By Elizabeth Stinebaugh


Kiera walked carefully into the enormous old castle. Not more than a year ago she'd left this place in a fit of rage. Her partner and secret love, Doctor Victor Frankenstein, had engaged in certain experiments that she believed to be wrong.

            "Even if you could bring him back, it wouldn't be a new person, he would be whoever's poor spirit remained trapped in the body you stole.", she had once scolded.

            "But my dear Kiera, this could change life. Don't you see? We would no longer have children die too young or mishap take the life of a great leader!", he had reasoned.

            "Victor, you have only reasoned within yourself how you were going to do this. Not once have you thought of the consequences. Especially with that deplorable financier, the Count.", she said. "I can't do this anymore." With that she had left Castle Frankenstein and indeed all of Romania entirely. Kiera was of Scotland, and had returned home for a few months. Rumors soon reached her by way of scientific colleagues that Victor had been murdered by a vampire. Since Kiera was one of only a few doctors who specialized in the supernatural, she decided to go and see what she could do. At this moment the castle did look abandoned.


            She opened the front doors with a great deal of effort and headed to the laboratory where Victor had spent a good part of his life. She heard the whirring of electric generators and frowned.

            "Victor?", she called walking up the staircase. "Victor, I've come back. I'm sorry I left so suddenly. I should have been more patient with you. I've brought back everything we need to continue both our projects."

            Noises continued from the laboratory. A figure stood in the entranceway. Kiera sighed heavily. She walked closer to it.

            "Victor, be reasonable. We can reconcile our differences and get back to work as friends.", she said approaching the figure. She was now only three feet away. "Can't we?"

            The figure whirled around. It was not Victor Frankenstein. He smiled evilly.

            "Count.", Kiera said with half a bow. She herself would have been royalty had Brittish interference not taken away Scotland's aristochracy.

            "Kiera. So good to see you again.", he replied bowing theatrically. "To what do I owe this honor?"

            "I'm here to see Victor. Nothing else.", she said coldly.

            "Victor is no longer under my..... observance.", he said. Kiera could tell by the tone in his voice that he had something to do with her friend's disappearance.

            "Then where is he?"

            "I do not know." He inched closer to her. Kiera took a few steps back and lowered her brow in confusement.

            "I know you did something to him, Count. I didn't trust you from the moment I heard of you.", she said almost in a growl.

            "Is that because we are of the same race?", he said with a grin. Kiera snarled and lunged at him. This took him by surpise and he was pinned against the wall by her.

            "What I suffer is because of my birth, not my choice. And may I remind you that a dahmpir is only half the wretched creature that you are.", she snarled.

            "You are unwise to upset me.", he warned calmly. Kiera looked at him for a moment anticipating his next move. He drew out away from her and caught her wrists behind her. "However,", he said leaning his head next to hers, "I am quite sure that you will prove most useful to my cause."

            "Bite me.", she spat.

            "Later, perhaps. My poor Marishka is gone, so I am in need of a new bride." He dragged her into the laboratory and called Igor to him. Kiera flinched at seeing the disgusting little man again. "Igor, find us something to make our guest comfortable until we can take her home.", he commanded.

            Igor disappeared for a moment and then re-appeared with a small brown bottle. Kiera recognized it. When sedating a patient it was common to inlist the aid of chloroform vapors. She struggled wildly to get away, but Dracula was emmensely stronger than her. She suddenly felt something in his jacket. It wasn't a dagger, but it had a point. She relaxed for a moment hoping he would lessen his grip. To her satisfaction he did just that. She backhanded him into the wall behind them and pulled out whatever it was. She gasped.

            "What is this?!", she cried looking at the enormous needle full of red fluid.

            "Give that to me!", he yelled and reached for her.

            "This is it, isn't it? The cure for the curse of the werewolf!", she realized.

            A scream from the cieling interrupted her epiffany. She looked up at the sky. The iron table that Victor had used to place his experimental 'man' was elevated to full heighth and holding a living being on it. Kiera immediately jumped at the chian leading up to it and scurried up. Dracula stood and growled. He had to stop her.


            On the roof, Kiera immediately plunged the needle into the suffering man's abdomen before hurriedly relesing him from the straps that held him. He took a moment to catch his breath.

            "Who are you?", he asked weakly.

            "I am Kiera Moorre. We must escape quickly." She led him to a staircase leading away from the roof. She had often used it to come down from stargazing. "Follow me and don't stop."

            A thud from behind them alerted them that someone had just joined them. Kiera's face twisted with rage. She turned and pelted the person. To her surprise it was not Dracula that caught her hand in defense, but another man.

            "That's not ladylike.", the man mused. A woman ran up beside him. "Hurry, we've got your brother now let's go."

            Before Kiera could ask who they were she and the man she had rescued hurried accross the moat via grappling hook and line. Kiera coughed and gagged as they landed in the middle of the remains of vampire children. The strange new man helped her stand.

            "Are you alright?", he asked.

            "Yes. Who are you?", she said still gasping.

            "Abraham Gabriel VanHelsing.", he replied. Her eyes widened. VanHelsing's reputation brought about mixed feelings.

            "Kiera Moorre.", she said.

            "Thank you for saving me.", th once werewolf said. "My name is Velkan, and this is my sister, Anna." Anna nodded with obvious gratitude to her.

            "What do we do now?", Anna asked.

            "I have to find a way to kill Dracula.", Van Helsing said. "First I'm going to see if Carl has made in progress in researching it."

            "Whatever we do, it needs to be quick, Dracula will follow us if we don't hurry.", Kiera observed. The group headed swiftly for the Valerious Fortress.


            At the top of Castle Frankenstein, Dracula sat seething in anger. His mind buzzed with a million Romanian curses. He had to destroy the Valerious family once and for all. Perhaps the appearance of his arch nemesis was a sign that the timing was perfect. Above all else at the moment, though, he wanted badly to silence Kiera.

The icy Romanian air cut through the thick velvet cloak that Kiera wore. When they reached the remains of an old windmill she huddled inside it for a moment to escape the cold and rain. Her heart now felt broken as it dawned on her fully that her best friend was surely dead. Since she was a sufficent distance away from the others she knelt and let out an inhuman scream. It startled Velkan and Anna, but VanHelsing knew that it had to have been Kiera. She remained kneeling under the rotting windmill until the others arrived. Velkan stood beside her.

            "He was eccentric, but he never hurt anyone! Why did I have to leave him?!", Kiera cried. Velkan wondered who she meant, but could already assume that it was Dracula who had killed them. He laid a hand on her shoulder.

            "Who is he that you speak of?", he asked.

            "Victor Frankenstein. He used to live in that castle you were in.", she explained. Velkan held back his looks of anger and disgust at the mention of this graverobber and lunatic. He thought it best to say nothing for now. Van Helsing and Anna stood a few feet away.

            "Dracula has broken the life of another.", Anna said at seeing Kiera's saddened form. "He must die."

            "Soon enough.", Van Helsing said. He picked up an old bottle of Absinthe and pulled out the cork. Just as he was about to take a much needed drink, the ground beneath all of them gave way. Velkan was firmly trapped under some boards, but everyone else seemed relatively unscathed. The strange items in this subterranean cave caught everyone's attention. A pile of animal remains, a Bible, and strange footprints. Kiera stayed beside Velkan as Van Helsing and Anna went to have a closer look.

            Suddenly, a huge man  attacked them. Anna gasped at realizing what it was.

            "Oh my God, the Frankenstein monster!", she cried. Kiera's heart leapt. Perhaps Victor might still be alive. She remembered in an instant what he had wanted to call his first creation.

            "Adam.", she said loudly. The monster turned to her. He clearly recognized her voice. The momentary distration gave VanHelsing time to shoot four of five darts into the poor creature's back. Kiera yelped and ran to him. "Adam, where is Victor? Where is your father?", she asked frantically.

            "Dead.", he replied sadly pointing to a makeshift cross over a mound of dirt in the cave. "Dracula killed him in a fit of rage."

            Kiera ignored everything that went on with everyone else in the cave and went slowly over to the grave. Laid on top of it was the beautiful dragon medallion she had given him as a sign of their eternal friendship. He had never taken it off. She carefully picked it up and laid it around her own neck. She said nothing and went back over to the others. Anna had taken out a pistol and was ready to kill Adam. Kiera hit Anna's hand flinging the gun several feet away.

            "What are you doing? We cannot let Dracula use him!", Anna cried.

            "Dracula was also using your brother, would you have killed him?", Kiera retorted. Anna was about to lash out when VanHelsing stepped in.

            "She's right, Anna. He's not evil. He doesn't deserve to die."

            "I don't care! Dracula will use him!", Anna exclaimed.

            "Not if he's protected.", Van Helsing explained. Kiera gave him a look of confusion. "If I can get him back to Rome there won't be anyway for Dracula to use him. Then I can get back to my mission."

            "How can we get him to Rome? It's not as though he can simply hire a carraige to take him.", Kiera reasoned.

            "Let me worry about that.", Van Helsing replied. From the opposite corner of the cave, Velkan let out a pained groan.

            "A little help here, please?", he said trying to move the boards and debris away from him.


            Dracula paced back and forth trying to figure out what to do. He remembered that he still had a slight hold over Velkan and decied to try to use it in finding out where the group of troublemakers had gone. He stood and concentrated deeply on Velkan before trying to see through his eyes. It was working.

            Velkan felt cold and ill as they prepared to leave. He wondered if maybe he'd caught a chill out in the rain. He held his head and carefully sat down as dizziness set in. His heart and mind raced. For a few moments he felt as if he had no idea who or where he was. Kiera came into his chamber to see about him and tell him that they were ready to leave. She noticed the strange look on his face.

            "Prince Velkan is something wrong? You're as pale as a moonbeam.", she said approaching him.

            "What is going on?", he asked in a soft and weak voice.

            Kiera eyed him cautiously.

            "Velkan, you must gather strength enough to at least get in the carraige. We're ready to go now.", she said.

            "Where are we going?", he murmurred as she helped him stand. This proved to be particularly difficlut since Kiera was only 5' even when standing very erect. Velkan was 6' 7' even at a glance.

            "Rome. We have to hurry.", she replied. A few seconds later his head cleared. He looked at Kiera with confusion. "What is it?", she asked.

            "Nothing. I feel fine. Let's go.", Velkan said with a tone of fear. He didn't know what had just happened, but it couldn't have been good.


            Dracula smiled as he released Velkan's mind. He swiftly walked over to his remaining two brides. They were still comforting each other.

            "My darlings, they have found the creature! They have the key we need!",he exclaimed. The two perked up excitedly. "You must go and retrieve him!"

            "Where are they, my lord?", Verona asked.

            "On their way to Rome. They will be to the west by the time you find them. Now, go! Quickly!", he commanded. Something in him told him to keep Verona behind. She was by far his favourite. Before he could even say a proper farewell to them, they were out the windows and flying rapidly over the mountain peaks.

            The carraige came to a halt as Van Helsing and Velkan fought with the two brides. A decoy carraige had already been destroyed and this was their last chance to get away with Adam. Anna jumped in to help them alongside Kiera. Kiera , unlike the other three, had no intention of killing either of them, but simply rendering them unconscious.  Verona threw Velkan accross the road and partially over the ledge. Velkan held onto the cliffs for dear life. Verona then pelted both Anna and Kiera against a large tree as Van Helsing drove a silver stake through her back and into her heart. Verona let out a final piercing shriek as her body dessentegrated into a small pile of ancient flesh.  He ignored her and ran over to Velkan, helping him stand.

            "Help!", Anna's voice came. "Help me!"

            Van Helsing and Velkan looked up in time to see Aleera carry off Kiera and Anna. She grasped one anke in each of her lower claws. Kiera was still apparently unconcious. Velkan ran after his sister, but Aleera flew higher and over into the city of Budapest.

            "After them!", Velkan yelled. Van Helsing nodded in agreement. Carl and Adam quickly got out of the coach and followed.

            "Well this isn't working out to our advantage.", Carl said.


            Kiera awoke in a beautiful ornate palace chamber. She was laying on a bed so it must have been a bed chamber. She rubbed her head. A huge and painful bruise was there. She felt pain in her right ankle as well. When she looked down she thought that it had been maimed by something. She screamed for Velkan.

            "Such noise! I have it on good authority that your voice is beautiful, but that was horrible!", Dracula said entering the room. "As a guest you really should practice better manners."

            Kiera threw five Gaelic curses at him before he was close to the bed. He reached for her. She scrambled off of the bed only to find out that  walking was a problem for her. She cried in pain and watched him approach angrily.

            "Come any closer and you will feel my pain!", she warned. He took a step back.

            "I am no doctor, mind you, but it looks as though you might need something for that.", he remarked.

            "I don't need you near me, and if you want to stay in piece you don't need to be near me either!", she growled.

            "Empty threats. Why do you resist me? I have been enchanted by you since the first time I saw you."

            "Enchanted? Too bad I'm no good at real curses! Now, GO AWAY!", she yelled at her loudest possible speaking tone.

            He frowned.

            "I will send someone to treat that. I will see you in an hour.", he replied.

            "No you won't, I'm leaving. And if you think for one minute that I'm going to let one of your lackeys even touch me you're...." Kiera's voice was cut off. She had forgotten not to let her anger get control of her and leave her mind open to him. Having the power to soothe the human mind into a state of euphoria was something Dracula was very proud of. While in this state, people will do just about anyhting you tell them to. Kiera sat silently on the floor in front of him.

He knelt in front of her.

            "Victor did not learn to respect me.", he said softly. "But I assure you that you will!" With that he kissed her passionately. He felt warmth glow brightly inside of him and his head span in dizzying happiness. For a few moments it almost felt as though she were breathing and her heart was beating inside his chest. The powerful emotions were overwhelming and both collapsed on the floor. For the first time in nearly three centuries, Dracula had felt real passion and warmth.


            Since the vampiric physician that treated poor Kiera had said she shouldn't walk for a few days, Dracula was forced to forgo dancing with her. At least Anna was able, but he truly wanted Kiera.

            The three men stood in the balcony overlooking the elaborate masquerade. Anna and Dracula were easy to spot. Kiera didn't seem to be there anywhere. Velkan frowned with anger.

            "I hope for his sake that Kiera is not dead.", he growled quietly.

            "We'll have to worry about that later.", Van Helsing said. He turned to Carl. "Go down there and distract him."

            "What!?", Carl said in a quiet shriek. "Distract Dracula!? Are you insane!?"

            "Now, Carl.", Van Helsing commanded. Carl nodded. Velkan grabbed Van Helsing's arm.

            "I am going to find Kiera. Do not wait for me.", he said firmly.

            "Velkan! No.....", but Van Helsing was too late. Velkan disappeared into the rest of the castle.


            Velkan looked in at least three different rooms before finding Kiera. She was in a deep sleep on the bed in this room. He carefully gathered her into his arms, noticing that her head and ankle were bandaged. He carried her back into the hallway in time for Van Helsing, Anna, and Carl to meet up with him.

            "Jump!", Van Helsing yelled. Velkan turned and sudden'y noticed the window behind them. He jumped first, with his back against the window so as to shield Kiera from the shattering glass. They landed in icy water. Kiera came to, gasping and struggling to stay afloat.

            "What happened?", Velkan asked.

            "They found him.", Van Helsing replied angrily.

            "Found who?"

            Kiera gasped. "Adam! No!", she screamed.

            Everyone turned to face the same direction as her. A boat laden with Adam, dwergi, and Igor, was now heading toward a ship. Dracula and Aleera landed on it as well. The group swam madly toward it, but the gate closed in front of them.

            "I'll save you! I'll get you back, I swear to God!", Van Helsing yelled after them.

            "We're done for.", Carl muttered. Kiera turned to him.

            "Not yet we're not.", she corrected. "I've seen Dracula's mind. I know how we can end this."

            The group arrived back at Castle Valerious.  Kiera seemed to be hididng something very important, but no one dared ask her what.

            "How long will it take them to get back to Dracula's lair?", Anna asked.

            "We probably have another day, but I'm not taking any chances. We have to find the doorway and fast.", Van Helsing said pacing back and forth. Carl remained pouring over the old texts about Dracula's history for a moment. Kiera and Velkan stood off to the side watching. Kiera sighed and finally walked over to Carl, snatching the book away.

            "Just a moment! I was onto something!", Carl protested.

            "You were not. I don't believe anyone here is even slightly aware of Dracula's true origin. This book is just full of deluded old wive's tales.", Kiera snorted.

            "Really? Explain.", Van Helsing said sternly. Kiera smiled and sat down in front of the map of Romania.

            "Vladislaus was born nearly 432 years ago in the heart of Transylvania. He was the son of a knight and saint named Valerious. His mother, Miruna Valerious, was unable to bear any other children, so this child was a gift of God.", Kiera began. "Unfortunately, Vladislaus had a terrible disease when he was born. For no reason whatsoever, he was pale, weak, burned his skin in even the smallest exposures to the sun, and bruised even when his father would affectionately pat his shoulder."

            "There's nothing written about that! It's not true!", Anna exclaimed.

            "He would have been pitied not hated if he'd been ill.", Velkan added.

            "One would hope so, but Valerious wanted a warrior for a son. He set out to find a cure for the disease. It seemed that he went as far as my home country, for there are still stories about his adventures while there. An old magician claimed that he had something that would cure anything, so Valerious returned home with it and without question as to what it really was."

            "What was it?", Carl asked.

            "Blood. Dragon Blood. You see, the magician was from an outcasted cult who had defiled our sacred treatment of dragons. The blood was infected with a deadly disease that did cure Vladislaus, but it made him into something else. He was no longer weakly, but strong and powerful. It seemed as if fire flowed in his veigns with an insatiable lust to conquer. Valerious realized what he'd done and decided to find a cure through the Holy Order.", she looked directly at Van Helsing. "The order deemed Vladislaus a demon and ordered him destroyed. They called upon the archangel, Gabriel, to do this. Gabriel obeyed, but was punished. Banished from heaven forever. Valerious took his only son's body and burried it where it could not possibly be disturbed, a fortress of ice. But the disease from the dragon's blood was stronger than anyone knew. It overtook him fully, giving him inhuman powers like flight. Now, he seeks to continue his own kind."

            "That's impossible!", Anna shouted.

            "It's ridiculus! You can't possibly prove this!", Carl interjected.

            "Show them the ring, Gabriel Van Helsing.", Kiera commanded. Shaking, Van Helsing looked down at his ring, then at the symbol on the map of Romania. A winged serpent, a dragon. Anyone who knew anything about Dracula knew that his name meant "son of the dragon". Her story had some truth to it. He looked over at her.

            "Alright, wise one.", he said sarcastically. "What do we do?"

            "Dracula cannot be killed. Not even another dragon could kill him. I can treat the sickness until it takes his life. Usually it lasts about 700 years, so he's already past the middle of it.", Kiera explained.

            "Wait just a moment!", Carl said standing directly in front of her looking very indignant. "It says in this painting that a werewolf can kill Dracula." He pointed to the once living painting of two people fighting. Kiera sighed.

            "Valerious loved his only son. These writings are all false. He put them here to keep anything from happening to him or desecrating his tomb.", she explained.

            "And he took the only key and hid it where no one would find it.", Van Helsing added pulling out a strip of paper he'd been given before this mission. Kiera took it from him and placed it in the lower left corner. Van Helsing stood beside her, his eyes fixed intently on the descriptions. "In the name of God, open this door."


            Kiera followed the rest of the group into the mirror-like portal that had opened in the map. The dark and ominous legendary Castle Dracula stood in front of them. It seemed to be formed of blackened, tortured souls encased in a prison of ice. The very sight of it made even Van Helsing shudder. He turned to Kiera.

            "So what do we do to get him in your keep?", he asked.

            "Someone will need to distract him, keep the demon seed from comming to life, free Adam, and I'll take care of the rest.", she said.

            "What do you mean the rest? That's all there is to do.", Carl corrected.

            "I will fight Dracula. Anna is limber, she and Carl can free the monster.", Velkan announced.

            "Then I guess I'm with you.", Van Helsing said.

            "Good. First we need to find our way around the castle.", Anna added.

            The sound of angry muttering came from behind them. The group turned. It was Igor carrying a load of frayed wires. He gasped when he saw them standing there.

            "No! It's Impossible! How did you?", Igor stammered. Van Helsing drew a spinning Tojo blade from his duster and threw it at Igor with deadly precision. Igor was pinned to the wall as they approached. Kiera pushed past the rest of them and took Igor's neck in her hands.

            "You foul traitor! I'll kill you!", she exclaimed. Van Helsing pulled her away from him. She threw several insults in at least five languages at the creature as Van Helsing lifted him off the ground by his throat.

            "Contain yourself, Kiera. We need him right now. And if he doesn't behave then you can kill him a little later.", Van Helsing instructed.

            "No! Wait! I can help you!", Igor sputtered. Van Helsing smirked. 'Mission accomplished.', he thought to himself. "I know how you can get to the monster without being seen."

            "You're the monster!", Kiera snarled.

            "Then lead the way, and no detours or else.", Van Helsing ordered.

            Van Helsing held I gor by the collar as the hunchbacked minion led them into the east tower through a back entrance. A shriek came from behind them. Everyone turned to see Dracula's last bride, Aleera, ready to attack. Velkan leapt down in front of the harpy-like woman and shouted back up to the others.

            "I'll handle this! Keep going!"

            No one argued, but Anna hesitated before following them. They stood above the room where the laboratory had been re-assembled. Van Helsing frowned. He turned to Kiera.

            "I was sent to destroy Dracula so that the Valerious family could enter heaven. If we go through with this then it will be three hundred years before any of them see St. Peter.", he said urgently. "I have to find a way to kill him."

            "For all your years of life, you still do not know how God's judgement works. No one will be denied peace because of an ancestor.", Kiera corrected. "Besides, you were sent to undo Dracula's evil, not Dracula himself. There is an enormous difference."

            "I hope you're right."

            "Trust me."

            The four looked down as the Dwergi put Adam into the iron pod where he'd been re-born. Carl and Anna set out to carefully and quickly reach him on the roof. Van Helsing and Kiera waited for Dracula to appear. Van Helsing was getting impatient.

            "I'm going to have a closer look.", he said. Kiera watched as he went down to lower ledge. She didn't say so, but thought that this was a bad idea. She breathed quietly and watched.

            "I knew you'd come.", Dracula's voice came from behind her.

            Kiera tried to dodge as he attacked, but Dracula was much more skilled at fighting and threw her to the floor of the laboratory. She screamed in terror, but was fortunate to have Van Helsing catch her. He looked up. Dracula snarled and jumped to the floor in front of them. Van Helsing set Kiera down and prepared to fight.

            "Gabriel.", he nodded at Van Helsing and then turned. "Kiera.", he slightly bowed to her. "It is rude to enter a noble or anyone's home uninvited." His fangs extended slightly. He leapt at both of them. Van Helsing withdrew his pistol and fired into Dracula's shoulder. Kiera ducked and climbed up to one of the twirling generators. Lightning struck, sending sparks flying everywhere in the laboratory. Dracula knelt a few feet away from Van Helsing, holding his shoulder, clearly in a great deal of pain. He looked up at Van Helsing and smiled as he carefully extracted the bullet and tossed it to the floor.

            Lightning struck again and a blood chilling scream came from where the group had left Velkan. It was Aleera, screaming as a death blow had been struck. Van Helsing felt a little relief and fired another shot at Dracula, this time at his head. Dracula stood, catching the bullet in his chest. He staggered for a moment and then extracted that bullet as well.

            "You know you cannot defeat me, Gabriel.", he said smiling wickedly. "But I would be willing to forgive your past sin against me and accept you as my partner." Dracula seemed to be saying this more out of fear than anything. He was in alot of pain and wanted to hurriedly get rid of nis enemies.

            "Now what?", Van Helsing shouted up to Kiera. He suddenly realized that by doing this he'd let Dracula know where she was. That was exactly what Kiera wanted. Dracula flew toward the girl hiding near the generator. His eyes flared with the need for blood and vengence.

            "I know that you told them.", he said calmly. "I see it in your eyes. A secret you've kept for four hundred years. But I wonder, did you tell them about yourself?

Did you explain to them that it was your father who did this to me!?" At this Kiera jumped down from the ledge and tried to reach Van Helsing who was now thrashing Igor. Dracula followed her and grabbed both her arms pinning her to him.

            "You can't win, Vladislaus! They are too great for your minions and you will soon be outnumbered!", she cried. Dracula laughed quietlt and held her more tightly.

            "I will have one victory. I will show you what it is to truly suffer!", he exclaimed lowering his face to her neck. "Then I will be at peace, knowing your wretched family has lost what mine had." His fangs extended fully. Before he could sink them in far enough to do much damage, a fist hit the back of his head.

            "Let her go, Count.", Velkan demanded. Dracula thrust Kiera away, hoping to knock her unconcious as he finished with Velkan.

            "I liked you better as a slobbering werewolf.", Dracula said. He and Velkan circled each other for a moment. "But I will settle for having you as a bloody corpse!"

            "Not this time.", Velkan warned. He was suddenly surrounded by Anna, Carl, Adam, and Van Helsing. All of them circled Dracula who looked more angry than afraid. He knelt and then flew to the other side of the room. Carl's eye's lit up.

            "Wait a minute! If Valerious's records were false, then maybe a wooden stake can kill him!", he exclaimed.

            Van Helsing noticed a splintered table and picked up a huge wooden shard. Dracula ran toward the door, realizing that the wounds he had would make flying too painful. Adam lunged at him throwing him back accross the room. Dracula was now pinned under a series of fallen equipment, but his upper body was open to attack. He screamed in frustration as the group approached him. Van Helsing held the stake aloft. The thought finally came clear to Dracula that he was going to die, alone and hated. His emptiness was filled with a wave of unbearable sadness. He fought to stay angry, but the sorrow was overwhelming. Tears filled his eyes, still fixed on the group angrily.

            "Morie con Dios.", Van Helsing said and went to plunge the stake deeply into Dracula's chest.

            "No!", Kiera suddenly yelled. Van Helsing stopped. Anna took the stake from him and ran it through Dracula herself. Dracula shrieked in pain, but that was all. He looked down at it with confusion and then relief. It had missed his heart entirely and felt like it was actually near a lung. Anna snarled with anger and yanked it out. As she thrust the stake in at the right angle, Kiera threw herself in front of Dracula, catching the stake in her shoulder. Kiera knelt in excrusciationg pain, beside him.

            "This is ridiculus! I'll do it. Velkan sais reaching for Kiera's shoulder. She turned quickly and looked back up at them. "What are you doing?"

            "Didn't any of you wonder how I knew things that happened four hundred years ago?", she breathed.

            "Your people pass on stories better than any race I've ever known.", Carl reasoned. "You learned from your elders."

            "No, I didn't.", Kiera said pulling the stake out of her shoulder carefully. She didn't speak for the next few moments trying to not scream at the top of her lungs. "I was five. I remember Valerious the Elder; he was kind ,but naieve. I promised that  someday I would make right the horrible curse that my father had forced on Valerious' family. I feel a small smount of the suffering that Vladislaus has, you see; I am a half breed. My father partook of the same blood and now I share only the curse."

            "You are a half vampire?", Van Helsing asked in shock. She nodded. "But you don't have the need for blood."

            "No, but nearly raw meat. I would have told you, but I wasn't sure if you would kill me.", she explained. "I will take him back with me and take care of him for the rest of our lives."

            Van Helsing frowned.

            "I can't allow that. I'm sorry.", he said reaching for his silver stake. Before he could draw it, Adam grabbed his arm.

            "Kiera can defeat evil without killing, so can you.", the seven-manned creature said. "I will go with her."

            "Where will you go?", Velkan asked. He and Anna both looked a little frustrated at not being able to vanquish the one who had caused them a lifetime of suffering.

            "Back to my home in the highlands. We'll be safe there and he will have several people to watch him; more skilled than even you, Van Helsing.", Kiera replied. "Adam will also be safe there."

            Adam helped Kiera remove the equipment pinninf Dracula to the floor and wall. They helped him stand, but it was apparent that he wouldn't be able to walk on his own for a while. Kiera's ankle had healed well enough. Dracula stared at her in confusion. He had tried not but a few moments ago to bite her, yet she had jumped in the way of the wooden stake that would have killed him. She smiled back. For the first time in centuries he'd been shown true compassion.


            Kiera and Adam loaded the rest of their supplies on the ship that Anna and Velkan had given them to use. Dracula stood near the edge looking out at the sea. His hands and shoulders were bound tightly. Starlight glistened over the black waves making it impossible to tell where the sea ended and the sky began. Anna also looked out at the sea with fascination.

            "The ocean is so beautiful.", she said softly.

            "I guess being so far in the country you don't see it often.", Kiera said.

            "I had never seen it, until now." Anna looked over at Dracula's figure standing absolutely still on the deck. "Perhaps neither has he. You are sure he can hurt no one?"

            "I'm very sure. And by the end of the next year he won't even want to hurt anyone else. It will be hard, but he will become who he was meant to be, not what the curse dictated he should be.", Kiera said.

            Everything was ready for them to leave. Adam boarded the ship after saying a few quick goodbyes. Kiera went and embraced Velkan tightly.

            "Thank you again for saving me.", he said.

            "It was nothing.", Kiera said with a shrug. She went and embraced Anna.

            "Take care of your brother, he finds trouble too easily.", Kiera said with a wink.

            "It runs in the family.", Anna replied. Kiera walked over to Carl and kissed the top of his head.

            "Don't believe everything you read, Carl." He nodded and smiled.

            "I'll try, Kiera.", he said. Kiera walked over to Van Helsing who placed both hands on her shoulders.

            "You're sure you want to do this?", he asked.

            "I've been waiting my whole life for this. I have a chance to truly do good.", Kiera said. "I am very grateful for your help. If you're ever assigned to anything in Scotland, I'll be there to help."

            "Good luck, Kiera.", Van  Helsing said as she walked away. Kiera boarded the ship. As they slowly set sail, Kiera approached Dracula and smiled brightly.

            "Where exactly are we going?", he asked.

            "Home.", Kiera breathed. She knew this wasn't the end of their adventures, but it would be the beginning of an amazing life.