It began to rain.
For many months the tiny village suffered a long, serious drought. Many of its people had already fled north to the Crest. Those that stayed barely managed to get by. Some had fallen ill and died; alcohol was the only thing left in the cellars to quench their thirst. Others were killed by desperate monsters in the barren fields in search for food. The few survivors remaining broke bread and did what little they could for each other.
By now, the village reeked of dust. The smell of rotting bodies hung in the air. It seemed the rain came too late.
“Father… You’ve finally come to save me.”
A little girl about seven years old peered out of the grimy windows of her home. The bodies of her two neighbors, her mother, and her brother lay not too far away from her, covered by white moth-bitten sheets. All around the house, there was the sound of rushing water. The girl watched in fascination as the rain cleared away the dust on the glass, leaving behind gray tendrils squiggling downward. A loud clap of thunder shook the house, but the girl barely flinched.
“Papa, you brought back so much water! Now we can live happily ever after!” the girl whispered. “But oh, Papa! Come inside where it’s dry and watch the rain with me!”
Suddenly there was a knock on the front door.
“Oh Papa, you don’t have to knock! I know you’re outside!” the girl giggled as she ran up to the door and opened it. “Oh… You’re not Papa.” She looked down at the ground, then looked up and gave a sad smile. “But come in! You can be my Papa now! Don’t stand outside so long in the rain before you get sick.”
There was life. That was all she wanted, another human to talk to, someone who could help wipe away the death in the village and bring it back to life. Someone who would be her family.
A tall shadow of a person stepped inside, drenched from head to toe. The girl quickly helped him remove his coat and led him to the window. “Look at all the rain!” she cried gleefully.
But the man turned his attention to the bodies on the floor. The girl looked up at him solemnly through her unkempt blond hair, noting the direction he gazed at. She sighed softly. “They’ve gone to heaven.”
“Heaven,” the man echoed almost breathlessly.
“Without me. They said I needed to wait for you before I could go.”
The man knelt down and took the girl into his arms. “Oh my poor darling…”
“Papa, it’s okay. We are together now,” the girl began.
“You poor, sweet girl…” He brushed away her hair from her neck, kissing the spot softly. He cradled her tightly.
“Papa, what-” She stopped, then screamed in terror when she saw her father enter the room just as a pair of fangs sank into her neck.
“Aestas!” her father yelled, leaping forward to save her.
The shadow stood, still carrying the girl in his arms. His fangs remained on her neck as he hurried off with her to the second story of the house. Her father came in hot pursuit, holding a broken wooden chair.
When he finally caught up, Aestas was on the ground. Streams of blood oozed down her neck. He picked her up and held her close.
“No, my daughter… please don’t die,” he sobbed. “You’re all I have now…”
“Papa… Mama says I can go to heaven now…” she whispered tearfully.
“No! You can’t go! Not yet!”
“I-I’m s-sorry…” Aestas fell limp in his arms.
Her father stared down at the dying girl in his arms. He chocked on a sob, shaking his head. “If only I had taken you with me…” He closed his eyes, his voice filled with sorrow in his next words. “There’s only one thing I can do now…”
He walked over to a window. Moonlight filtered past it, leaving behind a shadowy symbol of Saradomin on the hard-grain floor. Gently, he set her down on the shadow.
“Oh heaven, forgive me and let my daughter live…” He bared his fangs.