Legacy of Reiginsei
FFVIII/Vampire Hunter D crossover
Chapter Three: Wraith in the Night
The wind whistled restlessly through the trees as the vampire hunter stood underneath the drooping branches of a weeping willow, wrapped from head to toe in mystery and shadows. The haunting cries of the willow all around him didn’t unsettle the dark man in the least; he preferred the cold darkness of the night, which he wore as easily as his own cloak. He sat as still as death on his DL-4 cyborg mount, which was just as silent and motionless as he was. Shadows cloaked him from head to foot, and the defeated branches of the willow only served to further conceal his figure.
Curious streams of moonlight shoved the protective branches aside, poking their questing fingers into the darkness of the willow, seeking to touch the mysterious hunter whose name was a single letter that could stand for any of several ambiguous terms that were known only to a few people in the world. For a moment, these inquisitive beams of moonlight struck upon the glowing infrared eyes of the hunter’s mount; the cyborg horse, out of the ease of long practice, didn’t flinch at all. Convinced that what it had found was surely an inanimate, dead creature, the beam of moonlight moved on upwards, briefly lighting upon the hunter’s armor clad gloves and dark cloak. Excited by their findings, the streams of night light leapt upwards eagerly, searching for the face of the ever elusive and world-renowned Vampire Hunter D.
But the curious moonbeams had only grazed the porcelain skin of the hunter’s chin and the pale pink color of his thin mouth before the wind screeched in protest and shoved the melancholy branches of the weeping willow brutally with its eternal breath. These branches settled into their dutiful places, once more preventing the moonlight from penetrating the recesses of the hunter’s hiding spot, chastened by the wind’s fury. Not just anyone was allowed to glimpse upon the god, much less touch his pale skin with such bloody, inquisitive fingers without consent.
The moonlight humbly retreated behind a cloud, ashamed of the blasphemous actions committed by its unworthy appendages. All was silent.
“D, what are we doing here?” a voice suddenly asked.
The vampire hunter shifted slightly, the simple motion unsettling a few wayward strands of dark brown hair, which tumbled around the lower half of his face to kiss his porcelain skin. He didn’t bother to reply to the voice.
“D!” the voice snapped. “I asked you a question! What are we doing here?”
“Hunting vampires,” D answered calmly, unperturbed by his unseen companion’s anger.
“Hunting vampires?” the symbiote repeated, soundless voice dripping with sarcasm. “You’re hiding behind a tree like a lump on a log! The only vampire as far as I can see is you, and you’re only half a vampire so you don’t count! There are no vampires here, D.”
D was silent.
“HELLO!!!!” the symbiote suddenly raged. “Am I talking to myself here?!”
“Pretty much,” D said dryly.
“Oh, so now the ever-aloof, stoic, cold, heartless, Vampire Hunter D has developed a sense of humor! And what impeccable timing! Is that what you came here searching for? A sense of humor? Well, now that you’ve found it, can we please leave?”
“Why are you so bothered by this place?” D asked flatly, blue-black eyes hidden by the shadow of his hat as he watched the road beyond the willow’s branches, his gaze never wavering, never missing anything despite the fact that he was…distracted.
“Bothered?” the symbiote scoffed angrily. “Bothered isn’t the word I would use to describe what I’m feeling right now. Peeved and aggravated would probably be more accurate descriptions. You’re a vampire hunter; therefore, it may be correct to assume that you hunt vampires. Which makes this entire situation completely illogical since there are no vampires in the immediate area. Let’s get out of here, D.”
D didn’t reply.
“Sometimes, I don’t even know why I bother with you,” the symbiote seethed, its patience wearing thin. “You’re as stubborn as an ass when you want to be and just downright stupid the rest of the time! Such idiocy is a disgrace to your regal bloodline of—”
D immediately stiffened. “That’s enough,” he said sharply, but not so loud that he was yelling. “I’ve heard enough out of you for one night.”
“And you’re going to hear plenty more out of me still,” the symbiote counterattacked, sounding decidedly smug that it had managed to incite a response from the stoic hunter. “I know you believe in following your instincts, and I shall go as far as to admit that such a trait is decidedly admirable, but you’ve been downright impulsive the past few weeks, and it’s starting to annoy me. You were never like this before…at least not since Runsilva.”
“My affairs or impulses are of no concern to you,” D deadpanned, expertly keeping his voice neutral. His thoughts were rapidly drifting away from the conversation, stolen away by a sound out there in the night…
“What did you just say?!” the symbiote continued to rant, either oblivious to D’s inattentiveness or just choosing to ignore it. “Of course your affairs are of concern to me, you bloody fool! I’m a part of you, idiot! If you die, then who has to bust his ass to get you back to life?! Me, that’s who! Don’t you remember what happened back at Runsilva?! Badass Reiginsei whips out a magic candle and shoves a stake in your heart, remember? And who had to crawl across the lawn, in the rain, to go and wake your ass up?! Huh?! Me!”
The sounds were getting closer. Footsteps, loud and confident ones. Soft whistling in the night air, a happy sound that frightened away the rage and infinite sadness upon which most wraiths thrived. But D wasn’t like most wraiths.
“Allow me to rephrase one of my previous comments,” he told the symbiote, only paying minimal attention now. “Your opinion is of no concern to me and neither is your constant blathering.”
“Uh-oh! PMS attack here!” the symbiote taunted, then abruptly fell silent as it apparently became wise to the fact that someone was approaching D’s hiding place. How the symbiote heard without ears, D would never know, so he didn’t concern himself with it. And asking either himself or the symbiote that question would be just as fruitless as asking how it thought without a brain, or how it spoke without vocal cords, or why it always spoke of “busting its ass” to do something when it didn’t have one. So D just let it be.
Besides, the symbiote was the least of D’s concerns at the moment. The night was silent outside the branches of the weeping willow, enraptured by the visage of youth, the visage of the human that dared to defy its eternal solitude. D could very clearly hear the approach of the young human now. The boy’s boots thumped loudly on the paved road outside the willow, and the foolish creature was still whistling as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Youthful immortality was something that young people took for granted, and this boy was no exception. Proud and headstrong he was, prancing along the road in the dead of the night, ignorant of the demons that hungered for such a youthful morsel.
And if D had been a full-blooded vampire, he would have been one of those salivating demons out there in the darkness. His supernaturally acute ears could hear the blood roaring through the boy’s veins; he could smell it, too. For a moment, the bloodlust started to rear its ugly head, only to be quickly forced back down by a cold mind that was used to handling such things.
D was still for a second more, hidden beneath the sad leaves of the willow, then he suddenly flicked the reins of his mount, urging the cyborg horse into motion. Snorting softly, the creature trotted towards the protective wall of hanging branches, cutting cleanly through them and bringing its rider out for all the night to see.
The moonlight breathed in awe of the visage that stood before it.
A waterfall of dark brown locks shot through by defiant strands of fiery red framed the sides of D’s pale face and fell to the middle of his back in one veil of fluttering silk. A black cloak covered him from head to toe, expertly concealing from any prying eyes that wished to know what kind of weapons or items the hunter had to steal. Not that any petty cutthroat thief would have been tempted to try and mug the hunter, for once they saw the broad expanse of his shoulders and the gauntleted hands that gripping the reins of his mount loosely, they quickly decided to go try and tangle with a less ominous, smaller victim. The pale skin terrified onlookers as much as his physique did. D’s skin didn’t color easily, and though he moved in the day as easily as any mortal, his skin was still icy white, cold moonlight given shape and form. His mouth was the only color on face, the lips a very pale shade of pink. The rest of his face, including his eyes, was lost in the shadow cast by his ever-present hat.
It was from under this shadow that D watched the road with naked scrutiny, a shadow among shadows. He and his mount stood shock still in front of the willow, listening acutely to the sound of footsteps as they got closer and closer.
Now D wasn’t a man who became surprised easily. In his lifetime, he had seen things that most people couldn’t even dream of, even in their worst nightmares, but when he finally caught sight of the boy who sought to defy the night, he felt his eyes widen slightly in the darkness.
The boy looked almost just like his father.
Of course, there were differences, but the basic features were identical down to every last detail. Strong-boned face. Clear skin. Limbs that were slender yet strong. This boy leaned more to short and stout than tall and lanky, but his facial features and wild hair easily outshadowed that minor difference. D didn’t like to jump to conclusions, but if he had had any previous doubts that Reiginsei’s children were still alive…well, one just had to look at his boy and see that there was a great possibility that he and the late gray-haired mutant were at least related.
But although the boy may have looked like his father in appearance, it was clear that he hadn’t inherited his father’s nasty personality and underhanded ways. This boy whistled as he strolled along with his hands shoved in his pockets. His clear blue eyes casually scanned the darkness around him with the easy laziness of long practice. The thumping of his boots on the road echoed defiantly in the night, practically calling demons to battle. The scent of his young, potent blood drifted to the vampire hunter’s nose.
But D remained completely still, watching the boy from under the shadow of his hat. He wondered if the boy would notice him. The willow wasn’t too far from the road, but it was dark out and the boy only had weak human eyes, after all. And D was the kind of wraith who could melt into the shadow with the ease of long practice, which gave some ignorant onlookers the impression that he had the ability to vanish into thin air, which he didn’t.
Unsurprisingly, the blond-haired boy was walking on the road right in front of D before he noticed the glowing red eyes of the cyborg mount. The boy let out a loud cry of surprise and jumped back, hands coming out of his pockets and tightening into fists. D noticed the well-built muscles in his arms and the fact that he wore fighter gloves.
A martial artist. Another difference. Reiginsei never was much of a close range fighter.
“What the hell?!” the boy gasped as his eyes remained riveted on the distorted form of D’s mount. The horse stared back with unnatural calmness that was part of its programming. Cyborg horses, especially the DL-4 type, were made so that they didn’t scare easily. But when their inventors violated and perverted the instincts of one of nature’s children, one could not expect it to be without consequence. For though D’s cyborg horse was reliable and had incredible endurance, its fearsome appearance usually attracted more attention than D would have liked. The cyborg had metal plates all around its chest and face that gleamed in the moonlight, and its glowing red eyes always seem to frighten onlookers off even though D usually meant them no harm. This boy showed a typical reaction to seeing D’s cyborg mount. He looked like he was about to attack the thing, but his eyes suddenly shot upwards, and he realized that the horse had a rider.
“Oh shit,” the blond-haired boy breathed in relief as his limbs relaxed. “I didn’t see ya up there, man! Your, um, horse, scared the crap out of me!”
D didn’t reply, but his eyes tracked the boy’s every movement and gesture with harsh scrutiny.
The boy scratched the back of his head and squinted into the darkness, obviously trying to see more of D than the night would allow. “So,” he floundered nervously. “Um, who are you?”
He’s polite, D noted. He thinks it rude to leave without making conversation. Strange…
“Who I am is not important,” D said flatly.
The boy blinked his blue eyes, a bit taken aback by the flatness of the reply. “Um, okay, then. Well, I’m Zell Dincht.”
Silence descended on the pair for a few moments as Zell apparently waited for some reaction out of D. The vampire hunter, of course, gave none, as was his tendency to do.
Finally, Zell got fed up of waiting for the hunter to answer him and took a step closer to where D was still shrouded in shadows. “Hey, you’re not from around here, are you?” he asked suspiciously.
“No,” D answered in the same flat tone. This boy’s personality was very different from his father’s…
“You know how I could tell?” Zell asked proudly, then answered his own question. “You’re riding that weirdo horse.” He pointed to D’s cyborg mount. “Everyone around here has a chocobo. You don’t have a chocobo?”
“Didn’t think so,” Zell answered amiably. He seemed to be eager to make friends. It was a pity D wasn’t the most friendly of people; the world he lived in didn’t allow for friends. “So,” Zell continued. “Are you lost or something?”
“Ooooookay,” Zell said slowly, still trying to see the hunter in the darkness. All he could see was the horse’s glowing eyes. “Well, then, If ya don’t need any help getting anywhere, then I guess I’ll be leaving and all…”
D didn’t reply. This was a very strange boy. Strange in the sense that he seemed perfectly normal, perfectly human…was it possible that D had made mistake in regards to the boy’s lineage?
Though Zell was clearly anticipating a farewell of some sort, he seemed to ditch the effort after another moment of nothing but pure silence. “Anyways, bye,” the blonde-haired boy said moodily, a bit offended. And he had thought Squall was the only social retard he knew!
D watched in his customary silence as Zell strode away down the road, still a little huffy and uncomfortable after his conversation with the hunter. It was obvious that D’s presence had perturbed him somehow. The boy now kept his footsteps carefully light as they connected with the pavement; he was all too conscious of the fact that there were wraiths in the night that could get the drop on him. D could see the muscles of the boy’s back rigid under the hunter’s piercing glare, and his hands were no longer stuffed in his pockets. Instead, they were swinging at his sides, ready for action. Even now and then, Zell would flex his fingers, keeping them limber as his eyes scanned the night relentlessly. There would be no more laziness tonight.
“Well, that was interesting,” the symbiote commented as D watched Zell’s figure fade into the darkness, heading towards the distant figure of Balamb Garden.
“Of course, Zell Dincht can’t be his real name, now can it?” the symbiote continued in an amused tone.
D didn’t reply. He turned his attention away from the darkness Zell had vanished into and reverted back to his old position of watching the road. He listened. Footsteps in the distance, but not too far away. The cyborg horse’s ears flicked back and forth as it, too, sensed the noise. D heard the strong pounding of a young heart echoing in the night, full of the rich scent of blood and every bit as rebellious as Zell’s footfalls had been. Someone else was coming.
This time D only had to wait but a few moments before a new figure appeared on the path, striding boldly out of the darkness in which it had formerly been sheathed. A spotless white trench coat shone bravely in the black night, and D found that he was intrigued by the twin fire crosses emblazoned on either sleeve, showing up well against the pristine material. This new boy was of towering height for his age, over six feet tall with long legs and broad shoulders. His eyes were blue and cruel, and in every movement, D saw the ghost of an unshakable pride that had once burned brightly in the boy’s form. Still, this young man held his head high, and his walk was more like a prance, cocky and overconfident. Only once before had D seen such pride, in a woman who was long dead. Or supposed to be, at least.
This boy was the very antithesis of his brother of a few minutes ago. Zell Dincht had been light and laughter, a human woven of golden yellow and sky blue. This newcomer was possessed by the same good looks, but there was a certain dark bitterness to his aura that D hadn’t perceived in Zell. The boy on the path right now radiated malevolence and already seemed to be viewing the world with a chronic sneer. Much like Reiginsei…
Shrouded in shadows, D’s blue-black eyes tracked the newcomer’s every movement with equal, if not more, intensity than he had tracked Zell. It only took this boy a few seconds to locate D in the darkness, bitter blue eyes fastening onto the glowing eyes of the cyborg horse before lighting upon the motionless rider that sat in the saddle. Every muscle in the boy’s body went rigid in surprise as he stumbled to stop, boots skidding across the dirt. His upper lip curled back in a snarl, and his hands immediately flew to his left hip, sliding smoothly underneath the lapel of the trench coat, apparently trying to grab for something that wasn’t there. This only served to infuriate the boy more; he clenched his gloved hands into two strong-looking fists, radiating his poisonous violence into the night in a single wave.
“Who the hell are you?!” he suddenly demanded of D, eyes glittering angrily up at the hunter.
D didn’t reply. He wondered why the boy was reacting so violently.
“Hey!” the blonde-haired boy suddenly yelled again, voice echoing in the night to become companions with the wind. “I asked you a fucking question! If you’re here to cause trouble, then I swear to God, I’m gonna kick your ass!”
“Brave words for one who has no weapon,” D suddenly said in a monotone.
The boy laughed harshly, trying to appear as if he were unperturbed by D’s words, but the sweat breaking out on his face and the slight trembling in his hands told a different story. “You’re outta your league with me, buddy!” he gloated. “Do you have any idea who I am?”
D remained silent, watching as the boy suddenly drew himself up to his entire impressive height, folding his arms across his chest smugly, eyes never wavering as they stayed fastened on D’s lonely figure in the darkness.
“I’m Seifer Almasy,” the boy said cockily, voice full of pride but with a cautious underlying emotion that sounded strangely like disgust.
D didn’t reply. So the brothers have different names, he thought. Must mean that they were separated at a very young age. They are so close to each other yet so far. Pity.
Seifer, in the meantime, decided that he didn’t like it when D wasn’t paying attention to him. He abruptly lost his temper again and returned to his pseudo-battle stance. “I asked you a question earlier,” he growled. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“I’m afraid that is none of your concern,” D deadpanned.
Seifer’s golden brows drew together dangerously, the scar between them puckering as if in horrid distaste. “You’d better not even think about messing with me,” he threatened in a low voice. “I’m currently training at a military academy. I know how to fight, and damn well, at that. I’m not going to put up with any shit from strangers like you. Not on my turf, not nowhere.”
D remained silent, suddenly overwhelmed in a tide of memories. He was once again in Runsilva, outside Doris Lang’s house. The night was young, and the dark air smelled bitter with the promise of blood and battle. And he had an opponent…
“My name is Reiginsei, vampire hunter, and killing men like you is my greatest pleasure. Prepare to die!”
Yes, D thought, eyes still focused on the infuriated figure of Seifer Almasy, this one is Reiginsei’s son to a T. Same personality. Same sneer. Same overconfidence. Same lost, broken soul. Same delusions of grandeur. And this is how the mighty fall.
“Why do you provoke me when we both know that you are not armed?” D asked sensibly, not really wanting to fight the boy either way.
Seifer’s eyes glittered dangerously at the hunter’s words, a bit of fear creeping into the azure orbs before it was swallowed up by hate. “I am armed,” he seethed, one gloved hand creeping towards his right pocket. “I have this,” he snapped, hand darting into the pocket of his trench coat as quick as the strike of a viper. It reemerged with something long and dark clutched in the nimble fingers.
Underneath the shadow of his hat, D blinked in surprise. Was that object what he thought it was? No, it couldn’t be. He blinked again, this time lifting his head slightly so that the moonlight struck the gem embedded on his hat. The cyborg horse nickered softly, it glowing eyes locked onto the ominous thing clutched fearlessly in Seifer Almasy’s hand.
The boy suddenly grinned wolfishly as a drop of sweat ran down his face. “Don’t like this thing, do ya?” he smirked as he twirled the dark object gracefully between his fingers. He may has well have been juggling a knife given how dangerous the thing in his hands was. And the foolish human didn’t even know. Figured.
“Where did you get that?” D asked quietly, trying to keep the intrigue out of his voice. It had been a long time since he had seen one of those things.
“From a close, personal friend of mine who will remain nameless,” Seifer gloated, filled with cruel happiness now that he had the upper hand. “I’m telling ya that you’ll only end up dead if you mess with me. Don’t let me see you around here again.” He twirled the dark object one more time as punctuation.
Then he sauntered off down the road again, obviously trying not to make it look like he was hurrying. He did a remarkable job of it, but D could see that, like Zell before him, the muscles of Seifer’s back were rigid as they cowered under the relentless stare of the vampire hunter. His cocky gait was no longer there; his encounter with D had put another serious hole in his pride. Facing what might have been a commendable enemy without a weapon. How humiliating.
“My, my, now wasn’t that fun?” the symbiote smirked as soon as Seifer had vanished towards the distant lights of Balamb Garden. “I don’t think you should hang around that boy too long, D; he might be a bad influence on your charming personality.”
D didn’t answer. His eyes were still watching the shining figure of Balamb Garden in the distance. Home of SeeD, the elite mercenary force…
“That was definitely a child of Reiginsei,” the symbiote continued, saying what D already knew. “Just like that damn father of his. Touchy, prideful creature. Pathetic. How much pride can you have when your father was a goddamn mutant bounty hunter, for crying out loud? Oh well, you know what they say: like father like son. Same nasty personality and foolish pride.”
“Reiginsei was not a proud creature,” D suddenly interrupted. “He was overconfident, but not proud. Desperate would probably be a more accurate word to describe him. That boy’s pride had to come from somewhere else.”
“The mother?” the symbiote asked – the shortest sentence it had said all night.
“Yes,” D answered quietly, allowing the night breezes to play with his hair.
“If I’m thinking what you’re thinking,” the symbiote said in an amused tone. “Then you’re going to have to play vampire hunter again and kill those two boys before their relatives learn of their existence.”
But they were human, D thought to himself. Completely human. How can that be? But I suppose it is possible, if Reiginsei were half-human maybe…
“The moon is just right,” the symbiote continued. “You do realize that if you’re going to dispose of those two, you’re going to have to do it soon. Family members are easy to track during the Moon of the Brothers.”
“I know,” D said, lifting his head slightly so that he could see the moon in its entirety. Moonbeams eagerly touched the hunter’s face, dancing in his blue-black eyes and clinging to his dark lashes, holding on for a few precious seconds before D lowered his head again, and his face was plunged into shadow. Suddenly, D felt sad. Moon of the Brothers. The time of family, and for most vampire houses, the time to resolve all family feuds that may be occurring between branches. Either through reconciling words or bloody battle, the feuds were put to an end either way. It was custom – the way it had always been in the vampire world.
At least that’s what D’s father, the illustrious Count Dracula, had taught his older son.
“I know what you’re thinking,” the symbiote suddenly said.
D ignored it, thinking of the brothers Zell Dincht and Seifer Almasy.
“You wish you had your half-brother with you, don’t you?” the symbiote continued, malevolence strangely absent from its tone.
“Alucard is his own person,” D said coldly. “He slumbers whenever he wishes to, and he wishes to do so now.”
“But you wish it were not so, don’t you, D?” the symbiote asked in an amused tone, its deadly humor returning in an instant.
“I wonder where the boy found the Matrix of Dreams?” D asked in an uncharacteristically loud voice.
“Ah, changing the subject, I see,” the symbiote laughed. “Where he found that ugly old thing, I don’t know. He probably stole it. Stupid little human probably doesn’t even know its real power. But then again, this could be a good thing. I am taking if for granted that you know that only those with vampire blood in their veins can use the Matrix of Dreams.”
“I know,” D deadpanned. Sort of like the candle Reiginsei had used against him back in Runsilva…
“If the boy has the dreams,” the symbiote continued. “Then you know who the mother was. But here’s the catch.”
“The Matrix of Dreams will affect all those nearby, human or vampire or mutant or dog – you get the drift? Which means that Zell Dincht will be affected as well.”
“What about sorceresses?”
“You mean besides the fact that humans used to employ some of the lesser powerful ones to destroy entire houses of vampires? Besides the fact that they make great vampire hunters?”
D ignored all the symbiote’s babbling. “There’s one staying in Balamb Garden right now. One Rinoa Heartilly by name.”
“You don’t say?” the symbiote asked, overjoyed and brimming with its characteristic cruel humor. “A real sorceress? Been a long time since I’ve seen a one of those broads. You know, my old friend, this might be interesting after all…”
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