Dark Legacy Part Twelve: The Tunnel

Author's note: Even though this part was destined to be a long, boring description of a level, I have to admit I had fun with it. Personally, I think spiders are the coolest, but I thought it would be fun if Reinhardt was an arachnophobe. Also, this touches on Raziel, too. Well, more than just touches, but you know what I mean.

Reinhardt shook his head. Once again, he found himself alone. He was losing his friends, and fast. Except for the fact that Carrie and Chanaur would be back..... Vincent, Milenia, and Rosa,an the other hand.....

He sighed heavily. He just couldn't keep his mind off of Rosa...

He walked up to the coffin, and removed the lid. Empty.

"Well, now where do I go?" He sat down on the coffin. "I can't go back out there, with those...." He stopped. There was a quiet creaking coming from just behind him..

Turning around, he looked into the casket, and saw the bottom moving aside. "Huh. A hidden path."

Looking deeper, all he saw was darkness. Although he couldn't be sure, he could of swore that he heard machinery.....

Is this the way I go?

Deciding it was the only way left, he climbed inside. Lowering himself as much as possible, to muffle his fall, he let go.

As he landed, he became aware of a strange sensation. Something soft and filmy touched his skin, tickling him slightly. Pulling it off of his face, he found what it was, and dropped it immediatly.

Oh, no.... He stepped back from the web, his whip in his hand immediately. Anything but spiders... Much less giant spiders....

Looking up, he realized that he had fallen through the base of an enormous web, wich covered a good deal of the ceiling. Of course, that meant it was about ten, twenty feet in diameter.

Brushing the rest of the vile stuff from him, Reinhardt shivered violently. He hated spiders. He had been bitten by one as a child, and nearly died from the venom...

Turning around, he realized where the sound of machinery was coming from. He walked forward, peering through the mist.

Mist? In a tunnel?

Just to his right, he saw a sign wich read, Rock crusher. No entry!

"That was nice of him. Puting up a warning sign." Shaking his head at the irony, he continued forward, to get a good look at this 'rock crusher.'

Reinhardt gagged. Although it may have been originally used for rocks, it was apparently also used for.... executions. A slow moving conveyer belt brought whatever was placed on it to a pair of large blades. Blades stained with blood.

Bodies littered the small recieving pad between this side of the crusher and the other. Reinhardt timed the blades, and slipped under just before they landed on him. Picking his way among the numerous corpses, he ducked under the second pair of blades, and ran up the conveyer belt. This one was quite a bit faster than the other, and he had only just recovered in time to save himself.

More than a little shocked, Reinhardt continued on. If there were giant spiders in this place, where were they?

He came to a small, one person service elevator. Stepping on the red panel, he waited as it lowered him to a second level.

With the familiar sound of metal grating against metal, the machine stopped. Stepping off, he looked around. A dead end, again. All that was here was a poisonous river, flowing to the west.

He stepped closer to the shore, hoping for a way to cross, but a sheer rock wall. Stepping closer to check for possible footholds, he noticed someone in the water...

Wait a sec... How could anyone survive in that acid....?

The person was hunched over, seeming to be looking for something. It must have heard him, because it straightened, and Reinhardt noticed a few things....

First, it was a female.

Second, she had a large spider tatooed on her back.

Third, she was turning too him, her arms held accross her bare chest.

Reinhardt readied his whip, not trusting anything that could live in that water. He watched her a few minutes more, and she watched him....

Until she dropped her arms, and searched for something under the water. She pulled out a trident, and stepped forward.

When her lower portion came from below the surface, Reinhardt's blood ran cold. So that's where the giant spider web came from....

An arachne. A creature with the top portion of a woman, and the bottom half, that of a gargantuan spider.

A second one emmurged from the water, skittering forward on all eight legs. Pedipals clicked. Spears readied themselves. The attrocities came closer, and Reinhardt backed away. The service elevator had gone back up. He was cornered, and the only way out was to fight.

He cast his whip, aiming for the spider's legs. He caught one, and ripped violently. Now that it was off balance, he threw a cross.

With a spray of green blood, the first arachne collapsed. The second was soon to follow. It seemed that the symbiosis was complete between the two: destroy one portion, you destroy them both.

A loud, growling hiss, and the creatures died, and dissapeared. Three large rocks came from the water, allowing a walkway to the west.

Shuddering again, Reinhardt jumped from one stone to another. He was now in another part of the tunnel, with a path to the right, and a fork further on. He decided to take the left path, and set off in that direction.

Halfway to the left fork, another arachne dropped down in front of him, supported by her dragline. Disposing of it with a throwing axe, he continued on. It felt kinda good to be killing spiders again....

At the fork, he saw two signs. One pointed left, the other right. The one on the right said nothing. The one on the left read, 'escape route.'

Taking the left path, Reinhardt followed it to another service elevator. After the brief ride up, he was in another labyrinth of passages. Walking to the first fork, pondering what he was going to do, his attention was arrested by the rush of leathery wings.

Several large bats glided toward him, squeeking loudly. Vampire bats, no doubt. Reinhardt readied his whip, and let it fly again and again. A good practice, he soon had downed all of them.

However, then a second wave came at him, larger than the first. Destroying the newcomers, he waited for anymore. He quickly looked up at the ceiling, searching for any others.

His heart skipped a beat. Hanging from the sodden roof were sleeping bats. Hundreds of them.

He decided to be as quiet as humanly possible, so as not to be hit with an entire swarm of vermin. Taking slow, almost silent steps, He took the left turn, deciding to use a systematic approach to find his way out. He would take the farthest left until it deadended, then the farthest right. Afterwords, he would work his way inward.

Following his course, he discovered a large iron door, with the releif of the moon. Moonlight releases the seal, as usual. I wonder if it's still night....

After battling another pair of arachnes, he walked to the door, and opened it. He found a small stone room, with a pillar in the center of it.

A small scroll bound by a red ribbon sat in one corner. Reinhardt picked it up, feeling his stomach growl. Even though he was on the quest of his life, he still had to eat.

He picked it up, and spoke Renon's name. At the door the demon stood, tipping his hat politely. "How may I help?" He asked briskley.

"Do you have anything to eat?" Reinhardt dug into his pockets, finding his bag of gold coins.

Renon smiled. "That won't be necessary."

Reinhardt looked at him incredulously. "You gotta be kidding me. No demon ever gives anything for free."

The smile broadened slightly. "Your friend Carrie said the same thing. I explained it to her, and she seemed satisfied."

"You convinced Carrie?" Reinhardt still didn't believe him. Carrie was one of the most stubborn people he knew, and even more skeptical when it came to demons....

"Yes." He sighed. "It took some doing, but I did. You see, the Master has ordered me to give these items to you free of charge, to facilitate your passaged through the Dark Castle." He frowned slightly. "Such a waste. We could make a massive profit off of you three if this wasn't so...."

Reinhardt found himself believing him. It was his manner that convinced him. Despite what he was, he really did seem regretful on the subject. "Oh, yes." Renon shook himself slightly. He opened his briefcase, and proffered a slab of roast beef. "I suppose this will be adequate?"

Reinhardt took it carefully from him, half expecting it to be poisoned. "Thank you...." Before taking a bite, he patted his pocket, making sure he still had that cure ampoule he had found in the supply room back in the Villa.

Renon shook his head. "I neither expect nor solicit belief from you, my comrade. After all, who trusts a demon?" He tipped his hat again, and dissapeared.

Finishing his repast, Reinhardt retraced his steps, and took the right path. Turning the sharp corner, he looked down into a steep ravine. Several large blocks stuck out of the wall at either side. A very narrow strip of stone was set just above the deadly water, proving an adequate crossing.

Reinhardt carefully lowered himself down onto the walkway, and made his way accross the ravine, his arms held out for balance. He chuckled dryly to himself. "Imagine how difficult this would be with any of those bats had been aruosed...." Looking down at the smoky surface mere feet below him, Reinhardt paled. Turning his attention back to his goal, he finally made it accross.

He climbed up the opposite side. Again taking the rightmost path, he found another dead end, a sun door set into the wall.

Sighing heavily, he went back to the fork, and took the left turn this time. Nothing more than a rock crusher. This one seemed to be less used, the bodies that littered the receiving platform were fewer. He considered going back and trying another path, when a sign caught his eye...

Take the red gondola to the transfer point, then take the blue gondola to the exit.

"Ah, now we're getting somewhere!" He dodged the blades, and picked his way through the bodies again, and found a large chasm to either side. A red gondola was waiting on a small loading dock, wich jutted out over the precipice.

Reinhardt stood before a red gondola. According to the sign, the machine would take him to the next stop, and then the exit. He jumped on it, hearing it start up.

He looked above him, seeing gears attached to the gondola start turning. They pushed against the grooved surface of a track, wich moved the carrier on.

Reinhardt held on as it picked up speed. Hopefully, he's be out of here soon. He looked forward, searching for his destination.

He was anxious, for he knew that he would see Rosa after the completion of this trial....

Raziel stirred again, rcovering from the wounds of last night's torture. He was back on the wall, in shackles. He moaned quietly as the hole in his stomach closed.

He clenched and unclenched his hands, trying to gain a little room for movement. He tilted his neck to the side, hearing it pop, again and again. He let out a short, painfilled breath as his mind cleared, reviewing the events of the days previous. Looking to his right, he saw the fire sword, the blade glowing like dull embers. The several arrows were laying at his feet, still dripping blood.

He looked about in the darkness, searching for the one who had tormented him. He found no one their, just the skeletal remains of a previous adventurer....

"So, what's your story?" Raziel asked it, seeing nothing better to do. If he wasn't going to be killed again, he might as well talk to something.

"I chose this path, Raziel." Came a quiet voice from the opposeit side of the room.

Raziel turned to the dead body, and saw a woman pulling a rack of weapons from the wall, and moving it forward about twenty feet. She stood in the center of the room now, inches from a shaft of golden light. The woman had gray hair that came down to the bottom of her head. Her lips were set into a frown, as though she felt guilty about something.

He looked at her questioningly, knowing that he had seen her somewhere before. "Who are you?"

She made no reply. She crossed to another side of the room, conjuring manacles on the wall on the wall far to Raziels left. She turned around, and conjured another set, these ones bound to the floor by chains, bathed in the light.

"Hey, are we expecting new arrivals?" Raziel asked quietly.

"Yes..." The woman spoke in a quiet, dry voice. "Chanaur, Carrie, and Reinhardt should all be arriving shortly." She turned to the ray of light, and waved a hand. A section around it shimmered. An invisible barrier had been erected around it, a prison inside of a prison. "The Master bids that they are kept here, until they escape or succumb." She turned to the wall opposite Raziel, where the skeleton rested. She spoke a few words in a forgotten tongue, and a wall of black fire roared to life.

The dark light illuminated her slightly, and Raziel found that he knew who she was. No.... He squinted, sure that he was seeing things. It can't be....

She turned to him, the frown intensifying. "Yes, Raziel." Her eyes narrowed. "Lacuna's suspicions were correct. Vankar was the incarnate, the one carrying the sleeping soul of Dracula."

"Actrise?" Raziel stared down at her. "Honey, what happened? Why.....?" His head was spinning. Good God.....

"Power, you weak minded fool." She approached him, looking up into his eyes. They were hard, cold. "Power. Power over the ice to rival Shiva herself...." A look of reverence crossed her face. "....And a place as second in comand."

Raziel strained against his tethers, trying for a chance to beat some sense into her.

She laughed icely. "You think you could stand a chance against ME?" She lifted a hand, and his throat tightened. "I could kill you now, before you had the chance to blink." Her hand closed, and his breath stopped entirely. "You know, I think I will...."

She stepped back, and the deathgrip on Raziel's throat loosened. She raised her hand again, muttering the words of magic again....

Raziel felt a frigid feeling steal over him. It started at his toes, and crept up his body, stopping when it came to his neck. His body was encased in a thin layer of ice. Suddenly, a pain he had never felt before arrested his heart. His entire torso seemed to be crystalizing....

Actrise turned from him as a scream escaped his lips. She grabbed a large mace from the rack of weapons, and came back over to him. She hefted it over her head, then stopped. "My baby brother..... I bet you feel really stupid, don't you?" Every muscle in her body seemed to be tensed, as if ready to spring. "Wether you would have given up your man beast power to save me or not, I still would have been a servant of darkness. If you hadn't, you would have probably escaped by now....."

Raziel thought back to the final battle against the Dracula Incarnate. In the void.... The daemon had been vanquished.... He was sinking into the portal to the underworld....

Actrise had appeared in the red crystal, imprisoned..... He was trying to take her hith him.... Raziel had tried to save her, and traded his wolf-man ability for her freedom.....

The crystal couldn't contain his entire power, so he could sitll use it..... But it weakened him severely....

All his thoughts shattered, along with his body. He saw nothing, his eyes no more alive than peeled grapes.

He felt hands on his cheeks as Actrise picked up his head, and stared into his eyes.... "You poor fool....." She kissed him on the lips, and a tear ran down her cheek.

And that was the last thing he remembered, before blacking out again.....

Reinhardt stood in front of the sun door, waiting paitiently for the time that it would open. The arachnes hadn't stopped theirassault yet, but they seemed somehow larger than the others.....

The gondola ride had been a nasty one. Pillars of bones had tried snapping him up, ghosts had tried to knock him off.... That, coupled with the dizzying heights, and the horrid speeds, hadn't helped any.....

The door slid open suddenly, and Reinhardt ducked inside, pushing it shut. He leaned against it, breathing heavily, glad that he was away from anymore of those giant spider bitches....

He found himself in what appeared to be an arena of sorts. High, smooth walls.... With a vaulted ceiling....

Then he got a good look around. At the very opposite of the room, he saw an enormous Arachne, obviously the Queen. She was resting just in front of the door, apparently asleep. Her abdommen was swollen with what would appear to be eggs. The woman portion was well endowed, with a beautiful face and body.

Reinhardt shuddered, and stepped forward. His code of honor prevented him from killing it while it slept, so he decided to wait for it. Besides, he need the breather....

As usual, he had no luck in that subject....

The Arachne Queen awakened, stretching. Then she saw Reinhardt, and bellowed a war cry. She spread her arms, and released several hatchlings on draglines from the egg sac on her back. They all skittered toward him, their tiny mouth-pieces clicking.

A vial of holy water got rid of them, but they were just a distraction. Out of it's mouth came a long line of silk, wich hit him right in the chest. His arms were bound to his side by the vile secretion, and he struggled valiently to escape.

Taking it into her hands, the Arachne queen started to reel him in. The spider's maw opened wide, waiting for Reinhardt to come withing range. Pedipals groped out for him, to bring him into it's mouth. Of all the ways to die..... To be eaten by a giant spider, that cannot be allowed!

He finally got enough leeway to find another vial of holy water, and prepare to through it into the oriface. The venomous fangs touched his skin, and Reinhardt tossed it in.

The jaws crunched down, and the fire flared up. It was burning from the inside now, and screeching in mortal agony.

With a hiss, the human torso discontinued from the rest of it, suspended by a new arachnid body, without eyes or anything. Just legs.

The creature skittered closer, ready to attack. Reinhardt stepped closer, readying his whip.

Just as she was within range, she reared back and issued three different sprays of acid. Reinhardt barely got away without losing his arm or worse, and then cast his whip.

But then he was caught by another line of silk.

He was bound hand and foot now, unable to move at all. The Queen swung him around, faster and faster. The rest of the room blurred, he was losing consciousness......

Then the cord broke, and Reinhardt was sent flying, screaming into the wall.

He hit the wall spread eagle, making a sound something like a scruntch. He fell to the floor in a heep, but got back up. Slowly, he was getting his equilibrium back. Too dizzy to keep standing, he fell to the ground again. The Queen was closing in on him again, this time to finish him off. Where all of her legs met, a long, venomous spine was sliding into place. A probe, probably used to suck his innards out, after they've been turned to liquids......

Feeling sick, Reinhardt drew his dagger, and waited until it was standing right over him, lowering down to him. With a viscious slash, he severed the extremety.

With a high pitched cry, the Arachne crawled back, and Reinhardt had another axe ready for her. Carrie had given him an electric axe for just such an occasion.....

It hit her in the chest. Never was good with aim..... I missed her head completely. The electric bolt shattered the body, and Rienhardt was drenched in green blood. Green spider blood.

As the scattered remains of the monster faded away, Reinhardt felt a sudden urge to be sick. Turning his head, he was sick, several times. From now on, whenever he saw a spider, he would think of this incident.....

The blood dissolved from his body, and the door opened. Thunkful that he was out of the tunnel at last, away from the giant spiders, he stepped into a small brick room. Fans were set into the walls, and a single ray of light was in the middle of it.

A young woman stood staring into the light, wearing a red dress. She had blonde hair......

It was Rosa.

She was staring sadly into it, tears streaming down her cheeks. Without another word, she stepped into the sunlight.

Her skin started to boil. Her body was dissintigrating. She was commiting suicide!

"Stop!" Reinhardt called out, running toward her. "Don't be stupid!" He wrapped his arms around her midsection, trying to drag her away.

"No!" She cried weakly, putting up a really good fight. "Don't stop me...."

Finally, he got her to safety. She collapsed to the ground as her body repaired itself. When she was whole again, she stood up and turned furiosly toward him. "Why did you stop me?! I was trying to end this horror, stop the pain!"

"It doesn't matter, Rosa." Reinhardt said sternly, though he felt a pain in his heart at her suffering. "No matter what you are, god forbids suicide."

Rosa looked like she was about to strangle him. She took another step toward him, and then another. She was right in front of him now, staring hotly at him. "Even for a vampire?" Her eyes softened. "Even if it's to rid the world of a parasite on the living? To lessen the affects of an unholy disease?"

Reinhardt nodded. There was nothing to say at this moment.....

Rosa's face changed, and drastically. The leer dropped. Her lips were back over her teeth. The tears resumed. She melted against him, weeping.

He wrapped his arms around her tight. He massaged her back, trying to calm her down. "So....." She sobbed, her grip on him tightening. "Even in death, my sinful soul cannot hope for forgiveness..... I've been damned to eternal life.... As a half being....."

"Rosa....." Reinhardt whispered.

Her lips touched his neck. He felt the enamels of her teeth just over his jugular. Reinhardt made no reaction. He knew Rosa. She could control herself....

Her fangs scraped over his skin, making a minute incision. "Reinhardt...." She took a deep breath, expanding delightfully in his arms. "I....." She licked his neck. "....wish things could have been different...."

"What do you mean?" He asked.

She stepped away suddenly, her eyes and face not changing. "You must kill me." She pulled a blue-steel katana from a sheeth on her belt. She placed it in his shaking hands, kneeled, and bowed her head before him.

"Th....." Reinhardt clasped his fingers around the blade. "Thats...."

"Reinhardt, please......" Her body shook with a sob. "Please. You have to end this. Either way, I will die. By starving to death, or at your hands." Her hands clasped on top of her lap. "Wether it be slow or fast, is up to you."

"Rosa, I can't-"

"Damn it, Reinhardt!" She stood up, snatching the sword from his hands. "If you love me, you will kill me!" She held it against his throat. "Or I will kill you."

Rosa's eyes were flaming. "Rosa, I love you. That's why I can't kill you." He forced the blade from her numb hands. "I know your in pain.... But if you endure, I can free you."

"Reinhardt...." The fire in her eyes quenched. "I fear.... that Death will try to force us apart....." She sheethed the blade. "I'd prefer to end it on our own terms..... here.... alone....." She kissed him on the lips. "If I may advise you..... to leave...."

"I'd have to decline." He returned her kiss. "If there's any chance that I can have you back, I will take it."

Reinhardt saw her eyes. They had become sad. "Throwing your life away for nothing....." She turned away from him, walking away. "Reinhardt, I love you. Never forget that. But it is too late for me. I-I don't want you risking your life for mine....." She turned back around and put a black rose in his hand. She began to fade away. "Please make sure this doesn't happen to Carrie and Chanaur. You must steer them toward each other, before it's too late....." She was gone.

Reinhardt stared at the place she had just been standing. He breathed deeply, and looked at the flower. His hand closed over it, and he put it in his chest pocket, along with the engagement ring.

With a loud sigh, he walked through the door at the other end of the room, and watched it slide shut. Sighing, he took stock of his new surroundings. He was in a dark corridor, lit by a couple of candles on the wall, but nothing else. The Castle Center.

Sitting under one of the sconces further down the hall, were Carrie and Chanaur, fast asleep.

As he approached, Chanaur's eyes opened. He saw Reinhardt, and stood up. "Glad to see you made it." He smiled shortly.

"The same." Reinhardt smiled back. "How is she?" He gestured to Carrie.

"Carrie's going to be fine. I found her before the curse could take deeper hold." He looked back at her, an affectionate smile crossing his face. "She even....." He stopped suddenly.

"She even what?" Reinhardt asked. His gaze shifted to her. She stirred, and her eyes opened.

She stood up, and walked over to Reinhardt, giving him a hug. "I'm glad to see you alive."

"And I you." He detached her after a short hug. He wasn't quite in the mood for this right now. He was damned close to breaking down then and there. "Where to now?"

As if in answer, all the candles snuffed out. Chanaur drew his sword. Now what?

Carrie came up beside him, standing with her back touching his. Chanaur tasted evil in the air.... He searched for Carrie's hand. She offered it to him, clasping them together.

Reinhardt cried out fleetingly, and then was silent. A loud thump announced his hitting the floor. Then a sound much like him being dragged in there direction.

Carrie bumped Chanaur away, and hefted the axe. The next thing he heard was her strangled cry directly from behind. He heard her squirm momentarily, and then stop. She was being dragged away too, faster than Reinhardt.

Panicking, Chanaur stepped forward, reaching for her attacker. All he grabbed was a vapor, perceptible by touch, but just barely. He lit a torch on the wall, and looked around for what had taken them.

They were gone. All that was left was Reinhardt's whip, Carrie's axe, and two minuscule trails of blood.

The torch went out again, as a white light came from just in front of him. Dracula was standing before him. "I have come to collect your friend." He smiled down at Chanaur. "I was originally here to see if she had considered her answer, but her impudent eyes answered all my questions."

"Where have you taken them?" Chanaur growled, readying his weapon.

"Nowhere you won't be soon." He turned away from him and began walking away. "Oh." He stopped, and turned to face him again. "You can save her, but only by giving me your oath of allegience to me."

"Never!!" Chanaur lunged for him, his sword morphing into a trident. He thrust it at the black heart, hoping to score on it, and not a lung.

A brief flash of light emanted from where the points came into contact with his body. The weapon bounced harmlessly off.

He attacked again and again, changing weapons several times. Finally, he cast holy water onto him, and then stabbed with his sword.

The Dark One glared down at him, and backhanded him. Chanaur stumbled into the wall. "The heart, you fool." He put a hand on the sword, burried hilt deepinto his stomach. "This is my stomach." He touched his chest just above his heart. "This is my heart." He put his hand back on the sword. "This is my stomach." He repeated. "This is my heart." He ripped the blade free, his stomach mending. "You should know the rules, child."

Chanaur got to his feet again. Dracula held him at bay with the sword. Chanaur backed away. Three... Two.... One.....

Three sharp blades sprung from the handle of the sword. The count lost his hand, dropping the sword.

Chanaur snatched his sword back. He drove it towards the behemoth again, taking careful aim this time....

And was caught by the throat with Dracula's forearm. He hit the low ceiling, and landed hard on the floor.

The dark one shook his newly regenerated hand out, getting some feeling into it. Angry red blotches throbbed before Chanaur's eyes, as he struggled to regain consciousness.

"Commendable." He looked at his hand, and grinned. "Your father had the same persistance streak.... Which was what killed him."

Chanaur glared up at him. "Where are my freinds?!" He seethed.

Dracula stooped down to his eye level. "You'll know soon enough. As for Carrie.... I was going to make her sacrifice quick, and quite painless...." He kicked him hard in the stomach. "But now that you've really pissed me off..... I'm going to finish her...." He grabbed his head, and forced his eyes into his. "Nice, and slow.... "

Chanaur bared his teeth, grabbing for his throat. Dracula threw him back down, turning away. "Take him to his friends. Preparations have been made for his arrival. Make sure he is awake for the first part of Carrie's.... Martyrdom."

Chanaur made a furios move for him again, but he was stopped. A living, breathing darkness surrounded him, tearing at him.

The darkness enveloped him entirely, and all else was lost.

End Part Twelve.

Part Thirtheen