The true story behind the woman who called herself Marya Zaleska is shrouded in mystery. It is not even clear whether Marya Zaleska was her actual name or not, or whether she could lay legitimate claim to the title of Countess. Due to several incongruities with known information about her background, anything relating to Zaleska's origins should be approached with a healthy degree of skepticism.
It is believed that Countess Zaleska was a vampire, who claimed to be the daughter of the infamous Transylvanian nobleman, Count Dracula, himself a vampire of some notoriety. Whether Zaleska was Dracula's daughter by birth or his vampiric daughter as well is also cause for speculation. According to occult scholar Professor Von Helsing, Countess Zaleska was over one-hundred years old.
In 1931, Zaleska learned about the death of her father at the hands of Van Helsing at Carfax Abbey in Purfleet. Journeying to England from Transylvania with her brutish valet Sandor, she tracked her father's remains to a jail house in Whitby. Using a mystical ring to hypnotize a guard named Albert, she stole Dracula's corpse and brought it deep into the woods whereupon she cremated it in a funeral pyre. Zaleska believed that with her father's spirit consigned to Hell, her own spirit was now free. Forlorn at the notion of being a vampire herself, she felt a renewed sense of willpower, and was committed towards exorcising the vampire curse from her body. Sandor however, embraced Zaleska's darker passions, and tried to discourage her from abandoning what he believed to be her true supernatural heritage.
Zaleska and Sandor rented a third-floor studio above Brook's Book Store in Chelsea, and she began plying her trade as an artist. Her temperament was still dark and forlorn however, and she knew that forsaking her vampiric lusts would be next to impossible. As she feared, the thirst for blood overwhelmed her, and she wandered into the fog-enshrouded streets of the city to claim her first victim - an unnamed well-dressed Londoner.
A few nights later, Marya attended a function at the mansion home of a socialite named Lady Esme Hammond. Hammond had purchased one of Zaleska's paintings and hung it in her home. While there, she met psychiatrist Doctor Jeffrey Garth and his assistant Janet Blake. Learning of his profession, she had hoped that perhaps he might be able to help alleviate the symptoms of her nocturnal obsessions. Marya did not yield too much information to Garth, but he did agree to give her a private audience to help her work through her difficulties.
A few nights later, Marya was in her studio when the need for blood arose once more. She sent Sandor out to find a model willing to pose for her. Sandor brought a young woman named Lili back to the studio and Marya asked her to undress. Before the session could begin however, something about the situation began to make Lili nervous and she asked to leave. Zaleska bit her upon the throat, drawing large volumes of blood. Lili fell unconscious and was later admitted to St. Mary's Hospital (which is where Jeffrey Garth worked).
Countess Zaleska made an impromptu appearance in Jeffrey's office one evening to discuss further treatment. He wanted to try an experimental process of hypnosis upon her, but Zaleska refused. Janet Blake was keen to note that Marya's interest in Garth was more than that of just a simple patient. She made every effort to distract Jeffrey's attentions from Zaleska whenever she could. At this time, Marya learned that the hospitalized Lili finally succumbed to her injuries.
Zaleska gave up hope that Doctor Garth could ever effect a cure for her. She kidnapped Janet Blake and took her away to her father's castle in Transylvania. Garth, now knowing the truth about the Countess, accompanied his old mentor, Professor Von Helsing, and tracked Marya and Sandor back to Transylvania. When Marya threatened to turn Janet into a vampire, Doctor Garth offered up himself as substitute. From a nearby parapet at the top of the castle, Sandor fired an arrow at the two just as Zaleska was readying herself to bite Jeffrey. It is not exactly clear who his intended target was, but the shaft struck the Countess in the heart, killing her.