"Keep the boy alive. His father will come for him, and we can trap the monster."
Large men surrounded him, and he remembered how small he was. He never felt small in the castle, even surrounded by things much larger than the men who held him down. He never felt small. They never let him feel small. They taught him how to fly, how to fight, and he would learn, one day, his father promised, how to rule.
These men held him to the ground. They beat him with something that burned into his skin like acid, like fire, searing marks when they used the same whip to tie him still.
That was when his mother started fighting back. Pulling at her restraints, they only needed to tie her with rope, Mother was mortal. His father reminded him of that, again and again.
"She's only mortal, dear Adrian. She cannot fly with us. She does not need to hunt like us."
"How come?" The child asked, staring at his father like the monster was the whole world.
"Because she is good. Maybe one day she will be like us, but for now, little Prince, remember that she is still only mortal."
He turned the small child, to rest against his hip, so they could see the mother, in the garden, growing herbs she would use to heal the humans in the village. "But she looks like an angel, doesn't she?"
She was beaten, dirty, smeared with blood that was not hers. She had been helping them. There was a winter sickness in their village and she was healing them. He had been helping. He had been running back and forth, bringing her fresh linens and poultices, he wanted to help. She assured him he was helping, and even over tired, her hair falling out of it's messy bun, he thought he saw the angel his father claimed she was.
She had been helping them.
She was straining against the ropes, trying, so hard, to move closer to him. Her voice was thick with tears, strained. "You're hurting him, please, he's only a child, you're hurting him."
But they were hurting her. They pulled her back by her hair, threw her into the corner, far away from him. He heard them speculating, what laying with a monster must have done to her, what lay beneath her long skirts after that. He wanted to kill them, for the way they talked about her. He could, he knew he could, even so small, they were only mortal. Like his mother. They were only human. They couldn't fly.
He didn't scream. Princes didn't scream. They were supposed to fear him, even when he was small, beaten and scared. He was supposed to rule. The humans were temporary, he was eternal. Or, they thought he was. He was only seven. No one could be too sure what he was, or what the extent of his power was, or how much of his father he took after. He was scared, suddenly, that he was mortal.
He wasn't old enough yet to understand how unlikely his existence was. He was barely old enough to know what they meant when they called his father a monster.
They stripped his mother of her finery, right before his eyes, left her in nothing but the underneath layers of her dress. He wasn't old enough to be glad they offered her that dignity. He knew she didn't beg for herself, her tears were not for her own life, she begged for him, she pleaded that they not hurt the child. The lashes burned against his arms, his skinny torso, but he could not let them see how much it hurt, even as he felt it melt away his skin.
She told him not to hate them. That they were scared. He hated them. They had nothing to fear. She had saved them and this was what they did in recompense.
The humans built an execution pyre, they called her a witch. They dragged him out, still bound, still burning, and they made him watch. Pushed him to the front of the crowd that had gathered, a large man held him, told him this is the only fate that waits for monsters. Once they had used him, brought the king of monsters to them, once they had killed his father they would throw him on the fire too.
He hadn't known that it took so long for a mortal body to burn. He hadn't known it would take her so long to die. He couldn't pull his eyes away, they stung with the tears that streamed down his cheeks, watching her face her death with the same quiet dignity she held when preventing the deaths of others. When saving the people who burned her alive.
The large human, their leader, the Belmont, untied him, pushed him towards the fading ashes of the fire. "You can go to her now."
He stumbled, unsure, his whole body ached with his wounds untreated, he couldn't see through his tears. The men left him there, he knew it was a trap, they were lying in wait, he prayed, to nothing he believed in, that his father didn't come. They would kill him. He wasn't ready to be the lord of the castle. He wasn't ready to take his father's place. He didn't want to lose his father.
The snow soothed the wounds on his back, even as it froze his fingers. The embers of the execution were still warm, he curled to them without thinking of what they were, imagined his mother's soft, soothing voice. Her high laugh when she teased his father. The way they smiled. Her wedding ring had survived the fire, it glinted, a sickening reminder of where he lay. The tears flowed anew, tiny, frozen fingers closed around the ring. A scrap of fabric, he held to himself, The bone of the finger where the ring lay.
He didn't sleep. He couldn't.
He heard the wolves first, tearing through the forest outside the village, howling. Then the bats, demons, things that so rarely left the sanctuary of the castle, all came for a taste of human blood. For a taste of the Lord Dracula's vengeance. They swept past him, he barely knew what was happening before the fires started. He saw the Lord Death, his father's right hand man, tearing down the men who had laid in wait. The wolves fed, the bats grew fire in their bellies and burned the homes of the men who had killed their Lord's wife. Lesser demons subservient to his father walked the earth, throwing fire and darker energies at the men who chose to attack. They protected the funeral pyre.
And then his father came.
He had taken the form of a giant wolf, it's mouth already red and dripping with blood. Huge paws left smoke and ash in the snow where it stepped, it took the child long moments to even recognize the creature as his father. Still, he didn't move. He burrowed into the ashes, he didn't look at the things that had been wrought around him, the smoke, the fire, it burned through the child's lungs. It reminded him of what happened to force this to come to pass.
The man who held the whip that had burned him so badly, the Belmont, faced his father. And the child's father had taken a form close to human, though his cloak still swirled like wings, he still fought with magics that the boy couldn't fathom. He watched the Belmont who had killed his mother, who had taunted and tortured him, fall to his father's sword.
And then he was by his side, crouching in the ashes.
"Adrian?" He gathered the boy into his arms. "My Adrian what have they done to you?" He brushed the boy's hair from his face, wiped the ashes from his cheeks. None of the monsters dared to come near. Only Lord Death approached.
"I cannot find the Belmont's son." He rasped, in a voice not heard, but understood, known.
"Leave him. Let him learn to live without his family, like they have forced upon us. He'll not survive the winter, all the same." His words were harsh, but he held his own son gentle.
"Kill the rest of the village. Make sure they know why. I'm taking my son home."
They claimed the castle held a Prince. A scant few told stories, a young boy as golden as the sun they all feared, soft, hidden away even from the monsters who sought sanctuary in it's cold depths. Others said it was a ghost, the Master could not let go of his cursed, half mortal son. Forced Death to let his spirit wander the castle.
Others still claimed he refused to live as a human, that he lived among the bats, or the wolves, or kept a form no more tangible than mist. Or the Lord of the Castle kept the boy locked away, afraid of the mortals who had killed his wife. Most were not sure the Prince existed at all. The ones who believed in him were convinced he was the prisoner of his father.
He was eight, and he had not slept without nightmares since his mother had passed. His father sat awake through day and night until he could rest without fear.
He was twelve, and he was ill, and his father braved the human villages for herbs to make medicine. He was twelve, and his father taught him to shift into a wolf, took him out to the woods just before dawn to run with him, to show him what he could do.
He was so young, and he knew his father was a great Lord, he took in the monstrous, the demonic, those who would otherwise be killed by the mortals and he gave them sanctuary. He protected them from the humans. But they saw king of the monstrous, of the damned. He saw his father. Who would deny him nothing, who taught him words and histories and swordplay, music and numbers, taught him to rule with patience, understanding. Who kept in his chambers a painting of the small Prince's mother, the prince himself in his infancy, hung in his chambers, told him of how hard it was to get him to keep still while he painted.
He was a happy child, as happy as one could be after being made to watch his mother die. But he still could not deny that he was trained to rule.
He was fourteen, and he was made to kill a human who had wandered too close to the castle grounds.
The man was a soldier, trying to prove his bravery, inadequately armed, and Adrian watched him from the throne room, standing beside his father.
"You could send Lord Death for him, make an example of the mortal." He suggested, picking at a golden thread on his coat.
"Go. I'll be just behind you. It's been some time since you have fed, hasn't it?"
Adrian startled. He knew it was going to happen. He knew he would have to kill, it was his bloodright, it was the circumstances of his birth. And he watched the man, sword at his side, as he scaled the walls around the castle, he remembered the men who had killed his mother. Simply for what she was.
He was fourteen, and he still had nightmares of the fire.
He was fourteen, and he was prepared to kill.
"If that is what you wish."
His father traced one hand over his hair, through the platinum cornsilk curls, his hands like claws, Adrian found the slight scratch soothing.
"You are ready, my son."
He stepped down from the throne, and out into the night, confident when he walked into the air, surrounded his cloak around himself and felt the wings form, the crisp night air washing through the bat's fur when he changed form. It was tempting to rush out into the night, to tumble and fly and revel in the freedom that the night sky offered.
But there was a man scaling the castle walls, and that man did not deserve to live. He was of the same blood, if not part of the mob that killed his mother, He wanted to destroy the things that only sought for safety in the castle. The humans were cold, they were cruel. Their lives were so fleeting that they never developed the wisdom of age, and they feared, hated the things they did not understand.
He flew along the castle walls, seeking out the human, and landed before him, his boots almost silent when he took his human form again, or as human as he could appear. He could never pass for a mortal. Ne never wanted to. He was harsh, sharp, monstrous, like his father before him.
The man raised his sword. He saw a slight, pale thing, small, unarmed, and he thought he had an easy kill.
"Step aside, child, I seek bigger game than you." He tried to nudge Adrian with his sword.
He didn't move.
"Move." The brute insisted, stepped close and pushed him, the hilt of his sword hit his cheek, and Adrian didn't react. He placed his hand, cold, clawed, over the man's moved it away from himself. Sharp nails dug into the warrior's hand, drawing blood.
The man raised his sword, and made to attack, but Adrian dodged, effortlessly. He had trained with the castle's master. He had trained with Lord Death. A nameless mortal hunter served as no match. He swerved and dodged the man's clumsy strikes, making his own where he could, long claws sinking into his skin, the warrior's skin showed bright red with blood. The stench of it, cloying, hot, filled Adrian's senses and he wanted to trap, to sink his fang teeth in, to tear and kill. And he would, as soon as he had weakened the human enough to know he would stay still. But he kept fighting, swinging his sword as the shadows Adrian left behind, curses bubbling at his cracked lips. He was still only mortal, more than Adrian would ever be.
But the warrior was realizing he was fighting a losing battle. He fought harder, clumsier, but in his frenzy he was strong, and his sword lodged in Adrian's leg, he hissed in sudden bright hot pain and grabbed the man's wrists, wrenched them back, breaking both as he limped closer to the mortal.
His blood was sour, it was wrong. The man had been ill, and he could taste it. But the man had also drawn blood, and he would pay for that. He would suffer for the pain he had wrought.
Adrian did not need to drink enough to kill. He did it all the same, despite the sour, sick taste. It wouldn't poison him. He wasn't sure there was much, anymore, that could. He may have become too much of his father for anything mortal to touch him anymore.
And there was his father, stepping through the blood of the fight, lifting the man's sword and cleaning it off on his coat.
"You didn't stop him." Adrian muttered, looking at his own bloodied leg.
"I am sorry, Adrian. But I wanted to allow you to fight on your own. And you have done so well." He offered the sword to the small boy. "Spoils of war."
Adrian took it. "I want more. They deserve more, for what they have taken."
"And more you shall have. When you are strong, we shall take this world for our own."
Dracula gets a little touchy feely on his son in this one, fair warning. It's very minor, and can be read as simply affection to a certain point. Chapter can be skipped, or you can simply skip the last two paragraphs if you don't want to be involved in that.
The golden child was cold. The things that were old enough to have remembered a happy child, running wild with laughter through the dark halls of the castle would scarcely believe that the thing that sat with his father in the throne room was the same boy. Even so young, barely grown, the Prince of the Castle was beautiful, lithe and slender and strong, golden like his mother had been, pale skin, pale hair, pale eyes. And he stood at his father’s side in dark colored finery and he barely looked real. Even the Lord Death seemed cowed by Adrian Fahrenheit Tepes.
It was the bloodlust that that made the things in the castle bow down to him. The child led hunts, into the human villages, used his human looks to lure the innocent into his trap. To the monsters, there was no mistaking him for anything but one of their own. He looked human. He looked beautiful, a creature made of light, deadly and fearless and cold. There was no mistaking him for anything but his father’s son.
There would be a war, his father said, when they were strong enough. The humans, he said, had to pay for all that they had taken from the creatures of the night. For banishing them to take sanctuary in the castle, for hunting their families and their loved ones. For what they had done to the golden child’s mother. For all the things the humans had destroyed, when the night was strong enough they would go to war. The Prince was promised a war, and he would have it. He would bathe in the blood of those who had taken everything from him and left him to die.
But he was only a child, with the fickle cruelty of youth. He thought himself immortal, and perhaps he was, but he was not invulnerable. Still, he acted like he could not be killed, like he was untouchable.
He took solace in the throne room and pretended the nightmares were gone.
He took comfort in cruelty and became a monster.
“Have you hunted, my prince?” The Lord Death asked when the moon rose, and the boy had relaxed into his father’s throne.
“I’d not go today.” He dismissed. “The humans are burning witches again.”
“Should we not teach them to fear the night?”
“Let my father take care of it.” The boy curled his long legs under him, let his hair hide his face, the fear of fire that never really left him.
The Lord Death knew, of course, he had heard the boy’s cries, seen his father’s worn face when he stayed up all hours to comfort his only son. But the being chose to say nothing, fading back into the shadows to allow the prince to grieve alone.
The wolves would put an end to the witch burnings. The Lord Death sent them out to put fear into the humans, he was loyal to the Lord of the Castle, and so could not let such a reminder remain. He could not make the Prince of the Castle suffer for his own memories. The witch burnings could not be allowed to continue. The humans had to remember why they feared the night.
The Lord of the Castle was rising, and with him, the darker things that laid dormant in the day. The castle was coming to life, and soon there would be revelry, bloodshed. They would remind the humans all the reasons they had to fear the castle, the night. The monsters would be allowed to play. But the thing that called himself Dracula had other things to attend to.
“Adrian?” The Lord of the Castle knelt before his own throne.
The Prince did not answer his father’s plea.
“Adrian, look at me.”
He did not. His hair spilled over his shoulders, covered his face, he was as still as Death itself.
His father took a gentle hand when he moved Adrian’s head, sought his gaze. “What’s happened?”
“The humans are burning witches. I want to kill them.”
“Then that is what we will do.”
“How?” Adrian whispered. “I don’t want to go near the fires.”
“Would you like me to bring you one, my Adrian?” His father’s hand combed through his hair, pushed it back, the gesture affectionate, kind. He took a softness with his only son, a gentleness so much unlike the monsters they were.
The boy nodded. “I want to kill them.”
“Then you shall.” The Dark Lord of the Castle promised. “I will bring you their leader and you can kill him yourself.”
The boy smiled, an odd, crooked, sharp movement.
“Good.” His father pressed cold lips to his forehead, his kiss was gentle. “Wait here, I will bring your prize to the throne room.”
The ancient Lord of the Castle ran with his wolves, followed the scent of blood and burning flesh to the village, rebuilt. They had forgotten to fear the night, feared only what they thought was a single monster, the boy, when he hunted. Only one remained who remembered the fire, who remembered the wrath of the castle. Sometimes he regretted letting the Belmont live, but he was an old man now, who could do them no harm.
It was not a Belmont leading the witch hunt this time. Instead, it was a man who called himself a priest, a thing more monstrous than anything in the castle, he hid behind kindness to commit his atrocities. Played good to the humans so he could destroy anything that wasn’t. He would be a fitting gift to his son, a fitting sacrifice. The wolves could take the rest.
The priest tried to fight, tried to protest, and the holy water burned, but the pain was worth the capture. The Prince had requested his revenge. The Dark Lord would do anything for his only son. Anything to ensure the boy was a fitting heir, wanted for nothing, learned to do what was needed to protect the things that could exist only in the night. Anything to keep Adrian happy. And if revenge was what he wanted, revenge would be granted.
The priest never stood a chance.
Still, he managed to look shocked when he was dropped unceremoniously on the floor of the throne room to see something so angelic staring down at him with cold golden eyes. The boy was regal, and his father was proud for the way he gazed down at the mortal, proud for his beautiful cruelty. The priest cowered before him, on his knees, only daring to glance at the boy in the throne.
“Is this their leader?” Adrian asked, he sounded almost innocent, rose to his feet and grasped the priest’s jaw in one fair hand, forced him to look up.
“It is the one leading the witch burnings, my Prince.”
Adrian caressed the man’s cheekbone with his thumb, his face softened, and the man pleaded for forgiveness, hands clasped in prayer, he stammered that the boy was an angel, that he would see God, that he was good. Something so beautiful had to be an angel hiding in the demon’s castle. The priest believed he was saved.
“You poor thing.” Adrian cooed, he knelt to the man’s level. “You only wanted to save your people from the witch, didn’t you? You only wanted to protect them from the night.”
The priest gasped his thanks, tears streaming down his cheeks, he reached out to touch Adrian, and the Lord of the Castle had to force himself to stand back, hated the human touching that which was his with hands marred with the blood of the castle.
“Did you ever think of the lives you were ruining when you killed them? Did you think they might have families? Loved ones? Did you think of who you affected when you killed the witches?” Adrian’s fingers, nails like claws, dug into his flesh, tiny beads of bright, thick blood pooled where he touched.
The one who took the title Dracula could smell the human’s fear, palpable where he still kneeled before the monster so human, so beautiful. Where a part of him wanted to believe that the boy was still an angel, would still guide him to heaven.
“Did you ever stop to think that the things you killed felt just as much as humans? Loved just as much as your mortals?” Adrian pressed, he pulled the man to his feet, met his eyes. “Every life you took had a soul.”
Finally, the priest seemed to believe that he was not facing an angel. He was facing the scion of the demon’s castle, and he was going to his death. There was no Heaven waiting for him, the only thing that would come for him was the Lord Death.
Adrian took his time with the priest. He threw the desperate, pleading man into the throne and climbed on top of him, his skinny body moved almost like a lover would, cradling the man’s head in his hands, claw nails digging into his flesh, peeling the skin away from his cheeks, drinking in his pleas for forgiveness, for life. The Dark Lord only stood back, watched his son feed.
And when the prince rose from the chair, covered in blood, he gave his father a shining smile. The Lord Dracula had never held more pride, more love. He took his son in his arms and he licked the blood away, held the boy close.
He had lost too much. He could never let go.
The village was scared, a monster walked among them. The dead were found in the forest, hollow shells drained of blood, or torn limb from limb and empty. And even with walls built, guards posted, and travellers only allowed to enter in the safety of sunlight, they could not find their killer. A monster dressed as a man walked in their midst, and the village turned on itself.
And the prince of the castle smiled.
They thought him a mortal. They thought him weak, ill, in need of protecting. They sheltered the prince in a room in the inn, an older woman checked on him daily, told him he was cold. Told him he needed to heal. She brought him herbs and teas and she fussed over him, and they never suspected a thing. After all, he changed his form to play human, his natural form, inhuman and harsh and golden, hunted. Killed, wanton and brutal, and dragged the bodies to the woods for the wolves to take.
The human's fear was delicious. As delicious as their blood, rich and fat on the peace they had been allowed while the castle laid dormant and planned for their war. They didn't know what was coming. They had to remember to fear. And so he hunted, in the village, lived among the humans. He let them cater to him, take care of him, and he picked off their warriors as he could.
They didn't stand a chance. They didn't know what they fought.
He was barely more tangible than mist in the night, followed the guards who watched the walls, who thought they were fighting a predator outside the village. They didn't think the beautiful young thing that they had taken in was the thing that they should fear. He listened to them, they talked as men would, casual vulgarities, filthy things about the women in the village. They deserved their impending deaths. They were more monstrous than the monsters themselves.
But the prince had never thought of the things in the castle as monsters. They were victims more than the humans, chased away to the sanctuary offered by the demon's castle, shunned by the world, by the day. They were his subjects, and the prince loved them all. He had run with them as a child, they had cared for him when his father was away. They had taught him, and loved him, and raised him and treated him as one of their own.
The humans had taken everything from him. And they continued to take, hunting the wolves, training their own to fight the castle, to kill his father. The Belmont they had let live had made his own children, and they carried the whip that had once burned the prince when he was so small. They talked of destroying the castle. The prince wanted them all dead. But it wasn't so simple. The Belmonts were trained to kill him. They were armed for it, and they had sworn an oath before the heavens and before God that they would hunt the Night the castle sought to protect.
The prince had to admit to himself that he was not prepared to fight a Belmont hunter.
But the guards, those he could fight. He waited until one had left, the fat human insisted he go to the pub, since the night was lonely and he needed a woman. And they wondered why they were losing so many of their own. A guard could not even keep watch the whole night through. It suited the prince well. He could have killed both the guards, but there was a higher risk of being caught that way. A higher risk of someone screaming, or surviving. Calling attention to the prince, and his deception. Too much risk.
The prince took his human form, small, cold and pale and childlike, far enough away from the remaining guard that he would not be noticed taking shape. He could play an innocent.
"What are you doing out here?" The guard's voice took a concerned, almost fatherly tone.
He shrugged, stared at the ground. Intentionally let his shoulders lower, let himself look smaller. Worthy of protecting.
"You want me to walk you back to the inn?"
They thought he couldn't talk. He figured that made it easier. Made him seem so far from suspicion, weak and helpless. No one would think the small, mute boy who had wandered sick and hungry into their village to be a monstrous killer. Children were too close to God, blessed were the meek, blessed were those who suffered.
"Here, come on. Walk with me, we'll get you back to bed."
The prince held out his hand, and the man took it. That was his first mistake. His second mistake was letting the boy lead him towards the well near the center of the village. Right near where they burned the witches. Where no one looked, since all the bodies were found outside the village walls. They thought that inside, they were safe. They turned on each other and thought that if they did not leave there homes, it wouldn't be them.
No one thought their monster would have the audacity to kill someone in their sacred village square.
He brought the guard to the steps of the church.
"Do you want to pray, child?" The guard asked. He didn't know.
When he looked at the child, it was a monster. It was a beautiful golden angel standing on the steps of their church and he fell horrified to his knees. The monster was perfect. It was a monster even still and it bared his fangs. And in those golden eyes, the guard saw his death. He prayed for mercy, they all did, and in the moment when the fangs sunk in he knew there was no God.
"Who's there?" A sharp voice called.
The prince stilled. He let the body fall, he tried to force himself to humanity, frantically wiping blood from his lips. And standing beside the body of the man, he looked a shocked survivor.
"Another one? Inside the village?" The man was someone he had never seen before. Tall, strong, thick ruddy brown hair spilled straight over his shoulders. For a human, he was handsome. It occurred to the prince a moment to use him.
So he nodded, played at looking shocked.
"You found him?"
"Hey, it's all right. You're safe." The man held out his hand, like he might with a frightened, cornered animal. "I'm Trevor. Trevor Belmont."
The prince reached out, and he took his hand.
He let Trevor take him home. And he let Trevor tell him stories of hunting monsters as the days passed, he pretended to be entranced by the man who had revealed himself as the Belmont heir. The one who took the whip and offered to show him how to use it. Laughed when the prince played at fear. He doted on what he thought was a human, barely into adulthood, recovering, and beautiful in a way that few were.
He supposed he should not have been surprised when Trevor Belmont offered to share his home. Should not have been surprised when he told the prince he was beautiful, he wanted to protect him. But, being watched, cared for, like this, he could not return home.
He knew his father was watching. He knew every time the bats passed overhead in the night, in the glow of the wolves eyes outside the village. Every time the specter of Death took another soul, he knew he was being watched after. The Lord of the Castle would not let his only heir be taken by the humans. And he wished for nothing more than to run into his father's arms, the safety of the castle, of his people. It was hard to feed, when the Belmont Hunter thought he had taken in a human that needed him. That he could love.
But it had been weeks since he had hunted, weeks since he had fed, and he could smell the blood of every single human in the village.
Instead, he let Trevor Belmont take him to bed.
He had never taken a lover before, but Trevor was caring, he tried to be gentle, he tried to take his time with the skinny body he was given, but the prince was frantic, he was starved. He pushed Trevor to his back, nails like claws against his sun brown skin, straddled the strong body and tried to only taste his skin, heady with lust and sweat, he pulled back his fang teeth, no matter how much it hurt. Instead, he satiated his thirst with the salt tang of bared skin, with the knowledge that the heir to the Belmonts was laid helpless by want at his hands. Perhaps he could kill him, in the height of pleasure, like the succubi who lived in the castle, luring helpless men who thought they might be able to defeat what lay within.
He knew there was nothing that could be done against the castle.
He was doing the Belmont a service, preventing him from raging against the night.
He could kill him, so easily, with the Belmont's cock in his mouth, too sensitive, he could bite, he could tear, he could devour the man in his bed and leave the bloody mess a warning to anyone else who might try.
But Trevor was the village's only hope, and with him dead, they would raid the castle. And he knew his father's army could handle the onslaught, he trusted the warriors he had been made heir to. He knew they would win. But there would be casualties. There would be monsters laid dead, monsters with families he had seen, monsters he had played with as a child. And the humans would know that the things they feared could bleed from more weapons than the Belmont's whip.
So he let the hunter live. The seed he spilled was bitter and useless and the prince resisted the urge to spit it out, though it was not as satisfying as his blood would have been. And sated, the Belmont still sought to bring him pleasure, with rough, calloused, heated hands. There was a sort of satisfaction in that. In making the Belmont please him. In making him weak sodden with pleasure.
Trevor Belmont slept. And the prince left the village. He took the form of a great wolf, as his father had taught him to, and he ran through the forest. The night air, cool through his wild fur, rushed past him, the night was home to him. He was returning home. The night grew darker, deeper, and the castle loomed before him, opened it's doors to him. And the monsters would welcome one of their own back into his father's halls.
Perhaps the human would ask where the boy had gone. Perhaps they would suspect the Belmont had done something. Perhaps they would not question it, think he had gone just the way he had come, alone, silent. It didn't matter to him, all the same. Their lives were fleeting, so short, so scared. They would never know the beauty in the night, the feeling of rushing through the forest, of knowing what it was like to fly. He couldn't waste time on what they would think.
"Did you enjoy your time among the humans?" Lord Death asked.
The prince didn't answer.
"Why did you leave the Belmont alive? You had every chance to rid the night of his bloodline."
Still, he didn't answer, he brushed past the specter and made his way to the throne room, seeking out his father. But the Lord of the Castle was not on his throne. And he was not in the audience halls, where he heard the things that plagued the monsters that served him. He was not in the guest houses, among the succubi. He was not in the dungeons or with any of the higher monsters. But there were rooms only accessible to those the Lord of the Castle allowed. Rooms where they could live, where his mother had grown a garden. Less a monstrous haven, and more a home. And his father was waiting there, in the garden, now dying, a place they never entered.
"You were with the Belmont."
The prince nodded, stepped closer to his father.
"But you did not kill him."
"No. I failed to, and I am sorry." He hung his head, and the Lord of the Castle stepped close, stroked a clawed hand through his hair.
"We will ensure he does not make it through the castle. But you will have to kill him, when he comes."
"You were intimate with him."
"To gain his trust. He will think he on his side, if he comes to the castle."
His father smiled, kissed his forehead. "I've taught you well. You're pale. When did you feed last?"
"Months. The humans had to think of me as one of their own."
"Come. We'll take to the skies and we'll feast."
Huge bats flew through the pitch of the night sky, and fell upon a group of merchants. And the lone survivor would come to the village, raving mad of monsters who looked like angels, bodies with no blood, the Lord Death itself gathering the souls the monsters felled. And the villagers, scared, would think that the monsters followed the Belmont hunter. And he would wake to an empty bed, and he would take his exile with grace.
And Trevor Belmont would go to the castle.
Trevor Belmont comes to the castle.
The prince watched the hunter make his way through the woods and the cemeteries that led to the Demon's Castle.
"Do not worry, my child, the monsters will kill him."
"He will never make it into the castle."
He found a girl who was trapped in stone and the prince had to pretend he did not know that look in the hunter's eyes when he saw the girl, small, boyish, stronger than she seemed. He didn't know the affection, the desire that painted the depth of that blue. He found a monster and he made him a man. And Trevor Belmont had allies, and he was winning, and he was searching his way through the bowels of the castle and he was killing the innocent things that the Prince had known, had run with and played with and befriended. They killed indiscriminately, the mothers and the children that the humans saw as monsters, things that would not fight back.
"Do not worry, my son. We will have our revenge." His father promised.
But the Belmont, and the humans he had saved, were inside the castle.
"Adrian, my Adrian, you must go." His father urged, brushed the prince's long hair back, pressed a kiss to his forehead with cold lips. "There are humans that I am training, in a castle three day's flight from here. They will care for you. I cannot risk you falling to the Belmont."
"But he will kill you." Adrian breathed, terror seeping in. The castle was the only home he had ever known. His mother had been ripped from him, a mob lead by a Belmont hunter, he could not lose his father to the same family. Grown though the prince may have been, he was not ready to bury his father.
"And I will return for you, if I fall in battle. I always will. I may rest, but I cannot truly die."
"I want to fight by your side."
"It's too dangerous. You are strong, stronger than you may ever know, but you are not ready to fight a Belmont hunter."
"And in your eyes I will never be."
"You are too precious to lose, my Adrian. Please, go. I will come for you when this is over."
"What if he wins? I will have no home to return to." The prince clutched his father's hands, held tight, met his eyes with desperation and fear.
"If he wins, hide. Remain until I come for you. If the Belmont wins, the world will not be a safe place for you until I return." The Lord of the Castle spoke with resolve, his voice did not waver. He had planned for this, his son realized. Prepared for the worst. Sent the training forgemasters away so that Adrian would have somewhere to go, a safe place so that the castle could go to war and not risk it's heir.
"I can't." The prince whispered. "I can't leave. Let me help."
"You can leave, or I will force you to myself." His father was resolute. "I will not risk your life."
Slowly, the prince nodded. "Do not let the Belmont kill you."
"I will send my wolves with you, so that you know the way."
The prince hated himself for running. He hated himself for being unable to save his father, for not killing the Belmont when he had a chance. He ripped to shreds the first hunter he found in the woods, an old man, likely he just sought to feed his family, or himself, in the chaos that overtook the lands around the castle. It didn't matter. His blood spilled rich and hot over the wolf's jaw, his screams painted the night. It wasn't the death he deserved, he was not fighting the Belmont or the ones he had taken, but it was a death, and when his fangs sunk into the man's heart, spurting thick and hot, it sufficed. It was not the death he wanted, but it would have to do.
And, suddenly, the night was empty. It was silent and it was cold and there was none of the life the prince was used to seeing. None of the magic. And he knew the Belmont was that much closer to his father, that much closer to winning his fight. The darkness was fleeing the forest, creatures no longer safe, and the prince had to flee. Learning that he did not have a chance to fight.
The wolves curled around him when they rested, protecting one of their own. Protecting the scion of the castle, the one they had to hope for if Belmont won the battle against the night. They let him rest, he was not used to staying in that form for so long, it exhausted his magic, he could not hold it as he slept. So the wolves watched over him.
And the battle raged through the night, the castle held up arms against the Belmont, warped it's halls and stairways and tried to trap, tried to kill the humans. And the monsters fell, and pathways were made, that led to the Lord of Darkness, the thing they called Dracula. The Belmont was strong, he had trained to fight the castle his whole life, and he was the product of generations who had trained to do the same. He was stronger than the castle.
And, despite his wounds, he was stronger than the Lord Dracula.
His only son, far from home, felt the loss like it was his own heart.
It was not hard to find the humans his father had been training. They had taken what used to be a monastery, priests that worshiped the night, spurned the God of their humans. The monks, the priests in training, were long gone, fled the humans and their daylight and their weapons and their hatred. In their place sat two humans, one eager, one reluctant. Both beautiful. Both strong.
They were human, but they made monsters.
The eager one was called Isaac, and he was a monster, in his own way. Ink trailed over his body, he had pierced it with delicate metals, his body was shaped and designed to evoke something more than human. Something better. He offered his monsters for companionship, and when that was denied, he offered his bed.
Isaac moved like something serpentine, around and inside his prince, writhed on top of him, begged for more. He pulled on the metal piercing his skin, he begged for the prince to bite him, to drink his blood, to treat him like a monster of the castle. Isaac didn't want to be human. But the prince did not know if he could change him. If he even wanted to. Isaac was already so far gone, so deeply warped by the castle. He didn't know what power immortality would give him.
The reluctant one, Hector, tried to hold on to his humanity. But he was too powerful, the monsters he made too strong, too real. But he tried, so hard, to be human. To be kind and to be good and to care for his companions in this hidden, empty place. He was the one who called them for meals, the one who smiled and talked and he tried to be a friend to the prince. He tried to appeal to his human side.
But he joined Isaac and he joined the Prince of the Castle, in one bed. Hector let them move him, move in him, take him and warp him, bite and mark him. He gave in to a side more like the devils he created. He begged and he pleaded and he let them pin him down and claim him as theirs.
He was gone in the morning.
The castle was gone in the night.
Only Isaac stayed.
So they worked, late into the night, they brought the devils and the prince called to the night that was still loyal to his father. And they knew that they could curse this land. They could take it from the humans, who had taken everything from them. The humans who had driven Isaac away. The humans who had burned his mother, warped and destroyed his father.
He wouldn't wait for his father. He would have his revenge.
And when the humans had suffered enough, when the humans had given their blood, their lives, when the weakest were gone and the strong had begun to fall, he would bring the castle back. He would have his father back. He wold prove he could. Prove he was not weak, that he could stand by his father's side and he could lead the castle.
They worked for days, they wore themselves thin, they didn't sleep. He fed from Isaac in the night, and Isaac called devils to bring him food, but he saw the way the human touched his wounds, felt the way he touched fangs without fear, taking the night like a lover. The only thing human left in Isaac was his mortality. He would do well to change him.
After the curse was made, after the castle was returned, he would see if Isaac had earned forever. Had earned his place in the castle, in the night. For now, they had each other, and that was all, and he did not know if the change would take, if it was something he could do with his broken, weak, useless human half. And he could not risk losing the only companion he had.
He hated the human side that forced him to need a companion. His ability to care. His father's wretched vestiges of love.
But what he felt when Isaac touched his shoulder, when they stood at the parapets of the monastery and they watched the curse seep from their magic and out into the land, that was not love. It was power. It was the sweet wine taste of vengeance. And it was needling at his spine like the fire he had witnessed as a child, knowing this was wrong, this was all wrong.
He pushed that aside when Isaac kissed him, dark, bloody, delicious. Because this was their revenge, this was proof he could quell the human side and he could claim the night and raise the castle and he could be the monster that made the humans fear the night.
But he would have to face the Belmont on his own, before he could resurrect his home. Isaac could find Hector, end him before he tried to fight the curse, but he would have to end the hunter that had killed his father.
He would have to do it alone.
I came back! aftepes.tumblr.com
I'm baaaaaaack. aftepes.tumblr.com
But the hunter did not come immediately to find the curse.
The Prince did not know where he had gone after the castle fell. He did not know how long it had taken to build the curse that they sought for, he did not know what had happened after the castle had fallen. There were so many things he did not know, and so many things he did not understand and he feared he was too young, no matter how old he had become. He feared he was a child, sheltered by the castle and the monsters and the night. He feared he had not done enough.
And so he hid. He hid, and he did not confront Hector, or Trevor, as they tried to break the curse. He hid, and he watched Isaac die, and he did not save him. He hid, and he watched the day win.
He went to the tomb where his mother was buried and he slept. There was nothing else he could do, until his father returned for him. He could sleep, and he could dream, and he could pray to something he did not believe in that it would not hurt anymore. Pray for his father to take away his humanity, take away these awful human emotions that ripped away at him and made him need. Pray for his father to return. Because he needed his father back.
He was a child, and he missed his father and he longed for his mother and he wept until he dreamed.
He dreamed of his mother's garden, the spiced scent of the herbs she grew for healing, the lavender she braided into her hair. He dreamed of the names of the herbs she showed him, how to mix poultices and potions to heal and soothe. Which flowers meant love and which grew in the day, the few that bloomed in the night. He dreamed of her warmth, her smile, her laugh. He dreamed of the angel his father had called her and he dreamed she lived to see what he had become.
He dreamed she feared the monster.
He dreamed he had followed her words, and he was good, and he had taken Trevor Belmont to the castle and he had helped him put his father to rest. He dreamed he had followed him home, with the girl who had been stone and the man who had been a monster. He dreamed they had rebuilt the land that had suffered to his father's wrath. He dreamed he was good. He dreamed that he tried to live in the day, and he knew love and he knew peace.
He dreamed he had lived his mother's last wishes and he dreamed he had seen his father die.
He dreamed of his father's last struggling battles to stay in this world, he dreamed of the claws he raked across Trevor Belmont's face, the deep scars he left. He dreamed his father pleaded for him, died just a man, an old man crying out for his son. He dreamed, and he knew it was real, and that none of the heroes had seen this, they had only seen the ravings of a monster. Their victory against the night. He dreamed he was there, and that he let his father die, and he dreamed that he had done the right thing.
He dreamed of Trevor Belmont's touch, his smile, the love he knew and the love he showed and the trust he had placed in a boy he hardly knew. He dreamed of his lazy laughter, the rich taste of ale, the salt bitterness of his seed when they brought each other to bed. He dreamed of the fleeting moments when he felt safe with Trevor, and thought he might be good. Thought he might be able to change.
But he dreamed of the wings of the bat and the freedom of flight and the cold in the night that wrapped around him like blankets. He dreamed of running with the wolves, alongside his father, and the rich sweetness of blood when he fed. He dreamed of the castle and the creatures that had raised him and the warmth of the wolves when they surrounded the child he was and let him rest. He dreamed of the labyrinthine mazes of the castle, learning them, running through the halls and laughing with the abandon of a child. And he dreamed of his father's love, the way he smelled of cold, like snow, and old blood and the safety he felt in his arms. He dreamed of the nights he had slept in his father's coffin, his father's hands in his hair, telling him he was safe, he was loved, he would stay.
His father did not stay, and he was alone.
His father did not stay and he slept in a mausoleum where his mother had been laid to rest, nothing more than ashes and bones, and he laid in the ashes and he cried because he was nothing more than a child and he was alone and it was cold, even in the day it was cold and the sun felt like too much burning and he had lost his mother. And he had lost his father to madness and his revenge had been denied and he knew, he knew what he had to do.
He could end this. He could bring the castle back and he could rule until he found a way to pull his father away from the devils and away from hell to take the humans from this earth that they did not deserve. He could rule the night and he could make even The Lord Death cower before him. He could walk among the humans and he could make them believe him an angel as he led them to their ruin. Because he was the day, and he was the night, and he was his father's son.
Instead, he dreamed. And he waited.
Adrian wakes to his destiny. And so too does Simon Belmont. The circle is unbroken, unending.
The castle began to call to him. It seeped through his dreaming, wrapping darkness around his memories, shadows, the castle always in the corner of his eye. It was growing, it was growing and it was calling to him, and Adrian dreamed of the happiness it gave. Memories of his mother, of his father, the way they danced and the way they played and those few years when the castle was a home. When Adrian was sure there was goodness in the world and this would be forever.
And when he woke he knew what he had to do.
He left the tomb, grown over with vines and with weeds and roses pushing through the stained glass window he had watched his father pour, as his father taught him art, years and years ago. Years and nature had taken the tomb, even the lettering was weathered away, he could hardly read the words that had once made her name.
Lisa Fahrenheit Tepes
Undying in the Hearts of those who Loved Her.
Adrian walked away from it. Away from the death that had marked his life, had made him who he was. Away from the fire, from the madness that had followed, from the one thing that had tethered him to the human world. He walked away from her tomb and he felt the night gather around him, just as it had gathered around his father. He brought the bats and the wolves to him and he felt the vines under his feet, solid and stone and he knew where the castle was, just as sure as he had ever known anything in his life. As sure as he had known his dreams, as he had once known how to fly. As he had once known the face of his father. Of his mother, but it faded from his memory as he walked, as he felt the vines turn to stone and the trees grow and grow and grow higher and higher and twine around each other and there were walls, and the wolves howled for the chance to return home. The demons scrabbled over the walls and they perched on the walls, and they watched as he walked.
They bowed to their master.
The castle cradled him in his arms like the embrace of family. The only family Adrian had left. He remembered the stairs to the throne room, and there they were, under his feet as he walked, ascending the towers of the castle that grew from the forest around her tomb. He could call to him the demons, he could call to him the wolves and the bats and the night and if he remembered, he might even call to the Lord Death. He could send them out into the moonlight and tell them to make the humans remember what they feared.
The castle had slumbered, Adrian knew. One hundred years it had slumbered and Adrian was there when it woke. He was his father's son, after all. He was the heir to the night and all it's power and the demons that bowed to it. As they now bowed to him, their monster with the angel's face. Golden against the pitch black of the sky, he sank into the throne and he felt the castle built itself around him. With only a thought he brought the red roses from his mother's grade to vine themselves around his tower, to shroud it in thorns and blossoms the color of blood. With his will alone he brought the underground waterways where a child had once played with the innocence of one who had never known death.
The creatures would spread the word. Their castle, their sanctuary, had returned. And with it, a new master. As bright as the daylight they shunned, as heartless as his father. Forged in the same fire that had reignited this war, over a century ago.
He would protect his precious night, the only place that would take him. He would burn his humanity away in the witches fire the humans still blazed, and he would take his father's throne. And when the humans came he would let his creatures feed.
Simon Belmont never thought he would see the castle. A hundred years of peace, generations passed, the castle had gone to legend. He knew the stories. He knew of Trevor Belmont, of Sypha and Grant and all that they had fought to grant this calm to the world. He had trained to fight monsters, but he never thought it would be anything worse than a single werewolf, feeding on some sheep, or some ghouls accidentally summoned in a graveyard.
But there it was, the demon's castle, Lord Dracula himself in the highest tower, or so the legends said.
The legends didn't speak of a forest, overgrown. They didn't speak of a tomb covered in roses, or of a demon with the face of an angel, golden and pure and merciless, at the top of a tower as beautiful as he was. The legends told him the night was long and full of terrors, that it would rip the meat from your bones and feast.
The legends didn't tell him the night was beautiful, or that it whispered sweetness to him and beckoned him to the castle.
And so to the castle Simon Belmont went.