Mira sits against the wall opposite the door, the candle burned down to almost nothing. She watches the door. Patient.
The door creaks OPEN. Blackness beyond. Mira waits, but her quickened breathing betrays her fear. Footsteps, echoing as though from far away. They come closer and closer.
Bathory enters, holding a cloth sack. He smiles at Mira.
Why have I been brought here?
Such a stirring story, filled with such pathos. A woman
and child hovering on the brink of starvation. Yet
when I visit your little cottage - wanting to
see your deplorable conditions with my own
eyes - what do I find?
A bag of wheat. A bag of oats. Sausage.
Salted fish. And look at this.
Poor. No food. Clinging to a miserable existence.
Is this not the picture you painted?
I can think of two reasons for this apparent discrepancy.
One, you lied to me. You have plenty to eat, plenty
of money. Your designs for lying then purely
mercenary - hoping I would give you a bag of coin
and send you happily back to the village?
Or perhaps you were telling me the truth, and unbeknownst
to you someone - your husband, perhaps? - improved
your situation in the meantime. Maybe by crossing the
river? I certainly hope that wasn’t the case. Crossing
the river is strictly forbidden.
Anyone caught crossing the river will be punished...most severely.
You think that is a lot to eat? That?
We would be lucky to stretch a bag of grain and
a few sausages a week, maybe two. Should we be
satisfied knowing that at least we won’t starve for another
week? As for the coin, from whom would we buy anything?
Few have any more than we do, and those who do are
not inclined to share. We villagers have always been
threatened with severe punishment. Nothing can
be worse than starving to death.
Trust me. There are far worse things than death.
Dominik sits on the floor, sobbing. Ilka paces around him, wringing her hands.
Stop crying! Be quiet!
You cannot do this!
I have water.
Stop it, stop it, stop it! Behave yourself!
He SHRIEKS, the terrifying cry of a child - you’re afraid he won’t be able to draw in another breath. His little face is bright red. Ana’s hands flutter, she gasps little sobs.
Ilka collapses beside him. Tired, frustrated.
Please stop crying. Please.
Mira slowly comes to. A moment of disorientation before she remembers where she is.
The candle still beside her. Tall, freshly lit. The flame a bit too high. The food and the gold are gone, as is the pool of blood. Mira goes to the door - it’s locked.
And then she hears it. Distant SOBS. A man’s voice, maybe making words, maybe not.
Cold, dim light - an overcast day. Ilka wakes, bleary-eyed.
The first thing she sees is DOMINIK’S FACE, right over hers, staring curiously.
Can we eat now?
We will fast until sundown.
You’re not fast. You’re slow.
I want a egg.
There are no eggs in the castle.
We will have only bread and water.
To remain pure.
You shouldn’t ask so many questions!
I want Mama.
Your mama isn’t here. Perhaps...I could
be your mama for today.
Can we play a game?
INT. DUNGEON - DAY
The candle is again almost burned out. Mira dozes. In the stillness, the CREAK of the door opening is very loud.
Mira jolts fully awake. Looks, but no one enters the cell. The candle burns out - now only dim, flickering torchlight from outside the cell.
Mira stands, stiff. She exits the cell. No one to be seen.
Very distantly, almost beyond the edge of hearing, SOBS. Mira follows the sound deeper into the dungeon. Each cell she passes has a closed and locked door.
The dungeon ends in an IRON GRATE. The sound of dripping water beyond and, a little louder now, the sobbing.
Samuel? Samuel, is that you?
A beat, listening to the sobs. Mira reluctantly starts out of the dungeon.
INT. CORRIDOR - DAY
Ilka and Dominik walk. He tugs at her hand.
We should return to my rooms.
Where does this go?
I don’t know.
I want to see!
No. We will not see. We will return to my
quarters. The Count doesn’t like me to wander the castle.
Beta would show me.
Erzsebet? You’ve seen Erzsebet?
She’s my friend.
Did she hurt you?
No. We just play.
You will not play with her anymore
- she’s a very bad little girl!
We can explore - you and me. Come. Let’s
see where this hallway takes us.
Ilka and Dominik descend a flight of stairs, enter. Immediately clap their hands over their noses - a horrible STENCH. They slowly walk in - empty, dim. The cooking stoves dark and cold.
Stacked all around, baskets of ROTTEN FOOD. Ilka stares, as though she doesn’t understand what she sees. Flies buzz.
Dominik looks at one basket - EGGS, the shells dark and mottled.
SOUNDS from outside the castle - clanging metal, muffled voices. Ilka stares at the little door in the wall, at the handle turning... She grabs Dominik, pulls him into an empty pantry.
PEEKING THROUGH THE CRACK BETWEEN DOORS
Ilka watches as two men enter, snow blowing in with them. The silent Village Elders. They deposit two new baskets on the floor, bearing fresh food. Their mouths are covered with handkerchiefs.
Nicolae, the last Village Elder, enters. Drags a large, bulky burlap sack. He opens the sack, pulls it away, revealing LEONE. She is bound and gagged, mostly unconscious.
Ilka GASPS, then clamps a hand over her mouth. Nicolae looks up, around, then returns to his work.
He pulls a loop of ROPE out of the burlap sack. Uses it to tie Léone’s bound hands to a large IRON RING set in the kitchen floor. He wipes his mouth, looks down with distaste.
Let’s get back down the mountain before the horses freeze.
A beat, as Ilka blinks, but the image doesn’t change. She and Dominik leave the pantry and go to Léone.
(slaps Léone’s face.)
Wake up. Why did they bring you here?
Are you a prisoner? Wake up!
Help me find a knife.
Ilka and Dominik look through drawers, cabinets, along the walls. Wave away the buzzing flies. Dominik finds a KNIFE first - he runs to Ilka, holding it aloft.
Ilka takes it, starts SAWING at the rope tying Léone’s hands to the iron ring.
The far-away sound of a creaking door. Footsteps.
Ilka looks to the entrance, to the bottom of the stairs just visible. She saws faster.
Footsteps, growing louder. Closer. Descending.
Please. Please, Lord.
Silence. Léone comes to all at once - jerks, draws in breath. Ilka grabs her, a hand over the girl’s mouth.
A SHADOW walks across the floor from the stairs. Thin, elongated. It stops.
Dominik buries his face in Ilka’s skirts. The women stare, frozen.
The shadow moves forward. Joined by its maker, the blank-faced manservant. He stares down at the iron ring, the cut rope.
Then he looks RIGHT AT THE PANTRY. Stares for a beat, two. Then slowly looks around the rest of the kitchen. Then leaves.
Ilka still has her arms around Léone. Shakes.
Mira creeps down the hall. Still in her nightgown. Bare feet. She looks all around, nervous. Exposed.
Passing beneath the portrait of HADOS. Mira is trapped by his gaze for a beat. The face so much like Bathory’s. He stands astride a pile of corpses, his sword held high in the air. Mira finally moves on.
A few steps, and she pauses. Did she hear something? She looks behind - nothing. The hallway empty.
Unable to keep from glancing at the painting. Hados’s dark, smiling face. His sword thrust down into the head of one of the corpses.
Mira shakes her head, turns. Runs.