EXT. MOUNTAIN ROAD - DAY
Dominik rides the mule, Mira walks. Though the road switchbacks from side to side, the grade is steep. She starts to tire.
In the distance, the clear howl of a WOLF.
It’s all right. It’s nowhere close. We can hear better
up here, out of the trees.
The walls seem to lean over them.
Mira stops, stares. One hand sneaks up to her amulet, tucked under her dress.
No. No, I want to go home.
I’m sorry. Here.
Mira looks around - no one. No knockers on the doors. She just touches the surface of one, and both SWING INWARDS with an ominous rumble. Mira takes a breath.
INT. CASTLE - ENTRY HALL - CONTINUOUS
Huge, glorious. Enormous fireplaces with roaring flames. Gilt furniture. Exquisite oil paintings.
Mira and Dominik stare, dumbstruck. They have never seen such wealth in their lives. It takes a beat for Mira to realize there is no one else in the room.
A MAN stands by the iron doors. Immaculately tailored clothes, but his face is BLANK, expressionless. He and Mira look at each other. It’s hard for her to break the silence.
I want to speak to the Count.
My mule, outside. Will he be stabled?
INT. CASTLE - CORRIDORS - DAY
Even the hallways drip with wealth. Hand-embroidered tapestries, gold leaf generously applied everywhere. Every now and then an alcove holds a MARBLE BUST.
INT. GUEST ROOM - DAY
The manservant opens the door, and Mira and Dominik step inside. The room is bigger than Mira’s entire cottage - huge four-poster bed, plush chairs, leather-bound books on shelves.
The blank-faced manservant steps to a BUREAU, opens the doors. Inside, gorgeous DRESSES. The manservant displays one dress, bows, then steps out, closing the door behind him.
Dominik walks to the bed, puts a hand up on the mattress. Mira lifts him up. He rolls over onto his back, wiggles - LAUGHS. Mira can’t help but laugh, too.
She takes out a dress. It is incredible - rich, opulent. She slides her fingers over the fabric. Hanging the dress over the bureau door, Mira goes to a VANITY, sits.
She looks at herself in the mirror, a bit shocked. Dirt still here and there on her face. Her hair mussed and tangled. She inspects the tools laid out - brushes, perfumes, lotions.
Mira checks on Dominik, sound asleep in the exact middle of the bed. She dips a cloth in the clean water in a basin by the door. Cleans her face.
INT. CASTLE - DINING HALL - NIGHT
The blank-faced manservant enters, bows his head to someone unseen. Extends an arm to lead Mira and Dominik into the room.
She has changed into the fancy dress, her hair brushed until it shines. She looks stunning - like a princess.
A VOICE rings out - deep, rich.
I was told a villager had come all the way up
here just to speak to me. I could not
believe it - yet here you are.
Even though it is nearly winter, the table is covered with trays of FRESH FRUIT. Dominik stares.
My Lord, thank you for granting me an
audience. I have come to speak to you about the conditions--
Later, later! First, let us eat.
Mira looks down at a plate of succulent, thinly sliced meat, roasted vegetables, a delicate sauce. Mouthwatering. She swallows hard.
Mama? Can we eat this?
You do not eat this well at home.
We do not eat, my Lord.
I don’t understand.
(chooses words carefully)
My Lord, I do not argue with your right to the resources
of your land, even your right to the fruits of our
labors. But soon there will be no one left
to labor at all - no one to grow crops or spin wool.
Mira tenses at his approach, but Bathory just kneels and watches Dominik eat - steady, determined, voracious.
The Elders always assure me that every villager is
provided for before anything is brought to the castle.
No, my Lord.
What is your name, child?
Your well-being is my responsibility, Dominik.
I have failed you.
That ends now.
Mira enters, carrying a sleeping Dominik. She leans her back against the closed door. A shuddery breath, a watery smile.
She did it.
Mira tucks the thick bed covers over Dominik, then walks around the room, rubbing her arms - she has stripped down to a thin shift.
She goes to the fireplace, but it is clean and empty. The copper hamper next to it is decorative - no wood inside.
Mira walks to the single window. Closed. She holds her hand in front of the window - a slight draft.
Mira pulls the heavy curtains securely shut over the window, then burrows into the bed beside Dominik.
INT. GUEST ROOM - MORNING
Mira frowns in her sleep, then wakes. A beat, then she looks down to see that all the bed covers are GONE.
She sits up, shivering. The curtains are pulled open. The window is open as well. Mira looks - the bed is empty. Dominik nowhere to be seen.
INTO THE HALLWAY
And crouches beside him. He stares at the wall ahead.
What are you doing?
What does it mean?
I don’t know.
It is the Bathory family emblem.
I wished to show you around the castle.
It appears I’ve arrived too early.
I’ll just be a moment. Excuse me, my Lord.
THE GUEST ROOM
And pushes the door shut. A pink flush spreads over her cheeks. A stubborn smile.
The type of space only a castle can boast - its only purpose is to awe and intimidate. Bathory and Mira walk side by side, Dominik trails behind.
Hados, the first of my line. A great man. When these
lands were still overrun with miserable pagans
who were more likely to offer up their throats
to the invading heathens than lift up their own swords
in defense, Hados took up arms. He rode into battles himself.
And when the pagans would not fight, Hados spent
all his wealth on mercenaries, who routed the Turks
and drove them from these lands once and for all.
But does anyone remember him? Do they praise
him, celebrate him? Of course not! Instead they
curse the name of this family.
Oh, yes, word has reached my ears of just what you villagers
think of me. I am blamed for famines and plagues, for droughts
and floods alike. I am the reason your sheep give no milk
and your hens lay no eggs. A boy is attacked by wolves
in the forest and somehow I am to blame.
What else could you possibly expect? No one ever sees
you! Not once in all my life have you come down from
your perch - you have no idea what it’s like. We scrape
together what we can only to see it taken away and
carted up here, again and again and again!
If Hados was a great man it was because he
did something - you do nothing!
My Lord, I...forgive me.
No, don’t cower and grovel now.
Come. There is something I wish to show you.