Chapter 0:

Prologue

Exuberance


PrologueBookmark here

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 the same color as the snow 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. Bookmark here

The struggle continued as a frail figure took form, her long silver hair barely revealing her shape. How she existed in such a place was a mystery-and how she continued to live was a miracle. Perhaps it was 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 created the slightest glimmer, revealing 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 the structure of her face suggested she could 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 hell. She was nothing and belonged nowhere. Her attire of black rags and tattered cloth remained a constant symbol of her impurity. But as was said, no fear could be seen in her eyes. Despite this vibrant gaze. her skin was entirely white, lacking all the warmth and color of life. Such a description was in no way an exaggeration. for she shared little in common with a living being.Bookmark here

Ultimately this disheveled appearance came with a reason. For the girl hadn’t entirely wandered here by accident. The cold reach of ice promised eternal slumber, a true paradise for those who could not be so easily disposed of. She didn’t usually trust urban legends nor myth. But this place was her last hope at a final death.Bookmark here

Her twisted mind found clarity 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.Bookmark here

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. What lay before her was another victim long dead. Salem was too slow, and could almost imagine the face laughing at her predicament.Bookmark here

"Move." Salem growled, knowing full well her own imagination was directing the conflict.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 throughout. Salem’s appearance was truly that of 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. As the fog cleared a living settlement revealed itself to the frustrated girl. Salem nearly forgot why she had despised the creatures who lived within, but was swiftly bestowed remembrance. They were the same ignorant creatures that had destroyed her life so long ago. These crimes would never be forgotten as Salem could practically feel her burning grudge against them.Bookmark here

"Humans," She hissed. “Like I need a reason to despise you. Always fumbling about like fools, believing your evil to be justified. You won’t stop me now, not from this.”Bookmark here

Rest would have to wait for the wicked. There was no possible way she would leave the world without another vengeful act. However retribution was not alone in guiding the girl. She reckoned the human’s retaliation would aid her in her quest to die.Bookmark here

Salem was never a fool when it came to the hunt. She proved to be efficient with her prey already in view. A human female could be seen tending to her child within the nearest hut. And after placing her child in an unusually ornate crib, she left to speak with the other fascinated villagers. Whether or not these humans revered or despised this fabled land was irrelevant to Salem, who appeared upset over this turn of events. Bookmark here

"Don't lie to yourself," She groaned, realizing she wouldn’t be able to break her one rule regarding human children. “Just leave it be.”Bookmark here

But unfortunately Salem found herself unable to resist the urge. Upon sneaking inside the hut, she observed the sleeping child with a maternal gaze. She half expected herself to attack the creature, only to find that she adored it. Salem was never known to love children. Perhaps this was a long lost feeling she was never able to foster.Bookmark here

“Why would I ever want such a disgusting creature, hmph!” She pouted.Bookmark here

But no matter how much Salem wanted to leave, she remained by the child's side as if by instinct. Eventually, the mother returned to find her child sleeping peacefully in Salem’s arms. Unfortunately the sight of a pale creature wasn't exactly a soothing one. It was only a matter of time before Salem found herself apprehended by the defensive villagers. She didn’t resist, as she could hardly blame their response. If it was not for her strange change in heart, she would have slaughtered both mother and child.

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"Truly, this is what we deserve?" Salem sighed as she pulled away from the child. "We took the lives of innocence. I’ve wronged more people than I can count. This is justice is it not?”Bookmark here

The crazed thoughts continued as she was pulled by the neck to whatever fate awaited her. The humans treated her like a toy, likely under the belief that she was another pale corpse who had not yet found its rest. And like all the other broken toys in the tundra, they intended to cast her into the icy pit. Bookmark here

Salem felt almost content as she was carried towards a deep well. She knew she would be flung into the hole and perish. And if the legends were true, she would finally be at rest. Perhaps the humans weren’t so bad after all, treating her in the way she found right. Salem nearly smiled as she could feel herself tumbling 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

“Of course,” She nearly laughed, her voice proving to be as broken as her body. “Of course.”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. Bookmark here

“I can’t even die properly. Why?” She asked, as if calling to the cruel god who cursed her with this power.Bookmark here

Salem began to flail in frustration, only to knock against several sharp fragments. Evidently this abyss contained a various collection of metal limbs and parts. Like Salem they had been thrown away, perhaps once as vibrant as her. The girl growled as she attempted to toss the pieces aside. But the black tinted alloy proved to be far too sharp and heavy for her to move alone. And while Salem may not have been an expert, even she could tell these metallic forms must have been quite durable.Bookmark here

“Even these can die?” She laughed.Bookmark here

In but a few grueling moments, the witch then began to sob, clawing at her eyes with vicious intent. She had cried many times before during her miserable life. But never before had she ever felt so hopeless and weak. If death was not an option, what else did she have?Bookmark here

Salem humbly knelt before the robotic fragments. She intended to beg, perhaps for the sweet release that they so graciously received. But in an instant, Salem found her mind to be consumed by a hostile force. Her actions were no longer her own as she began to scan her surroundings with an unusual amount of intelligence.Bookmark here

“You know what you want,” She spoke to herself in a voice not her own. “You want a child. You always have. Give yourself one, why shouldn’t you? You have the power, you always have. You can show yourself.”Bookmark here

As if she were no longer an ignorant fool, Salem began to reconstruct her body. Her mesh-like form spread out like flower roots, melding and twisting itself into her surroundings. It was a beautiful display of organic horror. Eventually this new form of hers would combine with the strong alloy, creating a set of prosthetic legs made from dead. Now that she had been perfectly repaired, she set out to fulfill that long lost dream.Bookmark here

It now seemed that Salem stood a chance with her mystical powers. But what of her child? This creation would need to strike fear into the hearts of her enemies, and obey her every command with unyielding strength. After a brief moment of fantasizing, she became certain of its appearance as construction began. Bookmark here

Just like before Salem worked in perfect order, as if she was an expert in the field. Her frail hands worked like an artist, shaping and transforming the metal around her into something new. All the while she began to hum a tune as if the miracle was just another boring day in hell.Bookmark here

A rather ominous shape took form as the machine neared completion. The chassis contained hands like claws, and nails like daggers. Its feet were meant to support great weight, while remaining as nimble as the wind. The very concept of practicality seemed to dictate every inch of the creature.Bookmark here

Unlike her own body this 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 contained 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 this invaluable piece to display emotion, its eye would be surrounded by protruding plates, enabling it to show expressions akin to a human. Bookmark here

Salem’s own consciousness returned to her as she began to imagine her child's name. If it were to be a part of her, or a fragment taken from her soul, then it would need a fitting name. Salem could only think of one emotion as her lips began to form a smile. Bookmark here

“Anger, his name will be Anger.”Bookmark here

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. This was the absolute and total loss of innocence. Bookmark here

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