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The Watch Tower
By S G Cardin
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Famous author, Anne Dalton, pays a visit to Dracula's castle.
Wallachia is pronounced “wall-lac-e-a.”
Domina is Romanian for “Mrs/Ms.”
What a backwater country. Anne Dalton pulled into the small hotel’s parking lot from the dirt road. The ride from Bucharest to Bran had been one pothole after another. It was a wonder the small Toyota Corolla she rented didn’t have a flat.
She slammed the door and drew in a deep breath. At least the air was crisp. It sure beat the London fog. A sunbeam broke through the overcast sky. Anne spun around, her blonde hair striking her cheek. There, on the cliff overlooking the small dusty town was Bran Castle.
How eerie! It captured all the overwhelming gloom of a gothic castle, yet without the gargoyles and buttresses she was used to seeing in England. No, Bran Castle was steep, with four high watch towers on each corner. Rugged windows cut out of the stone walls were few and far between. The spires on the turrets were sharply slanted – imposing. Scaffolding supported the south side of the castle where reconstruction was being done. Sadly, a fine layer of soot covered the stone walls. Anne half expected to see a man dressed all in black walk out onto the high timbered balcony which overlooked the town below.
Still, this is where she wanted to be. Her fame as a gothic vampire author was legendary back in England. She had so much money she didn’t know how to spend it. When she saw that Bran Castle, notoriously known as Dracula’s castle, had gone up for sale, she had to come. The compulsion was more than just vampire author goes to vampire castle. Something – some gut intuition told her it was time. Time for what, she didn’t know. To meet a man? She chuckled to herself. While her vampires may share an erotic life with their prey, Anne had been divorced – twice. Her husbands didn’t care to be Mr. Anne Dalton.
Anne’s eyes cut to the man who had so quietly snuck up on her.
“Hello. I’m Mr. George Buchet with Baytree Capital. Mr. Gardner sent me to represent the firm as we conduct
the final purchase.”
Anne sized him up. He didn’t impress her much. He was the same height she was, balding on the top, his eyes as wide and vulnerable as a stack of pancakes. He probably spooked easy. Finally, she held out her hand. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Buchet.”
“Are you ready for a tour of Dracula’s Castle?”
“Do you think I can bring my bags in first and settle in with a spot of tea before I go house hunting?”
“Sure, Ms. Dalton.”
Anne pointed to her car, but watched as Buchet walked inside the hotel. Within a minute a porter came to fetch her bag. Lazy American.
Anne marched into the hotel behind Buchet. It felt more like a bed and breakfast than a three star hotel. A cool chill descended over her. Her eyes darted over the small reception lobby. Something was watching her, she was sure of it. Then, as suddenly as the feeling appeared, it was gone. She took the keys to her room and followed the porter up the stairs, leaving Buchet to wait for her in the lobby.
Two hours later, Anne was riding in a carriage up to the castle. She couldn’t believe how the Romanian country lacked the modern amenities she found in England. The horses seemed to struggle, panting for breath as they pulled the carriage up the steep hill into the castle’s courtyard. A little chuckle eased past her lips. Bran castle would be the perfect spot to work on her next vampire novel. It captured all the dark ambience she wanted to draw on when she eventually would sit down to write it.
The carriage stopped. Their tour guide, a rugged Romanian named Alex Pavel, helped her down from the coach. Buchet slithered out of the carriage behind her.
The turrets seemed to touch the clouds. The structure stood proud, almost defiant, despite its haggard appearance.
“Here it is – Bran castle; known to the rest of the world as Dracula’s castle,” announced Alex.
“I only read Stoker’s book, Dracula, a couple of weeks ago,” Alex pleasantly confessed. “I had no idea it was his recollection of the castle in his novel that helped to make it famous.”
“Stoker’s book is legendary,” Anne remarked.
Alex chuckled. “Most of us here in Bran had no idea of the castle’s notoriety until 1992, after the Communists left us.”
Anne laughed. “That’s so hard to believe. You’ve been famous in England for years.”
“Ah, Ms. Dalton, let me just clarify something. The real Count Dracula only stayed here for two weeks. The Turks held him as a prisoner in the north watch tower,” interjected Buchet.
Anne turned around to look at the non descript man. “How do you know that?”
Buchet held up a pocket travel book, “Romania in thirty days.”
Alex clapped his hands lightly, drawing Anne’s attention back to him. “The keep has a rich history, Ms. Dalton. It is ironic in a way that the castle has been so memorialized in Stoker’s book as Dracula’s residence when the real Count only spent two weeks here as a prisoner.”
Anne smiled at the guide. “What else can you tell me about the castle?”
“Well, it was built in 1212 by the Knights Templar. There are rumors that a chest of Templar gold is hidden in the castle, but no one has found it.”
“That’s interesting. There’s a lot of interest in the Knights since the DaVinci Code was written,” replied Anne.
“Now there are fifty-seven rooms in the castle. You might like the east wing. It warms up considerably in the morning. The west wing is colder, more shaded,” Alex continued.
Anne watched Buchet impatiently fidget. Her eyes then cut to the castle surrounding the courtyard. Several slanted windows looked down onto the cool pathway and gardens. She had that feeling she was being watched again as a cool breeze wiped past her.
“Who’s the current owner?” she said, facing Buchet.
“Archduke Dominic von Habsburg. He’s a descendent of Romania’s last queen. He lives in New York.”
“Has he ever been here?”
“Pity,” said Anne. “Well, Mr. Pavel, show me the east wing.”
He clapped his hands and smiled, leading Anne toward nearby rickety door; barely on it’s hinges. Anne shivered. Those obsidian eyes were sizing her up, evaluating her, she was sure of it. She rubbed her arms to try and ward off her uneasiness, and that feeling left her.
It was late. Buchet was sleeping in his room with a sprig of garlic over his door. She couldn’t rest though – not after the invigorating tour of the castle she had earlier. She walked into the hotel lobby, dressed in a simple pair of blue jeans and a white cotton shirt and ordered herself a highball.
The castle was beautiful, gothic, but not in the traditional sense. The halls were covered in shadows; the air inside was cool and damp. It had plumbing that desperately needed a retrofit and it had been wired for electricity, but the wires were old and frayed. That would have to be updated as well. In fact, everything was powered by a generator in an outhouse not far from the north side of the castle. The power lines that ran into Bran couldn’t sustain enough electricity to feed the castle itself. She bit her lip. It would cost as much to update the castle as it would to buy it. She had the money, but still, did she want to spend that much?
Anne’s eyes cut to the sound of the voice.
“May I join you?”
“And you are?”
She motioned to the chair across from hers as he smiled a cool, little smile that intrigued her. He was tall, with striking cerulean eyes and a thick head of black hair. His aquiline nose complimented his high cheekbones. What alluring, exotic looks. Anne was impressed. The lounge grew cool. Anton leaned forward.
“Everyone in town is talking about you. They say the fair headed Englishwoman is going to buy our beloved castle. Is it true ?”
“I might, Mr. Getzi.”
“Call me Anton.”
Anne sunk into the cushions of her chair. His voice was smooth, soothing, almost hypnotic. She finished her drink, her attention firmly riveted on the man in front of her.
“It’s rather soon to be a on a first name basis with you – Anton.”
He chuckled. “Not for me.”
“We’ve known each other throughout the ages, Anne.”
She shivered at what the words behind the velvet voice implied. “We have?”
He stood up and held out his hand. “Let me show you.”
Intrigued, she overcame her apprehension and slowly stood up.
“Trust me, my sweet.”
Anne’s heart thumped wildly. His voice was mysterious, his eyes
full of unspoken thrills.
Anton grabbed her hand. The temperature plummeted. Good bumps raked over her exposed flesh. Her world turned black.
Clouds now littered the night sky. The air was warm, a little stale, yet on its tendrils, the haunting scent of jasmine assaulted her nose. She knew this scent. It grew on the trellis in the castle’s courtyard.
She opened her eyes, first focusing on the clouds. A half moon came into view between patches of gray sky. She stood on a balcony in the castle’s north watch tower, overlooking the village.
“How did we get here?” asked.
Anton clamped his hands down on her upper arms and stepped directly in back of her. He was firm – rigid. His masculinity hard and stiff, pressed against her backside through their clothes. Somehow it felt right to be in his arms. She didn’t want to fight him. For the first time in her life, she felt like this was where she belonged. How could that be?
“I brought you here while you slept, my sweet. Te iu besc.”
“I love you,” Anne whispered. She knew the phrase, but hadn’t heard it before. How could that be?
“Yes, I love you, Eleni.”
Anne relaxed, not flinching at the use of the name Eleni. His lips pounced onto her neck. She welcomed his carress as his teeth punctured her flesh and his strong arms wrapped around her body, his hands grabbing her breasts over the fabric of her clothes.
She had no desire to fight the erotic feelings he brought out in her despite the fact she’d just met him. Still, a part of her senses didn’t care. A deep seated memory told her she had known him before. They’d been passionate lovers ever since their first meeting.
Her world grew dark as he drank her life giving essence. Cold tore though her. She shivered in his embrace, but his hands only squeezed her breasts more. He wanted her with a passion he wouldn’t abandon, and reveling in those feelings, she willingly gave herself to him. Now, the only thing she heard was the steady beating of his heart in time with hers.
“Kiss me, my love. Let me give your memories back.”
She opened her mouth at his command, and his firm, bloodied lips overtook hers. The warm coppery taste of him slid down her throat and she was assaulted with images she’d seen before.
They had been lovers previously. He was wild, untamed, fercious. She couldn’t stand being apart from her vicious lover after their first encounter. She watched herself sneak into Bran castle from an underground tunnel, built by the Templars, bypassing his Ottoman guards.
The scent of rotting flesh was in the air that night so long ago. The Ottomans hated her lover, yet they couldn’t kill him. If they did, they risked the wrath of the entire Wallachian and Moldavian armies who vastly outnumbered them. And he hated the Ottomans. He had chopped off the heads of the Ottomans he’d killed in battle and impaled their bodies, letting them rot underneath the tower where now they kept him prisoner, payback for previous transgressions.
That night, using a secret passageway to the tower, she entered his prison room. They made love – Vlad Dracul and Eleni Getzi. She’d known him since childhood and waited years for him. Upon his return to Wallachia, they were reunited. She would risk Hell for him now.
She clung to him that night, on a blanket in the middle of the dungeon’s cell, naked from their wild sex. He’d filled her with his seed, quite pleased with himself.
“Promise me your soul forever, Eleni,” he said, crushing her body against his.
He stood up, went to his wooden bed and chipped off a splinter, scratching his wrist until he drew blood. Then he put it to her lips and made her drink it. She lapped at the coppery substance eagerly until sated. Then she cut her own wrist and he drank her blood.
“We are mated for eternity.”
Anne stumbled out of Anton’s arms, stunned the revelation. That’s why all her relationships had failed. Throughout the years they’d been reincarnated as lovers, and now she had finally been reunited with her nocturnal soulmate who had always been tied to the land he’d given his soul to – Wallachia.
He picked her up, cradling her in his arms, blood dripping from his chin. “Let me make you mine in this life.”
She nodded her head and he took her inside the watch tower.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: All comments welcomed
Site: SG Cardin Online
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|Reviewed by April Smith
|Very dark and atmospheric...I enjoyed it.|
|Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione
|Nice -- a very strong kick ass horror yarn here. Is it me or you're actually getting even more hardcore with your delivery too. I could actually hear Iced Earth's Dracula being the backdrop for this sucker. I love it, very eerie aspect of including self-mutilation into it.|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|holds reader interest|
|Reviewed by Larry Lounsbury
|Enjoyed this story very much.|