Barros Toldar, a budding esteemed Hunter from Tyrain now lay prone, in the mud underneath a magnificent oak overlooking the now darkened glade. He blended with rocks, and shadows in his Hunters apparel, a light set of distinct chain mail made only for Hunters. He watched the exchange between the two hooded figures just off the road hidden by the glade of trees to ordinary people. Barros, however, was not normal, and his enhanced hearing and vision could let him observe the meeting from a distance. One of the figures broke off the conversation abruptly turning in the direction that Barros hid. His cowl and cloak kept him hidden from sight, and the earth camouflaged his scent.
The taller being removed his hood and Barros could now see his ghostly white skin. He was a Shade. This Vampire killed the most Hunters, vanishing, killing the Hunter with a quick thrust of their fangs. Their strong scene of smelt could detect a Hunter from kilometers away they were traditionally used as scouts. Shades were the bloodhounds of the Vampire blight. Barros knew they could now see him as both Vampires slowly walked towards him.
Abandoning cover he rose up into a crouching position dropping the armored cowl to hang around his neck. They saw him more clearly now and began running faster than any human. Barros strung his crossbow, the special, automatic version that Hunters carried. Checking the iron sights to make sure they were inline Barros fired his first bolt at the Shade leading the charge. The bolt swung wide and buried itself into the Shade’s shoulder. The Shade dropped trying to pull the bolt out of his shoulder in order to remove the Fyndfire, a deadly poison that reacted with the dead skin of the Vampires.
With the Shade anticipated for a moment, Barros used the delay to readjust the sights and fire a second bolt at the other Vampire. The bolt took the Vampire in the throat, making it burst into flames leaving the clothing behind. Barros spun towards the Shade, but it had vanished. He drew his sword out from its scabbard, the bare steel whispering along the leather. He swung it twice around his wrist before the Shade struck. The Shade leapt baring his fangs towards Barros’s neck.
Dropping to the ground, Barros drove his sword up into the Shade’s stomach as it flew over head. The Fyndfire was not enough to kill a Shade, however, it caused considerable pain. The Shade howled as the bane of its partner was buried inside it’s body. Barros knelt down over the crippled Shade, pulling a dagger from his leg strap. He thrust it into the Shade’s heart keeping it pinned on the ground. Drawing his sword from the Shade Barros stood up and bought the blade down upon the Shade’s neck severing it from the body, finally killing the fiend.
Looking up at the trees in disgust Barros realized that neither of these where the Countess he had been hunting for nearly six months. The Hunter Board had summoned him and told him that he had the best chance of bringing down one of the most dangerous Vampires the world had ever seen in modern times. This Countess went by the name of Sophia and had evaded Barros at every turn, quickly becoming the most elusive foe Barros had ever hunted. She had information that the Hunters needed.
He realized these Vampires might have been meeting here on her business. Fyndfire only destroyed the flesh of Vampires and their garments was still intact. Emptying every pocket, Barros quickly found a small folded piece of yellow parchment in the bottom pocket of the Shade’s coat. Her wrath will fall upon Sauria first, overtaking the world in a haze of blood.
In his young career, Barros had already killed over a dozen Counts and in turn thought to have been killed. The Board chose Barros because he was a survivor, he always finished the job. Now it was time for him to move south to Sauria.
The windmill in which Barros took refuge had only recently shutdown. It was a dark and humid place as some of the roof had caved in allowing rainwater to fall through. He was dressed in noble clothes that he had stolen from a high hanging clothesline. They offset his dark green eyes, and his crop cut ash colored hair sat slickly upon his head. No armor could be worn where he was going. He had knives covered in Fyndfire strapped to his legs and a small crossbow on his back. It was not much on his usual arsenal, but it would have to do.
The Saurian Councilor was holding a ball in the palace, a few kilometers north of where the windmill was situated on the small hill. At sunset, Barros mounted his horse and rode north. He could see the palace, it was a colossal affair, and the sunset made its white walls look even more remarkable as they glistened in the dying sun. He rode in on his horse half an hour later, and the sun had finally disappeared over the mountains to the north and west. Stable hands were waiting for guests to arrive and took their horses to the stables.
A boy no more than ten years old took the reins from Barros and held the horse to the stables where Barros would fetch him once the party was finished. He walked up the cold marble stairs shaking hands with several other nobles and dignitaries. The hall was packed with tables and nobles all chatting away with the gossip of the city and surrounds. Barros didn’t care for gossip and kept to himself.
Barros took a glass from a serving youth and took a small handful of crackers from another. He circled around the room, weaving through the people gathered. The chatter annoyed Barros, he preferred the silent Huntrey where the only sound was the clanging of swords or the twang of crossbows. He surveyed the room constantly turning slowly to try and expose his mark. He knew she would be here, the only question was where.
A speaker stepped aboard the podium hitting a glass with his spoon. He wore round spectacles, and his the rest of his attire did nothing to hide his obesity. Barros snorted at the sight of the nobleman. Long gone were the days his father used to tell stories of. Days when nobles and other high ranking people would take the offensive in any fight where long gone. They kept themselves fit and lean, ready for action but now they were reduced to men who would sit behind desks and grovel for their lives.
They were all corrupt and fat, like the world, and it was only the hardened backbone of the Hunters that kept the world from falling apart. Several moments passed, and the whole crowd was now gathered around and near the foot of the podium. The speaker had a carrying voice that surprised Barros. He produced the usual bull shit that nobles did at parties like these. He spoke of the coming peace between Sauria and its neighbor to the north, Renor. That was never going to happen.
Nothing would change quickly between the two countries unless men like Barros were brought in to change it. However, the Hunters board did not tend to act on issues unless Vampires had a direct influence over the events. Barros didn’t care much for the board, he acted of his own accord delivering justice to the guilty, both Vampire and mortal men. He fought on both sides of the border as he needed to, attempting to make changes in the flow of the battle. It mattered for naught. Other Hunters and the occasional Vampire fought with him and against at different times. Barros made sure to kill the latter before heading out on his next hunt.
Reverting his attention back to the speaker he knew the speech was coming to an end. The speaker wrapped his speech up quickly and to that, Barros curtly applauded. He went back to scanning the room the dark green eyes gazing over every guest in the room. Then he saw her. She stood out like a smear of blood on a black wall. Barros felt his breath catch up with him, he realized his heart had missed a beat.
Their eyes locked for a split second, his dark green and hers bright until she turned away, her blonde hair hiding her face from him. He moved towards her, cutting his way through the crowd, discreetly. She stood with her back facing him, and he stopped just short of her.
‘Hello there’, he said.
She turned swiftly, and Barros was met with everything he had observed from afar. A flash of her white teeth and the sparkling bright green eyes up close looked even more impressive than they had from afar. Her blonde hair shone, with the light reflecting off it. This perfect picture was completed by the flowing red dress she wore, bearing the slightest hint of the immaculate breasts between. This woman was an angel. She looked over Barros once, her eyes taking in his muscular frame, feasting on his elf like features and his gorgeous eyes.
‘Hello there yourself’, she said. A smile reached both her eyes and mouth.
‘Barros Toldar, I don’t think we’ve met before’, he replied taking her hand and kissing it.
Her eyes flashed, perhaps in recognition of his name. ‘Countess Sophia Biella’, she said putting emphasis on her title, taking his hand. Barros almost flinched. The woman before him couldn’t possibly be his target. Barros shifted slightly to his right in order to loosen the dagger hidden under his belt if the need arose he would be able to defend himself.
‘Tell me’, said Barros. ‘What business do you have tonight Countess? I was aware that people of your status usually strayed away from events such as these’.
‘I’m here on a personal matter’, she replied. ‘I’ve been chased for the past several months by a man I have not seen yet been able to avoid. I hope that tonight the Saurian overlord will be able to give me a small entourage in order to protect myself’.
This confirmed what Barros feared. This woman was his target, and he would have to kill her tonight. He could drive her through now, in the middle of the party, create a scene and fight his way out. Barros used his left hand to release another knife while he put his right arm around her, drawing her close.
‘Sophia’, he whispered into her ear softly. ‘What if I told you that I’m the man you have been running from’.
Without hesitation he grabbed both of his knives bought them to where Sophia’s stomach would be. He felt them bite something, however it wasn’t flesh. Instead, Sophia had grabbed both knives and now smiled at Barros. She snapped both with her superhuman strength and twisting Barros’s wrists.
‘Let’s not make a commotion. I know you’re after me, however I don’t know what for, and I think that would be better discussed in private. I think you should accompany me home’, she said spinning and placing both of her hands gently on his shoulders.
Barros grunted his approval and linked his arm between hers. They made for the front doors avoiding eye contact, and slipped out unnoticed by every noble in the room. The pair dashed across the yard into the stables and rode out into the night on Barros’s horse.
Word Count: 1938