Defeat of the Mountain Curse

Submitted into Contest #186 in response to: Write a story within a story within a story within a ...... view prompt

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Drama Fiction Thriller

      Alpine darkness descended on the medieval Durkulin Castle like a death shroud wrapping a corpse.    Attorney John Stimpson tried his best to close his eyes in sleep, but his subconscious thoughts and his recurring nightmares kept him from getting the rest he so desperately needed.

      John’s life recently had gone off the rails with no apparent explanation until he began digging deeper into his troubled ancestry. That investigation had led him to the eerie room where he now found himself imprisoned by his thoughts.

     He had reserved a room here after scouring the Ancestry website for details of his family’s checkered history. The website revealed tales by John’s maternal great grandfather, Demetri Rudolphin, about conflicts in the old country. At first those conflicts seemed too far removed from the young attorney's experience to realistically relate to his life.

     Since John’s downfall had begun right after tracing his family roots he began to see a haunting connection. 

      Demetri had carefully chronicled the “Great War of the Families” in the medieval areas of Europe that eventually became Germany and Austria. Feuds between the  Rudolphin and Friedakendolf  families had passed from one generation to the next and ancient curses followed them.

     John passed it off as old country superstition until his up-to-now ideal life began to descend into the toilet with no explanation.

     He had excelled in every pursuit of his life up to that time.  Second in his class in high school, he had easily made the Dean’s List in every semester during his four years at Cornell University and throughout law school at Yale.

      Top scorer on the bar exam on his first attempt, he had been courted by the top law firms in Metro New York and signed with the Top Ten litigators, Browning, Browning and Smith. In record time his impressive string of victories landed him on the short list for partner.

     During the next five years his rocket-propelled ascent to the top took a sudden and unexpected nose dive. Jan Browning, the beauty queen winner and daughter of the firm’s senior partner, saw much that appealed to her in the handsome young attorney.

             After a whirlwind romance they married less than a year after meeting at a law firm cocktail party.  “Camelot” did not last long. A series of text messages planted by a rival at the law firm led John and his bride to hurl nasty accusations at each other about infidelity that never took place. The death of the couple’s nine-year-old son, Franklin, from leukemia also had added pressure to the fragile relationship. 

      The “merger of the century” soon ended in divorce, as did John’s promising legal career.  

      Although the mountain of misfortunes seemed to explode out of control in a really short time, At first he attributed it to an unusual string of bad luck.

       When his older sister, Diane, heard about it she saw something more sinister at work.  She told her baby brother to take a microscopic look into his great grandfather’s writings and the histories of other family members. 

       Demetri had chronicled a bloody battle outside the walls of Durkulin Castle in 1466 during which the Rudolphin army had destroyed the Friedakendolf army in a four-day standoff.

     About 50 survivors of the deadly confrontation put aside their differences and formed the Rudolphin-Friedakendolf Confederation. They believed their new alliance would bring them unparalleled power throughout the world.

      In the nearly six centuries that had passed since the bloody battle, many conquerors had ravaged the lands formerly belonging to the confederation. Many nations had replaced the two powers that had ruled with iron-fisted control over the area.

     Descendants of the original combatants had settled  throughout the world, and some of the pre-compact 15th-century grudges again boiled up to the surface.

   In addition to the centuries-old poisoned relations between descendants of the two families, the life of the top-achieving male in the Rudolphin line in every second decade since the Middle Age battles had suddenly run into a brick wall of failure.

       According to Demetri’s writings, John’s great-great grandfather, Johann Rudolphin, had angered Angelica Friedakendolf, a revered soothsayer in the rival clan, with his strong support of the confederation. She had caused the failure curse to descend on the top-achieving male Rudolphin family member every 20 years.  

     The cursed descendant only could put an end to the spell by spending at least one full night in Durkulin Castle and destroying the evil spirits guarding it.

     As John dug deeper into the family's history he came to believe that the curse had hung like a black curtain over his entire life and prevented him from achieving the greatness which he felt he had earned. He realized the key to pulling back this curtain to let a new light of hope for his future lay in the ancient ruins of the castle nestled in the Bayerische Alpen mountains. 

       Forewarned by his readings on what to expect, he had come to the castle armed with an army prepared to do battle with the evil forces guarding the barricades. John and his forces soon came face to face with a barrage of physical and psychological weapons apparently propelled by black magic.

   Seemingly overwhelmingly outnumbered, but fiercely determined, the humans won the battle after a bloody eight-hour skirmish.

        Now, emboldened by the victory of his small “army” over the forces of evil at the castle, he confronted the spirit of Angelica. Although angered by the defeat of her guardians and reluctant to give up her power, the spirit waved a steel rod and a thunderbolt came down from the heavens, striking John in the head and knocking him out.

      Awakened after what he estimated about an hour had passed, John found himself at home in his bedroom in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

      He opened his computer to find an email from Jeffrey Harrison, the senior partner in Harrison and Carlsen, Browning and Browning’s chief competitor. Harrison had tried for about two years to lure John away from Browning and Browning and he had recently learned of the brilliant attorney's availability. Harrison knew that Stimpson’s tribulations had nothing to do with his abilities as a top-notch litigator. He now saw his opportunity to swoop down and snare a prize catch. 

     John accepted Harrison’s offer with its $10,000 increase in salary and soon began accumulating a case-victory record that looked like it would again put him on the fast track to a partnership.

       Six months later, while at a bar conference, he met prosecuting attorney Falona Capusto and they found they had a great deal in common. Their business association grew into a whirlwind romance and they soon formed both a professional and social partnership.

February 18, 2023 17:43

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2 comments

Greg Gillis
07:25 Mar 02, 2023

Well written. I enjoyed the fantasy versus reality aspect of the story. John's quest to rid himself of an ancient curse was, in a way, relatable to those of us who have faced a string of bad luck.

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Amelia Ramble
23:41 Feb 27, 2023

I love how you start the story particularly the line "...like a death shroud wrapping a corpse." Overall a really good read!!

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