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"Lucius it is good of you to come and visit an old woman. I do not have many visitors, but I do have a few tricks up these musty sleeves that might help you. Come inside, share some apricot brandy with me" Ihrin said as she beckoned me inside.

Ihrin poured the local brandy and we settled in comfortably to converse. She regaled me with stories of her youth, when creatures of the night feared her name. I, in turn, told her of some of my adventures, and most importantly, the details of my current dilemma.

"I have just the right thing for a sock monkey of your sensibilities. Lucius, I feel that you are not one to take life needlessly, even the life of one who is dead. There are certain items that can turn a vampyre sock monkey away from its dark ways, removing the evil that inhabits its sock. This I believe would solve your problem without destroying this Vlad. I happen to have such an item, the Spike of Farkas it is called. I wish I had possessed such an item to turn human vampyres, as that is what I primarily hunted in my youth. But humans have more complicated bodies than sock monkeys and it is much harder to remove the evil once it has taken up residence. If you thrust the enchanted silver spike into Vlad's chest and recite the incantation, it will purify his polyfil of the evil caused by the vampyrism. His mind and personality will return to their pre-infected state, untainted by the evil. But his body will remain forever altered. He will remain undead and retain the powers which were imbued into him when he became a vampyre."

"I would like to give you the Spike of Farkas, but I am old and am in need of much help. Perhaps you would be willing to do some favors for me in exchange for the spike?"

"Ihrin" I responded "whether you grant me the artifact or not, I would do anything in my power to aid you which did not compromise my beliefs."

"Good. First, do you see the mountain through my window?" Ihrin said while pointing out a back window in her hut. I nodded in assent. "At the top of the mountain grows firebrand rushes which I use to make certain healing potions. I am too old and frail to make that journey myself now. Would you be a dear and fetch me my rushes? Second, there is a striped were-cat that lives nearby. Her and I are having something of a boundary dispute. Lucius, I sense that you are a capable arbitrator. I would like for you to broker a peace accord between us. Finally, I would like for you to teach me the reverse spinning monkey kick that you told me you used when you first confronted Vlad."

I agreed to the tasks and soon departed for the mountain. Dear reader, I spent the next two weeks completing my errands, each was an adventure unto itself. I encountered a yeti and a three horned mountain goat full of sage wisdom. I caucused with an attractive female were-cat who taught me the Dance of Destiny. Lastly, I learned that Ihrin was surprisingly strong, agile and not at all frail, and she learned the requested kick quickly. However, I digress. These tangential tales are best left for another time.

After my tasks were completed, Ihrin called me over to her. "Lucius, I seem to have misplaced the Spike of Farkas. Perhaps if you did me another favor while I looked for it, I will have found it when you return."

I did not wish to be rude or thankless towards my host, but I doubted the veracity of her words and I felt an urgency to resume my primary mission. I stood my ground and gave her a searching look.

"Alright, alright, I'll get the spike. You can't blame me for trying." She said sulkily. Ihrin walked over to a once brightly painted chest and removed a cloth wrapped object. When she handed me this package, I found inside a silver spike topped with a stylized wolf's head. Ihrin told me the necessary incantation and we said our farewells.

Now that I believed I was armed for the occasion, I ceased to disguise my whereabouts. I simply hoped that the Spike of Farkas worked as Ihrin had represented. I first journeyed to Vlad Tepes' birth place in Sighisoara which is now a restaurant. I suspected that Vlad Nosagoul had an affinity for Dracula related sites. I sat at a table outside and ordered a beverage. Soon enough, I felt unseen eyes burning into the back of my head. I feigned unawareness.

 

The trap is set at Vlad Tepes' birth place

The stalking continues

I paid for my drink and began a trek out into the country where I hoped our ensuing battle would not create collateral damage. I could feel Vlad following me as I led him past a village and out into the surrounding Forest. Once into the woods, I sat down on a rock and attempted to appear blissfully ignorant of the danger behind me, secretly clutching the Spike of Farkas out of view. I could feel Vlad slowly approach.


Lucius awaits the attack

The Spike of Farkas in action
 

I found it increasingly difficult to maintain the innocent facade essential to springing this baited trap. When I could feel his breath on my neck, I spun around, spike held aloft. The moment of surprise had given me an advantage over my adversary! Nevertheless, Vlad's lightning reflexes enabled him to grab my throat as I attempted to thrust the spike into his chest. We wrestled where we stood, he attempting to crush my throat, I attempting to impale him.

"What is this trinket you attempt to foist upon me?" Vlad mocked. "Soon I will feast upon your filling and use your silver stick to mark your grave. Your time and luck have run out, Lucius Monkey. These exertions are simply amplifying my appetite."

I, with my throat being forcibly closed, was not in a position to respond and, thus, I remained silently focused on the current situation. Vlad's supernatural strength was beyond my own and I knew that if I did not act quickly, I would fail. My vision dimmed as Vlad tightened his grip. Then, in a desperate move, I managed to strike at his left knee with my tail, which momentarily unbalanced him and allowed me to force the spike into his chest, piercing his putrefied polyfil. As the spike entered Vlad's chest, his grip on my throat relaxed enough for me to croak out the necessary incantation. "Nici mort nici al flinctei, Te invoc, spirit al trecerii. Reda trupului ce separa omul de animal!" I exclaimed.

 

Lucius purges the putrescence from Vlad's polyfil

Vlad began to foam at the mouth and convulse. The spike became hot and a dark smoke poured from the silver wolf's jaws. After a moment, the convulsions and the rush of smoke abated. Vlad lay very still. I removed the spike from his chest. Vlad shuddered and I watched as comprehension, and then tears, filled his eyes.

"Do I awake from a nightmare?" Vlad inquired of me. "Tell me, these horrible memories I have spanning the last several hundred years, they must be false fever visions? I could not have committed these acts, these atrocities that fill my mind. What was I? What am I now?"


Vlad relfects upon his past
 

"Your nightmare is over, my friend." I responded. "Your memories are true, but you are not responsible for those actions. The evil that resided within you has been destroyed. You are reborn to a new life. You must try to put the past behind you and rebuild."

"Lucius, I cannot forgive myself for the deeds that I have done nor can I ask others to forgive me. I still possess the powers that I used for ill purposes. My only option is to now use these powers to atone for my past. I will commit myself to fighting evil and injustice. Perhaps I will be able to heal some of the wounds that I have caused" Vlad confided.

"Indeed, with the powers you hold, you will be quite a force for good" I responded. "Although I do not accept that you were responsible for the deeds that you committed while under evil's spell, I understand your desire to see justice done."

I traveled with Vlad for a while, helping him adjust to and cope with his revelations. It can not be easy reconciling 450 years of evil actions performed in one's own body, if not by one's own soul; knowing that had one not existed, great amounts of pain and suffering would not have been inflicted upon the world. In time, after Vlad had begun to find balance within himself, I knew that it was time for me to return home. I had no doubt that Vlad would be troubled by his past for the remainder of his future. However, I also knew that, while Vlad could not erase the past deeds that had been done in his name, he could start a new life, where his new deeds would be his balm and salvation.

 

Lucius Comforts Vlad at Vlad Tepes' tomb in the Snagov Monastery

Thus my Transylvanian adventures drew to a conclusion. An enemy was destroyed and a new friend arose in his place. Timeless, troubling concepts of responsibility, forgiveness, justice, and atonement had been brought to the fore of my mind. We will likely never be able to fully define these concepts or understand how they interrelate in our daily lives. Instead, those who seek a civilized society must continue to struggle to incorporate and abide by these lofty principles.