Scipione Publishing House
Translated by Silvia Zanette Guimarães
Ingrid is a very intelligent 17- year-old girl who learned a few languages but has many problems with her friends because she is from a poor family in Brazil. She also has a rich German godmother whose name is Ingrid too, who pays the girl a good school and gives her the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time.
The godmother prepares her a surprise: she will travel not only to Germany but also to Romania to know Transylvania, the Count Dracula's land , whom Ingrid loves – and here, it is when the adventure begins.
Ingrid went to the New Year's Eve party in the Dracula´s Castle and lots of discoveries are waiting for the girl: the real Dracula is there to meet her, and she finds out her godmother is a night creature – a she-wolf – and she gets into contact with a completely fantastic universe when she discovers the fascinating Count's story, since the begining, when he was the cruel Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, until he turned into the Master of the Vampires. What a big surprise for the girl when she knows Dracula was tired of his vampire´s life, had fallen in love with the she-wolf, and wanted to live with his love and the girl has the mission of helping them.
In an agile and involving language , the book is rich in dialogues and action. It discusses the essence of the things and talks about some themes that seems to be the opposite, but in reality they are the other head of the same coin and they show the duality of the human soul, while it shows the young girl maturity and heer relationship with the worlds she lives in.
More than a story on vampires, the book brings an interesting report about a trip with lots of information about Romania: culture, history, folkclore, geography, cookery, music, dance, literature, sculpture, theater, and so on.
Text by the writer Celso Sisto for a newspaper
Translated by Silvia Zanette Guimarães
Transfigurations! This is the way life is opened in dimensions: from a simple CUT in a finger, a red sea can appear. And the red, being blood (or honey?) is also the flow leading to maturing, a floating , "menstruating", operating liquid, before the clear sign that anybody lives without a little bit of vampirism! And it can still be another name, a sophisticated one, for intuition, which, depending on the case, can be celebrated as our inner vampire.
The young Ingrid is given a vacation trip by her god-mother. She goes to Germany to see, after many years, her benefactress and practice German. But her god-mother offers more; a trip to Romenia and the discovery that not all is in sight. And it is within this dimension that the young Ingrid meets Dracula and all the beings around him. Of course, she'll be back different.
The book is built as a travel guide. There are maps, pictures of the Dracula's castle, in Bran, an insert with pictures of Romenian towns, all of them bound to the cover, and no other picture in the rest of the book. There is also a hollow red ground, like a mouth where two canines are seen! The trip is not only surprising but full of emotion. It is also a dive into the Medium Age and German culture as well, giving a broad view of the German immigration, the formation of the Eastern–European cities, the struggle for territory expansion and maintenance, all these aspects combined with the good and healthy ludic exercise of fiction! Believe it! But it's also a love story, redeeming Dracula from the cruelty attributed to him, giving his mortality back. And it's an intelligent possibility of dialogue with the millenary folk-tales of vampires and the famous and proclaimed Dracula by Bram Stoker.
There are remarkable and very beautiful passages as, for example, the New Year's Eve party, in the Dracula's castle or the Vlad Tepes's life visions at the Clock Tower Sighisoara, in which the past breaks the time-and-space barrier and, unexpectedly, as if the eyes, looking at some landscape, were able to copy what was printed there!
The text is colloquial, but presenting some poetic traces such as "the cold of the white dress", or when it is accepted that "it's not used to deliver the city to a new comer", because "it's necessary to conquer it". By the way, the alternation is one of the important features of this book: alternation of historic time, between the urban and rural, between the material and spiritual plan, between the terror and love, and, finally, between the reality and fantasy.
The book tours about many themes, but, above all, the female characters' strength directs the reader's attention, especially the two Ingrids, whose name duplication contributes even more to reinforce the encounter between the past and the future, in a mirror game, light and shadow, iniquity and kindness which can be seen as the great "game" of the book.
During the story, the adolescent universe mixed with the magic allows the main character a vision deeper and deeper of the social roles she lives as well as a review of her behaviors and feelings, so different from the standardized themes more and more repeated in adolescent literature!
Regina Drummond, who has many books published, lives in Germany, directs literary creation workshops, having a huge experience in literature and the reading promotion, and she knows what she does! We were all greeted with a kiss in our soul and charming (and frightful) hug!
Chapter 20: THE MANY LIVES OF A MAN
The Vlad III's enemies have created hundreds of legends about him. Some of them had said he would like to cram with the finest appetizing foods at banquets while watching people being quartered, scratched and burnt – alive, naturally.
It was so grotesque that he smiled each time he remembered those stories!
"Cruel and bloody!? I'm not a monster at all!", he thought.
However, legends used to build a reputation.
It was said he had impaled 30 thousand people in Brasov, on Saint Bartholomew´s Day, in 1459. And, in 1460, more than 10 thousand were impaled, in Sibiu.
"Idiot!", he said. "Neither if would they have been talking on porks!"
Nevertheless it was with truculence he used to keep his men under control.
Slowly, he came back to the banquet room. He couldn't avoid thinking, and, and that moment, it was a torment. "What kind of actions do I have to take?"
He had recovered the throne of Wallachia only two months ago. There was a lot of work to be done, and he couldn't count on many people, in a time treachery was the rule, and changing the side was considered natural.
He sat at the table, without a Word and drank his wine, mechanically. He looked at nobody. He talked to no one. Nothing interested him.
At the other side of the table, a beautiful brown woman looked at him avidly.
Sat on her left, another one, blonde as a Russian, nudged her under the table and whispered in her ear:
"Take care! He is promised to the princess."
"Which princess?" asked the brown one, with disdain.
"The Hungarian King's daughter, don't you know?" informed, with surprise. It was a novelty, difficult to be ignored.
"My dear..." began the brown one. " I believe, taking into account the fame of that man, no woman would really like to marry him".
"And", with tongue in cheek, the blond asked, "since when does a woman choose a husband?" "Marriages are alliances. We are only toys in the men's hands, trumps they use to increase their own power."
"Well, as you have mentioned this subject, I need to tell you something: he can marry to whom he wants. It's not my problem."
"But you are a widow..." said the blond with surprise... . "Young... and rich. And this makes you an independent woman. Perhaps you can even marry a man you want. Would you choose Vlad?"
"Who said I want to marry him?" smiled the widow.
The blonde didn't understand.
"So, what do you want?"
The beautiful brown woman gave an enigmatic smile and looked at the prince again, who hadn't even noticed her, more taciturn than ever.
"He is famous by his various talents..." she whispered. "Not only by the cruelty with which he treats his enemies."
Immersed in his own thoughts, Vlad held his chin with the hand, the the elbows stuck at the table, seeing nothing around him. His vacant look imprisoned the images threatening to escape through the slits of his half-opened eyes, scenes from a distant time, which he could even say he had been happy...
Vlad Tepes was a man of polite and good manners, who knew to be rude when he thought it was part of his responsibilities. He had been taught to be the Wallachia volvode: rude with his people, implacable with the enemies, and an inhuman cruelty with the Turkish invaders, but lovely in his intimacy and gallant in the saloons. It had been with his charm he had attracted the most beautiful woman in his time. It had been with his intelligence he had won her love. She was a lady with one of the highest ancestry, worthy and the alliance had reinforced his position and satisfied her father.
The Bran's Castle had not been totally ready yet. More than a hundred men worked day and night to finish the four towers, although it has already been decided that the young couple would live in the beautiful and small castle in Târgoviste, the capital of Wallachia, the place they went to live soon after the wedding which had been very pompous.
The beautiful princess had black hair as the nights without moon, blue-violet eyes as the Greek seas, the obstinate chin and a sweet and melodious voice as a child's one, although she had already been fifteen. She was accustomed to being obeyed without giving orders, preferring using the sweet tune of a request, something unthinkable in princesses of her time, which had made her be loved by everybody. She loved books, and, above all, appreciated poetry and music. She liked to sit in a chair at the window to read or embroider, until the day's light faded away at dusk, when, she would go to see if the dinner table was beautiful enough to do his husband's honors.
She really loved him. Not only because he was a good husband, but, above all, because, when she knew all his histories – the true ones and those which were the legend – she learned to understand him.
She knew he was motherless, thrown here and there according to the interest of the maids, her poor little dragon without love. At the Sultan's court, Vlad had continued alone, with nobody giving advice or taking care of him. As a grown man, he had opened his way with the sword; so, there was no place for compassion in his heart. She knew life had been hard with him e it made him harder than a rock from the mountains of her native land. There was only hate around him, and it was with that hate he filled his heart eager for love.
Yet, all that was important to the world. When he entered into the castle, she knew he removed the skin of the insensible man; when he looked at her, she knew he was changed into a loving man, desperately in love with her.
Vlad could see her, sat erectly and with dignity in front of the fireplace. The snow was falling in soft flakes covering the ground. A maid wound two silky braids of hair which, after that, would be rolled at the top of the head and hidden under the round cap. She smiled to the image and was completely sure that she also smiled at him with her most enchanting, delicate, and a little shy – almost ashamed - smile.
Vlad stood out went into her direction, allowing her to see him with the corner of the eye. She followed him and, and her look was so intense that it almost made a violet track on the bright floor, but she pretended not to see him, without changing her position not to break the enchanting. She touched her shoulders gently, and she, always smiling, turned into his direction, holding his hand into her little one.
He sat on the chair beside and they both stayed there looking at the fire crackling, the pleasant sound of the wood cracking, throwing small sparks, dying before reaching the floor. The maid had gone away making a long bow, leaving them alone.
Only looking at his wife made Vlad feel emotion.
That day, she spoke to him sweetlier than ever:
"I need to tell you news, my sir. Since we are alone, may it be now?"
"Of course, my lady, he answered, gently. He was always gentle with his sweet child wife.
Getting right to the point, but with a magic brightness in her eyes, she confessed:
– "We will have a baby".
Vlad could see, when he himself took her in his arms, swirling around the room without knowing what to say, so big was his emotion.
Never had he been so happy!
She was also happy. She trusted in him totally. She knew he would take care of her, defend her against all damages, and struggle for her, defending her against the Turkish demons. She had heard about the atrocities they committed when they invaded a burg, devastating it, stealing, torturing, killing, raping, but she had no fear.
The princess was sure her reign was indestructible, and nothing bad could happen to her while she was protected by the strong walls of her castle and his husband's army.
Vlad bit his lips until bleeding when he saw her, completely terror-struck, a second before she threw herself from the tallest tower to her fatal fall onto the stones. She was wearing a simple dress, which enhanced her big belly, showing how close the child birth was. Her hairs were loose and straggle, as many braids had been pulled out with hands, small blood fillets dropped from her scratched face, where she had riddled her nails. One of the furrows, the deepest one, dropped.
"They will not do anything with me!" – she had cried. "They will not."
And she repeated the same scream as a mad echo:
"They will not! They will not! They will not!
She had preferred to die instead of falling into the hands of the Turkish.
He had failed. He had been unable to protecting her.
Vlad shook his head, moving the memories away.
Never would he forget that scene!
Never could he forgive himself!
With a glass of wine in his hands, he moistened his lips trying to diminish his hunger for revenge. He knew that nothing could diminish it because what he had lost didn't have any possible compensation. Perhaps, could he impale the sultan himself, he could feel better. While this day didn't arrive, he would impale all the Turkish soldiers crossing his way.
"I'm a dead man", he ascertained, with no emotion. "I´m a dead man pretending to live."
The nobles, who followed him, looked at him but didn't understand anything. They were scared, because they had never seen like that, totally closed at home as a snail. They looked at each other, worried, trying to maintain an encouraging conversation.
Rapt in thought, Vlad raised his golden wine glass and suggested:
"Let's make a gift to death!"
Everybody raised the glasses and drank, afraid it could be the last swallow. They feared to be impaled at any moment as he had done with some nobles at a party in the Targoviste castle or even as it had just happened to the ones still groaning outside.
Many nobles who were sat there shared the Turkish idea that voivode had been already gone too far. One of them stood up, impetuously, held the sword by the hand and cried:
"Yes, Vlad. Let's make a gift to YOUR death!"
And before someone could cry, the head of Vlad Tepes, the Impaler, already fell to the stone floor of the castle.
From the other side of life, Ingrid cried.
"So sad, godmother ... So sad...." sobbed stronger and stronger. Her godmother's arms held her shoulders, kindly.
"That's all for today. Let's go out", said the old woman.
"No, please, godmother, I want to see till the end. Poor Vlad ... He was only a man of his time! He had to be rude, so that they didn't kill him!"
"Yeah, mein Schatz, you are sure. Let's go away, now," she said in a conciliatory way."
"I can't, godmother! I want to know what happened after that."
"Do you want to see more? Don't you think that it's enough for today?"
"I prefer to see everything all at once, godmother. Tomorrow, I don't know if I can or if the images are available to me", answered Ingrid, securely, but sad.
The godmother held her strongly, saying:
"You are a great girl!"
Ingrid turned to the side she hadn't seen yet, now to the hills, so near that she could almost touch the roofs with her hand. The Butchers' Tower was across from it, still linked to the city walls, very well preserved, at that place. Behind the tower, there was the Lycée, but, actually, too far, at the top of the hill.
Ingrid stayed there attentively watching the beautiful mansard roofs which looked like eyes peeping at the world, and the images began to mix until she couldn't distinguish anything else. Then, she did as the zoom of her photographic machine, focusing on a smaller piece, and trying to bring the image nearer.
A knight was trying to climb the Hill. He had his had so plunged into his neck that the young woman couldn't see it. Where was he going? It was impossible to know. He walked adrift, moving sinuously, following an imaginary "S", zigzagging as a horse. Certainly, he was lost or very drunk, because he slipped on the numerous viscous and reddish spots appearing for a moment being hidden by the earth very soon. He stumbled on rags and pieces of armors on the ground, piled up as old cans and mixed to odd shapes: some of them were elongated as swords, wider, yet; others looked like stones, in freakish shapes, gray-colored or spotted, but always sculptured and cut in some way or other, carelessly. Many lances crossed the unshapely shadows. There were shadows, looking like horses, but not the way they are used to stand: squashed on the floor, the neck turned, and upward...
At the top of the hill, flattened as the mouth of a volcano, the shadows seemed piled coconuts: round, with dark fibers around them, with a smooth side. Where had they come from? Ingrid didn't remember having seen cocos... In a moment of reasoning, she remembered that they like the tropical regions, but, now, she didn't have time to think about that. The things she saw were, undoubtedly, hardened larva. Or a pile of garbage. All her attention was turned to the knight, whom she couldn't stop looking at.
He walked a little more, always showing difficulty, touching here and there. At the top, he bent down and, always touching, he found a round thing, which he tried to put on his own neck, in vain. In dispair, he threw the thing away and picked up another one trying, once again, to put it on his own neck. He repeated it again and again, until he sat on the ruins, weakened.
That moment, Ingrid repressed a horror scream: the knight was a phantom with no head, a wandering soul. The problem wasn't she couldn't see, he, actually, didn't have head!
She had understood what had seen from the tower! It was not coconuts, but bodies without heads, lying down abandoned in the hole at the top of the hill. Thousands of heads which couldn't get out of that place. Many of them had their mouth open, at a terrifying, mute, fixed scream. The nose, massacred, looked like two holes in the middle of the face. The eyes were worse: wide-eyed, pop-eyed, terrified, still seeing something terrible. Some of them blinked, trying to know where they were, other ones glanced at, almost stretched out themselves, trying to intuit what had happened to them. There were still the ones, who, resigned, had closed as if they had been sleeping. Their tangled hair seemed to be alive due to the great number of fleas, lice and worms moving along, making it move too. The air was still as if the wind didn't exist. Only the dirty insects didn't stop, even a minute. And there was also blood, a lot of dried blood on the edges, running in the middle, being swallowed by the earth. A terrible vision.
At the foot of the hill, fulfilling the valley on the left, there were the bodies without head. Some of them lay down alone here and there, still; others as snakes in the nest, arms and legs interlaced, mixed and as if they were one. An arm tried to find its leg, but it was a leg of another body and was slapped by a hand with no arm which was looking for its owner. The silence was terrifying. However Ingrid thought it was a movie with no sound. Some bodies without head, like the lonely knight, tried to stand up and walk, but without anything which could indicate time and place – since they only had one of their five senses – they couldn't even leave the place.
Ingrid wanted to awake, but she couldn't. She wanted to cry, but as there was no air, she couldn't be heard. She wanted to run, but her body didn't obey. She closed the eyes and saw heads with no body. She opened the eyes and saw the bodies without head.
She saw, again, the lonely knight, walking unsteadily, looking for his head, picked up another one to try on and reject it. That moment, she understood he was Vlad Tepes. The piled-up heads also understood and began to attack him with the only weapon they had: the spit. They spat in them with disgust. Soon, he was full of a feeble slobber, which stuck on the clothes rags, dripping by the rest of the armor and mixing with the blood which didn't stop running.
Where did so much blood come from?
Ingrid delayed to notice that the same blood which ran out through one side of the body, returned through the other side, in a way it could run out again, stronger, more abundant, more vigorous, bright red, changing the body when it was delectable and turning into a river when it joined the other, to disappear once again into another body and go out by the wounds of any other one which wanted it, keeping them eternally open and bleeding. Sometimes, it was the earth which swallowed the blood; however there was no difference, it always came back.
It was a torture. When it seemed it was close to the end, it began again, repeating again and again, eternally. Ingrid guessed that was the suffering of those wandering souls, who had not found peace in death.
It was dark, but a strange sun was passing by the horizon line, as it was rising and setting at each minute. It didn't cross the sky, as Ingrid was used to seeing it, creating the day and the night with its movement. It stood in the sky all the time, but it was always lying down: following the horizon, a lifeless disc of an opaque brightness, as a blind eye, neither heating nor lightening, it was only there to mark the time, always going ahead parallel to the horizon, without changing its pace or rhythm, slowly, painfully.
Ingrid felt frozen and constricted her arms against the breast, trying to guess something else about that strange sun, running along the horizon, more and more to the left, and, now, more and more to the right, passing behind and in front of her, but it was never strong or weak or even disappearing, it was always pale and dying. Moreover, it moved counterclockwise, as if the time moved backwards there.
Ingrid thought that all the nightmares were concentrated on that hill. The bodies were underneath, the heads, over, near, but not enough to meet each other. Only Vlad walked limping, poor desperate drunk one, always looking for his head, while the others – certainly cut off by him or his men during the battles – they spat at him and said terrible things with their bloody mouths.
Then, the impaled came. Appearing from all sides, an army of skinny skeletons, with an ironic smile and the pole run through the bones, had surrounded the old all-powerful volvode. There were thousands of creatures dancing around him, a macabre dance, like a nightmare, repeating, and repeating, again and again, the same gestures and movements, without stopping, preventing him from moving around, trampling on the cut-off heads, the pile bodies and they laughed, laughed all the time, soundless laughs, which the fixed grimace made them awful. Ingrid intuited that thing was not a laugh; on the contrary, the impaled growled like threatening dogs.
Vlad couldn't see them, but the fear of his body thrown on the floor, rolling on himself like a ball, showed that he knew they were creatures destined to torment him.
The godmother shook Ingrid, who was crying desperately, to take her back, and she saw herself at the Clock Tower.
"Stop it!" – decided the old woman. "That's enough for today!"
However the Young woman cried and begged to stay there and see more.
"Poor Vlad... What happened to him? I know that story hasn't finished yet! At least, I want stay here watching until his life becomes better! Please, godmamma, please..."
"Do as you please..." agreed the other. " Anyway, there is only one picture more.
When she looked through each one of the frames, Ingrid had seen, at the same time, a part of the city and something like a movie of a time different from Vlad Tepes's life. Now, she would look at the last one. She couldn't wait.
She walked until the middle of the open window and breathed deeply.