Valkenhayn - A Servant's Travels: Long is the Night

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Description: It would seem my return to Castle Alucard was a timely one indeed, for the blood moon has brought many guests... and many changes. While inspecting damage done to the estate's clocktower, I was set upon by an immortal I did not recognize; one recently turned, and by that brute Lord Maximoff no less. How frightful is must be for a human to be thrust into the shadows with no guiding hand - poor, frail creatures that they are! Alas, power has always come with a price, but perhaps Miss Volkoff will come to terms with the reality of her new life: that time is an abyss, as profound as a thousand nights.

In the mountains of Transylvania, Castle Alucard dwells - albeit temporarily. Nestled in a small valley between two peaks, a sight that could most accurately be described as 'otherwordly'; a suitable adjective, considering the sprawling Estate typically resides in the demon realm Makai. The towers, gatehouses, walls themselves seem to radiate a power that is entirely alien; even in this hidden part of earth that appears entirely untouched by human civilization.

Even the most cursory glance around the structures that make up Rachel Alucard's seat of power show significant signs of numerous conflicts. Damaged buildings, piles of rubble, scorched earth. It is clear that the Rosalia has been a resounding success, at least in terms of participation; surely it must have been entertaining, for any who happened to be observing the events.

In the eternal night that hangs over the Castle, near the base of a visibly damaged clocktower that threatens to pierce the sky at its apex, stands a stoic guardian. As still as one of the ornate statues that litter the Estate, Valkenhayn might appear as though he were standing sentry in front of the tower - which has numerous holes in the outer walls, revealing damaged machinery within. Obviously it has served its role as the venue for one of the evening's 'games'.

And yet, the werewolf himself hardly seems entertained or amused by the events that have occured recently. Contrary to what one might think, it is not the multitude of strangers who have been traipsing through the halls that bothers him. In fact, his mind has been almost entirely consumed with the memory of one particular guest whom had found their way to this place during the Blood Moon.

It's hardly in his nature to be so absent-minded when he should be going about his duties, and his only hope is that Lady Alucard does not mind the unusually slow pace of repairs... though it is entirely possible she is consumed with other matters at present.

Arms folded over his chest, the Butler stares up at the face of the clocktower - one hand hanging completely loose and threatening to come crashing down at any moment. He can't stop thinking about that strange man, and his obsession with the Blade... and how the Castle seemed to /sing/ to him, as he made his way to the locked chamber.

The evening's festivities had indeed proven wildly successful in terms of delivering the sort of entertainment that demons and devils find delightful. While some of the guests had comported themselves in a more playful manner, there were those who found great joy in inflicting deadly harm upon the outsiders. The castle's vast halls are stained with the aftermath of those conflicts, blood and fire marring the ancient stones as a testament to the ferocity of the mortals who found themselves actors trapped upon that wicked stage.

Though there are many tales of heroism and tragedy that can be spun from the events of the evening, one in particular has resulted in an outcome that even the potent foresight of the castle's mistress may not have been able to predict. An outcome that might very well change the landscape of power in the supernatural world. Vampires of noble blood such as herself are all but indisputably the apex predators of their ilk, beings that exist beyond Logic and are thus fundamentally immortal in ways that most people cannot even comprehend. Their kind is rare and always dangerous, even the youngest able to wield powers that can bend reality to their whims.

It is then, perhaps, quite appropriate that the Blood Moon seems to shine even more bright and ominous than usual for this night is one of auspicious omens and deadly portents. It hangs high above in the apex of its unholy journey across the black sky, a dark messenger proclaiming its terrible news to all who would gaze upon its crimson light.

Tonight, beneath the glow of its baleful light, a new vampire noble is born.

The arrival of this fledging dark goddess is not heralded with joy or fanfare. Alone and unwitnessed by any save the castle's ever-watchful mirrors, her ultimate fate brings only the silent sound of pain and sorrow as mortal life is consumed and replaced with endless hunger.

It is an act of casual belligerence that brings this dark princess into being, a petty revenge inflicted upon the mistress of the castle by one who believed himself slighted by her disregard for his station. Cast aside and left to suffer by her sire for what might have been untold generations, fate seemed to have other plans. Bargains were made with an old enemy and her freedom secured. Though her heart may have stopped beating and her blood ceased to flow, Kira Volkov was not yet done fighting.

The first battle of her new existence is proving to be a rather vexing one. Like any newborn vampire, her transformation had left her with an indescribable thirst for blood. Cruelly locked away behind the castle's mirrors, she was unable to fulfill that need and the hunger had nearly driven her mad within only a few short hours. Dhalia's arrival had proven fortunate in allowing her to escape that shadowy labyrinth but she had been unable to sate herself on the mortal woman's blood, restraining herself out of appreciation for what she had done.

%Which left Kira in a rather uncomfortable spot. She had fled from the mortal's presence as quickly as she was able, only barely able to keep herself from breaking her promise and attacking the woman in a frenzy of hunger. Though a vampire herself now, the castle proved no more willing to accommodate her attempts to unravel the maze of its wandering halls. For hours she wandered, following twisting passages through forgotten chambers and across dusty stone bridges watched over by leering gargoyles. She encountered not a single soul and after a time began to worry that she had imagined the entire encounter with her old enemy and was yet still trapped within the confines of the mirror's cruel illusion, doomed to wander alone for all eternity.

A heavy pair of doors groan petulantly as they swing open at Kira's insistence, her slender graceful limbs possessing strength beyond what they should. She has lost count of how many such portals she has passed through since leaving Dahlia behind, each seeming to lead to the same empty halls and cobweb filled rooms. Yet despite her growing sense of dread, she continues to press on, driven by determination and the gnawing hunger. And, more importantly, the desire to see her beloved again.

The small vampire steps forward hurriedly, hardly waiting for the doors to crack wide enough to allow her slender form to slip through them before slithering into the next fragment of this endless maze. To her great surprise, she finds herself standing in what seems to be a large courtyard. Towering rows of lush green hedge maze spread out in all directions, meticulously tended and shaped into a pleasing garden. Bright red roses dot the surface of the greenery like freckles, their petals all but glowing in the light of the fel moon and filling the air with a heady aroma of flowery perfume.

Kira hesitates, standing as still as a corpse for a full minute before she takes a tentative step out into the open. A quick glance around at her new surroundings immediately shows something impossible. The doors which she had pushed open only a minute ago lead not into the castle's vast infrastructure but a large mausoleum. In the distance, the towering edifice of Castle Alucard looms behind the garden.

Had she traveled that far? But how had she descended without realizing it? The ballroom where she'd encountered Demitri was dozens of stories above the ground. More illusions or simply another facet of this cursed place?

The whiff of something far more pleasant snaps the vampire out of her gawking stare at the landscape. Her eyes widen, the pupils shrinking into a tiny predatory dots of focus. She sniffs involuntarily at the air, her unholy senses filtering out the pleasant smell of roses to hone in on something far more desirable - blood.

Lips peel back from her tiny fangs as she all but snarls with need and desire. Finally! Finally, she can feed this maddening thirst.

Spinning around in a slow circle, she continues to sniff at the air until she locates the direction of the scent. Ahead of her a massive clock tower rises in the distance, its surface pocked and pitted with obvious signs of recent damage.

Moving at speeds that no mortal could hope to achieve, Kira becomes one with the shadows and races towards the fractured spire. She flows through the garden like an unholy gale, shattering apart the carefully tended rose beds and hedge walls in her eagerness to reach the source of that enticing vital force.

What emerges from the depths of the gardens is only vaguely human. A mass of black inky shadows in the silhouette of a slender feminine form erupts through the final barrier of leaves, roses petals flying in all directions like handfuls of confetti. Blazing crimson eyes sweep across the open space, flashing with a burst of deadly intent as they come across the old man.

The shadow demon throws its head back and lets out a roar of warbling malice that shakes the ground with its intensity. Monstrous bat-like wings flow into being out of its back and with a mighty flap of those tenebrous appendages it hurls itself at Valkenhayn with murderous intent.

There can be no doubt that the balance of power on earth and in the demon realm will forever be changed due to the events of the Rosalia. Ancient relics have been handed to some guests, great powers awoken within others - gifts from the Lady of the Castle, or curses? Only time will tell what consequences shall be caused by these esoteric machinations, and what new horrors - or glories - those who have been forever changed here shall unleash upon their own world.

Indeed, even a creature as powerful and experienced as the werewolf himself cannot begin to guess the the end result of events that have taken place on this long night. Neither can he begin to divine the motivations of his own Mistress, the eternal Vampire aristocrat who calls this strange place home; even after countless years spent at Her side. Can it truly be that this was all orchestrated for entertainment purposes?

Then again, perhaps there were greater forces at work... the Castle itself seems to have reacted to more than one of the strangers who found their way here. Even now, the arcane power that dwells within these walls seems to be more potent, more... vocal. As though the very stones of its foundation were calling out to any capable of sensing it; a siren song to the strange beings who answered Rachel Alucard's call.

Valkenhayn had certainly picked an interesting time to return from his sabbatical... years away from the Castle, running wild and embracing his renewed youthfulness. Hunting as he had not done for what seemed like centuries, giving himself over to the beast within as he once had before finding himself in the employ of the late Lord Clavis. What had called him back? His own memories returning to him, the remembered Oath he had spoken to the Vampire Lord an eternity ago? Lady Alucard reaching out and calling him back, in preparation for this event? Or the will of the Castle itself?

Despite countless days spent pondering this, he is no closer to finding an answer... and now, after recent 'occurences' here, he hardly has time to consider the issue further. There are now more pressing matters for him to deal with, beyond even the repairs necessary to return the Estate to its usual immaculate condition.

He certainly seems deep in thought, firmly rooted to his spot at the base of the clocktower, ignoring the swirling maelstrom of energy that has been pouring out of the very ground itself. So many awakenings here in so short a time; it is as though even the dirt underfoot is aware of the powers that have been unleashed here, reacting to them.... perhaps even feeding off of them? Shaking his head, as if to rouse himself from a waking dream, Valkenhayn suddenly seems aware of something else within the sprawling Estate... a scent, of blood and eternity, darkness and wanton hunger, a new shadow gathering in this dark place.

It is hardly an unusual smell in the realm of Makai where the Castle usually dwells - after all, the demon world is home to many Vampiric Nobles aside from Lady Alucard herself.

And yet, this seems different to the Lycanthropic custodian of these grounds; fresher, newer, hungrier... like a wailing babe newly born into the world crying out for its first taste of mother's milk. Or some other sustenance.

Sniffing the air, Valkenhayn turns his neck ever-so-slightly, exposing his nostrils to the smells pouring downwind to his position - trying to single out one among the countless odors these guests have brought to his home.

And then, a long creak - the sound of the ancient doors to this courtyard being pushed open... hardly an insignificant act, considering the sheer size and weight of them. Once open, the aroma previously contained behind those doors is fully unleashed upon the supernatural senses of the werewolf; it is almost enough to make him reel, becoming almost a physical thing with no barrier left between the two. Within the bizarre bouquet of fragrances, one is immediately recognizable - the essence of an individual whom Valkenhayn R. Hellsing knows well from his time at Rachel Alucard's side.

The Lycanthrope can smell - and feel - the specter growing closer, racing through the grounds at speeds that no human could ever hope to achieve. Not surprising, as his nose tells him that 'human' is the /furthest/ thing from what approaches him. What new terror has the Blood Moon brought into this realm? What foolish notion led one of Rachel Alucard's fellow Nobles to take part in the birth of such a horrific creature? What possible purpose could the creation of such an abomination serve?

Though it is hardly his place to question the whims of his own Mistress, he has no such sense of duty to the /other/ Vampire Lords that dwell alongside his Lady in the demon realm. Arrogance, hubris, bordering on madness - the frequently unrestrained essence of /one/ Vampire in particular, one whose lack of respect towards Lady Alucard has always rubbed Valkenhayn the wrong way.

Without so much as glancing with his cold and pale-blue eyes, the immaculately well-dressed guardian of this Estate lets out a long, deep exhalation of breath in time with the sudden ROAR from the monster who has found its way to him in this sprawling courtyard.

"You smell like Maximoff, stranger..."

The tone is anything but friendly or welcoming, and his demeanor is that of an animal who has been pushed to its limits recently - one that was snapping at the air and straining against an invisible leash, even before the sudden appearance of this newcomer. Despite the malice that seems to be oozing forth from him, his tall, solid frame remains still - head only slightly twisted towards the new Vampire who has followed their bloodlust to this very place.

He hardly has time to finish his statement, however, before the *whoosh* of beating wings draws closer and closer - clearly, this 'guest' is not here to discuss things. The sheer hunger pouring off of Kira's new form is evidence enough of this; and had given Valkenhayn ample warning to her intentions. Enough time, at least, for him to react to the sudden rush of the new Vampire; a quick spin to one side, like a matador minus the cape, leads him out of the path of danger, at least temporarily. Wheeling back around to rest his eyes on the bizarre form of this interloper, it is obvious that something has changed within the Butler - eyes now burning red at the sheer impudence of the newcomer, canine teeth noticeably longer, sharper, more dangerous, gloved fists clenched angrily at the sheer disrespect of being attacked in his own home.

And yet, he does not move to strike back for the moment - though his entire body seems to be bristling with danger, like a feral animal suddenly backed into a corner.

"You seem /lost/, fledgling. Your Master is in another Castle," he says with a spreading scowl as he visibly struggles to keep his senses in check; faced with such an overpowering essence, it is no small feat. A small miracle, perhaps, that his Lycanthropic healing factor had /also/ been strengthened by his return to a more youthful form... the wounds from his battle against the strange, possessed man earlier in the evening seem to be entirely healed - his vigor and strength returned in the hours that have passed since.

The words of rebuke and warning seem to fall on utterly deaf ears. The shadowy demon sails past Valkenhayn as he skillfully dodges the creature's artless lunge. Fingers that have narrowed into wicked black claws of pure darkness flail at him in passing, a maddened bellow of wordless rage bubbling up from within the depths of the young vampiress. Her outcry rattles the world around her again, dark power spilling out in an uncontrolled torrent of desperate need that hammers reality like a physical wave of force.

Kira's control had been hanging by a thread for hours. Only her own stubborn tenacity and pride had kept her from devolving into a slavering beast for so long. That and the lack of anything with living blood for her to feast upon presenting itself to her for all that time. With no blood to tempt her into action, she'd managed to retain her sanity for that little bit longer, too focused on escaping the castle's maze-like halls to dwell on her ravenous hunger. Out of sight, out of mind.

But the sheer vibrant scent of the old hunter is far too juicy a morsel, that life force all but singing to her like a siren with the renewed vitality granted to him by his own mistress. The fledgling vampire hits the ground in a low crouch, her inhuman nails digging into the walkway and gouging out huge divots as if the stone were no sturdier than wet cardboard. She scrambles about in a howling frenzy, pawing at the ground to slow her momentum and reverse course back towards the prey. Her motions are frantic and wild, more like that of an enraged mindless beast than anything human.


The young vampiress hisses her desire at Valkenhayn as she lunges for him again, struggling to wrest some semblance of her mind away from the hunger that has consumed her thoughts. Too much of her agrees with the beast that has taken root inside of her, however, her cursed soul crying out in tandem with the urge to do violence. She's spent most of her life spilling blood when it suited her and trying to hold back now when her psyche is all but torn to pieces with the lust for fresh blood upon her tongue proves to be a futile effort.

Her tenebrous form seems to stain the world around her as she moves, shadows growing deeper and more sinister in her wake as if drawn to the places she has touched. The sensation of contacting that dark magic is like being pressed against the surface of a glacier at the bottom of the deepest most frigid ocean. Heat and life evaporate at its touch, drawing the very essence out of anything living into the bottomless void of its abyssal depths.

Her claws begin to glow with the same fel power burning furiously in her eyes as they reach out for the butler, the crimson aura tracing a stark outline against the inky midnight of her umbral avatar.

Burning red with barely restrained anger at this sudden intrusion, Valkenhayn's keen eyes remain fixed on the creature before him. It has been a /very long/ time since he has witnessed such a sight; in the halls of Castle Alucard, a newly-made Vampire is a rare thing indeed. His Mistress is certainly more cautious when it comes to sharing eternal life than some of her kind, apparently. What could 'Lord' Maximoff have possibly been thinking when he chose /this/ vessel to turn?

If only the Lycanthrope knew the darkness that dwelt within Kira Volkoff even before her transformation, he might have been able to understand Demitri's whims in granting her his Gift. That bizarre, mercurial Noble had always been interested the evils that dwelt in the human realm - and an infamous war criminal was surely appealing to his unique tastes. A pity that the Maximoff did not choose his own dwelling for such purposes; perhaps Lady Alucard is too polite a hostess for Her own good, on occasion.

Regardless of the motives behind granting such an individual powers beyond human imagination, it does not change the fact that Valkenhayn has to deal with the fallout. Cleaning up after Vampires is his primary job description, after all - but Madam Rachel's messes tended to be less vicious than those which others of her kind leave behind.


A hiss that pierces his supernaturally keen ears - the sound of a monster which has utterly abandoned any remnants of their humanity. It is a noise that would strike fear into the hearts of most, but not a creature who belongs to the same macabre realm of monsters as this beast now does. Not the former Monster Hunter, Valkenhayn R. Hellsing. He has faced fiercer beasts and greater threats, though those days were long, long ago.

"Blood? You might find yourself some /easier/ prey, young one..."

His voice remains steady and level, but there is doubtlessly an unspoken threat attached to those words; though whether Kira is of a mind to notice in her current state seems unlikely. Valkenhayn certainly is not expecting this fledgling to heed his words; he is not even sure whether she is capable of processing his speech at present.

As if to emphasis the creature's near-mindless state, it does not seem to immediately react to the words - or even show any real sense of understanding at this time. The shadows approach, rippling forth from the newly turned Vampire - seemingly beyond its control... a black tide that turns even the eternal darkness of the Castle grounds more menacing.

The Vampire's claws come alight with that macabre power as it approaches with startling quickness, the glow seemingly unable to pierce the surrounding darkness despite its brilliance. For the briefest moment, it appears as though the encroaching shadows might swallow the form of Valkenhayn and consume him in their blackness... tendrils of eternal midnight reach out towards him...

In an instant, there is a sudden - almost blinding - flare of energy that bursts from the stoic, still frame of the Butler. Purple, burning, bright enough to temporarily draw back the shadows surrounding his spot in the courtyard... but only for the briefest of moments, before the darkness once again creeps forward. It would take a power greater than his own to dispell the shadows of Castle Alucard - and the Vampire in front of him - for more than a split-second.

However, the flare of light and power has served its purpose; purple chi continues to dance across his long, muscled limbs as his gloved hands strike out into the air just as Kira's shifting, shadowy form reaches him. It is a testament to his own speed and swift reactions, that he is able to catch the monster's grasp, interlocking his own fingers between each individual digit of her clawed grip. In terms of sheer physical strength, his kind is fully capable of standing alongside the Vampires who rule these lands - muscles and tendons straining to keep the beast at arms length. Keeping his limbs fully extended, he nevertheless leans his head towards Kira as the two remain temporarily locked in a contest of strength.

"You will find no meal here. Perhaps Lord Maximoff might see fit to share his scraps with you!"

A wide grin reveals his own fangs - more canine in nature, larger than those of a Vampire... and absolutely /dripping/ with saliva, in anticipation of a very rare delicacy indeed. It has been too long since he has tasted the blood of an immortal, and Volkoff might find her own hunger mirrored in feral gaze of the usually prim and proper custodian of these grounds.

Attempting to keep his fingers linked with the Vampire's claws, Valkenhayn grits his jaws and shifts his weight to bear down on the winged creature - trying to force it to the ground with his own substantial strength and iron grip.

And around them? The stones and dirt sing, weep and cackle in their own soundless, eternal voice. How long has it been since Lycanthrope battled Vampire on this unholy Estate? Has it /truly/ been since Clavis defeated Valkenhayn in these very halls, so very long ago?

The brilliant flare of Valkenhayn's power gives momentary pause to his vampiric attacker, the shadowy demonic form flinching away from that flash of light for a brief instant. It slows her approach, not by much, but enough to allow the ancient hunter to engage her directly rather than attempt to avoid the blindingly fast approach a second time.

Though the vampire is young and inexperienced with the dark energies at her command this ancient cursed castle is a wellspring of power for her to draw upon, a nexus of magical energies attuned to the unholy needs of its owner's bloodline. While she might not have been turned by an Alucard, a vampire noble is a vampire noble at the end of the night. The demon inside of her has all but taken full control in her desperate need to feed and its instincts seem quite capable of channeling the latent potential of her noble blood to deadly effect.

Shadows and will collide in a dazzling display of crackling power as the butler's fingers interlock with Kira's own. Instantly, her carmine-wreathed talons start to grow in size, the shadows flowing like water to try and simply shift around his hands and engulf him in her tenebrous embrace. But ghostly spiderwebs of crimson lighting sputters and hisses between them as the devouring darkness attempts to feed upon the werewolf, Valkenhayn's violet chi rebuking its abyssal touch.

The demon regards its would-be victim with a baleful glare, its shadowy form possessing no traces of the young woman beneath. The fairytale beauty inflicted upon her by her sire as a cruel joke is naught but an amorphous black silhouette of vaguely feminine shape. Her face resembles that of a jack-o-lantern, flat and without any defining features save the crimson glow shining out of two wicked evil eyes and a wide horizontal opening filled with jagged teeth. Those blazing slits narrow at him in fury but there is a brief sensation of clarity that seems to take root as he hurls his insult into her face.

"Maxi... moff...?"

The arrogant vampire noble had never bothered to introduce himself. Yet even as she considers that name a deep haunting echo of laughter dances through her mind like cold dead fingers upon her spine. Cruel and merciless and intrinsically a part of her now, that vile voice could belong only to one person.


The vampire's voice spills out in a sudden furious outpouring of raw hatred, warbling and resonating as if a dozen different people were crying out in chaotic mismatched harmony. The demon's eyes widen from narrow slits into massive chasms of pure burning malice and the shadows around them grow all the deeper with their intensity. Fresh power flows into the vampire's unnatural body as she absorbs the burgeoning darkness her slender silhouette starting to swell in size.

Until that point Valkenhayn had been on the winning side of their little arm-wrestling contest. Kira's smaller form was being driven down, overwhelmed by the feral hunter's supernatural power and skills that have been honed over the course of generations. But hearing that detestable name seems to have triggered something within the vampire. With a mighty flap of her wings she turns the tide against him, driving the butler back across the courtyard on his heels towards the wall of the clock tower.


@emit It is indeed true that Castle Alucard is a place of power for all those with vampiric essence running through their veins; not only is it the estate of the Observer, but it brings with it the same dark energy that dwells in the realm of Makai. The steadfast and reliable custodian can claim no such advantage in this unholy place... his kind, after all, are wanderers by nature - lone beasts who walk more than just the demon realm.

They do not build. They do not create. They do not lay down wards or conjure dark forces to multiply their own fearsome abilities.

They stalk. They hunt. They consume.

Given that this is the estate of a feared and respected noble of their kind, it is no surprise that even the newly-turned vampire is capable of great feats. Combined with the desperation and hunger that is almost palpable, it makes this stranger quite the threat indeed. Valkenhayn knows something of desperation and hunger, though he has surely never experienced the depths which a starving bloodsucker experiences.

Deep inside Kira Volkoff's dark aura, the lycanthrope is finally able to get a close look at her face - a terrifyingly blank visage, seemingly consumed by its own transformation. A gaze deep into the abyss, a glance at the darkest and most primal terrors which dwell in all of the realms. It would be enough to drive most men mad; but to Valkenhayn, it is more interesting than terrible. A glimpse at the true nature of their kind is enlightening indeed - he can hardly remember the last time he has witnessed a vampire so recently turned.

But now is hardly the time to let himself be consumed with curiosity, struggling as he is to try and maintain some upperhand in the contest of strength. It is likely fortunate for him that Kira seems yet to master her newfound abilities, as their kind has far more than outright physical power to rely upon.

Echoing the name of the one who turned her, the woman's voice seems to have something of an effect on the heightened senses of the werewolf. The changes in pitch, the cacophony of numerous voices rising and falling independent of each other, the raw emotions infused into the word... it is visibly displeasing, Valkenhayn's eyes narrowing - almost wincing in reaction to the harsh sound pouring from Kira's mouth.

It lasts for only a moment before he once again steels himself against the unpleasantness he is faced with... but it is enough time for the vampire, seemingly, to grasp the upper hand in this encounter. As though reacting to the very name of the one who 'gifted' her with eternal life, a sudden surge in strength causes Valkenhayn to backpedal as the shadows around him grow heavier, more oppressive in their all-consuming darkness.

Now, it seems, is the vampire's turn to keep her lycanthropic foe in her grasp - as Valkenhayn attempts to wrench his own hands free of the claws he has locked hands with. It is of no use at present, as the winged creature seems to be growing more powerful with each passing minute - though whether it is blind fury, a reaction to the energy of the Castle, or her slowly getting a handle on her powers... well, he is entirely unable to tell.

And he has more pressing matters at the moment, it would seem. Digging the heels of his well-polished leather Oxfords into the ground underfoot, the Butler attempts to halt the backwards momentum which Volkoff is forcing upon him. It is a futile gesture, only serving to create long, deep ruts in the dirt as he is being forced further back; rather than slow their movement backwards, he finds the opposite occuring, as though his attempts to halt their motion were only feeding into the vampire's strength.

The towering structure of the clocktower is coming up behind him - only seconds away from smashing into the cold, ancient stones. But this old dog has tricks of his own - and while he has experience handling her kind, can the same be said of the vampire? Has she ever faced a skilled lycanthrope, one who is capable of shifting effortlessly between forms? Valkenhayn supposes that he will find out shortly...

One moment, Kira is grasping the hands of what appears to be a simple, well-dressed man... the next? She finds that same man taking the shape of an unnaturally large, hulkingly powerful wolf - thick, shining brown fur covering a frame that would strike terror in the hearts of any earth-born woodsman or hunter.

No longer possessing individual fingers to interlock with her claws, the vampire might find her grip suddenly loosening - but rather than let himself fall away from her grasp and attempt to regain his bearings, Valkenhayn opens his jaws wide to reveal a set of slavering fangs.

It happens almost simultaneously... he leans forward as much as his position will allow, attempting to latch onto the vampire with those deadly teeth. At the same time, he finds his back slammed into the clocktower - shaking the entire foundation and knocking loose several stones higher up on the structure, to say nothing of the impact traveling through his canine bones and sending a shockwave through his body.

Whether his fangs find purchase upon the immortal flesh of Kira Volkoff or not, she will find herself nearly face-to-face with a writhing, snapping, clawing and growling creature of muscle and fur.

The change from man to beast comes as a complete surprise to the young nosferatu. Her glowing eyes narrow in suspicion as the surge of power begins to stir within the old hunter then widen with apparent shock upon discovering that she is locked in a clutch with an angry dire wolf.

It would seem that the newly transfigured demon has not yet adopted the mindset of an immortal predator, her mind still bound by very human instincts. A surge of sudden fear overpowers the hunger and her furious glower turns into a look of utter panic. She shoves her arms forward in an attempt to drive the deadly beast away from her even as the two of them continue to hurl towards the looming wall of the clock tower at breakneck speed.

But Valkenhayn is too fast, his change too swift for her to react in time. A warbling high-pitched shriek rattles the air as the werewolf snaps its jaws down on her shoulder, buffeting his heightened senses at point blank with another wave of palpable noise. The hunter's fangs sink into the shadow stuff composing her body with ease, rending the inky surface apart with their supernaturally sharp edges as easily as any mortal's flesh.

A fresh surge of withering cold explodes into his teeth as he bites down and it quickly spreads throughout the rest of his mouth as if he'd just chomped down on a nuclear breath mint. Even touching that midnight substance seems to draw the life out of him, inflicting almost as much suffering upon the butler as that which he causes to the vampire.

The impact with the clock tower proves equally unpleasant, though not nearly as one-sidedly deadly as it would have been had he not distracted the demon. The werewolf still takes the brunt of the collision but his aggressor's control over their wild flight slips at the last moment as he worries her with his teeth, altering the angle of their approach into a sideways tumble that sends her slamming hard against the stone wall as well.

The two nightmares rebound from the colossal impact and crash to the ground, still intertwined in a deadly struggle for dominance. Valkenhayn's lupine form proves far more difficult to deal in such close quarters, nearly twice the size of the small shadow demon even after her brief growth spurt. She lets out another haunting bellow that sends yet more debris raining down around them as he pins her to the ground beneath his bulk, her voice resonating in a warbling scream of fury and terror.

Inky life-stealing claws rake wildly at the chest and neck of the gargantuan wolf in an attempt to drive him back. The demons massive wings beat furiously around them, battering at his flanks like hammers as she tries to twist and writhe her way free of his grip.

If he were not wearing the form of a wolf, Valkenhayn might be sporting a grin at the vampire's reaction to his sudden transformation. One of her kind, afraid? Ah, the wonders of one so freshly brought into that eternal vampiric fold, still clinging to their humanity in some subconscious way. How rare a treat for the old lycanthrope; after all, his kind and theirs have history as ancient enemies in the demon realm. And despite the fact that he has largely put that enmity behind him and faithfully served the Alucard family for so long, it does not make his primal instincts any less potent.

Jaws tear through the twisting shadows which make up Kira's present form, freeing a small trickle of tainted blackness which might pass for 'blood' among her kind. A bitter, drifting smokiness floods the wolf's mouth - a substance entirely unique among all the creatures this ancient wolf has feasted on. Far from satisfying his own animalistic ferocity, the very /feel/ of that midnight shade is enough to repulse him... say nothing of the taste, which is rancid and corrupted - as though a once-delectable meal had been left out in the sun for too long, bearing only the most cursory resemblance to what it once was.

The fruit of life turned to dust, but retaining its shape for all eternity.

His mind reels as the shadows crawl into his throat; a chill starts in his esophagus and quickly spreads over his entire body, numbing his muscles and making his bones ache. Red, glowing eyes begin to cloud over - creeping blackness beginning to consume the fire inside those glistening orbs. And still, those jaws remain tight as possible upon the undulating shade which makes up Kira's body at present.

How long can he hold on? How long can he allow the essence of this vampire to pour down his throat, corrupting his mind and tainting his body? What happens when a werewolf fully and truly gorges itself on the blood of the immortal?

It is almost fortunate, then, that the impact jars him to some semblance of awareness - both of the creatures crashing into the harsh outer wall of the towering structure with bone-rattling force. Despite the shock, they both remain firmly entangled in eachother's grasp; and when the rolling stops, the massive wolf finds himself on top.

One might think that such a position were a great boon for Valkenhayn - after all, to be pinned beneath a lycanthrope was a death sentence for most creatures. But as he learned so long ago, a vampire is not 'most creatures' - they stand alone and above the denizens of all the realms for a reason...

Stones cascade down all around them, knocked loose from the looming clocktower - and yet the rain seems to miss the two tangling monsters entirely, though numerous heavy rocks crash to the ground dangerously close to the pair. And another horrific assault on his keen ears comes pouring out from the shadow creature pinned underneath him - combining with the remaining fog from the vampiric essence he swallowed, it causes his head to throb and ache.

And then, twilight claws tear through the air in a flash - parting his thick brown fur and rending the muscled flesh underneath it. Blood sprays out from wounds that appear almost simulatenously, such is the speed of the attack. Two crisscrossing his chest, and one diagonal across his jugular - not as dangerously deep as it might have been, as the wolf only barely managed to jerk his head backwards on sheer instinct... crimson leaks down from the form of the wolf, into the shadows under him.

Food for the starving.

Valkenhayn knows what this might mean...

Despite the rage burning through him, the ancient memories of his kin running through his fevered mind, the desire to snuff out an eternal life... he relents, the thrashing wings and claws doing their job in forcing the wolf away.

Pushing his claws down into the inky, almost malleable body of Kira Volkoff, he launches himself up and backwards - blood pouring and staining the ground in a straight line as he lands on all four paws 10 or 15 feet away. His wounds still dripping, healing factor slowed by the corrupt power of his foe's shadowy essence, the wolf's jaws are dripping with a black 'liquid' that turns to smoke and burns away as soon as it is exposed to air.

Heaving with breath, the wolf seems content not to push the attack for the time being - rather, he observes. Fur stands up and down the length of his back, paws scraping at the dirt, red eyes burning in the blackness. He radiates danger, but he also senses it as well... what will a famished, newborn vampire's reaction be to the blood of a werewolf?

The reaction upon drawing fresh blood from her quarry is immediate and dramatic. The vicious cut splashes her shadowy form with crimson vitae and wherever that sweet vital fluid comes in contact with the demon it erupts into sizzling puffs of acrid black smoke. Kira pauses in her wild thrashing as the wolf withdraws, the baleful light in her eyes flaring to near blinding intensity. Her body spasms, fingers digging into the stone and back arching upwards in a manner that is suggestive of something far more pleasurable than simply sating a parched throat.

Esctasy the likes of which she has only dreamed of floods into the warlord's mind, drowning out all of the fear and hatred in a wave of numbing bliss. Her thoughts vanish, subsumed in a white haze of euphoria that spreads out to fill every inch of her being. She sinks into that wonderful sensation like an angel resting on a cloud high above the world, far removed from the worries and troubles of earthly existence. Her fatigue washes away in that rapturous embrace, a deep soothing warmth seeping into every ache and bruise.

After what feels like only a few heavenly moments the feeling starts to recede. With its withdrawal all of the pleasure and tingling warmth starts to go with it bringing back that cold emptiness that lurks in the pit of her stomach. The shadow's eyes widen in panic and need, fingers clawing at the air instinctively as if that might bring forth more of the delicious blood.

But with the wolf several paces away, its efforts produce nothing. With a hiss of frustration, the vampire rolls over onto her stomach, rising up onto all fours like an animal. Her featureless face presses close to the ground where more of the werewolf's blood stains the stone in a long messy trail that marks his path of retreat. A thick inky tongue emerges from the glowing hollow of her mouth, slithering out between the jagged peaks of her black maw to lick the puddles with disturbing wet sounds.

Fresh shudders of delight run through her core, rippling the surface of the demon's dark silhouette as she gorges herself on the scraps. The warbling screech of her unholy voice becomes something different entirely, resonating with soft coos and purrs of intoxicating pleasure. Without even a vague regard for decorum or pride, the creature laps up every little drop of liquid heaven, snuffling in the dirt like a dog for another taste of what she craves.

Yet as she makes her way further and further along the bloody trail, the vampire's frantic energy starts to die down. Each time her tongue darts out to drag through the dirt, lashing back and forth in search of even a faint trace of more blood, it seems to get a little slower and less enthusiastic in its quest. The curved talons of midnight power begin to flex and dig into the stone, gouging deep furrows in the ground as if trying to resist its own efforts to keep crawling forward towards the next wet splatter.

Fresh shudders begin to radiate through the vampire's inky outline, her tenebrous form trembling with something other than pleasure now. Her face presses low to the ground, the long black tongue hesitating as it slithers almost reluctantly towards the next source of sustenance. The tip hovers above the glistening pool of tantalizing vitae, frozen mere centimeters away from another hit of euphoric bliss.

A sound warbles out of the demon as it lowers its face to the ground, resting its forehead upon the cold stone beside the blood. Choking wet gurgling noises bubble up from inside of the demon's maw as it shudders and trembles softly. It curls up into a tight miserable ball, long spindly arms clutching tightly at its stomach and huge shadowy wings folding down around it protectively.

It stays that way for a long minute and as the seconds tick away it starts to change. The endless midnight of its demonic form slowly begins to flake apart into a foul black vapor that evaporates into the cold night. As more and more of the darkness bleeds off it gives way to more mundane and defined elements. Its monstrous wings flow together, melding into the shape of a long red cloak. The wicked black claws which had so effortlessly torn into Valkenhayn's flesh crack apart to reveal pale slender fingers underneath. Steadily, piece by piece, the demonic visage melts away leaving behind the trembling figure of a young girl.

Harsh wracking sobs replace the warbling tones of the shadow demon, its unearthly voice giving way to very human grief. The girl, perhaps no older than eighteen by her looks, flops onto her side in the dirt with a pitiful mewl. Her features are inhumanly perfect, possessing the beauty attainable only in fairytales and illusory fantasies. Even the utter misery that twists her face with emotion does little to detract from this unnatural allure, seeming to highlight the innocent softness rather than mar it. Thick flaxen hair hangs down about her in a curtain of golden locks nearly as long and voluminous as the cloak upon her back, its platinum hue stained red with the reflection of the moonlight.

"I'm sorry...!"

With the unsated hunger of her cursed soul no longer driving her to madness, Kira is left with nothing but undesirable sobriety. She weeps openly, eyes squeezed tightly shut as if to block out the ghastly sight of her own deeds. Her mouth twists with revulsion at the taste of the blood still clinging to her tongue and more so at the memory of her own pathetic behavior. There hadn't been a trace of human dignity left in her as she scrambled in the dirt. All she'd cared about was another taste, even a drop of that succulent ambrosia. It makes her sick to remember it.

"I... oh god...!"

The girl's voice is just as delicate and beautiful and equally twisted with suffering. The obvious lilt of a Slavic accent colors the words though she speaks with otherwise perfect English.

"I... didn't... I couldn't stop myself...!"

Hunched over with its head low to the ground and back raised up high, the wolf continues to claw at the dirt - digging large gouges in the earth - as it observes Kira's reaction to its blood. Experience has taught him that one can never accurately predict the behaviour of an immortal. Countless factors contribute to the nature of what they become; how they were turned, what they were before their transformation, their age, the specific vampire who has given them the 'gift'... all these differing conditions - and more - make the personalities and instincts of each nightstalker entirely unique.

Difficult to predict, difficult to plan for... no doubt part of what makes them so individually dangerous. One can never truly know what to expect when dealing with their kind.

He watches the smoke rise where blood has dripped upon shadow, the twitching spasms, the temporary relief... and then the blind clawing for more blood, more sustenance...

Valkenhayn's senses are so attuned to the smells, sounds and motions of the beast laying before him that he can almost /feel/ the waves of pleasure recede from the vampire - and the icy fingers of withdrawal and pure, animalistic need that replaces it. Simply watching the monster run the gamut from starving to satisfied and back again is enough to send a chill running up the wolf's spine - hair on his back standing even straighter than before.

It is an unsettling sight even for the experienced hunter; after all, it has been an eternity since he has witnessed a vampire in the 'wild', so to speak. His time spent serving the Alucard family has left him accustomed to dealing with the true nobility of the vampiric race - monsters, to be certain, but properly mannered ones... those who carry themselves with pride and grace, maintaining their bearing even when in the throes of a meal.

To see a member of such a proud race in their 'infancy', so to speak, is quite the curiosity. He has no doubt that this monster shall grow into their new powers, and learn to cope with the need that drives them - he has seen it himself, the control that is slowly exercised over the insatiable appetite which curses their kind. And in the end, it only serves to make them /more/ dangerous - the difference between a calm, experienced hunter and the raw primal instinct of a starving, cornered beast.

Shuffling backwards a few steps as the vampire rolls onto all fours and begins to slurp the trail of blood leading towards him, a low growl escapes from the wolf's slavering jaws. A threat which Kira seems to ignore entirely, clearly lost in her own pitiful, miserable desperation for sustenance... but that does not stop Valkenhayn from continuing his rumbling, taking one step backwards for each foot that the vampire crawls forward - taking no chances to be caught unawares by the unpredictable beast he is faced with.

That steady trickle of blood leaving his wounds begin to slow to a drip as his lycanthropic body works to stitch together the gouges left by Kira's dangerously sharp claws. Brown fur remains stained red where the swipes tore flesh, and inky blackness continues to escape out of his jaws as the vampiric essence which has threatened to consume him is slowly leeched out of his system - his lycanthropic metabolism working overtime to purge the darkness which had creeped into him after latching onto Kira's shadowy form.

The snarling rumble coming from the massive wolf begins to die down, bit by bit, as the vampire begins to undergo its transformation. The twilight form of that monstrous vampiric shadow is replaced by a sight which might disarm those who know little of an immortal's true nature. The girl that is left after the shadows burn away seems almost harmless; and indeed, an individual with less experience might leave themselves defenseless in the fact of such an innocent-looking creature.

But looks can be deceiving when dealing with such monsters - after all, his own Mistress wears the skin of a small girl... and yet, She can be one of the most dangerous creatures in all the realms - when the mood strikes Her.

Even still, the weeping is enough for him to pity the woman, if nothing else. Few know what awaits them once they cross over to the side of immortality... and even the fierce werewolf cannot truly fathom the sheer, desperate, all-consuming hunger that comes with such power. No human deserves to be thrust into those depths, regardless of the eternal youth and unimaginable strength that comes with that eternal journey into the shadows.

Undergoing his own transformation, the wolf becomes a man once again; the wounds previously visible under his fur corresponding to long tears in the Butler's formal attire around the chest, and a now-bloodless gash across his neck. He takes a hesitant step towards the miserable creature shivering on the ground in front of him, though his eyes remain fixed on the girl - no doubt watching for the slightest hint of movement that might lead to danger.


That single word is accompanied by what could accurately be described as a disappointed shake of Valkenhayn's head, looking down at the sobbing, pathetic thing which the shadows had burned away to reveal. And yet, there is no hint that he blames /her/ for what she has become... no, he knows her Master well enough to be sure that she had little to no choice in the matter.

"Sir Demitri did you no favours by leaving you in such a state, girl..." he says - giving the Noble his proper title but with a tone of voice that is anything but respectful, "...but that is hardly unexpected. He is a compulsive one, /some/ might even say foolish..."

His voice trails off, leaving it unsaid whether or not Valkenhayn himself views the Vampire Lord as such - though his manner of speech seems to point towards the fact that he has little respect for Maximoff. Only the bare minimum amount that a Noble of Makai would expect from one beneath him - and given because of his own duty to properly represent the Alucard family in all matters, and for no other reason.

There is a pause, as the looming Butler stares down at the pathetic form of that strangely alluring girl on the ground. For a moment, the sharp redness burning in his eyes softens - the slightest hint of blue icing over the firey crimson, before disappearing once again.

And yet, when he finally speaks again, his tone is softer... as though he were pitying the monster who had assaulted him in the courtyard. Who knows what she was like before Demitri Maximoff got to her? Valkenhayn has no idea of the sort of beast she truly was even before the gift of immortality and eternal hunger were given to her. Was she innocent, before her humanity was taken away? Does she deserve this curse?

"...I can end your suffering, child. Your Master should have offered you that much, at least."

Sir Demitri.

The very thought of that vile beast having anything to do with nobility is beyond absurd. Valkenhayn laments the pitiful state of the vampire's latest progeny as if the ancient lord of the dark had callously turned the girl and left her to fend for herself. That would have been a tender mercy compared to the reality of what he had done. He had plundered her subconscious of its hopes and dreams, reached into the depths of her soul to find that which she held most sacred. Old forgotten childhood fantasies, idle dreams of possibility regarding what her life could have been. He turned those foolish fantasies against her, bypassing all her barriers and caution by veiling his lies in a comfortable illusion.

And then, simply out of spite for the tenacity and spirit she had shown in resisting him, he'd thrown her into a dark world of shadows beyond the castle's mirrors, leaving her to rot alone and starving until such time as her mind broke apart and he could mold her to his whims. No doubt he still believed her trapped in that maze of shadows, too arrogant to conscious the idea that she might find some way free of his bonds. Nor would he have been incorrect in that assumption if it weren't for happenstance. But perhaps that too was the product of a vampire's interference.

Freed from the delirium of her ravenous hunger, Kira continues to sob quietly as she tries to reconcile her actions with the image of what she had once been. Ruthless and strong, she was a woman who had carved an empire out of the untamed wilds of Africa with cunning and ruthlessness. Her desire to claw her way to greatness had come at many costs, foremost among them being her pride. She'd done a great many things that were distasteful and many others that haunted her to the end of her life. Long before her transformation into this vile demon she had considered herself beyond the point of no return on the road to becoming a true monster. And she had walked that path willingly knowing that it was the only way for the world she lived in to remain as she desired it.

The rise of the dark stalkers had changed the way she viewed the world and her place in it irrevocably. Once certain in the knowledge that she was the dominant force in her little corner of the world, she had quickly discovered just how weak and pathetic she was compared to the likes of the demons that haunted the world on the other side of the veil. That realization had driven her to take terrible risks and inflict monstrous harm upon her own kind. She had earned the label of terrorist and madwoman and accepted them as yet another price to pay in order to ensure that her beloved would never fall prey to the evil that plotted to destroy them all.

How tragically ironic that humanity's most determined mortal guardian would find herself in the position that she does now. What would Zhenya think of her if she had witnessed that pathetic display? A flash of memory plays out against the blackness of her closed eyes, the look of horror and sadness that had been writ across her lover's face when she'd found the mercenary queen after taking the dangerous super serum. Her transformation then had been little more than cosmetic, at least on the surface. But the corruption that she has been inflicted with now runs far deeper than the new flesh she wears. What would have happened if she'd been cast out into the forest rather than trapped in the castle? What would have happened if it had been Zhenya who she'd come across first rather than this stranger?

Considering that possibility nearly makes her vomit with fear and revulsion. Valkenhayn's soft words do little to bring her comfort against such dark thoughts and she curls up into an even tighter ball, hugging her knees to her chest like a terrified child.

She's caused a great deal of death in her life but it has always been with a purpose in mind. Putting a bullet into some mercenary guarding a warehouse she wanted to rob or cutting the throat of a rival warlord while he slept in a drunken stupor wasn't an act of wanton malicious evil. People stood in her way and she removed them in the most efficient manner possible. It was just the way of such things in her life of work and she'd long since stopped feeling hesitation or remorse of the necessity of such things. Kill or be killed, that is the creed of those who desire power.

But what she has done here is something else entirely. There was no thoughtful purpose in mind when she had hurled herself at the well-dressed man, no obvious need to see him slain to accomplish some greater goal. There had been nothing but blind unreasoning desire and he had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her actions were twisted and malicious; and worse, she'd had no control over the decision to take them.

For several long quiet moments she considers the offer that has been extended to her. She'd been confident in her ability to operate as usual when she'd convinced Dahlia to free her from the mirrors. Being a vampire didn't seem so bad. She had a new body, young and devoid of the lifetime of hard living she'd been forced to endure. The hunger had been there as well but it had been more of a persistent itch at the time, something that nagged at her constantly but something that she could control and ignore. That delusion has been thoroughly shattered.


Taking a deep breath, yet another sign that she's not yet shed herself of mortal habits, the girl shakes her head a couple of times. A hand lifts up to wipe at her face with the back of her silken black sleeve though there are no tears to clear away, her body no longer capable of producing such pointless things. She sits up, using her other hand to push her up from the ground and turns her delicate face to regard the hunter with eyes far too wide and innocent for a twisted predator.

"I appreciate your concern...", she says. Her voice is soft and timid yet there is an element of strength behind it that starts to return as she speaks, an ember of hard determination being stoked by some inner fire.

"But there are those whom I cannot so selfishly abandon... I have duties yet unfulfilled and promises that must be kept..."

Having made his offer to the suffering vampire, Valkenhayn stands silent in anticipation of the answer; fingers curling into the palms of his gloved hands as he clenches his fists. It is all he can do to contain his own anger - not at the beast who assaulted him, but her unfortunate situation... though he is a monster himself, the Butler is not the sort to let his quarry suffer needlessly. The idea of subjecting anyone to such torment and hunger - and for all time, no less - is utterly detestable to him... such needless cruelty should be below one who holds the title of aristocrat in the demon realm.

And though it is unimaginable for him to ever act upon such desires, his mind does rage with fantasies of ending the Maximoff line. Compared to the noble bearing of Lady Alucard or Slayer, Demitri has something of a reputation for comporting himself with far less decency and consideration for his meals. More than the others, that particular vampire reminds Valkenhayn of the bloodsuckers he once hunted alongside his old partner Relius Clover. Savage, animalistic, practically begging to be put down.

But for better or worse, those days are in the past; almost ancient history to the stunted perspective of a human. The one who is responsible for Kira's present state is a Lord of Makai, and utterly beyond the reproach of a servant to one of his kind. It is no longer Valkenhayn's place to right such wrongs; he has chosen his lot in life, and left the Hunt behind in favour of a more dignified existence within these Castle walls.

If he knew the truth behind her transformation - and the horrors that Maximoff had subjected her to during it - he might not wait for an answer. Surely death would be preferable given the situation which the innocent-looking girl has found herself in. Even those who willingly give themselves up to the night may regret their decision and become little more than pitiful, lost beasts wandering in never-ending twilight... to bring someone into the vampiric fold entirely against their will is a torture of another sort.

Some learn to control themselves, and adapt to their new lives. Some dwell in agony, hunger and misery for the rest of their lives - until some hunter puts them out of their misery. It is the only gift that the werewolf can offer Kira Volkoff, and he does not offer it lightly. It is one thing to hunt and kill able prey, another to bring death as a mercy; and he takes no pleasure in the latter.

But it seems - after many moments of consideration, of uncertainty and torment - that this newborn immortal has other plans. Despite the image that Kira Volkoff is presenting, Valkenhayn is experienced enough to sense a hardness within her; as though she were not as helpless as she might appear. He can tell there is a strength beneath that innocent-looking exterior, and the first word she speaks lends credence to his intuition.


It is enough to bring a small smirk to the werewolf's lips, offering Volkoff a small nod in response as he continues to silently regard her. His body tenses momentarily as she pushes herself off the ground, his own hyperawareness causing his body respond to the movement almost instinctively. Getting a good look into her eyes, he can tell there is something more to this one than most might be able to read at a glance... there is toughness there, and determination. For whatever reason, this discovery is some comfort to the legendary werewolf. Perhaps Maximoff had not broken her as completely as he had initially assumed?

Perhaps, one day, it would come back to haunt the vampire Lord who forced such a fate upon the girl? Whether wishful thinking on the part of the lycanthrope or not, he certainly finds the idea appealing... though he knows inside that such a foolish errand would likely end in further tragedy.


That single syllable hangs in the dark of the courtyard, alone for the time being as Valkenhayn's unclenches his fist - relaxing ever-so-slightly, although his eyes remain vigilantly fixed on the bloodsucker. He is not so quick to forget the wounds she had given him with those savage claws, or the cold, cloudy taste of shadows flooding his throat. Though he does not doubt her sincerity, the old lycanthrope knows how dangerous it can be to lower ones' guard around even the most innocent-appearing immortal. They are masters of deceit as deep and dark as the shadows they dwell in, and though he does not sense any such games being played here... well, old habits die hard.

"I am not a cruel beast, despite appearances..." his voice comes out quieter than previously, and calmer as well, "... your kind and mine have history, young one. I likely know more about what you have become than you do yourself. And while I will not pry into this 'duty' you speak of, I will give you a word of advice. For your own sake, forget the one who did this to you - he is beyond either of us."

A pause, a slight tilt of his head to the side accompanied by a narrowing of his eyes. There is something interesting about this one; the sudden change in demeanor, perhaps accepting her fate and determining to make the best of it? To not lose herself entirely in the darkness? It is a thin line to walk, between what remains of ones' humanity and the monster within... he has seen others fail to balance these two worlds.

Most do.

"I fear, however, those you mean to /not/ abandon... might abandon /you/, when they see what you have become. Humans are weak, frail creatures. Not like you, and not like I..."

Those words are accompanied by a tone that is almost sad, as though the werewolf were mourning for the past life of Kira Volkoff - though he knows nothing about what she was before being turned, he knows well enough that there can be no going back to that. Not truly.

But that is a lesson that each must learn on their own, for few heed advice given in regard to such matters.

"Be prepared for what awaits, if you attempt to return to the life taken from you. It is gone, though you may not yet know it."

Kira's own instincts take notice of the way the strange man reacts to her, decades of constantly being cautious for snipers or assassins having rendered her vigilant to the point of paranoia. With the keen senses of a supernatural predator at her disposal, however, this alertness is elevated to previously unimaginable heights.

She sees the clenching of his fists in tight controlled fury, anger that remains neatly contained and away from his carefully neutral expression. For him to restrain his emotions so thoroughly speaks of a great degree of discipline. It was a lesson that she had struggled to learn as a young woman and remained difficult even as she grew older. She was always a wild one, letting her passions run rampant. They were what made her who she was: a charismatic commander that genuinely cared for her soldiers, a fierce lover that always left her partners eager for more, and a terrifying enemy that showed no mercy or remorse to those who wronged her.

His subtle flinch as she rises from the ground also fails to escape her notice. She knows well the source of that twitch, the instinctive behavior of an experienced fighter reacting to something they perceive as a possible threat. She finds that particularly interesting considering the bestial nature of the stranger. That such a ferocious creature might consider her such a danger that even so innocent a movement draws that drastic of a reaction when she is little more than a confused and uninformed newborn is telling.

Of course, it only makes sense when she thinks about it for a moment. Her own encounters with vampires have always ended quite poorly. This makes twice now that she's had her life changed dramatically by those dark demons. First by Jedah as a rebuke against her brazen invasion of the Makai those several years ago and now by the one called Maximoff. It's hard to tell which of the two dark lords had a greater impact on her fate. While Demitri would seem the obvious choice at first glance, what with him turning her into an unholy abomination and all, it was Jedah who had set her on the path to lead her secret rebellion from the shadows.

Valkenhayn's watchful gaze provides yet another clue as to his nature. Though her appearance is now one of innocent youth the wolfman never once takes his eyes off her. Perhaps it is as simple as the fact that he has seen her true form which makes him remain alert despite her disarming mien. She certainly would be doing the same if their positions were reversed. But there is something deeper in the mannerism behind the way he watches her, as if the man is familiar with taking such precautions around her kind. He certainly speaks as if he has more authority on the subject of vampires than she though that isn't a terribly difficult hurdle to clear. What she knows is limited to her own encounters with the two lords of night and what few pitiful scraps of knowledge the Hunter's Guild has that didn't sound like meaningless superstition.

The advice is offered and Kira's first reaction is immediate and fierce. Her lips peel back into a snarl that looks a lot more adorable than frightening on her youthful features, a pair of tiny fangs glinting in the red moonlight. A fresh surge of white hot anger threatens to overwhelm her reason again and she struggles to clamp it down lest another unfortunate incident occur. Her crimson eyes begin to shimmer with an inner light, a pale reflection of the baleful power that had poured out of her demonic form.

"No...!", she hisses, her voice low and dangerous. "That isn't...! I can't just...!"

Her own tiny fingers clench into a tight balls as she struggles to come up with a reason to rebuke the stranger's warning. The very thought of allowing that monster to simply walk away after what he has done to her is anathema to what remains of her blackened soul. She wants to find him and rip him apart with her bare hands, shred that stupid smug grin right off his face and jams what's left into the deepest darkest hole she can find!

And yet, as she stews in frustrated silence, no words come forth that might provide a proper counter argument. Reason reasserts control after a few seconds and her shoulders slump, her head bowing towards the ground in resignation. There is simply too much she doesn't know yet. To hurl herself into another conflict after so thorough a defeat without some semblance of a plan or even an inkling of understanding about the nature of her foe would be suicidal - or worse. Recent events have shown her that there are indeed fates worse than death.

The old hunter's words make perfect sense. That doesn't mean she has to like it though.

Scowling like a child that's been forced to swallow a bitter spoonful of medicine, the girl crosses her arms over her chest and glowers at the ground. The ominous flow of power within her slowly ebbs back to a restless background hum of dark magic that almost blends in naturally with the castle's own quiet presence.

His next words are likewise full of wisdom and they strike home particularly hard. She's spent several years conditioning her troops to understand the threat that dark stalkers pose to humanity. How would they react to find out that she herself has fallen to the dark side? Could they be convinced to still trust her or would she just be yet another abomination to be slain to her former subordinates.

"No," she says again, this time with more control, if no less fire in her voice. "I will not simply abandon everything that I was. Everything that I /am/! To do so would be an admission of defeat, of surrender to that... that...!

A strange look crosses her face as she fumbles for the words that should have come easily to her. Cursing like a drunken sailor on shore leave has always been one of her primary methods of expressing herself. She's good at it, able to weave colorful insults together in a veritable tapestry of lingual abuse. And yet when she tries to conjure up expletives to hurl at her absent sire the sounds simply die in her throat, refusing to come out.

She snarls again, coughing and sputtering impotently as she attempts to spit out every unkind word she can call to mind with no more success. Eventually, she just throws her hands up in a beseeching motion towards the night sky, frustration writ plain across her face.

"Really?! I cannot even disparage that... that... /man/...?!"

It does not surprise Valkenhayn that the vampire finds his advice difficult to swallow; to not only leave behind ones' previous life, but to forego revenge as well? Most who possess any amount of pride or will would bristle at the very suggestion, and Kira's reaction does not disappoint in this regard. Even he feels a certain antipathy towards Maximoff, one can only imagine the hatred this stranger might bear towards him; and while he has centuries of experience fighting his own baser instincts, this one is still young.

There is no immediate response from the werewolf, instead letting her continue on - he seems disinclined to argue his point any further. There was a time when he was just as headstrong and proud, before being humbled by the vampire Clavis Alucard. It was only by luck, and the mercy of that ancient Lord, that he survived that day; he can only hope Kira is as fortunate, though Demitri Maximoff is not well known for showing 'mercy' to those who challenge him.

After some consideration, it appears as though the girl relents - the body language is impossible to miss, a sign that Valkenhayn's words may have reached past the justified anger that had clouded her mind. And still, he doesn't interrupt, letting the fledgling vampire work through things in her own head; pressing the matter in such a situation, in his experience, only invites rebellion. Best to let someone make up their own mind, remaining content with supplying sound advice drawn from his own experience and observations.

It would appear that the wolf is re-learning some semblance of manners after returning to the Castle, though remaining far more aggressive after his youthful appearance and vitality were restored.

A curious look crosses Valkenhayn's face as the young vampire begins to trip over her words when attempting to insult the one who turned her; one eyebrow raises slightly, accompanied by a minor tilt of his head. So, it would appear that Maximoff's grip is stronger than he might have first assumed...

He cannot relate to her inability to leave behind her former life; he experienced no such emotion when giving up his duty as an Immortal Breaker, to pick up the mantle of Servant of House Alucard. /His/ kind learned long ago that attempting to keep their attachments precious and close made them more vulnerable, as opposed to one who is capable of leaving behind everything they've ever known in an instant. They rarely dwell in one place for too long, and friends are few and far between. Sadly, humans seem far more emotional, and easily held captive by the very things that give them comfort and joy.

"He is your Sire, girl," he says finally, responding to the woman's failed verbal outburst towards Lord Maximoff, "And - like it or not - that gives him power over you."

A sigh, as Valkenhayn pauses to rub the bridge of his nose with two gloved fingers - when he finally drops his hand back to his side, the red eyes have been replaced by the usual icy blue shade he wears when not in battle. Perhaps a sign that he is lowering his guard around this unfortunate individual, becoming more comfortable that she seeks to cause no more harm to him or the Estate.

"Your life is your own, to be certain... and you will do as you see fit. But if you think taking your revenge upon the same creature who birthed you into this darkness is a simple matter, I can assure you it is not."

A moment of consideration on the part of the lycanthrope, eyes studying Kira Volkoff, scanning her up and down. He can still sense the power dwelling within her, and how seamlessly it seems to gel with the arcane energy of Castle Alucard. Valkenhayn is certain that this creature must have been more than the average human in her past life, though he does not pry - most vampires do not radiate such potency, so soon after being turned.

Perhaps she might have a chance, one day?

It is an interesting thought, and if he were to say the idea brings him no joy it would be a lie. He will have to keep an eye on her, when possible, in the hopes that one day she revisits the one who dragged her into the shadows.

"I should not say more about Lord Maximoff. A beast, he may be - but one who is greatly respected in the Realm of Makai... and my Mistress has dealings with him. It is not my /place/ to speak further on the subject... you will take heed of my words, or you won't - but I can offer you no assistance against Him. Only the advice which I have given. Be patient..."

...a small grin crosses his lips, for just a moment before the stoic face of the Castle's sentry returns.

"...after all, you have an eternity to pay Him back."

A cold chill runs down Kira's spine at the explanation offered regarding her inability to hurl a very justified string of insults at the vampire lord, her pretty features expressing obvious surprise and revulsion.

Her sire... and he has power over her.

The very notion of being bound to Maximoff in any way is both infuriating and terrifying; more so because she can immediately sense the truth behind that claim. The haunting words that he had left her with when he cast her into that dark abyss echo in her mind like a phantom whisper, vile promises of untold suffering yet to be inflicted upon her at the whims of the dark lord.

Yet again she finds herself at the mercy of some arrogant immortal bastard, robbed of the power even to make her own choices in the face of such primal authority. It would be enough to make her weep again if she weren't so pissed off. The anger that surges through her is somehow different than the familiar fury that she has so often experienced throughout her life, however - colder, more subtle, and yet infinitely more intense.

In that moment there is but one truth which solidifies within her mind, an edict from which all of her actions and plans will henceforth derive purpose.

She's going to kill that smug piece of shit if it's the last thing she ever does.

There isn't any doubt in her mind that this must be her path forward. To do otherwise would defile the very essence of what it means to be Kira Volkov. Every single enemy that has placed itself in her path has been destroyed, every transgression against her repaid in blood and fire. If she is to simply give up that policy now because her foe is a bit scarier than the ones that came before then she might as well march herself to whatever dark hole the vampire calls his home and pledge herself to his eternal servitude.

It might take her years, decades, maybe even centuries. But she is going to burn Maximoff to ash and scatter what's left to the corners of the world. And after that she has a few more names still on her shit list that could use an unhealthy dose of retribution to the face.

To Valkenhayn, the girl seems to go strangely still and quiet for a time as she considers his words. Her gaze drifts off to one side, focused on nothing in particular as she mulls something over, keeping her thoughts confined to the secrecy of her own mind this time. Despite the unusually gentle and understanding manner in which this stranger has responded to her unprovoked attack, she gets the feeling that acting with discretion from hence forth will be a crucial element of survival.

On that subject, she finds herself wondering why exactly the butler has chosen to be so restrained. It is obvious that he possesses the strength to threaten her, unfamiliar as she is with her form and the benefits it offers. She's never once met someone with that kind of power who acted out of charity, especially after being so viscously attacked.

The manner of his speech seems to suggest that he holds some degree of intrinsic respect for her kind. Might he be the servant of another vampire? It would do much to explain why he seems to know so much about her circumstances. Perhaps she can make use of his unusual streak of helpfulness to try and get her bearings on this whole vampire situation.

Kira stands up straight suddenly, some niggling voice in the back of her mind suggesting that she comport herself properly as she turns to face the servant of Alucard again. Her chin lifts up slightly, an imperious gesture of regal authority seeming to come naturally to the young vampire noble. In life she commanded the respect and loyalty of her subordinates through strength of character and reputation. Now she demands that same reverence by virtue of her very existence in much the same way gravity compels things to drift towards objects of intense mass.

"I wish to apologize properly," she says, her gentle voice ringing with the undertone of someone used to commanding authority. "My actions were unbecoming of any sort of basic decency. And I have yet to even introduce myself."

Strangely, the latter of those two transgressions seems the more grave to her mind and she moves to rectify it quickly. Gripping the silken fabric of her midnight dress, the girl performs a slightly awkward curtsey in the butler's direction, clearly unused to such formal gestures. Likely she embarrassed herself more than she managed to look dignified but hopefully the thought will count for something.

"I am... or was, I suppose... Kira Volkov, the Black Dragon. Now... well, I was hoping you might help me understand that a little. As you may have guessed, my...

Her face twists up into a sour frown for a moment as she rolls a word off her tongue with obvious distaste.
"...sire... did nothing to inform me about the world I have been thrust into. It has become obvious to me that you possess some knowledge on this matter. Though I am in little position to request favors of you, it would please me greatly if you might help rid me of this dangerous ignorance."

The scent of anger is a powerful one, particularly coming from an immortal. Their emotions - when they allow themselves the indulgence of such things - are so potent that they are capable of influencing the moods of others with ease. Their charm can subjugate the will of lesser beings, and their rage can strike terror in the hearts of otherwise fearless soldiers. Being a fellow monster - albeit of a different sort - he finds himself unswayed by such things... but the smell is unmistakable, all the same.

It is a heady aroma that makes his head swim at its zenith, a reminder of days past - the same scent he would follow through woods and ruined castles and barren, sunless plains. Even when their names were widely known in the realm of such beasts, he and his partner never really smelled /fear/ from their vampiric quarry... always the same mixture of anger, frustration, and disbelief that their eternal lives might come to an end.

This chance encounter here has brought back a flood of memories to the lycanthrope; what would be ancient history in the stunted mind of a human was simply the impetuous, carefree youth of one as long-lived as he. And despite the fact that he made the choice - twice - to leave such a life behind, there is a part of him that yearns to rejoin the hunt for those who are /truly/ worth his effort to stalk.

But he has made a sacred oath, and his existence is proof that even werewolves can possess a sense of duty and honour... or perhaps it is simply further testament to the power of a true Noble, that they are capable of domesticating a feral animal and molding it into something other than a savage beast.

His patience, his manners, his ability to control his own baser instincts... they are all owed to House Alucard, learned as they were under the employ of this noble family. And if Kira Volkoff is surprised that Valkenhayn is not currently attempting to tear out her throat for attacking him on the Castle grounds, she owes a debt of gratitude to Madam Rachel for that fact - although she does not know it.

After a long silence, which hangs heavy in the chill air between the two darkstalkers, the vampire speaks yet again. And when she does, it is with an entirely different bearing - as though she were attempting to comport herself in a manner more suitable for one with her newfound power.

The apology is brushed off without a word, a simple wave of his hand seemingly absolving the stranger from the crime of assaulting a servant of House Alucard within the Estate - after all, his Mistress invited these guests into her place of power. And just as he allowed his opponent on the eve of the Rosalia to leave the Estate after their battle - taking with them a relic of great power - he will not attempt to visit death upon someone who was invited to partake in the festivities... not without good cause, at least.

Volkoff makes her somewhat clumsy curtsy - and to his credit, Valkenhayn remains straight-faced despite her obvious inexperience in behaving so properly. He is even gracious enough to return a small bow, arm sweeping to one side as he bends his torso and lowers his head ever-so-slightly in her direction, before responding to her introduction.

"You'll forgive me if I do not recognize the name. The lives of humans - and the conflicts of their realm - are rarely of interest to me... they are born, filled with ignorant confusion, foolish aspirations and impotent rage for their brief lives, then return to dust. If nothing else, you have been spared /that/ fate."

Though that fact may be of little comfort to the young one standing before him, it might offer her some hope for the future. One door closes, another one opens - and though her old life might never truly be hers again, an eternity of new possibilities await her.

Noticeably, he does not immediately speak to her request... and for good reason, as it introduces a conflict of interest to the duty-bound servant of Lady Alucard.

It is a delicate balance that must be struck here; as the loyal guard dog of an immortal, he is obliged to not share secrets which might be even tangentially harmful to the one he serves... and on the other hand, the only malice he senses from her is towards the monster who stole her life away.

It is fortunate for her that Valkenhayn has been gone so long from Rachel Alucard's side, and only recently returned. The Butler knows nothing of what his Mistress had planned for the infamous warlord - that it was she who invited Demitri to sate his thirst at Kira's expense. Nor is he aware of the personal war she had waged against his fellow darkstalkers ever since their appearance on earth.

And why should he be? Such matters always bored him, even in his peaceful and contemplative old age - matters outside the Castle rarely caught his interest unless required to carry out his duty, or being drawn into some pressing matter regarding an old friend or rival.

Finally, he shrugs - what might be an amusing sight for an individual who carries himself with such a straight-backed and serious bearing.

"I would not expect him to; no doubt it amuses him to leave you in such a state, lost and confused in /this/ place. It is fortunate you came across me and not the Lady of the Estate... she is less forgiving than I, when slighted or attacked in her own home. Perhaps that was his intention, to turn you into a mindless beast in these halls and leave it to Madam Rachel to finish you for his own amusement."

His head cranes upwards, keen eyes narrowing as he peers into the unnatural twilight resting above the Castle walls and blanketing the place in eternal darkness.

"Perhaps he is still watching, in some manner or another," he says, voice trailing off as his nose wrinkles - silently sniffing the cold, bracing courtyard air... he does not /sense/ anything, but when dealing with a being as powerful as Lord Maximoff, even the hyperawareness of a lycanthrope is not an entirely reliable thing.

Shaking his head suddenly, eyes drift back down to stare straight into the gaze of Kira Volkoff... his cold stare betrays no emotion, simply viewing her with an analytical curiosity. His words are sympathetic, but entirely unaccompanied by any warmth in his voice or tone.

"As to your question... you may have felt it before being turned. A certain pull towards Lord Maximoff, as though he were calling to you in a way you could neither hear nor ignore? Perhaps you froze, finding yourself unable to struggle in the end...?"

A hypothetical question, as he does not exactly give the young immortal an opportunity to answer, before completing his point with an even, matter-of-fact tone.

"Do you honestly believe it would be any different now that he has fed upon you? Quite the contrary... it will take /more/ willpower to resist, now that you are under his spell. If you failed once - and so recently - you will fail twice, if you seek vengeance without mastery over yourself."

The little vampire partially suppresses a frown at Valkenhayn's dismissive reply to her introduction. He must have little interest in the mortal world indeed not to recognize her name - or at least the moniker by which she has so recently become infamously known. But her annoyance stems more from the casual disregard with which he describes mortal existence. It has been mere hours since she was parted from her life and thrust into the realm of immortality. She still finds it hard to speak of humanity without including herself as a part of it, the reality of just how drastic a change she has experienced not yet having been given time to fully sink in.

And yet she finds it hard to argue with the butler's blunt description of mankind. She had spent most of her life pursuing goals that any sane person would call foolish. She had struggled constantly against her own weakness, using cunning, negotiation, and treachery to claw her way to the top of the mortal food chain. But even as she crowned herself a queen among mercenaries, she did so completely ignorant of just how insignificant she truly was compared to the beings that lurked just beyond the veil of Makai.

Even so, she can't just discount everything that she fought for as meaningless simply because something greater existed beyond her knowledge or reach. She had fought terrible battles against desperate odds with the full knowledge that every moment might be her last. The fear and anxiety of that possibility had fostered intimacy between herself and those who chose to call themselves her friends. She'd taken many lovers to her bed, men and women alike, reveling in the heat of passion born out of the sheer joy of being alive despite the odds. Just as often she'd been forced to bury those same friends when their luck ran out.

It is difficult to fathom the idea that she will outlast each and every one of them, forced to watch those she holds dear succumb to fatal injuries or slowly wither with the inevitability of age. The hunter speaks as if this is some great boon that has been bestowed upon her and she should be relieved to be spared the fate of mortal impermanence. But all she can think about is watching Zhenya's life bleed away piece by piece while she remains eternal and unchanged by the passing of years.

Yeah... what a wonderful thing to look forward to...

Fortunately, the conversation moves on while she broods, allowing her to focus her thoughts on something less depressing as Valkenhayn brings up her progenitor once more. Her frown blossoms into a full blown scowl at the suggestion that Maximoff had intentionally left her starved and half-mad on the hopes that she might rouse the ire of someone powerful enough to kill her properly. That certainly sounds like a particularly dickish thing to do and thus would seem to fall right into the dark lord's wheelhouse based on her brief encounter with the creature. But at the same time, the way he spoke to her indicated that he was more interested in subjugating her rather than simply seeing her destroyed. He could have done that himself quite easily. Either way, she's just making guesses here.

As for this Madam Rachel, Kira had almost forgotten about that little element. She knows little and less other than that she was the person who had sent out the invitations that had lured her here. Which in turn means that she is at least partially responsible for the predicament that she now finds herself in. Another vampire to deal with once she gets her bearings. Wonderful.

Kira stiffens at the suggestion that her sire might somehow be spying upon them even now, her eyes widening a little. Her own head tilts back to regard the twilight above them as Valkenhayn sniffs at the air but she hasn't the faintest idea what she should be looking for. There doesn't seem to be any trace of that vile creature's presence weighing upon her mind, at least, and he didn't seem like the sort to bother with subtlety.

The vampire lowers her head to regard Valkenhayn again when he does the same, meeting his cold stare with a carefully neutral expression. The way that he has avoided answering her question is starting to make her worry that he might be hiding something from her. On the other hand, her brief dealings with supernatural beings has revealed a rather infuriating shared habit of refusing to give straight answers. There must be some kind of rule in the monster handbook that prevents them from getting to the point in a timely fashion.

he butler's words once more cause Kira to flinch, fresh anger surging to the fore. She opens her mouth to spit out a hot response but he doesn't give her the chance, hammering home the utter futility of clinging to the hope for revenge against her sire. Her jaw works silently for a few seconds but she eventually closes it. Once again, she finds herself unable to gainsay his wisdom.

"Then, what..."

The girl's large eyes sink closed, her shoulders sagging with a sudden weariness. She hates this. She'd spent a life time struggling and fighting to establish herself as a dominant force in her little slice of the world. Now, despite apparently gaining hitherto unimaginable dark powers, she somehow feels more helpless and lost than she ever did as a human.

"...what is it I must do?"

Kira's eyes open and she turns a pleading look up towards the werewolf. She wanders a few steps closer to him for the first time, moving with such unnatural grace that she glides almost ghost-like across the stone. A hand reaches out towards him, her slender arm wrapped entirely in the elegant black silk of the dress Demitri had bestowed upon her. In that moment she doesn't look like a demonic creature of shadows and hunger but rather a frightened and desperate child lost and alone.

"Please... I... I don't know who else to turn to! Help me..."

Polite as he may be after centuries of domestication in Castle Alucard, Valkenhayn nevertheless makes no effort to disguise his sense of superiority over the unfortunate creatures known as humans. To the werewolf, they are little more than minor annoyances on his best days... and easy prey when he chooses to indulge his more animalistic side. Even in the face of a grieving young girl who has recently had their humanity stolen away, he does not hesitate to make his feelings regarding that species known.

She will need to accept the truth of her former kin and comrades, sooner or later... better to do it early on in her new life, rather than spend too much time mourning her loss. Though there have been vampires who have led mortal soldiers or ruled over small enclaves of humanity, they have done so as distant masters or cruel tyrants - rather than anything resembling equals.

Such is the curse of immortality, and this reality has broken the mind of many newly turned individuals - turning over time into feral, ghoulish creatures rather than the composed and calculating vampires which make up the aristocracy of Makai.

Valkenhayn is unsurprised by the look of anger and disgust which crosses Kira's face; it is to be expected that the idea of being toyed with in such a way is an unappealing thought. For a creature with any semblance of pride, death is often preferable to being thrown into a game against ones' will. He can certainly relate to this; having been the victim of such diabolical schemes in the past, and by beings far more cruel than even Lord Maximoff himself.

The butler watches her go from anger, to disappointment and deflation, to pleading for help. If the rapid swing in emotions has any effect on him one way or another, his stoic expression does not betray it. He may pity her, and perhaps even wish he could aid in her revenge - if only due to a personal dislike of a certain vampire - but he has never been one to be swayed by the emotions of another.

Rather than flinch or move back as the vampire takes a few takes a few steps to approach him, he stands his ground. It is only when she has cleared most of the distance - and begins to extend her hand in his direction - that he suddenly lifts one arm, holding his hand out in front of him with the palm towards Kira. Accompanied by a slight narrowing of his eyes, it serves as a very clear indication that she should halt... it is not an outwardly aggressive reaction, but there is little room for confusion nevertheless.

"I have helped you, though you may not know it. To attack a servant of Lady Alucard in her own dwelling is no small trespass; be glad you still 'live' to plan your revenge."

His words are stern, the tone far harsher than any previously heard in this conversation. It does no good to mince words needlessly, after previously attempting to explain matters in a more gentle way. And so, he continues, keeping his hand raised in front of him - waiting for the vampire to either back away, or continue to advance...

"I fear you haven't been listening to me. Your path is one you must walk alone. I cannot meddle in the affairs of my Mistress' fellow Nobles, and you have been marked by Lord Maximoff. The rules of our realm are quite clear... and I, as a humble servant, must abide such things."

The general pace and demeanor of the denizens of Makai is influenced by their unnatural lifespans; when one has an eternity to converse, there is no reason to rush matters. No doubt an individual used to the brief, candle-like existence of a human being would find the pace glacial and frustrating. But rarely would any darkstalker take such a thing into account - and if they did, it would likely amuse them to string a mortal along for a lengthy amount of time. There is no sense that Valkenhayn is playing such a game, but he certainly is taking the time to choose his words carefully - and not exactly giving Kira any /solid/ answers.

Whether the girl is satisfied with what passes for 'answers' here, is another thing entirely.

Kira freezes in place when the werewolf raises his hand to ward her off, her eyes widening a little at the obvious signs of warning in the gesture. Once more she has to remind herself of the danger that the both of them pose to one another inherently. She no longer needs to carry a gun or a knife to represent an utterly lethal threat and the simple act of stretching out her hand to touch the front of his shirt might well be construed as some sort of aggression.

Slowly, the vampire takes a step back and clasps her hands at her waist, leaving her fingers interlocked and in plain sight. She looks like a school girl that forgot to do her homework, thoroughly chastised by the rebuke inherent in the short wordless exchange. She should know better - she /has/ to know better if she's going to survive in this strange realm of ancient laws and codes of conduct.

Her gaze drops to the ground in shame upon being reminded of her abominable behavior one again. Even if it she hadn't meant to do it, the fault still lies with her. That loss of control could have resulted in far more permanent harm inflicted upon the butler than even she realizes. The concept of Logic and those who exist beyond its inflexible rules is something that she hasn't even the faintest clue about. She was never inducted into the world of magic and immortals as a human, never educated about even the most basic of ideas around which the truth of reality is shaped.

"I see."

It seems she will receive no aid from this man or any other servant of a vampire in regards to her desire to challenge one of the dark nobles directly. There are rules, apparently. Rules that she also has received no education about and is thus entirely clueless. Clueless has never been a particularly desirable state to exist in, in her experience, often leading to people making unpleasant mistakes that could have otherwise been easily avoided. Kira gets the feeling that any mistakes that she makes now are going to have rather dire consequences.

The girl nibbles on her lower lip idly as she ponders how to proceed. It's obvious that the first thing she needs to do is figure out precisely what these rules are so that she can avoid tripping over them by accident. If he won't give her any direct support in the pursuit of revenge, perhaps this vampire's servant can be convinced to impart a different sort of assistance.

"If you cannot offer me your assistance in that matter..."

The girl's chin lifts from her chest and she regards Valkenhayn with a renewed sense of dignity. Her demeanor is one of nobility but there is an air of humility in her tone that conveys a sense of awareness regarding her own vulnerability. She needs his help and she knows it. An experienced vampire noble might be able to simply demand his cooperation, no doubt having maneuvered him with cunning words and well-laid schemes into a position where he cannot refuse. But she is in no position to impose such an imperious decree upon him - at least, she doesn't think she is. And that's the problem. She hasn't got a clue what she can or cannot expect him to do for her.

"Perhaps you might be willing to help me in some other way. You speak of rules and servants and sires... but I have no understanding of these boundaries or limitations. My actions here tonight were inexcusable, that much I can grasp without being told, but the specifics of these ancient laws remain unknown to me."

She lapses into silence for a few moments, considering her words carefully. She has always had a knack for convincing people to do what she wants. It is simply a matter of knowing how to approach the request while taking into account the perspective of the person being imposed upon. This man has repeatedly shown great deference to whatever ancient laws govern the nobility of the supernatural world and carries himself with obvious dignity. Perhaps by playing upon these traits she might be able to nudge his consideration a little more into her favor.

"Would it not be more desirable for one of Lady Alucard's peers to know the proper way to comport herself? Surely, she would prefer her guests to behave in a manner befitting the honor of the invitation she has extended?"

Kira offers the butler a guileless smile, practically radiating sincerity and innocent charm. She isn't even aware of the faint subtle stirring of power that makes the shadows around her feet ripple and dance as she taps into the wellspring of her own vampiric influence. Her words come out soft and suggestive, laden with a gentle compulsion to regard them as more compelling than they might otherwise be.

"I would not wish to besmirch the reputation of the mistress of one who has shown me such consideration. Please... help me to repay the favor by teaching me what I need to know."

Offering the immortal a grateful nod after obliging his gesture to keep back, Valkenhayn lowers his hand once it becomes clear that there is some understanding between the two. It is not a personal thing, simply prudence and caution - something that any individual with sense would practice when face-to-face with a vampire, particularly one who had already attacked them once in a blind fury. He does not believe that the girl poses any further threat, having seemingly exercised some level of control over her newfound power - and the hunger that accompanies such a transformation.

The disappointment in her impossible to miss; and perhaps he even wishes he could offer her more material assistance. Perhaps if she had come across him in another life, before he took up his eternal term of service under House Alucard, he might have been able to hunt alongside her - though it is just as likely she might have ended up as his prey instead. It is certainly for the best that she had come across the more mature and restrained werewolf in the courtyard, rather than his needlessly violent and uncontrollable old self.

And then her seemingly chastised appearance disappears in an instant as he raises her chin and meets his eyes once more - a sudden air of nobility coming over the immortal, as naturally as if she were born into it. Her kind are natural aristocrats in Makai for a reason, and they seem almost instinctively inclined to carry themselves with pride and dignity.

Seeing her - so newly born into the shadows - carry herself in such a manner... well, it gives Valkenhayn hope for the young girl's future. At the very least, she seems to be able to master her own emotions when given the opportunity to do so; that will be crucial, if she truly intends to throw off the shackles of Lord Maximoff and strike back at that fearsome monster.

And her words come out so smoothly, so confidently... yes, there is something about this one that Valkenhayn cannot put his finger on. Before his very eyes she has seemingly grown into the role of an immortal, speaking in a manner that brings to mind long-distant memories of his first time meeting his current Mistress; then merely the daughter of his Master, Lord Clavis Alucard. Whether Volkoff intends it or not, her attitude - and the subtle pulsating of her dark aura - /does/ have an effect on the lycanthrope.

Even a being as powerful and ancient as Valkenhayn R. Hellsing is not above feeling the pull of a vampire's influence... the only difference between him and one who is unaccustomed to such things, is the fact that he is /aware/ of the influence, and able to mitigate it... through no small effort on his own part. For her charm to pull at the willful mind of such an experience hunter is an impressive feat indeed; the only question remains being whether or not it is intentional.

A short series of blinks and a shake of the head, as the werewolf attempts to push past the compelling, comfortable fog which has descended over his mind. He is doing his absolute best to show no signs of being swayed; better to not let this young girl know the true powers she might wield over an individual as fierce and stubborn as he.

"I truly do pity your situation, Ms. Volkoff. Alone in a brand-new world, a fresh existence - given immeasurable power, but no knowledge to accompany it. Left with a burning desire for revenge, but no feasible way to carry it out. Forced to abandon your old life, but no path forward for you to follow."

More flowery words and vague philosophical statements, and zero answers. And yet, he continues to speak after a brief pause - a moment to contemplate his next words, as he still fights against the mental pull of the vampire's essence.

"Your words ring true, however; you were invited to this place, though I wonder if your transformation wasn't a part of Lady Alucard's plans. Her power is certainly great enough to have rescued her guest from the fate which has befallen you... and yet, she didn't. She could have visited you after your encounter with Sir Demitri... and yet, she didn't."

He lets those words sink in for a moment, corner of his mouth turned upwards into an almost impercetible smirk - bright blue eyes shining with some amusing inner thought. How he had so missed the schemes and games of Rachel Alucard during his extended absence from the Castle; they had kept him entertained during his unfathomable years of service.

"What you need to know, though... I'm afraid that is for you to decide, not me. We could stand here for what might be an eternity to a human mind, and I still would not have taught you half of what I've learned of your kind - and as much as that might amuse me, I have duties to carry out."

Both gloved hands come up to chest-level and rub against eachother, as though he were wiping his hands of the entire affair. While normally it would be her Master who taught this girl everything she truly needed to know, her Master has clearly abdicated the responsibility - for one reason or another. It is only by Valkenhayn's own empathy towards her plight, animosity towards Demitri Maximoff, and Kira's powerful vampiric charm that he even makes his next offer...

"I will answer one question, if you have it. The rest, you will have to learn on your own. Seek out another of your kind...or perhaps you will find the knowledge you desire in the human realm. Though humanity's ancient folktales of vampires are merely human ignorance and imagination, there are those on Earth who know much of the immortals they hunt."

The possibility that Rachel is the one ultimately responsible for her transformation has not slipped Kira's mind. Though she has never had any contact with that particular vampire, for all she knows the little leech might have taken it upon herself to inflict punishment on the mercenary at the behest of someone else. Maybe she simply fancies herself in a position to pass judgement on those who draw her attention. Merely being a prominent member of the Hunter's Guild might have been enough to accomplish that. Again, she's left with nothing but guesswork.

She puts aside that particular line of thought as currently unproductive. Valkenhayn seems unlikely to be any more supportive of an expressed desire to inflict retributive mayhem upon his own mistress as he was regarding her plans against Maximoff. He might even chose to taken offense at the idea and she doesn't want that, now does she? Wouldn't want him to start being less helpful...

Kira purses her lips petulantly as her efforts to wield a bit of charm prove less productive than she had hoped for. It seems to take her a moment to realize how obvious the expression makes her to read. She grimaces briefly and turns her back on him, embarrassed and confused at how little control she seems to have over such things since the change.

Controlling her emotions and her body language is something she has done for decades, yet now those same feelings seem to simply bubble up to the surface subconsciously. It's like she's a teenager all over again, filled with awkward insecurities and barely restrained hormones. At this rate she'll have to start checking her face for youthful acne. Can vampires even get pimples?

She's half tempted to toss that question out at the butler just to trip him up and wipe that smug look off his face. Stupid unhelpful mongrel following a bunch of stupid vampire rules...

But no, that would be a waste, and he seems like the sort to delight in maliciously complying with the letter of his word. That's what she would do. She'd very nearly lured Dahlia into making that same mistake when the psychic had named the price for her freedom. It would have been a technical fulfillment of the deal they had made and something about that made it more compelling to her now. She had even felt a sort of relief upon upholding her end of the verbal compact. Perhaps honoring such bargains is another one of those strange supernatural laws.

Taking a moment to consider the matter properly, Kira reviews the matter seriously. She needs information, that much is clear. While he isn't going to hold her toes to the fire for attacking him, the butler is not going to be much help in that regard. This much is also clear. What she needs is a more useful source of knowledge, someone who might have the time and inclination to tell her what she needs to know.

That pretty much rules out anyone she can think of from the mortal side of town. She's already poured over most of what the Hunter's Guild has compiled on the nature of the things they hunt and none of it even vaguely touched upon the subjects of how to properly behave in vampire society. Knowing which pinky to extend at tea is probably not a pressing topic of exploration for someone trying to kill said vampires, she supposes. There might be other sources of ancient knowledge compiled by more scholarly sorts but anything like that is probably in the hands of the Librarium and she'd probably set off every magical alarm in the country if she got within a mile of their facilities now.

The obvious choice is another vampire. Maximoff is far more likely to imprison her again than offer to teach classes on vampire etiquette, assuming he doesn't just destroy her out of spite. Her time with Jedah had proven him to be utterly insane and associating herself with that lunatic could not possibly end well for anyone but Cthulu or whatever nightmarish entity is writhing around in his brain. That just leaves one real potential option...

"Very well."

The little vampire perks up suddenly secretly sporting another prim smile.

"I know what question I would like to ask."

She closes her eyes slowly and goes quiet for several long seconds, practically strumming the suspense like a harp. Melodrama must be another vampiric super power that she's starting to develop. When she opens her eyes again, she turns to face the werewolf and regards him with another look of regal aloofness.

"What I must do to arrange a meeting with the Lady Alucard?"

If Valkenhayn is offended by the vampire's attempts to sway him, there is little sign of it in his tone or expression. In fact, he might find himself almost disappointed if one who was given such powers - and so recently - did not attempt to exercise their new abilities to their own benefit. Such a thing is only natural, after all; and neglecting to do so would bode poorly for Kira's future as a darkstalker... the sooner she gets used to these new gifts, the better things will go for her. That much is certain.

What is also certain - or as near as can be - is the fact that she is disappointed when her attempt at that supernatural vampiric charm seems to have a minimal effect on the werewolf. He would have made a poor Immortal Breaker if he found himself easily swayed by their kind, as subterfuge and inhuman charisma are often the first respite of a cornered bloodsucker. Elder lycanthropes are one of the few creatures who can reliably pose even a middling threat to a competent vampire, precisely because their ferocious will is incredibly difficult to bend or control.

Still, he is polite enough not to comment on the sudden look of disappointment - and the grimace that follows the girls' realization of that very look. There is not even an additional smirk from the werewolf at the petulant display, though he surely finds some small humour in it. A frustrated vampire is an amusing sight, given its stark contrast to their immense power and frightful reputation. Valkenhayn stands silent, letting her play out her moment of embarrassment as she turns her back on the werewolf.

Finally, the suspense is broken - Kira seemingly making a bit of theatre out of revealing her single question. A flair for the dramatic? Valkenhayn is /sure/ she will fit right in with her new kindred.

And when she gives voice to her desired inquiry, one eyebrow on the lycanthrope's face arches suddenly. There can be no disguising that reaction - he is taken by surprise... but despite that shocking question, his initial response comes quickly and dryly.

"How clever."

A pause, as he ponders how to handle this unexpected request... he was expecting any number of things in response to his offer, but this was clearly not one of them. A newfound sense of respect seems to be granted to this strange young one who has displayed both bravery and wiles in her query. Finally, and almost hesitantly, Valkenhayn speaks - his voice is low and grave when his words finally come out.

"Though you may not understand what it is you ask, I suppose I am honour-bound to answer."

Anyone who has met the butler even briefly wouldn't be surprised that he feels obliged to answer Volkoff's question, as unexpected as it may have been. He is a representative of House Alucard, and he said he would answer /one/ question - with no restrictions or limits spoken in regards to topic. It would be a deriliction of duty to refuse a response, and that would wound Valkenhayn far more grievously than any physical harm.

"It would be best if I tell Lady Alucard of your wishes; to pass on a request is the most I can guarantee. She will decide whether or not such a meeting might please her. I /can/ assure you I will not argue the point on your behalf."

His voice is plain and honest, there is no conceivable situation in which he would ever attempt to sway Madam Rachel. To do so would be unimaginable; he exists to serve, and only rarely offers his own viewpoint on a matter - generally in times of great danger when he cannot bring himself to remain silent, or when prompted to do so by his Mistress.

He doesn't give Kira an opportunity to signal her approval or disapproval of his offer; there is one last thing he has to say, and he does so accompanied with a sweeping gesture of his arm... when the motion stops, one finger on his gloved hand is extended towards a large, mansion-like structure - far in the distance, what seems like miles away... only visible with the keen sight of a darkstalker.

"Of course, you are an invited guest during the Blood Moon, and so are free to roam the grounds until the end of the festivities. If you were inclined to take that opporunity - and it is a rare one, I can assure you of that - you might find Her in the residence... but I can make no promises as to her mood at present."

"The Castle has not spoken with so loud a voice in centuries, or longer... I do not know the meaning of it, but it is entirely possible that you would find the Lady... unwilling to converse, at present."

His hand drops back to his side, that cold gaze moving to stare straight into the eyes of the young vampire. Gone is any sympathetic tint to his eyes, expression or voice. An answer to her question has been given; whether she likes the options presented or not, it is up to her to decide and take the first step on the path of her new life. And if she is expecting any further words from the butler, any reassurance or comfort, she would be disappointed as he regards her in silence.

Despite her attempts to be less obvious about it, Kira's expression becomes one of obvious satisfaction at the way her question takes the butler off guard. No doubt he'd expected her to ask for some mundane information about this or that specific issue. Things that would certainly help her, in some small way, but would be no where nearly as useful as having access to a wellspring of experience the likes of another vampire noble. After all, he'd suggested it himself, and she's yet to find a flaw in the advice Valkenhayn has given her thus far.

"Yes, I was rather proud of it myself."

The little vampire princess all but preens as she responds to the obviously rhetorical statement unprompted, clearly enjoying an opportunity to take the offensive in their exchange. Thus far she's been doing nothing but apologizing and begging for help - hardly a fitting position to be in for one of her newfound stature. If she were conversing with another vampire then perhaps her timidness might be understandable but he's little more than a domesticated servant by his own admission.

Her little surge of pride isn't enough to completely overwhelm her common sense, however. While she'd nearly torn his throat open after only being a vampire for a few hours, there's no way for her to know if he held himself back in their initial exchange. She doesn't have anything resembling a baseline to compare herself to since she's not even sure what exactly her own capabilities are, much less his. Still, that's no reason not to expect the deference she is due from a mere butler now that they've established an understanding of civility between them.

Servant or not, the girl listens very carefully to what Valkenhayn has to say. He knows more than she does right now and if that's going to change then she needs the information he has. As he gestures, her gaze shifts over towards the distant castle, the ancient edifice still looming tall and ominous in the blood red light. A little shiver runs through her and she casually turns away, trying not to make it obvious that the sight unsettles her.

"While I... appreciate the opportunity that your mistress has extended by allowing guests into her home, I'm afraid I will have to respectfully decline. Staying any longer would, um... infringe upon her already generous hospitality, no doubt."

She's had quite enough of that place for one evening. Going back inside is not an option she plans to give any real consideration. Fortunately, it seems that Valkenhayn agrees with that assessment - though for different reasons. If Lady Alucard has her hands full dealing with other pressing matters then Kira's visit would largely be wasted now, assuming she gets an audience at all. It might be another one of those supernatural faux paus for her to interrupt the host of the party with matters unrelated to the festivities. It would seem her best bet is to take him up on the offer to pass along her desire to have an audience and hope that vampires don't consider 'twenty years from now' to be an acceptable time frame for scheduling appointments.

Kira chews on her lower lip delicately as she considers her words, one tiny fang protruding from the corner of her mouth. She needs to present this request in a manner that seems appropriately respectful without sounding desperate. Even when she was a human she could smell that sort of thing a mile away and it seems unwise to expect that a supernatural apex predator won't have the same sort of instinct.

"Please inform Lady Alucard," she says, putting on her regal bearing and authoritative tone once again. "That I am grateful for the invitation to the evening's festivities... and that Lady Volkov requests an audience with her at her earliest convenience to discuss matters pertaining to... the events of this evening."

It feels more than a bit pompous to refer to herself as 'Lady' but she doesn't let that show. Perhaps a bit of haughtiness might help her look the part a little better, if Maximoff is anything to judge by. She's never liked people who put on airs but you know what they say - when in Transylvania, do as the Nosferatu do.

...okay, no one says that, but it's been working thus far.

Ah, so the young one has sense enough to choose the safer path forward; letting Valkenhayn bear a message on her behalf, rather than approaching Lady Alucard in her own dwelling... interrupting the Observer unexpectedly was a risky proposition on the best of days, but downright foolish during the Rosalia. Who knows what else she has to deal with in this strange time on the Estate?

'I'm afraid I will have to respectfully decline..'

As soon as those words are spoken by the vampire, Valkenhayn nods sharply and reaches one hand into the pocket of his jacket - still shredded around the chest area from the girl's initial attack. When he withdraws his hand, a small, golden circular tube is held between thumb and index finger, clearly handling it as gently as possible. Grabbing the threaded cap on one end of the object, he twists it clockwise until it is loose enough to pull off.

As soon as the tube is uncapped, a thin roll of ancient, crumbling papyrus slowly inches out of the top end. Clearly possessing some will of its own, the writing material floats into the bracing midnight chill, making one quick trip around the butler before hovering a few feet in front of his face. The papyrus - nearly translucent and seemingly being held together by a faint, arcane glow - unfurls itself in the air between Valkenhayn and Kira.

He has spent enough time as a dutiful servant that he is able to anticipate the flow of conversation, and he knows that someone like /this/ will no doubt have a very specifically worded message to pass along.

And of course, the vampire doesn't disappoint, making clear the exact content of the message she wishes to leave for Madam Rachel. As she does, Valkenhayn slowly pulls the black leather glove off of his right hand - revealing immaculate, well-manicured fingernails. Lifting that hand up into the air and extending his index finger, the digit begins to shine with a faint purple as it approaches the floating scroll of mystical papyrus.

As he drags the fingernail across the surface of the material, the lines he traces leave bright, brilliant, glowing black cursive in its place. 'Lady Volkoff is grateful for the invitation to your glorious festivities, and requests a meeting with...' it goes on, more or less transcribing Kira's words - but Valkenhayn adds a few additional niceties and some flowery language, perhaps to make the request more deferential in its nature.

Once he's finished, a quick snap of his fingers causes the scroll to roll itself up and speed back into the open cap of the thin, golden tube he still holds in his other hand. Carefully screwing the lid back onto the object and depositing it back into his pocket, Valkenhayn's eyes rejoin Kira's as he slides the glove back onto his dominant hand.

"Well, I have your message, stranger - and it will be delivered promptly. Do not worry yourself about being found, should Lady Alucard agree to your request; there is nary a place in this realm or any other that you could hide from Her."

Lifting one hand up to his face, one leather-clad finger idly scritches at the underside of his chin - doing so as he regards the form and bearing of 'Lady Volkoff' closely. Will he see this one again, he wonders, not having the faintest clue as to an answer. Her life has just gotten immeasurably more complex - and perhaps dangerous, as she is now an enemy to those who hunt immortals... as well as being the object of scorn for many of her fellow kind, though Valkenhayn himself is unaware of her specific past as an enemy of the darkstalkers.

"The weight of immortality is a heavy burden to carry all alone. I do hope you find what you're looking for. I assume you shall be taking your leave of these grounds, then?"

There is no hint of menace, threat or even expectation in his voice... but it might be clear, all the same. This is no safe place for Kira Volkoff to dwell too long in, even with the powers she now possesses.

Magical stationary. That's a new one.

It isn't quite as convenient or expedient as firing off an email but it certainly has a lot more pizzazz. She wonders if Zhenya might be able to learn that trick. The woman is already an exceedingly able secretary but there's something to be said for style. Besides, she has a reputation to uphold now as some sort of dark lord of Spookyville. Guess she should start shopping around for old castles and furniture with lots of red velvet.

Kira's eyes narrow slightly as the message is recorded, reading the elegant cursive through the ghostly thin parchment as the butler's finger dances across the surface. He doesn't copy her words verbatim but that's probably for the best considering her inexperience in dealing with such creatures. Judging by the manner in which he embellishes her words there was about two hundred percent less ass-kissing than he believed necessary to address the mistress of the castle.

Whatever. She's done far more demeaning things to butter people up than stroke their ego a little. If it gets her any closer to figuring out what the hell is going on then she'll happily pucker up. After all, she'll have plenty of time to mete out whatever retribution is earned by those who try to take advantage of her while she's stumbling around to get her bearings. And no one holds a grudge like she does.

It is Kira's turn to quirk a questioning eyebrow as she is informed, very politely - don't call us, we'll call you. Another glance is directed at the castle very briefly and she gives a nod in reply. That suits her just fine. The less she has to see of this crazy place the better. Hopefully any future business she has with the supernatural community can be carried out somewhere less Stoker-esque.

Now that she's got that settled, it's time to get the fuck out of this awful place. Her first order of business is going to be to find Zhenya. That is not a conversation that she's looking forward to having. As much as she'd like to just sneak off and think about how to explain this mess she doesn't have that luxury. Her companion had been at her side in the forest when she'd been whisked away by whatever dark contrivances are at Lady Alucard's disposal. She'll probably be worried half to death already; the shock of learning of Kira's fate might well finish the job.

"You're damn right I'll be taking my fucking leave," she mutters, her thoughts slipping out verbally in a moment of distraction.

Obviously whatever force inspires her to speak with more dignity doesn't yet extend to her subconscious mind. Her eyes widen as she realizes that the words came out somewhere other than just in her head. The girl's cheeks turn a shade brighter, some of the werewolf's blood rushing up to color them in a flash of embarrassment. She lifts a hand to cover her mouth, staring sheepishly at Valkenhayn in awkward silence for several seconds. That is definitely getting put on her vampire report card.

"I, uh..."

Clearing her throat softly, Kira turns to glance around at the vast array of hedge maze surrounding the courtyard. She very pointedly does not sweep her gaze over the massive hole still gaping in the middle of one of the rose beds. The less said about that the better.

"Which way was the exit, exactly?"

Valkenhayn's eyes sharply narrow at the vulgarity expressed by the immortal girl; in his mind such language is entirely unsuitable for one who intends to be a part of the realm's natural aristocrat class. A brief look of disgust crosses his previously stoic and professional features, clearly unimpressed by Kira's slip of the tongue. Even though it is expected that one would not settle completely into the dignified bearing of her kind so quickly, it is nevertheless unacceptable behaviour in the eyes of the prim and proper custodian of the Estate.

Not to mention that it seems entirely out of place coming from such an innocent looking young one... though it is likely such appearances are merely a clever disguise, hiding a monster within. He knows a thing or two about that, as well.

And though he might normally refuse to to pass along a message for one who has shown such disrespect in both tone and speech, he has already given his word to do so - and as a creature of duty, he cannot be expected to go back on such a thing. It would be entirely unprofessional, even in the face of such a lack of manners. Fortunately for Kira, she waited until after the agreement had been reached before letting her true feelings slip; whether it was cunning or luck on her part, he cannot tell.

He does, however, leave her with another stern warning before responding to her question...

"I do hope you are able to control such emotions when in the presence of Lady Alucard, should you gain an audience. For your /own/ sake."

With that said, he reaches into his jacket pocket once more - the opposite side from where he withdrew the magical papyrus scroll. Pulling out what appears to be a closed pocket watch, it seems... less extravagant than one might expect. Instead of gold, silver, or some other precious metal it looks to be crafted of a cheap, impure copper alloy - perhaps bronze? And to say it looks aged and decrepit would be an understatement; rust and corrosion covering the object, rubbing off on Valkenhayn's gloves as he turns the item around in his hand.

Finding the clasp on the side, he clicks it down and the cover of the circular disk opens up in a sudden flare of white light. The brilliance coalesces in an instant, taking the shape of a long, thin, ghastly finger - the clawed tip pointing to a place vaguely north-west of their current position. Valkenhayn does not elaborate on its purpose; it should go without saying that it points the way to the most convenient exit from this sprawling, labyrinthine castle. Snapping it shut suddenly - the pointing digit of light disappearing in a flash as it is sucked back inside the arcane object - he spins it around his fingers as he maintains eye contact with the vampire.

"Follow this," he says, tossing the closed 'compass' up in the air towards the vampire in front of him, seemingly unconcerned whether or not she is able to catch it before it strikes the ground. She may find it odd that the werewolf is giving her such an object - but that surprise would disappear once she leaves the Castle grounds... once past these walls, the item will simply turn to dust in her fingers as it ages rapidly and dissolves.

"Being from the earthrealm, you may be aware already; this region is a place where the borders between your world and mine soften and melt. To keep things brief, they have some experience with your kind in the villages surrounding these mountains."

Is this a warning? Given his cold and unemotional tone, there is little indication one way or another - speaking as though it were merely an interesting fact he wishes to share with the young vampire.

"Come to think of it, there is a place nearby - a few kilometers to the south-west of these peaks. The village of Tartlau," he speaks the Germanic name of the village - rather than the local Romanian - with an impeccable accent, clearly having some experience with the language, "In their language, it is called 'Prejmer'. Some 8,000 souls, or thereabouts... villagers all; no guardians, no hunters, no defense against beasts from this realm. A shame, really."

He leaves Kira a moment to ponder the purpose behind such information, before his voice comes out once again to shed some light upon this strange bit of trivia.

"If you wanted to stop and sample the local 'cuisine', you might find that a good place to start."

Judging from the look the butler gives her, that little slip up was just as bad as Kira thought. The nobility of humanity always did have a stick up their ass, especially when it comes to things like etiquette and decorum; seems like vampires aren't any different. There has to be rules and regulations for everything in order to better facilitate that sense of smug superiority. All the more reason to meet with this ancient vampire as quickly as possible. Wouldn't want to go offending people by sticking out the wrong pinky when sucking the life out of someone.

Considering she had only been prevented from running her mouth off earlier by Maximoff's compulsion upon her as her sire, it is definitely luck that she managed to avoid outing herself as the crass and vulgar person that lurks underneath the innocent veil of flesh the dark lord had foisted upon her. But upon reflection she finds that quite odd. She's never had a problem swearing up a storm before and certainly wouldn't have been nearly as reticent to disrespect this arrogant dog in the past, threat or not. She's spent her entire life mouthing off to people who were in a position to do unpleasant things to her. That insouciant disregard for danger is part of her natural charm and why so many other grizzled bad asses like her so much.

Now she's all but dizzy from the embarrassment at letting slip a couple of naughty words. That sort of language feels oddly slimy coming out of her mouth now, like she's violating some part of herself by stooping to such debased use of words. There are plenty of other ways to express her displeasure without being vulgar and it's a far more impressive feat to wield gentle terms to get her point across than to-

Kira stops and blinks suddenly, looking confused. What the heck is - what the FUCK is going on in her head right now? Is this more of that damned vampire's influence? Did he think to humiliate her by turning her into some whimpering child unable to even curse properly without melting into an anxious mess? She hopes not because it's fucking well working!

"R-right... sorry..."

As if to rub it in further, the small vampire finds herself apologizing on reflex. Damnit, she's going to have to do something about this. There's no way anyone is going to respect her if she looks like she's about to fall apart every time they so much as scowl at her.

The reveal of the crummy old pocket watch gets her full attention. Every time this guy pulls something out of his coat it turns out to be pretty interesting and this is no exception. A hand lifts to shield her face as the light flashes unexpectedly but she manages to catch a glimpse of the ghostly finger pointing the way before he snaps the thing shut and tosses it at her. She catches it easily in the palm of her already upraised hand and peers at the device, making a face when some of the corrosion comes off under her fingers. The damn thing looks like it's about to fall apart but she can feel the faint traces of power contained within. For some reason, she's certain that it will last long enough to see her to the castle's gates and not a moment longer.

Her gaze shifts to regard Valkenhayn with a sidelong glance as he offers her one final tidbit of unexpected information. The location of a nearby village seems like a strange thing to point out until he elaborates about its lack of any sort of protection against supernatural predators; predators like her.

Another surge of disgust churns her stomach at being reminded of that particular part of the whole immortality package. She'd gotten enough of a taste of blood to calm her down, largely in part due to how potent the essence of the werewolf is, but she can already tell that it isn't enough to fully quench the thirst. Maybe it never will be. Maybe that's why they call it a curse. Either way, she can't go back to Zhenya if there's a possibility she might lose control again. Even if she could restrain herself around her lover, there's no telling what would happen if she wandered back into the Dragoon base half starved. She's just going to have to get over this squeamishness. Survival is all that matters.

"I appreciate the suggestion," she says, keeping her expression and voice carefully neutral. She offers Valkenhayn another curtsey, this one just as clumsy as the last. "Until we meet again. Fare well."

It takes a lot of effort not to simply turn and start bolting in the last direction the compass had pointed. Kira manages to wheel around and scamper off without looking too hurried, at least until she's put several of the hedge rows between herself and the werewolf. Once she's certain there isn't anyone watching her any more, she grabs hold of the fabric of her dress, hikes it up so as not to catch on the foliage, and runs as fast as her slender legs can manage towards the exit.

Politely nodding in acknowledge of the girl's flustered apology, Valkenhayn seems content not to press the issue regarding her improper use of language. It is only natural that one would be frustrated in this situation - he can only imagine the confusion and anger that she is feeling at this moment... and fortunately for her, that outburst occured in the presence of one who has some empathy when it comes to losing control. Once upon a time, he was quite the vulgar, savage beast himself - it took the strongest Lord in the realm of Makai to domesticate the wolf and bend it to a life of service.

"A pleasure," he says smoothly, offering a brief but deep bow in her direction, "I hope we meet again under such cordial terms, Miss Volkoff."

He leaves it unspoken that he has no say in that matter; if Lady Alucard decides that this new immortal is a threat, well... that would be rather unfortunate for the newly-turned Black Dragon - or perhaps for Valkenhayn himself?

The vampire turns to go, and each step away from the werewolf seems to draw shadows away from his spot in the couryard - even though it remains an eternal midnight within the Castle walls. Something about the darkness, as she takes her leave, becomes less oppressive, less dangerous in nature. His hyperawareness seems to die down to its normal levels, senses calming as the young girl recedes from view...

And then she's gone, leaving Valkenhayn standing alone in the eerily quiet and still courtyard as he ponders this turn of events. Was the creation of this new immortal part of Madam Rachel's schemes, a source of cheap entertainment, or merely another unpredictable side effect of the Rosalia? He would never presume to question her plans, but he does find the situation perplexing to say the least... after all, vampires are rarely keen to share their power - and a new face in their closed circle has the potential to shake up the established order.

Then again, since the rising of the Blood Moon he has sensed many changes occuring within the Castle walls... and heard the very stones that make up its foundations calling out with a strange voice. A deep inhalation of breath that causes his chest to rise and shoulders to tense... then a slow, controlled exhale - as the fury of battle, restrained for the length of his conversation with Kira Volkoff, slowly leeches out of his system.

Shaking his head, the loyal butler turns his attention back to the heavily damaged clocktower - now sporting even more chunks missing from its looming walls. One hand comes up to trace gloved fingertips across the torn material on the front of his dress shirt and jacket.

"I hope this is part of your plan..." he says under his breath, eyes lifted up to the tower's spire which pierces the sky far above.

If not, he worries, the next time he meets that young girl matters might be under decidedly less friendly conditions. And wouldn't that be a tragedy?

Log created on 22:22:49 06/24/2021 by Valkenhayn, and last modified on 19:12:42 07/02/2021.