Hunyad Castle, Hunedoara, Romania – 1453
They’re going to let me go today.
After a decade in this dungeon, my captors are granting me a pardon.
Apparently because they think I’m no longer a threat to them. Whatever. I’m watching the sunrise sneak through a small vent in the tower’s ceiling. It’s bathing me in its glow.
I heard one of the guards yesterday say they were letting me go because they thought I was crazy, and would never be able to contest for the crown. My royal blood was the only thing that kept them from murdering me.
This castle tower once held Vlad III of the Wallachian empire, called by some Dracula. He stayed here for seven years. I’ve seen traces of his writings scratched onto the rock walls. His broody presence stills stalks this hell hole.
I’ve held long conversations with Vlad the Impaler during the many nights I slept on the cold stone floor. He comes to me in my dreams and sometimes during the day, whispering strange things into my ear.
Who am I, you may ask? Just a bastard son of the noble Hunyadi family who restored this ancient castle. My mother died giving me life, and my noble father, King Albert of Hungry never officially acknowledged me. My name is John.
I’m a wart in the family line. No one wants to kill me, but I’m treated like a stray dog. And today they’re letting the dog go.
I know what my enemies see when they look at me; a frail old man with a long beard and balding head. They think I have no life left in me, and that I will wander off and die somewhere alone, unknown to future generations.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, and I know it’s a good thing they underestimated me so much. It led to my freedom. It’s gave me a chance to wage a blood feud against my own family.
Wait! Here they come now!
One day later.
I’m not use to walking so much. My weary body is being forced to move by sheer will power. I know the cave isn’t far from here. Vlad told me where it was in a dream.
The cave was my key to immortality, and revenge.
I was crawling by the time I reached the entrance to the cave. It was partly concealed by bushes. If I would have been stronger, I would have stood up and walked in. Instead, I had to crawl in like a worm into the darkness.
I have no idea how long I crawled. Resting against a wall, I summoned my remaining strength. I listened. I wasn’t afraid. Vlad assured me the final pain would be quick, then I would enter the new royalty of bloodsuckers for eternity.
When I heard the bats, I sat still and waited for them. Vlad was right. The pain of death was sharp. But when I woke I felt like a new man. A strange woman sat next to me, allowing the cut on her arm to drain its crimson content into my open mouth.
Her hot blood surged through my veins, and I felt a power like nothing a human could even imagine. I could see clearly in the darkness. Everything was crystal clear. When I stood up I was dizzy for a moment, but it passed.
It was exhilarating flying through the night. When I reached the castle it was still dark and the inhabitants, including the guards, were sleeping. Now, a thing of the night, I glided through the corridors until I reached my uncle and his wife’s bedroom.
The guard outside their door slept with a sword across his lap. I couldn’t resist starting my feast with him. It was over quickly. I took his sword, and cut his head off afterwards.
When I went inside I could clearly see their bed. I went up to the side my uncle was on and fed. Not too much blood, however. I wanted him to suffer. It was just the beginning. I had plans for my damned family.
Plans that would carry through future generations, and that would be referred to in the Family Bible as John’s Curse.
As It Stands, family feuds have long been the fodder of fiction writers.