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15 November 2010 @ 09:32 pm
NaScreeWriMo - Day Fifteen  
Today was the first day I was smart enough to figure out that the "Day Blank" in my subject is the same as today's date.  Because it started on November 1st.  I don't have to scroll back down and check and see what the previous day was.

Also, it occurred to me while writing these pages that I might need to actually name "blank-faced manservant."  Tell me what you think.

INT. CASTLE - ARMORY - NIGHT

TORCHES are lit. DAGGERS pulled off the walls, tucked into Mira and Ilka’s dresses.

ILKA
They aren’t pretty, but they will draw blood.

MIRA
How long has the Father been trying to get you
to kill the Count?

ILKA
What?

MIRA
Janos told me the Count was a demon, and he
wanted me to “destroy” him.

ILKA
Janos has never said anything like that to me. I...when
I first married the Count, I loved him. I was only
fifteen, and all of this was so magical. To be the
lady of my own castle... Erzsebet was born before a year had
passed, and I was so happy. I think a part of me still
loves the Count, wishes he loved me. Perhaps that is
why Janos has never confided in me that particular fear.
 
Mira looks around - they are alone. Erzsebet is gone. Ilka notices Mira’s search.

ILKA (CONT’D)
She comes and goes as she pleases. That is why
the Count locked her up - she began trying to
go down to the village.
 
Equipped, the women head back into--

THE CASTLE

And begin to search.

MIRA
What is wrong with her?

ILKA
I have asked God that question many times. When
she was born, I begged to be allowed to nurse her
myself. The Count wished to bring in a wet nurse, but he
finally let me feed her. My milk made her sick. Girls were
brought up from the village instead - none lasted long. But Beta
grew stronger, healthier. She hated me, though. I don’t know
why - she never says more than a word or two. Maybe she blames me,
for not being strong enough to raise her myself. Once,
I thought she had forgiven me. She crept into my bed one night. I
had just lost my first son. I had not left
my bed for some time. When I felt her little body against
mine, her head on my shoulder, her arm about
me, I thought God had finally answered my prayers. I was
happy, Mira. I would not be happy again until I held your son.
 
Ilka reaches down, takes Mira’s hand.

ILKA (CONT’D)
At first, I felt nothing. No pain. Beta pressed her
face against my neck, and I held her tight. And then...
 
They stop, and Ilka pulls down the collar of her dress. Mira looks - a SCAR. Two half-circles, a few marks recognizable as being made by teeth.

MIRA
My God.

ILKA
For a little while, I was told of her progress. Erzsebet is learning
how to read so quickly, Erzsebet can write the most wonderful
poetry in Latin and Greek, Erzsebet has embroidered a
beautiful tapestry of the Bathory crest. Then something happened. That’s
all I know. The Count was most displeased. The last I heard was that she
had been sent to work in the kitchens.

MIRA
Before coming here, I would have told you to
pray, but I think God has no power in this place.
 
They walk past a dark opening in the wall. A SOUND.

ILKA
Mira.
 
They listen. Beat. A CHILD’S CRY.

MIRA
Dominik.
 
She extends her torch into the opening. Stone STAIRS, descending into blackness.

The women clasp hands again, and begin their descent.

INT. CASTLE - STAIRCASE - NIGHT

Pitch black. The torches illuminate little - a wall to their right, a handful of steps in front of them, gently curving to the left.

MIRA
What is down here?

ILKA
The dungeon and crypt. The Count told me they
were sealed off, that I was never to come down here.
 
The CRY again. A little louder. Mira hurries, then SLIPS on one of the slick steps. Her torch falls out of her hand. As it tumbles down, it reveals a VAST BLACK CHASM to their left. The bottom cannot be seen.

Ilka grabs Mira, pulls her closer to the wall to their right.

MIRA
You do not have to come with me.

ILKA
I must.
 
They descend again.

INT. DUNGEON - NIGHT

Mira and Ilka’s single torch does little to cut through the ink-black gloom. They walk down a center aisle, CELLS on either side. A rack in one room. Chains in another.

They approach a room with an open door. Peering inside - a POOL OF BLOOD. Still wet.

ILKA
Sometimes I see things. It may not be real.

MIRA
It’s real. I see it, too. Blood.

ILKA
It’s not real.

MIRA
We haven’t heard him cry in a long time.

ILKA
We don’t know that it was Dominik we heard.
 
From behind them - FOOTSTEPS, coming down that long, long stair.

Mira and Ilka head deeper into the dungeon, around a corner. The aisle growing more and more narrow until they must squeeze through single file.

The footsteps ever closer. Running. Something malevolent in the sound.

A locked iron GRATE up ahead. Echoes of dripping water coming from behind it. The doors to the cells all shut save one - they run inside the last cell on the right.

For a beat, they both stare, nonplussed. DOMINIK, asleep on a pile of straw. Mira runs to him while Ilka awaits the maniacal running bearing down on them.

DOMINIK
Mama?

MIRA
I’m here. I’ve got you.
 
Mira picks him up as Ilka backs into her, staring at the door. Mira turns, looks--

The blank-faced manservant in the doorway. Not so blank-faced now. A horrible GRIN stretches across his face, a fell light shines in his eyes.

He makes a sound, like a drowning man gasping for air. It is laughter. He takes slow steps toward them.

Ilka brandishes the torch.

ILKA
Get back!
 
The manservant stretches out one long arm and SMACKS the torch aside. It rolls to the corner.

Ilka pulls out her dagger.

ILKA (CONT’D)
You run, Mira. You take him and run.

MIRA
I won’t leave you.
 
The manservant is close. Ilka girds herself, screams before she starts, and STABS him in the gut.

He looks down at the dagger, then back at her. Holds up a finger - “tsk tsk.” Pulls the dagger out and turns it on Ilka. The grin widens.

The manservant stops. The grin melts away. He turns to look, revealing Erzsebet standing in the doorway, staring at him. A silent battle of wills.

The manservant, blank-faced once more, slinks away.

Ilka looks at Erzsebet with almost as much fear. Goes to retrieve the torch.

Erzsebet comes up to Mira. She slides limp fingers down Dominik’s cheek - dismisses him.

MIRA
That man. Did you make him go away?
 
Erzsebet smiles, sweet. She leans up to whisper into Mira’s ear.

ERZSEBET
He’s mine. I made him.
 
 
 
 
nhpwnhpw on November 16th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Wow. A lot of good stuff happening here. I'm really curious to know why Janos didn't ask Ilka to kill the count. Is there something special about Mira that Ilka lacks? Does Erzsebet have something to do with it?

And that last line is fabulous.

As for naming him - IDK, maybe. It hasn't seemed necessary until this point. I think it depends on what happens with him next. Is he central to the rest of the plot, or just a clue?

I also think the only reason to name him is if his name is going to be spoken by someone. Otherwise it doesn't seem important.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 16th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
I was really only worried about naming him because I wasn't sure if it was confusing to read a descriptor instead of a name. He won't ever be referred to by name by a character, or speak himself. If it's not confusing and it's clear to which character I'm referring, then I'm not worried about it.

Why Janos didn't ask Ilka goes back to Janos' overall motivations, which will be coming out relatively soon.
Holly: Kittehhollywobbles on November 19th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
Woah - plot twist!

I think what I like most about your atmospheric details is how you have the guts to leave them so unexplained. Like, the pool of blood - we don't know what it's about, it's just there. Or the candles earlier, and the repeating hallways. And you never bother to explain it. Very cool. It helps create a the feeling of world beyond the storyline.

If the manservant is under Erzsebet's control, who ordered him down there? Or, well... I guess I'll wait to find out more. Like, what on earth she actually meant with that stellar line. ;)

Mira's "I won't leave you" seemed a little pat - like, there's probably a hundred movies with that exact line.... Maybe this is the sort of thing you put down in a first draft and are going to get back to and I shouldn't be bugging you about the details, but... just in case. It sorta jumped out at me.
Holly: A/R Oathhollywobbles on November 19th, 2010 04:52 am (UTC)
And yeah, he definitely doesn't need a name yet. Like, if he had a name, it would almost make the twist seem a little less unexpected. As it is, he's this way random face who SUDDENLY BECAME IMPORTANT HOLY CRAP, instead of hey, look guys, Jeeves actually is important! Like you'd almost suspect a manservant with a name. Does this make any sense? My brain may have stopped functioning half an hour ago. I can't believe I wrote most of my college papers after midnight.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 19th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
Good point - I'll leave it. :D:D:D
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 19th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
Mira's "I won't leave you" seemed a little pat - like, there's probably a hundred movies with that exact line.... Maybe this is the sort of thing you put down in a first draft and are going to get back to and I shouldn't be bugging you about the details, but... just in case. It sorta jumped out at me.

No, no, this is exactly the kind of note I love. Because I may or may not have picked it out as something to fix in a revision if I ended up keeping the scene itself, so I want to know if a line seems cliché or out of character or awkward.

And you're right, it is kinda...done. Sometimes I think of good dialogue the first time around, and sometimes I'm just getting the nuts and bolts of a scene across and it's a little bland. I'll note it!