"Julius, are you alright?" Adrian had been waiting in the next safe area, giving Julius small wounds a cursory examination. "Good, there are no bad wounds so far. You have been quite careful."
"It was hard, though, with this bloody bat. Please tell me you are here to give me an ally. I don't think I want to go on alone."
"You must be a mind-reader." Adrian's lips had curled into the faintest of smiles, going unnoticed by Julius, who was more occupied with frowning at the damage his clothes had taken. "Elena Belnades offered to help you."
A woman with bright blue clothes and long, black pants stepped forward, shaking hands with Julius. She was taller than him-which had to be blamed at a pair of dangerously high-heeled black boots. Elena had a quite bright, friendly smile, which was easing Julius's worries.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Belnades."
"Please, call me Elena. I am not really keen on keeping everything polite. Besides, why caring in such times?"
"True that." Julius then turned towards Adrian. "I hope you are being careful, too. If not, I'll drag your ass back from Hell, if it has to be."
"You are about to step into the heart of Hell." Adrian sighed, then bid farewell to them. "Please, do be careful."
After Adrian had gone, Elena too care of the scratches on Julius's arm. Especially his left had been the aim of many attacks, it seemed, but the arm was soon enough taken care of. Elena then explained that before, she hadn't been able to come with Julius, because of the still overwhelming Chaos energies. With the flow having decreased like that, she could wield her magic with less, even if not completely without trouble.
Julius merely nodded and then gestured at the gate to the next part of the chaotic castle. Elena exhaled quietly, grabbing a light maze. Bright blue electricity was playing around the fingers of her right hand, her powers seeming to be close to just breaking out. It was partly because of the Chaos, but at least, she had a good enough grip on it for now.
"What do you think will await us next, after the Great Entrance?"
"Well, I do hope that it won't be a cavern full of slimy monsters." Julius remarked somewhat dryly. "But you can never know in this castle. With a core of Chaos, it can always become worse."
Elena nodded, pushing open the door. A short corridor led to an identical door, which marked the begin of the next part. These corridors had something rather intimidating about them-there was no telling what would come next. Sure, there was a chance that somewhere, a map was waiting for them to be picked up, but in all honesty, it was damned hard to use one of those for the purpose of finding around the castle. Even more with the possibility to be teleported to a different part and find oneself in a completely different area.
They didn't hesitate for long, though. The longer one waited before taking the next step, the more possible it was that they would be too afraid to ever do it. Julius took over to press the door open, and reveal a long gallery with marble pillars stretching out in front of them.
Blood red water was overflowing the ground, reaching up to Julius's ankles. He was just glad he had mostly waterproof gear, as it would have become rather annoying to move around in cold, damp boots. Elena grimaced, crouching a little and dipping a finger into the water.
"It's unsettling how warm it is. As if coming from a body."
"Elena, if you would be so kind and please spare me the details, I would be glad."
"Sorry, Julius. It seems like we have stepped into the Bloodwater Gallery. Dracula always had a very sick kind of humor..."
Julius merely nodded quietly, grasping Vampire Killer tightly. Whatever was waiting ahead wouldn't come for them with blush weapons and flowers to greet them. They had to be on their guard. Elena muttered a short incantation, a flame appearing next to her. Most curiously, the flame seemed to rather be a small spirit, moving around almost with some sort of curiosity.
"I am only able to do small summonings." Elena had noticed Julius's mildly confused look. "I have read about it somewhere, and achieved a parchment with more detailed instructions. For calling a giant beast, though, my magic isn't strong enough. Elements are my strong point, so this flame was relatively easy."
Julius sighed quietly, a smile appearing on his face. "My family never was very keen on magic. With exception of Juste, maybe. And if you can call the use of our subweapons magic is highly debatable."
"Which we can do after cleaning up this place."
Julius inwardly asked himself how Elena could walk this securely on highheels, especially with the ground being slippery from the strange mix of water and ... hopefully not blood. But ever since Elena had mentioned the name of this part, Julius had felt uncomfortable with walking here. If this really was blood, then where in the name of all the Saints was it coming from?
"Is something the matter?" Elena had noticed the small frown. "Do you feel unwell?"
"Slightly." Julius couldn't hide it really. "It's really just the mental images I'm getting there..."
"Ah, I see." Elena then stopped suddenly. "Let's cut the chit-chat. We have company."
Ghosts were filling the mainly dark gallery with their dim light, coming for them relatively slowly. They knew, however, that there was no guarantee it would remain like that. With time, there would more and more be spawning all over the gallery, unless they were fast with finding the source of the many Ghosts.
Julius was focusing on keeping them away from Elena, while Elena was casting powerful lightning spheres to thin out the wall of Ghosts coming towards them from the other end of the gallery. Whatever was attracting them from all parts of the castle had to be hidden somewhere in the gallery, or maybe in one of the rooms belonging to the gallery. It would, at any case, make their progress easier and quicken it, the less worries they had with enemies.
Now and then, Julius felt like he was close to falling over, with how slippery the ground was in some parts. He always managed to recover his balance, though it also rendered him defenseless for the seconds of fright he got out of it. And every time it happened, he thanked God that Elena was there to blast the Ghosts away with a rather strong flame.
Finally, they got into one of the rooms, which thankfully was dry. Julius frowned at his dripping boots, giving the room a closer look then. There was no demon to be seen … with the exception of floating clothes.
"Funny, I thought they would be found somewhere else in the castle. But apparently, we'll have to deal with them already..."
Elena didn't give the Invisible Man enough time to shed the trenchcoat and the bowler hat. She unleashed a rain of ice crystals on him, until the blood was flowing freely, and the demon finally collapsed. Julius was speechless, since he wouldn't have expected Elena to be this cold-blooded. But apparently, he had underestimated her.
The source of Chaos energy destroyed, they returned to the corridor of the Bloodwater Gallery, just to understand that there were several sources attracting the blasted Ghosts. But with patience, and Elena's magic, they could get rid of all of them. A Chaos core then formed in the middle of the Gallery, and after a short nod from Elena's side, Julius grasped it.
"We can't pass yet. Look ahead." The door to the next part was blocked with tendrils of some sort. "There has to be a trigger to make them release the door."
Julius nodded, looking mildly troubled though. "How are we going to find out where this switch is?"
"It must be in the last room. We haven't checked the one at the begin yet."
And Elena was right—the switch finally drained the strange bloody water, the candles flickering with small flames and shedding their light.
"The castle almost looks inviting like that."
"Get your mind out of the gutter, Julius. We need to press on."
"How was my mind even in the gutter?"
"Don't ask. Just come on."