Vampire Mountain PROLOGUE


"PACK YOUR BAGS," Mr. Crepsley said late one night, as he was heading for his coffin. "We leave for Vampire Mountain tomorrow."

I was used to the vampire making declarations out of the blue - he didn't believe in consulting me when he was making up his mind - but this was shocking, even for him.

"Vampire Mountain?" I yelled, racing after him. "Why are we going there?"

"To present you to the Council," he said. "It is time."

"The Council of Vampire Generals?" I asked. "Why do we have to go? Why now?"

"We go because it is proper," he said. "And we go now because the Council only meets once every twelve years. If we miss this year's gathering, we will have a long wait until the next."

And that was all he'd say about it. He ignored the rest of my questions and tucked himself into his coffin before the sun rose, leaving me to worry the day away.

My name is Darren Shan. I'm a half-vampire. I used to be human until eight or so years ago, when my destiny clashed with Mr. Crepsley's and I reluctantly became his assistant. I had a hard time adapting to the vampire and his ways - especially when it came to drinking human blood - but finally I let go, accepted my situation, and got on with the business of living.

We were part of a traveling band of amazing circus performers, led by a man called Hibernius Tall. We toured the world, putting on incredible shows for customers who appreciated our strange and magical talents.

Six years had gone by since Mr. Crepsley and me had last been separated from the Cirque Du Freak. We left to put a stop to a mad vampaneze by the name of Murlough, who was terrorizing the vampire's home city. The vampaneze are a breakaway group of vampires who kill humans when they feed on them. Vampires don't - we just take a little bit of blood and move on, leaving those we suck from unharmed. Most of the vampire myths you read about in books or see in movies actually began with the vampaneze.

They were a pretty good six years. I became a regular performer at the Cirque, going on with Madam Octa - Mr. Crepsley's poisonous spider - every night to amaze and frighten audiences. I also learned a few magic tricks, which I worked into the act. I got along well with the rest of the Cirque troupe. I got used to the wandering lifestyle and had been having a good time.

Now, after six years of stability, we were about to journey into the unknown again. I knew a little bit about the Council and Vampire Mountain. Vampires were ruled by soldiers called Vampire Generals, who made sure their laws were enforced. They killed insane or evil vampires and kept the rest of the walking undead in line. Mr. Crepsley used to be a Vampire General, but quit a long time ago, for reasons he never revealed.

Every once in a while - I now knew it was twelve years - the Generals gathered at a secret fortress to discuss whatever it was that bloodsucking creatures of the night discussed when they got together. Not only Generals attended - I heard that ordinary vampires could go, too - but they made up the majority. I didn't know where the fortress was, or how we'd get there, or why I had to be presented to the Council - but I was about to find out!

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