Chapter 73 - Distrust
The room they entered had a bare floor and an absolute lack of furniture. There was no pretense that this would be anything but an interrogation. Rowan walked over to the marked circle on the floor and seated herself on her knees as instructed. Alderin paced the room in lazy circles as if she were inspecting Rowan, and she was.
“Why are you here, Angel?” She asked. Rowan kept her thoughts and mind tautly under control; she hadn’t forgotten how effective Alderin was.
“We’re looking for an ancient Damphir,” Rowan answered. The girl she was when Alderin knew her, would have retorted that she already responded to their bloody questions. Alderin frowned.
“Why?” Alderin demanded.
“It will destroy us all,” Rowan answered.
“Vampires?" Alderin asked.
“He sees no difference between you and us,” Rowan answered with straightforward honesty.
“It will come for us?” Alderin clarified.
“It already has, and you know it,” Rowan responded forcefully, and Alderin’s frown deepened.
“You see yourself as Vampire?” Alderin continued.
“Do you see yourself as human?” Rowan returned, and Alderin glared at her.
“You’re asking the wrong questions,” Rowan suggested.
“What questions should I be asking?′ Alderin accepted that this interview would not get far if they followed protocol. She remembered how stubborn Angel could be if she wanted.
“Am I a danger to you? Do I want to rip out your throat and drink your blood?” Rowan suggested with bitter humor.
“Do you?” Alderin asked, but she finally stopped pacing, which meant that Rowan had her attention.
“No, not unless you’re a threat to me,” Rowan answered with calm deliberation.
“What would make me a threat to you?” Alderin asked, and this time she sat down on her knees, some distance from Rowan.
“You would be a threat to me if you stand in the way of stopping this monster or if you hurt them,” Rowan’s gaze was direct and unflinching. Alderin had to admit that this woman wasn’t the girl she once knew.
“Them? The vampires?” Alderin enquired.
“Yes,” Rowan answered without hesitation.
“What danger are they to us?” Alderin continued.
“Don’t stand in their way,” Rowan warned with the same intensity she showed before.
“If we help them, would they leave you here?” Alderin suggested, and Rowan stiffened.
“No,” she answered without the slightest hesitation.
“Would you want to stay?” Alderin asked with an intensity that betrayed her attempt to force her will through the barrier she sensed in Angel. Angel wasn’t this strong when she still lived with them. All Alderin knew with certainty was that Angel no longer existed.
“No,” again, Rowan answered without hesitation.
“Is he your lover?” Alderin asked, and Rowan seemed angered at the intrusion.
“Yes,” Rowan stared her down as the vampire gave up all pretense, and allowed her power to show, but Alderin didn’t flinch.
“She is Alena, your sister? The offspring of Victor, the same Victor who caused so much harm to us?” Alderin probed as she tried to make sense of the power she could now clearly sense in the vampire.
“Yes,” Rowan knew her only chance of survival lay in convincing Aldering to trust her.
“You are both with child?” Alderin asked, and that simple statement cut through Rowan’s defenses, allowing her to see for the first time what Rowan so jealously guarded and it confused Alderin.
She could no longer see what Rowan was thinking; she was too vampire for that. When they entered the room, Alderin detected the edges of emotions, the swirl of feelings, the intense love, and respect Rowan felt for the vampires which proved stronger than the desperate anger or hatred that once drove Rowan.
She realized that Rowan didn’t know she was pregnant and the knowledge of her baby cemented Rowan's feeling of loyalty to the others. She expected the understanding that both sisters carried Marcus’ babies to drive a wedge between Rowan and them, but it had the opposite effect. Alderin realized too late that her revelation had been a tactical error.
“I would be jealous, and angry,” Alderin felt obliged to try this avenue of questioning.
“You have known me a long time,” Rowan said with the look of someone much more mature than Alderin thought possible, “I sought my destruction. I was without purpose and place. I don’t want to die, but I accept that I may. I know what we must do to defeat this monster, and I accept that burden. I have a purpose, a reason to live, and I belong. Is that so wrong?” Rowan asked with absolute calm, and Alderin felt envy stir in her. What she would not give to feel as Rowan did, but she couldn’t allow Rowan to know.
“You know who Alena is. You know she wouldn’t bend her knee to a lesser man than Victor. He taught her to value strength above all else, and Marcus has strength. Our world is about to end. Why would I begrudge my sister a child when I don’t know who will survive this; if any of us do?” Rowan asked, and Alderin froze. Their eyes measured each other, and Alderin had to admit that they were equals now, no longer mistress and student.
“This Damphir you seek, why is he a greater threat than any other elder vampire who has ever endangered humanity?” Alderin asked.
“You’re human, you are a strong woman, and yet your Freddy could best you easily?′ Rowan asked, and Alderin nodded.
“That is our strength measured against Marcus. Now, Vladimir could break Freddy in two?” Rowan continued, and again, Alderin could only nod as she waited for Rowan to make her point.
“That is the strength of an ancient elder vampire against Marcus. This Damphir killed the Council of Five, where they gathered, and defeated them all. He killed thirty vampires to get to them,” Rowan revealed, and that garnered Alderin’s undivided attention.
“This Council ruled the entire vampire world. He did this when he was barely more than a fledgling, and vampires were many. We are few, and the ancients are all but gone. What elders remain are mostly children compared to him,” Rowan clarified the situation, and she looked oddly sad.
“You will die,” Alderin deduced, and Rowan nodded.
“Probably, but we’re the last defense you have, and because of what we are, you will not help us,” when Rowan said those words her eyes turned vampire, and Alderin shook as Rowan invaded her mind to grant her a look at what she saw in the black tomb.
That brief glimpse was so powerful and so terrifying that Alderin didn’t even notice when Rowan got to her feet and with a glance filled with pity, left Alderin to her thoughts.
Alderin couldn’t unsee the images of that place, but at least now she knew why she could not read Rowan. Some natural ability to read minds had somehow mixed with the ability to see the future, and the only possible way was through Helena and Ariana’s blood. The gift wasn’t yet strong, but one day it would become stronger than that of any who came before.
Rowan hadn’t just read her mind; she projected an image right into Alderin's guarded mind. It utilized Rowan’s natural ability to use glamor, along with her sight, to form a whole new skill. The women in Victor’s line have all been sensitive, some were seers, some could sense danger, but nothing like this.