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Chapter Four - This Seems Oddly Suspicious
I could not help but follow Eleazar, Carmen and Demetri into the throne room. I (along with the rest of the guard) was extremely intrigued by the possible reason why Aro wanted Eleazar's assistance so desperately. After all, we had managed to remain powerful when Eleazar left the Volturi. There were other ways to find out what ability a vampire harbored without Eleazar's gift; ways which Aro demonstrated frequently. What could Aro possibly want that he did not already have?
Aro stood and smiled widely, his fingers pressed together, gleefully greeting Carmen and Eleazar. "Ah! Carmen, Eleazar! My brothers and I are so delighted to see you both under much calmer circumstances."
I assumed that he was referring to our "Renesmee issue" with the Cullens and their witnesses - witnesses which included Carmen, Eleazar and the rest of their family - four years ago.
Eleazar nodded, his face blank and emotionless. "It is a pleasure to see you as well, Aro." Carmen smiled and nodded in agreement as my master stepped down to the couple's level.
Although it had been nearly two centuries since Eleazar left the Volturi, due to Carmen's (and his own) displeasure with his involvement, I was still not used to hearing Eleazar call Aro by his actual name instead of "master".
"Now, Eleazar, may I see these thoughts which led to your decision of not aiding us with the Romanians and Egyptians' newborn army?" Aro asked politely, holding out his hand. "I do not judge you for refusing but I would like to contradict them."
Eleazar sighed, smiled with slight discomfort, and gave Aro his hand. My master's eyes closed as he absorbed Eleazar's every thought. This obtaining of information took just about a minute, and Eleazar could not help but glance from Carmen to Aro and back again until Aro opened his eyes and let go of his hand.
"I see…" Aro murmured knowingly. His milky, bloodred eyes switched to Carmen's optimistic gaze and a smile played at the corners of his lips. "Carmen, may I see your thoughts as well?"
Carmen nodded without hesitation and offered him her hand.
My eyes found themselves scanning the entire room, and Demetri's were doing the same. Caius was watching the scene intently, and Marcus' face had brightened up ever since Carmen and Eleazar entered the room. I observed that his demeanor would always become less apathetic whenever a couple would come into his presence. Perhaps couples, especially couples with romantic ties as strong as Eleazar's and Carmen's, reminded him of his own lost love and brought many happy memories back into his focus.
Aro's eyes opened a minute later and he addressed both Carmen and Eleazar at the same time. "I see why you both are so against assisting the Volturi. Eleazar, you feel that you are no longer required to service me and that you should not be obliged to. Carmen, you are strongly against Eleazar being involved in the destruction of your friends and strongly against having Eleazar thrust into another dangerous situation." Aro grinned. "Well, I have a compromise that will accord both of your desires," he stated.
Eleazar and Carmen exchanged a quick glance and reached for each other's hands, lacing their fingers together tightly.
"What is this compromise?" Eleazar asked, genuinely curious.
"Ah, well," Aro said slowly. "You shall not be required to participate in or even attend the battle if you choose not to. Also, we will spare your friends - Benjamin and Tia - as you and Carmen both feel that they do not approve of overthrowing the Volturi. I trust both of your judgments."
Caius scoffed. "How can you trust their judgments, brother? They are involved in the same diet as Carlisle. It must warp their opinions."
Carmen's eyes widened at this accusation and Eleazar growled, speaking through his teeth, his eyes directed at Caius. "That is untrue. The fact that we care for the lives of others makes no difference. Our sense of judgment is the same as always."
Carmen gently squeezed Eleazar's hand and breathed into his ear, "Cálmate, mi amor." Eleazar obeyed, closing his eyes and exhaling quietly.
Caius rolled his eyes and Aro turned to him, holding up his right hand. "Peace, brother."
Aro smiled, turning back to Eleazar, whose expression had returned to calm and collected. Eleazar said, "Hm… that does seem like a fair compromise. But I am interested in why you desire my assistance so desperately. You have obviously managed to remain powerful all these years without my gift."
"That is exactly what I was wondering…" I muttered under my breath. I knew that everyone in the room heard me, but no one took particular notice.
"Well, Eleazar," Aro reached over and patted his shoulder. "This is the most abundant group of newborns that we have ever dealt with. Our usual methods for identifying abilities would take much too long for this large of a group. It is much more simple to have someone who is able to identify gifts as a sixth sense with us."
"But that is only if I should decide to attend the battle with the guard," Eleazar stated plainly. "What if I decide not to? Then how will I be of use?"
"We are searching for gifted recruits for the guard. If we do not, then we shall be outnumbered. I was hoping to send you out looking for especially gifted vampires who are willing to aid us."
"How long do we have until we attack this army, Aro?" Eleazar asked.
"Three weeks," Aro replied. "You will be sent abroad for the majority of that time, ensuring the best possible chance of you finding gifted vampires for us. You will return two days before we attack so, if you choose to battle, you can be adequately caught up on our strategies - along with the new vampires you bring, if any."
Eleazar nodded and Carmen responded to Aro's request.
"Shall I be allowed to come along with my husband during his search?" Carmen asked.
Aro smiled. "Yes, my dear, but you may not come along for the battle. I am certain that Eleazar agrees when I say that we ought not put you, one with very much strength but little fighting experience, in danger."
Carmen sighed and nodded.
Aro glanced at me and snapped his fingers. "Felix, please escort Carmen and Eleazar to the guest quarters, where they shall be staying for the time being."
I nodded and quickly approached Eleazar and Carmen. "Yes, master."
As we approached the door, I nudged Eleazar and muttered, "This will be just like old times, eh?"
Eleazar laughed (with slight unease) in response, and Carmen smirked.