Chapter 0 - Aaron: A Vampire Hunter's Tale Book 1

Killarney, Ireland, 1837

Voices from beneath the loft, off in the corner by the hearth, awoke him, and Aaron stilled himself to see if he could tell exactly what his mother and granddad were talking about. They were whispering, but in his eight years, he’d become an excellent eavesdropper. Though his older sisters and brother snored next to him on the mat they shared, he was closest to the ladder, and so he could easily lean just a bit over the edge, and with some concentration, make out what the hushed voices were saying.

“That makes half a dozen this week,” his mother, Bree, was saying as she leaned in next to the elderly man who sat in a rickety chair next to her. Her hair was a dark auburn, curly, and unkempt. Though she was only in her late thirties, she looked tired. Her face was gaunt, and her shoulders stooped, even when she wasn’t leaning forward as she was now. Birthing six children and taking care of the four that survived past the age of two had taken its toll, and Aaron had noticed a significant change in her demeanor since his father had passed away almost three years ago. The mother he remembered from when he was younger smiled, sang him songs, spoke to the chickadees in the backyard. Now, everything seemed draining, and he often worried that something might happen to her as well.

He knew his granddad, Ferris, was only sixty-one last spring, but he, too, looked haggard beyond his years. He often spent his days hunched over in the field, taking care of the meager potato crop, and while Aaron did his best to help, his mother insisted that he also learn to read, write, and do simple arithmetic so that he might have a proper profession someday. While Aaron thought all of that was important, he wanted to be like his older brother, Channing, who was ten and no longer had to sit with his mother for a few hours each day to study.

Ferris McReynolds ran a tired, age-spotted hand through his thinning gray hair and said, “I know, Bree. And it’s takin’ its toll on the wee ones, too. They can hardly do without parents. The more they take, the harder it is for everyone to survive.”

“The English will do somethin’, won’t they?” Bree asked, her expression changing from concern to despair in a second. “Surely, they’ll send someone who can handle them.”

“The English do not care about the Irish,” Granddad said, his voice teetering on losing its whisper. “That I can assure you.”

Bree nodded, as if she truly didn’t need the reminder after all. “Well, if things continue as they are, the resources will all be gone soon enough. Then, the treaty is liable to be broken, and our families will be next.”

Ferris shook his head. “No, that cannot happen. We have an agreement. It must continue to stand.”

“I do not think the Dark Ones care anymore for the Irish than the English do,” Bree replied, clasping her small hands in front of her body. “Perhaps it will be up to our children to make a new arrangement, one where the Dark Ones do not always have the upper hand.”

“Bite your tongue!” Ferris snapped, his whisper becoming harsher. Aaron found himself scooting back a bit away from the unfamiliar sharpness of his granddad’s voice. “If they hear you… we will feel their wrath.”

“If they can hear me in my own home, while the sun is rising, we are already at their mercy far more greatly than I had ever imagined,” Bree reminded him. She stood and began busying herself around the hearth, preparing breakfast for her brood of children who would be up and starving soon. Aaron watched as his granddad opened his mouth and then closed it, as if he wished to say something but wasn’t sure what to say. Eventually, his mother turned back to acknowledge her father-in-law and said, “I will not lose my children.”

d, his face turned upward an

ed, turning back to the pot

ut his mother always called them the Dark Ones despite their alleged translucent skin because they almost never came out to feast unless it was nighttime. Though some of his friends in the village were fearful to climb beneath the blankets at night, Aaron was n


the rest having taken after their mother. Often, people remarked that Aaron looked like his father, Justin, who had been a laborer in the lord’s service when he’d been killed in an accident. Aaron still wasn’t exactly sure what had happened to

looked like a field covered in snow in winter, thus earning her the name Genty, which meant “snow.” She was tall and strong and nearly twice his age; he always thought about how he would miss her when she would lea

t of the ground and tossed it into a basket, “h

erica,” Genty repl

h a shrug. “I thought

s hair. “That, too. They come from

to and wiped his brow on the back of his dirt-covered hand. “Genty, do you e

g her back as one eyebrow arched ove

e,” he reminded her

, I don’t listen to Ma and Granddad. It wouldn’t be

appening around him always felt most important. “I heard them talking about the Dark Ones this morning, Genty.” His voice was a whisper, and even though his other sis

g back on the crops she was collecting. “We are not to

at him. “But Ma and Granddad were, and now, I’m a little

now. “What would make you think such a thought? Gra

ld keep the agreement. What if… what if they come for us, too? Wha

Granddad says we are safe, I believe him. Besides, we have more important things to worry about right now than

stopped crying over a year ago. They all missed him, bu

Ones, little sprite. Now, let’s get these potatoes in before they