29th of June, 1263, 8:07pm
The Kicking Pig Tavern
Timisoara, Western Transylvania
Iakov sat outside the tavern eyeing the door. This was such a stupid plan he was sure that his brother, Iózsef, was going to be killed by that lunatic barkeep Simon was going to murder him.
A week ago Iózsef had fallen asleep while drinking with his friends and had stayed behind to help Simon clean up after he kicked everyone out to work off a debt. He was busy scrubbing the blood out of the hearth (a man called Dobrev brained himself while trying to prove he could perform a backflip) Iózsef found a loose stone.
Inside the hollow behind the stone he found a book (Iózsef called it a Journal but he was mostly illiterate so what did he know) that had to be as old as the tavern. Inside was a map of Timisoara (though it called the city Temeschburg) with an X marking an old farmhouse a mile from the gate.
When they were kids they heard a story, an old story that every kid in the city knew by heart:
“Once, Long ago before Timisoara existed there were just a few small families that farmed the land. And then one day, hundreds of years ago, a Nobleman came from the east. Now this Count was old when he came to build his home here, but he lived for a long time, long enough to build the city around him and to shower prosperity on those families that had helped him. But death comes for everyone even the Old Count and when he died he left his home to his children.
“Now this home was no lowly farm house but was the great castle upon the hill that could be seen throughout the city. His children died a long time ago and their children and their children besides, but his descendants still called that castle home.
“But according to legend when the old Count came to Timisoara he brought with him a great treasure, one that granted him both his vast wealth and his extraordinarily long life and he knew that his sons and daughters could not be trusted with that treasure and he made sure that the treasure would be hidden away forever, hiding it where no one would ever think to look.”
Of course Iózsef believed every word and this map of his bore the old noble family’s crest so why not, he argued, go and try and find unlimited wealth and the source of a long life.
Iakov thought his baby brother crazy, but the possibility of unlimited wealth was persuasive.
So now he waited, noting that it would be dark soon while his brother was still in the Tavern, supposedly bartering for Simon to allow him to borrow his cart.
After a half an hour Iakov would be offended if Iózsef came out sober.
“Come on, Brother!” – Iózsef voice, suddenly.
Iakov jumped in fright, he hadn’t seen his brother leave the Kicking Pig let alone heard him sidle up behind him with a cart.
“Damn you, Io, where’d you come from?”
“I had to go out back to get the cart so I thought I’d come around the long way and surprise you.” – Iózsef, his speech ever so slightly slurred.
“Well you did.” – Iakov
“I got ‘nother one too, Iakee.” – Iózsef
“What’s that?” – Iakov
His brother held up two clay pitchers, sloshing their dark contents as he did. A giant grin split his face.
Iakov returned the grin.
It was gonna be a good night.
29th of June, 1261, 10:18pm
Somewhere outside the gates
Timisoara, Western Transylvania
“Are you sure yer reading that map right, Iakee?” – Iózsef slurred as he stumbled forward with the cart
They’d been walking for more than two hours without any sign of the Farmhouse on the map and none of this was farmland anymore. The trees took it back years ago.
“How the hell should I know Io? I can’t read the damned thing any better than you can. We just gotta look for the hill and the tree and the house’ll be on the eastern side of it.” – Iakov
“Oh.” – Iózsef
His brow furrowed.
“Which way’s east, bro?”
Iakov stopped dead in his tracks and turned around, nearly losing his balance in the process.
“How the hell should I know.” – Iakov.
Minutes passed in silence.
“I wish we’d brought a mule.” – Iózsef
“Yeah. A mule would have been good, also ladies.” – Iakov added.
“Yeah, Ladies are so much better than a mule.” – Iózsef
“That’s not what you were saying last week.” – Iakov
“You go straight to hell you Damned Liar!” – Iózsef yelled.
“You first, Mule-Fucker!” – Iakov laughed.
He shoved his brother, sending him rolling down into a ditch
“Get back up here and move this cart!” – Iakov yelled.
His voice echoed off the hillside and the trees.
“I think I found it!” – Iózsef called from below.
Iakov hefted the cart and jogged down the road until he found the path to the farmhouse. It wasn’t easy, as the path looked as though it had not been used in some time.
When he reached the bottom he saw a smallish barn that looked as though it might still be serviceable and what looked like a great ghost of a house.
“Maybe the legends were true brother. Look.” – Iózsef, pointing at the ground.
Though the way from the road had been overgrown the field on which a farmer might have grown something was completely barren and littered with stone.
“Shit.” – Iakov
He’d forgotten the part of the story that explained why the family never went looking for the treasure (it was so easy to remember the good stuff when you were young). According to some accounts of the legend the old man put a curse on the treasure; that should the unworthy try to take it as their own they would find their luck turn sour and their lives drained from them.
Maybe the curse was so strong that it killed the farmland just by being buried underneath it.
“Probably just bad land.” – he slurred
“ha, yeah.” – Iakov didn’t sound so sure.
The house’s roof was caved in and there was no longer a door, just a gaping opening.
“Are we sure we want the treasure that badly?” – Iakov
“If the treasure’s real, we’ll never have to work again.” – Iózsef
“What if there’s no floor?” – Iakov
“Our house doesn’t have a floor.” – Iózsef
“No, you moron, What if it’s just a hole on the other side of the door.”
“Then at the bottom of that hole we’ll find Treasure!” – Iózsef excitedly
“So you’re going into the house?” – Iakov
“Oh no. You’re going in the house.” – Iózsef
“What!?” – Iakov
“I found the map, I found the house, now it’s your turn, also you’re older.” – Iózsef
“What, wait, no, no, no! I am older by three seconds!” – Iakov
“You’re still responsible for my safety as your younger brother!”
“That’s not fair!” – Iakov
“After fourteen years, its time you realized life ain’t fair!” – Iózsef
“I’ll flip you for it. Do you have a coin?” – Iakov, desperate
“Go in the house and we’ll have lots of coins, but if you insist I’ll race you for it. First one in the house wins.” – Iózsef
“Very we… No, I’m not falling for that again. This isn’t like last time!” – Iakov
“Okay, pick a number. You guess the right one and you go first” – Iózsef
“Damnit, how did you know? You win, go on in.” – Iózsef
“Ha! Wait, Dammit!”
Iakov inched his way up to the door, whimpering softly as he went.
“Come on, Lion-heart, any day now.” – Iózsef
“Shut up, I’m doing it.” – Iakov seemed to be on the verge of hyperventilating as he tried to psych himself up.
“You’re going to make some lady real proud one day, you know that.” – Iózsef, snickering.
Iakov took a deep breath and stepped into the doorway, and dropped, screaming all the way down.
“Wow, you were right, it was a giant hole. Did you break something on that fall?” – Iózsef laughed.
Iakov turned toward his brother and sneered, he stood a foot lower than the door way and he prayed that his brother couldn’t see the growing stain on his tunic.
“Come on, quit laughing.” – Iakov
Iózsef didn’t quit laughing but he did hop down onto the dirt floor.
The house was a single, surprisingly large, room with a few decrepit and weathered bits of furniture and a large hearth against the back wall.
“The cellar’s supposed to be at the back of the house.” – Iózsef, dragging a shovel behind him.
They had little trouble finding the hatch, which was far larger than a root-cellar door should be and it was chained shut.
“Who chains a root cellar shut?” – Iózsef
“Someone who buried treasure in it, lets get in there!” – Iakov
“But there’s a chain.” – Iózsef
Iakov slammed the head of the shovel down hard onto the rusted chain which clanged loudly as it broke.
“Shovel.” – Iakov, flatly.
Like the cellar door, the stairs down were surprisingly sturdy and probably of higher quality than the house itself.
The root cellar ceiling was low, forcing the brothers to stoop, and led back and away from the house.
“Who has a cellar this big?” – Iózsef
“Where’s the treasure?” – Iakov
Maybe it’s behind the curtain.” – Iózsef pointed to a tapestry hanging upon the far wall. It was the only thing in the cellar at all.
Its heraldry was simple, it was a black cross upon a white field.
The lantern flickered from a bit of wind coming from the cellar door making their shadows dance upon the wall, Iózsef laughed at how they seemed to flit around the third, shorter one that stood between them.
But that couldn’t be right, it was just the two of them. He looked again and found that he’d somehow miscounted. There were, in fact, two shadows dancing upon the wall.
“Spooky.” – Iózsef
“What?” – Iakov, looking over his shoulder.
“Oh, ‘cause I thought maybe you were reacting to the way the lantern made it look like there was a third shadow on the wall.” – Iakov, his voice cracking ever so slightly.
“Nope.” – Iózsef lied.
“You’re drunk.” – Iózsef laughed
“So what.” – Iakov laughed back.
They turned back to the tapestry and stared at it for a moment.
“on three?” – Iakov
“One…Two…Three… PULL!” – Iózsef counted
Iakov pulled the curtain back and jumped away as if he’d seen a spider.
“It’s a wall, Jakie.” – Iózsef
“Of course it is.” – Iakov
Iózsef reached out and touched the wall, running his fingers over the lines in its smooth face.
“No kidding, and mom always called me the bright one.” – Iakov
While the section of the wall was indeed brick it contained a recessed panel of smooth stone the size and shape of a door.
“one, two, three not it” – Iakov
“one, two, ah dammit.” – Iózsef
Iakov laughed as his brother sized up the ‘door’
“What are you doing?” – Iakov asked.
Iózsef ignored his brother as he backed up.
“one, two, three…” – Iózsef, before running shoulder first into the stone slab
He bounced off and fell to the ground, clutching his shoulder.
Iakov looked expectantly at his brother.
“Did anything happen?” – Iózsef
“It’s stone.” – Iakov.
“But did I move it.” – Iózsef
“No, it’s stone.”
“The map said the Treasure was in the root-cellar, and there’s no treasure.” – Iakov
“Why would they put a curtain in the cellar unless they wanted to hide a treasure?” – Iózsef
“Look at the map! Do you see anything about a curtain?” – Iakov
Iózsef looked at the map. Sure enough there was not a curtain or a cross, but there was a rectangle.
“Look at this, it’s a rectangle next to a tiny square and a triangle.” – Iózsef, pointing at the bottom right corner of the map.
Iakov looked at the map and then at the door/slab. Sure enough a foot from the floor on the right was a single brick that was slightly out of place. With a shrug he reached out and pulled on it.
“It’s loose.” – Iakov, pulling it all the way out of the wall.
Iózsef looked into the hole and inside was a small iron triangle.
“It looks kind-a like a key.” – Iózsef, looking at Iakov expectantly.
With a heavy sigh Iakov reached in and turned the triangle; sure enough it turned just like a key.
With a loud thud the slab fell a half of an inch.
“I got it.” – Iakov said throwing himself at the slab with all of his might.
He hit the stone slab found himself falling when it gave away easily under his weight, landing hard (and loudly) on the stone floor beyond the door.
Iózsef, watching his brother land began to laugh but stopped short when he saw a figure standing in the darkness beyond.
“What!” – Iakov, sitting up abruptly and holding his head.
“The guy!” – Iózsef cried and pointed over his brother’s shoulder, but the man was gone.
“What guy?” – Iakov
“He was there, standing over you with his big beard and his weird robe and his black eyes.” – Iózsef whimpered.
Iakov spun around to find an empty (and really dark) corridor.
“Bring the Lamp.” – Iakov called back as he stood, rapping his head painfully on the roughhewn stone ceiling.
Iózsef laughed at his brother’s pain while reaching down to pick up the lamp only to stand up and crack his own head on the hard, earthen cellar ceiling.
“Shut up.” – Iózsef to a smirking Iakov as he rubbed his bruised scalp.
The corridor was long and low, so long that Iakov was sure that they now stood beneath the fallow field above. It was no wonder that the soil was barren.
They followed the tunnel until they reached a solid wooden door marked by the crest of the Noble family upon the hill.
“We’re gonna be SOOOO rich little brother!” – Iakov, slapping his brother on the chest
“I know, right!” – Iózsef, looking from the door to his brother expectantly.
“Seriously?” – Iakov said before pushing the door open.
What they found was a largish room of earth and stone filled stacks of rectangular lockboxes five boxes high, old murals and mosaics lined the wall, the largest of which depicted a number of figures: a very tall old man in black robes, a beautiful woman in white, an angry and rough looking man with a beautiful woman on his arm, a young knight with a sullen look upon his face, and a bearded man dressed in blue robes.
“That’s the man in the corridor!” – Iózsef cried out
“And this is the treasure of my dreams!” – Iakov, opening a chest that turned out to be full of silver.
Seeing what his brother found, Iózsef ran to another chest, this one was also filled mostly with silver but he found various other precious stones and even some gold.
“We’ve got to get this upstairs!” – Iózsef
29th of June, 1261, 11:46pm
The Tomb of the Old Count
Timisoara, Western Transylvania
“Should we take the statue?” – Iózsef asked as he looked at a marble bust of a jowly old man with a serious expression and thin hair. The bust was titled DIMITIES.
“Nah, I think we should leave the books too, it’s all old, look how old this stuff is. It’s all from when Grandpa was a kid. This guy must have died like a hundred years old.” – Iakov, flipping through a book.
“Crap, I found another chest full of clothes.” – Iakov, heaving the lock box to the side, where it landed on the shriveled corpses of the idiots who heaved the door into place.
“Iakov you gotta see this!” – Iózsef called from the back of the room.
Iakov followed after his brother’s voice singing the song they’d written as they’d carried the boxes out:
“I’m gonna by me a wi-ife/ I’m gonna by me a wife/ I am-a gonna by me two wi-iii-ives!” – it had a catchy tune to be sure.”
It seemed that his brother found another room when he pulled down one of the tapestries.
“Hurry up Iakov.” – his brother called.
“What’d you find?”
“Come and see.”
Rolling his eyes Iakov slipped into the small chamber and screamed.
Lying on a slab and draped in silken robes was a body, better preserved than the others, but still heavily desiccated. A thick spidery gray beard enveloped the bottom of its shriveled face.
“You piece of shit!” – Iakov screamed while throwing a handful of silver at him.
After a moment he couldn’t help but join his brother in the laugh.
“Check out his hands.” – Iózsef said, lifting one.
“Is that gold?” – Iakov
“At least two pounds of it.” – Iózsef laughed.
“Leave it be, I’m not gonna be a grave robber.” – Iakov
“… You already are one.” – Iózsef countered
“It’s different.” – Iakov shot back
“In that case, I call ‘em.” – Iózsef as he gleefully began plucking the rings off the dead man’s hands.
“I’m taking another lockbox out.” – Iakov said over his shoulder.
Once he got all of the rings off the right hand he reached for the left only for the fingers to curl into a loose fist.
“Try not to be so creepy, old man.” – Iózsef, chuckling nervously.
With a rustling sound the corpse’s head rolled so that it almost looked like it was looking at him.
“Eyes forward, son.” – Iózsef laughed, his nervousness growing.
Iózsef got up, suddenly feeling the need to pace.
What was taking Iakov so long? He should have been back by now.
UNLESS HE LEFT YOU HERE.
“who said that?”
Who said what? Had he heard anything? Who could have said anything? No one else was here. No one but him and…
He looked back at the corpse. It hadn’t moved.
“What did you expect, Joe?” – he asked himself.
It was probably his guilt over taking the dead Count’s treasure. He was buried with this stuff, he must have been loved. Hell, those two dead fellows in the other room were willing to die for him, right? What kind of monster was he for taking them from the man?
He had to wonder what the guy was like while alive, was he a good man? Of course he was, what else could he be.
After thinking about it he realized that, yes, he should return the rings, it would be a little thing to slip them back onto the corpse’s fingers.
“I’ll do right by you, sir.” – Iózsef whispered into the corpse’s withered ear.
He patted the old count’s body on the chest and turned to go back in the other room when he heard something hit the ground behind him.
Iózsef looked over his shoulder to find the corpse standing a foot from him. The thing’s lips, already taut enough to reveal the count’s long teeth, curled back into a snarl revealing two razor sharp fangs.
“huh.” – was all Iózsef could say as his drunken mind processed what he saw.
The corpse lurched forward with a dry snarl, its hands reaching out with bone-thin fingers to grab Iózsef’s face.
For his own part Iózsef finally found his voice at the same moment he found his feet and ran from the creature, with all due haste, screaming all the way.
Iakov sat on the back of the cart running a silver piece through his fingers and drinking from one of the jugs of ale that they’d brought from the Kicking Pig when he heard the faint screams of his brother.
“What a baby. It’s just a spider ya girl!” – Iakov shouted into the house from the cart.
His brothers screams had grown louder, like he was coming closer, and doing so very quickly.
He was surprised to see his brother run out of the house and past the cart toward the tree line.
Iakov turned to laugh at his brother.
“Where are you going, Little brother.” – Iakov called to his brother.
He stood their chuckling and drinking when he felt the cart bounce a little bit. He was still chuckling when he turned around and found himself face to face with the corpse from the cellar.
Iakov never found his voice as the dead man bared his fangs.
12th of August, 1261, 10:18pm
Timisoara, Western Transylvania
Iózsef stood nervously before the hall’s door. He wasn’t sure why he was there or why the Sheriff had made him come. In truth he wasn’t sure of anything since that night in June when he left his brother to die.
He was living on the streets now, he hadn’t returned to the farm, nor had he gone home. He made do on stealing root vegetables and begging for alcohol and sleeping in the woods.
He’d been pacing for a while, now.
“Thank you for waiting, Iózsef.” – the Mayor’s noisy voice appeared before he did.
He was a tall man with thin hair and a long nose as he sat behind the small desk.
“Do you know why I’ve sent for you?” – the mayor, still not looking up from whatever he was wearing.
“No, sir.” – Iózsef’s voice was weak.
“It seems that you’ve been telling stories at the taverns for the price of a drink.” – The Mayor, he still hadn’t looked up from what he was doing.
“I am not doing it for money. They need to know what’s out there; they need to know what we woke up in that house.” – Iózsef voice gained some strength as he spoke.
“No they don’t.”
“What?” – Iózsef was taken aback.
“The people of Timisoara are happy not knowing what is out there, they’ve been happy with the arrangement since the Count came here sixty-four years ago. They’re happy not knowing what is out there in the night, Iózsef, and to be clear, you didn’t do anything. They’ve been here all along. You simply awoke their Master. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve somewhere to be and there is someone who wishes to speak with you.” – The mayor stood and strode out of the room, without looking up or acknowledging Iózsef again.
“You’ll forgive Sebestyan, he’s always been so nervous, even when he was a child.” – A deep voice said from behind Iózsef.
Iózsef braced himself and turned to face the thing that ruined his life.
It wasn’t what he expected. The man standing before him was short but broad of shoulder. His hands, clasped before him, seemed soft and inviting, even with the rings that he’d given back. The Count’s smile was bright even through his thick black beard. Most shocking, though, were his eyes, were so dark that they seemed to absorb what little light was in the room.
“Who are you?” – Iózsef
“I am called Count Kyrillos Dimities and I built this city so that my family could flourish.” – The Count
The count furrowed his brow for a moment at the question.
“Why did I kill your brother, you mean? You left me no choice, Iózsef. You and your brother caused me to awaken much earlier than expected and, more to the point, you ran faster than he did.” – Kyrillos, in a tone that might have been kindly hadn’t been a monster saying monstrous things.
The boy felt dizzy and suddenly became sure that he was going to be sick.
“Please, Iózsef, come home with me, I would like to show you something.” – The Count.
Suddenly he seemed utterly reasonable. Of course he’d go with the count, why wouldn’t he. He would explain everything.
12th of August, 1261, 11:00pm
The Count’s Castle
Timisoara, Western Transylvania
The monster that had talked him into coming with him into his home stood just inside the castle’s door.
“Please, Iózsef, do come in.” – the Count asked politely.
“No! I don’t know how you got me to come with you here but there is no way in Hell that I’ll follow you any further.” – Iózsef
“Please, brother, we really should talk.”
Standing in front of him, just inside the castle’s threshold stood his brother looking strong and clean and alive, his brilliant smile revealing a pair of wicked fangs.