Darc Minore Castle, by Tori M.

          "Open up! Do you actually think I would like to spend the night inside this castle? You know Romania is supposed to go below freezing tonight!" growled Rasa as she slammed herself against the wood and metal door. It shuddered ever so slightly, but the broom lock they had created held firm.
          "This is so stupid! I am stuck in this ancient old castle- because of a broom and a group of kids!" Rasa vented, extremely frustrated. She paced across the floor, back and forth.
          "You said you would stay in Darc Minore Castle for 42 Euro. Well, soon we will know," the group said.
          Abruptly, the swiftly angering Rasa cut them off. She felt as though she was a soda bottle, being shaken and shaken. Pressure was building up and soon the lid would fly!
          Pop! "Yes, I did, but haven't you ever done the same? Possibly another time, but not now, especially with the hail, rain, and freezing temperature! Who in their right MIND would want to do this?!" She snapped angrily.
          "So, you admit it. Well---" They were, once again, interrupted by Rasa.
          "Why won't you just go away!" Rasa roared.
          "As you wish," the leader said. For an unusually quiet moment with them around, there was peace. A silent still was upon them, then, a volcano of laughter erupted. Their voices slowly died away as they left. Rasa tried to listen, until all that was noticeable was the rumble of thunder, and noisy clatter of hail pounding what was left of the roof.
          "Arghh! Sometime I am going to knock some sense---" Rasa gave herself a mental slap. "Not now, but when I get out of here…oops, I can't see much. I guess I will need to look around" Rasa gave a stupid grin. "If I could see! Oh, a flashlight."
          She opened the pack, searching for a flashlight, and managed to find one, yet this search also showed that it was Eila's- her sister. It was all packed for their coming weekend at Elren Lake. Matches, a flashlight, trail mix, a sleeping bag, and a garlic-cheese sandwich were all her search revealed, in the eerie, dim moonlight.
          As soon as her eyes caught sight of it, Rasa turned it on. Her thumb moved the worn on-off switch, and a dim glow appeared. This feeble bit of light would not illuminate what Rasa needed to see!
          "Luckily, Eila packed matches, so I may be able to make a fire…but I can not get out to get wood! Wait---if I could get out, I would not need to make a fire in the first place! Oh well, no point thinking on pointless subjects," Rasa thought.
          Then she looked up. Among the things she could see were eerie appearing patches of light, dust, catwalks on the wall, darkness, stairs, stone, and yet even more dust and darkness.
          "No way I am going to use only windows to escape," thought Rasa. "I might be able to cram Eila's sandwich out the window. Ha!"
          She shut her eyes and imagined herself on a horse, javelin in hand, on the lands surrounding Darc Minore Castle. It seemed to be shrouded with a mysterious, dark cloak. Thick fog enveloped Rasa and her comrades. He had become too powerful; the citizens of her town are now standing up for what they believe in. Battle looms over this place as they fight for fair ruling. Screams filled the air around, and monstrous trees looked to be corpse hands, reaching for the murky gray sky. Heavy with rain, black and deep gray clouds mingle near the tops of trees. Noisy eruptions of thunder and lightning shook the earth, and did not help with the feeling of dread experienced by all. Quick as the lightning, an arrow was nearing! Rasa shuddered with the thought of it.
          She saw what appeared to be a door at the end of the left catwalk. Rasa slowly crept over to the stairway, and soon began climbing up. "Hmm, maybe this is not as hard as I thought it would be," she optimistically thought.
          CRACK! Her board was breaking! Rasa looked around quickly. No time! No time! No---Rasa forced her panicked self to think. She saw actual thick boards above and snatched them. The force of shoving off with her feet shattered the boards. They clattered to the floor with a resounding boom.
          Rasa saw a sight that brought a lurching feeling to her stomach. There was only a narrow path of gnarled sticks, varying as much in size and width as redwood does to a dogwood tree. She carefully inched forward, always keeping a hand on the "rail" in case it (gulp) cracked again. After a bit of scratching, or nearly falling because of a weak branch, she reached the end!
          In the area where it ought to be, the wall was blank!
          Rasa hesitantly laughed at her own mistake. "Ooops. It is below. Well, that hole should allow me to enter it," she thought. "But how?" Her eyes then noticed the railing. She carefully moved over and grabbed the wood, dropped, and swung. She landed, tottered, and was okay.
          Tilt! The pack was making her lean backwards, near the shattered walkway. She grabbed the nearest thing available and held on, and pulled herself up. Once again, Rasa pulled off her backpack, got a match, and lit it.

          It was one long hallway with various entrances. There were old torches mounted into the wall, between entrances. She ran with her match that sputtered to life when it came in contact with a torch. She lit all the torches, and grabbed one.

          Tattered cloth strips draped some doors, while others had wooden doors. The murky gray stone walls were worn, and Rasa felt strange, walking in this place so long ago inhabited. She also felt nervous, halfway expecting some "freak of nature" to hop out, and the other part told her to be strong and adventurous.

          Rasa stuck her head in one, and saw one piece of wood with a straw and cloth mattress and old, musty, worn sheets. A small barrel served as a table and the closet had a cloth door. A tin bedpan was placed under the "bed". Each room additionally had a torch mounted in the wall. Rasa thought that the rooms were all for servants, seeing how crummy they were.

          When she as done passing the last wooden entrance door, she came upon a stairway. It was moist, and she could hear drips echo throughout the stairwell…"step, drip, step, step, drip, step, step, drip, step, drip, sploosh (puddle)" and so on until she, minutes later reached the end.

          Rasa gasped. There was a large amount of rusty, iron cages. Each had a bed similar to the servant straw-cloth cot beds and a ghastly white skeleton. Each had a pair of vacant, staring eye sockets, and one had what appeared to be a scratched eye socket! She did not want to know how that happened! "Hmm, maybe a prank someone did recently, " she thought. At the back was a large ring with old, copper and iron keys.

          She walked towards the keys. Rasa wondered, with interest, if they would work. She walked carefully, trying to stay as far away as she could possibly from…them. Every key was rusted and worn, but built to last.

          While examining them, Rasa noticed a patch of floor that had what seemed to be a crack surrounding it. Rasa stepped on it to further examine it, and momentarily heard a groaning noise! The floor literally fell away, and her cross necklace was hooked on a bit of wood! For a split second she was hanging, but it snapped, and landed near her on the floor.
          As soon as the debris cleared, Rasa snatched it, and looked at her surroundings. Behind her was a stretch of dark, and ahead a black coffin loomed. She hesitantly moved closer and read the gold letters on it.
          " 'Coot Dracala'. No, that sounds ridiculous, it must be "Count Dracula. Count Dracula!" she thought. The words reverberated in her mind like an echo. There had been dense fog clouding her mind about the letters, but now it was gone. It had just vanished, all was clear and she was scared!
          "If I want to sleep, I need to do it," Rasa told herself. She gingerly grabbed the edge and pulled. All it revealed was a pitch black satin lining. There is no Count Dracut there. But then the realization that he could be somewhere else gripped her mind like a vise.
          "Humans who have seen my lair may leave, but not as they were," spoke a menacingly low voice.
          Rasa whipped her head around.
          A man with a long, black cape, black and white clothes, and blazing orange-red eyes faced her. His pale white skin nearly matched the very same shade Rasa's turned as she stared.
          "You have seen me, the coffin, my coffin, and the stragglers." At this point Rasa remembered the skeletal remains of the people in iron cages. "I know your kind. Word of it will spread like a plague. People will swarm, wanting to see me, or even worse, go hunting. Vampire hunting. A vampire is what you will leave this castle as, if you do leave." The Count spoke in a cold voice.
          Rasa tingled with fear and muffled a scream.
          "A cross!" Spoke the vampire as he saw her cross-chain. The count shrank away from her, trying to escape.
          Rasa instinctively grabbed the nearest thing to her, and hurled it immediately. Since she did not have a good aim, the sandwich landed a few feet ahead of him with a squishing sound.
          Miraculously, he moaned "Garlic!" and moved back until he seemed stuck between the cross and her sister's sandwich. There seemed to be a bubble-like barrier between the wall, sandwich, and Rasa. He just trembled there; trying to stay as far away as possible, just as Rasa did with the skeletons.
          Rasa felt something friendly and warm on her back, and turned around slowly. She muttered, "Rotten wood, vampires, bullies, trapdoors, dungeons, what next?" 

          It was a few small rays of sunlight being let in through a small hole at the very top of the grate-bars in the dungeon.
          "Sun!" the vampire squeaked like a frightened mouse. The once mighty count was now shaking in a huddle on the floor.
          Rasa caught herself staring, but for a good reason, too. Inch by inch, foot by foot, the Count was turning to gray stone. The expression on his face, and such minute details as a small hole in the cape, were shown. It was lifelike, yet not actually living. It seemed to be a stone freeze-frame of a horrified vampire.
          Rasa cautiously touched it and instantaneously it blew apart in a cloud-like explosion of gray dust and sand. It slowly settled over the floor, sprinkling it with gray dust.
          Immensely shocked, Rasa rummaged around and managed to find a tin cup, scooped the dust in and dumped it into the coffin. Now, there was the problem of getting out of there.
          "Finally, I might make it home," she muttered sarcastically, but realized the problem of leaving the castle. She decided on exploring the now dawn-lit area behind her.
          She mainly heard water drips and saw mounted torches, but came to a large dumbwaiter. Rasa hated heights, so she decided on trying to use the dumbwaiter to get up, or at least somewhere else! Upon closer examination, it was shown that she had dropped too far to climb up through the hole that she fell in. When she lowered the torch, it became clear that it was wooden, with metal support. Rasa put her torch out before crawling inside, so as not to set the dumbwaiter on fire! She also left the door open, to see where she was. There was some light, so it was not that bad.
          She pulled herself up, hand over hand. After about a dozen pulls, she rested, panting, and noticed that her jacket was snagged. She reached to grab it, realized her mistake, and quickly bounded over to the stone floor. Hearing a whirring noise, Rasa began counting to see how long it would take to reach bottom. "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-CRASH" A fairly quiet echo-like crash came up from the dumbwaiter's path.
          Dead-end! Taking in her surroundings, Rasa decided it probably was a cellar. Old, wooden, dusty shelves were in rows, and smaller wooden shelves lined the walls. There were rows of gray, brown, green, clear blue and dark purple jars filled up with wine and beer, or fruit preserves. Rasa wandered back within the cobweb-ridden shelves. She stopped at one shelf and chose a deep blue bottle to keep and kept moving. It seemed to be filled with purplish berries, and had a dark red wax seal with the entwined initials C and D.
          Many shelves later (who is counting) Rasa caught sight of a staircase. As Rasa set about going up it, she realized that when the last landing was reached, it had taken her about as long to climb it, as it had taken to go down the "drip"-case.
          As she neared the top, a very welcome sight met her eyes: two stone doors! Yet before she opened them, she stopped to say this: "What the Count said is true. I probably would tell other about what is in this castle, and what happened. So, I won't, by this…bottle!" Rasa said as she thrust it into the air. Inwardly she thought, "Now, I have an excuse to keep it!"
          Then she shoved the doors. They stuck somewhat, but gave up and moved outwards. Rasa never thought she would be so happy to see the castle entrance room again1 She walked over to the front doors, anxious to get out.
          She figured that they had come by earlier and had removed the broom, or someone had decided to move it before she tried. With a big shove, the doors moved!
          Rasa emerged into the gray-skied world of a Romanian winter and sighed. "A lot of people are depressed now that it is winter. It is dark, days are short, and everyone wants it to end, but I am happy!" Rasa then grinned inwardly. ": At last I made it out, and got an antique medieval bottle, and will not stay up most of the night watching Dracula or some other horror-castle movie, being half scared out my wits. I could not use the phrase 'but they are not real' to comfort myself," she thought.
          On the way home, Rasa stopped at Kroumlen Jewelry to try to get her necklace repaired. The little bell hanging on the door chimed as she went through. The room was brightly lit, and had many display signs, which read "Big Sale! Huge Savings! 28% off all Jonlew High Quality Necklaces" Generally Rasa ignored these signs, as there was little money to go around in Romania.
          She walked up to the counter and asked how much it would be to repair a necklace chain. "Well, that depends, really. May I see?" Responded an older woman with many bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and bangles. She wore multiple brightly colored scarves, one of which held down her frizzy hair, a tie-dye skirt, a green blouse, and two star earrings. Her scarves looked like autumn leaves, they were that wonderful. She certainly loved her business! "Whoa! What did you do, try and hang from it?" she said, a frown appearing.
          "If she only knew, that is just what I did!" Rasa thought, then blushed slightly. "Well, you see, it is a long story…I would rather not tell you the entire thing. Actually, I can't!"

                                                ~Fin~

Authors Note: I wrote this a few years ago, and since I liked it decided to publish it here. I don't know what I was inspired by, Goosebumps maybe? Anyway, there could just maybe be a sequel. Y'know, they were planning that trip to Elren Lake…hmm. Yup, hoped ya liked it. I realize Dracula is a really overused vampire name and he was not such a wimp, but I originally wrote it that way. If you think of a better name, tell me by all means. "Rasa", the name, was born when I scrambled around Sarah. Feedback plz…k, I think I will be quiet now. That is all I have to say, unless you have questions.