Chapter One: A Stranger Among Us
ALL SHE COULD DO WAS RUN. The village people wanted her dead, and they wouldn't stop until their desire for blood was satisfied. The forest seemed to go on forever, a labyrinth of trees and shrubs with no clear path anywhere in sight. It was the optimal place to be on the run, she thought, it didn't matter where she was, she and the forest would always be one.
She should have known that the humans wouldn't take well to her as she was humanoid in appearance, but humans seem to always know when someone isn't one of them. If she had known the human realm to be so hostile, she wouldn't have come, she decided ruefully. The humans's stamina was more persistent than she had estimated and she began to grow weary that they may succeed in her demise. Her restrictive bodice and long skirts only hindered her further and she decided that it was time to make a real escape.
Gathering her concentration and strength, she summoned her wings, which were more than large enough to slide out of the sides of her hooded cloak. With some difficulty, all thanks to her outfit, she picked up her pace and lifted into the air. She had barely gained several meters when a sharp, sizzling pain pierced her side, invoking a sharp hiss from her mouth. Her concentration betrayed her and as her attention snapped to the arrow protruding from her side, she began plummeting back towards the ground.
She was lucky enough to land in a tree, just far enough ahead that she was temporarily out of the villagers line of sight. Although she knew how vital it was to conserve her strength, especially with the amount of blood loss she was experiencing, she decided to use some of her magic, not much but just enough to help her blend into the tree. Growing up, she was never diligent about her magic studies and she begrudgingly acknowledged how stupid it was of her to come to the human realm so unprepared. A simple spell like this could have saved her from being shot with an arrow in the first place, if she had enough experience to accomplish such a thing with ease. Even with a spell as simple as this, sweat had already begun to slick her brow and she had to close her eyes and concentrate deeply at the task at hand.
Lady Luck must have been smiling upon her because it worked. Within minutes, the villagers had passed her and were out of sight. The adrenaline rush that had kept her going had begun to wear off, and she toppled out of the tree and landed on the ground in an ungraceful heap. She laid there a minute wheezing and gasping for air, the breath completely knocked from her lungs. Once able to breathe again, she lay there for a moment, tentatively feeling around her wound that was still pierced by the arrow. Normally, a simple wound like this would hardly cause her to falter and would heal on its own within moments. Iron, she thought, her gut dropping. A wound caused by iron, especially one that broke flesh, was always a pain in the ass to treat and took much longer to heal.
She lay there, basking in the comfort of the weeds and the dirt as she caught her breath. It was dangerous to stay for too long, she decided. Soon the villagers would realize she couldn't have made it very far and would circle around to find her. Suppressing a groan, she used the trunk of the tree of which she had fallen to pull herself to her feet. Her hunch was correct and she could hear voices off in the distance. She pulled her hood back into place over her head and wrapped her cloak tightly around herself, pressing her hand around the wound in an attempt to keep her blood from leaving a trail. She kicked some leaves over the place where she had fallen, concealing the drying blood she had left there.
She veered off the course she and the villagers had been on, going deeper into the forest. The trees were so close together, she knew the mob would have a difficult time following after her. As she stumbled along, she became aware of how much blood she had lost. Blood was still oozing out of her wound, soaking through both her gown and cloak. Her vision was becoming spotty and blurring around the edges and her thoughts were slow and muddled in her head. Her hair, which had been tied back in a loose braid, had come undone and strands of it sticking to the beads of sweat down her face and at the nape of her neck.
Night had begun to fall, and with it came rain. The trees offered some shelter from the oncoming downpour but it wasn't long until she stumbled upon a clearing. And there it was. Dracula's castle.
It was so dark, it was almost difficult to see. The castle was larger than she imagined, and beautiful in a dark, gothic way. She stumbled across the clearing towards the front door of the castle, clinging to consciousness. Next to the front doors stood two decomposing corpses impaled on pyers. With the last bit of strength she had, she pounded on the heavy door. No answer. She pounded on it again, harder this time. With a loud creak, it swung open. She barely made it inside before she crumpled onto the floor, unconscious.
Alucard Tepes gazed curiously at the hooded figure lying face-down before him. Long, dark curls spilled out of the sides of the figure's hood and he could see the fabric of a gown towards the figure's feet. A woman. Alucard knelt down and tentatively flipped the woman onto her back. The first thing he noticed was an arrow protruding from her side. The second thing he noticed was the color of her blood. It was green. So she's not a human, he mused, letting his gaze travel upwards towards the woman's face. Her skin was as light as that of a porcelain doll. Instead of the flush of human blood on her cheeks, the undertone of her face was green. Her hair was so dark it was almost violet. He brushed a loose curl away from her face, revealing a pointed ear.
"What the hell are you?" Alucard mumbled. With a sigh, he gathered the woman into his arms and lifted her up.