WARNING: Some portions of the following work of fiction contain explicit sex. If you are under 18 (or whatever age is appropriate for your location), HIT YOUR BACK BROWSER BUTTON NOW. If you find explicit sex offensive, please don't offend yourself by reading further.

The full disclaimer for this work of Vampire Hunter D fanfiction is at the beginning of Chapter 1.

Author: Charlotte MacFarlane
Email: duckey@ns.sympatico.ca
Feedback: Please, yes, lots.
Forward to others: would be flattered if you did.

Always and Forever
Chapter 3 Sign of the Tiger

Two days later, the two women rode into the Wolow's village, right into the middle of a lot of commotion. Normally the little village was quiet as a number of the residents went fishing, or tended their crops in the field, but today, that wasn't the case. "What's going on?" asked Maida, as she recognized the mayor of the village.

"There was some kind of creature that tore through our village last night," he cried out.

"Several of our people are dead, many of them are children."

"That's terrible!"

"Where were these attacks?" asked Kale.

"Who are you?" asked the mayor, eyeing the tall woman, and her strange mount.

"I'm the one after what may have come through here. But I need your help." Kale explained about the wolves and vampires, and how her partner was taking care of the Vampire, she was out for the wolves. But she needed better weapons. The Wolows quickly agreed to help her, and while the smiths readied some of the arrows, the mayor and others took her to the site of the four wrecked homes.

"The families all had four children," the mayor explained, as Kale picked up a tiny doll. She couldn't believe that even the wolves would do this. Never had a child been harmed in the northlands by a werewolf. This wasn't part of their character. "The adults are all dead, twelve of the sixteen children are dead, two are injured badly and the other two are missing." Kale looked over the etchings in the walls and wood frame of the homes.

"It was them alright," she said, "Can I see the children that survived?"

"This way." Kale had to duck and remain bent over as the Wolows led her into one of their huts where the children were recovering from their wounds.

"This is Chawna and Witticker," the healer explained in a hushed tone. "They're not related, but they told us that their younger sister and brother are missing. They said their assailant said something about testing them for the master."

Kale quickly inspected their wounds, as the healer's helper removed the bandages. The slashes were deep and long. Claw marks from the wolves. "Where there any teeth marks?" she asked, "Large bite wounds?"

"No none," answered the healer. "Why?"

"Never mind. Their wounds will heal if the kids are strong."

"We came here to this world for a better life. Our own was over crowded, we weren't supposed to land here, but we had no choice. Since then, we've enjoyed relatively peaceful lives. Nothing like this has ever happened before." The Mayor hugged his arms around his little body.

"Then we'll need to find those kids, and fast."

"What is it?" Maida asked form the window.

"The wolves, or wolf, has taken the kids as a food source for the Vampire, but vampires can only feed on the creatures that evolved here on Earth. They can't take the blood of an off-worlder. No matter how long they've been here. Their blood is worse than poison to them. They won't die, but they won't be all that healthy either afterwards either."

"Those poor little ones."

"Where do we start?" asked Maida.

"The tracks lead south, what is south of here? Any run down castles or the like?"

The mayor thought for a moment. "There's the old Tower of Traps. After it was neutralized it was emptied and the riches within were distributed to the people, but so far no one has lived there."

"There's also Castle Plundar," offered Maida. "The mutants would most likely take in the Vampire. They're about as evil as anything on this world."

"Or he'd warp their minds and use them as his slave labor," Kale crawled out of the tiny hut, spasms in her back and legs too much to stay bent over for long. "Either way, they've got to be found and soon."

"The arrows are ready," called one of the smiths, handing her the quiver fillled with arrows covered in a thin coating of silver.

"Thanks," Kale laced the quiver around her shoulders, then headed for Max. "Maida, you stay here."

"Not a chance."

"Willa said..."

"Willa didn't know about the children missing. I'll go with you to find them, then I'll bring them back here."

"Alright, I'll provide you with a couple arrows. How's your aim?"

"Unmatched in my tribe."

"Well then, quit your yakking and get up here. We're wasting daylight. These things are easier fought while they're still human."

The Wolows watched as the two women rode away, unsure of their own safety now, even at night.

"Are you sure it's only one?" asked Maida, from Max's saddle.

"Yha, I'm sure. This one walks with the same limp over and over. He's weak on his left side. And he's carrying the kids on his right."

"How can you tell?"

Kale stood and took the reins, leading the horse further on through the woods. "The depression on the right is deeper than the left, and there is a small indentation next to the left foot print. He's using a cane or walking stick to counter balance himself."

"You'd think that the Vampire wouldn't keep him on."

"No choice. The wolf swore loyalty to the vampire, and as long as the wolf is still strong in wolf form, there is little need for getting rid of him."

"Have you been hunting these things all your life?"

Kale looked back, and shook her head. "No, not all my life," she said, "Just the new part of my existence."

"What does that mean?"

"Sshh," the two listened. In the distance they could hear water rushing down a nearby stream, the birds singing higher in the trees, and children crying. "That's got to be them," She dropped the reins and told Max to remain till he was called for, then she and Maida made their way through the bushes to a small thicket. There they found two Wolow children, a boy and a girl, tied and gagged. They saw Kale and Maida, and tried to cry out to them. Kale placed her finger across her lips, to quiet them, then motioned for Maida to circle round the other way, to free the kids, while she watched out for the human-wolf.

"Its alright," whispered Maida, as she removed the ropes from the kids. "Come with me, and stay quiet."

"That thing, it went to the river," said the little boy.

"I'll go, you take them home," Stated Kale, removing the gag from the little girl, scanning the area to make sure the man didn't return unexpectedly.

"Be well sister," said Maida, and led the children through the trees.

"Sister hu?" Kale couldn't help but think of her own sister, dead so long ago, 'No time for that now.' "take care."

She turned to the sound of the rushing water, and worked her way through the thick brush. There he was. An older man, thick muscle pronounced through his arms, chest and legs, though the ankle of the left food seemed oddly swollen. Most likely wounded in the previous night's attack. His skin was covered in a thin, almost peach fuzz, layer of brown fur. His ears, dog shaped, pointed through his black hair. She was about to take him out when the younger wolf came out of the trees on the other side of the river. "Brother!!" he called frantically, "I've got to talk to you! It's urgent!"

"Solace! This isn't your domain! What are you...."

"It's Tracey! She's dead!!! There's a wolf hunter here. I just know it!!"

The older man snarled and threw his cane into the river. "Find him! He's already killed the two the master made. FIND HIM!!" Before she could shoot the older man, he bounded off into the trees.

"I won't let you down!" This time, before the younger man could run off, Kale stood and fired off her arrow. It sank deep into the boy's chest, his howls loud and fear filled, as he died. Kale then fired off another arrow, and as it struck the boy's body, he burst into flames. Oddly enough, the boy continued to cry out, as the flames fed off his clothes and skin.

"Solace!" called the older man, seeing the smoke across the river. Kale reached for another arrow, only there wasn't one there, and she'd left the long bow with Max. She ducked back into the trees and returned to where Max was waiting, the older wolf man calling in grief to his brother.

She turned her mount back into the trees, away from the river. She'd need to reevaluate her strategy. She only had three small arrows left in Max's neck, but six for the long bow. Granted more than enough to take care of the two remaining wolves, but still, she didn't dare waste a shot. She hoped that Maida was all right with the Wolow children. She shook her head, freeing her thoughts of kids. Something she'd never have.

That evening, Kale sat by a small campfire, studying the map Maida had loaned her. 'Cliffs to the south,' she thought, 'Well, it's a day more, but then again, the wolves will leave the area completely, after one of their pack is killed. That's if they don't have a master. I can always hook up with D and hunt down the older one, while he goes after the Vampire. From what I heard from the wolf, he hasn't killed him yet.' She rolled the leather map up, and tended the small pot over the fire. It was a small stew. Some dried meat, roots she recognized, and she found some basil hidden in Max's security compartment. She couldn't figure how it got there, but it added a little flavor.

Max was nearby, she could hear him chewing on the grass. For some reason, the sound relaxed her. Perhaps because she knew that even though Max appeared to be oblivious to what was going on around him, at a second's pass, he'd let her know of approaching danger, and protect her as D had obviously ordered. 'D,' she thought, 'We'll need to talk about your sudden over protective streak. You hadn't been like that sense you'd found me.'

She quietly ate her stew, once again, going over her plans of tracking, trapping and killing the other wolves. 'With the woman gone,' she thought, 'They'll seek a new den. Most probably with their former master.' She pulled the map out once more. She'd pull it out over and over again if she had to. It was habit. Sense childhood she'd put something away only to discover she needed it again, then put it away, and repeat all over again. She did it even with D sometimes, drove D up a wall. 'If old leach teeth took up residence in that tower the Wolows mentioned,' she thought, scanning the map, 'he might seek shelter in the cliffs not far off.

'But, if he took over the castle, hummm....doesn't make any difference. The castle is also near the cliffs. Ok, wolfie, let's see what you will do. I'll check out the cliffs first. Then the castle.'

The night crept in around the castle. It's winged shielding pulled tight around the body, the head of the depicted gargoyle high over the wing tips. It's giant red eyes peering out over the vast open space between it and the trees. "This isn't going to be easy," whispered a small voice.

"Shhh, there's a guard coming." A lizard like creature slowly and quietly strode by the bushes. The man within huddled down, the darkness of the sky, the trees and his clothing concealing him from view. "The guards are going around too frequently, we'll need to find another way in." The tall figure crept quietly back through the trees to where a steel gray steed with black mane and tail waited. He mounted up and began circling around the castle quietly in the trees.

"Your mind is drifting, D," said the voice again.

"I'm worried about Kale."

"She'll be fine. If you don't get your mind back on the job, she'll need to rescue you for a change."

"Leave me be, and stay quiet."

Kale stood to catch her breath. Why did this wolf have to be so difficult? "Why can't you just die, like a good dog!" she shouted, drawing a long arrow across her bow once more. She had to be careful. She only had two left.

"You little Bitch," growled the wolf, "I'll fuck you till you're blue in the face. Then I'll feast on you, till you die."

"You are sick!" She ducked as the wolf threw a dead tree toward her, but his rage sent it further than she was.

"This is what happens when you kill a wolf's bitch before she lays him. You get a very ANGRY, HORNEY WOLF!!!" The beast lunged at her, swinging a giant tree limb. Kale raised her bow and let the arrow fly.

The wolf stopped in his tracks. "You...bitch..." he whispered, staring at the silver stick embedded in his chest. Slowly he sank to the ground, the tree limb dropped at his side.

Kale sent a smaller arrow at him, and he burst into flames. "Only D has permission to call me a Bitch, Bowzer." She then sat heavily on the ground to catch her breath. She ached all over. Her cloak had some new tears in it, and a number of the wounds on her back and chest were bleeding. Her horse trotted over and bent his muzzle to her cheek. He also bore wounds of the wolf, throwing himself in the line of his more vicious attacks to let Kale get further away. The smaller arrows, she had were gone now. All she had were a few small wooden ones, and the fire bombs that she kept for burning the wolves. "D is not going to like this," she told Max, as she wrapped some gaze around her chest to stop the bleeding.

Max lay down in the grass next to her, his soft knickers encouraging her to lie back and rest. He'd done this many times these last few nights. Her dreams racked with images, too terrifying to face just yet. She'd either wake up screaming, or in a cold sweat, wanting someone to hold her, but also to remain away from her at the same time. Max seemed to be the only one who could comfort her right now. Odd though it was. Kale leaned back against his great chest, resting her head on his shoulder. "Keep watch Max," she whispered, and fell asleep.

The sun was bright, and woke her softly. Max's mane brushed her brow gently. She straightened, or at least tried to, and remembered what she'd done the night before. "Well," she said to Max. "I think last night was the last night of the full moon. We shouldn't have to worry about an attack like that for another month. The silver steed rose to his feet, watching over Kale, like a mare over her new foal. Suddenly something across the meadow drew his attention, and he immediately tried to get the girl to rise. Not more than twelve feet away, the ground erupted in an explosion. Max squealed and ran off after the attacker, while Kale scrambled out from behind the dead tree the wolf had thrown the night before. She looked to the sky to find two oddly shaped flyers, nothing like the craft that flew before, not even similar to ultra lights, which she'd tried to learn to fly once, but never got off the ground. Her fear of heights getting too much for her.

The flyers circled round and came back, the pilots looking like animals form the story Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks. She turned to the sound of Max galloping past her, as he headed off a vehicle on the ground. Something like a snowmobile with jet engines on the sides instead of treads and skis. In the valley, coming from the trees was another vehicle, large, like a tank, only without the gun turret. The flyers zeroed in on it, and blasted away, the explosions off the outer hull sending shards into the cliffs. The land vehicle shot at the cliff, and ended up burying the tank completely in rubble. "Panthro!!" shouted a voice. Kale turned to see a man in a blue suite come running across the meadow. His hair, in fact all his body that showed through his clothing, bore the color patterns of a bangle tiger, bright orange with black and white stripes.

'He's a sitting duck!' she thought. The flyers turned their aim to the strange man and to her. Together they dodged a barrage of blaster fire, landing on the ground slightly winded. "That's IT!" shouted Kale, "I HAVEN'T HAD MY MORING COFFE YET!!!" She drew one of her smaller arrows into her crossbow and fired into the engines of one of the flyers. Smoke spewed from the back end, but still it kept coming. The orange man charged the damaged flyer, taking aim with a whip, of all things a whip. She stepped away from him, turning her attention to the other flyer. The land vehicle came after her, but the flyer would get to her first. She took a chance and loaded two arrows into her cross bow, and fired. Their path was less than perfect, but they still landed in the engine of the flyer. The two flyers limped off into the morning sky.

"Alright!!" she called, "Who's next?"

Just as she turned, the pilot of the third vehicle bore down on her, the tiger man lashed his whip around the end of the sprier that he drew, and broke off the tip. Kale dove to the side, but not fast enough. The shaft impaled itself in her left side, just above her hipbone. The Tiger man had leapt to the top of the thing, sending it swerving away, trying to shake him off, the pilot releasing the staff. Before Kale could grab it, the stick fell from her body, leaving the gaping hole to bleed out. Quickly she clamped her hand over the flow, searching for Max, to obtain the first aid kit. The third vehicle began to retreat, the tiger man using his whip to swing himself to safety, rather than be knocked off by the branches of the approaching trees.

She stood in the field and watched as the strange creatures flew, or rode away on their machines. She'd fought well, despite her exhaustion, but now she had a severe wound on her left side. She covered it tighter with her hand. 'D is not going to like this.' she thought, as she turned to the tiger striped man. He was still alive. She stood away from him, as he retracted his whip.

He turned to face her, to thank her for her help, but was horrified to see her standing there bleeding, holding her side. The blood poured profusely from her wound, her hand insufficient to stop the bleeding. He took a few steps toward her, only to stop as she raised her crossbow and pointed it at him. "I'm not going to hurt you," he called. She wavered slightly, but then steadied. "Please," suddenly a strange horse came out of the trees and headed straight for him. Squealing with rage, it reared, and lashed its front legs at him. He fell back and drew his arms over his face, as the large animal/machine drove its hooves into the ground just inches from either side of his head.

"Max!" he heard, and the horse trotted to his mistress. But before she could attempt to climb into the saddle, she dropped to her knees, her face drained of color.

He slowly approached her, watching the horse wirily. "I'm not going to hurt you," he said calmly, and helped her to lie down to inspect her wound. "This is bad," he said tearing parts of her cloak to use as bandages, and used his whip to tie it tight to her. He looked up to see the tank crash through its tomb of boulders. "Panthro! Lion-o! I need the med kit and the stretcher! Hurry!!" The two made no sound as they gathered he items and headed for the tiger man.

"Max," she whispered. The horse bent his muzzle to her cheek. She touched her bloody hand to it, and pushed him away. "Find D," and the horse galloped off. She listened as muffled voices spoke about her wounds, how she fought, and wondered who she was.

"She's passing out!" cried one of them, and darkness took her.