Gods were placed on Earth for a damned reason, they’d been told by their older sister. She’d been around since time itself. She’d walked The Black and White with ease, without a trace of her brothers to bother her. She sculpted the earth from water and plagued it with blood. She was able to keep things under control for years…all until 1824 when a new presence joined her. Specifically, five. They’d all been children at that point. Naïve, innocent children unaware of the chaos they could reign. She tried to assist them, to ensure that they were put on the good track. She tried to put her brothers on the track to goodness and power, but they became plagued on the way to greatness, and they became known as The Lords In Black. That didn’t excuse them from their purposes.
They built Hatchetfield up from borders and collected six innocent souls to guide along their path. Some survived and some didn’t. Either way, it wasn’t any excuse for the six to allow themselves to suffer, allow their subjects to die a merciless death. Humanity was in their hands and it was something that they had to deal with.
It all started back in 1824 when The Spider, The Lady In White had collected her soul. She stood at the trial of Willabella Muckwab, the blood of the plagued, watching as she became accused of something beyond her. Well, of course she was the witch. Celestine Willowhan had watched her grow up, had watched as her powers evolved. Willabella Muckwab had been her original chosen, her original mentee. It was a shame that she was sentenced to death, really. She was a powerful young lady with an all-too powerful mind. However, just because Celestine was an eldritch God, it didn’t mean that she was able to prevent the inevitable all of the time. She had to watch as the rope was draped around her neck and the trapdoor open. She watched as Willabella Muckwab dangled on a stage before all who wanted to see, thrashing and tugging at the noose until she exhaled her final breath and she went limp.
Celestine stayed stone like. She stayed very still as she figured out what to do in the situation. Her long blonde hair was tied neatly with a white ribbon, keeping everything in place. She stood in a dress with little-to-no figure that moulded against her body. It was white in colour and had soft blue dots to decorate it. The sleeves were fluffed out and embroidered with gentle blue flowers. She, however, was picturesque. She had six eyes, three pairs in total that sat on her face. They were amber in colour but only the main two eyes on her face were the largest ones. Her lips were a soft pink. Hanging from them were snow-white mandibles. She was The Spider, after all. It only made sense.
As she figured out her new strategy, her new plan, she noticed a flash of orange from beside her. She turned her head curiously to the side. In the fading crowd, she noticed a young girl. She couldn’t be any older than five or six. Celestine smiled. The young girl’s hair, that, at the time of the flash had been bright orange, was fading back to a soft blonde, similar to the colour of The Spider’s. Celestine had to wait to pounce on her pray as the crowd continued to depart. Only then did she make her move and sit beside the girl.
The young girl, from what Celestine could depict, was wearing a dress of a dirty yellow, a variety of buttons to decorate it. She had her hair in two plaits, tied with frayed ribbon. She also wore boots that went up to her knees. She didn’t seem to notice the spider-lady for a little while until she turned her head. She’d originally been looking at her shoes, but then she turned to the spider and the spider gave a smile.
“Don’t worry, dear,” she started as she stayed a little away from the girl to ensure that she wasn’t too freaked out. Celestine was aware of the fact she was a very creepy creature. It wasn’t every day that you got to see a lady dressed with teeth hanging out of her mouth. They clicked together as she looked around curiously. “You’re awfully young to be watching a scene such as the death of Willabella Muckwab, aren’t you?”
The young girl blinked and returned to staring at her shoes. “My mother and my father died the same way. They were witches.” She looked up to Celestine, her teal eyes wide. “I’m a witch…I’m just scared to practise. I am not sure where it is safe to practise and where it is not. Sometimes I can not bare to help myself, and I let slip. My hair is not usually blonde. It is usually very orange, miss! It is pretty, my mother used to say! But I get picked out from the crowd if I do not blend in. I would meet the same fate as my mother and my father.” She kicked her feet under the bench, swinging them innocently. “I wish I could have my mother and my father back. I miss them dearly.”
Celestine felt her heart ache sympathetically for the young girl. It resulted in her placing her hand on the girl’s shoulder, a tingling sensation occurring. Before Celestine realised what was happening, it was too late. Her soul bonded to the young girl, giving her the opportunity to guide her through her time on Earth until she was stable, until her goal had been achieved. Celestine retracted her hand and turned back to the topic of conversation. “What would your name be?”
“I am not quite sure, miss. I have been told that my surname is Holloway. I think that my name is Holly, but I can not remember if that was something strictly to be a nickname or a real name.”
Celestine paused and shut her eyes, flicking through the souls until she matched the person she was sat beside. She opened her eyes and turned back to the girl. “Your name is Holly-Aloisa Holloway, aged 5, born February 17th 1819. You’re correct in saying that your mom and your dad died due to a successful witch trial in which they were both found guilty. My heart aches for you.”
“What’s your name, Miss?” Holloway asked, tilting her head and Celestine couldn’t help but smile. She’d always had a soft spot for kids.
“My name, deary, is Celestine Willowhan though to many, I’m known in myths and legends as The Spider, or The Lady in White. My purpose is to protect individuals with my five younger brothers, but they only appeared recently so they don’t quite understand their duties. It appears, Holloway, that my soul has bonded to you, so I am to be your ethereal guardian and ensure that the reason you were placed on this earth gets completed. You are a very lucky young girl. I’m honoured to know you.”
“Really? But I’m just a girl?” Holloway asked, and Celestine shook her head.
“Nobody is just an anything. Everyone has been positioned here for a reason. And I can say that from the bottom of my heart because I created Earth.”
“So why does everyone say that god is a man, then, Celestine?”
“Because some people are misogynistic pricks and refuse to accept the truth. But there is not just one god. When my younger brothers are trained to their full potential, there are to be six of us.”
“That is outstanding!”
“Isn’t it just?” Celestine asked with a light chuckle before she stood. “Now, you must come with me, Holloway, for I am to take you to a safe place where you can train to your heart’s content.” She offered her hand to Holloway, who took it gratefully. As Celestine walked through Hatchetfield and up to the Witchwood, she peered down at the girl. Her hair was fading from the unnatural blonde to her natural red. Celestine knew that Holloway was finding comfort, and that was all that she had to ask for.
She found Willabella’s old hut in the centre of the woods and pushed open the door. All of the décor was still there so it made training a lot easier. She helped to position Holloway where she needed to be and she began to teach Holloway the knowledge of the universe, allowing her to unlock her purpose. This happened regularly, a couple of times a week at the most. When Celestine wasn’t training Holloway, she was training her brothers, the five of them, who were slowly growing into their teenage phase. Her schedule was fully booked, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Unfortunately for her, wherever Celestine went, so did her brothers. As she trained Holloway, they began to find their chosen ones. The difference between Holloway and her brothers’ mentees were that Holloway physically had the inability to age because she wasn’t human. After a lot of testing on Celestine’s behalf, she discovered that Holloway’s parents passed away when she was five years old and ever since, she remained that age. It was a tragic tale. Things changed over the years when she met people who became her soulmates.
Soulmates never had to be romantic. In Holloway’s case, it was merely unfortunate that they all were. Celestine watched from the side-lines as Holloway grew up through the eras and met all of the people who she fell in love with. As she recognised her feelings, she aged up yearly. Every February 17th with her soulmate still alive, she aged one year. It took another five soulmates until Holloway was 23 years old. As Celestine’s brothers evolved, adapted, the lot of them became who Celestine failed to be and that was the direct evil that Celestine had tried to avoid.
Luckily for her, when her brother’s plans were becoming too extravagant, Holly-Aloisa Holloway, now donning the alias of “Miss Holloway” wandered into Oakley Park where a tall man, just over 6’, was stapling a poster about an agency involving in Paranormal Extra-terrestrial and Interdimensional research was needed to hire people. Holloway had been looking for work, to evolve her own powers. There was only so long she could be stuck at the same level that she had been stuck on since the 1890s. It was a horrific feeling, and it soon pained her.
Celestine was there when Holloway saw the man with the shortly cut hair was putting up the posters. She wasn’t visible to the man himself, just to the witch who saw her, so she was able to get a better look. After skimming over the writing, her mandibles clicking together, The Lady In White walked back towards her mentee, smiling gently. “They’re hiring. You should go.”
“Is this a Webby thing or a I looked into the future and if you don’t turn your back now, you’ll finally find someone who you’ll be eternally happy with’ thing?” Holloway asked as she popped the collar on her denim jacket, crossing her arms, looking up at the spider who shook her head.
“As I have always told you, dearest Holloway, that is for you to find out. I can never force you on a path. It is always up to you to make those risks. I can only guide you and you have to be aware of that.” Celestine said with a gentle smile as Holloway walked up to the man.
That had been in 1979, when PEIP had first been founded. Celestine watched as Holloway met Wilbur Cross, and she watched as every February 17th through to 2005 she aged. Then, days before her birthday, Wilbur Cross threw himself into the portal without hesitation to try and get information about her brothers. She had never felt angrier in her life towards a man. Yes, she hated men in general, but if they had just listened to Holloway, they wouldn’t have to suffer for souls.
It was short of 10 years when Holloway aged again, when she met Douglas “Duke” Keane. He was a perfect match. The shock to Celestine Willowhan came when she was sat at Holloway’s new home and a young girl, only around 9 years old, ran up to her and tugged on her skirt. Celestine had looked down and the young girl had beamed up at her. She had brown hair tied firmly into pigtails and wore denim overalls and oversized yellow flannel as well as beat down sneakers. Celestine smiled. “Hi, dear.”
“You’re Webby!” The girl said and Celestine paused. “Holly says your Webby! I’m like Holly! E’cept Eth calls me banana. But I’m not a banana. I’m Hannah, and you’re Webby!”
So, in the little girl’s eyes, Celestine Willowhan shortly renamed to ‘Webby’ gained a new mentee. She swore to protect her. She had to. She couldn’t let her brothers win.