Transylvania, two days later.
As the vampire reaches for me I duck, I move quickly as I stab the beast through the heart with my trusty sword, Screamer. But that doesn’t kill the beast, it only slows him down long enough so that I can cut off his head. The vampires head rolls off of his shoulders and onto the ground, his eyes still painted red with the hunger for blood.
His name was Andre Burnt, made in 1875 in Rome. I’ve been tracking him for two weeks since his face showed up in Romania.
My name is Adrian Sylvanus, and hunting vampires is what I am good at.
I was found in an orphanage in Italy in 1994, my mother was fifteen years old when she gave birth to me, her father demanded that I be handed over to someone who would know how to look after me. And that’s all I know about her.
Eight years later, I was finally adopted out by a woman named Stella Hane. She saw potential in me and trained me to become a vampire hunter. She took me to her home in Romania and raised me to become a hunter, two years after being adopted, I killed my first vampire.
I was being used as bait for a hunter trying to lure out a vampiress who took a fancy to young blood, the mission was unsanctioned by Stella, had the hunter survived, she would have torn in him in half, but something went wrong and the hunter who was responsible for me was killed. So I had to fight the vampire in a hidden ally way, I put a broken piece of glass into its neck and when it went down to its knees, I hacked off his head. It was gruesome and bloody and will probably scar me for life.
I leant quickly, I adapted to the life of hunting and in my eyes, I was born to do it.
I sheath my sword and look at the body in front of me.
Screamer is my sword that I hand made myself form Damascus steel, he cost me a fortune to make, but he is worth every penny I put into it.
I am funded by the cities that I help, they pay me ten thousand lei per vampire killed, and I have been killing vampires since I turned ten in 2004.
I pick up the vampire’s head and light the body on fire before walking back to my car, watching the rest of the house go up in flames as I drive back to headquarters.
When I walk through the doors I am greeted by Bronn, one of the record keepers.
“Stella is looking for you,” he says, taking the vampires head from me, “Who do we have here?”
“Andre Burnt,” I say, handing him my files on the vampire.
Once a vampire is killed we cannot just sweep it under the rug, we have to keep a record of the kill and who the vampire was.
I walk into Stella’s office and she looks up to me with a raised eyebrow.
“I don’t recall sanctioning your hunt,” she says to me as I sit down at her desk.
“It was very improvised,” I smile, she sighs and leans back in her chair as she pinches the bridge of her nose.
Stella Hane is one of the head huntresses of the hunter’s society, she is fifty-six years old but could easily pass as forty-five. She has greying brown hair and three long scars running diagonally across her face. Her scars were gained from a vampire hunt back when she was twenty, the story goes that a vampire sliced her face and then she sliced his head off.
Stella runs the hunter’s society in Europe, she works alongside the six other leaders to help abolish vampires from the world.
“Adrian,” She sighs, shaking her head and smiling, “You remind me so much of me when I was your age.”
“Thank you,” I smile, leaning back in my chair, “Now, what is it you want to talk to me about.”
“We are temporarily relocating you,” She says, standing and walking over to her filing cabinet.
“What?!” I exclaim, sitting up straight as she returns to her desk with a thick folder.
“I know,” Stella sighs, “It’s only going to be temporary. The American Hunter Society needs the strongest hunters for an important mission.”
“America!?” I gape, standing to my feet in outrage, “I hate America!”
Stella raises her eyebrow at me; that alone is enough to send me back to my seat.
“Just hear the mission,” Stella says handing me the folder with information in it, “The assignment is a vampire name Thana she is ruthless and cunning. Hunters have seen her and have been able to track her back to a brothel in Harlem, but when they try to proceed further, they end up dead.”
“A brothel?” I gape, my curiosity peaking as I open the folder, “A vampire brothel?”
“Not exactly,” Stella sighs, leaning back in her chair and lacing her hands together, “It appears that the brothel houses human whores, they feed and… service the humans and vampires that visit. But that’s not all, there is a club out the front and what appears to be a separate brothel area for human customers. The American’s have tried to send in agents undercover as customers, but each time the hunters are discovered and killed, only one has managed to escape with his life hanging on a thread. So AHS is calling for backup, they are looking for the best hunters from all around the globe to take down Thana. Apparently you are highly sought after.”
“Where do they get the human whores from?” I ask.
“The hunter that escaped with his life says that the human ‘workers’ are missing children, that was all he said before he died of his wounds.” Stella says, I flip through the cases and anger begins to seethe through me, “We believe that it ties in with the abductions that have been occurring for the past forty-five years. Children have been abducted from all around America. Some have been found dead in alleyways, the victims have been found years after their abduction, they are never older than twenty-five years of age. And when a new victim turns up, another child goes missing.”
“So the vampire is taken them at a young age and grooming them to be workers for her, and then killing them when they become too old or unusable,” I say flipping to the most recent case, “For instance when they become pregnant.”
“Correct,” Stella says, nodding.
“It says here that the last girl was killed two nights ago,” I notice, examining the file closely, “Who did they abduct?”
“A girl named Evangeline Grant,” Stella says, opening her copy of the file, “She was taken from Washington D.C.”
“How old?” I ask, Stella purses her lips together as her eyes narrow in anger.
“Ten,” she says, I breathe out a curse under my breath, “They are getting bold, this is the youngest abduction since two thousand and seven. And the girl was taken from her own home at nine o’clock at night, unlike the others, who were taken in broad daylight in random places, like parks and shopping malls. Which is why the AHS is looking for more experienced hunters. Look, Adrian, you are our best soldier, this assignment is important, these children are being taken away from everything and forced to do sinful acts. I believe you can help the AHS find these children and save them.”
I flip through the cases, most of them are stamped with bold red letters reading: Deceased. I turn to the oldest living case and see a photo of a little girl smiling at the camera with big green eyes.
“I’ll do it,” I say, looking back up to Stella.
“Good,” Stella sighs, she wouldn’t have made me go if I didn’t want to, but she and I both know that I am probably their only hope. I stare down at the picture again, this child would be eighteen years old by now.
“We will keep in contact along the way.” Stella says, standing, “Your flight leaves in an hour, your account is full with your money and your clothes are packed. AHS has also put in fifteen thousand American dollars into your account just for going over there. And you will be given your usual ten thousand lei per vampire as well, so around three and a half thousand American dollars per kill.”
“This case will make me rich,” I joke lightly, Stella laughs as I close the folder and stand to my feet, “What about Screamer?”
“I’ve had a case sent to your room, the rest of your essentials have been packed and sent ahead of you,” Stella says, escorting me out of her office, “It will need to fly in the cargo hold.”
“He better not get stolen or lost,” I grumble already feeling anxious.
“There is a car out front waiting for you.” Stella says, walking me to my room as I pick up the case, “Your flight leaves in an hour. Good luck.”
I glare at the large, black case and then untie Screamer from my side and lock him away.
“Great, now I feel naked,” I mumble, walking to the car waiting for me. I am driven to the airport, I check-in and when I see the lady put Screamer’s case onto a conveyor belt, my heart leaps into my throat.
I fly from Transylvania to Paris, where I wait for an hour before flying from Paris to Manhattan. I read and re-read the files on the abductions and the vampires in Harlem. I try to find a connection between the children, but there aren’t any. None of the children even look the same, their parents all have different jobs and live in different states of America. It seems that the children are chosen completely at random, they are also taken during the day, which means that there are humans working loyally for the vampires.
I arrive in Manhattan and wait anxiously for Screamer’s case to come around on the conveyor belt. When I see the black case, I jump forward and grab it, when Screamer’s case is in his hand my heart finally resumes its regular beat as I walk out to the pickup area. I see my name written on a large white sign and sigh.
“Adrian Silvanus?” the man holding the sign asks, “I’m here from the AHS and I’m going to take you to headquarters.”
“Great,” I sigh
“Is that all of your luggage?” the man asks and I look down to Screamer’s case in one hand and the files in the other.
“It’s all I need,” I say, “I’ve had the rest of my stuff sent ahead of me.”
“Then they’ll be in your room.” The man says smiling and showing me to a shiny black Mercedes.
“Ever been hunting in that thing?” I question, almost laughing at its ridiculousness.
“All the time,” The man smiles, patting the bonnet, “She’s quick as lightning.”
“Right,” I sigh, sliding into the passenger seat and closing the door. The ride to headquarters is quiet, I watch as the city grows around us. I scrunch up my nose up at the dirty roads and the garbage that litters the streets.
“So what’s Romania like?” the man asks and I suppress the urge scoff.
“Cleaner,” is all I say, the man driving sighs.
We arrive at the AHS Manhattan headquarters, which seems to be located under a large church. I walk into the church front with Screamer still in his case, a man in a suit walks towards me with a smile on his face and his hand extended.
“My name is Cedric Evans,” The man says, shaking my hand, “We’ve been expecting you.”
“Are you the head hunter here?” I ask, looking around the church, I then follow Cedric to a back room and then down to the hunters base.
“No,” Cedric smiles, “That would be Father Broan.”
“Do you always wear a suit?” I ask, looking at Cedric with a raised eyebrow, “One would think that it would be hard to hunt in a suit.”
“I do no hunt as often as I used to,” Cedric says, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he walks, “I am the keeper of records and face the press when needed.”
“When was the last time you hunted?” I ask as I keep track of the turns we take.
“Last year,” Cedric says, opening the door to a room, “A vampire was abducting older people from busses. This is your room.”
My room is very large, in the middle of the room is the largest bed I have ever seen, there is also a bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe where all of my belongings are.
“You are quite a big deal here,” Cedric says, leaning on the door frame.
“Apparently,” I sigh, putting Screamer’s case on the end of the bed.
“I’ll let you rest,” Cedric smiles, “You must be tired from your flight, someone will come for you in a few hours.”
Cedric leaves and closes the door behind him.
I set the files down on the bed and then spread them out, again I try to find a connection, but everything is so random, from the children to the location from where they were taken.
From the information the files provide, I figure that there are at least five other vampires working with Thana as well as some loyal humans. During the day, when the vampires are sleeping, dogs patrol the grounds, a two and a half-meter electric fence also surrounds the property, and at night the fence is shut off and opened for customers to enter. The voltage in the fence is strong enough to stop a human heart in under four seconds.
“What is the connection?” I mumble, becoming annoyed, I sigh and then open Screamer’s case. I clean and oil my sword before falling asleep on top of the covers with screamer close by.
The girl who wakes me almost dies. She would have if she didn’t have a sword of her own.
She gently shook me and seeing how I am not used to being woken up, I unsheathed my sword and sliced without thinking. The girl jumped backwards and put her own sword up to block mine.
“Sorry,” I gape, my eyes widen as I sheath Screamer, “Not used to being woken up.”
“Understandable,” the girl says standing straight and sheathing her own sword, a katana, a sword I am not overly fond of, “My name is Rose; I’m here to take you to the meeting.”
“Fine.” I huff getting out of bed, I tie Screamer to my waist and then runs my fingers through my hair. Rose leads me out of my room and down the hall.
“So, how long have you been with AHS?” I ask, breaking the silence.
“All my life, my father and my mother have raised me to be the best hunter,” Rose says.
I can see by the way Rose walks that she has not killed a single vampire yet, she is too bouncy, too cheerful in the way she talks. Once you fight a vampire, everything changes, it is terrifying and you can never move past it. I can still remember my first kill, the vampire was double his height and he was lucky to kill him without major injuries.
“Here we are,” Rose says, pulling me out of my thoughts.
“Thanks,” I say, Rose takes my hand and presses a card into my palm, I frown at her in confusion.
“Call me,” Rose whispers opening a door and walking inside. I look down at the card and sigh as I put it into my back pocket.
I walk into the room which is set up like a conference room. A long table stands in the middle of the room and half the seats are full, everyone sits near the end of the room, so naturally, I take the seat closest to the door, furthest away from them all.
“Is this all of us?” a man asks walking into the room with a clipboard in his arms, he is dressed in priest robes; I assume that this is Father Broan.
A few more men are escorted into the room, two hunters from Ireland, one from Australia and another from Africa.
“Let us begin then,” the man says, sitting at the head of the table, then he turns to the international hunters who all sit by me, “Let me first introduce myself, to those who don’t know me, I am Father James Broan, head hunter. Now, as you all should know, a child was taken three days ago, and just yesterday another child was abducted, a teenage boy named Justin, fourteen years old. And the body of one Ben Hess, Ben was found two blocks from where the other boy was taken. We all know that the vampiress Thana is responsible, but as usual, we cannot penetrate her nest.”
I sigh and roll my eyes, tipping my head back already irritated at the priest’s speech.
“Is there something wrong, Mr Sylvanus?” Father Broan asks, glaring at me.
“This whole case,” I say, gesturing around the room and looking to him, “I want to know exactly what you have done to rescue the victims?”
“We have tried sending people undercover,” Father Broan says, leaning back in his chair, “All have died, some don’t even pass the door.”
“One did,” I say, “What did he say?”
“He said that the whores were the ones that identified them,” Father Broan says, sitting up straight and narrowing his eyes on me.
“No need for that type of talk, mate,” the hunter from Australia snarls.
“It’s what they are,” Father Broan says, waving a dismissive hand, “They have learnt to identify hunters, they tell the vampires and our men are slaughtered. The nest does not have a weak spot, no one fully knows the plans of the brothel.”
“Tunnel vision,” I scoff, dialling my sass to high level, “You have a narrow mind. Those girls are doing what they can to survive, if they talk to a hunter, they know they would be killed. Give me one night and I’ll get you the information you need.”
“And what makes you so special?” one of the hunters scoffs, I glare at him and then smirk.
“I am part Greek,” I say, “Trojan horse, remember?”
The other international hunters are the only ones who laugh with me.
“And just what are you planning to do?” Father Broan asks, leaning forward, silencing the laughter.
“I am going to go undercover,” I say, half of the room sighs and shakes their heads, “As a customer,” I continue.
“We’ve done that,” Father Broan growls, “Do you not understand English?”
“I understand it perfectly well,” I growl back, “I also understand and speak fifteen other languages. I am not going in as a human customer, I am going undercover as a vampire customer.” The room falls silent and I smile triumphantly, “I have watched how vampire’s move, speak and act for the past ten years,” he explains, “I go in as a customer, order one of the girls and get them to talk.”
“It’s impossible, the whores are loyal,” Rose says, the way she says ‘whores’ irritates me.
“They aren’t loyal,” the Australian argues, “They are scared, if they tell a human what is happening, then they would probably be killed or worse, tortured. But a vamp? They would already know what would be going on behind the scenes.”
“This isn’t certain,” Father Broan says, crossing his arms over his chest, “We cannot allow this mission.”
The international hunters and I roll our eyes.
“Then why are we here?” I argue, “You called us to help with this case, so let us help. This plan might be the only way in.”
“Meeting adjourned,” Father Broan says, standing to his feet.
“We aren’t finished!” I shout, standing to my feet and slamming my hands on the table.
“Listen boy,” Father Broan hisses, “I’ve been hunting these demons long before you were born! I am head hunter here, I don’t know how you do things where you’re from, but around here, I am the leader, therefore you answer to me! I said meeting adjourned, now leave.”
“You are one sick bastard, father,” the Australian growls, “If any of this was going on where I’m from. You could bet your bloody hat that we would be doin’ anything to get the victims out.”
“How many kids have been kidnapped by Thana?” the African asks, “How many children have died because your people have failed to stop the vampiress? You call us here, you ask for our help yet deny it when it is offered. Will you be waiting until more dead bodies turn up on your step? I have heard of Thana, she was in my country before she was here. Many children die by her fangs.”
“I will not have my actions questioned, I am head hunter, what I say, goes, and you are just soldiers waiting to follow orders, now follow orders and leave this room,” Father Broan growls, I feel my anger begin to seethe, I know that if I do not leave, people will get hurt.
So I stand to my feet and storm out of the room, slamming the door behind me.
I walk back to my room, but before I open the door I hear a bark from the other side.
“No,” I groan opening the door and cursing. Sitting at the end of my bed is a dog carrier.
“Son of a bitch,” I curse, inside the dog carrier is Max, a Belgian Malinois, and my ‘hunting companion’.
I don’t work well in a team so as a compromise Stella issued Max to me. Max is one of the best vampire-hunting dogs in the whole academy, but of course, I wouldn’t know that because I usually leave the dog in the car.
I let Max out and the dog bounds around the room, wagging his tail like an idiot.
“Sit down, you stupid mutt,” I grumble and Max huffs and sits in front of me, I swear in Romanian and then pull out my phone.
Stella answers on the second ring.
“Yes Adrian?” she says
“I don’t need the dog,” I say and Stella sighs.
“Adrian, I’m not arguing about this,” Stella says, “You are keeping him, you will take him on hunts, no arguing.”
I stay silent because when Stella says no arguing, you better not argue or she will tear you a new one.
“So, tell me, what are the Americans like?” Stella asks and I sit on my bed as I explain the situation.
“They won’t listen to me,” I say, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Then make them,” she says, her voice stern, “I didn’t send you over there to cower to them, I sent you to do your job.”