Bloodhound

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Chapter 12

“As we have quite a distance yet to drive, I will recite the story as I know it in full to you. Now, one of the more well-known characters of the story of the lykanthropos, which is Greek by the way, was Dr. Abraham Van Helsing himself. A physician, a scientist, and somewhat of a detective in his own right, Van Helsing had a promising, mostly normal life until about 1885. Comfortable in his middle age, Van Helsing was summoned to travel to the Baltics to investigate and hopefully cure a strange ailment afflicting the daughter of an affluent family there. So, Dr. Van Helsing traveled to Transylvania, the popular region of Romania for fictional works that would follow, to the house of Dominik Veritas. Lord Veritas’ daughter, Livia, had since gone missing during Van Helsing’s journey. For several days, she had displayed strange symptoms. Her skin had paled, her voice had become a hoarse whisper, her eyes had yellowed, and she had very clearly been in pain which had increased with each day. Van Helsing was concerned by Livia’s sudden disappearance. It was possible she had begun to experience some delirium, or maybe she had snuck out of the house and away from her watchful family to kill herself and end her pain. Both seemed to be plausible.”

“A skilled hunter, among many other talents, Van Helsing set out into the wilderness with a hunting dog borrowed from the estate. It was a day later when he returned to Lord Veritas alone. The doctor was disheveled, as if he had been beaten and left out in a storm overnight. He was also quite angry as the story goes and demanded the full explanation from his host concerning Livia’s disappearance. Van Helsing reported that he had been attacked by an unnatural being, barely escaped with his life, and knew for certain that Lord Veritas had kept the facts of the matter from him. Dominik Veritas is said to have fell to his knees in tears, shouting out for his daughter before regaining himself and giving Van Helsing the full account of the family’s circumstance.”

“The Veritas family was an old Roman one, having left their roots centuries earlier with legendary purpose, much as King Arthur had to Britain. Sir Gabriel Veritas, a knight of exceptional skill belonging to the Order of the Black Wolf was dispatched to Transylvania to eliminate the threat posed by Count Dracula, a new pawn of the darkness on the board. Dracula, once known as a famed war hero himself – Vlad the Impaler; had reportedly made a deal with the devil, the details of which were murky. It was believed that the Transylvanian prince had gained supernatural abilities in exchange for his soul, abilities which he had allegedly used to wipe out a Turkish invasion force that had trespassed into his lands, and subsequently he had begun killing innocent people for unknown reasons. And so Sir Gabriel Veritas had traveled to Transylvania to find and kill Count Dracula. Ultimately, he was unsuccessful. No sword, no projectile, no amount of strength, poison, nothing seemed to prove fatal to his target. Gabriel settled for putting down roots in the area eventually, assured that he could decrease Dracula’s frequent appearances through his own persistent presence and hostility towards the foe. If he could not kill the monster, at least he could keep him in check. Gabriel Veritas seemed to be successful in his secondary endeavor, indeed Dracula remained unseen for a few hundred years following the Veritas family settling in to the region. Yes, Gabriel Veritas married, had children, a descendant of which was Lord Dominik Veritas, the more fearful of his line whom Van Helsing had managed to coax this very history out of. Lord Dominik explained to Van Helsing that he thought for certain his daughter had been turned by Dracula himself and was now a vampire - the ultimate wound to the Veritas family.”

“Now Van Helsing was a proper scientist and historian, and he had a firm understanding of nature and its inner workings. As most in such professions do, Van Helsing recognized that when an organism rises to absolute power in an environment, it becomes a danger to the environment as a whole. Nature then finds a way to bring the overpowered or overpopulated organism back into control, much like what we attempt today with assisting the immigration of one species to destroy another lesser desired one. Van Helsing spent days studying the region to find that in 1492, about thirty years after Count Dracula was rumored to have gained his hellish powers, reports of werewolves began to litter community histories. Could it be that nature, or some other force even, had recognized the danger Dracula presented to the world and thus had allowed another being to enter the world to instigate his demise? The thought was surely exciting to the doctor and, being the risk taker that he was, Van Helsing decided to test his theory in what we call today a very “hands-on” fashion. In the hopes of gaining abilities of his own to defeat Dracula, he traveled to a place very near Alta, a city in what is now Norway, and tracked down a small band of nomadic people called the Marrokis, of which I suspect you are descended. The Marrokis, as I said, were a nomadic people who were purported to be lykanthropos of a particular quality suited to Van Helsing’s end. They retained consciousness, their ability to control the beast they became was remarkable given the lack thereof in the other three species of werewolves. Obviously they could not help him, the beast is genetic. There is no hocus pocus to share the ability as Van Helsing had hoped. No indeed, he returned empty handed but as determined as ever to end Dracula's life.”

“So Van Helsing returned to Transylvania and took to his task by other means. He armed himself with an oak spear, a silver tipped dagger, a flask of holy water, and a crucifix. The doctor was not sure how much of the legend was true, but hopefully some of the Count’s weaknesses had been accurately recorded. Legend has it that Van Helsing took several weeks to find the vampire’s castle and infiltrate it. His initial attempt was unsuccessful and so he fled the castle, only for Dracula to pursue him into the forest. In a stroke of luck, the wounded Van Helsing landed a blow to stagger his pursuer, but Dracula intended to kill Van Helsing and so he came towards him, taunting him as he did so. As the story goes, a large wolf-like creature leaped from the brush and pummeled Dracula into a tree, rendering him incapacitated. Van Helsing then quickly regained himself and dragged the seemingly lifeless body of the vampire to a river just a few feet away and dropped him in.”

“The wolf-like creature was a Marroki woman who had heard Van Helsing’s plea in Norway. She feared the mortal man would attempt to defeat Dracula on his own and so she had made the journey behind him hoping to keep him from what she perceived to be a certain death. The two had a short affair during their time in Transylvania, out of which a baby was born. Van Helsing was not destined for family life and consequently the woman and the child returned to their home near Alta. Rumor has it that Van Helsing was reunited with his offspring later in life, but there is little record of such family matters in mythic annals.”

“As for Dracula, his time at the bottom of the river was not permanent, not where he was dropped in by the famous vampire slayer anyway. The body was never recovered. Some studies by professionals in my own field suggest that drowning is only a temporary solution to a vampire’s life, and that removal of the body from the water may revive the vampire. It is also possible that Dracula’s body was simply idled along by the current and carried off somewhere else. It’s currently agreed upon that nobody has legitimate proof to accurately suggest anything concerning his real fate or whereabouts.”

“You think I am some distant descendant of this Dr. Van Helsing?” Marrok asked.

“Oh, I have no idea my boy,” replied Dr. Elder. “I suppose it’s possible.”

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