Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

AB Type

Summary:
AKA The Greatest Story Ever Told, by the Greatest Historian of the World. Aro's lived, figuratively speaking, for three thousand years. Ever wonder what he's seen and done?


Notes:


13. Ante Bellum Part 3

Rating 0/5   Word Count 1959   Review this Chapter

Bat, bat, come under my hat,
And I'll give you a slice of bacon;
And when I bake,
I'll give you a cake,
If I am not mistaken.

I wasn’t surprised to hear my door slide open moments later, accompanied by the soft tinkling of Lidia’s bracelets as she entered the room.

“Aro?” Lidia’s usually lilting voice—so like singing—was hesitant, rougher. Worry marred her always smiling face. “Are you all right?”

“I’m surviving,” I answered sharply, not angry with her, but unwilling to speak of the subject.

Lidia’s gaze dropped. Her thumbs traced small circles across her arms, almost as if she were cold. When she looked up, a new emotion was reflected in her jewel-like eyes. Fear. Fear for me.

“If you need to talk…” she trailed off, almost as if she changed her mind midway.

“I know whom I can turn to. Thank you.” I nodded in her direction, but did not look at her.

I barely heard her exit; she was so silent. I lost myself again in my musings, watching the muted sun slowly descend towards the firmament. Twilight would soon fall. The union of two unlike times, as brief as it was perfect…

“And where are you going?”

Just a few meters away from Volterra's walls, Adelina intercepted me. I cursed her, hoping she would meet someone with a worse past than she.

“Out for a walk.” Obviously hung unuttered at the end of the sentence, but perfectly understood.

Adelina frowned. “And where were you walking to?”

“Who made you my mother?”

“You are so immature.” Adelina crossed her arms before her.

I stuck my tongue out at her, making a rude face as I had when I was child. Adelina glared. I hid my smile at her response.

2500 years later, I still love getting a rise out of Adelina. However, getting back to the story, Adelina shook her head slowly then shot at me, “I won’t cover for you again. Do you even know what you are risking by going to see that—that witch? You know that’s the vampiress called Lamia, don’t you? I remember her now. She’s infamous. She’s a child killer and a siren. It’s how she was able to seduce Adriano. How she can even do so when she is mated is beyond me. And to your enemy no less! You could ignite a war just by wanting to see her.”

Smiling, I responded, “To answer in order, that’s all right. Yes, I do. Of course. The children’s blood on her hands makes her that much more tempting. Lucky he who had her if for a short while. That’s what I mean to find out. There is always a downside to everything. I’m perfectly aware of that.”

Adelina cocked an eyebrow despondently. “And you’re still going?”

“Obviously,” I gaily responded.

“Aro, you are not leaving.” Adelina’s matter-of-act tone robbed me of my false cheer.

“And how will you stop me? Would you be willing to bet the effectiveness of your illusions against me? Or have you forgotten that you do not intimidate me?” I mocked her.

“And you’ve no right to speak to her that way. “ I glanced sideways, watching the shadows melt away from Lidia’s advancing form. “She’s worried; we all are. What is happening? Running off like this in such a temper, being unnecessarily cruel…this is unlike you.”

“I simply don’t see why you feel the need to suffocate me. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself and perfectly within my right to go out for a walk when I wish.”

“To Belverde?” Adelina pursed her lips.

“Well, I had no set destination, but now that you mention it, I might pay my respects.”

“Aro, you could be killed.” Lidia’s divine features were solemn, almost fearful.

“I know.”

“Then why go?” Lidia’s painfully soft question momentarily deflated my sails.

“I don’t know,” I replied soberly, turning to the gates of Volterra. “I just know I have to.”

I left Adelina and Lidia behind me as I ran off, racing against the darkening sky to make it to Belverde before nightfall. Guilt assailed me as I thought of the two women. Lidia would keep it a secret in order to protect me and she would bully Adelina into doing the same. Either would have followed me and dragged me back my hair if they really thought I couldn't handle myself. I did not even know why I needed to see Anna again or even how I would be able to get her alone without alerting Piero or Livius to my presence. I simply had a voice in my head that urged me forward. It was irrational, foolish—even by my own standards!—but I had to see her again. If not, I had an awful premonition that something horrid would befall me.

When I reached the city, I paused at its walls, wandering around them. Anna was somewhere within, probably with Piero. I could never hope to find her and draw her away. My plan appeared ever more irrational to me.

Then whatever gods might have been watching my plight interceded in my favor.

“Oh my. Look at what I have found. Piero would be ever so happy to see you, son of god.”

Unbelievably, Anna sat on the wall, clothed in a loose white robe. She still wore her golden earrings, but she had added a simple gold diadem to keep her long her hair away from her face. Her bare feet swung back and fro at a regular tandem. A teasing smile adorned her scarlet lips.

She was a temptress. I shook my head, smiling, and readied my response.

“Send my sincerest apologies to Piero, but my interest lies solely with women I’m afraid.”

Anna tossed her head back, her surprised laughter falling around me like rain. She clapped her hands delightedly.

“Oh, you are a devil, not a god.” Anna snickered seductively. Yes, it is possible to snicker so. Remind me to introduce you to Anna later.

“They’re easily confused.” I brushed my shoulder casually.

“And which one of the two do you give in to most?” Anna cupped her chin in her hand, her eyes dancing in the encroaching darkness.

“It depends.”

“On?”

“What you would do if I admit I’m more of a devil than a god.” I aimed a rakish grin her way. Her eyes widened momentarily before her features settled into a mysterious smile.

“And what would you have me do, my misnamed son of god?” She blinked innocently.

“You already know what I would have you do: allow me a single moment to touch you.”

“Just touch?” Anna’s voice had a disbelieving edge. “I highly doubt you would risk death for a single innocent touch.”

“First of all, you don’t know me,” I responded, a heavy glint in my eye, “so you can’t ascertain what I would or would not do. And secondly, from you such a touch, a stolen caress, a butterfly’s graze, is worth anything and everything.”

Anna stared, her eyes wide—and she burst out laughing.

“That was excellent! Oh, you almost made me believe that!” She wrapped her pale arms around her abdomen, trying to control her hysterics.

“I was being serious,” I protested immediately. Anna straightened herself, one eyebrow arching in a way that put me to shame. “About half of it.” I admitted.

Anna observed me carefully, her eyes seeming to search mine. “Why does Piero despise you?”

“I wouldn’t lend him my toys when we were children.”

Unlike before, she didn’t even smile. Instead, her eyes narrowed slightly. “Tell me the truth. Why does Piero despise you?”

I opened my mouth to answer her—and paused. I couldn’t reveal such information to her, not before touching her and certifying what her thoughts were, but something in me screamed to give in and tell her everything: to please her and so win her to my side. I wanted her so very much. And she was just so very difficult to read! It simply made me long for her even more.

“Tell me,” Anna said softly. “Please do.”

I wanted so badly to tell her, give her any and all information she could ever want, but I couldn’t. Reveal. That!

“Why does he hate you? Answer the question!” Her tone faltered for a moment—her face remained impassive, but something in her eyes flickered. Anyone not as observant as I would have missed it. Surprise marred by the sharpness of anger.

By then, I was in pain. I wanted to, no, needed to tell her everything, but it was so irrational and so unlike me…

Unlike me.

I straightened, looking her directly in the eye. “No.” And the answer proved utter agony. Bands tightened around my head, the pressure threatening to do me in. The pain was so surprising that I almost missed Anna rising to her feet, her hands clenched at her sides.

“No?” She whispered a deadly hiss. Her lips spread in a dark smile. “I have to submit to you, but you cannot answer a simple question for me? It doesn’t sound fair, does it?”

“What isn’t fair is attempting to get the answer out of me through such underhanded means.“ My accusation was vague, but it had the desired effect. Anna stiffened.

“What are you talking about?” Her facial expression seemed truly confused, but the pain disappeared.

“You have a special ability,” I realized aloud. “It’s how you were able to seduce Adriano. It’s how you’ve managed to infiltrate so many other covens, making it easy for Piero to then come and take their territory.”

Anna’s face appeared chiseled out of marble. She looked like a statue, frozen on the wall.

And like Piero when I faced him, she was silent.

Qui tacet consentire.” I smirked at her.

“Not at all.” Anna recovered quickly. “Silence provides true knowledge, not mere consent. What this silence states is my surprise at your gibberish. How could I possibly do what you’ve suggested?”

“How can you?” I shot back, barely disguising my triumph.

“You’re a fool,” she stated. “Get away before I have you killed.”

“But you brought me here. And you don’t yet have what you want from me. I’m more valuable to you alive than dead.”

Anna laughed. “You are a fool! Do you honestly think yourself so important? Well, you make me laugh so I’ll let you live. But if you stay here much longer, I will not be able to prevent my coven from slaughtering you when they find you.”

Because of the truth in her words, I decided to heed them, but not before one last gibe. “You want something; I want something. Why not compromise? I tell you what you want if you allow me to do what I want.”

“I don’t compromise. I get what I want without the need to bargain for it.”

“Then it seems like we’ll both have to survive unsatisfied. Good evening, my lady.” I bowed before her and calmly walked away. I could feel her eyes on me as I turned in the direction of Volterra. When the city disappeared behind me, I began to run.

Certain clues fell into place. Anna’s power had something to do with control. Somehow, she could manipulate others into doing as she wished. It was subtle enough to be almost entirely unnoticed. And it was difficult to ignore. I almost had not. But, I knew my one-track mind and how I did not debate my decisions. As I said before, things are done my way or they are done...my way. I do not second-guess myself. I never question my choices, and I always follow through with them. The fact that I had been so conflicted was my first indicator that something was wrong. But I had not imagined Anna could have…

It was why I had been so obsessed. It hadn’t been me; it had been her. But why? And why would she need to know so desperately the reason for Piero’s hatred of me?

Something inside—not her, I made sure of that—told me the matter with Anna was not yet finished. And it wasn’t. Not at all. Anna had only just begun to haunt me.