Disclaimer: I own only the obvious, the rest belongs to JK Rowling.

Authors Note: Well, I finally got off my lazy bum, and typed this up. This is all inspired by Anne Rice's 'Vampire Chronicles', though none of her characters are going to pop up. This is Athan's story the way he told it to Harry when he visited the Boy Who Lived in the summer holidays (see Green Flame Torch chapter 7), but it can be read as a standalone. Hope you enjoy it, and please review.

-Chapter One-



Athan grinned at the young man sitting on the bed.

Harry Potter was a curious person. The wild black hair testified of the young mortals stubbornness and hate of being ordered around by others. The piercing, unnaturally green eyes spoke of the boys will to live, twinkling with an inner fire that refused to be tamed. The makings of a true immortal.

He could hardly call someone like this for a boy. Harry had gone through more pain in his life than most of the vampires; from the first time he took a breath in this world 'til now, the young man had been fighting the Dark forces.

Harry was currently laughing his head off. Personally Athan had no idea what was so funny. It wasn't his fault that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was the way it was. He had just leaned discreetly against it once. It wasn't his fault that those builders hadn't done what they were paid for. Alright, he did eat a few of the workers, but that still didn't make it his fault... did it? Besides, the tower had already begun to lean over when the third floor had been added in 1274; he just helped it a bit.

"Gods above Athan!" Harry exclaimed when he had calmed down enough. "If that was your doing, I wonder what else you might have 'helped along'."

The immortal made a quick decision. "Since you seem so interested, why don't I tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"My life story; although it will be somewhat shortened. If I were to tell you absolutely everything that has happened to me over the years, it would take another 8000 years before I was finished."

Harry seemed to think over it for a moment. "Alright, it cannot hurt." The young mortal settled in, and turned to the vampire. "Just begin whenever you want."

Athan smiled and began to once again float aimlessly in midair. He closed his eyes, trying to recall the first few years of his life; both as a mortal human and as a vampire.

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I was 25 years when I was turned, but I guess it'll be best to start from the very beginning.

As everyone else I was born by a woman. A healthy young baby looking like a squashed, pink tomato with a tuft of black hair at the middle of my head. The Shaman of our tribe told my parents that I was meant for greatness and that I would have an inhumanly long life. So they named me Athan, witch meant - and still means - immortal.

Our tribe had a settlement in a valley surrounded by tall mountains. With only a few usable passes, not many foreign tribes found their way to our little Eden. Those who did were often lone hunters or outcasts. Some of them stayed, others just passed through. But every time one came - no matter what the reason was - the tribe would always put up a magnificent feast.

I know you're not going to believe this, but as a child I always stayed out of trouble. Avoided fights if I could; preferred listening to our old storyteller than to go hunting with the grown men. I hated weapons and killing, and I was considered weak and naïve; something I probably was at the time.

Most of the tribe ignored me. The older men because I wouldn't hunt, the teenage boys because I didn't want to fight with them, the girls because I couldn't provide them with what they needed, and the older women just ignored me for no reason. My mother and father often told me that it was alright to be different, but I knew they were worried about me. I heard them late at night wondering what would become of me later in life. How would I survive? Why was I different? Would anyone ever want to mate with me? If so, then who would be the ideal wife? and so on.

Now, a few years earlier an old man had found his way to our valley. When he came to us he was skin and bones, and many of us wondered how he had managed to survive the treacherous passes. He had been cast out of his tribe, accused of being a corrupted and evil spirit/demon, I never really managed to clear that up. Our chief - always the good-doer - allowed him to stay and gave him food. 'Couldn't be that bad,' he said. 'We must have an open mind, and help when we can.' We soon found out exactly why the old man had been thrown out of his tribe.

He walked around the settlement all day and talked constantly into thin air. Now and then he would talk to a flower or a stone, other times to the water in the brook that ran by. At first people were wary, avoiding him as much as possible. But after some time we got used to it, and didn't pay it much mind. It became normal.

I didn't know what to think of the old man, and ignored him like the rest of the tribe. However, the man didn't ignore me. No matter what I was doing or where I was going, he would constantly follow. If I went to the brook to fish, he would suddenly pop up and start talking to the water. If I was gathering eatable plants in the grove not too far from our settlement, he would follow me and start talking to the trees and plants. After a while it became very annoying.

Once I cornered him and asked why he was following me around. He replied, "Because you, my dear boy, are cut out for something great - even if you cannot see it now. And besides, the spirits have told me to stick by you."

"The spirits?" I asked. I didn't know what to think or do. So far I had only met one person who could talk to the spirits, our Shaman; and the old badger wasn't talking much to anyone these days, not even his apprentice.

"They are restless, my boy;" he said. "They have told me that something is to come, something terrible."

"If it was so, then the Shaman would have warned our warriors so that they could have prepared." I sneered.

"This is not something that can be easily fought." The Old Man suddenly grinned. "Ask that old idiot about the Dark Gods. Go, ask him."

I walked away from the Old Man, sneering in disgust. But the same evening when I saw the Shaman looking worriedly at the sky, I walked over to him and asked him about the Dark Gods. The Shaman looked at me in surprise; his wise, old eyes wide, and hands shaking. Then he got a calculating look in his eyes, and after a while mentioned for me to follow him to his hut.

"First of all my child," he began when we were seated, "you must understand that there is more between heaven and earth than we mortals will ever know; there are good Gods and bad Gods, death and life, everything is perfectly balanced." I nodded as if I understood, though I had no idea what he was talking about; not then anyway. "If the Gods decide it is our time to die, then they kill us for a meaning. Dark Gods, Athan, are doomed people. When they were mortal humans they did horrible crimes, and must now pay for it by walking around for all eternity."

"Is that all?" I asked. That didn't sound so bad. I would gladly have lived forever if it meant that I could see what would happen next with the humans.

"No, it is not. They are pale as the snow on the mountaintops; their eyes unnaturally piercing and with an demonic twinkle in them. They have inhuman strength, and can easily rip a fully grown tree out of the ground. Their speed can only be matched by the huge, wolf-like, black cats that walk around in the grove; and instead of nails they have claws. They can hear and see things from incredible length."

"That doesn't sound too bad either." I commented.

"Don't interrupt me young fool." The Shaman was angry for some reason or other. "The Dark Gods cannot walk in the sunlight. If they tried they would burn up like a log in the bonfire. And they feed on blood."

"On blood?!" There had to be a downside to it, didn't it.

"Yes, Athan, on blood. They have unnaturally sharp teeth. Two of them can extend into fangs. They bite your neck and suck the blood out of you like a leach. The good Gods above have all condemned them." The Shaman glared at me. "Now, I command you to tell me where you heard about the Dark Gods."

Some quick thinking solved that problem. "You always tell stories around the bonfire." I said innocently. "This just caught my attention." I stood up. "Thank you for your time great Shaman; I will not pester you again." I left before anything else could be said.

Over the next few days I pondered what I had heard.

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About a week later the first signs that something was wrong appeared. A child would disappear one day, the next one of the old and weak would be gone in the morning. The tribe blamed it on the leyries, and began to hunt the wolf-like cats. The Shaman didn't say a thing about what he knew, he just kept to himself and snapped at everyone and everything that came within a three-foot radius of him. The Old Man was becoming increasingly worried. He would pace up and down the camp, sometimes suddenly stopping up, shaking his head then continue to pace. The whole tribe was edgy and walking on high-strung nerves.

I was observing everything quietly from the shadows. Some of the families left the tribe, never to return. One by one the hunters and warriors disappeared and were found dead a few days later. We never saw any traces of the enemy - whoever or whatever they were - near the camp, but a couple that had been out late one night swore that they saw something human-like walking out of the grove and onto the plains. At these news the Shaman became even more tight-lipped, and the Old Man more nervous.

Then it happened.

The Old Man had finally cracked. He began to walk around the camp, telling people about the Dark Gods and that they had to flee. All the good this did was to create even more panic among the people. The Shaman tried to get the Chief to cast the Old Man out, but our Chief was always a softhearted man and the Old Man stayed.

One late night I was woken by angry screaming and lots of noise. I quickly got dressed and exited my hut.

The people were gathered in our little 'square'. The Old Man was tied on hands and feet, forced to kneel on the hard ground. The Shaman had finally managed to get the people to listen to him; the Chief could only stand by and watch as the Shaman urged them to kill the Old Man.

I was about to interfere - though I doubt it would've done much good - when suddenly the Shaman fell, something large and dark attached to his back. In the firelight I got a glimpse of snow-white skin and demonic twinkling eyes.

There was a silence for a few minutes as the creature fed off the Shaman, then someone screamed and it marked the beginning of chaos.

People were running here and there, children crying and being tramped on, some mothers trying to protect their young; no one cared about anything anymore, they had panicked. The tribe scattered and became an easy meal for the creatures hunting.

I could hear the screams as one by one they fell, the prayers to Gods to let them live and the thumping of dozens of feet trying to get away. The Dark Gods - it had to be them! - were silent as the grave, only now and then uttering a howl of triumph.

The next thing I knew I was inside a tent with my chest aching horribly. It was as though someone had hit me hard, and I was sure that I had at least two broken ribs. The door to the tent moved and in came a young man. He had the same deathly pale skin like the other Dark Gods, and his eyes sparkled even in the darkness. I backed up against the wall of the hut.

The young man chuckled. "So afraid and yet so brave, so weak and yet so strong. You are a mysterious one, my dear Athan." I blinked in confusion. How in the name of the Gods could this monster know my name? "I know more about you than you think, mortal." The young man stepped towards me. "And I also know that you want to become one of us; to hunt with us, to live forever as one of us."

I was shaking by the end of his speech. How could he know about that? True, I wanted to see what it was like to be like them; and I admit, I wanted to live forever. I was so confused that I hadn't noticed the young man sitting down opposite me as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

"I can give it to you," his quiet voice brought me back. "I can make you one of us, but I will not do it unless you tell me to." He looked at me, his words hanging in the air between us.

I didn't need to think over the offer, I had done enough of that in the past days. "Do it." I said, my voice steady and even. "Make me one of you."

He smiled, something akin to pride in his eyes.

"I will, but first there are things you must know. Ah, I see that fool Shaman of yours have already told you the basics of being an Immortal - that's what we call ourselves. We are neither Gods nor demons, good nor evil. There is no good and evil, it depends how you use your powers. We are just creatures trying to survive in the world." He took a deep breath. "You know about the sun and how we feed. I must add one more thing to that though; most of us sleep during the day - underground or wherever it is dark and no sun can penetrate - but you don't need to. Just find a dark place with no sun - like this hut - and you'll stay alive. As for the feeding. When you feed, you must stop before the heart of the victim stops to beat, or it'll drag you with it into death."

I nodded, carefully filing the information away. Neither of us noticed that the noises from outside were getting lower and lower.

"An Immortals life isn't exactly danger-free." The man said gravely. "Besides the Sun and the Pull of Death, you have groups of humans scattered around the world that hunt and slay us. These groups regularly keep in contact, and meet once a year. They call themselves the Slayers - don't worry, you'll know when you meet one - and I advice you to stay away from them." He took a deep breath. "Then there is Them."

"Who are they?" I asked.

"No one knows who or even what they are. What we do know however, is that they more or less watch over us Immortals. There are two kinds of Them. One kind help us, and the other kind tries to make us use our powers for Dark things. Oh yes, mortal, even we can succumb to the temptation of the Dark. They will offer you powers beyond your belief; if that doesn't work, then they will offer you the ability to walk in the sun again. After a while always being alone and walking around in the night begins to go to your head. You get depressed, lonely, lose your will to survive and so on; and all you want is to see the sun again. Don't take anything they offer you. And for heavens sake, Athan, never seek them out. They will find you when the time's right."

I nodded like a good boy, but my curiosity was already working overtime. Who were Them? What did they look like? Why did one kind watch over Immortals, and the other wanting to lure them to the Dark? What did they know? What powers did they have? Were they Gods? And about these Slayers. Why hadn't we heard about them? How good fighters were they? Why did they do what they did? How did you become a member? And why in heavens name did this Immortal tell me all of this? Why was he willing to make me into one of them? Did he expect something in return? This was all so confusing, yet it was clear as crystal.

"Why I wanted to turn you into one of us, and why I'm telling you this?" the young man smiled. "To answer the first one: You have the makings of a true Immortal. The curiosity, the will, the strength, the power; and not to mention that your name means 'immortal'. As for the other, I didn't want anything to happen to you. I've taken a liking to you mortal; and when you become an Immortal, I'll like you even more. It's always like that. Maker and Fledgling will always feel strongly for each other, no matter if they hated each other in their mortal lives."

"What kind of powers do you have, and what can I expect?" I asked nodding once again.

"Great Gods above, I nearly forgot about that! You already know about the strength and the speed, sight and hearing. Now, as a Fledgling you will be able to hear others thoughts, be it mortal or Immortal. As you grow older your powers will increase, and what cannot kill you will only make you stronger. You will always know if there is another Immortal close to you, and most of the time how old he or she is. You will have very good reflexes, but respect your limits."

"Who is the oldest Immortal?"

The young man looked uncomfortable. "They say that the oldest one is 600 years old, no one knows if there is Immortals older than that. If you ever decide to find out, let me know what you came up with. The oldest one I have met was 300 years old, and I have been an Immortal for about 58 or 60 seasons. Also, be very careful out in the world. Some Immortals will have mastered the ability to hide their thoughts, so you won't be able to hear or find them. You will also know if the Immortal close to you is a threat or not."

"What about you? Will I be able to read you mind?"

"Read my mind? Well, that certainly is a new way of calling it. As for your question, no you won't. Master and Fledgling will never be able to... read each others thoughts, as you put it - but I will always know where you are, and if you need my help or not." He looked towards the sky. "We should hurry, the sun will be up soon." He turned back to me. "Now, this will hurt a bit, but just keep your eyes fixed on one place all the time and try to relax. The transformation from mortal to Immortal will be painful and you will sleep until the next night, but that's about it. Ready?" he stood up and walked towards me.

I began to back up, but then gathered my - and at that time a very small amount of courage and stood up. The Immortal tilted my head to the side with strong hands and started to search for the right spot. A second later a felt something sharp against my skin. Pressure was gradually added until the fangs were buried deep inside, sucking to them the crimson flood.

That it would hurt a bit was an understatement. It felt like fire and ice and everything else thinkable at the same time. I squirmed trying to get away, but the Immortal was too strong; yet through all this my eyes stayed focused on a single spot in the hut - a tiny drawing of a leyrie-head. Right underneath it I had buried a knife I had gotten from my father when I was born. He had been disappointed that I wouldn't use it, but I guessed that it wouldn't matter much longer.

I think I fainted somewhere along the line, for the next thing I remember is something wet and coppery-tasting dripping on my lips. From the first taste of it I wanted more, I craved it like I craved fresh air. I whimpered and tried to stretch after the wonderful substance.

From above me I heard a chuckle. "Easy there my Fledgling, here you go." The source of the flood was lowered to my mouth and I felt flesh. I fumbled with my arms - discovering that I was feeding off the Immortals wrist - and in the end managed to hold onto the strong arm.

"Good isn't it?" my response was another strong suck. "Athan, stop." The Immortal tried to draw his arm to himself. I would have none of it. "You are stronger than I first thought. Ahhhh! Stop before you kill us both! ATHAN!" he managed to pull his arm to himself.

My first instinct was to jump after the blood, but suddenly wave after wave of pain came over me; it just wouldn't stop. I screamed for help, panicked that the Immortal had killed me.

"Don't worry, it's just your mortal body that dies. It happens to us all. Soon it will be over." The Immortal stood by the door. "And now I must leave you. Remember what I have told you, and be careful not to spend all of eternity alone. Get friends among the Immortals that you can visit if you're lonely. Be careful with mortals, don't show yourself to them if you don't mean to kill them. We will meet again Fledgling." With that he left and I was alone in the hut feeling like my guts were burned up from inside.

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Well, what do you think? Should I continue this, or give it up?

If anyone is interested, I have a couple of early sketches of Athan, Cian, Zev and Ramsis.

Suggestions and comments welcome, so please review.