Chapter 1: It is Done
"Stay where you are," Abraham commanded sharply.
Dracula stiffened, ruby eyes glowing brightly and cutting through the darkness within the empty cell as they locked onto the hunter. Abraham stood his ground, aiming down his crossbow at the demon. He breathed to keep his heart steady, watching every movement his target made. Dracula's lips pulled back as fangs clenched. The creature’s lanky body, seemingly made of stone, refused to move against Abraham’s command.
Abraham wanted to test the seal, the magic he had shackled and laboriously built around the vampire.
"On your knees," he ordered, tightening his finger on the trigger when the creature began to move. Dracula was a tricky beast. There was nothing barring it from pretending to obey and then attacking him when his guard was down. Nothing, of course, except the vast expanse of the creature’s pride.
Dracula grunted, his motions jerky and heaving. The creature was fighting. It was writhing violently against the ethereal leash. Visibly, however, the vampire fell to its knees, grunting and growling.
Waiting several seconds, watching Dracula, Abraham took a step forward. The vampire's head snapped up, staring hard at him. It shook, facial muscles twitching and fangs grinding together.
Dracula's deep voice hissed, "I will remove your lungs and paint the-"
"Silence," Abraham cut the beast off.
The vampire froze with quivering lungs as the words died within its throat. Abraham’s gaze sharpened and watched the unwilling creature stare back at him with eyes filled with hate.
"Sheathe your fangs," he ordered, continuing to test the vampire and its new chains.
A choked sound rose from the demon. Abraham watched as the vampire's clawed hands clenched into fists. Its head dipped as the demon’s fangs drew into its gums, appearing to shrink until the fangs reached a length that could pass for 'normal', though they were still sharp.
The vampire could do nothing, though it very much wanted to. Abraham could see the creature’s frustration, painted over its face as though it were a canvass. Dracula could not hide its emotions, not now. Nothing prevented the vampire from lunging at him, from attacking and putting an end to the threat and farce. Abraham knew his labors had paid off. This demon would never willingly kneel or obey the tedious commands of a human.
The task was done.
Mist slowly traveled across the path, obscuring fine details from view but not doing much more than giving the dark road an eerie feeling. Abraham rested his wrist on the saddle, holding the reins of his horse loosely in one hand as the creature slowly walked along the dirt road. Beside him, Seward guided his horse in a similar manner, letting the animal find its own way through the thin veil of mist. Following closely behind, Godalming and Quincy rode silently. The group had not spoken a word since leaving the village, letting the silent night blanket them like a soft cloak.
There was no sign of the demon that followed them, no sound or shake of the trees, not even an unnatural gust of wind or shifting of shadow. The creature kept himself completely hidden even from their view. Abraham knew it was there, trailing behind them, however. He could hear soft, otherworldly whispers filling his mind every so often when the creature became excited by the beating hearts of animals hidden in the forest. The bond was fresh, and neither he nor the creature knew how the link worked. Abraham was certain the vampire could hear his own mind, as there had been reactions to mere thoughts. His own access to the beast's mind, however, were undesired and unnerving. Mostly what he caught was a crowd of unnatural whispers, all hissing at once, speaking too softly for him to make out any word. Many times intense, savage emotion filled him along with these sounds.
Quiet laughter echoed in his thoughts whenever one of his allies started at a natural shift in the trees or a gust of wind disturbing the grass and shifting shadow. They all knew the beast was there, for Abraham held its leash. Dracula relished in their anxiety in knowing he was following. Abraham had steeled himself against the creature and its violence, the powerful emotions that washed over him with the whispers, but his fellows were still jumpy with the knowledge of the demon's presence.
Abraham lowered his head, lifting the collar of his coat against the chill wind that had begun to weave itself through the trees. They had encountered no one else on the road since they had left. The villagers they had left behind were more than willing to give them stories of bandits and brigands on the road, along with other less human creatures that prowled for unwary travelers. Abraham was well aware of how jumpy the locals were, and how often they would attribute normal or human activity to the supernatural.
Whispers interrupted his thoughts, filling his mind with the excited buzz of voices he could just barely not make out. While he could not hear the thoughts, per say, there was an overly feeling of desire that entered him. It was a desire for violence, feelings of excitement and mad glee. Then there was a still moment when the single feeling of 'hunger' clawed at his thoughts, almost begging him. Abraham frowned, lifting a hand to warn his fellows. They pulled their horses to a stop, and Abraham squinted into the trees, one hand on the pistol holstered in his coat.
The thoughts buzzing in his mind began to beg at him, targeting him now. The whispers shifted, making the hairs along Abraham's neck lift in caution. A soft, keening mewl joined with the whispers, the voices sounding like so many dead men crying from their graves. Abraham grit his teeth, imagining a wall with doors between him and the voices, and he promptly slammed the doors shut with all the force he could. The mental noise was suddenly gone, leaving his mind quiet and letting him notice just how quiet the forest was around him. The leather of their saddles creaked softly, and nice wildlife called to each other. Breathing slowly, Abraham frowned out into the trees.
"I know you are there," he called. "Show yourself."
A gust whistled through the trees, rattling branches and leaves. For a moment, Abraham thought he heard soft whispers in the wind, but could not be sure if it was in the real world or the demon's mental whispers breaking through his wall. Three horses slipped from the tree line at the right side of the road, slowly moving to position themselves about thirty feet away blocking the road forward. Shifting, Abraham turned to see three more slip from the trees behind, arranging themselves in a similar manner to cage the travelers in.
"Drop your weapons and dismount," one of the riders called.
A small bat flitted overhead, tiny wings franticly beating at the air as it circled around to dodge branches and flowing leaves. Abraham kept his focus on the riders, hand resting lightly on the hilt of his pistol.
“We have nothing of value,” Abraham called in reply. He removed his hand from his pistol, lifting it to stay the nervousness of his allies. “I am a doctor. We are seeking to travel to the home of an ill child.”
There was a foreign pressure against his mental walls. He was aware of the tiny bat overhead, circling them and watching with tiny, pinpricks of crimson.
“Last chance, Doctor. Drop your weapons and dismount.”
Abraham did not move, wondering what he should do. He knew he could damn the attackers with a thought in the bat’s direction, but he wanted to avoid human death where he could.
“We have nothing of value,” Abraham repeated, keeping his hands up.
“Very well,” the man finally called, cocking the hammer of his gun.