Runes

William leaned back against the old building he was standing near, gazing darkly at all the passersby, going about their daily lives with so little understanding of what would soon transpire right beneath their noses. One leather-gloved hand touched the rim of his hat as he adjusted it to set low over his eyes. He slouched back a bit.

He'd heard some of his fellow Eagles discussing a bloodsucker that was wandering the streets, muttering to itself with thirst. Personally, William wasn't surprised the monster hadn't simply gone on a killing spree yet. He reached inside his coat to touch the grip of his fine wooden stake, waiting for the fiend to come and find him. 

Paris was a fair city; William enjoyed the unique French architecture, although the bustle of the city life disconcerted him somewhat. People were everywhere, rushing from place to place, and William disliked the crowding. He'd been born and raised in the wilderness, and he would very much prefer an isolated log cabin to a cramped, overcrowded, stinking house in the middle of town. 

But, if that's where the Eagles needed him most, he decided that that's where he would be.

A figure, hunched over with a large black coat draped about him, jerking his head violently as he muttered angrily, approached William. William calmly drew the stake from within his coat as the vampire grabbed him by the neck, and as the beast slammed his back against a wall, William held the stake's point out toward the creature. The monster practically impaled itself, lunging at him in spite of the stake's presence and thus ending its own pathetic existence. William shoved the already-decomposing corpse off of him and let it fall to the ground, then ripped a portion of the coat it wore off to clean his stake with. His weapon now cleaned. William re-entered the house and looked around quietly as his fellow hunters. They all seemed to be expecting some grand tale of how he'd slain the thing. 

Christopher was watching him expectantly. William had a weakness for the younger man, and so he grinned as he said, "Well, that one won't trouble this fine town anymore."

The room was filled with cheering and glasses were raised for a toast. Three of William's dogs approached him - a rottweiler, a beagle and a doberman. William patted two of them on the head and knelt down to look at the beagle. The hound licked its master's face, and William smiled before gently nudging the dog's face slightly away from his own and standing back up. 

When Christopher came to William with a mug in hand, William took it happily and drank the entire thing down in record time. 

The next morning, as the sun shone brightly over Paris, William joined a group of six Crowned Eagles at a fine restaurant, where they quietly discussed plans for the convention as they ate.

"We need to discuss the charms," William said stubbornly.

"No," David, an elder member of the organization, growled. "That evidence is still under debate among the elders - it could be false information. We need to investigate further before we bring it up to the other groups."

"Fine then," William said, "What will we bring to the convention?"

"We will bring the ferocity and honorable might of a thousand Eagles, all ready and waiting for the hunt to commence," David said, reverently rubbing a medallion with the Paladin's figure on it as he spoke. "We will bring our allegiance to the Order, and we will bring our dedication to the preservation of mortal society. And," he said, lowering his voice still further, "We will bring this." As he spoke, he pulled a small stone tablet covered in some kind of ancient script from within his coat.

"What is that?" William asked. He was stunned - the runes appeared to be Anglo-Saxon, or perhaps even older. 

"That," David said, quickly replacing the tablet inside his coat, "is our first contribution to the hunt. It's an ancient runic tablet, found at the center of some kind of shrine in a powerful vampire lord's lair half a decade ago. When I still had a left arm," he added bitterly.

William had never heard the story of how David had lost his arm, but now the story seemed to be coming together. 

"I see," he said quietly, sipping at his glass of wine. This would certainly make the proceedings much more interesting.

The End

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