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The Hunter and the Hunted

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Nico had been warned that vampires had an unnatural charm.

It was one of many things she’d been told during her training, but it was the one she’d always worried about the least. After all, what would it matter to her? She’d never been interested in anyone . How was some dusty, evil old man going to woo her when she hadn’t even been interested in all the village’s best looking guys, the ones all the other girls had drooled over.

And her assumption seemed to be holding true for her first few hunts. A couple of the vampires she’d fought had tried to charm her, and they’d gotten a stake in the heart for their trouble. She’d had a good streak recently. She was something of a rising star in the organization now, and she took pride in the jealous glares of the others as she accepted her praise from the grandmaster.

So it was with that confidence that Nico strode into Tojo Castle, crossbow slung over her back and her belt adorned with garlic, holy water, and crosses. Immediately, she could tell that the master of the castle was going to be the kind of vampire she hated. Throughout the halls, Nico didn’t see a single man. There was maids around every corner, but even the butlers were all female. Even more irritatingly, none of them attempted to stop her. Which meant the vampire was going to do that stupid, smug old man thing where they invited the hunter in as a gesture of just how superior they were, blah blah blah.

By the time Nico kicked open the doors to the main hall, she was already in a bad mood, and prepared to snuff out the lord of the castle without even listening to his stupid vampire speech. They always had speeches, for some reason. Usually about how they were entitled to prey on mortals because they were above humans on the food chain or whatever self-serving delusions they’d come up with to convince themselves they weren’t monsters.

But there was no unnaturally thin, tall man in a flowing cape in the hall when she entered. There was just another woman, standing with her back to the door, wearing a tight fitting dress dyed in deep crimson, and a black mantle around her shoulders. Clearly some kind of mistress. Nico’s eyes darted around the room, trying to find the vampire’s hiding place.

I knew you’d come eventually,” she said. “I hoped you wouldn’t, maybe, but I knew it would never be that easy.”

A chill ran down Nico’s spine. Something was wrong. There was no sign of anyone else in the room… and this woman wasn’t acting like a thrall.

She turned, and Nico gasped, her knees going weak.

The woman was more beautiful than anyone Nico had ever seen. Too beautiful. Her voluptuous body filled out her dress perfectly, highlighting her broad curves and full figure, a striking contrast to the scrawny elegance Nico usually encountered. Her dress’s neckline was low and deep, showing off what felt like miles of tantalizing, milky white cleavage that Nico had to struggle not to stare at. Her eyes glittered with an alluring invitation, a siren song whispering in Nico’s ear to give in and simply stare into their depths. And at the corner of her plump, ruby red lips, two fangs stuck out from either side.

She was the vampire.

Nico pulled the crossbow off her back at pointed it at her, her hands shaking.

I tried so hard not to attract attention, you know,” the vampire said, ignoring the crossbow and walking towards Nico. “I didn’t run around abducting the daughters of the common folk or anything. I only fed on my own employees. With their permission, I might add.”

Permission? As if. You enthralled them!”

The vampire giggled. “Enthralled them? Maybe, but not in the way you think.”

She reached up an arm and touched Nico’s chin gently- when had she gotten that close?!

I simply told them that I needed to bite their neck. And asked them if they’d let me. And none of them said no.” She smiled, and her tongue darted out to lick to her lips, as if remembering something delicious. “Or regretted it afterwards.”

Nico slapped her hand away, jumping backwards and leveling her crossbow again. “And I’m just supposed to believe that?”

It would be nice, but I wasn’t counting on it,” the vampire said.

Count on this,” Nico said, aiming the crossbow at the woman’s heart and pulling the trigger.

Her crossbow let out a sad little twanging noise, and the string flicked off  to the side, the stake unmoving.

Oh my,” the vampire said innocently. “It seems like you’ve been given somewhat… defective equipment.”

Nico narrowed her eyes and dropped the crossbow. Then, in one motion, before it hit the ground she grabbed the vial of holy water and threw it onto her.

Rather than bursting into flames, the vampire brushed her wet hair out of her face- making Nico flinch at the unnatural allure of it- and smiled as she took a breath.

My, my, is this lavender water? How fancy.”

Nico frowned.

It would seem to me,” the vampire said. “That whoever outfitted you wasn’t planning on you coming back.”

Nico’s eyes widened.

The equipment was managed  by the quartermaster, but there were all sorts of minor duties involving the equipment done by a rotation of hunters. Who had been who handed her the gear she was using? Had it been one of the faces that had glared at her as she accepted her accolades? Would they really go that far…?

Poor little slayer,” the vampire said. “Stabbed in the back. Betrayed by the people you thought were some kind of bastion of justice.”

She stepped closer, embracing Nico and pinning her arms to her sides as she tried to reach for the cross.

Doesn’t that seem so unfair?” Her breath was hot on Nico’s ear, and Nico could smell the intoxicating scent of her perfume, tinted with the scent of lavender. “Aren’t you so angry?”

Nico’s head was spinning.

You need to find a new home, my darling,” the vampire said. Her tongue dragged across Nico’s neck, and Nico stifled a moan. “Somewhere that will never turn on you.”

Nico should struggle. She still had the stake. The vampire was strong, but if she could just wriggle free a little, maybe she could stab her with it. But her arms remained limp by her side.

Somewhere where your talent will be appreciated. Where you can be the queen you deserve to be.” The vampire’s teeth pressed onto her skin, but didn’t break it. Waiting. Taunting.

My queen.”

Nico’s lips parted, her breath coming in fits and starts.

How…” she said, in a daze, overwhelmed by the softness and closeness of this beautiful woman. “Could I do that…?”

Just say yes,” the woman murmured in her ear. “Let me take you. Let me change you. Let me have you, and make you my eternal queen.”

Vampires had an unnatural charm. They could ensnare your mind, and make you a thrall, helpless to resist their will. But no one had warned Nico that vampires could have natural charms as well. And that potent cocktail had torn through her defenses.

But maybe they’d never told her that on purpose. They’d betrayed her, after all.

...Yes,”  Nico said.

And the fangs bit into her skin.

Melchior Bartsby was something of an up-and-coming vampire hunter. A little while ago, he’d been overshadowed by another promising rookie. But she’d tragically vanished on a hunt, and had been presumed dead. Such a shame, to see such bright rising star snuffed out. But all the better for Melchior. And he deserved it. After all, being a vampire hunter was all about cunning, right? And that girl hadn’t even had the foresight to check her equipment before setting out. It was her own fault.

And now, Melchior, after an impassioned speech, had been sent to avenge her. No one could claim that he didn’t care about her. Here he was, risking his life in her name.

Of course, Melchior was clever. He didn’t just wander in. He’d found a local, and bribed them to learn all about the vampire’s defenses. She’d told him all about his habits, and his irrational fear of rabbits, and Melchior had prepared everything he needed to exploit that.

And so when he entered Tojo Castle and found the door unlocked, he was unsurprised. After all, the maid had promised him it would be.

When he entered the main hall and found two women kneeling by the thrones, it was as he expected. They were the vampire’s harem, the maid had told him. All his for the taking, once he killed the vampire. They would surely be grateful to be freed, after all. Their hoods hid their features, but he’d been assured they were beautiful.

Don’t worry,” he said, walking over to them. “I’m here to save you.”

...Is this him?” the taller woman asked.

That was odd. Had they confused him with the vampire.

Yes,” the shorter one said.

Wait. Her voice sounded a little fa-


Melchior froze. Disbelieving, he lifted a hand to touch the spike jutting through his chest, staring at the blood on his hand.

The shorter woman stood, pulling back her hood.

Oh dear,” Nico Yazawa said, smirking as she rested her crossbow on her shoulder. “It looks like another valiant vampire hunter has fallen in the line of duty.”

As Melchior’s vision faded to black, he noticed how beautiful the light looked glinting off of her fangs.