An owl’s cry echoes through the night. A man stirs slightly. Hidden in the shadow of three old trees, he watches the forest. Twin moons give enough light to move without the need for torchlight. Here a deer slowly moves through the woods. A pair of foxes moves swiftly through the gaps in the underbrush. Still, the man waits. All around him the buzz of insects and the croak of hidden frogs fill the still air.
The man takes quiet, even breathing. He remains still. His brown skin is marked by countless scars from past battles. His leather armor is equally worn.
Abruptly the night sounds fall silent.
He carefully tightens his grip on a pair of daggers.
His dark eyes scan the forest, seeking anything out of the ordinary. Anything unusual.
Then he sees a shadowy figure move.
The figure moves carefully, silently, from one tree to the next. His black cloak gives him a shadow-like quality. The figure is hunched over, pausing every now and then. Little by little, the figure moves closer to where the man hides. The man keeps track of how slow time is passing by the shadows of the trees. An hour passes before the figure reaches his hiding place.
The man tenses, his hands gripping the swords.
“I smell you.” The figure hisses.
He straightens and faces the man’s hiding place.
“I smell your hatred. Your fear.”
Slowly the man rises and steps forward. His swords remain drawn but at his side. The figure nods his head in understanding. He draws his hood back, revealing pale skin and an aristocratic face. The figure’s black hair is pulled back and tied in a single ponytail. Despite his handsome human features, his eyes are little more than solid black orbs.
“Who are you, hunter?”
“I am Kal, Son of Anon of the O’di Clan.” The man answers as he assumes a combat stance. “And you?”
The figure throws his black cloak aside, revealing black armor. A red hand print adorns the chest armor. “I am Krishna of the Line of Lucia.”
For a moment, they stand in the moonlight eyeing one another. It is clear both have lived the life of warriors. And it is clear that both are skilled and seasoned by long experience.
“Why do you wait for me in the dark?” Krishna asks.
The question catches him off guard.
“Why do you wait to murder me?”
“You are hunting.”
“Am I? Do you see any humans nearby? Do you see any others besides me? Do you see the so-called war paint upon my face? The blood of our victims as your kind claim we do? Do you see bloodlust or rage?”
“You are killers–”
“By those of you who hate my kind! You cannot listen to the words of those who hate us! Me! Their words are tainted. Look to your feelings and hear those who agree with us. That peace can exist between our kinds. That we can live beside one another.”
A warning in Kal’s heart gives him pause. He takes a deep breath and tightens his grip on the steel swords.
Krishna makes the first move. He becomes a little more than a black whirlwind. Red blades appear out of thin air. Kal barely has enough time to get his own steel blades in place to parry. In seconds, they are lost in the rhythm of the battle.
Silver blade against red sword.
Their blows strike hard enough to send sparks flying. Their clashes echo through the night. Back and forth, the two males battle. Back and forth they struggle. A monetary weakness gives the other the advantage but a mistake quickly shifts the balance of power back. They become black shadows. Faster than any human could possible dream of.
A heartbeat passes and the two combatants split apart.
For a moment they pause to catch their breath.
Kal’s left leg sports a deep wound and is barely able to hold his weight. A blow to his ribs has caused him pain with each breath. His arm and forehead bear lighter wounds. Sweat dampens his armpits and back. Fear dampens his palms.
Krishna is little better off. His chest is riddled with stabs wounds. His right arm bear several deep wounds while his left kneecap is askew.
“Why do you hunt us.” Krishna snarls, “What have we done to you?”
“You are an evil that must be destroyed.” Kal wheezes out. His vision is darkening around the corners. “That is reason enough.”
“Evil? We did not choose this. None of us did. We became this because another was forced to do what they must to survive.” Krishna stalks forward, “We do what we do to survive! We have the right to survive and live as we please! As do you and your kind!”
“You are murdering innocents!”
“What innocents?” Krishna snaps back, anger giving him strength, “Have you heard of a man disappearing or a family found slaughtered? Have you heard stories where children vanish from their beds or whole villages disappearing? No! We are not murders!”
“Your kind has preyed on us for ages. Only the War Clans have risen to stop you.”
The black armored figure scoffs, “You fool. You War Clans fight among yourself. Was it not just three days ago where two Clans destroyed each other? And what of our deeds? Have we not lived in peace beside you? Have we not killed or hunted the humans?”
Kal prepares to continue the fight.
“You cannot be serious! Put aside your blades and your hatred. Hear me and the truth I tell you. Please!”
“Why should I listen to you?” Kal answers. “Everything you have said and done?”
“Tell me! What have we done to harm you? Have you seen us killed? Or maim? Or have you seen my kind react to you as you hunt us in our own homelands. As your kind kill us in our villages and homes. Have we not the right to defend ourselves?”
For a moment, Kal hesitates.
“You cannot think of an instance? Can you? Where we have hunted and killed humans. None because we have not acted so.” Krishna takes a deep, labored breath, “We wish only to live beside you. I know you have heard our pleas and our cries for peace. We are not evil though we act out of defense. All that we have done we have done so because of your aggression. Your hatred towards us.”
Kal’s blades drop as the truth of Krishna’s words takes root.
For Krishna is right. No humans had been slaughtered. No lives had been consumed. Krishna and his kind were staying away from the humans.
He crosses the distance like a black lightning bolt, sinking his blade deep into his gut. Kal groans as he drops his swords. The hit the ground with a metallic thud as he sinks towards the earth. Krishna stands over him with an evil grin.
“You fool. This is why we vampires will win. You let our words blind you. You let your own doubts slow you. Tonight I shall dine on the blood of children. Because of you.”
Kal watches the vampire stepped out of sight. Above him, two moons slowly pass out of sight.
As the world grows dark, Kal hears children screaming in the night.