To Search The End of Time
By: the Kat a.k.a. Jedi Skysong

DISCLAIMER: The Castlevania Symphony of the Night characters belong to Konami and their respective authors/creators. Isabel is my original character. Her song is actually "Love Song for A Vampire" by Annie Lennox, the OST for the Coppola film Bram Stoker's Dracula. I figured that the song fits our moody dhampire boy to a T. And yes, I am not making any money off this, don't sue me, I'm just a poor hack having fun and this tale is done in appreciation of Castlevania and the Annie Lennox song.


(Come into these arms again,
And lay your body down.
The rhythm of this trembling heart,
Is beating like a drum…)

She had come to him so willingly, so trustingly, this exquisite little child-woman who had somehow managed to take hold of his long cold and dead heart. Fear and bloodlust warred within him. Both sides of his nature each trying to grab for dominance—the man and the vampire, each wanting her with a fierce, terrible need.

Somehow, some way, both sides had agreed to the same thing in the end. What had begun as a simple basic need to feed had ended up in a sweet pleasure, both savage and gentle, that had gone beyond any physical expression of love. Her blood was as exquisite as fine wine and something more. Those few, precious, timeless moments linked his body and soul to hers, a bond that would never be broken.

(It beats for you, it bleeds for you,
It knows not how it sounds.
For it is the drum of drums,
It is the song of songs)

He knew the risks. Hadn't he seen what had happened between his mother and his father? Perhaps now he could understand why Dracula showed no grief at Lisa's death. To be bound to another soul in such a way, never to be the same again. To know so much pain at the shattering of such a bond.

The pain.

She was mortal and he was not. He knew that unless he brought her over into his life, he would lose her as surely as day followed night. If he did not lose her through the dangers of the life they had or illness, he would watch her grow old…and die. And yet, if he did make her immortal, he would end up destroying her. She would lose that precious, pure innocence and the tenderness of heart which had made him love her in the first place.

In the end his heart won over his head. He threw caution to oblivion and chose to stay with her. Each day he chose to turn her away was another wasted and her life was too short as it was. It was a crazy relationship—the vampire and the vampire huntress but neither of them cared. They were happy and he had not known such joy for a long, long time.

Then, Maria died.

(Once I had the rarest rose,
That ever came to bloom.
Cruel winds chilled the bud,
And stole my flower too soon)

Her death had been unexpected, though he should have long been ready for it. They had been together for twenty-five years but her beauty had not yet begun to fade, nor the vitality of her youth. To him, she had grown all the more beautiful. He had loved her as a youthful girl, he would still love her even when she grew old. It did not matter anymore. He would not bring her over into his dark unlife and she did not ask him to.

Still, he had thought that they would still have more time. Her death came unexpectedly, in the form of the plague that had swept the village. It was not born of some dark malevolent power, something Alucard could fight. No wizard, no vampire king cast this curse. It was the result of a superstitious folk's disregard for sanitation, believing rats and mice were simply part of the sufferings inflicted by a cruel God, that dirt and filth were penances to be borne.

The plague spared no one and was capricious in its choice of victims. Those expected to survive the plague died and some of those deemed frail survived. Maria, who had always been in good health, was one of those they thought would live.

**flashback**

At her deathbed, he had asked—no, pleaded with her in desperation. "Take my blood," he said. "Rise again into my world. There is no other way."

"No," she whispered. Her trembling hand came up to caress his white-blonde hair. How she had loved to play with his silken locks, sometimes twisting it into little braids to tease him. She had taught him how to laugh—at himself, at life. She had taught him so much of being human. What life would he have without her there?

**end flashback**

"Oh, loneliness, oh hopelessness,
To search the ends of time.
For there is in all the world,
No greater love than mine…"

The song intruded into Alucard's consciousness, reaching the last remaining bit of sanity within him. The beast within him snarled in angry defiance, his golden eyes blazing with feral hunger. The man he held by the neck whimpered in terror—the dhampire could smell the stink of his fear on the man's suddenly wet trousers.

"Don't kill me…don't kill me," the man babbled over and over again, his legs kicking uselessly in futile resistance.

The bloodlust was on him and he no longer wished to stop it. Let him rend and destroy as he wished! Let him sate his hunger on human blood! Let him vent his rage by tearing mortal flesh! He was the Son of Dracula—why not let his cursed bloodline win! Damned, he would be cold and cruel like his father before him. He would be far beyond humanity, beyond all capacity for love, beyond that terrible, terrible emptiness…beyond that agonizing pain…

"Once I had the rarest rose,
That ever came to bloom.
Cruel winds chilled the bough,
And stole my flower too soon…"

It was a strange melody, sung by a voice as clear and as sweet as a bell's. It was as if the singer had seen through Alucard's soul, seen the sorrow and pain there and woven it into that plaintive and haunting song.

The man slipped from the dhampire's suddenly loosened grip. He landed on his backside and wasted no more time getting out of the alley. The maddened dhampire's attention had been diverted as the music began to sink in, slowly bringing him out of the mad fit of grief, despair and rage that had possessed him since Maria died. Slowly, the music calmed him, quietened the beast within that screamed for blood.

Slowly, the music brought him back to sanity, to humanity. His fangs retracted, his golden eyes lost their feral glow. Once more, Alucard, Son of Dracula, exerted his iron control over his vampire side. He stood still, listening.

"Oh loneliness, oh hopelessness,
To search the end of time.
For there is in all the world,
No greater love than mine…"

The song. He could hear it, echoing eerily in the night. He began to look around for the source of the singing.

"Love oh love oh love…still falls the rain."

"But the streets are empty," he said aloud. "What the hell is going on?"

"Love oh love oh love…still falls the rain."

The song was calling him, a clear invitation to follow. He took a hesitant step forward. He could sense no deceit, no coercion. This was no mind-spell, seeking to crush his will. He began to follow the voice, at first walking, then he began to glide swiftly across the street, his boots barely skimming the ground.

And the song continued.

"Love oh love oh love…live on forever!"

Live on forever!

The voice continued to lead him, weaving its spell with melody and rhyme. That it was laced with magic, Alucard had no doubt. He could feel the threads of power within it, immensely strong and yet he felt no fear of it. He could sense the Light of that power, felt it meant him no harm. And even if it did, it no longer mattered to him.

This time, perhaps, he would greet Death with open arms.


The song led Alucard to the graveyard. The dhampire could almost smile at the irony. Places like these were meant for the peace and rest of souls. Where the dead could be brought back into the mother earth at last. But in this land, graveyards were the gathering places of fiends, where the Undead of all kinds walked. His hand rested on the pommel of his sword, an instinctive gesture born of long centuries of fighting the Undead.

But no monster rose to greet him. No demon came leaping for his throat. Something moved behind an enormous marble cross. Alucard drew his sword automatically but he needn't have bothered. A child came out from behind the shadow of the cross, a little girl in a ragged dress, with long black hair framing a delicate elfin face dominated by large blue-gray eyes.

She smiled and began to sing.

"Come into these arms again,
And lay your body down.
The rhythm of this trembling heart,
Is beating like a drum."

Such a beautiful voice, filled with an eerie and haunting resonance that should not have belonged to such a small girl. Yet, strangely enough, it suited her.

"It beats for you, it beats for you,
It knows not how it sounds.
For it is the drum of drums,
It is the song of songs."

"So it was you," Alucard whispered. "But who are you? What do you want from me?"

The child pointed to the ground. What he saw nearly made his heart stop.

They were under an old cherry tree, long shorn of its blossoms. And Alucard realized that he knew this place well, that somehow he had come here when he had sworn that he would never return. His fists clenched, remembering how he had dug at the earth here with his own hands. A simple headstone marked the grave. Upon the rock he had painstakingly carved her name.

Maria Renard.

He whirled on her, his golden eyes again alight with that feral glow, baring long white fangs. "How dare you!" he snarled.

A long silver sword was suddenly at his neck. Alucard might have laughed at the absurdity of such a small child threatening him with a weapon like that. But the little hands did not waver. And her eyes were suddenly a frosty gray, filled with a grim determination.

Her eyes caught his and held it. Whatever she was, she was no mere mortal child. He saw an ancient knowledge and power reflected in that gaze and knew at last that his Death had finally found him.

"I should kill you, dhampire," she said softly.

"Then do it," he said through clenched teeth. "I have no patience with cryptic games. Take my life and be done with it!"

She shook her head. "She asked me not to."

"She…?" He looked at the grave, then back at her. The child nodded. Her eyes changed color from frost to a deep blue. There was understanding in that look and sympathy.

"Had I not met her, I might have killed you. You were mad and dangerous." Her nose wrinkled. "I can still smell the blood on you."

"You will do well not to leave me alive after this, vampire hunter," he growled dangerously. "Do not toy with me by speaking of things you do not know. She is dead and gone—"

To his surprise, she laughed softly. "Fool! She is still here. She is waiting for you."

"Stop!" he roared. "Maria is dead!"

She shook her head, serious again. "You must love her so much, dhampire." She gave him a penetrating look, as if she could see straight into his soul. Then she brought down her sword and leaned upon it. It was about as tall as she was. "I can see why she would ask for your life."

"My life means nothing to me anymore," he said bitterly.

"Oh?" A brow lifted sardonically. "Is that why you would choose to prey upon helpless mortals? Oh, forgive me—you would destroy your soul first and then your life. Far better than to just fall upon your sword. You will seek death at the hands of another, is that it?"

In answer, he drew his sword and brought it crashing down upon her head. The blade fell upon hers as she withstood his vampire's strength with no trouble at all.

"Oh, Adrian," The suddenly gentle tone of her voice and her use of his real name caught him by surprise. No one had called him that since Maria died. "Do you not remember what she promised you?"

**flashback**

Maria gently brushed away his tears, an angel's touch. He caught her hand and pressed it against his cheek. It was so cold, colder than his own. Death was already claiming her but he would not let her go.

"Adrian," she whispered. "I will come back. I will find you again."

"Shhh, don't talk," he said brokenly. "You will live. I will not let you go."

"No," she answered. "I swear to you, I will come back. I will find you again." With surprising strength, she clutched at his hand with both of hers. "Promise me you will wait for me. Promise me!"

"I swear it."
** end flashback **
The dhampire took away his sword. His hands were suddenly numb. In fact, his entire body seemed to have lost all feeling. He sank to the ground on his knees, leaning upon his sword. Tears fell down his cheeks, though his face seemed as blank and as unfeeling as a marble statue's.

Tiny hands covered his own. He looked up to see the little girl gazing down at him with gentle sympathy.

"I made her a promise," he said quietly. "I will keep it. I will wait for her."

"And she will keep what she swore to you," said the child. "Such oaths cannot be broken."

"How do you know such things? Who are you?"

She smiled. "I know from long experience, son of Dracula." Very gently, she stroked his cheek. "My name is Isabel. The Storyteller. The Minstrel."

An old fragment of a tale heard at his mother's knee flitted through his mind. Something about dragons and sorceresses who sang ancient songs of power, with the faces and forms of children.

"Yes, that is what I am," she said, reading his thoughts. She leaned over to kiss his forehead, a blessing, an absolution. "Wait for her, son of Dracula. You will find each other again."

He closed his eyes. "I am very tired. It will be a long wait."

"Then, sleep now," she said in oddly maternal tones. Again, he was reminded of his mother, tucking him into bed as a child. "Do you trust me, Adrian?"

He opened his eyes. "I trust you, Isabel."

"Then, rest, Adrian. Forget your sorrow and your pain. Sleep."

He closed his eyes again and cast himself into the darkness. His last thoughts were of Maria, of her closed eyes and the sunlight catching the glints of her golden hair as she lay in his arms…

I shall wait for you, beloved…

"Let me be the only one,
To keep you from the cold.
Now the floor of heaven's lain,
With stars of brightest gold.

They shine for you, they shine for you,
They burn for all to see.
Come into this arms again…"

"…and set this spirit free," The Minstrel finished her song and sighed. The sun was coming up over the mountains. Its first bright rays caught the wing of the beautiful life-sized marble angel that knelt beside the grave beneath the cherry tree. But he was a peculiar-looking angel, dressed like a nobleman, with long hair that seemed to be lifted by the wind. The expression on his face was calm and peaceful, every detail perfect. He looked as if he would move at any moment. He leaned upon his sword, as if standing guard over the grave.

As if he was patiently waiting for someone.

Isabel knelt beside the grave and placed a red rose on the headstone. "I have done as you asked, Maria. May you find each other again…soon."

She picked up her sword and sheathed it. As she began to walk away, the wind blew, ruffling her hair. The leaves on the trees rustled, carrying with it a whisper.

Thank you.

-the end (for now!)-