One year. That's how long Trevor had been wandering. That's how long it had been since he watched his house burn, the rest of the Belmont family trapped inside.
Lost in thought, he nearly tripped over a root. Damn. Still hungover enough that it affected his movement, but not nearly drunk enough to keep the intrusive thoughts at bay.
When he started wandering, he hadn't been sure how long it would last. As an excommunicant from the church, Trevor had been sure he would be kicked out of Wallachia. Forcibly. Yet no one tracked him down to do so. No one from the church, and not the locals. Not yet, anyway.
Thus, Trevor slowly made his way through Wallachia, bouncing between small towns. Sometimes he would get lucky enough to hear of a job: help gather extra lumber, or take out the werewolf terrorizing the shepherds. The coin was something, usually just enough to get him some alcohol and enough food to keep his feet moving. He never gave his name, not if he could help it. As far as the peasants were concerned, the Belmonts were dead. And maybe he was, in a way.
He passed yet another small house, and realized he must be getting closer to the city, Târgoviște. Trevor did not plan on going in--too much church authority there--but he figured he could spend one or even two days in the area outside before it became dangerous. Farmers, ranchers, and other down-to-earth folk could be big gossips, but it hardly ever reached father than the few homes in their own community.
When the houses became more clustered, he eyed possible places to sleep. While the sun was still high in the sky, locating a quiet place to retreat was always top priority for the excommunicant; besides locating a tavern, anyway.
After making note of a particularly private storage for hay and makeshift chicken yard, he headed closer to the center of the little community, in search of a drink. Never too early to start.
It was the eerie stillness and hushed whispers which made his hunter trained senses perk up. Afternoon should have been a lively time, with people still working, either rushing to and fro with chores or making noise from within their houses. Yet... nothing. Like the whole little town was in on something he wasn't. It made Trevor anxious.
So when he heard raised voices--violent, persistent yells--coming from near the forest edge, he hesitated. How much did he care?
He wanted to forget it. To keep moving to where the tavern might be, get a drink, go to sleep, leave town. Maybe skip all that and find another tavern around Târgoviște. He had time in the day.
His traitorous feet stopped. Trevor sighed. He definitely wasn't drunk enough. His feet carried him towards the noise.
He found out quickly enough the yells came from a mob. A small one, with only a few impromptu weapons, but he kept his head low and stayed back regardless. He could almost smell their fear, and fear did terrible things to people.
They all seemed to be marching towards a large house, just a short path away from the rest of the village. Whatever family owned it must have been quite well off.
Except when one of the men was brave enough to knock, harshly, on the door--the others staying back and muttering amongst themselves--only a woman, in simple clothes and light hair held in a messy braid, answered. A servant?
But the villagers weren't surprised to see her. The man took hold of the woman by her upper arm and dragged her towards the rest of the mob. Trevor moved up behind the turbulent group, paying attention to what they were saying now.
"Lisa Țepeș!" A man garbed in rich priest robes stepped forth, the crowd parting around him. "You are accused by the church of practicing witchcraft, and consorting with, even marrying, the devil himself!"
Trevor could hear the disgusted, pompous sneer in the man's voice, and the crowd was getting more and more raucous. Without his conscious consent he moved closer, taking to the trees for cover, so eventually he could see the priest and woman--Lisa--without anyone blocking his view.
"By order of the bishop, you are to be brought before the cathedral of Târgoviște, where you will burn at the stake."
"No, you don't understand," Lisa said, her voice rising to sound over the yells of the mob, "I am a doctor. I make medicines-"
Her voice cut off with a sharp slap to her face, her head turning as she stumbled; The man who had been holding her now loomed over her, expression twisted.
Trevor was caught up in horror. His legs shook, and he wanted to run. He couldn't. His family's screams rose up from the depths of his mind, burning, burning...
Before he'd had time to contemplate his actions, he jumped from the treeline, sprinting past to the fallen woman to ram his shoulder into her attacker. Rewarded with a grunt and surprised stagger, Trevor reeled his arm back and punched the man hard in the face, sending him flat on his back with what had to be a broken nose, judging by the blood.
Trevor knew the man would no longer be an issue, so instead directed his words at Lisa.
"Get up," Trevor commanded. He faced the mob, knowing the element of surprise was wearing off quickly. "Now! Get up and run now!"
Lisa did not seem to need any more instruction, standing up as quickly as she could and sprinting for the trees behind her home.
"The witch-! Do not let the witch escape!"
Several people broke off from the crowd at the priest's call, but Trevor planted himself firmly in front of them, family whip uncoiled in his hand. Strikes landed just before their feet, the quick movements and loud cracking sounds enough to halt the pursuers.
"Sorry, but it looks like the lady just isn't interested." Trevor tensed for an attack, but tried for a smile. It felt sarcastic and apathetic, even to him. "How about we just all go home. Honestly, you could all be doing more productive things than chasing some poor woman through the woods."
Most of the people within the mob were hesitating. It was only natural, they were common folk, not warriors. They were out here because of whatever lies the church had fed them. And like the mere thought gave him power, the priest chose that moment to speak up.
"Your whip, and that crest..." Trevor looked down. Damn. But when using his whip, it was almost impossible for his cloak to keep it hidden. "You're a Belmont."
The accusation was enough to send ripples of disapproval and anger across the crowd, and they were worked up again. Trevor clenched his teeth to keep from yelling back; The same sort of mindless following killed his family, had almost killed the doctor they came for, Lisa. His heart burned.
"Oh, you didn't know you had one of us still running around? Didn't your bishop tell you? Or maybe he was too busy trying to find innocent women and children to burn."
Honestly, he knew he should have kept his mouth shut, it wasn't endearing him to the crowd. The priest held up a hand to quiet them some and surveyed Trevor with a calculating look which shouldn't be on the face of any holy man.
"I had heard the Belmonts burned for associating with demons, and here you are, assisting a witch with escape." The crowd yelled at him, some curses on his family, other worrying for the safety of the village. "We shall bring you before the bishop, since you have interrupted his work. He shall decide what God intends for you."
Trevor snorted. Yeah. God. Apparently the declaration was enough to get the people moving again; the few men Trevor had stopped came at him. They circled around, using their numbers to keep him surrounded.
The whip was useful in keeping a distance around himself, but he couldn't continue cracking at them forever. Each solid hit had the person who received it reel back, but they were quickly replaced by others.
Trevor's muscles burned, and he had a few bruises from stray hits with shovels and fists. "No pitchforks?" he couldn't help but taunt, "What, did the church not have the funding to provide you with proper mob weaponry?"
"Shut your mouth, demon!" One of the men got close enough to land a hard hit to Trevor's jaw, and he turned with it, spitting blood.
Another man behind him jabbed a fist in his side, knocking him into the arms of two more. Despite his struggles, they had control over his arms, and more men to hit his face and gut until he stopped, slumped. His whip was tugged from his hands.
Trevor tried to breathe past his bruises, looking up through eyes already swelling. The priest stood over him, looking pleased at the state of his quarry.
"You will face judgement before the Lord, sinner."
"For what?" Trevor spat, blood trickling down his lips. "Shielding the weak? Guess I missed the lesson where that was wrong."
The priest's amusement faltered, but his pride did not. "For aiding and abetting the evil of your kind."
"My kind," Trevor said in a low growl.
"Witches. Practitioners of dark magic, and other unnatural creatures of the night."
How dare he. How dare he accuse any Belmont of that. Trevor lunged forward, but his captors kept him under control, giving him another bruise for his trouble.
The priest looked at the men holding Trevor. "Bring him."
"But, Father, what of the witch?"
"She can not have gone far," the priest said. "Keep an eye on the house and in the woods."
Dragged unceremoniously by the simple villagers, hissing and vicious murmurs surrounding him, Trevor knew he was beat. A glance to the side revealed that someone carried his whip, but he held no illusions about getting it back. The trees held no clue about Lisa, and he could only hope she had escaped safely.