It was the perfect kind of night where someone like Barry Godwynn was concerned; not a cloud in the sky to obstruct the moon's soft blue light, the chilly autumn air surprisingly crisp and pleasant. The forest, though thick and somewhat oppressive, seemed serene in the moonlight, adding an element that was almost magical to the whole scene. But Barry wasn't here to appreciate the beauty of the place; all he cared about was whether he had clear visibility for at least fifty feet. He ignored the mosquito that whined through the air near his ear, never letting his concentration waver. He was after a different kind of bloodsucker tonight. He had bigger fish to fry, so to speak.
He ran a gloved hand through his short black hair, brushing strands out of his line of sight, then settled his grip back onto the sharply-honed oak stake holstered at his side. His other hand somewhat absently fingered the holy cross dangling at his neck. He stepped stealthily along the forest floor, and waited.
The hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stirred. He wasn't alone...he could sense it. His brown eyes darted restlessly, his grip on the stake tightened. He cast all his senses outward; listening...feeling. The forest now seemed more than just oppressive; it seemed to be creeping closer, like a large living entity, wanting to smother him. He wasn't sure if it was his eyes playing tricks on him, or...
Barry's head snapped around, searching for the owner of the deep, silky whisper that had passed near his ear. The stake was wrenched from its holster immediately, now poised in a white-knuckle grip to strike.
There was no one there.
Barry sneered into the darkness around him. Typical vampire tactic, used to cause fear and confusion. There was neither in Barry's manner at all; this was all old hat for a professional like him.
"And a good evening to you, too," he said. His tone was casual, fearless. His eyes were stony, trying to pierce the darkness to find his target. "Lord Conrad, I presume?"
A dark chuckle broke the silence, velvety and smooth. "A lucky guess, I'm sure."
Barry tensed every muscle in his body, preparing himself for the vampire's advance. "Not really. You're just the one I was looking for," he said with a smirk.
The chuckle returned for an encore, sounding more amused than ever, which made Barry bristle inwardly. "You sound very confident," said the voice from the shadows. "I wonder if you really know who you're dealing with."
"Yeah. Sure I do." Barry hunched into a semi-crouch, ready to pounce. "A murdering, low-life, blood-sucking monster. Same as all the rest."
"Dear me!" The voice pretended to sound shocked by this statement, laughing softly. "You really have no idea, do you? I almost pity you."
Barry caught a sense of movement in the darkness just ahead of him. Barry's smirk intensified. Pretty stupid to go right for the frontal assault. This was going to be easier than he thought.
A sudden sharp, excrutiating pain in his shoulder broke his concentration, and he gasped, his body going rigid. He was jerked like a broken marionette, forced to whirl around to face--
"Go on hunter, feast your eyes. Am I still like all the rest, as you say?"
Barry was stricken dumb. The pain in his shoulder, caused by the vampire gripping him with its strong fingers, was all but forgotten. All his training and instincts told him not to look the thing in the face, but it was too late. The stake slipped from his slackening grip, but still he fought the urge to fall into the vampire's hypnotic gaze, fought to tear his eyes away from the beautiful yet terrible visage before him. And yet he stood spellbound, helpless as the vampire touched its cold fingers delicately to his cheek, caressing it briefly, before grasping the gold chain that held his cross necklace together and wrenching it roughly apart, casting it aside like it was an afterthought.
"Do you not feel blessed to know," the vampire purred silkily, "that such sublime beauty will be the last thing you see upon leaving this mortal coil?"
The vampire was too quick for Barry to react. In a flash, Barry was thrust forward into a grisly embrace, sharp fangs piercing through the flesh of his throat like carving knives. He screamed once into the dark, lonely night. And then all was silent once more as the vampire, the Scourge of Romania, Lord Conrad Everhart, took his meal.