A/N: I did not check for spelling mistakes, I was too tired. I’m sorry for the long delay
-Mama! Mama! Tell me another story, just one more. Ah! You’re begging again, using those watery eyes to melt my heart and bend me to your will, I always tell myself that this is the last time I let you fool me, but my old heart doesn’t work that way. It loves you too much. I love you too much. So, I sit your slender body on my lap and chuckle as you’re shaking with excitement:
-What story would you like to hear? How about the one with the lonely witch?
-Nooo! I know that one already ma!
-Well how about the one with Little Red Riding Hood?
-I know that one too…You sound quite disappointed, I wonder what story I should tell. I have told you tales about wicked witches and scary dragons all your life, you must know them all…I haven’t forgotten any now, have I? Or maybe…
-Oh! I know, I chirp, have you heard the story about The fallen ones?
-No, tell me ma! Tell me!
-Hehe, alright dear.
The fire crackles and the snowstorm outside starts intensifying, making the windows shake, it is really late but our beds are still empty and I know all too well you will not rest until the story ends and so, I begin:
-Once upon a time, long long ago, when magic was something commonly used between humans there lived a man by the name of Ian. He was a soldier, a really good one too! He used to slay monsters and demons that crawled out from Underground, Ian had no mercy. No matter how small and defenseless the being, he would kill them in an instant thus earning the feared name Ian the Demon Sayer. Ian was a lone wolf, he said he did not need any woman to warm his heart and make him soft as that to him was a weakness. Although he was cold and hated by many, in his town, ladies of all ages fell head over hills for him. But that never affected Ian, he always denied them o acted rude towards them, soon it became a competition of who can get the Demon Slayer first. Rena, a lovely young lady, who was considered the prettiest in town due to her golden locks and enchanting baby blue eyes, tried her luck too but only to be rejected in an embarrassing way in front of the whole town. One late evening though, as Ian was polishing and checking his armor for any dents a crow tapped on his window. He looked at the bird and noticed the purple silk ribbon that tied a message to the bird’s leg, Ian opened the window and untied the piece of paper. As he slowly read each passage his eyes narrowed and he frowned in disgust. It was from the king, he had ordered Ian to help out with a demon who had been a pest in the northern side of The Four-Kingdoms, but if he wanted to get there in time he had to leave today. He rubbed the sleep out of his eye before putting on the heavy dark ebony armor and heading outside with only his sword and water. He travelled through forests and hills, his only map were the stars which shone brightly that night, it soon became colder and colder until he found himself in the middle of a snowstorm, right on the battlefield. Soldiers were yelling and howling in pain, the once pure white snow now splattered in hot human blood, the smell of burning hair and fat filled his nostrils, Ian gagged, seeing his people get burnt alive by the dark creature that was the demon. It truly was something that could only be described as uncanny, its entire body was black and oozing, it was taller than any human, standing above 2 meters, it had long and sharp claws, many many rows of teeth which were smaller than a human’s. The creature grinned and Ian felt his heart stop. He didn’t want to die but he felt something that had never been felt before, fear. His knees were weak and shaky, the sword in his hand felt extremely heavy, he stared into the beast’s eyes and then-
Your eyes widen in anticipation:
-And? What happens to Ian?
-Well…Ian gets eaten, the end!
-What?! Maaaa! That cannot end like that! It is so sad, what happened to the girls that loved him? To Rena? To the demon?! Also why was Ian scared of this demon and not the others? How could it-
-Shush shush…now let’s get you to bed.
I embrace you tightly, and I know you will be whining and pleading me to tell you the real end but…my dear child I cannot. I shouldn’t have told you the story in the first place. Such a tragedy is not to be heard by children like you. But I think I somewhat expected you to leave and ask other villagers about Ian the demon slayer but I knew no one would dare bring up the story. I was glad that you were juvenile and time erases memories, or…so I thought:
-Oh old oak tree, I had a nightmare, again the same thing. The beast mama told me about six years ago still haunts my dreams, the one that murdered Ian, the demon slayer. The one that never lets me rest, the one I am afraid I’ll see tonight as well. Oak tree if only you could talk, what would you tell me? Would you tell me that I am childish or insane? Would you simply laugh? Or would you just nod you head sadly, thinking about the forbidden story.
The oak tree did not say a word, its leaves shuffled as wind moved the gently, its vines tickling the now 18 year old boy:
-I need to find out what happened. I need to know so I can rest, so I can live again. And if I fail, if the silly story my good mother told me, may God let her have peace in her grave, is actually real and I shall perish then good old Oak I want to tell you and only you that my heart belongs to thee. No woman. Not even the prettiest owns it but you. You and this lake, and the scent of wet soil and the gentle rain when it pours, nobody understands but you.
The Oak tree said nothing upon hearing the words he spoke, it merely touched his cheek again and collected the tear that stained the young man’s face. His eyes glistened and he headed for the north with only his dagger and his memories of the ones he lost, the ones he loved and the one who tormented his every dream, the demon who he wanted to meet. He walked for days and days, his thirst getting harder to ignore but he knew his goal was near, he did not know what to look for but he felt it in the very marrow of his bones, the boiling excitement taking over his body. There was fear of the unknown but most importantly determination to know who, when, where and most importantly why. Time passed slowly and soon exhaustion got the best of him, he fell asleep. In his dream, he did not see the dark beast instead he saw his mother:
-Dear child, my son…I thought you knew better than to disobey your mother. Do you want me to never be able to rest in peace? Do you really wish for such a horrendous thing? As much as I hate what you are doing, the path you’re walking on; I cannot help but stand true to you since you are my only son. To reach the your destination, search for the onyx temple, there you will be met with a creature who seeks your help but whatever she asks, whatever form she takes, do NOT under any circumstances help or speak to her or she will cut your tongue out and keep you as her pet forever. My son to find what you are looking for keep heading to the north. And never forget that I am here with you, I never left you and…
His mother faded into nothingness as he woke up, he rubbed his eyes and shook his head. With newly found energy he walked for another seven days until he reached something that looked like ruins. Just some stone piles and broken pillars…all made of onyx. He noticed that they were somewhat tilted in a way that they resembled a cave:
-Hello…is anyone there? I am stuck! Please someone help me! a hoarse voice cried
He did not speak a word:
-Young man! Please! Help me! I have been stuck here for days without food and water, please! My children must be starving right now! Please!
-I beg of you not to listen to rumors about me! Please, she started wailing as if in pain, my children, my poor Sofia will starve to death.
His willpower was slowly crumbling:
-I need your help! PLEASE! Her voice shook as she cried
Sweat was running down his forehead as he stood before the cave listening to the woman’s cries and pleas, but as he turned around there was no woman. Just a skinny and pale woman whose eyes were so large he thought they might fall out. She sneered and grabbed a pair of scissors from her pocket, he could not move, was it magic or just fear? That is unknown. The witch cut once. It did not hurt but blood was gushing out of his nose and his mouth. He coughed and coughed, slowly his hands turned into wings, his mouth into a beak, he looked like some unholy demon until he turned into a raven. His wings flapped and swooshed in an attempt to escape but the hag grabbed his legs and tied them together with crimson ribbon:
-Should’ve listened to you mother, now isn’t that right?
He cried out and yelled but all that was coming out was a horrible squeal. The old witch entered the cave and jumped down into a hole. She finally fell down, and the crow could just stare at what lay before him. Demons, monsters, and creatures he heard about only in stories. The entire underground looked similar to his village, with a market, houses and a grand castle which looked like it was somehow connected to the walls. As the woman arranged her stand, putting out for sale different animals which were once humans, he bit the ribbon off and flew away as fast as he could, ignoring the swearing and curses the old witch was yelling at him. Flying was even more exhausting than he thought so the young crow settled on top of a house before sleep got the best of him:
-My dear son, I thought you knew better, you really want me to worry forever? To keep me awake at night? Why didn’t you listen?
The boy could never talk in his dreams but now that turned impossible in real life too.
-My son, listen to me and this time do as I say. Go and search for the Black Widow’s grave, watch out for strangers and trust no one!
Said and done, the crow woke up exhausted, maybe even more exhausted than he was before. He was thin and could barely fly but he knew that this wasn’t the end. This could not be his end, this was his story and he would die whenever he wanted to. The crow batted his wings and soared through a dark forest, looking up at the ceiling he saw the dark branches of bare trees. Tangled together, they looked like hands that were clawing the stone to get out but ended up dying here, without ever being heard, without ever being seen. The somber and serene forest hid a clearing, small and hidden. He did not know why or how but he knew that this, this here was the place he was looking for. In the middle of the clearing stood, forgotten by the world, a gravestone, lit by only one torch which provided enough light to be able to read the words written on the polished rock. A name he knew, a name he thought he knew, a name he never heard before; “Widow Jewdem” he read:
-You are back. A low whisper was heard and he turned his head but his glistening dark orbs could not see anyone
-You are finally back…Ian.
In that moment the crow squealed loudly as his feather fell off one by one, along with his wings and his beak, turning back to a human being, he yelled in agony, his voice echoing off the walls:
-W-who…are you? Wh-what do you want from me? Why are y-you haunting my dreams?
-You don’t remember me…Ian?
-I am NOT Ian…My name is…it’s…
-Ian. Maybe you will recognize me in the form you met me.
The boy could not stand up, sickness and nausea making his head spin, he kneeled, trying to keep his eyes open and right then, before him stood the demon. The same creature from his nightmares started melting and in mere seconds it turned into a pale woman, with dark black hair and cold icy blue eyes, he was mesmerized, the woman had an aura around her, covering her body making her look like she had been dressed in black satin, her teeth were sharp and inhumane but to him, she was enchanting.
-Don’t you remember? Please…
-Ian died…he was killed by a demon who spit fire…
She caressed his cheek lovingly and kissed him, his face started heating up:
-That is a lie…you don’t remember, do you? A tear fell onto the ground as she clenched her teeth, it made him hurt so much yet he did not know why:
-You didn’t die from that. No demon ate you, your pride did and your morals. I will tell you the story, so just listen.
She got behind him, playing with his locks that covered his face, slowly lulling him to sleep.
-After you battled with me for days and nights, you finally injured me so badly that I had to turn into this human like form. You wanted to kill me but I ran. I ran back Underground but that didn’t stop you. You jumped right after me and I dragged you into hell. I demanded you to stop killing, to listen to what I was saying but you were stubborn. You swung your sword carelessly and hurt yourself so badly that I had to take care of you. You called me names and told me that you didn’t need help from a beast like me, but I did not listen for I was stubborn myself. I knew you would understand if I told you my story. One night as I was cleaning up your wounds I started telling you how your king’s knights visited “hell” as you called it and murdered all of the children here, the queen soon committed suicide and the king fell into despair. Another night I told you about the time the knights came here and stole all of our supplies and yet, we still didn’t start a war between us. The night we fought and I killed your comrades I became desperate and filled with rage, as they came down and killed my husband and my only daughter. You told me that I was a liar and that humans never did such a thing, but deep inside you knew I was telling the truth. I helped you get back your strength and I expected you to kill me, or just simply leave but…you didn’t. You stayed here for another year and, silly as it was, I found myself catching feelings for you, I loved you so so much and you loved me back, Ian. I knew you did. I could sense it. On day though, we left the Underground, just you and I. We went to your home. Everybody stared at us, at me rather. I still remember how you squeezed my hand and told me that it was alright. You brought me into your house and told me about your life, your mother and even Rena. I slept so soundly that night, next to you, hoping that everything will be alright and hoping that there will be no more disputes. But…I was wrong. Tears fell freely on his face by now, Widow’s tears. I got woken up in the middle of the night by strangers, they tied me and asked me what did I do to you, what kind of witchery did I use, and I begged them to leave you alone, to leave me alone. But they didn’t listen, they stripped me of my clothes and tied me to a post. I cried and yelled for you and then, in the crowd I saw you. You stood next to the king and I shouted your name and felt relief but you just stared at me and did absolutely nothing. Her words held a certain bitterness but she carried on. I…heard the king say “Burn the witch” the crowd chanted on and on and I started to feel my heart beat faster as the noise drowned out everything else. My mind went foggy and I tried looking at your face to see emotion, pain, something, anything! But there was none…Anger filled me and I swore I will come back and I cursed you to do the same. I cursed your soul to become immortal but it seems that you have forgotten quite a lot. Sorrow filled me as my vision turned dark and my body got burned. That same night I followed you home and saw you cry out my name in your sleep, I saw you try fight with your sins and with what you thought was wrong but in the end it got the best of you. You killed yourself Ian, and I waited’ waited for your new body, your new form to appear and here you are. Sadly, we have to part again, even though we just met again, but I can wait.
Widow laid a last chaste kiss upon Ian’s forehead as his soul left his body for the second time.