Sarospatak will always be my hometown
no matter where I choose to live.
by Erika M Szabo
I grew up in this lovely historical town, Sárospatak, in northern Hungary of the Bodrog river valley.
The area has been inhabited since ancient times and Sárospatak was granted town status in 1201 by King Emeric. Today the town is a tourist attraction and an important cultural center.
The Rakoczi var's ground was one of my favorite playgrounds when I was a kid. We played the wargame with my friends and defended the castle against the Habsburgs with toy swords and muskets.
The cultural center was beautifully rebuilt after I moved away. I have fond memories from my childhood researching in the library and enjoying the wide variety of programs in the theater.
I found this picture of people relaxing in the cultural center's plaza.
The waterpark is a major tourist attraction today. When I was a kid, there was only one pool where people relaxed in the hot thermal water that is known to ease arthritis pain.
There is a beautiful tradition every year when the town celebrates the patron saint, St. Erzsebet's life. People dress up in costumes and reenact Erzsebet's life from birth to her death.
Hungarians have a special bond with horses and there is rarely a celebration without them.
Even Santa comes to town with the Krampuses on horseback.
The novella I published last year plays out in Sarospatak. Jayden, an archeologist from New York is fascinated by Hungarian history and participating in an important dig in Sarospatak. His sister, Emily, decides to spend her summer vacation from medical school in their grandmother's home and joins her brother. By coincident or fate, she meets her childhood playmate, Daniel, at the airport. Daniel never forgot his first love and they rekindle their bond on the long flight to Budapest. Emily meets her excited brother and Jayden tells her that he found a leather book in his grandmother's secret room. the book was written in 426 by a shaman. Emily can read the ancient runes, and they learn about their family's curse. They also find out that the curse cast by their ancestor remains unbroken, it will bring tragedy and ruin their lives as it destroyed many of their ancestors' lives for centuries. Will they find the way to break the ancient curse? Could Emily find happiness with her childhood friend, Daniel?
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Read a short excerpt:
“Wow!” Sofia blurted as they entered the secret room. “You were right, there are lots of treasures in here.”
“I looked only in this trunk but look at the shelves.”
Sofia walked to the shelves and touched the carved, wooden and stone statues one by one. “Look,” she said, “the Sacred Turul. This wood carving is a masterpiece!”
“Yes, I estimate it to be at least a thousand years old. Look at this horse.” He pointed at the black onyx statue.
“Magnificent!” Sofia marveled.
“We can look at those later,” Jayden mentioned to Sofia. “Let’s see if we can find more writing in the trunk.”
“Okay…” Sofia hesitantly replied. She was having a hard time averting her eyes from rows after rows of statues, jewelry, headdresses adorned with beads, gold chalices and bowls.
Jayden opened the wooden trunk and started taking out the items that were wrapped in leather. He pulled the coverings open which revealed swords, knives, handmade leather shoes, and carefully-wrapped scrolls.
“Jay, look!” Sofia pointed at the inside of the trunk lid. “There’s an envelope and it doesn’t seem old.”
Jayden grabbed the corner of the white envelope but couldn’t pull it away. “It seems to be glued to the top,” he stated as he carefully lifted the corner with a knife and pried it away from the wood without ripping the paper.
As he turned it he saw writing on the envelope. “For Sofia and Jayden,” he read out loud. “It’s Grandma’s handwriting and it’s for us.” He sat down on a box, opened the envelope and pulled out the folded letter. He started reading it out loud.
Dearest Sofia and Jayden,
You’re reading this letter, which means I’m gone. I swore to your mother that I would never tell you about the family curse, but I cannot take it to my grave. Although your mother always strongly believed that it is merely a stupid legend and refused to listen to me, I must let you know somehow. Jayden, your life in danger…
The year 426 in the Carpathian Basin
As they got close to the trees and peeked out, they saw disheveled men sitting on the ground around fires. Their savage laughs, as they were eating and drinking, cut through to their hearts. Elana gasped when she saw the lifeless bodies of her neighbors thrown to the ground. Zala turned to Elana and raised his eyebrow, silently asking if she was ready. Her eyes shone with anger. She nodded and placed an arrow on her bow and pulled the string, aiming at the head of the loudest bandit who seemed to be the horde’s leader.
Zala whispered, “You have lost the most. You have the right to revenge.”
Elana let the arrow fly, and it pierced the bandit’s forehead between his eyes, coming out at the back of his head halfway. His body fell backward, limp and lifeless.
Zala looked at the waiting wolves and motioned them to go forward. The bandits scrambled to their feet in horror as their leader fell, and the wolves attacked them. Zala and Elana started riding around them in circles, aiming and shooting as the men tried to flee. A few slumped to the ground pierced by arrows, others screamed as the wolves chomped at their hands.
Elana spotted the alpha as he clamped his powerful jaw over a man’s wrist and with a jerk of his head, bit the hand off. And then Elana froze when she saw her mirror image looking at her with crazed eyes.
“Tuana!” Elana yelled and urged her horse toward the disheveled young woman.
Tuana turned her horse and kicked its side, urging the horse to a gallop. Within seconds they collided. The horses neighed in terror as the women were thrown off their backs by the impact. Both women jumped to their feet and faced each other. Elana gave out the warriors’ battle cry, raised her sword, and thrust it toward Tuana. Elana’s move was swift, but Tuana was fast as well and leaned out of the way of the deadly blow. As Tuana jumped back, she looked down with terror in her eyes. A gray wolf standing next to her growled and dropped Tuana’s hand on the ground; it was still clutching the sword. The wolf shook the blood from his muzzle, turned, and ran toward the bushes. Tuana stared at her stump as it spurted blood on her legs.
Tuana howled like a wounded animal and then gave out an insane laugh as she held the stump of her arm close to her chest and started backing away. “I curse you and your descendants! Every woman in your bloodline will have a daughter like me who will be thrown away like garbage. The daughters will kill their brothers and leave their sister alive to carry the bloodline. All mothers for eternity will pay for what your mother did to me.”
Enjoy some ancient music