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Saturday, 31 January 2015

More from Melinda de Ross - Vlad Dracul to the fore in 'Mirage Beyond Flames'

Melinda has written a book featuring heavily the legend of Vlad Dracul, or rather, Vlad Tepes, known as the Impaler, a national hero in Romania for his defence of the country against Hungary.  His habits of impaling criminals ensured his notoriety, but those who were pure in heart had, it was said, nothing to fear from him.  A story is told in which a merchant was robbed, and he took his woes to the Impaler, who recovered the man's money and secretly added more coins.  He asked the merchant to count them. 
"There is more here than I lost," said the merchant.
"Because you have told me that, you may keep it," said The Impaler.  "Had you not told me, I should have impaled you beside the robber."
A rather pointed lesson in avoiding fraud, but I suspect Romania was a very peaceful place under his reign.... Over to Melinda! 

 Gerard Leon and Linda Coriola fight for the same cause. The attractive, noble, dedicated French doctor and the beautiful, sensitive Italian sculptress both donate their time and money to Hope – a clinic for children’s cancer research and treatment.
From the moment they meet, even the air between them crackles with intense attraction. But her past makes it difficult for Gerard to understand her scars and battle with her demons.
In search of a cure for cancer and armed with an innovative treatment themselves, they leave for Transylvania, that enigmatic land hidden in the heart of the Carpathians.
There they get lost and have a bizarre  experience in the Hoia-Baciu forest, nicknamed The Romanian Bermuda Triangle due to all the inexplicable paranormal phenomena happening in its depths.
But no one believes them, because they don’t have any proof of said experience. Or do they?...
*Mirage Beyond Flames is the sister-story of Dante’s Amulet.

“You seem tired. Is there something wrong?” Linda asked, feeling her cheeks grow warm, afraid he could read her reactions to his presence.
Gerard sighed, dragging his fingers through his hair.
“I don’t know if you could put it quite like that, but we do have an unpredictable situation. Looks like I have to take some time off as soon as possible and leave for Romania.”
“Romania? Dracula’s land?” she exclaimed, shocked. “What the hell do you want to go there for?”
He laughed indulgently, indicating the mountain of papers spread on his desk.
“Well, I have a friend—actually he was a good friend of my father’s—who lives there now. He’s a doctor too. In the past years, he collaborated with another Romanian doctor and they devised a treatment made from a plant called hellebore. It seems to give good results in certain types of cancer. True, the results differ from case to case and the treatment is not effective on every patient, or in every form of the disease. Like the snake venom treatment, the best results are obtained in incipient stages, if the treatments can be applied locally. Especially in the beginnings of skin cancer.”
“And he wants you to go there to share the treatment formula with you?” she asked.
“Yes. In exchange, I prepared copies of all my notes, observations and research to share with him.”
Linda approached the desk, intrigued, and inspected the scattered papers.
“Chemical formulas, observations, reports…Here is all your work related to the serum made from snake venom?”
“Just about anything that could be put on paper.”
“And do you trust this person?”
She continued studying the notes on the desk, while he sat back in his chair, studying her.
She directed her gaze to him.
“You could make a fortune with this thing. Why give it for free to that guy?”
He gave her a long look, appearing offended by her implication.
“I’m not interested in money and fame, Linda. I became a doctor because the most important thing to me is healing, bringing comfort to my patients, not profiting from their tragedy,” he said, his expression intense and earnest. “Those who do that aren’t true descendants of Hippocrates, they’re just crooks. All my work is measured in the number of people I help, not in stacks of money.”
Something glowed warmly into her entire being. All at once, she felt her heart was lighter, ready to fly toward the nameless fulfillment that she longed for.
“You are a noble man,” she said truthfully, with a trace of admiration. “I respect that very much.”
“I’m a man like any other,” he replied, reclining in his chair. “I have flaws and qualities, nothing special compared to others. Still, I like to think I have a better sense of humor than most,” he added, smiling. “Please, sit down. I feel uncomfortable sitting while you stand. Do you want something to drink?”
“No, thanks.”
She sat in the chair facing his desk.
After a few moments of silence he asked, “Dracula’s land?”
She started laughing, and so did he. When their laughter subsided she said, “That’s all I’ve heard about Romania.”
“That’s about all the rest of the world has heard too. In fact, Jean-Paul tells me it’s a very beautiful country, with extraordinary landscapes and an admirable history. There are numerous predictions and speculations that there, in the heart of the Carpathians, is the physical projection of Shambala—the spiritual center of the Earth. You know, the more or less mythical land of the initiates who hold the balance of the world.”
“Really?” she asked, wide-eyed.
“Yes. I told you, it’s an interesting country, extremely controversial. It intrigued me ever since I listened to Jean’s stories. Speaking of history, do you know how all this Dracula story started?”
“I have no idea. You realize that an intelligent person doesn’t believe in vampires and other such nonsense. But I suppose in every legend there’s a grain of truth.”
Gerard smiled, linking his hands on his desk.
“Actually, there was once in Romania a ruler called Vlad Tepes—which means Vlad the Impaler. He was called so because he literally impaled all thieves, criminals and all those who broke the law, as well as his enemies. They say people were afraid of him to such an extent that, when he put a golden cup on the edge of a fountain, nobody dared to take it. When it was gone, they all knew he was no longer ruling.”
Linda shuddered.
“So much cruelty! I think that man was a monster!”
“Granted, those punishing methods weren’t too gentle, but we have to take into consideration that in those times, around fifteenth century, cruelty wasn’t unusual. Not only at royal courts, but worldwide. Besides, the most horribly punished were the Ottomans—a people who, from the beginnings of history, tried to subjugate the entirety of Europe and beyond, having a personal ambition to conquer Romania.”
“Hmm, what an odd thing. I didn’t know all of this, but it didn’t even occur to me to read about it,” she confessed meditatively. “So, all these atrocious torture methods have created the image of Bram Stocker’s vampire monster?”
“This, along with other bits and pieces of elements gathered from here and there, or invented. For example, Vlad’s father, called Vlad Dracul—which means The Devil—was part of the Dragon’s Order. Their symbol was a creature resembling a dragon from Oriental Mythology, with claws and fangs. This kind of distorted legends created false myths, which mystify history. In reality, Romanians consider Vlad Tepes one of their country’s best rulers and a character they can be proud of. If it weren’t for him and a few other Romanian rulers, all European states would be Turkish colonies now.”
“Talking with you is really fascinating! I always learn new things,” she remarked, impressed by all his knowledge.
He returned her smile and the fatigue shadows on his face seemed to dissipate slowly.
“I could tell you a lot more interesting things tonight, at dinner.”

And there's a link to the book HERE


  1. It's a great book. I recommend it.

    1. Thank you, Susanne! I'm delighted you liked it!

  2. Thank you so much for having me as a blog guest, Sarah! I love sharing Romanian stories and legends with you and your readers. <3

  3. I rather think Vlad might have been overdoing things a bit when he impaled a peasant woman for sending her husband out untidy. But those were the days when rich men would burn horses alive for their guests' entertainment, just to show they could afford it.

  4. I don't think I've seen my husband tidy for more than about 30 seconds after he's finished sprucing up. He doesn't stay that way without being encased in carbonite. He was born rumpled, and he even looked rumpled in uniform.

    1. Watch out, then! Vlad the Impaler is coming for you ... ;-)