Screams filled the cool night air. Little specs of glowing ash floated through the air, rising from the large mass of burning flames. The small village was burning, what had started as a simple witch hunt and turned to terror for the residents of Cadia. Talk of a witch among the rural village had spread quickly the last few days, setting all the residents on edge and leaving the officials of the village with talk of finding her and expelling the evil. The accused witch was a young woman, dark-skinned and foreign to Othea. Having only lived in the small mountain village of Cadia for a short time, it had been a surprise to the people when the allegations were brought up by the church's bishop. It had only been two days until they showed up at the front door of her home. Inside the sight of books piled high, unfamiliar languages and peculiar symbols prompted them to grab the girl, leading her to the village center that night.
She had stood there, tied tightly in place, a crowd had formed to watch the burning of the witch. The young woman spent the whole time up there yelling, pleading. "I am no witch!" She'd yell, "They're just books, just words- they hold now meaning to witchcraft!"
"Observe, the fruitless efforts of a witch trying to save herself. Do not be fooled, the unholy who dare toy with such blasphemy mustn't be sympathized with! Burn her!"
The fire spread around the thrashing body of the young woman, glowing flames enveloping her and her screams. The villagers cheered, the evil was gone, to be burned to ash, or so they thought.
As the young woman withered against flames, caged in and left with no escape, she heard a voice. A voice thick with accent, deep and thought she'd never heard it before, it was almost familiar. A face appeared within the fire, it was hard to make out many details, but she could see it. "Nadia" the voice spoke, rich and raspy. "Nadia… it seems this chapter of our journey has come to an end here at this stake." The pain of burning had subsided, leaving Nadia to stand within flames confused. Her expression shifted slowly, realization dawning on her features.
"It's you- but you are only legend!" She gasped, "that book- that book was only legend."
The face let out a hearty laugh, "you humans, always so doubtful. Even with the time you've spent with that book, you still haven't a clue." The fire around the face shifted, swirling as what looked like an arm extended towards her. "Take my hand Nadia and you will be saved. Your mind remains blocked, the devotion you have shown to me will soon be rewarded."
Nadia hadn't a clue what he was talking about, however, the familiarity of his voice brought her to left her arm, finding that the rope around her wrists had burned away. She grabbed for the hand of fire and when she did a light appeared, the face gone as the light exploded into brilliant white beams. The burning fire exploded as well, sending the crowd running, only to find that the fire had begun to spread. In minutes all the homes, shops, and the church was all in flames. Black smoke pouring into the airs as screams rose and people rain from the roaring fire. Nadia was nowhere in sight, having disappeared.
"Did you hear about what happened to Cadia?"
"Aye, the whole place was burned to dust, said a witch did it."
"I heard otherwise, heard the devil himself appeared and set the mountain ablaze."
The bartender before the two men scoffed in amusement, "I heard no such thing, the devil" he laughed, "no, rumors say it was someone worse."
"Worse than the devil?"
"Aye, heard it was Dracula."
Heavy laughs burst from the men, "Dracula?" The first spat out. "Just a wise tale, no such man."
"Not a man, a monster." The men shared another laugh, the bartender dropping a pair of new drinks in front of the men, who were still speaking of the silly accusation that Dracula had shown himself in Cadia that night.
"Dracula is no wise tale." A voice sudden spoke up from the figure of a woman standing from her tale. "He's real alright, forgotten to time, but certainly real."
"Tch, we don't need to hear the silly speech of a woman."
"I'd listen if I were you" the bartender spoke, "Dracula is no legend."
The woman walked up, boots heavy against the creaking wood floor, "Dracula terrorized Othea centuries ago. Killing, taking the land for himself. Creator of the demons that stalk the night, sucking the unsuspecting dry of blood. He was great in all the wrong ways, a true monster. Dracula was there that night, I have no doubt about it."
"If he was real, then where'd he go? I don't see a big bad monster coming for us." One of the men slurred, a bit tipsy, though still ready to argue.
"Dracula disappeared a long time ago, but Lucio did not." The woman smiled, haven taking a seat between the men. "Nadia was the accused witch in Cadia, they found many books of dark to back up their claim, however, the symbol of Lucio had been what made them take her to stake."
"And just what is this, Lucio?"
"It's a book said to bear the mark of Dracula. The book of Lucio brings terror to those who lay eyes on the words written inside. Cursed, it is. I'd reckon Nadia fell into the books trap, drawing in by Dracula himself to carry out his commands. In the end, he came for her, took pity on her loyalty ad saved her. Quite sad really, an unsuspecting girl drug into Dracula's clutches."
"How do you know all this?"
"I have my sources." The woman replied, "I've seen the book myself, never read it, but seen it. A scary sight it is." The men scoffed, rolling their eyes and looking back to their drinks to dismiss the woman. She only sighed, and got up to leave the small tavern. Outside she drew her red hood closed as the chilly air hit her. She left the town, heading down the dirt trail of the forest, leading her to the cliffside. She walked to the edge of the cliff, kneeling down and opening her bag. She pulled out a thick book. It was bound with black leather, pages inside yellowing from age, and the dill silver of a chain was seen securing it closed. She looked down at the cover, a metal insignia was pressed into its cover. It was gold and in the shape of a demonish head. Red eyes, large horns, thick fangs present it its open mouth. The image of a vampire of some sorts, bat wings coming from behind either side of his head. Just about the image, small spaced lettering could be seen. "Dracula" was inscribed in red ink.
The woman looked down at it for a moment longer before standing back up."Damned book has brought nothing but evil to our world. Nadia was not the first, though I hope she may be the last to suffer at the hands of this monster." She looked down at the raging sea over the cliff before letting the book fly from her hold and to fall to the dark sea. "May that curse never come into contact with anyone again and may Dracula remain in hiding, never to claim our world again."