Fandoms: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
H/C: wild card (atonement), deals with demons, isolation, panic attacks
Warnings: brief mention of blood
Summary: When Maria is given a death sentence, Alucard makes a deal that leaves him trapped in an inescapable slumber, locked away from the world and Maria herself.
Disclaimer: I don't own Castlevania or any related characters. I also don't own the images in the banner, and all credit can be found at the Manip Credit Post.
Author's Note: I really, really hope I conveyed my prompts well enough. Also, much thanks to twisted_slinky for the idea behind Alucard's problem in Part III. Written for HC Bingo's Feburary Amnesty Challenge.
"I can't save her."
Alucard was not one to easily admit defeat. He had faced his own father, and he had never once regretted the choices he had made… especially the night he had met her, Maria Renard. He had stopped Dracula, sent Castlevania back to rubble, and had been more than willing to return to his eternal slumber, ridding this world of his curse. But Maria had called to him, had gone after him, had saved him. Two years he had lived with her, and the Belmonts, and it had easily been the happiest two years of his long, long life.
But then she fell. Working in the garden behind the manor, planting flowers, Maria had fallen. She had not tripped. She had not stumbled. She had simple fallen, no preamble. When Alucard reached her, she was already leaning up and coughing. He smelled it, damned his preternatural senses, before he saw it. She had coughed a smattering of blood upon the back of her pale hand. It took Maria herself a moment to see it, in which she looked up, horrified, at the dhampire.
She fell back, unconscious. After an examination by a doctor, the worst was confirmed. Maria was suffering from consumption. She was to be quarantined away from the rest of the household, and only Alucard was safe from it, given his bloodline. There was, of course, the obvious cure. It was not something that he offered lightly, damning her soul in such a way… and the offer was selfish. He knew that even as he had made it. She had rejected it, of course, being the pure soul that she was. When he had tried to make her understand, they had argued, and Alucard had optioned himself to leave the room, heading out into the darkness of the night—the ever welcoming darkness—to cool his temper. He didn't stop until he had reached his mother's old family tomb. He had leaned heavily against the cold stone, and that was when he realized true pain. His first great defeat.
"I can't save her."
He spoke the words again, into the night, his face downcast.
"I've brought my curse, my living sin, upon her. I'm the reason she's dying, and there's nothing I can do to save her."
"Well," said a high, lilting voice from behind the dhampire, "that's not exactly true."
Alucard turned. The man who stood behind him was even more out of place in this cemetery than he was. He was dressed in a fine nobleman's suit—a deep indigo in color with gold trim and embroidery. His hair was as black as the night sky, tied low at the nape of his neck, and he held himself perfectly straight in his posture.
"Who are you?" Alucard asked, scenting the air. He couldn't smell this… person. Instead, the vague smell of rotting eggs and something burning hung in the air. "Identify yourself."
"You needn't know my name, Son of Dracula," the fine-dressed man said. "But, if you'd like, you may look closer."
The dhampire arched a brow, but, when he eyed the face of the man a bit more, he realized what he had meant. It warped, just for an instant, into something indecipherably gruesome and dark. Alucard had grown up seeing such things, and recognized him for what he was immediately.
"A demon. Are you one that serves my father?" Alucard said, turning, and placing a single hand on the hilt of his blade.
The demon held up a single hand. "In a way, I do, but I come of my own accord this night. There's no need for such hostility. I've come to save your beloved."
Alucard snarled. "Don't speak of her!"
"But you were partially correct, Young Tepes. It was your curse that has brought this unfortunate turn of events upon her. God doesn't tolerate abominations."
"And what do you know of God, demon?"
"More than you might realize. After all, know thy enemy. I've come to offer you a bargain, Adrian. Or do you prefer Alucard?"
"Get to your point, demon, before I end your existence," the dhampire snapped.
"Very well. I wish for you to returned to your deep slumber, your sleep like death, or whatever it is that you call it, like you had originally intended. When you have, upon my word, I will heal Maria, and she will live a long, happy life. Without you, of course."
"Why should I trust your word, demon? You've got no honor to speak of, none of your kind does."
"But a crossroads demon is bound by their word."
The demon jerked a thumb over his shoulder, and Alucard allowed his gaze to rise, realizing that a crossing of two dirt roads now preceded this cemetery. He weighed this conversation in his mind, knowing that—at least for a portion of this conversation—the demon was telling the truth. Crossroads demons, if their word was offered, they had to abide.
"Just sleep, and she lives?" Alucard asked.
"You have my word," the demon repeated.
"And you gain what? Why would you offer me this?"
The demon grinned, and the look reminded Alucard of the cat of who the mouse.
"I have plans… and you would ruin them all, if we're being honest. However, a further promise, your precious Maria and her family—and yes, this includes the Belmonts—will remain unharmed by my machinations. My word, again."
"Richter would stop you," Alucard said. "Could you promise his safety then?"
The demon remained grinning. "If he figured it out… yes. Depending, of course, on his own choices. If the Belmont chooses to truly sacrifice himself to stop my plans—again, if he were to ever realize them at work—then I cannot stop every little thing from destroying him."
"I want none of them harmed!" Alucard roared.
"There is a deadline on this deal, Tepes. When I leave here, and I am growing bored, the deal leaves with me. Maria will die without this bargain, I assure you. Sleep, as you once intended, and you have my word she will get to see her remaining days, once the stench of your cursed bloodline is gone, so will this disease leave her. She's made you happy, hasn't she? Don't you owe her this much, to let her live? Or would you continue to damn her, like your father damned your mother?"
Alucard's face contorted into one of rage and pain. He felt an inhuman roar rising in his throat, but he quelled it. He was not his father's son. He had sworn, as he had watched his mother burn, that he would never condemn anyone to such a fate. The demon stepped forward, holding his hand out for Alucard to take.
"Do we have a deal?"
"Your word?" Alucard asked again. "She lives?"
Alucard glared at the demon, but, finally, he thrust out a hand, clasping it with the demon's. "We have a bargain."
The demon's grin widened, and Alucard felt his knees give way. He struck the damp earth, his vision swimming.
"I am a servant of your father," the demon said, still holding Alucard's hand. "And as such, I was tasked to offer you one reprieve from your slumber… you will awaken when your father is finally on the cusp of true defeat."
The world was going black around the edges. The demon dropped Alucard's hand, and the dhampire held himself up on by his hands and knees. This was too quick. He hadn't expected to sleep so quickly, or so forcefully. This had been a trick, and obvious trick, and he had fallen for it.
"It's going to be a long sleep, dhampire."
"Your… word!" Alucard demanded.
"Don't worry," the demon said, and his voice was getting hard to hear. "My word is still my bond."
Alucard's world went to black, and he didn't even feel it when his body collapsed against the grass.
The world seemed eternally ebony. Alucard couldn't tell whether his eyes were opened or closed, and he felt as if he was floating, out of control, through nothingness. This was nothing like his last slumber. He had dreamed, fully in color, of his life. Sometimes they had been nightmares, sometimes they had been visions of hope. But this… this nothing was reminiscent of a type of Hell. He couldn't control his body… or even feel if he still had one. It was as if he were set afloat in the ocean, only it didn't feel wet or cold underneath him… It didn't even feel like he was on air.
He tried to cry out. It felt like something was pushing against him in the blackness. He tried to fight back, it to say it was difficult was an understatement. He was completely unaware of his body. He struggled to relax. Maybe the dreams would come if he only relaxed. But time didn't seem to exist in this odd form his was in, thus he couldn't tell how long it was before he felt the need to call out again. His thoughts were on Maria, on the last image of the grinning demon, and of the demon's last adjustment to their bargain. Alucard knew he was sleeping, but… no. This was not his usual, willing slumber. He was being held here, in the blackness, alone.
He had had a measure of time when had last chosen to sleep. He had had his dreams. And now… now he had nothing but the memory of a demon's word. He was alone in a lucid sleep that was more like a prison. And he would not give in.
He would fight.
How long had he been struggling, fighting, with all his might? He was tired, truly tired. If true sleep would come to him in this state, he would have let it come, if only for a moment. It had felt like some small eternity, pushing back against the heavy nothingness that was trying to keep him suppressed. He had made progress, though he had no idea how long that had taken him. He could almost feel his body now, instead of just the inky nothing around him. The world was seeming a little smaller, but that wasn't necessarily comforting to him.
Alucard had no idea when it had happened, but one day (night?), he had found a measure of freedom. The blackness lightened, if only by a few shades. It was now like he was looking through closed eyelids. After a moment, he realized that that was exactly what he was doing. He had made to a quasi-conscious state, but he found he was otherwise unable to control his body. He could feel his arms, his fingers, his chest, his legs. He was lying in his coffin, inside his mother's family's mausoleum. Had the demon put him there? He did not, could not, know. But he recognized the feel of the coffin beneath him, after spending a previous three hundred years in it. He could hear, thanks to his supernatural heritage, leaves rustling on the trees somewhere outside the stone tomb. He tried to speak. Nothing happened. His lips hadn't so much as quivered. He tried again. Again, the same result.
Suddenly, the sound of metal scrapping, followed by footsteps. Someone was entering the tomb! He tried again, with all that he had within him, to cry out to the mystery visitors. Their footsteps had come to a stop by his coffin. He was screaming within, even if no sound made it out.
"You know, there's a story in my family that the guy buried in this one isn't even really dead," a voice—the sound of a young man, still a year or two away from puberty—carried inside the sealed coffin.
He was speaking very informally, and in a cadence that Alucard could not place. If the dhampire were to guess, he would suppose that time had passed by leaps and bounds. He had noticed this the last time he had slept. But, this time, things were different. There was no peace in this sleep. Instead, he was taken by a fire within, his efforts doubled and doubled again to try and get his voice heard. His mind raced.
Maria… what became of Maria…?
A girl, perhaps a year or so younger than the boy—a sister, maybe—scoffed. "Dad just likes to sound like his cool or something. It's not real. The guy in there is dead. Probably rotten."
Alucard's heart thudded harder than it ever had. He willed his hands to move, to form fists, to bang on the lid above his body. He was still experiencing the world through this claustrophobic darkness of closed eyes that would not open no matter how hard he tried, and he could feel sweat rolling off his temples. How could he possibly be sweating when his body would not move?
Maria! Please, just tell me of her!
There was a sound like shuffling feet, and then the boy spoke again.
"Yeah… you're probably right," he said, though he sounded disappointed. "We're not supposed to be here anyhow. Let's go home."
No! Alucard had never felt so hopeless, so helpless. His efforts were diminishing despite the racing of his brain and heart. He required so little air, but now it felt as he were suffocating. No, he wanted to plead. Don't go.
But it was too late. He heard the receding footsteps of the children, and then the gate screeching to a close. His strength failed him, and his panicked state overtook him as he fell back into the nothingness of before. Perhaps this was truly all there was for him now.
The lid to the coffin opened. For a moment, the minimal sunlight that shown through the mausoleum's door illuminated a fair-haired man dressed in garb that was ages old in style. For a moment, the man seemed as still as a statue, not one sign of decay upon him. Then, slowly, he began to blink.
Alucard's eyes opened, blinking against the faint sunlight. He was very surprised to find a blonde woman, dressed in a fashion he was not familiar with, standing over him, arms crossed.
"It's about time," she said.
The weight of his time of sleep had not yet left him, and the first word he could murmur was, "Maria."
The woman laughed once. "No, I'm afraid not. She died ages ago."
His head was clear, as was the world around him. Alucard sat bolt upright in his coffin, sparing only a second before leaping out of the casket completely.
"Who are you? What happened to Maria?" he demanded.
The woman's brow furrowed. "Hmm. I thought I had sensed a demon's touch upon you. I guess I was right. You… aren't aware of the time passage, are you? Unlike your first sleep?"
Alucard eyed the woman. Her blood… it smelled familiar. Like an old friend. He shook his head, slowly.
"I thought so," she continued. "The demon really did a number on you, didn't it? I'm Yoko, by the way. Yoko Belnades."
Belnades… Sypha! Alucard's surprise must have shown on his face, because Yoko laughed again.
"Yes, from the same bloodline."
Alucard put a hand on the edge of his coffin, his eyes downcast.
"How… how long have I…?"
"Quite some time. It's now the year 1999."
His head spun. He had nearly slept for another three hundred years! He would damn the demon who had baited him, but that would be redundant, he supposed. Instead, he looked up at Yoko.
"I do not know if you would be aware, but… What ever happened to Maria Renard?" he asked.
"She married, had a few children. Was always described as a little sad in any description past the year 1778. She had been sick that year, told it was Tubercul… Consumption. But she made a miraculous recovery. Her family thought that the doctor had been wrong. But now that you ask… this is what you made the deal for, wasn't it? To save her?"
Alucard breathed a sigh of relief he had been holding for almost three hundred years. He nodded.
"At least, it was not for naught. But… I know the conditions of the deal. I was only to awaken when my father was finally defeated. Is it… is it true?"
Yoko's smile widened. "Yes. Some of my colleagues had surmised this would probably be the restriction set upon you, since, besides the Belmont clan, you were the greatest threat to your father's power. But it's done. I was sent here, though, to retrieve you, so to speak. You see, it never hurts to have a back-up plan. Your father was always one to keep coming back."
His father was gone, and Maria had lived a happy life. And he was free from that damnable sleep. He grinned at Yoko.
"Tell me of this world," he said.
She nodded, the smile never wavering. She gestured to the door. "I knew you'd say that. Follow me. We have much to discuss."