Rating: R for language, and mentions of RAPE and M/M SLASH. Don't like, then don't read.
Disclaimer: Castlevania and its characters and situations are the sole property of Konami. I am making no money or profit off of this fanfiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: AU. What if Joachim Armster had lived through his fight with Leon Belmont? What might have been different? Well hang on, because Joachim is going to tell you all about it. From his kidnapping and forced turning to his rescue from the ruins of Walter's castle, and from Trevor's birth and to Richter's death of old age, he tells all - and blames it all on Leon while he's at it.
Section Summary: Part 8 covers from Christopher's death to well... that would be a spoiler, now wouldn't i?
A/N: So yeaaaaah, after my last post, my imagination completely shut down for over a month, and trust me, I nearly went insane because of it. When it started to stir back to life, it wanted to write on original stuff, and then when it turned back to fanfic, it had a Dogsbody idea to work on. (Still in progress, hopefully finished soon.) It didn't turn back towards Castlevania until a few days ago.
Christopher and Simona were laid side by side in Hunter's Rest, and Desmond found the Lord's house quiet and lonely without his grandparents around. Delores was still living there, but Zoe and Mathew were living in their own home. Delores teased her brother that he needed to find himself a girl and make babies with her to fill the house, which made him blush hotly. He then countered that if she wanted, he could find her a husband instead, and since he was her brother and lord, she'd have to marry whomever he picked. Delores backed away quickly after that, and Desmond had a good laugh when he shared the story with me later.
The pair of them still went hunting together on a regular basis, and with Simona's passing, Delores fell into the role of the lady of the manor, assuming the duties her grandmother once held. Zoe lamented that she couldn't go hunting with them because of her pregnancy, but she often kicked her husband out the door and sent him monster mashing whenever he hovered too much. To their surprise, that spring, she delivered twins, a girl that was named Heather, and a son that they named Ansel. Mathew did not bother to inform his parents about the birth of their grandchildren, but the Belmonts more than made up for it.
Desmond quickly fell into the role of favorite uncle. He spoiled his niece and nephew with gifts and lavished attention upon him, so much so that Zoe confided that she hoped he'd have his own children soon before he drove her out of her mind. Her eyes were laughing as she said that though, so I did not take her seriously.
Finally though, a year after Heather and Ansel's birth, Desmond came home with the scent of a strange woman clinging to him. I smiled faintly and said nothing; he would tell us when he was ready. Which he did, a few months later when he announced that he was officially courting the only daughter of a neighboring lord. I wanted to meet the young lady that had captured Desmond's attention, but I didn't dare reveal myself just yet. It would have to wait until we were certain she wouldn't bring a mob down on us for harboring a vampire.
Propriety had to be observed, so it wasn't until they were married in the chapel in 1621 that I actually laid eyes on the soon to be Lady Belmont. She was nearly as tall as Desmond, a delicate, fragile looking creature that seemed to have no excess weight on her body under her clothing. I couldn't smell any sickness from her though, so I supposed that's just how she was. Her eyes were nearly as dark as her hair, and her skin was pale from rarely venturing outside. I wondered for a moment if she had the slightest idea that she was marrying into a clan of vampire hunters, and then I realized it was unlikely that she would leave the safety of the wards without Desmond anyway, so it probably didn't matter. Desmond's happiness was the most important thing. Still to be safe, Hector and I sat at the very back, to try and avoid attracting attention to ourselves.
I was properly introduced to the new Lady Daciana Belmont a few days later, and Desmond was quick to assure her that I was one of the vampires he had mentioned and that I was no threat to anyone. She didn't run screaming, and she gave me a tentative smile, so I took that as a good sign. Still, part of me was uncomfortably reminded of Sophia, Leon's daughter-in-law, who had hated me.
If she was wary of me though, she never said anything, and I never smelled any fear from her when I was nearby, so I continued my regular visits as I always had, and eventually, she seemed to get used to my presence. She was quiet and shy, the polar opposite of Irina, and while she did go visiting the other Belmonts, especially Zoe and Mathew, she wasn't the social butterfly Desmond's mother had been. Still the others approved of her, and there was none of the hostility that I had felt centuries ago from Sophia.
Three years later, their first child was born, a daughter that they named Lia. She had her mother's dark hair and her father's blue-green eyes, and Desmond was quickly wrapped her around her tiny finger. A further three years on, their second child was born, a son that they named Anghel. Three years after Anghel's birth, they had a second son that was named Nikolas.
Lia was a mix of her parents, with Daciana's dark hair and eyes, but with Desmond's complexion and heavier build. Anghel could almost pass for a younger version of his mother, and the small boy was rarely seen out and about at first. Desmond insisted though that he have hunter's training just as everyone else did. Nikolas also resembled his mother greatly, and the three of them brought much delight to their parents.
As the years rolled past, it became clear that Anghel would never be able to keep up with his father or younger brother. He was too just small and light. Desmond finally asked him when the child was about twelve if he wanted to drop out of hunter's training, since it was such a struggle for him, but Anghel grew angry at the mere suggestion and insisted on continuing.
"I don't know why I continue to let the boy torture himself." Desmond commented on day as we watched Anghel struggle through the obstacle course. "Even his sister has an easier time with this than he does."
"Have you found any reason why he's having such a hard time?" I asked as Anghel dragged himself up the rope ladder.
Desmond shook his head slightly. "No, he's just too small and light. I assume it's something he inherited from his mother."
"Why don't you stop him?"
"You try and stop Hector from doing something he's bound and determined to do. How well do you think that would work out?"
I thought for a second, and then I chuckled. "Touché."
"I imagine that he'll figure it out eventually and give up. Until then..." Desmond trailed off, and we stood back and watched in silence.
But Anghel didn't give up. The child kept trying, even as his small body refused to cooperate. Even as it became clear to everyone else that he would never be as strong as the others. Even as his cousins mocked and harassed him for being so weak. Desmond laid down the law to the other Belmonts about their children's cruelty, but that only forced the children to say their taunts a little quieter. I knew about them of course, but Anghel pleaded with me to not tell his father. Telling Desmond would only make things worse, he insisted. I disagreed, but I couldn't resist those dark eyes. Anghel then wandered off, while I wondered if I was making a massive mistake.
A common source of speculation within the Belmont clan since Trevor's time had been who the whip was going to choose next. With Anghel being so frail, everyone's money was resting on his younger brother, Nikolai. Nikolai felt uneasy at all the attention, since the whip, with the exception of Trevor, had always gone from father to oldest son, and he felt that if he inherited, he would be taking away from his brother. Anghel kept his feelings to himself on the matter, not that it made much difference. By the time the boys had reached their teens, Sara had still not chosen a successor. Desmond asked of course, and was only informed that there was no one worthy yet. Anghel was too weak, Nikolai was too reluctant, and Lia wasn't interested. The other children weren't good candidates for various reasons either. There was nothing to do but wait.
In 1648 Nikolai married, and talk started swirling about that his firstborn son would surely be chosen as heir. Lia was married as well by then, but she was living off the Belmont lands with her husband, so her children weren't considered possible heirs. Anghel was still unmarried, though part of that was due to his frailty. Few were willing to let their daughters marry a Belmont. Fewer still would allow them to marry a Belmont that was incapable of defending her. Anghel still hadn't given up at the training, though at 21 years of age, it was clear that he was as strong as he could possibly get. He excelled as throwing weapons, small daggers and the like, and he had some magic at his disposal. In a full on battle though, it wouldn't be enough. For that reason, he rarely ventured outside the wards, for his own safety.
In time, in 1650, Nikolai's wife bore him a son that was named Sasha, who quickly grew into everything his uncle wasn't, yet once he was old enough, Sara did not respond to him. The clan was disappointed, and there was talk about going back to the old way of just appointing heirs, but Desmond quashed that. Sara would choose someone in time.
In 1665, Anghel, now 38 years old, decided to give it one last try. He departed for the mountains, hoping that once and for all, he could decide whether the life of a vampire hunter was something he could ever do. With his advancing age, more than a few thought him delusional, and even I thought he was out of his mind to be attempting such a thing. It was something that I felt he should have given up long enough, but Anghel was bound and determined to try one last time, so off he went.
I wondered if we would ever seen him alive again.
A year passed.
There were a few letters off and on, but they were rumpled and sometimes barely legible by the time they were placed in Desmond's hands, and we wondered how far he had gone. Desmond and Daciana despaired of ever seeing their son again, and Nikolai offered to go try and track down his brother, but Desmond refused to allow it. If Anghel was dead, there was little we could do; if he was alive, he would be upset and feeling betrayed is Desmond sent out the search parties.
"I can't tell you how much I want to go looking myself though." he said quietly late one night as we relaxed in my library. Hector was curled up on the couch with me, his head on my lap, dozing, and Desmond was looking at him, likely thinking of his own child. "Anghel knew that none of us really believed that he would be capable of anything. If I were to send out someone to look for him, he would never forgive me for it."
After Desmond returned to his home in search of his bed, Hector wiggled his way up into my arms and gave me a sleepy smile. It was the middle of winter, and he was tired and lethargic as always during the colder weather, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I was strangely glad then that he had to stay home close to me; it meant I never had to worry about him wandering off to other parts of the world and never coming home. He smiled at me again, snuggled close, and started to go to sleep. I stood up and carried him off to bed to sleep the night away under the warm blankets, and I was considering joining him when the feel of someone crossing my northeastern border stopped me cold. The presence retreated as I stood up, but I didn't dare leave it at that. I hastily pulled the heavy quilt over Hector, who was now wide awake and looking at me in alarm, and then I ran from the house. I morphed into wolf form and streaked across my territory towards the intrusion, and part of me kept thinking of how much this reminded me of the day I had claimed Hector for my own. Was another desperate child trying to escape from a cruel master? Or was this a trick? Was it something else entirely?
As I neared the spot, two voices fell upon my ears, and they seemed to be having an animated discussion about something. I slowed my speed to a trot and pricked my ears to listen.
"I'm sure he won't mind, Alda."
"I can't go in there! Not without his permission."
Someone who was familiar with the vampire laws then, and ah, yes, there was the scent of vampire blood, though it was weaker, like Adrian's had been. A half breed perhaps? A few seconds later, another scent touched my nose, the scent of Belmont blood, and I paused for a second to listen to the voices.
"Uncle Joachim won't be angry." Yes, that was Anghel, and I sagged with relief for a moment before I released my hold on the wolf form and returned to normal.
"Do you have any idea what he could legally do to me if I intruded on his territory?" demanded the second voice, a woman's, and I smiled for a moment. Had Anghel finally found someone during his year long absence. And why did her blood smell familiar?
I shook my head and revealed my presence to them then as I stepped out of the trees into a clearing by the path by the border. Anghel was standing there, and he turned to look at me with a wide smile. "Your friend is quite right, Anghel." I said as I glanced over at her just in time to see her pale and step back. "Coming onto my territory without my permission is a serious breach of etiquette."
I turned to take a good look at her and reached out with my senses. She was nowhere near my power level, but she was a great deal older, but then I finally got a good look at her face, and my heart accelerated. I stopped breathing, and I began to shake as centuries old terrors rose up.
I shook myself before the panic could take hold, and I reached out to Kerwin and Silvanus. I asked Silvanus if he would mind going and looking in on Hector, and then I told Kerwin that we were heading to his territory.
Why? he asked. Who is "we"?
I think I have one of those half breed cousins you mentioned centuries ago here.
Oh really? I'll be waiting then.
"Go home, Anghel." I said without taking my eyes off of the female version of Walter that was standing there in front of me. "Your friend and I have some business to attend to."
"It is fine, Anghel." the half breed – Alda, was it? - said as she stepped towards me. "I'm sure Lord Armster has things he would like to speak to me about."
Anghel was still hesitating, and I looked at him the same way I looked at Hector whenever the child was refusing to do as he'd been told (Something that was fairly rare, in all honesty.) and the boy ducked his head and sighed.
"I will see you later?" The question was directed at Alda, but I was the one who answered.
"You will, now get."
With one last look that was filled with yearning, Anghel turned for home and scurried off. I wondered for a brief moment how Desmond and Daciana would react to his return, before I turned back to the matter at hand.
I turned to look at Alda - "Follow me." - before I morphed into a bat and flew off towards Kerwin's home. I couldn't see her, but I could sense her behind me, and my mind whirled with thoughts during the flight.
Kerwin granted her permission to cross over into his territory, and it short order we found ourselves at his front door, where he met us. He glanced at her for a second, and I could see the wheels spinning in his head, and then he turned and strode off down the hall. I followed him, and Alda nervously followed me.
We went straight to the study, and Kerwin led us to his desk and not the chairs by the fireplace where he and I normally sat when I came by. He pointed to a chair opposite the desk from him, and Alda sat without a word while he stood behind his desk and loomed over her. I sat down nearby and watched as she lowered her head rather than meet his gaze head on. As intimidating as he was being, the bond let me know that he was just as shocked by her appearance as I had been.
"Who are you?" he asked without preamble, and his tone demanded obedience. I nearly shivered at the sound of it.
"Alda Bernhard, my lord." she whispered as she looked down at her hands.
"Why have you come here?"
"I was invited."
Kerwin gave me a look, and I nodded. "By who?"
"And why would he do that?"
"Because..." She hesitated, took a deep breath, and looked up at him. "Because he asked me to marry him."
To his credit, Kerwin showed no sign of his surprise other than a raising on an eyebrow. "Really? Ad how did you two happen to meet? And what has become of your father?"
Alda sighed again and lowered her gaze." After you killed Gannet," She swallowed, "everything began to fall apart. You had refused the headship that was legally yours, and other became to fight over the position. My father saw the writing on the wall and sent myself and my siblings away in the hopes that we could hide among the humans, but he stayed behind to try and help fix things. Instead he died when he infighting brought us to the attention of vampire hunters. Other than myself and one of my brothers, there are only a few left, and those scattered to the winds once the castle was looted and burned by mobs." She sighed a third time. "I was living in a remote mountain village, passing myself off as human, when Anghel arrived there. He knew what I was, but he never made any attempt to threaten me -"
Probably because he knew she could slaughter him, I thought but didn't say.
"And things just developed naturally from there." Kerwin said knowingly as he sank down into his chair. Alda nodded, and Kerwin continued. "I'd felt them slowly thinning out for years, but I had no idea why, and I wasn't about to investigate myself, not after whet they tried to do to me and my son."
She raised her gaze to meet his eyes. "I remember that. Gannet could be cruel when it suited him. I also remember the day when Emery died. It was clear to everyone that it had all been a horrible accident, yet he still condemned Wathari to death over it. And he had Leila executed for watching to save her son's life."
I wondered who Wathari was. Had Walter had a sibling that no one had told me about?
Kerwin nodded and raked his hand back through his hair. "The last Bernhard to come to this area was operating on Gannet's orders to kill myself and any family I claimed. I don't think I need to tell you what would happen if you were to try the same?"
"No, Lord Bernhard, I understand."
"What will you do now?"
"I don't know. Anghel had intended for me to meet his family, but he did not mention that his family's land was on a vampire's territory."
Kerwin looked over at me, and I shrugged. She seemed harmless, and if she stared trouble... well, I was far, far more powerful than her.
"If Lord Belmont is agreeable," I said, " and if you never cause any trouble for the Belmonts, myself, or my son, then you may stay on my territory. If you cause anything..." I trailed off, leaving the threat unsaid.
"I will cause any trouble, Lord Armster." She looked at me and gave me a tentative smile from behind her red locks. "Do I have your permission to hunt on your territory?"
I nodded. "You do, but do not do anything to cause suspicion. The common folk have no idea two, now three, vampires live on this land. I'd like to keep it that way."
"I understand, my lord."
"Then you may return to your intended."
Alda looked at Kerwin, who nodded, and she vanished from the room in the blink of an eye. We tracked her as she left the house, heading towards the Belmont lands, and I called out to Silvanus to let him know she was coming. He acknowledged, and I received a brief image of him in the rocking chair, with a sleeping Hector cradled in his arms, and I smiled faintly.
"Well that was unexpected." Kerwin said with a nervous chuckle, and I shook my head and looked at him.
"Who is Wathari?"
He gave me a wry smile. "Wathari is my father's real name."
"What? Real name?"
"Walter is a more modern version of it, and he started using it sometime before I was born, but Wathari is the name his parents gave him."
"Her face shocked me pretty hard." I said as I leaned back in my chair.
"It was the same for me. I had not expected to see that face ever again. I never really looked at any of the others aside from Gannet that night, so it surprises me how much she looks like Father."
"It's eerie, really. It certainly brought me up short."
"I felt your little moment of panic there. You scared the hell out of me, Joachim."
"I'd thought I'd seen a ghost. You'd be a little panicked in that situation too." I felt her cross over to my territory, which prompted me to stand up from my chair. "I'd better go. I imagine that Hector won't react well to her presence."
Kerwin stood as well. "No, probably not." He paused for a second. "If you need me for anything, Joachim, just ask alright?"
"Now about her though. I think she's thoroughly cowed by the two of us. What I'm worried about is you."
I startled on my way to the door and turned back to face him. "Me? Why?"
"A person that greatly resembles someone that tortured you for 300 years just moved onto your territory and will be living close by, that's why."
I waved off his concern. "I'll be fine, Kerwin."
"You keep telling yourself that..."
I gave him a flat look, but he merely gazed back at me, completely serious. I only shook my head and left the room.
I made it back home in short order, where I found Hector asleep in bed, buried under the blankets, with Silvanus seated in the rocker, watching him. He greeted me with a smile and a hug, but he did not ask about the vampiric presence that we could sense inside the lord's house. He returned to his own territory and home, while I dressed myself for bed and crawled under the blankets to lie next to Hector. He curled close and tucked his head under my chin, and I sighed and closed my eyes. I could deal with everything later.