Chapter 71 - Probation
“This conversation had some point to it?” Alena said with an odd gruffness as she released herself from the hug. Marcus let them go with a smirk. They were still not used to hugs and kindness.
“The Dark One will have his place in the files the Watchers keep. Hell, he should have his own section by now, but whether the Watchers would consent to help me after all this time, that’s another question,” Rowan admitted.
“Where to?” Marcus asked, and Rowan took a deep breath. She was about to break the number one cardinal rule of the Watchers and betray their location to a supernatural being. She didn’t want Marcus to realize they might kill her for it, but they wouldn’t harm either Marcus or Alena.
“Amsterdam,” Rowan answered, and he nodded.
Rowan seemed preoccupied during their journey to the Netherlands. Her mind traveled the distant paths of memory, but both Alena and Marcus picked up on the fact that she wasn’t just nervous, Rowan was afraid.
They confronted her on their way to shore, but Rowan made light of it and insisted that she’d remembered things she hadn’t allowed herself to think of in years. They didn’t buy her explanation, and it made them edgy, but they trusted that she wouldn’t lead them into danger.
“Wait for me here, please,” Rowan asked them to wait in an alley, and before they could protest, she disappeared around a corner. They could have followed her, but something in her manner prevented them from doing just that.
“I have a terrible feeling about this,” Alena said, and Marcus felt the same way. There was something Rowan wasn’t telling them.
Hours passed, and their concern turned to panic. A slight drizzle earlier had eradicated Rowan’s scent trail, and she could be anywhere in the city. They were about to go search for her when she stepped from the darkness to their left, and she wasn’t alone.
They greeted her halfway across the street. Rowan seemed different somehow; stronger, but her lack of concern for those who accompanied her, put them at their ease, even though she looked slightly grim.
“They will tolerate us, but they will not help us. We can search their archives, but we will be under observation the entire time,” Rowan explained with slight anger that manifested more as if Watchers hurt her feelings with their attitude.
Rowan didn’t introduce the people with her, and they led the group to a small in where they spent the day in cramped quarters. The humans returned at nightfall and insisted that the vampire’s consent to be bound and blindfolded. Only Rowan’s continued calm kept Alena and Marcus from refusing to cooperate.
When they finally arrived at their secret location, Marcus and Alena found that the Watchers didn't tie Rowan up or blindfold her. She knew their destination all along, but she could and wouldn’t tell them, which meant she still felt some sense of loyalty toward these people. This thought angered both Marcus and Alena. It also hurt their feelings and made them reevaluate their trust in Rowan.
The Watchers didn’t trust Marcus and Alena, that much was obvious. Whatever Rowan did next would decide their fate and hers, but Marcus and Alena didn’t know this. She saw the betrayal and anger in their eyes, but she dared not ask for their trust.
The Watchers needed to see Rowan as isolated from the two vampires. She needed them to view her as a separate unit, forced into an alliance with the vampires out of necessity, and not in league with them.
The watchers would observe their every interaction as long as they were behind the walls of the fortress, and Rowan knew there was only one way to get the Watchers to believe her act; Alena and Marcus had to question their trust in her and her motives.
The Watchers allocated separate rooms to them and kept them locked inside those rooms for twenty-four hours. Marcus and Alena wondered if they locked all of them up? Did Rowan make a deal with the Watchers? Did she conspire against them? Neither of them wanted to believe such a thing, and if Rowan wasn’t locked up and if she wasn’t in league with the Watchers, what did all of this mean and where would it lead?
The same two Watchers finally opened the doors for each of them and brought them to the main library as if nothing happened. Rowan sat at the large table, and she noticed how well they tried to hang onto their tempers.
Rowan waited until the servants left before she put the book she read on the table. She kept her expression neutral, her feelings in check, and her emotions distant. She did not greet them, did not explain the situation, and just stared at them with unreadable eyes.
Alena and Marcus stopped, anger sparking to life on them as her steady gaze observed them as if they were strangers. It took a moment for them to realize Rowan wasn’t just staring at them, she also listening intently as if she waited for something to happen, and then they heard it; a small but distinct sound almost below even their hearing. Someone, somewhere outside this room, watched them.
They glanced at her again, and they spied a distinct warning in her eyes. Alena and Marcus looked at each other, and few things started to make sense. They were never alone. This distance Rowan created had a reason, and with what little they knew of the Watchers, they didn’t tolerate fraternizing with the enemy. They were the enemy, and if Rowan was in league with them, then Rowan also qualified as the enemy.
This whole scenario was a test of Rowan’s allegiances. If the Watchers came to see Rowan as tainted by their influence, then she would become a danger to the organization along with them, and they would have more pressing concerns than some ancient evil.
It took only a second for them to understand that Rowan risked her life and theirs to come to these people for help. To save her life and their own, they would have to be the Marcus and Alena she first met at their castle.
“What is the meaning of this?” Alena demanded with her best impersonation of Victor’s daughter. Strange how alien it felt to be that woman.
“You wanted access to the library of the Watchers, and I agreed that it was our best course of action. Here we are. We have a problem, and the solution may hide on these shelves. I don’t care if you trust me, but you're safe as long as you remain calm and reasonable,” Rowan said in a tone of bored disinterest they could barely remember from when she first joined them. They picked up on the slight stress she placed on the words calm and reasonable.
“When you raised this possibility you didn’t mention being taken hostage,” Marcus stated in cold tones that would have made Victor proud.
“Well, it must have slipped my mind,” Rowan said with some sarcasm, and Alena found she really didn’t like this version of her sister. This was the Rowan she could have hated.
“You can be very grateful that we need both you and your friends to achieve our objective,” Alena retaliated in icy tones layered with innuendo.
“Really? You are alive but for the grace of our hosts. Do not give them an excuse to deal with you as they dealt with others in the past,” Rowan retaliated, and the way she said those words gave a wealth of meaning to the undertones. It was a warning that the Watchers did more than watch.