WARNING! THIS STORY CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS FOR Her Blood Relations!!!
I could hear muffled grunts. I could feel futile thrashing. The human—Jeremy—was weightless in my arms. These humans were so easy to manipulate, to control. I hardly needed my talent for being in charge to make them see that I had the authority...to make them bend to my will.
Vampires weren’t as easy, their superior minds more resistant to manipulation. But even vampires, so much smarter and stronger and better than these beasts, could be manipulated. I had never failed in manipulation. My talent told me what to say and how to say it and how to move and act so that my target would know who was in charge. It was why my ancestors had chosen to trust me with this honorable task. They knew I was able.
I was so proud of this honor. My talent was proof that I was meant to be in charge of others. When the vile Italians had been destroyed—and we would leave no survivors; we would not spare any as they had spared the Romanians—I would be their third. I would be of their new coven, as well.
I recalled with perfect clarity that momentous night, the best night of my vampiric existence so far: the night Vladimir and Stefan had given me this task...
“You have quite an ability,” Vladimir told me.
I felt smug pride wash over me. Praise from these great ones was rare and kind.
“We have a task for you,” Stefan said. He looked into my eyes with a serious stare.
“It is not to be taken lightly,” Vladimir warned.
I waited for my task.
“It will not be easy,” Vladimir added.
I said nothing. My godly ancestors seemed satisfied that I understood what I was getting into.
“You have heard of the Volturi?” Stefan asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Powerful vampires, I believe. They keep the secret, no?”
“Many centuries ago, these vampires were not so powerful,” Vladimir said. “They came to our castle, where we, and a couple other vampires, dwelled and ruled. They attacked and killed nearly everyone that was our colleagues...our friends...our coven. They took over.”
What terrible people!
I thought. How dare they humiliate my great ancestors!
I scowled to show my disapproval of this.
“Nathan,” Stefan said in a low voice. He stared straight into my eyes again. The three of us were stalk-still. “Nathan, we want you to destroy them. Go out and find a way to bring back our coven. We have taken a name as well—Romana.
“Roh-may-nuh?” I repeated, sounding out the word.
“Yes. It sounds similar to Romania
, which is where our castle was and will be.”
“Taking down the Volturi will not be an easy task,” Vladimir said. “There are many guards dedicated to keeping their masters safe. But we have a few secrets to share.”
“Tell me what you can, and I swear I will find a way to bring them down,” I vowed.
My great ancestors had told me many things when I had thought of my plan: build an army, greater and better organized than those in the South. They had greatly approved of my plan. They had been so impressed. I had been so proud. I still was.
And here, my plan was progressing at a constant rate. I had a few, all with talents. All obedient to me
. Emily, Alex, Ember, Kimberly, and Jeremy, now. I only had a few, but soon I would have more than the vile Volturi had.
I arrived at the campout at daybreak. My skin and my army’s skins glittered a little in the rising sun; when the sun had fully arrived, we would sparkle more brightly.
“Who is that?” Alex asked. Alex was a calm man. Not in the way I was, but he was behaved and quiet. I could see a bond between him and Kimberly growing slowly—both quiet, both small, in a way.
Ember got out of a stone chair she had formed with her hands, coming over for a closer look. Not that she needed to be closer to see better.
“This is Jeremy,” I told them. I set him down. He shook, tugging against the ropes, yelling against the duct tape. Tears watered his eyes.
So weak, so helpless. Physical
pain causing tears. Ha, ha. Ridiculous.
I felt a squirm in my stomach, as if I was queasy. How peculiar. Because I wouldn’t feel queasy—it wasn’t in a vampire’s anatomy to throw up.
No, the squirm wasn’t queasiness. It was unease. I sensed something was wrong. What was it?
I remembered when Ember had been in pain. Emily--that merciful, silly child—had felt better when she had comforted Ember. And she had felt better comforting the others at they went through a painful change. I had offered to let her comfort Ember. She had requested to comfort Alex. She hadn’t said anything when she came to comfort Kimberly.
Why was Emily not coming to comfort this one?
I looked up, counting the vampires I saw. Alex, Kimberly, myself, Ember...
Where was Emily?
I scanned the area once more.
Emily was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is Emily?” I asked. Only ten seconds had passed since I’d answered Alex.
“She went to look for you,” Ember—annoying, temperamental pyromaniac--answered.
Went to look for me! The silly girl! Had she seriously wanted to come with me when I was going to change Jeremy? I’d said she couldn’t come as a little joke, I hadn’t thought she would actually like to come!
But...if she’d gone to look for me...why wasn’t she with me? It wasn’t like I’d tried to cover my scent.
“Why?” I asked Ember.
“She solved your riddle,” Ember explained. “She said you’d given her some sort of important puzzle or something and the minute she figured it out she had to find you. She said she’d figured out the puzzle, so she was going to find you and tell you.”
Puzzle? I gave her no puzzle. And if she had lied...
“Stay here,” I ordered them all. I could barely contain my worry and fury. “Kimberly—look after Jeremy until I’m back. Ember, if the transformation is complete before I return, keep him under control but don’t
burn him to death, do you understand?”
“I understand,” Ember said. Kimberly flitted to Jeremy’s side, taking his hand and murmuring words of reassurance.
I took a deep breath, finding Emily’s floral scent, layered with rain and forest. Her scent was so nature-ry.
The scent trailed northward. I sped off in that direction, following it as it curved eastward, towards—
Beyond the Atlantic ocean was Europe...Italy...Volterra...
The Volturi. Was Emily going to expose us?
No, no, no.
I pushed my legs faster. I had to catch up with her. I had to stop her.
Perhaps destroy her.
But then her scent rounded south, towards the outskirts of the town I was in. I hadn’t been paying attention to street signs, so I didn’t know where I was. I guessed at the west border of New Hampshire.
But suddenly, at about the same moment Emily’s trail had turned south, there was another scent, stronger, layered with different vampires.
Seven vampires’ scents, plus Emily’s.
I stopped. I inspected the scents that were embedded in the road. It seemed the vampires had been here frequently.
There was something funny about the scent. I inhaled again, examining the strange odor. ..
Animals. Vegetarian vampires—I’d heard of these freaks. Talk about hippies!
But I knew of only two covens of these hippies. And one of them had seven vampires. Vampires that could fight, that had experience, that were protective. If Emily had gained their protection, I could not get her back.
I followed the scent—it was much, much stronger now—and then I saw the house. It was a large house. I could hear many vampires inside. Just then I heard one vampire say, “I can control emotions.”
I heard footsteps, and a small, black-haired female vampire stared out—no, she was glaring fiercely—the window.
Her facial expression gave a clear message: I know who you are, and we can destroy you. Get away from us and stay away.
Defeat. I could not get to Emily. She had gained their protection.
I looked the tiny vampire in the eyes. I nodded reluctantly. I backed away, turned, and sped back to my army. Away from the traitor.
Why did this happen?
I asked my talent.
My talent told me, Emily did not want to fight.
But why, then, had you said I should tell her why she was a vampire?
I said to my talent.
My manipulative talent seemed to shrug within me. I made a mistake. I’m not perfect.
I growled at myself.