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  1. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Late For A Date
    (Bunnelby)
    Level 18
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2017
    Posts:
    2,584
    PokéPoints:
    ₽8,143.1
    Description:
    “Be seeing you again soon, Luigi!”

    Normally those might be taken as words of comfort. A promise from a friend that even though they must part ways for the time being, they will meet again. Many people had said those words, or something to their effect, to Luigi over the years and it had almost always been something that he had seen as a good thing. But when the very incarnation of Death itself said those words, even as jovial as his tone had been at the time, Luigi could only take it as a threat, or perhaps a warning.

    “Be seeing you again soon, Luigi!”

    He was going to die soon. That was the only thing it could have meant. He didn’t know how soon ‘soon’ was. From the perspective of something like Death, a few years or perhaps maybe even decades could have qualified. It was possible that Luigi still had a very long and happy life ahead of him. But the fact that Death had singled him out among the large group of allies gathered there that day, meant that at the very least, he would be the first to go.

    It was a harrowing thought. Terrifying, even. Luigi had barely been able to sleep in the few weeks since that fateful encounter. Especially since it had come so soon after he had learned of his older brother’s mysterious passing. If he had learned that he was going to die soon before his last adventure, he would have panicked and probably spent the rest of that short life cowering in fear over the unknown. But he had grown since then and better come to grips with the harshness of reality. If he was going to die, then he was going to spend the rest of his life living to the fullest. That was why he was here, in that old mansion he’d ‘won’ from a fake lottery back in the day. The place where he had first faced off against King Boo. The place that would soon serve as his wedding venue, as well as his and Daisy’s home within the Mushroom Kingdom.

    “Be seeing you again soon, Luigi!”

    “Hey, are you okay, boss?”

    Luigi was shaken from his thoughts and turned to face one of Super Mario Bros. Plumbing’s newest employees, a portly yellow yoshi that went by the name of Roshi. He hadn’t known the small dinosaur for very long, but Roshi had proven himself a valuable friend and ally in their short time together. In fact, Luigi saw a bit of himself in the timid yoshi. That’s part of why he’d made Roshi’s hat, a staple part of the Mario Bros’ uniform, a similar shade of green to his own. The other part was that it matched Roshi’s green shoes. Said hat also had a lower case ‘r’ on the front to help differentiate it from the “R” of his other new employee, who was also somewhere around there.

    “Yeah, I’m-a fine,” Luigi shook his head and clapped his hands against his cheeks a couple of times to wake himself up. “Just a bit distracted.”

    “Yeah, I suppose that being here must be causing the whole situation to seem a bit more real.” Roshi nodded. “Getting married, and all that.”

    “Also, I hear this place used to be haunted.” A purple dragon, small by dragon standards but big compared to Luigi or Roshi, made his presence known as a pair of glowing golden eyes flashed up near the ceiling.

    “Augh!” Roshi let out a yelp and fell onto his rear. “Don’t scare me like that, Ridley!”

    “Sorry, force of habit.” The winged member of their crew swung around so that he was hanging upside-down from a banister. “Predator instincts and all that.”

    “What are you even doing up there?”

    “What are you doing down there?”

    Luigi shook his head with a sigh. He wasn’t used to being the one in charge, and it was clear that his employees were going to be a handful. Still, they generally got along pretty well despite the banter and were quickly getting the hang of plumbing despite neither of them having any experience in the field.

    After a couple minutes, Ridley finally crawled down from the ceiling and the trio pulled into a huddle.

    “Okie dokie, we-a shouldn't need to worry about the basement for now, so we’ve-a got three floors that need to be cleaned and three of us,” Luigi told the others. “It seems that-a the easiest way to do this is to split up so that we can-a each clean one floor.”

    “Sounds reasonable.” Ridley nodded.

    “I'm not sure about splitting up,” Roshi objected. “This place gives me the willies.”

    “It'll be fine,” Luigi assured him. “This place hasn't been haunted in years, and even if there were still a boo or two that I missed, we’ve got the lights working now, so that'll scare ‘em off.”

    “And if you need help, just yell,” Ridley added. “We’ll be over in a heartbeat.”

    “I-I guess I can do this.” Roshi swallowed, then puffed out his chest. “Yeah, I can do this!”

    * * *​

    After everything had been sorted out and they’d each gone to clean their areas, Luigi found himself vacuuming up his study. The act made him almost nostalgic for that night he had spent sucking up all the ghosts of the manor into the vacuum-like Poltergust 3000. Thankfully he only had to deal with dust this time around, though. Dust and a small gray squeek that suddenly ran out from behind a chair.

    The unexpected guest startled Luigi, causing him to accidentally whack a bookcase. The old shelves collapsed, nearly burying him in the process. Thankfully, he was able to jump out of the way in time. However, he found himself lying flat on his stomach as the mouse-like creature scampered around.

    “You gave me a bit of a start there, little guy,” Luigi said as he pushed himself up off the floor. “How long have you been… hey, what's this?”

    Luigi looked down at the book that had landed in front him, a dusty old tome bound in red leather and the words ‘Grimoire of Souls’ etched into the cover in an ornate script. That was certainly an ominous title and something about the book seemed… off, but Luigi couldn't say why. After a moment of consideration, Luigi decided to ignore. Unfortunately, the Grimoire had other plans.

    The Grimoire suddenly opened itself as Luigi stood up, the pages flipping rapidly as a vicious wind kicked up around the room. Luigi watched in horror as the squeek from earlier was carried off by the winds and whipped around the room before getting sucked within the book itself, flailing and screaming the whole way. Luigi then found himself getting pulled off the ground and desperately tried to hold on to the fallen bookcase to keep himself rooted down but his grip failed him. Before he knew it, he was being pulled into the Grimoire of Souls like a hairball getting sucked down the drain.

    “Be seeing you again soon, Luigi!”

    Those words ran through his head one last time as the world around him vanished.

    * * *​

    When Luigi finally came to, he was lying face down in mud. He groggily pulled himself up and spat out a bit that had managed to get in his mouth, looking around at his surroundings.

    He seemed to be in a forest of some kind with thick, gnarled trees everywhere he turned. That was about all that he could tell, though, as the canopy was so thick he couldn't even see if it was day or night. Squinting in the dark, he eventually spotted a bit of movement off to the side and cautiously approached. It turned out to be the squeek that had been sucked into the book with him, which had been caught in a deeper puddle of mud and was having difficulty pulling itself out of the muck.

    Luigi walked closer, intent on rescuing the poor rodent. He stopped, though, as something else shambled into view. He thought it was a person at first, but the way it moved was… unnatural. He backed away as it approached and not a moment too soon. More of them shuffled in behind the first and they closed in around the frantic squeek, which grew even more desperate in its attempt to flee. It was in vain, though, and the things practically dogpiled on top of the squeek, which let out one final cry of terror that was quickly drowned out by a series of sickening squelches and crunching.

    Luigi threw up a little as he backed away from the horrific scene, his knees trembling as he tried to figure out what to do. Then he ran. He didn't know where he was going and he didn't care, as long as he didn't run into any more of those… those things.

    He didn't know how long it was before he finally allowed himself to stop and catch his breath, but it wasn't long enough. More creatures stepped out from behind the trees and Luigi turned to run back in the other direction, but he was surrounded. The zombies, for there was no better word to describe the hideous monsters, closed around him and Luigi thought for sure that it would be his end. He wasn't any good in a fight without power-ups, and trying to punch or kick his way through would only leave his limbs vulnerable to them.

    “Help!” Luigi cried out, though he knew it was useless as there wouldn't be anyone around to hear him, let alone save him. “M-Mario!”

    It was instinctual, calling out his brother's name. Even though he knew intellectually that Mario was dead, he couldn't fight a lifetime of instinct formed from the elder brother always being there to bail him out. But now he was alone. He doubted that the others would have been able to follow him to wherever it was that he now found himself, nor did he want them to have done so. While Ridley might be able to handle himself, Roshi would be just as scared and vulnerable as Luigi in this situation, if not more so.

    A loud crack thundered through the forest, almost like a gun being fired, and one of the zombies practically exploded in front of him, followed by another. A man rushed in, carrying an old wooden torch in one hand and a whip in the other. The stranger deftly danced around the zombies, handling the whip with a graceful finesse that allowed him to dispatch the monsters in quick succession.

    “Hark, friend!” The man held up his torch once the final zombie had been slain, so that Luigi could get a good look at him. Wild, dirty blond hair fell over the man’s sharp features, partly obscuring one of his greenish-blue eyes, and he was dressed in a red and white long coat over dark clothes that almost made him look like some kind of medieval knight. “Are you unharmed?”

    Luigi looked up at the stranger sheepishly, before finally nodding his head in stunned confusion.

    “Good, I hesitate to think of what those creatures may have done if I was not here,” the man said. “What are you even doing in this forsaken place? The locals know to avoid these woods.”

    “I, uh, don’t know where we are, or how I got here,” Luigi answered honestly. “I was-a cleaning out my house when a book fell in-a front of me and I was-a sucked in.”

    “That is peculiar.” The stranger seemed to consider his words and for a moment Luigi worried that he wouldn’t believe him. “I knew there were dark magics in these lands but I know not what spells may have brought you here. I would offer to help you escape these woods but alas, I have business with the master of these lands that cannot wait. If you would accompany me, I will do my best to protect you but I cannot guarantee your safety.”

    “T-thank you,” Luigi stammered. “I-a suppose that would be the best I can hope for-a right now. I’m-a Luigi, by the way.”

    “‘Tis good to meet you, Sir Louis.” The man nodded politely. “I am known as Lord Belmont, but I would prefer that you simply call me Leon. I take it that you are a man of Italia. The Republic of Venice, perhaps?”

    Italia? Venice? Those were words that Luigi hadn’t heard in a long time. Were they back on Earth?

    “I, uh, think my family are from Genoa, actually.” Luigi wasn’t sure if he remembered that properly, though. “But I’m from New York.”

    “New… York?” Leon repeated. “I do not believe that I have heard of that province, though the name sounds English. I hail from France, myself. My family held lands in the south of Reims.”

    He hadn’t heard of New York? Even if he was French, it still seemed like he would have at least heard of the state, if not the city itself. America and France did have a history together, after all.

    “Um, where exactly are we?” Luigi asked.

    “Ah, right, I suppose you wouldn’t know if you were spirited away to this place.” Leon nodded. “We are currently in the Forest of Eternal Night, East of the Carpathian Mountains, in the Transylvania region of Hungary.”

    Transylvania? That place from all the old monster movies? Was that even a real country? Luigi was now even more confused than ever but he decided that it would be best not to get into it for the time being.

    “These lands are owned by Lord Bernhard, a vile man in league with the forces of the night,” Leon continued to explain. “I believe that he may have rejected his humanity entirely and become a creature of myth, what the people of these lands call a strigoi, or vampire to use the common term. But more importantly, he has spirited away with my betrothed, the love of my life, the lady Sara Trantoul.”

    “That’s horrible,” Luigi gasped, thinking of his own fiance, Princess Daisy. “I know that we have-a only just met and I am not sure how-a useful I will be, but as long as I’m-a here I will do what I can to help you get her back.”

    “Thank you, Sir Louis, but I cannot ask this burden of you,” Leon shook his head. “It will be far too dangerous. I know of a hut nearby, where you can stay until I am ready to escort you out of these woods. It will be the safest option for you at this time.”

    Luigi pondered the offer but shook his head. “No, I can’t just-a stand around while you’re putting yourself in danger for love. I know that I-a would do anything for my Daisy. I will do what I can.”

    Leon nodded. “Very well then, my good sir. Can you use a blade? I would lend you my sword if you are able.”

    Luigi looked at the weapon in question, hanging in its sheath from Leon’s waist.

    “I’ve used a hammer before but I can’t say that I’ve ever used a sword,” Luigi admitted.

    “Then perhaps now would not be an opportune time to learn, but we may find a more suitable weapon for you as we journey, should you still choose to fight by my side. Stick close to me for now and we shall make our way to Bernhard’s castle.”

    Luigi and Leon trudged through the dark forest, stopping only so that Leon could take down more of the zombies that seemed to pop up every few minutes. It seemed as if there were a near-infinite number of the reanimated corpses shambling about the woods and Luigi didn’t want to know what would have happened in this place to leave so many bodies.

    “I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many ghouls before,” Leon commented after slaying another wave of zombie with his whip. “Not in my homeland, nor in the march to the Holy Land with my brothers-in-arms.”

    March to the Holy Land? Leon was starting to act like he was some kind of…

    “Are you-a saying that you’re a crusader?” Luigi was finally starting to put the pieces together.

    Leon returned the question with a pained smile. “Alas, I am afraid that I was a crusader, but no longer. I had to abandon my duties in order to come here to rescue my betrothed. I only pray that God will forgive me my sin, though I am afraid there will be nothing I can do to restore my honor among men. But this is something that I must do.”

    That confirmed it. Either Leon was some kind of lost soul who’d been trapped in these woods for centuries without noticing, or Luigi had been sent back in time. He was inclined to believe the latter, though the question remained of how long ago he was.

    “What of you, my friend?” Leon asked him. “I take it that you did not take up the call of the cross, and I recognize not the make of your clothes. What did you do before being brought here by forces unknown?”

    Luigi wasn’t entirely sure how to answer that. If he really was somewhere in the medieval period, then plumbing wasn’t a thing yet and aqueducts weren’t around anymore so he couldn’t try to pass that off as an equivalent profession.

    “I-a suppose you could call me a handyman,” Luigi finally settled on. “I make repairs and such to-a people’s houses when they don’t know how to do it themselves.”

    “A noble profession,” Leon replied. “Before I took up arms, I was just a baron with a small holding. My parents died when I was young, so I ended up ruling my family’s lands since I was practically still a babe. I did my best to watch over those under my care but I can’t say that the position ever suited me properly. Although, as I have abandoned my duties to the church, my family’s lands will likely be given over to one of the neighboring lords now. I do not know what life awaits me when I return.”

    “That… certainly sounds like a lot to give up,” Luigi said as she climbed over a particularly large clump of roots. “But I’d like to think that I would have-a done the same if Daisy were in trouble. And, um, I wouldn’t be so worried about God not being able to forgive you, if I were you. I, um, have a feeling that the crusade might not have been something that he wanted.”

    “What you speak is blasphemy against the church, though I cannot say that I have not harbored my own doubts,” Leon said with a grimace, tightening his grip on his whip and torch. “The things that we’ve done… cannot be of God. Hark, I see the castle up ahead.”

    Leon pointed with the torch, and Luigi saw it in the distance. A large structure, built like some sort of fortress. He was used to seeing castles, having been to so many over the years since he and his brother had first come to the Mushroom Kingdom. But, like so many things here, something about this one felt… wrong. It wasn’t as large or intimidating in its structure and design as many of Bowser’s, yet as they continued to approach, a shiver went up his spine. Even a Ghost House wouldn’t have been as unsettling as this place.

    “Castle Berhard,” Leon said as they walked up to the drawbridge that seemed to be the only apparent entrance into the castle. “Just as Mathias said. Ms. Trantoul must be here somewhere. Now, how do we enter his domain?”

    Before they could come up with a solution, a piercing howl echoed through the woods. Luigi turned in time to see a wolf running out to them. Except it wasn't a wolf, as the beast reared itself onto its hind legs, standing twice as tall as Luigi or Leon. Of all the things that Luigi would have wanted to face, a giant werewolf certainly wasn't one of them. Then again, Leon had said that this Lord Bernhard guy might be a vampire, so it shouldn't have been that surprising.

    “Watch out!” Leon tossed his torch to the side and drew his sword in his off hand, and charged the werewolf.

    Blade met claw as man and beast faced off against each other. After a series of slashes and parries from both combatants, Leon began to gain the upper hand by repeatedly striking the beast with his whip while his sword repelled the vicious blows of its claws. Leon’s victory seemed assured until the werewolf managed a lucky blow and managed to sink its fangs into the former Knight's arm.

    Leon let out a pained scream as the beast clenched down harder, and dropped his sword. Luigi watched on in horror at the sight but eventually managed to work up the courage to act. He ran forward, headless of the danger, and picked up the fallen sword before lunging it into the lycanthrope’s side. It was a clumsy blow but it was enough to get the werewolf to release its grip and stagger back a few steps. That gave Leon the chance he needed to wrap his whip around the beast’s throat. He then took his sword back from Luigi and jumped up onto the werewolf’s shoulders, plunging his blade just above its collarbone as the werewolf gasped for breath. With a squeeze, he tightened the whip’s hold and struck again with the sword, repeating the process until the helpless monster finally fell dead on the muddy ground.

    Luigi watched in increased horror as the corpse suddenly combusted as Leon quickly hopped off of it, burning away the beast until all that was left was a charred husk. A distinctly human-looking one that was far smaller than the beast they had just slain.

    Leon knelt by the body and muttered a prayer, as Luigi had to come to grips with what had just happened. They hadn't just killed some mindless monster, but a person. Even if it was in self defense, and he wasn't the one to land the final blow, this was the first time that Luigi had ever taken a life. He soon found himself staring down at the contents of his stomach, freshly emptied onto the muddy, and bloodstained, ground.

    “I know it can be hard,” Leon placed a gentle hand on Luigi's shoulder, “but the man was already long gone, consumed by the beast in control. What we have done was a mercy, as we have freed him from his curse and returned his soul to his creator.”

    Somehow, those words didn't make Luigi feel any better about what had just happened, but he knew that he didn't have time for this. A woman was in danger and he had promised to help his new friend rescue her.

    “I… I’ll be alright,” Luigi lied as he stood up. He hadn't even realized that he had fallen to his knees.

    “Somehow, I doubt that.” Leon shook his head. “The first time is always the hardest. I still remember the look of the first man I ever killed, as this very sword punctured his lung and the life slowly drained from his body. He had been defending his home from foreign invaders, from us, and I struck him down for that. I don't think that I will ever be fine.”

    Luigi wasn't sure how to respond as Leon pointedly refused to meet his gaze, so he said nothing. The two simply walked back to the drawbridge which, to their surprise, had been lowered for them to enter.

    “It appears that Lord Bernhard is expecting us,” Leon said at last. “Once we step through this threshold, there will be no turning back until Walter has been slain and Sara has been rescued. Are you sure that you wish to accompany me on this quest? This will be your last chance to turn back.”

    “I…” Luigi hesitated, unsure of what he wanted to do. He knew that Leon would not hold it against him if didn't want to go, but he wasn't sure if he’d be willing to forgive himself for not helping a friend in need. Finally, he gathered his resolve and made his decision. “I will fight by-a your side.”

    “Thank you.” Leon placed his hand on Luigi's shoulder again. “I could not have asked for a better companion on this quest.”

    The unlikely duo turned to the ominous castle entrance, which seemed to almost exude darkness, and took their first step forward. Luigi shuddered as he stepped through the threshold, as an oily feeling washed over him and everything faded to black.

    When Luigi opened his eyes again, he found himself standing in a grand marble hallway. This didn't feel like the same castle he had just entered. It seemed somehow both more grand and yet far creepier than before. The oppressive atmosphere of the no-doubt haunted castle seemed to press down on him, unlike anything that the poor plumber had ever experienced before.

    “L-Leon?” Luigi turned back to his companion, but the knight was gone.

    Luigi was alone once again. Except he wasn't alone.

    “Hello, Luigi.”

    Luigi flinched at the sound of the familiar voice and he shakely turned around. Death hovered in front of him, clad in dark robes and with a large scythe gripped tightly in his boney hands. A spectral light burned behind his empty eye sockets, that seemed to stare directly into Luigi's soul. They probably were, for all he knew.

    “I told you that we would meet again soon,” Death said amiably as he slowly hovered closer. “I just wish that it could have been under better circumstances, but I am afraid that the Master has given me strict orders. Any who enter these halls must perish.”

    Luigi barely had time to react before the scythe in Death’s hands came swinging down. He didn't feel any pain as his body fell limply to the ground, but that was hardly a comfort to him in his final seconds.

    Luigi was dead.

    Yet this was only the beginning of his story.

    * * *​

    “Well, that was a short game. I wonder how long it will be before the next fool ventures into my realm.”

    “Do not be so quick to count him out. I sense a great strength within this one.”

    “What strength? He is already dead.”

    “You have always underestimated the power of the human spirit, Dracula, and it has always been your downfall.”

    “We shall see, though it appears that at least some of your words ring true. He stirs, and a new chapter begins.”

    To be continued…​

    Well, that was cheery. Welcome to the second spin-off of Super Ridley Bros! I know this one has a much darker tone than the original or even Dread Reckoning, but I hope you don’t mind too much.

    Just as Super Ridley Bros. was inspired by Ridley’s reveal trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, this story was inspired by the Simon and Richter reveal trailer. Of course, SRB took me so long to get through that this has completely stopped being relevant by this point, but it’s still a story that I want to tell.

    I should also note that while the story’s title is a reference to Symphony of the Night and this first chapter takes most of its cues from Lament of Innocense, the Castlevania game this is most inspired by is Harmony of Despair (and now Grimoire of Souls, which was released, sort of, after I came up with this story and builds on elements introduced in HD).
     
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  2. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Late For A Date
    (Bunnelby)
    Level 18
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2017
    Posts:
    2,584
    PokéPoints:
    ₽8,143.1
    Luigi had not been expecting to wake up again. He was dead, after all, so unless he came back as a ghost or something…

    Oh, he was a ghost. That would explain it. Being able to see his body lying on the ground off to the side was a surreal experience, especially when he was looking at it through his hand.

    He couldn't say that he had been expecting this to happen, nor that he particularly liked the idea. But mostly, he just hoped that he wasn't one of those ghosts who was stuck haunting a specific location and couldn't leave. He wanted to go home and certainly didn't want to spend the rest of his life stuck in Castle Bernhard. Or at least he assumed that's where he still was.

    There wasn't much point in sticking around where he died, so he decided to go looking for Leon. The former crusader seemed to have more experience with these sorts of things than he did, after all, and he wanted to make sure that his new friend was safe. Perhaps he could even still help rescue Sara, even in his current state.

    Before he could head deeper into the castle, however, the front doors slowly creaked open again. Luigi turned, hoping to see Leon coming in behind him.

    It wasn't.

    Four people entered the castle. The first was a man with long, dark hair and a nasty-looking scar running down the left side of his face. He was carrying a whip that looked an awful lot like Leon’s but he had a much darker disposition than the knight. He was followed by a blonde woman in vibrant blue robes who must have been a mage of some sort given the flames conjured above her hands, and a man wearing nothing but a worn set of trousers and a red bandana on his head. Bringing up the rear was a tall, white-haired man in a black coat who couldn't have looked any more like a vampire if he had tried.

    Luigi ducked behind one of the many statues that lined the great hall. He didn't know who these people were but they seemed like trouble.

    “Hmph, I was expecting more of a welcoming party,” the man with the whip said. “Are we sure that this is Dracula’s Castle?”

    “Do you think that I wouldn't recognize the place where I was raised?” the white-haired man asked. “This is definitely the right place.”

    “Maybe he doesn't know that we're here yet?” the woman suggested.

    “With the mess we made on the way here, not a chance.” The other guy pulled out a dagger. “Oi, Dracula! Get your lazy keester down here!”

    “Hm, here's a thought,” the first man sighed. “How about we don't tick off the ancient, extremely powerful vampire lord?”

    “Why, we’re ta kill ‘em anyway, ain’t we?”

    Dracula? Like the old novel? What happened to Lord Bernhard? Did he somehow get transported to some other vampire’s castle? Actually, that wasn't completely out of the question. Luigi was going to have to investigate that as soon as these people left.

    “Hm, what do we have here?”

    Luigi looked back up to see a pair of piercing red eyes staring straight at him. When had the white-haired man spotted him? Luigi let out a small scream and would have jumped if he still had a body, but instead floated away from the guy who was very definitely a vampire standing in front of him.

    “You don't look like one of my father's minions,” the man said as his companions drew closer. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

    “I-I’m Luigi.” There wasn't exactly any point in hiding his identity at this point. It could potentially provoke them if he tried. “And I’m not entirely sure. I was with a man named Leon when we were separated and I was attacked by… by Death… and then you guys showed up.”

    “Leon?” The brown-haired man perked up at that name. “What was this man's family name?”

    “What, do you know who his companion was?” the woman asked.

    “Just a hunch.”

    “B-Belmont,” Luigi stammered, which elicited a surprised reaction from the others.

    “Hey, wait,” the shirtless guy started to say, “isn't that-”

    “And did he carry a whip like this one?” The brown-haired one cut him off.

    “Yes.” Luigi nodded. “And a sword with a silver handle with rubies in it.”

    “And how long did you say that you’ve been here?”

    “I don't know for sure,” Luigi stammered. “It feels like just a few minutes but I don't know how long it was between when I died and when I woke up again. Probably not long, though, since my body's still…”

    Luigi looked over to the empty stretch of floor where he had died.

    “That’s odd.”

    “Leon Belmont died about four hundred years ago.”

    Luigi froze. That couldn’t have been right, could it? It had to have only been a few minutes, hours at most, right?

    “You know, you could have built up to that a little nicer,” the woman scolded him.

    “F-four hundred…” Luigi muttered, unable to process what he’d just been told. “That can't be… it was just a few minutes ago. Are you sure?”

    “He was one of my ancestors, so yes, I’m sure,” the man said grimly. “This is the same whip he once used, the Vampire Killer, which has been passed down my family for generations. My name is Trevor Belmont.”

    “I'm Sypha Belnades,” the woman introduced herself next. “I'm a witch and monster hunter working for the church.”

    “Grant Danasty,” the shirtless man said with a sly grin. “Thief.”

    “If we’re all introducing ourselves, then you may simply call me Alucard,” the white-haired man sighed. “As you can see, I am a dhampir, born of a vampire father and human mother. If you were an ally of Leon Belmont, then you may have known my father before he turned. He was known at the time by the name of Mathias Cronqvist, but he has gone by many names since then and is currently known as Dracula.”

    “What kind of name is Cronqvist?” Grant chuckled.

    “What kind of a name is Danasty?” Alucard countered.

    “Fair enough.”

    “I think Leon mentioned a Mathias.” Luigi wracked his brain, assuming that he still had one of those, as he tried to remember where specifically he’d heard the name. “I think he was the one who told Leon that Lord Bernhard had taken Sara. But if you're his descendant, that would mean that he managed to rescue her, right?”

    “Nope,” Trevor said bluntly with a shrug. “According to his old journals, it was already too late by the time he got there. She’d already been turned into a vampire and he was forced to kill her. Though one legend passed down by my family is that her soul is what gives the Vampire Killer its power. Don't believe it myself but either way, he eventually settled down with a Wallachian woman named Felicia, had a couple of children. I think his firstborn was named Louis, though Emil was the one who carried on the family line.”

    “Louis? But that’s what he called me,” Luigi frowned in confusion.

    “Must’ve left an impression, then. I take it you're the Genoese knight, Sir Louis, that killed a pack of werewolves single-handedly, then mysteriously disappeared?”

    “What? No! There was only one werewolf and Leon was the one who killed it… him.” Luigi pointed out. “I just helped and I'm not a knight.”

    “I guess these things tend to get exaggerated over time,” Trevor shrugged. “I know my mother, Sonia, liked to romanticize your legend.”

    “Wait, your mother was Sonia Belmont?” Alucard suddenly asked, seemingly caught off-guard.

    “Yeah, why?” Trevor asked in turn. “You know her?”

    “Never mind, there are more important things here.” Alucard hastily tried to change the subject. “Like, what are we going to do now?”

    “Plan’s still the same,” Trevor said. “Storm the castle, fight whatever gets in the way, kill your dad. ‘Sir Louis’ here is free to tag along if he wants. Doubt he’ll be much help, though, in his current state.”

    “Probably not,” Luigi agreed. “But if there is anything I can do, I’ll try to help. I owe Leon my life, even if it didn't exactly last long, and I wasn't able to repay that debt when he was still here.”

    “Hm, perhaps that's why you remained here as a ghost,” Alucard speculated. “Fulfilling this life debt may allow you to pass on.”

    “Come on, we’re wasting time,” Grant said impatiently. “Let's just go already.”

    With that, the group of apparent vampire hunters set off deeper into the castle. As soon as they stepped, or floated in Luigi's case, into the next room they were attacked by a horde of zombies. Trevor’s whip lashed out at once, taking down three of the rotten corpses in one blow before he advanced. Luigi noted that while his form wasn't as refined as Leon's had been, Trevor seemed to be just as adept with the whip if not even more so. Meanwhile, Trevor's companions weren't exactly slouches, either. Sypha used her magic to conjure up giant spikes of ice that she launched at the monsters, not even needing a wand like the magic users that Luigi was familiar with, while Grant unleashed a flurry of knives and Alucard practically danced across the room with his sword. Luigi just ended up watching, unable to do anything else but hover above them.

    Despite how quickly they plowed through the horde, more and more of the oozing corpses seemed to rise up from the floor. It was clear that they weren't going to be able to thin down the enemy’s ranks, so Trevor and the others simply fought their way across instead. After a few minutes of fighting, they finally managed to reach the stairs leading up to the next hallway.

    “Not much of a challenge,” Grant said as they walked up the steps. “We sure this Dracula guy is actually here?”

    “He’s here,” Alucard said grimly. “I can feel his presence, like an overwhelming pressure bearing down on everything.”

    “I guess he wasn't expecting anyone to be crazy enough to come barging in while his forces are out there tearing up the countryside,” Trevor replied. “Only left the weaklings to defend the place.”

    “I wouldn't be so sure about that,” Sypha shook her head. “I have a feeling that the stronger monsters are going to be deeper in.”

    “Most likely,” Alucard agreed. “If I know my father, and unfortunately I do, then he's just toying with us. Probably doesn't even consider us a threat.”

    That certainly seemed foreboding. Luigi was starting to wonder just what it was that he’d agreed to help with.

    “So, what exactly is going on?” Luigi finally asked.

    “Oh, right, I guess we haven't explained,” Sypha looked up at the ghost of Luigi, a somber look on her face. “Dracula has amassed the largest army of monsters the world has ever seen and has sent them out to destroy everything. Villages have been burned to the ground and innocent people are being killed in droves. They say that he's declared war on humanity.”

    “That's awful.” It was an understatement to be sure but Luigi wasn't sure what else to say to that. “What would bring someone to do that?”

    “What's it matter?” Grant huffed. “What's important is that he is, and we need to stop ‘im.”

    “My mother was killed by humans,” Alucard explained. “Burned as a witch once people heard that she had married a vampire. He had been on the path to redemption. I didn't even know what a monster he had been before he had met her. But a part of him died with her. It broke him.”

    “I think I'm with Grant on this one,” Trevor grunted as they reached the top of the stairs and headed into the next chamber. “All that matters is that we put an end to this.”

    They were attacked by skeletons this time, of all shapes and sizes. Most of them didn't put up any more of a fight than the zombies but others seemed stronger, more resilient. It still wasn't much of a challenge but Luigi still felt that he needed to find a way to help.

    “Think, Luigi, think,” Luigi muttered to himself as he looked down at the battle below. “What can a ghost do?”

    The boos back home could physically interact with the world around them but that didn't seem to be the case here. He tried grabbing one of the skeletons but his hands simply passed right through. It was almost like he wasn't even a part of this world at all, which he supposed in a way he wasn't. Possession, maybe? He just passed through another skeleton when he tried. He couldn't even distract them as they simply ignored his presence altogether.

    The final skeleton fell with a strike of the Belmont family whip, and the team regrouped by the doors leading to the next room. So much for Luigi being able to help out. He lowered himself beside the others as they walked towards the doors. Maybe if they ran into any other ghosts, then he’d be able to help out?

    * * *​

    “Do you see? This pathetic excuse for a man will not be able to do anything in his current state. This game is already won. Continuing is merely a waste of time.”

    “We have all the time to waste. Please, humor me.”

    “Very well. I believe this chapter ended with the Belmont and his allies fighting Death. Perhaps he will be able to finish the job that he left half-done.”

    “Perhaps, or perhaps not. We shall see.”

    * * *​

    “Just how big is this stupid castle,” Grant complained as they cleared out another room and progressed to the next. This one seemed to be empty, which would give the mortals in their group a chance to rest and recover before they continued. It felt weird to Luigi that he couldn't be counted among them.

    “It is impossible to say,” Alucard replied, leaning against the wall. Luigi suspected that the half-vampire didn't need to catch his breath and was merely waiting for the others to do so, much like Luigi himself. “My father's castle is not so much a physical location as it is a creature of chaos. It is constantly changing and does not conform to the laws of reality as you would understand them. Even when Walter Bernhard was still its master, it was an unnatural place and that has only grown more true since my father took it over.”

    “What?” Grant just stared at him. “Bull.”

    “Believe what you will, it does not affect the truth.” Alucard turned to Luigi. “What of you, my friend? How are you faring in all of this?”

    “I wish that I could do more to help,” Luigi admitted. “It feels like I’m not even doing anything.”

    “Understandable.” Alucard nodded.

    The two undead, assuming that Alucard counted in that category, stared in silence as the living humans gathered around the center of the room, where Sypha had set off a magical fire for them to sit around. Luigi noticed that she leaned her head against Trevor's shoulder and briefly wondered if there was anything going on between them but it wasn't his place to pry.

    “Shouldn't you be with them?” Luigi asked after a while, turning back to Alucard.

    “Why? I am not one of them,” Alucard replied, continuing to stare in the direction of the others. It seemed to Luigi that his gaze mostly focused on Trevor, though. “I never was and never will be.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “As I explained before, I am a dhampir. I was born of the union between a mortal and the undead, something which should be impossible, and as a result, I am neither.” Alucard sighed and finally turned to face Luigi. “You were once a mortal man, yes? I cannot say the same. I thought that I could live as one, for a time, but I was wrong. I’m just a monster.”

    Luigi opened his mouth to speak but stopped. He took a moment to think about what he had to say, before finally saying it.

    “Even if you were a monster, that wouldn't mean that you're not a person. My brother died… well, I guess it wasn’t that recently but to me it still feels like it just happened. It hurts a lot, to think about how he's gone, but my friends have helped me to get through it. One of those friends is a… sort of purple dragon-y thing, I’m not sure how to describe him. Anyway, he was apparently a really nasty pirate before I met him. I've heard stories of some of the things he did before and… it’s not pretty. He even calls himself a monster but in the time that I’ve known him, he’s been anything but. Sure, he has a bit of a nasty sense of humor sometimes but he's been there for all of us when we need it and has even helped put an end to a war between two countries that have been fighting since before I first got there.”

    “Good for him but I don't see what that has to do for me,” Alucard replied stiffly.

    “The point that I was trying to make is that it's what you do that's important, not what you are. And even if you’ve done bad things in the past, as long as you regret those actions and work to change, there's always hope to be better.”

    “A noble sentiment. Thank you.” Alucard nodded slightly. “Although I am not so optimistic as to believe that everyone is capable of redemption. Sometimes a monster will always be a monster and needs to be put down. Do not assume that we will be able to simply talk things out with my father.”

    “I believe that everyone deserves a second chance,” Luigi sighed. “But I know that not everyone will take it when offered. It's not like I have much say in anything right now but if it comes to that, I’ll respect that choice. But it can't be easy, having to fight your dad.”

    “No, no it is not,” Alucard admitted, grimacing as he tightened his grip on the hilt of his sheathed sword. “A part of me does wish that I could convince him to abandon his foolish war and live as Mother would have wished him to but I know that won't happen.”

    “Well, at least you have friends by your side to help you,” Luigi pointed out.

    “Allies,” the pale man corrected him, a sense of pain buried deep beneath his eyes. “I don’t have friends, it… I will likely outlive not just these people but their grandchildren’s grandchildren. Such fleeting relations would be… painful… if I allowed myself to grow too attached.”

    “Oh,” Luigi glanced down at his feet. He’d never considered what it would be like to live that long. Perhaps that's why Rosalina always seemed so standoffish? “Well, maybe I could be your friend? I don't think I’m going to be going anywhere anytime soon.”

    “Hmm…” Alucard took a moment to consider the offer. “Perhaps, after this is all over, I might consider that offer.”

    They ended up waiting for around an hour, by Luigi's estimate, since no one knew for sure when or if they'd have another chance to rest. Luigi had wondered if they should have gotten a move on earlier but Trevor had pointed out that defeating Dracula wouldn't stop his armies that had already been set loose across Europe, which meant that taking a little extra time wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but that rushing things could lead to disaster. Getting the job done was more important than getting it done fast, after all.

    Once everyone was ready, they put out the fire and gathered around the door to the next room. The living humans in their group certainly seemed refreshed so clearly the rest must have done them some good.

    “Alright, everyone ready?” Trevor asked, though he already knew the answer. No one objected, so he pushed on the large double doors. They didn’t budge. Everyone worked together but they still couldn’t get the doors to open. “What’s going on here?”

    “Oh, you didn’t think I would allow you to pass, did you?” The voice was all too familiar to Luigi at this point but the tone was off. He’d never heard Death speak with such malice before. “I’m afraid that you won’t be getting in the way of my master’s plans anytime soon.”

    A blue flame burst into life in the air above the center of the previously empty room they had been attempting to leave, growing and shifting into a vaguely human form before dissipating to reveal the cloaked figure. His dark blue robes were tattered and seemed to be of a simpler make than the clothes that Luigi had previously seen the reaper wear but it was hard to mistake the floating, legless skeleton carrying an ornate scythe in his hands. There was definitely something very wrong about him, though. In his previous encounters with Death, Luigi had never felt this level of malevolence that seemed to radiate off him at the moment. Even when he had come to take Luigi’s life, he had seemed rather amiable.

    “What are you supposed to be, the Grim Reaper?” Trevor asked sarcastically, readying his whip.

    “That’s exactly who he is,” Alucard pointed out. “You could say that he’s like my father’s old drinking buddy.”

    “Dracula and Death sitting in a bar, now there’s an image,” Grant chuckled. “So, I guess we’re killing Death, then?”

    “I can’t imagine that it would be as simple as that.” Sypha shook her head and raised her hands, sparks emitting from her fingertips. “But we must do our best.”

    “Good luck out there,” Luigi said, and the fight broke loose.

    Trevor’s whip lashed through the air at sonic speeds, the resulting crack echoing like thunder. Death merely dove out of the way and took a swing with his scythe at Grant, who jumped back and tossed a knife that passed harmlessly between Death’s ribs. Sypha thrust her hand out and a blast of lightning fired from it. Death dodged out of the way, straight into the path of a second bolt fired from Sypha’s other hand. That gave Alucard the opening he needed to lunge forward with his sword, an upward slash cutting through the grim reaper’s robes. Trevor managed to wrap his whip around Death’s left arm, which seemed to let off smoke where it made contact. It seemed that they were already getting the upper hand in this fight.

    Then, with a wave of his scythe with his free hand, Death conjured a barrage of smaller sickles that arced through the air in a spiral pattern. The attackers were forced to disengage to avoid getting hit, allowing Death to retake control of the battle. Things were starting to look grim, pun unintended.

    Sypha tossed a few fireballs that each collided with one of the sickles, causing them to burst in small explosions of magical force. With that obstacle out of the way, the melee fighters pulled in close again. Death was ready for them this time, however, and managed to avoid getting caught in Trevor’s whip this time before striking at Alucard with his scythe. The dhampir parried the blow with his sword but that left him vulnerable as more sickles flew out from under Death’s robes. Alucard stumbled back awkwardly as he tried to avoid getting hit, while Trevor wasn’t so lucky and took a glancing blow to the arm. It was enough to draw blood and the flesh around the cut seemed to grow dark. The blades must have been infected with some sort of poison or curse.

    One of Grant’s throwing knives hit its mark, getting caught in Death’s right eye socket. It didn’t seem to do much other than draw his attention but that was enough to allow Trevor to regroup with Sypha. The witch ran her hands along his injured arm and a black smoke rose up from the infection as the cut seeled itself back up. It looked like it left a thin scar but Trevor seemed otherwise unharmed.

    It was hard for Luigi to watch this go on in front of him without being able to do anything to help. Surely, there had to be something that he could do.

    Grant made a run for the far end of the room as Death pursued him, scythe bared over his head and ready to swing down like an executioner’s ax. Luigi reacted without thinking, flying after them as Alucard also made to pursue. After a few more blows were exchanged, Grant found himself backed into a corner as Death came ever closer. Trevor lashed at the chthonic personification but Death barely reacted as the whip lashed his back. Luigi reached them just as Death’s scythe slashed downward towards the self-proclaimed thief and he reflexively held up his hands as if to block the blade. He closed his eyes, expecting the worst.

    When Luigi opened his eyes again a moment later, he found that he had managed to grab Death’s scythe by the handle and was holding it up, preventing the skeletal being from attacking. Alucard’s blade slashed along his ribs, one of Sypha’s ice spears struck him in the back of the head and Trevor’s whip wrapped around Death’s neck.

    Luigi stared up into Death’s eyeless sockets, and the blue flames burning with hatred behind them. His skull’s rictus-like grin seemed to hold nothing but contempt and murderous intent as he pushed harder against Luigi. However, as Luigi struggled against him, something seemed to give way and for a moment he thought he caught a glimpse of something else behind Death’s expression before suddenly he seemed to stop resisting for just long enough that Luigi was able to pull the scythe out from his grip entirely.

    Stunned, Death backed away from the group, rising higher into the air. Whatever had come over him seemed to have dissipated just as quickly and Luigi could almost feel the anger and hatred radiating off him.

    “You fools think that you can defeat me?” Death cackled wildly as the sounds of bones snapping and breaking filled the chamber. “I am Death, the end, destroyer of worlds and the one who comes for you all. This has only been the beginning but I shall now bring this to a close, as is the order of all things. Know fear and perish, mortals.”

    Death seemed to spasm wildly as the bones that made up his form continued to crack and distort. It was hard to watch, as Death’s ribcage elongated into an almost centipede-like body, his fingers fused together and grew into scythe-like blades that almost resembled the arms of a praying mantis, and spiky protrusions erupted from around the shoulder plates of his increasingly hulking form. The thing that now faced them no longer resembled a humanoid form to any capacity safe for the glowing skull, being more bug-like in its monstrous appearance than anything else. Luigi was sure that he would have wet himself at the mere sight of the creature if he still had a functioning bladder.

    “You will die.”


    * * *​

    “That didn’t happen.”

    “No, but this is my world which means my rules. Why not make the game a bit more interesting? You still seem confident in our guest’s chances, though.”

    “I am sure that he will find a way.”

    * * *​

    Death, or the hideous bug monster that had taken its place, sped through the air like an oncoming train, slashing its scythe-like hands as it chased down Luigi and his allies. Trying to dodge its attacks was growing harder by the second and he wasn’t sure how much longer they were going to be able to hold on.

    “Any- anyone have a- anyone have a plan?” Grant gasped, barely able to keep running.

    “I’m fresh out!” Trevor yelled back, pulling Sypha along with him. Of the three mortals of the group, he seemed to have the most stamina but even he was clearly growing tired.

    “This isn’t getting us anywhere,” Alucard slid to a stop and turned around. “I’m going to try and distract it.”

    He jumped and shot up into the air, higher than his legs should have carried him, before plunging his sword down into Death’s skull. The creature barely slowed down from the blow and seemed to ignore him entirely, continuing to chase after the others. Luigi drew a deep breath, out of reflex as he lacked any physical need to breathe, and gripped the scythe in his hands tightly. He was utterly terrified but he knew that he was going to have to fight as well if he wanted to make sure that the others made it out of this alive.

    Stealing his resolve, Luigi followed Alucard’s example and flew high into the air to avoid the slashing blades before diving down to strike. He was still rather clumsy in his new form, not being used to flying about under his own power, and overshot his mark. He ended up slashing the scythe into one of Death’s overgrown, spiky vertebrae. To his surprise, both the backbone and attached ribs were instantly destroyed by the attack, the remaining length of its tail-like structure shifting forward to reconnect with its front half. It seemed that they had a way to weaken it after all.

    “Hey, guys!” Luigi called out. “Its spine is its weakness! We can shrink its body by attacking it!”

    With that, the three humans split up so that Death couldn’t follow them properly and were able to run around to rejoin the fight properly. All five of them took turns striking the segments of the long creature, gradually chipping away at its body. Unfortunately, Death’s attacks only grew faster and more ferocious the more damage that it took. Eventually, however, they managed to shrink Death down to a much more manageable size.

    Of course, ‘more manageable size’ was still giant.

    The hulking figure of Death continued to lash out with its giant scythe hands, which were becoming harder and harder for them to dodge out of the way of. The monster managed to back Sypha up into a corner and was just about to finish her off when Trevor managed to wrap his whip around its neck and gave a mighty pull. He managed to disrupt Death’s attack enough that it went wide and clashed against a wall instead, but the Death beast wasn’t incapacitated for long. It turned around and began charging towards the Belmont. Luigi acted quickly, raising Death’s scythe and slashing it across the monster’s chest.

    Death let out an inhuman bellow, an echoey, hollow noise that sounded unnatural even by the standards of this place and writhed about wildly. It seemed that Luigi had finally struck the definitive blow. With one final howl, the creature of bone and malice reared back its head and promptly exploded into a pool of black ink.

    Not exactly the reaction that Luigi had expected, but at least it was finally gone.

    “Well, that could have gone better,” Grant huffed as he limped over to the others. “What even was that?”

    “I do not know.” Alucard shook his head, staring down at the murky puddle that had been their opponent just a moment ago. “I do not believe that I have ever seen anything like that happen before.”

    Trevor poked his boot into the edge of the inky mass. “Well, at least it’s dead now. What’s next?”

    Sypha uttered a quick prayer that Luigi didn’t quite catch before walking up to the others. “Whatever we face, but face together. Let no devil or enemy of God stand in the way of our mission.”

    “I feel sorry for anything that does,” Grant chuckled. “Now, who’s up for round two?”

    “I just hope that we won’t have to fight anything like that again soon.” Luigi floated down to them, still holding on to Death’s scythe. “I think that I’ve had all that I can handle for one day.”

    “Only one way to find out.” Trevor began walking back up to the doors leading to the next room.

    The others reluctantly followed him. There wasn’t much else they could do at the moment, after all, but move forward. Luigi was the last to pass through the opened doors.

    Once again, he found himself alone.

    To be continued…​
    Oh, no! Death killed Luigi’s accent! When I started Super Ridley Bros. so many years ago I had decided to try writing out Mario and Luigi’s Italian accents but quickly grew to regret that decision but I had to keep it up for the sake of consistency. I’d actually been planning for a while now to drop Luigi’s accent with this story and while I did briefly consider having the accent gone already when the story starts, I quickly decided to have Luigi’s accent go away when Death kills him. Not entirely sure why but it felt right. If you want, you can still imagine that he has the accent but I’m just not writing it anymore because I found it annoying and probably wasn’t that accurate to begin with.

    I was originally going to have Luigi die during the Death boss fight in this chapter but felt that it made more sense to end the first chapter with it. But then when I got to the boss fight here, I realized that I didn’t really have enough going on, so I ended up adding an unplanned second phase of the battle. Death’s second form here is based mostly off of Harmony of Dissonance’s second phase of his boss battle, with elements of Lords of Shadow 2’s depiction of Death thrown in to make him even more monstrous. I also hadn’t been planning on Luigi getting Death’s scythe but I realized that Luigi couldn’t really do anything at this point in the story but offer emotional support, which will be important for later chapters but would mean that he’d essentially be sitting out of all of the fight scenes, which didn’t feel quite right. Now the question is, how long will he be able to hold on to this new weapon?

    I would be lying if I said that I didn’t take some inspiration from the Netflix series when writing the Dracula’s Curse gang but I tried to mostly stick to the game’s lore with details such as Sypha being a witch hired by the church and Grant existing at all (apparently the showrunner didn’t realize that Grant being called a pirate in early English material was a localization error and thought that he wouldn’t fit in a landlocked country, thought personally I think the character dynamics work a bit better without him so I’m not really going to complain). I’ve also been doing some extensive note-taking on the Castlevania timeline as it would have happened in the Ridleyverse even though most of it's not going to come up. I spliced in elements from various non-canon games, for example, Gabriel Belmont existed in this timeline and was a knight of the Brotherhood of Light as per Lords of Shadow, but instead of going on a big quest (which would have been different since the Lords of Shadow themselves don’t exist in this timeline) and becoming Dracula, he ended up rescuing the King of France from monsters and was offered a Barony as thanks, retiring from the adventuring life with his wife Marie. That was rather short-lived, though, as Gabriel and Marie were Leon’s grandparents and I already covered what happened to him and his family back in chapter 1. Also, as mentioned in this chapter, Sonia existed in this timeline as Trevor’s mother and went on a quest to fight a vampire with Alucard, but it wasn’t Dracula (who was still happily living with a not-yet-executed Lisa at the time) but the infamous French knight-turned-serial killer Gilles de Rais. I’m not sure why I’ve put all this effort into it since chances are none of this is going to come up, but I did.

    Oh, and the reason that Leon referred to Luigi as Louis (the ‘s’ is silent) is because its the French form of the name Luigi. It’s not intended as a slight against him, like Bowser and his minions constantly getting his name wrong back in Super Ridley Bros, but just Leon using a variant of the name that’s more familiar to him.
     
  3. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Late For A Date
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    Luigi was alone again. There was no sign that Trevor, Alucard or the others had even been there. If it weren't for the macabre scythe still clutched in his transparent hands, it would be as if his adventure so far hadn't even happened. Even the castle itself felt different. The open, grand hallways of before were replaced with arched ceilings and large, stained glass windows. The air was suffocating and there was an overwhelming sense of oppression bearing down on him.

    Luigi turned back to look for the others and the door opened behind him. A man walked through them, burly and getting up in years. His long, dirty blond hair was graying at the sides and his chiseled features were beginning to wrinkle, though his well-toned form and moderate tan showed that he was still very active. He wore worn, leathery brown armor that left his upper arms and legs exposed, and a familiar whip was hanging from his hip.

    The doors closed behind him and the new arrival pulled out the Vampire Killer as he noticed Luigi.

    “Hark, who goes there?” the man asked. “Wait, I recognize you… mustache, big nose… are you Sir Luigi?”

    “I-I, yes, I am,” Luigi stammered. “Who are you? What happened to Trevor and the others?”

    The man let out a gentle sigh, a concerned look on his face.

    “I am afraid that Trevor Belmont passed away when I was still just a boy and I have not seen Grandma Sypha in many years but last I heard that she was training a coven of young witches somewhere out in the countryside. Alucard sealed himself away shortly after Dracula's defeat and has not been seen since. I do not know of Grant Danasty’s fate.”

    “When you were a boy? Grandma?” Luigi began to panic. “H-how long has it been?”

    “Over a century,” the man confirmed. “My name is Christopher Belmont, great-grandson of Trevor and Sypha.”

    “Over a century?” Luigi curled up into the fetal position, hovering just a couple of inches above the floor. “But it was with them just a moment ago. What happened?”

    “I am afraid that I do not know.” Christopher knelt beside him and made to put his hand comfortingly on Luigi’s shoulder but stopped, apparently realizing that the distressed ghost didn't have a physical form. “I can't imagine what this must be like. I wish I could be here to help you through this but I am afraid that I have urgent business that I must attend to.”

    “W-what is it?” Luigi looked up, realizing that there was no point in sitting around and sulking. “Can I help?”

    Christopher looked at Luigi with a pained expression, glancing uneasily at the scythe still in his hands.

    “I do not think so.” He shook his head. “You may come if you wish but be advised that you will likely not be able to… lend a hand, so to speak.”

    Luigi nodded, noticing that Christopher seemed to almost be crying. “What's wrong?”

    “It is my eldest son, Soliel,” he said with a grimace. “He has recently come of age and we had prepared a ceremony for him to become the new wielder of the Vampire Killer whilst I step aside from the position to merely lend him my aid as he learns how to fight on his own, but… but…”

    There was no ‘almost’ anymore, Christopher was breaking down into tears.

    “It was that infernal Dracula!” He shouted, genuine anger in his voice. “It seems that no matter how many times we put him in his grave, he still finds ways to haunt our family!”

    “Dracula?” That was not a name that Luigi expected or wanted to hear. “But didn't Trevor and the others stop him?”

    “They did.” Christopher nodded grimly. “After you had disappeared, my ancestors and their allies fought their way up to his throne room and slayed the Son of the Dragon. They believed, as we all have since then, that it was the end of it. Other monsters and vampires still prowled the night, of course, but we did not expect another force such as him to terrorize the world once again. But then, when I was a young man, on the hundredth anniversary of his defeat, Dracula returned to this world. I do not know how or why he did but I was sent to finish what my ancestors started and slay Dracula once again. I did so, or at least I thought that I did but it seemed that the vampire had placed a curse upon my line. During the ceremony, before I could hand Soliel the whip, Dracula manifested himself through the curse and took my boy. Possessed Soleil and spirited him away.”

    “T-that’s terrible.” Luigi wasn’t sure what else to say. He could only imagine what it must feel like to lose a child like that, having not had the opportunity to become a father himself yet before getting whisked away to this place and having his life taken from him. He and Daisy hadn’t even discussed if they wanted to have kids together. Now it seemed likely that he’d never have the opportunity.

    “That’s why I’ve come back to this forsaken castle,” Christopher said as he stood back up, resolve returning to his voice. “I must break Dracula’s control on my son and bring him back. I may not have any experience with breaking curses or possession but I must do what I can to rescue Soleil.”

    “And I’ll do whatever I can to help.” Luigi did what he could to gather his own courage. “Even if all I can lend you is my presence, I will support you.”

    “Thank you, Sir Luigi.” Christopher nodded. “You truly live up to the reputation that you’ve built up among my family. Well, perhaps not live…”

    “I understood what you meant.” Luigi floated up, ready to go. “Let’s go rescue your son.”

    “At once.”

    Christopher marched to the next set of doors and shoved them open. Luigi followed close behind as they entered the darkened cathedral that awaited them on the other side.

    The floor was lined with rows of old church pews, all facing toward a podium set up at the far end of the room. A massive stained glass window was set into the wall behind it, depicting a white-haired man in a black and red suit that Luigi assumed must have been Dracula. More important than that, however, was the blond young man standing next to the podium, who couldn’t have been more than a teenager.

    “So, you have come,” the man spoke with two different voices at once. “I am surprised that you were able to make it here, Father. But it does not matter. There is nothing that you can do now to stop Dracula’s resurrection. You cannot defeat me but even if you did, it is far too late.”

    “Soleil!” Christopher called out, a tear falling down his cheek. “Soleil, snap out of it! He is controlling you!”

    “It does not matter, Father!” Soleil raised a whip above his head. Unlike the simple, dark leather Vampire Killer that Leon, Trevor and now Christopher wielded, this one was made up of a red arrowhead at the end of a spiked chain, attached to an ornate metal handle and with a pair of barbs sticking out above a dark red grip. “The Belmont legacy ends here!”

    The possessed boy lashed out with his whip, the barbed chain flying through the air towards Christopher, who ducked behind a pew. The weapon managed to break off a sizable chunk of the wooden bunch. Luigi flew up above them and watched with horror as the fight broke out.

    Soleil ran up to where he had last seen his father, but Christopher had rolled under the benches and was now near the front of the chapel, standing up and striking with the Vampire Killer. The boy let out a demonic cry as it slashed across his right shoulder and he took a swing at Christopher. The red spike at the end of the chain managed to graze his forearm but the experienced hunter ignored the pain. Or perhaps the adrenaline and destress drowned it out, Luigi couldn’t be certain. The two exchanged blows a few more times and a shower of wooden splinters rained down from the mess. It was hard to watch but Luigi forced himself to stay focused.

    “Soleil!” Luigi cried out, not sure what else to do. He’d never been in this sort of situation before. “I know you’re in there somewhere, right? Try to fight it!”

    “I am fighting!” Soleil turned his attention to Luigi and swung his whip. Luigi was surprised that the weapon actually hurt him as it lashed against his chest. Pain seeped in but he tried his best to follow Christopher’s example and ignore it. “Fighting you!”

    Out of options, Luigi entered the fray himself. He didn’t dare use Death’s Scythe against the boy, the goal was to save him, not kill him, but he could at least distract Soleil so that Christopher could get an opening. Soleil attacked Luigi again, who used the scythe to block it. The chain wrapped around his blade and Luigi pulled, causing the boy to stumble. That gave Christopher a chance to strike Soleil from behind with the Vampire Killer. Soleil let out another scream of anger before managing to wrest his whip free and turning around. Luigi took the opportunity to dive down and grab Soleil from behind. The possessed Belmont struggled to break free but Luigi did his best to hold firm.

    “Christopher, now!” Luigi shouted.

    The elder Belmont raised the Vampire Killer above his head, anger burning behind his eyes as he prepared to strike. Then he hesitated as he looked into his son’s eyes and realized just what he was doing. The anger was quickly replaced with growing horror and he took a step back. That gave Soleil the chance he needed to break free from Luigi’s hold and lash out with his chain whip, slashing a deep cut into Christopher’s face.

    “Even together, you cannot defeat me!” Soleil’s voice was still tinged with that unsettling double effect. It was as if you could hear both the boy and the vampire controlling him speak in unison. “Give up now and I may make your deaths painless.”

    “Soleil, please, stop this madness at once!” Christopher cried out, tears and blood alike running down his face at this point. “It’s me, you father! Please!”

    “You are pathetic.” Soleil took a step forward. Luigi charged, ready to do something, anything, to stop him, but he somehow saw it coming and managed to wrap his whip around Luigi, slamming him into Christopher and knocking both men down. “Look at you there, groveling and begging. What would your ancestors think if they saw you now?”

    “Soleil, my son…”

    The boy looked down at them with red eyes and a fanged smile. Luigi hadn’t even noticed until this point that he’d been turned into a vampire already. Or perhaps it was just a side effect of being possessed by one?

    “Your son is gone.” Soleil, or Dracula, or whoever said. “And now you will both meet your end at the hands of my Death Mercury!”

    * * *​

    “This fight is always hard to watch.”

    “I still consider it to be one of my finest moments.”

    “You are a cruel monster, Dracula.”

    “I know, and it looks like I’ve won our little game here once again.”

    “Not yet. He still has a chance to overcome this.”

    “I’d like to see him try.”

    * * *​

    Soleil slowly walked up to them, brandishing his whip. Luigi knew that he had to do something but had no idea what. Scrambling around, he felt his hand brush up against something and looked down to see the Vampire Killer on the floor, which had been knocked out of Christopher’s hands at some point. He absently picked up the whip and his panic slowly subsided, replaced with a sense of calm, clarity and reassurance. With newfound strength, he held the whip up to the crying warrior beside him.

    “Come on, Christopher, we can still do this!” he said. “I know that we can still save him.”

    “We have already tried everything.” Christopher accepted the whip from him, despite his outward protests. “You saw it too, did you not? He is already too far gone.”

    “That just means that we have to try harder!” Luigi held up Death’s Scythe and gripped it with both hands. “And even if we can’t bring him back, we can at least release him from Dracula’s curse.”

    “Of course.” Christopher finally stood up. “I am sorry, Soleil, but it seems that this is the only way.”

    “Oh, so you’ve finally decided to man up and kill your own son?” Soleil mocked. “Just try it, you old fool. I’m far stronger than you’ve even been- gah!

    Soleil let out a startled cry as the Vampire Killer tore clean through the fabric of his loose tunic and opened up a bloody gash across his chest.

    “You’re serious?” Soleil looked up at the two in panic. “I thought you were bluffing? Are you really prepared to kill Soleil?”

    “It is what he would have wanted,” Christopher said solemnly. “I wish it didn’t have to come to this but you have left us with no other choice, Dracula. It is my duty, as a Belmont and as a father, to strike you down here and now! Die, monster! Return from whence you came!”

    The first gash was already in the process of healing at a rate far behind what any human would be capable of when Christopher slashed open another with his whip. The possessed vampire let out an inhuman hiss and jumped back, spinning Death Mercury through the air to parry a third attack.

    “Fine, then I suppose that I’ll have to get serious!” A showy aura grew out from the vampire’s back and his movements seemed to grow both faster and stronger than before.

    It was all that Luigi could do just to keep up with the frantic monster. The spiked chain of his whip arced and slashed through the air like it had a mind of its own. Christopher was able to react in time and fight back. Luigi, however, found himself frequently getting hit by the dark, probably magical weapon. His current, ghostly form seemed to be far more durable than his old body of flesh and blood but even still, he wasn't sure how long he'd be able to hold out.

    Christopher managed to get in another good hit, slashing open a huge gash across vampire Soleil’s right bicep. That gave them a moment before Soleil would be able to attack again and Christopher pressed that advantage by running up to the boy and physically prying the dark whip from his hand, tossing the vile weapon aside and pulling his son into a tight hug with all of his strength.

    “Come on, Soleil! I know you are in there somewhere!” he cried desperately.

    “Let me go!” The vampire struggled against his father's grip, eventually resorting to biting into the man's shoulder.

    “Give me back my boy!” Christopher flinched but refused to let go.

    “Never!” Soleil hissed.

    Luigi looked back and forth between the two, not sure what to do. He knew that he needed to help, but how?

    The dark aura still protruded out from the vampire's back as he continued to draw upon his unnatural strength, flickering like shadowy flames in the dim light filtering through the window. It looked almost as if there were a face hidden within, glowering at Christopher with a look of utter contempt. The feeling it exuded reminded Luigi of how Death had felt during their battle, practically just a few minutes ago from his perspective despite over a century having passed.

    Wait a minute, that was a face behind Soleil. A vaguely familiar one at that. Luigi glanced back up at the stained glass mural set into the wall behind him. The depiction of Dracula it showed had the same, horrible red eyes. Suddenly Luigi realized what was going on and quickly figured out what it was that he needed to do.

    He tightened his grip on the scythe in his hands and readied his stance. Then he lunged forward and swung down, directly behind the struggling Soleil. The blade snagged onto something solid and ripped through it, a piercing howl screeching through the chapel. The boy slumped into his father's arms as a shadowy figure stumbled back, red eyes glaring at Luigi. The silent being backed away into a corner, leaving Luigi with the two Belmonts.

    “Soleil!” Christopher called out desperately as he gently shook his son back to consciousness.

    “Huh, Papa?” The boy’s eyelids slowly flickered open. “W-what happened? Where are we? I- Oh, no! What did I do?”

    “It's okay, my son.” Christopher hugged Soleil even closer, tears streaming down his face once again but this time from happiness. “Dracula was controlling you but we’ve freed you from his curse. You're free now.”

    Luigi let out a reflexive sigh of relief, glad that they'd finally been able to rescue the boy. It was satisfying to have finally been able to accomplish what he'd promised to help with for the first time since this crazy thing had started.

    “No, you don't understand!” Soleil gasped desperately. “I’ve already played my part in Dracula's resurrection! This whole fight was just his way of distracting you while his minions finished the ritual. It will already be too late to stop it at this point.”

    “No!” Christopher punched the floor in anger after finally releasing his hold on his son. “Curse that Dracula!”

    “What do we do now, Papa?” Soleil asked as the two both slowly stood up.

    “The only thing that we can.” Christopher placed his hand firmly on the boy's shoulder. “I have already defeated Dracula once before on my own. I am certain that he will be no match for the three of us working together.”

    “I would like to help but I don't think that I’ll be able to.” Luigi floated over to them. “If things go the way they have been, then I’m worried that as soon as I leave this room, I'm probably going to get sent further into the future again.”

    “Wait, are you Luigi? From the stories?” Soleil asked, just noticing their ghostly companion.

    “Yes, I ran into him just before I got here and he was instrumental in freeing you from Dracula’s grasp,” Christopher nodded, then turned to Luigi. “Thank you. I will never be able to repay what you’ve done for us.”

    “Oh, it was nothing.” Luigi scratched the back of his head nervously, feeling a bit uncomfortable at the praise. “I'm just glad that I could actually help for once. I'm sure that you can defeat Dracula together.”

    “Oh, I wouldn't count on that.”

    All three turned back to the corner of the room, where the shadow of Dracula looked over them.

    “What, did you forget about me already?” it asked, a mocking tone in its voice. “You may have gotten lucky when you faced me before, Christopher Belmont, but neither you nor your foolish son will do so again. And as for you, ghost. You do not belong here at all. Leave this place at once!”

    Luigi barely had time to react before the shadowy specter charged forward. A black, fiery mass rammed into him with intense force. If he were still a living being, it would have knocked the wind clear out of his lungs and probably broken a few ribs. Before he’d even had time to process what had happened, he found himself getting thrown through the stained glass window, which shattered from the force of Dracula's attack. Luigi fell, stopped only by the scythe still in his hand clattering against the stone rooftop, preventing him from passing through back into the castle itself.

    In a daze, Luigi saw a pair of black leather boots, just a few inches in front of his face. Hesitantly, Luigi looked up to see a grizzled-looking man dressed in dark furs and leathers glowering down at him. Piercing light eyes seemed to measure him up from under long, wild red hair.

    “You must be Luigi.”

    * * *​

    “I must admit, I was expecting that to go differently.”

    “Are you finally starting to see?”

    “Indeed, it seems I am. It appears that you were right to place so much faith in him. I am intrigued, now, to see how far he can make it.”

    “I believe that he may be the one who we have been waiting for all this time.”

    “Perhaps, but it is yet too early to know for sure. You have been confident of others in the past, yet none have ever made it to the end of our little game before.”

    “And yet I still cling to hope.”

    “Which means that you still feel despair.”

    To be continued…​
    This chapter ended up much shorter than I was expecting but I did manage to fit in everything that I wanted in here, so it really doesn’t matter if it has a smaller word count than the other chapters so far. I feel like Christopher is pretty underrated as far as Belmonts go, which is a shame because he’s actually pretty cool. He’s one of the only two Belmonts in the series to officially kill Dracula not just once but twice (the other being Simon, of course) and, like Simon, did so without any of the fancy magic or gimmicks that most of the other Castlevania protagonists had to use. Plus, there’s just something about a father trying to rescue his son that makes for a more compelling story, at least in my opinion, than what a lot of other Belmonts had to face. I’ve read that there’s a comic book adaptation featuring Christopher but I haven’t read it so I don’t know how good it is. I am glad to know that he managed to get a bit of love at one point, though, considering he seems to get the least representation of any playable Belmont from the main series. He doesn’t even get to be a part of Portrait of Ruin’s Greatest Five, with Juste somehow managing to take the slot instead. And I don’t mean that as a slight against Juste, but I wouldn’t put in the rankings of ‘five greatest wielders of the Vampire Killer’.

    For those curious about Soleil’s whip here, the name Death Mercury comes from leaked lore documents from around the release of Bloodlines, where it's listed as one of the three legendary whips passed down throughout the ages, alongside the Morris Clan’s Vampire Killer and the Belmont Clan’s Excalibur, though all that’s known about it is that it mysteriously vanished at some point. Naturally, this and pretty much everything from those old documents would all get tossed out the window by the time that IGA took over the franchise and all three whips were merged into the singular Vampire Killer instead. Meanwhile, I based the description of its design on the Dark Pain from Mirror of Fate, a replica Combat Cross that the Lords of Shadow timeline’s Alucard uses after becoming a vampire but discarded at some point before Lords of Shadow 2 in favor of the Crissaegrim for unknown reasons. Will any of this ever be relevant to anything? No, I just thought that it would be fun and help flesh things out here a little bit.

    And for those wondering about the chapter’s title, it’s a reference to a parable in the Bible where Jesus talks about a shepherd who loses one of his sheep, so he leaves the rest of his flock behind to search for it, finding it and bringing it home. I was originally going to reference the parable of the Prodigal Son but realized that didn’t tie into this chapter as well, thematically. I usually try to avoid direct religious references in my stories but felt that the occasional biblical allusion would be appropriate for a Castlevania story given how deeply Christian the Belmonts and most of their supporting characters are (except in the Netflix show but that’s a whole different beast than the games).
     
    #3 Mar 22, 2024
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2024
  4. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

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    In a daze, Luigi saw a pair of black leather boots, just a few inches in front of his face. Hesitantly, he looked up to see a grizzled-looking man dressed in dark furs and leathers glowering down at him. Piercing light eyes seemed to measure him up from under long, wild red hair.

    “You must be Luigi.”

    Luigi slowly rose up from the castle ceiling, clutching Death’s Scythe in his hands nervously. This man looked like some sort of wild barbarian, with a sword sheathed at his waist and grizzled muscles. But then he finally spotted the familiar whip in the man’s hands.

    “Yes, I’m Luigi,” he replied. “Are you a Belmont?”

    “Yes, my name is Simon.” The man’s smile was surprisingly gentle despite his rugged looks. “I am the great-grandson of Soleil Belmont, who you helped rescue the last time you were seen. It is an honor to meet you, Sir.”

    “Um, it’s good to meet you, too.” Luigi wasn’t sure what else to say, so he looked around while he thought. To his surprise, the castle seemed to be in a state of complete disrepair. Large chunks of the stonework were missing and what was left was crumbling away and covered in ivy. “Dracula hasn’t come back again, has he? And how long was I gone this time?”

    “I am afraid that he did, exactly one hundred years since Christopher first fought him,” Simon explained. “It seems that his resurrections are likely to continue to happen every century but at least now we are prepared.”

    “So that means it’s been… ” Luigi tried to do the math in his head. “85 years?”

    “92,” Simon corrected him. “Christopher fought Dracula in 1591. Fifteen years later, you appeared to help him rescue Soleil in 1606. That was 85 years before Dracula was revived again and I had to slay him, and it’s been another seven years since then. We are now in the year of our lord 1698.”

    “Oh.” Luigi tried to make sense of that. “Wait, if it's been five years since you killed Dracula, then what are you doing here? This is still his castle, isn’t it?”

    “Correct, or at least what remains of it.” Simon nodded. “Castlevania seems to reappear in a new location every time that Dracula revives but for now this is just the ruins of its last iteration from when I defeated him seven years ago.”

    “That makes sense but it still doesn’t explain why you’re here,” Luigi pointed out.

    “That? Oh, that’s simple.” Simon smiled again, confidently. “I’m here to revive Dracula.”



    “What?” Luigi drifted away from the red-headed Belmont, gripping the scythe more tightly. Was his initial impression of this warrior correct? He didn’t exactly look the noble type but to think that a member of the Belmont line would fall so far as to serve Dracula… perhaps this was another case of possession? Regardless, it was clear that this was going to be a fight. One that he really wasn’t looking forward to.

    “Wait, no, that sounds bad without context. Please let me explain.” Simon raised his hands in an apparent sign that he meant to harm, his voice remaining as calm and polite as it had been this whole conversation so far. “You’d think that I would have learned to express myself better after all this time but I guess that just goes to show what a screwup I am compared to my ancestors. I hardly deserve to bear the family legacy. Anyway, take a look at this.”

    Simon turned around and partly unfashioned the leathers around his waist to reveal his back. What Luigi saw made him want to throw up, though he couldn’t in his present state. Simon’s flesh was blackened and withering away, looking almost like that of the zombies that he’d seen in the woods and with Trevor’s party.

    “W-what happened to you?” Luigi asked before he’d even realized it.

    “Dracula,” Simon said simply. “He placed a curse upon me that my body would whither away and decay as if it were already dead. After seven years, I visited the graves of my ancestors to pray for guidance on whether I should pass the Vampire Killer on to my son before my condition could deteriorate further. I was answered with the arrival of a mysterious young woman, a fortune teller, who explained the details of my curse and, more importantly, the only way for me to break it. If I am to be free of this deathly pox, I must resurrect Dracula myself so that I may slay him again. I have already gathered the fragments of his remains and am now on my way to the heart of this ruined castle to perform the ceremony.”

    That… was certainly a lot to take in. Luigi wasn’t even sure where to start but he eventually settled on the biggest questions that he had.

    “Wait, but how do you know that’s really the right thing to do?” he asked. “How do you know you can trust what the fortune teller told you? She could have been one of Dracula’s followers attempting to trick you into bringing him back.”

    Simon closed his eyes and nodded again as if expecting that reaction. “Yes, I understand your doubt. That’s been how most people have reacted when they heard what I was doing and I was skeptical myself at first. But I am confident that it will still work out even if this is some sort of trap. I have defeated Dracula before and I can do it again. And meeting you here has only strengthened my resolve, Luigi. You have a reputation for being something of a good luck charm within my family. Every time a member of the Belmont line has come to Castlevania to fight Dracula, you have been there for part of their journey, however small, and in the end they were able to overcome all odds and defeat the dark lord. I must admit, I doubted myself when you did not show up during my first quest here but now, I know that I will defeat Dracula again no matter what happens.”

    Luigi just stared at Simon, seeing the genuine hope in his eyes. “That’s a lot of pressure you’re putting on me. I haven’t even done anything, really.”

    “You’ve been there,” Simon objected. “Is that not enough?”

    “I, uh, guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that.” Luigi shook his head. “So, what are we doing now?”

    “I’m currently trying to get to Dracula’s throne room to perform the resurrection ceremony,” Simon explained. “Going by the records of your past appearances, it seems unlikely that you will be able to stay in this time long enough to accompany me all of the way there but I would still appreciate your companionship for as long as you can spare. If that is alright with you, Sir Luigi?”

    “Yes, I’ll go with you.” Luigi nodded. “I’m still not sure that this is the right thing to do but I’ll help however I can.”

    It wasn’t as if he had any other options at the moment, anyway. Being a ghost that was constantly being pulled through time didn’t exactly leave him with much to be able to do. He could only hope that he would eventually find a way to end the curse that had seemingly been placed on him, to put him in this situation in the first place, ever since he had been sucked into that strange book.

    “Thank you, Luigi.” Simon turned and began to walk along the rooftop, Luigi sticking close behind. “I still remember the way from my previous encounter here, so I’ve been retracing my steps. Right now, we’re making our way to that tower over there in the distance, where we will be re-entering the castle itself.”

    The two walked, or floated in Luigi’s case, for a few minutes in silence. He’d never really noticed just how big the castle was, though admittedly that was likely because this was his first time seeing it properly from the outside. Even Bowser’s Castle had never seemed this large to him before. But then again, Bowser’s Castle wasn’t magic as far as he knew.

    “What has it been like?” Simon asked, breaking the silence. “To work and fight alongside my ancestors? I have been fascinated by my family’s stories ever since I was a boy and I would love to hear your firsthand accounts, if you wouldn’t mind.”

    “Well, it’s been… sort of a whirlwind,” Luigi began. “I just keep getting thrust from one era to another, without any chance to stop or really think about what’s going on. But having the Belmonts there has helped, I think. I can’t remember, have I actually told my story to any of your ancestors?”

    “If you have, then I am afraid that knowledge has been lost with time,” Simon admitted. “All that we know is that you are a ghost who’s been appearing before our family whenever we venture into this castle, ever since the days of Leon, roughly six hundred years ago.”

    “I see.” Luigi considered that. “We’re in the 17th century now, right?”

    “1698, to be precise,” Simon reminded him. “It is almost the turn of a new century and I am excited to see what it brings with it.”

    “Well, if I remember correctly from my old history classes, it’s going to be a rather turbulent era,” Luigi explained. “And still a few hundred years before I’m going to be born. You see, I’m actually from the future.”

    “What?” Simon turned to his ghostly companion. “How is that possible?”

    “I don’t know.” Luigi shook his head. “I was just cleaning up my old house, getting ready for my wedding, when I suddenly found myself getting sucked into some old book I’ve never seen before and the next thing I know, I’m in the middle of the woods surrounded by zombies and nearly a thousand years in the past.”

    “That must have been quite terrifying,” Simon said. “What do you remember of that book? Perhaps we might be able to look into it, to find a way to return to your home or at least understand what brought you here?”

    “Um, well…” Luigi tried to think back on it but his memories were a bit of a blur. “All that I remember was that it had a red cover, I want to say leather. And it had the title on the front… Grimoire of Souls? I think that was it.”

    “The Grimoire of Souls,” Simon repeated. “I shall do what I can to learn more about this tome after I return home. With luck, one of my descendants will be able to pass what we find back onto you the next time Dracula returns.”

    “Thanks, I guess.” Luigi wasn’t sure what else to say to that. “Anyway, I was definitely panicked when I first arrived in that forest and I thought I was going to get eaten by zombies. But then Leon showed up and rescued me, and I agreed to help him rescue his fiancé who had been taken away by some sort of vampire lord. We fought a werewolf together but then when we finally got to the castle, suddenly Leon disappeared and I was attacked by Death. It was really weird, too, because that was actually the second time that I’d met him, or it, or whatever, and the first time he seemed more friendly. Actually, now that I think about it, he was still rather polite and apologetic when he… turned me into this. But then when I fought him with Trevor, Alucard and the others after that, he was incredibly hostile and… evil, I guess would be the best word to describe it.”

    “That is strange,” Simon remarked. “I fought Death the last time I was here and it was mostly just quiet. Like some sort of silent sentry guarding Dracula’s innermost sanctum.”

    “Well, hopefully, I’ll get answers eventually but I’m not holding my breath,” Luigi chuckled. “And not just because I don’t have any breath left to hold. Wait, what were we talking about? Oh, right, you wanted to hear about the other Belmonts that I’ve seen over the… well, it feels like it's just been one long night to me but I guess it's actually been over half a millennium at this point. That just seems weird.”

    “I imagine that it must,” Simon nodded along.

    “Well, as I said, I first met Leon. He seemed like a very noble and heroic figure but I could tell that he was hurting. He seemed conflicted over what he’d seen and done while fighting in the crusade, which I guess must have been the first one, and was still carrying that when we met. No offense to you or the rest of your family but I think he’s been my favorite Belmont that I’ve met so far. I’ve been… very out of my element since getting sent back in time by that book and he was able to help me through that. I’m still sad that I wasn’t able to help him save… Sara, I think her name was.”

    “That is correct,” Simon said.

    “Then, after I died and about five hundred years or so suddenly went by…” Luigi suddenly stopped as he looked back on that event. “You know, I thought that those five hundred years went by after I died and before I became a ghost, but… looking back on it now… I think I got thrust forward in time before that, when I entered the castle.”

    “What do you mean?” Simon asked, stopping in his tracks as well to face his ghostly companion.

    “Well, when I walked through the front gate, Leon disappeared and… I’m not sure how to explain it but it was like I was suddenly in a different castle than before. The same feeling I got when I went from Trevor’s time to Christopher’s and from Christopher’s to here. But when I died, I barely felt any difference other than suddenly no longer having a body, and then Trevor’s party walked in without anything else happening.”

    “That is strange.”

    “It's like I just keep getting more questions and no answers.” Luigi shook his head. “Anyway, that’s when Trevor, Alucard, Sypha and Grant showed up. I spent most of that time with Alucard so I didn’t really get to know the others very well but Trevor seemed kind of gruff and bitter.”

    “That would be understandable,” Simon replied. “The rest of the Belmont line had been wiped out when he was a child, which couldn’t have made things easy on him.”

    “Wait, what?” Luigi absently rose a few inches, as if jumping back in surprise. “What happened? Did a monster or vampire or something get to them?”

    “If only things could have been that simple.” Simon shook his head wearily. “No, it was the people of that era. They believed that the threat of monsters was a thing of the past, or even just a hoax, and feared the Belmonts for their incredible strength. My ancestors were banished into the countryside and slowly picked off over time until only Trevor remained. It wasn’t until Dracula’s sudden return that the church saw fit to end Trevor’s banishment.”

    “That’s awful!” Luigi stared out into the horizon, trying to process what he had just learned. “But, at least things sort of worked out, I guess.”

    “Yes but even so, my family have barely been able to scrape by since then,” Simon sighed. “It seems unlikely that we’ll ever return to the height of our glory days. But still, we try.”

    “Well, after Trevor, I met Christopher and helped free his son Soleil from Dracula’s possession,” Luigi continued. “Christopher seemed like a rather serious but passionate man and I could tell that he was definitely a very caring father as well.”

    “That’s what I’ve been told,” Simon agreed. “And it seems that our time here has most likely come to an end. We’ve reached the door.”

    Luigi looked up and, indeed, Simon was now standing next to an old wooden door on the side of the tower they’d been walking to, which would lead back into the castle.

    “This feels kind of odd,” Luigi said. “Normally there’s a big fight right before it ends.”

    “Well, I did fight a pair of living mummies in this next room the last time I was here. Maybe they’ll be back, just for you?” Simon said jovially.

    “Maybe they will,” Luigi smiled.

    * * *

    “Now there’s an idea.”

    “You could just let him have a moment of peace before the next chapter, you know.”

    “Yes, I could do that. But I’m not going to. You should know me by now.”

    * * *

    Luigi’s smile soon faded as they entered the room and, while Luigi unexpectedly remained by Simon’s side for the time being, it seemed clear that they were, in fact, going to have to fight some mummies. The stone bricks that made up the walls, ceiling and floors were a different color than before, more of a sandy brown that Luigi would expect to find in an ancient pyramid rather than the cool gray of the rest of the castle. More importantly, however, were the streams of sand trickling down from above, covering the floor. As soon as Simon took a cautious step onto the sand, a pair of mummies erupted from it, each standing at least eight feet tall and slowly shuffling their way towards Luigi and Simon.

    “It seems that I may have jinxed us,” Simon said as he readied the Vampire Killer. “Apologies.”

    “No, no, it’s fine.” Luigi readied his scythe. “I should have expected this. I’ll take the one on the left.”

    Luigi and Simon both charged towards their targets. Simon, having longer reach, struck first. The Vampire Killer snapped forward with a loud crack, lashing against the first mummy’s bandaged flesh. Luigi then swung at his with the scythe, slashing across its chest. The undead monsters barely reacted and pressed on.

    The second mummy lunged forward, trying to grab Luigi in its mighty arms. He flew up, out of the mummy’s reach, and arced his scythe down, driving the blade into its back. The mummy just turned around and took a swing at him. The creature was so slow, though, that Luigi was easily able to back out of the way and hit the mummy again.

    Meanwhile, Simon was having just as easy a time with his mummy, repeatedly lashing out with his whip while remaining well out of its reach. After another successful strike of the mummy’s chest, however, the monster managed to grab hold of the whip. The ragged cloth strips began to smoke with prolonged contact with the holy weapon but the mummy didn’t release its grip. Instead, it pointed its free arm toward Simon. Several bandages stretched out and wrapped around Simon’s arms and legs, constricting him.

    Simon let out a loud grunt, catching Luigi’s attention and distracting him just long enough to take a mummified punch to the face. He was a bit surprised that the strike actually managed to hit him, though he didn’t dwell on it too much. Instead, he rushed over to Simon. It took a few swipes to cut all of the bandages holding the Belmont but once he was free, Simon was able to yank the Vampire Killer out of the mummy’s grip.

    “I think that I have an idea,” Simon said as he stood back to back with Luigi as the two mummies closed in on them. “Let’s see if we can get them next to each other.”

    “Alright,” Luigi nodded and tightened his grip on the scythe’s handle, ready to move.

    Simon ducked as one of the mummies launched more bandages at him, managing to avoid getting grabbed this time. Luigi, meanwhile, rushed up to the other mummy only to back away again right as it swung out with one of its arms. He led the undead giant forward, dodging all of its attacks while coaxing it closer and closer to its counterpart.

    It didn’t take long before they’d managed to get the two mummies standing practically right next to each other while Simon and Luigi regrouped. Now that they were in position, Simon took a side swing with the Vampire Killer, the leather cord wrapping around the mummies, holding them together so that neither could move.

    “Now, finish them off!” Simon yelled and Luiigi did as instructed.

    With a single swipe of Death’s Scythe, both mummies suddenly found themselves a head shorter than before. Now decapitated, the mummies exploded into a cloud of dust and sand. Simon took a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow before pulling in the Vampire Killer.

    “That was a battle well fought,” he said.

    “Yeah, and it was certainly easier than most of the fights that I’ve been in so far,” Luigi replied, then froze as the room started to rumble. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

    All of the sand that filled the chamber began to swirl and blow around as if caught in a windstorm, before gathering together into a vaguely humanoid from before them, a giant golden version of an ancient pharaoh's death mask sitting atop it like a golden head. Even Simon, who wasn’t exactly short by any means, barely stood up to the giant’s knees.

    “I really should not have said that,” Luigi repeated.

    “I have not fought a monster this large before,” Simon said, readying the Vampire Killer. “But I do not doubt that we will be able to defeat this thing together, as long as we try our best.

    “I wish that I could share your confidence.”

    The sand giant lurched forward and pounded its fist into the ground where Luigi and Simon had been standing but both men were able to dodge to the side in time to avoid it. However, the giant’s hand exploded once it made contact with the stone floor, knocking Simon to the side and briefly stunning Luigi. The hand reformed itself as the giant stood upright again and prepared for another strike.

    Simon rolled back to his feet and finally drew his sword with his off hand as he charged toward the monster. The giant took a lumbering step forward before trying to stomp down on him. Simon abruptly came to a stop and jumped up. The giant’s foot burst as its hand had earlier, and the shock of the explosion carried Simon further up than if he had jumped on his own so that he was able to sink his blade into the giant’s waist. As the giant reformed its foot, Simon began to climb up to the giant’s shoulder.

    The giant reached a hand up to knock Simon off but Luigi, seeing what Simon was doing, rushed forward and slashed the giant’s wrist open. A fountain of sand billowed out and the hand collapsed before it could strike Simon, giving him the time he needed. Once in position, the head-haired warrior began lashing out at the sand giant’s golden mask. Each strike of the Vampire Killer formed a crack along the mask’s surface, forming a chaotic spiderweb-like pattern across it.

    Soon the giant had enough and its entire sandy body erupted, slamming Simon and Luigi into the far walls before reforming itself once again. As if in response to Simon’s earlier strategy, the giant’s body was no longer as smooth as before, with spikes of various lengths and thicknesses bursting out of it at random to discourage any more climbing. That didn’t stop Simon, however, who simply came up with a different trick instead.

    “Luigi! Catch!” Simon shouted as both he and Luigi charged towards the giant.

    He thrust the Vampire Killer out to its full length and Luigi was able to grab onto its end with one hand. Then, the two raced toward the giant’s feet. The whip served as a trip wire, knocking the giant over so that it came crashing down to the floor. Its whole body seemed to dissolve as the mask was flung into a wall and shattered into innumerable shards of glittery gold and blue, then went still.

    “Well, that was certainly something,” Simon said as he waded through the sand. “How are you?”

    “I’m fine,” Luigi replied, floating over to him. “Are you sure that we’re done this time?”

    “It would seem so.” Simon nodded as he patted himself down, trying to get some of the sand out of his clothes. “Unless something else wants to challenge us?”

    Simon held out his arms as if waiting for someone or something to accept his offer. Nothing did, so he lowered them again.

    “There you have it.” He nodded at last. “Now we just have to find that hole that leads to the next area. It should be around here somewhere.”

    “Right, I guess it is time to move on,” Luigi realized. “That means that it’s probably time for us to part ways, isn’t it? It was good to meet you.”

    “Yes, it has been an honor.” Simon bowed. “I wish that we could have spent more time together but I guess we just have to make do with what we can. Say hello to my descendants for me and I’ll be sure to have them pass along whatever information we’re able to uncover. Oh, it looks like the sand is flowing this way. That must be where the hole is. Fare thee well!”

    Simon waded his way over to the pit that the sand was draining into and gave one final bow before leaping down to the next floor. Luigi sighed and took a moment to prepare himself. There was no telling what would be waiting for him once he went down that pit but it was likely that he’d end up at least a hundred years closer to his own time and have to fight some other monster alongside another Belmont. He was getting tired of this but it wasn’t as if he had a choice. He could only wonder what would happen when he finally reached his own time. Would this nightmare finally come to an end or would he keep going even further into the future? He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to know. But all he could do was move forward and so he made his descent.

    He was not prepared for what he would face next.

    And so another chapter comes to a close, featuring none other than the original Simon Belmont. I based my depiction of him on his design in Castelvania Chronicles’ “Arrange Mode” because that’s my favorite design for him, it helps differentiate him from Christopher and because I feel that it contrasts nicely with him being the most polite and modest of the Belmonts (at least in his more recent appearances, earlier stuff didn’t give him much in the way of personality), though nowadays he’s usually depicted closer to his original 80’s Conan design. Other than that, this chapter was rather light. As cool as Simon is (seriously, he resurrected Dracula himself just to kill him again) there wasn’t much for me to do with him. So I guess this was just a chance for Luigi to get a breather after all the action and trauma up to this point, and all the trauma and action that he’ll be going through after this.

    For those curious, the sand giant was based on the Elgiza enemy from Portrait of Ruin and was mostly just here because I thought that the Mummy fight was kind of boring. I also considered using Astarte from the same game but ultimately didn’t go in that direction. If I had, then she would have tried charming Simon and Luigi but both would have managed to resist it. Luigi, by thinking about Daisy, and Simon would have a joking line to the effect of “Selena would kill me”, referencing the name of his wife in both Haunted Castle and the Lords of Shadow timeline. My first thought was to simply add more mummies but then I realized that might be a bit too repetitive given what next chapter’s boss fight is going to be. Poor, poor Luigi.
     
  5. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Late For A Date
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    Luigi thought he heard the sound of pages turning as he quickly descended the tower and a now familiar sense of vertigo overcame him as he passed through time. Sure enough, when he reached the bottom, he could tell that the castle had changed once again. Castlevania, Simon had called it. The overall structure seemed to be in a similar state of disrepair as before but the stonework was subtly different and it now looked almost as if the castle was under construction rather than falling apart. That wasn’t the most notable change, though.

    “Why is the sky green?” he wondered aloud as he gazed up at the olive-tinted air pockmarked by celadon clouds.

    “Heck if I know.”

    Luigi turned to see the latest Belmont walking up to him, the familiar black whip at his side. This Belmont was distinguished by his long white hair and ornate red coat. His clothes had a far more noble look to them than Luigi was used to and he had a certain elegance about him that Luigi hadn’t seen since Leon. He took this as a hopeful sign that perhaps the Belmont family had regained something of their former status.

    “Are you Luigi?” the Belmont asked skeptically as he caught up to the friendly ghost.

    “That’s right,” Luigi nodded.

    “Yeah, you matched my grandfather’s description,” the man said. “Can’t say that I was expecting to run into you here, though. I’m Juste, by the way. Juste Belmont, Simon’s grandson.”

    “Only his grandson?” Luigi asked. “Does that mean it hasn’t been a hundred years?”

    “Nope.” Juste shook his head. “I want to say, fifty? Somewhere around there. I didn’t even realize that this was actually Castlevania until I saw you just now.”

    “Oh?” Luigi considered that. “Then what’s going on? Has Dracula come back again or is something else going on?”

    “Well, kind of?” Juste shrugged. “It’s a bit of a long story, but my best friend Maxim disappeared two years ago to train and then finally showed up again recently with amnesia and told me that my girlfriend Lydie had been captured and brought here. Eventually, it turned out that Maxim had tried to follow in Grampa Simon’s footsteps by trying to revive Dracula himself to kill him but it didn’t work and he got possessed. Right now, we’re in some sort of second castle that was attached to the first one. I’m trying to track down Maxim so that I can beat Dracula out of him and we can all go home. You know, standard Belmont stuff.”

    “I guess that makes about as much sense as anything else that’s happened so far.” Luigi shrugged. “I’ll help however I can.”

    “Thanks.” Juste nodded. “Oh, that’s right! I was supposed to give you something if I ever ran into you.”

    The white-haired youth reached into the inner pocket of his coat and searched around for something. Then he checked the other pocket. After fully patting himself down, he sighed and hung his head low.

    “Oh, right, I didn’t bring it with me.” Juste looked back up at him apologetically. “My family has compiled some notes about your situation and I was supposed to keep a copy whenever I went out on an adventure, just in case I ever ran into you. Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t think to grab it. You’ve only been seen in Castlevania, after all, and I wasn’t exactly expecting to end up here.”

    “That’s understandable,” Luigi replied. “I’m sure the situation with your friends was much more concerning than some dead guy you never expected to meet. I probably would have done the same thing.”

    “Sometimes I feel like I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached.” Juste shook his head and looked around. “I guess that’ll have to wait until you run into my grandson, or whoever… Grandson? Ugh, I’m going to be a dad one day, aren’t I? That just sounds wrong.”

    “I’m sure you’ll have plenty of time to get used to the idea before it comes.” Luigi smiled weakly. “Daisy and I hadn’t talked about having kids yet, when, well, all of this happened. I feel like I would have liked to be a father. Actually, we would have had to have had kids, now that I think about it. Daisy’s an only child, so she’d need to produce an heir. Huh, I don’t think I’d even really thought about the fact that I was marrying into royalty. I would’ve been a king one day if I hadn’t died, even if only as consort.”

    “Really?” Juste asked. “I don’t think that had ever come up before. What kingdom was she from? Let’s see, Daisy would be an English name. Would she be a descendant of King George II?”

    “No, no.” Luigi shook his head. Daisy wasn’t a part of any royal family from Earth, as far as he knew. “Her kingdom isn’t somewhere that you’d be familiar with. I’d prefer not to talk about it.”

    “Ah, right, I suppose sharing information about the future could be dangerous.” Juste nodded in agreement. “Understandable.”

    “Yes, of course.” Actually, Luigi just didn’t want to reveal the existence of other inhabited planets to someone who probably wasn’t ready to hear that yet, especially when the Belmont family already had more than enough on their plate, but that made for a good excuse. “The butterfly effect, and all that.”

    “What do butterflies have to do with anything?”

    “Ah, I guess that won’t be written for a few hundred years. Nevermind.”

    Luigi and Juste both turned to the other end of the walkway they’d been standing on. The distinctive metallic clank of someone moving around in armor had been faintly audible for a while and had been gradually growing louder. Sure enough, a tall figure in blue and gold plate shuffled into view from behind a stack of wooden crates. Luigi readied his scythe while Juste held out his hand in a gesture that Luigi had seen Sypha make a few hours, er, centuries before and a spear of ice condensed into being in front of him.

    “You know magic?” Luigi asked, intrigued. He hadn’t seen any other Belmonts do that, even though theoretically they were just as much Sypha’s descendants as Trevor’s.

    “Yes, most Belmonts have been trained in at least the fundamentals but I’m the first in a long while to really have a knack for it,” Juste explained. “I seem to have picked it up from my grandmother, Selena Fernandez.”

    The armored figure took another step forward, raising the massive double-bladed axe in its right hand. Juste sent his ice spear flying but the enemy blocked it with the shield it carried in its off-hand, remaining unscathed. Juste readied another attack, only for the armor to suddenly be struck from behind by a spiked metal ball at the end of a lengthy chain. The blow caused the armored warrior to let out a scream and burst into flames, burning away into nothing.

    Their unexpected rescuer stepped forward, an elderly and haggard-looking man with choppy white, shoulder-length white hair and a scruffy beard, dressed in dark leathers.

    “Grampa Simon?” Juste blurted out in stunned shock as the old man walked up to them. “What are you doing here?”

    “I heard that you’d run off on an adventure and thought that I’d lend a hand,” Simon explained, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. “Not that I thought you’d need it, you’re twice the fighter I was at your age, but sitting around at home was getting kind of boring.”

    “Oh, sure, the more the merrier.” Juste sighed and shrugged. “Anyone else want to come join our little crusade here? Perhaps the mythical Alucard will finally step out of the shadows?”

    “Luigi?” Simon finally noticed the ghostly plumber floating there. “How are you, old friend? I never thought that I’d get the chance to see you again!”

    “Me neither,” Luigi admitted bashfully. “It's good to see you, though. You’re the first familiar face I’ve seen after a time skip.”

    “You haven’t changed at all,” Simon said. “But then again, it’s probably only been a few minutes for you. I’ve had to wait fifty years”

    “Well, you look good for your age,” Luigi smiled.

    “Yeah, not bad for pushing eighty, right?” Simon flexed, showing off his well-toned muscles. “I am feeling my age catch up to me but I’ve still got some fight left in these old bones. Why don’t we take a moment to catch up, though?”

    “You know, I’ve actually been furnishing a room in the castle, to help keep myself focused,” Juste mused. “We could head over there and I could brew us up a pot of tea.”

    “That does sound good,” Simon replied. “But there’s a little problem with that. Well, two, but one’s a bit more important than the other.”

    “Oh, right,” Juste closed his eyes tightly as he realized his mistake. “Luigi always disappears whenever he moves from one section of the castle to the next. We wouldn’t be able to make it all the way back to my room.”

    “Sorry,” Luigi said sheepishly.

    “No, no, it’s not your fault.” Juste shook his head. “It’s not like you have any control over whatever curse has been placed upon you. Let’s just take a break here to talk. We’ll have to keep an eye out for monsters but we should be fine.”

    “Already a step ahead of you,” Simon grunted as he sat down on one of the old crates scattered about. “Whoo, maybe I’m feeling my age more than I thought.”

    “Are you sure you’re alright, Grandpa?” Juste asked as he sat down on another crate.

    “I’ve been through worse,” Simon replied. “Last time I was here, I was practically a leper. Luigi remembers, don’t you?”

    “I’d rather not.” Luigi shivered as he remembered the look Simon had given him of his rotting flesh. “I’m not sure how you managed to fight in that condition.”

    “A strong mind and a strong body,” Simon said wistfully. “Helps that I was younger back then, though. Now, what are we up to? I heard that Maxim showed up and needed your help to rescue Ms. Erlanger from a vampire. How's that going? Have you rescued my future granddaughter yet?”

    Juste sputtered at that, clearly taken back.

    “Lydie and I aren't-” he started to protest, then gave up. “Ah, who am I kidding? She's pretty much all but guaranteed to be the next Lady Belmont after this is all over.”

    Simon let out a hearty laugh. “I'm pretty sure that your parents are already preparing a betrothal. But seriously, what's happening?”

    Juste filled Simon in on what he'd already told Luigi of the situation, adding that the possessed Maxim still held Lydie somewhere in the castle’s depths. Once apprised of the situation, Simon nodded his head grimly.

    “Don't worry, we’ll get her back. If there's one thing that we Belmonts are good at, it's rescuing damsels from vampires.”

    Juste wordlessly held up the Vampire Killer in response.

    “Ah, I guess we don't have a perfect success rate on that,” Simon admitted. “But we won't fail now. We’ve got the family good luck charm with us, don't we?”

    “I would prefer that you not call me that,” Luigi said.

    “Oh, sorry,” Simon replied. “But still, we’ve got thi-”

    Simon jumped to his feet, his whip cutting through the air. An unnaturally pale zombie sank to the floor from where it had been shambling up to them. There was something off about it, though. Not only did the corpse look like it had been completely bleached of all color but it seemed… smooth. No signs of decay or even hair anywhere on what was left of its body. Whatever it was, it seemed different than the zombies that Luigi had seen so far. The difference seemed moot now, though.

    “You know, this is why I wanted to have this discussion over in my room,” Juste said with a sigh as he stood up. “Haven't seen any monsters try to make their way in there. Seems odd, now that I think about it.”

    “There are more on their way,” Simon said, marching around the stack of crates. “A lot more.”

    Luigi hovered around as well and saw what he meant. More of the strange white zombies were making their way to them, walking in a widely spaced single-file line.

    “Break’s over, then,” Juste walked up beside his grandfather, whip in hand. “Back to business.”

    The two Belmonts took turns striking down the zombies while Luigi brought up the rear. No matter how many they took down, however, the line just kept coming. As they fought their way across the eery walkway, the shambling corpses grew more and more frequent.

    The worst part, in Luigi's opinion, was that they didn't even seem to react to… anything. They just continued walking until struck down. And the more they fought, the less convinced that he was that these things had ever really been people. They were less like zombies and more like fleshy puppets in the image of people.

    A sickening plopping noise could be heard up ahead as they continued their slow progression through the hoard. Eventually, they fought their way into an old observatory. The large, domed ceiling overhead was painted in the image of the night sky with stars arranged in constellations, only about half of which Luigi recognized. He also spotted an old telescope set up next to a window on one side of the room. More pressing, however, was the massive ball of twisted corpses flying overhead.

    “My God, what is this abomination,” Simon muttered as he looked up at the thing, horror etched into his wrinkled face.

    “Nothing to do with God, by the looks of it,” Juste replied, looking just as uneasy as his grandfather.

    It had wings, six of them arranged in three pairs which flapped futilely despite being far too small to support that thing’s sheer bulk. There had to be thousands of bodies making up the grotesque ball. It felt almost like a cruel mockery of a biblical angel and just looking at the thing made Luigi viscerally uncomfortable in a way that he’d never felt before. The bottom of the thing would open up like a clamshell every few seconds, or perhaps a womb would be a more accurate simile as it would drop another of the mock corpses like a mockery of childbirth, and yet no matter how many fell out from it the thing never seemed to lose any mass.

    * * *​

    “Was it really necessary to include this fight?”

    “Of course it is. Legion was my finest creation. My ultimate show of defiance against the heavens. I would have it no other way.”

    “You are pure evil, you know that?”

    “But of course. We wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.”

    * * *​

    Luigi looked around. He had thought he had heard voices just now, one deep and masculine while the other was softer and more feminine. But it must have been his imagination playing tricks on him when confronted by the abomination up above. But he had caught one thing from that.

    “Legion,” Luigi repeated the name even if he didn’t know where he had heard it.

    “A mass of devils possessing a single man. Seems as fitting a name as any,” Simon remarked. “Then let us follow our Lord’s example and cast these condemned souls to the pigs!”

    Both Belmonts sprung into action, strafing the Legion to either side. It was too high up for them to reach with their whips, so Juste focused on his magic attacks while Simon pulled out an ornate silver and blue cross that he proceeded to hurl at the mass of bodies like a boomerang, coming back to him after every throw.

    Luigi just floated there, stunned into inaction as he stared up at it. As a ghost, his senses were sharper than they had been in life, no longer held back by biological or physical restraints. As such, he could make out every body that made up its outermost shell. Every face. Men, women and children alike, staring blankly and nothing and everything at once. Even the likes of Death hadn’t been this primally horrifying to him.

    Many of the bodies were destroyed by the Belmonts’ attacks but more simply took their place, crawling out from the monster’s core as fast as they were eliminated. It seemed like there would be no end to them.

    Luigi had no idea how long it had been but eventually, his senses began to return to him. They were in the middle of a fight, one which his allies clearly needed his help with. Doing his best to resolve his strength, Luigi held up Death’s Scythe and struggled against his baser instincts to flee. Finally, he managed to charge forward and slash his blade along one of the monstrosity’s wings, slicing it off.

    The bodies all screamed at once, a veritable wall of voices like an unholy choir of furious pain. Luigi was pushed back by the sheer force of it. Even Simon and Juste had to brace themselves from down below.

    The ball of corpses opened up and a stream of bodies, almost like some sort of arm, shot out and reached for Luigi. Like the mummies before, this monster proved able to hit Luigi despite his lack of a body and Death’s Scythe was knocked out of his hands as he was thrown into the floor. He passed through into the lower chamber before he finally managed to bring his momentum to a halt and rise back into the observatory.

    The ‘arm’ retreated and Legion returned to its original form, minus one wing. It lowered itself closer to the floor, bringing the bottom of its shell into whipping range. More importantly, however, is that now in addition to the main ‘body’ of Legion, it had produced two smaller versions of itself which were aggressively trying to assault each Belmont.

    Simon managed to fight off his Legion with his chain whip with the practiced ease that came with decades of experience with his chosen weapon. Juste, however, was far less experienced as proven by how he struggled to keep up with his Legion’s aggressive and erratic movements. The monster managed to tackle him, knocking the Vampire Killer out of his grip and it was sent skidding along the polished floor. Luigi rushed over to catch it, picking up the whip and heading towards Juste to hand it back to him.

    “Keep it!” the younger Belmont roared as a blue ring on his finger began to glow and he lunged forward while rapidly punching the smaller Legion into submission.

    Luigi stopped, looking on in mild bemusement before remembering the situation and turning to the main Legion. Every one of its countless eyes turned its focus on him and Luigi felt just about ready to run away as an overwhelming pressure washed over him. But just as quickly, he felt a sense of calming reassurance fill him and he readied himself for the fight.

    Luigi had never used a whip before but he assumed a ready position that he’d seen several generations of Belmonts take before a fight. Then he lashed out with the Vampire Killer, striking Legion as the magic whip cracked through the air. His form was lacking but it got the job done.

    Soon, Simon and Juste managed to take down their respective mini-legions and rejoin the battle against the primary mass of bodies. Simon and Luigi continued to whale on it with their whips while Juste launched bolts of lightning. With all three fighters maintaining their assault, they proved to be too much for Legion’s apparent regenerative abilities and soon managed to whittle away at the outer shell until there was nothing left.

    Now all that remained of Legion was the inner core that had not been exposed earlier. A milky-white ball surrounding a pink nucleus, with three prehensile appendages squirming about. The three limbs each began to rapidly fire blasts of blue energy at Luigi and the Belmonts, who were forced to back away to avoid getting hit.

    Luigi finally managed to find Death’s Scythe lying on the floor and picked it up while avoiding Legion’s lasers. Acting quickly, Luigi used the reflective metal blade of the scythe to block the attack, allowing him to get closer without getting hit. However, he did have to keep adjusting his position as Legion continued to try firing around the scythe. As Luigi drew closer, Legion diverted more of its attention to him, aiming all three of its limbs in his direction. This left it open to the other two.

    “Luigi, over here!” Juste called out while holding out his hands, and Luigi tossed the Vampire Killer back to him.

    The their ancestral weapon back in his hands, the younger Belmont and his grandfather both dashed up to the distracted Legion and struck it with their whips at once. An “X’ shaped scar formed along Legion’s flesh, for lack of a better term, and it switched its focus back to them. Luigi then rushed it with his scythe, cutting the core cleanly in two.

    What was left of Legion burst into intense blue flames which soon burned out, leaving nothing behind. The fight had finally been won.

    “Well, that was certainly something,” Juste said as the three fighters regrouped.

    “I’m getting too old for this,” Simon complained, as he rubbed his back.

    “Then perhaps you shouldn’t have come,” Juste pointed out.

    “What, and miss out on this.” Simon nodded to the spot where Legion had been just a moment before. “I don’t remember the last time I had that much fun.”

    “You have a very different idea of fun than I do,” Luigi said. “I never want to do that again.”

    “You know, you were pretty good with that whip for someone who’s never had any training,” Simon admitted. “Perhaps we’ll make you an honorary Belmont?”

    “What?” Luigi turned to him. “N-no, there’s no need for anything like that.”

    “Although, it is weird that you were able to wield her.” Juste held up the Vampire Killer and examined it closer. “Normally, it can only be properly used by members of the direct line of succession. Even members of the Belmont clan who aren’t in that direct line haven’t been able to draw out her power before.”

    “Not fully, but they can still use it as a whip,” Simon pointed out. “It's not like the Vampire Killer prevents people from holding it outright, and Luigi didn’t seem to be drawing her power out during that fight. At least no more than a member of one of the branch families can do, at any rate.”

    “It still makes me wonder.” Juste turned to Luigi. “You claim to be from the future, correct? Do you think that perhaps you could be one of our descendants?”

    “I don’t think so.” Luigi shook his head. “My family name is Mario, and my ancestors were from Italy.”

    “Well, we were French before we were Romanian,” Juste pointed out. “And there are plenty of other families that have Belmont blood running through them. Perhaps the Marios could be one of our future branch families?”

    “Or it could be that the Vampire Killer has grown fond of him after helping her proper wielders so many times over the centuries,” Simon said. “Or ghosts might have an easier time bringing out her power than living humans, or we could just be overthinking this.”

    “I suppose you’re right,” Juste relented. “And there isn’t much point in speculating, anyway. For now, I will just say thank you and wish you luck with your next adventure, which will likely be Dracula’s full resurrection in another fifty years.”

    “Yes, it has been an honor to fight alongside you, not once but twice.” Simon nodded. “I only wish that we could have spent more time together but I can honestly say that even I won’t still be kicking by that point.”

    “I suppose this is goodbye.” Luigi smiled sadly and nodded. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you. Good luck saving your friends. I hope you all manage to make it out of this safely.”

    “Thank you, I will try.” Juste nodded back.

    With their goodbyes out of the way, the trio went their separate ways. Juste and Simon went back in the direction they had come in from to explore more of the castle while Luigi floated over to the opposite doorway, scythe in hand. Mimicking the action of taking a breath to calm his nerves, Luigi passed through.

    The sensation of vertigo that grew stronger with each jump through time was accompanied by the distinct sound of turning pages, louder and more distinct than before. While last time, he had chalked it up to his imagination, this time he could clearly tell that the sound was real. More than that, however, he could actually see the pages turn before him now, each page bringing him further into the future. And then, beyond the pages of reality, he could see two figures watching him. A white-haired man in a black and red suit, and a dark-haired woman in a white and blue dress.

    “This is new,” the man said first.

    “No one has ever come this far before,” the woman spoke this time.

    “It seems that we are drawing close to the end. Perhaps our game will finally come to a close, after all.”

    “It would seem so.” The woman seemed to turn her attention directly to Luigi. “Stand tall, Sir Luigi. You have faced many challenges so far, for which I am sorry. But I know that you will continue to overcome all obstacles that stand in your way. Be brave and fight on, for the safety of all humanity now rides on your shoulders.”

    “I have seen your fear.” It was the man’s turn to address him. “I know that you just want this all to end. The time will soon come that you will have to make a choice. I trust that you will make the right one”

    Then they were gone and Luigi stepped out into the next chapter, more confused than ever.

    “Mama Mia,” he muttered to himself. “What’s going on?”
    Legion is easily one of the most memorable boss fights in the series, which is probably why it's also one of the most recurring. And of course, Harmony of Dissonance is notable for giving us not just one but two different Legion battles. This is technically the Legion (Saint) battle fought in Castle B’s Sky Walkway but I tried to incorporate as many different versions of the boss into this as I could, including Legion (Corpse) and Ara of Sorrow’s Legion. The title of the chapter, of course, is also part of the biblical Legion’s introduction in the Book of Mark (chapter 5, verse 9). Also, Juste punching Legion is a reference to the Sacred Fist sub-weapon (my personal favorite in HoD, shame it never showed up in any other games) with the glowing ring being the Aurora Ring, which boosts the Sacred Fist’s power and range.
     
  6. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Late For A Date
    (Bunnelby)
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    Luigi found himself floating at the base of a collapsed staircase, a tattered red carpet beneath his feet. He was outside the castle, between two tall towers. A bright crescent moon shone high above, in a starless night sky, and somehow he knew. This was it. His journey through Castlevania, though nearly a millennium, was about to come to a close.

    Dracula was waiting for him in that tower up ahead, he could almost feel it. Looking around, he couldn’t see any signs of a Belmont to fight alongside. The castle seemed empty, almost abandoned. It seemed that he would be alone for this final confrontation. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for this but it seemed that there was nothing to do but move forward, so he did.

    A part of him wished that Simon were there by his side but he knew that wouldn’t be possible. At least another fifty years would have passed and the Belmont had already been an old man after the last jump. He would be long gone by now. The only familiar presence was the scythe gripped tightly in his spectral hands, the one constant throughout his journey so far. He held it cautiously as he ascended the collapsed staircase and through the open doorway leading inside.

    He found himself at the entrance to a grand dining hall, an ornate golden chandelier hanging above a long table covered to excess in platers and dishes containing more food than Luigi had ever seen outside one of Princess Peach’s grand parties. Near the middle of the table, two figures sat across from each other and seemed to be sharing a meal. One seemed to be a white-haired man in an old black cloak, whom Luigi only saw from behind, while the other was a blonde young woman in a green dress.

    “Are you sure that it is wise to partake of this feast?” the man asked his companion in a familiar, cold tone. “It seems more than a little suspicious that he would just leave all of this food out here unless it was a trap.”

    “Relax, my tiger familiar already determined that the food isn’t poisoned or anything,” the woman tried to assure him, and Luigi noticed that she seemed to have a faint French accent. “So why not take advantage of this opportunity to fill up before the big fight and make sure that we’re at our strongest? Besides, even if the turkey is rotten or something, that fairy of yours would be able to fix me right up, right?’

    “The fae are not to be taken trivially, their help always comes at a price,” the man argued. “As a summoner, you should know that better than most.”

    “Hey, where is your familiar, anyway?” the woman asked.

    A bell chime sounded in Luigi’s ear and he jumped with a yelp as a large bug flew past his face. Except it wasn’t a bug at all, but what appeared to be some sort of small woman in a blue and white dress, with flowing golden hair that whipped around in the wind picked up by the dragonfly wings beating behind her.

    “What, who’s there?” the woman at the table stood quickly, raising her hands defensively and a pair of large red birds flew out from behind her.

    “Relax, Miss Renard.” The white-haired man picked up a goblet of wine and took a sip.

    “Wait, why are you so calm all of a sudden?” The woman turned to her companion, confusion visible in her expression even from where Luigi was floating. “You know there’s a ghost in here, right? And I told you to call me Maria.”

    “Of course, Faerie spotted him as soon as he entered the room.” The man turned around in his seat so that Luigi could see if pale, gaunt features and he made a beckoning motion with his hand. “Now, why don’t you come join us, Luigi, it has been quite some time, has it not?”

    If Luigi had a functioning heart, it would have stopped in the heat of the man’s gaze, those unmistakable crimson-red eyes of a vampire.

    …wait, he knew those eyes.

    “Alucard?” Luigi rushed over, a note of trepidation in his voice. “Is that you?”

    “Indeed.” Alucard nodded. “Though, I cannot say that I was expecting to run into you here. I would have expected you to have passed on long ago.”

    “You know this ghost?” the woman, apparently named Maria, asked.

    “We met the last time I visited these halls, roughly three centuries ago,” Alucard explained. “This is Luigi, one of my companions when I had to face my father, along with Trevor, Sypha and Grant.”

    “Luigi?” Maria repeated the name. “Wait, I think Richter I heard Richter speak of you once. Are you the spirit who aids the Belmonts whenever they face Dracula?”

    “Yep,” Luigi replied. “I keep skipping ahead through time but seem to show up whenever a Belmont needs to face Dracula, whether directly or not. So, does that mean that you’re…”

    “Oh, no,” Maria shook her head. “I’m not Belmont. Though, my great-aunt did marry into the family.”

    “I’m afraid the situation regarding Richter Belmont is… complicated,” Alucard explained. “Richter is here, but… he’s the one we’re here to face. He has declared himself as the new master of this castle.”

    “I’m telling you, there’s something that we’re missing,” Maria said. “I fought Dracula alongside him and there’s no way that Richter would do something like this of his own volition!”

    “Whatever his reasoning, the facts remain,” Alucard countered.

    “Could Dracula be possessing him?” Luigi asked, after reflecting back on his previous encounters.

    “How do you mean?” Alucard replied.

    “Well, after Christopher Belmont defeated Dracula, Dracula managed to posses his son Soleil a few years later and attempted to resurrect himself. And he’d managed to curse Simon Belmont before his defeat a hundred years after that, slowly rotting his corpse until Simon managed to revive him himself so that he could break the curse by defeating him again. Maybe Dracula’s doing something like that again?”

    “I suppose that does seem a likely possibility.” Maria considered it, while Alucard seemed to flinch.

    “I had not realized that the Belmonts had faced such hardships at my father’s hands,” the dhampir said. “I thought that their battle against him would have ended with his defeat at Trevor’s hands.”

    “I guess that’s what you get for sealing yourself away for three hundred years,” Maria replied.

    “Dracula is revived every one hundred years,” Luigi explained. “Sometimes he even finds ways to come back more than that. And every time, it always seems to be up to the Belmonts to defeat him, usually alone.”

    Alucard looked like he wanted to scream into a pillow or something, with the way he tensed up and rigidly flexed his fingers. Probably the biggest display of emotion that Luigi had seen from him.

    “It seems that I was wrong to close myself off from the world so long ago,” he said at last. “I did not think that… I suppose that I didn’t think at all. But there is no way to change what has been done. I will do what I can now to atone for my sins.”

    “You really need to stop beating yourself up over every little thing,” Maria chastised him, though she had a look of concern on her face. “It’s not good for you.”

    “I don’t particularly care for what’s ‘good for me’,” Alucard replied. “But enough talk, we should get going. Trevor- Richter should be waiting for us just up ahead. However this goes, we need to finish it.”

    “I’ll help,” Luigi said firmly. “I was able to sever Dracula’s link to Soleil, perhaps I’ll be able to do it again here.”

    “Thank you,” Alucard nodded. “Your help is always welcome.”

    “Well, I guess its no use trying to put off the inevitable.” Maria sighed and stood up from the table, then flushed. “But, um, hold on a minute. I’ve, uh, got to go… see a gal about a horse. Bye.”

    Alucard tilted his head as he watched Maria run out of the room in a hurry, confusion visible on his face.

    “Why would she need a horse now of all times?” he wondered aloud.

    “No, that’s not what she meant.” Luigi shook his head. “She’s saying that she has to use the bathroom.”

    “Now hardly seems like the appropriate time for bathing,” Alucard argued.

    “No, that’s.” Luigi buried his face in his free hand. “She has to go pee.”

    “Ah, I see.” Alucard nodded, looking rather uncomfortable. “I suppose that would make sense. It seems a weird turn of phrase, though. But then again, I suppose I am several centuries out of date.”

    The two stood there awkwardly, or hovered in Luigi’s case, while they waited for their third member to finish her business. After a few minutes, Luigi tried to break the silence.

    “So, what have you been up to since last time?” he asked.

    Alucard shrugged. “After we defeated my father, I returned to my tomb and seeled the entrance. With nothing left to tie me to this world I believed that I had no place here. However, I was recently awakened from my self imposed slumber as I felt my father’s presence return to the world and went to investigate. While exploring the castle, I discovered that a Belmont had claimed lordship and felt that even if my father was not involved I still had a duty to put an end to this because… well, my reasoning is not important. I also ran into Ms. Renard, who is also trying to stop Richter for her own reasonings. It seems that they worked together to defeat my father again a few years ago and they must share some form of kinship. But what of you?”

    “I’m not really sure what’s going on with me,” Luigi admitted. “I keep getting sent further and further ahead in time. It seems like every time that a Belmont arrives here to face Dracula, I show up to help them briefly before getting sent straight to the next one.”

    “Strange, I cannot say that I’ve heard of something like that happening before,” Alucard mumbled, deep in thought.

    “And now I’m starting to think that I might be trapped in a haunted book or something,” Luigi elaborated before he even realized what he was saying. “And I’m being watched by… I don’t even know who, but they seem to think that I’m getting close to the end.”

    “Most disconcerting, I’m sure,” Alucard said. “Though, if you were stuck in a book, would that not make the rest of us merely characters within its pages? That seems unlikely, if you ask me.”

    “Yeah, I suppose so,” Luigi admitted.

    “What would the title of this book be, if you don’t ming my asking?”

    “Um, the Grimoire of Souls?” Luigi remembered.

    Alucard’s eyes narrowed. “Are you sure of that?”

    “Pretty sure,” Luigi nodded. “Why, does that mean something to you?”

    “I’m not sure,” Alucard shook his head. “Just a hunch. Though I do think that we’ll have to drop by the library after this is over and ask a certain librarian some very important questions.”

    “Oh, okay.” Luigi wasn’t sure how to admit that he likely wouldn’t have a chance to go with him after this fight, since he’d just end up getting sent further forward in time again. “But we should probably focus on the matter at hand, first.”

    “Yes,” Alucard nodded. “Richter.”

    Luigi noticed that Alucard’s fists seemed to tighten uneasily as he said the name.

    “Is something bothering you?” he asked.

    “No,” the pale man shook his head, then grimaced. “Well, perhaps. But it is something that I’d prefer not to talk about.”

    “Are you sure?” Luigi pressed. “Whatever it is, it might be good to get it off your chest.”

    Alucard sighed but relented. “Perhaps you are right… but this is not easy to admit. I believe I mentioned the last time that we spoke that I traveled with Trevor’s mother, Sonia Belmont?”

    “That sounds familiar,” Luigi thought back on it. “You guys fought a vampire together, right?”

    “Among other adventured,” Alucard smiled fondly, clearly looking back on those times, before his expression turned to a look of distress. “But, there was more to it than that. Sonia and I… we knew each other in that time.”

    Luigi blinked. “Well, I suppose it would be hard to travel with someone for a while without getting to know them.”

    “That’s not what I meant.” Alucard bit his knuckles, tears welling up in his eyes. “We were more than just traveling companions.”

    “Oh.” Luigi’s eyes widened as he finally realized what Alucard was getting at. “Oh!”

    “Was it wrong for me to have taken a mortal lover? Perhaps.” Alucard shook his head. “But I will never regret the time that we shared together. However… after having learned that Trevor was Sonia’s son… and the timing of his age… I believe that I may have been his father.”

    Luigi struggled to wrap his head around that. “But that would mean…”

    “That the entire Belmont line since then are my descendants,” Alucard confirmed. “And, though my blood, the direct descendants of Dracula himself. In essence, this entire ‘war’, so to speak, between the Belmont clan and Dracula has likely been a family dispute the likes of which the world has never seen before, and all because of my actions.”

    “Wait, what?”

    Luigi and Alucard had both been so focused on their conversation that they’d failed to notice Maria return. But now the young woman was staring at the half-vampire in confusion.

    “Ms. Renard?” Alucard turned to her. “When did you-”

    “Wait, so let me get this straight,” Maria massaged her temples as she walked up to them, “are you saying that you’re Richter’s grandfather?”

    “Not grandfather, no.” Alucard shook his head. “But I suppose there’s no sense in trying to deny it now. I believe that I may be his ancestor.”

    “Well…” Maria trailed off, clearly unsure of how to react. “I… guess we should go save your grandson, then.”

    “He’s not my-” Alucard started to protest, then sighed and shook his head instead. “Very well. Let us put an end to this madness.”

    With a flourish of his cape, Alucard headed for the door leading further into the castle. Maria and Luigi both followed close behind. The fairy that Luigi had seen earlier flew to the dhampir’s side, before dissolving in a flash of light as Alucard held out what seemed to be some kind of card. Then he pulled out another one and a floating sword with a golden handle and jade blade materialized in its place.

    “Bravo, you must be the one foretold to wield me,” the sword said, and Luigi noticed that it seemed to have a face set into the guard, with beady red eyes that almost seemed to glow.

    “Is everyone ready?” Alucard pulled out a long, golden-handled spear from under his cloak, with a long crossguard that made it seem almost more like a trident than an actual spear.

    Maria held her arm out and a large white tiger seemed to materialized out of nowhere, walking out from behind her. “We’re ready.”

    “So am I,” Luigi said, raising up Death’s scythe. Things felt like they were getting crazy but at this point he was used to it. In fact, he’d seen weirder stuff even before getting sucked back in time and/or trapped in a magic book.

    “Very well then.” Alucard pushed the doors open and stepped through the threshold into the throne room.

    Four ornate support columns were spread about the large room, each holding up a tattered red curtain that lead to large black skull carved into the far wall. All to emphasize the old stone throne sitting at the top of a set of low steps to ensure that the person who sat upon it could look down on any who dared enter this most unholy of places.

    “I’ve been waiting for you.”

    And atop that throne sat a powerfully built in a long blue coat, with shoulder-lnegth dark brown hair that seemed to cast a shadow over his face. One leg was crossed over the other while he rested his chin atop the back of his right hand.

    “Answer us!” Alucard yelled at the man, who must have been Richter Belmont. “Why is a Belmont panning to resurrect Count Dracula?”

    Richter scoffed and uncrossed his legs, preparing to stand. “Dracula rises but once a century. One chance for each Belmont to shine and then we’re finished. Forgotten. If I bring him back now, then the battle can last for eternity!”

    “Stop it, Richter!” Maria begged. “This isn’t like you!”

    “And what would you know of me, girl?” Richter rose from the throne and pulled back the tails of his coat dramatically to reveal not one, but two whips at hip. The black leather of the Vampire Killer at his right and the dark thorny chains of the Death Mercury on his left. “You’ve never been anything more than a child. Rescuing you from that mad priest was a waste of my time. I should have left you to rot in those dungeons.”

    Maria recoiled at that but quickly recomposed herself while Alucard held out his spear defensively in front of her.

    “You have lost your way, Belmont,” he said coldly.

    “Perhaps the same could be said of you, vampire,” Richter replied, pulling out a glass bottle of blue liquid from his coat’s inner pocket. “Die, monster! You don’t belong in my world!”

    “This isn’t the kind of man you are!” Maria insisted but assumed a combat stance all the same, her tiger growling and readying to pounce.

    “What is a man?” Richter tossed the bottle to the side, which erupted on impact into a column of white flame that quickly died out. “A miserable little pile of secrets. But enough talk, HAVE AT YOU!”

    Alucard dashed forward while his sword arced through the air overhead and Richter suddenly rose into the air, an intense light radiating out from him. Giant wooden crosses shot up from the floor around the corrupted Belmont, spiraling through the air. Alucard barely had time to jump back before he ran into one but his sword was not so lucky, getting knocked away and getting its blade stuck in one of the support columns. Maria’s tiger lunged toward Richter as the magic attack finished but was knocked back by a strike from the Death Mercury. Alucard then dashed forward with his spear and the fight truly began.

    Despite that, however, Luigi found his focus drawn to a strange, sickly green orb floating in the air above the giant skull sticking out of the wall behind the throne. Something about it felt… off, and he decided to prioritize investigating that while the others fought off Richter.

    As he approached the orb, Luigi couldn’t shake the feeling that it was watching him as if it were some sort of giant eye. Yet, couldn’t see any visible change in it. He did, however, feel that it was emitting that same sense of malice that so many of the enemies he’d faced in this castle had possessed and he knew at once what he had to do. Luigi raised his scythe overhead and brought it down on the green orb, which bounced off the skull and began to fly around the room erratically.

    “Huh, what is that?” Alucard looked up as the orb flew over his head, distracting him long enough for Richter to wrap the Vampire Killer around his spear and yank the weapon out of his hands. Before Richter could follow up on that, however, Maria thrust her arm forward and a pair of vermillion birds flew out to attack him.

    “I’m not sure but I think that we need to destroy it!” Luigi called down to him, giving chase to the orb.

    “Very well then.” Alucard suddenly burst into a cloud of mist and flew up to where his sword had gotten stuck before rematerializing and pulling the blade out while Maria’s familiars kept Richter busy.

    “Oh ho! Do you think yourself fit to wield me?” the sword asked boisterously.

    “Not now,” Alucard snapped as he released his hold on the handle and the sword resumed floating of its own power. “Help the ghost destroy that gem.”

    “I do not take orders from those unfit to wield me!” the sword argued. “But as it happens, I don’t like that stuck-up ball so I’m going to attack it anyway.”

    Alucard rolled his eyes before turning into a bat and flying behind Richter so that he could retrieve his discarded spear while the Belmont was busy attacking Maria’s tiger. The bloodied wildcat lashed out with its claws while Richter continued to strike it with the Death Mercury, continuously opening up gashes in its skin. One of the phoenixes dove down and tried to pick at his eyes but Richter quickly reached into his pocket and tossed a throwing axe up at the bird, warding it off.

    Eventually, the tiger was worn down enough that it let out one final roar in defiance before fading away in a sparkle of glimmering light. Maria clutched at her breast as if she'd felt the pain of its death, herself. For all Luigi knew, she probably did. Alucard thrust his spear at Richter's back but he managed to sidestep out of the way and swung the Vampire Killer through the air towards Alucard. Being half vampire, the strike across his chest injured him more than it otherwise would have and Alucard was forced to take back out of the fray for a moment. That gave Richter the time he needed to turn his focus to the two birds circling him overhead, and he attacked them with his dual whips.

    Over at the other end of the room, Luigi and the Sword Familiar continued hounding the green orb, striking it as often as they could manage though it did a surprisingly good job of avoiding their blows. They were wearing it down, however, and noticeable cracks began to web around the glass-like surface.

    Luigi dove down with his scythe drawn but the ball swerved to the side to avoid his blade and rammed into his stomach because, of course, it seemed like only the most inconvenient things were able to make contact with his spectral body. The blow was strong enough to knock Luigi back and Death’s scythe flew out of his hand, falling to the carpeted floor with a muffled clatter.

    “Take this!” The magic sword used the delay in the orb’s movement as it recoiled off of Luigi as its opportunity to strike, its dark turquoise blade piercing straight through the shattering orb.

    Richter let out a cry of anguish and froze up long enough for a phoenix to dive into his chest, knocking him flat onto his back. The Vampire Killer was thrown out of his hand while the Death Mercury fell onto the floor.

    More pressing than that, however, was the second ghost in the room. A spectral figure of an old man in purple and red robes appeared in the air where the orb had been, with his arms resting on his folded legs and a deep scowl on his face.

    “S-Shaft!” Maria gasped and reflexively took a step back. “B-but that’s impossible! You’re dead!”

    “So, you were the one controlling Richter.” Alucard glared up at the new arrival and his piercing gold eyes seemed to glow with contempt.

    “How inconvenient,” the ghost glanced across the room before settling on Alucard. “Yes, it was I. Shaft, the dark priest, come to cleanse the world in the force of chaos.”

    “You must be the one who possessed Richter!” Maria accused. “But why?”

    “Because we tire of these hunters and their holy power,” Shaft explained. “If they would but turn on one another-”

    “-then the strongest among them would eliminate the rest,” Alucard finished the sentence, piecing it together. “A Belmont.”

    “Yes.” Shaft nodded.”So, I converted him. Brought him here to lure the rest and to force them all to fight and die. These halls have already run red with the blood of countless would-be hunters.”

    “But you never planned for us,” Alucard said.

    “You souls are all as frail as his was,” Shaft cackled. “And you, the son of our Master, shall take his place!”

    “I don’t think so.” Alucard pointed his spear directly at the dead priest. “Your plans, and those of my father, end tonight.”

    “I’ll tear that soul of yours apart until you become the pawn you were always meant to be, oh prodigal child!”

    A magical ball of energy materialized around Shaft, which seemed to shift between all of the colors of the visible spectrum and a few that Luigi was pretty sure he could only see now that he was a ghost, which in turn was surrounded by several metal rings and crescents that reminded Luigi of an old globe. Alucard’s sword tried to pierce through the barrier but was repelled by the rings and soon a new fight broke out.

    Luigi backed away from the hooded priest and dove to grab Death’s scythe. However, before he could reach it, the curved blade flew right past him, settling in the air among the other metal objects orbiting Shaft.

    “Oh, no you don’t, troublesome spirit,” Shaft said. “You have been a thorn in the Master’s side for far too long. Tonight, I finished what Death failed to.”

    With that, Shaft began launching blasts of destructive magic at Luigi and the others. Maria dismissed her birds and summoned a small blue dragon which began spitting balls of fire at the evil priest, while Alucard and his sword both circled him while waiting for an opening. Luigi felt useless without the stolen scythe and so backed away to try and avoid getting in the way.

    Spotting the unconscious Richter still lying on the floor where he’d fallen, Luigi decided to fly over to him and see if he could wake the Belmont up. Unfortunately, Luigi still couldn’t directly interact with the living and the hand he tried to place on Richter’s shoulder simply passed right through him. He wasn’t responding to verbal efforts either and simply lay there unmoving.

    One of Shaft’s magic attacks rushed by the others and Luigi let out a yelp as it narrowly missed his head. He ducked to the side to avoid a second blast that would have hit him and looked around for cover. Instead, he spotted a familiar cord of black leather lying on the ground and felt himself called to it. Picking up the Vampire Killer, Luigi turned back to the dark priest.

    Alucard seemed to be dueling Death’s Scythe, which seemed to have him on the defensive, while his sword familiar continued to clash against the rings. Even Maria’s dragon was struggling as Shaft pelted him with a barrage of explosive blasts. Luigi couldn’t just sit around and do nothing, so he charged forward with whip in hand.

    His movements were still clumsy but Luigi gave the Vampire Killer a snap that cracked against Shaft’s colorful barrier, causing it to blink out of existence just long enough for a fireball to pass through. Shaft let out a scream as the dragon’s fire set his robes aflame but it quickly died out as his shield was reconstituted and his attacks became even more aggressive. Luigi attacked again but this time the leather whip was caught around a golden crescent and he was sent hurtling across the room.

    During this, Alucard continued parrying slash and slash of the scythe still under Shaft’s control. After exchanging a few more blows, he finally managed to catch it with a powerful side swing that caught the tip of the scythe’s blade in the stained, blood-red carpet. Seizing the moment, he held out his hand.

    “Sword, to me!” he called.

    “Oh, so you think-”

    “Now now!”

    His familiar reluctantly obeyed the command and flew into Alucard’s hand. He then turned into a white wolf and dashed across the room over to where Maria and Luigi were still fighting shaft before leaping forward and reverting back to human form. With his spear in one and his sword in the other, Alucard lashed out and began knocking the metal rings aside. Luigi, seeing an opening, struck again with the Vampire Killer and managed to dispel Shaft’s barrier a second time.

    “Take this!” Rather than let her dragon do the work for her, Maria leaped overhead and sun around through the air, pinning Shaft to the ground with a powerful butterfly kick. As she landed on the ground, a lifesize, purple and white manakin with fiery orange hair that seemed to form a pair of wings behind it dashed out from behind her. “For everything that you did to me, and the others, taste my retribution! Guardian Knuckle!”

    The doll then let forth a storm of rapid-fire fisticuffs faster than the human eye would have been able to track, utterly pulverizing Shaft. If he wasn’t already a ghost, the dark priest would likely have been left as nothing but a pile of bruised flesh and broken bones. Luigi made a mental note to never get on the girl’s bad side as he watched until the doll dematerialized and Shaft was sent flying over the throne and into the gaping mouth of the black skull behind it.

    Luigi, Alucard and Maria gathered together as they approached the skull. Shaft’s ghost rose uneasily from the stone jaws.

    “How inconvenient,” Shaft groaned. “But we’ve only just begun. The Master’s ascension is already well at hand!”

    “Die, monster! You don’t belong in this world!” Everyone turned to see Richter limping forward, having finally regained consciousness. Another glass bottle was in his hand, which he raised skyward as it began to glow. “Hydro Storm!”

    Maria gasped loudly and raised her own hand, a large turtle shell manifesting to protect herself along with Alucard and Luigi. It felt a bit surreal to the plumber, to be inside of a turtle shell after fighting the turtle-like koopas for so long. He couldn’t quite tell what was happening outside the protective shield but it sounded like a typhoon was raging around them. It died down as soon as it had started, however, and Maria dismissed the shell once she was sure that it was safe.

    The throne room was a mess as if it had just weathered a storm, which it most likely had. There was no trace of Shaft left, while Richter was down on one knee, panting heavily.

    “Are you crazy?” Maria stormed over to him. “What was that?”

    “Heh, sorry,” Richter groaned. “Kind of lost my head.”

    Maria shook her head angrily. “Ugh, forget it. Just tell me that you’re alright.”

    “I’ve been better,” he admitted. “But I’ll live… But I can’t say the same for… Oh, God, what have I done?”

    Richter buried his face in his hands, moaning in anguish. From what he had heard so far, Luigi had a fairly decent idea of what he was thinking. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any words of advice to offer and before anyone else could act, the castle began to rumble and shake violently.

    Alucard ran to a window and gazed outside, and Luigi decided to follow him. He was not prepared for what he saw in the skies above.

    Castlevania, a mirror image of the one they were already standing in, was there. An entire castle, hanging upside down from the clouds.

    “What is it, Alucard?” Maria called after them.

    “Alucard?” Richter repeated the name, looking up. “The Alucard? That can’t be. That was over three hundred years ago!”

    “Never mind that!” Alucard rushed back to them, pointing up as Luigi trailed close behind. “Is the man who controlled you in that castle?”

    “Castle? What castle?” Maria asked.

    “Yes, I think so…” Richter said slowly.

    “Then we must hurry,” Alucard said. “Maria, take Richter and leave this place. Luigi, we’ll finish this together.”

    “I’ll stay with you as long as I can,” Luigi nodded, then turned to Richter and held out the Vampire Killer. “But first, this belongs to you.”

    Richter reached out for the whip but recoiled at the last second as if it had suddenly burst aflame.

    “No, I cannot.” Richter shook his head, a pained expression on his face as he stared deeply at his open hands. “The blood of innocents is on my hands, more than I could possibly atone for. I’ve stained not just my hands but my name. I am not worthy to wield such a holy relic. I doubt even my children’s children will be able to. No, you must be the one to hold onto this for now.”

    “What, I can’t do that,” Luigi objected. “This is the Belmont family whip. Even if you can’t use it, you still need to pass it on to your descendants.”

    Richter stared into Luigi’s eyes grimly. “You are the spirit who always steps in to aid those of my lineage whenever we confront Dracula in this castle, are you not? One day my descendants will be worthy of wielding that whip once again and will have to use its power to strike down Dracula once again… No, for the last time. When that day comes, I trust that you will be there to pass it on to them. Promise me this, Luigi! Promise me that you will make sure that this whip reaches the right hands when the time comes!”

    Luigi looked back at him in shock, not sure of how to process what he was being told. But finally, he tightened his hand around the Vampire Killer’s handle and held it to his chest.

    “I will.”

    “Thank you,” Richter sighed in relief. “Now, go! Dracula awaits!”

    “We will meet again,” Alucard nodded before turning to leave. “Now, quickly, Luigi! Grab your scythe!”

    “Of course!” Luigi rushed over to the weapon in question and pulled it out of the ground before chasing after Alucard.

    Together, they made their way down a side hall leading out from the throne room and up a short flight of stairs. At the top, they were met with an ornate marble carving on the wall, of a woman in a flowing dress reaching up toward the sky, between two pillars covered in thick, thorny vines. Alucard stopped in front of the carving and looked up at the ceiling. Luigi did the same.

    There was a flash of light. For Alucard, he likely found himself transported to the second castle where the rest of his adventure lay before him. For Luigi, he found himself caught between turning pages once again as the mysterious man and woman continued to observe his actions.

    “Hmph, I believe that it is finally time that we head to the final chapter of this tale,” the man said. “Find me, and we will end this once and for all.”

    “This may be your greatest challenge yet but do not fear,” said the woman. “We are about to finally see how this ends.”

    Luigi found himself outside, looking up at the castle from just beyond the front gates.

    “I believe that you have something that belongs to me.”

    He turned around, to see a large man with a long brown ponytail, wearing a brown trenchcoat. Alucard stood to the man’s right, while a Japanese woman in a Shinto shrine maiden’s outfit was at his left. Behind them, an army of modern soldiers stood at attention.

    “Now, let’s finish this.”
    I had a lot of fun with this one and I hope you enjoyed it. And I managed to put in a bit of a big reveal here, which is probably the main reason that Legends isn’t canon but at the same time one of the main reasons that I wish it was: Alucard being Trevor’s biological father. Well, technically we don’t know that Sonia’s son was Trevor, but it seems the most likely option. I’m also pretty sure that it was the inspiration for the Lords of Shadow timeline having Alucard be Trevor. Of course, opinions will vary on whether this twist adds or subtracts from the series.
    I'd also like to apologize for skipping over a lot of the games by jumping straight from Symphony of the Night to the Battle of 1999. While Portrait of Ruin is quite possibly my favorite Castlevania game, and games like Bloodlines and Order of Ecclesia also have very compelling stories, I felt that trying to cram everything into this fic would have led to it feeling bloated and repetitive. So, I decided to focus on the Belmont clan's adventures specifically, fo reasons that will be revealed as we move into the finale. Now, hopefully, I can bring this to a satisfying conclusion and I look forward to seeing your reactions to how this all ends.
     
  7. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachiod Machamp

    Late For A Date
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    “What's going on?” Luigi asked the assembled crowd before him. A new Belmont was to be expected. Alucard being there was a pleasant surprise. He wasn't expecting a shrine maiden of all people but it wasn't as if women with magical powers (he assumed) were something new on this adventure. The squad of armed soldiers in full combat gear was completely out of his expectations.

    “This is the end,” the Belmont told him. “We’re putting Dracula down once and for all!”

    Alucard sighed and shook his head. “It's currently 1999, and there's about to be a total solar eclipse later today. It was prophesied that my father will face his final death today and we have a plan to do so. Miss Hakuba here can fill you in on the details.

    “Konichiwa, um, Ghost-san,” the shrine maiden said awkwardly as she bowed. “I am Hakuba Sakura. Using my family's power to banish evil spirits, I will be sealing Dracula's castle within the solar eclipse, cutting the Dark Lord off from his power so that Belmont-san can defeat him.”

    “And as backup, the UN decided to send along a battalion to take down Dracula's forces along the way,” said the man with long brown hair. “Name’s Julius, by the way. Julius Belmont.”

    “Well, that’s a lot to take in,” Luigi shook his head. “The nineties, huh? Guess I finally reached my own lifetime. And, wait, how do you seal a castle inside of an eclipse? Doesn’t that just mean that the moon happens to be between the sun and Earth?”

    “Hai.” The woman apparently known as Hakuba nodded. “If I perform the ceremony successfully, then that means that Dracula’s castle will only be able to physically manifest itself at times and places where a full solar eclipse occurs.”

    “Oh, okay.” Luigi nodded. “I guess I don’t have to understand it. So, I guess we should get going, now?”

    “Not quite yet.” Julius shook his head and pointed to Luigi’s hand. “I think you’re forgetting something.”

    Luigi looked down and realized that he was still holding the Vampire Killer that Richter had given him in the last era. He held up the old leather whip and reluctantly handed it to its rightful owner. Julius took Vampire Killer from him and moved it around experimentally.

    “Man, something about this thing just feels… right,” Julius noted excitedly. “This is the first time I’ve actually gotten to see this thing in person, yet it already feels like I’ve had her all my life. Now we’re ready to go! Let’s do this!”

    Julius ran up to the massive double doors that led into the castle and proceeded to kick them open in one blow before heading inside. Alucard sighed and followed him in, alongside Hakuba and Luigi.

    “Come out here, Dracula! You big stinkin’ nerd!” Julius shouted into the air, waving the Vampire Killer around. “We’re here to whoop your butt!”

    Alucard sighed and shook his head, burying his face in his hands while a familiar gold and jade sword flew by his side. “I swear, every Belmont is more insufferable than the last.”

    Luigi let out a reserved chuckle, though he was still quite put off by just how different things seemed to be this time around.

    Of course, it didn’t take long before the group was ambushed by a hoard of zombies. It reminded Luigi of back when he fought alongside Trevor’s group, over half a century ago despite feeling like just earlier that evening. Well, apart from when a line of soldiers in full tactical gear stepped forward and began mowing down the zombies with automatic weaponry. That was certainly different and also excessively loud. Still, it did make clearing out room after room much faster than it would have been otherwise.

    It didn’t take long before they reached the end of the entrance halls and marched through to the next area. It felt strange to Luigi, to be allowed to move from one area of the castle to the next without getting sent forward in time again. It seemed that what he’d been told about this being the ‘final chapter’ was true.

    Their procession made their way up several long flights of red-carpeted stairways, getting attacked by demonic skeletons that flew overhead and launched spears at them. Not all of the soldiers made it to the top, a few getting stuck down by the monsters. However, they were still able to keep their losses to a minimum and make their way into the next area.

    Luigi floated out into a section of the castle that he hadn’t seen before, a massive, open ballroom. Hundreds of ghosts of various men and women from across different centuries danced through the air overhead as they headed for the far end. More pressing than that, however, was the horde of monsters that approached. Minotaurs, rotting giants swinging butcher knives, women with spiders for legs and possessed manikins among them. The forces had grown too great to leave up to the assembled soldiers.

    Alucard and Julius rushed forward, weapons at the ready. Luigi noticed that Alucard no longer had his spear from last time, now wielding a broadsword with a golden handle, much simpler in design than the familiar fighting by his side. He also noticed that Julius’ fighting style seemed much rougher than the previous Belmonts that he’d fought with, relying far more on brute strength than his ancestors. Though he seemed to work for him as he powered his way through the horde with relative ease.

    Luigi decided to focus on the monsters that had slipped past Julius and Alucard, which had reached the army and were slaughtering the soldiers in melee combat. However, before he could reach them a sword struck out of nowhere, which he had to deflect with his scythe.

    Steadying himself, Luigi found himself facing off against another spectral blue ghost. A tall, slender woman wielding a rapier. She raised her sword overhead without a word and lunged forward. Luigi dodged to the side and countered with a sideswipe. The ghost parried the blow and thrust her sword several times. He barely managed to back away to avoid getting stabbed. The two ghosts exchanged blows a few more times before Luigi finally managed to land a slash across her stomach. The hostile ghost let out a shrill shriek as she seemed to get sucked into the blade of Death’s Scythe. Luigi tried very hard not to think about the fact that the same thing could have happened to him earlier, as her sword clattered to the ground.

    “Hey, watch it up there!” One of the soldiers, apparently a woman, complained and took a step back from the fallen rapier.

    Luigi looked down and noticed that the soldier in question seemed unusually short compared to her brothers-in-arms and that instead of the guns or combat knives that the others had, she seemed to be fighting with a large spear. A spear with a distinctly familiar crossguard design.

    Before he could question why she had Alucard’s spear, however, a demonic roar pierced the air and Luigi turned to see where it was coming from. Two monsters had managed to flank the army, a green, skeletal figure with a birdlike head and lizard tail impaling unlucky soldiers on the end of its long spear, and a blue, muscular demon with bat wings and horns that seemed to alternate between stomping on people and breathing fire on them. These two both seemed far stronger than the other monsters present and were making short work of the assembled soldiers. Luigi knew that he needed to act fast if he wanted to save as many as he could and charged forward.

    The blue demon tackled one particularly unfortunate soldier and sank its claws into his shoulders before lifting him up off the ground and dropping him on another three people. It opened its mouth and flames started to build up before Luigi slashed at him with Death’s scythe. The fire was dispersed as the demon backed away with a powerful flap of its wings. Its partner, the green one noticed this and looked over from where it had just struck down two UN soldiers with its spear and turned to charge Luigi. Before it could reach him, however, the girl from earlier dashed forward with her own spear to intercept it. The two exchanged blows while Luigi faced down the blue demon.

    The demon launched a fireball at Luigi, who dodged to the side and went in to slash the blade of his scythe against its chest. He managed to open up a gash but the demon resisted it and kicked him away. Meanwhile, the green monster was forcing the spearwoman back with his more powerful thrusts. Other soldiers tried opening fire on it whenever they got a clear shot but couldn’t offer much assistance without getting overwhelmed by the horde of lesser monsters still attacking.

    Luigi managed to hit his opponent a few more times and seemed to have the upper hand. It backed away from him and pulled its wings in like it was preparing an attack. Then the demon burst into flames for a brief moment, its skin burning away to expose the red musculature underneath. Instead of weakening it, however, the demon seemed to grow even more voracious with its attacks. After Luigi struggled to avoid the sudden onslaught, the demon managed to swoop around him and grab the bird-lizard by its shoulders, lifting it off the ground so that it could attack them from above.

    The beaked monster threw its spear at Luigi, who shot up so that it passed harmlessly under his arm. The weapon then teleported back into the monster’s bony, elongated hands. Luigi floated down to the floor while the woman in combat fatigues stepped up beside him. The blue demon then threw its partner at them, spear plunging forward. Luigi tackled the woman, using the handle of his scythe to push her out of the way. The blade grazed his ghostly arm but he’d live, er, well, he knew what he meant. He’d inadvertently knocked the woman’s helmet off in the process, revealing a long, strawberry-blonde ponytail with purple streaks dyed in her bangs.

    “Oh,” she muttered, standing back up and grabbing her spear. She’d landed near the ghost’s sword from earlier and apparently decided to grab that as well. Now that Luigi could get a good look at her face, she wasn’t just short but young. Practically still a child, in fact. “Warn me, next time.”

    Before Luigi could say anything, however, he had to roll through the air to avoid a fireball that the demon had spat at him. There would be time to question things later when they weren’t in the middle of a fight. For now, Luigi charged the demon while avoiding another blast of fire before sinking the blade of his scythe deep into its shoulder. The demon let out a pained scream before bursting into flames again. This time, nothing but bones remained, which collapsed onto the floor in a heap. Luigi turned to see the green monster backing the girl into a corner. She struggled to keep up with its attacks and for a moment it seemed that it was about to kill her.

    Then a jade blade suddenly flew through its neck, decapitating the monster in one blow. A furious-looking Alucard stormed over and grabbed the girl by her hair, pulling her off the ground.

    “What are you doing here?” he shouted at her

    “Hey, I had that!” she protested.

    Luigi floated over to them, trying to figure out what the situation was. He was also vaguely aware that the rest of the battle seemed to be dying off as well.

    “You were specifically told to stay at home, young lady!” Alucard sounded almost like a father berating his daughter, which made Luigi even more confused.

    “Oh, come on! Did you really think I was just going to sit out the biggest battle ever just because you told me not to, Gramps?”

    “You’re too young for this!” Alucard insisted. “You can barely even hold that spear!”

    “So, little Miss Lecarde managed to tag along after all?” Julius walked up beside Luigi, watching the verbal fight with interest. “Kid’s got gumption, I’ll give her that.”

    “Um, what’s happening?” Luigi asked him.

    “Eh, not really my place to say.” Julius cocked his head to the side before turning back to Alucard. “Hey, why don’t you let the kid fight? She’s already here, isn’t she?”

    “Yeah, let me help!” the girl agreed. “At this point, sending me back on my own would be more dangerous than letting me stay with you, right?”

    Alucard sighed and let the girl back down, shaking his head sorrowfully. “I suppose you’re right.”

    “Besides, Maria Renard was my age when she fought alongside Richter Belmont, right?”

    “That was only because she’d been kidnapped, first,” Alucard pointed out. “You were supposed to stay home and continue your training while Hermina joined us here.”

    “Hah, we all know that she’s too busy setting up Elgos to be bothered fighting here.” She shook her head.

    “Um, could someone please explain what’s going on?” Luigi spoke up.

    “Oh, right.” Alucard turned to him. “Luigi, this is Estela Lecarde, my… descendant.”

    “Pleased as punch to meet you,” Estela stuck out her tongue. “And I go by Stella!”

    “Descendant?” Luigi questioned, looking back and forth between Stella and Julius. “So… another Belmont?”

    The two people in question both burst into laughter while Alucard grimaced.

    “No,” he said. “I, well, after the last incident, Maria somehow managed to convince me to try settling down with her and we had a daughter. She then moved to Spain and married a member of the Lecarde family and, well…”

    “And a new monster-hunting family was born!” Stella said eagerly, raising her spear overhead. “Of which I am the latest heir to our ancestral weapon, the Alucard Spear Which is way better than the Belmont’s stinky Vampire Killer!”

    “Hey, the VP is not stinky!” Julius protested lamely. “Besides, boasting about your ancestral weapon isn’t that cool when you’re standing next to the guy it’s named after!”

    “I am surrounded by children,” Alucard muttered as he ran his fingers through his hair and stared off into space. “I’m going to need a break after this.”

    “Japan is lovely this time of year,” Hakuba suggested, startling Luigi who hadn’t noticed her walk up to them. Now that he looked around, it seemed that what was left of their forces had finally managed to clear out the room.

    “At this rate, I might just move there,” Alucard shook his head and started to walk off. “Dye my hair, come up with a new name. Maybe get a job.”

    “Oh, come on, we’re not that bad!” Julius chuckled, following after him.

    The rest of the expedition was comparatively uneventful. The assembled hunters and soldiers continued to fight their way through Dracula’s forces as they made their way through the castle until, at last, they made their way to a familiar outdoor staircase covered in a red carpet. Though the stairs were no longer collapsed like they had been the last time Luigi was here, roughly two hundred years ago if he did his math right.

    “This is it!” Alucard told the assembled forces as the base of the stairway. “While the castle’s exact layout changes every time it is summoned, this should be the way to Dracula’s throne room, which will be where he’s waiting. Furthermore, we only have a few minutes left until the height of the solar eclipse which gives us a very limited window of opportunity. What we’re about to face will likely be the hardest battle of your lives. But don’t get me wrong. We will win this! We will defeat Dracula! For our friends! Our family! Our future!”

    A wave of cheers and hollers erupted from the remaining soldiers. Only a fraction of the original army stood standing but those who were still there remained unbroken. Nodding in satisfaction, Alucard turned back to the stairs and led the charge alongside Julius. Luigi remained near the back of the group as they made their way into the next chamber, which proved to be a large dining room with a long table set up in the middle, as before, though this time it remained empty. That went ignored, however, as the gathered troops ran right past into the throne room.

    As Luigi approached those ominous double doors, however, they slammed shut in his face, cutting him off from the others as they went into their final battle. Luigi pounded on the doors but even with his ghostly form, he found himself unable to pass through them. Sighing in resignation, Luigi slumped his shoulders and turned back to the room.

    The table was no longer empty.

    “Very good, Luigi.” The white-haired man in a black and red suit, whom Luigi assumed to be Dracula, clapped from where he was sitting at the far end of the ornate dining room table. “I never thought that anyone would be able to make their way here.”

    Luigi floated over to the table, where he spotted the woman in the blue and white dress sitting at the end he was closer to. Her black hair was tied up in a pair of small buns on either side of her head and she looked up at him with a look of remorse in her eyes.

    “Congratulations, Luigi.” she nodded. “You have done well.”

    “Will someone please tell me what’s going on here?” Luigi practically begged. He was too tired for politeness or niceties at this point. He just wanted the nightmare to end.

    “Of course, of course,” Dracula nodded, picking up a glass of what Luigi hoped was wine and taking a sip before motioning to one of the empty chairs around the table. “Take a seat, relax, all will be explained in a moment. Oh, wait, I guess that might be a bit of a challenge in your current state. Death!”

    “You called?”

    Luigi would have jumped out of his skin if he still had any, as the all-too-familiar cloaked skeleton suddenly appeared in the air beside him.

    “Give the poor man his body back, will you?” Dracula waved his hand dismissively.

    “Of course, my master.” Death pulled Luigi’s lifeless body out of nowhere, so perfectly preserved that if anyone other than Luigi had been looking at it they might have thought he was simply taking a nap. “In you go, and I’ll be taking this back.”

    Death physically pushed Luigi’s ghost back into the body while grabbing his scythe out of his hands. Luigi coughed and hacked as he fell to the floor, struggling to refill his empty lungs. Gravity pushing him into the ground, the fabric of his clothes against his skin, the gentle draft blowing by and even the blood pumping through his veins. All of the physical sensations and feelings that he would normally take for granted suddenly returned to him at once and it was as if he were experiencing them all for the first time. He noticed vision and hearing grow worse before remembering that this was what it was normally like to experience the world around him. It was his enhanced senses as a ghost that were beyond the norm.

    After a minute or two, Luigi finally managed to regain his strength and pulled himself into an empty chair. As soon as he sat down, the chair suddenly pulled itself up on the table and a glass of water appeared before him alongside a large plate of spaghetti. Luigi hadn’t even realized how hungry or thirsty he was and greedily drank the water almost in one gulp before he even realized what he was doing. The glass refilled itself as he set it down and more food appeared in front of him, a veritable feast of his favorite foods and dishes.

    “Feel free to eat and drink as much as you want,” Dracula told him. “You need to regain your strength after everything that you’ve been through, after all. Now, as for explaining just what’s going on here. You may have worked this out on your own already but what you’ve been experiencing since arriving here has not been ‘real’, at least in the traditional sense. You have not, in fact, been traveling through time to assist the Belmont clan in their fights against me. I believe that you would describe this place as a simulation. A recreation of historical events as recorded within the Grimoire of Souls, a tome detailing the history of Castlevania and the true Dracula’s conflicts with the Belmont clan and others who have opposed him over the centuries.”

    Luigi looked up at him and swallowed a mouthful of spaghetti before nodding. “So, I really am stuck in a book, then?”

    “Correct,” the woman nodded. “Each era of history that you’ve been through has been but a chapter of the true history, though altered both to form a series of tests for you to overcome and by your own actions affecting how things play out in small ways, such as inspiring Simon to assist in his grandson’s journey instead of letting him fight alone or holding on to the Vampire Killer after Richter’s corruption so that it could not be passed down through the Morris clan as its guardian before being returned to Julius.”

    “You should also keep in mind that the… adventures, that you’ve been through have been but a small selection of the many battles that have been fought through history, chosen to focus on the conflict between Dracula and the Belmont clan. In the true history, many others had come to face him when the Belmonts were not available for one reason or another.”

    “Oh,” Luigi looked down at his plate, processing what he was learning, before turning back to Dracula. “But... why? What was any of this for? Why am I here?”

    “Those are complicated questions, which we will try to do our best to explain,” the woman said. “The easiest is the question of why you are here. You opened the book and were dragged inside as consequence. You were not chosen, or anything to that effect, in case that was what you were wondering. Several others have met the same fate since the Grimoire of Souls was removed from Castlevania in the aftermath of the War of 1999, though none have survived the experience before now.”

    “As for why this is happening, that is where things get good,” Dracula chuckled and took another sip of his drink before continuing. “What have you learned of Castlevania in your time here?”

    “Well,” Luigi thought back, “I know that’s the name of Dracula’s castle. It seems to appear whenever Dracula is revived but also seems to change each time. I would assume that there’s some kind of magic behind that but I don’t know the details.”

    “I see.” Dracula nodded. “A very simplistic way of putting it but the reality is far more complicated. Dracula’s Castle, Castlevania, whatever you want to call it, is in essence a living creature. Something far more ancient and more powerful than any of its masters throughout history could even guess. Its true nature is that it is Chaos, which gives the Dark Lords such as Dracula their power.”

    Luigi nearly dropped his fork as he stared at Dracula. “W-what?’

    “My dark counterpart speaks true,” the woman confirmed. “And Castlevania stood as such a beacon of powerful dark magic that even just the chronicle of its history, this Grimoire of Souls, has been seemed in so much of its power as to creature this reality that you now find yourself a part of, and us within it. The two beings whose conflict has raged on in these halls for nearly a millennia.”

    “Dracula, the last Dark Lord and master of this castle!” The vampire in question raised his class in an apparent toast to himself.

    “And the Vampire Killer,” the woman straightened her posture. “The weapon that has been used against him time and time again, for countless generations.”

    “Our battle has continued to rage on within these pages, though in a different form than it may once have taken,” Dracula explained. “Whenever an unfortunate soul such as yourself has been dragged within our realm, they have become the vessel through which we compete. Will they be able to overcome the obstacles that I place before them, or will they be the one to finally put an end to this charade? You are the first, and the last, to make it through through to the end.”

    “And now a choice must be placed before you,” the woman, apparently the Vampire Killer in human form, said. “No matter how this plays out, one of us will be defeated for good while the other survives. Which of us will you choose to side with?”

    “Join me and you could become the new Dark Lord,” Dracula offered. “I’ve seen in your heart and know that you are not so inclined towards evil as the true Dracula or any of his predecessors but before you reject me, consider. You would not have to follow in their footsteps, as vile tyrants in pursuit of power at the expense of others. The power that I offer you could be used in other, more subtle ways. Immortality, magic, the ability to control the forces of darkness. You could use these not for your own sake but for the sake of others. The world is vast beyond imagination and powers exist beyond what even we could imagine. You could be your world’s protector, the one who shields them from other evils, if you so chose.”

    “What he tells you is true, from a certain point of view,” the Vampire Killer said. “But the power of chaos would taint your soul, corrupt you. You could very well lose sight of yourself and what you set out to protect. If you side with me, then together we can destroy this manifestation of evil once and for all.”

    “The decision is yours to make and we will grant you all the time you need to make it,” Dracula assured him. “But keep in mind that whoever you do not decide to align with will become your enemy. A fight is before you, no matter what you choose.”

    Luigi stared back and forth between the two beings sitting before him and even Death who continued to float silently off to the side. Then he took another drink of water and pulled over a platter of lasagna. He wasn’t particularly hungry anymore but needed something to do while he racked his mind around this dilemma.

    A moment ago, he wouldn’t have even hesitated in his decision. For all of his faults, Luigi was a hero like his brother. He would do whatever it took to stop someone or something as evil as Dracula/Chaos/whatever from hurting others. But now that Dracula’s offer had been placed in his head he couldn’t help but consider it. What good even was a hero? His brother, the savior of the Mushroom Kingdom and his personal idol, was dead. Not even killed at the hands of the evil alien pirate that had been hired to do the job. No, as they’d learned, he’d already been gone for some time before that but they didn’t know anything else. Presumably, an imposter had been living Mario’s life for who knows how long without anyone even noticing that something was wrong until Ridley killed the fake. Luigi wanted to ask Death about that but it seemed that the one behind him was likely just a part of this fake Castlevania, and wouldn’t have any answers for him.

    To add to that, Luigi had seen that forces of evil could be turned to good. Ridley was the shining example of that. Responsible for countless atrocities including the murder of Samus Aran’s family and yet now just a pleasant guy who’d managed to put an end to the war between the Mushroom Kingdom and Darkland through peaceful negotiation. Even Bowser seemed to have mellowed out significantly since then and it was starting to seem that he could be a genuinely good kind if he set his mind to it, though it would take time to see if that was true or not. If they could do it, then who was to say that Luigi wouldn’t be able to use Chaos power for good as well? Perhaps he could become the Dark Lord and prop himself up not as a villain but as a hero who used dark powers to do the right thing.

    But no, that was wrong. Ridley and Bowser weren’t evil, they were people who’d done evil things. Even Dracula, the real one, was likely the same. But from what he could gather, Chaos was different. It wasn’t just a power used for evil but evil incarnate if he understood things correctly. Even if he set out with good intentions, could he really control something like that for long, if at all?

    But on the other hand, what would the future hold for them? Like Dracula had said, there were other threats out there, more powerful than he could imagine. What if something like that attacked the Mushroom Kingdom? Or even Earth? Would they be prepared for something like that? Could he pass up this opportunity to gain the power that could be necessary to protect his world, either of them, from such a threat?

    After careful consideration, Luigi put down his fork and stood up. All eyes were on him as he prepared to make his choice known. Whatever he picked, there would be no going back from here.

    “I’ve-a m-made my d-decision,” Luigi stammered, then took a moment to steady himself. “The power of-a Chaos sounds like it could-a be the key to protecting my world from-a whatever threats it faces.”

    The Vampire Killer shook her head sorrowfully while Dracula settled into a smug grin.

    “But fighting evil with-a evil could only-a lead to more evil,” Luigi continued. “I’m-a sorry, Dracula, or Chaos, or-a whatever your-a name is but I-a can’t except your-a offer.”

    Dracula scowled at him and stood up, tossing his glass to the side so that it shattered against the wall. “Very well, then. I cannot say that I expected otherwise but know that I will not go down without a fight.”

    The Vampire Killer rose from her seat as well and walked up to Luigi, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder while holding the other in front of him. “I knew that I could count on you, Luigi. Now, we shall face him together. Now, take my hand.”

    Luigi did so only for the woman to disappear, replaced by the familiar black whip now in his hand. That familiar sensation of calming reassurance that he felt whenever he’d held the Vampire Killer before returned, and he realized now that it had been her presence helping him the entire time.

    “Death, to me!” Dracula yelled as he stepped away from the table. “We fight together!”

    “There seems to be some misunderstanding here.” Death said, floating over to Luigi’s side. “I am not that crude shade in my image that you seem to have mistaken me for. I am not under your control.”

    “What?” Dracula snapped. “How can this be?”

    “I will not explain my reasons for being here,” Death said, then turned to Luigi. “I’d like to apologize for attacking you earlier. Severing your spirit from your body was vital to ensuring your survival throughout this ordeal and revealing my reasoning at the time would have tipped my hand too early.”

    “Oh, um, apology accepted?” Luigi wasn’t really sure how to think about that, so instead turned his focus back to the battle that was about to break out.

    “Very well,” Dracula spat out. “I had been planning on humoring you but I think I’ll just skip to the end.”

    The image of a man before them began to shift and transform. Horn sprouted from his head and a tail grew out as his body grew and contorted into a hulking, demonic green gargoyle with wings growing from its arms. It seemed vaguely reminiscent of the blue demon he had fought earlier but somehow seemed far more ferocious and bestial.

    “Now, enough words!” Dracula roared. “Have at y-”

    The monster was silenced as the door to the throne room suddenly shook with a loud thump. Everyone’s attention turned to it as it shook again. The third time, the doors burst open as a man with long white hair lowered his foot back to the ground, a sword drawn in one hand while a spear was held in the other.

    “Alucard?” Luigi questioned.

    “What are you doing here!” Dracula demanded.

    “The two of you were not the only consciousness brought to life within these pages,” Alucard explained. “It wasn’t just the whip that stood in your way all of this time, but the valiant men and women who have risen to the call to defeat you in all of your various incarnations. Individually, none of them may have left enough of an impact to manifest properly here, but together their will stop you has brought me forth.”

    “I have had enough of this!” Dracula roared to the heavens. “I’m putting an end to it before any more interlopers can interfere!”

    The world around them seemed to drain off all color, taking on the appearance of ink on paper as the castle was torn apart. Luigi, Death and Alucard found themselves facing Dracula not in the grand dining room but on a stretch of bleached brick floor floating amid an endless void of swirling white stars and drifting sections of the ruined castle.

    Dracula himself then furthered his own transformation as three pairs of purple wings sprouted from his body, one from his shoulders, one around his waist and a third growing up from around his neck like a high shirt collar. His tail also turned purple and grew, splitting apart into two worm-like appendages ending with mouths full of sharp fangs. A single black eye opened up from his belly and long white hair, similar to what he had back in his humanoid form, grew out from between his curled yellow horns.

    “This! Ends! Now!”

    Dracula charged, claws bared, straight towards Luigi. The green-clad plumber ignored his shaking knees and lashed out with the Vampire Killer, striking him in the stomach eye. While the monster may have flinched, it didn’t stop its charge until Death tackled him, forcing Dracula to the side where Alucard struck him with his spear.

    The monster let out a roar and flapped its wings, all of them, to escape into the air. Luigi and his allies stood back to back to back as Dracula circled around them before spewing a stream of fire in their direction. Luigi ran to one side while Death flew in the other direction and Alucard turned into a pat to dodge out of the way. Where the fire hit the ground, however, pillars of flame emerged and shot out in every direction. Luigi barely managed to squeeze between two of the flame pillars as they rushed by. He then ran up to get closer to Dracula only for the avatar of Chaos to start firing lasers from the mouths of its tail. He had to dance around to avoid getting hit but the distraction gave Death the opportunity he needed to swoop around and strike Dracula from behind.

    The green and purple monstrosity twisted around in the air and thrust his hip wings out, launching a ball of molten lava through magic. Death tanked the attack but was forced to retreat for the moment. Dracula then turned his attention back to Luigi only for a large white wolf to suddenly fall onto him and sink its teeth into his shoulder. Dracula let out a howl of pain and dropped to the ground, giving Luigi the chance to run in and start wailing on him with the Vampire Killer. After Luigi got a few good hits in, however, Dracula exploded into a swarm of bats that flew around and recollected themselves into his monstrous form out of their range. The wolf turned back into Alucard and readied his weapons in a defensive stance beside Luigi.

    “It looks like, after all this time, we’ve finally got the chance to fight my father together,” Alucard said.

    “Oh, um, yeah.” Luigi nodded. He was also glad to have his friend beside him this one last time. Even if he was a bit confused as to whether said friend even existed or not. Now wasn’t the time to think about that, however.

    “I know I’m not really in a place to make requests of you but after this, if you ever get the chance, I’d like for you to seek out the real Alucard,” the white-haired man said as Dracula charged up his next attack. “He won’t have any memories of your time with me and I can’t say that I know what would have happened to him after the battle of 1999 but if he’s still out there, I’m sure that he’d like to meet you and hear your stories of what happened here.”

    “I will,” Luigi replied, and he meant it. “If we could be friends in here, then I’m sure that we can be friends in the real world, too.”

    “Thank you.” Alucard closed his eyes, a smile on his face. “That’s what I needed to hear.”

    Dracula launched a large spiral of flames from his mouth that would have covered the whole area with fire. Luigi panicked and motioned to run off to the side but stopped as Death dove in front of him and repelled the flames by rapidly spinning his scythe. While they were momentarily protected from the fire, Alucard sheathed his sword and pulled out what looked like a bright green marble.

    “I want you to have this,” he said, pushing the marble into Luigi’s hand.

    “What is this?” Luigi said, turning over the small gemstone.

    “Powerful magic,” Alucard smiled. “Place it into the hilt of your whip and it will aid you. This is my final gift, Luigi. A thank you for all that you’ve done for me. Not just as Alucard but as all of the allies that you’ve helped on this journey. Goodbye.”

    Before Luigi had a chance to object, Dracula’s inferno came to an end and Alucard turned back into a bat, flying off. He watched as the amalgam all everyone he’d met since getting sucked into this crazy book flew towards Dracula. The demonic being threw a ball of lava at him but Alucard effortlessly flew around it

    “DIE, MONSTER!” Alucard returned to humanoid form at the last moment and impaled his spear through the giant eyeball in Dracula’s stomach. “YOU DON’T BELONG IN THIS WORLD!”

    Dracula let out a roar of pain and sank his massive jaws into Aluard’s shoulder, only for Alucard to run his sword through the monster’s neck. Dracula let out a weak gurgle as the cuts and scraps that had built up on him throughout the fight began to glow with growing intensity. Then he exploded into a ball of blinding light.

    When Luigi’s vision cleared, he found himself still standing on that white patch of brick floor floating in the void, Death drifting by his side. But the space around them seemed calm. The stars and shards of broken castle that danced around wildly before were now calm, unmoving. Before them, Dracula knelt, returned to human form and clutching at his stomach in pain.

    “So, this is the end,” Dracula said weakly as Luigi slowly walked up to him. There was still a fire of determination in his eyes but he seemed too drained to keep fighting. “One last chance? It’s not too late to take my power. To become the new Dark Lord.”

    “No.” Luigi shook his head. Looking down at the Vampire Killer in his left hand and the strange marble in his left, he remembered Alucard’s final words to him. He placed the gem up against the base of the whip’s hilt and the two seemed to merge so that the green gem was imbedded within it. To his surprise, the Vampire Killer’s cord ignited in fire.

    “It is time,” the Vampire Killer’s voice, likely the voice of Sara Trantoul, sounded in his mind. “Finish him.”

    Luigi closed his eyes and slashed the whip through the air. He heard one final scream as Dracula met his end and the world around him slowly ceased to be.

    * S * R * B *​

    Luigi found himself lying on his back, his whole body aching. When he opened his eyes and slowly sat up, he found himself sitting back in the study of his old mansion. The vacuum was knocked over to the side and the bookcase that had fallen was lying on the ground in front of him. For a moment, he thought that it was all a dream. That he’d been knocked out and that none of what he’d experienced was real. Then he saw the old book on the ground. The Grimoire of Souls, sitting on the plush floor in front of him. He stared at the old tome for a moment in disbelief before it suddenly caught fire. Luigi scrambled to grab a fire extinguisher before remembering that he didn’t have one on hand. He was going to have to change that before he and Daisy could settle in. After a few seconds, the Grimoire had burnt away completely, not even leaving a scorch mark behind on the carpet. A wisp of blueish flame seemed to drift up from where it had been before getting sucked up into the old lantern that Death held out.

    Oh, Death was there. Luigi hadn’t even noticed him.

    “Glad to finally get that taken care of,” Death said before turning to Luigi. “Sorry again for the inconvenience. I’m sure that was probably a lot for you. But, if it brings you any comfort, we likely won’t be seeing each other again until your time comes. While I can’t say for sure when that will be, I’m sure you’ll live a long and happy life. Until then, Luigi, son of Mario Mario Senior and Daniella Verducci, goodbye.”

    And with that, Luigi was left alone. He just sat there, on the floor, looking up. It felt like a lifetime ago that he was last in this room, when this whole adventure started. Looking out the window where he could see the sun starting to set over the horizon, he realized that it had likely only been a few hours. He had so many jumbled emotions welling up inside him, so many half-formed thoughts and questions. Part of him just wanted to cry.

    “Hey, you down here, Boss!” That was Ridley’s voice.

    “Um, Mister Luigi!” And that was Roshi’s.

    Luigi slowly rose to his feet, turning to the doorway as his two employees walked into the room.

    “Oh, there you are!” Ridley’s eyes widened, concern deep in his voice. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you, where have you been?”

    “Just…” Luigi wasn’t sure what he wanted to say. “Just-a living through some old memories.”

    “You sure you’re okay, Boss?” Ridley asked. “You look kind of shaken up.”

    “I-I’ll be fine,” Luigi said, though he didn’t really feel like it.

    “Hey, what’s that?” Roshi pointed to something on the floor and Luigi turned to see what it was.

    The Vampire Killer.

    The black leather whip, green gem still set in its base, was sprawled out along the floor beside where Luigi had woken up.

    “N-nothing,” Luigi shook his head, turning back to the purple space dragon and heavyset yellow yoshi. “Just… Hey, why don’t we-a go to the Pasta Pit for-a dinner tonight, my-a treat? You guys can-a head out now, I’ll-a meet up with you there. I just… I-a have something that I-a need to do. Alone.”

    Roshi seemed confused but Ridley understood even if he didn’t know the specifics of what was going on. He placed a hand on his smaller companion’s shoulder and pushed him out of the room.

    “Yeah, we’ll see you there,” Ridley said as they left. “Try not to be too late, or we might eat without you.”

    Once they were gone, Luigi turned back to the old whip and gently picked it up. He felt that same feeling that he had whenever he held it in the book, though he had no idea how that was possible.

    “Congratulations, Luigi.” He nearly jumped at the sound of Sara’s voice. “You’ve defeated Chaos and returned to the real world.”

    “How are you-a here?” Luigi felt a bit silly talking to a whip.

    “If you had taken Dracula’s side, then his power would have escaped the Grimoire of Souls with you. It seems that since you chose to fight with me, you got to keep me,” she explained. “I can’t say that I was expecting that to happen, though.”

    “But what about Alucard?” Luigi asked, getting his hopes up. “He-a fought with us, too, right?”

    “I don’t know what would have happened if he had survived,” the magical whip answered honestly. “But he chose to sacrifice himself so that you could defeat Dracula more easily, so it seems that he was not able to leave with us. I’m afraid that he is likely lost forever.”

    “Oh.” He felt like he should have known better. “But, what now?”

    “That will be up to you,” the Vampire Killer told him. “You could go back to your life as it was before. Or, you could start up a new chapter of the Belmont clan here on this world. Luigi Belmont does have a nice ring to it, after all.”

    “I’m not a Belmont.” Luigi shook his head. “I’m a Mario.”

    “Well, I do sense that you have some Belmont blood in you,” the Vampire Killer said. “Not enough that you’d be able to wield the original me but you do seem to have some Belmont ancestry. Either way, though, this me is now bound to you and your bloodline from henceforth. Belmont, Mario, it doesn’t matter what name you choose.”

    Luigi considered that for a moment, but ultimately decided that he’d have to spend more time thinking it over. The food that he’d eaten in the Grimoire apparently hadn’t stuck with him and he was starving. “I’ll-a have to get back to you on-a that one.”

    “Of course, take your time. You have your whole life ahead of you to figure out what you want to do, after all.”

    “Yeah,” Luigi nodded before tucking the whip away in the pocket of his overalls. “I-a guess I do. And a wonderful woman who I’m-a going to share that life with. But for now, let’s-a go!”

    THE END?​

    * S * R * B *​

    Death watched as Luigi left the mansion. While he was completely imperceptible to the living whenever he didn’t choose to be, he still thought it best to wait. Now that he was alone, he pulled the old soul lantern out from under his robes.

    “It’s good to finally have you back in one piece, Master.”

    He stared into the blue flame caught within it. Dracula’s soul, now fully intact thanks to Luigi’s unwitting assistance. Now that the fragment of the Dark Lord’s soul that had been trapped within the pages of the Grimoire of Souls had been returned, Dracula was now finally ready to move on to the next life

    Or at least he would have been if that’s what Death had planned for him. But no, his old master was far too important for that.

    In an instant, Dracula was on Earth. Venice, Italy, to be precise. In one of the rooms of a famous hotel popular with honeymooners. This particular room was currently occupied by a certain Lorenzo and Himiko Cruz, who were currently busy on their last night before having to return home to Spain. Very busy indeed.

    “These should make fine parents for your next life.”

    Death held up the lantern containing Dracula’s soul and waited for the right moment. A pair of satisfied screams served as his cue and Death opened up the container next to them. The ghostly whisp of soul exited and was quickly sucked into its new vessel, where it would develop and grow.

    “Farewell, Master. I look forward to seeing what you make of yourself this time.”

    With that task done, Death left through the wall and floated to the hotel roof, overlooking the city. Now that he was finally finished with that task, it was time to decide what to do next. He wasn’t in any particular rush. As a manifestation of a primal force of nature, he was not tethered to any one location or manifestation, after all. A part of him existed wherever a life reached its conclusion to shepherd the soul into the next world, regardless of any conscious thought on his part. However, when something particular caught his interest, he could make that particular ‘him’ become his primary vessel. And as it happened, it seemed that one of his other pet projects was coming to fruition as well. In another instant, he was in yet another world.

    Hyrule, a realm between the material and magical, where one of his favorite people had just met an untimely end. Again.

    “Hello, Link.”

    To be Continued…​

    * S * R * B *​

    Luigi will return in Super Ridley Bros 2: Subcon Nightmare

    Death will return in Cruel Dragon’s Thesis

    Dracula will return​
    And another story comes to an end! I wasn’t expecting this to end the same weak as Dread Reckoning but that one ended up a couple chapters shorter than intended and I didn’t end up stretching this last chapter in two like I thought that I might.
    I had a blast working on this story, though I feel like I didn’t handle the time-jumping storyline as well as I could have. I find myself wondering now if I should have had a more straightforward adventure closer to Harmony of Dispair and Grimoire of Souls, where Luigi ends up traveling a Castlevania that’s a patchwork of different eras alongside a team of Simon, Alucard, Shanoa and at least one other character. Regardless, this is the story that I wrote and there’s not much sense in dwelling on what could have been.

    The chapter title is part of a quote from Bram Stoker’s original Dracula novel. When Jonathan Harker is staying at Dracula’s castle near the beginning of the book, Dracula tells him: “Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring.”

    When writing the end of the last chapter, I considered coming up with more named characters to join in, who’d be made of up descendants of some of the various non-Belmont protagonists. But then I decided not to do that because I didn’t want a bloated cast of OCs introduced just before the story ends when they’ll likely never show up again and don’t really serve any narrative purpose. However, I partly backtracked when writing this chapter in the form of Estela Lecarde, a descendant of Eric Lecarde who inherited his spear instead of the magical proficiency that seems to be common in the women in her family, such as her cousin Hermina from GoS. Will, we ever see this character again? You’ll just have to wait and see.

    Oh, and Luigi’s accent is back. It’s funny how I spent so long wanting to get rid of it but waiting for what I thought would be the best time but then once I stopped writing him with the accent, it just felt wrong. Luigi’s dialogue didn’t sound like Luigi, anymore.

    Dracula’s final form is a combination of his second form from Rondo of Blood/Symphony of the Night and Circle of the Moon.

    Death has been an interesting character to write because my interpretation of him in these stories has changed so dramatically since I introduced him back in Super Ridley Bros. There, while intended to technically be the Castlevania character as a build-up to this story, was inspired more by Terry Pratchett’s character of Death in the Discworld series as a technically neutral but mostly amiable character. Even when I wrote the first few chapters of this story, I had that interpretation in mind, with the potential explanation of his working for Dracula being that it’s due to some binding magical contract that forces him to serve the Dark Lord aka Dracula. Then, as I’ve been working on worldbuilding and developing future storylines for the Ridley ‘verse, I made a complete 180%. Death is not only willingly serving Dracula but even has his own malicious schemes going on in the background. He’s not exactly fully evil like his Netflix counterpart was but he’s certainly not a good guy by any stretch of the imagination. He’s still technically a neutral entity but that is very much not a good thing.

    Anyway, this has been Symphony of Luigi! I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did. Next up is Super Ridley Bros 2.
     

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