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Moonlight shone in rays through the forest, bathing the undergrowth in a pale grey. Silvervayne forest had got its name from this hour of night. Its ancient and twisted trees seemed to shine and glitter with a pure sliver in the light of the moon. On this night, the beauty of the forest was disturbed. Detective Cassius surveyed the macabre scene before him. He rubbed the tiredness from his eyes , then took a long sip from a steaming cup of coffee. He was used to the late nights on duty, but none had hit him as hard as this one. A large floodlight aided him, along with several other officers. They searched the surrounding area by flash light and bagged anything of suspicion with gloved hands. Cassius stood, observing. Absorbing the scene that surrounded him, thumbing his goatee in thought.

It was a massacre. Red gore seeped into the soil and painted the surrounding vegetation. The detective could make out four bodies from the puzzle of pieces strewn across the forest.

“What monster could have done this, sir?” An inexperienced voice came from behind Cassius, it was his youngest Cadet, Dereck. His voice was shaking, Cassius wasn’t sure if it was the ice cold of the night or fear from the sight around them. Cassius turned to him and smiled in console.

“There are no monsters, son, only man. We are the only monsters.” His voice was deep and commanding, but he knew that what he had just told him was a lie. He knew of the world beyond that of which Dereck could comprehend. If he knew of the creatures that really roamed in the darkness, of the creature that could have committed this atrocity before him, he would run. And Cassius, had just called one of them to help him.

“But… how?” Dereck asked his superior, but before he could get an answer, they were both disturbed by a figure emerging from the tree line ahead. Gabriel knew that his aid had arrived. An old acquaintance, Azerius.

Cassius turned back to Dereck. “The specialist has arrived. You should go and check out that tree line, over there.” He winked at him then made his way over to the hunter.

Azerius pondered at the scene before him, wishing that he had got there before the authorities had. Their scent, their bright lights, their noise, it all distracted his finely honed senses. He made sure to avoid the artificial light that they had brought and stay in the shadows, as his clothes were still seeped in vampire gore from his last hunt.

“Hunter, I appreciate your haste.” Cassius greeted him, but even in the shadows, he could see his blood drenched clothes. “You were busy, I see.”

“I just came from a party with some very disobedient vampires.” Azerius said.

“I see…” Cassius wasn’t sure how to react, and he wasn’t sure that he wanted to know the details. He was new to the hunter’s world, and figured the less that he knew, the easier it would be to keep hold of his own sanity.

“So, what do we have here?” Azerius nodded toward the scene, now being cordoned off by the detective’s team.

“Four dead. Hikers, I gather from the backpacks. Looks like they were just walking through before they were ambushed. Was this vampires?”

“No. The vampires that I just killed would have hunted in packs, and they have no need to cut their prey into little pieces. Too much…” Azerius searched for the word. “…wastage.”

“Then what?”

“This was not done by tooth or claw. They were not torn apart. This was done by blade… and a lot of strength.” Azerius felt a chill run down his spine as came to the realisation. “This could have been done by me.”

“By you?” Cassius replied nervously, then slowly reached for his gun. Azerius sensed the detective’s distress and let out a chuckle.

“No. Not me.. me. But someone like me.” Azerius waited for the detective to calm. “Besides, you know that sliver bullets don’t work on me, right?”

Cassius came to his senses and removed his hand from his gun. From his previous meeting’s with the hunter, he could see that his intentions were always toward protecting the human race from those that preyed on them. He was one that had gifted him the silver that now graced the chamber of his pistol.

“I’m aware. Sorry, this night has me on edge. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Are you saying that this was… your species?” Cassius asked, choosing his words carefully.

“That’s hard to say, as I don’t know what I am and I’ve never seen another me.” Azerius looked to the ground, deep in thought. “But whatever did this, it did it for a reason. These people clearly weren’t a threat, they were no challenge and it didn’t feed on them. It was sending a message.”

“A message to who?”

“Now that… I do not know.”

To be continued…

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Part 4 of The Hunter is coming Friday! Thank you for reading. 🙂

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