The youngster awoke to the sound of messy footsteps approaching. The dry rustling of leaves was especially jarring in the deadly silent forest.
Abruptly opening his eyes, the youth’s face filled with vigilance and as the memories of the previous night trickled back into his consciousness his nerves tensed even further. Instinctively, he felt that the people in the forest were a threat.
“The vampire you saw yesterday escaped this way?” An aged voice solemnly rang out not far from the tree where the youth was hiding.
The youth slowly pressed closer to the tree branch. Peeking through the thick foliage, four men in long black robes were gathered under the tree. Behind them, shivering, was the man who fled from the graveyard the previous night.
“T-That…” The gravekeeper stuttered, “There’s only, only this forest it could have…”
Seeing the darkening expression on the priests’ faces, the gravekeeper paled and became even more anxious.
“You don’t believe me?! My partner’s neck – you also saw the bite marks! The mastiff too! Can a normal person twist off such a thick neck?”
The young priest looked at the trees surrounding them and glanced up at the thick canopy of leaves above him. As he looked up, the youth briefly met his eyes. However he was hidden in the shadow of the branches and with the dim lighting of the forest, the priest did not find anything unusual.
“We’ve already circled the forest several times, where exactly do you see any vampires? Even if there was one, it’s already almost five o’clock now, it’s probably running around in the city by now. Let’s go back and contact the Church of London. Bring this case to them.”
The youth’s eyesight was surprisingly good. Despite being dozens of meters away, he could clearly see the contempt that flashed across the priest’s face.
Having the question thrown back into his face, the gravekeeper could not answer for a long time. Yes, an entire night has passed, would a vampire really just stay here?
“Go back.” The leading priest’s face furrowed in contemplation for a moment before he took the lead in making a decision.
“No! What if it comes back again?! It used my partner as a blood slave!” The gravekeeper panicked and screamed and his fingers shivered involuntarily.
The young priest sneered, “You can also push your partner into the pit. Coward.”
The gravekeeper’s face turned bright red, the words catching in his throat.
The youth was motionless in the darkness and waited. Listening to the rustling of dead leaves gradually fade away, his taut nerves gradually relaxed——
Pulling his sharp fingers out of the bark, the youth glimpsed his wrists. Hidden in their cuffs, he turned his slender wrists around and slightly tilted his head, puzzled… it healed?
Raising his hand to touch his cheeks, his fingers skimmed across smooth skin without a trace of the previous night’s wounds. He had no memories of what happened after he lost consciousness the previous night so if not for the traces of blood still on his white cuffs, he never would have suspected that he had been injured.
His body felt a little numb so the youth carefully got up. As he leaned against the tree trunk he felt a cold sharp object press against his chest. He instinctively stiffened from the cold touch and unbuttoned his collar. Reaching inside his shirt the youth pulled out a silver white chain. The chain was not extravagantly gorgeous but exquisite in its simplicity.
However, the youth’s gaze was not on the silver chain but glued to the pendent at its end, a gleaming blue jewel. The gemstone has been very carefully carved into the shape of a coiling serpent. On the body of the serpent, three letters were delicately engraved in a slender and intricate font — Asa*.
Who knew how long his vocal chords had been in a state of disuse as the youth’s voice was hoarse and nasally.
The boy whispered, his eyes blank. There were no such words engraved on the pendant so why did those words appear in his mind?
Asa? Was that his name?
Asa… Why does it sound so strange?
The youth blankly stared at the snake jewel for a while then stuffed it back in his shirt and carefully buttoned the shirt up all the way to his chin. Whether it was actually his name or not he didn’t care, it was just a name. Anyways—
He doesn’t remember.
A feeling rose from the bottom of his heart and Asa felt at a slight loss. Where should he go now? The city? Could his home be there?
His memory was a black hole and the sense of loss stifled the youth’s mood. Just a while ago, those people had talked about London? Was that city close to the forest? But even if he went to the city, there still would be no place for him there…
Asa’s ears perked up and he raised his head. In the far off distance, he could hear the rustling of leaves. Alert, Asa squatted down closer to the branches, narrowing his eyes and slowing his breath.
The leaves obscured both Asa’s figure and his vision. He could only determine the number of people and their proximity through sound.
“Rustle, rustle, rustle,” the sound was slow and steady forming a clear rhythm. Asa’s taut body relaxed fractionally. A single person. He should be able to take them on… right?
The footsteps stopped directly under Asa’s tree. Asa did not rush to move because of the sudden silence. Crouching on the tree branch, Asa’s breathing became slower and slower until it was barely noticeable.
Asa craned his neck to catch a glimpse but he never saw the face of the other person. The position where the stranger stopped was too precise. His entire body was perfectly positioned to be blocked from Asa’s sight by leaves.
Who was it? Was it one of the five men from before?
Thinking of the black robed priest who locked eyes with him, Asa’s brow wrinkled. In the end, did that man see him? Asa’s pupils were dark. As he stared down at the leaves below his fangs silently dropped halfway down and cut into his lower lip.
Although Asa believed he had the ability to beat the other person he stood still. He didn’t know where this mentality he had came from, but subconsciously Asa was unwilling to take the initiative to hurt someone who would not pose a threat to him—
The two people remained in a deadlock, each refusing to be the first to speak. Time slowly passed by and the early morning sun gradually rose above the horizon, the first of its rays penetrating through the leaves to touch Asa’s face.
It was obviously just a faint light but Asa’s reaction was astonishingly violent. Scrambling backwards away from the light, his rough movements fiercely shook the tree branches.
“Only fledglings of the Blood Clan would shy away from the sun for the darkness.”
The male voice from under the tree was elegant and smooth, his speech neither urgent nor slow. The youth hiding in the shadows was stunned. The other party knew what he was! Was he called a Blood Clan fledgling because of the way only blood seems to relieve his hunger?
But the word the priests and gravekeeper kept calling him was clearly different — vampire. Did this person pose a threat to him? But from listening to the other party’s voice, it didn’t seem like he was looking for a fight.
Asa’s mind felt very heavy. Even if he was relatively certain the other party would not pose a threat, he still did not move.
He did not want to face the prospect of fighting a difficult battle with the other party, but at the same time, the sunlight in the treetops could no longer be blocked by leaves which would make an escape through the trees extremely burdensome. The burning sensation on his face from earlier had not yet faded and Asa was loath to experience it again.
However, paradoxically, his heart longed for the sun — was it just human nature that the more you are unable to grasp something, the more you yearn for it?
“How long do you plan to keep hiding? The light is only going to get stronger.”
The man under the tree, having waited a while with no response, asked again. His elegant voice grew louder alongside the crackling of dead leaves as he walked closer.
A pair of shiny black shoes was the first thing to appear in Asa’s vision followed by a pair of long slender legs wrapped in ironed straight slacks. Wearing these things, Asa determined, would make it impossible for him to effectively fight.
After estimating his opponent’s strength, Asa bit his lower lip, he couldn’t afford to keep waiting.
Since the other party clearly knew that he was a different race, it meant he really was one of the priests from earlier. Other than that priest from earlier, Asa couldn’t think of anyone who might have actually seen him. Plus, the other party’s hunting order was already rescinded—
“Alright, I’m done hiding. I’ll come down,” His vocal chords were truly in disuse for too long. Asa’s accent was thick like cotton, his voice hoarse, broken and lacking intonation.
Slowly standing up in the branches, Asa flexed his legs and jumped.
The figure of the youth was still not fully developed. Standing straight and tall like a hard □□*, he proudly fell towards the ground. The accompanying breeze blew the youth’s hair back as ice cold blue pupils stared at the slender black-haired man on the ground.
At that moment Asa clearly saw the other person. The man in the black tuxedo was very tall, his short black hair was just long enough to elegantly frame his cheekbones. His sharp chin set off his deep, classical facial features causing them to look all the more sharp and beautiful.
He was not here to fight! That was Asa’s judgement after seeing the man.
However, he was also not one of the priests from earlier. After hesitating for a moment, the idea of escape once again prevailed in Asa’s mind.
Three meters from the ground, Asa suddenly reversed directions. Leaning sideways to lower his center of gravity, Asa’s right foot lashed out towards the man trailing a fierce wind in his wake, his toes curling downwards in a perfectly executed roundhouse kick.
The man smiled softly and stood still, indifferent in the face of Asa’s attack. Just as the thin ankle was about to reach his nose, the man slowly lifted his left hand and accurately grasped Asa’s ankle with five slender fingers. His smile brightening fractionally, the man sharply yanked down on Asa’s leg and plucked the falling youth out of the air into his arms.
Asa struggled fiercely only to realize that the man’s restricting arms were stronger than iron. The fear in his heart intensified indefinitely — the power of the other side was overwhelming and completely beyond his expectations!
The thought of running away was so prominent at the forefront of Asa’s mind that his gums stung with fear and his sharp fangs instinctively dropped down without warning.
Under the sheer terror of his oppression, Asa harshly bit into the exposed neck of the man, trying to make the man release him through pain.
Nine hours after awakening, Asa fell to the same level as a dog, following the same actions as the deceased mastiff — biting people.
As the other man’s blood slid past his lips, Asa found that he could not stop. The blood of the gravekeeper was dry and bitter, but last night Asa was hungry and irrational and could not distinguish the blood quality.
At this moment, the blood reverberating in Asa’s mouth was sweet and mellow with a faint hint of age, like a fine wine that has been fermenting underground for hundreds of years.
The blood that flowed into the youth’s mouth had brought him into a heightened state of drunkenness. The young man’s pale face was flushed bright red and his blue eyes turned a deep gold.
The realization of his blood drinking act slammed into Asa, causing him to recall the agony he faced after drinking blood the previous night and the youth instinctively tried to resist the allure of the man’s blood.
Asa resisted the greed in his heart with difficulty and wrenched his teeth out of the man’s neck and looked at the man with vigilance. Suddenly, the bleeding holes having lost the obstructions, sealed up under Asa’s eyes.
Asa found this disturbing scene unsettling. His own attack was also negated by the other party too easily. Instinctively uneasy with the foreign powers he didn’t understand, Asa wanted to leave this strange man, the farther away the better.
The moment this thought passed through his mind, without even taking a breath, Asa slammed his knee towards the man’s crotch.
When his knee was only halfway to its target, it was blocked by a slender and powerful hand. Asa’s sly (and sinister) attack was completely neutralized.
Without the restraint of one of the man’s arms, the force holding Asa lessened. Shoving the man’s chest, the blonde flipped out of the man’s arms and jumped back. As soon as his body was free, Asa turned around and ran, his body trailing afterimages like an arrow shot from a bow.
It only took a matter of seconds for Asa to break free and dash for the branches, and from beginning to end, the dark-haired young man’s hooked lips did not deviate from their smile, even the angle was precisely the same.
Not bothering to catch up to the youth, the man smiled and raised his left hand. Pulling up the cuff of his sleeve, he glanced at a delicate silver watch, blinked, and said,
“If we keep dragging this out, the sun will rise and we’ll have to wait till night to return home—
*Asa – Originally in English. In pinyin, Asa’s name would be Yasa, but since the author first wrote Asa’s name in English and the world so far seems Western themed I am going to stick with the original English name.
*□□ – Was censored in the raws.
*Chomp – The original word was ‘pu’ (噗) which according to various internet sources could mean puffing, water, laughter, etc. Those don’t exactly make sense in context to the story so I chose ‘chomp’ instead.