Rawhead and Bloody Bones
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Rawhead and Bloody Bones

Steals naughty children from their homes,

Takes them to his dirty den,

And they are never seen again

-Old Southern Nursery Rhyme

Once, many years ago, there was an old woman. She was an outcast from her town, forced to live in the woods. This woman was a witch, you see, and the town was full of righteous God-fearing men and women who did not wish to risk her damning them to the inferno. So she was ostracized, forced to live in the woods without any human contact.

She did have one friend, however. A mighty wild boar with a twisted face and fearsome tusks. The creature’s grotesque appearance scared away others of its kind, The old witch discovered the beast in a ditch, and took it in as her one companion. So the two lived together in a small cottage, away from society.

One day, while the old witch was gathering vegetables from her garden, she spotted a young woman stumbling through the woods. The witch called out to her.

“Child, what are you doing here?”

The woman froze, eyes wide.

“Please!” The woman begged, “Don’t hurt me witch! I don’t mean to trespass!”

The witch simply laughed.

“I do not harm others,” She said with a smile, “The town misunderstands. Magic should never be used to hurt another. Magic is meant to heal, to grow. Magic gives back what you give out to the world. Still, I must ask why you are here, child?”

The woman cautiously stepped towards the witch before falling over. The witch rushed over to her, realizing that the girl’s leg had been broken. With a disapproving click of the tongue, the witch crafted a healing salve from her garden and gave it to the woman. The woman’s eyes went wide again, this time with wonder rather than fear, as her leg was healed in an instant. She thanked the old witch and returned to town, and the witch finished gathering from her garden.

The next day, while the old witch was brushing her beloved boar, she spotted the woman again. This time there was a large bruise up her arm.

“Child,” She called out, “Why have you returned?”

“I wished to thank you properly for yesterday,” The woman responded, holding out a basket of flowers, “But I became lost and fell.”

The old witch gave a disapproving click of the tongue, and crafted another salve for the woman. With gratitude, the woman gave the witch the flowers she had gathered and returned to town.

And so it continued. Day after day the woman returned, each day bearing a new injury. A sprained ankle, a dislocated shoulder, each day brought a new way for her body to be twisted and harmed. The old witch healed her each time, and each time the woman had a new excuse for her injuries. Finally, fed up with excuses, the old witch asked her for the truth.

“The truth?” She said, “The truth is that the other townspeople despise me. I was a bastard child, and they deride me for it. You are the only soul who has ever shown me kindness. I am an abomination to the face of God.”

“Nonsense,” The old witch responded, “There is none in His creation that he despises. You are just as wonderful as any other there.”

The old witch thought for a moment as she stroked the boar, and an idea came to her.

“Allow me to teach you. I will show you the secrets of magic I have learned over the years, and you can use it to see how truly wonderful the world can be.”

The woman, with sparkling eyes, agreed. Her daily visits continued, each time learning what she could. She was not skilled, but she was a wonderful student. The old witch was proud of her pupil.

“Remember,” The old witch said to her pupil after a day of lessons, “Magic is the manifestation of the divine, of emotion and passion. You get back what you give out. Magic should never be used to harm, and never for malicious intents.”

The woman knew this lesson well. That night, she began putting her craft into practice. It was a simple spell, an enchantment on the fields of crops the local farmers grew. With this, surely they would grow strong. This continued for several nights, with the woman enchanting the fields with hopes that the town would see how wonderful magic could be. A week later, however, the farmers woke up to find their fields barren. Surely, a curse had been laid upon them!

Believing that the old witch in the woods was responsible for this heinous crime, a mob descended on her home. They broke down the old witch’s door, and were confronted by her beloved boar. With their forks and sickles, they hacked the boar to bits. The mighty creature had finally been hunted.

They found the witch in her bed. With the same tools they killed her boar, they ripped her to shreds and took her head as proof of their victory. The mob gathered the remains of the old witch and the boar and threw them in a nearby bog to rot before returning home.

The next day the woman arrived at the old witch’s home to report her mistake and learn how to undo it, only to find the home empty. She searched for the witch, only to find her bloodied remains floating in the bog the mob had left her. The woman weeped, a deep, mournful sound, at the loss of her only friend. When no more tears fell, the woman sought to revive her. She gathered the remains that she could find and rebuilt the old witch’s body. Unable to find her head, however, the woman placed the head of the old witch’s boar atop the body. With the most powerful magic she knew, the woman attempted to revive the old witch, thinking of the people who had done this to her.

The pile of bloodied bones shuddered before shambling to a perverse approximation of life. The boar skull’s eye sockets glowed with a hellish fire as the creature, no longer human, shambled towards the woman that created it. The woman screamed in fear and fled.

That night, the creature snuck into town, its arrival heralded by a disapproving clicking sound. Finding one of the men who had killed it, the creature slashed his ankles and dragged him off into the woods. It returned to its bog, sinking into the waters below and dragging the man down behind it as it slowly feasted upon him. This continued night after night, the creature continuing to sneak into town to find someone to drown and eat. The woman who created it watched in horror as people continued to vanish, until she made the decision to lay what was once her friend to rest.

The woman approached the bog and dug a grave. She gathered the bloody bones and raw boar head from the mire and dropped them in, burying them and laying flowers atop. Surely her friend could finally be laid to rest? To her horror, however, a skeletal hand erupted from the grave and grabbed her ankles. The woman fell over as the creature rose from the depths, its boar head shining in the moonlight with eyes of crimson fire. The woman screamed as she too was dragged off to the bog, never to be seen again.

Rawhead and Bloody Bones still haunts the town to this day, searching for its lost head. It is said that it wanders into town each night, heralded by its horrible clicking. It snatches up those who wander about late at night and takes them back to its den to feast upon them. Those who still live in the town claim that you can still hear the wailing of the woman who created the creature in the woods, mourning the loss of her only friend.

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