I was once a beauty until I became the pursuit of one of the darkest evils of the world. I grew up in a forested residence, my friends counting among the wolves that roam there, and the foxes with their cunning stares.
Now, I have aged, not in numbers but by a spell that was cast upon me by a sorcerer that lived in the shadows of an enchanted garden. It was a garden betrothed to a white rose. And, in all the flowers that bloomed in the garden, the radiance of the white rose overshadowed their beauty by far in comparison. It was a proscribed rose that could forbid enchanters to its sensuous attraction.
I remember looking at a wolf in the eye once, thinking that something lurked behind those glowering eyes that stared back at me. It had been standing on a rock, glaring deep into my eyes, then, it ran away after seeing that I stood rooted to the ground staring back at it with the same intensity.
It didn’t attack me like I was told how the wolves would. It didn’t notice that I was shivering and trembling in fright. It is said that once it sensed fear, it would harm you. I ran back home to tell my grandmother, the matron of the sprawling residence with whom I lived, within the grounds of that enchanted forest.
It became my possession when my parents died while hunting foxes deep there. Some wild animals had attacked and killed them. I was ten, and didn’t dare question those that whispered to me about the way they died. I remember them saying that it was a “tragic consequence – almost like a curse.” Their bodies were mauled and torn to pieces, they said. “No one dies that way,” an aunt had whispered at the funeral, torment evident in her eyes.
My grandmother said after, that anyone who cared to look at their bodies was tormented for days at end. It was too gory a scene to forget, or put asunder.
As I neared adolescence, something drew me to the forest every time. I would wake up hearing sounds in the wee hours of the morning. My sleep all gone, I would sit by my window to look out at the vast forest till the rise of the Sun. There was something out there I didn’t want to miss seeing, something I couldn’t quite fathom what, and I was curious.
The sounds that came from within that forest were so like the bells that toll when a clock tower announces its hourly time. I could hear the clatter of the birds, the swishes of the leaves, the wild calls of the wolves, and of the cunning foxes.
I could even hear the gentle sounds of the creek that ran from one end to another, adjacent to the hills where springs of water gushes forth from. Fishes splashing, its fins gyrating, I could hear them all even if they were hidden from my sight.
That forest was a place of beauty and inexplicable happenings. The dead inhabited its dwelling too, I was told once. I believed it, as there were times when I walked alone on the leaf strewn paths overshadowed by huge stocky trees to where the creek was, and I felt a shadowy presence.
It was not the usual kind of feeling that I get when I go walking in the seclusion of the forest’s surroundings. This presence made my hair stand on its end. A cold breeze would touch me and I would feel a shiver run down my spine. There would be eeriness surrounding me.
Anyway, I would just shrug away that scary moment, and be on my way. I pretended that it didn’t affect me in any way.
It was while I was treading on those paths one day, that I had seen the wolf with the glowering eyes. I often wondered if it was that same wolf that I sensed follow me sometimes. I did think a couple of times that an animal hid between the bushes while I took my walks. The swishing of the leaves and animal scent were dead giveaway signs that led me to suspect that an animal was close at hand.
It didn’t always follow my tracks. There were days when nothing disturbed me and I felt myself languish in the beauty and stillness of the forest. I would sit by the creek and be nourished by the perfect scents of nature that permeated the whole environment.
Even though I knew that things moved hidden, things out of the ordinary, there was an intense desire in me to follow those paths, to seek the solace that was found within the enclave of the tranquil forest. I didn’t fear the hidden as much as I was curious of its origins.
Most of all, I was enamored by the enchanted garden which was confined within those grounds, wherein its magnificent ambiance, a white rose grew in prominence. It had a magnetic attraction that I couldn’t overlook or dismiss. It somehow stilled me to its perfection.
The rose was of the purest of white, its leaves, a glazed green, and on its stems were thorns as sharp as splintered needles, hidden from view and closeted by those shiny fresh leaves. Nothing in that garden could stand out in prominence or radiate a beauty that was as astounding as that white rose. In all of the garden’s precious flowers, it was one of a kind, a single rose that made everything else pale in comparison.
My grandmother said that the rose was an enchanted rose. That the rose bush sprouted overnight from the rich, fertile soil of the forest, and that it beguiled admirers with its mesmerizing beauty.
It had a hypnotic attraction, I couldn’t deny, and it is said that it charmed beautiful women with its appealing fragrance. The aroma of the white rose lingered long after one left its premises. It created illusions of awe in one’s mind for that enchanted rose.
Grandmother went on to say that, therein lived the soul of a sorcerer who could devour the beauty of fair maidens. She was a jealous sorcerer who could never stand the thought of another who possessed beauty as captivating as hers. She was as evil as she was beautiful.
The sorcerer had once been a princess who ruled the kingdom of the forest. She was one, who, obsessed with her beauty and her form, would seek out maidens of great beauty and lure them to the darkest parts of the forest, in order to have them killed by the wild beasts that roamed there. Hundreds of young maidens died that way, their bodies never to be found or traced. Later, she would consume their blood.
I had listened to my grandmother stupefied. I wondered if what she said was true, and was keen to encounter the sorcerer whose soul resided in that gorgeous plant. I slowly realized that my mother, who was a great beauty herself, had died just as tragically. Since, I possessed her looks, would I also be subjected to a tragedy as that which had befallen my mother?
I soon became aware that my beauty was often the talk of the town’s people.
People, who knew my backstory, swore that it was the spirit of my mother that lived in me. She had taken control of me the day she died. They said that my resemblance to her was too stark to be ignored. It was in everything I did; the way I spoke, the way I walked, the way I often let my mind wander to the forest that besotted me.
Yes, I think people were more afraid of my beauty than anything else. It was of a bewitching beauty that silenced. And, every so often, relatives and friends would tell my grandmother to take extra care that I don’t wander off to the forest alone. Didn’t my grandmother learn from the death of my mother?
My mother was a great beauty who left people awestruck by her likeness to an angelic entity. Of which entity, I do not know, as I was not to mention nor question it. But I had heard that she was just as appealing to the grudges of the dark underworld. The spirits of the darkness too was in pursuit of her mind, body, and soul which were why the seers and psychics she consulted had often warned her not to venture out in the dark of the night.
Yes, my grandmother said that once my mother had been possessed by an evil spirit. She could see it in her eyes, and she had taken her to a psychic to have it removed. The psychic managed to take out the spirit and cautioned my mother about the dreads of the evils that were lurking around to possess her mortal soul. They came out in the dark, when night hid their vicious spirits behind ungodly hours until it was time for them to emerge, and it was then that these spirits took bodily control of people unaware of its dominance.
My grandmother would often say that beauty that entrances will attract both light and darkness. Well, my mother’s beauty was incomparable, entrancing and indulgent hence, I was sure she would have been the pursuit of unseen forces that controlled light and darkness.
I would often stop to stare at her portrait that my grandmother had hanged on the landing of the staircase, just to see my resemblance to her and be reminded at how alike we were. Our resemblances to each other never failed to surprise me. Every time I looked at her, it was like a new dawning.
Then, each time I went up to my chamber, I felt her eyes follow me. Her eyes were deep and penetrating, and were of a beautiful green. She kept watch over me, and I was neither scared nor troubled by it. It was always her spirit that would guard my grandmother and me, and not my father’s. My grandmother said that my father was not as pure in spirit as her, as such; we never felt his presence lingering anywhere close to us.
We did pray for the repose of his soul though, just so that he would rest in peace.