In European folklore the Erlkönig or
Alder King kidnaps children and carries them to their death. He
is said to be part elf and preys on the unwary who wander too far
into the woodlands near his home. In Goethe's immortal ballad,
Der Erlkönig, or the Alder King is presented as a malevolent
spirit who abducts and murders a child.
The story I have created is
fictional and based on the character from Goethe's poem. Since
little is known about the subject I am improvising and building a
tale around this particular Gothic type horror creature. This
story of the macabre takes place just prior to World War II in an
area known as Swabia which is a region located in Germany.
Tianna arrived at Weiss house early
that winter. Friedrich Weiss had requested her presence to serve
as his children's new governess. Tianna had performed the duty of
governess for several years caring for the Schmidt's children and
had been recommended to Herr Weiss by her previous employers Frau
and Herr Schmidt. She had traveled from Berlin to this isolated
area in Swabia hoping to obtain employment. The Schmidt's fearing
the war would escalate had abandoned their homeland and journeyed
to America in hopes of starting a new life.
The snow began falling fast and
furious as Tianna paid the carriage driver his fare. He smiled
and tipped his hat as she handed him an extra half dollar for his
"Are you certain they expect you?"
the driver asked, "Should I wait and see?"
"Oh no," Tianna replied looking at
the house with anticipation, "I will be fine. Thank you."
She watched as the carriage
disappeared into the dense woodland which surrounded Weiss house.
A bitter wind blew from the north as she stood assessing her soon
to be new home. The garments and coat Tianna wore billowed
outward and away from her slender form as winter's icy breathe
continued to howl about her. She felt a shiver make its way down
her spine and was not certain if it was the cold which was the
cause or if it came from her first observation of Herr Weiss'
The mansion though quite impressive
and beautiful reminded Tianna of a dwelling from medieval times.
It was surrounded by what appeared to be huge Alder trees. She
was not sure what it was about the house that gave her an uneasy
feeling. A loud squawking noise drew her attention upward to the
roof of the home. All across the top of the structure they
perched. Their jet black feathers ruffled and flipped as the wind
caught them. She had never seen a raven, but knew what they were.
Tianna had been told numerous stories as a child about ravens.
They were said to be present as death approached. Tianna steadied
herself as the front door suddenly and unexpectedly opened and an
elderly man dressed in what appeared to be a butler's uniform
motioned for her to come inside. She peered upward one last time
at the gathering of birds then threaded her way through the fast
accumulating snow toward her future place of residence.
"Welcome dear lady," the butler
greeted her with a faint English accent, "Do come in. Herr Weiss
has been expecting you."
As Tianna walked into the front
entry of the massive mansion a sudden urge to leave overcame her.
Though Herr Weiss' butler seemed hospitable enough she sensed it
was a forced kindness that he had over the years
"Here let me assist you with your
coat," the butler offered, "My name is Terrence. I do hope you
enjoy your stay here at Weiss house."
Terrence politely and efficiently
helped Tianna shed the coat she had been wearing. He bowed
slightly and disappeared before Tianna could thank him.She stood
for a moment feeling vulnerable and lost. She wondered if Herr
Weiss was as odd and formidable as the home he and his children
resided in. Having observed the dark horrid birds had left Tianna
on edge. She waited and wondered if this had been a good decision
when the sound of laughter caught her ear. Two children a boy and
girl around the age of seven darted down the staircase. Laughing
and pushing each other as they came the two made their way toward
"Alfred and Anna!" a voice boomed
from the top of the stairs, "You don't want to frighten your new
governess away on her first day, do you?"
The children froze in place as if
someone had sculpted them from ice. They stood not two feet in
front of Tianna their cherub like faces glowing. She smiled at
the children as she saw the outfits they wore were alike but
tailored for their individual gender. Alfred had on a pair of
dark blue slacks and white long sleeved shirt while Anna sported
a dark blue pleated skirt and a white long sleeved blouse. Even
though their hair was a light straw color and they were fair
skinned their eyes were as dark as a raven's feather. Alfred and
Anna except for the length of their hair would be hard to tell
apart. It was their eyes which captured Tianna's attention.
Darkness, mystery, and extreme intelligence glistened in the
children's eyes. She stood entranced by their piercing
"I hope the children did not
frighten you?" the voice asked almost mockingly.
Tianna tore her gaze away from the
children. She had on her journey to Weiss house tried to picture
what Herr Weiss might look like, but it had never crossed
Tianna's mind that her soon to be employer would be the handsome
specimen of a man she was now fawning over. He stood a good six
foot tall with a thin but healthy stature. His hair was jet black
and wavy. His face commanded attention with its strong angular
jaw line and eyes that seemed to glow with some type of deep
rooted energy. It was hard for Tianna to pull her eyes away from
his. Something there inside his eyes seemed to hold her
"Well can you speak or must we use
sign language?" Herr Weiss questioned with a look of mischief on
"Sorry Herr Weiss," Tianna stammered
as she pulled her eyes away from his, "I can speak and very well
at that. It is a pleasure to meet you and your
"Believe me my dear Tianna, if I may
be so informal, the pleasure is all ours," Herr Weiss replied as
he made his way down the stairs and stood before her, "You may
call me Alder."
"But I couldn't," Tianna answered
feeling the blood rush to her cheeks, "You are after all my
"Nonsense," he retorted, "It's my
home and what I say is law. Isn't that right my little
"Yes Papa" Anna and Alfred chimed in
"If you insist Alder," Tianna said
shaking her head in disbelief, "I take it these two little ones
are your children? Did you say their names are Anna and
"Yes," Alder replied smiling at
Tianna, "My precious little angels they are all I have left since
their mother Angelica died unexpectedly."
"Oh, I am so sorry!" Tianna
exclaimed looking at the twins, "You poor dears. How did it
"Mommy went out into the woods and
never came back," Alfred said in a monotone voice, "Papa told her
not to but she did anyway. Guess Mommy should have listened to
"We found no trace of my poor wife,"
Alder interjected, "They think the wolves might have killed and
eaten her. It was a horrible time for Anna and Alfred, as well as
"How terrible," Tianna said covering
her mouth in shock and horror, "I am so sorry for dredging up
such terrible memories. It must have been very hard for the three
"Yes it was," Alder answered
lowering his gaze, "Come now let's not be so morbid. Your first
day here should be a happy one. Let me show you to your room.
Your things arrived yesterday and are waiting for you."
"Thank you," she replied feigning a
curtsey, "I do feel rather tired. It's so kind of you to think of
Anna and Alfred had vanished. Tianna
found she was alone with Herr Weiss who seemed to be sizing her
up. There was an ominous almost hungry look she detected in those
jet black eyes. The hair at the nape of her neck was tingling.
Tianna was feeling a little less than comfortable with the
situation when Herr Weiss took her by the arm and propelled her
up the massive staircase. Together arms interlaced they walked as
if they were old friends or perhaps new lovers.