Indulging in my love for Rudolf Martin playing Dracula prompted me to dig out and revise a short I wrote a long time ago about the real Dracula.
The Young Dragon
The day had started badly enough and got progressively worse the moment I made it past the treeline to see the blockage in the road up ahead. I had to get this load of grain delivered and get back home to look after my mother and sister before nightfall. The last thing I needed was to be held up by an egotistical aristocrat and his band of brainless henchmen.
Seeing the problem, I tethered the horses, jumped down from my wagon and approached the group, my hands held at my sides to show I was no threat. Not that that would make much difference if they wanted to kill me for no other reason than because they could. “Forgive my interference, but I suggest a redistribution of weight. The wooden chest should be placed farther back, closer to the horse’s rump to counter the weight of the leather sacks on either side. The animal won’t continually balk if he doesn’t feel off balance.”
The fattest of the nobles looked down his big nose at me. The animal is stubborn and should be beaten like a peasant who doesn’t know his place.”
I’d had more than enough of their kind bleeding the country dry on the backs of it’s people and lining their pockets with our sweat and blood. “Perhaps the animal is not the only stubborn one.”
“You impudent piece of dung.”
The boyar pulled his sword. I refused to give him the satisfaction of so much as a single flinch.
I was surprised to see the noble quake in his boots and I turned to see who’d caused such fear in the big man’s eyes. It was another nobleman but hardly beyond my own seventeen years.
But when he dismounted and came toward me I understood why the fat noble had backed down as quickly as he had. This man radiated power and brute strength with each step he took.
The fat boyar bowed is head. “Forgive me, Voivode, but this peasant has the audacity to say my servants did not arrange the provisions properly on that useless animal.”
So the young one was a prince no doubt come to scavenge what was left of Wallachia after the murders of Vlad Dracul and his heir.
The prince stood within arm’s length, those green eyes of his boring into me. I refused to avert my gaze but granted him a quick bow of my head.
“Not a common peasant, but not of the highest class. Who are you and how do you know Miscu’s horse is not simply being difficult?”
“I am Theodore Petru. I know the horse is not being difficult because I’ve bred and used them to transport marketable goods my entire life. I own the land the other side of the forest that was granted to my grandfather by order of Mircea the Great for service at the battle of Rovine and in helping him reclaim his throne from Vlad the Usurper. And of course for his service in battling the Turks.” The last I said casting a glance to the two Turks in this prince’s traveling party.
The nobleman stepped away as if I was of no consequence and began speaking in low tones to one of his Turkish minions. I looked to the sky, gauging the sun’s position. I was hopelessly late and had no time for this needless delay.
Impatience overrode any common sense I might have had and unleashed my tongue. “Will you please take my advice and distribute the load of your goods or at least have the decency to make enough room for me to pass?”
Sharp intakes of breath and the quick attention of the young prince hammered home that I had signed my own death warrant.
The prince laughed and strode forward to clap me on the shoulder. “One would have to be a fool or very at peace with God to take such a tone with the son of Vlad Dracul. However, I will not make the mistake of taking you for a fool. I will overlook your tongue—this time—for I agree with you. You will take these supplies in your wagon and follow us to Târgoviște.”
“But Voivode, I must deliver— “ My words died beneath the weight of Vlad Dracula’s stare.
He gave me a cold, cruel smile. “I have need of your services, Petru. Now.”
He turned his back. “But nothing. Come.”