He must explain his dire circumstances to his last disciple, the one sired from his demon blood.
His life’s blood is draining from his body. He must find his pupil. He has to be somewhere in the castle. He climbs over the bodies of his fallen comrades, their chopped-off heads lying beside them. Room after room is filled with their blood and heads, so many heads.
These vampires have been good. They have been trying to bring peace to their volatile community. But the witches think they know better. Kill all vampires except for the select few is their edict; the vampires who survive will become slaves to these witches.
He must find him before he runs out of time. He yells, “Where is he?” The few left alive only shrug their shoulders at him. He climbs the stone steps to the tower. His pupil loves to paint pictures of the castle, its landscape, and its people. He’s too soft and artistic for the job that lies before him. He will have to harden himself and behave like a vampire. His people need him now.
He reaches the top room of the tower and swings open the stone door. Inside, he spots his pupil painting. He moves closer. He is painting a picture of the damn sky. There is fighting and death all around him, but he just sits there and paints. “What is wrong with you?” He rushes into the room.
The disciple looks up from the easel. Paint is smeared across his face and on his fingers. “Nothing,” he says looking back down at his painting.
“You’re painting while our men are dying.” He stares down at the stranger sitting before him.
“I can’t do anything about it.” He continues to paint, slow meticulous strokes.
“Of course you can. You can fight like a man.”
“You never trained me for battle. I’m not prepared.”
“There’s no time to prepare you. You must replace me as the leader.”
“I can’t.” His bottom lip trembles.
“I’m dying. You have to take my place or all will die today.”
“You will live forever. You can’t die.”
“I’ve been cursed by the damned witches and I have but a few hours left on this earth.” He sits down as weakness begins to overwhelm him. He can’t continue on for much longer.
“Find someone to reverse the spell.” The disciple stands up to pace around the room, running his fingers through his thick, black hair to push it back from his high forehead.
“Please sit. I must tell you the vampire legend and how you will continue in my place.”
The disciple is about to open his mouth to protest, but Dracula raises his hand to stop him. “The legend began with me. One night, I was bitten by a large creature. It was dark and I couldn’t see what it was. I was fine for a while until I began to crave blood. At first, I drank animal blood to assuage the need in me. I ate anything I could get my hands on: dogs, cats, and even wildlife. I was stronger and quicker than any other animal. I was the king of the jungle, but I was alone.
“As a young man I fell in love with a woman. A beautiful woman with long, black hair and violet colored eyes. Her name was Sari. She wanted to marry me. I tried to explain to her my unique condition. She was horrified by me and ran away. I caught her, drained her blood, and then brought her back to life with my own blood. She became one like me. She despised me and ran away again. I let her go. I never saw her again.
“Afterward, I was determined to feed only on animals and not on humans. I’ve had good times and bad times. I’ve turned people into vampires, who’ve turned vampires of their own. At one point, we had a large army of vicious creatures, who slaughtered humans for fun. I knew it couldn’t go on like that forever. We would be forced into extinction once mankind found out about us. After years of wars between vampires, we at last found ourselves in a better place; at peace with humans and between the different factions of vampires.
“Our secret is now safe and hidden from humans. Vampires only hunt when needed. Most are satisfied with animal blood. We need the extra protein in blood to sustain us. This attack by the witch Neva has ruined everything. I and most of my followers will be killed by her spell. By morning this will be a deserted castle with only the dead as its occupants. She doesn’t know about you, so you should be safe for now. You must carry on my mission.”
“What is your mission?”
“We must keep our secret safe. Vampires must be careful never to allow the humans to become suspicious of us. Only kill when necessary and only kill animals for their blood.
“And even more important, you must keep your identity a secret from the others. No one can know that you are my replacement. You are to keep an eye on the vampire population and make sure that none of them stray from the rules. And you are never to assume control unless you are asked to.”
“What happens now?”
“The Watchers, a select group of vampires, will watch over the activities of all vampires and they will train you. They are a secret society only known to me. They will keep you and your secret safe.”
Blood began to drip out of Dracula’s mouth. He stood up and walked across the room to his pupil. The disciple stood to grasp hold of his beloved mentor and teacher.
Before his last breath, Dracula kissed him on the forehead and said, “Take care, my son. I will be watching over you. You will not be alone. Keep safe. And keep secret. Goodbye my beloved Hayden…”
Hayden is left holding his dead master in his arms while the battle rages around him. He allows himself a few tears to fall from his eyes in honor of his lost leader.
Please follow this link back to the Goodreads’ Story Hop: