She smiled, showing the gaps where her canine teeth used to be.
"One of the worst was, perhaps, the Maiden Dracula - of no relation to the Order of the Dragon; indeed, she was born in Moravian Wallachia, in a hamlet which gave eggs and horse feed to the town of Valašské Meziříčí. They say she was the only daughter of a rough-faced farmer whose wife and died, and when she came of age she did all the chores of son and daughter for him - slaughtering pigs and chickens, handling the horse, bringing in the grain, all by herself. Perhaps that is when the rumors started, for she was a pretty thing when she came of age, and he would shy all the men and boys away that might have thought to marry her. So she was called the Maiden; and no other name but one has survived the centuries."
The smile vanished, and she fidgeted at her belt, where a plain knife with a wooden handle was tucked.
"Of course, there is more than what the stories say. You can only imagine yourself what it must have been like for the girl and father alone, how the townsfolk might have whispered - and there is another legend that says one day a man came into Valašské Meziříčí after a terrible accident on the farm, and that he had somehow gelded himself while sharpening a scythe. A terrible story, but farmers do tend to lose pieces of themselves...especially if they do not pay close attention to where they are in relation to other things."
She took the knife out, which slide from the sheath with the soft sound of steel on leather, and used the point of the blade to clean beneath her nails.
"The Turk was largely gone from Wallachia at that point, but as with all retreating armies they had left bastards - and these who remained behind had formed a band of brigands who struck where they could, stealing food and clothing and horses, sometimes women and young boys when the opportunity availed them. It was a small band, of perhaps thirteen men - though some stories say thirty-seven, and others fifty-one. It doesn't really matter, I suppose. But one cold winter the hamlet and town were sore oppressed by the brigands, who grey bolder and bolder, though they struck only by night. Still might they have lived another winter, except that in one daring raid, they broke into her farm, and stole the meat from their smoke-house."
Now she smiled again, and took out a soft cloth to clean the blade, which had a little device worked into the hilt of curious design - like a Celtic knot woven into a skull.
"The Maiden decided then and there that would be the end of the Turkish bastards. So she went into town - here the stories differ; some say she asked for volunteers from the women who had been mishandled by the brigands, others say she went to the town whores and bought them all for a day and a night - but she had three or five or seven women with her, and she led them to where a trail came down from the hills to the main road, and here everyone knew was the path that the brigands took when they came down to do their thieving."
"Now this night was no different, save that the women had lit a good-sized fire and laid out blankets, and when the brigands came down as thieves they found the women warm and waiting, saying how they had missed them and desired to know them again - and so what followed was an orgy of sorts, as each of the women lay with several of the brigands in turn, an event that has formed a curious folk-memory well-remembered in the annals of erotica, though the rest of the events are forgotten."
"Because when each brigand was finished and exhausted, and staggered away to sleep or piss, the Maiden came up with her knife and cut their throats; and with that same knife she gelded them exactly as she might a horse or a hog. So when the next day the four or six or eight women came back into town, disheveled and exhausted and hardly able to walk straight, they were led by the maiden, who had washed the blood from her hands in the snow, and carrying her skirt in her hands as though she had been gathering berries. She told the townsfolk the brigands would trouble them no more."
The old woman replaced the knife in her belt, and fiddled with the necklace of wooden balls around her neck, which at first could be mistaken for a rosary.
"As proof, she let loose her skirt, and the prizes she had taken from the brigand full onto the snowy ground like chestnuts. And that is why she first was called the Maiden Dracula, and that no man would try to marry her after that, so she died a virgin."
She ran her hands once more over the ancient volumes on the shelf.
"Of course, that is just the beginning. I did say she was one of the worst, did I not? Perhaps that is when they first called her Dracula, but it is only the beginning of how she earned the name..."