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Author Topic: VLAD THE IMPALER  (Read 3327 times)
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« on: February 06, 2006, 06:14:29 PM »

SON OF THE DRAGON
(Vlad The Impaler)
Jeani Rector
www.afterdarknovel.com


The year was 1431, and Joan of Arc was put to death.

That was also the year that Vlad Dracula was born.

His father bore the coat of armor of the house of Dracul, which means Dragon.  And the firstborn son carried the surname Dracula, which stands for Son of the Dragon.  Like his father, the child’s first name was Vlad.  Vlad Dracula became prince of Wallachia on the 22nd of August, 1456.

He would not be known as The Impaler until later, in 1459.  On Easter Sunday of that year in his native Transylvania, Dracula began his reign of terror by avenging the murder of his father.  Dracula ordered people to be skinned, boiled, decapitated, blinded, strangled, hanged, burned, roasted, hacked, nailed, buried alive, and stabbed. He also liked to cut off noses, ears, sexual organs and limbs.

But his favorite method of torture and murder was impalement on stakes.

Impalement was a form of execution where the victims were pierced between the legs from behind….thrust upon large sharpened stakes, each having the width of a man's arm. As the victims hung suspended above the ground, the weight of their bodies would slowly drag them downwards, causing the sharpened end of the stake to pierce their internal organs and so they would die.

Dracula especially liked mass executions. In order to better enjoy these mass spectacles, Dracula routinely ordered a banquet table set up in front of his victims, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the dying.

How do I know all of this?

Because I have known Vlad Dracula all of my life.
 
I am Radu, his younger brother.

Where shall I begin this story?  I will begin at the beginning.  I will tell you all I can remember.

I believe I feared my brother from my very birth.  Did I love him?  I can only say that it is difficult to love a viper.  One can respect a dangerous creature, but to feel affection for such a being goes against all reason.  So, I will tell you that I was cautious.

We grew up in the Castle Dracula.  The passageways were cold, lit by the torches on the walls but not warmed by them.  The torches released their smoke into the halls, causing the walls to be covered with a fine layer of soot.  The gate in the front of the castle would not open from the outside, and could only be opened from inside the castle grounds.  People could leave, but anyone who arrived needed to be let in by someone already inside.  It was a source of security for Castle Dracula, and therefore it provided protection for the Dragon Prince.

And Dracula needed security.  Because the Turks wanted him out of power, and they knew that the most effective way to keep Dracula away from the throne was to destroy him before he ever achieved the throne.

So the Turks made their first coup when Dracula was just seventeen, in 1448.

Unfortunately I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I was captured along with my brother.

And so this is where my story really begins.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I opened my eyes.

I had, for the brief period I was able to sleep, forgotten where I was.  But now as I came fully awake, the horror of my situation assaulted all of my five senses.

I felt the manacles upon my wrists, binding them together.  I could at least take some comfort that I was not chained to the wall; instead, my wrists were bound in front of me. 

The sounds in the dungeon were many.  I heard scratching sounds, and wondered if rats had found their way into the dark dungeon.
 
Other sounds permeated.  Because the jail was located within a mile of the river, I knew that it was sunk into a water table.  Hence the dripping; I knew that water found its way into cracks into the dungeon masonry and I could hear it inside.  Because of the seeping water, the floor was damp and cold as ice; it was only the middle of March so winter was still upon the land.

The smells in the dungeon were terrible.  Mixed with fungus smells and the scent of things rotting from the water were other repugnant odors, such as unwashed bodies and human feces.  But I found myself surprised that my nose was actually getting used to those dreadful smells, and that after my first hour in that place, my sense of smell had somehow adjusted to an extent that my eyes no longer watered from inhaling the stench.

Even my sense of taste was affected.  Because of the immense fear I had felt when I had been brought in early yesterday morning, my mouth had a copper taste and I wanted a drink of water so intensely that it was yet another thing to add to my misery.

A horizontal opening, about three feet long and six inches wide, was a sort of window in the cellar, located up at the level of the ceiling.  There was no glass upon it, and it was bare of any screening.   This small opening allowed some sun to stream into the dismal dungeon.  The window was above ground level, and it was the only source of light.  I looked at that opening, and despite the fact that it let more cold into the room, I was grateful for the fresh air that it allowed inside.  I mused that in summer, the number of flies and other biting insects that window would invite probably made for some intense suffering of a different nature.

I was crouched in the middle of the cellar to avoid the wet walls, and I realized that my eyes were adjusted to the dim light.  I looked around and saw that my brother was also crouched on the floor, his wrists similarly manacled.
 
Dracula stood.  He began to slowly pace the dungeon floor, his concentration on the walls.  “Wet.”

“Yes.”

He stopped.  “The excessive damp makes the walls crumble.  This place is old.”

I continued to look at him.  “So?”
 
“So we can escape.”

“We can?  How?”

He smiled, revealing sharp teeth.  “Don’t worry, we won’t need to go through the walls.”

And he was silent for a while, still standing.

“There are creatures down here,” I heard him say next.

“Yes, I can hear the rats,” I answered.

“There are spiders, but no flies.”

“There are no flies because it is not warm enough yet for them,” I told him.

“Spiders are killers,” Dracula said.  “They murder insects for their own personal gain.  Which makes spiders powerful creatures indeed.”

“Indeed they are,” I agreed, “if you are an insect.”

He turned to face me.  “I will turn my enemies into insects.  I will have an army of spiders.  But I will control the spiders.  My spiders will have no personal gain.”

“None of that will come to pass if we don’t get out of here,” I reminded him, ignoring the odd nature of his sentences.

He ignored my sentence in return, and instead said,  “I’m going to catch the spiders in this prison and eat them.  I want to absorb their power.”

It was not the first time that I was taken aback by the words out of my brother’s mouth.  There were times I questioned his sanity, while there were other times I felt he was a genius. And then there were the times I felt great fear of him.  Dracula often kept me off balance.

This time I tried to humor him.  “And the rats?” I asked.  “Will you eat them too?”

“I smell a rat.”

I sensed he was serious.  “What does that mean?”

“A rat will get us out of prison.  Our father has made his bribes.”

I felt cold; so very cold.  My fingers were icy and my nose was running freely.  The winter chill penetrated my clothes and I could feel the cold damp air in my very being.

And as I huddled on the cold, damp, earthen floor of the dungeon, suddenly the trap door at the top of the wooden steps opened.  I blinked in the unexpected light.  Someone was entering the cellar.  I could not see whoever was descending the steps.  As the light shone behind the man’s back, he appeared only as a dark figure coming down the stairs.

When the man reached the bottom, he said, “I have come for Vlad and Radu of the Castle Dracula.  Identify yourselves.”

My brother made a scoffing sound.  “As there are only two of us in this dungeon, it would seem we are they.”

 “Both of you, get up,” the man said.  “Follow me.”

“Why?” I asked.  “Where are you taking us?”

The man stopped and looked at me.  “You’d rather stay here in this filth?  Insolent.”

“This is prearranged,” Dracula told me.  Grateful that I wasn’t going through this alone, I managed a weak smile towards my brother. 

We climbed the steep steps, which were only wooden boards.  I was surprised that the boards had not already rotted from the damp, and sighed in relief when we all made it to the top.  That is where the man removed our wrist manacles.

Following the man through a passageway, he led us outside to where two horses waited.  “You are now on your own,” the man said.  “I am not responsible for your safety outside of this prison.”

Dracula said nothing.
 
“Thank you,” I told the man.  “This is of a politically sensitive nature, and you have restored the Prince to his future Crown.”

“He is a Dark Prince,” said the man, “and now I am damned for all eternity.  I did this for the money.  Now off with ye.”

Dracula mounted his horse.  An unseasonable fly landed on his hand.  He quickly smashed it with his other hand and he reined his horse to turn about.

“I can smash you as easily as I can this fly,” Dracula said to the man.  “I am a spider.”

But the man was not afraid, although I was.  “You are not a spider.  You are supposed to be a dragon.  But instead you are a devil,” the man said.  “May God have mercy on my soul for freeing you into the world.”

At that, my brother and I both kicked our horses and we were off.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I suppose I should address the events that occurred on Easter Sunday in 1459.

Those events were put into motion three years prior to that date.

I was not the favored son, so I was ignored by my father.  My powerful brother overshadowed my existence, and I paled by comparison into an obscure background. 

Yet it was that very obscurity that allowed me to eavesdrop on sensitive conversations.  It was as though people didn’t realize that I was in the room; or else they assumed that I was not important enough to take any heed of my presence.

So when I heard rumors of a plot to poison my father, I took my revenge by not sounding the alarm.  I remained in obscurity by choice.

And when these rumors proved to be fact, and my father was murdered, I stayed mute.  I did not point fingers.  Instead, I rejoiced in my secret heart.  Now perhaps my brother would no longer be the favored one in Castle Dracula.  And since Vlad Dracula became Prince by his inheritance, I expected to sit at his right hand upon the throne.

Yet it did not come to pass as I had envisioned.  My brother scorned my very nature; he perceived me as weak, and perhaps I was.  At least, I was during those years.

But I was afraid.  I lived in fear on a daily basis.
 
I alone saw what a monster my brother was becoming.  He was obsessed with mutilation and torture.  He limited his obsessions to helpless creatures.  I saw him capture flies and actually eat them.  But before he consumed the flies, he would tear off their wings and watched them struggle, and the creatures seemed baffled as to why they were suddenly unable to fly. 

Then he moved on to spiders, tearing off their legs.  I would turn away when he put the legless spider bodies into his mouth.

No one knew but me.  Because I walked the castle in obscurity.  So I was a witness to many things that no one noticed me noticing.

But to my list of fears, I added the fear for my brother’s sanity.

Suddenly Dracula turned his obsessions towards the human race.  On Easter Sunday he invited all the boyar families who had participated at his coronation three years before. He asked them how many Princes had ruled in their lifetimes. They said they had lived through many reigns. Shouting that this was their fault because of their plotting, Dracula had them all arrested on the spot.

There must have been two hundred prisoners that day.  My brother marched them to the field two miles away from the castle walls.  What horror the prisoners must have felt, to view the hundreds of wooden poles that were anchored into the earth and reaching for the sky.  What fear and panic they must have experienced to know they were looking at the implements of their own execution.

Because the stakes had been set up earlier.  The stakes were waiting for the victims of my brother’s madness, standing at attention like murderous soldiers.

The screams were horrible, the blood endless.  The people slid slowly down the poles, sufferers of their own weight against gravity, and smears of red on the stakes followed them as they sank slowly towards the earth.  Eventually hundreds of sightless eyes stared into their own private eternity.

And my brother stayed close to the killing field, eating a picnic lunch, and closing his eyes dreamily, his body tensed with seemingly an almost sexual ecstasy.

He didn’t know I was watching.

It was that day when I realized that I could no longer remain weak.

Yet I was still afraid of him.  Very afraid.

But the killings escalated.  Soon Vlad Dracula became known throughout the land as Vlad The Impaler.

I had to stop him.
 
But how?

Of course.  I could use my obscurity once again.

I could murder my brother and no one would be the wiser, because no one thought I was capable of such a crime.  In fact, no one thought of me at all.

So I felt certain I could get away with it.  I could commit the assassination of a powerful monarch.  Who else would be more suited for such an act, then a family member close to the Dragon Prince?

I made up my mind to do it that very night.

I waited until ten o’clock, and then I opened my bedroom door.  I peeked down the long hallways that were lighted by torches, placed in holders on the stone walls.  The torches shined, wavering from the drafts that gently blew down the corridors.  The flickering flames caused the lights to dance, creating an illusion of shadow-creatures creeping stealthily through the passageways.  I was nervous, so I trembled as I crept from my bedroom and hurriedly made my way down the hall.

I made my way down the main castle stairwell, dark and damp.  I could hear sounds of dripping water that seeped from within the cracks of the masonry.   It reminded me of the dungeon I shared with my brother, now seemingly so long ago.  I could smell the assault of stale air heavy with the scent of chamber pots and candle soot.  My senses seemed heightened, and my thinking was stimulated with adrenaline.

Finally I reached my brother’s bedroom door.

I stood outside his door for a moment, my eyes darting around, seeking any witnesses.

There were none.

Stealthily I pushed the door open and entered my brother’s bedroom.

The bedroom was brightly lit with multitudes of candles, but Vlad the Impaler was asleep.  I knew he had been drinking wine before he retired, so I felt confidence in hearing his drunken snore.  He had one arm outside of his covers.  The flickering candlelight caused Dracula’s arm to almost shine with grotesque whiteness as though the underbelly of a fish.  Unable to bear to look at that single accusing arm, I closed my eyes as I plunged my knife towards his flesh.

Dracula jerked awake just as I was bringing the knife downwards.  He tried to roll out of the way, ducking downwards on the bed.
 
So instead of penetrating his evil heart where I had originally aimed, my knife instead found its target into my brother’s throat.

But either way, the end result would be the same.

Dracula was dying.

His hands flew up to his face and his eyes opened wide in amazement.  He tried to pull the knife from his throat.  He made guttural, gurgling sounds.  His eyes rolled up in his head and his body began to jerk.

He became very still.

But the blood!

I did not expect the fountain of liquid that spurted out of his severed throat artery, as it splattered over my face and my chest. It was sticky and warm.  And very, very red.

I felt faint.  I felt nauseous. 

But I gathered my wits together and stole stealthily back out my brother’s bedroom door, leaving Vlad Dracula dead in his chambers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 Of course the Castle Dracula went into chaos for a while.  But if the truth be told, no one really mourned the death of Vlad The Impaler.
 
His body was buried in the church at the Snagov monastery.
 
Even that created controversy.  Some in Transylvania did not want my brother’s body to be buried on hallowed ground.  Others didn’t care because they were simply glad he was dead.
 
And still others were relieved to see my brother interred within the church grounds.  Those were the ones who wanted Dracula closely watched by God so that his ghost could not wander without His knowledge.

And that should be the end of my story, right?

But it is not. Still my story continues.

One night I had a dream.
 
I saw my brother kneeling on the ground, near the site of the Impalements.  As the empty but bloody stakes rose in the background, Dracula looked three dimensional, and very real in the foreground.  I thought he was kneeling in prayer, but instead he dug the earth with his hands and kneaded the moist dirt through his fingers.

Then he rose to face me.  He rose to face me, his murderer.

“You meant to thrust your knife through my heart, not my neck,” he told me.

“Yes,” I agreed.

“You missed and struck my neck.  No matter, because no knife can kill me, whether it is through the heart or through the neck.  But why did you want to pierce my heart?”

“Because you had an evil heart,” I said.

“You speak in the past tense,” he said.

“You are past tense.  You are dead.”

“Am I?” Dracula asked, and his eyes glowed red.

“Yes.  I killed you.”

“I am cursed,” Dracula said.

“No, everyone you victimized was cursed,” I told him.

“That too,” he smiled, revealing his sharp teeth.  “Nonetheless, I am cursed. I cannot die.”

“Impossible!”  I was becoming frightened as I always felt around my brother.  “I killed you!  I watched you die!”

“Don’t you want to know what my curse is?” He smiled condescendingly.

“I am dreaming!” I cried.  “You are not real!”

“So you think you are dreaming.  Well.  I will tell you my curse and then you can decide for yourself what is real and what is a dream.”

“How are you cursed?” I asked.

“I am not dead.  Forever I am undead.  I rise again in the darkness, to continue to do evil things by the cover of night.  I will come to you soon to take my revenge.  I will destroy you like a fly, my brother.  Have you forgotten the power of spiders?  Or Dragons?”

I stood my ground.  “There is more to your curse.  I feel it.  There must be something dangerous to you.  Something that can destroy you. What is it?  I command by the Order of the Dragon that you tell me the rest of the curse.”

“It doesn’t matter what the rest of the curse is, because you have always been too weak for it to make any difference.”

“Remember I was not so weak when I killed you.”

Dracula took a step back, away from me.  “Ah yes, Radu The Murderer.  Very well.  The danger to me is the wooden stakes.  Just as my victims died of impalement, so can I.”

And then I awoke.  Sunlight streamed though my window, and I experienced tremendous relief.  It was just a dream.  A very real dream, but a dream nonetheless.

Dracula was dead and buried.
 
Or was he?

I suddenly felt a fever to find out.  I needed to search out my brother’s grave and dig for his body.  I needed reassurance that the evil my brother represented in life was contained in death.

I waited until well after dark to travel to the church where my brother’s body was supposed to be interred.  I walked into the church cemetery, and I stepped carefully.  Stone paths were laid around the graves, but were treacherous to maneuver upon because they alternatively sank and protruded.

Grass was overgrown, and wild trees grew at odd angles, limbs untamed from lack of pruning.

The moonlight was bright, and I could see that the graveyard was very small.  An owl screeched, and a mouse scurried by, close to my feet.  The moon’s glow cast long shadows from the trees, and the dark silhouettes lay over the ground like stripes.

Locating my brother’s grave, I pushed the sharp blade of my shovel to break the earth.  It gleamed in the moonlight with every shovelful of earth that I pitched to the side.  The dirt was heavy clay, but since it was spring, it hadn’t yet hardened into the unyielding hardpan of summer.  I made progress quickly, and I knew I would soon see whatever remained of my brother buried in this grave.

I climbed into the hole I had dug, at a depth of about three feet, and knelt inside the excavation.  I thrust my hands in the dirt, casting aside part of the wooden coffin my shovel had crushed.  The ground felt wet and slimy, heavy with clay.  I cleared away muck with my bare hands, and then my fingers closed around something smooth and solid.

It was my brother’s medallion, bearing the golden Order of the Dragon.  Why was it on the outside of the coffin instead of safely latched around my brother’s dead neck?

Nervous sweat poured off of my brow.  I gripped the wooden lid and pulled it off of the coffin.  I tossed the coffin lid aside, revealing the open grave.

I closed my eyes.  I was afraid to look.

But I was afraid not to look.

By the light of the full moon, I opened my eyes.  I had to know.

The grave was empty. My brother was gone.

And so I went back home to the Castle Dracula.
 
And that night, I began to prepare.  I sharpened wooden stakes because I was no longer weak; and finally, I was no longer afraid of my brother.

I will find him.  Or...perhaps he will find me.

Either way, I will be ready.

Jeani Rector
www.afterdarknovel.com
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Don't look behind you!!!!!


« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2006, 06:41:17 PM »

Thanks for showing us your story, Jeani afro

Did you want critiques on it, or are you just displaying it here? smiley
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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