Her Majesty

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Maryska raised her face to Heaven as if the history of the Bathory family was scrawled across the sky in blood.

'Her father died a cuckold twenty times over...Her uncle spoke with demons and was carried off to the flames of Hell by the Horned One... Her brother was an adulterer and rapist who tore the skirts of nuns and gentlewomen...'

The washerwomen clucked like angry hens. They had heard these tales many many times, but they knew it was all true and worth retelling.

'Her aunt was cursed and could not lie with men, so she took others of her own sex into her bed,' sneered Maryska, warming to her subject. 'This Elizabeth, who is a friend to priests and bishops...' She paused to hawk up more spit which followed the same course as the other.

'...This Elizabeth smeared a girl with honey and left her for the ants to chew on. The girl's crime to deserve such a death?' she asked.

'She stole a pear!'

Around her the women hissed their outrage and shook their fists towards the castle. Maryska held up a grimy hand and the hissing ceased.

'The devil woman has other kin,' she continued. 'Take her daughter for a start...'

Countess Dracula, Michel Parry

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