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American Werewolf in Volterra

Summary:
It was just a European Vacation, for Ian Alexander, who is suddenly swept up in a crazy world that is just too surreal to believe. But he's now a werewolf in one of the largest dens in history, submissive to an asshole who is intent on destroying every vampire in the world. Worse, when rumors of a pup surface, both worlds rush to find it, ready to kill whoever is sheltering the kid. Of course, Ian would be the one to find it. But he can't bring himself to want to hurt the little kid, or the outspoken woman who protects him. Sequel to Horripilation


Notes:
Back after after a two year hiatus. Not sure how long I will be writing. Had some pretty serious life changes and this is just a random, anonymous way to vent. All of it still belongs to Stephanie Meyer. Still hate Bella and Edward, still love the Volturi, even crazy Jane. This is the third story in the arch: I Need You to Love Me and Horripilation. It would be helpful to read those before this, but I warn you that my writing has matured. I learned that there was such a thing as writing vocab and not just a spoken vernacular, so that was a big deal.


3. Chapter Two: Missing––

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Eight years after Breaking Dawn

One year after Horripilation…

Chapter Two: Missing––

Please, please forgive me,

But I won’t be home again.

Maybe someday you’ll have woke up,

And, barely conscious, you’ll say to no one:

"Isn’t something missing?

It had been a tense fortnight in the Cullen household. Just a few months short of Carlisle’s birthday, a horrifying vision struck Alice: two cloaked figures trudging over the mountains, and through the towering snowbanks toward their cabin-like mansion. She had no idea why they were coming, or which guard members they were, but they were coming.

“Carlisle,” Edward begged for what seemed to be the hundredth time, “Please. We should leave now, run while we still have the chance,”

“Yes,” Alice quickly agreed. “If we leave now, we will escape. I have seen it,”

But Carlisle was just as adamant as his family. He would not budge an inch or sway and give in to their pleas. “Aro had yet to bring us harm,” he replied. “I see no reason to leave,”

“You’re kidding, right?” scoffed Bella. She sat with the rest of the family, perched on the leather sofa’s arm beside her husband. They were a fortified unit against him, all wanting to leave and not face whatever stringent rule the Volturi were coming to impose.

“Yeah, Carlise. You’ve got the remember all the crap they’ve done to us,” Emmett echoed his little sister. “It’s not like it was one thing that they did. There are tons of reasons why we should leave,”

“They have taken action only where action has been warranted,” countered Carlisle solemnly. He looked at his family with beseeching eyes. “Not once have they acted outside the law,”

“They would have if it were possible,” Bella argued. “They would have killed Nessie if they had the chance!”

“You don’t know that,” responded Carlisle. “A peaceful solution may have been found––”

“Don’t start on it again,” Edward snapped. “Just because you blindly trust anyone you meet does not mean that they are all good. If we do not leave now, then they will surely enslave us all,”

“You are all free to leave,” Carlisle said to them. “I won’t stop any of you, and I will not divulge your locations to Aro. I, however, will await our guests, and see what my old friend wishes to say,”

“But Carlisle, anyone who stays will be gang pressed into the guard!” Alice cried. “I have seen it! Years of servitude, locked away in Volterra!”

“Don’t you see? Any gift that Aro wants, Aro gets!” agreed Edward.

“And he will stop at nothing,” Alice said vehemently.

Carlisle let out a despondent sigh. “Perhaps it wis best if you take your things, and leave while you have the chance. In fact, I’m sure it is,”

“Carlisle,” protested Esme.

“No,” he interrupted her. “Edward and Alice are right. This is a fate that you can avoid. Take the credit cards, and the cars, go somewhere you can lie low for a while, just not Denali. No doubt, Aro will send emissaries there as well. In fact, contact no one, not even Renesmee. Right now, she is of no concern to Aro, and in no danger.”

“Why do you want us to leave you?” the accusation rang clear in Esme’s voice.

“I have been waiting for this for a long time,” Carlisle confessed. “This began long before our family was formed, and I would rather you not be subjected to a war that has nothing to do with you,”

“You know exactly what’s happening,” Edward snarled.

“I do,” answered Carlisle solemnly. “And if I tell you the truth, then none of you would dare leave me behind. So no, Edward, I will not tell you,”

“Dammit, Carlisle!” Edward yelled.

“Edward!” Esme admonished.

“It’s true Esme!” Edward yelled. “He’s endangering us all by not telling us exactly what is happening! How can we run from something we know nothing of?”

“You were the one who wanted to leave!” she reminded him. “It was your idea!”

“And if he stays, he’ll endanger us all! No matter how careful he is, all Aro has to do is touch him and the charade is up!”

“Believe it or not, Edward,” Carlisle coldly interrupted the argument, “You, Bella, and even Alice are not his topmost priority right now. Currently, he could care less about acquiring your talents. None of you would do him any good,”

“Carlisle,” Esme began again.

“No,” he shook his head. “My mind is made up. You will all pack your things, and you will be gone within the hour,”

“I am not leaving you,” she softly but determinedly declared. “If you even think that I will––”

“I expect it,” he replied sharply. “Now, go pack. All of you. You can’t hope to loiter here and escape,”

And so, for two weeks, he had been alone, waiting for this visit to come. He had stopped going to work, and had cut off all contact with the rest of the world. He hunted close to home, too afraid to go far out. This was not a visit he could afford to miss. By day he amused himself by reading classical literature: Antigone, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle––reading up on the old laws so he could better reason with the wayward.

Every night at sundown, Esme would call him. At fist, he did not answer her calls, determined to make a clean cut from them. He knew that this endeavor would likely end in his death, and he wanted to make it easier for her. But by the fifth night, he would pick it up on the third ring. By the eighth night, he was by the phone, waiting for it to ring. They never spoke long, because there was little Esme could tell him without divulging their location. She constantly tried to persuade him to let them come home, or ever better, for him to join them in hiding. Though he missed her with his entire heart, he was adamant in his refusal. He needed to wait for the guard to come. The family was missing him she would say; Edward felt horrible.

Finally, after waiting thirteen days, two figures appeared on the edge of the woods just outside the door. One was dressed in a thin cloak, and he towered over the smaller figure. This little girl was bundled thick in furs and coats; no skin was exposed save for two peering navy eyes and the occasional strand of fiery hair. It was the girl who knocked lightly on the great cabin door. Carlisle opened it instantly, and smiled when the two big eyes flashed up at him.

“Come in,” he said with a gentle smile. “You must be freezing,”

“I can’t help it,” Gia said as she slowly started to unwrap herself. Shrugging off his cloak. Demetri helped her unwind the many layers and fabric. Carlisle laughed, but eventually, the large blob of a shape turned into a slim girl of no more than fifteen. Just as angelic as Jane and as tenacious as Rosalie, Gia blew on her hands, warming them.

“Here,” Carlisle handed her a steaming mug of hot cocoa. “It isn’t much, but it is the best I have,”

“Thanks,” Gia purred, clutching it tightly in her half frostbitten hands. “It’s perfect,”

Looking around, Demetri smiled at the old friend of his master. “It is good to see you under pleasant circumstances,” he said. “Every time we had to come possibly kill you was a sad day at Volterra,”

“It was a rather solemn day here, too,” agreed Carlisle amicably. It was all water under the bridge now.

“Where is everyone else, Carlisle?” Gia sipped her hot chocolate out of a mug that was too big for her hands to hold. “We’re supposed to give our message to as many people as possible,”

“They are still bitter over the events years back,” Carlisle admitted. “Time has not changed their perspective the way it has mine,”

“Oh, to be old,” Gia rolled her eyes playfully. She had not been around for the Masters’ last dispute with the Cullens––though they were increasing with frequency. Some felt Carlisle pushed the boundaries too much. Gia could not pass judgement: she was new to the Volturi. The masters had found her in a peculiar way: as a human she unknowingly negated any supernatural power. It had taken two years, an incident with another coven and a fling with Alec to turn her immortal––not that you could tell by looking at her.

“It’s just as well that they are gone,” said Demetri seriously. “Though we mean you no harm, we are issuing a call to arms,”

“You make it sound so deadly!” Gia admonished him. Cutting off the tall man, she said, “It’s not a call to arms, yet, but it could be. All we are asking is that you come back to Volterra with us, to witness right now. If it comes to a battle, then it your choice whether you fight,”

“Tell me,” Carlisle leaned forward, “is it the werewolves?”

Gia looked sharply at him. “How did you know?”

He gave her a wry smile. “Old age has taught me a thing or two. It’s easy to tell what’s happening in the rest of the world if you read the newspaper,”

“I suppose so,” Gia agreed slowly. Her odd eyes that even surprised the wise Carlisle flashed in suspicion. She was Alec’s mate for a reason after all.

“How much do you know?” Demetri inquired. He leaned forward, and clasped his hands together, curious just as to how brilliant the good doctor truly was.

“The dens are growing,” Carlisle replied. “Across Europe, wild animal attacks have risen, and many tourists are suddenly missing. Most of it coincides with the moon’s cycle,”

“It’s worse than you know,” Demetri told him gravely. “They attacked us in Volterra last year, on the eve of Saint Marcus Day. We were forced to reveal ourselves to the humans and act. If we had been idle that night, no doubt we would have been massacred,”

“Instead, almost two hundred were murdered,” lamented Gia through tight lips.

“And the citizens of Volterra?” asked Carlisle. “What happened to those who know of your secret?”

“Nothing gets by you, Carlisle,” Gia rolled her eyes and shook her head. “We tried our best to save as many as we could, but any unlucky tourist who saw too much was killed. The secret had to be kept,”

“Of course,” Carlisle nodded his head. Death was not pleasant, but it was necessary sometimes. He understood the reality better than most of his family.

“We’ve been keeping close tabs on them ever since,” continued the tracker. “The news is starling. They are building an army of weak-willed mutants to slaughter vagabonds that happens to pass by. An Alpha Male named Tancredo is the active leader of these renegade wolves; he is rumored to change a dozen or more humans himself every full moon. The den population has exploded. Very soon, they will outnumber us, and our gathered friends,”

“And then march on Volterra,” surmised the doctor.

“So Aro and Caius fear,” answered Gia.

“And what does Marcus think?” Carlisle questioned. “With no offense meant to your other masters, Marcus is surely the greatest tactician alive,”

The two Volturi vampires shared a glance. Intuitive as ever, the brilliant doctor managed to stray into dangerous waters, and delve into the innermost secrets of Volterra.

“For the most part, Master Marcus agrees with his brothers,” Gia eventually told him slowly. She kept her eyes carefully vigilant on Carlisle’s face. “But he has slipped into the darkest recesses of his mind. I know that Master Aro fears that he is suicidal,” Gia looked curiously at Demetri, surprised that the authoritative vampire did not voice his own opinion. As Alec’s mate, she was safe from the rebuttal of most other vampires, but Demetri was so revered that everyone, even the great Alec, obeyed him. He was lord among the slaves.

Carlisle slowly nodded. “Aro and I have spoken in length on Marcus’s mental stability,” it was his turn to confide in them. “And I must say, our prognosis was not heartening,”

“That was three hundred years ago, Carlisle,” Demetri told the old doctor in protest. “Surely the situation has changed,”

“We are vampires,” the doctor replied more for Gia’s sake. The young girl was blissfully unaware of so much of the vampiric way, just as his family was. “We age, mature, and even deteriorate much differently than humans,”

“I thought we were immortal,” Gia protested.

Dr. Cullen smiled wryly at her innocence, “God is immortal child; nothing else.”

Gia looked a him with large, disturbed eyes, utterly shocked by the revelation. She was speechless; Alec would regret missing his ill-temperate mate stunned into silence. It so rarely happened.

“Carlisle, there is more,” Demteri easily took over for her.

Carlisle sighed wearily. “There is always something worse,”

He would be blunt. “There is a pup,”

Stricken, the good doctor quickly crossed himself before looking at the tracker in blatant horror. “And surely the child is revered above all others in Tancredo’s den,” he guessed. “Impossible to reach,”

“Perhaps it would be,” replied Demetri with a shrug, “If it was still with them. However, it is missing,”

“You’re kidding,” he cried out in disbelief.

“It was in Volterra for a brief time, on the eve of the Saint Marcus celebration. Rather than let her child be slaughtered in war, it’s mother gave it to another in hopes of salvation,”

“No one has seen it since,” finished Gia, who managed to get her voice back. “It vanished off the face of the earth. Poof!”

“The Masters have has us searching madly for it, but we have yet to find anything,”

“And you can’t track it,” Carlisle stated rather than ask. If they had the pup, they would not be here, asking for his help.

Demetri flushed as much as was possible for a bloodless man. “Wolves are much harder to track,” he ruefully admitted. “And I have no scent of the pup, or his caretaker,”

“We founds its mother,” Gia rushed to her friend’s defense. “But she was tortured to death, no doubt by the wolves, who are also desperately seeking it. As for the pup’s sire, we know nothing of it or where he is now, if he is even still alive,”

“Do you need my help as a soldier, or in a search party?”

“Master Aro asks nothing of you, but your willingness to come to Volterra, and listen to your friend. He knows that he has wronged you and your family in the past, but he begs you to believe that it was only done out of the pursuit of the justice,” answered Demetri.

“Carlisle, you know we would not ask if it wasn’t important,” whispered Gia. As she spoke, Carlisle felt a pang in his gut that had nothing to do with fear. Gia was dear friends with his own granddaughter, and when she spoke, her voice trilled faintly, just like Nessie’s. When he looked at the red haired vampire, he saw Nessie staring back at him.

“Of course I’ll help you,” he answered immediately.

“Thank you,” Gia let out a heartfelt sigh.

“There is one more thing,” Demetri interrupted with a slight frown. He disliked having to ask this. “We could not care less about recruiting her, but now, more than ever, a soothesayer’s power would be very helpful,”

*

You won’t cry for my absence, I know -

You forgot me long ago.

Am I that unimportant...?

Am I so insignificant...?

Isn’t something missing?

Isn’t someone missing me?

“Carlisle, are you really sure this a good idea?” Seth asked for the millionth time. His dark eyes darted along the facade of the giant castle that the plane circled over, and down into the hidden depths. Who knew how far and how long the leeches had tunneled, gutting the sewers until an intense labyrinth remained, only navigable by them.

“She needs to be here,” the doctor told the tense young man with a remorseful sigh. “Now more than ever, Iris cannot turn her back on the world,”

“She’s sixteen Carlisle,” Seth protested. “And you know that no matter what he says, Aro will not hesitate to keep her here after this business is through,”

“Sometimes, you have to have faith in other people,” responded the vampire. “Even those you dislike. Besides, as a soothesayer, she has an obligation to represent her race, and to help decide the fate of the war,”

“Carlisle, if anything happens to her…” Seth could not bring himself to finish the rest of the sentence.

“Oh my God! I swear you two worry like old ladies!” Iris snapped from the seat in between them. Glaring up at both men, she added. “I am right here, and I can hear you!”

“We know, baby,” Seth told her pacifyingly. “We’d never forget you were here,”

“Then stop talking about me like I’m not!” Iris snapped. “I’m going to Volterra, Seth, and we both know that you couldn’t stop me, even if you wanted to. I want to go,”

“That is why we compromised,” Dr. Cullen stopped their little argument easily. He had played peacemaker between his children too many times to count. “Seth is coming with us,”

Iris shrugged. “I’m not complaining,”

Seth glared, “I am.”

“You can always get off the plane,” Iris bitingly suggested, blatantly looking anywhere but him.

“You’d be slung over my shoulder like luggage,” he warned. He, on the other hand, could not take his eyes off of his mate. It had been nearly a year since the Volturi had prevented Nahuel from turning Iris and mating with her deep in the Chilean jungles. Aro sided with the Cullens, for the first time ever, saying that Iris firt had to fulfill her shamanic duties to the pack before she could be turned into a vampire. Going to Volterra felt like jumping into the lion’s den.

Her eyes narrowed. “You could only try,”

“Oh, I’d succeed,” he snorted. “I have two feet and a hundred pounds on you. You couldn’t stop me if you wanted to,” he threw her words back in her face.

Iris’s mouth dropped. “Do you want to make a scene?” she challenged him. Her blood churned and eyes flashed. He was looking for a fight and she was too eager to give it to him. It was a fight she intended to win.

“You do,” he snapped.

“Oh,” Iris jumped out of her seat. “Bring it!”

“Do you really wanna go right now?” he yelled back, fists balled. Seth did not have to stand. He was still eye level with her.

“Yes!” she snapped. “Now!” With that, she stormed off down the aisle. Glaring and foaming at the mouth, Seth followed her, muttering swearwords under his breath.

“They could try to be less obvious about it,” Gia muttered from the row over.

Carlisle shook his head with an all too knowing smirk. “They really can’t help it,” he answered. “What’s happening to Iris truly isn’t her fault,”

“Is it because of the old man?” Gia asked, turning her head to look at him. They were on a private jet back to Volterra, so why Iris and Seth felt the need to fuck in the bathroom was weird. There was plenty of room elsewhere that was much more comfortable.

“Her entire body is adjusting so that she can bare Seth’s children, and be the pack shaman. To be their shaman, she has to be like them. A side effect of it is her insatiable sex drive. Old Quil warned her that her blood would burn, but I think she misinterpreted him. It will not go away until she passes the shamanic powers to her child,”

“Hot, passionate sex?” Gia shook her head. “Tragic,”

The fact that neither Demetri or Carlisle laughed proved that sometimes you had to be a girl to get some things.

*

Please, please forgive me,

But I won’t be home again.

I know what you do to yourself,

Shudder deep and cry out:

"Isn’t something missing?

Isn’t someone missing me? "

“Carlisle!” Siobhan called when the great doors of the throne room swept open. It was a majestic sight to watch the revered doctor stroll into the grandiose room completely at ease. The light poured in behind him, illuminating his glittering skin and hiding the depths of his face in shadow. The nomad was desperate to speak with the Cullen patriarch; he was the only one outside the Volturi who would know exactly what was going on. There was no way the rumors could be true.

Just no way.

“Welcome, Carlisle,” Aro said warmly as Gia and Demetri led them into the room. Dozens upon hundreds of vampires who had gathered into the gutted tower, watched the scene unfold with curious eyes. Carlisle Cullen was as infamous as the Denali whores, and as revered as the Volturi. Though only middle-aged, his adventures were as fabled as those of Odysseus, and his connections were as widespread as Benjamin Franklin’s––whom Carlisle had known personally.

Dr. Cullen nodded his head in respect. “Aro, Marcus, Caius,”

Eyes flickered back and forth. They could smell the mouthwatering woman, hear her strong heart pump her burning blood tantalizingly. She stood erect and proud, flaunting her pulsating neck with daring eyes and a proud soul. A defiant morsel was always the sweetest.

“We are so glad that you could make it,” Aro informed him with a dry smile. “But, where is the rest of your family?”

Hungry vampires shifted, ready to attack.

Carlisle sighed. “My family is young, and their hearts are still burdened from eight years ago,”

The tall, smelly mutt flanking both Carlisle Cullen and the woman tensed. He was a hulking brute with his shoulders hunched and his entire body taught with strain. His teeth were bared in warning to the hungry leeches. The human was his.

Aro sighed as well, “We thank you for your forgiveness, old friend. Often, I find in my old age that I deserve it less and less,”

One vampire shifted its foot. The mutt snarled threatening, and snapped its jaws.

Aro’s eyes darkened angrily. “Peace!” he barked. All at once, his guard crouched, read to their master’s bidding. The vagabonds recoiled, fearful of the Ancient’s wrath. “The girl and her mate are under my protection. No one is to disturb them, and any one who does will face my wrath.”

No one would dare to for fear of the retribution.

Still churning with anger, Aro’s eyes met Iris’s for the first time. “Welcome, soothesayer,” he declared boldly.

Silence settled over the room so quickly that the only sound were the heartbeats of the two mortals. The words that tumbled out of the Ancient’s mouth were more outrageous than the last, but no one would dare to contradict him. Not when the proof was evident before their eyes.

Iris inclined her head. “Greetings, Ancient One,”

And then to Seth who loomed at her side, he said, “Hello, Guardian,”

Not one to be restricted by formalities, Seth grinned “Hello, Aro,”

Aro chuckled. “It is pleasant to finally meet you as a man,” he told him.

Seth shrugged and wrapped an arm around Iris’s shoulder. “I’m pretty much the same, either way,”

“Fair enough,” replied Aro. He was polite enough to not mention the smell. “Thank you both for coming,” he said gravely. “Our trials are much graver than your young minds can know,”

“We stand by our family,” Iris responded firmly. “No matter what,”

Carlisle shot her a confused look. “She’s my niece,” he quickly answered Aro’s questioning look, “and Bella’s half-sister.”

Aro’s dark eyes lit up. “So much talent, in such a small family. How peculiar. How peculiar in deed, especially when no one informed me of this development,”

“We’re sorry, Master,” a chestnut haired vampire murmured, “but we did not know.”

“It was their father’s darkest secret,” supplied Carlisle as he casually tucked his hands into his pant pockets. “No one was supposed to know,”

Aro stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Fascinating,” was all he said for some time. “Alas!” he suddenly exclaimed, throwing his arms up into the air in exultation. His black cape billowed around him in the motionless wind like two great, big wings. “The passage of time hold little meaning to one so old as I! Forgive my lapse, dear friends. I am sure that by now you have heard the rumors concerning our gathering and the enemy we face. Yes, my dears ones, it is true.

“Our world is amuck with Moon Children,”

Aro paused appropriately. It was as if the ancient had awaited for Carlisle’s presence or Iris’s power. Once his entire guard was back safely in the tower’s walls, he began his conference. As the hisses of anger and the fearful glances subsided, he solemnly folded his hands in front him, and slightly bowed his head.

“Peace,” he said needlessly. The world was quite: every breath hinged on his next words. “We all know the repercussions of an uprising: the terror, the endless nights, and smoky fires that these beasts leave in their wake. Ours is a memory too finite to forget their last assault. We ground our enemy into dust during the last war between our races, but then there were no songs of victory. Our dead were beyond the measure of count.

“This den is led by one named Tancredo. Though his name is name is of little importance to us, he is infamous to our enemies. It is he who has been seeking submissive men to fight in his armies, and slanders our race. It is his quest for power will slaughter innocents, and has condemned our refuge of Volterra,”

Aro met their eyes. He sighed. “It is true, that in the past, many of you have doubted the reasons for our existence. You claim that my brethren and I seek to dominate you, submit your wills to ours, and control every facet of your lives. You believe that we have wronged you, have forsaken our own laws for the sake of conquest, and have falsely charged pillars of our world so to steal his own coven from him. I shall not defend our decisions or our actions today: in every way we have only sought justice.

“There is no justice, however, in this upcoming massacre. Yes, friends, I say massacre for as surely as the wolves outnumber us, we have neither the high ground or the fortitude to withstand an assault. Our civilization, our laws and etiquette, yes even our talents are inconvenient obstacles to the rabid beasts. Though we may slaughter hundreds of them, thousands more wait in their barracks, ready to stand in the place of the dead.

“It has been suggested,” Aro sneered, easily reading the faces and thoughts of the nomads, “that we create a newborn army, for our newborns are of comparable strength and power. This is something that my brothers and I refuse to do, though our enemy will surely create one to battle us. Our past has taught us that whatever strength a newborn possesses, the damage they cause is much worse,”

The ancient one looked around the circular room. Eyes averted, heads bowed and feet shuffled. No one wanted to face the odious doom. “Ergo, we have but one chance at survival: this pup, not infected by the virus but born with the genetic markers. A true lukanthrōpos, stronger and more dominate than any changed wolf. Not even we, in our magnificent glory, can create such a being,”

The murmurs silenced as Aro’s gaze pierced the air. His guard shifted around him, devouring the tense atmosphere, striving to do their master’s bidding. Never had so many gathered in their sacred halls, peered into the private lives of the Volturi. It made everyone antsy.

“This pup,” he relished the word, saying it slowly as he tested the weight of it on his tongue, “was in Volterra on the eve of the Saint Marcus celebration last year. It is the night that the gravity of the situation was first impressed upon our world––the nights that a renegade pack of Moon Children attacked Volterra. Like a feeble human heartbeat, the pup has faded into the night. We have been unable to find any trace of this child, or its vampiric caretaker.”

At once, all eyes abandoned the ancient vampire to look wildly around the room as if it were a map to the world. Without thinking, several vagabonds succumbed to a berserk fit. They leapt into the air with cacophonous yells and screaming chortles, nails unleashed like claws and faces contorted into horrific grimaces. Teeth barred, they were ready to rend this unknown traitor’s flesh from his bones for his blasphemy and his disloyalty towards his own kind.

“Alec,” Aro said quietly with a sidelong glance.

The boy nodded. One-second passed and then two. A gentle clear haze oozed about the room. Most were expecting it. Carlisle relaxed into the unaware slumber, fearless. He heard nothing, saw nothing. The only way he knew that he had not died was the heat the emanated from Seth, and the sweet, cloying scent of Iris’s blood. The unaffected vampires watched with a practiced detachment as the senseless struggled for awareness. After several minutes of useless struggle, the nomads succumbed to the dark and fell still. Only then, did Alec return their perceptions.

“It is imperative that we find this rogue vampire and his pup,” Aro began as if no disruption occurred. “Undoubtedly, Tancredo’s den searches for them as well. There is much information that can be learned from the child. It has been born with the inherent knowledge of its kind. Hidden amongst centuries of memories is the key to defeating this Moon Dog menace permanently.

“We will eradicate these pests permanently.”