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Welcome to Volterra

Summary:
"Caius, surely you see the potential. I haven't seen a prospective talent so promising since we found Jane and Alec. Can you imagine the possibilities when she is one of us?" - Aro Edward is gone. Jacob never came to Bella's room. She is alone. What happens when she goes to Italy for her senior class trip?


Notes:
This is my second fic and my first attempt at a multichaptered fic.


12. Chapter 12: Talents and Tests

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1854   Review this Chapter

Previously

"You must be very thirsty. After a few thousand years, one tends to forget what it is like to be so young. Come. I have a present waiting for you."

Aro turned and floated out of the room with Felix and Demetri behind him. I followed. Their long cloaks gently grazed the floor as we made our way through several ornate halls and down a dark stairwell into a dark hall with stonewalls. We came to a stop in front of a heavy metal door with a small rectangular window at eye level. Felix and Demetri moved to the side as Aro unlocked the bolted door.

He opened the door and my senses were suddenly bombarded. My nostrils flared as I breathed in the most delicious scent imaginable, causing the dry ache in my throat to blaze like the fire of transformation. Before I could even think to walk into the room, my body had already reacted, and I found myself inside. I barely registered the sound of the door closing and the snap of the lock catching behind me. My ears were focusing on a different sound, the thump, thump, thump of beating hearts. At the same time my eyes zeroed in on a beautiful blue pulsating vein. It was all I could see.

I lunged straight at the vein. My razor sharp teeth tearing into it like butter. The taste was pure ecstasy. The warm wet blood rolled over my tongue and coated my dry throat like liquid sex. I could not imagine a greater pleasure.

All too quickly the well ran dry. The fire in my throat flared with a vengeance; my thirst was not yet sated. I pushed the empty corpse aside and sprang onto the crumpled body cowering in the shadowy corner behind the door. I drained this one in a matter of seconds, drinking greedily, blood trickling out of the corner of my mouth. I licked my lips when I finished, savoring every last mouth-watering drop.

I let the lifeless body fall to my feet with a thud as I heard a click. Someone had unlocked the door, but left it closed. I turned the knob and stepped outside. They were waiting for me.

"Better?" Felix asked with a seductive leer.

I answered him with a wide grin.

"Ha, ha, ha," Aro chuckled, clapping his hands together. "I am so pleased you enjoyed your gift!"

"Yes. Thank you, Aro."

"Of course," he smiled. "Now that you are fed, we should return to the assembly room to assess your talent. I'm sure my brothers would like to meet my daughter."

"Daughter?"

"Yes. I created you, sired you. In that sense, you are my daughter."

I wasn't sure how I felt about that. "Am I to call you father?"

"No, no." He seemed amused. I was relieved. "You are bonded to me, but it is not like in a human family. As a member of the guard, you will address me as Master."

"Oh, okay, Master." I decided to try it out. It sounded strange. I guess it was something I would have to become accustomed to saying.

He smiled and said, "Come, Isabel." He held his powdery hand out for me, and I took it. He looked into my eyes and his smile grew wider.

I quickly withdrew my hand from his grasp. "You were trying to read my mind," I accused. "Is that your talent?"

"Ha, ha, ha," Aro chuckled. "Wonderful! It appears your shield is still in place. Tell me. How did you know what I was doing? Did you remember?"

"No, I didn't remember. I could just... sense it."

"Excellent!" He cried. "A shield and a replacement for Eleazar!"

"Eleazar?"

"An old friend and former member of the guard. His ability is to sense the gifts of others. Can you sense Demetri's talent?"

I turned to look at Demetri. He gazed back at me with a sweet encouraging smile, causing me to smile in return. I focused all my concentration on his mind and sensed nothing. I turned back to Aro. He was looking at me expectantly. I simply shook my head.

"Hmm. Perhaps you can only sense a gift when it is attempting to penetrate your shield. We shall test this theory with Jane."

As we made our way to the assembly room, I asked Demetri what his talent was. He told me that he was a tracker and explained to me what that meant. Then, I asked Felix the same question.

"Not all vampires are talented," he replied. For a fraction of a second, I thought I saw hurt in his eyes. Looking at this behemoth of a vampire, you would not think that anything could hurt him. Yet my thoughtless comment did and I felt the need to make him smile.

"Oh, I don't think that is true. I would guess that your strength is your gift," I said, eliciting a small smile from him.

We entered a large circular room where a sizable crowd was gathered. It appeared as if the entire guard, or at least all of the high-ranking members, was in attendance. I immediately was able to discern who were Aro's brothers. They both wore the same pitch-black robes as Aro. Everyone else was dressed in dark gray robes. The pair was also seated in two of the three substantial wooden thrones that were situated along the curving wall. I assumed the third chair belonged to Aro.

Conversations ceased, and every head in the room turned in our direction as we entered. I was suddenly very nervous. I had a feeling that they were all gathered together, waiting for me. I did not enjoy being the center of attention. I would guess that as a human I was quite shy. Instinctually, I brought my hand up to my cheek to hide my blush, but I couldn't feel the warm glow beneath my palm. That's when I realized that vampires couldn't blush.

"Marcus, Caius! Isabel has turned out wonderfully!" Aro sang. "Her shield is intact and has already proven more powerful than it's human manifestation."

"How so?" Caius questioned.

"I believe a demonstration is in order. Jane, dear would you come here?"

"Yes, Master." A small girl smiled, moving to Aro's side. Her cloak was a shade darker than the rest.

Aro faced me again, asking, "Isabel can you tell us what Jane's talent is?"

Like with Demetri, I tried again. And as before I couldn't sense anything. "No, sorry Master. I can not."

"What does this prove?" Caius hissed, clearly annoyed with Aro's theatrics.

"Patience, brother." Aro gently chided and then addressed Jane, "Now let's see if Isabel is still immune to you."

Unsure of what to expect, I cautiously watched Jane. She didn't move from her spot by Aro's side as she gazed at my face. The only movement I detected was her mouth curving into an angelic smile. I was shocked and horrified as I realized what she was trying to do to me.

"That's enough, Jane. Now, Isabel, can you tell us what her talent is?"

Still shocked, I stared at Jane and hissed, "You were trying to burn me alive!" I could hear several members of the guard, Felix included, snickering in the background, and I knew I was right. Jane answered me with a sadistic smile. I had a brief image of Jane as a human. I imagined her as one of those children who enjoyed torturing little animals, setting the neighbor's cat on fire and laughing as she watched it burn. You know the kind of kid that grows up to be a serial killer.

"So she has the potential to be useful in more ways than one."

"Exactly, brother!"

"And she is much prettier than Eleazar," Felix apparently couldn't resist adding as he winked at me. Again, I felt as if I should be blushing.

Aro ignored Felix's aside and continued, "And she is just beginning to discover her talent. She has tremendous potential. Imagine the possibilities after we help her develop and control it." He shared a knowing look with Caius, whose expression turned calculating, as if he was already planning something.

Aro turned his attention back to me. Apparently he planned on parading all of the talented members of the guard before me, testing my shield. Alec was first. He looked very similar to Jane except he was about an inch taller and had slightly darker hair. It felt as if he was trying to make me blind, deaf and dumb. His gift is to make you feel nothing, total sensory deprivation.

Next up was Chelsea. She was beautiful with long wavy chestnut hair. I was appalled when I realized that she was trying to make me fall in love with Alec. I felt my mouth open and quickly closed it. Everyone laughed and wanted to know whom she chose. They laughed even harder when I said it was Alec. I thought that I must look bad for a vampire - because from looking around I could tell that being attractive was part of vampire nature - if they thought the idea of me and Alec was so hilarious. I mean he looks like he's twelve, fourteen at oldest. Then I saw Alec's embarrassment and Jane's anger as she growled, effectively silencing the room. I realized they weren't laughing at me; they were laughing at him.

Aro was amused when I asked how being a matchmaker was useful to the guard. He had Chelsea explain her gift. She could create, strengthen, loosen and destroy bonds between people.

When it was Renata's turn, Aro asked me to approach her. That was different. I wondered why. The dark haired woman stepped out from behind Aro and I stepped forward. It felt as if she was trying to repel me, and I understood the reason for his instruction. I continued to move toward her until I was close enough to touch her.

Aro explained that Renata was also a shield and his personal bodyguard. Her shield was a defense against a physical attack, whereas mine was a defense against the gifts of others.

The testing continued with Afton, Corin, and Heidi. I was able to block them all. It wasn't until Marcus approached Aro and took his hand that we discovered an exception to my talent. Marcus could sense relationships, and he could sense my relationship to Aro and the guard.

"That is enough for today," Aro said. "Heidi will show you to your room. The rest of the guard is dismissed." He wanted to discuss Marcus' ability to penetrate my shield with his brothers. I was about to argue. If they were going to be talking about me, I should be there. But, then someone opened the door and...