Shannon (kungfuwaynewho) wrote,
Shannon
kungfuwaynewho

NaScreeWriMo - Day Seventy-Eight

I have finally come to the end.  To nhpw, hollywobbles, and singer_shaper, as Sheridan said, "thank you" seems poor and inadequate.  (Holly is like, huh?  And I'm like, watch Babylon 5.)  We'll talk more later about how I can repay you three for all you've done.

INT. CATACOMBS - DAY

The only light comes from the torch Ilka still carries. Slimy stone walls, low arches.

MIRA
Why would he come down here?

ERZSEBET
It is old, and safe. This was here
before the castle, before the village.
 
The passage narrows, twists and turns. The stones become rougher. Older. One last turn--

A wider avenue. Alcoves on either side, hewn into the stone. Atop the bier in all but one is a SKELETON. Some have tattered clothes, wisps of hair. Some are nothing but bones with paper coverings of darkened skin.

ILKA
(whispers)
Who are they?

ERZSEBET
My family.
 
They move slowly forward. Mira and Ilka notice something else - each skeleton is held to its bier by old, rusty CHAINS.

Mira stops to get a closer look. The skeleton MOVES, turning its skull her way with a creak. It reaches a bony hand out and GRABS her skirt.

MIRA
My God!
 
She jerks back, but the skeleton’s grip holds. Ilka yells, brings her torch down on its arm. The bone breaks. The chains rattle, and then the skeleton lies still again.

ERZSEBET
The king gave this land to two brothers
and their sons. Father did not wish to share.
 
They continue on, being careful to stay in the center of the aisle. Another skeleton rolls its head to watch them pass.

They move from passages built from stone to passages tunneled through the mountain. The ground becomes more uneven, the passage twists more, and then they come to a FORK. Three different tunnels wind this way and that.

Erzsebet does not hesitate, but immediately heads down the right-hand passage. Ilka and Mira follow. But Erzsebet moves too quickly through the labyrinth, and Mira and Ilka fall behind. They lose her.

ILKA
Beta!

MIRA
Hush. We don’t want him to hear.
 
They keep running, until they come to another fork.

MIRA (CONT’D)
Left or right?

ILKA
(whispers harshly)
Beta! Beta!
 
Mira chooses the left passage. Ilka follows.

ILKA (CONT’D)
Did you hear something?

MIRA
We don’t want him to double back and escape
the catacombs. We must find him while
he is still injured, and vulnerable.
 
Through the twists and turns, until they hit a DEAD END. Whether the tunnelers just stopped or the tunnel collapsed is impossible to tell.
They turn back, panting as they run. Back to the fork. But once there, there are FOUR options to choose from.

MIRA (CONT’D)
That bastard. We’ll never find him.

ILKA
No, wait. It’s not real. Janos is making us
see it, but I can see what should be there.
 
Beat, as she looks, then Ilka takes Mira’s hand and leads her through one of the passages.

ILKA (CONT’D)
This is real.
 
They hurry, the tunnel angling downward. Around a turn, and there’s another dead end. This time, SPEARS jut out toward them, embedded in the wall ahead. Nasty, sharp tips.

Mira starts to turn back, but Ilka pulls her forward.

ILKA (CONT’D)
Not real.
 
They walk THROUGH the spears. Deeper into the mountain. A sound up ahead - fabric rustling.

MIRA
Hurry!
 
They run. The scuffling of footsteps ahead of them, closer. Then Ilka’s torch GOES OUT. Absolute blackness.

ILKA
Mira!

MIRA
It’s all right. I’m here.
 
The sound of their breathing seems louder in the dark.

MIRA (CONT’D)
We should turn around, go back the way we
came. I don’t wish to get lost down here.
 
The sound of their shoes on the stone, their dresses moving. Then Ilka GASPS.

MIRA (CONT’D)
What?

ILKA
Nothing. Just Beta - she took my hand.
Can you lead us out, darling?
 
The sounds of their movement resume. After a few beats, a dim GLOW becomes apparent up ahead.

ILKA (CONT’D)
What is it?

MIRA
Beta, stop. It might be him. Beta!
 
But they do not stop. Up the passage - the glow becoming brighter. The passage levels out. Enough light to see Mira and Ilka’s faces peering forward.

The alcoves and skeletons. On the last empty bier, Erzsebet lies in CHAINS. The other skeletons are on FIRE. Some jitter and shake. The flames crackle brightly. Sparks shoot closer and closer to Erzsebet.

MIRA (CONT’D)
Beta!
 
Mira runs forward. Ilka turns, slowly. For it isn’t Erzsebet who holds her hand, but JANOS. His skin is blackened and burnt, flaking off. But he seems as strong as ever.

ILKA
No!
 
She tries to pull away, but his grip is solid. Janos grins.

Mira reaches Erzsebet, tugs at the chains. She can’t find the lock. Erzsebet struggles, to no avail.

JANOS
I was so glad when you returned.
This is your home, Ilka.

ILKA
This was never my home!
 
The fires grow brighter. Mira must turn her face from the heat. She tries to pull Erzsebet off the bier, chains and all. But the chains are too heavy.

JANOS
But what else is there for you? A widow with dead
children. Erzsebet wants nothing to do with
you, and never will - you’re weak, Ilka. Weak and useless.

ILKA
Mira. She will take me.

JANOS
She will blame you for her husband’s death. Why didn’t
you return sooner? For that matter, why didn’t you kill
Bathory years ago? You had ample opportunity.
There was no excuse - you knew what
he was, for longer than you’d like to admit.
 
Janos’ voice is low and persuasive. Ilka’s face is a study in pain. Tears slide down her cheeks.

JANOS (CONT’D)
There is nothing for you. Only me.
 
The bottom of Erzsebet’s dress, the one Mira brought her in the tower, begins to BURN. Mira slaps at the flames. She turns to see Janos and Ilka, down the passage.

MIRA
Ilka! He cannot harm you! Come help me!
 
Janos strokes Ilka’s face.

ILKA
(wan)
You lied to me. You’re just like him.

JANOS
No, Ilka. Didn’t I always take care of you? Wasn’t I
always there, to listen to your worries,
to pray with you? I care about you, Ilka, and I always will.
 
She nods, wracked with sobs.

JANOS (CONT’D)
Sit down, and wait for me.
 
Ilka slides down the wall, sits. Buries her face in her hands.

Mira manages to work one coil of chain over Erzsebet’s head, giving her more slack to work with.

MIRA
Almost there, sweetheart.
 
Janos grabs Mira, pulls her up and shoves her against the wall. One hand on her throat.

ERZSEBET
(screams)
Mira! Mira!

JANOS
You were a useful tool, Mira, but you have forgotten your place.
 
Mira pulls the AMULET out of her bodice. Janos stumbles back, averts her eyes.

MIRA
That’s why you pretended to be martyred, to convert
the villagers - so we would forget the old ways!

JANOS
Blasphemer! Idolator!

MIRA
The crucifix, the Lord’s name, they mean nothing to
you. But this can harm you!
 
With a ROAR, Janos grabs the amulet, rips it away. His hand smokes and burns - he cries out. But he still reclaims his grip on Mira. His face right in front of hers.

JANOS
The Lord’s name means everything to me! I fought
for Him, killed countless infidels, reclaimed the
Holy Land in His name! I thought I would be rewarded,
but His face has always been turned away from
me. I have been cursed since the moment
of my birth. Cursed, and alone.
 
Beat. There might be compassion on Mira’s face.

MIRA
You must be alone. God never meant for you to exist.
 
Janos tightens his grip, furious.

JANOS
You think I don’t know that?

MIRA
(grits out)
You’re killing the only family you have left.

JANOS
She’s weak, like her mother. Like you. Like every mortal.
 
Mira struggles, bats at Janos’ arm, but her strength begins to fail. No air. Her eyelids start to fall--

Ilka DRIVES her sword through Janos’ HEART.

Janos stumbles back, trying to grab at the sword hilt sticking out of his side. He falls, black blood pouring from his mouth. Ilka helps Mira up.

MIRA
(gasps)
Beta.
 
They help Erzsebet slither out of the last of the chains. Her dress is scorched, but she is otherwise unharmed. The three of them run for the exit.

Erzsebet and Mira duck under the grate. Ilka trips, falls.

ILKA
Mira!
 
Mira turns to see Janos grab Ilka by the ankles and start to drag her back into the catacombs.

Mira and Erzsebet grab Ilka’s arms, pull her forward. Ilka screams.

JANOS
Mine! Mine!
 
The sword still sticks out of his side, and another gout of black blood spills from his mouth. He doesn’t let go of Ilka, is pulled forward as well.

JANOS (CONT’D)
I’ll eat you all! Mine! You’ll never
leave, never! I’ll make you--
 
Mira stands, grabs the iron grate, and PULLS it down with all of her might. It CUTS OFF JANOS’ HEAD.

Mira sits hard. Ilka crawls to her. They hold each other.

CUT TO:
 
INT. CASTLE - ENTRY - DAY
Most, but not all, of the flames have died out. Ilka enters from the Great Hall, carrying a pillowcase stuffed full. Ropes of JEWELS around her neck.

ILKA
This was all I could find. I was surprised they were real.

MIRA
That is plenty to sell. If anyone from the village wants to come
up and finish pillaging, let them.

ILKA
Is it...finished?

MIRA
Yes. Beta helped me secure him to the horse.
 
Mira heads for the doors.

ILKA
Mira? I’m sorry I didn’t come back sooner. No.
I’m sorry I didn’t do something long before you
ever came to the castle. I could have
ended it all and Samuel would still...you wouldn’t have had to...
 
Mira stops her, hands on Ilka’s arms.

MIRA
None of it was your fault. You were a prisoner up
here - you were lucky to keep yourself
alive. Come on. I don’t want to spend another minute here.
 
EXT. CASTLE - MOMENTS LATER

Mira and Ilka exit. They pass Erzsebet, sitting on the steps, watching the sunrise.

MIRA
Let’s go, Beta.

ERZSEBET
No.
 
The women stop, turn.

MIRA
You can’t stay here.

ERZSEBET
He’s not dead.

ILKA
What?

ERZSEBET
He’s not alive. He’s in between, but he won’t
stay that way for long. I must destroy his body.

MIRA
We’ll stay until it’s finished.

ERZSEBET
No.

MIRA
Then you’ll join us in the village?

ERZSEBET
No.

MIRA
Beta...
 
Mira sits next to the girl. Erzsebet puts her arms around Mira’s neck, whispers into her ear.

ERZSEBET
This is my home.
 
Mira nods, accepts is.

ERZSEBET (CONT’D)
Don’t forget. You’re mine, forever.
 
Mira jerks back. Erzsebet smiles at her, then gets up, goes back into the castle. The doors close on their own behind her.

ILKA
What did she say to you?

MIRA
(stands)
Nothing. Just goodbye.
 
They go to Ilka’s horse. A canvas-wrapped bundle - Samuel’s body - is tied over the horse’s back. Ilka gathers the horse’s reins, and they begin walking down to the village.

CUT TO:
 
EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - NIGHT

Peaceful and quiet. Behind the barn, a rectangle of freshly-turned earth. A wooden cross.

INT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - NIGHT

The bed in front of the fire. Mira lies between Ilka and Dominik. Those two sleep, but Mira is awake. She studies her son’s face, gently strokes his hair.

She cannot see the window behind her, or the white face that hangs there, looking in.

EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - CONTINUOUS

Erzsebet watches through the window. Longing on her face. She finally turns away.

She runs, past the barn and grave, through the tall dead grass beyond. In one instant, there is a running girl. In the next, a HAWK, flying.

The hawk flies up to a tall tree, rests on a branch. She surveys the land around the cottage, the road that passes by. No movement aside from a gentle, easy breeze.

Satisfied, the hawk takes flight again. She is beautiful, majestic. Soaring higher and higher, the hawk flies toward the castle on the mountain.

FADE TO BLACK.
Tags: nascreewrimo, writing
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