Refer to Switch 9: Adrian learns that his father cursed his hometown's crops.

Ending of the Broken

An argument ensued over the usefulness of Vlad's actions, but Adrian hardly paid attention after that revelation. He kept thinking of all the people back home: the old man who was the last of them he had seen, the priest who stayed in the village church to take care of it, the women that his mother had helped as a midwife, the jolly woman who took care of almost all the laundry, the retired knight who taught him how to fight, the other boys and girls that he played or had rivalries with. This winter, it would be a tough time for all of them, and it would all be his father's doing. And he could believe that people would turn to fights and thievery to get by. He'd seen and heard of it before.

That was just another reason that he needed to get himself and his mother out of here.

A little while later, Death had announced his decision to keep Vlad as Lord Dracula. Vlad said that it was only natural and summoned the servants that had been working for Olrox, telling them to chain him up to prepare for 'dealing with' later on. Although he tried to reassert his control, the servants paid no heed to Olrox's protests and dragged him away. In celebration, Vlad announced that he was going to hold a party for his loyal servants, and his family.

The Moonlit Ballroom was where the party was held. It was magnificent, with gold-trimmed white marble making up the walls, floor, ceiling, and staircases. Gold and white carpet was set everywhere but the main dance floor. There, a large pit held a thirty piece orchestra which played the music; it might have had more instruments if a white grand piano wasn't there as well. Large arched windows displayed a moonlit starry sky, while an enormous candle chandelier kept the place bright. On the walls, there were decorative pillars or statues set at regular distances, with either large mirrors or large paintings between them. While it was a magical place, there were little macabre touches as well, such as the subjects of the art, the skulls in the candleholders, and magical armored knights that were on guard.

Lisa was brought out of the Royal Suite, given a necklace of diamonds and pearls that would keep the residents of the castle respectful and obedient to her. She was given a corseted black dress that Adrian suspected was the most expensive piece of clothing he'd ever seen. Made of satin and whale bone, it had elaborate lace work, as well as gold thread sewn into the skirt. When she arrived, she was also wearing a black fur cloak with a hood, but that was soon put aside so that she could dance with Vlad.

But she was out of the sealed area and the Moonlit Ballroom had nothing keeping anyone from leaving. While his parents were dancing, Adrian slipped aside and searched the surrounding halls. He was dressed similarly to his father, in a ruffled white shirt, black pants, and shined shoes, although he wasn't allowed a cape yet. The name of this place was familiar and the ball didn't hold much interest to him. After several minutes, he found a teleport room that would give him access to his chosen escape route. This was the ideal time, if he could do it without his father's notice.

When he got back into the main ballroom, he noticed that the castle residents were restless. "What is with these obnoxious rules?" one witch said to another. She was wearing a white dress that just barely hid her body, with a lot of bare skin showing. Adrian was trying not to look at her.

But the witch she was talking to was hideous, with snakes for hair and a dress that made it seem like she had scales all over her body. Or maybe she did. "It's because of the mortal woman," she said. "Don't worry, I've heard that once she retires for the night, he's going to throw all those rules out the window." The two of them giggled.

That might be enough to distract them all. Adrian kept to the sides and watched. On the dance floor, Lisa looked unhappy, but she was being obedient to Vlad's wishes. There was a moment when he nearly yelled at her, but the music and general noise level kept Adrian from knowing what was going on between them.

"Alucard," a voice said behind him. "You've been restless tonight, wandering about."

Tensing, he looked around. Death was there, his scythe on his back. "I don't know what to do for this," Adrian said, with a touch of honesty. He'd never been in a position to attend an event like this.

"We will have to address that ignorance at some time," Death said, coming around to Adrian's side. He brushed the boy's hair away from his face, then touched his eyes. Adrian flinched, not sure what to make of it. "You've been wandering around a lot, but you really shouldn't. Your powers have not developed enough for you to truly see what is around you. Most humans, being as lowly as they are, have a weakness in their mind so that they completely ignore things of the spiritual world. As this place is powerful, you can begin to see such things here. And with your father's work, you can see a little more. But you are not seeing this," he indicated the ball and its participants, "for what it really is."

"I'm not?" He hadn't had much trouble getting around so far. But then, he'd only been in a few areas, maybe not even a quarter of the map he had.

Death shook his head. "You are a vampire, but you have not tasted blood of your own will and actions. Because of that, some of your power you cannot use. If you wish to truly walk these hall freely, then you will need to awaken them, or else you may walk into a danger that you cannot see."

Had he been lucky so far? Adrian looked down at the floor. "I have to do that?"

"The longer you put it off, the worse your final wakening to power will be. As it is, your first taste of blood might inflict a momentary loss of control and sanity. There are some precautions you can take to make it easier to handle. It is what he means to do with you at some point. But, no time like the present, right?" He took Adrian's chin and make him look at him. "You're already changing over, and within a few years, you will cease to age further. We're giving you enough time to become a man, because it would be a waste to keep you as a child for eternity. What do you say?"

Was it worth crossing that line? He had a chance tonight to get his mother out of here, but he needed to have a clear head for that. But, would better vision into the reality of this place be needed as well?

As long as it wasn't from a mortal, Adrian felt like it was a worthy chance to take. "What should I do?"

Death seemed to grin wider at that. "Let's go into one of the other rooms. I'll help you out."

The Moonlit Ballroom was different. Adrian had missed seeing almost a third of the castle residents in attendance, and nearly a third more he had not seen for what they really were. Like the witch in the white dress now had a sparkling white glow around her, but also had markings of a black witch that sought to cause harm. In the halls, he found that stately ghosts drifted through the halls, caught up in some routine that was entirely different from the party going on. Many of those ghosts seemed to drip blood behind them; although it disappeared after a few seconds, it still made Adrian's stomach turn.

He felt strange as well. On sunny summer days, he could feel the rays of the sun falling hot on his skin. Right now, he felt something similar, but cooler; it was the moonlight, which he could feel even when there were no windows around. There was also the taste of blood close in his memory, nothing like what he expected. It had been only been a blood zombie, which Death said was weaker than the blood of a human, thus appropriate to acclimate him with. With that taste, there was also a lingering desire to taste more, much like when he had been given a sample of a delicious new food. Recalling the rush that had come at first, he knew for certain that he had to be cautious with this.

On entering the ballroom again, he noticed that his mother was by herself now, drinking a glass of wine. His father was off boasting to and being admired by his servants. Adrian walked quietly over to Lisa. "Mother, how are you doing?" he whispered, taking her arm.

She smiled on seeing it was him. "Oh, I'm okay. Not used to being treated like this, even from back then."

"Tell them you're tired and want to go back," he suggested. "Then we can take the chance to escape the castle. I still haven't found out how to break the seal for you."

"Well I don't have the books I was going to take, but you're right, this would be a good time."

Holding up the wrist he was wearing the artifact bracelet on, Adrian said, "Don't worry; I have his book of alchemy. He gave a copy to me, and we should find something in there."

She brightened on hearing that. "Yes, certainly. I'll go talk to him; you go wait by the teleport room, and hope he doesn't send many guards, or come himself." She touched his cheek. "Adrian, I can't say why, but you look different tonight."

It was because the blood had given some color to his skin, especially his lips. "Don't worry about that; we have to go."

She nodded, then headed off towards Vlad. Adrian left the ballroom again and waited in a doorway near the teleport room. A few minutes later, she came into the hall as well, wearing the fur cloak and accompanied only by a mummy wrapped in dry linen. Good. Summoning a fireball, he attacked the mummy, dispatching it within a minute. Then he took his mother's hand and hurried her to the teleport room, where he requested to be sent to the West Castle Wall Corridor.

There, he noticed markings that he hadn't seen before. Some looked to be done in white chalk, while others seemed to be scrawled out in blood. But the truly dangerous thing didn't appear until the last long hallway they had to traverse. There had been a series of platforms at level with the doorways, with stairs on both sides heading down to the lower floor. Before, he had felt strange after going down, only to get briefly sick later on. Now he knew why: poisonous orange vapors filled the lower level like a thick mist.

"We need to cross the platforms," he told her.

"It looks easier to go the lower way," Lisa said.

He shook his head. "There's poisonous air there. The platforms go over it."

She gave him a curious look, then nodded. "All right. I trust you, Adrian."

Although she was in that heavy dress and cloak, the gaps between the platforms were small and the edges did not crumble. It took longer, but they crossed over and entered the doorway which led to a hidden passage into the gatehouse. From there, it was a quick trip down the path towards the lake to the two bridges. Due to the celebration in the castle, the ones who controlled the skeletons and zombies were no longer here, meaning there were far fewer monsters on the bridges than before. The night was cool, but Lisa was dressed warmly and it hardly affected Adrian now.

They continued to hurry along the road when they crossed the lake, passing through the dark forest they had first arrived in. At this point, Adrian was no longer sure where they were going. But Lisa told him it would be fine. "As long as there's a road, we should find human settlements eventually," she said, taking off the cloak. "We're definitely going to get some odd looks with these clothes, but depending on where we end up, we might be able to barter them for regular clothes and money to keep going until we find a safe place."

"Fo you know where we are?" Adrian asked.

"Vaguely," she said. "But I'm not certain right now."

Several hours later, they came across a town. But Adrian could see and sense the powers of darkness that many of its residents had, so he let Lisa know that they couldn't trust this place. They walked on. By dawn, they had spotted another town up ahead. The fields around them had a few farmers already up and at work, none sparing a moment to call out to them. So they went on.

The feeling of moonlight had left Adrian some time ago. Now, he felt weary from this trek. "I think we can trust this place," he said.

"We should stay long enough to rest and try to barter these things, but we'll need to move on before night falls," Lisa said. "Hopefully they can give us directions to a place the church has held onto for a long time. Vlad wouldn't be able to follow us there."

"Yeah." He rubbed his eyes, but then noticed something strange. All over the back of his hand, there were tiny pin-pricks of red. They weren't bleeding, but their sudden appearance was worrisome. And, they were on his other hand too. "Mother?" He held his hand up to her.

She stopped on seeing it, then looked to the eastern sky. It was bright, filled with golden light. "No, I hoped it hadn't progressed that far," she said. Then she threw her cloak over Adrian. "Keep that around you," she warned, pulling the hood over his face.

"Why?" he asked. But then sunlight spread across the road; right as it did, he felt that heat like a summer sun beating down on his bare skin. Only, he was totally covered in this cloak and the feeling settled deep inside his body, making him feel ill.

"The sun is dangerous to all vampires, even if they are strong enough to resist it," Lisa said, leaning close to him. "And one as new as yourself, accustomed to the protection of Castlevania, if any of that touches your bare skin, it will kill you." She put her arm around him. "Let's get you inside somewhere."

Shuddering, he clutched the cloak tight around him, keeping his bare hands inside. "I'm sorry," he said in a shaky voice as he tried to continue on while feeling so awful. "They told me I couldn't see all the dangers of Castlevania unless I had taken blood myself. That was right, because that was the only way I saw that poison air. I thought it'd be not as bad since it wasn't from an actual person. I'm sorry, I didn't want to be a monster."

"Don't worry," she said. "I still love you. And you won't be a monster unless you choose to act like one. You can feel guilt, so I know you're still yourself. It's another complication, but we'll work things out."

Explaining that he was ill, Lisa and Adrian made their way across the Romania countryside. Sometimes they were able to get a ride with someone who had a horse-drawn wagon, but he had to sleep through any daytime travel they made. Lisa had gone into a church to get a priest's blessing and another cross, letting her travel safely through the night. For himself, he used his vampire senses to keep an eye out for danger in the darkness, sometimes fighting off monsters but mostly keeping he and his mother out of notice. They had bartered off one of Lisa's jewels for new clothes, then sold off all but the fur cloak (as it was better at protecting him than anything they saw at the market). Those funds would get them to a place where she could be safe, and he...

It wasn't certain what he would do. He felt sickened whenever he entered a church, one time fainting because he was too near a preaching monk. With time, he might be able to build resistance to sunlight and holy powers. For now, they agreed that he should have further instruction on battle and magic so that he could defend himself should Dracula's forces come after him.

The second time they came across a town's market day, a pair of Church officials approach them. "Are you the woman who sold this five days ago?" one of them asked, holding up the diamond and pearl necklace.

"What does it matter?" Lisa asked. "I am moving to a new place with my son, so that he can better recover from his illness. We need any money that we can get."

"You haven't sold his sword or shield," the other said.

"We need that to protect us from bandits on the road."

"This necklace has an enchantment on it," the first one said. "We need to speak with you both about where you came across it and what you intend to do."

Adrian nearly reached for his sword, but Lisa put her hand on his shoulder. "As long as you don't mean to harm my son."

"Of course not."

It had been a mistake to go with the church officials. Accusing both of them of witchcraft and being agents of Satan, they were scheduled to be burned at the stake the following day. Adrian wasn't sure what to feel. Sometimes he was incredibly angry; other times he was devastated, like he should be killed because of what he was. But whatever happened, his mother didn't deserve to die. She always tried to do what was right.

The cell was small, with heavy dark rocks forming the walls. Metal bars closed off this area with a large padlock keeping it shut, although it seemed to be a weak point. Although someone had spread new straw in here recently, it still smelled musty and old, with dirt and grime covering everything. There was a stone slab for a bench and bed, and a hole for nature's business. An old rank smell came from the latter. It was the most miserable place he had been in.

Once night fell, and his strength returned, Adrian used his fire magic to melt the lock on the bars keeping him a prisoner. The night guards were outside the strongly built prison, so he was able to find the box where they had put their things to get his sword, shield, and cloak. The lantern was long lost, left back in Castlevania because he hadn't been allowed to bring that to the ball. On seeing it, he grabbed the silver cross his mother had been given too. It seemed to burn his skin, but he was able to put it in a pocket with little effect. Then he went to find the cell where his mother was kept.

There were not many prisoners in here, so he found her quickly. She smelled strongly of blood and bruising. However, it did not affect him strongly, perhaps because of the silver cross. "Mother, let's get out of here," he said, going to hug her.

"Oh, Adrian," she said in a strained voice. She smiled a little. "I can't leave. But you should."

He shook his head. "I don't want to leave without you. If anything, you should leave and I should stay. My blood is cursed, and it may always be that way."

She clasped his head and put her forehead on his. "It's my fault that you're that way," she whispered. "And I really can't leave. They broke the bones in my feet, so I can't even stand up. I believe in you, Adrian. I know in my heart that you can do good in the world still. I'll be glad to see you gone from here."

"I can't leave you to die!" he said, embracing her and breaking down into tears. He'd gone into a place of chaos and evil by himself just to get her back; Adrian certainly wasn't leaving her to die in a normal place like this.

For a few moments, Lisa let him be. Then she nudged him away. "It'll be fine," she said, smiling although her eyes had some tears as well. "I'm going to die at some time, but you will keep living. If you try to get me out now, then we'll both die an ignoble death. But listen to me one last time."

One last time... it sounded awful, filling him with a sense of dread, as well as a wish that he could do anything that would get both of them out safe. But, she was right. With what his father had done to him, he was going to stop aging in a few years, for eternity, but she would continue to age until she died. And he wouldn't wish his situation on her. Adrian nodded, even if he hated this.

She didn't seem affected by it, though. It was like she didn't care about these dingy surroundings or her broken feet, only that he had come to her. "First of all, don't hate humans because of what they do. Ours is a hard lot in the world, being up against natural ills and the incredible forces of the supernatural with only a little bit of magic and strength of our own. And in such a short time as well; it is no wonder many become desperate for some explanation of all the harshness or for some portion of power. You should know, since you lived like us so far."

"I'll remember that," he said. He knew what it was like to work hard for many hours of the day with only meager portions of food, hoping for better times. When she put it that way, it was easier to understand why they had been called out so strongly just because of an enchanted necklace. With his father's curse over the crops, they wanted an explanation of why, as well as someone to take the blame.

At that point, she seemed to notice the end of the silver chain that was hanging out of his pocket. Lisa nodded and tucked it in more securely. "Next, I don't know if you'll get another opportunity to talk to your father when he will listen. But if you do, tell him that I will love him for all of eternity. I know it seems foolish, but despite all that's happened, I know that I've seen a side of Vlad that few have. If he can't redeem himself, at least he may be able to stop causing harm to the world if he opens his eyes to what he's really become. I would forgive him in knowing what pain drove him to this, at least."

It certainly didn't sound wise, but he nodded. "If that's what you want, I'll try."

"Good." She patted his pocket. "Lastly, my son, I believe in you. I know that you can defy your own curse and bloodline in order to be a great person. Don't push yourself to the point where it kills you, but keep faith in the goodness of humanity, the world, and yourself. I love you, Adrian, and you'll always be my little boy."

He hugged her again. "I love you too, mother." Then, as much as he didn't want to, he got up and left her there. One of the guards was coming back in, but as it was night, it was easy enough for Adrian to rush past him and out into the dark streets.

Adrian stayed in the town long enough to watch the burning. It was painful and there were many points where he wanted to run away. However, he didn't want leave his mother surrounded by people who all thought she was an evil witch. He knew that she had seen him at least once, sitting on a nearby roof wearing the black fur cloak to protect himself from the sun. He knew because she had smiled in his direction and then put her mind completely away from the moment.

With her death, the last piece of his childhood burned away too. He wouldn't use the name his mother had given him anymore. Instead, he would use the name his father had given him, Alucard. Not because he wanted to be like his father, far from it. He wanted to use it so that he remembered to take the opposite path and try to find light as a being of the night. After all, there were the stars and the moon; there had to be some hope for him.

As the crowds began to leave, Adrian felt the presence of another dark being. A motion of black was at the edge of his vision, but he kept himself calm. Then Death was fully in his view, looking over the town square. "It seems I got here late."

Alucard frowned. "I don't believe that. After all, you are Death."

"Believe what you want; it's what he does." He put a bony hand on his shoulder. "I was told to bring you both back."

Feeling defiant, he looked up into the skeleton's eyes. "I went there of my own will. And I will not return against my will. Even if I must fight you."

Death only laughed. "You can be confident in saying that due to the presence of the sun. But at night?"

"I would still try."

"Hmm." He looked back to the still burning fire. "I have a way of knowing things. You were the last to hear her speak. What did she say?"

Alucard looked back to the fire himself. "I don't need to tell you. And I know you can't claim her soul."

"Do you?"

"The angels came for her already." He knew because the silver cross in his pocket had become more powerful without any warning. After a second, it didn't even hurt him although he could still feel it. It was his mother's dying wish for him, he believed.

"I see," Death said, but his tone indicated wary concern. "Aren't you warm in that black fur, in the sun?"

He shook his head. "I'm fine." And he was, to where he didn't feel ill being out here. Weak still and not ready to face direct sunlight, but not ill.

"Your resistance to the light is growing extraordinarily fast," he said. "Or perhaps it is more than that. I will leave you be, as you wish. At least, for the time being. But remember this: no matter how far you try to walk into the light, the darkness will always remain in your soul." Then Death turned into a haze, gone in a second.

"So will the light," Alucard said, getting back onto his feet. He was on his own now, a thirteen year old vampire who still had a lot to learn. Death might leave him alone, but the creatures of darkness would recognize him and try to drag him fully into darkness. And he wouldn't let them. Putting his hand to his chest, he bowed his head towards the fire. "Goodbye Mother."

Then he fled from the town, out to find his new life.

The End

If you're curious, the 'canon' path through this story is 1-3, 5-8, 19-20, 24-25, 29-30, 32.

I've played many Castlevania games, although not all; which ones should be fairly apparent. The biggest influence is Symphony of the Night itself, although Lament of Innocence gives some artifacts while Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow gives some insight into how the castle works. But mostly SotN. For instance, I wanted to explain the presence of Olrox there. He seems like he should be important, given that he has an area of the castle named for him and it connects to the central room of the castle.

Also, to the two of you who followed the story... I'm terribly sorry for spamming your in-box with notices! Got a little enthusiastic about updating today. But I hope it was worth it.

I'd love to know what you think of this.