They'll try to hold you back. They will say you're wrong. But they will never understand, The journey that you're on. They'll try to change your mind. They'll try to change your heart. But they will never understand who you are, And you still believe. And you know, You must go.
Part 1: Greta and Her Struggles in World War II
|“||War... terrible war...||”|
World War II. Warsaw, Poland. September, 1939.The Luftwaffe opened the German attack on Poland with operation Wasserkante, an air attack on Warsaw. A veil of gunpowder, smoke and ash covered the Polish capital. Fire blazed everywhere, and the deafening sound of bombs and missiles boomed on every drop. No structure was spared from the wrath of the German forces. Innocent life wasn't spared from the arms of the German battalion. Was there even hope in escaping Warsaw in one piece?
"Nie... Matka! Ojciec!" A woman cried, kneeling beside two burnt bodies, cold and dead. She then looked over the two bodies, revealing two more bodies, burnt and dead like the two earlier.
"Brat! Siostra!" She continued crying all of her tears. Who was she you ask? Greta Abramowicz, a victim of the Luftwaffe bombing. Her family, the only people she ever had in her life, we're all killed by the fire and debris caused by the terrible explosions. She never wanted all of this to happen. All of her happy memories are shattered in a single moment. What will she do now? Suicide may be the best option, as it seems there is no point in moving on in her life. There is no one to help her. But no, she mustn't lose all hope. There is still the light of seeing tomorrow. Then she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around and saw a couple in their late 40s, covered in dust, offering their hand to her.
"Spojrzeć, mamy młodą damę tutaj." They said upon seeing her face. From a distance, a bomb exploded, rattling the ground. Greta, desperate to find hope, grasped their hands quickly. The two helped her get up and brought her to safety. Leaving her dead family in the rubble is the most painful sight, but she must survive... for her own future.
"Nie martw sie, moja droga. Jestes w naszych rękach bezpieczny." The wife assured her. Her face seemed kind, caring and full of warmth, like her mother. The husband nodded in agreement. He too, looked kind like his wife. She instantly felt a pull to them, as if she was their long lost daughter. Twenty minutes later, they arrived in a decent-looking house, only scarred by some of the invasion's remnants. They went inside and went down to a hidden basement. They let her lie down in bed while they went back upstairs to get food for her. She rested her head on the pillow, sad thoughts swarming her mind. Why? Why in all families her family has to face death in the worst fashion she can imagine? Tears began to flow freely for her eyes and down her cheeks as the couple went down again with piping-hot broth and bread in a tray. They saw her crying and comforted her.
"My straciliśmy naszą córkę w wojnie." The husband said to her. Their faces look solemn but full of courage to face life, something Greta cannot do easily. Then the wife hugged her tight, signalling that they will be her new parents and she will be their new daughter, the start of a new happy beginning. She wiped her tears and thanked them. The two smiled and introduced themselves as Lucjusz and Magdalena Belinski. Greta introduced herself too in return. They said they will be leaving Warsaw for Strasbourg, France to start a new life there. They assured her that moving to France is the best choice for them. Greta agreed. She didn't any more war bothering her to death. She didn't want to lose any more loved ones. This is it. This is the opportunity to look up at life again.
The next day at dawn, they packed up their things to escape Warsaw. Greta got to use Lucjusz and Magdalena's daughter's clothes, which fitted perfectly to her. At that moment, the bomb raids began to arise again. They were forced to stay inside the house to avoid all of the chaos. It seems escape was narrow, but they fueled themselves with hope and steadfast faith. The moment the bombing stopped, they rushed out of the house and there they ran through the streets for the city limits of Warsaw. Smoke, dust and gunpower were everywhere, but they trudged on despite of everything. They were really like a true family, even if they just met each other for less than a day.
At last, they reached the city limits of Warsaw, which was less affected by the invasion. They ran as fast as they could, while hoping to catch a ride, just to escape. The terrain began to go wild, and Warsaw was just a small line in the hills. They ran a fairly good distance away. From where they are standing, one could see how damaged the Polish capital was. No one would imagine something as catastrophic as this would befall Warsaw. The three of them were heavily tired and gasped for air. They sat down near a tree to rest and ate some of the food they brought with them to replenish their hunger. But it was no time for long periods of rests. The Germans could be anywhere near them. They quickly stood up and ran again, like fugitives. They were all determined they will reach a place of safety.
The sound of wheels began to be heard somewhere behind them. Tension began to build up in the three of them so they rushed for the trees and bushes to hide. They looked and saw a friendly-looking caravan, pulled by two horses. They came out of their hiding place to catch the caravan's attention. A man about the same age as Lucjusz and Magdalena came out of the caravan and saw them. He greeted them and asked if they need any help. Magdalena explained their situation, ever since upon picking up Greta in the street. She pleaded for the man to take them with him to the place where they will go. The man, who was named Rzeznik, kindly agreed to her request. The three were overjoyed to hear the news. And so, the family entered Rzeznik's caravan and off they go. Rzeznik explained that he was going to Minsk, the capital of the neighboring country of Belarus to also start his new life there. Seeing their plans for going to Strasbourg were against Rzeznik's plans, they decided to settle there too.
They travelled for days to reach Minsk. They stopped by in some towns and cities to get food, water and supplies for their journey. Greta felt hope and happiness again after all of the tragedies she experienced the past few days. Lucjusz and Magdalena also felt the same, as if they have mutual feelings. Finally, after a long and tiring journey on their caravan, they have reached their goal. They have reached the destination. Minsk, Belarus was now around them. The city was more peaceful than Warsaw. They, along with Rzeznik, quickly searched for a place to settle down and start a new life. As they had very little money, they only found a small shabby house. But it was okay for them, as long as they have a house to call 'home'. And everything good followed. Lucjusz and Magdalena became workers in a factory while Rzeznik became a driver of steam cars. Greta continued her education. Everyone was happy.
|“||Why do all good things come to an end?||”|
World War II. Minsk, Belarus. June, 1941. The Germans invaded the Soviet Union, including Minsk, under the codename 'Operation Barbarossa'. The horror of the Luftwaffe invasion in Warsaw was the same as the invasion in Minsk. Everything that Greta experienced in Warsaw was the same as what she experienced here. Greta was now twenty years old. The three of them stayed in their house, like they always did to avoid everything that may spell their death. A few minutes later, the rumbling sounds of the bombs died down. They sighed out of relief. They guessed everything was now over. Until... A bomb landed somewhere near their house. The explosion destroyed everything. Their house wasn't spared, but received less damage than the others. The three were thrown off their feet. Unfortunately, Lucjusz slammed his head very hard on the wall, causing his death. Magdalena and Greta were unconscious. Upon waking up, they found Lucjusz's dead body. Tears began to flow from their eyes. Wails of sadness covered the entire house. The head of the house has left them.
At that moment, the sounds of military-like footsteps began to echo from the outside of the house. Magdalena sensed at once that it was the Germans, ready to arrest to them. She didn't want Greta to be imprisoned and left to suffer in the cold prison cells. She reluctantly told her to run away through the back door as fast as she could and hide from any people. Greta hesitated. She didn't want to lose her. She is her only family now after her adoptive father's death. But Magdalena forced her, as it was the best way to secure her life and future. Saddening as it would be, Greta agreed. She hugged her adoptive mother for the last time, although she hoped that it wasn't and left the house, crying. As she escaped, she saw her being dragged away by the soldiers, with a serene and calm look on her face. This made her cry even more as she ran away. After a few minutes, she collapsed, worn out by hunger, dehydration, depression and exhaustion. At that moment too, the bombs began to explode again. She wasn't aware that any moment now, death may take whisk her away into depths of unfathomable and eternal sleep.
|“||In the face of disaster lies the face of hope.||”|
World War II. Outside Minsk, Belarus. June, 1941.She woke up, still a bit dizzy. The place around her seemed peaceful and quiet. She moved her eyes and saw a rather handsome man of her age, looking very concerned on her. Those eyes, were the most beautiful eyes she'd ever seen. Everything about her was... perfect. A cool breeze blew through him, sweeping his shiny jet black hair. It was none other than Aeolus, the god of the winds, disguised as a mortal. He let her sit slowly. "Gdzie ja jestem?" She asked him.
He smiled. "Jesteśmy w granicach miasta, z dala od tych bomb." He explained that he, too, was running away from the Germans when he saw her lying on the ground. He didn't have second thoughts and carried her with him. Greta blushed. It was a simple deed, but she was happy to know.
"Dziękuję" Greta wearily smiled. Aeolus introduced himself as Bosco, citizen of Minsk and one of the victims of the Operation Barbarossa invasion. They both lost their parents in the war. But Magdalena? Greta didn't consider her as 'lost'. She will never ever do that. She knows she is still alive and one day, she will meet her again. Bosco invited her to live with him, as they were the only ones to keep each other company. Greta agreed to do so. And so Greta was again on the road, finding a new place to settle with her new friend, Bosco. They didn't have any money. So Bosco have to resort to stealing. Greta disapproved at this, but Bosco promised he will only do it once. Greta hesitantly said yes but upon seeing he kept his promise, she was relieved.
They settled in a small town near the Belarusian-Ukranian border. The town was fortunately untouched by any military groups. They stayed here for three years and eventually their love for each other blossomed. One night, they had an unexpected affair. And after a few days, Winona and Bosco found out she was pregnant. Of course, happiness enveloped the couple. But this also warned Bosco. He must leave Greta and the unborn baby as soon as he can. But how? Hard as it may seem, he has to. It was the same fate of every god and goddess having relationships with mortals. He whispered to his winds, but using his powers in the mortal world doesn't fit. Leaving her a like a bubble suddenly popping doesn't create a concrete reason. He has to do something reasonable.
A few minutes later, he heard the sound of engines. He looked outside and saw German soldiers stopping at the town's entrance. Greta was asleep and he didn't want her to wake up, knowing there is trouble arising again. He opened the door and went to join the crowd.
|“||Leaving your loved ones is the search for a way to come back home again.||”|
World War II. Town in the Belarusian-Ukranian Border. May, 1944. They were Belarusian soldiers, all battle-worn and in tattered military clothing. They invited the men to join their forces and defend not only Belarus, but the whole Soviet Union. Bosco thought this was the opportunity. This was the opportunity to leave Greta within reason. It was against his heart, but what could he do? Its a must. And so, he rushed quickly to his house to write a letter to Greta before leaving:
You know how much I love you, you and our child. But, the time has come for duty to call me. I can't stand to see you, our child, and everyone here living everyday, fearing that the Germans may come here and take our freedom. The time is right for me to leave you and join our brethren to fight for the Soviet Union, for our freedom, for our lives, for our tomorrow. I promise you this will not be the last time we will see each other. If, ever, I don't come back, I would like to ask one thing from you: stay strong. Don't cry for me. Don't let our child remember everyday he or she has no father. Don't fall into despair. Face life head on. Always remember that. Greta, I love you, dearly. I will always remember and love you, even in the afterlife, if I ever reach that point. Goodbye.
He shed tears as he left it on the table. He gathered some of his possessions, put them in a small backpack and left the house. The soldiers were still there, inviting more men to fight. Bosco quickly volunteered to join and he was accepted. More men joined thereafter. Their wives, children and family wept for them as they left. One by one, they went back to their houses, full of sadness. A few minutes later, Greta woke up. She called Bosco's name, but no one answered. She searched the house for him until she saw his letter lying on the table. Her hands trembled as she read the letter. Tears ran like tapwater and dropped on the ground. She staggered back, her sadness overwhelming her. She passed out a moment later.
She woke up half an hour later, still dizzy from her sudden collapse. She found the letter still in her hands, smudged by tears she shed a while earlier. She contemplated about Bosco's departure and her soon to be born baby. Moving on after that tragic day was severely difficult. She had to live everyday all alone, with little help from her neighbors. She was the isolated type. She only communicated with them when really necessary. She still has her sane with her, so the baby was in good hands. Pain may come back to her everyday when she remembers him, but the baby will serve as a reminder on how brave he was and how much he loves her.
Months passed, and Bosco still hasn't come back. Greta was now feeling desperation. Who will be there to strengthen her when she delivers their baby. Who will? The answer was so vague she cannot make out even a small piece of it.
|“||The birth of life may give birth to death.||”|
World War II. Town in Belarusian-Ukranian Border. January 24, 1945.The time has come for Greta to labor. She was left with no choice but to ask her neighbors' help. Fortunately, the women of the village were experienced at midwifery so her delivery to the baby was safe.
"Heta dziaŭčyna! Jana tak pryhožaja, jak i jaje maci!" Exclaimed one of the midwives. Apparently, she was right. The baby girl was beautiful, like Greta. In turn, Greta was overjoyed. Despite of all the sadness and longing because of Bosco, she felt happiness, bliss and relief even for a short while. Since her baby is a girl and the first-born, she decided to name her Winona which means 'first-born daughter; eldest daughter'. She also added the name Olivine, which is a yellow mineral. Why? Its because of her childhood memories. Her father and mother gave her an olivine ring when she was still very young; however, it was lost and destroyed during the Luftwaffe bombing. She cuddled her newly born child. She felt warm, as warm as her love for Bosco. Winona was the fruit of their love for each other. Too bad Bosco was not here to see his daughter. And so, the real protagonist of our story was now born: Winona Olivine Pastoria, the girl with countless possibilities in store for her in the future. However, the happiness Greta is experiencing will be cut short.
A few weeks later, she felt nauseous, weak and really hot. It was discovered she has dengue: a deadly disease from mosquitoes. Upon being bed-ridden, she remembered how she got it. A few days back, she was in the woods to gather nuts when she felt a biting sensation in her arm, which she ignored. In her case, the disease was getting worse everyday. There was no appropriate medical care in the town and the nearest hospital/clinic was miles away, she might not make it. Those who helped her give birth to Winona took the baby girl away from her to prevent further health problems. Unfortunately, the dengue was so severe it eventually killed Greta.
The last words on her lips were: "Kocham cię, Winona." She was then buried in the town's little graveyard, behind the church.
Upon her burial, the people who temporarily took care of Winona decided to give her away. Why? Their families were already overcrowded, and Winona will just be another burden to them. Giving them away to the less populated families in the town won't help either, as they reasoned the baby may have a disease within her too. So, it all came to that decision: giving her away for another family to pick her up and make her their own daughter. Some of the caravan drivers volunteered to take her to Ukraine, which was not very far from where they are, as they are in the border.
The next day, they wrapped Winona in clean white cloth, placed inside the caravan and was brought to the nearest Ukranian city: Zhytomyr, where they expect for someone to adopt her.
And so... Greta's story has now come to a close. A new saga begins...
Part 2: Winona and Her Search For Where She Belongs
|“||Every story has its own beginning, so as the life of a person.||”|
World War II. Zhytomyr, Ukraine. January 26, 1945. The caravan has arrived in Zhytomyr, the administrative center of the surrounding Zhytomyr Oblast. They parked the caravan outside the city and continued on foot. They looked around, there are quite few people in the city. They walked further and saw St. Michael's Church in the background. This was their chance. The church was a place where many people gather, and one or two of them may find Winona and adopt her. They passed by several public parks and plazas, which the city is rich in. It seems this part of Ukraine wasn't touched by the war. They arrived a few minutes later at the front of the church. The doors were closed so they decided to lay her at the footsteps of the entrance. But before going away, they kissed her one last time and pinned a letter on the cloth of the sleeping Winona. The sadly stood up and left her there, all alone, vulnerable to the rest of the world.
Stanislav Pastoria was walking along the streets of Zhytomyr at that same time. He was thinking about his happy future as a newly-wed husband to his beloved Olena. However, one thing bugged his mind: a baby. Olena was found out to be barren. They couldn't have a child with that factor put in. He insisted on adopting, but Olena became cold to him after finding it out, but he remained faithful to her. He arrived at St. Michael's Church, a few minutes after Winona's group left. Upon stepping on the stairs, Stanislav noticed a baby wrapped in white cloth with a piece of paper pinned on it. He crouched down to pick up the baby. He took the letter and read:
To anyone who reads this,
We ask you to take the baby in the cloth included with the letter and make it your own child. Her name is Winona Olivine Belinski. If you would like to change her surname, please do so. We hope for your consideration, kind-hearted reader to take good care of her as if she is your own daughter. Thank you.
~ (No name, signature, etc.)
It was apparently a dream come true, on cue. As if when he thought about a baby, a baby just appeared at the footsteps of the church. He was overjoyed and quickly looked at the baby. Winona was actually smiling at him, even though she still didn't have teeth to begin with. He quickly rushed back to their house to show Olena what he found. Upon finding it out, Olena was furious enough.
"Chomu vy pryvely dytynu ne vid mene!?" She yelled at him. As much as Stanislav tried to avoid adopting a child because Olena hated it, he couldn't resist it. He pleaded Olena to raise the child as it was already there. Olena wasn't the type to be moved by these words. However, a sliver of conscience struck through Olena's heart. She half-heartily accepted Winona.
"Ale ne ochikuy̆te mene vykhovuvaty tsyu dytynu, shchob staty svyatym" She warned Stanislav. And so, the Pastoria family welcomed Winona her to their members. And there she was, named as Winona Olivine Pastoria.
During the year 1945, the course of the war drastically changed. German forces surrendered in Italy on April 29 1945, and in Western Europe on May 7, 1945. On the Eastern Front, Germany surrendered to the Soviets on May 8, 1945. A German Army Group Centre resisted in Prague until May 11, 1945. On July 11, 1945, the Allied leaders met in Potsdam, Germany. They confirmed earlier agreements about Germany. On August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered, with the surrender documents finally signed aboard the deck of the American battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, ending the war.
The light of hope finally shined upon Europe, but will Winona's life be shined upon by this?
|“||The future holds many opportunities. Some are in favor... while some are not what they hope for.||”|
Post-World War II. Zhytomyr, Ukraine. December 1955. The war was over for many years now. Ukraine has recovered much of all of its losses during the course of the brutal war. Peace has finally descended. And, Winona has now grown up to be a young lady, at the age of 10. She developed a sense of kindness by herself, despiter her stepmother, Olena's wrath on her. Stanislav, on the other hand, died of liver cancer during her childhood. This made Olena even more cold on her. She put all of her anger and negative emotions on her, which Winona endured with patience. Olena made Winona her housemaid. She washed their clothes, cooked their food, went to the market, ironed their clothes and every household chore you could ever imagine. She even made her work part-time as a clothes washer. However, the money Winona gets goes to Olena's addictive gambling, smoking and drinking. This made them poor. They didn't got to pay their debts, and Olena blindly blamed it on Winona. Winona insisted that it wasn't her fault, but Olena didn't listen to her.
Winona, even as a child, had passion for the fantastic, magical and extraordinary. She was fascinated by fantasy at an early age. She dreamt of building a castle sitting atop a sugary-coated mountain with Olena, where they could live happy. She insisted that the mythical city of Atlantis existed, and believed it will rise back up on the surface again. She shared this to her friends. Of course, no one believed her and only mocked her for being too dreamy. Winona, however, kept rooted to her beliefs. She knew that one day, there will be a place where she could live happily with her family, safe and sound from the dangers of the world.
Post-World War II. Zhytomyr, Ukraine. January 24, 1956. That day was Winona's 11th birthday. However, it wasn't any birthday she would expect. Ever since Stanislav's death, she didn't got a decent birthday. She had her birthday as normal as the other days. She would do the chores, while Olena was up early for gambling. No one even greeted her that day. Despite being used to it, she still felt sadness.
Suddenly, she heard a knock on the door. She rushed for the door and opened it. There was no one outside. She looked around and saw an small box lying on the ground. It has a grayish wrapper with a tinge of light blue. It has a neatly tied blue ribbon on it. She looked for the sender's tag and found it below the box. She read:
To my beloved daughter, Winona:
Happy Birthday. I hope you like this little present I've given to you. Always keep it to yourself.
~ Your father.
Her father!? Stanislav was already dead. He couldn't possibly send her a good-looking gift box from the grave. But, Winona still opened it. She carefully put up the lid and found another box, only covered in navy velvet. She opened it and found a silver ring in it. Encrusted on it was a sparkling sapphire gem. A spiral-like shaped was embedded on the top of the gem. She examined the ring closely and found something etched on it:
Η κόρη του ανέμου
At that instant, the words began to play around. It turned into a lot of different shapes and positions until it stopped to form a phrase:
The daughter of the wind
What does that mean? How could she be the daughter of the wind? She stared to the sky for a few minutes, wondering all about the words on the ring and the mysterious sender tag. She decided to ask Olena if she knows something.
"Vash batʹko mertvyy̆. Shcho podarunok tse tilʹky deyaki z tykh afera politytsi." Olena said to her. Winona opened her mouth to speak, but Olena held her off to stop it. She grabbed the box with the ring inside it and threw it outside in the garbage can and left off to gamble... again. She stood there, down and lonely. As suspicious as it would be, the gift may mean something. Something that is about herself. She didn't hesitate any further and rushed out of the house to get the ring, no matter how disgusting the garbage can is.
Getting the box out of the garbage can wasn't that hard. She quickly went back to the house, put out the ring off the box and wore it in her right ring finger. Much to her surprise, it fitted her perfectly, as if it was really destined to her. But one thing still kept her wondering: who really sent the ring. If its his father... no, it can't be. She saw Stanislav's dead body in front of her eyes. He couldn't be the sender. A dead loved one can't just give her a shiny gift from the grave. She stood there, puzzled on what happened that day. Finally, she gave up the idea and went back to her chores. She kept looking at the ring, hoping to show anything that may give her the answer. Why was she called the daughter of the wind?
Post-World War II. Zhytomyr, Ukraine. May, 1959. Winona, now 14 years old, was still living the life she had for the past years. Olena didn't get any better at her attitude. Actually, her situation got worse. She got drunk almost everyday, and would throw a tantrum at Winona and torment her with slaps and hair pulls. At this extent, Winona even cried to stop it. But Olena didn't care. She just beat up Winona when she wants it.
One day, Winona was out to buy food for them at the nearby market. She locked the door of the house and headed off with her basket and purse. A while later, after buying a small amount of food that will suffice them for two days, she heard a growl somewhere. It wasn't any growl of any dog or hound in the city. She looked around. Nothing seemed strange. She sighed and continued walking back home. But, the growl persisted and grew louder than the last one. She began walking faster. Her heartbeat began to race. She had this feeling there's someone... or something following her. If that person or thing is the one growling, then she thought she'd better run. Upon reaching the alleyway to her house, she saw a black figure on the dark alleyway. She turned back to run. Too late. The black figure ran for her.
It was a hellhound. And a big one, if I daresay.
It bared its fangs, dripping saliva on the ground. Winona trembled in fear. She didn't see anything like this before, not in her whole life. She knew Zhytomyr well. She looked around. Strange, the people walking around didn't seem intimidated or scared on the hellhound. When they see it, they just turned back their heads on their walking direction. She dropped her basket out of fright. Then, suddenly, the hellhound pounced at her. She screamed as she dodged the attack. But unfortunately, one of the hellhound's claws made a painful cut on her shoulder. As she tumbled to the ground, she cried. She looked at her wounded shoulder and saw blood running slowly. The hellhound didn't seem contented with her injury. It began to pounce at her again when a fast, whooping sound whirred in the air. A silvery line ran through the hellhound like a bullet. Winona closed her eyes at the instant.
When she opened it again, the hellhound was still there, only that there was a silver arrow impaling it in the chest and lungs part. She widened her eyes when it dissolved into a pile of dust. She carefully reached for it with her left arm to check if its really dust when suddenly, a single gust of wind rushed through her from behind and through the pile of dust, scattering in to the air. She widened her eyes even more. Was the wind a coincidence... or something she didn't expected to have. She looked around again and this time, a few people were noticing her. They though she must be crazy, lying on the ground, staring at a pile of dust. Out of embarrassment and fear of encountering another one of those animals, she stood up quickly, picked up her basket and rushed home.
Wow, Olena wasn't drunk that night. The pub didn't have any beer at the moment as the deilvery got a little late. This was Winona's chance to talk to her about what happened to her a while ago.
Olena, of course, didn't believe her. She said there were only small to medium-sized dogs in the city and that she made up the story so that she would feel sorry for her. Winona insisted everything was real, from the big black dog and silver arrow to the pile of dust and rush of wind. Olena retorted back that she had enough of her fantasies so she decided to lock her up in her room. But Winona still insisted, which enraged Olena. She pulled her hair and threatened her that she will kill her on the spot. Winona thought not to resist and shaked her head. Olena quickly brought her to her room and locked her up. Winona sat in her bed, crying. Why? Why is it that her life was so miserable?
|“||Behind those delicate faces lie a crooked soul and a crooked heart.||”|
Post-World War II. Zhytomyr, Ukraine. November, 1962. A rich family moved into Zhytomyr: the Markovich in 1960. Their house towered over the city, which bedazzled most of the citizens. The Markovich heir, Fedir, aged 21, was looking for his rightful wife in advance, to secure the future of the family. Out of all the young women, he laid his eyes on Winona, which he met on St. Michael's Church when she laid donations for the church's fund.
Winona, on the other hand, seemed intrigued on him. He seemed nice and kind, not to mention good-looking and really pampered. She told this to Olena and for once, she had a face full of joy and hope. She told her that this was their chance to become rich too. Olena insisted that she must marry Fedir so that their life will be full of luxury. Winona was tempted on the sound of that, but shrugged it off. As much as she likes his style and personality, she didn't want to. She didn't want to marry him just because she wanted money for a better life. She denied the offer, which angered Olena. She decided to force her to meet him the next day to start planning about their relationship. Winona resisted, but Olena wasn't the type to change her mind so everything she planned was going to happen.
The next day, Winona reluctantly dressed up her prettiest dress to make an impression to Fedir's family. Olena brought her to the Markovich Manor. They knocked on the door and came Fedir to open it. Upon seeing Winona, he was surprised she came back to meet him and was overjoyed by this. He invited Winona to come in while Olena left the two of them in private, with triumph in her eyes.
In the receiving room, Fedir and Winona sat down. They exchanged a couple of introductory questions and answers. And finally came the personal questions. Fedir asked Winona to become her fiancee. Winona confessed she didn't want to. At that point, Fedir began to have devilish horns, not literally. She grabbed her by her dress and threatened to rape her if she didn't want to marry him, in exchange. Winona was shocked. Fedir suddenly had a change of heart. He lured her into his trap. Winona wished everything was just a nightmare and that she will wake up. But no, it wasn't any dream or nightmare. It was all reality. What will she choose? Marriage of losing her chastity? She knew at once that losing her chastity is the worst answer. She build up all her courage to say that she will marry him but inside her, she feared for her life. She expected that Fedir will mistreat her, like Olena. She must be quick and witty to make a plan to escape from his dirty clutches. But for now, she must play along with him. At that moment, Fedir had a change of heart again. He was very happy. He promised that he will be a good fiance to her, which she found ironic ever since his previous rape threat.
|“||In the midst of the chaos lies the door of hope and its guardian.||”|
Post-World War II. Zhytomyr, Ukraine. December 20, 1962. Fedir invited Winona to come with him to the United States to celebrate the holidays. Since it was a protocol, not a friendly invitation, she agreed. They planned what they were going to bring and do there. Fedir said they were going to New York City in New York State, a place he dreamed of going ever since he was a child. Winona hadn't been outside Zhytomyr ever since she was a baby so she thought she might have severe homesickness. But she just kept this in her mind to prevent poking Fedir's "other side". Winona said goodbye to Olena, who was practically sweeter on her now. Great. Rich families do change some people's hearts. They set out at early dawn to reach Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
Post-World War II. Kiev, Ukraine. December 21, 1962. They arrived still pretty late, but better than never. They boarded the planned airplane around eleven in the morning. The sun was out, but it was still pretty chilly. Around 10 minutes later, the plane took off for New York City. Everything would've been fine if it weren't for some turbulence in the plane because of the strong winter winds.
Unfortunately, Tyche rolled three dices which resulted to the number 13: Bad luck. And what is the first bad thing that comes to your mind when you see or ride an airplane? Yes. That one. Plane crash, that is.
Post-World War II. North Atlantic Ocean. December 21, 1962. The wind started to subside, but the plane was still wobbling. The pilot didn't even bother to check what was happening until... the engine exploded. There was mechanical failure in the plane. The exploded engine made a hole in the wall. The passengers started to panic, with Winona and Fedir in it. Some passengers accidentally fell on the whole and into the churning ocean. Some voluntarily jumped to save their lives. Winona and Fedir was about to jump when the other engine exploded due to overheat. The plane began to fall from the sky. Winona and Fedir grabbed each other for safety as the plane plummeted to the ocean below. And, with a deafening splash, the plane was swallowed by the waters. Winona fell unconscious while Fedir was trapped by the debris. They lost hold of each other and Winona floated up to the surface.
As she floated in the ocean, the winds began picking up, as if the winds were trying to blow her on dry land. She drifted for hours, unaware of her fate after that.
Eventually, she reached Long Island Sound in New York City. Her body floated in Camp Half-Blood's white sandy beaches. From the trees came out a stunningly beautiful woman, armed with a silver bow and quiver of arrows. Her body had a silvery aura. The woman was Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and the wild. She walked towards the beach when she saw Winona floating on the shallow water. Without hesitation, she rushed for her to pick her up. At once, she sensed power in her and deemed her as a demigod. Upon confirming this, she brought her to her cabin. At that time, the Hunters were on Camp Half-Blood after their hunting to rest.
Post-World War II. Camp Half-Blood, Long Island Sound, New York. December 23, 1962. Winona woke up, feeling very dazed. She moved her head and saw that she was in a silvery building with paintings and images of wild animals. She looked around and saw some young-looking women with a silvery aura. They carried bow and arrows behind their backs and were busy talking to each other. One of them noticed that Winona was awake and decided to check on her. Winona felt threatened a bit because she doesn't know anyone of them. She tried to get up but she was still weak. One of the young women let her rest down on bed again and asked her some questions: What is her name, where did she came from and who is her godparent. Godparent? She wondered about that. So the young woman, who introduced herself as Philomena, explained things out. She explained that she was a demigod and that the place where they are, Camp Half-Blood, is a place for demigods to reside in and train. And specifically, she explained where they are. She told her about some characters in Greek mythology, including Artemis, of course.
Philomena's eyes suddenly lit up with a great idea. She asked her to become one of the Hunters of Artemis, like her. She explained that she will be forever young, immortal and full of blessings when she becomes of them. Winona thought of all the bad things that happened in her life, then all the times she dreamt of her fantasies. This was it. The answer to all her prayers, dreams and hopes. This was the home she would consider safe and sound from the dangers of the world, even if its not actually safe.
Her thoughts brought her back to her and Philomena's conversation. She agreed to do so, much to Philomena's glee. She asked her to recite the oath in becoming a Hunter of Artemis. Despite being not fluent at English, she managed to recite it with all her heart. After a few minutes, her own body began to have a silvery aura too, like the others. The other hunters noticed it too and clapped their hands. She was then given the standard clothing of the Hunters and the standard weapons: the silver bow, arrows and two hunting knives. She never used any weapons like those, but she promised to herself she will never use them for violence, only if really needed.
Post-World War II. Camp Half-Blood, Long Island Sound, New York. January 30, 1963. The Hunters of Artemis, inluding Winona, now set out for their journey to hunt across the land with Artemis by their side. But before they left, Aeolus appeared in her dreams. There he explained that he was his true father, not Stanislav. He recalled everything from how he met Greta, her true mother and how they got separated because of Zeus' decree. He explained that he watched over the two of them from his magical castle and got really sad when Greta died and how much Winona suffered in the hands of Olena, and even Fedir. He then revealed he was the one who gave her the beautiful ring.
Everything was clear now. Aeolus was her true father. She really was the daughter of the wind.
|“||Follow the beat of your heart and place yourself on the place you really feel you belong in.||”|
New Millenium. Camp Half-Blood, Long Island Sound, New York. November 20, 2012. The Hunters were back again from their long trip hunting and occupied Artemis' Cabin to rest. Winona, on the other hand, was thinking about something for a long time now. She was thinking on leaving the Hunt. Why? She experienced dangers for the past years. She nearly got killed. She wasn't that brave enough. She always relied on others to help her when she gets trapped in sticky situations. She didn't want to become a big burden to them. She wanted to stay at Camp Half-Blood as a normal demigod. She wanted to follow where her dream takes her, where heart longs to be. And she finally found the place and all the things she needed. She wanted to be comepletely safe while in the borders of Camp, meeting new people, experiencing new things. And so, she asked Artemis to remove her immortality and stated her reason. Artemis understood the personal conflict she was having and agreed to do so, but she told her that if she ever wish to come back to the Hunt, she and the other Hunters will always be there to welcome her back.
III: The Fate of Rzeznik, Magdalena, Fedir and Olena
|“||No one can escape death.||”|
World War II. Minsk, Belarus. June, 1941. During the 'Operation Barbarossa', Rzeznik was able to escape through means of getting a gun and fighting off the soldiers that comes in his way. Unfortunately, he was severely injured by a bomb that dropped nearby. He tried to get up but his wounds were so serious. Finally, he was given a mercy shot by a German soldier who saw him succumbing in the road. His body was then buried in a mass grave somewhere in Germany.
World War II. Auschwitz, Germany. August, 1941. Magdalena Belinski, one of the Germans' captives, was brought to the gas chambers of the concentration camp in Auschwitz and was gassed at exactly 5:32 PM. Magdalena, along with 30 other captives, were gassed that day. They were some of the countless innocent lives killed by the Germans during their invasion in the nearby European countries. Magdalena died at age 50.
Post-World War II. North Atlantic Ocean. December 21, 1962. As Winona's body floated along the ocean, Fedir's body was trapped in the debris of the airplane. Miraculously, the debris was removed from his place by the current of the water and the sinking of the plane. He floated back to the surface. But unfortunately, he was dead. His body was extremely pale and cold. No signs of life. No pulse. No hearbeat. No breathing. His body was retrived by rescuers two days after and was identified. He was brought back to Ukraine after New Year's day, the worst year-opening the present the Markovich Family ever had.
Post World War II. Zhytomyr, Ukraine. January 5, 1963. Olena Pastoria, upon knowing Winona's body has gone missing and Fedir dead, she grew crazy because she cannot have money anymore. All of her money was gambled out and she was totally bankrupted. She decided to, along with some of her friends, to rob a few residential houses in Zhytomyr. However, they were discovered a few weeks later. They were imprisoned and tried to escape but were shot by the police. Olena, one of the escapees, successfully grabbed a gun and tried to fight the police but to no avail, she was shot twice: one in the abdomen and one on the head. The Pastoria house was put up for sale after her burial but was then demolished as no one ever bought it.
The story of the "Angel in the Dirt" has ended. She has finally found the place where she belongs, with her heart as her guide. Torments of life tried to bring her down, but she stood up victorious. She has finally found the place where she belongs. How about you? Will you stand up for yourself and fight for your dreams like Greta and Winona? Will you find your own place in the world by your own efforts? The answer lies within... yourself alone.