Chapter 5:

The Witch In The Forest

Little Red Riding Witch

In the suffocating silence of the night, a lone figure dashed out of an extravagant manor stationed right at the center of a forest-side village. That manor belonged to Dario Starling, the best hunter the village had ever seen, and the suspicious assailant that escaped the manor was none other than his foster daughter, Lucy Starling.

The reason for her to run away was simple, but not one would imagine coming from a teenage girl like her: in a fit of rage, she had killed her own father.

Even Lucy herself didn’t know exactly how she did it. After a constant string of abuse throughout her childhood and adolescent years, she finally snapped. What happened afterwards was just a hazy mess in her memories, but there was only one thing that Lucy was certain about, and that was her bloodied hands when she saw her father’s corpse.

In her mind was only one thing: get away from this cursed village as fast as she could. Its inhabitants had already seen her in a negative light for reasons unknown to her before, so an accident of this magnitude would surely end her life if they managed to find her. And so, she chose to leave at once, discarding everything she had behind.

However, fate wasn’t so kind to the young girl. In the dead of night, a single flare was enough to ruin everything.

Lucy would never set fire to her own house. Not because she had any lingering attachment to the place she once called home, but because she simply didn’t have the time to think about it. And even if she did, setting her house on fire would surely give away her position, making it the worst way possible to delete the evidence of her crime.

Nonetheless, in just an instant, Lucy’s house blazed in the most spectacular fashion possible. A pillar of flame erupted from the center, rising higher than even the highest trees in the forest as if Dario himself had risen from the grave to make his daughter’s life miserable one last time.

Naturally, a fire of that caliber would attract any villager in question. And pairing that blazing show with Lucy’s suspicious figure would serve nothing less than a blatant conclusion.

Some of the villagers were sent into a panic as they desperately shouted for help and tried to put out the flames. Most others, however, ignored the fire completely and surrounded Lucy herself, each and every one of them armed with whatever they could find.

“Where do you think you’re going?” One of the adult males raised his rake towards the cowering girl.

“I… I was just trying to escape the fire…”

“And not once did you think of crying for help?” Another raised his voice. “Shouldn’t you be panicked beyond belief? And what happened to Dario?”

“He… he didn’t make it out…”

“And you did? Bullshit!”

“Yeah, that’s right! Bullshit!”

“Admit it! You were the one who set your house on fire! I bet you even killed Dario too, didn’t you?” The villagers soon turned into a trial for murder, and Lucy had nothing to defend herself.

And the scene only got worse when a scream of terror sounded just outside the fire.

“I…It’s a head! A severed head!” The owner of the voice cried out. “Dario is dead! He’s dead!”

“So you did kill your own father!” The villagers surrounding Lucy all screamed in rage. “I knew that you were no good the day he picked you up from the forest!”

“You’ve been bringing nothing but bad luck to us! You… you witch!”



“Die, witch! Die for your sins!”

“Die for your sins!”

Surrounded by the crowd, Lucy could do nothing but shed a stream of tears while having her hands cover her mouth to suppress her wailing. Little did she know, such actions would only serve as more fuel to the fire.

“Oh, God!” A villager pointed out in panic. “Look at her hands! Even with a knife, you can’t get bloody hands like that!”

“Did she rip out Dario’s head with her bare hands?”

“That’s not a witch anymore! That’s a monster!”


“Die, monster!”

“Rot in hell!”

The more the crowd pressured her, the more Lucy succumbed to her anxiety and fear. The poor girl curled up instinctively, completely frozen by the insults and projectiles thrown at her. However, even if she were to completely pass out, it wouldn’t stop the angry mob from doing whatever they want to torment her in every way possible. What Lucy needed was a miracle… or a hero.

And a hero did come in the most unsuspecting manner possible.

A long howl echoed through the air, silencing the villagers. And soon enough, a figure jumped in the middle of the circle of armed people, revealing itself to be none other than the only kin Lucy had found in her short years of life.

“… Jack?” Lucy’s eyes widened with shock. “What are you doing here? This is a human village!”

“I suddenly saw a flare lighting up, and when I came to check thinking it was a chance at dinner, I saw you being attacked. Now hop on, we haven’t much time to lose! You can tell me everything later!”


With a quick answer, Lucy jumped on Jack’s back, and the wolf only needed another leap to break free from the crowd, leaving behind a string of angry curses. However, those sounds proved to be more persistent than the two escapees had thought, as the villagers soon gave chase to the unfortunate duo, raising torches and pitchforks high in the sky.

“What did you do for this to happen?” Asked Jack, bewildered by the severity of the situation. But he didn’t have to wait for an answer, for his keen nose had already detected a strange scent on the girl’s hands.

“Is that blood?”

“I killed my father by accident, alright? … Okay, I don’t even know how, but he’s dead and his blood is on my hands!” Lucy cried out her anger and regret.

“Well, no use regretting it! Just focus on escaping the villagers for now!”

“What do you have in mind, then?”


“You rushed in to save me without any plans?”

“How are you expecting me to think of a plan when I just spotted you a couple of minutes ago?”

“I can’t believe it!” Lucy exclaimed, racking her brain out for some sort of route that the two could take. She was never the type to know her way around places with the kind of upbringing she received, and in a life-or-death situation like this, her mind would only suffer a worse brain fog than usual.

There was only one place that Lucy could think of. But there was no chance that she would go to that place, not even when her life was at stake. And so, she did the opposite.

“This way!” Lucy quickly pointed to her left.

“Are you sure? There’s no road!”

“Yes, I’m sure!” She cried out. The lights from the torches behind her were already enough for Lucy to notice that detail. However, the path on the right led straight to her grandma’s house, and for Lucy, the only thing that was arguably more important than her own life was the life of the only human in the world that treated her with kindness.

Jack didn’t know the thoughts in Lucy’s head. However, for him, it was simple. It was only a brief moment, but Lucy treated him like who he was, not like how he looked. For Jack, she was the first person that he could consider a friend, and so, no matter how ridiculous her request might sound, he would always try his best to fulfill it.

The pair ran through the shrubberies, gritting their teeth as the thorny branches pricked their skin. Jack was all too familiar with the sensation, while Lucy had the blood already on her body to mask away the wounds. But the forest at night was a dangerous adversary on its own.

Poison ivy. Pitfalls from animals digging and traps set up by hunters during the day. Lucy couldn’t possibly see any of that, and Jack, with an extra person on his back, couldn’t avoid them as cleanly and swiftly as he normally would.

In the end, the inevitable arrived all the same. Weakened by the forest’s natural and manmade traps, Jack’s body was riddled with injuries. Lucy was more fortunate, with her wounds only going as far as dangerous rashes on her hands and face. And now, the two had had their strength completely drained, while the flickering torches from afar showed that the villagers still hadn’t let go of them just yet.

“What… now…” asked Lucy as she lay facing the night sky on Jack.

“I… don’t know…” her beastly partner was in no better shape. “Maybe… we keep running… and eventually… they’ll stop…”

“My, my,” before the two could think of anything, a voice from behind interrupted their tired conversation. As Jack immediately turned around and prepared himself for a fight, both he and Lucy were utterly speechless when the figure revealed themselves from the shadows.

“It seems like you’re in quite a pickle aren’t you, Sith dear?”

“… Nana? What are you doing here?” Lucy was elated, but only for a second, as joy was soon replaced by doubt as to why someone old and weak like her grandmother would appear in the woods all alone like this. Jack noticed the strange behavior as well, so the wolf never loosened his muscles.

Contrary to the kids’ worried looks, the grandma was still wearing a kind, gentle smile. “I’m out for a night walk. Gotta get this old body some exercises.”

“But…” she continued, gesturing towards the flickering flames that were ever-approaching. “It seems like we have some unpleasant company. Can’t you take care of it, Sith dear?”

“But I’m just a girl,” answered Lucy. “How could I take on those villagers?”

“A young girl…” the grandma rubbed her chin for a moment. “Ah, I get it. No wonder you didn’t react to your name like that… Well then, Sith dear, let Nana handle things from here.”

With a light pat on Lucy’s head, the grandma took a step forward. A sudden chill ensued, causing Lucy’s body to shiver. Gusts of wind circled around the old woman, and along with them, small, but visible, snowflakes formed. As if a miniature blizzard had engulfed the grandma’s body, her hands slowly turned blue from the cold, but at the same time, her skin also turned more supple and filled with life, while her grey hair had transformed into a beautiful auburn-like the autumn’s leaves.

When the snowstorm settled, the grandma was no more. In her stead was a woman looking only in her twenties, with a cool, bewitching beauty that could melt the heart of any man… and then freeze them in place with her icy stare.

The woman snapped her fingers. From afar, the torches died out, but not before the forest was filled with agonizing screams of death and rumbling sounds of an avalanche. Such a display of power left Lucy speechless, but little did she know, her partner was the more affected one.

It was a face that he remembered very clearly. A face he longed to see again, but at the same time, never wanted to see for another moment in his life.