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The Fox and the Son of the Dragon

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The black coach rolled through the desert night in near silence, almost invisible. Almost.  The small group of bandits had it in their sights. It looked like easy pickings. A single driver, no escort. While they couldn't see into the coach they doubted the occupants would put up much of a struggle.

One of the bandits, a scrawny runt called Benito, looked nervously at the storm clouds above them.  He hoped it wouldn't start raining.  He also hoped they wouldn't run into Zorro; they were too close to the edges of his territory.  He'd heard enough about him to know it would be a bad idea to tangle with him, and he certainly didn't believe the rumors that Zorro had been killed. It was a large reason why he'd wished that Juan had chosen somewhere else for them to strike, but Juan was the leader, and Benito knew better than to protest out loud. He crouched lower as he waited for Juan's signal.

When the coach passed into the hills, they attacked. The driver stopped with a curious air of indifference and sat unmoving in his seat. Juan covered him while Benito approached the door of the coach and the other two men got themselves into position nearby. To Benito's surprise, the door opened slowly as of its own accord, and a man stepped out of the carriage.  Tall, pale, and aristocratic, the man stared at the bandit calmly with no trace of fear, his long black traveling cape billowing in the wind as he walked toward Benito. Benito struggled to keep his pistol from shaking as he looked into the cold, blue eyes.

"Stop right there, señor," Benito said, trying to sound sure of himself.  "I don't want to hurt you."

"I'm sure you don't," the man said in a low, sinister tone, not stopping at all. "Unfortunately, I do want to hurt you."

He was almost on Benito who, terrified, fired the pistol point-blank at the strange man.  It didn't even halt him.  From beside the coach came a scream from Juan, but Benito stood frozen in horror as the man reached for him, his eyes now glowing red.  "Madre de Dios, what are you?" he whispered.

"Your doom," was the last thing Benito heard in this world.

***

Ten minutes later, the man was wiping the last traces of blood from his mouth while his driver finished looting the bodies. 

"Anything valuable, Boris?" he asked indifferently.

Boris stood up. Like his master, he was unusually tall though not nearly so pale. "Nothing to speak of, my lord Dracula," he replied, slipping a knife into his belt and a small money bag that was miraculously free of blood into his pocket.  "And I marked them all as you instructed.  But I must wonder why, my lord.  I thought he was dead.  What is the point?"

"Whether he is or isn't dead is immaterial.  What matters is what we can do with his reputation. It may make our business easier to manage." Dracula glanced down at the body of Juan.  "You know, Boris, I think your aim is slipping.  Your knife went a bit high when you killed this one."

"Well, you were the one who let the little one shoot you.  The pistol shot startled him and threw off my aim." He looked around at the other bodies.  "Do we need to do anything else with these? They won't... rise, will they?"

"No, they weren't interesting enough, and you know I prefer... gentler company. Leave them for the vultures. We have more pressing business ahead."

"As you say, my lord." Boris looked up at the sky and then his seat on the coach, before saying, "If you could hold back the rain until we reach our destination, I would appreciate it."

Looking up at the heavy storm clouds with a slight smile, Dracula said, "It is difficult, but I will try.  I think you're getting soft."

Boris didn't deign to reply as his master reentered the coach. A minute later he was in his seat and starting the coach back on its journey toward the pueblo of Los Angeles.