will be a useful weapon against them."
"The Cullens..." I finally remembered what had brought me into this whole mess to begin with. The members of the Cullen family were vampires and as I was piecing all this together, somehow the Volturi found out that a human knew of their existence and came to eliminate me. But when Aro saw my memories with David and the fun-filled beliefs of our powers, he assumed those could be true and took a chance with me. All the pieces fell together, and it meant that for sure, Aro would be searching for David now and that beast Jane would try to do all she could to get him. There was nothing I could do to stop them, not with her powers.
"You said the Volturi are trying to overthrow the Cullens?" I asked.
"Yes. One of the vampires, Isaac, claimed that he saw you, a human, dealing with the Cullens. Aro thought this would be the excuse the Volturi needed to charge the Cullens of breaking the greatest rule, which is to live in secrecy. This would be their chance to finally do what they always wished: to destroy the Cullens."
"What else can you tell me?" I asked. I realized that my confrontation with the four in the forest would surely not help the Cullens' case. If something were to happen to them, I would be the one to blame.
"Well, vampires have many qualities which I'm sure you already figured out. The sweet scent, tough, yet soft skin, the beautiful voice, super speed, and super strength."
"Hm..." I mumbled. This all seemed too crazy to be real. How I went from a skeptical person to some "newborn" all of a sudden...it wasn't something that was easy to swallow. "So my brother..."
"Your brother?" the woman asked confused. Then she suddenly snapped her head up and I knew she understood. "Oh no..." was all she said.
"There's no hope for him..." it wasn't a question, I already knew it. Or did I? "These special abilities, what do you know about them?" I asked.
"Oh...well just as every person is different, every vampire is different. Like there are few people with special gifts, vampires can be gifted as well. Often times from what I know, they are an amplification of something that existed in them as humans. For example, Alice, one of the Cullens that Aro truly desires was put into a ward as she was said to have these visions and people feared her. Now, as a vampire, her visions are extremely accurate."
"So, an extension of our human talents?" I asked. This amused me. If this were true, the powers that David and I joked about may be true. His manipulative powers may develop into mind control, making him a truly desirable vampire to Aro, but me...my knack to get what I want, could it really develop into controlling what's to come? As farfetched as it sounded, the fact that I was a vampire now told me that nothing was impossible. There had to be a way to test my powers.
"Was there something you think you might have?" the woman asked, intrigued.
"My brother...he always joked that I had these powers to get what I always wanted. Is there something that this could become?"
"Oh my...this reminds me of Siobhan. A woman who Aro, Eleazar, and Carlisle all thought could will something to happen. Perhaps yours can be some extension of that gift."
"I wish there was some way to know..." I mumbled.
"Perhaps the time will come sooner than you expect. Also, may I ask you for a favor?" the woman asked quietly. "I know I have no rights after you've already spared my life, but this may help you too."
"I've done nothing for you, and after you've fearlessly explained everything to me, I owe you nothing less than what's left of my life."
"Your words are kind," the woman sighed. "I can see why you have no problem to resist the temptation of blood even as a newborn. You are pristine, like the leader of the Cullens, Carlisle. Regardless, there is no way you can fight the Volturi, they are too powerful. You know how powerful Jane is. You must resist the urge to rebel and work with the Volturi doing as they wish until you have a chance to escape. Perhaps it would be best to wait for your brother to be recruited and together, you will have a better-"
"My brother will not become a monster!" I shouted out angrily.
"I'm sorry...but I believe there is no other way. Please, grant me my request and do not throw your life away," the woman got on her knees and begged. She fearlessly walked over to me and placed a hand on my cheek. "You are so beautiful, just about the age my son would be. I cannot imagine the torment they will put you through after they find out your powers if you resist to join them."
"So you're saying to just live like this!? Just live as a monster and let my brother face the same fate!?"
"Please," the woman pleaded. "I don't want you to be killed!"
"I'm already dead!" I fought back. "This shit is worse than death! I'll destroy this freaking joke of a life for my brother!"
"I understand your pain. But you must understand that your survival, monster or not, is the only chance you have to save your brother. Even if you choose to throw your life away, they will find him. And they will do to him what they did to you. Perhaps worse if you go against their wishes." She hit my weak point with that statement. She was completely right, and if I wanted to save my brother, I would have to do all I could to stay alive, even if that meant working for these Volturi. Also, if I stayed with them, I would know when they planned to get my brother, and then I would have to improvise and see what I could manage for his safety.
"Thank you for everything..." I said, not knowing what else I could do now. "You are a real help."
"No, thank you for letting me live, though my time is clearly limited," the woman no longer cried, even speaking of her inevitable demise.
"How important am I?" I asked, not wanting anything to happen to this woman.
"If you have powers that can help the Volturi, particularly against the new Cullen, I would say you were quite important." Though she answered thoughtfully, she seemed confused with my question. She studied my face as though trying to appraise my intentions.
"Maybe you don't have to..." I couldn't finish my sentence.
"They fed me to a newborn," she said blatantly. "They don't need me anymore and want me dead. If you don't kill me, they will."
"Well let's hope I'm really important..." I smirked. I heard footsteps down the hall, and I knew that somebody was coming. Judging from the sweet scent, it was another vampire. Probably one of the Volturi, or a few since they seemed to not travel alone.
"Oh," of course, the voice of the one whose company I enjoyed least echoed in the room. "Gianna." she smiled at the woman who looked at her with terrified eyes.
"Stop!" I shouted, and the blonde looked at me with that smile I resented most.
"I take no orders from you," she said with a brazen voice. "I'm surprised you're still alive," she didn't take her eyes off me as she said this. "I'm sure Aro will be very interested to hear this." this was the most words I ever heard this girl speak, and I did not enjoy it. "Felix, get rid of her."
"No!" I snarled, surprised at the intensity of my voice, like the roar of a tiger.
"Excuse me?" Jane glowered at me. I suddenly felt the burning sensation ripping through my body, but I wasn't going to let her win this time, I was a vampire too. It was very hard to concentrate through the pain, but it wasn't impossible since I was already used to it. I closed my eyes, and willed this pain to go away. I didn't want it here and it needed to stop now. Slowly, I felt my body slip away from the pain, the same it had earlier. My fingers returned to me first, outer extremities following, until I could feel my entire body leaving my mind, which was inundated by Jane's enmity. Once here in the safety of the corporeal world, I could easily command the earth around me to do as I wished. It was here that I could see the girl with the snide face, and do what I had always wanted to do. The stones below her crumbled, wiping the revolting smile off her face as she yelped, falling to the ground.
"Jane!" Felix knelt down to help the girl, who extended her arm up to stop him.
"I'm fine," she stated angrily, leering at me. Though it brought me great joy and hope to anger her, my plan to remain incognito had failed. She already knew that I possessed an arsenal of powers that could crush her. I sensed the slightest tinge of fear behind her firewall of anger. "Let's get to Aro. And take care of that girl."
"Nobody touches Gianna without killing me first," I pulled the shaking woman behind me.
"I would very gladly grant your wish," Felix said angrily.
"Stop it, Felix," the other of Jane's guards finally spoke. "I'll hold him down and you kill the girl." With a flash, the larger man was on me and I heard the woman screaming.
"Stop!" I shouted out, closing my eyes and focusing on the survival of the woman. At this moment, nothing mattered more.
"Brothers!" Aro's voice echoed into the room and everyone froze. "My my, what an interesting conundrum."
"Aro," Jane bowed to him and her two guards were instantly at her side again. I picked myself off the ground and pulled the motionless woman behind me. The next time, I would be prepared to retaliate, no matter how fast these vampires moved. I already knew how my powers worked. My brother always explained that the root to all strength is belief.
"Gianna! You live!" Aro said astonished. "I was sure Bradley would have appreciated such a wonderful gift."
"A gift?" I scowled. How could he think that the life of an innocent woman was a gift? These vampires were nothing but monsters.
"You do not feel your thirst?" Aro asked, staring inquisitively at me. "I was sure you would appreciate us providing your first meal, and one so great as Gianna! Her blood is sweet, sweeter than most."
"I need no blood," I muttered. "And particularly not one of this innocent woman. I will do as you wish, but my terms are that nobody harm her," I glared at Jane with my words. She only smiled.
"Oh my! You protect your meal? How you remind me of Carlisle and his little Edward! Brilliant! A newborn and still capable of human emotion and self control! My, what a wondrous vampire you've become!" Aro chirped on excitedly about matters I still could not fathom. "But I'm sorry to inform you that if you wish Gianna to stay alive, you must turn her yourself."
"Turn her?" I whispered to Gianna, who looked ghastly.
"Oh, she failed to tell you this little detail," Aro said with a huge smile. I wondered if he could tell that I wanted to rip his throat out. I'm sure he would know instantly when he touched my hand. "When a vampire bites a mortal and manages not to kill, the mortal becomes one of us. I'm not sure how useful Gianna will be to us, but if you insist on her survival, I cannot refuse you the opportunity to try."
"And if I refuse?" I snarled. I wanted this young woman to stay alive, not join the ranks of the undead I would not accept to be called living.
"I cannot give you any other option, but I know you will choose wisely," Aro said before waving his arm. Aro and the female vampire attached to him left the room. Jane and Felix stared at me for a second before taking their leave with the other guard and Alec.
"I'm supposed to bite you?" I asked in disgust once I knew we were alone. I figured my senses had to be as good as theirs, so if I could not smell the foulness of their sweet scent, they should not be able to hear us.
"It seems there is no other choice..." Gianna replied with a shaky voice.
"You seem afraid."
"It's not that I do not trust you," she said to me, intensely gazing into my eyes I knew were no longer my friendly honey, but some resemblance of the demonic red of the others. "It's that it is impossible. While you show more self control than any newborn I've seen, even mature vampires have trouble stopping once they taste the sweetness of blood. Aro knows this, and thus has decided to give me a false chance of survival."
"I just have to bite you and stop?" I asked, wondering how difficult it would actually be. Feeling the intense burn in my throat and fighting off her sweet scent was difficult enough, so I knew it would be quite the challenge once the blood swirled in my mouth, but impossible?
"You will not be able to stop, but if you kill me quickly, I will hardly feel a thing," she said, marking her words of death. "Please, if you ever find my son, let him know I loved him. Let him know I tried my hardest to escape this place, find him again and apologize for my failure as a mother. Oh Fred...if only I spent more time with you when I had the chance. If only I were a better mother, I would not have come to this damned place."
"I will do what I can," I promised. I hesitated a moment as I stood, towering over the whimpering figure who had no faith in me. Did I believe that I could stop? I thought of what Aro had said about Edward and some Carlisle who defended their meals as I did. Have they changed their fair share of humans as well? I could see the pulse in the woman's neck, and it drew me into a trance and I felt myself losing control, losing my senses when no blood had yet to spill.
"I will keep you alive," I promised, and willed that thought into existence as I bit down into her soft flesh, no resistance from her skin as my teeth ripped into her so easily. Sweet liquid poured into my mouth and the taste tossed me into a frenzy as it washed down my throat, slightly easing the burning dryness. It was the sweetest thing I've ever tasted, like ambrosia dancing wildly in my mouth. The greatest feeling I've ever felt to have blood flooding through my lips. Blood. This was not honey in my mouth, it was blood, human blood, and it made me queasy. Screams penetrated my ears when my sense of hearing returned, and a horrified woman stood staring at me, and I knew the pain she felt, the same I experienced for the past couple of days. But I knew she could endure it, the same I had. She was a strong woman and would be an even stronger vampire and I was glad I did not kill her. With her, I had a better chance.