She could hear the howling of the dogs, maddened by the copious amounts of blood flowing from deep wounds in her belly. She was leaving a trail too easily, but there was no way for her to stop long enough to induce healing in the gashes. The dogs would have been upon her in moments. She forced herself to keep going, dashing through the dense undergrowth of the Peruvian jungle with inhuman speed. She knew the jungles. They had been her home for untold centuries. Why now were they unable to defend her against the snapping jaws of the dogs?
Faye knew it was her fault she was in this predicament. She should have listened to the Mother. The Mother had warned her about staying away from the jungle villages, to seek her meals among the jungle-dwelling animals and to forget about the world of mortal men. But her curiosity and rebellious nature had overtaken her senses, and she had wandered too close to the settlement. The village guards had found her, stabbed her, set their dogs on her. They knew what she was. She would have slain their wives and children had they not stopped her.
She was a monster, a demon, an abomination. She had heard long ago from a white-skinned adventurer that her kind were called. . .what was it again? Vampires.
But she was not like the common vampire, the ones spawned from blood so polluted and impure that they believed themselves completely separate from the Mother. She had the blood of the first of vampire kind flowing in her veins, held powers akin to the gods themselves. At full strength, she was invincible.
But she had not been at full strength when she had faced the men, and she was getting weaker by the minute as her ancient and powerful blood created a gruesome trail behind her. Her skin was turning pink as the thin layer of blood sweat formed on her limbs. Her breath came in ragged gasps, her tongue hanging out from between two sets of needle-sharp fangs, panting as she ran. She threw herself over a fallen log, obliterating a delicate spider’s web in the process, and landing on all fours. At last, she could smell the river. The river, and the waterfall.
The roar of the water deadened her hearing as she burst from the trees and skidded to a stop at the cliff-edge. Five hundred feet below, the torrent of water from the mighty river crashed down into wide churning pool before snaking off again into the trees. In the distance, mountains loomed, blanketed by thick rings of cloud. A storm was coming. She looked down at the drop, hesitating despite the dogs that had finally burst into view and were charging for her, froth dripping from thick teeth and heavy black lips. She felt the spray of the water on her face, and decided all at once to trust her body to the river. It had saved her before.
The first dog was inches from her when she leapt, sending her body into the open air. For a fraction of a second, she hovered, taking in the frustrated dogs, the hunters behind them, and the white mist below. Then, she fell, plummeting through the air, hearing the wind whistle past her ears. The fall did not last long, and after a moment, she had entered the swirling cloud of mist at the base of the waterfalls.
It took her a second longer to realize that once the mist had surrounded her, she had stopped moving.
Faye screeched, struggling against whatever was keeping her from hitting the water. Finally, after several minutes of silent suspension in the misty white world, the mist released her, and she fell into the water. . .
. . .and a second later, hit a rocky bottom. Faye opened her mouth to scream in agony, for although she had been suspended in midair for several minutes, she still hit the bottom with the force of the fall, but all she got was a lungful of water. Her left arm and collarbone were shattered, so with her one good arm she forced herself to the surface. She threw herself up onto the grassy bank, forcing the water out of her lungs. She could still hear the waterfall, but it was no longer the powerful roar it had once been. It sounded much gentler, more melodious.
Sowly, Faye opened her eyes, and immediately snarled in shock. The sun was shining down, brightly, striking and illuminating her milky-white skin. She scrambled into the shadows of a thicket of rose bushes, ignoring the thorns and the burning pain of her arm and shoulder. It was only afterward, after she was safe in the shadows, that she realized she had not burned. She was a vampire; the sun was her enemy. Yet she was still sound and whole. . .
. . .wait a minute. Rose bushes? She knew perfectly well roses did not grow in the Peruvian jungle. Plus, five minutes ago, it had been nighttime, a night filled with shining stars and the orb of a full moon. Had she been stricken unconscious? She couldn’t see how. She hadn’t been trapped in the mist for that long.
Light footsteps made her freeze in shock. Those were the footsteps of children. There were no children in the jungles save for in the villages, and the waterfall was nowhere near a village. Yet children they were, for she saw the two pairs of tiny slipper-shod feet skip by not yards away from where she lay hidden. Quickly, she looked back to make sure she was hidden from sight in all angles. The bushes concealed her well, but she had still left a trail of blood. Seconds later, the children noticed it, for they froze in their tracks at let out innocent cries of surprise and fright, and although she could not understand the language, Faye knew they were calling for help.
She was going to be discovered if she did not silence the children. Slowly, she raised herself to her knees, finally feeling the gashes in her belly seal themselves. Swiveling towards the children, she crouched down, growling heavily. She heard the children gasp as they heard her growl, and saw them turn about, looking for the source. In the distance, someone was responding to their cries. She had to flee, but she could not with the children standing in the way.
Digging the fingers of her good hand into the soft soil, she bounded forward, crashing through the bush and leaping upon the children, roaring fiercely. One reacted instantly, jumping forward into the pool Faye had landed in. The other, frozen in terror, did nothing as Faye slammed into her, driving her to the ground and pinning her shoulders to the soil. For a second, Faye met the child’s gaze; saw the terror in her clear watery eyes; saw her strange delicately pointed ears. What kind of creature was this child?
Then, all at once, the utter exhaustion of the flight, the jump, the landing, and the loss of blood came down upon her, and with a low groan she fell off the child, landing on her broken side. Darkness came swiftly, and before she was lost to unconsciousness, Faye saw the child’s eyes again. Saw the same confusion that had plagued her previous thoughts.
This wasn’t home. Faye had been taken far from everything she had ever known. But where was she? Why was she here, in this land of pointed-ear children?
Where had the waterfall taken her?