What you are about to read is a diary that was recently unearthed in the Slovakian village of Čachtice, documenting the tales of the Countess
Elizabeth Báthory (born Erzsébet Báthory), one of the most notorious and prolific female serial killers of all time. This diary has been translated and updated to be fully understood by today’s standards of text. Who the diary belonged to, we may never know, as no records of the person’s identity have ever been uncovered. Since the entries within this contain accounts ranging from intense sexual violence, to brutal torture/murder, to even the author’s descent into madness, reader’s discretion is highly advised.
December 16th, 1590:
I have never gathered much of a point to document my thoughts and experiences as I never considered anything in my life up until this point to be anything significantly noteworthy. But as from today, what with my life undergoing such a massive change, I now have the perfect excuse for such things.
After what seemed like an eternal journey through the harsh, bitter snow (that poor driver and those poor horses), I finally arrived at Csejte Castle, owned by the Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, which was presented as a wedding gift from her husband, the Count Ferenc Nádasdy et Fogarasföld. My father managed to secure me the job of minding and teaching the couple’s daughter, Anna, which he claimed was ‘No finer Christmas gift’, and I have to agree with him.
I haven’t been introduced to Anna yet, but I have met the Countess. I believe in nothing more valid than the notion that God sculpted her with the uttermost love, respect and attention, something that no mere mortal has ever been blessed. Whatever the reason for such consideration, I know that it should be admired in such a way that requires complete dominance in the form of godly worship from all of those within her presence. Oh dear. Should the Countess ever chance upon this piece of paper, I will surely die from embarrassment. My room is cosy and warm – despite the cruel, winter chill attempting to break through my window – and it’s not far from where the Countess resides. I feel like I am in some fairytale!
December 25th, 1590:
Christmas Day was filled with nothing but high spirits, as the way it should be. Before Anna could wake, I helped the lovely servant girl, Katarína, who has been here for a long time and is very close to the Countess, lay out the child’s Christmas gifts in her chamber, right at the foot of her bed. We couldn’t help but giggle to ourselves as we attempted to be as quiet as church mice. It was a dangerous game, but thankfully Anna was in a deep sleep, no doubt being unable to pry herself away from the dream of unleashing the hope and promise contained within the wrapping paper that surrounded those gifts. The Countess tried her best to hold a smile throughout the day for the sake of her daughter, but I can tell that her heart aches for her husband, who is currently away at war. I feel sorry for the Countess having to deal with her husband’s business affairs. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of stress that must weigh on her mind.
December 27th, 1590:
The Countess received word that her husband will not be returning from his duties in time to celebrate the new year with her. She reacted in a cold, uncaring manner to the man who delivered the news, but as I retired to my room, I could hear soft, pained cries echoing from up the hallway, which undoubtedly belonged to her. Poor woman.
The Countess behaved rather oddly when she emerged from her room a couple of hours later. She didn’t seem her usual self; she was quick to temper and seemed on edge. That’s when I noticed the small stain of wine on the collar of her dress, and the reason for her behavior suddenly became crystal clear to me. She’s not a drinker, apparently, so I’m assuming the wine went straight to her head, clouding her better self.
December 28th, 1590:
Despite everything she is enduring, the Countess is such a generous woman. Today, a young girl called Jelena arrived at the castle, having been blessed with the promise of working in the kitchens. She was a poor girl, but pretty, and the joy in her eyes brought tears to my own.
Katarína emerged from her room this afternoon with a black eye and a nasty, deep cut to her left cheek. I asked how she obtained these injuries, but she wouldn’t divulge a single detail. I offered to help dress the wounds so they wouldn’t become infected, to which she agreed, but I soon became uncomfortable as I dabbed her cut cheek. She seemed to be enjoying the sensation of the pain she would’ve been feeling as I cleaned it, moaning with, dare I say it, pleasure? The sounds a woman would usually make when a man makes love to her. I know it sounds wrong and it probably was, but that’s just the way I interpreted those noises.
December 29th, 1590:
I’m sat here not knowing how to feel at the moment. I was playing with Anna, chasing her around the rooms before she went to bed, and she rushed into the Countess’s bedroom – a place forbidden to enter. I tried beckoning Anna out of there, but she went quiet, stubborn. I took a look over my shoulder to make sure no one was around, to which there wasn’t, and I crept slowly into the room, whispering for Anna to show herself. The room was shrouded in darkness, and despite having no windows available to bring forth a single touch of draft, just small ventilation holes, it was extremely cold – even colder than my room. As I crept further into the darkness of the Countess’s domain, I ended up clumsily stumbling into her bed that was in the middle of the room, toppling onto it. As I hit the covers, my left cheek touched something damp and sticky. Peeling myself off from whatever it was, I heard footsteps from behind me, too heavy to be Anna’s – my heart leapt into my throat.
Quickly leaping off the bed and spinning around, I saw it was Katarína. She was holding up a lantern near to her face, highlighting the painful-looking injuries. She didn’t say a word to me, and I was in the shock of thinking I was in deep trouble to say anything to her. All she did was saunter towards me, bringing enough of the lantern light with her for me to catch a glimpse of an unnerving painting on the wall. It was of Vlad the Impaler, a man more famous for his extreme cruelty than anything else, at least in my opinion. Why would the Countess have a portrait of a horrible man like that in her room?
Finally, face to face with Katarína, still not breathing a word to each other, she brought up the lantern to my face, studied me, and then took out a silk handkerchief from her dress pocket. She then dabbed it, almost sensually with her tongue, before running it slowly in a circular motion against my cheek – it mirrored the way I was cleaning her wound yesterday. As she pulled it away, I gasped as I saw what was smudged on there: blood. Blood from the Countess’s bed? Yes, it was. Katarína told me the Countess is on her period and that I should leave right away if I didn’t want to upset her. I called for Anna again, but she remained hidden in darkness. Fearing staying a second longer, I rushed out, leaving Katarína and Anna behind. I’m still shaking. Is Katarína attracted to me? Is it the feelings of pain and the sight of blood she likes? I wish to keep my distance from her from now on.
Sleep is what I need. Need plenty of rest for tomorrow.
End of part 1.