Thought it was finally time to return to this story! It's been a couple of months since I put up the last chapter, and I do hope not to take such a break again. In the interim, I've become the administrator of a chat room, so, well. That's taken up some of my time, along with school.
Let's get crackin'.
Chapter 7 – Sentiment of the Damned
"Get down!" Lumina shrieked, jerking as hard as she could on Cecilia's shoulder. The Belmont barely budged, hit with the revelation like a thousand bricks.
This was what she had come here to do. To kill Gavin, to end his life for his hand in ending the lives of everyone she knew. Everyone she loved. The callous burning of Wallachia; and for what? A foolish, misinformed attempt to curry favor with her? But in the end… could she really do it? End the life of someone she'd considered a friend?
Gavin did not seem to have nearly the existential crisis that she did.
His whisper-thin rapier sliced through the air, the vampire moving with absolutely inhuman speed. Brought on by rage, by his own perceived betrayal. Cecilia moved only by instinct, merely following Lumina's direction.
"Fight! This is what you came to do, isn't it!? To kill me!?" Gavin roared at her, his face contorted into something between rage and sorrow.
"I… n-no," she said, her voice barely audible above a whisper. She stumbled away from several more probing strikes, the rapier nicking her as Lumina led her ever backward. "I came to find out why!? Why would you do that? Any of this? I thought our friendship meant something to you!"
"I thought it meant something to you! They were only humans. They didn't mean anything!"
"N-… you… you were special," Gavin said, staying his blade. "You deserved better than the chattel."
Cecilia's hand flickered to her side, resting briefly on the handle of the Vampire Killer. "Do… not speak ill of the dead. They weren't things. They were people! Like me!"
"Cecilia… dear… they didn't mat-" Gavin drew back suddenly, as the Vampire Killer slashed through the air, silencing him with a holy crack of thunder.
"They mattered to me!" The whip came at Gavin again, the vampire meeting the holy leather with a strike of his own rapier. The whip and rapier met time and time again in the air, Cecilia forcing Gavin back over the marbled floor.
"You don't get to decide what's important to me you," slash, "arrogant," crack, "leech," Cecilia shrieked.
Gavin disappeared into a shroud of bats, appearing a moment later several yards away behind her, his violet finery torn in several places, unholy blood eked from slashed wounds. His sword had been marked, deep grooves set into the metal by the holy power vested in the Vampire Killer.
"If this is the way it must be, then I will show you the power of the son of the dragon." The air around him grew thick with a purple haze, reeking of magicks most foul. Gathering at the tip of his rapier, pointed shakily at the scion of Belmont.
"You're the one who made it this way," Cecilia said, charging Gavin, whip outstretched, flowing with righteous fury, both personal and magical.
The purple haze coalesced into a series of fireballs around the vampire, and in a single horrible moment, the fireballs rained down on Cecilia Belmont.
The Vampire Killer arced through the profane hellfire. She was everywhere at once, the leather tearing through unholy flame, opening a hole in the firestorm that waged between them. The world stood still, Belmont before Tepes, the fire swirling around them like a whirlpool of unrighteous magick.
In that moment, Gavin's face, so haughty, so immaculate, even in the wake of the holy scar, was contorted into sheer terror. A face that begged for mercy, reflected in the eyes of a woman scorned, a hunter who would give no quarter.
She reached through the fire, cracking the whip behind her in the windup for the decisive blow.
"Lumina, help!" Gavin cried.
"Wh-" Cecilia made to turn, looking everywhere for her tiny companion.
The bolt of light, tinged purple, hit Cecilia full across the back. However light the faerie's magic, it still packed a punch, and Cecilia was sent sprawling past and beyond Gavin, onto the marble floors. She rolled to a stop, her back screaming in pain.
But there was no relief to come. A polished shoe came out of nowhere, catching Cecilia in the ribs, preternatural strength sending the hunter sliding across the floor.
"This is why you should not step before the son of the lord of vampires. No weak human can compare. Even if they are a Belmont," Gavin said. Approaching her, sword held high. A vacant-eyed Lumina floated behind him, her usual cheery gold a deep and majestic purple.
"You coward. I was beating you!" Cecilia croaked, pushing herself to her feet. Her ribs cried in protest, every bend of her body eliciting a stab of pain from her midsection.
"'Was' is the operative term, isn't it?" Gavin mocked, slashing at her.
She barely managed to deflect the path of the sword, but when she made to strike in turn, a further bolt of purple light hit her. This, too, she stopped with the Vampire Killer, but there was no stopping the next kick. Again in the ribs, and again it pushed Cecilia further across the floor. She hit the throne that Gavin had earlier perched upon with a sickening crunch, and a grind of stone as the impact pushed the throne back some. A cool breeze wafted up from below.
"Lumina… what did you do to her?" Cecilia asked. She was having a hard time keeping her head up, that next kick having further broken her ribs. Sleep… sleep seemed such a nice prospect just then. The breeze helped to rejuvenate her some, though, and she silently pressed back on the throne. It moved a few inches further. A… passage beneath?
"I didn't do anything to her. She was my familiar, dear Ceci. I just let you borrow her," Gavin said, raising his sword high. A killing thrust.
"… heh… I knew you were a coward, Gavin. But having my friend spy on me… is just… sad."
"I am not a coward!" The sword flashed out, and Cecilia moved. The sword thrust right into the stone of the throne, pushing it back. Cecilia leaned back, and with a weak smile disappeared into the area beyond the throne.
Gavin fell over the throne itself, the sword embedded deep into the throne, the grooves put there by the whip locking it into the stone like a sheath. He pulled, but to no avail. "Lumina! Get after her!" he howled.
The purple faerie looked between Gavin and the corridor beyond, and dutifully, fluttered away after her friend.
Cecilia panted as she ran. Her ribs cried out for release with every step she took, and she swore she could feel them break even as she ran. Spots danced in front of her eyes, but for as long as she held on to the Vampire Killer, it did not seem to matter. Pain could wait for later, when she actually had time for it to intrude in her life.
When that "life" did not seem to only consist of a few more minutes in a dank and desolate passage.
The stairs wound downward, with cold, flickering torches only showing up every now and again on the way down. And the further she went, the longer she spent in the darkness, the torches becoming ever more infrequent.
"Because that's good planning," she muttered to herself.
She didn't know where she was going down here. She had never been here before, and even if she had, pain was obscuring much of what was happening just then. When she reached what seemed to be the bottom of this particular passage, she took every turn she could find.
Left, right, straight, and left again, putting as much distance between herself and Gavin as she could. Or Lumina… The thought brought a mist to her eyes. It… made sense, in retrospect. The little faerie was, at her core, a sort of monster. Given to her by Gavin…
But the little faerie had seemed so cheerful. So earnest and friendly. It didn't seem right that Gavin could take even that away from her.
She took the nearest passage again, collapsing in a heap in the room beyond. Her eyes had started to gain some sort of semblance of night vision, and she could hazily make out her surroundings. Broken down columns, one of the lowest areas of the castle she figured. She could barely see out of the side of the ruined columns, but she swore she could hear running water.
Deeper still… did this castle ever end?
Cecilia slowly turned onto her side, her hand, the one with which she wielded her Vampire Killer, touching briefly on her ribs. A… little rest. Yes. She could sleep here. She had taken so many turns… if they could still find her after all that…
Her eyes drifted shut.
The mind was a strange place. In it drifted the fog and mists of thought and memory. So obscured by pain, by malady and misfortune, rendered in a horrible clarity when given over to sleep.
She awoke with a start, but not in the caverns far below Castlevania. No… on a dirt road, hued orange.
She pushed herself out of the dirt, looking blearily around. The village of Wallachia… her place of birth, where she had been raised. The perennial home of the Belmonts.
The village around her was alight with fire, but not just that. It was also still, whole. Children ran in the streets, but in another moment they lay prone in the dirt. Covered in the gore of battle.
"What is this?"
"You know what it is. It is your home."
"I… I know that. But why does it look like this?"
"Because it isn't real. It's how you remember it. In every way you remember it. It is also how I remember it."
"Who… who are you?"
"A Belmont. Well. A memory of one. My name is Christopher. Like others before me… my power has been imbibed in this whip. This Vampire Killer."
"Christopher… Christopher the Hero!" Cecilia said, pushing herself to her feet. Amidst the flames, a man had appeared. Bearing a resemblance to her own father, but not quite the very same.
"If that is what you wish to call me," Christopher acknowledged. The fire warped around him like a mirage as he stepped out of it, onto the street with her.
"I am the memory the whip has of me. I stirred when the village was set aflame… I awaken now. You have not unlocked the full potential of the whip. It isn't strong enough to kill Dracula. Yet."
"But… I nearly killed Gavin with it."
"This whip isn't for the likes of him. He's weak. Strong, but if someone knows not how to use the muscles they possess… then they are weak. Cecilia. You are weak." Christopher said. But his tone was not unkind.
"I-!" Indignation reared its ugly head, but… he was right. She had reservations. She had been unable to act until it was too late for her home. She had been unable to act until Gavin had nearly killed her. "I was. But… I won't be. I will kill Gavin. I will kill them all for what they've done."
"Don't focus on the what, Cecilia. That is what makes you weak. That is what makes Gavin weak. Why will you do it?"
"Because… because he's evil! Because all of them are! For what they've done, for who they've killed, for the Belmonts for-"
Cecilia would normally have shrunk from the yell, but… she had had enough of shrinking back, stepping back when things became too much for her. Looking at the ground, she spoke to herself "No! They've caused so many atrocities! Who the hell cares why I'm doing this!? It's a bad job, but someone's got to do it! Jacques, all those knights… they suffered because I didn't want to be a Belmont! I didn't want to kill Gavin, or go on any epic quest! I didn't want that to be my life! But…"
"… because I was a coward, they all died. Or… or suffered. Or any other number of awful things!" She looked up then, staring Christopher Belmont, Christopher the Hero, Christopher the Vampire Killer, tears in her eyes. "That's why I'm doing this! And to hell with you if you think that's not a good enough reason to fight them!"
"That is the only reason to fight them. Revenge isn't a good enough reason. That just makes you worse off. Other Belmonts have learned that. Leon… the first vampire killer fought for revenge at first. Stopping future atrocities… is the only reason to fight. Perhaps you've the resolve after all, Cecilia… Belmont," Christopher said with a weak smile.
Christopher walked past her, the young huntress trembling still with rage, remorse, and a resolve. A new one. To end all of these atrocities… to do the Belmont name proud.
"That is the Belmont spirit, Cecilia. You did not have it… but… you do now. Go. And see to it that Dracula rises not for another hundred years!"