Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dragon and the Griffin

Possible Dracula-Karnstein arms

The late 20th century proved a time of great tumult for the world, both natural and supernatural.  One particularly vexing problem faced by the dread entity known as Dracula Prime was the increasingly renegade nature of his soul clones.  Denrom, Mordante, Grimpod, Latos, Lejos and others at one time or another broke free of their master's control.  At the same time, vampire hunters increased in numbers, in sophistication and in organization.

One intriguing solution to much of the above involved an experiment that in many ways was the dark mirror of the League of Anti-Diabolists' success story with the soul-clone Grimpod, his daughter Lilith (or "Lilly), her husband Herman (the creature created by Dr. Frederick Frankenstein) and their adopted son, a boy tainted with lycanthropy they named Eddy.

As chronicled in the motion picture Nadja, the last child of the Italian branch of the Karnsteins--a melancholy young lady named Irina--fell into the company of Lejos, a soul-clone of Dracula.  He had (presumably still has) with the rare ability among vampires of being able to father children.  Recovering at this point from a battle with a werewolf soon after WW2, Lejos had fallen in love with a gypsy girl and by her had a son, Edgar.  Irina ended up virtually adopted by Lejos (whose idea this was remains a valid but unanswered
question) and she developed a strong emotional bond to Edgar her dhampir "brother."  In the end, sometime circa 1990 she enacted the same process as her mother when possessing Georgia, Leopold Karnstein's fiancee.  Irina/Enessa/Nadja took over the body of Edgar's lady love, and so married him.

Dracula Prime saw this rare, probably unique set of circumstances as an opportunity.  Two dhampirs had wed, and in the process one had created in effect a living soul-clone.  Neither Edgar nor his "sister" ever realized Lejos wasn't the real Dracula.  So neither expected to be kidnapped by agents of that entity, soon after confirming her pregnancy.  Brought to Transylvania, the son of Lejos found himself transformed into a full vampire, a soul-clone we might as well designate Dracula-Edgar.  His bride underwent a similar fate, but one with a twist.  In 1909 Lejos had met and vampirized Lucy Weston (as told in the 1931 motion picture Dracula) who somehow escaped the men focused on hunting down her sire.  She had found this dashing aristocrat very attractive and soon after became a willing servant of Dracula Prime deep in the heart of London.  Now, he had another use for her--as the template from which to create a
Dracula-Edgar & family
new soul-clone out of Edgar's pregnant wife!  A new being emerged, taking the name Magda Westenra, a vampire female fully capable of not only becoming pregnant but bringing that child to term!  She and Dracula-Edgar were to be the Adam and Eve of a new vampire species!

Next, the two were given a castle of their own, well as a Renfield to serve as their slave/servant.  Other controls were put into place, including (most importantly) a talisman of great power called the Blood Mirror.  This enchanted item is a mystical portal to some aspect of the Vampire Dimension, a means by which the vampiric aspects of this new family would be reinforced.  As the couple's first child, a girl named Ingrid, was born its need became apparent.  Ingrid seemed human in most ways, but close examination revealed the taint of vampirism dormant within every cell of her body.  In time, the Blood Mirror would activate that taint, transforming the eager girl into a fully-fledged nosferatu (proudly proclaiming herself The Princess of Darkness).  Soon after, a son named Vladimir ("Vlad" or "Vlady"for short) joined her, showing the identical
Magda's paramour as a child
signs.  He, however, showed little or no desire to be a vampire.  Quite the opposite!  Likewise the marriage (or union, since neither could recall a formal marriage ceremony) of Magda and Dracula-Edgar began to fall apart, not least given the latter's flagrantly sexist attitudes towards all females (including Ingrid).  Eventually, Magda ran off with a werewolf (there is some evidence this particular werewolf was none other than the very boy-child once adopted by the so-called Munsters).  In time, she even had a child by him, who showed his true heritage almost immediately by shifting into a wolf at the first full moon after his birth.
By then, Dracula-Edgar had fled Romania (in theory, ahead of a rampaging mob) and had taken up an abode in an old English castle.  Fortunately, one side-effect of Dracula's experiment was that this new kind of vampire could subsist on animal blood and even solid food (preferably raw meat).  Thus he was able to maintain a relatively low profile, at the same time demonstrating nearly the full range of Dracula Prime's powers.  Young Vlad began to show his own extra-human abilities by age thirteen, impressively being able to hypnotize even his own father!  Yet he continued to struggle with his own birthright, capable of genuine
Vladimir Dracula
friendship with the human beings he met (whom his father contemptuously called "Breathers") and with an honest streak that sometimes made him a target at school for being too nice!  More interestingly, he began to have prophetic dreams which attracted the attention of a vampiric cult called the Moksha Sect (as seen in The Death of Dracula #1 from Marvel Comics).  They have since dubbed him The Chosen One, destined to usher in a new age of the undead.

Moksah Sect Member
Sects, cults and factions within the covert society of the undead remain pretty much the norm.  Evidence suggests the Moksha, ascetics who starve themselves for the save of prophetic visions, enjoy relatively high regard--enough to get at least lip service from many.  Much of their reaction to Vlad stems from his ability to wear an ancient crown whose owner is held in much prestige--not least because the crown literally destroys anyone unworthy who dares to don it.  That a Dracula now wears it--even a teenager only indirectly related the Dark Prince--probably puts Vlad under Dracula Prime's protection.  For now.  Arguably the most powerful such sect is the Mystikos Sect,  in effect a cadre of vampires who function as businessmen and powers-behind-the-scenes in the human world.  Rumors of the existence may have led White Wolf Publishing into their using such as a template for the fictional  Camarilla (just as they may have turned the Moksha into the Inconnu).  Circumstantial evidence points to the Mystikos having been founded and led by the so-called Corvini vampire bloodline (as portrayed in Underworld).  Tentative evidence suggests Dracula-Edgar has relations with both Mytikos and Moksha Sects.

Erik van Helsing & son
Much of the story of Dracula-Edgar and his family, especially Vlad and Ingrid, continues to be fictionalized in a children's t.v. program called Young Dracula.  Keep in mind Marvel Comics also heavily fictionalizes events as well (some of these details came to light in the wake of an attempted coup against Dracula Prime, followed by an attempt to transform recent members of the Legion of the Strange  and probably others into vampires).  Thus the situation of one Erik van Helsing--whose marriage suffered from his dedication to hunting vampires and trying to train his son for the same--ended up played for laughs.

Ingrid Dracula
In at least one sense Dracula Prime's experiment would seem a resounding success.  Dracula-Edgar and his offspring have proven unusually powerful vampires, especially Vlad.   Yet more problematical, at least from the Dark Lord's viewpoint, is their relative humanity.  Dracula-Edgar for the most part seems as ruthless and cruel as might be desired, yet consistently shows real affection for his son as well as for some mere humans (albeit sometimes in very subtle ways) and even the child of his ex-partner, Magda (with whom he seems to 'enjoy' a love/hate/lust relationship).  His almost childish arrogance is probably no more than an annoyance in Dracula Prime's scheme of things.  Ingrid Dracula, who repeatedly vows to be the most evil vampire in history, fell in love with an ordinary human boy (and turned him--resulting in a blinding, vengeful rage after his destruction at the hands of professional hunters).  Likewise she showed gratitude to humans who were kind towards her, and even helped out her supposedly-despised brother on several occasions.  Vlad's open identification with humanity and desire for vampires to live with peace no doubt disturbs Dracula Prime very much, even as it offers hope for others--ironically enough, given that he is the offspring of the two of the most notorious family names in the long history of the undead.

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