Written by Gary Cohn
have used many names in my long life. I go by a false name right now...but
my real name is Vladimira. Countess Vladimira.
I come by both the name and title honestly, for y father was royalty. A count, in factCount Vlad of Walachia. Perhaps you know him as Vlad Tepes, Dracul...Dracula.
Under rare circumstances a true vampire can become a father. During six centuries of undead life, Dracula has several times taken mortal mistresses who he has refused to turn into vampires so that they may bear him heirs. My mother was one of those mistresses.
I was born in England in 1837. I have lost nearly every recollection of my mother, who died young under mysterious circumstances. But I know that I was raised by governesses, and, for a very brief period, by my father himself. We had, and still have, a very mixed relationship, very much a love/hate connection. My earliest memory of him is of his fierce, beautiful, terrifying face looming in front of mine as he insisted, "Drink the blood! Drink the blood!" I didn't do it, but cried instead, and I remember him handing me to the governess in disgust, and grimacing as I slurped down a glass of milk.
I'm not a true vampire, you seeI'm a half-mortal hybrid. There are certain advantages to this...and certain disadvantages. I don't have most of a real vampire's weaknesses. I don't have the all-consuming blood thirst that makes them murderous slaves to their desire. I don't have a problem with sunlight...although I sunburn easily. Running water, crucifixes, garlicnone of these things are particularly terrifying for me...in fact, I make a pretty fine plate of shrimp and pasta in garlic butter sauce. I wouldn't want to be impaled with a wooden stake...but then neither would you, and you're not a vampire...are you?
On the downside, I'm not naturally immortal, although I will live for a very long time if I just...oh, I'll get to that a bit later. I'm always meno miraculous transformations to wolf or bat or mist. My mesmerizing abilities are a lot weaker than Dad's...unless you factor in my ability to dazzle you with my beauty. What I did get from my father is supernatural strength, stealth, and reflexes, and near-invulnerability. And that chance to live a very long time.
The reason Dracula wanted me to drink blood was because human blood can preserve my youth indefinitely. What he didn't realize was that blood alone won't do it. In the early 1870s, I met Johann, who I think was another of Dracula's offspring...he died before he could tell me...but that's another story.
Johann was much older than I, although he didn't look more than forty. He was an alchemist, and several centuries ago he'd created a potion that, when combined with blood, would make him immortal. I guess we just have the gene for it, or something, because it doesn't work for full-humansI've experimented on some of my human lovers, and it aged them overnight. But on half-human/half-vampires it works wonderfully. The only problem is that we have to drink the elixir at least twice a week...otherwise our age starts to catch up to us at the rate of one year every week. There are only a few of us who know how to mix the elixir, and we keep the formula very secret.
I have lived all over the world, but in the 1920s I made the United States my home. There is something about the dynamic spirit of this country that has always appealed to me, and no matter where I roam, I always return to the States. After more than seventy years as an American, I have lost all traces of my English and Walachian accents.
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VLADIMIRA is copyright © and trademark 2003 Avery Misuraca.
COUNTESS VLADIMIRA: BLOOD RELATIONS published by Peregrine Entertainment with permission.
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