His heart matched the tumultuous times into which he was born, for it had the blood of a Dragon coursing through it. Every two minutes, a black and venomous fluid oiled its way through his body and returned to the heart, more hateful and fouler than when it left. It poisoned him and sustained him. He fed on death.
As a child, his heart had not yet grown dark and he absorbed all the duties of a Christian knight. Wladislaus was taught by his father to trust in no man. At the age of thirteen he learned the truth of that lesson: that “no man” included his father. He was sent along with his younger brother to Adrianople as hostages to the Sultan in return for Turkish support of his father’s ambitions.
But he wasn’t a willing guest and he refused to accept his role. In chains, he watched the traitorous conversion of his brother to Islam. In prison, he learned of his father’s betrayal by his boyar allies and his subsequent murder by the Hungarian king. These things pained him infinitely more than the daily beatings and torture he accepted from his hosts.
He’d prayed for peace but none came. Only more hate. He longed for good but found none anywhere in his life and his hatred extended for having just been born. “Trust no man” became “trust no one.” Only “he” would ever again be the arbiter of justice, of good: his good. He remembered every face, every place, and every name that would someday pay at his hand for their treachery.
And then, around December 2, 1448, just after his seventeenth birthday, the door opened to his sunless cell and he was freed. The story of the remade Wladislaus - Vlad the Impaler, Dracula - would begin.