The Elite Seer Series: The Dragon's Son (Book 2)

 

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Chapter 1: Blood and Flowers

Sighişoara, Transylvania, 15th century.

Vlad III’s first cry rang at the Devil’s hour, 3 A.M., in December, 1431. The snow was constantly pouring outside of the one-story concrete house where he was born; while the German speaking Saxon merchants were having a meeting on how to make more money.

Vlad’s father Vlad II, Prince of Wallachia, requested the Saxons that he and his family may live within the city walls of Sighişoara, Transylvania, as he was chased away by Ottoman supporter boyars. In return, he gave a striking trading deal with the Saxons. The merchant Saxons, who lived in this great military fortress, naturally agreed.

Years passed and he gathered supporters in Transylvania to seize the throne of Wallachia. So in 1437, his father successfully killed the prince, Alexandru I, and he became the occupant of the throne. His family then came to live in Wallachia once again.

However, his father was under political pressure by the sultan of Turkey. Therefore, even though he was a vassal of the king of Hungary and a Knight of the Order of the Dragon, he promised to pay tribute to the sultan and gave up his two younger sons, Vlad III and Radu.

“I promise to be your vassal and as a pledge to this promise, I give up to you my two valuable sons,” Vlad II sighed as he looked at the sultan’s face.

The sultan nodded slowly. His eyes probed Vlad II’s.

“Then you can have the throne, Dragon.”

Vlad III was thirteen years old when he was given hostage to the sultan together with his younger brother Radu. The two young brothers looked at each other with fear when the Ottoman soldiers took them away from their castle.

Vlad III looked at his father’s stoic face. Deep inside, he wanted to shout at his father why he had done such a thing. Why he and his brother had to be taken away from their family and far away from their beloved home.

Then he saw his mother, Princess Cneajna of Moldavia, running and crying while she went out to the castle grounds to see her sons taken away. Their father caught her by the waist and embraced her and saw him broke into tears as well. Their older brother, Mircea, was looking at them with a helpless expression on his face.

He looked away from his parents and older brother and held his younger brother’s hand.

“I will take care of you, Radu. I promise.”

“Yes. I know that, brother.” His brother nodded and smiled bravely at him.

****

Turkey, 1444.

They were welcomed by the sultan in his big royal house. Soldiers and servants were everywhere. He then realized that he and his brother could not easily escape as necessary.

“From now on, consider this place your own home,” the old sultan smiled at them with his arms wide open.

Mehmed II, the son of the sultan, looked at the two young boys with probing eyes. He was a year younger than Vlad but three years older than Radu.

“Tomorrow, you shall begin your training,” the old sultan told them.

The two boys were silent. Vlad’s fists were tight at his sides. He looked at his brother. His face seemed to be excited at the thought of the training.

They were given separate rooms. Thus, Vlad could not speak to his brother freely. He could barely sleep that night remembering his parents’ teary face, especially his mother’s. She was his beloved teacher and tutor. She taught him the values of justice and love.

A year or so later, they got news that their mother died of an illness. Vlad’s heart seemed to be crumpled painfully in his chest. He looked at Radu whose eyes were downcast. He ran away from the training ground and went into his room and cried his heart out.

One day, he promised to himself, I shall take my revenge.

****

The years quickly passed by. The two young boys were now young adults. They constantly went on training with pro-Ottoman boyars, the high ranking soldiers and with Sultan Murad II himself.

The sultan even though abdicated his throne to his son Mehmed II in 1444 to 1446, he was forced to take the throne back because of the Janissary revolution.

He was so strict and ruthless. The young adults were taken to different garrisons at Ediner. Also, they were taught logic and the Quran. Then they were educated in Persian and Turkish languages as well. They learned horse riding, warfare and literature at the same time.

Whenever Vlad behaved stubbornly or rebelliously, he was beaten and put into prison. Radu, he realized was taken into Mehmed and did not even want to speak to him lately.

He was outraged when he learned that Radu wanted to convert himself to Islam. He was so furious that he even beat the boyar who taught him how to fight that day.

In 1447, while he was on his way to his prison room with two soldiers behind him, he saw his brother together with the sultan and a messenger.

“The Prince of Wallachia, Vlad II and his son Mircea had fallen, great sultan,” the messenger seemed to be happy delivering the news.

Vlad heard it and stopped. He looked at the old sultan and his brother with anguish. His curled fists were so tight at his sides and his eyes probed dangerously as he looked at the trio.

“What does this mean?” Radu asked the old sultan.

Then Mehmed walked into the room and looked at Vlad.

“Father, it is time to appoint the new ruler of Wallachia then,” he suggested to his father.

“Yes, I know that.” The sultan agreed.

Vlad walked closer to the group and he demanded.

“What happened to my father and my brother?”

The old sultan turned to look at him.

“Your father who wanted to play it neutral was killed by the noble boyars who are loyal to the king of Hungary. Now, if you want revenge, I can put you on the throne.”

Vlad swallowed and looked at his brother.

“But how about my younger brother?” He asked.

“Radu will stay here with us. I will send you to Wallachia with some soldiers. You shall rule from there in the name of Allah. But not right now. Hunyadi just appointed Vladislav II on the Wallachian throne. You must prepare to overthrow him. That is what you need to do at the moment.”

Vlad did not say anything. He prepared night and day. He trained himself hard into exhaustion. He was dreaming every night that he was going to Wallachia by early morning the next day. He felt a surge of excitement of the prospect of being free soon. He was going back home at last!

Vlad began to be fiercer while on training. The Turks noticed it. They praised him for his talent in the art of fighting at his young age. And Radu was envious.

****

One night in 1448, Vlad was summoned by the old sultan. He saw that his brother was sitting next to the old sultan’s throne.

“You shall prepare for Wallachia early tomorrow morning. I am officially freeing you with an army to take the throne from the Dăneşti clan.”

Vlad knew better than these words. Then he looked at his brother.

“Radu, will you come home with me?” He asked despite of the old sultan’s presence.

He was still trying to convince his brother to come home with him and forget about the Turks and their religion that brainwashed him.

“I shall remain here. Old Sultan Murad said so, brother.” He answered with his lips only a thin line.

“Radu shall remain here in case you will be overpowered in the battle, Vlad,” the old sultan told him straightforwardly.

Vlad swallowed while he sharply looked at his handsome brother and the old sultan. He already realized he was going to be a pawn in this battle game. And he knew then that the old sultan would try to make him a puppet ruler in Wallachia. This, he did not want to happen. He gritted his teeth with a rebellious heart.

Together with an army of Turks, Vlad invaded Wallachia and drove Vladislav II away. He was happy that he seized the throne at last, at the age of seventeen.

“Clean up the rooms and the entire place!” He ordered the servants of the castle.

They did as it was ordered by the new ruler of Wallachia. The soldiers cleaned the battlegrounds from dead soldiers and were all buried outside the city.

Vlad looked around the palace as he thought of his family. He promised to himself again that he shall avenge their death.

However, two months later, Vlad who was barely on the throne to make some changes of some Wallachian laws was invaded by Hunyadi. He was forced to flee to Moldavia, where his uncle, Bogdan II, lived.

“I shall protect you with my life, Vlad,” his uncle promised. “I knew how much your mother loved you when she was still alive. Even at her last breath, she wished to see you and your brother once more. However, her fate was too cruel!”

He was embraced by his uncle, his mother’s brother. Vlad silently shed a tear as he embraced his uncle back.

While he stayed in Moldavia, he trained himself more in the art of fighting together with his cousin Stephen, his uncle’s son.

By the next year, his uncle became Prince of Moldavia after he defeated Prince Alexăndrel. His power then grew and he could protect Vlad more securely. However, he was assassinated two years later by Petru Aron of the rival clan.

Vlad fled to Hungary at the breach of the Moldavian civil war. It was bloody and many lives were destroyed until his cousin Stephen gained the throne in 1457.

Meanwhile however, during the Moldavian civil war, he fled to Hungary to take his chances. Whether or not he would be killed by Hunyadi, he still led his horse towards the enemy’s territory.

Inside his grand castle, Hunyadi was seated on a well-carved chair and looked at Vlad who was standing in front of him. He did not even kneel down or bend his head as he spoke to him.

“I offer you my allegiance. I know how the Turks fight and I can offer you a huge quantity of information.”

“Very well, son of the Dragon. I shall make use of your knowledge about the enemy.”

Hunyadi was impressed with his knowledge and took him as an adviser and vassal. However, Vladislav II, whom he put on the Wallachian throne, switched side to the Ottoman Turks. Thus, Hunyadi regretted it and supported Vlad in his quest to regain the Wallachian throne.

Hunyadi was killed in 1456 when he and his army invaded Turkish Serbia; while Vlad and his army on the other hand, invaded Wallachia. He killed Vladislav II and gloriously regained his father’s throne in Wallachia.

Vlad’s heart was full of victory and happiness as he watched the staring but lifeless eyes of Vladislav II. His head was separated from his body by the Son of the Dragon’s sword. His vengeful eyes bored into his enemy’s.

****

Weekend. Present time at Belmont, Wisconsin.

Elise woke up with a heart beating so fast and sweat was on her forehead. She wiped away her sweat by the back of her hand. She had a bad dream. She was staring at the eyes of a dragon and she was immobile.

She got up and went into the bathroom. She switched on the light and stared at herself in the mirror. Her eyes grew wide unconsciously as she saw a dragon with red sclera and the pupils were cat-like and green. Then she saw something like a crest, with a dragon showing its side view, a castle on a mountain and a bloody battle.

She leaned her palms at either side of the mirror and forced herself to shut her eyes and the images run through her mind’s eye. She shook her head several times as if to shake off those images.

Then she breathed long and hard afterwards. She opened her eyes and looked at herself in the mirror. Must she tell her brother about her visions this time?

She swallowed hard and washed her face. She stood like that for a long time until she heard a knock on the door.

She left the bathroom with its light on and opened her bedroom door. She saw her brother’s silhouette standing there.

“I had a bad dream,” he said.

“What is it?”

“I saw a dragon.”

“What? How is that possible? I dreamt of it, too,” Elise was confused.

Eric just stared at his confused sister.

****

“We had the same dream?” Diana blurted out when they met at the famous local fast food in town, Menominee’s Hut, by mid-morning.

Good that Kent had already arrived last night from Massachusetts. His father wanted him to study in one of the prestigious universities in the said state – Harvard University. He agreed but with one condition: that he had to come home in Belmont every weekend and special occasions.

His father could not help it but had to agree with it. His father thought it was kind of a punishment that Kent did this to him after almost a lifetime of not giving him attention, and for keeping himself busy with their business in New York.

While Kent studied, Mazoi was left in his apartment in Massachusetts like a prisoner.

Kent toyed a slice of pizza with a fork on his plate while he looked at Diana who just spoke.

“You three had the same dream. I did not have that kind of dream,” he said coolly.

The three pairs of eyes looked at him.

“I did not sleep last night. I had to study for our exams next week,” he shrugged. “How about you, Mazoi?”

Mazoi shrugged.

“I did not sleep as well. I was watching you.”

“Then what do you think about our dream?” Eric asked his friend.

“I’m not sure. Maybe it is just a coincidence.”

“Yes, it could be but it could not be, too.” Elise insisted.

“If it is not coincidence, then we will see what it means later on,” Kent said resignedly and laid his fork on his plate before he sat back on his chair.

Diana was chewing on her lower lip as she looked at Eric thoughtfully.

“Alright, let’s just say that it is not coincidence. I suppose this has got to do with the next mission of Elise,” she finally said.

Eric swallowed and looked at his sister who was staring at Kent.

“What are your interests lately, Elise?” Kent asked her while they looked at each other.

“Nothing in particular,” she answered truthfully. “But I did have visions last night. I saw a dragon, a crest with a dragon and a battle.”

“A bat

tle?” Eric asked with curious eyes.

“Not again,” Diana shook her head. “I don’t want to face another shrieking priestess!”

“Well, that’s interesting,” Kent’s eyes twinkled with excitement.

Then Mazoi and the two guys smiled at each other and cracked their knuckles. The two ladies sighed.

They realized that after the battle in Ancient Egypt, the two guys were always pushing themselves on training martial arts and secretly honing their talents in magic.

Elise and Diana just looked at each other with bewildered eyes.

****

Elise went into the library by herself to look for the book, which she would need in her history class. She had to be quick so she could still attend her next class even though she would be late. She had no time to go to the library later when her classes end because of their daily rehearsals in cheerleading.

She did not notice that Kent was spying on her inside the library. He just followed her but hidden by a bookshelf next to the one she was checking at.

She found the Native American history book and she took it out. She looked up at the shelves if she could find some more interesting books when she found the book of ‘Zalmoxis’. She took it and she blinked when her heart was pounding so fast. She felt the book vibrated at her touch. She ran her tongue across her lips and looked for a table where she could sit down and scan it.

She scanned it while Kent followed her with a bouquet of flowers hidden behind his back. He smiled and stretched out his hand near Elise’s face.

Elise was startled when she saw the flowers and she looked at Kent’s smiling face.

Then Kent looked at her face then at the book she held in her hands.

“Elise, what’s that?”

“Kent… I think we have to brace ourselves this time!”

“Why?” He asked curiously and read the title of the book.

His face turned ashen white.

“I’m not sure but are we ready to face the real Dracula maybe?”

Kent knew well about the Wallachian prince in the 15th century, Vlad the Impaler.

****

Wallachia,15th century.

Vlad thought he was free especially when he finally heard the news about Hunyadi’s death. He heard that it was him who organized his father’s and brother’s death after all.

He went to Transylvania and stayed there for a while until the castle in Târgovişte and its tower were finished as he ordered it to be rebuilt.

While he was inspecting the city, he found a pair of beautiful brown eyes in the crowd that was staring at him. He got closer to her and jumped off from his white horse and smiled at the beautiful woman. Judging by her clothes, she was a noblewoman.

“Good day, m’lady.” He reminded himself propriety at the moment in front of a beautiful woman.

Her hair was strenuously gathered atop of her head. Her dress was made of silk of colors bright green and yellow. It looked elegant and flowing on her.

“Good day, sire,” she smiled at him prettily.

“May I have the honor to know your name?”

Vlad said not minding everyone who was staring at them. His soldiers shooed the staring people and the crowd realized it was the fierce prince of Wallachia. They started to quickly go back to their own business.

“Elisabeta.”

“Vlad is pleased to meet you, m’lady,” he slightly bowed and took hold of her hand and kissed it.

“You are the prince!” She suddenly recognized him.

He barely nodded with a smile and was hesitant before he let go of her hand.

“May I have the honor of inviting you to my house this evening?” Her voice was low.

“You have a party in your house?” He inquired.

Elisabeta leaned over and whispered.

“’Tis only us, my prince.”

The handsome but fierce prince could not decline it. He learned that she was orphaned like him and was living alone in her house with a few servants.

Almost every night, he brought her daisy flowers and dined with her in secret until he asked her hand for marriage. She did not resist as she was deeply in love with the prince. Her love was soon to be tested when they moved to live in Târgovişte.

 

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Chapter 2: Final Warning

Present time, Belmont High School Library.

Kent and Elise looked at each other. They realized this was the final warning of the visions that Elise saw. The book was the evidence and the key, the same case that happened when she had the book “The Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt” before they were sucked into 3100 B.C. of Ancient Egypt.

Kent’s color went back into normal when he realized that Elise was looking at him deep into his eyes. He fluttered his eyes and looked into the book instead.

“Why do you say it’s Dracula? ‘Zalmoxis’ is a Dacian god.”

“You know this book?”

“Yes. I read extraordinary books as my pastime, too. I am interested on other topics besides those given at school. So, why do you think it’s Dracula we’ll meet?”

“It is because I constantly hear his name in my head.”

Elise just looked at the book she was holding and spoke again.

“We’ll tell Diana and Eric about this then.”

Elise looked away when she said it. She realized that the flowers were held in her hands now, without realizing it earlier.

“W-what are you doing here? It’s not weekend yet.”

“Uh, well… I’m off…”

“Are you in a job and you’d say you’re off?” Elise raised an eyebrow at him.

“Oh, I asked permission from my professor pleading sick.” He smiled wickedly.

Elise was worried.

“Are you?”

Kent cleared his throat and did not look at her.

“Of course not! I just wanted to see you.”

Elise smiled as she looked up at him.

“Well, it’s Friday tomorrow anyway. It’s a pity if you go back there now and then come back tomorrow evening.”

Kent looked at her and followed her as she finished gathering her things. She borrowed the book from the librarian before they went out of the library.

They walked together at the hallway.

“Where’s your car?” Elise suddenly asked him.

“Why? Aren’t you going to your next class?”

“You know my class schedule?”

Kent smiled.

Elise shook her head and pushed her forefinger onto the side of his nose playfully.

Kent just laughed.

“We’ll go to the park?”

Elise nodded at him and they went straight to his sports car that was parked near the exit gate.

****

Wallachia, 15th century.

The castle that Vlad inherited from his father was so grand and the tower overlooked the whole city and beyond. Vlad had the great hall rebuilt into more than three thousand square feet to have a vast space. The castle had a watch tower that was around thirty feet in diameter and around sixty feet or more in height. 

The entire castle was encased by two sets of at least five feet thick walls as their defense against the enemies.

The cellar underneath the great hall was designed as that of the Byzantine structure. It was created for the secret archers and his secret torture chamber.

It was Easter and Vlad’s wedding day, just as his new bride retired to her chambers right after lunchtime, he was grateful he got the chance at last to talk with his invited guests – the five hundred boyars -  all of them.

“Gentlemen, I thank you for celebrating here with me in this important event of my life,” he said and raised his goblet of wine.

The boyars were smiling at him happily and nodded at him in unison. Then Vlad drank some wine from his goblet.

“Pray tell, m’lords, how many reigns did you witness during your lifetime?” Vlad asked them seriously. His eyes dangerously looked at his guests one by one.

The boyars looked at each other. One answered.

“We have seen many, m’lord. It is our fault that this happened.”

Vlad smiled like evil when he heard it.

“Hence, you admitted that it was your idea to withdraw a prince once you put him on the throne?”

The boyars were all silent.

“M’lord, ‘tis…” The one who spoke earlier did not finish what he was about to say.

“Seize them all!” He ordered his soldiers who were gathered to guard him and the banquet.

It was the cruelest wedding day and Easter his enemies had ever known. All five hundred boyars were seized by the soldiers. Some were skinned alive, some were emboweled and all of them were pierced with sharp stakes. The stakes stood with the boyars agonizing in pain for many hours and some for days before they died.

Vlad took his meal outside and ate while he watched them die. Some of his soldiers puked secretly when he was not looking at them. His wife secretly watched in disgust by her window but still, she dearly loved him.

The black crows feasted on the dead bodies of the boyars while their families were held captive by Vlad and let them marched onto the Carpathian Mountains. He hired the best masons and craftsmen to go along with some soldiers to guard the prisoners and rebuild Castle Poenari.

Vlad went up to the tower that overlooked his territory. He sighed and looked up at the cloudy skies.

“Mother, Father, Brother, I have now started my revenge. Watch me and I will not let those Turks step on my territory while I am alive,” he whispered heavenwards.

“I thought I would find you here,” Elisabeta smiled at her husband while she walked closer to him.

Vlad turned to his beautiful wife. She was wearing a white dress today. She looked more beautiful than ever.

Elisabeta embraced his waist and looked up at him.

“I wonder when this religious war would end, my prince. Would our son come to witness it?”

“Although it is not my wish, I am not certain whether he would be borne to live peacefully.” Vlad embraced his wife as well and looked at her brown eyes.

He bent and kissed her on the lips.

“By the way, a messenger came and I took his message for you,” Elisabeta smiled at him.

“A messenger?”

“Yes, he is from Turkey. He brought news about Radu. He said that Radu found himself a no ordinary Shia.”

Vlad had heard about them. He had known that most of them performed rituals and these rituals were about black magic. Although some rituals were meant for healing, evil Shias, such as sorcerers, wizards or warlocks, performed rituals of black magic to destroy their enemies.

Vlad blinked as he looked at his wife and broke away from her embrace to turn his back from her.

“What is going on, my prince?”

“I wish I can have someone to fight off his warlock Shia.”

Vlad looked up at the darker clouds that gathered above. His wife just looked at him in confusion.

****

Meanwhile, Radu, who was in Turkey, was speaking with a warlock Shia in his private quarters.

He saved him from Mehmed’s soldiers who were about to execute him for spying in 1450. One look at the old man and Radu could tell he was not a kind of person who could do a spying job. He then ordered the soldiers to release the old man.

He brought him into his private quarters then and investigated the old man himself.

“Tell me where you are from, old man,” Radu asked him at the time.

“I am from the Galatian region, m’lord.”

“Your religion?”

“Shia Islam.” He answered quietly.

Radu heard about it and its rituals. A thought dawned on him and he smiled slowly.

“Do you happen to come here with an intention?”

The old man could not speak.

“Why, old man? I can let those soldiers execute you if I say so.”

The old man was hesitant. He did not want to die without taking his revenge to the old sultan Murad.

“Tell me. It would be our little secret. And in return, you can stay by my side protected from those who want to harm you.” Radu’s face was close to the old man’s.

“My daughter was once a servant here. She was… murdered…”

“Ah, and you are looking for the murderer?” Radu straightened out and looked down at the old man who was sitting on a chair.

“Yes, m’lord.”

“Well, I will not be on your way if you wish to find the murderer. As I have said, I will protect you so long that you would stay by my side. And in return, you would do me some favor.”

The old man swallowed and lowered his gaze.

Now, Radu was pacing here and there while the warlock Shia was looking at him with candid eyes. He was still thinking what he would ask from the warlock since that day he had his first conversation with him.

“M’lord, what is it you want from me?”

Radu stopped from pacing and he stood in front of the warlock Shia who was standing before him with his head slightly bent.

“Create a Jinn for me that I can command whenever and whatsoever I wish to.” Radu said excitedly.

The warlock old man was taken aback. He looked at the young man with hesitation.

“Did you hear what I said, old man?”

“Yes, m’lord.”

“Then, do it for me!”

The warlock old man nodded slowly.

“May I know to whom you are going to use the Jinn, m’lord?” The warlock old man bravely asked but quietly.

Radu bored his eyes on the warlock old man’s face.

“Against my enemies, old man. That includes my older brother, the current Prince of Wallachia!”

The warlock old man seemed to see fire in Radu’s eyes as he mentioned his older brother. The warlock old man did not know the story between the two brothers but as their agreement, he had to help this young man in exchange of saving his life from the soldiers of the current sultan, Mehmed II.

It was because of this young man that he was able to avenge his precious daughter. The old Sultan Murad II fell ill for a year from winter of 1450 to 1451 because of his Sihr. The old sultan felt tiredness at first after an unsuccessful effort against Albanian resistance headed by Skanderbeg. Then he complained about stiffness and muscle aches, headache, dry cough, sore throat, congested nose and later on, high fever that did not get to lower down. He died not knowing his illness and what or who had caused it.

****

The messenger Vlad asked just left him. He was excited to learn more about Radu earlier and that was sudden, especially when he heard that the messenger had just arrived from Turkey. However, when he heard the news, he felt rage.

He learned that Radu had apparently already turned against him since years ago especially when he left Turkey, for his brother had converted himself to Islam around the same year.

He did not know this information until now. And the most disturbing was that his brother’s warlock Shia was still with him. He was sure now that Radu was up to something that he would never appreciate.

Vlad threw away his goblet against the wall, near the fireplace. Some of the wine spilled on the wall and on the floor. His loyal male servant, Marius, just stood by a corner and watched him did it.

Another thing was that, Mehmed II of Ottoman dynasty was a promising enemy. It would not take long for him to make a bold step on taking a hold of Wallachia again under Ottoman Empire’s power. He had to take care that the sultan could not step on Wallachian land and take away his throne.

However, he had to take care first of the Transylvanian Saxon merchants who wanted to overthrow him. He had to have the utmost power over his entire territory. He had to wipe off the dirt from his own land before taking care of his neighbor’s.

“M’lord,” a messenger arrived and bowed to him in respect.

He turned to the new arrival.

“What is it?”

“An adulterous woman was found cheating her husband. The people are outside the city trying to give her a fair trial.”

Vlad’s eyes narrowed.

“Prepare my horse and I shall go there to be the judge.”

“Yes, m’lord,” the messenger answered and he turned to leave.

He prepared the prince’s white horse and he saw him coming out of the castle in a hurry.

Vlad and some soldiers went outside the city. There, a crowd gathered. The crowd was silent when the prince arrived.

He got off from his horse and faced the crowd. The woman was at the center together with her husband who was crying.

“Now, who saw this woman committing the sin?” He asked the crowd with a fierce face.

“I – I did, m’lord,” an old woman from the crowd barely raised her hand. She swallowed and looked at the couple.

Vlad looked at the old woman and then turned to look at the young wife, who was still standing at the center of the crowd with her head bent.

Vlad also watched the expression of the young husband’s face. He was clearly crying.

“Well, then. Woman, as you were seen by this old lady while you were committing adultery, you shall be skinned alive and put onto a stake. That is your punishment.”

Vlad said calmly. The woman kneeled before him and wailed.

“M’lord, please forgive me this once! I did not mean to commit this sin against my husband…”

The husband also kneeled before Vlad and pleaded.

“M’lord, it was my fault that she did not love me enough…”

Vlad cut in.

“No, she must pay for what she has done to you.” He said. Then he turned to the crowd in a strong voice. “Any wife should not commit adultery. Anyone found guilty of this crime and sin shall be severely punished! What you shall witness today is a sign of execution of this law!”

The soldiers seized the young woman. They stripped her naked and skinned the writhing and screaming lady as ordered by the prince. Everyone watched in horror. The husband could barely watch as it was done to his pitiable wife. His tears constantly fell down to his pale cheeks. Then they watched her hanged on a stake with her bloody face and body. She screamed until she died hours later.

The crowd was horrified at the scene they just witnessed. Most of them were afraid and some were crying, mostly women.

Vlad mounted on his horse when he saw the young wife dead on the stake.

“No one should take her out of that stake. Anyone caught doing it, shall be punished as well. Let it be known all over Wallachia that this is set as an example to whoever commits a sin against her husband. The same goes to the husband that commits sins against his wife.”

He left the crowd and led his horse into the city. His soldiers followed him.

Upon strolling in the city on horseback, he met a child running towards him. He caught the child by his coat and he jumped off from his horse.

“What are you doing, child?” He asked him with an authority in his voice.

The child just looked at him and tried to get away from him. He looked behind him and saw that the man who was after him stood by and watched them.

“Give me back the medicine you stole from my store!” The man angrily marched closer to the child and the prince who held him.

The child looked up at the prince with pleading eyes. Vlad looked at the merchant and back to the child.

“Why did you steal it from him?”

“M’lord, my mother is ill and we have no money to buy her medicine,” the child admitted with downcast eyes.

Vlad took out some money from his pocket and gave it to the merchant. The merchant seemed happy about it and bowed to the prince, whom he did not recognize.

“Thank you, m’lord. But I have to get back the medicine.” At the look of Vlad’s eyes, the merchant realized he made a terrible mistake.

Vlad’s eyes darkened and ordered his soldiers to seize the merchant. He also instructed one of the soldiers to take the child home and give the medicine to the mother but the child must be taken back to be punished for stealing.

As for the merchant, he ordered that he should be broken by a wheel. He was taken into his secret torture chamber and punished the merchant. His arms and legs were tied apart from each other and a wheel connected to the ropes was turned around. The merchant screamed as his body was pulled and torn apart.

The young child was punished as well by piercing his body on a stake and was displayed at the city.

The people were horrified at this unpleasant and savage kind of punishment as ordered by the prince. Everyone seemed to check everything they do so as not to offend the prince or other people and lead to unsightly result of such punishment.

****

Turkey, Devil’s hour.

While the royal house servants were sleeping deep into the night, the warlock old man, Mahmoud, found a quiet place that he used once when he performed a ritual of his Sihr against the old sultan Murad II to avenge his daughter. The place was just meters away from the servants’ quarters of the royal house.

He spread his prayer mat on the ground. He was reciting an incantation similar to a prayer while he poured a glass of water onto the soil in front of him. He farmed on the negative energies of the sultan and Radu and called out some spirits as he went on with this ritual.

Then he spread some black pepper on it while he continued to recite the same incantation. He spat on the wet ground when he finished. He closed his eyes and joined his hands together before he bowed three times with his palms down at either side of his head.

He joined his hands together again and he stood up. He looked down on the soil that formed into a human. The form stood up in front of him. Its dark eyes were looking at him with anger.

“You may follow Radu’s wishes from now on,” the warlock old man instructed the Jinn.

The Jinn bowed slightly to the warlock old man before it vanished into thin air.

Then Mahmoud looked up at the sky. He wondered if he had done the right thing as ordered by Radu, who saved him from the soldiers of Mehmed years ago.

He thought of his precious daughter. He remembered how sad she was when she left home to become a servant at the royal house years ago. She was forcibly taken by one of the sultan’s wives as a servant. He thought that it would have been better for his daughter so that she could live in the royal house and would not starve.

He mistook it as a good fortune when in fact, it was not. He was informed one day by one of the royal house servants, who was dearly close to his daughter, that she was secretly raped and murdered by the old Sultan Murad II. From then on, he wanted to take his revenge. And he was successful through Radu’s indirect help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapter 3: The Second Journey Begins

            The Jinn traveled like a wind. He entered inside Radu’s bed chambers through an open window. The curtains moved like they were blown by a strong wind.

Then he found the sleeping young man. He looked at him curiously. His dark eyes were sizing up the sleeping figure.

Then Radu stirred.

And the Jinn vanished into thin air again.

****

The next morning, Radu got up from his bed. A servant came inside and gave him a bowl of water for him to wash his face. And another servant followed with a glass of water for him to drink with a tray of food as well.

The servants went out when he started to eat. When he was about to eat another mouthful of bread, he dropped it on his plate when the Jinn appeared before him suddenly.

“W-who are you?” Radu managed to ask.

The Jinn smiled wickedly and looked down on his plate.

“You summoned me.”

“W-what? I did not! I do not even know you!”

Radu backed off, his eyes were looking for a dagger or a sword, which were both near the headboard of his bed.

“You wish for your sword?” The Jinn asked and the sword appeared in Radu’s hand.

Radu stared at his hand in disbelief. He swallowed and looked at the Jinn who sat down on his chair and started to eat.

 “A-are you…?”

“The old man created me as you ordered him to. He particularly told me that I should follow your wishes. Now, I am wondering what your wishes are besides the dagger or the sword,” the Jinn’s head tilted at one side as he spoke.

Radu slowly faced the Jinn while taking a close grip of the sword.

“Are you for real?” He asked the big naked brown man.

But the person in front of him had no female or male sex at all. Radu did not entirely trust this person.

“What do you wish me to do?”

The Jinn’s eyes went red as he looked at Radu.

Radu could not believe what he saw. The Jinn’s image changed into a reddish brown cat.

The cat smiled at him wickedly. Then the Jinn’s old image returned. He ate some more bread.

“Alright,” Radu calmed himself.

He thought that this Jinn would do as he wanted, judging by what he said to him earlier.

“Go on. You wish to eat some more?”

The Jinn nodded. Radu sighed and he took one of his clothes and shoved it to the Jinn.

The Jinn was confused and hesitantly took it.

“You should wear it. I do not want the others to wonder what and who you are. I do not want you to speak to anyone.”

The Jinn looked at him and nodded.

“I will just let the sultan know that you are my chamberlain. Is that understood?”

The Jinn nodded again without a word.

Radu took another chair and sat down across the Jinn. He laid down his sword on the table just in case.

“I am wondering how the warlock old man created you,” Radu talked to himself.

The Jinn looked at him in the eyes.

“Is that important?”

Radu was thoughtful before he spoke.

“I just want to know what your weaknesses are.”

The Jinn smiled wickedly.

“I am powerful, if you wish to know that. I can do anything you want me to do.”

“Hmm… we will see. You are eating my food. Can you make me some food then?”

The Jinn put on the clothes and vanished into thin air and was back in a few moments. Radu wondered where he had gone to.

When he appeared, he had some food with him in his hands.

Radu frowned. The Jinn did not make any food by something kind of his powers. He stole it from the kitchen of the royal house.

“I thought you can do anything.” He grumbled and took the food from the Jinn.

The Jinn smiled wickedly.

“The result is the same.”

Radu’s lips became a thin line as he watched the Jinn scornfully.

“Did the old man give you a name?”

The Jinn looked at the window. He shook his head.

“Then what shall I call you?”

The Jinn looked at him with red eyes.

“Jinn.”

“Yes, I know you are a Jinn. But what is your name?”

“Jinn.”

Radu sighed resignedly.

“Alright. I will just call you Jinn.”

The Jinn smiled at him wickedly. His eyes were back to black.

****

Vlad toured around his city with a handful of soldiers with him. Some people when recognized him by sight would turn away and would avoid to be in his way because fear. Others would bow down to him in respect or admiration.

Then he noticed some beggars on the streets. They mostly pester some people so that they would give a penny or anything like food.

By the next day, he invited all beggars his soldiers could find. He had made a banquet for all of them. The beggars were delighted that the prince actually cared for them. No other princes had done this for them.

After everyone ate with full stomach, Vlad made a toast for them.

“Everyone, wouldn’t you like to have any cares in the world and thus, lack nothing?”

The beggars looked at him with veneration.

“Yes, m’lord,” they chorused.

“I promise you all that your problems would end this day. Now, please. I will show you my secret room in the castle.”

The soldiers showed the beggars the way to the cellar. In a big room where all beggars were let in, the soldiers locked them inside and set the room on fire.

The beggars were all screaming until all of them were burnt to death.

Vlad sighed and said to his soldiers and loyal servant.

“I merely did this so that there are no poor men in the midst of my realm.”

He walked away when the fire naturally died down. The room was still intact because of its thick walls. The soldiers left the cellar as well and followed their prince.

Vlad met Elisabeta on the stairway. She wanted to go down but he held her by the waist.

“I forbid you to enter the cellar, m’lady. ‘Tis for your own sake, believe me.”

Elisabeta stared at her beloved prince.

“But I heard some screaming.”

“All is piped down now, m’lady. It is nothing for you to worry about.”

Elisabeta cast her eyes down and nodded.

“Marius, you take care of it by the morrow,” Vlad instructed his loyal servant.

“Yes, m’lord.” Marius slightly bowed.

He motioned to the soldiers that they leave the couple. The soldiers slightly bowed to the prince and left without a word.

“Now, m’lady, where do you wish to spend our time together?”

Elisabeta smiled at her beloved husband.

“I wish to go to the tower.”

“Very well. To the tower is where we go then.”

They walked hand in hand towards the tower with a smile on their face. Elisabeta’s eyes reflected love for her husband, so did Vlad’s.

Vlad commanded all soldiers to come down the tower and he and his wife mounted the stairs up. The sun had already set as they watched it. They almost did not see it and the beauty it radiated to the entire land of Wallachia.

Târgovişte as his capital city, Vlad knew, was the center of any attacks. He knew that politically, it was a target of the Transylvanian Saxons. He knew that his life was in danger. So was his wife’s. He breathed in deep as he watched the surroundings gone dark.

He embraced his wife with caring arms.

“Our castle on Carpathian Mountains would soon be finished, I hear. We will leave this castle and live there instead. It is far away from the city. I think you would feel safe there.”

Elisabeta smiled at him in the dark.

“Yes, my prince. But anywhere is safe for me so long that you are by my side.”

“I love you, my dear beautiful wife.” Vlad whispered.

“I love you, too, my beloved prince.”

The couple embraced closer and kissed. Their hearts beat as one and exuded with love for each other.

****

Present time, around mid-morning in Belmont, Wisconsin.

The five of them got together at Kent’s house. His mother was surprised but was happy to welcome them.

Kent and Mazoi were at the library waiting for their three friends to come as agreed.

Diana, Eric and Elise went inside. It was Elise’s first time to come inside Kent’s house. She was impressed with all the exotic decorations and designs. She was also impressed at the large collection of books inside the library as if she stepped into Belmont library itself.

“Mazoi, how are you?” Diana asked the Egyptian big guy, who was sucked into their place and time.

“I am fine. We just met each other yesterday, remember?”

Diana made a face at Mazoi.

“Where’s the book, Elise?” Eric asked his sister.

She pulled it out of her school bag. He showed it to the rest and she felt it vibrated in her hand. She almost dropped it.

“Why did you bring it here?” Diana asked the Helmrick siblings.

“Well, Eric thought that anytime soon, we will be sucked into the past again.”

“It doesn’t make sense. You did not even try to bring the book before, when we went to Belmont Mound,” Diana said.

“Well, I happened to bring it there… mysteriously,” Elise said.

Until now, she did not recall of bringing the book with them when they went on camping last year.

Time flew by so fast. It was already summer again. Around the same time that Elise began to extremely experience to see things in her mind’s eye and had their first journey.

“So what are we going to do now?” Eric asked the other four.

They sat on the floor in a circle and the book was placed in the center.

“Well, let’s see if anything would happen as before,” Diana said to Eric logically.

Kent’s mother entered the room with a tray of food and laid it on the table.

“You just eat it when you want it. I’ll just go to the green house to check my plants,” Mrs. Thompson said.

“Thank you, Mrs. Thompson,” Diana, Eric and Elise chorused.

The older woman waved her hand and went out of the library.

The five of them stared again at the book. But five minutes passed and still nothing happened.

“Uh, well. Let’s just eat something.”

Kent suggested and was about to stand up when the book began to tremble all by itself and the five of them looked at it in perplex.

Colors of luminous gold, red, green, silver and pink burst out of the book and spread across the room. Then they felt something cold and before they knew it, they were all sucked inside the book.

They fell in a heap like before. Only that, Mazoi was included.

The hard floor made their body ached for a little while before they could move to stand up.

“I wish I could just stand up next time and not fall hard face down on the floor,” Eric complained and groaned.

“Right. Do something next time, Elise,” Diana said to her.

Elise frowned at the two complainants.

They looked around and guessed it was a bed chamber of someone in the past. The windows design looked very old, unlike modern times.

“Could this be Count Dracula’s room?” Diana whispered.

Eric shivered uncontrollably.

Kent suddenly held Elise’s hand without looking at her.

“We’ll check outside.”

But before any of them could make a step towards the door, a big brown man with black eyes entered the room and looked at them with surprise. But then the expression quickly changed when another man entered the room.

The handsome man was surprised to see five strange looking people inside his bed chambers in the middle of the day.

“Who are you?”

He drew his sword right away but Elise was quick to seize it by her telekinetic powers.

He was speaking in Turkish.

The two men who entered the room were surprised. The second one touched the shoulder of the other as if to warn him.

“Who are you?” Eric was the one who questioned now.

He was unconscious that he was also speaking Turkish.

The sword was in Elise’s hand but was not pointed to anyone but to the floor.

“I am Radu. This is… Jinn.”

The foreigners looked at each other.

“He looks… anciently handsome,” Diana whispered to Elise with a giggle. She was referring to Radu.

Elise just smiled at her while Eric cast a warning look at her friend and she behaved.

“Radu is from what I know, the brother of Vlad the Impaler,” Kent whispered in English.

“Yeah, I remember,” Eric whispered.

“So, where’s your brother now?” Eric threw his question directly at Radu in Turkish.

“D-do you know about my brother?” Radu thought about his brother Vlad.

“Where is he?” Eric pressed on.

“He… he is in Wallachia.” Radu said truthfully.

Eric nodded and turned to his friend and whispered.

“I don’t remember their history well, pal. Maybe you do.”

“Well, I need to know something more so that I can figure it out,” Kent whispered back.

“Okay.” Eric nodded and looked at Radu again. “Tell us what date is today.”

“Date?” Radu echoed with confusion.

“The month and year?” Eric shrugged.

“Your calendar?” Diana asked in a small voice.

The two men who just entered the room looked at the beautiful olive skinned young woman.

Radu hesitated.

“Second day of 1462?”

Kent took the hint.

“He said it’s the second day of the year 1462. It is the same year as his brother is going to be imprisoned in Hungary for twelve years before he can get back to Wallachia and be killed later on.”

Elise went still when she looked at the black eyes of the man, who stood at Radu’s side. Her green eyes widened when she could not hear his thoughts. She only read his soul, which was full of negativities such as anger, hatred, jealousy and evil intentions.

“Guys, Radu is standing with an evil spirit,” Elise blurted out with anxiety.

The four were mystified when they heard her.

“He’s not only named Jinn but he is truly a Jinn!” Elise turned to look at the others.

That was what the spirit was called, she heard Zadi’s voice inside her mind and repeated the pygmy’s words with her own voice so that the others would know.

“This is bad!” Mazoi spoke in Ancient Egyptian. “Let us get out of here!”

Radu’s eyes grew wide with surprise. How did the young pale woman know about the Jinn?

“Seize them, Jinn!” Radu ordered the evil spirit.

The Jinn was a shape shifter. It turned into a large, gruesome looking blanket and held the five foreigners captive in an instant.

“What is this commotion all about?”

Radu was surprised to see Sultan Mehmed II entered his bed chambers. He slightly bowed to the sultan.

“I think we have some spies, great sultan,” Radu said.

The sultan’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the blanket with some persons beneath it that he could not take a glimpse.

“You did this by yourself?”

The sultan looked at Radu with doubtful eyes.

Radu bowed slightly to the sultan but he did not answer his question.

“I want to see these spies in the great hall, Radu,” the sultan ordered. “I wish to interrogate them myself.”

Radu could not do anything but to obey as he was ordered.

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Chapter 4: The Handsome Man and the Fierce Looking Sultan

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Chapter 5: Agenda, Banquet and the Powerful Jinn

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Chapter 6: Entering Dracula’s Realm

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Chapter 7: The Golden Cup

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Chapter 8: The Rain Ritual and the Folklore of the Undead

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Chapter 9: Nails and the Troublesome Soul

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Chapter 10: Zburătorul and the Dance of Death

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Chapter 11: The Protector’s Job

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Chapter 12: Spirit Guides

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Chapter 13: The Promised Throne of Wallachia

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Chapter 14: The Caped Man at Danube River and the Forest of the Impaled

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Chapter 15: Tricky Escape, Cruel Fates

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Chapter 16: Back to Another Past: Caught In-Between

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Chapter 17: Zalmoxis and the Chosen Mountains

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Chapter 18: Celestial Fighters and the Sphinx

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Chapter 19: Cruel Eye

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Chapter 20: Freedom?

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~

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