The Hunter Chronicles - Honor Bound

by Talon God Child

Chapter One - A Boy Meets the Man



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The first time Daniel Xavier had ever seen a vampire hunter was when he was seven, but he remembered it well.

The day was calm, and he was playing with his friends. They'd been running and shouting when he came to a sharp halt by running into the legs of a man standing before him. He landed sharply on his rear and heard a startled exclamation. Strong hands lifted him back to his feet, and as the man straightened in a swirl of black cloth, dark eyes scrutinizing the youth who had run into him without humor, and all expression hidden behind a cloth mask drawn over his mouth and nose.

"Careful," was all he said before turning and walking away. It was then Daniel saw the hooded cloak, the large sword strapped across the man's back. The confident air with which he walked. The above traits marked the man as a...

"Vampire hunter..." he gasped, awed by the presence of such a stalwart warrior. The hunter halted in mid-step and Daniel caught a flicker of a smile in those eyes.

"Yes," was all he said before turning away, leaving Daniel standing awed in his wake.

But as Daniel was now fourteen, he had little time in his life for such dreams of hunters and adventures. His father was the elected mayor of Branbury, and Daniel would hopefully once day be elected for the same office. There would be no adventures with hunters in his life; only sheer monotony day after day.

So he thought, as he dressed quickly and boredly, as he strode down stairs to have breakfast with his mother and father.

But a break in that routine was painfully obvious when he realized neither of his parents was present. And so he quickly departed to find them; he didn't feel hungry anyway. And when he finally did find them, he was glad he hadn't eaten anything.

A large group was gathered down Water Street, leading to the poorer districts. Daniel quickened his pace, glad for something new in his life. He pushed his way to the front of the crowd and nearly gagged at what he saw.

"Poor Mister Weatherford," he heard a woman say softly.

"No one should die like that," another replied.

Daniel cast horrified eyes upon what remained of one of the city's drunkards, Amadeus Weatherford. The man's throat had been ripped out, so deeply his spine was visible, and the expression on his face was one of the utmost terror. But, as Daniel quickly realized, there was no blood around the body, or on it. Nor did blood seem to be anywhere on Weatherford's body... or in it.

"Fa..." Daniel tried to get it out, but was unable to.

"Daniel!" a man's voice shouted, and the youth wheeled to see his father forcing his way through the crowd to reach him. Darius Xavier forced his way through the crowds towards his tall and slender son, whose skin tone at the present was almost the pale tone of his white-blonde hair. Blue eyes were wide with disgust and horror.

"Father... What...?" Daniel tried to force it out, but was unable to. Darius gathered his son close, leading him away.

"The sheriff will take care of this one," Darius said soothingly. "Don't worry."

Though secretly, he wondered if any normal man could do so.


Dark eyes roamed the roads ahead, and a black cloak stirred in the breeze as a man halted a cyborg horse on a hill overlooking the city of Branbury. Clad in black from cloak to boot tip, the only color deviation being the extreme pallor of his hands. Skin of the purest white.

Those dark eyes narrowed when he looked upon the city, and a softly muttered oath would have been audible had there been anyone around. Then, with a soft click of the tongue, the rider urged the horse into a slow, deliberate pace towards the city limits.


"I don't like it Darius, not one bit," Branbury's sheriff, Joshua Gilford, said doubtfully to the mayor. The two men stood in an office, conversing on the events of the morning.

"What was the report?" Darius inquired stalwartly.

"Something drained Amadeus of all his blood. I hate to say it, Darius, but we both know what that means - "

"Damnit man, we haven't had a vampire lord since the last was defeated sixty years ago! I wasn't even born then!" The mayor's voice was frantic. "Why would one suddenly return!"

"That's a question for a..." Joshua's words trailed off.

"Vampire hunter? One of those fanatical fools who live by their swords and some code that no one in their right mind understands?" Darius' tone was mocking. "Well, they know a lot about the nobility, I'll give them that, but they're not to be trusted."

"The last was - "

"I don't even know where to find one, so forget it," Darius interrupted, striding to the window and staring outside. "It's bad enough Daniel was obsessed with them when he was a child; I'll have no more of it."

Daniel listened at the door silently, hearing his father's words with anger. Fanatics? No, they couldn't be! One of them had saved the city in Grandfather's time, and that HAD to mean something!

"Well, we have no other options," Joshua continued. "So my only suggestions are to find a hunter or leave the city before they kick you out of office."

"..." Daniel left quickly, running out into the streets of the city with anger in his heart.

"Stupid!" he decided, tone full of resentment. "How can he be so ungratefu-oof!" Daniel rounded a corner and ran directly into someone. He landed on his rear end hard. "Hey! Watch - " All protest died on his lips as he saw a milk white hand, the fingers covered in long silver sheaths like claws, reach down to aid him in rising. He followed that arm up, encased in a black gauntlet, to shoulders covered by a black cloak. He accepted shakily and was hauled to his feet, where he came nearly face to face with a tall man. A man with dark eyes and face covered by a black mask drawn over the mouth and nose. His eyes traveled to the long sword, and he backed away involuntarily. Vampire hunter...

"Watch where you're going, not all are as friendly as I," The vampire hunter said in a cool tone, eyes once again scrutinizing of the boy. "Tell me, is there a reputable inn in Branbury?"

"Y... yes sir!" Daniel was excited and acted rather witless. "Let me show you there! Please!"

"..." Silence greeted his response, and the simple wave of the hand was enough to tell the boy his offer was accepted. The hunter fell into pace behind the boy, leading a horse crafted of black steel, whose eyes gleamed like shards of a mirror, and whose black mane was streaked with red. The hunter and his mount cast an impressive figure, and Daniel found himself thinking of old stories he'd heard as a boy; of the brave, mysterious hunters who saved and protected the innocent with their very lives... for a price. Bearers of holy swords and users of strange magics, they lived outside normal society, in one of their own.

"You wouldn't happen to be looking for work, would you?" Daniel stammered.

"...I am currently unemployed," the man replied in a deep, monotonous voice. "Why do you ask?"

"...Never mind," he said, remembering his father's words about the hunters.

Father has to do something! Daniel thought viciously. Now that we have a hunter in the city, he'll be sure to hire him!

As soon as he led the hunter to the inn, he raced back to city hall and burst into his father's office. Darius sat at his desk, massaging his temples.

Father! You won't believe this!" Daniel shouted joyously. "There's a hunter in the city! He just came in!"

"A what!" Darius rose in surprise. "What... how did you..."

"Never mind that! We need one, right!" Daniel's tone was ecstatic. "He's staying at the Ivory Pearl Inn! I showed him there!"

"..." Darius seemed torn between his own thoughts and the prospect of helping his people. Then he glanced down at an opened letter on his desk.

Which comes first, my ideals or the town's safety? he asked himself. He silently reread the letter.

Which comes first, my ideals or Daniel's safety?

"..." He calmly picked up an old-style telephone and spoke into it. "Miss Slate, I'll be going out for a while," he said, seeing the smile on his son's face. "Where? Ivory Pearl Inn. To hire a vampire hunter."


The hunter had chosen a dark corner for himself later that evening in the tavern, dark eyes watching the passersby bitterly. His very presence seemed to cast a black mood over many of the citizens. If their moods were reflected in their conversations at any rate. To listen to the conversations of others was a rude thing at any rate, and a hunter wagered honor over life. So he paid them no mind and ordered a simple meal. And whilst many others in the tavern were partial to stronger spirits, the hunter simply ordered milk. He went through several glasses before he'd finished his meal, but as he was finishing, he noticed a well-dressed gentleman approaching his table.

Quickly, he downed the rest of the glass, tugged his mask back into place, then rose and tried to make a hasty exit. But to no avail, the newcomer was well dressed but by no means gentle. The hunter learned that well when a hand fastened tightly over his wrist in grip that even he didn't think possible to break.

"Alright, you win." Beneath the mask, the hunter smiled bitterly. "I take it you want me out of your city."

"...Have a seat," was the solemn reply.


Daniel walked along the streets that evening, bored and tired. He didn't feel like going home to dine with his silent and brooding parents; didn't feel like going back to their silent house with too many rooms and not enough people.

I'm fourteen and I still wish I could be a vampire hunter, he realized suddenly, blushing at the idiocy of the statement. But one could not deny one's own thoughts.

"So, I want to be a vampire hunter instead of a mayor," he voiced aloud, failing to notice that darkness had fallen once more and he was still out. "Maybe I should go beg apprenticeship from that wandering hunter."

"And perhaps you should not," a silky voice taunted from behind.

Daniel screeched in fear and wheeled around, eyes searching the darkness around him for the speaker. Too late, he realized the time and place where he was; barely three miles from the place Weatherford had been found drained of all blood. But what followed was a scene that seemed, to him, straight out of the old legends.

A tall, elegantly attired man stepped out of mists that gathered and spun at his feet. Pale as the mists that welled around him, with eyes of red that glistened with anticipation for blood. He moved slowly, intent on his prey, which seemed frozen with fear.

Dear God! Help me! Daniel begged in his thoughts.

"So, there is a hunter here? Well, then he has failed to save at least this young human," the vampire said, voice filled with malicious cunning. He took another step towards the boy -

- When a dark-clad form slammed into him from the side.


The hunter rolled expertly out of the way of the tumbling vampire, and rose to his feet with inhuman speed. In an instant, his sword was drawn and ready. He faced his foe with a detached sense of amusement.

The vampire lay prone for a moment, but quickly recovered and rose to his feet. He gave a small cry of dismay for his dusty attire, then another of rage when he saw the hunter before him.

"Fool!" he spat. "You'll pay dearly for this!"

"Afraid I won't be the one to pay," the hunter said wryly.

"Name yourself, fool!" the vampire was enraged. His eyes were like embers in the darkness, and his fangs bared.

"I am the instrument of your destruction," the hunter replied coolly. "That's all you need to know."

He turned and looked momentarily at the boy, who'd helped him earlier, the boy frozen in fear and astonishment, then looked back at his prey. The vampire howled in anger and lunged at the distracted hunter, forcing the man to dive to avoid the attack. The hunter turned several graceful flips, then landed in a crouch. The vampire hissed something the hunter didn't understand, and he narrowed his eyes as he watched the mists gather and obscure the form of the dark nobleman. He rushed in and lunged, heard a satisfying howl of pain, and cursed when he saw the nobleman had escaped him.


Daniel had fallen to his knees, overwhelmed by the events that had just transpired. He watched as the hunter resheathed the sword, swore violently, and then wheeled to face someone approaching in the dark.

"Damn you, hunter!" Daniel heard his father shout. "I told you to leave my son out of this!"

"Oops," the hunter replied sarcastically. "Well, I'll just let him die next time."

"Ugh, your entire class are bastards!" Darius shouted, running to his son and checking him from head to toe. This action brought a burst of scornful laughter from the hunter. "Shut your mouth!"

"The boy is unharmed; I would have been worried if he was injured." The hunter shrugged and turned away. Daniel couldn't see the hunter's eyes well.

But he thought he saw something like hatred in there.


Damnable fools, the hunter thought mildly. Can't teach them anything.

"Sometimes your kind overreacts to little things," the hunter said coldly.

"What!" Darius yelled, hands balled into fists. "That's coming out of your pay, hunter!"

"Oh, we did discuss that, didn't we." The hunter turned away, smiling cruelly. "Anyway, if this thing has targeted your son, you'll need me to protect you, correct?"

"I suppose," the man said, wary of the hunter's demands.

"Let me stay at your mansion then, to protect him."


I love it when they do that! the hunter thought cynically.


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The Hunter Chronicles ©2003 by Talon God Child

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