Fairy Tale Fantasy: Beastly LegendbyRedHairedandFriendly©
Author's Note: A thank you to hugo_sam who helped me with editing on this story. For those new to the series... please check out the other Fairy Tale Fantasies to understand the characters Hetta and Daniel. Enjoy and I look forward to reading your comments. ~ Red
Hetta and Daniel sat on the shelf beside the bottle of aged wine. "How often have you heard the tales of your escapades?" Daniel asked his friend. He knew he was sitting closer than he should, but he didn't care. He needed to be with her. He breathed deep the scent of lilies and lilacs, both of them a constant scent on her.
"This one is my favorite," she whispered back. "Now hush."
"Well . . . I'm bored."
"Do something to entertain yourself then," she hissed.
"Muck up something you mean?"
"Don't even think about it " she growled.
Daniel laughed and slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him. His mouth went to her ear and he nipped the lobe. "Does it matter how I entertain myself?" he whispered. His tongue traced the curve of her ear and he grinned when he heard her intake of breath.
"Behave," she told him. Hetta felt the rippling of butter-fairies in her belly and wondered if it was the same feeling a human got when they spoke of butterflies in their stomach. She pulled her head away and looked at her friend. "Daniel . . . you should look after your charges."
He chuckled and kissed her lips, his tongue dipping in for a taste before she could pull away. "Mmm . . . honey biscuits for supper I see." He disappeared before her wand could tap him on the head. Hetta shivered at the loss of his companionship and tried to concentrate on the scene below her magically, shrunken form.
Henry Liddick sat at the bar listening to the old relic tell the young folks at the tavern of the legend of the woods, as he downed another mug of ale. He too had listened to those words, hung on them just like the wee ones were doing now, but Henry was a man now pushing 40, a wife long dead, three daughters to care for. His twins were the vilest creatures. Both were rude and did nothing but complain of their lots in life. His youngest, Jenny, was the beauty that her mother was. She would brighten his day with a smile and a hug. Though she was everything a father could want in a daughter, she was often why he drank so much. Her beauty reminded him of his lost love and he would find himself drinking away her memory.
His thoughts drifted back to the story teller and the "Ohhs and Ahhs" of the children.
"The Prince you see was a greedy man, not to mention full of himself. That night the rain was falling hard and I barely heard the knock on the castle door," the old man said.
"Was it truly a castle?" a small boy piped up.
"Yes . . . and I really was one of the palace guards. That night I opened the door and I saw an old woman. She had long hair that had grayed with age and hung in wet tangles. Her clothes were worn and holey. She was cold and asked me if I would give her food and drink."
A young girl asked, "Was she as old as Madam Martha?"
Madam Martha chuckled, "No Grace, she wasn't as old as me, no one is that old."
Henry rolled his eyes and twisted around. "No Martha . . . you know how the story goes." He took a swig of his drink and continued, "This story is what grows old. Stories like this make the woods an eerie place for children."
The old man said nothing to Henry. He remembered when the man was a young boy and was entranced with his stories. Now the loss of his wife had made Henry Liddick a bitter man. The story teller continued, "I took the old woman to the kitchens where I found her bread and warm cider to enjoy. I then went in search of the Prince to see if we could find a place for the woman to sleep."
"He wasn't a nice Prince was he?" the youngest girl in front asked. The story had been told many times and the children all knew it by heart, but they each loved hearing it over and over again.
"No. He came and looked at the woman. He ordered me to take her back outside, that her filth wasn't fit for his stables! I couldn't believe it. I begged him to reconsider. The rain had suddenly changed to snow and I knew the woman would die if she were forced to travel outside."
The old man stopped and took a swig of his drink and his eyes connected with Henry's. "That woman stood up and changed, right there in front of me, my Prince, and the kitchen help. She became a Goddess. Her hair was pale blue . . . the color of the sky on a winter's day. Oh and she had the most entrancing eyes. She wore a gown that shimmered when she moved. She pulled a wand from her sleeve and looked at Prince Collan."
No one made a sound not even Henry; he too, was lost in the story.
The old man continued, "The woman was so beautiful the Prince dropped to one knee, pledged his love to her, begged her to stay, and be his wife. She told him that he'd been blinded by his prejudice . . . that means he thought he was better than everyone else . . . and well . . . she lifted the wand and suddenly I watched everyone turn to stone except myself and Prince Collan."
"Oh my "
"What was her name?"
"Were you scared? Did you scream?"
The questions poured from the children and the old man answered them as best he could. "I was scared. I looked at the Prince and he too was scared. He asked her who she was and why she did this thing to him. She became very angry. She told him she was one of the many Fairies in the land and he'd failed her test. He pleaded with her telling her he was sorry, but his words fell on the wind. She lifted her wand again and Prince Collan screamed in pain as he suddenly began to change."
There were several gasps from the small group of children. "He became an animal. A beast He grew another three feet and his nose became a long snout. His teeth became razor sharp and his entire body was covered in hair "
"Oh no "
"Yes," he told the young girl with the pigtails. "I watched it all happen. The beautiful creature told him that only true beauty and love would relieve him of his burden in life and she looked at me and smiled. She told me that I would find a woman to love me and she was right. I did. My beautiful Sarah married me . . . and we had a long life together."
"Yes, but she's dead now. Isn't she, old man? Some happy ending for you huh?" Henry said.
Eyes glared at Henry and he understood their silent message. He left the bar just as the rain began to fall. As he stumbled in the night, he stopped at the edge of the forest. He could go around it. He had all these years ever since hearing the old man's tales. "Stupid bastard," he muttered into the wind. Henry took the path that would lead him through the woods and take him to his home much faster then the usual route he took.
The rain began to thicken and fall in sheets around him. The bottle he purchased before leaving the bar was no longer full when he stumbled over a root. He pitched forward and fell. Glass shattered and imbedded in his hand. He cried out in pain as he pulled himself up. He was lost and knew it. The glass in his hand was excruciating and when he saw the iron gate he sent a prayer to the heavens. He fell against it calling out for help.
Collan heard the yells coming from his castle gate and turned his head back toward the keep. He inhaled and easily picked up the scent of the man's fear as well as the liquor on his breath. He shook head and quickly headed back to his home. When he reached the edge of the iron fence, his sharp, yellow eyes stared at the man. He rose up on his hind legs, his steps barely made a sound as he stalked the human.
Henry sensed something or someone was watching him. He immediately sobered realizing where he was. His fingers released the gate and he stepped back. Fear ran through him as the old man's stories reached his ears. As he turned to flee, his eyes locked with a pair of cold yellow ones that stared back at him.
Henry screamed, but it went unheard as the creature grabbed the man's neck and lifted him from the ground. The animal snarled.
Collan had lived in this form for the last 75 years. He'd been 20 when the curse was placed on him and his servants. His guard of the same age had left him and Collan had lived the remaining days of his existence in a castle full of frozen figures. Those frozen forms were the stone figures Henry stared at as the beast dragged him by the collar of his jacket through the overgrown garden.
Collan cursed the statues. It had taken him months to move them all outside the keep and into the garden. Their silence had been deafening those first few weeks and had nearly driven him insane. Now as he pulled the man through the garden he felt their eyes upon once more, accusing him with their granite-hard gazes.
He knew keeping the man was wrong, but something told him this was the key to ending his curse. The villagers would come, battle him, and then he could die. That was all he wanted now. He longed to die and end the curse. Now he had bait. Collan threw Henry into the damp pit of his dungeon and left him there to wait for others to come looking for him.
Jenny sighed as she stepped out of the tavern. She'd gone there for the fourth and final time over the past week to find out if anyone had seen her father. The reply was always the same. "No, not since the night of the storm."
She pushed her hair back and tied it with a leather string. "Jenny," her sister Alice called to her.
"Yes?" she asked. Jenny turned and looked at the elder twin. She was identical to her sister Abigail who was only born two minutes after Alice.
"Did you find him?" Alice asked. In her hands she carried a basket of cloth and ribbon. Abigail followed close behind holding several hat-boxes.
Biting her lip, she mentally calculated how much the two sisters had spent and groaned. "No, I haven't. What are you doing with all of that?"
The girls laughed. "We needed these things. Where are you going to go and look for him now?" Alice asked. "We need him back here or we'll be forced into poverty "
"We'll be forced there faster if you two don't stop " Jenny took a deep breath. "I will go to the next town and see if anyone has seen a man like him."
"You can't leave us There is still the mending to be done and who will cook our meals?" Abigail whined.
A voice joined the women and Jenny cringed. "Hello, ladies. I couldn't help but hear that you still can't find your father, how sad for you." Warren's eyes traveled over Jenny's petite figure, his body responding accordingly to the silent appraisal he was giving it.
"Yes . . . it's quite sad. Now Jenny is insisting on going to the next town to find him," Abigail said. She batted her thick black eyelashes at the handsome man. He ignored her, as well as her twin's attempt to distract him by thrusting her chest further out in front of her.
"He's a drunkard Jenny. You're better off without him. Let him be and I'll be sure you're taken care of properly," Warren told her. Daggers flashed back at him, tossed at him by Jenny's icy blue stare.
"He's our father and I will find him," she spun on her heels and left the group.
Warren watched her and he muttered under his breath, "Damn woman. She'll lie beneath me willingly or not." He stormed off not once bothering to address the two women he left behind. Alice and Abigail stared in disgust at both people and returned to their home. They argued over who would do the cooking and the cleaning while Jenny was gone.
She'd spent a week in the other town learning nothing and was on her way home. Night was falling fast and she knew if she didn't go through the woods, she wouldn't make it home until the wee hours of the morning. She eyed the paths that she could take and side. The dreams of Beasts and legends spoke to her, but Jenny sighed and said, "Stories of a lonely man, can't keep you scared forever." She then walked in to the woods.
Jenny was lost in thoughts of how to tell her sisters that she believed their father had perished in an unknown accident. She feared he was lost to them. Her thoughts weighed heavy on her mind. They disappeared when the sound of someone crying out for help reached her ears and disturbed her musings.
"I'm coming " she called to the voice, hurrying forward. She realized then that as she ran through the forest she'd gotten off the path as was in fact lost. Jenny hoped that when she reached the person needing aid they'd know the way out of the woods. Her head suddenly began to fill with the stories she'd heard as a child, but she shook them off. "No time for that," she muttered out loud.
Jenny listened to sounds of the crying voice that continued to call for help. She reached a black, iron fence, followed it until she came to a gate. She waited, her fingers hovering over the latch, and cried, "Where are you?"
"Here," the voice called out.
A gasp escaped her and she forced the gate open, ignoring the screeching of long unused hinges. "Papa?" she shouted.
"Jenny," Henry gasped. He yelled back. "Leave Jenny. Go home and run away. Go Jenny "
Jenny's face showed fear and disbelief as she hurried toward the sound of her father. When she reached the place where she thought he'd be, she saw no one. "Papa Papa where are you?" she shouted out again, louder then before.
"Oh Jenny . . . go back . . . please before it's too late."
Dropping to her knees, she crawled along the side of the castle wall until she came to a small window. The rain seemed to magically cease and the clouds cleared. The moonlight returned and Jenny stared into the eyes of her father. "Who's done this to you?" she asked. Her fingers curled around the cold, dirty ones that gripped the iron bars.
"He did Jenny . . . the Beast of the forest," Henry whispered. "I got lost and found my way here. He threw me in this room and left me here. He told me I was trespassing, that I was his enemy now and would die in his dungeon." The man coughed hard and spit on the dirt that was the floor of his room. "Please leave me Jenny . . . go home, before he finds you here."
"Too late," a growl erupted from behind Jenny's back. Jenny was suddenly lifted and slammed against the wall of the castle. "You shouldn't be here," Collan snarled at her.
Jenny's lips trembled and her heart felt as if it had stopped beating. She looked at the creature before her. His snout extended several inches from his face. His teeth were sharp and dripped blood. "Leave here or join him," he growled out.
His eyes glowed yellow and fear shot through her. She swallowed the lump that was in her throat and she begged, "Please . . . please let him go home."
"No He broke my rules as have you, but you may leave . . . get " he ordered the woman away, releasing his hold on her at the same time. Collan didn't want her there; her love for her father was to much for him to witness.
"Not without my father . . . he's ill, let him come with me," she pleaded. She moved back to the window and held her father's hands while she looked back at the Beast. Her green eyes locked with those of the creature from her childhood nightmares; she refused to back down from his stare.
"He's mine now and will pay for his crime." He moved away from her and growled low. "Leave now woman, before you can't."
Jenny's head dropped and she squeezed her small hand between the bars of the window to reach her father's face. "I love you," she told him.
Henry kissed her hand, "Just be good Jenny girl and take your sisters somewhere safe."
Jenny caressed his cheek and pulled her hand free. Standing up she saw the Beast leaving, having assumed she would be leaving as well. She called out to him, "You " She watched the creature turn toward her. Suddenly clouds returned and covered up the moonlight leaving Jenny surrounded by the black night. She could see nothing.
"What do you want?" the voice spoke to her. Jenny jumped and spun around; the creature stood behind her.
Collan had moved like lightning once the moonlight shrouded them in darkness and had quickly taken a stance behind her. She stumbled back in shock. Jenny would have fallen if he hadn't grabbed her arm and pulled her up against him. She slammed into his chest and shook in fear.
"What do you want?" he repeated; his snout moved against her hair. He breathed deep and growled over the erotic fragrance of her essence. Collan fought the urge to take her as his own. He did however tighten his grip. "I'm waiting woman," he demanded.
Jenny shivered, turned her head away, and tried to regain her composure. "I want to take his place," she whispered.
"NO " Jenny's father shouted. "Don't do that . . . don't let her do that It wasn't the agreement . . . I said I would stay. Me . . . not her "
Collan was shocked by her words. The idea that she was willing to sacrifice herself for her father was inconceivable to him. He stepped closer and searched her eyes. "His sentence was a year," the creature said, ignoring the pleas from the old man. "One year of servitude. Do you agree to that?"
"I agree... one year and then I leave," she said without hesitation. There was never a doubt in her mind. She loved her father and would not allow him to live in this state for a year.
"Jenny . . . no my dear one . . . go please. Go home now," her father cried.
"One year and then you leave," the Beast reconfirmed the arrangements.
"Then I will take my father's place for one year," she squared her shoulders.
He grabbed her wrist and pulled her with him into a courtyard. There stood a door to her right; he opened it and shoved her into a hall. He lit a torch from one of the scones that burned brightly. He led her to another door, opened it to reveal a flight of stairs leading downward. At the bottom, Jenny saw the room holding her father. She ran to him, the iron bars blocked her path and she gripped them tight. "Open it!" she demanded. When the Beast opened the cell, she rushed inside and pulled Henry into a warm, loving embrace.
"You're hurt," she cried out as the light from the torch briefly illuminated her father's form and she noticed the puss and ooze that was escaping a wound on his hand.
She was yanked away and heard the creature tell her father to "go."
She watched him leave, his eyes full of sadness, as he was forced to leave his daughter behind. He'd not even been given a chance to say goodbye. When he was gone, Jenny closed her eyes and whispered, "You must be an evil animal to do this to someone."
He growled, "Yes . . . an animal. Now come with me and we will settle you in for the night." He spun around and moved back up the stairs. Jenny followed him, not questioning why she wasn't staying in the dungeon, but thrilled she wasn't. She was shown to a room that he told her would be hers to use as she saw fit. There was a door to the left that he opened. "Your bedroom," he told her before making his way back across the room and saying, "I trust you have honor and will not flee?" he asked.
"I'll not leave . . . I have one year. You have my word."
"Good." He slammed the door behind him. Collan made his way to his rooms. Once inside his fury erupted and he picked up a chair he'd long ago destroyed. He growled out and cursed the Witch that changed him so long ago. He yelled for her but, she never appeared.
She never answered his pleas to end his life. He'd tried before, tried to take his life, but the blade always disappeared in his hand. He had tried years ago to jump from the highest tower window, but he landed on the moss-covered ground as if it were a bed of blankets. Now he stood looking out into the night "Why?" he called out into the darkness. "Why give me something I cannot have?" he asked. He fell to his knees and wept.