Synopsis:

You all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl who got tricked by the Big Bad Wolf and a strapping young hunter swoops in last minute to save the day. But what if the story you are hearing is not what took place, what if the story has been twisted to a point where it is unrecognizable? But why? To preserver in listeners exactly what was lost in the story- innocence. I want to share with you the true story, a story you were never meant to hear. The story of a family of sorceresses who scorn men, and one sorceress in particular who learns to scorn herself. It is a story of casualties, of misplaced trust, and of revenge. A story where a heart grows darker by the day, and the soul darker still. All in the name of love. Welcome, listener, to the life of Valerie, a girl with a Red Riding Hood.

"Never leave the path, Valerie, immense evils live off the silver path."

What evils lay off the path, and could it really be as dark as the secrets that await her within her own family? With the help of a 'man' she will discover what true evil is, and just how dark a soul can turn.

-Melayna (Hope this has caught your attention- enjoy!)

"Once upon a time there was little girl who lived in the forest with her Mother. Down a silver path in the forest lived the little girl's Grandmother. They all loved each other very, very much. Every Wednesday, the little girl and her Mother would walk to her Grandmother's cottage to deliver some baked goods. But one day the Mother said that the little girl had to go by herself because the Mother had to go to the Secret Garden. The little girl gladly accepted the task of going alone; she was excited that her Mother trusted her. Before they set off, the Mother warned the little girl not to go off the silver path, or bad things will happen. The little girl took that to heart and never once strayed off the path. Now the little girl is grown up and has a little girl of her own."

"That is me!"

"That is right, dear, that is you. And you'll be a good girl like Mommy and never stray off the path, right?"

"Right! Because bad, bad things live off the path, and only Mommy and Granny are safe!"

"There is a good girl. Today is the day you go to Grandma's cottage all by yourself, because now this Mommy needs to go to the Secret Garden. Only on Wednesdays am I able to pick what I need."

"Why is that?"

"That is tippity top secret, dear. You will find out when it is time for you to be a Mommy. Now, go to the broom closet and fetch me the parcel with a bow."

The little girl slipped off her mother's lap and raced to the closet, throwing open the door and snatching the package. "Oh, what pretty red wrapping!" exclaimed the little girl. She seated herself at her Mother's feet and looked up at her, waiting for her queue.

"Happy birthday, my little girl," the Mother cooed. With that, the girl carefully peeled off the paper covering her parcel. Opening the wooden box, the girl gasped with glee.

"Do you like it?"

"Oh! I do!" Out of the box emerged a red hooded cloak as vibrant as the wrapping paper. The girl put it on at once and threw her arms around her Mother's neck, planting a kiss on her cheek.

"Now, now, Valerie, I need to be on my way if I want to go to the Secret Garden today. The basket for your Gran is on the table. Be a good girl now and remember the story," the Mother got out of her chair, grabbed the secret pouch from the shelf and swept to the doorway, pausing to tell Valerie, "And, dear? You may stay the night at Granny's house tonight to celebrate your birthday. Mommy might be a little late coming home from the Secret Garden." And with that she disappeared.

That was the start of everything; and this? This is the story of how a girl, adorned with a red riding hood, comes to posses the power to herd people like trembling sheep with the help of a big, bad wolf.

"Oh my, just look at my beautiful Granddaughter! And how old are you today?"

"I'm six, Granny."

"That's right. And what a handsome cape you have. Is it from your Mother?"

"Yes it is, and I am told that I look best in red, so I will never, ever take it off!" This exclamation alarmed Granny, for surly Mother would not stoke the girl's vanity.

"And just who told you that?"

"Is it not true, Granny?" Valerie asked with such an aggrieved face that Granny had to agree.

"It is true that red is very becoming on you, but pray, who said it?" Granny picked up the red clad girl and sat her on her knee.

"A strange creature along the path, Granny. It looked very much like me, but I could just tell that it was not exactly like me. I was walking very serious like, as I do with Mommy, and I hear, 'Why do you look like you are walking to school and a sunny day like this?', and do you know what I said? Nothing!- just like I was told. But then it said, 'Why are you wearing a riding hood when you are walking? And such a startling color.', and I said, 'Oh! Isn't it?' but I realized that I had talked to it, so I turned to it real quick and stuck my tongue out at it, like this," Valerie stuck her tongue out as far as she could stretch it to show her Grandmother, "and then started to walk faster."

"Oh, dear, you have met with a great evil. You did good to walk away as you did. Never leave the path, my little red hooded girl. So let us talk no more of this and put these lovely flowers in a vase."

Valerie did not tell her Granny that she had stopped to talk with it, and learnt the creature was called a 'boy', or that she traded one of the bread rolls for the flowers. She knew she would be punished, and it was only her first time walking alone.

"Mother said I could stay over, Granny." Valerie announced proudly, forgetting that her conscience should be plagued by her deceit.

They passed the night by the fire, reading and talking of childhood fantasies and imaginary friends. Granny always knew exactly what Valerie wanted or needed, she was the best confidante a six year old could want.

The years passed quickly and Valerie never again saw a boy in the forest, but it never faded from her mind. Boys were not in her book of wildlife, or plant life, and Mother and Granny never spoke of them. They occasionally spoke of 'evil' when they were sharing confidence and believed Valerie to be asleep, but spoke of it in such encrypted and vague speeches that she couldn't make any sense of it.

"Now, go to the broom closet and fetch me the parcel with the bow."

Valerie got up from her mother's feet and rushed to the closet, throwing open the door and snatching the package. "Oh, what a pretty red bow!" exclaimed the maturing girl. She seated herself at her Mother's feet again and looked up at her, waiting for her queue.

"Happy birthday, my little girl," cooed Mother.

"I'm not so little anymore," laughed Valerie as she gently peeled off the wrapping paper.

"I suppose not, you are almost ready to be a Mother, just two more years now." Mother gravely said.

"Oh, Mother, that is far off yet. Oh my! What a deep scarlet!" From the box emerged two scarlet pearl earrings the color of a bead of blood. "They're beautiful, Mother! Thank you!" The girl put them on at once and planted a kiss on Mother's cheek.

"Red always has looked the best on you, Miss Red Riding Hood. You've been wearing that same cloak for ten years now, is it not time for a new one?"

"Oh, Granny promised that if I come to visit her today, she will give me a new one that same color, only longer." Valerie laughed, tugging of the bottom of her cloak, only reaching to her waist. "May I go?"

"Then away with you, girl, for I must be away today as well."

"But Mother, it is not Wednesday today so surely you can have nowhere to go. Come with me to Granny's."

"No, Red, I must go to the Secret Garden. It is urgent, and I am sorry for it." Valerie wanted to ask questions and Mother could see it in her eyes and on her lips. "Be away with you, Grandmother has more for you than just a hood." That curiosity beat out the former, and so Valerie packed up the cake and wine to bring to Granny's home while Mother stole away to the Secret Garden.

With her basket covered up, Valerie started off on the familiar silver path. The bushes beside the path started to rustle and from it came a voice.

"Why do you look like you're walking to school and a sunny day like this?"

The memories of ten years ago came flooding back like a tidal wave of ice, those were the words the 'boy' spoke. The voice was deep and not at all like her own as the 'boy's was. Her head slowly, carefully started to turn towards the bush with the voice and where then a figure stood.

"You look better in red than I remember."

The figure was large, looking similar to her in some ways but too drastically different in others. It had hair on its chin and cheeks, although not long, it was still there. What she presumed was its shoulders, based off her own anatomy, were very broad. Its chest, however, was flat compared to hers.

"What are you?" Valerie asked, as slow and cautious as she had moved her head.

''You don't remember me? We've met once before, ten years ago. Or maybe it was someone else with a red riding hood?" It looked like it was teasing her.

"You don't look like a 'boy'." She accused.

"That's because I am a man now."

"What is a 'man'?" The term sounded familiar in a way. Had she heard it from her Mother or Granny?

"What are you?" It questioned.

"I am a woman today." Her chest puffed up with pride.

"Then what were you yesterday?" It prodded further.

"A girl..." She didn't know what it was getting at.

"Then as you were once a girl, I was once a boy. Now you are a woman and I am a man." It looked triumphant at its comparison.

"What species are you?" She could not quite understand what it was saying.

"We are the same species, don't you see? I am a 'man' and you are a wo-'man', it's in our title." It laughed.

Valerie thought about it for a moment but couldn't get her head around it, so instead of staying to talk more she turned back to the path and continued on her way. So she had heard the word 'man' before.

"Hey, wait a minute! Can we not talk some more?"

"About what?" Valerie didn't look way from the silver path.

"About why you do not know what a man is but can walk in the forest by yourself?" She didn't answer, she had no answer. 'Boys' and 'Mans' weren't in any of her books, and yet it wants her to believe that it is human? "All right, then how about we start with names? What is your name?"

She stopped for a moment to respond, "Valerie," before continuing on her way.

"Well, Valerie, my name is Henrie." It walked beside the silver path, watching her for a reaction. Although she showed no reaction, inside the fact it had a name made what it said sink in. She showed no signs of continuing the conversation, so Henrie asked, "Where are you going?"

"To my Grandmother's house," was her curt response.

It nodded in understanding but said nothing more, simply walking beside her, off the path, until they came to a bend and Valerie stopped. "You have to leave now; you can't be seen by Granny. I'm not allowed to talk to anything off the path, so please go away or you will get me into trouble."

It smiled at her, "Can I see you again tomorrow?"

"No."

"Well then I must walk you to your Grandmother's door." Its eyes were twinkling, scheming.

"Meet me here tomorrow, three past noon." She took off at a high speed down the path. A smile crept across its face before turning around and leaving.

"How does it look, Granny?" Valerie spun around in her new red cape, pulling the hood over her head.

"Red, my dear, you look wonderful. It goes very well with your new pearls, too." Valerie tucked her hair behind her ear in response to the praise. "Just look at my beautiful granddaughter. And how old are you today?" Valarie laughed, she knew that Granny never really forgot her age.

"I'm sixteen, Granny."

"Oh my, I do feel old. Come, take a seat. I have two surprises for you today. There now, the first is that you have progressed to the next stage of your training."

"You mean—"

"Yes, you will start the advanced spells today. You need to work harder on your potions to balance yourself, however." Valerie threw herself at her Granny, the excitement overflowing.

"I promise to work harder on my potions!"

"Very well, settle down." Valerie tried to compose herself back in her seat. "The other surprise is that today, I will teach you about a woman's counterpart, our opposite."

"And what is that, Granny?"

"Men."