All original and mine, please don't use without permission. My entry for NaNoWriMo this year.

I have edited a couple things in the prologue since I first submitted it. The name Tempmorphise has been changed to hopefully something more suitable as well. Thanks so much for reading!

The Red of the Sun

Prologue:

She crept along quietly, trying to avoid the brittle patches of leaves spotting her path. One crunch, one crackle and she'd be done for. If Michael caught her out here again, on another mission of mercy, there'd be hell to pay. Damn that scrawny kid for thinking he could come here. Damn him for stirring up the hornet's nest. He'd introduced himself as Shawn Devlin and the name suited him. Red-headed with a temper to match, irish to the very heels of his worn black boots.

A nest of vipers he'd called their little family, a plague upon the earth that needed to be destroyed. And while Michael did have a temper to match the very Devil himself, he was not malicious. His hair black as pitch and skin pale as ivory, he looked every bit the ferocious being most thought him to be. Usually, when his anger won out and his pale blue eyes turned red, most of the hunters had the sense to turn tail and flee. Not this idiot though. No. He'd decided to play big bad destroyer and fight. As light flared around them and Michael's teeth elongated into pointy, bared spears, Shawn had grabbed his holy water and played the pious preacher. "Back all ye evil beasts of the netherworld!" he'd shouted, crossing himself and standing fearlessly, righteously.

Well, harmless as Michael may be on most days, when his family was threatened he was a ravenous beast, hellbent on the destruction of intruders and protecting those he loved.

Mary couldn't blame him, after all it was her hide he'd saved as well, but she had to make sure the idiot little Irishmen wasn't suffering where he'd been left - discarded in the valley behind their homestead, blood mostly drained and body broken. Surely he'd be dead by now.

She'd feel no pity if he was dead, he'd brought it all on himself after all, but black as most humans assumed her heart to be, she couldn't stand the thought of any other being suffering and alone. It was her curse, her downfall. Michael generally thought it was adorable, how soft-hearted she tended to be, but not when she was feeling said sorrow for someone he'd brought to be in that state. Put into that state with good reason as well.

Mary left the house far behind, the decaying leafy traps not having caught her. It was a bit of a trek to where they'd left the blustery young man, over the grassy hill and down the valley to the edge of the dark forest. The looming skeletal trees looked like evil henchmen in the dim moonlight, standing guard over the nearly hidden paths, forbidding passage except to the bravest of souls. Luckily Shawn Devlin was lying just at the edge, for even Mary didn't care to enter the forest unless she absolutely had to. There wasn't much her family feared, but the dark forest was one of those few things. It was said by the locals to be haunted, stories of ghouls and spellcraft ran rampant. Tales of a dark Lord and his equally frightening lady, centuries ago, and their twisted time of horror and pleasure floated freely. Wondrous stories of sexual bliss sadly intertwined with torment and despair. The place was cursed. Cursed by the same Lord that had once lived in the manor on the hill where their family currently resided. The story went that when the townspeople rallied together to kill the evil the once pleasant lord had become, they'd marched to his door, lit sticks in hand and demanded entrance. He'd appeared before them, in all his beautiful, deadly glory and laughed. A young woman, the butcher's alluring daughter, had been dangling from his arms, skin paper white and head lolling to the side. Strange markings had covered her skin, glowing red in the light of the full moon. They'd managed to take the beast down, but not before he'd cast his curse upon the forest. Few who went in came out, and none came out intact. Those who walked away were mindless, babbling incoherently about hideous beasts and horrible happenings. And all had the same strange markings the girl had been covered in.

So the tale went, and so did it continue to go.

Luckily enough Mary's family hadn't live here during those troubling times, being rather recent additions to the local populace. Michael had brought them all here to live nearly three decades ago. They'd kept to themselves, discouraging visitors and escaping friendships for all that time. Until one red-haired, irritable Irishman decided to ruin that peace. Thankfully it seemed he'd acted alone, which was a blessing. If there'd been more, it would have been hard to hide what was happening up at the manor overlooking the small township in the distance.

At the bottom of the hill, a mangled mass of stupidity called to her, the thought of someone suffering wordlessly drawing her forward. That must be him. Michael really had worked him over. Not that he didn't deserve what he'd gotten, but hopefully he was already dead and past the suffering stage. It tore at her heart to wish him dead, but were he alive, there would be little she could do. At most try and heal him and wish him away, at the least, finish the job. She'd never quite been able to do that second option though. And if Michael found out she was healing the interloper, well maybe she would be the one sent away. As understanding as he could be of her rather perverse gifts, when his family was threatened, there was no compassion.

Mary had never asked to be blessed with the ability to heal. She'd never wanted to be the pariah in her family who could do no other than nurse little lost humans back to health. And it was a queer gift for one of them to have. Her family, the Baskilanis, was akin to what humans once called vampires. In fact, most would consider them as such if they didn't take the time to learn about them. In reality their bloodlines stemmed from Ancient Scientists who'd learned the secrets of mortality and how to bend time and space. With a bit of scientifically created wizardry sprinkled in. Each of them had a magical gift of one sort or another, something special and unique to only them. Rarely did two of them have the same powers, same genre yes, same exact abilities no. Dark and scary Michael, oddly enough, had the power to manipulate the sun and its energy, which were obviously even present during the darkest hours of night in slightly depleted quantities. He could heat their house, toast their marshmallows, light the night and roast their enemies. Michael was, of course, one of their most powerful allies.

They were a family, in all sense of the word except for actual kin relations. A rag-tag bunch, they'd met up slowly over the years, starting about two centuries ago. She'd been the fourth addition to their group, coming after Martina and Jacob and their founder of sorts Michael. It had been a cold, rainy night, on the back streets of London about fifty years after the family had started coming together. He'd saved her from a prolonged life of prostitution and utter dismay. She'd been selling her wares on a seedy corner, taking her customers back the alley for whatever they'd purchased, when a big bloke who'd told her to call him Thomas had decided she'd do. She'd do alright, she'd take his fists and his insults because that's what he paid poor enough money for. Beaten and bloody, violated in ways she'd rather forget, Michael had happened upon them and without knowing they were kindred spirits, pulled the hideous Thomas from her. A pierce of teeth and crack of neck later, she'd been safe. When Michael realized what exactly he'd saved, her gift so weak it'd been almost impossible to see, she'd also been adopted. The slang name for their type was Altemoras, as they could alter the beat of life. Few recognized that term and fewer who knew lived to tell unless they were of the original bloodlines themselves. There had only been a few successful attempts to transform those not born into the life, most met with grotesque failure.

A long, low moan reached her ears and her shoulders sagged in defeat. Self-hatred shot through her. Being who she was, it was horrible to hope for death in another. Even when she'd been young and abused, death for her tormentors had never crossed her mind. Her gift was drawn from the very essence of life, trees and dirt, meadows and flowers. Mother Nature drove her to heal and it was painful to deny her need - but healing the body now lying only a few feet away would surely result in a severe punishment from Michael. He was understanding and loving, glorying in her gift when it benefited those he cared about. Aiding an outsider such as Shawn though, was cause for trouble. And trouble she would surely receive come morning.

As she knelt down and lay her hands upon the Irishman's blood-stained shivering chest, she closed her eyes. Drawing from the dreary meadow she now crouched in, white heat shot through her body, tingling her toes and clenching her eyes before pouring out her fingertips and into the twitching body below her.

Please understand Michael, she silently prayed, please forgive me, for I can do no other.

A/N: Thanks so much for reading. Please let me know what you think!