Chapter Twelve

Rose crossed the courtyard with the Doctor and Frida. As they headed for another heavy wooden door, she glanced at the walled in green space and grimaced when she imagined it filled with frozen maidens in grotesque poses. She hoped she and Frida didn't share that fate. As they neared the door, the Doctor made a face and covered his nose with his hand. It took a moment for Rose to realize he still smelled the stale blood.

"Cor, can't they give this castle a good hose down?" the Doctor muttered to Rose as he pinched his nose shut. "I'm not breathing and I can still smell the stench."

The guard banged hard on the wooden door and it creaked open. The Doctor noticed that none of the guards were the ones he confronted earlier and for that he was thankful. He hoped none of them would recognize him. He tried not to look too conspicuous and he put his hand down but the smell overpowered him and he had to fight the urge not to vomit. He loved the smell of fresh blood but stale blood was repulsive to him.

The guard stopped them when they reached a large hall filled with antique furniture, tapestries and paintings. He told them to wait and he left the room.

"See, these people are paler than I am," the Doctor said to Frida, pointing to a large painting of an elderly woman dressed in a blue velvet dress.

"You're not pale," Frida said.

"That's because I'm wearing makeup."

He pulled down his shirt slightly and showed her the pale skin underneath it. Frida made a face and gingerly touched it.

"You're very cold," she said as he let go of his shirt.

"So you keep saying but you feel hot to the touch," he said, putting his finger on her forehead.

The guard returned followed by Elisabeta who was dressed in a floor length red velvet dress that had lace trim. Her long brown hair was piled up on top of her head in a loose bun and she was wearing a pearl choker around her neck. Her fingers had several gold rings on them and she wore black velvet slippers. She stopped behind her guard and looked everyone over.

"My guard tells me you wish to speak to me?" she said, her lip curling in disgust at the thought of peasants speaking to her like equals.

"Yes. Our daughter was nearly abducted today from the village down below," the Doctor said.

Elisabeta waited, an annoyed look on her face.

"You did not address me properly," she finally said to the Doctor.

"I said, my daughter was nearly abducted…"

"I heard what you said," Elisabeta snapped. "Why should I care if some dirty peasant steals another peasant?"

"Because we have reason to believe the abductor came from this castle," the Doctor said, trying to control his temper.

Elisabeta raised her eyebrow.

"Oh? And what proof do you have?" she said mockingly.

"None. But if you'll let us see your female servants…" the Doctor said.

Elisabeta held up her hand.

"You have no business here," she said dismissively. "You have no proof and you bore me with your talk of abduction. I don't care about you or your daughter just as I don't care what happens to you in your little village. That is no concern of ours. Now go away and…"


Elisabeta turned and saw Dorottya standing in the doorway. When Elisabeta and the guard weren't looking, Frida tugged on the Doctor's shirt sleeve and pointed at Dorottya.

"That's her," she whispered.

The Doctor nodded, watching with narrowed eyes while Dorottya walked over to her servant. Dorottya was whispering but his hearing picked up what she was saying with no problem and he listened while Dorottya informed her mistress that Frida was the girl that got away from her in the market. He looked at Elisabeta when she said that and saw understanding dawning on her face. Elisabeta thanked her servant and turned back to the Doctor, Rose and Frida.

"My servant was gathering some food for me at the market today and saw what happened and thought she might be able to identify your abductor," Elisabeta said to them. "She wishes to speak to you," she said, pointing to the Doctor. "Your wife and daughter can wait in our dining room. My servants will find them something to eat."

The Doctor didn't buy that for a second but he trusted Rose to handle herself while he confronted the countess so he agreed to her proposal. He saw fear in Frida's eyes and bent over to her.

"Rose will keep you safe," he whispered in her ear. "I will get to you as soon as I can. But right now I want to get the countess alone and find out if she really is nosferatu. Will you be brave for me?"

Frida nodded and the Doctor gave her a tender kiss on the forehead and moved in close to Rose.

"I don't think I have to tell you not to eat anything they serve you," he whispered to her.

Rose nodded and he squeezed her hand. She whispered good luck to him and he did the same and asked her to be vigilant and look after Frida. Rose nodded and he squeezed her hand one more time before he walked over to Elisabeta. Elisabeta stepped back when he got too close and the Doctor kept himself from snorting at that. Elisabeth had Dorottya call for two more guards and when they came in the room, Elisabeta told them to escort Rose and Frida to the dining room and tell the cook to feed them. The guards bowed their heads briefly before walking over to Rose and Frida. Rose took Frida's hand and looked back over her shoulder at the Doctor before she and Frida followed the guards out another door. The Doctor watched them go before he looked at the countess.

"Alone at last," he said to her.

"Yes," the countess said tersely. "I must ask you to address me as countess when you speak. Show the respect that is due me."

"Really? Because I believe respect isn't automatic, a person must earn the right to be respected," the Doctor said.

He resisted the urge to laugh at the shocked looks on Elisabeta and Dorottya's faces.

"Are you usually this impudent," Elisabeta said.

"Pretty much, yeah," the Doctor said.

He gave them a mild look when the two women scowled at him.

"That's the trouble with peasants. Some of them don't know their station in life and think they can rise above it," Elisabeta growled.

"Oh, but you see, I'm not Hungarian. I'm a traveler so I don't have to kowtow to you," the Doctor said.

"I am nobility!" Elisabeta said. "I am a countess."

"And I'm a lord so show me some respect and deference," the Doctor said.

Elisabeta and Dorottya laughed at that.

"You're a lord? Of where?"

"I am Sir Doctor of TARDIS," the Doctor said.

"And where is TARDIS?" Elisabeta said.

"Oh, hither, thither and yon," the Doctor said airily. "So, "Countess" let's get down to business. Where is this wayward servant you mentioned?"

"Dorottya, fetch the offending servant," Elisabeta said to her.

Dorottya met the Doctor's eyes and he smirked when she narrowed her eyes at him. She left the room and the Doctor put his hands in his pockets and looked around the room.

"So…you think by living here on high you can intimidate the peasantry and use them for your own devices?" he said.

"I don't know what you mean by that," Elisabeta said.

"I mean you aren't ignorant of what your servants do. I have heard stories about you even from far away."

"And what have you heard, "My Lord?" Elisabeta said mockingly.

"I've heard stories that you kill and torture young women and girls and drain them of their blood so you can have a beauty bath.

The Doctor saw an imperceptible flinch from Elisabeta before she laughed.

"Peasants tell such idiotic stories," she said dismissively.

"I'm not a peasant. I'm a lord, remember," the Doctor said. "And my daughter is nobility which means you and your castle can be prosecuted for the attempted abduction of Lady Frida."

"I have no fear of you," Elisabeta said.

But the Doctor could see a slight tremble when she looked into his eyes. She tried not to show it but the Doctor was a master of body language and he knew she was frightened of him. He also knew she was probably sensing something was not quite right about him but she couldn't put her finger on what and he was planning to use that to his advantage.

"Here's the culprit!" Dorottya said, shoving a frightened young woman into the room.

The Doctor studied the young girl. He could tell her shock and fear was genuine so he figured she wasn't in on the deception. He could also see telltale signs of abuse on her face, a couple of faint bruises on her cheeks.

"And this is…" the Doctor said, gesturing to the woman.

"Katalin, my youngest and most disobedient servant. She's the one besmirching my good name."

"It took everything the Doctor had not to laugh hysterically at that statement.

"And you're just totally ignorant of this young girl's activities. Even though she'd have to go through guards just to get outside the castle and the courtyard," the Doctor said.

"My servants go to market for me," Elisabeta said, raising her chin. "I don't go among the peasantry."

"So…Katalin goes down the hill, grabs a girl, drags her back up the hill, gets her past the guards somehow and…shoves her in the cupboard for safekeeping?" the Doctor said.

He looked at Katalin who still looked frightened. He sensed Katalin was told to go along with this…or else. He started to go to her to ask her about this but Dorottya stepped between her and him and glared at him.

"Katalin, is this true?" the Doctor said, ignoring the dirty look Dorottya was giving her. "Everything they're saying, is it true?"

Katalin glanced at the countess and shrank back from the look of warning she was giving her.

"You don't really expect me to believe you're blameless, countess," the Doctor said. "You know precisely what's been going on here and you're using your servants, willingly or unwillingly, to do your dirty work for you."

"And what will you do about it?" Elisabeta snarled. "You can't stop me!"

"Watch me," the Doctor said, his eyes boring into hers.

Then suddenly, the Doctor pushed Dorottya out of the way, grabbed Katalin and before anyone could stop him he used his super speed and left the room before anyone could comprehend what was happening.

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