Makayla Romanos was a prisoner. Locked deep within the Catacombs of The Sanctum of Burghard. She was locked behind metallic bars even though she had walked on her own two feet right into the cell. She didn’t know why her legs lead the rest of her into this tiny room, and she didn’t know why she never once screamed. She thought maybe the Princess had told her to follow her, because she heard the Princess’s sweet voice, but she didn’t see the clean and polished lips move to say the words.
She begged the Princess to let her go but the Princess would giggle and giggle! And if Makayla was too close to the bars where the Princess could reach one of her skinny limbs she would be snatched up into the cold claw-like grip of the strong Princess’s hands. The Princess would tickle and scratch Makayla’s skin, and maybe it would draw a tiny prick of blood, which the Princess would lick with her clean pink tongue. Makayla could only cry.
The Princess wanted to know what it was that Makayla was mixing in the kitchen that smelled so icky? Makayla had been working on her “little tincture”, a mix of any small animal she could catch in the woods, or any little fish she could barter for, to hold off the murderous thirst she had for blood. The little tincture was getting tastier and tastier by the batch, and she had once caught a beautiful trout from the river that she fermented just right, and the little prince at The House of Isis wanted to try just a little taste of it on his morning porridge.
Makayla was more than willing to share her recipe with Princess Matilda, but she waved her soft little hand at Makayla and called out that she wouldn’t need it until tomorrow.
Makayla was devastated and afraid. She sat on the floor and waited for anything to happen. So much time passed that her skin pulled tight around her face, hungry for iron and moonlight. If a rat skittered into her cell she would feast for a few minutes.
Until one day Princess Matilda returns, and throws a man onto the floor of Makayla’s cell. The Princess shivered with glee as his body slapped against the cold ground. Makayla pleaded from her corner by the bed, crying out the ingredients for her little tincture. The Princess turned to face Makayla, licking her lips and smiling softly.
She asked a few questions about the tincture, and Makayla told her easily, keeping herself far from the bars where she could be within reach. Once the Princess had what she wanted she thanked Makayla, and reached her splendid arm through the bars so ever so smooth, and had the new prisoners foot in her hand.
Makayla watched with no joy as the prisoner cried. The Princess sank her teeth easily into the young man’s flesh.
After she left the prisoner crawled to the bed with help from Makayla. He sat up on the edge of the bed and looked right at her. He was beautiful with delicate features. He was relatively free from dirt and she was glad that there was a small tub for her to keep herself mostly clean.
Mathew Baker and Makayla Romanos were alone in that dungeon for only the Goddess knows how long. The Princess would come and go sometimes, but not usually all the way down to the end where the prisoners stayed. But Makayla and Mathew could hear her soft giggles echo from around a corner.
They spent their time together, and grew to care for each other. They were young and in love, despite their terrible circumstances. They kept a quiet love affair as they waited for someone to come by and throw some scraps through the bars, or a plump rat to wander in.
One day they realized that they hadn’t actually seen the Princess in a very long time. Their food situation was very dire, and Makayla wouldn’t let herself admit that her kisses held more fire for Mathew’s skin than ever before. She fought the urge to nibble his lips.
They could hear light footsteps on the stairs. They were afraid, they were hopeful, they looked deep into each other’s eyes and waited for the footsteps to turn and fade, or just maybe, continue down the long corridor towards their cell.
But it is not the tinkle of Princess Matilda’s childish giggle, it is the soft gasp of the Queen – Isis Hut. She is tall and elegant, exotic and magnificent. She is smiling at the young prisoners.
She asks how long they’ve been here and what their names are. She asks them why the Princess had them held here and who brought them food. She asked Makayla if she was hungry enough to drink from her young cell-mate. She felt Mathew’s eyes on her as she told the Queen that no she hadn’t drank from her cell-mate yet, and that she loved him.
The Queen laughed, a song-like the ringing of loud but lovely bells. She teased Makayla about her love for Mathew and asked if he loved her in return. Makayla was embarrassed and elated when he said that he did.
But Queen Isis smiled and snickered quietly. She wondered if love would save them from the dark thirsty hunger of a night walker? She pondered who would wither up and become a skeleton first? She wondered if there was enough self-restraint in this potion maker to stop nature in it’s tracks?
She told the two that they were all gonna have to wait and see before she turned and walked off. She left no food, she left no water, she left the two lovers with confusion and fear.
The rats stopped coming. But a guard came on some kind of schedule that Makayla and Mathew couldn’t make any sense of, and they would throw a ball of cabbage on the floor. Only cabbage. Never a tomato, never a potato, and never any water. Makayla awoke with a swollen belly and a hunger that she could not fight.
The guards told tall tales and ghost stories, specifically about the wailing banshee that lived in the Catacombs of The Sanctum of Burghard. They were afraid to go there, and eventually the rumors made it to Queen Isis.
She came to the Sanctum at night, and sure enough, she could hear the shrill shriek coming from the Catacombs. As she approached the dark cell where the forgotten prisoners had lived, she found a small screeching baby girl, not far from her deceased mother. The baby’s father, the true love lay dead and decomposing in the dirty little tub. Did the rats get to his flesh or the mother?
The Queen scooped up the child and wondered to herself: was this baby’s wails the triumphant cry of true love? Or was it the lament?