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Alucard wasn’t looking forward to climbing up the second Castlevania. Granted, he hadn’t been looking forward to any of this, but it wasn’t as if he had a choice. With any luck he’d find his mother’s sword in the new but familiar terrain. He’d make Death pay for taking it from him. He hopped up the sloping ceiling and made his way through the inverted throne room. He heard the sound of the portal trilling behind him. He smelled who it was before he saw them and wheeled around to find Richter Belmont coming up behind him.

“Did I not tell you to leave here, Belmont?” His tone was icy.

“I’m not in the habit of following orders from vampires. I want to put a stop to the man who used me.” Alucard narrowed his eyes at the man who stood before him defiantly and spoke so surely of himself. If Richter was anything like Trevor, he wouldn’t be easy to get rid of. He tried anyway.

“The path ahead will be even more dangerous.”

“If a ponce such as yourself can handle it, I’m sure I will as well.” Richter’s smirk was audible and infuriating. Perhaps it was a familial trait. Alucard stepped towards him challengingly.

“A ponce? That is what you take me for? Did I not just best you in battle?”

“Barely.” It was true; Richter had given him plenty of trouble. “I’ll be a worthy ally. Promise.” Alucard stared at him unnervingly for a moment.

“If you cannot keep up, I will leave you behind.” He spun around in a quiet rustle of cape before continuing ahead. Behind him, Richter grinned. If this was truly the same Alucard that fought alongside his ancestor then he had to fight alongside him as well. He had big shoes to fill.

Richter fell behind immediately. Alucard had no trouble reaching the door that was now set high up into the wall of the Castle. He simply leapt towards it and his form compressed and darkened, shifting into that of an oversized bat. As soon as his shoes touched the lip of the doorway he was a man again, or at least in the shape of one. He cast a glance down at Richter far below him before turning and disappearing inside.

Richter gawked. He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised given that Alucard was half vampire, but he wasn’t sure how to follow that. He unhooked Vampire Killer from his hip and steadied it before lashing out and catching it on the railing of the newly useless and upside-down stairs. With a considerable amount of effort he pulled himself up his whip. It took longer than he would have liked and he was sure Alucard would be gone by the time he swung himself to the ledge, but found him standing in the dark corridor waiting.

“I thought you said you’d leave me behind,” Richter said. Alucard didn’t appreciate his tone. The dhampir balanced himself on one foot and unlaced his boot, then the other one, and held them out to the Belmont. Richter looked almost insulted.

“Put them on. They can launch you upwards.” When the other man reluctantly took the boots he pulled on his other pair. He prefered the lifts on them, anyway. “Be careful. Your Belmont skull won’t protect you if you use them too close to the ceiling.” Richter arched his brows at the other man as he pulled on the boots.

“Did you just call me thick-headed?” It was almost a pass at humor. Alucard just made a soft noise in his throat, barely acknowledging he’d spoken, and turned to press onward.