Disclaimer: Hellsing belongs to Kouta Hirano.
Author's Notes: Edited by Ironical Jester (thank you, Noa). This story is for Nasumaru's Anderson Memorial request/archive. The book Anderson will read is purely my invention, I remark, it doesn't exist. Feedback is welcome.
Father Renaldo had called him a prodigy among his students, devoted with an unusual zeal to fulfil his Lord's designs. With remarkable dedication, Alexander Anderson progressed from the preparatory offices and took the chastity vow to start the major orders. As a subdeacon, he was given a maniple embodied with a band of silk, which he wore with pride and commitment after his classes were over. He found it difficult to share his time with people who had a softer side of divine punishment.
"Alexander, as the Canon Law prescribes, I'm afraid your physical exercises must be put on hold until you fill the required years of scholastic studies inside the seminary," Father Renaldo had commented one night, after he had finished watching Alexander's training with the Swiss Guard. The temperature was warm and humid, which would bother any tall man like himself.
Anderson was somewhat disappointed. He loved books, but his real passion was battle, the adrenaline he felt knowing enemies of God would be smote by his hand. He wiped the sweat from his forehead as he walked alongside his young instructor. The session made his muscles ache for rest.
"I thought about choosing Saint Augustine, Father."
Renaldo paused his tracks, smiling and shaking his head slightly. "That is an auctor unsuitable for who you want to be, Alexander."
"Pardon me, Father?" Anderson turned to face him. Was his choice wrong?
Renaldo adjusted his glasses and explained: "When I saved you four years ago from the Nosferatu attack on your family, you expressed desire to join the ranks of Jude Iscariot's followers. Has that resolution changed?"
"It remains as strong as ever! I have forsaken my real name, my nationality and my family to join you." Thirst to kill the wretches sparkled in his green eyes. It was a desire that consumed him, one that could only be appeased with their deaths by his hand. The demons would be cast down into the abyss of hell where they belonged, away from the good people of God.
"Enough to volunteer in the regeneration project?"
His resolution faltered at that question. It was not the first time he was asked if he wanted to participate. Anderson had read about the requirements and the unknown results in past failures, the physical and psychological repercussions on the subjects. The process was one of intense pain, enough to make him loath to consider it.
Alexander was ashamed that, despite his zeal, he cowered at the gloomy prospect. "I'm honored, but…" He looked away, unable to stand Renaldo's dotting smile.
"I'm proud of you, Alexander," assured his mentor. "You are young still. Think about how much you're willing to dedicate your life to our Lord."
Anderson forced himself to appear happier than before. He owed Renaldo so much: his call, his life, his soul.
"Regarding your scholastic studies, as you know the life of those ordained in Section XIII calls for unusual acts among the clergy. Thus our chosen texts to dwell upon are unpopular. My choice was Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay."
"Should I choose a blasphemous text?" Anderson asked, not too keen with the idea. Milton's Lost Paradise? Dante's Divine Comedy? The titles made his skin crawl with disgust. Father Renaldo was right; he was young in his candour.
Renaldo patted his back reassuringly. "I have something special to give as a gift for you. Aside from a selected few, no one knows the existence of the chronicles by this particular author."
"What is it, Father?"
"Tomorrow you'll see, Alexander. Now, subdeacon, go to dress yourself with your tunicle and maniple. I am in need of your services for the private mass held for Iscariot."
Anderson nodded and obeyed. He took a quick shower and dressed in the holy vestments. He wondered what unique text Renaldo wanted him to study, but did not press him about it.
The night ended and a new day started. Alexander agreed to meet Renaldo after his seminary classes were over. With his training sessions cancelled, he had all the evening to study the chronicles his mentor wanted to give him.
"I have asked special permission from His Holiness for you to have access to this text, Alexander. I trust you won't embarrass me with hesitation in approaching it," he had explained while he led Alexander to the special Cardinal library selection, to a forbidden zone of the occult.
Anderson followed, growing increasingly nervous. He had not known how serious the matter was, nor that the issue was given by the Pontiff himself. But he was not easily intimidated, and the difficulty of the challenge only made it better. "Trust me, Father. I won't disappoint you or His Grace."
"The text was a disjointed journal written during the fifteenth century," Renaldo explained. "We have reproduced it and translated it to a more… accessible Latin. You'll find the content fascinating, Alexander. It is shorter than the usual texts. It will take you less time to decipher and study it."
"Fifteenth century?" Anderson mused aloud, sounding almost disheartened. With all the importance, he had assumed he would be able to read Jude Iscariot's lost Gospel. "Who is the author?"
"Let us call him Vladislav."
Vladislav? It was a quite common name for Slavic folks of that era, and it did not offer Anderson any understanding over the importance of his words. He was probably a monk trapped inside a monastery in Transylvania. Renaldo stopped and unfastened the silver lock to reach for a small book. The cover was made of red leather, and the from the imposing black ink handwriting, Anderson could read the title: Sanctus of Cruor.
"The Saint of Blood?" Alexander ventured an approximate translation, and Renaldo smiled in approval, offering the precious object. The subdeacon took it carefully, not wanting to crush the book with his strong grip. "May I read it here?"
"Of course, Alexander. Just remember to be sharp for dinner," answered Renaldo, locking the drawer that had contained the book. Anderson nodded and sat down, starting to read Vladislav's ramblings with a scholar's curiosity. The preface of the book, if it was such and not the chosen piece to fit in the beginning by the Scholastics, made Alexander gnash his teeth. It started with a hard criticism against the Vatican for its inactions to repel the Ottoman Empire.
"Jerusalem weeps for aid whilst the Holy Roman Church is occupied with vain, internal struggle," Vladislav had written. "I look forward to the end of Paul II's reign, for he is an unworthy successor of Pius II whom, despite our quarrels, proved himself a man of strong character and chameleonic tactics useful for someone of his position. In all likeness, the beauty of his male deacons distracted Paul II from more important matters."
His blood boiled at the insult against the Vatican resign, his grip on the book tightening considerably. Finally, Anderson took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down, as not to destroy the prized journal his mentor had entrusted to him. He continued reading, praying the author would be more sensible in further subjects.
The following chapters managed to engross him completely. They were disjointed, as if they were unrelated thoughts and notes pieced together to give an impression of completeness. However, the intrinsic philosophy the pages held was brilliant, remarkably deep and similar to his own ideas.
"I'm called a monster, a cruel tyrant, but I'm just a man of God. The clergy pray for our sins, absolve them through words and pledges. A petition is not enough for a knight on his Name. We cannot pray with words, for we are warriors, we must do it with actions. Through battles for His Kingdom Come, we hold the Holy Eucharistic. In the communion of dying flesh and spilled blood for the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost: my crusade is my mass."
"Am I wrong to believe that a miserable man like myself can achieve so much with the aid of my people? Jerusalem! I shall give my people, my servants, my friends and enemies a chance to reach a glimpse of the City of God. This is why I am here, to guard and protect it from the heathens and the unjust."
"My entire existence is a prayer, a fight for God and His Grace on Earth. My fealty is absolute."
"I give affection to my children and beloved wife, but it's the cross wrapped firmly around my neck that is my best friend, confidant and companion. Without its silver light, I would be lost in the dark without guidance."
Anderson was utterly focused in his reading. He did not noticed other people leaving without interrupting him, nor the sky darkening outside. He could not stop reading and stayed awake all night to complete his task. At the first lights of the morning, when his eyelids fell heavy and his body slumped over the wooden table, Renaldo cleared his throat.
Jumping, Alexander straightened his posture and rose. "Father. The dinner, I…" he babbled, seeking excuses. He blushed at his lack of sense.
Renaldo laughed, shaking his head. "I came for your last night, but you were so motivated that it would have been a pity interrupt you, Alexander."
"No need to be forgiven. You were laborious. The Lord smiles upon the hard-workers, Alexander. Just remember to not skip Mass this morning."
"I won't." Alexander checked the wall clock. He still had two hours.
"Did you finish?" Renaldo questioned, lifting his eyebrows.
"I was about to."
"What did you think of Vladislav?"
"At the beginning of the text, I confess I had a murderous rage towards him, but he proved to be an honest man, truly devoted to God's service. His beliefs about prayers and battles is the most accurate in my opinion! I wish I could meet a man so great in this era!" Anderson exclaimed with youthful admiration. Someone who thought bloodshed was appealing when it is done for the Lord, and whom shared his opinion regarding heathen dogs must be only praised in his judgment.
"Indeed? Finish the book," Renaldo instructed indulgently. Anderson nodded and sat again, finishing the last sentence of the chronicle.
"My family is safe in Transylvania and now I depart to battle. God be glorious, for I will build his city on the ashes of my country!"
He passed the last page and read the signature, accompanied by the seal of a dragon with his coiled tail. "Vladislav III, Voivode of Valachia." He stared at the name, blanching. It triggered memories of Renaldo's basic teachings about Draculs and Draculinas. They only had one source: Dracula. Vlad the Impaler. He could not move, bating his breath, feeling as though his best friend had betrayed him in the most gruesome way possible.
This man, this warrior of God he had praised just a moment ago was the reason vampires existed as they knew them. He felt revolted at believing his misleading lies.
"Yes. He's the demon who started it all, Alexander."
"Why?" Why had the Pontiff bestowed this task to him? Why hadn't Father Renaldo warned him beforehand not to sympathize, not to like the treacherous beast?
"To defeat the monster, you must be aware of how he was as man. It is important for us to be aware that even the highest servants of our Lord can fall from grace, humans and angels alike."
Anderson shut the book, falling into a singular silence. He forced himself to not think, to eliminate the sickness in his system. The subdeacon felt filthy in soul and mind. He was enraged at Dracula for giving up his soul after his strong words.
In the midst of his fury and disgust, pity crept in. Vladislav was a devoted knight for God and now… Anderson did not wish to dwell further into that. He had learned a valuable lesson from this book. Dracula taught it, and he felt an intense desire to return the unwanted favour. Standing, Anderson returned the book to Father Renaldo.
"With your permission, Father, I have a question."
"If I volunteer for the regeneration project, how will that influence my seminary?"
Renaldo's smile widened and he guided Alexander out, holding his back firmly. "His Holiness will take care of that personally, Alexander. You have chosen the right path."
That day, Alexander Anderson vowed not to die until he exorcized the devil out of the man that used to be Vladislav the Third.