Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
By Sam Alander
Disclaimer: I don't own Alucard or Maria or... The other things that I obviously don't own, but I DO own Wolf and the rest of the Children of the Forest. They are mine. MINE! Thank you and have a nice day.
Chapter One: Searches and Lockets
Maria had been in the demon castle for a few days now, poking around, fighting the occasional monster, though Dracula's minions didn't seem to bother her as much as they did that other man she'd met-- what was his name?-- Alucard. In fact the monsters were so preoccupied with the fact that Alucard was in the castle that they scarcely noticed she was there at all. A little confusing, but it helped her greatly in her search for Richter.
She wasn't positive yet that Richter was even in the castle, as she hadn't yet seen him, but why else would Castlevania appear out of nowhere ninety-five years early? He had to be here-- where else would he be?
With a sigh, Maria pushed open another creaky, dusty door. Inside was the usual pile of gore and bones that she had actually gotten used to in the past few days. She was about to leave when something sparkling in the corner caught her eye.
"What is this?" She murmured softly as she made her way to it and picked it up. It was a silver locket, round, with the image of a howling wolf engraved in the lid. Curious, she flipped it open with her thumbnail. It was empty.
"Hmph," Maria shrugged, tossing the locket back where she had found it. It landed on the stone floor with a *clink*. "I wonder who would leave a little locket like that in the middle of Dracula's castle? Maybe a concubine, or something. I'd better leave it be, anyway." Flipping her hair carelessly over her shoulder, Maria turned and left, not noticing that the sliver locket had begun to vibrate softly...
As Maria closed the door and continued down the hall, the locket in the darkened room glowed suddenly, then flipped open of its own accord. There was a flash of light, then silence. Someone stood up in the darkness. "Looks like I've been asleep for a while... I guess I should go and thank whoever was dumb enough to let me out."
A few hours after she had found the little locket in the abandoned room, Maria found another room that she deemed safe enough to sleep in. Inside the castle, the night pulled at her and drained her energy. She wasn't sure whether it was the stress of losing Richter, or the magic of the castle itself. Probably both.
She felt a little nervous this night. Though it seemed she was alone, Maria could not shake the uneasy feeling that someone was following her. Watching her. She wondered if it was Alucard. Dismissing this rather interesting thought, Maria curled up in a corner of the ancient room and tried to relax enough to fall asleep. Silence descended like a thick blanket, and she dozed.
Some time passed in comfortable silence before Maria was aware of someone singing or talking quietly outside the door. The voice, low and definitely male, was muffled by the heavy wooden door, but seemed to be getting closer. "Little girls... Hiding in closets... What is a little girl doing.....? Hm.... In over her head..."
Maria sat up, eyes wide, and pressed her back to the wall as something rattled the doorknob slightly. She fumbled in the dark for her dagger as the latch clicked and the door opened a crack, spilling candlelight into the little room. A figure was silouhetted in the space that showed. Maria blinked, unable to make out any details. "A... Alucard?"
The figure responded in a soft, deep voice that was faintly musical. "Alucard...? No, little girl, I'm not him, can't you... Oh, you can't see me when I'm standing like this. A moment, then, and I'll get a light."
Maria pressed herself harder against the wall, her heart pounding. The figure in the doorway twisted around a bit, then a light flared. The terrible darkened figure turned into a young man holding a candle. He was shorter than Alucard, in fact not much taller than herself, but thin and well-built. In the candlelight his eyes were wide and a friendly shade of brown, like a doe's hide. His hair was short and mussed, sticking up in some places, also brown with hints of blonde. As she stared at him, the man reached up and ran a hand through his hair, smiling, and it settled into a slightly neater position. He was darker than Alucard as well-- much darker. Tanned, even. Did that mean he wasn't a vampire?
"Who are you?" Maria managed, her voice shaking as badly as the rest of her. "What are you?"
The man ventured further into the room, illuminating it slightly with the light of his candle. His smile faded. "Little girl, you look and act as if you're petrified of me! No need for that, really, I've been told I'm very friendly and I like to believe it. My name is Wolf. I'm a Child of the Forest. And friendly. I'm not going to hurt you."
"A-- a what?" Maria stammered, willing herself to stand up in case he attacked. "N-not a vampire?"
"No." Wolf leaned forward a little bit. "I can see why you wouldn't trust me. And it is a good reason. But don't you think wandering alone in the castle of a centuries-old vampire is a bit dangerous for a little girl like you?"
Maria pushed herself off the ground and stood up, leaning against the wall. "I-I'm not a little girl."
"Maybe not." Wolf looked at her for a moment. "But I wouldn't say you're an old woman, either. Come a little closer, I won't bite you. Tell me why you're here, and maybe I can help you. Do you have a name?"
"Maria," She replied without thinking, then cursed under her breath. Smooth move. Suddenly what he'd said registered in her mind. "Help me...?"
Wolf nodded, smiling. "Yes. Come on, let's go somewhere where there's a bit more light, shall we? Then you can tell me why you're here." He went to the door, and looked back when Maria had not moved. "Coming?"
Maria swallowed hard, her mind racing. She hadn't yet met a friendly monster, and hadn't thought they were capable of such things. And the promise of help finding Richter was too good to pass up. And... Protection... She longed to feel safe again, and he...
"Yes, I'm coming. Where are we going?"
CHAPTER TWO: Wolves and Chandeliers
"I know a place in the library that is nice to sit in," Wolf said as he led Maria through the halls of Castlevania. The monsters avoided them. "There is some good reading there, too, and plenty of light. I go there often."
Maria hurried along behind Wolf, looking around worriedly. "The library? I-- I've been there. I didn't like it much, it was too easy to lose my way, and there were too many dangerous things wandering around--"
"Fear you not, Maria," Wolf said gently, looking over his shoulder at her and smiling. "The monsters know better than to bother me. You're safe by my side." He slowed, reached back, and took her hand in his. "Come on, almost there. Don't be afraid."
Maria was silent for a moment, shocked. Wolf's hand was warm and soft, not at all like she'd expected it to feel. She gave herself a mental shake. "Why don't the monsters attack you? Are you-- are you one of them?"
Wolf chuckled. "Not really. I wandered in here a few hundred years ago, and the castle sank into the ground and swallowed me up with it. Since then, Castlevania has never materialized long enough to let me make my way outside, so I'm sort of stuck." He turned to wink at Maria as he opened a glowing door. "I'm no weakling, though, and the monsters aren't as stupid as they look. They've seen me fight."
"Are you really that strong?" Maria asked, in awe.
"Well," Wolf shrugged, smiling. "I really don't like to brag. Look, we're here. We can sit at that table there, and no one can bother us." He pulled out a chair for her, then sat down himself. "Now, tell me why you're wandering alone in this castle, Maria? It's not a very safe place."
Maria took a moment to glance around at the little room. There were bookcases on every wall, crammed with ancient books and scrolls, most falling apart from age. They sat at a sturdy mahogany table, with matching cushioned chairs. "Wolf really knows how to choose rooms," Maria thought nervously. "I wonder why I never found anything like this?"
"Maria?" Wolf's voice interrupted her thoughts. "You were going to tell me why you're here?"
Maria nodded. "Yes, yes I was. You see..."
Wolf listened to Maria's story without interruption, his eyes intense. When she was done, he nodded gravely. "It does sound like a serious situation," He said softly. "Well... If this Richter is anywhere in the castle, I'll help you find him. You can count on me."
Maria beamed. "Oh, will you?" She exclaimed. "Thank you so much! I really need the help. The castle is different than I remember it."
Wolf looked around him. "It changes every so often. I'm not sure why. It is rather a nuisance, though, because I can never find where I left my things afterwards."
Maria giggled, and Wolf smiled back at her. She was beginning to get used to, and even like this kind stranger. Always smiling warmly, always the gentleman, and he even had a sense of humor. Alucard would never... But she wasn't likely to see him again, anyway. And who needed him? She had Wolf to protect her, now.
Alucard trudged through the castle, grumbling. After Death had taken his precious family heirlooms and scattered them to who knew where, he had had to resort to using more primitive and lower-quality weapons. He'd hoped he would never have to do this again.
In the clocktower, he'd met a young lady with blonde hair named Maria. He hadn't much cared at the time, but as boredom set in now, images of her mini-skirted legs and silky hair filled his mind and refused to leave. Cursed emotions. Cursed love. Typical of a human girl to enter a demonic castle in a skirt, though. And she had been playing with him, to boot! Shouldn't she be afraid for her life? With a heavy sigh, Alucard decided he'd better find her and get her out of the castle safely before she got into trouble and wound up as a pile of meat-- or worse. Cursed conscience.
"Maria? You look a bit tired. Why don't I find you somewhere to sleep?" Wolf held out a hand to lead her once more.
Maria nodded. "I am... Feeling a bit drained. I think some rest would do me good."
"Right then, through here, there's a bed. Go ahead and get some sleep, and I'll watch over you, all right?" Wolf gave her a gentle shove into the room. "There you go. Sweet dreams!"
Maria went to the bed and collapsed in it without a second thought, and drifted off to sleep. Wolf watched from the doorway, grinning. "What a gullible girl," He thought, leaning against the wall. "I've been so bored for so long that I could use a little entertainment. I think I'll have some more fun with her before I make a meal out of her." He touched the silver locket hanging from his neck, concealed before by a flap of cloth. "What a stroke of luck she arrived!"
Wolf turned again and went back into the room where Maria slept. He smiled and knelt beside her bed, taking advantage of her slumber to get a better look at her. "Low-cut blouse, ribbons, short skirt... Looks like she's trying to get someone's attention," He thought, resisting the urge to touch her. Later. The bond wasn't strong enough yet. He continued his inspection silently. "Seventeen or eighteen winters, I'd guess. Pretty young to be adventuring. At her age, she should be at home with plenty of children." Ooh, but not now, not now that she'd met him. "I think you'll like it with me, little girl," Wolf whispered in her ear. "You won't find another like me..."
Alucard sniffed the air. His senses would never be as keen as a full vampire's, but following Maria's scent was about the only way Alucard would be able to find her. The faint scent floated in the air, trailing towards the library. Her scent was mixed with another, stronger one, musky, like a wolf's. Alucard quickened his pace. The scents led him to a revolving bookcase in the library, behind which was a room with a table and two chairs. The room was filled with Maria's scent, as well as the other he'd detected earlier. And he smelled blood in the next room, behind a closed door.
Cautiously, Alucard crept up to the door and reached for the handle. Just as his fingers were brushing the brass, the door flew open, knocking him backwards, and a large, heavy something landed on top of him, snarling. Pain ripped through his shoulder as something bit him.
Struggling with his assailant, Alucard could only see flashes of glowing yellow eyes and long, sharp teeth. His attacker was definitely stronger than him, but by how much he wasn't sure. He couldn't get up to draw his sword, so he unsheathed one of his daggers and jammed it into the attacker's stomach. The stronger man faltered, and Alucard got a foothold on the man and kicked him in the gut where he'd stabbed him, forcing him to let go and get off. The man, barely a man at all, moved towards the center of the room and jumped up onto the table, then crouched there on all fours, baring his teeth. Alucard wiped blood from his mouth and stood up. Drawing his sword, he took a good look at the room, searching for something to use to his advantage, or at least something that would slow the beast down. His eyes landed on a chandelier that hung above the table. Grinning, he leapt onto it, severed the chain that supported it with his sword, and leapt back to the ground to watch his handiwork.
The man-beast looked up in a mixture of shock, horror and anger as the large, heavy glass chandelier crashed down on him, flattening him between it and the table. He gave a cry of pain, a long, mournful howl that trailed off in a whimper. And Maria ran into the room.
"Alucard!!" She exclaimed, eyes wide in horror. "What have you done?!"
"I'm doing what I came here to do," The Dhampire replied coolly, "And he attacked me when I neared the door. If you'll move out of the way, I can finish my work."
Maria cast another horrified glance at Wolf, who was lying under the remains of the chandelier, bleeding and unconscious. "But he was only trying to protect me!" She said, near tears. "He said he'd watch over me while I slept-- he must have thought--" She covered her face with her hands. "Alucard, how could you!"
"I don't know who you think he is, but your bias towards him is obviously affecting your better judgment. I think--" He stepped out of the way as a dagger clattered to the ground where he had been. "Maria, what are you doing?"
Maria readied another dagger to throw. "Get out!! Get out before I hurt you like you hurt him!!"
Alucard backed out of the room, past the revolving bookcase, confused and annoyed. Well, if the girl wanted him out, so be it. It wasn't any of his business anyway.
Maria lifted some of the metal frame of the chandelier off of Wolf's body. As she did so, he stirred and groaned. "Wolf? Wolf, are you all right? I'm so sorry he did this to you! Wolf?"
Wolf opened his eyes, which had returned to their original brown color. "M-Maria...?"
Maria continued to pull scraps of metal, glass and wax off of him as she spoke. "Come on, I've got some healing herbs that will make you feel better, and I think I have a magic potion left. The rest, I'll just have to bandage the old-fashioned way. Now, can you stand up? I'll help you to the bed, you can rest there. Oh, poor Wolf!"
Wolf let Maria lead him to the bed she had slept on, his mind dull with pain and his eyesight tinged with red, blood flowing into his eyes. When he finally lay on the soft mattress, he felt his wounds start to knit by themselves slowly, as they had always done. The healing herbs and potion Maria had spoken of would help greatly, and when he was fully healed, he would find that miserable dhampire and rip him to shreds.
CHAPTER THREE: Bandages and Friendships
Wolf laid in the bed in the little concealed chamber, resting his eyes while Maria watched over him. After she had administered the herbs and her last potion, there weren't many wounds left to bandage, and the worst thing Wolf suffered was exhaustion.
While Maria watched him, she was beginning to notice things about Wolf that she hadn't before: his muscles, various scars, how sweet he looked when he slept. She thought it sweet how he had promised to protect her, even against someone like Alucard. She hadn't seen him fight-- but she knew somewhere in her heart that he could battle with incredible ferocity-- after all, the monsters did seem to leave him alone, as he had said they would. She felt safe by his side.
She imagined Wolf helping her to find Richter, then she in turn would help Wolf to escape the castle. Then he would travel back with her to her home, and after that... Maria shook her head. She was getting a bit ahead of herself. She barely knew Wolf, but she already felt like he was a close friend. As he slept, she reached out and brushed his hair from his eyes gently. "Wolf..." She whispered, "Protect me forever..."
Alucard stomped his way through the library, angered and disturbed by what had happened in the little room behind the revolving bookcase. He knew Maria did not see the horrific color of the beast's eyes when attacking, or the long fangs that could surely pierce through bone. She had been taken by the man's charm, no doubt. Silly young girls. His conscience nagged at him from the back of his mind, telling him to go back and protect her, save her from the danger that she found so alluring. "But she told me to stay away," Alucard thought darkly. "She even tried to harm me, in her own little way. If she wants to sleep in the arms of death, let her."
His conscience still nipped at him. 'But she doesn't know, she didn't see, you must go back!'
"Not now," Alucard said aloud. "But later. Later, when I can get the wolf by himself without Maria to interfere."
Wolf stirred and blinked awake, noting sleepily that Maria was still by his side, though asleep. He sat up and examined his wounds-- all of them now healed by magic and his own abilities-- then removed his bandages and put out a hand to wake the sleeping girl. "Maria," He said softly, shaking her gently. "Wake up, little girl. We mustn't dawdle here if we're to find your friend."
Maria opened her eyes, then yawned. "I fell asleep? Oh, I'm sorry Wolf, I was supposed to be protecting you..."
"Quite all right," Wolf interrupted with a smile. "Are you all rested? Good. We should get going." He slid off the bed and straightened his clothes, then dusted them off. "I feel as good as new after being in your care, Maria. I owe you my thanks." He took her hand and kissed it, still smiling. Maria blushed.
"I-- I-- it was nothing," She stammered, while Wolf watched her amusedly. "Not after all you've done for me. Do you know where we'll start looking for Richter?"
Wolf thought for a moment. "There are prison cells in old Olrox's quarters... Richter may be in one of them. Shall we have a look?"
Maria blinked. "Olrox? But I thought this whole castle was owned by Dracula. And I've never seen any prison cells..."
"Olrox is just boarding here, he's a lesser vampire," Wolf explained patiently. "And the cells are rather hard to get to if you don't have the means. Which I do. I'll show you the way." He extended a hand to lead her once more, and she took it readily this time. Together, they went left the room and ventured into the main halls of the library once more. The enchanted books stayed on their shelves, the dhurons stepped out of the way, and the ghosts disappeared as they made their way past. Maria watched in awe, her respect and liking for Wolf growing by the hour.
Wolf led her back down the long hall in the marble gallery to the main clock of the castle, where all was eerily silent save for the ticking of the huge clock in the center of the room. "Do you see that carving there?" Wolf said lowly, pointing at a statue of an angel set into the ceiling. "Every few minutes it is pulled back into the wall by a mechanism set into the clock, and it opens up a passage-- ah, there it goes." He and Maria watched as the statue moved back into a panel in the wall with a click and a grinding sound. Where it once stood was an opening leading to-- where? Wolf smiled. "Now I don't think you can jump up there by yourself, Maria," He said, walking so he was standing under the opening. "I'll have to lift you up." He held out his arms.
Maria stared for a moment, her heart pounding, then swallowed and let Wolf put his hands on her slender waist to lift her. He hoisted her up so he could stand on his shoulders, then waited so she could climb up into the passage on her own. Unbeknownst to Maria, while she was standing on his shoulders, Wolf looked up out of curiosity. He got a good view of creamy soft thighs and silky undergarments, and his heart skipped a beat. A wave of heat and desire washed over him, and he nearly staggered with the suddenness of it. She did move her legs a bit farther apart as he watched, and he thought privately that she was deliberately giving him a show. And quite a show it was! He looked down again to prevent himself from getting too involved at looking up her skirt and then gave her feet a final push as she climbed up. When she was all the way in the passage, he looked up again. Maria smiled down at him. "How are you going to get up?" She asked.
"Make room," Wolf said simply, and leapt straight up into the passage with her. Maria nearly lost her balance and fell.
"That's amazing," She whispered. "How can you do that?"
Wolf shrugged. "I am a Child of the Forest, a Shar-chaz-eii, as I've said before. It comes with certain advantages."
"Are there any more of your kind?" Maria asked as she climbed up the passage ahead of Wolf. He found himself looking at her thighs again. "Outside the castle, I mean."
"A few," Wolf replied shortly. "Though we aren't exactly common. We mostly like to live in the trees-- hence the name."
Maria smiled. "I see. I would so love to see more-- what did you call them?-- Shar-chaz-eii. They sound so interesting."
"Not half as interesting as humans, I'm sure," Wolf grinned. "The end of the passage should be just ahead of you. Do you see it?"
"Yes, I'm going to climb out now." She glanced behind her. "And no peeking!"
Wolf chuckled. Too late. "I would never," He lied gracefully. "My eyes are averted."
Maria nodded, then climbed up to the hall above the passage while Wolf watched. When she was done, he climbed up behind her. "Through that door," He said as she brushed herself off and pulled down her skirt, "Are Olrox's quarters. We won't see the Old one himself, he lives so high up even I can't get to him. But we can get to the cells if we go through the main hall and climb down to the courtyard. There's a pretty fountain there, I think you'll like it."
Maria gestured for Wolf to lead the way, which he did. Images of her thighs lingered in his mind as he walked with her, and he smiled, thinking how close he was to having them-- and the rest of her wonderful body. They entered Olrox's quarters.
CHAPTER FOUR: A Close Call and a Gentle Touch
"I think Olrox has better taste in interior decor than Dracula does," Maria commented as she followed Wolf up several flights of stairs. Green-gloved skeletons watched boredly while leaning against the wall. "It's rather nice in here."
Wolf laughed. "Maybe you should tell him that, I'm sure he'd appreciate the compliment."
"I don't want to give him a big head," Maria joked. She looked around as they walked through a long hall. Two huge men or monsters in armor stared at them, unmoving. She shifted her gaze. "How far is it to the cells?" She asked, shuddering. Olrox's quarters were beautiful, but they gave her chills. She could faintly hear the big clock ticking far below them.
"Just a little bit more," Wolf said, helping her up onto a platform. They walked down another hall, and Maria began to think that they were lost. She said so.
"No, no, we aren't lost," Wolf assured her. He slowed, then stopped and looked at her. "Why do you say that?" He lowered his voice. "Are you scared?"
Maria swallowed and nodded. "A little," She said softly. "This place gives me chills..."
Wolf put an arm around her to comfort her. "It's all right," He said in her ear, pulling her closer. "It's only a draft form the courtyard."
Maria drew a shaky breath, calmed somewhat by the feel of Wolf's warm breath on her face. She felt his lips brush against her ear gently, then he was pulling away. "I'll give you my coat," He said, pulling the faded black thing off of him. Underneath he was wearing a black shirt, plain, no ruffles. He didn't look wealthy enough to have those sorts of things, and if he really had been in the castle for hundreds of years, he certainly wouldn't be wearing the latest fashions. With a nod, he slipped the coat over her shoulders. It was warm, like he was, and Maria's mind strayed from her fears.
"Thank you," She smiled. "I feel a lot warmer now."
Wolf chuckled. "You're welcome." He walked to the end of the hall, a few feet away. "There's a hole in the floor here," He said, gesturing to a pit that dropped down into blackness. "I'll go down first, and then you can jump down after."
"You want me to jump down into that hole?!" Maria exclaimed, horrified. "But--"
"I'll catch you," Wolf interrupted coolly. "Don't worry. I won't let you get hurt." He touched her hand, then leapt down into the hole. Maria gasped and leaned forward to watch him. He landed safely a few yards below. When he looked up and saw her, he smiled. "It's all right," He called up to her. "Come on down. Just close your eyes and jump!"
Maria tried to steel her nerves and jump down to Wolf, but she was too afraid. "I-- I can't!" She shook her head. "I can't do it."
Wolf held out his arms. "Come on, Maria. Come down so we can go find Richter." His voice was soft and welcoming.
Maria swallowed hard. Find Richter... And then... She shut her eyes tight and jumped feet first into the hole with a yelp. She fell for a terrifying two seconds, then Wolf caught her and held her close. "It wasn't so bad," He said, setting her down. "Though you-- um--" He looked away.
Maria pulled down her skirt, blushing. "So-- down into the courtyard, right?"
Wolf nodded. "Right. There should be some stairs over--" He stopped cold, standing in front of the remains of an ancient stairway. Beyond it stretched a long empty space. For the first time, he seemed shaken. "I guess I haven't been to this part of the castle in a while," He said, turning to face her. "We can't get to the cells unless we go down to the courtyard first."
"Isn't there another way?" Maria asked, her voice trembling. They had been so close-- so close!
Wolf shook his head. "No." He sat down on the ground, thinking. Maria sat with him. Time passed in uneasy silence, then suddenly Wolf looked up. "We can jump again."
"Are you crazy?! That has to be a two hundred foot drop!" Maria peeked over the edge of the crumbled stairs. The sheer height made her dizzy.
Wolf came to look with her. "Do you see the fountain down there?" He pointed. "If we jump and land in that, we'll be fine. Especially if I take the landing first." He looked at her. "You don't have to jump alone this time. I'll be holding onto you the whole time, and you'll be perfectly safe. all right?"
"all right," Maria said shakily. She crawled over to Wolf, who wrapped his arms around her and brushed his lips against her cheek.
"Ready?" He asked. "Okay. Close your eyes!" And he jumped, holding Maria tight to him.
They fell for what seemed like forever, Wolf going first, careful to hold Maria on top of him. Somewhere in his mind he was worried that the fragile Maria would die of fright before they reached their destination, but he was mainly concentrating on landing them in the fountain. Both their lives were at stake in this jump. He considered briefly praying to Satan, then decided that it probably wouldn't do much good, seeing as the Prince of Darkness would most likely enjoy watching them fall to their deaths. Cold air rushed past them almost endlessly, then abruptly Wolf smelled water and they plunged into the icy fountain.
After floundering around under the surface for a few seconds, Wolf kicked up to the surface, pulling Maria's limp form up with him. Their heads broke the surface and Wolf gasped for air. Maria did not.
"Maria?" Wolf shouted over the roar of the fountain. "Maria!" He shook her, alarmed. Such a waste to have come so far, only to have the stupid bitch die now--! He pressed his lips to hers, forcing air into her lungs.
Maria sputtered, then coughed up water and gasped. Her eyes flew open, and she clutched at his soaked shirt, coughing. "Wolf," She gasped, clinging to him.
"Maria, are you all right?!" Wolf exclaimed, trying his best to sound worried and not irritated. "I-- thought--" That he would have to eat her cold.
"I'm all right," Maria said quickly. "But the water is so cold!"
"Let's get you somewhere dry," Wolf said, climbing out of the fountain and then helping her out. "What happened to you?"
Maria was ringing out her skirt as best she could, showing off more of her shapely legs. Wolf looked on appreciatively. "I don't know-- I remember falling, and being so scared-- I must have fainted."
Wolf tried not to roll his eyes. How typical. "Well I'm glad you're all-- Maria! Look out!!"
Maria whirled around just in time to be knocked over backwards by a headless knight riding half a bloody horse. The horse's hooves came dangerously close to crushing her fragile bones before it shot past her prone body. Wolf leapt into the fountain, out of the way. He watched as the knight wheeled his horse around to try and kill Maria again, and thought he'd better get her out of the way before the dumb thing ruined his meal. He growled, his eyes swiftly changing color, and lunged at the knight's back. His claws and momentum were enough to pierce the thing's armor and kill it. It and it's horse flew forward, over Maria, and burst into flames. He landed in the middle of the inferno, unharmed, as the flames died. After waiting a moment for his eyes to change back to their original color, he turned to help Maria.
She was curled up on the ground, shaking. Wolf knelt next to her and nudged her. She looked up at him, her face deathly pale, and immediately burst into tears. Wolf sighed and helped her to sit up, then wrapped his arms around her and held her to him. "You're okay," He whispered. "I killed it, it's gone." He looked into her eyes. "I'm sorry. Those things-- they're just dumb, they don't know to stay away."
"I thought I was going to die," Maria whispered, almost inaudibly.
Wolf started as she threw her arms around his neck, sobbing. With a smile, he ran his fingers through her silky hair. "Don't waste your tears here," He thought gleefully. "There'll be plenty of other things to weep over." Aloud, he whispered, "I'll always be here to protect you."
"Shh." He stood up and then extended a hand to her. "Come on. The cells are that way."
Maria stood, still gazing at him. Her eyes sparkled with tears and emotion. "Thank you for saving me," She said quietly.
Wolf smiled at her, then took her hand and started towards a wooden door at the far end of the courtyard. Behind them, the water in the fountain slowly turned into flowing red blood.
"Do you really think we'll find Richter in these cells?" Maria asked, wiping tears from her face.
Wolf nodded. "If Dracula really kidnapped him, where else would he be? There aren't many places you can keep a master vampire hunter."
They went up the stairs into the dungeon, where a long line cells was carved into the stone wall. Many of the cell doors were falling apart, a few of them looked like they had been chewed through. Maria scanned each and every one, and when they were halfway down the hall, she started to shout Richter's name, in hopes of hearing him call back to her. She heard nothing but the shuffling of zombie feet and the groans of the monsters that watched them pass. As they neared the end of the hall, she felt a tear roll down her cheek. Wolf slipped his arm around her shoulder. "Oh, Maria," He said softly, "I'm so sorry... But this is a large castle, he could be lots of other places."
Maria choked on a sob. "B-but I was so hoping to find him here," She sniffled. "And we came all this way..."
Wolf held her close and slid his hand down to her lower back, closing his eyes and brushing his lips against her cheek. "I'm sorry I got your hopes so high," He said in her ear. "Let me make it up to you."
Maria looked up at him, her face tearstained, her hair wet and clinging to her shoulders, her clothes also clinging to her in most interesting ways. Wolf lifted her chin and pulled her closer, then kissed her. He could feel her heart beating, sense her warm blood pulsing through every vein in her body, her soft skin yielding to his touch. Her lips felt like they were formed to fit his, and seemed to welcome the touch of his tongue. After a heated moment, he pulled away. "Maria," He breathed, "I love you."
CHAPTER FIVE: Kisses and Mirrors
There was a long, tense silence. Maria stared at Wolf, too shocked to even look hopeful or hurt. All thoughts of Richter left her mind, and she suddenly realized what had just happened. "Oh Wolf," Was all she managed to say.
"Please don't be angry with me," Wolf whispered. "But I had to tell you-- I couldn't keep it inside of me anymore. I wanted so much to find Richter, and to make you happy, and then--" He was cut off as Maria kissed him.
Wolf had kissed a lot of women in his lifetime, and he found he was disappointed by Maria's attempt at pleasing him. He wondered if she was a virgin. Probably. "Well," Wolf thought, running his hands down her supple body, "She'll be experienced enough when I'm through with her."
Maria pulled away and smiled at Wolf, her eyes wide. "Y-you beat me to it," She panted.
Wolf blinked. "Beat you to what?"
"I've been wanting to tell you-- because I felt this way about you ever since you were injured fighting Alucard. I was afraid you'd--"
Wolf put a finger to her lips. "Shh. Let's talk somewhere else." He glanced at the crowd of zombies that had gathered. "Where we can have a little privacy." He led Maria to a room that he used to stay in, when he'd first come to the castle. It was located under the courtyard, far away from anyone who could hear or watch them. In the little room were a few furnishings he'd put there earlier-- a bed, a bookcase, a desk-- and the whole thing looked very friendly when he lit a few candles to light the place. He sat Maria on the bed, then set himself down next to her.
Maria cuddled up to Wolf. "What did you want to talk about that was so private?" She asked teasingly.
"I didn't bring you here to talk," Wolf breathed huskily, and kissed her yet again, pushing her back onto the bed. She did not struggle, only ran her hands over his shoulders and back, making a pleasured sound. Wolf reached down to touch her thighs, inching his hand up her skirt. "I don't want to rush you," He said, fingering the silk of her undergarments, "But I didn't think we had time to play games." He pushed up her skirt, and Maria drew a sharp breath.
Alucard had explored more of the castle, fuming, then when his temper had finally cooled, he returned to the library to find Maria and her lupine friend. The room where he had seen them last was empty, their scents cold. Growling, he went to see the librarian.
"Hello Alucard!" The old man said cheerfully as the dhampire entered. "What can I do for you?"
Alucard leaned on the librarian's desk, sighing. "I need two potions, an antivenom,"-- He threw his claymore down on the desk-- "And a new sword."
The librarian raised an eyebrow. "Preparing for battle?"
"I'm going on a wolf hunt," Alucard snarled. "Sell me what I need so I can-- what is that?" He had glimpsed a large silver mirror hanging on the wall behind the librarian that had not been there before. "That there, that's new. When did you get it?"
The old man glanced behind him. "That? I dug it up in the storage room a few days ago. It's a scrying mirror," He winked at Alucard, "Like the one the witch has in the fairy tales."
Alucard walked around the desk to inspect it further. "How does it work?"
"All you have to do is--" The librarian paused. "What will you give me if I tell you?"
With a growl, Alucard dumped a pile of gold and gems on the desk. "Tell me how to use it!"
"Of course," The old one grinned. "Make up a rhyming incantation that includes what you want to see. All there is to it." He began counting his gold happily.
Alucard thought for a moment, then looked straight into the mirror and said, "By the stars and Midas' hand, where is the Wolf who walks like Man?"
The mirror swirled to life, showing several random pictures, then came to rest on one image: The wolf and Maria together in a bed, nude. Maria was snuggled against the man, nuzzling his neck lovingly. Alucard gripped the edge of the mirror so hard that it began to bend under the pressure. Without turning to look at the librarian, he said through clenched teeth, "Can it show past happenings?"
"Do you really need to know what happened there?" The old one replied, obviously amused. He shrugged. "Tell it to go back."
Alucard's eyes narrowed. "Back." The mirror complied, showing scenes in reverse, then slowed and stopped on another image. Wolf and Maria, no mistake, they were making love. There was no motion in the picture, no sound, but one could almost see his dark, muscular body moving against her creamy white one. In a single movement, Alucard tore the mirror off the wall and smashed it into the ground, sending shards of glass flying everywhere.
The librarian stood up from his chair angrily just as Alucard shot out the door, having grabbed a sword from the wall behind the old man. As the sounds of the man's running feet faded, the librarian sat back down and sighed. "Got a jealous streak just like his father's. Hope he doesn't get himself killed."
Wolf was kissing Maria's neck, lazily stroking her bare side as she dozed next to him. She had been good-- no-- wonderful, and he was considering keeping her around a bit before killing her. He had waited so long to touch that milky skin of hers, and now that he had it he didn't want to give it up. He laced his fingers in her hair and kissed her lips, startling her into wakefulness. He slid his hand between her legs, separating them, preparing to make love to her again. Maria inhaled deeply. "I love you, Wolf," She whispered in his ear.
Rage sharpened all of Alucard's vampiric senses, and he followed the wolf's musky scent well even though it had gone cold hours ago. Slashing brutally through anything that got in his way, the image of Maria and that-- that thing together etched into his mind. The thought of it made his blood boil, though he wasn't sure why. He ran through the long hallway at the outer wall, then out to the big clock-- they had gone into Olrox's quarters-- and jumped into the passageway with the help of his leap stone. At the stairs, the skeletons ducked and cowered as he thundered past. Here, the scent was stronger. He could almost make out their footprints in the dusty floor leading to the courtyard. He leapt into the hole at the end of the hall without hesitation, then out into the drop to the bottom of the Yard. He landed, unharmed, slaughtered two headless knights, then spotted a trapdoor in the ground that had been previously covered with dirt and cobblestones. As he paused to unhook his shield, he heard a scream-- Maria!
Maria staggered out of the bed, blood dripping from a wound in her shoulder. "Wolf! W-wha--"
"I've had my fun with you," Wolf growled, his eyes the color of the harvest moon. "Now it's time I finished you off."
"N-no--" Maria backed away as Wolf bared his fangs. "B-but you-- you said-- you're--"
"Harmless? Friendly? Hardly," Wolf laughed harshly. "I'm a good actor, though, aren't I? Seven hundred years of practice and I'm the best around. Three hundred years ago a Belmont used a spell to imprison me in a silver locket-- and you were kind enough to let me out." He slid off the bed, creeping forward like a stalking tiger. "I'll repay you by ripping out your pretty little heart!"
CHAPTER SIX: An End and A Beginning
Maria screamed again and shut her eyes as Wolf lunged at her. Suddenly there was a crash and a yelp, and when she opened her eyes again Alucard was on top of Wolf, looking angry the the point of insanity, slashing at him with his sword. He was shouting "I'll kill you for destroying Maria's innocence! I'll kill you for tricking her!!"
Wolf kicked and rolled, then was on his feet again, still nude but just as impressive with his muscles quivering, glistening with sweat and blood. "The son of Dracula," He growled lowly. "You're both the same-- fighting over useless women who aren't worth the trouble of taming! Why not kill them as your nature demands you to do?! I would have had that other bitch too, if that idiot hadn't gotten in the way!"
With a wordless howl of rage, Alucard darted forward, and Wolf leapt straight up out of the way. When he landed, he turned around and swiped at Alucard's exposed back with his claws. "You're a sentimental fool!" He laughed.
Alucard staggered forward with the force of the blow, then whirled around. Wolf ducked just in time to avoid having his head removed from his shoulders. "Your rage blinds you," He said, amused. "You're poorly trained."
Alucard made another pass with the sword, and Wolf dodged easily. "We could keep this up all night," He chuckled, "But I'd prefer not to." He lunged and sank his fangs into Alucard's sword arm, tearing the muscles and rendering it useless. The dhampire's blood burned the roof of his mouth, and he grinned in a mixture of pleasure and pain.
Alucard backed away, holding his bleeding arm. With his arm so wounded, he wouldn't be able to effectively swing the heavy sword, and his left hand was too clumsy to do it right. As he retreated, Wolf advanced menacingly, baring his fangs. "Once I kill the both of you, I'll get rid of the Belmont, and make myself the lord of the castle!" He snarled, fangs dripping blood, eyes still the horrible yellow color, the stuff of nightmares. "Too long have I been the servant of Count Dracula," He growled. "Too long was I imprisoned in that locket! When I rule this castle I'll turn the whole world to ash!" He was about to speak again when a small dagger thunked into his left bicep. He turned to look.
Maria was standing there, holding another dagger at the ready. When she saw Wolf turn to look at her, demonic as he appeared, she faltered and stepped back. "Little tramp!" He snarled. "How quickly you turn against me when you gave yourself so readily to me before! I'll--" Wolf stopped in midsentence and looked at Alucard, his eyes wide with pain and horror.
Alucard's left hand held the sword that was stuck all the way through Wolf's chest, protruding out the back, dripping with blood. He had taken advantage of Wolf's distraction to administer the final blow, and now, as Alucard slowly pulled his sword out of the man's chest, Wolf fell to the floor, gasping and bleeding. "You'll no longer be a threat to the lives and innocence of young girls, or the rest of the world," Alucard said calmly as he sheathed his sword. "Go now and experience the same fate you've brought to so many."
Maria was staring at Wolf, who was still twitching on the ground, the life slowly leaving him. "Wolf," She whispered, "Why me? Why did you do this? I loved you and everything you told me was a lie!"
"Not... Everything," Wolf gasped, the light in his eyes fading. "Not everything." Then he was gone.
Maria brought a hand to her lips, her eyes filling with tears, but determined not to cry in front of Alucard. The dhampire looked at her, reddened, and looked away. "I'll leave you to dress," He muttered. "I'll be waiting outside to take you out of here." He turned and left, slamming the door behind him.
Maria went about collecting her clothes, then dressed. When she was done she started sifting through the pile of clothes that had belonged to Wolf. Underneath his shirt she found a little silver locket, the one that she'd found, the one that he'd spoken of. Quickly she slipped the chain around her neck and hid it inside her blouse, then went and knelt beside Wolf's body. It was then she let her tears flow. "Oh Wolf," She whispered, touching his face gently, "Did you really love me...?" She closed his eyes and laid his hands upon his chest, then pulled the sheet off of the bed and draped it over him.
Alucard looked up as Maria came out of the room, dressed, her face tearstained. "Are you ready to leave?"
"I don't want to leave the castle," Maria said softly. "I still have to find Richter. It is what I came here to do, after all."
Alucard shrugged. "As you wish. I'll take you back to the clock in the gallery. Then we part ways."
Maria nodded, silent. She thought about the way Alucard had come to save her, how angry he'd been at what Wolf had done and tried to do to her, and felt that perhaps Alucard was not emotionless after all, that she had not been looking hard enough. After she found Richter, she would try again, start anew. And maybe Alucard would be there, waiting for her.
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