There will come a time where you will find a path that murmurs with darkness and is hidden by curtains of Magic. The path will be in the woods, past all the colonial houses standing erect, past all of the sleepy houses, settling in for the night, their shadows long and thin, sprawling across the ground. It will follow dark oak trees that twist and turn up to the sun, like claws infinitely trying to seize the sky, their leaves the deep purple of blackberries. It will smell of rotting leaves, a dusky scent that stands out from the sweet smells around it . The clear, cool water will gurgle and sing of Faeries, Monsters and times long ago, the birds will sing their evening songs and the wind will whisper and hum with Magic. The path will be bumpy, rough and want wear. Rocks and roots will twist and turn onto the path, making it hard to traverse.
Though you must not travel this damned path, your insatiable curiosity will pique and you will follow it.
When you dare to follow that path, you will find a split in the road. You will pause there, discouraged by the daunting decision of the traveler. But eventually, when your scattered thoughts are neatened and your wits gathered up, you will take the left path to find a house.
Though you must not enter this house, you will once again disobey me.
The house will be run down and old-fashioned. The light blue posts will be rotten and on the verge of falling down. The shutters will be hanging on by a thread. You will barely be able to see through the grimy windows to make out the blinds that are shut tightly.
You will not ignore this house. Despite my warnings, you will explore the house, even though you mustn't, for the woman inside wants to kill you.
You have to trust me.
Hush child, stop your wailing! It’s not happening soon, nor is it personal.
No, you cannot stop it; there’s no removing fate once it’s been written in the stars. All I can do is smudge it, like ink on a page.
Why does she want to kill you?
Why? That’s what everyone asks. You know the how, but never the why.
I’ve seen enough of the world, of all of its cracks to know the why. I know how to see the future and how to smudge the ink. One day you will too, but that day will come far too late. Too late for your own good.
Now settle in, child, I’ll tell you a story.
Her hatred of the world runs deep. It gouges through her stone-cold exterior and leaks into her heart. No, child, people are not just born evil! Do you think that The Ghoul was born, despising everyone and everything? Do you think that The Creature Of The Swamp was born, plotting the end of the world?
I never heard anything more ludacris.
She may hate the world child, but understand, this woman is not evil nor was she born evil. Believe me, she wasn’t always this way.
Magic blesses us. It’s because of Magic that we can get Fairydust, that our children can grow up healthy and rosy, that our crops are plentiful and rich and our animals are plump.
But Magic can also corrupt.
When provided with infinite possibility, the finite mind can’t take it. It overpowers.
It’s a vicious cycle. Magic takes over. Magic controls. Magic destroys.
It has happened since the beginning of time and will continue until its very last dying wheeze of Life.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I promised you a story, and this story is too important to skip.
Once upon a time, there was a girl with long black hair and expressive brown eyes. There was a girl with a smile as lovely and radiant as the Moon in the night and love as wide and clear as the summer night sky in the Swamp.
Once upon a time, there was just a little kid, like you.
She was once a baby, though nobody in the town could remember her age, who her family was, nor when she left town.
As with most small towns, the years and faces had blurred together, like faded jeans that have been washed too many times.
She was only 10 when the Magic chose her.
Thank Faeries it didn’t choose you, though I would have less of a headache if it did. Magic never lets go of those that it choses. It takes and it takes and it takes.
Unfortunately, it chose her. Otherwise I would be telling you a much different tale with a much different and less gruesome ending.
At first, it was fun. She could burp out bubbles, conjure any toy, and fly, if she wanted to. Kids would flock with requests and Wishes that she would grant.
But soon enough, it became dangerous. Flames bursted out of her mouth unexpectedly and inexplicably, snakes shot out of her fingers and would writhe across her body, their tongues dancing like a lick of fire and spiders made a nest of her hair, claiming the stringy strands as their own webs.
No one wanted to risk being friends with a person who could both grant your dearest wishes or curse you at any given moment depending on their mood.
So she stayed alone, letting the magic consume her.
And consume it did.
Stay still! We get to the part that involves you soon.
Several years in the future, when you will have all but grown up, peach fuzz on your chin and a gangly figure just starting to fill out and when she’s an old, but powerful Enchantress, a man will fall in love with her. Lovers will fall at her feet many times before this one, in awe of her beauty and power, but will quickly be deterred by her madness.
This one will not be deterred, seeking a similar madness found in himself.
He will come to her one day, asking for her hand in marriage, but she will refuse, laughing and shaking her delicate head.
“You are but a peasant! Come back to me when you can provide for a family.”
The man will get a job, working as a farmer. Every morning he will rise before the sun and leave once it is long gone and the trees are still tickled by the promise of it returning tomorrow. The man will work nonstop, pausing only to dream of the woman that he had fallen for.
When he returns several years later, the Enchantress will be surprised, not only by the overflowing coins in his hands, but the dedication that he had put in.
He will ask her again, this time for the final time, “Will you marry me.”
She will accept and love him with all of her dark heart.
This all will stop when you kill him.
I understand that you aren’t a killer, but neither is the woman who will find you on that fateful day in the woods.
When you shoot that man, you will be in a war, eager to please and serve. It will be the final war between Goblins and Faeries, but the price that both sides will pay is too much, more than anyone can comprehend.
The price you will pay for a single gunshot is more than you could’ve ever expected.
You’ll stand in lines, guns at the ready. Your uniform loose, perspiration running down your forehead. You won’t mean to shoot the man. The man on the same side as you. The man who mentored and helped you.
But you will.
And you’ll pay with everything you’ve got.
You’ll see her many times, waiting in the shadows. You’ll hear her in the birch trees whispering slightly above you or the soft crunch of fall leaves behind you. You’ll see her in the face of a stranger, asking for directions. You’ll smell her, a smoky scent cutting through the sweet, sticky summer air.
When the time comes, you’ll dismiss all these things, but I promise you, it will not be the wind, an animal, a stranger, a fire.
It will be her.
Merely watching. Waiting.
Go off and play, you squirmy thing! Just remember to be careful, my love, beware your future meeting with The Witch Of The Woods.