The Art of War V: The Second Son of Five.

Vlad III’s rise to power, obsession with revenge and brutal methodology created a modern menace.

Târgoviște, Romania 1447

Mircea II of Wallachia had been captured. His army of five thousand easily overtaken. Mircea II would soon be tortured, blinded by hot pokers and buried alive. The killers would be boyars from Târgoviște, Romanian elites aligned with the Hungarian army to kill all who allied with the Ottoman Empire.

Mircea II’s father, Vlad Dracul would also be hunted and killed for their alliance with the Ottoman Empire just miles away. But what the Boyars didn’t know at the time as they beat and tortured the two men in the wilderness was that the Ottoman Empire possessed two more of Dracul’s sons. Radu The Handsome and Vlad Țepeș who would later be known by his more infamous name – Vlad The Impaler.

And he would want revenge.

Sick stashe

To ensure Vlad Dracul’s loyalty when he secured Ottoman support for the throne of Wallachia he was forced to leave two of his sons with the Ottomans. Here they would be educated and raised although there are differing accounts regarding the actual treatment of the boys.

It is said that Radu The Handsome not unlike other attractive young men caught the attention and affection of young Sultan Mehmet II. According to Romanian lore, the Sultan made a move on Radu and was promptly stabbed in the leg for it. But they would go on to make up and become very close.

Romanian beefcake and Vlad the Impaler’s bro.

Vlad, on the other hand was a troubled boy. He was combative and defiant throughout most of his time with the Ottomans and was punished harshly for it. Nevertheless, it was the elder Vlad that the Ottoman Empire supported as leader of Wallachia.

Back in Romania after the execution of Vlad Dracul the Hungarian army led by John Hunyadi installed Vlad’s cousin, Vladislav II (another Vlad 🙄) as ruler of Wallachia. The Impaler didn’t like that so basically when Vladislav wasn’t in town backed by the Turks Impaler strolled in and said Wallachia is mine. Which it was. Until Vladislav II returned and he was exiled. But Vlad would return.

As Vlad the Impaler hung out in exile in Moldova, eventually around 1456, relations between his cousin Vladislav II and Hungary would break down. Vlad The Impaler would invade Wallachia with Hungarian support and kill his own cousin, Vladislav in battle as claimed the throne.

This is when Vlad began to earn his torturous nickname. Upon ruling Wallachia he would have all the Boyars purged not only as revenge for the slaughter of his father and brother but also to seize even more power. Everyone who opposed him or supported anyone else was impaled.

Things would heat up even more for the Romanian nightmare when the The Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II ordered Vlad to pay homage to him personally, but Vlad had the Sultan’s two envoys captured and impaled. In February 1462, he attacked Ottoman territory, massacring tens of thousands of Turks and Bulgarians.

Vlad had every near death, dead or captured Turk impaled. Reports range from ten thousand to thirty thousand soldiers impaled on stakes. Those unfortunate not to be dead yet screaming for help as they were pecked to death by the crows.

Wait a minute.. what the hell are we doing here in Romania? Where are you going with this, Buffalo Retro?

Well.. this was the longest road I could possibly ever take to get to, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. An absolute classic, “Metroid-Vania” (thanks, John) type scroller.

As a majority of you already know, Castlevania is a huge franchise from Konami generally based on monsters. Usually vampires. And lo and behold the final boss is the bossiest of all vampires: Count Dracula. Which is where the first 1000 words I subjected you through comes full circle. (Look at that!)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is considered one the most important English Literature pieces of its time and for good reason. It bridged the gap between 19th century Gothic and modern Horror. It was sexually charged and deals with gender, seduction and sexuality in a time you didn’t do that – it’s an intense tale with an intense antagonist. That antagonist is believed to be based on two historical figures. The Hungarian blood countess, Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed and you guessed it, Vladdy Boy.

This game is punishing.

As far as the game is concerned, Drac is the big boy baddie as well. But just getting to him is a punishing but rewarding effort. It has just a touch of RPG elements without overhauling the Castlevania style. It’s a ton of fun and a massive pain in the ass. An addicting pain in the ass. Or dare I saw… pain in the neck?


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