February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
“It is you,” the monk said, and with that, stopped even his breath, in await for an answer.
Regina knew how to play each and every card, for she let the monks stir in their own emotions and thoughts, before providing an answer.
She looked questioningly at the monk, confused a bit.
The monk repeated the same phrase in Latin.
Regina said nothing again, and before I even knew it, the monk was trying to muster his words in yet another language.
Then, Regina, with an air of irritated aristocracy, blurted out:
And she kept going, faster and faster, one after another, language after language.
She must have said it in over thirty languages in total and with each one the monk opened his eyes and mouth wider and wider and stepped back further and further.
With each word Regina let out from under her breath, she also put a determined step forward, and the monk one backward.
She continued doing this heading for the entrance to the chapel.
She started walking towards the monks and the entrance to the chapel, with very determined paces, one, after another, after another. Step by step she took, made the monks tense even harder, each one pounding their faces like a tidal wave.
By the time she reached the entrance of the chapel she had run out of languages and continued to say:
“It is me and I can understand your petty languages. Now leave and let me be.”
She was really determined in making this monk have a heart-attack, or this is who she was, and I just didn’t knew it because she was different with me. I couldn’t tell. In any case, this episode really reminded me of the little excursion we had back at the monastery in my hometown. I giggled inside me, on the outside I tried keeping that same aristocratic air Regina had. It suited me and I liked it.
I followed, and they treated me as they treated her. With fear.
The monk that spoke was no more than twenty years old. He was the youngest monk I’ve ever seen. He was merely a young boy.
He followed us closely but cautiously.
“But you must see him…” he said.
Regina was still walking towards the end of the chapel.
“Who?” She responded. I was curios myself.
“The one before me.” The monk was quick with the answer.
She stopped short of two meters from the end of the chapel, which also held the crypt of Dracula.
“He still lives?” She asked with an amazed expression on her face.
“Yes, and he waited for your return for this long…” The monk added in fear.
I was getting the hang of what was going on here.
“Then I shall meet him now.” She responded.
She turned back and the monk led us quickly to a room outside the chapel and into the main building. The monk opened the door and retreated, leaving just the two of us in the room.
In the middle of the room there was a single massive double bed. Inside the bed was an old man, barely breathing, but perfectly conscious. His eyes sparkled at the sight of Regina and his mouth gasped for more air that he could hold.
“Hello…” she said smilingly approaching the bed. I stayed put.
“I have waited over seventy years for your sight once again. I do not know…” he trailed off.
“If you are an angel…” he looked shortly at me,
“Or a demon…” And Regina grabbed his hand and smiled towards him. The sunshine coming through the window above the bed was flowing down her dark curls and her smile that I couldn’t see but I knew it was there. She had an aura as I watched her from behind, the sun being occluded by her body.
For me, that truly looked like an angel, not a demon.
No demon would take pity in putting an old man’s fears and questions to rest, on his death-bed, so he could leave this world in peace.
“I am what god made me father, I do not need a purpose or a name, I am one of his children…” She was being kind with him and I knew it.
The old priest (monk?) smiled mildly and seemed very pleased with the answer. It was the answer he has been waiting for all of his life.
“I am what the Earth beneath my feet requires me to be, and I obey…” Regina added.
The monk nodded and Regina approached his forehead. My heart stopped for a second there but then, the monk closed his eyes and Regina kissed his forehead.
She reached for her pocket and gave him a little crucifix.
“You are free to go now father, your duty is complete.”
I almost started crying in seeing the kindness in her. She stood up and we both walked out of the room.
I perfectly knew that Regina was not a religious… being. She almost despised religion and considered it to be a plague upon mankind, yet she took the time to put an old monk to rest. She took the time to be kind with the ones who needed nothing else but kindness, for they were on the brink of death.
When she turned, her eyes too were short of a blink in letting a tear roll out. But they didn’t.
As soon as we left the room, the monk that led us there entered the room and closed the door after him. We continued on the hallway out of the building and towards the chapel. On our way she had told me that she met that old man when he was merely a young boy, not even twenty years of age, she had met him when she last visited this place. When she last visited her long-lost relative, Vlad Tepes.
And now, the cycle would repeat maybe, in a century, once more. For the monk that received us now was also barely twenty, and, maybe, in another seventy years time, she would return once again.
The monks had an entire book about her, which held sketches of her face, her body, and tales of how the angel returns once in a century, to seal the devil’s tomb on this Earth time after time.
When we got at the end of the chapel, she put her fingers around the edge of the crypt and was searching for a good place to pull the lid off. I didn’t see the purpose in doing that, but I was dying of curiosity.
The Romanian government had opened Vlad’s tomb years before, and I knew for a fact, with photos, that the tomb was empty. Except Vlad’s belongings, jewelry, a sword and other miscellaneous things, there was nothing. No bones, no clothes. Nothing. I remember that the monks refused to let anyone open it and barricaded themselves in the chapel. It took weeks for the government to be able to open the tomb and lots of monks died back then, they starved themselves, set themselves on fire or found other creative ways of opposing the opening of the tomb. The island as a whole, was strictly forbidden to outside interference, and only during a short period each year you could go visit, and that visit was strictly related to entering the chapel, seeing the tomb and leaving.
What I didn’t knew was that Regina had a little superstition of her own.
She deeply believed that nobody else inside the kinship, except her and Vlad himself, would dare open the tomb. She had always longed for the rumors to be true, she always wanted Vlad to be still alive. To be the father of all that she is.
She longed for his admiration and his return, she wanted him to return and be proud of what she is. She wanted him to see everything that she built, everything that was under her control, and how good she had dealt with human affairs over centuries and thousands of decisions.
For centuries, she had returned here and left a single drop of her own blood touch his long-lost sword. For she knew, that if someone would ever open this tomb, it would be him. And he would want what was once his. He would sense his own bloodline, he would sense the smell of his own offspring, and he would know then and there, that his blood still runs through the veins of the powerful.
So she did this religiously, and every once in a while, usually once every sixty or seventy years, she would do this.
She wanted me to know all this, and she wanted me to see that vampires too, have superstitions and beliefs, hopes and dreams, that were being crushed day after day, year after year, for centuries at a time.
She had put the lid back one, lit a candle on top of it and “sealed it” with a kiss, in front of the monks, for them to continue believing in their little miracle: the sealing of the devil’s tomb. With that we were on our way.
As we left the chapel the monks were flanking us on either side, watching us carefully and fearfully.
She kissed the young monk on the cheek and he gasped in the process, then she looked in his eyes and told him:
“Guard it with your life, wait for my return.”
He nodded and said nothing else in response.
And just like that, the monks shut themselves inside the chapel and allowed us to leave from where we came from. And we did.
I noted in my diary:
“This is how you scare a bunch of monks. You don’t go there and flash everything you’ve got at them, you go there and act like their deepest fear and in the same time, their most worshiped thing. You act like the devil and god himself, embodied in the same vessel. You act like Regina. You show yourself as a broken cup, glued back together. A cup made of mercy, kindness, smiles and light, but a cup filled with fear, that seeps through the cracks and shows its nature on the surface.”
We headed back to the car where the driver was soundly asleep. He woke up with Regina banging on his window and smiling. He sprung up in fear and immediately started straightening himself up once again.
I could see on Regina’s face that she was back in her comfortable self.
We set on the road once again and in no-time we were standing inside the Otopeni airport, in Bucharest.
The driver handed both of us two tickets and shook bowed his head towards us, and with that, and a sign of relief on his face, he was gone.
My ticket read: “Bucharest Otopeni (OTP) – Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO).”
“Are you mad? I can’t go to Moscow!” I blurted out upon seeing that.
“Why not?” Regina asked me calmly. She wanted an answer and she looked like she would indeed agree to me not going, if I would provide a sound reason for it.
I stopped for a second… why shouldn’t I go really?
“I don’t have a VISA. Don’t I need a VISA to travel to Moscow? Plus I’m underage, I need a tutor.” I said.
“That’s been sorted out.” she replied.
She handed me my “new passport”.
We were brother and sister apparently, and we both had VISAS for Russia.
Christina and Johannes Alt.
Really. Very funny.
“Alt” means “Old” in German.
Born in Vienna, both of us.
I didn’t even wanted to know how she got a passport style photo of me. It was a photo I had taken a month before to hand in for the school to have what to put on diplomas and whatnot. I did hand them in but now I had a feeling I need to repeat the process because they “got lost”.
This was, by all means, movies for me. I truly believed this only happens in movies, not real life. I had to sit down for a moment and catch my breath. Regina was looking at me smiling, the same way you look at a small kid first discovering something very interesting for him, like seeing a plane taking off, but very common to the rest of the “adult world.”
“Fine.” I said.
And with that we both embarked on a flight to Russia.
We were there in no time and Regina looked at nothing else except out the window the whole flight.
The flight didn’t even took a whole three hours, but it was a very boring three hours. I wondered if she could jump out the plane and swim to Moscow safely, but the I remembered we’re not above sea.
We landed in Moscow.
Fear not Russia, for the storm has arrived I told to myself seeing as Regina was getting anxious and more stirred, like a storm preparing to unleash.
When we reached Moscow it was already pass midnight, it was now the 27th of May, 2005, and, sure enough a similar car was waiting for us, with a similar driver, yet less frightened and more comfortable.
Regina nodded at him and he opened the door for her. We hopped in and in after a short thirty minute drive we had arrived in front of a very impressive, very big, and very old looking style hotel.
It read: “Hotel Ukraina.”
I was impressed, but tired. The only thing that I wanted was a nice long bath and then a deep sleep cuddled next to Regina. But she had other plans…