The Story of Bonehilda

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve heard the stories. A skeleton lady called Bonehilda living in a mansion somewhere down in the Forgotten Hollow. And if you have done your horror stories homework, you also know that a vampire by the name of Count Vladislaus Straud IV supposedly originates from the Forgotten Hollow, as well.

Do you believe in coincidences? You shouldn’t.

Because the story of Bonehilda begins with a very young Vlad Straud.

08-21-20_3-22-24 PM08-21-20_3-24-25 PM08-21-20_3-27-31 PM

As a young boy, Vladislaus and his sister Hilda were inseparable. They spent all their time playing together. Hilda loved her brother very much, and he loved her. And as they grew older, they remained best friends. They helped each other through the difficult times, especially after their parents had died. Hilda was all Vlad had left – until she was taken away from him, too.

She was sick. They found it too late. There was nothing anyone could do. There was nothing Vlad could do. Not in time to prevent her death, at least.

But he didn’t give up hope. There must be something. Something… magical. And so he traveled the world, looking for the Greatest Witch Naomi. At first she felt not a single bit of compassion for the Count. But he went back the next day. And the next day. And he begged. And after a year, nine months, three weeks and 6 days, Naomi changed her mind. Impressed with his dedication and sacrifice, she told him about a Resurrection Ritual that would bring back Hilda.

“There’s only one thing…” Naomi said.

“Name it. Anything. I’ll do anything.” Vlad groveled.

“Anything?” She raised an eyebrow. “Straud, let me ask you. Have you ever… killed someone?”

He raised his eyes to hers. “Never,” he said, “but I will for her.”

“The Ritual demands a certain… sacrifice. A virgin, on the night of her wedding.”

He swallowed. “Then it must be done,” he said, trying to sound more calm and collected than he was. “Anything else?”

The Witch smiled. “As for my payment… I will need… you.”

“You mean m-my… soul?”

“No, I mean you. I want you to work for me. You will be blessed with great power, an immortal life, and the opportunity of a life time as my personal… let’s say delivery guy. You will be picking up something somewhere and take it to another location. Easy-peasy. There will be a few… minor side effects, but nothing you can’t work around, I’m sure.”

A silence hung in between them for a while. Vlad sighed.

“Well, I already said I’d do anything. As long as I get her back. So, yes.”

After the Witch handed him the tome for the Ritual, she collected her payment. Vlad wasn’t quite sure what he expected, but it definitely wasn’t this. She waved her hand in the direction of his neck, and he felt a sting as if two giant mosquitoes had just gulped a feast. “Here”, she said, and handed him a cloth to clean up the trickle of blood dripping down his neck. “It’ll sting for a bit, but it shouldn’t take effect until after. You can pick up your robes and gear from my assistant on your way out.”

And thus Vladislaus Straud traveled back to his mansion and set to his preparations. Five candles made of the fat of five different beasts. A pentagram drawn from the chalk of the First Chapel. And at last, a virgin on her wedding night, on the night of a full moon.

The incantation Vlad had to read was in Old Simlish, a language he hadn’t studied, so he practiced it for days until he was sure he’d have it right, word for word. But when he recited the spell, the magical energy snapping into place and the dark spirits coming to do his bidding, something went horribly wrong…

For Hilda had not returned to the Realm of the Living in flesh and blood. What crawled out of the coffin was nothing more than animated bones, covered in what ragged cloth was left of her dress, though with the mind and memories of young Hilda Straud. She was horrified – at what he had done, at what she had become. But he looked at her, and he didn’t see the horror, He only saw his little sister. He cried, so happy to have her back. To not be alone anymore. They could be together. Forever.

Oh, if only she had shared the sentiment. Because as horror stories go, they rarely have happy endings. Hilda found herself unable to forgive her brother for the sins he had committed. He would live his immortal life, cursed by thirst and regret, for all eternity. He had what he wished for – Hilda had returned from the dead, albeit not the way he wanted.

To this day, Hilda is tethered to the Straud mansion, unable to leave because of the state she finds herself in. She roams the lands surrounding the mansion, hiding away from all humankind. No one has seen, heard or spoken to her ever since.

Or have they? Because where else do the stories come from, I wonder…

Bonus content
The Ritual of Resurrection tome written in Old Simlish. Can you decipher what it says?

The bestest big brother

As I finish up my project homework and go downstairs for a drink, my little brother comes barging through his bedroom door, closely followed by two of his friends. It’s obvious from their excited faces that they’d been patienty waiting for me to come out of my room.

“Isaac! Isaac! Someone in my class saw Bonehilda!”, he pants excitedly as he catches his breath. “It’s true!” confirms Saya. “Timothy really saw her! In the coffee shop!”

“Come on, guys. You realise it’s just an urban legend, right?” says Tasha. She’s always the voice of reason and logic. Out of all the kids Arches has befriended, I like her the most. “Right?!” she insists, looking at me nervously, impatiently even, as if to say, come on, help me out here, they’ve been going on about it all day.

“Well, I don’t know if your friend really saw Bonehilda, Arches. I mean, he might as well be making it up, considering she lives all the way out in the Forgotten Hollow.” I dismissively utter, keeping my eyes on Tasha. And she delivers.

“See? He can’t have s- wait, what?!

“You mean she is real, Isaac? Really?!” My little brother is getting excited. More than usually, I mean. Of course I play along. “I haven’t seen her for myself, dude, so I can’t say for sure. But I have heard the stories…”

“Can you tell us?” Saya asks. I look around at the other two. They are staring at me expectantly. How can I say no to their little faces of curiosity?

“Hmm, I don’t know if I should… it is a scary story…”

“Aww, come on! You’d be the very bestest big brother in the whole world!””

“You think so?” I rub my chin and feign contemplation. Of course I will tell them the story. “Please!!!” they’re begging in unison now, and I have them exactly where I want them. “Alright, alright, sit down and get ready for… the story of Bonehilda.”

A Morning Jog

It’s 5:30. My alarm clock goes off. I almost hit it before the first beep. I was awake anyway.

I get up and jump into my jogging pants. I just wear the T-shirt I slept in. In less than 2 minutes, I’m out the door.

Going jogging every day is very important to me, because it keeps my body healthy. I believe in a healthy mind within a healthy body. And if I want to keep eating hamburgers in the middle of the night, I also need to work out.

But that’s not the only reason I’m doing it. Jogging at 5:30 before breakfast and school gives me the perfect excuse to be outside this early. I get to take in the early crepuscular rays, the crisp smell of grass wet from the nightly rainfall, the chirping of birds in the trees, the splashing of fish in the river, I get to be alone with the world for just a little while, before I have to interact with people during the day.

I don’t like people.

Not that they’ve collectively done me wrong or anything, I just don’t like interacting with them. I honestly don’t care how their day is, what they ate for dinner last night, or what they’ll do in the weekend. I don’t enjoy working in groups for school projects, especially since it means they only want me in their group because they know I’ll put in all the work. And I don’t particularly enjoy being told what to do or what to learn, when I know there is so much more out there than these teachers even realise.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m not delusional, I’m not insane. I just know things. Things the average mind just rationalises away because they don’t make sense, because believing in a fiction is more believable than realising the truth. Okay, I hear it now, I really do sound like a conspiracy theorist. Oh well.

I’ve been doing scientific research since I was ten. Back then, I was collecting bugs and trying to interact with them. It only worked some of the time – most of the time, I was just a kid playing pretend with bugs. But sometimes, I was a kid talking to a fairy. Nobody believed me, and any photo I tried to take was smudged and blurry, so I have no proof. But I know.

Magic exists. In all forms: good magic, bad magic, crazy uncontrolled magic, fairy magic, vampires, werewolves – it all exists. And I am going to find it.

Oh, and aliens. They exist too. That’s why I stay up very late every night to gaze at the stars, in hopes to see the UFO – no, not an unidentified object, I identified it as the SP4-C3 vessel – I saw a few years ago. I will see it again, and I will talk to them. I just have to be patient.

I’m almost done with my jog. I’m on my way back home to my family. They are legitimately the only people I enjoy spending time with. I tried talking to them about what I know a long time ago, but they seem to genuinely belief I’m just a kid with a lot of imagination. I let them think that, for the time being. There’s no use in estranging from my family. Not yet. And besides, I relaly do love them. If i had scientific proof of their existence, I would think my Mum was a legitimate angel. She always believes in people, in the good within them, almost to a fault. My dad is more realistic and sees that not everything is good, so he wants to change the world for the better. They make a good couple in that way. In every way, actually. They are best friends and genuinely love and support each other.

Most of humanity could learn a lot from them. While I don’t like being around people specifically, I do care a great deal about humanity as a whole. I get that from my parents, I guess. I want to save the world. Not in a superhero kind of way, I don’t look good in capes. But I want to make the world a better place, by understanding and exposing the dangers of the things people don’t know about. The things out there.

I don’t necessarily believe that those things are inherently evil. But I don’t know. Yet.

As I push open the front door, the wonderful scent of fresh pancakes penetrates my nostrils. I walk into the kitchen and prompty hug my Mum. She looks suprised, shocked even, but returns the hug nonetheless. She smiles. “I love you, Mum. Thanks for the pancakes,” I say, as I grab a plate and take it up to my room. I’ve got work to do.

Loving Lydocias

“Hurry up, Dad! We’re going to be late for school!”

William tries to take a bite and almost drops the toast his wife so lovingly prepared for breakfast, as his son Arches pulls on his sleeve. “It’s field trip day, Dad! Come on!”

Amelia rolls her eyes. “Always busy, this family.” She smiles and gives her husband a quick peck on the lips before he leaves. “Pres still asleep?” he asks. She nods. “Give her a big kiss from Daddy, I’ll try not to be late tonight.” The last part of his sentence trails off as he closes the door behind him.

“Do you hear that, Pepper?” The dog looks at her, her head cocked sideways in confusion. “Peace and quiet. That’s rare, isn’t it?” As if on queue, the dog starts barking as Pres starts crying. “Did you guys practice that or something?”

“There’s my little girl!” She smiles genuinely at the sight of her only daughter. One arm outstretched while the other wipes off a tear, Pres reaches for her mother. “What shall we do today, girly?” The toddler looks like she is in deep thought, her tiny fingers scratching her equally tiny chin. She mulls it over for a few seconds and then squeaks her current most favourite word in the whole wide world: pawk.

Amelia turns to Pepper, who had followed her all the way up to the toddler’s room. “You hear that? The tiny human wants us to take you for a walk to the park.” At the word “walk”, Pepper starts wagging her tail, knocking over a tower of blocks Arches had so carefully built for his little sister the night before. Tears well up in the little girl’s eyes. “That’s okay,” Amelia smiles, “we’ll ask him to play with you and help you rebuild it tonight, right?” Pres nods. Crisis avoided. I sure am getting the hang of this, after three children.

Speaking of which, where is my third child? She hurries to the door across the hallway. A door that has remained locked ever since Isaac hit puberty. Amelia didn’t think Isaac had anything to be this secretive about, but wrote it off to a teenage phase. As long as the room stays clean, and by that I mean, our hallway doesn’t start smelling like high school locker room, he’s entitled to his privacy. He’s a smart and independent young man, he’ll be fine.

She knocks on the door. And again. And once more. She tries the handle, but as expected – locked. “Isaac, are you in there?” she yells tentatively. No response. He must have got up early to do some of his research before school. “At least your big brother plays outside a lot, right, girly?” she asks Pres in a mocking sing-a-song voice. “Let’s go play outside too.”