Was Jane always the crowning gem of Aro's collection? Jane One-Shot Challenge
1. The Spare
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1417 Review this Chapter
The beautiful, searing pain drained from my pores as the last of the kerosene tongues licked at my skin. Though my eyes were shut, I felt very aware and alert. I wasn’t sure how long I had been unconscious; my limbo-like state had been riddled with the most exhilarating flame coursing through my veins. But now the flame was gone, replaced by a strange weightlessness.
I finally opened my eyes to an unfamiliar yet undoubtedly remarkable ceiling; it was painted with an elaborate blue sky, complete with wispy white clouds. If I hadn’t felt the uncomfortable warmth of the white cotton sheets that swaddled me or smelled the plaster of the walls or tasted the stale sweetness of the air—had I ever been able to taste air before?—I might’ve thought I was outside. The colors were crisp and almost tangible with my new, inexplicably vivid sight.
I made to sit up, but before I could finish the thought, the sheets were falling from my shoulders and I was upright. A broken gasp rang in my ear and before I could stop myself, I sprung into a crouch on the floor, snarling toward the sound. But the face I saw made something within me falter.
“Alec? ALEC!” I was stunned temporarily, choking at the sound that came from my mouth, like a song. I leapt to his side, kneeling next to his trembling form beneath a heap of sheets. I could hear the unusually accelerated thrum of his heart echoing form the hollow in his chest. I stroked his cheek. He tensed under my touch and his eyes flew open to reveal two menacingly ruby pupils. With another piercing gasp, the two crimson spheres were fixed on my face.
“Sister?” I grimaced. He spoke with a voice not his own…It was too melodic and lulling. Where had its husky timbre gone?
Seeing him like this, I felt I should weep but found I couldn’t, as if my tear ducts had been dammed shut. Before I could begin, he demanded of me the same thoughts I had been aimlessly trying to sift through in my own head.
His face was tortured, save for his ravenous eyes. I didn’t have the chance to be startled as he sat up abruptly. “Your skin…” he murmured, grazing my forehead with the back of his hand. He appraised my face. "Your eyes,” he breathed, holding my gaze. “What has happened to you?”
I stood from beside him and took in the house-sized room around us. I slowly paced the length of the room, absently noting the hem of a loose-fitting, cotton nightgown swirling about my knees. There were four white marbled pillars, one in each corner of the room, standing from floor to ceiling. A miniature staircase of three steps led me down from the circular platform upon which the beds were positioned. Long velvet drapes partially concealed an oversized window opposite the bed I had stood from. I hurried to the window and threw back the curtain, revealing night-darkened roads and rooftops, realizing that I was looking down from a very high tower. But it wasn’t the landscape that caught my attention.
It was my own face, a milky watermark reflection in the makeshift mirror that the night sky made behind the glass. I lifted my hand to touch my face and the ghost in the glass did the same.
“Brother,” I turned to Alec, my fingers still caressing my own cheek, stunned at the smoothness. “What has happened to us?”
He turned his hands over and over, from back to palm, inspecting his porcelain skin.
“Ah, you’ve awakened,” a saccharine voice rang off the high ceiling. Alec was suddenly in a defensive crouch before me. From the shadowed arched entryway, a white-haired man floated toward us, followed closely by a bowing, red-hooded figure and an entourage of three black hoods. It was from beneath the singular red hood that a constant stream of low snarls issued.
“Renata, beloved, be still. They will do me no harm,” he continued confidently striding toward us with a serene smile. His human shadow looked up sharply, the hood falling from her head, exposing a pale, glorious face surrounded by a halo of impossibly blood-red hair. “Young ones,” the man’s hearty voice tore me from the sheer sight of Renata. He looked pleasantly upon Alec and me as if we were the answers to his prayers.
“What do you want with us?” Alec seethed, crouching even further and holding his arm out behind his back, pushing me behind him.
The man simply shook his head in awe, continuing to smile. “See how bold this young one is, Renata. He even defends the female! Peculiar…amazing…” His stride halted just before Alec. “Give me your hand, young one." It was not a request, but a command. He bowed to level with Alec and reached his hand out, palm forward as if pushing against an invisible wall. “I mean you no harm.” His suspiciously kind smile widened.
“Please, Master,” Renata growled. “The young ones cannot be trusted. They are too unpredictable! Imagine—collected from an army of newborns! They were created to harm you!”
“You know what they say, dearest, keep friends close and enemies closer…” he chuckled warmly, as if she was a four-year-old telling a silly joke.
“Please, Master…I can feel it. He is pushing against my shield.”
The man straightened from his bow in surprise. “He has a gift.”
Alec, too, straightened from his crouch, confused at the words the man had whispered with such awe.
“What are you doing to him?” I whispered in my brother’s ear, burying myself into his back.
“I have done nothing, Janey, you see I have not moved once. I know not of what he speaks,” Alec muttered.
The man faced us again wearing a serene smile. “Do not be afraid, young ones. You will not be harmed.” This did not sound like a promise, and his appraising stares at me were unsettling. “Come, Alec.” My instantaneous burst of fear resounded in an animalistic snarl. Alec fell back against me protectively.
The man’s smile vanished as he looked upon me, disgusted. “Chelsea,” he muttered conversationally.
I opened my mouth foolishly to tell him that this was not my name, but my thought was interrupted. “Yes, Master,” a woman’s voice called from the doorway.
“Would you be so kind, my pet?” he cooed enigmatically to the impossibly beautiful blonde stepping gracefully toward us. He faced her, but nodded toward me, huddled behind my brother.
“Of course, Master,” she bowed her head in devout loyalty.
“Renata,” he turned to glance over his shoulder toward the woman that was his shadow, his voice barely a hushed whisper. “Tell Demetri he may rid us of the spare. He will be pleased, I am sure. The young ones are his favorite game.” A smirk curled his lips. “Come, Alec,” he held his arm open beside him, waiting for my brother’s shoulders to fill the vacancy. To my surprise, Alec rose, unhesitating.
“Brother, don’t leave me!” I whispered harshly.
“Silence, Sister, you will be fine, I promise,” Alec looked at me as if I was being ridiculous. I watched the man float toward the door, my brother under one arm, Renata’s arm linked in the other. Chelsea inched closer to me, a demure smile on her face as she blocked Alec from view. Infuriated, I rose and glared into the crimson eyes of the woman that stood in my way.
“NO!” I shouted. As my scream pierced the air, Chelsea collapsed to the floor with a thunderous boom, like a rockslide, shrieking and convulsing. The most inexplicable frenzy of ecstasy washed over me as I hovered over her.
Was I doing that? Was I causing her pain? Hadn’t I just been thinking about hurting her?
As realization struck, a shrill, victorious cry escaped my lips. I thought harder and harder and Chelsea screamed ferociously—desperately—her hands braced in tight fists against the floor.
I looked up, expecting to find the man charging at me furiously in defense of his ‘pet’. Instead, he broke his gaze from my brother, still under his arm, to gaze at me. He smiled as if he was laying eyes upon a precious gem.
Chelsea’s screaming ceased as I matched his stare. She scrambled into a crouch before me, no longer smiling. “Why, you little—”
“Peace, Chelsea,” he ordered. She stood stiffly, glaring at me. The man’s eyes glimmered, still fixed on mine. “You will not touch her.”
His fingers tightened around my brother’s shoulder and he outstretched the other arm, which had been previously secured in Renata’s—the space that now awaited me.
He nodded, beckoning me forward.
“Come, precious one.”