Then it was Soma’s turn. Even before he spoke, there was a noticeable shift in the atmosphere. “Hi, I’m Soma Cruz. And—I guess I may as well say it now.” He sighed and drew in a long breath. “I’m—the reincarnation of Dracula.”
“Soma has completely renounced his heritage and is using his powers for good,” Alucard stated with his usual gravitas. “I have observed him for some time, and I can vouch for his character.”
“Besides, smacking Soma one if he goes evil is our job,” Yoko added, giving Soma’s shoulder a squeeze.
“What they said.” Julius thumped his chest. “And anybody out to give Soma any grief is gonna have to go through me first!”
Simon was the first of the others to do something other than gape and take in Soma’s words. He walked forward, hand outstretched in friendship, a gesture that Soma accepted with a grateful smile. Then Richter followed suit, and it didn’t take long before everyone was laughing and joking again.
“Genya Arikado, eh?” Richter snickered after hearing Soma’s story in full. “And here I thought Alucard was a transparent pseudonym.”
Alucard shrugged. “Only Yoko and Julius knew of that name. As far as Soma knew, I was just a suspiciously helpful stranger.”
“I think it was nice of you to watch over Soma like that.” Maria declared. Then she flashed an impish grin at Alucard. “So, do you ever call him ‘dad’ or anything?”
Alucard just leveled his death glare at her. “That would hardly be appropriate.”
Soma, on the other hand, chuckled and put a hand to the back of his head. “I’m not ready to be a dad, anyway. I haven’t even finished high school yet!”
“And if you and Mina’s relationship progress any slower, it’ll be another century before you two hook up,” Yoko added, causing Soma to blush.
“Die, monster, you don’t belong in this world!” Richter could be heard bellowing as Dracula vanished in a pillar of light.
Alucard rolled his eyes and shook his head, leaning against the back wall of Dracula’s throne room as he tended to the wounds on his torso. “Must you always do that, son of Belmont?”
“Sorry, force of habit,” Richard replied, looking sheepish.
Charlotte ran up to Alucard, her spell-book open. “Heal!” she called, covering both of them in the light of her spell. “Shanoa, you get Drac’s treasure! You have the best luck out of all of us—maybe we’ll actually get something good this time!”
“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Shanoa answered, moving towards the gold chess nevertheless. As soon as it opened, a red soul flew out and embedded itself into Soma.
“Uh—” Soma blinked, staring at his hands. “Did I just—absorb Dracula’s soul?”
“Looks like you did, Soma.” Yoko raised her staff, preparing to bop Soma across the back of his head with it. “Do you feel yourself going mad with power again?”
Soma began backpedaling out of the room. “I told you, I was kidding! Gimme a break, geez!”
Charlotte scoffed. “Forget Soma going full-on Dark Lord on us, I’m more worried about him basically absorbing himself. What if that Time Pair-Ducks thing Julius was talking about gets even worse?”
“It is called a ‘time paradox’, Charlotte, and there is no use worrying about our effect on history. Right now, all we can do is move forward and vanquish the threats before us.” Alucard tried to stand up, but found his legs to be uncooperative. “I apologize, but it seems my injuries are, for the moment, beyond repair. I shall have to sit out for now.”
“Yeah, probably a good idea, especially if we’re going to tackle Astarte next. I still can’t believe Dracula has a charm attack, too.” Charlotte crossed her arms. “What a jerk!”
“Good thing Jonathan wasn’t traveling with us this time.” Yoko smirked. “I don’t think he would have let you hear the end of it.”
Jonathan, having finished changing his equipment to better fight The Count, looked up from the Grimoire and blinked. “Is it just me, or—”
“Nope, I see it too,” Charlotte confirmed as she peered through the binoculars she brought with her. “Soma just shot straight up to final chamber, Alucard’s zipping through walls at ludicrous speed, and Richter just accessed an area of the castle that nobody else even knew existed.” She made a noise of exasperation. “Showoffs.”
Johnathan couldn’t help but smile at that. “Told you you should’ve learned how to drop kick.”
In response, Charlotte smacked him upside the head. “In this outfit? Not in a million years, pervert!”