Vampire Hunter D: Pale Fallen Angel Parts Three and Four, page 5
The Rivers Inn was about ten minutes away. Many inns in Frontier villages were humble affairs, but as the communities grew larger, they were often divided into separate lodgings for merchants and general travelers. But the Rivers Inn was neither. To put it bluntly, it was for millionaires. The first floor boasted a restaurant, bar, and casino, while the parking lot was filled with the very latest gasoline-powered cars and steam-driven vehicles, all polished and gleaming in the moonlight. The standard carriages were all drawn by at least a half-dozen horses and were lavish, adorned with gold and other precious metals.
Winding the reins of his horse around a hitching post that seemed to have seen no use at all, D then stepped into the foyer. The singing voices that soared to the accompaniment of the piano and violin dropped like dominoes as D moved toward the front desk. Even the bodyguards who kept a razor-sharp eye on the patrons in the hall and lounge couldn’t move in the least, as if they’d been struck dead. A grim reaper in black had intruded on this world of multicolored splendor—but what a gorgeous reaper he was. Although the people had been turned to statues in part by the ghastly aura that surrounded D, they were also lost in his handsome features.
Tell anyone without the finest carriage and clothing that we’re full—those were the orders the man at the front desk had been given, but the second he saw D step through the door, he forgot all about the fearsome manager’s mandate.
“Do you have a room?”
“Indeed we do. The very best suite. However, I hardly think it would be up to your standards, sir.”
“A single will be fine. Kindly give my horse some synthesized protein later.”
“Yes, sir. And the payment for your stay will be—unnecessary.”
As D stared at him, the clerk at the front desk returned to his senses and told the Hunter the correct charge. Paying for three days for the time being, D took the key and was headed over to the stairs when a coquettish voice and porcine laughter spilled from the bar off to the left.
“Mr. Balcon, you can’t be so cruel to a girl who just got here today,” said one of the women in a tickle of a voice as she writhed in a virulent tangle of bodies.
“Do I look like that sort of reprobate?” replied a corpulent man who looked to easily weigh four hundred fifty pounds.
While the arms of the women were wrapped around his neck and torso, their eyes feverishly embraced the tall figure behind him—a young man dressed in a black suit. Neither his face nor his build resembled that of Balcon. From the way he carried himself and the look in his eyes, he had to be a bodyguard.
“I’m only going to engage in some gentle conversation. Unlike those other dirty old men, I’m not out to take a ‘peek and a poke’ at the private areas of some young virgin. You see? My interest, in fact, is purely in staying up all night talking,” he bellowed, an explosion of vulgar laughter filling the hall before flowing out toward the entrance.
When he arrived at Fisher Lagoon’s in a carriage drawn by six galloping horses, Balcon was promptly surrounded in the front hall by the women who accompanied the madam. Though he had the poorest imaginable excuse for a chest, a chin that disappeared into five or six rolls of fat, and a belly that sagged like a sow’s ass, the hands that reached for the bulge in his pants were prompted in part by a professional approach to customer satisfaction, but the proof that the act was mostly motivated out of very real interest was the way every last woman had her eyes rolled back in her head and drool spilling from the corner of her mouth as she moaned incessantly.
This was the result of the sexual stimulants mixed into their daily meals and aphrodisiacs in the incense that even now filled the air. The longer they stayed, the worse it became, and in fact, spending a mere week in this house would make these women slaves to the endless swell of carnal cravings that came from within, smothering the will to escape and leaving them animalistic bitches in heat who did as their master and his clients commanded and pleasured them in any way they desired. And although there were naturally many clients who sought that sort of woman, the calls were even louder for virgins pure as the driven snow. As a result, “scouts” of sorts set off for neighboring towns and villages and even went all the way to the Capital to find fresh girls to meet Fisher Lagoon’s endless demand.
“You have the girl from the earlier communiqué, I take it?” Balcon asked the foxlike madam.
“But of course, Mr. Balcon. Have we ever said we had a girl and not delivered? She’s up in the penthouse suite, sure enough, just awaiting your arrival, Mr. Balcon. Although the girl did arrive just today, so she may be somewhat impertinent. Please try to keep that in mind. And another thing—” the madam said, lowering her voice to add, “though we don’t mind a few broken arms and legs, you mustn’t kill her.”
“I know, I know. That last one—Giselle was it?—I was drunk then. But as you can see, I’m practically sober today,” he said as he coughed a cloud of seemingly inflammable breath on the madam.
Stopping and looking all around, Balcon said, “By the by, is that old dog Lagoon not going to come out to greet me today either? Five years I’ve been coming here, and in all that time, I can’t remember the owner showing his face even once. Don’t you think that’s a bit rude of him?”
“Begging your pardon. You see, the boss’s motto is that no matter how pretty our girls are, folks would lose their taste for taking their pleasure if they were to see his face. But that’s fine, isn’t it? After all, a greeting from the boss wouldn’t change the thrill from the girls in the least.”
As the crafty old woman stated her case plainly and stared at Balcon in an unpleasant manner, something seemed to suddenly occur to the rotund man.
“Well, there are places like this in even the smallest villages, but it really seems strange that you could build a bawdy house this big and showy right in plain sight of a Noble’s castle and make so much hoopla without ever bringing down their wrath. Though they fulfill their own desires by drinking blood, the Nobility have a thing about stamping out the human pursuit of pleasure. Why, there have even been establishments that drew just a little attention to themselves, and as a result not only the patrons and staff, but also the proprietor and his family were all slaughtered. Most peculiar. I can’t get over this. What’s more—” Now it was his turn to lower his voice as he said, “I’ve heard rumors. They say the owner of Fisher Lagoon’s is actually the bastard son of a Noble. And an unbelievably high-ranking one at that—”
No sooner had he said that than the madam’s expression paled.
“What are you trying to say? The boss is a genuine, full-fledged human, mister. A Noble’s child would be Nobility. And didn’t you yourself just state one of them would have nothing to do with running a house like this? And a Noble’s child that wasn’t Nobility would be a dhampir. Even that would be half Noble. They’d be bowled over by spending too long out in the sun long before you or I would, but they could lose an arm without it being any major concern. I swear to you, the boss is human. I’ve seen him out in the sun buck naked, and when he got stabbed in an argument with a testy customer, he needed major surgery. Although I’m the only one he shows it to, from time to time he lets me see that he’s still got the scar from it on his belly. And knowing all that, Mr. Balcon, do you still insist on seeing smoke where there’s no fire?”
“Don’t be absurd,” Balcon said as he turned away in a snit, his fears allayed by the madam’s harangue.
And yet, the madam grinned from ear to ear. That was part of her job consciousness, and she realized they couldn’t afford to allow such a valued patron to grow any more sullen. She was a true professional. A young man in black stepped smoothly to the fore and said, “That will do.”
His voice was sweet, but had a great power to it. The girls around Balcon writhed at the sound of it, with one of them even kneading her ample breasts.
“I’m heading up to the penthouse. You come with me,” Balcon said to his dashing bodyguard as he swung his great belly arou
“He’ll keep a good eye on it. That’s about all he can do in the shape he’s in.”
“Come to mention it, he sure is a confident, creepy customer. Maybe we’d have been better off not bothering with him.”
The nondescript elevator arrived then, and only the madam and the two men got into it.
Just as it went into motion, the madam recalled what they’d been discussing.
“Who is this creepy character you’re talking about?”
“This guy we picked up in Shabara Canyon on the way here. He’s missing one arm and so covered with bruises we thought he was a goner, but somehow he’s still alive. What’s more, he asked us to take him to the village of Krauhausen, and said that in return he’d act as a bodyguard. There’s folks out there that really take the cake. Well, he was so dead set on this, I figured we’d take him along and score some positive karma. But to tell the truth, I have to wonder if he’ll live to see tomorrow.”
“Have you taken him to see a doctor?”
“Rubbish! What sense would there be in taking someone who can’t be saved to the doctor? Now that would be a true waste of good money.”
While Balcon was speaking, the elevator halted and the group stepped out onto a roof where the moonlight danced with the night breeze. Some sixty feet away, the shape of a building could be discerned, with windows lit by lascivious red lamps. The rooftop was bordered on either side by the darkened forms of enormous trees. Yet each of them was more than three hundred feet away, so there was no fear of penniless perverts trying to use them to get a free peek at the action.
“Here’s the key, sir. I’ll be going now.”
Both the madam’s words and the sound of the descending elevator faded, and as Balcon started down the torch-lit pathway, his eyes were already shamefully bloodshot and his breathing ragged while his tongue hung out. As a matter of fact, he’d even forgotten all about the bodyguard following along behind him. However, and perhaps this was to be expected for someone of his sort, there was one tiny point of risk management of which he remained aware: the sound of his bodyguard’s footsteps. As long as they continued to trail after him, he would be safe.
At first glance, the man simply looked like a tall lady-killer, but in the “Capital of the West” he was counted among the five best warriors. His specialty was the throwing knives that he had concealed within his suit coat. Balcon himself had seen the man drop five flame beasts charging at a hundred twenty miles per hour in a second.
In the time it took him to reach the door and use the key to open it, there was no change at all to the sound of his bodyguard’s steps.
The room he entered was a small but lavish living room, and next to it was the bedroom. As Balcon surveyed the bizarre implements of torture laid out in the living room, his face seemed to melt in rapture. For what he excelled at was tormenting tender young girls with the cruelest of devices. Seeing the girl tied spread-eagled on the bed in a bedroom without curtains or screens, he was positive that tonight would indeed be pleasurable. With her limbs lashed to the four bedposts by cords, the girl apparently hadn’t been drugged at all, and as she noticed Balcon approaching, she struggled madly. It went without saying that nothing could excite a man like him more than that. A black whip in one hand and an electric cattle prod in the other, he stood at the foot of the bed and focused a gaze that could no longer even be described as human on the crotch protected only by the girl’s thin pair of panties.
“There’s a good girl, missy. Uncle Balcon’s going to have fun with you all night long.”
And saying this, he held the cattle prod up so the gagged girl could see him switch it on. Blue lightning danced across the tip of it, making the girl’s eyes go wide in terror. And that was everything he desired in a woman.
“We’ll start out with the light stuff. This prod. Come now, there’s nothing to be afraid of. All I’m going to do is singe your privates a little, okay?”
But even as he started to bring the cattle prod down between her thighs, the girl didn’t move a muscle. Her eyes were staring right at Balcon—no, over his shoulder, and on realizing this, he also noticed that the young girl’s gaze didn’t contain the merest hint of fear.
As he was about to turn, the man felt an icy steel grip close on the scruff of his neck and the wrist of the hand that held the cattle prod, freezing the portly Mr. Balcon solid. Slowly craning his neck around, he looked over his shoulder and managed to see a dark figure—a handsome young man in black. However, this beauty was neither that of Balcon’s familiar bodyguard, nor that of anything of this world.
Beneath her gag, the girl shouted something. Although the cloth stuffed in her mouth prevented any words from escaping, she’d exclaimed, “D!”
HUNTING THE HUNTER
Indeed, it was D that stood there.
But how had he found this place? Or reached the rooftop? And how had he managed to sneak into the penthouse, of all places? Even with his senses blurred by the pink glow of lust, hadn’t Balcon still focused on the sound of the footsteps behind him that reached the penthouse without him ever detecting anything out of the ordinary?
“Who—who the hell are you?!”
Although there was no way Balcon’s windpipe could be crushed by a hand gripping the scruff of his neck, his face already looked purple. It was due to an incredible strength, and to the ghastly aura billowing at him from the face of unearthly beauty right before his eyes. One of D’s hands released Balcon, and then there was a swoosh through the air as freedom was restored to all four of May’s limbs.
Intense, ungodly—there was just no way to describe his skill with a sword.
Balcon wasn’t even watching. Though agonized and on the verge of asphyxiation, he could only gaze at the gorgeous visage in adoration. It was at that point that he finally remembered the name of the young man.
“Such a . . . looker . . . It couldn’t be—you couldn’t be . . . D?”
“Besides her, there was supposed to be another ‘new girl,’” the young man in black said in a low voice.
To Balcon, the voice seemed that of a demon of darkness, immeasurably heavy as it echoed from the depths of the earth.
“Where is she?”
Did that mean that D had come for Taki and May?
Having been splayed out so indecently, May was still ashamed even now that she was free, and something hot spilled from her eyes.
“I—I don’t know. There were some good girls . . . that’s all I heard. A young one and one not so young . . . and when they asked which I wanted, I asked the ages . . . and chose the young one . . .”
“I know!” May shouted as she wiped away her tears. “They’ve taken Ms. Taki to ‘the castle.’”
A gasp squeaked from “Porky’s” throat.
Putting more strength into the fingers around the base of the man’s neck, D asked, “You know anything about that?”
“Well . . . uh . . . if you’re talking about castles around here . . . Lord Vlad’s is the only one. Come to mention it . . . he also has a real taste for . . . young girls’ blood.”
And having said this much, Balcon gave a squeal and lost consciousness. D had finally pressed all the way down to his windpipe.
Making a light swing of one arm with the clumsily collapsing blob of flesh, the Hunter sent the man flying all the way to the far wall of the bedroom, which he crashed against before moving no more.
“Thank you,” May said as she stood up, already dressed in the clothes that’d been discarded by her pillow.
Though D’s question was clinically cold, his voice seemed to come from heaven above.
“Let’s go,” D said, turning his back to her and walking toward the door.
Following after him, May stepped outside, where t
Aside from the fact that D had overheard talk of “new girls they just got in today” back at the Rivers Inn and had followed Balcon’s carriage out here, the manner in which he’d managed to get up to the penthouse without drawing anyone’s attention now became clear. To wit, there was a special wire thin as a spider’s web stretching from a branch of one of those trees three hundred feet away and wound around the roof’s railing, and the Hunter had come across it. It went without saying there was a grappling hook at the end of the wire. Throwing it three hundred feet through wild night winds was no great challenge for D.
The house was surrounded by a pair of moats and three sets of walls, with electronic eyes and human guards maintaining a strict level of security round the clock, and even for D it must’ve proved moderately difficult to sneak in, but there was no time to waste in taking care of the dirty old man.
However, he hadn’t known Balcon would be going to the penthouse, and when he got over onto the roof, it was purely good fortune that he ran into the pig of a man coming out of the elevator. After the madam left, the Hunter had knocked out the bodyguard and followed the fat man into the penthouse. Only someone with D’s ungodly skill could’ve kept Balcon from hearing any change in the sound of the footsteps to his rear.
But D’s feet came to a sudden halt then.
Shocked, May leapt off to one side and hid behind the iron pillar of what seemed to be a laser antenna. Though she looked as hard as she could, she couldn’t make out anything aside from the prone figure.
But then that shadowy figure got right up. The motion was so fluid, it almost seemed he must’ve laid down on purpose from the very start. Without a second to lose, there was a flash from his right hand. Although the knives flew with the speed of a swallow, it was perfectly natural coming from the bodyguard in whom Balcon had had such complete trust. But D batted one after another aside with his bare hands, catching the very last in his left hand and using it to split the bodyguard’s head like a piece of bamboo before hurling it off into the darkness to one side.