A Tale of Vlad the Impaler
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
The most terrifying horrors are revealed in the pages of history.
After killing over 100,000 people during his first reign as Prince of Walachia, Vlad has returned, ready to inflict tortuous death on anyone he chooses. Only Nicolae and Maria, drawn together through mutual tragedies both inflicted by the ruthless Prince Dracula, dare try to stop him. Can Nicolae fulfill his plan of justice and revenge while winning the heart of the lovely Maria, or will he become the Impaler’s next victim?
With heart-stopping danger at every turn, detailed historical accuracy combined with fictional characters, and a myriad of surprises, Tribute in Blood is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Order this historical thriller romance today!
Publisher: Independently Published
Tropes: Dark Lord, Humanity is Dangerous, Humanity is Good, Person in Distress, Quest
Word Count: 97,618
Setting: late 1400's Walachia (Romania)
Languages Available: English
Vapor rose from the black water as Nicolae Anton floated down the Arges River toward the Danube. He came ashore when he thought he was far enough south and headed east through some farming country. Spying a darkened barn, he crept in and wrapped himself in a horse’s blanket to dry. Afraid of being caught there, Nicolae grabbed a handful of the oats which looked mighty good to him by then, crammed them into his pocket, and was on his way. After crossing the Dimbovita River, he found the road to Tirgoviste and followed its path from a safe distance amid the trees and bushes. By mid-afternoon, when he could see the buildings of the city ahead, the exhausted youth took refuge in an old abandoned corn crib and slept.READ MORE
In the very early morning, before anyone was out, Nicolae traipsed up the highway leading to the city, his gut churning with nerves. He had been this way several times before when traveling to and from Cozia, but this time something seemed different. A meadow was supposed to lie on that hill to his left, yet tall, grim figures pointed skyward, trailing their tree-like black shadows. Nicolae’s stomach tightened as he veered off the roadway and walked toward the recent growth of forest. Then, as the morning fog rose and shifted, terror seized Nicolae’s heart, and he stopped dead still in his tracks. They were not trees at all, but the corpses of the boyars hanging on high impaling spikes. A new ray of light hit the mist as it lofted up through the skeletal remains, creating a grisly, ghostly aura.
Nicolae’s hands and knees began to shake as he took in the scope of the scene. Men, women, servants... perhaps four hundred in all... a forest of the impaled... the death of the entire boyar class of Walachia. He wondered about those back at Poenari; was this their fate as well? He gazed on the spectacle before him as though it were an unreal thing, a hellish nightmare, or ghoulish vision. But reality hit when a crow landed on the body nearest him and proceeded to peck at the carrion. “No!” he shouted in horrific despair and disgust. “This did not happen!”
Nicolae’s heart rate accelerated, his stomach knotted tighter, and his head began to spin. He was forced to drop to the ground and lower his head between his knees lest he pass out. He tried to calm the erratic, shaky breaths, but it was as if all the boyar specters were staring at him, expecting him to free them.
The youth held his head in his hands until the spinning sensation began to dissipate. Then a burning, driving need overtook his being–he must find his parents. He was compelled to discover if they were here among the impaled. With relentless determination, his searing cobalt eyes set out to find his mother and father. He rose to step, then trot, then run through the ranks of ghastly victims. The sight was repulsive and the odor sickening, but Nicolae removed himself from the horrible surroundings, consumed with singleness of purpose.
It was not a simple undertaking. The eyes had been pecked out and much of the facial flesh eaten or weathered away. Hair remained a sign on most heads along with the distinctiveness of their dress. Nicolae arrested his memory and demanded that it recall what his parents had been wearing. He closed his eyes and saw them dancing together once again. Yes, of course, he thought as he desperately scanned the scores of bodies. For most, the pikes had been inserted through the buttocks and exited through the back, chest, or mouth, making for a slow and tortuous death that could last hours or days. Others were spiked through the gut or upside-down. One pike had even entered through the victim’s mouth as his bones hung inverted with limps dangling in an unnatural parody. But Nicolae had to shut out these nightmarish horrors to accomplish the task at hand.
Recognizing clothing would not be easy either. Blacks had become sun bleached and whites turned brownish-gray. The once-bright colors had faded, and strips had been torn from the cloth by wind, rain, and wild animals. The most identifying items would be his mother’s exquisite marama, his father’s light reddish-blond hair, and their jewelry. Most Walachians were Romanian–dark-complected from Mediterranean stock–but his father’s family contained Saxon blood. Nicolae had gotten the light sandy-brown hair color and his sister the red.
As the sun began to rise higher, Nicolae’s search became more frantic, for he knew he would have to hide soon. As he passed row after row of corpses, he began to have hope that they were not among the dead. All at once he halted in front of a stake. He swallowed hard as his eyes became transfixed with abhorrence, and his ashen face a mask of desperation. His knees quaked as his heart palpitations thundered within his chest. “Mama,” he lamented.
Nicolae dared to move his eyes to the figure beside her. “Tata,” he uttered in broken-hearted despair. Tears streamed down his face as he sensed his body becoming violently ill. The horror-stricken youth fell to his knees and bent toward the ground emitting dry heaves, for there was no food or drink in his stomach to come up. Their bodies were wasted, picked apart by scavengers, but he knew it was them. Bones protruded through in some places with pale, swollen tissue in others. Ants and flies crawled without and within their rotting forms. It was more than a son could bear to look upon.
“Oh, God!” he wailed, his face buried in his hands. “Why?” The orphaned youth began to sob uncontrollably, speaking whenever he could form the words. “Didn’t you tell him? You didn’t do it!” Then he felt like his father was right there, staring down at him in a convicting manner. “I tried to save her, Father... I tried,” he moaned between gut-wrenching sobs. “I carried her as long as I could, but I wasn’t strong enough. Oh, God, I tried, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough!” Then the boy broke down completely and fell upon the ground, recoiling in pain, consumed by agony.
As time passed, his weeping began to subside, and Nicolae wiped his face. Life returned to him in the form of a newness of purpose. He remembered his father’s last words to him and raised his head to reply. “I survived, Father; I did what you said, and I survived. It is for a reason–I know that–and I will continue to survive. I must leave now, Father, but one day I will return. Then Dracula, that son of the devil, will discover that the plan he devised has failed. He will know that Lord Nicolae of Cozia escaped his purge and I will punish him for what he has done here.” Exhibiting wrought-iron courage, young Nicolae stood on tip-toe and reached up to pull the signet ring from his father’s bony finger. No grave robbers had visited this haunted forest; they knew that the penalty for any crime under Vlad’s reign, even robbing the dead, was punishable by burning, boiling, disemboweling, or impalement. Any tortuous death would do for the cruel, sadistic despot who found amusement in watching his helpless victims die.
Nicolae tried the ring on, but it was much too large for his emaciated finger. The workers had been fed enough to live, but no more, and the already lanky youth had grown even thinner. So, he thrust the ring deep into his pocket and let out a mournful sigh.
In that instant, Nicolae heard a rustling in the grass behind him. He spun around wide-eyed, clenching his hands into fists. There, among the stakes, he spotted two dogs tugging on either end of a human leg bone. It was a repulsive sight that twisted his stomach and filled the youth with an even stronger loathing of Prince Vlad Dracula, the Impaler. He swallowed hard and with nerves on end uttered through clenched teeth these last words. “If he enjoys death so much, then I will give it to him!” The mist was rapidly dissipating under the warmth of the morning sun when Nicolae Anton turned and fled the forest of the impaled.
This novel is based on the history of the REAL Vlad Dracula, Prince of Walachia, who lived during the 1400's. The author added her own fictional characters, Nicolae of Cozia and Maria, so this story is a work of fiction. However, most of the other characters were real.
As the reviewer of my own web site, I took the liberty of placing this title under "Horror" instead of "Fiction" due to all the awful acts described in the book. Many impalings, massacres, acts of torture, etc. are revealed within these pages, all of which really happened in history. Yes, it is actually documented that Vlad would drink the blood of some of his victims, but NOT as Bram Stoker's vampire did. The truth can be found within the pages of this awesome novel.
** Author melodie Romeo did much historical research while creating this book. She more than earned the five stars I have rated it, not only for the research, but also for the well crafted story. I highly recommend it to all. **
Reviewed by Detra Fitch.
Suspense-thriller, historical romance with graphic realism. Good vs evil, only not so cut and dry.