Gabriel rode solemnly to the Borokov home, and dismounted his horse sorrowfully. He knocked on the door and was greeted with the smiling face of Gretchen.

"Can I help you?" she said, her eyes bright.

"I have some bad news. May I come in?" he said. Gretchen's smile faltered and she nodded, letting Van Helsing in. Michael came into the kitchen and offered Van Helsing a chair, which he took gratefully. He rubbed a hand over his face tiredly as Gretchen and Michael took seats across from him.

"Nicholas, you and Alessandra go outside for a little and play. I'll call you when I'm finished," Gretchen said to the children who stood anxiously in the doorway, waiting to catch wind of what the grownups were to talk about. Alessandra whined about wanting to stay and listen, but Nicholas convinced her to follow him outside.

"What news do you bring us, Mr. Van Helsing?" Michael asked. Gretchen wore a pained expression, ready to take the news, whatever it was. Van Helsing ran a hand over his face again and cleared his throat.

"Degana has died," he said.

"But she can't die. She's told me about all of the times she's tried to die but can't," Gretchen protested. Gabriel held up a hand.

"This is a different death. She hasn't returned because last night she went to Dracula, her fiancé in life, and was changed. She's gone," Gabriel said, his voice cracking. Gretchen dissolved into tears, her head in her hands, and Michael did his best to console her.

"I'm very sorry. I arrived too late to save her," Van Helsing said.

"It's not your fault," Michael said, patting him on the shoulder. "There was nothing you could do to save her. She was heading down that road for a long time and I don't think anything could have turned her from it. She loved you very much and respected you, but it wasn't enough." Gabriel shook his head slowly and hung it, ashamed that he could not save her. He had handed another bride to Dracula, increasing his power, and he knew now that he had no power against the vampyres.

"Thank you for telling us, my son," Michael said rising, and Gabriel did also. "We will keep the truth from the children for a little while longer until they are older." Gabriel nodded.

"That would be a good idea," he said, heading for the door.

"Good night, Mr. Van Helsing," Gretchen said softly, wiping away tears with her sleeve. Gabriel forced a hesitant smile that died on his lips.

"Good night," he said and vanished into the night.

Gabriel and Carl left soon after that for Rome after defeating the first three brides: Marishka, Aleera, and Verona. They left Degana and Dracula because they felt that they didn't have enough power to face them quite yet. The Borokovs lived peacefully on, Michael and Gretchen holding the terrible secret in them until Alessandra turned 17, Nicholas happily married and moved out.

Alessandra had grown into a bright young woman, headstrong and full of opinions she felt everyone needed to hear. She had a kind heart, for everything and everyone and was very compassionate. When Michael and Gretchen broke the news to her, she was shocked to the core and angry. She had treasured Degana and nearly worshiped her like a second god. Degana had been everything to Alessandra: a role model, a friend, a sister, and now Degana had gone and betrayed her like that. Alessandra took it deep into her heart, that day, that she would get Degana, and deliver her the final peace she had been deprived of so suddenly. She would deliver her that, even if it meant destroying her role model, friend, and sister.

"Well, doesn't this look familiar," Gabriel said to himself wearily as he and Carl stepped into the town of Vaseria, only to be met with extreme hostility and furtive glances.

"And to think that we were in here only a few years ago, and look how everything has changed," Carl said, lugging his giant bag on his back. Gabriel immediately spotted Anna coming up through the crowds to greet them.

"Hello, you two. I'm so glad you're back. Things have worsened greatly since you left," she said, relieving Carl of his bag, which turned out to not be heavy at all. She shot Carl a look that read "you're weak". Carl smiled sheepishly.

"I guess we have our work cut out for us then," Gabriel said, and the three of them set off for the Valerious manor to settle in and decide on a plan of action.

And this is where i stopped writing...I'm not really sure if I will continue...please review and tell me what you thought of it. Thank you all again!