The first spring thaw had finally come. The snow and ice had all begun to melt in earnest. Two young boys ventured beyond the safety of the village and into the Direwood. They pranced along on this warm day shouting and encouraging each other to go deeper into this forbidden place.
“Come on, Joseph,” called the older of the two boys.
Joseph responded, “Aww Tobias, slow up you’re going too fast. Besides you don’t know where it is, I do.” With great impatience, Tobias halted his step and waited.
When the younger, smaller boy finally caught up he said, “Well… where are we going?”
Joseph looked around for a moment and then said, “Ahh, here… I marked the trees like this,” pointing at a pine with a mark cut into it. The two boys wound their way through the forest following the markings as they went. Tobias was starting to get impatient and was about to say they should turn back when the woods opened into a clearing.
“Here, here it is… look over there,” Joseph exclaimed. As they drew closer to the center of the clearing Tobias could see more clearly. It was a statue… no… it was a woman frozen in place. The ice encapsulating her had begun to melt and you could clearly see her. She was wearing animal skins and held a staff in her hands. It was as if she had just been captured by the ice mid-step.
“I told you it was someone,” Joseph said excitedly as he took a stone and started to chip at the ice.
Tobias grabbed him and said, “What are you doing?”
The younger boy smiled and said, “She told me she wants to be free.”
Tobias looked at his brother and then the frozen corpse. “Told you? She’s dead, no one can survive that.” As he looked at the corpse the eyes suddenly moved coming to focus on him. Startled he pulled his brother back a few feet.
“We need to get out of here and tell someone. Come on, Joseph,” the older boy said shaken. The young man who still had a stone he had picked up somewhere suddenly threw it at the woman. It bounced off the surface and a moment later there was a loud cracking sound. The boys covered their ears and cowered at the sound as it reverberated throughout the woods. A moment later, where the block of ice had stood was a woman brushing off bits of frost.
She was younger than he appeared in the ice and after she had managed to clear the ice her gaze fell upon the boys. Tobias went to position himself before his brother, but Joseph sprang forth to greet this woman. She smiled as he drew close and in a singsong voice said, “You have my thanks young man, and here is your reward.”
She raised her hand towards the approaching boy and he suddenly fell over, grunting in pain. Tobias watched in horror as his brother’s form changed. His hands become paws fur grew out covering him. Within a few moments, he stood back up on all fours a large black wolf. He padded over towards the woman and she laid a hand on him and his tail wagged back and forth.
She looked up from her new familiar and Tobias could see her eyes were red. She smiled and he saw pointed teeth. His mind thought back to the warning of a witch within this wood. Panic filled him he turned to run. He heard the beast that was once his brother coming after him.
He was overtaken and screamed for help as his once brother began to tear him apart. “Please… Joseph…. Please,” he begged. But if there was anything human left in the animal it could not hear him.
As he lay there bleeding, he watched her walk up over the top of him and simply say, “Yes, yes you can eat him.” He was still alive as his brother began to tear open his belly and eat his entrails. The witch simply stood there smiling.