Book I of THE LEGEND OF DRACULA
The first book of THE LEGEND OF DRACULA chronicles THE VAMPIRE WARS. 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.
Here you will see Dracula hack and slash and plot and scheme his bloody way to the top of the undead hierarchy as he battles the ancient Chi You, the monstrous Mmbyu, the loathsome Viy, the seductive and mysterious Nycea, the cunning Erlik Iblis, the brutish Vardalekos, and more! But his greatest battle will pit him against the oldest and most powerful vampiress of all--the undead deity who created him--LILITH!
Excerpt from the "VAMPIRE WARS"
The Zombie Legions
A few nights later, soon after sunset, Vlad rose from the dead and prepared to ride once more to the Walachian capital, Târgoviște. A smile hung on his lips as he thought of retrieving Marya, the newest of his spawn.
“By now,” he said to Gretchen, who was his first, “Marya will have died and be ready to arise as one of us. At most, I might need to wait in her graveyard for a night until she arises. Either way, I intend to ride tonight.”
But ere he could enter the courtyard, Dr. Faust came to him, his robes all aflutter, and looking concerned.
“Sire, there is sorcery afoot this night!” said the old, undead scholar, “I sense the workings of some necromancy nearby! And it comes hither!”
Faust ran to the battlements, Vlad and Gretchen following. Faust pointed past the small bridge to the road that led up to the castle. All along this road they could discern distant movement. The moon had not yet risen, but even in the dark, Vlad spotted a dozen or more figures moving with an unnatural gate. There were men, women, even children. Some walked stiffly, some hopped, and a few in back crawled. They were gaunt or bloated or rotting. Some were scarcely more than skeletons. They were clad in finery or shrouds or nude. Yet still they proceeded, ever forward, ever closer. And they all carried long, sharp sticks.
“Damnation!” Vlad snarled, “Some sorcerer intends to lay siege with an army of the dead! Who is behind this?”
Almost before he finished asking, Vlad spotted a glimpse of crimson silk, half a mile away upon another peak. Invisible to mortal eyes, he had no difficulty recognizing the lithe figure.
“Kah Lo!” Vlad hissed, “The spawn of my enemy, Chi You. This is her doing!”
And just as he had no difficulty in seeing her, so was her hearing unimpaired by the distance.
“Hah! Beware, European!” sneered Kah Lo, from afar, “When I place thy head at the feet of my infernal lord, Chi You, he will grant me a golden palace!”
“We’ll see about that! Stang! Burgos! Find thy weapons and thy courage!”
The two young vampires drew their swords, eager for a fight, despite the sight of a score of revenants advancing, slowly, to the castle. On the battlements, Vlad grabbed Faust by the arm.
“Faust, use thy magicks!”
“To what end, sire?” asked the undead scholar, “True, I might summon the spirits of the dead, but these walking dead will not fear them for they are themselves animated by minor demons.”
“If the demons are minor, then exorcise them!”
Faust sighed in exasperation. “Sire, I am unable to exorcize such demons that provide the animating force because I can no longer channel the forces of Light—indeed, I would be destroyed, more likely.”
“So?” said Vlad.
“I do not make these laws, Sire,” Faust replied, flatly.
Vlad turned away from him. “If Satan can truly not cast out Satan,” he said, “then let us employ brute force! Stang! Burgos! Follow me!”
Vlad snatched up a broadsword. He took on the form of a giant bat and, holding the weapon in his claws, flew out to attack the legions of the dead. He landed before them on the bridge and transformed again.
With sword in hand, Vlad slashed wildly, depriving the first few revenants of their spears and their hands. A half dozen more charged him, the points of their spears aimed at his undead heart. He beat them all down.
Yet still more advanced.
Vlad knew himself to be greater than any of these revenants—but there were so many. Only the chasm behind him kept them from surrounding him. He decapitated one of the revenants and hacked apart another. Half a dozen wooden spears thrust towards his undead heart. These he beat down—all but one. It caught him in the left shoulder and he fell back. Wounded, he could no longer transform.
Stang and Burgos had been soldiers in life but neither had learned to transform into bat-form. They would not catch up to Vlad for another few seconds, he knew, and a few seconds more might be too late. He needed to buy time before they got the better of him
Excited to see this victory, Kah Lo dissolved into mist and moved closer. Reforming not a hundred feet away, she mocked him, “Ha, ha, ha! So Vlad of Europe would be the king of all vampires, yet mere revenants will be his undoing!”
The revenants thrust their spears. They clawed at him with dead hands. Vlad hacked and slashed, but he held his ground. If he tried to plow through the zombie legions, they would overwhelm him with shear numbers and bring him down.
Another spear thrust deep into Vlad, snapping his ribs and lodging inches under his heart. He cut the revenant in half, but another, this one armed with a butcher’s axe, came up on him, intending to lop off his head.
At last, Gretchen, Stang, and Burgos caught up with Vlad. Gretchen hurled a spear into a thick throng of walking dead and managed to miss them all. Stang and Burgos leapt over the chasm and began to hack the revenants apart with scimitars. The walking dead never turned around to face these new assailants.
A moment later, they had destroyed the last of the revenants or left them squirming on the ground with neither arms nor legs. Gretchen helped Vlad to his feet and he turned once more to face the blind witch out of Cathay.
Kah Lo raised her arms, ready to begin an incantation. But Vlad hoisted one of the wooden spears and hurled it at her.
The spear passed through where her heart had been, but she had already dissolved into mist.
Leaning on Gretchen, Vlad ordered Stang and Burgos to hunt down Kah Lo. He was not surprised when they returned hours later, having found neither hide nor white hair of her.
Back inside the castle, the wounded Vlad fed on both Gretchen and Faust to replenish his strength. Then he collapsed onto his skull-headed, bat-winged throne.
“If an undead sorcerer can not cast the spells necessary to protect us,” Vlad pondered, “we may need to employ such that still breathe.”
* * *
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 Kiang-Shi of China are blind, with faintly greenish skin, long nails, and the ability to raise the dead. The Penanggalen of Southeast Asia and the islands are perhaps the strangest vampires of all—they appear as beautiful women by day but at night they separate their heads from their bodies, pulling their internal organs with them, flying out in search of victims!
"Vampire Wars" is 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