Vampire Hunter D
Written by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Tale of the Dead Town
Journey by Night
On the Frontier, nothing was considered more dangerous than a journey by night.
Claiming the night was their world, the Nobility had once littered the globe with monsters and creatures of legend, as if to adorn the pitch-black with a touch of deadly beauty. Those same repugnant creatures ran rampant in the land of darkness to this very day. That was how the vampires bared their fangs at the human idea that held the light of day as the time for action and the dark of night for rest. The darkness of night was the greatest of truths, the vampires claimed, and the ruler of the world. Farewell, white light of summer.
That was why the night was filled with menace. The moans of dream demons lingered in the wind, and the darkness whispered the threats of dimension-ripping beasts. Just beyond the edge of the woods glowed eyes the color of jasper. So many eyes. Even well-armed troops sent into devastated sections of the Capital felt so relieved after they’d slipped through the blocks of dilapidated apartment complexes that they’d flop down right there on the road.
Out on the Frontier it was even worse. On the main roads, crude way stations had been built at intervals between one lodging place and the next. But, when the sun went down on one of the support roads linking the godforsaken villages, travelers were forced to defend themselves with nothing more than their own two hands and whatever weapons they could carry. There were only two beings that chose to travel by night. The Nobility. And dhampirs. Particularly if the dhampir was a Vampire Hunter.
Scattering a shower of moonlight far and wide, the shadowy form of a horse and rider climbed a desolate hill. The mount was just an average cyborg horse, but the features of the rider were as clean and clear as a jewel, like the strange beauty of the darkness and
the moon crystallized. Every time the all-too-insistent wind touched him, it trembled with uncertainty, whirled, and headed off bearing a whole new air. Carrying a disquieting aura. His wide-brimmed traveler’s hat, the ink-black cape and scarf darker than darkness, and the scabbard of the elegant longsword that adorned his back were all faded and worn enough to stir imaginings of the arduous times this traveler had seen.
The young traveler had his eyes closed, perhaps to avoid the wind-borne dust. His profile was so graceful it seemed the Master Craftsman in heaven above had made it His most exquisite work. The rider appeared to be thoroughly exhausted and immersed in a lonely sleep. Sleep – for him it was a mere break in the battle, but a far cry from peace of mind.
Something else mixed with the groaning of the wind. The traveler’s eyes opened. A lurid light coursed into them, then quickly faded. His horse never broke its pace. A little over ten seconds was all they needed to reach the summit of the hill. Now the other sounds were clear. The crack of a gun and howls of wild beasts.
The traveler looked down at the plain below, spying a midsized motor home that was under attack. Several lesser dragons were prowling around it – more “children of the night” sown by the Nobility. Ordinarily, their kind dwelt in swamplands farther to the south, but occasionally problems with the weather controllers would send packs of dragons north. The migration of dangerous species was a serious problem on the Frontier.
The motor home was already half-wrecked.