The Woman in White, the Hunter in Black
The wind and rain sounded like an endless battle while the nighttime clouds overhead glowed white as lightning zipped through. The town standing witness below the war of the storm was quiet and seemed serene even under such conditions. Darkness shrouded the sleeping town and only the dull glimmer of the street lamps could barely be seen through the thick sheets of rain. Beneath the roaring wind and rain a shadowy figure ran through the streets, quickly darting through the swinging doors of the open saloon.
Inside the saloon, that doubled as a hotel, there were not many patrons. A few men huddled in the corner arguing over a lost poker game while two slovenly women pranced about wailing with laughter. At the bar, two men chatted quietly to themselves, every once in a while peering over their shoulders at the figure in the corner of the bar. Sitting near a very brightly lit corner of the room was a man dressed in black, his black traveler's hat casting a shadow over his face. A cup of steaming black liquid sat in front of him on the table but didn't seemed to have been touched.
The shadowy figure, who had been running through the rain, finally took their hooded cape off. Beneath the black, dripping wool cape was a slender woman dressed all in white. Her white dress looked to be that of a winter nightgown as it was made of glistening white flannel and reached all the way to the tips of her toes, which were covered in muddy slippers. The men at the bar took notice of her as she fluffed her black curling hair, shaking water droplets from her brow. Her eyes glistened green as her lips sparkled pink.
The woman approached the bar and asked the bartender quietly for a room. He smiled seductively, handed her a room key and slipped the paper money from her slender white hand into his pocket. She smiled, reproachfully, and took off towards the staircase. She stopped briefly to turn around and caught the man in black staring at her from under his traveler's hat.
The dark gray clouds of the night before still clung to the morning sky, trying to squeeze the last few drops of a torrential rain. The streets were caked with mud as were the people who walked upon it. The man in black stood on the porch of the town's only hotel, watching the townsfolk walked by. They each gazed at him as they slid by making sure their children didn't stare as long as they did. The man in black was a Hunter, after all, and his main prey were vampires. The men behind the Hunter on the porch stared in awe at the length of his long sword in it's black lacquered scabbard. This was definitely a sword which saw many a vampire's death. But this man was no ordinary Hunter. He was Vampire Hunter D...on hiatus.
D leaned against the wooden column that supported the porch's roof and took out a small piece of paper with the wax seal still attached. He opened it slowly and began to re-read the calligraphic message scrawled upon it.
To the Vampire Hunter known as D,
May it be known that your current employer, Count Orssini, requires you stay at the Crescent Moon Hotel in the town of Gerard until further instruction has been given to you. He sincerely apologizes for this cryptic message but insists it shall be a matter of time until he is able to receive any more clues to your investigation.
Madame Isabella Rossi
The Hunter gently folded the piece of paper and slipped it back into his coat pocket. The early morning wind had picked up and was quite cool. The men who had been behind D, buttoned up their coats and walked on muttering to themselves. D stepped off the porch and walked in the direction of the stables where his horse had stayed for the night. A group of slow elderly women cut D off from his path to the stables only to gawk at him and speak about his apparent beauty. Trying not to seem curt, D listened to the praises the women had to give him. Some of the women had actually witnessed the slaying of a vampire by his hands when they were children.
The town of Gerard was well known for the good-tempered treatment of wandering Vampire Hunters, especially the dhampir kind. The quiet town had seen it's fair share of enchanting vampires and was quite accustomed to the quiet yet strange nature of those who came to kill the vampires. Treating the Hunters, especially the dhampirs, like they were outsiders was not a custom and was certainly not tolerated. The elderly made up the majority of the town and a hefty handful of them knew the Vampire Hunter D personally.
As D stood and listened to the much unwanted banter of the elderly ladies, in the corner of his eye he made out the image of the raven-haired woman in white. She wore her black wool cape over her dress but the white of the fabric gleamed like the north star in the night sky. She walked in his direction but not towards him particularly. She merely strolled, kept her eyes focused on nothing ahead of her. As she passed D and the old women, she looked up just in time to catch the Hunter's gray eyes watched her again. Her green eyes sparkled as she looked away and walked straight past D deeper into the town.
The elderly ladies had stopped talking and were watched the Hunter as he watched the woman in white. He had been completely taken by her so much that he hadn't realize the women had been yanking on his coat and cape. They needed his attention badly but the woman in white had stolen it away. As he made his adieu, D crept pass the women and into the stable to check on his horse.
The brief encounter with the woman in white had left a lasting impression on D. Who was the enigmatic figure? She looked to foreign to be from this town. He stopped pondering when his left hand began to itch. D balled up his fist tightly and returned to brushing his black cyborg steed. The woman in white seemed familiar but after sifting through the faces of familiars in his mind, D could not place her face. He decided then to leave the matter and his horse to call on the manager of the general store.
The local mercantile throbbed with early morning shoppers, mostly elderly people. As the Hunter walked in, all eyes were on him but only briefly as he nodded to them all and walked up to the counter where the manager stood. The two men chatted quietly about the raising prices in horse feed and atomic cores for cyborg horses. The manager laughed while the Hunter was quiet, who had apparently made a snide remark in order to get a rise out of D. Evidently, the Hunter realized he would not be able to purchase the most important item on his list at the mercantile. The Hunter nodded and left the store. All eyes watched as he departed.
The town of Gerard stood in the shadow of a colossal mountain. Some people lived near the very summit of the gigantic mound. One of the people who lived there was a shaman from the old world who had traveled near and far. He had settled in Gerard nearly fifty years ago and traded expensive items to whomever came along, especially to dhampirs. The main reason D had decided to hike up the mountain to see Ali, the shaman was to buy a very important item; the very essence of life.
As he climbed the steep path up to the shaman's cabin, D heard a rustle in the trees above him. He could clearly make out the shadowy figure but was unsure of it's race or gender. His left hand went behind his head to his sword. In a storm of falling leaves and branches, the shadowy figure had leaped from the fifty foot tall tree to the ground in a matter of seconds as D's blade graced the towering tree's canopy.
The shadowy figure stood firmly on the ground, a silver sword clasped in it's right hand. The figure wore a hood over its face but D could still see the glistening green eyes through the shadows. The figure backed slowly away, stopped and ran forward taking another swipe at D. The Hunter's blade narrowly missed the small white leg as the figure sprang up and above him. After a few seconds passed, D realized the figure had disappeared. He sheathed his sword and continued to walk up the hill. He looked behind every so often to make sure the figure was gone for good.
The shaman's cabin stood uneasily off the side of the mountain's summit. The steps up to the house were made of good sturdy stone yet the ground underneath seemed as if it might give way at any minute. The Hunter reached the front door without so much as taking a step on those rocks and knocked lightly on the door. Mere seconds later the shaman open the door to greet the Hunter along with several small cats. The shaman's eyes lit up as he smiled and gestured for D to come in.
The cabin was small but fit the shaman and all his dainty little bottles of mysterious liquids. After taking a few minutes to praise the Hunter and all his past efforts, the shaman nodded and ran over to a red lacquered cabinet etched with gold and blue flowers. Inside the cabinet were several large pill bottles filled with red capsules. Each bottle was named “Blood Pills for Dhampirs”. D bought two of the large bottles, handed Ali four pieces of paper money, thanked him and walked out of his cabin.
That night the saloon was completely full. A young man, swathed in young girls, danced around in a drunken stupor with his friends nearby to refill his glass and egg him on. With the party loud downstairs, the Hunter D sought solace in his quiet room. The quiet room was the best environment for deep though. His current employer seemed to have abandoned him but at least gave him ample accommodations in a very nice town for a week. D sat in a chair, one leg propped up on the window sill and watched the clouds pass in front of the moon.
His thoughts came and went. He thought of the investigation his employer had hired him for and how odd it seemed that he should stay in this quiet town until further notice when he could be out with a new employer. He thought of how far he had come out of his way to stay at this town until a new thought passed in front of him: the woman in white.
Had it been her, the shadowy figure, that tried to gouge at him? Or perhaps those green eyes were a coincidence. Many trolls had green eyes, just not sparkling. If it were the woman in white who tried to kill him, who hired her and for what reason? D could think of many reasons but the fact eluded him at the moment. Then he thought of how familiar her face had looked when he saw her in the town square. She was too pale and too beautiful to be human so she had to have been a demon of some sort. Good or bad, it didn't matter to D. All he knew was that someone had tried to kill him on his way to the shaman and, should he come across that person again, he would make it their last encounter.
The party below started to quiet down with many of the saloon's patrons passed out on chairs or tables. The young man lay snoring loudly with three girls at his sides. At the bar, with a grin on her face, was the woman in white. Her curling black hair was tied into a ponytail, exposing her milky white shoulders. Those who were awake had her image in their line of sight but were quickly shifted to that of the Vampire Hunter who strode down the stairs. D stood with his hat in his hand, his long black hair curling down his shoulders and around his face, looking much like death embodied. He walked to the bar and sat three chairs down from the woman in white.
The Hunter stared straight ahead as he asked the woman in white her name. She turned slowly to the Hunter, nodded and walked off out of the saloon. The Hunter had the urge to follow her but was forced to his seat and watched her take leave. As strong as his curiosity was, finding out who she was would have to wait.
D walked to the swinging doors of the saloon, hat still in hand and watched the woman in white slink away into the misting streets of the dark town. The scene from earlier in the day was still etched fresh in his mind and as he stood there, he pondered more about the woman in white. Was it she? She could easily hide a small sword in that hooded cape of hers, in the folds of her white dress. She was small but seemed agile enough. Yet, as dainty as she seemed it was highly unlikely she could leap from tree to ground without crumbling to the dirt. D wiped these notions from his mind and walked back up the stairs to his room.
The cold night wore on and there was no sign of the woman in white on the streets. The Hunter closed his window and sat on the unmade bed. To keep his sword at his side, or even in his hand would be ideal for this night and every other night after that.
Another letter was handed to D the very next day while he sat at the bar of the saloon. The messenger made a quick retreat, his dark eyes still locked on D as he stumbled onto the porch and into the street. The Hunter picked up the letter, snapped the wax seal and read slowly.
To the Vampire Hunter known as D,
It is my duty to inform you of the Count's wish that you proceed to the next town of Endover in three days time. Accommodations have been arranged at the Hotel Eichelberger. The one you seek will make contact with you there in three days time. So please, stay where you are until then.
Madame Isabella Rossi
Again, the cryptic messages confused and frustrated the Hunter but all he was allowed to do was stay stationed at the quiet town and wait. Waiting was quite possibly the hardest thing for any Vampire Hunter to do when vampires were to be killed and money was to be made. Instead of neatly folding up the letter and placing it in his pocket, the Hunter took a match from his pocket, crumpled up the letter and set it aflame.
As the day wore on, D again visited the mountain's summit. On the pathway, the Hunter stopped near the same tree the shadowy figure had jumped out of the day before. He leaned back and looked through the branches up to the very sky itself. Nothing. The footsteps of the figure were still on the path frozen in a bed of mud. D knelt down to take a closer look. The foot imprint, from the heel to the toes, was nearly six and a half inches long. A woman's shoe size or preteen child. D took a mental image of the imprint and continued to walk up the pathway.
Just a little ways past the shaman's cabin began the one hundred foot climb to the summit. A rocky facade full of jutting boulders of granite stared down at the Hunter. After he had climbed or more correctly, leaped up to the top, D sat down in the small space provided by a large piece of flat granite and watched the antics of the world below. To his left was the town of Gerard and to his right was the highway which led to the towns of Endover and Marcheline. Not far from here was the Capital where his employer, Count Orssini, resided.
Low lying clouds floated just meters above where D sat on the summit. The mountain didn't have a name and only reached ten thousand or so feet into the sky. Only those of limitless energy and young age could climb to the summit and enjoy the view. For it's small stature, the mountain was still home to numerous large houses that hung dangerously off the edge. D had visited the mountain many times before, even before the town of Gerard had become as prosperous as it was now.
As D sat atop the windy summit, his eyes shifted to a figure on the pathway approaching the cliff face. It was the shaman, Ali. Four small cats followed behind the shaman as if to keep him safe. After the shaman had made it up safely, D stood up to let the old man sit beside him on the flat granite seat. For what seemed a few moments of silence, the shaman started to talk. He told D of all his disappointments in life and how when the Hunter had saved him as a small boy his life turned for the better. The Hunter merely nodded. D turned to the shaman and asked him if he knew anything of the woman in white; if she were from the town or not.
The shaman shook his head and replied that the woman came the same day the Hunter did. D's eyes widened. D thought to himself who could she be? His left hand began to itch. The Hunter decided to stay at the summit with the old man until the shaman was ready to return to his home.
An hour later, D arrived at the hotel. The porch was still covered in curious, odd men who scratched their heads over the Hunter's appearance. D walked inside, up the stairs and into his room. After closing his bedroom door behind him, a small face appeared in his left hand. D sat in a chair near the open window of his room. It seems this woman in white is troubling you, said the face, if only one could figure out what her purpose here was without her walking off with a smirk.
D took his hat off and placed in on his crossed legs. The woman had certainly started to stir some up some unwanted thoughts for the Hunter. Why! I don't believe you've thought about a woman this much since we left Doris and her brother all those years ago. D nodded almost in disbelief. Yet, there was something strange about the woman. When she had first walked through the saloon doors she had a strange aura about her. She almost glowed when she took off her wool cape. Her face, her eyes and even her hair had a strange familiarity to it. Perhaps she is in her room now. Want to do a little investigating? D thought for a moment.. He stood up, topped himself with his hat and walked out of the room.
The dark hallway seemed abandoned. He walked quietly down the hall and with his preternatural hearing, he listened for voices in each room. Several rooms seemed empty yet in a few he could hear voices. None of them seemed to fit hers. There were two doors left. One on his immediate right and one straight ahead of him. The Hunter listened intently but heard nothing from either room. He started to make his way back down the hallway when he heard giggling. He turned around quick and realized the sound was coming from the door straight ahead of him.
D walked slowly to the door and put his left hand flat on the cold wood. I see someone on the bed. They may be asleep. Wait! It's a woman wearing white. This must be her! D took his left hand away and stood quietly by the door. A million thoughts flooded his mind. Flashes of her face and her lips danced before his eyes. Almost like a dream, a flash of the woman's face appeared in his mind. A misty haze enveloped her body yet her face was clear. Her eyes were a terrible green, illuminated from the inside. Her wet lips glistened and her chest heaved. Something pulled D to the door and held him tight. D struggled to right himself yet the force held him strong. A face started to form in the wood of the door. It was a woman's face. First her nose, lips, then her closed eyes appeared. D leaned back to try to see the face more clearly. It was the woman in white. A small hand reached through near D's midsection. D fought with all his might to free himself. He looked down to see the hand press against his chest, then slide from the blue pendant to his stomach. As the hand reached further down, D's eyes started to glow red. The wooden face's eyes opened in shock and recoiled. Before the hand was able to recoil into the door, a flash disrupted the tip of it's index finger. D stood back, sheathing his sword, he looked down to see the small tip of wood disappear.
D kicked down the bedroom door. The wooden door exploded into a hail of splinters. D looked around the empty room only to find the bed made, covered in split wood but not a body. I could've swore I saw her laying there! D turned around and left the room.
Downstairs in the saloon, the bartender stood behind the bar cleaning a glass while two older men fought about the rising prices in rechargeable cores for their cyborg horses. Beside the two men, smiling, was the woman in white. She looked up just as D had cleared the last step of the stairwell. D stopped for a split second, confused about what happened upstairs, and then looked back to the woman. She smiled innocently and tapped the bar for another refill of her cold beverage. Not wanting to seem flustered, D walked to a nearby table and sat down. The waitress soon fluttered by taking his order of one tall warm water and sprinted away.
The woman in white obviously had her fill of the two men's conversation as she started toward D's table with her drink in hand. She stood for a second and then took a seat in front of him. The Hunter finally looked up at her and she smiled. Now is your chance to figure out who she is and how in the hell she was able to scurry down here so quickly after trying to suck you through a wooden door. The Hunter sat quietly as the waitress showed back up with his warm water. He looked at it for a second and then back at the woman. She was gone. She had run outside. D ran and shot through the doors to the street outside. He barely made out her white skirt around the corner of the next building. D walked quickly to the edge of the building and peeked around to see the woman in white undressing.
The Hunter in black cocked his head to one side. The woman in white stood naked, her white dress at her knees, and gestured to the Hunter to come forward. After what had happened in the hotel, the Hunter was reluctant to move forward and stood his ground. The woman dropped her head; her shoulders shook while she laughed. She held her arms out for the Hunter but he still stood as far away as he could. Finally, she walked forward, slowly. The Hunter tried to move back but couldn't. It wasn't because she was forcing him to stay but merely his lack of wanting to move.
The woman stood close to him now. Her black curling hair blew in the breeze and tickled his chin. The Hunter couldn't help but look into her eyes. She was a tall woman but still stood a few inches shorter than him. She licked her pink lips and reached her small hand up to his chest. D caught her hand in his right hand. She stood stunned for a second but melted into a beautiful seductive smile. She came closer to him, her hand still in his. Her lips parted mere inches from his. In his deepest darkest of minds, D had the urge to close the gap between them. Instead, the Hunter pushed her backwards. The woman shot him a look that could've killed other men. In a flurry of white, a silver sword came slicing through towards D.
D deflected the small sword with his and jumped up and over the woman. She grasped her silver sword, as thin as a blade of grass, and thrust it towards the Hunter. The two blades hit as red sparks shot out in either direction. D sidled up behind the woman, turned his sword inwards and took a jab at her ribs. The blade barely pierced her skin as she jumped up, rising up and over the buildings. The Hunter took off after her but as he cleared the roof tops she was no where to be seen.
You've been had. You gotta face it. She had you. D squeezed his left hand into a fist and choked off the tiny voice. The Hunter bared his fangs and grunted as he dropped back down into the alley way. This night he would keep watch instead of sleeping and he would surely get the last say.
Two evenings passed and the Hunter saw no sight of the woman in white. Her presence was no longer felt upstairs in the hotel nor in the saloon. Even on the pathway to the summit, D was met by only playful youngsters and the shaman's cats. D was stumped and when he returned to the hotel, a message from the Count was waiting for him. D snatched up the letter and took it to his room. After he carefully considered the letter, D folded it up and put in his coat pocket. He was to leave for Endover tonight and meet a messenger for more clues into his investigation. D packed his things which consisted of no more than his sword and took off quickly to the stable to collect his horse.
Night crept fast through the town and even with his senses on high alert, the Hunter still did not feel the woman's presence. She's gone. But why the quick retreat? In the stable, D put the saddle on his cyborg steed, tightened all the loose ends. As he walked his horse out onto the street, D felt a sudden presence. It didn't feel like the same aura the woman in white had. In fact, it felt stronger. D unsheathed his sword. The streets were deserted and only a hushed wind blew between the buildings. Finally, D decided nothing was coming to get him, so he mounted his horse and took off to the pathway near the mountain.
Instead of taking the highroad to the summit, D took a lower route going down into a valley. Fog slowly made its way up the pathway leading to Endover. As D urged his horse on he heard a rustle in the leaves to his left. D stopped and dismounted his horse to inspect the bush. Sword unsheathed and held at the ready, something suddenly emerged from the bush. A small badger. The Hunter had nearly jabbed at the small animal when up from above him the woman in white came fluttering down in a storm of branches and falling rocks. Scared from the chaos, D's horse took off running down the pathway.
The woman in white stood to face D, her silver sword at her side. This was it. She had come back to finish him off. But why? D dragged his blade across the dirt road as he walked slowly to her. He stopped, close enough to reach out and strangle her. As his blade came up, her sword seared towards his middle. Faster than a shadow, D slid to his left as she passed by him and nicked her shoulder with his blade. The woman slid to a stop and held her shoulder. When she removed her hand D saw that the small laceration had disappeared. That's it! She's just like you! She's a dhampir! But why the hell is she trying to kill you?
The woman smiled and came at D again, sword raised and pointed towards his heart. As she flew towards him, D jumped high into the sky, whipped around just in time to seeing her flying towards him. Blades met, scratched and sparked. D landed quietly on the other side of the road. The woman was in the trees. D saw her green eyes glitter in the darkness and at that moment he spun around, blade at full length. When he stopped spinning, every tree within striking distance came tumbling down even the tree the woman hid in. She rolled out of the falling trees and jumped, sword held high. D left himself open. The small silver blade pierced D's heart. A flash from his left hand shot out towards the woman. Fresh red blood began to gush from D's chest. The woman smiled.
The Hunter and the woman scowled at each other for a moment. The woman in white suddenly coughed up blood. The flash from D's left hand had been a wooden needle and it had pierced her heart. Another flash from his right hand and his blade pushed the needle deeper. Both Hunter and woman fell to their knees; blood poured from their mouths. D pulled his blade out and dropped it to his side. As he did so, the woman fell back, her white dress now red. With his right hand, D pulled out her silver blade from his bloodied chest and dropped it near her limp body. D walked over to her and knelt by her side.
She bled profusely from the small wound in her chest. Blood oozed from her mouth and nose. The woman still breathed and as D lifted her body to his knee, he looked into her pale green eyes and saw no glimmer. Her mouth turned into a bloody smile.
“Not as strong as you, now,” she said in a raspy voice. D furrowed his brow, tried to understand her meaning. Her body began to stiffen up as death took over.
“Who are you?” D asked, his voice quiet like the dead.
The woman in white blinked, her black pupils took over her green eyes. Her life source spilled down the pathway in the direction of Endover. She smiled one last time; lifted a small white finger to D's face. She pressed her finger into his cheek and with her last breath, she whispered, “...sister.”