“Certain darkness is needed to see the stars.”- Unknown.
Thirteen years later.
Yekaterina woke with a start. She hadn't dreamed about that night in ten years, not since the night terrors had stopped. She shivered and looked over at the bed that Nadia occupied. Her twin was still sound asleep.
Sometimes she envied her sister. Nadia had forgotten. She had shut it out of her memory, but Kat had not forgotten. It was her job to remember. Their father had taught her that. His training was all she had left of him and of the rest of her family. Nadia had chosen bliss in forgetfulness. Sometimes Kat resented the way she had just forgotten. She shook her head. It was three in the morning and she knew she wouldn't be getting back to sleep anytime soon.
She hopped into the shower to rinse off the dream. The hot water felt like ecstasy after the cold sweat of the night terror. But why had that dream; that memory come back? She was not a girl who believed in coincidence. Everything happened for a reason.
Yekatarina got out of the shower and threw on a pair of black jeans, a belt that concealed her daggers; and a form fitting black tank top. She pulled her hair up into a functional ponytail. Then, with one last glance over at Nadia to make sure she was sleeping soundly, she stepped out of the window and out onto the roof. Kat climbed down the orphanage trellis and landed silently on her feet. After a look around to be sure she hadn't been seen, she walked away from the orphanage that had been her home for the past thirteen years. It wouldn't be her home much longer.
Kat would soon be on her own. Nadia was leaving. She had a fiancé and was going to America to live with him. Yekaterina would miss her sister, but ultimately she supported anything that would make her twin happy and safe.
The orphanage would release them soon. She already had a small home she had bought with money inherited from her parent's estate. What she had spent had been a mere pittance. Kat's life was the hunt. She didn't need a fancy home, she needed a practical one.
Tonight, she had to observe. Kat did this often. She had developed a sort of fact gathering tradition where she would walk to the local bars and clubs, and watch the people. Some of her best leads had been garnered this way.
After her parents and sisters had been murdered the vampires had disappeared. Local legend stated that a vampire that was even more powerful wiped them all out. The superstitious villagers hadn't come out of hiding for weeks. The Carpathian Mountains were not a safe place to live, even without the threat of vampires. At any rate, the town buzz had not changed. There had been rumors that an incredibly powerful Vampire had taken up residence in the old abandoned castle a few miles from the town.
That was when everyone had started to panic. The rumor mill had started to turn. Reports of babies being drained of blood, young women disappearing, statues crying blood, began to abound. Most of these Kat found utterly ridiculous, but every once in a while, one with merit would find its way to her ears. She had killed many vampires in the past thirteen years. It was suicide now, for a vampire to take up residence in her town. They usually didn't last more than a week. But with this one, she had a feeling she would have to be extra cautious. He was powerful. In fact, his power emanated from the old castle. She could feel it from here and she had never faced such a powerful vampire before. Kat smirked. It would be quite a challenge.
Finally, a vampire that would be hard to eliminate. She walked into the small pub. The villagers mostly avoided her. They didn't want a vampire to see them around her, not to mention the fact that she wasn't exactly approachable. Due to the way she lived she had to maintain an unapproachable demeanor. Kat rarely smiled and never laughed. She knew he had to keep it 'strictly business'.
"Evening' miss" Kat nodded coolly. The bartender was pretty and blonde tonight. The usual barkeeper's daughter.
"I will have Absinthe." She nodded and went about preparing the drink. Kat studied her closely. Her eyes were swollen and red from crying. She was wearing black, and her hair was slack and unkempt. The villagers in the pub were quiet and kept shooting meaningful glances in her direction. When she came back with her drink kat put her hand over the bartenders. "Anna, where is your father?" The bartender sniffled, suddenly tearing up.
"The vampire killed him miss. We found him this morning." Kat raised an eyebrow. Normally vampires didn't leave any trace of their victims. They disposed of their prey.
"You found him?"
She nodded. "He had no blood left." She sniffled.
"When did you find him?'
She sighed. "In the afternoon." That got her attention.
"Were there puncture marks?'
"Yes." It was horrible." She looked like she was going to faint. Kat nodded and let her go. She needed to think so she walked over to a dark, secluded corner and sat down. She downed her absinthe almost as an afterthought. A vampire powerful enough to come out in the noonday sun? She had never heard of that happening ever. Unless it hadn't been a Vampire. It was possible. Kat had disposed of some pretty sick humans as well as her usual racket of vampires. It was amazing what people were capable of. But, if it had been a human murderer and not a vampire, how had the person managed to exsanguinate the victim? It was complicated. None of the signs went along with a vampire's m.o, but nor did it seem to fit a serial killer's pattern. It was a singular thing. Perhaps it had been an animal looking for food.
Kat sighed and listened to the chatter. It was mostly the normal things. None of it really caught her attention. It was meaningless chatter, nothing but a buzz in her ears.
"They lead such small lives no?" She jumped slightly. No one had managed to sneak up on her, not ever. She looked around. The voice had been cultured and deep. It also carried a tone she recognized, like she'd heard it before. Kat didn't see anyone. It must be a vampire then, and judging by how cold it had become, it was the new one. She made her face a mask. She was not ready to face him. She didn't know enough about how powerful he was and she had vowed to kill any vampire she saw, with the exception of the one who had aided them when their family had been killed.
Kat felt his presence behind her and she whirled around, standing up in one fluid motion; and found herself looking into a pair of black eyes that she had committed to memory thirteen years ago. So it was him. The new vampire in town was one that she had vowed before God not to kill.
Kat took her hands away from her weapons.
"You." She said rather simply. He showed no expression, simply studying her for a moment.
"We have met?"
"Quite. You escorted my sister and I to an orphanage thirteen years ago."
"I remember you. You have grown."
"Leave. I cannot kill you." With that she walked away and out of the pub. Kat was not a fool by any stretch of the imagination. She knew he followed her, but she simply could not kill him. He had aided Nadia and Kat when there had been virtually no hope. Sighing, she turned to face him, looking once again into those jet black eyes. They were so ancient. It was something that she had failed to notice that terrible night. They were ancient, powerful and utterly alone.
Kat shook her head slightly. Rule number one of vampire hunting was never look into their eyes. They could hypnotize you.
"You would dare speak to me in such a fashion? Me?" He seemed to be musing over this possibility, and as she sensed that he wasn't going to try anything funny, she allowed her hands to drop from her daggers. He noticed. "It is you. You are the notorious slayer."
"Would you have expected anything else from me?"
"Truly? I expected you to forget. You were very young. But then, you were not a normal child. Your sister has forgotten I assume?"
"Perhaps." She answered quietly. This was highly unusual, and normally by now she would have run off and disappeared. But there was something about him. Perhaps it was because he seemed so utterly alone, maybe it was because she was so utterly alone, or maybe the Absinthe had impaired her judgment, but there she stood, talking more or less civilly to a Vampire. Talk about a small world.
"You have not attacked me mortal. Why?" She shrugged, deciding to be honest.
"I do not know. Why have you not attacked me?" He simply stared at her.
"What is it about you mortal? You are not normal. You show no fear of me. Humans instinctively fear my kind. Yet there you stand."
"Well, this isn't exactly normal for me either, considering that most vampires would be considering me as their lunch right now."
"Do you wish for me to attack you?"
"Not particularly. I do not know enough about you to defeat you yet. You are more powerful than the average blood sucker." He blinked and the corner of his mouth twitched up slightly.
"Quite. I am not a normal... Blood sucker, as you so eloquently put it."
"Mmm, I was aware. Why have you come here?"
"I have decided to stay here. It is time I took up a residence. Perhaps a bride." Kat smiled to herself. It was the Vampiric equivalent to settling down.
"I see. Stay away from my humans. I do not wish to kill you, but I will if you force my hand." He raised an eyebrow.
"Your humans? Don't you mean your fellow humans?" Kat shrugged.
"They want my protection, that makes them mine."
"Do you have any idea how like a vampire you yourself sound little mortal?"
"Very similar I would imagine." That was when she heard a growl. Kat had her daggers out, her senses flaring in a matter of a millisecond. It was a vampire. He was of medium power and at minimum strength. He had not yet fed. An easy kill.
Her conversation companion had disappeared on her. Kat rolled her eyes and made ready for battle. Wasn't that just like a man? A little simple and slightly infuriating conversation, and then they ran off just when you would miss them. Miss them? Kat shook her head. She was really losing it, thinking of a vampire as anything but prey. They were to be thought of as nothing but leeches to be killed and exterminated.
Her mind back in focus, she waited until it came into her line of vision, just barely having transformed into a shapely handsome man. You see, no vampire who had passed their two hundredth year was able to hold onto their human form anymore. What form they changed into depended upon how truly demented they were, how powerful they were, and sometimes it just matched their personality. This vampire had chosen to disguise himself as a tallish middle-aged man with a somewhat boyish face, and blonde, curly hair.
Kat hid her weapons just so and altered her body language to that of someone who was lost. She started in mock surprise and whirled around when she saw him, allowing him to think that she had not known that he was there. She allowed relief to flood her face and tried to look as innocent as she could; which was something that kat had somehow managed to perfect.
"Oh! Hello sir! You wouldn't happen to know the way to the pub would you?" He grinned, sure and smooth, injecting a fair bit of glamour into it. Inwardly she smiled, outwardly she was all the swooning young maiden in distress.
"But of course young lady. Come and I shall lead you there." He held out his arm and smiled gently, unable to hide the slight glint of fang as he did so. Kat smiled innocently.
"Oh thank you sir! I was so lost. I'm only visiting here and I'm not used to this place. I'm more used to the big cities." She injected a little breathlessness into her voice, making him think that she was attracted to him. He smelled of flowers. Kat smiled sweetly, knowing that it was nothing more than a clever illusion he put on. He was leading her down a street that was nowhere near the pub she had asked him about. Suddenly, she stopped walking and injected the slightest bit of fear and uncertainty into her face and voice.
"A-are you certain that this is the way?"
"Darling, in a few minutes it will not matter." His voice was silky and sweet but he did not manage to conceal the hunger in it. Playing the part of helpless victim to absolute perfection she put her hand to her throat defensively and took a few steps back. Just as Kat expected him to, he lunged, his true nature finally showing through. His form was slimy and completely bestial. The smell coming off of him was so foul she nearly gagged. She fought back her utter revulsion and twirled her daggers, slashing him deeply across the throat and plunging the other deep into his heart. He stopped in mid air, and his cat- like eyes widened. Then he howled.
"SLAYER!" And with that Kat twisted the dagger and wrenched it out. He was dust before he even hit the ground. Kat dusted herself off and stood up, cleaned her weapons of their gore on a spare piece of cloth and threw the soiled rag to the ground. "That was impressive little human."
"You said it yourself vampire, I am not a normal human."
"No, you are not. You seem to have a decent amount of renown. The town vampires have been complaining." Kat smirked.
"What, been hanging out at the vampire club?" She asked mockingly. He nodded. "You are the subject of heated discussion." Kat never laughed but this time she had to.
"A vampire club? Wait, there's actually a vampire club?" He seemed to be slightly stunned.
"Indeed. You find this amusing?'
"Well, yes, I was being ironic. I didn't actually know there was one. But thanks for the tip." Kat shot him a predatory grin. He growled at her.
"You will not attempt to destroy the club."
"And why not?"
"Because I told you not to human." Kat glared at him. Nobody told her what to do.
"Listen, whatever your name is. I have a job to do. Slaying is what I was trained to do. This is my town and I have been protecting it since I was ten, when I made my first kill. The only reason you are not dead right now is because of the fact that you aided my sister and I in our time of peril. I thank you for that, however if you ever attempt to get in my way, be warned that I will dispose of you without guilt or regret, no matter how powerful you may be." He wrapped his hand around her throat, lifting her up with minimal effort.
"Do not push me too far human, you live only by virtue of the fact that you intrigue me. I have killed more powerful than you for far less." Kat glared and kicked him as hard as she could in the stomach, which was no small amount of force, but he didn't even flinch. His eyes did darken however and she thought I could see the faint outline of dark wings behind him. It was then that she realized just how powerful he was. His true form had wings? That was extremely rare and only happened to the most powerful of the vampires. But Kat had caused him some pain, or else she would not have caught that glimpse. Kat kicked him again in between his legs this time. Now that one worked. He growled, his fangs lengthening to wicked points that glinted in the moonlight. His grip loosened enough that she wriggled out of it.
Kat was on her feet, daggers raised and in a fighter's crouch in a matter of seconds.
"Woman for that you will pay." His voice was a silky menace that sent shivers down her spine and made her want to run for the nearest sunlit meadow.
"Not without a fight vampire." He blinked and was suddenly gone. She felt him behind her and went down into a handstand kicking him in the face hard enough to break a human's jaw. It only sent him reeling back a half a foot. She landed on her feet and punched him in the nose then slashed him across the chest and simply kept on attacking him and attacking him until even her not inconsiderable endurance began to wear down. That fact was punctuated by the fact that he got in a punch that sent her flying. She slammed against a wall and managed to struggle to her feet just in time to see the myriad wounds that she had inflicted on him heal themselves and his broken nose straighten itself out. He was walking forward and Kat was having a lot of trouble breathing. That could only mean that he had managed to break one or more of her ribs. From the amount of pain she was feeling she was pretty sure that it was more like two or three. Her wrist was sprained as well. Damn. One good hit was all he needed to render her incapable of killing even a simple mortal? She was screwed, but she would not die like a coward. No, Kat would go down fighting as hard as she was able. Perhaps he saw that because he sighed and helped her stand upright. Kat grimaced but refused to make any sound. She would not show weakness to this vampire. He growled and sat her against the side of the building he had thrown her against.
"Forgive me mortal. But you seem to have the ability to drive me insane." She rolled her eyes.
"You are a vampire. It isn't as if you needed a whole lot of help." He growled.
"Do you wish for me to heal you or not?" Kat blinked. Heal her?
"I didn't realize that healing was among the vampire's repertoire of powers."
"I was a Necromancer before I was turned." Kat blinked. This was some information indeed. It was valuable beyond reason because it could very well be the key to destroying him, but then again, maybe not. Necromancers were really quite powerful. They had no weaknesses that she knew about. It looked as though she would have to do some research in case he ever decided to try to kill her. It was then that she realized that he was watching her intently.
"Why are you telling me this? I could find a way to kill you with that information." Why was she warning him? She truly must have been losing it. Kat shook her head slightly in an attempt to clear it.
"That is true, but it would take a fair amount more than just your strength to kill me, despite the fact that your strength is considerable for so young a mortal." She made a face at him and then winced again as sickening pain washed through her. "So, do you wish me to heal you so you may get back to the hunt?" He said in a slightly playful tone. She sighed.
"That would be nice, thanks, and if I may ask, shouldn't you be trying to keep me from the hunt?" He shrugged as a dark shadowy mist spread out from his hand to cover the areas where she was wounded. It was definitely a necromantic type of power. You see, Kat was no stranger to the whole witchcraft thing. In the village where her orphanage was, there was a small hut where an old witch resided. Others of like calling would often come to her for different herbs or advice, even healing. In the orphanage they were asked by the age of fifteen to go out and procure a job. I had gone there, to the tiny little hut and asked for work. The old woman had looked her over and said that she would allow kat to aid her with the gathering of the herbs she needed for she was old and her arthritic knees were becoming unsuitable to the chore. Kat had not minded and she worked there still, in fact. Once she had come to trust her and made herself certain that Kat was not a psycho, she taught her in the ways of healing with herbs and poultices. Though she had attempted to shield Kat from most of the magi and sorcerers that sometimes came through her shop, there was one day when the old witch had been indisposed with some fever or another. Kat was tending her and watching the shop for her, and a necromancer had come through looking for some magical instrument. He had talked to her, perhaps seeing the slayer that she hid beneath the surface. But he had demonstrated some of his power for her with a small dead bird. It had appeared similar to this. Kat snapped back to reality. He was answering her question.
"I care not what you do to the town vampires. They are as nothing to me."
"I thought vampires formed societies when there were enough in one place."
"They do. They have here, but I have no desire to be part of their club. They band together for support and protection. I need neither of those things." He helped her to stand. "Besides, you have quite the reputation."
"You are a terror to the vampire people and you know it."
"Well I'm glad they're afraid of something. I can't have them getting all cocky."
"Indeed." Kat looked him over again and almost shivered as she realized that he was doing the same to her.
"So, what's your deal huh? I don't get it. I piss you off and you heal me? Why am I not dinner right now?"
"Would you like to be?" His voice was again filled with silky menace.
"No, I think I'll pass if it's all the same to you. I was just curious."
"Ah. I am an old vampire, an ancient. You are intriguing. That is as nectar of the gods to someone who has not been surprised in over one hundred years." Kat blinked and shook her head. Amazing. She was Alive because she had surprised him. Well thank God for her acerbic sense of humor.
"Well, that's.. er.. interesting."
"Quite. However, I must hunt now. I have not fed in a month." A month? Most vampires had to feed once every three days. He wasn't even weak. She shook her head. She knew she wouldn't be able to stop him. After all, he had saved her life twice now.
"Happy hunting then."
"Perhaps I will not hunt. Perhaps I will take." Before Kat could even blink he had her by the neck and she felt his power surrounding her, rendering her helpless. Inwardly she laughed and chided herself at the same time. She chided herself for allowing her guard to drop enough that he had been able to do this. She laughed at herself because now that his power was holding her helpless she realized that she had only seen the teeniest fraction of what he was capable of. She laughed at herself because she had thought for even one second that she would be able to kill the vampire who was feeding from her right now. Before oblivion took hold of her mind she felt him withdraw his fangs and pick her up.