Lawrence became much more vigilant while exploring the forest and hunting. He needed to be, if there were vampire living in the forest.
One winter day while hunting, Lawrence was waiting for the perfect opportunity to take down a large stag, only for something else pounced on the creature before he had his chance.
From his crouched position behind a wall of trees all he saw was a shadow, he couldn’t make out what it was that stole his prey. Lawrence slowly rose from the cold, damp ground, removed his camouflage and headed towards the fallen stag.
It was as he expected, Lawrence quietly watched the life fade from the animals eyes, while four pairs of pointed teeth dug into the animals flesh and drained its blood.
Lawrence was aware of the high probability of vampires living in the Dark Forest. After all, it was the perfect environment for them to thrive. However, he felt a lump in his throat because he knew from the colour of their eyes, the small figures hunched over the stag were no ordinary vampires; they were half-breeds.
Without thinking, Lawrence slowly approached the young half-breeds. A foolish move which he regretted the instant he made it. Living alone in the forest for so many years had effected Lawrence’s sense of danger.
It was unavoidable, they had already noticed him and after a moment of realisation and hesitation the four young vampires charged at Lawrence. They had no battle strategy or formation; they moved purely on instinct.
Seeing the hate and desperation in their eyes, Lawrence could only imagine what they must have gone through; after all it was a sight he had seen countless times before.
He couldn’t believe how reckless he was acting, approaching young, unstable half-breeds while they feed. In that moment he was a human armed with a weapon; a vampires enemy.
Lawrence dodged the half-breed’s clumsy attacks. It was easy to see they were inexperienced in battle, all their attacks were rash and driven by their will to survive.
The lump in Lawrence’s throat got bigger, he couldn’t bring himself to fight back against the young half-breeds. He couldn’t believe that even after so many years, nothing had changed.
Instead of fear or hate, Lawrence felt a sense of remorse towards the desperate half-breeds. They were only children, children who fell victim to human greed and pride and had everything taken from them. The Purge brought nothing but chaos, despair and destruction to the kingdom.
It had been a long time since he needed to use magic. Lawrence cast a harmless sleeping spell on the four children to stop their senseless and ineffective attacks.
As they lay silently on the snow-covered forest floor, the four half-breeds almost looked like ordinary children, only for their tattered clothing, disheveled hair, covered in dirt and bare feet. As he looked at them, Lawrence was reminded of every half-breed child he killed in the name of the kingdom.
He wondered if the gods were punishing him for running away, isolating himself in the Dark Forest and turning away from the world; Or were they giving him a chance to do some good?
Was this his chance? After taking so many lives in the past, he now has the chance to save a few.
Unable to abandon the children, Lawrence carried them back to his cabin, one-by-one. The only way to stop them from lashing out when they woke up was to restrain them, Lawrence reluctantly tied the four children together to an age-old ash tree.
For three hours Lawrence sat outside in the winter until the half-breed children woke up. After the shock and confusion of finding themselves bound to a tree, the four half-breed vampires were relieved to see each other. However, they remained silent, wary of the human watching them.
Their silent, frightened stares told Lawrence everything, they were terrified of humans and they had every right to be. Lawrence knew that trying to reassure them he mean’t no harm would be meaningless. Why would they trust an old man, a human living alone in the Dark Forest? So he decided the only thing he could do was let them go.
However that was not the last time he saw them.
To be continued.