The distant future...
Vampires rule the night, but their numbers are dwindling...
With huge bounties on their heads a class of hunters has emerged, Bounty Hunters.
One Hunter is unlike all the others.
He is a Danpiru - a half human, half vampire.
At war with himself, feared by all,
Tortured and alone, he is...

Vampire Hunter D

Blood Guilt

by C. Gryffin

Based on

Novel written by:Hideyuki Kikuchi (Asahi Sonorama)
Character design:Yutaka Minowa
Character illustrations:Yoshitaka Amano

With thanks to Alicia Blade, R-chan, and Jessyka

He had been running for the better part of the night. His party had been decimated, one by one they ad been picked off. He was running for his life. All logical and rational thoughts had fled his mind. All he cared about was his survival. The Hunter had become the hunted.

He wove his way through the forest. Up trees, down trees; on the ground, in the branches of the ancients above; through water, around water. Whatever it took to throw off his pursuer; it tool all he had learned and instincts to keep him alive this long. He had never heard of a Hunter hunting other Hunters, but that was what was happening.

Dawn was breaking in the horizon and he cried out in desperation. He ran with newfound speed and came to an abrupt end to the forest as he stumbled stopping himself from falling over a cliff. He looked over the edge and saw that it was a shear-drop hundreds of feet below to the desert floor. He turned back to the forest and looked around warily. He saw and heard nothing from the forest. He sighed in relief as the new sun began to warm his back.

"What's wrong little man?" a shadow asked as it separated itself from the forest.

"No! How can you?" the man cried out as he stepped backwards.

"I wouldn't do that. In case you forgot, there is a cliff," the dark shape said. The man looked behind him and back. "You would take the fun out of everything."

"The... the... sun..." the man stammered.

"You see, I care not for it. I am Danpiru," the dark shape said. He shook his head in pity. The once proud Hunter was now a mere animal. He no longer had full control over his higher level of comprehension. After all night of being chased, he had reverted to his more instinctual self. The man looked all but human. His once fine shirt and pants were torn and stained by the vegetation he had once run through. He was hunched, ready to move at any slight provocation, the mere instinctual response of flight or fight. His eyes were blood shot and face haggard.

The figure stepped forward exposing himself in the sunlight. He was dressed in black body armor and black boots. His black cape hung around him limply due to the lack of wind exposing blood red lining within. From behind his right shoulder, the hilt of a sword was exposed. His face was hidden by a large black hat.

"Before... we... have some fun, there is business we must discuss. What do you know of the Vampire Hunter named D?"

"I don't know much. He looks... he looks like you... but with long hair. Nothing much else is known about him. Please... let me go. As a Hunter, you should understand," the man, pleaded.

"As a Hunter, I know we serve those who pay well. My employer is not happy with your kind," the Danpiru said as he walked towards the man. The man looked at him with wide eyes and jumped backwards.

"Now none of that," the Danpiru teased lifting the man by the collar of his shirt from over the cliff.

"How...? You were..."

"Ten feet away from you just a second ago?" the Danpiru laughed finishing the man's sentence. "As a Hunter, I thought you were smart to have eluded me until an hour ago. But I guess that was instincts... good instincts. Remember, I am Danpiru."

A scream tore through the forest sending birds in flight.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"How long ago?" the old man asked looking at the corpse.

"Just this morning. I'd say around dawn," a Hunter answered getting up from his crouch beside the body. He looked out over the cliff and then to the backs of his fellow Hunters who were watching the trees and forest behind.

"Is there any clue?" the old man asked in a pleading voice.

"No. Just the usual from a vampire. Pick off the group one by one. Toy with the last survivor, then feed. Those are the cruel ones, the rest just kill and feed," the Hunter told the old man while looking around.

"Wait," he said calling attention to himself as he knelt to the right of the body.

He pulled a vial from his belt and removed the plug. He sprinkled the liquid contents over the ground where the ground bore scuffmarks. At first the liquid darkened the ground and began to fade when suddenly blue writing emerged in the scratch marks.

"The blood reacts with the liquid turning blue while the rest gets absorbed," the Hunter explained to the old man who looked on from above with a questioning look on his face.

"It says something," the old man spoke. The Hunter stood up and looked down.

"I thought so. It's a Hunter trick. All of us carry these vials for situations like these. Dead men can tell tales."

"It says..." the old man began to read before he faltered.

"Find D," the Hunter finished emotionless.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

The man watched as the mirage solidified. It was no longer an image. It was the man he had sent for. He looked around and saw his companions keeping watch on the sand dunes behind. He wiped the sweat from his brow. He was aware that it was high noon and that he was in the middle of a desert. He figured it would be the best place to meet the Danpiru. There was no place the Danpiru could take advantage of the environment and the fact that it was noon, the sun had to have some affect upon him.

As he watched the shape come closer, he realized that the Danpiru had a DL4; a very nice acquisition, one he would like to have instead of his DL2, a couple of grades down. The DL4 was jet black, as was the Danpiru's clothes, which jarred with his pale skin. The man watched as the Danpiru dismounted and walked in his direction. The Danpiru had on full black body armor and a large black cape that blew in the wind exposing the blood red lining within; the man could not see the Danpiru's face for it was hidden under a large black hat. Despite being pulled back, the Danpiru's long black hair blew in the wind like organic waves taken to flight. The man noticed a finely crafted sword strapped to the Danpiru's back for the hilt was exposed over his right shoulder. The man was unnerved. The heat, sun, or desert seemed to have no affect on the Danpiru. It was an ethereal experience for the man, one that he expected to happen only in a dream, if that.

"Danpiru! We Hunters wish to hire you," the man called to the Danpiru. The man tossed a bag at the Danpiru. The Danpiru caught it with his left hand and weighed it casually.

"Don't worry about the price. There is plenty more from where it came from. Just name your price after you finish the job," the man continued hastily afraid he would lose the other's interest.

"You weren't supposed to say that!" a figure yelled from the dunes.

"Tom! Shut up! We chose Devin to speak for us! Let him do his job!" another figure from the dunes snapped.

"There is another Hunter... A Danpiru Hunter who we want dead. But... he's a Hunter of Hunters. He hunts us Bounty Hunters. A vampire who is known to be ruthless hires him. She realized that in order to stop the flow of the Hunters cutting down the numbers of vampires, she would need someone who hunts Hunters. Thus, that leads us to you. No one has been able to stop him. Groups of Hunters have gone out and none have returned."

"The money you pay me with is the life savings of the dead Hunters?" the Danpiru asked quietly.

"Yes," the man stammered. "It was the only way we could figure to hire you. You would want a high price and that was the only answer."

"What does he look like?"

"That's the problem," the man answered uncertainly. "No one has been able to live long enough to give a full account of him. He hunts mostly by night, but is known to kill during the day. The most any of us know is that he is dressed in black and wears a cape that is not a cape. The cape is like a vampire's but it seems alive at times."

"I understand he was just at Depnarlch a couple of nights ago. I take it he gravitates to where Hunters gather?" the Danpiru questioned the man.

"Yes... but how did you know..." the man started to ask just before the Danpiru disappeared into the mirages of the desert.

"He took the job, right?" a short man asked hopefully as he ran to where Devin stood.


"How did he know where the last attack took place?" Tom asked gruffly as he trudged up the dunes to where Devin stood staring in the direction the Danpiru had left.

"I don't know," Tome answered with hurt in his voice. It took a lot for a Hunter to ask another Hunter to take a job he couldn't do, especially when pride and reputation was at stake.

"It doesn't really matter, does it? We got the best to do the job. At least our necks aren't on the line," the short man countered heatedly.

"I don't care if he is the best or not! He knows more than he lets on. I don't trust him. He is still Danpiru!" Tom retorted, deeply angered by his partner's lack of caution.

"Tom. Stanley. That is enough," Devin interrupted the two tiredly. "Get the rest. It's time to go."

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Well, this is sure interesting. First a vampire hires you, now Hunters. What next... Danpirus? Just don't forget what you're doing. Too many strange occurrences happening. I doubt it is a coincidence. But hey, you can apply that to your whole life. That's something I do have to agree with, life never has a dull moment with you. But will you please slow down once in a while? I don't like having to constantly worry about my... I mean your safety. After all, what good am I if you end up dead?" a voice rambled amongst the cacophony of the forest around.

"Quiet," D said as he walked away from the protection of the forest out into the broad daylight. He bent his head protecting his eyes from the abrupt change in light with his hat.

"Aaarg! The sun! So bright! I can't see!" the voice cried out in a mocking tone.

" I said quiet," D snapped as he curled his left hand into a fist until the knuckles were white.

"Sorry. I forgot. Can't you..." the face on D's left hand began before being forcefully stopped.

D walked over to the area filled with scuffmarks at the edge of the cliff. He knelt beside the largest impression and listened. Slowly the forest became silent, devoid of life, just a whisper of death.

What do you find?" D asked as he put the palm of his left hand against the ground. He waited as the ground warmed in the midday heat. All around him, the land became visions, mirages overlapping reality in a haze of heated air. The heat intensified as the winds died. D's cape fell draped on his back and the ground. A heavy silence filled the air.

"A dead body was once here... human. Another person. Based on his boot size, I would say he is about your height," D's left hand said to the ground. "And blood. A trace of it but... it doesn't seem... The rest is too hard to tell. Several people came by afterwards."

D stood up and retrieved a vial from his belt with his right hand. He uncorked the vial with his thumb and emptied the contents over the entire area before him. He watched as the ground absorbed the liquid with little affect. Slowly a distinctive blue pattern appeared. D waited, as the entirety of the pattern was complete.

"Find D. That's it? How boring. The person may..." D's left hand began to gripe before being cut off by D.

"It was put there purposefully. How could a dying man write such a message when he is being bled?" D asked quietly.

"Are you saying it was left by the attacker? The Danpiru Hunter? D, this is not good. Now you'll be having Hunters after you thinking it was your doing."

"I know," D said absent mindedly as he walked back to the forest.

"Hey! Tell me what's going on here! I have just as much a right to know as you. After all, I am sharing your body. Are you listening? Hey! Are you listening? D!"

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Have you seen the one named D?" the Hunter asked. He looked down from his DL4 cyborg horse at the man before him. He shook his head at the other's clothes. They were of old making. The boots were faded and were beginning to show signs of wear. The man's pants were brown with many dirt stains that flared at the ankle. The belt displayed a giant ship of some sort, all but worn out. He wore a frayed vest over a blue shirt. " Hard times for you, no?"

Devin looked up and stared at the Hunter. He knew the other Hunter was trying to humiliate him. They all did. He did not care anymore. He did not put much stock in clothes, just in what the money he earned could do for those who could not provide for themselves. He saw an arrogant man in front of him dressed as all other successful Hunters did. Find dark slacks, brand new boots that looked not more than a couple of days old, a neatly pressed vest buttoned over a long sleeved shirt that had frills at both wrists and under the chin. The man also wore a hat that flamboyantly showed off a large jewel on its left side. How he tired of Hunters judging other Hunters by their clothes. After all, he was considered one of the best and he dressed not the part.

"What of him?" Devin answered as he wiped his brow. He looked up at the afternoon sun blazing just a little past noon. He sighed wondering where the wind had gone.

"You know as well as I do," The Hunter said.

"I guess I do. After all, I did hire him," Devin shrugged as he turned to leave.

"You idiot! He's the one! He's the Hunter of Hunters! He's the one who has been killing our kind!" the Hunter yelled.

"That cannot be true. If that was the case, why am I standing here talking to you? He would have killed both my men and me when we hired him. Where's your proof?" Devin asked, not looking back.

"It's on the cliff. Just this morning I saw it myself. There was a message written on the ground with blood! I sprinkled Hydrolicine over the ground and the blood was exposed. You know what I'm talking about! The message that was written said 'Find D'. If that is not enough for you, there was one witness who told what she saw before she died. Maybe you have heard of her. I think she said her name was... Taryn... Taryn Baryndall," the Hunter stated confidently, knowing he had struck a nerve.

"No!" Devin cried turning around and faced the Hunter.

"It's true. If you don't believe me, just ask any of my men or Byrin senior. It was his son who led the group. And it is his son and daughter he lost," the Hunter said casually. He turned his DL4 around. "You know where you can find me. If you don't, I'm sure you can find out if it means that much to you."

"You bastard! And just what do you know of Taryn?" Devin spat as the Hunter rode off.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Boss. What's wrong?" tom asked Devin who just walked into the bar. Devin slumped on the stool next to Tom at the bar. The bartender poured Devin a beer and walked away helping other customers. Devin looked around the room watching men drinking and gambling while maids wove their way through the crowd tending to the empty mugs. Devin drank a bit and looked Tom in the eye.

"You know the new Hunter?" Devin asked quietly.

"Another Hunter? That makes... five groups of Hunters. This is getting real serious," Tom whispered urgently to Devin.

"I know. We have to watch ourselves. This new Hunter knows too much. He knew me. I mean... about Taryn. He also is sure that D is the one killing Hunters," Devin continued. He took a drink of his beer as a person walked by. "It's time to head back to camp."

"I'll get the rest," Tom said realizing there was more to be said just before he disappeared into the crowd.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Hurry up! Boss needs to talk to us and pronto!" Tom argued with Stanley.

"Ya. I'll be there. Give me five minutes. I want another drink and another round. He owes me anyway," Stanley growled as he took a swig of his beer and picked up another knife. He looked up at the ceiling and saw the knot in the support bean across the room. He snapped his wrist and watched his knife hit the knot in the center.

"Okay you're done! Let's go!" Tom demanded once Stanley's knife hit the wood.

"I said I'll be there," Stanley growled harshly not looking at Tom and looked at the man next to him. "Do you want to pay now or try again?"

Tom shook his head and made his way out of the bar. Once outside he breathed deeply. He hated the bars that were full of smoke and haze. He liked the cleaner houses. He felt the breeze lift, a gentle caress in a world of harsh survival. He looked at the setting sun and admired the crimson against the blue. The mountains darkly silhouetted against the sun behind; a forewarning of the night to come, a night that promised bloodshed. He shook his head and told himself that it was just a Hunter's superstition. He shivered and began to make his way towards the camp at the edge of the town. As he walked, the shadows lengthened creating a world of darkness with occasional light. The town appeared dead, no signs of life outside. He looked at the bordered windows and sighed. It was not the world he once knew. He ducked in and out of shadows cast by the buildings around as he made his way through the labyrinth-like layout of the town. He hated walking at dusk. It was a period of chaos to him, not quite day, but not night either. The oddities of light created a disruption to his depth perception; objects became more two-dimensional than normal. The lack of control over what he saw disturbed him; he hated not having control over his environment. Drastic change did not suit him.

He realized that he should have waited for Stanley. It would have been safer. He turned around and began to make his way back to the bar where Stanley was not doubt still inhibiting. He wound his way through the labyrinth of buildings, darkness, and waning light. He saw no one now, just the movement of vegetation in the winds. He saw the moon break its way above the horizon causing a confusion of light and shadows as the last of the sun began to disappear behind the mountains. He rushed through the allies and streets hoping to find the bar just before him.

Suddenly he heard boots behind him striking hard against the gravel beneath. He stopped and turned around to see if it was Stanley playing a joke on him and saw nothing. He listened intently and heard a lone owl in the wind. He turned and began to walk and saw a figure silhouetted on a building against the rising moon. The figure stood solid as stone; its cape billowed in the wind hypnotically. Tom took a step backwards and stumbled on a rock. After regaining his feet, he looked up and saw that the figure had disappeared. He looked and around frantically and saw nothing. He began to run; images of the world rushed by in his peripheral vision. The world lost color and definition. The world lengthened and became distorted. Losing sense of where he was he turned corners without knowing their direction. Suddenly he stopped realizing he had run into a dead end. He looked around panicked. The world became the gray of stone and black of shadows. Tom turned around frantically trying to mentally retrace his steps.

"Going somewhere?"

Tom looked up and saw a dark figure blocking the opening of the alley. The figure was dressed in black body armor and a cape that blew in the wind as if possessed. Tom could not make out the person's face from beneath a large black hat.

"Is that... D... Why are you here? Just about everyone is looking for you. They think you killed the Hunters," Tom explained. "I'm glad you are here. I was getting paranoid. I hate this time of day. You know the way back to camp?"

The figure walked toward Tom silently. Tom winced as the boots struck the gravel. He could have sworn he heard the grating of bones with each step. Unnerved, Tom stepped backwards until he felt stone against his back. Tom looked around him and saw that the only way out was behind the figure walking towards him.

Tom reached inside his vest and pulled out a grenade. Quickly he undid the pin and threw it at the figure walking towards him. The grenade fell just short of the living shadow and exploded. Tom shielded his eyes from the blast and ran towards the opening. He ignored the stings of the rocks thrown into the air and the ringing in his ears. Just as he made it past the explosion, a hand grabbed him by the collar. He was lifted into the air as he grabbed at the arm the arm holding him. He couldn't see in the smoke haze but he felt himself being thrown. He sailed through the air unable to find purchase until his back hit the stonewall behind. His head snapped back and cracked against the wall. He fell to the ground and began to get up when he felt himself being lifted.

"Sorry to disappoint you. I am not D," the blurry image whispered. Tom struggled to focus his eyes but failed. He could not control his limbs. He was a helpless doll in the other's hands. His head spun and body felt limp. He tried in vain to struggle against his captor but felt no response from his body. The last he saw was the full moon as he felt twin objects cut into his neck.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Yes. It is done like you said. There are now four other groups of Hunters out looking for him. In the morning I will continue my hunt. I will have him alive for you," the figure in black armor said as he stood up still looking at the ancient screen in front of him. The picture disappeared and the screen went black. He went over to the large tank against the wall and checked the oil level. Seeing that it was above the warning level, he checked the converter and power lines that connected it to the screen. Satisfied, he walked to the door behind the desk that held the screen and locked it. He looked around and saw that nothing had changed since he left earlier that day. The room was devoid of furniture except for the single desk and screen. There was no light, which did not bother him for he could see in pure darkness. He crossed the room and opened a door on the opposite side of the first one.

He locked the door behind him and walked down the stairs. He opened the wooden door at the end of the stairwell and dropped the cross latch. He looked around and saw that nothing had changed. The table at his right held a single pill, two candles, and an incense burner. He pulled out a lighter from his belt and lit all three. He waited until the incense filled the room then picked up the pill and walked over to the figure crucified by chains on the wall. He watched in amusement as her blue eyes darted around the room in hope of some means of escape.

She was young and beautiful. Even with the stark shadows cast obtrusively by the candles, he could see the beauty she possessed. Her hair was matted down in awkward positions by the sweat that never seemed to cease. Her blue blouse hung loosely over her slight figure. Between the partings of her blouse, he could make out black body armor tucked in by black boots. She struggled vainly against the manacles that held her, disregarding the tear it caused to her blouse.

The figure watched as she struggled like a mouse caught by a cat. He waited patiently as she wore herself out. Once she ceased struggling, a glint of metal caught his eyes from beneath her blouse. He focused on the object and mentally felt it. The necklace floated up until the centerpiece was exposed just below her chin. He shook his head and chuckled at the cross.

"Is this what you've been hiding? I don't think you'll need it anymore," he said dismissively as the cross began to take on a liquid form and evaporate. "Black body armor? A rarity I must say. Someone must care about you very much. Am I right, Baryndall...Taryn Baryndall? Let me see... would his name be... Devin Cranshin by any chance?"

He laughed as he saw her eyes widen in anger and fear. She struggled again, harder that he had ever seen her. He decided to let her tire before continuing. He watched, enjoying her struggle until the sound of a pin grating against stone filled the room. He slapped her head until it swayed in place.

"That's enough. I don't want to buy a new set. People may get suspicious and they are expensive," he scolded her while he forced the pill he had retrieved down her throat. He held her mouth close until he felt her swallow. He smiled at her before turning to leave the room. "Don't worry about Devin. He is getting what he deserves. It's family business if you know what I mean."

The last thing she was aware of was the latching of the door lock and the feeble flickering from the candles before she lost control of her body. She felt herself disappearing, a mere visitor in another's body. She felt detached and weightless before everything went black.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"You know D, you've been very quiet today. To tell the truth, you've been quiet for some time. I know nothing seems to fit together, but come on, give it some time. If you stay like this day and night without resting, you are going to pay for it later. Oh, I thought I would just mention that a group has been following us for a while now. I don't like their leader. The guy's tough, but he's too smart and too fast to suit me. What I think you should do is go over to them, ask what they want, and then beat them up for following you. After all that, you can get something fresh to eat, rest a bit, and continue. What do you say?" D's left hand teased D from the reigns. D stopped his horse and turned it around facing the group that was following him. "You're really going to do it? All right! Some real action!"

"Quiet," D said dispassionately. He sat watching the horizon silently.

The six closed the distance cautiously. They realized that the Danpiru they were following knew of them when he turned to face them. With the moon behind, he was a black silhouette with a cape that moved with the wind. The six proceeded unnerved by the lack of response the Danpiru was showing. The wind picked up making the night colder. The group was comforted by the fact that nature had not abandoned them; crickets chirped in the large grass while small rodents could be heard scampering up and down the few trees there were. In sight, the six brought up their guns and aimed at the Danpiru.

"On three," a whisper went down the line of men. After readying, each man passed the message on. They put on knee on the ground and modified their angle. They kneeled in place and remained silent until they were given the signal.

"One," a soft voice spoke from the front of the line. "Two. Three."

The sound of six rifles cracked in the night sky silencing what noise there once was. D brought up his left hand and opened his palm in front of him. A face appeared and opened its mouth. A low sound filled the air that increased as more of the air around was sucked into the mouth. Suddenly, the noise ended and the face closed its mouth. D dropped his palm so that it paralleled the ground below. The six below watched as six bullets fell to the ground in the moonlight. D reared his horse and galloped away into the moonlight. The group of six Hunters broke rank and ran back the way they had come.

"Interesting," a lone figure in black said unimpressed. He jumped down from the tree he was in. He whistled and his DL4 cyborg horse trotted up to him. He saddled his horse and kicked it into a gallop after the departing men. He kept his head down hidden beneath the large black hat he was wearing. He unsheathed his sword on his back.

The group of six turned at the sound of a horse galloping towards them. They saw a dark figure whose face was hidden by a large hat with a cape flying madly bearing down on them. They saw the figure unsheathe his sword from behind him and level it ready to attack. They separated from each other hoping to survive the night.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"And what, may I ask, are we doing here? There are no reports of deaths by a Danpiru or vampire. Shouldn't we be following the trail?" D's left hand asked.

"We are waiting," D answered and continued to dig. He was within the trunk of a tree, which had been hollowed by a previous inhibitor. He buried himself amongst the dirt and bark. "Wake me if anything happens."

"Sure. Just make me be the look out while you sleep. It's not like I wanted to sleep," D's left hand muttered.

It continued on the same strain, complaining as the sun began to set behind the tree. Slowly the shadows lengthened until they stretched across the field as twenty feet away as fallen giants scarring the grass beneath. They sky darkened and filled with pinpoints of light. The moon began to rise casting a reddish tint to the earth below.

D's left hand drummed its fingers on the ground awaiting the figures to close the distance. It knew that they were smart due to their caution, but he was getting bored of waiting for them. The drumming of fingers continued until the three figures were within five feet. They crowded the entrance to the trunk blocking any light from the moon. D's left hand didn't care. It knew what they were by their smell when it first looked up. It waited until the werewolves edged a bit closer to the opening. It opened its mouth and emitted a high-pitched noise that tore through the night sky. The werewolves cried out and grabbed their ears. The forest became filled with noise as its denizens sought to escape the noise. The werewolves turned and ran off with claws still clamped over their ears.

"Did you have fun?" D asked once his hand stopped.

"Hey! I just saved you! Who's the hand?" D's left hand retorted looking at D now.

"I told you to wake me if anything happened. Don't complain to me that you just had to save me. That was your decision," D said calmly.

"Well fine. You have to get all the fun. I am never the one to be Mr. Hero..." D's left hand started before D interrupted.

"Quiet," D said unsheathing his sword that was beside him. He strapped the sheath to his back and stood waiting. A thin whistling filled the air and D jumped out of the tree rolling a few feet and stood facing the direction he had just come from with his sword ready.

The towering giant groaned and began to slide down the diagonal cut it had received. Within moments the tree had fallen filling the forest with its impact. The dust began to settle and revealed two figures standing just behind the fallen tree. The wind picked up clearing the last of the dust and picking up fallen leaves. D's cape blew in the wind, as did the figures' before him.

"D, we're surrounded. There are vampires all around us," D's left hand cautioned.

"Hello D."

"Aren't you going to say anything?"

"I see you still work alone, or do you count the demon parasite as an equal?"

You know it's rude to not greet another."

"Is there anything you wish to settle Cosette, Mikonyasha?" D asked.

"He remembers us! How wonderful!" Mikonyasha exclaimed. "Though he could do better on his greetings."

"Not now. We have business elsewhere. We just thought we would say hello since we were around," Cosette answered dismissively.

"You see, Cosette does not lose track of her fang boys. She knows them all by memory. We will have you D, there's no point in fighting," Mikonyasha explained.

"Until next time D," Cosette said as the two disappeared into the night. The forest was left silent, all signs of life had fled, a cemetery in the forest.

"They're all gone. I hate those two you know. They make me worry about you D. They are...different, more capable than the others," D's left hand said quietly.

"So is the one we are looking for," D said evenly.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Any news?" Devin asked tiredly. Stanley sat down at the bar next to him.

"Just that all but one of Redrach's group was killed by the Danpiru. They were following the Danpiru when he stopped and faced them. They all shot at him with their rifles but somehow he caught all the bullets. They turned to run back to camp and that was when the Danpiru pursued them. He killed all of them except for Redrach himself. Redrach said he was too close to the camp that the Danpiru decided to turn back and go the way he was originally going. Redrach's description of the Danpiru fits that of D. Everyone who has dealt with him agree that the description fits," Stanley answered.

"And anything on Tom?" Devin asked hopefully ignoring Stanley's last statement.

"No. The best that can be said is that he was attacked at dusk last night. It was just before Redrach's group left. They must have been tipped off somehow. It's my fault. I should have left with him," Stanley answered again, but with his head low.

"It is not. Tom gets lost easily. It was an accident. If it was anyone's fault, it is mine for letting him find everyone. I knew he hated dusk. I should have left with him. We all know it can happen when we become Hunters. Often times the tables are turned. I should have thought ahead," Devin said just as low as Stanley.

"The one thing that disturbs me is that on the ground there was a message. It was 'Find D,' also written in blood. The blood was dried but it was obvious by the marks in the ground. I tested it to see if it was blood just in case. It was the same as the death on the cliff. Devin, I know you disagree, but I think you must consider D despite his immaculate history. Everyone snaps, humans, or not. Maybe he finally did," Stanley said forcefully.

"Stanley," Devin began, now looking at the other squarely. "Until I stop being head Hunter, we will do as I see is best. In one hour we are moving out."

"Where to?" Stanley asked trying to not let his anger show.

"We will follow the newest party. The one led by the Hunter wearing the large black hat," D answered then turned to finish his drink.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"He still won't consider D. He can be like that sometimes... not focusing on the evidence in plain sight. He puts to much trust in Danpirus, especially ones like D, not that there are many. To tell the truth, I only know D is like that," Stanley informed the person before him.

The two stood in an alley darkened by shadows cast by the morning sun. The person Stanley was addressing wore dark slacks, new black boots and a neatly pressed vest buttoned over a long sleeved shirt that had frills at the cuffs and chin. Stanley felt humiliated in his beat up pants, faded boots, and worn shirt. He shuffled in place waiting in vain for the other to comment.

"Can I please get an advance payment? I won't gamble it if that is why you're holding back. I'll just buy some new clothes. By tomorrow morning I'll have the entire group willing to join you with or without Devin," Stanley reasoned.

"I know you will. You're too eager to earn a fast buck. You're going to have to learn about limits," the darkened figure said. "Until dusk."

"How will I find you?" Stanley asked hesitantly.

"Don't worry about that. It will seem more natural to Devin if you know nothing than try to hide something. You don't want Devin to find out, do you?" the figure counter coldly.

"You're right. Until tonight then," Devin agreed.

He looked around then walked out of the alley casually as to not attract attention. Realizing he never got an answer to getting an advance, he backtracked carefully avoiding contact with anyone. He entered the alley and looked around. He shook his head in confusion. The person he was talking to was not there and he knew the person did not have enough time to walk out of the alley as he did. Calming himself, he left the alley deeply bothered.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

D watched as the two figures approached each other just beyond the outskirts of the city. They were in a secluded spot surrounded by trees. D braced himself against the trunk of the tree he was in as the wind picked up. The trees began to sway and the smell of rain was in the air. He looked up at the sky and saw dark clouds littering the sky casting dark shadows on the ground below sporadically. The figure below him was an ordinary Hunter, but the other was not. The other looked to be wearing an outfit identical to his own. The figure's large hat covered his face and his cape made it difficult to discern exactly what he was wearing. Yet it was certain that this was the Hunter of Hunters. The Hunter masquerading as D.

"D... Why are you here?" Stanley asked as he step faltered upon seeing the other figure walking towards him. He pulled out his pistol and braced himself. "You'll not have me as easily as the other!"

Stanley fired his gun while backing up against the tree behind him. The figure unsheathed his sword and deflected the bullet fired at him. Stanley fired again and continued until his gun was empty. Each time, the bullet was deflected by the figure's sword. The figure continued walking towards Stanley who quivered against the tree frantically trying to reload his gun.

"That's no way to greet your business partner, is it? I'm glad you've made it. I was not sure my messenger would get it right," the figure said casually. Stanley dropped his gun as the figure grabbed Stanley's right hand. Stanley tried to strike the figure before him with his dagger, but felt his left hand being cut from his wrist. Stanley cried out in pain as he struggled against the other in vain.

"It was never D, was it? It was always you," Stanley asked venomously.

"You are correct. I look pretty good in this outfit, don't you think? By the way, I have one more job for you. I thank you for breaking Devin's group," Danpiru said smiling revealing his increased canines. "Your death will make sure Devin's group is torn asunder."

"At least... give another Hunter a fight chance," Stanley asked filled with bravado.

"Well... as long as you promise to not run away," the Danpiru agreed. "If you can strike me, I'll let you go."

The Danpiru handed Stanley the hilt and stepped back. Stanley tested the weight trying to find a balance point. Satisfied, he braced himself and attacked. The Danpiru laughed as he avoided all of Stanley's clumsy attacks without any gross body movement. Suddenly, the ground erupted in smoke and the Danpiru stopped laughing. He hand shot into the smoke and grabbed Stanley retreating from by the back of his shirt. Stanley struggled against the Danpiru's grip. Stanley felt himself being lifted then was thrown behind the Danpiru. The last thing he saw before losing consciousness as he hit a tree was the Danpiru's back bending he retrieved the sword Stanley had dropped.

"Devin my brother, how far you have fallen since you left me...since you stopped trying to rescue me," the Danpiru said shaking his head. He walked over to Stanley's body and looked up aware of another's presence.

Against the moon, he saw a darkened figure descending towards him. The figure descended silently except for the slight whipping noise creating by the other's cape. The figure wore black body armor and a large hat that hid his face. His sword was drawn and held horizontally, ready to strike.

"The real Vampire Hunter D. It's been some time trying to lure you out," the Danpiru commented as he blocked D's attack.

"What are you trying to accomplish... Murdoch Cranshin?" D demanded between attacks and blocks.

"I would say my name is Murdoch Cranshin, but that was my name before I knew what I am, before he left me. I'm called Dyrconic now. After all, I'm no longer as human as I once was, but a full Danpiru as you," the Danpiru replied exchanging attacks and blocks with D. "I like it better this way though. I just have to repay my brother with the pain he caused me, not that I mind now. I have to say, it was worth it."

The two continued thrusting and parrying, filling the night sky with the clashing of steel. The rhythm of the swords continued increasing in speed until there was a constant ring of steel.

"You're good. The best I've met yet," Dyrconic commented.

Suddenly the forest went deathly still, devoid of all natural sound and movement. The two Danpirus broke off their attacks an eyed the forest warily, not letting their guard down to the other. From the corner of their eyes, they could see shrubs wither and fall dead. Dark forms dropped from the trees surrounding the pair. The forms rushed the two giving no room to escape. Both Danpirus defended against the new threat with their swords against the polymorphic capes of their attackers. The ringing of steel and the groaning of trees echoed throughout the forest. The ancient giants began to fall as stray sword and polymorphic cape struck through thousand of year's growth.

"I will not do your masters' bidding!" Dyrconic screamed in fury as he lost sight of D.

D escaped the vampires realizing that they were after Dyrconic and not him. He made his way through the forest just far enough away to stay in sight of Dyrconic. He saw Dyrconic being overwhelmed and forced to the ground. D heard Dyrconic scream in vampiric furiously, but it had no affect on the vampires. From within the darkness of the forest, two figures emerged.

"No! Not those two again. D, this cannot be coincidence. Something is definitely being set up here and it is not good for you," D's left hand whispered urgently.

"Quiet!" D whispered harshly.

"Murdoch Cranshin... or should I say Dyrconic?" the figure in dark slacks and a white blouse asked. Her boots ground the dead vegetation beneath and her blonde hair blew in the slight wind.

"I will never be your slave Cosette!" Dyrconic screamed.

"What about me?" Mikonyasha pouted.

"What about you?" Dyrconic sneered and was rewarded by a swift kick in the side. "Can't you take a joke?"

"I say we dominate him now. I tire of his tongue," Mikonyasha spat. She walked over the opposite side of Dyrconic and extended her hands until her palms touched that of Cosette's outstretched hands.

The two began to chant and glowing strings began to appear between the two pairs of hands. The two Danpirus separated their hands so that the strings connected the two across the length of Dyrconic's body below on the ground. Their chanting increased in volume and the light emanating from the strings shone brighter. Suddenly the glowing string shattered and the bits of glowing light fell disappearing into the air. The two Danpirus stopped their chanting and turned in the direction of boots crunching on the forest floor. As a figure emerged from the forest, trees groaned and dead branches fell from above. Dead shrubs blew to dust as the wind picked up. All around the sense of death permeated the forest.

The moon shone exposing the figure. She wore black knee high boots that were over black slacks. A blood red blouse held in place by a few buttons rippled in the wind exposing a long-sleeved black shirt underneath. Her pale pigmentation seemed ethereal against the outfit. Her green eyes shone brightly as her red hair whipped wildly in the wind. She nodded at the vampires who then let go of Dyrconic and disappeared into the forest.

"Murdock, go," she ordered as she watched the two female Danpirus trying to comprehend what just happened. Murdoch retrieved his sword and disappeared the way she had come. "Don't be so defensive. I am willing to work with you. I just do not like it when my property is being taken by others."

"How did you break my hold?" Cosette demanded.

"I too trained under the Baabaroi. It is common for us vampires to seek refuge with the Baabaroi in times of need.

"Let me introduce myself. My name is Morrghyn. I wish to work with you two. Cosette and Mikonyasha, I presume," Morrghyn said as she picked up Stanley by his skull in her right hand.

Cosette and Mikonyasha watched as Stanley returned to consciousness and flail against Morrghyn's hold. Thy could hear Stanley's skull being crushed over his scream as Morrghyn bit his neck. Stanley's body went completely limp, devoid of life.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Devin, I am sorry, but we have decided to form a new party. Ever since you lost your brother, your leadership has become doubtful in our minds," a short overweight man said confronting Devin as he walked out of the bar.

"What are you talking about? What brought this on?" Devin demanded.

"You haven't heart, have you? No. You spend your spare time in bars mostly drinking. Stanley has been found dead in the forest. There were signs of struggle, but Stanley obviously lost. His body was found with two puncture marks in his neck. And again, beside his body the message 'Find D' was written in blood. We had the chance to take him. But you hired him. He is destroying us. Isn't it apparent that D is the Hunter of Hunters? Ever since you lost your brother, nothing but death and bad luck follows you, just as your father. We cannot take it anymore. Half our party has died.

"I'm sorry Devin. Come back to us after you have solved whatever problem you are unwilling to let go. Whatever problem you are wrestling with. When you are the man you were before, the man who stood up, fought, and did not lose sight of the goal. We will be happy to join you. We have not forgotten our pledge to your father, it is just that you have lost the will to find your brother and thus lost your brother," the man finished and stepped up to Devin and shook his hand.

"Good luck Chuck," Devin said quietly as the man nodded and turned away.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

Dyrconic watched as the short overweight man walked towards him. The man was dressed in shabby clothes, obviously from neglect. He was a man who showed that he put him money in his meals rather than his appearance. But he did not let that fool him. He knew the other was surprisingly quick for his size. The other man looked around before entering the darkened alley. Dyrconic watched as the man hesitated while his eyes adjusted. The man continued forward once he saw Dyrconic. The man paid close attention to the dirt road and avoided anything that looked suspicious to him.

"Why did we have to meet here? It is too dirty. I hate places like these," the man complained.

"It is the least likely place anyone would expect you to go. You don't want Devin finding out, do you?" Dyrconic said smoothly and smiled when the other man nodded in agreement. "So, how did it go Chuck?"

"Well... Devin took it well, I guess. He seemed a little sad or disappointed, but when he sees he was wrong, he'll join us. And there is news of another group of Hunters. They seemed to have been out trying to track the Danpiru D when he caught them and killed them to their last man. It is strange though. The way they died does not fit the pattern of all the previous deaths. It seemed as if he was mad beyond sense and tore through them without much logic... I would say out of blood lust or blood frenzy. It doesn't matter. The fact is there are now three parties... well two really if you don't count Devin as a party by himself..." Chuck rambled.

"I have one more job for you," Dyrconic said quietly, waiting for Chuck to realize he had spoken.

"And... You have another job? I'll do it, but you have to give me some time to stop at the tavern before we leave," Chuck bartered eagerly.

"Don't worry. You'll have all the time you need. What I need from you won't take long," Dyrconic said looking up.

He smiled, as Chuck's eyes grew wide in fear realizing that he was dealing with a Danpiru. Dyrconic grabbed Chuck by the mouth and bit him in the neck. Chuck struggled against Dyrconic to no avail. Slowly his movements ceased until he hung limply in Dyrconic's grip. Dyrconic dropped Chuck and breathed deeply.

"You are by far the worst drinker and fattiest person I've had the chance to meet. If I had known, I would have picked another," Dyrconic said in disgust.

"I agree," Cosette said smoothly as she walked beneath the shadow of the alley.

"How disgusting. I don't even like touching little fat men or fat humans in general. Too much junk in their blood. It ruins the taste," Mikonyasha said absent mindedly as she picked her way through the alley carefully.

"What do you want?" Dyrconic growled.

"Morrghyn has changed her plans," Cosette answered not taking the bait.

"And she sent you two to run her errands?" Dyrconic chuckled.

"No! For your information we work together. That makes us above you, so you better watch your tongue little man!" Mikonyasha snarled.

"Feisty aren't we. For someone as little as you..." Dyrconic began before being interrupted as he felt himself being lifted and thrown by invisible hands against the stonewall at the end of the alley. He picked himself up from the ground and bared his canines. The two faced off waiting for the other to act first.

"Enough! We have a job to do!" Cosette said harshly.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

He was walking where the last group was found earlier that morning. Devin could not understand the logic of the attacker. There was a consistent pattern to the deaths then suddenly there wasn't. The way Stanley's head was crushed and the butchering of the group the previous night did not fit any logic except that maybe there were multiple attackers. And there were the messages. Traced on the ground in blood. How could a person dried beyond the point of turning to a zombie write such a message? It only made sense if someone else wrote the message. It was most likely the attacker who had done that.

Devin shook his head in disappointment. Hunters found pride in seeing the whole picture and not just focusing on what was in front of them. Something did not fit and it bothered him a great deal. How did the attacker have a list of specified Hunters to kill, after all the ones dead had some involvement with either himself or that of D.

Devin looked up at the partial moon and wondered how the storm that seemed inevitable to hit earlier that day pass over without a single drop. If it did not rain soon, the land would quickly become barren. In the distance he saw a caped figure riding away from him against the moonlight. He studied what he saw and decided to follow it cautiously. He cocked his pistol and silently traced the other's path. He left the trees behind and found himself amongst tall grass that all but came up to his waist. As he continued up the hill, the figure disappeared behind, the grass thinned and shortened to the point to where it was just groundcover. He crouched down as he reached the top of the hill and saw the caped figure standing with five other large figures and one slight figure around a fire. Perplexed and wondering if it was D, Devin started to make his way down he hill.

When he had made it a couple of feet, he saw the five large figures disappear in a flurry of capes. Realizing they were vampires, he pulled out his other pistol. He concentrated on the world around him and started firing his pistols where he heard slight disturbances in the air. Vampires materialized in the air as they dropped to the ground clutching their wounds. He dropped his empty pistols and pulled two more from his belt. He looked around him and counted five bodies, the amount that had rushed him. A few struggled to get up, but were shot again by Devin. He emptied both guns into the bodies and retrieved two more from the gun holders strapped across his chest.

He looked down the hill warily and saw that the caped figure was riding away and the slight figure was walking towards him. Devin waited and leveled both guns at the figure.

"Devin, is that you?" a soft soothing voice asked. "Devin, do you not recognize me? Please help me... Please Devin."

"Taryn? Taryn, is that you?" Devin cried.

"Devin, help me!" the slight figure cried out as she faltered and fell to her knees.

Devin placed his pistols in his belt and rushed to help Taryn. He put his arms around her and held her close. She still wore the black body armor he had given her when she left him. When she left him after he lost his brother. He kissed her forehead and held her out at arm's length.

"What happened? Tell me," Devin asked quietly.

"Devin, I love you. I have always loved you. I'm sorry I left you and went to my brother's party when you needed me. It was just that after you lost your brother, after you lost your way... I could not stay. You understand?" she said, head hung low.

"Yes, I understand. I changed after that and I am sorry. But now we are together and I will never let you go. I will stop being a Hunter if that is what... Did you say 'left'?" Devin excitedly rambled, then asked with hurt in his voice.

"Yes. I said 'left'," Taryn replied in a deep voice. "Stop deluding yourself brother! You left me!"

"Taryn? Murdoch? What the hell?" Devin cried as he let go of Taryn and backed away trying to escape the thing before him.

"Do you feel as if you have lost everything? Your Hunting party? Your brother? Your love? Your life? She is mine now, dear brother. You should have never left me! Both you and father left me!" Taryn shouted in a voice not hers.

Devin pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Taryn. His hand shook preventing him from aiming. He aimed the pistol with both hands, but it had no affect. The pistol shook so much that the moonlight glinted off the metal, momentarily blinding him. He felt Taryn embracing him and looked into her eyes once he regained his sight. Paralyzed by fear and loss, he just sat with the gun in his hands as Taryn came closer.

His eyes widened in shock as he saw her canines grow. He could do nothing. He could not bring himself to do anything. His mind was locked on what his love had become. Suddenly he came back to reality as he felt a dagger cut into his stomach. He dropped his pistol and grabbed Taryn's right hand, trying to make her let go of the dagger. Her grip on the dagger and on him was too strong for Devin's weakened state. Devin struggled in vain against Taryn as he felt the dagger dig deeper and move upward. He screamed in pain and frantically tried to escape Taryn's mortal embrace.

Suddenly, he felt Taryn's grip let go as he saw the moonlight reflect off a sword. He fell on his back clutching the dagger that was now in the middle of his chest. He saw D kneel over him; he knew it was the real D for he had long hair.

"I'm such a fool. I broke the first rule: Never go out alone," Devin said weakly. "Thank you. I never wanted Taryn to have this type of life. It was not right for me to impose it on her. And now she has been turned..."

Devin stopped breathing heavily and began to cough. He saw his world lose focus and everything became distant. He struggled to stay alive long enough to tell D the truth. The truth of why everything was happening.

D reached out with his left hand and the face appeared. It mumbled something as it touched Devin's shoulder. Devin relaxed and began to breathe less sporadically.

"I don't know how long it will last, but he should be well enough to finish what he has to say," D's left hand said as D pulled his hand away from Devin.

"The Danpiru you hunt is my brother. It happened long ago. Murdoch..." Devin began between deep breaths. "Murdoch is his name, but he is most likely using another name... He was going to be part of my father's Hunting party, as Taryn was... I was ten then. My father's Hunting party was the largest and most respected... We took this job to eliminate this one vampire... Her name was Morrghyn.

"We were ambushed and my mother was captured... After that, we lost half our number and lost our jobs... It became my father's obsession to find Morrghyn and hopefully my mother. She came back to us, but she had been turned. At first we did not realize this... She bore my brother, but she had been turned while she was pregnant... she did not believe in taking it easy when she was pregnant... She believed in my father and would always go with him. She did not trust anyone else with his safety... She bore my brother and shortly after she attacked my father. In the end, both died and my brother disappeared.

"I have been trying to eliminate Morrghyn since I took control of the Party. We do job here and there, but we all know that the main objective is to finish what my father had started... at least until they all left me... the last of my father's Party.

"Morrghyn must have taken him after he was born and began using him to her own designs. I do not know why Murdoch took Taryn and my father's Party... it was probably his deep hatred of me that Morrghyn instilled into him... Why Morrghyn and Murdoch want you, I don't know... After I lost track of Murdoch and began looking elsewhere for jobs, I changed. That is why Taryn left me... That is why everyone has lost faith in me... It was because I lost the trial and took another job that only led me back onto the trail again. Ironic... That leads up to the deaths on the cliff. That party was Taryn's brother's... That was when she must have been taken... If she can still hear... tell her... I'm sorry... and... I love her..."

D laid Devin down and closed the other's staring eyes. He stood up and bowed his head to the fallen Hunter. He looked around and saw a hill littered with bodies, darkened by blood. He turned towards the moon and sheathed his sword.

"D. We got a problem. The woman... Taryn, she was not turned. Think about it. If she were, why would she use a dagger? Yes, I know she looked like one and everything I did to check to see if she had been turned confirmed it, but... Well just look at the body," D's left hand said worried.

D walked over to where Taryn's body had rolled and knelt. He touched her with his left hand and waited for the face to tell him what he found.

"Definitely human. I would say drugged, dominated, and somehow made to look like she had been turned," D's left hand confirmed what it said before.

D reached down and lifted Taryn's head. Her lips parted and he could hear her breathing slightly. He looked at the sword wound he had dealt her in the chest.

"Is there any way...?" D asked quietly.

"No. It is beyond anything I can do. You went right through her as you always do. D, it was not your fault. You did what you had to do," D's left hand offered.

"Devin?" Taryn asked in all but a whisper.

"He's gone Taryn," D answered. He watched as tears began to form in Taryn's eyes. "He said to tell you he loved you. He had always loved you."

Taryn cried quietly as she breathed shallowly. Her body shuddered a few times then went limp under D's arms. D laid her down and stood. He went rigid and stared in the direction of the moon. He began to breathe deeply and his canines grew in length as his eyes glowed blue. His DL4 cyborg horse trotted up next to him and stood waiting. He saddled the horse and kicked it into a gallop. The wind roared, picking up the grass and sod the horse had loosed. The grass flowed in waves gone amok as the wind blew madly. D ignored the wind tearing at his cape as he rode into it.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"He's here," Mikonyasha said from the balcony over looking the entry. Marble floor shone in the candlelight from the chandelier hanging overhead. The red satin covering the circular staircase seemed to be of flowing blood in the flickering light. Massive marble pillars lined the hall supporting the balconies of the floors above. She looked out over the balcony railing and saw the red satin circular stairwell become littered with vampires dropping from the stories above. She shook her head as the light from the grand chandelier in the middle of the steepled ceiling seemed to be absorbed by the darkness of the vampires' clothing. "Something as beautiful has to be scarred. Couldn't we choose another place more deserving?"

Cosette and Dyrconic joined her at the balcony as the sound of steel against wood echoed throughout the castle multiple times. All three watched as the solid, double oak door fell into the hallway. A rush of cold wind from outside forced its way through the open doorway causing the chandelier to swing and flicker. More vampires landed on the floor and on the statue in the middle of the circular staircase. D walked into the hall with swords drawn in both hands and his cape billowing; a figure of both dread and death. Rain began to fall creating a drumming sound as it beat against the roof and the grass outside. It increased into a dull roll interrupted by periodic thunder and lightning that distorted the surroundings and threw the colors seen into chaos.

The hall erupted into a maelstrom of sparks as sword was pitted against polymorphic steel capes. For D, there was not past, present, or future; there was just the Dance of the Sword. He avoided the falling pillars and statue as he used the whole hall as his ground. Continuously circling the hall, he drew the vampires after him as he made his way around on the floor, walls, and stairwell. The vampires did not let up and neither did D. They continued dropping from the balconies above preventing him from ascending to the second floor.

Several times D slipped on blood and the vampires surged against him, but each time he made his way back, preventing the vampires from overwhelming him. They too slipped, but to their deaths by either D's swords or the other vampires' polymorphic steel capes.

"No more! We cannot keep throwing them at him! We won't have any left at this rate! You know what he did when he was last in this state!" Mikonyasha yelled to Cosette to be heard over the rain and fight below. Cosette nodded and turned to leave. "Murdoch! We should leave! You cannot best him in this state. He is beyond anything you have encountered!"

"You mean anything you have encountered," Dyrconic retorted venomously.

"You are not better than us!" Mikonyasha screamed taking his bait. The two stood face to face knowing that the only thing that held them at bay was Morrghyn.

"I'll leave you to your death then," Mikonyasha smirked as she turned to leave.

"It is you who should be worried. When I am finished with D, I will take you! You and Cosette both. Both of you will do my bidding!" Dyrconic threatened as Mikonyasha disappeared. "I will have his head for a trophy, then I will be the one true Hunter D. I'll take those two Danpirus and make them curse the vampire who sired them."

He looked down at the hall and saw a room in chaotic ruins. Bodies and stone littered the floor everywhere imaginable. The chandelier had fallen and shattered o the stairwell. All that was left were fragments of its metal skeleton and glass shards that had been flung across the room. Seeing that there were only three vampires left standing, Dyrconic began to descend the stairwell. He did not expect D to take long with the three, and he was soon proven correct. When he was between the first two floors, he stood waiting for D. It was only a matter of seconds before all three vampires fell to D's sword.

D dropped the sword in his left hand, which was muffled by a body beneath it. D went to his knees braced by only his sword. He was bleeding freely from wounds that had begun to heal. Dyrconic could see that even D's black body armor had been ruined and would not last another day. Surprised, Dyrconic realized that D's hat was intact and his cape still hung from his shoulders, though lacerated beyond repair.

He walked down the stairs and kicked D's sword out from beneath him. The sword flew across the room and buried itself in a piece of fallen pillar. D broke his fall forward with his forearms, unable to fight back. Dyrconic kicked D on his back and waited for him to react. D slumped over a dead vampire clutching his side. Dyrconic could hear a hiss of pain escape through D's clenched teeth. He looked into D's eyes and saw only blue; there was no sign of what laid behind, only an eerie blue. Dyrconic picked D up by his collar and threw him across the room. Dyrconic watched as D broke through one of the standing pillars and slam into the stonewall behind.

"Let me see... you successfully defeated... about two... three... dozen vampires?" Dyrconic asked D who was slumped over the floor. "I would say that is quite impressive... but I can't. So sorry. What are you going to do now? You seemed so strong, but know you are too weak to hold yourself up."

Dyrconic walked over and grabbed D by his collar and pulled D's head in front of his own. His left hand grabbed D's hat from the floor and placed it on his head.

"How do I look? Good enough to be Hunter D? You know, even as a human Hunter, which I know something about, you make it hard for them to get jobs. You are a threat to their livelihood. Now that I know my full potential as a Danpiru, you are a threat to our survival. You have no place in this world. You are a threat to all and it is time that it comes to an end," Dyrconic said with hatred in his voice as he threw D across the room.

D slammed into the stonewall causing cracks to form a spider web from the impact of D's body. Dyrconic laughed as he picked his way across the hall. He unsheathed his sword that was strapped on his back and leveled it. His laughter died and he stopped halfway across the hall as D stood up. Dyrconic took a few steps backwards in surprise as he watched D's eyes change form blue to pure white that shone with narrow vertical pupils. Dyrconic watched in shock as D's sword dislodged itself from the pillar it was buried in. The sword flew across the room and placed itself in D's awaiting right hand.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Interesting," Morrghyn commented so that only Mikonyasha and Cosette could hear on the third level. She watched from a balcony as D and Dyrconic faced off in the hall below. "Do you know his origin?"

"No. I have never seen anyone like him. I think he is the son of the vampire king," Cosette answered as she watched the two below.

"The vampire king's son? Very possible... very possible," Morrghyn pondered quietly.

"It's time," Mikonyasha said as she watched Dyrconic close the distance between himself and D.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"So now you decide to fight! What is wrong? You cannot accept the fact that you have killed a human? It was only a matter of time! It is a part of who you are! You are part vampire!" Dyrconic yelled as he began to walk towards D.

The two stared at each other for a split second then in a flurry of motion the two attacked the other. They dodged, twisted, and blocked each other's attacks and pressed on with their own. Their swords clashed repetitively as each sought to exploit an opening. Both held their ground not giving to the other's strength or skill. The two paid no attention to the bodies on the floor as they walked over them in an attempt to catch the other off guard.

Dyrconic screamed in fury as D eluded his attacks. Dyrconic stepped back out of D's strike zone and held his sword in front of him. D paused a moment trying to discern Dyrconic's actions when suddenly he recognized an ancient vampiric dialect escape form Dyrconic's lips as he was thrown against the wall by Dyrconic's polymorphic cape. D didn't have a moment to spare as he blocked the cape's attacks with his sword in a shower of sparks as metal struck metal. Not fully understanding how the cape could change form and attack on its own free will while still on Dyrconic's back, D did everything he could think of as he avoided the cape's advances. He ran through the arcade of the hall as the cape followed him leaving showers of sparks as it pierced the stonewalls. The last of the stone columns and staircase became littered with holes as the cape tore after D. A deep rumbling sound joined the grating of metal against stone and metal against metal as columns and stairs fell to ruins.

The cape began to lag behind D and cause less damage allowing D to catch his breath. Dyrconic slumped against a fallen column as his cape returned to its original form on Dyrconic. It blew in the night wind coming from the doorway, a harmless fašade hiding the deadly truth.

The two paused a moment measuring the other. D leveled his sword at Dyrconic and leaped at him. Dyrconic watched D warily, still unnerved by the white eyes. He brought up his sword and leaped at D meeting him halfway.

Blood flowed freely on both combatants as new wounds replaced the healed wounds. Dyrconic began to give ground, unable to focus on his attacks. He continued to lose ground until he was backed up against the cracked wall where he had thrown D earlier. He frantically blocked D's attacks as he looked for a way to escape. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Morrghyn watching from a balcony on the third floor. He saw Cosette and Mikonyasha behind her in the shadows. He realized that they were not going to help as D's sword cut through his sword at the hilt leaving him defenseless.

Dyrconic cried out as D's sword buried itself in his chest to the hilt. Over D's shoulder he could see the three turn and disappear in the shadows. For the second time in his life, Murdoch felt pure fear as he stared into D's unnatural eyes. He felt D remove the hat from his head. D placed the hat on his head and removed his sword buried in both Dyrconic's body and the stonewall behind. Dyrconic leaned against the wall clutching his chest knowing that it would never heal; his heart would never heal.

"Who are you? Are you the son of the vampire king?" Dyrconic asked fervently as D stood staring at him.

A deep rumbling echoed throughout the castle as it shook and cracks spider-webbed its way up the walls as Dyrconic watched D turn to leave knowing that there was only one Hunter D and that he had finally found peace; peace from eternal torment.

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

"So what are you going to do now? You are guilty of killing a human. You have human blood on your sword," D's left hand asked quietly.

D stood leaning against his DL4 cyborg horse on a lone cliff over-looking a forest below. Behind him lay mountains that challenged the height of the sky. D watched as the sun broke the horizon. A cool breeze, a last remnant from the storm the night before, toyed with D's hair and tattered cape. The tops of the trees of the forest below bowed to the force of the breeze in graceful waves of vegetation. D looked up and saw the storm clouds moving south leaving blue skies behind.

"I still have a job to finish," D answered looking at the sun.


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