Author’s Note: Back after a short break, and finishing up the screenplay. Livia has been captured. Vlad interrogates her then leaves her to a jealous Marica’s tender mercies.
Act VI Scene VIII:
(Vlad’s citadel, second floor. This room has been hung with rugs, cloth, and draperies pillaged from the town. The predominating colors are gold and red. There is a large throne-like wooden chair set against the wall opposite the stairs down. A small table stands beside it. A few wicked-looking knives have been set casually upon the table. A sizable Oriental rug has been laid on the floor in front of the chair, adding to its throne-like feel.
The entire other half of the room has been strewn with pillows. There is a definite Turkish feel to the decorations, reminding us that Vladimir spent his youth in the Turkish courts. Vlad, shirtless, is stretched languidly out on the pillows with Marica. She, too, is shirtless, with her back to the camera. He is tracing lazy circles with one fingernail on her flesh. The only thing marring this idyllic picture are the three bodies dropped like trash in the foreground. Their throats have been torn out and their glazed eyes bulge. As Vlad and Marica converse in the soft tones of lovers, we hear the roaring motor of the bus pulling up. This is accompanied with cheers and whoops of victory so it almost sounds like the vampires just won a college football game. Slightly annoyed at this interruption, Vlad stands in one fluid movement and goes over to a window. We get a fuller appreciation for the patterning of scars that decorate his flesh. Some are obviously from old wounds: there is a gash that distorts one nipple; the stripes of a lash decorate his back. But many look like magickal sigils. They are carved into his biceps, his belly, his chest. A few of the thin white patterns descend down past his hips and into his trousers.)
Vlad: It seems Dr. Morgan’s most recent foray has met with some success.
(Behind him, Marica hastily buttons her blouse. Her hair is down, falling softly around her face. We see another love-bite just above one breast. She joins Vlad at the window and looks down. The bus pulls up close to the tower and the remaining vampires pour out. Some are limping and wounded. Dr. Morgan exits last, carrying Livia. She has been bound and gagged, and he has her slung over one shoulder. Either she is unconscious, or she has given up fighting. The camera cuts back to Marica and Vlad.)
Marica: It looks like they only captured one of them.
Vlad: This is the most important one. Her companion will come now, and I suspect she will bring the book.
Marica: What are you going to do with the red-head until then?
Vlad: Why, I shall enjoy her, Marica.
(Vlad offers Marica a salacious smile. Marica looks away so Vlad cannot see her frown).
Vlad: Tell our American rabble to bring her up here to my private chamber. I want to speak with her alone. And tell them to desist with that bothersome noise.
Marica: Very well, voivode.
(Vlad looks puzzled at this sudden formality, but lets it slide. He turns away from the window to retrieve his own clothes. Marica’s face is a careful mask. She leans out the window, yelling down to the crowd. Her voice is more strident than usual.)
Marica: The voivode desires that you bring the woman up to us. He also asks for quiet.
(The camera shows her perspective on the street below. Dr. Morgan, Livia still slung over his shoulder, gives a cheerful salute and enters the tower.)
Act VI Scene IX
(The camera cuts back to the second-floor room. Vlad, smoothing his shirt, sits lounging in the throne-like chair. Marica lounges somewhat stiffly upon the pillows. She does not look entirely happy to be there. Vlad’s gaze is upon the stairs. We hear Dr. Morgan walking up with his burden before we catch sight of him.)
Vlad: Set the woman down there.
(Vlad gestures toward the rug. Morgan, clearly very pleased with himself, deposits Livia on the floor. She is in a swoon and lies pale in her bonds.)
Vlad: She is unharmed?
(from her place over in the corner, Marica translates for Vlad.)
Marica: He wants to know if you’ve hurt her.
Morgan: I had to strike her a glancing blow to the back of the head or else we never would have gotten her here.
Marica: (to Vlad) He knocked her out. She fought.
(Morgan brings Vlad’s attention to the side of his face where the bloody tracks of Livia’s nails have not yet fully healed. There is also a faint charred spot on his temple in the shape of a cross.)
Morgan: Like a red-headed she-devil. She nearly took out my eye!
Vlad: I like a woman with spirit. So long as she respects her place. Tell him he can go, Marica.
(Marica is glaring down at one of the pillows, grinding her teeth. Without looking up, she addresses Morgan.)
Marica: You can go now.
Morgan: Am I not to be rewarded?
Vlad: I know that tone. He wants a reward of some sort, doesn’t he?
(Vlad gets up from his chair, eyes locked on Dr. Morgan’s. His expression alone makes Morgan take a step backward.)
Marica: The voivode is not feeling charitable. I suggest you leave, William.
Morgan: Uh, yes. Of course. I’ll be on my way.
(Vlad chuckles blackly as Morgan hurries back down the stairs. After a moment, he turns his attention to Livia, first turning her head and checking for the brand. Wonderingly, he runs his fingers over it, the fingers of the other hand threading through her hair.)
Vlad: It is the same mark exactly. Marica? How many years did you say had passed since my interment in the tomb?
Marica: More than five hundred, voivode.
Vlad: An uncountable amount of time. Amazing! There is something at work here beyond my understanding.
(Very gently, he runs a finger down the side of Livia’s face, continuing down her neck to the uppermost swell of her breast. Marica frowns and looks away.)
Vlad: They were all so very beautiful. I never meant to kill them all.
(Livia’s eyes flutter and she begins to stir. Her head snaps up and her eyes fly wide. She stares up at Vladimir’s face, trying to take it in. After fleeting disorientation, she glares at him and begins to struggle in her bonds, trying to cry out against the gag. Vlad locks eyes with her and gestures for her to be still. He touches the gag, then holds his finger against his lips in the gesture for silence. Livia scowls, but stops her struggling. She nods, and very gently Vlad removes the gag. Livia has a cut on one lip, and she is frowning hard enough to reopen it and make it bleed. Tenderly, Vlad grasps her by the shoulders and sets her into a sitting position. Her hands are tied behind her back and her feet are trussed, and Livia does her best to adjust her balance so she doesn’t fall right back over. Vlad sits back down in his chair.)
Vlad: Marica, tell her she is to answer my questions. I have no intention of doing permanent harm, but I will make her suffer if she defies me.
Marica: He wishes for you –
Livia: I heard him myself.
(Livia stares defiantly at Vlad.)
Vlad: (mildly shocked) You understand me?
Livia: Your grammar’s dated, but I can hold my own.
Vlad: Perfect. Do you know who I am, then?
Livia: You look familiar, but I know a lot of people.
Marica: You speak to him with more respect!
Livia: I’ll speak to him however I like.
(Vlad gets up and in one quick movement backhands Livia. The blow rocks her head back, leaving her mouth bleeding and her jaw bruised. She closes her eyes against the pain, refusing to cry out.)
Vlad: I am Prince Vladimir the Third, son of the Dragon who was son of Mircea the Old. You will address me by my title of voivode.
Livia: (incredulous) Dracula?
Vlad: That is what I said. You may know me as the Impaler.
Livia: (laughing wildly now) Dracula?
Vlad: Have I knocked the sense out of you woman?
Marica: She is merely astounded, voivode. You are famous even in this century.
Livia: (still laughing) I’ve been abducted by Dracula?
Vlad: Enough of your babbling. Tell me your name, woman.
(Livia just stares at him. This inspires another blow to the side of her face.)
Vlad: It is not my intention to kill you. Do not goad me into beating you within an inch of your life!
Livia: (she meets his eyes, then thinks better of it. Reluctantly, she speaks) Livia.
Vlad: Very good, Livia. Perhaps we are coming to an understanding?
Livia: I’m tied up on the floor in front of you. There’s not much to understand.
Vlad: Be careful of your tongue, Livia. I admire your spirit, but only because it will please me to break it.
(Livia stares at the rug just in front of her feet. Vlad resettles himself on his chair.)
Vlad: Tell me about that mark on your neck. The brand.
Livia: It’s just a mark.
Vlad: Strange then, that it appears over the door of this tower.
Livia: I hadn’t noticed, voivode. I was unconscious for that part. You know? Somebody whacked me over the head after kidnapping me.
(Vlad looks like he very much wants to smack her again, but manages to reign in his temper.)
Marica: This would go better for you if you just answer his questions.
Vlad: What does that mark signify?
Livia: It’s a family symbol. Sinesti. Sin was a Babylonian moon god.
Marica: (to herself, pointedly in English) Whore of Babylon.
Vlad: Do all the members of your family bear this mark?
Livia: It’s a tradition. Kind of like a coat of arms. (she studies Vlad’s expression for a few moments) Can I ask you something without the fear of getting hit?
Vlad: Certainly. Because you asked nicely.
Livia: Why is it important?
Vlad: Because a long time ago I knew people who bore that mark. Their blood was sweet and their flesh was sweeter.
Livia: (rolls her eyes) Not interested.
Vlad: Before I mar your beauty with another blow, shall I remind you that you are a prisoner here? You do not get to choose.
(Livia sighs and closes her eyes, steeling herself for his fist. Vlad notices this and decides on a different tactic. In a fluid movement, he leaves the chair, kneeling down on the floor in front of her. When Livia next opens her eyes, he has his face inches away from her, his fingers just about to caress the place he had recently landed a blow.)
Vlad: Truly, Livia, I do not want to hurt you. You must understand that I have a temper. I want you to respect me. I want you to answer what I ask.
(Vlad runs his fingers along her jaw, drawing them through the blood that is drying there. He puts the blood-stained fingers to his mouth, savoring the taste of it.)
Vlad: Exactly as I remember it. Tell me about the alchemist.
Livia: The what?
Vlad: This was once his tower. Tell me about him.
Livia: Voivode, really. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Vlad: If you are lying …
Livia: I’m not lying on this one. I don’t know anything about an alchemist.
(He studies her face for a moment.)
Vlad: Very well. Then tell me about your companion. The woman with the short dark hair.
Livia: She’s just a friend. We travel together.
Vlad: That is only a half-truth. You do not lie well with those green eyes of yours, beautiful Livia.
Marica: (disgusted) Perhaps we should just wait for her friend and interrogate them both.
Vlad: Hush, woman.
Livia: She doesn’t know where you’ve taken me.
Vlad: No, but she will feel it, won’t she? She can sense me. I’ve seen her stare directly at me, when no other mortal would have known I was there.
(Livia looks back down at the rug.)
Vlad: Your silence is my answer. Does she have the book, then? Will she be able to tell me about the alchemist? You know she wears his mark.
Livia: It’s just a necklace. A lot of people wear symbols that have no meaning.
Vlad: But you knew what I was talking about.
(Livia presses her lips together, scowling. Vlad places his hands gently on both sides of her face, drawing her gaze to meet his eyes as he has done with Marica.)
Vlad: You have blood on your lips, dear Livia. Allow me to kiss it away.
(Vlad kisses the side of her mouth where she is bleeding. Livia squeezes her eyes shut, trying to remain calm. But then his tongue snakes out, darting at the blood, and she makes a strangled noise in her throat, pulling away.)
Vlad: I will not kill you, Livia. I want the living blood that’s in your veins. I made a mistake all those years ago, slaughtering those who bore this mark. I did not realize then that they were more valuable to me alive. I will not kill you, but I will take what you refuse to give.
(Reaching around to the back of her head, Vlad grabs a fistful of Livia’s hair, twining his fingers close to her scalp. He pulls her head back, exposing the white line of her neck. Livia makes a strangled noise again. Vlad exposes his fangs and bites. Livia’s whole body stiffens, then suddenly relaxes. Though she still makes strangled sounds, there is another quality to them that suggests she enjoys what he is doing whether she wants to or not. Behind them, almost between them, we see Marica. The camera shifts focus to her. In a jealous rage, she bites her lip. The camera focuses back on Vlad and Livia. Livia is beginning to slump in her bonds, while Vlad trembles and tears himself away.)
Vlad: Not too much. Not too much. I must take care. Life is delicate when it runs so sweet.
(He loosens his grip and Livia swoons. Blood trickles from the bite. With a post-coital languor, Vlad dabs a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth.)
Vlad: Ambrosia. Exactly as I remember. Nothing else has ever quenched my flame.
(Again the camera shifts focus to Marica. She has thrown herself down on the pillows and put her back to the room.)
Vlad: Tend to her wounds, Marica. I shall go down and await our other guest.
(Oblivious to Marica’s pain, he strides from the room.)