Chapter 1: Arrival
“There’s been four disappearances in the last month.” Közi sighed as he leant back against his seat. Four people missing, all from the same town, it was eerie, how could people suddenly disappear? The again, the town of Upyri had always been suspect. People talked about the towns origins, how it was the first recorded settlement of humans. Reports of Ghosts and other supernatural creatures could all be traced, in some way back to the town. The superstitious kept well away.
Közi was an academic, a scholar of fine arts, medicine and law. His father, the duke, had spent such money on his son in the hopes that his mind would fill with knowledge and that people would talk of his family in the highest standards. Közi, therefore had a natural thirst for knowledge, however, his logical mind told him there was nothing to fear in Upyri but some silly old fools who had taken their childish bedtime stories a little too far. He was the perfect candidate to discover the secret behind these disappearances.
Of course, all manner of supernatural creatures had been blamed, the ghosts of lost souls, crying out for a host so that they might find a way back into the land of the living, vampires following their natural thirst for human blood and the undead, hungry for flesh. To Közi this was nonsense.
“There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of, Upyri is just an old town, the oldest town there is, there is bound to be unrest regarding a place so old,” he said, glancing to his right at his fellow scholar, Yura. Yura glanced back nervously but remained silent.
“I swear to you Yura.” Közi said, noticing the unease in his companion, “we will have nothing to fear in Upyri.”
The carriage arrived in Upyri late that night, it pulled up alongside a small inn at the heart of the town. The air was thick with a fog that loomed over the village, silent, unmoving, still. As the two passengers collected their luggage and entered the small building, the driver of the carriage cracked his whip and was gone before Közi could turn round. The two friends entered the inn. The dark room they entered was lit by only a single candle that lay on a small wooden desk, three old, tattered chairs sat by the window in the corner of the room and a distinct smell of garlic caused Közi’s stomach to turn.
“What kind of person leaves garlic out on the desk of an inn?” Yura asked, pointing towards the source of the smell.
“Indeed.” Közi muttered, taking out a handkerchief and placing it over his nose. His hand moved in the dim candlelight over the wooden desk, in an attempt to find some sort of bell. When he found it, he rang it three times.
A hooded figure appeared from the shadows behind the desk.
“Newcomers? What do you want at a time like this?” It was a man’s voice, soft and smooth.
“We require two rooms,” Közi stated, “for how long I cannot say, I’m here to conduct a study along with my friend Yura here, I am Közi. He held out his hand to the man but got no reaction.
“We have three rooms spare, you are lucky,” said the man. He then turned back towards the shadows.
“Hizaki, Hizaki, get in here!” He shouted. A girl with long, light brown hair appeared in the room, her face was dirty and her tattered dress looked as though it hadn’t been washed in years. She bowed and walked forward, picking up the two men’s luggage and disappearing through a door.
“Hizaki will take you to your rooms, here are the keys, if you need anything Hizaki will take care of it, if she can’t help, my name is Teru. Közi and Yura nodded and headed for the door through which Hizaki had gone.
“One more thing.” Teru added. “You may want to be careful, in this town, creatures roam the night, in the day, they sleep, but other creatures awaken, you are never safe, keep that in mind,” and with that Teru disappeared back into the shadows.
That night, Közi began a diary documenting his trip, it was this he would use throughout his study in the town of Upyri a documentation of his work, therefore, he could keep his innermost thoughts secret and only publish what he wished his fellow scholars to see. He wouldn’t show them the part where he admitted, despite his own logical reasoning, a small part of him was afraid.
Közi awoke early the next morning. The sun had barely risen above the skyline but birds were chirping happily and all seemed peaceful, the fog had lifted and a thin beam of morning sunlight was now attempting to break through the white clouds above. Közi shook himself awake, dressed and washed and left his still sleeping friend in bed whilst he embarked on an early morning walk. Most of the townspeople were still sleeping, however, servants were already up and performing their morning duties, as were bakers, butchers and other merchants, preparing for another day. Közi walked past a small shop. Its windows were blackened with dust and its door was almost hanging from its hinges. A dirty looking man with the longest red hair Közi had ever seen was stood outside, busily sweeping the outside step. Közi didn’t think this would have been a top priority, given the state of the rest of the shop. As he got closer, he noticed the shop was a butchers.
“Slow business?” Közi asked, walking towards the other man. Something inside him made him pity the poor man. On closer inspection he looked as dirty as his own shop. The other man seemed startled but managed a faint smile.
“Yes but, it will pick up.”
“You sure about that?”
“No…but it is always good to stay positive…isn’t it?” At this Közi smiled.
“Yes, I suppose it is, and your name is?”
“Kami! My lord requests your presence.” Another man with light brown hair, riding a dark brown horse appeared from the north of the town. He stopped beside the two men and lowered himself from the horse.
“Captain You!” Kami exclaimed bowing slightly. “The Lord has asked for me?”
“He requests you attend a dinner this evening in the court.” The captain replied, producing a note engraved with a royal-looking seal from his navy blue coat and handing it to Kami. “But what he desires with a mere butcher, and a failing one at that I do not know, then again, my lord always was keen on your sort.” He added with an almost nasty sounding tone of voice.
“I am honored captain but I have nothing to wear! Nothing that would suit a royal banquet that is!” Kami replied.
“My lord said you would say that, he therefore asked me to give you this.” You plucked a small brown bag from his pocket and handed it to Kami. The butcher opened it and peered inside.
Közi could have sworn Kami almost fainted; he stepped backwards, almost falling over his own broom, but used the wall of his shop to steady himself.
“There must be over fifty gold coins in here!” he exclaimed.
“I know, the Lord must be getting soft.” You replied, obviously unimpressed.
“If the Lord is kind enough to give this gesture than I shall surely attend the banquet!” Kami smiled.
“Yea…sure.” You replied rolling his eyes. “I am instructed to come for you just before sunset, my lord doesn’t like to dine with the sun in his eyes.” You added, mounting his horse. “Do not be late, you know what my lord does to those who have poor timekeeping.” At this, Kami gulped and nodded silently. “Good.” You replied, urging his horse forward. He took off at great speed and disappeared in the direction he had come from. Kami looked bemused.
“Fifty gold coins!” He exclaimed. “I’ve never had this much money in all my life!” Közi smiled but then thoughts of the previous conversation made it fade.
“You looked…scared when You was talking of your lord’s punishment.” He commented thoughtfully. Kami’s smile also faded.
“Oh…well…although the Lord has always shown me kindness there have been stories…”
“Of the things he does to those who disobey him…but it is only a legend, as I said, the Lord has always shown me kindness…I think it is just a scare tactic, no man could be that bloodthirsty and heartless.”
“I think you are too trusting and naive Kami.” Another voice interrupted them. A tall man with dark hair, dressed in rags appeared beside them. His clothes were cleaner than Kami’s but had the same signs of wear.
“But Hizumi, I think you often believe too much of what you are told.” Kami replied.
The man called Hizumi studied Közi carefully.
“Who is this stranger?” Hizumi asked, looking at Közi with an air of suspicion.
“My name is Közi and you would do well not to talk to me in that tone!” Közi replied.
“You could be one of the Lord’s spies for all I know and have to report back to him and have us locked in the Lord’s stinking dungeon of rotting flesh!” Hizumi remarked.
“Hizumi! Közi is new in our town, don’t make him uneasy! People are uneasy enough when they come into this town.” Kami shouted.
“What is the Lord’s name?” Hizumi asked, turning back to Közi.
“I…don’t know.” Közi replied honestly. At this, Hizumi laughed.
“You must be new to not know the answer, anyone who doesn’t know the Lord’s name obviously isn’t scared enough to learn it, and that means they’re unaware of what the lord is capable of.” Kami rolled his eyes.
“I must get back to work.” He added opening his door and turning to leave.
“Közi, if you need anything, please let me know, I now consider you a friend.” He smiled once more and disappeared inside the small dirty shop.
“Yea, because no one who lives here will be his friend.” Hizumi laughed.
“That’s horrible! He seems like a genuinely nice man.”
“And he is, I’m friends with him too! But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun sometimes.” Közi looked disapprovingly.
“Listen Közi, if Kami considers you a friend than so do I, I live over there.” Hizumi pointed to a small house, tucked in between two large trees. “So knock on my door is ever you’re in trouble, I’ll be there.” And with that, Hizumi headed off into a nearby bakers shop.
“Suppose I should get some breakfast.” Közi decided, turning back and heading for the inn.
Chapter 2: Rude awakening
The extravagant hall was filled with laughter and music. Impeccably dressed people danced and chatted among themselves, some sat quietly consuming wine, leaving the room a whirl of marble, gold and silk. Sat in a throne made of the finest gold and silk sat a man, his head resting in his hand, boredom spread over his face like a sheet. He shifted slightly in his seat and began to twirl a strand of long dark hair around his index finger.
“Why are these occasions always so formal and boring?” He wondered aloud. His servant, Charchamaru shrugged his shoulders.
“Surely my lord you could change them? With the power you now hold I’m sure you can change all kinds of rules.” It was a fairly grovelly answer and this somewhat annoyed the young Lord, then again, when you were feared people often spoke that way to you, he was getting fairly used to it.
“Yes but what you forget is that these occasions are standard practice for our times. Maybe one day means of entertainment will mean I get to do whatever I please,” he sighed. The large doors at the opposite end of the room opened and Captain You entered the room, beside him, a young redheaded butcher, dressed smartly in a brand new coat made of fine cotton which was a dark purple. The lord got to his feet at once, clearing a path through the crowd as he came to meet his guest.
At once, the young butcher knelt on one knee.
“My lord, it us an honor to be in your presence once again.” The lord chuckled slightly and helped the redhead to his feet.
“I see you accepted my invitation, I am pleased.” Kami blushed, even in his new suit he felt that the lord out dressed him by far, his jet black coat adorned with silver decoration of the finest stitching looked perfect when matched with the Lords fine features and perfectly cut hair.
“Come, Kami, we have much to discuss, Chacha, now my guests are here, please show everyone to their seats.”
“But my lord, Daishi still has not arrived yet.” Chachamaru exclaimed.
“Then he’s late.” The lord stepped away from Kami and whispered in Chachamaru’s direction. “When Daishi arrives, you know what to do.” Chachamaru nodded and bowed.
“Yes my lord.” He then left the room. As he rejoined Kami and began to lead him towards the dining room another servant hurried into the hall.
“Lord Gackt, Lord Gackt, there’s a situation.” The lord, turned round, starting to appear annoyed.
“What is it Ju-ken?” He hissed.
“It’s urgent.” Ju-ken replied nervously. “You are needed in the dungeon.” Gackt looked annoyed but let out a prolonged sigh.
“Very well, You, please take Kami to the dining hall, place him in the seat next to mine, I will be back shortly.” And with that he left the room, Ju-ken in tow.
“I…I didn’t, I mean, I…” The young man stammered, but it was no use, his brain couldn’t come up with a plausible explanation. He screamed as the man cracked his whip against his bare flesh.
“P, please…have mercy on me!”
“What’s going on?” Gackt entered the dungeon, he didn’t look happy. The young man lying in pain on the ground stared in horror at man stood above him.
“This poor excuse for a man was caught stealing from Mana. Mana naturally wants him to be punished and so sent him here. At this Gackt rolled his eyes.
“I’ll decide what to do with him later, for now lock him in the cells.”
The young boy’s eyes widened in terror.
“No! Not the cells, anything but that please! If you’re going to kill me just do it, kill me now!”
“Later.” Gackt remarked.
“No please, just do it!”
Gackt stopped and smiled, it was times like this he got a little thrill inside of him. He turned back to the boy.
“You heard him boys, he wants to be killed.” He laughed. A laugh so cold, so cruel it made even the strongest of men shake. “Well, if that’s what he desires…do it.” Gackt walked away, the sound of the boys screams echoing behind him. From one of the cells as he walked past, he heard a sharp hiss.
“You’re the devil Camui!”
Gackt stopped and kicked the door of the cell.
“You keep saying that Masa and you’ll stay there even longer, do you hear me?”
“There’s nothing more you can do to me.” The prisoner hissed.
“We’ll see.” Gackt replied, starting to walk again. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a deal to make.”
The day had been long and uneventful. Közi and Yura had spent the day meeting locals and wondering the small town. They had spoken to Kami and Hizumi quite a lot throughout the day and had stayed outside the butchers to see Kami off in the carriage to the lord’s castle. Then Hizumi had invited them to dinner where they had sat and chatted for a long time until the two decided they should get back to the inn.
“The people here are not as I expected them.” Yura smiled as the two friends stood outside their rooms. “To be honest I expected them all to be odd, living in a place deemed so unnerving.”
“I told you there was nothing to worry about.” Közi laughed. “these people are just like you and me, except most of them seem worse off.”
“I’d like to see Lord Gackt’s castle, I bet he’s living in luxury!” Yura replied, seemingly unimpressed.
“Yes, but isn’t that the way with all royalty?” Közi asked laughing. Yura smiled.
“Well, goodnight.” He said walking into his room.
“Goodnight.” Közi replied.
Közi awoke suddenly. Outside it was still dark, he could hear soft rain falling on the ground outside, and another noise, voices. Curiously he sat up and went to the window. Sure enough there were two figures, one he recognized as Hizaki, the other, he didn’t know, a tall blonde man, smartly dressed. Közi strained to hear what they were saying.
“Kamijo, if Mana ever found out…”
“Well she wont…Hizaki I am miserable with that woman, do you understand? If she was ignorant enough to have an affair with a human then why cant I? To think, I believed he was my son…but a mere half vampire? The very thought makes me sick!”
“But Kamijo…if I were to become pregnant and…”
“I will not make that mistake Hizaki, not when I will make you one of our own.” The blond bent down, placing his lips upon Hizaki’s neck. Közi gasped, throwing on his coat and running into Yura’s room.
“Wake up, Hizaki needs our help, quickly!” He left Yura to fully wake up whilst he ran back to his window to check the situation.
Another figure had now appeared on the scene, this new woman was holding Hizaki by the neck as she gasped for air.
“Kamijo, you honestly think you could have gotten away with this. A new queen? I don’t think so!” Her grip seemed to tighten around Hizaki’s neck as the smaller woman winced in pain.
“Let her go Mana.” Kamijo warned.
“Give me one good reason why I should?” She turned to Hizaki. “He never loved you my dear, just wanted your body.” Before anyone could do anything else, Mana’s teeth were buried deep in Hizaki’s neck, the latter struggling against the other’s grip. In a moment all feel silent and Mana let Hizaki’s lifeless body fall to the ground.
Közi and Yura practically flew out of the door and onto the cold, wet streets. Hizaki’s body lay on the floor, blood dripping from her neck. Mana stood, head held high, laughing. When she heard the commotion from within the old Inn, she stopped and turned towards them.
“More humans, I’m being spoiled today.” Turning her back was not a good idea. At once, Kamijo leapt upon the female vampire and forced his own fangs into her neck. Mana stopped, mouthing words that had no sound as Kamijo’s fangs savagely ripped her throat.
“Take my love away from me? I’ll take your life!! You were the one I never loved,” he screamed, taking Mana’s still breathing head in his hands and twisting the neck so that it broke. Mana’s body fell down besides Hizaki’s. Közi and Yura stood, frozen in place.
“Don’t you dare follow me.” Kamijo snarled, picking up Hiazki’s body. Before Közi could reply, Kamijo was gone, no sign of him remained apart from Mana’s lifeless body.
Közi woke the next morning, having left Mana’s body in its place. Both he and Yura had decided that it was better they were never around. Strangers appearing in the town then being found near a dead body sent the wrong message. There was a commotion from outside, he presumed the cause of it was Mana’s body. He got out of bed and went to his window. Seated upon a horse as black as night was a young man dressed in a fine black coat. Long dark hair framing porcelain skin, bright blue eyes set on a body, now covered with a thick cloak.
“How was Mana killed?” The man asked.
“Neck torn with fangs and twisted until broken, my lord.” Another man replied.
“Most likely.” The lord cursed to himself.
“I want him found. I want him hunted down and brought to me alive understood? He has to pay for his crimes."
“Yes my lord.”
“Good, bring the body back to my castle. “
With that Gackt kicked his heels and rode off in the direction of his home. Közi stepped away from the window and sat down on his bed. So this was the man who struck fear into the hearts of men. Whoever he was, he seemed to have a connection with Mana. Közi decided that after breakfast he would do some research into Mana and Kamijo.
Közi decided to talk to Hizumi, he knew Hizumi would be truthful and he seemed to know a lot about the town, they were seated in Hizumi’s kitchen around a small wooden table, a pot of tea quietly brewing on the stove. He had listened to Közi’s story intently.
“And Gackt’s been informed?”
“Yes.” Közi answered.
“Hmm,” Hizumi paced the room.
“What does Gackt have to do with all this?” Közi asked.
“Well…there have been…rumors.”
“What kind of rumors?”
“Well…The existence of Kamijo and his bride Mana was always debatable. Some townspeople believed they were real, others believed it was just the mad superstition and mass hysteria that seized the town. However, among those who believed in the vampires, wild rumors spread about an affair between Mana and a human named Klaha. Several months later Mana got pregnant and Kamijo, blissfully unaware of Mana’s affair was overjoyed at the prospect of a child. Nine months later when the child came, Kamijo noticed something wasn’t right about their son. Though the child had some vampyric traits, there were others missing, for example, the sunlight had no effect on the child, he was freely able to walk under the sun. Also, the child didn’t crave blood, like any normal human child he was happy with milk. It was said Mana snuck out during the night to find milk for her baby,” Hizumi stopped talking and stood up, collecting the pot of tea from the stove and setting it down upon the table. Közi had unconsciously leaned forward in his seat in anticipation and only now noticed. He sat back and waited for Hizumi to continue his story as the other man poured them some tea.
“Anyway naturally, Kamijo found out about the affair and killed Klaha. Apparently he cast out Mana’s son and vowed never to speak with him again. Called him some names too I can tell you.
"Seventeen years later, after the rumors had died down, a young lord appeared as if from nowhere, claiming to be the Lord of this town. They say his beauty rivals that of an ethereal creature and that of a vampire, yet he walks among us in sunlight yet is said to have an unnatural cruel streak running through his body.”
“Hizumi, you honestly don’t think?”
“Who else fits the description so easily? Did the lord seem sad about Mana’s death?”
“No.” Közi replied.
“Why? Why would someone be so angry at the death of a vampire? Any normal human would rejoice. Why indeed would he order a hunt for the killer unless…unless Kamijo had now killed both of his parents?”
“That makes sense,” Yura said, he had remained quiet whilst listening to the story and chose now to offer his own input. “If Gackt is indeed connected with the vampires it would explain why everyone is scared of him.” Hizumi nodded.
“Hmmm…I’ve always wanted to find out if the rumors were true.”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out.” Közi added smiling slyly. “I propose we conduct a search of Gackt’s castle. We’ll get to the bottom of the story and figure out what Gackt’s upto.”
"And how do you propose we do such a thing?" Közi scoffed. Hizumi smiled a smile akin to that of an anthropomorphic shark.
"I have friends in low places," he replied cryptically.
I'm late posting this but I'm tired and hey.. its only just past midnight.. it's still Monday somewhere right?