I did finish early from work today but then spent some time organising my Halloween costume and starting a potential knitting project (potential because I'm still in that early stage of starting where I'm not sure whether I'm actually going to continue with it).
But I'm here now. And ready for Chapter 21 of New Moon, a chapter titled Verdict.
Bella gets to meet Aro who is intrigued by her immunity to vampire talents. It's up to him to decide what happens to Bella and Edward next. His decision, and the reason for it, is a little surprising.
Thoughts as I read:
I'm guessing the verdict in this chapter is going to be whether or not Bella is allowed to live knowing that vampires exist and whether the Cullens will be allowed to continue being undead having introduced Bella to their world.
We rejoin Edward, Bella and Alice in the creepy corridor. Bella thinks this isn't as bad as she was expecting but Edward obviously disagrees with her on this count. They end up in an elevator where they all stare at each other and we get a good look at Demetri and Felix. They have red eyes which is, y'know, creepy.
When they get out of the elevator Bella is reminded of stepping into a funeral home. That's not really a good sign, is it?
There's someone else here as well. It's a woman who is obviously acquainted with Jane and who is revealed to be called Gianna. And seconds later we meet a the male version of Jane, named Alec. He makes some joke about sending Jane out for 'one' and she came back with 'one and a half'. Alec doesn't really seem to see Bella as an actual person, referring to her as 'this' as well as a half.
Once again, everyone wants Bella. Felix tries to call dibs on her which Edward, unsurprisingly, doesn't take too kindly to. Alice has to silently talk him down until they're sent along another corridor. I think this chapter could have been called Corridor because that seems to be most of what's happening in this one.
This corridor leads onto another one which is back in the sewers. And then they finally reach their destination. A big room with throne-like chairs in it. Bella spots a depression in the centre of the room which seems to be some sort of drain. I'm guessing that's so that the blood from the people who they tear apart is easily cleaned up.
The room was not empty. A handful of people were convened in seemingly relaxed conversation. The murmur of low, smooth voices was a gentle hum in the air. As I watched, a pair of pale women in summer dresses paused in a patch of light, and, like prisms, their skin threw the light in rainbow sparkles against the sienna walls.
Rainbow sparkles? Rainbow sparkles?! Vampires don't make rainbow sparkles.
And we meet yet another new character. This one is wearing robes and what initially seems to be a hood but is actually his hair. He's the same as all the other vampires, attractive, pale, sparkly, except his eyes are slightly cloudy.
It's rather unexpected when he greets Alice and Bella. This, it turns out, is Aro. He's the one Edward was petitioning to let him off himself. The first thing Aro does is point out it's just as well he didn't grant Edward his wish the previous day. Edward has to reluctantly agree with the vampire.
Aro seems nice enough but there's a distinct chill in the air as he asks Alice how this happened. See, this shows Aro knows stuff. And he's probably not really as happy to see Bella as he makes out. I wonder if he's going to offer to turn her into one of them or something.
Aro, we learn, is able to read thoughts the way Edward does. Well, not exactly the same way as Edward does. Aro has to make physical contact to do it, but when he does he hears every thought you've ever had. That could be... embarrassing.
And now two more vampires have joined the party. These two look very much like Aro and are revealed to be Marcus and Caius. I really hope no one else shows up. I'm already struggling to remember who all these nearly identical sparkly people are.
Marcus heads over and touches Aro, filling him in on what's going on because his talent is seeing relationships. I'm intrigued by just what this means. Does he actually see them or does he hear things? Is it visions or some sort of aura around people? I want to know more about this and I bet it's never even answered.
Aro is yet another vampire who can't understand how Edward controls himself. Well, Bella's in a room surrounded by vampires and they all seem to be controlling themselves right now so I'm guessing its something like that.
We have a bit of chat about Carlisle and then move back to how Edward manages to stay so restrained. He does pretty well at remaining calm even as Aro suggests that he see whether Bella is immune to his own mental probing as well. Bella goes for it and Aro takes her hand.
Bella's immune to Aro as well, which is probably just as well because I've spent quite a while reading Bella's innermost thoughts in these books and I can't imagine having to hear all of the thoughts she's ever had as well. Aro'd probably walk out into the crowd of people himself then and there!
Aro's intrigued by Edward's little anomaly and suggests they investigate the others' talents on her, inviting Jane to have a go. We don't know what Jane's talent is but Edward's not keen on that idea. He actually launches himself at Jane when she makes a move towards Bella and that's when we learn Jane's talent. She can hurt people without touching them. I can see how that might be handy.
When she turns her attention to Bella absolutely nothing happens. So she's immune to Jane as well. And this book is just making me want to read the Sookie Stackhouse stories which aren't exactly classics, but they're short and fun and there's a bit of sex in them to keep things interesting.
With all that experimenting out of the way, Aro asks Edward if he's willing to join them. Edward gives his best Snape impression when he replies "I'd... rather... not."
Then it's Alice's turn for an invite, and then Bella's. Just as well Aro couldn't read Bella's thoughts because he probably would've turned her in an instant.
Actually, he's thinking about turning her right now. It would appear that Aro has been seeking out 'talent' to turn them, that's why Jane and Alec are so young. Bella would obviously have some sort of gift because she's vampire-resistant. Or she would be utterly useless, would have no special talents and would just be able to fall over things really quickly.
Despite asking for this from both Edward and Alice, when Aro offers, Bella turns him down. Aro's visibly disappointed.
Caius wants blood now because Bella knows too much. This was what I was expecting. Edward points out that some people in Volterra know about the vampires but Caius is quick to admit that they only know about things for as long as it's necessary for them to be in the know. Then they become lunch. So not a job with long term prospects then.
The sticking point seems to be whether or not Edward intends to eventually give Bella immortality. If he plans to make her one of them at some point in the future, then it makes sense for her to know about their secrets and she should be free to go. Presumably there will be some caveat that they must bring her back to demonstrate her super duper awesome talents to Aro when that happens.
If he doesn't plan to change her, Edward will be disposed of (and Bella too I would guess, though I don't think anyone actually says that), and Aro will know if he doesn't mean it because Aro knows EVERYTHING.
In light of this, Alice steps forward and shares her talent with Aro. I'm guessing this involves Victoria getting hold of Bella and doing something to her. And as Alice's talent is seeing things that will happen, Aro is apparently perfectly happy to accept this as a promise of things to come. Aro does end the conversation with a rather ominous "Besides, I'm so terribly curious to see how Bella turns out!" which suggests sooner or later she's going to become a vampire herself.
And just like that they're free to go, with a warning to keep up their end of the bargain as Aro and his gang will be checking up on them.
Edward's given a large cloak to save him from revealing himself once they go topside and back into the crowds, despite Edward saying that they'll hang out until it gets a little darker. Edward and Alice hustle Bella out but not before a large tour group of people come down. We don't get to see what happens next but it's obviously not pretty.
Edward set a pace that had me running to keep up. But we still could get through the ornate door at the end of the hallway before the screaming started.