you thought there was a system. there were supposed to be contingencies in place, there were people with unhealthy fixations and large weapons available for this specific scenario, to ensure that you would never have to even think about him again. but, well, here you are. looking at the gate to your asshole dad’s castle.
(there’s something telling you that you need to put a label on what you’re about to do, something like…ＡＸＥＡＲＭＯＲ. no, that’s not right. there’s something even further back telling you that it’s not so much a label as it is a new name. a fresh start. there’s something else so repulsed at the idea of the whole endeavor, of your whole everything, it just wants to call it ＡＳＳ and be done with it.)
so those contingencies pretty fucking obviously failed you, and no one’s about to tell you why. so you have to go in, and you do. and what a surprise! it’s your asshole dad’s asshole friend, taking all your best shit. it wouldn't be the first time someone in this castle took away the things you cared about because they thought it wasn’t right for you. but it’s not like you’ll want for swords, at least. your dad always buys every shitty mall katana he can get his claws on and just leaves them around all over.
another fucking corridor sealed by a magical force, or a blocked lever, or a ledge just out of reach. you grew up with this shit. you know? it’s like, oh sure, you might be happier down this corridor, there might be something really fulfilling and gratifying just behind this door, but you’re going to have to jump through arbitrary hoops dictated by others before you can get it. sure. no problem.
well, here’s someone new in the castle, and she isn’t trying to kill you. that’s nice. it would be nicer if she didn’t have to hear your voice at all. she’s like “what’s up?” and there’s really no sense mincing words, you’re like “i’m gonna burn this piece of shit castle to the ground.” she’s like “nice, same, i’m maria.”
maria is a very nice name. ouch, but it would be nicer if she hadn’t just asked about your name. that would be great, if you didn’t have to twist yourself up for an agonizing few moments before… saying that piece of shit name your piece of shit dad gave you. fuck! fuck, she didn’t even know you! you could have said — fuck, why are you even worried about this, what does it mean that you’re worried about this?
she gives you a look you’re not sure how to interpret. not hostile, just… “you don’t talk much, do you? well, that’s cool. catch you around, if you live that long. later.”
hah. sometimes, you really, sincerely hope you don’t. fuck. why did anyone have to be here? ANYWAY, SHE SEEMS NICE.
the outer walls were always the shittiest, draftiest place in the castle. well, one of them. you hate them a lot, and then you reach that room with the seal. this place never gave you good vibes. something about it felt wrong in a way you couldn’t place. it’s not as though it was out of place, growing up in a mystical disappearing castle full of the undead and demons and strange beasts, it’s that… you felt wrong. you still feel wrong. the inscribed stone locks of the seal swivel apart, there’s a blinding flash-
(it’s not like you can see your own reflection. you always blamed that wrongness on the curse of your bloodline. it has to be, right? and you could always feel something like that wrongness reflected from behind that seal.)
— and you emerge. there’s no doubt about it. it’s your flat chest, it’s your broad shoulders, it’s your too-deep voice loosing a twisted laugh, it’s a sick fucking joke, it’s a punch to the guts, it’s exactly the kind of shit the old man would throw at you. it’s — it’s throwing fucking knives at you, shit.
you shake it off. it’s another illusion, or one of the castle’s tricks, and right now it’s in your way. and honestly? if you tried to say you’d never thought about destroying your own body, it would be a lie. and now it’s a matter of survival. part of you thrills at each slash that scores the thing through its copied clothes. part of you worries you might enjoy it too much, wonders what that might mean and then balks from it. and then it’s dead, just like that. its warped, screaming form twists back into the blinding light within the seal before the locks slam shut again.
you know what? that probably wasn’t a dracula at all.
maria’s nice, but it’s the little things she does without even knowing that kill you. it’s the way when she says your name it feels like a stake through the heart. the way she says you know how to act like a gentleman as if that was something to be proud of, as if it wasn’t drilled into you against everything you couldn’t even articulate that you wanted. she’s looking for one of the people who usually beat the shit out of your asshole dad every time he comes around. you haven’t seen him, but if you do, you've got some questions. like, “why didn’t you do your job, you fucker? why am i awake in this shithole instead of sleeping in my nice coffin sealing my asshole dad’s shitty bloodline away from the world?”
it was nice in that coffin.
scylla. now THERE’S a look. it’s been ages, and she still looks just as beautiful as ever. the kind of beauty that twisted you up because you were a monster growing up in a castle full of monsters and even then you felt like you didn’t belong. you thought maybe it was because you were half-human, but then, scylla was half-human too, so you thought why couldn’t i have been a monster like her and didn’t know what to do with that thought. it’s still fucking you up a bit, but you think you might know now, or at least start to know.
“well well,” she says, idly petting one of her dogs. “the prodigal son returns.”
you sit down on a broken pillar, take off a glove, let another dog lick your hand. “scylla, i don’t think…” you sigh. “that’s not me anymore. “
“what? after all these years, the son of the master of the castle returns to oppose him, and you say it isn’t you?”
“i don’t know. i don’t want to be his son, scylla. i don’t want to be anyone’s son. i don’t even know what that means.”
she settles her serpentine bulk back into her pool and frowns. “the one thing we can’t help in this world is who made us, child. the master sired you, and you are of him. you can’t change that.”
“it’s not that he’s my dad, it’s… why are you defending him, anyway? after all he did to me! and you, he leaves you down here to rot! you deserve so much better than a shallow pool in a musty cave, but you accept this! you all just sit here and let some asshole dictate the course of your entire lives, how can you stand that?”
one of her worms wraps itself around your waist and lifts you up to set you atop her dogs. “because it’s all we have, child. i can’t pretend it’s not dreary or downright wretched sometimes, but it’s the best we can ask for in this world of humans.”
“i think we can do better. i have to believe it. i don’t want you to live like this forever, scylla.”
she wraps you in a warm, damp hug. “i’m sorry. i don’t know where your path will take you, child, but… don’t be a stranger.”
the coliseum was always where the shittiest, sweatiest jocks gravitated to work out and flex and basically just impose their masculinity everywhere. a stranger to the castle might think undead and ghosts can’t sweat, because they’re dead. they can. it’s awful.
you step into the dust of the central arena and someone, of course, starts cackling from the bleachers. “OPEN HELL’S GATE! COME FORTH MY SERVANTS”
you’re like “WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE, COME ON. WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO KID”
“CRUSH THIS FLEA WHO INVADES MY CASTLE!”
“YOU AREN’T MY FUCKING DAD, DUDE”
he summons a couple jocks and by the time you beat them he’s already gone. that was totally one of those dudes who is supposed to be beating the shit out of your asshole dad right now. probably the one maria was looking for. what the fuck! you walk out the other side of the arena, pick up a weird orb, and-
that’s the form of mist.
your limbs and body dissolve into a misty cloud and it’s enough to make you cry. you wish you could stay like this forever, unformed, unknowable, untouchable. no body to betray you with its lumbering size or ceaseless hunger, just pure potential, tempered oblivion. it’s almost like being in the coffin, in that dreamless death-like sleep, but it’s better. it’s almost like being alive, except where you never felt like your body was truly your own, now the body you always directed from afar is sublimated and made one with your intellect. and then, of course, the spell fades, and you have to return to the shock and revulsion of physicality. back to your body.
you start thinking about names for girl draculas.
the bat form is the worst. when you’re a wolf, there’s the thrill of speed, of the hunt and the chase. when you’re mist, well, what more can you say about that? but when you’re a bat, it’s all blind, flapping terror, hoping you don’t run into something, hoping you can reach a ledge and rest your tired wings. it sucks, but you found a lot of sweet shit, at least. like some spike breaker armor.
you spend a while hurling your whole body into spikes and cackling as they shatter. you pretend they’re your dad’s teeth. down one particularly lengthy corridor of spikes, you run into maria again. she gets right to the point. “did you find the guy?”
“i think so. well, i found a guy. dude said he was the master of the castle though.”
“what? that’s impossible.”
“right? i smelled him, and he was no dracula. so like, i dunno what’s up.”
“i need to see this for myself.” and she’s gone.
it’s cool. not like you were gonna say anything important or anything.
the throne room is right there. you could waltz right in whenever you wanted, but it doesn’t feel right. you think you’re missing something.
you remember one thing that happened to you in the castle, long ago. at least, you think you do. it’s… not a nice memory. there was a room you stumbled into once, when you were still barely a child. there was an elevator down, you slipped, fell past glyph-inscribed marble, bounced off hard stone, scrabbling for purchase as you slid past dimly-glowing pentagrams, fell again, and landed, hard, at the base of a monolithic polyhedron, suspended in air and thrumming deeply. when you gathered the strength to crawl forward and look up into its hollow interior you saw blackness, a suggestion of eyes, claws, a carapace, all far bigger than your tiny form.
you remember clawing at the walls, screaming yourself hoarse, babbling just to fill the silence, to abate the perpetual gloom, to distract yourself from the building hunger. you don’t remember how long you spent in there. you don’t remember who found you. your father never spoke of it and somehow that was worse than if he had admonished you or beaten you. sometimes you start to doubt it even happened, but it comes back when you least expect it. like right now, in the clock room in the middle of the castle, staring at a crack in the floor. with a draft.
you call on the power of your cursed blood and the crack opens. this is fucked up. you hop down into the open pit beneath you and land just in front of the elevator. you clamp down on a wave of nausea and fear and step inside. the cage doors slam shut and the winch lowers you tortuously down through the floor. beneath your feet, glowing in the gloom, is that mysterious polyhedron. the elevator grinds to a halt. you step out and descend, and memories bubble up uncontrollably — the time your dad said you had learned enough from the castle witches and changed that study time into coliseum exercises, the time you asked the arachnes to weave you a dress and your dad found it and burned it, the time you pored over every tome in the library looking for a spell or a potion or a curse to turn you into a girl — god, your childhood sucked shit. you arrive at the base, raw, vulnerable. you stand on the platform, gaze up into the blackness above you, and will it to rise.
what the fuck is maria doing in here?
“alucard!” she cries, “you were right!”
“no. i was wrong. i was wrong when i told you my name. that’s not me anymore. you can call me…” you take a shuddering breath. “call me elvira.”
she blinks. “oh my god, sweetie. elvira. i just meant about richter, dude’s lost it. but oh my god. come here.”
she hugs you, tight. you’re crying. you needed this.
“elvira, it’s nothing. you are gorgeous and smart and powerful, and also we really need to deal with this whole richter thing before shit gets any worse.”
you wipe your face. “right.”
“anyway, i made these.” she pulls out a pair of earrings. “originally i had glasses for you and these were gonna be mine, but i figure you could use them more.”
“they’re lovely, what do they do?”
“when you wear them, they should dispel any evil illusions. good luck out there, elvira! and try not to hurt that moron too badly.”
“thanks again, so much.” you give maria another hug, and the two of you once more part ways.
back in the clock room, you fasten on the earrings, take a deep breath, and look down at your chest. still flat. if it were a few days ago this probably would have destroyed you for reasons you couldn’t even start to grasp, but now, you know what? this is you, this is real. you’re a woman. you can work past a flat chest.
well, it was worth a shot.
you enter the throne room once more. that dude is there, richter.
“i’ve been waiting for you,” he says.
“why in the hell are you trying to bring my dad back?”
“count dracula rises but once each century, and my role is over. if i can resurrect him, then the battle will last for eternity!”
“that’s dumb. that’s really dumb. you know i’ve got this holy mail on, right? it’s not gonna go well for you, dude.”
he pulls out a fancy whip, and you catch something glittering in the air above his head. looks like an evil illusion. his whip lashes across your breastplate as you charge forward, vault over his head, and bring your sword down squarely on the cloaked green orb hovering just behind him. it shatters, and richter slumps to the floor. you see an apparition appear in the roiling mist that erupts from the broken sphere, a robed, hooded figure.
“you’ve defeated me, but all is not lost,” the figure says.
“are you another one of my dad’s asshole friends?”
“the resurrection of count dracula is at hand!” laughing, the figure fades into the thinning mists. what the fuck. why does your dad have so many asshole friends? where does he find them, where do they all even come from? dude just stuffs his whole castle full of assholes and cheap swords.
the whole chamber starts to shake. you grab richter and run outside. maria runs up the stairs to meet you. from out of the swirling vortex over your heads, a massive shape descends.
“elvira! what’s going on?”
“can you believe this shit? he put another fucking castle on top of his castle! what the fuck is that! two castles? asshole!”
“is richter okay?”
you hear him groan “what have i done?”
“you’ll be fine, you baby. serves you right for trying to resurrect my shitty dad.”
“your… father? it’s said my ancestor trevor fought alongside the son of dracula, but that was over 300 years ago!”
“christ, 300 years already? yeah, that was me. but uh, not his son anymore. daughter of dracula now. call me elvira. the dude who controlled you, he up there?”
“yes, i think so. i’m sorry for the trouble i’ve caused you.”
“yeah! this is honestly the last place in the world i’d rather currently be! you fucked up, pretty bad! maria, you’d best take richter and get out of here. i’m gonna go up there and fight my shitty dad.”
“take care, elvira.” she shoulders the still-weak richter and they start down the stairs. you stride back through the throne room, enter the small tower just beyond, and step into the pillar of light.
this castle is even LESS convenient than the first castle your asshole dad plopped onto that transylvanian cliff. the architecture is all fucked and the platforms are too far apart, but now you know the tricks. you’ve got all the moves and you’ve found all the swords. you can’t murder your dad until you round up all the dracula chunks he secreted around this bullshit funhouse, but that’s just a matter of time. you feel better than you’ve felt in pretty much your entire life. you wouldn’t trade this feeling for the world.
these are the over-reaches of the castle. in the lower castle, they were the catacombs and caverns beneath the castle but, well, you know. everything’s all fucked up here. you enter a maw-shaped cavern and come face-to-skull with your asshole dad’s asshole friend again. your dad is literally so shitty that the personification of death hangs out with him.
“so, you’ve made it this far… in the name of your father, cease this foolishness!”
“what do you mean by ‘foolishness,’ exactly?”
“you… you know what i mean. what you’re doing here. what you’re, what you’re telling people. what if they say something? why are you putting your father through this?”
“i give a fuck about my dad! i hope people say something. i hope everyone knows dracula’s got a gay daughter now.”
“you should be ashamed of yourself!”
“so be it. for the master, i’ll feast on your soul this night!”
“fucking good luck with that, dude, i’ve got a crissaegrim”
it’s over in seconds. you step over his dissolving heap of shitty bones and press forward, into the caverns beyond. a chill wave sweeps over you. oh shit. no wonder your dad didn’t want you coming up here.
this is where the women like you live.
snow drifts gently from the ceiling. you sit with the ice spirit by a frozen pool in these catacombs high above the world.
“so what’s it like working for that galamoth guy?” you ask.
“well, he’s a god of lightning trying to take over the underworld, and he’s an asshole. it kinda sucks, honestly.”
“benefits are nice, though. i mean, girls like us, we take what we can get.”
“i hear that.”
the two of you sit for a while, enjoying the quiet company. you break the silence first.
“when did you, like…” she cocks her head, waiting for you to continue. “when did you figure shit out?”
she laughs. “it’s been years now and i’m still figuring shit out. i just do the best i can. how about you? when did you know?”
“i don’t know about when i knew knew, you know? but i know i’ve been feeling like this for… christ, about 400 years.”
she gives a low whistle. “that’s better than i could manage.”
“yeah, lemme tell you, immortality? it kinda blows sometimes. i finally figured that it wasn’t going to go away and decided to just go for it pretty much like… yesterday.”
“oh my god, that’s adorable! i’m so happy for you!”
she hugs you and you both start laughing. it’s an open laugh, unguarded and sincere.
“is there anything you can tell me about like… i dunno, looking like a girl?”
she looks you over. “i’m gonna say what i wish someone had told me back in the day. ultimately? it’s bullshit. if people want to be dicks to us, they’re gonna be dicks. being a lady isn’t about how you look, because there’s only so much you can do to blend in. it’s about what you do and who you love and how you love. and that means loving yourself, too. it means looking as good as you want to look. i mean, look at you. you’ve got the hair, you’ve got the looks, you’ve got the style, you can do whatever you want with that and you’re gonna kill it because you’re gorgeous.”
“oh gosh. gosh.”
“try not to worry so much about what people who aren’t like you and don’t know you think of you. i mean, i know that’s a tall order, but the most important thing is to love and support our own, you know?”
“yeah. yeah, i do know. ”
“i probably said that all wrong.”
“no, it was good! it helped. thank you. speaking of killing it, though, i should probably go kill my dad now.”
“good luck! fuck that guy.”
“though, before i go… do you, uh…”
she smiles, her ice-blue eyes twinkling with something lascivious. “yes?”
“wanna… make out?”
“damn right i do.”
you’re in the heart of the upside-down castle now, the mirrored clock room of the castle below. the dracula chunks in your backpack start resonating and with a terrible groan, the entrance to the central tomb grinds open above you. you take wing and fly to the top of the polyhedron glowing in the darkness. you drop down inside to find the same figure you saw in the mist behind richter, in the flesh. or, in the astral projection outside of the flesh which is in the big orb in the middle of the room.
“i am the dark priest called shaft. you have done well in making it this far. i would expect no less from the son of our master.”
“do they call you shaft because you’re a huge fuckin dick?”
“wh-what? how dare you?”
“no, how fucking dare you? how dare you call me his son, how dare you try to bring back my dad? you don’t know what it’s like to fucking live with him! do you think he’ll reward you for this? he won’t! he’s just gonna ruin everything!”
“what’s done is done. we’ll see what happens when i destroy your weak human side!”
his projection retreats into the orb that houses his body and you leap after it and start hacking. glass cracks and splinters under your strikes. with a deafening crash, the orb bursts, and the mangled form of the priest tumbles to the crypt floor.
“fuck you, dude! do not pull this shit on me!”
he coughs, blood speckling his lips. “but my goal is achieved…”
you grab him by the robes and pull his face next to yours. “what do you mean?” you scream. “what the fuck do you mean?”
he gives a gurgling laugh and dies and you realize you aren’t in the crypt anymore. in fact, you don’t really seem to be anywhere anymore. the only thing in this featureless void is the body of the priest, and… something else. a throne, and on the throne-
“well met, my son! it’s been a long time.”
“oh my goddd, fuck OFF dad. i think you know damn well by now that i’m not your fucking son.”
“come, alucard, you cannot change who sired you.”
“my name,” you growl, “is elvira.”
“what? what foolishness is this? that’s no name for a man! what was wrong with the name i gave you?”
“dad, you piece of shit, you literally named me alucard.”
“it’s traditional! my boy, come to your senses.”
you grit your teeth. “don’t fucking call me that, dad.”
“well pardon me! this is hard for me too, you know. i’m just trying to understand you! first you turn against our dark crusade, and now this? by the curse of our immortal bloodline, you’ll always be a son to me!”
“i am going to hit you six billion times with this sword i got from a fucked up ghost in your library.”
“get the FUCK out of here! i never want to fucking see you again!”
dracula gasps from the countless wounds you inflicted across his twisted form. “h-how? how is it that i have been so defeated?”
“probably because you were the worst fucking dad in the world, and because i’m better than you, you heartless sack of shit.”
“ah… sarcasm. ‘for what profit is it to a man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul’? matthew 16:26, i believe.”
“that wasn’t fucking sarcasm. you don’t get to minimize my feelings anymore.”
“tell me. what… what were lisa’s last words?”
“she said ‘stop misgendering your daughter and stay fucking dunked.’ fuck you! after what you put both of us through? you don’t deserve to know!”
“lisa… forgive me!”
“under what fucking obligation?”
“hah, yes. yes, i suppose… i’ve been a monster. farewell… my daughter.”
“bit late for that, dad. see you in hell.”
he screams as a blinding column of light erupts beneath him, incinerating his monstrous flesh. it radiates outwards, engulfs you-
(honestly, it wouldn’t be so bad to end like this. you were already riding pretty high on the whole “being a girl” thing, plus making out was great, and to top it all off you just got to kill your shitty dad again. you learned a lot about love, friendship, forgiveness, and the true power inside yourself, or maybe the friends you made along the way, or probably both. if this had been earlier, you would’ve thought it best to go out on a high note before everything turned to shit, but something in you now rejects that. it feels like things are gonna get better, and even if they aren’t, you’re gonna find new ways to keep going anyway. so you fight.)
— and you’re elsewhere. you blink your eyes in the absence of the purifying flame and find yourself in the throne room. the regular one. the stones lurch under your feet and the whole room groans. you burst outside to find a vortex where once loomed the upper castle, sucking up the spires around you. you run for it.
you land on a cliff, across the moat from the ruins of the castle. you, uh, remembered that you could fly if you wanted, so that helped your escape. some familiar figures wave in the distance. you approach them.
“elvira!” calls maria. “good to see you made it too!”
“again, i’m sorry,” says richter. “it’s my fault you had to fight your own father.”
“eh. i was gonna do that anyway. fucker had it coming.”
“what’s your plan now, elvira?” asks maria.
“the blood that flows in my veins is cursed, and must be contained for the good of the world. so uh, gonna go murder my balls, and that should fix that problem nicely. richter, i dunno when i’ll see you again, and you might die before then, so if you see trevor in the afterlife or wherever, tell him i always thought he was solid and i’m a hot lady now.”
“should we meet in the next world, i’ll give him your regards.”
maria knits her brow. “you going it alone?”
you pause for moment. “i was just kinda assuming i would. what are you suggesting?”
“you want some companionship on the road? i’d be happy to tag along if you’d have me.”
“do you mean, like…”
“elvira, i’m gay as hell. what do you think it means?”
“wow. same! all right, then. let’s get out of here.”
the two of you turn your backs on the wreckage of your asshole dad’s castle, and set off to face a new day. next time that fucker comes back it is someone else’s problem.
I AM THE WIND
I AM THE SUN
AND ONE DAY WE’LL ALL BE ONE