Maybe it that Halloween's just around the corner, but for some reason I felt the sudden uncontrollable urge to write a Dracula story. This is my first horror story so please be gentle. I went all out on the violence and sex (more so on the sex ;) heh heh) so if you're under eighteen or suffer from a weak constitution, I urge to turn away. I'm not legally responsible for irreparable trauma. Still here? Well, you've been warned. Dracula belongs to Bram Stoker, but the character has since passed into the public domain so, legally, I'm in the clear. Vlad III is an actual, factual historical figure so I'm not certain that copyright laws apply to him. Now, without further ado, on with the show!

I, Dracula

Darkness.

My earliest memory is of my mother's gardens in Sighisoara, the town where I was born. I was barely a toddler and the days were filled with sunshine and warmth as I played amongst the trees and flowers under the watchful eyes of my mother, a Moldavian princess.

Then, one day, my father came for me. His soldiers restrained my mother as she screamed my name and spat curses at my father as he seized me. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I reached for her outstretched hands, longing for her safe embrace, begging to escape from my father's iron grip, but to no avail as the gap between us grew and grew until she was out of sight. Eventually the gardens, the castle, and the town of Sighisoara, that were my entire world, vanished over the horizon.

That night, camped in the southern mountain paths, I wept. I wept for the garden. I wept for my home. I wept for my mother, whom I never saw again. I wept for all I had lost until my father came and struck me, berating me for sniveling like a girl.

"Remember who you are, Vlad," he said sternly, his auger eyes peering from out of his scarred face, reflecting the flickering candle light. "You are of the noble House of Basarab, proud descendants of the Hun warlord Attila, and soon, we shall regain our birthright from those who think themselves our masters."

When he left me, I curled up in my blankets and wept silently, longing for sunshine, and my home, and my mother's protective embrace...

Darkness.

I watched my father's back as I was led downward. We were below the dungeons of the castle now, navigating through dimly torch-lit catacombs beneath the land of Hungary. I was a boy. I was frightened, but I showed it not. I knew that tears would only earn me a beating from my father later.

In the two years since spiriting me away from my mother, he had seized the throne of his homeland, Wallachia, through the murder of House Basarab's rivals, House Danesti, declaring himself voivode Vlad Dracul, or "Vlad the Dragon". Following his ascension, he was summoned by John Hunyadi, general of Vladislaus, King of Hungary, to join in the campaign against the Turks in fulfillment of his vows. I didn't know at the time what vows he had meant but my father declined the request. However, at the behest of the Pope, he sent my elder brother Mircea, whom I neither loved nor hated, in his stead.

I was only five years of age and did not understand the ways of politics and warfare, occupations which would inevitably become second nature for me as the enmity between my father and General Hunyadi grew in the years after his great defeat at Varna.

At last we reached a great circular chamber, illuminated by roaring fire pits lining the circumference of the room. It housed a glistening golden cross, the symbol of the One True God, hanging above an altar draped with a banner emblazoned with the image of a winged serpent biting its own tail.

I recognized many of the men in the room, heads of Great Houses all. Here was King Alfonso of Aragon. There Ladislaus II, King of Poland. The always smiling Oswald von Wolkenstein, sharing a goblet with the dour Duke Ernst of Austria. And towering above them all was white-bearded Sigismund of Hungary, the Holy Roman Emperor himself.

I stumbled into a kneel, and the assorted men chuckled. Wondering what I could have done wrong and fearing the repercussions my father would visit upon me afterwards for my blunder, Sigismund put and hand upon my shoulder and gently spoke, "There's no need for that, son. Here, we are all equal."

Then he helped me to my feet and I felt a fleeting swell of pride. Then the rulers of the Christian Kingdoms, and my father, encircled me and drew their swords.

"Do you Vlad, son of Vlad Dracul," spoke the Emperor solemnly. "Swear your soul to the Lord God, and his Son Jesus the Christ, to defend Europa and the Empire of God from the heathens that would destroy her, to your dying breath?"

My father had made me practice the correct response, but I couldn't help my voice wavering. This was, after all, a grave undertaking for a young boy.

"I-I Vlad, s-s-son of Vlad Dracul," I stuttered at last. "So solemnly swear.

"Then in the name of God and the Church of Rome," declared Sigismund. "I welcome you to the Order of the Dragon. Hail the Son of the Dragon. Hail Vlad Dracula!"

"Hail!" came the answering cry of the others.

And that was how I received my infamous name.

Darkness.

Betrayed!

As Hunyadi's armies, allied with Basarab II, bastard son of House Danesti, beared down upon Mircea's forces, my cowardly father forsook honor and vows, and reached out to the Order's enemies, the Ottoman Empire. To solidify this unholy pact, he sent my half-brother Radu and myself to Adrianople as hostages of the Sultan Murad.

We were kept in his fortress at Egrigoz. We were free to roam about as we wished but were prohibited from leaving the grounds. By day, we were educated in logic, the Qur'an, the Holy Book of the Muslims, the Turkish language, horseback riding and warfare.

"You are now servants of Allah and the Revered Sultan," declared our tutors. "We are to educate you in order for you to serve effectively." Ironically, my forced education would later become instrumental in my future campaigns.

By night we were at the mercy of our captors. Radu resisted at first but eventually found it easier to succumb to the lusts of the Sultan, and his bastard son Mehmed. But I never gave in, I fought, and cursed, and spat, resulting in being put to the whip. I was lashed and beaten until I had no strength left to fight back. Then they slaked their desires upon my battered young body.

I hated Murad and his son for the sexual torments they inflicted upon me.

I hated Radu for his weakness.

I hated my father for his cowardice and treachery.

I branded every whip-lash, every indignity, every terror that was visited upon me into memory, and swore that I would make each and every one of them pay tenfold...

Darkness.

My father was dead.

Backed by the Ottomans, my father managed to seize back control of Wallachia from Basarab and drove Hunyadi's forces back into Hungary.

But his victory was short lived. Two years after his return from Turkish lands, an arrow found it mark through his neck in the marshes of Balteni. The official word was that he was assassinated by rebellious boyars under the command of Hunyadi, but in fact it was I who marked my father for death through my contacts in the Order of the Dragon.

"He is a traitor," I had written in my letter to my allies within the Order, commissioning the assassination. "And traitors deserved only death."

I had my vengeance. I should have felt joy in his death, or at least a grim satisfaction. But I only felt hollow. Numb.

My elder brother, Mircea, was also dead, blinded with hot irons and buried alive at Targovist. In order to protect his political interests in the region, Murad placed me on the throne, intending me to be his puppet, but I would not be used.

Instead, I left my enemies to contend with one another; Hunyadi, fueled by his lingering hatred for my family, from the west; and the Sultan from the east, and sought refuge in Moldavia, under the protection of my mother's brother, Bogdan II.

Darkness.

It was a gamble, but I had no other choice.

Several years following my flight to Moldavia, my uncle had been assassinated, and I had nowhere to go but Hungary. I delivered myself to Hunyadi and offered him an alliance, demonstrating my knowledge of the Turkish mindset and the inner machinations of the Ottoman Empire to him. He also noted my rage upon discovering that my old enemy Mehmed II was now Sultan.

Won over by my tactical abilities and hatred for the Ottomans, he ended his feud with my family and took me on as a military advisor, and later his son in law when he offered his niece, the dark beauty Elisabetha's, hand in marriage. In the coming years he would become my greatest ally in my struggle to free my homeland from Turkish rule.

In the Year of Our Lord 1456, Hungary invaded Serbia to banish the Ottomans, as I simultaneously invaded Wallachia. We were both victorious, though Hunyadi's unexpected death put a damper on the festivities. Nevertheless, I had regained my birthright.

Darkness.

That fool Memed actually expected me to pay tribute to him, declaring that, as I was initially placed on the throne by his father, I was still the property of his Empire and, therefore, owed taxes to the Ottoman Porte.

When I refused, he sent assassins to have me slain. I made swift examples of them and, in a retaliatory measure, invaded Bulgaria where I made use of my favorite form of torture, impalement. Over 23,000 Turks and Bulgarians were put upon pikes, an act that would earn me the name Kazikli Bey, the Impaling Prince, amongst my enemies.

Enraged, Memed raised a great army, led by my treacherous half-brother Radu, to conquer Wallachia once and for all.

Before readying myself for war, I spent one last night with my wife, Elisabetha.

Though we were brought together by politics, she became my shining light in these troubling times. The sun, the moon, and the stars of my world. Wrapped in her embrace, I could forget the coming bloodshed; forget the screams of the Turks and Bulgarians; forget my hatred and sorrow. Laying beside her in our bedchamber, she made me feel as though I were human again.

"Why so sad husband?" asked Elisabetha coyly.

I had finally caught my breath from our most recent lovemaking and the sheets were stained with our sweat and fluids.

"I want it to end," I whispered. "I want the fighting; the death; the hatred; all of it to end. That would be my wish if God saw fit to grant just one to His lowly servant. For the endless fighting to cease and to allow me to spend all eternity in your arms."

She draped a pale, slim arm across my torso and sensuously kissed my chest.

"Well," she sighed, pressing herself against me, her dark eyes gazing into mine. "I can't grant eternity, but I can help you make this night last a bit longer."

Then she slid her hand downward, cradling my manhood in her delicate fingers.

I was upon her in an instant, licking her bosoms, putting my fingers through her opening and rubbing her insides.

She retaliated by placing my member into her mouth and stroking me with her tongue. I spread her womanhood and licked her, sticking my tongue as far inside of her as I could.

Elisabetha moaned and sighed my name over and over until I could bear it no longer. I positioned myself on top of her and gazed into her dark shining eyes, inflamed by the heat of our passion. She smiled and opened her legs for me, and I thrust into her.

She cried out in a mixture of pain and pleasure, moaning in time to my grunts as I thrust deeper and deeper into her. I was nearing my limit and I struggled to restrain myself, but she made it difficult as she wound her legs more tightly around my hips.

"Let me... take it, Vlad..." breathed Elisabetha.

The tension in my loins was building, it was becoming almost unbearable.

"Let me take it all!" she shrieked as she reached her climax. She shuddered and clung to me, her nails digging into my back.

Then I released myself into her, her opening overflowing with my seed and her juices, and I collapsed on top of her, the both of us gasping to regain our breath.

She let her hands roam blindly over my form and she whispered in my ear, "My prince; my strong, sad prince. You need a sheath for your growing madness, and I will always be here to provide it."

Darkness.

I departed to meet my enemy's army with one of my own, which included not only men of military age, but also of women and children as young as twelve as well as contingents of Gypsy slaves, to match the vast numbers the Sultan would surely send against us. Some were driven by patriotism, others by devotion to their liege. But I knew that the majority were driven by fear. Fear of the invading Turks...and fear of the Impaler.

After a number of skirmishes, the Turkish janissaries had managed to cross the Danube River as night began to fall. It was then that I declared, "I swear by Lord Jesus the Christ, I will slay Mehmed, even if I have to lay waste to Wallachia herself to do it!"

My forces worked through the following days, poisoning the Danube's waters, and creating marshes by diverting the water from smaller rivers. Pits were dug, then covered with timber and leaves.

We drove all game animals to the mountains as the enemy advanced for seven days. Mehmed and Radu's army suffered hunger and fatigue as my forces chipped away at theirs with hit-and-run tactics. I also sent those suffering from plague to intermix with the Turks and infect them.

As the plague spread through the Ottoman army, the Sultan's fleet launched a few minor assaults upon the cities of Braila and Chilia but did minimal damage as I had already destroyed the Bulgarian ports.

After failing to capture the fortresses of Bucharest and Snagov Island, Radu advanced upon my capital, Targoviste. With the enemy camped at my doorstep, I waited until after sunset, when the Sultan's soldiers were confined to their tents and launched what came to be known to history as the Night Attack. Riding in with 24,000 horsemen, I slaughtered every soldier and servant I found. I searched for my hated enemy, the Sultan, but, alas, he was not to be found. His two grand viziers, brothers Ishak and Mahmud Pasha, made adequate substitutes, and they died in their ruler's place.

Radu was also not present either, likely pleasuring his liege-lord wherever he had hidden himself.

As the sun rose over the mountains I called an end to the fighting and we retreated to the mountains, the enemy, so broken and fearful of the legendary Kazikli Bey, dared not follow.

Despite the physical and spiritual toll our attack had upon the Turks, Radu still insisted on marching on Targoviste and Mehmed reluctantly obliged, but I had a nasty surprise waiting for them there; 20,000 Turkish and Bulgarian corpses impaled around the city walls, faces frozen in horror and agony as flies, maggots and carrion fowl glutted themselves on their rotting remains.

At last, demoralized beyond hope of victory, the Ottomans left and the capital was saved.

But for me the victory was a hollow one, for upon returning home I was confronted with the news that Elisabetha, my wife, the sun, the moon, and the stars of my world, had seen Mehmed and Radu's vast army and, despairing my survival, cast herself from the tallest tower of Poienari Castle and plummeted into the Arges River, which today is known as Raul Doamnei, the Princess's River.

I arranged for her to receive final rights so that I could mourn her in a manner befitting a Wallachian Princess, but the priests from Rome refused, saying that her soul was forever damned for the sin of suicide.

"You dare!?" I shouted, grief and rage finally overtaking me. "You dare tell me my Elisabetha is damned!? Damned! Hers was the purest soul in all this wretched, wretched world! If your God will not admit her into heaven, then heaven is no heaven for me! Damn you! Damn you all to the deepest pits of perdition! And damn your God with you!"

On that day, my alliance with the Church, the Order, and the Holy Roman Empire ended.

Darkness.

Unable to subdue my forces, Mehmed left the country, leaving Radu to fend for himself. He did not want for allies however. My subsequent excommunication from the Church had alienated me from most of the Wallichian nobility as well as my former allies in the Christian Kingdoms, despite my numerous military achievements. It took little effort for Radu to charm his way into their good graces.

In the summer of 1462, my treacherous brother had struck a bargain with the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus, and I was consequently imprisoned as Radu was placed on the throne.

Four years I spent in captivity. I spent my time reading books brought to me from the academy of Scholomance in the Carpathian Mountains. The literature of Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus captured my attention, as they discussed a fascinating elixir that could grant eternal life. The elixir was supposedly created through alchemy, a practice banned by the Church which, naturally, made it all the more appealing to me.

I requested more books on the subject and practiced the forbidden arts in my dungeon cell. Strange scents and explosions became a daily occurrence in Corvinus' dungeon, but the Hungarian king neither disciplined nor reprimanded me my trivial pursuit. Rather, he seemed amused by these strange antics of his prisoner.

"At it again I see, Vlad," he once commented during one of his spontaneous visits. "What you see in these things I'll never know."

By now the king had gifted me with glass beakers of numerous shapes and sizes, connected by tubes of Indian Rubber from one to the other as fluid was propelled by the heat of the flames beneath it.

"It gives me something to do," I answered flatly. "Besides, I find it all quite fascinating. Imagine, an elixir that grants immortality. We'll have no need of God then, we'll be as gods ourselves."

"Keep spouting such blasphemies," sighed Corvinus. "And Rome may yet order your execution."

"So let them," I sighed. "Perhaps I'll find my Elisabetha in hell."

The Hungarian king regarded me with a gaze that was at once sympathetic and calculating.

"Radu is dead," he said at last. "Syphillis."

"Don't expect me to mourn him," I said, stoically watching the yellow and blue liquids mix into a green. "He was a traitor and a coward."

"Wallachia stands in ruins," continued Corvinus. "Soon the Turks will turn their attention to the other Christian Kingdoms. Sooner or later Mehmed will have to be dealt with."

"Hope you have a plan," I snorted. "The Sultan holds the eastern half of the world. Entire nations of soldiers at his beck and call. He simply needs to crook his finger and they'll descend upon you in wrath."

"Ah," said Corvinus craftily. "But we have an advantage. The Turks still tell tales of Kazilkli Bey to scare their children into behaving. We have the legend of Vlad Dracula."

I grunt, "Not quite as effective as Dracula himself."

"Precisely my point," chuckled the Hungarian king. "Which is why I ask you, as a fellow leader of men, will you help us?"

I looked at him for a moment before responding, "Even if I were inclined to do so, your Church will never use me. Not after I had insulted her honor."

"The Pope is willing to grant a full pardon," said Corvinus. "And the Holy Roman Emperor shall back your claim to the throne. And, of course, you have my support."

I gazed into the green potion and shoveled a single grain of white powder into the concoction, gradually turning it a vermillion shade, before answering, "I shall need one year to prepare."

Darkness.

Betrayed.

In 1475, I was fully prepared to retake my homeland. Backed by Hungary and the Church, I led a mixed force of Transylvanians led by Prince Stefan Bathory, a few dissatisfied Wallachian boyars, and a contingent of Moldavians.

After the death of Radu, the Ottomans placed Basarab the Elder, a member of House Danesti, upon the Wallachian throne.

Corvinus was right about my legend. At the approach of my army, the Turks abandoned their posts to cower in the Alps, while Basarab fled to his Turkish masters.

Once I had regained my throne, the bulk of my forces returned to Transylvania, leaving me weakened and vulnerable.

Mehmed, unable to tolerate my existence any longer, emptied all his lands upon my kingdom. I met this impossible force with less than four thousand men.

The Church, neither forgetful nor forgiving, had retracted their support to my claims after less than a year, and I lost the Empire and Corvinus' support along with it. I shouldn't have been surprised. I was no stranger to betrayal by now.

My father sold me to slavery.

My brother fought alongside my enemies.

The Church condemned the only woman who mattered to eternal damnation.

And now, all that remained to me were my Moldavian bodyguards, who still remembered their vows to my mother.

On that cold December day in 1476, my meager forces and I met the enemy on a field near Bucharest. African elephant calvary charged alongside deadly black-clad Persian archers, and horsemen from the far east. The trees were barren and skeletal. The skies were the color of cannon muzzles. And the wind had a tart biting smell to it. Yes, it was a fine day to die.

We charged, prepared to sell our lives dearly, the Moldavians for my mother's memory, I for a cause I was no longer sure I believed in.

What followed was a maelstrom of blood and violence. My Moldavians fell one by one, felled by black-fletched arrows; trampled beneath elephant paws or the hooves the eastern horses; or meeting their end beneath Turkish steel.

I fought snarling like a wolf from the Carpathians, sending many enemy soldiers to hell ahead of me. Inevitably, an arow found it mark in my chest, but still I fought. Heedless of the Turkish screams of agony, I slashed again and again, my blade slicing through flesh and bone, until another arrow pierced my shoulder.

I stumbled but did not fall. I was surrounded by the Eastern forces and I glared my defiance at them, until a third arrow pieced my stomach and I fell to my knees.

Two Turks approached. One kicked away my sword and shoved my face first into the ground. I tasted the blood-soaked snow. The other raised his sword high. The sun was obscured by a thick veil of cloud. I would not even be allowed to see the sun one last time before I died. I could almost hear the laughter of God, Radu, my father, and all others who had betrayed me throughout my life.

The Turk sank his sword into my exposed neck, cleaving through flesh but didn't make it all the way through the bone.

My blood poured into the dirt, and snow. Soaked into my hair. I bled from my eyes. I tasted iron.

Elisabetha...

The Turk swung his sword again, this time cleaving all the way through my neck.

And I died...or so I thought...

An eternity of darkness.

Darkness everywhere I looked. I was alone and naked in the void. So utterly alone. I had nowhere to go. Nothing to do. So I closed my eyes - not that it made any difference in this total absence of light - and attempted to drift off into slumber.

Fitful sleep...

Peaceful...

Undreaming...

Slumber for all eternity...

"Dracula..."

The voice snaps me into wakefulness and I was confronted by a woman. A woman unlike any I had ever seen. Her crimson locks of hair cascaded down the length of her back and she was completely exposed, her large supple breasts thrust out before her, the nipples aroused and erect.

She looked like a mortal woman of unearthly beauty, except she had owl's talons where her hands and feet should have been.

She regarded me with eyes of bronze and sensuously licked her vermillion lips and smiled seductively.

"Who are you?" I demanded.

Instead of answering, she inquired, "Do you curse God?"

I was taken aback.

"You served Him, His Church, and the Empire raised in His name, for the greater part of your life," she continued, circling me in a calculating, almost predatory manner. "And in return, they damn your love to perdition, and abandon you in your hour of direst need. And now here you are, bereft of that promised everlasting life in Paradise."

"Who are you?" I repeated.

"I have many names," answered the creature. "Queen of the Night, the Mother of all Demons, the Screech Owl, and countless others, each more ridiculous than the last. However I am most popularly known amongst you mortals as Lilith."

"What do you want with me?"

"Nothing," she said coyly arching an eyebrow. "Everything."

"Make your point or leave me in peace," I sighed.

"Oooh!" gasped the apparition. "I love a man with an ultimatum. Very well. I'm here to offer you a deal."

"Are you here for my soul?"

"I've little use for such abstract things," said the demoness lazily. "I'm interested in more concrete objects, such as eternal fealty and servitude." She sighed dramatically. "You see I've been at war with my sister Hecate for millennia. I don't remember what we were quarreling about - and I doubt she does either - but were both stubborn and won't stop until one of us wins. So We've both been building armies for this big battle were going to have. And armies need soldiers, and soldiers need generals. With your lifetime of bloodshed, I thought you fit the bill quite nicely."

"And what do you offer in return?"

She produced a golden goblet, cast into the image of a grotesque, grinning demon face, filled with liquid the color of lifeblood. "In life you sought the fabled elixir of immortality," she said as she thrust the goblet toward me. "Here I offer it to you. In exchange for your undying loyalty, you yourself shall be undying."

"I'm already dead," I countered. "I've been dead long before that day in Bucharest."

"Details," shrugged Lilith, stirring the red fluid with a talon. "Once this liquid touches your lips, you shall be able to return to earth, stronger than ever, with powers beyond imagining. And as for your heartache..." she smiled secretively before her glittering bronze eyes turned dark, and her crimson hair turned chestnut. She stood before me with the face of my Elisabetha. "I can relieve that as well." she finished, offering me the goblet once again.

I gazed into her dark eyes, stroked her dark hair. She looked like Elisabetha. Felt like Elisabetha. Smelled like Elisabetha. I took the goblet and looked at my image reflected in the lifeblood fluid.

I raised it to my lips.

It tasted of blood. The tart coppery taste filled my mouth and burned my throat but I continued drinking. I drank it all and cast the goblet aside. I felt fire coursing through my veins and crumpled to my hands and knees, unable to stand.

"Now," said Lilith, wearing my Elisabetha's face, placing a talon beneath my chin, prompting me to meet her gaze. "What say we consummate our new alliance?"

She kissed me then, hard and deep, her tongue dancing in my mouth. I was infected with desire. I pulled her on top of me and we wrestled one another until I had pulled her legs apart and mounted her. Entering her I stabbed her opening again and again with increasing speed.

"Yes," she moaned sensuously raking her talons across my back and chest, tearing my flesh and lapping up my blood with a serpentine tongue. "Yes!"

The tension was building painfully in my loins, but I wouldn't climax. I couldn't. It was as though something was stopping me.

Suddenly she reversed positions and she was straddling me. "It's been so long," she moaned. "I want to make it last."

She bounced atop my pelvis, gripping my shoulders, claws piercing my flesh. She ran her tongue over a pair of glistening fangs before bending down to bite my neck. As I bleed she lapped away at my fluid. She looked like my Elisabetha, but she was wild, almost feral. She was a true demoness.

I retaliated, turned her around so that she was on all fours and began to fuck her like an animal.

"Yes! That's what I want!" she screamed fitfully. "More! More!"

We fucked for what seemed an eternity, the pressure between my legs building to an impossible extent. There was nothing I could do to stop myself. I didn't want it to stop. It was at once agony and ecstacy. It was driving me to madness and I loved it.

"Give it to me!" Lilith demanded "Give it all to me!"

At last my new master saw fit to give me release. My seed poured into her, and I collapsed on top of her, gasping like a fish out of water.

"Well done," Lilith congratulated, licking her lips in carnal satisfaction. "Rest now, there's still time before sunset.

Darkness...

I opened my eyes and I was surrounded by darkness. Worse, I was in an enclosed space.

A coffin!

I howled in panic and struggled against my containment. I strained against the walls and they groaned and cracked and splintered against my strength. I sat up and took in my surroundings. I was in a crypt. The crypt of House Basarab. Perhaps, tiring of parading my severed head throughout his empire, Mehmed saw fit to give me a proper burial for fear of angering my spirit from beyond the grave.

Joke's on him, I smiled grimly, as I raised myself from my coffin.

I went to the entrance sealed with a stone slab after a few experimental nudges, I propelled it across the graveyard, crushing a number of headstones, and stepped outside.

The night sky was clear of clouds and the moon and stars shined with all their brilliance. In the distance a wolves howled, on the hunt.

I dashed off to join them. I thirsted. I needed to feed. To hunt. To kill.

I followed the children of the night. I ran with them and they with me, recognizing a peculiar kinship with me that neither of us quite understood but welcomed just the same. We dashed through the forest, too dark for mortal eyes, but for me it was a bright as day.

We at last came upon the stag. It smelled us and tried to escape, but it had been injured and it was too slow for the pack. With a scream it was brought down by fang and claw. Then we began to feed, the pack on its flesh, I on its blood. Then the pack howled its triumph at the night sky and I howled with them, an animal cry that would be heard all to the way in Transylvania, that people may know far and wide that Dracula had returned...

- - -

One morning at the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, a servant ran screaming for the guards that the Sultan had been murdered. The guards, servants and viziers dashed to the Sultan's bedchamber where they found Mehmed's body set upon a pike struck into the floor, jammed through his rectum and out his gaping mouth, blood trickling down his legs, from his eyes and down the iron shaft. Why noone heard his screams was never known, but the guards set at his doorway had been killed as well and drained of their blood.

A servant whispered "Kazilkli Bey," and muttered a prayer to Allah for protection and one of the viziers could swear he saw a dark man-shaped figure standing at the window, grinning at the assorted palace staff with burning predatory eyes and demonic fangs, before his form shimmered and vanished in the sunlight.

In this story I was trying to bridge the gap between history and Bram Stoker's novel. I tried my best to stay true to history but for the sake of my original goal artistic liberties were taken, particularly when it came to Vlad's religion (he actually converted to Catholicism during his Hungarian imprisonment, being an Orthodox Christian all his life) and his wife, whose name is lost to time's decay. That being said, please don't hate me history buffs! I tried! Really! By and large, I'm happy with the way it turned out even if it ran a bit long (14 pages!), but as always, I'm more interested in what you all think. Constructive criticisms, comments, and random thoughts are all welcome. R/R please! Happy Halloween! Shibui out!