The Rose

Ever since her mother died and her father disappeared, Belle has been waiting for this moment. Her daggers at the ready, her heart steeled with confidence, she faced him.

The beast.

Veangeace is a mocking thing.

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6. Chapter V

   When the beast turned back to me, I had my daggers out.

   ‘How could you?’ I asked, my voice eerily calm. The beast looked at the weapons in my hands, narrowing his eyes.

   ‘You gave your word. Now put them away.’ He said. I stood strong, ready to pounce.

   ‘I said I would stay in this castle forever. I didn’t say anything about you being my company.’

   I charged.

   My dagger jutted out, but he was too quick, narrowly dodging it. I turned around, facing him once more. I studied him quickly. I charged again, feigning going for his arm. At the last moment I let me knees hit the floor, the momentum of my charging letting me slide past him, slicing his leg in the process.

   He roared with pain. I stood, ready to go at him again. Too late. He grabbed my neck with his giant paws and shoved me to the wall.

   My breathing was ragged for a second. I lifted my dagger, stabbing his arm. He cried out once more, but he didn’t let go. Instead, he threw me back against the wall, knocking me out cold.

#

   I awoke with a hazy brain, darkness clouding my vision. I squinted, my eyesight eventually returning to me. I took in my surroundings. I was sitting up in a four-poster bed with deep purple sheets. A huge dressing table that displayed my dagger sin all of their glory stood opposite the end of the bed, a mirror reflecting my startled face back to me.

   ‘Finally, you’re awake.’ I heard a grumble to my right. I spun to face the noise. That small movement caused my brain to go foggy, and I nearly fell back to bed. When my vision cleared, I saw the beast lounging in a massive armchair, a furry eyebrow raised at me. I scowled at him. He merely laughed.

   ‘You don’t need to be so defensive all the time, you know.’ He attempted a smile, but it was more menacing than comforting.

   ‘Last time I let my guard down a certain someone kidnapped my father.’ I snarled. ‘That won’t be happening again.’

   ‘Well, I certainly won’t be attempting it any time soon. You’ve caused enough hassle to last a lifetime.’ He motioned to his bandaged leg. The gauze that covered the wound was hastily applied. It clearly wasn’t done by someone who knew about how to properly dress injuries. Interesting.

   I looked up from his leg to see him studying me as I had studied him.

   ‘You’re awfully skilled. For a woman, that is.’ He said.

   ‘You’re awfully discriminatory for a spit-upon beast.’ I quipped, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed. I slowly stood up, careful not to cause more lightheadedness.

   ‘Typical women don’t know how to use daggers the way you do.’ He retorted.

‘Typical women use their tongues, which are just as powerful.’ I narrowed my eyes at him. ‘Women are a lot stronger than you might think, beast. We have the heirs and graces of a swan, paired with the power and bravery of a lioness. Do not cross women.’ I looked him up and down. ‘Though I suspect it’s too late for such a warning.’

   ‘I have a name.’ He said under his breath.

   ‘I don’t care to learn it.’ I replied. I strolled to the dressing table, slumping into the chair that sat before it. I inspected my daggers. They had been wiped clean of blood, in fact, they shone my reflection back at me as if they had been polished.

   ‘It’s Adam.’ The beast interrupted my thoughts and I swiveled around to face him. ‘And don’t get any ideas of trying to escape again. It’s tiresome.’

   ‘I wasn’t getting ideas.’ I mumbled, glancing back at my beautiful blades. So he was the prince. How had he become a beast? Was he cursed, as the villagers back home thought? I didn’t believe in magic. I often heard the villagers at home referring to me as a witch, but that didn’t mean much. Being able to kill someone without leaving a single trace wasn’t witchcraft. I spent months practicing for the moment I would face the beast. I knew how to bandage a wound, how to properly wield a sword and knives, how to cover my tracks.

   But this beast was surely the prince. He was cursed. But by whom?

   ‘You’re Belle. Good name, suits you.’ He said, interrupting my thoughts.

   ‘Does it now?’ I said back, facing him once more. ‘Adam. Meaning “man”. Your parents must have been quite spiteful.’ I raised a brow. I knew I was being mean. But what could I do? My attempt at coming up with a plan of escape was taking more time than expected. And maybe I could get some information out of him if I coerced him.

   ‘I…’ The beast had bafflement written all over his furry face. He frowned.  ‘You’re not stupid. You’ve figured it out by now, no doubt.’ He continued to frown as I glanced at the blades again.

   He was right. I wasn’t stupid. I was too weak to attempt escape right now. I would need at least a few hours to recover. If I could get the beast to reveal even a little bit more information in the meantime, then I could easily formulate some sort of plan.

   The question was whether I should kill the beast on my way out or not.

   ‘Of course I’ve figured it out.’ I turned to him, leaning on the dressing table. ‘But I want to know how it happened. Surely, you didn’t magically turn into a beast one morning.’

   His face darkened, a growl escaping his lips. ‘It makes no difference to you what happened. What I want to know is why you’re here, and why you want to kill me.’ He had the nerve to smirk. ‘I might spare you if you tell the truth.’

   ‘Spare me? How generous.’ I narrowed my eyes at him. He was just as intimidating as you would imagine a man-beast hybrid to be, but I refused to let myself show fear. ‘I could kill you right here, right now. You’re already injured, you aren’t the most skilled fighter, and I have blades. So tell me beast,’ I paused, eyeing him. ‘who cursed you?’ 

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