A normal child plays in the park with their friends. The sun would shine down as they ran about playing games, proof of a normal childhood. Maybe they would go to school, do their homework, and be tucked in at night. Those things sounded like they could be pretty nice.
Bella Swan did not do those things as a child.
“Again!” She would hear her bearded uncle, a distant relative on her mother’s side, one who had more or less raised her following the death of her mother, yell out.
The child would often feel her legs scream out in pain as she ran, but she continued to push herself. Pushing herself beyond her limits described much of her early childhood. The sweat would pour down her forehead like a blistering rain, barely doing anything to cool her overheated body. She would sometimes see normal kids doing normal things when she would join her uncle for what he referred to as “regular person errands.” It was the only time Bella ever felt like a normal child with a normal parent.
Soon enough those “regular person errands” would be the only thing she could think about doing, though it faded over time. As she went through puberty, growing older and taller into who she was meant to be. The memories of those normal times faded, as she improved in her form rapidly by her uncle’s teachings. Normal teenagers learned how to do chemistry, Bella learned incredible forms of alchemy. Normal teenagers dissected literature, Bella read endless pages of her family’s diaries to learn from their mistakes.
Normal teenagers studied to become doctors or lawyers. Bell Swan studied to hunt monsters.
The Villa was what it was called, though her uncle referred to it as the Belmont Villa, located on the border of Oregon and Washington. Long ago, Bella had learned her family was slaughtered by the church, but their clan had grown in numbers since its near extinction in the Dark Ages. Her uncle, Julius, was the blood heir to the entire family and she was his closest blood relative, meaning that of the many hunters in their clan, Bella would one day take up her uncle’s position when he passed of either old age or sudden death at the hands of a creature of the night.
Like many other nights, Bella had fallen asleep at her wooden desk while reading for her studies. It was wholly important that hunters knew both theory and practice. Without both, a hunter would likely die in a matter of months. One can only be so lucky in the profession. Like usual, Julius knocked on the door hoping to wake his niece up. His sharp hearing only heard the light breathing and snoring of the seventeen year old, resulting in an eye roll as he opened the door.
“Rise and shine, kiddo!” The bearded man yelled, causing Bella to wake up in a sharp arc of her back.
“I’m awake! I’m always awake!” She yelled, still clearly half asleep and gaining a laugh from the older man.
“Considering you decided to try and catch up on some heavy reading after a day-long training session, I do not believe a word out of your mouth.” Julius chuckled, leaning against the doorway. “Meet me in the dining hall when you’re done getting ready, I have something to discuss with you.”
Bella nodded blankly, yawning again as she attempted to rise out of her chair. Her body screamed at her for sleeping in such a position, more so after it over exerted itself training for about eight to nine hours. Even when she was in better shape than the 90% of people she was supposed to be training to protect, even Bella had her limits for what her body could do. Julius had mentioned that he needed to see where she was at in terms of her weapon mastery. Sword and whip were the two she succeeded in most, the whip being a requirement for her specifically.
Grabbing her normal clothes, the teenager ran off to the shower and prepared herself for her day. Considering Julius hadn’t alerted her to any other doings for the day, as he normally did when he woke her up, she put on clothes that were primarily meant for actual use and not just training. The Villa was an extremely large space, one that the Belmont clan had purchased long ago from the state itself. The area was deemed private property, and housed many different areas and buildings almost like some sort of resort. Only this place was where those who killed creatures of the night lived and trained without prying eyes.
Much like her uncle, Bella had learned to tie her long brown hair up in the back with a long black ribbon, one that laid into the older man’s teachings of: “A Belmont heir needs to look good while they slay the night.” It was a lesson that Bella didn’t quite understand, but one that she followed through with.
Tough beige pants, heavy brown boots, green vest, red scarf, and white button up. She certainly inherited Julius’ wardrobe and it wasn’t one she disliked. Rather, she was almost one-hundred percent sure she pulled the look off better. With her normal possessions in hand, including a wallet with state ID and her pocket journal with her thoughts written, Bella made her way down to the dining hall.
The dining hall was set up for members of the clan to eat and speak with one another in recreation. The Villa was home to four different families, all of which were related to one another in some fashion or another. The first were Julius and Bella, the current only blood members of the Belmont Clan’s original bloodline. For generations the Belmonts fought against the forces of darkness, whittled down by the monsters that they hunted and a church who had them executed for heresy. Some members remained and over time became the Morris Clan, those who were members of the Belmont family but no longer bore the name. Despite that, they continue to hunt under the moniker of the Belmont clan. Then there were the Belnades, some of the most powerful wielders of magic on the planet. Centuries ago, a member of the Belnades married a Belmont, introducing much more powerful magic into the clan’s arsenal. Finally, there were the Lecardes, who while unrelated to the Belmont clan by blood, are their greatest allies in hunting vampires. These four families lived together at the Villa, always learning and always teaching the next generation of protectors.
Julius sipped from a mug of freshly brewed coffee, at his normal seat, with a newspaper in hand. While their family tended to ignore most of the outside world, Julius found it extremely important to keep up on current events. Being a hunter of monsters could make one disconnected, and Julius found that frustrating when integrating into a town on a long-term hunt.
“You said you wanted to talk to me?” Bella asked from behind, causing the older man to nearly choke on his coffee. “Whoops, sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s fine, Bella.” Julius wiped the spilled coffee off his mouth with his sleeve. “Just good to know you’ll kill me far before any monster does.”
“Says the man who killed Dracula.” Bella joked a bit, sitting down across from her mentor. “What was it you wanted to talk about?”
“It’s about why I had you do mastery exam training yesterday.” Julius said, his tone shifting from uncle to mentor mode in an instant. “Truth is, with your eighteenth birthday coming up soon, we can prepare you for lone hunts.”
“R… Really?” Bella was shocked by that. Perhaps, she thought too lowly of herself in some aspects, or just the fact she was turning eighteen soon enough came out of nowhere. “You think I’m ready to hunt a serious target on my own?”
“Indeed I do.” Julius placed his mug down and withdrew a manilla folder from inside of his coat. “This file here contains everything you need for this hunt. A lone hunt is normally set up to prove that an apprentice is prepared fully for what’s to come. Of course, you’ll have us at your call if things prove to be too much for you.”
“Doesn’t that mean I’ve failed if I get to that point?” Bella asked, flinching a bit at the thought of failing the hunt that would decide whether or not she could begin her hunting full time.
“Depends on several factors. Some apprentices are sent on hunts where we underestimated the power of the target… In that case, multiple hunters would normally be dispatched and we evaluate skill level differently. Of course, it’s been years since a Belmont heir has been given the exam. As a result, you’ll be specifically evaluated by myself, Ms. Yoko Belnades, Mr. Robert Morris, and Ms. Hermina Lecarde.”
“Wow… all four of you are going to be breathing down my back, huh?” Bella felt anxiety pang up inside of her. The four heads of the clans would all be evaluating her specifically, as she was the heir to the Belmont name. Bella Swan was the name she held down, the apparent surname of her biological father, one whom she had never met. If she passed this examination, she would finally be given the name of Belmont…
“Only someone of Belmont blood can wield one of our most powerful weapons, the Vampire Killer, Bella. You need to be prepared for that responsibility, and even if you fail here, you’d simply go back to training until you’re ready for it.”
“Yeah, and did you need to be trained like that?” Bella raised an incredulous eyebrow, resulting in a sharp laugh from Julius.
“My training was different from any other in the history of our clan. The Vampire Killer was kept safe amongst the three clans until the time for the Belmont Prophecy to be fulfilled came. The Morris Clan struggled to wield its true power, but they kept it safe until… well I was sent here as a boy to learn.” A sip of his coffee drained what was left in his mug, as he looked down to the folder she held. A nod of the head then led her to open it up, looking within at the papers.
“James?” Bella asked, looking at a blurry photograph of a pale marble-like vampire. “A tracker seen moving towards the Pacific Northwest, with the ability to easily track his prey through his powers.”
“A very difficult vampire to hunt down and kill, due to the fact that a member of his coven can apparently sense danger.” Julius folded his hands.
“That would be Victoria, correct?” Bell asked, continuing to scan all identifiable information gathered by hunters, witnesses, and scouts. “So someone who can find any person he wants and another who can tell when we’re about to strike?”
“Vampires specifically like to believe they’re oh-so better than humans.” Julius explained. “When I killed Dracula in ‘99, permanently, many of them began to think otherwise about our capabilities.”
“Not surprised that this Victoria uses such an ability to her advantage.” Bella chewed on the pages’ contents for a moment. She scanned through all the useful information, regarding possible longevity and how they’re being tracked without triggering Victoria’s danger sense. “You’re hunting them through CCTV footage?”
“And witness reports, yeah.” Julius sighed a little in frustration. “Following after them physically is likely to trigger Victoria’s power. Unfortunately for us, a previous encounter with them had led to the deaths of two members of the Morris clan. A loss for us in more than one way…”
“Because now they’re onto the fact that humans are hunting them?”
“Must be disturbing for them. Say what you will about Dracula… But he had a way with life that no other vampire did. You might even argue that at death, he had become more human than vampire.” Julius mused, before shaking his head a bit in thought. “Forget that though, what I meant by it is what’s important. Most vampires have one major weakness.”
“I know, I know, you taught me all of this in the past. Their sense of superiority as a predator gets in the way of them thinking things through when it comes to hunters.” Bella rolled her eyes slightly as she looked at a map on the next page..
“They fear other vampires and other supernatural beings, but they sometimes fail to fear us.” Julius saw the map opened, before closing his eyes. “The location we believe they are heading to, based on what we’ve gathered, is Forks, Washington. I guess that just makes things easier for us.”
“Why is that easier for us?” Bella raised an eyebrow. “This looks pretty much off in the middle of nowhere like it’s straight out of Twin Peaks.”
“Because… your father is the chief of police in town.”
“M… My father?” Bella had never heard much of her father in the past, outside that his name was Charlie Swan and that he and her deceased mother had divorced sometime after she was born.
“Yes, Charlie Swan is the father you never met. Not of his own fault though, we kept him as safely away from this life as possible.” Julius said. “Listen, Bella, you are the only one left besides myself with the blood of our clan. The Vampire Killer was created specifically for our founder, Leon Belmont. In order to keep anyone else from misusing it, blood magic was used to bind it to our family.”
“Why are you telling me all of this?” Bella gulped a bit, looking away from her uncle.
“We’ve done our reconnaissance, and it seems your father has close ties to shape-shifters in the area. They are human, more or less, only shifting to protect the land from vampires. But we believe he will be your best bet in hopefully tracking down James and Victoria before they can cause any more deaths.”
“The report says they’ve left a string of almost forty murders left unsolved throughout the northern part of the country in the past six months.” Bella took a deep breath to try and calm herself. “And my father…?”
“I’ve done the liberty of calling him.” Julius said. “When your mother died, he was purposefully kept out of the loop regarding what had killed her. All he knew was that another relative had gained custody.”
“He didn’t fight to gain custody of me?” Bella asked, feeling a bit hurt at that thought.
“I spoke to him sometime after the funeral. He wanted to meet you and have a relationship with you, but at the time he was afraid of pulling you out of the life of the young you did know.” Julius rubbed the bridge of his nose. “When your mother was killed, I knew that it was only time before you were hunted as well.”
“Him being a police officer wouldn’t protect me…” Bella looked down, conflicted. “I don’t know how to feel about all of that…”
“Listen, it’s better to process this stuff over time.” Julius stood up, and extended a hand. “Doing it all at once is only bound to drive you up a wall.”
“How do you know that?” Bella asked.
“You and I are alike, Bella. More than you’d guess. Right now, though, you’re on your way to becoming a vampire huntress unlike any other.”
The girl grabbed onto his hand, as he lifted her to her feet.
“So I have to go to Forks, kill some vampires and meet my dad?” Bella took a deep breath. “Sounds like a lot for a final examination of my skills. Especially since living like a normal person sounds… generally hard.”
“Come on, kiddo, you think that’s bad?” Julius put his arf around his niece as they walked out of the dining hall. “I had to kill Dracula for my final test!”
“Pfft, and you won that fight, didn’t you?” Bella asked, smirking a bit at her uncle, who just laughed in response.