Work Header

To Forgive & Forget

Chapter Text

(Warning(s]: None]

It was a beautifully haunting storm. Of nightmares, of dreams. A chaotic muse that inspired packs of wolves and apocalyptic floods within the mind and would only cease when there was no air left to be drawn in the lungs of man. In his ailing age, his joints ached and creaked, and he could not sleep. The peals of thunder accompanied the ricochets of lightning as they arced across the sky, the deep midnight swallowing light and providing a dark silhouette to the forests that encompassed the Hellsing estate. Before a yawning window too large for its fitting, for the wall it had been recessed within, a lone silhouette stood in the aghast silence of his own lavishly appointed room, everything embraced in shadow except where illuminated by the scatterings of brisk lightning and a lone candle providing him lonely, warm company at such a terribly early hour. He was known for his statuesque and alarming frequency of thoughtful raptures, and this was no different. At least, ever since the capture of the monster that had built the foundation of the Hellsing Estate, Abraham van Helsing had been known for such reveries that seemed impossible to interrupt.

"Would you like to know why artists, and poets, and bards all alike find such muse in the storm, friend John? It is because the storm is a predator of man, one of his only. The storm roils the seas and drowns ships. It ignites fires and strikes him down in the places he means to stand too high. It is darkness, enveloping the senses and stuffing them into cacophony and bewilderment. There is no man who can see through a storm; no man whom can cut through its madness and delirium and noise. It is as God intended, as it shall always be." The Professor had always been a witty and keen man, Dr. John Seward mused to himself after the spiel, having only just walked in barely a minute ago. In the reflection of the window pane, Abraham's ghostly reflection revealed an unblinking countenance and the merest sussurus of mouth. He swallowed, bringing himself closer and away from the shrewdness of distance.

"Professor, yes—the storms. However—" the man paused, his own phantasmal reflection joining alongside Abraham's, the man still so avidly fixated upon the storm. "This morning, we received summons from the Queen. Word reached us of an urgent mission we are asked to consider carefully, you see. And it concerns some distant madness in a town—or city—known as Yharnam." John gazed quizzically upon the shief of papers that contained all the detailing, something of confusion still apparent in his eyes.

Yet, Abraham seemed to completely overlook and ignore it, his gaze lost into the oblivion of tossed treetops and the jump and pitch of the wind that whisked them, thunderous applause joining their dance. "Not all storm are lightning and dark clouds and tempests, friend John. Sometimes, they are built upon the foundation of man's own arrogance and folly, brick by brick, until God strikes upon their Tower of Babel. Or is it Babylon?" A smirk quickened upon Abraham's face before disappearing again. "And when God abandons them, man turns to Old Ones and Elder Things."

"You know of Yharnam, then, don't you? You know of their blood ministration and their dealings with..." Jack's brows furrowed oddly, squinting at the paper ignited by the underside by the candle, the black ink more pronounced, but the font still somewhat illegible, "...these pagan...gods and their adherents. On the Isle of Great Britain, no less. But, I've never heard of this Yharnam. I didn't even know it existed until now."

"Godless cities that do not exist by the Word of God are not part of His Kingdom, John. For they do not worship our earthbound God. They looked too far into the abyss, and the abyss always looks back." In that one moment, lucidity and reality found Abraham as he snatched the papers from John's bewildered hands, scanning them with an eye so fast it seemed inhuman in lieu of his still. "We will need him, for this. He will go in my place, my Monster of monsters, my Abyss General. Son of the Most Low in a place where the Most High has been completely abandoned."

"It's been years since—do you truly intend to utilize him again? How do you know he won't betray us like last time?"

Abraham smiled darkly, chuckling in a low and ominous timbre. "We don't. But what makes you believe my Servant will not enjoy such a godless place and making its pantheon his bitch? Alucard would not even have to do it on orders, my pupil. He will do it with his godless smile and glee, for none partakes best in blasphemy than the son of the first of sinners."

Yet, perhaps that was the most odious things Abraham could say on the matter.

Ragged breaths panted in the swallowing and consuming darkness, a chest heaving, a low and weak snarl sounding at the obnoxious and callous intrusion of candlelight, weak attempts at moving back readily apparent in their scuffle and scrape along coarse stone. Alucard was bound at the feet and hands, two of the Nails of Helena, those of Christ, impaled through both cusps and feet. A holy torture that weakened Alucard so dramatically that he had barely the strength of a haggard man. A monster simply humbled by God. Ebony mane and long bangs framed a beautiful countenance tiredly held in weak anger, blinking heavily and blankly.

"What do you want of me?" came Alucard's weak and gnarled rasp, scooting back as much as he could, only a sack upon his body in the manner of a prisoner and offering the only modesty to such a thoroughly humiliated monster. Considering his English carefully, sometimes lost in the deluge of the mind, he added, "It's too early for experimentation, and you still require rest." His placating smile was wolfish and yet terribly robbed of its menace.

Abraham laughed dryly in his throat, striding towards Alucard, looming over the now pitiful excuse of a monster. "We are not here for an experiment, my Servant. Instead, I have come to tell you that you shall be sent upon a mission, Alucard. One best suited to you, and not an old man who cannot engage in an old hunter's folly." Alucard looked minutely hopeful, nostrils flaring as he breathed harder, eyes desperate and parched for some kind of freedom from this torture.

It would be eye to eye that equals met, and they were the farthest from that. Alucard watched balefully from below, observant, waiting. And Abraham maintained that steady gaze, the vampire bated. "There is a city known as Yharnam, kept secret, upon the British Isles. Of blood ministration, where humans consume monstrous quantities of blood for the sake of healing, built upon the worship of pagan gods. However, in their godlessness did God seek to strike them down, and a Scourge fell upon them to transform those with this plague into hideous beasts. Once, when I was still a professor in Amsterdam, I journeyed to Yharnam at what I believe was the epoch of its power, before the Plague of Beasts. I saw for myself what its healing could do, and glimpsed, on accident, the transformation of those whom fall ill to it. I was banished by the Healing Church for it, but I see now that Yharnam will not completely fade."

Alucard couldn't help but straighten, eyes rapt with attention. Humans...who could consume blood? Abraham caught sight of the hungry promise becoming instilled in Alucard, in the interest he needed to generate for this mission. Of course, he would need to continue in order for the bait and hook to be irreparably swallowed.

"She's doomed, isn't she? This Yharnam," Alucard remarked quietly, emphasizing the city's name malevolently, tilting his head back with a lackadaisical grin, head lolling to the side as his eyes hooded lazily. So emblematic of such a morose sloth that had taken to the creature years after his capture. Breaking spirits wasn't always so impossible, after all. The professor saw the foul light in his eyes, denied by tiredness but would be assuredly restored to machinations once the beast was set upon his course.

Exactly what Abraham wanted.

"She is. A dead horse bloated with death and plague and maggots spewing from her belly; puss-filled spores housing those larvae swelling upon every inch of her skin. Her limbs are broken and rotting, her mane and tail and forelock devoured by flies and beetles, and noxious gases built within are waiting to burst. However, with such disease at risk to the herd, the Master must send his greatest and largest hound to devour the beast, as his stomach is strong and famished from years of hunger."

Alucard's head canted to the side, a mad and wicked glee beginning to awaken upon it. "And I understand...the beast will be able to keep the bones to gnaw upon, and as trophies?" came his leering rejoinder, leaning forth with those jagged fangs pronounced in cruel and fain grin. It was enough so that Jack Seward quietly excused himself, overwhelmed with terror and bleak nausea clawing at his insides, all white-cold. Abraham was as damnably fearless as ever.

"He will still serve his master, and faithfully, but yes—perhaps he will have the bones to chew upon." Yharnam was given a death sentence. Its time was waning, and it was known that what little remained of its inhabitants would have to likely be put down. They couldn't be allowed to remain with disease pecking away their lives, even if they hadn't been afflicted with it yet. Cold as it was, if not the disease, then it would irreparably be other factors that could contribute to contamination of another sort. Such madness of the mind and soul could not be loosed upon the rest of the world, and the monster before him was the only one who could staunch and expunge it. And do so eagerly.

For Alucard was given a city to reign upon his own projection when denied that years ago. A city overtaken, hollowed of humanity and deigned to with what was left of them whatever he willed. To rule where his preemptive kingdom had been stolen, given all manner of monsters to master or destroy as he saw fit, all within the name of the Kingdom of England.

To them, a city forsaken by God and His Word was a city condemned to Hell.

And no better one to mete out it's fate than the Son of the Devil.

Chapter Text

(Warnings: None.]

"You lied about your illness, didn't you, Sir."

It wasn't a question. A blunt and droll statement, even through the fraying gauze upon the man's eyes, the wizened frame of a thick and prickly beard that framed the thin pause of lips from speech; Alucard could sense the flatness of the man's tone. Upon an ornate gurney within the 1st Floor Sickroom of Doctor Iosefka's Clinic, blood trickled intravenously into a bloodstream that didn't require but hungered voraciously for it, his ruse had been caught upon soon enough. It hadn't been difficult to gain access, for when word of Professor Abraham Van Helsing's coming to Yharnam had been reached, the straggling remnants of its population had burst joyously at the news of his coming. To young hunters, he was only the most prestigious hunter of all time, having taken down the most acclaimed trophy: the infamous Count Dracula himself, the stuff of nightmares and dreamy idealizations.

"Illness," Alucard parroted as he straightened up on the gurney, swinging his legs over the opposite flank where they weren't cautiously and fearfully crowding about him; the man, the Doctor herself, and some of the newly awakened hunters gazing gingerly from afar. His back slumped over as the vampire tiredly shook out his disheveled, handsomely disarrayed hair only oily black in the lowing shadows of the cautious candlelight. "Sometimes I thirst enough to feel ill, but it's been centuries since I've ever contracted any illness." Said so laconically, he wondered why they hadn't caught on yet.

"We were promised Professor Van Helsing! Who are you?" Iosekfa demanded sharply, a threaded cane held in a tense hand blanching from consternation, the woman clearly armed and ready to defend herself from this seemingly savage apparition. Alucard snorted in amusement at the thought. To think he still invoked fear even as Hellsing's bitch instilled some confidence in him.

"The good professor became famous for a reason, you know," he rejoined with a smirk, plucking free the intravenous needle and making a grab for the blood bag itself, considering it thoughtfully for a moment before tearing through its casing and beginning to gorge himself greedily, fangs piercing through and chugging down as much he could. Once emptied, he threw it aside sloppily and sighed, satiated—for now. The women balked at the clatter of the casing with some shelves tucked away, likely having broken something he could care less about. Regardless, startling revelations were just as satisfying to unveil. "It was because he hunted and detained me. Would a scrap of clothing satisfy your worship of that hoary old man? If so, these are his garments. All that nonsense about wolves in sheep's clothing and all that."

Standing now, he pinched a dragging hem of the crimson duster he wore, lifting it with a peacocking sort of show, smiling crookedly at his captive audience that, while not entirely scared, didn't seem to believe what was right in front on their faces. He dropped it with a droll fall of his teasing showmanship, unimpressed at their stunned silence. Of the group, a man clad in ragged garments, eyes bound by fraying gauze, jaw framed in a jagged beard and appearing curmudgeonly stepped forth and scrutinized Alucard fiercely. From beneath his bowed back and worn top hat, Alucard could feel that gaze pierce him. Wasn't the old fool blind? "Why are you here then, capture of van Helsing? Ah—van Helsing. I remember when he came to Yharnam, decades ago. He was banned from ever stepping foot in our city by the authority of the Healing Church. What makes you think you of all people would be welcome?"

Alucard shook his head and looked straight down at the man, he a head shorter due to age-weathered posture. "I think you've forgotten in you pageantry and infidel worship of false gods that Yharnam is still in the realm of Her Majesty. I came on her authority, by proxy through my master, the very same man you speak of. Oh no, I am not welcome, but foxes rarely are in the hen house." His smile was ghoulish, the very shadows seeming to swell to meet him, crowning him in darkness and partially silhouetting him menacingly. "She's issued an ultimatum upon Yharnam, but it will begin in stages—missions conducted by myself. This? It's only the beginning. The investigation period. For now, and to your relief, I am no more than a hunter like any other. I've made the blood contract, and I believe this is the part I venture into the famed Hunter's Dream, eh?" His look seemed to mellow, the other hunters venturing forwards bravely.

The first was a lad, maybe no more than twenty, and a young woman who looked markedly similar; siblings, Alucard could only assume. Both with mousy and tousled locks and striking blue eyes, matched to sickly pale skin and average looks. Unremarkable in appearance, but inconsequential. "You lookin' for the Hunter's Dream?" the male ventured, flicking his gaze to the Nosferatu uncertainly. Then away, due to how simply intimidating Alucard was to behold; worse maybe than the beasts they were to face.

"...Yes. And who might you be, boy? And the girl. Tell me your name as well."

"My name's Samel Way, and this here's my younger sis, Chera. We're hunters, y'see, but we've lived in Yharnam all our lives...sir," the brunet replied stiffly, Iosefka and her aides having left the vicinity to tend to other hunters just making their way through the contract, leaving only the blood minister to keep an eye upon Alucard warily.

Chera, as she'd been named, glanced gingerly at the vampire, then at her brother whose sleeve she held loosely to. "...Wha' d'ya plan on doing to Yharnam, sir? What does the Queen really want with us?" The fear was evident, the poor thing shaking like a winter-blanched leaf. While Alucard didn't feel exactly sorry for them—his ambition crowding too much for that—his cruel expression lessened considerably; visibly solemn, but not cruel.

"I don't know," Alucard lied, tersely. "I was told to come here and investigate. The ultimatum itself...only the Queen and my master really know."

Oh, but the relentless look that was shot to him, the blood minister clutching heatedly on the ball of his cane, breathing tensely. Foreigners were rare enough, treated with enough scorn as it was. But this abomination that stood before them would be made aware of how unwelcome he was. "Do you? Do really know so little, Count?" the blood minister sputtered heatedly, mouth red and wide in the indignation of his enunciation, face flushed and ruddy, mouth pursing so thinly it was barely a line; more a congested aperture. Alucard raised a brow with disinterest at him, waiting. "Her Majesty never cared for Yharnam! We care for our own, and alone! We pioneered a means of healing, dealt and tended to our own, and built a city so great upon a methodology of healin' you outsiders envy and covet—"

He was stopped short as the room began to darken, the candles low to such degrees that they were barely cobalt coronas upon their wicks. Those within the sickroom still, if not unconscious in their blood ministrations, shrunk before the shadows that contorted and wove, physical tendrils manifesting from Alucard's own and sliding up the minister's person like serpents. Menaced at his throat, bodily sensations proved these were not nightmares. Alucard was suspended in inky darkness that exonerated his form with only spectral red orbs denoting his eyes. Even if his eyes were of no indication, Alucard knew the man was moments from pissing himself in terror. That alone was enough to bring a goading smile to his shadow-swallowed features, chuckling darkly. Silence was the sweetest sound he'd heard yet in this damned city.

As if in religious terror, the blood minister turned away with tremulous slowness, trembling and skeletal digits coming to clutch his face. Iosefka shot into the room, shepherding the man out without a look even spared to the monster that had reduced him to such a state. Alucard laughed ironically, the shadows finally receding enough for him to appear at least slightly human in lieu of such a horrific demonstration. "I see now I can't be public about this, can I? I suppose I'll have to erase their memories of me disclosing as much as I have," he thought speculatively aloud, it just broaching in his view that Chera and Samel were still staring at him, a faint tremble taking to their skin. "I doubt I'll have to worry about you two, correct? You did see what happened to that man, and what I could do to you if word gets around of my true mission here. It can't be made public just yet."

"We won't tell a soul! Not a one, I swear it!" Chera blurted automatically, eyes stolen of their light as terror hazed them. Alucard only smiled ruthlessly, scoffing. No, he didn't need to worry about these two brats. At the very least, he was highly certain that he wouldn't be making many comrades here. Enemies? A bountiful amount. It was simply how things fell into place in situations such as this. Yharnam was at his mercy now, and if things were as terrible as reputed, if Yharnam truly couldn't be brought around into a proper English city, then it would perish by his hand.

Even he didn't want to destroy it immediately. Merely the requisite. Oh, but how soothing could that be when his smile was dark as a dawn swallowed by stormy skies?

To travel between the barely awoken to the dreaming...some strange lightness consumed him, if only for a moment. It was like dreaming, wasn't it? But it was too lucid to be a dream, too real to be lucid. Some strange, timeless brink. Even Alucard could sense something oppressive, with tenebrous influence that held time and suspended it, knowing that...something, was here. He'd been in the place of an intangible tormentor too many times to not know the difference. And being in the blithe presence of God had taught him the very same.

Endlessness. A twilight and interminable horizon, with the moon hung low and looming. Like metal whitened from being held above a heated flame; it seared, it brightened, it blanched. A sky on fire, and yet, upon the terraced hill crowned by a home, flanked by copses of trees and beautiful fields of white lilies, something felt eerily protected. Like it was a haven when Alucard knew far better. He would walk up the cobbled pathway, lined with graves and dew-glossed stone, but he would be pulled from his reverie.

Glassy white eyes met his own, something like quartz, but framed in an emotionally blank countenance. Pretty, but dead like a fish. "...Are you even a hunter?" the Plain Doll addressed suspiciously, hands clasped politely, but her voice gave sway to no leaning of trust. "Please, tell me. I cannot have you bring danger to the Dream."

Alucard was pulled sharply from his rapture, only to pass the marionette an irate look. "Don't be stupid, girl. If I wanted to bring danger, I wouldn't begin with this miserable place. I was told a man is the...proprietor, or master. I wish to speak with him," he rushed brusquely, causing the Plain Doll to step back and away, only raising a hand forlornly to gesture towards the workshop. The scent of a warming fire greeted his nose, and it was admitted that he wanted whatever warmth it could extol. This city was too damp, too cheerless. Too like the basement he'd been sanctioned within under Abraham as his jailer.

"Thank you..." he murmured inaudibly and offhandedly before trudging deliberately up the steps, small Messengers swarming at his feet, acknowledging only the fallacy that he was some sort of hunter among them. He scoffed mirthlessly, all before entreating his eyes to the relatively comfortable hovel within. Inside, it was warm. Chestnut paneling and fixtures all aglow in a warm gloam from the hearth and candle flame, conferring a comfortable and isolated atmosphere like a grand study. A single-room dwelling, long in build, and he was surprised to find that it wasn't abandoned as he'd previously thought. Signs of use were made manifest, and recently; candle wax only hours old, and a barrage of scents from hunters whom had been present within the last day, he surmised.

"Laurence, please—come back! Unshackle me! It nears, the moon! It nears..." Alucard furrowed his brows, not having heard this voice before. Sensed another, yes, but not this. Through another door nearer the back, to the left he came outside, following the sounds of uneasy breathing. Beneath the boughs of trees and secreted within the closure of great ferns and shrubbery, did the man of the hour lay. Was seated, that is, in a his wheelchair and stooped over in sleep. And...Alucard could only listen in, unable to find the voice to speak out.

"I've been here...for so long," the man rasped, interrupted by a sputtering snore, "...with no escape. How long has it been—oh! How long?!" That seemed to have startled him, Gehrman shocked to straightness before stooping his back again, blinking owlishly before he realized that an unexpected guest had found him. Seeming embarrassed, Gehrman wheeled the chair slowly about to look speculatively at Alucard.

"You—did you hear that? ...No matter. I must say, unusual garb for a hunter. You must be new. My name in Gehrman, hunter, and this is the Hunter's Dream."

"Yes, I'm well aware. I am Alucard, new to these parts. But I think you've acquainted yourself with that realization already," Alucard stated, gazing from beneath the wide brim of his fedora and bespectacled eyes, grateful that their shades concealed his rather monstrous eyes. Nearly the same glow and shade at the moon itself. "...Do you normally have night terrors such as this?"

Gehrman stared long and hard, a distant bitterness, melancholy, and balefulness imbued in that look. All until he sighed and hung his head, chuckling mirthlessly. "The Hunt itself is a nightmare. Enough to evoke night terrors. Good evening, Alucard, but you'd best be on your way. Those beasts won't hunt themselves. ...Off with you." He then turned back again, ignoring Alucard as well as he could. Yet...the vampire couldn't bring himself to resent the man. More so the faltering moment of compassion than anything else.

And maybe he had tarried for too long.

A whole week had passed with hardly any progress made to his mission.

Abraham had instructed him to compose a letter every week with reconnaissance and updates, and to send it via carrier pigeon, a fowl that Abraham himself had groomed to fly between London and Yharnam that served as their means of communication, the telegraph unavailable in such a provincial and rustic city. And for the first, very little had been achieved. The power structure of the Healing Church, the means of their healing, information on the weaponry—nothing that Abraham didn't already know, as his displeasure expressed in a reply that came only a few days later. Alucard had been staying in the basement of a hunter's lodge built quite some time ago, a polite means of segregation that kept the natives from the foreigners. It was one of the only ones, the other being in the abandoned Old Yharnam.

"Mr. Alucard? Or, uh—Count? Thought I might find you here, Sir."

Samel Way. Alucard peered upwards from his letter-writing, fountain pen pausing before he resumed anew, almost seeming to ignore the lad. "This isn't any of your business, boy."

The young hunter balked at the flinty tone of voice, but swallowed down his trepidation and took his seat at a bench within the tavern they alone occupied, parallel to the vampire, all the other hunters being lodged either quartered in sleep or out on the hunt. He bit his lip, the careful scritching of the pen and Alucard's intense focus the only thing that filled the silence for a long moment, the brunet being completely ignored, seeing as it didn't seem as though he'd be leaving any time soon. Persistent little pest.

"I haven't told anyone of the mission, sir. Neither I nor my sister. The Queen—she means to help, right? Make things in Yharnam right again. ...Everything's all wrong here. Hunt's been goin' on since I was boy. So many, many hunts. Each becomin' longer than the next. I don't reckon things really got shook up until you came," he prattled, Alucard insistently ignoring him more, jaw working in irritation that Samel finally seemed to catch on to. "Chera and I think we can help you. In fact, I've got somethin' for you—called a Beckoning Bell, it is. Didn't think you'd have one, but they're good for callin' for aid and stuff. Every hunter...usually gets one."

Alucard glanced up from his writing, gloved hand absently plucking the bell and giving it a once-over, before setting it down. Nearer to him, Samel observed with a slight tinge of hope. "What makes you possibly think I'll need your help? I highly doubt anyone in this godforsaken town has strength or skill comparable to my own. Least of brats such as yourself."

Samel swallowed nervously, glancing blankly at his own twiddling hands, arms crossed upon the table. "We want to help, Count. Yharnam isn't friendly to foreigners like you and I doubt anyone else would be willin'. Honest, I think we can if you just let us." The flame upon the candlewick danced in a brief spurt of wind, Alucard rolling the slip of paper he'd been writing upon as small as could be before pocketing it in the lapel of his duster.

"They're closing the gates! Someone, please—you have to help him! They cannot close the gates! He's still there!"

A shrill voice rudely interrupted the silence, a petite and frantic blonde woman capturing the gazes of both men with panic in her eyes, hard and red from sobbing, rounding before she darted towards them and nearly tripped over her own skirts. Small, pale hands seized Alucard by his lapels, pulling him down to forcibly lock gazes with her while Alucard deadpanned. "Please, sir, won't you help my husband? He's a hunter just as you are!"

Samel stood and was like a shot to them both, placing a soothing hand on the woman's shoulder. "Miss Viola, isn't it? Is it Father Gascoigne? Where is he?" She released Alucard, focusing wholly on the boy now.

"He was hunting with Henryk in the Forbidden Forest. A large beast found them, one they couldn't contest with. Henryk and a few other hunters managed to close the gates, but Gascoigne was left behind on accident when he tried to keep it at bay," Viola explained tearfully, clutching at a handkerchief that was crumpled in her small hands. "Samel? Oh, your sister Chera knows the girls very well. Eileen's keeping watch on them, but please, please hurry!"

Alucard wasn't given a moment to voice acceptance or dissent, for there was no need to. Even if he would be loathe to admit it, something twinged at the father he'd been once long, long ago. Centuries past, but it was still enough to compel him to action, enough that Samel would have no way of keeping up with the Nosferatu. Viola was to remain inside, alone, but protected in the hunter's lodge.

Aside from this unexpected impetus, Alucard didn't know what drove his feet, both firearms in hand as he far surpassed Samel in their long run there. Townspeople were remanded to their homes, but he could still see the silhouettes and impressions of faces and hands pressed to barred windows, the pale moon giving them ample light. Shadows were cast unusually long, as if the moon itself was looming above them in order to witness the spectacle. Sensitive hearing could pick up on the clangor of an ax against a large beast, the aggressor fighting manfully while another man with his face entirely concealed by a brown face covering, outfit having a distinct, creamy yellow color that stood apart from the other hunter's he'd seen, presided over the gate at its zenith, aiding the battle as he could. Younger ones were listening to orders, many engaged in slaying those rampaging beasts that had slipped through, war cries and those of injury disturbing the night air.

In a slant of shadow, Alucard leapt unseen to the upper heights of the gate where Henryk was, firing round after round of bullets at a skeletal beast that shouldn't have been animate, static flaring bright and florescent violet that crackled audibly. A man, too tall for normal folk, was engaged in battle and who Alucard could only assume was Father Gascoigne. Blindfolded, as many Yharnamites were, his axe parried a savage swipe of jaw as only an electrified skull roared back at the man. "You there! Henryk? Stop firing. You're only pissing it off, not dealing any damage. Let me handle this," Alucard ordered shrewdly, only receiving a vehement oath from the old hunter.

"Piss off! I'm not about t' let my partner die without help!" Henryk shot back, firing another salvo with abandon. Alucard stalked towards the man, hypnosis only taking a moment to reduce the old veteran to a stupefied stance, loitering blankly as Alucard could finally do his work. Leaping into the fray, Gascoigne spared only a meager glance at the red-clad gunman, ostentatiously dressed and impossible to ignore, whilst the vampire saw fit to work. Static-shocked hide bristled intensely as lightning ran profusely between the strands of the darkbeast, Alucard beginning to stand near it without consequence.

"Stand aside, human. Let me finish the beast off," Alucard said to the much taller man, shadow matter beginning to manifest as it coiled around the dark beast, it shrieking in indignation and flailing as it was wrestled with superfluous ease to the ground. Larger tendrils bound and coiled the skull, the Frenchman watching on in awe with a gradually lowering axe. In one violent motion, a tremendous snapping of plating and cartilage, the skull was crushed under the enormous pressure and the electricity fizzed out entirely. Clutching his side, the velocity of reality hit and Gascoigne doubled over and crumpled to him knees, hacking up blood as Alucard watched on for a moment as his shadow matter receded.

"Think yourself some valiant hero, don't you? Hmph, completely disregarding the family you have..." Alucard mused to himself, Gascoigne slipping into unconsciousness due to blood loss. The vampire, of a superhuman strength, hefted the priest on his shoulders as though he were a lamb, squatting to position the man swiftly losing consciousness; enough that he didn't protest the action. He strode back to the gate, a young hunter having found the veteran hunter who had been broken from his stupor by now; seeing Alucard was with Gascoigne and a felled darkbeast in their wake provided all the volition necessary to open it again. Relief came when they passed through and it closed, it having been a narrow victory for the hunters.

Both were received in a wild volley of cheering, Alucard unable to help the smug look on his face as he grinned boastfully at all of them, the wine of victory a catching dreg. For as stoic as he could be, the gloat of victory was one he rarely passed up. Clothed in white came nurses he recognized from the Iosefka's Clinic, marveling silently at Alucard's strength for a moment before he transplanted the unconscious church hunter on a wagon bed that would transport them; Gascoigne was too large to take otherwise. Viola would be informed, he suspected, and he would pass into grateful obscurity for a good while, he hoped.

And yet, as Gascoigne was being fussed over in the litter, his eyes met those of Samel Way, the youth beaming awestruck at him. Alucard only snorted, but knew he would need some time away from this, and the hunter's lodge wouldn't be where he'd find it. They'd be celebrating and drinking like fools, he knew. Especially after a night like tonight.

Idly glimpsing the moon, silhouetting the darkened outlines of the Gothic homes, he saw something peculiar. A humanoid silhouette with a conical hat and a mantle of heavy, oily black feathers. When they realized he'd spotted them, they disappeared, he seeing the sharp protrusion of a beak—a plague doctor's mask, he assumed. All a flurry of feathers like some jostled bird. A crow. Curious. He made an inquisitive noise, but nothing more before setting once again upon his way.

The flames of the hearth were comforting, the silence nullifying in a manner that would make sleep an easy beckon were he inclined towards it. An overstuffed chair, buried in a corner beneath manuals and unworked strips of leather, had been salvaged and its abandoned burdens set aside. Velveteen partially rotted and worn to the cloth, it was comfortable nonetheless, he quite used to ratty furniture. Made it more homey, even. In his hands was an untouched cup of tea, a meager amount, still steaming hot. Alucard couldn't drink the beverage, but its warmth and the sweetness of chamomile were as though he could partake; it served its purpose, still. Sinking back indecorously, the vampire was mired in thought, mulling over the events of the day. Events that made him wonder, made him question: was Yharnam really as lost as he'd originally believed? There was hope here. The same disgusting sort that made him lose to the Band of Heroes those short few years ago.

"Do you need more logs for the flame, good hunter? It seems to be getting low," the Plain Doll offered from behind, standing aside the chair Alucard occupied, the vampire regarding her once before settling upon the hearth once more.

"You don't have a gift for subtly just yet, little doll," Alucard returned softly, the Plain Doll smiling faintly. In the week that had passed, while he hadn't become a friend of the denizens of the Dream, there had been a silent acquaintanceship. Gehrman hadn't spoken a word to Alucard since, but he was still present in the room with them, snoring with spittle dribbling down his chin by the cabinetry that was only a few paces from them. Fast asleep, as Alucard seemed to always find him; unsurprising, seeing as Alucard was active during the night, not the day. "There are plenty of logs, and this isn't what you want to talk about."

The Plain Doll stood in thoughtful silence, quartz eyes beautifully reflecting the hearth fire. "...What is it like, the world outside Yharnam? You do not come from here, and there are several others hunters who are not from Yharnam, but there are very few that have made the contract to enter the Dream."

Alucard started at this. "...Are you telling me that I'm the only one? I thought this was a base for all hunters; not just myself."

"You didn't know?" the Plain Doll inquired, voice lilted in some surprise. Pensively, a jointed hand was held to her breast, clutching at the broach that held her mantle in place. Then, it lowered once more. "Most hunters undergo a blood contract in order to pay for blood ministration that cures their affliction. Since many cannot afford the payment, they sign a blood contract and become hunters that serve Yharnam to gradually annul their debts. But very few receive the Paleblood to come here. ...I don't quite understand it all, good hunter. Perhaps you should ask Gehrman when he awakes."

"I'll think about it," Alucard replied neutrally, trying to recall the taste of this...Paleblood. He sighed torridly, too exhausted from the day to contemplate something as complex as this. "The blood minister who administered it to me disappeared before it was through. He was dressed far more richly than the one who confronted me. That might have something to do with it."

The Plain Doll only responded with an absent nod, Alucard smirking to himself. He really wasn't going to get very far with a Doll who knew little and was told even less, was he? Miring his claret gaze in the frothy motes of steam, blurring his lenses, he propped his feet on a footstool nearby. Gesturing lazily for her to sit down on a small stool, like a child in rapt attention of hearing stories from their parent, he thought of where to begin.

"The outside world, is it? Perhaps I should begin with the most magical place in all the world, hm? Transylvania, the Land Beyond the Forest..."

Chapter Text

Warning(s]: Explicit gore, action, gratuitous mentions of blood & violence

"Mr. Alucard. You alrigh'?"

Blood, and chaos. It had been yet another week, and it seemed to be much of the same for them. But as the days wore on in their haze, when Alucard took the ample opportunity to look around him, the numbers that were joining him seemed to increase and he was becoming less and less of a solitary hunter. And it was hardly even by choice. The streets of Yharnam were deadly to traverse alone, and kindness was often remembered, whether from foreigners of those local-meaning, many might take it as goodwill to facilitate fraternity. Of course, this did little to alleviate the coldness oft directed at the hunters, especially foreign ones. As far as many were concerned, all they had was their own. Perhaps their families, if a hunter survived long enough, but even this was rare.

Alucard pulled himself from his thoughts, breathing steadying as Casull and Joshua were holstered, the corpse of a lycan and nearby carnage of turned men plagued by the Scourge and long last of their sanity amassed nearby. They were lucky, as it was too cold for flies and other insects to swarm with other diseases, and all knew that Yharnam couldn't afford to be crippled by other maladies. Samel was nearby, his sister carrying the rear, they having cleared this block in Central Yharnam. A high sun swathed in thick plumes of gray clouds seemed afire, sky swallowed in an inferno, the early morning having dragged unnoticed into the twilight. Alucard narrowed his eyes, sunglasses harshly glancing the sunlight. Even in its direct rays, it did little to warm the autumn chill from his person, but the exertion of their work was doing a fine job of doing so.

"Samel—where's Chera? I thought I saw her just behind you."

The youth scratched the back of his hunter hat sheepishly, Alucard noticing the faint rise of a smile beneath the cloth bound about his face. Adrenaline still in clear blue, their gazes met for a long moment. "Aye, she was! But Henryk used a Beckoning Bell, and I wager they're goin' down to the Cathedral Ward. Real nasty pieces of work were spotted there, and I think they wanted to rid of 'em before sun up."

Alucard made an oblique noise in his throat, clapping out morsels of gore from his wide-brimmed fedora before replacing it again upon his head. He could still perceive the scent of a large Beast nearby, one that registered as almost as large as the one he'd rescued Gascoigne from. It was almost hard to believe that it'd been two weeks since his arrival in Yharnam. Having come in late September, the October was already being ushered in as especially chilly and promised a fierce winter ahead if not season. "We need to clear the way towards the bridge near the Cathedral Ward." Alucard threw the boy a challenging smile, grinning wolfishly. "That is, if you don't die and aren't sent to the Dream again. Why, I'm almost tempted to make this a bet.~"

Samel's face lit up hopefully, looking for all the world like an eager pup. "Really? Ya mean it?! Chera an' Mr. Henryk should be alright, so—alrigh', I'm down fer it, Mr. Alucard, sir!"

He gave them another moment to recoup, before Samel didn't need another word of encouragement before he bolted away, and before long, he was out of sight. Alucard smirked and chuckled to himself, all before he made to languidly stride forth—something cut in front of his vision before he gathered the momentum to. It was not before him, but far afield that tempered sight could easily see, he saw a familiar cloud of sable plumage dart past and into an alley, towards where his mark lay. A familiar sight, this time a fuller figure more apparent, their plague doctor motif readily seen. Even though Samel has likely throwing himself into the challenge, in the breadth of second, it was all but forgot. Like some distant aspiration, he followed in hot pursuit.

Whoever they were, their blades were deft; Alucard had made no mistake of what he'd seen that night over a week ago. The beasts and scourged men that commonly deterred swift passage through the streets and sloping alleys littered profusely upon the cobbled roads. Though the Nosferatu was impressed, there was no time to admire the handiwork of this new hunter. Upon an austere and grandly hewn archway, wrought-iron gates had been wrenched open, and freshly so. But most curiously, a vale of thick fog interred him.

Standing before it thoughtfully, like parting a curtain did he pass through, somewhat taken aback by the sight before him—had a soaring body not made savage collision with him. It connected and he absorbed the full brunt, surprised to find his view congested with feathers and a discernibly warm, human person upon him. They had been smote to the ground, the figure atop him while Alucard had reflexively caught them, but...upon closer inspection, something unexpected greeted him.

"You're a woman."

In the reeling seconds after the recoil, the woman atop him shoved herself from him, noticeably bristling from such a ribald observation. "You really think tha' matters in somethin' like this, damned fool?!" she retorted venomously, then swearing an oath. Alucard was almost tempted to tease, but the elephant in the room decided upon cutting them quite short.

A bipedal lycanthorpe, lumbering on all fours, bluntly smashed the black carriage they'd coincidentally found fortunate refuge behind, a piercing, banshee's shriek rending the air as it was clobbered to smithereens. Both the huntress and he were thankfully swift, having scattered from the blow before it could've been fatal to them both. The beast itself was enormous, known as a Cleric Beast yet unknown still to him, its disproportionate appendages and upper body swathed in white plumage, hide a shining, oily black. "Ugly looking thing, isn't it?" he quipped after a moment, all before it shrieked again and threw an upper hook at him, glancing him but enough to send him careening into the stonework.

The woman, who for all the world resembled a Crow, took that as an opportunity of distraction. Feinting quickly, she threw a small tankard of oil upon it and just as quickly, a Molotov cocktail followed suit. The Cleric Beast roared in agony as it was set aflame, before withering weakly in a sign of submission involuntary. Then, it was Alucard's moment to act. Adroitly in the wake of the huntress' move, he sent a razor hand into the beast's very face and smashed through skull, dealing as much damage as he could before pulling out and away.

This only served to enrage it, the Cleric Beast reeling and caterwauling as it propelled itself into the sky, he and his new makeshift ally darting away, meaning to confuse and evade their opponent. Yet, the Crow Maiden was the one struck. "Look out, woman!" he shouted before she could process what was happening, barely avoiding, but hammered into the pavement. Her body slumped in the wake of the attack, the Cleric Beast triumphantly screeching its victory as enormous digits clasped gracelessly upon her form and hoisted her into the air as though she were a trophy to be availed.

But Alucard would have none of it. Tumultuous dark matter erupted from every lee that cast a shadow and coiled cruelly about the Cleric Beast, taking several long moments to wrestle into into the earth. Alucard's expression deadpanned as he neared the hand that held her in its vice, considering it almost dully as his great and tremendous strength would speak volumes. One by one, like spider's limbs did Alucard snap the joints audibly, the Cleric Beast yowling in pain and thrashing mightily, only to have the shadow matter coil tighter like the reflexive action of a serpent suffocating its prey. Until, all were broken free and there was no grip any longer.

The Crow Maiden's form was prone in his arms, but a soft groan meant she still had a degree of consciousness. Satisfied enough with that, he lifted her chivalrously into his arms and let her rest against the parapet of the elegantly hewn bridge, a safe way's away from the Cleric Beast screaming bloody murder. Striding towards it once more, he grinned savagely, consumed in a menacing silhouette before retrieving Casull and Joshua from their holsters and honing them point blank at the center of its skull, in spite of its ragged flailing and wails of protest and pain.

Two shots thundered mightily that night, just as the night was tipping vicariously into the late evening as the skies began to darken. In a shockwave of smog and foul wind, the corpse of the Cleric Beast burst into dust and ashes, Alucard's shadow matter winding back into airy tendrils before dissipating completely into thin air. And in the dissonance that followed, it took several long moments before relative peace reigned anew.

"...You had no reason to interfere. I had—ah!—everything, hah...under control." Her panting grew harsher as he neared, the huntress' hand favoring her right side that clutched at it, attempting to null the pain that must have been terrible. Alucard gazed impassively upon her, seeming unimpressed.

"You're human. You were outmatched, but for me, that was almost nothing. For me not to help a lady would be terribly rude of me," he purred smugly in response, feeling a cutting glare from the black of her beaked mask. A bit of teasing, if you will, all splayed by the pearly white fangs that availed menacingly. Sobering somewhat, he genuflected by her, arm propped upon his knee. "At the very least, you could give me a name. I'm Alucard." He smiled crookedly and wryly. "There, we're on grounds of introduction."

The huntress grew ruefully silent, Alucard beginning to dimly wonder if her name was some great secret. "Eileen...the Crow. Yer not gettin' a thing more from me, y'hear?" Still, Alucard smiled smugly at the name, finding himself quite liking it. She stifled a moan, hearing exhalation whistle painfully through clenched teeth, even if he couldn't see it.

"Well, Eileen, you're not exactly in a position to be arguing against those that help you, isn't that so? Waylaid here, free pickings for opportunistic beasts or scum hunters, with only a monster worse than any beast here to help. I can't exactly see other favorable options." All this, said with a wily grin.

Eileen snorted, then using her free hand to fish into small pouches tethered by a belt to her waist, arching her back for easier access. While she did, Alucard fell silent as his eyes traced the contours of her body, feminine curves and the rise of breasts that hadn't been prevalent before. "Sod off, you bloody codger. I've got blood vials plenty an' I don't need some idiot of a man runnin' his mouth, so get off with ya." This started him from his guilty rapture, Alucard standing in a flourish as he smiled mirthfully at her.

"As you wish, my lady," he murmured, granting a last courtly bow before he did just that.

Of course, it would be a shame he wouldn't be able to forget the Crow after this.

"Hunter o' hunters is what they're called, they are."

It had taken considerable coaxing to get Chera to speak to him, let alone Samel. As he'd heard, the young man still carried a heavy grudge against Alucard for abandoning their challenge, one the vampire had openly reviled as being childish in the first place—Samel's grudge, that was. Why the boy was taking it so hard, he couldn't say. All Alucard knew was that is a folly to be when he'd tantamount reason to have flung it aside. He'd saved this purported Hunter of hunters—this Eileen the Crow, as she'd called herself.

"And they tend towards not hunting beasts? Sounds like they become lazy rather quickly," Alucard sniffed disdainfully, scoffing. Idly, in the tavern of the hunter's lodge, he and Chera were discussing this Eileen over tea for her and a brew heavily diluted with blood for him. More warm blood, really. A candle spilling wax into a messy lump about it flickered, Chera lost amid it while she clutched at her tea, warming her hands after a cold night on the Hunt.

"He'd cuff ya if he'd hear that from ya," Chera mumbled to herself, eyes seeming lost and sad whilst she sipped numbly from her tea. Alucard leaned back, straightening as he raised himself to survey her rather uncomfortably in its intensity.

"Your quiet suggests that I am somehow responsible for your brother's discontent and unhappiness. Am I wrong? I don't remember coming here to babysit a brat," he sneered loftily, huffing a snort before downing a quick dreg. The remark stung Chera, the girl visibly flinching.

Rising swiftly from her seat, she slammed her palms on the table, upsetting her tea and almost knocking it over. Alucard merely fixed her with a dour expression. "After we lost Da not long ago, you know—ma's gone, too! Died first, few years back! I know ya ain't here to make friends, but maybe, sometimes it so happens that folk might see ya as family?!" Her expression was fierce, but eyes so watery it looked like tears could overflow at any time.

"...You're saying he sees me as some sort of father figure?" Alucard inquired lowly, his disdain flattened in all but an instant as something old and unwanted stewed sickly in his breast, averting her gaze. His own face wasn't exactly deadpanned, but it didn't show any great reserve of emotion. If anything, it looked faintly...guilty. But to a distraught girl, he looked closed and untenable. With a worrying lower lip, she nodded stiffly, sinking with defeat back into her seat. He sighed, slowly beginning to rise from his bench. "It's foolish to get attached to strangers—let alone monsters of all things. You've seen it all around you and what it brings. Hmph...go to sleep, girl."

Without a look back, he lingered in the threshold before disappearing into the lower levels of the lodge, where his dwelling was. Even if the day was ahead, and Alucard was admittedly exhausted, his mind weighed with things he'd much rather not think about.

Not when there were far greater things to worry of.

A few days short of a week had passed since then. All in silence, as Chera, Samel, Henryk, Gascoigne—all he'd become oddly associated with were those he was becoming wary of. Perhaps it wasn't without reason. They were growing too comfortable with his presence, too domesticated. To Alucard, the surest sign had been what Chera had told him of how her brother and perhaps herself were looking for a paternal figure in him. The vampire shuddered in revulsion at the thought, before darkening. His time as a father had died centuries ago, a foray he never wanted to embark in again. In the cold of the twilight, the fiery sun still singed hotly in its aerial inferno, this sky so unnatural seemed to almost...understand. At least, he could feel something of sanctity alone in it.

Perched atop a roof, feet dangling over a Gothic precipice and propped on the rungs of a ladder, he was able to brood in thoughtful silence while cold winds buffeted him as though he were a gargoyle planted in stone atop these eaves. But as it would be, this wouldn't be allowed to last. Girlish giggling and squealing emanated from the sanctuary of the Clinic's fortified courtyard, Alucard distantly lifting his head and watching as he saw two small heads crowned by blonde being chased about by the Father, the Frenchman grinning wolfishly as they shrieked delightedly, capturing them in his embrace while they laughed and cried out in mock protest.

Before long, Viola called them back inside, Gascoigne lingering fondly as he watched his daughters flee into their mother's embrace, then disappearing for the night before the hunt. But Alucard's observance didn't go unnoticed, the priest smiling subtly as he sighted the vampire, but it seemed dampened somehow. He gestured for Alucard to descend, the vampire gazing long and hard and somewhat mistrustfully before he alighted in a single bound, as though to serve as a reminder. But in this city of monsters and pagan worship, Gascoigne wasn't even phased by it.

The man was starkly taller once he'd descended to earth, Alucard noting with annoyance. But he said nothing, waiting instead for the man to speak.

"I think they miss you. Especially the lad. As much as you don't want to face it, or they won't say it. Either way, don't you think the silence has gone on long enough?" Gascoigne asked lowly, though his voice was still kind. Alucard grimaced, clucking his tongue as that particular knife was wheedled deeper.

"Respectfully, Father, it's in everyone's best interests if I don't make such frivolous attachments. The fact you think we're friends is enough. Is everyone in this city so delusional?" he rebutted harshly back, folding his arms across his narrow chest. What remained of Gascoigne's friendliness evaporated, mien becoming distant...but mostly disappointed. The Frenchman's head lowered, and shook. Smiling emptily, the priest chortled bitterly. This elicited a quirked brow in Alucard but no less scorn.

"What sort of sad life have you lived that you believe you have to exist friendless and alone? The lad wasn't trying to eat your heart, you fool. Nor is the girl. I saw you lookin' at me an' my girls. Hmph, no more, then. You live miserably. Even Eileen isn't as wretched."

Alucard perked at the mention of her name, eyes sliding to the priest as if he'd summoned her here personally. This didn't escape Gascoigne's notice, a corner of lip twitching in a faint smirk before it fell again. "I can't imagine she lives happily, either. Feh, I've heard what they do—these so-called Hunters of Hunters. Befriending those you eventually slaughter is a sure recipe for disaster, I'm sure. What makes you think she isn't as wretched?"

The priest's shoulders sagged, but he laughed ironically, a forced sound. Perhaps he couldn't blame Alucard; not yet. In a sense, he was both wise and foolish, especially in a city like Yharnam. Almost as if Alucard's outlook was more suitable, in spite of the glaringly obvious breaches that bled so honestly and unfettered it could be considered pathetic. "She's the gramma of my girls, Alucard. Just as Henryk is grandpa. Eileen may as close as she once was, but she isn't as detached. Perhaps you could learn something from her."

Alucard nodded absently, unfolding his arms and briskly walking away towards one of the gates that he prepped to open to begin the night's hunt. Scoffing, he murmured to himself, "A likely story. Change the mind of the monster? How utterly and miserably idiotic."

Even if his chest tightened painfully at what was felt.

Chapter Text

Warning(s]: Gore mentions, some physical abuse

The hunt had been intended to be commenced and sustained alone; as he normally would, as it should be. But the night dragged on and in its usual thick of a lightless sky save for the overbearing and perpetual moon, it wasn't alone. Even though Chera and Samel, his usual shadows, had been alienated from him, it was the compassionate Father and the distant yet mistrustful accompaniment of Henryk who wasn't exactly eager to fight in close camaraderie with the vampire who'd hypnotized him not too long ago. Even if he had saved his hunting partner in the process.

"Father!" Alucard called out the priest's name as though it were practiced, as though they were partners themselves. Gascoigne turned towards it, the swiping paw of a large lycanthorpe lunging for his blindfolded face that he saw in a split second filling that view. Raising the shaft of his axe to parry it, claws clanged upon it before the large man pushed it roughly back. Henryk's saw cleaver met with the base of its neck and sawed through to sever it by the spine, blood spurting intensely as the lycan yowled in feral pain and in a counteract did it rake the man's side. His mustard-shade trenchcoat become soaked with human blood, Henryk staggered for a moment.

While the Frenchman dashed to his partner's side to offer him blood vials, Alucard honed Casull where Henryk had struck so fatally and delivered a final blow. This sundered it with finality, the vampire surveying the quieting vicinity in their wake. And how bleak it was. Tonight was cooled by the moonlight, city aglow in jagged blues, edifices seeming especially silhouetted by a sky still meekly alighted. In his days as Count, this might have been a beautiful night. But where the moon became as bright as day, it felt hollow.

For the smallest hamlet in the Carpathians felt more imbibed with life than this entire city. Maybe that was because life was different in the world outside.

Alucard was pulled from his thoughtful rapture, rare considering the volumes of Beasts, from a comically exaggerated yelp of pain from Henryk. It wasn't hard to tell, given his habit of wearing that stupidly high brown collar, but he watched on all the same with an enigmatic and unreadable expression. Gascoigne seemed to take notice and grinned at the vampire, beckoning him closer. "Oh, you're not dead yet, Henryk. But maybe our new friend might be able to tell, eh?" This received a fierce glower from the old hunter, Henryk standing straight and howling some weird shriek.

Brows furrowed together, Alucard damnably and involuntarily smiled back. "And what seems to be the problem here?" he asked with an amused stare at the men, Gascoigne shoving aside his partner playfully.

"We had a bet between the old fart of a Father an' me who'd finish off the last Beast in the area. Didn't think ya'd be the one to do it!" Henryk responded loudly, staggering before he collected himself in a brief scramble of steps. "Between he and I. But, looks like you won it, lad." This earned a bemused but no less amused look from the vampire, he taking it as a recalcitrant invitation to dare a closer proximity.

"And? What was the gamble?" he asked with a skeptical tone of voice, incredulous that they'd consider him at all.

"These." Gascoigne was the one to speak, voice softened as two small silver bells suspended on silver chains dangled from his large grasp. Alucard silently marveled at them, superior vision following the intricate designs upon them belied by distance. The Father seemed oddly content to see Alucard piqued by them, the vampire nearing closer until until only a meter distanced them. "I'll admit, I didn't really mean for it to be a serious bet, you see, but these bells are truly special. I thought, maybe give it to Henryk here and maybe he might use it for he and some lady love. I have one, myself," Gascoigne indicated to the one around his neck, "but there's a tradition behind them. They're made for lovers, you see. It's an old Yharnam tradition that two hunters or one who is a hunter wear one, and the object of their affections, the other. Keep one or both safe, the energy of their love protecting them. The Church Hunters add in that its the Old Gods, but that ain't always true. But the story remains the same. Each pair is different, but between the lovers, they're the same. Like two hearts joined together even if they're apart. Viola has the other one that matches my own, though they're a little tarnished since we've been married for so long now," he explained softly but proudly, smiling sheepishly. Henryk nodded and his own eyes seemed to quiet.

Alucard stared at them for a long while, Gascoigne proffering them whilst the vampire made a quick study of their contrast to the priest's worn one. Something in his heart stirred oddly, but he took both bells without second thought, distantly wondering how they might look against a breast cloaked in black—

"Can they be used in courtship?" Gascoigne chortled huskily to himself, nodding. "Mm, I see. I can't imagine that I'll be using them anytime soon if ever. Pretty to look at all the same," Alucard backpedaled, slightly annoyed by the man's clear smugness. Something about a lonely life that was suddenly pitiable? Hardly lonely; simply unused to and not ready for company of any kind that fell outside of absolute necessity.

But Alucard's own question haunted him. While Gascoigne and Henryk were engaged in small talk, something strayed. Clearly, he was gaining a small group of people to consider affinities of him. Yet, it was the Crow maiden that was coming to the forefront of his mind, and not simply as a passing thought. Did she really make that much of an impression so soon? Her being a woman suddenly didn't make her appealing to him, not all. Not when his interests in such matters were almost nonexistent if described fairly.

This city isn't the place for this, he countered darkly in his own thoughts even as the bells glinted in such newness and promise. Unblemished, compared to this city. Unlike the mission that would bring great despair if its true motive was made known. Convincing himself to push that matter aside, he pocketed them safely in his lapel pocket. While he wouldn't exactly eager to discard them, that didn't mean he needed to use them at all or ever. A grim souvenir was what they'd likely ever end up being.

He hadn't forgotten it. Even with this odd and dysfunctional bevy of people he'd come to be associated with, that wouldn't change. Alucard was a king coming into the kingdom he'd inherit once his mission was fulfilled. That was what he wanted...wasn't it?

Through even the garb he wore, the slight chill felt by sensitive skin of autumn-cooled metal pressed with countering insistence. As though divines and forces refuted it.

Night had finally passed. Through the stories of the Hunter's lodge, into the basement he could hear activity that kept him awake. Kept him feeling guilty. That annoyance, that pressing sentiment that resonated throughout his chest. That very thing that couldn't be sustained for much longer. Alucard found himself staring into the empty confinement of his coffin lid, the lacquered blackness and white, plush satin encompassing him. Breathing in the scents of the earlier extermination and all the pollution of the city that was becoming too well-acquainted to his skin. The blood that perpetually dyed him was different this time, bestial, inhuman. Alucard shuddered in revulsion for reasons he couldn't say. But whatever they were, he wasn't certain if it was responsible for his sleeplessness.

Impatience got the better of him and he lifted and shoved the lid noisily aside, on his feet in an instant as he strode purposefully forward and ascended into the human activity above. Light spilled through the darkness and swallowed him, coming into the first floor corridor where many dorms were, the chestnut halls warmly lit with ensconced lamps, Alucard blinking in admitted surprise at who he narrowly ran into.

Samel Way stared blankly at him for a second too long before his gaze bowed away and he set to skirt around the immortal, waves of a bristling cold emanating from him that was clearly palpable. The thorniness that hadn't been strange to Alucard who put forth them in his own fronts far too often. "Samel, wait—" Alucard stopped him, in the form of a hand on the boy's soldier, all before Samel reeled with a cornered and angry look and wrenched his shoulder brusquely away.

"Don't touch me," Samel's breath shuddered angrily, shaking as he trembled with anger. Mustering it especially in the face of a monster.

However, Alucard retorted with a snarl and seized Samel by his collar and slammed him into a wall, the male's eyes bulging fearfully as his body thumped loudly against the wood. He ground the hunter's body back forcefully, nearly fully suspended from the vampire's prodigious strength. Looming in that savage silhouette Samel remembered from their first meeting, his face blanched considerably. But, their confrontation hadn't gone unchecked or unnoticed. Several doors opened, eyes blinking owlishly before they widened at what was transpiring.

"YOU NEED TO CEASE THIS IDIOCY AND TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!" Alucard roared fiercely, Samel's body clapping against the wall again from the enunciated force of it. Eyes ranging fearfully, they matched unfortunately with Chera's, the girl's bubbling with tears as she shrieked and tried to stop him before Viola caught the girl on time, cradling her close whilst she watched the proceeding with equal amounts of fear and guilt from her non-involvement. But as a mother with a family, she couldn't afford to lose her life.

Alucard became dimly aware of the audience that had gathered, resentfully lowering Samel but not allowing him leave. Samel swallowed again, a religious terror taking to him before he stuttered out his answer: "I-I had my reasons! Mr. Alucard, sir...m' father died that way. Acceptin' a challenge like that, disappearing, then...dyin'. That's how he died, that's why...I got so angry. 'm sorry, really, I am." Samel burbled this out, and though it felt too short to suffice for a story, given the circumstances it had to do.

The Nosferatu weathered a long and exhaustive sigh, that enough to help quell dispel most of those present. All save for Viola and Chera, both women gradually relaxing but still highly guarded. Chera, however, burst from Viola's embrace and tore towards Samel and seized him away from anywhere too close to the vampire, flashing him fearful looks. Alucard looked on distantly, the revelation having hit home. So, it really was inevitable at this point, wasn't it? What he was to them both. Lifting his gaze wearily, he didn't move from where he was in the middle of the hall. But something needed to be said to dispel the pregnant silence.

"...And you couldn't have told me this before? How utterly moronic. A damned grown man holding grudges with the tenacity of a child. Almost pathetic," he said finally, loftily, folding his arms across his chest and leaning against a wall as the chestnut paneling suddenly became a fascinating study. "What do you expect from me? You knew why I left, Samel Way. Eileen the Crow needed saving, and I did. I don't owe you an apology to speak of, but I hope you might take better action in the future. I don't have time for adults who insist on acting like children, after all."

It wasn't the kindest thing to hear, this chastisement of him. But it brightened Samel's countenance if only a little, this a familiar thing once between both hunters. A return to some modicum of familiarity. The younger hunter looked hopefully but subdued at the vampire, Alucard quirking a laconic smirk. "Now, if you're ready to be one, you may as well prepare for tonight's hunt. None of this foolish drama if it can be helped." It was enough of an apology for all it mattered.

"Oh, Mr. Alucard, jus' thought I'd also say, but a letter arrived. It's from the professor," Samel replied with a changed subject. A codename? Hardly, but anyone could be a professor. Obvious yet enigmatic enough of a moniker.

"Well, hand it over," Alucard urged, holding out an open and expectant hand. A lightly crinkled letter was set on it, and Alucard closed it in a careless fist as he opened it and the contents to read. Eyes skimmed the lines, then re-read through them. When he was finally finished, he lifted his head and seemed disturbed from the previous atmosphere.

Things were finally going to be put into motion. His master was growing weary of waiting and knew that remaining on the surface would spell out nothing but stagnancy. They needed a leg up into the higher echelons were anything to be completed at all. For this first leg of it, it meant the Healing Church. Van Helsing had stated Vicar Amelia by name whom Alucard learned was its present Vicar by word of mouth. The highest position in the Choir, or one of them—whichever one, she was a powerful woman all the same, and he was an abomination, infamous or not. Yharnam thought he was merely an enigmatic and garishly dressed foreign gunman, not the horror of a vampire he would really be. Except to a select few, that was.

"I'm afraid I won't be joining you for tonight's hunt," Alucard stated simply, gaining a crestfallen look from Samel and one similarly mirrored in Chera. Viola had left to work as barkeep as she usually tended to, the vampire just remembering the gleam of the bell he hadn't noticed before situated at her collar. Again, only a distant observance of no importance, nothing more. "I have business to attend to in the Cathedral Ward, and it's of the utmost importance." Alucard's lips thinned pensively, wondering: would the church of a pagan god still be enough, in its veneration, to dissuade him from entering? Even if Van Helsing had bastardized his physiology in years of experimenting, all the same.

"We'll see you tomorrow then, right, sir?" Chera broached, Alucard regarding her aloofly before nodding. Though his reply unsettled her, she had right to be. Chewing on her lower lip, she silently waited for his reply.

"I can't make any promises," he replied honestly, modulation lowered as he considered the day ahead. Alucard had a foreboding feeling he couldn't place a name to, even if his vague idea of it might be enough somehow.

Soon enough, they both turned to leave, the future now truly set in motion.

Twilight passed into an early night, still so young, stars oddly shining where they were normally consumed. It didn't feel like the night before, for it was quiet. Even as Alucard trekked through the city, his way there was relatively unobstructed, Beasts in terrifically low frequency and leaving for a journey that was almost too easy. Several Church hunters garbed in white and black prowled the vicinity, all stairs and soaring heights of cathedrals that sailed Gothic into the very sky. However, something was completely off. Alucard's gaze was transfixed on what appeared to be an enormous Amygdala perched like a spider on the flank of the cathedral, but no one seemed to take notice of it, and if anything Alucard was the one receiving odd looks before the white hunters continued elsewhere on their patrol. The being seemed ignorant to his presence, or simply uncaring. Was this the god they worshiped, or one them? Nothing about them felt ethereal or divine, but unearthly was a certainty. Unease weighed him now, but it seemed a definite confirmation that he needn't yet worry about divine providence keeping him from his goal.

"You can see somethin', can't you?"

He almost forgot the amygdala was there at all. Alucard perked to sound of her voice, an undeniably jubilant grin bursting to his features as he eagerly followed from where it came, seeing a wan lantern nearby burning incense that highlighted the contours of her mask more readily than times previous. Alucard's expression schooled itself to one slightly more neutral when he came close enough, Eileen's arms remaining folded even as he did, but regarding him all the same. Where the last was primed with acerbity and some degree of unpleasantness, he wasn't sensing that now. Maybe Eileen wasn't as prickly a woman as he'd initially thought.

"Beautiful night, isn't it? Perhaps I was admiring the moon...among other things." His voice lingered on her whilst his gaze did, Eileen chortling to herself and he felt a rush of elation from that alone. It was a lovely sound, he had to admit, and he wouldn't mind hearing it again in the least. "You get the picture, I'm sure. However it is painted, do you know what it is or am I simply going mad?" The latter was hardly impossible if not already a reality, frankly.

Eileen straightened and looked out across the Ward, the terraced vicinity having elevated their vantage point considerably. A Crow, perched and sentinel upon a high point where she could swoop down and strike prey at any point she desired. Though a romantic thought, it didn't seem that farfetched. She looked thoughtful, but not without words to say. "I can't really say wha' it is people see. Some people can't, others can. As for me, well...whatever it is ya see is somethin' I can't. All I can tell you." Her head—beak—angled towards him, Alucard now the one to look out unto the city as she did.

"Then it's of no consequence, then," Alucard finished, but not with their conversation, certainly not. "Might I ask how you've been since that night, Eileen? It's been a week at least. I pray you've recovered since then."

Eileen hummed thoughtfully, Alucard's eyes flashing with a boyish hope that was thankfully absent from his features, but that hardly escaped the notice of the woman. Being old didn't mean she was blind...yet, at least. "I'm up and walkin', aren't I?" This she said with a sport of dry humor, hearing the laugh in her voice before she sobered. "I might thank you, though. Wouldn' have walked away otherwise, I don't think."

He couldn't stop thinking of the bells. She canted her head as his gaze lowered to stare thoughtlessly, the sure sign of a preoccupied mind. Then, Alucard grinned at her teasingly. "Is it often that you get into situations like that?" he asked, earning an anticlimactic snort from the woman. He imagined she'd rolled her eyes as well. Slimming that grin into a mild smirk, he pressed on. "No Beckoning Bell, no partner to work with?" Her droll and unamused silence surely meant she was waiting for him to get to the point.

Ah, the moment of truth. Pensively, a concentrated look stealing to his features, a gloved hand began to fish into that lapel pocket where the bells still miraculously were. Availing one in the same way Gascoigne did, he let Eileen take the sight of the beautifully delicate object, tingling from a faint breeze that encouraged it to do so. The woman held a skeptical air, taken aback and confused, wasn't negative. More like...even he wasn't sure what she was experiencing. "I have hearing that is far, far superior to humans and maybe more so than beasts. The slightest sound from that and I could be by your side like in that last fight. But, it's far less...inclusive than a Beckoning Bell. Ring that little thing and you'd be quite fine with me by your side."

Eileen stared at it for a long moment, not incredulous, but more bemused and inclined towards amused disbelief. "That isn't jus' a little bell to ring, Alucard. Do you know what it is, bein' a foreigner, or do you know and are trying to trick me into ignorance?"

Alucard lifted his chin, leaning against the rail with the bell back in his hand, wanting to hear it from her. "Alright, enlighten me; pretend I wasn't told the tradition behind it. Do tell, draga."

Eileen can only utter a throaty chortle, dark and avian in quality. This was no blushing maid, no flushing woman who would sooner hide behind a fan. There was darkness present in it, almost seductive without intending, and it thrilled him. He smiled just as darkly in turn, leaning into her, a hand daring to caress along the side of her cheek, only ghosting and not impinging too greatly. "Lovers wear these bells. It's supposed t' protect them, keep them connected. No two pairs are alike, to keep them distinct. But we're not lovers to speak of—how unfortunate."

They both seemed to calm in a lieu of a pause that Alucard didn't fill immediately, leaning again upon the balustrades and seeming...serene. The way Eileen seemed to eternally be. "I find myself liking you, Eileen. It's too simple to remand it to something as obnoxiously obtuse as partners. I'd like to court you if I can. In fact, I mean to."

She hadn't expected this. Eileen grew honestly silent for a long moment, heart fluttering in her chest. Consciously, she drew herself back, as she couldn't remember the last time if ever a man had come to her with something so honestly ludicrous. Maybe as a much younger woman, but she wasn't young. Almost fifty years old, she wasn't the sort of woman seemingly a young man so openly desired. Even if many doubted his humanity, it didn't matter. Oh, how cold she could become, something thinking this was an elaborate ruse to what would culminate as some cruel tease. Eileen looked away like how he'd found her, a cold sentinel staring out into the inflamed night, shrugging her shoulders but steeling herself. For it wasn't worth getting her subconscious hopes up over, no matter how moronic it was.

"No competition, no one to stop think, with the hunter of hunters of all people. Hmph, it's enough that I'm old. You're playing a fool's game, Alucard. Well, I certainly hope you don't intend upon idiocy with me. For your sake, I'd pray you don't." Beneath her mask, she was cold to it and a threat laced her words, but that didn't stop her heart from beating as strongly as it did—that Alucard certainly noticed.

He neared her, quietly took a hand that she watched intently as he extricated it from her fold. Skin beneath flushed at how close they were, Eileen still mentally reeling at something like this, but she kept her walls high all the same. With all the grace of a gentleman, he planted a sincere kiss upon her knuckles, then withdrawing and releasing it. ...She swore she almost forgot to breathe.

"I don't intend to treat this like a game, Eileen. In fact, I mean not to. Not unless you want me to. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have business to attend to."

Eileen watched on his back retreated, stopping where she could see him as he removed the fedora and purposefully put on the bell and adjusted it into place before proceeding on again. At the balustrades, its mate was simply resting there, waiting for her. She stared at for a long moment, picking it up and holding it in an open cusp and letting herself process what had just happened, wondering if it had been real at all. Her shoulders sagged and she sighed tiredly, smiling mirthlessly beneath her mask. Even if this encounter made her feel a warmth for what felt like the very first time, she was too intelligent and wise to let it get to her.

"I'm getting far too old for this..." she murmured desolately, eyes still transfixed on such a small and innocuously inconsequential thing, wondering if she shouldn't leave and let a night of the Hunt better preoccupy her mind instead.

Chapter Text

Warning(s]: Extreme gore, graphic body horror, graphic violence

She prayed as though it were the only thing that would save her, as though the Great Ones she envisaged since her youth would descend and finally raise her from the perdition that Yharnam had long since fallen into. Vicar Amelia's blood was boiling, breaths ragged and wheezed as she hoarsely uttered the verses inscribed in her skull. The gold pendant she clutched at fervidly felt hot, and boiling. Like the metal was cauterizing her flesh, even though it was the only thing keeping her sane and grounded. With what little there was. The woman lifted bandaged eyes blind to the world to the alter where the warmth of candles soothed away the brisk, chilled air of the outside. "How much strength do I have left?" her voice trembled, uttering this weakly and folding into herself in her prostration. "How much time?"

"I don't know if I can answer that for you," came an interrupting voice, Amelia's countenance visibly startled as it flared defensively at being caught unawares, at the stranger she couldn't see. How hadn't she sensed them coming? Even if not for their silence, her beastly senses should've been able to perceive the coming of a human, unless—mayhaps this was a hunter in the throes of the Scourge just the same as she was. Whether that could be considered a comfort, she couldn't say. The Cathedral Ward was supposed to be buffered against intrusions such as these. "Vicar Amelia, I take it?"

"I don't know who you are, but you know of me. How unusual, sir," Amelia stipulated, rising from her prayer. Standing, she was still quite short compared to him, something that earned a cant of head from the vampire. But her mien wasn't hostile; not yet, at least. Hands clasped before her, the Vicar's brows furrowed pensively. "Who are you, and why are you here?"

She wasn't as defensive as he thought she'd be. This lowered his guard in spite of the pervasive stench of a beast, akin to the Cleric Beast he'd encountered with Eileen just weeks before. The same strain, the same sort of holiness. "I am Alucard," he began, lips quirking wryly. "Perhaps you've heard of me? I've been told that I caused quite a commotion."

The Vicar nodded slowly and admittedly smiled, but stifled it beneath polite airs expected of one of her station. "Yes, I heard of that, but it was quite some time ago. You still haven't answered my other question, Alucard," she said firmly, airs insistent and expectant. It would seem prudent to drop his humor, for the time being.

"The Crown has been displeased with Yharnam of late, Vicar. With the Plague spreading as it has, they've sent me in proxy of my...employer, Professor Van Helsing, to investigate. The fate of Yharnam needs to be determined before its reach becomes catastrophic. I highly doubt this Scourge will remain only within Yharnam." This caused Amelia to visibly stiffen, clutching at her pendant until her knuckles blanched, brows twitching and mouth pursed stiffly. Yet another needling that no Yharnmite would be willing to entertain.

"We fend and care for our own, sir. This Scourge, this Plague of Beasts, has not spread to the outside world and we have taken care of it as we always have. The Hunt is on. Perhaps instead of trespassing, you should resume your duties and contribute your efforts where they are needed. Good evening!" This was said forcefully, proudly, the woman stalwart and unwilling to budge. This only caused Alucard's gaze to darken menacingly, something she perceived even if she couldn't see. He bore his fangs, that draconian maw deadly and a truer threat than what words can promise.

"Your refusal of of responsibility is commendable, but not for the right reasons, Vicar," he growled lowly, bristling at her resistance. It was darkly uttered, but Amelia was not afraid. Even if this man seemed anything but human, there was no reason for her to quail before a brute who threw a temper tantrum like a child when he did not get his way. The woman straightened, the authority bequeathed to her simmering and truly making it apparent why she held the position that she did.

"Return to the hunt, and do not disturb this place again," the Vicar repeated sternly, holding herself firmly even in the face of his adversity. Even as contention broiled off the vampire in waves, she still held herself highly. Amelia wouldn't submit, not to a brutish man such as this. Something put her off about him, that this was more than a blood-drunk hunter acting out on the last threads of sanity. An aura that was sinister, but in the old way ancient tombs with ghosts were. Not new and young curses like those which proved the streets.

"That's not good enough!" Alucard snapped brusquely, rushing towards her, looming menacingly and stopping short, breath stertorous and bestial. "I am here because of the mess your city got into! The disease you idiots contrived could easily be set to spread and you infidels would rather wait for your impotent gods to do something?!" His voice was frighteningly cacophonous within the cathedral, each word jarring and thunderous.

Something gripped her. A wild cry tore from her throat, the Vicar buckling to her knees and gripping her skull like a scream personified was tearing her through. Alucard ceased his tirade for a moment, aghast in a suspension of belief as he watched what was unfolding. Some numbed sense of kindness crept belatedly through him, the vampire hovering nearer, but not with the feral wrath exhibited from mere moments ago. Her bones crackled and snapped grotesquely, caterwauls pitching with a banshee's fain resonance that could curdle the blood of men and cause their despairs to strangle them, swallow them whole. The body distorted as if being dragged every which way between a nightmare and reality, contorted in ways no human could, enlarging until the confines of the woman chaotically exploded into the manner of the beast.

Like being birthed from a preternatural and horrific womb, a lupine beast staggering in height furled from its once-prison, bandages swathing thin and gangly extrusions, massive paws that clutched about the pendant in one hand whilst the massive, canine's skull blinded by swaths of cloth was crowned by antlers, a long hide of achromatic fur cascading like a willow's umbrage. Such a beautiful creature, Alucard had to admit, borne so swiftly from tragedy. Not from choice, but of disease and a civilization's fall from decadence believably blessed by the gods. A tragedy that he'd wanted to make his own, the vampire bitterly smiled at, the silver bell tingling softly.

It had been a long impasse between transformation and the Vicar's labored breathing, the bell chiming with a damning clarity. A mistake made to a beast with hypersensitive hearing, Amelia lashed her forearm in a swathing arc, catching Alucard unguarded and slamming his body into the stone. The collision was ruinous, ejecting plumes of dust and a vibrato between the attack and the recoil, the vampire having been momentarily shell-shocked before recovering. Not as a physical being, not even as a ghost—but a phantasm, a mere of black matter spilling to the ground and writhing unnaturally before it paused before the beast, the Vicar shrieking at the foul malignity that bled profusely from the morass and attempting to leap back in order to escape what fate it might contrive upon her.

Pales of solidified blackness speared through the flesh of the beast, her defense not swift enough. Amelia screeched as they struck home, inertia brutal enough that she was suspended in air whilst the force of them impaled through flesh and bone and protruded dark and blooded. Blood gushed from the force of impact, her limbs hung from shock before she began to writhe fiercely and web the elongated digits of her paws enough to extricate herself by a freak chance. Amelia collided harshly to the ground, rolling from her side to recover her feet and spring back. A stance of prayer was assumed, the medallion and she glowing purely as either power or vitals were recovered.

In that moment, Alucard manifested once more in a short pillar of darkness that shaped to his dimensions before it were as though he emerged from total darkness, still intact. But, he could see it in the beast's very air. Fear. What could've begun as a mercy killing was exonerated as a brutal slaughter and her airs were as lonely as a beast in a slaughterhouse. Even if a bitter twist of remorse may have tinged his action, she was forced to fight, being the one backed into a corner. For the entrance was behind Alucard, the wan chance of hope severely diminished now. Not that he would let her escape—not when Eileen herself was so close, likely unable to combat a beast such as the Vicar on her own.

Amelia recklessly charged towards him, a loping gallop in pursuit of him before a brief maelstrom of bullets pocketed her flesh, entrance wounds ending to become embed in her flesh. Though she careened with abandon towards him, the bullets did little to deter her suicidal path. Clapping her paws together in a vice, she barely caught the vampire before clobbering him into the flagstone. Another crater smashed into the ground, sound terrific and almost deafening. But in the brief obfuscation of dust, Alucard managed to collect himself, expression fierce and a monstrous mask of comedy there seemed perpetually etched on to his visage unrelenting in the violence to come.

They faced off for what would likely be for a final time, the shadows swarming ruthlessly to encompass the beast, even the Vicar knowing it—maybe even being cognizant enough to realize her demise was near...and relieved for it. Alucard was only taken aback for the moment as he watched her limbs relax, head bowing in submission to the fate to be bequeathed. "You want death, don't you?" Alucard stated after a long moment of silence, unusual for a battle such as this. Disbelief downed the euphoria of battle, grin faltering and eyes dropping to his feet. Of course she wanted death; any creature who could remember their humanity before becoming monsters wanted death. He received a flick upwards of her head in acknowledgment before lowering it again, waiting.

Gritting his fangs harshly, the vampire exhaled loudly and angrily at her. Not at the choice of action, but almost of jealousy, of a compassion welling numbly in his breast. The shadow matter at his feet sprang to life animatedly once more, tendrils of shadow writhing tenebrously as they crowded around the beast, hapless—almost satisfyingly, he noted with a sharp chord of guilt. Baskerville's eyes opened, unblinking and honing upon their prey with mirthless keen. Although the Vicar whimpered softly, if he could speak her tongue, it might be a plea to get it over with. Almost obedient...and it churned something sickening in him.

Baskerville would be the one to captain the Vicar's death, maw spanning wide to accommodate her size even though the hellhound was massively larger. Within a shot, a shock of collision that connected between fangs and flesh was crushing. Amelia was suspended in those jaws, fangs clamping in an increasing vice whilst Alucard watched haplessly on. He could've sworn she lifted her head listlessly, once, before lowering. There was no flailing, no attempts at extrication: just a beast who had consigned herself to death.

A final, shrill caterwaul erupted with such an explosive cacophony that Alucard instantly knew, even through its long and deafening progression that it would haunt him forever. Baskerville's jaws, where the Vicar was helplessly suspended, clamped with merciless force and pressure. Blood burst wetly and heavily from the beast's mouth, pattering the ground profusely in vile splashes on the flagstone. Her bones shattered completely, ribcage crushed and entrails forced through her very mouth at the crushing force of it. The beast gurgled with organs forced through her maw, the hellhound's fangs relentlessly penetrated through.

All he could do was watch. Baskerville lowered the now corpse, dead, but something seemed faintly alive. A pulse—maybe his ears were deceiving him. Alucard couldn't tear his eyes away, the hellhound emerging further as it began to rend viscous tears of flesh from the corpse, nausea building in the vampire's throat as rapt and grotesque fascination kept him paralyzed where he stood. Alucard had never truly been this shaken in what felt like eons, the screams still tearing through his mind. The Vicar's body was gored through, blood staining her pristine coat and becoming rapidly hollowed of flesh, organs, even the fur coat. The skeletal structure peered through, the chest cavity utterly depleted save for a shadow cast. He couldn't look away as Baskerville devoured her carcass. The entrails spilled from her mouth still, the blood foul and rank even for him. A nightmarish hypnosis that seemed impossible to break.

"Let's get ya from 'ere," a gentle, matronly voice broke through. A hand on his shoulder, the vampire jolted briefly to see Eileen, wide eyes dimming and seeming so utterly drained. The woman seemed unfazed by the carnage, of his hellhound devouring what remained of a woman turned beast. Then again, it was impossible to tell through her mask, and his senses were too fogged to tell by other means. The sounds of Baskerville's consumption were horrific to hear and witness, even if Alucard was largely unaffected. It was more an unexpected emotional toll the battle and aftermath had taken.

The Hunter of Hunters shepherded him from the remains of battle, into the Cathedral's lee where the shadows were long and they wouldn't be found. With the Vicar's death, a commotion would ensue. But for now, it was silence. A dreadful, heavy silence that weighed hellishly on the pair. Executioners stationed outside were frenzied, but they were safe in their sanctuary—for now.

"Is that what it's like? Killing your own kind like this?" he intoned hoarsely, swallowing thickly. Eileen had since folded her arms as she usually did, a spell of silence to follow suit. They stood side by side, the huntress' head inclining as she seemed deep in thought, perhaps troubled by what it was she did.

"It's never easy. For you, it's the beasts, ain't it? T' see a human woman transform and to kill 'er, no less..." she trailed, shaking her head. It always was no task easily undertaken. To kill your own, even if they were only in a manner of speaking—like with Alucard—was something never done without remorse. At least, not completely. Maybe you could relish in the battle, in taking down something that you could call evil and justifiable to kill, but it always came back with rancor in the quiet hours to haunt you. When solitude became the playground of guilt and defeat, or entertaining the two. Mischief-makers brandishing knives and pistols. Never leaving without some damage done to the psyche.

"I was human once. I relinquished it because I couldn't bear the weight of being human. I wanted to be strong—stronger than any man before me. But to what end? Nothing but evil," Alucard murmured harshly, gritting his fangs and letting his bangs conceal his eyes, of the storm in them as he recalled the past scene. Yet, his mouth fell slack, hands hanging limply at his sides. "...She never chose to become what she was, did she? Just another...childish fool thinking this blood would heal them. Is that it? A city of fools reaching for the sun, only to be scorched by it." How numbly sobering this epiphany was.

Eileen nodded, but said no more. From his periphery, Alucard caught sight of the bell resting on her breast, more starkly than his own. That softened his gaze considerably, something warmly brewing in his breast. "I see you've taken me up my offer," he quipped, gazing at her with a molten warmth in his eyes.

The woman scoffed, but there was nothing acerbic or condescending about it. "I might 'ave. Don't get your hopes up, Alucard. I'm curious, that's all. Maybe I jus' want t' see where you plan on leadin' this courtin' scheme of yours." There's humor in her voice. Something lighter, drawing him in to create something of an intimate closure. The look on his face was such a blatantly boyish hope, a crooked semblance of a smile trying on a face that had paid witness to an unexpected horror. Something far removed from the grim and glower of the typical Yharnamite, that was for certain.

"That's enough for me," the vampire conceded, smiling in a way that bordered on dreamy despite the chaos still in his eyes. Superficially, this was such a transient distraction, even if it wouldn't last. Leaning on the balustrades, forwards and on his elbows, from here he could see the twilight over Yharnam as something just a little less menacing. Of course this day wouldn't pass normally. It would be troubled, and in him grew a powerful urge to retreat away and alone. A place he knew for certain, but lingered merely because Eileen did. It felt precious, sunlight glancing in unison from their bells, he wondering if they'd ever share a moment like this again.

"Almost sun-up. Go rest, vampire. The Dream will be nice an' quiet compared t' what's to come," Eileen said dismissively, though more out of awareness of Alucard's mental state than a true means of shaking him off. Her own toughened way of being caring, the vampire surmised.

Smiling in his vague and enigmatic way, he turned to leave Eileen to her usual, nightly vigil. "Yes. Good night, my dear," he murmured smoothly, a flourish of red denoting his leave before fading in a ghostly haze of thin air.

She had been right about the Dream. The Doll was praying at a grave in the back, so he left her undisturbed, whilst Gehrman was fastidiously asleep—either his usual ploy of avoidance or some kind of happy coincidence. Either way, the workshop proper was quiet except for him. Seated in his usual arrangement before the fire, left untouched since his preoccupation with it, it gave him time to simply stare into the flames and ruminate deeply.

Amelia's death still hadn't left him, bleeding as deeply as her banshee's keening that wouldn't leave his mind. It still rang with dissonance and nothing could bring about silence. On his lap he balanced a thick, sizable tome that provided enough surface area for a letter he was composing to Van Helsing about this new development. A small side table supported the ink well, his quill blankly dotting black spots as he thought but failed to write. Nothing but a date, header, and the addressee. Alucard's thoughts were too scatterbrained, and not without reason. What would he say? How would he explain the failure of his mission? No information had been gotten, nothing but a death and the jumbled memories of a woman who'd been heavily afflicted by the Scourge. Perhaps her blood would reveal its secrets, but for now it was too soon to tell.

Uttering a snarl of frustration, he crumpled the parchment into a tight wad and hurled into a waiting hearth, watching as it crumpled further and singed at writhing edges until becoming smoldering and charred. Brooding for a brief moment, his eyes flickered like the flames did, watching them for moments long as the moment of intermission swelled. There really was nothing he could do at this point, was there? Only wait for the morning to come and for everything to fall in on itself.

Listlessly, he rose from his seat and into the mildly cooler outside, descending the stair until an insistent pack of Messengers petitioned for his attention, some threatening to trip the vampire. He stooped to their level, swarming hands pushing what appeared to be both a mutated and mutilated eye in a glass vessel, appropriate for its size. He'd seen this kind before: those of the blood-addled or those whom were nearing the Scourge. Before he could ask an inevitably useless question, the Messengers burrowed into the earth once more, leaving him behind with the bizarre gift. Grunting, he pocketed it thoughtlessly and surmised it could be better deduced later. …For now, all he wanted was to sleep. But certainly not in the hunter's lodge, as the commotion that would likely erupt there was the sort he had no wish to encounter. All he knew was that the likelihood of him making enemies with the Church was excruciatingly likely, for no matter the circumstance, Choir members succumbing to the Scourge and having a foreign "hunter" assail them couldn't possibly be taken with kindness. Not exactly something he was looking forward to, this city already convoluting him enough as it was.

Staring into the flames, Alucard sighed deeply. This city was changing him, and he wasn't sure if it was for the better. Stripping away his barriers, exposing vulnerabilities he felt could be exploited in the end. Countenance grim, he hadn't felt so raw and exposed since he'd came. In such a short frame of time, no less. People weren't unchangeable, yes, but...this disturbed him. Clenching his fangs, nothing more could be done but sleep.

Chapter Text

Warning(s]: NSFW, some light smut

The morning had dawned for him, and the vampire found he could not rest no matter how much he tried to. For his coffin was not present, and even though an old trick of situating a small parcel of his homeland's soil did wonders, it wasn't enough. Even if it was Alucard knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, as his mind turned restlessly and the plush leather chair was hardly even enough to invite it. So, he resigned to sleeplessness, the bags beneath his eyes more pronounced than usual. That hellion gaze had diminished, and he felt so strangely weak.

Flames flickered strongly still, as it hadn't been long. Bathing him in gold light and dry heat, it was relaxing even if he felt anything but. Wearily did the vampire force himself to sit up from the chair, a strong desire to return to Yharnam paramount. However, just as he'd collected his red fedora and rounded sunglasses, the Plain Doll greeted him, crystal eyes demurely cast downwards and jointed fingers twiddling together.

"You moved restlessly. Are you well, hunter?" she asked with her peculiar accent, blinking at him. Ah, she wasn't aware, was she? Of all that had transpired. "Do you not need rest for the night ahead?"

A muted grin wryly spanned the vampire's visage, chortling whiskey deep. "Hardly. It seems as though I do not require it today. Perhaps the full moon is driving me towards it," he laughed roughly, a dark and odious sound. As it always was. But, his mind reared the vision of the previous battle like a crop, striking him to continue. "I will have more stories to tell you later, little doll."

Alucard's mind lingered on Eileen, on the woman who was feeling more and more like a bulwark with the passing day. Even if he couldn't see beneath her mask, he had more faith in her than anyone he'd met to date. Even the two foolish children whom saw him for something he wasn't, hadn't been in a time too long. It was with this dismissal that Alucard located the fitting alter and departed from the Dream in a watery mirage, manifesting in the Clinic that had felt like such an oddly appropriate location to do so.

Those receiving treatment tiredly regarded him, but none else. Iosefka offered him a small smile before returning to her work of attending to the patients, Alucard's brows furrowing together at the strange serenity. The Nosferatu strode towards her, the woman regarding him silently. "Doctor, have you heard word of the Healing Church?" he asked, but kept it open-ended. After all, it hadn't gotten out yet that the Vicar's demise was his doing yet, after all.

Iosefka regarded him oddly, as though he were touched in the head. "No, I'm afraid not. I believe they've closed their gates due to the worsening of the Scourge, but none else?" she replied laxly, all while in the midst of changing the linens of one of the many hospital beds located in the first floor sickroom.

So, it hadn't gotten out. All the same, he supposed. But for now, it seemed prudent to possibly avoid the place. All to keep the fragile thread of peace intact before it all unfurled. He bid the doctor farewell and set out from the Clinic, blinking away the twilit day that seemed perpetually enraptured by the city, in the blazing sun that basted the brick streets and banished away some of the autumnal chill. Alucard stopped for but a moment, then, nostrils flaring as he sampled the air, noting that a storm was due to strike, perhaps not long from then. A sound estimation in lieu of airs seemingly befitting.

However, his mind taxed in thought towards Eileen, wanting to see her even though it had been mere hours since they'd last seen one another. Pausing within the courtyard with the gates barred in preparation for the evening's hunt, he raised the Resonant Bell and let it chime a few times, trying to hone to the Small Resonant Bell they both wore in a matching set about their necks. When a receiving toll was perceived, he couldn't help but smile to himself: she was nearby. The wind was picking up, ready to be tempestuous as he proved the streets searching for her, weathered by what was to come in this eye of the storm, but wishing fervently that they might make the most of it before the worst all struck.

An abandoned homestead loomed near him from within the alleyway, Alucard considering it for a long moment. It seemed a reasonable venue to at least doze for the next several hours, knowing it would be a torrential one. Ascending the wall with preternatural ease, Alucard slipped through intangibly, no need for permission for entry. Before him was littered a collection of boxes and crates, some shattered, all in disarray. But, it all looked quite comfortable, quiet and warm. All the more reason for him to sleep, as Eileen had prompted him to. And the vampire doubted she'd be long at all.

It was rare that they might stumble upon a moment such as this. When all was quiet, and for once, even the beasts had scattered the streets, for few would venture out in a storm of this magnitude. Those that had been hunting were wise to seek shelter, the foolish and the hardier beasts of Yharnam being the only one of those whom proved the streets. Perhaps it was fortunate that he was in the area, and not without obvious associations. Alucard had a penchant for following Eileen as she worked, dubiously excusing it as merely clearing a path for her. What path? She would question. The Hunter of Hunters did not butcher madmen in neat succession. It was never that tidy. Hunting was hunting, not killing. What Alucard did was kill. It might as well be the only thing he was really gifted for. And the vampire would be the first to agree, claret hues locking with the back of her skull whilst the Crow watched the rain as it fell, sheets opaque and whipping fiercely, some seeping through the weak window panes of this room, a servant's quarters of a long abandoned townhouse. Tonight, it was their refuge. For Eileen, it was merely another sleepless outpost. Alucard believed otherwise, the cad.

"Aren't you the least bit exhausted?" the vampire inquired softly from beneath the brim of his hat's wide radius, head tilting upwards, a single eye cracked open. Seated on a makeshift pile of a crates like a pauper's throne, legs crossed and slumped indecorously back, arms folded across his stomach, it had been obvious that he'd dozed off. Alucard was hardly proactive at his work, the previous scuffle at the cathedral notwithstanding, but it wasn't Eileen's business to care. It wasn't even her duty to do this, but a mind that had stopped Dreaming could only occupy itself with so much in this terribly dark existence. Livelihood, or simply a threadbare means of expending what little remained of her life?

"I can't be exhausted. It's hard even t' sleep in a place like this, Alucard. That you can at all is somethin'," she replied easily, acknowledging him with a scant angle of head, beak the only indication of a pivoted movement. Then again, she supposed it wasn't difficult for the boasted "Monster of monsters" to get shut eye in a place like this. Beneath the mask, her lips twisted upwards dryly. "Why, afraid this old woman will keel over with th' next autumn wind?"

Alucard's simper fell and his brows kit together as that painful recollection filled him, a thousand yard stare penetrating through. Shifting uncomfortably, the immortal looked as though he were folding into himself, trying to raise a shield before something else made way through a battered old thing already so broken. Tensing, his jaw ground together, Eileen almost hearing the click of teeth in the dead silence between them not even the raging tempest could quiet. "Yes," Alucard admitted finally, such a weak and forlorn admission.

Humans were fragile. But so were the hearts of immortal things that became attached too easily.

Ah. He didn't even need to say anything more for her to understand. However, the moment of grim found a way to be remedied, Eileen chortling to herself as she turned heel, walking slowly to the Nosferatu and seating herself at the further precipice of his lap, as conservatively as she could—despite the supposedly bright reaction she'd thought it'd elicit. Less enticing and more cumbersome, Alucard glanced at her and still vacantly so. "You could at least wait until I'm a ghost before staring at me like I am one. Patience is a virtue, hm~?" Her voice was a jaunty tease, so light-hearted and facetious despite his mien.

Even though his scoff and smirk were empty of the light hers were, it was something. Better than looking through solid people, only for them to truly become ghosts before he realized what had transpired. What had come to pass in these self-fulfilling prophecies. A smile spanned in a Cheshire Cat's width, Alucard letting himself realize she was there, and she was real. "I prefer sinning to virtues. Too damned for them," he replied casually, both eyes open and lazily lidded, all before he did something worthy of a certain Lewis Carroll poem.

Beware the Jabbawock, my son, with jaws that bite and claws that catch!

Springing, his arms engulfed her in an embrace, Eileen almost squawking like her namesake as they were a tandem flurry of sable feathers and a crimson greatcoat, a tangle of lithe limbs and ebony mane all to roll in an unscrupulous heap upon the ground. When all had seemed as though it had settled, Eileen began giggling heartily whilst Alucard's chuckles were smoother and more lax, both having been equally subdued. Even so, it didn't last. Before long, the dribbling rain that sounded like cascading studs was louder then the fleeting moment of amusement, Alucard adjusting himself into a recline for Eileen's sake, the woman breathing softly but otherwise inscrutably beneath the mask, comfortably against his chest.

It was too easy to forget how fragile humans were, even if they were stronger in this hell on earth. In his arms, Eileen fitting comfortably to into his side, he felt awash in an overwhelming protectiveness over her that thrummed withal his being in a live wire, that desperate craving coming again. To know her deeper than they had before, even though this was a leap in a very wanted direction. Eileen fit so warmly against him , everything feeling so right. Especially the womanly curves hidden beneath such a bulky outfit, nestling to closely to his own that arose something unerringly pleasant and craved.

"Not so tightly, Alucard." The vampire started awake, unaware of his embrace about her, wide and uncomprehending for a moment. Her heart thudded against his chest, and it downed that moment of tension so intensely he almost groaned. Curling into her, he must've looked as though he were in some painful agony. -The truth was hardly stranger than fiction. Even so, it must've elicited some modicum of concern from her. Eileen's very air held a bit of tensity of its own. "...Do you need blood?"

That earned an instantaneous rebuff from him, quickly shaking his head in refusal. "No! ...No. I was...thinking about something else." The silence was suspended guiltily, one end of it predictably expectant and beginning to wriggle her way from Alucard's grip, the Dragon doing so with noticeable reluctance. He lay upon his beck, on the floor with hands folded on his stomach, face turned away and ebony mane gratefully concealing eyes that were a tempest of thought and indecision. "...What if you had some of mine?"

Received with a soft laugh, he could hear her quirk an ironic smile. "Being a gentleman this time and not seizin' it from my neck like the tales? Quite mannerly of you, I must admit." He flashed her a droll look; wanting and not receiving, he was such a petulant immortal! Older than her? Bah, in years only. Otherwise, he was such a young and silly thing. Enigmatically she watched as he craned his neck back, a hand dragging his collar down, Eileen raising a brow skeptically at this.

"My blood is better, you have to admit. Even you know that, my dear."

"Blood's blood. It would be a sorry day when I can taste the difference of that of all things."

Even so, his hand sought hers in a childishly needy manner, tentative spider-steps of his digits that skittered towards hers and watchfully observe hers, so intense it were as though only breaking glass could shatter such concentration. Eileen watched, and as it always seemed, when his flirtations weren't some game she played along with, they became dangerous. If his silver tongue was pulled from his mouth, she imagined this would be very different. Might he cling like some long shadow at twilight, running to her feet whenever she took a single step? Trying to trip her so she couldn't walk further away to that place he couldn't follow. What a fool.

Part of her believed that it was for the better that she either be immobile or rebuff, but when his hand finally met hers, that puerile want of affection, it were as though touching the wall of a dam mounting to collapse. That a whole ocean waited, wanting, needing—and...she didn't know what to feel. Maybe Eileen simply didn't want to drown, didn't want to have to learn to swim in something so deep. He almost wanted to swallow her whole; her blood wouldn't be enough alone. "Why do you do this to y'self? For an old woman, of all people? There must be some young and lovely face waitin' for you, in this city of all places. Why some old crone who's shut her heart off?" she sussurated cynically, pessimism evident in her voice.

"You're saying I'm the fool? That my heart chose you. That I consciously wanted this. You're still young and must not understand how the hearts of sentimental old vampires work. Don't warn me of pain when you're making me feel quite a great deal of it. Eileen, your warnings are nothing but useless." Oh, the humor was gone now. No shyness, no reproach of those boyish affections. His gaze was far off and stern, mouth drawn into a thinly bitter line. No, she was the fool. When you were as old as he was, you stopped caring for fresh faces and young souls. All that mattered was whom the heart doomed him to love.

Even though neither would acknowledge what was right in front of their faces.

"It's almost as if you want this pain," Eileen said knowingly, slowly. Almost tempted to laugh bitterly, she bit back the urge.

"Something in me wants to believe that it might be worth something in the end." Her eyes were held fast upon his throat, Alucard's hollow smile lifting in sight of it. He craned his neck, exposing as much of that pale column as he could. Yet, the look he gave her said, You can't drink blood through that beak of yours.

"That's the only thing I can say will be certain. There will be pain, and much of it—for you. This is only the beginning," Eileen replied. No promises of love or even tender feelings. Maybe this was just a game for her, but more complex. A distraction in the misery of this life. He might bear these soft and tender feelings, but they would only be met with brambles of thorns. But there was a yearning in those damn smoldering coals for eyes, and he did. It was something. Gods, a smarting welt to his cheek could be the same as a caress so long as she touched him at all. Was that how badly he wanted this woman?

Slowly, the cowl came loose, hat removed, until it was at long last that mask came undone with an almost forgetful deliberation. A black mane was shaken free, thicker than even his own, skin dark and almost black as obsideon, features surely belonging to a woman who hailed from Africa—he was struck by them. Her eyes were dark brown as the earth in such stunning compliment to her complexion and hair, and although she didn't possess delicately feminine features, her handsomeness was undeniable. "Don't make it painless for me. ...Don't hold back," he whispered throatily at her, honestly overcome. She was no longer an enigma. Eileen the Crow had a face and he wanted to drink in every moment of this.

Eileen studied him, a picture of bated rigidness, but this way—it would be so honest. The mask made it easy to conceal, to hide smiles and frowns and faltering looks. It was impossible now, wasn't it? She was a woman who refused to do anything except in her way, and the way he rippled beneath her, restless and wanting, perhaps it wouldn't be so difficult. She had unraveled this side of him and he of her quite some time ago, but it was always stacked against him. Crawling over him, her smile was dark and predatory, teeth milk white low and bereft of humor. Pain. That one thing that made him feel alive. Beneath her, he was limp. She could, if she wanted, trace but a finger along his chest and hear the groan that would burst from its pith, such a deprived beast. Two extremes of the wanted and a person desired. A recipe for his disaster.

His hands seemed magnetized to hold her against him, but they were pinned in the grip of one of her own, keeping him from movement and restricting it wholesale. Arresting him to helplessness that could easily be overcome, but was not. Then, she simply went for what she had intended for, doing so carefully and with odd expressions at times. Straightforward enough, biting into his neck. And she did, as hard as her jaws could manage. Feeling him tense rigidly beneath her, she chortled as her canines sunk deeper, sitting upon his pelvis as it seemed hopeless to keep herself from that divide any longer. Alucard's blood, while it certainly didn't taste like the vileness of beasts, seemed no different. Nothing particularly of note, although the effects were noticeable—

For him. It were as though all those suppressed fantasies were made real. His hands were released by seeming accident, Alucard taking chance from the moment by holding her hips, the woman making but a thoughtful sound before clamping down harder. It provoked a clear groan, Eileen practically hearing how heavy it was saturated with lust. "Eager, are ya?" she remarked as she swallowed one last time, mouth a vivid crimson, teeth stained so heavily; he loved the sight of it.

Even his breathing was hot and heavy, hips rising softly as the woman sagely observed how intensely he was suppressing himself. But she was not one with a maiden's softness, virtue. Her smile was small and enigmatic as she began to grind against him, easily to be construed as making herself comfortable against his bony structure, but even so, Alucard's eyes flared open and he sat up, propping himself on an arm, searching her earthy brown eyes intensely. They closed partly as he released a winded exhale, shaking his head and resting his forehead upon her shoulder. "Eileen," he ventured, lifting his gaze uncertainly to her, " you...?" His question was clear, even if he was too modest to truly voice it.

"So shy, like some young man," she answered, canting her head and smirking. "Didn't ya mother teach ya t' speak up?" She knew how famished he was. For her, as it had been made perfectly clear. And she took amusement in how she could make him bend, submit to her on a whim. A loyal dog who would run for miles if even only for an approving look, even though what he wanted was intimacy. He was repressing himself as much as he could, but even that was becoming agonizing to do, when what he wanted was within such close reach; but he'd been conditioned to utterly obey.

"If I could, I'd take you beneath me, right now," he breathed lustily into her neck, free hand grasping her waist and tugging her closer, solar plexus buzzing and warming his body. Tentatively, his lips skimmed her throat, consciously having to rein himself in at every moment. He purred when he felt her lean her cheek into his crown, nudging into it and embracing her closely. "...But this is fine." He quirked a small smile, wanting to let it last before she became the Hunter of hunters once more.

Interruption came, the woman's fingers breaching past his trousers, working smartly past until they came to stimulate him. Alucard involuntarily began to gyrate into her ministrations and rocked both their hips, skin becoming flushed and the temperature between them feverish. He loved it; it felt sublimely good in this place of chaos, something warm and weightless, a womanly softness atop him; what more could the son of the devil ask for?

She led them along, and he was perfectly fine with it. "Not a word from ya," the woman ordered, no harsh or callous inflection present. He nodded blearily, the want to groan her name growing stronger by the minute, and yet—he did. She would have to resort to a far better means of silencing him.

"Eileen~" he moaned playfully into her neck, smirking ribaldly, the syllables dancing teasingly from his tongue, melodiously. Eileen rolled her eyes, but uttered a soft noise of surprise when his lips came to tenderly kiss hers, she only molding hers into it experimentally. As forward as she could be, even she could be taken by surprise.

Moments more until she guided his manhood into her womanhood, both aroused by this encounter, the barest minimum of skin contact she would allow, he burying his face against her neck as he sighed rapturously and thrust into her. Gradually, letting her ride him as she pleased. Slow, sensual, the patting of the rain intensifying and seeming to mask them from the world outside. The kiss had broken by now, hips rising in slow, drowsy succession, Eileen seeming content with it even if she did not voice her pleasure aloud. No, she was purely silent, sometimes biting her lips, eyes closed, cheek resting against his mane of black hair. Even though it showed as her black skin took a wan glow to it, some perspiration dotting her brow. But it was enough for him, peppering kisses to her neck and sometimes clenching close with his hands. Bare, minimum, but it seemed enough for them both.

Her cheek pressed against his temple moved forwards and she turned her face into his shoulder, minutely shuddering and thighs squeezing tensely as she climaxed. Alucard scoffed affectionately and held her as she did, continuing thrust if but even slower to facilitate his own and milk hers for as long as possible. Moments later, he came quietly, exhaling gustily before they both settled into themselves. Although he removed himself from her, reaffixing their clothing to where it should be, that was as far as he would allow her to part from him, fiendishly keeping her in his embrace even as she resisted in spite of the growing smile that broke through her facade as she half-heartedly battled to extricate herself.

"Are you going t' let me go, or are we going to remain like this forever, vampire?" she inquired pointedly of him, the embrace thoughtfully staying as Alucard feigned a dense ambivalence. Before she could anticipate it, he stole yet another kiss and nuzzled her cheek, a wolfish grin manifesting. She jerked her head back, before his arms released her and she removed herself from the straddle, motioning for her mask.

He observed her watchfully before standing himself, gaze allured to the rainfall and the growing night, then back to her. "Do you really intend to go out? In this weather? ...You could catch cold, Eileen," he said, tightening the straps to her plague doctor mask and assuring its place, quite contrary to the arbitrary desires brewing. Helping her; quite a mother hen sort of thing to do.

She barked a laugh, muffled now; he found himself already missing the sound of her unobstructed voice. His hands wound about her waist and he brought the taller woman against him, indulging in it as much as he could, she inert as ever. "I've been here for quite some time. You really think a little spot of rain will get me...that much unda th' weather?" she teased, manually removing his arms and opening the window where the muffled rain became starkly heard, perching herself upon the sill. "No need to make us seem like lovers, or something silly as tha'."

This seemed to darken his countenance, crestfallen, but he still managed a forlorn smile. "...Of course. Be safe, Eileen."

Without another word, the Hunter of hunters disappeared swiftly and soundly into the miserable and grayed night. Dawn was approaching, and exhaustion was creeping. ...He may as well sleep before the hunt called him back.

Or Eileen did.