Author's note: Well, here is chapter five. Took me a while to get my muse to focus, and she kept taking breaks on me, but I've finally gotten it out. Now, it has variations from the Bram Stoker novel, as well as some obvious inspiration from the movie with Gary Oldman and a bit from Van Helsing, and some things are not specifically described or shown, but there will still be a few flashbacks in the next few chapters. Anyway, hope you enjoy and please review.
Disclaimer: I do not own, please do not sue. Savvy?
CHAPTER FIVE: REVERIE OF THE PAST
They were inside the Nautilus. They were in the stateroom. They were all sitting at a table. They were all looking to Mina.
Mina wanted to run from the room, part of her longing to just give in to him and let him take it all away, erase the feelings she had for these people, the pain it caused her, the memories it brought to her mind. Part of her just wanted to flee to some unknown corner of the earth where not even he could find her.
She swallowed and started to speak instead.
"You all know that I am vampire now, turned by a vampire named Dracula. You know that I was married once to a man named Jonathan Harker and have kept his name as my own. You know that we were helped by Professor Van Helsing. But what you do not know, is why and how," she began, her eyes staying focused on the table, every so often flickering up to Arthur.
He may still blame her, rightfully so in her mind, he may still hate her, again rightfully so, but he was the only other one in the room that knew the extent of the damage those dark days caused. He was the only other one alive to tell the tale, and she looked to him to force herself to keep going.
"The why, I myself still do not full understand, but I know most of it. The how, that is much easier to explain. Chance, Fate, Serendipity, Destiny, whatever you wish to call it, tangled us all up in that mess," she continued. "But it began when my husband's predecessor, Mr. Renfield, was driven insane before he could close a real estate deal with a foreign count. My husband was sent to finalize the transaction. That count was Count Dracula."
Mina paused, closing her eyes as she remembered all the time she woke up in the night to her husband's cries of fright and pleas for grace in his sleep, haunted with nightmares. She remembered him begging for her sire's three whore not to touch him, to stop corrupting his soul.
"When he went though, the count was already planning on keeping him there, and coming to London to wreak his havoc and shadow the land with his kind. And to keep Jonathan there, his three brides took my husband, fiancé at that time, as their plaything."
The Englishman walked into the room, listening to the soft voices on the wind, calling his name. The windows were open and moonlight illuminated the room, white and red sheer curtains blowing everywhere. There were lavish sofas and round beds, satiny sheets and plush pillows covering them.
It looked like some foreign, exotic brothel, only empty of inhabitant, the whore that profited and the men that gained their gratification through depraved methods.
Jonathan Harker looked around, confused and unnerved. Not a soul could be seen in the room, but he was certain he had heard someone calling his name. A feminine, soft voice, gentle and tempting. Reminding him of Mina, dear Mina, waiting and wondering back in England.
As he walked a little farther into the room, he was unaware of the three pairs of hungry eyes watching him. The brides licked their lips, their ears humming with the beautiful song of blood coursing through the man's body.
But Verona would not let them strike yet. She wanted to watch, wanted to study him. A human man, pure of heart and innocent soul. Her eyes grew as curious as hungry, for there was something in her, some forgotten, dormant part of her, crying out for mercy for the man. As if it had been asleep, but the human's unsoiled being had awoken it. And now it was pleading on his behalf, even as he stood down on the ground, unaware.
Verona did not listen though, for that part of her always brought back flashes of memories that she did not want to remember. Her master did not want her to remember.
Though the brides would be going against their master should they go for the man. The other two did not know this, but Verona did. She had not been told, but she was oldest and knew her master better than he did himself in some ways.
He did not want them to turn the young man, nor did he want them to feed on him yet. He was planning something, something important and vast.
Verona did not care though. Her master was forgetting her, forgetting Marishka, and even Aleera, who still pined for his love and affection to the point of insanity and obsession, to the point that the other brides wondered if Dracula kept her constantly in the strongest throes of his thrall.
So she and her sisters would strike sooner than he wished.
Finally, she looked to the other brides and nodded, and they dropped to the ground, gracefully and silently, behind the man.
Verona's eyes burned crimson, and she smiled a wicked smile, exposing her perfect fangs. Her master could go after what he wanted, but she and her sisters would not starve while he forgot about them.
Most of the tale had been told, and Arthur had mercifully controlled his resentment and kept his tongue silent. Mina was grateful beyond words, but she showed no sign of it. They both knew she was leaving many details out, except those that were vital, but only she knew the full extent of what was left unspoken.
She glanced at him briefly, and then her eyes went back to the table. She had not made any eye contact with any of the League, not even for a second. She couldn't, not yet.
"Once Dracula had me under his thrall, his blood flowing through my veins, he fled to his homeland of Transylvania," she continued. "I told them of his plans and in turn he learned of all their strategies and desperate tactics."
Her words had been pain filled even as she spoke like a machine, a nameless, soulless recording narrating a story without inflection. It was horrid, bringing up everything so vividly, forcing herself to stare at those memories in the face. She knew it was necessary, she knew it was needed.
But his voice was growing more and more tempting, more and more comforting as it whispered beautiful lies of peace and blissful ignorance of her past. Still, she would not give in.
As she opened her mouth to start anew, Arthur cleared his throat, and Mina looked up at him. He met her eyes and she saw pity in his, and knew that though she was not fully forgiven, he would help to ease her pain as best he could. She knew it was because of Lucy, because of his own pain, because he could understand to some degree.
She was grateful beyond words, and nodded. She sat back in her seat, and let him take over for her.
"We knew it would be tricky, but we would split up, Van Helsing and Mina going straight on to Castle Dracula, while the rest of us tried to beat him, or at least catch up with him and stop him before he could reach his sanctuary. In the end, that battle we thought was the final one was fought on the castle grounds."
Arthur saw Lucy with ever kill. He saw her, covered in blood, some not even her own, as she lie in her coffin. He saw her as she lie sick in bed. He saw her as she danced with him, beautiful and giddy, vibrant life in his arms. He saw her, and showed no mercy.
Because in this day, they could not show mercy. This day, they had to be God's vengeance.
He had killed three gypsies already, more men than he had ever expected to kill, but then again, he had not expected to kill one man. Nor had he expected to lose his love before they could even wed, only to have to kill the monster she became in her death, giving her peace through violence.
Count Dracula had ruined their plans, their happiness. Everyone, he had destroyed in some small measure to some incredible degree.
Arthur Holmwood killed and killed, Lucy's screams still ringing in his ears.
Her mind was a storm, her thoughts a whirlwind. She could not remember who she was, who she had once been, who she wanted to be. She could not decide who she loved, who she hated. It was all a tangled mess, his will and hers at war inside her head.
"Mina! Mina, you must fight him!" she could hear the professor shouting to her, shaking her as her eyes stayed locked on the gypsy carriage. "Mina, he will kill us all and drag you into Hell with him, you must not give in!"
Those words registered in Mina's mind, but before she could say anything, could fight through the haze to form words, sentences, she was pulled from the professor's grip.
Dracula stood in front of her, towering and dark, seeming to snuff out all of the sun's remaining light as he stood between her and Van Helsing. He had burst from his prison and protective at last, no longer weak to the sun's rays or to these men and their mortal weapons.
"I am already in Hell, Van Helsing," he said, voice as threatening as the storms he could command. "It is the cold void of existence that I live. No light, no warmth. Except her. And you would take her from me," he said as he stepped toward the professor. His voice was now a soft hiss, serpentine yet alluring to Mina's senses all the same.
But the professor would not relent. "You want to destroy what light and warmth she has, brings to you!" Van Helsing shouted, holding up his beloved and sacred crucifix. "You would snuff out her soul and lose the very thing you supposedly love."
Dracula snarled and struck Van Helsing, sending him backwards into the ground with violent force. He walked over to him while Mina simply watched, completely empty of feeling as her mind ran in circles trying to decide what she was to feel.
All the others were fighting, gypsies against Englishmen. A cry of agony reached her ears, the voice almost unrecognizable in the cry, but it was familiar all the same, and Mina turned to see Quincey Morris fall to the ground, a horrid wound in his back.
But his bowie knife found its target, and his gypsy murderer went down with the Texan, his throat sliced open and bleeding crimson onto the snow.
"Forgive me," she whispered, meeting his eyes briefly before she ran into the castle, searching. She knew a way, she knew a way to save them all.
At last she found what she needed. A long broadsword with Latin inscriptions on the blade, speaking of truth, God, nobility, trust, faith, Heaven, justice. It had been Vlad Tepes', and now it would be Dracula's, in a far different way.
Mina would never have been able to even move it, much less carry it out to the battleground, if not for her master's strength, flowing in her veins. But he had given her that gift, that curse, and she would use it for good. She had to.
For Lucy. For Quincey. For Jonathan. For Prof. Van Helsing. For Arthur. For Dr. Seward. For herself.
"That's all it takes? A sword through the heart?" Sawyer asked as this Arthur finished telling them what had happened with Dracula the first time he had gone after Mina. It seemed just a little too simply a defeat for someone Mina and Arthur both feared so greatly.
"No. It was his sword, with inscriptions that were supposed to keep him from being able to come back," Mina corrected, her tone firm. "They were sacred, holy. And yet, he has somehow managed to destroy their effect. Which means he is stronger and more powerful than we thought."
Tom nodded, and once again wished he didn't have such an eager mouth. He should have known, since Dracula was back, that a sword through the heart was not all it took.
"I had feared he was somehow finding a way to escape their power over him," Arthur added. "Aleera hinted at it when she killed the professor."
The American heard a hint of pain and sorrow in the man's voice, but his curiosity was winning out over tact. He had a feeling this Aleera was the last remaining bride Mina had mentioned. But he wanted to know for certain.
"Aleera?" he asked cautiously. You're too curious for your own good, Sawyer.
Arthur looked over at him, eyes dark and angry. "Dracula's last whore. He sent her there to kill Van Helsing, she told me that much before receiving a silver crucifix against her neck. After that, she left. I have not seen her since, but I am certain she is watching over Dracula's homeland while her master is away."
Tom nodded and looked down. He felt guilty for bringing up the subject. After all, he wouldn't have liked talking about M all that much if someone asked him. Not after losing two people he loved dearly to that bastard.
"We should rest," Mina said after a moment, her voice breaking into Tom's thoughts. "This has been a trying day, and we must be at our best when we go after Dracula. I do not know how strong he is, but if he is at all stronger than before, and he obviously must be, we do not have much time."
Tom nodded and looked up at Mina. "She's right. Everyone, go get as much sleep as possible, rest, do whatever you need to prepare for this mission."
He glanced at Arthur apologetically, but the English nobleman was already out of his chair and leaving. He sighed and mentally kicked himself while trying to avoid his own memories of dying friends. But painful memories seemed to come back to him with every movement he made as he started to leave the room.
A hand was suddenly placed on his shoulder, and he turned to see Mina standing next to him.
"He was not angry with you," she assured him softly, her own haunting past seen in her eyes. "He is angry at Dracula and Aleera. And himself. Perhaps not so unlike you," she added, then pulled her hand away as she walked out of the room.
The American watched her go, musing over her words. He had no idea how she pulled off living with her own pain and comforting everyone else's that they tried so hard to hide, but he needed to find out someday.
A sound reached Arthur's ears as he lie in the bed of his inn room. He and the professor had not yet left Budapest, Hungary after the slaying of the vampire known as Bathory, the Blood Countess. They had just made their kill the previous afternoon, and the professor had needed to rest a night before they left for their next destination.
But as Arthur heard a sound, familiar and yet not, he froze. He recognized the sound, a cackle, gleeful and wicked. He did not recognize who it belonged to, but it was not good, all the same.
Forcing his body to move, Arthur got off his bed, grabbing his bowie knife and rushed out of his room, heading for the sound. It was outside, where the professor had been last time he had seen him, the aging man wanting some fresh air before bed.
There was another cackle, and then a cry of pain, and Arthur recognized the voice that made the horrifying sound.
Professor Van Helsing.
"Keep everyone inside!" Arthur shouted to the innkeeper before bursting out of the inn only to be greeted by a gory sight that made his flesh crawl, his stomach clench, and his blood boil with fury and despair.
There was the professor, his mentor and guide in his new profession, his new life, lying limp in the hands of a vampire wench, her hair blond with a touch of red, red eyes that turned a haunting and catlike green. Her lips were crimson and blood dripped down from the corners of her mouth, while the professor's neck was a torn and shredded mess.
"NO!!" Arthur shouted in anger even as his eyes grew blurry with tears. In his blind rage, he threw the bowie knife at the vampire, but she easily caught it as she tossed the professor to the ground roughly.
"Do you think you can kill me, a bride of Dracula, while doing my master's bidding and feeding on the life liquid of his enemy?" she asked tauntingly, her tone mocking and condescending, and she cackled again.
"Dracula is dead!" Arthur spat back, glaring daggers at her, looking for an opening. But she held his bowie knife, and he had no other weapon on him.
The bride cackled louder. "My master can never die, not until he wishes to. And he never will!" she replied before dropping the knife and bursting into a flock of bats, the hideous creatures flying away from the city swiftly. Her cackling still rang in the air though, sending chills down Arthur's spine.
Kneeling by the professor, Arthur gently cradled the old man, trying to see if any life had been left in his mentor's body. But the professor was limp and heavy, no breathing, no beating, his bleeding beginning to stop as his body registered the cease of existence.
"I'm sorry, Professor," Arthur whispered. "I am so sorry."
Arthur reached over to the discarded bowie knife and raised it high as he sat Van Helsing's corpse back on the ground. Closing his eyes, he brought the bowie knife down swiftly.
Love was something Aleera could not fully understand. While she believed she loved her master, it was not like the love she saw. It was selfish and possessive, it was unrequited, it was unnatural, it was her tie to him, him that did not love her for he could not love.
She could not grasp the love between the two in the room, bodies intermingled, hands roaming, voices raised in blissful cries. They were truthfully making love, and even though Aleera was seeing it, she could not grasp it.
Even before Zaharia had become the wolf he know was, he had loved Mariana with every breath, every heartbeat, every fiber of his being. They had always been bound, but the wolf had made it nature's tie, like Aleera's to her master, yet, different.
The youngest and last remaining bride, watching from their balcony, perched carefully at an edge where they could not see her, if they were ever able to open their eyes and take their gaze off each other. She had heard and smelt them, had known what they were doing, and had been curious. For she did not know what love was, did not comprehend what it was.
Yet, she wanted to, even though she was a being that could not love in the same sense and therefore could never understand it. The only love she would ever know was the empty yearning for a master that did not want her.
She hated the two lovers before her. She hated their love, hated their ability to feel it. They should be just as cursed as she was.
Dawn was nearing, and they were slowing. Aleera had to leave now.
But she wanted to see them sleep in each other's arms, wanted to see them bathe in the afterglow hat burned her more than any sun ever could. She wanted to know what it felt like.
She never would.
Campion Bond walked out of the museum, holding his large umbrella over his head as he went down the stairs toward his carriage. He was to meet with Mycroft Holmes tonight, and give him a briefing over what had been happening, the new mission that had been forced upon the League.
But as he reached the carriage, he noticed that the driver was in an odd position, head back, slouching, hands lying limply at his sides. As Bond looked closer, he saw raindrops mix with blood seeping from the man's neck, and he panicked, turning to run back into the museum.
A dark man in refined clothing stood in front of him though, blocking his path. He had long, dark hair, made darker by the rain soaking it through, and a fairly thick beard. The dark hair and clothing contrasted sharply with his pale skin. His gray eyes stared at Bond and were much more frightening than any stormy sky he had ever looked at, even though his lips were forming a smile.
Bond took a step back, intimidated even though the man was no taller than he was, and did not look very strong. But he was imposing and frightening, cold and cruel as Death itself, with his calm posture and hands clasped behind his back as if engaging in a meeting with an acquaintance.
"Campion Bond, I presume?" came the man's voice, smooth as a spider's web and just as dangerous, seeming to spin around Bond and trap him there in his spot. "Forgive my rude interruption, I see you have places to go, but I had to speak with you," he continued, and Bond detected a hint of an accent.
European, but he could not place it.
But he had a very good idea of where the man came from nonetheless. And who he was.
"You see, you just recently saw someone whom I desperately wish to get back in touch with, a Wilhelmina Murray," he went on, taking a step down, coming closer to Bond who could not move from his spot. "I was wondering, how did she take the news of my return?"
"Badly," Bond whispered, voice hoarse with fear. He did not know why he had answered, but perhaps it was the threatening stare that the man held him in. "She was visibly shaken."
The man smirked wickedly, exposing bloodied fangs as his eyes began to glow a matching color. "Good," he stated before lunging, sinking his fangs into Bond's neck and drinking viciously, not sparing the disgusting, gluttonous looking man any pain of the feeding.
Bond's limbs flailed, but Dracula was able to hold him still with graceful ease as his fangs tore at Bond's neck, his tongue licking up blood as it poured and then sinking his fangs back into to suck more out. He devoured the crimson liquid as the man began to go limp, and he pulled away, fangs tearing flesh out. He dropped the body unceremoniously and looked to the sky.
Dawn would come soon, within two hours if not sooner. The bodies would be discovered then, just as he wanted.
The count's body dissolved into bats, and he returned to his abode, ready and waiting for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to come after him with a vengeance. And then he could show them the true nature of "extraordinary."