D encounters some strange competition.
The young girl stood frozen in place. The night was no place for her and she knew it.
"Where are you?" She whispered desperately. She peered through the trees with tears beginning to form in her eyes. It wasn't supposed to be like this. She thought.
Suddenly a snap of a twig behind her slammed her heart against her chest. Was it nobility or perhaps some monster left over from their wars. In the night even the shadows could sometimes bear shape and attack passerby. She spun in horror only to find her companion smiling devilishly. His dark eyes shone with mirth that she did not find funny at all.
"Did you think I would leave you out here?" He laughed. She tried to catch her heaving breath and prayed she would not end up crying.
"Where did you go? I turned around and you were gone! I told you this wasn't a good idea!" She yelled at him forgetting her fear momentarily. He only laughed more.
"Oh come on. It was just a joke. Seriously, I won't leave again I promise."
"Forget it. I'm leaving." She turned away from him and began walking. Her blonde hair hung low and swung back and forth with her footsteps. He couldn't help but watch her ass as she walked away.
"Wait. I'm sorry. Come on. I didn't even give you your present yet." He waited a moment and sure enough she stopped and turned.
"Do you really have a present for me?" She asked. He moved to her and nodded.
"I've been saving it all month for you. I wanted to wait for your birthday you know. That's why I asked you to come out here. It had to be private." She looked at his apprehensively at first, but smiled when he took her hand.
He was warm and strong like a young man should be. The girl blushed just a bit in the darkness. He was the first boy to hold her hand. She suspected what he had in mind. She tried not to show her excitement. "Just close your eyes." As she did he leaned down to kiss her. With his eyes closed as well he did not realize she was gone until he stumbled forward. The boy opened his eyes and she was gone. Vanished into thin air without a sound. He shivered and whispered her name, but no answer came. A second later he ran back to the village shivering with fear.
On the frontier rain can be life giving or death. The water is needed badly by farmers across the land who have so little fertile ground to work with. Unfortunately too much rain often caused flash floods; sometimes destroying whole towns. That evening the cold, grey clouds broke open with a suddenness that guaranteed floods in the plains. Thick mud began to form from the dirt path winding through the hills. The young man on horseback didn't seem to notice. The road he traveled on wove its way through a sparse forest and the leaves overhead did little to shield him from the rain. Yet he did not pull his long, black coat tighter to his body nor adjust his hat to keep the wet from his eyes. This was no ordinary traveler. In the whispered gossip of many frontier towns he was known as Vampire Hunter D; whose beauty was as dangerous as his blade.
The darkness of night quickly followed the downpour. D's head turned ever so slightly as if listening to something in the distance. A few minutes later a rider raced towards him from out of the darkness. On nights such as this it was not uncommon for bandits to attack lone travelers. Those few people who could survive in the wild, living off stolen goods, were distant eyed with hunger. Some stories even told of bandits who ate the flesh of the men they killed.
As the rider approached D did not stray from his path. The rider pounded past D never slowing for a moment. In the moonlight D glanced at the shadowed figure. A woman rode in the saddle crouched low for speed. Her knuckles shone white where she gripped the reins. Black hair whipped out behind her like a dark cloak. How the woman rode as she did was impossible to understand. It was clear she could not see the road for here eyes were covered by a ragged blindfold. If this surprised D or even made him a little curious it was not apparent on his face. His perfect features never changed as the rider sailed past and disappeared into the darkness.
"What do you suppose that was all about?" A voice asked, seemingly coming from the air beside D.
"Probably headed to the Village of Burzen. It's on top of the mountain ahead." D answered.
"Well hell she's in a hurry. Traveling alone at night too. Damn dangerous for her. Wonder if there's trouble." A cruel smile spread over the tiny face that emerged from D's left hand. D stared off into the night where the girl rode on ahead. His dark eyes set like jewels in the midst of ivory betrayed no emotion. Was it curiosity? Or perhaps the prospect of a job that spurred D to race off in the direction of the town. "Wait what are you doing?" The face yelled in the wind.
"Shortcut." D replied.
At the speed D's horse could travel it was obvious he would beat the girl to town. No cyborg horse could run like that, but the unearthly aura that surrounded D seemed to empower the steed. What would take the girl another three hours would take D only two.
The rains had not reached the village yet when the men standing guard at the gate first saw him. Suspicion flitted through their eyes and they raised their shotguns simultaneously. It was easy to see the two guards were brothers. The Jensen's both wore their curly brown hair cut just above the brow. From beneath low bangs their cool blue eyes tracked D as he approached.
"You the hunter?" Shouted the older of the brothers, Thomas.
"Of course he's the hunter. Who else would be damned fool enough to come out here in the middle of the night?" Chided the younger, Joseph. D made no move to reply, but simply rode straight up to the gate. "Well are you going to let him in or what?" The older man looked down over the high wall where he stood and gave D a good once over. "Yeah I guess he looks ok. If he was that vampire he'd probably already attacked us. Let 'im in." Joseph activated the release mechanism for the gate and it slowly wheeled back from D's path.
"The sheriff is waiting for you. Don't give us no trouble and we won't give you none." D didn't acknowledge the comment. He rode straight through the ten foot high gate into town.
"Well that there is a chatty fellow." Thomas. Commented. He placed a rolled cigarette between his lips and watched D wander towards the Sheriffs office.
The office was small, but cozy. In the corner the sheriff nudged the radiator up a few degrees as the cold breeze from the storm rolled in. Behind him the door swung open.
"Joseph, how many times have I told ya to..." The words caught in his throat as he turned to face D. "You ain't the hunter I called." A shiver ran over his skin and he reached for his laser pistol.
"I am a hunter none the less." D offered as an explanation. The sheriff lowered his hand, but kept it close to his hip for the moment. D closed the door as the first of the rain began to fall outside.
"Well I have a hunter coming, but seeing as you're here first I guess I can't let you go to waste." The sheriff took a seat behind his desk and took a long look at D. "You'll have all the women in frenzy, won't you? By gods. I don't think I've ever met a fellow quite as handsome as you. Pardon me. I'm Sheriff Hurst." He held out his hand a bit nervously and when D did not take it Hurst almost looked relieved. "Well you want to know about the problem now don't you? One of the girls from the town went missing a few weeks ago. Stolen right in front of my son. They were out on some damned fool walk at night. Probably Cam's idea. He's full of youth I tell ya. Anyway, not too long after one of the patrols saw lights in the keep on top of the mountain. There hasn't been anyone there for years. I figure it's nobility behind it. That's why I called for a hunter."
D listened in silence. Outside the rain had picked up considerably. Hurst stared over D's shoulder to the window beyond. "Looks like there might be a landslide in our future. I'd better get the boys out there and reinforce the wall. We don't usually get rain like this." Hurst sighed deeply. Over the sound of the falling rain yelling could be heard at the gate. "Well now what are those boys up to? Excuse me a moment." Hurst got up to leave, but D had already stepped outside. The rain added to the darkness considerable. While the sheriff had to squint with a hand held over his eyes, D saw clearly that someone was trying to enter the village.
"Whaddya mean YOU'RE the hunter? We just let the hunter in!" Joseph shouted. The sheriff ran up to the gate and waved to the young men.
"Let him in boys. That's the other hunter." Thomas looked questioningly at Hurst, but opened the gate anyway. In the entrance was the young girl who D had seen on the road. She must have taken another short cut because she had arrived much sooner than D might have thought. She walked her horse in and stopped before the sheriff.
"I am the hunter. Who do I speak to about my mark?" She had a rich, silky voice of an older woman, but looked no older than seventeen. The bindings on her face could not hide the angelic beauty that peeked out from the mass of dark ringlets of hair.
"I'm Sheriff Hurst. Let's talk inside; out of the rain." The girl dismounted and followed Hurst back to the comfort of his office. D followed a few feet behind. The girl moved with ease despite the blindfold. One might think she had some magical power that allowed her to see without her eyes. Inside the office it was a different story. As she crossed the threshold her hand shot out and she began feeling her way to a chair opposite Hurst's desk. "Well mam' I'm sure you are a competent hunter to be out on your own, but you do seem to be at a disadvantage. I mean, you are blind aintcha?" The girl frowned at the sheriff.
"I can do my job perfectly well thank you. Now just tell me what I need to know so I can get on with it." She spat the words out with venom. The sheriff glanced at D as if for help, but there was none to be found from the silent hunter.
"Well, on of our girls is missing. We suspect the culprit to be living in the keep on top of the mountain. It's not an easy journey. Even for a sighted man. I have this hunter here who could..."
"You don't need another hunter. I'm the one you called and I'll do the job. You can just run home now hunter." She stood and faced D.
"The name is D. I have been offered the job as you have." The sheriff nodded and then thought better of himself.
"That's right. I figured since he was here first that I'd give him a shot at it too. I guess whoever gets it done can have the reward money. That's fair right."
The girl snarled and moved for the door. As she walked out she shot back, "I'm all the hunter you need. It's my job. Remember that D." Hurst shook his head and sighed deeply once again.
"Well I guess you have your work cut out for you. She's a fiery one. I doubt she'll live up to her word. I really just can't believe she thinks she can climb that mountain. Anyhow, you can have her room at the inn I guess. You're a dhampir right? I guess it'll be ok. I'll tell Pete to let you in. Anything else you need?" D did not respond, but instead walked out into the pouring rain.