Book Four excerpt:
Both men smoked casually as King Carol of Romania showed Rudolph his famous ancestors. “My wife for instance considers me distressingly conventional and boringly bourgeois” King Carol explained as his hypnotic black eyes flashed.
“But how do you deal with the disease?” Rudolph asked. “Doesn’t it devastate red blood cells? The hemoglobin? And over excite white blood cells? And trigger excessive anti coagulating Draculin which triggers hemophilia?”
“I don’t suffer uncontrollable bleeding. Nor my son. In fact our bite, like that of the Vampire Bat and the Leech, contains clogging agents to actually stop fatal bleeding while sterilizing the bite. Nature’s way is normally never to kill the host which ultimately is evolutionary genocide. Our overproduction of white blood cells actually creates an increased ability to heal. My organs can discharge surplus iron from blood consumption harmlessly through the kidneys into the urine. I suffer from porphyra of course. So does my son. But we don’t usually experience any ‘King George The Third’ bouts of nuttiness. Just purple urine. Blackish blood. Sun burn dreadfully. We can die of sun cancer. There are pros and cons. It is an interesting genetic disposition.”
“So it is genetic and not a STD” Rudolph said as they casually smoked while strolling through the picture gallery of King Carol’s famous Romanian ancestors.
“Oh it is entirely genetic! Totally unlike the Transylvania STD. It is not transmitted by rough sex at all. It is entirely genetic. We just consider it a deviant form of porphyra. Diabetic sufferers are experimenting with insulin aren’t they? What is the difference? We take blood. Most humans cannot absorb blood. But our genetics and organ mutations allow us to consume fairly large amounts of blood to stabilize our shaky hemoglobin red blood cells to prevent fatal anemia. But at the same time we have a higher resistence to infection and a faster ability to heal. We generate a higher level of fight or flight adrenaline and dopamine.”
“So you are stronger but not paranormal strong.”
“And we don’t change into wolves unless we have another genetic anomaly called the Were Gene” the charming Romanian told Rudolph.
“The Were Gene allows shape shifting. To shift one’s skin. To metamorphose. But what does the dopamine do? That is the brain’s pleasure chemical isn’t it?” Rudolph asked as they strolled casually through the picture gallery of the Romanian’s exotic ancestors.
“Our bite does not contain ichor enzymes which are a STD that Transylvanian and Hungarian Vampires suffer from” the distinguished King of Romania told Rudolph. “We don’t infect. We invite.”
King Carol paused and then he reached over and took Rudolph’s hand. “May I invite myself into your life Howl? I ask for permission with respect because your blood has a chemical like insulin which can save my life. May I bite you?”
“Ah….Of course I have the right to say yay or nay?” Rudolph replied, bemused by King Carols’ genteel nonchalance.
“Of course my dear Howl.. And my bite as I said is not infectious but rather is inviting. And I must respect the life that I fed upon to live and I must not abuse those I need to nourish upon.”
“Ah! A scientific experiment then” Rudolph said. “I give you permission Your Majesty.”
King Carol very gently bit Rudolph’s hand as if two tiny hypodermic needles behind his upper teeth very slightly pricked the hand. King Carol did not prick the veins at all. King Carol drank very slightly, the sensation oddly erotic for both men. Then King Carol very gently licked the wound as Rudolph felt a rush of intense pleasure that was amazingly erotic and unexpectedly enjoyable. “There” King Carol said. “My salvia is a sterilizing agent. The wound is thus never infected and there is no threat to excessive bleeding whatsoever. Quite the contrary. How do you feel Brigadier?”
“Remarkably ……. happy” Rudolph said. “The dopamine? It registers as sheer pleasure! How dangerously seductive!”
“That is why there is a code of the Order of the Drac! We invite and we respect. We need but our need is also love. Our love which is our need is symbiotic. Mutually dependant. And we never harm those we invite into our being. We ask to be invited into another being. And we respect the trust of mutual invitation. Our beings merge. Our auras commingle. Our pranic energy coalesce. We share primal energy. Our souls —- kiss. There.” King Carol wrapped one arm around Rudolph’s slim waist and they strolled down the picture gallery as if perfect friends —which they now were.
“What can you read as your aura commingles with my aura?” Rudolph asked.
“Your shining personality. Your brilliance. It tastes like oranges.”
“Really?” Rudolph laughed.
“Yes. What else?” King Carol mused. “Your Wittelsbach tastes like bittersweet pomegranates. Your Habsburg tastes like fading roses. Most peculiar! And you are ailing. Your energy level is abnormally down. Your psychic aura is purple. It should not be purple. The symptoms of a drained psychic aura are depression, confusion, weariness, headaches, nightmares, anxiety, exhaustion, and possibly…. hum….. self destructive tendencies.”
“I thought that was Wittelsbach genetics” Rudolph said.
“Yes but your genetic lack of defense against attack by negativity is being dangerously aggravated. I fear that your wife is …well… not biologically nurturing toward you.”
“You are better than Vienna’s experts in nervosa” Rudolph said. “But how do you stop being a human psychic narcotic which the abusive lover might become addicted to?”
“That is why we Romanians of a certain genetic deposition are obligated to be members of the Order of the Dragon. We must obey strict ethics as well as use our unusual physicality to fight for good and not evil.”
“Remarkably idealistic” Rudolph said. “But I imagine there are rogues.”
“We police our own” King Carol said. “It is like the Theiss Guards that exist in other paranormal countries that have odd genetics that mundane law and order cannot handle. We police our own. That is why Romania is so paranormally law abiding while Transylvania and part of Hungary are so unruly. Magyar Vampires feel so entitled! Shocking! And Transylvanian Vampires are so besotted with themselves! But we are a very positive force for the good here in Romania! A sort of companionship of paranormal physicians with special physical needs.”
“The Order of the Drac. The Dragon” Rudolph said. “Membership of the Dracul. What else did you taste?”
“I believe Stephanie is an unconscious psychic vampire who feeds off your psychic aura” King Carol added. “Your body’s natural energy. My dear wife said she felt it. She is clairvoyant no less than yourself. Though you are an untrained clairvoyant whose natural second sight is repressed by your rational and scientific mind. Stephanie’s draining presence is very pronounced. She radiates a deep black hole of negativity. She drains. You should not have married her Brigadier. You have very low resistance to psychic draining by psychic vampires. I am not a psychic vampire. I am a member of the Order of the Dragon. The Dracul. We are very ethical. But many apparently perfectly normal people are unconscious psychic vampires the same way you were born an untrained clairvoyant. Second sight.
Stephanie was born an untrained psychic vampire. Which is to say a parasite. She does not generate enough psychic energy to survive on her own. So she is deficient. She is a black void that must be filled. She is negativity that pulls positivity toward her like a magnet. Therefore, she instinctively feeds off her opposite. The moment she beheld your shining radiance and felt your positivity of talent and genius she was drawn toward you — to feed. Not to admire. Not to support. Not to adore. To feed.
Neither of you are trained. But your second sight does not negatively impact others. Quite the contrary. You untrained second sight makes you far sighted in terms of looking at life. Very far sighted. Her unconscious and instinctive psychic ability to drain energy away from others either in crowds or personally by close association does impact. She feed off others. Devours them. Depletes them. It is not ethical. Your wife should be told and lectured and you should not live with her. She is impacting your well being very negatively.”
“I already know that. I knew she was narcissistic” Rudolph explained. “But I did not realize my wife could unconsciously feed off my body’s energy. That is a distressingly novel concept I will have to ponder. I do know she hates me enough to fantasize murdering me.”
“Yes. I taste that too. Her imprint on you. Her negative bruising of your psychic energy. Your black and blue soul. Your soul bruises so very easy. She does not have the self control or ethics to not abuse those she feds upon. And she is compelled to abuse those she need to be nourished by feeding upon. That is the difference between Stephanie and myself.”
“Sadistic masochistic” Rudolph said. “She certainly has always gotten a sort of perverse thrill out of walloping me. I never could understand why. I tried to not excite her or yell or complain. But no matter how much I simply try to present a flattened target she finds some excuse to hurt me. But I cannot hit her back. It sounds silly. I feel that as a gentleman I should not hit women. But Stephanie is no gentlewoman. What else did you feel as our souls merged?”
“One other odd thing. Did you know an Ibbur is cohabiting inside of you?”
“What is that? A clinging ghost like a dybbuk?” Rudolph asked.
“Hard to say from my momentary merger with your soul Brigadier. I sensed a second soul inside your soul. Hiding in a small forgotten room. Hum. How can I describe the fleeting impression which I tasted? It was as if I was in a dusty and forgotten room in a distant palace. The Hofburg perhaps. Dusty. Shrouds covering the furniture and chandeliers. Dust all over the floor except for small footprints. A boy standing on a chair and staring into a smoky mirror of some strange patina clouded by time. And staring back at him is a small girl. Perhaps two? Not more than three! Almost your alter ego. Almost a doppelganger. Sister perhaps? She is scared. Lost. Desperate. Hiding. Hiding inside of you. She is not evil. She is psychic energy such as a ghost has certainly. She clings like delicate cobwebs. She is very delicate. Fragile. Scared. Lost. I think she died very young and scared. She got lost. She could not find her way toward the shining door to the other side. So she mistook your shining presence for the shining door to the other side. But now she is scared and hiding and lost in the darkness inside of you. I don’t think she knows where she is. She is just lost.”
“Could she be my long ago dead baby sister Sophie?” Rudolph said. “She died in Hungary. Sisi insisted on taking her children to Hungary for a big pomp and circumstances event. To show off. To spite Archduchess Sophie who was her mother-in-law. To show Francis Joseph she was boss and not his mother. To piss off Grandmother Sophie. My little sister Sophie who was Grandmother’s namesake. And then she died of an illness. Sisi should not have taken little Sophie or Gisela out of Vienna. Both were sick. They were obviously sick. For once Archduchess Sophie was entirely right to protest. It was a gesture of power on Sisi’s part. And my little sister died because Sisi had to piss off her mother-in-law.
My mother Sisi has never ever been known for her material instincts whatsoever except toward Valerie the Bed Pan Miracle. And she only loved Valerie because she is the Bed Pan Miracle. In fact my mother hates Gisela and me. Hates us. Sisi hates sex you see. Procreation. Pregnancy. Giving birth. Being fat. Bloated. The fear and pain of birth. The swollen breasts after birth. The fear of not having an eighteen inch waist. It disgusted and terrified her. And we were the byproduct of sex which she equates with rape. During each pregnancy she behaved irrationally. Riding when obviously pregnant. Refusing to eat. Starving her baby in her womb. Trying to miscarry. All but denying we came from inside of her or else loathing us for being parasites eating her insides. I was born prematurely and underweight. She had a total mental and physical breakdown after giving birth to me.
Three times I was at death’s door and she never came near me. She was ordered by Latour to save me or else he would report her to the world as a child killer. She was blackmailed into finally saving my life from the ‘Brutal Colonel’ who was literally killing me. But she has never ever voluntarily touched me. She hates it if I try to hug her or even kiss her hand. She loathes the touch of me. And she hates Gisela’s children enough to try once to indirectly kill them by exposing them to deliberate contagion. I am sure she never gave a damn for Sophie if she never gave a damn for Gisela and me. I wonder if the poor tyke sensed that Sisi probably hated her too. She might have been sick and scared of leaving her nursery to be dragged off to Hungary by a person she only knew as The Very Remote and Beautiful Lady.”
“The Ibbur might be her. Little Sophie. Very small. Very scared. Lost. Lost inside of you now. Not malicious. But clinging to you. Scared. So she is clinging to you. I don’t know how else to describe it.”
“Thank you for your psychic reading King Carol. It was indeed a most amazing scientific experiment indeed!”
“And the Order of the Dragon would actually like to initiate you into its celebrated ranks” King Carol said. “Consider it like the Order of the Garter. Same difference.”
“Queen Victoria declined me for the Garter” Rudolph said. “Too callow. The Garter must be earned. But I would be honored to be induced into the Order of the Dragon as long as it is not officially a secret organization. My military rank forbids membership in secret organizations. I cannot join the Freemasons for the same reason. I had to drop out of the Ledger of Conquests founded by Count Bombelles because it featured a secret password between members. A wink.”
“We have a ceremonial part of the Order which boasts a public face pretty much like the Garter so your military prohibition won’t be triggered at all. It is reward for work well done. It is an acknowledgment of good deeds. It is duty done nobly and obligations toward humanity assumed and discharged with valor. It is magnanimous big hearted kindness done without profit or reward. It is doing the needful thing. Stephanie cannot attend but only because she is a rogue Psychic Vampire. I would like to celebrate your gracious support toward Romania in general and your sensitive understanding of the paranormal and supernatural in particular. You treat the unexplained as science simply not researched. You do not deny or despise things that appear bizarre out of hand. You treat the unexplained as simply that which is not yet explained. And of course you are a Dhampir which would normally would qualify you to be a full member except for your military prohibition.”
“What is a Dhampir?” Rudolph asked.
“Son of a Vampire” King Carol said. “Therefore by birth The Slayer of Evil.”
“But I am not a son of a Vampire” Rudolph said. “I only have red hair. Father is totally devoid of imagination but he is not a vampire. Mother is totally devoid of maternal instincts and is crazy but she is not a vampire. Both are narcissistic but that is not vampirism.”
“Yes. I am perplexed why you are a Dhampir but there it is. And not even a 7th son! The handler of the special wolf hounds you borrowed for the hunt on the Field of Gold told me you were a Dhampir and so have every member of the Order of the Dragon you have met. Misha sniffs you as a Dhampir or else the wolf hound would not have chosen to stay by your side. So have the Solomonari of Wise Ones. But they too are puzzled why you are a Dhampir. A Slayer of Evil.
You have second sight. You are brave in the face of your fear. I do not trust boasters who claim not to know fear. They are dangerous. The true valor is that which is done while tasting fear like blood in your mouth. Your sense of duty is fearsome. Your self sacrifice and concern for the welfare of ordinary people is famous. Your loyalty to your friends is noble. But that by itself would not prove you are a Dhampir. A Slayer of Evil. It is a mystery why you are a Dhampir. A Son of a Vampire who is born able to slay that which no Mundane can slay. But there it is. It is a mystery. But as you cannot be inducted into a secret organization it does not matter. We can however give you the Heart Of The Dragon in a public ceremony in acknowledgment for all of your deeds in helping the Hinterlands and the Borderlands as if they were your own Heartlands. You have a big heart Brigadier.” King Carol suddenly embraced Rudolph and then wiped a tear away from one of his flashing black eyes. “Shall we return to the party?”