Chapter 1

The air was warm and heavy with humidity, the cloudless sky speckled with bright stars that glowed brightly. The 8,000-person village had a few dim street lamps, and all the windows were dark. It was the year 1990 and here in the middle of nowhere it seemed that the rest of the country had forgotten to bring in the huge florescent street lamps that would have bathed everything in light. Street lamps like that were one of the things Heron hated about this time, that and paved roads, both of which made horse or foot travel by night less concealed and more noisy. It was the new moon and everything was hard to see, especially the figure that stood on a small hilltop just above the town, head bowed, eyes closed, leaning on his staff, concentrating. A soft breeze played with his long cloak and made the leaves of the tree he was standing under flutter. The shadows seemed to swallow him unnaturally, embracing him like a long-lost brother, and even the few bats that were out would have found themselves unable to sense his presence, even with their echolocation, which could guide them through twisting caves. The orb topping the long staff he held glowed faintly, then the light vanished, he lifted his head and chuckled faintly before suddenly vanishing.

He reappeared in a back alley that was rather dirty. He walked up to an old rickety house, up the stone steps and across the porch, moving so silently that the rat crouching in the shadows didn't sense him at all. When he reached the front door he knocked firmly, but the sound seemed to vanish in the night, and none of the neighbors heard it.

A few minutes later a woman opened the door, though she was hidden in shadows. With a small gasp of surprise she stepped back, then dropped to one knee for a few seconds, the other said nothing as she rose and beckoned him inside.

The door shut with a soft click behind him and Heron lowered his hood, Cassandra led the way into her living room silently. Like Arai's house this one too had a huge underground area and was covered in antiques and dimly lighted.

"It is good to see you again Phoenix, I was starting to think you'd gotten yourself killed somewhere." Cassandra said to him as they sat down. She was a petit woman, five foot six, which was small for a vampire, with long blond hair and eyes so black you couldn't tell where the pupils ended. Thin, with delicate features, she was nonetheless an excellent knife thrower and with her inhuman strength, speed, and powers a formidable opponent. She also was highly skilled in keeping track of other vampires, and it was her main occupation, her telepathy skills were such that she could find out where other vampires were at all times, though Arai and Nasiji had always managed to hide themselves from her very well.

"Is it nice to see you as well Cassandra, how have the past few centuries been for you?" Harry asked politely.

"The same as usual, I must say though it is difficult to keep up with all these inventions the mortals keep turning out." Heron smiled, keeping up with the times got difficult for vampires once their own time had passed.

"Well maybe that will slow eventually. Cassandra you must know why I've come?"

"Phoenix...I have noticed a huge increase in the numbers of vampires...it worries me greatly...in my 2,945 years I have never seen it rise so quickly." She said, speaking quickly and sounding rather frightened. Harry raised an eyebrow slightly, Cassandra was always straight to the point, and she had probably guessed why he come, but he had never seen her so worried.

"Indeed? Voldemort must have a few dedicated recruits going around making more."

"More than I few I think, a dozen or so." Cassandra replied, Harry didn't question it, she was usually right about things like that.

"They'll have to be dealt with then, but it'll be a few years until I can." Cassandra nodded her understanding, though she didn't understand at all why he couldn't do so now. Heron wasn't going to go into a huge explanation, in this time he hadn't yet become a war mage, so therefore he couldn't be going around killing vampires could he? What if some remembered or reported a wizard hunting them down? This was one case where he'd just have to let things get worse before starting to undo them.

"My time here grows short, thank you for your aid Cassandra, all I'll need are the names of the worst ones." Cassandra closed her eyes and began reciting.

"There's Gerald, he's made some forty vampires in the past tow years, then Dashim, Versa, Sidney..." She went on for some time, Harry storing away all the names, names were a useful weapon.

"Very well, thank you again Cassandra, and good bye."

A few minutes later a horse with a rider on its back ran off into the night, and vanished.

Heron had chased his prey almost across the continent and halfway back during the past week and a half, now in one of the more hilly and remote regions of Africa's' grasslands he was finally nearing his quarry.

The vampire Gerald had been highly elusive, well practiced in keeping away form those whom he didn't wish to find him. At five foot eight with tanned skin when he'd died (meaning it stayed reasonably tanned even if he was a vampire) dusty brown hair and brown eyes and nothing to set him apart his only distinguishing feature here was that he was white, and had fangs. In the time Heron had been chasing him he'd made five new vampires, Heron was, needless to say, furious. When someone becomes a vampire they need help to learn and control their vampire abilities and their place in the world, Gerald's 'children' were left to wander alone and confused, the only reason they were vampires was that they were useful to Voldemort that way, someday soon he would call them too him. Heron was now back in his real time, and confused that Voldemort had yet to call these vagabonds to him.

Though none of that was going to matter in the slightest when he finally caught up with Gerald, which would most likely be in the old city ahead.

The city was very old, built half of stone half of earth ad mud. There was a group of some two hundred and fifty natives living in it at this time. It was large, and with all the twisting alleys a good place for a game of hide and seek. However all of the passages were easily large enough to ride two horses down side by side. There were also two other vampires there.

Diablo raced on, Heron on his back urging him on, his black cloak and hair flying out behind him. Heron signaled Diablo to stop on a small hill just outside the town, the paint reared as he stopped, pawing the air, before dropping back to the ground with a soft thud. Heron looked out over the town, watching, sensing. Then he raised his head slightly and opened his mouth, a weird piercing cry rang out. Something between the hunting scream of an eagle and the war cry of a phoenix, sharp and loud it sliced through the night.

And wherever they were in the city the vampires stopped dead in their tracks, frozen with terror.

In a small stone building just outside of the city, in the back against the hill six vampires froze, their eyes widening with shock.

The hunting cry rang out again; a tiny whimper of fear escaped one of the six vampires, another shrank back into the shadows, shivering in terror. These six vampires had heard that cry before, and they knew what it meant, and the memories it brought were not pleasant, this was the second way war mages hunted vampires.

The hunting cry was difficult to learn, human throats don't naturally make it, and a lot f magic goes into it. It is a form of radar, when the magic in the cry is heard by a vampire the war mage instantly knows where they are. It also completely destabilizes the vampire's mind. Even if the vampire doesn't have a clue what it means the fear is inescapable, they react like a deer caught in a cars headlights, frozen. It washes over their senses, the terror it causes is enough to send they running, if they can Their ability to think rationally vanishes along with their ability of speech, and the fear is so intense that they often can't get themselves to even move correctly.

About nine and a half centuries earlier the vampire population had gotten way out of control, there were just too many of them. The war mages had responded by coming out of their mountains in force, all of those sent capable of doing the cry. And for ten days and nights without stop they hunted the vampires, driving them like sheep before a wolf pack, finally cornering them in a large sprawling city in the land of the elves. For the next five days and nights they hunted down and destroyed every last vampire in the city. The only ones to escape were the old ones, those powerful enough to manage to escape, or those who pledged to never join a dark wizard, giant, elf, goblin, whatever. It had been the most intense and terrible vampire round up in history, sometimes vampire's terror becomes so much that they manage to flee, the resulting chases are often horrible for the vampire. It is often much quicker if they just stay where they are. The cry removes a vampire's ability to fly, so all they can do is run, with their inhuman speed it should be more than enough, but war mages are hardly human. Their horses, the Zoran, are fast enough to run down a vampire, even if the vampire has a head start. It is far less terrifying and much quicker a death to simply let the war mages find you, and there's also a much better chance of them letting you go, if the vampire flees they'll chase them forever, literally. And kill them with exhaustion, the dawn, and fire, often much more slowly since the vampire will of course continue to try to flee.

Else where in the small town the other three vampires, Gerald among them, ran for cover, shaking with fright. The hunting cry rang out again, in the city now, the war mage had "caught their scent" and was after them.

The chase proved to not be as long as Heron had expected. Gerald was a young vampire, only three centuries, and while he might be elusive he had never been hunted before. Heron on Diablo ran him down in the main street, without a sound a huge halo of flames erupted around Gerald, a few seconds later he was gone, completely obliterated, leaving only a few smudges on the ground.

The terrible victory cry that shattered the deathly still night air made one of the six vampires sink to his knees, hands over his ears, eyes shut, all of them had shaking hands on their ears, one of them sat down hard on a chair with a shuddering sigh, another was biting her lip so hard it bled. There was a short pause, and then another hunting cry rang out.

Heron had paused after finished off Gerald, sending out his mind for the other two, not noticing the six huddled in the small stone building. But they were the oldest vampires, and ever good at staying hidden, and he wasn't looking for them. On both of the other vampires he noticed...felt, the dark sickening taint that was Voldemort. A breeze wafted past, Diablo reared, screaming furiously, Heron gave a grim smile, Diablo loved the hunt, and he could sense Voldemort as well, a rare trait not possible in a normal horse, and fairly uncommon even among the Zoran.

"Nelas hewemahi ulsan yagulshai jaher huh?" (Thee senses their darkness too huh?") Diablo pawed the ground, positively growling, at Heron's signal he leaped forward with a high pitched scream, as one they bent into a tight turn down the alley, Heron leaned forward over his horse and let out another hunting cry. His robes and hair flapped about him, Diablo's mane flying in his face. Diablo gave a growling snort, his powerful muscles bunching as he leaped a three foot high stone wall and landed with hardly a sound.

In the small stone hut one vampire sighed and leaned back, sliding down into a corner of the room, the dark figure leaning against the window in another corner shivered then said in a whisper,

"The Phoenix hunts the city tonight, there must be Voldemort's vampires about." The cry rang out again, as one all six convulsed in a shudder, this time it was much nearer. Then there was a distinct pause in the hunting cries. "He has sensed us." Arai murmured, though his companions hardly needed to hear it. When the cry came again it was farther away, on the other side of the city.

After a few more cries Heron finally caught up with the next vampire, they rounded the tall stone pillar, Diablo screamed and sped up as the vampire fled, his hooves slamming into the ground, Heron leaned forward and up over Diablo, raising an arm he pointed at the fleeing figure, who erupted with all the violence of a miniature bomb into an explosion of flames, a single shriek, and he was gone. Heron twisted to the side, Diablo reared, and they took off back into the maze of stone ruins.

The last vampire was ferreted out quickly, and died just as quickly, Heron slowed Diablo to a walk, despite his workout over the past two days the horse was in fine shape, nearly prancing as they moved. Heron turned him towards the stone hut where he had sensed the others.

At the final victory cry the six vampires had slowly begun to relax, by the time Heron arrived, and he came slowly on purpose, they were all basically composed again. They could here the soft thuds of the horses hooves, very light on his feet, even for a Zoran. A few minutes later Arai turned and opened the door.

Heron bowed his head as all the vampires in the room bowed to him. He came in and closed the door behind him.

"Good evening. I apologize, had I known you would be here I would have warned you earlier."

"It's quite alright master, it is...almost...reassuring to hear that again. This sudden increase in vampires is scary, especially since so many are with Voldemort." Arai said softly, Heron nodded, not hiding his disappointment.

"Yes sadly, a huge number of them, thankfully he hasn't used them yet."

"And with luck never will," said Cerele, raising form her chair, "it is good to see the war mages have started to return Phoenix. The world has...changed, and not for the better." Kylar nodded in agreement.

"Master my gifts have always been strong in the area of predicting the future, but right now...I have been sensing a coming disturbance, a huge one of catastrophic proportions, but I do not know what it could be, nor when." Nasiji said softly, of them all she was the oldest, and the strongest, he wasn't surprised.

"Yes, it is coming, but not for many a decade I believe, we have time enough. The problems right now lie with Voldemort and the army he is raising." Heron told her, making a mental note to meet with her later, closer to the Breaking, her talents might just be able to predict it to within a certain few years.

"What sort of army is he trying to raise?" Vera asked him.

"Witches, wizards, vampires, trolls, werewolves...demons maybe," here he met Arai's eyes briefly, "he doesn't have any giants, dwarves, goblins, or elves yet thankfully, and with luck won't." Vera nodded slowly, it was always the same pattern with dark wizards, but never on the scale Voldemort managed things.

"Well Phoenix, the night is still young, and I plan to travel to America to meet with a friend of mine who should be able to update me on the vampires of Washington DC." Cerele said, bowing and sweeping silently out the door.

"A nice flight to you, and I must return to the Palace, my apprentices are likely very worried." Heron said, and departed. He leaped up onto Diablo and they cantered off behind the hill, once well out of sight of the village he teleported them in a flash back to the valley.

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