Cover image for Immortal : a Buffy the vampire slayer novel
Immortal : a Buffy the vampire slayer novel
Golden, Christopher.
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Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, cl999.
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309 pages ; 23 cm.
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In the first hardcover installment of the bestselling "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series, Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder, coauthors of "The Watcher's Guide" ("Fans will suck this tome dry" -- "Entertainment Weekly)," present a supernatural tale that pits Buffy against the deadliest vampire yet: one who is..."Immortal."

During a routine slaying, Buffy Summers runs into a small group of vampires who seem to be out for more than the usual bite-and-suck. As the vamps scatter, one of them stays behind, willing to sacrifice itself to help the others escape. Though surprised -- vampires aren't exactly known for their generosity -- the Slayer doesn't waste time pondering the demon's motivation and kills it.

Or so she thinks.

But the next night a new vampire confronts the Chosen One and her friends. One who knows Buffy's name and can anticipate her basic attack. One who doesn't have the proper respect for Mr. Pointy. One whose name is Veronique.

"She cannot die. Strike her down, butlike the night she will always come again. And she will bring forth the end of Man...."

Every time Buffy kills her, Veronique rises again in

Author Notes

Christopher Golden is the co-author of The Watcher's Guide and several Buffy the Vampire Slayer books, and the author of many other adult and teen thrillers. He is also a comic-book writer and pop-culture critic.

(Bowker Author Biography) Writer Christopher Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, and later graduated from Tufts University.

Golden has held many positions in various places in the entertainment industry, including Billboard magazine, American Top 40, the Billboard Music Awards, and BPI Entertainment News. He was also editor of Cut!: Horror Writers on Horror Film, which won the Bram Stoker Award for Criticism.

Golden has written several young adult fiction books including Buffy the Vampire Slayer (co-wrote), X-Men: Mutant Empire, Of Saints and Shadows, Angels Souls and Devil Hearts, as well as several Star Wars projects.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bored by the monotonous 1940s New York City nightlife, longtime lovers and vampires Spike and Drusilla venture to war-ravaged Europe in search of Freyja's Strand, an ancient gold necklace that allows its wearer to shift forms, in Golden's (Immortal) fourth Buffy: The Vampire Slayer thriller. Acquiring the coveted artifact, however, requires doing the bidding of the comically portrayed ice demon Scrymir, who possesses the necklace yet is oblivious of the trinket's priceless powers. In order to transform the world into a realm of darkness in which he will be the ruler, Scrymir instructs Spike and Dru to kill all the Slayers-in-Waiting, a group of 20 or so girls spanning the globe who are trained to assume the role of Vampire SlayerDif and when the current slayer, Sophie Carstensen, should die. A number of suspenseful, gory battles occur as the charismatic Spike and his simpering girlfriend track each potential slayer and finally confront their greatest challengeDSophie herself. Meanwhile, an impatient Scrymir strikes the Council of Watchers (a group of seers who train slayers) in a frightful yet banal display reminiscent of numerous cartoon battles. Although Golden's characters are only marginally developed and his details at times unnecessarily gruesome, the narrative's swift momentum and engaging action sequences make for breezy entertainment. Avid fans of the series will buy the book, of course, but word of mouth could also bring newcomers to this mysterious world of dark creatures and cruel intentions. Agent, Lori Perkins. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Several months later... At first glance, the town of Sunnydale was like so many other small towns that made up the endless suburban sprawl of Southern California: it promised much but delivered very little. There were no real neighborhoods, only differing amounts of distance from the nearest freeway. Life went on at the other end of a commute: at the office, the magnet school, hangouts based not on proximity but on flash. Although the school board talked about the excellence of Sunnydale public education, everyone really believed the key to success was whom you knew and how charming you could be. But there were other things wrong with Sunnydale, in the light of which the worship of style over substance seemed the tiniest of faults. Unlike the other, similar towns that dotted the coast of Southern California, Sunnydale was cursed. Below the ground, the mouth of Hell sat dormant, ready to erupt at the appropriate provocation and to disgorge the demons, monsters, and forces of darkness that raged for the death of the world. Evil was drawn to the Hellmouth as though it were a magnet, drawn to Sunnydale, and it flourished there. Sunnydale was the epicenter of the dark forces that lurked in the shadows of the world, a constant threat to humanity. It was evil's very own ground zero. In its way, Sunnydale was the heart of darkness. And if you want to destroy a thing, you aim for the heart. Which was what had brought the Slayer, Buffy Summers, the Chosen One, to Sunnydale three years before, though she hadn't known it at the time. Forced to leave her old life in Los Angeles after her war against the darkness led her to burn down the high school gym, she and her mother had come to Sunnydale because Joyce Summers thought it the perfect place to start over. The perfect place to run an art gallery the way she'd always wanted. Buffy believed in that dream. She had been thrilled to have an opportunity to put the whole vampire thing behind her. She knew now that it was naïve to believe she could escape her destiny. But back then...for one brief, shining moment, she'd thought she could be a normal kid again. The first day at Sunnydale High, Rupert Giles, her new Watcher, had made himself known -? and any hope Buffy entertained of having a normal life had evaporated. Now, on this cold and gray February night, torrential rain bulleted the metal siding of the Bronze. Wind rattled the windows as if they were the vertebrae of a frozen, abandoned graveyard memory. The Bronze stank with the odor of wet wool laced with coffee. People dashed into the club completely drenched, because, as a rule, Southern Californians didn't own umbrellas. Or if they did, they never remembered to use them. Buffy slipped back into her chair at the Bronze, sipping at her newly purchased -? and lusciously warm -? mochaccino, and grinned broadly at her friend Xander Harris, who sat across the table from her. "Isn't this great? Flash-flood warnings, and I'm chillin' with my friends. No vamps to stake. No demons to destroy. Just me, my pals, and an extremely mediocre band." Xander nodded happily. "Yup. It must be great to be a Slayer in Southern California. When the weather's bad, even the forces of evil take the night off." "Actually, business has been a little slow all week," Buffy said. "I'm having trouble filling my empty nights. Almost." She raised her hands. "I gave myself a manicure last night." Then she made a guilty face at her best friend, Willow Rosenberg, who slid, burdened with a pair of huge coffee cups, into an empty seat at the high, round table. "Of course, the manicure was accompanied by the whole study thing. Since I would never want you to feel that all the time you've spent tutoring me is wasted." "My time is freely given," Willow announced, sliding one of the cups to Xander, who had held the table for them. "And the band's not that bad." She paused. "Which is actually the definition of mediocre, so, okay." She sipped her latte and smiled in the direction of the coffee counter, where her boyfriend, Oz, was buying some pastries. As if he sensed her gaze, he looked up and smiled back, blue eyes shining. Buffy was wistful. She could hardly remember what it was like to be in a relationship that wasn't tormented and awkward. Oz was a werewolf three nights a month, but that was the extent of the major weirdness between them. It wasn't like her and Angel's deal. "Uh-oh, your smile is fading," Xander chided. "Remember, Wendy, if we don't think happy thoughts, the pixie dust won't work, and we won't be able to fly anymore." "Hey, I'm weightless," Buffy protested. She took a sip of her mochaccino to prove it. She licked her lips and sighed with contentment. "Time off from slayage doesn't get any better than this." "Or shorter," Xander said slowly as he gestured toward the entrance to the Bronze. "No," Buffy moaned. "No, no, no." Giles was closing his umbrella as he scanned the crowd. The sort-of-haphazardly-dashing forty-something Brit's expression was serious in the extreme, and that, combined with the fact that he usually avoided the Bronze like the plague, was a fairly good indication that he was here on business. "You guys distract him while I hide under the table," Buffy grumped. Giles spotted her and headed on over. Willow frowned in sympathy, and Xander wagged his finger in Giles's direction. "This Slayer's out of service," he said by way of greeting. "In serious need of downtime." "Hi, Giles," Buffy said wanly. "What's the haps, not that I really want to know?" "I am sorry, Buffy." At least he was contrite. "I've just learned that the medical examiner conveniently failed to mention to the media that Jackson Kirby's neck was torn open and he was drained of blood." Jackson Kirby had been something of a local celebrity. A homeless panhandler, he had been a fixture on the corner of Avenida Ladera and Escondido Boulevard for seven years. "WILL WORK FOR FOOD," the sign around his neck had read. Whether anyone ever actually called him on the offer seemed unclear. He had been found dead in an alley early in the morning. With no family and -? according to the local news -? nothing suspicious about his death, he'd been quickly interred at city expense. "He was buried at Restfield," Giles continued. "If he rises, we need to make sure he doesn't stay risen." Sigh. Life as the Slayer, Buffy thought glumly. "Don't you think he'll wait until it stops raining?" she asked. She started pulling on her raincoat. "I've got my car," he told her. "And an umbrella," she noted. She picked up her coffee cup and examined it. "And, happily, I have finished my piping-hot beverage." "So, the glass is half full," he ventured. She gave him a look. "One-third," he amended. "Hey, that's my line," Xander said. "Buffy, you want some company?" "Xand, that'd be above and beyond the call of duty." She flashed him a wan smile. "But you're sweet to offer." "I've got nothing better," he insisted. "It's just one dusting. It'll be over like that." She snapped her fingers. "So, I'm thinking, company," Xander insisted. Oz walked up with a buttery croissant on a plate, which he offered to Willow. "Is there a rumble?" he asked. "We're rumble-free," Buffy assured him. "Or, rather, you are." Then she shrugged and said to Xander, "If you're all pumped to be wet and cold and bored, who am I to stop you?" Xander smiled and hopped off his stool. To Oz and Willow, he said, "Duty calls." Willow pulled off a piece of croissant and popped it into her mouth. As she chewed, she said, "Do you want us to come with? Cuz we're happy there." Buffy smiled. "You guys have something better to do." "Hey," Xander protested, miffed. Then he shrugged. "Okay, I was first to comment on my lack of social engagement, but let's not all rush to help out." Giles cleared his throat. "Let's be off, shall we? I imagine this won't take long." "Yeah, that's what they all say," Xander said. Then he flushed. "Forget I said that." Buffy smiled slightly and picked up her Slayer's bag. Poor Xander. She led the way out of the Bronze just as Cordelia Chase sauntered in, killer in a trench coat and heeled boots, completely dry. Xander tensed at her side, but Buffy didn't let on that she'd noticed. A moonstruck kid about half as tall as Cordelia carefully lowered his umbrella from the heights of her hair. A single droplet of rainwater tapped the end of Cordelia's nose, and she glared at the guy. He withered. "I'm sorry, Cordelia." She gave him an impatient scowl. He stared at her. "Coffee?" she prodded. "Muffin?" He snapped his fingers. "Double latte, nonfat milk. Peach, nonfat." "And?" She raised an imperious brow. He strained for the answer. Looked not so joyful. Here he had made it all the way to Final Jeopardy, and he was drawing a blank. "Possibly, two packets of blue sugar substitute," Xander suggested. Cordelia moved one shoulder. The boy stared at her as if he had never heard of blue sugar substitute. Then his lips parted. "Oh!" He scampered away. "He must have a really nice car," Xander said evenly. "His father owns the Porsche dealership." Cordelia nodded at Buffy and Giles, removing her coat. "What exciting adventure are you running off to? Another tour of the lovely Sunnydale sewer system?" Buffy shook her head. "Naw, we did that last night, saving the world from the Unbengi Serpent." "Well, on behalf of the world, thanks. And excuse me. You're blocking everyone's view of my outfit." Xander huffed and rolled his eyes at Buffy. Buffy was thinking up comebacks, but Giles tapped his watch and said, "We really must be going." "Have fun." Cordelia gave them a wave. She had not spoken one single word to Xander, nor even acknowledged his presence. "Porsches. How common," Xander grumbled. Xander and Giles flanking her, Buffy made a point of giving Cordelia a wide berth as they exited the Bronze. The rain was really coming down, and even the short walk to the car was daunting. Giles unlocked the doors to his ancient gray Citroën. Xander climbed into the backseat while Buffy sat shotgun up front with Giles. There was that inevitable exciting moment when she wondered if the Gilesmobile would start. Once again, Buffy was astonished when the engine sputtered to life. Then they were off.* * * Alone at home, paperwork spread before her on the kitchen table, Joyce Summers listened to the rain and wondered what time Buffy would be home. As she stared at the night-blacked windows, she felt another cough coming on and tried to stifle it. She had been coughing for days, and sniffling, and now was the worst time to get a cold. There was so much to be done at the gallery. She had been working for more than two months to mount the Malaysian shadow puppet exhibition and organize the artist's reception. Working too hard, that was a given. But it was going to be a wonderful exhibit. She sipped her tea, which had grown lukewarm. She didn't feel well at all, and, truth be told, she wanted Buffy's company as much as she wanted to be reassured that her child was safe and warm. It was hard to be a mother, harder still to be the mother of the Chosen One, the only girl in all her generation to be pitted against the forces of evil. At first, Joyce had not believed Buffy's story about being a vampire Slayer, to the extent of pretty much forcing her out of the house. Her reward for that lack of faith was an entire summer spent hoping and praying that her absent daughter was not dead and that she would come home. But as the days and nights had dragged by in one long, agonizing vigil, momentary flashes of debilitating panic -? she's been killed, she's never coming back -- pierced her grim determination not to break down. It had never occurred to her until then that she might actually outlive her child, a nightmare reserved, she had assumed, for bad parents. Careless parents, neglectful parents. Despite her work with the runaway shelter, she couldn't shake the notion that if something...bad happened to Buffy, it would be her own fault entirely. But feeling guilty had not been a priority. Finding Buffy had. Giles scoured the country in search of her, while Joyce took on what was to her the more difficult task of waiting by the phone. Jumping at every sound, imagining she had heard the door open. As she was doing now. How could any mother stand by, night after night, while her child was in danger? And yet that was precisely what was required of her. She coughed again. She was tired, and her chest was very sore. Her throat was raw. All she wanted to do was sleep. Cold, she thought glumly. And no wonder, with all this rain. Her mind drifted back to happier times, when Buffy was little and she and Hank thought happily-ever-after applied to all marriages, especially theirs. Her ex-husband had sworn by chicken soup whenever she was sick, and he would bring her a piping-hot bowl on the wicker tray he had brought home from the Philippines. Saltines, she remembered. Then the marriage died, rather quickly, and they were divorced. He had remained in Los Angeles. And though she knew Buffy blamed herself for her parents' breakup, the two of them had no one to blame but themselves. They were the adults. She was the child. Restless, feeling bilious, Joyce got up and walked to the refrigerator, mostly for something to do. She wasn't particularly hungry. It occurred to her that she hadn't had much of an appetite lately. Maybe I should just go to bed, she thought. But ever since she had learned that Buffy was the Slayer, she had made it a policy not to rest until her girl was home. She coughed again, much harder. Grabbing a tissue from the box beside her calculator, she put it to her lips. The copper taste of blood seeped into her mouth, and she daubed the tissue against her tongue. Her breath caught in her throat as she examined it. I'm coughing up blood, she thought. There really is something wrong with me. The thought terrified her, not only for her sake but for Buffy's. I can not get sick. She needs me too much. But this wasn't mere paranoia on Joyce's part. The blood was real. She had never coughed blood before, and she knew that such things didn't happen unless there was something really wrong. And suddenly she felt small and cold and did not want to be alone on a stormy night in a house in Sunnydale, with blood in her mouth and her daughter patrolling the dark for monsters to kill. She rose and stared at the window, willing Buffy to come home. Or, at the very least, to be safe. Buffy muttered to Xander, "Sing it with me now. 'It never rains in Southern California.' " "It's our state song," Xander said brightly. They had been huddling with Giles under his extra-large black umbrella for almost half an hour. Buffy stood close to Xander, a stake clutched to her chest. They had run out of small talk -? or at least the other two had -? and Xander knew prattling could be annoying, though he had no clue why, and now they waited quietly, each with his own thoughts. Lightning flashed, and the rain poured down. They stood there. We look like an Edward Gorey print, Xander thought, and he was just about to share this observation -? which would no doubt prompt Giles to ask what exactly Xander knew about Edward Gorey -? when the mound of mud on top of Jackson Kirby's economy-style gravesite started to move. "Finally," Buffy said. She started to dart from beneath the umbrella. Giles said, "Oh, here, we'll move," and the threesome edged in concert closer to the mound. Rainwater sluiced down through the newly created rings of mud as the newborn vampire began to rise, like a baby chick breaking open its shell. Or maybe not so much, Xander decided, as one pale hand burst through, followed by the other. Then the head emerged, fully vamped out?ridged forehead, wild, glowing eyes, and the feral, senseless grin of a mouth stuffed with fangs. The demon that now inhabited Kirby's corpse saw them and growled savagely, renewing its efforts to leave the grave. As soon as its chest was clear, Buffy murmured, "'Scuse," to Giles. "Mmm? Oh, yes, certainly," he said, stepping out of her way. She stooped down, just about to run the newborn through, when something came flying through the cemetery and launched itself at the three of them. A vampire. Three, actually. They seemed to flow through the darkness and the rain, attacking quickly and viciously. Buffy, Xander, and Giles all moved to defend themselves. The Slayer sized up her opponents -? one petite blond female and two males, one thin but tautly muscular, one large, swarthy, and bearded. And the newbie, who had cleared the grave, made four. With a mindless snarl, he rushed Buffy and the group from the opposite direction. The hairy one lunged for Buffy; she dodged and shot out an elbow to the back of the head which sent him into the mud. "I'll take the new kid," Xander shouted, and pulled out a stake from his jacket. Giles was likewise armed. Dropping the umbrella to the ground, he pulled out a cross as well and fended off the thin vampire as it rushed him. Recoiling, it turned as if in search of easier prey and spotted Xander, who had rushed forward to take out the newbie. The vampire grabbed his shoulders from behind. It clamped one hand on his forehead and caught him under the jaw with its other, arching his head back. Snarling, it bared its fangs. The female vampire moved on Buffy, circling her, expertly dodging each kick and body blow Buffy attempted. Buffy swung again, and the vampire laughed. We're in trouble, Buffy thought, casting an anxious glance at Xander. Then she saw that the olive-skinned, bearded vamp was deliberately backing Giles up in the direction of the newborn, whose only impulse was feeding as soon as possible. "Giles, behind you!" she cried. She feinted another side kick at the blonde, who took the bait, jumping out of range as Buffy took off in the opposite direction. Instead of aiding Giles, who was not in immediate danger -? he had, like, two or three seconds before that happened -? she charged the vampire who held Xander in a death grip, fully expecting the staking to be a simple matter. But at just the right moment, the vampire released Xander and ran to the blond female's side. Together they came at Xander and Buffy. And Giles's three seconds were up. The newbie shrieked while the swarthy one pushed Giles toward him, bellowing, "Eat, brother!" They were the first words any of the vampires had spoken since the battle began. "So, not deaf-mute vampires after all," Buffy said as she struck the thin male in the face. "What shall we say? You are beneath notice," the blonde replied in an exotic accent, thrusting Buffy out of the way in order to save the thin vamp. Buffy's back slammed into a gravestone, and she grunted as the air was expelled from her lungs. Then she popped back up into fighting stance. The female, obviously the leader, glanced quickly at the others. "Konstantin, Ephialtes, what is wrong with you? Kill them, and be done with it. We have no time for such things." Buffy frowned. "Nice accent. Foreign talent. Did you check in when you came to town? Cuz, you see, the local vamps don't let just anybody chomp people in their territory." "This is my territory now," the blonde retorted. "No, sorry, it's really not." Buffy jumped into the air, executed a three-sixty, and finally landed a good solid kick to the side of the female's head. She grunted and staggered back. Buffy took advantage by going on the offensive, pummeling her with brutal punches to her face and neck. The vampire seemed slightly off balance, but she was obviously ready for more. Buffy glanced quickly around. Xander was once again under attack by the swarthy vampire, the one the blonde had called Ephialtes. And the newbie, Jackson Kirby, was doing its best to grab onto Giles, who ducked down just as it tried to throw its arms around him. It lost its balance, and Giles aimed his stake for its chest from his squatting position. Good, Giles, she thought. But then Ephialtes lashed out and drove Giles to the ground. He grabbed the Watcher's arm and dragged him through the mud of the grave and across to the other side, where Jackson Kirby licked his chops. Meanwhile, Xander was grappling with the thin vampire, Konstantin, his stake pointed toward the sky instead of directly at the vampire's chest, as it should be. Worried about her friends, Buffy almost didn't realize how much danger she was in. "How dare you ignore me!" the female roared, and struck out at Buffy. The Slayer took the hit, went down on the wet ground, and rolled with the momentum. When she came up, she was only a couple of feet away from Giles. This is harder than it should be, Buffy thought as she went to Giles's aid. Flashes of lightning in quick succession lent the scene a strobelike effect as Buffy took Ephialtes down. She raised her stake above her head, anticipating the dusting, but then the female was there, wrenching the stake from her grasp. "I think not," she said. Buffy pumped forward, her palms flattening on the male vampire's chest as she threw her weight on her hands and brought her legs up behind her, smashing her heels into the blonde's face. When she dropped to her feet, she leaped over the vampires' fallen leader and went to Giles's aid again. Jackson Kirby was about to take a bite out of the Watcher. Giles tried to stake him, but the newborn vampire grabbed his wrists. "I'll take that," Buffy said to Giles, yanking the stake out of his hand. She pushed him out of the way and ran the newbie through. The thing that had once been Jackson Kirby exploded in a shower of ash that was immediately saturated by the rain and absorbed into the mud. "Thank you," Giles said politely, and went to help Xander. "Kinda what I do." She smiled briefly and gave the swarthy vampire, who was trying to sit up, a good, stiff kick in the head. The force sent him rolling, sprawling facedown in the mud. That, more than the kick, seemed to piss him off. "Who is this girl?" he said to the blonde, scrambling to his knees. "How does she dare get in our way?" "Giles, note. We need a better publicist," Buffy sighed, and kicked the vampire in the head again. "And speaking of daring, how dare you guys spoil our evening? You keep this up, I'm going to miss Felicity." She whipped her arm down to dust the dude -? easily done -? but the blonde intercepted her with a body block to the side. Buffy sprawled but managed to trip the blonde as she charged. Then they were all down there in the mud, the dark, bearded vampire and his blond mistress, and Buffy. The female climbed onto Buffy, who tried to force her off but without any luck. She was latched on tight. Buffy staggered to her feet, fighting to break free. Suddenly, Ephialtes loomed up before her, and she wondered if it was all over. Which was when Giles slapped a cross on the back of Ephialtes's neck. Without a stake, it was his only weapon, and he made good use of it. Ephialtes cried out and turned to crack Giles hard across the cheek. Then it was two on two, Xander and Giles against the two male vampires. Buffy grunted angrily and thrust herself backward, slamming into Jackson Kirby's headstone. The female vampire grunted, and they both tumbled down into the disturbed earth that had been Kirby's grave. The Slayer was on top. "Ephialtes, Konstantin, go!" shouted the female. Now, Buffy thought, and brought the stake down swiftly. Just before the point struck home, the vampire smiled sort of oddly and said, "Until next time, Slayer." Then she burst into a sodden pile of dust. "In your dreams, moron," Buffy spat. She straightened, ready for more, only to realize that the other two vampires were trying to escape. Xander and Giles -? bless their souls -? were giving chase. Buffy joined the hunt, leaping over broken gravestones and exposed tree roots. The rain was so heavy it obscured Buffy's vision; she narrowly missed an overhanging branch until it was illuminated by a flash of lightning. Thunder rumbled, the bass accompaniment to Buffy's steady footfalls in the sticky, slippery mud. The vampires were faster than Xander and Giles, and they had had a head start. When she caught up with her guys, she stopped, muttered, "Damn," and scanned the area in case the two vampires had come with any friends who were slower. "Two out of four's not bad," Xander ventured. She gave him a look. "Don't let it get around." "For good money, I won't. Or a massage." He flinched at her glare. "Or a quarter." "Put it on my tab." "Well, that was rather more arduous than I would have expected," Giles said as they trudged back toward the umbrella. "Same here. They weren't exactly amateurs," Buffy said. She smiled at Xander as they ducked under the tree branch at the same time. "I'm glad you showed." "I'm glad you're glad. Personally, I'm freezing. I'm going to -- " At that moment, Konstantin dropped from the upper branches of the same tree and took off. Buffy couldn't help a brief smile -? I've got him this time -? and hauled after him. "Go, Buffy!" Xander shouted. She pulled out all the stops, ticked at having lost him once, determined not to let it happen a second time. Boots, meet mud, she thought as her bounty from a recent mall excursion with her mother was soaked through, and she felt the cold, slimy mud seeping into her socks. The vampire looked over its shoulder and kept going. All it had had to do to survive was stay hidden in the tree for about two more minutes. But no. That flight-or-fright thing gets 'em every time. Or fright-or-fight. Or whatever. Feeling smug, Buffy matched its pace, then put on a burst of speed to get the job done. Lightning flashed, momentarily disorienting her, and she sailed along blindly for a moment before the ground seemed to open up in front of her. Buffy stumbled, fell, slammed against a wall of earth, and then landed butt-first in an open grave. "Buffy!" It was Giles. As she sputtered and fumed, he and Xander peered over the edge. Giles had pulled out a flashlight, which he was shining down at her. "Oh, dear," he murmured. "Hey, no big," she shot back. "I've fallen into freshly dug graves before. I just don't know why they didn't cover it." "Merely a shot in the dark," Giles ventured, "but I don't believe the they you refer to dug this grave at all." Confused, Buffy looked at him more closely. He gestured to the gravestone behind her. She turned to see that the date of death on the stone was six months old. "Wait a minute. That means...someone dug him up?" "So it would appear," Giles agreed. "Certainly, no vampire waits six months to return to life. The hunger, never mind the condition of the body, would not allow such a thing. Add in the obvious 'freshly dug' quality you mentioned, and, well, it seems we have a grave robber on our hands." "Um, would it make me less manly if I said eeew?" Xander asked. "Considerably," Giles informed him. Xander nodded. "Right. Of course. Which is why I would never. So who'd want to dig up dead bodies?" Buffy sighed. "In this town? If we rounded up the usual suspects, there wouldn't be any town left." Xander brightened. "Now, there's a happy thought." Copyright © 1999 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Immortal by Christopher Golden, Nancy Holder All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.