Castlevania: Blood Debts

Part 1

By Setzer

"This story is dedicated to my friend Bane, that like Alucard, may you some day find what you seek. This story is also dedicated to my friend Adam...who will be needing a Maria Renard blow-up doll before I *ever* need an Alucard blow-up doll. Nyah!"

The icy fingers of wind crept into the folds of Alucard's cloak. His breath snaked protectively around him. No one was out at this hour, the time when evil things were supposed to be prowling the countryside. I would most likely fall under that category, he thought dourly to himself. With a gloved hand, he drew his cloak closer to his body, a purely ingrained reflex, for anyone with vampire blood has no fear of the elements.

The man hissed in annoyance. Vampire blood. It was true. No mortal could ever have skin so pale, hair so white, an appearance like etchings in marble, and the ability to change shape at will.

However vampire-like his looks, should one see him, that person would have to agree that no vampire walked the countryside alone. No vampire ever swore off blood. No vampire carried a sword or any other weapon period. No vampire ever helped mortals. Human blood. It was true.

Alucard was the rarest form of life on earth: a result of unnatural union between a human woman and the most vile of vampires, Dracula Vlad Tepes. The blood of human and vampire flowed in his veins. Not a day passed by that he wasn't reminded of his cursed existence. According to God, I shouldn't exist, but here I am. So if I am not supposed to exist, then what path do I follow?

Alucard still didn't have an answer to that question. He didn't think there was one. He doubted even God cared what happened to him. He had, thus, far, traveled the path advised by his mother, Lisa, while she burned on a cross; leaving mortals to their short lives. His father, Dracula, traveled another path; that of human subjugation for the sake of power. Though no one would have cared if he followed his father's path, Alucard chose his mother's way. How could he slay humans, knowing that his mother once walked among them?

The divergence of paths was the wedge between father and son. It was the reason why Alucard had helped Trevor Belmont 300 years before to stop Dracula. It was the reason why he aided Richter Belmont in the same task only a week before. This time, Alucard himself had sent his father to the darkness. Even if he had not been my father, it would not have been an easy thing to do. Alucard looked up at the sky. Stars jeweled the night and the clouds of the Celestial Sky stretched across the stars. What am I? To kill another living thing, except to eat and survive, is seen as murder. To kill a demon is to be seen as a hero. To kill one's father is the gravest sin imaginable. What does it mean when your own father is a vampire? Am I blessed or damned? Alucard had never found the answers. He doubted he ever would.

I can only do what I can to make sure another Dracula never roams the earth. Even though he is sent to the darkness, he will be back. As long as fools still long for that immortal power, he will be back. The half-breed snapped his cape around him, trying to shut out his thoughts. Better to think on the task ahead.

Yes, the task ahead. I must sleep again. All I can do is sleep. This world is already changed so much since Trevor's time. I have all the magic ingredients to send myself to sleep once more...even the required dose of blood, God help me. It never occurred to Alucard that if no one cared about him, there was no point in living. In both his bloods, the will to live was too strong.

The half-breed's boots ceased to crunch on the gravel of the path. He looked up, pushing a lock of alabaster hair from his eyes. A stony hill created a silhouette against the backdrop of the stars and the Celestial clouds. It was inside that unlikely pile of stones that Alucard had slept for the last 300 years. His quarters inside the hill were almost ready for him to sleep another century or more.

All I need to do is to bring the Belmont in spirit out from the shadows, he thought wryly. He had been scenting her for about three days. It was about time to end this. "Will you forever stalk the shadows, Maria?" Alucard called out to the dark forest behind him.

Reluctantly, the bushes rustled and a fair and shapely maiden stepped from the undergrowth. Despite three days of hard trekking in the wilds of Transylvania, Maria Renard looked none the worse for wear. Though a little in disarray, the sight of her could still stir the blood, among other things. Alucard exerted all his vampire coldness to keep back these human feelings. To cover up his response, he brushed the dust off his cape and checked his sword belt for damage. "What brings you to follow me across these wilds?" he asked, his breath rising in a column.

Not at all put off by his front of cold politeness, Maria crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I am following you to try to stop whatever nonsense you are attempting." Alucard eyed her travel leathers, her hair tied into a slightly messy bun, and the twin daggers that adorned her sword belt. "You do seem quite prepared to stop something, though if it's me, I am not sure."

"I don't blame you for what your father has done."

A slight upturn of the lips was Alucard's sardonic smile. "How gracious of you to extend your forgiveness. Since you've started on this feeling of forgiving, I shall forgive you of this fool's errand you have your heart set on."

Though Maria was accomplished at handling herself in a fight, she was not accomplished at handling her temper or hiding her feelings. "Fool's errand! How dare you! Alucard, I have come to take you from this lonely life and take you back with me to live with the Belmonts."

He raised an eyebrow. "The Belmonts?"

"Yes! We all know how you stopped Dracula! You are our friend. You would find safety there."

"Oh really?"

"Of course!"

"Tell me, Maria, do you do this because you feel it is a Christian thing to do or do you have other reasons to try to help me?"

"I help you because I care for you, Alucard! Because I..."

With inhuman speed, Alucard slid to Maria and placed his gloved hand over her mouth. "No. I will not hear you say those words." Maria tried to shake her head in denial, but Alucard roughly shook her. "Listen to me!" he hissed, anger visible in his black eyes. "You don't know what you are talking about. You have no clue as to what you would let yourself in for, but I do! To love your enemy is to be foolish! And whatever you feel for me is not enough. In your youth you cannot see past this, but it is not enough!" Almost as quickly as he slid to her, Alucard vanished into mist.

Maria sucked in a breath and exhaled shakily before looking around the forest. "Alucard? Where have you gone? I only wish to tell you what I feel in my heart. It doesn't matter to me what kind of blood you have in your veins! Please, listen to me!"

A sickening inhuman howl ripped through the night. Maria Renard, Belmont by spirit, unsheathed both her daggers and rolled to the center of the path. The howling grew louder and louder. Someone's hot and heavy breathing permeated through the forest. Maria looked all around her, trying to find the source of the breathing and howling.

From out of the trees burst a shape, moving faster than human could ever dream. It howled at her, lusting for her blood. Vampire! her thoughts screamed. Evil demon! It must have been a part of Dracula's band. Reflex took over and Maria jammed the dagger into the demon's shoulder and, making good use of its momentum, fell on her back and flipped the demon over her. Quickly, she rose to her feet and whirled behind her, other dagger ready to be thrown.

Battle energy left her system so quick that she started to shake and dropped her dagger. Alucard half sat, half knelt on the gravel path, the fingers on his right hand curled around the dagger hilt embedded in his shoulder. He panted and coughed in turns tugging at the dagger. After several unsuccessful and painful tries, the dagger came free of his flesh, making a sucking noise as it left its warm wet tunnel. The half-breed pressed his right hand to the wound, the blood trickling over his glove and the ornamental hilt of the dagger.

"Alucard, I didn't..."

Alucard shook his head and coughed before speaking. "Yes you did. Else I injured." He exhaled sharply several times and stood unsteadily to his feet. "You are a Belmont in all...but but blood. The fight stronger than any other have. Having feelings...for that which you are to deny yourself. To deny yourself...would be to lose...a vampire in a world where there are too few as is."

Maria looked at him with a stunned fascination. She tried to open her mouth to say something, anything, but Alucard cut her off. "You can say nothing. It is not meant to be. If you had denied yourself, you would be dead." Skillfully, he flipped the blooded dagger in the air and it landed at Maria's feet. "Keep love to your family and hatred to your enemies. That is as it should be. Never any other, Maria Renard!" With the same inhuman cry, Alucard changed form to that of a bat. Blood still flowed, though from his fragile wing membrane instead. Shakily, the bat gained ground, leaving the human to scream at him from below. Thankfully, Alucard had no knowledge of human speech while as a bat. Instinct and the need to seek care for his wound took over as he flitted up into the sky.

*** About a week later, Alucard stood in front of his stony hill, going over the preparations in his mind. I should have everything covered. All my spell ingredients are in place. All my weapons are put away in their protective cases. My coffin is ready and waiting to be slept in. The half-breed stared out at the lonely expanse of countryside, letting the wind whip his long hair. What will be here if I ever wake? A village at my doorstep? He turned away from the countryside and prepared to enter his rock chamber again, when a voice yelled at him, "Alucard!"

Curious, the half-breed turned his gaze to the field flanking the right side of the hill. Richter Belmont was galloping toward him on a chestnut mare, yelling his name all the while. "Alucard! Wait, I have to talk to you!"

Privately wondering what the Belmont could want with him, Alucard stood patiently at the foot of the hill. It wasn't long before the vampire hunter pulled his mare to a stop near Alucard. Smoothly, he dismounted and tied the mare's reins to a large rock projection. He seemed out of breath. "Alucard, thank God I found you."

"What do you want with me, Richter Belmont? And how did you know I would be here?"

Richter looked at the ground, nudging the ground with a toe. "Forgive me if I am trespassing on your lands, Alucard. I knew you would be here because it is where you were supposed to have slept 300 years before after helping my ancestor, Trevor Belmont."

Alucard looked at Richter strangely, frowning. "Trevor Belmont told everyone where to find me?"

"Ah, not exactly. You see, all the stories of the Belmonts say that you helped Trevor. The story on where you were supposed to live died within a few generations. However, two others saw to your rest. Grant Danasty and Sypha Belnades."

"Grant and Sypha?! How could they do anything? They were spirits." "True enough, but both of them came from families. Apparently, they told their families all that had happened before seeking their rest. At any rate, a descendant of Grant, a sailor that drops into our village from time to time, related the story of that fight so long ago. He also told me what the Belmont stories have lost. Where you once lived. So, that is how I knew you would be here."

Alucard made a noise of disapproval in the back of his throat. "I didn't want to be disturbed. But you are a Belmont and I doubt you would try to find me unless you had good reason to. So what did you come here for?"

Richter had to tilt his head upwards to look Alucard in the face. "I know that you are planning to sleep again. I am not here to stop you, unlike Maria."

Alucard hissed. "So. You've heard. Are you here to condemn me then?"

"No. You are smart to have done what you've done. Twice have you aided the Belmonts in the past. This time, we Belmonts could not have stopped the darkness without you.

"I guess what I am asking you, Alucard, is that would you consent to become a permanent ally that we Belmonts can turn to should we need it?"

Though his glacial vampire looks didn't show it, Alucard was very surprised. "A permanent ally? An honorary member of the Belmont family?"

"Something like that."

"Why would you want to do such a thing?"

Richter turned away for a moment and didn't answer. He rubbed the neck of his mare and scratched her mane, making the animal wicker in pleasure. With his hand still on his mount's neck he spoke again. "I know you may not like us humans much. You seem to have had troubles with us in the past. I won't pry into why that is, but I will understand if you refuse my offer.

"Alucard, has the world changed so much from when you helped Trevor?"

"It has in many ways, though in some, it has remained the same."

Richter nodded. "I thought so. Even now, I notice that this world is changing. People are beginning to forget the old ways of life and the old stories. Not many folk believed that Dracula was evil when Shaft started to collect tributes. All the old beliefs are dying. It's...frightening, to say the least. Vampire hunters are fewer and fewer than in the time of Trevor and the great Simon. I'm afraid that soon there will be no vampire hunters in the future."

Alucard stood rock still in surprise. "No vampire hunters?"

"No more hunters. You know what that will mean."

"Yes. A clear gateway for my father." Shakily, he sat down and held his head in his hands. "Everything we fought for, all wasted."

Unsure of what to do, Richter slowly sat down next to Alucard. Shyly, he put a hand on the other's shoulder, trying to offer comfort. "I know what that means. I am afraid for the future, Alucard. For now, this place is safe. The resurgence of Dracula is fresh in the minds of the people. The stories are alive again. But in ten years, will the memory be as fresh? In fifty years, will the stories seem fantasy? In the next century, will people remember?"

"No. They won't. I know humans. They forget so easily."

"We tend to, as a rule. Dracula will always be sharp in my mind and the lives of this generation of Belmonts. But what about our children? We can teach them everything and only hope they'll keep tradition alive.

"But what if tradition, like some of the stories of Trevor Belmont, are lost? Then what will happen to this place?"

"It will not survive my father's coming," Alucard said quietly.

"That's why I want to teach you everything I know about vampire hunting."

Startled, Alucard turned to look at Richter, pushing the other's hand from his shoulder. "You want me to learn what?"

"All the secrets of the Belmonts I want to teach to you. Unlike the future generations of Belmonts, you will always keep the memories of Dracula alive in your heart. Everything will be eternally fresh to you. If you know the knowledge of the Belmonts, then you can help future generations of Belmonts."

Alucard realized that Richter was not as brash and thick headed as he first thought. It took an amazing amount of foresight to see that far in the future. "So, if I know all the secrets of the Belmonts, I could help your descendants if the knowledge were ever lost?"

"Yes, that was my thought. Of course, that would mean that this place would have to be set in story so the Belmonts would know where to find you. It is up to you."

I thought I could finally escape all this. But Richter is right. I will be still alive in the future, as long as I sleep. If I just sleep and let my father return without aiding the Belmonts, won't he just take over? He could probably find me fairly quickly and try to get me to turn over. So it does not matter where I turn, it always ends up with my father.

Alucard stood up and gazed at the sky again, ignoring Richter for a moment. Then, softly, he said, "You are wise, Richter Belmont. I would not have foreseen such a future. Though I cannot live among your kind, I do not wish to see humans subjugated and killed on whim. I will help you."

"Thank you so much, Alucard. It may well be that the Belmonts will always remember the old ways and have no need of you. But should something occur, it would be safe if you knew everything."

Thus began the intensive training of Alucard in the ways of the Belmonts. Nearly eight hundred years of tradition were heaped into his skull in the matter of several weeks. Everything Richter knew, from how to use the many weapons to stalking vampires to making ground sacred again, Alucard now knew.

After all the knowledge of the Belmonts had been transferred, Alucard thought it time to return to slumber. He led Richter to his sleeping chamber so future Belmonts would know where to find him. Carefully, Richter placed all the weapons in a large box and closed it tightly. Everything was ready.

"Thank you for this, Alucard."

"I should thank you, Richter, for opening my eyes to the future. I will be sure to keep this knowledge safe in my heart."

"Is there anything else you want me to do before you sleep?"

"Yes." Alucard hesitated for a moment, not sure how to phrase the words. "Please tell Maria that I am sorry I had to go to such extremes to get my point across, but what she wanted of me, it would not have been right to give."

"I understand."

"Tell her that for me, but do not ever tell her I am here in this hill. What cannot be, cannot be."

Richter nodded. "I will do that for you." He offered his hand to Alucard. The half-breed shook Richter's hand tightly and nodded.

"When next I wake, you will be gone. Fare you well, Richter Belmont."

"Fare you well, Alucard, ally of Belmonts." He walked to the hallway and without turning around, he added. "Your soul is not as lost as you make it out to be. Even I can see that." With that, Richter walked down the hallway and out of the hill.

Alucard's lips curved upwards in a slight smile, watching the Belmont leave. Taking one last look at everything and seeing that nothing was out of place, Alucard slipped into his coffin and activated the sleep spell. He snuggled into the satin sides of the coffin, feeling very sleepy. I never thought a human would tell me that about my soul, was Alucard's last thought before his mind sank into deep, deep slumber.