Chapter 0:

Prologue

Exuberance


A singular flake settled amidst the sea of snow, joining its brethren in an unbridled desolation. The lifeless expanse stretched as far as the eye could see, its very existence reminiscent of death. And yet, a single hand grasped the frigid ground, clawing its way through the ice. Pale flesh, white as the snow it feebly clutched came into view. Its tendons quivered in pain, pulsating with every twitch. Not even the paralyzing cold was able to conceal the agony as another shattered limb took its place. The struggle continued as a frail figure took form. Half buried in the ice, the unusual appearance was almost invisible. Long hair, as white as the all-consuming winter revealed the shape of a girl. How she existed in such a place was a mystery. And how she continued to live was a miracle. Or not a miracle at all, for this was simply a way of life for the wretched being. Several limbs cracked and shifted with agony as the creature rose. A pair of glaring red eyes, bright enough to create the slightest glimmer revealed all that was to be known of the pale ghost, who stared at the horizon with unyielding malice.Bookmark here

The length of her white hair and structure of her face suggested she be a princess, or a beautiful goddess from a heavenly place. But that was as far from the truth as one could be. She was no royalty, from heaven nor from hell. She was nothing, and belonged nowhere. Her attire of black rags and shuffled cloth remained a constant symbol of her impurity. But as was said, no fear could be seen in her eyes. The pale body remained still, not trembling in pain as one would expect. And despite her vibrant stare, her skin was entirely white, lacking all warmth and color of life. Such a description had more bearing than it should. For she shared little in common with a living being.Bookmark here

Out of all the descriptions one could give the pale runt, dead was of the most importance. For now she stood on sacred ground. It's cold reaches and bottomless pits promised eternal slumber, a true paradise for those who could not be so easily disposed of.Bookmark here

Her twisted mind came to when a deprecated cemetery appeared over the horizon. The necropolis was miserable in appearance, and intolerable for all forms of sight. But the girl cared little for its appearance, choosing to focus on the only reason she remained alive. And that fateful motivation would no doubt make itself clear to all who were unfortunate enough to cross paths with the white-skinned demon.Bookmark here

It wasn't long before dozens of hollowed eyes gazed upon her frail form, their attention no doubt directed towards her pitiful quest. But no amount of judgement from the dead would prove to be proper determent. After all, the act of humiliation and defilement wasn't exactly anything new to her.
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Her lips began to shift, and a deep yet beautiful voice escaped her mouth. "Salem...why have they not written my name? Have I yet to earn my damnation?"Bookmark here

The sense of abandonment led the witch to claw at the soft ground with all her feeble might. She would have made great progress, granted the limits of time meant nothing to her. But failure had been met once again after she encountered a rotten face. A slain woman, long buried beneath the ice, would have appeared to have stolen the witch's coveted ditch.Bookmark here

"Move." The girl growled.Bookmark here

The dead had nothing to say, and ignored the pale girl's request. The impatient little thing would expect no such excuse, and began to forcefully remove the intruder. She would tear the body apart limb by limb until the grave had finally been attained. But a witch would rarely escape justice. And even the dead held their standards high among the wicked.Bookmark here

"Why must it always be me!" Salem screamed, as the fog began to clear.Bookmark here

The mist hid many things about the girl. Her body was bloody and bruised, having several gashes and wounds visible all throughout. Her appearance was truly that a corpse plucked from the grave. A victim who had been violently murdered, only to come back to life and haunt the living. The expression remained blank as if she was trapped in deep thought, and much of her surroundings had gone unnoticed.Bookmark here

Salem was not the only secret to be unraveled. Before her lay an equally miserable settlement, likely the grave's point of origin. Assuming that humans lay within, the girl entered a state of blind rage. She nearly forgot why she had despised the creatures, but was swiftly bestowed remembrance.Bookmark here

"Humans." Salem hissed.Bookmark here

Rest would have to wait for the wicked. There was no possible way she would leave the world without another vengeful act. Though retribution was not alone in guiding the girl. In truth, she intended to seek that very thing upon creating sworn enemies.Bookmark here

Salem was no fool when it came to the hunt. She was efficient, and had already identified her prey. A mother sat within the nearest hut, and ignorantly tended to her newborn child. It was the perfect little canvas for the girl. And she would no doubt paint it with blood. Though to be fair, she had no intention of slaying the child. Not even Salem could judge a being of such innocence. Perhaps the trauma would prove useful in its upbringing.Bookmark here

"Don't lie to yourself." She groaned.Bookmark here

The malicious instinct was quick to identify the one and only weapon in the room. A crude metal pick lay upon the wooden counter only a few inches away from the white ghost. Without pause or remorse, she was poised for an attack. There was no ignorance to be pleaded that day. She was fully aware of what she was about to do. The petrified victim could only stare and wonder what kind of divine punishment this could have been. A wild smirk appeared upon the white girl's face only moments before she mercilessly struck her victim with all her might. The mother slumped to the floor in a bloody mess, leaving her baby to tumble to the ground. Salem was quick to tend to the innocent, and even made sure to keep the child from the cold. She wished to exert her wrath upon the fallen corpse, but felt herself pulled into the maternal role. It was quite ironic for Salem to find herself replacing the very thing she despised.Bookmark here

Eventually, her damming plan had unfolded, and the vengeful inhabitants began to enact their justice. She would have the child taken from her arms and a wooden stake thrust into her heart. And upon realizing they could not slay the beast, the humans would finally allow Salem to rest.Bookmark here

"Truly, this is what we deserve?"Bookmark here

"We took the lives of innocence."Bookmark here

"This is justice is it not?"Bookmark here

The crazed thoughts carried on as she was pulled by the neck to whatever fate awaited her.Bookmark here

"They call me Salem." She recalled. "Witch of the full moon, scourge of the devil. An insult to be sure, they had never given me a chance to even explain why I appear the way I do. But how can I curse them, I live up to their little legend."Bookmark here

Opening her eyes once more revealed a pleasing sight. Salem would be cast into the void, and be forsaken. Whether or not she would be slain by the fall was irrelevant. An honest smile came upon her face as she fell into the abyss.Bookmark here

For a moment the pale witch felt nothing. Was it possible for her to feel peace. Not quite, as a loud snap broke the silence. For the first time, noise escaped her sealed lips as she gasped for air. Instead of a breath, a painful wince was cut short by a scraggly moan. Her neck was broken alongside everything else. But in a show of what could only be described as unholy, the girl began putting herself back together. First the elbows snapped into place, then the arms. She grabbed her head and snapped it to the far left. Reforming the beautiful shape piece by piece.Bookmark here

Somehow the absurd amount of pain she felt deserved not even a wince. But that wasn't to say her situation wasn't at all perilous. Her legs were far past the point of repair as their remains coated her broken flesh. An indescribable mesh seethed forth from the large fractures. For as one would have guessed by now, Salem was no normal witch. She was artificial. A hidden mockery of the real thing. Built by someone or something to imitate a real girl. This false identity had made her practically immortal by human standards. And there was little to prevent her revival. Over the course of many long years, she had become quite skilled in this regard. But alas, she would need more materials if she were to ever walk again.Bookmark here

This didn't stop the witch from appearing content. Something about her predicament was relieving. Here in this black abyss, it was quiet. Only the vague memory of her horrific existence would remain in the minds of those she hurt. And now, she could no longer bring pain to those who never deserved it.Bookmark here

Within the abyss lay a cesspool of guts and limbs, forsaken in their untended grave. To the witch, there was no better place. And for an uncountable amount of time her paradise remained untarnished. For this is where she belonged, never to be thought of again. But it was not long before an indescribable feeling soured her bliss. For not even her madness could thwart the crippling sense of loneliness. In her isolation she stewed with this misery, all while becoming increasingly perturbed.Bookmark here

In but a few grueling moments, the witch then began to sob, clawing at her eyes with vicious intent. She had every right to deny the unfamiliar emotion. The monster only ever witnessed tears from an exterior perspective, usually amidst her victims. Yet now she was the one who was mortally injured. Thoughts of denial and endless questioning consumed her feeble mind. The mixture of hatred and wallowing reached its climax as the witch moved for the first time in months. Now she knelt, with some dignity in mind. She scattered her gaze and began to think. If her own heart was akin to the void, what could be done? She would need someone, or something, to comprehend her misery. But the ghost could never hope to envision a true blessing. Who in this world would ever descend the accursed pit on her behalf?Bookmark here

In a sudden moment of defiance, she began to envision her salvation. Only a true partner would endure her evil. But how was this to be done? The exact process of creation was far from known to her. She would attempt to recall every moment in which she had slaughtered families old and young. The true meaning of what connection even was, had been till this day, a grand mystery.Bookmark here

Yet another idea assumed form, this one more foreign to her. For despite being cruel at heart, she was capable of female emotions, and maternal instincts. Though of course Salem could never bear children. Her infertility would have to be ignored, and life a fabrication. Yet still she felt hope within the dark. And in an act of insanity and desperation, she began work on the artificial figure. An unholy child born from malice.Bookmark here

Of course this task was completely absurd by all standards. Yet somehow, she had the potent feeling that what she intended to do was quite possible. The dark voice within her mind began to provide all the knowledge necessary for an artificial birth. And due to either luck or fate, her prison had everything one would need to complete such a task. Apparently, the pit was used by the villagers to dump excess materials and parts with surprising amounts of sophistication. It was as if a malevolent race of gods had gifted humanity with the greatest of their creations, only for them to be tossed aside as worthless garbage. Their structure was arguably as complex as Salem, with one notable difference. While she was designed to resemble a beautiful female, these fractured bodies appeared entirely fit for the art of war. There were claws, blades, and black metal alloys meant to fight, kill, and survive the process. Salem viewed these descriptions as a beauty far greater than herself.Bookmark here

It now seemed like the mad ghost stood a chance. But what of her child? Would it be beautiful, handsome, charming and calming? No, no it would not. For Salem had an entirely different definition of beauty. It would be fearsome, tall, strong, and stoic. It would strike fear into the hearts of her enemies, and obey her every command. She was certain of its appearance once she began construction.Bookmark here

Utilizing the metal, she designed its joints to be sharp and rugged. Hands like claws, and nails like daggers. Feet meant to support great weight, and legs destined to be unyielding. Unlike her own body its exoskeleton would be exposed. No skin, no flesh, and certainly no warmth was to be found within the machine. But most importantly, its face was completely inhuman in design. While the rest of the body possessed two arms and legs, the head would be abstract. One singular eye had a crimson glow emanating from the lens. This crucial plate would be connected to the rest of the body through a black tubular neck, flexible enough to enable the robotic face to move up and down, and side to side. In other words, the head was a complex light. To allow the machine to display emotion, its eye would be surrounded by protruding plates. This enabled it to show expressions akin to a human.Bookmark here

While the overall design was not taboo in nature, the fact that Salem would identify the machine as her child was in fact very unusual. She had somehow found a way to transform a predetermined design belonging to a mystery, into something of her very own. And as she began to give it life, she felt a certain emotion pierce her heart. Anger, hatred, and spitefulness towards the debacle consumed her thoughts. Despite the fact that her natural talents had made everything quite simple, she felt enraged and irritated. These feelings would become the bedrock of both their souls. But as the end drew near, she asked a rather simple question. What shall it be named?Bookmark here

Salem was never given a name at birth. But this thing, this other monster that lay before her, deserved what she never had. The idea of bestowing such luxury on another being brought her much excitement. But what should it be called? One word came to Salem's mind at that moment. Anger, his name will be Anger. And thus, the first of Salem's children was born. For this was not a story of life and its faults. This was a tale of how inanimate machines could inherit their creator's natural evil. How such innocent children could be tarnished by evil. The absolute and total loss of innocence within it all.Bookmark here

Loss Of InnocenceBookmark here

Exuberance

Exuberance


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