Despite Our Differences ~ A Castlevania 64 Fan-fiction


Reinhardt looked around the Forest of Silence as he crossed himself and prayed to God. The quest he was about to embark on was not going to be an easy one but many of his ancestors had done the same dangerous task before.

"Courage, don't leave me."

The sky was cloudy and dark and seemed to threaten an unknown sort of impending doom. Possibly the kind Chicken Little was once known to believe in. However, the sky had not been different from it's current state for over 5 years. Not even a spot of sunshine in that time period. (Sales in sun block had dropped to an all time low in Wallachia, but one would already have assumed that.)
Reinhardt strode ahead cautiously with one hand on the hilt of his short sword and the other ready to lash out with the sacred whip of his ancestors. Of course one would wonder if he were ambidextrous - being able to have a weapon in both hands - but to keep it simple, he sucked ass with his left hand.

Despite his caution, he couldn't help that three trees came crashing down one after another right before him.

"Phew . . . "

Suddenly, off in the distance he heard an explosion and a loud roar of anguish.

Scrambling over the smoking pile of wood, he hurried down the path to his right and came screeching to a halt at the edge of a cliff. On the other side he spotted a large tiger-like creature lying in a heap on the ground moaning in anguish. It went silent a moment later.
All was eerily quiet in the forest for a moment until Reinhardt heard something scuffling below him. He peered over the edge and noticed that someone or something was scaling the cliff side. It turned out to be a human girl.

The climbing girl looked up to see him looking down at her. "Nyaaaaah!" She cried in shock as she accidentally let go of the ledge she was holding on to.

Reinhardt acted fast and lashed down at her with his whip. It wrapped around one of the girl's wrists and prevented her from hitting the stone surface that lay far below her. After pulling her up to safety, Reinhardt gave her the once over with on eye and shook his head.

"What is a child like you doing out here? It's too dangerous - "

The young girl shot him a cold glare while cutting him off. "I am not a child!"

"You look like one to me,"

"That's because you're narrow-minded like all adults."

"Now wait just a minute," Reinhardt raised a brow at her saucy comment.

" - I'm sorry," The girl cut in. "I can't waste time when I'm on an important mission." With that, she turned to leave.

"What mission?" The vampire slayer was becoming too inquisitive even for his own liking.

The girl stopped, turned back to him and sighed. "None of your business!"

Reinhardt sputtered a little and blinked. He could tell by the look she was giving him that she was headed the same way he was.
"You really ought to leave Dracula to the professionals, youngster."

A quiet growl escaped her throat as her right palm began to glow hot white. A moment later she had formed a sphere out of the energy and sent it flying at his breastplate. The force of the blast sent him sprawling on his back.

"I am NOT a child! I can take care of myself!"

The grounded man blinked in wonder as she stormed off. "Feisty . . . "

A few minutes later he had caught up with her and had assisted her in defeated a rather large skeleton that was blocking the way to the castle's drawbridge. It had taken them a few minutes to beat the thing but after the girl had discovered the weak spot and he had hit it with all his strength, it was no more than a pile of old bones. The girl then sat down on the ground; clearly exhausted and congratulated him on his success.

"Well, if you hadn't found it's weak point we just might have been out of business."

"I suppose," She paused and studied his face as he sat heavily on the ground next to her. "So you're headed after him too, am I not correct?" The other nodded. "Well, since were going after the same thing, we should stick together,"

"I usually travel alone," Reinhardt scratched the back of his neck and looked at the sky. "But I suppose a traveling companion wouldn't be too bad. This time."

"Very well," The girl stood again and looked at the castle's outer wall. "The name's Carrie Fernandez - and I will only tolerate you if you can treat me as an equal."

The descendant of the Belmont family stifled a laugh and smiled. "Same goes for you too. Reinhardt Schnider." With that, he stuck out his hand for a handshake.

Carrie nodded and accepted. ". . . If you're not a Belmont, why do you have their legendary whip?"

The other gave a slight smile. The girl wasn't as simple as he had assumed. "The blood still runs in the family. My Grandmother was a Belmont."

"Ah, I see. And thus it's your turn to follow the path of victory that your forefathers followed centuries before. Interesting."

A long moment of silence followed as the two adventurers looked upon their upcoming obstacle.

"So what's your story?" Reinhardt found himself asking after a while.

Carrie paused for a long while before answering. "I'm doing this to avenge my family and the people in my village that were killed by his minions . . . my stepmother died trying to save me . . . I'm doing this mostly for her . . ."
As she spoke, tears welled up in her eyes but she did not weep.

Reinhardt nodded and almost felt bad for asking. All he could muster in reply was 'I'm sorry'.

The girl nodded and looked up at the large drawbridge before them. An instant later, it lowered from the castle wall and allowed them access inside. Swallowing his pride, Reinhardt lead the way towards the never-ending darkness inside . . .

*

"Well, Mr. Hero. What do you propose we do?" Carrie retorted icily as the drawbridge closed behind them. The passageway they were in was secluded, with a door on either side of them and two large heavy gates in front of them.

Reinhardt thought for a second and came up with an idea. "I think these large gates have a mechanism up top to raise them. You go left, I'll go right."

Carrie turned to her left and fumbled with the doorknob. "Stuck. Do you have a key?"

The other blinked and turned back. "Let me see," He too fiddled with the knob. "No, it's locked. Have a hairpin?"

"No, but maybe . . ." She stepped back, put her hands in the air, posed like a pitcher in a baseball game and fired up a bolt of energy. "This should work - move it unless you wanna be knocked flat!"

A split-second later the door was blown off it's hinges.

"Thanks for the help," Carrie said sarcastically as she stepped into the new room and looked around.

"No . . . problem," Reinhardt shrugged and went for the door on his right. Luckily it was unlocked.

Both adventurers had to climb a spiral set of staircases/obstacles to reach the top of their designated towers. At the top of each was - like Reinhardt had predicted - a large switch mechanism for one of the two main gates.

At the top of the right tower was a large 3 headed serpent lying in wait for whoever had the nerve to interrupt it's afternoon nap. He gave it a puzzled look and then managed to defeat it quickly. After raising the first gate, a shortcut opened up and allowed him passage to the room he started in.

When he landed on the main floor again, Carrie was already standing there waiting for him.

"What was at the top of your tower?" She asked him with crossed arms.

"An ugly fire-breathing creature." He replied. "You?"

"Only the reincarnation of darkness himself." He blinked at her reply. She nodded to confirm his silent question.
"I have to say that I am disappointed that the Count didn't have more tasteful insults."

"Can't always expect everything to be perfect."

Carrie shrugged and walked towards the newly opened passageway. "I don't want him perfect. I want him dead."

*

The Villa lay straight ahead. The gardens around the building were pretty but were a good blockade against anyone in the area. There were two garden gates blocking them from entering the Villa's front garden. Reinhardt couldn't budge them and Carrie couldn't blast them. After backing off from the gate a large 3-headed dog jumped out from the bushes.

"Why do they always have to have three heads?" Reinhardt sighed and defeated the creature with a flick.

"That was easy," Carrie retorted. Suddenly two more of the same dog-beasts appeared out of nowhere. "Okay, maybe not."

The two adventurers jumped back a bit and prepared to fight. The pair of dogs were defeated in about 30 seconds. Reinhardt kicked open the now mobile gates after stepping over the carcasses and started down the pathway to the next set. Two fire-breathing dogs jumped out and started an attack. They were history in a minute's time.

"Stupid things, " She rasped and fell to her knees when reaching the fountain that was in the front garden. She scooped her hands into the water and splashed over her face. "What's next? Three-headed tigers?"

" . . ." The other smirked and made his way to the front steps of the grand house. "Ready to continue?"

The girl nodded and followed him into the house of evil. She stopped cold when something flitted about in the hallway. "What the hell?"

It was a rather mean and hungry looking vampire. He landed before both of them and licked his lips. "Mmm . . . easy prey,"

Carrie and Reinhardt looked at each other flatly before swiftly ending the vampire's existence. Looking around, they split up and searched the room for anything else that was liable to attack.

"May I ask you something?"

"Yes?" Carrie looked at him oddly.

"How did you get your powers?"

"Why are you asking this now?!"

Reinhardt paused a moment. The curiosity was almost too much. "Because I've never seen someone with such powers . . . it's intriguing."

The other sighed and crossed her arms. "I'm only going to tell you a little bit, so listen up. One of my ancestors is Sypha Belnades, you may have heard of her - she was freed from a curse by one of your ancestors. Well, she passed her powers down through the females in my family. My mom was the first in a long while to have accessed those powers."

He nodded and became silent. "I atone if I'm making you bring up a painful subject,"

"It's all right," She replied lightly, staring up at the grand staircase before them. "I was told powerful emotions access the power, but I'm not sure about that theory . . . from what I know, her life was non-traumatic . . . and that kind of situation unlocked my powers . . ."

"Do you think there is something about her past you may not know?"

Carrie paused a moment and thought about it. "Now that I think about it, I was never told how my parents met . . . and I don't even know what happened in my father's past before he married my mother,"

"Maybe your answer is in that," Reinhardt rubbed his chin and looked up at the ceiling. " - Hmm, let's get moving. I don't want to find out if anything else really IS still here."

*

The pair found their way to a long hallway of numerous doors. Reinhardt nodded at his companion before kicking open the first door, allowing both to enter the room with brandished weapons. Carrie ducked and rolled into the room to end up in a defensive crouch position as Reinhardt merely stepped over her cautiously.

To their disappointment, nothing active was in the room.

"So much for the cautious approach," Carrie sighed and went for another door in the room which she mistook as a closet. Before she could turn the handle the door swung open to reveal a tall, white-haired man.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhh-hhhhhhhh!!" They both cried, completely caught off guard.

Acting on instinct, Carrie stumbled backwards only to fall over her feet and the man grabbed a cross from one of his coat pockets only to thrust it at her face.

"Stay where you are! Don't move! Not even a finger!" He walked around the child holding the cross towards her as he inspected. "All right, you seem human enough, and you . . . you are too." He nodded at Reinhardt.

"Of course, " He shrugged. "But the feisty one is hell-spawn, you know," Naturally, he received another bolt to the chest-plate from the blue-haired girl. "See?"

Carrie growled and crossed her arms.

The other man laughed loudly and pulled up a chair. "You two are quite the pair. The name's Vincent. Charlie Vincent. " He then grew serious for a moment. "But what are you youngsters doing in a place like this? It's too dangerous - "

"Don't treat me like a child - !" The two adventurers piped up at once.

"You're a vampire hunter as well, so why are you here? It's too dangerous for someone your age, really." Reinhardt pointed out, with Carrie nodding in agreement.

"We're going to destroy the dark lord and nothing will stand in our way."

Charlie Vincent sighed heavily. "Leave Dracula to the professionals."

Carrie stood and shook her head. "We've already come this far. No sense in leaving now."

"But this is only the beginning, young one. From here, you two have to go through a maze to even find the way towards the Castle. How easy does that sound?" Here he paused and took out a cloth to shine the cross he held.
"Legend also says that there are four trial towers . . . not an easy task. Your ancestor, young one, may have been able to overcome the trials, but it won't be so easy for you."

The girl huffed. "I think I can easily do what Sypha accomplished."

Reinhardt rubbed his chin. "So which way is it to the maze?"

Vincent pointed to the door of the room. "Out that way and to your left. About three doors down, there will be a long parlor, look for the double doors."

"Reinhardt, do we have to go now? I'm rather tired . . ." Carrie tugged at his sleeve childishly.

He shook his head. " It is quite late, I have to admit." He looked over at the other vampire hunter. "Is it safe to rest here?"

Vincent nodded. "This whole room has been sanitized with holy water, but I'd keep a cross on your person, however."

"All right, then we'll go first thing in the morning."

Carrie smiled slightly and curled up in a large armchair right away.

*

At 4 am, Reinhardt awoke to the sound of someone singing. The words were inaudible to him, but the melody seemed rather intriguing. He rose, left the room quietly and stole down the hallway towards the sound. Peering into a small atrium, he saw a lady dressed in red tending to a large bed of roses.

He walked into the room slowly, so as not to startle her. However, when she heard him she turned and looked at him oddly.

"Do you mind? I'm watering my white roses," She raised a brow and turned back to tip the watering can in her hand over a clump of flowers. However, the liquid in it was not water.

"Blood . . . ? You're a . . . !" Reinhardt looked shocked for a moment before regaining himself. If he wasn't careful, this female vampire might try something sneaky . . .

"Of course. None but vampires and demons live here," She paused a moment and looked into his eyes innocently. "You should really flee while you still can. Once you reach the underground, there's no turning back."

"I can't retreat from my mission,"

A sigh escaped those blood-red lips. "The key to the garden is in the archives, just so you know." She turned and walked towards the atrium's entrance. "Try not to let your life slip away too quickly, "

With that, she disappeared. Reinhardt shook his head roughly as if he had been in a trance. She hadn't tried anything, but he had found himself drawn into her eyes. They weren't evil, like other vampire's.

The woman was still human inside . . . how odd. . . .

*

Carrie rose at 6 am stretching and yawning like any cat might. Rubbing her eyes, she looked around the room and found no-one in sight.

"Vincent . . .?" No answer. She called the next name in annoyance. "Reinhardt?" No answer there either.

Sighing, she got up and went for the door. Before she grasped the knob, it swung open to reveal Charlie holding a basket.

This still scared the hell out of the child. "Ahhh!! Jesus, stop doing that!"

"Mmph, sorry." He shrugged and entered the room, setting down the basket on a nearby table. "Would you like breakfast, young one?"

She wavered a little while eyeing the basket. "What do you have in there?"

"There's an orchard on the side of the Villa. A real bitch to get at, though. One of those infernal dogs is guarding it."

"But I thought we . . . ?" She knitted her eyebrows in confusion. "How the . . . ?"

"Don't ask. They just keep popping up. - Have a peach." He tossed one at her and started munching on another.

"Thanks," She nodded and looked at it. "Have you seen the big dope anywhere?" Her question answered when the door of the room was opened and he staggered in. "Never mind."

Reinhardt sighed and sat down heavily on the chair nearest to him. "That damn archive door won't open . . . I tried everything. . . "

Vincent raised an eyebrow. "You spoke to the lady tending to the flowers, didn't you?"

The young man nodded. "Yes, that's right. She told me the garden key was in the archive room. But I couldn't bust my way in."

"I could blast it o -" Carrie started, being cut off by Vincent.

"I have the key to the archives - it's no use to me now. Take it." He then handed it over to the other man in the room. "Be careful, though. The garden isn't a walk in the park."

*

Standing at the garden gates, the pair could see how the hedge maze twisted and tuned out of sight.

"You think he might be right?" Carrie asked unafraid, but her tone was quiet.

"Well, someone ancient like him must be wise."

They both sniggered on that note.

"These statues are freaky . . . " the youngest frowned and looked up at the two stone gargoyle/dogs perched on top of the columns holding up the gate. "They look like they're going to come alive any minute."

"If they were going to, I think they would have done so already." Reinhardt looked at them and rubbed his chin.

"Well, then I guess they're just lumps of rock." She shot a bolt at the one on her left with a newfound haughtiness.

The statue turned it's head and snarled at them. The other stood up and growled.

"Dammit . . . " The Belmont clan offspring backed away from the scene, pulling the other with him as the two statues jumped down and followed.

"Back to the Villa!" Carrie cried, spinning on her heels and mad-dashing for the back door. Reinhardt followed closely and slammed the door shut when they were both safely inside.

"Are they still out there?" He asked after a moment.

Carrie opened the door a crack and peeked out, only to have the two statues roar loudly in her face. She slammed the door shut again. "Oh yeah. They're still out there."

Slowly, the two sank to the floor and rested their heads on their knees in unison.

"Now what?"

"Beats me. But let me just take a moment to rub in your face that your theory was wrong - "

"- At least I didn't make those things angry!"

They continued to bicker for a while before someone else entered the room and cleared their throat. Both looked up to see a man dressed in a beige outfit complete with a matching derby. He seemed human, but if one took a look at the man's legs, they'd see a thin green tail swishing side to side behind them.

"Do we have to fight him?" Carrie whispered aside.

"The name's Renon." The demon raised a brow. "But I'm not the enemy. I'm here on business to provide services to adventurers on their way to the castle."

The two humans looked at each other with the look of 'yeah right' on their faces.

The other being shook his head. "One needs gold, even in hell these days. I'd present my service to you, but I can't seem to find my contract . . . "

Reinhardt reached into his 'omega-inventory' and pulled out a scroll written in demon text. "This?"

"Ah yes. That's it." He gratefully accepted it and read the conditions of the document before returning it to the two to sign.

Carrie grabbed at it and pointed at the tiny script at the bottom that Renon had failed to read to them. "Wait a sec . . . this says that if we spend over 30,000 gold . . . our souls become yours? The Hell?"

He grabbed the contract and shoved it in his inner coat pocket. He couldn't believe the child could read his world's text. "Never mind the details, it's all the same in the end. Well, I must be off! " He then disappeared with the blink of an eye.

In the spot where he vanished, an identical contract appeared on the ground.

"Need food . . ." Reinhardt reached for it and was pulled into a swirling vortex which turned out to be the inside of Renon's briefcase.

"May I help you? Keep it short, however . . ." The demon asked, hovering in midair. "What do you require?"

The other bought what he though he'd need and closed the first deal between the human and demon. Carrie waited patiently for Reinhardt's return from the other dimension. When he appeared again, she immediately questioned the sights of the alternate time/space continuum.

"It wasn't all that great. Pretty dark," He shrugged, tossing the child a leg of roast chicken, who immediately pounced on it and ate it like a hungry wolf.

Much later, they found themselves quietly sneaking around the hedge maze after finding out that the dogs had vanished. Probably on some kind of business hell hounds go on when their tired. None the less, Carrie led the way.

"Shh!" She peered around one corner and listened to a faint sound in the distance. "Listen . . ."

Reinhardt tried to detect what she was listening to, but couldn't hear what she could. "What is it?"

"Sounds like a low growling sound," She whispered. "It might be those statues," Tiptoeing around the corner, she disappeared for a moment, then came right back holding her breath.

"What's wrong?"

"You're not going to believe this, but . . . there's something that looks like Frankenstein's monster trimming the hedges with a chainsaw over there . . . " The child breathed out slowly.

"What?" Reinhardt looked at her in disbelief for a moment. "I swear I'll be repeating this all to a psychiatrist someday . . ."

The pair slowly crept away from the direction of the gardening monster and headed towards a closed door. On their way, a child wearing a swanky purple outfit crawled out of the nearby bushes.

"I'm Malus," he whimpered after the others introduced themselves. He then told them about being kidnapped and that all his friends had been taken to the castle. After stopping dead in the middle of his story, he began to cry.

Carrie walked towards the child and crouched down before him. "It'll be all right, we'll help you, Malus."

He smiled through his tears and looked at them both. "Really?"

Both nodded back at him. Suddenly, the two statues from before leapt into the clearing through one of the hedge walls and advanced forward.

"Dammit, again . . . " Reinhardt cursed, grabbing a child under each arm and running away like the wind.

The statues gave chase right away and nearly caught him at one point, if Carrie hadn't of thrown a bottle of holy water in their faces. To make matters worse, the monster with the chainsaw joined in the hunt soon after.

"Reinhardt! We've got more company!" She cried, after almost getting her head sliced off.

"Excuse me if I can't run that well with you two weighing me down!" He called over his shoulder.

"Drop me, then!"

Without protest, he obeyed. Now able to run faster, he blundered through the maze and managed to get them through a door in a stone wall. On the other side, the 3 breathed a sigh of relief.
A question plagued Reinhardt's mind at that point, but he didn't want to jinx the quiet moment. After they let Malus escape through a gate to their left he did, however bring it up.

"You'd think those things would be able to bust down this door or something," He stated, as they walked in the opposite direction.

Carrie shook her head. "I felt a strange aura in there . . . I think the maze causes their existence. Thus, if they leave the outer perimeter . . . they become lifeless."

He nodded and looked at the sky. "Good theory."

They found out a bit later that their path took them back into the Villa and also granted them access to a locked alcove in the maze. Braving it once more, they whipped through, fought off the guardians and headed for the underground dwelling in the clearing.
Inside the underground room, they found a pair of vampires - which they defeated quickly to some annoying music that blared out of nowhere.

"Whoa . . . ! Wait just a minute!!" Carrie cried out as she looked at her Castlevania 64 soundtrack booklet. "If that stupid music that played while we fought was The First Struggle then what the Hell did we just go through to get here?! A cake-walk?!"

Reinhardt rolled his eyes and snatched the booklet away from her. "No cheating."

"It's not cheating, you fool. It's called interpretive playing." She countered, trying to get the booklet back from him. However, she could reach high enough to grab it out of his hands.

"What's a'matter short one?" He taunted, receiving a blast to the breastplate that knocked him to the ground once again.

"Nothing now, you clumsy ox." She beamed, taking back what was rightfully hers. "Now, what do we do next?"

Asking aloud, she sat down on the large coffin at the end of the room. The lid slid aside and revealed a hole that went further into the ground. Unfortunately, Carrie didn't notice that until she leaned back and fell down. The drop itself was about 6 feet.

"Ah! My back . . ." She cried in pain, eyes almost popping out of her head.

Reinhardt immediately jumped down beside her and whipped out a healing kit. The kit itself contained powerful healing magic, which cured her instantly.

Well, almost.

" . . . Ow . . . it still twinges a little . . . "

"Are you all right?" He asked the usual concerned question.

"I will be . . . thanks." She nodded back and tried to smile despite the remaining pain. "What I'd give for the invention of Tylenol three's right about now."

The other stood up and looked at their options after Carrie illuminated the room with a glowing fist. "Should we travel together or should we split up again?"

"It's necessary for one of us to make it . . . I'll go right, you go left?"

"Are you sure you'll be okay on your own?"

"I said I'll be fine. Hopefully I'll see you later!" She pointed at him with a newfound seriousness and headed off into her chosen direction.

"Don't get yourself killed, feisty one!" He called after her.

"Same to you, oh prig-like one!" She taunted back, disappearing in the darkness. Reinhardt turned and started in his direction before realizing that he had no light of his own. "Hey!" He yelled down the tunnel. "I need a light!!" The reply he received was heard to be a barely audible 'Smoking is bad for you!'.

"That's not what I meant . . . ack . . ."

*

Carrie's pathway had been a water tunnel, possibly the castle's sewer system. That would have explained the lizard-men that had nearly dragged her into the foul smelling brine. Despite a few scratches and slight poisoning, she made it out of the cavern alive. But before she could even finish the level, someone cut her off from the doorway to the Castle.

"Only a child . . ." A darkly dressed, white-haired woman let a mirthless smile slip as she looked her over. "But a true Fernandez . . ."

"Who are you?" The 'child' replied while swigging back a cure ampoule to cure her minor sickness. The woman introduced herself as Actrise, a witch. She then made an offer that many could not refuse. She offered her powers beyond her imagination if she gave herself up to the dark forces of the Count. Carrie shook her head. "My mission is to destroy Dracula, and I shall not be dissuaded by temptation!"

Actrise looked more pleased than one would imagine. "We shall meet again, in hopes you will reconsider. Just don't die before our next encounter." Laughing in a high-pitched tone, she disappeared.

Meanwhile, Reinhardt had managed to finish his route, an underground tunnel also swamped with the same venomous water. However, his enemies had been spear-wielding spider mutants. Before he could finish the level, he found himself in a room with Rosa, the vampire gardener who was stepping into faint sunlight that shone from an open manhole above.

"Stop! Don't be stupid!" He cried, running forward and dragging her out of the golden rays.

She looked shocked and relieved at the same time. "Why? Why save me? I'm only a vampire,"

"God doesn't permit suicide," He replied quietly.

"Then I guess there's no hope for my sinful soul," She stated plainly, a hint of sorrow in her voice. "Why don't you just destroy me then?" Reinhardt shook his head at her. "So you won't attack anything that resembles a woman or a child?"

"I was brought up to never threaten the weak."

Rosa sighed, looked at him in thought for a moment then turned to leave. "Such sedimentality will cost you your life. Don't be fooled by anything within the castle, hmm?" With that, she disappeared.

*

Both adventurers managed to reach the castle center at the same time, with their separate entrances being side by side. As they stepped out of the underground passages and into the new area, they glanced at each other for a millisecond before becoming startled by the other's presence.

Reinhardt yelped in surprise, backing off and brandishing his whip instinctively. Carrie cried out and backed away as well, doing a ninja pose with her razor rings in hand. She lowered her guard when she realized who it was that scared her.

"Jeez! Don't scare me like that, Reinhardt!"

"If I was any older, I'd blame you for the heart-attack I would have just had," He grabbed his head in his hands in frustration. "I swear, this is all getting to my mind . . . !"

"I know for sure I'll be in a mental institute rambling on about this when I'm your age, so don't feel that you're alone."

" . . . Hey!" It took him a moment to realize what she had meant, but he laughed good-naturedly at her wise-crack. It was probably going to be his last laugh for a long while.

Comparing stories, they wandered further into the castle center, all the while fighting off random skeletons on motorcycles, various servant vampires, more lizard men and even a blood-monster. After ascending a few flights of stairs, they found themselves in a room with a large lizard-man bent over a small table.

Carrie assumed it was another enemy to fight, thus she gave a blood- curdling battle cry and tackled the creature.

"Ah noooooooo!!" It cried, trying to rip the savage child off. "I was once human, you idiot!! I'm only this shape because of a curse!"

The girl raised an eyebrow and stared down upon the face of the creature. His eyes were genuine human eyes. "Oh! I'm so sorry . . ." She jumped off and let him get up off the floor.

Reinhardt almost killed himself laughing.

The lizard-man then went on to tell the two about magical nitro and mandragora, which they would need to use if they wanted to get any further into the castle. He asked them if they had seen the large white seal in the indoor stadium.

"Yes, we peeked into that room . . . what's that thing in the middle of the room?" The elder of the two questioned.

"I have no idea. It seems dead, but you never can tell in here . . ."

"Oh great . . . " Carrie sighed.

After conversing with the cursed human some more, the two entered a nearby room that contained the nitro. The room itself was divided into two by a long shelving unit, which displayed six bottles of the magical nitro.

"Potent stuff," She pointed to a large crater on the wall on the opposite side of the room.

"No kidding . . . " The other replied but paused. "Malus?!" Sure as sugar, there was Malus, on the other side of the shelves. "What are you doing here? Why didn't you escape?"

Malus looked up at them with fiery red eyes. "This place? Escape?" He paused a moment and looked away. When he looked back, his eyes were normal. ". . . Say, are you going to get revenge on Dracula?"

Carrie nodded and crossed her arms. "Yes, we're going to get revenge and we're going to free the world of his evil!"

Suddenly, the boys' eyes became red again. "Ha ha ha . . . you'll never defeat him . . . this world shall be plunged into eternal darkness . . . and everyone will be trapped like wretches! Ha ha ha!"

The other two looked at each other, confused by Malus's words. Before they could ask what he was talking about, he ran off.

"Oh, Malus . . . what have you been saying?" Carrie looked at the direction he had fled, worry strewn across her face.

"Something's terribly wrong with him . . ."

"Should I go after him?"

"No, we have other things to worry about. Like getting into the library, first." Reinhardt leaned forward to grab a bottle of nitro.

"- I've got a better idea. Let's take the nitro to that room with the white seal before we pick up the mandragora? Saves us a trip."

"But we don't know what is in the other direction,"

"Well, we can't go back the way we came. The gap we jumped to get up here would be impossible to get across with the stuff."

He thought about the mess either one of them would make if they attempted to jump across the gap with the liquid explosive. Carrie crawled through the shelving unit and on to the other side with ease but he wouldn't of had it so easy. His shoulder guards would have knocked the planks - and the nitro down onto the ground.

"Let me move the nitro first," She offered, carefully picking up each jar and moving it to a crate in the back of her section of the room. After, they both ripped down the wooden planks, creating a shortcut. "Now we don't have to go all the way around again."

Solemnly, he nodded, picking up a jar gently. "So who carries this then?"

"Let me test something first," She grabbed the jar out of his hands and threw it across the room at the door. There was nothing left save a few splinters of it after the dust settled after the explosion.

"Meep. You can carry it!"

He shook his head, not taking his wide-eyes off the destroyed doorway. "Oh! No way in hell am I carrying it!"

"Well then . . . how are we going to settle this?"

A moment later, they were in the middle of a fierce 'rock, paper, scissors' match. After 3 ties, they thought they had the other's attack pattern might be.

"Paper!" Carrie announced proudly as she held a hand out flat. Her expression faded as she saw what her companion had chosen.

"Scissors cuts paper. You lose."

*

Oooh . . . the gauntlet Carrie had to run had been stressful. She'd almost fallen off a narrow walkway 6 times while Reinhardt had scurried around below her killing a bunch of fire-breathing lizards that had tried to hit her with their flames. One had come so close in front of her she could have sworn her eyebrows had been singed off.

"Ow! Son of a . . !" She heard him cry out in anger as one of the red creatures clamped down on his arm. He stabbed it to death after shaking the thing off, leaving a bloody mess on the floor where it had once stood.

Balancing cautiously, she held her leather pouch with the jar inside with her teeth, thus preventing any moderate shocks or jolts to affect the stability of the nitro. When the lizard had been slain, Reinhardt had carelessly thrown it against one of the pillars holding up the narrow path.

"Reinhardt you idiot!" She mumbled through the leather between her teeth. It came out sounding a lot like 'Run you harlot'.

He turned from beating in the face of another lizard and stared at the child. After she raised a brow, he figured out what she had meant to say. " . . . Kids say the darndest things, don't they, scaly?"

Carrie rolled her eyes as she watched him finish off the monster. She had just gotten off the ramp and on to solid ground before looking ahead. A rut in the floor extended across the room, yet two turning gears in the floor prevented the pathway from being easy. She shook her head and realized what she was supposed to do.

"There is no way I'm going to chance getting squished and then blown up in the middle of those gears." She thought, gently placing the pouch on the upper part of the floor before hopping up out of the rut. "Reinhardt! Let's go!"

"Aye aye!" He called from the hollow behind her while climbing up. "Let's go then."

From there, they continued towards the large room containing the sealed wall. Carrie tiptoed carefully along the way while her partner fought off any monsters and the like that tried to get at her. They mostly consisted of baroque armor statues that came to life and tried to jab at them with either a long sword or a pole axe or another onslaught of motorcycle-riding skeletons. The aforementioned almost managed to nail the child with it's bone club, but it was knocked right off and destroyed with the holy whip of her present body guard.
Peeking inside the room, Carrie left the jar of the explosive on the floor, a few feet away from the wall. She'd carry in over to the sealed wall later.

"Another brilliant plan just struck me,"

"Hmm? Do tell?" The other asked as they bolted down the hallway to the torture chamber, which contained the shelf of mandragora.

"Well, you go back up and bust into the library. I'll wait in the arena and then I'll attend to the wall. Saves us more time, don't you think?"

He thought about it for a moment, as entered the room and cleansed it of evil. "I like your thinking." He smiled, taking mandragora off a shelf at the back of the room.

She nodded and grabbed a jar of the magical herb for herself. "Just be careful, hmm? And get back down here as fast as you can after breaking the seal."

They split ways again, Reinhardt returning to the room where they had found the cursed human, while Carrie headed into the stadium, keeping the two items well apart.

"I wonder what the heck that thing is?" The girl pondered to herself as she sat near the entrance patiently. "It looks like a huge hunk of potential hamburger meat."

After a few minutes, a while ball of light entered the room from the ceiling and dispelled the rune on the far wall. Reinhardt had figured out how to get rid of it . . . actually, he had just guessed a few times and had managed to fluke it. Of course, he wasn't going to tell her that when they would meet up again.

"All right!" Scurrying forward, with one jar in each hand, Carrie set the two jars side by side in front of the already-damaged wall and took cover behind the large furry thing in the middle of the room.

The arena shook violently as the fierce scream of the purple herb detonated the nitro. The magic aura that had been leftover from the white seal magnified and spread the effect of the explosion, completely demolishing the thick wall. After the dust settled, she peeked around her shelter and whistled a bar in surprise.

"Wow. . . it is potent . . ." Gazing up at the large white jewel that was in the space where the wall had just been, she staggered forward and touched it with a wavering hand. And inscription at the base of the jewel read 'Release the power within'.

"Now do I really want to do that?"

She pondered for a moment before nodding and touching the spot that was supposed to be touched in order to release the power. Nothing seemed to happen, so she shrugged and turned to leave the arena.

Bad idea, however. The beast that had been laying on the floor before was now stomping around the edges of the arena.

"Holy . . ."

Outside the library Reinhardt paused, feeling a wave of anxiety flow over him.
" . . . Something bad is happening . . ." Filtering through his thoughts, he regained himself and headed off to assist his partner. Reaching the arena after a few minutes he burst in to see her cornered by a rather large and pissed-off looking monster.

"Reinhardt . . . a little help?" Carrie almost pleaded although she didn't look an ounce scared. She edged over to the left slightly then to the right. The monsters' eyes followed her every move.

"What am I supposed to do?!" The large bull looked back at the new mortal in the room and snorted. Wheeling around, it charged straight for the vampire slayer. "Holy -!"

Barely having time to think, Reinhardt lashed out with his whip to which it wrapped around one of its horns. He then swung himself up and on to the shoulders of the charging creature. Infuriated, it started bucking wildly in attempt to throw its rider.

"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeee-haw!"

Carrie sweat-dropped at her partner's antics. "Tell me he didn't just say that."

A few moments passed before the monster came bucking her way, spewing plasma attacks left right and center. Dodging a heated blast, she managed to catch a glimpse of the eyeball in the mouth of the common enemy. She didn't have the strength or dexterity to blast it directly . . . thus she figured there was only one thing she could do . . . Do the Xena.

"I'm going to hate myself later for this . . . " Backing up a step, she let loose an imitation of Xena's Amazon war cry and ran forward only to do a whole series of tumbling moves finishing with a triple twist in the air and letting loose her razor rings like the double chakram.

The rings bounced around the arena a few times striking multiple surfaces. One bounced off of Reinhardt's breastplate much to his discomfort. The impact force made him fall off the creature to which it wheeled around and stared at him icily. The slayer covered his eyes in fear of the worst as the beast reared up and opened its mouth to fry him.
The rings coincidentally hit the eye in its mouth at the same time, causing the blast that was brewing to backfire, frying it to a crisp.

" . . . Eh?" Reinhardt looked over his arms that were crossed over his face and blinked.

"Only in fantasy are things that damn ironic . . . " Carrie stepped a bit closer to him and leaned over slightly to look at him directly. Offering him a hand, she rolled her eyes and sighed. "Nice work, rodeo clown."

"Why thank you, warrior princess,"

Leaving the arena, the two set off for the elevator that would take them to the next series of separated paths. At least, they didn't know it yet. Entering the room across the hall, they stopped cold at the sight before him. A purple-winged skeleton armed with a scythe looked at them evilly.

Reinhardt cringed at the scent that hung in the air. "Death . . ."

"Correct, mortal. But it won't be me to undo your existence today . . . " with that, Death moved aside to reveal a sad looking vampire wielding a longsword.

"Rosa?!"

"Who?" Carrie asked, noting the weird glow in the vampire's eyes.

Reinhardt didn't respond, but pushed the girl aside as Rosa slowly advanced on him.

"Those who threaten Lord Dracula must die . . . !"

"Rosa! No, I don't want to fight you!" He backed away but soon realized that he had no choice.

Carrie sat aside and watched while munching on popcorn that she had pulled out of her 'Omega Inventory'. The two fought out their differences with Rosa giving up after a short while. She dropped the sword and clutched at her right arm as she sank to her knees.

"I . . . I'm sorry . . . I couldn't . . ." She breathed in a dazed and confused state. Following, she asked a favor of her former opponent that if he ever returned to the village, to tell her family about her fate. "And . . .Tell them that I didn't run off with the circus to whore myself to the clown family . . ."

Reinhardt nodded in promise and was about to say something before Death reappeared and took the frail vampire under one wing before disappearing with her. The male slayer sighed and turned back to his companion, to which his jaw dropped open momentarily.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" He asked in monotone.

"Watching the unfolding plot of the love that a vampire killer has for a vampire and vise-versa. Want some?" Carrie held up the bag of popcorn to him as she got to her feet.

He slapped her on the back of her head and passed by her grumbling under his breath.

"Hmm. Guess not," She shrugged.

Just as suddenly as Death appeared, Actrise took her turn to appear and present a pawn for one of the slayers to play with. Carrie raised an eyebrow as she looked at the green-skinned girl hovering before her.

“I feel like I know you . . . your presence . . .”

The cursed girl stared at her icily not saying a word. Actrise in the meanwhile cackled and sputtered on about Carrie’s final choice to join them or die.

“I choose neither. Reinhardt, hold this,” She handed over her popcorn, rolled up her sleeves and stepped forward to kick her cousin’s accursed butt. A couple moments later, she prayed to the spot where her relative had once ‘stood’.

Reinhardt slowly walked over and put a hand on her shoulder supportively. “Let’s continue, okay?” Carrie regained her composure and nodded at him.

After riding the elevator to the top of the Castle Center, the pair found themselves in a dilemma. Carrie started off in the direction of the one bridge she saw as safe to cross. Reinhardt stopped her before she took a step on to it.

“What are you doing?!” He grabbed on to one of her arms and yanked her back from what seemed like a dead end to him. “The accessible path is the other way.”

Carrie looked at the sight behind him. To her eyes there was a broken bridge. She shifted her eyes and looked at him like he was insane. “That one is the dead end, Reinhardt!”

He stared at her like she was completely off her rocker. Thinking a moment, he soon came to a conclusion. “I guess it’s destined that we split ways again.”

“Yeah . . . be careful, okay?”

“You too.” Reinhardt let go of her arm and turned towards his path.

“Oh Reinhardt?” Carrie called after him. “Feel free to use my rocket-powered grappling hook, okay?”

He turned and stared at her. “Where did you get one of those!?”

She smiled evilly and put a finger to her lips. “The Romanian C.I.A. But don’t tell anyone,”

*

Reinhardt slowly walked into the first of his trial towers, the Duel Tower. From what he could see, there was a series of battle arenas and platforms with long spiked, spinning bars aimed at gouging someone who was stupid enough to climb on to them.

Another thing he noticed was that the monsters appeared to have been on a recent diet of coffee and Speed. Their eyes were completely bugged out and twitched at the slightest movement. To make things worse, someone had turned the spinning bar switch up to ‘Liquefy’.

*

Carrie strode into her first trial tower, the Tower of Science. She looked around for a moment, rather impressed by all the technology that had been created for the soul purpose of stopping anyone from traversing it. Strangely, it was all moving so fast, as if it had been turned up to ‘Blinding Fast’.

She looked upwards and spotted the only door out of the room. Smiling to herself she yanked her grappling hook from her inventory and aimed for the door. She pulled the trigger and let the projectile fly, aim being perfect. The hook ripped through the door and auto-secured, enabling her to retract the rope so she could be pulled to her destination. Getting up, she dusted herself off, put her item away and continued into the next room.

*

Reinhardt pulled his tired body from the exit of the Duel tower and into the entrance of the Tower of Execution. He lay on his stomach for a moment while trying to catch his breath. Words could not describe how fun that experience had been, nor could they explain how he had gotten his ass out of there in one piece.

“Phew . . . !I never want to have to do that again!

And as if the Duel Tower hadn’t been bad enough, he coincidentally looked up to see that some bugger had set the switch that controlled the large blades to ‘Mach 3’.

“Son of a . . .”

*

Carrie exited the Science Tower and cautiously tiptoed into the Tower of Sorcery. Everything seemed to be at normal speed, but the jumps ahead were almost impossible. She figured she’d have to muster what was left of her blind courage to make her way to the top. But then again, she always had her wonderful, secret new toy.

A strange blemish in the ice at her feet made it’s way towards her and suddenly sprang up into the shape of a human. She blinked, looking at it closely. Without warning, it spewed an icy blast into her face.

“Why you little . . .!” She wiped her face clean and blasted the ice creature to oblivion. A couple other spots in the ice squealed and scurried away. “Yeah, you’d better run!” She shook a fist after them and moved forward to survey whether or not the hook would reach the ledge at the top.

Reaching into her inventory again, she found that what she was looking for wasn’t there.

“Oh gimmie a break . . .!”

*

Reinhardt looked at the grappling hook in a puzzled sort of way before accidentally firing it at an electrified fence near the top of the tower. The electricity traveled down the rope and gave him the shock of his life.

“Ow! Son of a . . .!” Dropping it on his foot, he cried out in pain and danced around.

Some while later, he had managed to retract the hook and tried firing it properly this time around. Although his aim wasn’t perfect, he managed to latch the hook on to the top of the central column. A long and perilous gauntlet remained before the exit.

“Well, good enough.” He figured it was the best he was going to get. Flicking the trigger again, he was whipped up towards his target.

*

Slowly, Carrie strode into the Room of Clocks and looked around. After a short visit with Renon in his scroll, she headed down a short corridor with a small lift at the bottom right corner. Taking it up, she soon found herself staring at a rather upset Reinhardt.

He was cradling a mortally wounded Rosa as he placed a cross in her hand and prayed with her for forgiveness. “ . . . May you be forgiven for your sins,” With that, the vampire in his arms disappeared.

Carrie walked up to him and nodded fiercely in agreement when he stated that it was time to put Death in his place. Reinhardt strode forward to battle with the Grim Reaper but before the girl could assist him, she was drawn into a battle with Actrise.

The two slayers battled a while with their respective enemies before coming up with a plan.

“Carrie, let’s switch! We might have a better chance of surviving!”

“Good idea! Actrise is weak against physical attacks!”

“And Death is weaker to pure magic!”

Thus they changed their attack patterns and switched enemies, much to their confusion. Reinhardt ended up putting his dagger through Actrise while Carrie put a bolt through Death. The two minions of the Dark Lord writhed around on the ground for a moment before disappearing angrily or self-destructing in a ball of light.

*

* TBC! (I'll seriously try to finish it, I swear!!)