It's ironic how I spent most of my life searching for a way to live forever, and now that I can, I don't appreciate the gift. The Stone... it never existed. Probably never will. That's what I thought about vampires as well. Until she showed up on my doorstep.

Her name was Margaret. She was a pale young woman with ice blue eyes and a mane of red hair from the north, who needed a place to rest a while. I let her sit in my small study for a while, and worked on my journal while she rested. After a few minutes, she asked in French what I was doing. When I told her that I was writing in my journal, Margaret shook her head, and asked about the vials I kept in the corner. "Those," I told her, "are what I hope to be the ingredients necessary for the Philosopher's Stone."

Naturally, she asked what that was, and I explained to her that the Stone is said to be able to change lead into pure gold, and produce the Elixir of Life. "Eternal life," she whispered to herself, and played with a strand of her fiery red hair while she thought. "Do you want it that badly?"

For a moment, I was quiet. The allure of the gold was incredibly strong, but more than anything, I feared death. I told her that I did wish to live forever. Before I had even finished my sentence, Margaret had moved swiftly to my side, forced me back in my chair, and tilted my head to the side. She licked my neck slowly, almost lovingly, and whispered, "Then I will give you the kiss of eternal life."

In an instant, before I had time to even scream, she grew fangs, and plunged them into my neck as deep as they would go. I felt my blood leak out rapidly, spilling onto the floor and seeping into my beard. The demon with red hair withdrew her fangs, and licked at the blood pouring out, before sucking some out of the open wound. Then, she drove her fangs in again, and this time I felt a stinging fluid coursing through my veins, and my heart began to slow down. Margaret pulled her fangs from my neck again, and pushed them back into her gumline with her tongue. As my vision began to fade, and my body became cold, I could hear her whisper, "Mei u leeft voor altijd, en herinnert wie u deze gift gaf." These words were the last ones spoken to me before I died.

When I opened my eyes next, all was quiet. The world around me was completely dark. There was a light before me, and though my feet weren't moving, I felt myself heading towards it. From behind, a shriek erupted, and a pair of hands pulled at my body. They latched onto my arm, just as a hand from the light reached out to hold the other. Both forces tugged at my body - or was it my soul? - until it became obvious that neither could claim me. A voice from the light told me that my soul was corrupted by the darkness now flowing through my veins, but that one day, I could be cleansed. As long as I did not bite a human for sustenance, my soul would not become too tainted for redemption. And just as quickly as this curious incident began, it was over. Instead of in my chair at home where I had died, I found myself trapped in a box.

This box, I learned quickly, was my coffin. At first I panicked, and shrieked for help. I pounded once on the wood above me, and it splintered at my touch. Another strike caused the wood to collapse inward, now too weak to support the earth above. What felt like a ton of soil poured into the coffin, and I began furiously trying to dig myself out. After a few minutes, I managed to claw my way from inside the coffin, and climbed through the layers of fresh earth to the surface. The night air felt cool on my pale skin, and the moonlight cast an eerie glow on the headstones scattered around my grave. There was a man nearby who witnessed my escape from my wooden prison. He approached me slowly with a sharp length of wood in his pudgy hands, mumbling a prayer to himself. I ran from him as quickly as I could, and hardly noticed how quickly I passed the small buildings around the graveyard. Within seconds, I was already running through the countryside.

As soon as I was a safe distance into a nearby forest, I sat down, shaking. My throat burned, and the world swam before my eyes. Since I had been drained of almost every drop of blood by the fire-headed demon, my skin hung off my bones loosely, and my hair had begun falling out. While I sat trying to figure out what was going on with my body, I saw something darting between the trees in front of my eyes. Before I could stop myself, I had raced towards the poor creature, snapped its neck with so much force that I nearly tore it off, and began drawing blood from the gushing wound left behind.

I pulled my face away from the young deer, with blood dripping from my chin. I felt stronger almost instantaneously. My mind became clear, and I looked down at my victim; for the first time, I comprehended what just happened. With a yell, I threw the poor creature from myself, and shrank back against a nearby tree. I looked down at my blood stained hands, horror gripping me just as tightly as my confusion. What's happened to me?, I thought, and looked to the sky for a sign.

The heavens offered no answer, but a sound from behind brought my attention back to the ground. From between the trees, a young man strode onto the scene, his red eyes glowing eerily in the night. He crouched down by the deer, and then looked around to see me still backed against a tree. The man smiled, and asked in French, "Why are you drinking low-quality blood like this?"

"Excuse me?" My heart no longer beat at all, but it gave a painful twinge at his words. "Why would I do such a thing?"

"You tell me. You're the one covered in deer blood."

"Sir, I honestly don't know why. I... I vaguely remember being bitten on the neck by a strange woman from the north, and then waking up in a coffin... I have no idea what's happening."

The young man's smile became even wider, and he said quietly, "You must have just been turned. What's your name?"

"Nicholas."

"Nicholas... I hate to tell you this, but you are technically dead." I opened my mouth to object to this statement, but he continued by saying, "You were bitten by a woman like me, who feeds on blood to survive... preferably human blood. You are no longer human; that period of your life is over. You are now a vampire."

Vampire... I repeated the word over and over in my head, hoping that the idea would sound less insane. "No," I whispered more to myself than the young man, "This is impossible. Vampires don't exist."

"We exist, Nicholas. We exist, and if you want to survive, then I suggest you accept the fact that this is your new reality." The young man dipped two fingers into a pool of blood near the slain deer, and held his stained fingers to the moonlight. "This is the stuff we live for... without it, we will cease to exist. Your life will end... all over again. This, my friend, is the Elixir of Life."

I chuckled, and murmured, "How ironic... I've been trying all my life to create the Elixir, and only after my life is over do I find out what it really was."

"An alchemist, are you? I figured you would be... it seems like everyone is trying to mass produce ways to cheat death nowadays. I think you'll find that being dead isn't quite so bad."

"Who are you? Why are you telling me these things?" I looked at the man, taking in for the first time just how pale his skin was. His dark brown hair stuck out at odd angles from beneath his beret, and a paintbrush was tucked behind his ear.

As I began to take note of him, the young man answered, "I tell you these things because no one else will. Most other vampires wouldn't even look your way unless you were a threat. And as for who... I've gone by many names. But you may call me Rene."

"Interesting choice." I grabbed Rene's hand in mine, and said, "Thank you for taking the time to speak to me, but what should I do now? If I returned home, people would ask how I rose from the grave..."

"Don't worry, Nicholas. We have ways of concealing your identity. I'll teach you everything you need to know." Rene began walking back the way he came, and I followed him back to a small cabin on the outskirts of Paris. There, he began showing me the skills I now possessed, and ever since, we have been close friends. He is my mentor, and my brother; more of a man than most of those with a pulse.