Chapter 1:

The Vampire Skull 1.1 The Skull

Echoes of the Void

His gaze shifted towards the stars one last time, he did not realise the gravity of what he had done, of the destruction laid upon the world by his hands. The lands lay empty, shattered, not even the winds graced the air. Solemn and desolate, this feeling left in his chest, he accepted his fate. He accepted his final resting place to be the place he loved the most, the great oak tree.

Silence, not a sound.

Until it all went black.

His gaze disrupted, why could he still see? Why could he still call out? Yet no one heard him. Was there even anyone left in this world to hear his cries, his pleas, he thought he would be dead, not stuck in this limbo, between life and death. There were no stars here in this darkness.


Ellie was as curious as they came, she longed for adventure, lost in books and stories of mysteries and great feats. She wanted to be like Nova Blackheart, the hero of Violet Cauldron, her favourite book series. She would spend hours in that world, imagining herself discovering all the mysteries of the world like he did. Every day was spent in the forest behind her home, going deeper inside, exploring every part of it, ancient ruins, remnants of the long forgotten old world. This place had once been part of a city, now the forest grew here, the crows roamed here. They called it the forest of crows, Ellie would pick up little black feathers all along the forest floor. She loved the way their feathers glimmered in the sun, they appeared black but their feathers shimmered iridescent when illuminated by the light.

At the outskirts of the forest, furthest from her house, grew a large old oak tree, with long branches twisting, reaching for the sky. The crows seemed to love this tree, sometimes the green would be hidden by the crows perched on the winding branches, turning the tree as black as night. Ellie had marvelled the first time she saw the tree, it was beautiful, old, yet there was something strange, almost otherworldly about it. She felt herself drawn in by the tree, coming back to see it again and again and again. Its roots were huge, towering as they seemed to protect the tree, Ellie would sit there, on top of the roots, read her books while feeding the crows, and telling them about her day. They loved her, she would get many gifts, they warned her of dangers, and kept her company while she walked among the trees.

She was happy out in the forest, her heart felt free, yet she always longed for a friend, someone that would actually talk to her as well. She missed her mother, she had been her friend, her adventure companion. Ellie’s mother had been sick for a long time, straining herself to be with Ellie, the last year of her life she had spent in bed. Ellie was six when she passed away. The house that Ellie’s mother and father had bought to renovate, the house that was once filled with magic, fantasy and adventure was now nothing but a mausoleum, it remained unfinished, untouched. Ellie’s father spent all his time away from the house, away from Ellie. She couldn’t help but feel like it was all somehow her fault. She didn’t even get to say goodbye.

Everwood was a small town, near the bright and loud city of Dawn. Once it had been a part of Dawn, five hundred years ago, before the cataclysm, Dawn stretched out all the way here. Ellie had read about it, the cataclysm fascinated her, how Dawn was the only place in the world with buildings still intact. It was one of the great mysteries of the world, which no one seemed to be able to solve, in fact everyone seemed to believe it had not even happened, that it was just a made up story. Ellie was sure it had happened, how could it have not? She had only been to Dawn once, her father loathed the city, he said it was too dark, too grim. She didn’t get it, it was so bright, like the dawn itself. She dreamed of going there, exploring old Dawn, the alleys, the hidden parts of the city. She knew she would never go there, even if it was so near, if she climbed high enough on the old oak she could even see the skyscrapers touching the clouds.

Ellie was a child that always climbed too high, too far, yet the sun always shone on Ellie, even if she didn’t see it herself. Her eyes twinkled blue and she smiled as if she was trying too hard to hide something terribly sad. The forest was her refuge. The tree was her comfort. Little did she know what was hiding beneath the tree. All the secrets of the old world buried here, until one day. She climbed the tree, gazed out at the city.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” She asked the crows playfully. They cawed in response. Ellie giggled as she watched the sun set, the city lit up as if it was a sky full of stars.

“I wish I could go there one day.” Ellie whispered, reaching her hand out, pretending to touch the buildings. Her heart started beating faster when she suddenly lost her balance, she didn’t know how, she was always very careful, but she could feel herself falling. It happened so fast, she hit one branch after the other, trying to grab onto something, until she hit the ground. She let out a small grunt, her body felt sore, pain rushed through her. Some of the crows flew down, sitting beside her, as if to check on her.

“Ugh, I hope I didn’t break anything.” Ellie mumbled as she gingerly sat herself up, holding her back, wondering if she hit something hard? A rock maybe? She glanced back at the ground, something sticking out, half covered in fungi, dead leaves and moss. She pushed away the leaves, tearing out the moss and the mushrooms.

“What is this? Could it be?” Her eyes grew wider, the pain already forgotten. Ellie took off her backpack, rummaging through it, taking out a small hand shovel. She wanted to see what this was? She needed to see what it was, because whatever it was, it drew her in. She started digging, excitedly, eagerly, and very carefully around it. After she had cleared all the soil, she started tugging at it and yanked it right out. Her eyes widened, and her face was full of awe and amazement.

“Is this? No it can’t be can it?” She exclaimed, her eyes grew even bigger, she couldn’t take her eyes off it. A skull. A perfectly preserved skull, but there was something different about it.

“Is this a vampire skull?” Ellie exclaimed loudly, her eyes shifting around before she stared back at the skull again. She glared at the teeth, the canines appeared to be sharp fangs, just like how she imagined a vampire's teeth would be. With one finger she poked the tip of the canine.

“Ouch!” She pulled her hand back and noticed a small drop of blood, the fang was as sharp as a needle.

The crows started cawing, louder and louder, a cacophony of crows. She stared at the skull, mesmerised by it, her hand tracing the shape of the skull. One crow hopped next to her, cawing gently, tilting its head.

“What do you think, Bartholomew? Do you think it’s really a vampire skull, or just a prop?” Ellie asked the crow, investigating every angle of the skull.

“Caw caw.” Said Bartholomew.

Ellie giggled, pleased with her latest discovery, now this really felt like something substantial to her.

“Woah there kid! Don’t just go touching everywhere, that’s kinda rude!” A voice abruptly grunted. Startling Ellie, she almost dropped the skull.

“W-who said that?” She stuttered, eyes shifting from side to side, she didn’t see anyone. “That was not you right?” She asked Bartholomew the crow, her hand trembling slightly as she reached for her torchlight.

“You can hear me?” The voice asked, almost sounding surprised.