Baroness Russlein von Alterbar

A female ghost who appears only to descendants of Count Johannes Rathenau. During the religious wars, Rathenau captured Schloss Altebar in Bavaria and slaughtered the whole Altebar family with particular savagery.

Baroness Altebar appears to Rathenau men as a seductive and beautiful woman. She chooses her victim at night, at a ball or some other happy occasion, and displays such charm and promise that he is unable to resist her. What happens after that will vary according to her whim.

In Vienna in 1896, a cab driver picked up Walther Rathenau and a beautiful woman late one night. He heard the couple laughing and talking in his cab, but suddenly smelt an appalling odour of rotten flesh. His horse stopped and refused to move, and when he opened the cab door he found the woman had vanished and that Walther was speechless with terror. He died three days later.

At Baden Baden in 1938, Major Helmut Rathenau was enjoying a successful evening in the casino in the company of a woman later described as 'More beautiful than Hedy Lamarr'. At midnight, he strolled into the garden with her and his winnings. At dawn, a gardener found his corpse under a lilac tree. It appeared to have been immersed in water for many weeks.

The baroness always makes sure that the Rathenau men know the reason for their fate. In 1703 she transformed Carl-Heinz Rathenau into an object resembling a mummy, which lived long enough to croak out the story she told him.

One would think that Rathenau men would be on their guard against strange women. But the rich and scented beauty of the baroness, with dark eyes promising untold delights, always makes them forget the old story as they follow her into the night.