She's no angel. The deeds she's done since departing from her home and remaining in the Unknown have proven that. But it wasn't out of malice, nor was she always in league of something so horrific. Her reasons much like her fellow vagrant had been entirely altruistic.

It happened quite some time ago. Twas Halloween, she and her friends were participating in a festival but en route to a party…there was an accident. And the next thing Haruna Kisaragi knew, she and her seven friends were traipsing through a forest none of them have ever seen before. There they met two boys – half- brothers- the girls found out; the somber eldest was only a year or two younger than them and the other a cheery second grader. Soon their little caravan was joined by a bluebird named Beatrice who turned to be a girl under a hex as punishment.

They embarked on a journey through the mysterious Unknown, meeting several whimsical characters along the way. After one particularly terrifying escapade, the oldest boy, Wirt had begun to lose hope of returning home. The girls knew he was almost constantly forlorn and frankly, pessimistic, clinging to the hope that they'd find a way. Even so, Haruna began to feel the resolve begin to dwindle in at least four of her female friends, and she remembered the very last dreadful song they'd heard in the tavern one rainy night.

Like the others, Haruna noticed the Edelwood trees and was perplexed at the life-force within. During one of their wanderings, she'd used her powers to help it flourish…and sensed the eyes of something watching her intently. Yet when she turned around, she saw nothing. Just the same, she never lost the insecure feeling that something's nearing -managing to keep out of sight…but following them!

If only she knew then, what she knew now. Stalking them was a wicked, ancient being of the woods referred to as the Beast by the locals. He'd witnessed how several of them were starting to despondency and it would only be a matter of time before they became Edelwood trees themselves.

One night they slept under a large tree, she was the first to awaken before the other girls. And was overwrought with horror at seeing Wirt, Sara, Kylie, Zaira and Beth slowly becoming engulfed in growing Edelwood branches! Just as quickly they suddenly stopped and she saw the youngest Greg, approaching something in the shadows. Her sight adjusted seeing a tall, black silhouette with glowing, faded white eyes. When the dreaded gaze fixed itself upon her she'd almost screamed and then they were gone. Quickly, she shook the others awake even as the Beast serenaded the atmosphere with his infamous song.

Winter was soon upon them, and with the help of Beatrice where they able to find an exhausted Greg, who was starting to become another edelwood tree. As they started to remove the growing branches off the child, out from the surrounding trees, the Woodsman they've met at the start of their odyssey is knocked down as the Beast appears, demanding the lantern be handed to him. When the group refused, he looked right at Wirt suggesting that they best make a deal.

There, without truly thinking straight, Haruna cried out to the creature. She almost hadn't truly expected him to accept her distraught offer to claim her instead of Greg or her friends, yet he did. Except he twisted it around, so that the others would return home but she and Wirt to remain. He elaborated to her that he'd seen her 'gift' and of how it would benefit him, his tone had become rather eager, ravenous even. So they accepted his offer.

And with limited time to spare, she saw to it that the girls were able to return home as did little Greg… she and Wirt did not. Yet they perished that others would live, there was no greater sacrifice than that.

When she faded from the world of the living, she could hear the panic-stricken shouts of the others calling her name.

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Both youths keep their ends of the bargain with the Beast.

Nevertheless, Haruna soon noticed his ulterior intentions with her. And of the subtle advances he made towards them both. Wirt capitulated, starting to adjust this new situation. Haruna had fearfully resisted his passionate enticement, but was unable to stop him entirely and lost her proverbial virtue to him.

A year later, when the adolescent himself tried to gently seduce her, she refused. He'd been sullen and truthfully, a little hurt; yet wouldn't do anything else to her without the girl's (or the creature's) consent again. Eventually she gave into the youth's desires one lonely night of wistful reminiscing. Followed by a heart-felt talk together, she made things clear that they can only remain as close friends nothing more. He agreed.

Once more was it winter, nearly three years have already gone. Looking into her reflection, she didn't like what she saw. She's definitely not the person she'd hoped to be. All she could think about was subconsciously isolating herself from this change of events.

No doubt, Wirt and several of the other residents remained her only true friends in the Unknown, the woodsman had returned to his house nostalgically only to run into his daughter there. They knew of the two youngster's plight as did Beatrice - who was human again- but couldn't do much to aid them. There was one face she longed to see most of all: Her sweetheart, Bastion. Before her passing, they were deeply in love and had been dating for almost two years. She missed him so.

But it was in the past. She made her choice, for her still living friends she'll stay and continue growing the edelwood just as Wirt carries the lantern. What good is it to fight it, she ought to just accept it.

Just then someone approached and it was the very last person she expected to see. Hesitantly they walked towards one another only to run into each other's arms and kiss. They sat down, talked about what's happened all this time they'd been apart. Each solemnly confessed they were no longer chaste, yet it didn't matter.

"I've been so desolate without you, I've been trying to fill the void in my soul." Haruna told him, "But you can't stay, if the Beast sees you, he'll…"

"I know, Yui informed me. The girls and a friend of yours here told me everything, I almost couldn't believe it until now," Bastion admitted, "But since its true…don't you see? You willingly gave up your life for them and in so doing, you've given them sacrificial protection!"

Her blue eyes widened.

"They'll be safe, even Wirt and Greg."

"You mean… I'm free?"

He nods. "We can leave a soon as possible."

"Of course. Just let me do one last thing."

She understood Wirt had already accepted his fate here and was fairly content nowadays; she'd have said goodbye to him but he'd probably would've tried to stop her albeit half-heartedly. So she instead wrote him a letter.

Dear Wirt
I'm sorry it has to be this way.

Bastion and I have found each other again, here of all places, we still love each other.

You may have adapted to the circumstances yet I can never correspond to the Beast's overtures. I don't love him…I never will. Our sacrifice hasn't been in vain, by dying we've given our loved ones the best protection we can offer them. The Beast's influence can never harm them now or ever. I hope to see them and you again soon.

Farewell dear friend, I wish you happiness.
Haruna.

And so, she and Bastion headed North, departing the Unknown and into the afterlife where surely they would in time be reunited with friends and family.

Fin