The castle was ancient.
In many places the walls seemed to remain standing, holding up the ceiling by the power of some dark entity’s will alone. Tattered carpets laid strewn across the floors, cowering from their own tears and the dark stains splattered across them. The paintings just barely remained on their walls, while the tapestries silently fell to the floor in dusty drips of cloth.
Piece by piece, everything crumbled. Everything bore the weight of centuries, a heavy burden in itself. But the rooms also had to bear the footsteps of undead, of sharp talons and slithering shadows. Malice flowed through the corridors like blood through a vein. It had been that way for as long as anyone could remember.
The castle was alive.
It was not a surprise, for it was nothing new. Alucard had no idea when he had learnt about it. Perhaps he had always known. He could feel it now, stronger whenever he was pushed against a wall by a blow or sat down to rest, even when he leant against a pillar or chair to catch his cold breath.
Running a finger against a stone in the wall was more than enough. He could feel the pulse for every step he took, even through the sturdy soles of his boots.
No… not a pulse.
… ng ma… ter… heeere…
The castle was awake.
It had not been slumbering when he entered, but its interest had been piqued the moment he stepped through the gates. Now it listened, watched, felt his every move. It studied his battles – his graceful sidesteps, nimble attacks and brutal finishing blows.
He was never alone, and it made sure that he knew that.
… you… ssst… heeere…
The castle was pleased.
Alucard closed his eyes when the whispers returned to their ecstatic “here” – exhaling the word, sucking it back. Pursing his lips he hurried on, trampling the floor as if he could crush the invisible tongues if he only walked hard enough. Without thinking he swept the cape tighter about himself, he who did not flinch away from gigantic beasts and howling demons. But those creatures had bodies that could be destroyed. The castle reached for him with invisible fingers and whispers which he could not strike out against. He could only listen and feel.
Feel as the floor trembled beneath him, the walls shuddering by any little touch. He could swear that he heard the windows rattle in demented rapture as he passed, casting his reflection in the old glass.
Heeere… the… you… master… is…
The castle was hungry.
It longed to feel far more than his quick steps, or the brush of a shoulder or back during a difficult battle. It had tasted his blood, precious few drops spilt and lost – but hardly forgotten. The whispered cry had almost knocked him senseless that first time, when he touched a door handle with fingers which had brushed a scratch on his arm.
But that was not enough. The ancient halls longed to feel his weight spread across them. Every carpet craved his blood alone, superior to the unworthy stains they already wore. Every block of stone dreamt of crushing his bones, pressing his shattered carcass deeper into the cracks in the floor.
The entire castle yearned to own him completely, to watch and feel him wither away, study flesh melting from bone. To cover his broken remains with a bridegroom’s coat of dust and cobwebs.
The young master is here… here… heeere…
The castle was loving.