1095 - Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
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In the elevent century, a time of descent into the Dark Ages had begun in Europe. As the power of monarchs evaporated, feudal lords arose and bickered over their former masters' lands. Within this chaotic framework, orders of knights arose to defend their realms with honor and valor.
Seeking to increase its own power, the Church brought about the Gregorian Reforms. The knights were grouped into companies who were now to fight not each other but heretics in the name of God. Amongst all these companies, one was said to be completely invincible: the company of one Leon Belmont and one Mathias Cronqvist. While Leon was courageous and unstoppable in battle, Mathias possessed an unparalleled tactical genius.
Mathias, however, would find his ultimate challenge in life elsewhere. One day as he returned from battle victorious and prepared to celebrate with his wife Elizabetha, he learned that she had passed away. His grief became so great that he could no longer stand, let alone fight, and he became totally bedridden.
Soon the papacy launched its deadly campaigns against the Seljuk Turks and even the Orthodox Church known otherwise as the Crusades. Many knights were sent away never to return, and their strength was sapped. At the same time, as though to take advantage of this situation, a mysterious army of monsters arose in the forests of Wallachia and Transylvania, the very provinces which Leon's knights were assigned to protect. However, the Church would authorize no campaigns against enemies outside its own political interests, and thus Leon found himself impotent in the face of grave danger.
Not long after this crisis began, Mathias sent Leon a message: the monsters' point of origin was a dark castle known as "Eternal Night," and Leon's beloved fiancee, Sara Trantoul, had been kidnapped and taken there. Leon had no choice but to renounce his titles and set off to save her.
Leon was soon surprised by an old man living in the forest near the castle. His name was Rinaldo Gandolfi, and he was a skilled alchemist. The man lead Leon back to his quaint cottage, where he told him of the source of the darkness -- the vampire Walter Bernhard, who possessed the Ebony Stone, one of alchemy's greatest creations. If one obtained both the Ebony and Crimson stones, they would become god-like. To entertain himself, the fiend would take things of value to vampire hunters, forcing them to battle to their dooms in hopeless duels atop the fog-enshrouded towers of Eternal Night. Before bidding Leon adieu, Rinaldo bequeathed to him two gifts: the powerful Whip of Alchemy he created using an ancient text given to him by none other than Mathias, and an enchantment upon his gauntlet which allowed him to use magic.
Finally reaching the Pagoda of the Misty Moon after defeating the castle's five guardians, Leon confronted Walter, who appeared bearing Sara in arm. The vampire handed over the girl immediately, saying that she was no longer of any use. Enraged, Leon leapt into battle and landed a mighty blow on Walter with the whip, but the vampire merely scoffed at the effort and was not at all harmed. Walter challenged Leon to a moonlight duel on the uppermost floor before vanishing. Seeing that Sara was hurt, Leon rushed her back to Rinaldo.
Rinaldo discovered that though Sara was still alive, Walter had bitten her and infected her with the curse of vampirism. Unless Leon could defeat Walter immediately, Sara would be doomed to transform into a creature of the night. Unfortunately, Leon lacked any means to damage Walter. This is when Rinaldo had an idea that to Leon seemed like madness. If Leon were to destroy Sara with the Whip of Alchemy, then the part of Walter which she carried would fuse with his rage and the power of the whip to form a new weapon which could utterly destroy the vampire.
Unbeknownst to the men, Sara had regained consciousness and eavesdropped on their conversation. Realizing the hopelessness of her situation and the great opportunity now presented to save others from what would otherwise be her own dark fate, she volunteered to become a willing sacrifice. Leon was torn, but finally agreed. Coiling back the whip with grave sorrow and burning rage, he struck Sara a lethal blow, and as Rinaldo had predicted, the Whip of Alchemy was transformed into the mighty Vampire Killer.
Leon raced back to confront Walter once more. The vampire was unimpressed, and he goaded Leon by declaring that his actions were nothing less than a gift to the man, by which he received a weapon of great power. Walter was soon to be greatly impressed, however, as he was soundly defeated. Still proud and unable to accept his newfound weakness, Walter boasted that he would return even from death with his full strength. But, before Leon could finish him, the Grim Reaper suddenly appeared and extracted Walter's life force, who then offered it to Mathias, who appeared alongside the fiend, bearing the Crimson Stone which he had somehow recovered.
Mathias explained to the bewildered Leon that the reason for all of this was Elizabetha. Mathias had fought tirelessly for God, but had not been spared the suffering of losing his wife, and he blamed God for her death. He declared, "For if limited life is God's decree, then I shall defy it!" He thought that Leon, having lost Sara, might also join him in eternal life, pointing out how Leon had destroyed Walter with his hatred. Leon countered that although he had struck down Walter with hatred, he did it so that others would live, which is what Sara wanted -- he did not believe that Elizabetha would be pleased with what Mathias had done. Mathias, disgusted, simply left and said to Death, "He's all yours."
Leon was forced to battle Death, but the power of the Vampire Killer was proven supreme when he defeated the celestial being, who also bragged of his impending return. Leon, however, had a message for Death to bring to Mathias: "You have become a cursed being, and I will never forgive you. This whip and my kinsmen will destroy you someday. The Belmont clan will hunt the night!"
Mathias, however, went into hiding in foreign lands, where he continued to curse and defy God all his days. He took the title of "Lord of Vampires and King of the Night." So was born the first Dark Lord.
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All original content copyright © 2005 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.