Sanguine Faith

a/n: Set in "Lament of Innocence".

Intro: Five days early

What was five days? Set in the back of eternity, what was five days. Nothing, less than nothing. Time was but a means of marking for convenience's sake. The only variables that mattered were the span between the sun's rise and its daily crimson death.

And here, here that one exception was gone.

He took one breathe, another, and sighed. Forrest loam, wood, animals, blood, the familiar pallet of this place. His nose was proving to be as enlightening as his eyes. The sight before him was as it had been five days ago. Black warped behemoths all around, their leafy protrusions rattled in a brisk wind, their edges strained to uphold the black vault of heaven.

This was night eternal, the gift of the black stone. The dark who was beloved by those who loved no more.

Still, though the sight was monotonous and the scents the same. There was one aspect of the mix that gathered his attention as it always did. And to that bit of familiar his lips quirked, flashing teeth a mite too sharp in a grin no one would ever see. Running now, threading over leaves without making a sound he closed the distance. The damning flush of his eyes the only illumination, as the trees had conspired and their branches interlocked blocking even the moons chancy light.

Insane, inane, a conversation from earlier that day… night… lingered in his mind.

"I try to be a good man, perhaps… that's why I've been blessed."

"Blessed," he's scoffed, almost spat into the fire between them. Only knowing that his spittle would surely be… tainted… stilled him from completing the act. "You've been blessed, have you? To find this hell hole? To challenge the devil who claims mastery over all for the chance to maybe, maybe, save the one you love? Knowing all the while, while you wade through death and worse than death that the one you love may honestly be killed at a mad man's whim at any moment. This place offers no assurances, no guarantees. And that's a blessing?"

"Faith. I have it, as must you."

"Must I?"

Between them the flames crackled. Sparks spit crimson spite into the black belly of heaven, only to be eaten by the wisps of smoke that followed. The omnipresent dark stole the details of this "Lord" before him, red illumination made him seem to have a hair of red. Of blood.

He licked his lips, his gut twanged.

"You never told me, Joachim, where you're from."

"Around, about." The other man murmured with an absent shake of his head. And, odd how this… Belmont lord responded, wincing back from him. He'd never know that the silver of his hair was edged with red, that the fickle light of their dying fire made a gash of his pale throat. "And you?"

"My family owns the land a bit from here." Came the whispered confession, as truth at last replaced the shoddy evasions from those five days before. "But, we never knew…"

"No one ever does."

Silence again, between the two. In the following hush the fire made the shadow about light's edge ripple, like the devil's sigh.

"I… I must have faith, faith that this is all happening for a reason." Leon Belmont murmured, cradling the dull brown whip in his lap, he raised one hand, an absent motions hand over sternum, sweeping down…

Joachim turned away, least the flash of infernal light in his eye give him away.

"The faith's all yours." The motion stopped. This man was so devout, he could feel it, feel Leon's faith as he went through the motions that for most were hollow. Joachim could feel the devotion though he wasn't watching. A chill took his spine, save he'd never feel it. For him there was no cold. No faith. No light.

Still he'd endure, this and worse to get what he needed.

"What I have is hunger. I'll bring us down a bite. By this eternal night, I swear I saw deer tracks a mark back, I'll wander a bit and see what I can round up."

A moment, one breath, Leon's, then… "You do not swear on God's name."

"Tis a sin, one of the seven I think." Joachim grinned, baring teeth a mite too pointed so quickly he was sure the man before him hadn't seen the edges.

And if he had, the noble from a different time honestly didn't care. Not anymore. He was hungry.

"I'd hate to damn myself."

And, the irony of it was not the statement, but that if the truth were known… well that no one would laugh with him. But he'd be more than content to laugh alone. Joachim stood, straightening the edges of his violet coat, smoothing nonexistent wrinkles from his snake embalmed vest and checking the set of his sword.

"Rest." Joachim recommended. "I'll be back soon."

Thus, he'd faded into the night, and once sure he was beyond the man's sight had gone to running. As silent as night, stilling only to partake a sampling of the air and trace the allusive scent of blood.

And fear.

Ahead, drawing closer despite his prey's efforts to the contrary… The thunder of hooves, a flash of horn. Then, as if a sign from above, the fickle light from the chancy moon hung overhead, found the break and adorned those crooked points of the stag's horns just right. He smiled, the prey was found. And dinner would be served.

He quit the earth and the base motions the pathetic called natural… and right… that of running. He quit the very earth, spurned it, and thus flew.