Alucard looked up at his father as he held LeCarde Morris' neck with one gloved hand. Alucard still felt the power was over him, wanting to rule as was his right. Even if he only shared half the bloodline of his father, he was still above every human in the world. I want...I want... He started out of his thoughts when he felt Louis tug on his overcoat, looking up at him with frightened eyes. Alucard felt a twinge of guilt at the way his thoughts were going. If I ruled humans, I would have to rule Louis too... The half-breed fought against the compulsion being laid subtly into his mind. I....I....I don't WANT to rule Louis.... Alucard shook his head to clear his thoughts.
"So! You'd rather let me kill this man than join me? You really have sunk to their level, haven't you?" Dracula tightened his hold on LeCarde's neck; the man made a small noise of fear in his throat.
"Mr. Alucard, he's going to kill my cousin," Louis whispered in a shaky voice.
Alucard worried his lower lip under his teeth. To rule to save a friend....or to lose one...? He felt frustrated by the all-or-nothing choice.
Alucard and Louis had their eyes on Dracula and the Dark One had his eyes on them. No one had their eyes on LeCarde. The army man smiled grimly. He hadn't quite believed in the stories of vampire hunting with his father and grandfather, but he had been superstitious enough to always carry a certain vampire killing instrument on his person. Quincy Morris' grandson reached a hand to a secret sheath in the inner lining of his jacket. "For my grandfather!" he croaked and with a quick motion, he stabbed backwards with the bowie knife into Dracula's side.
Startled and in pain, Dracula roared and loosened his grip on his captive. Alucard also jerked upright, freed from Dracula's subtle influence. Louis cracked the whip on Dracula's hand, intent on not letting it strangle his cousin again. Alucard shifted his gaze for a moment and shrieked, "LeCarde!" The army man jerked his whole body to the side, but army trained reflexes weren't fast enough for the supernatural powers of the DA. A hand scythe ripped a bloody arc across his chest, cutting deep. The warm blood sprayed towards Alucard, hitting his face and ruffled collar. LeCarde's gaze was transfixed somewhere to the ceiling and his mouth moved soundlessly. He balanced precariously on the outer edge of his left foot for a silent moment before he fell to the ground. Blood slowly spread along the cracks in the stone floor. Alucard's throat burned and he distractedly noted that the feeling seemed to come from the outside and not in.
Louis' childish cry of horror cut through Alucard's confusion with as much force as the hand scythe. The DA floated toward Dracula, helping his master up. Alucard tightened his grip on his blade and Louis held his whip at the ready. Dracula smiled shakily, albeit he seemed to gain strength with every passing moment. "Do you see how loyal this one is to me? He is more of a son to me than you ever were, Alucard. It is a shame the Belmonts did not teach this one when they could, for their loss is my gain." He stood up fully, glaring down at Louis and Alucard. "Have you come to try to stop me again, son? I don't think it's going to work this time. You have no help and no time." The Dark One kicked LeCarde until he rolled into the wall, leaving a bloody trail in his wake. The man moaned once and curled in on himself to stop the blood flow.
Alucard gritted his teeth. The whip in Louis' hand shook with the child's fear. Even through all of this, Louis gazed up at Alucard with his quiet faith that things would go right. Alucard's throat did indeed tighten, this time from the inside. He gazed back at the DA and his father and sneered. He jumped towards the DA, still half transforming into a wolf. He howled and performed a powerful rush attack that caused the DA to fly into the wall with a resounding crack. With swiftness, Alucard transformed back into himself. Dracula, still a bit slow from being stabbed, could only gasp in reaction. "Louis! I will handle the DA. You will handle my father. Make me proud." Louis actually smiled and with a yelp, he cracked the whip in Dracula's face.
Alucard's face was glacial calm as he watched the DA shakily pick himself off the floor. Louis, bless his noble heart, would never fight anyone of his own family. I pray I made the right choice. "So, you really were willing to do anything to learn to fight, even if it was for the wrong side. Pathetic."
Crispin Belmont flipped back his black cowl to reveal his still youthful features. One of his eyes was beginning to puff up. "You were supposed to teach me! But you refused! So I found someone much better than you could ever be." He pointed a finger accusingly at him. "You're just like all those other people! All high and mighty and so full of yourselves that it's too much trouble for you to look down and help those not as great as you! Oh yes! Let's all hail the great 'majesty' and 'wonder' of the Belmonts. Let's all be stuck up prigs and not teach anything to someone who doesn't think or do everything to the letter! That's what you all are!"
Alucard didn't even bat an eyelid. "You are really pitiful. You twist the truth to suit your own lies. You only wanted power and not any responsibility. And you really think my father shows any concern for you? You are only useful for a moment to him. Then he'll toss you away because he already owns your soul. How else do you already know how to fight in so little time?" He hefted his sword into a ready position. Moonlight reflected off the blade in thousands of steely lights.
Crispin's strength seemed to falter under Alucard's words. But then he puffed himself up with the same lies he had done all his life. "You're full of it! You just think you're better than me because the Belmonts liked you more! But I'll show you!" He materialized two hand scythes and whipped them at Alucard's face. Dracula's son quickly brought up his shield to protect him and they bounced harmlessly to the ground. His inhuman eyes pierced Crispin. Then he shifted forward fast, too fast for one too new to inhuman powers, and slashed him good on the arm. Crispin shrieked with outrage and the battle was joined.
Alucard was hard-pressed to deal with Crispin. The Belmont had the ability to materialize his weapons at will and he did it repeatedly. Sometimes Alucard didn't bring his shield up in time and he was sliced by the blades. He would shift forms to occasionally confuse Crispin and to score a few more blows. Crispin occasionally floated upwards and to the side to avoid Alucard's attacks. He could also command his scythes to chase Alucard, even as the half-breed dodged behind stone pillars and tables.
At one point in their battle, Alucard jumped forward. Crispin threw a hand scythe at his approaching form. Without transition, Alucard transformed into a poison cloud and settled around the DA's head, choking the life out of him. Crispin grabbed at his throat and coughed hard, trying to expel the poison in his lungs. His eyes watering, he concentrated with all his being on his power. The sheer darkness of the power starting to coalesce around him began to counter the poison cloud. With a loud cry, Crispin thrust the power into the cloud. The poison mist shuddered, as though taking a blow, and Alucard was slammed back into existence, falling flat on his back.
Quickly he whipped his shield in front of his face to counter the darkly gleaming hand scythe flying toward him. Crispin howled and held another scythe in his hand, running to the still dazed Alucard and slamming the blade hard into the shield. Black flames engulfed the shield. Alucard howled in pain and threw the shield from his arm. He shifted his body and whipped his blade to counter Crispin's scythe. He couldn't move his shield arm; the black flames had paralyzed its length. He could only counter one scythe with his blade. He grunted in pain and Crispin plunged the sickle blade into his left shoulder. The DA slowly sunk the curved blade into the flesh. He grinned, despite his wounds. "Go on. Beg for me to stop! I could slice through your whole arm at the shoulder. Even for a half-breed, that would spell your death. Then I'll take care of that upstart who took my proper place. I won't let him die as easily as you. He'll be screaming for hours until I finish him."
Alucard's breath stopped in his throat for a moment. Then he looked up at Crispin with absolute hatred. His eyes filled with hot battle lust and he hissed, his fangs lengthening dangerously. The DA stopped his tirade for a moment, hesitating in the face of the half-breed. The moment's hesitation was all Alucard needed. With an inhuman cry erupting from his lips, he shifted one knee up to push Crispin away from him. His mouth twisted into a grimace when the hand scythe ripped down from his shoulder to his waist, but he smacked Crispin in the face with the flat of the blade, sending the DA sprawling. The bloodied hand scythe dropped from Crispin's hand. Hissing in pain, Alucard forced himself to stand, making his left hand fight the paralysis and grab the handle of the scythe. He stood, holding both the family blade and the darkly gleaming scythe. "I won't let you touch Louis." The sentence was said without raising his voice, but Crispin backed off hastily, trembling wild look on Alucard's face.
Panting against the pain of the blood oozing out the long slash, Alucard strode forward, his whole being intent on stopping Crispin. The DA trembled, but with a shout, he let loose two scythes. Alucard moved his head a little; one blade nicked a scar into his cheek. The other ricocheted off Alucard's blade back to Crispin, scoring a deep gash in his arm. Crispin clutched his injured arm against his chest. He gathered the last bit of his power and with a shout, he sent a darkly gleaming scythe spinning toward Alucard's head. Alucard threw both his arms up and vanished. The scythe buried itself into a stone column. Crispin, baffled, looked around to attempt to find Alucard. A heartbeat later, Alucard appeared right in front of him. The half-breed opened his cloak and three fireballs streaked from him. Crispin howled and managed to take out two fireballs with well placed scythes. The third scorched his legs and caused him to topple over in agony. Alucard calmly walked over to Crispin and forced him to stand by placing the sword blade at his throat. "You disgust me. I could have easily taught you how to fight. The Belmonts could have taught you how to fight, but you wanted pure power, not power mixed with knowledge as the Belmonts would have given you. Dracula only gave you temporary power. He did nothing to make the void in your heart. Being a bastard didn't make you evil, but you used it as your excuse for everything. No one owes you anything in life." Crispin looked at him fearfully. Alucard hefted the dark scythe, getting ready to swing it.
"Y-y-you're not going to kill me, are you?"
Alucard's eyes pierced the man's soul. "What I do to you will be nothing to what generations of Belmonts will do to you for betraying the line with your cursed heart!" Alucard swiped the scythe across the man's throat, biting deep. The blade cut through trachea and the great veins and arteries of the neck, washing Alucard in a spray of blood. Crispin slumped to the floor, his eyes staring out in horror at something beyond this world. Alucard snarled and threw the scythe away from him. His throat burned again in the peculiar manner it had when LeCarde had been slashed. There's something...something important to that...
The half-breed turned away from Crispin's corpse and whirled towards the cry. He had forgotten about Louis!
Dracula showed a few marks of various weapons: whip, boomerang, dagger, and holy water. The marks were all superficial, however. He had been playing around with Louis, laughing with delight as the child had attempted to fight with him. Louis' shirt was burnt through on one side and his right hand oozed blood from where he had swatted one of his daggers out of the air, after it had been thrown back at him by Dracula. Soon, the Dark One had tired of the playing and had rushed forward and grabbed the child's waist and lifted him up. Louis' legs kicked out frantically, but were woefully too short to cause any damage. "Alucard! Help me!" he shrieked.
Alucard ran and tripped over his own feet, his side flaring in painful reminder of his injuries. He looked up in horror. Dracula turned his head to smile evilly down at his son. "I'm glad you got rid of that upstart. I had no doubt of your abilities there. But you insult me by sending a child to fight me!" Louis struggled silently until Dracula shook him bodily. "Instead of killing him, I think I'll do something even better." Dracula hissed and his fangs grew to a dangerous length. He grinned in blood lust. "I could use another son. And his blood would be the sweetest for being the last and most innocent of them all." Louis whimpered fearfully at the Dark One, his limbs paralyzed with fear. Dracula turned to Louis, opening his mouth to give him the kiss of black eternity. Louis only whimpered softly, "Alucard..."
Alucard's mind shrieked in outrage at what was about to happen to the one who had melted through his glacial attitude and touched his heart. Adrenaline flooded his limbs and raced towards Dracula and his slowly descending fangs. Alucard could not tell if had changed form to reach his father but he knew he fairly flew to stop the ending of the Belmont line.
Louis looked up from where he lay dazed on the stone floor. He clapped a hand to his mouth and his eyes grew wide with horror. Dracula's fangs sunk deep into the collarbone of Alucard. The Dark One's bloodlust was so great he did not realize his victims had been switched. For a long moment, Dracula held his son in a capturing grip, lost in the ecstasy of his power. Then Louis saw him blink and gasp and rip his fangs out so fast he gashed Alucard, splashing blood on Alucard's now ruined finery. Alucard fell backward and staggered, unable to straighten up. "Alucard, my son," said Dracula, his eyebrows upswept with concern.
Alucard's teeth clenched together tightly. He felt the burning at his throat again, but it took a back seat to the awful coldness seeping from his collarbone. He collapsed to his knees and hugged himself tightly, his face touching the stone ground. "Alucard!" Louis screamed, swiftly standing up. Dracula flicked a look of contempt at Louis, but ignored the human. He walked towards Alucard slowly. "My son, let me help you. Tell me what is wrong."
Louis could see Alucard's body shaking. Dracula had walked almost the whole distance between him and Alucard before the half-breed's head whipped up and he screeched. The sound was unbearable, several octaves above human capacity. The cry didn't cease even as Alucard fell to his side, his whole body twitching in violent spasms. "Alucard!" his father cried out, rushing towards him. The half-breed slashed at his face with a wolf's paw, sending him staggering back. Louis wanted to scream himself. Alucard's body, while it wasn't twitching, randomly changed from his different forms, one flailing arm wavering between a bat's wing and a human arm, a twitching leg wavering between a human one and a wolfish one. He rolled rapidly along the ground as though his body was on fire and he was trying to put it out.
He paused in his attack for a moment to lift up his face and howl in an eerie blending of a human scream and a wolf's howl. Make...it....stop! Make...it...stop! Dark eldritch powers licked his whole body, attempting to change him and kill his human soul. His fangs lengthened as he felt his will being drained. Salty tears mixed with the blood of his wounds along his neck. A wisp of Alucard's mind focused on the burning of his throat. Blood...burning....burning bright.... Whimpering at the little remains of his will, he clawed at his throat. The burning....blood....important. He clawed and snarled at the face of his father, sending him back with another slash of his paw. He felt half formed claws slash apart a leather thong on his neck and something metallic hit the ground. A pendant. His mind struggled to understand why it was burning brightly, why it seemed just about to burst with power. Shines with blood...for power...artifact...silver...cursed...shining...last! Last! Scarred and last! He forced his fingers to close around the pendant, forced himself to look up at his father, but his eyes and heart all for Louis. "Louissss!" he shrieked, his fangs making him hiss. Uttering a cry at throwing away his only light, he sent the pendant spinning through the air.
Even with his wounded hand, he reached out and grabbed the pendant, the blood squelching as his fingers curled around the object. Alucard uttered one long moan of despair and he fell back to the floor, his body trembling violently. Louis bit his lip to prevent the tears from falling down his face. They're all gone... He had to clench his jaw muscles to stop a sob from escaping. He turned his gaze on Dracula, who was still looking stunned at the bundle that was his son. "Why?" Louis asked with a sob. "Why did you do this to me?" Dracula turned to look at him. "What did I ever do to you? Why are you so mean?"
"I want power. It's something too young for you to understand. If you want power, you have to be willing to do anything to get it."
"Don't you care about anything?"
Dracula actually grew pensive. He swept his cloak around him to face Louis. "I did. But she's gone. Now I only care about power."
Louis wanted to scream. "Why? Why did you take everyone from me? You took them all! All! All my family, my mother, my father, my sister, my brothers, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, LeCarde, Crispin...and you took Alucard away from me," he finished. Childlike sobs ripped from him but he stared back at the Dark One defiantly. "But you know what? You won't stop me! I'm going to stop you!"
Alucard managed to quirk his lips in a brief smile. My Louis...I'm so...proud...and...I...love... The dark powers washed over his last thought.
Dracula had to laugh. "And how are you going to stop me? You, a little child? Are you going to try to stop me where everyone else failed? What can you do?"
Louis looked right in the eyes of the Dark One. There was a certain sense of resignation to all that had happened around him, but he lifted his chin up proudly. "I believe. That's what I do."
He couldn't see that a warm glow began to emanate from his closed fist. Dracula could and he backed up a step. "I won't let you do this to anyone else. I'll stop you! I'll stop you from hurting any other children and taking their families and everybody they love from them!" He clenched his fist tightly and he stared back at Dracula, unafraid. His whole body began to quake with the rush of adrenaline.
"What does it matter what you will do? No one will ever know what you'll do. And when you die, no one will care!" Dark powers began to gather around Dracula.
"They're all watching me from heaven! They all know and they're all watching! And Alucard knows! He trained me to fight you! I won't let you make anyone that sad anymore!" The light began to escape from the cracks between his fingers. Louis raised his glowing fist to the sky in triumph. "I will stop you!"
"You cannot stop me at all! You are nothing and I will send your soul screaming into Chaos!" Dark flames raced towards the vampire hunter, eager to consume his flesh.
Louis lifted back his head and screamed a wild war cry.
Light exploded from his hand. It rushed up, out, over, and through. The spears of light pierced and dissolved the flames of darkness. Dracula covered his eyes with an arm and screamed as the light covered him and everything around them. For an eternity, Dracula covered his eyes, but gradually, when he felt no pain he uncovered his eyes. The entire world was darkness. Nothing of the room could be seen at all. He heard a distinct whimper from Louis somewhere.
Sparkling blue mists began to filter through the darkness, bringing about a little light. Both Dracula and Louis looked all around them, fearful at what was happening. A blue streak of light erupted from the ground and screamed off into the sky. It gradually lifted the still form of LeCarde until he hovered gently. Another blue streak of light flew through the stars and made Alucard hover gently. The light encased them, keeping them safe.
One by one, the torches relit themselves in flames of blue. A hand touched Louis' shoulder. He looked behind him and gasped in astonishment.
Dracula tried to peer through the mists, but could hardly see in front of his own face. "Where are you, child? What trickery have you wrought here?" A figure began to emerge from the blue mist. "There you are!" Dracula cried out. The figure leapt forward into Dracula's line of sight. The man was dressed in crude chain mail and carried a double-bladed axe along with a whip at his side. "Wh-what is this?"
"I remember you, foul fiend! You nearly wiped out our band of warriors until I stopped you!" The man grinned fearlessly.
"I don't know who you are!" Dracula called forth power to give him a sword. He rushed the strange man and engaged in brief battle.
The warrior slapped Dracula across the face with the flat of his axe. Dracula stabbed at his stomach. Instead of bleeding, the warrior began to fade slowly. "I was the first..." his voice echoed.
"And I was the second!" A huge brawny man, wearing the garb of Vikings rode a large war-horse. He raised a huge warhammer and sent the Dark One sprawling. His mount reared and attempted to flail Dracula with murderous hooves. Dracula snarled and sent lightning crashing down on the figure making him disappear.
Dracula healed slowly and fought off three more men before rendering them invisible with one stroke. The Dark One didn't understand where all these men had come from until he felt a flame whip sear his clothing. He looked up to see Sonia Belmont smiling wickedly at him. "Why hello there. It's been a while."
The Dark One felt his stomach drop lower in his torso. He was fighting all the Belmont family! "This is not possible! All of you are dead! Those I didn't kill died naturally!"
Sonia laughed mockingly, flailing the flame whip at him again and again until Dracula got in a lucky shot and made her vanish. "I'm rather surprised at you. I would have thought you'd figure it out by now." Dracula whirled around to see Trevor Belmont stretching out his simple leather whip. Dracula howled and used his powers to change his form into that of a longnecked scaly gold dragon. He breathed fire and attempted to fry Trevor on the spot. Trevor dodged and two more figures appeared. Grant DaNasty jumped high and whipped a dagger into the dragon's eye, making it screech horribly. Sypha cast a spell and froze the fire as it erupted from the dragon's mouth. Trevor whipped his boomerang at the dragon, hitting it again and again and making scales fall to the ground. Roaring, the dragon lifted his mighty tail and whipped it around, wiping out all three vampire hunters at once. Due his wounds, the dragon changed to a smaller form, to that of a large wolf type creature. He looked up to see Simon Belmont appear, smiling coldly.
"It seems in all these meetings, you've never understood the family you've been fighting." Simon was one of the best vampire hunters of all time. Their battle raged on forever. In that time, Dracula changed form again, to something horrific with many legs and arms. Finally, he wiped out Simon, but he was soon replaced by another fighter.
And so it went. Dracula's enormous strength gained at the cost of the war was being ebbed by fighter after fighter. They all made their mark, even those who'd never fought him before. Christopher, Solieyu, Richter, Maria, their children, their grandchildren, Quincey Morris, John Morris, Eric LeCarde. Then a whole family began to attack him, from children throwing rocks to old timers shooting guns and flailing whips at him. "This is for the chance I never got!" screamed Christine Belmont. Her mighty hit sent Dracula out of his morphed form and back into his vampire one, completely drained of any energy to change his form ever again.
All the members of the Belmont family reappeared again and formed a large circle. Only then did the last Belmont appear. "You never understood us because you have no family! The Belmonts only got greater through time because of their spirit and not through any dark powers. The family never died and it never will die because there will ALWAYS be someone to fight you, even if their name isn't Belmont!" Louis hefted the ancient whip in his hand. "Even your own son has fought you because he has our spirit! And you cut him down like you cut LeCarde down! I will fight you and win because I believe!"
Dracula had nowhere to go. The circle of Belmonts contained them both, giving silent strength to Louis. Though small, Louis seemed to be infused with the spirit of all the Belmonts. Even so, Dracula knew this vampire hunter would not disappear with one blow. He could be killed.
Their fight went on and on in the timeless space. The Dark One tried everything in his power, fireballs, lightning, swordplay, it didn't matter because Louis kept on coming. Dracula didn't attack Louis as much as he prevented the child from landing any blows. Every time the whip snapped him, horrible wounds would appear and would spike pain through his body. Dracula did score some major blows on the child, ragged clothing and nasty slashes being the result.
Finally, it seemed as though both their energies were running down and it was only a question of who would give in first. Dracula raised his hands up high and shrieked, "I will destroy you!" To the dismay of the Belmonts, dark energy, darker than anything Dracula had tried before, streaked out of his hands and slammed into the Belmont, surrounding him. "There is no one that can help you! You can see no one and hear no one! You are all alone and you will die!"
Louis howled, the darkness shaking him to his soul. There was no one there to help him out. No one would save him. He couldn't quite give up. There was no one around and it almost felt as if there never was anyone who had ever helped him. Even so, he looked up to the sky and with a trembling hand, made the sign of the cross. He smiled a little, as though remembering something. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he stood up. "It doesn't matter if there's no one in the whole world who will be with me!" he howled into the darkness. "Someone beyond all that loves me and I will not fail Him. And I know there were other people once with me because I can remember them and love them! I believe it!"
Light began to gather around him, piercing the darkness. Dracula, along with the Belmont family, was astonished. Louis carried no weapon in his hands. He was only armed by his faith. And it gathered around him in a white column of light. Louis faced Dracula with calm resolution. "I'm sorry. You'll never understand. You'll never have enough love in your heart to understand." He held out his hands and light pierced the dark powers and pierced the form of Dracula.
The Dark One couldn't even howl as the light surrounded him. "This cannot be! You were the most powerful one of all? I would have killed you and left your family alone, if I had known! If I'd only known...!" The light burst into purifying flame and swept the area clean. The light faded and nothing remained of Dracula.
Louis pitched to his knees, still grievously wounded. But he looked at the space where Dracula once stood and couldn't help but smile. I did it. I didn't have to be strong or skilled. I just needed to believe I could do it. Then he felt his mother and father and all his family surrounding him and hugging him. The feeling of having so much power faded and he was still a child who missed his family. He sobbed into the arms of his mother, father, sister, brothers, all his family. "It's okay to cry now for us," his sister said. "It's all over."
Louis sniffed and wiped his eyes and looked up at his family and saw the larger family of the Belmonts was there too, offering their support. "But...but...it's not over yet!" Louis tried to stand, but swayed. Sypha came out of the crowd and put her hand on Louis' shoulder and Louis immediately felt better, although his clothing was a mess. He turned to look at the two men supported by the beams of blue light. "LeCarde and Alucard are still hurt...and Alucard's..." Louis broke off, sniffling again.
Quincy Morris, John Morris, and Eric LeCarde walked towards the suspended form of LeCarde. His father smiled briefly. "I'll be damned...my son is one tough bastard." He reached through the light to touch his son on his shoulder. He grabbed hands with the other two men and surrounded the younger Morris. All three men concentrated so hard Louis could see wispy light flow from their clasped hands. The beam of light vanished and LeCarde slumped to the floor. He groaned and rubbed his head and looked up. "What? Dad? Eric? What the hell is going on here?"
"We're happy to see you too, son. But we can't celebrate yet. Look."
Alucard, unlike LeCarde, had been conscious throughout the whole spectacle, but was unable to do anything, due to the light. The light suspended not only his body, but all the dark power that had seeped into his blood. He could only watch numbly as the Belmonts walked toward him. "Dracula hurt Alucard really bad. You...you think you can fix him?" Louis asked.
Trevor Belmont walked up to the figure of his old compatriot. "Damn me! You certainly got yourself in a fix old friend." Alucard's lips quirked up briefly in a smile. "But I'll be willing to help you any way I can."
Richter Belmont also approached the form of Alucard. "Oh dear God. I never thought something like this could ever happen to you. You might not have thought much of me in my time, but I've become an expert at vampire symptoms. Let me see where he stuck you." Richter let his hand pass through the blue light and moved the ruined collar aside and saw the puncture wounds. "Did he make you suck some of his blood?" Alucard shook his head slowly.
Louis tugged on Richter's coat. "It was an accident, sir. Dracula was trying to do that to me and Alucard pushed me out of the way and he..." The child couldn't finish.
Richter nodded. "Then Dracula must have been shocked and let you go. Did you fall under the darkness before the light pushed it back?" Alucard looked pained, but he nodded. "Damn." He looked out at all the Belmonts. They all turned their gazes back to Richter. "We have a problem. Alucard was punctured by the powers of his father. He had already gone under the darkness before we showed up. The light here now is the only thing that is keeping him whole. That leaves us with three choices. If we let the light go, Alucard will be insane and we will have to kill him as soon as he emerges." Several boos, notably from Trevor, Sonia, Sypha, and Grant came from the crowd. "The second choice is we keep him in the light and he vanishes with us when we leave." There was some muttering in the crowd. "The third choice is the risky one." Richter turned to Alucard. "If the whole family pools its powers together, we can kill off most of the poison in you. But if we do that, we'll kill off most of your vampire half. If this works, you will no longer be able to change form and you will be rendered mortal and one day die. The only way it can work is if you have a strong connection to the world of the living."
Alucard turned his head slowly and looked straight at Louis. He mouthed Louis' name. The child whimpered and reached out to touch the blue light, but Richter held him back. "Steady there, Louis. It has to be Alucard's decision." The child nodded, sniffling. Alucard closed his eyes for a moment, weighing the decision. Then he opened his eyes and looked to the child again. "What is your decision, Alucard?" Richter asked. Alucard inclined his head towards the child.
Louis smiled in spite of his tears. "He wants to try to do that third choice, Mr. Richter," he said. "I'm his connection to the world of the living."
Richter smiled distantly. "You'd better hope and pray that's what you are. If the connection isn't strong enough, it'll kill Alucard." Louis nodded his head gravely.
All of the vampire hunters, from the first ones of the Middle Ages to LeCarde Morris, arranged themselves in a large circle around Alucard. Louis stood in the middle of the circle beside Alucard, his tired eyes still full of hope and faith. The vampire hunters began to concentrate, pooling their remaining strength into healing one of their own. Nothing seemed to happen at first, but then Alucard's eyes opened wide and his body grew rigid and he pulled back his head to scream. The light cut off all sound, but it was evident from the way Alucard spasmed and thrashed his body that the light was painfully piercing the darkness. He slammed his fists on his prison and arched his head back for another soundless howl of agony. "Louis!" Richter hissed, still pooling his power. "Look to him! He's starting to cave in! Be his connection!"
"Alucard!" Louis screamed at the figure writhing in pain. Not caring what would happen, he pushed his palm through the blue light and clutched one of Alucard's hands. Alucard turned his head towards Louis and clenched the boy's hand so hard Louis thought he'd break some fingers. He pressed his forehead against the side of the prison and looked down at the child. He mouthed a word Louis couldn't make out until Alucard had repeated it several times. "Faith."
Suddenly Alucard jerked bodily and clutched his stomach with his free arm. Darkness drained from him like a film of oil. It dripped down through the light until it vanished. After the vampire hunters had drained Alucard dry, the prison collapsed on itself and Alucard fell into a heap. Louis still held his hand, hugging his other arm around Alucard's shoulders. "Alucard," Louis said softly.
Slowly, so slowly, Alucard raised his head. He smiled up at Louis. "Proud of you," he whispered, completely drained.
No one knew who started it, but a loud cheer erupted from the Belmont family. "Ah, you know those half-breeds are tough old bastards!" Trevor laughed.
Richter helped to support Alucard up. Alucard turned his head toward him. "I often cursed you this journey and wished you had left me alone and not made me keep a promise. But now, I think you were wise to have done what you did. Thank you," he whispered. Richter nodded, and motioned for LeCarde to help him.
The army man moved to support the exhausted Alucard. Louis, being much shorter, could only support Alucard a little bit. Richter stepped back and Simon Belmont, the best of the best, walked towards them. "You three are all that is left of the family on Earth. We could only help you this once because you had someone with so much faith to work the relic. Now I charge you with a different task. You must rebuild the family. Even if there are no more Belmonts in name, there will always be some at heart, as Louis said."
"Mr. Simon? What's going to happen to Crispin? H-he was a Belmont, wasn't he? He helped to make the relic work," said Louis.
Simon looked infinitely sad. "It does not matter if you bear the name Belmont if your spirit chooses to follow darkness. That was his choice and he will be paying for its consequences." Louis sighed and nodded. "But you must all go now. I'm sure you'll all see us again someday and we'll be back together as a family."
Everything seemed to grow hazy and unclear. Louis' family waved at him and wished them their love. Louis waved back to all his family until the smoke began to unravel and everything grew indistinct except the three vampire hunters. Louis jerked forward a little, as though he been going down a flight of steps and stepped down for a step that wasn't there. Dracula's empty chamber now surrounded them.
"My God...I don't think I'll ever forget that," LeCarde whispered. He turned to Alucard. "Can you walk at all?" Alucard shook his head. "Oh well. Better lean on me. It's gonna be a long way down."
The ground began to tremble beneath their feet. "Oh hell! I should have kept my mouth shut." LeCarde hoisted Alucard into a fireman's rescue position over his shoulders. "Come on, Louis! This place will crumble around us!"
Louis darted ahead to clear the way, but it was clear the castle was coming apart. Large chunks of stone fell from the ceiling and crashed holes into the floor. LeCarde grunted and dodged around the obstacles, hoisting Alucard's dead weight from his shoulders. "Oh sir! Oh sir I've found you!" someone yelled from across the hall. The three vampire hunters made their way towards the sound. "I did as you ordered and kept the monsters from your trail, but I knew you'd need a hand!" yelled the skeleton private.
"I'll be damned! Good work, private!"
"I brought you transportation!" Three Valhallan horses whinnied and twitched their spinal cord tails. Louis made a disgusted face, but LeCarde helped him up on the horse. He pitched Alucard on the second horse and got on the third one. "Just grab onto their manes and let them do all the work!"
"Thank you! Godspeed!" yelled LeCarde. The horses took off, dodging the falling stones with ease. Their riders clutched onto the horses necks with dread. LeCarde looked back to see the private disintegrate into the vanishing power.
It was extremely disconcerting to have the horses go down the numerous flights of steps and not fall forward. Alucard roused from his exhaustion to clutch his horse's neck and curse loudly. Their flight took them to the pasture and through other parts of the castle they didn't have time to explore before. Louis sat up straight in his seat and whipped his boomerang at the approaching drawbridge rope, shearing them in two. The drawbridge fell forward with a great wooosh! and the horses galloped to safety outside. The castle crumbled and collapsed on itself a few moments after they'd made their escape.
Louis clutched at his horse's neck until his arms ached. Then he tiredly slid backward onto the horse's spine. The child started. "Oh! The horses are all whole now!"
"Yes. It seems it was a last present from the private. At least he and all the other spirits are now safe," said LeCarde, watching the castle cave in. He turned to Alucard. "Are your powers really all gone?"
"Yes. I can't feel them anymore." He sighed, but then he said, "I'm sure one day I'll be used to it." He turned his tired eyes to Louis. "I...cannot thank you enough for what you have done today and what you have done for me. You've saved me." Louis smiled brilliantly and nudged his horse over to Alucard. He threw his arms around the older man. Alucard smiled a little. LeCarde noted it was the smile of someone not used to smiling. Maybe in time he will get used to it.
"At least we have horses to get us to the river. We can follow it back to Tirgoviste," said LeCarde.
Louis' eyes lighted up. "Yeah! We can have the DaNastys help us to find other people we can recruit. And...and we have to let those people know to come here and purify the land. I'm sure they know some people to help us rebuild the family. And...and...LeCarde, maybe some of your family from America are also vampire hunters but they never told you! We can write letters and let them know we need help!"
Alucard laughed. It was actually a pleasing sound. "Aren't you rushing things a bit? We have to get back to Tirgoviste first."
"Well...we aren't going to get there by standing around here!" Louis slapped the rear of his horse and sped on ahead.
Alucard shook his head. "Would that I could have faith as strong as that child. With him as the backbone, the Belmont family will never lose their faith ever again."
"Oh, I think you'll have time to grow some faith. You may be mortal now, but even a mortal man has many many years to live." He patted Alucard's shoulder.
"I suppose you are right. I have lived over 500 years, but most of it was through sleeping. This must be my time to actually live." Alucard smiled again and turned his horse to follow Louis. LeCarde followed, looking back once more at the ruins of Castlevania.