THE LEGEND OF DRACULA, Book IV
The fourth installment of the series chronicles Dracula's battles with the Barons of Vordenburg and his most ambitious plot. Witness the adventures of his minions, leading right up to the opening chapter of Bram Stoker's novel!
“INTO THE MOUTH OF DEATH”
Carmilla seduced the daughters of the noble houses of Europe. Lord Ruthven did the same. What happens when they meet?
Lenore becomes the muse for a drunken poet. Will she drain him dry or turn him into a vampire?
Baron Vordenburg takes up his family's crusade to rid the world of the Undead—but what is he to do when all of Europe erupts in revolution? Is Dracula behind the chaos?
Mircalla finds a charming playmate, hoping to transform her into a vampire. What will she do when Dracula refuses her?
At long last, Dracula faces his greatest enemy in the blood-soaked streets of Paris. How can he hope to defeat the deadliest and most powerful vampire of them all?!
Finally, the action and horror lead right up to the minute when Dracula meets Jonathan Harker! See how it all came together!
Dracula, Elizabeth Báthory, Carmilla, Lord Ruthven, Lenore, Countess Dolingen.... All of them, together at last, in the pages of “The Legend of Dracula, Book IV: INTO THE MOUTH OF DEATH!”
Retelling the short story "Dracula's Guest" from Vlad's point of view, and also the climax of "Dracula" with the race back to Transylvania to the castle while being pursued by Van Helsing and crew, this portion is told in the first person and makes for an interesting twist on the originals which are recounted in diary-form from five standpoints. Nice to have the protagonist's viewpoint for a change.
Tony-Paul de Vissage,
Author of "The Night-Man Cometh", "Shadow Lord", and more
This is, by far, the strongest of the series. The author’s style really strengthened from the last volume to this, with a confidence evident that carries the reader.
Excerpt from “INTO THE MOUTH OF DEATH”
2. Lenore, the Muse, 1834
Lenore had brazenly taken Benjamin Andrews and everyone in Baltimore knew it. To cover her tracks, she knew they must soon leave the city. She'd been obliged to dribble a few drops of her blood on the lips of his driver, Paul, so that his will might be enthralled unto her own. That way, not only would he not speak of his master's 'demise', but he would serve Lenore and protect her coffin by day.
Paul's first task was to find a wagon and team to haul two coffins from Baltimore to Charleston. There, after Benjamin died, Lenore intended to wait three nights for him to rise. But on the night of their arrival, a curious incident occurred.
Cadet Wilson, the young man whom she had take her to the Steadley affair, had followed her to Charleston. And he was not alone.
“What do you want, Mr. Wilson?” Lenore asked, annoyed at his appearance in her foyer.
“'Cadet Wilson', if you please,” said the young man in a chilly tone. “And I think you know full well what I want—what I demand.”
Lenore smirked. “Satisfaction. But from I or from your rival, the far more handsome and wealthier Mr. Andrews?”
Wilson all but shook. No, he actually did shake in anger, which Lenore and his friend both noted.
“If I could take my satisfaction upon you, I would,” Wilson said. “As it is, I will have it from Andrews. Where is he?”
“The Archdale cemetery,” she replied, calmly, bemusedly. And although Cadet Wilson was decidedly not bemused, his companion shared a laugh with Lenore, to Wilson's detriment.
“Do not dissemble with me, hussy!” Wilson snarled and his hand gripped the handle of his dress saber in its sheath. “Tell me where he is at once or—”
He stopped only when his companion placed his own hand on Wilson's arm and gave him a stern look. Wilson, looked down at the short, slight built young man, and he was scandalized at what he took for betrayal.
The other young man merely said, “Wilson, you needn't humiliate yourself and your uniform by threatening a lady. If you wish vengeance on Mr. Andrews then, if your description is accurate, you need but turn around and challenge him.”
Wilson instantly turned to the doorway and so did Lenore, to see of whom he had spoken. The time between a victim's death and his arising is usually three days, but Dracula had told her that it varied and was sometimes less. However, she saw that there was in fact no one there.
Wilson was equally surprised and was about to turn and make comment on the matter. Instead, a bottle burst upon Wilson's head, showering him with wine and broken glass. He went down and stayed down.
Lenore looked on as the other young man tossed away the broken neck of the bottle. He then knelt and took the sword from his friend's unconscious hand.
“The man's a fool,” the other fellow declared, looking down at his friend with disgust. “Worse, he is a scoundrel for insulting so fine a lady as yourself. It would be better to delight in your company and find inspiration in your beauty.”
Lenore allowed an eyebrow to rise, finding herself surprised for one of the few times in her afterlife. Then the realization struck her—nearly as profoundly as it had that night, over three years prior. This was he, the man who had cried out in the night, as he himself became aware of a necromantic revelation from—from Hell itself, for all she knew. Yet he was no necromancer, of that she was equally certain. Then how had he been the source of the omen that had struck her?
“Sir, I have never met any man quite like yourself. You interest me, and that is something few have ever done. Might I know to whom I speak.”
The young gentleman looked up at her. “I am Edgar Poe, at your service.” Then he bowed and kissed her hand.
* * *
A common criticism of Bram Stoker’s “DRACULA” is that the first few chapters are great… and then Dracula disappears! That’s because the novel, despite the title, is not really about Dracula—it’s about how people respond to Dracula. I would argue that Stoker spends those first few chapters introducing Dracula—and showing us that he is, simply put, pure evil. But the heart of the book is about how, for example, Jonathan Harker, broken by his experiences, eventually recovers and triumphs. It’s about Lucy Westenra and the madman Renfield who each allow themselves to be seduced, in different ways, by the vampire Count. The novel is certainly about Mina Murray who is tempted, even aroused by Dracula, but ultimately leads the men to destroy him. But the novel’s real hero is Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who realizes what’s going on and unites all the others into an Army of Light—united with the goal of destroying Count Dracula, once and for all!