“Time,” stated Magus “is curious.”
Thomas did not look at all surprised at this, for Igor had just served Magus a large whisky. Magus was always at his most profound when drinking whisky. Toby looked up, didn’t hear anything about food and promptly went to sleep again. Magus continued.
“I first met, for example, Count Vladimir Dracula in the late 20th century, although he, it appears, first met me in the late 19th century. As yet, although I have encountered Dracula many times since our first meeting I have yet to meet him when he met me.”
“Why don’t we do that now?” asked Thomas.
“I too, would like to go sir.” interjected Igor. “Among my people Dracula is regarded as a hero.
A few minutes later Magus entered his study. He walked over to one of his many bookcases and took off the shelf one of his favourite books, “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. Slowly the bookcase began to open, revealing a bright light behind it. This light was, in fact, a time portal. It allowed Magus to travel through time just by walking through it. But on this day Magus would be taking some friends along for the ride.
A few minutes later Thomas entered. He was dressed in the clothes suitable for a trip to the 19th century. Shortly afterwards Igor entered, carrying several suitcases under his arms. Behind him were the two dogs, Teddy and Toby.
“Where are the cats?” asked Magus.
“Being lazy as usual” said Teddy. “All they want to do is sleep.”
“Well, they can take care of themselves.” said Magus. “Alright then. If everyone is ready then we’ll be on our way.”
Magus walked into the bright light, closely followed by Thomas, Igor and the dogs. After what seemed like hours they emerged from the light into the village of Konigstadt in the middle of winter. Thomas was pleased to see snow lying on the ground. Because of the mild winters in Britain he hadn’t seen snow in years.
Magus stood in what appeared to be the village square. He surveyed the scene around him. He then reached into his pocket and took out his watch. During the journey through the portal his watch had synchronised itself to the proper time. Magus saw it was half past six in the evening. He was surprised to see the streets deserted. Then, down the street, he saw the local inn.
“We’ll go there.” he said.
Magus’ entourage followed him to the inn. Even though he was carrying many suitcases Igor was still able to open the door for Magus and Thomas.
They entered the inn to find a fire blazing in the fireplace. The innkeeper suddenly put his book down and got off the stool he was sitting on. Magus approached the bar.
“Good evening, sir. How may I help you?”
“I’d like some rooms if you’ve got any.” said Magus. “One for me, one for my charge, and one for my servant here.”
The innkeeper looked up at Igor and gulped.
“You’re in luck.” he said. “We’ve only three rooms left. Every other room, and every other room in the nearby inns are taken.”
“Yes, I was meaning to ask you about that.” said Magus. “Where is everyone? What is happening around here?”
The innkeeper suddenly grew very pale.
“I don’t know what you mean sir.”
“The streets outside.” said Magus. “It’s only half past six in the evening. I would have thought they would have been bustling with life.”
The innkeeper paused for a few moments.
“You’re probably referring to the Walpurgesnacht Ball.” he said. “It’s being held at the castle. Almost everyone is there tonight.”
“But you are not? Why?”
A solemn look appeared on the innkeeper’s face.
“I have no desire to go, sir.” he said. “My daughter went.”
Magus sensed something was wrong with the innkeeper. He sensed he wasn’t telling him everything.
A short time later the innkeeper showed them to their rooms. After eating a hearty meal they retired for the evening. They were awoken in the early hours by people returning from the ball. They were soon asleep again soon afterwards.
The next morning Magus was the first of his party to rise. It was half past eight in the morning, and Magus was surprised to find that none of the others had yet got up.
He walked down to the dining room and found it empty. The tables had not been laid out for breakfast. He walked into the kitchen. There was no one there, not even a cook preparing the breakfast. He thought this most odd.
He then made his way back up the stairs in search of the innkeeper. He walked along the corridors on the first floor of the inn until he came to an open door. From down the corridor he heard someone speaking, as if they were praying. When he reached the door he saw the innkeeper, kneeling down next to a bed, his hands clasped together as if he were prating. Magus called out to him, but the innkeeper did not hear him. Magus entered the room. He could now hear clearly what the innkeeper was saying. He was praying for his daughter to be spared. Magus placed his hand on the innkeeper’s shoulder. The innkeeper almost jumped out of his skin. He looked at Magus with a horrified look on his face.
“Do not be frightened.” said Magus. “Tell me, what has happened here?”
The innkeeper could not speak. He handed Magus a small object. Magus took it and examined it. It was a gold ring, and on it was a crest. Magus recognised the crest instantly.
“The crest of Count Dracula.” he said. “How did you get this?”
The innkeeper was now able to speak.
“I found it here on my daughter’s bed.” he said.
“This is your daughter’s room?” said Magus. “Tell me, did you daughter return from the ball last night?”
“She did. I waited up for her. She seemed strangely preoccupied.”
“And you found this ring on her bed?”
“It appears that your daughter had a visitor from the castle last night. There is only one way, however, that he could have got in. Your daughter must have invited him in. She must have been hypnotised by the Count at the ball last night.”
“How do you know of these things? How do you know so much about the castle?”
“I am somewhat of an expert on such matters. Do any of your other guests know about this?”
“I don’t know. I have not seen any of them this morning.”
Magus then walked out of the room and to the room next door. He knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He opened the door and found that the room was empty. He then did this with the next room, and the room after that. He checked all of the rooms in the inn. The only ones that were not empty were the ones that were occupied by Magus and his party. He then went back to the innkeeper’s daughter’s room.
“All of your guests have gone.” he said. “You said they were all here for the ball?”
“That is what they told me.”
“Well, their beds haven’t been slept in, and there are no clothes in the drawers or the wardrobes.”
Then, as they were speaking, Thomas entered the room.
“What’s happening?” he asked.
“No time to explain Thomas.” said Magus. “But come with me. I will be needing your help for the next couple of hours.”
“But what about breakfast?”
“You can have breakfast after we’ve finished my boy.”
Magus turned to the innkeeper.
“Is there anywhere around here that I can get some garlic from?”
“I have some in my kitchen.”
“Get it. We will need every bit of it.”
The three of them went downstairs. The innkeeper went into the kitchen, emerging a few minutes later with an armful of garlic cloves.
“Excellent.” said Magus. “Thomas, take some of the garlic and follow me.”
A few minutes later Igor came downstairs with the dogs. As soon as he smelt the garlic Toby began to get excited, again thinking with his stomach instead of his head.
“What are we going to do with this stuff?” asked Thomas.
“Isn’t it obvious?” said Magus. “I want you and Igor to put the garlic around all of the doors and windows.”
“Ah! I see now! To keep vampires out!” said Thomas.
“Hopefully.” said Magus.
Magus once again turned to the innkeeper.
“Do you have a crucifix around?” he asked.
“I’m not a religious man. I don’t have anything of the sort.”
“You say you’re not a religious man yet you were praying earlier.”
The innkeeper’s expression changed.
“Well, never mind that.” said Magus. “Do you at least have a church in this village?”
“Just down the road.” said the innkeeper.
Magus marched out of the inn and down the road towards the church. He went inside the church. The place was deserted. He walked up to the altar, and hanging on the wall he saw what he wanted. Using his powers Magus floated up the wall and took the crucifix off the wall. A few minutes later he returned to the inn. The innkeeper was surprised to see Magus holding the crucifix from the church in his hand.
“What are you going to do with that?” he asked.
“If you hive me a hammer and some nails I will show you.” said Magus.
The innkeeper soon found his hammer and a few nails. Magus then went outside again and nailed the crucifix to the front door of the inn. He then went back inside.
“Is all the garlic in place?” he asked.
“We’ve just finished.” said Thomas.
“Is there any left?” Magus asked.
Igor handed Magus what was left of the garlic.
“Good. Now I think it is time I pay a little visit to the castle. Thomas, you stay here with Igor.”
No arguments. The best place for you at the moment is here at the inn. And don’t worry, I’ll be back in a little while.”
Magus put the garlic in his pocket. He then left the inn and headed in the direction of the castle.
It was a two mile walk from the village to the castle. When Magus first caught sight of the castle it sent a chill right down his spine. The castle was a dark and eerie place. A few minutes later Magus stood at the huge door of the castle. He noticed the huge metal door knocker. Taking it in his hand he banged in three times. He waited a few minutes before the small hatchway in the door opened and a rather ugly looking fellow popped his head out.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“I wish to see the master of the house.” said Magus. “I am a visitor to these parts, and I wish to pay my respects to him.”
“The master rests during the day. He only receives visitors at night.”
“Then I will return this evening to see him. Please tell him that Doctor Phineas Magus called to pay his respects.”
The man snorted and quickly closed the hatch. Magus stood at the door for a few minutes before contemplating his next move. He decided to return