Once Upon A World Away

Once upon a world away, the gypsy swore her life to stay. Grasp the rose but not the thorn, the poison is your burden borne. In this Beauty and the Beast story, Josephine and the band of gypsies she calls family are professionals--hunting legends and claiming the prize to share as they find fit. But the rose garden of a cursed castle turns out to be too much, and Josephine's will is put to the test when she gives her life over to the lord, a horrible beast with more secrets than the castle can hide.

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6. Once Upon A Castle's Cry

 

I awoke to the sounds of an organ.

Nearly six months had passed since the wolves, and in that time I had seen the Beast but five times. The table was always set for my meals, but the castle's master was never there. Nor was he in the library. Three times I had spied him from my window among the roses, admiring their beauty. Once was by accident as he darted around a corner from sight before vanishing into an unknown corridor. Only the first time was intended, when he apologized for his behavior.

Since then, I had lived my life in silence. No sounds but my own, my throat beginning to go mute from neglect, and my eardrums exploding with the sudden sound of music this morning. At first it frightened me, wondering what haunted ghost would feel such passion to play. Then, slowly, I realized it was my captor.

Sitting in my bed, I listened to the melody as it slowly built and grew, nearly turning to an anthem and then dying, shattered by loss and heartbreak. But this...It was not a simple loss. The notes were like words woven in my ears, and they brought tears to my eyes. I could see a child, such a young and hopeful thing, happy at first. Then in a sudden storm and frenzy, he was abandoned and betrayed by those he loved most dearly, left to suffering in solitude. And, one by one, the companionship of the notes faded into one lonely cry that seemed to scream through the castle halls, sobbing its tears and rejection without a care to who might hear.

Not bait to the cage, a desperate cry for help.

The plea brought to me tears, and I wept.

 

~~ * ~ * ~ * ~~

 

The Beast stood from his instrument and, as a detached surgeon from a passed patient, turned and walked away. The organ's dying cries echoed in the marble floor and velvet curtains, in the candles that jumped awake at his entrance. The castle itself was in pain, and it seemed there was no way to console it.

He ignored the empty halls and shattered rooms, everything kept perfectly only because he had no better things to do. The rooms did their best to clean themselves, but there was only so much a handful of rogue dusters might do. It was a hobby, a life-consuming obsession, this castle. The gardens, the books and studies that they provided him with. All of it was a bottomless abyss that devoured him more an more with every passing year.

Hell.

And, as he climbed higher in his tower, he descended further towards the deepest pits of that abyss, until he opened the old wooden door and strode in on Satan himself to beg for cruelty. But it was not Satan whose rosy lips blossomed to greet his eyes, thorny stem like a promise of beautiful punishments and poisons unheard of by men. An enchanted rose, to be sure, but just as terrible a sight as any venomous snake found in one's bed.

Unable to find the will to cover the beautiful bloom, he instead went to his curtained wall and pulled back the heavy velvet with one powerful tug. The mirror shimmered to life, and the Beast sighed as he stared at the monster. His only true companion, in the end.

He choked only a moment, the reflection waiting expectantly. Misused and dying, his voice broke on his words, “Mirror, mirror, that I see, should I set the gypsy free?”

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