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Child of the Night

Child of the Night, Part One
The Year of Our Lord, 1460
Castle Draculea, Wallachia

"My lord, you must marry, and soon."

Count Vlad Tepes Draculea, Wallachian prince and ruler of Wallachia, slammed his gilded goblet down upon the table, dark red wine sloshing from its side to stain the rich linen tablecloth. He scowled at the old man his father had, before his death, charged with advising him. "Why, Stefan? Why must I?"

Stefan sighed wearily. The young prince was a headstrong man, much as his father had been. That was why the elder Dracul had placed much of the power of his estates in the hand of Stefan, his trusted steward, before he passed away, leaving it to his son, Vlad.

Vlad was not a stupid man, but he was... self indulgent, for all he was a fine warrior. He had avoided marrying and bringing a rich dowery to his family for far longer than most youths of the royal class. He was in his early thirties, middle aged for this time.

And he was not doing his duty to his bloodline. He had no heir, either legitimate, or born on the wrong side of the blanket. This rather puzzled Stefan. Vlad's father had left a liberal scattering of bastards among the peasants, though thankfully all had been girls. A boy child might have been... awkward. And, while Vlad was far from sedate, he did not seem to have his father's taste for womanizing.

While Stefan approved of the fact that the prince did not go a-whoring, he was still surprised that the palace wenches seemed to be safe from his attentions. While his companions disported themselves, wallowing in the carnal delights of female flesh, Vlad seemed to be content to roister with his friends and vassals.

Still, he must marry, and an heir must be produced. More than one, if possible. The infants died so easily these days...

"I have explained before, my lord. It is your sacred duty to produce more of your line. The Dracul have always been dedicated to the service of the Holy Mother Church. To deprive it of more of your bloodline would be a sin. And, wealthy though you are, the family coffers would benefit from a fat dowery."

Vlad's scowl deepened. The prince was a strikingly handsome man. He was tall, taller by a head than most men, and his body was kept lean and hard from the daily practice of his warrior's arts. His arms were thick with muscle from swinging the heavy double edged sword, his legs and back strong from learning to move quickly in the heavy battle armor. His hands were large and callused from gripping sword, spear, and mace in countless hours of practice, his fingertips roughened from drawing bowstrings in archery.

His hair was thick, falling over his shoulders in glossy black waves and curls that would be the envy of any daughter of Eve. His eyes were the crystaline blue of the sky in winter, unusual among a generally dark eyed people. These features might have made him look feminine, but instead they only enhanced his pure, masculine beauty. He had the face of an angel, with a lightly cleft chin, and a strong jaw. No, perhaps not an angel... unless it was a fallen one. The mouth was wrong for a celestial being. Far too sensuous and often cruel.

Taken all in all, he was the sort of man to lead even the best of women (poor, weak creatures that they were) to temptation. And yet he was unmarried at an age when many men were already expecting their first grandchild. This would not do.

Draculea snorted. "So, you will have me tie myself to a cow, and have her produce whelps to carry on the name? And while I am at it, I must choose one who will give rich milk."

Stefan sighed. "Marriage is man's natural state, my lord. You fly in the face of God Himself by scorning it, since you have not taken Holy Orders. The bible admonishes us to be fruitful, and multiply. I cannot understand your reluctance. It will not tie you down. You know as well as any how a marriage in your class can be. You have your parents for an example, if nothing else."

Yes, his parents certainly had been proof that marriage need not mean one was bound to their spouse in aught but legal terms. His parents had occupied the same castle, but they might as well have lived in seperate worlds for all they interacted. His mother had been raised in a convent, as was customary for many women of gentle birth, and had known nothing of men till she was presented to his father on their wedding day. That one night had convinced her that she wanted as little to do with men as possible thereafter.

Unfortunately, this included the son she bore almost nine months to the day after she was painfully, and messily deflowered by her groom.

His mother had her ladies, her garden, and her needlework, and he saw her every few days, for a few moments. Occasionally there were pats on the head, and vague inquiries about lessons and training. These died to a trickle, then ceased when he became a teenager, and took on the physical aspect of a man. When his mother finally died of some form of fever or other, he had not seen her for almost a year, though they had lived in the same castle.

Vlad grew up in the rough company of his father, his father's friends, and his father's soldiers and servants. A man's world.

Oh, there were women. Wherever there are men who follow the path of war, there will be women of less than pure virtue to satisfy their physical wants.

Vlad had, of course, sampled their charms. His father had pushed him into bed with a plump whore when he was all of fourteen, and he had acquitted himself well. It had been a mildly enjoyable experience, and he repeated it from time to time. Truly gratifying sexual pleasure had been found... elsewhere.

Still... a son. Yes, he would like to have a son. A child to be raised and taught.

"All right, Stefan. I grant you your wish. I will marry."

Stefan beamed in relief. "Excellent, my lord. Who is the lucky woman you will grace with your offer?"

He shrugged, sipping his wine again. "Oh, I do not particularly care. As long as she is not too damnably ugly, or too poisonous of temper. Young, I suppose, since you want heirs. Of noble blood, of course. A long bloodline, and a fat dowery would help. Have you any suggestions?"

"I do, in fact. There is one very likely candidate I wish to offer for your approval."

He rolled his eyes. "And who would this marvel be?"

"Elizabeta Varga, daughter of Ernestu Varga. While, of course, they do not have the illustrious history of your own family, my lord, they are noble indeed."

"Hm. And what virtues does this woman possess to make her worthy of the Draculea name?"

"Aside from her proud family background, her father offers near two hundred acres of rich crop land, a cash dowery of three hundred gold pieces, a full wardrobe, five fine horses, and a choice of servants from his own household to attend her in her new home."

"Well, her material goods are acceptable. What of her person? Her personality?"

"It is said that she is quite beautiful, my lord. She is just eighteen, all her childbearing years ahead. As to her temperament... I cannot say. I do know that she can read and write, a rare enough accomplishment for a woman, and one I am not sure is exactly pious. In this case, however, I believe it to be harmless."

"So you think I should marry her?"

"I think you should consider it, my lord. Carefully."

"Hm." He drained the last of his wine. "I suppose you'd better arrange a visit to her father's house so I can see if I will be able to stomach her. Her father would be agreeable to the match?"

He bowed. "Her father would be most eager. She is the youngest of his brood. The others are already established in life, and he wishes to push this last fledgeling out of the nest."

"Write him, then, Stefan. 'At his earliest convenience... Beg his hospitality...' The usual proper drivel."

Stefen bowed again. "I hope you are not offended, my lord, but I have already sent a message to Varga. He will be delighted to receive you and whatever party you bring. I suggest we leave tomorrow, and we can be at his home in less than a week."

Vlad paused in the act of pouring more wine. "Dog!" he growled. "And how long have you been planning this?" Stefan merely smiled. "Judas, you are a sly one. Very well, begin arrangements."

"At once, my lord."

As he was leaving, Vlad called, "Send in one of the footmen."

"Any particular one, my lord?"

He waved lazily, sipping. "It makes no difference."

Stefan left. A few minutes later, a burly man dressed in the colors of the prince's servants entered the room. He stopped at the door, head down, waiting for his lord to acknowledge him, and instruct him.

Vlad looked him over absently, noting the sturdy limbs and neat appearance. He looked a little familiar. "Lock the door and come here." The man obeyed, and came to stand before the table where Vlad was seated. "No, no. Around here, by me."

The man came around the table. The prince turned in his chair to face him, and again studied him. "I know you."

"I am Dmitri, Lord. M'lord has been pleased to use my services several times."

"Yes, I remember now." Good skin, clean hair, all of his teeth. He'll do. The older man worked the laces on his breeches, opening them. Reaching in, he eased out his cock. It was half hard, but pulsing quickly toward a full erection. "I require your ministrations again, Dmitri."

Without a word, Dmitri sank to his knees before the other man. He moved forward and began licking the flushed, swollen head of his master's prick, then took him into his mouth and suckled gently, listening to the appreciative groan. Settling in, he began to service Prince Vlad Tepes Draculea in a manner that would never have occured to his illustrious father.

Chapter Two