In the 16th Century, the world was a bleak place. Hidden in the corners of every society were monstrous creatures, Demons who preyed on mortals. Few places had as great an infestation as Europe with daily accounts of Demons and malevolent spirits. The surviving Demon Hunters were stretched to their limits…The town of Burgmont lay west of a mountain range that overlooked the sea where a number of noble families lived in Burgmont under the protection of Count Constantin. He was an enigmatic man who lived in his castle atop the mountain range. But, under his rule, the Demons were kept at bay. Though that isn’t to say the town was anywhere near perfect…
Men and women hurriedly walk the dreary streets of Burgmont. The skies blotted out by cloud, the roads cracked and damaged, and many of its buildings worn or destroyed by the repeated Demon attacks. It was often quicker and safer to simply expand the town and constantly built around the ruined buildings. The nobles kept their homes hidden within the town. Should a Demon attack the poor will make ideal fodder for them should Burgmont’s mazelike winding roads fail to make them lose their heading. A single estate remained in its original location near the main roads. The mansion sat hidden behind a fence of silver and belonged to the illustrious Delacroix family. Yet the main structure, like much of Burgmont, had begun to wither and decay. Overcome with vines while the grass and trees grew unchecked. A couple now stood at its gate looking past the pristine gate to the old relic of a building.
“Are you sure he isn’t dead?” The man questions, with the ever-increasing size of Burgmont, there were few places that remained constant. The things that did were often the result of its inhabitants being victims of the Demons.
“Apparently.” his wife replies. “Sometimes you can see a light from the windows at night.”
“He sullies the title of Baron. Staying hidden in his house all day with nothing to show for it…it’s pathetic!”
“Thank god he’s the last Delacroix…since he was born that family went to ruin faster than this town.”
“Better them than us.”
Baron Salvatore Delacroix was the only member of his family that remained in Burgmont. With his parent’s departure, he was left alone without even a single servant to his name. The title of Baron was just a reminder of the past. The reclusive alchemist rarely left his dark second-floor bedroom. A single ray of light shone in from a lone window. Papers and books were scattered about the room haphazardly on the edges of the room away from the window. Various alchemic tools sat on his desk. Salvatore himself sat reading a book. With a frustrated sigh, he throws the book across the room.
“All this research and I’m no closer to making it…” he thinks to himself taking a deep breath, for years he had been working on the fabled Elixir of Life and was no closer to completing it. Salvatore was beginning to wonder if it was a fool’s errand or if he was just looking at it wrong. He closes his eyes and memories of the past begin to play before him. Memories of his youth and why he was desperate for the Elixir of Life in the first place.
Twenty years ago, before Burgmont was under daily attacks from Demons, the Delacroix Estate shone white like most of the town. Its halls were filled with servants, the yard was green and luscious, and many both admired and envied it. Salvatore, now eight years old, spent his days sealed inside his room, trying to remember what the outside world was like. His elder sister Serena tended to him day after day. Her jet black hair was held back in a sparkling headdress that shone an emerald and sapphire hue matching the dress she wore. Her eyes soft like her skin and clear with optimism.
“Serena, can I go outside?” the young Salvatore asked meekly. She was the only one who cared for him and even the servants avoided him and nobody would explain why.
“I’m sorry Sal, you know mother and father wouldn’t allow it.” she apologizes.
“But everyone else gets to go outside and play all day…But I only get three rooms and can’t even see what it’s like outside…”
“You know it’s dangerous for you outside.” she reminded him regretfully. She hated seeing him sad but there was little she could do to help him.
“I know…” he responded hollowly with head hung low.
“I guess…it couldn’t hurt to try going out tonight.” Serena sighed knowing it was a bad idea but unwilling to let her brother continue to be sad.
“Really?!” he blurted out excitedly.
“Just promise not to tell mother or father okay?” she ordered receiving an ecstatic nod.
That night, the pair snuck out of the estate. Even if it was just for a brief few minutes, Serene wanted Salvatore to see the outside freely. Together, they walked into the nearby forest that was connected to the Delacroix Estate. It wasn’t especially large and had little wildlife which let it remain hidden, sealed behind the estate’s gates and the town that was built around it all. To Salvatore, this was all nostalgic despite his young age. The greenery, the fresh air, the small fuzzy rabbits scurrying into a shelter for the night, so many things he had forgotten. So many things he only remembered from texts.
“Look at the fireflies, Serena! Look! Look!” he said excitedly. She smiles sweetly at her brother’s excitement.
“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”
“I love you Serena.” he ran into his sister’s arms and hugged her tight before returning to his admiration. “Hey, Sere-” he began to speak while turning back to Serena. But he’s cut off when she holds him tight. “Serena?” he asks confused before feeling something on his cheek. Glancing at it, he finds it’s a strange red liquid that makes his heart pound. “Blood?”
However, before he can question it further Serena is pulled from him and lifted high into the air. While he was focused on the fireflies and Serena was focused on him, neither noticed the Werewolf that had snuck up on the pair. It stood a massive 10 feet with its claws dug deep into Serena’s chest. The brown fur that covered its body stained with her blood. Her life was sacrificed in place of his. Just a small boy with crimson eyes, pale skin, and short straight silvery hair. The Werewolf was content with having a human for dinner but he wasn’t about to turn down a young Vampire for an appetizer.
“Don’t be frightened, child.” the Werewolf said through a grin of razor-sharp teeth. He drops Serena with a flick of his wrist and inches towards Salvatore. “I won’t make this any more painful than it needs to be.”
“S-Sal…run…” Serena mustered all her strength to speak but could only reach a whisper with her lungs pierced.
Hearing his sister’s dying words and seeing all the blood sparked something inside of Salvatore he had never felt before now. A blinding all-consuming fury and sorrow. “GIVE ME BACK MY SISTER!” he howled with fanged barred. His body instinctively lunged at the Werewolf’s neck and latches on as hard as he can. While his teeth could break the skin he was still small and his bite nowhere near strong enough to be more than a minor nuisance to the towering beast.
“Cute.” he taunted flicking Salvatore from his neck. The Werewolf prepared to finish his prey but stops when he ear twitches catching a nearby sound. Footsteps rapidly approaching from behind.
“Begone creature of the night!” a male voice called out.
Sprinting at top speed was a young man in his early 20s, a Demon Hunter renowned throughout all of Europe. Clad in a scarlet long coat over a dark red and black outfit. His boots and gloves a matching black hue, belts strapped an assortment of silver tipped daggers to his chest, and wild raven hair flowed down onto his shoulders. Remy La Roux never failed to slay a Demon he set his sights on. He leaped towards his target while simultaneously drawing a pair of Bladed Silver Tonfa from under his long coat, and swung his arms across his chest in the shape of an X. The strength and momentum of his swing combined with the fine edge and silver forging made his swings lethal. The X shape it created severed the beast’s head as well as its arms before Remy landed in front of Salvatore.
Remy had caught the beginning of Salvatore’s brief confrontation with the Werewolf and contemplated what to do. He had rarely seen child vampires let alone ones showing legitimate emotion over the death of someone. “It’s too late Demon. Your words won’t reach her.”
“But why?” Salvatore turned to the stranger in hopes of answers. The tears that fell from his eyes were endless overtaking the sudden burst of rage. “I just wanted to see the outside…” Remy remained silent unable to respond. Instinctively, Salvatore walks into Remy seeking comfort. The confused Demon Hunter complies with a pat on the back allowing him to cry into his leg.
After several minutes, Remy picked up Serena’s body and returns to the Delacroix Estate with Salvatore in tow. His father and mother, both stoic and cold figures. The beautiful sapphire and emerald jewelry they wore hid the ugliness they seldom held inside.
“My apologies Baron, but I was not quick enough to save your eldest.” Remy apologized to no response. “A Werewolf I was tracking had found its way into your forest. By the time I found it, the beast had killed your daughter and your son fought to avenge her.” he continued once again to no response. “Though he’s a Demon, he proved his mettle like none I’ve met before. But should he become a threat to those around him later I’ll return.”
“We had so many plans…” Antoine Delacroix, the current Baron of the Delacroix Estate, and father to both Serena and Salvatore thought to himself. “She was to unite our family with Baroness Moreau’s. So many plans…gone because of him…” his rage boiled before he finally speaks. “Thank you for returning our daughter to us. We’ll see to it she has a proper burial.” his message delivered he turned with his wife to leave. Neither taking notice of Salvatore’s existence.
Salvatore remains silent as he entered the Estate more alone now than ever before. All he wanted was the comforting embrace of sleep. But when he awoke, everyone was gone. His family and servants abandoned him to isolation and whatever fate it held. Being forced to fend for himself, Salvatore learned. Despite being alone he had more than enough information held within the library to teach him of the outside world. The first thing he researched was what it meant to be a Vampire. A fact he had never even considered yet made perfect sense. Why they never let him outside, the silver gates, the disdain everyone but dear Serena held for him, and even the most obvious fact he’d never be allowed near a reflective surface.
After much reading and contemplation, Salvatore eventually uncovered information on a certain mystical object that might rid him of his Vampirism and resurrect his sister. The Elixir of Life was a fabled alchemic object that was said to have no limits. All he needed to do was find out how to create it, and for twenty years that was his sole driving force. Tragically, his efforts have been largely in vain. Only being able to travel under the dark of night can be treacherous and it limited how frequently and how far he could travel beyond his gates.
The parade of thoughts ends when he hears a knock come from the main door. It was the first time in awhile since someone dared to even attempt it. Salvatore leaves his room and floats through the black dilapidated hallways that matched the ruined inside. He moved at a leisurely pace so it took him five minutes to reach the door.
“Who is it?” Salvatore asks through the door. His voice altered through simple blood magic and being muffled by the front door.
“Uh y-yes, I was looking for Baron Salvatore Delacroix.” a young male voice replies.
“What business do you have with the Baron boy? Are you here on a fool’s errand?”
“Perhaps sir. I, Irving Stark, humbly request an apprenticeship under the Baron. Please, teach me the ways of an alchemist.”
“To what ends do you seek to learn alchemy? Surely there are more desirable and well-known alchemists you could turn to.” Salvatore probes Irving’s intentions.
“Aye, and I’ve been turned away by each. I’ve nothing left and nobody else I can turn to. If I were to learn from you then I could finally do something of value.” he forces bass into his voice to feign strength.
Salvatore thought about the boy’s words. One must truly be desperate to turn to him and actually stay through the initial conversation. Perhaps there was something of value held in him. “Do not open the door until I direct you to do so.” he orders before unlocking the door and fading into the shadows. “You may enter.”
Following his instructions, Irving opens the door and enters the dark and dismal mansion. “H-hello?” his voice trembles and echoes through the halls. He heard the Delacroix’s had fallen on hard times but not like this.
“Irving Stark I presume?” Salvatore echoes from the darkness. His visitor was a 14 year old with light unkempt brown hair in tattered clothing. Yet another homeless urchin, although given Irving’s clothing, he was once part of a family of repute himself. It wasn’t hard to assume what happened to them.
Irving attempts to peer through the dust and darkness but all he sees are a pair of crimson eyes looking at him from the opposite end of the hallway. “Y-yes sir.” he stutters shaking in his worn shoes. He was prepared for whatever Baron Delacroix had to offer but rapidly began questioning his resolve.
“Please, close the door.” Irving nods slowly and closes the door. By the time he turns around, Salvatore is standing only two feet away from him. The shock causing him to fall backward. Yet another perk of being a Vampire was being able to create illusions. In this case, the illusion that he was a full grown adult male. “Is alchemy really all there is left for you boy?” he inquires, getting a nod in reply. He could see his heartbeat and there was no fluctuation when he made the gesture. “Do you fear me? And do not think you can lie to me.”
“I…I am sir…But I’ve no other options left.”
Salvatore smirks slightly at his reply. “From now on, you’ll be my apprentice.”
“Thank you master.” he answers with a brief bow.
“There are candles to your left on the table. From now on this will be your home. You are to learn the layout and follow the basic rules I create. This includes maintaining the estate. If you wish to live here I’m sure you’d prefer less squalid surroundings.”
“Yes, master.” Irving says lighting the candle. The dark halls fill with light and Salvatore’s illusion is dispelled revealing his true diminutive form and natural tone. He wore a blue long coat that split into three segments at the back of his knees over a well maintained black suit. One of the last signs of what his family once was. His straight silver hair was tied in a long ponytail down to the middle of his back. His crimson eyes despite his age were as sharp and threatening as any other Vampires.
“You’ll also need to get used to seeing my true form. I may be smaller than you but my knowledge is years beyond yours.”
“Y-yes master.” Irving hesitates to reply.
“Don’t fear child, I’ve self-control so you are entirely safe.
Finally, he had someone to interact with besides his old texts. For the first time in years, Salvatore felt a spark of life in him. One not driven by an obsession but a curiosity in what potential he could unlock in another. Life had finally become interesting…