This is Evra Von's experience of grieving after Darren dies.
I will always remember that night. The battle was over, and I sat in the tent with my family. Merla was sobbing on my shoulder, mourning for Shancus, our son. Lilia and Urcha sat huddled together, crying in each other’s arms. I was feeling pain beyond tears. We sat together, united in our grief.
Vancha March entered the tent with a grim look on his face. I could see from his eyes that he was crying too. “Erva.” he called out. “Can I see you for a minute?” I rose, and so did my family. “This isn’t something the kids should hear.” said Vancha. “Merla can come, but I think it’s better for her to stay with Lilia and Urcha.” She nodded, and went over to hug the children. Vancha walked out, meaning for me to follow him. I did, and we walked slowly through the campground. We walked for nearly twenty minutes, until we reached a river, not far from the stadium, where…. I can’t even bear to think it.
I turned to Vancha, and knew what he was going to say before he could speak. Desperate for any sliver of hope, I asked him the question I already knew the answer to. “Where’s Darren?” Vancha looked at me, tears sliding down his face. “Where’s Darren?” I repeated, more forcefully, but I was already beginning to cry. Vancha uttered the words I hoped never to hear. “He’s dead.” That did it. I had already lost Shancus, but now my best friend… I ran away, as fast as I could. “No!” I screamed at Vancha. “He can’t be dead! He can’t!” I ran down the edge of the river, trying to run from my pain. I glanced back, and saw Vancha, standing still, not bothering to come after me. I kept running until I couldn’t see him anymore, running from my tears.
I sank down in the roots of a willow and gazed at the river through my tears. Darren… he always seemed like a survivor. I truly thought he would make it. I just couldn’t believe he was gone. I took a deep breath and wiped the tears out of my eyes. When I took a clear look at the riverbank, I saw something that will haunt me forever. Washed up on the mud on the side of the river, was the lifeless body of Darren Shan.
If it had been anyone but Darren, I would turned and ran. But it was my best friend, and I couldn’t leave him the way he was, face down and halfway in the cold water. I approached him as tears ran down my face. I pulled him out of the water and flipped him face up. He was covered in mud and there was a large gash in his stomach. His eyes were open, staring without seeing. They were blank, no light, no life. I checked for a pulse, even though I knew I wouldn’t find one. I couldn’t help hoping. “Darren?” I whispered. The silence that followed was too much for me. I sank to my knees, and sobbed.
After a while, I felt someone tap my shoulder. I whirled around to see the pained face of Vancha March. He tried to pull me away from Darren, but I clung tight to my friend. He thought for a moment, and then spoke. “There is nothing you can do to help him now. We will take him back to the Cirque. But you have to let go.” I nodded at his words and stepped back from Darren. He seemed so young. To anyone who didn’t know him would think he was a teenager. Vancha looked back at me. “Go ahead.” he said. “I will bring Darren back. You have to get back to your family.” I nodded once, and headed back home. I glanced back once, and saw Vancha and my best friend disappear into the dark of the night.
I got home to find Merla watching Lilia and Urcha sleep. She looked up as I came in the tent. “What happened?” she questioned. I didn’t know if I could say it, but Merla had the right to know the truth. “It’s…. Darren” I replied, the last word barely a whisper. Merla saw my face contort with pain, and she asked me another question. “Is he… dead?” I knew I wouldn’t be able to answer aloud, so I nodded. She looked me dead in the eye. “He was a good man. A good vampire.” Saying what I was afraid of, I told her, “I wasn’t fighting for long. I could have helped him. I could have saved him.” She wrapped her arms around me. “No, Erva. There was nothing you could have done.” We then went off to bed, my mind plagued with nightmares of my best friend and his unseeing eyes.
We did not have a funeral for Shancus. That would have been too painful. Instead, he was buried by Truska, who had always been fond of him. I, however, had another funeral to attend. Vancha had taken Darren and placed him in the coffin that Mr. Crepsley used to sleep in. He put it on a sled and dragged it all the way to Vampire Mountain. I shivered despite my heavy overcoat. I would occasionally glance at the coffin being pulled by a barefoot Vancha, and be overcome by a wave of pain that had nothing to do with my frostbit face. Tears froze on my face and fell, leaving a trail of small salty ice drops all the way to Vampire Mountain.
After 2 weeks, we finally reached Vampire Mountain. The guards immediately let Vancha in, and he quickly explained that I was with him. Vancha pulled the coffin into the mountain, and the sled runners, which had frozen over, made no sound as they slid across the rock floor. Vancha immediately went down a hall which led to a large room. Two men across the room were standing around a pulsing rock. Both had one hand on it. Vancha leaned over to me and filled me in. The men were Arrow and Mika, Vampire Princes! Vancha loudly cleared his throat. The two men immediately turned around, and were instantly in front of us. I was only too used to vampire speed, as I had seen Mr. Crepsley perform many times. Arrow spoke quickly to Vancha. “Vancha! We have been searching for Darren through the Stone of Blood all day. We have caught no trace of his aura. Can you, perhaps, shed some light on the subject?” The dark irony of the situation was slightly amusing to Vancha. “Yeah, I know where he is.” He told Arrow and Mika. “By the gods of the vampires!” exclaimed Arrow. “Please, tell us where!” Vancha smiled humorlessly, and inclined his head towards the coffin. All the excitement faded from Arrow’s face. “You don’t mean…” he inquired. Vancha nodded grimly. I stared at my feet, unwilling to see the pain in Arrow’s eyes.
The next two days were a blur. I was introduced, arrangements were made, and vampires were sent out to spread the word and flit back to Vampire Mountain with Darren’s friends. I spent the days surrounded by fellow members of the Cirque. Merla had wanted to come, but I convinced her to stay with the kids. I tried to spend most of my time with Harkat, Vancha, and Debbie. Everything seemed to happen too fast, a whirl of pain and tears. Before I knew it, it was 3:00 am, Friday. The time of Darren’s funeral.
Everyone slowly walked through the halls. It seemed every vampire in the mountain had come to bid farewell to Darren. My footsteps felt robotic. I wanted to run, wanted to scream, I didn’t want believe that Darren was dead. I froze, unable to make myself go forward. I saw the crowd disappearing down the hall, and then three figures break off and head back to me. As they grew nearer, I saw their faces: Debbie, Harkat, and Vancha. Like mine, their eyes were filled with tears. But nevertheless, they grabbed my hands, and together, we walked down the hall to say goodbye to our best friend, Darren Shan.