As I got to the camp, I realised it needed repairs. The walls were collapsing and the roof was almost entirely gone, blown away by winds. It had been about five years since I had been here; I was proud it had held up this well. Sighing in resignation, I went to collect materials to do the repairs. I was semi-delirious from exhaustion and my injuries had not healed at all.
I was improvising a roof with some rope and wood that I had stored there when the sounds of humans floated through the trees. In my severely weakened state-it would be a struggle to keep them at bay. With this in mind, I disappeared in the canopy of the nearest tree. A group of Hunters arrived moments later, complete with a pack of dogs.
"Stupid mutts lead us wrong again." One of them cursed, striking out at the dog, who yelped in pain and cringed away.
"Leech got away again more like it-heard this one is famous or summat; there's a bounty out for it. Even the leech bigwigs want her dead."
The group muttered amongst themselves as I sat as still as I could, not breathing, praying they did not look up. The dog was whining and pawing at the tree, but its owner slapped it away.
"Lets get outta here." He growled, hauling the dogs away. There was a long period of silence before I let out the breath I had held, achingly slowly. I went down the tree again, picking up the platform I had made for the roof. The camp was no longer safe, so taking everything I could, I moved out; deeper into the forest, praying that my scent would not be found before I could make camp again. I selected a large tree, about a mile away, with sprawling, wide branches. I set up a crude shelter with what I had and with my swords close to hand-fell into a shallow but much needed sleep.
Some time later I woke, partially healed, to the sound of movement below. Silently, swords in hand, I made my way to the opening that served as a door and looked down. A human was looking at tracks I had left, puzzled. He was very young, about twelve and evidently not a Hunter. My viens burned as I caught his scent. I knocked him out with my powers and fed. I buried what was left near the old camp, with some regret. I still hated killing, but this was survival. No one could know about this camp. I took a different, more careful route back to my new camp and my home for an indefinate period of time. Now I had fed, my healing sped up and by the time I returned I was close to full health. After a few more hours sleep, I was fully healed.
I returned to the site of the old camp, checking for signs of Hunters; either from the Council or humans, aware that Zelthar would expect me to return to him. I had no intention of doing so. I was determined to try and escape from the life of a bounty hunter. As though he was next to me, I could hear Jake telling me about Vampire Mansion. The memory brought with it a knife of grief and anger at what Lee had stolen from me. At what this life had cost me. Jake was someone who was irreplacable. My only consolation was that we'd had those short months together, living as we had always wanted to.
The sounds of a camp reached my senses as I wandered through the forest. Silently, I made my way towards them, alert for any traps that may have been set. I smelled tainted blood nearby and rolled my eyes slightly. Even the most injured and desperate vampire would avoid blood that smelled so bad. The camp was situated in a huge clearing, circled with gypsy-style caravans. One stood out clearly from the rest and was evidently designed for holding captives. I could see some of the Hunters from before. There was a large group gathered around a central fire and I realised it was a kind of service. My thoughts went to the young boy and I felt a twinge of guilt as I realised he must have belonged to this group. I left them to their mourning. They may be hunting me, but I had enough compassion to allow them this one time to mourn their loved one.