Lady of Blood: Countess Bathory
On the cold stone floor of the great hall lay a pale, partially clothed young girl. She failed to move. They wondered if she might simply be asleep or drunk, so several men went toward her. Still, she made no effort to rouse herself. One man reached down to touch her and shook his head. He told the others she was dead. They turned her over and saw how pale she looked. She appeared to have been drained of bloodexactly as the rumors went.
Then they heard a moan. Just a few paces away was another girl, sprawled face up but still alive. The men discovered that her body had been pierced in many places. She was also pale, as if from severe blood depletion. It was clear to them that she would not last longnot even long enough for them to take her to the village. Reluctantly, they left her there and moved deeper into the castle. They could smell the foul odors of decomposition.
Against a pillar, the party found another female corpse chained to a post. She bore marks of beatings and burns, as well as cuts from a whip. She, too, had lost most of her blood. Clearly, whatever was happening to these girls was related to some kind of blood ceremony, such as those practiced by devil worshippers.
The men freed the captives and led them out of the castle before venturing to the higher floors to find the woman responsible for these carnal atrocities. To their surprise, (some sources say) inside a large torch-lit room they discovered evidence of a drunken holiday orgy, complete with torture. The lady they came for had already fled, but they knew where she had gone and it was not difficult to find her.
Its not easy distinguishing truth from legend in a case more than three centuries old. What follows is gleaned from several accounts, with contradictions on significant issues noted.