Iruka was on edge. He had reached the pub that Tsunade had mentioned in her message, and the street was empty. Everything had closed up for the night, so no one was around, since there wasn’t any point in visiting this district; but considering there was a pub here, it should have been anything but quiet.
So that meant either one of two things: Kakashi had done his job before he disappeared, and the pub was closed for clean up, or the vampire situation was worse than everyone thought, and the entire pub was now a coven base, and closed off to the public. If it was the latter, Iruka had to be very careful, or Tsunade may have to send people to investigate his disappearance, too.
With that thought in mind, Iruka approached the pub; and eyeing off the ‘Closed’ sign at the front, snuck around the building to find another entrance. More often than not, if vampires were involved, these buildings said that they were closed, and the front would probably be locked, but there was always at least one door that was unlocked - vampires generally didn’t need the security that humans did, and thieves who broke in were easy meals.
Iruka made his way through the alleyway that separated the pub from the shop next to it, and followed the path past the overflowing industrial bins, right to the very back; and when he reached the gravelly back area, and saw dark stains and ashes scattered across the ground, he quickly reached for his stake, now on high alert. There had clearly been a fight here, and things didn’t look good.
When nothing jumped out at him, Iruka eased a little, and used his free hand to grab his torch and turn it on to investigate the area more properly; and when the light shone on the ground, nausea swirled in his gut. There ashes scattered across the ground were enough for at least three or four dead vampires; and those stains, all shining bright blue when he switched his torch to its UV setting, were definitely blood, and, whilst all dried up, still seemed fresh enough to be from about a week earlier; and, knowing that vampires would never waste their food like this, Iruka was sure it was Kakashi’s.
The idea made him feel so sick, because he had worked with Kakashi before, and knew how competent he was, and that he should have been able to handle a job like this easily, without much bloodshed, so for him to have bled this much meant that something had gone horribly wrong. Were there more vampires than anticipated? Did they attack him off-guard?
Iruka continued on cautiously towards the back metal door, which was dented where someone, or some thing had slammed into it; and he carefully pushed it open, not sure what to expect on the other side. After a few seconds of nothing, Iruka entered the building, aiming his UV light at the entrance as he stepped through; and looked around.
He was in the kitchen, which was mostly clean, besides one old cling-wrapped tray of prepped food that the last person on shift hadn’t had a chance to put away before they were attacked by vampires; and looking around, there didn’t seem to be anyone, or any vampires here. In fact, the more he tried to listen out for life, the more silent and deserted the area seemed to feel - he didn’t even feel like he was being watched; so, finding nothing of interest in the area, he moved on.
The doorway Iruka entered took him to the bar and dining room; and as he shone his torch around, keeping the UV light on in case a vampire was waiting to ambush him, he saw an alarming amount of bright blue marks. He knew that not all of it would be blood, as this was a pub, and things got spilled all the time, and that if he did find blood, there was a good chance it wasn’t related to vampires, because again, it was a pub , and people had probably fought and had medical emergencies here; but he was still weary, and looking out for more. If Kakashi had started bleeding outside, then surely, he would have left a trail in here, too…
As Iruka explored the dining area, he didn’t find any stains that spelled out blood , but he did spot a couple of piles of dust on the carpet, and flicked his torch to its plain setting to take a better look at the suspicious mess. Just as he expected, they were vampire ashes; and that concerned him, because this was supposed to be a small coven, so four to six vampires; and he’d barely searched the building and had already found evidence of that many taken down. Just how many vampires had Kakashi been up against? How could someone get such an important detail about the coven size so wrong?
When Iruka was satisfied with his job in the dining room, he moved on to the bathrooms, and found another clump of ashes in the women’s one; and when he left again, he took a moment to scan the pub with his torch, figuring out where to go next, when a really awful smell hit his nose. It smelled like rotting meat, but worse, with a disgusting sickly sweetness to it; and it made him feel really nauseous, not just because it was sickening, but because in his years of being a vampire slayer, he recognised the stench to be of a dead body; and if it was a dead body… Well, with Kakashi missing, his mind was wandering in awful places, assuming horrible things.
Iruka shook his head, and continued on, following the scent. The only way he’d be able to write off his fears was by seeing for himself what the source really was.
The bad smell led Iruka to a small flight of stairs that was supposed to be locked up and secure by a door that needs an electronic key, for patrons staying in one of the rooms above, but the door was instead propped open and the alarm system disabled, probably for vampires to come and go as they pleased.
As Iruka went up, he was less tense than when he first arrived, because the fact that there was a decomposing dead body up there probably meant that there weren’t any vampires waiting for him, because they had better senses than him, and he doubted any of them would want to live around the stench.
About halfway up, Iruka confirmed his assumptions when he saw a couple of piles of ashes scattered along the stairs; but even though Kakashi had clearly taken out the vampires that had been up here, he still continued on, because what if Kakashi was still up there and hadn’t been able to move all this time because of life-threatening wounds? What if he was unconscious, and needed immediate help?
Iruka picked up the pace; and at the top of the building, when the stench became unbearable, he half-buried his nose in his jacket in an attempt to block it out; and as he looked around, he saw five rooms and a bathroom, all with their doors wide open. He went through them one by one, moving much more quickly through the two that had dead bodies in them; and when he saw no sign of Kakashi, nor any vampires that hadn’t been taken care of, he went back downstairs to see if there were any more hidey-holes he’d missed.
When Iruka came back to the dining room, he stood at the doorway, and took a long, scrutinising look around the area; and his eyes landed on the bar. It looked pretty small, and didn’t seem stocked with much alcohol - there was maybe a couple of day’s worth there; and it made him wonder where the rest was kept, because the pub surely wouldn’t be this low. He didn’t recall seeing any in the kitchen area with all the other food when he had been in there, so there had to be another room somewhere…
Iruka wandered over to the bar, and as he got closer, the smell of alcohol became really strong; and when he saw several broken bottles on the ground, he quickly flicked his torch to UV light, and gripped ahold of his stake. Not only had a fight been here, there was more blood; and it looked like someone had been dragged off.
Iruka studied the trail, following it straight to a red velvet curtain draped down the wall on one side of the bar; and when he approached it and pulled the curtain aside, his eyes narrowed when he saw a door behind it marked ‘Bar Staff Only’. He reached for the handle, and pulled down, only to find that it was locked; and as he searched for something to hang the curtain into so he could try and pick the lock, he saw a small hook near the top of a display shelf that showcased a few bottles of alcohol people could choose from, and hanging off it was a small steel key.
Iruka grabbed the key and tried it on the lock; and when it opened with a little click , he opened the door, pocketed the key, and shone his torch through the entrance, to a flight of stairs that crept into an eerie darkness down below, the only light being vibrant blue droplets where the UV light was picking up the continuing trail of blood. He swallowed nervously as he stared down into the abyss. What would he find? Was this where Kakashi was? Would he still be alive?
Iruka shook his head, clearing his mind of dark thoughts, and began his descent downstairs. If Kakashi was down there, he was going to be alive. He had to be.
The further Iruka went down, the cooler the air became, with icy tendrils wrapping around his exposed skin and trying to poke through his clothes to cover him all over; and by the time he reached the base of the stairs, his breath was billowing out in foggy clouds like he was an ice dragon making frost with its breath.
The cold told him he was far enough below ground that not even a single ray of sun would ever reach here; and that made him more tense, because if he had to fight vampires down here, then he wouldn’t be able to rely on the slowly rising sun to save him, as it had many times before. He was completely on his own.
Up ahead was a small brick tunnel that had light bulbs fixed along the wall; and after a little searching, Iruka found a switch beside him. When he flicked it, the bulbs turned on, illuminating the tunnel with a dim, golden light; and as Iruka looked straight ahead, he saw a wooden door with a slot of metal bars built into it around eye level, waiting for him on the other side.
With no enemies in sight, Iruka hurried forward, still continuing to be as quiet as possible, and made his way to the door, his mind running wild with all the possible things he would possibly see behind it.
Finally, he was there; and he peeked into the barred slot to see what he would find, but it was pitch black, so he aimed his torch inside to get some light in. From where he was standing, he could see boxes stacked on the floor of various brands of alcohol, and some shelves filled with bottles; but that was all he could get a glimpse on in the tiny space he’d been looking through; so he stepped back to open the door.
There were two large latch locks on the top and bottom of the door keeping it shut; and much to Iruka’s relief, there were no padlocks on the latches, so all he had to do was slide the mechanisms apart. He unlocked and opened the door with ease, and stepped inside the cellar, holding his stake and UV light ready, in case there was a vampire waiting in ambush; and began to look around.
At first glance, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, since there were no broken bottles or signs of activity in the cellar, but Iruka could see the trail of blood he’d been following under the dim light of the tunnel’s bulbs; and as he followed it towards the back of the room, he could make out a strange silhouette behind the shelving, and his stomach began to churn. What was he going to find?
Finally, Iruka passed the shelves and reached the back area; and for a moment, all he could do was stare in horror at the scene before him.
There was a beaten and bruised person chained to the wall, their body pale, and still; and blood stained their clothes, and the floor beneath them. Iruka didn’t know whether they were unconscious or dead, but just as he was about to step forward and check, the prisoner groaned and weakly lifted their head to see who was there; and when Iruka made eye contact with them he gasped.
“K-Kakashi!” He exclaimed in alarm, rushing over.
What did they do to you?!