The day was dark and gloomy in a region far south of Fricana, befitting the small gathering of long-faced men, women, and children that stood solemnly around a small wooden casket as it was lowered into the ground. None of them spoke a word. With a jarring thud the casket hit the ground, and all eyes were drawn to a young woman sitting apart from the others. All eyes on her, the woman walked to the grave, holding something in her clenched fist. She held the fist over the grave, struggling to control the shaking that wracked her body. "Peace, love." She said quietly, addressing the grave as she shaped a valentine shape in the air with her free hand. She opened her fist, and small gold flecks fluttered down to dust the casket lightly. Then the casket was covered with a thick layer of dirt. The witnesses left quickly after speaking a mumbled word to the casket, as though the body in the casket deeply disturbed them. Only one, a man dressed in fighting clothes, stayed. The young woman stared at the casket, tears silently dropping down to wipe the gold dust off.

The fighter quietly approached the silent mourner, and laid one hand on her shoulder. "Calla." She looked up at him, blinking to clear the tears away. He smiled gently. "You should leave."

She shook her head, turning away from him to look at the casket. "No, Gavin. It's my responsibility, I'll help you."

"No mother should have to kill her own child."

"She's already dead. My beautiful daughter is gone for ever more." The young mother stared at the casket, her eyes hardening in silent resolve.

The fighter regarded her with sympathy, his care-hardened eyes softening. He put one hand to her cheek to brush away a strand of hair. "It will be hard. I know how difficult it is, believe me." He drew his hand away and clenched it in anger at some memory. "You should not do this." Calla didn't answer, apparently mesmerized by the subtle patterns on the casket. "Go to the village."

She shook her head. "I can stay her no longer. The door to my soul is blowing in poisonous memories."

Gavin sighed, glancing up at the sinking sun. After a minute, he took out a parchment and a magic pen and scribbled something down. He pressed the paper into her hand as she looked up at him with a faintly curious gaze. "Follow this map south, and show the note to my younger brother, Cory. He'll find accommodations for you."

She looked at him without comprehension for a moment, then blinked, as though her senses had suddenly returned. "Of course. thank you." She hurried up the path. Almost out of sight, she stopped, staring behind her with a hollow look that showed the memories running past her. Then the doors into her soul closed, and she turned down the path. Gavin turned around and looked grimly into the sky. It was time to wait.

* * * * * * * * *

Vivie was aching all over. Her neck was sore, and she felt strangely suffocated, yet it didn't bother her. There was something changed in her, but being only four, she couldn't articulate what it was. "Mommy?" She called. No answer. Her young mind became panicked, partly because mommy didn't answer, and partly because her voice hit against something too close by. She opened her eyes slowly, and instantly all reason left her tiny mind. She was trapped. She make out the walls of her coffin surrounding her, choking her. She struck out blindly, kicking and thrashing. She tore at the top of the coffin, her small body somehow imbued with inhuman strength. Dirt began falling through the ceiling, but she didn't notice as she tore a hole wide enough to tunnel through. She pushed herself through the dirt, tunneling like a weasel, until she finally burst through. She spit the dirt out her mouth and clumsily wiped it out of her eyes. She looked around, piteously calling for her mother. It was dark, and the moon had risen high in the skies. And it was by the light of this moon that Gavin observed her. She was a tiny child, but looked at least two years older than her years. A shimmer of blue shone in her long black hair, highlighted surrealistically in the darkness. It almost drew his attention away from her eyes - but, not quite. He felt a chill run down his spine as he looked into the girl's eyes - black, blacker than the darkest night, glowing with an unconscious malevolence that was now in the child's nature. There was nothing there but the need and the hunger, nothing to save. She was a monster. She was a vampire. But there was one more piece they needed before her soul could truly rest in peace, one more thing needed. Gavin drew his sword and slid into the darkness of the woods. Vivie turned, something moving at the edge of vision. But she saw nothing. Sensations were assailing her senses, too many of them and too foreign to assimilate. And she felt an aching feeling of pain and fear and need, need for comfort. She collapsed on the ground, sobbing. Then everything around her blanked out, and she felt as though she'd been transported to another place. The air around her was distorted, appearing as blinding winds of light that shrieked as they passed her, all of it coming from a single point. She saw a face, too blurry to make out, at the source of the winds of light. The face spoke, and Vivie could see the sound coming towards her, surrounding her with the melody that shaped the words in her mind: "Your name is Viana. You are not destined for nothingness. You are not alone. Your being is still with you - you will survive."

Then the vision abruptly left, leaving her lying on the cold earth, aware of every rock digging into her backside. And as the shreds of light in her vision faded, so seemingly did the sands of memory. All her life before awakening in a grave slowly poured out of her in a stream, and she couldn't keep it any longer. And at last she was left with nothing but vague nightmare memories of tearing out of her coffin, and a vague image of a woman's face. She stood up, trembling with a deep-seated fear that refused to leave her. Words flashed in her mind - "Your name is Viana." A half- memory crept into the back of her mind. Viana. V. She was V. She smiled, pleased with accomplishing something.

"Something made you happy, my dear?"

She whirled, her body faster than it ought to be, to see the dark man coming towards him. He was pale-complexioned, with obsidian black hair - and obsidian black eyes. The eyes were glowing black, completely black. She thought she ought to fear, but no more fear could grip her heart than was already there. "Who're you?" She backed away, stumbling over the hole from which she had climbed. She clawed frantically, trying to keep from sliding into the hole. The dark man grabbed her arm, pulling her out and setting her down on stable ground. Her arm hurt, but she was safe.

"I am a friend." He smiled, reaching for her. She drew back, wary. "It's alright, little girl. I'm going to take you somewhere that you'll be safe, and nothing can hurt you. Come, it's okay."

She took a step forward. "House?"

"Yes, I'm taking you to my house."

"I think not." The girl jumped and the dark man whirled. At the edge of the forest stood a heavily armored man, his blade drawn. "Your days are over, Locke."

Locke smiled toothily, bearing razor-sharp teeth. "I think not." He said mockingly, walking towards the fighter.

V scrambled out of the way as the two locked into mortal battle. The fighter proved quickly he was not just a simple fighter, as rays of magic beamed from his fingers to bind around Locke. But the dark-haired man discarded the bonds easily, and in a smooth, almost invisible motion, called forth thousands of dead things from the surrounding forests. They moved in shambles, some of them nothing but bones, others freshly dead. V's eyes widened, and she shrieked as she watched the vampire-hunter hack the limbs off the creatures as he struggled to cast his spells and fight his opponent. Somewhere in all of the haze, it started to rain. She didn't want to see any more, and it was dark - something was torn inside of her, hurting so badly she couldn't move. She felt dark thought surround her as her eyes closed out what was happening. She felt as though she was flying, lifting up into the rain, into the sky. The rain was like the wisdom of the ages pouring around her, imbuing her a mentality that would be usually found in a four-thousand-year- old vamp. She found a song running through her veins like the water that flowed around her. "Without a soul, my spirit sleeping somewhere cold, until you find it there and lead it back home." She didn't know if she was singing or if she was just thinking it. Below her in tattered visions, she saw the land of Mordavia, frozen in the grip of winter. "Wake me up inside - wake me up inside,

call my name and save me from the dark. Bid my blood to run before I come undone, Save me from the nothing I've become." She knew what she was, now. She felt memories of histories time immemorial. She knew that she was part of something ancient, something of balance. Perhaps the vampires weren't all evil - perhaps she was just making excuses.

"Are you ready?" She opened her eyes. Locke stood there impassively, king over a battlefield that was stained with putrid blood and rotting bodies. She could see the vampire hunter vanishing into the darkness. She felt as though she should resist, fight her nature. But she couldn't. She was afraid. She nodded slowly and headed towards him. He picked her up carried her to a large bird that she would later identify as a griffin. Her interrupted thoughts came back to her - the song resounded in her mind again. She closed her eyes as they came to her.

"Frozen inside without your touch, without your love, darling - only you are the life among the dead." Some day, someone would be able to help her, to be that life. Right now, she was locked inside something she couldn't escape. She had only to wait. "Save me from the nothing I've become - bring me to life. "

It was her refrain throughout the waking nightmare of the years to come.