Vlad Paripasu

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First Men.jpg
Paripasu (the dishy dark haired-one behind and to the right) with fellow First Man, “Ginger” Reg Margin.
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Vlad Paripasu is a character from Finance Fiction mythology: one of the “First Men” who, with Norse monster Reg Margin threw out the Children of the Woods and bastardised the modern precepts of financial risk management.

It is said, but never proven, that Vlad lives on, undead, a phantom of our unexpressed and recurring fears.

Vlad Paripasu is regarded as the patron saint of cunning, rent extraction and of management consultancy.


Vlad was born in Bistrița in the high Carpathians, the bastard son of King Mutandis Mutandis of Carpathia.

It is said Lacuna, the “Dark” Queen of Carpathia, tried to have him drowned in a coracle accident on the Black Sea, but the infant Paripasu survived being raised by a bale of terrapins, earning him the nickname the “Turtle Count”. There is no contemporaneous historical evidence to corroborate a trip to the Black Sea, but Paripasu’s fear of and enmity towards women in positions of executive power is well documented — he would go on to found the Society of Pale Old Men later in life.

A sickly but intelligent child, Vlad learned to speak and read before he was a year old. From this time he was susceptible to bad dreams. He would recount them to his mother, a serving wench, who dismissed them as the product of an over-active imagination, but they had a habit of coming true. The King found this out, and took the boy into his court (over the fierce protestations of the Queen, who always hated him).

But while the other children of the Royal Court would fence with wooden promissory notes under the tutelage King’s Consul Viclean,[1] the King kept Vlad away, not letting him out, ensuring no-one found out about the boy’s strange hallucinogenic power, which he feared could one day be used against the kingdom (this was one of Vlad’s earliest dreams). Mutatis tried to keep Vlad’s foretelling to himself, to stay one step ahead of his enemies, quelling any fomenting dissent among his people.

So Vlad was confined to the kitchens of the great mead-hall, only allowed out to clear plates during banquets and serve the warriors ale. When he did this the other children of the court bullied him. Chief among them was Dragos, Viclean’s eldest son, a handsome but vain young man whose hand-to-hand discounting and factoring techniques were unmatched in the citadel. One day the King happened upon Dragos as he was mercilessly beating upon Vlad. Far from intervening and punishing Dragos, this King chided Vlad for his feebleness and credulity, and threw him out of the castle, telling him to come back “only when you have learned how to fend for yourself.”

The King’s smug, but true-born, son Prince Randolph chipped in. “Let thith be a lethon unto you, Bathtard.”

Vlad found himself sleeping with the swines in the sties out the back of the castle, fossicking among the slops for mouldy bread and rotten eggs to eat.

“Let that be a lesson indeed!” said Vlad to himself, sobbing as he chewed upon some rotten potato peelings.

“A lesson it is, and a lesson it shall be, if you be smart enough to let it,” came a disembodied voice from the dusk.

“Who’s that? Who goes there?”

“Potential is better underjudged than overdone,” said the voice, “for then you have the advantage.”

“But no man values one he deems a fool,” wailed Vlad. A shadowy figure revealed himself in the greasy light from the pig-lanterns. It was the old fool, Uctis, collecting scraps and slops.

“And behold, your very advantage. For nor does he fear him,” said Uctis with bright eyes. “And what do you call a mortal foe who should fear you, but does not?”

“I — I don’t know.”


At first Vlad is dismissive, but Uctis picks his pocket, proving the value of being underestimated. The old beggar and the young bastard forged a keen bond and Vlad over time taught him to compensate for his diminutive status by learning to outsmart his rivals, and adopting disguises and personas when it suited him.

Uctis was, in fact, a powerful Berber Wizard, in disguise, himself exiled for his perfidy from the northern wilds. Uctis regaled Vlad with tales about the magical, mythical northern city of Salomoné, where a race of clever weaklings, the “Lanchmani” were masters of their fertile domain. While Vlad dreamed of one day seeking out this shining citadel, Uctis trained him to make do without “magical weapons” that could be wrested from his control:

“Do not have a weapon that you could lose: Be a weapon: that you cannot lose. None can steal your cunning.”

Eventually restored to the castle, King Mutatis kept the boy in the kitchens, sweeping out the refectory, still consulting him for his dreams. Randolph and, Dragos, continued to pick on the bastard boy as he cleared their plates, but found him curiously immune to their efforts.

However much Vlad resented Randolph and Dragos, he burned at his father’s treatment. He vowed to one day prove himself to the King, so he would at long last recognise his true value.

“Son, you are deluding yourself,” Uctis sighed. “A bastard once, a bastard always shall you be. What is done is done: You can’t retreat in time and put a wedding ring upon your mother’s finger. You should prove your worth instead by outwitting your father and brother.”

One day his opportunity arrived. On the solstice, Vlad told the King — a superstitious man — that he had had a dream in which a cunning trickster would gain entry to the Royal Court and trick the King into handing over his crown.

The King was aghast. “But how would he sneak in? My guards are the most vigilant and loyal in Eurasia!”

“You, yourself, will unwittingly invite the thief into your midst, clutch him to your heart, treat him almost as if he were your own blood. You will bear him across the threshold,” said Vlad.

“I never shall!” roared the King.

“Do not speak so soon. In fact, you may already have done so. You may be too late.”

Of course, Vlad was talking about himself, but the King was too vain to realise it.

“How should I keep my crown secure?”

Vlad said, “Leave it to me, sire. I will make a plan. But it may take some time, and while I am work your crown is not safe. You should give it to me to look after so, if this trickster should arrive, he cannot take it from you.”

The unsuspecting King gave the crown to Vlad. At once Vlad rushed off to show his friends, bragging about how clever he was, pulling wool over even the King’s eyes.

In the meantime, the King ordered a root and branch clear out of his army. He dismissed his loyal Chief Consul, Viclean, and threw him into prison.

Before long, word of his braggadocio and deception found its way back to the King. Far from being impressed with Vlad’s cunning, Mutandis exploded with rage, casting the boy out from the kingdom for ever — curse your perfidious dreams! — and bidding him never to return, on pain of death.

Vlad made directly for the great lost city of Salomoné. There he met, and forged a bond with, ginger Norse kinsman Reg Margin. The two of them discovered, in the ruins of an abandoned, ransacked settlement of the Children of the Woods, the long-lost Dierne of Swæp — a mythical, sacred fruity knowledge believed for generations to be lost to the trading peoples of the world forever. Before long this knowledge was unleashed on the world like pandora’s box, and were were in a cold war, every party armed to the teeth with financial weapons of mass destruction.

Vlad had not been gone a month when his dream came true: a real trickster, whom the King had welcomed into his court and treated almost as if his own son, tricked the King out of his crown, killing the King, Queen and older brother Randolph. The real trickster was Dragos, the Consul’s son, who had so victimised Vlad as a little boy.

See also


  1. Romanian for “Deceitful”.