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’ mansion.
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 cultivated.
“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 her.
“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 stares.
“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 captive.
“Well can you speak or must we use sign language?” Herr Weiss questioned with a look of mischief on his face.
“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 employer.”
“Nonsense,” he retorted, “It’s my home and what I say is law. Isn’t that right my little darlings?”
“Yes Papa” Anna and Alfred chimed in perfect unison.
“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 happen?”
“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 of
“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 my comfort.”
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.
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