Crimson flames raced through Yakim’s eyes. Slowly the vision faded, her pale facade staring back at her as the dark waters steadied. She could not tell for sure how much time had passed, only that the evil seed had been purged from her soul.
“Free,” she whispered, turning back to the smoldering ruin. Her heart swelled, and eyes filled with tears. Reluctantly she nodded, and returned to the broken village.
The halfling combed her blond tangles with her fingers, hesitant to confront the crumbling remains. Amid flames, something danced. She looked closer, the blaze shuddering, and then petering out. Her eyes skipped to the adjacent dwelling, and again the fire faltered. With a sharp twist, the firestorm folded into itself, until all that was left was a single stick of smoldering wood.
“Hello?” her voice echoed, her frosty breath quickening. She stepped forward and picked up the torch, spitting out another mouthful of wintry air. “What is happening?” The torch flickered. “How could the inferno dissipate so quickly?”
She scanned the shadows for the fallen corpses, her nails digging into the dank torchwood. As she brushed away the darkness, she caught a glimpse of something lurking underneath. “Show thyself,” her voice darkened.
Yakim retraced her steps, wishing she had not abandoned the comfort of the lake. The fire her lens, she spied them walking about calmly, not taking any notice of her, an entire village lying beneath the evening’s veil. The vampire gazed deeper, discovering that the presence loomed not in the darkness, but the flames. She pulled the torch closer and blew.
The village illuminated before her, bringing her back to warmer days. Emerald leaves adorned the trees, mauve and vermillion asters lining the dirt road leading to the lake. Yakim walked down the street, gazing at a blacksmith pounding molten metal to a keen edge, and a farmer grooming his tan steed as it flicked its tail and neighed gently.
A young girl in a gold dress brushed by, her blonde curls glimmering in the sun.
“Come back here, Yakim,” said a woman in an ivory dress, white lace over rose lips.
“But how can this be? I have not been here before,” Yakim uttered. “Mother?” She reached out, but the memory dissipated, swept away by the wind.
As the vampire gave chase, she tumbled over something protruding from the mud. She caught herself with one hand, sparing her dress. From the mire she fished out a rusty spade, and tossed it back to the ground. She passed the torch from hand to hand, unable to locate a single corpse. “Dew drop where have you fallen? Let me bury thee,” she pleaded.
Desperately she scoured the street, but the child was nowhere to be found. “No!” Yakim screamed, tearing out a handful of hair. She dumped the torch and ran, pressing deeper into the woods.