Disclaimer: Do I really have to mention that I don't own Castlevania? If I did, we would have gotten to see Julius curbstomp Dracula, the storyline would have been neatened up a bit, and Dracula and Alucard would have just HUGGED already after the reveal in Lords of Shadow 2.
Summary: Lords of Shadow Continuity: AU to Mirror of Fate and Lords of Shadow 2: Trevor wasn't the only one that had the truth of his parentage kept from him by the Brotherhood.
Liam wasn't sure what woke him, and he laid still for a moment and held his breath as he strained his hearing. The room was quiet, save for Trevor's soft breathing in a bed against the opposite wall. The fire had died hours ago, and the room was dark and chilly.
He heaved himself out of bed and moved towards the fireplace to relight it. On the way, he paused to tuck the quilt around Trevor's shoulders and brush the child's hair out of his face. Ten days had passed since Gabriel had abandoned the child here, and the boy had stopped calling for his father after day six. Instead he had lapsed into silence and spoke only when directly spoken to. Seeing Trevor in such a state brought back some very painful memories, but Liam couldn't bring himself to be angry at Gabriel over it. Gabriel had apparently taken all he could take, and if what the messengers from Wygol were saying was true, then he had returned to that cursed castle to hide once again. Maybe he should take Trevor on a journey then. Perhaps they could convince Gabriel to come back with them.
He moved over to the fireplace and knelt down in front of it. It was a simple matter for him to toss a couple logs into it and get it going again, and as his hands worked on the familiar routine, he thought back to the letter he had received earlier in the day. He had been shocked to receive a letter from Adelar Cronqvist, Gabriel's cousin and the current lord with the passing of Wolfram. The letter had stated plainly that if he saw Gabriel, he was to tell him that no one blamed him for Wolfram's death, that it was known that he had nothing to do with it, that Cordrin Cronqvist had been "dealt with", whatever that meant, and that he was welcome to return home.
Liam pondered that as flames rose up around the wood, bathing the room in a soft, flickering glow. It sounded as though Gabriel had believed himself responsible for his father's death, or at least believed that others did. If so, that would certainly explain why he had fled and left Trevor behind. How much more could Gabriel take? Had this finally been the blow that left him broken? Liam brushed his hands off as he stood up. No, he wouldn't let the boy that he still loved as his own rot in that castle. Tomorrow, he and Trevor would take that letter and set out. Hopefully, the letter and Trevor's pleading would convince Gabriel to come home.
Yells echoed down the corridor, and Liam whipped his head up and stared at the doorway. Who could be up this early? What was - ?
More yells, and Liam was vaguely aware of Trevor sitting up in bed as clanging steel sounded through the thick oaken door.
"Hide, Trevor, and don't come out until I tell you." Liam didn't know what was happening, but clashing steel in the middle of the night significantly narrowed the possibilities, none of which were good. There was a pause, and he didn't hear Trevor moving. "Hide, now!" Finally he heard the child move, scrambling out of bed and sliding underneath. A second later, he heard Gabriel's pet chirp, and then she fluttered down to hide with him. It wasn't the best hiding spot as anyone with any sense would think to check there, but it was better than nothing.
Liam stepped back away from the fireplace and into a shadowed corner as the magical power that he rarely called upon coursed through his veins. The light from the fireplace would disrupt the night vision of any that came into the room, making it easier for him to surprise them.
Running footsteps approached the door, accompanied by the sound of jangling armor, and Liam felt magic dance across his fingertips. The door shook as someone tried to open it from the outside, but it was locked. The door shook again, harder, and he heard Trevor whimper in fright from his hiding place as the sound of small bits of metal jingling sounded out in the corridor? Keys? No one but himself should have a key to this room...
Liam resisted the urge to curse as he realized who was on the other side of the door just as the lock turned, and the door swung open on creaking hinges.
"Liam?" came a voice he hadn't heard in three years, and he frowned when Cecil stepped into the room, accompanied by a few other men, men that Liam could have sworn were loyal to him. His lip curled in disgust. His old friend looked completely unchanged. "I know you're in here, Liam."
Liam said nothing as Cecil waved the other men into the room first. "Find him. They are both in here somewhere."
They were after Trevor.
Liam raised his hand, and light composed of pure magic shot from his fingers, crossed the room in an instant, and struck the three men that were cautiously exploring the room. They yelled in surprise and pain and collapsed bonelessly to the floor. The battle ax that one was carrying fell from his hands, bounced off the wood floor, and landed in the fireplace, where it knocked into one of the burning logs and pushed it free of the grate. It landed on the floor outside the stone ring that surrounded the hearth, and within seconds, the old wood floor began to smoke as burning embers scattered across it.
"There you are, Liam." Cecil said as he stepped into the room, and Liam was disheartened to see more people running down the hallway to catch up with the old man. None of them made any move to attack or stop him. "Why did you have to do that? Just give us Trevor, and no one will have to get hurt."
Liam stepped out of the shadows, magic still at the ready. "A little late for that, old friend, wouldn't you say? Why are you here?" He knew of course, just as he knew that he had no chance in combat against the men that Cecil had backing him up, even with his magic. Stalling until someone truly loyal to him came to the rescue was his only chance.
Cecil gave him a wry smile. "No one is coming to the rescue, Liam. We've already seen to that."
"What have you done?" Smoke was beginning to fill the room, and flickers of flame were licking across the floor. They needed to get out soon.
"Oh come now, Liam! Do you honestly think I would have everyone murdered in their beds?"
"After what you planned to do to Gabriel, nothing would surprise me."
"Gabriel's fate was foretold! He had to be prepared, and William and I intended to see it through! Unfortunately, we need Trevor for when Gabriel's tasks are done. Hand him over, Liam, and then you can put that fire out before anyone dies. You know as well as I do how old this building is; it's a tinderbox encased in stone. Would you really risk everyone's lives, including the children, for one child?"
Liam could feel the heat as the fire began to spread across the floor to the furnishings. Trevor cried out in fear, and the bat began to squeak in panic and flap her wings. Cecil gestured one man into the room, and that person made a beeline for the bed under which Trevor was hiding.
Liam blinked his stinging eyes against the smoke. "Gabriel asked me to care for Trevor as my own. That does not include handing him over to you, Cecil." With that he raised his hand again, and he was cloaked in white light as magic flew from his hand and struck the man that was trying to grab at Trevor. The man let out a strangled cry as he was knocked away from the bed, and he stumbled into the flames spreading across the floor. He screamed as his oil treated leather armor went up like a torch, and he flailed about as Liam tried not to think about the man inside. Another young man that he had helped raise. He raised his hands to try and smother the flames, but before he could gather up the necessary power, he was knocked hard back against the wall. His head bounced off the stone, and the fire suppression spell he had been about to cast fizzled and failed. He slumped down as another man raced across the burning floor, snatched a crying Trevor out from under the bed, and went running back towards the door.
"Goodbye, Liam." Cecil said as he stepped back into the corridor. "I'll convince William to at least give you a decent funeral once we've returned." With that, he slammed the door just as the other man, still burning, leapt through the window to try and escape. Liam heard the sound of shattering glass, and he huddled down on the floor and covered his face, as the moderate fire in the middle of the room quickly grew to reach the ceiling with a roar. He could feel the heat against his body, and he could hear Gabriel's pet shrieking, and he stumbled to his feet and coughed deeply as he staggered to where he heard her. The smoke was nearly to the floor, and he could only see the vaguest glow and the feel of the heat to tell him where the fire was. He found Trevor's small bed by stumbling into it. He dropped to the hot floorboards, reached out, found a furry little body flailing about in a panic, snatched her up, and ran for the window.
The cool night air was a sweet, sweet relief as he tumbled through the broken window and onto the grass outside. The bat – Delilah – wiggled out of his grip and went flapping and screeching to who knew where as Liam laid on the grass, sucking in great lungfuls of clear air and coughing. Cries from alarm from the burning building behind him made him get back to his feet, and he turned to see hands pounding at windows. Some windows were opening and people were climbing out, but some appeared to be barred shut from the outside, and Liam realized with a horrifying certainty just what Cecil and his men had done to prevent anyone from interfering.
Ignoring the heat from the flames coming from the broken window, he ran for the nearest barred window and pulled off the board that wedged it shut. The window flew open, and the man inside began to climb out, half dressed and coughing.
"Go around to the other side!" Liam shouted over the sound of the fire, and the man nodded and jogged off, still coughing. Behind him in the village, he could hear people coming out of their homes, and people began to run forward to help. Windows were pulled open, people climbed out, and Liam dared to hope that everyone would make it out safely, but shouts and cries made him turn his attention to another part of the compound that made his blood run cold.
He ran for the nursery windows as children were handed out through the windows by Holly and her assistant. Smoke was billowing out above their heads, and Liam did a quick count as he ran up. There were nine children in the nursery, four were outside on the grass, and a fifth was being handed out the window by Holly. That left four still inside. He could hear cries from the terrified children as a sixth was handed out by the nursery assistant. She then turned to grab another child and stopped.
"Christopher!" she called. "Lorin! Nikolas! Where are you?"
Holly also turned and began calling for the missing boys, but the smoke coming through the windows thickened, and they both began to cough.
"Get them out of there!" Liam ordered.
"But the children!"
"Get them out!" He ran up to the window as a few of his men pulled the two women out, and he climbed in himself. A wave of his hand cleared just enough of the smoke away that he could take a breath. He then dropped to his hands and knees and began to crawl around towards where he knew the children's sleeping area was. Where would a frightened child hide from a fire after all but under the bed. He opened his mouth to call for them, but thick smoke poured into his lungs when he inhaled, and he collapsed to the floor for a moment, coughing deeply. The smoke was nearly to the floor, and he could hear the fire closing in. He dragged himself across the room where he found the cluster of small beds. He found nothing under the first bed, but under the second, he found a small, warm body. Standing up was risky, but walking across the floor would be faster than crawling while carrying a child. He turned back around and ran across the floor while holding his breath. He reached the window quickly and thrust the child out. A pair of hands took the boy, and he turned back and moved quickly the direction he had come from.
He found the second child quickly, and he stumbled back towards the window. His head swam as he handed the boy out the window, and he stumbled and fell to his knees. He began to crawl across the floor, coughing in the heavy smoke that now completely filled the room. His lungs burned with every breath, and his rational mind screamed for him to get out and save himself. No, he told himself firmly. No one is being left behind. The room was growing hot, and he felt the floor pitching and rocking under him.
He found the third child by reaching out to drag himself forward, and his hand met the soft cloth of a sleeping gown instead of the worn surface of the floor. He dragged the small body towards him and turned around to go back to the window, but... where was the window? He couldn't see. He couldn't hear anything over the crackling of the fire as it closed in. The room titled, and he felt so, so tired all of a sudden...He coughed and began to drag himself and the boy away from the bed anyway. Anything was better than just lying there, right? Oh God, he couldn't breathe... His lungs were on fire. He coughed, but that only made things worse. He needed air!
His arms wobbled, and he collapsed to the floor. No, he needed to get them both out, but his limbs would not obey him. Get up! Get out! He coughed again, and his eyes began to close on their own accord. No.. he needed to get out... were going to die... he was so tired... His eyes closed as the sounds of the fire began to fade.
A muffled voice fell upon his ears then, but he couldn't understand any words. He felt something then, something cool around him, and then nothing.
Gabriel jumped easily out of the window, with Master Liam cradled in his arms, and a soot covered child lying across the old man's chest. Behind him the compound that he had grown up in continued to burn, and the fire had begun to spread to the nearby village. People were gathering up what belongings they could and fleeing as others tried to fight the spreading blaze. Behind him he could hear no more heartbeats from the compound, so everyone had either made it out, or those still inside were dead.
He carried his old teacher quite some distance from the burning buildings and laid him down on the grass. The boy in his arms sadly was beyond saving, but amazingly the old man's heart was still beating, though it was rapidly slowing.
"Master Liam!" Gabriel was vaguely aware of other people gathering around him, and someone took the dead child away. "Master Liam!" His teacher stirred, coughed weakly a few times, and Gabriel leaned down close and cupped the man's face in his hand as those gray eyes opened. The man's soot blackened face melted into a faint smile, and his lips moved. No sound emerged, but it was clear what he was trying to say.
"I'm here, Master Liam, I'm here." The man's heartbeat faltered, and Gabriel went to bite into his wrist, but Master Liam's lips formed another word.
"But you're going to die."
The old man smiled again, and one withered hand reached up to touch Gabriel's cold cheek. Once more, his lips moved, but no sound came out. "Love you, son."
Gabriel's vision blurred,and he squeezed his eyes shut and wiped at them with his sleeve. He then looked down at the dying man. "I love you too. I'm sorry I made you worry about me."
Gabriel managed a watery smile, and he reached up the clasp the shaking hand that was touching his face, just as the man's heartbeat faltered, shuddered, and came to a stop. The hand he held in his own stilled, and the life pulsing through it stopped, the muscles slacked, and Liam's lolled to the side, gray eyes staring vacantly at nothing.
"No," Gabriel whispered, "No." He released the hand he was holding, grabbed the man by the collar of his smoke stained nightshirt and gave him a small shake. "Master Liam? No. Come back. Master Liam? No."
Someone stepped up to him, and he faintly registered the sound of a slower heartbeat. "Gabriel." came a soft voice to his left, and he tore his gaze away from Master Liam's face, which was wearing a contented smile even in death, and slowly looked up and to the side.
Father knelt down next to him, and Gabriel vaguely noted that his father had red eyes and nearly white skin like he himself did. "Gabriel."
"Father." He leaned into the embrace as the man's arms came around him, and his shoulders shook as his vision blurred again. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean -"
"Shhhh," Father said quietly, "I'm not angry."
"But I turned you."
"Which allows me to be with you now, so I don't mind."
"Shhh, Gabriel. You're here, and you're safe; that's all that matters to me right now."
"But Trevor..." Gabriel stiffened in his father's arms and then abruptly sat up. "Trevor!" He jumped up and scanned the crowd of people that were watching the compound and surrounding village burn. "Trevor!" There was no answering "Papa!", and he strained his ears to listen, but his son's heartbeat did not come to him. "Trevor!"
"Trevor lived in Master Liam's quarters, milord." came a woman's voice from the right, and Gabriel turned to face her. Her sleeping clothes, skin, and hair were smeared with soot. "He refused to move the boy to the nursery." Gabriel stared at her for a second, and then he looked back at the compound. It was ablaze from end to end, and before he could think, he took off running towards the very back, where Master Liam had lived. "Trevor!" He didn't know what he was planning to do – there were no heartbeats inside the burning structure – all he knew was that his boy had to be in there.
"Gabriel, no!" Arms wound around him from behind, halting him. "Gabriel, there is no one alive in there!"
Gabriel struggled against his father's grip. "I don't care! He's in there!"
"It's too late, Gabriel!"
"Let me go! My baby's in there!"
"There's nothing you can do!"
"Trevor!" Gabriel cursed the vampiric strength his father now possessed as he fought to break free of it. "Trevor!"
"Trevor's not in there, Gabriel." stated a voice that Gabriel hadn't heard in a while, and he turned to see Rolfe standing there, looking at him.
"How do you know that?"
"Because just before the fire erupted, I saw Master Cecil and several others leave the area, and they had him with them. I don't know where they are taking him, and I was too concerned about the fire afterward to follow them, but Trevor's not in there." The man smiled at them. "I think Trevor's pet bat made it out too. I saw her flying away when Master Liam got my window open."
Delilah. Delilah was alive. Gabriel stood up as his father released him. "Delilah!"
There was no response at first, but then a tiny heartbeat fell on Gabriel's ears, and a few seconds later, he heard a familiar squeaking, followed by a small brown shape impacting against his arm. Delilah hung from his sleeve, squeaking excitedly, and despite everything else, Gabriel laughed as he petted her between her ears. She purred in delight, and then she clambered up onto his shoulder and cuffed his ear with one of her wings and squeaked at him in such a way that gave Gabriel the distinct feeling that he was being lectured.
"I know, girl. I acted like a fool. Can you forgive me?"
She let out an angry squawk and cuffed his ear again, and then she snuggled into his hair against his neck.
"So am I forgiven?"
Gabriel smiled faintly and petted her small head, and he didn't resist as Father tugged him away from the burning buildings. There was no point in trying to not be seen, as plenty of people had seen them already, but Gabriel ignored everyone as people rushed to and fro, tending to the injured, trying to fight the fire, and emptying houses closest to the blaze. Cecil had taken Trevor. Cecil had run off and left the compound to burn, with people inside. Where had he gone? Where was he taking Trevor?
Excited voices made him break from his thoughts and look up, and he realized they were back over by Master Liam. Someone had draped a cloth over the man's body, and Gabriel averted his gaze from it as his heart constricted. He looked towards the source of the excitement to see people clustered around the child that Master Liam had died trying to save, and to his shock, he could hear a heartbeat coming from the small body, a weak, struggling heartbeat, but a heartbeat nonetheless. He shook off Father's arm and pushed his way through the crowd. Someone was bathing the boy's face with a damp cloth, and he could see the small chest rising, taking shallow breaths.
Gabriel knelt down on the trampled ground next to the struggling boy. He had long ago discarded his light magic medallion, but he found that he didn't need it as he called up the soft blue magic that had healed so many wounds over the years. He pressed his hand to the boy's chest and directed the magic down. It flowed easily from him to the child, clearing the small lungs and helping the struggling heart. The boy coughed hard a few times, but his breathing became easier, and his heartbeat accelerated and steadied.
No sacrifice is in vain, Gabriel.
Gabriel released the magic, and it faded away. He then stood up and backed away into the crowd. He turned to see Father watching him with a smile. He took Gabriel's arm and began to lead him away from the crowd that was rushing to see the boy.
"We have to find out where Cecil took Trevor." Gabriel said quietly as they moved away from the noise and light.
Father nodded in agreement. "I don't know if Cecil had anything to do with the start of the fire, but it certainly worked out for him. It prevented anyone from following him or seeing where he went."
Gabriel nodded and tried to ignore how strange it felt that Father's hand was no warmer than him. "He and Volpe were living close to Bernhard Castle all this time, and no one knew. It's a possibility that he might have gone back there if he doesn't know that I escaped the castle, but I doubt it."
Father raised his eyebrows in a silent question. "Sometime you'll have to tell me what happened while you were away, son."
"I will, as soon as we find Trevor and go home." He cast an aside glance up at the sky, but there was no forthcoming answer from that direction.
He shook his head. "It's nothing. I just wish we had some way of knowing which way they went."
Delilah squeaked then, and Gabriel looked down at her just as she launched herself from his shoulder and fluttered away towards the south. She then flew back to them and flew in circles around his head for a few seconds before she fluttered south again. She turned and flapped around, looking at them, as if she was wondering why they were still standing there.
Gabriel felt his heart lift as hope flooded him. "South? Is that the way they went, Delilah?" She squeaked in the affirmative, and he smiled widely and began striding towards her.
"Are you sure about this, Gabriel?" Father asked, and Gabriel turned to look at him.
"She must have seen them as they were leaving."
Father hurried to catch up with them. "How are we going to find them." He gestured ahead of them. "South covers a massive area; you'd have to be flying above them somehow to have a chance of spotting them."
Gabriel felt his mouth curl up into a smirk. "That won't be a problem."
Father blinked at him in confusion. "What?"
"Do yo trust me, Father?"
"Of course, I do."
"Good." Gabriel turned back to Delilah and held his arm out. "Come here, girl." She fluttered down to land on his arm, and he turned and held his arm out to his father. Delilah understood at once, and she climbed up onto his arm and clung to his sleeve, which didn't help Father's confusion any.
"What are you planning, Gabriel?"
"Trust me, Father. I need you to trust me."
"I do trust you, son; I just don't know what you're planning."
"Just trust me. I know how we can follow them."
Gabriel reached down into himself, and his true form responded eagerly to his call. He yelled as it surged up within him, and his yell transformed into a roar as he flew up into the air, his body shifting and changing.
"God Almighty!" Father exclaimed, and Delilah squeaked in excitement as Gabriel landed in front of them, smoke and embers billowing off of him, steam wisping from his mouth. He held a leg up, and Father looked at him for a second before he used the offered leg to climb up and onto his back. He felt Father's slight weight settled at the base of his neck, and Gabriel roared again, attracting the attention of those still at the ruined village, as he leapt up into the air with one mighty beat of his wings. Gasps of shock and surprise came from the watching crowd as Gabriel wheeled and turned south.
Hold on, Trevor. Papa's coming.Everything: 6 -- Everything: 8
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