*It's short but I'm busy...I had so many reviews I felt I really ought to get SOMETHING posted :) hope everyone enjoys!*

Chapter 8...Horde

It was...chilling.

Abraham Van Helsing stared at the reports that now littered his desk, from all the summaries and analyses and police records and obituaries. He'd thought to track Dracula by tracking his depredations, and he'd found clear signs of a vampire in London. And in Oxford. And in the Scottish Highlands. And Liverpool. Manchester.

Every major city and many of the rural areas were filled with evidence of a steady set of vampiric depredations. Lunatics with leprosy? Possible. But that advanced a case of leprosy? Most likely ghouls. So many young maidens, children, dead of pernicious anemias despite being in perfect health until very recently.

One or two vampires, well, he'd expected them to muddle the hunt a bit. It would simply be a matter of finding RECENT deaths in an area that had not previously reported such. But instead he was finding a pattern of widespread depredation, of unexpected illnesses and unexplained deaths, spread throughout the land.

Vampires could not cross running water, and the North sea and English Channel should have been an insurmountable barrier to most. He really had not thought to find more than one or two, if any. Dracula, with his age and power, could have been expected to cross the sea safely. But he very clearly had not been the first.

The reports went back decades; as far back as he searched, he found them. Most of his reports came from the hospitals and the morgues that had handled the bodies, and it was difficult to search through the records prior to the organized system of medical faculties. He shuddered to think what the records would show if he truly began to examine all of them, in depth...if he had far greater access to police records and to old newspapers from all across the island.

He wouldn't be hunting just Dracula. Ethically, he could not ignore these depredations.

He'd be taking on the entire vampiric population of the Isle...and have to hope that he'd locate Dracula while doing so. Two months of searching and hunting and effort had resulted in greyed hair, bags under his eyes, exhaustion, frustration, and not a single clue as to the vampire's whereabouts. Unless and until that canny old bastard slipped up, he had no chance of locating the beast.

His only real hope was that the Count had returned to his homeland, but now?

The Count was no longer his only worry. There was a female vampire that had killed a few children and ghouled a young man less then ten miles away, all of this within the last few years. She was young, he hoped, and close...and she'd be his first hunt.

x

Red eyes slit with anticipation and a sharp white grin appeared under them. Abraham was having no luck, none at all. But the man intended to go hunting for vampires?

Brave, indeed. Dracula would have to keep an eye on him during the hunt, make certain that the man had no tricks up his sleeve or unexpected weaponry. And, of course, he was not about to miss any of the entertainment that this human was providing!