Chapter One

(Csejte Castle, Hungary, 1609…)

“Let me out of here!”

The frantic girl slapped her hands against the bars of her prison cell while she screamed at the top of her lungs for someone, anyone to free her. She was nearly hoarse now, but she kept on yelling, hoping that someone would take pity on her and take her away from this hell. She had come to the castle three months ago, an innocent naïve peasant girl. She had heard that there was good money to be made here working as a maid. The woman who had brought her here promised her that she would be taken care of and paid handsomely for her service to the Countess. Instead, she had been plunged into a nightmare. A never-ending cycle of beatings, burnings, and starvation. She had tried to find someone in the castle who would be sympathetic to her plight, but everyone seemed to be in on it. When she was thrown into the dungeons, there had been several other young women in the cells, but one by one, they had been taken away and never heard from again. Now, only the rats kept her company. She spent her nights sitting in the dark, moldy corner of her cell, weeping and praying to God to be merciful and give her a means of escape.

Finally, she saw someone come into the dungeon. Two burly guards with menace in their eyes walked towards her cell.

“Please, sirs, help me. Set me free and my father will find a way to reward you,” she said.

The guards chuckled. One of them unlocked the door and they stepped in.

“No, please don’t do this.”

“Come along, little one. The Countess doesn’t like to be kept waiting when it’s her bath time.”

They seized her wrists and arms. The woman screamed and tried to get away, but they jerked on her arms and pulled her out of the cell. She tried to wriggle free, but they held her in a vice-like grip and forced her to walk with them out of the dungeon and down a corridor to a heavy wooden door.

“Where am I going? Where are you taking me?” the woman demanded.

The guards said nothing. They reached the door, opened it, and the woman nearly gagged at the stench inside. The room was windowless and claustrophobic. The only light came from four flaming torches that were mounted on the walls around the room. In the corner was a large cast iron bathtub that had red stains all over it. On the other side of the room sat two large wooden buckets and chains and manacles that hung down from the ceiling beside it. The woman’s heart raced when the guards forced her over towards the manacles. They locked her wrists and began to cut her dirty, flimsy dress off her body with daggers. The woman screamed and tried to get away from them, but all she got for her troubles was a beating. Realizing she couldn’t escape, she stood still and let the guards finish while they snickered and taunted her.

They stripped her bare and stepped away, making lude comments about her pubic hair while the woman wept.

“It’s too bad we can’t have out way with her before the Countess comes,” one of the guards said.

“Eh, you know we can’t. They have to be virgins. We deflower her; we might be the next ones to end up in the bathtub.”

“What do you mean by that?” the woman said.

The guard chuckled.

“Means you’re gonna help the Countess take her bath, little miss,” he said.

They laughed when she gave them a blank look.

“Don’t worry, you’ll find out what we mean,” the guard said, nudging his companion in the ribs.

“That will be all, guards. You can go make your crass comments elsewhere.”

They turned when an elegantly dressed woman stepped into the room, followed by her four maidservants. They bowed.

“Yes, Countess,” they said, in unison.

The women stepped aside and watched while the guards quickly exited from the room. Then they turned their attention to the struggling girl in the corner.

“Well, well, it seems you are the last, Elisabeta, how tragic. Seems I shall have to find more young women now. I must keep up my beauty regimen, you know,” the Countess said.

Elisabeta stared at her. She was in her late forties, but she looked like she was twenty years younger than that. Her long brown hair was swept up into a bun and her thin lips were twisted into a sneer while she looked at her naked body. The dress she was wearing was velvet and blood red in color, making her alabaster skin look even more pale and corpse-like. Her dark eyes bored into her, cold and calculating, and Elisabeta shivered. She raised a hand and ran her long, thin finger down the girl’s cheek.

“Scared, my dear?” she said.


“There is no reason to be. You are about to serve me and by doing so, bring honor to your family.”

“What do you mean?”

A mirthless smile spread across her face.

“You are going to give your life for me, just like all the others.”

Elisabeta’s breath caught in her throat and she shook her head.

“No, my lady, please. Spare me.”

The Countess said nothing. She turned and looked at her maidservants.

“Katalin, will you do the honor?” she said, sweetly.

Katalin started to back away, but was punched in the back by one of the other women.

“Obey the Countess,” she snarled, as she handed her a dagger.

Katalin swallowed hard and approached the trembling woman. Elisabeta’s eyes bulged and her breath quickened when she saw the knife in her hand.

“No, my lady, please. Please, I’ll do anything, just let me li…”

Her plea was interrupted when Katalin slit open her throat. Her eyes widened while she gurgled and gasped for air. Completely unconcerned, one of the maidservants grabbed a bucket and held it under the wound, letting the blood run into it. The Countess smiled as she listened to Elisabeta breathe her last breath.

“Thank you, my dear, for your devoted service to your Countess,” she said, as the blood ran out into the bucket.

Rose yawned, stretched, and opened her eyes. Another night had come and gone on the TARDIS, relatively speaking. She said her usual good morning to the TARDIS, got up and got dressed for another adventure-filled day with the Doctor. She dressed in a red t-shirt, jeans, and trainers. She brushed her hair, applied some makeup, and satisfied that she looked presentable; she headed out the door towards the console room.

She entered and found the Doctor standing in his usual place by the console. He noticed her walking towards him and grinned.

“Listen to this,” he said, imitating Bela Lugosi while he pointed to the rotor. “TARDIS of the night, what sweet music it makes.”

Rose returned the grin.

“Playing at being Dracula again?” she asked.

“I don’t play, I am Dracula.”

He bared his fangs, rose a couple of inches off the ground, and glided towards her, opening his trench coat up like a cape. He made a hissing noise as he floated in the air in front of her.

“Look into my eyes, you are getting sleepy, my pet,” he said. “Soon you will be in my power and then I shall feed. Be mine, blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh.”

“Dork of my dork, geek of my geek,” Rose said.

“Oi! Watch it, missy, or you’ll find my fangs embedded in your neck.”

He made another hissing sound and spread his trench coat wider while he leaned down towards her neck.

“You so much as nick me with those things and I’ll pull them out by the roots,” Rose said.

The Doctor feigned fear and floated away from her. He smiled when Rose giggled. Suddenly, without warning, he flew in, grabbed her under her arms, and shot up towards the ceiling. Rose let out a delighted yell while the Doctor chuckled.

“So,” he said to her, as he glided around the room. “Where are we going today, my mortal lover?”

“How about…we go see Van Helsing? I’m sure he’d love to meet you.”

“Nah, I’m not interested in meeting Hugh Jackman, pick something else.”

He sniggered when Rose rolled her eyes.

“Wasn’t meaning that Van Helsing, but oh well, how about…somewhere romantic for a change?”

“Such as?”

She smiled.

“How about…somewhere where we can see a castle?”


Rose made a face.

“No, somewhere else.”





“Well, where then?”

“I don’t know, somewhere where we’ve never been before.”

The Doctor thought, then an evil grin spread over his face.

“Somewhere with castles, eh?” he said.

“Ought-oh, why do I have a bad feeling about this? Where do you wanna take me?”

“Somewhere with castles,” the Doctor said, innocently.

He descended towards the monitor.

“And the somewhere would be…”

“Somewhere with castles.”

He touched down in front of the monitor and began inputting a destination.

“Where, Doctor?”

“For the hundredth time, somewhere with castles, like you wanted. Nice castles too, great big ones.”

“Yes, but what’s the catch here? Why won’t you tell me where the castles are?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Yeah, you’re taking me to Mars or something, aren’t you?”

“You’ll see.”

Rose sighed.

“I’m not gonna get the truth outta ya, am I?”

“Nope,” he said, popping the p.

“Not even if I throw holy water in your face?”

“Nah, holy water is an old wives tale, doesn’t affect me in the least. Neither does garlic or crosses. We’re not near any suns and you don’t have any wooden stakes or silver bullets on your person. So sorry, Rose, ‘fraid you’re just gonna have to wait and see.”

“Oh goody, I can’t wait,” Rose muttered.

The Doctor chuckled, wrapped his arm around her, and rubbed her side while the TARDIS flew them to their next destination.

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