Garrett came first - a tall, rangy vampire with eager ruby eyes and long sandy hair he kept tied back with a leather thong - and it was apparent immediately that he was an adventurer. I imagined that we could have presented him with any challenge and he would have accepted, just to test himself. He fell in quickly with the Denali sisters, asking endless questions about their unusual lifestyle. I wondered if vegetarianism was another challenge he would try, just to see if he could do it.
Mary and Randall also came - friends already, though they did not travel together. They listened to Renesmee's story and stayed to witness like the others. Like the Denalis, they considered what they would do if the Volturi did not pause for explanations. All three of the nomads toyed with the idea of standing with us.
Of course, Jacob got more surly with each new addition. He kept his distance when he could, and when he couldn't he grumbled to Renesmee that someone was going to have to provide an index if anyone expected him to keep all the new bloodsuckers1names straight.
Carlisle and Esme returned a week after they had gone, Emmett and Rosalie just a few days later, and all of us felt better when they were home. Carlisle brought one more friend home with him, though friend might have been the wrong term. Alistair was a misanthropic English vampire who counted Carlisle as his closest acquaintance, though he could hardly stand a visit more than once a century. Alistair very much preferred to wander alone, and Carlisle had called in a lot of favors to get him here. He shunned all company, and it was clear he didn't have any admirers in the gathered covens.
The brooding dark-haired vampire took Carlisle at his word about Renesmee's origins, refusing, like Amun, to touch her. Edward told Carlisle, Esme, and me that Alistair was afraid to be here, but more afraid of not knowing the outcome. He was deeply suspicious of all authority, and therefore naturally suspicious of the Volturi. What was happening now seemed to confirm all his fears.
"Of course, now they'll know i was here," we heard him grumble to himself in the attic - his preferred spot to sulk. "No way to keep it from Aro at this point. Centuries on the run, that's what this will mean. Everyone Carlisle's talked to in the last decade will be on their list. I can't believe I got myself sucked into this mess. What a fine way to treat your friends."
But if he was right about having to run from the Volturi, at least he had more hope of doing that than the rest of us. Alistair was a tracker, though not nearly as precise and efficient as Demetri. Alistair just felt an elusive pull toward whatever he was seeking. But that pull would be enough to tell him which direction to run - the opposite direction from Demetri.
And then another pair of unexpected friends arrived - unexpected, because neither Carlisle nor Rosalie had been able to contact the Amazons.
"Carlisle," the taller of the two very tall feline women greeted him when they arrived. Both of them seemed as if they'd been stretched - long arms and legs, long fingers, long black braids, and long faces with long noses. They wore nothing but animal skins - hide vests and tight-fitting pants that laced on the sides with leather ties. It wasn't just their eccentric clothes that made them seem wild but everything about them, from their restless crimson eyes to their sudden, darting movements. I'd never met any vampires less civilized.
But Alice had sent them, and that was interesting news, to put it mildly. Why was Alice in South America? Just because she'd seen that no one else would be able to get in touch with the Amazons?
"Zafrina and Senna! But Where's Kachiri?" Carlisle asked. Tve never seen you three apart."
"Alice told us we needed to separate," Zafrina answered in the rough, deep voice that matched her wild appearance. "It's uncomfortable to be away from each other, but Alice assured us that you needed us here, while she very much needed Kachiri somewhere else. That's all she would tell us, except that there was a great hurry... ?" Zafrina's statement trailed off into a question, and - with the tremor of nerves that never went away no matter how often I did this - I brought Renesmee out to meet them.
Despite their fierce appearance, they listened very calmly to our story, and then allowed Renesmee to prove the point. They were every bit as taken with Renesmee as any of the other vampires, but I couldn't help worrying as I watched their swift, jerky movements so close beside her. Senna was always near Zafrina, never speaking, but it wasn't the same as Amun and Kebi. Kebi's manner seemed obedient; Senna and Zafrina were more like two limbs of one organism - Zafrina just happened to be the mouthpiece.
The news about Alice was oddly comforting. Clearly, she was on some obscure mission of her own as she avoided whatever Aro had planned for her.
Edward was thrilled to have the Amazons with us, because Zafrina was enormously talented; her gift could make a very dangerous offensive weapon. Not that Edward was asking for Zafrina to side with us in the battle, but if the Volturi did not pause when they saw our witnesses, perhaps they would pause for a different kind of scene.
"It's a very straightforward illusion," Edward explained when it turned out that I couldn't see anything, as usual. Zafrina was intrigued and amused by my immunity - something she'd never encountered before - and she hovered restlessly while Edward described what I was missing. Edward's eyes unfocused slightly as he continued. "She can make most people see whatever she wants them to see - see that, and nothing else. For example, right now I would appear to be alone in the middle of a rain forest. It's so clear I might possibly believe it, except for the fact that I can still feel you in my arms."
Zafrina's lips twitched into her hard version of a smile. A second later, Edward's eyes focused again, and he grinned back.
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