It's amazing how far people fall when pushed to the edge. A murder or two, the townsfolk mourn and comfort each other, and then life goes on. The bodies start piling up, and the tears turn to fears. Any misdemeanor becomes reason for suspicion. "Timmy's dad was accused of petty theft a little while back. Is it him?" "Howie's wife says he beats her. How far from murder is that?" The gossip is what kills them in the end. Rumors spread too far. Tension builds. But the bodies don't stop rolling in. Adrian thought it was the English teacher who taught at a local elementary that started the riot. The mob seemed to stretch for a solid mile, though it was clear to anyone with an amateur vampire's senses that it was only 60 strong. They went door to door, storming the houses and RVs of families who had refused to participate. He spotted a single mother dragged out of her trailer and brought to her knees before the mob leader, dressed head-to-toe in the vestments of a priest (who, if Adrian wasn't mistaken, had been shot a few blocks back for standing in the way of the teacher). "Where were you on the night of September 17th, Ms. Robinson?" "Please, Ted! You know I didn't do anything! I was picking up my son from soccer practice!" "Anyone capable of confirming that?" "Billy! Obviously!" "Of course he would, Christine. He's your son. Anyone else?" "Um... No?" "I thought so." Christine was screaming when Ted brought a golf club down on her head. Not the most efficient weapon, but enough to splatter the woman's brain matter on the sidewalk. Adrian thought of intervening when the boy in question was dragged from his residence, but was distracted by the sudden movement of a squirrel to his left. "It is so wonderful that the antics of mankind don't die with them." This event had been months in the making. Adrian had decided to roost here following the first of the murders, the work of a rather amateur killer. He'd left his fingerprints all over the crime scenes. In fact, the police successfully deducted that it was the man in question (one Nicholas Godfrey) who had murdered the first two victims, leaving them crucified and thoroughly raped on their own beds. Sadly, they found his own body dismembered and exsanguinated on the banks of the Mississippi. It was a simple matter for Adrian to exploit the situation, choosing a new victim (Or three. Hehehe.) every week for almost a year. The FBI had become involved around month two. The team mysteriously vanished on arrival. More were sent. Same story. By month six the town was on lockdown. No one in, no one out. The murders continued. Curfew was enforced heavily, and the children stopped going to school. It was easy to break into and out of houses. Finally, the will and sanity of the people broke at month ten. The police and National Guardsmen policing the streets were prepared for but swiftly overwhelmed by the horde of crazed and frantic denizens. Which brought us to the present, where executions were being held publicly at around month eleven. Extensive, and perhaps a waste of time? Most definitely. Satisfying, and almost impossibly fun? Most definitely. "I really should do something..." Let them kill off the nonparticipants, they start killing each other. It would be entertaining to watch, but after eleven months Adrian had become unbelievably bored. Too monotonous to kill sheep. Nothing to challenge him. He'd been looking forward to a slayer or two to show up, yet none ever arrived. "What do you think, Edgar? Leave them, or do something?" The abominably mutated and oversized raven (if that is what it could be called anymore) perched besides him gave Adrian a brief glance before letting out a half-hearted squawk. "Yes. You're right." With a sigh and an overdramatized effort, Adrian leapt from his seat atop a barren oak, about a mile from where the mob had formed a mosh pit around the boy, beating him back and forth around the circle with the butts of rifles and the shafts of gardening tools. In an instant, Adrian was there. A sweep of his hands created a wave of force that pushed the walls of the circle off their feet and back a foot or so. The boy was developing bruises around his temple, eyes, and... Well, everywhere else. His nose was broken, a rib appeared to be broken, and his soul seemed thoroughly crushed. The rioters struggled to their feet, terror and surprise frozen on their faces. Only the leader, Ted, seemed to be relatively unfazed. "Who the fuck are you?" Adrian was silent as he slowly stood straight up, his eyes closed. In the wrong context, he wasn't terrifying at all. Black fingernails, red dress clothing, jewelry, crimson hair... He looked like a red-crazed Goth. Nothing scary. Add the fact that he appeared out of nowhere in the midst of a riot, his apparent lack of fear, and that he had just forced back dozens of people with nothing but his hands, and he suddenly looked terrifying. Yet Ted stood tall, his eyes the only sign of fear, with a gun pointed at the . "Well?" "'Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children.' Do you know the rest, Theodore?" Ted's form faltered for a moment, but he answered. "'And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.' Ezekiel, 25:17." "Now all we need is a Valley of Darkness." Adrian's eyes shot open, and Ted stumbled back, screaming at the sight of the red pupils set into pools of blackness. "Lights out." The vampire's demonic smile was the last thing the rioters saw before a veil of shadow was placed over their eyes. But while the shadows stopped them from seeing the horror that took place before them, they could still hear the screams of terror and agony as their companions died at the hands of a walking nightmare. Ted was the last to go. He lay on the ground in a pool of blood (what was his and what was not could not be determined), surrounded by horribly mutilated corpses. Something had torn through his ribcage, piercing a lung and cracking a spinal vertebrae. Suddenly, the veil lifted. His eyes clear, he saw everything that had crumbled around him. All he'd wanted was a little respect. He was never respected by anyone, not even his wife or kids. And this... This made him a king. And look at it now. There was Haley Shafer, the babysitter for his toddler. Her head was cracked open (literally), the brain that should have been inside of it having been sucked away. Haley's gut had been torn open, and her intestines seemed to be missing. Oh wait. There they were. The Assistant Principal was hung from a streetlight with them, his own lower half discarded on the sidewalk. Many similar scenes were prevalent throughout the whole field of slaughter. In fact, the only two survivors seemed to be Ted himself and Billy Hewlett. Poor kid. None of this should have ever happened. Something flashed in the corner of his vision. Ted tried to crane his neck around, but found he couldn't move. "I'm sorry. I should be a little more helpful." Something gripped Ted's skull and forced it to look up towards the sky. Instead of the peaceful darkness he'd come to know and love, the face of the beast stared down at him. "How're you doing, mate?" Finding that he couldn't speak, all Ted managed to get out was. "M-M-mnsr." That evil smile flashed again. "I am terribly sorry. You seem to have lost your tongue." That explained the taste of iron in his mouth. "You see, I don't terribly like murderers in my territory. You've ruined all the great fun I've been having. But I'm a merciful landlord. And you look to be in so much pain." A hungry glint flashed across Adrian's eyes as his jaw unhinged and his fangs sank into Ted's carotid and jugular. Poor man couldn't even scream. "Such a waste. The blood was already half-dead." Skipping through the rows of corpses, Adrian hummed a tune he'd learned when he was a child. Edgar landed near him and started pecking at a baby's eye. "Who brings a baby on a witch hunt?" Edgar looked up quickly before returning to his meal. "You're right. Don't be picky." It was at this time that Adrian noticed the boy, Billy, who was curled in the fetal position in the same spot where he'd been beaten. Adrian had neglected to lower the shadows that blocked his vision, which left him in the dark. Simple umbrakinesis. Raise thin but dense layers of shade over the eyes. The enemy will be blinded, become disoriented, and be unable to fight back. Unless they're a lycan, demon, or other vampire. The former and latter had too great of senses to be hindered by such meaningless tactics, and demons were quite literally made of shadow. But they worked perfectly on humans. With a lazy twitch of his index finger, Adrian lowered the shadows. Realizing his sight had returned, young Billy rose to his knees, slowly taking in what was surrounding him. Adrian could hear the boy's breathing accelerate, a choking sound stuck in his throat. "Welcome back to the land of the living, child!" Adrian strolled over to him, but it was clear that his face terrified the kid more than the corpses. He took a step back. "All's well child. I'm not here to hurt you. If anything, I just saved your life. But I could offer you something that would mean you'd never need someone to save you again." Time seemed to stand still. Edgar started from his half-eaten corpse, gazing intently at his master. "You would never age. You would never feel pain, never die. Nothing could harm you ever again." Darkness seemed to emanate from him like an aura, his voice sweet and sultry as it seemed to echo from every direction. You would be a lion among men, a god amongst gods. The sun would never shine on you again, but the shadows are softer and kinder. And all you need do is take my hand." Adrian extended his arm, at which the boy fell over and began to crawl backwards. Time snapped back to normal, Edgar returned to his meal, and Adrian recoiled from the boy. "I see. I was mistaken. Oh well. Suit yourself. Go on. Run off. This whole town belongs to you now!" He turned and walked back the way he'd come, his laughter rising up to the heavens. His familiar returned and rose with it, circling in the skies. No rush to leave. The police are dead, the town is pretty well empty, and it will be a while before anyone notices the silence coming from Harpers Ferry. And its been a while since I took a good midnight stroll. He started humming his tune again as Billy finally worked up the strength to scream.