Count Dracula is an undead, centuries-old vampire, and a Transylvanian nobleman who claims to be a Székely descended from Attila the Hun. He inhabits a decaying castle in the Carpathian Mountains near the Borgo Pass. Unlike the vampires of Eastern European folklore, which are portrayed as repulsive, corpse-like creatures, Dracula exudes a veneer of aristocratic charm. In his conversations with Jonathan Harker, he reveals himself as deeply proud of his boyar heritage and nostalgic for the past, which he admits have become only a memory of heroism, honor and valor in modern times.
Details of his early life are obscure, but it is mentioned "he was in life a most wonderful man. Soldier, statesman, and alchemist. Which latter was the highest development of the science knowledge of his time. He had a mighty brain, a learning beyond compare, and a heart that knew no fear and no remorse... there was no branch of knowledge of his time that he did not essay." He studied the black arts at the academy of Scholomance in the Carpathian Mountains, overlooking the town of Sibiu (also known as Hermannstadt) and has a deep knowledge of alchemy and magic. Taking up arms, as befitting his rank and status as a voivode, he led troops against the Turks across the Danube. According to his nemesis Abraham Van Helsing, "He must indeed have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land. If it be so, then was he no common man: for in that time, and for centuries after, he was spoken of as the cleverest and the most cunning, as well as the bravest of the sons of the land beyond the forest." Dead and buried in a great tomb in the chapel of his castle, Dracula returns from death as a vampire and lives for several centuries in his castle with three terrifyingly beautiful female vampires beside him.
Early 19th Century
An unnamed Englishman traveler wandered around Munich before leaving for Transylvania. It was Walpurgis Night and the young Englishman foolishly left his hotel, in spite of the coachman's warnings, and wanders through a dense forest alone. Along the way, he felt that he was being watched by a tall and thin stranger (possibly Count Dracula).
In an old graveyard, where the Englishman encountered a sleeping female vampire called Countess Dolingen in a marble tomb with a large iron stake driven into it. This malevolent and beautiful vampire awakened from her marble bier to conjure a snowstorm before being struck by lightning and returning to her eternal prison. However, the Englishman's troubles are not quite over, as he is dragged away by an unseen force and rendered unconscious. He awakened to find a "gigantic" wolf lying on his chest and licking at his throat; however, the wolf merely kept him warm and protected him until help arrived. When the Englishman was finally taken back to his hotel, a telegram awaited him from his expectant host Dracula, with a warning about "dangers from snow and wolves and night".
Late 19th Century
As Dracula began he late 19th century, he acted on a long-contemplated plan for world domination, and infiltrated London to begin his reign of terror. He summoned Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, to provide legal support for a real estate transaction overseen by Harker's employer. Dracula at first charmed Harker with his cordiality and historical knowledge, and even rescued him from the clutches of the three female vampires in the castle. In truth, however, Dracula merely wished to keep Harker alive long enough to complete the legal transaction and to learn as much as possible about England.
Dracula left his castle and boarded a Russian ship, the Demeter, taking along with him 50 boxes of Transylvanian soil, which he needed in order to regain his strength and rest during daylight. During the voyage to Whitby, a coastal town in northern England, he sustained himself on the ship's crew members. Only one body was later found, that of the captain, who was found tied up to the ship's helm. The captain's log was recovered and tells of strange events that had taken place during the ship's journey. Dracula leaft the ship in the form of a dog.
Soon the Count was menacing Harker's fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, and her friend, Lucy Westenra. There was also a notable link between Dracula and Renfield, a patient in an insane asylum overseen by John Seward, who was compelled to consume insects, spiders, birds, and other creatures—in ascending order of size—in order to absorb their "life force". Renfield acted as a kind of sensor, reacting to Dracula's proximity and supplying clues accordingly. Dracula began to visit Lucy's bed chamber on a nightly basis, draining her of blood while simultaneously infecting her with the curse of vampirism. Not knowing the cause for Lucy's deterioration, her three suitors - Seward, Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris - called upon Seward's mentor, the Dutch doctor Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing soon deduced her condition's supernatural origins, but did not speak out. Despite an attempt at keeping the vampire at bay with garlic, Dracula attacked Lucy's house one final time, killing her mother and transforming Lucy herself into one of the undead.
Harker escaped Dracula's castle and returned to England, barely alive and deeply traumatized. On Seward's suggestion, Mina seeked Van Helsing's assistance in assessing Harker's health. She read his journal and passed it along to Van Helsing. This unfolded the first clue to the identity of Lucy's assailant, which later prompted Mina to collect all of the events of Dracula's appearance in news articles, saved letters, newspaper clippings and the journals of each member of the group. This assisted the group in investigating Dracula's movements and later discovering that Renfield's behavior was directly influenced by Dracula. They then discovered that Dracula had purchased a residence just next door to Seward's. The group gathers intelligence to track the location of Dracula for the purpose of destroying him.
After Lucy attacked several children, Van Helsing, Seward, Holmwood and Morris entered her crypt and killed her to save her soul. Later, Harker joined them and the party work to discover Dracula's intentions. Harker aided the party in tracking down the locations of the boxes to the various residences of Dracula and discovered that Dracula purchased multiple real estate properties 'over the counter' throughout the North, South, East and West sides of London under the alias 'Count De Ville'. Dracula's main plan was to move each of his 50 boxes of earth to his various properties in order to arrange multiple lairs throughout and around the perimeter of London.
The party pried open each of the graves, placed wafers of Sacramental bread within each of them, and sealed them shut. This deprived the Count of his ability to seek safety in those boxes. Dracula gained entry into Seward's residence by coercing an invitation out of Renfield. As he attempted to enter the room in which Harker and Mina are staying, Renfield tried to stop him; Dracula then mortally wounds him. With his dying breath, Renfield told Seward and Van Helsing that Dracula is after Mina. Van Helsing and Seward discovered Dracula biting Mina then forced her to drink his blood. The group repelled Dracula using crucifixes and sacramental bread, forcing Dracula to flee by turning into a dark vapor. The party continued to hunt Dracula to search for his remaining lairs. Although Dracula's 'baptism' of Mina granted him a telepathic link to her, it backfired when Van Helsing hypnotized Mina and used her supernatural link with Dracula to track him as he fled back to Transylvania.
The heroes followed Dracula back to Transylvania, and in a climactic battle with Dracula's gypsy bodyguards, finally destroyed him. Despite the popular image of Dracula having a stake driven through his heart to kill him, Mina describesd his decapitation by Harker's kukri while Morris simultaneously pierced his heart with a Bowie knife. His body then turns into dust, but not before Mina saw an expression of peace on his face.
Although early his vampirehood, Dracula donned a mask of cordiality, he often flies into fits of rage when his plans are frustrated. When the three vampire women who lived in his castle attempted to seduce Jonathan Harker, Dracula physically assaulted one and ferociously berated them for their insubordination. He then relented and talked to them more kindly, telling them that he did indeed love each of them.
He has an appreciation for ancient architecture, and when purchasing a home he prefers them to be aged, saying "A new home would kill me", and that to make a new home habitable to him would take a century.
Dracula is very proud of his warrior heritage, proclaiming his pride to Harker on how the Székely people are infused with the blood of heroes. He also expresses an interest in the history of the British Empire, speaking admiringly of its people. He has a somewhat primal and predatory worldview; he pities ordinary humans for their revulsion to their darker impulses. He is not without human emotions, however; he often says that he too can love.
Though usually believed to have a strong Eastern European accent, his spoken English is excellent, though strangely toned.
Count Dracula has supernatural abilities, and is believed to have gained his abilities through dealings with the Devil. Dracula has superhuman strength which, according to Van Helsing, is equivalent to that of 20 strong men. He does not cast a shadow or have a reflection from mirrors. He is immune to conventional means of attack; a sailor tried to stab him in the back with a knife, but the blade went through his body as though it is air. Why Harker's Kukri knife and Morris' Bowie Knife were able to harm him is a mystery. The Count can defy gravity to a certain extent and possesses superhuman agility, able to climb vertical surfaces upside down in a reptilian manner. He can travel onto "unhallowed" ground such as the graves of suicides and those of his victims. He has powerful hypnotic, telepathic and illusionary abilities. He also has the ability to "within limitations" vanish and reappear elsewhere at will. If he knows the path, he can come out from anything or into anything regardless of how close it is bound even if it is fused with fire.
He has amassed cunning and wisdom throughout centuries, and he is unable to die by the mere passing of time alone.
He can command animals such as rats, owls, bats, moths, foxes and wolves. However, his control over these animals is limited, as seen when the party first entered his house in London. Although Dracula was able to summon thousands of rats to swarm and attack the group, Seward summons a pack of hounds to devour the rats. The rats are so frightened of the dogs that they flee, and any control which Dracula had over them is gone.
Dracula can also manipulate the weather and, within his range, is able to direct the elements, such as storms, fog and mist.
Dracula can shapeshift at will, able to grow and become small, his featured forms notably being that of a bat, a wolf, a large dog and a fog or mist. When the moonlight is shining, he can travel as elemental dust within its rays. He is able to pass through tiny cracks or crevices while retaining his human form or in the form of a vapour; described by Van Helsing as the ability to slip through a hairbreadth space of a tomb door or coffin. This is also an ability used by his victim Lucy as a vampire. When the party breaks into her tomb, they dismantle the secured coffin to find it completely empty; her corpse being no longer located within
One of Dracula's most mysterious powers is the ability to turn others into vampires by biting them. According to Van Helsing:
When they become such, there comes with the change the curse of immortality; they cannot die, but must go on age after age adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world. For all that die from the preying of the Un-dead become themselves Un-dead, and prey on their kind. And so the circle goes on ever widening, like as the ripples from a stone thrown in the water. Friend Arthur, if you had met that kiss which you know of before poor Lucy die, or again, last night when you open your arms to her, you would in time, when you had died, have become nosferatu, as they call it in Eastern europe, and would for all time make more of those Un-Deads that so have filled us with horror.
The vampire bite itself does not cause death. It is the method vampires use to drain blood of the victim and to increase their influence over them. This is described by Van Helsing:
The Nosferatu do not die like the bees when they sting once. He is only stronger, and being stronger, have yet more power to work evil.
Victims who are bitten by a vampire and do not die, are hypnotically influenced by them:
Those children whose blood she suck are not yet so much worse; but if she live on, Un-Dead, more and more lose their blood and by her power over them they come to her.
Van Helsing later describes the aftermath of a bitten victim when the vampire has been killed:
But if she die in truth, then all cease; the tiny wounds of the throats disappear, and they go back to their plays unknowing of whatever has been.
As Dracula slowly drained Lucy's blood, she died from acute blood loss and later transformed into a vampire, despite the efforts of Seward and Van Helsing to provide her with blood transfusions.
He is aided by powers of necromancy and divination of the dead, that all who die by his hand may reanimate and do his bidding.