countess elizabeth bathory
Elizabeth's family possesses vast holdings that remain in her control despite her marriage to Count Nasdasy, a man with a reputation of brutality that manages to stand out even during a time of untold savagery. In spite of the times in which she lives, Elizabeth, sixth in line for the Hungarian throne, is highly educated in the classical manner usually reserved for the males of her station. As an adult she speaks six languages fluently, does translations from ancient Greek into Latin and back for amusement. She understands advanced mathematics and has a truly brilliant mind. She is as strong willed as England's Queen Elizabeth. Unlike England's Queen, Elizabeth Bathory is known only for her astonishing beauty. When age and beauty's merciless tyranny begins to rob her of her only sense of worth and control, Elizabeth resorts to desperate measures, revealing a fragile core that crumbles into madness.
Gregor grew up in the village that surrounds Cachtice Castle, home of the powerful Bathory family. His family are serfs, whose every move is controlled by the Bathorys. Gregor is kind and clever, whose heart often overrules his head. As a young teen, Gregor earns Elizabeth's admiration and she his. After an absence of thirty years, Gregor, now a widower with a beautiful young daughter, returns to the village of his birth to fill the post vacated by an elderly pastor who died under mysterious circumstances. Gregor quickly discovers that his adoration for Elizabeth has not dimmed with time. His affections blind him to even the possibility of an indescribably evil soul that may be lurking beneath her beautiful exterior.
Darvulia is the loving and devoted nursemaid who raised Elizabeth from birth. She has protected the countess as best she could from a cruel mother and an even more cruel husband. Darvulia is a woman with strong beliefs in the supernatural and the unfailing mother's devotion for her beloved Elizabeth. There is nothing Darvulia will not do, no power she will not call upon to protect her mistress. Her blind loyalty doesn't waiver in the face of death, not even hers.
Handsome, self-absorbed, arrogant and convinced of his own greatness, Imre takes it as his due when his friend, the late Count Nasdasy bequeaths him control of Nasdasy's only son and the income from the properties the boy is to inherit when he comes of age. He has no sympathy for the emotional torment the loss of her child causes Elizabeth or for the financial hardships the loss of income places on the Countess. After all, she's just a woman. There's very little she can do about, or so Imre believes. Like many, Imre doesn't fully comprehend the consequences of underestimating the Countess.
A young man whose physical deformity has made him the subject of countless cruelties and made it difficult for him to survive. He is grateful to be employed as Elizabeth's court fool and will do what is necessary to protect his position within the castle. Ficzko has never experienced real kindness from anyone until he meets Doria, Pastor Gregor's daughter. His affections and appreciation for Doria will challenge his loyalties to the Countess and to himself.
A shockingly unattractive women, Helena Jo basks in the reflected glory of the Countess. She is driven by the desperate need to be seen as an object of desire instead of revulsion, but even Darvulia's magic cannot change Helena Jo's looks. She seeks approval and admiration the only way she can: by unleashing an unfathomable, jealousy driven cruelty towards the young beauties the Countess prefers to employ.
Gregor's lovely daughter stands on the verge of womanhood having lived a very sheltered life in a world devoid of cruelty. Like her father, Doria is ruled by her heart. But unlike her father, Doria has virtually no understanding of the evil men and women can do. She is an unprotected lamb in danger of being sacrificed for a pointless cause.
Elizabeth's Uncle, a personal friend of Holy Roman Emperor Matthis, King of the Hungarians. Thurzó is Palatine of Hungary, the highest-ranking individual in the kingdom. He is a very passionate Lutheran and eventually serves as the judge for Elizabeth's servants's trial.