Scene 1

There never was an adequate way to describe him.

Like liquified darkness the black rider guided his steed across the plains. Where he went the wind crystallized as if it too revered his presence. Tall stalks of grass bent beneath the horse's hooves while small creatures darted away, at first mesmerized by the rider's elegant beauty, but quickly fleeing from the miasma that soon followed.

This was Vampire Hunter D.

The town he rode towards was non-descript, like any other the dhampire approached. A few dozen dilapidated houses huddled around a town square like old men crowding a small campfire. Tumbleweeds floated by in absence of children affording the whole scene an eerie feeling. D could feel his symbiont squirming inside his glove but gave no pause as he kept his steed on the course towards the town square.

There stood half a dozen townsfolk quietly arguing amongst themselves. The sight, or feeling of him, silenced them, however.

"I am D, the hunter." His voice was winter; beautiful, deadly, cold.

A pudgy man of about fifty or sixty coughed and said, "Thank you for coming. I'm the mayor, Bradford. If you can dismount I'll have someone stable your horse and set up lodgings for you while we discuss the...matter."

Wordlessly the vampire hunter slid off his steed and passed the reins to a young man. The lad's eyes beamed, impressed by the steed but took it away without saying anything. D had that kind of affect on people. All the townsfolk looked at him in a daze as if he were moonlight after a long walk in pure darkness.

Ten minutes later they crowded a one-room school with several of the townsfolk seated at desks or on benches. While enthralled by his presence none dared to get too close. Even the women who must have imagined D in every possible scenario that would fulfill their dreams both pure and carnal alike maintained their distance.

The long curved sword at his back probably helped.

"Won't you...have a seat?" Bradford asked, gesturing to the teacher's desk.

D asked a question of his own, as he was wont to do. "Your letter said 'many vampires'. How many vampires exactly?"

A woman whispered, "We don't really know, but the cult has a lot of followers."

"Cult?" The hoarse voice that said that didn't sound like D at all, and several of the townsfolk looked around, unable to pinpoint it. "I don't like the sounds of that."

Clenching his left hand into a fist the vampire hunter continued on, placid as a lake on a calm summer day. If a single eyelash batted it would be a huge event as his face didn't ripple with a single worry-line. "And the kidnapped?"

A few of the women covered their faces and one cried. Bradford cleared his throat. "They took ten kids. One here and there...then they started on taking two and then three and then...well you probably saw how empty the streets are."

"Names?"

The mayor rattled off the names. "James. Tommy. Dylan. Annie. Clyde. Sam. Simone. Chase. Serena."

"And payment?" Not a crink in his stance nor voice. He was carved of stone.

"We have enough...barely, but we do." Bradford gestured with his chin at one of the men and they approached D. He dropped a sack of coins at the table next to the vampire hunter then retreated to the other side of the room. The sound as it clanked upon on the wood was the only sound reverberating in the school. It was as if the very hopes of that entire town lay in that bag, heavy and sad.

"That's a deposit. We want you because we want the best. Only the best can bring back our kids and we want them back." Though a hint of desperation clung to the mayor's tone he kept most of it business-like perhaps sensing that emotions rarely influenced this cold-as-ice young man.

"You said ten."

"Um, what?" The townsfolk looked at each other, confused.

"You named nine kids. Who is the tenth?"

For some reason the mayor looked distinctly uncomfortable. No one spoke for many long moments, all of the townsfolk looking similarily awkward. Apparently this was a question they sought to avoid, but of course the vampire hunter's keenness fettered the inconsistency out.

The door to the school opened, bringing in with it the cool night's air. A woman of long black tresses stood in the doorway, the sight of which made all the men stare lust-filled and the woman glare, jealous. Her beauty was the kind that all envied, such that while not entirely on level with the otherwordly elegance of the vampire hunter certainly gave him a run for his dallas.

"It's Dan." The woman's voice had the hint of youth tempered by wisdom and strength. "It's good to see you again, D."

D's voice lowered just barely but any who heard it would gape, astonished. "Doris."