Part One: Illusions

Authors Note: Hope that you enjoy this, it is some of my best work. It is the beginning of a four part saga, the others may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this story also serves well as a stand alone story if that is the way you wish to think of it. Without further ado…(and with minimum ramblings from myself), I give you Illusions! :D

Chapter One: The Veil

"See the light cease in thy life, profound words...hurting me." -Beyond the Veil, Tristania

It was the year 12,569 when the Vampire Hunter D lay dying beneath the glare of the merciless sun. It was on this mercilessly hot day that D met the most intricate illusion of his immortality.

It seemed that he was beyond all hope as D lay defeated, and caught out in the middle of the Frontier without his horse, hopelessly wounded and paralyzed with sun sickness. He wasn't even far from the battle that he'd fled wildly from, utterly conquered. His enemy could not be far. But soon enough D had succumbed to the pain and collapsed, soon paralyzed, beneath the feeble shade of an iron oak tree, and he surrendered to impeding Death. In the haze of semi-consciousness he felt his left hand stirring about, consuming the elements and trying to pump life back into his body but it was no use. The poison pounding throughout his blood stream was too strong, too corrosive even for the symbiote's healing. D's consciousness faded from the world of the living…

When he opened his eyes the Hunter found himself standing in a formless, mist shrouded landscape; all that had solidity within this world was a towering mass before his eyes. Stepping near he saw that it was a stone archway set upon a tall dais. Through this ancient archway, which was cracked almost to the point of crumbling there hung a tattered black curtain, or rather a veil that fluttered and swayed as if someone had just passed through it. For a moment D's gorgeous visage was flooded with a look of wonder, he knew this gateway…he'd seen the countless times he'd "died" only to be rescued by the symbiote residing in his left hand. It was the portal to the beyond, to the underworld where only the dead could linger. But those times the gateway had been closed off to him, the curtain remained still and immobile, but now it swayed almost seductively. He could see a faint blue light just beyond the veil…

"NO! No don't go man! No I need you! The world needs you, don't you dare!" his left hand was protesting in violent desperation. "Once you go, your gone! There ain't no coming back! There ain't no coming back!"

The archway seemed to whispering to D…a soft, gentle song that promised him rest, peace and love. It sang in voices that he'd long forgotten the sound of, even if he'd not forgotten the faces of those they belonged to. Women and children he'd saved, and men he'd slain, women he'd bedded, men he'd tortured out of anger or necessity, demons that howled in their death throes, but the most tempting voice was the low, husky voice of his long deceased mother.

"Come to me D….follow my voice…it's time…it's time at last. Nothing can part us anymore…"

D's feet moved forward seemingly against his own will, but he stared hard at the fluttering veil and spoke, "Your lying."

'I would never lie to you D…" the low voice whispered.

"You lied to me every day about who I am…about him. You twisted me, corrupted me just as he did. But you did teach me this…peace, rest and love… they are nothing more than illusions. All those lies died with you, Mother." He spoke impassively, his eyes bright as if ice were forming behind them rather than tears. Would tears ever dare to touch this Hunters beautiful face?

Than as if his very statement had summoned it, the deus ex machina he'd needed arrived. D tasted blood on his lips, human blood that was warm and succulent, and more vibrant than anything he'd ever before tasted. It was flowing past his parched lips and across his tongue. The taste of blood will bring a vampire back from the brink of death, even if he were an inch from it, sometimes even blood could rescue a vampire from the stake. A dhampir was no different.

The vision before him was ripped away as D's physical eyes flew open and with primal greed he arched toward the source of the blood, found the body it flowed from and latched tightly onto it, crushing it against his mouth and sinking his fangs deeply into it's flesh. D moaned at the vivid, sweet taste of the elixir he so craved and so devoutly denied, sounding more like a man who'd reached the peak of carnal ecstasy. He withdrew his fangs from the flesh, and sucked covetously at the river he'd welled forth. How many centuries had passed since he'd had a taste of human blood? He couldn't recall…all he could focus on was the health and the vitality that was surging through his savaged body, the wild peaks of rapture that tingled throughout him at the sweet forbidden taste.

In time he gained focus and saw that his savior was a young woman, who had offered him her wrist. Her white blonde hair was tousled by the wind and her face was contorted with pain but she did not pull way.

Helpless to refuse her sacred offering D drank until he sensed the girl's consciousness was fading and he pulled away, gasping with uncharacteristic relief, "Thank you!"

Power coursed through D as he sat up, but only a second later his vision swam and fire flared in his veins. A sharp gasp betrayed his lips. He'd forgotten the strength of the poison that had claimed him…it consumed life, it seemed all the girl had done was buy him a few more moments before death.

"What? What is it?" she asked with all the concern of a mother nursing a child.

Silently D fell backward and he pushed away the coat that had been covering the wound.

The girl's eyes went wide, but she didn't seem as horrified as a girl her age should have been. The wound was very grave indeed, however. D had been impaled right through the midsection by a foot long stinger, and the wound was clotted thick by blood, dirt and blue venom that burbled and burst as it seeped through the wound.

"By Goddess…that's a manticore sting! Not even a dhampir like yourself can survive that…nothing can!"

Grimly, D nodded, "Thank you still for your sacrifice." His voice was as detached and monotone as it always was.

But a look of courage crossed the girls face and she set her jaw stubbornly, 'Well, lucky for you I do not give up that easily." And she took a bit of D's cape and wrapped it around her hands, in a single quick motion she yanked the stinger free. The only evidence the Hunter showed of pain was a slight crease on his brow.

The girl slung off a pack from her shoulder that seemed to be woven from vines and a leathery bark, and after pulling a water skin from the pack she began to wash and clean the hopeless wound all the same. All to soon the dire pain that had driven D to the hopeless edge over took him again, it was as if fire was raging through his veins, eating away at tissue, muscle and even bone...even he could not suppress a roaring cry as the agony gripped his heart. Again he found himself utterly paralyzed, shadows again swam in his vision.

Than the girl did something even stranger…she'd began to sing. Her voice was high and clear, almost operatic as it chanted a language unfamiliar even to the Hunter. As her song rose and fell D felt calm returning to his body, numbing away the pain of the poison, his nerves pushing it aside as if it were unimportant.

And…even stranger a burst of flame seemed to rocket above the line of the scattered trees in the distance. The soaring ball of fire seemed to move of it's own accord and race toward the Hunter and the girl, taking a form that was not a ball of flame but a bird. The bird was roughly the size of an eagle, and it's head and wings were bright crimson and gold, and the whole of its body was encased with flames that flickered and burned but never died out in the rush of the wind. If D hadn't seen this unbelievable sight once before, he would have sworn that his eyes were deceiving him.

It was a Phoenix, one of the countless experiments of the Nobilities supremacy, but a failed one in their eyes. The Phoenix had only the ability to help those in need and to heal those near death with its incredible powers. Legends said that the Nobles had killed all but four of them; they'd meant to make a bird that did the opposite of healing.

The girl's song warbled like a birdcall as the Phoenix drifted nearer and nearer at last landing softly beside the fallen Hunter and the girl. No heat came from the flames that encircled it body. It surveyed the scene with its wide golden eyes and looked toward the girl.

She reached out fearlessly and touched the golden plumed head, her hands merely passing through the flames. "This is the Vampire Hunter D. He is perhaps the greatest Hunter to have ever lived. Will you cry for him?"

The fire bird gave a soft, hooting call then stepped over to D and bent it's swan like neck over his wound, pearly white tears welled within the golden eyes, the tear than fell onto the Hunter's savaged skin. Another tear fell…than another. Had this been any other man they would have cried themselves at the sight of this strange and unlikely scene. Phoenix tears could heal any wound, any illness and any poison…but a Phoenix cried only a single tear every year, and almost assuredly rarely for the lives of humans, and especially never for dhampirs nor the Nobility.

D however, watched the scene without emotion or comment as all trace of the agony in his veins ebbed way, and the gapping hole in his abdomen faded away to nothing more than unmarred skin, torn cloth and pierced armor.

When the mythical bird turned and leapt silently into the sky, the Hunter, however, did spare a look of utmost amazement for the girl.