“So...you’re the son of Dracula,” Cyril stated.
The dhampir nodded and looked down at the wooden table, where his fingers were wrapped snuggly around a warm teacup.
“I can’t imagine what that would be like,” Cyril continued. “Being a little boy in a massive castle. Having a father who is the most feared man in the country. Did you ever get to have fun, play outside, run around? Or was everything all strict and formal? Were you fed human blood, or perhaps from animals—?”
“Cyril,” Alexis stopped him. “That’s enough.”
Alucard breathed out the slightest smile.
“It’s all right,” he said. “I know you must be curious.”
Cyril grinned sheepishly. The three of them were sitting in a small house, which belonged to the lady Maria Renard. Maria had gone with Richter Belmont to the town nearby, to ask the locals about recent monster sightings. Alexis and Cyril had stopped by to train with Richter later in the day, but they all decided it would be best for just a couple of people to investigate instead of drawing attention with a big group. Maria insisted that Alucard stay home and relax, and that Alexis and Cyril could keep him some company.
So there they were, sitting around a table and drinking tea that Maria had brewed for them.
“I always tried to avoid consuming blood,” Alucard said quietly. “Animal or otherwise.”
“Won’t you die without it?” Cyril asked.
“No. I can live off of human food.” He gestured towards the cup of tea. “I have only ever tasted human blood one time, against my will. But you already know parts of that story, and I’d prefer not to elaborate.”
Alexis nodded solemnly. He and Cyril were there when the drama with Magnus and Lyudmil occurred. The dhampir had been grief-stricken during that incident.
“Blood does have healing properties, though,” Alucard continued. “I can perform a spell to absorb it, but it’s different than if I were to drink it. Drinking it always magnifies the effects.”
“I see,” Cyril said, intrigued.
He was a vampire hunter in the making, and he wanted to know everything he could about the enemy. Although Alucard was not an enemy, and not even a full-blown vampire, his information was still considerably useful.
“Are you weaker without the blood?” Alexis asked shyly.
Alucard paused for a moment. “Not exactly. I was not born a vampire, so I will never be as powerful as one. There is still power in my human blood. I believe I could be even more powerful if I did consume blood, but that is against my morals, and I would like to think that I can hold off on my own without it anyway.”
“You did defeat Dracula twice, so I’ve heard.”
Alucard nodded sadly.
Cyril leaned forward in his seat. “You said you can perform a spell to absorb blood. Is that an innate ability? Rather, do all vampires have the capability to perform magic?”
“Anybody can perform magic,” Alucard said. “Even humans, as you may know. Witches do exist, as well as mages, and people who have delved into the dark arts. Just, vampires are born with the natural ability to practice magic. It’s in our blood, our nature. I did not know how to do magic immediately after I was born. It took time to learn, as does all things. I’m sure I was capable of it, I just didn’t know how to channel that power until my father taught me.”
“That makes sense,” Alexis said. “Is there any other type of magic that you can do, besides spells?”
“Oh, yes. I can shapeshift and teleport, among other things.”
“It seems you’re very formidable.”
“If I need to be, yes.”
The three men sat in silence for a moment, the two amateur vampire hunters pondering on the existence of the dhampir before them.
“What was it like, growing up with Dracula?” Alexis asked.
“It was not as bad as you may think,” Alucard replied. “My father was actually a very kind man, with Mother and I around. He rarely ever raised his voice at us, and he was very calm and composed.”
Cyril raised his eyebrows in surprise. “I would have thought it scary to have Dracula as a father.”
“Not exactly. My father taught me many things about humans and vampires alike. We were a very happy family...until my mother died.”
“Can you tell us more about her?”
The dhampir smiled sadly. “Her name was Lisa. She was from a small village called Lupu, and she went to my father’s castle in search of medical knowledge. She was a doctor, and a good one at that. So good, that the church thought she was practicing witchcraft. It was all science, really. My mother only ever wanted to help people. And look at how they repaid her...”
“I’m sorry,” Alexis said quietly.
Alucard merely shook his head. He looked dejected, and Alexis frowned. The house fell silent once again, and Cyril was becoming restless.
“What made you two want to become vampire hunters?” Alucard asked suddenly.
Cyril looked up at the dhampir. “Well Alexis and I have been friends for a very long time—since we were children. We grew up hearing stories about the Belmonts, and witnessing night horde attacks in neighboring villages. When we became of age, we decided to start training to become hunters ourselves. Only recently did that vampire kill my sister, along with many other young girls.” Cyril’s expression darkened.
Alexis shot him a glare, trying to remind Cyril to be sensible and remember that the vampire had been Alucard’s dearest friend. Cyril didn’t seem to notice, and Alexis saw the dhampir’s expression falling slightly.
“I am sorry about your sister,” Alucard said. “That line of events was very unfortunate.”
Cyril half-scoffed and turned his gaze. Alexis cleared his throat.
“Why do you hang around humans, anyway?” Cyril asked. “You have so much potential, so much power to do whatever you want, yet you linger here in this little house. Why?”
Alucard paused for a moment, thinking that was an odd question.
“I enjoy spending time with Richter and the lady Maria,” he said. “They are kind to me. After I killed my father for the second time, I was initially going to go back to my eternal sleep, but Maria stopped me. She convinced me that I was needed here, to protect the humans, and she was set on showing me all the good in the world.”
“Have you found any?”
Alucard sighed. “There are good people, such as Maria and Richter. Perhaps yourselves. They do exist. But sometimes the evil people overshadow the good. It is easier to remember the bad things, and the scars you collect, than it is to remember the good.”
Alucard’s hand unconsciously went to his chest, where he had collected many scars of his own, the one from his own father being most prominent, even after centuries.
Alexis glanced at Alucard’s hand, and studied the dhampir’s face. His eyes were sad, half-lidded over his golden irises. His lashes were long enough to shield his eyes from the outside world. Alexis always felt sympathy towards the dhampir. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have to kill your own father twice.
Cyril turned his teacup in his hand, the little amount that was left now cold. He was getting lost in his thoughts, thinking about all of the new information he obtained from the man in front of him, when Alexis spoke suddenly and startled him.
“Alucard,” the young dark-haired hunter said. “If you ever want to talk with anyone, Cyril and I would be happy to listen.”
Cyril gave his friend a strange look.
“W-What?” Alucard asked, taken aback. His heartbeat accelerated.
“I know you’re hurting,” Alexis said. “I could never understand the pain you go through every day, but I can do my best. Cyril and I do travel and hunt, but we’ll stop by every so often and say hello.” Alexis gave him a soft smile. “Maria adores you, you know. I’m sure she would be happy to talk to you whenever you like. You should try to express your feelings more.”
“Ah—I...” Alucard sighed. “Thank you. I will be fine, but thank you.”
Alexis nodded and smiled again.
Cyril gave a childish grin. “He can be overly sentimental at times, don’t mind him.”
“Oh, you hush!” Alexis shoved his friend’s arm playfully and turned towards the dhampir. “He can be overly rude sometimes, don’t mind him!”
The two young hunters began bickering and laughing, pushing each other in their seats and acting a little immature. Alucard couldn’t help but smile ever so slightly at the them, while at the same time, his heart gave him little pangs of homesickness.
Suddenly, the door to the house opened, and Richter peeked inside.
“Hey, you two,” he said with a smile. “Ready for training?”
Alucard lifted his head slightly to look at Richter. Maria squeezed in next to him and opened the door a little wider so they could both stand in the doorway.
“Hi, Alucard!” she said. “We got information about the night creatures and took care of them. I’m going to tag along with them to train, would you like to come with us?”
Alucard considered it for a moment, fidgeting with the cuff of his shirt sleeve.
“No, thank you,” he finally said.
“Are you doing okay?” Maria asked, her face showing signs of concern.
She always worried about him. He had his good days and his bad days, most of them being the latter.
“I am fine, lady,” he responded. “No need to worry about me.”
“What will you do while we’re gone? Would you like me to stay here with you?”
“No, no, that will not be necessary,” the dhampir said quickly. “I would just like to have some time alone, if you do not mind.”
Maria smiled sadly and nodded. She took note Alucard’s uneasy expression and understood that his time alone was vital to his way of life. Living amongst humans was stressful, and took a toll on his mindset at times. She imagined that spending time in the company of Alexis and Cyril was quite overwhelming for the dhampir.
“All right, that’s just fine,” Maria smiled again, before looking to the other three men in the room. “Come on, let’s get started. You two need to improve your balance.“
Richter waved at Alucard before stepping outside to follow Alexis, Cyril, and Maria out the door. The dhampir could still hear the young woman talking as they walked down the path into the woods.
“After Richter walks you through some balance techniques and how to maintain your stance, you two will spar and we’ll check your progress...” her voice trailed off as they got farther away from the house.
Alucard sat in silence and exhaled slowly. It was nice to be in the company of young hunters like Alexis and Cyril, Richter and Maria. They had such potential, and he had a feeling that they would do great things in the future in terms of protecting humanity. He wanted to be around to witness it, but he was always afraid that he would grow too attached, and his heart would break once again when the ultimate fate of humanity snatches them away from his immortal life.
“None of that matters right now,” Alucard muttered, sitting alone and hunched over in the wooden seat, his frame looking small and frail in his white long-sleeved shirt, hair hanging down in front of his face like a curtain, cascading down his back and shoulders. “Just get through today. Get through today, and see what fate has in store for tomorrow.”
That’s all anyone can do now, he thought.
Don’t think about the past. Just keep moving forward.
Don’t think about the past.
Don’t think about the past...