Vixxie writes a Halloween story

(All images in this story are self-made and edited screenshots from the game Black Desert Online) 

There lives a tale in the faraway lands of O’dylitta.

It is told, for many generations, that a ghost roams the eerie heart of Thornwood. One believes she strays only at night. Completely and hopelessly lost in the endless recesses of the labyrinth of the dark forest. And it is told, that if you listen carefully at dusk, when the moon casts long shadows over the silent woods, you can hear her cries.

It is indeed a sad tale. It’s my tale.

Of my name and the abode of my soul little is known, for it is of the living world only. A world I not longer dream in. Yet, I’m foretold to be resentful. Many brave souls set out to quelch my relentless weeping, but one by one fell pray to the monstrous appetite of the forest. I, however, insist on wearing my sorrow soberly and gracefully.

They call me The Queen of Hearts. Much like my former person, a highly respectable sound.
But I have long forgotten my real name and it is of little count indeed.

I do not remember what tragic fate befell me. For time has paid me no mind.
Days turned weeks, turned months to years and hundreds of decades have come and gone since my passing. Round and round the sun, the moon and planets spun. I would sleep. I would wake and I would dwell. How much time passed me by, is quite impossible to reason. I have lost count a long time ago. Sleeping. Waking. Dwelling.

In the beginning of this perdition, there waited for me a reward in the faith that one day, the path of light would lie wide open before me. One day the locks would see their keys and one day… I would finally be set free. So day after day, night after night, I waited. And waited. And waited with all the ache in my tired, lonely heart. I waited. I slept. I woke. I dwelled.

With sleep, also came oblivion. An ailment almost as frightful as the disease itself. All things fade. Flesh, stone, everything. Time eats away and erodes all things living, for that is the way of the world. I slept and I forgot. Having forgotten, I woke and dwelled some more. My memories faded and so did my spirit because in the end, everything yields to time.

And so for many centuries I have roamed where barren twilight reigns. I toiled amongst bitterness and despair. I slept in crypts with screeching windows that opened not to blossoming groves but on to dim cemeteries. I slept, I woke, I dwelled. I no longer glimpsed beyond the waking world and the endless dusk skies. I simply… forgot.

My name? Forgotten. My story? Forgotten.

.

Until the blood moon rose. The day that shook the hourglass of time and changed everything.

There was something mystical that filled the air on this foggy evening. A tingle, a sparkle of magic. Arid grasslands lit up with warm streams of scarlet midnight glittering as the moon rose that night. Not the usual silver sliver of light but a crimson hue filled with red desert dust and pungent perfumes from beyond the dark thickets of the woods.

I don’t know if perhaps it was the hour. Or perhaps the fact that everything in this world has that point beyond which it can bear no more. But with the rising of the blood moon also came an echo growing louder, deafening me in the cacophony of all my other thoughts. I let it numb me, soothe me. And while frozen, I did not have to think nor see or admit that my existence was but a construct, a lie preferred to the truth of tragedy. I closed my eyes as I strongly felt pulled towards some other place, some realm beyond. There was no need for pointless struggle. Silent infinity spiralled around me, pulled me down with great force and wafted me away into unconsciousness.

When I woke, the torch resting on my crypt vault had long expired. As I laid there, I pondered upon the exact circumstances of my being. Stroking my curly hair, I could feel the warmth of life radiate from my living flesh. Breathing heavily from my parted lips. Full lips, red with blood. Exhausted, I crawled out of the broken tomb from which I had risen.  

Shadow clouds caressed the radiant moon as I hid from its sight. Was she the one to keep accountable for all of this? I shuddered for I had not felt the chill of a fresh breeze caressing my skin for a very, very long time. And abandoned in the shadows, I crumbled down.. an nameless exile, different from anyone you can imagine. Torn robes, as if I had been whisked away from a wedding that came abruptly to its timely end. A gaunt silhouette with eyes of nomadic sorrow. The appalling thought which had been steadily building up in my confused mind now came to its dreadful conclusion. I was alive once again. Having forgotten everything and everyone, my memory left completely blank, nowhere could I detect any item capable of guiding me on my purpose as it was once before. And so I did, the only thing I could remember ever having done. I walked. I slept. I dwelled. 

Seized by restlessness new to my heart, I kept walking. I was no longer concealed to the prisons of Thornwood.  My shackles had been broken in this world but also did all hope depart, of that I was sure. I could feel it, hear it and I could smell it too. Moments seemed to stretch into timelessness. Moonlight was peeking from in between the willow trees whose leaves swept the ground with a dispirited air.

Just before the second day of my living death came to an end, the rain began crashing down. The wind of the North shrieked and cursed in a harsh, unholy sound that chilled me to the bone. Broken structures of bones and skulls leaned wearily against one other and wailed like banshees as the wind ripped through them. Through their howling, I heard a voice. It beckoned me. “Come to me, beloved. Rest within my arms. No harm shall come to you. I await you patiently, for I am always within your reach.” It startled me. A familiar voice. So soft and tender, so full of hope that the waking nightmare would eventually abate. The hope that I could simply slip into the womb of the clouds and nestle myself to the bosom of my loved one. 

My heart was now pulsing with a maddeningly loving beat. The blood rose in my face, and passion flared again in my dormant heart. With every step I took, I remembered. And with eyes wide shut, I saw her so clearly for the mind’s memory was keener than that which the eyes might see. Her hair fell like a dark waterfall onto her shoulders. She had eyes as blue as the azure skies that made you think of lakes in sacred groves. Always carrying a faint smell of Delotia roses, her smile could fill up entire rooms with light and joy. Her intelligence and ardour as intriguingly beautiful as her lean figure. I kneeled down in the calm of this desolation and rekindled the flame of our love, how it grew like flowers in rich soil and bloomed in ways inconceivable to those that never felt it. She was a pleasing existence that contained all the tranquillity that your soul could ever need. I smiled.

The haunted vermillion skies suddenly swelled down and crushed my peaceful thoughts. My betrothed was dead. And I was not. Staring at the desolate lands before me, the remembering itself was injury anew. And the absolute abandonment tore my bleeding heart to a million of pieces. I would have lost myself to loneliness and rage again, if not for the soft illusory chanting of my dearest. Now just a vague thought. Just a feeling. But even just the faintest hint of her presence lit a way along the darkness of this journey I was on.  Each step a careful balance between the desire to return to oblivion and bringing me closer to the place I once loved. Each heartbeat a drum, a calling to arms that revealed her presence. And in the fragile symmetry between peaceful acceptance and eternal torment, I walked. 

By the time my journey reached its fifth dawning, I was so crippled by the unwieldy burdens I was struggling with that my reflections no longer showed any degree of coherency. The hems of my silken garments tattered, the flesh of my legs scraped and bloody. No protection for the tender skin on my soles from the vines at the entrance gates of the Crypts of the Resting Thoughts.  The whole sky had turned to dull, rusted burgundy and carried the scent of Death’s war below upon its back. Some sort of suspense, almost tangible in the putrid air, always surrounded these crypts, I remembered. Even during my first time roaming the earth. “Some things truly never change”, I scoffed quietly. Lights from the capital city located on the peak of the hill above blinked as I turned my gaze to the depths below. In the dark night I smiled, my instincts turning me towards my macabre purpose now. 

I had the utmost sympathy for the dead under these tombstones. Even though they had laid down their anguish long ago, I could feel their existence seeping through the veil of the afterlife. I did not really want to perturb their eternal rest, for it was not my greed nor any theatrical ambition that wanted to shatter the holy calm of these deceased. It was my loneliness. Here, deep inside these vaults, I felt divinely united to the presence of my lost love. And so I used the sacred gift bestowed upon me: magic. It seemed to have carried with me through rebirth. I brought back the spirits of the fallen, one by one, searching for the soul of my life’s companion. Relentlessly. Frantically. Desperately too, and yet it was to no avail. 

I shrieked loudly in agony when a dagger-like object sank into my flesh and pierced my shoulder. Not only did my attempt to be reconciled with my heart’s desire seem to be in vain, the crypts were now also infested with gargoyles shooting down sharply and screaming in blood fury. My desperation seemed to have disturbed their rest as well. It was an amazing sight, seeing these stone-like dark glimmers draw towards me. They were beautiful as raptor birds but as such also very deadly. Those claws, gleaming darkly in the dim candle light, could easily shred me to scraps. I blinked away and escaped into the safety of the darkness, leaving the gargoyles and the risen to their own fates. 

Was she then truly never again to accompany me on the ballads of my silence? Such a revolting thought. My eyes filled red with bleeding tears, and the cold sensation of being eternally cursed crept up my spine. I had wandered beyond the farthest limits of any ordinary search. If I must live in abandon bereaved from all warmth, I reflected, I would undoubtedly find more solace in my demise. This conception carried with it much more repose than melancholy. And so I walked. I dwelled. And I faded in my tragic yearning, more and more with every step into the direction of the Forgotten Mountain and its shores where steep cliffs greet the perennial sea.

Having nearly reached my final destination, my straining vision scoured the landscape intensively one last time. A goodbye of sorts.  As if it had been sequested with the sole purpose of serving as a last resort for the truly lost, a small and humble brick abode rose on the horizon like a mirage, languishing in thankless gloom. Windows boarded up on every side of the building and thorny vines were creeping up like a withered hand.

That’s when I saw her. At first I thought  it was a girl, but then I saw my betrothed, pale as a late winter’s moon but still stunningly beautiful, looking at me from behind the crackled window. Her frosty eyes, reflecting mechanically in their coldness, remained expressionless as she smiled at me. Death did most definitely not become my dearest. And then her glimpse vanished. I approached the old structure surrounded by gently burning candles and the overwhelming, pungent scent and memory of delotia roses delighted my nose as I entered.  I slipped down into a pitch dark room and as I walked forward I could feel cobwebs brushing my face. I shuddered. 

I was enveloped by the total and almost palpable blackness when I felt her wrap her arms around me. They felt like stone, emanating a coldness running deeper than any void but when she finally kissed me, the night seemed to melt away into an eternity of heatless passion.  “Free me”. The sound of her broken voice shattered my bewitching illusion and my eyes flew open. Her fair face was gone. Instead an abhorrent, wicked figure smiled at me from a distorted mirror’s reflection. It scared the unholy hells out of me. With eyes protruding, it stared at me with this strange emptiness. The air around me had now become thick and heavy like a murky, frigid fog and the oppressive evil made it impossible for me to breathe. Renewed desperation was birthed as I scrabbled idly around me, trying to find any sharp object that could splinter the horrific apparition. But try as I might, I could not regain my precious breath. I rejected my imminent ending with every ounce of my considerable will but eventually, the room started to shrink into hollow cylinders of anxiety. 

Just as I felt myself slipped away into comforting velvet nothingness, a blinding ray of scarlet moonlight pierced through the night clouds into the broken window and shattered the mirror with a needle-like shrillness.

I fell down, everything around me faded fast. My very self was warped in a paralyzing,  all-consuming hallucination of the past. 

Daylight warmth creeps across my skin. They air around me is afire with golden hues of sun and life, and the flower court is of a truly unfathomable beauty today. Rose bushes and marble statues are decorated with hundreds of festive hanging lights all around. Chairs are wrapped in purple cloth with golden bows tied in the back and tables decorated with the most lush centrepieces in O’draxxia. The afternoon is filled with a faint scent of trees and flowers, as if summer always lingers in the city gardens, even though winter will soon be upon us now. Today is indeed an exceptional day. One might say, the most extraordinary day any person will live in the entirety of their existence. 

I hear the faint shouts of children playing on the sun soaked piazza’s below, watch an enamoured couple walking hand in hand and a few old timers sitting on a bench talking about the good ol’ days. The good old days, I muse about, have long been gone indeed. This kingdom, bustling full of life is the only one left after apocalypse-war stripped the earth of her mantle of beauty. Now only my city, my birth right, stands strong. Lonely but imposingly glorious. In this capital covered head to toe in secrets both ancient and new, the wedding of the two Queens of Hearts is a joyful and significant celebration and victory of peace over persistent conflict. From the magic swirling at my witches’ fingertips, to my beloved’s mystical skill in the ten-thousand-year-old martial arts of war; evil does not dare dwelling within my city walls. 

But those were the rosy times. Nothing holds and all things change given time. Change does not announce itself, it does not trumpet its arrival. And by the time one realizes it has arrived, it has already set its teeth…

She walks nearer and nearer to me, my bride. Her flowing hazel, almost amber-coloured hair moves down her back in the soft breeze. Her long black  gown billows softly as well, outlining her figure. I outstretch my arms to her, eager to hold her, to smell her, to taste and touch her. Her lovely face flushed in rapture, she smiles. Ah, that royal smile that always entices me to kiss her. And so I do, passionately, closing my eyes and giving myself freely to my feelings when the high-priest quietly shushes us to business. After all, there is a wedding to be held.

As soft music, very pleasant to the ears, begins to play and perturbs my loving thoughts, so does a crisp chill running up my spine. I shiver. Excitement, undoubtedly, I assume. Now turning my head towards my bride, just like a hasty cheeky peek stolen in time, a shadow wraith appears in my peripheral. His black flowing cloak gives off an eerie reddish sheen as though by enchantment. I immediately teleport ten feet away and start channelling the powers of the elements to cast a protective barrier over my loved ones, but the black ghostlike shade vanishes as quickly as it had appeared. 

The body of my beloved falls rapidly and soundlessly to the cobblestoned floor, her knees clashing harshly with the hard ground beneath her. She cries out in agony, boiling hot tears of grief and ire piling over her eyelids. “Not today, not like this” she pleads silently. But she is helpless, and yearning for salvation she stretches our her maiden hand towards me. I  attempt to shield her and yank her away into the safety of my arms, but it feels like a bad dream, where evil approaches and all one can do is crawl in slow motion.  

Pain bursts within her chest as her breath is brutally stolen from her. Her lids slip closed, sending her into the cold embrace of the hereafter. And as her mortal soul detaches from her lifeless body, the queen of darkness herself appears as from a puff of black smoke, slowly growing until she takes on definition enough to have a discernible form. Once she does, she is suddenly falling right at me and strikes me down. Words of timeworn hatred mumble through her clenched gritted teeth. I am shackled, incapable of using my own magic or my healing, knocked down and powerless. There is no spell I can cast, nor anything I can do to prevent my life being taken from me by the claws of this hissing, serpentinous apparition. My blood is soaked up by the century-old soil, the wet sediment collecting underneath my fingernails as I repeatedly clench and unclench the cobbles with a griping hand. In my last blink of an eye, I see the ancient evil absorbing the spirit of my spouse and she then fades again into thin air. 

Night did not fall that fateful evening.

Grimacing, I arched my back. I did not recollect ever having felt true pain like this before. The anguish of this reminiscence was unbearable. Once I started regaining full conscience in the grim present, I finally knew why the blood moon pitied my restless soul for my thirst for both blood and revenge was to be quenched, but not in the manner of a beast. No. This ancient malice was to be abolished for once and for good.

I rose from my crouching position slowly, my body aching acutely with every movement but as I finally stood outside on the soft dirt, the crimson moon shone brighter than I had ever seen her radiate before. I lifted one hand and traced the sculpted edges of plumes curving forward from my back. Feathers, I pondered, were they not uniquely entrusted to the purest of seraphs? My wings slowly expanded until they blotted out the twinkling stars in the night sky.  They were massive. 

My eyes, as keen as an eagle’s, were burning with holy purpose as I continued my climb to the top of the dark ridge. The barest hint of the lush meadow but a flicker between the pines, a splash of red colour in the achromatic plains. Yet still forward, ever forward, I walked. Not far, for I was nearly there. 

I made no motion, but stood rigidly still, horrified yet determined, fixated upon the evil ahead. Then with a scintillant flare of light, I teleported straight up against her, bypassing every defence line she had so carefully set up. Her acid mauve eyes of welling pools of contempt narrowed upon realizing that she was no longer a match to the angelic divinity that was rushing through my veins. Her cloak arced around me, many vicious spines curving from its terminus ready to plunge into my body. Her claws curved inwards in such a way as to prevent their clean removal. Whatever she caught would not be released in one piece. 

Both our eyes widened as the first drops of blood were spilled, culling us from reality. And when the blades of her claws sank into my flesh, neatly parting the tissue before them, I felt nothing but the seething desire for vengeance. Every nerve pierced and shredded with exquisite precision, yet I remained standing, conjuring from my hands two magic spheres of crackling electricity. Each of them filled with the celestial power of an entire godly pantheon. They pierced right through her chest. She shrieked in a wild frenzy and crashed down to the dirt.

Her black blood began to pool around her in an ever-widening circle, flowing freely from her growing wound. In that one moment of clarity, I pitied her. There were no shackles that bound her to jealousy and cruelty. That was solely her own doing.

I stared at her, gargling weakly, her eyes dilated in fear. Her lips moved, attempting to speak, her tongue writhing in her mouth but merely a sigh came from her parting lips. She pointed at the mysterious locket, a jewel chained loosely around her head. She was dying much faster than I had expected.

I pulled up the ancient locket from her severed corpse, very gently lifting the lid from its golden orifice. Pretty and antique, with the colour of fading carmine, as if it had swallowed up the red moonlight itself. Dozens and dozens of bottled up spirits released from the ornament and lit up the night sky like fireflies brightening up my presence in the darkness. But the spirit of my long lost love glowed more brightly than any other and filled the void in my heart with delight. 

Not a breath of wind came over the lonely plains beyond, and all the world seemed at peace. My severely injured body now faded fast. The tears stopped rolling from my pale cheeks. The searing ache that I hoped would be quenched by those tears that I shed but never did, also ceased. And so did gravity. My own invented gravity that kept me, and my trapped love, in this living death vanished. And as we rose in a tight embrace, I saw the wretched and the decay, the horrors within my own heart dissolving. We were finally free.

The crying ghost of Thornwood has now long been silent. But it is told, that if you listen carefully at dusk, when the moon casts long shadows over the silent woods, you can hear two soft whispers repeating the words “I do”. 

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