I saw my first vampire when I was thirteen.
I dont remember why I was in that alley. Maybe I was taking a shortcut home. Maybe I had heard a noise and was curious. Why I was there wasnt important.
I remember it was very dark. The sun had sunk below the horizon a few minutes earlier, leaving only the orange half-light of sunset. The tall wood and stone buildings on either side of the alley cast heavy shadows, pitching everything into near blackness. But my eyes were keen enough to see.
The victim was a woman. She wasnt very pretty, dressed in a plain grey skirt. I didnt recognize her. I guessed that she was old enough to be someones mother. Maybe grandmother, although I didnt see any wrinkles on her face.
Her face was the worst part. It was pale. Pale enough to stand out like a beacon in the darkness. Her expression was blank, like an amateur artist had drawn it on but didnt know how to add emotion. She was
There was surprisingly little blood. Whatever the vampire hadnt swallowed had dribbled down to stain her shirt, appearing more black than red in the darkness. The vampire himself was unremarkable. Dark black clothing, a dark hood drawn over his face. I could see nothing of him, only his outline. And his fangs.
The fangs were the only bit of light around him, shining pearly-white in the dark. I remember them very clearly. If you ask me to, I can draw their exact shape. Their outline is burned into my mind for all time.
The vampire released his victim and walked away. I dont know if he saw me, or if he cared. The woman slumped to the ground, her face still frozen in that terrible non-expression. I walked over to her, struck by a terrible thought.
She was old enough to have children, old enough to be a mother. Did she have a family waiting for her at home, wondering why she was late from whatever errand had called her out? Or did she live alone before coming to this lonely end?
I looked up to see if the vampire was still there. He wasnt. He had just drained her, killed her, and left. Tossed her aside in an alley like some piece of garbage.
My memory of that day ends there. I know from my friends and parents that I told the authorities and showed them the body, then stayed and answered their questions as best I could.
What they didnt know is that I did more than just answer questions. I asked them.
My limited description wasnt enough to put out a warrant, since I hadnt seen the vampires face clearly. But I soon found out that everyone knew who the killer was. I even found out where he lived an upscale house in an upscale neighborhood, just a few blocks away. These city blocks and the area around him were his hunting grounds.
It took a long time to explain such things to me as a thirteen year old, but I came to learn that he was protected. Untouchable. I learned about things like connections and political influence. As long as he made the right donations and shook the right hands, nobody could do anything to him. It was all politics.
The last thing I learned was his name. He was called Vincent.
I never talked about him. For five years I studied and trained. My parents were surprised by my decision to become a Rain Knight, one of the citys elite enforcers. I forget what I told them about why I wanted to be one. Something about wanting to help and protect people, which is at least half true. That wasnt why I did it, though.
I wanted to make sure that nobody else was left in an alley like garbage.
The Rain Knights were delighted to have me. I was the best. I could quote every law from memory, best anyone in my class with a rapier, and outrun anyone I cared to chase. If anything I was too good. My commander warned me that several senior knights were worried I would take their position and were maneuvering against me. I would have to become good at politics and watch my step around the citys elite if I wanted to advance in rank.
I did not join the Knights to advance in rank.
I waited in the alley for nearly six hours. I stood in shadow, but made no effort to hide myself. I was simply nondescript. I stood, perfectly still, grey cloak drawn about me. My raindrop brooch glinted softly in the fading light before I covered it with one grey-gloved hand.
I had learned that many vampires used mental tricks to lure victims to their preferred killing ground. A subtle touch of their mind was sufficient to make someone remember a vital errand late in the day, another touch enough to make them take an unusual route home. Vincent thought he was clever by choosing different areas to take his victims, but he was lazy. He always followed a pattern. Every three weeks he came back to this exact spot, the place where I had seen him so many years ago.
His victim was a young man this time. Fifteen, not much older than I had been. Vincent walked up behind him, silent as the night itself. I forced myself to wait. The victim was healthy, he could survive being drained for a few seconds at least. I needed to catch Vincent in the act.
Vincent did not disappoint. The boy stiffened and tried to run as Vincents hands closed on his shoulders, then abruptly went slack as if he had forgotten how to use his limbs. Vincent lazily opened his jaws, sinking them into the base of his meals neck.
I stepped out of the shadow, making no effort to disguise my noise. Vincents keen senses picked me up immediately as I walked over to him. He ceased feeding, and turned towards me. That hooded cloak of his still hid most of his face, but I could see dark eyes looking at me warily above pearly fangs.
His eyes turned from wary to relieved as he recognized my uniform. A Rain Knight, and a young one. One with a career to think about. No one to pose an actual threat. Vincent smiled and opened his mouth to say something.
He never finished. My rapier slid between his ribs, skewering his heart with casual efficiency. There was a great deal of blood, much more than I had expected. He toppled backwards, his mouth still locked in a smile while his eyes betrayed horror and surprise. I left him where he fell and tended to the boys wounded neck.
I reported his death and the circumstances surrounding it, as was my duty as a Rain Knight. The boy supported my story once he had fully recovered. His name was Adrian, I found out later. He had two brothers, a sister, and two loving parents. They still write to me from time to time.
Everything was handled neatly and professionally. My captain congratulated me on preventing a murder. Vincents family attempted to press charges against me but were unable to do so even power and influence have their limits when confronted with evidence, a witness, and a knight who doesnt play by the normal rules. We all pretended not to notice the looks I got in the hallways from some of the more politically-connected knights.
I was denied a promotion yesterday. I forget what the official reason was. Something about recklessness and disrespect towards my superiors. Probably the same reason as the last eight times. Its not important.
Vincent was my first. Since then, I have destroyed eight other vampires, six of whom were well known public figures. My family had to leave the city for fear of retaliation. My parents sent me a letter before they left, to say that theyre proud of me. They told me I should keep up the good work without mentioning what they meant by good work. Their words meant more to me than a thousand promotions.
Ill be going out with a partner tonight, for the first time since I became a knight two years ago. My superiors have carefully avoided assigning me anyone to work with, for fear that I will somehow contaminate them with my disregard for proper authority. They had little choice in this case the knight in question requested me specifically.
His name is Adrian, and he knows of a few hunting grounds on the other side of town.