Handsome and the Beast?
Snow crunched under the heavy hooves of the chestnut cob. The slight feathering around the hooves was balled up and matted with clumps of snow, giving all four feet a cold silver crown. The animal snorted and shook it’s mane free of falling snow. The man on its back sneezed.
Snorting the snot back up his pinkish nose, the hung-over man pulled the dark cloak tighter around himself as another shiver tickled his spine mercilessly.
“Ugh, Luc…” He grumbled, seemingly to no one. “I hate these woods.” Feverish, tired eyes glanced off to his right, then to his left. Whatever he was looking for didn’t show in the dark and towering trunks. And for a second, he’d forgotten what he was looking for.
“Fuck me and my loud mouth.” Vidal muttered and clutched hard to the thick leather reins.
He had been successful this winter and stocked up good in his little cabin with a very long hunting trip just before this snow fury. Of course, he celebrated in the tavern later, drinking himself to death…and gambled away most of his furs.
Teeth clenched tightly as he remembered. What an idiot he was.
And when someone burst into the heady sea of drunken men, demanding for the best hunter to come quickly, he’d leapt onto an old oak table, boasting loudly he could hunt anything. He had been promptly swept off his feet and dragged to some old man who begged him to go out and kill some savage thing.
He agreed, for a right price. And set off in the early morning hours after another round of cursed bad luck to gain back his furs and lost a good part of his meat. Now… He had spent the day wandering out here in the woods, searching for….searching for...
“A haunted castle, Luc.” He snorted. “We’re lookin’ fer a haunted…castle. What castle would be built ‘ere, eh? In this godforsaken forest?” The cob snorted, gaining a chuckle out of the man. “That’s wishful thinking.” He yawned and tried to pull the cloak tighter about him. He was freezing, and this pounding that grew greater and greater in his head wasn’t helping things either. “I think I’m just gunna…set up camp, Luc. I’m tired and wanna sleep… Probably just a bear he saw – “
Luc, the chestnut cob, abruptly halted without warning, causing Vidal to bite down hard on his tongue and send his pained head into a spin. With a curse, he spat out the sudden blood and glared down at Luc’s fuzzy and alert ears. “The fuck you think yer doing?” He snarled. “This is ain’t the place fer a – “ The rider glanced up once then had to do a double take at the old gate standing before them.
“…camp…” Vidal stared at the rusted, twisted metal. Its design was fierce and pointed, and looked very much like what the old man had described. “Is this it, Luc?” Slipping his feet out of the stirrups, the man dismounted his horse and readjusted the cloak about him. The hood was pulled over his head and he stepped closer to the gate, trying to see the castle on the other side. The tangled, dead and frozen courtyard was all he could see. The manor beyond it was shrouded with a mist, cloaking its stone walls from his eyes.
“Well,” he sniffed, “miracles happen, I suppose.” He returned to Luc’s side and pulled a rifle out of its sheath on the saddle. It was this baby that made him so lucky and successful for winter. He spent so much time and effort to get it, and boy, he couldn’t imagine how he lived without it. Vidal cocked the gun to be ready for any moment for anything, and walked back to the gate. He pushed it open; at first it resisted with rusted hinges then gave way to his force.
“Alright, Luc, let’s get this over with.” He grabbed the reins and took a step across the gate’s threshold. He paused, judging the snow but the fresh fall covered any and all evidence of anything crossing this ground. Tugging on the reins to get the reluctant Luc to follow, he marched on. It was a battle between rider and mount, a tug-of-war to get the fighting cob through the courtyard to the castle. What should have been a quick walk left Vidal huffing and puffing at the castle’s doorsteps.
“My Lord, Luc.” Vidal tossed the reins, not really caring where they landed. The horse pawed at the snow and chomped at his bit nervously. Vidal glared at his mount. “You can stay here, you idiot. I’ll go and check this place out…maybe we can camp inside as well.” Gripping his rifle with both hands, Vidal marched up the steps in great crunching paces. Before he reached the doors, a gust of wind swept through and crashed into the weathered entrance, wringing the doors open with a loud bang. A dark, long hall stretched into the depths of the castle and seemed to suck the wind in as if the castle itself was taking a deep breath. The cloak was tugged and pulled into the hall; snow was swept inside, tumbling into the shadows never to be seen again. Nothing but for a pillar of marble or two was visible inside.
Muttering under his breath of the promised rewards for the hide of the supposed beast within, Vidal stepped inside, readying his gun.
The beast... had a story. He had his own story, just like every other beast in this world, human, used to be human or animal alike. And his was like most of the others, with just a little bit of a twist. You see... deep down, the beast was just a man. He had a heart, skin and two legs. He had a voice and a brain and emotions. But no one would believe him, and that's why he was in this castle.
Just a year ago... he had been a man. A very good looking man, who'd gotten on the wrong side of a witch. So, he went from being a popular man around this village to being a beast hidden in the woods. But why had no one questioned where he had gone? Was is possible that no one had ever truly liked him? He knew he'd been mean, but he thought he'd at least had a few friends. But of course, now that he was this accursed... monster, you had a lot of time to think.
The beast shook his head and sighed, closing his eyes. Another winter day.
He looked at the flower upon the table and sighed once more, biting down on his lip softly. There were only three petals on it. Three when there should have been eighteen of them. The witch had given him a year and a half to find his true love. And of course... no one wanted to be associated with a monster like him... so he was down to only three months now.
The beast growled then and threw an empty glass at the wall across from him, then roared and stormed out of his room, wandering around the house. He ignored the little figures and such moving around. When he had been turned into this monster, his cat had been turned into a little foot rest and his dog a chair. He daren't sit on either one of them, because he didn't want to hurt them. His friends had been turned into other objects and so while he was alone, he wasn't really alone alone.
Now though, he heard a movement that was to heavy to be anything he owned, so he paused and looked around, wondering what it could be. There was no way a human could have wandered into his lair... was there?
The doors slammed behind him the minute he crossed the threshold, making him jump and cutting off the fresh air. He was left in almost total darkness. Only a bare sliver of light filtered out from somewhere. It wasn’t long until his eyes adjusted to the lack of light and he moved on with a tight grip on his gun.
Leaves from late fall crunched under his boots as Vidal strode further in. It was clear this place had been abandoned for some time. There wasn’t a spot he saw that wasn’t heavily covered in dust or laced with old spider webs.
It was worse than his cabin which left frequently for long trips.
Coughing out an itch in his throat from the musty air, the hunter halted as the hall opened to some spacious room. He thought he heard a scuttling of something small just moments ago. But it came and went so fast, he tossed it to his imagination and fuzzy head with a shrug and walked on, peering at forgotten antiques here and there.
Be it laziness, or a need to rest, Vidal slowly lowered the nozzle of his gun as no evidence of a beast’s presence was found. His tight shoulders dropped and he became careless with his steps, scuffing the tiles with his heels as he wandered around the castle.
The beast growled as he heard sounds within his castle. There was definitely someone here, he was sure. So he left his room, his hairy body amd face tight with anger and distress.
"Who's there!" He roared out. Only his voice didn't sound like it was speaking. He had to enuciate evvery letter he spoke otherwise it just sounded like he was growling, like now. Though he didn't much care anymore. He only had 3 months tofind someonr to love him or he was stu k in this cursed body.
"Who's there?" He called out again, speaking slowly but loudly.. He walked around, trying to find the intruder so he could kill the man and be done with it. maybe he'd be killed in the process and wouldn't have to worry about amything anymore..
“Jesus fucking Christ!” Vidal hissed at the sudden rumble. He reeled back, slamming into some musty curtains that spat out dust as his eyes scanned for a beast somewhere. The great noise bounced around the great room he was in; he couldn’t pinpoint where it originated from. But he sure as hell knew it wasn’t like any animal he ever heard. His finger wrapped around the trigger as everything in the shadows seemed to move; the nozzle was erect and pointed out to any suspicious shape.
Then he heard a voice. It was clear enough to be understood, and it sent his mind in a confused muddle. Was it an animal he was dealing with, or a hermit? His mouth opened, at first to respond, and then clicked shut with nothing said. He stayed silent for a while with his back pressed against the old curtains. He did hear movement above him. Whatever was here was probably up a floor. It felt big, but he only counted two legs in the gait.
“Fuck it.” Vidal muttered, loosening his finger from the trigger. But the nozzle was never lowered.
If it was a hermit, fine. He could hunt the old man an apology and get out of here. He had spied some deer tracks somewhere out in that damn forest.
If it was a beast, fine. He’ll shoot it and go home; back to his lonely little place that was certainly getting snowed in.
The hunter took in a deep breath.
“Vidal!” He bellowed his name out into the open. “Name’s Vidal. Who’re you?”
The beast growled, not sure he knew what do. Kill the... man. He was sure the intruder was i based on the gait and now.. voice? Yes.
"Vidal.." he murmured aloud and then ran down to the floor before, thundering as he advanced. "I am the owner of this castle. Forsaken and forgotten..."
He found the man and came forward, pulling the gun from his hand and tossing it.
"And now you. You are my prisoner." He laughed darkly and reached for the man, intending to throw him into a bedroom and lock the door. . Windows were barred so no escape that way unless he broke the heavy, solid oak door down.
He saw it coming, and whatever the hell it was he hadn’t expected it to look like it did. A face of fur and teeth gnashed out at him, grinding out words hard to understand. But its actions were not.
He tried to yank his precious rifle back but the power of the thing (he didn’t dare call it a beast, it certainly wasn’t even that) ripped it out of his grip. He almost flew with the gun, but it clattered and slipped into some shadows while he fell and skid across a few tiles.
He was quick to roll to his feet – the laugh of the thing only spurred him on to flee. Tugging at the strings that clasped his cloak on his neck, the heavy garment was shed as he shot off in a direction of what he hoped would lead back outside to Luc.
"Oh. You aren't going anywhere snapped the Beast and he was in front of the man, agile despite his enormous size. Of course when he spoke it just sounded like a roar so he grabbed the man and flung him back, then called out for his candle which came hopping into view, carrying a small knife in one of it's brass branches.
"Here mi'lord," it spoke in a high voice tinged with fear.The beast grabbed the knife and advanced. "You can either cooperate and.come with me. Or you can run and risk this knife in your back..." the Beasts words were crisp. Spoken slow snd clear. No sign of pity nor menace in his eyes. The Beast just wanted the intruder out of tye way, one way or another.
He yelped at the sudden sight of the thing in front of him. Stepping hard on his heels, Vidal tried to skirt around the thing but a heavy claw lunged at him and flung him back. He was airborne for a split second then landed harshly on his shoulders, his head striking the hard floor where he lay sprawled, stunned.
A ringing sounded in his ears and for a moment he thought he was paralyzed. The numbness he felt edged away, and the raging hurt pulsed painfully somewhere…
When he opened his eyes, his vision blurred and bright lights speckled the dark canvas. He blinked once, twice, a third time did the trick and he craned his neck to view the damnable demon. A sharp pain shot up his face and a duller one pinched a nerve in his neck. Wincing, Vidal pulled a shaking hand to his face as he watched the bronze candle…hopping toward the thing. It handed the thing a knife as his fingers prodded clumsily at the wound on his cheek. It all felt surreal until the thing spoke again.
"You can either cooperate and come with me. Or you can run and risk this knife in your back..." the Beasts words were crisp and sent a jolt of dread down Vidal’s spine.
He didn’t take much time to think it over. Heart pounding, he chose the latter – he faced knives before but not beasts like this. His limbs gave out underneath him when he moved too fast to push himself back on his feet. His head clacked again against the floor, and his mind reeled in a dizzy spin.
“ugh,” he groaned.
Fuck it. He gave up.
"Stupid human," growled the Beast, and then he picked the man up and brought him to a rather nice bedroom. He set him down on the bed and left without another word, slamming the door shut behind him and locking it from the outside. Now... a human prisoner. "Make lunch!" The beast rumbled and knew his order would be met as he made his way his way to his own wing. A wing that was forbidden to everyone except him and his pet. He looked at the flower on his bedside table and wondered if he plucked the petals off now, if he'd just die. No beast, no human. Just.. death. But no. He wouldn't. Not yet... But how was he going to lure a girl in here? Though if he was honest with himself... the Beast had never liked women.. he'd always been attracted to a mans muscles and the deep voices and... all that. And here was a man, who'd wandered right into his castle and now... the beast decided he was going to do his best to make this man love him. Even if they'd gotten off to a rather rough start.. but where to begin? How to seduce a man? No.. not even seduce. How to love.. to make one fall in love.. And in less then three months. He needed help.