Dearest reader, do you know the story of Little Red Riding Hood? Yes, you say? True, this is a story well known to most, passed down from one generation to the next. Though I must confess to you, dear reader, that over time the story has been altered and altered until the very essence of the story itself is no longer what it once was. How do I know, you ask? Because I was there, silly. Kindly lend me your ears and permit me to tell you the story as it was originally told in time and time immemorial. It's a very interesting story which starts on a bright and sunny day, much like today in fact.
The sun was shining on high that day, shining brilliantly as could be, illuminating the heavens from horizon to horizon as it went. The sky was clear as the day and was empty as it was devoid of all clouds to be seen in any direction for miles upon miles, from horizon to horizon. The green, green grass was practically glowing in the spirit of the moment on the day he walked by on his way to the Enchanted Forest. The Huntsman was as brave and strong as any man could be, and with a mighty reserve of courage to boot, and a good and honest heart beating within his brawny chest. On this day, as with all days which proceeded it, he walked with a mighty purpose in each step he took.
As he entered the Enchanted Forest, the mood of the world became decidedly somber. The more he walked, the darker the very aura of the world around him became. Soon the light of the outside world had almost completely faded as massive trees as dark as night reached out and carried away the light and left scarcely enough to see through the darkness they created. As always, an ominous fog held in the wind, further adding to the feeling of despair one felt whenever they came near the forest, let alone were stupid enough to walk into it. Now, when people think of the Enchanted Forest, they think of a place of magic and wonder. Little do they know how truly ominous, how dangerous the forest really was in these days. Dark things lived here once upon a time. Things so beastly and terrible and of unspeakable, unimaginable horror. Thus, the Enchanted Forest was a place few ever visited.
It should be worth mentioning; however, that the Huntsman was not one of the common crowd. He had a cunning all his own which no other man could match and a fierce instinct which had kept him alive and relatively unharmed each time he entered the forest. This he did, time and time again so that he could do what no other man could; clear the forest of all the monstrous, innumerable cruelties which dwelt deeply within. This he had been doing for many, many years, and had killed many a foul beast which inherited this terrible earth, but he knew that his work would never cease until he dealt with the very heart of the problem; for of all the horrors which dwelt here, there was one far more terrible than all the others. One so fearsome that all other horrid creatures in time came to view it as the undisputed head of the pack, the dominate force which dictated their actions; the alpha male.
With it dead, the others would scatter like leaves in the wind, and the Enchanted Forest would forever be cleansed of all the evil. This was the dreaded Wolf, whose eyes shown with a fury darker than any hell imaginable to man, whose fur always stood on end like the main of a mighty lion, and who was to be forever coated in the blood of its countless victims. This was a creature of a terrible cunning and resolve which truly only the Huntsman could match. Over the years the Wolf had completely wiped out entire populations of many of the villages which were once scattered all along the now empty countryside. It would strike in the dead of night, never making a sound so that by morning nothing would remain amongst the living. This it did with a ruthless efficiency which no other beast could ever hope to match. Yet the beast always remained hidden in between such acts so that it became all but impossible to hunt down. The Huntsman had been on its trail for many years, but always he left the forest never any nearer to learning just where the Wolf laid its head down in-between acts. A better tracker there was none, but in spite of his unbelievable talents and himself, he simply could never find the Wolf. Always some other lesser beast, but never the Wolf. But he kept coming back, time after time despite his failings, on a mission he would never cease.
Once again he found himself on the hunt. He moved through the darkly lit forest as quietly as could be. The forest was as eerily quiet as it always was for some unknown reason, but this was not to last; soon he heard a rustling in the forest just ahead of himself which peaked his interest. This in spite of the fact that he knew beyond knowing that this would not be the Wolf as he knew the Wolf was far too careful to be this noisy as to give away its presence. Despite that, he crept forward anyway, with his dagger at the ready and his bow held in reserve, using the trees to hide his formidable figure from what little sight there was to have. Whatever it was, it drew nearer and nearer until it was practically on him, so that he jumped from his cover, ready for whatever may come. Or so he thought, for the first thing which greeted him was the frightened shriek which emanated from a small creature so low to the ground that he very nearly overlooked it. Unprepared to face something so small, he backed up and looked to the lowly place on the ground where the tiny creature lay, and was greeted by the sight of a very young girl, hiding behind a red cloak, and a red hood which very nearly covered the entire length of her delicate face. A face which was hidden from viewing as she had her hands raised to cover her eyes as she was crying and cowering in fear for her very life.
Though he did not know her name, the girl was known throughout the countryside as Little Red Riding Hood, after the red cloak she always wore so that he quickly came to the realization of just who she was. So he came down to her, and he took her in his arms and he asked her, "Little girl, little girl; why are you here in these horrible woods? Surly you must know of the dangers which reside here.". So she answered, with the trembling and delicate voice of a newborn babe, "Kind sir, kind sir; I was visiting my dearest Grandmother, who resides here in these horrible woods.". He asked her, with a voice filled with growing concern, "But there is no cabin in the woods here, have you made yourself lost?".
"No," she answered him, never taking her face away from her hands, "I was running away, for a great and terrible Wolf with a main like that of a mighty lion and fur of crimson came to the cabin in the woods. Right before my eyes, it mauled and devoured my dearest Grandmother, such as I was without power to halt its terrible advance!', crying even harder, she continued on with her terrible tale, "So that when it was finished with my dearest Grandmother it turned and faced me with a mouth dripping of blood, and what big eyes it had! Eyes which shown with a fury darker than any hell imaginable to man!". And all at once, the Huntsman knew. He knew that her story was true and that the moment was converging on a time which would forever alter all that he knew.
At last, he finally held the trail of the Wolf in front of him. For a time, he looked on into the darkness of the forest, as if he sensed his destiny in the wind. Still holding the small girl in his arms, he looked onto her and spoke," Little girl, little girl; surly you must show me the way, for beyond these trees I am a stranger and do not know the way to the cabin in the woods. Take me there and I shall kill the Wolf, once and for all.".
"Kind sir, kind sir; truly you jest, as the task of which you have spoken is an impossible one. For countless others have tried in you stead, and none have survived! I am afraid you would surly share in this terrible fate!", she cried out to him, never looking at him. But all this served to do was to fill him with a terrible resolve.
So he spoke in turn, "Be not afraid, as I am not. For many years have I slaughtered countless beasts, so that I will not be without experience.". And all at once the young girl was reassured that his words were true.
Though she was still crying, she managed to speak in between sobs, "If I 'sob' show you the way 'sob', do you promise 'sob' to avenge my dearest Grandmother?" Rocking her as he spoke, he answered her, "My fair one, I promise you this; that this day one of us shall die, be it the Wolf or myself. But before my dying breath I swear to you by my own heart that I shall avenge her, come whatever may.".
Now knowing that there would be no turning around by this point, she spoke in a voice as soft as velvet, "If this be your wish, and if you so promise to me by your own heart, I shall show you the way to the cabin in the woods." And with this, she got up of the lowly spot which she had inherited before his feet and walked into the darkness of the forest which proceeded them. He followed her into the darkness, never able to fully catch up to her as she was small enough to walk under the foliage, so instead he stayed behind her. Several times did he lose her in the darkness, that he very nearly lost her completely before she showed herself to him, calling him to her. "This way!", she would cry out.
Deeper and deeper into the woods did she lead him, and the further they got the darker the world seemed to become. They went on like this for an indeterminable length of time so that he very nearly began to question if there even was such a cabin in the woods, but as he started to ponder this, they came upon a clearing in the dark forest. And in the middle of this shaded clearing there stood an old and small cabin; the cabin in the woods. Before him stood the girl, pointing as he stared. As he walked up to her, she spoke not a word, so he did so instead. "Little girl, little girl; I thank you for showing me the way. But now I must ask of you to leave this foul place, and make the return journey home for your own safety for I fear what is to become of you if you stay.".
"No", she answered him, "I want to be here when you kill the beast. To satisfy the desires in my own heart.".
Now knowing that nothing he could say would ever change her mind, he said to her, "If this be your wish, then so be it; all I ask is that you wait outside the cabin in the woods that I may tend to the terrible task at hand." Leaving her where she stood, the Huntsman walked slowly up to the cabin, dagger drawn as he went. No noise came from the cabin, which was to be expected; if the Wolf were to be still within the cabin, it would have known to make not a sound so as not to raise even the slightest of suspicion. As he quietly walked up to the cabin, he looked around for any sign that the Wolf may have been present at any time; he found none. Not a branch broken, nor any unusually disturbed leaves. But even this failed to surprise him, as he was by now well aware of what the beast was capable of. If the beast had ever left such trails as that, then he would have long ago tracked it and killed where it slept.
Before he knew it, he found himself at the door to the cabin. He knew that even if the Wolf was as of yet unaware of his presence, if he tried to quietly sneak through the closed door he would alert the beast to his presence before he was prepared to strike. He knew that he had but one course of action available to him, and this was to force his way through the door, come what may. It was really all he had time for, as any further delay gave the beast time to detect him. So, never looking back, he burst through the door and found himself fully inside the cabin, and as he did so, he pivoted that he may be ready for whatever came at him. But what he saw once his senses caught up to the rest of him took him so by surprise that he could scarcely believe what he was seeing.
There, in the cabin, right before his very eyes, there was nothing. There was no blood, no body, no bed. There was no furniture at all to speak of. There was nothing at all, par from the four empty walls of the blatantly empty cabin. There was certainly no wolf to be seen. He continued to gaze all around the cabin in disbelief. He was speechless. Truly, he did not know what to think. As he turned all about, he came to the remains of the door to the cabin in the woods. There, before him, stood the young girl, cloaked in the red cloak and the red hood. Upon seeing her there, he asked her, "Where is the Wolf?". He could see her face clearly now. He stared blankly into her eyes. And in her face, she wore a look of greatest confusion. It was as if she had known something all along and was surprised he never became aware of it. Then, at last, she spoke, "I am the Wolf.", and she promptly mauled and devoured him...