CastleVania: The Unfinished Symphony Chapter 5
A Reign of Terror
By The Dark Requiem
The year: 1461
The place: Poenari Fortress
Vlad III Tepes Dracula leans back on his gilded throne, pondering the events of the last few years.
His Forest of the Impaled had grown much since the completion of the castle. Where the old nobility once hung, there were now Hungarians, Moldavian, Wallachians, impaled on two rows of fence.
The neighboring area below the mountain upon which the fortress stood, there was a lush forest filled with greenery of all sorts, but made filthy by the innumerable victims on each tree branch.
Most victims he forgot about almost as soon as they were disposed of, but others he remembers clearly, victims of his greatest "fun".
One remembrance is of a pathetic wretch of a woman.
He closes his eyes and flashes back to that day.
* * *
Dracula, while on a stroll through one of the less fashionable portions of his realm, passed a poor peasant on the road, wearing too short a shirt and homespun trousers not even covering the calf of his leg.
Without hesitation, the peasant was brought to Dracula's castle. He was brought into a colosseum arena, filled with the wandering ghosts of those killed for the pleasure of the voivode.
"Are you married?" he asked the peasant from his throne in the stands.
"Yes, Your Highness," came the reply.
He pointed at the peasant's clothing and spoke again. "Your wife is assuredly of the kind who remains idle. She is not worthy of living in my realm. May she perish!"
The peasant pleaded in frantic tone. "Beg forgiveness, my lord, but I am satisfied with her. She never leaves home and she is honest."
Dracula smiled and stroked his moustache. "You will be more satisfied with another since you are a decent and hard-working man."
He then gave the order for the wretched wife of the peasant to be brought to him here, where she was to meet the fate of her companions in the Forest.
Meanwhile, the peasant was given another wife by Dracula, who had shown her the fate of the first wife and explained how she became the recipient of that reward.
To that end, this new wife worked herself to starvation and exhaustion trying to please her husband
and trying not to incur the wrath of Dracula.
* * *
Dracula opens his eyes and chuckles. That had been fun, indeed.
She could have met a worse fate, he muses to himself. I could have let her live.
This was true.
She could have been an adulteress and had her sexual organs cut. She could have been skinned alive and exposed in a public square, her skin displayed beside her on a table. She could have had a nipple sliced off, or any one of a thousand different tortures his mind could conjure.
On the whole, the decree of death had been merciful.
He now pauses and remembers another fun event, this one involving a delegation of Italians from Caffa.
* * *
Dracula bowed his head slightly to the Italians facing him as they sat at his table, just outside his throne room. It was, after all, quite the climb through the castle to reach his keep and he felt that some respect should be shown for that. The least he could was bow his head.
In return, the Italians did the same, removing their hats as they did so.
The prince noticed that, under his hat, each Italian wore a skullcap which, it was clear, he had no intention of removing.
At once, Dracula demanded an explanation of this lack of respect. After all, he had shown them respect; it was only proper that they show him respect.
"This is our custom," said one, the leader among them, with a bit of a tremble in his voice. He was obviously afraid of this man, as were they all. "We are not obliged to take our skullcaps off under any circumstances. Even in an audience with the sultan or Holy Roman Emperor."
Dracula smiled and stroked his moustache. "Then, in all fairness," he said calmly, "I want to strengthen and recognize your customs."
The Italians breathed a sigh of relief, so much so that they did not notice Dracula calling an attendant to him and whispering something in his ear. The guard nodded and left the room.
The leader rose to his feet and bowed to him. "Sire," he exclaimed, "we shall always serve you with your interests if you show us such goodness! And, in return, we shall praise your greatness everywhere!"
Dracula made a motion for the Italian to take his seat. In that instant, the attendant returned with many others, each carrying a hammer and big iron nails and taking a place behind each Italian.
"Believe me," said the prince, with a wicked and evil grin on his face, "THIS is the manner in which I shall strengthen your customs!"
And he motioned for the attendants to begin.
* * *
Dracula opened his eyes and burst out laughing, his long black hair shaking as he did so. That was always one of his favorite moments.
He wonders how long the Italians lived after the attendants finished nailing the skullcaps to their heads and forced them out of the castle.
Still, it could have been worse.
He could have had them broken under the wheels of his carriage. He could have had them roasted with red-hot coals under them.
Yes, they escaped virtually unscathed when compared to other victims.
But there was one victim he would always remember.
Her demise had been the most creative and disgusting that he had ever devised.
He had taken that filthy adulteress
and had a red-hot iron stake shoved into her genitals
through her body
penetrating her entrails
until it emerged from her mouth.
The woman was then tied to a pole, naked, in a public square
and left there
until her flesh had fallen from her body
and her bones popped from their sockets.
As he thought on this, it suddenly occurred to him to glance out his window, down at the river
or, more specifically, the fountain he placed by the river.
There is a golden cup there by the fountain, put there by Dracula, with no guards or traps.
It was just put there, out in the open.
And here comes a traveling peasant to the fountain. Obviously poor.
Oh, the wonders that a golden cup would do for him!
But he passes the cup and drinks from the fountain with his hands. Then he leaves the fountain quickly, not giving the golden cup another look.
Dracula smiles and returns to his throne.
They knew that Dracula had put the cup there.
And they knew that whoever took it would, in all likelihood, face impalement.
Dracula turns suddenly to his door, opening very slowly. In the doorway is a young woman, in a beautiful gown, waiting for him.
A smile crossed the prince's face, but not out of hatred or malice or wicked thought.
This was a smile of pure love.
He rose from his throne and walked to the woman. Then, wrapping her in an embrace, kissed her deeply.
Yes, he loved this woman.
The love he felt for her made him want to share that love with all in his realm.
And yet he felt compelled to exercise hatred upon them.
And yet he loved to do that.
And he didn't know why.
It was like a voice inside his head that told him to do it.
* * *
Somewhere, in a far away realm of which we currently know nothing, Death laughed to himself.
Poor Prince Vlad, he thought to himself.
Compelled to kill and exercise cruelty in so many ways by a small voice in his head.
Oh, if he only knew where that voice comes from!
But he will not know not yet.
No, he will continue to exercise that cruelty and love every moment of it.
Until I come knocking on his door
as his wife just did.
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