Chapter 1: Sacrifice to the Sun
Rukawa flinched when the rays of sunlight that poured out from his bedroom
window made contact with his eyes. It was morning and he hated mornings. He
hated the sun most of all.
He hated the smell of baked bread and melted cheese that his older sister was
preparing in the kitchen. He hated the sound of relentless chattering outside
the streets. He hated the fact that he had to wake up and run errands for his
older brother for the rest of the day and the days that would follow. He hated
the fact that mornings made people brave to come out of their houses, trade
gossips with each other and plan for the next slaughter. It could happen that
afternoon, or could happen tomorrow morning. It didn't matter when, as long as
it happened--and that the sun was up when it did. There was always a slaughter.
And he hated the slaughter too. However, people in this little town loved it and
they were expecting him to love it too. Well he couldn't. How could he?
Rukawa forced himself to stand up, wrapping the thin sheet that was his blanket
around his naked body and clumsily finding his way to the washroom. He splashed
water onto his face, winced when he saw his reflection in the mirror and turned
Taking a deep breath, he began cleaning himself. Through the small window at the
top of the washroom, he could hear the patter of footsteps and carriages out in
the streets. There was too much activity.
Rukawa's heart skipped a bit. Could they have caught him? Impossible. He said he
could never be caught. He said he was too strong and too clever to be caught. It
couldn't be him. Must be some other unfortunate soul that would be offered to
the sun as another sacrifice for the sake of the mundane. What a pity.
Steeling himself, he turned back to the mirror and forced himself to look. It
wasn't that bad. He was paler that morning. No one would notice. He was always
pale. Slowly, he lifted his fingers to brush the right side of his neck where
two small puncture wounds had once been. It's gone now. Of course, it would be
He left the washroom and grudgingly put on a pair of brown pants and a simple
long-sleeved button-down shirt before running a comb through his hair and
descending the stairs to meet the rest of of the waking world which he hated.
His older sister had bread and cheese ready on the table, as always. His brother
was just outside the door, talking to another neighbor, a nice long shotgun in
his left hand. Yes, there was definitely going to be death later on.
His brother turned to him, appraising his person. "You look like shit," he said
distastefully after a while. "Damn, Kaede. Didn't I tell you to get out more.
Get some fucking sun on your skin. If you weren't my brother, I'd swear you were
one of them."
One of them? He might as well be one of them. And did it matter if he was his
brother's brother or not? Death doesn't choose it's victims.
Rukawa shrugged, grabbed some bread and shoved it into his mouth, not really
tasting it. He ate more for the reason that he needed to than he wanted to.
From the doorway, he saw his brother shake his head and spit on the ground like
the disgusting pig that he was. "Get some boots and a jacket on. Got something
to show you. And no, you can't excuse yourself from this one. You're too cooped
up for your own good. It's time to get your wits about and face those monsters
like a man."
Rukawa froze, yet his face registered nothing. "So you did catch one?"
"Yep. If it was up to me, I'd have shot that stinking vermin immediately, but
the damn council wanted a burning ceremony--not that I mind. Burning ceremonies
are always fun."
It's not him, Rukawa told himself. It couldn't be him. Calmly, he raised his
eyes to meet his brother's. "Where is he?"
"I'll take you there. Now get some fucking boots on."
Rukawa immediately sprang into action, slipping on some boots and carelessly
donning a heavy brown jacket that was too big for him in the first place. Must
be his brother's. It smelled terrible.
"Well, come on," his brother said, grabbing his arm roughly and hauling him out
in the street.
Rukawa wished he had worn a hat. The sun was too bright. It hurt his skin and
his eyes. The streets were so full of people. Everyone was talking all at once.
"The creature's tied at the cellar with thick heavy chains," a fat little woman
whispered loudly to a bunch of her friends. "My husband went down there just a
while ago. He says everything's covered to prevent any sunlight from going in."
"I've been down there myself," another woman told them, shivering slightly. "I
didn't get to see the thing, but there were so many torches. The captain said it
was to scare the creature. They're afraid of fire. Fire could hurt them as much
as the sun would."
"The council already set the time. Four o'clock in the afternoon while the sun
is at it's brightest. Are you taking your kids out to see it?"
"If it were up to me, no. But my husband wants them to. To keep them brave and
unafraid of those creatures, he says."
Rukawa turned the group of women off as he ambled after his brother towards the
bar. There were so many people around it, it was a miracle he managed to get
through. Then again, the entire time, his brother was barking like mad and
elbowing people here and there so all he really had to do was walk directly
Here and there, he saw people taking notice of him. Yes. He really was too pale
now. He really should've worn a hat.
His older brother stopped in front of the town captain and greeted him. "Hey
Mac. Got my brother with me. Bringing him down to see that foul animal."
The town captain looked at him then frowned visibly. "You know, that brother of
yours is a tad bit too pale for his own good."
"Kaede enjoys being left alone in the dark too much. I think I've spoilt him,"
his brother rambled on as if he wasn't there. "You've met him before. At the
"You sure?" the captain asked, raising an eyebrow at the younger Rukawa. "I
should've remembered such a pretty face."
His older brother shrugged. "He ain't THAT pretty. Come on, Kaede." He marched
into the pub with Rukawa in tow.
He followed his brother to the back of the bar, down a winding staircase until
they were facing a door where a man with a shotgun stood. "Hey, how are you
doing?" his older brother greeted the man before turning the doorknob and
letting himself in.
For a while, they were walking down a hallway lit with nothing but fire from
torches. At the end was a small room that had a very awful stench.
The moment Rukawa stepped into the room, he heard the sound of chains sliding
against the floor. He stopped. At the corner of the room, he noticed a pair of
bruised and dusty pale feet bound in iron. The light of the torches in the
hallway didn't go so far to reveal more than this though.
"Take a look at the thing, Kaede," his brother told him, standing back. "See how
pathetic it is. You don't have to be scared. The chains are strong and sturdy.
And the thing's very weak."
Then why do you stand so far from him? Kaede wanted to ask out loud but didn't.
Instead, he calmly took a torch from the side and slowly approached.
The feet shifted and tried to withdraw but the chains wouldn't let him go so
When Rukawa decided he was close enough, he lifted the torch up to cast a pale
orange glow on the town's latest prisoner.
He was a sad sight. The clothes he wore were torn, tattered and muddy and he was
bound in chains from neck to foot. His head was bowed and hidden from view. But
his skin was perfect. Dirty but perfect. Whatever wounds the creature had
endured--and Rukawa was willing to bet he endured A LOT of them--his magical
blood had healed.
And then Rukawa looked at his hair. Dark and muddy with bits of dirt clinging
here and there. He almost sighed with relief. Not red. Not him.
"Rukawa! Get your ass up here! The captain needs to talk to you about the
burning ceremony later!" came a sudden shout from the other side of the hall.
Rukawa turned to his older brother who looked none too pleased.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming," his brother shouted back. The older Rukawa gave him a
careless shrug before walking off and disappearing behind the door. The room was
Rukawa returned his attention to the chained one. "What is your name?" he asked
a bit harshly as he took off his brother's jacket, threw it down to the soiled
floor and knelt on it. "Well?"
The poor thing remained unmoving, yet Rukawa sensed his fear. This one was
young. Freshly made, maybe? And young too when made. This was just a boy.
Probably the same age as Rukawa himself. He couldn't tell. The only one he knew
of their kind was HIM. The one who visited him every night. The reason why
Rukawa had grown to hate mornings--to hate the sun. Not because of the monotony
of activity, but because of how it always took his lover away. Away from him.
"You are Hanamichi's human lover, yes?" the boy finally said in a harsh whisper.
Rukawa raised a fine eyebrow. "You know Hanamichi?"
"Everyone knows him," the boy said, finally lifting his face. He had a pleasant
face. Young indeed. Soft brown eyes and finely crafted cheekbones. Such a waste
for this boy to die early. And he WILL die. He was beyond help. Rukawa knew it.
"He's one of the most powerful," the boy whispered, fixing Rukawa with his soft
and calm gaze.
Rukawa couldn't help himself from being fascinated. Did their kind always have
such charisma? Hanamichi always managed to drive him mad using the simplest of
"Like my master," the boy added, voice dropping so low it was barely audible.
But Rukawa heard it.
"What's your name?" he asked again.
"Kogure. Kiminobu Kogure. You are Kaede Rukawa, yes?"
Rukawa nodded. "Who's your master?"
"And where is he?"
Kogure ducked his head, a sob escaping from his throat. "I don't know."
Rukawa reached out and caught Kogure's chin, tilting his face up so that he
could see the blood tears that flowed freely down his cheeks. Rukawa wet his
lips. How many times had he tasted that blood? The blood that Hanamichi would
only give him in tiny little draughts? Slowly, he lent forward until his nose
was only a hairbreadth away from Kogure's cheek. He could smell it now. So
tempting it inflamed him. Were his nights with Hanamichi enough to transform him
into the blood-drinker that his lover was? No, not yet. Not completely. But
enough to make him want it.
Rukawa slowly put the torch to the side and leant closer. He flicked his tongue
out to taste the blood on Kogure's cheek, holding the chained one's head in
place with both his hands. Kogure did nothing. Rukawa knew he was powerful
enough to break from Rukawa's grasp, yet he did nothing. He just sat there,
looking like the lost child that he was and crying.
Rukawa lapped at the blood, took it as it came. For an endless minute, he drank
Kogure's sorrow. And then the tears stopped, and he pulled away.
Kogure's eyes were unreadable when he looked at them. For a while, he dreaded at
having upset the boy, but it was only a fleeting instant. No sooner than he
thought of it did Kogure grant him a small genuine smile.
"I will die today." So sad. So hopeless. So final.
"Yes, you will," Rukawa whispered, moving further away.
"Two months," Kogure said sadly, looking at the torch Rukawa had set aside. It's
fiery red flames making Kogure's eyes golden. "It has been two months since I
last saw the sun. My rebirth was then, and my death is now. How pathetic it must
be for me--when there are those who could last thousands of years in between and
then others who still hasn't reached the other end.
"Two months ago, I dreamt of immortality. Then I tasted it. For a while, I lived
in it. And now--" He didn't finish.
Rukawa felt a strange emotion fill his heart. "If I could do something--"
"I'm sure you would, Kaede," Kogure whispered softly. "I'm sure you would." He
looked up at Rukawa. "Tell me. How does this burning ceremony work?"
"They'll bleed you again to make you weak. Then they'll bring you out into the
sun. And the town will watch you burn."
"Do you think it will hurt?"
Rukawa couldn't lie. "I think it will be really painful. I have endured
afternoons locked in my room . . . and I could still hear their cries."
"I see," Kogure said flatly. "Well then. I should prepare myself. Please go. I
appreciate your company, but I think it would be better if you leave me alone
Rukawa stood up. "I won't be watching later."
"I know. It's good that you won't be watching."
"Can't help me," Kogure cut in gently. "The sun is up and it's blazing strong."
Rukawa nodded wordlessly and turned to leave.
"If you see him," Kogure said, eyes closed now. "If you see him, tell him I
don't regret it. Tell him I don't regret anything."
"All right," Rukawa said, before walking away. When he emerged from the stairs,
his face was impassive. His brother was still engaged in a talk with the town
captain, and then Rukawa remembered about the jacket he had forgotten on the
floor of Kogure's small prison. But he didn't come back for it. He left the pub
and returned home, not looking back.
Rukawa glanced at the small clock that sat on the table beside his bed. It was
almost four o'clock. His brother had been there just a while ago, urging him to
leave the house and watch the "spectacle". But he couldn't.
Eventually, his brother gave up as he was wont to do and left.
Rukawa sat there, watching the minutes tick by. Outside, he heard feet and
carriages rushing towards the town pub, hoping to see the show.
He closed his eyes. He could imagine Kogure being bled. Too weak to do anything,
he'll be unchained. Then covered with a thick and heavy black cloth he'll be
brought up and outside. The townspeople would be standing there now, forming a
circle around the pub.
Rukawa could imagine his brother, looking brave at the side, and yet he wouldn't
be the one to bring Kogure in the center. Wouldn't be the one who would unroll
Kogure from the blanket to face the sun.
And Kogure would lay there, trying vainly to shield himself from the fiery glow
that he could not escape. Too weak to run, perhaps too weak to cry. He heard the
townspeople cheering now. Voices filled with hatred and triumph filtered through
his windows--such useless little things that couldn't keep the sound out.
He imagined Kogure burning now. Dying and leaving this world in a blaze of
glory. Leaving Rukawa with one less person to love, for he realized that he
indeed HAD loved Kogure during their short and sorrowful time together.
Rukawa closed his eyes. Now he had another reason to hate the sun.
~~~ End Part 1 ~~~
Note: Just thought I'd say the writing of this fic was inspired by the very
tragic tale of The Vampire Armand which I had read for the hundredth time last
night (Okay so maybe a hundred is an exaggeration, but you get the idea). *sigh*
Anne Rice is a genius, though I can't seem to figure her out! ;p Don't mind me.