The forest seemed closer than usual, like the trees had hugged closer for warmth. It was late but the glow of the moon managed to spill through the dark, bare branches above. The eyes of the night creatures that stalked the forest watched him. They would stay out of his way though for he had business with a witch that night.
Axl swore he would do whatever it took to protect his family and provide for them. He never thought he would stoop so low as to seek help from a witch when he made that vow but his youngest son, Adam, was dying. He had no choice. A promise was a promise.
There had been talk of witches in the area. When the doctors could do nothing Axl went looking for them. He found a beautiful woman bathing in the river. She was shameless in her nakedness and made no attempt to cover herself. Axl knew he had found what he was looking for. Only a witch would be that brazen.
She climbed out of the water and approached him without fear.
“My son is dying. Doctors can do nothing for him. Can you help?”
“I can,” she said. “That’s not to say I will.”
She pulled a black robe down that was hanging from the limb of a nearby tree and pulled it over her broad shoulders.
Axl drew a picture from his pocket and showed it to her.
“Please! He’s just a small boy. He doesn’t deserve any of this. He deserves to live.”
The witch gathered her hair which shone red in the afternoon sunlight, twisted it and drained the water water from it without taking her eyes from the image of the small, fair haired, blue eyed boy.
Her name was Annabelle . She agreed to help him if he returned the following night. So Axl abandoned all care. Adam deteriorated rapidly. He was desperate.
He returned to the place where he and Annabelle first met. She was waiting for him. This time she wore an emerald gown that brushed the top of her feet which were bare. There was another woman with her, dressed in a long black cloak. Annabelle’s head was lowered. A pendant hung around her neck like a hangman’s noose. It glowed blue in the dark of the night.
“Can you still help me?” Axl asked. “Help my boy?” He addressed the question to Annabelle whose full, doll like lips looked ready to speak a thousand words but remained closed.
The other woman pulled her head down and revealed an ethereal beauty of a pale face and bright, blazing blue eyes. The wind caught her long black hair and it carried it like wings behind her.
“My name is Francesca,” she said. “You don’t need to direct your questions to her.”
Annabelle scowled at this but still remained silent. “Did you bring what you were asked?”
Axl removed the heart he had carved that afternoon. His wife had resisted at first. He over powered her. It was for the good of their son.
He gave the heart to Francesca. A smile traced her ruby lips. She devoured it greedily. Axl watched. Annabelle was unmoved.
“Don’t mind her,” Francesca said when she noticed him looking to her red headed companion.
“If you can restore life to my son I would be forever grateful.”
“Are you willing to give your life for his?” asked the raven haired witch.
“You already have his …” Annabelle interrupted.
Francesca turned to her with a glare.
“Did I ask you to speak?” she scowled. With a flick of her wrist Annabelle was thrown back against the trunk of a great tree. Francesca turned back to Axl. Her eyes were now glowing.
Axl fell to his knees. “I’ll do anything,” he pleaded. “I gave you my wife. Please just save my son.”
Francesca laughed. “Your boy is dead,” she stated. She leaned in closer. “I heard him cry and it was glorious. His pain sent shivers down my spine. That rotting corpse in your son’s bed hasn’t been your son for quite some time.”
“You’re lying!” Axl cried. He looked to Annabelle again. “She’s lying!” he looked for reassurance.
Francesca grabbed his chin with a firm grip.
“Your son will become one of my pets. He was such a good by it would be a shame to waste it.”
Axl sobbed. He tried to pull away but found himself unable to move.
“Just let me go. It was a mistake to come here,” he cried.
Francesca brought her face close to his. It’s beauty equalled its ferociousness. Her teeth were like a bed of needles. “I bring you death and you will thank me for it before I am done. First you will watch what your son is to become.”
Adam became sicker but never died.
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