(Chapter IV The Parting of the Tides)

          The sun stretched its rays across the blue sky, dwarfing the small town of Basilton. The snow glistened like diamonds on the mountain tops as the sun's rays refracted against the ice crystals. A slight breeze blew through the valley and across the mountain side. Peace came quietly in tides of snow, blanketing the small town.
          Carla sat hunched over upon the black cyborg stallion. She held a dark blue woolen blanket tightly to her chest as the cool wind blew through her black hair. The hunter guided the horse along the rocky snow ridden path. Trailing behind was the doctor, leading four mules pulling a swaying carriage. Inside, the veiled gypsy smiled to herself.
          Dear sister, may you remain forever in my heart, in spirit and forever burning in the pits of hell, in body and soul.
          The threesome reached the inner square of Basilton near the Hotel Du Ponte. A crowd gathered as D lifted Carla from the horse's back. She wore no shoes and only a blanket, so D carried her in his arms to the porch of the hotel. She smiled up at him as he stood back, gathering the leather reins in his right hand. The doctor approached D after he had dismounted from the carriage.
          "This small town has lost so many due to this vampiress. Basilton will remain forever in your debt. However, Duraning may be another not so forgiving. After all, you did kill the idol in which they worshipped. Under their fifty years of brainwashing, it will be hard for them to adjust to normal life once again. Those with weaker souls have joined the vampiress in hell, thankfully." The doctor smiled.

          Carla watched from the porch as the crowd greeted and thanked the brave vampire hunter. D turned to look at Carla. She sat in shadows of the porch smiling at the handsome figure, hoping he would at least descend from the the crowd and come to her side for their last farewell.
          "Never a dull moment, is there?" Carla said as a statement rather than a question. She grinned as D walked towards her away from the crowd of people. After a few moments of staring at the couple on the porch, the townsfolk carried on with their busy day.
          D nodded as he approached Carla. She rushed to him, hugging him tightly in her arms. She rubbed her fingers across the slowly healing laceration in his chest. She fingered the scar and looked up at him, he watched her eyes dance across his face. As short as she was to the towering dark figure, she reached up and kissed his chin. She smiled noting the serenity in his light blue eyes.
          "Thank you so much, D."
          The hunter nodded.

*          *          *

          "God forgives those who forgive under all circumstances. Our brother, Robert, has given more than his share to those he loved and those who were his enemies. Before his untimely death, brother Robert held in his memory the love of his late brother and his wife and of course, his younger sister."
          "Brother Robert is survived by his only neice, Carla. May he rest in peace under the shadows of our dear town and watch over us in the clouds, in the morning sun and rising moon. Amen."

          A salty tear streamed down Carla's face as her uncle's coffin was lowered into the freshly plowed earth beneath her. With her head hung low, and her face hidden in the shadows of a black lace veil, she threw a single white lily into the grave and walked away. The crowd of grievers watched as she descended back down the hill away from the cemetary.
          She walked heavy with guilt and sorrow, watching the sway of the grass beneath her feet. In the distance she heard the labored snort of a horse and turned to her left. There, hidden in the cool shadows of a oak tree stood the vampire hunter.
          Carla smiled and hurried towards him, lifting her black chiffon skirts as she ran. The black veil had fallen from her face revealing her sweet red cheeks and bright green eyes to the hunter. She was only a few feet from the hunter, squinting to see what was in his hand. As she approached, the form of a small red rose came into view.
          She stood there watching the hunter's cape and hair flowing from his shoulders in the wind.
          "Unusual weather we're having, dont you think?" She asked.
          The hunter raised his head to glance up at the big white wisking clouds in the sky. The firmament was a blue iridescent hue and the pastures shined like emeralds. The weather certainly had changed and immediately. By this time, the sun would be too low to even shine during the day but somehow, the sun and the earth were finally in tune with each other. Nature was balanced once again.
          "Doesnt seem like December, " the hunter said watching the butterflies fluttering around the horses head. Carla smiled.
          "Those were dark days, D. I'm glad you were able to come and help us."
          D sat atop his horse, unchanged.
          "I guess this is goodbye. I'm glad you could stay for his funeral." D nodded and dismounted from his horse. Carla stood watching him as he approached her slowly. Her mind began to wonder as he took her hand in his. She looked up at him. Almost a foot taller than me. Wow. Hold still now! D handed the carefully clipped rose to her. She lifted its petals to her nose to inhale its passionate aroma.
          D slipped a pale white hand under her chin, lifting her lips to his. Carla's heart raced. This would be her first kiss ever and coming from the bravest of all men was above her head and below her knees. D kissed her bottom lip first, savoring her taste and the fullness of her lip between his. He brushed his fingers across her right cheek. Carla fell limp beneath him but caught herself before she fell.
          This time the kiss came full on. Carla did not expect to taste sweetness in his kiss. His tongue came in currents between her lips, lovingly yet in a ravaging twist. He kissed her to please a longing in himself but soon realized that she was kissing him back.
          The two of them stood in a sweet embrace beneath the dark shade of the oak tree but the time came to pass when he left her standing on the hill, holding herself, still tasting his lips. He knew he had done wrong by kissing her the way he did. He would leave her now, waiting and hoping. Waiting for him to come back and hoping he would be back before age took hold of her youth. Yet, she knew he would not come back to her. She knew she hadnt the strength to change him from the man he is.

          "That was a nice little dream. Now get your head out of clouds and let's start down this path before I get sick in this cold weather," hissed the parasite. The hunter shook his head and tightened his grip on the leather reins. He pulled the cyborg horse away from the Hotel Du Ponte and nudged him forward into the showering snowflakes.
          The lights of Basilton wavered in the increasing gusts of snow as D rode away from the edge of the town and back into the dreariness of the expansive mountain pass. He would ride west for twelve days to the ruins of a country once known as France.


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