~2~

I looked up at the mountain in the far distance, and left the shadows of the caves I had rested in.

In the warm sunlight, I stretched, my fighting knives and sword bouncing against my hips.

"What a long day ahead of me…" I mused.

I walked through the valley, silently loping through the woods that had been here since before I existed.

"Oh… would you look at that…"

I was at the edge of a valley filled to the brim with briars and other thorny things.

"Bugger… I was hoping it wouldn't come to this."

I stripped down, and wore nothing but my skin as I held my belongings in my mouth. I didn't want my clothes ruined, and I didn't want my underclothes ruined either, so I settled for my skin getting scratched up. I was careful to only touch the places between the thorns on the vines, but the backlash was inevitable as they swung back into place.

I reached a small clearing in the dead center of the thorny place, and stopped to rest, putting back on my underclothing for the time being.

My underclothing consisted of a royal blue satin brassier, with black lace, and underwear that covered everything it should, stopping at a length that I estimated marked the first quarter of the length of my thigh. They were about the length of the short-shorts some females of this era wear. They matched my 'bra', also being royal blue satin, and had black lace lining.

"Gavner!" I heard, a few yards off to my right. My head whipped around, and I saw two vampires, and a younger one I assumed was a half-vampire, accompanied by a few wolves, and two of some sort of creature that were wearing faded blue robes, which were getting ripped to shreds. But that was not what caught my eye. The vampires had had the same idea as me, and were in their underwear. That would not have normally made me look twice, but the vampire with black hair was wearing underwear that were absolutely ridiculous! Yellow… with pink elephants!

I snickered, and the more I looked, the harder I tried to contain my laughter until it finally burst from my lungs like a tsunami. I will not compare it to flowing water, or ringing bells. That is not what my laugh sounded like. It sounded like a laugh, plain and simple.

"What was that?" asked the youngest one.

"Hello!" I said, finally quelling my laughter.

I waved from my position on the ground, and they all looked at me.

"Who are you?" the orange-hared one said warily.

"I am Aionia. Who are you?"

"Larten Crepsley. This is my assistant Darren Shan, and this is Gavner Purl." he gestured to the young one, then the black-haired one.

"Gavner is it?" I asked, looking at him.

"Yes." he answered solemnly.

"I have something to tell you!" I called in a sing-song voice.

"Well what is it?"

"Your underwear…" I paused, "are RIDICULOUS!" I dissolved into giggles, falling onto my back from my sitting position.

I heard him sigh, and the one named Larten and his assistant started chuckling.

They started making their way over to my clearing, and I stood up, dusting myself off, and making sure my hair was secure in it's braid, reaching my waist and secured with yet more black lace.

When they finally reached my resting place, the half-vampire stretched his arms wide out to the sides, something I suppose he hadn't been able to do for at least the past ten minutes.

"How are you gents?" I asked, smiling.

"What are you?" asked Gavner.

"Greek," I answered, avoiding the obvious question.

Larten rolled his eyes. "Vampire or Vampanese?"

I sighed, my grin long faded. "sorry to disappoint you, but I am neutral. I refuse to take any side in this damned war. But I don't kill the people I feed from if that's what you mean."

The one named Gavner automatically took a deep sniff from the air.

"She is a vampire." he stated.

I rolled my eyes at the obvious statement.

"If you are neutral, why are you heading to vampire mountain?" I didn't look up, but I knew it was Darren who spoke.

"I haven't been to the mountain in so very long, longer than you would think." I said, looking at all three of them. I only look around twenty, so that would lead most vamps to believe I was at the very most thirty or so. Not very old compared to my actual 1,743 years.

"I need to see if some people are still alive. I need to reintroduce myself to the world before everyone that knows me dies." I said grouchily, flicking some stray locks of hair from my eyes.

"And why would they all be dead?" asked Gavner suspiciously.

"I've been gone a long… long… time." I looked at the ground. I would be lucky if even the younglings like Paris Skyle or even Seba Nile are still alive now…

"How old are you?" asked Crepsley.

"I am not called The Aionia Mystika for naught, youngling." I snapped. How dare he ask me my age? Foolish little boy.

I crossed my arms and turned my back on them, walking to my pile of clothes and my small supplies pouch on my belt, to which was also attached my sword and knives.

I skidded to a halt as an arm wrapped around my waist.

"what the hell!" I tried to break free, to spin around, to get out of my current situation.

"Quiet you. Now answer our questions, and I can let you go."

"Gamoto! Ase myna fygo!" (dammit! Let me go!) I struggled, but held still as he held his hand to my neck, fingers stiff, his nails pricking into my skin.

"You will let me go, youngling. I see naught reasons why I should admit to you. I am older and wiser, and know more of the world and its ways than you ever will!" I hissed as he turned us around and walked back to where the orange-hair and the half-human stood watching.

The youngest of them rolled his eyes at my struggling, and I snarled, baring my teeth. I was slightly amused when he backed up a few steps, allowing his mentor to shield him.

"Now. How old are you." Crepsley sounded very serious now.

"I was born the year of the Battle of Naissus." I spat, hoping this would appease them.

"When?"

"The first year of the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius, of Rome."

"What year is that?" asked Darren of the other vampires.

" It was the year 268. One thousand, seven hundred, forty-three years ago." it was Gavner who answered.

I closed my eyes and scowled, not wanting to see the astonished, confused, or stupefied looks accompanying the stunned gasps.

"I know." I muttered.

"What are you?" asked Darren.

"I am Italian."

Gavner's hold tightened on my waist as his nails dug deeper into my neck.

"I am a vampire." I hissed in pain as his nails dug even further into my skin.

"Do you not know what The Aionia Mystika means?" I snapped.

"I am the eternal secret. That is what my name means. I am a secret because I am the only immortal vampire."

"oh," I heard Crepsley say quietly.

"Liar!" Purl growled, and I yelled loudly in pain when his nails began to break my skin.