Author's note: Hello everybody! At last here is the third installment of this story! And I'm so much excited! I got eight (eight!) reviews for chapter 2! So my thanks go to Elwyndra, Shoysrock, Shimo Ino, musiclover209, Celtic Aurora (my best buddy!), vamplady101, writerluv and KitsuneyJenfner! I hope you will like this chapter! I must tell you that it's quite long indeed! Oh, and yes, Erik appears here, and so does this "true Evil" I had promised you… Please, read on, my lovelies, and don't forget to review!

Disclaimer: Well, I still don't own Van Helsing or the Phantom of the Opera, but I think I'll get over it…

Summary: Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, is considered evil, and the Holy Order sends Van Helsing after him. But things turn weird when secrets come to surface and true Evil enters…

Under The Veils Of The Night

Chapter 3

Paris, 1888 A.D.

The street in front of the Opera Populaire was wonderfully lit as carriages with guests arrived one after another for tonight's masquerade ball. The front of the House was brilliantly decorated for this special event, with garlands and lamps and millions of little beautiful things here and there that created a celebrating atmosphere. And this atmosphere surrounded the colorful crowd that entered the Opera House's gates gracefully, framed by happy chatting, songs and laughter. The Opera's inside welcomed them with ballet dancing and music appropriate for the occasion, and drinks were offered to the masked guests. The glorious staircase was polished and shining almost golden under the brilliant light of the heavy chandeliers. And truly, the color of gold was the dominant one in the hall, with tints of silver, dark green and crimson here and there, making everything look rich and royal.

Van Helsing entered the Opera House taking advantage of his blending with the crowd. His recognizable face was hidden behind a mask that had the color of blackish green, which strangely made his wolfish hazel eyes gleam green. The hunter's costume was black and decorated by dark green embroidery and various details. The feather on his wide-brimmed hat was also of that very color, and so were his cape and his gloves that completed his costume. Madame Giry had really made a good choice for Van Helsing's costume; he looked dark and elegant and fitted in the crowd, while at the same time he did not stand out in it. Wishing to remain out of the eye of the public, he took the drink that was offered to him and stood next to a pillar. His eyes were searching the masked people who were obviously enjoying themselves; he was watching carefully everything that was going on around, always being most alert, ready to take notice of everything unusual that might happen.

At a moment a young woman dressed in a creamy pink dress entered the hall, escorted by a blonde young man, who walked beside her with grace and confidence, gently cupping her elbow. She immediately attracted Van Helsing's attention, and he quickly recognized her face. She was Christine Daae, the young woman the Cardinal had mentioned. Christine Daae… So this was the one the Phantom was after. She looked very young and innocent to the hunter, still a teenager perhaps. What could possibly a villain want from such a pure creature? What could she possibly be hiding? His senses told him that there was nothing evil about her; she was truly pure and innocent, like a white winter rose… At a moment her eyes fell upon Van Helsing, only to be quickly distracted by a wonderful song that started and the enchanting ballet dance that accompanied it.

Masquerade

Paper faces on parade

Masquerade

Hide your face, so the world will never find you

Masquerade

Every face a different shade

Masquerade

Look around

There's another mask behind you

Masquerade

Burning glances, turning heads

Masquerade

Stop and stare at the sea of smiles around you

Masquerade

Grinning yellows, spinning reds

Masquerade

Take your fill

Let the spectacle astound you

Suddenly all music died down, every laughter faded, and the lights went out. Van Helsing's senses were instantly alarmed and he moved forward among the crowd that had now gathered just below the magnificent staircase. Everyone's eyes turned upwards as a figure dressed in red made its entrance. Nobody else was wearing red. The figure was a man, and he was wearing a black mask that covered almost the whole of his face. But his piercing blue eyes stood out and sent chills to anyone who dared look at him.

"It's the Phantom!", whispered a woman beside Van Helsing, and what she said was entirely true. The hunter could not explain why he chose to appear dressed as the Red Death, but what alarmed him strangely was that he could not sense anything evil about the Phantom… What was going on? He chose to stay at his place and watch.

"Why so silent, good messieurs? Did you think that I had left you for good?", he asked with a bit of irony in his singing tone. "Have you missed me, good messieurs? I have written you an opera! Here I bring the finished score… Don Juan Triumphant!", he declared and threw the file with the score on the floor, while he was holding his sword forward. "Fondest greetings to you all! A few instructions just before rehearsal starts… Carlotta must be taught to act, not her normal trick of strutting round the stage. Our Don Juan must lose some weight… It's not healthy in a man of Piangi's age. And my managers must learn that their place is in an office, not the arts. As for our star, Miss Christine Daae...", he continued as he moved towards Christine, and even though she seemed to be quite stunned, she walked slowly to meet the Phantom, as if she was magnetized by him. "No doubt she'll do her best, it's true her voice is good. She knows, though, should she wish to excel, she has much still to learn… If pride will let her return to me… Her teacher, her teacher...", he whispered the last words and looked at Christine with eyes full of emotions. But suddenly his expression changed, as he noticed the engagement ring on the silver chain around Christine's neck. "Your chains are still mine! You belong to me!", he yelled as he grabbed the ring, and then he disappeared all of a sudden and in a haze of reddish smoke through a secret opening on the floor. Van Helsing made to follow him, but a hand gripped his arm firmly and stopped him.

"Don't". Van Helsing turned his head furiously to the person who stopped him. To his surprise, it was Madame Giry. However, before he had enough time to react, Raoul slid inside the secret opening, determined to go after the Phantom. Madame Giry's facial expression turned worried. "Leave, monsieur. There's nothing you can do now", she said and released his arm. Then she moved quickly, intending to find and save Raoul from the Phantom's traps.

Van Helsing made his way out of the Opera House, taking advantage of the mayhem that broke out among the crowd after the Phantom's exit. He was frustrated for having lost the chance to go after his target since Madame Giry had stopped him right in time. But he was determined to act soon. Tonight's events had proven to the hunter that Christine Daae was really someone the Phantom was after. He called himself a teacher of her. Was he really her teacher? Could it be possible that he really taught her to sing? If that was the case, why should he be considered evil? And, what's more, why did the hunter himself not sense anything evil about the so-called Phantom? Van Helsing could tell that the Phantom was just a man, perhaps a strange one, or perhaps a genius, like Madame Giry had said, but certainly not evil… His senses had never betrayed him, and his targets have always been evil creatures. But now things were different. A thought crossed his mind. Could it be that that the Holy Order had been mistaken? But then, Jinette had spoken about murders… What kind of a man, who was not evil by nature, could have committed such a crime?

These questions swirled in Van Helsing's head as he galloped away from the Opera Populaire. He also had to think of his next move. Apparently it was not possible to watch the Phantom's moves and pass unnoticed, since he lived in the underground of the theater and never came out… Right then an idea struck the hunter. If he could not become the Phantom's shadow, he would become the shadow of the one he was after. He would become the shadow of Christine Daae. And perhaps he would be able to find out the truth about her and the reason why the Phantom was after her.

So, he set his plan in action right the following day. The hunter chose a dark, narrow street across the Opera House, where he could perfectly stay hidden and watch. And truly, the third day of his watching he saw Christine Daae exiting the theater. It was very early in the morning, right after dawn. Heavy clouds were gathered in the sky and no ray of the sun could make its way to the earth's surface. This cold and dim morning chose Christine to pay a visit to her father's grave… She was wearing a long black dress and a dark cape. After a while Van Helsing saw her leaving on a carriage. Not thinking about it twice, he decided to follow her, so he quickly left his hiding place to get his horse. A few minutes later and as he was ready to start galloping towards the direction that Christine's carriage had taken, he saw something that made him hold back a bit. It was Raoul, Christine's young companion, and probably fiancé, and he was riding his horse towards the same direction, obviously following the carriage. But the fact that he was riding in frenzy arose suspicions in Van Helsing's experienced mind, suspicions that something was wrong… He allowed the young rider to gain a couple of minutes' head start, because he did not want to be noticed, and then the hunter spurred his black horse to a fast galloping.

Christine Daae entered the cemetery, which was located outside the city of Paris, and she slowly started walking towards her father's mausoleum. Confused and lost as she felt, she began to sing a sorrowful, yet melodic song:

You were once my one companion
You were all that mattered
You were once a friend and father
Then my world was shattered

Wishing you were somehow here again
Wishing you were somehow near
Sometimes it seemed if I just dreamed
Somehow you would be here

Wishing I could hear your voice again
Knowing that I never would
Dreaming of you won't help me to do
All that you dreamed I could

Passing bells and sculpted angels
Cold and monumental
Seem for you the wrong companions
You were warm and gentle

Too many years fighting back tears
Why can't the past just die?

Wishing you were somehow here again
Knowing we must say goodbye
Try to forgive, teach me to live
Give me the strength to try

No more memories, no more silent tears
No more gazing across the wasted years
Help me say goodbye
Help me say goodbye

Just as she finished her song a strange voice was heard, and it sounded to be coming from the inside of the mausoleum, which was now glowing reddish.

"Wandering child, so lost, so helpless… Yearning for my guidance!", the voice sang.

"Angel or father? Friend or Phantom? Who is it there, staring?", Christine responded to the voice.

"Have you forgotten your Angel?"

"Angel, oh, speak! What endless longings echo in this whisper?"

"Too long you've wandered in winter, far from my fathering gaze…"

"Wildly my mind beats against you…"

"You resist…"

"Yet the soul obeys!"

"Angel of Music!"

"You denied me…"

"I denied you…"

"Turning from true beauty… Angel of Music!", Christine and the Phantom sang together.

"Do not shun me", the Phantom asked of her.

"My protector… Come to me strange Angel!"

"I am your Angel of Music... Come to me, Angel of Music…", the Phantom sang and tried to seduce Christine, but right then horse trotting was heard and Raoul ran to her.

"No, Christine, wait! Wait!", he called at her.

"Raoul!"

"Whatever you believe, this man, this thing, is not your father!", he shouted, but then a very angered Phantom attacked him with his sword. Raoul fought back, and soon a wild swordfight started between the two men. None of the two seemed to be winning it, but its end was not meant to be known, as the galloping of a horse was heard and a dark rider entered the cemetery. He deftly jumped off of his horse and drew his two revolvers from their holsters. The targets of the revolvers were the two swordfighters.

"Stop or you're dead", he demanded in a strong, deep voice. The men stopped fighting and looked at the stranger in surprise. He was wearing a long, black, leather coat and also a black, wide-brimmed hat that covered his eyes.

"Van Helsing…!", Raoul whispered as he recognized the wanted man. "Do not harm Christine!", he begged of the hunter.

"I am not here for Christine…", the hunter responded in a hard but low voice, and turned his head towards the Phantom, who was standing motionless.

"But I am here for Christine!", a loud, piercing male voice was suddenly heard, and this voice belonged to none of the three men present. The voice was shortly followed by shrilling female cackle. All four people turned towards the direction of the voices, and what they saw shocked them. Or at least it shocked everyone but the hunter, who was now feeling true evil surrounding him. There, on the roof of Gustav Daae's mausoleum, stood a dead-pale man, dressed all in black, accompanied by two women who were clad in very revealing dresses. Then the three strangers jumped off the mausoleum and landed on the snow-covered ground, as if it was the most natural thing to do for them. The man walked forward, while the women stood behind and continued to cackle. "I must admit, however, that I had not expected such company", he spoke in a heavy, east-European accent, and stressed the word "company" as he eyed Van Helsing.

"Who the hell are you?", Van Helsing grunted, while his revolvers were still pointed at Raoul and the Phantom.

"Oh, Gabriel, Gabriel…! Such a pity you don't recognize me…! Let me introduce myself. I am Count Vladislaus Dragulia…", he said and bowed a bit like a noble man of the past.

"Dracula!", exclaimed Van Helsing as realization dawned on him, but he quickly regained his composure. "What the hell do you want here?"

"I am here for Christine… And don't stand in my way!", the Count yelled as he lunged for Christine.

"Christine is mine! I won't let you take her!", the Phantom shouted and ran after Dracula, but the raven-haired bride, Verona, blocked his way and tossed him aside.

"Raoul! Help me!", shouted a terrified Christine as Dracula grabbed her.

"Let her go! Let her go!", screamed Raoul, but the other bride, Aleera, came against him. "Get out of my way or I'll kill you!", he threatened the red-haired woman but she only laughed at him.

"Do you think you can kill me with this little… toy?", she said and pointed at his sword. "You can't kill a vampire so easily, my love!", she said in her creepy voice, and then dived forward against Raoul. Van Helsing shot the bride, but that only angered her and earned him a hard slap across his face that had him fall on the ground. Then she attacked Raoul again, aiming for his neck. The young man tried to defend himself, but he was weak and inexperienced against vampires. Aleera sank her fangs into his neck and drunk hungrily. Then she simply dropped Raoul's dead body on the ground.

"Raoul! No! No!", cried Christine and fought to escape Dracula's grasp, but his hold on her was strong indeed. He quickly transformed into the hellbeast that he was and flew upwards in the cloudy sky, over Gustav Daae's mausoleum and to an eastern direction. His brides followed right after him, leaving Van Helsing and the Phantom to stare at them in awe, and hate. Then the Phantom got to his knees, lowered his head and shut his eyes wide, as if he was trying to suppress tears.

"Oh, Christine… Christine…", he lamented and sobbed silently. Van Helsing was quite taken aback by this behavior of the Phantom, and he remained silent. He walked to Raoul's corpse only to find out that he was truly dead. The hunter knelt beside the body and did the sign of the cross.

"Requiescat in pace…", he whispered, and then stood again. He cast his gaze to the Phantom, who was still grieving over Christine's abduction. But slowly his grief turned into rage, and he shot up.

"You will curse the day you took her from me!", he yelled at the sky, towards the direction Dracula had flown. Then he moved to leave the cemetery, but Van Helsing grabbed his arm and stopped him.

"Leave me alone!", the Phantom demanded, but his voice was broken.

"No", came the hunter's dry reply.

"Christine is mine! And I will get her back!", the Phantom yelled at Van Helsing, but he stood calm.

"I will not let you go after Dracula on your own. He will kill you."

"And why do you care? If I am not mistaken, you were here for me!"

"Yes, but not to kill you. You are not evil…", the hunter admitted. "Dracula is my target now", he continued firmly.

"I want Christine back! I don't care about your targets!"

"Look, the only way to keep a chance of getting her back is to cooperate with me. I don't know you, you don't know me, but our paths coincide at this point. I will go after Dracula, and Dracula has your Christine. I wouldn't want partners in my job otherwise, but I see that you are determined to go after her, and the girl needs to be saved anyway", Van Helsing explained, trying to reason with the Phantom. "So, will you cooperate with me, mister… Phantom?", he asked the masked man. The men assessed each other for a while, and then the Phantom nodded in agreement.

"My name is Erik."

Van Helsing nodded, and then the two of them mounted their horses and left the cemetery. The Phantom's case had turned quite strangely, and the hunter had to apprise the Vatican of the situation. Furthermore, his knowledge on the vampires was not enough, and neither were his weapons. So he let Erik return to the Opera House and he went to the telegraph office. The Order's answer came quickly. They expressed their worries about the unexpected events and they instructed him to leave immediately for Munich, Germany, where he would meet Carl the friar, who would be bringing all necessary weapons and information. They also gave him the name of the inn in which the friar would be staying.

Van Helsing quickly galloped back to the Opera Populaire. Surprisingly enough, Madame Giry was waiting for him.

"Monsieur Van Helsing…", she started as he approached her. "Erik spoke to me of everything", she said and her voice betrayed how upset she was. "Please, make sure that Miss Daae will not be hurt!", she begged him.

"I promise I will do my best", he responded.

"I place my trust and hopes on you both", she said as Erik came out of the secret entrance. He was wearing a black mask on his face, quite similar to the one he wore in the masquerade ball, only less fancy. His attire was mostly black too, but his shirt was white and his cape had a red inner lining.

"Thank you for everything, all these years…", the Phantom said to Madame Giry.

"Be safe", she wished them, and as Van Helsing mounted his horse, she handed Erik a purse made of purple velvet, full of golden coins. He smiled to her, and then got on his horse.

It was just after sundown when the two men left behind them the city of Paris and were now galloping fast towards Germany. They both knew that there would be many dangers awaiting them, but they were determined to meet them head on with bravery. Erik was willing to lay down his life for Christine, and he had sworn to take revenge on Dracula. And Van Helsing, apart from carrying out the next in line of his assignments, needed to find out who, or what, Dracula really was, and how on earth he knew him. He had called him with his first name, a name he had long forgotten, but now he remembered it. And during all the days that the two men would have to spend together, they would have the chance to find out about each other, and perhaps become friends.

Author's note: Well, how was it then? It was funny to write the vampires' part! I always enjoy writing the villains, lol! And I really enjoyed killing of Raoul! I kind of never really liked him. But please, tell me what you think of it, and any ideas or recommendations that you may have. I take everything under consideration! Till next update, many kisses to everyone!