A Burnt Child Dreads the Fire

You must come, O dread Impaler, confound them to your care.
Split them in two partitions, here the fools, the rascals there;
Shove them into two enclosures from the broad daylight enisle ’em,
Then set fire to the prison and the lunatic asylum.

Mihai Eminescu: The Third Letter

 

The house of the Dragon had seen better days. Much better days, truly. It had now fallen into disrepair and Vlad had no one to blame but himself. Wasn’t that always the case, however? Yes. Yes, that was always the case: the onus of it all was on him alone. That burdensome knowledge, that it all started with him…

How long ago was it? How long, exactly, since Mina had left with her Jonathan Harker? Too long. Entirely too long for him to continue dwelling on the pain of her departure, and yet there he was, pining, longing, wallowing in a mire of misery.

He had so much practice at this that he should have already turned self-pity into an art form. Ah, but for all of his talents, this was not one of them! What ever happened to the strapping, bold warrior who’d once brought the Ottoman empire low? Where was the Impaler, the Wallachian Dragon? Gone to soil, it would seem.

For one so old and experienced, he seemed to be none the wiser on matters of the heart. He knew dawn was fast approaching, so the question, once more, was if he would be able to do it. So many times he had stood on the roof of this god forsaken mansion, contemplating the thought of giving himself up to the morning sun and seeing about testing the feud with a divinity silent save for the curse it brought upon him.

It was tempting, certainly. Was he that weary? Perhaps he should seek the company of mortals once more. Yes. That or a flaming death. Both, in tandem, would be a fitting end to his long reign, would they not?

He almost felt a spark of euphoria at the thought of moving among the mortal flock anew, like a reaper on a golden field of barley. Perhaps there would be time to visit his old castle and scare up a storm in there. Make one last, triumphant appearance for old time’s sake. That should get the old dead heart flaring, for once.

He had let himself be beaten too many times already. It was time to fight and give no quarter. The old Vlad was stirring.

Go out with a bang, old Vlad, he told himself. With. A. Bang.

 

News Report: In a shocking turn of events, Bran Castle, in Romania, better known as Dracula’s Castle, has gone up in flames. Firefighters and emergency responders are at the scene trying to put out the conflagration, but reports indicate that the fire may have already caused irreparable damage.

Bran Castle has been a tourist attraction and Romanian national landmark…

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