||The Journal of Duke Yasovir Georgi Dimitrov
March 20, 1908
Although I keep my personal journal in German, there are certain subjects I have judged not suitable for the possible, albeit accidental, reading of by others. As pertains these subjects I will write my thoughts in English, a language none in the household but my sons speak, and them only some, and of course Ostrov; but it is from and through him that many of my more refined thoughts come. In this way, and by keeping it separate from my other papers, I do hope to safeguard this portion of my journal from general scrutiny. If my journals are ever o be published, as I sometimes secretly aspire, I leave to the discretion of my heirs alone, and Ostrov, should he survive me, whether or not these English portions are to be included in any anthology. Events will dictate the prudence of such a course.
March 21, 1908
The legacy of Vlad is very strong in this country, despite my attempts to modernize and, to some degree, westernize the region. Although Zagora, an able man, now lives in the Impalers castle, its shadowy aura cannot be dispelled. It seems the most powerful opponent of the progress I plan is the time-honored folklore of my people. My philosopher has keen insight into these matters, and understands the power of tradition. How to combat it we have not firmly devised. If Transylvania is ever to be a relevant state, I must put down this grip of fear and mystery.
I believe Zagoras friendship will be a great boon to my efforts. He commands much influence with the nobles of Wallachia and the countryside. The difference in our ages, however, has sapped my courage to exercise my legitimate authority over him. Ostrov is vague concerning the Count. My impression from him is that he does not like Zagora. I suspect his sensitive telesthesia is responding to residue of Vlads day that necessarily surrounds the Count. What he says, however, must be taken into consideration.
Zvance and Borovan come increasingly into disagreements these days. Under Ostrovs tutelage, Zvance is progressing rapidly, and my confidence in his abilities emboldens me. Borovan, by contrast, seems to lust for nothing the but the hunt and leisure. Ostrov tells me that his training is progressing, but at only an acceptable rate. Ostrov desires to discipline the boy in his own way, but I hesitate to consent.
I have received a letter from Franz Ferdinand; it is so much political drivel. He did, however, lend support to my desire to rid my country of its shroud of occultism and get on with the business of progress. Two days ago Borovan received an answer to his letter to the President of America. His admiration for Theodore Roosevelt is most alarming. Roosevelt is, as I believe the saying goes, a nit-wit.
Seventeen peasants were found dead by the coast yesterday morning. Their bodies were drained of blood and horribly mutilated. I am simultaneously horrified and encouraged, as, although it is a ghastly deed, it provides a solid starting point against which to brace a campaign of reason; such a point elusive rumour and fairly tale provide not. I have dispatched Ostrov to investigate the incident and report to me his observations. Now at last perhaps we have a productive entry into this nebulous world of darkness. At the very least, we shall be able to pursue this incident and discover those responsible for the crime. If Ostrov deems it appropriate, I shall travel to the site in person.
Ostrov has returned to the castle, and has confirmed my fears. He tells me the killings bear the signs of a vampire cult; worshipping some obscene water demon and letting blood in their bizarre rituals. The murdered peasants were under the Earl of Bolarad, and Ostrov reports that Bolarad was as dismayed as any by the news, although my philosopher is wary of the Earls word. Upon questioning other peasants in the area of the event, my adviser found them disturbingly reticent to discuss the deaths, their lord, or vampirism at all. He sensed distinct fear on he part not only of the humble men whose friends had been so greusomely defiled, but also from Bolarad himself. Zagora, when I asked his advice on the subject, explained to me his belief that it was not, in fact, related to a cult, but some more pedestrian crime arranged so as to incriminate non-existent parties. It is a pity that the veil of irrational fear drapes so heavily about Zagora; I fear his wisdom will always be taken with a grain of salt.
Ostrov has given to me what he believes to be relevant texts on the subject and events at hand. I know about the vampire and werewolf legends, of course, and the history of my precursors to this throne, but Ostrov believes reading these texts will be illuminating. There is one in particular, he believes, that has application; it is without a printed title either inside or out and appears most ancient. My philosopher says it is a translation of a still more decrepit and sinister text which he calls the Al Azeef. Im sure it will make for most engrossing reading.
Several of the books from Ostrovs library are not proving informative to me. They do little more than recount traditional versions of lycanthropy and vampirism. I have been reminded of the beneficial effects of garlic, wolvesbane, and the success of silver weapons cited in folklore. Also, Im sure Ill be glancing into the mirrors to spy which of my friends is among the undead.
Bolarad is dead. Apparently he lost his footing and fell from the staircase balcony of his home, and fell to the lobby, where his body was pierced through by the sharp spire of a wooden dining chair. Ostrov, through his readings and by other means, has enough confidence to state outright that the death is not the accident it appears to be. I trust my aged tutors opinion implicitly, but I cant accept that one of my nobles has been killed. As to the perpetrators, Ostrov claims no kind of certainty, but speculates, against outstanding evidence, that the Earl was done in by that group responsible for the peasant murders. Zagora thinks it highly more likely that Bolarads own thanes, pushed by the peasant murders, struck out against him. I am inclined to agree with the Count. A full inquiry will be made. This is most intolerable. I am reluctant to assign my worthy court philosopher to the task, as I feel his remarkable gifts may be more to our detriment than to our benefit. On the other hand, Ostrov, I feel, would be insulted if I asked Zagora to look into the matter.
I have taken charge of the Bolarad inquiry myself. I have ordered that all but the family vacate the castle, and that the family confine itself to certain rooms necessary for daily functioning. The Earls widow was only too glad to depart from their shared bedroom, and I was glad I did not have to make that request forcefully. Bolarads offices and chambers have been laid bare to me. I hope I can get to the bottom of this sordid affair.
Bolarad kept very few papers, or has hidden them so cunningly that none but an educated person could ever find them again. No one in the family and none of the servants confess to any knowledge of their existence or whereabouts. Ostrov feels sure there is information to be gained, but cannot be more specific. I am growing discouraged and weary.
Zagora came to me today and held a short and private conference. He urges me to break off the investigation and recover my failing constitution. He believes that the death was, as it appeared, an accident. He further believes that my philosopher, Ostrov, is perhaps so advanced in years that his perception is not so completely trustworthy. Although I have never known the worthy mystic to be mistaken in a premonition, I do believe the suggestion is a reasonable one. Perhaps now, in his own conviction that supernatural forces are at work, his vision is for once clouded. He is very sensitive: perhaps the strain has been too much for him. On the other hand, at times Zagora, being the noble most thrown into question by the pall of suspicion that comes over my land, seems to me almost too willing to forget the strange incidents which occur here.
Zvance has offered to relieve me of my investigation by taking it upon himself. The boy continues to please me well.
I have discovered a letter concealed beneath the end pages of a book in Bolarads library. it is addressed to Bolarad, but the author doe not sign his name. It is dated from last year, and specifies the time and place of a barbaric vampire cult ritual. It mentions the name and bears a seal of an abomination mentioned in the book Al Azeef, one Kutulu by name, and speaks of it in worshipful terms. I have decided not to mention this letter either to Ostrov or Zagora, and investigate it further for myself.
I am twice blessed! Zvance, on his own initiative, has uncovered an old peasant woman from the village who claims to have seen these vampire cultists in their religious capacity, and as recently as four months ago. Her speech is rather incoherent and she is fundamentally ignorant, but she describes a grisly scene of blood letting and pagan ritual.
Zvance and I traveled together to the coast, to the place specified in the Bolarad letter. I beheld there a testimony to an unthinkable carnage, the now stilled remains of some dozen dozen men. In a small cavern near the beach site described in that accursed epistle, my son and I counted the bones of many men, and although I cannot quite decide on what it is, I feel that something about those bones was wrong. Perhaps my philosopher has influenced me more than I thought. The sight appalled me. I swear by the cross and silver swords that are the symbol of my family to drive out this occultism and blood crazed fiendishness from my country.
My country does not cooperate with me. No one will speak. Zagora and the other nobles begin to think I am touched. The Bolarad implication has left me fearful. That letter was written to him by someone in this country, someone who must still be here. I can, however, find no evidence to lead me further to anything. I do not know whom to trust. At least one of my nobles is one of these blood sated heathens, yet all deny it. I do not any longer know if I can rely on my court mystic for correct impressions. I feel like I lie at the center of a grim conspiracy.
My dear son, Zvance, while his brother went hunting with the Count, came to me in my study today. He told me frankly that he had observed my misery and that his confidence in me had not failed or faltered in any way. I was much encouraged by this. He urged me, further, to look to Ostrov for guidance. He assured me that the old man was keen to help and able, and while perhaps burdened with a vast education and many years experience, was still my most faithful servant. I know my son is right. He is wise beyond his years.
No sooner do I take Ostrov into my confidence concerning my discoveries and researches than does he begin to make bold accusations. He has named half the nobility of Transylvania as worshipers of this hideous sea demon, and urges me to tread warily. Not the last on his list is Zagora himself. I fear the insult to the Count may be more than our friendship can bear. I fear more deeply that my aged mystic is correct.
I have been visited by strange dreams of bizarre creatures and humans in profane ritual. The vision has been most disturbing. It is indescribable. I fear my health may be failing.
The dreams are becoming more vivid and extreme. Winged polyps of unfathomable origin. Fish creatures rise from the sea. Blood everywhere. Im losing my concentration. Ostrov is also affected. Zvance seems to be the only clear-headed man left in the household. I begin to suspect that Borovan is mentally retarded.
In my dream creatures came at me. Loathsome and hideous, with fierce teeth and hands. I dont know if my researches into the occult have brought me these dreams directly or indirectly, but I know they are responsible. Perhaps I have gone too far.
Just when I am ready to discontinue my efforts, Zvance speaks and restores my flagging determination. For h him I must lay the groundwork of progress for Transylvania. The dreams become more oppressive.
I am rapidly losing my ability to think rationally about the problem. When I begin to attack it, visions from my dreams come to haunt me. I will seek Zagoras advice.
Zagora appears to be very sympathetic. He begs me, for the sake of my own well-being, to stop asking questions and go abroad, away from the castles unhealthy influence. While his suggestion is most appealing, a voice in the back of my mind, which I fancy to be what remains of my sanity, screams to me that I must stay, despite my afflictions. Transylvania needs me now.
The dreams. More people have died. No one seems to question it but me. Zagora says it was an accident. Ostrov borders on hysteria in my view. Zvance is my only reference point.
Ostrov and Zagora have had words. Ostrov confronted and accused the Count to his face of knowledge of the cult murders. They nearly came to physical blows. A fire burned in their eyes as they battled. I felt helpless. Ostrovs body belies his strength. His power comes from a non-physical source. I cannot concentrate.
I have sent Ostrov abroad. Zagora is placated only slightly. The dreams
The dreams now worst of all. Death, complete destruction, huge creature rising from the sea. Too monstrous. Horrible.
I see now the cult is everywhere. Vampirism is not a myth. I see that now. It lives in Transylvania. I am powerless.
Crucifixes throughout the castle. No one outside. No sleeping. Death comes by night.
Zagora. Zagora has betrayed me. The creature his castle. His the letter. I see it now.
The walls close in around me. There are demons at the window. They will not suffer me to live. I must call my son. Zvance my last hope.
RETURN TO STORY POINT