It was a cold night when he approached the castle. The wind blew around his long, black cloak, the hood pulled over his head. The swarms of bat dared not come near him.
The field of impaled corpses, having been torn down in recent decades, had begun to rebuild itself – feeding upon those few brave enough to try and eliminate the looming, rising threat before it reached its zenith. He knocked upon the vast, oaken gates. Once, then twice. No response came. The man sighed, slowly shaking his head, before whispering words in an ancient tongue, older than the earth itself – His son’s enchantments held his spell at bay for a moment, but in the end, it seemed, the father always held more raw power than the son. A bitter irony that he had experienced himself first-hand, during those earlier days. The doors opened before him. He stepped inside and began to navigate the many halls and chambers.
The one he sought was found, in the end, in his study – in the process of drawing up the schematics of a summoning circle. One for Abaddon’s ilk. Under the gaze of the intruder, the parchment ignited and turned to ash. Lucifer spoke. ‘’... Hello there, son. We need to talk.’’
The vampire glanced up from his now-destroyed work, embittered anger in his red eyes. His clawed hands grasped onto the wood of his desk – dents were left in their wake. He, too, now spoke.
‘’... Lucifer. If you have come to lecture...’’ – his voice broke. Sorrow slipped through. The wood shattered. ‘’... She is gone, dad. She’s gone. What else could you expect me to do, if not this? Tell me – if He had slain Lilith, would you not also have sought to burn His domain to the ground?’’
The Devil stepped forward, placing his hands upon Vlad’s shoulders. He brought him upward from his seat, them embraced him in a hug. ‘’... I know, my son. I know. And I also know that it would be wrong. And I hope I will never be brought to that point, and yet, here, you have been. Lisa is dead... And I mourn for your loss – I feel your pain. And that of my grandson, too.’’
Those last words broke him. A deep, long sob escaped from the lips of the king of vampires. ‘’... Adrian... I failed him, dad. I... I hurt him, and then I cast him out. He’s gone, too, now...’’
The Devil smiled softly. ‘’... He is, but he isn’t gone for good. And my foolish, naive child... Nor is Lisa. Did you, in your rage and pain and grief, truly forget who and what your father is? She was burned as a witch, my boy – and witches belong to my domain. Do you genuinely believe that that the sanctimonious bastard upstairs would take her in? She may be saintly in our eyes, but most certainly not in His. That, of course, is His loss... And our gain.’’
Vlad clenched his arms around his father's back, warmth flooding back into his broken, fractured, frozen heart. He spoke. ‘’... You are right, father. But... From me, she is still gone. I know the laws of death – and...’’
His eyes widened. ‘’... Oh, what have I done. She cannot return, and I cannot die to join her. My son, what have I done to you... My boy. I was meant to be there for him, and instead I... But I cannot make him an orphan. I cast him out, but now... I must find him.’’
Lucifer took a small step back, a prideful smile upon his face. ‘’Lilith is already on her way to take care of that part. I am proud of you, Vlad: Not many would be able to turn back from the edge like you are doing here. You truly are my son, through and through.’’ – Dracula averted his gaze in shame.
‘’I am undeserving of your praise, father. Already, I have forged pacts with those who serve the Great Annihilator, promised them blood and fire. Already, I have called upon the others of the Midnight Aristocracy, summoned them to my side. I... It is too late to turn back cleanly. Already I have scarred my very own son... Already, father, I have damned myself. And... The humans, they... They might be no worse than I, but father, they killed her. They stood by and watched, those that did not eagerly partake in the slaughter. They took her from me, from Adrian – They deserve to pay!’’
The Devil frowned, placing a single hand underneath his son’s chin. And then...
‘’... Vlad Tepes Dracul, you are better than that. I might not have had as much of a direct hand in raising you as I would have liked, but you are still of my blood – you are my son, and you of all people should know better than that. Are the mortals deeply flawed? Yes. But one does not blame an abused and neglected child for their poor attitude, does one now? They are misled, deceived – exploited, by Him and His servants, and by those who rule under His authority, claiming the divine right of kings for themselves. And you then, Vlad? Hiding away in your castle, shunning the world? This is not you. And yet...’’
He sighed, moving his hand to gently brush his cheek, before lovingly kissing his son’s forehead – the Devil tall enough to do as he saw fit. He spoke. ‘’... One does not blame a neglected child for their poor attitude. I did wrong by you, my son, and I apologize for that. I am aware that our relationship has been... Distant, at times. And this is my fault. I sought to not draw the ire of the world upon you, to allow you a chance to avoid the hardships that come with infernal association. I should have known better – no child of mine would be able to avoid such things, I suppose. But I am here now. And you are not alone.’’
And so, they talked. They sat, after a while – and they discussed. It was not difficult for them to find common ground: Vengeance, after all, was not something the lord of Hell shunned, so long as it was directed towards the right targets. And so, they plotted. Lucifer had been working on some schemes of his own already: The Renaissance had already been set in motion in the south. Up north, a failed attempt to sway the mind of Martin Luther that resulted nonetheless in a fracturing of church power and more successful whisper into the ear of Desiderius Erasmus...
Yet the methods of the Devil were slow and subtle, as to not risk all-out war upon the mortal plane. After debate, he conceded that this would have to change. The cost was too high. Each day, good men and women burned, peasants starved, and people lived in ignorant squalor, never reaching their true potential...
And so, the Devil roused to war his armies. He sent out summons of his own: His allies gathered.
And so, the Devil’s son made good on his pacts and summons. His allies gathered, too.
And so, war came to Wallachia. The world at large was soon to follow.
But this war was not a war of extermination. It was not a war of bitter vengeance.
It was a revolution. And it wouldn't be the Devil's first.