Dracula – the beginning
A/N: Wrote this as a part of my novel “Legacy”, but can be read as a stand-alone short story. Hope you enjoy. Feedback is appreciated.
February 1477 – Comana, Giurgiu County, Romania.
Elena was returning home from the monastery. It was dark and it rained heavily, she should’ve stayed at home today, her bones really disliked the rain, but she had to light a candle for her husband. The cold winter’s night air encompassed her as she advanced with difficulty, the mud from the alley was sticking to her shoes making them quite a burden to carry. A harrowing wail coming from the side of the road made Elena’s heart stop.
– Bată-te Dumnezeu! (1 she exclaimed as she tried to make out what or who made the awful sound.
She took a step closer to the edge of the road, in the direction of the sound. Another whispered whine convinced her she was going the right way, so she continued to walk until she began to distinguish the shape of a human crawling in the dirt. Her hands flew to her mouth when she realized it was indeed a man. Almost naked and writhing in pain, there were so many swollen wounds and bruises on his body that he barely looked like a human being anymore.
He turned on his back with an agonizing cry. Rain poured, washing away the mud and blood, exposing multiple areas where red, angry flesh bloomed like a macabre flower. It was as if he had been cut off into pieces, and someone tried to put him back together, but forgot to finish the job.
– Help … he managed to utter, wheezing.
Elena crouched next to him, trying to find a way to lift him off the ground without hurting him more. As she looked at the cuts, she realized it was impossible.
– What in the world happened to you?
– Turks, he said with great difficulty before passing out.
Good, at least now she could try and carry him, unless the pain would jolt him awake. She hoped it wouldn’t. She couldn’t let another one die at the hands of the ottomans. They took away her husband. It was one too many.
Time passed and Elena continued to care for the man, and even though she did not know who he was she treated him as if he was her own son. Every day she tended to him, changed his bandages and dressed his wounds. Weeks had gone by, and even if his wounds began to heal, he did not regain his consciousness at all in this time.
It was a stormy night, like the one she found him on, when he first opened his eyes. At first, she thought she imagined it, but then his eyes moved to look at her, and she knew he was awake.
– What have they done to me? he whispered, a question not intended for her, but which she heard none the less.
– They tried to kill you, that’s what they’ve done. Thank God, they did not succeed.
He turned his head to face her, his long black hair turning with him. The wounds, not completely healed, were still sore, making him hiss in pain.
– They cut me up into pieces.
– You must be running a fever, Elena came next to his bed placing a hand on his forehead, genuinely worried.
– Do you know who I am?
– How am I supposed to know such a thing? I found you almost naked on the side of the road…
– And I’ll never be able to thank you enough. I am Vlad III Dracula, voivode of Wallachia. Open it, he said pointing to a small pouch that she placed on a table next to him after she found him.
She did as he instructed, opening the leather pouch. She gasped when out of it fell His Majesty’s blazon.
– But, he’s dead. His head was sent to Mehmed… she stopped abruptly as she observed the wound on his neck, one a little too perfect to be cut by hand.
– My God … how?
– They cursed me, he uttered closing his eyes, I could hear them when I came back, voices from the other side. The voices of all whom I punished. They would not let me die, doomed me to live for eternity and my blood to pass down the ordeal.
Elena took his hand.
– Then see it as a blessing.
– You can give the gift of life to those you love. What greater fortune than that could you wish?
– You have a good heart. What is your name?
– Elena Vlăsie, Your Highness.
That night he found it really hard to sleep, and he doubted he’ll ever sleep again. He raised his hands, studying in the pale light of the gas lamp the thin red lines that circled his wrists. The last time he looked at them was when they were severed from his body with a rusty dagger. He remembered the burning pain, but he endured the entire ordeal without making a sound. He watched how they cut him like one would cut a pig, fainting from shock, but being awakened by new waves of pain. He shuddered, closed his eyes and looked around the room to make the images go away.
It was a modest house, just like one would expect from a woman la Elena. There wasn’t much decoration except for a few pieces of hand sawn tapestry hanged on the walls. The few pieces of furniture, a small table and two chairs, were crowded around a mud stove placed on the other side of the bed.
When he finally drifted to sleep, what sounded like muffled screams woke him. For a few seconds, he didn’t know what was going on, but then he heard two men talking.
– See, told you this is gonna be easy.
– Yeah, she looks like she might have some money around too.
They sounded drunk. Very drunk. He raised from the bed, careful not to make too much noise. He knew very well that he wasn’t in the best shape and the element of surprise would give him an advantage against the two. When he reached the hallway, he could see Elena sprawled on the ground, with a wound on her head, and one of the man crawling with his pants down, over the woman’s still body as the other searched the room for money. He could feel the rage boiling inside of him, and with the rage, something else surfaced… hunger, scraping at his insides as if it wanted to get out. And he had to let it out. He could feel his body contract, and his bones crack under an invisible force. His wounds began to glue themselves back together, and the skin started to peel and fall off of his body revealing a new one of grey-greenish tint underneath.
The two men heard him writhe and they both turned to look in his direction. Nothing could match the look of terror on their faces as they stared into the two red eyes that watched them from the hallway. Vlad stepped into the room, revealing himself in the pale moonlight that filtered through the window.
The intruders didn’t even have time to scream. With inhuman speed, he tore into the men, sharp teeth ripping their throats open, sucking them dry, and only then his hunger succumbed.
When he was done with them he slowly approached Elena. She was not dead yet, but her pulse was weak and he doubted she’ll make it.
– Elena, he tried to wake her. Elena!
Her eyes fluttered open.
– Do you want to live? he asked her, he knew he didn’t have much time, so he went straight to the point.
– Yes, she muttered.
That’s all he needed. He bit his wrist, drawing blood and poured it into her mouth. At first, he thought it was too late or that his blood did not work that way … but then her eyes opened wide, glowing a fiery red.
It was done.