|"One of the more intriguing twists in the ongoing Castlevania saga is the plight of blood-related heroes who must fight in place of the absent Belmont clan. This is true mostly of a rather perilous period (1797-1999) when brave souls like Shanoa, Nathan Graves and Reinhardt Schneider took possession of the Vampire Killer and granted the wish of those ungrateful humans, who wished to see our Dark Lord banished! Thankless cattle. Still, I'll admit that these heroes were never given their proper respect--a slight remedied thanks to Jerkofwonder, who reimagines their adventures as a sole tale of bravery."|
1824, Cordova Town, Wallachia
The rain pours hard this night, pounding against the street. The clouds blocking the moon and the stars, rendering the wet streets barely visible from the few lamps that struggle to stay lit. Running through the puddles in the darkness, wet and cold, is a woman. A woman cradling an infant in her arms, wrapped up in a blanket to keep dry and safe.
The woman is in panic, running from something in the darkness. Her gaze rapidly moving from her front and back. Simultaneously watching her path in front and danger from behind. She turns into an alley to try and escape open view. Even in the dark she knew that her pursuer would have no trouble seeing her. She runs as hard as she can between the two buildings but before she is halfway through she stops suddenly and screams. Standing in front of her, blocking her path is a man in a dark hooded robe, his face hidden in shadow.
“Give me the child.” The man says, blankly. Without moving.
“Never!” The woman screams in reply.
The man says nothing, just stands firmly, still blocking the woman’s escape. Another woman creeps silently behind the first into the alleyway from the street she sneaks silently, and slowly.
The hooded man speaks again, “We will take her then.”
The second woman grabs the first violently by the shoulders. “No!” The first woman screams as the second bites into her throat. The first screams again and fights to stay on her feet. Her fight leaves her and she falls to her knees, the baby begins to cry as life leaves its mother. The vampire woman lifts her dripping mouth from the throat of the now dead woman, but still holds her shoulders.
Before the dead woman goes limp the cloaked man reaches down and lifts the baby from her arms. He then nods at the vampire woman, who drags the body away in response. The man waves a hand and a portal opens, out of which floats another cloaked man. His face also hidden in shadow; he has no legs, and carries a scythe. The baby is handed to him and both disappear back into the portal.
A moment later another man steps into the wet alleyway. He stands like a stone wall, staring at the one remaining cloaked man. “Where is the child?” The man says.
The cloaked man’s head tilts, suggesting his gaze moved to the other man. He says nothing, merely opens his hand, and stretches his arm to the man. Two green orbs emerge from his palm, “Fire.” He whispers quietly, and both orbs ignite into bright flames, not hindered at all by the pouring rain.
The orbs fly through the air towards the man standing at the end of the alley. He dodges backwards as they fly over him. He runs the distance between them with amazing speed and swings a hard punch directly at the cloaked man’s head, but his fist goes right through and suddenly the cloaked man is behind him.
“Lightning.” The cloaked man says. And the orbs begin to crack and spark violently with electricity. The other man begins running up the wall, four steps and he pushes off, jumping high into the air. Just as he goes air born lightning strikes the wall he ran across from the orbs. “You’ll have to do better than that.” The man says as he runs and jumps through the air, kicking the cloaked man over while still air born.
The cloaked man rolls with the hit and is almost immediately back on his feet. “I have no time for this.” He whispers, as he opens another portal, and steps through it.
“No!” The other man shouts, as he runs to the portal. But it closes well before he can reach it. “Damn it!” The man paces for a moment as he thinks hard, “God damn it…”
“Returning to life time and again since the ancient middle ages, the evil Lord Dracula has terrorized, and destroyed all throughout Europe. And each time Dracula returned from the dead, the Belmont clan fought him in the shadows, wielding the holy whip. Through their heroism and sacrifice, humanity avoided darkness, securing prosperity.
But early in the 19th century, having lost their ability to resist the darkness, the Belmont family vanished. Those in positions of power at the time began to search for new ways to counter the power of Dracula. Our organization, Ecclesia, was born then.
Many organizations were established, all sharing the same goal. Day after day they constructed their studies and research, while at the same time working to protect the people in an increasingly hostile world. But each dissolved as they failed to produce satisfactory results.
But that was when Barlowe, the leader of Ecclesia made a surprising breakthrough. A breakthrough that could stand up against Dracula…”
Two young adults walk into a giant, ornate, and very well lit hall, so well lit that one would completely forget that it was well past sun down. One is male; he has short reddish brown hair and dark blues eyes. The second is a female, with dark brown hair and extraordinary bright blue eyes. Both are in their late teens. They are heavily dressed, and carry several bags of luggage.
The two stand waiting at the door, the girl speaks first. “Hello.” She stretches out her hand to shake, “My name is Carrie.”
“I’m Abraham.” He says, while taking her hand and shaking it.
“Your accent… you’re…” Carrie is cut off.
“Dutch, I am Dutch.” Abraham replies. “And where are you from?”
“Wallachia. Not far.” Carrie replies.
“Welcome!” A man calls from across the hall, ending Carrie and Abraham’s conversation. The man reaches them quickly; he is a very athletic looking man, with long reddish blonde hair. “My name is Henry Oldrey; you must be Carrie Fernandez and Abraham Van Helsing.” Both of them nod. “Welcome to Ecclesia. I am a knight of the church, and their official liaison to Ecclesia.” He grabs one of each of their bags, “I’ll show you to your rooms.”
“Thank you.” Carrie says kindly.
“Yes, thank you.” Abraham adds.
The three of them walk across the hall and into another almost as large, just as ornately decorated and well lit. “How many people live here?” Carrie asks.
“Well, there is me, Shanoa and Albus but you’ll not likely meet them. Our master Barlowe only lets a few others have any contact with them. Nathan and Hugh, but they are currently out on a mission.” Henry stops as he turns onto a large stairwell, Carrie and Abraham follow and suddenly a little girl with bright blonde hair and dark brown eyes runs into Henry. “Hello Ada.”
“Hi Henry, I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to run on the stairs.”
Henry laughs, “This is Ada, she lives here. Her father Cornell is one of our primary instructors. You’ll be meeting him tomorrow morning.” Henry looks back and smiles, then he turns back to Ada, “It’s alright Ada, run along.” She runs off. “Come now, it’s not much further.”
As they walk up the steps, into the hall walks a very tall and muscular Native American man, covered in white tribal tattoos. He wears only purple baggy pants, no shirt or shoes. His hair is wild and platinum blonde, his eyes just are jet black.
“Who is that?” Abraham asks.
“Ortega.” Henry answers. “But no one other than Barlowe speaks with him.”
“Barlowe...” Abraham says, “I can’t wait to meet him. He is sort of an idol of mine.”
“He’s the head of Ecclesia, right?” Carrie asks.
“Yes, he is in charge here.” Henry answers, “He gives all of us our missions. His word is law around here.” They walk on in silence for a few moments, than Henry says, “Alright, these are your rooms.” He points them to their doors, “If you need anything just look around for one of the servants.” With that Henry walks back down the stairs.
In her room Carrie puts her bags down on the bed. The room is a good size, with a large window. The view is amazing. A beautiful image of the Carpathian Mountains. She places a framed picture of her younger self and her mother on the table by the bed. She sits on the mattress, and closes her eyes, “You can do this.”
In his room Abraham is unpacking as well, two of his bags are completely filled with books, another with scientific equipment, and yet another with supposedly supernatural artifacts and tools. He only has one bag with clothes.
Up in the top level Shanoa, a striking black haired woman in her early twenties, is training. Her trainer is Cornell, a man in his mid forties, silver haired, his body is in perfect physical condition.
Cornell sits, legs crossed, hands cradled in a circle around a blue glowing orb of light. “You must be able to channel your body’s energy anywhere at any time.” He stretches out his left arm pointing his fingers up, palm facing his body; a blue flame rises from it, “See how I push my spiritual energy into one specific part of my body.”
“But I can’t make energy like that.” Shanoa says. She is sitting directly across from him, in the same position.
“No, you cannot. My spirit carries more palpable energy then a human’s. But the principle is the same. You can use your body’s energy as a river.” Cornell replies.
“How will this help me? My power is in the glyphs.” Shanoa asks.
“By mastering the flow of your spiritual energy you can unite the power of multiple glyphs. Use the energy to push them together. These glyph unions will be absolutely necessary if you hope to make it through Dracula’s castle.” Cornell answers. “Now, you can feel the energies when you are doing it right. And I can see them, continue.”
“Alright.” Shanoa says, with slight frustration. She returns to the starting position, and begins again.
“Just focus your mind and spirit into one specific part of your body. In this case, your left hand.” Cornell says. His eyes begin to glow yellow. And he can see her body’s energy flow. Like red glowing lines under the skin. He sees the lines slowly shift, growing duller all around, accept in her left hand, which was getting brighter and brighter, “You’re doing it. Can you feel it?”
“I think so… It feels warm, and hard.” She focuses harder. As energy starts flowing into her hand fast faster she screams, and her energy disperses back through her body. “It burned, what happened?”
“You did it.” Cornell says with a smile. “You’re flesh has never been so saturated, it will be easier next time, and less painful. Until finally…” Cornell extends both arms, hands balled in fists. Suddenly both hands ignite in dark blue flames. “You won’t feel anything at all.”
Shanoa smiles, “That’s amazing.” There’s a sudden knock at the door. “Come in.” Shanoa says.
Coller enters, a macabre giant of a creature created with the notes of Victor Frankenstein, created by Barlowe out of the discarded dead to be his personal servant and body guard.
“Master Barlowe sends me to retrieve the girl.” Coller says, in his low gravelly voice.
“I’ll be on my way in a moment Coller.” Shanoa says with a smile. “I just need to finish up here.”
Coller nods, and exits the room. Cornell stands up, “There’s not really anything more we can do tonight Shanoa.” He says.
“I know.” She answers, “I’m just nervous, and wanted a moment to rest. Tonight I am to become the barer of Dominus.”
“I see.” Cornell says compassionately, “You’ll do fine Shanoa. I trust Barlowe, if he says you can do it. Then you can do it.”
“Thank you.” Shanoa says with a smile.
“Albus should be returning tonight.” Cornell says, “His mission has been completed.”
Shanoa smiles again, “That is some good news. I’ve missed him these last few months.” She walks to the door, “Goodbye sir, I will see you tomorrow.” Cornell bows slightly and Shanoa exits into the hallway. As she passes the chapel she hears the sound of hushed laughter and jumps.
“Who is there?” She yells.
Out walks Albus, with a big grin on his face. He walks right over to her, “Boo.” He says, before letting out a chuckle.
“You scared me!” She says while smacking him on the chest.
His smile doesn’t change, “It’s nice to see you.” He says.
Her anger fades immediately and she embraces him, “I missed you too.” She pulls away, “So you’ve completed your mission?”
“Yes I have, just a few days ago; I’ve only been back less than an hour.” Albus replies, “Anything happen here worth filling me in on?”
“Well, actually yes.” Shanoa says nervously. “Barlowe has chosen me as the barer of Dominus.”
“What did you say?” Albus replies, with sudden urgency.
“I will be the barer of Dominus.” Shanoa answers. “Barlowe has selected me.”
“No, no that can’t be true.” Albus says in disbelief. “Barlowe, he promised me that I would be the barer. He promised me it would go to no one else.”
“Barlowe is our master Albus. It is not our place to question him.” Shanoa responds, slightly angered.
“No, Shanoa, Barlowe promised it to me, you don’t understand…” Albus is cut off.
“No I do understand. I am as much a member of Ecclesia as you. I understand that our mission is to stop Dracula, no matter what.” Shanoa says her anger increasing.
“No, Shanoa…” Albus is cut off again.
“I don’t have time for this Albus. Barlowe summoned me almost ten minutes ago. I will talk to you tomorrow.” Shanoa rushes off to Barlowe’s chamber.
Albus stands in shock and anger, “Barlowe… damn your orders. I’m holding you to your promise.”
Shanoa enters Barlowe’s chamber, Coller is waiting at the door. Barlowe is ordained in flowing robes; he is an older man, early sixties, grey hair and an aged face. He holds an open book in one hand. In front of him are three podiums with a closed book on each one. He turns when he notices Shanoa has entered the room. “Ah Shanoa, you’re here.” He says kindly.
“I’m ready master.” Shanoa says, still with notably nervousness.
“I know you are my child.” Barlowe says proudly. “You are the only one who can do this.” He walks over and places a friendly hand on her shoulder, “You alone have the ability to wield the power that can defeat Dracula. The glyphs, Dominus in particular.”
“Yes sir. I’m ready to begin as soon as you are.” Shanoa says.
Barlowe takes Shanoa by the arm and walks her up onto the platform with the three podiums. When she is in position, Barlowe says again “You know Shanoa, that you are the only one who can be the barer of Dominus.”
“Yes sir, I know sir.” Shanoa answers.
“But even still, it will be nearly impossible for you to control it.” Barlowe says flatly.
“I understand sir.” Shanoa says bravely.
“This ritual is vital, it is the only way to fuse Dominus to your body without destroying it. And when we are complete Shanoa… you will be our world’s new savior.” Barlowe says with a smile, “I am so very proud of you.” Barlowe walks on the lower level directly in front of Shanoa, looking up at her. “Now, use what I’ve taught you to activate the spells in these books.” Shanoa takes a deep breath, Barlowe adds “Don’t worry, I will help you.”
Shanoa closes her eyes, and stretches out both arms, hands open, palms up. She takes a deep breath. The markings on her shoulders and back begin to dimly glow a dark red. Slowly the podiums begin to tremble, and the books begin to levitate. Shanoa’s eyes open, and she exhales hard.
“Good.” Barlowe says. He raises his hand, palm down, fingers pointing up. Helping her boost her magical energy. The books float six or seven feet above the podiums. Shanoa opens her hands, spreading her fingers, and the books open. The pages begin turning rapidly with seemingly no cause, each book stopping when the proper pages are reached.
The words on the pages begin to glow a light blue, and slowly different colored magical orbs fade in around each book. And what could best be described as multi colored flame rise from them. Barlowe’s expression becomes very stern, “Now Shanoa, absorb them.”
Shanoa takes another deep breath and begins the process of uniting the glyphs to her own body. The flames begin to pulse towards her, the tips stretching to touch the markings on her shoulders and back. When they do she closes her eyes tightly and goes cold, she feels her soul being touched by the enormous power of Dominus. As it begins to enter her she feels as if her body will be ripped apart, but she does not waver.
Suddenly, she feels something else. She opens her eyes and sees Albus, the barrel of his gun smoking, with runes on the barrel glowing bright red. The podium and much of the stage are burned away, and smoldering. There is no sound. She sees Barlowe turning fast, his hands and mouth working wildly in some kind of counter spell. “What’s…” That’s all she can say, as suddenly the great power streaming into her is violently ripped out. Her consciousness fades quickly, and she falls to the ground limp.
Barlowe finishes his spell, throwing up a quick barrier spell. His glare burns straight through Albus. “Albus, what the hell are you doing?”
“You lied to me Barlowe.” Albus says, as he starts to reload his shotgun. The three books now hover just behind him.
Suddenly Coller bursts into the room. Barlowe yells to him, “Kill Albus!” Coller screams savagely and charges Albus. But Albus points his gun and fires. Only one of the runes is lit, Coller is slammed back by red burning buckshot, it sends him straight through the wall.
Albus reloads again. “Next time I take him out permanently.” He points the gun back at Barlowe, who has constructed a much stronger protective barrier. “You promised me I would be the barer of Dominus.”
“Albus, you cannot. Only Shanoa has the ability to wield it.” Barlowe says.
“We could work past my weakness. There is more than one way to wield Dominus.” Albus demands.
“You have served your role Albus. Let Shanoa serve hers.” Barlowe pleads.
“No, this is my role. You are my master no longer.” Runes all around the barrel of his shotgun glow bright red and Albus fires a gigantic energy wave from it. Barlowe braces himself, hand up supporting his barriers. It takes a visible physical strain for him to hold off the attack, and when it is over Albus is gone.
Barlowe exhales deeply. He looks over to Shanoa, and sees her lying motionless on the ground. “No!” He runs to her.
At the same time Coller climbs out of the rubble that used to be a large section of stone wall. His right arm is ripped apart, useless. His right rib cage is also complete broken open. There are gaping holes torn into many spots of his body, between his neck and chest, his stomach his hip. But it was nothing that could not be repaired. And he seemed not to even feel it. “Is she ok master?”
“She’s alive.” Barlowe replies.