The tour guide promised a visit to an historic site ‘steeped in blood and mystery.’
They called it the ‘Darkness Castle’. It was abandoned now, and ruined by centuries of weather and the indifferent cruelty of time. Still, that seemed fitting, for if history was to be believed, cruelty was as much a part of this place as the bricks and mortor that held its remaining ramparts high.
In those walls sacrifices were made, at every harvest and before every war. They say a queen lived here who, like Countess Bathory, believed in the restorative properties of young blood – young blood consumed, young blood bathed in, young blood taken in the most horrendous and frightening, traumatic ways imaginable.
In one destroyed large room of the castle it is said the long gone roof had many openings to allow the moonlight to seep in, like a thousand stars, on a floor bathed in blood. And it is said they danced there and revelled, and were wanton in their cruelty.
Now, it’s just ruins, just an old place. We walk through the rooms and hallways still safe enough to visit and touch the walls as though to feel the ghosts of time cry out to us. I hear nothing, I feel nothing. I don’t believe in ghosts.
But I do believe in the cruelty of mankind. I do believe the stories are true. Just as I believe the other rumours, that somewhere now in this city, in the places where the modern rich meet, that the rituals continue.
That’s why I travel with friends and I never let myself be alone in this city, in this place. For the Darkness Castle may be fallen, but something just as bad has risen in its wake.
And I do not intend to be its sacrifice. I’m just a tourist, passing through. It is not my time to die.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019