end of sanctuary @aquila
i need a miracle and not someone's charity

The candelabras are made from human arms. Nails chipped, fingers discoloured and pale as they keep their iron grip on brass made to look like gold. Dim candlelight flickers against darkness, dripping hot wax along the skin, burning it. They hold on without wavering, do their duty and light the way for their passenger in the corridor.

Yet with every slow step forward, closer along the individual halos of fire, the candles move away from him before they’re snuffed out by an unseen and unfelt wind. There’s nothing behind him, he is alone; so he believes. So would anyone believe, surrounded by the dark and the quiet.

He walks on, further and further, paying no attention to each broken shard of glass littering the hard floor. They cut deep into the soles of his bare feet. Smears of fresh blood follow him, wetting the cold stone beneath, but he doesn’t stumble nor slip. He knows it should be painful, realizes that he should stop, and notices how the candelabras continue to inch ever so subtly away from his presence before extinguishing themselves while his back is against them.

There is nothing on his placid face, nothing in his amber eyes. No indicative expression of what he feels within and outside. Where there should be agony, there is only apathy. Where there should be fear, apprehension, there is only a complacent incentive to put one mangled and bloody foot in front of the other.

A thin white nightgown hangs off his body, not nearly long enough to cover his legs, leaving him both guarded and exposed. Another vulnerability he doesn’t care to rectify just as he doesn’t care for the voice speaking to him in one of those darker corners of the mind. It warns him in a whimpered tone: “there is something behind you”.

It’s uncertain whether this “something” has only just appeared or if it’s been following him since the first candles went out. But he can feel it closing in, lapping up the blood he’s left behind as an offering while he approaches the very last candelabra. It begins to turn away, the light repelled by his mere existence, and he stops. Come to the end of his meaningless journey.

His unseen stalker remains silent, even when he can feel its hot breath as it caresses the back of his neck. He hears a sound akin to the wings of a creature much larger than himself stretching themselves out, preparing for flight. Weary eyes fixate on the last trembling candle flames, holding onto their last seconds of life.

Still, he does not turn around. Barely a flinch even as the nightgown is carefully pulled down, displaying broad shoulders and the top of his chest. His long hair that matches the gold of his disinterested eyes tickles the newly bared skin like feathers. Both parts of his body are caged by precise scars not yet fully healed.

Cold leather skin presses down upon his shoulders, rough against soft. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a hand reach around from behind. Massive, claws, and inescapable. Using a single deft nail, it gifts him a choker made of ruby red drops that slide down his neck before outlining the curves and crevices of his chest. With the blood comes a revelation that brings neither peace nor panic, only acceptance:

I am with myself.


Alucard listens to the distant voices of Trevor and Sypha talking, huddled into his blankets, his cheek pressed firmly against his pillow. They didn’t necessarily wake him because in order for one to be “woken up”, they have to be in the deep throes of sleep and dreams to begin with. Alucard was never asleep; not for very long. And his vision was far from a dream, yet he wouldn’t consider it a nightmare either. More like a personal realization; something he already seems aware of and his mind is only giving him a helpful reminder.

The kitchen is five levels down from the guest bedchambers, but he can still hear them, if only as low indistinct mumbles. He can hear certain things more than ever before. Rats scuttling about within the castle walls searching for their next crumb of discarded food or an old grandfather clock ticking the seconds away before ringing out three deep chimes to signal midnight. Out of all his hereditary gifts most humans will never achieve, Alucard used to feel displeasure with this one the least. Then it had to grow more attuned, long past when he needed it most. Overstayed its welcome and now it’s useless.

He can’t even make out the words spoken between Trevor and Sypha.

The kitchen is five levels down from the guest bedchambers, but he can still hear them, if only as low indistinct mumbles. He can hear certain things more than ever before. Rats scuttling about within the castle walls searching for their next crumb of discarded food or an old grandfather clock ticking the seconds away before ringing out three deep chimes to signal midnight. Out of all his hereditary gifts most humans will never achieve, Alucard used to feel displeasure with this one the least. Then it had to grow more attuned, long past when he needed it most. Overstayed its welcome and now it’s useless.

He can’t even make out the words spoken between Trevor and Sypha.

“How long do you think he’s had those?”

The two travellers both feel as though they’re staring at themselves in a mirror crafted by a rather creative toddler. If not that, then a very doting grandmother or toymaker. A pair of dolls placed side by side on a kitchen counter, fashioned out of simple cloths stuffed with wool, buttons for eyes, and spoons in place of limbs. One is dressed in blue to match its eyes with orange fabric atop its head meant to resemble short curls. The other sits next to an empty wine bottle in simple beige with two tiny red straps across its body and brown yarn for its own hair.

“I suppose not very long.” Sypha replies, bent down in order to get a much closer look at their little imposters. It’s the details of each doll; Trevor’s scar along one eye, a thin piece of string attached to his hip, and the high collar of Sypha’s robe. Alucard made these with care and attention, like he remembered every inch of them. Each individual thread, each stitch a reflection of themselves through the eyes of someone who desired their company.

Neither one is entirely sure whether to be charmed or concerned.

Sypha picks up her twin and taps at one of the buttons with a fingernail. “I think they’re cute. Well made, too.”

Trevor finds it difficult to share her amusement. He knows what an unhealthy coping skill looks like; he could write an entire book on the subject. “Finding a hobby to keep yourself entertained for a couple months is all well and good but don’t you think this meant something else for him? Like a cry for help?”

Sypha holds the doll awkwardly before setting it back down in silent agreement. The worry was there before but perhaps she didn’t want to admit it. After all that’s happened, she needs some respite; to see something and not contemplate its’ darker connotations. Then Trevor had to go and validate her initial unspoken concerns about Alucard. The dolls are not the first sign; they knew something was amiss when they walked down the battered halls of the castle, stepping over untouched broken glass and rubble.

They knew even sooner when those bodies came into view. Both are gone now, removed days ago with haste out of disgust and before other wandering outsiders began to suspect anything, but the blood is still there. Sunken deep into the earth, staining the grass then drying up. Sypha can’t look down, not matter how many times she steps outside.

“There’s so much he will not tell us…” Her thought voiced by a hushed tone is interrupted by a mere glance at the clock. “Look. The day is half gone and we still haven’t seen him at all.” A sense of responsibility and a desire to help surges through her, the same sort that’s always been a vital part of Sypha’s lifeblood. “We should cook him something. That might open him up to talking.”

Trevor nods. “I’ll go get him. I can only take so many “I’m fines” before I grab him by the shoulders and shake out whatever’s torturing him.”

Sypha expected such a plan. The way that Trevor cares, considers, and perhaps even loves is rougher than how others do it. It may have worked for him all those years alone with no one else to offer comfort, but it might not work now; not for Alucard. “Please don’t do that.”

It takes little time for Trevor to scale up the castle from its kitchen to its hall of bedrooms; during their first day back, he asked Alucard if he had any maps to spare. Perhaps too subtle of a joke as the dhampir merely shrugged it off and showed them to their own chambers. Before either one could say another word, another joined expression of relief to see him again, Alucard was gone. Glided out through the door as though he were a passing phantom.

Trevor stops at one of the doors and raps his knuckles against the carved door. Of course there’s no answer, but he’s lucky enough to have it already ajar. Alucard won’t care if he slips in; he doesn’t seem to care about much these days.

“Hey. You awake?” A human-shaped lump covered in blankets stirs atop the bed with its simple, humble canopy; sturdy and made entirely of wood. Nothing like the extravagant transparent silk curtains of Trevor and Sypha’s bed. A head of golden hair pokes out but doesn’t turn around. No, you’re right, Trevor thinks. It was a stupid question. Alucard’s complicated relationship with sleep runs deep.

“Sypha and I are making breakfast… though I guess it’s lunch now.”

No need to finish his query; Alucard can answer it. “Thank you, but I’m not hungry.”

“You need to eat something. You can’t fool me; I know that half-vampires can still eat human food.”

“I will eat later.”

First strike then second soon after without a moment’s hesitation. Trevor already knows there will be more if they continue like this, but he won’t resort to ripping off the covers and carrying Alucard over his shoulder. Sypha wouldn’t approve of that. Even worse, he’d be choking on his own blood before reaching the door, torn out by a certain pair of fangs.

Trevor wants to remain alive. More importantly, he wants Alucard’s demeanour to be a bit brighter. Straightforwardness won’t work, but a different method might. If not, it will at least give Alucard some irresistible blackmail to use against him. Retracing his way through the castle, Trevor makes a mad dash back down into the kitchen. Alucard listens, one ear against his pillow, the other exposed. More voices, more words he cannot understand, followed by a series of quick footsteps coming closer, rising in volume until they stop. Something tiptoes towards his bed. What is it now?

“Alucard… Aluuuucaaaard.”

His sleep-deprived eyes open just a touch wider. It sounds like Trevor’s voice, only with a slightly higher pitch and an imitation of Sypha’s Iberian accent which straddles the line between charming and good enough reason for her to box his ears.

“Please get out of bed. If you don’t come down, I will be sooooooo upset.” Alucard contemplates burying his head underneath the pillow until he feels another presence on the bed; small, light, and flimsy like a doll.

The doll. Panic quickly seeps in, turning Alucard’s body rigid. They found the dolls. He knew it was going to happen, but he needed more time to prepare his admittedly troubling explanation. It would have been better if Trevor and Sypha never found them at all; he should have locked the stupid things away and not keep them in plain sight. For this situation, Alucard blames no one but himself.

“We have food, Alucard! Delicious, scrumptious food.”

Still, it is amusing to hear the rugged Belmont carry on in this manner. “I know that’s you, Trevor.”

“I’m not Trevor! I’m Sypha Belnades, the smartest and most powerful Speaker in the entire world! And if you don’t get out of bed, I’ll burn off all your hair with my fire magic.”

Alucard stifles a chuckle at the similarities between Trevor’s impression of Sypha and his own. They both must know her too well. “For some reason I don’t think you’re the real Sypha Belnades.”

“But I am!”

“Really? Then why do you feel much, much smaller and why does your voice sound like that?”

“I was cursed! By… by a witch! That bitch turned me into this. Now I’m trapped in this pitiful body. But if you have lunch with us, the spell will be broken!” This time Alucard doesn’t try to hold back his laughter. Trevor is clearly having too much fun with his little acting production. But when Alucard, despite his brightening mood, remains in bed with his back turned to him, he nuzzles the doll against the dhampir’s cheek.

“Alright, that’s enough of you.”

“Pleeeeeeease, Alucard?” Trevor moves “Sypha” all along his blanketed body as if attempting to tickle him. Alucard feebly waves his free arm, trying to resist but he feels the doll everywhere, on every inch of him. Moving over the scars.

“Enough, Trevor…”

“Pleeeeease do it for meeeeee?”

Alucard flips over and swiftly grabs Trevor’s wrist. “I said that’s enough!”

The two men finally see each other eye to eye, surprised against panic-stricken, as Trevor’s hold on the Sypha doll wavers. A tense moment passes before Alucard loosens his grip as well, realizing how tightly his fingers dig into the skin. Had his nails been sharpened, they might have gone straight through and down to the bone. His intense gaze relaxes, and he lets go.

 Dracula’s modern inventions are a marvel—and a nuisance.

Trevor and Sypha endlessly fiddle with the kitchen’s large contraption. A beast of burning wood logs crafted from metal and copper that’s been seemingly neutered by their shared incompetence. They could wait for Alucard instead of fumbling around until both of them reach their limits of agitation. But the idea was to surprise him with a fully prepared meal the moment he walks through the door. Light a few candles, pour three glasses of finely aged wine; just as Alucard would do for himself.

Now they’ve wasted too much time wrestling with basic cooking mechanics, pining for the days when they could create their own version of hearty gourmet food using only a simple campfire. Even Trevor found himself scrounging about in the cellar, stepping over broken glass, all for a decent bottle.

 

Dracula’s modern inventions are a marvel—and a nuisance.

Trevor and Sypha endlessly fiddle with the kitchen’s large contraption. A beast of burning wood logs crafted from metal and copper that’s been seemingly neutered by their shared incompetence. They could wait for Alucard instead of fumbling around until both of them reach their limits of agitation. But the idea was to surprise him with a fully prepared meal the moment he walks through the door. Light a few candles, pour three glasses of finely aged wine; just as Alucard would do for himself.

Now they’ve wasted too much time wrestling with basic cooking mechanics, pining for the days when they could create their own version of hearty gourmet food using only a simple campfire. Even Trevor found himself scrounging about in the cellar, stepping over broken glass, all for a decent bottle.

“I’m using my magic,” Sypha finally announces.

“Don’t do that.”

“I am. I have had enough of this stupid thing.”

“You’ll burn the whole bloody castle down if you do.”

“Would that be such a terrible thing?”

Her reply causes Trevor to stop and think. Just as she whispered exclamations of awe and wonder after first setting her eyes upon the Belmont Hold, Sypha was mesmerized by the castle’s sheer size, the depths of its architecture, and the intricacies of its numerous machinations. Part of her regretted the use of the word “grotesque” before she crushed the castle’s heart in her own hands thus transforming the engine room into an irreparable mess.

She felt so young back then. Now she sees Dracula’s castle for what it truly is and what it may be destined to remain as; a place that causes pain. A place that hurts anything caught within its walls.

Trevor searches every corner of the room before settling on a loaf of bread, a wheel of cheese, and some strips of dry meat hanging from hooks. “He’ll be down soon, let’s just put together something quick.”

He pulls Sypha away and brings her to the nearest countertop just as she contemplates melting the oven down into a steaming puddle. She glares at the butcher’s knife placed into her hand then at the three food items in front of her. Seems too simple given the other ingredients surrounding them, but their time was cut short to begin with.

In the midst of their frantic slicing, pouring, and preparing, they pause to hear delicate footsteps making their way down the corridor. Alucard appears in the doorway, shoulders slouched and the dark circles under his eyes visible even from a distance. He doesn’t announce himself, though his silence does nothing to alleviate the awkward atmosphere. Taking his seat at the table, Sypha joins him along with Trevor, his hands full of three plates. He places them down unceremoniously.

“There. A meal fit for a prince.”

The two wait in anticipation while Alucard sits motionless. He examines the plate’s contents, his so-called “prince’s meal”: layers of stacked goat cheese and bacon sandwiched between two decently sliced pieces of sourdough bread with a thin twig of rosemary placed on top as a last-minute garnish. Not a single vegetable or fruit in sight. Then Trevor and Sypha see something from Alucard that’s been missing for almost the length of an entire week following their return: a smirk. Subdued, but plain to see on his placid face.

“Did you make these, Trevor?”

“We both did, but it was Trevor’s idea,” Sypha answers in his stead. Alucard presses his lips tighter together, an honest attempt to keep whatever’s behind them locked away—a laugh perhaps? Hard to believe as it may seem.

“What?” Trevor demands. “What is it about my cooking that makes you giggle like a young nun who’s seen something naughty?”

“There is nothing wrong with your taste in food this time… shockingly so. I’m just remarking on how… humble this all looks. I expected nothing less from you both. Thank you.”

While Alucard takes his first few bites, Trevor and Sypha look to each other with uncertain expressions. He was always genuine in the small ways he showed his gratitude towards them, and they hear that very same gratitude in his voice. But only a sliver of it; the rest felt clinical. Still, they got him out of bed. They got him to eat. That’s more success they’ve accomplished in less than an hour than they’ve had for days. What they need right now, what they all need, are small victories.

The silence they eat in is comfortable, almost peaceful. Trevor and Sypha both know it won’t last. The enjoyment they feel with each bite of juicy meat, strong cheese, and soft bread comes with a sense of guilt. They know the difficult topic of Alucard’s refusal to tell them anything will have to be brought up now. If not, the wound will only meet the same end that all others left untreated do: left to fester and rot until there’s no hope of talking to him.

Alucard seems oblivious to their eternal conflict; maybe it’s for the best. Once half of his sandwiched is finished, he raises the glass of white wine and down every last drop in one bold gulp. Trevor turns to his own glass, barely half empty.

“Show off.” He mumbles under his breath, though not quiet enough as it catches Alucard’s attention.

“Oh? Have I bested you in that particular skill set?”

“Don’t push your luck. I’m still ahead of you in experience. A good couple of years in fact.”

“Remember, there is just as much inhuman blood running through these veins as there is human. I have more of a tolerance when it comes to certain vices.”

“Give me something stronger than whatever I used to find in my aunt Delilah’s liquor cabinet, and I’ll show you how to take certain vices with tolerance.”

It always happens like this between them, again and again, over and over no matter the circumstances or situation. One man must compare himself to the other, measuring up his own long list of successes and failures. Sypha suddenly loses interest in her food. This conversation could go in many different directions—merely thinking about the probabilities brings her no ease.

“Well, you’ve never been one to refuse a challenge. Let’s test that famous Belmont tolerance, shall we?”

Before Sypha can interject, Trevor does instead, pushing her further into silence. His expression turns grim as he lowers the wine glass. “I’ll pass on that challenge.”

“Showing restraint? I didn’t think you knew the word.”

“No, I just don’t want to give you an excuse to keep drowning yourself in something that hasn’t been resolved yet.”

Sypha is an excellent judge of character; she considers it to be a gift the same way she regards her prowess in the mystic arts. Simple, quiet observations of how a person carries themselves, how they move the slightest inch, and how they react to certain provocations tell her more than words can. When she sees Alucard’s eyes narrow while his fingers curl in on themselves, Sypha braces herself despite being the only one who predicted this. This will not end the way she wanted it to.

Trevor doesn’t notice those sorts of things quick enough, not like her. If he did, he would have swallowed that tactless statement before it had the chance to escape. Wash it down with the very same white wine he so candidly belittled.

“You think I’m drowning myself. How so?”

“Look at yourself, Alucard.”

“I do. Every day, in the mirror. It’s not something I particularly enjoying doing.”

His words sting, laced with venom but Trevor and Sypha understand what he means. Their eyes are drawn to his wrists and that window of skin exposed by his shirt’s plunging neckline. He tries so hard to hide those scars—the ones he still hasn’t explained—but more often than not, they catch glimpses of tender flesh turned raw and inflamed. They abhor the thought of him carrying more yet haunted by the idea that their worries are not unfounded.

If only he would talk to them. Truly and deeply talk to them. Not in this way.

“I also do not enjoy being spoken down to like a troubled infant incapable of making their own decisions.”

“I’m not talking down to you and I’m not trying to tell you what and what not to do.”

“Then what are you trying to do?”

“Sympathize, that’s all. And maybe help. I’ve been down that same road before and it’s not pretty.”

“I never asked for your help. I never gave you permission to coddle me, nor did I ever ask you to come back.”

“But you clearly wanted us to if those two dolls are any indication.”

“Those were not yours to see.”

“You left them out in the open! How could we not fucking see them?”

While voices and tensions rise with every heated exchange, Sypha breaks her vow of reluctant silence. “You cannot keep us in the dark like this forever, Alucard.” Both men turn towards her as all the words she left unspoken for days stumble out less like a steady stream and more like an untempered vomit. “Trevor is right; we just want to help. We want to understand what’s wrong and how we can fix it. But you need to talk with us. What happened while we were gone? Who were those two outside the castle and why on earth did you display them like—”

A sudden loud clatter causes Sypha and Trevor to jump. Alucard holds his plate white knuckled while the rest of him shivers in quiet anger. He dropped it upon the table not hard enough to shatter but enough to crack. His half-eaten sandwich has fallen apart.

“I’m not hungry.” The chair scrapes loudly against the floor as Alucard pushes it back. He takes his leave without another word; not a bitter thank you or something far harsher. In a display of utter defeat, Trevor pushes away his own plate and rubs his face. A way of saying, “that was a fucking disaster”. And it all seemed to be going so well.

Sypha doesn’t want to give in so easily. She follows Alucard out of the kitchen, her voice echoing off the castle’s stone archways and walls that dwarf them both. Nothing more than mice amongst giants.

“Alucard, please.” She calls out, still a fair distance away from him but catching up quickly. “We can fix this, just let us help you.”

“You can’t fix anything. Not even I could.”

Sypha knows she should be more careful with her choice of words but fears that if she hesitates for the slightest moment, she will lose him. He’ll retreat back into his room or another place deeper within the castle unbeknownst to her and Trevor, locking himself away in self-inflicted isolation, shutting out all daylight and human interaction.

“And you can’t keep punishing yourself like this either.” She’s close now; close enough to hold him. Close enough to lay a hand on his shoulder.

“I want to be alone.”

“Alucard…” Sypha keeps her touch light and gentle. For him, it’s just another weight, another burden that’s been forced upon him. A sense of bodily contact he did not ask for. Through the thin fabric of his shirt, Alucard feels her fingertips graze over a scar curving around his shoulder. He spins around and slaps Sypha’s hand away, his lips drawn back into a snarl, revealing fangs that have grown longer and sharper.

She takes a step back, then another until the divide between them is larger than it should ever be. There was no cry of shock or pain even as Sypha stares at Alucard with wide, possibly terrified eyes. He’s never seen her like this; not when their entire world was at stake. She holds the hand that was struck and then he sees it: three fresh claw marks. Alucard glances down at his own hand, though he already knows what he will find.

The rageful lines gracing his face soften while his eyes turn not just sad, but horrified. “Sypha, I…”

“What happened?” Trevor catches up to them, drawing Sypha into his arms. With the utmost care coupled with panic he takes her wounded hand and repeats the question, furiously shouting it in Alucard’s direction who stumbles with his answer.

Trevor and Sypha’s poor attempts to make him stay fall on deaf ears. Alucard is gone from their sight, unable to hear their pleas. They’ll not see him again before night comes.


 “I’m not mad at him. It doesn’t even hurt that much.”

They don’t return to the kitchen. Instead, they traverse the ruined castle hallways until they reach what was once the foundation of Dracula’s genius and intellect. A laboratory filled with knowledge of a future not yet realized by humanity; or maybe a past that was deemed too heretical, too blasphemous by modern European institutions and so it fell into the hands of a monster. Knowledge that might thrive in the hands of someone else but now lies amongst broken machines, like every other room surrounding it. Still, there are smaller forms of medicine which Trevor uses to heal Sypha’s mild injuries. He rubs the cream over her hand, soothing the angry red scratch marks left behind by Alucard’s outburst.

“Well, there might be some bruising. Thankfully he didn’t draw any blood.”

 


 

“I’m not mad at him. It doesn’t even hurt that much.”

They don’t return to the kitchen. Instead, they traverse the ruined castle hallways until they reach what was once the foundation of Dracula’s genius and intellect. A laboratory filled with knowledge of a future not yet realized by humanity; or maybe a past that was deemed too heretical, too blasphemous by modern European institutions and so it fell into the hands of a monster. Knowledge that might thrive in the hands of someone else but now lies amongst broken machines, like every other room surrounding it. Still, there are smaller forms of medicine which Trevor uses to heal Sypha’s mild injuries. He rubs the cream over her hand, soothing the angry red scratch marks left behind by Alucard’s outburst.

“Well, there might be some bruising. Thankfully he didn’t draw any blood.”

“Would you have gone after him with your whip if he did?”

Trevor leaves the question as is; hovering in an awkward silence while he mentally searches for a change in conversation. Not because he doesn’t have a reply, but because he doesn’t want to face the conclusion he’s come to.

“Why doesn’t he use any of the medicine here? Continue his mother’s work, you know?”

“Maybe he’s just being cautious especially after what happened to her. Human beings are not ready for that sort of new knowledge yet.”

“And he spent more effort cleaning up my family ruins than he did with his own home.”

“You did give it to him as a gift.”

“But now that I really think about it, he never even liked the Hold or its contents. It was a piss poor excuse for a gift.”

“Then why did you do that for him?”

He closes the lid on the jar of cream and places it back on the nearest shelf. Really, giving away his childhood home was done purely on impulse (as are most of Trevor’s decisions). But there was another motive, one he didn’t want to admit to at the time else a certain someone would endlessly mock him.

“He said he wanted to make the castle his grave and… I couldn’t let him wallow in guilt and self-pity anymore, so I thought I’d give him something to live for. A project he could dedicate all his time to and take his mind off things. I didn’t think he’d actually take it to heart like that.”

Sypha gives him a tired smile. “What you did was selfless and good, Trevor Belmont. Give yourself more credit than that.”

He tries, yet all that transpires is an exasperated sigh. “I will never fucking understand what goes on inside his head.”

Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Trevor pulls her in close and kisses her head. “We’ll give it more time. Try again tomorrow.”


 It’s not another dream but if it were, Alucard would hardly be able to tell the difference. He saunters down the hall, past each flickering candelabra, stopping momentarily to take a closer look. No soft flesh, no pulsing veins of blood, only painted brass. One piece of evidence to suggest that this is not a dream. Alucard needs that reassurance while he wanders dazed and disoriented, like walking through a thick mist.

The thin nightgown clings to his uncomfortably sweat drenched back, chest, and limbs. He’s taken to wearing the longer kinds, ones that reach down to his ankles. Hardly suitable for humid summer nights but he finds it better this way. Alucard continues on his aimless nighttime trek until he stops at a certain closed door. It’s not the first; there are many rooms within the castle which he finds no use for, so they remain locked away from prying eyes. This one, however, is special to him.

After his father’s death, Alucard thought revisiting his old childhood bedroom would be too painful. A single glance would conjure up memories best left untampered with. Since then he’s looked inside and even walked among its contents, frozen in time. He’s turned these brief visits into sporadic personal rituals, ways of grounding himself—or punishing, it depends on which feels more appropriate. He never touches or changes anything, not the singed carpet, not the crumpled-up bed sheets stained with blood, and certainly not the ring.

“Or naïve.” Sypha almost misses the time when she was far more optimistic, when her view of the world was a touch brighter, but past solaces do not fix present miseries no matter how fondly we dwell upon them—actions do. “We can’t lose another friend.”

Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Trevor pulls her in close and kisses her head. “We’ll give it more time. Try again tomorrow.”

 


 

Exhausted, head pounding, and chest aching, he joins what used to be Trevor and Sypha on the floor. Sitting uncomfortably, worsening his ruined posture, staring into nothing. “This is all so stupid.”


The large platform sways momentarily, dangling in midair before it begins to lower Sypha down the derelict tower that leads far beneath the Belmont Manor. This is the first time she’s seen Trevor’s family Hold in daylight; even in ruins, everything is brighter. Remnants of a once grand legacy that’s been holding on by its fingernails through sheer stubbornness and determination thanks to its last surviving son. She can now see the portrait of his founding ancestor without the obstruction of darkness.

Leon Belmont, fabled vampire killer and the first to hunt down Dracula—in appearance, there are no similarities between him and Trevor. Blond curly hair like a Renaissance cherub, noble demeanour, a true knight of old. That’s what the painting tells Sypha. She knows even less about Leon than Trevor does. Perhaps she’ll discover something in their family archives, something more scandalous than a spell book involving vampire cocks and other unmentionables both human and inhuman. Though it’s certainly not her original intention; Sypha didn’t have any set goal or purpose in mind when she decided to seek out the Belmont archives.

Only that it feels better than being inside the castle. Anywhere feels better than that incubator of sadness, death, and loneliness. Trevor may have questioned it but it’s no wonder Alucard pull all of his effort into one family home rather instead of his own.

Why did he make them with such love and care? With so much attention to their unique, individual finite details? It would have been easier to find two potatoes, a few buttons, some burlap, and be done with them. If there’s shame in the way looks at the dolls now, then what must have been the purpose of starting this project?

Alucard knows that the real Trevor and Sypha are safe in their bed. He felt their presence during his walk; skin upon skin, hands resting along the curves of each other’s bodies. Neither one sleeps peacefully, discontented by earlier events. Because of him. He knows this for certain.

Alucard picks up the Trevor doll first, running a thumb over the plush stomach before sharpening his nail. It tears into the fabric, spilling out the toy’s soft insides. Tufts of white wool gently float down like snowflakes as they clutter the black and white floor, soon joined by a head torn from its body in an emotional fit. Once he’s finished with Trevor, he does the same to Sypha, ripping her into pieces. Everything, the dolls, their destruction and the manner in which they are torn up, it all seems so childish. When Alucard is faced with the mess he created, he’s filled with a confusing sense of regret over his impulsive actions and the frustration that he should have destroyed those dolls a long time ago.

Exhausted, head pounding, and chest aching, he joins what used to be Trevor and Sypha on the floor. Sitting uncomfortably, worsening his ruined posture, staring into nothing. “This is all so stupid.”

 


 

The large platform sways momentarily, dangling in midair before it begins to lower Sypha down the derelict tower that leads far beneath the Belmont Manor. This is the first time she’s seen Trevor’s family Hold in daylight; even in ruins, everything is brighter. Remnants of a once grand legacy that’s been holding on by its fingernails through sheer stubbornness and determination thanks to its last surviving son. She can now see the portrait of his founding ancestor without the obstruction of darkness.

1. i need a miracle and not someone's charity 6320 0 0 2. you see yourself as they see you 5606 0 0