It was ravenous hunger that drew Faye from the brink of oblivion.
She knew the instant she became aware of herself that something was wrong. Something was pressing her from all sides, and her body was bound so tightly she could barely move. When she opened her eyes, she felt cloth press against them in the inky blackness. So weak was she from blood loss and hunger that it took several minutes to realize the terrible truth.
She was in the ground. Someone had buried her.
Immediately, she began to struggle, to pit her ancient strength against the freshly turned soil. Demonic shrieks erupted from her throat as her fangs formed, piercing her lips but drawing nothing. She had no blood to spare for such trivial wounds. The cloth wrapped around her body soon gave, and she felt the cool, damp soil on her arms and face. She forced herself to start clawing, to struggle to the surface. Her vampiric strength, fueled by the last drops of energy she possessed, allowed her to make progress. Finally, with an animal-like roar, she felt her fingers break the surface.
She flung herself out of the ground, lying sprawled on the soft grass for almost an hour, trying to bring herself to the realization that she had freed herself from her own grave. It was dark where she was, the stars glittering down at her through the trees. The dim sounds of the waterfall echoed softly through the night, bringing with it a gentle, cool breeze. Faye’s eyes slowly rolled back, and she allowed herself to go limp. She might as well have stayed in the grave. The effort of escaping had left her with nothing more in which to use to hunt. Unless something literally fell down next to her, she was helpless.
The night wore on, and before she could comprehend the passage of time, the light of dawn slowly brightened the area. Birds sang, squirrels twittered; Faye could hear the world coming back to life.
Suddenly, Faye was startled by the cold, wet nose that abruptly pressed itself against her neck, sniffing her. Faye focused on the tiny fawn standing over her, looking down at her curiously with wide black eyes. It was still speckled across the back, and its mother was standing nearby, carelessly grazing on a nearby patch of grass. Clearly, the animals believed she was dead.
She couldn’t believe her luck.
With no hesitation, she reached up and grasped the tiny fawn, pulling herself up and sinking her fangs into its soft neck. The mother deer, spooked by the sudden movement, abandoned its baby and ran off. The fawn struggled for a moment, but it was no match for Faye, who grew stronger with each mouthful of rich hot blood. The blood burned through her, bringing color to her skin. Finally, she dropped the fawn, having drained the tiny creature to its last drop. She stood, relishing her newfound strength. Of course, the strength wasn’t going to last long, but it would last long enough.
Long enough to chase down the mother deer.
In its fright, the deer had left a clear trail, and Faye followed it mercilessly. She caught up with the deer, now panting and frothing at the flank, as it desperately tried to scramble through a thick hedge. Faye pounced, driving it to the ground. The mother deer’s blood was even richer than the fawn, and Faye glutted on the flow. It was to the deer’s luck that Faye became full before she had bled it to death, and she allowed the deer to scramble to its feet and run off, stumbling. It would be disoriented for several days, but it would survive.
Faye shook her head, wiping the blood off her mouth with the back of her hand. She was not at full strength–only mortal blood could accomplish that–but she would be satisfied for several days. Now fully conscious and aware of herself, she examined her surroundings more thoroughly. She had long since figured out she was no longer in Peru. She was in a temperate climate, quite near to a settlement, and now that she had conquered her hunger, she was curious to explore. The hedge she was standing near clearly surrounded something, and it didn’t take much effort to burrow through it and reach the other side.
She found herself in the most magnificent flower garden she had ever seen. Flowers of all types and colors grew in abundance. Chrysanthemums, roses, tulips, daffodils, daisies, lotus, and a great many Faye had never seen before. The colors were vibrant, from pure white to crimson red. Faye could even see a very small plant sprouting black-pedaled flowers. She sat down, completely immersed in the sea of life, light, and color. The rays of the sun felt good against her now warm-colored skin, a sensation she hadn’t been able to pleasure for uncountable years. She had no idea where she was, but she sure didn’t want to go back. She liked it here.
Suddenly, Faye heard footsteps approaching. Quickly and silently, she climbed up into the concealing branches of an apple tree. Perched on a stout limb, she glanced down through the mesh of rich green leaves, watching as the intruder appeared in her window of vision.
Faye had never seen such beauty before. A gorgeous silver-haired maiden was gathering flowers in a delicately weaved basket she carried on one arm. Her sky-blue dress was made of fine silk, and flowed around her body like a spider’s web caught in a breeze. She was humming as she worked, completely oblivious to Faye’s presence. When Faye focused on her, she spotted delicately pointed ears. So the children were not the only beings with such attributes.
Suddenly, a second form appeared. Faye gave a start as she realized it was the child she had tried to attack. The child seemed perfectly happy, unaffected by the events of the previous day. She hugged the silver-haired maiden, speaking excitedly in a language Faye couldn’t understand. Despite that, Faye soon realized that she liked watching the child, liked seeing her smile and hearing her bell-like laugh. She was a pretty little girl, innocent in a way Faye had never been, even in life.
When the child skipped away, Faye carefully descended the apple tree, keeping the trunk between her and the silver-haired maiden. Once she was sure she had not aroused the woman’s attention, she quickly moved away, keeping to the concealing shadows as she silently followed the girl. The child remained unaware of her new shadow as she continued skipping through the gardens, singing to herself. Faye wondered where her young companion was.
Suddenly, the two of them arrived at a marble-lined pool that had a fountain at one end. There were fish in this pool; Faye could see them from where she was crouching. The girl approached the edge of the pool and bent down, playfully swatting at the fish, laughing as she did so. Faye rested down on the soft cool grass, her head in her arms, relaxing as she watched the child play. She dimly remembered a time when she had children of her own, and how she’d watch them play, and how happy it made her. She had long since lost track of her children’s descendents, and watching the little girl made her feel regret for doing so.
Suddenly, a voice called out. Faye watched as the child sat up and called back, then stood. Faye tried to pronounce the word she had heard. Was that the child’s name? Yes, it was, Faye was sure of it. The child was called Arwen.
Faye started moving deeper into the shadows; she had a feeling she would no longer be able to follow Arwen without being caught. However, she froze when she saw the child, while walking along the edge of the pool, slip and fall sideways into the water, cracking her head against one edge before vanishing below the surface. Her wail of surprise, before it had been silenced by the blow, echoed in Faye’s ears, and all at once Faye relived a memory of her living days, seeing herself standing at the bank of a flooded river and screaming while her youngest son was swept away by the raging water, never to be seen again. She remembered her despair after losing her beloved child.
Even after so many years, her motherly instincts still existed deep within her. It was these instincts that drove her from the shadows and made her race to the pool’s edge, looking down through the water to see the child sinking limply to the bottom. For a moment, she saw her own reflection, saw her dirt-covered body, wide frightened eyes, and pointed fangs. Her pupils glowed, reflecting the sheen of the sunlight on the water’s surface. Then, her reflection faded, and all she saw was the child.
“Arwen!” she shrieked, the sound of her own voice startling her. She had not heard it in years.
With no thought to her own safety, no comprehension of the rapidly approaching footsteps and frantic calls, Faye dove into the water, hoping against all hope that she reached the child in time.