When Things Go Wrong
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters featured
Van Helsing- Just after Carl and Van Helsing rescue Anna Valerious from the Masquerade Ball (Rating M. Do not read if you are under 14 or want to preserve your carnal innocence due to explicit sexual references)
Anna and Van Helsing burst through the ornate double doors, panic and adrenaline rushing through their veins.
God knew how many foul vampires were after them, each and every one of them hungry for blood.
From a side passage Carl came waddling, barely able to run in his costume, the bells on his jester's hat jingling almost comically in his haste, an enlightened expression glowing on his face, excitement emanating from him like perfume. A massive smile spread over his face as he took in the sight of Anna in her elegant red gown, one dark curl bouncing beside her ear as she ran, and Van Helsing sprinting flat out towards him. He held up the strange light device triumphantly, as though expecting adulation, and said excitedly,
"I know what it's for," the smile leached from his face as Anna and Van Helsing kept running towards him, "where are we going?" he asked, bewildered.
"Through that window," they said simultaneously, hooking their arms under his armpits.
Carl turned just in time to see the red and gold stained glass window depicting some scene from the Bible looming up uncomfortably close before his eyes, before they leapt through it. He felt Anna's arm slip from under his and then only claustrophobic blackness as shockingly cold water closed over his head. Someone's strong arm and hand grabbed the back of his tunic and hauled him upwards; as the palace above exploded with light intense enough to blind, burning sunlight emanating from every orifice as windows exploded outward and mortar liquefied in the sudden heat.
The light filtered through the water, turning the dark, watery underworld incandescent with silvery shadows like twisting spirits in limbo. Carl kicked upward, propelling himself through the water until his head broke the surface. The light faded and blackness came rushing in to reclaim the night. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, a second head broke the surface beside him, rivulets of water dripping down the dark hair.
"Van Helsing, are you alright?" he asked as Van Helsing coughed and spat a stream of filthy canal water from his mouth.
"Fine," was the rather brusque reply as they trod water, collectively catching their breaths. Suddenly Van Helsing spun in the water, looking desperately around. "Where's Anna? Where is she?" he demanded frantically. Inwardly feeling as though his heart was sinking, Carl met Van Helsing's eyes. Horrified comprehension filled them and they simultaneously looked up at the shattered glass window through which they'd jumped.
A torn piece of red silk fluttered from the jagged remains of the stained glass window.
Van Helsing and Carl weakly scrambled up the canal bank, limbs weighed down by their sodden clothes, filthy water leaving snail trails of brown as it ran down their faces. Neither having the strength to stand, they crawled side by side until they reached the shelter of a covered courtyard. They slumped beside the wall, legs spread-eagled over the slimy stone. Both sat in silence as they caught their breaths. At last, after half an hour, Carl turned to Van Helsing, and tentatively asked,
"Why didn't Anna jump through afterwards?"
"Something must have stopped her! And I think I know what," Gabriel replied, still breathless.
An evil laugh filled the air, as a dark shape raced over the two men in the courtyard. A body lay draped in its arms, the body's red gown glimmering in the moonlight, dark locks flying like streamers in the night breeze. An insidious whisper, heavily accented, devastatingly seductive, filled the air.
"Neither of us has ever settled for half, have we, Gabriel?"
Van Helsing let out a roar of anger and frustration as high-pitched laughter filled the air. In the distance, behind the portcullis, a ship set sail into the night.
"What do we do now?" Carl asked timidly, afraid of Van Helsing's overstretched temper. Van Helsing took a deep breath, rolled his broad shoulders and stood, pulling Carl to his feet by the scruff of his tunic.
"We return to Transylvania," he replied, brusquely.
"But Dracula has Anna now. And the Frankenstein monster," Carl said, "we can't just leave them,"
"We're not going to. Dracula will be returning to Transylvania. If Anna can escape, she'll meet us there. As for Frankenstein, we have to find Dracula's fortress and set him free. I swear to God I will set him free,"
But you can't," Carl started, stopping abruptly; he had a feeling Van Helsing wasn't going to like this.
"I telegrammed Rome to apprise them of our situation,"
Van Helsing swung to face him.
"And?" he said impatiently.
"You are ordered to destroy him, to prevent him becoming a threat to mankind,"
"But he's not evil," Van Helsing argued furiously.
"They say he's not human either," Carl replied.
"Do they know him? Have they spoken to him? Who are they to judge?" Van Helsing shouted angrily, "what about me? Did you tell them what I am to become?"
Van Helsing lifted Carl off the ground, above his head, his muscled arm holding him effortlessly aloft. Carl just had enough breath to gasp,
"I left you out,"
The anger faded from Van Helsing's eyes and he lowered Carl to the ground. He apologetically brushed him off, nearly knocking him off his feet in the process, and turned away.
Carl just nodded.
"Come on. We need to get out of here, and find some horses," They turned and walked into the stormy night.
Half an hour before…..
Anna tripped as she ran, her arm slipping from around Carl's as they jumped through the window.
She ended up spread-eagled on the floor, her face against the jagged remains of the window, the sharp edges pressing against the soft skin of her cheek. She felt a sharp sting and a warm trickle as blood ran down her face from the shallow incision. Scrambling up, she frantically looked around, as she heard the vampires behind her, snarling as they smelt prey.
One of them, a large velvet-clad brute leaped in front of her, appearing out of nowhere, snarling gleefully, blocking her only means of escape, through the window to join Van Helsing and Carl. And she didn't even have a weapon handy, there was no way she could fight a vampire unarmed. Her options were one; die painfully or two, run. Desperate, Anna turned to run, the vampire toying with her. Her eyes fell on the strange, bulbous device Carl had dropped. The bright light was starting to intensify as Anna quickly ran down the side corridor, heading for the doors at the far end.
The rest of the vampires burst through the double doors she and Van Helsing had burst through and barred a few moments ago exploded and the surrounding vampires all exploded into ash as the light consumed them. The light grew until it became a wave of greedy incandescence, devouring everything in its path, surging down the road of least resistance. Straight at Anna! She raced towards the doors, willing herself to run faster. Bursting through the mahogany doors, she flew before the fiery wave, it's glorious tendrils reaching for her, blistering heat at her back. A howling wind filled the corridor as Anna ran on, teasing her hair from the silken mass it had been anchored in. Breathing fast, with a stitch in her side, she looked ahead to see a narrow archway leading into a cavernous hall. Calling on the last of her strength, she flung herself through the archway and into the alcove on one side of the opening she'd prayed was there.
The light ripped into the room, the howling escalating to a piercing shriek. Anna clung to the wall, her eyes welded shut against the blinding light. It was almost too hot to breathe, as the light strengthened even more, rays burning through the insignificant skin of Anna's eyelids. She clung to the pillar, beside which she was squashed, feeling the blistering heat as it scorched past her and slowly began to lessen.
It started to fade away, as gradually the light behind her eyelids dimmed until she tentatively opened them. Her eyes were met by a scene of devastation. Tapestries and paintings were burning in their frames, books nothing more than burnt out husks. The very stones were scorched as she took deep, grateful gulps of warm but breathable air. Slowly pacing to the centre of the room, she slowly turned in a circle, taking in the destruction. Incredible, Anna thought, if only it took out Aleera and Dracula. But presumably that was too much to ask; an inhuman shriek proved her right. She quickly ducked down a side passage; she had no wish to meet her demonic hosts. She had to get out of the palace, find Carl and Van Helsing and return to Transylvania. Preferably without being found by Dracula or his psychotic Bride. Breaking into a jog, she quickly found herself back in the gallery overlooking the ballroom.
And guess who was still standing in the middle of the ballroom floor. Dracula stood there with Aleera, in her trademark flimsy pink gown, pulled taut over womanly curves, beside him. She ducked behind a screen, knowing it wouldn't hide her for long. Not from a vampire; slowly she managed to slow her heartbeat so it no longer thundered in her ears, enough to eavesdrop.
"We now have all we need to complete our experiment," Dracula was saying, in his deep voice. Anna shuddered at the memory of the shiver of desire it had sent through her, as they had danced, and still felt.
"But Master, Van Helsing and the Princess escaped. They know our plans," Aleera replied
"There is nothing to fear, my darling. They cannot know the location of my fortress. They don't know enough to scupper my plans," the Count told her, half laughing. Anna shifted slightly against the screen. It knocked gently against the wall, making a tiny scraping sound on the stone floor. Dracula's head snapped around, seeming to spear Anna through the screen. Aleera appeared to notice nothing, Anna waited breath bated, keeping her heartbeat slow as she had learnt, hoping Dracula couldn't see her.
"What is it, Master?" Aleera asked, noticing his preoccupation.
A slow smile spread over his face as he turned back to face Aleera.
"Nothing. Go to the ship and see that the monster is safe. I do not trust Igor to properly handle it," Dracula instructed. Aleera, puzzlement on her beautiful face, did as she was bid. "I have a little business to finish here," Dracula continued, almost to himself. Aleera left and silence descended.
Anna slowly started to edge herself from behind the screen, heading for the doorway. It slammed shut as she headed for it. Anna's heart sank as she felt warm breath on her cheek and a whisper in her ear.
"Too late, Anna,"
Anna spun but there was no one behind her. Noticing the swords on the wall, she stripped off her white silk gloves, flicking her now loose hair from her face. If she was stuck in a ballroom with Dracula, she wasn't going to be unarmed. Prising the swords from the walls, she adjusted her grip and held them ready. Hiding herself in the shadows cast by an ornate pillar, she waited.
Dracula appeared on the balcony, knocking the screen away. Seeing no one there, he smiled. Noticing the white gloves on the floor, he picked them up and held them against his cheek, inhaling the scent rising from them, still warm from Anna's skin.
"So, you think to escape from me. You can't run, Anna. You can't run from your own desires, you can't run from yourself,"
Anna tried to ignore him as she edged closer to the other door on the far side of the gallery. She silently begged him to stop, but he continued.
"Always running, running, running. When will you have the courage to stop and face your truth?"
Seeing a movement in the middle section of pillars, he smiled and began to walk down to the other end, slowly, predatorily as he continued speaking. "Come Anna, stop this foolish game. I will find you," he passed the last pillar, shrouded in darkness and stopped, waiting.
Anna stared at the broad, strong back before her, visited by a sudden urge to run her hands over the rock hard muscles. But thoughts of her father, and Velkan spurred her on. She silently raised her swords and waited for the right moment.
"I still want you for my bride, Anna. I want you mine," Dracula said. He felt a slight disturbance in the air behind him and he spun.
"I will never be yours," Anna replied vehemently, her swords flashing down like silver lightning. She knew it wouldn't kill him but she hoped it would distract him long enough for her to escape. Dracula danced away from under the blow and knocked one sword from her grip with the palm of his hand. He caught her free wrist and forced it upwards to meet her other wrist. He imprisoned them in one of his hands whilst the other twined around her waist, pulling her hard against him. He whispered against her lips,
"On the contrary, you are already mine," with that he kissed her full on the mouth.
Slowly Anna's grip on the sword loosened until it fell from her lax hand, clattering on the floor. Anna's arms came to twine around Dracula's neck, the action pulling her closer to him, as she actively returned the kiss. He shifted, pulling her around, pinning her against the pillar. Anna pulled back for breath, chest rising and falling rapidly in the restrictive corset, her breast brushing against his coat, her eyes fixed on Dracula's lips, a mere inch from hers. His hand speared through her loosened hair, the other supporting her against the wall. Anna looked him in the eye, and her wits came rushing back. What she saw there frightened her, heightening the tautness of her nerves, the intensity of the ache blossoming within her.
Frantically she pushed him away, running towards the open door. Strong hands pulled her back, all the way until her back was against his torso. Nimble fingers slid around her ribcage and over her waist, holding her against him. Warm lips caressed her ear and the sensitive skin beneath it, sending sharp tingles of desire down her spine, as Anna dug up the last of her strength and gasped in a strangled whisper, "We mustn't,"
The warm caresses didn't stop, although he was speaking in her ear, seductively whispering.
"Why not?" he asked questioningly.
"I am Anna Valerious, Last of the Valerious Line and I am sworn to kill you," she answered desperately, her strength rapidly fading.
"Ah yes, the Valerious vow. Might I suggest we continue this discussion later? In more conducive surrounds," he replied, his grip changing, his hands leaving her. Anna felt bereft as his touch left her skin and she turned to face him.
"Conducive to what?" Anna asked, a not altogether unpleasant suspicion forming in her mind. Dracula simply smiled and passed his hands down over her eyes, drawing the lids down.
"Sleep, Anna, sleep,"
Anna slumped forward, into Dracula's arms at the compelling whisper. Dracula shifted his grip and scooped her up, laying her head gently against his shoulder before he transformed into his hell beast form. Taking off he flew out of the open dome and into the storm tossed night towards his ship, his precious cargo safe in his arms, passing over two sodden figures in the courtyard.
Anna awoke, cushioned by silken pillows and soft furs. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the dimness; the ceiling appeared to be tipping from side to side. Anna's brow furrowed. How strange. Then she heard a large crash against the wall and sat bolt upright. She was on a ship, in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. The dimness eased and Anna could clearly see her surroundings.
She lay on a fur covered bed, bolted to the floor, in a large wooden cabin lit by glass lanterns. An empty fireplace stood directly across from her, a coal brazier in the place of a fire. To her right stood a mahogany table, bolted to the floor, and a low-backed chair. To her left was the door. Barred, Anna noted, a wry smile on her face. She slipped off the bed, stumbling slightly, as she struggled to find her sea legs in the gently rocking cabin. She tripped and grabbed the table for support, noting for the first time that she was still wearing her gown. The cabin tipped violently on the choppy sea and Anna fell backwards.
Straight into someone's arms.
Anna looked back and up into the eyes of the man who held her. Dracula. Her legs, still shaky, collapsed further and Dracula scooped her into his arms and laid her back on the bed. Anna gasped as his lips fell on hers, instantly forgetting all her reasons to fight him. Lost in the heat of his mouth, she opened hers and incited him to explore, to invade and to claim. They kissed for several minutes until Anna pulled back to breathe.
"Well, is this more conducive to our discussion?" he murmured against her lips. She shivered and her lids fell. Blocking the sight of his face, she braced both hands against his torso and pushed him away. He let her sit up but just shifted behind her, hands clamped over her upper arms, holding her against him, "now, now we haven't finished yet."
"You killed my father, my brother and my entire family. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you now?" she told him quietly, as his hands began to trace down her spine, lips caressing just beneath her chin.
"That's my fiery Anna,"
"I'm not yours," Anna gasped, the heavy weight of his arousal pressed against her back liquefying her resistance.
His reply was a growled, intensely controlled "You're treading on thin ice. You are mine, you have always been mine, you will always be mine," he took a deep breath and continued, "Your entire family hasn't managed to kill me in over four hundred years. You are the last. Why should you have to honour a vow made by your ancestor? Why not live your own life, instead of being a pawn?" he replied calmly, unperturbed by her declaration.
"I must kill you. I have to kill you," she half said to herself. If she didn't, her family would languish in Purgatory for eternity. He touched a burn on her back and Anna arched, gasping from the stinging pain.
"But you're not going to. You have been burnt," he said, a concern Anna never thought to hear from Dracula colouring his voice, his hands flicking her hair over her shoulders so her back was exposed. He examined her wound, making her squirm and gasp in pain, the dull ache shifting her back away from his touch, but for the large hand clamped over her waist, keeping her still.
Suddenly the pain vanished as he placed the palm of his hand flat against her wound. The pain's gone, Anna thought dazedly. She marvelled at that until she felt Dracula's hand begin to slowly drift up her back again. Up over her shoulder to her face. He took her chin between his fingers and turned her head to face him.
"You can't deny this, can't say you don't want this, don't crave it, and don't yearn for it. You mustn't deny it." his thumb brushed her lower lip, making it tingle, her eyes trapped in his. "You've been denying yourself for years. Now you can set yourself free."
I could have this, she thought, I could, except…
she tore her eyes away and wrenched her chin from his hand. Standing up, she walked to the door, putting distance between herself and Dracula. She turned to face him, bidding her racing heart to calm.
"This is madness!" she said vehemently, "I hate and despise you Dracula; you have taken everything from me, left me alone in this world,"
"But you don't have to be," was the quiet reply, "I know what you want, Anna. You want someone who will not leave you, someone permanent..."
"Someone mine," Anna said quietly, the words almost forced from her.
"You can have that, Anna. Do you not see? We both want the same thing. Yet you would doubt my feelings for you,"
"You're a vampire, you cannot feel," she replied bleakly. Dracula inclined his head.
"True most of the time, but not with you Anna. With you, I feel alive again," he told her, the words so simple, so full of feeling, so lacking in seductive weight, Anna could not mistake them for lies. She stared at him, where he knelt on the bed, struck dumb. "Become mine, Anna and we will have each other for eternity,"
Anna remained still, conscience and passion clawing at each other's throats. Her mind literally ached with the internal battle being waged. A battle that had waged, she now realised, since her first glimpse of Dracula, when she was fourteen. She had felt something for him and had been denying it to herself most of her adult life. Now it was fighting back with a vengeance.
Aleera's "I know what lurks in your lusting heart," echoed mockingly in her mind. Dracula, sensing her uncertainty, stretched out a hand and simply said,
"Come to me, Anna," no compulsion, no command, just a plea.
All Anna's uncertainties melted away as she took a deep breath and walked back to him. His hand curved around her waist and urged her forwards, until torso met torso. He crushed her to him as she twined her arms around his neck, her mouth opened under his onslaught. They fell back onto the bed, and Dracula rolled Anna beneath him, sitting up to strip off his coat and shirt. Anna's hands reached for him to draw him back down, until their lips met once more, her hand resting on his cheek.
He kissed her voraciously, far more incendiary than he had at the masquerade ball. Strong fingers curved around her breast as he drew back to look down on her with glittering eyes. Anna's hair fanned out over the furs, dark brown contrasting against the white, her breath catching as those strong fingers caressed her soft flesh.
"Say you will be mine, my loving wife, forever," he asked her, his other hand stroking her cheek. Anna smiled gloriously, all doubts, all fears removed. She ran her hands down his naked torso, tormenting the over-tense muscles, grimly satisfied by his low growl. Anna felt the rigid warmth against her belly harden perceptibly and as if in revenge; he pressed his hand down. Anna gasped, arched her spine, and pressed her heating flesh into his hand, seeking relief from the surges of pure pleasure flashing through her body.
"I will," she whispered. Dracula kissed her long and hard, tongue flicking hers teasingly. He claimed her mouth, then begun to claim her body. Her silk gown fell away, leaving only her soft chemise. His hands traced up and down, lingering on the long, sleek muscles of her thighs. He broke from her mouth and began to nuzzle down her neck. Anna moaned and shifted against him. Dracula groaned, and raised his head. Anna looked into ice-blue eyes, hard as steel, harder than the evidence of his desire pressed against her abdomen. "I need you, Anna," he said in a strained whisper against her lips.
"Take me. Please, Vlad," she begged him, shifting against Dracula once more, "take me away from this life. Please..."
His eyes flashed as he bent his head to kiss her, drowning her plea in passion. When she was limp in his arms, he raised his head once more, slightly hesitant. Anna opened her eyes, and saw the question in his eyes. She whispered, "Do it. Take my blood, my love."
Dracula's head bent to her neck as Anna began to drown in a sea of ecstasy and searing pain The suction made her body arch against his as he supported her. Her blood poured from the punctures in her neck, her mind beginning to go fuzzy from the blood drain when he raised his head and kissed her. Anna tasted her own blood on his lips. He drew back and sat up. He dug his nail into his own flesh and made a small incision. Blood began to pour from it as he, one hand at her back, urged her to sit up. Weak from blood loss, Anna dazedly focussed on his eyes as he spoke.
"Take my blood, Anna, and I will raise you above all the vampires of the world. You will become my queen,"
Anna refocused on the blood dripping down Dracula's torso as he gently but firmly guided her to the incision. Red liquid flooded her mouth, and for a moment horror and revulsion seeped through her as she reared back. Her mouth only partially full, she reflexively swallowed, her body gagging at the metallic taste. Then she found it irresistible and began to drink in earnest. Her head fell back as Dracula's lips took hers once more. She felt his hands tear at her chemise, pulling it up and over her head. Her mind blanked at the feel of his hair-roughened body trapping hers. She arched as he entered her body, pushing through her maidenhead, and the glorious wave of fulfilment started to build. His fangs plunged into her neck at the same moment, and he began to drink.
Eons later, it seemed, lost in the enthralling rhythm of their lovemaking, she felt the wave of glory coalesce and cried out in satisfaction, and she felt a warm wave rush into her as Dracula climaxed. Her mind fell away into a dark tunnel and she lost consciousness. Dracula lowered her prone body to the bed, and stood pausing only for one last inexpressibly sad, tender kiss before he slowly faded away into shadow.
The next morning, sunlight filtered though the cabin windows, falling on the prone figure of Anna still lying on the bed. Feeling the heat of the sun on her face, Anna sat bolt upright as full consciousness and memory returned in a flash. Panic gripped her until she remembered.
She was not yet fully turned, thank God.
She had heard of vampiric baptism; it seemed Dracula had done that to her rather than simply kill her. So she still had time to reverse it, but first she had to escape.
Looking in a mirror, unnoticed the night before, she was relieved to see her own reflection looking back at her, although it seemed dimmer than before, blurred around the edges. Her body was marked all over by the vampire's hands. The two wounds on her throat were all but healed, two small pink pinpricks just over her artery. Looking around, she spotted her gown and chemise. She rushed over and hurriedly pulled her clothes on.
She really needed her travel gear back. Turning away, she noticed the metallic taste of blood still grated on her tongue as she went to look out the cabin windows. They were nearing the shore at last.
Looking down she saw a small balcony. Perfect! Now to break the glass. Her eyes fell on a small unlit candlestick lying on the table. She smiled and moved towards it.
The Valerious Mansion, Tirgoviste, Transylvania
Van Helsing and Carl, both now clad in their respective black leather overcoat and brown friar's robe, strode into the cavernous main hall of the Valerious mansion, desperate hope warring with nebulous fear.
Was Anna here? Or was she still in the clutches of Count Dracula? Or worse?
These evil thoughts chased themselves like poltergeists around Carl's head. But Van Helsing was made of sterner things; he marched into the hall, all determination and resilience in the face of disaster. His face was drawn, even pale. Carl could only imagine what resisting the werewolf venom was costing him. He had barely eaten or slept since they'd lost Frankenstein and Anna; the whole journey back to Tirgoviste had been a nightmare of exhaustion and fear.
They stopped in the middle of the hall as the ringing sound of their boots on the stone floor faded and silence reigned once more. They strained their ears for any movement, for the sound of hoof beats clattering into the courtyard, or the welcoming neigh of the horses; or boot heels on marble. Nothing; Carl's heart sank; Van Helsing tried one last desperate shout.
They stood; tense, waiting, unwilling to accept what seemed to be inevitable. Each offered a prayer to God just to see Anna come bursting through the double doors. A moment later their prayers were answered.
Anna came running through the doors, the cold winter wind leaving red blushes on her cheeks. With the sunlight streaming in behind her, she seemed like an angel descended from heaven, answering their desperate plea. Then she came closer and they began to see her weakness. She dragged her feet, barely able to manage a step. Her warm, golden tinged skin was pale, her face haggard and drawn, even more so than Van Helsing's. Her clothes appeared damp, dishevelled. She stumbled and fell into Van Helsing's arms.
A sighed whisper escaped her white lips and Anna lost consciousness, slumping backwards, her legs unable to support her any longer. Her hair fell back to reveal the two small scars on her neck, now red raw and puckered around the edges.
"My God, Van Helsing. She's been bitten," Carl gasped, one hand over his mouth. A spasm of shock crossed Van Helsing's face before he mastered it. He scooped Anna up and bore her away silently into her bedroom.
Anna came to a few hours later, the pain in her neck just beginning to dull slightly; but not, unfortunately, the pain in her heart. As she had escaped, she felt such desperate agony; the further she got from Dracula, the worse it became. It had been all she could do to stop herself from running back to him. Ignoring his call had cost her.
Lying cushioned against warm down, she wildly thought, for a moment, that she was still onboard Dracula's ship. Then her eyes adjusted and she saw Van Helsing standing beside her bedside, the shadows hiding his face. She went to sit up before dizziness made her collapse backwards onto her pillows.
"Not so fast Anna. You suffered a great blood loss, your body needs time to heal," Van Helsing said as he crossed to a pitcher of water. He crossed back, a full beaker in his hand, "here sip this. Slowly," he admonished, setting the cup to her dry lips.
The sight of the water made Anna want to recoil, but she tried to drink. She only took enough to wet her mouth, unable to swallow much without wanting to spit it out.
"You must drink Anna," Van Helsing said when she pushed the cup away. She looked at him with sad eyes.
"I can't," she whispered, a rueful smile on her lips. Her eyes brimmed with tears as she felt his piercing gaze upon her. She looked at him and their gazes locked. Time stood still as each saw in the other a fountain of shared pain and suffering. The moment was broken by Carl rushing through the door. Anna was glad to see she was still fully dressed in her dishevelled travel gear, so they could not see the marks of Dracula's hands on her body.
Her mind filled with longing whenever his image passed across the surface of her memory; she forcibly blocked it out. She couldn't afford to think of him now. Her family was all that mattered. Carl sat down beside her, concern and caution emanating from him as he looked in her eyes. Van Helsing spoke first.
"It is more crucial than ever that we eliminate Dracula. Before both of us fall beneath his spell,"
"Clearly, Anna was not fully turned, or she would not have been able to withstand the sunlight. The hall was flooded with it," Carl observed. Anna fixed him with a pointed glare.
"It is alright Carl. I'm not about to jump up and kill you. The vampire did not fully turn me. But it will not be long before I become as he is,"
"What do you mean?" Van Helsing asked, hope lighting his eyes.
"He baptized me with his own blood; the change is gradual, not as traumatic on the body," Anna elaborated reluctantly.
"So we still have time,"
"Are you strong enough to ride?" he asked, cautiously. In answer Anna swung her legs out of bed and strode to her wardrobe, the wounds on her neck more apparent than before. "Right we'll leave you to get changed,"
Van Helsing left, Carl on his heels.
"Where are we going to go?" Carl asked.
"Castle Frankenstein. To end this!"