31. TALENTED

"What is the werewolves' part in this?" Tanya asked then, eyeing Jacob.

Jacob spoke before Edward could answer. "If the Volturi won't stop to listen about Nessie, I mean Renesmee," he corrected himself, remembering that Tanya would not understand his stupid nickname, "we will stop them."

"Very brave, child, but that would be impossible for more experienced fighters than you are."

"You don't know what we can do."

Tanya shrugged. "It is your own life, certainly, to spend as you choose."

Jacob's eyes flickered to Renesmee - still in Carmen's arms with Kate hovering over them - and it was easy to read the longing in them.

"She is special, that little one," Tanya mused. "Hard to resist."

"A very talented family," Eleazar murmured as he paced. His tempo was increasing; he flashed from the door to Carmen and back again every second. "A mind reader for a father, a shield for a mother, and then whatever magic this extraordinary child has bewitched us with. I wonder if there is a name for what she does, or if it is the norm for a vampire hybrid. As if such a thing could ever be considered normal! A vampire hybrid, indeed!"

"Excuse me," Edward said in a stunned voice. He reached out and caught Eleazar's shoulder as he was about to turn again for the door. "What did you just call my wife?"

Eleazar looked at Edward curiously, his manic pacing forgotten for the moment. "A shield, I think. She's blocking me now, so I can't be sure."

I stared at Eleazar, my brows furrowing in confusion. Shield? What did he mean about my blocking him? I was standing right here beside him, not defensive in any way.

"A shield?" Edward repeated, bewildered.

"Come now, Edward! If I can't get a read on her, I doubt you can, either. Can you hear her thoughts right now?"

Eleazar asked.

"No," Edward murmured. "But I've never been able to do that. Even when she was human."

"Never?" Eleazar blinked. "Interesting. That would indicate a rather powerful latent talent, if it was manifesting so clearly even before the transformation. I can't feel a way through her shield to get a sense of it at all. Yet she must be raw still - she's only a few months old." The look he gave Edward now was almost exasperated. "And apparently completely unaware of what she's doing. Totally unconscious. Ironic. Aro sent me all over the world searching for such anomalies, and you simply stumble across it by accident and don't even realize what you have." Eleazar shook his head in disbelief.

I frowned. "What are you talking about? How can I be a shield? What does that even mean?" All I could picture in my head was a ridiculous medieval suit of armor.

Eleazar leaned his head to one side as he examined me. "I suppose we were overly formal about it in the guard. In truth, categorizing talents is a subjective, haphazard business; every talent is unique, never exactly the same thing twice. But you, Bella, are fairly easy to classify. Talents that are purely defensive, that protect some aspect of the bearer, are always called shields. Have you ever tested your abilities? Blocked anyone besides me and your mate?"

It took me few seconds, despite how quickly my new brain worked, to organize my answer.

"It only works with certain things," I told him. "My head is sort of... private. But it doesn't stop Jasper from being able to mess with my mood or Alice from seeing my future."

"Purely a mental defense." Eleazar nodded to himself. "Limited, but strong."

"Aro couldn't hear her," Edward interjected. "Though she was human when they met."

Eleazar's eyes widened.

"Jane tried to hurt me, but she couldn't," I said. "Edward thinks Demetri can't find me, and that Alec can't bother me, either. Is that good?"

Eleazar, still gaping, nodded. "Quite."

"A shield!" Edward said, deep satisfaction saturating his tone. "I never thought of it that way. The only one I've ever met before was Renata, and what she did was so different."

Eleazar had recovered slightly. "Yes, no talent ever manifests in precisely the same way, because no one ever thinks in exactly the same way."

"Who's Renata? What does she do?" I asked. Renesmee was interested, too, leaning away from Carmen so that she could see around Kate.

"Renata is Aro's personal bodyguard," Eleazar told me. "A very practical kind of shield, and a very strong one."

I vaguely remembered a small crowd of vampires hovering close to Aro in his macabre tower, some male, some female. I couldn't remember the women's faces in the uncomfortable, terrifying memory. One must have been Renata.

"I wonder...," Eleazar mused. "You see, Renata is a powerful shield against a physical attack. If someone approaches her - or Aro, as she is always close beside him in a hostile situation - they find themselves... diverted.

There's a force around her that repels, though it's almost unnoticeable. You simply find yourself going a different direction than you planned, with a confused memory as to why you wanted to go that other way in the first place. She can project her shield several meters out from herself. She also protects Caius and Marcus, too, when they have a need, but Aro is her priority.

"What she does isn't actually physical, though. Like the vast majority of our gifts, it takes place inside the mind. If she tried to keep you back, I wonder who would win?" He shook his head. "I've never heard of Aro's or Jane's gifts being thwarted."

"Momma, you're special," Renesmee told me without any surprise, like she was commenting on the color of my clothes.

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