Appendix 1: Author's Notes by Chapter
Table of Contents
Of course, the first thing you should be aware of is that 1820 is the year mentioned in the Castlevania: Circle of the Moon story as the time at which Morris Baldwin put a magical seal on Dracula. I've read a lot of comments about CV:CotM that indicate some people look at it as less of a Castlevania game simply because the main characters don't carry the Belmont name. Since CotM is one of my favorite Castlevanias of all time, this bugs me a lot.
So, I set out writing this story to "legitimize" CotM by explaining a possible relationship between Morris Baldwin and Richter Belmont, as well as the connection between Morris and the Graves family. I will also later introduce a character who links the story to Legacy of Darkness, another of my favorites (it was SO much better than the original CV64 -- I really despise how Konami pushed KCEK around so much, making them release the game early, and then blaming them for the failure -- but I digress).
It is important right from the start for me to establish the historical timing of this story. On September 7, 1820, an 88% totality eclipse which lasted for approximately 5 minutes crossed parts of Transylvania and Wallachia. This was the longest and most complete solar eclipse to cross this area between the years 1200 and 2300, according to solar eclipse charts on the Internet, with the exception of the total solar eclipse which occured in 1999 and attracted world-wide tourism, some of which offered eclipse viewers the opportunity to visit historical sites related to Dracula. This possibly coincidental fact provides a thematic bridge to Aria of Sorrow, the implications of which I leave to the reader for exploration. This story starts on the full moon 15 days before the eclipse, which occured sometime between 1:00 and 3:00 am on August 24, 1820, according to my own calculations.
I should probably mention that this story was originally conceived as a game concept rather than a fanfic. I'm an aspiring game developer with a Computer Science degree, but I don't really have the resources to make a full-blown Castlevania fan game, so I've settled for turning it into a story.
The name Mas Valen is derived from Mas Tarken, the name of an evil sorcerer who was to be the main boss of a DOOM mod one of my online friends was working on, but never finished. Just a bit of a tribute to my pal.
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Here we learn what's happened to Richter, Alucard, and Maria since they put an end to Dracula back in 1797. The Symphony of the Night manual states that Richter was 24 at that time. This would have made him 19 when he fought in Dracula X, and 47 at the time of this story. I've read some fan material in the past that seemed confused on this matter in thinking there was no way Richter could have been alive by 1820, but this simply isn't true. While life spans were shorter in the past, these are Belmonts we're dealing with. I believe they are allotted a much longer time than most mortals, and some may have lived nearly to be centurians. I do not, however, believe that any of them were active warriors for much beyond Richter's age, so his expectation to be settling in for retirement is quite reasonable. The young age of his son is the primary barrier to this having happened.
After reading some of the great fanfics on the Castlevania Dungeon that have Alucard and Maria meet up and stay together, I decided to give them that fate here as well. I like it a lot more than one where Alucard ends up in a cave for 300 years again. Pick your favorite Alucard/Maria fanfic and assume it happens during the interim between SotN and this story.
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Bet you thought Richter was gonna jump out of bed, huh? Just a quick change of scenery to deny the readers' expectations.
I also enjoy keeping you in the dark about who this rider is for as long as possible. If this part were a movie, you literally wouldn't be able to see who the protagonist is until his cloak is ripped off by the werewolf.
Enter Morris Baldwin, the vampire hunter who later plays mentor to both his own son and Nathan Graves, and who is held hostage for use as a sacrifice by Dracula in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon.
Here I introduce a couple of cool ideas that will reoccur in action scenes throughout the story. First is the almost Matrix-like nature of the fighting. Sometimes the kind of crazy stuff Castlevania heroes can do, defying all the laws of physics, feels a bit like the kind of stuff in the Matrix, so I wanted to play that notion up a lot in this story.
Also, there's Morris's DSS cards. He only actually has a few at this point, and will pick up some more later on. His DSS abilities are intended to be more advanced than Nathan's were in CotM, and he can actually have two active combos at any time -- one offensive and one defensive. This is how he uses the offensive Whip Spin and yet still keeps his Blue Light Barrier spell ready for later. At the end when he reaches in his bag for another card, he's changing his offensive hand to the Blue Phoenix summoning. The teleportal trick he does isn't a DSS move -- it's more similar to Julius' move in Aria of Sorrow.
Hopefully you noticed some of the little Castlevania nuances that occur during this fight scene. There are the more obvious ones like the use of the dagger, cross, and holy water (although the dagger and cross do not work the same outside of Castlevania; they are just regular weapons here). There are also some other less obvious ones, like the dust that kicks up when Morris lands, the stomp move he performs on the first werewolf, and the backflip, which he probably learned while training alongside Richter.
Note that in the CotM concept art, Morris DOES carry an impressive dagger on his belt. I actually didn't notice this until after I wrote this chapter, and I think that's pretty cool ^_^
Although I don't clarify it here explicitly, the fact that Morris is on his way to Veros is a happy coincidence. We'll learn more about it later.
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The plot begins to thicken a bit as some of our principal characters meet up. Morris has not seen Maria since well before the time of SotN, and he knew her then through Richter, who we now know is his older cousin.
I'm not entirely decided on Morris's own age at this point, and I suppose it has no real bearing on the story. He actually looks rather old in CotM, which is only 10 years in the future from this story, but I believe he has aged relatively poorly (and I may explore the reasons for this in this story). Since he is Richter's cousin, it is likely there's no more than approximately 10 years' age difference between them, putting him in the neighborhood of 35, still young enough to be in his prime as a warrior.
So, why aren't any of these characters staying in inns during the dangerous Transylvanian nights, you might ask. As for Morris, he was just in a hurry, and believing the countryside to be safe, felt he should continue on, being only a day or so away from Veros when he made the decision. Maria and Alucard are in a terrible hurry as they've had to travel a great distance. Being so close, they felt no need to stop for the night in Fetra, a town which has historically never been friendly to any kind of supernatural happenings.
As you can see, I am keeping the geography of Castlevania II intact, interpreting the map of it which can be found in the NES Game Atlas as being a subsection of the Transylvanian basin. This is, of course, not a location of any of Vlad Tepes' historical castles, but the Castlevania games seem to have him jumping around between both provinces, and that is the view I take of it (Vlad Tepes' father was the ruler of Transylvania before his death; Vlad Tepes himself later ruled Wallachia to the south). Note that Castlevania has *NOT* arisen at its old location where it was destroyed by Simon Belmont (and possibly also by Trevor, and by Richter again in 1792 -- these locations are all VERY similar -- check out the intro movie to SotN, isn't that the final bridge you crossed in Castlevania II?). We will learn of the castle's location later on when it begins to factor into the story.
My original draft of the chapter ended before reaching the bridge, but I was not happy with leaving the rest of the journey for later, so I created the battle at the East Bridge and the subsequent, only lightly detailed passing of Berkeley mansion. The East Bridge retains some of its Castlevania II characteristics, since you could always be attacked by mermen, but in this time period it has been refined into a road that wagons can travel, and is no longer full of dangerous holes. Alucard's checking of the bridge is, however, a consequence of his knowledge of how unreliable it once was (keep in mind that he was alive to see it back then).
Maria shows off some of her familiar-oriented powers when she summons her trusty owl and his army of lesser birds. What better way to get rid of the typically endless mermen than to summon a giant flock of something else, I figured. Alucard gets to show off some of his traditional powers here too, and I couldn't resist having him turn into a wolf (though I did resist the tempta- tion to have him give Maria a goofy look in that form ;)
So, what's next? As always, you'll have to wait and see. But will those red eyes that Morris thought he saw in the mansion turn out to be nothing? Let's just say that I highly doubt it.
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Yep, those eyes were something, alright. Mas Valen himself is currently in residence within Berkeley Mansion, and he has most of his acolytes and his undead army with him searching for some kind of mysterious artifact that is of great power. What this artifact turns out to be will probably surprise you. Keep in mind that the mansion was originally constructed under the supervision of Dracula's minions, so it makes sense that there may be dark secrets hidden within it.
We get a small glimpse of some of Valen's powers, as he can teleport, manipulate darkness, and fly. We also see that he is cunning and knows exactly what kind of forces he is up against. By dispersing his minions throughout the Transylvanian basin, he has readied himself to make preemptive strikes against the Belmonts and their allies. We see that Morris's ambush in the woods was not an opportunistic one at all, but that it had been set up after Morris was seen riding through Fetra by a spy. The werewolves had been kept unaware of their prey's identity, lest they resist the suggestion to attack a powerful adversary.
We also see that Valen has a great ambition and ego. Just how far this extends and what he intends to accomplish remain a mystery so far, but his goals will be fully revealed in due time, and they will truly shock our heroes.
BTW, the name of this chapter is taken from the name of a classic Castlevania tune.
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Another high-contrast shift in settings brings us back to the Belmont Estate where it turns out Richter isn't sleeping so peacefully after all. Here I've begun to bring the two narratives back into one, leading directly up to the anticipated meeting of our various characters in Veros.
You get a bit more of a feel here for the size and splendor of the estate. Built and furnished by monies from the Church, the citizenry, and gold taken from the Dark Lord's castle (blessed many times by priests, of course), the Belmonts have lived here in relative comfort since the time of Simon. Simon himself was the first to live here after he lifted the curse and the people accepted him as a hero. All of these details are of my own making, of course, inspired somewhat by some other fanfics I've read.
Richter recalls his dialogue with Dracula the last time the two directly faced one another as he looks into the Blood Moon and feels the Dark Lord's power there. Keep in mind everything going on here is mental/spiritual. Richter takes Dracula's final line, though, and finally provides a suitable answer to it as his anger gets the better of him.
Maria's owl familiar has traveled a large distance in very little time, as it has at its disposal spiritual means of transportation. Richter understands what the owl wants to tell him intuitively and via a bit of empathic communication, enabled both by the familiar's power and by his Belmont blood.
At first I thought Richter should get to Veros without any drama, but that would simply be too easy, especially after the strength and preparedness of Mas Valen had been demonstrated so well in the previous chapter. Thus Jova is under siege by a group of vampires.
Ever wonder what would happen to a vampire if it transformed into a swarm of rats or flies and some of the parts of itself in that form were destroyed? I'm sure there's some existing fiction on that already, but my own take on it is that the vampire is unable to transform back to anything else for a long time afterward. It must stay as a swarm of loosely linked individuals until it recovers enough energy to heal itself. The grave injury Richter did to the vampire enabled him to feel better about seeming to just run off and leave the people of Jova hanging. He's not being a coward here, he's just realized how badly he needs to get to Veros, fast.
The title of this chapter is again taken from a tune from Castlevania II, this time one of my favorites. It is quite fitting given the time at hand in the story.
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In this chapter we will finally make it to Veros, and many important things will happen that will determine the direction of the rest of the story. Of course I'm not going to give those all away here, you'll have to read it as it is finished.
The chapter opens with a very chilling nightmare which appears to Morris as he is sleeping in the wagon. The dream is highly symbolic, with the dark transfiguration of the Vampire Killer, the departure of the spectre, and Morris's death signifying the end of the Belmont line. At the same time however, it could be foreshadowing of events to come. Alucard is able to see some of the images -- particularly the Vampire Killer's fate -- by studying Morris's mind, and while what he sees disturbs him greatly, he rightfully believes it is not an omen of things that cannot be stopped. How much Morris believes this right now remains to be seen.
If you're not familiar with the happenings in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, the appearance and forceful departure of this maiden spirit may be confusing to you. While I reject some of LoI's story as a corruption to the rest of the Castlevania timeline, at least until it is explained in some way that lets it make more sense, other elements of it I'm perfectly fine with, and one of those is the origin of the Vampire Killer. Born through the willing sacrifice of an innocence doomed to destruction by evil, the righteous fury and power of the whip have their roots in the spirit of Sara Trantoul, the lost love of Leon Belmont. Of course, I also believe this spirit isn't the only power of the whip. Its original alchemic properties are obvious, and it has also been blessed by many other entities, including the Poltergeist King, who had interactions with both Sonia and Trevor Belmont (and whom, at least according to some sources, at some point had possession of the whip for purposes of safe keeping).
In the second scene, Richter has some predictable trouble getting to Veros. He meets Tomas, the mysterious mage from the north of Spain, who helps him out in a somewhat unpredictable manner. This character WILL appear again, and will play a major role in the story. The full truth of his identity is not yet revealed, but I think that the astute fan should be able to ascertain many facts about this man that are not yet stated explicitly ;)
In the third and fourth scenes, the excruciatingly long wait for Veros is finally brought to a close! Richter has gone ahead to the Graves manor (hmm, such a familiar name that is...), and Alucard, Maria, and Morris are just behind him. The man who was on the path is obviously Tomas, and I hope that I didn't need to explain that for anyone to realize :P Morris once again shows off an interesting new DSS ability which allows him an effect somewhat akin to the Lens of Truth in Zelda games -- the ability to enhance his Belmont spiritual sense and immerse himself fully within the spiritual plane in order to see the "truth" that lies behind reality. This ability is able to overcome even the powerful cloaking which Tomas regularly applies to conceal himself in the dangerous line of work he does (which will be explained later ;).
I feel I should now mention the artistic debt I owe to one Paul "Mormegil" who wrote the very cool fanfic "Castlevania: Genesis & Revelations" which was once hosted on the Castlevania Dungeon. His fic inspired mine in many ways (so much so that I fear it may unintentionally border on plagiarism in a couple of places >_<), and in this chapter I make an explicit allusion to his fanfic when I speak of Saint Wilhelm. In his fanfic, it is a Catholic church and monastery found in Veros. This is just my way of paying respect to a fellow author ^_^
Note the pseudonym that Alucard gives the guard -- Lecarde. If you know something about Castlevania Bloodlines, this should intrigue you ;) Other than that, I shall say no more.
This chapter is finished now, and is somewhat longer than the ones that came before. I've been given complaints about the first 5 chapters being too short, and I agree (several of them should really be fused). But, I'm going to leave those chapters as they are, and simply focus on giving the newer ones more meat.
Once again, a Castlevania tune serves as the title of this chapter.
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NOTE: This chapter is still in draft and is unfinished. It may change without warning and will be greatly expanded.
Since the point of this page is to be my notes, and not simply a mostly redudant play-by-play summarization of the story, I figured I would put some of my detailed character notes here. This should help people get to know some of the characters of Crescent Moon Concerto a little better, as some of their details have either been glossed over, or have been saved for later exposition. A bit of this could be considered spoiler material possibly, so if that matters to you, you may want to wait until after Chapters 7 and 8 are written (I intend to reveal most of what's not been revealed yet in the events immediately to come).
TO BE CONTINUED...
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Appendix 2: The Castle
I have designed a complete map for the Castlevania which our heroes will be entering and fighting through.
A few interesting points about the castle:
This castle is quite hybridized, and contains areas based on the maps of Symphony, CotM, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow. It also has a couple of influences from Legacy of Darkness, and even Castlevania IV. It is primarily intended to be a transitional castle between SotN and CotM, since this story occurs between the two.
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Appendix 3: Map of Transylvania
This is a map of a subsection of the Transylvanian Basin from the Castlevania II portion of the NES Game Atlas, altered to point out locations pertinent to this story. I have taken the minor liberty of assuming that the southern mountain range of the real basin is immediately to the south of this map, making Jova and Veros both important border towns near Wallachia. This story will move into Wallachia in the later parts, but no map to those portions will be provided, since there is no precedent for Wallachia's layout in the Castlevania universe.
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All original content copyright © 2006 James Haley. Permission is granted to distribute and create derivative works from this story in any format under the condition that this notice remains intact.