Blehh. It's just something that was commissioned. Based vaguely off of Castlevania.
Eaten and content, the man, though scarcely more than a dreaming boy, turns and disappears onto the main road, leaving the glade in which he had taken shelter that night. He walks for a few hours in solitude, his only companions the sun on his face and the wind at his back. Around noon he notices something strange. He has been this way before on market days but never has he seen the black splotch that now looms threateningly at him, imbuing a dark hole in the otherwise picture-perfect surroundings. He frowns. He decides to go investigate. His curiosity now piqued, he stumbles up the hillock and wades through a sea of knee-high grass before he is close enough to realize that the dark speck is actually a house. And not just any house; this is a castle. He squints, attempting to make out the details of it and can only conclude that it appears very old. The voice at the back of his head is pondering whether this is the right choice. Maybe he should go back? Despite this, he chooses to come closer.
As he approaches the castle, however, the surroundings change. The ocean of grass has disappeared, replaced by a craggy rocks and desolate strands of barren trees. He feels cold, very cold. As if something is staring straight into his soul. It is a much farther distance than he had originally guessed, the castle simply being massive enough to see from his location. He wonders how he could have missed the huge building earlier. It certainly is attractive enough. He presses on, wanting to finish what he has started. Hours later, our wearied and determined hero finally reaches the edge of what appears to be oblivion. There is no other living thing for miles and he suddenly realizes that he has made a fatal mistake. He looks back but finds that, to his horror, he cannot find the lush landscape that he has come from in the distance. He wants to go back now but something stops him. Staring up at the decrepit but strangely beautiful castle in front of him he determines that this could be only one place: the castle of Dracula.
Peering up at a window he finds, to his uttermost shock, a young woman sitting solemnly at a dresser. Her hair is of the purest silver, her skin of the palest white. A single black rose in her hair completes her monotone look. It is almost as if all the color has been bleached from her. She turns and he finds himself staring at her hauntingly grey eyes. They seem sad, almost melancholy… he notices. Within moments he has resolved that eyes of such beauty should not be cheerless. He would rescue this girl, this maiden of such spectacular splendor from the clutches of Dracula. He would be the one to restore color to her and lit a fire in those eyes. He opens his mouth to call out to her but when he looks again she is gone, in her place a black outline that fades immediately like ashes on the wind. “Hello?” His voice echoes.
He shivers. A cold wind blows, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Or it just the horribly ominous presence of this place? He doesn’t know. He is rapidly beginning to regret his decision but trudges on. Where has the day gone? It is almost nightfall now. He bounds up the path to the castle door, noticing at once that the doors are shut. He steps up to the huge, ornately carved slabs of wood and gazes at them for a moment. Once they would have been magnificent, a thing to gaze at and admire. Now he can feel only loathing for the structure in front of him. He imagines he can feel the evil aura seeping through the vintage wood. Yes, he thinks to himself, this place is certainly filled to the brim with evil. I’ll save that damsel in distress! He raises his fist and hears a whispered rustling noise behind him.
He whirls around instinctively, but there is no one there. Stooping down to inspect the cracked earth he examines a lone petal, black and withered. It seems to be from a rose and as he turns it over in his hands our hero detects a faint scent. Not that of a rose, but… Of copper? He shudders as he realizes that this must be the odor of blood. He drops it in disgust and backs away, knocking into the doors as he does so. As it leaves his hand it blooms once more but fades to ash upon making contact with the dusty ground. Oddly enough, he falls through to the other side, doors opening behind him as his body crashes through. Who unlocked the entrance? He wonders, but doesn’t dwell on it. His mind shifts to the maiden. And as if by magic, she appears before him, descending the blackened spiral staircase.
He reaches out to her. “Wait! I have come to save you-“ His words are cut short as she throws a derogatory glance in his direction. Without a word she slips into the next room, door clicking shut behind her. Puzzled and slightly befuddled, our hero stumbles after her only to find that the door is locked. He kicks at the door in frustration, crying out, “Fair maiden, I bid you open this door so that I may rescue you!” There is no answer, only the deadened thump of his booted foot against the hard wood. A few seconds later he tries the knob again and to his amazement it turns, leading the way to a spectacular library filled with dusty tomes and ancient scrolls. Not being the most intuitive hero he races past these without reading a single one, including the half-open book that rests precariously on the arm of a chair. The whiplash of his sudden passing by knocks the volume to the ground with a soft ‘thump!’.
‘Dangers and Perils of the Supernatural World’ it reads. And had the hero been thoughtful enough to spend the slightest moment reading it, he would have made the discovery that not all things are as they seem to be. A small giggle erupts from behind a shelf and to the ignorance of our hero, a young woman steps out. Her slightly sorrowful grey eyes contrast with the rest of her appearance and her devilish grin. “Now, now, Gideon,” she calls out softly with a graceful sweep of her hand. “Care for a cup of tea?” A shadow materializes from behind yet another bookcase and in a moment there is the likeness of a young man who seems to be on the threshold of good and evil. He bows stiffly and makes a note. “Mistress, it is dreadfully late for tea, don’t you think? You shouldn’t spoil your appetite. Dinner shall be served in a half hour.” His heterochromatic eyes linger near the overturned book. He picks it up and tucks it under his arm, ready to refile later.
“Oh, but Gideon,” the pale mistress returns, “I would like a cup of tea very much right about now. Although,” she thinks for a moment longer, “I suppose it can wait until tomorrow.” She smiles and plucks a book off a stand near her, dusting it off with a gloved hand. The particles fall off her hand as soon as she touches them, not a one sticking to the delicate fabric. She settles into the aforementioned chair, crossing her legs and turning the cover to read. “You may sit down, Gideon. No need to stand.” He nods politely but makes no move to sit. His mistress shrugs, already engrossed in the story.
Meanwhile, our hero is wandering through the enormous library. He has not stopped to study any manuscripts yet, to his misfortune. He is famished by now and wanders outside in search of something to eat. The door he picks is weathered and creaks loudly as he starts to shift it for a glimpse at the world beyond. Something stirs. He whips his head around, only to find that nothing is there. A cold pallor begins to take over him. His eyes dart from one corner of the dim, candlelit room to the other but find only various books and their respective cases. After a moment more of hesitation he shakes his head and slips out into the dark night, the moon his only source of light among the scattered thorns and blackened roses.
His footsteps echo against the handlain stones for some reason, the gentle thuds multiplying and evolving into pounding thumps. The sound cascades all around him and heightens his tension. Over there, he thinks, eyes scanning the surroundings for a glimpse of whatever horror there may be. But none seizes him. Yet. A few more tortured, frightened minutes pass and somehow in the midst he stumbles across a bench. It is fine and subtly carved, the pristine white edges as if someone had just recently painted them; a stark contrast to the rest of the Gothic but ancient castle. A canopy of leaves is intertwined with the equally white structure encompassing it, designed to immerse the area in shade in bright sunlight. A bed of black roses adjacent to the bench compliments the settings perfectly. He stoops to admire the splendor of the flowers and takes a small whiff. A sickly sweet aroma emerges from the plant. He frowns. The scent is familiar. Where has he smelled it before? Our hero drops the subject for now. Next to it leans a shovel, for whatever odd reason. He ignores it and sighs. This is exactly what he is looking for.
Another sound startles him just as he is making a move to sit down. He tightens, drawing his elaborately wrought sword from its scabbard just in case he has to defend himself. A shape breaks free from the darkness and—He lets out a tensely held breath. Just a crow. Its beady red eyes stare at him. As he moves to put away the weapon, however, it flies towards his face in a fit, screeching and clawing with its sharp talons. He attempts to slice at it but it nimbly evades, flying out of range until the next series of attacks. Our hero grits his teeth and curses himself for letting his guard down. After a few more moments of fighting, though, he manages to get the best of the monster and slices it in half, thus ending the foul beasts’ life.
Wiping his blade on a leaf, our hero is now deciding what to do at this point. He knows that he must succumb to the blessed grip of sleep but is wary of letting himself be unprotected. He deposits himself on the bench, stroking the pristine marble in thought. It is hard to keep his eyes open. The moon leers at him, before comforting but now a threatening figure. The whisper of wickedness is on the wind, lending fear to our otherwise brave champion. He cannot possibly rest at this rate. And yet, he is asleep before he knows it, a victim to its seductive clutches. The inevitable has happened against his will. Gently snoring, the last thing he sees before everything fades to pitch black is the silhouette of a young woman.
Hours later he wakes up and finds himself lying on the tarnished brass floor inside the mansion with no recollection of what has happened. Dazedly he picks himself back up and scratches his head. His stomach growls and reminds him of the fact that he is horribly hungry. He managed to doze off before finding anything to eat, he remembers. But there is no memory within our heros’ mind of returning inside. He examines his surroundings with a precise eye. No, this area is not familiar in the least. For one, there is a statuette off to the left that wasn’t there before. A balcony covered in rich satin drapes hangs above everything, looking luxurious despite its obvious age. He looks up to see the richly embellished mantelpiece above the fireplace. It holds a frightening ornament: a collection of skulls. Above that, a balcony covered in rich satin drapes hangs above everything, looking luxurious despite its obvious age.
He wonders what time is it. There is no clock above the fireplace, only the ghastly skulls. A quick glance at a cracked window to the outside reveals that several hours have passed since his losing consciousness. The sun has risen and shines light upon the gardens outside, basking the vegetation in its bitter, bright rays. Idly he broods over why he now considers even the sun to be unforgiving. There is no answer to be found other than the atmosphere of this place. Sighing jadedly, as his body is still tired despite the long sleep, our hero stretches and performs his usual daily ritual in an almost ironic mimicry of the previous day. Before he sets off to find the poor maiden, however, the familiar habits bring to mind his filled waterskin. He fumbles for the pouch at his waist, brings it up to his lips dexterously, and drains it in one fell swoop.
Now that he is slightly rejuvenated, our hero sets his hand on the hilt of his sword as last night has taught him a valuable lesson. He has resolved not to let down his guard. His body tense, he continues to explore the castle. He has scarcely taken one step, though, before an arrow slams into the ground at his feet. He looks up. There appears to be no one in the room besides him; he is apprehensive. Cautiously he lifts up his foot for another step— He dodges the second arrow whizzing past his face. “Who is there?” He calls out, sword drawn. “Show yourself!” And yet there is no answer. He catches a glimpse of movement on his left side. He leaps backwards. Another projectile flies past him, grazing his forehead. He winces for a split second but does not show any other sign that he has registered the blow.
Blood drips from his slightly torn flesh and into his eye, obscuring his vision. His right side desperately tries to compensate for the impaired left but to no avail. Our heros’ only chance is to find the archer and slay him before he himself is felled. He charges straight in the direction of his opponent, or at least, where he believes the arrows are emerging from. Another flits by and nicks his shoulder, barely touching the skin. Still, the impact of such a heavy object upsets his balance and he veers off to the right a little. He looks up and perceives the merest hint of a pale figure. Did it just wave to him? It is hard to tell through his hazy vision. Below it is the statuette, in all its stone glory. He realizes what this means even as the figure disappears once more. “The statue!” he exclaims. Our hero again becomes conscious of the fact that even the harmless can be a threat here. ‘Nothing is what it seems’ is what he urges himself to remember. In one fell swoop, he leaps up and severs the statuettes’ head clean from its body, taking care to shatter the weapons as well.
“There,” he says to himself, “much better.” With a satisfied grin on his face our hero quietly celebrates this small victory. It doesn’t take long, however, until he remembers the figure on the wall who waved to him. “She must have risked her life to save me,” he muses. In no time he is back on his feet again, moving towards where he had last seen the girl. There is no staircase to reach the balcony on which she stood though, so he chooses instead to climb to the top. He has convinced himself that there is not much time left and that he must do this instead of mindlessly searching for the one door that may lead here. It is no easy task, however. The wall must be at least thirty feet, easily four, maybe five, times the size of him. He grits his teeth and holds the image of the maiden with the heartrending eyes in his minds’ eye as a motivator. His hands fumble for the next stone, the next decoration. His rough hands grasp every piece of support possible. A moment comes when there is no niche for his hand to slip into. He attempts to reach for one higher up and nearly falls, hanging on the ledge.
His left arm the only thing supporting him now, he closes his eyes. It is his hope that he can manage to feel his way to another handhold. His right hand searches the area, probing every nook and cranny for a suitable home. Just as his left threatens to give out, he has somehow found another recess to latch onto and eventually hauls himself up to the top, softly gasping for air. As he catches his breath, he hears a voice. “Gideon! I believe it is teatime?” Almost amazed, our hero turns toward the source of the sound: a set of antique double doors. They are polished yet still darkened, an interesting mix of light and dark.
He reaches out and grasps the handles, opening the doors to find his young maiden along with a young man who is obviously not quite human. He reaches for his sword until a remark from the lady stills his hand. “My, my, Gideon, what do we have here? A visitor coming in unannounced?” She rises from her seat and seeks to directly inform our hero of something. However, before she can say anything he puts a finger on her lips and says, “Speak not. I have come to save you from this godforsaken place!” Her expression turns from the faintly amused to the outright annoyed. A hand reaches up and removes the finger with considerable strength. The young man, Gideon, moves closer without seeming to be in motion at all. “You appear to have gotten it all wrong. I’m quite content here in this ‘godforsaken place’, as you put it. Leave.” Her hand shifts and points to the door. She is giving him one last chance.
Our hero cannot quite accept it. He shakes his head. “No, you… you must be deluded.” His hands come together as he comes to a so-called revelation. “Exactly! Someone must be controlling your thoughts. Please, you don’t really want to do this—“ His pleading is cut short by the command of the young lady. “Gideon.” One word and the demon is on him, striking with such force that the hero has no time to even draw his sword. He attempts to retaliate but it is inadequate. The hybrid is out of his league. The fluidity of his strokes combined with the power behind them is beyond anything this human could ever defend against. More than that, his stunned eyes drift lastly to the girl, who has turned away in disdain. “She did warn you.” Gideon deals the final blow and watches as our foolhardy hero plummets off the balcony and to the ground. A sickly sounding wet crack is heard as he hits the ground. Blood pools around the crumpled, lifeless body. The young lady orders her servant, without even turning around. “Feed it to the roses.”
“Yes, Mistress Charlotte.” There is no question as to which roses, nor to what ‘it’ is. The limp heap on the floor is all too obvious. The demon hybrid swoops down in a graceful arc, gathers up the remains of our would-be hero, and carries them outside. The purpose of the shovel, which had seemed so out of place before, is now hauntingly clear. Gideon handles it with ease, emptying sediment from the rosebed. A pile of bones emerges. He leaves the majority alone but keeps the cranium for later use. The body is lain down carefully among the older carcasses, carefully arranged so that nothing will disrupt the garden. Lastly he sets a thin layer of soil over it so as not to take from the beauty of the plants. The whole process takes roughly ten minutes for the demon hybrid. His mismatched eyes loiter only a second over the completed task, taking in the surreal qualities of the healthy roses. Only a faint air of death hangs around them and that is the best Gideon can do.
He turns his back, returning to his mistress.