A draft blew through the window and Verishka rushed across the room to close it. It was 1455, in Translyvania, and the sky was rarely blue, and a harsh wind was always blowing. She was the daughter of Bela Gabor, lord over a small portion of Translyvanian land. From the moment of her birth she had been betrothed to Count Dracula, a brave knight of Translyvania, and six years her senior. Not that she had ever laid eyes on him before. They were to be married in less than a year, and she was 27. It was not accustom for women to be married this late in life, but the count's busy life had kept it from happening sooner.
Now, soldiers were returning from a recent mission for the holy order, and had been gone for five years. Before seeking counsel with the king they were to stop at Gabor manor and have their medical needs tending to by the ladies and doctors of the the house. Verishka tied an apron on and began to walk to the main hall with several other ladies of the house.
Just as they arrived in the hall the door opened, and knights that were unharmed carried the injured. As the knights were being laid down on cots that had been laid out the night before, Verishka's father entered.
"Verishka, my darling. You know what to do, tend to them, and remember, just because your fiancé is not present, do not forget that you are to be married, and you should be careful around these eager young gentlemen," he said. Verishka and several of the women behind her giggled, before she spoke, innocently,
"Yes father, I will. Besides, I will remember, for when has my fiancé ever been present?"
"That's my girl, now go, all of you, tend to them," he said, ushering them towards the injured men.
They made their way through the rows of injured soldiers. Each of them, one by one, tearing off from the path to go to help some man that looked as if he could be saved. As Verishka walked down the isle and saw the many injured men bleeding from all sorts of places, she was filled with a selfish thought. She hoped that by the time the day was spent, that her light weight, periwinkle dress would not be covered in blood. Finally she chose a man with a deep laceration on his leg. She peeled back the cloth and saw, it was going black and puss was coming out with the blood. Verishka poured water on it and that cleared away the puss as the man winced in pain.
"Sir, I'm sorry, but you are going to loose your leg. But you will be fine afterwards," she said, "surgeon, come hear please. This man needs his leg taken off."
"Yes miss," the surgeon said, as the man began to scream and plea for his leg.
As Verishka rose to tend to another, she felt eyes on her. They belonged to a man that was sitting across the room. His hair was long, and jet black. He wore a deep blue tunic beneath his armor, and he was clutching his arm, which held several deep cuts on it, but nothing more. Verishka, although curious as to why he was so focussed on her, did not wish to let him know she was aware of this. When she knelt down again to clean off a cut to the head a man had sustained, his eyes remained on her.
After she was finished with that man she began to walk towards this man. Their eyes not breaking contact as she made her way across the room.
"My lord," she said getting down on one knee before rising to treat his arm.
"I say, tend to my other men, they are in more severe need than myself," he said humbly.
"I'm afraid you are also in poor condition, and at risk for loosing your arm if you do not take proper care of it," she said, placing cloth around it after washing the cuts out with water.
"You are very gentle, and for that I thank you," he said.
"You're welcome, you're the first person that I've tended to today that did not require amputation," they both laughed for a moment before he asked her something.
"My dear, I was hoping you could help me. I have been arranged to marry the lady of this house, Verishka Gabor, and I confess, I am yet to lay eyes on her. Could you perhaps tell me where she is?"
"My lord, I dare not interfere with the personal affairs of my mistress," she said humbly.
"Why not?" he asked.
Getting up to leave she turned around for a moment and before going on her way, she said, "I'm Verishka." before then turning to walk away.
Although the truth was the she would have wished to spend more time with her fiancé who she was to marry extremely soon, her instincts told her that now was the time to show decorum, and treat him as any other man. To her he was any other man. They had never seen each other before, and yet they had both been living with an image in their minds of what their mysterious match would look like. He was better looking than she had expected. In fact, she was very attracted to him. But there was still much she wanted to know. Would he be a good husband? Would he be as absent in her life in marriage as he had been before? And would she grow to love him as her father said she would?
"My lady, please wait?" called a voice from behind her. She turned around to see Dracula, clutching his good arm as he chased after her.
"Yes, my lord?" she asked.
"Ever since I was six years old and you were born, I have been told I would would marry Verishka Gabor. For 27 years we have been engaged, and now, just a few months before our wedding, I see you for the first time. Do you not wish to know me better as I do you?" he asked.
"With all due respect my lord, had you truly cared about getting to know me sooner, could you not have simply taken time off from your busy schedule to visit?" she asked.
"You blame me for this?" he asked, shocked.
"No, and I willingly admit I have longed to know your face as well," she said.
"Allow me to be formal," he said as he got down on one knee, and kissed her hand, "My lady, I am Count Vladislaus Dragulia."
He then stood up, close to her. She was more beautiful than any other woman he'd ever seen. Of beautiful shape, her eyes were brown with small flecks of red, and her brown hair, almost black was flowing down her back with gentle, soft waves. Her skin was flawless and she had a fierce beauty about her.
"Count Dracula?" Verishka asked, yanking him back to reality.
"Please, call me Vladislaus," he said.
"Vladislaus then, may I offer you something to eat, or drink perhaps? I'm sure you've had a long journey," she asked.
"No thank you my dear. I wonder if you could do something for me?" he asked.
"What is it?" she questioned.
"I wonder if you would care to honor me with your presence? Do you not think that we should spend some time together before our wedding?" he asked.
"All right," she replied.
"Good," he said. He then held out his good arm and she took it gracefully. As the exited they were confronted by Verishka's father.
"Goodness me, Dracula I had no idea you would be here, of all places. I see you've met my daughter... excuse me, your fiancé, Verishka," he said.
"Yes, it was difficult not to notice such radiant beauty," the count said smiling at Verishka as she felt herself blush.
"Well, I'm pleased you two have met, and so close to the wedding," he said, nodding goodbye to them as he made his way into the hall. Before continuing on their way, Vladislaus turned his head to look at her, smiling and she also turned to meet his gaze.
"You really think I am beautiful?" she asked.
"Very much so," he replied.
"Thank you," she said, smiling as they continued their way to the exit.