Blue and Red Roses
It had been many years since the villagers of Vale had thought about the Blue Witch. She had faded into the realm of myth, though she still roamed the wood as alive as he had in those days. She did not look a day past twenty. Her name was Kyamra, though no one paused to learn it, and she was blessed or cursed with immortality and eternal beauty. Spending her time roaming the wood wild and free, she sang as she gathered herbs and tended to her hidden garden of enchanted azure roses. But, for all the beauty of nature surrounding her, she craved something no one ever offered. Kyamra was lonely.
On one of her walks in the wood, she hummed and plucked fresh blossoms and berries for her alchemical studies; she heard an unfamiliar sound. She had lived here in the wood long enough to know every sound of the beast, gusts of wind, or babble of the brook. Never had she heard anything like this before. It was a moaning followed by ripping sobs. Investigating, she discovered something wholly unexpected. No older than eight, a little girl sat stained in blood from head to toe. Moved by compassion, Kyamra checked the girl for wounds.
"You are uninjured," Kyamra muttered, primarily for her benefit, "You are safe with me, child," She cooed, trying to be as kind and reassuring as possible, but the girl continued to weep and wail.
She took off her cloak and wrapped it around the quaking girl, pulling her into her lap and rocking her back and forth in vain to comfort her. The girl's eyes were wide as though reliving some unseen horror. Kyamra sang softly to the girl until the child's eyes began to droop in exhaustion. For a moment, it crossed Kyamra's mind to put the child down and abandon her in the woods, trusting she would find a way to survive, but her conscience and loneliness would not allow it.
Taking the girl into her arms, she made their way back to her cottage. Breathing deeply, Kyamra inhaled the deep musky scent of her azure roses before wrinkling her nose at the acrid metallic smell of the girl in her arms. Then, laying the girl down with the cloak beneath her, Kyamra began washing away the blood with a rag and bucket of water. Then, clothing the child in one of her extra nightgowns, she wove a spell over the girl that would grant her dreamless sleep.
Knowing the child would not awaken for some time, Kyamra returned to her studies outside the cottage. When Kyamra was hungry, she made sure to make enough food to feed them, a hearty stew. Then, eating some herself, she reserved the rest for the girl when she woke. Finally, settling down into the chair, Kyamra dozed, startling awake to the sound of skittering feet and the clatter of a lifted pot lid. Seeing Kyamra stir, the girl dropped the pot lid and retreated back to the room's bedside.
"I found you in the woods," Kyamra stated, giving the girl a small smile, "Are you alright? May I know your name?"
"I'm Cerise," The girl replied, fidgeting with the sleeve of the nightdress.
"I'm Kyamra; why don't you have some stew and tell me your story? I promise I am a friend and mean you no harm."
Cerise's eyes grew large again, but there were no tears this time. Instead, she explained that men came to her home. They were monsters, draining the blood from her mother and two sisters. She did not know what to call them. Finally, one of them tugged her deep into the wood, where she managed to escape. Kyamra listed to Cerise's harrowing tale before responding, tamping down her own strong emotions. Cerise appeared as if there was more she wanted to tell, but she devolved into tears. Kyamra had to hear that this girl had no family to return to make up her mind. Instead, she would grant the child a place among her treasured roses. It was as though the gods had given her an apprentice.
"You will live here with me, do errands, and go into the village since I cannot. If you perform the tasks I give you without question or hesitation, I will teach you all I know as my apprentice."
Cerise nodded in acceptance, wondering what she would do first. Kyamra's instruction began almost immediately. Cerise proved herself to be a quick learner and rapidly mastered every task set before her. Before long, ten years had passed. Cerise matured to womanhood, and Kyamra did not age a day. But, with maturity came a restlessness within Cerise about her family's demise. Something within her longed for justice, and she poured over Kyamra's tomes of magic for a spell to suit her purpose. Gathering the components required by the ritual in secret, Kyamra quickly found her out. Admonishing Cerise's wish to perform such a problematic ritual spell, Kyamra eventually caved.
"This ritual will remove your humanity and replace it with apathy. It will grant you insight into the world of the monsters who murdered your family. You will become merciless and cruel if you walk this path."
"I wish to avenge them."
"It isn't your duty to avenge the dead."
"I have to do this for myself, don't worry; I will return to you as soon as I hunt them down." She promised.
Cerise's promise lightened Kyamra's heart for a moment, allowing hope as she began to ritual. All went according to plan. Cerise's humanity was removed from her and placed into a moonstone prism around Kyamra's neck for safekeeping. When Cerise returned, Kyamra would make her whole again. Cerise, when she exited the circle of blue roses, her face as cold as stone, eyes crimson and glassy like a living doll, it took all of Kyamra's strength to move toward the hollow Cerise. Kyamra handed her a backpack full of things Cerise needed, including an enchanted flask of the sweetest blood. The flask would flow forever, ensuring she would not fall to the same craving for blood the monsters Cerise hunted required.
"A last word of caution, Cerise, your proper name holds power, anyone who knows it can tether you to them like a servant. Therefore, I have prepared three enchanted items for you. The first is the ever-flowing flask of blood. The second, this mask, is enchanted so that no one will remember your face. The third and final gift is a sword to protect you and allow you to enact your vengeance upon those who have wronged you."
Cerise said nothing but nodded as she departed, equipping the items Kyamra had given her. She ignored the cerulean eyes boring into her back; Cerise wished she could say she felt something at abandoning Kyamra. Still, because of the curse, Cerise felt nothing but burning vengeance. Kyamra fell to her knees in her garden, her grief overwhelming her, dropping tears upon her beloved enchanted roses. Every tear turned the blooms from azure to crimson. Every year, they would blood red, reminding Kyamra of hope and Cerise's promised return.