D rode through the unusual heat, feeling the effects of heat exhaustion on his body. As the midday sun shone through the canopy of the tall pines, D decided he needed to take time for a rest. The day was unusually hot after all, and D couldn't ride much further without risking the consequences heat exhaustion, something he could not afford to leave to chance. With a quiet sigh, D tied the black cyborg horse to a low branch within a hollowed pine.

"It's hot today, isn't it?" Left Hand said, his voice being muffled by D's enclosed fist. D didn't answer, already starting to drift into a light sleep. "Yeah, it's warm out, particularly for a forest like this. You know, rest isn't the only option you have to regain your energy."

Left Hand chuckled at his taunts. He knew, as well as anyone else, that dhampir's had the same thirst for blood that the Nobility had. Taunting D with it was just another perk of being part of the powerful vampire hunter.

"Come on, I know what you're thinking…what your feeling right now. It wouldn't be hard, the town is only a little ways up the road."

D opened his eyes slightly, looking down at his hand. "No," he replied, emotionless as usual.

"Oh come now, D, think about it. It would be easy for you, even in this light. Why not go? You need sustenance; you've been traveling for two days straight. All that blood, it's just what you need."

Left Hand chuckled again, waiting for D to reply. However, a reply didn't come.

"D? D, are you listening?"

Left Hand waited, his only reply the light breathing of D's sleep.

"Hmph, just great. So much for that conversation," Left Hand said. "I guess I might as well get some sleep too."

When D awoke night had already fallen. His eyes were still focusing in the dimmed light, but his dhampir eyes were able to adjust rapidly. As his awareness arose, he felt something tapping on his chest. He recognized it as the familiar feeling of his left hand, balled into a fist.

"D, wake up!"

"What?"

"There's something going on outside! It sounds as if someone is being attacked."

D stood, listening to the sounds in the air. It did sound as if someone was being attacked, and it seemed as if it was a woman. D quickly untied his horse and took his sword in hand, riding in the direction of the sounds he had heard. Lower branches would occasionally swipe across D's body, but the bodysuit he wore, along with his enhanced resilience, made it so the scratches went unnoticed.

Eventually he found an opening in the trees. The small meadow held a blue-gray look in the light of the full moon, a sharp contrast to the thick greens, yellows and whites it would have held during the day. As he rode through the meadow, he had to force his horse to a halt as the woman he heard ran in front of him. With a scream she fell to the ground, the horse rearing back on its hind legs.

D quickly calmed the horse, dismounting to help the girl to her feet. She was young, no older than 17 he surmised, and had short cut ebony hair. Her eyes, a deep blue, glistened with frightful tears in the moonlight. She wore a short dress, tattered from her flight through the woods from whatever it was that chased after her.

The girl looked up at him, her eyes catching the sword on his back. "Oh please kind sir, would you be a hunter?"

"I am," D replied. "I came after hearing rumors of a Noble in this area. Tell me, what was it that attacked you?"

"Thank goodness, you are a vampire hunter. I was attacked by the very Noble you speak of. I was heading back to my uncles home after picking herbs for his medicines. He is the doctor of Vallaya, the town to the east of here."

"Where is the Noble now?"

"I don't know. The last that I saw of her, she was behind me. I ran the moment I saw her and…"

The girls words were cut short, her eyes growing wide as she looked up at D. No… she was not looking up at him, she was looking above him. D spun around quickly, grabbing the hilt of his sword, prepared to draw. The Noble was there, standing on one of the branches of a nearby tree.

"So you've finally come, Hunter D," she said.

D unsheathed his sword, the silvered steel ringing as it slid forth from its sheath. Even in the dim light, he could see a smile cross the beautiful Noble's face. "Return to your town and warn the others," D said, his voice still as calm as always. "Tell your chief that I will kill the Noble for them if they should decide to hire me."

The Noble woman chuckled as D spoke. "You have much confidence, Hunter, but do you truly believe that you can kill a Noble so easily?"

D didn't speak, instead using his actions as his answer. He leapt up at the vampire, striking at her with speed like lightning. The Noble was fast though, and D's swing missed, cutting through the trunk of the tree instead and removing the branch that the Noble was standing on.

"Come now, dhampir," she said, "Surely you can do better than that."

D jumped back down to the forest floor below. "What is it that you want with the people of this town?" he asked.

"You should know, dhampir. Aside from the worthless human blood you hold, our own blood also runs through your veins."

"Then you are no different from the other vampires."

"Silly little dhampir. You assume that my thirst is the reason for my actions? You fool, the Nobility was meant to rule this world and I shall make it so once more."

D had heard enough. With lightning speed he sprung forth, the steel of his blade ringing through the air as it collided with the Noble. But for some reason, she didn't move. She just stood there, smiling. It was then that D noticed that the light around them had changed. Fire had been wreathed around her left arm and acted as a shield against the blade. With a laugh she shoved his sword aside, raising her right hand to meet with his chest.

"Face the fires of hell, dhampir," she said. D shot back, colliding with one of the trees behind him as the blast of heat and flame collided with his chest. Before he could even react, the Noble had D by the neck, pinned against the tree.

"Still think that you can kill me, dhampir?" she asked, her grip tightening.

D's vision was fading. This vampire was stronger than most he had fought, and for a moment he actually thought he might die. 'Damn, this isn't good.'

Suddenly the grip of the Noble was broken. As his eyes regained focus and air refilled his lungs he could see flashes of metal fly through the air past his face, flying towards the Noble. As she sprang back, he heard her utter a quiet "damn," dodging the flashes of steel he saw in the air. When D finally got to his feet, he saw the Noble leap back into the trees.

"So it seems I have two dhampirs to contend with," she said. "Very well then. D, I look forward to the time when we meet again."

Before D could pursue the Noble disappeared into the night. "Two dhampirs," he said to himself, wondering just what she meant. He decided to save it for another time, turning to mount his horse and head towards the town. When a sickle flew past his head and landed in the tree next to him, however, D stopped, turning to face what he knew had to be the other dhampir the Noble spoke of.

"An interesting turn of events," the robed dhampir said. "So you are the famous vampire hunter they call D."

"I am. And you are?"

"My name is Marus Drachel, and as the Noble said, I too am a dhampir."

Marus retracted the chained sickle back into his cloak and began to head back into the forest. Before leaving the meadow, he stopped, looking back towards D. "It seems that we both have the same goal, but I will warn you now, stay out of my way." Marus turned and headed through the trees, calling back to D one more time. "Interfere with me D, and I will kill you."

D watched the strange dhampir as he left the meadow and mounted his horse. With a click of his tongue and I flick of the reigns he moved in the direction of the town.

"Well, he seemed like a friendly one huh?" Left Hand said. "Marus Drachel huh? I don't know about this one D, best to stay out of his way, you think? I mean, no sense taking any unnecessary risks, you know?"

Again, D didn't answer. Trouble seemed to follow him everywhere he went and this was no different. Right now, all he needed to do was reach the nearby town and hope that his presence as a dhampir would not cause too much of the trouble he witnessed all to often.