THE LEGEND OF DRACULA, Book I
ALL NEW TALES OF THE MOST EVIL MONSTER OF THEM ALL.
Imagine Vlad the Impaler, reanimated as a vampire, entering a world already populated with legions of night-stalkers! Imagine how these undead lords and ladies would accept him, a new upstart, a rival to their centuries-old claims. How would they respond?
They would tear him to shreds!
…Or die trying.
“HIS FIRST CENTURIES”
Everyone knows the story of the bloodthirsty despot of Walachia, Vlad the Impaler, who, during his reign, tortured and massacred tens of thousands. His battles against the invading Turks made him a hero to his people and his atrocities made him a villain to the world… But that was not the end!
Now the infamous sorcerer, Dr. Faust, unleashes Dracula onto an unsuspecting world. Determined to rule the creatures of the Night, Dracula battles against the vampire lords Erlik, Torbalan, Vardalekos, Nycea, and the ancient Chi You.
To achieve his goals he must ally himself with the Gypsy witch Madame Boogala and the mad Russian despot, Ivan the Terrible. To expand his Kingdom of the Night, he must find new recruits like Gretchen the flower girl and Hella the adventuress.
Nineteen tales of terror lay within... and more to follow!
....an ambitious and entertaining take on the familiar legend of Dracula. A prequel of sorts to Bram Stoker's classic novel, it shows Dracula's quest to become King of the Vampires. Vlad cuts a bloody swath across Europe and Asia, finding allies and enemies among the supernatural creatures of many lands.
J. Kevin Carrier,
Author and Artist of the long-running comic, Fantasy Theater
I'm looking forward to the second entry to see where it leads us next in Vlad's campaign for supremacy. We all know he's going to succeed; the fun is going to be in seeing how he does it.
Tony-Paul de Vissage,
Author of "The Last Vampire Standing" and the "Second Species" series
Excerpt from the "HIS FIRST CENTURIES". . .
“There is a lady to see my lord,” said the chamberlain to his master, who sat in the small garden of the Tower of Buda. The purpose of this tower these days was less martial than political, being employed as a prison for high-ranking nobles. Currently it held but one inhabitant.
His master, once voivode of Walachia but a prisoner of the King of Hungary for the last eleven years, raised his curious green eyes and gazed at the man before him. That day, expecting no visitors, he wore no cap, no cloak, and his knee-length coat was black—that newly invented dye being all the rage this last year. Most days, this fallen warlord spent some hours sitting on a stone bench, looking at the flowering shrubs, dreaming unnameable thoughts. As a general rule, he disliked interruptions, but mention of a woman naturally caught his attention—at least it was a change from torturing the rats and pigeons he trapped.
“A lady, you say,” asked Vlad Drăculea.
“She is nothing less, my lord, but she gave no name. I thought it best to let you decide what we do with her.”
Vlad smirked. The last uninvited guest was a thief and he came not by day but by night. Finding him, Vlad had drawn his sword and disemboweled the man.
Thus Vlad replied, “Show her in. If she has murder on her mind, I believe I can handle myself.”
After bowing, the chamberlain turned and disappeared.
Vlad arose and went over to the blood-red roses which were in bloom. Without bothering himself to take a whiff, he drew his dagger and cut off the largest of the blooms. Only when he heard the return of the chamberlain's footfalls and the rustle of a silk gown approach, did he turn.
“The lady, my lord,” said the chamberlain, who then withdrew diplomatically.
Vlad took measure of the mysterious lady. Despite the warm season, a heavy cloak covered her; even her head was hidden under the hood. As she moved, he caught flashes of a sky-blue gown of Turkish design, embroidered with gold thread. This itself was not surprising; Ottoman attire was as much in fashion as black-dyed cloth.
“My lord,” she said and curtsied.
Vlad bid her rise with a casual gesture. She did so. Ere she could speak, he offered her the rose with a smile.
Clearly, the lady was not expecting this, for she hesitated. Then she reached out a bejeweled hand which took hold of the stem.
With the speed of a wolf, Vlad Drăculea had her wrist. He snatched her to him and pulled back her hood.
A face with high cheek bones and golden hue was revealed. Startled, a cascade of blue-black hair fell unbound. Her dark eyes locked onto his, less shocked than defiant and certainly unafraid.
Vlad's smile only grew. “Thou art an audacious one, my beauty.” he said. “Yet I think thou art no assassin—even if thou intended to poison my cup, thou would carry a dagger lest my constitution prove stronger than thou suppose. Certainly thou come to ask no favor, for there are none I may grant in my situation. So then, an adventuress hoping for a night in the arms of a nobleman of dangerous repute?”
He released her and she rubbed her bruised wrist.
“I came indeed to make thee an offer, milord,” she said, in a strong voice, tinged with an exotic accent. “The only favor I ask is one I know thou can grant easily.”
“A Bulgar, I dare say, from thy speech” Vlad dared say, with more than a hint of contempt. The Bulgar khan was a toady of Vlad's old nemesis, the Sultan of the Turks.
The lady gave a inconsequential nod of her fair head. “And I know of thee, my Voivode, so I must give thee intelligence of who I am and what I may give unto thee. I am Lady Gregoryi, wife of Marcian, despot—thou would sayest voivode—of Serbia and ban—count—of Uszal.”
Vlad sneered coldly, giving her a look that had chilled many a man to his marrow. Yet the countess kept her head high and met his gaze with her own.
The voivode spoke slowly, carefully. “I should slit thy throat like any other Bulgarian harlot. Marcian Gregoryi plots with my rival, Basarab Laiota, against my allies in Serbia, the Jakšić brothers. Mayhaps thou hast a pouch of poison about thee after all. I should search thee.”
Lady Gregoryi scoffed with faint humor. “Search if thou will, Voivode,” she said, holding her darkened wrist. “Only bruises worse than this will thou find.
“What game dost thou play, Countess?”
“I offer my Lord Vlad the opportunity to rid himself of Marcian Gregoryi,” she said calmly but firmly. “I can tell thee when and where he will be unattended. Do with him as thou wisheth. I ask that his lands and coffers remain in my hands.”
“I cannot fly from these walls and assassinate thy husband,” he scoffed.
“Ah, but I've no doubt my lord can get word to thy charges. And pretend not that thou dost not have men outside these walls who would slit a throat or poison a cup should the act profit thee.”
Vlad regarded this Bulgarian noblewoman more carefully than before. She was beautiful, ambitious, and ruthless. She would make a fine wife... unless she would one day decide he too was expendable.
“What boon dost thou ask in return, milady? Something more than thy husband's lands and gold, I think.”
Here the Countess Gregoryi closed her eyes a moment and drew in her breath. When she spoke, she looked not at the fallen voivode, but beyond him, perhaps looking to the infinite, the cosmic.
“Among the magiosnitzi—witch cult—there is one who has long advised my family and has never failed us. She is the Veshtitsa, the witch-queen, and no man would dast raise a hand against her. No woman would marry or or make any decision without her advice.”
The Countess dropped her head. “Except me. I was forced into a marriage to benefit my father and increase his estates. I ignored Veshtitsa and now I suffer for it. For now— Fah! My lord has no wish to hear such details, no more than I wish to speak of them.”
Here she raised her eyes. “But know this, my voivode, Veshtitsa has seen thee in her visions. She knows thy true nature. Veshtitsa has seen the great dragon of whom thou art the issue. She knows thou hold communion with the forbidden Scholomance and have learned their secrets. Thou art skilled in alchemy, in raising storms, and in transvection.”
“I know nothing of transvection,” Vlad assured her. “I have already said I cannot fly from these walls.”
She ignored the point. “I care not if my lord can fly to the moon. That is not what I wish.”
“My lady wishes to turn lead into gold? I failed at that as well, alas,” he said with a mock sigh.
The Lady Gregoryi did not smile at his jest; she was deadly serious as she said, “I am young and men have proclaimed me beautiful and it is only through this that I have any power over them. Yet beauty fades and I would not live as a hag. Grant me immortality, my lord. Dissemble not! I know thou hast this secret and can pass it to others.”
Vlad Drăculea stood a moment more, looking into her dark eyes—eyes that could never become enthralled under even his most determined glamour. Hers was not a will to be broken easily. Besides, with Marcian Gregoryi in the grave, his Jakšić allies would be free to unite with Báthory István and then petition the king of Hungary for his release.
Had anyone else made him a better offer in the last eleven years?
“So be it,” he said. “But I know not thy Christian name. Give it to me that I might name thee properly in any formulae that might be given for thy benefit.”
The lady nodded, seeing the wisdom of his request, no doubt from her tutoring by the Veshtitsa.
“My Christian name, milord, is Marija,” she said. “But better to conjure with my given name at birth for it is more true. I bear an ancient Bulgar name, Addhema.”
Continued in "THE LEGEND OF DRACULA, BOOK I: HIS FIRST CENTURIES"
* * *
Vampire lore spans the Old World, from Asia to Europe and Africa. However, there are interesting differences amongst the vampires of various parts of the world.
Eastern European vampires are shape-shifters, able to become a giant bat, a wolf, or a serpent.
The ancient Maenads of Greece not only drank blood but tore apart their male victims and devoured their flesh.
The Draugir of Scandinavia were brutish hulks like many European vampires before Dracula.
India has two warring factions of vampires, the wraith-like Vetals (or Baital, depending on the dialect) and the horrific Rakhshasa.
The Jiang-Shi of China are blind, with faintly greenish skin, long nails, and the ability to raise the dead.
The Penanggalan of Southeast Asia and the Philippine Islands are perhaps the strangest vampires of all—by day they appear as beautiful women, but at night they separate their heads from their bodies, pulling their internal organs with them, flying out in search of victims!