Simon Belmont, Monster Hunter Extraordinaire, found himself standing outside the rusty iron gates outside Dracula's Castle.

The thick leather strands of the whip he held in his hands felt rough to the touch. He looked down at it. The Vampire Killer. Hundreds of years had passed since it was first bestowed upon his family line. Family line. His gaze drifted from the leather whip to the crest on the breast of his tunic. The Belmont family crest. His family's crest. Never before had he felt the significance of that emblem than now, standing before the abode of his family's mortal enemy.

More like immortal enemy, Simon thought. It had been more than two hundred years since his ancestor Trevor Belmont vanquished the vampire lord Dracula. Unfortunately, lords of darkness did not seem to stay dead when you killed them. Apparently, it turns out that killing the Lord of Darkness himself was going to take more than a simple stake through the heart. Not that that took away anything from his great grandfather's accomplishments.

Great-great? Great-great-great? Did it really matter? He smiled to himself. Simon never really took a serious liking to the Belmont family's stories. He was always more into the martial part of the family's monster hunting legacy. His hold on the whip grew tighter and he felt his arm muscles tense in anticipation of the coming conflict.

He was eager to begin his generation's battle against the dark lord that had cast his shadow upon Wallachia once more.

The iron gates were unlocked. That was not surprising considering the fact that most of the surrounding countryside had already been taken over by Dracula's minions and monsters. Whomever was left from the surrounding villages had long-since departed for safer places.

The walkway to the castle gates seemed quite uneventful. The monster hunter knew that Dracula's Castle was no mere abode for the Lord of Darkness. It was a monster in its own right, with living rooms that sought to deal with unwanted interlopers, filled to the brim with devices and machines from ages that have not yet come to pass.

At least that's what Simon remembered from the Belmont family archives, penned by those that had battled in the castle before - his ancestors Trevor and Christopher.

It was a long walk to the castle proper. With his trusty whip in hand, Simon strode past flaming braziers that stood along the path. Beyond the cobblestones was an unearthly lush garden that in another life might have showcased metal gates rising from the ground and skeletal horsemen. But not this time.

The pathway appeared clear. No monsters. No guardians. No beasts. Just an empty, foreboding cobblestone path that led to the castle doorway. Simon passed brazier after brazier on his way to the enormous double doors that led into Dracula's Castle. He entered.

The castle responded almost immediately. Like a body sensing the entry of something foreign, Dracula's Castle awakened its slumbering denizens. Guardians, having been asleep for the greater part of a century or so, awoke from their hundred-year old torpor. Legions of beasts spawned by the best devil forgemasters the Dark Lord had collected over the centuries, woke from their slumber. Monsters, both living and nonliving, and everything in between.

Simon Belmont, monster hunter, stepped into the great hall of Dracula's castle and was immediately welcomed by its inhabitants.

The living dead - what seemed like animated remains of once-living men, charged at the vampire hunter with unearthly speed. Skeletal arms raised up high above their rotting heads, the zombies rushed towards Simon, their pink cloaks dragging on the dusty stone floor beneath.

There was a door at the end of the great hall, one that most likely led to the rest of the castle bowels. Simon brandished his weapon, the vampire killer whip, and began walking.

He leapt over the first zombie that reached him, bounding cleanly over the monster. The rapidly shambling mound of rags and flesh failed to even acknowledge the vampire hunter's presence as it continued towards the gate.

'These aren't that smart,' Simon realized as he leapt over a second zombie. The vampire killer flashed outwards as he struck a third zombie with the whip. It burst into flames and dissipated into the air, making no sound as it disappeared into nothingness.

Simon's strike was calculated perfectly, hitting one of the many candlesticks with the tip of his whip at the same time it banished the undead beast. The candlestick burst into a chain that then melded with the vampire hunter. The whip in his grasp wriggled as its tanned leather morphed into a cord of polished steel and cold iron. His boots hit the ground with a loud thud as Simon Belmont continued his quest, upgraded chain whip in hand.

He ignored a set of stairs that led to a platform above. On it growled what looked like some sort of canine. Except it didn't look much like a dog. Not a normal one. It took one look at the approaching monster hunter and sprang into action, clearing the eight or so feet from the platform to the castle floor in a single bound. Simon heard the hell beast scampering behind him. He had no time for this. He leapt into the air as high as he could. The hell hound sped past right under his feet and continued forward as Simon returned to earth.

One more dog, one more jump. Three zombies, three more jumps. One was even kind enough to leave a stopwatch as it collided with the chain whip. These monsters were proceeding on a preordained path without actually acknowledging the presence of the vampire hunter, he realized.

'Nope', he concluded. Not very smart indeed.

Simon heard the heavy wooden door shut behind him. Up ahead, there was a staircase leading to the floor below, which contained nothing but a pair of candles and a dead end. He could smell meat emanating from that dead-end. On the opposite end of floor below, there was a staircase leading further down. From there, he could head the sound of loud splashing amidst flowing water. The scent of fish wafted upwards from that tiny opening.

There was no other way but down. A few meters away from the top of the staircase, the dead end on the lower floor leveled into a balcony that was just barely out of reach of jumping distance. The warrior tensed as he prepared to fight a dozen or so fishmen or whatever horrors the castle held in its deep bowels. But then, the tricky Belmont spied another way.

From across the room, a bat came at him. Simon walked to the topmost step of the staircase and turned around to face the door he had just stepped out from. He waited until the bat was halfway between him and the top of the platform. Simon pushed off with his legs, carrying him almost over the flying rodent. As his feet clipped the creature's backside, he felt some of his life force drain away and he was sent flying further backwards onto the top of the wall that was normally out of reach.

He waved to the basement opening, at the fishmen that he now didn't have to deal with. "See yah, suckers." His words echoed through the empty room as Simon Belmont went his merry way.

The next hall was no less eventful. Zombies tried to attack the vampire hunter to no avail. Losing no time, Simon deftly leapt over each rotting corpse that reached out for him with its spindly arms. One jump even revealed a large pot hiding inside a candlestick. It dropped to the ground inches behind the monster hunter as he continued on his way. He leapt down a few staircases worth back down to ground level. The end of the keep opened up into a great hall adorned with candles and tapestries.

And then he saw it. Hanging from the furthest corner of the uppermost ceiling, almost hidden by the shadows, was a bat. A rather large bat. Much larger than the ones that attacked him before. This one was almost as tall as the monster hunter. Perhaps even more. He tried to formulate a plan to deal with it but there was no time to be wasted. Simon hoped his battle instincts were enough to deal with this boss. As he approached the end of the hall, the creature began stirring.

The enormous bat was awake. It stretched out its black, leathery wings. So huge was its wingspan, almost the length of two horses rump to nose, that it generated a musty updraft as it flew above to the top of the hall.

There was a staircase that led up to the door on the far end, presumably the one that led to the rest of the castle. There was no way to get to it before facing the bat. Besides, Simon had the feeling that that door wouldn't let him through without vanquishing the winged guardian. The valiant monster hunter steeled himself halfway up the short staircase and waited, whip in hand.

He didn't need to wait long. The monstrous bat swooped in, dealing a long gash on Simon's back before stopping inexplicably a foot in front of him. The hunter struck with his whip at the monster, a single powerful lash that evaporated the beast into a half dozen flames that floated briefly before dissipating into thin air.

Frame perfect, Simon thought to himself. He grinned and looked down at the tiny blue pocket watch he held in his left hand. The magical device was apparently unnecessary for this encounter.

In the middle of the hall, a large red ball materialized out of thin air and fell. It never reached the ground as Simon leapt from the upper step and collided with the orb.

Frame perfect trick.