November 28, 1916
As the nights continue to slip by me, I thought it a good idea to continue my childhood diary. To pass the time, if nothing else, I suppose. It has been years since my last entry, but it must be noted that it has been years since last I felt the need.

This passenger ship I have booked myself on seems a seaworthy enough vessel, but with the torpedoing of the Lusitania just last year by the Germans, I must admit to some measure of hesitation as we come upon the European coast.

Yes, the Great War is looming over everything in these dark times. Under the iron fist of Germany’s army France has been all but decimated, and it seems that if allowed to continue, all of Eurasia may fall before the ambitious country. But lately I fear something darker still may be looming over Europe. I fear it with my soul. I can feel it in my blood.

I must admit to having spent the last day prowling the deck and pondering the cryptic letter I received from England upon returning one day to my family’s estate in San Antonio, Texas.

"Something has gotten into into Eric," one of its highlights read. "To be frank, Jonathan and I fear the worst. Your friend went through something terrible earlier this year, and has since disappeared. Come if you can, I know he still values your friendship. I will send someone to meet you."

It was from Mina Harker, Jonathan’s wife. I remembered her being an attractive woman, even when I was but a knee-high youngster. It could very well be said, I had been told, that my father gave his life to help protect her. The details of that cold December in 1897 escape me, as I was but two years old at the time and under the sole care of my now-deceased nanny, but one memory will always linger in my head.

My father, Quincey P. Morris, mortally wounded from the gypsy army that defended the castle, plunging his bowie knife into the black heart of the Count Vlad Dracula. In the fateful moments that followed, neither the Count nor my father survived their wounds.

But enough about that—even after all these years it is still disturbing to reminisce upon. At any rate, I find myself growing tired. I hope to continue this diary when I secure myself in an inn or when I otherwise find the time.

November 30, 1916
Ah, the hospitality of London. People know how to treat other people here.

Though I do consider myself a full-blooded American, my roots do lie in Europe. Particularly in what is now Romania, but that has always been a place I have avoided, both in conversation and thought. Perhaps it’s just that I have a streak of fear beneath my otherwise... what was it uncle Alex said... oh, yes... infallible facade.

It has been here, in England, that I at last I find the time to continue my diary. As I sit beside my window writing this, I received a telegraph from Mina Harker’s mysterious messenger. In terse, old English lettering, it was scribed:

"Mrs. Harker thanks you for coming with such haste on such short notice. Transportation to the Harker estate has already been arranged. Be ready in the morning." And then in almost incoherent cursive, "Regards, Pennington."

What few belongings I brought along and took the time to unpack in this hotel are now freshly packed again for what lies ahead. I shall certainly make another note when I meet with my host.

How my stomach troubles me. I fancy I may just sample the hotel cuisine.

December 3, 1916
A horse-drawn carriage met me at the hotel in the morning, as expected. Riding for the five some hours it took to get there, I arrived at the Harker estate. Beyond its iron gates lay a grand old house, a picturesque dream home pulled out of the Victorian era. Leaving the carriage, I approached the front door. I knocked twice before that Pennington fellow that sent me the telegraph opened the door. I guess he doubles as a butler.

Yet it was not Mina or Jonathan that greeted me as I stepped into the household. It was Quincey. Quincey Harker. Of course, after the ordeal at the turn of the century that claimed my father’s life, Mina and Jonathan had named their firstborn Quincey, in honor of my father’s sacrifice. I had never met this guy in person, but he was only two years and a half years younger than I.

"How’s Mina?" I asked, after exchanging greetings. "Where’s Jonathan?"

"I’m afraid mother has become stricken with a mysterious ailment and is in the care of Dr. Seward," he explained. "Father accompanied her."

"I hope she gets better."

By the look on his face, it didn’t seem like Quincey thought I was sincere. "She has been having recurring nightmares of late... most disturbing ones, she says. Ones she has not had... for years."

"I’m sorry to hear that," was all I could come up with to say.

"I’m sure you are," Quincey bit back, turning on his heels. I was beginning to feel a tad unwelcome about then. "Mother had me send for someone who she wanted to have speak to you about Eric. Had to contact the good Dr. Van Helsing to get a hold of him, you know."

My mind was buzzing with possible identities. "Oh?"

"Meet Mr. Belmont."

"Belmont..." I muttered. It was a name I hadn’t heard in some time.

Quincey nodded as an older-looking man with matted white hair, dressed in formal clothes, and carrying a satchel strode in. He looked familiar, if only in some vague recollection I had of a faded family album. Quincey gave me a look before going into the next room, "I’ll leave you two alone."

"John Morris," the elderly man spoke to me, his voice raspy but deep. He almost seemed to grin after rather creepily studying my face for a while. "You do your ancestry proud. You do know of your ancestry, don’t you?" Mr. Belmont asked me, approaching me in what appeared to be pained steps. By the overall look of him, I’d judge him easily eighty years of age.

I shrugged uncertainly. "Most of it. You’re of the Belmont Clan, the Belmonts that since the fifteenth century have... have..."

"Go on," Mr. Belmont prodded. "Are you afraid to say it? Afraid to speak of the tradition we Belmonts have proudly stood by and upheld for centuries?"

"You’re vampire slayers," I said plainly. Out with it, I suppose. "Trained and prepared from birth to do battle with Dracula."

"Ah, you do know. But are you aware... of the Belmont within you?"

"Yes." I figured it would come up sooner or later. "But the Belmont in my family died out with my paternal grandmother. I’m a Morris."

"The name, not the blood," Mr. Belmont admonished. "The Belmont bloodline lives on in you, John, Morris or not." He began to pace. "These are dark times. For what’s at stake in Europe, and for what’s at stake with your friend, Eric, I suggest you accept this."

"I’m listening."

"I am just an old man now, John. Once, as a young man, I was called to stand against the evil of Dracula as so many had before me." His expression became unreadable. "I prevailed, just as your father did when you were a child, though he never understood or gave any regard for his Belmont roots."

"Dracula..." All the fear, all the unspeakable dread that had been churning through my bones resurfaced. "... you’re not saying..."

"No," he quickly replied, much to my thanks. "He hasn’t returned." His rugged posterior went icy. "But he will... if you do nothing." He went on, as I knew he would, "In events your friend Eric was privy to playing a part in at the cost of his bride, the Countess Elizabeth Bartley—the niece of Dracula—was resurrected from the grave. She is nosferatu, made such before even Prince Vlad Draculea III succumbed to his undead existence. Her objective is simple."

"She wants to raise her uncle."

Mr. Belmont nodded weakly. He stopped for a moment to cough. "Time is short. Here..." He reached a hand into his satchel, shifting his gaze only for an instant. His hand settled on something inside—I couldn’t tell what—and he seemed to pause, perhaps remembering something in his past. With a serious, unreadable expression, the man extended the handle of a coiled up, leather-laced whip.

"A whip... thank you."

"Not any whip... a Belmont Clan heirloom. I went through ten years of my father’s training regimens to master it completely, but complete mastery is unnecessary. The ancestral Vampire Killer whip is no ordinary weapon. Enchanted by the Poltergeist King, it has been held in battle by every Belmont to do battle with Dracula, beginning with the great Sonia."

"I... I..." As I gripped it in my hand I felt a wave of energy surging through my veins. When I thought about it, I really felt as though this was a weapon I knew how to use. "I think I understand."

"Good. Understanding is important." Mr. Belmont’s stance wavered, the peculiar grim, wizened expression returning to his face. "Just never forget your purpose. Never forget what the Belmonts stand for."

Steeling my grip on the Vampire Killer, I held the man’s unflinching gaze. I did understand. "I won’t."

"Good," he said, nodding whimsically. He suddenly seemed very tired, his age showing. "That’s good. You must now find your friend, Eric. A battle shared is a battle twice as strong. Nearly a century ago, when it was my task to confront Dracula, I had a friend who wanted to come with me... a young girl... a young girl who..." Mr. Belmont trailed off, then shook his head. I sensed more than a hint of painful memories behind his eyes. "Forgive my rambling."

"I will be off at once, then."

He nodded again. "Yes... haste is of the essence."

Before we would say our goodbyes and part ways, I decided to venture a question. "You have a first name, Mr. Belmont?"

"Why, yes." The hint of a true smile crossed his lips. "Schneider."

December 11, 1916

Veros is a dead town. In the town itself the bodies were everywhere... every one of them butchered in grotesque ways I see no reason to include in this diary. If Eric was here, he’s long gone or among the dead. I prefer to be optomistic, as I was when I came upon the address Quincey left me before I departed the Harker estate. Locating Eric’s residence, I drew my whip and approached the front door.

"Eric?" I called into the open doorway. I already had a bad feeling. "Eric! You here?"

My response was silence, but as I entered anyway, I saw a woman seated with an ambience that could only belong to Countess Elizabeth Bartley.

Bartley was surrounded by two pale girls draped in white robes that did little to hide their modesty, which I couldn’t help but take notice of. She saw me, yet she acted as though I wasn’t there. Playfully, perhaps teasingly running her lips over the mouth of one of the attractive young girls, gaping as if parched with terrible thirst, she kissed the other deeply with passion.

"My girls," Bartley cooed the two girls surrounding her, stopping her passionate kissing only for a moment. "My dear, sweet, beautiful girls... how I love you so..."

"Bartley," I called, making my presence known if it wasn’t already. "I’ve come to slay you."

"Have you, now?" She giggled girlishly. "But we’ve been waiting for you." The Countess gave a sardonic grin, a flash of fangs beneath her parted lips. The two scantily clad girls kneeling over Bartley hissed at me, the glint of the telltale long canines visible. "There, there, my darlings," she whispered to them, soothing the girls with her soft, deceivingly angelic voice. As I watched, she ran her fingers through their hair, guiding their mouths to her exposed breasts. Bartley’s chest heaved and she sighed, a slight moan escaping.

It shames me to write this, but watching this erotic encounter was... exciting me. I found myself growing tense with every passing moment, my grip on my whip faltering.

"John..." one of the girls moaned, taking a momentary break from tending to Bartley’s breasts.

The Countess held her arms out to me, the girls still sucking away, one of them now kissing her way down Bartley’s belly while she began spreading her legs. "Come to me, John," Bartley coaxed. "Join us."

Kill her, right? Stake her and be done with it, right? What could possibly be holding me back?

Bartley was attractive. Very attractive. A girl well versed in the art of seduction, trapped at, I imagine by the look of her, an immortal eighteen years of age. Her voluptuous, young body was barely masked to any degree at all by her open red blouse, and her amber, waist-length hair contained overtones the color of Autumn leaves. Needless to say, I wanted to rush to the woman’s embrace, shedding my inhibitions and indulging my fantasies.

Then purpose and common sense kicked in.

This woman... this thing... she wanted to bring back the being my father fought to the death. And Eric, my oldest, truest friend... she vampirised his bride. Eric had to kill his own wife because of this vampire before me. Had I forgotten these things?

Bartley beckoned to me once more, her eyes inviting me. "Come, John. We need you..."

I cracked the whip.

"Wretched whore," I boomed, then repeating what I said before, "I’ve come to slay you."

The three vampiresses hissed in unison, recoiling at my sternly spoken words.

"Darlings," Bartley whispered to the girls. Even as the two in question were glaring at me they were cupping and kneading Bartley’s breasts. Slowly and gingerly, she began closing her dress, much to the girls’ disappointment. "You won’t let that man hurt me, will you?"

"Never," one said.

"No, Elizabeth," the other answered. "I... I love you."

With one last loving look given to the two vampire girls by Bartley, they advanced on me. I thought for a moment at their youthful faces as they did; at the innocence Bartley robbed them of for her sick bloodlust. Then I struck.

I caught the first one in mid-flight across the sternum. The girl had leapt at me reflexively the instant I brought my whip back.

"You come to slay me?" thundered Bartley, gracefully rising from her chair. "I think not, dear John."

The girl I struck got back to her feet, shrieked, and ran at me once more. Before I could strike again I winced in pain... the second girl had gotten me from behind. The fingernails she raked down my back felt like red-hot talons against my ill-protected flesh.

"Though, rest assured, you will have your chance... if you survive." I heard Bartley’s voice again. I was too occupied to pay her much notice... which was exactly what she wanted. Clever bitch.

Spinning around, I cracked the whip again and again, mercilessly tearing into the vampire girl who had caught me off-guard. When she lay in a heap at my feet, I turned my attention to the second girl, giving her the same treatment.

When I was done with my work I gazed about. There was no trace of Bartley, though I wasn’t surprised.

Drawing two oak stakes and unsheathing my father’s bowie knife, I knelt over the bloodied corpses of the two girls. I wasn’t proud of what I did next, but it had to be done.

Leaving the house, I discarded the heads a fair distance into the woods, then found my way back to the main road.

On my way back to town I thought on things. What had happened in Veros renewed my courage, my faith in myself and my abilities. Bartley had taken time she would have otherwise put to resurrecting her uncle to personally set up a trap to stop me. She knew I was of Belmont blood, knew I would come for her, and knew I was a threat.

I refuse to let my father’s sacrifice be for naught. With or without Eric, I will find the Countess again and do what needs to be done in the name of all those who came before me. This I swear.