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Fire. An Element that filled ancient man with wonder. It was worshipped, used as a tool for life, a tool for death, and a tool of suffering. It was not good. Neither was it evil. But its purpose had always been the same: to purify, be it for good reasons or bad.

The Elementals existed at the birth of the world. They were there -- raw power without will or desire. They were the Guardians who kept the world in balance. But in times of peril, they are Awakened, and choose to inhabit a human vessel to carry out its mission, whatever it is. For the human is the only creature that could give it will and personality; its soul ensures that.

Now the Elemental of Green Fire is the strongest of them all; too strong, some say, because it inevitably drives its vessel to madness. It is not a good thing to be a vessel to such power.

Only twice has the Elemental of Green Fire taken form; first, Ayas, who was worshipped for her awesome power, and who in turn destroyed the civilisation which she came from.

The second time the Elemental of Green Fire appeared, it took the form of someone I knew -- and I suppose it is something every scholar desires, a legend coming alive before them. Unfortunately, I did not find the experience at all enjoyable.

The second time the Elemental of Green Fire appeared, it inhabited in the body of a young boy in the Southern part of England. His name was Wesley. It hid in him for a time, thwarted for a brief while by the interference of men -- but it came out nevertheless, when Wesley was 35.

It empowered him. It drove him mad. It eventually killed him.

And enslaved his soul.

- From the journals of Rupert Giles

Alanna fought as long as she could, but the vampires were too strong for her. Screaming what would probably be her last scream, Alanna then braced for the end.

But the vampires were suddenly distracted.

"Hey! We're being watched," snarled one.

The vampires turned as one to see a lone figure standing in the alley. Alanna took that moment to try escape, but the vampires anticipated her; one of them grabbed her by the neck and pinned her to the wall.

She could only watch her end rushing towards her.

Honestly, Gondo was having a bad day. He hadn't had a meal for more than seven hours; the worse was having to share that lone catch with the other two losers -- Josh and Bob. Then while they were about to have her, they were interrupted by some bozo who decided to come and watch.

The figure stood in the alley, seemingly undisturbed by the spectacle.

"Beat it! Or else you're next!" Josh snapped.

Gondo gave him a disbelieving look. Chase away a meal? Dumb and slow.

To make sure that the quarry was human, Gondo sniffed. And was taken aback. There was something wrong with the guy -- human, yeah, but the smell of blood was wrong. Rancid. Like it had gone bad. And he did not hear a heart beat, so the guy was obviously no longer alive.

But he wasn't a vampire either. He could sense that immediately.

"Zombie?" Bob asked. He was quicker than Josh by light years.

At that, the girl squealed in horror.

"Beat it! I'm in no mood to deal with walking dead men now, get it!" Josh yelled.

"Just ignore him, Josh! Zombies are dumb, slow things. Probably wants the girl. Fresh meat and all. Ever since that stupid vamp hunter came to Avarice, humans have been hard to come by."

The girl squealed some more.

Then the zombie did something unexpected. It moved.

But its movements were unnatural -- not the slow, lumbering gait of the zombie -- it was super-fast, jerky, as if their eyes couldn't process the movements fast enough, only allowing them glimpses of the creature. As a result, the zombie looked as if he was appearing and disappearing in places, its head whirling at impossible speeds.

Voices whispered around them. Disjointed, ghostly ...

**What is that? Where are they? Vampires. Filth. I'm dead.**

The girl screamed in earnest this time. Josh was so shocked by the zombie that he didn't bother to muffle her this time.

Then in another millisecond, the zombie was before him. It floated in the air, hair floating wildly about it, stirred by an unnatural wind. And Josh noticed something else -- an incredible heat rising from the body.

Another spasm of movement, a quick whirl of the head and the face turned towards him.

Josh yelled in shock.

It was the vampire hunter. The one that had been hunting the vampire population in Avarice mercilessly the past few months. But he looked dead. Milky blue eyes stared at him, his skin was grey blue and so were his lips. Hell, he was dead.

Josh had heard about the vamp hunter. Saw him in action once. Heard that he was some kinda sorcerer with fire starting powers or something. He'd thought the stories were all bull. What he had seen was great gymnastics with the bow and arrow that was all.

The girl screamed again, her eyes wide and staring, when she saw the zombie's face.

He didn't think they were bull now.

At the sound, the vampire hunter looked at the girl, his eyes glowing green.

Numbed by fear, Josh let the girl go, backing away. "Hey man ... okay, we're letting her go."

**Don't hurt her! Filth. Destroy. It's time to gather. Time to purify. Let me go.**

The voices came again -- one pleading, another emotionless and raw with power.

Josh had only a moment to realise that Bob and Gondo were strangely silent. He realised that they were beside him -- as ashes. He didn't have time to scream as the Elemental reached out with blinding speed to decapitate him with a lightning-quick movement of his hand.

As Josh's head flew in the air, the Elemental shifted its gaze towards the girl, who sat slumped on the dirty alley floor in horror.

It dismissed her presence as unimportant, and turned away.

Alanna could only manage a croak when the dead man burst into flames the colour of fluorescent green. With a burst of sound, the creature disappeared from her sight, as if it had never been there.

The Elemental only cared that its mission was accomplished. A dead vessel did not stop it -- it only needed to trap the soul in the body to reappear again, to have the mind necessary to accomplish its mission.

But the soul was terrified, more terrified that it ever had been in its short corporeal life. At the moment when it was time for it to leave its dead body, the Elemental had reappeared, dragging it back into its dead body, forcing it to experience the sensation of a rotting body, of cold, congealed blood, of breathless lungs and an unbeating heart. It had recoiled in horror, writhed violently to escape the Elemental's grasp, but the Elemental did not care -- it did not have ability to care or empathise - for the mission was more important.

The soul, in essence, was just pure energy, a mysterious force that powered a human vessel. Its reasoning, personality and the importance of Wesley's memories had faded away with its death. Now, it was more like a formless being with only one purpose: to escape.

The Elemental ignored it and increased its speed. It ran down the streets of Avarice, a blinding blur of green fire which infected the neighbouring buildings with flame.

**The Gathering is near. The time is too close. We have wasted too much time already.**

Along the way, it was distracted by the denizens of the night that had crept out of the darkness to escape the flames. Without skipping a beat, it moved with blinding speed to kill them all -- a sharp look sent a vampire burning from within into dust; a quick snap of a hand decapitated a demon it didn't bother to identify; a sharp blow to the chest impaled another- they were all dead in less than a minute.

And it flew across Avarice, waging a streak of violence in its path, destroying the filth it was summoned to destroy -- all without losing sight of its original purpose: to destroy the Aman-yar.


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