I have always been alone. Even when in vast crowds.
I have always been strange. Even though I have been told otherwise.
I have always been feared. Even though others try to hide it.
I have never truly been loved. Even though my mother tried her hardest.
Why do I deserve this? What did I do? What did I say? Who am I? I don't want to be alone. I don't want to be strange. I don't want to be feared. I just…I just…want to be loved. Is that so wrong? Is it evil to want to be accepted?
Am I evil?
I have been told so. Many times.
Devil spawn. Hell's child. Warlock. Demon. Among...others I would I rather not think about.
Why is this, do you ask? Why, that is simple.
When I was born, a traveling monk told my parents that I should be killed, that I would help bring disaster to the land. My mother refused, my father agreed. My mother was brave. She begged her husband to allow her to spend two days with her newborn son, me. He gave her permission to do so on the understanding that she would reliquish me to him on third day for my execution.
But my mother was clever as well as brave. The second night, she fled her home, her family, her husband, everything she knew, and took me to relative safety in the form of a small, ramshackle hut near a tiny town, hardly big enough to be called such. She stayed there with me, raised me, loved me…or tried to.
I may have been young, but I could always tell that she was never truly comfortable with me. There are some things children can just sense. This was one of them. My mother…I truly believe she tried her best to love me with all her heart and soul. But every time she looked at me, she seemed like she was watching me through a glass window like the ones at the local chapel. When she held me, it seemed as if she was afraid to touch me too much, as if she was afraid I would shatter. When she spoke, it was as if she were about to cry.
But that was not all, no. There was more, much more.
The townsfolk were wary of my mother and I in the beginning, but when they learned of her knowledge of herbal lore and gift of healing, they began to accept her little by little. I, on the other hand, was an enigma. The town children would stare at me like I had spoken a foreign language when I would ask to play with them. The adults grudgingly tolerated my presence due to their need of my mother's skills.
But I could tell. Even at such a tender age, I could tell. I knew. I was not blind. I was not deaf. I saw their stares. I heard their whispers.
I was only eight years of age when it happened. It was clear that day. I remember the sun was shining brightly in the crystal clear blue sky. The breeze was cool in the mid Spring air. There were clouds to the East, but I ignored them. I was busy gathering flowers for my mother. She had been quiet of late, smiling less than usual. I wanted to see her smile. I liked her smile. It made me feel better.
I could only find a few daisies and dandelions, but I was proud of my little bouquet. I started home and had only just crested the hill when I saw the crowd. They carried torches and were yelling. My naïve mind could think of no other explanation but that the people were having a celebration of some sort. Why did they not invite me, I wondered. Does Mother know?
I ran as fast as my feet could carry me back to our little cot…only to find it burnt to the ground. I became frightened. Where was Mother? Was she unscathed?
I remembered the crowd, and decided to go to town to find Mother. Perhaps she was already there in search of me. I had to find her.
I did find her. What was left of her.
I saw the flames, I heard the screams of intense agony, but my mind could not accept it. Why was my mother on fire? Why was she tied to a stake? Only witches were killed that way.
Then I heard what the crowd was shouting and my blood ran cold. Terrified I dropped my precious bouquet and fled. Someone must have seen me, because when I turned to look back I was being chased. Although I was only eight, I was adept at running and my level of stamina was high. But my speed lacked.
I knew, I still know, that there was no doubt I would be caught…unless I dared to go where they would not. The fringes of the Forest of Jigramunt lay only a short distance from town. I ran. They followed.
I entered the forest, they stopped at its borders. I did not stop to be sure they would not continue the chase. I ran on, and on, and on, until I could run no more.
I must have collapsed from exhaustion because, upon opening my eyes, I was startled to find myself face down on a floor of leaf covered dirt and roofed by thick branched trees. It was not until my senses returned completely that I remembered how I got there.
Then I wept. I screamed. I ranted. I got to my feet and walked. And walked, and walked. I traveled from town to town, from village to village, from city to city, for several years. I lived off the land. I trusted no one, and everyone.
Until I turned twelve.
Perhaps it was my innocent naivety that first brought me to his attention, perhaps not. I guess I shall never know. I guess it is not important.
What is important is that I met him. The one person I came to accept, the one person I came to trust, the one person I came to love more than anything in the world.
He taught me everything I know and so much more. I owe him my life. A debt I can never truly repay.
He became the father I never knew, the friend I never had, the lover I never understood.
What was his name, you ask?
Why, it was widely known throughout the land, whispered only in dark alleyways with the upmost fear. It was his name that started me on the path my life was destined to take. A seemingly endless path filled with eternal darkness, constant suffering, and a faint glimmer of hope.
I became a tiny flame wavering in an all encompassing, physical darkness whose one and only goal was to watch my tiny light flicker weakly against it in a desperate attempt to continue its shine, before it tires of watching my suffering and snuffs me out without a second thought.
What was my friend's, my father's, my savior's, my lord's, my Master's name?
Count Dracula of Castlevania.
What is my name?