I have died once.

It was bright. It was hard to breathe. Fire's spreading, and completely surrounded by death, a young girl sat in its midst watching her hands stain scarlet red. And she thought to herself: no one had told her the skies could rain blood.

It hurt…

I remember a fire.
Burning. Spreading. Dancing.
It lit up the night sky in a great orange hue as the ground started to give way.

How could I possibly forget? That was how my life came to an end.

The ground exploded around her. Vaguely the little girl registered her world tilting, registered the darkness slowly creeping into her eyes, felt the ground as it hit. And in that short time of falling, all she could think about was how much it hurt.

It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.

She was dying. She was sure of it. She could no longer feel her legs, could no longer move her fingers. The flames continued closing in as the world continued to burn. And from a distance, within the flames, she heard the voices starting to chant:

Purge the world of sinners.
Purify this world.
Do this for the crown.

They cannot be allowed to live.
Burn away the sole embodiment of evil.
Long live the vampire king.

They wanted them dead. They've always wanted them dead.

I'm looking for a little girl. I have to save her. Except, most likely, she's already dead…

Raimundo is fourteen.

He has everything a boy his age could possibly want; money, the latest video games, popularity, girls – everything. He has connections with the most powerful man alive; everyone knew this powerful man as the great Lord Hawkesworth, but Raimundo knew this man as father. The all-powerful son of an all-powerful man and yet he's sneaking around the neighbourhood near midnight like some common rogue.

But anything, anything, would beat having that heavy pile of expectations stacked upon his head at home.

Chin up. Not one crease on your shirt, Raimundo. Not one stammer in your words. You'll never amount to anything otherwise.

Now, running down the streets, he was weightless.

Raimundo rounded the corner. This year, he would finally attend the festival down by neighbouring town. He would watch the colourful lights and the passing parades he's only heard about from the gossiping maids downstairs. If he was lucky, he'd make it back home before sunrise and no one would be the wiser.

Down the path, he spotted a young girl about his age – a strange young girl with dark hair cropped short to her shoulders – trying to peer over the fence of some old house. Now, Raimundo knew that he really should be on his way, but Lord Hawkesworth had raised a control freak and because of it, Raimundo just had to know what this strange girl was thinking not just trying the gate.

So, he simply walked right up behind her and said, "Hello, stranger."

The strange girl whipped around so fast her hair nearly slapped him in the face.

"Are you stealing?" he asked.
"You seem pretty suspicious to me."
"I'm not a thief. I'm just trying to get into my house."

She had a slight accent. Spanish, maybe Italian. She's clearly not from around here, or anywhere remotely close for that matter.

"Could you help me get over this fence?" she asked.
"And aid you in robbing a family blind in their sleep? No thanks."
"I live here for God's sake. This is my house."
"There is a large gate out front and you choose to scale the fence. Do I look like I was born yesterday?"

She was watching him, studying him with those eyes; a clear blue like he's never seen. She's quite pretty, he realised. There was this little spark in her eyes that he rarely sees from those amongst his kind. She was studying him, calculating how far to push him and Raimundo had to admit, it was slightly intriguing to behold.

He heard footsteps approaching. Much too quiet, much too hurried. It couldn't be a simple random passer-by. And it definitely wasn't human. Those were the quiet footsteps of a vampire.

Raimundo ducked down behind a row of bushes despite the strange looks he was receiving from the strange girl. True to his suspicions, the woman rushing past was no human. Through the gap between the bushes he recognised her in her uniform; one of his mother's younger maids, Kaila.

He watched her hurry along, taking a left down the lane; the way towards the festival, he realised. Shit. Poor Kaila, most probably they'd settle for lecturing her when she returned empty-handed without him. Surely his butler would give him an earful for all of this. A two-hour lecture with five extra hours of lessons to add to his regime.

The girl was crouching down next to him, of course, without nearly the same amount of stress as he. So much for calling her a thief. He's the idiot who looked deathly suspicious next to her.

"Must be fun to play hide-and-seek with the help," she grinned.
"Be quiet."
"That's no fun."
"I'll rip your throat out and dump you on the streets."
"I'd like to see you try."

She was challenging him. Her, a mere tiny human, challenging him on the streets.

"Tell you what," she offered, "Get me over this fence and I'll leave you alone."

"You're crazy." Raimundo then made the mistake of sparing her a glance. Bad news was that this girl wasn't kidding at all. He sighed, "And if I refuse?"

"Then I scream for her attention and wake up half the neighbourhood."

Damned girl. He threw her a dirty look and reluctantly went, "Fine..."

"Great! Could you please kneel over then?"

He stared, gawked at her in utmost disbelief. "You're joking."

"Just hurry up and do it."

This girl was crazy, absolutely nuts. He bent over like she asked and in a second, he felt the weight of her feet upon his back, then upon his shoulders.

"Are you mad!?" he exclaimed. She wasn't very tall, so even on his back, she could barely reach the top. He stumbled and she came incredibly close to completely falling over.

"You're going to hurt yourself!" he told her in hushed whispers, she stumbled again and Raimundo felt obliged to add, "–and me!"

"It needs to be a little higher."
"Could you stand up?"

Now he wanted to simply push her off and call it a night. He wanted to look her in the eye and strangle this stupid girl for all she was worth. But Raimundo was also a man of his word. So in one smooth action, Raimundo stood on his feet and promptly heaved her onto the fence.

"Thanks," she swung her legs up and over onto the other side then leapt down with a unique grace that he's only seen from amongst creatures of his own kind. He's never seen a human move with such elegance before. It was interesting to watch, but the girl was too smart, too cheeky and he was no idiot. If he stayed for even a second longer, God knew what this girl would request of him next.

But as he turned to leave, she called out to him. "You're going to see the festival, aren't you?"

He contemplated ignoring her, but his father did too good a job at instilling courtesy into his morals. "Yes," he grumbled.

"The view of the parade is much better from the hill outside of town. Plus, you won't have to worry about getting found by your maids."

She had been looking him straight in the eye and Raimundo could've sworn he's never seen eyes quite this beautiful in his lifetime. Raimundo had never met a girl quite this absurd. His father may beg to differ, but Raimundo thinks that this girl is absolutely brilliant. Crazy, but brilliant.

"Thank you."

She was a strange girl in the middle of a neighbourhood trying to scale a fence. In all the fourteen years he's lived, she doesn't leave that large of an impression on him. Her face disappears from his memory with time, but those eyes, those beautiful clear eyes remained. He would never forget the shade of blue. The way it gleamed under the moonlight, the way she looked at him without awe, without fear.

She had the most beautiful eyes he'd ever seen.

Raimundo is fourteen and he is discovering for the first time what it means to be fascinated.

Author's Note:

HEY~ I'm back! Thank you for taking the time to read this story. But before we go on, I first have to give credits to CaJuN VoOdOo. This story is based on CaJuN's story Blood Lotus which was never finished. So if you have the time, please check that out because it was one of the stories that first got me so hooked to Raikim:))

Also, special thanks to my lovely beta-reader, PhoenixForce42! This story wouldn't have been even half as satisfying to write if not for you.

I really hope you all enjoy it! Please feel free to review and critique it as well:D All criticism is welcome:)