Cold. Everything was cold. Every rock. Every stone. The air and the ground. Everything was cold.
There were no seasons in the forest. Just the same, unchanging pattern of cold. There wasn't no snow, no rain or sunshine. Nothing. Everything gray and bland, secluded and quiet. Unchanging and unwavering in its pattern.
This was purgatory.
But she didn't mind. In fact, she found it all quite calming. It was the place she knew as home, one that where most would find boring, she found extraordinary. This was her world, her vision and creation, and it was just the way she wanted it.
Every day, unchanging. Every night, quiet. It was all the same and it was just how it should be.
Until that one day, when the two young boys came into the forest, into purgatory.
She hadn't given them much thought. In fact, she hadn't even remembered them at all once they had left her. But now they were back, asking her what she had promised her, asking her what she had promised to give them, if they had returned bearing their offering.
She heard the footsteps behind her, already knowing who they where without opening her eyes. They must have been eager to receive their reward. Even she didn't think they would return this quick.
"So..." She started, eyes still closed. "Your back."
"Yes, and we've brought you what you asked." The boy said, holding out his hand.
She calmly stood up and turned around, opening her eyes and staring at the two young boys. She towered over them, and they shrunk even lower as she stepped closer to them. One of the young boy's carefully opened his hand, revealing the item of interest that she had asked them to bring. Upon seeing it, she gave a small rare smile and calmly took it from the boy, placing it in her hand.
She examined the item, going over every detail. It was just a small silver key. An ordinary key to some people, but to her, something greater. She was only one of a select few who knew what this key did, as well as who it belonged to. She could still remember it's owner.
Her thoughts were suddenly broken by one of the young boys. "All right, you have what you want witch, now give us our reward!"
"You promised after all." The other boy added, his fist clenched.
She narrowed her eyes at the two. "You really want to hear the story then?"
The two nodded. "You knew him, right? You actually knew him?"
She closed her eyes and nodded. "A long time ago. In a very different place."
"What was he like?" One boy asked, eagerness in his eyes.
"He was like every other human in the world." She replied, remembering back. "Driven. Fixated. Stubborn."
"Tell us the story!" The other said, beginning to get impatient. "You promised you would."
She calmly nodded. "I did. But let me ask you one last time. Are you sure you want to hear?"
The two nodded again, their minds impossible to change. She took a deep breath and sighed, sitting back down. It was the first time she had told the story, one she knew she would never forget. Even someone as herself took humans as different creatures, ones that weren't even worth remembering. But this one was different.
"It was nearly 76 years ago." She started, thinking back to the past. "76 years when I first met him...."