Hi all, Well it's been years since I've updated this story, due to a number of reasons, First and foremost I deleted a months worth of work on this story and saved it! I was distraught at the thought of writing it all again, still, I have, hopefully its better for it. That and pouring coke onto the laptop slowed me up a bit. Other stuff too but that's boring.
Thanks to Freaked Out Angel, Innocent Battousai, Katato2013, dragonbharg for reviewing last time, I hope I can turn these out a little quicker this time. Thanks as well to all those people who put this on their watch list.
Anyway, on with the show, sorry if it feels rushed.
"To any Citizen of this villageI need help to defend this village against a werewolf attack tonight. If you are interested, I shall be awaiting you the inn by the gate until sunset.
The reward will be your lives, and the lives of this village. Failure will result in the death of everyone.
Karou listened to the people round her discuss what Kenshin was doing back in the town, their reasons ran for the stupid to the down right impossible, 'that much blood would become sticky, why would you want to bath in it?' she thought to herself.
Shaking off the though she considered her options, she was surrounded by women and children guarded by a few frail men and then by a veteran group of Slayers, if she was discovered to be a vampire here, it would not end well.
The shutters had been drawn across the windows only allowing thin sunbeams to catch the motes of dust in the air. The inn on the whole would have been quite homely if it wasn't for the tension in the room. All the hunters, save for the leader, a tall man with a pair of swords across his back, were staring through the cracks trying to see what was going on.
"There's some sort of commotion going on in the town centre," the youngest of the hunters said, "a lot of pushing and shoving"
"Looks like the Battousai is leaving" another larger hunter said. In a relived tone of voice.
"No he's not! He's coming here!" Said what looked to be the twin of the last.
"He's going to kill us!" said another Hunter holding a crossbow turning with panicked eyes,
"He's at the door" hissed the youngest
A soft knocking echoed around the suddenly stilled inn as if a hammer had been dropped. Karou could feel the fear rolling off everyone around her. She mirrored the emotions of those nearest her to avoid standing out, but felt odd doing it. She was finding it hard to even remotely tie what she had heard of the Battousai to the man she knew as Kenshin. This was the man who had saved her from her pursuers, protected her from the sun, who cared about a village that obviously was terrified of him, and had left her ALONE SURROUNDED BY HUNTERS! On second thoughts…'This will not go unpunished' Karou thought to herself.
As a second round of knocks rattled round the inn. Karou's eyes fell upon a bat, kept behind the bar for the more rowdy drinker. Karou gently pulled it behind her leg midst the panic of the inn, and obscured it from view. Next time she got Kenshin alone, he would know her displeasure at being left vulnerable, Karou smiled evilly at the thought even while surrounded by panic.
The leader of the Hunters eventually spoke out cutting though the pandemonium "Calm down! Of all the things I know to be fact, the Battousai is rational, we'll see what he wants." The leader paused, and then turned to the youngest hunter "Yahiko, let him in"
Kenshin was getting frustrated, he'd been stood on the door step for what felt like an eternity, and it wouldn't do to still be here when the town guard made up there mind and arrived here as well. He could hear panicked whispers coming from inside the inn, from the sounds of metal on metal there were probably five hunters and a number of other inn goers caught in the cross fire.
He was contemplating the pros and cons of putting his foot through the door when he heard "Yahiko, let him in" drift out,
'Finally' Ken thought to himself as the front door opened. He dropped his hand to his ever-ready sword in case of an ambush and stepped into the gloom. A quick glance around told him all he needed to know. The door was held by a young hunter, approximately 16 to 19 in age, armed with a silver kukri knife in his hand (a/n bonus points if you know what a kukri knife is, without using wiki) and a short sword across his back. With what Ken had over heard, the teen's name must be Yahiko.
Further along, at the next window was a short hunter owning a well used crossbow, he was shaking which was not a reassuring sign but the tip of the bolt never swayed from Kenshin's midsection which showed him to be a competent marksman. Further along and stepping away from the last window was a pair of 7ft men, both holding notched yet well cared for axes in a defensive manner.
The man Kenshin assumed to be their leader was standing next to a table in the middle of the room. He wore a pair of swords across his back, and around his waist was a set of hidden throwing knifes and, unless Kenshin was mistaken, the man had a palm dagger on his right arm. By the way he moved and looked, Kenshin realised that this was a dangerous man who would take any advantage to win.
The leader sat down and gestured to the seat across the table for Ken to join him. Kenshin moved slowly across the floor keeping his wits about him, he spotted Karou amongst the inn's inhabitancy and was puzzled by the smirk on her face. But that was a puzzle for later, right now he had to convince this group to join him because as good as he was, he couldn't be everywhere at once. He'd need competent fighters to hold up and confuse the were-pack to be to give him time to strike the wolves down.
"Have a seat Battousai." The leader said as he sat down.
Kenshin sat on the edge of his chair and kept his hands free, and shifted to keep as many hunters in view as possible. He never liked chairs, preferring stools as they didn't limit his movement.
"You have me at a disadvantage, you know my name, but I don't know yours." Kenshin said, catching the eye of the leader, who stared straight back.
"We don't have to give our names to a demon like you!" hissed the man with the crossbow, Kenshin didn't react to the insult, he'd been called worse before, nor did he react to the crossbow now pointing at his head, he'd had that before too. He did however brace his foot against the table leg for an added advantage, just in case. Bravado only worked to a point then you had to back it up.
"I have a job for you" Ken said, not looking away
The Leader of the group never broke his gaze from Kenshin said "Bensan, stand down"
"You're going to TRUST HIM! You've heard the stories!" Bensan cried, his crossbow wavering away from Ken's head and towards a more neutral target of the ceiling. But the rest of the hunters griped their weapons a little tighter.
Kenshin decided to press on while the rest of the hunters were trying to make up their mind on his status as a human, depending on the stories 'Bensan' was referring to, he might not have a lot of time.
"When the sun goes down tonight this town will be attacked by a full pack of were-wolves sent from Kanryu, I need help to stop it." There were gasps from the inn's regulars and a pause from the group of hunters.
In the silence Kenshin calmly stated "and I still don't know your names."
"That can't be true, Kanryu's a myth." Said Bensan going whiter if possible,
"Like you thought the Battousai was a myth until this morning" Yahiko commented from the door.
The Leader still didn't break eye contact with Kenshin.
Suddenly the man said "The kid by the door is Yahiko, the twins are Mac and Mel. Bensan is the one with the crossbow, my name is Shingan" The leader finally broke eye contact and seemed to relax for the first time, and gazed towards the shuttered window as if he could see through it. And asked "Who have you got in this little venture?"
Slightly unnerved by how hard the man in front of him was to read Ken replied "Me, the town guards, and one other"
Shingan glanced back at Kenshin "Who?"
"I don't plan to tell you yet" Kenshin said, there was no way he'd tell a group of edgy hunters that he was travelling with a vampire, especially when they were in doubt of who's side of the light he was on.
Showing no emotion to Ken's response, Shingan asked, "Pay?"
'Another tricky subject' Ken thought as he answered, "Same as my last job, involving a pack of hound Demons"
"There was a whistle from one of the twins "Last time we hunted them we got a parade in our honour" the other shifted his axe to his shoulder and chuckled, "yea, and enough gold to pay even Bensan's gambling debts."
As the other hunters had a general laugh at the frustrated crossbow man, There leader stayed thoroughly mute. Ken reckoned that Shingan hadn't missed the fact he'd dodged that question as well. The other Hunters were relaxing their guard, Kenshin recognised the banter as a common occurrence but Shingan remained aloof, serious and definitely deep in thought.
Suddenly a small smile appeared and he said, "Okay, were in"
Kenshin had to blink to change gears, 'He agreed? I was sure he was sizing me up.' he thought as he slowly moved his hand from his sword. He kept his feet against the table leg more out of habit than actual intent of a quick getaway. 'This shouldn't be as difficult as I feared, with experienced hunters as this and the town guard, we should have no problem with a were-wolf pack.' Ken thought with plans of funnelling and trapping passed across his mind.
Shingan, lent back against his chair, having finally relaxed, "So what's the plan Boss?" he said with a smile as he put his hands behind his head. All the eyes in the inn turned to Kenshin.
Still running possible plans through his head and with the entire inn staring at him, Ken replied, "We'll wait until the Town Guard arrive and then we'll talk."
From previous experience Ken knew that packs numbered between 5 and 12 individuals, impossible for him to take alone and protect a town. With their strength and speed they'd tie him in combat and charge past him to the easy pray. But, with the hunters and the full town guard holding them up at the town wall, it would allow him to go on the offence without having to rely on an uncertain ally that was the Vampire Karou. It should be easy, he just needed the man power to guard the town. With over twenty people in the guard that had accompanied Kenshin to the church, even half would do the job with the hunters leading them.
"When do you expect the guard to turn up?" Shingan asked
Kenshin glanced around the room and said, "They'll be here right about … Now."
There was a banging on the inn door, making everyone jump. Kenshin smiled to himself as Yahiko looked though the gap, and said. "It's that head guard and two others."
'Three? There's only Three! What do I do now?' Ken thought to himself
Karou smiled when the occupancy of the inn jumped at the banging on the door. She, like Kenshin had seen the flickering movement beyond the wooden slates of the window. But when she looked at Kenshin's face she felt a shiver of doubt run down her back, It was clear that he was distinctly unhappy.
"I assume that you three are the head guards here" he asked, in what seemed more out of hope than expectance.
"Well, I am the head." Said the larger of the three, he had a scar that started form the top of his collarbone and disappeared underneath his chain mail and battered breast plate. Karou could see by the way he carried himself that he'd survived a few life or death situations.
My names Kotaro, I'm the head guard for this mess of a town, these two are my constables were the town guard,"
"What's left of it any way." One of the two sneered, "Bunch of cowards" the other muttered so low that it was possible that only Karou heard him.
"Well, were all here, so once again, what's the plan boss?" Shingan asked, a rye smile across his face. 'dangerously sharp, this one' Karou thought to herself
Ken said to the inn at large "It's not suitable for little ears, or anyone not involved. If you won't stand and fight, go home. Now." Karou thought this was a ploy to buy thinking time, but the inn took it at face value and there was a mass excuse for the back door sweeping Karou alone with it.
'Oh hell no, I'm not missing this' She thought to herself and drifted to the back of the rush and let the door close in front of her as the last 'bystander' left. Using a bit of magic called 'elsewhere' she sneaked back into the main room and took a free seat in the corner of the room to listen in.
Magic was a bit of a closed book to Karou. She had to study twice as hard for magic's that should have been natural to her. For example 'hypnotise', a basic vampire trait, would only work on the truly weak willed of individuals or rodents and left Karou with a headache that required her to lie down for an hour.
The only real magic she'd mastered was the 'elsewhere' illusion, and it had taken her years of practice. While not as effective as true invisibility, 'elsewhere' deflected attention away from the caster, but was of little use if the watchers were actively searching for the caster, or if they were practically strong minded. Unlike invisibility which was cast on oneself, 'elsewhere' was cast on the people viewing the subject, and therefore was much easier to detect.
Offensive magic, as a rule was easier to detect than defensive magic due to its nature. Defensive magic was usually cast on ones self and required a mage to recognise it from distance and/or before it was activated, where as Offensive magic leaves a recognisable 'feeling' on the back of the neck of strong minded or talented individuals. Admittedly in most cases this was after the said individual was a pile of smoking ash on the floor depending on the spell.
There was one major disadvantage to 'elsewhere.' It could be broken if someone calling attention to the caster. This meant that while using this magic, Karou had to keep herself relatively out of the way and as stealthy as possible. People would notice if she smacked Kenshin over the head with the bat she had acquired, especially in such a tense atmosphere a tense atmosphere. 'Revenge will have to wait'
She crept back to her former place behind the bar to listen to Kenshin's 'brilliant' plan would be to defend the town of apparent lambs from the wolfs at the gate.
Thanks for reading, I've already started the next chapter but this seemed a natural break.