An Inauspicious Beginning

IC Time: Late night, July 3
Location: Outside Volterra
Synopsis: Guests begin to arrive for the ball, but all is not well.
Submitted by: Portia

After a trans-Atlantic flight landing at the nearest airport, it's a simple matter to rent a car and drive the
rest of the way to Volterra. The Tuscan countryside is as beautiful as all the travel brochures say it is. The only
downside is the necessity to once again, restrict movements until after dark. The plane landed at dusk
and by the time the drive is finished, it is well after midnight. The sienna gates of Volterra loom ahead,
at the end of the road.

Inari steps out of the taxi at a drop off point built into the road specifically for this purpose. It being so late,
she doesn't bother to draw the hood up on her cloak and simply leans into pay the driver with a few bills.
Without luggage she begins walking towards the gate and the ever present police guards there, preferring to walk into
Volterra, to revisit the sites. She's familiar enough with the layout of the village having spent a considerable
amount of time meandering about it.

It has been years since he has been back to this place. Carlisle rolls his window down for the drive to catch the
different scents of the night air. The silence was golden to his ears, reaching next to him he takes the hand of his
wife giving it a light assuring squeeze. A smile creeps upon his lips once the gates can be seen. Parking the car he
gets out and walks around opening the door for his wife assuming his son will care for Bella, which he can't help
but chuckle lightly to his own private joke about at first suggesting bringing her here in a coffin.

Esme returns the squeeze of her husband's hand as she looks out the window of the car, smiling at the sights.
Another smile is given as her door is opened and she steps out. "It's beautiful here, Love. No wonder you stayed for
a time," she gives as she links her arm with his, casting a glance back to make sure that their children are behind

Every precautious was taken in regard to Bella on the way, doing their best to keep her away from large
congregations of humans. Private jets, hiring a car, driving until they got to Volterra. Staying only at the Inn set
asside for this occasion. So now they approach the castle itself, Bella sitting in the back seat of their rented car
with Edward. When the window rolls down Bella just automatically holds her breath, having a different reaction to
the countryside then Carlisle. Her only memories of this place not as fond as Carlisle's. When the car stops, she
waits nervously for Edward to open the door for her.

Through the whole drive, Edward keeps his arm around Bella's shoulders, offering her any comfort that he can
provide. He really only has eyes for her, watching her reactions, trying to judge what she's thinking. It's a
neverendingly entertaining pasttime, really. As the car slows, however, he glances up, his lips setting in a grimly
determined expression. The easy part is over… So he hops out of the car, quickly making his way around to
open the door for Bella. He even offers her his arm, all gallant and gentlemanly.

Outside of the gates, two small, hooded figures pace. They aren't by the road coming in initially, but they approach
as the car nears the city. Jane's cloak falls away some from her face. "I'd much rather be reading tonight," she
sighs impatiently, her eyes sweeping the car. "I do wish someone else would have been sent. There will be no
punishments issued tonight…" However, she quiets there. She's not one to complain about Aro's orders too much.
"Only false smiles and welcoming arms." Her small hand reaches for Alec's, "Thank you, brother, for your company.
Let us meet the guests." The cars were stopped at the gate by the gatekeeper, but before the gatekeeper
can greet them, Jane is upon them, staring and smiling a smile that doesn't reach her red eyes. "Greetings, Cullen family."

Anyone who knows the twins will readily acknowledge that Alec is the more stable of the two. His angelic face smiles
fondly at his sister, taking her hand and giving it a reassuring pat with the other. "Gracious smiles and warm
greetings, sweet sister." Alec counters. He wears a pearl grey suit beneath the dark cloak, which
serves as his badge of office. "If you must endure it, I will endure alongside you." Likewise,
the boyish-looking vampire moves forward to greet the visitors as they step out of the car.
"Welcome to Volterra…" He looks past them to Inari, making her way along the road.
"And welcome back, Inari."

Inari smiles faintly as she recognizes the twins. She steps around the small gathering of Cullens, though she has no
real knowledge of them. Esme she gives a nod, recognizing her face though it was framed by a Mercedes window at the
time. She stops just past the twins before entering the city, raising her eyebrows, "Jane. Alec. It's okay if I go
in?" she politely asks of them for some odd reason.

Carlisle smiles over toward shis wife once she takes his arm. Glancing towards his son and daughter he gives them a
nod of assurance. Volterra is not a place for anything to go wrong or they may never get to leave. Turning his gaze
back towards the gates his golden eyes meet first the ones of Jane and then Alec. "Thank you for the lovely
greeting. Is nice to be back in Volterra."

Esme does hold her hand back for her son and daughter, should either of them choose to take it, though she keeps
herself snug to her husband's side. Inari gets a smile and nod in greeting, while Jane and Alec also get a smile.
"Hello," she offers, her tone simple and polite as she speaks.

Bella hesitates for a moment before she takes Edward's arm and tucks in at his side. She does not notice the pair of
greeters at first, drawn by smell of the gatekeeper. She quickly holds her breath and turns her head toward Edward's
chest. Trying to let his intoxicating aroma override the smell of human oh so close. As she turns her head she
notices the twins and nearly hisses at the memory of Jane torturing Edward and at actually tries to move to stand in
front of him protectively. So she is a bit twitchy, she is only 'six weeks old'. At Carlisle's friendly greeting
though she tries to settle her features and tenseness, though her hand is tight around Edward's. A grip that would
crush a human hands. As Esme's hand is offered she takes that one as well.

When Bella turns her head toward him, he adjusts himself so that he can hold her hand with one, and put the other
around her shoulders. Which puts him in a perfect position to both be the good, supportive husband, AND to grab her
if it seems like she might loose control. Not that he really believes that would happen, but it never hurts to be
safe. Either way, he flicks the smallest of smiles possible while still being polite, and nods slightly. For now,
he's content to let Esme and Carlisle make the greetings.

Jane looks over Inari with an unfriendly gaze. It's her usual gaze though, so if one is familiar with it, they might
detect a hint of curiosity in it as well. "Hello, Inari. I suppose so." Her lips tighten and she then adds: "If you
wait, we can escort you to our home." She seems to fight back a smile before she turns on her heel toward Carlisle,
the clear leader of the coven. She still holds Alec's hand. "Aye, it is nice to see you again, Carlisle. We met
however briefly last time." She smiles, tight-lipped. Next, the child vampire eyes Edward and Bella, remembering her
fun with Edward, but not speaking of it. "We've arrange for your family to stay at one of the best Inns in
the city. You are welcome to visit the castle at any time, but Aro thought it might be best to give you your
privacy." She seems to be smug about speaking for Aro.

Alec nods politely to each of the visitors in turn, though there is a bit more familiarity in Inari's greeting. "We
are pleased that … most of you could make it." His ruby eyes linger on Bella. "And of course, this is your first
visit to Volterra as one of us." .oO( Alice is missing. Aro will not be happy about that. But they /did/ change
Bella. I'll need to collect from Afton. )

.oO( Okay. Wait for all the pleasantries it is. ) Inari turns to watch the twins go about their assigned task, as
she knows full well Jane wouldn't volunteer for this one. She also knows when Jane suggests something that's what
she wants you to do, regardless of the other choices involved. She folds her hands behind her back and smiles
slightly at the almost courtly dance going on, almost humming as she rocks on her feet, heel to toe.
.oO( Da ba deeda ba di… - the song runs through her head ) She would reach out and take the
red thread that somehow managed to get on Alec's grey cloak, but she figures it would look awkward.
She's an awfully quiet creature, at least if you can read all that stuff going on in all that extra room she has upstairs.

"Good to see you again, Jane and Alec." Carlisle gives her a simple nod before continuing, "I'd like to introduce
you to my wife. This is Esme." Crossing his free hand across his body to lightly rest upon hers as she holds onto
his arm. "Darling this is Jane and Alec." At the mention of their privacy his smile brightens greatly, "We appreciate the thought. Please give my regards to Aro, Caius, and Marcus. I do look forward to seeing them again."

Esme tilts her head slightly, she would offer her hand to shake, but both of them are quite preoccupied at the
moment. "It's a pleasure to meet both of you," she gives politely. "You already know our children, Edward and
Bella," is given with a gentle smile. The hand that isn't with her husband, gives Bella's hand a firm squeeze.

As she is greeted, Bella tries to stand up a little taller which at least helps with these younger vamps. At least
there is some she can see 'eye to eye' to. She takes a tentative breath before going back to holding her breath
again. She nods at the greeting, just continuing to hold onto her mother and husband. At the mention of staying
outside of the castle, Bella does relax a touch. At least she can escape on occasion. At the reassurences of her
husband and mother she tries to relax further.

Edward nods slightly toward the other vampires, his expression carefully neutral as Esme calls attention to himself
and Bella. His arm remains around Bella, his hand squeezing hers. And although his lips are formed into that careful
little small smile, his eyes are completely serious. But he says nothing, still.

"Nice to meet you, Esme," Jane says simply, offering a nod and a tight smile. .oO( She's a pretty lady, except for
those eyes. Where's Alice? Can't believe Inari thinks she can just march back… )
It would seem the small girl's
thoughts are scattered as she turns toward the gate. "Please, allow us to lead you to your hotel and give you a
small tour," she offers, solemn. Then… Jane pauses. Her step freezes in mid-air for just a second and then falls
again, her back straightening moreso. Something's come over her tiny earpiece mic, designed especially for her
personal hearing. She says nothing, but her thoughts are alarmed. .oO( Intruders coming toward town? Newborns?
Family dead at farmhouse… )
She eyes Alec quickly and raises a brow, trying not to alarm the guests.

Alec's smile goes frozen and he automatically brings a small hand to the earpiece. Caius always pays for the best
equipment and these are designed specifically to /not/ be overheard by other supernaturals. Makes coordination easier. He exchanges a quick glance with his twin. .oO( Get them inside while they are none the wiser. ) "Inari," Alec says smoothly, "You know the way. Would you be so kind to show our guests to their accommodations." A moment
later, three more grey-cloaked figures slip out of the gate. Once they are out of eyesight of the humans, they pick
up speed, racing into the countyside.

Inari eyes the three cloaked figures as they dash off towards the countryside, answering Alec in a distracted tone,
"Uhh. Sure." She turns towards the Cullens. .oO( I wonder if these things count against Aro's Safest City Award.
Doubt it. )
She offers a friendly enough smile, if still distracted and motions for the small group to follow after
her. "This way." .oO( Market Street or …?] ) She gives a final glance in the direction the cloak figures took
before leading the other guests into the village itself…

Another is making her way out from the gates, though she isn't wearing a cloak like the other guard. Abbey blinks at
the ones at the gate, her pale gaze bouncing from one Cullen then to another. A faint frown is offered while her
gaze lingers on Esme and Bella the ones she can remember speaking with. She chews on her lip a moment before merely
moving by the group heading towards the country side as well without a word, nod or smile. Once out of view like the
vampires she takes off running towards the scene..

Carlisle watches as they suddenly take off. Giving a quick glance towards his wife, the scent of the wolf doesn't
escape him and he glances watching as Abbey walks directly past and after the others. 'A wolf in Volterra?' his
thoughts make him looks briefly towards Edward before redirecting his attention towards Inari, "Ok." he follows
along with his wife.

Esme watches the guards, and then her eyes dart towards Abbey, blinking. She stares after the wolf for a good, long,
while, before a faint gasp escapes her lips. .oO( Abbey?! ). Her attention, though, quickly turns to her husband.
"Curious," she murmurs as she settles herself closer into her husband's side.

As the werewolf Appears, Bella looks at her curiously a look of surprise on her own features. She looks
questioningly to Esme then Edward before looking back but the wolf is already running off again. As Inari moves
forward to escort them towards the inn and the castle she turns her attention back to the task ahead of her, though
occasionally her red gaze flickers to the countryside and the long gone vampires and werewolf.

Edward's eyes bounce from person to person, sitting back in silence and soaking in the troubled thoughts. His arm
tightens around Bella, but he doesn't immediately move to follow everyone else. "Carlisle…" he murmurs, nearly
silent but insistent. "I'm…concerned for Bella's safety." Well, that should be inocuous and noncommital enough to
not reveal whatever he knows. He hopes.

Inari pauses to frown at Abbey, glancing back into the village searching for somebody that she expects to be following her. .oO( What the hell? Where the <bleep> is Aset? ) She twirls, sending her cloak spinning behind her
with the speed of it and glares at Jane and Alec, "They should be working /together/. /Always/ together." She
abruptly ceases her angry speech and spins back to face the village. .oO( Not my problem - anymore. Wait till I get
a hold of Aset. )
She attempts to offer that friendly smile once again as she begins to the lead the group at a
brisk pace into the village towards their accommodations. "This way. Things might get messy out there."

Jane watches the group head toward the gate, and immediately grabs for Alec, whispering to him quickly. "I'm going
to ask Gregori and some of the others to the gate for back-up." Her eyes are fiery, she's /not/ sitting this one
out. A glance is given to the Cullens and Inari. "Indeed. It's nothing big. Enjoy your stay." She doesn't want to
panic anyone, or worse, make the Volturi look bad. Jane smiles once before she bolts off after Abbey, after the
human in the guardhouse isn't paying attention.

Alec frowns, looking from Edward to Carlisle. "Your family will be safe, have no fear. The safety of our guests in Volterra is paramount. Please, enjoy the city." His voice is smooth as silk, even as he listens to Jane's furious
whisper. .oO( Mind reader…. ) The Guard and the wolf have disappeared. Even the non-telepaths can determine that
there must be something urgent happening.

Not that the words from his son catch him as a surpise. Carlisle knows Edward has been concerned for Bella
throughout their whole trip. "It's alright son. Whatever is amiss has nothing to do with us." he says lightly. Not
even if his friends asked him, he will not join in their fight or cause. Trying to lighten the mood, "Welcome to
Volterra my darling. I'm glad that I finally get to show it to you." his smiles returns as he walks along with his

Not that the words from his son catch him as a surpise. Carlisle knows Edward has been concerned for Bella
throughout their whole trip. "It's alright son. Whatever is amiss has nothing to do with us." he says lightly. Not
even if his friends asked him, he will not join in their fight or cause. Trying to lighten the mood, "Welcome to
Volterra my darling. I'm glad that I finally get to show it to you." his smiles returns as he walks along with his

Esme turns her head, one more time, to stare after Abbey, before her husband's words drag her back to the now. "Yes,
let's go," she gives, gently tugging on Bella's hand. "It's lovely here, Carlisle, thank you for bringing me," she
gives, turning her love-filled eyes up to look at her husband's face.

Bella looks between Edward and Carlisle, her body tensing at the words from her husband and the contrary words of
her Father in law. She takes a tentative shallow breath, unable to hold it any longer. She tilts her face toward her
husband as she does so, hoping again his scent will overpower any others. "Please lets go somewhere…I can smell
the humans here…" She whispers to Edward with a concerned tone to her voice.

Edward glances down at Bella, uncertainly, then just…nods. He glances up at Alec, eyes just slightly
narrowed…but then he pointedly looks away and back to Carlisle. "You're right," he says, flatly. "Let's go." And
he follows the family, still holding Bella protectively as he goes.

*The Cullens and Inari continue into Volterra and the scene moves to the countryside.*

The wolf and the reinforcements from the Guard race into the night. Abbey, unfortunately, doesn't have the advantage
of having an earpiece, so until she is close enough to catch the scent herself, she needs to follow the Volturi Guard. Their course leads them several miles to the southwest, through some of the vineyards that dot the rural
area. The unmistakable snarls and growls of combat reach them even before the scent.

Three familiar vampires are engaged with three times their number of unfamilar ones. There are quivering remains of
at least two or three more on the ground, for despite the odds, the Volturi are fierce fighters.

Felix is a heavy brawler, his heightened strength giving him an advantage in close combat. He literally rips the
limbs off of a very young female vampire, with brilliantly glowing eyes, though one of her fellows manages to sink
his teeth into the giant's flank.

Leaner, faster and lethal, Aldo has managed not to lose his cowboy hat in the melee, though it is slightly askew.
The sharp >crack< of his gruesome whip can be heard, along with his gleeful peals of laughter. He seems to be
enjoying himself.

The smallest and least experienced, Stasia favors fighting aloft, skipping through the treebranches. She's long
abandoned her cloak, and her shoes, using her petite form and her expertise in moving through the trees to her
advantage. Though young, she is certainly no pushover, as her technique shows… but she's been bitten at least
three times, by the looks of things.

Along the way to reach what was going on Aset joined up with ABbey and the other guards. An when the
wolves got within scent of the newborn they were quick to shift into there wolf forms. Now the two oversized wolves are making
there way towards the fighting. Abbey is quick to skid to a stop while she glances around at the mess that is
happning here. A thick growl escapes her while she shifts on her paws before shifting towards the trees as she
catches sight of movement there. Aset isn't too far behind, the wolves work better with one another after all.

Jane manages to catch up with Abbey and Aset, and as they transform, she runs along with them. They are faster, so
she trails behind. "Alec! We're needed." She surveys the ground, looking for the perpetrators.

Alec keeps pace with his twin, but comes to a halt as he reaches the scene. He needs to concentrate to use his gift,
but fortunately, it can affect more than one person at a time. Corin, one of the three that ran ahead of them,
immediately falls back protect Alec.

Santiago and Devin, however, leap to engage, tearing into the attackers.

Felix snarls as he's bitten again, clubbing the offending newborn with the arm of the female. He is the closest to
the benefit of the reinforcements.

Aldo seems to be holding his own. Though clouded with bloodlust, there is just something strangely intimidating
about him. That, and his whip of vampire flesh keeps them from closing too quickly around him.

In the trees, Stasia darts among the branches, keeping out of reach of the less agile newborns that try to follow
her. One of them, however, works on tearing up the great tree from the ground and before it falls, the young Volturi
Guard leaps clear.

The wolves moves swiftly along the tree line and before long find the vampire that is working on pulling up a tree where Stasia just happens to be. Abbey is the first to attack the large red wolf leaps forward, jaws opend wide while she bites out at a arm, her forepaws going to slam her weight into the newborn. Aset comes around to the side
and aims for the same newborn's legs to clamp down upon a leg and do some real damage if give the chance.

Jane stays back with her brother. She wasn't going to leave him alone, and they worked best together. So, she takes
cues from the other twin and when they happen upon a target, she waits for Alec, and then works her magic, causing as much unimaginable pain as possible, making one of the newborns a perfect target for the wolves…

The reinforcements, vampire and wolf, slam into the newborns with the force of a battering ram. The three beleagured combatants rally with their fellows, moving like a well organized unit. When Alec's gift is activated and the white
mist starts rolling in, the Volturi alter their tactics to manuver the newborns into the mist, effectively
neutralizing them. The already dismembered are summarily burned and after a brief commisseration, it's determined to
leave one for questioning and destroy the others. Bringing one prisoner in covertly can be done. Bringing in ten or eleven would be difficult.

The two wolves are able to take down a few of the newborns, limbs are pulled off and the like. Seens the mist Abbey
and Aset hang back from it a few moments before they work on getting the newborns to actually go into it. Which
means they chase after them and basicly corral them into it like dogs would do with cattle.

Jane breathes out, rubbing her hands together. "A success. Well done, brother. Abbey, Aset… everyone," she says
apraisingly. The tiny vampire eyes the prisoner severely, and over the radio, they are ordered to bring the prisoner
to the dungeon. "We'll retrieve a car," she suggests, relying the radio transmission from Aro. Still, she wonders.
So soon before the ball, who could have done this?

Corin and Santiago are dispatched to destroy the evidence of the farmsight and ensure that no other nasty surprises
turn up. Felix, Aldo and Stasia are all wounded to some extent, but will recover. They are quickly whisked back to
the castle to give their report, once the car arrives. The newborns are burned and the ashes scattered, leaving no
trace of the fire behind. All is done quickly and efficiently.

But Alec looks sidelong at his sister, sharing her concerns. This attack could not have been coincidence.

Abbey shifts some as she watches the newborns get burned, her ears lowering at the sounds while a
faint huff escaping her while she turns to leave unless one of the Voltui stop her that is.
Aset shakes his head at the scene as well before turning to follow after the red wolf. They both know
it had to be done though, newborns this close to a well populated city would be anything but good.
Along the way the wolves make sure none of the newborns escaped and reached near the city which leaves them out prowling for a while around the forest and so forth.

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