Clouds rose high in the pale blue sky, the high noon sun filtered through the grey and dreary skies down to the village below. Smoke billowed from every home and paled with the upward climb, both stone and wooden buildings, while being watched from upon the castleís balcony by a young woman. Her foxy ears twitched and rotated as villagers scattered about like tiny ants, racing against time for the soon coming evening festive that would fill the night sky of laughter and merriment. When she arrived, then everyoneís joy would turn to ash in the wind. Her clawed hand peered out from her kimono as her eyes turned downward to traced the dark, blunt nails that despite their look could severe a manís head from his neck in a single swipe. She this because Beauty or rather Keiko, the residing spirit, had nearly a year ago. Yellow slit eyes traveled from the hand that quickly hid from her depression, tracing to the surrounding furniture draped with cobwebs and layered in timeless dust, a skeletal figure become her point of focus.
Beauty felt the burning of guilt etch into her soul at the sight. Even if she knew it wasnít her fault, the youth couldnít help but feel like she could have prevented it, save him even if the truth was not what she wanted. Unable to tear her eyes away from him, the thin blonde locks cascaded limply against the pale peeling bone while the once man slouched there in a velvet chair. Every bone exposed leaving him looking less human then when he arrived, even the ragged reminds of his Hallow Eveís outfit, a rich blue of a nobleís garment, had suffered the passing days. They were nothing left but tattered rags sagging across the bony frame. It was the ragged hole through the chest and cracked ribs that told the source of his demise. Pulling away from the window, Beauty walked slowly toward what Keiko had kindly left her before cradling the bones up in her robe. Each foot step felt like a funeral march, drawing closer to the small pile off in the far corner, the woman knew what lied there- a collection of victims- and the dark truth of everything. Upon reaching it she set the bone upon the rest, the sharp sound of bone clattering among the other made her heart seizure and tighten enough that she believed her chest held water instead of air.
He wasnít as filling as the fat one, Keikoís disapproving voice broke out in Beautyís head speaking of the third victim, clearly her favorite meal by the sound of it. Beauty half expected the fox demon to purr at the memory yet she merely continued. Discarding Beautyís quietness as any other day, Keiko continued in her silk voice rattled off her excitement to the upcoming Hallow Eveís Ball held upon the autumn equinox and the demonís favorite hunting ground. Letís get a large shall we, dear Beauty? Keikoís voice was almost coyly motherly in her comments, a deceiving action to make almost anyone relaxing in a false sense of comfort.
Unlike Beauty, they couldnít have known how easily or quickly Keikoís moods could shift. Merely a simple word could have her chuckling one moment but later, it could have her choking the life from the very source. Even the servants took cautious footsteps about Keiko/Beauty, unable to tell who was in control they were tense and edgy whenever she entered the room until Beauty reassured them. Yet there was always a questioning in their eyes which hurt Beauty the most. It made her alone in the world blanketed by snow.
A loud knock sounded at the door, rattling the dark mahogany frame causing Beauty to jump a little. Naturally this amused Keiko making her burst in a yipping bark of laughter. Finally letting the fit of foxy giggles to die, she commented, Being a bit of Mouse, dearie? A weak little thing like you is right to be afraid, afraid of loud noises and shadows for you are only worth being swallowed up after all. Nothing more sadly then a waste in the end, now open the door. Make yourself a bit more useful then amusing me.
Silent, her teeth biting her lip from replying, Beauty turned off to the door and reached out to the long iron handle that chilled her palm. It clicked though her hand as the hinges squeaked against being forced from their rest and Beauty couldnít help inwardly being sorry for disturbing the doorís peace. In front of her stood a stone statue, Matthias, with his unchanging expression with clothes held over his out stretched hands. Ridged back as stiff as in life, there was chips and scratches upon his figure that told of the wear and tear his service had bestowed upon him. His outfit had tight simple pants that covered over simple once brown shoes, a dress jacket over shirt and jacket with tight white curls on top his head. A large eagle nose profile and crowís feet at the edges of his eyes, Matthias seemed like he never smiled or didnít know how from his straight face. Not willing to make him wait much longer, Beauty took what seemed like miles and miles of material from the statueís hands suddenly finding herself thinking of the other servants within the castleís grounds.
Each servant had taken a form that suited their profession well and though the curse came with its perks, they all suffered in other ways she couldnít even begin to understand. Some hadnít even resembled human anymore like Brimestone the Gardener. Keikoís voice broke Beautyís thoughts as it was laced with impatience and desire to try on the dress sooner than needed.
Best get ready then, little one. Tonight is your night and bring someone with more meat on their won't you dear?
Meanwhile in the village.
Damp mineral rich water sweated through the grey stone of the prison walls, dripping down in rivulets and made everything it touch damp. An unhealthy chill that raced along the flesh and suffocated in the lungs causing sickness and disease among itís in habitants. Metal bars closed off the only open wall that lead to the corridor stretching to the outside. At least one large enough to fit a man, a slit rectangle of light peering through the slotted window that allow the morningís fridge air to seep in. Snow outside threatened to cut off the only natural light that reached for a manís face and seemed to caress it, in daily war with the fading flames of the interiorís torches. Their flames slowly dying out as the afternoonís hours stretch onward. The only way to keep track of time was through that tiny window barely able to slip a hand or arm through its thin shape, the gloomy shadows darken the light pouring in making a single shaft of light upon the cellís flooring.
There seemed no signs of life within the many cells of the village jail, each just as draft as the next giving no comfortable quarter or warmth of any kind. Flat stone serving as a bed was mounted with itching and sometimes infested straw that provided the only comfort against the hard surface. A small chamber pot aged with used stains and cracked along the upper lips, the few messily scattered straws nested underneath. Chains wrapped about the manís wrists keeping him down and in place from reaching the cells opposite end.
The sounds of stead footsteps echoed endlessly off the walls of the tight hallway leading in. Travis Kinray walked among the dirty and grimy floor connecting to the cells open bars, his hands pulled in behind his back while each step kicked out in front, his eyes averted from each door he passed until he stopped dead at the only one in use. His hair moved against his ears and flipping it slight back slightly back, his jaw tightened in seriousness while his gaze narrowed upon the chained criminal within the stone room. Leaning close to the bars Travisís face held a displease look of vile hate upon the man. His earlier handsome features twisted and darkened by the scowl revealing his utter disgust, his chest taking in swallow breaths, unhappy about breathing the same air between before relaxing. Travis knew he had the upper hand. It was clear in his comfort of carelessly actions and posture. Propping his arms up against the bars, resting in the gaps between, the tavern owner and head villager let his eyes take in the man or rather Beast in front of him. It was impossible not to see the ticking wheels in Travisís head at work. Those eyes flickering in thoughts and silence thick upon the air until it was shattered at once by the deep, rich voice commenting almost mockingly at first.
ďEnjoying the stay in the finest rooms the village has to offer for someone such as yourself? I would hope you arenít disappointed by our hospitality or excellent meals, Sir Beast,Ē just as quickly cutting the sarcastic play from his tone, Travisís voice took on a sharp and deadly curious one,Ē How does it feel to know what lies behind the bars? That the next day could very well be your lastÖĒ