It was a rainy morning - one that Tristessa believed she could have gone without. Unfortunately, despite being a mage, she had no control over the weather’s conditions. It was only wishful thinking for a young woman as herself to administrate such an ability. Sorcerers five times older than herself even dreamed of it, if not at least just began their practices. The sun had still another couple of hours before it would peer over the treetops of the peaceful forest, yet it was decided to be a good time for the yellow-haired teenager to make her way toward Tanya’s home, which was located just down the road from her own.
Bernadette had found it difficult to let her daughter out of the small town of Payal, but after insisting that she take a pouch full of fresh, wheat bread and some boxed crackers, she released her with a sweet kiss on the forehead. Tristessa was then on her way, the tattered, beige bag hanging on her right shoulder as she left for the stables. Soon, she was on Callista’s back, riding her down the dusty path and leaving behind a fearful mother.
Would Tristessa return? How would God have her die? No, Bernadette! Don’t think that way! Still her little girl, she and her riding horse were getting smaller and smaller as they traveled further down the plains. She will be fine…
The ride was swift and turbulent, but it served no trouble for the female mage, who simply held onto Callista’s harness, her grip tighter than what might have been necessary. Some were capable of riding a stallion with a bare back, but Tristessa certainly didn’t trust that she had that much dexterity.
Finally, Tanya’s two-story home was in plain sight from a short elevation of grass parallel to the deserted streets. It seemed that either no one was aware of their departure, or they simply didn’t want to bid any farewells. Skittish Callista had been somewhat hesitant to slide down the rocky slope, but after a bit of comfort given by her rider, the stallion swept smoothly downward, reaching the bottom lawn with grace and galloping toward the residence. It seemed that Tanya was already waiting for their arrival as she stood at the doorway, a sheathed sword hanging on a belt. She had dressed herself in pale, brown leather. To Tristessa, she really did pull off the appearance of a warrior. She confessed, she was proud.
“You look ready,” Tristessa pointed out with a lingering smile.
“You don’t,” contradicted Tanya, her expression matching that of her friend’s. “Where’s your weapon?”
“I have to find my grandfather before we can get to the fun part, I’m afraid. It’s with him.” She dismounted the lively animal long enough to approach her friend. It was quiet for a few moments, as if the two of them were trying to picture a summary of the impending mission. Personally, even while her face didn’t show it, Tristessa was terrified. She had never done anything quite like this before, and why her grandfather, James, had delivered such a burden to her was not within her comprehension.
“I was worried I would die of that fever I had during the winter,” Tanya murmured. Tristessa recalled the tragedy too well. Both her own family and Tanya’s had received quite a scare when the girl came down with a terrible flu. She had been retching almost constantly, and her fever, according to the town’s doctor, had been nearly fatal. Herbal medicine, of course, was their best friend at the time.
“Yet, you still want to go through with it?”
“I’d die for you, Tristessa. You’re the closest thing I have to a sister. Besides, you know how dull I’d feel if I was missing out on an adventure like this. Maybe I need to do something like this.”
“You think you need to put yourself in danger by raising arms against Count Dracula?”
“For the comfort and lives of others, yes,” Tanya returned. “Some would only do it for fame and praise. But I want all of us humans to live another century in peace.”
Tristessa nodded with a sigh. She knew Tanya to have a somewhat large family, and she loved each and every one of them equally and powerfully. She couldn’t imagine Tanya’s torment if she had lost any of them, especially if evil such as Dracula intended it. “I understand,” Tristessa spoke. Still, the thought of losing her own ‘sister’, as Tanya had so strongly put it, mortified her.
Tanya, however, had no doubt made her mind. Stubborn as she was, Tristessa knew her decision would not be wavered.
Soon, she headed back to the stallion, who had dug her big hoof into the dirt in slight impatience. Callista seemed as eager to get on the road as Tanya was. Tristessa, however, was still anxious. Throughout most of her consciousness, she could do nothing but think of the worst that could happen.
It had been a little over an hour since the two travelers rode on the horse’s back down the dirty path. For most of the time, Tanya had no need to hold onto Tristessa, as they had yet to stride. So far, the trek was smooth.
Soon, the blonde gave a small, low chuckle.
“What is it, Tessa?”
“Grandfather puts all the weight of the world on us. Do you think maybe he expects too much from us?”
“He expected it all from you, actually.” True. James hadn’t at all anticipated that his granddaughter would have a traveling accomplice. Tanya then grew silent, her attention soon drawn toward the setting that resided ahead of them. “We’re going in there?” she spoke, a small shake to her inquiry as she peered up at the wall of dark, looming trees. Beyond was a maze of equally sinister-looking growths.
“Not right away. We’ll be waiting for the sun to come up. A lot less creatures will want to show their ugly faces, that way.”
“Which means that some still might, either way,” concluded Tanya was uncertainty. “But, I suppose that would serve for good practice.”
“Don’t panic, Tanya,” Tristessa replied with a little smile, though she knew she could say the same for herself. She gave a small pull on the ropes that attached to Callista’s harness, and she came to a gradual halt, releasing a small snort in the process. From this spot, she was trying to detect danger within the woods. “For now, let’s take a break,” Tristessa announced, removing her bag from her shoulder. “Mother must have put some sort of food in here…”
“Great! Let’s eat!” The both of them jumped from Callista’s back and sat at her feet. On occasion, the equine beauty was given a nibble on some crackers, which kept her content and at ease. She strayed off a couple of yards just to get herself some water from the passing river, though made sure to keep in sight. While digging through the pouch of food, Tristessa had found a large sheet of paper; it was a hand-drawn map that her mother made overnight, and was artistic in doing so. No wonder she appeared so tired when giving her farewell.
The map only covered the region that surrounded Castlevania. They had to get to Belfast first, where Tristessa’s alchemy-enriched weapons waited with her grandfather.