There is no beast so fearsome as a madman scorned from above;
There is no force so pow'rful as hope for impossible love.

Prince Gaston thinks that the legendary Assassin is the only hope for saving King Maurice's kingdom. But when the Assassin doesn't want to be paid in gold; he wants something that King Maurice's daughter and Prince Gaston's betrothed, Belle, can never give up; a human companion. Princess Belle offers herself up instead, and is whisked away to the Assassin's hidden fortress. But the more time that Belle spends with her captor, the more she struggles with balancing trust, forgiveness, and old fashioned common sense.


17. Chapter 17

The Assassin stood beside Queen Snow's throne. Whether she wanted to impress or threaten her visitor and courtesans, the Assassin wasn't certain. But it was evident she no longer cared if the rumors were proven true. 

He could hear the young noble-ladies gossiping about his 'magnificent jawline'. He could hear the older noblemen sniffing about how he was untrustworthy and their wives saying he was giving the queen a whorish reputation. He knew the guards were watching him, and he could hear Queen Snow's guests arriving. 

Mostly, he just heard the monster raging. He was in a drunken frenzy, eager for more blood. 

Always for more blood. 

"More! They're right there! KILL THEM. The girl in yellow is walking to the Queen. The man by the window has five weapons. KILL. There are no threats to the Queen. The guests are outside the door. The door is opening. THEM. The crowd is parting. The guests are stepping in. One is haughty one is beautiful. The Queen stands for them. Thank you for coming all the way from Tearian you're welcome your majesty the haughty man is simpering the girl opens her mo-" 

They fell silent. 



Belle's voice. Beautiful, beautiful Belle. No no NO. Kill her! 

"Pardon me?" demanded Queen Snow, mistaking Belle's cry for an insult. 

Belle was running towards him. He should run. He should leave through a window or the door or the other door three exits kill her guards moving silence. 

She was touching him. 

Blissful silence. 

"What are you doing here?" He did his best to make his voice contemptuous. Reject her. Refuse her advances. You despise her. 

"Dont' try that," she said in a scolding tone. The crowd behind her was murmuring eagerly. Gaston was furious, no doubt. But without those voices he was so blind. So free. "I know why you sent me away. You were worried for me. But beast, don't be! I was so happy and I love youa-" 

She was jerked away from him. The voices all came back. 

"Bell, no," said the voice of Prince Gaston. 

"I didn't want you to come anyways," Belle said in a voice that was nearly ferocious. 

"He's bewitching you again!" Gaston snarled. The Assassin was enraged. No one snarled at Belle. "We need to get you back to the clergy men and way from this monster." 

"The clergy?" Belle said incredulously. "So they can pray and wave smoke in my face and beat the evil spirits out of me? No! No more, Gaston. I am never returning to that, or to Tearian." 

Her hands were on the Assassin again. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "It took me too long to puzzle out. But I can help you now." 

"They beat you." His voice was numb. 

"Let's leave," Belle pressed. "Back to your fortress. I can help you now, my beast. No more blood. No more voices." 

"No," the Assassin said. It was a whisper, tender and heart-broken. "You will not help me. I will never allow that." 

"Belle-" Gaston started. 

I will kill him. I will rip off his skin and pull him apart muscle by muscle for hurting my Beauty, thought the Assassin. 

A single, bloody voice in his head. 

Then a thousand raging ones as Belle's hands left him. 

And then sight. 

Belle flung his hood back, revealing his face to the court. They all gasped or screamed at the sight. And the monster wanted, needed to kill them all. 

The voice left as her hands grasped his face. She was standing on tip-toe to reach him. 

"Belle," he mumbled, mind suddenly moving slowly. Too slowly. "What... what are you doing?" 

"I love you," she whispered. 

Then he pressed her lips to his. 

"No," he mumbled against them. "No no no! Belle, what have you done?" 

"What do you mean?" She looked at him with concern. Not for herself; never for herself. Always for him. For a beast, for a monster, for a man that could do nothing but kill her. Or worse. 

It was so, so much worse. 

He pulled away from Belle's blissful touch. But the voices did not follow. 

They stayed with her. 

There was no breaking his curse. 

There was only taking it for herself. 

"No, Beauty," he gasped, tears falling down his face. Her eyes rolled back into her head. 

He had to save her. Death was better than that life. Anything was better than that life. 

He tried to draw a knife, to slit her throat, to watch her beautiful life spill out on the floor. But he couldn't. He couldn't do it. 

He closed his eyes. There were no voices to tell him what happened. He didn't need them. 

When he opened them, Belle was gone. There was only a beast. 

It ran. 


End of Book I 

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