The Sacred Maiden
I wrote a short legend for a bigger project that’s keeping my mind occupied when I’m not working or playing games. I wanted to share this with you as it’s one of the first things I’ve finished in a while and want to know if you like it. This is not the only story. I’m planning more short stories, kind of like this one. There will be at least one or two more stories and the girl and why she is considered sacred.
Read on for the story and let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is encouraged.
The Sacred Maiden
There once was a girl who lived at the very edge of the village with her parents. Her father was a woodcutter and her mother did woodcarving when she wasn’t doing work around the house. Once a week the girl and her mother would go the market to sell the carving and buy all the necessities. Her father sold his chopped wood to the neighbors. Both her parents loved her very much. Although they did want a sibling for her, it never happened. That’s why her parents tried to give her all that she needed and the girl, even when she had only seen ten summers, was very grateful for all her parents did for her.
One night a group of bandits came to the cottage at night. They wanted all they money the family had, but they weren’t satisfied when they saw the small amount. There had to be hidden treasures somewhere. The bandits killed the girl’s father and beat up her mother. The bandits hadn’t noticed her yet, so she tried to escape. Just when she snuck out of the window, the guy who stood watch saw her, yelled to his comrades and chased after her. She knew the forest better than most people as she came often with her father to look for good trees. During these outings she played a lot of hide and seek and she was confident that she would be able to hide from the man chasing her.
She knew of a natural well deep within the forest where she would be able to hide the night and she knew how to get there fast. A grown man would have difficulty taking the same path as it involved crouching through a small opening between rocks. The darkness was another advantage for her. Her pursuer didn’t know the forest as well as she did and fell and stumbled more often than was necessary with the right foot placement. When she reached the opening between the rocks. The man almost grabbed her. He cursed as he saw her light night-gown disappear in the darkness.
The girl knew it was only a short run towards a big, hollow tree at the side of the well. She often hid there when she wanted to be alone. The tree was strategically placed between rose bushes and poison ivy, but she had made a small opening in the bushes to reach the perfect hiding place.
When she passed through the bushes, she heard the bandit screaming for her. She panicked and rushed through. A piece of her gown got caught on the thorns, but she didn’t notice until the man had entered the clearing. The piece of cloth hung the corner of the bush and didn’t show that she passed through instead of away from the clearing. The man got excited and sprinted out of the clearing again in the direction the cloth had indicated. The girl was relieved when she didn’t her his footsteps anymore. She was too scared to come out and so she fell asleep.
The next morning she woke up and the aches in her body, her dirty gown and her hard bed reminded her that the robbery and chase were real. Then she realized what those men had done to her father and she hoped that her mother was still alive. Tears welled up, but she knew it wasn’t time for that yet. She wasn’t safe yet. She couldn’t protect herself here if it was necessary. She had to reach her neighbor’s house and then find her way to her uncle and aunt’s place a few villages away. That’s where her mother would’ve gone to, if she was still alive. Going back was not an option. She didn’t want to see her dead father and they might still be in the area.
She listened to see if anyone was around, but she heard birds singing and thought it was safe. She came out of her hiding spot, carefully, and looked around. She saw no one and took the chance to eat some berries from the bush closest to the well. After that she washed her face and drank some water. When she opened her eyes, she saw the reflection of a man standing behind her. He grinned, grabbed her by her neck and forced her face into the water until her lungs filled up with water.
The man tied a strong rock to the little girl’s body and threw her into the well, where no one could find her. He left the clearing, searching for his way back to the cottage. His friends would still be there with food and ale they found. It wasn’t easy, because there was nothing he recognized. He heard branches snap behind him. He slowly turned around to see a giant stag looking at him. The stag moved towards him with greater speed with each step. The man was petrified. He tried to move his legs, but his body didn’t respond to any of his impulses. The stag’s great, sharp antlers bow forward and pierced the man’s body on impact. A voice told him his life would pay for his crimes committed against the girl. His friends would all be killed once they left the cottage. The girl was sacred to this forest because for who she was. The ignorance of the man, for he didn’t see who she was, had cost him his life and the lives of his friends.
The stag led fellow woodcutters, friends of the girl’s father, to the well and helped them find her body. The stag told them what happened and that the girl should not be forgotten. Her spirit chose to stay here, as it was her duty. The villagers soon made a shrine and named her the guardian of the forest. They knew she was close when they saw the stag. After that, the villagers often received help in the forest whenever they needed. And all that was evil or had the wrong intentions was send away to keep the village safe.