Healer's Hood This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 14, 2011
Camille’s life wasn’t an easy one, nor was it grim. In fact, it was simple: simply full of hindrances. But she had a will that would conquer even the most trying challenges.
Camille learned death at a young age, her own father dying in front of her glossy wide eyes. She did not fear death, she just merely understood it. It was because of her father’s tragic illness that at age five she swore an oath. Camille vowed that one day she would become death’s greatest opponent; she promised she would help people cheat death on his own field. She would win his game, but whether she remembered such a declaration does not matter, for death will never forget.

~Twelve Years Later~

By the age of seventeen Camille had honored her pledge, becoming the best known healer in the region. She had cured many sicknesses and other appalling diseases. Camille meet death eye to eye, she challenged him with every patient, even when all odds were against her.

~`~`~

The messenger arrived in the dark of night; face flushed from the tired some course through the forest. Camille’s mother gradually removed the letter from the boy, opening it gracefully.

Dear Darcy,

Your mother has grown dreadfully ill and it is in our greatest suggestion that you send your daughter, Camille, to aid her grandmother. We hope she will be able to travel within time, for your mother doesn’t have much left. Please hurry.
Sincerely yours,
Albert Fredal, Windhelm healer.

Camille’s mother, Darcy, sensing that her own parent was in great danger wasted no time in awakening her daughter. Camille packed lightly, including only her necessary items and a pouch of herbs.
“Remember child, follow the deer path up to the river--,” Darcy droned.
“And take a right after the bridge.” she recited.
Her mother kissed her forehead lovingly. “Yes Dear.”
Camille hooked her hood around her neck; the rest of the shawl flowed down her back restlessly. She stuck her hands behind her neck, underneath her veil of hair. She pushed her shadowy coils out from under her cowl, tumbling down her back.
Gently Camille pushed the door open, ignoring its complaining hinges. She stepped out the door, away from the cluttered hut she called home. After steadily shutting the door she took a couple more footsteps placing her moccasin feet into the dewy grass. She lit the torch that her mother had given her as she made her way around the cottage. She smiled graciously as the flame burned on the cone in her hand. The trees that lined their backyard were the beginning of a forest. As a young girl Camille would run and play between the forest’s twisted trees with their warped branches. It was a forest that she knew well; in fact she knew every deer trail in the forest’s stretch, every bent branch, and each massive stone rock. Camille thought mutedly about her child hood as she walked through the trees. She followed the deer path habitually, which gave the impression that a small grove was wore down from the hooves of the deer that had passed over it for generations. Her feet gracefully covered the narrow path until she reached the river.
Camille placed her feet on to the flat, sturdy bridge. Each crooked ivory stone was placed into an elegant pattern throughout the bridge. The wonderful piece of art took hardly any time to cross though it would take a lot of time to build.
When she came to the wide end of the bridge she shifted her weight on her toes. She lifted her head, turning it to the left then the right. She let out a low whistle.
“What a residence,” she chimed. The trees presented the look of a dark chaotic shelter. But through Camille’s almond shaped eyes it was alluring, the silver moon just visible in the sky, with large pale trunks cascading into a wavy hollow. “It’s almost as if this was death’s dark fortress,” She mused breathlessly.
It was those delicate verses that brought her to Grimm’s attention. He snickered soundlessly, he remembered this child for she was the one who had made such a bold oath. Yes, this was the girl with a brilliant mind; she could be the prize of his collection of souls, if he could manage such a task. What Camille didn’t know was that before her own toes had touched the white stoned bridge death had already seized her grandmother, and this could be used to Grimm’s benefit.
Death scuttled to the back of his collection, grasping the one that had been denied heaven. Death placed the squirming soul into an endless black cauldron. He then poured the essence of provoking thoughts in with the soul. He pulled a wolf’s claw and a puff of wolf hair from within his robe to enhance the combination. Essence of life’s breath was added just before death slit his own wrist, pouring his own blood into the cauldron. The ingredients began to form, it created a monster. The massive silhouette resembled a wolf, it stood on its rear legs, arms matted with thick hair, and huge yellowed eyes narrowed into slits.
Death spoke to the beast, “Go to the village, Windhelm, kill each person, their bodies should be absent from the scene.” Grumbling Grimm continued his orders. “Then go to the cottage with a garden of lavenders, and wait until a young woman comes. Do not dwell on this task, kill her and come to me.” Death sent the creature out; its will bound it to his order. Nothing would stop Death from collecting her vibrant soul.

~`~`~

Camille wandered down the path until she reached the end of the line of trees. She stared at the village stretched out before her. Everything had a golden glow about it, from the fields to the straw amongst the houses.
‘Everything is so quiet.’ She thought. She followed the path of houses until she reached her grandmothers. The little shack had a “garden” that was flooded with lavenders. Gracefully Camille bent down and pinched the stem of an unfortunate flower, swiftly bringing it to her nose. She heaved a sigh as she inhaled the sugary fragrance.

~`~`~

The wolf-like-creature had carefully followed his controller’s commands, dragging the bodies out of sight. When he had reached the girl’s grandmother’s cottage he had pushed the door of the deserted hut open. He placed the lilac colored night cap over his hairy ears, and tucked his body into bed, snuggling underneath the covers. He would wait there, only the night cap visible when the girl came, it was the perfect trap.

~`~`~

Gently the door was pushed open by a smooth youthful hand, and a few supple steps were made before Camille came to an abrupt stop. Her sensitive nose could pick up on the stench of blood that stained the wolf-monster’s teeth. The door slammed shut, startling her. Camille carefully approached her grandmother’s bed. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. She could sense something wasn’t quite right. The air didn’t smell like lavenders, and it did not hold the distinct smell of sickness.
Her right hand reached forward until it touched the rough fabric of the quilt. The heavy blanket wrinkled as she pulled it back, revealing the monstrous wolf. She quickly leapt back, smacking her hand to her mouth in order to stifle her gasping shriek.
The wolf had fallen asleep as he waited for the girl. But he awoke when his comforter no longer covered his body. He opened one large yellow eye, his other eye followed in suit. His human soul stirred inside the beast’s chest. Before the wolf stood a young woman, glossy raven ringlets fell to her slim waist. Her red cloak considerably distinguished her hazel eyes and thick lashes. Her face which was contorted with sorrow had a pale complexion.
The wolf flinched as she stretched her suave hand forward, to touch his nose.
Trying to make light of the situation, Camille spoke. “What huge ears you have, and what a huge nose too, grandma.” The wolf’s paws flew to his ears, covering them from view. “Well, I distinctly remember my grandmother having small ears and a button nose, so who does that make you, sir?” She inquired as her steady hand touched the cold surface of his nose, he cringed again. “I came here to heal a person, and since my patient is replaced with you, I just thought if you were sick I could at least heal you as well.” She answered his un-asked question, removing her fingers from the black wet surface. Her words warmed his heart slightly. Camille gazed into the wolf’s pleading eyes, and for moment they didn’t seem so yellow or malicious.

She jumped back as his eyes darkened into a deep yellow, the wolf leapt up.
She let out a tinkling laugh that made the wolf freeze, “I know you’re not sick, did you think I was a novice?” Her face was calm and her eyes held empathy. “Who are you?”

The “monster” thought about this. Who was he? Was he this monster his master created? Or was he a Human being?

“I don’t think you’re a monster, I wager that you’re human. In fact, I can see it in your eyes, there is more to you than your outside appearance.”

A tear seeped from his eye, a human action. He reared on his hind legs as if fighting himself, a moral dilemma. He knew his orders, assassinate the girl, but he knew it was wrong, and so were the other kills he had already made. But the girl thought that he was something other than a beast, she thought he might be human.
He clawed at his face, he didn’t want to do this, but deaths own blood bound him. During his self-fight his left arm thrashed out, striking a heavy vase, sending it soaring, and smashing into Camille’s head. Instantly Camille lost conscious, a reaction was all it took; the wolf lunged for the falling girl, catching her just before she hit the ground. And as gently as his huge paws would allow him he carried the girl, bridal style, to her grandmother’s bed. It was that moment that he made another impulsive verdict, he would not murder the girl, and he’d rather take his own life than do such a horrible feat. His heart was warming, but he wasn’t aware of it.

What death hadn’t known was that even though the soul was denied heaven, it was never evil or vile; it just simply hadn’t had the experience of love. In friendship or marriage, it never had the opportunity, but now was its chance. Such a chance overcame the magic, working its own magic, transforming more than just his heart.


~`~`~

Camille fluttered an eyelid open, pulling her covers closer. A wet sponge patted her fore head, water rolled onto her closed lids. She smiled softly, mumbling nonsense in her sleepy state. Keeping her eyes closed she rolled over before giving in to her awakening senses. Her eyes flickered open before widening into vast orbs. She smiled at the stranger above her; she thought dimly that if this man had wanted to harm her he would have already done so. She regarded her surroundings.
“Hello stranger,” she spoke sleepiness drugging her voice, “hem, where’d you come from?”
He chuckled lightly waiting for her head to clear more before he answered, “I was here before you arrived.”
She sat up slightly, propping herself on her forearms and elbows. “You were?” She furrowed her eyes in confusion. “I don’t remember you being here, I remember a…a wolf and his eyes…” she trailed off. She lifted her head to meet his gaze, she could drown in his eyes, they held a topaz iris lined in a chocolate halo. They looked oddly familiar, she gasped, this time not bothering to cover her mouth. “But… how?”
“I’m not for sure, I think it’s the fact that you gave me a chance.” His eyes bored into the floor boards. “I don’t think its permanent, I did some unpleasant things under my master’s orders, but I still did them. I think it’s a punishment, the night death made me a monster was on a full moon, I think…” his voice trembled, “I think that every full moon I will be the beast.” He looked down ashamed.
Camille leaned forward, skipping out of bed. She waltzed over to the embarrassed man, placing her fingers under his chin. She tilted her head, peering into the golden eyes, “you are who you are, never hang your head low.” She gave him a genuine smile, “and if you were wondering, my name is Camille Larson.”
He couldn’t contain his grin, “Aiden, Aiden Hart.” He ran his human hand through his handsome dark hair. “Mademoiselle, would you like an escort home?”
~`~`~

“And through the years Aiden and Camille found love, in marriage and friendship. Eventually, they grew old and so did their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s children, and many generations after that.” The elder woman exclaimed.
The little girls “awed” and the boys protested that there wasn’t enough fight scenes.
“Death eventually collected his souls, which were claimed by old age but seized away from him by heaven’s angels. And for ruining so many lives death was casted below the ground, where only evil spirits can go.” This time it was the little boys turn to cheer.
The old woman smiled at her children’s children. “Now you must pass on the legend of the Healer’s hood, the true story, not a certain red riding hood version.” The children nodded solemnly before being hushed to bed.





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