The Crimson Rose (pt. 2/2)

A few weeks ago I posted the first part of the english translation of my story “De Wendigo Roos”. I know it took me a while to finish translating the second and last part. But your patience will be rewarded since it is finally here!

For those who missed the first part of the story, here’s a link:

When she opened her eyes again the sun was high up in the sky. She could hear birds whistling and crickets chirping just as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Yet her head felt as if hit by a hammer and her back ached at every attempt to move. She could barely look around to see where she was because of the blinding sun, but her gut told her she was still at Lake Verdun. Ignoring the sore pain and hiding the sunlight behind her arm she sat up to get a better look at her surroundings. A stain of dried blood marked the spot where a deer was killed but there was no direct sign of last night’s creature. As she heaved a sigh of relief she noticed various pieces of paper spread all over the ground, some of them drifting in the water. She cursed but she realized there was no need for a map anymore. It would be a lot easier to find her way around the lake now that the sun was high up in the sky. If only she didn’t have such a headache…
Malin was so busy wallowing in self-pity that she almost didn’t hear the rustling behind her. Startled by the sudden noise and afraid to face last night’s terror again she tried to hold still, hoping that – whatever it was – wouldn’t notice her. Her hope was in vain though. Not a second later a dark shadow loomed over her, blocking the sun. Something sniffed her hair at the back of her head, but instead of fear she felt recognition. “Juno!” she cried out in delight. Malin was so happy to see her horse that she jumped up to give it a big hug.  “Don’t you ever run off like that again, Juno! I thought you were gone!” she said as she embraced the horse around the neck.

They rode all day along the shores of lake Verdun and before the end of sunset they finally arrived at the walled village of Lescamps. There was only a short distance between the end of the lake and the walls of the village that bordered the woods of the lake.  Her uncle could be heard from miles off before she even saw him. He was standing at the gates shouting at a guard: “What do you mean you can’t find a trace of her!? Why are you back here already then?” The guard’s face expression changed from dejected to astonished when he saw her appear behind her ucle’s back.
“I’m here, uncle” she said. She knew that when her uncle was angry he was difficult to calm down. His head was red from shouting at the guard and he didn’t realise she was standing next to him until she yelled: “Uncle!!”. He looked up at her and abruptly ceased his antics. “Malin! Where have you been? I’ve been dead anxious! I thought you were to arrive yesterday!? I’ve sent the watch out to look for you!” Then when he looked at her more closely he must have finally noticed her dirty clothes, her tousled hair and the upwelling tears in her eyes. “Good lord…” He stuttered… His anger quickly turned into compassion and he gave her a good hug. “I’ll have the maid prepare you a bath before she goes home, while I make you some delicious hot soup. Let’s go home now.” He nodded at the guardsman as if apologizing before leading Malin home.

Her uncle Voclain’s house stood out among the ordinary cottages in Lescamps. It was higher than most buildings and it had a Girani-styled mini-garden roof, unique in the country of Cavaleiro. She could spend hours in the minigarden with its beautiful view over Lescamps and the woods beyond. However today the garden didn’t make her feel comfortable. The sight of the dark woods around the lake frightened her. Right now she only wanted solid walls around her to feel safe and come to peace. She told her story to her uncle hoping he would know more about it but he was just as baffled as she was. “So you say it was a tall white humanoid with black stripes over its face and aside from the rags around its waste it was naked?” Voclain asked.
“That’s what I said…” Malin sighed, a little annoyed that her story seemed so unbelievable.”
“The wildmen of the west would somehow fit the description, but as far as I know they don’t travel alone, they don’t leave their islands, they don’t even know how to sail a boat… Maybe an escaped prisoner?”
“All I know is that it was there, that it killed a young deer with its bare hands and that it scared the hell out of me…” Malin said.
“I will look into this, Malin. Don’t worry. I have to admit though that I have never heard of anything like this. I suggest you go to bed early and get some good rest. I will look into this tonight and tomorrow I hope to give you an answer as to what happened. The house is safe and the doors are locked. If there’s anything out there, it has to come by me first, and I won’t let that happen. I think your bath will be ready by now.” He smiled and tried to comfort her.
Malin seemed happy and gave her uncle a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you.” she smiled softly before she went upstairs to bathe and eventually sleep.

That night she dreamt she was flying over the lands, over the long road by the lake, past the spot where she had lost Juno and the place where she had encountered the creature and where she had eventually spent the night. In the far distance she could spot the small blinking lights of the village where she was now sleeping. She had never before had a dream this vivid. Everything was so clear that it was almost as if she could touch the tops of the trees, smell the wet grass below and ripple the surface of the lake just by flying over. Too bad this was only a dream, she had never felt so powerful and energetic before. Almost in a state of euphoria she slowly flew closer towards the village, enjoying her new-found freedom. She stopped in mid-air to enjoy the scenery. She thought to recognize Voclain’s eccentric house with its contrasting colours and Girani roof among a row of more ordinary houses near the horizon. While she was dreamily staring at the village she noticed some movement on the nearby rooftops. A shade was  jumping from roof to roof, close to Voclain’s house. She was still too far to recognize who or what it was but at once she thought of the pale creature she’d met the night before. Her short-lived happiness quickly turned into panic as she saw it stop to sit on top of Voclain’s roof! She tried to fly faster and quicker back to the house in order to warn her uncle! While she could see the shade descending slowly but surely along the walls towards an open window on the second floor, she realized: the open window was the window of her own bedroom!
She screamed as hard as she could, but there was no sound! She tore past the village walls where the night guards were sleepily staring in front of them. Obviously they couldn’t see her. As she looked back at the house there was no more sign of the creature, which meant that it had probably entered her room. She moved past Voclain’s window where she could see him bent over old books accompanied only by a few candles. She banged on the windows, but again there was no sound and her uncle just kept on reading like there was nothing going on. She soon realized no one could hear or see her. Ultimately she decided to confront the creature herself in her bedroom. If only it was not yet too late…

The frightful pale creature was already sitting at the end of her bed when she finally entered her room. Sitting over Malin’s sleeping self, the creature was chucking through her dark brown hairs. She tried to hit, punch and kick it, but her spirit couldn’t even touch the white hairs on its head. Instead of chasing the creature away it only got closer towards her body, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. A grin appeared on its face, the same grin she saw the last time they met. She knew she had to do something now or she would never wake up again. Her combined fear, desperation and courage gave her the power to return to her body and wake up with the loudest scream her body could produce. The creature obviously hadn’t expected this and was so startled that it fell backwards off the bed. Malin grabbed the dagger from under her pillow – she felt safer sleeping with a dagger under her pillow – and threw it at the creature who desperately tried to find a way out. This time it shrieked itself when Malin’s dagger painfully hit it in the shoulder. It staggered towards the open window right before it disappeared into the city streets. Not a second later Voclain stormed into the room with his staff in his hands immediately followed by two city guards attracted by all the commotion. Malin just sat on her bed in shock, staring at the most beautiful flower she had ever laid her eyes upon.

“You’ve been very lucky,” Voclain said, “according to legend, the White Wanderer roams the lands for many centuries, always looking for new prey. They say he used to be human once, just like us, but got seduced into cannibalism. Consuming the powers of his victims he becomes stronger, but so does his hunger. Guided by his hunger and his immortality he has lost most of his humanity, becoming what he is now: a monster.” Voclain paused to make sure Malin was getting it all. “He first marks his target and then comes back when they least suspect it, sometimes weeks or months later. In your case, it was only a day, which worries me… he must be very desparate…” Voclain frowned.
“What about the flower? Why did he bring a flower?” Malin wanted to know, she didn’t want to just believe everything her uncle was saying. Voclain frowned again and shook his head. “There is no mention of a flower in any of the books… I can tell you more about the flower though. It’s called a crimson rose.” Before Voclain could say another word Malin interrupted him.” Crimson? It’s not even a red flower!”
“Let me finish and you will find out! It is called a crimson rose because that is the colour of all the blood that has been spilled because of it throughout the centuries. Unlike the red rose, the crimson rose is one of the rarest plants in the world, it is said that she only flourishes once every so many years. But what makes her even rarer is the fact that no-one in the last five hundred years has ever found one growing in the wild. And this is a wild crimson rose. The grown ones at the Academy hold no thorns.” Voclain kept on rambling but Malin was no longer listening. She couldn’t get over the fact that that creature had brought her such a beautiful flower, only to be attacked in return. The disappointed look in the creature’s eyes right after it got hit kept crossing her mind.