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Vlad 'Dracula' Tepes Edit

Though much information about Vlad Dracula and his enemies is available, several things have been written into history by those who sought to destroy his name. While books offer one story, the telltale truth remains obscure to most.

Posterity would come to know him as Vlad Tepes - Vlad the Impaler. His Romanian name, Dracula - son of the dragon - points to his father's moniker, Dracul, which his father earned when he joined the Order of the Dragon. When Vlad was only five years old, his father inducted him to the same order, of which he remained a member until the day he died.

Vlad's childhood was coloured by political ploys and paternal abandonment, being given away as a hostage to the Ottoman rulers in Adrianople. The boy would not submit to his captors and was often whipped and beaten in attempts to douse his verbal abuse and stubbornness.

While in captivity, the young Vlad befriended a Transylvanian princess in the Sultan's palace. They were about the same age, and had shared background, language and interests. Both were captives of the Ottomans and both their futures were unscrupulously planned: Mara was to serve the Sultan as a pleasure girl of noble lineage, while Vlad was being groomed for diplomatic use in the Sultan's favour. Their situations seemed equally impossible.

But for matters of the foolish heart, no set of circumstances is too grim. Despite their abhorrent lot, Mara and Vlad fell in love.

Young and naive, the teenagers snuck away from watchful eyes as often as they could. Shy kisses shared behind silk drapery, clumsy fumbling and whispered confessions in the dark - the beginnings of a love that would last centuries.

When his father died, Vlad was installed on the throne in Wallachia as a tool for the Sultan to spread his power into Europe. Vlad had other plans, though, nourished by his hatred of the Ottomans after years of abuse. Risking both his life and hers, Vlad stole Mara away with him.

The enraged Sultan chased after the boy with all his might. By his side were yet darker forces with their own nefarious agendas. Vlad, ousted from the throne of Wallachia, managed to escape with Mara to Transylvania. With the help of new friends - the mysterious Octavian and a tribe of Romany - Vlad and his bride lived in exile in both Transylvania and Moldavia. Like a wolf, he licked his wounds and steeled himself for a return.

While in Moldavia, Vlad was approached by the Eight and made one of their champions. He was educated about Gaia, about the constant fight between the powers of good and evil, about the delicate balance and - especially - about the importance of Transylvania, specifically Bacas County. By 1456 Vlad was ready to return and evict those who had rendered his home a place of destitution, corruption and crime. With Octavian's help, Vlad reclaimed his throne.

His reign restored the powers of good, and, through Vlad, the Eight took the upper hand in the region. Towards peasants, merchants and honest folk, Vlad III Dracula was a benevolent ruler. He eased their lives and strengthened the economy of the country, by backing local trade rather than foreign. His good name and the people's support spread far and wide, even into Mara's native Transylvania. However, towards those who had left Wallachia in such a wretched state, Vlad was merciless.

His uncompromising will darkened his reputation in the minds of some, who called him out for the bloody persecution of those who would not swear fealty to the Light. His enemies would later exaggerate his actions to smear his name, describing him as a gruesome tyrant who murdered innocents.

While grossly blown out of proportion, the somber tales were not entirely without truth. Vlad Dracula was a puritan, a radical extremist in service of Gaia. He stopped at nothing to protect his lands and the secret buried beneath them.

And all the while there was Lilith, forever on the sideline of history, watching with disgust as Vlad repelled anyone and anything she sent to undermine his rule. Whether he knew it or not, Vlad stood between her and the secret buried deep in the soil of Bacas County. Her involvement would have to be more direct if she was to turn the tide. Slowly, a plan formed in her mind. She would travel to Transylvania and attack his greatest weakness: his adoring wife.

While Vlad was in the thick of bloody battle, Lilith approached Mara in the castle. She tricked her way into the girl's life, seduced her, appealed to her fears, her distrust, her jealousy - the dark sides of love - and finally convinced the young and beautiful princess that her husband had chosen other women over her. Most dreadfully of all, she won the girl's precious and fragile trust. Lilith then cursed Mara to the eternal existence of the damned, the vampires, and turned her forever to her side - forever in opposition to Vlad.

When Vlad returned home and saw the demon his wife had become, he was shattered. The love of his life, his beautiful bride, turned into a monster - an embodiment of the very evil he was destined to oppose.

Mara coaxed him to join her, offering herself to him the way she had done countless times before. It was still her, but not her at all. She had become a dark and tantalizing woman, a vicious lure in place of a simple girl. With teary eyes and boiling blood, Vlad refused her. He lifted his sword, but made the mistake of staring into her eyes, of finding a trace of her mortal beauty and innocence. For the first time, his great will faltered. He stormed out of the castle and disappeared from the region, heartbroken, defeated.

Without Vlad in the way, Mara seized power, and the region fell into chaos. Regular people were cruelly slain or driven away. The oldest village in Bacas County, once built by the Templars and later the main seat of Vlad's reign in exile, was overrun by Mara's horde of vampire consorts. Transylvania belonged once more to the forces of darkness.

For years Vlad was kept safe by the Eight while he nursed his bleeding heart. Eventually he married another woman and had children, but his love for Mara never waned. There were plans and preparations for his return to Transylvania and Wallachia, but too much had died within him. The ruler of iron will had become that most miserable of things - a listless man of longing. 

Eventually, Cucuvea and Octavian came to him in his exile in Hungary and urged him to finish what he started, to secure Bacas County under the protection of good once more. With the support of his friends, he found strength and rose again.

In 1476 Vlad returned to Wallachia, claimed his throne and immediately travelled to Transylvania, steadfast in his belief that he would slay the vampire queen Mara and rid the land of her evil.

The troops, with Vlad in front, paved the way with slaughtered scores of vampires as they rushed through his wife's motherland, purging evil wherever they found it. Finally, Vlad stood in the castle once more, ready to cast aside his pining by fulfilling his duty.

He entered her chambers a lion, as resolute as ever. Mara fell instantly on her knees before him. She spoke soft, dejected words and begged his forgiveness. She acknowledged the atrocious things she had done. Her eyes seemed genuinely to regret them. "Please," she muttered, beseeching his help to turn away from a depravity which, she said, was nothing but the dark side of her love for him.

She was more beautiful than ever, more than he'd ever dreamed, as she cried in front of him. All the love he once felt - had never stopped feeling - came rushing to the surface again. And again, the great Dragon crumbled.

Unable to accept Mara's demonic side, unable to kill her, and disgusted by his own weakness and failure of nerve, Vlad III Dracula - the champion of good - fell on his sword and took his wretched life.

Though Mara was eventually driven out of the country by the Eight and the Romany, Bacas County was thrown into bitter unrest. With no firm hand to calm the constant strife between the human and the supernatural, the land remains as torn and tormented as the heart of its greatest leader.

Cursed with a love undying, Vlad III Dracula's unquiet spirit now lingers in his chapel, where his body has been preserved by those who refuse to give up on a prophecy that says he will one day return to dissolve the legacy of Mara's reign.

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