Monsters fall in love, too.
When beautiful Marie arrived in our small village deep in the forest, she brought joy and love to my people.
Especially to me. I am Datu, their King.
But she is not what she seems. Her compassionate smile masks the anger burning in her heart and an insatiable thirst for revenge.
It was too late when I discover her treachery. The verdict of Death is unavoidable.
And while it pains me to bid her goodbye, I am consoled by the fact that I have done my duty.
Our legacy will endure.
Step into the world of Filipino folklore in THE BLACK WIDOW. Featuring the Philippine mythological creatures of encantada, tikbalang, and kapre, this is a story of love, revenge, and duty.
“I would stay away from her if I were you, Datu.”
Malek wasn’t one to mince words. Most times I appreciated him for that. Sometimes, I didn’t. And this was one of those times.
My mentor and best friend was much, much older than me. He had been my father’s trusted right-hand man, as well as my ancestors’ before him.
He had seen through three generations of our family.
It was rare for him to visit me in my house. He preferred to stay in his home, passing away the time in a multitude of small chores like gardening, cleaning, and reading. After his wife and son died, he turned hermit, refusing to go out and mingle with the living, finding solace in memories of the distant happy past, of days that will never come back.
I ought to be thankful that he was compelled to come out of seclusion. Countless times in the past, I was the one who sought him out, asking for his well-meaning advice. Presently, however, his reprimand was not to my liking. His tone was downright condescending.
He may be my mentor, but I was still king of my domain.
“You should know I would not succumb to a woman’s charms to the detriment of our people, Malek.”
“Is that right?” He steadily met my gaze.
I felt my temper rising. “I would tread carefully if I were you, Malek. You are bordering on disrespect.”
Immediately contrite, he bowed his head. “Forgive me, Datu. But the old folks have come to me with their. . .observations.”
The old folks. The ones we addressed as The Elders. Ten old, wrinkled women, they were known to possess wise insight and sharp perception with many years of experience on things that the younger generation had not yet encountered. And like Malek, they lived like hermits.
It was peculiar that they took the time to leave the comforts of their dwelling to encourage Malek to speak to me about this.
I asked, more out of curiosity than anything else, “What are they saying?”
“That she’s an encantada.”
I burst out laughing. “Malek, surely, you don’t believe such things can exist in our village!”
Unperturbed, he went on, his face expressionless. “There are certain mysteries we cannot explain. An open mind may prove to be a lifesaver. And the Elders feel she is not a white encantada, but a black one. The evil kind.”
“I do not think so,” I argued, my mind already disregarding the outrageous accusation.
“Datu.” His voice matched the steel in his eyes. “May I remind you, they are the Elders. You should at least hear them out.”
“And why, pray tell, would they think of her like that?” I fumed.
“Other than their instincts? She lives alone in the clinic with her collection of bottles, which contents are suspicious. One child reportedly saw her with a frog in her hands.”
I rolled my eyes. “Malek, she’s a doctor. And she’s not just an ordinary doctor. She’s a virologist. She creates vaccines that cure diseases. She has a great sense of duty too. How many doctors of that kind, much less lady doctors like her, have volunteered to practice their work here in our village? None. The last doctor sent by the government had ulterior motives.”
His face darkened at the memory, but only momentarily. Malek was an expert in clamping down emotions.
“Yes, that’s what’s worrying me. Why isn’t she afraid to live and work here, alone? I find it hard to believe that she doesn’t know the dangers of being in a remote area such as ours.”
“I would think that’s why she brought her own radio communication system, Malek. With batteries to boot. She’s not a fool.”
“What good would that do to her if she’s dead?”
“Malek,” my voice took on a hard edge.
He knew when to stop. “Forgive me once again, my friend. But I am truly concerned for your welfare as well as for the safety of our people. Nena suits you more.”
The mention of my childhood friend whom everyone was expecting me to marry made me seethe.
I replied to him forcefully, “I appreciate your concern. But believe me when I say that I am your ruler and I know what I am doing. I have not lost sight of my duty to my people. I intend to fulfill what my father and his ancestors have done before me.”
I remembered the brooding, disbelieving look he gave me that day. Did he know his advice would go unheeded?