Authors: Renee Lake
Tags: #Romance, #vampire, #magic, #witch, #dracula, #romania, #elizabeth bathory
The Bathory Curse
Copyright © 2014 Renee Travis/ Renee Lake
First Published November 2015 by Renee Lake and
Smashwords and Createspace
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may
be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or
mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the
author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright
This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the
products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious
manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or
actual events is purely coincidental.
This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
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Dedication: to you, the darkness, the
shadows, the ancient and old. To the great goddesses forgotten and
the things that lurk outside our peripheral vision, hidden from
this realm. To Bram Stoker, Vlad the Impaler, Elizabeth Bathory,
Jack the Ripper and all the other people I have been fascinated
with and loved my whole life. This one is for the grown up me.
Disclaimer: this novel is historical fantasy. The
life of Vlad the Impaler, his wives, and children are strewn with
inconstancies and heresy, most of the facts known about them are
the atrocities committed and the locations they took place. For the
plot and characters of this novel I have done as much research as I
can and fit the people and the times to the story line, they may
not be historically accurate. I have tried to blend fantasy with
history and actual events with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the legend
of Elizabeth Bathory. I hope you enjoy.
Cneajna, lay half in and half out
of the river. Her neck twisted in an awkward position, body broken
along the rocks, but hidden from view of the castle by the deep
forest of trees. Water sloshed over her cerulean
drenching her form, as rivulets of her blood seeped into the
The sounds of fighting could be heard in the night,
swords clashing, horses screaming and men yelling. The stench of
blood and death filled the air. No one noticed the beautiful
woman, whose body lay dying and whose soul was fighting the urge to
make it to the afterlife.
Poenari Castle stretched tall in the background,
unmoving against the onslaught. Set against a cliff in the
Wallachia valley, the Fagaras Mountains making it a striking,
albeit, scary sight.
A tall beautiful woman stood near the woman. A braid
of thick black hair wound around her head, covered by a hooded
mantle held together with a glimmering brooch. Golden eyes shown
from a face that could have been carved perfectly from terracotta.
Her skin was dark and she was clothed in a short black chiton,
covering snug silver under garments. Wrapped around her broad
shoulders was a wolf’s skin against the biting night air, and
nipping at her heels two small red and black foxes begging for her
“Gina, Petru, stop, I have work to do,” her voice
was soft in the night and the foxes stilled, watching their
mistresses every move.
Bending down, she touched the matted black hair of
the woman and breathed onto her. Within minutes, skin stitched
itself together, leaving the smallest of scars, bones healed,
organs repaired themselves, the girl’s heart began to beat, air
forced its way, cold and unforgiving, into her lungs. Her eyes
fluttered and then opened as, shivering, she took in a breath.
“Cneajna, Princess of Transylvania, and wife of Vlad
the Impaler, awaken and rise.” The woman commanded.
Cneajna did, it took her a few moments, especially
since she had to scramble a bit to get out of the water and up the
embankment. Soaking, she trembled in front of the older
woman. Her clothes were stained with watery blood and she could
feel her hair matted and stuck to the side of her face.
“Why am I not dead?” She asked, voice raspy, her
throat still healing.
“The better question should be how did you fall?”
The woman pointed to the castle, and the window nearest them.
“I didn’t… I was…pushed…” Cneajna stopped speaking.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as memories came
plunging back into her mind, “Radu…he pushed me.” Anger began to
fill her, she had hated her brother-in-law, and things in their
family had not been cordial; at least not all the time, but she
never thought the man would try and kill her.
“Yes, you were thrown to your death by your
husband’s brother. People will think you committed suicide; this
river will now be known as Raul Doamnei.” The Lady’s River.
“But I am alive!” Cneajna exclaimed, “I will simply
march back up to Poenari and tell my husband what has happened.”
Panic began to fill her chest, she couldn’t be dead! She was
standing, talking, breathing! She placed a hand to her heart and
felt the beat.
“And what has happened?” The woman questioned, “How
will you explain that you survived the fall? Do you wish to be
accused of witchcraft?”
“It was a miracle, God has saved me.” Cneajna told
her, pride in her dark blue, twilight eyes. Who was this woman?
What the hell was going on?
The woman barked a laugh that had the vixen and her
mate backing up nervously, “God? Why would God save you?”
“Because my husband is a crusader, he is fighting to
stop the Turks from taking Wallachia.” Cneajna defended. She didn’t
feel cold, why didn’t she feel cold? It was winter in the woods,
she should be freezing.
“Your Christian God cares no more for you than he
does anything else. Besides your husband can be tyrannical and has
committed some obscene atrocities. The Christian God does not
appreciate you or Vlad Dracul.” The woman chuckled.
“I admit over the years he has done some things I am
not proud of, but the people love him.” she argued, thinking of all
the time she had spent praying for guidance, for both of them. Her
brain felt fuzzy, this had to all be a horrible dream, right?
“He is a warlord, plain and simple. This land is
ravished by men trying to keep a hold of something wild. These
lands were once peaceful and now the soil is red with blood, caused
by men like your husband and his family.” The woman took a deep
breath, calming herself.
“Then why am I alive?” Cneajna asked, for the first
time really looking at the woman in front of her. She was slightly
familiar, perhaps a saint of some kind or an angel, or maybe
something much, much worse? As she took in the details of the woman
and the woods, she rubbed her temples. It was pitch black, why
could she see everything in crisp clarity? It was not day; but yet
even with the darkness she noticed the detailed patterns on the
“Because I have use for you. I am Bendis, Goddess of
Night, Magick and the Hunt. I have raised you from the dead and now
you owe allegiance to me.” Bendis smiled, and it was kind. She
didn’t want to frighten Cneajna, but the thought of being an angel
was fairly humorous.
“Bendis….it cannot be possible. Bendis is a pagan
Goddess.” Cneajna shook her head, her wet blue black hair flying
every which way. This could not be happening, she had been told
ancient stories about the Goddess who supposedly used to roam these
woods, but they were simply stories told by gypsies. Wrapping her
arms around her chest her eyes kept darting up to the castle, none
of this was real, it couldn’t be, she needed to go home, and if it
was real…a slow burn filled her chest, she would kill Radu
“It is possible and I am she. See with your eyes
Cneajna, your real eyes.”
Cneajna looked at the Goddess and knew she was right.
There was nothing human about her, she was just too much; too
beautiful, too powerful, too frightening.
“What do you want from me?” She despaired. Too many
beliefs were crashing down around her; there was too much
information in such a short amount of time. She was having a hard
time processing it.
“First we must talk about what you are now and how
you are to survive. Come, walk with me.” With a wave of her hand
Cneajna was dry and in a thick fur coat, she even had boots.
Bendis and Cneajna walked in silence for a while
before the goddess spoke again, the foxes ran a head, yipping and
playing together. Cneajna was filled with wonder, never before had
she walked through these woods without fear, with such ease and
with the ability to see so far and so clear. She sniffed and could
smell more than she wanted to, again anxiety filled her to the
brim, she needed to stop and think, this was too fast, she didn’t
understand what was going on. However, it was as if she was
compelled to keep walking.
“You are now a Strega.” Bendis began.
“A Strega.” The word left a sour taste in Cneajna’s
mouth. A Strega was an immortal witch, usually blamed for sickness,
death and evil. Looking at the Goddess she began to wonder, had she
been kidnapped by something evil? Why would her God allow her to be
“I am not evil; in fact your definitions of good and
evil are limited to a mortal’s knowledge. I have not kidnapped you,
let us save the dramatics for another time.” Bendis stated, a hint
of annoyance in her tone. Bendis stopped; she placed cold hands on
Cneajna’s shoulders and turned her.
“It is important you listen Cneajna….” Bendis
warned. Only after the girl had nodded did they continue
This was ridiculous and could not
be happening; it had to be a dream. She was human and ignoring the
tales of gypsies, Stregas and the like did not exist.
Cneajna thought. In fact she couldn’t have fallen
out the window; it was impossible to be brought back from the dead,
only their Lord Jesus Christ could do such an amazing
“I know this takes some getting used to, and if you
doubt it is at all real just listen with your new ears.” Bendis
waved a hand at the castle looming in the distance. Cneajna winced
as she still heard the sounds of battle coming from the castle. She
wondered if Vlad had even found that she was missing.
“No.” Cneajna came to a full stop, gripping a tree
near her as her feet wanted to continue to walk with the woman.
“No?” Bendis repeated, looking at her.
“No, I am not dead, not a Strega….You are not a
Goddess and I am not going with you. I am going home right now. If
and only if I decide you have risen me from the dead, I will be
thankful, but not before that.”
“And how do you propose to figure it out?” Bendis
“When Radu, the bastard, sees me it will confirm it.
Then I will take one of my husband’s swords and run him through
myself!” She exclaimed, fury filling her cheeks at the thought that
a man she had welcomed into their home many times had stooped to
such a low, as to get to his brother through her. Without waiting
for a word from the other woman she fled, darting through the
trees, dodging fallen branches with ease and leaping over
She had never run so fast before, it was
exhilarating, within seconds she was back by the river. She stood
and gazed up at the cliffs feeling strength pouring through her
limbs she wondered if she could climb up and enter through her
bedroom window like nothing had happened.
“I have let you run my Strega but now you will go no
Cneajna spun around, not even out of breath, but a
little startled, “go away.”
“I will not and you will come with me rather you
like it or not.” Bendis voice was no longer pleasant.
“You can’t make me.” She hated that she sounded like
a petulant child.
“Yes, I can, I am sorry but you cannot go home. In a
few minutes Radu will tell Vlad he watched you jump from the
window. He will find blood and pieces of your clothing and will
assume your body washed away down river. He will grieve and
remarry.” Bendis spoke the truth, even though it was harsh.
Cneajna growled at the Goddess and turned prepared
to dart across the river and up the jagged rocks, but her feet were
stuck to the ground, she couldn’t move.
Cneajna closed her eyes and sat
down heavily in the dirt, she began to sob in earnest. Despair
welling up inside her, She thought about her husband and how they
had married the year she turned 18. He had already been set in his
ways, harsh and strict. She smiled thinking how handsome Vlad had
been, a summer away from his 25
birthday. Her parents had thought it was a great honor that
he asked for her hand. She had loved him passionately and felt he
had returned the affection, even if he had not always shown