Countess Báthory did not speak to her again, or anyone for that matter. The food the guards delivered to her room was returned uneaten.

"Did she ask you for anything while we were with the palatine," Bernat asked?

"No." At least not exactly.

"Maybe the priest's said something that upset her." Miklos speculated. "Or she's finally feeling remorse for all she's done. Either way, it's not our job to force her to eat. If she wants to starve herself all the better. Then we can leave this place."

Justina didn't tell them that the conversation with the priests was not what had upset the countess. She thought over the words they had exchanged, wondering if she should have said something differently. While the countess had been unpredictable and volatile in so many of their interactions, she had also provided the medicine that was making Mílena better. The way she had talked about her children, the sadness Justina could feel when their hands had touched, had revealed a tender side too.

Three days passed. Each meal time Justina would stand with Jans or Bernat and implore the countess to eat, and yet each plate remained untouched. On the fourth morning, Bernat opened the higher panel to look inside the room and then pushed Justina back.

"Tell the guards at the gate to summon the palatine."

"Why, what's wrong?"
"Just do it!"

She didn't understand, but she hurried away as he motioned for Jans and Miklos to come to the wall that closed off the countess's chambers. While she was still talking to the guards at the gate, Jans came down and whispered something to one of them. He turned to go and Justina grabbed his sleeve.

"What has happened? Tell me!"

He looked away uncomfortably, but relented in the end, "She's dead. Bernat saw her lying on the floor. We broke through the wall after you left to make sure. The Tigress of Cachtice is gone."