❯ Castlevania: Heir of Darkness – The Haunted Villa ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

CHAPTER SUMMARY: Arriving at the Villa, they find it in a state of disrepair and with new occupants…
WARNINGS: Violence, Language, Mild Sexual Situations
EDITED: 03.13.2009

The Province of Walachia, Transylvania, Dracula�s Castle, The Villa
May 1856, 5:53 a.m.

Aside from the occasional ghost or zombie, the courtyard was rather peaceful as they approached the Villa; Draco personally found the gravestones with the names of their intended occupants already carved into them to be rather morbid and puzzled over the point of the pillar leading to the top of the fountain in the center of the courtyard before dismissing it as a Castlevania addition. Predawn light peeked through the occasional break in the clouds as the five adventurers walked towards the double doors of the Villa�s front entrance; their boots made a softly echoing clop-clop against the stone stairs.

Henry gazed at what had once been the entrance of his childhood home; time had not been kind � the runner that covered the stairs had rotten away in many places to expose the cracked stone beneath and the sphinx statues flanking the entrance were crumbling and chipped. The heavy wooden doors leading inside were hanging askew, torchlight flickering softly inside the main hall.

�I�m home,� the blond Knight mumbled to himself softly, his armored shoulders slumped with sorrow.

Cornell�s pointed ears seemed to twitch and the Archer watched in confusion as the former Werewolf gently clasped the blond�s shoulder in a paternal manner. �No, this is not your home, pup, merely a twisted version of where you and your parents lived. Home is in your memories and with those you love.�

Head tilting, Henry studied the solemn face of the silver-haired man. �Yes, you�re right. Thank you.�

�Not a problem, pup. Let�s get going��

As though sensing the end of their conversation, Reinhardt stepped forward and forced open the double doors. The weak torchlight washed over them fully as they stepped into the Villa. Draco scanned the foyer, noticing the fallen chandelier blocking the staircase leading to the second level; several extinguished torches were knocked over in the foyer and the wallpaper was peeling to reveal cracks in the wall beneath.

The blond Knight closed his eyes. Of course it�d be like this; no one was tending to the place like Rosa did the last time�

�The Master Suite is upstairs � it shouldn�t take long to move the chandelier�� Henry said after clearing his throat.

�Right, let�s move it then�� Draco said before scowling as Cornell shook his head.

�Not with how you�ve been favoring your ribs. Stay with Carrie, let us three handle this,� the feral man ordered.

As the three men headed for the blocked off stairs, the Archer turned to Carrie and asked in a disbelieving tone, �Are you going to let him talk about you as if you are not here?�

�As much as it galls me, the old wolf�s right � I�m not useful when it comes to heavy lifting,� the magic-user grumbled, crossing her arms under her breasts. �I could just blast it, but I�d probably end up taking out the stairs as well.�

�Hn,� the Archer�s grunt was soft and vaguely noncommittal, but he seemed satisfied with her explanation.

With the three men, it didn�t take long until the chandelier was hefted up and over the rail of the staircase to smash down onto the hardwood floor. Carrie seemed to glide forward with Draco trailing behind her.

�Well,� she sighed, �if they didn�t know we were here before, they do now��

�It wasn�t that loud.� Reinhardt protested sheepishly only to be on the receiving end of a pair of identical dirty looks from Cornell and Draco, reminding him of their heightened sense of hearing. ��or maybe it was��

With Henry in the lead, the band of adventurers moved up the creaking staircase to the second level. The single door to the left of the stairs needed to be forced open; their fall of their boots to the marble floor seemed to echo loudly in the short corridor as they approached the open double doors at the end. Draco scented the air; the fragrance of roses was predominate above the scents of his companions and he noticed how tense Reinhardt and the others appeared � he could actually hear the increased pace of their hearts.

The Archer�s silvery eyes adapted swiftly in the weak predawn light as they stepped into the rose garden; it was a circular room that was partially open to the elements to allow sunlight to stream in to reach the overgrown roses. Carrie gave a sad smile of understanding as she watched Reinhardt walk over to the only cluster of red roses among the white and various shades of pink. With a clasp to the Vampire Killer�s shoulder, the Knight moved past him to open the single door leading from the garden.

Draco watched as the other three left Reinhardt with the cluster of red roses. As the Archer watched, the red-haired man leaned to his side, unsheathing a small double-bladed dagger before straightening; carefully he cut the stems of the red roses, pulling them free of their differently colored brethren. Returning the dagger to its sheath, he reached up and pulled a red scarf free from where it was tucked under his armor. As he turned and began to stride over to the single door where the Archer stood, Reinhardt tenderly wrapped the roses in the fabric of the scarf.

He looked up and the Vampire Killer�s blue eyes met the inhuman silver of the Archer, who had a look of puzzlement despite his normally stoically set features. Silently the red-head placed the wrapped roses in his satchel as he walked by the dhampire. Baffled, the pale-haired half-breed followed the human.

When they had all assembled inside the master suite, Cornell looked over the other adventurers. �There�s this room and a sitting room in the suite � if we rotate watches, we should all be able to get a couple hours rest. Draco, Reinhardt, Henry, you all look like shit, so well assess your injuries and those with the most severe shall have the last watch.�

�I�m fine, just a few scrapes and bruises and being as filthy as I am, I probably look worse then I am � same can be said for Reinhardt. Could use a nap though�� the Knight mused.

�I�m fine,� Draco grumbled irritably, shifting his weight off his aching ribs.

�Great, another one I need to break from that habit,� Carrie sighed in annoyance as she leveled a glare at the dhampire. �Take off everything from the waist up so I can treat those ribs of yours.�

�You know I�m not human. I heal fast. Trust me, I�m fine,� the Archer insisted.

Henry arched a brow at Reinhardt; the red-haired man smirked back at the blond Knight before reaching out and jabbing the Archer in the ribs with his long, bony forefinger near the tear in the back of his leather jacket. Draco reacted instantly by jumping and spinning gracefully while descending back to the carpeted floor to snarl at the Vampire Killer, flashing sharp, pearly white fangs in his aggravation.

�What the Hell was that for?!� Draco snapped, eyes flashing for a split-second from silver to crimson before returning to silver.

�Those ribs don�t look fine to me,� Reinhardt retorted dryly.

An amused snort escaped Cornell as he watched the pups interact; perhaps it wouldn�t be as hard as he thought to bring the Archer into the Pack�

If looks could kill, Reinhardt would probably be twelve-feet under from the look Draco was giving him as the pale-haired young man snapped, �All that will be done is binding my ribs. They�re already bound, so it�s a waste of time.�

�Why are your ribs bound?� Henry asked, frowning in confusion.

�I cracked a rib a few days before coming here,� Draco stated nonchalantly. �I found myself fighting off a harpy to defend a child it wanted to take.�

�What?!� Carrie gasped, startled; lightning flickered at her fingertips in reaction to her sudden anxiety.

�I found out Dracula had returned through a Harpy,� the Archer sighed. �All I need is rest and food. Don�t waste your time and supplies on me when you�ll probably need them later for yourself.�

�Alright,� Cornell agreed, raising a hand to cut off Carrie�s protest; it wouldn�t do to bring sudden mistrust and tension to the potential Pack member when he already didn�t trust the lot of them, otherwise he might take off and leave them, and he was too valuable with his superior senses to lose now. �You and Carrie will rest first and take the last shift. Reinhardt, Henry, you two will scout the building and return here.�

�Will we be taking over your watch?� Henry asked his adopted father.

�No. You two will rest, and then when I wake Carrie and Draco for their shift, I�ll rest. Hopefully around noon we�ll all be recovered enough to continue,� the former Werewolf stated. �Then we�ll be ready to face The Maze.�

�Maze?� Draco asked, arching a pale brow at the tone the silver-haired man used � it was a combination of dread and anticipation. �What maze?�

�The Garden Maze. Or as we call it, the Maze From Hell,� Henry informed the newcomer to the group with a shudder of horror.

�I see,� the Archer deadpanned, arching his pale brows.

Carrie, bored of the men�s conversation, looked over the bed of the master suite and tentatively poked one of the pillows; she was relieved to see no signs of lice or fleas, just a thick layer of dust. Carefully she ran her hands over the coverlet, brushing off the dust off. Feeling eyes on her and no longer hearing the men conversing, she looked up to meet Draco�s silvery eyes.

�I�ll take one of the sofas,� he stated. �The bed is yours.�

She watched as he turned away and began inspecting the sofas. Carrie turned and picked up one of the pillows from the bed.

�Here,� the bluenette offered, tossing the pillow towards the pale-haired Archer. Without looking in her direction, the dhampire snagged the pillow from mid-air.

Cornell settled into an overstuffed armchair, sneezing at the dust that rose from the movement. His keen eyes scanned the room, running over the interaction between his adopted daughter and the newcomer before pausing on the door leading to the sitting room. The door opened and Henry stepped out of the adjoining room.

�It�s clear,� he informed the former Werewolf as Carrie crawled on top of the bed.

�Good. Be careful, pup.�

�Of course,� Henry snorted, exiting the Master Suite to Join Reinhardt outside in the corridor.

�Nice of you to join me,� Reinhardt muttered to his sword-brother.

�Had to check the sitting room,� Henry retorted nonchalantly with a slight shrug.

The pair headed into the corridor, Reinhardt walking towards the store room while Henry lashed out with a kick to take off the head of a stained glass Knight. The Vampire Killer checked the door; finding it unlocked, he opened it to find the small room empty and dusty. Closing the door, he turned to find Henry dispatching the other stained glass Knight that came from the window further down the corridor.

�Cleared,� Reinhardt informed the blond Knight.

�Shall we check the dining room and library first or the ballroom and garden maze exit?� Henry mused.

�We could split up and then meet up outside the servant�s entrance downstairs,� the red-haired man suggested.

�Right. I�ll check the dining room then. See you shortly.� Henry agreed, heading for the far end of the hallway.

Reinhardt turned to face one of the entrances to the ballroom. With a faint sigh, he reached out and opened the door�

The dining room was empty, the massive mirror and several of his mother�s chairs broken. His footfalls quiet, he slipped into the short corridor leading to his father�s library. It bothered him how quiet the Villa was � aside from the signs of disrepair, some of the things looked to have been broken by something�or someone. It was like someone had come before them and there had been signs of that in the forest.

Of course, then they met up with Draco and that seemed to answer that puzzle, but even with the Archer joining their group, the signs persisted�could it be another adventurer? Was it that Charles Vincent they had met last time? Or could it be someone else?

The library door creaked as the Knight opened it. Leaving the door open, Henry stepped inside, scanning the room; his eyes lingered on his father�s desk, the memory of his childhood lessons in reading and writing being learned there welling up. As he took a step closer, the door behind him suddenly slammed close with a loud creak. Spinning, he reached for his revolver to find the door closed, but nothing else.

With a long stride, Henry approached the door with a hand on his revolver; he tried the doorknob with his free hand to find it locked. Biting back a curse, he found he could see his breath and the fine hair on the nape of his neck rose. In a single swift movement, he turned while pulling his weapon free of its holster, leveling it at empty air.

Slowly, cautiously, he moved forward, his eyes scanning the library for his foe. The room still appeared empty and the air was frigid, reminding him of when Cornell would train them in the dead of winter in order to acclimate their bodies to the cold. His weapon extended, he slowly began to reach for his backup weapon.

Before his fingertips could brush the hilt of his short sword, a thin icy hand gripped his bony wrist; cold speared through the leather armor of his wrist guard and the thin layer of padding and cloth beneath. With a hiss of pain, he turned sharply towards the icy hand, bringing his pistol towards his foe, but before he could lock onto his target, his other wrist was snagged by another icy hand. The pistol clattered to the floor, falling from his suddenly numb fingers.

Henry could now see his opponents � ice maidens, supposedly young women whom were spurned by their beloveds and died in extreme cold with their broken hearts. The pair that held him captive were nearly identical in their looks, the appearance they had when alive given a white wash. One must have been dark-haired while alive due to her dark blue hair, while the other had pale blue-white hair; both had snow white skin that nearly matched their white garb, consisting of nearly identical tattered shifts with blue sashes cinched at their waists, the hems fluttering above their bare feet.

�Warm�so warm�� the pale-haired ice maiden crooned, placing her free hand on his armored chest; he stifled a cry of pain as the cold suddenly pierced through his armor, padding, and clothing to the bare flesh beneath.

�Handsome too�� the dark-haired one murmured, her grip loosening; his fingers, still numb flexed. Cornell had trained them thoroughly, to where they could still � even though clumsily � use their weapons if their hands were numb from cold or restricted blood flow.

As the ice maiden went to touch his face, Henry forced his numb hand free of her loose grip and clumsily gripped the hilt of his sword. With a swift, harsh jerk, he pulled the weapon free of it�s scabbard and delivered a quick diagonal slash that reduced the dark-haired ice maiden into a pile of fine, powdery snow.

Henry turned to do the same to her pale-haired counterpart; however, the remaining ice maiden slid her hand from his chest to his shoulder, sliding it down his weapon�s arm, numbing his arm to the point he could not hold his sword any longer. The short sword joined his pistol on the library floor as he took a pained, shuddering breath; his breath was visible as he released a muffled groan of pain as she pushed him backwards with her icy cold aura until the backs of his knees struck the edge of the seat of the hard backed chair at his father�s desk. His knees gave out and he fell back onto the chair, which gave a loud creaky groan.

He found himself unable to move his legs and a slight crackling sound at his feet, the blond looked down reflexively to see his legs encased in ice up to his shins. Henry shuddered as he felt the ice maiden�s hands press his wrists down towards the chair�s back legs, her upper body pressing against his chest, numbing his torso. The second he felt his hands free, the Knight tried to jerk away, only to find his hands stuck. Craning his head, he saw ice holding his forearms in place against the chair�s back legs.

The blond Knight was trapped, a limb secured to a leg of his father�s chair. The ice maiden straightened and smiled at him serenely.

�All mine�� she crooned. �Alone at last, my love��

This was so not good�

Reinhardt glanced around the ballroom warily as he entered, quietly closing the door behind him. He could hear the sound of an out of tune harpsichord playing but it didn�t automatically register as a threat as he surveyed the room. It was mostly as he remembered it aside from one of the sofas broken and the dancing pairs of Vampires and ghosts.

He froze, mentally backtracking.

Music, from unknown source. Dancing Vampires. Dancing ghosts.

Oh fuck.

The Vampire Killer stood completely still, observing the dancing undead; the harpsichord had not stopped it�s playing and from the corner of his eye he noted another addition to the room, in the alcove with the stuffed lion�s head � an ancient harpsichord with the performer a skeleton dressed in a moldy and decaying formal suit from a century past, much like the dancers wore. He recognized the dance they were doing � a waltz, like his mother had taught him when he was a boy.

There were three couples, two ghost and one Vampire. Aside from the skeleton playing the harpsichord, there was only one other odd man out � she didn�t look like a ghost or a Vampire, but she was certainly some form of undead, wearing a tattered white chemise with pale blue hair and white skin. Her posture was prim and aside from the state of her garment and bare feet, she almost looked like a proper lady that belonged with the rest. The tattered blue sash cinched at her waist, the faint shimmer to her hair and blue tint to her eyes � and the ice on the only intact sofa where she sat � identified her as an ice maiden.

Reinhardt was baffled; what was an ice maiden doing at the villa? A fire specter or fire maiden would make more sense seeing as ice maidens and their male counter parts, ice specters, would prefer a place that was dark, wet, and cold much like where they died. He tensed when the ice maiden looked at him; her eyes widened and his hand slowly inched for the hilt of his whip when she suddenly looked away as though bashful. The Vampire Killer froze in surprise that she didn�t cry out a warning to the other undead still dancing almost mindlessly when she snuck what could only be turned a hopeful look in his direction before gazing at the dancing couples enviously.

A bead of sweat trailed down the back of his head, his hand falling away from the hilt of his primary weapon. She�wanted him to ask her to dance?! He recognized the mannerism from some of the girls at the few dances his mother made him attend when he was a young man, before the mess with Dracula the first time. Biting back a sigh, he wondered just what it was about him that attracted undead females; not just Rosa that first time, but several of the female ghosts and Vampires had given him hungry looks � the other sort of hunger, a more carnal in nature then just feeding and maiming � before they pounced.

Sometimes he wondered if this ever happened to Henry or Cornell; he was certain it didn�t happen to Carrie, aside form Dracula making advances on her that one time, but that was just a ploy to kill her at the time, he was certain. Maybe it happened to Draco, he was pretty enough to attract attention of that sort� For some reason, that thought bothered him that the pale Archer might be molested by lecherous undead before forcing his mind back on track. He didn�t care if that happened; the Archer wasn�t a member of his family, or even a friend of his�

�it wasn�t like he even liked the dhampire�


Castlevania: Heir of Darkness – Into the Villa
Castlevania: Heir of Darkness – The Lady Belmont