• The shadows of the city were deep and dark on that moonlit night. All the people were safely in bed, asleep. None were willing to come out into the cold night. Silently, as quick as a shadow, as fast as a cat, the Vampire stalked through the many avenues of the street. Only fools and drunkards would be out at this time, and that was precisely what he wanted. Slowly, he turned the corner, and saw his prey. A lowly drunkard staggered across the moonlit streets, barely seven feet away from the Vamp. Slowly, with the smell of beer in his nose, the Vampire stalked closer behind the man, sneaking from shadow to shadow, following the sound of the man’s blood pumping endlessly through his veins, blood that would soon strengthen the Vampire, rejuvenate him for another night, to survive another day, safe in his coffin, in the cellar of the city’s bank, alone and safe from the hated sun. Slowly, he crept closer toward his prey

    What the Vampire wasn’t aware of, was that he wasn’t the only predator to stalk the streets that lonely night. High, atop the roof of the tallest spire in the city, the Hunter crouched, assessing his prey. He was garbed completely in black leather, his crossbow, the ancient weapon of his guild, at his side, he watched with supernatural vision, the night’s game. It was a powerful specimen, approximately a mere 200 years of age, hardly an adolescent in vampire terms. A powerful specimen though, unusually powerful for its young age. The Hunter moved silently, leaping from the spire, landing with unnatural silence, on the edge of the roof, directly above the Vamp. It seemed to be stalking a drunkard, quietly moving. This one seemed to be wiser for its age, more cunning, but the Hunter had no time to think about that now. He had hunted in this city for years, killing far greater prey than this. Slowly, he moved into position.

    The Vampire moved silently into position. The drunkard would never know what had hit him. Creeping, his muscles tensed, ready to pounce. Suddenly, some intuition told him that all was not right. He sensed a strange presence behind him. Whirling, he whipped his claws out, ready to do battle with whatever idiot had tried to sneak up on him. He saw… nothing. Even with his night-vision, not a single thing was out of place. Slowly, he turned back to his prey. Suddenly, there was a shout behind him, and he whirled again, this time seeing his aggressor.

    The Hunter shouted to his prey. If he merely wanted to kill the Vampire, he would’ve simply put one of his consecrated crossbow bolts through the beast’s heart from one of the rooftops. The demon would never know what hit him, and would be a pile of dust in a few seconds. But there was no honour in that, no challenge. To truly be a Hunter, one had to be brave, and had to face prey on its own terms. That is why the Hunter shouted. The beast whirled with the supernatural speed the Hunter had come to respect. The prey leapt toward him with rending claws just as the Hunter brought his crossbow to bear. He took a second to aim, and fired.

    A projectile shot from the human’s crossbow, barely missing the Vampire as he roared toward his quarry. He let out another bloodcurdling howl, and pounced again, this time landing on top of the human, and knocking his bow from his hands. The human managed to get the right footing and kicked the Vampire of him. The Vamp landed on his feet and regarded its opponent for a few moments. Suddenly, the Vamp doubted himself. Nameless fear ran through his undead veins for the first time in a hundred years. This man knew what he was doing, and had hunted his kind for many years, and one. Looking closely, he saw many skulls, all with the same fangs as those in his mouth, hanging from the human’s belt. Looking at his face, the human had no trace of fear in it. Only confidence and irritation rang from those defiant features. The Vamp was just about to run, to save itself from this awesome foe, when the human whipped a long, wooden stake out of his jacket. The Vampire sensed the consecrated stake, charged with an aura of pure light, and hissed. Then, the human did something completely unexpected. He raised the stake, shouted a war cry, and charged the Vamp.

    It was completely insane. No human had ever gone up against a Vamp in hand to hand combat and survived, not even a Hunter. Still, he gritted his teeth, and kept going. He would be in the annals of the Hunters for many years to come for this single night, and that was the thought he held on to, that kept him going as he charged the prey. He had one chance to strike its fowl heart before it mauled him, or worse, bit him, turning him into prey for his clan to hunt, and kill, as they had done for many generations. The Vamp reacted just as he expected, and raised its arms, showing of its chest and claws. This was the moment he’d been waiting for, and he leapt forward, stake thrust out, and caught his quarry, right in the chest, just as it was emitting its battle cry.

    The Vampire felt a stabbing pain in his chest, just as he was about to lower his hands and slaughter the lowly fool. In that instant, all the preparations were gone. The Vampire’s spirit, still screaming in anger was ripped out, and absorbed into the stake, even as holy energies leaked from it and burned his body to ashes. The final though he had was how, he would one day escape the stake and have revenge, and then there was only silence.

    The Vampire screamed as holy energy from the stake ate into every molecule of its being, wearing away everything to dust. Only its fried skeleton remained, and the Hunter reached down, and plucked of the dusty skull from its joint. They would remember him for this day, but for now, he had more work to do, for the night was still young. He attached the dead prey’s skull to his belt, and leapt to the nearest rooftop, leaving behind a pile of dust, a skeleton, and a drunkard, mumbling and staggering in the streets ahead, who never knew how lucky he had been.