My family always said I was very fortunate. If something could go well, it went well. Anytime it wouldn't need my own abilities, of course. In the time I've spent far from them I've known other viewpoints, including some that say there's a balance. I think that if there's balance it's not in each person, for I see good persons with only bad things happening, and bad persons towards everything seems good, but maybe their conscience. Anyway, who think that balance is in each person maybe get it right sometimes, and how good things go when they don't depend on me balance with that I can barely manage when I effort.
Maybe now, that I can't consider myself that fortunate, they'll balance again and I'll be able to get peace. Our clan's wise man - lame from birth, is the mark of the gods for the person who has to stay and know, because by making him lame he's prevented from hunting's risk - told me that each man history is a thread, that by threading with other threads and continue with our children's, and our children's children's, they make a strong rope, and that is the history as they taught us, just barely, shallowly, because you need a whole life to understand every life, so none can understand the whole history. But I'm rambling again. What I wanted to say is that he says my history started when I was born. However, I think my history really started last full moon. A few weeks before my wife had started saying she had bad feelings. I spoke with the wise man, who told me sometimes that happens to pregnant women as her. Since I were unable to calm my wife, I spoke to the old woman too. Other men laughed at me for that, but I love my wife, and I wouldn't face her fears alone. The old woman told me nothing could be done, either it was only her imagination or otherwise, forebodings can't be bend by strength.
I thought that if she saw me more around home, she'll calm down, so I negotiated with our neighbors and did their house chores so they could use the extra time hunting, exchanging my time for theirs and that way being always near my wife. I hoped that'll calm her down.
I was wrong.
Despite staying, despite the whispers I heard around the hamlet about me, not being brave enough to go hunt with the others because of a woman's imagined fears, despite trying to rise her spirit, despite all she became yelling for everything. Rain, cold, her belly's pain, for having put our child in her belly, for having... "tricked" she said, to accept me as her man.
I noticed pity in the eyes of the wise man and the old woman when they visited us and looked at me.
My wife yell at me when I was near, and insulted me when I wasn't. My neighbors tried to support me, and fortunately they were there when another hunter, fed up with me not going, insulted me, calling me coward. I can't recall what happened. I remember clenching my teeth and my fists, trying not to look at him and close my ears. I remember a roar and being over him, my neighbors restraining me and taking me away. He woke up two days later, but at that time I thought he was dead. And my hands were so sore...
Next days my neighbors weren't too far, but I saw the fear in their eyes. I know that where there's fear, there's no room for friendship, and it hurt me, to had lost their friendship as my wife's love. Only the wise man and the old woman visited us, and they were the only ones showing me pity instead of fear, though I don't know what's worse. Lack of rest made me see her fantasies too, like shadows lurking in the shadows, when you weren't looking at them. Even I started hating fire too, because its light made shadows multiply, and that whatever were there could hide even in our own shadows. My hands were shaky by the impulse to take my axe and attack the walls, the ground, anyway my body was making a shadow when fire burned.
One day the wise man and the old woman were with us. The old woman with my wife in the hut and the wise man with me. She brought my things out and told me the birth was too near, that it was better that I stayed outside until my child was born. After what I had done, she won't even see me when giving birth.
The birth started at dawn. Neighbors looked from their doors, I was terribly nervous, they had made fires around and, since my wife won't let a fire inside the hut, I was bearing it outside. I had the feeling that something was watching us and smiling in the shadows on the walls. And on the ground. And within the smoke. My wife was screaming. Horrible screams, like if she was being torn apart. And sobs between the screams.
And then the old woman was who screamed.
I didn't hear my wife. But the old woman was screaming.
Suddenly I was inside the hut, the fires from outside barely got light inside. I noticed my wife's body, strangely deflated, and there was a reddish glosiness, like bright sunlight on blood, but at night. Almost a silhouette, and it had a baby in its arms, still linked by its belly to my wife's body. I don't remember taking the axe, but I remember attacking. And it was laughing. The first hits were like hiting smoke, that you see but it's not. But then it was like water, mud, green pine... until it was like hitting an oak. And then it stopped laughing and hit me. I felt hitting the wall behind and heard a crack, I don't know if wall's or mine. I felt like a doll, and saw the old woman hiding in the corner near me, with terrified eyes. I looked the shadow that wasn't anymore. It was like a man, bigger than any other, of the most deep black I ever saw, as if light won't touch it, as if it devoured light. He had my son in its arms, the outside firelight's illuminated him but not... in the shadow monster. I tried getting up but I barely managed to move my head and snarling while the monster seemed to kiss my child's lips. And slurp.
Then it left him over my wife and became as water or smoke, rising and escaping through the smoke's hole in the roof.
The next days I only saw the wise man and the old woman, who told me my wife was fine, but that I still couldn't see her. They told me I couldn't see my son either.
The less pain I felt the more time I spent awake and the worse I slept. After the first nightmare night the old woman gave me one of her herbs and fungus, which made me sleep without dreaming, but she stopped too soon. She said it was dangerous. In my nightmares my wife was giving birth, but I weren't outside but inside, against a wall, invisible to the old woman but not to my wife, who yells me and says it's all my fault. She has our son in her arms, but doesn't see the shadow slurping his inside. The shadow disappears and my wife throws out son's body to my face. I wake up with my arms in front of me.
Finally they told me my wife had died, and they showed me my son. He was very thin, it was as if he was sleeping. He won't reacted to words or touch, and if you open his eyes there were no answer either. He was like dead.
The old woman told me it had been a Soul Eater what visited us. That he had provoked my wife's hate with its whispers, while she was asleep. That he took advantage of the lack of fire inside to occupy every shadow the birth night, that it had killed my wife and devour her soul, and that he had slurped my son's too. The wise man said both had been lost, that I had to accept it and stay in the hamlet. Hunting, working.
When I was alone with the old woman I asked her. She didn't want to say anything more, byt I realized she was hiding something. I'm ashamed, but I raised my axe against her to get her to talk, and it was because of fear that she told me the demon has consumed only my wife's soul, that my son's was inside it, like a stone eaten by a man, that stays in his stomach until he dies, but that it was using his life to be physical, because what Eaters want is to have flesh to touch. I asked her if there was any way to recover my son's soul, and she told me it was beyond any man's reach, because only by opening its belly could I recover the soul, but being a demon, any attack would only make it stronger.
I lowered my axe and thought about it. When I came again to talk with her and the wise man the tried to convince me not to go, that there wasn't way to save his soul and that, even if I managed, it'll be futile, since a child who is not fed doesn't last much.
The wise man telling it that way made me go berserk again. His son, his grandson and even his apprentice tried to stop me throwing themselves in my way and restraining me, but I had the wise man by his throat against a wall and they covered with their hands their bloodied faces in the ground without me recalling how it happened, other than me telling him - "I'll look for the monster. I'll recover my son's soul. I'll bring it back. And my son will be fine because you're going to fed him, Because otherwise, I'll kill you all when I come back. If you let my son die while I'm recovering his soul, I'll kill you all. Wise man, old woman, hunters, women... even the other children. I'll kill everyone and everything will be burned to the ground. If my son dies while I'm far, after my revenge none will believe our clan ever existed. I'll hunt and kill anyone who even believe remembering our name and where we live, and when none remember us, we all will be in oblivion's hell. So you'll fed him and look after him. And I'll be back, I'll give his soul back. And no other Eater will ever attack us"
"We'll look after him" said the old woman, her wrinkled hands on my back. "Let him go" said. I let the wise man go. Nobody came to say goodbye when I went away, but everybody was looking. I trusted my son to the old woman, and she gave me this hollow bone to put his soul when I recover it.