“Gifts?” repeated Jane, “Oh yes there are many of us here in Volterra with gifts. Master Aro chooses the most talented for his personal body guard.
Ariadne had been sent to accompany Jane about her daily duties, so that she could become more familiar with the way the Volturi household operated and it also gave the two women time to become better acquainted.
Jane, as Ariadne had suspected was much older that she looked, having worked with the Volturi along with her brother Alec for over a hundred years. It was hard to believe on first appearances that this elfin child would have been long dead had she been a mortal.
“What kinds of gifts do the guard have?” The younger woman asked inquisitively.
“Well, Dimitri who I believe you’ve met on a couple of occasions is a tracker, which put simply means that he can find
anyone he comes into contact with anywhere in the world.” She intoned with a slightly
mischievous grin. “It’s a very serviceable gift as any enemy of the Volturi can
be tracked down and eliminated, or of course it can be used to find people who
would be of use to our cause. You may also have met Renata,
she is Aro’s personal shield, well not a shield in the sense that you might
think, she’s not like a barrier, but if an individual were to attack Master Aro,
they might find themselves being misdirected to do something else. They may
harm themselves or give themselves up to the guard.” Jane’s face was beaming as she said this and
she let out a youthful giggle at Ariadne’s fascination with the subject.
“You said ‘us’, what gift do you have Jane?” Asked Ariadne.
“Let's hope you never have cause to find out.” Jane replied all the humour gone
from her child-like face, making the other woman uncomfortable. Ariadne quickly
changed the subject. “Oh yes, so what about the Volturi family, I heard that
Didyme was gifted with the ability to positively change the mood of those
around her. Was she the only gifted member?”
Jane’s face which had been a mask of warning softened in an instant at this question and she began to giggle again.
“You really don’t know very much about our masters do you?” She mocked. “It’s as well that we are spending some time together as your Volturi education is sadly lacking.”
Ariadne laughed with Jane, grateful that the mood had lightened and the masked threat had dissolved from Jane’s eyes.
“Of our three masters Marcus and Aro are the gifted ones.” Jane
gift is quite remarkable as he can judge the strength of the emotional bonds
between individuals, but Master
Aro has probably the greatest gift
of us all.”
“What would that be?” The other woman asked eagerly.
Bending her head in a conspiratorial manner Jane replied, “He can read a person,
just by touching them.” Ariadne froze,
beginning to understand why both she and Aro had been overwhelmed when he had
touched her wrist. He had been reading not only her emotions but her thoughts
too along with his own feelings through her gift. “Aro doesn’t just read thoughts” Jane continued, enjoying herself now. “He reads every
thought, every emotion and every experience a person has ever had.” She giggled a little once more. “It’s
impossible to lie to him, without him finding out if he touches you. That might
be something you should remember.” She said raising her eyebrows.
“Thank you Jane,” Ariadne acknowledged, “that is a very useful thing to know, particularly as I will be working with his wife.”
The girl’s head was swimming with the information. Her conversation with Jane was proving to be very informative, even if
Ariadne didn’t feel particularly comfortable in Jane’s
company. Ariadne had no desire to touch Jane
and gauge her mood, as she suspected she wouldn’t like what she found. The
Volturi had very complicated relationships with one another and Ariadne
wondered how they were able to maintain unity with so much artifice.
“What is next on our list of duties?” Ariadne asked.
“I perhaps should have mentioned this earlier, but I need to be excused for a while” Jane
replied, “There is a small private matter that the masters wish me to attend
to. They have need of my gift.” As Jane mentioned her gift again, her eyes became like
steel and her smile lost some of its warmth. “If you like you may wait for me
in the library. I shouldn’t be too long.” Jane’s
smile returned and she bowed before hurrying down the corridor and disappearing
into one of the many rooms.
Ariadne wondered if she was ever going to get used to the vastness of the building.
Standing still for a moment she tried to get her bearings. “Now where is the library?” she mused, before
choosing a direction and heading in it.
After trying some doors without success Ariadne eventually found herself in the vast library. Like many of the rooms
here the library was a very grand room surrounded on all walls by tall
intricately carved book cases which stretched all the way from floor to
ceiling. Ariadne wondered how many books were there were. This room, like her
mistresses dressing room was lit by an enormous glass skylight which gave
excellent illumination for reading. In the centre of the room were placed
several large oak desks the largest of which housed an enormous globe, books
were piled in untidy stacks around it and instead of being alone as Ariadne had
first thought she noticed a young man almost invisible behind all the books busily
pouring over maps and papers in front of him.
The young man hadn’t noticed Ariadne come into the room. She cleared her throat loudly saying “Good Morning Master Carlisle, I trust you are in good health?”
Carlisle, startled by the young woman’s sudden appearance rose from his seat in greeting. “Please, it’s just Carlisle.” He responded. “How are you settling in here in
Volterra?” As he said this he motioned to the chair beside him in invitation, and
then sat down himself. Ariadne accepted
his invitation and gracefully crossed the room to sit with him.
“I’m not quite sure what to make of it.” She said, her honesty surprising her. Carlisle laughed warmly “I’ve been here over ten years and still feel the same.” He joked.
Speaking with Carlisle was somehow different to the other Volterans that Ariadne had met. He was much less guarded. She didn’t need to touch him to know this.
“Forgive me for my frankness.” She began “but you don’t seem to fit in here, or at least you seem somewhat different to
the rest of the people I’ve met so far.”
Ariadne couldn’t believe that she had just said that out loud, but Carlisle didn’t seem disturbed by her observation. “In some ways I don’t.” He said seriously. “I
believe that we shouldn’t let our condition prevent us from doing what we know
Ariadne looked puzzled, precipitating another laugh from Carlisle.
“I’m sorry; I should explain myself more clearly. I only hunt animals.” Ariadne’s
eyes opened wide in surprise, was that even possible? How could one possibly fight the natural urge
to hunt? The thought of animal blood
made Ariadne feel slightly nauseous.
“How is this possible?” She demanded “Hunting is instinctive; surely you must have killed a human. It is our first imperative after we are born into this life!”
Carlisle regarded her sadly. “It is as you say our first urge; however it is possible to satisfy the need if not
the lust, by drinking the blood of animals. In answer to your question, no I have never
killed a human.” The young woman was confounded by his words. How many human lives had she taken? For a long moment they both sat in silence,
Ariadne studying this strange vampire’s face and for the first time she noticed
his eyes. They were a warm amber hue
nothing like the crimson orbs she looked at in the mirror. It was Carlisle who broke the silence.
“Once again I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to be judgemental.” He continued, “I understand that an individual’s experience
differs from person to person, perhaps it isn’t as hard for someone like me.”
He smiled at her kindly.
“I don’t know.” Murmured Ariadne feeling shame at her inability to control her bloodlust. “I was made and after the pain
subsided the thirst was unbearable.” She
tried to block the images of her dead family from her mind…she truly was a
Carlisle was beginning to regret his words and could see that the young woman was struggling internally with this idea.
He reached out and patted her hand in a gesture of comfort. Ariadne was once more subjected to a barrage
of feelings although this time an intense compassion was without a doubt the
strongest causing her to instantly feel much better. “I’m fine.” She said
smiling and moving her hand away from him. “Perhaps you could take me hunting
with you sometime.” Carlisle
was delighted. “It would be my pleasure.” He replied.
“I see you are getting to know our resident radical!” Aro’s impressive voice echoed across the library as he, Jane, Alec and Renata entered the room as one.
Carlisle rose from his seat and crossed the stone floor embracing then kissing Aro on both cheeks, as seemed to be the custom here. Ariadne wondered
if it was just a clever way for Aro to find out what his guests were thinking. The young woman also rose from her seat and
curtsied to her master.
“How are you today old man?” Carlisle asked playfully, loosing him from the embrace.
“Probably healthier than you, hunched over your books all day.” Laughed Aro.
Turning to Ariadne Aro said. “I do hope Carlisle
hasn’t been preaching about abstinence again.” Turning his eyes on Carlisle in mock disapproval.
Ariadne wondered if the camaraderie between the two men was real or just another sham.
Aro turned to Jane Aro said “I have no further need of your services this afternoon, you may continue with Miss Miller’s instruction.”
Jane nodded acknowledging her masters request and beamed at Ariadne. “Shall we?” she asked motioning to the large double doors.
Aro clapped his hands together sending Renata and Alec to guard the doors, and then turned away from the two women towards Carlisle. Placing his hand on his shoulder, he led him
back to his pile of books. “Now my friend, tell me what you have learned about
the Romanians.” The two men began to speak urgently in voices too low for
Ariadne to make out what they were saying, but she had the distinct feeling
that trouble was coming to Volterra.
Jane reached the doors at the exact moment Alec and Renata did, they all seemed to
move in perfect synchronization making Ariadne rush to keep up. Jane kissed Alec
and Renata farewell then lead Ariadne
out into the corridor.
The two women almost collided with Marcus and Caius who were on their way in.
Caius grinned salaciously at Ariadne, making no attempt to disguise his actions.
“Just look who we have here, Marcus.” He laughed. “Jane, I hope you will be
teaching our newest member the proper way to entertain her master.” Jane
rolled her eyes at Caius and turning to Ariadne
said. “Don’t pay any heed to Master
Caius; he enjoys a joke far too
much.” Caius gave Jane
a wounded look amending. “Do forgive me Ariadne, but you are looking so much
better than last I saw you.” Ariadne shifted her weight from one foot to the
other uncomfortably under his admiring gaze, but managed to nod in assent.
“Come Marcus old chap, let’s see what Aro and Carlisle are
up to.” Marcus
as usual looked bored and grunted before turning away from the women.
“Don’t be a stranger.” Caius shouted over his shoulder at Ariadne. “Jane.”
He acknowledged before ushering Marcus
through the library doors.
“I think you have an admirer.” Jane laughed.
“I” stammered Ariadne trying to reply though her discomfort.
“Oh, don’t worry.” Jane soothed “Caius flirts with all the attractive women. Even some that aren’t.” she laughed.
“How does Athenodora cope with it?” Ariadne asked without thinking.
“Sadly, like most women in her position, she doesn’t have a choice. She’s not as
strong willed as lady Sulpicia. Now if
Aro behaved like that, Sulpicia would take action.”