1600, Csejthe Castle
High above the village of Csejthe, on the massive mountaintop of the Carpathian
Mountains, a castle hides the beginning of a murderous rampage.
Elizabeth sat looking at herself in the mirror, admiring her beautiful reflection.
Behind her a servant terrifyingly combed her hair, petrified of doing something
Elizabeth smirked; she knew the terror she invoked. The punishments she
would force on these servants if they stepped out of place was legendry. Like her
aunt, she didn’t just punish her servants for minor inconveniences, she would
punish them for any reason. She enjoyed watching the pain in their eyes, aroused
by the screams and pleas.
She stared at the young servant. Such beautiful unblemished skin. She was
once like that. Unmarred by age and trials. Now she felt herself getting old, even
though her beauty was known all over Hungary, she felt sure one day that too
would fade. What would she have then?
Her husband dead, her children occupied with their own lives, and her beloved
aunt brutalised and murdered.
She felt an inner resentment to this young child, the young girl’s hand
trembling under her steady gaze. Dropping her eyes, she wanted to whack all the
beauty from her. Suddenly, a sharp yank jolted her back.
Wheeling around, glaring at the trembling creature, “you fool. How dare you
hurt me that way.”
Her large brown eyes widened in terror, “mistress, I didn’t mean to. I’ll try
better, I promise.”
Elisabeth didn’t bother to listen to the girl’s pleas. Her hand whacked against
the girl’s soft flesh. Tears trickled down the servant’s face. But Elizabeth wasn’t
looking at her; instead transfixed by the small amount of blood left on her ring.
Touching the crimson liquid, she felt the rejuvenating properties of the young
blood seep into her skin.
The young servant stared, terrified, wondering what would happen to her.
Elizabeth turned, gazing at herself in the mirror. She could swear she looked
younger, healthier; a new glow started to appear.
Ignoring the frightened child, she rushed from the room, thoughts catapulting
in her mind. Excitement filling her.
“IIona, I’ve found what I have been seeking. Come, we must begin right away.”
Pain radiated through the young woman’s body. A bone creaked, blood
spurted from her nose. Her opponent towered over her, disdain turning
to a sneer. Grabbing her by the hair, he tossed her across the room. Her
body slammed against the hard cement wall, the coldness of the cement
floors permeated through her body. The overwhelming pain increased
with every move.
“Now will you talk? Tell me what I need to know and this can all stop.”
Spitting out blood, she watched his lips move. “You can go to hell,
I’m not telling you anything.”
He smiled, “oh, I have other ways of getting you to talk. You’ll be
begging to tell me everything you know.”
* * *
I woke up feeling the familiar surroundings of my small Romanian
house. The biting cold chilling my flesh as I quickly got dressed and
trotted downstairs to where my punching bag was located, converted
laundry room to mini gym room.
The bag swung backwards and forwards as my fists and feet connected
instinctively, my imaginary target bloodied from my onslaught. Cold
sweat started to form as I reluctantly strapped on my snow running shoes,
emerging into the freezing morning.
Snow blanketed almost every house, the roads covered with the heavy
snowfall during the night.
Jogging past the old village cottages, I thought back to what brought
me here. It had been six years, and still those memories lingered in my
dreams. Waiting patiently to resurface; people and events governing why
I came here.
I had only been in Transylvania for two years, my body still refused to
adjust to the icy chill carried by the snow.
At this time of the morning sanest people were still in bed, as I picked
up my speed, I wondered about my own sanity.
I missed the warm weather; where even in winter snow remained in
isolated regions. Now snow even blanketed the city’s main centres.
The Poiana-Rusc Mountains loomed high above the small village of
Ruda, the snowy peaks a beckon for villagers.
I’d travelled all around Europe and nothing could compare to these
mountains. The Poiana-Rusc Mountains that swept from Ukraine to the
north, through Transylvania and towards Serbia. When I first saw these
mountains the sight was breathtaking. It had only started to snow, the
peaks showing the evidence of the approaching winter. The Carpathian
Mountains arched around the 600 miles, seen by every angle.
Although winter was freezing here, most visitors claimed it was the
most beautiful season, resembling the days of the infamous Dracula
My warm breath mingled with the cold air, creating a smoky haze in
front of me. Continuing around the village, my footprints made tracks
all the way back to my cottage.
The tall Acacia trees hunched toward one another, its barren
branches covered in snow.
I first glimpsed the cottage, hidden amongst the golden-yellow
flowers, changing from cream to white, all crowded in globular heads or
cylindrical spikes, decorating the deep chocolate trees.
Peering through, and finally daring to enter the diminutive winding
gravel pathway. Feeling as if I was a giant intruding on a peaceful fairy
tale. Birds chirping, the fresh smell of spring and flowers. And there
it was; a Hanzel and Gretel cottage, its oak milk chocolate panellings
fitting perfectly, plucked from nature.
Stepping inside was like stepping back in time. The large open
fireplace dominating the small sitting room, with a large sofa perched
in front of it, a white oak coffee table in the centre, on either side
two hand-crafted birch rocking chairs. Hand-woven cushions placed
respectively on top.
Off to the right a dainty kitchen, an old fashioned tea pot and kettle,
aligned with a range of English teas beside them. The modern appliances
of a fridge and microwave seemed somewhat out of place. As if shoved
there, and forgotten.
Moving through the sitting room, immediately in front of me was a
door with lace curtains covering the small window leading out back, to
an awe-inspiring view of the mountains.
Off to my left and up the oak stair case the bathroom, with a bath
and shower combined. The lace curtain assemblage ever present. At the
far end of the shortened corridor lay my room. Its pine panelling of the
wall and ceilings immediately placed me in the comfort of a forest. The
queen-sized bed taking up most of the room and maple dressing table
the other end, each covered with matching white lace doilies.
Opening the balcony doors to reveal the mass of green meadows
covering the mountainside, I knew that I wouldn’t want to leave.
A trickling of snow brought me back to the present, the snow turning
my clothes into mini icicle sticks; I knew I had to get a move on before
I froze to death.
I hastily unlocked my door, hurriedly removing my mittens and
beanie. I strolled over to the fireplace and quickly started the fire,
immediately feeling the warming effect of the embers sparking to life
Taking a steaming shower, I sat down with my cup of roasted coffee.
Staring into the fiery furnace, I wondered what this new week would