She, a beautiful innocent soul of not even 16 years of age, closing her chamber’s desk, went over to the 4-armed chandelier and lightened it. Then she sat down at her bed’s edge, silently sighing, for it was the evening before her marriage with a pure-hearted, handsome – no! Even the handsomest merchant of her village. Although her parents had chosen him, it would be a marriage of love, not only one for the purpose of uniting two of the most wealthy families of the county. She remembered the first time they met: What a wonderful evening, full of a certain kind of magic – But suddenly the rush of a storm she heard, it clashed at the windows which sprang wide open and the curtains began to fly. In front of her stood a bleak being, staring at her palish face.
“Good evening, Mylady!”, the shadow spoke, and her innocent heart shivered in fear. The words came from the dark nothingness of the shadow’s face, completely invisible under his cloak. She wanted to escape, but a strange might forced her to stay. “You, Mylady, are made for me! Leave your fiancé, or I will take both of you with me into the torrid abysses of Hades. Believe me, you will either obey or both of you will have so suffer the greatest pain none human’s soul could imagine. Leave him and follow your master!” With these words he threw a dagger onto the floor which made a terrible noise, and then he disappeared as sudden as he had come.
The dagger lay right before her feet. She trembled with horror and no single word she could speak. Death had vanished and left her back scattered. No more than a wreck she was, as from far-away heights she still was able to hear a howling voice, the sound of cruel laughter. He had disappeared, she knew, but she sensed that soon he would be returning.
He left her in a misery. Coldness surrounded her heart and soon she was not able even to cry anymore. She was paralyzed, paralyzed by this unending fear. What should she do? Never would she kill her fiancé, never herself. No demon would force her into the greatest sin, the sin of murdering. She felt lost. Death was in love with her. – Why her? Why none of the billions of other maidens? But she was chosen. Now she had to carry this burden.
She did not dare to reveal her fate to anyone. In the mid of this night, only hours after the severe encounter, she bundled her most essential goods. Tears in her eyes, again, she closed the wooden door behind her. The dagger she left on the spot where it had hit the ground. She did not look back. Still, memories were so painful to her vulnerable soul! In this stormy night she crossed meadows and hills, rivers and forests, until she by chance found a deserted cabin. There she hid – Why should anyone search her here, at this dreary place? That Death is omniscient she never wanted to believe. So she stayed there – and truly! She did not see the bleak figure again. Still she felt that forlorn at this lonely scene, therefore soon she tried to get into touch with her fiancé again.
Her messages reached him and soon they met and spoke about what happened within the passed weeks. They had declared her dead – What good news in the merchant’s lament that they were mistaken and she still alive! That he could still touch her, still speak her, still see and still hold her. The reunion was merry, their hearts entwined in joy and relief. Days passed and one evening and old woman knocked at the hut’s door.
Was she a savior or another infernal creature? “Good woman”, the girl spoke, “Who do you search for at this lonely place?” The old woman introduced herself. A wise mother she was, chosen to bring charity to the innocent. “My little girl”, she said, “I know about what you fear. I hear and see all. Don’t shudder! I am here to save you.” The maiden and her fiancé listened calmly. The old woman explained everything to them, ambitious to fulfill her mission. So they found trust in her – “Here, my girl! Take this rose!”, the old mother spoke while she handed the delicate flower to the girl, “This is the blossom of hope, it warns you if evil is approaching. Look at it and it will serve as a mirror to the fates of you and your love.” The girl touched the rose and it started to gleam ruby in her hands. “Remember – If you notice something strange at this flower, your fiancé is in danger!” The maiden nodded and the old woman left them friendly and with a smile. The couple stood there, puzzled and insecure. In the weeks full of fear and tears it had become difficult to find faith. But to the girl she seemed as a hope, this old, strange, but merciful woman. Finally, after weeks, for the first time she felt secure again.
The secret encounters between the lovers continued and the girl never had to see the frightening, horrifying face of Death again, the bleakness she thought she would never forget. But one evening, the fear inside her grew – It grew so painfully! She cried out in despair, in sorrow, in tension, in agony – She felt as if she was breaking! Why was her fiancé not there, there at her side? Why was he gone, the 9th hour had already passed! They wanted to meet at the 7th. Suddenly the girl turned in fear to the rose – It was bleeding! It bled and she cried and she screamed out in terror! The rose’s leaves fell, its color grew darker. Before the girl’s eyes the blossom blackened and last crystals of blood dropped at the ground, hit the withered dark-brown leaves. “The rose is dead and so it my love!”, the maiden screamed, “Death has stolen him – Stolen him from me! The Reaper’s the victor and I shall be its trophy!” She broke down to the ground and cried. Under the desk lay a dagger… The maiden stabbed herself. All hope was lost. Her white dress turned to red, her eyes closed, her breath ceased for ever.
Then – all of a sudden – Her fiancé entered the room! In terrible fear he ran to his maiden’s dead body. He lifted her, he wanted to hear her heart beating – But none he could hear. He hugged her, he shook her, but there was no way to save her, she had already passed… Finally he fell and cried, as his maiden did before. “Why had she done this? Why did it happen?” The merchant’s vision turned to the rose – He saw it rotten and bleeding. “What delusion! What Satan’s deed!” He smashed the rose at the ground. But he felt guilt, too, since it was him who came to late to the date, it was him, who got lost in the forest. What a fool he was! He saw a dagger in the girl’s stiffened hand. There was no other way out of his grief. He took it and ended his life…
As he lay dying, suddenly a sinister voice appeared from above. Nobody could be seen – It was Death’s voice. The young man, struggling with his fate, slowly bleeding to the end, suffered even more, misguided, intrigued, laughed at. “My boy”, Death spoke, “Don’t trust man so easily! It was you who happened to be my most useful servant – With your failure I gained control over my maiden’s life. With your deeds, I also disposed you.” The merchant felt his senses fading. “Knave, listen to me! You are the destroyer of your own fate! You pulled your maiden into her deepest misery! You are convicted guilty!” And the last thing he felt, after darkness and coldness had surrounded him, was the cruel, deep laughter of Death.