It had taken Alucard a long time to calm the hysterical Belmont, the last Belmont, it seemed. The half breed told him gently, but firmly he was no spirit, but a half-vampire, the son of Vlad Dracula Tepes. To Alucard's surprise, the last Belmont did not run away nor did he start another bout of hysterical crying. Louis Belmont's mouth made a big "O" of reaction. "But you saved me, Mr. Alucard. If you're really like that guy who sent those monsters to kill my f-family," his voice started to break, but he scowled in what he thought was a brave manner, "you would've killed me too! But you saved me, `cause you're a friend of the family."
Alucard's thin eyebrows shot up. "A friend of the family? What do you mean?"
"I saw your face on our stone tablet, Mr. Alucard. It's got lots of pictures on it. It said where you lived."
Dracula's son hissed. "Are you sure it said something like that?"
"Yes, Mr. Alucard. With pictures though."
"We'll have to move. Now. My father's minions will probably try to find me now that the picture is there. If those riders saw that tablet, other riders might see it as well. We must go." Swiftly, he stood up, his cape swirling briefly around him.
Louis's face fell. "I'm sorry, Mr. Alucard. I led them here. I didn't mean to, but I had to run and now they're coming after you . . ." Tears started to form in his eyes.
Alucard gritted his teeth. "Louis, we do not have time for your tears. We have to move now! Crying over dead people solves nothing! Get your treasures and follow me."
The child gulped back his tears, afraid at the harshness of his savior's voice. "Yes sir!" With alacrity, he grabbed his knapsack of treasures and had to run to catch up to Alucard. "But Mr. Alucard, what about your other things?"
"They'll be safe. I'll get them later." Both of them ran out into the sunlight and skidded down the far side of the hill. Louis managed to scrape himself deeply on his arm, but not wanting to get yelled at for crying, he gritted his teeth and stayed silent. "Now, Louis, do you know any place we can go? Any secret cottage or house or wayward pine or anything?"
Louis bit his lip, trying to think fast. `Mr. Alucard probably doesn't want me to take forever thinking. Hey.I could take him to the special place! He's a friend of the Belmonts, right? He could go on in!' "There's a special house right that way for a couple of miles," Louis pointed.
Alucard, looked up at the sun and where Louis was pointing. `Hmm. About northwest several miles. That will have to do. It goes away from here and the Belmont house.' "Fine then. Now, I am going to change into a wolf so we will reach there faster, so there is nothing to be afraid of. You have to make sure you hang on tight to me and to those treasures of yours, all right?" The child nodded gravely.
Alucard breathed deep and pulled the force within him to change. It never occurred to him to worry that he might not be able to perform the transformation after being asleep so long, because worrying was trademark for humans, not vampires or their bastards. Alabaster skin molded and flowed into purple fur and sinewy flesh. Alucard-wolf turned his large head towards the child and barked once. Louis looked slightly afraid, but then strangely nodded to himself before climbing on top of the giant wolf and grabbing handfuls of fur and scruff. His knapsack was drawn tightly shut with the drawstring and was slung over his shoulders.
As soon as he felt weight on his back, Alucard-wolf trotted quickly to the northwest. He doubted the child could have hung on to him at a lope, but even this trot ate up the miles and spat them out derisively behind him. After what seemed like several hours of monotonous trotting, Alucard-wolf turned his head back towards Louis and whined for his attention. "Um, I think we have to start looking for a cross on one side of the path. Whichever side it is, you turn off the path and start moving through the woods," said Louis. Alucard-wolf barked back and continued the ground-eating trot.
The light through the leafy trees became more golden with the passing of time. The shafts of light glimmered through the fingers of branches and made tiny dust motes leap and dance in praise of a golden afternoon. Looking at the scenery and concentrating on the pull of fur and muscle underneath him took Louis' mind off his family catastrophes. `See, the world is all beautiful again in the sunlight. Maybe it means God is trying to say He's sorry for what happened to my family. And besides, Mr. Alucard is here now. He's going to help me. But I still miss my family.' Louis tried hard to stifle the crying fit that was attempting to overtake him. `Mr. Alucard doesn't want me to cry all the time. Mom and Dad said it was always okay to cry if I felt sad, but Mom and Dad are in heaven now, so I guess I have to listen to Mr. Alucard. Mom and Dad and Christine and Jonas and Alexander and all my aunts and uncles and cousins would want me to try really hard to listen to Mr. Alucard, so that's what I'll do.' He wondered if the men and women in the stories of the Belmonts were ever scared or wanted their parents as much as he did. Then again, all those people were grown-ups and not little children like Louis. `I guess I'll just have to listen to what Mr. Alucard says.'
Louis was jerked forward abruptly when Alucard-wolf turned off the path and into the woods after seeing a small wooden cross planted into the ground to the right. Branches and needles from some pine trees scraped against the small child, the wolf, and the knapsack, but steadily, the wolf padded through. Fairly soon, the forest surrounded them completely, as though the path never was. A wooden sign was nailed into a tree with a message written in archaic Romanian. Alucard-wolf turned his head back to Louis. "It's all right, Mr. Alucard. My parents said the sign says that only the good people can go past this point and people who are friends of Belmonts are good, so you can just walk on through." Alucard-wolf grunted in response and trotted on through.
The feeling of being watched coursed all along Alucard-wolf's fur, from the tip of his tail to his muzzle. It also burned a little, walking through some kind of protective barrier. Louis showed no sign of discomfort. The strange feelings passed, but the beast sensed that the world was different on this side of the barrier. A sense of timelessness and peace permeated the air. "Look, Mr. Alucard. There's the safe place I was telling you about." A very snug and stout cottage stood in the midst of the protected woods. All around the cottage, the grounds were very well kept, as though tended to regularly. Louis jumped off his mode of transportation and ran up the stone pathway that led to the front door. He opened the front door; the wood creaked a little from being disturbed. "No one here, Mr. Alucard. We can stay here as long as we . . . I mean, you want. It's magic, so we'll be protected."
Alucard-wolf gave a peculiar sigh and stretched his purple frame until it grew and stretched back
into the pale half-breed. He spent a few minutes stretching and popping some of his joints. Staying in
one form for so long tended to mess with the joints. Quietly, he swept his cloak around him and entered
in the snug little building. It was sparsely furnished, but the place obviously wasn't designed to be a
summer cottage. It was a place few were supposed to find. It was a refuge from the spawn of Dracula, at
least for a little while. "Louis," Alucard said in his faintly distant voice.
"Yes, Mr. Alucard?"
"Who built this place?"
"I'm not sure, Mr. Alucard. My parents said . . ." Louis's voice wavered for a moment, but he resolutely continued. "My parents said that this place was always in the Belmont family. He said that it was made by my ancestor, Trevor Belmont. A very nice lady named Sypha had some magic powers and helped make it for him by putting all the magicky things around. My dad says that even now, some of the descendants of Sypha usually become nuns or priests and reset the magicky things around here every couple of years. So that's why it's still here."
Alucard raised a thin eyebrow. `Descendants of Sypha? I wonder . . . if they are still renewing the barriers around this place, then maybe some of them must live near here. Perhaps I can ask them for aid. After I train this Belmont, I can give him to them to worry about. The last thing I need is a sniveling human child hanging all over me. Richter may have had foresight and I did agree to help future Belmonts, I never agreed to being a caretaker for a child.' "I suggest that if there's food here, eat it and go to bed. You'll need rest if we're going to start your training."
"Yes, Mr. Alucard." Louis started to run toward the kitchen, but then stopped and took the
knapsack from his shoulders. "I think you should read some of the things in here, Mr. Alucard. They're
written in really old languages that I bet you can read and there's a lot of important things in here."
"Thank you, Louis. Go eat and go to sleep." He hardly noticed the child's departure.
Alucard sat down on a simple wooden chair and laid the bag of treasures on a table near his
chair. Carefully, he laid out the treasures. A throwing dagger, some holy water, and a boomerang cross
were a few of the weapons he laid in one pile. A small coiled whip joined the pile; Alucard figured the
small size would work best for Louis's small hands. Pages and pages of faded writings comprised most of
the treasures. They were written in various styles of Romanian and Latin, languages Alucard was fluent
in. Most curious of all was an ancient pendant. Alucard rubbed away the tarnish from the pendant until
he could determine the shape - a rather large, but vaguely outlined human raising one hand to the sky. It
was hard to tell if the person was male or female, but the one thing that was carefully etched into the
figure was the expression - a face screaming for something, eyes wide and neck tensed so much that
tendons were visible. On the back of the figure was engraved a little poem in faded Latin. It took Alucard
a moment to translate the strange words:
The most important of the treasures turned out to be the faded writings. They were the history of the Belmont clan. Long into the night, Alucard read the faded pages, finding out the other events in the Belmont history when Dracula had resurfaced after the time of Trevor. Simon Belmont had to have fought with Dracula more than any other Belmont in the history of the struggle. The times were obviously dark indeed to have so many clashes. Next was a Christopher Belmont a hundred years later, who had a few clashses with Dracula, along with his son, Solieyu. Richter was the next in line, and Alucard was relieved to see that there were no more attacks after the one in 1797. There were a few minor skirmishes with lesser vampires in the area, according the notes. The next major strike on Dracula was in 1897 (i.e. Bram Stoker's Dracula) A group of Americans, it seemed, had teamed together and fought the Prince of Darkness. Alucard was confused as to when the colonies in the New World became their own country, but figured that was beside the point. He wondered why a group of colonists would ever get involved in vampire hunting, until he read a side note. It seemed that one of Richter's granddaughters, one Samantha Belmont, left Romania to go to America to seek her fortune. She had married a Fred Morris and had a son, Quincey Morris, who died in the fight to kill Dracula. Quincey had had a son named John Morris, and he, with a friend named Eric LeCarde, had stopped Elizabeth Bartley from trying to resurrect Dracula thirty years before. Alucard shuddered. He never liked his cousin. She had displayed vampiric tendencies as a young child. He was glad she was firmly dead. Alucard realized that there had been no more clashes with Dracula, until now. (Author's note: At the time of writing this, I had no clue where Schnieder Belmont fit into any of this timeline, so that's why he's not mentioned.)
Alucard sighed and rubbed his eyes. He had had to light a lantern a while ago in order to read the papers. The sky outside was truly dark. `I wonder why Dracula has decided to pay this world a visit again? No one has resurrected him, it seems, but he's coming. There has to be a reason.'
Boards creaking signaled the approach of Louis. He rubbed his eyes sleepily. "Mr. Alucard, why
are you still up?"
"I was just reading, Louis. You should go back to bed. Why are you up?"
"I woke up from a dream. I saw a light was still on and I wanted to see if there was something wrong. You should go to sleep too."
"I don't need sleep in the same amounts as do humans, Louis." Alucard's tone left no room for discussion.
"Oh." The last Belmont started to pad back to his bed when Alucard noticed something.
"Louis, come here for a moment." The small child padded toward him. "When did this happen?" The half-breed turned over Louis' right arm. Dried blood crusted a deep scrape.
"When we were scrambling out of the hill. I fell and scraped it, but you wanted me to hurry, so I didn't think you wanted me to bother you with it."
"Does it still hurt?"
"Oh, no. I've forgotten about it." Alucard narrowed his eyes. For a child, it was a serious enough wound, not something easily forgotten.
Wordlessly, he reached into his coat and took out a potion. He dabbed a little of the liquid on the wound, which made Louis wriggle with pain. Gradually, the potion did its work and the wound disappeared. "Wow," Louis breathed. "You made it go away."
Alucard nodded. "Now, go to sleep."
"Oh, I will, Mr. Alucard. And I'll train really hard tomorrow, I promise." Without any thought, Louis hugged Alucard to him and then ran off to bed.
Alucard felt very strange at the exchange. He looked back to the direction of Louis's bedroom and frowned for a long time before turning back to the history of the Belmonts. Even then, Alucard still felt a little odd over the bravery of such a small human child.
(For those of you who were wondering when the next installment was coming, here ya go! Thanks for being patient!)