There were more strangers in the tiny village of Vaseria just lately than Dracula was comfortable with. He had sent Marishka out after Aleera, who had been gone for some time. Aleera always did like to play with her food. Dracula smiled to himself, and turned to Verona, his pupils dilating with the pleasure of seeing her.
Verona was his first wife as a vampire, but had not been taken until many years of solitary exploration. His home country had harboured legends and dark rumours of creatures of the night who lived on blood and could never die, but he had always considered them superstition and myth. Quite a shock it was, then, to learn what he had become.
For years his lands had been beseiged by the Turkish hordes, and his family had been the last line of eastern defence against the asian threat. They toiled for Rome, paid their dues to the Emperor, accepted the Papal orders, and yet always, always were treated like the black sheep of the family, the red-headed stepchild. Dracula's father had tried to tread a fine line between loyalty to the West, and survival for his own people. It had brought him death at the hands of a suborned son. Dracula's youngest brother Radu, had murdered his father and the oldest Dracul son Mircea. Vlad Dracula had escaped this fate by being in the wrong place at the right time only. The final blow to the Draculesti's loyalties came when the Westerners endorsed Radu's reign, and cast the loyal, tireless young Vlad aside. Vlad remedied this quickly with fratricide and regained his position. The Church realised quickly that Vlad was the people's choice, and thus began an uneasy detente between Vlad Dracula and the Vatican.
Death came for Vlad in a form he never imagined. A brother in arms, sent to the eastern edges of the European warzones, deep into Transylvania, to Tirgoviste, to take messages of support and valuable supplies to the frontlines. Gabriel Van Helsing came out of Holland, a man of science, of practicalities, extremely useful to Dracula, and endorsed by the Church for his unshakeable beliefs in the crusading cause. The men had become close by immersion in the terrible situation, constantly fearing overwhelming Turkish forces knocking at the door. And the line held until one deep, dark winter.
//OOC. OK guys, I have a lot of backstory like this that I'd love to throw in here. If anyone has any objections, please let me know. I'll edit this comment out and continue if nobody minds.//
Trying to weave the spiritual into a story like this is always tricky, but fun. I spent a lot of time over the background to that fanfic and it never got written lol...
I like the imagery of him being 'afflicted' on the way back to Rome, it has an interesting parallel with Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus, but in a backwards sort of way.
This will be neat. Dracula would know pretty much right away that he was undead, but Gabriel might not realise for years and years. What a strange life he has, and how weird for him to slowly realise that something was different about him - never aging though people around him come and go with each generation. The Church obviously didn't tell him - although they probably only suspected, could not know for sure. Cool :)