Every living thing has a soul, an essence of being within themselves. They are born with it, and at birth it shines brightly. Infants are innocents, no matter how they are brought into the world; therefore their souls are white in virtue. As they learn and grow, their actions begin to change their souls. While good deeds and kindness retain the original innocence, lies and treachery blacken the purity.
No one soul is pure white, with the exception of birth. People, no matter how moral they may seem, have made mistakes in their lives that lead to blackening of their souls. Vice versa, no one soul is pure black. People, no matter how evil they may seem, still know what love is. Yes, their thinking may be a bit strange, but their soul still has white among the dark; little pieces and strips of hope and light that still dare to shine out against the shadows.
That's what they used to believe. Then one shining day, the Black Soul was created, hand in hand with its one power source, the Black Rose. The Seers, at first, didn't believe their Second Sight. It was impossible: a single soul completely black! One would have to do the things needed to have even half their soul blackened. Of course, she was more than simply mad...
* * *
Rosalinda bent towards the vines of roses, inhaling deeply. The sweet scent filled her nostrils, and she smiled sweetly. She pulled away, looking around at her little white cottage. The vines covered the sides and roof, leaving only spaces where the windows and door were. At the base of the quaint thing were the bushes the vines sprung from. Rose loved that about her little abode: one thing sprang from another. It was how life was, how people interacted with each other. The smallest little seed could spring up into a brand new mess of madness. Of course, the thing she loved most of her roses was their unique color.
Some had red roses growing, symbolizing their passion; others had white in a futile attempt to hold onto their innocence. Rosalinda felt that something like her talents needed something more striking, something that would make people remember to respect her. Her roses were black. They contrasted beautifully against the bright white of the cottage, making their presence known. Even the vines and leaves absorbed the color. From afar off, it would look as if a white butterfly was caught in a nasty spider's web. It was not a natural black; Rosalinda had indeed enchanted the original seeds to give off the vibrant hue.
The woman had always had an affinity for the magicks, though no one is quite sure where she got it from. Neither of her parents could wield power, and though her twin sister could, no one was as powerful as Rosalinda. The Seers had not seen someone with that much raw power in many years. They worried that she would one day overpower them, and they were correct. Within a few years, her powers far outshined theirs, though her control was practically nonexistent. She was kept inside for most of her days, and taught strict rules from the Seer in her village. Rosalinda, of course, spent her time daydreaming and wishing she could play freely.
Rosalinda never had any patience with the Seer or the rules he taught. She felt as though the Council was trying to shut her up and out, and keep her away from everyone. The older she grew, the worse her feelings became. It soon became impossible for the Seer to keep her under lock and key, much less teach her anything. Finally, Rosalinda had had enough. She packed up in the middle of the night, left a note for her sister, and then escaped in the dark of the night. She has loved the color black since that night she got away. Azkedelia, her sister, soon followed after her, and managed to catch up before Rosalinda had gotten too far. The two twins continued their lives in the cover of darkness, until they found Rossason.
Rossason was on the Eastern coast of Aritia, and had all the exuberant charms of a sea–side village. The two sisters created their new homes: Azkedelia near the beach and the waves where the sun shined and the breeze blew through her hair, and Rosalinda on the edge of the village in the forest where she could still hide if need be. No one seemed to come after them, though she was still on high alert. There was no possible way the Council would just let her go just like that. The Seer in Rossason eventually discovered the whereabouts of the two, though promised that – as long as they stayed out of trouble – their location would remain a secret.
A few years passed, and they stayed peacefully in Rossason. Azkedelia became an icon there, while Rosalinda started a sort of black market there. One thing they Seers had always tried to dictate to her was the importance of right and wrong, white and black. She knew of souls and their changing colors, but could never understand why the Seers were the ones to decide what was right and what was wrong. Everyone had a different opinion on it – one person would do something they thought right while another thought they were in the wrong, but would that just be it? He who makes the choice decides for his own soul if it is white or black.
There were some things the Seers in the land had agreed were too much for any one of them, and therefore they were forbidden acts, with or without magicks. Rosalinda believed that if one person thought it right, it was right. Therefore she often helped others with these things – for a price. It was different every time; just something that was of value to the current client, something worth more than money could buy. Sometimes it was a locket that belonged to a loved one; other times it was a dress that had been passed down through generations. Rosalinda had made quite the collection from the things given to her, and in exchange she would help whatever poor soul came knocking on her door next. For these reasons, including her black roses, her new name became the Black Rose Witch.
This particular day was a special one. Today Rosalinda would ask him to marry her. She had first met him when he pounded on her door. She simply thought he was to be another client, yet there was something about him that charmed her. He had asked her to get rid of some girl who was following him, obsessed with him. She had said it would be as simple as kiss. They stood there on her doorstep until the figure of a girl came into view. She was panting, and looked distraught, and called out his name. They ignored her, and Rosalinda smiled sweetly, leaned into him and tilted her head upwards. His head fell towards hers, and their lips interlocked.
The girl dropped to the ground, exhausted and shocked at the scene before her. She began sobbing uncontrollably, screaming at him. But the pair continued to ignore her, until she finally found the strength to push herself up from the ground and run back the way she came. The kiss broke, the two gasping. Rosalinda apologized, saying that might have been a bit forward for two strangers. He simply laughed, and told her that no spell or charm could ever compare to the incredibly breaking power of a broken heart. That kiss was exactly what he had in mind. As he turned to go, she told him to come back tomorrow. Late the next night, he arrived.
This continued, and soon after, Rosalinda found herself in love with him, and he too had fallen under love's spell. Now on this day, exactly one year from that first meeting, when she would ask him. And he would say yes. And they would live happily ever after. Well, that's what she believed, anyway.
She walked around her cottage, observing the roses on the vines. She knew exactly what to give him; it was just a matter of finding the perfect one. She circled her home several times, very slowly, trying to find it. Finally, it seemed to grow out of nowhere, the most beautiful of her black roses sprouting right above the spot they had that first unplanned kiss. Its stem was long, its leaves crisp. The thorns wouldn't be much of a problem to take care of. The petals bloomed out full and perfect. Rosalinda tenderly held the flower, then pulled it free of its line.
She inhaled again, smiling as her plan pieced itself together. She carefully blew out, making the petals dance a little with the tiny breeze. The rose started to close on itself, its petals gracefully turning inwards. After a moment, they began curling back out, their color lightening from the dark midnight to a brilliant porcelain. It returned to its full bloom, and the color spread down through the stems and to the leaves. Rosalinda smiled again, looking at her creation. It was odd, seeing a pure white rose. Still, with her title and reputation, she knew he would understand how much of a gesture it would actually mean.
Rosalinda looked up through the canopy of trees. The sky was growing dark, and the horizon had the bright fires of the sunset. It would soon be time to meet him. She tried hard to contain her excitement, remembering vaguely what had happened the last time, though it would take more than a few deep breaths to calm her racing nerves. Keeping a tight yet gentle hold on the gift, she ran inside to find a mirror, checking her appearance one last time before he would see it. Everything about this had to be perfect.
She left her cottage in confidence, and bravely walked to the destined meeting place. A few minutes of walking into the forest, Rosalinda stood and waited for her love. The air grew a touch cold, a small breeze blowing her dark hair across her face and around her shoulders. Patience, she told herself, he'll come. He'll be here. The sun had descended by this point, though the horizon continued to burn. She took a deep breath, and started getting twitchy.
She heard him before she saw him. The crunch of twigs breaking beneath his steps, his slightly labored breaths and he maneuvered through the trees towards her. Then came his silhouetted figure, his strong build. Rosalinda smiled. Soon his face came into view, lit from the dying streaks of light. He returned the smile as he approached her. Rosalinda bit her lip, and looked down, the gift held softly behind her back. Her nerves sped to the speed of light, it seemed. She didn't like the feeling; nervous wasn't an emotion she was accustomed to.
There were no words spoken between them when he met her standing figure. He simply reached for her, his hands gently caressing her face, before tugging it towards his. She closed her eyes as their lips met, happiness filling through her, slowly erasing her anxiety. She pulled away from him with shaky confidence. He looked at her, confused.
Rosalinda swallowed, then smiled gently, and started to explain. "I have something I want to ask you, and something to give." He smiled at her words, then tilted his head to see.
"Is that what you have lurking back there?" he teased, a mischievous smirk on his face. Rosalinda bit her lip and nodded, and slowly brought the white rose out from hiding. It had retained its glow, and it now acted as a light for the two amidst the dark of the forest. His eyes widened at the sight, his mouth dropped open a bit. He was speechless. His hand reached out to touch it several times, but could never manage to make contact with it. Finally, he seemed to find his voice. "Why, Rose, it – it is beautiful! How did you—"
She answered his question before he finished it. "Just a touch of magick." She moved it towards him just a little more, hoping he would take it. After the slight push, he pinched it gently and held it up. Rosalinda relinquished her grip and swallowed again. "Listen, I know it is the tradition that the man should ask the woman, but I..." she trailed off, not knowing how to continue. She hoped he would get the message she was trying to convey. She watched his face, waiting for the realization to strike. It came sooner that she expected, and she anxiously awaited his answer.
He looked down at the white rose, suddenly understanding what she was trying ask. He took a deep breath, knowing it was time. He hadn't wanted to do this, not with her. "Rosalinda," he said slowly, "do you remember the day we first met?"
She blinked. "Of course I do," she answered smiling, knowing where this was leading. "It was one year ago today."
"Yes," he nodded. "But do you remember the circumstances of that meeting?"
A part of Rosalinda's heart dropped. She opened her mouth to answer, her voice shaking a little. "You asked for help, to get rid of some girl who was following you."
He nodded again. "She was following me because, just as you did now, she once asked for my hand." Her smile dropped completely, her heart was racing, and she thought she could feel the unfamiliar prick of tears in her eyes. "And I declined."
Rosalinda started breathing faster. She felt as though her world was crashing. "I... I do not under... stand," she said quietly. He sighed, and shook his head.
"What to do, what to say." He sounded annoyed. "In full honesty, you will never truly understand. I will never get married. I will never be tied down to one place, or to one person." The words cut through her like a dagger.
She shook her head, trying to clear it. "So – so all of this was just – did it mean nothing to you?" she asked angrily.
"No, no, of course not," he tried to soothe her. "I love you Rose, truly. But life is full of more than just one person, would you not agree?" Rosalinda didn't answer him. She stood there, shaking, part from the cold that had set in, and part from what was being said to her. A single tear fell, sliding gracefully down her cheek before falling off. "I had hoped this would not happen with you, that you were as aloof as I, but alas darling, you have brought this upon yourself." He looked at the white rose in his hand again, before dropping it onto the forest floor. He gave her one last, cruel smile, then stepped on the tender petals.
The precious flower seemed to stop its tender glow. The little light it gave died off. He turned and walked away, knowing his path in the darkness. He never looked back. Rosalinda never took her eyes off of him, even when he had left her sight, even after the tears blurred her vision. She was not sure how long she stood there, just staring and crying. The full moon shone brightly overhead through the mist of leaves, creating a shadow where she stood. She blinked, trying to clear the tears away. Looking down, she saw the white rose she had given him, smeared with dirt and imprinted from his shoe.
Slowly, Rosalinda bent down and sat on the ground next to it, gently picking the soft thing up in an effort to not damage it further. She turned it over, and noticed something odd. The rose had started bleeding – just a single trickle of blood trailing through the petals and down the stem. She wondered where it had started and why. In her experience, roses did not generally bleed. She held the flower at the tip of the stem in her fingertips, holding it out at arm's length. She thought over the past year, and marveled at what she remembered. How could that man, so kind and gentle just days early, turn into what she had witnessed tonight?
No spell or charm could ever compare to the incredibly breaking power of a broken heart. That was what he had first told her. She had known what he meant when he said it to her; she believed it to be about that other one. The girl she had helped him break. Now, as she looked back, Rosalinda could see how he had been more than perfect, he had been too perfect. He had had all the practice needed to charm her to far away dreams. She wiped away the remaining tears, and looked at the rose.
White. It was the color – no, the symbol – of innocence in this land. Cleanliness, peace. Rosalinda had always preferred its darker opposite: experience, passion, chaos. She thought of him, of her gift, and her sadness grew to anger. She stood, still holding the white rose away, and glared at it, at him. Her anger grew, until her magick reacted. In a flash, the once–precious flower was enflamed bottom to top. The fire traveled quickly, and gave the white rose color as it went. The stem turned a deep emerald, still with the one streak of blood sliding down. The petals caught the flame, and there it stayed. First they changed to a deep red then slowly the color was burned away. Their original black came into view, petals as full as when Rosalinda first pulled it off the branch.
The fire continued on, though the rose stayed as it was, burning. For a moment, Rosalinda wondered why it did not crumble into ash. But for only a moment. As the fire burned, she felt a fiery kind of change within herself. It was recorded since time had begun: only those with the Second Sight could see the colors of souls. But never had it been stated that one could feel their soul changing. And that was what happened. Slowly, as the rose held the flame, Rosalinda felt something inside her change to dark, leaving no trace of light left within. The feeling came with a new surge of power, power she had never dreamed of before, power the Seers would love to try and control.
She dropped the black rose; it fell straight. The end of the stem staked into the ground, and soon the earth around it rumbled. Vines, thick and covered in thorns, sprouted from beneath, wrapping around the surrounding vegetation, draining the life there to feed itself. Rosalinda looked to the direction he walked off in, and waited only one moment more before stalking off after him. Her simple dress torn as she made her way through the growing plants; she cared not. As soon as she was clear, she waved her hand over her body in s swift, fluid motion. Gone were the new rags; instead was a short, black velvet dress, with a low neckline and sleeves that flowed open at her wrists. Her cloth shoes were also transformed into black leather boots, up to her knees. Her pale skin contrasted beautifully with the dark color.
With the full moon still shining down, she continued on, knowing where to find him. Rosalinda walked quickly. She was coming for blood.
* * *
She found him, locked in another woman's embrace. They begged for mercy; she informed them that she was not in that line of business. She killed the other woman with a flick of her wrist. She snapped, and he was burned alive. She stood, watching his body squirm, hearing his screams. Any love or kindness, any innocence, had been burned away from her. Now, she felt nothing but hatred, anger, pain. Her revenge had just begun. Her next goal was any other woman he had ensnared. She wanted every trace of him – down to the last child – gone. She started with Rossason, simply burning the once happy city down to the ground.
Thus the first, and only, Black Soul was formed, thriving off the pain of betrayal and the sting of hatred. From then on, the title of the Black Rose Witch meant fear and death. The witch searched the land, trying to find the others he had strung along. For centuries she went on her journey, and removed any obstacle that stood in her way. All but one, that is: he had kept his life very secret. No one knew where she would find all the girls. Eventually, her body burned out, having used all the energy it could possibly pull. The Black Soul, however, still had a quest to complete. It searched for another, a new body to occupy and feed upon, but there was a catch: it could only move into someone who had experienced the same pain that originally created it, someone who had been broken down to dust.
The first, after Rosalinda, was a girl named Rachyl. She lasted nearly as long as Rosalinda had, though her body, too, had been used up. The Black Soul, combined with Rachyl's, moved to the next: Jessalyn. Each new soul joined with the Black one, and fed off the white that existed whilst corrupting the black already there. Every soul continued on, through the power that possessed it; the voices of the past ones still echoing in the head of the poor child who held them. Next was Rashelle, and then Aimee and Kasandra, followed by Rebekka, Saara, Kamil, then Jamila and Mabella. Hundreds of years had passed since the Black Soul and the Black Rose were first created, and the original quest had long been forgotten.
Rumors spread through the land of how the Witch never seemed to die, how she just continued on. No one understood the ultimate power of the Black Soul, not a Seer anywhere could crack the code. It is said that only one Seer had ever lain eyes on the Witch, long enough to see the pure darkness of the vast souls she had collected. Word spread around of the phenomenon, and people quickly labeled it a curse; the current holder of the Soul was given the title 'The Carrier'.
Mabella was the eleventh Carrier, before she passed it along. Her body was weak, and could not keep the ever–growing powers under control. She soon passed The Black Soul, and herself, onto another: the twelfth Carrier. The foolish girl who would figure out a way to bend the rules, to slip through the cracks. The Carrier who would unknowingly begin the final destruction of the one Black Soul, and its one power source, forever–aflame, the Black Rose.