The young girls, entombed together in the dreary dungeon cell of the enormous- and terrifyingly sinister- Bathory castle, huddled together on the filthy, damp floor, not even a bed of straw to soften it to their thin bodies. Rats crawled over the small, dark room, hissing and occasionally running over the girls' legs, but none screamed or even jumped at their touch. They were all used to rats by now... they were infinitely preferrable to the horrors the girls cold be facing, and soon would be.

The room was as cheerless and depressing as a room could get- the floor was cold and stained with blood, sweat, and urine- for there was not so much as a chamber pot for the 19 girls to use... the room stank with bodily fluids, unwashed bodies, and the stale, salty scent of fear emitting from the girls... there were no beds and no food, and only one small jug of unclean water that caused more thirst than it quenched.

The girls had obviously been in the dungeon for a long time. Their bodies were emaciated, their hair matted and greasy, skin grimy with dirt and sweat and blood... most seemed barely able to sustain enough energy to live. Their eyes were glassy, faces expressionless and unfeeling... many girls had horrible wounds, infected or festering, some still seeping blood.

The dungeon was remarkably silent. Those who could speak did not, and those most could not even had they wished to- they had not the strength. There were few tears, but the girls who wept did so silently.

Some girls were too weak to even sit up, and so lay down with their eyes barely open, their heads on the laps of other girls, their breathing coming so slowly it barely moved their chests.

The girls strong enough to sit up huddled together, shoulder to shoulder, shuddering, both from the dungeon's terrible cold and their shared fear of what was to come.

Suddenly the dungeon door swung open with a drawn out creak. The girls' heads swiveled slowly, and their trembling increased as they stared in terror at the dark majestic figure descending the stairs. They clutched each other tightly, praying prayers they knew to be futile.

The woman who stood before them was beautiful, with long, luxurious dark hair, a small, slender figure, pale skin, and a tiny waist. She wore a magnificent gown of crimson and purple, that emphasized every curve to its best advantage. As she stared at them, a gleeful smile transformed her lovely face into a twisted coutenance of malice. Her eyes shone with vicious delight at what they saw, of the obvious terror of the girls. She was Countess Elizabeth of Bathory, the blood countess...

" You!" she barked out abruptly to a girl of around 15 years, holding a child no more than nine in her arms. " Come with me, Rivkah!"

Rivkah could see the other girls' sighs of relief as they realized that at least for now, they were spared... she saw them withdraw from her, no longer touching her, averting their eyes as they said not a word, made no move to defend her from their mistress... Rivkah trembled, unable to move... it was her turn now...

Elizabeth strode over to her, scowling, and seized her arm, yanking her to her feet so roughly the other girl was tossed violently onto the floor, and Rivkah's arm was nearly pulled from its socket... she began to drag the unfortunate girl after her, with a strength beyond that of a normal woman. She reached the dungeon door and flung it open, pushing Rivkah through before allowing it to slam shut behind her, so that darkness closed in on the other girls once more.

As the remaining girls sat in numb silence, they could hear the ear-splitting shrieks made by Rivkah... as they heard Elizabeth's insane cackle growing louder, they could only think of how grateful they were that it was not yet their turn...