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Grim Reaper's Release

Summary:
When the gruesome murder of a pastor is mysteriously caught on tape, what will happen to the vampire race? Suddenly, the world knows about vampires. The Cullens need to get out of Forks. And fast. But what will happen when the Volturi wants to interfere? Or the Southern Armies? And, more importantly, who are these strange vampire twins? Photobucket


Notes:
...I've been away for a seriously long time, haven't I? O.O

Well, I'm back with a new story and I still haven't decided if I should continue my other stories. A lot's been happening in my life and I'm sure my feelings on all of my other stories have changed drastically. Anyway, this is just an idea that's been floating around my head for probably a year now but I've never really developed it into more than just a smidge of an idea.

Just a few warnings before I continue: This story is seriously...morbid. It's not really a good story at all. There's violence, world domination, chaos, and the world kind of goes insane...but it has a happy ending! Promise!

Also, the chapters are gonna be really long on this. Like, seriously long. It's not that I want to get this done in less chapters or whatever, it's just that in each chapter, a few different character's point of view's on different things need to be included to add other factors of the story. I mean, if I had each new point of view a chapter, we'd probably be up to 50 chapters by the time I get to the middle.

That being said, I guess a few things you should know is that I don't know when I'll be getting new chapters up. I hope, with winter break here, I'll have this story done by the middle of February, maybe? I was planning on having this only 7 chapters at the maximum, but the farther I get into this story, the longer it seems. And, I hope, I'll be getting each chapter up each week. I've already written chapter 2 and 3 but I'm gonna post them weekly.

Next, I seriously need to thank my best mate Kira with this story. She gave me a HUGE idea for it and has been such an amazing supporter of all my stories from the start!

*breathes in relief* Alright, I think that's all for now. Now that I've gotten it all out, go read. I'm sure the story is much more interesting than my babbling. *snort*


19. Wildflowers

Rating 3/5   Word Count 9295   Review this Chapter

Tanya's Point of View

If Carlisle had been here, I was sure I would have asked him if vampires could have migraines.

I looked up through bleary eyes to give an exasperated glare towards what was addressing herself as some sort of queen of vampires and tried not to roll my eyes. I stole a peek at Kayden and chuckled when I learned he apparently had not resisted his eye roll. He caught me watching and smiled.

"Let me get this straight, you want to help the Cullens?" Katrina's sharp voice cut into whatever the strange woman was about to say with narrowed eyes. She was perched casually on the top of a chair with her leather booted feet dangling. Only a vampire could pull off such posture without falling flat on their face.

A flash of resentment flashed across the woman's, Eve, face as she was interrupted. "Yes," she said with exaggerated patience. "My sole purpose of coming to you all is to save them and then we shall see what happens." She flashed a glance towards Maria, the leader of the vampire army.

I internally grimaced and looked around me. After we had met up on the front yard, Eve had brought us up into the intimidating house. The hundreds of vampires scattered like they were mice and we were the house cat. They scurried up trees, scaled the house tiles, and completely vanished into the high grasses swaying around us. By the time I crossed the threshold into the house, I questioned if I had ever seen them in the first place. The front of the house looked untouched by their eerie presence.

Maria was leaning in the doorway, her face a mask of superiority. There was a strange man standing next to her, someone I had heard called Chester in passing, whose burgundy eyes never strayed from her form. I bit my lip, remembering the past connection between her and Jasper.

Was there an ulterior motive to her wanting to save the Cullens?

I turned my attention back to Eve, who was welcoming us to the beautiful Southern mansion. "With such a larger number of us, naturally, we'll have to be careful with keeping under cover. Maria has assured me that no humans visit the house and it has practically been forgotten by all civilization. Until the Volturi arrives with my twin, I suggest everyone who needs to hunt should go. We'll leave in groups."

My brow furrowed; this would be so much more difficult now. It wasn't just a small amount of sixty five; this was soon to be almost three hundred. How did Eve expect us to move three hundred vampires and huge, very noticeable shape shifters across the country?

Kayden's arm tightened around me and I was pulled from my thoughts. I looked up, a bit scatterbrained, to see Eve giving me a curious look.

Her lips twisted into some sort of replication of a smile as her eyes glittered like gemstones. "My dear, do you have such little faith in me? Please, humor me and tell everyone what you had just asked yourself."

My eyes widened slightly at her bluntness and I could imagine the heat rushing to my face as if I was human. I opened my mouth, stealing a glance at a questioning Kayden. "Well, I was just wondering how you all, um, plan to move all of us to D.C.?" I bit my lip, looking down at my intertwined hands that lay limply in my lap.

Eve smirked as Maria giggled, her high pitch squeal reminding me long nails being dragged down a chalkboard. I flinched away into the sound, my back crushing into Kayden's chest. I knew it was immature, but I hated the looks on their faces, like I was a child to them who didn't understand a thing that they, the adults, were talking about. I stiffened at their sneers and smug looks.

Screw them, I immediately thought, and the intensity of it was almost too much to handle. I was Tanya Denali, not some naïve adolescent. I was a prior succubus, not an innocent, clueless girl. For Christ's sake, I was older than probably even Maria herself. Who was she to suddenly look at me with quiet amusement?

My coven, along with the other covens who had travelled with us, were silent in confusion as Eve and Maria laughed, chuckles joining in with them as Maria's soldiers started to catch on that something was funny. I gritted my teeth in frustration and annoyance at the whole scene.

The only vampire who remained emotionless was Chester, the mysterious man who tagged behind Maria. He stared at me, his virbant eyes darkening by the second. There was a look there, a sort of pleading look, which captured my attention. I quietly mused over the idea of Kayden catching him staring at me so intently.

"It's simple, really," Chester began, his voice slicing through the laughter. It was the first time I had heard him speak and I listened to his words. He spoke so softly, though his voice was rough and deep, like he was growling the words from somewhere deep in his chest rather than speaking them.

Maria cut him off. Her soprano voice rose higher than Chester's as his murmurs were swallowed by her haughty words. "What Chester means to say is that we have a special way of making travelling easier. You'll see." One corner of her lips uplifted into a leer and she winked.

I narrowed my eyes in response to her steady voice, once again treating me like some inexperienced idiot. My jaw snapped together in aggravation as my legs seemed to move against my will. I found myself moving on my chair until my limbs stretched into a crouch on my seat.

I hissed at the challenging look in Maria's eyes, like she was silently telling me to bring it. I could imagine her lips forming the words, a teasing look in her eye like there was no way I could ever override her.

In response to my threatening movements, her vampires closed in around us. Out of the corner of my eye, they appeared from out of the walls, ghostly images coming into focus. Kayden stood up, his chair scratching the floorboard, to shield me from the others with a vicious look on his face.

"You bitch," I growled and Maria's eyes widened considerably. Eve's brows furrowed as she stood between us with Maria at one head of the table and me at the other. Had she even heard the term ‘bitch' before? She seemed so ancient that I highly doubted it.

Maria gasped, like she was actually a tad insulted. "Tanya, calm down. Please, how did this turn from such a friendly...gathering into a brawl?" A movement behind her right shoulder captured my interest momentarily and I disregarded her question. Chester was lurking closer, his eyes not only sizing me up, but Kayden, too, who stood as my protection.

I blinked as I realized she was awaiting my answer. "How did this become you against me, you mean? Because, for the love of God, don't try to drag everyone else into this. This is between you and I and if anybody else turns up to have something against you, they can join in. Maria, isn't it obvious why I'm so pissed off? I have a serious problem with you."

There was a low rustling of voices as Maria feigned surprise. "Oh, Tanya, I couldn't have guessed why you were suddenly looking like you were about to pounce onto me. Thank you for clearing that all up! I never would have thought it was just because you had a problem with me. And, please, could you enlighten me with why that may be? Tanya, darling, it's not like we exactly know each other." Her voice was so sweet, pleasant and sugary.

I looked around me, into the pearly faces of her vampire army. They all looked back, eyes wide and almost...vacant. I was sure they had lives - or whatever someone like ourselves could have - and personalities but to me they looked empty of all life. We may have just met but did she really think I didn't know her? I knew her better than most of the vampires in the crowds of covens from Loreto. I knew her wants, her desires, to have the South and possibly even something more. The world.

I knew her ways, her ways of capturing strong humans who would make good soldiers. How she lured them in like the Black Widow spider, only to give them something much worse than death. I knew of her hold over Jasper. I had seen evidence of it myself. Sometimes, some brief moments, when he talked of his past experiences of the armies, a certain sort of mist would cover his eyes.

It always alarmed Alice.

I turned back to Maria, to her impassive face and cold eyes. Oh, honey, I know you much better than you think. "I think I know and understand you much more than you could even comprehend. You stole their lives!" I wildly pointed to the hushed crowd around us. "You had no right to turn them and you know it! And why did you do it? For selfish reasons like world domination! And now you want our help, our service, in guiding you to the Cullens for no other motive than Jasper."

She flinched at his name and I smiled in delight, knowing that I was hitting a nerve so deeply buried within her, that she probably didn't even realize it was there.

Chester looked up, his eyes flickering between Maria and I but I ignored it.

"How did you...how do you know about that?" She stammered, her face hectic in released emotions. Anger, desperation, sadness. Even a bit of love. I wrinkled my nose in disgust towards her caring for Jasper.

I shook my head at her stupidity. "How could I not?" I spat. "Jasper is my friend, like my cousin. A brother, even. After all that you did to him, the scars you left upon not only his skin but his heart, how can you even look at yourself? You're a wretched monster, using all of us like this for no other cause then to try to reignite some past flame. And to top it all off, you strut around here like someone of actual importance. You don't understand, though, do you? You don't see that you're not in control over me. I don't look to you as a sort of leader or queen. Those are your people who do so, the souls you stole to keep yourself company in this hell that you've so nicely created. You have no right to talk to me like I am some slave to you! I am your equal, if not your superior. I am giving you my help, you're not taking it. If I wanted to, my coven would be out of here in a second. I'm sure we could save the Cullens with less of a fuss than you could. But no, you would never allow that, would you, Maria? You would never give up the chance to see Jasper. Jasper, who's going to turn away from you the second he sees you. Jasper, who's going to pity you for not moving on when he has. Jasper, who's going to look you in the eye and tell you how much he hates you."

My words droned on in a still silence far after they had left my lips. I wouldn't tear my gaze from Maria, though. I just couldn't. I needed to see my words impact her and I wouldn't trade that sight for anything in the world, including the faces of everyone surrounding us.

Maria's mouth was half open, like she wanted to snap some witty, smug reply but couldn't think of one. Her ruby eyes were slowly widening even further as her fists clenched tighter and tighter at her side. She blinked, like my words had just sunk in, and slowly raised her hand to wave off the outraged forms of her bodyguards.

She licked her lips in haste and plastered on a fake, cheery smile. "Well, Tanya Denali, I give you credit. You're rather properly informed, aren't you?" Her eyes turned violently from shocked and outraged to full of unexpected sorrow. I watched as her lip began to slightly tremble and she turned away, loudly slapping the comforting hand of Eve away.

And then, so slowly it seemed like she couldn't do it fast enough, she walked out of the dining room. I watched as her people made an exit for her, their heads respectfully bowed and courteous. Sam Uley, at the end, turned towards her with a black fire raging in his eyes. The look he gave her made me wonder if the enormous wolves were being kept here without their say.

As her footsteps up the front stairs resounded through the house, I began to loosen my stiff posture. I sat back on my feet and peered around me, cautious of everyone else's response to my outburst. Carmen's eyes were locked on my form, wide and almost...proud? Eleazar's look was appraising as his eyes slid over me, like he had never seen me before and I was an unfamiliar person to him. Kate and Garret both smirked at me, their eyes reminding me of a cat's with their cunning look. I pried my eyes from my family to casually glance at everyone else.

Eve looked lost, torn between one ‘child' and the other, as she called us. Her eyes drifted towards mine and there seemed a tender sadness within them, like she knew she should do something but refused to. Chester watched me with a determined look on his face and I shivered. The rest were divided by expressions of awe, anger, or fear.

I saved the most important face for last, my eyes cautiously gliding over to Kayden's to gauge his reaction. He had never seen me so...savage, I realized.

His eyes were wide, his eyebrows almost completely vanishing into his hair. They were glittering red and, to my surprise, pleasantly joyous. His lips began to turn up under my gaze until he was grinning at me with a look of heated passion. Why was he staring at me so?

Before I could get the question off my lips, he forcefully grabbed me and pulled me towards him. All my tensions with Maria and insecurities about how the others would react to my words vanished the second his lips touched mine. The knowledge that others surrounded us seemed to escape my mind and I pretended like we were enclosed in the shelter of the Amazon jungles, where we had stopped for several rendezvous along the way to this horrid place.

In my mind, it was just him and I. There was no Maria with her malevolent intentions or lip curling words. There was no confusion with the covens. There was no Eve and her unseen twin brother with their solutions and unheard of royalty among vampires. There was no secret mass army with hundreds upon hundreds of tortured vampires who yearned for the light of day. There was no shape shifter pack, too young and pure to be drawn into such an ancient web of lies and hate. There was nothing. There was just us.

I sighed in despair as he pulled back, his scent still tangy on my lips. The little slice of heaven he had reserved for me was slipping through my fingers as he settled for my hand being the only physical touch. My eyelids fluttered open to find the room almost empty and I knew my face would have brightened at this fact. It seemed we sure did know how to clear a room.

There was one identifiable figure left in the room, however. A man hidden in the shadows with a fierce yet very handsome face with miserable scarlet eyes that seemed to be ablaze with uncontained curiosity. A rumpled crown of darkened blonde hair fell in loose curls around his young face and framed his delicately narrow bone structure.

Chester.

My eyes fell on him the same second Kayden's did and a startling growl began to erupt from the back of his throat. I put my hand sternly on his forearm as my eyes strained on Chester's form. The last thing I needed was a second fight, this time physical, between the two. And, looking into the emotionally tangled eyes of Chester, I knew there was something so belligerent about him. The way his toned muscles flexed under the thin layer of cloth and his face warped out of his usual mask of aloofness into a perilous expression proved my point.

"What do you want?" Kayden's eyes narrowed in vicious contempt and I shared his feelings. It was like anyone who wasn't from the Loreto group was to be tolerated with the smallest bit of respect. They were close to becoming quick enemies, these strange vampires from the South.

Chester looked at him with the slightest amount of interest as if he was some unexpected result of a science lab. His scorching eyes left Kayden and fell on me, to my extreme discomfort. I would have understood if he had wanted to take a go at Kayden, especially with his daunting size, but it made no logical sense in my mind for him to want to strike something up with me.

"I need to talk to you," he muttered in that gravelly voice of his. My eyes widened at his request.

Kayden grumbled under his breath. "Absolutely not," he replied for me. I bit my lip, watching Chester's eyes slowly drag over to Kayden with a loathing shining through his eyes.

His top lip lifted in the beginning of a snarl as he listened to Kayden. "I didn't ask you."

I stood up, stopping the growing tension between both of them. I lay my hand on Kayden's shoulder and gave a soft squeeze as his face swiveled to look at me with an incredulous glare. "I'll talk," I murmured, my eyes pulling from Kayden's face to watch Chester.

He gave me a satisfied nod and walked past me, out the doorway and into the larger foyer of the house. My forehead crinkled in puzzlement and I gave Kayden a small shrug as I turned to walk out of the room and follow Chester to wherever he was going.

I walked into the capacious foyer and looked up, my gaze lingering on the grand chandelier with its stalactite-like crystals. His scent had gone through here but he had vanished. I followed the strong scent through the foyer and towards the front door. As my hand fell on the knob, I rolled my eyes. How dramatic of him to leave me hanging on where the hell he could be.

The door swung open under my touch to find him leaning against the pillar on the porch. He rested casually, dressed in all black, as his face was turned away from me, looking at the fields that covered the lawn with swaying high grasses. I could see the barely controlled anger radiating through him, the faint trembling of his fingers and tightened jawbone.

I closed the door behind me, feeling small in his overwhelming presence. "What did you need to talk to me about?" He kept still, like he had yet to detect my company, and the only evidence that he had heard me was a slightly loosening of his mouth.

"We have to get out of hearing range," he mumbled, shoving his hands deep in his pockets and leaping from the porch with catlike grace. I blinked, stunned by the weirdness of this all. He walked away from the house, not bothering to see if I would follow. I bit my lip, it was apparently all up to me.

With a surrendering groan, I hurriedly ran down the porch steps to trail after him. I caught up easily, standing by his side, and he began to pick up his pace. I ran beside him, content in the heated smells of the South. It had been such a long, long time since I had been down here, I realized, and the terrain and aromas of the Southern territory was so different from the North.

In the flat distance I could see a large oak tree, its roots clawing into the soft soil around it like fingers. I could tell this was the object he aimed for. His eyes were narrowing on the tree, on its rough bark and lush leaves.

We reached it in less than fifteen seconds. He stopped under it and I shoved my heels down into the dirt to halt. I stood there, awkward and almost ungainly, under the wide branches of the harboring tree. Chester circled it slowly, his fingers trailing over the jagged bark and engravings, as his eyes examined it.

I watched him, the way the small amount of skin he exposed glittered under the blistering sun above us. His hands and fingers were nimble, gently tracing the bumps. His bare neck shimmered, calling to my attention as his face was a façade of concentration. The grasses around us waved like a sea of dried out life.

"You're probably wondering what the hell I called you out here for," he finally said, his eyes tearing from the bark in anguish, though his hands still worked on their inspection of the tree. I nodded, my eyes narrowing on him. He sighed and his hand dropped.

For some reason, whatever he needed to say seemed difficult for him to get out. He looked into the distance and the wind ruffled his hair. As it did so, I could see the faint golden sparks hidden in the wild tresses.

I leaned against the precious tree, watching him out of the corner of my eye as I looked straight forward. "Does it have something to do with my coven?"

He shook his head and swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing nervously. He looked back at me and I suddenly realized that up until now, he had resisted any chance to look at me. I found this strange and wondered why he had done so. Was it because he was scared of whatever facts I may reveal to him?

"No, not precisely. More like you." I cocked my head to the side at his reply. His lips pursed and he looked up the cerulean skies above us in thought. He shook his head once more in something that resembled frustration.

I looked down into the soil around us and dragged the tip of my shoe through the earth. "Alright, what about me?"

He paused, his hand reaching up to lock around the base of a bulky branch. He kept his eyes downcast and I wondered how his penetrating gaze didn't dig a hole to China though the ground.

"There was something you...said in there," he started with a strong voice, unwavering and quiet. "Something I've heard about for a while now but no one seems to know who or what it is. But you, you know." His face turned up and the intensity of his gaze surprised me. "And I think you can help me."

My mind drew up a complete blank to what he was talking about. Something I had said in there? That wasn't exactly specific. I had spoken about Maria and her army, about her lacking morals, and the Cullens. Well, I corrected myself, it was more like Jasper.

And then it clicked. Jasper. Jasper. It was so obvious by the way Chester watched Maria, the way he instinctively moved when she did, the way his eyes never left her, the way he always followed along, that so clearly showed he cared. Even if he didn't realize it himself yet, I had. I didn't know Chester too well, I hadn't even had a conversation with him yet, but knew there was something more animal that ran through his veins than human. He was more vampire than maybe any of us could ever be and he had switched the gears of his ferocity onto Maria. He would do anything, anything, to help her, save her, guide her, love her, and learn about her.

Of course he would wonder about Jasper! The pain in Maria's eyes when I said his name was so palpable and here he was, probably left in the dark to who Jasper even was. I looked at him with a pitiful expression. Though Jasper quite clearly had no feelings or ties to Maria, she still did and those could be difficult for him to cut through.

"Jasper?" I gently prodded. His eyes widened and he nodded fervently, the sadness dimming in his eyes and being replaced by excitement.

He took a step closer and leaned against the wide trunk beside me. "I don't even know who he is, but I know he's important. I've asked everyone, every soldier, in the army and not one of them will speak. Most say they've never heard the name and everyone else looks away and shrugs. But I can tell they're lying! I can see it in their eyes, the silent acknowledgement that this Jasper is someone they know. And then the shape shifters! They're even more ridiculous. They just shake their heads bitterly and tell me it's none of my business. But why? Who is he and why does he mean so much to everyone? Why does she care about him? And is it true, do you really think this whole rescue mission for a clan of vampires no one even knows is worth it if the only reason we're doing it is for her to be reunited with him? Does she even want to be reunited with him?"

He stopped and took a huff of a breath, shaking his head back and forth. His hands reached up to clutch his head as he calmed himself. This had been the first time I had heard him say so much. Usually his words were a short phrase of sharp commands. I quickly learned that everything he said before this moment was said in such a fashion to bottle all of his true emotions up. The deep, gruff voice was a disguise to enclose his real emotions within him. He must have feared that if he opened his mouth, it would be an outpour of questions and wonderings and confusion.

How long had he suppressed all of this?

Without the restraints he had created, his voice was affable and pleasant. It wasn't forcible or brutal, like I had thought his personality was. The words wove together in a buzz of speech and if you didn't listen closely, you would surely miss whatever he had said. It was like a muted hum that caught your attention because of how elegant it sounded, how old fashioned and beautiful. And the tone! It was deep, yes, but so tender. It reminded me of a calm sea, the waves and currents like pitches and timbre, but so bottomless in volume and meaning. I blinked in quiet awe of him; it was like I had never seen this vulnerable man before me.

I gulped; so many questions to answer. He had asked of me so much, so much information and so many details. A sigh escaped my lips and I looked over my shoulder at the gnarled trunk. It seemed easier to look there than his suffering face.

"Jasper is...a friend of mine," I stared lamely, but he nodded eagerly anyway. "How much do you know about the Cullen coven?" It seemed like a simple enough way to begin. I wasn't sure how much Maria knew, or even Eve, who acted like her knowledge was limitless.

Chester shrugged indifferently. "Very little. They're from a small town in northern Washington called Forks. The shape shifter pack seems to know them well. Jasper belongs to it." He listed his known facts and I nodded. Very little, indeed.

I looked out past him and over the fields and meadows that surrounded us. Where to begin? I didn't have the time to tell him the full story, Kayden would start to worry excessively if I wasn't back within the hour.

"It started with Carlisle," I began. His eyes lit up, as if the name sounded familiar but he didn't know the root of it. "Carlisle was the son of an English pastor in the 1600's. After being bitten on, ironically enough, a vampire hunt only with actual vampires, he...showed a certain talent with compassion, if you will. You obviously know of my coven's diet and you should know the Cullens believe in the same morals we do. You see, Carlisle has never, once in his almost four hundred years, tasted human blood." Chester's eyes widened and his jaw momentarily dropped.

"But...but how? In the beginning, it's impossible. The thirst! It takes years to get used to it, to rein it in and control it. How could he...not kill?" I nodded in agreement, he was right. Even I, a ‘vegetarian', would never have been able to not drink human blood in the beginning.

I gave a wry smile. "That's one of the many miracles that make Carlisle so spectacular. He denied his thirst for weeks, maybe months even, and instead of relieving it, he used it to try to kill himself. He jumped off cliffs, tried to stab himself, anything that would end his life. And in a moment of lack of control, a herd of dear ran by and he attacked. That, Chester, was probably the birth of vampire vegetarianism in the European countries.

"Carlisle travelled for two hundred years through not only Europe, where he momentarily immersed himself with the forces of the Volturi, but also America. Soon, he had such immense control that he was studying to become a doctor. After succeeding in his career, he found Edward, who was dying in a hospital in Chicago in the early 1900's. He changed him and then discovered Edward had a special ability. He could read minds. Years later came Carlisle's mate Esme, then Rosalie, their second ‘adopted' child, along with Emmett, who became Rosalie's mate."

Chester's brow furrowed and he looked at me with a perplexed look in his eyes. "I thought there were more..."

I threw my head back and laughed quietly. "Oh, of course there's more! That's just the basics! Soon after Emmett joined the family, a strange, talented couple joined. Alice and Jasper found their way into the Cullen family and for almost five decades they were simply a family. Moving around from rainy town to rainy town, Carlisle posing as a doctor at the local hospital and the rest of them, save Esme, enrolled themselves in the high school. After their four years were up, they would move again. No one ever suspected something...off about them.

"But when they moved to Forks, Edward fell in love. The only problem was that she was a human girl. They fought through the fact that he was predator and she was prey and married last summer. Her name is Bella, and they have a daughter, named Renesmee. Because of Edward and Bella, we now know that vampire human conception is indeed possible but very dangerous. Bella is now a newborn vampire with extraordinary talents, just like her daughter."

I paused, allowing him time to catch up with my story. His face was frozen into still surprise and then it was like he snapped back to life. He took a deep breath and briefly closed his eyes.

"And? What about Jasper? How did he and Alice meet? How does he know Maria?" He asked, his eyes blazing.

I bit my lip and looked downwards. How much should I tell? Just the basics or the full-fledged tale?

The wind lifted my hair around my face and I brushed it back, irritated by the strawberry strands that flew into my vision. "Jasper was a Civil War soldier in Texas. Surely you've heard of Benito and the vampire wars. Well, Jasper came around shortly after that, when Maria only had mere dreams of having an army. Has she told you of Nettie and Lucy? They were her ‘sisters', her partners in creating an army. Though they're both dead now, Jasper saw the three of them one night. Maria bit him and for a long, long time, he was her right hand man, if you will.

"They were also lovers. Jasper doesn't mind speaking of those first years of Maria's army when they slaughtered newborns mercilessly when they got too rowdy or when he grew to be depressed by her actions. But he does mind speaking about the two of them. I doubt Alice, probably the only thing in this world that he does love, can coax the secrets out of him. All I know was that they were in love, but that doesn't say much. Back in the days before your army had even thirty soldiers, Maria ruled by what I would guess was seduction. Her army was mostly made of men, except possibly a few women, including Nettie and Lucie because, obviously, she felt the males were much stronger and could do her will easier.

"There's something else you need to know about my friend, Jasper. He has a talent, too, just like Edward's mind reading abilities, Bella's shield powers, and Renesmee's memory talent. He feels your emotions and he can manipulate them. For example, with the thought in mind, he could focus all his energy on me and make me infuriated and deadly even though currently I'm as calm as anyone could be. The emotions of the army were doubled on him. He could feel the terror when he killed the newborns under Maria's bidding, he could feel the pain as Maria bit another human. There was no escape for him in the South so he brought up the nerve to leave and join a vampire couple who had once been a part of the army. Peter and Charlotte are their names and they came with us from Loreto.

"After a while, though, he decided to move on. He went into Philadelphia and met a tiny, pixie like vampire named Alice, whose background was as sketchy and mysterious as Jasper's, but her history is something for a different story. She claimed to be a psychic and she had waited weeks for him to arrive. She knew they would become lovers before he had even gone to Philadelphia. The two did indeed become mates and still are, obviously. Our kind do not switch mates often, if ever.

"She said that she had seen visions of a yellow-eyed family of vampires in the north and so the pair set off the meet them. After searching for years, they hunted down the Cullens and they embraced the two completely. Although Jasper is a member of the Cullen family, he still has problems with control because of the moments here with Maria. I can't even image what or where he would be if he had never found his little Alice."

I looked up at Chester, waiting for a question, but he stood there, deep in deliberation. His forehead was flawless marble and his face gave no expression or emotion as he stared forward. "And you think Maria never moved on?" He mumbled quietly.

I sighed and bit the inside of my cheek in quiet uncertainty. "That's a hard question, Chester. You have to remember, this is the first time I've met her. Sure, I've heard Jasper's unfortunate stories and know of his past but...well, there's no way to be sure. By her response, though, I am sure she still has some amount of emotion for him in that unmoving heart of hers. Whether it's love or just pure hated for him abandoning her army, I don't know. Maybe all she wants is revenge on him for causing what almost became the end of her army."

Though I said the words, I did not believe them. There was no contempt in her eyes when I had said his name; there was no heated anger or desire for payback. No, there were no negative emotions captured within her. There was only longing and love. Something I was sure Chester would hate to hear.

"Would he want her back?" He asked, his eyes pondering and squinted. I shook my head vigorously.

"No, Jasper isn't like that. Believe me; he would most likely spit in her face for all that she did to him. He loves Alice so completely, so fanatically, that I don't think anything Maria could say or do would get in the way of that. Jasper is a curious creature. He tries desperately to be good, to be like the rest of us, to resist all temptation. His whole time with the Cullens, he's been tortured daily by the fact that he has such trouble. He hates that, in a way, he's like an outsider and I have a feeling he blames his difficulties with adopting the Cullen way on Maria."

Chester nodded slowly, his fingers raking through his tresses as he closed his eyes for a split second. Abruptly, he opened them and turned towards me.

"If I were to leave you, would you be able to find your way back?" My eyes widened at his question and I dumbly nodded. I knew it wouldn't be too hard to find his or my scent and run back.

Complete determination took over his features and he gave me a quick smile. "Thank you, Tanya, for all of your answers. For the first time, I finally understand." I blinked my eyes in confusion as to what I had actually done and uneasily returned his smile.

"It was no problem, Chester." He smiled again and then was off, the small dust particles flying off from under his feet in swirls. He was soon just a speck of black moving through the field with a blond crown upon his head and sparkles being thrown off his skin under the bright sun.

I huffed, taken off guard by his sudden exit and instead of running behind him, eager to get back to Kayden and the rest of my family, I sat down on the soft ground. I stretched out my long legs, though I didn't really need to, and leaned back on the coarse grass. Even though the sun was searing above me, the ground was damp and cool under my back.

I opened my eyes, squinting at the sunlight and focused on the wispy clouds above me. I felt like a little kid, seeking out images in the billows of white fluff while lying on my back in the middle of nowhere. The wind whipped over my form and I closed my eyes against the breeze. There were no human sounds out here. No voices or machinery or anything. I could catch the glistening sound of a crick nearby, the way the bubbly waves rushed over the rocks embedded in the ground. I could hear a dear, about a mile away, munching on a leaf in absolute tranquility.

If I was human, I knew I would have fallen asleep, taken over by the sounds and touch of Mother Nature.

A crunch to my left resounded through the field and I bolted upright, my eyelids snapping open at the intrusion. A figure was walking through the underbrush, his broad shadow following behind him as he hacked his way through the weeds and grasses. The sunlight beamed down on his uncovered skin, his arms, legs, throat, and face and the sheer beauty of it almost blinded my eyes by the brilliant light.

I smiled at the familiar face, the impish smile with wide lips, the tendrils of thick brown hair dangling down his face in a messy way. The ruby eyes glittered in joy as he found his way to me and as he approached, his smile grew even wider.

"I was wondering where he had taken you," Kayden mumbled, sitting down next to me with a small huff. I smiled as he reached up to tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear. Like a purring cat, I closed my eyes and nuzzled into his open palm. He chuckled under his breath and I sighed, lying back down on the ruffled grass.

I folded my hands over my stomach and peered up at the sky, the top of his head just barely visible in my peripheral vision. "He just needed to ask me something," I slurred, feeling almost sleepy.

He made a sort of grunt in the back of his throat and I could see his head bob in easy acceptance. I grinned, that was how it was with Kayden. He was so open, so acquiescent with everyone or everything.

"Like what?" He sounded genuinely curious and I sighed and simultaneously flipped over onto my stomach. I dropped my head onto my arm and looked at him sideways as I drew little designs in the yielding soil.

I picked absent mindedly at a wildflower in my reach and rolled the stem between my fingers. "About one of the Cullens. One of them had...a relationship with Maria and he wanted to know about it."

Kayden pursed his lips in restrained curiosity, knowing that I was done speaking and quickly plucked the flower from my hand. I looked up at him in surprise, about to demand he give me my flower back, but he hastily slipped it behind my ear and laughed at my dumb struck expression.

As I reluctantly joined in with his boisterous laughter and rolled around with him in the grass to gather more wildflowers, a part of me wondered how I could be so blissfully happy when God could only guess what the Cullens were going through.

***

Maria's Point of View

Tanya Denali. The name made my nose twitch, made my lip curl, made my muscles tense. I had heard myths about her family, her ways, but never had I thought I would ever meet her.

And now I wish I hadn't.

Who was she to come in here and get so smart with me? To tell me off and claim that I was only helping Eve for Jasper? She wasn't here when Eve swooped down and took control. She wasn't here when I surrendered my army to Eve in secret. She didn't know a damn thing about me.

I was helping Eve because that's all I had. There was nothing else for me to do now than help her. I had lost all hopes and dreams of domination of the south the moment Eve looked at me with those violet eyes of hers. If I didn't have something to distract me from my loss of ambition, what would become of me? Would I just waste away in the deserts of this place? No, I couldn't. Not yet. I had to keep going and see this through the end.

Seeing Jasper was just a...perk. Bonus points, I suppose. Like a reward for keeping myself and my army together for so long. A prize for helping Eve and her little pack of shape shifters and the Volturi. Nothing more than that. I wouldn't get emotionally attached like last time. I gulped, or at least I didn't hope I would get too fond of being around him.

A knock on my bedroom - not that I needed the function of a bed - door caught my attention. I sighed, sitting up on the cushiony mattress and reached up to tidy my hair. It felt like a haystack around my head and I fidgeted with the strands of hair.

"Come in," I eventually called out and the door opened slowly, revealing a disheveled Chester. Even with thoughts of Jasper still fresh in my mind, my heart practically thumped out of my ribcage at the sight of him. I smiled at him as he stepped into my room and closed the door behind him.

He stood there, almost awkwardly, with his arms crossed before his chest. He looked out of place here in my room and I suddenly remembered this was the first time he had ever been up here. I felt a bit sub conscious, gazing around the room to see if I had left anything out or if it was a total mess. When I was satisfied with the status of my room, I hungrily looked at him. There was a smudge of dirt on his sleeve and his hair looked tossed by the wind but I didn't care. He looked beautiful to me.

"Where have you been?" There was a wild scent about him, like he had just run through a forest or field. It was strong, clinging to him sharply and I inhaled it greedily.

He shrugged, looking like there was something he needed to say. "In a meadow, it's not important, though. What's important is that you-"

"Is that Tanya I smell on you?" I blurted. He stopped, his eyes widening as I snapped. I couldn't help but notice the disgustingly silky scent of Tanya covering him completely. It was like he had washed his clothes in a strong feminine perfume instead of water. It made me want to gag.

He stammered, caught off guard. "Well, yes, but-"

"Why the hell were you with Tanya?" I shrieked, jumping up and off the bed. I felt like hitting something, that's how angry I was. Chester ground his teeth and sighed in exasperation. He wouldn't even deny the fact that he had been with the slimy back-stabbing bitch. He just embraced it completely.

He looked desperate for a moment but then the emotion vanished off his face. "It's not important!"

I gawked at him. Wasn't important? "How is that not important? She's practically the enemy here, Chester, and you're all buddy-buddy with her!"

He jerked, like I had slapped him, and looked down at me with astounded eyes. I swallowed back any regrets and doubts and straightened my back while crossing my arms against my chest. The old Chester would have yelled and maybe even stormed out of the room by now but he looked different to me. Like something big had changed and I was left in the dark.

"I wanted to speak to her about Jasper." I flinched, but kept my eyes leveled with him. "She seemed to know so much about him and I was curious." Something about his tone, how he practically whispered the words, got my attention and rooted the idea that I had been way off in my conclusion of what he had been doing with Tanya out there.

I hesitated, taking shallow breaths and flexing my fingers. "Why...why did you want to know about him?" A muscle in his cheek twitched as I awaited him to answer. I could have sworn that a faint blush crept up and over his exposed neck to his cheeks but the light was so dimmed that I couldn't be sure. He took a deep breath and his eyes slowly lifted from the carpeted floor to look me in the eyes.

"Because I care," he whispered, his eyes blinking steadily, like he was stunned to come to this realization. "Because I care, Maria," he repeated, louder. "I care so much that sometimes I wonder if you're completely utterly blind. I could see that whenever his name was so much as mentioned in a sentence, you flinched. I wanted to know what he had done, who he had been, how you had known him. I wanted to know everything but no one would tell me anything! And then Tanya came and she so obviously knew all about him. I had to...," he broke off, his jaw clenching tightly as he looked back down. "I had to find out who he was."

It was like a bucket of chilled water had spilled over me. My limbs felt tight and wound up under his gaze and I gulped. He looked nervous, his eyes carefully waiting for my response and his shoulders tense. I took a shaky breath, finally allowing my lips to open, and my chest heaved from the effort it took me.

I sunk down to the bed and sat there, in such a shock I didn't know what to do. Since the moment in the alleyway, we had hardly had time to speak. First it was the shape shifters and then the Loreto group had arrived. It was a day full of nonstop action and, though I hated to admit it to myself, every second not spent on worrying about the other vampires, I had been replaying those brief moments in the alley. My vampires didn't even have to ask where Noah was, they seemed to know just by the antagonistic look on Chester's face.

I looked up at him through my fingers to see a paranoid look on his face. How had we come to this? A week ago he would have nothing to do with me, only here for the sake of thirst and loyalty to the other soldiers. Now he was trying to tell me that...what? That he loved me?

"And did she give you all the information you needed?" I asked, too worn out to be sour. His brow furrowed in vacillation but then he nodded, his eyes falling downcast once again.

He leaned against the wall opposite me with crossed arms. I couldn't help but think he looked like a dark angel, standing there in the dark shadows with a glowing mane of blonde hair and an ashen face.

"Yes," he replied hoarsely. "I now understand."

I bit my lip. Hard. He knew. The one secret about myself that I had tried so hard to keep from anyone had all been let loose because of one insignificant vampire named Tanya. I groaned against my hands which tightly gripped my hair and lowered my head.

There was a rustling and a slight creaking from the floor and then I felt a pressure on the mattress beside me. I tensed, knowing he was sitting beside me, but then immediately relaxed under the touch of his hand as he put it on my shoulder.

"What's wrong?" He asked with a concerned tone. I raised my hands to pull my fingers through my hair and then lowered them until they lay lifelessly in my lap.

I paused, looking at my tiny feet which didn't even touch the ground. "You know," I whispered, peering a sidelong glance at his anxious face. "You don't even know how hard I tried to make his presence vanish from this place. I didn't want anyone to speak of him because it would be a reminder. I personally destroyed any reminders of him. And now it's all a waste because you know." A deep breath escaped through my nose and I bent forward over my knees. His hand never left my shoulder and when I glanced back at him, his face was a mask of something that reminded me of disappointment.

There was a long pause and I knew then that any feelings Chester had developed for me had immediately evaporated as soon as he learned I still cared for Jasper. I blew out a breath that fanned across my face and wondered why I had to be so cursed in relationships.

His hand tightened its grasp and I looked back at him over my shoulder. "You still...have feelings for him, don't you?" I closed my eyes in concentration. So this was how it had to be, wasn't it? Either live with my feelings for Jasper, Jasper who had been the first to capture my heart and break it. Jasper, who, Eve said, had moved on and had a mate whom he loved. Or Chester. Chester who I had despised up until a week ago, Chester who seemed to be more in love with me than Jasper ever had been. Chester who I had no competition for. Chester who had killed for me.

I looked at his face, memorizing every line and every detail. Looking at him, I wondered if I had ever really seen him before. His face was beautiful, complete with golden lashes that almost clung to his cheekbones when he closed his eyes. The bones that completed his face were so fine and flimsy looking that his face had a narrow and delicate look to it. Fair eyebrows hooded his subtly animated eyes and I grew confused as to why he hadn't found a mate yet. He seemed popular among the other vampires, specifically the women, but I had never seen him actually with one.

While studying his face, I felt like a large weight had been lifted from my shoulders, like my heart had opened up and any trace of love for Jasper had flown out only to fade away into the air. I would have cried from the sudden loss had I been alone. There was an empty pit in my chest where there had once been love and passion for a man I knew I could never have.

But, with this thought in mind, I knew a new type of love could take root there. A healthier, miraculous love that would never have to be enclosed inside my heart. It would be allowed to grow and mature into something whole and magical.

I looked to Chester, a small smile growing on my lips, and shook my head slightly. "No, I don't think I do." And I was sure of that. I was sure that the only feelings I would ever have for Jasper would be regret for turning his world upside down and hatred for myself for not being a better creator for him. I should have nourished his power, not manipulated it. I should have comforted him in his dark times, not tell him to go hunt and it would distract him.

Chester's face was unsure for a second, as if he didn't trust my words. But then he must have realized I had been completely truthful for the grin that lit up his face was as bright as the sun. I reached up tentatively to run my fingers over the silky smooth skin of his cheek and then his large hand enclosed around mine and kept it there.

He leaned forward and gently, so softly I hardly noticed it at first, pressed his lips to mine. I sighed underneath the weight of his lips and smiled. "Good," he mumbled against my mouth and I began to wonder how incredibly lucky I had been to be able to find my true soul mate.

There was a sudden noise outside and I snapped back, my hand still intertwined within his. My head whipped over to the window, where the drape was pulled down, and I looked back to Chester. He looked just as alert as I did, but more wary. I stood up, dropping his hand, and timidly walked towards the window and drew back the shade and...

And gasped. Outside on the front lawn was an assembly of figures shrouded in black cloaks. Eve was there, meeting them head on, with her elegant arms spread wide out before her. I felt something brush my back and turned back to find Chester behind me, his eyes watching the scene below like a hawk.

Someone escaped from the crowd, someone who glittered so luminously, I had to reach up and shield my eyes for a moment. I peeked down with squinted eyes, like I was staring at the sun, and saw the blinding figure grab Eve in such an intimate embrace, I wanted to look away. They held each other for a moment and then he, for no woman could be that tall, leaned back and his arm went up and waved.

The figures behind them all reached up and drew back their cloaks to reveal pasty faces and beautiful features. I gasped again at their bright red eyes and, more significantly, at the three men at the head of them. The man who had embraced Eve arched back his neck and I felt myself grow smaller and smaller as his eyes landed on my window.

They were flaming orange, like a conflagration had been alit in his irises.

My body slumped against Chester's and I gave the man below me a lazy smile. The Volturi had arrived.