In the last section we saw the creation of the first vampire, Quetzalcoatl, who left Oaxaca, Mexico before 400 BCE, and made his way to Europe, lingering especially in the Russian Steppes and the Carpathian mountain region. He spread the Weprabies virus (which causes both vampirism and werewolfism) over a large region (including China and Mongolia), but the virus had lost much of its virulency and engendered only wretched, degenerate vampires, who could not shift shape and who had short miserable lives, passing on an ever more debilitated strain of the disease.

Dracula – Vlad Tepes, the Impaler (1431 AD – 1476 AD)

The Wepvirus can be passed along the distaff line (a boy child can receive the virus, but not pass it on), and so persisted for centuries from mother to daughter. But eventually the virus weakened to the point that the European vampire all but died out. By the late 1400's, there were doubtless fewer than six hundred vampires on the entire Eurasian continent, including Russia – and all of them pitiful. All except one – one great vampire whose mastery was reminiscent of the glory of Egypt and the dark might of Anubis, one both master werewolf and vampire – Prince of Wallachia, Lord Dracula, the Dark One.

Florescu and McNally have made available a scholarly body of work – Dracula A Biography of Vlad the Impaler Hawthorne Books, Inc. New York. My edition is copyrighted 1973. What follows below is history found in this book, interwoven with information received from Sandman.

Dracula was born around 1430 in Sighisoara, Transylvania, a Romanian state, the son of Vlad II, called Dracul. The title 'Dracul', meaning dragon, was bestowed as a war honor upon the father by Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg.

Dracula's Birth House, Sighisoara, Transylvania
Place of Vlad Dracula's birth

As it happens 'drac' means 'devil' in Romanian, and 'ul' means 'the', so that by coincidence 'Dracul' also means 'the devil' as well as 'dragon'. When Vlad Dracul's child, Vlad III, was born, he inherited the title 'Dracula' which should mean something like "war dragon's son," but which has the coincidental meaning of "the devil's son" or 'the son of Satan.' Another cosmic happenstance odious to Occam, if properly viewed. It is more efficient to surmise that Dracula was marked by this name, claimed at birth by a dark force that lives in him still.

Whether that's so or not, Dracula quickly grew into his name. He had a powerful intellect and learned – in addition to his native Romanian – Italian, French, German, Slavonic, Turkish and Latin. He also learned political science – primarily the tenet that nothing commands obedience better than fear, which suited his natural sadism perfectly. While still youthful he came to his father's throne, the Princedom of Wallachia – a rulership he was to lose and regain twice more.

Castle Bran Castle Bran courtyard
Castle Bran Castle Bran courtyard

Castle Bran is called Dracula's castle. It was never owned or occupied by him. It may have been his grandfather's.

With one exception, the twists and turns of his political and military career don't matter to the issue of vampirism. It's enough to know he perfected the concept of rule by terror, and this became the dominant theme of his personality. While he defended himself, and only incidentally his subjects, from the Turk, he also slew tens of thousands of his own people. The total number may have been fully one-tenth the population of his country. Many of these murders he performed personally, with unsurpassed inventive cruelty. His tortures often seemed to have a sexual component, and he lavished special attention on women's sexual organs.

Dracula Woodcut
Image of a woodcut of Vlad's era
What history does not record is that Dracula came by his bloodlust congenitally. At some time vampirism entered his maternal bloodline, passed down from mother to daughter and finally to him. The virus was so weakened, the vampirism so degenerate, that no physical change could occur, nor did sunlight hurt him. Perhaps Dracula could endure greater hardships and recover faster from battle wounds than his fellows. Probably he possessed abnormal strength for his size. Clearly he inherited the vampire's thirst (he was known to drink his victim's blood while enjoying their impalement) and the rabies' berserker frenzy. And he had the means to indulge them, being prince and warlord.

Chindia Tower was a watch tower built by Dracula in Tirgoviste
Chindia Tower was a watch tower built by Dracula in Tirgoviste

The one political event of importance to this story is his imprisonment from 1462 to 1476 by the Hungarian King Matthias before Dracula's brief third reign. The containment was not a strict one, being little more than a house arrest. Indeed, he later married into the king's family, and Matthias's support helped him regain the Wallachian throne.

Vladislav Dracula Prince of Wallachia
Vladislav Dracula - Prince of Wallachia

History relates little of Dracula's life during imprisonment beyond the fact that he caught mice and kept his impaling skills sharp by practicing on those diminutive victims. But it was during that time that Dracula, taking advantage of the king's library, came across original Roman documents that changed his life forever.

These were the memoirs of a Republican scholar, living in Egypt long before Ptolemy. He'd collected and systematized tales of the Egyptian gods, telling of their inhuman might and power to heal themselves from grievous wounds, their ability to change into animals and their near-immortality. He disclosed their origin and the wolflike aspect of the first god, Anubis – for the legend of Anubis had overshadowed and consumed the role of Wepwawet. And the Latin records revealed the fall of the gods and Anubis's search for the Original Source.

Somehow Dracula knew he was reading, not a collection of myths, but the living, tangible truth – a truth that whispered to the core of his black soul. He had suckled on tales of vampirism and werewolves. He realized that the Egyptian godhead belonged to the same category of phenomena as those unnatural states, and that in his own country, at his very back door, prowled the Original Source that Anubis had sought in vain – the Transylvanian rabid wolf.

Dracula devised a campaign. First he burnt the scrolls so no one besides himself could ever find that path to power. Then he schooled himself to be the ideal servant of the Hungarian king, with no goal in mind but to return to his homeland. He converted from Romanian Orthodoxy to Catholicism and married a relative of the royal family. By 1475 he effected his return to Transylvania. He spent such time as he must undertaking Matthias's objective of reconquering Wallachia, but he didn't indulge in his usual blood sports. He concentrated all his free time on trapping rabid wolves.

He knew the Carpathian mountains, their petty vampires, their wolves and werewolves. Unlike the peasants he didn't tremble at encountering them but eagerly sought them out. In 1476, soon after his return to the throne, he managed to capture a rabid wolf, teeming with the same mutant virus that had infected Wepwawet. It is not known how many rabid wolves he had to snare before he isolated the right strain. Perhaps he experimentally infected serfs until he found the genuine item. Or maybe, being raised with werewolf lore, he could distinguish the right rabid wolf from a wolf with common rabies.

He laid plans in detail. He knew with normal rabies there might be a period of weeks or months until the coma, and maybe he knew that with the mutant strain the coma comes on in a matter of days, lasts a week or so and is followed by months more after that until the change. Certainly he intended to set himself up as lord of the world he knew – Romania, Hungary, Turkey – once he'd gained control of his superhuman strength, once he'd become a god. But he needed time, a breathing space safe from the savagery of the Turks and the demands of King Matthias.

Ruins of Dracula's castle at Poenari in Wallachia
Ruins of Dracula's castle at Poenari in Wallachia

He staged a ruse shortly after being crowned Prince of Wallachia for the third time. During a pitched battle with Turks and his own rebelling nobles, he cut off the head of a soldier he had chosen for his similarity to Dracula's own appearance. He dressed the body in princely garments and threw it into the marshes to be found by his people so they would think him dead. His head was sent to Constantinople to fool the Turks. By the time it arrived, wearing his royal headdress, it couldn't possibly have been distinguished from Dracula's own head.

Dracula Woodcut
The monastery of Snagov Island where Dracula retreated to undergo his transformation to 'wer'
He slipped into the anonymity of a carefully selected retreat, where he infected himself with the rabies-tainted blood of a wolf – a wolf harboring the most virulent, potent strain. It was then that his careful plan to buy himself time paid off. He did become a werewolf, as he had foreseen. This in itself is remarkable. It's no small feat to manage the change without decades of study, learning to lovingly guide the body.

That Dracula survived at all hints at the fantastic strength of his ego. By brute willpower he forced his body to endure. Yet it is said he received help and guidance from that dark force that entered him at birth and suggestively arranged for him to be named Son of the Devil.

But what Dracula had not foreseen was that the virulent rabies would vitalize the weakened vampire strain long dormant in his system. Or maybe he didn't even know that secret part of himself. When he awakened from the coma, he carried the genes of, not only the wolf – but also the bat and those of Quetzalcoatl's phototoxicity disease, which he had actually long carried, but which had lain dormant until activated by his self-infection of the virulent strain of mutant rabies from the wolf.

He immediately discovered he could no longer abide the sun. It burnt him with such torment as he'd never known, eating deep into his skin. That alone would have maimed his immediate schemes for empire.

But worse were the changes. Strong-willed or not, he found himself victimized by unpredictable shifts from man to wolf to bat. Each transformation lasted weeks or months. Bat form reduced him to helplessness, barely able to hold onto life even lying perfectly motionless, his bones breaking and organs hemorrhaging. He must have endured agonies waiting to meld to another form – in which his body could slowly reknit the injuries he suffered as a bat, only to be flung back into vampire again shortly afterwards.

Dracula Woodcut
Dracula's tomb, found empty of human bones, just some animal bones - Snagov Island
He had, of course, pilfered the Wallachian treasury and surrounded himself with trusted servants, but those years can't have been easy. He lacked the decades of preparation that assisted the Egyptians' transition to wer. He hadn't the training and guidance that allowed Quetzalcoatl to refine the bat shape into a useable form. He had only his dark, indomitable will.

It took him decades just to recognize the imminence of a bat shift, to allow him to cloister in a dungeon on a heavy bed of straw. After half a century he learned, by trial and error, by instinct, or by the blind gropings of the body, to strengthen the bat bone enough not to snap under his own weight. We can guess this date from the fact that some time in the early fifteen hundreds, the European vampire legend for the first time begins to include a man changing into a bat.

Historians, no doubt, attribute this to Spanish and Portuguese sailors bringing back tales of the vampire bat they'd seen in the New World. But the new legends center around Romania, not the Iberian Peninsula. They come, not from sailors, but from the first sightings of Dracula in bat form. Still, it took another one hundred and fifty years for him to strengthen the bones and bring that shape to the point where he could freely stalk about without injury.

Up until almost 1700 he was no more than a village nightmare, a local menace to flock and shepherd. But he slowly discovered he could project his black will, raping the minds of man and beast, forcing them to obedience. He began to expand his sphere of activity.

By 1750 he could metamorphose at will into any of his shapes, and shortly thereafter he could fly in the bat frame. He had modified his muscle fibers and configuration until he was stronger than ten men. His body leached off lactic acid as fast as it was produced, endowing him with tirelessness in flight or on foot. He could summon wolves and rats and constrain them to his bidding. In short, he'd become formidable.

He had extended his predations into Hungary, for the late 1700's were the heyday of vampire reports. Inadvertently or intentionally he spread the infection, so that about 1800 he felt the need to correct the situation – he initiated an activity which became thematic for him. He began securing his position as sole possessor of superhuman powers. He used his hold over wolves to sift through them, calling to him any with wer-virus, which he slew or imprisoned. Then he hunted down and destroyed or dominated every person with any trace of vampirism or werewolfism. Probably he accomplished the wolf pogrom, entirely destroying the reservoir of wer-virus, except what he preserved in labs or kennels.

Dracula Woodcut
Bela Lugosi hypnotizing Bud Abbott
Dracula could, indeed, to some extent, control a human's mind, but wolves were much easier for him.

As he matured, his preternatural powers grew. When he became sensitive to those psychic abilities in other people, he added them to his hit list – to be his servants or his victims.

It took him until the late 1800's to secure his home front, to satisfy himself that no one else could dip into the well of wer-magic. Then he spared attention for the world at large. What he saw beyond backwater Romania disquieted him. The industrial revolution had begun. Guns were rampant. Dracula realized that mere humanity, commonplace mortals, could kill him with their weapons – not easily, but they were rapidly improving their tools of destruction. Even though he had grown immeasurably over the centuries, he was actually relatively weaker. Humans progress at an alarming velocity.

The idea took root in his mind that he would humble humanity, bring it to its knees, knock it back into the dark ages so he could dominate and feed on it. He brooded and researched until he contrived a plot.

He would migrate to England, possessor at that time of the mightiest fleet on earth. There he would insinuate himself into the minds of the ruling family and the admiralty. Using British warships and the rats he could manipulate, he intended to systematically spread plague about the globe. He didn't want to exterminate humans, just cull them down to a manageable number and eliminate their technology.

But the only tactics he knew were the tactics of terror. It's hard for a name to strike terror into the hearts of a gentry who've never heard of it. So he recruited, via an intermediary, an unwitting PR manager, Mr. Bram Stoker, who was in fact professional manager for Sir Henry Irving, the greatest British stage presence of his day. Mr. Stoker never knew his mind had been hijacked. He simply found himself guided and obsessed. He wrote a masterpiece of Gothic horror.

Dracula had the goal of making his name a household terror to pave the way for his campaign. Stoker's work contains a great deal of misinformation about the prince. But much of the misinformation is disinformation, like dissolving into a mist, intentionally portraying him mightier than he is in order to instill fear. And some of it, like dying from holy water, paints him more vulnerable than he is, which protects him by gulling would-be vampire killers into harmless attacks. Some misinformation, such as not being able to cross running water, is simply Draculan idiosyncrasy. He loathes large, uncontrolled waters and avoids them if possible.

Dracula Woodcut
Stoker's 1st Edition, mustard-colored morocco
Stoker's book was published in 1897 with terrific shock effect among the Victorian audience who read it, and Dracula, following the script he had contrived to be written, sailed to England. It was at this point that his plans went awry for publishing the book had the unforeseen effect of drawing Saragossa and Sandman to England to meet Dracula. Saragossa had actually considered the possibility of a liaison - even a romantic tie - between himself and Dracula. He had no knowledge of Dracula's intense homophobia and towering lust for domination. There followed a series of clashes, where the parties soon learned that while Dracula was stronger than Saragossa, he was not as fast, and Saragossa's ability to endure the sunlight gave him huge leverage.

Dracula retreated to lay plans in Wallachia, where Saragossa did not follow. Instead, each developed a strategy for dealing with the other, involving the development of extensive organizations. Dracula's goal was to reduce humanity to a pre-Industrial Revolution technology, for the simple reason that mankind's technology closes the strength gap between Dracula and humanity. With only primitive weapons, it would be almost impossible for mortals to kill Dracula. With a machine gun or military laser beam, it would be easy – assuming Dracula could be found, cornered and shot.

His main strategy for carrying out this plan is based on plagues, especially rat-dispersed plagues. Although philosophically a technophobe, Dracula has invested heavily in biotechnology, especially bio-warfare, and has world-class experts on his payroll.

Saragossa's strategy is simply to hold Dracula in check, countering his plague attempts, until humans have developed sufficiently (in their technology) that they can remove Dracula like plucking a tick from a dog. Saragossa had long calculated that the crucial degree of technological advancement would occur by the year 2050 AD, at which time Saragossa could rely on humanity to save itself, releasing Saragossa to 'disincorporate', seeking mystical union with Those Who Wait.

Dracula backed Nazi Germany during WWII, and later infiltrated the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He wished to foment a Third World War, first knocking the US to its knees with plagues, and then incited his 'sleepers' in the USSR to begin a nuclear attack. These plans came to a head in 1976, climaxing with a physical confrontation between Saragossa and Dracula in the US, in Colorado. These events are related in: Saragossa: The Vampire Legacy.

At that time Dracula's chief henchmen, his lieutenants, were five in number: Radescu, living in Italy; Lorrigan, his only female master vampire, living in Denver, Colorado; Seth and Stefan; and last in strength, but foremost in mastery of bio-terrorism, Laszlo, living in Africa.

Dracula's most famous portrait Hairy-legged vampire bat
Dracula's most famous portrait Hairy-legged vampire bat

Look at these two images. If you cannot see the resemblance, the bloodline running true, you need to open your eyes (no, not those – your other eyes). The bat image is possibly by M. Brock Fenton – just because he has made so much brilliant contribution to the study of the bat. I think this is actually a hairy-legged vampire bat, not the Desmodus rotundus, which is the likely gene-donor for Dracula's line of vampires. Another possible gene source is an extinct species, perhaps the one ironically named Desmodus draculae, the so called "giant vampire bat", although it weighed at most a few ounces.

The next section talks about Bram Stoker, the author of the book Dracula, and of how he came to know so much information and so much misinformation about the Prince.