Vacation hath its perils, not least of which is that I forget what day it is... Sorry.
So... Once again, my thoughts are running back to Prince Dracula, his life, and my alternate history version of it. Of course, that's helped by the fact that Naked Reader Press is releasing Impaler in first quarter 2011 (insert author squee here), and the novella prequel, Born in Blood, is available at Naked Reader, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
Me being me, I can't leave the myths as they stand, of course. While vampirism appears, it's in the form of what Dracula believes is a curse, and is something he - at best - endures. I can promise there are no sparkly vampires here. The very notion is offensive: a sparkly vampire had better be on fire, in my opinion (Dracula would probably prefer 'enjoying the view from the top of a stake', but then his views on that matter are rather pointed - or well rounded and thoroughly greased, and at least six foot above the ground. Anyway...)
Here's a short teaser for Born in Blood, introducing a very young Dracula, in a hostile and unforgiving world.
Born in Blood
I am dying.
The thought drifted across my mind, shocking in its clarity. Dying. The haze of pain and long imprisonment threatened to return, enticing me with forgetfulness, with near-oblivion until true oblivion could claim me.
I fought it with the stone-hard certainty of who and what I am. I am Vlad, the second son of Vlad Dracul, and I am a Knight of the Order of the Dragon. I would not go peacefully to my death. That I and my brother Radu had been held hostage for our father's actions for some three years – perhaps more, for the passage of time blurred with long imprisonment – that I had been but thirteen years of age when we were first imprisoned, these things mattered only to my resolve. Our Ottoman captors would come to regret their actions.
The Ottoman Turks were not gentle with their hostages. Perhaps those of a more compliant nature than I had more congenial cells, though I doubt comfort could assuage the shame of being forced to pay the Turkish homage to the Sultan's son Mehmed, much less our condition as de facto harem.
If the Sultan knew, he did not care.
I doubted I would care ere long, for all that I fought the inevitable. The nausea and weakness which had plagued me since last winter me had now grown so that I could no longer stand without aid. Mehmed, may he rot in his faith's hell, thought I feigned weakness to evade his attentions.
I could still muster enough strength for action if I was sufficiently enraged, hence my current discomfort. Yesterday I had snatched a dagger from a guard's belt and scratched Mehmed with it. Had I possessed more strength, I would have killed him.
The flogging I earned for my troubles still burned, and blood from the wounds trickled down my legs. The stone wall of my cell chilled my back, the shackles holding my wrists above my head biting into flesh, for I lacked the strength to take my weight upon my feet. My shoulders ached with strain.
The tremors wracking my body only added to my misery. I had long since ceased to try to hold up my head: it leaned against my right arm. I knew I must reek, but I had long since grown accustomed to the prison stench.
Death, even death by torture, could only be an improvement.