3. The Young One

May, 1789
Volterra, Italy

Raindrops raced their way down the largest window in the great chamber, each droplet seeming set on its own path as it skittered its way toward the window’s wide bottom. A drop would find a miniscule groove in the glass and follow it from the top to the bottom, and if it were bumped, would simply join the next and continue on either its path or the other’s. Everything had a pattern—even the seemingly most random things had their ways. From where he sat, Aro could predict the paths that an individual droplet would take, simply from the way the dim light refracted off the glass.

The world seemed chaotic, but only if one lived an average life. Sixty years was not enough time to see patterns, the way everything fit into a larger picture. It was not enough time to understand that always the same events repeated, that human nature was the same. The same wars, fought over and over, the same sicknesses rising and falling, the same fears.

The same rain.

He wasn’t the only one watching the rain, or at least, he wasn’t the only one looking at it. Marcus also stared at it from a second, smaller chair, his eyes unfocused and glassy. He could sit like that for days, Aro had found. It disturbed them all, the way Marcus could be so still. Aro glanced at his brother-in-law where he sat, his pale hand supporting his paler jaw, his dark hair cascading over the hand and forearm both. For a moment he hungered to know what Marcus would be thinking as he looked at the rain, but he comforted himself in the thought that he would know the other man’s thoughts in due time.

The rain kept the humans from the piazza, save those few whose business was dire or whose lives so depended on whatever meager trade they could manage even on a day like this. Heidi had been sent further today, to the shrine to St. Marcus. Pilgrims were the easiest—many of them didn’t make it back even if they didn’t encounter a beast like Heidi. No one suspected any wrongdoing other than the completely mortal kind, and that kept the secret well. Of course, they could break their own laws here, if they chose—they could turn the whole town into a safe haven for their kind and no one stood above them to stop them—but there was a certain humility in keeping the secret anyway.

Of course, the young one had pressed those boundaries a bit.

When he looked past the droplets, Aro could just make out the tailored black coat, the high collar against the porcelain neck, the golden hair darkened by wetness. It wasn’t that vampires couldn’t tolerate the rain, of course, but Aro had always found it made him uncomfortable. The slickness made him feel uneasy in his own skin, and now that luxuries like indoor fireplaces and glass windows were a part of his everyday world, he tended to prefer the comfort they offered.

Carlisle seemed to feel exactly the opposite, which given everything else unusual about him, should never have surprised Aro. He confessed, however, that he had expected the younger vampire to grow tired of things like the rain. After a few years, Aro had suspected he would break, join them fully, share in the spoils of their hunts. Or Heidi’s hunts, to be more specific.

But it hadn’t happened. It had been nearly forty years, now, over a third of the younger one’s immortal life, and still he clung to his convictions, never partaking in their group feasts, nor hunting their prey on his own. And on days when the sun didn’t shine, he walked out among the humans. He even bought food in the market at times, especially imported spices, which he would leave lying about so that his quarters reeked of the mingled scents and his tabletops resembled those of an apothecary.

This amused Aro as much as it bewildered him.

Like today, it had been raining the day Carlisle had first appeared. One of the guard, Alrigo, had been the first to encounter the young one as he wandered aimlessly in the square. Alrigo had no special gifts save his brute strength, and occasionally had to be reprimanded for tearing an intruder to pieces before the council of brothers had managed an audience with the newcomer. But as they later learned he would do to everyone, Carlisle had stopped Alrigo in his tracks.

“He moves as a human,” the astonished report had come. A blond vampire, English, it seemed, his immortal age unknown but his mortal age just barely into manhood. His Italian was flawless, and he walked among the humans without showing any sign of need for restraint. The rain sheltered him from the revealing effects of the sunlight, and under its cover he had seemed to make himself perfectly at home among the people of Volterra. And his eyes! An unsettling amber, like nothing Aro had ever seen. If he had not plucked the image directly from Alrigo’s mind, he might have thought the other man to be lying.

Aro had sent out Alrigo and Rafael to collect the man, and no more than an hour had passed before the blond man stood in this very chamber, his clothes and hair dripping on the floor. Aro could have touched him and known everything of him at once, but for some reason the man gave him pause. The very way he carried himself—with dignity, Aro had realized later. His shoulders were upright, his bright, amber eyes eager as they searched out Aro’s crimson ones.

Qual è il suo nome, visitatore?” Aro had asked. The word had sounded strange. There weren’t visitors to Volterra, not of their kind. There were transgressors, and trespassers, but never visitors. That this man had strode so purposefully through the gates of their city, passing himself as human, unsettled them all. The blond had looked him in the eye, then, and Aro had gotten chills. His eyes were that strange color, certainly, but it wasn’t that. It was the way he seemed to be appraising Aro’s very countenance, as though he understood Aro in the way Aro understood those he touched. But this vampire could not have a gift as powerful as his own–could he?

The visitor studied the three of them, seated before him, fixing each of them with a gaze that seemed to be filled with curiosity. Yet, Aro found his look uncomfortable. Others did not dare look on him as though he were an object to study, yet this newcomer dared do so even before giving his name.

“”Il mio nome é Carlisle,” the blond answered after a long moment. “Carlisle Cullen.”

This prompted raised eyebrows from all three brothers. Their kind did not use surnames, and often even sloughed forenames as well. After the bloodthirst that accompanied the newborn years, one was often lucky if he could remember his forename at all, much less the family of which he might have once been a part.

Marcus, oddly, was the first to recover. He did not tend to speak these days, preferring the silence that had shrouded him for nearly a century. But something in the newcomer’s presence had startled him awake, and he frowned at the young one before going on in the tongue he obviously assumed would be their guest’s native one.

“Cullen…it is an Irish name, is it not?”

The blond nodded slowly. “Ireland is my family’s ancestral home,” he answered, “but I am English. A Londoner.”

It was even rarer that the blond would claim a place of residence. As far as the brothers knew, they, and they alone, maintained a home in a single city. The rest of their kind were nomads, roaming throughout the world. They knew the others, through reports or through punishing those who transgressed their single law, but they alone were the ones who maintained a domicile. This gave them a permanency, an edge over those who needed to shift locations with increasing frequency.

Like all things about Carlisle, that he claimed a home was disturbing.

“What brings you to Italy?”

The younger one nodded deeply, looking down to the floor for a long time. Aro was nearly going to ask him if he had found something fascinating in the stone when he fixed those odd eyes back on Aro and answered, “You do.”

This was enough to startle all three of them to rapt attention. The atmosphere in the room tensed at once, and there was a small shuffling of feet as Alrigo and Rafael moved toward the blond. But Aro lifted his hand ever so slightly, and the two guards shifted their weights away from Carlisle, giving their master puzzled looks. Aro agreed that the response was more than forward, but he felt little unease. There was something genuine about the blond, in the way he stood, his arms at his sides, his stance open but not defensive.

“You are here to seek us?” Aro replied.

Carlisle nodded. “There was one in France. Jean-Jacques, he was called. He told me where to seek you out, said I would be interested to meet you.”

Aro’s eyebrows raised once more. Jean-Jacques had been turned two centuries before, by a second Jean. The first had met his destruction for allowing a newborn to fall into the hands of an angry mob in southern France–the mob had been destroyed of course, and the town had burned. The brothers had not discovered Jean-Jacques for several years, but he had done a well enough job hiding himself that the three had deemed him little, if any, threat. Like all of them, he had seemed grateful for the brothers’ benevolence.

“What took you to France, my friend?”

“University,” Carlisle answered. “I went to study there.”

At this, Caius snorted, Marcus’s eyes grew wider, and Aro felt a smile creep across his face. No, this one was nothing like those they had encountered before. Studying at university. A fine use of immortality, truly. Aro had attended more than a few universities himself, but always from afar, huddled in back alleyways to listen to a lecture with his far-reaching ears. For one so young to have discovered the temperance necessary to mingle with the humans enough to study with them was no small feat.

Aro studied their visitor even more closely. He was strong; that much was clear. His body was no older than early manhood, perhaps just over twenty years. If he possessed any gifts, they did not seem to manifest themselves—and that seemed unlikely, in any case. Those with gifts tended to make their gifts known at once, either to show off to Aro and the other brothers or to defend themselves from them.

All Aro had needed to do then was stand, approach Carlisle, and simply shake his hand—a mere touch of skin and he would know every thought that had ever existed in this obviously exquisite mind. But there was something about Carlisle’s openness and the seemingly genuine gaze that rested upon the three brothers that made the act seem like a vile intrusion. So while Aro would tell Carlisle later about his gift and Carlisle would submit to its powers willingly, at that first moment Aro had merely leaned forward and asked the blond to tell him more.

That had been nearly four decades ago, and little had changed. Aro remained fascinated by Carlisle; the others tolerated him because he was Aro’s pet. But even Aro had to admit that after so long, he had expected the young one to gravitate toward their ways. That he had thus far shown no sign of doing so was both admirable and unsettling.

As though to underscore the point, Caius entered the chamber. He followed Aro’s gaze at once, and he and Aro both watched as Carlisle spoke easily to one of the vendors, a woman who sold medicinal herbs.  He leaned in cordially as they spoke, unnecessarily mimicking the body language of the humans around him, who had need of getting closer to a vendor in order to hear her. His forearms rested on the woman’s cart, and he smiled at her. She laughed in answer to something he had said as she handed him a small cloth package. He tucked this into his overcoat, and proceeded to continue chatting.

“Those things he brings in are vile,” Caius said, his nose wrinkling in disgust as he watched the interchange. “Couldn’t you stop him?”

Aro saw little harm in Carlisle’s exploits. Carlisle kept himself out of their way, sometimes disappearing for years at a time—to Africa, to Siberia, to the Orient. His curiosity was unquenchable, yes, but as far as Aro was concerned, it was harmless.

“I see no reason to stop his mind,” Aro answered absently, gazing back out over the square. Carlisle had finished his transaction and was beginning to wend his way back toward the castle. Aro could see the black cloak and golden hair as they wove through the humans—so close to them that a single lunge would provide Carlisle with meal enough for weeks. But this was not to be, of course. The humans milled through the square, blissfully unaware that their predators stood watch from above, and that another dangerous being walked among them. And, his differences unseen, the blond disappeared into the castle’s door.

The truth was, Aro found Carlisle fascinating. He loved to study his people, The Chosen, as he often called them. He at times kept transgressors for months or even years before disposing of them simply because he wished to understand them more. Marcus found this cruel; Caius felt it was a waste of time; but Aro felt as long as the other existed as a possible object of study, he ought become one.

Yet Carlisle did not fit the usual mold for one of Aro’s specimens. He transgressed no laws—mortal, immortal or even divine, as far as Aro could tell. The young one maintained a purity of heart that to Aro made him at once entertaining and irresistible.

“He ought to leave,” Caius snorted, as the sound of the heavy door closing behind Carlisle reached them all. “He is not content here.”

Aro put a single finger to his lips, but he knew Caius had fully intended Carlisle to hear his words. The brothers shared a language—Etruscan—that Carlisle did not speak; to use Italian was an open invitation for the blond to take heed.

Sure enough, when Carlisle appeared a moment later, his eyes were clouded with apprehension despite his rather wide smile.

“It was a fruitful outing in this awful weather?” Aro asked.

The smile softened, and Aro recognized a genuine expression of happiness on Carlisle’s face. “I find the weather far from awful,” Carlisle answered. “And yes, the excursion went well.” He fingered the cloth pouch he held in his hands.

Three sets of eyes shifted to it. It gave of a scent of earth, a reek of spice, which was no doubt transferring itself to the tiny grooves of Carlisle’s fingerprints even as they spoke. Caius glared at it, but Marcus merely looked thoughtful. Carlisle’s fingers shifted uncomfortably under the gaze of the three of them, and for a moment his eyes flickered toward Aro’s right hand. It was a silent question Aro recognized a request for confirmation that one was okay not to touch him, that Aro had no need of using his gift to hear the other’s thoughts. Carlisle never fought the request as did some others; even those in their own inner circle. Caius, for example, often accused Aro of mistrust when he was asked to reveal his mind. But Carlisle was steadfast, pure, even. His thoughts so matched his words and his actions that Aro had given up asking him for his palm decades before.

The spices and herbs were for medicinal purposes, he knew. He had laughed the first time the blond had told him of his ambitions to become a physician. Carlisle had studied the law but found it uninteresting; he’d studied music but found it not to engage him. No, this strange being who had so made himself at home with the brothers here insisted that he would one day control himself to be not only around humans, but to heal them–to stanch their blood instead of to drink it. Caius and Marcus thought this was absurd, and Aro had too—at first. But it had been decades, and Carlisle seemed to be making progress at least on his studies, if not on his practice. The thought was both rewarding and unnerving.

It was this unease that caused Aro to ask a question he’d not asked Carlisle in almost forty years as he nodded toward the door. Heidi was to return shortly with their quarry, an act which, while Carlisle tolerated, he looked down upon. Their blond guest would just as soon they all took up his lifestyle, but he was willing to concede them their way of feeding. But something in Caius’s questioning remarks, as well as the discomfort that Carlisle exhibited standing before them caused Aro to make a different move today.

“Heidi will return shortly,” he said, cocking his head toward the door. “Will you join us?”

The smile on the thin lips disappeared, to be replaced by a frown. “I believe it has been decades since you last issued that invitation, friend,” he said quietly. “My answer of course has not changed.”

This elicited a grunt from Caius and a concerned stare from Marcus. Aro ignored them both.

“Very well,” he answered, gesturing Carlisle out of the chamber with a smile. A moment later, the mingled scents of salt and some unknown herb reached them, no doubt as Carlisle experimented crushing them in his mortar. Predictably, Caius’s nose wrinkled.

“He is of no use to us,” he hissed in their ancient tongue. “The way he moves among them. He behaves more strangely by the day.”

Aro shook his head.  “We will watch him. I have just as much knowledge of his movement as I do of yours.”

Caius stared at Aro, and for a moment, it seemed he would have more to say. But they were interrupted by a scent that eclipsed anything coming from Carlisle’s quarters. The scent was heavenly, and accompanied by the soft, buzzing hum of dozens of hushed human voices. Both their attentions were diverted at once, listening for the footfalls and the sounds of an immortal sweeping through the heavy doors on the way to their chamber.

“Heidi returns,” Aro said quietly. “Come. We will talk more of the young one later.”

Caius grunted. “He should be dealt with,” he muttered, but his answer was halfhearted. He, too, was focused on the door. And so the two men fell as silent as their third brother, still slumped in his chair, staring out at the rain.

~||x||~

Human screams were mostly muffled by the thick stone walls of the vampire castle, but not quite fully enough, Carlisle thought. They reached his ears as an oddly-pitched sighing groan.

Usually, he arranged to be away during the feedings, but he’d wanted to take advantage of the rain and so hadn’t left the compound today. Plus, staying fed his other goal. At first, when he had stayed in the compound, he had stayed at the outer reaches of the castle. But with each successive feeding, he challenged himself to move closer and closer to the source. All that stood between him and the main chambers now was a wooden door and a hallway—easily torn down, easily traversed.

It was one thing to ignore the heady scent when it stayed safely within the body. It was another to ignore it when it flooded the floor. But it was crucial if he was to continue on the path he was hoping for, and he was managing, bit by bit.

As the keening sound reached him, he bowed his head over his work. It wasn’t prayer, not really. It had been nearly a century since he had last sent his fervent wishes toward Heaven. But it felt somehow right to at least commemorate these whose souls were scarified for the continued existence of these men who called themselves his brothers.

Beneath his fingers, a range of spices had been reduced to a fine powder as he thought and listened. When he’d first begun with the herbs, it had taken a few tries for him to keep the mortar in one piece as he pulverized the dried herbs with his fingertips. But he had learned, and now he could work with more ease.

The idea of studying medicine had occurred to Carlisle only since he’d been in Italy. France had been wonderful for art and music both, and in eighty years of sleepless nights, Carlisle had worked his way through the Greeks, the Romans, the entirety of the Christian canon, and the French masters. He’d studied civil law and common law, and even managed to travel eastward for a few years and spend time at Wittenberg. But it had been in Italy that he had seen the works of Da Vinci, the perfect proportion of the human form, and realized that here he could acquire a craft that was worthy of an eternal being.

If the purpose of his kind was to destroy human life, he would save it. A small measure, to be sure, but it was a tiny bit that he could do to absolve himself of his condition. Humans fell, always, to original sin, the state of imperfection, of a fall from grace. When he’d walked the earth as a human, his concern had been to right that state of godly affairs through prayer and study. As an immortal his gifts were more bountiful—and the necessity to make good use of them, in his opinion, was greater. He would not only keep from taking lives; he would prevent their loss by other means as well.

The herbs were a start. Humans were becoming less and less superstitious by the year, it seemed. Gone were the days of belief in touching a monarch’s hand, or accusations of witchcraft for the ills that befell a woman’s neighbor. Now it seemed people were concerned with cause and effect, with the ways some practices had effects on others. Lemon juice and fruit to treat scurvy, exposure to cow’s pox kept people from getting the human kind. What one ate or did seemed to affect one’s health, and the herbs were the way the future was moving. So Carlisle passed hours selecting and studying the combinations that had seemed to prove most useful. If a plant from the New World was supposed to assist with fever, and one that grew on his doorstep with the chill, then if he combined them…would they be weakened or strengthened? He had no way of knowing. Yet the herbalist, Martina, was happy to trade new herbs for his carefully prepared concoctions on the cloudy days when he could make it to the market in the piazza. She called him dottore, and this made him proud.

As the salt and herbs crushed under the pads of his fingers, Carlisle thought back to his earlier homecoming. “He is not content here,” Caius had said of him. Of the three brothers, Caius liked Carlisle least, and there had never been any question in Carlisle’s mind that as far as Caius was concerned, he was unwelcome.

Perhaps it was time for another trip. He had made excursions away from Italy, but he’d been based out of the castle for almost fifty years. His trips took him as far as the Far East, but he would go for a few years at a time and return, always relaying his travels and his ideas to Aro through the tips of his fingers.

It wasn’t that he minded Aro’s gift. Aro had often commented on exactly what Carlisle felt; that his thoughts very purely matched his actions and the other way around. He had nothing to hide. Yet he couldn’t help but feel that things were shifting, somehow. He frowned as he remembered Caius’s intent stare as he’d come back in from his shopping. In the way the high brows knitted themselves together beneath the flaxen hair Carlisle saw an expression of contempt.

And then Aro asking him if he wished to feed. His brow furrowed as he worked the herbs more vigorously. The question hadn’t been asked of him in years. That it had been asked today, following on Caius’s comment… His brow furrowing, Carlisle worked the herbs under his fingers with increased vigor.

The three brothers each treated him differently. Aro was admiring, almost adoring, but in the way one might adore a cherished pet. Caius had always been aloof at best, contemptuous at worst. Marcus, however, stood between them. He found Carlisle interesting, it seemed, and while he didn’t agree with Carlisle’s lifestyle, he seemed very content to let him be, something Carlisle appreciated. He gravitated toward Marcus when he was in the castle—although that was becoming less and less frequent of late. On almost every rainy day he could be found in the square amongst the humans, and increasingly, on the sunny days, he flung himself far into the mountains away from where any mortal eyes might question who he was.

If he admitted it, Caius had been perfectly right. The castle felt more claustrophobic by the hour. Carlisle couldn’t get away from this lifestyle he didn’t wish to lead, and he was reduced to this, hiding away from the rest when they fed, pretending to be unruffled by the suggestion that he kill for his own sustenance.

But if he were to leave, where would he go? The years in France had been lonely at best, and at worst, excruciating. Here at least there was community, others like him, even if they did not share his vision.

As though to reinforce this last, the keening sighs from down the hall became increasingly muffled, and the scent of blood grew stronger.  The mixture beneath his fingers reached its optimal consistency, yet, agitated by the sounds, he still pressed it finer and finer.

At last there was only one still screaming, a man, his voice high enough that Carlisle knew him to be a young man, perhaps as old as he himself was in body. The killing of young humans frustrated him much more than he let on to the other two, although Aro, of course, knew his true feelings. Humans had such short lives as it was; there was no need to shorten them unnecessarily by preying on the young.

Aro’s voice broke through the young man’s screams. “It is well,” he said quietly. “It will be over in a moment. Be still, Young One.”

The name brought him up short. Young One. The name Aro called Carlisle.

His ears tuning fully to the goings-on in the chamber, Carlisle heard the wet breathing as the man slobbered on himself with fear. He had seen Aro attack before, and could imagine his compatriot’s snakelike moves toward his prey, the final lunge toward the delicate neck, the sticky blood spilling down into the collar. But this time in his vision, it wasn’t a human Aro lunged for, but himself.

The final strangled cry rose and was silenced, and the scent of a new blood mingled with the others.

Beneath Carlisle’s fingers, the mortar smashed.

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Chapter Notes

§ 11 Responses to 3. The Young One"

  • foufymaus says:

    Wow. You are a remarkable story teller. I was immediately drawn in to the world of the brothers. Thanks You for the update, I adored it.

    • giselle says:

      Yay, I’m glad. I confess when I was writing this, I went, “Are people even going to like this huge stretch in Aro’s head?” There’s always that little bit of trepidation. So thank you. :)

  • annsteph says:

    This is like the greatest story ever told. Carlisle is in his element being able to go to the store and get the herbs and practice with them for their medicinal purposes. But he even knows that the brothers are not what they seem to be. His growing unease will be his motivation to travel onward and you portray it so well. Everything you do is so wonderful. I don’t know how far you are taking this story but no matter how far it is a thrilling ride to get to see his life before the Twililght years. You make his character so real that we can’t wait for more of his adventure to continue. thank you for posting and giving us such a great chapter.

    • Anonymous says:

      Loved it, as usual

    • giselle says:

      Thank you so much for this (even if I was slow in reply! Eep.) I love getting to craft this, even though it is easily turning out to be the hardest novel I’ve ever written.

      As far as the trajectory of this–there are three arcs, like “Da Capo”: 1667, 1789, and 1918. So we’ve now had “Chapter one” of all three stories, and now I get to dig into the meat of things, as it were.

  • Catt says:

    I must first admit to a slight bias–Carlisle is my favorite Twilight character by a large margin.

    But even allowing for that, this story is dazzling, and would draw anyone into Carlisle’s camp if they aren’t already there. I love how well the world of the Volturi has been crafted with minimal words; I can imagine the rain droplets on the glass now. If you’ll pardon the cliche, I would say I wished I were there to observe this story in person…if not for the fact that everyone is a vampire.

    I particularly liked how un-sinister the brothers were here, as I always imagined they would be back when they were complacent in their power. However, I also don’t think Aro would ever feel the use of his power on someone was a vile intrusion. A cheap move, perhaps, but always within his right, especially in his own house.

    I’m not sure what to make of the last bit. Carlisle has plenty of reason to be afraid of Aro, but I don’t think it’s fear that made him imagine being attacked himself. Then again, it’s easy to forget how much younger Carlisle is, especially with the way Caius stalks about, pretending he’s the one wearing the pants in the trio.

    Cheers,
    ~C

    • giselle says:

      Thanks, Catt! It’s a delight to see you here and welcome you to my site. (opens drawer, looks at stapler.)

      I agree with you completely on Aro’s attitude toward his gift–I’ll have to revisit that section. I’m pretty sure I probably didn’t word it quite the way I meant to. As for the last bit, there’s a lot still to come on this. I would agree that Carlisle doesn’t fear Aro, not in so many words. But there are a lot of dynamics shifting, and he’s starting to get a sense for that.

  • pace is the trick says:

    What a brilliant chapter! (Though I was a tad disappointed that you skipped Carlisle’s changing, which I think would tell us a great deal about him.)

    This is perfect: “At this, Caius snorted, Marcus’s eyes grew wider, and Aro felt a smile creep across his face.” That is exactly how I imagine the Volturi would have reacted to Carlisle.

    I very much like your Volturi. I wish I had you for our Volturi comm…

    And I agree with you that Aro and Carlisle had a mutual respect and even liking for one another in those early years.

    Education: I actually think many of those universities were funded by Aro. As a patron of the arts, he would have included the intellectual arts (such as philosophy) and the medical arts as well.

    “If a plant from the New World was supposed to assist with fever, and one that grew on his doorstep with the chill, then if he combined them…would they be weakened or strengthened?” THIS is Carlisle!

    My only question for this chapter is this:

    “their single law”

    How can any society — even aquatic life in its simplest form — possibly exist with just a single law? Whales are known to transmit more information pertaining to social structure in a single “message” than is encoded in the entirety of the Hebrew Bible, to say nothing of the tremendous complexity that dictates the lives of earth-bound mammals.

    The bottom line is: it’s impossible. I suspect the Volturi probably have the most complex law ever known. (More advanced forms of life have more laws precisely because they know and do more.)

    Two thumbs up for this one!

  • jenny says:

    This leaves me wanting to know more about how Carlisle studied the efficaciousness of his herbal concoctions. It would have nade sense for him to go to Arab lands to study medicine, but I can see how his devout Christianity may have held him back from a prolonged sojourn to the Muslim regions. Also, Caius needs to gtf overhimself.

  • soonermom says:

    I just wanted to leave you a note and let you know that I’m here, reading and very much enjoying this story.

    I love how you had Carlisle use his time in Volterra as a way to condition himself against the scent of human blood here. It’s not really something that’s addressed in the books and it makes perfect sense to me that he would do this. Thanks for sharing!

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