Once upon a time, there lived a goddess who longed to walk and live among the very creatures that she watched over.
One day, she crashed to the earth to achieve this aspiration of hers, falling from such a great height to which she could never return to again. This was the price she had to pay in order to fulfill a desire that did not even last for long.
From afar, from the heavens where she used to reside, the golden hearts of humans never failed to catch her attention as they glowed like beacons of light in the dark. And like a fool drawn to gold, Agnessa found herself drawn to the goodness of mankind, to something that had no guarantee of lasting. Once she was up close, with her feet on solid ground, face to face with humans, the darkness that lurked in the hearts of humans became more visible to her. She was unsurprised when she began to witness vile and wicked acts of mankind during the first year of her life on earth. After all, didn’t the brightest flames cast the darkest shadows?
And just like that, Agnessa grew disenchanted with the idea of living among mankind.
She let herself fade to the background as the years went by. Stories of her fall were put to rest when the generation that witnessed her fall were laid beneath the ground. Soon, Agnessa ceased to exist and was replaced by a shadow of herself. As she lost faith in humanity, humanity also lost faith in her and the rest of the gods. The temple they built to honor the divinity soon crumbled to dust and dirt until all that was left was the stretch of land, the clearing where Agnessa had fallen into many decades ago.
It was there, when the last of the gods’ temple had finally crumbled, that Agnessa built her new home.
* * *
On the day that Ramsey married the love of her life, Javier made a promise to her that she would not shed a tear for as long as they were husband and wife.
But that promise was broken on the night Ramsey gave birth to her first child, when the infant left her womb silent and still without an ounce of oxygen in its lungs. The tears that Ramsey shed that night were enough to create a new river in the forest that edged her village.
Javier’s promise was broken once more when their second child, a fragile babe with sallow skin and brittle bones, only lived for the duration of a week after its birth. That night, Ramsey was sure she could’ve started a storm if she wanted to.
With the death of her two children looming over Ramsey like a second shadow, her life’s canvas came to know the color of blue. Shades of it, a sea of blues that rose from the sorrows she received during the first two years of her marriage. Without the laughter of children to fill her home and her days, Ramsey lost the will to carry on, lost the path in her life as it grew clouded by her grief and suffering. She allowed herself to simply be taken away by the current of life as day went by and by that she locked herself up within the confines of her empty home.
Until one day, her feet drove her toward a destination that was not to be found within the walls of her hut. On one night, while Javier was away, Ramsey found herself leaving the safety of her home as she headed toward the edge of the woods.
On that night, a new moon watched over her as she found her feet walking upon a familiar path that she thought she had long forgotten. The scent of wildflowers grew stronger as she neared her destination, the grass growing taller with every inch that she grew farther away from her village. Above her, the gash across the dark heavens was at its most visible, a gaping slash that would forever serve as a reminder that some scars never did heal, even with the passage of time. But as Ramsey brought her eyes up to night sky just as she stood ten feet away from the witch’s doorstep, she knew deep in her heart that some scars did heal over time.
In all her twenty years of living, Ramsey never saw the witch and never made a wish. Tonight, she decided that she would finally change that.
But first, she needed to find some white lilies, red peonies, and blue delphiniums.
* * *
The day the water of the river in the forest ran as dark as blood was the same day Emile decided to go fishing with his son and daughter.
As he and Giles stood knee-deep in the waters by the riverbank, his daughter, Fleur, opted to stay near the small patch of white lilies that grew on another part of the riverbank, the idea of placing her feet underwater only to step in mud greatly appalling her. Fleur merely watched as her father and brother labored to catch some fish with their spears.
“I heard a serpent lives in these waters,” she remarked after an hour had passed and they had managed to catch only three fishes.
Emile gave a grumble as his eye caught the slither of another fish not far from where he stood. “Do you mean an eel?”
Fleur heaved a sigh. “No, a serpent.”
A chuckle rolled off Giles’ tongue upon hearing his sister’s reply. “Really, Fleur. You ought to forget the tales that Mother put in your head.”
Fleur kept silent after that. She watched with little interest as Emile threw his arm back before hurling it toward something that she could not determine from her spot. She knew the spear in his hand met its target when he let out a triumphant holler at his newest catch and even Fleur was unable to stop the smile that tugged at the corners of her lips.
But then the river’s water began to change its color. From the spot where Emile’s spear now protruded from, dark liquid swelled up before it began to spread and taint the river. Murky water turned to jet-black ink as Giles rushed away from the riverbank in a panic, his mind unable to fathom what was happening. Fleur could only stare in horror while Emile plucked out his spear from its spot and scooped up his catch.
“Father … What is that?” Fleur pleaded, her voice trembling as she spoke.
To be continued…