The clipping of horses' hooves and rattling of the carriage droned on. A small black coach, pulled by a team of large Romanian steeds made its way through a dark and foreboding forest in Central Romania. The carriage was aimed at reaching the small town of Transylvania before nightfall, but the treacherous path through the mountains had not permitted the use of such speeds. The sun had long since faded behind the lifeless trees, plunging the world into darkness. The heat that the sun provided had left just as quickly as its source, immediately cooling the land. The previously clear air had begun to thicken with fog as the night continued on.
Lucy Moorland clutched her thick winter cloak closer around her small frame. It was not a fine piece of clothing, by any means, but it kept the cold out of the freezing English winter mornings she was accustomed to. The screech of an owl nearby startled the girl, sending a shiver down her spine. This was a wild land, frigid and harsh, nothing like the English moors Lucy had grown up in. How had she ended up in this position? She wondered. Her thoughts wandered back home, to one particularly fateful evening.
"Lucy." Her aunt put a slim hand on the young woman's shoulder.
"Oh! Aunt Susan!" The girl cried. "What if he is never found? I cannot lose my father as well!" Her mother had died several years ago, and Lucy could not bear the loss of her remaining parent.
"Dear one." Aunt Susan began, as kindly as she could manage; children and young adults were never her area of expertise. "Only time will tell." The elder woman sat next to Lucy on the soft sofa. "In the meantime, however, I think that it may do you good to visit your Uncle in Romania."
"Aunt Susan!" Lucy exclaimed, fearful that her aunt was telling the truth, and it would be better for the young woman to travel so very far alone, to stay with her father's eccentric brother. "I could not travel so far on my own!" She argued, satisfied that it was her best defense.
"The world is changing, dear. When I was young I wished for nothing more than the ability to travel the world and see what the men saw…What a woman could never truly see for herself." Susan got a faraway look in her eyes. Lucy had never seen this side of her practical aunt, she always thought her to be the same as she had always been: practical, caring, and empty of wanderlust. Lucy now saw that her aunt had quite a heart for adventure, though she may never live it out herself. "I want you to have the opportunity I never had." Susan finally finished.
"Then," Lucy began softly, slightly guilty that she had not been more receptive to her aunt's ideas before, "I shall go to Romania."
A bump in the road jerked the already unstable carriage and brought Lucy back to the present. She sighed softly, her father, Dr. James Frankenstein, had an aptitude for science, just like his brother Victor. Unlike Victor, however, with his half-mad experiments and unproven theorems, James had chosen the more practical realm of medicine. Lucy pondered some of the choices that her father made, for instance, in order to not force his only daughter's name with the reputation of his family, he had opted to give her the last name of her mother. That must have been an incredibly tough decision for him; it made for a lot of awkward questions from new acquaintances, having a daughter with a different name. Another hard decision that her father had made was to continue his pursuit in a particular field of medicine. He had gone on a journey to the Pacific Colonies to aid with the cure of a sickness that was plaguing the islands. This was where he had been when Lucy had received the news of his disappearance. She did not know any more details, but even though she hoped that her father was still alive, a part of her felt and feared that he was dead and had truly left her alone in the world. This dread hung over her just as the fog outside of the carriage clung to the dark trees and landscape. Lucy resolved to enjoy herself when she arrived at her uncle's residence. Victor had told her in his letter that he had been living in a castle. A castle!
'Perhaps,' Susan had said, 'A castle in Romania is not the same thing as a grand English one.' or 'Maybe "her dear uncle" had finally gone completely 'round the bed.' He may have even been telling the truth; it was of little consequence any way she looked at it. Lucy would soon see for herself the manner of abode in which her uncle had made his home.
Lucy felt herself beginning to doze off. The moon shone through the evergreen boughs, giving enough light to see by, but not so much that it would be of any use to Lucy. The blonde girl leaned her head against the cold, curtained window and closed her eyes, allowing herself to drift off into a light sleep, or so she thought.
The girl awoke to the squealing of large gate hinges swinging open. Lucy saw a great iron gate close through the window and gasped as she turned to face the rest of her uncle's current abode. He hadn't lied to her; she thought in shock, It was a castle! Perhaps smaller than many others, but it was a castle nonetheless. Three tall towers shot up to the sky above the rest of the stone fortress, many of the windows were dark, she could make out little else about the building in the current light. Her uncle's letters had briefly mentioned a sponsor for his latest work, but he had a habit of forgetting certain things. Sometimes Lucy wondered whether it was intentional or if he genuinely did not think to mention them. The girl was curious about this mysterious employer. He must be extremely wealthy to spare a house of this magnitude for Victor and his laboratory. He was probably old and stuffy as well as rich, to be interested in the mad ideas that her uncle produced on a regular basis, she thought, smirking. Perhaps a small old man, bent nearly double, carrying a ruby-topped cane with a worn-out black cloak with red lining. Lucy scolded herself severely, she had been told many times throughout her life to not use her imagination to acquire preconceptions about others. Despite this, the image remained in her mind.
The carriage rolled to a stop and Lucy heard the excitable voice of her uncle drawing near.
"My dear Lucy!" The man exclaimed as he opened the carriage door. He held out his hand to help her out of the vehicle after her long journey. "You must be exhausted!"
She took his hand and stepped out into the chill of the mountain wind. "Hello, Uncle!" she replied, smiling. She really did adore her odd relative and his quirky habits.
"Let's get you inside." Victor said quickly, as he noticed the slim girl begin to shiver.
Lucy nodded and followed her uncle up to the large wooden entrance doors, smiling as he chattered on.
"I put you in the room above the kitchens, it has a wonderful view of when the sun rises and it stays warm throughout most of the day. It is also a great deal more cheerful than many other areas of this house." Lucy could have sworn she saw the man shudder slightly. "Yes…The Count had been very generous; he has equipped the laboratory with everything I could ever need, and constantly brings me new texts to aid in my research." His voice grew excited again as soon as he mentioned research, but then he seemed to remember something. "He is looking forward to meeting you, my dear."
"Me?" Lucy asked timidly as Victor took her cloak from her, hanging it with his own on the hooks of the entry hall.
"Indeed. He expressed the upmost wish to make your acquaintance this very evening, unfortunately, he said he had business of an urgent sort to tend to tonight, he shall come 'round sometimes tomorrow instead." The blonde man said, then added. "If you are not too travel-weary from your journey."
Lucy smiled, resisting the urge to ask her uncle if the count carried a top-hat and a ruby cane. "I should be delighted to meet this Count in the morrow, but unless I rest soon, I fear I will not be very good company."
"Of course!" Victor said, returning his niece's smile. "Your things should be on their way up as we speak, and I shall now show you to your chambers."
Victor led Lucy down several darkened hallways and up a flight of steep stairs before opening a wooden door to a warm, inviting room with a cheery fire. Lucy's belongings were stacked neatly to the side of the large room. The majority of the space in the room was taken up by a large four-poster bed across from the fire, an old wooden wardrobe, and a reading corner, complete with a comfortable looking armchair. It all seemed perfect for Lucy, for she dearly loved to read. There was even a small table, just perfect for drawing.
"Thank you so very much, Uncle!" Lucy exclaimed happily. "It is wonderful!"
"I am glad you think so." The man replied kindly. "You should thank the count even more than me, he is a much better judge of these types of things than I."
"I shall be sure to thank him for his excellent choice of rooms." Lucy smiled sleepily.
"Excellent! Goodnight, Lucy. Sleep well."
"Good night, Uncle!" Lucy smiled again as her uncle left the room. The young woman wasted no time preparing for bed. As curious as she was, being in such a grand place, she decided that walking about in the dark would not be a good start to her stay. She braided her long blonde hair and quickly dresses into her nightgown. The stone floor chilled her bare feet as she made her way from the wardrobe to her large bed. Settling her body under the sheets and warm blankets, she quickly drifted off to sleep.