The night seemed darker than usual as Kyra made her way through the gloom of the forest. Her face stung from the tears she had cried until there were none left. With one hand she absently fiddled with the cross now hanging around her neck. Her eyes were downcast, paying just enough attention to where she was going so she didn't run into anything. Her mind was in another world, one where nothing was wrong. Where her mother was still alive. Where she knew her father. Where there were no secrets or vampires. Where she wasn't alone.
Lost in her thoughts, Kyra didn't notice the raised sheet of stone jutting out of the ground until she stumbled over it, landing hard on the rocky surface. Cursing her clumsiness, she sat up slowly, noting the scrape on one hand and the pain in her other elbow.
She looked up at the dark, clouded sky through the clearing in the trees. "Why?" she whispered. "Why?" she screamed a second time. "First you take my mother and now you kick me when I'm down? What have I done? Why am I being punished?"
Only the silence of the forest answered her. Kyra let out a frustrated scream and buried her face in her hands.
The weight of everything that had happened coupled with lack of sleep was beginning to overcome her. She didn't know what she was going to do.
"Kyra?" a voice asked quietly, causing her to jump.
Kyra looked around to find the source of the voice, but saw no one. "Who's there?" she demanded, leaping to her feet, suddenly alert.
"I mean you no harm," a woman said, stepping into view.
Kyra's breath caught in her throat as she saw the color of the woman's hair.
Looking at her was like looking at a black and white photograph. She appeared to be a few years older than Kyra at most. She was short in stature and slender, with skin pale as the moon. Her long silver hair was tucked behind her ears, parting perfectly to reveal her small face. Her grey eyes had an odd quality to them that Kyra couldn't quite place.
"Who…who are you? How do you know my name?" she asked, on edge.
A small smile appeared on the woman's face. "Your mother didn't tell you?"
Kyra stumbled back from the woman, noticing the subtle oddity in the woman's teeth. Now the look in her eyes made sense. "Stay away from me, vampire," she said, holding her hands up protectively.
"So much like your mother it's not even funny," the vampire chuckled. "I already told you, I'm not going to hurt you."
"How do I know you're not just lying to me?" Kyra asked, inching backwards.
"If I was really trying to drink you, don't you think I would have just attacked and gotten it done and over with instead of standing here talking to you?" she reasoned, tilting her head to the side.
Kyra had to admit the vampire made a good point. "Then who are you? How do you know my mother?"
A sad smile appeared on her face. "I suppose given other circumstances, I probably would have been her sister-in-law."
Kyra's eyes widened in surprise. "What?"
The vampire nodded. "Your father was my big brother, which would make me Aunt Akira to you." She made a face. "That sounds weird, let's just stick with Akira. Makes me feel less old," she said laughing.
Kyra shook her head, barely comprehending what was being said. "That's…that's not possible."
"I'm sorry. I know you've been through a lot today and these definitely aren't the circumstances I wanted to introduce myself under," Akira said, taking a few careful steps toward her.
Kyra's head was spinning. Not ten minutes ago she had thought she was alone in the world, friendless and family-less. Now, she was suddenly trying to wrap her mind around the idea that she did still have family left. Even more so, she was trying to deal with the fact that that one family member was a vampire. It was such a contradiction to the life she and her mother had lived that Kyra didn't even know how such a thing was possible. Suddenly, one clear thought poked through the mess of things swirling in her head. "How…how do you know what happened? How did you find me?"
"Well…I can't say I know exactly what happened, but…I'm sure you know all about the Lamhostil?"
Kyra nodded absently before realizing what Akira was getting at. "Are you saying that you're…you're…"
"Yes, I'm a Lamhostil. I may be a vampire, but I've still got the bond. I'm not sure how the whole thing works, actually, you probably know more about it than I do, but I can feel things through it I couldn't when I was human. I felt it sever when your mother died, just like you did, I'm sure, but I can also use it to find…well, you, I guess, since it's just the two of us now."
"Why didn't she ever tell me any of this?" Kyra murmured to herself. "She always said she and I were the last two."
"Ileea had quite the habit of keeping quiet about important things. Believe me, I've been there."
"What do you mean?"
Akira was hesitant to reply. "It's a long story," she said finally, glancing up to the sky. "One that I should probably tell you later…since it's getting close to dawn and you look like you could use some sleep."
Kyra opened her mouth to reply as a sudden movement behind Akira grabbed her attention. A man had appeared, far faster than was humanly possible. Reacting on instinct, she sent him flying, instantly ready to continue her assault. It was like all the emotional turmoil and confusion she had been feeling was looking for a way to escape and he had provided an outlet for her feelings.
In the split second it took her to decide what to do next, Akira grabbed her hands, immobilizing them. "Relax," she said gently, but firmly. "He's a friend."
Kyra looked at her hands, then back at Akira. "How did you know to grab my hands to stop me?" she asked, puzzled.
Deciding it was safe to let go, Akira released Kyra's hands. "Lance controlled his powers the same way," she answered as the other vampire came back into view, clearly irked by what had just happened.
"My father had a gift?" Kyra asked, latching immediately onto one of the first concrete pieces of information she had ever heard about him.
It was a well-known fact to anyone who knew a thing or two about the Lamhostil that there was occasionally a male in the line with a gift. In the days of the original Lamhostil, the women were the vampire hunters while the men hunted for food. The only time this system was changed was in the event of a gifted male being born. He was treated like a god while at the same time expected to aid the women in hunting vampires.
When Kyra had first learned about this, she had asked her mother why she had a gift. After all, she wasn't boy; she was a girl. Her mother had simply shrugged it off, claiming it to be an anomaly, an exception to the rule. After what Kyra had learned tonight, however, she had a feeling her mother had known more than she had let on. It must have been another one of those secrets she had kept and would never be able to share.
Akira nodded, glancing at the vampire that had stopped beside her. "This is Demitri."
Kyra felt uncomfortable under his gaze. His eyes, like Akira's, lacked the crimson color that the rest of the vampires she had hunted possessed. Instead, they were a dark green. He was about a foot taller than Akira, with short-cropped black hair and facial features that reminded Kyra of a hawk.
"Hi," he said, nodding at her. He then faced Akira. "Guess who's back?"
Akira's face fell. "You're joking."
"No, I'm not."
"What's going on?" Kyra asked.
"There's a hunter tracking us," Akira explained. "He's been on our trail for weeks, but we just can't seem to shake him for some reason. Why in the world he's hunting us I'll never know. It's not like we've killed anyone."
Now the eyes made sense to Kyra. The color of a vampire's eyes was created by years of drinking human blood. There was a chemical present in the cells that attacked the colored pigments in the eyes, leaving them a crimson color permanently. However, if a vampire drank some other kind of blood, such as that from an animal, the natural color would remain. Because of this, only newly bitten vampires and those who didn't drink human blood had different colored eyes, but such vampires were a rarity to come by.
There was one thing about Akira's eyes that made Kyra a little uneasy though. They were predominantly grey, but there was the very slightest hint of pink to them, almost too faint to notice unless one looked closely. The questions the discrepancy raised would be better saved for another time.
"Why not get rid of him?" Kyra suggested in spite of herself.
"Not likely," Demitri said. "The guy's insane. If he could follow us after how much distance we've put between us and him, I don't want to see the guy if he does catch up with us."
"We'll just have to keep moving, then," Akira said.
Demitri nodded affirmatively.
Akira looked at Kyra. "Listen, there's a cave not far west from here. It's empty and secluded, so you can sleep there for the day without fear of someone or something finding you. We'll head off so he'll follow us and leave you alone. Tonight I'll come find you and we can talk for real."
Kyra just nodded.
"Alright, see you then," Akira said before she and Demitri disappeared into the darkness.
Kyra stared after them for a moment, her head still spinning from everything she had just learned. The curiosity over what Akira had to share was already eating away at her. But sleep had to come first. With her mind still pondering, she went in search of the cave.