|"Morris Baldwin is yet another of those underdeveloped characters whose succinct and thus mysterious backstories is perhaps more interesting than those noted. Who was this old hunting master? What were his powers? How, exactly, does he tie into the Belmont lineage? Were his future offspring's, Hugh's, insecurities indicative of the man's personality in any way? How did he go about shaping both his son and Nathan Graves into the warriors present in Circle of the Moon? Since our pals at KCEK will likely never reveal any of these details (you know--'cause the division died and all), newest Castlevania Library author Delition Hikari tries his hand at solving the mystery that is ol' Morris Baldwin."|
Castlevania: Prelude to the Night
By Delition Hikari
Chapter One: The Beginning
was a calm night in the province of Wallachia, Romania, and some old friends
took the chance to meet in a small pub on the outskirts of town. As Morris
Baldwin sat at the bar awaiting his cousins, he felt a sharp chill run down
his spine. As he turned around he saw a dark figure walk out of the front
door, the bell on top ringing more than usual. The bell didn't chime, either.
It rang, counting up slowly to the count of twelve.
After the bell stopped vibrating the door was whisked open and two figures appeared in the doorway, one gesturing for the other to go first, as was the polite thing to do. The two figures entered the pub proudly, clad in loose-fitting leather and metal plates covering their vital organs and vulnerable joints. They approached the bar where Morris sat, and he stood up to greet them.
"Bridget, Charles, it has been a while. How do the days fare you lately?" Morris said as he approached his cousins and gave them both a large hug. Morris wasn't a large man, but neither was he a small-framed man. Back in his prime he could have been described as almost bear-like in stature, but after he hit 30 his size started to diminish. He could easily dispatch an average-sized human, though, so it isn't as if he is weak by any means.
"It has been a hard life for us, being nomads due to our family's name, but it doesn't make us desperate. We are doing just fine on our own. But I do envy you sometimes, Morris. You don't need to hide your identity." Bridget was right. Having the last name of Baldwin meant nothing to the simple-minded people of Wallachia, but being a Graves was a whole different thing altogether.
The Baldwins had Belmont blood running through their veins as well as the Graves, but the Baldwins denounced their bloodline and tried to live a normal life among regular humans. Morris was an exception. He wanted to be a hero. He wanted to be known as a vampire hunter. In a way, he envied Bridget and Charles as much as they envied him. You always want what the other guy has, as they say.
"Yes, she has a point. It hasn't been to hard on us, but our son has had a problem coping with the fact that he won't have any friends other than blood-relatives. We feel sorry for him, but he is cursed as we are." Charles shrugged his shoulders and took a seat at the bar. Both Morris and Bridget follow suit and took a seat next to him.
The bartender of the pub didn't know what to think of the newcomers. The stocky young man with the brown hair brought a whip into his bar, which he wasn't too fond of. He had a problem with weapons in the past, and after a sword fight broke out over a small game of Guess the Cup he had word spread throughout the town about how he didn't allow weapons in his bar.
The woman had a weapon as well. It may have looked like a small baton, but he could tell from the ends of it that it was actually an extendable staff. But he didn't care too much about her, since he spent too much time gawking at her bright silver hair and spending an uncomfortable amount of time staring at her chest. He didn't mind about the strangers though, since they seemed to be friends of Morris. Friends of Morris were friends of Jack Styx, and since his name was Jack Styx they were friends of him.
"Hey Jack, can we get three of the usual here? My cousins have had a hard time trekking through Creatim swamp and that could do the trick." Morris handed him some money and Jack went about to make the drinks.
"So, Cousins, where is the young one? Where's Nathan?" Morris wanted to see his cousin's son pretty badly. He hadn't seen him since he was born, and wished to talk to the young one. Maybe let him know how badly Morris wished that he was in Nathan's position.
"He is at your house. We dropped him off with Marian before we came here. He's probably playing with Hugh at the moment. Marian told us to tell you to bring back some soberness with you when you return. She knows how you get when you drink." Charles grinned slightly, almost to the point of exposing his teeth, and slapped Morris on the back.
"Yeah. I know how I get when I drink too. You can spend the night at my place so you don't have to waste any of your money at the inn. We'll head there when we are done here. Hey Jack, aren't you done with those drinks yet?" Morris looked around for him, but couldn't find him anywhere in the bar. Perhaps he went into the backroom to fetch some ingredients for their drinks. Morris decided that it wasn't a big deal until he heard a scream from the back.
Jack wobbled out of the back, his face pale, and bleeding from a gash on his arm.
"Body…Back Alley…Dead…" He bent over, placed his hands on his knees, and vomited all over the rear of the bar counter. Morris ran around to the other side of the bar and helped him stand up.
"Jack, what the heck happened? What did you do to your arm?" Morris slung Jack's arm over his shoulder and helped him to sit down at one of the chairs at the bar.
"I walked to the back alley to make the trip to my storeroom to find some ingredients, and I saw a dead body lying in the middle of the alley. Something was drooped over it, chewing on it, and I freaked. I yelled at it to go away, it turned into some sort of tiny bird, and I screamed. I turned around and caught my arm on a fence pretty badly. I didn't even realize how bad it was and how much blood I lost until I came back into the light of the pub." He placed his head down on the bar. "I think it was a bat that was gnawing on him."
He stood up and walked back to the other side of the bar. He bent down behind the bar and picked something up. "Trouble's brewing. I could feel it in the air out there. That bat could only mean one thing: He's returning. I'm getting my rifle ready and preparing for the worst. You should get ready too." He went to the back of the pub and locked the back door. "I'm going to stay here. If anyone needs any help, I'll be here. My arm may not be working well enough to reload faster than a snail, but I'll try my hardest." He sat down and placed the rifle on his lap.
"Oh my god! Marian!" Morris took off immediately, leaving Bridget and Charles by themselves. Their over exaggerating wasn't for a bad reason. The last couple of times that Dracula was revived he had raided the small village first as a test of strength. This time seemed no different.
The rest of the pub inhabitants freaked as well. Bridget tried to calm everyone down as they scurried towards the front doors, but to no avail. Before the first customer even came within fifteen feet of the door, a deafening boom shook the pub.
It had begun.
Two: False Friends
(Bridget & Charles)
Glass erupted from all sides of the room, making many of the bar patrons
duck for cover under the many tables lying about. Monsters of many sizes and
shapes came through almost every possible opening. Before Bridget and Charles
had a chance to react Jack lifted his gun barrel and shot a hole right through
the chest of an emerging skeleton, sending its ribs scattering, burying themselves
into the nearest things whether they be monster, human, or furniture. Bridget
and Charles unsheathed their weapons and did what they did best, and started
helping to protect the people in the bar.
"I'll see you after this is all done," Bridget yelled to Charles. "Whoever kills the least owes the other one a drink!" She bowed a sarcastic bow to Charles and drove her sword into the nearest imp that tried to slash at her. Charles took a quick swing of his whip and curled the end of it around the neck of a hopper. Just as quick as he had swung it out, he yanked on the whip, snapping the neck of the hopper and sending it flying towards him. He ducked as the little creature flew at his face only to hear it hit the decaying skull of a zombie. He kicked out the feet from under the zombie, stood up, and plunged his foot into the rotting face.
Jack had been having a hard time, but fortunately a bar patron decided to be brave enough to help him reload so that he didn't strain his arm too much. The pain in his arm didn't seem to be bothering him too much, though. In fact he seemed to be getting better as the battle progressed. He shot a few more skeletons and imps, then the whole room grew quiet.
In through the high double doors erupted a monster the likes never seen to Jack, Bridget, or even Charles. It didn't even have its head revealed; instead it wore a metal mask, which was screwed into its head at several points. It stood about seven feet tall, with its own flesh exposed around several body points, including its thighs and biceps.
Everything sat still for a while, until a female patron screamed as an armed skeleton stabbed her from behind. Charles took on the task of dismembering and destroying the minor ghouls and monsters.
Bridget took her sword and drove it into the stomach of the monster. It roared, raised its arms above its head, and slammed them hard into the side of Bridget, sending her sprawling across the room. She hit the wall behind the bar counter and fell to the ground with her hands over her head, bracing herself as the wine and beer bottles shattered on the ground around her.
"A little help here!" She cried out, poking her head out above the bar counter.
"I'm on it!" Jack yelled in return. He ran to the opposite side of the monster from Bridget. He took aim and shot, hitting the sword handle sticking out of the monster's stomach. The force from the shot twisted the sword out of its stomach, hara-kiri style, and sent it spinning horizontally. It struck the wall behind the counter, in almost the same exact place as Bridget had hit moments before. She reached up and pulled the sword out of the wood.
The monster shrieked, grasping towards its stomach. It reached inside of the gap and pulled out two tiny hands. The hands were connected to a skeletal-looking dragon, which proceeded to pull itself out almost the rest of the way. Where the gash had been now contained the five foot skeletal dragon. It screamed, and shot forward a quick flamethrower burst from its throat.
"Duck!" Charles shouted as he tackled a customer to the ground, seconds before the flames reached their body.
While Charles and Bridget were busy trying to keep the civilians safe and protect them from the monsters, Jack walked towards the twisted cluster of man and dragon. As he walked up to it, it did nothing, aside from tilt its head in confusion. The dragon's head did the same. Jack walked towards it and pressed the barrel of the gun up against the bottom of the creature's chin.
"I'll see you in hell. Don't worry, dear friend, I'll be close in following you." He pressed the gun harder against the chin of the monster and pulled the trigger. The monster's brains and skull fragments were scattered against the ceiling and the walls around it. The monster's mask flew off of its face and clattered against the ground, flesh and bone still attached to the screws on the metal.
The rest of the monsters stood still for a while. Then, without warning, they started screaming erratically and dashed out of the bar. The customers emerged from their hiding places crying and weeping for the dead, while Bridget and Charles walked over to Jack, who was currently kneeled on the floor overlooking the monster's mask. Charles placed his hand on Jack's shoulder.
"I can't believe it. I can't believe this at all. Thirty years in this damn town, and this is the thanks I get?" Jack shuddered, and then kept talking to himself, everyone, or maybe to no one at all. "I…I lied to you. I didn't accidentally slash my arm. I was bitten by that damn bat, and cut myself to try to cover it up. But that monster proved what I almost knew was positive. I'm turning into one of them. I…can feel it. I feel as if I'm eighteen again, yet I feel old at the same time. Tell Morris I'm sorry. Tell my friend to make sure my death wasn't in vain." He pressed the monster's mask against his own face, placed his gun barrel under his own chin, and pulled the trigger.
His body fell backwards, the gun resting on his chest and the mask resting peacefully on his face.
Bridget took the tablecloth off of one of the tables and laid it over his body, just falling short of covering it all.
"Don't worry. We'll get your message through to him." Charles stood up straight and walked out of the bar, with Bridget following closely behind him.
After they had left the bar, the customers locked the front doors and waited for morning.
But, for most of the inhabitants of Wallachia, the next morning would never come.
To be continued...