Me: Come on, Stephenie, can't I please own Twilight?
Stephenie Meyer: Haven't we had this conversation already?
Me: Well, yes, but come on. Please!
Stephenie Meyer: No.
Stephenie Meyer: Do I need to call Jane to get rid of you?
Me: *Runs away* No, I'm good!
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.
Warning: Right, this is the chapter with the non-corporal torture, and it will probably be described at length. So, if you don't like that kind of thing, or are bothered by it, or whatever, DON'T READ IT. You've been warned.
We walked until we reached the end of town, keeping to empty alleys and narrow streets where all the windows had curtains over them, then walked onward out of it until finally, perhaps a mile beyond the last house, the leader stopped.
"We're running from here on." She told us without turning when the rest of the group halted behind her as well. "Someone will be holding each of you. If you try to get away you will be destroyed." None of us said anything: there was nothing to say. A hand came out of the cloak nearest me and grabbed my wrist, and we set off into the already fallen night.
I didn't bother keeping track of how long we ran. None of us tired, no new thoughts crossed the minds of any of the guards, and only the scenery around us, shrouded in darkness that meant nothing, changed. We finally came to a stop in front of a cliff of black rock pierced by a narrow irregular opening. The leader stepped aside to let two of our escorts through it then jerked her head at us.
"Inside." We obeyed: from her thoughts I knew that she'd followed us in. A brief journey along a twisted passage later, we found ourselves in some sort of cave, a large chamber with walls of the same black stone and an almost smooth floor. One of the guards grabbed Jasper by the shoulders and shoved him toward the middle of the room.
"You," the leader ordered, "over there. You two," she turned to look at Emmett and me, "over to that wall. Kneel on the ground and face it, hands on your heads."
Someone's been watching too many movies I heard Emmett think: somehow, he was able to find humor even in this situation. All three of us obeyed our orders once again, and I quickly focused on Jasper's mind to see though his eyes. Not knowing what was going to happen was starting to seriously grate on my nerves.
Jasper stood in some military-seeming stance, feet shoulder width apart, spine straight, hands clasped behind his back, searching the edges of the room for anything that might yield information. Finally, we heard the sound of footsteps from another opening in the rock, and a moment later another cloaked figure- a rather short cloaked figure- emerged into the cave. Its mind was full of confident satisfaction, pride in its work, anticipation for what it was about to do, and so much sadistic glee it made me almost nauseous. Its emotions mirrored its thoughts, and Jasper shifted slightly- even he was disconcerted. The figure stopped a few yards in front of Jasper and threw back its hood. Both of us almost jumped in surprise. Under the hood was a girl with the face of an angel, full lips starting to curve up in a smile. The bloodlust in her mind increased, and for an instant I sincerely wished I was human just so that I could go throw up. Evil beauty should not have shocked me, of course- isn't that what we all are, after all- but this, this was worse than anything I'd seen even among our kind. If a demon was to posses an angel, I thought, this is what it would be.
"We brought them, Jane." The leader's voice was respectful now, deeply so, and I almost jumped again. So this was Jane, then. "These are the three trespassers."
"Very good." The demon-angel, the girl Jane, spoke for the first time. Her voice was beautiful as well, but I could feel the delighted menace that underlay it. "Aro will be very pleased."
She had been looking at Jasper this entire time, and now she studied him intently. In his mind, I could feel his instinct-fueled, almost wild desire to attack her, her so small there before him, threatening him and his coven, his family, and I could feel the iron self-control he was exerting to stay still and just keep facing her. She, in turn, had no fear at all, no trepidation facing a vampire half again her size whose very skin testified that he was dangerous, that he killed. Her lips turned up again.
"This, vampire-boy, is what happen to those who cross the line. Watch and learn." My nerves were stretched so taunt it almost hurt, all my enhanced senses and my own extra straining to know what was about to happen, to catch the first hint of her movement. But she didn't move at all. She just stood there, and looked at him, and slowly widened her smile.
What happened next took me by such utter surprise that I almost fell over to the floor, and it didn't help that I had almost no idea what had happened. There was nothing, nothing at all, like for all the seconds and minutes before, and then suddenly I was thrown out of Jasper's mind by the mental consciousness of all-devouring agony. I couldn't feel it myself, not in my body, but I could see in his mind that he felt it, that he, still completely untouched in the middle of the cave floor, was in incredible pain.
Abruptly the stone under me shook, and I knew Jasper's knees had hit the ground as he collapsed onto it. An instant later I heard a scream, and if I had blood it would have run cold. Jasper had spent decades in the most brutal conflict imaginable, had been torn into and attacked and sometimes almost destroyed. It took a lot to make him scream.
For indeterminable minutes it went on and on, the screams and the mental echo of pain and the image in my head of Jasper writhing on the ground. And then it was cut off, suddenly as it had started, the silence almost ringing, and Jasper pushed himself to his feet and stood back in his parade rest, his teeth clenched now, his whole body taunt. And then Jane smiled again…
The third time, the stone ground literally cracked when he fell, and the screams went on for the longest time yet. Jane didn't give him time to rise before turning slightly to address the redhead who I had called the leader, who I could see now was no leader at all when compared to Jane.
"Next, please." The redhead nodded and turned as well to snap her fingers at Jasper. "You, over by the wall like them." She strode over to us to grab Emmett by the shoulder. "You, your turn."
I felt incredibly bad for Emmett- unlike me, he had had no way of seeing what was going on, had only Jasper's screams and the shaking ground as hints to what awaited him. I wished that I could tell him, warn him, but of course there was no way. Instead of him, Jasper dropped down on his knees beside me, shaking slightly, and I wished I could tell him something as well, though in truth I had utterly no idea what to say. In my mind I watched Emmett waking to the cave's center, his own surprise as he saw Jane, watched as once more her lips began to turn up. And so it all happened again.
This time, I listened to the other thoughts around us as well, hearing the satisfaction in the minds of the guards at a job well done, the pleasure at the show. I wanted to kill them, and I tried to focus on that so I wouldn't hear Emmett's screams, beginning and ending and beginning and ending and beginning again. It didn't work, and I couldn't make the images leave my mind either, and once more I had to listen and watch until the final end, until Jane once more shifted her body and said
"Next." Not even a please this time. And then my unneeded breathing suddenly caught as I realized that now it was my turn, as I saw the redhead walking toward me. For almost the first time in my damned existence, I wanted to pray. A hand dropped onto my shoulder.
"You-" my mind was in too much of an uproar to hear the rest, to listen to the rest. My body felt like the marble it resembled as I followed the flame-and-darkness messenger to the demon-angel herself.
I halted in front of her, my real eyes finally seeing her face for themselves. She still looked perfect, like a one of those fairy children in the movies, like she might dance in a flowery meadow and float on the sun's rays. If not for her cloak, that is, if not for her deep crimson eyes, if not for the spike of bloodlust in her mind and the menace in her lips as their corners turned up just that way for the seventh time that night…
For all that I was expecting it, for all that I had felt its shadow and had braced myself for it, the pain took me completely by surprise. One moment I was staring at Jane's lips, and the next they had suddenly been torn away from my eyes, the whole cave, all reality had been torn away, to be replaced by blinding, deafening, overwhelming agony. I barely felt it as my body dropped to the floor, as my legs and arms flailed out, hardly heard the screams coming from my own mouth. Fire burned through all my veins. Every molecule of my being was pierced with searing needles, sliced open, crushed to pieces. It was worse than the pain of transformation, worse than anything, racing through me, sharp and scorching and devouring. It went on an on and on, and I wanted to die, wanted someone to end it all for me already, wanted anything, anything but this. And then it stopped. The room came back, and the ground I lay on, and my arms as I tried to push my palms against the ground and rise, just to show I could. I didn't get that chance. Before I had done more than brace against the stone, I heard Jane's mind directed at me again, and again everything was ripped away.
I couldn't bear it, I thought, I couldn't endure it. It was pain beyond belief, agony beyond comprehension. I couldn't describe it any more, couldn't compare it, because nothing could ever compare to it, nothing could ever explain it. I could just lie there and scream and wish for anything that would give me rest, to pay any price for a close, for a finish.
Again it stopped, and this time I didn't even try to move, just lay there curled into myself, dreading the final strike I knew would come. I thought I saw Jane's face somewhere above me, her smile turned now into laughter, but before I knew if the sight was real or not, she struck, and I was gone.
If anything, it was worse this time, a worse that I could hardly believe in, because how could anything be worse? How could I still be here, how could I not be a pile of ash, when I'd been torn to pieces so, and burned so, like I'd been thrown into the center of the sun? How could I still be in a cave, still be lying at Jane's feet? How could there still be people to hear me scream? Had it really been only minutes now? Had it really been this long before? Hadn't it been hours, hadn't it been weeks, hadn't the universe reached its end already? And still the agony went on. I screamed and screamed. I wanted to destroy the world, wanted to destroy the universe, wanted the end of time, wanted anything with a desperation that was like madness. Why had we picked this? Why hadn't we picked death? We should have picked death…
The pain stopped. Abruptly and completely it was gone, leaving nothing at all behind. I could see again, see the stone ground around me that I clung to like it was my only hold on existence. I could hear again, hear someone talking somewhere above me, words coming to me in snatches.
"…Volturi…there… lesson... borders… respect…" And I could feel again, feel when seconds or minutes or days later, a hand touched my shoulder one more time, a careful hand this time, a friendly hand.
"Edward…" I turned my head to look above me. Jasper and Emmett were there, bent over me, looking as worried as I'd ever seen them. Which one of them had said my name? It doesn't matter. I turned again, and tried to push up against the ground, but my body seemed to be refusing to obey me. I winced, suddenly furious at myself. They'd both gotten up, hadn't they? They were walking around, weren't they?
"Edward-" this was Jasper's voice, I could tell now. "Edward, stop with the inadequacy feelings. The redhead told that girl you were our leader. She was harder on you than on any of us."
Really? Had she said that? When had she said that? I tried to remember some conversation like that, but my mind drew a total blank. I wanted to put my head through a wall.
"Edward!" It was Jasper again. "Edward, seriously quit it! You're going to be fine, you just need a little time. But we need to get out of here right now, so just let us pick you up so we can get back to town. We promised to be back by dawn, and if we're not inside by then we'll have to hide and be a day late, and then we'll have to explain things, and I don't think we want to." I winced again at the thought of Carlisle and Esme knowing what had happened to us, before thinking of something else.
"Wait, but Alice-" my mind seemed to getting into order again, somehow. "Won't she have seen?" This time it was Jaspers turn to wince, and I could tell how much thinking about this bothered him.
"Probably. And I'm incredibly sorry for that. But she's a day's run away from here, and if I can get to her before she gets to them, I'm sure I can convince her that they shouldn't know." I nodded slowly, then stared further around me, my vision coming properly back now too. Aside from us, the cave was totally empty, with no sign left to indicate that anyone had been there at all.
"They left," Jasper told me, correctly interpreting my gaze. "And we need to go as well. Here, grab onto us." He extended his arm to warp around me as Emmett did the same from the other side. I turned to look at him: he hadn't said anything this entire time.
"Hey, are you alright?" Emmett grimaced.
"Yeah, I'm fine. But I'll tell you what- next time we see weird lines on the ground, let's get the hell away from them, OK?" I nodded again, and let my brothers pull me up.
A/N: I might eventually add more to this story- I've been considering writing the Jane encounters in New Moon from EPOV where this story has happened. I have no idea how soon I might get to it though. Meanwhile, this is the end of this particular event.
A big thanks to all my readers, alerters, favoriters, and (especially) reviewers. Sorry for the delay with this last chapter: RL and writer's block are mostly to blame for it, though I will also admit to some procrastination. Anyway, all the best to all of you.
Finally, if you read this and liked it, or read it and felt it was average, or even read it and thought that I'm a horrible, insane, violent person: please, please, please REVIEW. It takes so little time, and nothing makes me happier. Thanks to everyone who does.
And that's it.