*It goes without saying that The Originals – the story and all related characters – belong to the writers, cast and crew of the show. I claim no ownership or association to the TV series titled The Originals. This was written by a fan solely for the enjoyment of other fans.*

Chapter 0

"A red sun rises . . . blood has been spilled this night."

LotR: The Two Towers

My name is Rachel Harding.

This is not my story.

Too many people became a part of what would happen. Too many lives interconnected and I would come to learn that every moment; every single person had a purpose in what was to happen. We were all a part of a greater game, and as vital as I was to the end of it . . . this belongs to us all.

But I am the one telling it.

Nothing that comes without cost holds its worth, and what I've found is infinitely precious. This is a story that needs to be told. One that should not be forgotten; lost to the sands of time. That inexorable forward march. One day it'll be like we never existed but this document will survive and with it, everything that we were.

I've known pain. Loss.

Felt the fear, the despair, and the doubt that would follow us for so long and yet I can't bring myself to regret the decision that brought me to New Orleans that fateful summer. Because I've also known love. Experienced a depth of friendship and loyalty that I'd only ever read about.

I've felt magic. Real magic. This bright power coming up out of the earth, cool darkness and molten heat.

In all my life I could not have imagined that I would become a part of something so incredible.

And none of it would have been possible had my cousin not disappeared in May of that same year. Sounds like such a terrible thing to say but that doesn't make it any less true.

Erin Jameson.

She was more than family. She was my best friend. No one in the world I trusted more and yet thinking back, I realize that things had changed between us long before she went missing.

Erin was fearless.

An active participant in her own life. She was smart, and kind, and vibrant . . . and where I was practical, she was driven. She had the most incredible faith in herself; not arrogance. She worked hard, studied hard, and things were good.

She lived in New Orleans with her mother, having moved there shortly after her father's death when we were kids. A fresh start, my aunt would say, away from the memory of the man they both loved. My father joined them shortly after; moving south to be closer to his sister. My parents' divorce leaving me with my mom in Seattle.

Three thousand miles and clear across the country.

Every summer in July, for two weeks, I visited my dad. Spent time with my cousin and my aunt. My family divided but still whole. I never felt the distance.

With the things I know now, I can't help but wonder if I was being drawn t o the city. Like a part of me was waiting. Patient, unawares, but still . . . waiting. Subconsciously aware that this is where I needed to be.

And then my cousin fell off the face of the Earth.

She was just gone.

She wasn't the first. She wouldn't be the last. The papers were calling them the Seventeen Missing – seventeen people disappeared in the space of a few weeks. Abductions so sudden it was as if these people were walking out of their own lives.

No witnesses. No evidence of what happened to them.

They were just gone.

Aliens were blamed. So was voodoo. The police suspected a network of human traffickers working within the city and for the first time in years, I meant to stay home that summer. I really did.

Instead I went to New Orleans . . .

. . . unaware of the terrible sequence of events already set in motion.


A/N – "A Red Sun Rises" began just over two years ago; as an idea that was too big – too elaborate – for the amount of planning I'd originally put into it. The story got so lost, the plot so muddled that it was clear I'd fumbled my own epic.

When I made the decision to overhaul this story – to return to my prologue and rewrite A Red Sun Rises from the very beginning . . . the sheer amount of work this would take nearly

this would take nearly made me abandon this fic but very much like Rachel herself, I found that I couldn't do that.

I could not let this one go.

This re-write is designed to better reflect my original vision. I want to do justice to this story the way I see it in my own mind. The way I feel it in my heart. And, with the blessing of the writer-gods, you'll all come to love this story as deeply as I do. ^_^