Demise of the Soul

It seems almost inevitable that the corrupted being known as Count Dracula would one day see his untimely end. For after seven-plus centuries spent battling the Belmont clan and its determined allies, his reign was thwarted in a most spectacular yet unexpected way. It was Julius Belmont and a band of vampire hunters who in 1999 defeated the Dark Lord, as the family and its allies always had, and with the help of the priests and other hunters capitalized on a coincidentally-occurring celestial event by sealing within the darkness of a solar eclipse Dracula's spirit along with his demon-filled castle. Thus, because of the nature of the seal, Dracula was separated from his very own soul and unceremoniously vanquished for good.

Though, this is not to say that the battle was over or that the supernatural forces of darkness had breathed their last breath. After all: For nature to truly retain its balance, there must be an ultimate evil to counter ultimate good. So while there was surely no more "Dracula," what remained of his embodiment, his very feared powers, lay resting somewhere within that eclipse-based seal. And something had to give. What was extraordinary about this event was that the vampire Dracula's final death was predicted by a one Nostradamus over four hundred years before; more disturbing was the second part of his prophecy: "In the year 2035, a new master will come to the castle, and he will inherit all of Dracula's powers." Surely, Dracula's power would begin to leak out. Hopeful of this, members of the underground kept alive and held close this prophecy because they knew well that the year 2035 happened to be the date of the planet's next solar eclipse. It was then, they felt, that the Dark Lord would somehow return and lead them in victory.

There were others who knew too well of a possible leak. For one, Genya Arikado (a disguised Alucard working for a top-secret Japanese agency) understood better than anyone the true nature of Dracula's now-orphan powers. If someone of potential were to discover the true link between the eclipse and the Hakuba Shrine, from where the priests helped construct the seal, he or she could in 2035 stumble into the castle and inherit Dracula's powers to become the very reincarnation of the Dark Lord. There were many suitors--like the missionary Graham Jones, the fire-manipulating Dario Bossi, and the magic-duplicating Dmitrii Blinov--all of whom had some connection to the fateful day in 1999, be it a concurrent birth or an unexplained power potency boost. The key was that these individuals held power that was "one in the same" as Dracula's, which made them potential hosts.

It was Arikado, along with acquaintance Yoko Belnades, who formulated a plan to foil any such threat. They would carefully select a subject whose spirit was pure but whose powers were "one in the same" with Dracula's; the target was the seemingly ordinary Soma Cruz, friend of Mina Hakuba, whose father was the current owner of the Hakuba Shrine. On that day in 2035, Soma was against his will transported by Arikado into the eclipse-held castle, and he until the end remained oblivious as to his purpose. Over the course of the day, he was introduced to his unknown-to-himself soul-stealing power, and after he absorbed most all of the castle spirits and essences, he was eventually informed by his new "friends" that he was a potential successor to the Dark Lord. Soma feared the worst, that he actually was Dracula, but this, he learned, would hardly be the case if he were to remain strong.

Instead, it was Arikado's plan at work: If Soma were to absorb all of the castle souls, he could undoubtedly fool the forces of chaos into thinking that this were their Dark Lord. Therein, Soma could slip into the chaotic realm ("where only Dracula could go"), the source of the seal, destroy any leaks, and reconstruct the seal as it was. The planned worked thanks to Soma's determination to harness well his allies' pleas. But there was a cold truth: Though he was of good heart, somewhere deep within Soma lay sleeping Dracula's powers, and they would be his to either (a) suppress or (b) let loose and truly become the Dark Lord incarnate. Too, he would always be a target of those who wished to revive the most ultimate of evil.

Dracula was dead, yes, but his spirit would always remain. It would be up to the suitor to decide what, exactly, that meant.

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