BLOOD! Its sweetish aromatic fragrance permeated the vaulted crypt.
Blood! It ran in rivulets down the shuddering form of the young girl whose nakedness was spread-eagled by cruel gyves which bit into her flesh!
Blood! It sloshed over the rim of the silver goblet held now to the arrogantly curved lips of the woman whose milk white breasts strained mightily to be free of the constraint of her satin bodice.
Blood! It's tableau of incipient horror spread before the distended eyes of Constance Imry. Her tear-swollen lids closed momentarily attempting to blot out the hideousness of the scene. In her self-imposed darkness, she felt their hands closing ever so tightly on her shoulders.
Their combined weight thrust against her, bearing her to her knees.
Constance whimpered against the pain of the rough stones which chafed her flesh. The hag called Ilona Joo held her by the throat while the bloated gargoyle, Thorko seized her wrists and twisted them behind her back. Constance Imry screamed. She struggled wildly in their foul grip.
But her strength was nothing compared to that of Thorko. With a diabolical deftness he applied the binding cords, drawing them so tightly around her arms that they became imbedded in her virginal flesh. Now the village girl knelt helpless before her captors. In mute panic she felt Ilona Jon arranging her ankles so that the delicate bones touched. Then the coldness of the leg irons snapped shut, totally immobilizing her.
"Is this one not a prize, your highness?" The rheumy voice of Ilona Joo cackled with an obscene delight as her taloned fingers tested the firmness of Constance Imry's nearly naked breasts. "Will she not bring m'lady an ecstasy of delight?"
Constance Imry raised her tear-stained face to see Elisabeth moving towards her. The mad countess extended her goblet to Thorko. Her mouth bore the imprint of her fearful beverage.
Elisabeth, the Countess Bathory clapped her hands together in girlish delight as her companions brutally stripped what remained of Constance Imry's clothing from her.
Her hands were as icy as the grave now as she stood over her captive and ran them across the girl's nakedness. Constance Imry's plump breasts and full buttocks held some evil fascination for the mistress of Castle Csejthe. Elisabeth's hand, soft and smooth, reached for Constance Imry's chin, drawing her head back. She examined the fettered girl the way one does a prize head of cattle.
"In time this one will provide us sustenance, dear nurse," Elisabeth purred. "But first let her provide us entertainment." Then she turned to the hulking, pock-marked gargoyle named Thorko. "And what have you and Ujvary planned for her?"
Thorko grunted in response. He dragged Constance Imry to her feet and did an unmentionable thing to her body. "The lash, m'lady. This one will dance a merry tune to the crack of the whip."
"Good, my devoted, Thorko. But later. First let her feast on some of the other delicacies our hospitality provides."
"No!" Constance Imry shrieked. "In the name of all that is holy, do not use me thus. I am but a poor gypsy maid. I have done you no harm. I bear you no malice. Why use me so?"
"Hush, my little pigeon!" Ilona Joo giggled. "Save your strength. You will need every bit of it 'ere the life's blood has been let from your veins."
Thorko hoisted Constance Imry to his shoulder. The softness of her nubile body was bathed in the sweat of fear. Once again the palms of his horny hands were doing terrible things to her.
Waddling from side to side, his grossness resembling that of a shambling beast he carried the fettered girl to an ante chamber where Ujvary waited in his leather jerkin and black slitted mask midst the terrible engines of his trade.
"The girl is cold!" Thorko gloated. Make sure she is warmed a bit." Ilona Joo's cackle and the low, musical laugh of the castle's mistress echoed Thorko's words.
The diabolical purpose of the chair became apparent to the screaming girl a moment later when Ujvary slid a pan of glowing coals into a rack directly under the seat.
The iron chair heated slowly. At first the sense of warmth came as a welcome respite from the dankness of the torture chamber. But the comfort was short lived. Heat swirled up around Constance Imry's body. She strained upwards. The iron bands bolding her in place added new pain as they ground against her struggling flesh.
Constance Imry's voice was raised in a constant shriek. She threw her head from side to side. The agony was a cumulative thing, building to a crescendo and then mounting from there. Everything in the hell chamber was obliterated from her view except for the visages of her maniacal tormentors.
Elisabeth Bathory's face moved toward her. The beautiful countess stared at her victim with unblinking eyes. Her mouth slacked open. The cords in her neck stood out. Her breasts quivered their excitement. She rubbed her own flanks. The dried blood on her lips was an obscene gash.
"So sweet. So plump. So healthy!" she murmured as she stroked Constance Imry's nakedness. "What a wonderful little one you are for us."
Her laugh rose to a pitch even above the shriek of her tortured handmaiden.
Thus was the village beauty Constance Imry introduced to Satan's nest. Historians are not definite about how she got there. All they know is that she was one of hundreds of Transylvanian girls who disappeared across the evil castle's yawning moat. And once the gates and draw bridge locked behind them, their destiny was sealed.
Csejthe. The name of the castle has become synonymous with all that is evil in the hearts of man. For here in the menage of the beauteous Elisabeth Bathory was practiced every abomination which the malignant brain is capable of conjuring.
One might have expected the high born, tempestuous heiress to the Bathory title and lands would revel in the more exotic forms of sexual gratification. Her family's history was one of wildness and rapine lust. So well placed were they that even the King of Hungary thought twice before incurring their wrath.
To understand this, you must remember that in the 16th Century no European crowned head could rest easy. A king was no stronger than the fealty of his noble Barons. To them went the task of collecting his taxes, raising his armies and fighting his battles. And whatever might be said against the Bathorys, nobody had ever besmirched their bravery in battle nor their ability to rule their fiefs with an iron hand.
Spoiled, arrogant, indescribably beautiful, Elisabeth became almost universally sought after. Count Ferencz Nadasdy gained the inside track with her because of his reputation for being a boudoir bull. Elisabeth had ample opportunity to test his sexual prowess before she became the mistress of his castle. Under his guidance the young countess was introduced to every form of exotic love making that man and woman can enter into.
For his part, Ferencz was more than satisfied. He told intimates, "She is tireless. There is no such thing as too much for her. Not can one shock her. No matter what I suggest, she complies. And some of our best improvisations have been her idea."
Within months the newlyweds had shoved off for Csejthe. As part of her dowry, Elisabeth brought Ilona Joo who had nursed her from childhood. The ancient crone had filled Elisabeth's head with wild tales of love potions, compacts with Satan and the other devious workings of the occult. Now to maintain her position as the Countess's trusted confidant and to head off any possible competition from Ferencz Nadasdy's household retinue, Ilona Joo delved ever deeper into the murky slime of abnormality. It was she who hired the torturers Thorko and Ujvary. They'd been nothing more but village rapists before Elisabeth's arrival on the scene. Now they were given an opportunity to refine their sadism into a fine art.
Had Ferencz been a home-loving husband perhaps none of the horror which was to mark Csejthe as a place of evil would have occurred. However like any other red-blooded Transylvanian of royal birth he constantly sought new villages to sack, new virgins to rape.
This left Elisabeth to wander around the cavernous halls of Nadasdy's castle in a state of growing boredom. She became fretful — even raging at her beloved nurse from time to time.
It was at this point that Ilona Joo introduced Elisabeth to lesbianism in the form of the beautiful and insatiably cruel Dorottya. The woman had been Ferencz's mistress before Elisabeth appeared on the scene.
Whatever anguish Dorottya may have felt at losing Nadasdy, she was quick to bounce back. If she couldn't have the count, she'd take his countess.
Soon Elisabeth's bed chamber echoed to her wild cries of passion and Dorottya's answering grunts. The ex-mistress knew how to bring the countess to a fever of passion which was several decibels higher than she attained even with Nadasdy.
However Dorottya's chief area of interest remained the subterranean torture chambers which were part of the hardware of any well equipped castle of the time. Nightly she prowled the depressing area, her nostrils quivering at the stench of human debasement, her eyes lighting at the sight of the grisly devices.
At first she found it difficult to interest Elisabeth in the macabre setting. Then she seized upon the opportunity afforded by a nubile serving girl spilling hot soup on the countess's hand to make her point.
The terrified girl was dragged, kicking, squirming and shrieking to the dungeon. Overcome by rage and pain, Elisabeth consented to view the girl's chastisement.
She watched as the girl was strung up by her thumbs and literally cut to ribbons by a vicious whipping. As the pool of blood grew at the girl's feet, Dorottya gracefully bent down and dipped her handkerchief into the gore and offered it to Elisabeth. Elisabeth rubbed the blood over the small scald mark on her own hand.
When the whipping had been completed, Ilona Joo who had joined the group, ordered the girl lowered into a roaring fire. Elisabeth and Dorottya conducted their love-making accompanied by the mortal shrieks of the tortured girl.
Several days later Elisabeth is said to have noticed that the skin of her hand where she had applied the handkerchief. was even whiter and smoother than it had been before her injury.
And this discovery was to turn Csejthe into a charnel house without rival.
"Blood!" Elisabeth cried to Ilona Joo. "I must have blood!"
"And so you shall, m'lady," the old crone intoned.
Thus began the disappearance of hundreds of maidens. Sometimes they would be interviewed in the village for positions as castle scullery maids. Ilona Joo would arrange to have them drugged and carried off. Sometimes Thorko or Ujvary would fall upon them as they worked in the fields.
A filthy rag would be shoved into their mouths to still their outcries. Their limbs would be bound with heavy ropes and they would be taken to the castle.
Immediately upon their arrival they would be conducted to the underground dungeon, stripped of their clothing and their nude bodies chained to the wall.
Then Elisabeth would conduct her inspection. The more robust of the village maids would be consigned to the "blood farm." They would be forced to eat huge portions of raw meat. If they refused, they would be placed on the rack and stretched until the torture of their over-extended points would destroy all will to fight.
When they were "ripe" they would be flung upside down by their heels. Huge casks would be placed beneath them. Their major arteries would be cut open and the life's blood would splash down into the waiting receptacle.
Maddened by her orgiastic life, Elisabeth took to bathing in maidens' blood. She convinced herself that such beauty treatments would not only bring her immortality, but eternal youth and beauty. Ilona Joo remained close beside her mistress, her phlegm flecked spittle gushing as she made promises spawned in hell. Dorottya too continued in the household, her sadistic pleasures becoming ever more excessive.
The terrorized Transylvanian serfs considered attacking the bastion of wickedness. But they were numbed by thoughts of the retribution which would be brought down upon their heads if such an attack failed.
Word of the debaucheries at Csejthe was received by the royal court. But no immediate action was taken. Ferencz Nadasdy was not a man to be trifled with. Any investigation of his wife might boomerang.
For a time it appeared as if Elisabeth's dream of immortality through vampirism would come true. But immortality was not to come to Ferencz. The count was killed in a minor skirmish. At last the protection of the House of Nadasdy was denied to his bereaved widow.
Now the king of Hungary, fearing a peasant revolt, acted. He sent a royal commission to investigate the goings on.
So horrified were the men who entered the dungeons that they could not contain their wrath at what they saw.
An immediate trial was held.
Ilona Joo — to have her fingers removed one by one, her ancient intestines ripped from her living body and placed across her emaciated breasts while she was roasted over a slow fire.
Thorko and Ujvary — to have their sex organs ripped from their groins and placed in their mouths. To be scourged with barbed whips. To be drawn and quartered and finally burned alive.
Dorottya — to be raped by a tame bear. Then to be stretched on a rack while her breasts were amputated by means of red-hot pincers. And finally to be consigned to the flames.
And for Elisabeth Bathory whose family connections were still mighty — to be walled up in the castle. To have no contact with another human being. There to live out her normal life span in the hopes that she would repent before her death.
Whether she did or not — or indeed was capable of such penance will never be known. Suffice it to say that she remains until this day the hideous image of evil incarnate.