Part 366 – What Is A Hunter’s Fight?

What do I remember?

Caith girl.

My home.

Servants in black and white.

Father.

Mother.

Their rings.

They gave me their rings.

Then.

Then, I became sick.

I grew sicker.

He stopped and examined his claws again. Who did I kill?

Ambrose ran his tongue along the tops of his claws. So many different scents.

It was more than one person.

Why can’t I remember anything about it? Well. That’s a stupid question. It’s undoubtedly another lovely little bon-bon tied gift from Sammy’s blood. Blindness, savage hunger, and missing memories. Lovely. I wonder what’s next. I lose my hearing? My teeth fall out?

He scoffed. I’m sure I’ll lose my claws as well. Why not? Might as well completely incapacitate me.

Barbara returned to his thoughts and his bad mood lightened. He resumed his journey. As long as I didn’t hurt her, nothing else matters.

***

Hildreth considered Elsie’s words for several long minutes. He got out of bed and returned to the training room.

Master Shinowa wasn’t there.

Hildreth entered the room and closed the door.

There was no whifft of gas.

And Ambrose did not appear.

He sighed.

Master probably went to bed. It’s been a bad day for him. My blockheadedness was just the topper.

He walked to the middle of the room and sat on the floor. “I only have two months, barely two months, to find him and to kill him. But if I face him now, I will lose. I know I will lose. What can I do? What more can I do?”

Hildreth bowed his head.

Maybe I’m just thinking too much. Maybe I should just go to bed.

The door slid open.

No footsteps.

Hildreth raised his head and startled.

A familiar form, edged with gold light, walked through the doorway.

He stumbled up to his feet. “It can’t be. It isn’t…”

It floated towards Hildreth, who backed away so fast he nearly tripped over himself. “Mayhew.”

“Master Initskay? It can’t be.”

The ghost smiled. “Hildreth Mayhew.”

“This isn’t real. It’s a test. I’m going insane. I—”

“You need my help.”

Hildreth averted his gaze. “You can’t help me. I’m too stupid. I can’t.”

“Hildreth. Stop it. Look at me.”

“I can’t. It’s my fault. I didn’t and I should have and I…”

“Just look at me. I can help you.”

He looked at his former master. “Can you?”

“If you will listen to me.” He smiled. “If you can remember what I taught you.”

“What you taught me.”

He paced around Hildreth. “What is a hunter’s fight?”

“A fight to the death.”

“Yes, but what is it? Do you remember, Mayhew?”

“A hunter’s fight is…”

“Think. Think, Mayhew.”

“I can’t.”

“Remember.”

“I can’t! It isn’t there. It’s just nothing. It’s not there.”

“It’s there. You just aren’t trying hard enough. Try. Remember what I taught you.”

A hunter’s fight is a…A hunter’s fight is…A hunter’s fight…”I don’t know. I can’t remember.”

“Dig deeper. Break those barriers down. Remember.”

“Why do you have to keep pushing me? I don’t know!”

He stopped in front of Hildreth. “A hunter’s fight is more than fists and blows. A hunter’s fight is more than being a war machine. A hunter’s fight is…Do you remember?”

“No.”

“Mayhew.”

“I said no. No! I can’t. I can’t! I don’t want to remember! Why did you come here? What…Why?”

“Because you need my help. Because Master Shinowa needs my help. He asked for my help.” Compassion softened his features. “What happened to me was not your fault.”

“Yes, it is. I should have run faster. I should have pushed myself harder. I should have reached your dojo sooner. I could have stopped them if I were there. But I was too late. I was too late and I didn’t have the guts or the ability or the courage to end you. I failed you. Jeff had to do it and it wrecked him. And it’s my fault.”

“Hildreth.” He hugged him.

Hildreth gasped. It was like standing on a warm beach as the sun set. “Master, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m…”

“It’s all right. I am no longer a vampire. I’m safe now. So safe and happier than you could imagine. Oh, Hildreth. If you knew what I know, if you could see what I see every day…I can’t describe it. I have no words to describe it. And I am at peace. Peace that you will never know here. No one here will ever feel such perfect peace.” He released him. “But don’t throw your life away. It is too precious. You don’t know how precious it is until you’ve crossed that line. Then, you see. Then, you know. Promise me you won’t throw your life away.”

“I promise.”

He smiled. “So, what is a hunter’s fight? Do you remember?”

“A hunter’s fight is a fight for life, for light.”

“To protect.”

“To save.”

“And?”

Hildreth smiled. “It is a beautiful dance.”

“Then, dance.” He disappeared.

But Hildreth did not feel alone.

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