Something in Common

By The Unseen Watcher

Vampire Hunter D and Castlvania belong to their respective owners and claimers. I'm borrowing the characters to indulge my own skewed view of reality. In no way is this story meant to be yaoi, so please put the idea out of your mind from the start, it'll save time and brainsweat later.

Chapter 1 -----------------

D dodged the dagger thrown at him by his young opponent. Young for a vampire, anyway. This one had decided that he didn't like being in the iron control of his house and had fled their grip to set up shop in this old mountain country. He had then started terrorizing the small community that clung to a mountainside nearby. That's where D came in.

**

D had skirted around this region many times in his endless travels, but had never ventured further than its borders. There were few human settlements here and the vampire hunter knew that his prey would go where the food sources were. Added to this logic was reluctance, a feeling like some distant nightmare or memory that eluded him. All he did know was that he wasn't comfortable in the region, so he avoided it. Only a very good reason, such as a rogue vampire, could get him to even consider setting foot in the place.

He got it. He was passing by when his senses picked up the sound and smell of a demon hoard. The creatures were foul enough on their own but when they got together, he could feel them miles before he came in sight of them. Their evil auras scratched across his magic-attuned nerves like their dirty nails would his flesh if any lived long enough to get that close to him. He would have avoided contact with the foul things, but paused as he sensed that they were already hunting something. He sniffed the air and his eyes narrowed. Human. They were hunting man.

D altered course, urging his DL4 Cyborg horse toward the commotion. He arrived on the scene at full gallop, his long sword already drawn. The demons fell quickly to the powerful strokes of his magical weapon. He didn't even bother to dismount until he turned to the packs' would be victim.

The man, half dead from exhaustion and blood loss, had gasped out his story as he collapsed in a relieved heap at D's feet. He had been one of five messengers sent by his village to hire a hunter to kill the vampire that had suddenly appeared to plague them. He was the only one to make it as far as he had. The Noble was smart enough to know not to let word get out about his presence. He would have succeeded if it weren't for D's half- blood senses.

He was Dhampir, the result of a union between a vampire Noble and a human mother, and he hunted his father's kind with a fervor that few could match. His dedication, combined with the powers granted by his dual heritage, made him the perfect hunter of his father's kind. The few other hunters that even knew of his existence acknowledged openly that he was the best. If he got on a vampire's trail, the bloodsucker was history.

So when D hauled the villager back to his home across his saddle bow, following the man's half-coherent directions, he listened politely to the inhabitants offers of reward and simply asked the way to the vampire's lair.

It had taken less than a day to locate the tumble down fortress. The building had seemed to draw him to it with the aura of ancient power it radiated. D had easily located its current inhabitant, predictably in the middle of the structure. At first glance, he knew that the edifice was far older than its self-proclaimed master.

D had quickly learned much about his young opponent. His experienced perception noted the awkward fighting style, the open expression on his face that he had not yet learned to hide, and the fact that the young pup boasted out his entire life story in the first five minutes of their encounter. The Noble had left his house's control, but he had also lost its protection as well.

**

Dodging another barrage of miscellaneous objects, D had to wonder if his family missed the idiot that much.

*

Not to say that D wasn't taking his opponent seriously. He took everything seriously. Some of the projectiles, like the Cursed Shuriken that the vampire had produced from somewhere, were dangerous enough that he took care to avoid them. The grenades had nearly taken out one of the walls when they had been tossed rather wildly in D's general direction. This one had not yet learned the level of control that experience and time would have given him to fully utilize his powers. D's instincts, honed to a nearly tangible edge after countless centuries of constant fighting, moved his body in avoiding these strikes almost before the vampire could begin them.

*

D had assessed his opponent's strengths, and apparently multiple weaknesses, early on in the fight. What little power the young (he could not have been over 50) Noble had had been quickly used up at the start of the fight. The idiot should have realized from the beginning that his feeble magic was useless against D, and conserved his strength. Vampire magic was mostly concerned with the strength of its wielder's will. D had forged his own over the millennia into a substance hard enough to chip diamond on it. His opponent could have broken his on sandstone.

The young vampire threw more objects, boasting about his prowess and how he would make the hunter beg before he died. D had begun to wonder privately if his House had actually thrown the moron out so that he wouldn't weaken their bloodline with his stupidity.

The vampire, Vladimir he called himself of all names, stubbornly refused to realize how hopelessly outclassed he was in this situation. He kept trying to freeze D with the hypnotic power of his eyes, the oldest trick in the book if such a book existed (it would be made out of stripes of animal hide if it did). D merely shrugged these attempts off like raindrops from his cloak. He resolved to himself that if he attempted any line like 'look into my eyes' he would brain the twit. Realizing his train of thought, he mentally resolved to stop listening to the symbiote's babble. He was starting to think like It.

The corner of D's eyes tightened, the only outer sign of his annoyance. His mind was wandering in the middle of a fight, something that had not happened in a very long time. He also felt an emotion that he also hadn't seen in a while; bored disdain. This whole ridiculous fight seemed to have evolved into a personal insult to his years and experience. He had fought opponents that this young upstart would gladly grovel at the foot of.

Tiring of the game, D closed in on the now frantic vampire, his long blade running through the other's heart with ease. D made sure he was permanently dead before bringing his focus away from him. The hunter paused, waiting, but as he had suspected, the structure did not disintegrate with the vampire's death. He had not been its true master.

*

{{ Well, that was fun. }} A voice said sarcastically. {{ You've had more challenge in watching grass grow. Although, knowing you, that might actually be considered quality entertainment. }}

"We should hope that all opponents were so easy." D answered, though he silently agreed with the symbiote's assessment, ignoring the barb. The being in his left hand continued to grumble. {{ Why did we come to this backwater anyway? The people are rude, the lodgings are ruder, and the entertainment is just plain pathetic. }}

D didn't comment. The villagers had tried to be hospitable, but they had a right to be wary of outsiders, considering what the last one had turned out to be. Isolated communities tended to be very clannish, though since the war that devastated civilization 10,000 years ago everyone seemed to be isolated. The village had been dirty and rather crude, but nothing short of a palace would satisfy the symbiote anyway.

*

His senses were once again assaulted by the strong aura of age and power that seemed to hang over the place. Standing now, near the center of the structure, with his attention not focused on battle, he allowed himself to soak in the sensation he was experiencing. The newly dead vampire had not been the master, so who was? The design did not suggest the work of human hands. This place was so old only magic could be keeping it together. And magic needed a focus.

D walked around the room, straining to find. . .something. The feel of the place was almost familiar. A bit like home. However, he had never been here before. Many vampire lairs had held small similarities to the castle of his father, though none had really come close. This half-decayed ruin felt hauntingly like his the place of his youth. It pulled at old memories and emotions, both pleasant and less so.

Shaking his head to clear it of disturbing, half-remembered images he started to make his way out of the room. The sooner he was gone from this place, the better. It rattled his carefully built control.

D strode past one particular wall and stopped in his tracks as if pulled by an unseen cord. Turning gracefully on the balls of his feet, he examined the unremarkable stonework before him. A wildly tossed explosive had scorched part of it, the weakening of the ancient plaster discernable to his sharp ears as it cracked against itself. Absently, he raised his right hand to rap the wall.

The effect of the idle action brought his full attention on it, his eyes narrowing slightly in sudden suspicion. A human would have missed it, but the senses that were the gift and curse of his vampire blood caught the faint echo. To confirm what his ears had already told him, he moved further along the wall, knocking carefully with one ear close to the stone. When he came to the same spot, he again heard the sound that told of a difference from the walls surrounding it, this time with a slight shower of crumbled plaster to accompany it.

{{What in the stars are you doing?}} The Entity's voice wondered, the tone leaving little doubt that It thought that It's host had been hit on the head one time too many. Ignoring It, D reached a decision. Curling his hand into a fist, he drove it against the wall. After a few more punches delivered with the inhuman strength of his large frame, the weakened section fell with a roar, D leaping out of the way of falling stone.

{{Well, I'll be.}} The Entity trailed trailed off as the dust settled, revealing a set of stairs leading away in the darkness beyond the shattered wall. Stepping over the rubble, D glided quietly to the foot of the stairs, his dark blue eyes glowing faintly in the gloom.

The feeling grew stronger as he moved forward. His eyes made out the faint outline of a door at the head of the stair.

*

D was not by nature curious. Curiosity in his line of work could get you dead fast. Some Nobles loved to booby trap their lairs, especially the so- called traditionalists that believed a castle wasn't complete without one or two nasty surprises around every corner. The Entity called them the Mediocre Morons, a name It tagged them with when D had found one trapped in several of his own snares at once. The Entity had laughed so hard It had nearly choked.

*

Drawing his attention back to the present, D cautiously tested each step before putting his full weight on it. The motions were so smooth and deft that it would appear to an observer, had there been any, that he was oblivious to any possible danger.

Reaching the top, he hesitated at the heavy ironbound door. Reaching out with his left hand, he slowly turned the ornate handle. It wasn't locked, a fact that only increased the hunter's wariness.

Slowly the door swung open to reveal a room bare of any ornament save for a coffin that rested in the middle of the floor, wrapped in chains. One look at the floor revealed that every tile was carved with an ornate, magical rune. Most of them still pulsed with malevolent power, but a scattered few seemed to have dimmed with the countless millennia that must have passed since someone had set foot in this room. The fact that not even a spider's web hung from the ceiling practically screamed that the room was deadly.

{{Oh, joy.}} The Entity said, a slight note of apprehension creeping into Its' voice at sight of the obvious death trap. {{Well, this has been fun, but I suppose it's time to hit the road again. Duty calls and all that.}} It said, hope in its voice. D actually smiled slightly at that. Lefthand was the one usually encouraging him not to be so focused on his quest and to live a little. That enthusiasm seemed to stop just short of risking life (and especially limb) against deadly magic.

D would normally have agreed. He was no treasure hunter. The stuff would only weigh him down.

But something seemed to call him from that coffin. Some instinct told him that he couldn't just walk away from this mystery. He needed to see it through; having decided that, the hunter started looking for a means to accomplish his goal. His attention turned to the coffin. Whatever was in there was obviously not meant to ever get out. He could practically touch the magic weaving a tight barrier around the box.

D stretched his senses. He was right. Very little magic centered on keeping things out. It would be relatively easy to get to the coffin. Leaving afterwards was the problem.

D stood in silent thought for a few moments, then turned and made his way back down the stairs. The Entity's sigh of relief echoes in the passage.

{{Ah, well. A little puzzle that I must say I'm pleased to leave behind. Life's full of enough of them as it is without going looking for them . what are you doing?}} This last rather bewildered question was directed at D, who was currently walking around the castle in a half-crouch, his eyes peering intently into shadowed corners and crevices. Before the mystified Entity could question him further D cocked his head, as if listening for something. Quickly he dove for one particular shadow, his right hand closing on something that squeaked in protest.

D stood, holding a fair-sized rat by the back of its scrawny neck. The rodent struggled and fought, but couldn't get its sharp teeth close to its captor. Ignoring the thrashing, D turned and quickly made his way back to the room. Stopping just outside the doorway, he casually tossed the rat into the chamber with a flick of his wrist. It tumbled across the floor, with no response from the wards, until it had almost reached the center where the coffin rested. Righting itself, it quickly scurried for the walls.

There was a bright flash, a smell of cooked meat and fur, and the ugly thing was gone as if it had never existed.

{{Okay, I get it.}} Said Lefthand. {{You needed a hobby and so you invented a game called Roast the Rat. Really, D if you had asked I could have come up with something a bit more entertaining, and less odiferous.}}

D ignored the other's sarcastic tone. After years of association with the talkative Entity, he did it automatically. Unsheathing his sword, he slowly slid its razor tip forward across one of the more faded tiles. There was a flicker and a burst of sparks, but the rune's power winked out, as the design's symmetry was marred from a different direction than its focus. Visually tracing out a path, D stepped on the tile and repeated the process with others. Several agonizing hop steps later, he was beside the coffin. The Entity remained silent, afraid that any noise would disturb Its host's concentration and balance.

That particular challenge out of the way, D inspected the casket carefully. The chains were enchanted of course, but what concerned him the most was the elaborate sigil on the lid. Not to mention the rather obvious razor sharp Blade Wall curving over the entire structure, one of the few traps designed to keep out rather than in. The blades were a dark green, almost black except for the edges where their true color showed in the thinner metal. They also emanated a power that made the floor look like a child's game of hopscotch.

"Someone seems to have gone just a bit overboard," Lefthand said, its voice somewhat subdued. It REALLY did not want to disturb their rather fragile position. "The blades are a bit much, don't you think?"

D studied the blades, searching for a weakness in the design. A button, a switch, Anything that would give him a clue about how to get past this particular stage. He had been schooled at a young age by tutors and even his father to think and plan before he acted, but he was a straightforward man who preferred to answer with his sword blade rather than play mind games. This whole situation was starting to irritate him more than a little, though his usual expressionless mask was still in place. Only the very few who knew him well could catch the glint of annoyance in his eyes and the slight wrinkling of his forehead.

Tiring of the waiting game, he fished a small dagger out of his sleeve and threw it underhand at the coffin, ducking as a precaution.

It was a good thing that he did.

There was a greenish flash of light and a wind whipped his cloak along his back. D quite clearly heard the sound of multiple blades slicing through the air. Carefully easing up from his crouch, he took his hat off and slowly raised it above him. When nothing abrupt happened to it, he straightened slowly, his gaze falling on the deadly box. The blades were in the exact position they were before, but he knew that they had moved. Glancing around the room, he was glad he'd ducked.

Carved into the far walls were regular, clean slash marks that coincided with the blades lining the coffin.

{{WELL, THAT WAS SMART! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?! ARE YOU TRYING TO GET US KILLED?!}} The Entity shrieked, unable to remain silent after the display. D was being reckless, something he hadn't indulged in since he was a child. He didn't answer the other because he usually didn't and because he really couldn't explain it himself. He frowned, reaching up to rub his forehead in an effort to clear away the fog that seemed to be encasing his thoughts.

*

There was something missing. Some clue he had overlooked. He could practically hear a voice that sounded disturbingly like his father chiding him for being dense. He was going about this all wrong. He was trying to weave his way through this problem like a thief. The building seemed to sense this and react against it. This was no problem for a burglar, someone who had to winnow his way in. This required the confidence and straightforward arrogance of a lord in his domain. He had every right to be where he was, no matter where. He had to strip himself of the illusion he had tried for so long to fit himself into. It was the only way to find the answer to this mystery that called to his very bones.

*

Vampire Hunter D straightened to his full height, his eyes flashing an angry blue. The mental cloak of solitude that he had so long wrapped around himself to appear less of a threat to humanity fell away. In his place stood the son of the most powerful vampire in history. The thin impression of an unassuming, modest nature vanished.

~ How dare this pitiful trap stand in his way! ~

Glaring at the blades as if trying to melt them with his gaze alone, he extended his hands and started chanting in the High Tongue, in a commanding voice that allowed no possibility of disobedience. The blades glowed in response to his power, twitching slightly in the grip of his will, struggling to swing around and slice him with their Blade Wind.

He frowned and continued his chant, closing his hands into fists and rotating his wrists sharply. The blades twisted, screeching in protest as they crumpled and finally snapped off at their moorings, falling to the floor with loud clangs.

D was breathing heavily, arms still spread, fingertips glowing faintly blue. He felt drained, but with it came a sense of exhilaration that he had forgotten long ago. The use of the full power of his vampire lineage combined with sheer human stubbornness.

{{SINCE WHEN CAN YOU DO THAT?!!}} A voice said incredulously, interrupting his reverie. He had forgotten all about the Entity. Its' tone was awed, and more than a little frightened. D smiled grimly, realizing as he did so that his fangs were fully extended.

*

{{I'm your friend, right?}} Lefthand said uncertainly. It definitely Hoped so! The normally purely physical dhampir had just demonstrated a side to him that his associate did NOT want to mess with.

*

Bringing his breathing under control, D closed his eyes, trying to calm himself. What was going on? It was like all his years as an unpretentious hunter had fallen away, leaving the impatient, proud young son of nobility that he had been in his youth.

This place. It fairly reeked of home. In all its air of quiet dignity and age, it felt so much like the bastion of security he remembered that he could practically smell it. He was not used to being thwarted in his own home by any less a personage than his father.

Calming somewhat, he eyed the coffin and the glowing sigil emblazoned on its surface. His last challenge aside from the chains. His last visible one, anyway. He wouldn't put it past this blasted room to pull something else on him. He shook his head, trying to get rid of his aggravated thoughts.

The rune curved at the head of the casket, written in the ancient language that even few vampires remembered. It posed a question, but exactly what was hard to make out. Impatient with just one more delay, he spoke a certain word while tapping the end of the design, silently thanking his maligned tutors for their patience. The sigil wavered, curling into a different shape like a drowsing cat.

*

{{What does it say?}} Lefthand asked, its voice cautiously respectful. It was still wondering where D had gone without him noticing, and whom this person was who had taken his place. D read aloud.

i am a child of night

yet the dAy hoLds no terror

i hUnger for the blood of the living

but cAn choose other fare

i will bRing about your salvation

or Destroy you utterly

{{How cute,}} The Entity muttered. {{You certainly had a funny way of reading it. Was the emphasis just to impress me?}}

*

"It's the clue to the rune." D answered softly. It was clever, in a childish kind of way. No one without experience in the subject would understand. He looked at it and spoke firmly. "The answer is Alucard the Dhamphir."

-----------------------

Like? Bad rhyme, I know, but the designer wasn't meant to sound intelligent. Is good? Yes? No? Review please!