IT WAS an age of war. After six hundred years of peace, the vampires and vampaneze had taken up arms against each other in a brutal, bloody battle to the death. The War of the Scars began with the coming of the Lord of the Vampaneze. He was destined to lead his people to total, all-conquering victory - unless killed before he was fully blooded.
According to the mysterious and powerful Mr. Tiny, only three vampires stood a chance of stopping the Vampaneze Lord. They were the Prince, Vancha March; the one-time General, Larten Crepsley; and a half-vampire, me - Darren Shan.
It was predicted by Mr. Tiny that our path would cross four times with that of the Vampaneze Lord, and each time the destiny of the vampires would be ours for the making. If we killed him, we'd win the War of the Scars. If not, the vampaneze would cruise to savage victory and wipe our entire clan from the face of the earth.
Mr. Tiny said we couldn't call upon other vampires for help during the quest, but we could accept the aid of non-vampires. Thus, when Mr. Crepsley and me left Vampire Mountain (Vancha joined us later), the only one to come with us was Harkat Mulds, a stunted, grey-skinned Little Person.
Leaving the Mountain - our home for six years - we headed for the cave of Lady Evanna, a witch of great power. She could see into the future but would only reveal this much to us - if we failed to kill the Lord of the Vampaneze, by the end of our quest, two of us would be dead.
Later on, we linked up with the Cirque Du Freak, where I'd lived with Mr. Crepsley when I originally became his assistant. Evanna travelled with us. At the Cirque, we ran into a group of vampaneze. A short fight ensued, during which most of the vampaneze were killed. Two escaped - a full-vampaneze by the name of Gannen Harst, and his servant, who we later learnt was the Lord of the Vampaneze, in disguise.
We were sickened when Evanna revealed the true identity of Gannen Harst's servant, but Vancha was especially miserable, because he had let them escape - Gannen Harst was Vancha's brother, and Vancha had let him go without challenging him, unaware that his brother was prime protector of the Vampaneze Lord.
But there was no time to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We still had three chances to find and kill our deadly foe, so our quest continued. Putting the lost chance behind us, we sharpened our blades, parted company with Evanna and our friends in the Cirque Du Freak, and took to the road again, more determined than ever to succeed...
OUR DAILY POST, SEPTEMBER 15
BLOODY NIGHTS OF DEATH!!!
This once-sleepy city is under siege. In the space of six short months eleven people have been brutally murdered, their bodies drained of blood and dumped in various public places. Many more have vanished into the shadows of the night and might be lying beneath the streets, their lifeless bodies decomposing in the lonely dark.
Officials cannot account for the gruesome killing spree. They do not believe the murders to be the work of one man, but nor have they been able to link the crimes to any known criminals. In the largest single police operation in the city's history, most local gangs have been broken up, religious cult leaders arrested and the doors of secret orders and brotherhoods smashed down... to no effect at all!
Chief Inspector of police, Alice Burgess, when queried about the lack of results, responded with her own brand of customary bluntness. "We've been working like dogs," she snapped. "Everyone's on unpaid overtime. Nobody's shirking responsibility. We're patrolling the streets in force, arresting anyone who even looks suspicious. We've initiated a 7 pm curfew for children, and have advised adults to remain indoors too. If you find someone who can do a better job, give me a call and I'll gladly step aside."
Comforting words - but nobody here is taking comfort from them. The people of this city are tired of promises and pledges. Nobody doubts the honest, hard-working efforts of the local police - or the army who have been called in to assist in the operation - but faith in their ability to bring an end to the crisis has hit an all-time low. Many are moving out of the city, staying with relatives or in hotels, until the killings cease.
"I have kids," Michael Corbett, the forty-six-year-old owner of a second-hand bookshop told us. "Running away doesn't make me feel proud, and it'll ruin my business, but the lives of my wife and children come first. The police can do no more now than they did thirteen years ago. We've just got to wait for this to blow over, like it did before. When it does, I'll return. In the mean time, I think anyone who stays is crazy."
HISTORY OF DEATH
When Mr. Corbett spoke of the past, he was referring to a time, nearly thirteen years ago, when horror similarly visited this city. On that occasion, nine bodies were discovered by a pair of teenagers, butchered and drained as the recent eleven victims have been.
But those bodies were carefully hidden, and only unearthed long after death had occurred. Today's murderers - rather, tonight's, since each victim has been taken after sunset - are not bothering to hide the evidence of their foul deeds. It's as though they are proud of their cruelty, leaving the bodies where they know they will be found.
Many locals believe the city is cursed and has a history of death. "I've been expecting these killings for fifty years," said Dr. Kevin Beisty, a local historian and expert on the occult. "Vampires visited here more than one hundred and fifty years ago, and the thing about vampires is, once they find a place they like - they always come back!"
DEMONS OF THE NIGHT
Vampires. If Dr. Beisty's was the only voice crying out against demons of the night, he could be dismissed as a crank. But many other people believe that we are suffering at the hands of vampires. They point to the fact that the attacks always occur at night, that the bodies have been drained of blood - seemingly without the aid of medical equipment - and, most tellingly, that although three of the victims were photographed by hidden security cameras when they were abducted, their attackers' faces did not show up on film!!
Chief Inspector Alice Burgess is dismissive of the vampire theory. "You think Count Dracula's on the rampage?" she laughed contemptuously. "Don't be ridiculous! This is the twenty-first century. Warped, sick humans are behind all this. Don't waste my time blaming bogeymen!"
When pushed, the Chief inspector had this to add: "I don't believe in vampires, and I don't want idiots like you filling people's heads with such nonsense. But I'll tell you this: I'll do whatever it takes to stop these savages. If that means driving a stake through some madman's chest because he believes he's a vampire, I'll do it, even if it costs me my job and freedom. Nobody's walking away from this on an insanity plea. There's only one way to pay back the deaths of eleven good men and women - extermination!