It has come to my attention that as I look over the chapters in my own story, I've made two glaring mistakes so far. Number one: in the first chapter, I said Alucard couldn't understand human speech as a bat, but in chapter 4, I have him listening to a conversation as a bat. Eep! Let's just say Alucard was ignoring Maria at the time. Number two: London was not bombed by Germany in 1937. It's supposed to be 1940. Now that I've taken a 20th civ class, I feel I have to make this distinction. Another note: Tirgoviste doesn't exist as a town anymore, so I'm taking authorial license there.
Someone was kind enough to prod me gently to writing chapters again by asking, "Who do I have to kill to get you to write again?" So here ya go! Wham! Let me just say that college life is not conducive to free time to write stories. Here we go!
The departing ship cut through the dark waters of the Dimbovita. Three figures watched it go. "So now that the sailors have given us a lift and the religious orders can only wait for us to get finished, I guess we're on our own," LeCarde said, pulling his jacket tighter to his chest.
"Do we really have to walk all the way to the castle?" Louis asked. "I can't even see anything. It's gonna be so far."
Alucard shot the young Belmont a look and Louis' complaints ceased. "You can't see anything yet, but I can feel a pull coming east of here. If memory serves and things haven't changed much, there should be a small village near the castle called Brasov. What shape we'll find the village in is anyone's guess." The half-breed had donned his archaic finery once again. He snapped his cape around him and began walking. Louis walked a little ahead. LeCarde looked up at the overcast sky and shivered. He fell beside Dracula's son.
"What do you have against Louis anyway?" LeCarde asked.
"I don't understand what you mean," Alucard answered, not wanting to pick up the subject again.
"You are so cold to him. You don't care at all, do you? You just want to get him trained and get this all over with just so you can sleep in your cold coffin."
"What if I do? What business is it of yours? I promised Richter Belmont I would help train future generations of vampire hunters if they were in need. I never promised to like my task or to be easy on who I'm training. Louis, despite his age and many faults, is becoming a halfway decent fighter. He seems to be putting his fears behind him and not being such a nuisance."
LeCarde's eyes sparked with anger, but before he could retort, Louis screamed something. A Warg rider barreled right for the party. The beast howled at what it thought would be a delicious meal. Alucard slid to the side and unsheathed his sword. The rider was quick and skilled; he pulled his mount around to face Alucard. Before the half-breed could get his sword up, the rider's sword flashed down. It nearly clove into his shoulder, but the sword passed by with a whisper of space between steel and skin. Louis' whip had wrapped around the hind leg of the Warg and neatly broke the ankle. Alucard snarled at his own ineptitude and used his blade's secret power to strike a few quick blows behind and in front of the fallen rider. Armor clattered to the ground. The heavy boom of LeCarde's shotgun made quick work of the Warg.
There was a moment all three looked at each other. Louis looked at the two older men. LeCarde smiled at his cousin and said, "Great job kid." Alucard looked back at Louis for a long moment before saying, "We need to get going. If that was some kind of scout, they'll find him soon enough and come looking for us." He turned to the east again. Louis' face fell when Alucard made no sign of thanks for his work. I must not have done something right for Mr. Alucard. Someday, I'll make him smile. Stowing this disappointment back with the others in his mind, Louis began to follow.
No one said much of anything as they kept on their course to the east. When it seemed as though true night had fallen behind the overcast sky, the three stopped for the night by a copse of trees dotting the land. "Hey, Louis, you get things set up over here. I need to talk to Alucard about something."
Alucard's upper lip curled in annoyance at LeCarde's insistence about Louis, but knew it would be better for the whole mission if the army man got whatever it was off his chest. "Practice with that whip when you're done setting things up," he yelled at the younger Belmont.
"Yes, Mr. Alucard!" was the reply.
Both of the men walked a little ways toward the far side of the copse. "I think I have it finally figured out why you're so cold," LeCarde said.
"Oh? That's your brilliant thing you wished to tell me? Not going to needle me about Louis again, are you?" Alucard replied, showing a bit of fang to the human.
"The reason you're so cold is that you don't understand how people think and feel. You pride yourself on being better than your vampire blood, but you also seem to pride yourself on being better than your human blood. So where does that leave you? Way up top with no one there. It's lonely at the top."
"Look, I don't see what this," Alucard started.
"Shut the hell up for a while! You think you're so noble. You don't really complain about your cursed blood, but you have this look about you that you're suffering. Oooh yeah, you're really suffering. So your parents weren't at all the same. Big deal! Whose parents are at all normal? Granted, one of your parents wasn't human and you really hate your father's guts, but lots of people hate their parents. You're not unique, you know.
"You drag your feet at the thought of killing your father yet again. You don't want to do it. Well, buddy, let me tell you, a lot of men in the army didn't want to kill people. The U.S. didn't want to get involve in a war that didn't seem like their problem. But after we got bombed by Japan, we realized that we have a duty to make sure that no more people get killed just because someone felt like creating their own empire out of Europe. Fighting and killing is hard and not easy at all. But sometimes you have no choice but to do just that.
"And what about this thing of making a man out of Louis? Okay, I know that you have to train him, but why do you insist on beating the feeling out of him? What good does that do? If you want to find suffering, take a look at Louis. His whole family…" LeCarde stopped his tirade to sniff and rub a knuckle into suspiciously wet eyes.
Alucard gave the man a puzzled look. "You're crying? But you hardly knew the Belmonts."
"Yes. I'm crying. Does that surprise you? Does it really surprise you to know that humans have emotion and show it? That I'm sad over the fact an entire family got slaughtered by monsters? Yes, I hardly knew them, but I've been with them before. They were good people.
"Maybe it would surprise you even more to realize that Louis is hurting bad now because his entire family is dead. Yes, I know that he doesn't show it to you at all. He's only doing that because you don't want him to show any emotion.
"But let me tell you something. He is ten years old. He watched his family getting eaten and slaughtered by beasts right before his eyes. He is a child and his whole family, a whole child's support system has just been sheared away. He has nothing to cling to…except you."
"Yes, you. Louis loves you, Alucard. You are all he has left. He wants so badly to please you, because he's afraid you're going to leave him. All you do is treat him harshly. Each time you do that, you make him lose any hope that you'll come around. Sure, he wants to help you defeat the people who killed his family, but most of all, he's a child who badly needs someone to believe in."
Alucard, for once, didn't have any sort of retort for the human. "L-love me? But why?"
LeCarde shrugged. "How can you explain why people love other people? You are his shaky support right now. You need to straighten things out for him so Louis can be a strong person to fight."
"He will never be strong. As you say, he's a child."
LeCarde got so angry that he slapped Alucard across the face. The half-breed staggered. "You are so fucking stubborn!" he hissed. "He is strong! He has faith that is stronger than anything I've ever seen and that is a key part in being a vampire hunter. You think your strength takes care of everything. You, my friend, would have already been dead by now, if not for Louis."
"What are you talking about?"
"I talked to Louis earlier. He told me you stayed at the safe house in the woods."
"So? That safe house has a magical field erected around it by the priests and priestesses of Sypha. It's designed to kill anything with even a drop of dark blood. You, despite all your noble posturing, definitely fit in that category. And this has nothing to do with crucifixes. Pure holy power wipes out darkness, is it not so?"
Alucard shook his head in denial, but then remembered. In his wolf form, he had started to feel pain while passing a barrier, but it had stopped when Louis said it was safe to travel. "You mean…because Louis believed in me, the power saw me as an ally of Louis' and let me pass?" LeCarde nodded.
The half-breed wasn't sure what to feel. I do consider myself to be alone in the world. And I was so sure I was in charge of everything. Silently he walked back to their camp.
Louis had apparently finished his exercises, for when he came in Alucard's line of sight, he placed the whip down. Alucard hid behind some of the trees. The child looked around to see if anyone approached and when no one showed up, he crumpled to the ground and started sobbing. Alucard wanted to dart forward right then, but LeCarde crept up beside him and clamped a restraining hand on his shoulder. "Don't go to him yet. Look and see what I'm talking about."
The child knew he was crying really loud, but he hoped Alucard and LeCarde wouldn't be able to hear him. "God? Are…are you really there? 'Cause I'm really sad. I wish you d-didn't h-have to take my family. I want my mommy! I want my daddy! I want Christine! I want Uncle Lars." He dissolved into helpless tears for a long time, not knowing he was being watched the whole time.
After the initial outburst, Louis sniffed and wiped his eyes. "I'm sorry, God. I know you're just keeping them safe for me." Louis craned his neck until he was looking at the sky. "God, why is Alucard so sad? And what can I do to make him happy? I really thought that after I helped stop that Warg rider, he'd start liking me. But he didn't do anything. Sometimes, God, I don't know if I want to make him happy anymore. But I know that you said we have to love people even if they're strange or if they hurt us. Maybe…maybe if I get a big monster all by myself, Mr. Alucard will stop being sad." Louis nodded to himself. That seemed like a good idea. "I'll try and do that next time. God, just don't make Mr. Alucard any sadder, okay? Thank you." The child stood up and sighed. "I'd better do some extra practicing so Mr. Alucard doesn't find anything wrong this time," he decided aloud. He hefted his whip one more time and started cracking it at imaginary targets.
After Alucard decided that enough time had gone by after Louis' decision, he walked back to camp. Louis stopped his practicing and stood straight up at attention. "Mr. Alucard! I set up everything and I'm practicing really hard now."
Alucard looked down at the child who gazed up at him. No sadness remained in those eyes. Only a quiet faith remained. Am I really that cold to him? And yet, he still believes in everything I'm doing. Isn't this exactly what Richter wanted? Someone who wasn't afraid to believe the old tales. Someone who still believed in what the Belmonts stood for.
"Mr. Alucard? Are you all right? You look very sad."
I look sad? My mother was killed, but that was a long time ago and she is at peace. Your entire family was killed, and you can be concerned how I feel? Something prompted him to go speak. "Louis, I am not…good at expressing feelings. Things have happened to me that do make me sad. But lots of things have happened to make you sad as well. And, if I…if I…have added to that, I'm sorry." He felt very awkward talking about his feelings. He knelt down to be at Louis' level and shyly embraced the child. Louis, immediately realizing that his beloved Alucard was pleased with him, forgave every sad moment in a heartbeat. He wrapped his small child arms tightly around Alucard's chest.
LeCarde walked up to the two of them and placed a hand on Alucard's shoulder. He looked up. "Nice start," the army man said, grinning.
Even though the skies darkened as they progressed, the mood of the three vampire hunters was decidedly lighter. Louis strode forward, sometimes looking back at Alucard and just grinning. Alucard felt awed by the amount of faith in the child's eyes. He's so scarred by what happened, yet so innocent and full of faith. Alucard frowned. That sounded vaguely familiar, but he couldn't place it, so he shrugged and kept on walking.
Even though the clouds darkened the world, it was only midday when the three made it to the remains of Barsov. A low lying fog permeated the abandoned village. "Looks like no one's lived here in a long time," LeCarde said.
"Indeed," replied Alucard.
"How come you thought people would be living here?"
"There were people here the last I remember. But if what you say about the war is correct, then the powers of my father probably started here before anywhere and either drove everyone away or killed the people who lived here. The fog was probably someone's dramatic flare, like Death's."
"Is there anything we should do while we're here, Mr. Alucard?"
"Yes. We might want to have a look around. This village used to be known for holding powerful relics against evil. It was probably why my father struck here. Even if no one is around, he might not have been able to destroy the relics. So let's see if we can find anything. Louis, you stay with LeCarde. I'll look in the other direction." LeCarde and Louis trotted off toward some dilapidated houses.
Alucard poked around a few houses and didn't find any relics or remains of people. Inside a peculiar looking cabinet, he did find a few stoppered vials of blue liquid. Ah. Healing potion. These might be useful. Just as he pocketed the vials, a large object whipped in through the window. Alucard ducked and the object demolished the cabinet behind him. He looked up and saw a small hand scythe imbedded in the wood. Is it Death?
More hand scythes started tearing up the inside of the house. Alucard quickly shifted into wolf form and leapt out the window. Even as he dodged another set of hand scythes, he changed back into his human form. A figure draped in a black hooded cloak held a pair of hand scythes. Alucard couldn't see the figure's face. It's not Death. He'd be all to happy to display his bony visage. The figure then leapt up high into the air, more than was humanly possible, and flung a few more hand scythes. He's materializing the weapons right into his hands!
Alucard hissed when his inattention to battle caused a cruel curved blade to bite deep into his bicep. With his uninjured hand he gestured. "Dark Metamorphisis!" Alucard felt his fangs lengthen after the chanting of the spell. Then he turned to the cloaked figure and proceeded to attack. The figure was not at all stupid. Alucard wasn't even able to get close and for his troubles, he tripped over the handle of an embedded hand scythe. He could only just being to get to his feet when he saw the figure poised to throw…
A wickedly large sword whipped into view and cut a huge bloody swath into the figure. "AAHHH!" it cried out and gestured. It disappeared. The blood that had spurted from the wound landed upon Alucard. The last of the spell sucked the needed blood into him and sealed the wound closed. Alucard turned and saw LeCarde and Louis.
"Look what we found, Mr. Alucard! It talks!" Louis exclaimed.
Alucard looked up at the Sword Familiar. "Your blade is as sharp as ever."
"Master! I have risen from a sound sleep and I await the taste of more blood. The castle has risen again. Are we going to fight them?
Alucard looked to where the sword stopped its lazy circling and was pointing. Castlevania stood on the lands of the old Castle Dracula, a mountainous outcrop about two miles outside the remains of Borsov. The wings sprawled to cover the high lands. "Is that where we're going?" LeCarde asked.
"That's right. Are you both ready?"
Louis patted the whip at his side. LeCarde took twin pistols from his belt and grinned.
"We go forward then."