*Hubby pointed out that it needed a Black Knight quote too. And I took out specific references to a "when".
Wales was a lovely country, full of trees and, where they were, a cave. Killing the vampire that laired in the cave had been easy. It had been very old, not much younger than Alucard himself, and absolutely crazy. The entire area in the little hollow at the cave's entrance was covered with bones, animal and human. Alucard had taken out the vampire with lethal ease and a contented smile. But afterwards, with the fresh wind blowing through the trees and the bright moon in the sky, Alucard had been restless.
Abraham watched the vampire pace about the small group of men, constantly glancing up at the sky or taking deep and unnecessary breaths of the invigorating and fresh air. The vampire had been cooped up at the Estate for far too long, unwilling to leave the boys while they were ill with colds and unwilling to go outside when troops were drilling and practicing about the building. Knowing what the vampire needed, even if Alucard didn't realize it himself, he moved away from the men.
"Alucard." At the summons, the vampire loped over to him, settling down to a walk at his side. "You haven't been a wolf for some time. And it will be a bit of a walk back to the carriages." Keeping a straight face and looking straight ahead as he walked, he continued. "Why don't you change form and scout about, make sure there's nothing else to take care of."
His offhand demeanor didn't fool the vampire a bit. With a chuckle, answered by Abraham's own smile, Alucard stopped moving...and melted. Most of them men hadn't seen this before and while they knew that, theoretically, a vampire could change form...they hadn't seen it before. Almost instantaneously, the tall vampire had vanished and a great furry black wolf in his place. Tail flagged, Alucard bounded off through the woods while Abraham settled his men down after their surprise. He was pleased to see no fear, but they had questions, ones they wouldn't have asked had Alucard remained within earshot.
Abraham had never told them just how well Alucard could hear...but as the vampire didn't really care what the men said, it was irrelevant. And right now, he was probably having far too much fun romping about to bother listening!
It was...exciting. Stretched out to his full stride, tongue lolling, Alucard raced across the open field, then dodged through trees. So fast, so much wind, so much scent...the wolfish muzzle stretched into a canine grin. With one great bound, he was across the small dip where the cave's opening showed darkly, and racing back across an open field.
Rabbits, he'd scared up several of them, finishing a late browse under the bright light. Unusual that they didn't have burrows, weren't hidden safe underground...he wondered, briefly, if they were migrating bucks. But the wonder was only a second, and he was on them, shaking them about and tossing them in the air and generally having a wonderful time of it. He couldn't EAT them, but that didn't make the blood any less tasty or the thrill of the hunt any less. Perhaps, once he'd settled down and run out the extra energy, he'd bring them back for Abraham to eat.
A few more circles about the slow-moving men, far out of their eyesight...a few grand leaps above the meandering stream, a brief chase of a terrified doe, and he found himself more settled. Tongue lolling, he came out of the blackness to pace along Abraham's side.
"Found something, did you?" Abraham's keen eyes had picked out the blood smeared on his muzzle, an impressive feat in the dark and on the black coat. Then again, it might just be an assumption on the man's part, for in the wolf form, he would inevitably hunt.
He'd want to bring those rabbits back for Master to eat, the man had a fondness for them. But getting rabbit fur and blood smeared on his clothes...no. He'd need a bag. Turning to study the men walking behind them, he picked out a few rucksacks containing extra ammo and the occasional blanket. The more senior men had learned to never assume that a short trip would be short, and that the accomodations available were often less than desirable.
Yes, that one. The fabric was good and thick and there was a heavy strap on it, too. Darting over and yanking it from the shocked and terrified owner, he gave it a shake, emptying many of the contents on the ground, and then flew back across the fields at a wolfish run. Not full speed, but enough to enjoy the feeling and to hear the startled and angry shouts of the soldiers behind him. It took only a little time to change to human form, grab the carcasses, and drop the rabbits in to the bag. A few strides as a human form...and he stopped.
The night was enjoyable as a human, yes, but it was made for a wolf. Well-buttoned and sturdy, the bag was easily something he could grasp by the handle and carry. He'd be a bit off-balance, but it would be worth it. The bag dropped from the slender white gloves only to be snatched up a moment later in his sharp teeth.
Abraham gave him a welcoming nod as the vampire swung up into the carriage, the bag hitting the floor with a thud. "What did you bring?"
"Rabbits." A great pointy grin of pride at the find. "Seven, all plump and healthy."
"Did you eat any?" Abraham's look demanded an answer, even though the question was insulting. And, he had to admit, a fair question.
"No. Not one. Not any of the blood, either." Though he'd licked it off his muzzle, that trace of blood wasn't going to make him ill. He hadn't deliberately eaten any of it. And he was going to ignore that mild stomach ache, too.
"Those will be delicious. Thank you." Alucard preened a bit under the praise, and, content and relaxed after the killing, the run, and the hunt, he remained slumped and looking out the window for the ride back.
Neither of them noticed the faint movement coming from the bag.
x x x
The carriage pulled to a rattling stop on the cobblestones outside the barrack entrance, and Alucard, then Abraham, stepped out.
"Jackson, there's a bag of rabbits in there. Please take them to the kitchen and give them to the cook." There was always someone on duty on the nights they were on a hunt. Often, the men came home exhausted and hungry and a warm meal was appreciated. With this in mind, Abraham kept a cook or assistant ready to fix the men a small meal as soon as they arrived. One of the men separated from the rest, reached in to pull out the lumpy sack, and vanished towards the kitchen.
Only to give voice to a shriek of terror, then pain, and then come pelting out of the kitchen with a great bloody gash down his shoulder and a shredded shirt. Behind him were angry squeaks, and...nothing.
"Jackson!" Abraham raced up to the stricken man, quickly motioning Alucard towards the door. "Jackson, what is it?" demanded Abraham, grabbing the arm and applying pressure to the gash and cuts.
Before the man could assemble his thoughts and answer, Alucard peeked back out the door to say, puzzled, "One of the rabbits wasn't dead. It's squeaking. Nothing else is in there."
Disbelieving, Abraham turned to the man. A rabbit kick could certainly have made a nasty cut, they had powerful back legs...but it was ridiculous that the entire company could have been startled by this little accident, or the man so frightened.
"A rabbit did this?" Disbelieving.
"Aye, the little beast jumped at me, I barely made it out!"
"A RABBIT?" Abraham could hear the worried rumble of the men begin to change to muffled chuckles.
Jackson nodded, looking back fearfully at the doorway where Alucard now lounged, amusement dancing in his eyes.
Aware of the ridicule now being directed his way, Jackson protested angrily. "It's not just a rabbit, it's a monster." Angry, nearly frantic, "That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent I've ever set eyes on! He's got huge, sharp...He can leap...Look at my arm!" Jackson thrust his bloodied arm out at Abraham.
Abraham scowled at him. "It's just a flesh wound." A long and bloody one, but nothing that wouldn't be fixed with a few stitches and a week off. Jackson, however, was still staring at him in a combination of shock, embarassment, anger, and wet-his-britches fear.
Amazing. The man could hunt vampires and ghouls and was scared witless by a bunny. Alucard was sniggering by the door but Abraham was too frustrated and annoyed to do so himself. "Go on, Alucard," sighed Abraham, "Pull its head off." Alucard vanished into the kitchen, and silence reigned for a few brief seconds...and then a surprised shout from the vampire, the clanging and banging of unseen pots and pans, a few loud thuds, and through it all, the enraged squeaks and screams.
Then, it was over.
Abraham and the men crept cautiously into the kitchen, and paused at the sight that met their eyes. Alucard was sitting on the floor, legs sprawled out ahead of him, a shocked look on his face, big gashes on his cheek, a ripped-up coat...and the body of a bunny at his side, hand still wrapped tightly about it. His other arm was flopped out on the other side of his body, with the bloody rabbit head gripped tightly. A closer glance showed the rabbit's teeth firmly embedded in Alucard's thumb. The vampire simply stared dazedly ahead.
"Alucard?" Worried...but the vampire blinked and lifted his head to look at Abraham, dazed from the experience. About them lay a tumbled table, broken chairs...incredible.
"I warned you! I warned you, but you didn't listen! Oh, no, listen to you, oh, no, it's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it!" Jackson ranted, angry and hurt and vindicated, just outside the door.
"Is it dead?" Alucard's gaze was still fixed on some invisible point in front of him, but he managed to nod. "And the others?" Pause, pause...and then Alucard's eyes flew open. Quick as a blink, he had the remaining rabbits out of the sack and headless.
"What HAPPENED?" demanded Abraham, though he was starting to form an unpleasant conclusion...
"It happened before." Alucard looked unsettled, perched uncomfortably on the edge of the chair. "The vampire in the cave had made such rabbits before. I've never had anything live that I hunted in wolf form, not that I know of." A brief thought ran through his head of some of the monstrous deer and vicious wolves that the villagers had spoken of through the centuries, and he cringed a bit inwardly at the guilt, but damned if Abraham would know it... "One of the was called the Beast of Caerbannog, one of the very first. It was very vicious, killed a lot of people and animals until a group managed to kill it. It was a long time ago, centuries back. At least, I think that's when...I have his memories but they're badbly fractured." A frown of concentration, and Alcuard shook his head. "I can't get much from them, just bits and pieces. But he'd created a few monster rabbits in wolf form. I don't know if it's peculiar to those rabbits, that area, or whether I could create one in vampire form." At that, Alucard fell silent, having told Abraham what he knew and mulling over the facts himself.
"The Beast of Caerbannog, eh?" Abraham was quietly stating this, and as it was clearly rhetorical, Alucard ignored it. "A killer rabbit. Who would ever have thought it." With a sigh, he pushed himself to his feet, then went to his desk to record the events. "Jackson is patched up and should be healed and ready for duty in a few weeks. He's shown no signs of ghouling but I'm having him bed down in the basement near you for the next several hours, just in case." Alucard began to protest, but, recognizing his own guilt in the incident and that this was not an optional decision, quieted.
"Amazing. I'll get this recorded, then we'll go settle Jackson downstairs. You are not to bother him while he's there, understood?" Steel grey eyes bore into Alucard's until the vampire nodded his obedience. "Killer rabbits. Some fool will write a story about it someday, I expect."
Completed, the incident remained hidden in the journal for nearly a century before a newer generation of Hellsing found it and new eyes read it.
"Why not. It's not like anyone would believe it." And so, over a few beers, he'd told the story of the Beast of Caerbannog in the pub. He'd told it as a story, it was taken as a story, with much amusement at the originality and humor.
And then a comedy group heard of it...