He must indeed have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land. If it be so, then was he no common man: for in that time, and for centuries after, he was spoken of as the cleverest and the most cunning, as well as the bravest of the sons of the 'land beyond the forest'.Mina Harker's Journal, 30 September
Such stringent miscreants; lost in degradation. The fools charge, hearty and full of bloody lust.
“Fools! Are you not men of the forest?!” he boomed.
Kamenskoi watched, his rage clearly shown, as the ladder-bearers charged the ramparts. Some fell; the slack was drawn up by those remaining. Taught to be fearless, and managing to survive thus far, they flung the ladder against the walls and began to climb. The last one alive was the first one on the rungs. He was slain by musket rounds to his gut and neck, the blood exploding from many orifices. His legs were caught between the rungs, and they cracked, breaking in two, silencing those below him. He cast a shadow on the red ground as his limp body catapulted from the force of shot, off the wooden beams, and back to the earth.
For hours throughout the night they fought, under lanterns and pyres lit by the Turks, under hails of lead rounds and the smell of gunpowder. The cracks of guns sounded off occasionally as foolish men tried to climb. By morning the retreat was ordered, and while many returned, others rebelled, the need to stay and fight over the bodies of their friends and commanders too strong.
They were taught the lesson of mortality as the Turks exited in the dawning light, cutting the heads off wounded and dead alike. Those still alive screamed until their throats were taken from them. 'Mercy'.
Kamenskoi would have his revenge for the blood of his people spilled today. The Seige of Rustchuck was not yet fully finished.
The Count did not sleep. That was a courtesy of the living. He had no more dreams, only desires. A deeply fulfilling hunger, that when satisfied, left him drooling; his lips bleeding. The days of old came back to plague him in newer times, none more revolting than that day. It seemed so long ago, too terribly long to have ever happened at all. How the world turned.
The Count sensed it was time, and he opened his nightly bed. The slow tilt of the ship was neither disorienting nor unusual. It simply was. He exited in much haste, his needs of something to nourish his wet appetite filling his mind. That mindful fuel gave him solace; his abilities the skills needed to maintain it. Without thought and with the a flick of a wrist he cast the skies into darkness and allowed a storm the room it needed to grow and coalesce into a massive, heaving cloud of electrified air. Quicker than any seaman's tale, the thing overtook the boat and rocked it back and forth solidly. A man fell overboard, and The Count was there to catch him.
His surprise at the change in luck was short lived. The red was washed away; the sins of the man forgotten, his soul drained dry. His life was over, The Count thought, and threw him into the cold water. He looked to the sky, to his wonderful power, to the true sense of living that surged within him, even now.
Dracula let the winds carry his voice; he let the seas roil with his fury; his blue eyes burned red in rage. Harker. Harker, the facilitator of his own ends. Harker needed to die. The winds roared in reply.
Kamenskoi was beset on all sides with problems. In the north Napolean was pushing through Poland, his bastardizing prejudice for other peoples carving its way into the hearts and minds of weaker men. He had little choice. His mouth was dry. The sludge poured into his bowl did little to satiate his thirst. Soon he would be in a bed, this sickness, this lack of action, driving him into a bored slumber. He could do little for the Russian people now; all he had left was the pure violence of war and the love of the gushing blood from his enemies' throats. Today he fought the men who killed his men, tomorrow he would move South to crush their reinforcements, and take away their last hope. He would slaughter them, one by one, until the last man fell to the ground on his knees, his legs removed, begging for a mercy killing.
He would grant them no such wish. Instead he would laugh in their face, and let them die in agony as the hungry dogs ate the tissue off the bone of his limbs, as his tongue would be soldered and then removed, and his eyes salted. He would cause the man enough pain to make twenty die of shock, and he would keep him alive with drugs meant to stave off death. The Danube Devil would revel in it.
But the fates had not been kind to Kamenskoi. No, they had been far too generous. They had gifted him the power of the dark arts; the powerful gift of leadership; a hunger for victory at any cost. He used these to slaughter, to claim land in the name of his people, who had long been the boot heel or the afterthought.
In his sleep one night in late January 1811, Kamenskoi would be visited on the cusp of his major victory at Sliven, on the road to Constantinople. As he slept, a man more brutal than he, a man driven by primal urges, would enter his tent of refuge and rip off the covers. Kamenskoi's eyes would widen, they would be witness to a ghost of a man, strong as 10 others, face as pale as snow. Kamenskoi would be assaulted, his throat bitten, then left to die. Without his guards, he would have. The fool had been careless.
The Count would not be so careless. He would only let who deserved to live, those who suited him, remain as immortals.
Kamenskoi became ill, unable to speak or command. He was replaced, and sent back North, to the land of his birth. There, on the fringe of summer, he was said to have died, a hero of Russia in the city of Otella.
But Kamenskoi did not die. He became a creature of the night, a Nosferatu, and adopted the title he deserved, the name he loved. Count Dracula; the 'Devil'.
The dark swaying oceans allowed little light to escape. The storm took from the ship what it needed, and it needed sustenance. Men disappeared along the journey; the fear amongst the hands and crew growing with each passing day. The Demeter was cursed with death of a foul nature. Dracula noted a change in course one evening as he slept. His eyes popped open, his acute ears listened. He heard picking nearby, betwixt his beloved Transylvanian soils.
From the seas off port and starboard remained the deep fog. It had beset them days earlier, and in it they had lost all but the Captain and a single hand. Each but one had gone in dead silence, no scream, no obvious cause apparent. The Captain gripped the wheel, thinking of plans to cut the sails and make ready to signal for help in the great Northern Seas. He had only the word of a dead man to guide him, that they were somewhere off North Foreland, past the Straits of Dover. How had they come so far...?
Below Dracula sat, eyes open, listening to his homes being torn apart. The man had made his choice. He would die, not by Dracula's hands, but his own.
The Count opened the crate silently and turned to the man, who held the edge of a crate in his hands, attempting to pry it apart. The Count approached him, and grabbed him by the neck, the man's blood curdling scream echoing up the stairs to the top of the ship. He had few words.
“Only the sea may save you. Take your own life, or it shall be mine.”
Dracula turned to fog and settled to the floor, as the man ran out of the below-decks. The Captain had fear in his eyes, and listened to the madness uttered from the man's mouth before he jumped overboard to save his own life.
The Captain, unable to leave his ship, unable to abandon his duties as a true sailor, tied his hands to the helm with a necklace. Hanging on it was his crucifix, his light in even this deepest fog. His feet he tied with rope to the seat behind him. As The Count watched him in the still prominent fog through which not even sunlight could pierce, he wrote the accounts of the ship in his failing sanity. Untouchable, The Count simply waited, and guided the ship with the storm.
He showed his displeasure at the sequence of events to the dockworkers when he arrived, bursting from the holds in the shape of a wolf amidst toiling seas and lightning cracks. Kamenskoi had arrived in England, and he had powerful hunger on his mind.