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Imprisonment

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Walter Dornez, a man nearing his middle years with a ponytail and the slightest of wrinkles beginning around his eyes, answered the door to the stranger and let him pass through. He already knew the man's errand, and the necessity for it, and he kept his opinions to himself.

The man was tall, with slightly wild white hair flowing from under a bowler hat. The lines in his face gave away an advanced age, and his looks could teach Walter himself something of sternness.

He nodded brusquely.

"Aloysius Crumrin. Is your employer at home?" he asked in an American accent.

"Sir Hellsing awaits you in the study, Mr. Crumrin."

Walter stepped aside to let him pass and directed him down the hall. "They're getting ready," he said out loud to the empty room. "There's nothing more to be done. Not now."

A few minutes later another voice called his own name, and Walter joined them in the study.

Sir Arthur Hellsing sat behind his desk, already looking tired though it was only afternoon.

"Aloysius has the book of the seal, Walter. It was his people who discovered it, before they were thrown out of England. But we'll still need your help to restrain him."

"I thought he was the butler," muttered Aloysius Crumrin.

"He was Alucard's comrade in the war."

"Ah... the one with the wires. Yes, that will be a help. But where are we taking the vampire?"

"Taking him?" asked Arthur Hellsing. "Nowhere. He'll be left in his room in the basement."

"You're keeping it here as a captive? Are you out of your mind?"

"I need this house safe. As soon as I can I will marry, and I will have an heir to carry on Hellsing. Otherwise it will be left in the hands of my brother, and that is out of the question. I don't want a vampire around my wife or a young child."

Aloysius Crumrin looked belligerent.

"Safety is the purpose of the seal. If you're afraid of the vampire, destroy it, or let it go live among the night things where it belongs."

Walter clenched his teeth and a muscle moved in his jaw, but he said nothing.

"I don't think anyone can destroy him now, with the power he has. And he's not one of your goblins. He was human once, and he's too dangerous to be let go," answered Sir Hellsing. "And my heir may need him again someday. He's our secret weapon."

"Teach your sons to be warlocks, Hellsing, or buy them guns. Don't give them night creatures as pets. It's trouble."

"I will do as I see fit. Are you helping me, or are you not?"

Aloysius Crumrin nodded. "I need the money. And there's no sense in you killing yourselves trying this."

He turned to Walter. "Are you in, or out? It's your old friend you'll be--"

"I obey the Hellsings under all circumstances, sir," Walter responded promptly, staring directly at Aloysius.

"We had just as well get started," said Sir Hellsing. "There's no telling what Alucard knows already." He looked pointedly at Walter, but the butler did not meet his eyes.

Aloysius Crumrin unrolled a blank piece of parchment on the desk in front of him, placing on it a long silver thread. With a piece of charcoal, he drew symbols around it, murmuring words to himself.

When he was finished the paper was glowing. He picked the thread up and handed it to Walter.

"This would be your specialty, I believe. He can't escape it... this time, anyway."

Walter nodded and took the thread. Sir Hellsing picked up a bundle, then rose and led them all down a hallway and a long series of staircases until they reached a dungeon room. He then pushed open a large wooden door. He then called out to the others.

"Alucard is awake."

The long-haired man in the black suit looked up at them as they entered. "A guest, master?" he asked in a surly tone. "I don't possess the gift of hospitality, I'm afraid."

Walter lifted his hands. The thread lanced out and caught Alucard around the neck. The vampire's eyes widened and small burns appeared on his skin.

"I am betrayed, even by you," said Alucard.

Walter tightened the string. Alucard became a mass of black tentacles but the string held. He reformed, this time as a feminine figure clad in white, his untidy hair now long and straight and covered by a hat. He smiled at Walter, then threw his head back and laughed.

Walter moved his hands again, and Alucard dropped to his knees. Arthur Hellsing ran forward with his bundle and unwrapped a black garment, which he threw around Alucard. He began pushing the vampire against the wall. Alucard struggled, and shouted in another language. He was weakening though, and finally Sir Hellsing pushed him down against the wall and held him there. Alucard sat, staring at his master, then at his old companion.

"Help me, Walter!" said Sir Hellsing.

Aloysius Crumrin looked at Walter. "I'll do it," he said.

He drew nails from his pocket which glowed, and he helped Sir Hellsing fasten the edges of the black garment to the stone wall. Walter stood stock still, the string still stretching from his hands.

Alucard's eyes were closing. He looked up for a moment though, and said weakly,

"We both serve only the Hellsings, don't we. Remember me."

Aloysius Crumrin grabbed Walter by the shoulder.

"Leave him. No one can help. It's up to your master and his heirs now."

He picked up the string and broke it.

Walter turned his back on Alucard and left the room. Sir Hellsing followed him out, and Aloysius Crumrin came last.

The warlock shut the wooden door and began putting symbols on it with the charcoal, which glowed and then disappeared as he wrote them.

"Your heirs will know what to do. The seal stands. That's all I can say," he said to Sir Hellsing.

Sir Hellsing murmured something about payment and left the two men there.

Aloysius turned to Walter. "If you grow as old as I am, which you probably will not, you will understand better what happened here today. Night things aren't like us."

Walter nodded, looking slightly pained. "They are not, but his family has done whatever they liked with this one."

"He won't bear a grudge against you, I think. You both follow your orders, as he said."

Walter shrugged, and turned away to walk down the hall. "I am ever a servant. That is true. Good evening, Mr. Crumrin."