If you are just catching up, see the CHAPTERS section to read the Prologue-Chapter 4 before proceeding to reading Chapter 5.
Otherwise, read PART 1, NICOLAE'S ESCAPE: Chapter 5 from the jump :)
ran though long, dark corridors not knowing where he was or how he had gotten
there.All he knew was that he had to
get out.Eloisa was here.He could feel her presence as he frantically
searched for her. He called her name,
but his voice was drowned out by the howling winds circulating through the black
small, dark haired boy suddenly ran out ahead of him before turning a
corner.Nicolae recognized the boy
“Sebastian!”Nicolae tried to call out, “Sebastian!Wait!”
continued on in pursuit of his brother.He would catch glimpses of the boy, turning a corner and would follow
only to come up empty or at a dead end.
urgency in Nicolae to find Eloisa and Sebastian grew as the howling wind
carried a woman’s whispering voice.Nicolae paused, straining to hear what was being said. He couldn’t make
out the words, but the rhythm of the voice resembled chanting.
mind began to cloud as his senses dulled and his limbs turned to stone.
chanting continued as a pair of cold hands slipped up from behind Nicolae and
enclosed around his throat. The rotting
flesh and long, claw-like fingernails pierced into his neck, reawakening
him.Nicolae struggled to break free of
the deadly grasp and saw Sebastian, standing at a short distance from him,
staring at his older brother fighting for his life.Nicolae briefly shut his eyes as he strained
to pull the choke hold off of his neck.He reopened his eyes to Sebastian right in front of him, hovering above
the ground at Nicolae’s level, looking into him with eyes that were completely black.The boy’s features were more angular than
Nicolae remembered.Sebastian’s mouth
opened into a hideous grin that boasted rows of razor sharp teeth.
me in, Nicolae,” he hissed…
…Nicolae sat up gasping for air and
bringing a hand to his throat.His eyes
frantically searched the empty, abandoned farmhouse that he had stopped in for
the night.He let out a sigh, releasing
his hand from his throat.Nicolae waited
for his breathing to return to normal.He was still shaken by what had just taken place.He shuddered as he noticed a small smear of
blood on his hand.He brought his hand
back to his neck and discovered that he did have a small amount of bleeding in
the same area where the claws had been digging into him.Nicolae searched the floor he had been
sleeping on, looking for a stray nail, anything that would logically explain
why he was bleeding.But he knew that
most of what he had experienced in the last two years defied any type of
Nicolae rose, onto his still
trembling legs and picked up his bag.He
decided to move on as there wouldn’t be any way he could or would want to fall
back asleep.A lump of despair rose into
Nicolae’s throat as he thought of how the only serenity he had left had been
Sebastian’s disappearance troubled
Nicolae more than anything else.While
losing his parents, other siblings, and Eloisa had been the most horrific
experiences of his life, he at least knew what had happened with them.With Sebastian, there were no answers.
Nicolae started toward the house’s
front door, intending to exit as quickly as possible and start back toward the
path, putting as much distance between him and the house as he could.He was about to step outside when he heard a
loud bang on the floor above him, as if a piece of furniture had been knocked
over.Nicolae turned back, listening as the
house fell silent again.It wasn’t long
before he heard footsteps sliding across the floor toward the top of the staircase.Every warning sensory in Nicolae’s body was going
off.Somone was up there.Someone
who intended to follow him.He could
tell by the sound and pattern of the footsteps that his pursuer was human.
Nicolae made quick, silent strides
over to the staircase and crouched down beside it.He took out his dagger from his sheath and another
out from his bag.He looked up with
anticipation as a human shape appeared at the top of the stairs.He timed himself as the shape moved swiftly
down the stairs.As his pursuer reached
the bottom of the stairs, Nicolae rushed out and pummeled the individual to the
ground.The scream that came from the
person caught him off guard.It took him
a few seconds to find his words when he realized who he had just pinned down to
“What the hell is wrong with you?!”
he finally yelled.“Once again, I could
have killed you!Have you no sense at
Teresa lay on the floor underneath
him, frozen with shock and fear.Nicolae
stood up from being on top of her, put his daggers in one hand and offered her
assistance in standing with his other.
“Get up,” he ordered.
A shaken Teresa hesitated before taking
Nicolae’s hand and allowing him to help her up.Teresa stared at the floor as Nicolae retrieved his bag from over by the
stairwell.He got out his flask of water
and unscrewed the lid.
“Here,” he said, handing the flask
Teresa looked at the flask and then
at Nicolae, staring at him and not saying a word.
“It’s just water,” Nicolae said
rolling his eyes, “I’m not going to poison you.”
Teresa slowly took the flask from
him and took a small sip of water.She
watched as Nicolae walked across the room away from her before she took in some
more water.He stood with his arms
folded as he turned back to her, their eyes locking.
“Are you alright?” he finally asked.
Teresa clutched the flask, still
unable to answer him.
“Look, I apologize for attacking
you,” Nicolae continued, “but you shouldn’t be sneaking around behind someone in
the dark.What if I ended up slicing
your throat before realizing it was you?”
“I…I don’t know…I wasn’t thinking…”
Teresa managed to say.
Nicolae sighed.“Besides, I thought I told you to go back to
your village.We’re quite far from it
There was a long pause between them
before Teresa said, “I know… and I told you I can’t be there anymore.”
Nicolae walked back over to Teresa
studying the girl as he got closer to her.
“So you’ve been following me since
this morning,” he said.
Nicolae gave her a wry smile.He couldn’t help feeling amused and slightly impressed
that she managed to follow him for a full day unnoticed.
“Have you had enough?” Nicolae
asked indicating the flask.
Teresa nodded and handed it back to
him.She watched as Nicolae secured the
lid back onto the flask and caught a glimpse of his precious box as he returned
the flask and one of his daggers to his bag.
“Just out of curiosity,” he
continued returning the other dagger to the sheath on his belt, “for how long
were you planning on following me without my knowing?”
Teresa shrugged sheepishly.“I don’t know…” she said.
Nicolae shook his head and ran a
hand over his face.“I have to take you
back to your village,” he said.
“No!” Teresa protested.
“They woke up to both of us
missing.It’s possible that they think
that I’ve kidnapped you.”
Teresa took her eyes from
Nicolae.“I did try writing a note…” she
said.Her reading and writing abilities
were next to non-existent.She had
wanted to learn, but everytime she would try Gabriella or one of the elders
would discourage her, saying that all she needed to learn how to be was a good
wife to her future husband.
“You tried.Meaning they still don’t know that you left
on your own,” Nicolae prodded.
“I think,” Teresa said.
“No, no you think.Yes or no, were you successful in writing
your note telling them you left at your own choice,” Nicolae said.
“No,” Teresa admitted.
“Well, I’m taking you back.”
“Please don’t,” Teresa begged, her
voice barely above a whisper, “I can’t go back.”
“They want me to get married.”
“And you don’t want to?” Nicolae
“No…I mean yes…just not to the boy
they picked out for me.”
Nicolae took a step closer to the
girl.There were some things about her
that reminded him of Eloisa, though her face was a bit rounder and she was
shorter and a little softer spoken than Eloisa had been.
Nicolae shook his head. “You’re
certain no one has followed you here?”
“Yes,” Teresa insisted, “I kept
watching all day to make sure no one was following me.”
Nicolae gave out a relenting
sigh.“Well, I will admit I’m impressed
you made it this far outside of your village, regardless of how foolish a move
it was,” he said.
Teresa’s eyes lit up but Nicolae
held up a hand cutting her off before she had the opportunity to say anything.
“Listen, if you’re that intent on
traveling with me I want to make a few things clear,” he continued. “You mind
your own business and I mind mine.I’m
not looking for any type of close companionship.I’ll take you to the seaport and see that you
get on and off the ship safely and I’ll do my best to see that you are given whatever
you need once we are off.But that is
the extent of our relationship.If you
can’t accept those conditions, tell me right now because otherwise it is best
for you to return to your village.”
Teresa tried to mask her
not looking for any type of close companionship…that is the extent of our
relationship echoed back to her.
that’s not acceptable, she wanted to say, I think it’s ridiculous how you keep yourself so closed off from
But she nodded in agreement.Perhaps she would find a window of
opportunity to get closer to him.This
was better than nothing and going back to the village was out of the question to
her at this point.
“Good,” Nicolae said, “if we set
out now, I expect to cover much ground before the next nightfall.What did you bring with you?”
“What do you mean?” Teresa asked.
“You know.Supplies.Food, weapons, anything?”
“Not really…” Teresa muttered.
“Yes or no. ‘Not really’ isn’t an
answer,” Nicolae said.
“No,” Teresa said.
“And how long did you plan to
follow me undetected without anything to sustain you?”
“Well, I did bring some food with
me… but…I ate it all,” she confessed.
Nicolae rolled his eyes and raked a
hand through his wavy black hair.“This
is going to be a long night.Do you not
have any concept of rationing?”
“I guess not,” Teresa said through
gritted teeth.It’s going to be a long night for me too if you keep talking to me as
if I’m stupid, she thought, I can
learn you know.
Teresa watched Nicolae who seemed
to be deep in thought, weighing out options in his mind.He finally broke the silence by saying,
“Look, it’s probably better that I take you back.”
“Why,” Teresa demanded.
“Because I lack the time and
patience to parent someone and that’s what you need,” he snapped.“You’ve proven to me that you know nothing of
survival and I’m not in a position to teach a novice.”
Teresa’s mind was spinning with all
sorts of potential reactions.Her body
shook as she searched for the right words to say back to him.She had never stood up to anyone before, at
least not to the extent where it could potentially result in an argument.Her clenched fists began to go numb.Her mouth was dry as she tried to speak, not
knowing what would come out of it.
“You know nothing about me,” Teresa
managed to croak out.
“What are you talking about,”
“You think you know everything,” Teresa
said.Her voice shook and she was on the
verge of bursting into tears and was trying her best to keep from doing
Nicolae looked at her,
puzzled.“I’m telling you the way it
is,” he said, “would you rather I lie to you just so you feel better?”
“Well you don’t have to be so
mean!” Teresa exploded.Her willpower in
holding back her tears crashed as she ran out of the house.
Nicolae stood dumbfounded at what
had just happened.He knew he couldn’t
let her run out into the night by herself.
“Hey!” he called as he ran out
after her, slinging his bag across his torso (it was then he also realized he
didn’t remember her name).Nicolae was
able to catch up to her in almost no time.He stopped her by grabbing her arm.He turned her to face him and took her by the shoulders.
“Let go of me!” she cried struggling to get
out of his grasp but he was too strong for her.Nicolae could see Teresa’s cheeks were stained with fresh tears.
“And what’s your plan if I do?” he
countered.“Do you even know the way
back to your village?Did you watch your
path in case you would have to retrace your steps?”
Teresa collapsed defeated.Nicolae loosened his grip on her as she sank
to the ground sobbing.He looked at her
for a second before sitting down next to her.
“I’m sorry,” he finally said, “it’s
just that…living the way I do…it’s not easy.Even for me.You always have to
be thinking at least twenty steps ahead of where you are and you can never let
your guard down.Like I said, it even
gets hard for me.”
Teresa’s sobs died to small
hiccups.“Do you even remember my name?”
“No,” Nicolae said, “I make it a
point not to remember anyone’s name.It
keeps encounters less personal.”
“Why do you live your life alone?”
Teresa asked as she wiped tears away with the back of her hand.She could see Nicolae tense up at her
question.But he then relaxed a little before
answering, “Because I choose to.”
“But why,” Teresa asked.
“Look,” Nicolae said trying to hold
his patience, “part of the agreement of us traveling together is that we both
mind our own business and not pry into the other’s life.”
“I know,” Teresa said, “but I want
to know more about you.I want to know
you and for you to know me.”
Nicolae looked at the pretty young
girl who wore her heart on her sleeve.Pangs of guilt began to rack his body as he tried to search for the
words to get through to her.
“My name is Teresa,” she continued,
“so now you can call me by my name, Luiz.”
Nicolae looked back to the house,
avoiding eye contact with Teresa as he didn’t have any intention of telling her
about how he had adopted his father’s name.
“If you still wish to do so,”
Nicolae said, “I suppose you can come with me.But it is imperative that you do as I say.”
Nicolae stood up and then offered
his hands to Teresa, helping her to stand.Having his rough, callused hands around hers was enough for her knees to
turn to liquid.She had the sudden
memory of following him out to the lake only a couple nights ago and fought the
heat that crept up toward her face as she noticed the faint outlines of his
chest through his clothing.Teresa was
shaken from her fantasy when Nicolae broke their physical connection.
“First and foremost,” he said
indicating his bag, “never leave your supplies lying unattended.”
Teresa looked down at the bag
catching a corner of the box poking out.
“What’s in that box,” Teresa asked.
A defensive glint streaked
Nicolae’s eyes.“That is none of your
concern,” he said, “and don’t ask me that again.”
Nicolae began walking ahead of her
before he stopped and turned back to her, waiting for her to follow.She jogged to catch up to him and peered up
at the man she only knew as Luiz, walking in a stoic silence beside her.
They had only been traveling for an
hour when Teresa began lagging behind.Nicolae asked her three times if she needed to rest before Teresa would
admit to her weariness. She hadn’t slept at all that night.Back at the abandoned house, she had wanted
to be sure that she would be awake when Nicolae would leave and as a result,
had sat waiting in the dark until he had woken up.Nicolae selected a discreet area and Teresa
insisted to a skeptical Nicolae that she only needed a few minutes to
rest.That was nearly an hour ago and
Teresa was still fast asleep under the tree they stopped at.Nicolae sat with his hands inside his bag,
tightly gripping the box that held Eloisa’s ashes and grateful for the silence.Images of his wife filled his mind and the
idea of her disappearing from him for good disturbed and frightened him.He would be content if, for the rest of his
life, he could continue being with her every night after he had gone to sleep. They had consummated their union a month after
Eloisa had turned sixteen and Nicolae never had a wanting to be with anyone
else since, even after death took her.
Back in their village in Romania,
Nicolae and Eloisa didn’t have much trouble when it came to seeing one
another.One thing that the Romani did
have in common with the upper class was the chaperoned courtships with arranged
marriages.There were many Romani
communities through Europe who managed to keep this
tradition alive, Teresa’s village having been one of them.But this proved to be more difficult in the
countries where Romani slavery was still in practice.Families were being torn apart and there was
no telling how long a slave would even be kept by an owner.Romani slaves were also discouraged from
keeping the practiced traditions and identity of their culture, though many did
their best to keep their traditions.
Nicolae and Eloisa were chaperoned
in the beginning, but they soon mastered the art of sneaking away from the
village to be alone together and Dimitri Alexanderescu was among the main
reasons they had begun their sneaking around.In many parts of Romania,
slaves would need to have permission from their owners to marry and due to
Dimitri’s desire for Eloisa, the hope for her and Nicolae having any kind of
real wedding wasn’t very great.
Nicolae and Eloisa had their
arranged methods of sneaking around to see or at least catch a glimpse of one
another throughout their working day.In
the evenings (and in the morning on Sundays when the Domn and his family would
attend Mass), they would go off together to designated locations.Nicolae always looked forward to seeing her
and holding her.
The night Nicolae made Eloisa his
wife was in the early winter of 1842 during the annual Christmas gala at Alexanderscu
Castle.The castle was beautiful and festive at that
time of year and the gala was a grand event, far grander than anything Nicolae
and Eloisa had ever experienced.That
particular party was also the night Dimitri would be meeting his Austrian
fiancée for the first time.
Eloisa had been among the Romani
slaves who had remained houseslaves after childhood and had worked in the
kitchen during the preparation for the gala.It was later found out that Dimitri had requested Eloisa remain a
houseslave and that, of course, happened as Anton and Elsa never failed at
giving their two children exactly what they wanted.Dimitri lingered around Eloisa in the kitchen
during the gala preparation, acting as though he had come to oversee everything
on his father’s behalf, but would spend most of the time making subtle advances
toward Eloisa.But Nicolae and Eloisa
had hoped that the advances from Dimitri would cease now that he was betrothed
and would be meeting the girl he would marry, though that would end being far
from the case.
That night, Nicolae and Eloisa had
snuck over to the castle to see the castle during the gala.Despite their disdain for their owners, they
couldn’t help being amazed at the castle’s appearance.The joyous sounds of conversation and music
coming from inside the castle made the home of the Domn almost appealing.Nicolae and Eloisa had stood outside the gate
at a safe distance, looking at the large Christmas tree out in front, the
colored paper lanterns, the garland and ice sculptures that decorated the
grounds.Eloisa had wanted to go running
through the maze of ice sculptures, but the castle and it’s grounds were
heavily guarded for the event.It was
then that the light snow began to fall and Nicolae had leaned in to Eloisa,
kissing her and suggesting they go someplace to be alone together.
are alone,” Eloisa teased him.
know what I mean,” Nicolae said smiling at her before he pulled her into
another passionate embrace.Their lips
softly intertwined.Nicolae allowed the
tip of his tongue to enter her mouth causing Eloisa to let out a soft moan.
do you want to go,” Eloisa asked as she and Nicolae held their embrace after
their lips had parted.
Nicolae had taken Eloisa’s hand,
leading her to the shed which had been Nicolae’s newest discovery at the
time.He had been thinking of bringing
Eloisa there in the colder months as he came to realize that it wasn’t as used
as the other shed and he set it up as best he could for her.
lit up a lantern in the shed, filling the room with soft, dim light before
shutting the door.Eloisa watched with
butterflies filling her stomach as he went to the other end of the shed and
took down an old mattress discarded by the Alexanderescus and set it in the
center of the shed.She turned away,
attempting to mask her nerves.Through a
small window above, just beneath the shed’s roof, Eloisa could see the light
snow falling outside.She felt Nicolae
stepping up to her from behind, slipping his arms around her and pulling her to
him.Eloisa rested her head back onto
his shoulder, feeling his lips on her hair and traveling down the side of her
face to her neck.Eloisa’s heart began
racing as a mélange of feelings pulsed through her.In the past month, she and Nicolae had shared
a few heated embraces, but tonight, Nicolae was behaving more amorously than he
before.She gasped as she felt Nicolae
becoming aroused through the shield of their clothing.
you alright?” Nicolae asked her.
loosened his embrace on her.“What is
turned around to face Nicolae.“It’s
just…” she began lowering her eyes, “I…I love you, Nicolae.”
I love you,” Nicolae said.
watched Eloisa eyeing the mattress. “Do you want to leave?” Nicolae asked.
Eloisa said, “it’s just that…if we…I mean, I want to but you know what it means
if we do.”
you become my wife.”
that something you would like?” Nicolae asked with nervous anticipation.
much,” Eloisa said welling up, “but you know we have to get permission and you
know how Dimitri is toward me.And how
the Domn watches us.”
Nicolae said, his voice darkening, “yes, I know.”
stood silent for a moment before Eloisa spoke up again.“Nicolae, I do want to be your wife.More than anything.”
Nicolae said embracing her, “nothing could bring me more happiness.”
held their embrace before Eloisa rose and softly kissed Nicolae’s lips.
she whispered, “please make me yours.”
you sure?” Nicolae asked.
Nicolae and Eloisa both knew that
they were taking a risk that night, but sometimes one needs to take risks for
the person he or she loves.By that
time, they came to strongly resent the idea of the Domn and his family running
their lives to where they couldn’t openly be with one another.While they wanted to have a real wedding one
day, Nicolae and Eloisa saw that night as the beginning of them truly belonging
to one another.From their initial and
rather clumsy seating on the mattress to the thrill of seeing each other
undressed for the first time to Nicolae carefully entering her to extreme
pleasure of the climax, that night had been the beginning of both of them truly
feeling as though they belonged and had a purpose.Nicolae lived for Eloisa and she was his,
loving him the way he loved her.
Nicolae rested his head back
against the trunk of the tree and took the box of ashes out from the bag.Wherever Nicolae ended up in life, he knew he
wanted it somehow worked out to where his ashes would be spread with Eloisa’s
following his own death, whenever that would end up being.
Teresa rolled over in her sleep,
reminding Nicolae of her presence.He
avoided looking at her as he placed his box back into the bag in case Teresa
should wake up.He wanted to avoid any
more questioning of what the box held.
Nicolae had found Teresa very
challenging in the short time he had known her and far more exhausting to
travel with than Sebastian.She was
quite the conversationalist and was not shy about telling Nicolae her life
story even when his responses to her were less than enthusiastic (he couldn’t
help the relief he felt when Teresa finally went to sleep).Nicolae had also been able to cover alot more
ground with his younger brother than with Teresa as Teresa insisted on arguing
with him on things she knew nothing about.Nicolae was having second thoughts of allowing Teresa to come with him
any further.They were still close
enough to where he could get her back to her village in a relatively short time.
Nicolae dared to look down at the
sleeping girl.She didn’t make traveling
easy but he had to admit that his time with her so far had been far from
dull.And it was Teresa’s feistiness
reminded him a little of Eloisa.But
Eloisa had a more mature worldliness to her where Teresa’s sheltered upbringing
stuck out in her naivety.What did get
Nicolae’s attention was Teresa mentioning the loss of her parents at a young age.That was one thing that Nicolae understood about
Teresa and found common ground on with her even if he didn’t allow her to see
it.He was reminded of Sebastian and the
early morning he had awoken to find his younger brother missing and had waited
an entire day before moving on, searching for his brother.
Nicolae’s thoughts were interrupted
by a rustling in the brush close to where he and Teresa were.Nicolae stood facing the brush, taking out
his dagger and stepped protectively in front of Teresa and the bag with
Eloisa’s remains.A shadow moved the
brush and stepped out toward them.Nicolae
relaxed when it was discovered to be a fox.The fox froze, gazing curiously at Nicolae before it turned and
disappeared back into the trees.