Totentanz, Chapter III

It was nice to finally be back in regular clothes. My midnight blue duster still fit like a glove, and Talon provided me with a pair of black leather boots, jeans, and a sleeveless turtleneck. Once again, I stepped out of Matthew's car, this time at a crime scene. Two squad cars blocked off the road on either side of the scene, and red police tape blocked off about a 50-foot radius from where the carnage lay.

Well, destruction would probably be more accurate for a description. There was blood everywhere; on the trees, on the pieces of corpse strewn all over the place, on the road, on the grass... it almost looked more like somebody just dumped buckets of blood all over the place, after the crime had been committed.

"Hells," Matthew said as we walked up. I could tell from his constant head movements that he was observing every little detail. "This is..."

"This is recent," I replied. I could smell the drying blood, though much of it was still so fresh as to be wet.

"Excuse me, sirs," a man said, strolling up to us in an immaculate suit. He had a rather chiseled face, almost more like a model or a statue, and the gray pinstripes made him look rather large and intimidating. Add that to his close-cut brown hair and dark brown eyes, and he looked... well, like the kind of person you don't want to meet.

"I take it you were the agents sent?" the man continued, giving a suspicious stare to Matthew and myself. Matthew nodded in response.

"Matthew Whitemoon and Frost Midwinter."

"Good," the man responded, extended a bulky hand. "I'm Detective Mark Graves."

I couldn't help but laugh at the irony.

"Something funny?" he growled, hand still extended.

"Yes, actually," I said, eventually regaining my composure. "A homicide detective with a name like 'Mark Graves?' I would have strongly considered a different line of work, having been born with a name like that."

"Let's just get this over with," Graves snapped, turning on his heel and walking back toward the crime scene. I looked over to Matthew, who just shook his head at me before following the detective.

"I thought it was funny," I mumbled as I followed suit.

Aside from the ridiculous amount of blood, the scene was gruesome; I picked out two torsos, several flaps of flesh that I could only assume were limbs, various bones thrown every direction possible, and a disembodied woman's head, mouth hanging open as if screaming.

The most interesting part is that it looked like they were all cut with near-surgical precision.

"Looks like a werewolf attack," Graves said, pulling out a pair of latex gloves for each of us. "This type of carnage is usually lycans."

"Actually," I responded, "this couldn't be a lycan attack."

"And how are you so certain?" Graves snapped back at me.

"Look." I knelt and pointed at a boneless leg propped up against a tree. "I don't think anybody would wear leg-warmers in this weather. This is part of a sock."

"And?" Graves was obviously growing more and more irritated with me the more I spoke.

"And," I continued, growing rather tired of the Detective's know-it-all attitude, "last I checked, werewolves rip their victims apart. There is no evidence of stretched skin or muscle. These are cutting wounds, not tears from being pulled."

"Then how do you explain the teeth?"

"The what?"

Graves motioned for me to follow him. We stopped at a decapitated torso, which looked like it belonged to the body-less woman's head. Two incisions under the right collarbone looked more like someone had tried to bury a couple of razor blades under this woman's flesh. Kneeling before the torso, I twinged a little as I inserted a finger into one of the wounds.

"These are incisions, from some sort of thin blade like a razor, about three inches deep," I told Graves. "Werewolf fangs are about half an inch long and usually about the same in diameter in the gums. Not to mention, if this had been a werewolf bite, there would have been a chunk of flesh missing from this poor woman's torso."

I couldn't help but roll my eyes as Graves started visibly shaking.

"This is the work of a psychopath, presumably with a blade at least two feet long, like a sword."

"All right, Mister Perfection," Graves growled. He really did not approve of me being better at his job than he was. "We'll keep that in mind. Thank you for your... assistance."

"Any time, Detective," I said, giving him a mocking smirk as he turned and walked away.

 

Matthew and I made our way back to his car shortly thereafter, but instead of just getting in the driver's seat, he stopped at the trunk. I paused a few feet behind him as he turned to face me.

"You know we weren't alone there," he said.

"Yeah. Our killing was watching us. Still is, actually."

"We need to confront them."

He reached into the trunk and drew two English long-swords. Interesting choice, I thought, considering they were the weapons of crusaders.

"No, Matthew," I told him, still reaching for the sword he handed me. "You return to Talon and report what's going on. I will entertain our stalker."

He did not appear to approve of my decision, but didn't say anything as he handed off the sword and returned to the car.

As he drove off, I turned to face the presence watching me.

"There is no sense in hiding stranger," I called to the darkness. "I know you're here."

Birth of a Hunter, Prologue

((Author Note: Sorry everyone, but I'm a little behind on my writing for Totentanz, so here is the prologue to the prequel, Birth of a Hunter, which delves into Frost's history and explains why he is who he is. Without further adieu, here we go!))  

It begins a cool summer's night, in the year of our Lord 1792. Eastern Prussia, or what is now known as Germany. I was the elder of twins born to Gustave and Sophie von Drei. Viktor was my birth name, one I have long since abandoned. My brother, Adrian, was my sanity... and my undoing.

Life was typical of a wealthy family of the age; pampered by maids and man-servants, we never knew what it was to be without. Our father, Liegelord of the province, was often pre-occupied with diplomatic affairs, while my mother was dragged along for the sake of keeping with proper appearances befitting those of our station. So, Jesika, the eldest of our maids, became our nanny of sorts.

Things began to take a turn for the worse, however, in 1811, when both Jesika and my mother took ill and passed away. Our entire home was crushed, emotionally speaking, stricken with grief at losing two people so dear to us so quickly. It was then that Adrian began to look into the occult, dabbling in dark magic in search of the secrets of resurrection and immortality. It was all in secret, of course, but Adrian and I never kept secrets from each other.

And me, being the God-fearing youth that I was... I was mortified by his actions. This was my brother, my twin, the only blood family I had known, that I still had in almost 20 years of living. I could not turn him in to a priest to save him, nor would he listen to my pleas for him to stop, that God had his reasons for everything happening the way it did.

If I had turned him in... if I had just had the willpower to stop him...

I wish I had.

Totentanz, Chapter II

Cars... I hate cars. They force you into a small, compact space, which makes defending yourself all but impossible. But that's where I found myself; riding in Matthew's car as he took me... somewhere. I just hoped it had a change of clothes. Three-piece suits do not make good combat gear.

His thrall kept opening he mouth as if to ask a question, then she would pause, think better of it, and go back to staring blankly out of the window. The poor girl looked like a malnourished dog; gaunt, sad, and on the verge of passing out. Matthew didn't seem to notice, or care, and it wasn't my place to say anything.

So we rode in silence, to wherever it was I was supposed to go.

 

The Long Night. I remembered being here, and to be honest, could not contain my surprise that it was still standing. It was built into the basement of an old brick building, and I'm certain that the upper floors had been abandoned years prior. It made for a perfect place for someone trying to remain anonymous.

In short, a perfect place for a vampire coven. However, none of this was making any sense. I looked over to Matthew, wondering just what it was he was planning.

"I thought you said you hailed from Whitemoon," I said as he parked the car. "This place is owned by--"

"The Midwinter coven," Matthew finished for me. "The owner sent for you."

I blinked, stunned into silence. It couldn't be the same owner. I had been gone for years.

We got out of the car and made our way to the door. The doorman apparently recognized Matthew and let us proceed inside.

The club had not changed since I had been here last; same cheesy decorations of plaster skeletons and paper blood droplets, same plump bartender with the shaved head and too many tattoos, same 'goth' crowd pretending to be things they had no clue were actually real, let alone owning the club they frequented. The walls were still the same blood red, the furniture was still black, and the dance floor, where most everybody was at the moment, still looked just as ridiculous with everybody flailing about as though they thought they were dancing.

I leaned against the wall near the exit, surveying the crowd. From here, I could study each individual person here without any chance of someone getting behind me.

"I thought I felt it get cold in here," I heard a familiar, high-pitched voice say. "Guess it's just the frost."

I looked over at the short, pale girl who said it and could not help but smile.

"Talon."

She extended her arms for an embrace, wrapping them just under my ribs. Nobody would have been able to judge her power by her size; she could have lifted me with one arm, and probably thrown Matthew's car through a concrete wall with both. Not only that, but as the head of the Midwinter coven's branch of this city, she had connections from local government all the way to petty street crime.

Standing exactly five feet tall, she looked barely old enough to be unsupervised. Adding to her youthful features were eyes so blue that they made the sky jealous, and platinum blond hair that neared silver in hue. As she let go of me, she smiled.

"How long has it been?" I asked, managing a small smirk at her bubbly attitude.

"Eleven years, six months, fourteen days," she responded. "Too long."

"Aye."

My gaze returned to the crowd. "Mercenaries, Talon? I would have figured you as more of the 'do it yourself' type. Or has that much really changed in the last few years?"

"Well," she sighed, "this problem could extend the coven war into my city."

"Which you want to avoid."

"Precisely."

We were both silent for a moment, just listening to the 'ambiance' of industrial music playing. It was more like a conglomeration of overly loud electric guitars and a guy with twelve arms hitting anything that made noise with a drumstick. After a moment, Talon pulled a phone from her shirt, grimacing at whatever message displayed on the screen. "Hold on," she told me as she faded into the shadows of the patrons, and I was left to my own devices.

So I took a seat at the bar. The bartender looked like he was staring at a ghost.

"Hey, Paco," I said nonchalantly. "Shot of whiskey."

Paco blinked a few times, but didn't move.

"Paco?" I raised my eyebrows and tilted my head, wondering if he had just soiled himself. Finally he snapped out of it, shook his head and poured my drink.

I liked Paco. He was usually a man of few words. Large in presence and just physical size, bald, with a nicely grown goatee. Tattoos adorned his arms, and a tank top allowed him to show most of them off as they trailed across his chest.

"We thought you were dead," he said after handing me my shot.

"Well, I suppose you could say that. Being sealed in a coffin out in a cemetery usually implies 'dead.' But I'm back, much to my dismay."

I raised the shot to him, nodding, before downing it all at once, slamming the glass back on the bar, and letting out a quick whistle.

"Thank you, sir, may I have another?" I exclaimed with a quick smile.

"No time," I heard Talon's voice behind me. "We've got a situation."

It was Paco's turn to smile as he clapped a hand on my shoulder. "Next time, chap," he called over his shoulder as he walked away.

I looked over to Talon. She was holding my old midnight-blue duster.

"Time to get to work, hunter Frost."