I've tried everything, you know. Garlic. Holy Water. Glycerine48. Dracula on a stick. And they're still not mine. (sighs)
This fic was conceived from an Out-Of-The-Mind-Experience. Not to be taken seriously, thankyouverymuch.
Summary: (Hopefully) A series of slice-of-life-in-The-Order fics. Warnings for Plot-less Pointlessness.
A Splice of Life
First Slice- Charades
as gesticulated by: Nikoru Sanzo
"Congratulations, Van Helsing! Though I'm not the least bit surprised that you've disobeyed Cardinal Jinette's orders to take this one back alive for further study, you were considerate enough to bring me this creature's spleen."
"That's not a spleen."
"Of course it's a spleen! I've spent a considerable, though not really much, time studying the spleens of the creatures of night."
"And I've spent more time pulling out the spleens from the creatures of night. And I say that's not a spleen."
Carl was getting impatient. He wagged the fleshy offal at the hunter, obliviously splattering himself, Van Helsing and the others with questionable goo and ichors.
"You had to pull the spleens out because you've been sticking your tojos in them instead of bringing the monsters back alive!"
Van Helsing gave an annoyed snort. He seized the contested entrails from the friar's hand and shook it with equal ferocity. "This is not a spleen! Whoever said that basilisks do have spleens?"
Carl's mouth dropped open, his accusatory finger frozen at mid-air. Of course, no person alive has ever brought back one to prove that or otherwise.
But it was in such times that a cornered prey finds in itself the unfathomable courage to fight back. And friars were of no exception. Carl drew himself to his full height as he aimed his barb at the hunter, grabbing the other end of the contested "spleen".
"You wouldn't know what a basilisk looks like even if it sneaked up behind you and bit you on the arse!"
Van Helsing bent down to meet the younger man's angry gaze. Snorting like a bull offended, he pointed at his eyes with his two fingers as he retorted indignantly.
"Would I say it's a basilisk if I hadn't stared at it in the eye and made sure?"
No sooner had those words left Van Helsing' s mouth did he realize the folly of proclaiming his bravery. In a twinkle of an eye, Carl was already poking him at the ribs.
"For someone who has stared in the eyes of a creature that kills by sight alone, you look awfully alive to me!"
Van Helsing growled as he released the disputed innards and attempted to grab the friar by his neck. His dark eyes narrowed, and in the annals of the unnamed furniture and lab equipment that perished in the encounter, it would be sworn that menacing sparks haloed the hunter's face.
"Do you want to know how it feels like to be killed by sight alone?"
Carl gave a frightened eep and stepped away from the reach of certain death. He gingerly sidestepped around the table. His shaking hands pushed back beakers and other delicate flasks in an effort to reduce the possible number of future casualties.
"Now, now, Van Helsing! Killing by sight alone doesn't involve the slightest bit of force, brute or not!"
The friar's supplications were falling upon deaf ears. Van Helsing pursued his quarry with unhurried but determined steps. Even as chairs, wheelbarrows, and a troop of hapless monks were thrown in his way, Van Helsing merely (and roughly, we might add) shoved them aside.
"It's useless, Carl! You've set the trap, now come see what you just caught for yourself!"
The friar hollered back, "Eh, you don't look so trapped to me! Go on! Shoo! Thou must run free with thine own kind, thou wild beast that can't be slain by a basilisk's stare!"
Carl continued to plead and weave his way through tables, suspicious contraptions on trolleys, and the Order's other members who had now wisely chosen to step out of harm's way.
They finally reached the far end of the lab, leaving a trail of traumatized and annoyed monks, not to mention a handful of equipment that would've fared better had they been run over by a pack of manticores.
Fortune smiled upon the friar for he chanced upon Brother Julian, the oldest and most respected member working in the lab. Carl dived behind the venerable octogenarian and peered over the latter's shoulder.
Van Helsing stopped in his tracks and raised an eyebrow. He crossed his arms and sighed.
"Don't prolong your agony, Carl. Leave the innocent bystander out of this."
Unable to put up with the fracas, the aged Brother Julian gingerly laid down a wyvern fang he had been examining. He took off his gloves and stuffed them in a pocket of his apron. He patted Carl's hand before gently removing its viselike grip on his shoulder as he addressed his rancorous neighbors.
"Pardon me, my brothers, but what appendage of which of God's creatures has merited such a spirited discussion?"
Carl spoke first. "Will somebody please inform Mr. Van Helsing to be sure of what a bloody basilisk looks like before he hunts down some random monster, claims that it's indeed a basilisk even though he obviously won a staring contest with it, pulls out the spleen that he thought shouldn't be there, then proceeds nicely to accuse me of not knowing that basilisks have no spleens!"
The old monk stepped away from Carl and approached Van Helsing. He adjusted the bifocals perched upon his nose and gave the hunter a questioning gaze.
Van Helsing defended himself, all the while glaring at Carl. "I haven't been given enough information on the nature of the monster. Reports stated it to be a rather large snake and the townsfolk suspected it was a basilisk. That's the information I cabled to Cardinal Jinette. And besides, in the heat of battle, you tend to forget certain things, do you not?"
"True. Go on, please." Brother Julian replied.
The hunter narrowed his eyes and waited until he saw the young friar gulp nervously. "I would've been sure of what I was dealing with had not a certain little friar made a fuss about wanting to stay in the lab this time. And besides, I could've used a good demon bait too."
Twice more, Carl gulped nervously.
Brother Julian went back to his table and pulled out some papers from underneath a dusty tome. "Van Helsing, we cannot just deny Brother Carl's assertion that it wasn't a basilisk that perished by your hand. It might simply have been a large snake, for a staring contest with the monster did you no harm. And yet the Almighty, who has seen fit to allow the mysterious to dwell alongside what is known, might have found it reasonable to make anomalies out of an anomaly."
Carl's eyes widened. "Are you saying that it could've been a mutated basilisk? One who cannot kill by sight?" He sighed in disappointment when the old monk nodded.
"Still, we shouldn't jump into conclusions," Brother Julian replied. "It might've been a mutated basilisk or your garden variety giant snake. Which accounts for the er… spleen."
The corner of Van Helsing's mouth twitched as he recalled the encounter. "Nothing garden variety about that one. I was in the tunnels when the monster attacked. I thought it would be wise to lead the creature out into the open. That's when I was able to get a good look at its face- or whatever was left of it."
Carl, somewhat confident that he was out of danger, took a few steps towards the hunter. "Whatever was left of it?" he asked.
Van Helsing shrugged. "It got too close to me in the tunnels. I managed to fend it off with a hand axe. Damned thing, excuse me Brother Julian, was still moving even with the topmost part of its head lopped off!"
Brother Julian's brows knitted into a frown. "And so you didn't see if it had a crown?"
"A crown?" Both men turned to the old monk.
The old monk raised his hands and outlined a dome- shaped object above his head. "Yes, a crown. In the Bestiaries, it was discussed that the basilisk is the King of Snakes, hence it was often drawn with a crown- shaped protrusion on its head."
The downcast look on Van Helsing's face told Brother Julian that the "crown", if there was one in the first place, was still somewhere in the tunnels and perhaps would remain lost forever. He smiled and tapped the hunter's shoulder.
"Do not despair. There's another way of identifying the creature you've slain. When you led it out of the tunnels, how did it move?"
Van Helsing's eyes lit up and he rubbed his chin. "It was slithering, all right."
"But how did it slither?" the old monk pressed. At this point, other people in the lab had begun to gather around them and were listening to the conversation with interest.
"Oh, like this, I suppose." Van Helsing spread his arms for balance and began to wobble his entire body. He swayed from left to right, then back and forth, bending his body at the waist.
As the others ooh- ed and ahh- ed at the spectacle, Carl grimaced and stepped into the circle around the basilisk impressionist.
"Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop that insufferable wobbling! It's drowning out my sense of decency! That's not how a proper basilisk slithers about!" An exasperated Carl waved his hands.
Van Helsing ceased his display and shot the friar a skeptical look. "And I bet you know how a basilisk should slither?"
The friar pouted. "Brother Julian said that the basilisk is the King of Snakes. What you've tortured us with is an impression of a half-blind bugbear that's had too much ale! Now let a scholar of the Order show you how a basilisk slithers!"
Carl bit his lip and stretched out his arms before him. He clasped his hands together, bent slightly forwards, thrust his butt out and began to undulate his entire body. As Carl swayed and bucked his hips, his captive audience threw medicinal herbs and weeds, handkerchiefs and catcalls at him.
"Yeah! Shake it, Carl! Shake it!" the monks hooted and whistled.
Carl immediately straightened, his cheeks blushing furiously. "Excuse me, but I am performing a demonstration in the name of science here! I am not some poppet engaging in whatever form of lechery you supposedly holy cretins are cooking up in those tonsured heads of yours!"
One of the monks hollered, "Sure, Carl! Like we don't know what you were wearing last time you stalked the streets of London! (1)" At this everyone either permitted himself a hearty laugh or a side-hurting snigger.
Carl shot Van Helsing a withering glare, but the latter merely grinned and mouthed, "It wasn't me."
Brother Julian chuckled indulgently while he held his hands up to quiet the crowd. "My good brothers, though we are honored to be standing before the world's greatest though out-of-place belly dancers, I am afraid that the poor basilisk has been misrepresented."
"Well, he started the maligning and all!" Carl pointed at Van Helsing, who could only grunt at the accusation.
Brother Julian pushed back his left sleeve to reveal his entire arm. "Let's pretend that my arm is the basilisk's body, my hand it's head." Everyone nodded.
"Now the basilisk, true to its nature as the King of Snakes, does not crawl upon its belly. It does not feed upon the dust, unlike its subjects doomed by the decree of our Creator. Instead, it raises the upper half of its body, like so." Brother Julian bent his forearm upwards at a ninety-degree angle.
The aged monk began to walk around within the circle, forearm still bent while thrusting his left hand forward like a cobra darting its head. " As the King of Snakes, the basilisk carries itself in such lofty fashion, much like a king walking regally amongst commoners." As Brother Julian continued his demonstration, the others either nodded or conveyed their enlightenment with approving murmurs.
Van Helsing gave Carl a triumphant look and was about to open his mouth to speak when Brother Albert, a robust monk who worked at the smithy, jumped eagerly into the circle.
Brother Albert stood beside Brother Julian and rubbed his gloved hands in excitement. "Yes! Yes! A basilisk moves like that. Brother Julian certainly did a clear presentation for us, didn't he? Snakelike creatures, in their hideousness, are marked with a certain gait in their movements as I recall."
Someone from the crowd hollered, "As you recall? What would you know of monsters? You've been dipping your nose into the forge for twenty years!"
Brother Albert puffed his chest with pride. "I'll have you people know that I once accompanied two hunters in Crete as they were seeking out creatures of such terrifying countenance!"
Van Helsing, despite his impatience to resume his story, thought it best to let the monk finish his tale. He glanced at Carl as the friar threw in a question.
"And what kind of creatures would their quarry had been?" Carl asked.
Brother Albert's face broke into a wide grin as he rolled back his sleeves. "Try and see if you can guess correctly!" He raised his hands and placed them above his head. He widened his eyes, bared his teeth into a snarl and began wiggling his fingers above his head.
One of the monks clapped his hands. "I know! I know! That was you when your hair caught fire in the smithy!" The others laughed, prompting Brother Albert to stop his gesticulations and shake his fists instead.
"No, you idiots! That was a-", the offended presenter growled.
"A Gorgon, of course! It has snakes for hair hence your wiggling fingers over your head, right?" Brother Patrick, a Carthusian monk, volunteered the answer. When Brother Albert nodded in satisfaction, Brother Patrick entered the circle.
"My turn! My turn!" he chanted. He breathed deeply and narrowed his eyes as he looked around at the faces in the gathering. Brother Patrick suddenly assumed a horrified expression, eyes wide with terror; mouth gaped in a silent scream. He paced restlessly within the circle as he waved his hands like a willow tree swaying in the wind.
"That was how you reacted when the abbot caught you in his cell, making off with his absinthe and ale like they were water! We heard the screams even though our dormitory was at the other end of the Charterhouse! So much for the fearless Irish!" another Carthusian monk yelled, nearly choking with laughter.
The fact that Carthusians were known for their unrivalled strictness and uncompromising abstinence from worldly pleasures, not to mention their vow of silence, was not lost on the others. As guffaws and hearty slaps on the shoulders went around, Brother Patrick frowned.
"As I recall, you didn't cut such a gallant figure when the apothecary caught you filching his coveted supply of eczema cream, Brother Thomas!" the Carthusian huffed indignantly.
A bespectacled monk made his way through the crowd and tapped the current presenter on the shoulder. "Excuse me, Brother Patrick, am I correct in guessing that you were impersonating a banshee? I have heard that it's a specter unique to your place of birth."
Brother Patrick smiled and shook the other monk's hand. "Well done, Brother Jacob. It's good to know that some of us here have retained their brains, unlike some people with fungus- ridden toes that I know of!" He stepped out of the circle and glared at Brother Thomas while the latter chortled in an unaffected manner.
As Brother Jacob began growling and stomping his feet in an attempt to mimic a certain monster to the tune of some loud guessing made by the others, Van Helsing leaned down to whisper in Carl's ears.
"Where were we again?" he asked.
Carl smacked his left fist on his right palm. "He seems to be portraying a beast walking on all fours! A gryphon? No, it has wings doesn't it? Then Jacob should've been waving his arms and…"
"Carl!" Van Helsing spoke sharply.
The friar replied irritably, "What? Can't you see I'm busy?"
The hunter raised his eyes towards heaven and gave Carl a gentle shove. Gentle enough to have sent Carl stumbling into the circle and muttering curses under his breath.
"Damn it! Are you trying to jinx me?" the friar hissed.
"Yes, Brother Carl?" Brother Jacob turned to the flustered man.
Carl gave an embarrassed laugh. "Did I say 'jinx'? I meant 'sphinx'."
"You are absolutely correct! Now it's your turn!" Brother Jacob happily slapped Carl at the back before retreating into the crowd. Everybody fell into a hush as they trained their eyes on the young friar.
"Well, umm…" Carl stammered.
Someone from the back shouted, "Don't keep us waiting!"
Carl scratched his head and looked around. Now which monster to impersonate? A werewolf. No, too common. A mummy? Can't afford to waste time wrapping himself in bandages. Dracula? Would Van Helsing be offended? Perhaps he's not the best choice of monster right now. Besides, who can actually mimic that accent, anyway?
"Hurry up! You're not the only one in line!" Another voice heckled.
Carl waved his hands. "All right! All right! I have something for all of you!" He grinned slyly and narrowed his eyes. He tapped his fingers against each other as he addressed the crowd.
"Brethren, our Order has faced monsters of old, creatures of great and frightening power…" Carl ran to a worktable before he could finish his sentence. He grabbed a crimson cape and an empty bowl and wiped it with his sleeve just to make sure it didn't contain anything remotely dangerous.
Carl shuffled back into the circle, draped the crimson shawl around his shoulders and placed the bowl upside down on his head as if he were wearing a cap. He stretched down his cheeks and jaw to imitate an old creature as he drawled out the rest of his speech.
"…Baht non ahz horeefahying ahz deez Vahn Hehlsing! Eemagine! Dehfacing deh Nohtre Dahhm ehnd not breenging Meehster Haaayde bahck ehlive!"
Laughter broke out in the crowd for it was no secret as to which monster Carl was impersonating this time. The friar, emboldened by his success, walked around within the circle and shook an indignant finger at the other members.
"Ehnd yoo! How dehr yoo theenk lightly ov our greht tahsk? Do yoo not know that seence tahym eememohrial, wee ov deh Knights ov deh Holee Ohrder have prrrotehcted dee eenocentss frrrom eeeviiilll!"
Even as the others were nearly doubling over in mirth, Van Helsing remained composed. He merely grinned as he called out, "His Eminence, Cardinal Jinette?"
Oblivious that the laughter has suddenly subsided, Carl raised an eyebrow and continued. "Baht ov courz. Took yoo lohng eenough tooo guess cohrrectlee! I wahz afrehd I'd have to ehxcommunicahte yoo for not knowing yoo ahre een deh presence ov deh Cahrdeenahl!"
"That can be arranged, Brother Carl."
Carl froze at the sound of the heavily accented voice he was trying to mirror a few moments before. He swallowed a lump in his throat as he forced a weak smile. Before turning around to meet the epitome of fire and brimstone now standing behind him, Carl called out to his friend for a last request.
"Do I still want to know how it feels like to be killed by sight alone?"
End of the First Slice
(1) In the animated prequel "Van Helsing: Assignment to London", we were treated to a delightful and squee- worthy Carl in a dress (to act as Mr. Hyde Bait and to give slash fan authors something to play with). It was the one spoiler that finally goaded me to make haste for the local video store. And so you see, kiddies, spoilers aren't necessarily the servants of evil, yes?