Where There is Darkness

By: Highlander II

Category: Alternate Universe, Fantasy
Archive: Please ask.
Spoilers: Van Helsing
Rating: NC-17: (skip) Non-consensual sexual encounters, mind control, bondage, spanking/caning, character death.
Summary: What happens if Van Helsing doesn't defeat the Dracula beast and is taken prisoner instead? Carl and Anna have to locate Van Helsing and rescue him from Dracula's clutches before The Knights of the Holy Order learns what is going on and sends another army of operatives after the rogue monster hunter. In the meantime, Van Helsing has to survive his incarceration without losing his mind.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the words on this page; the characters belong to Stephen Sommers and Universal pictures.
Notes: Written for scifibigbang 2010. Art by: sanadafaye
Feedback: Highlander II

Part V

The Vatican – 1888

Carl puttered around the lab, piecing things together and testing chemical combinations. A small reaction generated a large smoke screen in the center of the lab that had only begun to clear by the time the Cardinal brought the latest of the operatives down for an introduction.

Three men waved hands in front of their faces to clear the smoke away. Carl continued tinkering. The Cardinal approached and introduced the two new men. Carl paid them little attention until the taller one began showing appreciation for his weaponry.

Most of the operatives who had been through had only been interested in the weapons when they were dispatched on a mission. Most of those operatives had been of little interest to him on a personal level. This one seemed to be different.

"What's this do?" he asked in a voice that definitely had Carl's attention. To the point he wished he had been paying attention when the Cardinal had performed the introductions.

Carl swallowed to wet his suddenly dry throat. "That," he almost stammered, "is a device for restraining unruly captures." Carl shuffled around the table and lifted the contraption for the new operative to inspect more closely. "It's like a stocks, but smaller. And designed for larger creatures, rather than men."

The operative grunted, but Carl knew it was a sound of appreciation. He almost smiled, but the Cardinal called Carl's new, interesting, potential friend away.

"Van Helsing!" the Cardinal snapped. "We have much to do today. Please." He directed Van Helsing toward the other end of the lab.

Carl could clearly see the man - Van Helsing - was loathe to continue the tour. The weapons were far more interesting to him.

"Come back later and I'll show you more," he whispered as he took the monster restraint back from Van Helsing.

Van Helsing lifted a corner of his mouth and gave Carl a knowing wink as he returned to stalk behind the Cardinal. This was the best thing to happen in The Order since one of the other scientists put experimental itching powder in the Cardinal's shoes.


Van Helsing returned to the lab later that evening. The excitable friar was scurrying around with chemicals and nearly dropped the entire collection when he spotted his guest.

"Oh, hello," he spluttered.

Van Helsing helped the friar settle the vials of chemicals on the table. "I am sorry, I have forgotten your name." He felt bad about that, but the items on the table had caught his attention and everything else slipped away.

The friar nodded. "My name is Carl. And if I recall, you are Van Helsing."

"I am. It's a pleasure to meet you, Carl." He waved at the table. "Talk to me about these," he said.

Carl jumped to life so quickly Van Helsing was certain the man would flutter away. For the next four hours, they looked at, discussed and demonstrated weapons, chemical compounds and any of the other gadgets Carl had lying about. At the end Van Helsing was both excited and exhausted.

He enjoyed the weapons discussion with Carl. He preferred that to the quick-fire routine from the trainers. He liked to know how the weapons functioned and what they were meant to do. Being taught only how to use the weapon didn't help him nearly as much.

"Thank you, Carl, for the lessons." He dropped his voice to a whisper, "Would it be all right for us to continue these sessions?"

Carl smiled brilliantly, but kept his voice quiet as well, "Of course, Van Helsing. Come visit whenever you'd like. Except on Wednesdays. I have a prior engagement then."

Van Helsing nodded and took his leave.


A year later Carl was still impressed with Van Helsing's never-flagging interest in weaponry. Even if the man found teasing him to be a fabulous pastime. He had no problems with Van Helsing's sense of humor, but his desire to make Carl leap to reach things was frustrating. Last week he had put Carl's goggles on top of a high shelf. It had taken him half the day to work out how to get them down. The practice frustrated him, but didn't stop him from worrying about Van Helsing when he was on a mission.

Each time his weapon enthusiastic friend was sent out to fight or capture some creature or other, Carl would spend many of the nights praying for his safe return. He would pray for the others as well, but not as fervently as for Van Helsing.

The Vatican - 1890

He was still praying. Van Helsing was out there in need of rescue. That was backwards. Van Helsing was supposed to do the rescuing.

Carl let his tests percolate and rest and froth and bubble as they needed. The answer had to be in the blood. He had Mark doing microscopic comparisons of the samples while he was working on other aspects.

The lack of progress on this was irritating him more than his other projects. He was accustomed to having more time to figure out these things. The window of opportunity for getting Van Helsing back was beginning to close.

Mark returned from his investigation looking weary, but not disappointed. "We may have progress," he said quietly.

"Really?" Carl asked, keeping his excitement under control. He couldn't afford to get his hopes up over blood samples.

"Yes," Mark nodded. "There's an isotope in the werewolf sample that isn't present in the non-werewolf sample."

"Good," Carl said. "We might be able to use that." He scurried around his lab table working around his still-bubbling tests. "Can you do something for me? Can you search the library for any references to cures for werewolves?"

Mark nodded again, but didn't leave yet. "I thought those were all old folk tales?"

"Probably are. But there is a hint of truth in most folklore. Find what you can?"

"Of course." Mark departed for the library.

The Vatican – 1889

Van Helsing ducked the flying tree trunk, caught his foot on a protruding root, fell and rolled down the embankment. He reached for a loose root as he slid by it, but missed on account of more mud on his hands than grip. Several feet later he came to rest against a jagged boulder. He was winded and bruised and quite possibly in possession of a broken back.

Something to slow his descent would have been more than helpful. For the moment he was contemplating how to get off the ground and back to the fight. He had an assignment to complete. That wouldn't happen while he was folded around a rock.

He rolled slowly to his knees then his feet. Tested each limb and joint before starting to move. The climb back up the embankment would be long and slow. Especially with all his current injuries. There was nothing nearby to use for a ladder or rope, so he was left with old-fashioned climbing.

Hand over hand, scaling a few feet at a time, he started up the embankment. Half-way up, he recovered his hat. Two-thirds of the way, one of the damned flying things he had been hunting swooped down and plucked him off the side of the hill. That hadn't been the plan. Granted, neither had falling down the hill.

Van Helsing reached for the knife at his waist, then watched it flip end-over-end into the ravine below. His day wasn't getting any better. This was getting ridiculous, actually. He drew his pistol and fired two rounds into the creature. It didn't drop him, but it lost altitude. They were skirting the tops of the trees and now he was praying the creature wouldn't drop him. He wasn't sure he'd survive a crash through a collection of branches.

As the winged creature lost blood from its wounds, it slowly lost altitude. But not fast enough for Van Helsing's idea. He fired another round into the thing, heard it yelp, then felt it let go of his arm. It took him thirty seconds to realize he was falling rapidly. Though the billowing of his leather coat slowed his descent a bit, the ground was coming at him fast and he needed to remedy that.

He aimed for a nearby tree to use the branches as brakes, but all that managed was more bruises and contusions when the branches broke off to fall with him. Relenting to his fate he shoved the branches away and aimed to tuck and roll when he hit the ground.


"My God, Van Helsing, what happened?" Carl shrieked when he saw the man drag the creature he'd been sent after into he lab.

Van Helsing grunted and hoisted the creature onto a table. "Fell," he commented.

"On what?"

"Everything." He closed his eyes through a heavy pinch of pain and pressed a hand to the stone wall for support.

Carl thrust a shoulder under the man's arm to help. "Where, exactly, did you fall, Van Helsing?" he asked, voice starting to strain as he tried not to buckle under the heavier man's weight.

"Down a hill," Van Helsing pushed out ahead of a cough. "Then through a tree."

Carl caught him as best he could when the man finally lost consciousness.


In the infirmary, Carl sat by Van Helsing's bed. He was there when the man finally woke. He did not let him know that he'd been there all four nights, praying over him.

"You survived," Carl stated.

Van Helsing grunted.

"You almost didn't."

"I'm fine," Van Helsing rumbled. He moved to sit up, tossed his legs over the side of the bed.

Carl braced a hand on the man's shoulder. "You need to rest."

"I need to get out of this infirmary."

Arguing was pointless, so Carl helped Van Helsing to his own room and got him settled in a chair rather than the bed. He gathered some reading materials, collected a pitcher of water and a glass. Made sure everything was in easy reach.

"Gabriel," Carl whispered, using the man's given name for the first time since they'd met, "why do you do these things to yourself?"

The name caught Van Helsing off guard, but he said nothing in that regard. As for Carl's question: "Because I don't want them to own me."

"I'd wager they assume they already do."

"Then they'd best not hedge their bets," Van Helsing grumbled.

Carl sighed. "For my sake, please try to stay alive. The others are so dreadfully boring."

Van Helsing nodded. "If you find me away to fall off cliffs without dying, it's a deal."

The Vatican – 1890

Carl had developed the grapple-gun shortly after that conversation. That had been a far simpler problem to solve than his current one. Van Helsing's werewolf infection or curse was far more complex and would require keeping Van Helsing's condition a secret for as long as possible.

He had shifted from running tests on the blood to sifting through the research Mark had brought him. There was far more of that than he'd expected. Mark had been very thorough.

While he was pouring through pages of folklore he was brought a communication. From Anna Valerious, 'Why on Earth would she cable me?' He muttered as he unfolded the paper.

She had cabled to inform him of some news she had uncovered within the walls of the castle and to ask if he could please come immediately. Had this been a mission, there would be no doubt he'd be granted permission to leave. But with Van Helsing missing, and much other work to be done, he was quite sure the Cardinal would deny his request. However it wouldn't hurt to ask right?

Not at all right. The Cardinal had refused outright without bothering to hear the reasoning for the request. Carl had expected as much. 'Other operatives could be sent on such errands if they were worth the time,' was his own paraphrasing of what he'd been told.

He would find a way. He could take leave or find some other reason to visit Anna. Something with his research would work nicely. And he didn't have much time to formulate that plan.

It had taken some smooth talking, but he had gotten clearance for his trip across the Adriatic. He had an assistant with him, but the journey felt far too sombre.

Anna's find was intriguing, if cryptic. It gave him a new puzzle to work on alongside the current werewolf problem. He couldn't be entirely sure, but the clues pointed toward the Valerious family tree. Carl was almost positive it indicated some paternal discrepancy, but Anna argued that she had another sibling in the world somewhere.

Carl didn't argue. There was no point. He'd be able to do his research easier if he didn't have her looming over him and trying to convince him she was right. From the number of books in the library and the tower, he knew this would take him a while.

"Gabriel!" he heard Dracula bellow from somewhere in the castle when he returned.

Van Helsing was too tired to make it much farther than the front entry hall. He stumbled halfway to the first arch before he collapsed. The cold stone of the floor was oddly inviting after his trek back from Rome. It wasn't until he felt edges of pebbles poking his skin that he realized he'd shed the werewolf again.

"Get up, Gabriel," Dracula growled. "You are a very trying pet."

He said nothing. He was lucky to have heard the words being spoken to him. He did, however, very much feel the heavy boot shoved into his side. All that managed was to make him curl into a ball on the cold cold ground.

Dracula was on him in a flash. One hand gripped his hair and wrenched his head back so he could get Van Helsing's face even with his own. "Gabriel, I am disappointed in you, my pet. You were supposed to kill them, not make friends."

''I will not kill for you," Van Helsing growled through his teeth.

Dracula laughed. "Oh but you will my pet. You will."

He ordered his lackeys to drag Van Helsing back in his cell.

As much as he hated the cell, Van Helsing was glad of the time to rest. 'Preferably not chained to a wall. He was given water and a few crusts of bread. It wasn't filling. It wasn't enough. In fact, it seemed to make his hunger worse. Little food or water for days was wearing heavily on his health and strength.

He had, as the werewolf, fed on some of the forest and mountain wildlife, but even that didn't seem enough. He could not sate his hunger. Dracula's implication was that he would need more than small animal flesh. That the hunger was a bloodlust rather than a need for food. Van Helsing disagreed. He would resist for as long as possible.

Killing humans was not an option. Monsters were a different story. Even those he only killed when it was necessary. Most he managed to bring to The Order for salvation of their mortal souls. Only the truly resistant met more unfortunate circumstances. And those who chose to irritate him more than necessary.

He was good at hunting and locating the more difficult of The Order's assignments. Despite their dislike of his methods. He liked his work – most of the time. And though several of his recent assignments had ended up deceased rather than returned for salvation, he didn't enjoy killing them as much as the Cardinal seemed to believe. Those deaths were unfortunate incidents that had happened as a result of lengthy battles and, in the case of Dr. Jekyll (or Mr. Hyde), some serious balance issues on the ledge of a cathedral.

Some of those deaths were not directly his fault. As such, he would not knowingly murder innocent people in order to feed.

The Dwergi dragged him down the long, icy corridor to his cell. He was certain he lost skin when they threw him across the floor because he almost lost a toe when they slammed the door shut. Far too tired to even drag himself to the corner, he curled up where he was and fell asleep.

Van Helsing slept for hours. He had been exhausted when he returned from his daring escape, more so after Dracula had sent him out to Rome. When he woke, he thought the last several weeks might have been a dream. The cold stone floor, windowless room and locked door reminded him that they hadn't been. Far from it. Much closer to a 'nightmare', but even those one can wake from; not this.

His escape attempt had proved fruitless. The castle's layout was difficult to navigate and Dracula had doubled the watch on Van Helsing's cell. Escape on its own no longer seemed a plausible action. He would have to wait for Carl. And hope The Order had not discovered his condition. He also had to believe Carl would find a cure by the time he was able to affect a rescue.

The only remaining problem would be how to kill Dracula. Carl's research indicated that Van Helsing, as a werewolf, should be able to defeat the vampire, but in his current condition, Van Helsing was sure he wouldn't be able to defeat anyone.

"Any luck?" Anna asked as she entered the library.

Carl shook his head. "Not much. I'm trying, but either there are missing volumes from the archives or some things weren't recorded."

Anna scowled. "No, we record everything. Even the unpleasant. It reminds us not to forget the lessons of the past. It should be here." She stepped forward to comb through several books on the shelves, scanning as though she knew where to find the information.

"I'll continue to research, but I believe some volumes are not here in the library." Carl returned to his notes and records. He had found plenty of information, but most of it wasn't helping him with the research he was conducting. He glanced up from the book before him. "I've found reference to a journal that pre-dates your father. Do you know anything about that?"

Anna turned from the shelf. "Yes. It should be with the rest of the family archives. Is it not there?"

"I didn't see it the last time I was there, but I'll check again."

"He was here," Anna said as she slumped into a nearby chair, old family album resting across her lap.

Startled by the strangeness and suddenness of the statement, Carl blinked at her and asked, "Who was here?" He thought she might have meant her brother – Velkan – though that did seem unlikely given his untimely demise over the side of a cliff. There was the thought that she meant Dracula – he had shown quite an interest in the princess prior to Van Helsing's capture, but he figured had that been the case a much louder alarm would have been sounded and an epic battle resulting in their deaths would have followed shortly thereafter, thus negating that theory. So, who else could she possibly be meaning?

She looked up at him, eyes heavy with sadness. "Van Helsing."

That was certainly unexpected and caused Carl to frown even deeper. "When?" And why hadn't he been made aware of his visit? He could have obtained useful information or samples for his research. Dammit, why did people not tell him these things?

"A few weeks after..." her voice broke off as though caught in her throat. She took a settling breath. "I- I- it was difficult to see him like that."

Carl nodded in understanding. "We'll figure this out, Anna. We'll get him back," he offered reassuringly. He had to believe that they would bring Van Helsing back – cured and ready to fight again. They needed him. The world needed him. Someone had to take care of all the nasties that went 'bump' in the night.

Noises in the corridor crept up on him, sneaking up his skin to crawl into his ears. He tried to focus on something other than the sharp stone in his ass. Hanging on the wall outside Dracula's chambers for better than a week had rubbed his nerves as raw as the skin on his back.

Dracula hadn't been out of his room since Van Helsing had been chained to the wall. Was that part of the plan - leave him alienated and alone? It wouldn't work. As alone as he was, he knew he still had someone out there fighting for him.

He heard footsteps echoing on the stone floor, but mostly ignored them, assuming they were Dwergi.

"Are you praying, Gabriel?" Dracula asked with a sneer. "He is not listening to you anymore.''

"Yes. He. Is." Van Helsing growled. And he knew He was. Carl had assured him that He was always listening. Despite Van Helsing's staunch refusal to pray regularly, Carl assured him that, no matter what, God was always listening.

Dracula laughed a deep, hearty chuckle. "Oh the hope of the hopeless." He smoothed his hand over Van Helsing's chest all the way down to his hip. "Would you like to play, Gabriel?"

Van Helsing shook his head. He was not interested in playing with Dracula at all. What he wanted was to go back to Rome and sleep for days. He'd been too long without good, solid sleep. Every noise was louder than it should have been and every movement he made was painful, no matter how often he made it.

"Too bad Gabriel," Dracula rumbled. His hand crept from Van Helsing's hipbone to his cock and began stroking slowly. "Oh, Gabriel," Dracula practically purred, "it's been too long since I've touched you. Have you missed this from me, Gabriel?"

He tried to pull away from Dracula's cold fingers, but the chains and the wall restricted his movements. His cock was hard, though he didn't want it to be; reacting to the grip on him; his hips bucking into the tightness of the hand around him.

"Yes, Gabriel," the vampire rumbled. "Yes, I want you to come for me, pet." He continued stroking Van Helsing's cock with smooth, firm motions.

Van Helsing tried as hard as he could to resist the inevitable, but the sensations he felt were too much. A cold, callused hand dragged up and down the length of his cock, a rough thumb brushed across the head. His body betrayed him, jerking and shaking, he spilled himself over Dracula's fingers and to the floor.

Dracula sighed contentedly. "Such an obedient pet. Good boy, Gabriel."

Van Helsing lowered his head in defeat. His entire body hung limply from the chains. He wanted to resist, to fight back, to not let Dracula do whatever he wanted, but he just didn't have the strength.

"I've got it!" Carl cheered and leapt from his seat. Was no one there to hear of his success?

He scrambled his papers together and tucked them against his chest on his way down the stairs. This was big. This was huge. This was important.

Carl stopped after a four foot slide along the corridor, braced against Anna's out-stretched arms. "I've got it!" he cried again.

Anna blinked and beamed. "Really, Carl? You've found my brother's secret?"

"Uh no. Sorry." Carl stepped back a bit, reshuffling the papers in his arms to keep them from falling to the floor. "I've figured out how to cure Van Helsing."

"Carl, that's wonderful!" Anna agreed and wrapped her arms around the friar in a congratulatory hug.

Carl nodded and would've hugged back had he not been keeping a tight hold on his research. "Yes. And I'll need to return to Rome to finish the tests. I'll take the research with me. See what I can find about your brother. I've gotten some good information. But I need some more time."

Anna tried to smile. "I understand. Thank you. Carl."

He nodded again.


Back in Rome, back in his lab, Carl was at home. He was fluttering around the table, mixing and boiling and pouring and stirring. He had found the answer. All that was needed was to put the pieces together.

There was one problem: based on the legends, he wouldn't have time to test the antidote before using it on Van Helsing. He had to pray that his formula would work based on his research alone.

"Here you are, Carl," Mark called as he rushed into the lab. "Moonlit water from the pawprint of a werewolf."

Carl knew it sounded ridiculous, but he also knew the value of folk legend and the power of celestial bodies and the elements. He may not have been the holiest of holy men, but he knew his science. Van Helsing had even commented on how he was able to determine practical applications for his knowledge. That had been a thrilling compliment coming from someone he respected and admired. It also made him happy that Van Helsing appreciated his work. Even if no one else did.

"Thank you, Mark," Carl said and set his solutions to mixing and bubbling again.

Mark stood by, handing Carl items as he requested them. "Carl, are you sure this is going to work?" Even to his scientific mind, some of Carl's work appeared to be more strange brews than scientific principles.

"No. But if I was sure, this wouldn't be science." He continued to bustle about, keeping all of the plates spinning at the same time. He loved his work, but quite often it was rife with waiting. It was the waiting he didn't like.

"What are you doing here? Who are you?" Anna growled at the men who marched into her village courtyard. The one thing she hated, more than losing family, was outsiders assuming they could help her. Van Helsing had been the surprising exception. His help was actually helpful. These men did not appear to be there to help her at all.

One of the men, a tall, thick man of sleek black hair and dark eyes, fierce and loyal, grabbed her arm and snarled in her face, "Where is Van Helsing?"

Stern look set on her face, Anna snapped, "I don't know."

"Tell me or don't, I will find him," the man growled threateningly.

"Then I wish you luck," Anna spat and jerked her arm free of his grasp. She didn't know where Van Helsing was. The last place she had seen him was in Dracula's castle, but he could be anywhere for all she knew. Technically, the last place she had seen him had been in her own castle, as a sleek black werewolf, but he had run away shortly after that. She hadn't seen him since.

The man hunting Van Helsing shoved Anna aside with a grunt of authority. "Spread out. Search everywhere," he called to his companions. Back to Anna, he growled, "And you, stay out of our way."

Anna stood tall, puffed up her chest and glared at the newcomer. '"This is my village. These are my people. You have no business here. I am asking you to leave, now." She didn't want these men in her village. She didn't want them disturbing her people, scaring them, trying to use them against her. They needed to leave immediately.

"We will leave," he said, towering over her, "when we have what we came for."

"He's not here!" she shouted at him.

The man from The Order sneered, turned his back on her and stalked across the square. He had his orders. He was to locate Van Helsing and either return him to Rome or kill him. The latter if Van Helsing was beyond redemption.

"Give me your name if you intend to raid my village!" Anna shouted at the leader of the 'rabble'.

The man turned his dark eyes on her. "Mesoraco," he tossed over his shoulder.

"Anna Va-"

"I know who you are, Princess," he interrupted. "Don't get in our way. I don't want to have to hurt you."

Anna was almost certain that was more of a threat than a warning - or a request. That made her hackles rise and got her ire up; had her ready for a fight.

Carl had pages and charts and books spread all over his desk, the floor, and the walls. Each new lead presented a new question that required more digging. He had the main tree tacked to the largest wall of his room with each family member tacked into place along the branches as he determined where they belonged.

Boris and Anna, Velkan and his mother, the generation before them and the generations before those. He had sought the missing sibling as Anna suggested but had come up with nothing. Instead, he traced Velkan and Anna separately through the archives. Anna's lineage traced cleanly through her father and brother. Velkan, on the other hand, had pieces missing. Carl was able to trace Velkan through his mother, connecting him to Anna, but could find no record of his father, other than his father being someone other than Boris.

He scoured every book, scroll or other source available to him. Nothing. A small scrap of fabric caught his eye when be shifted some books. He lifted it to his eyes, squinted at it, then slipped on his goggles for a closer inspection. There were three small lines inscribed with ink on the back. The lines didn't mean much out of context, but paired with his genealogy notes for the family and a few obscure references to a male visitor to the castle, Carl pieced together the puzzle.

"Well I'll be damned," he muttered and held the scrap of fabric up where the name of Velkan's father should be tacked.

"I am sorry, Master. I have not been able to locate the information you desire. The books number in the thousands and the other records more than that. I've barely had time to finish half the library," the short, fat man relayed his story to Dracula through the mirror-doorway.

"I don't want excuses, you fool. I want answers!" Dracula bellowed. He leapt to the ceiling, clasped his hands behind his back, and started pacing. "I want you to go back to castle Valerious. Find the information for me."

Spluttering and whimpering, the fat man bowed low as he backed out of the room. "Yes, Master. I will find it for you. You do not have to worry."

"I know," Dracula confirmed, still hanging from the ceiling.

The mirror-doorway closed with a soft whoosh of sound. Dracula dropped from the ceiling swiftly and smoothly, landed his booted feet on the cold stone floor, then marched toward his chambers. He was in the mood to play.

He stopped outside his door. Hanging on the wall outside his room was his newest pet. His greatest achievement. His greatest triumph. He had gained control of the most notorious of The Order's hunters. The great Van Helsing. The one man who could have defeated him was now under his control.

'Was now hanging from shackles, naked on his wall. The sight, as he approached, was beautiful. He listened for the man's heartbeat and stepped a slow almost-waltz toward him. He had one last feat to accomplish with his pet – to make him remember their glorious past.

"Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel. What fun I will have with you tonight." He waved a hand and Dwergi rushed to release his pet from the wall. "Bring him inside. Tie him to the bed," Dracula instructed.

Dracula watched the Dwergi drag Van Helsing into the room, over the stone floor and toss him, face down, on the bed. They stretched his arms and legs to tie them to the four posts of the bed. Once they had completed their task, they scurried away.

The scratches and bruises - from both the wall and the rough handling by the Dwergi -were like a work of art. Dracula stood at the foot of the bed to study it. "Gabriel. You do remember I owe you a punishment for your little escape attempt, yes?" He shook his head slowly and gave a small sigh. "I am in a mood tonight, so I will give you what you deserve."

He heard Van Helsing groan in protest, fight and struggle against the new restraints. He watched his pet's desire to get free grow stronger while he was doing nothing. 'Several more minutes of watching and his lovely pet was a resisting, nervous mess sprawled on the bed. Exactly what he had been wanting – enough presence of self to resist, but still enough fear to be wary of the coming events.

"Gabriel, be still," Dracula commanded and Van Helsing immediately ceased all movement. "Good boy. Now how shall I punish you tonight my pet?"

Van Helsing growled that he didn't want to be punished at all. The chains on his limbs rattled as he struggled against the restraints. These seemed to have more give than those on the wall, but they didn't afford him any more leverage to break free.

He stepped to the wall by the bed and drew his fingers along several implements hanging neatly there. Coming to one he thought appropriate, he plucked it from the wall – a long, thin wooden cane with enough flexibility to curve around the body. "Now, now, you tried to escape, Gabriel. How will you learn not to do these things if I do not punish you when you do wrong?" Dracula snapped the cane against his hand with a loud crack. "How many lashes, Gabriel?"

"None," the man on the bed grumbled.

Dracula cracked the cane against the bedpost. "How many, Gabriel?!" he asked again, voice booming louder in the chamber.

"None!" Van Helsing snarled.

This time the cane snapped across Van Helsing's shoulders. Dracula practically drank in the sound of the scream. "I will ask you once more time, Gabriel. How. Many?"

Van Helsing fought to get air into his lungs after the sting of wood across his shoulders. "Five," he growled into the pillow beneath his face.

"Only five, pet? I'm sure you can take more than that. But we shall start with five." Dracula was pleased with this outcome – at least he had gotten his pet to yield to the punishment. He could work on the rest.

Dracula snapped the cane onto Van Helsing's back five times in quick succession. Angry red welts striped the tanned flesh. Two of the welts had even begun to seep blood. The sight was delicious. The smell was almost overwhelming.

Mixed with those was the beautiful sound of Van Helsing's cries of pain. They made him shiver with delight. "Oh how I do love that sound, Gabriel," he commented idly as he flexed the cane between his hands.

End Part V

Part VI