Tiny. A straw-filled mattress on the floor. One window high on the wall lets in gray light.
Ilka wakes, Dominik beside her. She is exhausted - it takes a few tries before she manages to sit up.
Can we play today?
We must work today.
INT. KITCHENS - DAY
Dominik drags a BAG of POTATOES across the floor - the bag is as big as he is.
Ilka stirs a bubbling mixture in one of the big cauldrons with a wooden POLE. A roaring fire underneath. She wipes sweat from her face. She’s too thin, too unused to any physical work - she struggles.
Ilka watches Dominik sit down on the bag. Almost immediately one of the big male COOKS rounds on him.
Boy, get up!
Stop that! Leave him be!
Ilka drags her pole out of the cauldron, dripping all over the floor. She marches over and SMACKS the Cook on the back with the pole.
Don’t you touch him!
We don’t have time for your nonsense.
How dare you touch me, talk to me in such a way.
Why? You’re nothing anymore.
She stands, takes Dominik’s hand, and calmly walks out.
INT. CASTLE - ENTRANCE TO WEST TOWER - DAY
Mira approaches a set of LOCKED and BARRED heavy iron doors. She carries a basket with food inside, a clean dress over her arm.
Mira turns to look at Janos, who begins to unlock the doors.
How can you lock her in here? She’s just a child.
I wish you would not do this, Mira. It isn’t safe.
THE WEST TOWER
Cold, dim, abandoned. Makes the rest of the castle seem positively cheery. Thick cobwebs, broken stones, rotting furniture.
Mira wanders through the bottom level, once a ballroom, perhaps.
She climbs the stairs.
Walks down a short corridor, doors hanging open on broken hinges.
Erzsebet sits against the wall, almost hidden in the shadows. Her face obscured.
Mira gingerly crosses to the middle of the room - sets the basket down. She can’t help but notice the DEAD RAT not too far from Erzsebet.
I brought you something to eat. And a clean dress.
Father Janos tells me there is a well at the
base of this tower. We could wash your hair,
your body. Would you like that, Beta?
My mother died when I was about your age.
She used to tell me the most wonderful stories.
Would you like to hear a story?
Once, long ago, there was a beautiful princess
named Helena. She was a very smart and very sweet
young girl, but her parents were afraid for her,
and they locked her up inside the tallest tower.
Helena was very alone, and very frightened. She didn’t
understand that the tower was there to keep her safe,
and that one day she would be set free. And then she
would have anything she wanted, and
she would be very happy.
A slight sound. Mira stops, looks out of the corner of her eye - Erzsebet crouches over the basket of food.
INT. CHAPEL - NIGHT
Mira kneels, prays.
I am glad to see you.
She’s just a little girl.
I wish that were true.
Did it occur to no one that perhaps Beta is
not to blame? She has no children her own age to
play with. She sees no grass, no sky. This is no place for a child.
And yet you wish your own child to be raised here.
Father, the next time you are in the village,
will you deliver these?
You should bid your old life farewell. You must embrace
the place God has set for you.
But you were the one who gave me the paper
with which to write.
No, Mira. I did not.
There is something wrong with this castle.
Will you deliver the letters?