"Men are natural warriors, but a woman in battle is truly bloodthirsty."
An Old Scottish Saying
"A daughter will be born from the loins of a Hunter. She will become the night's mistress, saving the lost, fighting the damned. It is she who will show the world what a true Hunter is to behold."
An extract from one of the many ancient Hunter prophecies
I hate vampires. Really, I do.
I guess that's why, all my life, I've been trained to kill them. Funny how things work out, isn't it?
At the present moment, they, vampires, surround me, their fangs bared like snarling animals, all pale faces twisted and distorted. Sweat beaded around the nape of my hairline, but I resisted the urge to wipe at it.
I gripped the handle of the silver stake in my hand, the metal once drowsed in holy water and blessed by the pope in Vatican. Extreme but effective.
The circle closed in tighter around me and I could feel the cramp burning into the back of my thighs and calves. Doing my best to ignore the pain, I kicked at the closest vampire, hearing a satisfying crunch of his kneecap shattering. He yelped, his glowing red eyes burning at me fiercely as he retreated into the shadows, only for another to take his place. Damn.
Did I ever mention that I hate vampires?
I could feel my pulse jump like a caged thing inside my throat, seductively singing to the dozen or so vampires that even though I was a Hunter, I still have a body full of sweet blood. And being a Hunter, a rare type of human, my blood was more of a delicacy, like a hundred year old scotch in a room full of cheap knock-off wine. Believe it or not, I don't take it as a compliment.
I knew I was screwed, there was too many of them, more than I could have anticipated. Vampires didn't hunt like this, not in this large of a group anyways. That and the way they fought told me that they were new, maybe a couple of years old to the undead life.
And there was me thinking at the start of the night that this was another simple fetch and kill. You go in, seduce, lead them out, and behead. Simple, easy. Or so I thought.
Yeah, so anyways. I knew that this was the end, like, I was done for. If I way lucky, I would survive and come away both mentally and physically scarred. But I am both too vain and too proud for that. I valued my face and my dignity too high, I would honestly rather died knowing I took down as many as I could, then living with the shame that I was both careless and overconfident.
They were closing in, saliva dripping from they're gleaming fangs, hands bent into claws, in need of a serious manicure from the condition of their nails. I struck out with the stake, hitting my mark square in the chest of one and quickly yanking it out before my sleeve caught alight of the pure white fire that erupted from the vamp's chest.
Of course, that was a really bad idea. It left my back exposed and the bright light made me plunge into a world of darkness just as I felt the first vampire descend onto my neck. Burning pain coursed through me as I struggled to break free of the iron grip that held me in place. I could feel my blood flowing towards the wound, the vampire sucking at it greedily like a newborn to its mother.
There were more fangs, so much more, all piercing my tender flesh and taking their fill of my expensive blood. I thought I was going to become one big hole with all fangs inside me. I screamed, my voice broken and horse from lack of blood and the damage already done to my voice box. These vampires had no intention to let me live, I was going to died in a seedy alley way, in a shadow of darkness, old to be found when the smell of my rotten corpse became too much for the hobos to handle.
I gazed up to the sky, feeling as though I was floating. At that point, I had become detached from the pain, like I wasn't feeling it at all. My vision clouded, just as observed that it was a beautiful night, an inky blue night sky, with a powerfully white crescent moon, shining along with dotted white stars.
My eyes fluttered closed as my breathing laboured, I watched in fascination as many heads bend over my body, all bobbing to their own rhythm.
Then the blackness took over.
Figments flashed to my mind, little snippets of my life. They weren't the memories I would have chosen to remember. But, I suppose, beggars can't really be choosers, can they?
I remembered my mother's soothing hand, stroking my hair as I fell asleep, her soft voice soothing sweet nothings at me, fighting off monsters better than I ever could.
Weeks later, both she and my father died, their throats ripped out by a vampire that my dad was tracking. I found them in their bed, in a river of their own blood, their skin cool and pale.
The day uncle Jeremy took me in, where he told me about creatures that hunted in this world, creatures that where once myth and nightmare to me. Now becoming reality.
Then there was the time when I was thirteen, when the Hunter council doubted my heritage because of my gender. No woman has ever been born from a Hunter, only men.
They accused my mother of adultery, disgracing her name, as she lay buried next to my dad, dead because of what he was.
I remembered the satisfaction that I had once felt when the DNA test with my uncle proved that I was Thomas Galloway's daughter, not some illegitimate bastard.
The pride that I felt at my first kill, that despite my gender, I could do what men have been doing since the dawn of time. That I was the first woman to ever do so, the feeling of proving everyone wrong.
I guess you could say that, while I had a very short life, it never lacked excitement, to say the least.
But, looking back, I realised that I had no life, really. What little I did have was centred on killing blood-sucking vampires. And as soon as I hit forty, it was game over for me. I would be too old to fight, that is, if I survived that long.
Well, I suppose it didn't really matter, did it? I mean, I'm dead now, aren't I?
I faded once more into the numbing blackness; this time sure I would never wake up.
I must be in hell.
There is no explanation to why I feel as though my insides were burning their way out of my flesh. I couldn't move, couldn't scream, and couldn't open my eyes. I just stared with pure terror as burning throbs echoed at my pulse, constantly flaring to life the pain that I was so sure that death would ease.
I wondered, for a moment, what I had done to deserve this. Surely, I behaved myself, at least enough to get myself to the pearly gates?
Finally, I conjured enough energy to flutter open my eyelids.
If this was hell, it sure looked expensive. The tasteful décor was a deep rich oak, along with wine red and gold. So much for fiery flames and distorted demon faces.
I tried to sit up, or at least summon my body to move, but it disobeyed, still wrapped up in the knife-edge pain that consumed my torso.
Gritting my teeth, I became more forceful with my commands, but the effort only made my head spin, the dim light of the room seemed too bright, the colours too vivid. Blinking back the watery tears that hazed at my vision, I tired to concentrate, to make sense of where I was, and why.
I remember the vampires. A little too good for what I would have liked. I could still feel their fangs sinking into my soft, tender flesh, slowly sucking the life out of my veins, with each gulp.
I should be dead, that was for sure, so what was I doing here?
Maybe Jeremy had found me; he did say he had a bad feeling about my Hunt. Maybe he followed me, got to me just in time.
I stained with my other senses, since both my slight and touch were limited. The room lingered with the smell of spicy cinnamon, very masculine scent that was strong enough to tease at my taste buds whenever I inhaled.
Those of which, didn't help me in finding out where I was, only that I was not in any kind of hospital.
Closing my eyes, I willed myself to concentrate on hearing the sounds around me. Being a Hunter meant that I had enhanced senses, not as good as a vampire, but good enough to fight and kill one.
One, not a dozen at once, on your own.
Sometimes, I believe I deserve a pay rise.
After a moment, I caught the faint snippets of voices, all unfamiliar to me. With increasing pace, the conversation began to grow louder.
"…But she's a woman. She can't possibly be a Hunter…"
"She was armed to the neck in weapons and she bears the d'argento mark. No, what I want to know is; what family she comes from."
A trickle of fear wound itself around my spine, sending a shiver down to the very core. D'argento was Italian for silver, the pure metal Hunters have been using to kill vampires since the dawn of time. It was said, that while silver was the moon's mental, and gold the sun's, Hunter's themselves became children of the moon to rid the darkness of the undead. It all tied into a Hunter bedtime story told to their sons, but the real mystery was: how did they know about my d'argento mark?
The mark itself is a coiling of thorns around your left wrist, meeting to twine around a crucifix on the inner-part of your wrist. The tattoo, given when a Hunter finishes their trials, could be copied by any unsuspecting human, only, ours are laced with liquid silver in the ink.
Who were these people?
As their voices grew unmistakably louder, continuing their argument, I felt the buzz of a pressing weight, as someone's aura washed over me.
Despite the stabbing pain in my head, I forced my mind shields up, picturing a large, and tick silver wall in my mind. Any non-human could seize the mind of those without a shield, or any form of mind block. Shielding was taught to me along with fighting and staking. Whoever tried to read me was powerful, I could feel it, thick and sweet like syrup on my tongue.
"Ah," An amused voice said, silencing its partner at once. "I do believe that out little mystery is awake."
I watched, my vision straining, as the large oak door opened, revealing two men, both smiling at me, revealing pearly white fangs.
The one that spoke was the taller of the two, just over six feet, I think, built like a wrestler, with broad shoulders and long lean legs. His hair was a thick rich blonde, a colour, normally impossible to achieve. The pair of eyes that met my own with a sort of bemused expression was a sort of green that could be grey. The kind of eyes that told you exactly what emotion lay within.
The second, was smaller, leaner, with inky black hair that was held at the nape of his neck, eyes a pale blue that was almost white, holding a look of contempt.
There were two powerful vampires in the same room as me, while I lay immobilised on a bed.
Could this situation get any worse?