Dark Legacy Part Ten: The Garden Maze

Author's note: Not much to say here. Well, except for the part that I'd appreciate it if you'd send your opinions of my work, so I can improve on it. I know some of you prefer to stay away from this area, afraid of making or breaking someone's ego, but this is just so I know what to fix. E-mail me at:
Chanaur_Majere@hotmail.com Oh, and I'll probably be taking a sabatical from sending in work around the twelth part. Not a sure thing yet, but just FYI.

Carrie stopped in front of the broken mirror. She shook her head and asked, "Chanaur, why do you always shatter mirrors?"

Chanaur shrugged. "Well, I guess I've discovered a new fobia then, haven't I?"

He was joking, but he wasn't smiling. Something was on his mind, and that proved it. Reinhardt continued on, but Carrie stopped. Chanaur stopped with her.

Reinhardt turned around and looked at them as if to say, "Are you coming?"

Carrie waved him on. He left, closing the door behind him.

Chanaur turned to her apprehensively. "What is it?"

Carrie smiled at him briefly. "Tell me the truth, now." She stepped closer, as if afraid someone might hear what they were saying. "What do you want with that book?"

"The Necronomicon?" He asked.

"Now you're stalling." Carrie frowned at him. "Just tell me."

Chanaur glanced away momentarily, noticing the slashed painting. He turned his head to look at it, and Carrie sighed. She put both hands on his face and turned him back to her. "Please."

He looked deep into her eyes. He saw the worry that was hidden behind a thin veil of sterness. That was so like her.

"Well..." He started, putting his hands on hers, bringing them away from his face. He clasped his hands around hers. "....What I said in the Archives was true, but...." He squeezed her hands gently. "I know someone who could use the information to help him improve his.... condition."

Carrie stared at him. "You know somebody who is undead?"

"In a way. He's half vampire, by blood. This book...." He shrugged his shoulders. "....Might help him conquer the hunger."

She looked quizically at him. "Wouldn't that kill him?"

"Not a half vampire." He explained. "They can walk in the daylight, and they don't need blood to live. However, they do thirst for it, now and then."

"And, they don't cast reflections, do they?"

Chanaur sighed inwardly. "Smart girl." Too smart. Indeed, she had put two and two together, for she looked a little strangely at him as they left the room.

Before Chanaur opened the door, she asked quietly, "Is it you?"

He opened the door slowly, but didn't answer right away. "I'm afraid I can't tell you who it is. Out of confidence." He looked at her, a pained look in his eye. "He would kill me if I told you....."

"Oh." Carrie let the subject fall, even though he knew she wasn't convinced. That dismissive answer gave it away.

"Carrie...." He said as he closed the door. "You trust me, right...?"

She looked up at him with a forced smile. "With my life, Chanaur." She kissed him on the cheek, attempting to put him at ease. But all it did was seal that she was covering.

"No, you don't." He put a hand on her shoulder. "You think it's me, don't you?"

Carrie looked down. "Yes." She immediately looked up. "It's not that I don't trust you.... but....."

Chanaur nodded slightly. "I understand, Carrie. You don't have to go on." He squeezed her shoulder. "I have been exhibiting questionable behavior lately." He let her go, and walked away, seeing Vincent.

Carrie felt guilty that she expected him of that. But he had been acting strangely.... And then the Necronomicon....

What if it is him? Will he lose control.....?

"C'mon Carrie." She jumped, and turned around, hearing Vincent's voice. Chanaur had just turned the corner, a frown on his face. "Your friends are leaving for the Garden Maze."

"What about you? And Milenia?" Carrie started walking in his direction, hearing a door open.

"Milenia is already with Reinhardt. I will stay here to look for Milenia's soul crystal." Carrie passed him by, but then she felt his hand on her shoulder.

She turned slowly around, and looked up at the old man. He was smiling down at her, his eyes twinkling. "I wish you and Chanaur the best of luck." With that, he left, back to the room they had first found him in.

Carrie sighed, and stepped through the door Chanaur had dissapeared into. God, if It's so obvious, why can't he see it? She found herself asking this question quite often nowadays.

Passing through the parlor, she found herself in a room with an ebony staircase off to the right. Following it down, she stopped at the bottom. Reinhardt and Chanaur were examining a small scroll on the floor. Chanaur picked it up, untying the red ribbon that held it together. He unrolled it, and blinked rapidly.

"What is it?" Reinhardt asked.

Chanaur squinted, trying to read it. "It seems to be a contract, but it's so hard to read...."

"Pray, excuse me..." A brisk, business-like voice came from behind Carrie. "...But have any of you seen a contract here abouts?"

Carrie dismounted the staircase, looking the man up and down. He wore a black business suit, with a red tie tucked into his jacket. He also wore dark glasses, and a top hat. The man carried a black leather briefcase. He had brown hair, with a mustach and beard combination that resembled Raziel's.

The strange part, however, was the fact that he seemed to have a tail.....

"Ah, there it is!" He exclaimed, glancing at Chanaur, who was rolling it back up. "I thank you dearly! This is very important to my business."

Carrie looked at him, then his tail, and the man tsked twice. "Forgive my rudeness." He said, tipping his hat. "My name is Renon. I am what you would call a Demon."

All three of them had their weopons in hand.

"Wait! Wait!" He shouted, holding up a hand in defense, nearly dropping his briefcase. "I am not an enemy!" His barbed tail swished madly, and he dropped his hand. "My role is to provide useful items to travelers in Catlevania." He frowned slightly. "It is shamefull for a demon to be working, but one needs gold even in hell these days...." He trailed off, and everyone put away there weopons.

"Ah, but that is no concern. Summon me with the contract anytime you are in need of my services." No one said a word for a long time. Then he took a gilded pocket watch from his pocket, and opened it. "Dear me, is that the time?" He put it away shaking his head. "We have talked too long. Don't forget, summon me when you are in need." He seemed to collapse in on himself, and then was gone.

Reinhardt looked at the scroll, and sighed. "Should we trust him?"

Chanaur sighed at the word. "I wouldn't. He's a demon after all." There was a strange bitter tone to his voice.

Reinhardt shook his head slightly. "Have you two eaten something?" Chanaur and Carrie shook their heads.

Milenia conjured two pieces of roast beef, and offered them to them. They both refused it, but Reinhardt insisted. "You'll need the energy. We'll be running a lot in the maze."

They took it, eating it swiftly. Quietly, Rienhardt inserted the key into the double doors, glancing nervously at the suit of armor in the corner. It was a good two feet taller than he was, and it sported a sword just as long as he was tall.

"What's the matter?" Chanaur asked teasingly. "Expecting it to come to life?"

"Exactly." He muttered. He opened the doors, and stepped into the late afternoon sunlight.

They were now in the Garden Maze entrance. There was a small courtyard with bushes and flowers, carefully tended. A gate sat about twenty feet in front of them. A great mage carved into the hedges extended beyond that gate.

On either side of the iron doorway, were two statues of large dogs.

"Wow." Carrie muttered, stepping forward. "They look so lifelike...." She touched it and gasped. It's giving off it's own heat! These things are alive?

Chanaur noticed what she was thinking, and touched it too. He nodded slightly, then used the key to open the gate. He glanced nervously at the statues, and Reinhardt, who had been looking elsewhere, asked teasingly, "What, are you expecting them to come alive?"

"Exactly." Chanaur whispered.

All four of them entered the maze. The hedges were twice as tall as they were, and they were very well trimmed. There was a right turn, leading to a locked door, and a left turn that led to a bridge. "Well, I guess we go left first...." Carrie said.

The path to the left took them past another locked door, and accross the bridge into a dead end. There was a small clearing, with a bush near the middle.

Reinhardt sighed, and turned to leave, Carrie doing the same. "Hold it." Chanaur whispered. He stepped closer to the bush, and it rustled. "Who's there?!" He called out.

In answer, a child stepped out from behind the bush. He had blue hair, wearing a purple suit with a cape. He was holding a small jewel in his right hand. "Please.... Help me...." He sobbed.

"My soul crystal...." Milenia whispered.

The child handed it too her, and then sank to his knees. Carrie moved forward, her maternal instinct taking over. "What is a child doing in this place....?"

The child didn't answer, just wept harder.

"What's your name?" She asked gently, kneeling down in front of him.

"M-m-malus. I was taken from my home. My village was burned.... My mother and father too...." Malus sobbed again.

"That's awful....." Carrie whispered, not sure what to say. But then, no words could fit that moment....

She should know.

Malus continued. "The devil in the black cloak.... He burned the village, and took all the children to the castle...." He mumbled something under his breath, then choked. "He was looking for a certain child.... I escaped and then...." He put a both hands on her temples, clasping them their. "Then...." He groaned. "My... Head hurts.... I can't remember...."

Carrie took this in, and put a hand on his small shoulder. "It's alright. You've said enough. Let's get you out of here."

"Carrie...." She heard Chanaur whisper over her shoulder. At first, she just looked up at him, but then she saw the look in his eyes.

"What...?" She began. The hedges to her right rustled, as soft as the wind.

A pair of growls came from the direction of the disturbance in the foliage. Carrie turned to her right just in time to see her dog statues, snarling, and coming closer. One long step at a time, they came closer and closer. They focused on Chanaur, then Carrie, coming to rest on Milenia.

Malus screamed, and ran for his life. Milenia and Reinhardt ran after him. Chanaur sliced them open with his sword, and grabbed Carrie's hand. "Let's go!"

"What? They're dead!" She looked back, only to see that the wounds were already healing themselves. The gray one was already back on his feet, and moved slowly toward them.

Chanaur dismembered them again, this time spreading there pieces around a bit. "Come on, Carrie!" She suffered herself to be dragged down the path, before she turned and ran.

She nearly ran right into Reinhardt's back. A man was charging down the path towards them, just as Malus and Milenia cut to the left, towards the locked door.

The man slowed slightly, taking long, deliberate strides, making a strange, mechanical sound with every footstep. He wore a pair of green pants, with red blood stains all over them. He wore an orange vest over a red muscle shirt, his skin held together by stiches. He brandished a crude type of chainsaw, that was attached to his right arm. He seemed to be sewn together, by multiple corpses.

Chanaur gathered electricity in his hands, and hurled it at the mans face. Thank you, Carrie. The projectile smashed into his head, laying it open. Reinhardt followed up with a vial of holy water, and the creature fell back, supposedly dead.

Chanaur turned around, and saw Carrie incinerate the dogs, who were back yet again. "This isn't going to work..... We've gotta make a plan!"

"I've got one...." Chanaur grabbed her by the hand again, as the Garden Keeper rose again. "Run!" He dragged her a little further again, and flung himself through the door.

Carrie followed quickly, slamming the door behind her. She slid an iron bar to block the door, just as two heavy thumps hit the door.

She turned around just in time to see Malus' coattails whip around the corner, as he charged on. "Stop!" Milenia shouted, chasing after him.

"God damn it..." Chanaur muttered. A mechanical whirr filled the area, and the chainsaw on the Keeper's arm jutted through the door, and severed the iron bar as if it were hot butter. The man kicked the door in, and the dogs pounced yet again.

Chanaur spread his arms, a shimmering curtain dropping between them and the guards. "Damn it, run!" He shoved Carrie in the direction Malus and Milenia had dissapeared. "I'll hold them as long as I can, and then I'll catch up. Just follow Malus!" He watched her give one last worried look at him, and then turn and ran in the other direction.

"He knows the way..." Chanaur turned back, and forced the wall closer. They backed away, knowing that the force field was of holy origin. He closed them in a corner, by bending the field to trap them between it and the hedge wall.

Chanaur fished around in his pack, and pulled out the Necronomicon. They glared at him, seeing what he planned on doing.

He thumbed through, and found the page he was looking for. He raised his hands, and started the incantation.

The creatures stiffened, as the moorings of their souls was severed. They were finally free from their bonds.

They slumped to the ground, as the blue orbs that were their souls floated away. Chanaur closed the book, feeling that strange feeling of nostalgia, like he was returning home after a long journey.....

Sighing, he tucked The Book of the Dead under his arm, and charged after Carrie.

Shortly after, he found them all, still running for their lives. "You can stop now!" He called after them. Everyone skidded to a halt, except for Malus, who ran on.

"Shit." Reinhardt cursed, running after him.

"What do you mean we can stop? Those things cannot be killed!" Panting, Milenia stepped forward, a puzzled look on her face.

"Ah, not by mortal means, but...." Chanaur muttered. Carrie suddenly noticed the book tucked under his arms.

"Chanaur.... You didn't." Carrie shook her head. He nodded solemely. "It doesn't matter how you use it, Necromancy is the forbidden art. You should never use it, unless given no other choice!"

"Hey, It's nothing I can't handle." He put it back into his pack, and gave her a quiet smile. "Carrie, don't worry. It's worth the small price if it can get us all out of here alive."

Carrie put a hand on his face, her touch a tad stiff. "Yes.... But I don't want all of that sin to pile up on your soul."

"I won't let it.... I promise." He put a hand on hers. "After I abate the curse.... I'll torch it."

"That makes me feel so much better...." She turned back to the next bend, and started walking, letting out a sigh of releif.

Milenia looked up at him. "What did she mean by Necromancy?"

"Nothing, Milenia." Then, mentally, he told her. Using this, I could be able to abate my affliction, as you heard.

Milenia nodded. She followed Carrie, and Chanaur followed them. He knew that they weren't quite out of this....

Reinhardt had finally caught up to Malus, and had stopped him. Chanaur stepped forward and told him what had happened.

At the mention of the Necronomicon, his eyes seemed to flash momentarily. This only built on Chanaur's suspiscions of the youth......

Malus caught his breath at last, and said, "I need to get out of here. Could you show me the way?"

Damn it, you know the way. Who the Hell are you....? Chanaur filed this away, to be pondered later. "Were will you go?"

"Anywhere, but here." He sighed. "Maybe back to Wallachia...."

"If it hasn't been destroyed...." Reinhardt muttered.

Carrie shot him a withering look, but he only shrugged. "Hey, you can think possitively, I'll think realistically."

After all... Reinhardt sighed. What does it matter, if I can't get Rosa out?

They all continued on, Reinhardt bringing up the rear. The maze was getting slightly more complicated, at one time looping around in a complete circle, and then dumping them somewhere near the beginning.

He sighed. "I assume there is an exit leading directly to the Forest, from here?"

Malus' hands twitched slightly. Wether it was anticipation or not, he couldn't be sure. Chanaur nodded, saying. "Raziel mentioned one, just past a fenced in courtyard, somewhere deep in the maze." He rubbed his neck. "Well, lets go find it."

Reinhardt tapped Carrie on the shoulder, as the others went on. "I heard something happened last night. I haven't seen you two this quiet in a long time. What was it?"

She sighed heavily, her gaze falling. "He told me that he loved me."

"Huh. Shouldn't you be happy then?" Reinhardt cocked his head to one side.

"If he would have been telling the truth....."

"What's that supposed to mean?" He asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"Well.... When he was dying last night, he did die. The Count brought him back, for some reason, and it affected his memory. There's a good chance that it was the fever talking. So, I can't take it seriously. No matter how much I want to...." She looked up at Reinhardt, who had a knowing look in his eyes. "Good God, I can't imagine...."

"Will you two come on?" Milenia asked quietly. "You'll be left behind in a moment."

Carrie sighed, and followed Milenia. Reinhardt shook his head, and fell into step behind her. He put his hands in his pockets. Man, I hope they can get this figured out.

Hell. I'll be happy if they live through it.

Reinhardt turned left, then right. Ignoring his surroundings, he just thought. What exactly does Chanaur want with that book? Aside from what he did to the guardians, I have no clue. His hand closed around the cross necklace on his neck. God help me, but if it comes to that, Rosa will live again.

Not wise, Reinhardt. Chanaur's voice inturrupted his thoughts. If you want her to become a half-living thing, then, by all means, do it. I just wouldn't do it to Carrie.

Damn it, Chanaur, stay outta my head!

Sorry. He raised his hands defensively. Just a word of warning. He turned, and walked off.

Sometimes, I wish I could read minds. That would make things so much easier. He continued on. How am I going to do this? I'm just a vampire slayer, not a miracle man.

I don't care what it takes. I will have her again.

Chanaur glanced back at Reinhardt. He had never been too sure about that man. He tended to keep to himself and Rosa, so he never knew how to approach him. It would seem that Reinhardt wanted himself shrouded in mystery.

But why....? He has nothing to hide..... does he?

Well, whatever it was, he obviously wasn't sharing. Of course, it's understandable that his being abandonned at age three when his parents were hunted down, couldn't have been the best of experiences, but what was bugging him so much? Aside from Rosa, of course.

"Here we are."

Chanaur jumped, and found himself faced with a door. Removing the bar, Carrie opened it, revealing a long, open sky stone hallway, with a gate just to their left.

Malus followed her to the gate, wich she opened for him. She turned to him, giving him a pitying look. "You've come this far. Just follow this path through the forest. Watch out for demons on the way, and look for the boatman when you reach the lake." She gently pushed him through the gate, urging him on. "When you get to Wallachia, ask for Raziel. Tell him Carrie sent you, and he'll take care of you until we get back."

Malus gave one last reluctant look back, before saying thank you. Then he ran off, the gate slamming shut behind him, the sun setting.

Sighing heavily, Chanaur turned around, and started heading in the opposite direction. "My guess is that this is the servants entrance. Lets go."

"What's your damage?" Carrie asked coldly. "We just sent a child off into certain death, and you just brush that off?"

"Believe me. That's no child." Chanaur didn't even turn around to look at her. He considered the subject closed.

Obviously, she didn't. "What do you mean? How could you possibly....?"

"Carrie, if there's one thing I know, it's this. If people are blocking my telepathy to the point that I can't even read their aura, I know somethings wrong. He was hiding something...." Now he stopped. "....And I know I've seen that boy before." He took a few more ponderous steps forward, then stopped. "But where?"

"Damn it, Chanaur!" She grabbed his shoulder, wheeling him around. "Enough of your mysteries! What is it you saw in him?" Her eyes were burning. He hadn't seen her this mad..... Ever.

"Mysteries indeed." He knocked her hand away. "You won't even tell me what happened last night." His eyes narrowed slightly. "I admit, I keep secrets from you, but I have a right to know. So don't you throw that in my face." He turned away, and stormed off. "Would it really hurt, that much?!"

Carrie didn't move. She did nothing, for long moments, except watch Chanaur fade into the ever present mist of the Castle. She sank to her knees, feeling tears coming to her eyes. "I'm sorry Chanaur...." She whispered. "I didn't mean it....."

Milenia was suddenly next to her. Carrie threw her arms around her, hugging her close. Milenia patted her shoulder, whispering, "You should just tell him what happened. Like he said, would it really hurt that much?"

Carrie nodded. "It could scare him away, for good....."

"Is it any better than the current situation?" She asked. "C'mon, Carrie. It's obvious he loves you.... Why are you afraid?"

Carrie sighed, then sobbed. "I don't want to lose him.... I couldn't live.... without him."

"All the better reason to bring him to you. Believe me, Carrie. He feels the same." She gave her one final squeeze, then stood up. "I wish you two the best of luck." She turned her back on her, and headed for the gate. She hugged Reinhardt before leaving, wishing him the same.

She opened the gate, and whispered. "I'll see you back in Wallachia. Malus and I willl be waiting." She then dissapeared around the corner.

Milenia turned to the path ahead, prepared for the worst. Tears came to her eyes. Will they reach out to each other before it's too late....?

She sighed heavily. By God, I hope they do. They're too perfect for each other to stay this way.....

Chanaur stomped on, cursing himself for what he had done. Things were changing too fast again, and instead of trying to stop it, he had pressed it on. The last thing he wanted to do was drive Carrie away.

Yet, that was exactly what he had done....

But what right does she have to accuse me of that? Agreed, I keep secrets from her, but they are for her protection. What she dosen't know, won't hurt her.

Unless.... That was what she was doing for him....

Snarling, he punched into the wall to his right, causing a great indent in the wall and his fist. He felt no pain in his hand, only his heart.

Dracula has done this. Chanaur shook his hand to rid it of the shards of marble. By taking him up on his offer, he's driven us apart, but kept her alive thus far.

"'Or anyone else you find an interest in.'" Chanaur snorted bitterly. "Why didn't I see that before?" He gritted his teeth. "Shit." He clasped his hands behind his back, digging his fingernails into his palms.

But would it have been better to refuse his bargain? If I had, would he have killed Carrie outright....?

No. It's better to have Carrie alive and turned away from me, than to have her dead. He opened his hands and looked at his palms. He saw four crescent shaped holes bored into them. We can't have anything just our way.... My life has been living proof of that....

A puddle of rain was at his feet, reminding him yet again that he cast no reflection. Reminding him of what he was. I'm doing the right thing by keeping this from Carrie. Even though it hurts....

He growled, slamming his fist into a torch hanging on the wall to his left. Cinders burned hand, as even more pieces of metal and stone stuck in his hands. The new night seemed to close in on him suddenly. He hammered his fist into the wall, again and again. Again, he felt nothing. Just emptiness.

Then he noticed a different object among the assorted debris. It seemed to be a key.

Distracted momentarily, he finally felt the pain. He healed it quickly, extracting the key and other objects from his flesh. As usual, the dull remainder of the pain was there, but it seemed strangely magnified.

He examined the key, noting it's greenish color. It's made of copper.... I remember seeing a copper door somewhere near the beginning of this maze.....

He turned to head back to Carrie and Reinhardt, then stopped. No. Not just yet.... She needs more time.

We both do.

Sighing, he turned back to the servents entrance, shaking his hand out slightly. Lets just hope that spell was pemanent....

"Looks like Chanaur's already been through here...." Carrie sighed.

"Was that a joke?" Reinhardt asked.

"No." She said simply, gesturing the bloody holes in the wall. "Look what I've done to him....."

"Come on, Carrie. Get over it." He put a hand on her shoulder, stopping her. "Everyone fights. Rosa and I...." He let out a short, bitter breath. "We can scream really good from time to time. But it never lasts."

Carrie put a hand on his, and let out a deep breath. "I don't like the feeling of hurting him...." Exactly what he said to me.... She glanced at her hand. "But..... I have to know, before...." She sighed again, looking at the ground.

Reinhardt made no comment, just withdrew his hand. He had found out long ago that the only one she would listen too when they told her that Chanaur loved her, was Chanaur himself.

Carrie took a few more steps, until she saw the broken torch. Her breath shuddered, but she pressed on. Reinhardt followed in silence.

They soon came to yet another gate, and behind it a back entrance to the Villa. Both were slightly ajar, proving that Chanaur had been this way. They were back in the main hall, just in time to see Chanaur dissapear into the upstairs room.

"Wait!" Carrie called. Chanaur turned around, and looked at her. His eyes seemed a little empty, though.....

"Yes Carrie?" He asked a little sadly.

She hurried up the stairs, and stood leaning on the banister. "Chanaur, I'm sorry for yelling at you. I'd had enough, and I lost control." She breathed in, breathed out. "Now, what exactly did you see in him?"

"Malus...." He began, "Is hiding something. I.... recognize him from somewhere.... but where?" He blinked. "But.... I accept, your appology." He walked over to her. "And offer my own." He touched her cheek.

She nodded, and put her hand on his. "He seemed a little interested in the Necronimicon...." She sighed. "And I accept. I can't stay mad at you...."

"Nor I you...." He rubbed his hand against her face, his touch gossamer.

"But...." She gazed deeper into his eyes, as he did the same. "What type of secrects....?"

Chanaur smiled a little. "Tell you what. When one tells the other thier secret, the other, in turn, must do the same." Carrie nodded. "You know It'll be a long time before that happens....."

Now she laughed. "I'm afraid so...." Carrie found her hand on his bare chest. She had forgotten about the hole the acid had caused, and surprised them both.

She smiled nervously, before tracing a line down to his stomach. "Thank you." She whispered.

"No.... Thank you." He sighed. His caress became more noticeable, and Carrie put both hands on his chest. "You didn't have to watch over me when I was dying, but you did anyway." He slipped his hands under hers, and clasped them tight. "Why?"

She laced her fingers with his. "Because. You were injured because you were protecting me.... I had to protect you." She squeezed his hands. "But why ask why?"

Chanaur sighed. "Sometimes, I feel as though I don't deserve you...." Now he pulled her into him, looking down at her. "You're too good of a friend."

"I didn't know that was possible...." Her voice was soft, her loving eyes even softer. "Chanaur, you are deserving of me. Never forget, I will always be your friend." She rested her head on his chest. "Always....."

Chanaur wrapped her up tighter. "I'm glad to see that problem fixed...." He rocked her back and forth for a minute. "Man, I wish..... that we could stay right here....." His breath hissed. "Even if it's just for a while...."

Carrie noticed the hesitation in his voice. Nothing more than a moment in length, but it meant so much more. "Chanaur.... Something is still troubling you. What is it?"

He sighed. She touched his chest again, and he shivered. "It's just that..... I value our friendship above anything else...." He looked at the bracelet on her wrist, smiling slightly. "I'm afraid.... That if you knew my secret, you'd leave."

"Chanaur, I would never leave you....." Carrie kissed him on the neck. "Ever."

Carrie looked into his eyes, reading them as one would a book. "Carrie?" He looked slightly unnerved. Chanaur looked down into her eyes, as he felt hers search within him. God, how is it she can always tell when something important is on my mind....? It's as though she can read my thoughts.... Not that I mind, much. It makes her easier to talk to in these sort of instances....

"The wonderful thing about a person's eyes....." Carrie began, leaning in closer.... Always closer. "They're a window into their soul. By looking into them, you can tell what their thinking.... What kind of a person they are.... And in some cases, you can see to thier heart, to their closest guarded secrets." she sighed, and her eyes saddened slightly. "But.... You guard yours too close. It must be..... Very important."

"Yes...." He reflected her sorrow. "Most people don't realize this....." He sighed. "Do you know how many times I've lost myself in the deapths of your beautiful eyes?"

Carrie blushed, her gaze falling from his face. "You hopeless flirt...." She smiled. "Wait.... do you really think my eyes are pretty?"

"Why, of course. How could anyone say otherwise?" Sometimes, I wonder if she ever uses a mirror....

"Your eyes...." She smiled, still flattered. "The perfect shade of gray-green...." She touched his cheek just below his eye with her thumb. The rest of her hand burried itself into his hair. "Your a very handsome man...." She trailed off, sighing.

"Carrie...." He tried not to blush, but Carrie saw through it. "Do you know what love is?"

She shook her head. "No.... Not first hand."

"Well...." He began, putting a hand on her cheek. "Love is what you discover, once you lift the veil from your eyes..... And you take a good, hard look at the people you once thought as just friends." He laughed slightly. "That's Taolin's definition."

"Well....." Carrie hesitated, noticing just how close to home what he had said had come. "What's yours?"

"Not any different, really. I just never gave it much thought."

"Why not?" Carrie asked quietly, loosening her hold.

"Because, when I had someone to love who returned my feelings, it didn't matter." He kissed her on the cheek.

She blushed again, but kept his eyes. "We really should be going...." Reinhardt muttered, his voice giving away that he hated to break up this moment.

Carrie moved away completely, as Chanaur smiled at her. He knew he had stirred something in her, but he didn't know what.

He followed her through the rose garden, Reinhardt in the lead. He let his mind wander off. What had just happened? A simple appology had somehow escalated into yet another one of their rare moments. Those few instances that he knew they were more than friends....

But, that knowledge was usually cast in shadows shortly after.

He had always wondered if Carrie saw these encounters the same way, or not.

Before he knew where he was, he was back in the garden maze entrance. He opened the gate, and stepped through it, and walked leisurely on, his heart unusually light.

He had just passed the first right turn when a flash of gray caught his eyes. He ducked just in time to save his head, and Carrie sliced it in half with her axe.

Chanaur drew his sword as the red dog came from the first left turn. He ran it through, just as the man started running from the direction of the copper door.

"I thought you freed their souls!" Carrie shouted, as she incinerated the Garden Keeper.

"So did I!" Chanaur growled, as the gray dog sprang back to life.

"Well, I guess the plan is run again, isn't it?" He called, ripping the things head off. He jerked the whip back, flinging the head through a window somewhere in the Villa.

"No...." Chanaur muttered, as the head regenerated before the body hit the ground. The three guardians rushed en masse, finally scoring.

The gray dog forced Chanaur, Carrie and Reinhardt apart. The red one grabbed Carrie's leg in it's teeth, dragging her to the ground. The corpse stalked forward, the chainsaw revving.

Chanaur screamed in rage, slamming a fist into the ground. Several stalagmites of stone errupted beneath the three creatures, impaling all of them.

Carrie freed her leg, only to find it incapacitated. Tendons had been severed, bones had been cracked.

Chanaur scooped her up, thanking her again for the elemental magic she had taught him. Reinhardt was soon to follow, as the stalagmites retracted themselves, and the creatures regenerated.

They were now right behind them, the Copper door just in front of them. Frantically, Chanaur cast the holy barrier behind him, Reinhardt barely making it through to his side.

The guardians, moving too fast to stop, crashed into the force field....

And promptly turned to dust. The wind brushed them away, harmlessly.

However, still the pieces began congregating.

He forced the key into the hole, and turned it, relieved to hear the loud clack. He threw open the door, and hurled himself threw it. He landed up to his hips in water. "An irrigation ditch...." He heard Reinhardt mutter as he slid the bar into place.

Chanaur let out a deep sigh of relief, and set Carrie down on the ground. He submerged her injured leg into the water, cleansing it of infection, or anything else. Her breath hissed, and she squeezed his hand that he had placed in hers.

"Damn, he got you good..." He placed his free hand on her leg, healing it quickly. "Sorry. I didn't know that spell was temporary....."

Carrie stood up, and then fell back down. "What the.... My leg is all numb."

Chanaur nodded slightly. "Give it time. That happens when a mild poison is elliminated by the healing process."

Reinhardt sat down, letting out a huge breath. "You know, the monsters seem to be focusing on Carrie, more than any of us... Why do you suppose that is?"

"My guess is that Dracula has realized how powerful she is." Carrie smiled up at him "If she gets incapacitated, then we'll have a hell of a time getting through this. Actually, we'd have a hell of a time getting through this with any one of us dead. But just the same...." He matched her smile. "She could definitely cause the most damage."

"I'll take that as a complement." Carrie laughed, testing her leg again, finding it still numb.

"Just a thought." Chanaur said, sitting down next to her. "Where's Milenia?"

"She followed Malus into the Forest of Silence, to make sure he made it through."

"Armed with just the Staff of Time?" Chanaur questioned.

"Yep. Believe it or not, that's a very powerful weopon. She can reverse, slow, stop, or even speed up time." Carrie smiled. "The one type of magic none of us can do."

Two loud thumps hit the door, followed by a lot of snarling and growling. "Best be going now. How's your leg?" Carrie stood a little wobbly, but it functioned. "To Hell with it." He picked her up again, and ran for the small bridge spanning the irrigation ditch.

Shortly afterward, the chainsaw again severed the iron bar, the door splintering as the dogs attacked again. Reinhardt bolted after him, barely getting up to the bridge before he was caught by the hellhounds.

Then, they all stopped. The red dog froze in mid pounce. The grey dog's growls ceased. The Garden Keeper's deadly arm stopped it's descent on Reinhardt's head. (For which he was very thankful.)

Chanaur sighed, wondering why that had happened. "Hmph. They must not be able to chase us once we're out of reach."

Then they unfroze, and stalked back through the door. The dogs were a little reluctant to leave their targets, but then followed their master.

The heavy, clanking footsteps soon reached a running pace. The door to the east exploded, and they came through yet again. Carrie locked them all in solid blocks of ice, and turned and ran in the opposite direction.

They soon came upon what looked like the entrance to a mausoleum. Seeing no other route, they dove into it.

Carrie prepared to barricade the door, but Chanaur put a hand on her shoulder. "No. They can't come here."

"How do you know?" She asked quietly, lowering her hands.

"Just a feeling."

They walked down the long staircase, to the tomb. Lit by a series of torches that lined the wall, the room smelled of spices, the kind used to help the smell of decay. The cieling was high, braced by a pair of large iron bars. In the gloom, there were several skeletons. Some were laying on the ground. Other's were mounted on pikes, where they had been impaled.

But none of them moved.

"Dracula's powers can't reach here. This is hollowed ground." Chanaur said, grimacing at the impaled bodies.

"And.... A hideout during the day." Reinhardt muttered, pointing accross the room.

There, on a small dais, lay a coffin, the lid closed.

"He's out hunting." Reinhardt sighed.

"No....." Chanaur muttered, looking around. "Listen."

Carrie strained her ears, listening for anything unusual. Then she heard it. A crunching, squelching sound. She looked up at the ceiling, just in time to see a lifeless body fall to the floor.

She looked up, seeing the undead creature. Then she heard Chanaur cry out, as he looked at the body.

Carrie's heart stopped. It was Milenia, her color bone shattered, blood pouring from her neck.

That explains the crunching sound....

She looked up at the vampire, seeing the small wings on it's arms. It smiled broadly, blood falling from it's mouth, spattering Milenia's pale face. "Very rude of you to interupt someone who is enjoying his meal....."

He stood up on the ceiling, glaring down at Reinhardt, seeming to recognize him. "Or should I think differently.... Like the main course has arrived....?"

Chanaur brought out his bow, readying a light arrow. Reinhardt readied his whip. Carrie had yet to tear her eyes from poor Milenia.

The creature dropped from the ceiling, falling just feet from the trio, Milenia between them. The fall would have broken both of a normal person's legs, but his didn't even buckle. "I will kill you here!" The chiropteran shouted, as it came forward, slowly.

Carrie finally snapped out of it, bringing out her bo. It cicled around, keeping it's eyes locked on Reinhardt. "The Belmont. I wish to fight the Belmont...." The chiropteran licked it's lips, and eyed the others.

Carrie and Chanaur stepped back, but didn't lower their weopons.

Reinhardt had his whip wrapped around his left arm, ready to attack. He stalked it, waiting for it to make the first move.

Then it pounced, ducking the whip. It stood up, slashing down. Rienhardt ducked the attack, bringing his dagger up into it's eye.

The creature howled in anger and pain, then leaped up to one of the iron bars. He pulled the dagger out, throwing it at Carrie. She dodged this, but just barely.

Reinhardt followed the dagger, and when he saw Carrie to be alright, he returned his attention to the creature. But it was gone.

The air was silent, save for a slight scuttling heard above. Reinhardt closed his eyes, reaching out with his mind. He was in a form of Meditation. Waiting. Waiting....

Behind and above you.... A voice in his head whispered. He spun around, his eyes still closed, and cast his whip.

Five glowing tendrils branched out of the tip, wrapping the chiropteran by the feet, hands, and neck. He then jerked it back, slamming it into the ground. Pulling back, he was pleased to see the electricity begin to fry it.

It screamed in pain, as it's eyes widened, giving it an even more animal-like appearance. Reinhardt ripped back on the whip again, sending it to fly toward the dais.

Before it landed, Chanaur let the Light arrow fly, scoring on it's chest. A brilliant flash of light consumed it, and it finally hit the floor.

Groaning, it stood up, slowly, using only it's feet. It cluthed it's arms around the arrow, ripping it free. "C....Cannot be!" It was consumed in Purple flames, as it screamed, "I, a vampire, defeated by a human?!?" It fell to the ground, rolled, and the arms tightened convulsively. Then the body went slack. The chiropteran turned into black dust, and blew away.

Carrie, Chanaur, and Reinhardt walked up to the Dais. Reinhardt cast the lid off, revealing an empty Coffin.

Chanaur sighed, shaking his head. "Now where do we go?"

He heard Carrie give a strangled, choking cry. Then that strange squelching sound was heard again, and Chanaur knew what had happened.

He spun around, seeing Milenia gnawing on Carrie's neck. His eyes widened, and he drew fumbled for a new light arrow.

Carrie growled, raising her hands to the ceiling. She called on the power of Earth, and the ceiling to the mausoleum started rumbling.

Then a section of the roof fell away, bathing them in sunlight. Milenia screamed, and stumbled backward, releasing Carrie. Her body dissolved in purple flames, just like the Chiropteran.

Carrie stumbled back a few steps, before slumping against the wall, cradling her neck. Chanaur fished a purifying crystal from his pack, his eyes down.

When he looked up, she was gone. He saw a trap door close, with a loud clack.

His heart racing, Chanaur dove for the spot she had dissapeared into. He fought to tear it back open, knowing that Carrie didn't have a purifying.....

All to no avail. Sighing heavily, he slumped against the wall, hanging his head to cry. He said she wouldn't die.... But he never said anything about her being imune to vamparism....

Then the world fell away. A stone left his chest, as he turned over in mid air, ready to meet the ground.

Hang on Carrie.... I'm coming.

End part ten.

Part eleven