Savoie was born in the deep forests of the Southern Province. Normally the types of families that the woods housed chose to live in solitude, but not long ago Savoie’s Great Grandfather had seen the need to band together and protect their families from the outsiders, as well as the creatures that had more claim to the land. He had taken power over these people that he banned together and they made loose forms of alliances over the next two generations through marriage, trade and shared experience. No one place was home and they traveled about the great mountain, never to far, for the mountain was said to contain their God, and their places of worship riddled the caverns. They prayed to Malach HaMavet, placing plates of food, homemade wines, and anything else they could spare.
All the while the people were unaware that Malach did not reside in the mountain, somewhere in history they had become confused, as many religions do, and centuries later the myths had started to go astray and now the history of their God that they shared at night around the fire was a completely diluted truth. They only saw that their offerings were occasionally taken and that their people weren’t starving, so the rituals continued as before, no one willing to interrupt the sort of peace that resided with her people.
One day Savoie, at the age of three, played with all the other children as her father watched. Her father was the leader of the tribe and had been referred to as a calculating man in the past and him spending time watching his daughter was seen as strange, but he wasn’t a horrible man and his little girl with her playful smile amused him. He handed her a piece of dried beef watching steadily as she chewed and nibbled on it. Another child reached up to her father, asking for some of the beef and as her father extended the beef Savoie glared. Her little fists balled up, encasing the beef she already had and shoved the other child in the chest, knocking them back and into tears. Savoie just grinned and grabbed the extra beef out of her father’s grasp while he looked at her, jaw dropping a bit. But he didn’t correct her. No one corrected her.
Even as she grew older the tribe’s people allowed Savoie, daughter of their leader, to do as she pleased. The only one who put her in her place was her father with occasional beatings. Soon she looked down on the others. They were weak, all of them, just toys to push to the ground. Some say it was this upbringing that left a hole for Ba’al. Some say that Savoie was just born wrong, with something missing.
On her 12th birthday Savoie was given a young dire wolf by one of the young men of her tribe. It was an offering of courtship. The boy, not much older than herself, cautiously approached her where she sat, surrounded by people, and extended the already fierce looking puppy towards Savoie. She looked past the puppy and at the boy. He looked petrified, nervous, unsure and she curled the corner of those –once- vibrant lips up at him and reached out to accept the puppy. He relaxed, everyone relaxed; this was a joyous day. A room that, only moments ago, was chocked with tension broke into a collective laugh. Music began to play and Savoie cuddled the puppy into her arms. Savoie’s father wrapped his arm around the boy and led him away, possibly talking about the not too distant future when this man would watch over his daughter.
Later that night the tribe’s camp was deathly silent. The booze and dancing had placed a coma on all of the adults and the children had been allowed to stay up much too late. Once everyone found their beds they simply collapsed, that is, except for Savoie. She walked through camp, long rope hanging from one shoulder while the dire wolf puppy was requiring both arms for her small frame to carry about. Her fingers curled around the entrance to the a tent and she peeked inside, that same smile from before now taking a more sardonic turn as she spotted the boy. Her bare feet tiptoed past his sleeping sisters and younger brothers until she stood, hovering above the sleeping boy. Those same feet then nudged his shoulder. Nothing, she waited a moment before nudging his shoulder once more, though this time it was more of a kick and the boy woke with a start, rubbing his arm and looking up at Savoie and the puppy with sleep in his eyes.
“Oh, oh, it’s you.” He whispered and then smiled at her goofily. She could see the flush running up his neck and across his cheek. She attempted to mimic the smile as she looked down upon him.
“Come with me.” The boy flushed again as he grappled hastily for a pair of pants while also trying not to wake those around him. His eyes darted over his family that seemed almost dead in the silence and his pants were pulled on beneath the hides that covered him. He stood, eyes searching around for a shirt.
“Unnecessary.” Savoie spoke as she exited the tent. The boy obediently followed, becoming excited at the possibility of what this adventure might entail. He walked at her heels, both silent until they made it a safe distance from camp.
“Where are we going?” No answer, they kept walking. They remained in the silent pilgrimage for another hour or so. It was hard to tell with the moon breaking through the trees and the silence that had settled around them which seemed to stretch time. The girl said nothing and it wasn’t until they had reached the mountain that the boy hesitantly spoke.
“Savoie, it’s dangerous out here, we should go back.” His hand started to rub nervously up and down the opposite arm, as if he were cold. At this Savoie stopped and turned towards him, batting her lashes as she had seen her mother do and giving a smile coated in honey.
“That is why you are here, to protect me. Right?” Another flush from the boy. He eyed the surrounding area and the sleep started to drain from his face. He turned his back to Savoie, the recognition was starting to kick in.
“I…” He stuttered. “I know this place. This is the ritual gr…” Then the complete recognition hit him and he looked terrified, but only for a moment, because while he turned Savoie had released the puppy and opted for a large branch. She swung with all the force a tribe leader’s daughter had learned in 12 years and bashed the boy in the head. The crack vibrated through the woods, but they were too far for anyone to hear, even if they had been conscious enough to hear it. Blood immediately came to the head wound as a sick gurgle escaped the boys lips. Then he was face down on the ground, Savoie once again standing above him. The girl lowered herself to her haunches and whispered to the boy, a malicious edge that would have gotten her committed in another century. “How dare you.”
When the boy awoke, he shifted against a tree, realizing in a panic that his hands were bound, he couldn’t move, his head was throbbing and his vision was a blur. He attempted to speak, and it was only choked muffled noises that escaped. He first assumed he was gagged, but the pain seared throughout his head and he could taste blood, so much blood. The metallic taste choked him, his head starting to grow light again and he realized he couldn’t even move his tongue. Looking down the boy’s eyes grew large, blood soaked his bare chest, and the dire wolf pup nibbled greedily at a soft pink organ. His eyes darted quickly to Savoie, her tiny form crouched before him with her father’s hunting knife. For the first and last time the boy got to experience Savoie’s face, lit up with joy. And then the boy simpered and fainted.
The next day the boy was missing. Two parties of men went out to search for him, assuming he had wandered off. By nightfall his family was truly worried. The next morning the first group returned. They had no news of the boy or of the other group and everyone in camp seemed hung-over and moody. Savoie stayed in her tent. By dawn the next morning the men of the second group entered into camp. Each of them wore a pale face and when they talked their mouths seemed dry and the words were forced, dazed. They wouldn’t talk about what they had seen. They only said the body had been disposed of. The family screamed their protests at not being able to bury their son. The men in the party that found that boy would later say an animal had gotten to him. They would whisper among themselves questions they dared not answer. How had his wrists been bruised and broken like that? How did the breast plate get cracked open? Why had the animal eaten so little?
It was decided that Savoie’s father would tell her the news. So he stood in front of his 12 year old daughter and she took the news with absolutely no expression on her face. Some said this showed she would make a strong leader, not swayed by fragile emotions. It was only whispered that Savoie was dead inside. “There always was something wrong with that child.” Never once was anyone in the tribe suspected of the brutality, it was unthinkable. No human would do that to one of their own. And soon the whispers died down and the tribe focused on other concerns, forgetting about the boy.
On the first day of her period, as is custom within her tribe, she was to be offered to Malach in the cave of innocence. There Malach would place judgment on the child and decide if she was fit to be returned to the tribe, fit to hold the responsibility of child bearing. So it was her father and mother, along with some of the other elders that led Savoie towards the cave. Every girl had endured this moment, every girl cried and pleaded to their people not to do this and every girl prayed to their god that he not take her. Savoie did not cry. She did not beg. And she certainly did not pray, but instead she took the chains upon her wrist in silence. She watched her father and mother as they busied themselves laying out offerings around her in an attempt to draw Malach’s attention from their daughter. She was not afraid. She found this ritual to be silly. Why would a God care about some pathetic bleeding child? The girls who had not made it through the night had been weak, picked off by lions or bears.
After her tribes people had left Savoie drifted off to sleep, perhaps out of boredom and in attempt to pass the time. It was much later that she awoke. The smell struck her first; sulfur burning her nostrils. Then fear started to creep up her toes, she trembled and desperately searched throughout the cave for someone, anyone. The panic incited a scream to attempt to rupture from her lips, but as they parted she was choked with thick sulfur that coated her mouth, tugged at her tongue and seeped throughout her body. In her head a hiss ripped apart her mind. The words screamed at her nerves and every part of her skin seemed to be burning from the inside out. She squeezed her eyes shut as waves of nails picked apart pieces of her brain.
“This is the first time you have felt fear, this will also be the last.”
The demon’s reasons had been good. He had heard hints of Nocturne’s return and wanted nothing more to offer homage that would solidify his rank. What better homage than himself? The demented forest princess was simply a bonus, someone who wouldn’t fight him once he was inside. He could see the evil in her and the possession of that and her body sweetened the deal. He cared not for her pain or her love and those were the first things he discarded as he pressed around in her mind, settling in.
“Give yourself to me.”
Just before dawn the tribe leader awoke to a sudden pressure on his chest. His eyes flew open and he reached for his broadsword that he kept by the bed, only to tug heavily at a restrained arm. Upon his chest sat a girl. Dirty, blood smeared from her pupil-less eyes to her blood covered mouth. The thing smiled down at him, teeth seeming to shift into sharp points as he watched, eye’s wide. To his credit he didn’t scream. He stared into those burning eyes and then looked the creature over. She still maintained some of her human form. The flesh that still lingered on her body hung like a snake’s skin from limbs, connected only by the tendons and blood that burned to her new skin.
“Your offering was accepted Father.” She hissed down at him, and he could see her there for a moment, but then he blinked and all he saw was a monster. It was then that he began to struggle. His eyes darted to his wife in an attempt to wake her. It was then that he screamed. And immediately the scream was cut off as the sharp arrow of her tail pierced his jugular. The steam left from his attempted scream exhaled more blood onto the little thing that was his daughter. His last memory would be of his wife. Her mouth forced open with a choke pear wound so tight that her jaw had ruptured open and sent shards of bone into her brain.
That night the screams from her village could be heard for miles and the smell of burning flesh reached all of those within miles. Some of them came to see, and they would never be the same again. The abandoned village was laid out like a nightmare. Children burned next to their mothers that remained helpless, limbless, until they had bled out. Men castrated and staked into homoerotic poses. One girl was found 2 miles from her legs, the only thing leading to her a trail of blood that she had drug with her in an attempt to escape. No one was alive.