• Pain. Pain dared try to overwhelm him, to force him into ultimate submission to the Ottoman captors, but Vladislav Drăculea resisted. He had already witnessed his younger brother, Radu, fall into betrayal, and he would not disgrace his family’s honor any further by allowing himself to turn against his homeland.

    His body was littered with bruises, scars, and fresh cuts even as he rejected the poison they attempted to teach him. No, Vladislav resisted, and through everyday he learned to hate the Turks, every day he learned to hate his brother even more.

    December, 1447
    “Vlad, brother,” Radu called to him, “we have received dreadful news—”

    “Stay away, traitor,” Vlad interrupted, “the only thing I will speak to you about is when and how I will kill you.”

    Vlad’s younger brother smirked, “Let us hope you will get the chance to try,” he said, the voice saturated with sarcasm. “Yet at the moment, there is a matter that is more important than what your lost, hateful heart desires. News has come from the west of our father and brother.” He gave Vlad an instant to speak, and he took it.

    “What, did your new-found friends have him killed for the hopes of putting you on the throne as their puppet?”

    “Ah, my brother, as ever you jump to conclusions and are always part wrong. No, it is not quite that: rebellious boyars that hope to think they may take the throne have, under orders of Hungary’s King Hunyadi, assassinated our father and buried our brother alive. My ‘new-found friends,’ as you call them, have decided to put you on your father’s throne, since you are the eldest heir. They are attempting to—”

    “Use me as the puppet, but they should doubt whether I would dance for them, brother,” Vlad said, and suddenly jumped to his feet and grabbed the traitor’s shirt. “Let it be known to them that I will not turn just for giving me the throne,” he growled through bared teethe, his fiery eyes piercing Radu’s. “Let it be known to them that I will not forget, and they are always my enemy.”

    Throwing him back towards the door, Vlad chuckled to himself, and as Radu fled down the hall, he heard the sound of maddened laughter.


    A week later, Vlad sat on the throne of Wallachia, admiring the elegant carvings that had been so painstakingly introduced to the wood. If this were any other time, he might have marveled at the grand hall he had so few time visited as his father rarely let him enter while in court of a noble or foreign king, but the thought of how and why he was there, and the fact that he was being used.

    There were Turkish spies, he knew, within the guard, so in secret, he began to forge a plan to drive out the Turks, but by the time he had finished and found who he could trust, he was already too late, as he found Hungary invading his land.

    He fled the castle, and roamed until finally, in 1456, he took a gamble. He strode up to the Hungarian capital, and made a treaty with the King, who allowed Vlad to take a contingent of men to take back his homeland.


    Vlad had succeeded; not only did he have back his homeland, but all of the Ottomans were driven out. Now, he had to destroy all those who posed a threat. “Grantir,” he called to one of the servants, “come please.” The man quickly obeyed, unquestioning.

    “Yes, milord, what do you need of me?”

    “Compose a guest list of the twenty most powerful boyars and their families; I wish to know them better. Have them here for Easter celebration.”


    When the time came, Vlad set at the end of a table that stretched across the grand hall. In the center of the table was a row of the finest food that could be bought. He had given toast, and now he watched as every man, woman, and child ungratefully shoved the food into their faces. Without knowing what he would do, Vlad stood, the echoes of the chair scraping across the floor causing all except the youngest of the children to stop eating. Then, with all authority and arrogance his position granted, the king began to walk around the table.

    “I would like to know something about you all,” he began, the direction now becoming clear to him. “You are obvious of the richest and most politically influential families in this country, save me, of course. Therefore, you are among the most powerful. As you know, a few years back, some of the boyars killed their king and his son, my father and brother, under the direction of a Hungarian. Of course, it was not one of you, for foreigners would have no influence over you with bribes of money and power, for you already have that, so it was not you. In any matter, you would not be able to perform such a lowly act of betrayal—no, it takes someone far weaker than you obviously are to do that. But…let me ask, how many Kings have you been under?” he pointed at the youngest of the boyars, not more than ten years older than Vlad himself.

    “Uh...seven, my lord.”

    Vlad tipped his head in acknowledgement. “And you?” he pointed at the eldest.

    “Ah, my lord, it seems forever since the first king I’ve lived under, but I believe that there have been at least sixteen after my twentieth year.”

    “Sixteen,” Vlad repeated quietly, saying nothing more until he was behind the man, where he stopped. “Did you, sir, ever think that you yourself could be king one day?”

    “I have often dreamed of it, my lord, but realistically, now I am an old man and not fit for such stressful work.”

    “Have you ever thought of taking it—the throne?”

    “My lord, that is, uh, that is an unspeakable accusation, I must say!”

    “Is it, really?” Vlad said, slowly raising his voice. “Is it really unspeakable to accuse someone of wanting more power? No!” Now he was yelling. “I know that many of you were the ones that killed my father and brother. Your smiles you show at me are false, and beneath that face, you wish nothing more than to see me dead!” Without warning, he drew his sword and drove it through the back of the chair until he could clearly see the crimson-stained blade over the bouncing shoulder, then withdrew. “You all are traitors; those of you who were not involved at least could have told me, but no! You decide to hide it from me so one day I might die and you can get the throne. Traitors, have no purpose to me! Men!” The doors burst open to reveal several soldiers. “Bind them all; those too old to work: execute them immediately; all others: send to rebuild the fortress at the Agreş!”

    Now, with all threats virtually gone, he could begin his campaign.

    Vlad now held order, complete and total order. His campaign against the Turks was faring better than he could have hoped, as they were almost completely driven out of the country. All those who have harbored an enemy in their home have found their entire village burnt, and their family executed. To emphasize his victory of each battle, he often would impale one of the enemy, drain the blood, and drink it for the enjoyment of the enemy spies watching from some distant hill with a spyglass. His name to the Turks became Vlad Ţepeş, Vlad the Impaler.

    The constant war led to, inevitably, rampant crime, but he had methods of dealing with that, none that fared too well for the criminal, but at least there was order.

    And, now he had a wife. Isabel was beautiful, young, and most importantly, loyal. Vlad returned to the castle at the Agreş after what he thought was the end of the war, for at least a while. He was wrong.

    It was night, and he and Isabel were in their room, speaking over lump that for several months now had grown over her stomach, when suddenly an arrow shot through the window, piercing the wall. He jumped up. There was a note, as he immediately noticed, attached to the stalk. It read simply:

    “THEY COME.”

    It was a warning. Outside the window, he saw a soft glow reflecting off the clouded sky. Not thinking, he raced to the door that led to what served as a sanctuary, as it looked over the mountains, and if one were to look straight down, a view of the river would greet their eyes.

    But in the horizon and the closer plains were the torches of an army. For several moments, he stared. How can this be? I thought I had rid this land of those pests!

    Then, from the corner of his vision, he glimpsed movement. Turning, he found the beauty lingering on the edge of the balcony.

    “Isabel?” he whispered, his voice suddenly hoarse. “Isabel, what are you doing?”

    She turned, her iridescent white nightgown shifting as a light breeze fluttered by. Her eyes slowly rolled around until they came to a stop on him. They were filled with fear, but also with decision. “I would rather have my body rot and be eaten by the fish of the Agreş than be led into captivity by the Turks.”

    Vlad leapt forward desperately in an attempt to save her from her own insanity, to let her have a chance to see clearly, but his hand grasp empty air as she silently fell until she was but a splash that quickly died away.

    He screamed, and for an instant, the advancing army paused.

    By the time his brother Radu and a handful of soldiers under him reached Vlad, the king was unable to fight back.


    For four years, he was held in captivity, but it was another eight after he heard the news of his brother’s death, that he tried to take back the throne. With a force of Transylvanians, a very few discontented boyars, and a small force of Moldavians, he marched to the throne room. The guards, seeing that it was the rightful king, did not oppose.

    Again, the throne was his.

    One day, though, he received a letter from the regional ambassador of the pope to meet at an old church…alone.

    Wary of a trap, he arrived at midnight, the appointed time. What he found shocked him. “Radu? Aren’t you—”

    “Dead? No, I only wished to be free. My death was feigned, but no one could have possibly identified a charred body anyway.” Suddenly the door closed, and Vlad turned. “While I was ‘dead,’ I became friends with the Hungarians.” Indeed, it was the leader of the Hungarian army, closest friend of the King.

    “What is this? Why did you ask to meet me here?” he addressed the ambassador.

    “During your reign, even as you proclaimed to be a member of the Church, you slaughtered countless thousands; that cannot happen again. Under the authority granted by the pope, whose authority is given by the Holy God, I excommunicate you from the Church, as you have been deemed unworthy of the Holy Kingdom of Heaven, Vlad Drăculea III.”

    “Goodbye,” Radu whispered, and suddenly Vlad found a sword protruding from his chest, and when his brother slipped it out, silently, he fell.

    “Bury him in front of the entrance,” the ambassador commanded, and grudgingly the other two obeyed. Two hours later, as they were putting back the last of the dirt, the ambassador turned. The job was done.
    Then, he heard a thud behind him. Spinning, he saw Radu and the General were dead, laying with their necks at awkward angles. “Wha—?”


    He spun.

    It was Vlad.


    “Dead?” Vlad finished, then disappeared, only to reappear on the balcony above. “Yes, I am, but since you excommunicated me, I don’t have much choice of where I go, now do I?” Again he disappeared, reappearing behind the ambassador. “So I’ll just stay here for a while.”

    With that, he drew his sword, impaling the other’s heart.