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"Deal? Pah! What could you possibly have that I would desire, a vampire hunter as you are?"

The hunter ran a hand over his scarred, stubbly face, pondering. "I made a deal with those peasants you keep terrorizing. Interesting stories they had to tell about you. A few assumed you were engaging in … blood orgies … with others of your kind. Foolish move, if you ask me. Bathing and feeding in the pools of the victims' blood, peasant blood at that, meant you were only asking for that infection you've obtained."


The vampire looked at him, curious by what he was implying. "Infection? What the hell are you speaking of, you whelp?"


"Peasants are riddled with filth and disease, most of them, and you've been bathing, drinking, and smearing their tainted blood all over yourself and your nightly friends. Hope your lot had fun, but blood orgies, as fun as they may be for vampires, are dangerous, even for a vampire. You may now be immortal but you still are prone to bad blood. I smell it, and I am no whelp. I smell the sour blackness of the blood that now courses through your veins. You have been feeling somewhat sickly recently, haven't you? Been feeling cold all over, no amount of fire or blankets can shake the chill from your bones?"


The creature hissed, baring its fangs, the canines extending out like the draw of a sharp dagger. "You know nothing about me, human! Be gone from here, and I might let you keep your life."


"But I'm the only one who can help you. The peasants' blood has tainted your own lifeblood, and now you're pathetic little afterlife of darkness is slowly coming to an end." He turned toward the door, as if ready to depart. "Perhaps I should go, and leave you to your inevitable demise … or I could aid you, so long as you do something for me …"


Suddenly, the vampire appeared to be trembling, as if afeared. Strange, the hunter pondered. How even the ones who create fear tend to learn fear whenever I get involved with them. "What exactly are you saying here, darling? I am evolved beyond your species, evolved beyond your petty diseases. You mean to scare me with this slanderous accusation of being of ill blood. I am beyond the old pain now, and am glad for it. No more do I have to fear death, as I have surpassed it. No more must I fear inflicted pain, as all my wounds heal almost instantaneously."


"It is true you cannot be infected by human illnesses, but human blood can affect the vampiric nature of the vampire." The hunter smiled his ominous smile again. "Blood sustains your life, but it can also corrupt your corporeal shell from within, if you ingest the wrong blood or feast on the tainted blood. Your friends and yourself may have been having a fun time with your blood orgies, bathing naked in baths filled with peasant blood and smearing them all over one another, but now you have tainted blood coursing through your veins, and it will kill you from inside. Suffice to say, or to put it in a term you'll understand, you have vampire's leprosy, dear host."


The vampire, coming to the realization this hunter was onto something, fell back into his chair, horror on his perfectly white face. "How could … how does this … I fear I don’t believe you."


"Believe it or not, it makes no difference. Soon your lifeblood will congeal in your body, and no amount of newly-ingested blood will fix this. Unless …"


"What, foul trickster?! Please, tell me what! Unless what?!"


The hunter shrugged his shoulders, thought. "The only way to cure this is to find the vampire that turned you into a vampire yourself and slay the fiend. I have only heard it in rumor, though, so don’t get too excited. Some say you'll become human again. Others say you'll purify your lifeblood."


The vampire, making a low growling sound, found the solution to this predicament to sound rather queer. "And how does this happen, exactly?"


"I will help you hunt down your malefactor for you. But you must help me find him; my nose is not as adapted as yours is. Yours is more attuned, young."


The gentlemanly vampire released a sound somewhere between a growl and a laugh. "Such benevolence, on your part. How kind, sweet knight. But, tell me, why would a vampire hunter - that is one who hunts vampires for coin - wish to aid me with such altruistic intentions?"


"Simple! The peasants paid me to bring them the head of a vampire. Why does that head necessarily need to be yours? You take me to your malefactor, and in return I shall take the head as my reward and send it to the peasants of the town."


"So," the vampire said slyly, "this was your plan all along, was it? Quite the opportunist, aren't you, dear? Just one thing, though - what makes you think I shall just stop my nocturnal hunting for blood, just because you helped me?"


"I don’t doubt a vampire - if that is what you remain to be - will stop thirsting for blood. All I ask is that you leave this place, and leave the peasants below this grand bastion alone. Leave. And go elsewhere. I care not for where you go, just go!"


The vampire smiled now, much like the hunter's cocksure smile. "We shall see, darling. We shall see."


Under the cover of darkness, the hunter, now with his saw weapon on his back once again, and the vampire, who had revealed himself as Vassaquin, a once-human male who was the son of a nobleman, enjoying the fruits of his father's labors, drinking, dining, fornicating in discrete brothels that housed those whom preferred buggery, made their way from the bastion into the cold night. The wind howled, as if meeting the howls of the wolves and lycans that were on their nightly prowls. The air bit like wolf teeth around the hunter's legs, neck, and face, but the vampire felt nothing, other than the coldness within him caused by the tainted blood.


The were-dog creature opened the gates for the two as they wandered the forecourt. He growled with uncertainty when the hunter passed him. "Bad dog," japed the hunter.


"Twas my father's land, hunter," said Vassaquin. "I was to inherit it all. I was his only son, his only child after my sweet sister passed from this realm. But he eventually disowned me."


"Why?" The hunter was curious.


"I assume I'll not receive judgment from a cannibal vampire hunter? The truth is … well, I wasn't fond of girls as a human, let's just put it that way."


The hunter giggled, but a bit louder than he wanted to. "Sorry," he sniggered.


Vassaquin hissed with disapproval. "Don’t mock me, human! I could still tear out your throat with a pinch of my fingers. I won't be sneered at by some un-evolved ape. The likes of you are beneath me."


"Forgive me, dear host. I apologize if I have given offense." That almost sounded sincere. "Please, tell me more of your father."


Vassaquin sighed sadly. "He was a wealthy landowner. All my life I was surrounded by wealth and riches, all beyond anyone's wildest dreams. I was spoiled, that much is true, all the things I ever desired were provided for me; to keep me happy or quiet, I don’t know. He wanted his son - me - to show nobility and strength, but, alas, I was too preoccupied with floundering about with drunkenness and stupid frivolity. He grew resentful of me. And when he found out I was … what I was, he shunned me, telling me that I was no son of his. He caught me in bed with my page, Dustin."


"I'm sorry to hear that," said the hunter, as the two of them walked through a dark wood. The trees creaked and moaned as the gusts blew them, and the hunter wrapped himself in his furs. "Sounds to me you're trying to continue, or perhaps make amends for your past, now you're a vampire."


"How so, darling."


"You miss the wealth, the luxury. You had it all through your life, being the son of a nobleman as you were. Now you have been disowned by your father, you feel that you’re entitled to magnificence and splendor. That is why you picked that grand bastion, am I right?"


"Perhaps, dear. But let's not play the game of minds here, please; I doubt you're smart enough to be a part-time scholar."


"Least you had a father. Mine fucked off when I was merely a lad. I remember him walking away, too, to the point I dream about it occasionally."


The vampire smiled. "At least we have one thing in common, then. Both our father's are pricks."


For hours they continued their walk, to the point the hunter felt his feet humming for rest, but he did not want to appear weak in the eyes of this vycan. Even with his Blood of the Ancients he could not surpass the outweighing human blood inside him, and any excelling powers or abilities his ancestral kin had, he was still very much just a human.


"Hark!" Vassaquin hissed, quiet, grabbing the hunter by the shoulder. "I hear something. Sense something. It is another, a vycan."


"Where?" The saw blade was pulled from the hunter's back, the hilt now in his right hand. He studied the wooded area, but all he saw was trees, blowing leaves, and a fox that was hunting for rabbit … and darkness.


"Quite a way away, darling," Vassaquin said with a lisp. "But if I can sense him, then no doubt he can sense me too." Vassaquin sniffed the air, like a wolf catching the scent of prey. "He is older … familiar. Darling! It must be, it must be him, without question, darling! Yes, he's sensed me. Darling, he is coming now. He smells your blood."


"I sense it too," said the hunter, gravely. "And no doubt he thinks you're hunting me. He wants me before you get to me. Guess he'll feel surprised when he sees us traveling together, huh?"


Something was coming. There was a silence, yet that same silence was like a scream in the ears of the vampire hunter. There was a rustle of leaves, shrubs, footsteps crushing leaves underfoot, a long cold breath that seemed to echo through the woods. It would be enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up; but not for the hunter. He had seen much worse in his time.


There was a shadow that flashed like light through the trees and onto the beaten path, almost gliding like some kind of apparition.


Then it appeared, burning eyes, razor-sharp teeth … the vycan.


To be continued.


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