It felt like I was in a dream. One of those awful dreams where you’re running away from a creature you’re never going to outrun. One of those dreams when you’re screaming at the top of your voice to wake up, yet the dream doesn’t end. I was too terrified to pause and look behind me. How close were they? No one in the Plaza seemed alarmed by the terrified expression on my face, or the frantic pace which I was running at. Did nobody in Italy care? Just then, I smacked face first into a black wall at full speed. I re-bounded off it and landed flat on my back on the hot concrete. The wall suddenly didn’t seem as close anymore, and I realised with a start it was actually two people staring down at me with lilac eyes.
“Oh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t notice you there,” I scrambled to my feet as quickly as I could, but the sudden head rush sent me flying into the closest one of the pair.
“No problem. Are you alright? You seem a little flustered,” The man’s hands were ice cold against my arms; even through his gloves. How could I explain why I was ‘a little flustered’ without seeming completely crazy?
“Umm, yeah. Thanks. I’m fine. I should probably be going...” My voice trailed off as I heard the approaching footsteps behind me. I was shocked to feel the man’s hands tighten on my arms. I glanced upwards to see him glaring into the shadows behind me.
“Andrew, Thomas, Elizabeth,” He almost drenched my face as he spat the words. A sudden chill shot down my spine as I realised that he knew my pursuers. I began to feel like a sheep being herded. I turned my head slightly so that I could see the three hooded people in the shadows as the man with cold hands addressed them. “I thought you were aware of our residency in this part of Italy. May I ask what you were doing in pursuing this young lady so early in the day?”
The closest of the three stepped out into the sun, and I felt my eyes grow wide as I realised how tall he was. I shifted my weight closer to the two men I had bumped into. Somehow their lilac eyes and black, woollen cloaks seemed more inviting than the red eyes of the others.
“Aro,” He nodded his head toward the man who had addressed him, the man still holding my arms. “We did not realise you still hunted in this part of the city. With the high population I would have thought you’d search further afield. All the same, we apologise. Thomas here,” He gestured behind him,”Has taken quite a liking to her scent. A fine tracker is Thomas, he – Oh. I do apologise again. It seems this young girl now knows far too much. We can deal with her if you like.”
His voice was thick with implications. He was a tall man, perhaps bordering on 6 feet, and he wasn’t very broad. His voice had a low, musical edge to it; much as the others did. All five had pale, chalky skin. They all had what looked rather like bruising under their eyes, but it could simply have been from many nights of no sleep. It was unnerving to wonder why these people all shared a lack of sleep. I quickly turned my attention back to the pair of lilac eyed men and studied their faces the best I could. Each had bruise-like colouring under their eyes, and neither was very plump. They reminded me of two hooded twigs. One thing that was startlingly obvious in every person here, with the exception of me, however, was how unbelievably beautiful they were. I was sure they must have been related somehow, but they seemed so full of loathing for each other. The lilac eyed man who hadn’t spoken yet shocked me by suddenly addressing the obvious leader of my pursuers, “That won’t be necessary, Andrew, I assure you. Aro and I shall take care of matters here. Off you go.”
With a courteous nod, much like one you would give to a member of the Royal family, the three hooded figures were gone. I suddenly became very aware of how empty this part of the Plaza had become in the past few minutes, and I felt a shiver run down my back. I had no idea who these men were or how they knew the people who had been trying to murder me. What had they meant by me now knowing too much? Before I could consider it any longer, Aro spoke up.
“I am so very, very sorry about that, my dear. You are safe now. Eleazer,” He indicated the other man, “And I shall take care of you now. Where are you from?”
“Mario Negri, Sir.”
“Please, call me Aro. ‘Sir’ is much too formal for friends,” He must have noticed my frightened expression, as he quickly added, “I assure you that you are completely safe with us. We shall not hurt you.”
Somehow, a strange man telling me that he wasn’t going to hurt me wasn’t very comforting. Neither was his formal tone. He spoke as if he were living centuries ago. I was a little confused as to why he hadn’t seemed surprised when I’d told him that I was from Mario Negri; surely he knew.
“My friend here sees – potential – in you. You look exhausted, my dear. Follow us,” It didn’t seem logical for Aro’s words to make me feel safe, but I felt safer now than I had my entire life.
We walked through the shadows towards the castle that towered above the tops of the buildings. It was a boiling hot day, but the two men never removed their cloaks or gloves. When we reached the wooden doors at the entrance to the castle, Eleazer held the door for me, and I was sure that I heard him inhale as I stepped past him. The inside of the building was surprisingly modern; a long, high-ceilinged room with a few windows, and pictures scattering the walls. Eleazer strode on ahead, but Aro stayed close to my side, as we crossed the room. When we reached the wooden door at the other end of the room, Eleazer once again held it open for me. This corridor was completely different; bare, empty, old-fashioned. Aro seemed to notice me shudder as chills rippled down my spine; he moved closer to me and extended his arm to reach around my waist. Every human instinct in me told me to turn and run, but I couldn’t find the fear in me - I was completely at ease here.
We reached the next wooden door, and Eleazer, once again, held it open for me as I stepped through. This room was completely different, yet again. Each wall was painted an off-white colour, and each held a painting. The lights from the paintings and the classroom – style strip lights across the roof were the only sources of light to this room; there wasn’t a single window. A mahogany reception desk took up the bottom corner of the room, the other bottom corner simply housed another door and chairs lined each wall. This was obviously the more public entrance, as people were wandering in through a huge entrance, on the opposite side of the room to the desk. I began to wonder why we’d taken the more private route, and why every door in this place seemed to be on the right. I knew that I should have been worried about a strange man still having his arm wrapped around my waist, but I couldn’t find a single trace of fear in me.
Eleazer and Aro both nodded to the receptionist as they passed. “Mary,” Was the only word they spoke to her. Mary’s answering smile seemed more rehearsed than she had perhaps intended, as she quickly looked back down to her desk.
“I don’t mean to seem rude, Aro, but where exactly are we going?” I was surprised to find that my voice wasn’t as high-pitched as I would’ve expected.
“My dear, as I said earlier; you look exhausted. We’re merely allowing you to rest. We shan’t be much longer now; only one more corridor to go.”
“You don’t have to do this, you know? You’ve already done enough for me. You scared away those red-eyed people. That’s more than enough.”
“But we mu- we want to. Tell me, my dear, what’s your name?”
“Luna.” I stopped looking around, and stared into his violet eyes.
“Luna... And what is your last name, Luna?”
“Umm, Swan. My name is Luna Swan.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Luna Swan. I’m Aro Volturi. My brothers Marcus and Caius will be delighted to meet you. Tell me, do you have any family?”
“My mum lives in Florida, and my dad lives in Washington. They thought I was crazy, so they sent me to an asylum, here in Volterra, six months ago; Mario Negri. They declared me dead; they even had a funeral. I escaped this morning, but I bumped into those people. I did apologise, but they started sniffing me and whispering to each other. I got scared, so I ran, but they followed me,” My voice broke at the memory. I had to clear my throat a few times to remove the tears that had built up there. Aro’s eyes, which had risen to ceiling, looked down into mine, and gently wiped away a tear that had rolled down my cheek.
“You’re safe now, my dear. They will not find you again. They will look, but they will not find you.”
Mine and Aro’s conversation had distracted me; we were no longer in the reception area, but in what resembled a castle turret. At the far side of the circle were three chairs, they almost appeared throne-like.
“There you are, my dear,” Aro indicated the chairs, “You get some rest. We’ll take care of everything.”
He guided me slowly toward the centre chair, and gently pushed me down into it. It wasn’t at all how I’d expected; it was extremely soft. I curled into a ball, with my face toward the back of the chair, and hugged my knees to my chest. I closed my eyes and expected to lie awake for a long time, just as I did at the asylum, but I fell straight into unconsciousness. The last thing I remembered was a cold hand on my side, and pain as something sharp broke the skin on my neck.