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The wolf knew the moment that someone had stepped into the forest. It paused mid-step, sniffing the air to ascertain the nuances of the trespasser's scent. It cocked its head thoughtfully as it was greeted with the smell of a healthy young girl traveling alone, out of place among the earthy and damp aromas of the forest's natural odor. Few passed through this forest, particularly alone, opting for the safer albeit longer path that wound around its perimeter. The forest itself was not cursed, insomuch as those passing through were not guaranteed a dark fate; however, the forest was naturally a place where fate was forged and tested and, whether good or bad, those who entered never left the same.
 
The wolf itself was a guardian of these woods and a servant of Fate, watching and guiding those along their journey. For this reason, it rarely left the woods except when sent out by its Mistress to survey the surrounding villages and ensure that no one had escaped their designated fate. Though many people sought to avoid their fate, their actions often led them securely into its clutches. For the few who succeeded in forcefully altering their fate, unbeknownst to them the rippling irreversible consequences of this were always far worse and more widespread than what their original fate entailed. Thousands could die and civilizations could fall, setting back humanity years in progress, so despite whatever hate it might receive from the villagers the wolf carried out its role dutifully.
 
The smell of an innocent held hope for a positive fate, but the wolf knew that this naivety could just as easily lead to an unpredictable twist of fate. For this reason, the wolf altered its course towards the child, using its sweet scent as a guide, and soon came upon the path closest to the northern village. It peered through the trees to gaze upon a girl cloaked in red and carrying a basket of food meandering down the path. Ignorant of the dangers, she would pause to gather the flowers growing along the edge of the path or collect fallen nuts from the trees. Even more alarming, the wolf watched her chase butterflies that enticed her off the path or look curiously at the shadows that beckoned her to stray deeper into the woods. Practically growling at the recklessness of the child, more so at its irresponsible parents that sent her alone on a trip she was clearly unprepared for, the wolf decided to intervene to at least ascertain the purpose of her journey.
 
Approaching slowly to avoid scaring the girl, the wolf greeted her and discovered that she was headed to her grandmother's house by the mill in the southern village. It knew of the grandmother she was planning to visit, the woman's sickly scent engrained in its mind from the wolf's last patrol through that village under the cover of darkness. Surely this child knew to stay away from one afflicted with such a disease; the grandmother's fate was already sealed but the girl's fate was still forming and needn't be cut short in such tragedy.
 
Prompted by its intuition, the wolf decided to go check on the grandmother before the child arrived to ensure she had already succumbed to her fate and the danger of the disease spreading was nullified. Under the pretext of a game of who would arrive first, the wolf set the child down a longer path through the forest while it took a direct route to the grandmother's home. It steeled itself for the job that must be done if the grandmother's fate hadn't fully played out as it knocked on the door. Too weak at this terminal stage of disease the grandmother instructed the wolf to let itself in. The toxic scent that greeted the wolf made it stagger at first before it lunged on the grandmother to devour her body and remove the serious threat she posed to the world around her. Satisfied that her prescribed fate was completed, the wolf looked around for a source of fire to destroy and purify the contaminated space before the child arrived, but it froze as it heard a quick knock and someone entered the house. ‘Too late,' it thought, ‘the child had arrived!'
 
The wolf wished it could weave fate itself but it could only stare in horror as the girl's scent shifted to take on a hint of sickly aroma. With this change, the wolf knew that the child could not be allowed to leave the house lest she carry the plague beyond its walls to the surrounding villages. The wolf pounced quickly again and although her flesh was sweet it brought the wolf no joy to carry out its duty. Full and weighed down by what had transpired, the wolf fell asleep as it strategized its next steps to cleanse the place. After all, what were the chances someone else would happen to stop by the grandmother's house today...
 
Fate can be both cruel and complicated; even the servants of Fate are never privy to her full tapestry. Despite its best efforts to prevent catastrophe, while the wolf slept a woodsman passed by and carved him open to save the girl and grandmother thereby reversing their intended fate and unintentionally setting a plague upon the region that would ravage it for years. The grandmother succumbed to the disease a mere 13 days after her ordeal with the wolf but the damage was done. The woodsman carried the disease with him and spread the sickness to his fellow workers and their families. As they worked to obliterate the ‘cursed forest' they instead just contaminated the land further and angered Fate. As the point source of unwinding threads of fate, the girl found herself cursed with immunity to the disease. Sickness and death followed the girl everywhere like a dark shadow, starting with her family and friends and spreading to any village she passed through on her journey to move on. The girl exchanged her bright red cloak for a long black cloak of mourning and carried the curved blade set on a long handle, given to her by the woodsman after using it to save her from the wolf, to keep hostile villagers at bay. Rumors had spread like wildfire and everyone who saw her approach secured their homes or prepared to attack and drive her away because she was synonymous with death itself.
 
Traumatized and lonely she returned to the forest that had changed her fate for solace, for it was now considered a cursed forest and no villager dared to enter it. The darkness no longer bothered her and losing herself among the endless trees seemed like a blissful fate. Wandering through the labyrinth of trees she suddenly came upon a clearing and there, in the heart of the Black Forest shining in the moonlight, was the wolf whose presence in her life had marked the beginning of the plague. Numbly she gripped her weapon, half wanting to take her revenge for ruining her life yet a part of her begging the wolf to end it. Eyes locking, they stared at each other for a moment before the wolf lunged forward and set its teeth upon the girls right wrist as the girl skewered the wolf's heart with her blade. Locked together, the lifeblood of each slowly dripped into a growing puddle on the forest floor and intermingled, sealing an unspoken contract officiated by Fate herself.
 
That day Fate gained a new immortal servant, shrouded in black and wielding a cruel blade, ready to enforce fate with its loyal wolf companion for eternity. And they ‘lived' happily ever after as both their dreams came true: two souls united in their thankless higher purpose, never finding themselves alone amongst an ever-growing family of the eternal dead.

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Abigail Haworth · ago
Woah. This was a wild ride. Very fascinating concept.