I returned to watch the Hunter's camp everyday for a number of weeks in order to learn their habits. If I was going to be able to live here peacefully I was going to either learn when to avoid them, or learn how to destroy them.
The general pattern seemed to be that the men went out with the dogs in the mornings, following trails and scents and attempting to pick up any vampires. They carried blessed weapons and a variety of nets and restraints that would keep the vast majority of vampires down. They were reasonably well equipped but naive about their own prowess against that of a vampire at full strength. From the way they talked, I knew none of them had ever fought a vampire that was at full strength.
The women and young childeren stayed behind, tending to the camp and in particular, making sure that the prison wagon was in condition, ready for any vampires that may be captured. I could smell the holy silver from the trees and felt faintly ill.
During the nights, they had armed pairs, three at a time, patrolling in two hour shifts. I guessed some of them had been military men due to the precision of their work. They had effective coverage of their camp-if they were protecting against humans, or even a careless vampire. But the majority of vampires would have slipped past them easily.
After a couple of weeks, with nothing other than some minor excitement over some tracks, I felt that they were going to be no threat. They were noisy and would have to be exceptionally luck to get anywhere near a healthy vampire. Plus, I would be able to feed from them without major risk. There were about eighty all together; thirty Hunters.
I decided to watch for one more week. Then I would attempt to build some kind of a home out here for a decade or so. That would give enough time for the hype around the Council to die down. Then I would set myself an assignment; Lee. I would find him and I would get answers. Whatever it took. Jake's broken body was seared into my retinas, always in the back of my mind. I wanted to know why he took everything. I wanted to ask so many questions. But for now, I kept them to myself, biding my time until I would be free to persue my sire at my leisure.
Two days before I was going to leave them, there was a monumental shift in their camp.
A pair of Hunters, wounded, came back to the camp around midday. Quickly, word spread throughout the camp. The pair had been tracking away from the main group when they had found a vampire. It had attacked them and killed their friend. The rest of the Hunters were bringing it back now, they had been sent back early to warn the camp and to tell the camp to prepare the prison.
My heart thudded painfully in my throat. Another vampire.
They dragged him in a couple of hours later, barely more than a corpse. My hand clenched reflexively on the hilt of my sword as they threw him into the prison wagon. He was covered in blood and obviously wounded. My mind went to the stores I had kept from my pack. I could help him-find someone they wouldn't miss, give him strength from the stores..
As the door was swung into place behind the Hunters, I got a glimpse of the face of their victim. My heart stopped as I recognised the face.