Disclaimer: This story is inspired by the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast, with a rather large twist. It is one of my favorite stories. The tale is full of action, intrigue, romance, and history for those of you who are interested in that. This story is set in an AU and some of the character traits might have been changed for the purpose of this story. Since I wanted it to be set in a world as "real" as possible (with the exception for the made-up country Angloa and its culture) there will be no werewolves or vampires here, you have been warned. Expect some slight OOC traits as well as I wanted to play around with them a bit and develop them.
Another version of this fic can be found on my profile as well, it is a BtnB fic in AU but I decided that I wanted to share it with the Twilight fandom as well as I think that it could be better suited here as well, and I have always liked the Universe in general
I do not own any of the characters belonging to the Twilight series except for the OC's present in this story.
Full Summary: As the foundations for modern Europe are laid, we find ourselves in Angloa - a country bordering the outskirts of the continent - where Edward Cullen dwells, hiding what some consider to be a beastly face. He soon encounters Isabella Swan and falls in love with her. As the pair finds themselves in the middle of a plot that might end their lives, Edward does all he can to gain the love of Isabella. If he does so, he can save his own cold heart and perhaps his true self. Will Isabella look beyond Edward's hideous outward appearance and sincerely love him?
SECRETS OF THE COURT
In 1519, the year of our lord, Europe dragged itself out of the darkness that was the Middle Ages and into a new, enlightened era, filled with wondrous works of art. The steady influx of ancient Greek and Latin texts during the Middle Ages had allowed the Europeans to once again rediscover the Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Plato, and to be inspired by them.
1519, being the year of death of one of the most powerful emperors, Maximillian I of the Holy Roman Empire, created tension throughout the continent. There was uncertainty regarding which king would receive the crown, be it Charles V of Spain or François I of France. Wars raged on the Italian peninsula for territory between the two superpowers, and the desire for bringing home riches from the New World only grew stronger.
Amidst all the tumult, an island lay to the west of southern France, forgotten and shielded from the political struggles the mainland offered. Angloa: once an English colony that, during the Hundred Years' War, claimed its independence. Still a youthful nation, the country found it difficult to gain alliances. Angloa was the gateway to the Americas for many countries. Many merchant ships, before setting off for or returning from the New World, would pass through the country's gates. The power of the country had declined during the years and faced eventual invasion from Henry Tudor of England. King Magnus, who took the crown after his brother's death, had died years earlier. Thus leaving the throne to his son, Jasper Fell.
October 29th, 1519 - Wessport
The chants of Franciscan monks could be heard early in the morning mist. A lone rider made his way through the gates of the capital and past the walls that framed the sleepy city. Wessport slowly awoke to the dim sun rays that shone through the thick clouds. It was late October and the cold rains had begun, followed by shorter days and friskier nights. The main road to the royal palace was muddy, reeking of the waste people threw out of their homes and directly onto the street.
The rider wrinkled his nose in disgust and urged his horse to go faster, gliding between the many stalls and carriages lining the narrow streets. Several individuals were up and the rider perceived chimneys puffing out pure white smoke. Above the patisserie, clouds escaped the baker's oven, where, soon, delicate pastries and slices of bread would be available to the masses of the capital.
The horse bore its rider to the gates of the palace; an impressive fortress constructed by one of the previous kings the previous century. The sleepy guards let him in as he proudly displayed the emblem of the royal messenger. His tired horse carried him to the grand stone courtyard where it almost collapsed having ridden all night. The brown mare held her head low, breathing in the icy air while being led to the stables to rest. The rider, just as tired as his horse, from lack of food and sleep, pushed on in his dirty cape and worn clothes. Rain during the night had long since soaked through the fabric. He sensed a cold creeping up on him and ran toward the assembly chamber, where the king was waiting for him. In his satchel, he carried a hastily written letter from one of the generals of the Angloan armies. The letter bore the seal of the general and it was still unbroken.
The messenger walked in through the mahogany doors and into the assembly where King Jasper Fell and three advisors sat. Although in night clothes, the group nevertheless appeared regal, as delicate robes and fine jewelry cascaded over simple white chemises and wool pants. The messenger did not say a word but let his appearance speak for itself. He made a swift bow and handed the letter to his king. The advisors noted that the white parchment held blood stains in some areas. The king broke the seal and swiftly opened the letter while the tired messenger excused himself. The contents of the letter were not for his ears. Soon the messenger knew he would take a warm bath and kiss the soft pillows and sheets of his bed. His aching body finally could lie down and rest after two days of riding from the north coast.
King Jasper read the letter twice before letting a gleeful grin show his state of mind.
"What news from the north, Your Majesty?" inquired the aging man to his left. Lord Athar let his worry seep through his gray eyes. The crow's feet around them deepened as he fixed his gaze on the monarch. Athar scratched his white goatee and mustache thoughtfully. The old man was the main advisor to the current king and an old friend of the Fell family.
"General Cullen writes of his success on the battlefield. The English have left our shores and are headed for their lands again."
A sudden release of breath came from the other two men at the table. Lord Alistair and Lord Braun showed signs of relief, letting their tense shoulders fall and their rigid postures falter.
"A treaty must be formed with England soon. If they accept defeat, we might finally rest and recover from this blasted war," Lord Alistair spoke haughtily. The younger man showed fiery determination to prove himself amongst men who had been at their profession longer than him.
"Easy, Alistair," said the king calmly, relieved at the end of a three-year conflict. "We have yet to know if it has ended. The English have only withdrawn from battle, but that does not mean they have given up the war."
"Does the letter say anything else?" questioned Lord Braun with a hint of curiosity. The lord was a middle-aged man, with thinning brown hair and a full beard among streaks of silver.
"Yes. The English have promised to send an envoy to talk with me. He wrote it would be best if I went to the north and spoke with him myself."
"Is that wise?" Lord Braun asked timidly yet gained a burst of confidence when no one spoke against him. "With all due respect, General Cullen has won many battles for you, Your Majesty. When he appeared out of nowhere two years ago and turned this war around, we were very grateful toward him. However, you are blindly trusting him and traveling out of the safe walls of Wessport. It is too much to ask that you should venture to the unprotected harshness of the north." Lord Alistair bluntly agreed with Lord Braun and the king sighed inwardly.
"You are quick to judge the man that, more than likely, saved the liberty of this kingdom, Lord Braun. I understand where you come from, but I have noticed that several of you possess a rising, and very misguided, distaste for General Cullen. Is it because he was a commoner when he arrived at court? His ideas and new strategies to win the war might have seemed unconventional to some. Or, maybe, it might be his peculiar appearance that unsettles you so? I appointed Cullen a general and trust him. I saw potential in the man, just as I see potential in you, Braun, and in you, Alistair." The king paused.
Lord Braun had long since diverted his glance and wished he could take back what he said. Jasper spoke once more. "General Cullen may be a strange and unconventional man, but he is honorable. If he wants me to come to the coast, I will do so. It might be a way to end this war."
Lord Athar released a small smile at his king's decisiveness; for he had seen the boy grow up. The pressure the young lad had been under; to live up to the names of past kings were particularly heavy burdens. Lord Athar recalled once of the late monarchs, his good friend; King Philip Fell I.
Angloa's history was complicated. After the country gained its independence from England, the three lords who had fought for her, established a new monarchy. Three founding kings started a new golden age of prosperity and took it to greatness. It was no longer a poor colony faded into oblivion. Angloa grew its trade and made a name for itself in Europe. The fourteenth century saw the arrival of the Black Plague and the country dwindled into mediocracy once more. Out of the three great kings, one dynasty remained: the Fell line.
Philip Fell, the predecessor of Magnus Fell, lived to be seventy-seven years old and got a reign of over fifty years. He died suddenly of complications one night, twenty-seven years ago. His only heirs were his two daughters, and so the king's much younger brother, Magnus Fell, took the crown, only to end up perishing seven years later.
King Jasper came to rule after that, at the young age of ten. He was immature and inexperienced and that was why he surrounded himself with his advisors. But whatever he lacked in a ruling the country, he made up for by being a particularly good judge of character. The king hit the bull's eye with Edward Cullen, the current commanding general of the armies of the north. Athar had to confess that, even though he found Cullen strange, and sometimes, perhaps even close to monstrous, he could not argue with the success the general provided for the past two years.
"Lord Athar," the king said, bringing the old man out of his train of thought.
"Yes, Your Majesty," the older man responded, locking his gray eyes with the king's golden ones.
"Have them prepare my stallion and a sizeable escort. Let us arrive at the shores of Castell with pomp and show the envoy how we receive people here in Angloa," the king stated as he rose from his seat. He walked out of the room and to his apartments, proceeding to change into armor.
Lord Athar sent one of his personal servants to have them prepare the king's horse and a royal escort, as he would go too.
October 27th - Castell
It was mid-morning when Carlisle, commander of the third platoon, woke to cheerful singing. It had been so long since he heard such sounds at the camp at Castell, on the northern peninsula of Angloa. During the past years, he had only witnessed the gloomy and worried faces of his men as they rode countless times into battle with General Cullen. But now, even though the clouds were hanging low in the gray and cold sky, not letting the sun seep through, he saw merry faces and heard jolly voices singing in unison.
Men, wounded and tired, toasted to last night's victory.
Stephen, one of Carlisle's soldiers, came running to his tent and told the commanding officer to make haste. He was summoned to a meeting, of which had just begun. Carlisle hurried across camp to General Cullen's great, dark blue tent that stood mighty among a sea of white ones. The man delved deeper into the canopy until he found a roundtable with strategically placed figurines that displayed several battle plans. Twenty men stood around it while General Cullen buried himself in the fabrics of the farthest part of the tent
"We believed you would sleep the whole day, Carlisle," came the dark voice of the general who, as always, preferred standing in the shadows rather than sitting down with his officers. Carlisle said nothing and sat down, well aware that the general was only teasing him.
"As I was saying, the king is on his way. He is most likely to arrive within the week. We can only hope that the envoy the English promised us will have arrived by then. Jacob," the powerful voice of the man in the shadows spoke, "have some of your men on the lookout by the shores, but make sure they are covered if the English were to attack again. Jonathan, I want you and a dozen of your men to wait on the shores north of the Castell fortress. Receive the envoy and if the king does not arrive in two days, you may return. We wait only for word from Jacob's men." The men around the table nodded.
"Are you still expecting an attack from the English, sir?" Carlisle asked his general.
There was a slight pause before the man in the shadows solemnly replied, "Trust no one in war, Carlisle. We may have won many battles, but we cannot know for sure if they will send an envoy. They might even use our good intentions against us." The officers around the table voiced their agreement and were soon dismissed. Only Carlisle was asked to stay.
Once the men retired, General Cullen stepped out from the shadows. Carlisle could not help his gaze as it drifted away from the tall, imposing figure of the man before him. All were aware of how intimidating the general looked. Carlisle guessed that was why he kept to the shadows: to not allow any curious eyes to sneak an extra glance at him. Even so, his intimidating presence was of great help on the battlefield. He was always mounted on his gray stallion, at the front of the lines, riding into the thick of the battle. He and his men would shout the battlecry 'Audeamus': let us dare, as they joined the frenzy.
It continually intimidated the English soldiers, shaking in their boots, soiling their clothes at the mere sight. Edward had been dubbed "The Lion of the North" for the way he carried himself in battle. His style of combat was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. It was swift and graceful for a man of such a stature. No one knew if he was as bulky as he appeared under all that armor, as no one had ever seen him with it off.
However, the most striking aspect of the general was what he did not show: his face, or any skin, save his eyes and lips. His whole head and his hands were covered in black leather. Supposedly, the man was either deformed, scarred or rather, bore the face of the devil himself. The general could have been a monster for all they cared, as that was what he invoked whenever he came face to face with anyone. No one dared to speculate the truth behind that black, leather mask, and even though Carlisle knew the general, he still felt uneasy whenever he spoke to him. The fact that the man showed signs of unsavory mood swings did not help.
"I ask of you a favor, Carlisle," General Cullen spoke. He sat down in a chair, exhausted, and his covered hand grazed the roundtable. The general was exceptionally tired but only revealed his fatigue when with Carlisle, which might as well be showing signs of weakness: something the general could not afford. He desired to hold an impression of almost an unearthly man, someone who never grew tired or worried. Both men maintained an unspoken friendship, never expressed in anything more than glances or kind gestures. For the time being, both preferred it that way.
"We have a spy in our midst. The only reason the battle raged on for so long last night was because our positions were revealed beforehand. Had I not told the second and fifth platoon to hide to the east of the fortress, we might even have lost. I can only in trust you, Carlisle, for the time being. I want you to find this spy discreetly and when we are sure it is him, bring him to me," Cullen commanded. Carlisle only nodded and turned to leave, feeling the stern gaze of the general on his back.
"Carlisle," the slightly more tired voice said from behind him; the young man turned around to meet the shadowed eyes of Edward Cullen, "take a few hours to clean yourself up; you look horrible."
Carlisle smiled and replied with the witty response, "I might say the same for you, general." He left soon after.
General Cullen moved to the back of the tent - his personal quarters - where he dropped on the bed. He had not slept a wink ever since the battle. He had written a letter to the king and sent it with one of the fastest messengers as soon as the battle was won. His leather gloves had left blood on the white parchment. It would show the king and his advisors the reality of the situation.
He took off the black gloves and let his bare hands breathe in the chilly October air. He stripped the mask from his face, letting it breathe. The general made sure not to fall asleep with his face bare. If anyone witnessed his features, the shock alone would do them no good. Cullen could not afford to have anyone see what he truly looked like. The black mask was imposing enough but constricting if worn for a long time. He had not taken it off for three days and needed a change and a wash.
The general let cold water run through his greasy locks as he scrubbed his face clean. He needed a shave but since there were no mirrors available in the tent, he settled for a trim of the wild beard that would not stop growing. He cursed his face - he cursed himself - for having to wear that goddamned mask. The general put his gloves on tediously and deemed that when all this was over, he would leave Angloa with Sofia, who was waiting for him in Wessport. The two would travel east once more. Cullen made himself comfortable on his bed and drifted off into a dreamless and well-deserved sleep that lasted for many hours.
November 1st - Castell
The white tents billowed in the strong wind that descended from the west earlier that day. Next to the general's tent, stood the king's massive burgundy one. King Jasper Fell, together with the envoy - an ambassador from King Henry's court - were setting up an agreement to officially end the war. General Cullen and his most trusted men stood on the side.
The soldiers of the camp cheered when the king declared the end of the war. England would leave Angloa be and a treaty for trade between the two countries had been set. The war was over and Angloa would slowly heal from the wounds that had been sustained in battle. Jasper set off to the capital with the majority of the soldiers. General Cullen would remain and prepare for the journey back, as his king asked of him.
"I have a surprise for you when you come back, General Cullen. You are to be greatly rewarded for your successful campaign against the enemy," King Jasper said to the taller man. Even if King Jasper was uneasy by the appearance of General Cullen, he did not show it. He only displayed the gratitude he felt toward the man who helped save the nation. However, Edward Cullen held no plans on staying in Wessport. He would only go back to find Sofia and then they would board the first ship sailing east, where he could finally discard of the mask and settle down again, as he had many years before. His sense of duty to his country was satisfied. He had come to Angloa in her time of difficulty; now he was no longer needed.
November 3rd - Wessport
Great cheers erupted throughout the city as the general and the last of the Angloan army rode through the gates of the city and into Wessport itself. The people of the city lined the streets, cheered, and threw rice in the air in celebration. They were grateful towards the mysterious man who had saved them.
General Cullen wore a cape with a deep hood so that none could see the black mask. But on this day, no one cared about that; no one speculated why he was not showing his face. Even though rumors about him had been whispered for the past two years, they only knew gratitude. As Cullen and Carlisle rode into the courtyard, servants came to take their horses and informed them that the king had a special celebration planned tonight in their honor. Jacob Black, a young nobleman who led the fourth platoon, was with the group. He was close to the general, though not as close as Carlisle. However, he appreciated Cullen.
Edward washed and changed into more comfortable clothes and put the cape back on. He had no plans on staying in the palace, and much less to join in on the celebrations. He longed to find Sofia and head away from Wessport. It held nothing for him now.
Alas, the general never slipped out of the city. The guards, although frightened of him, did not let Cullen pass. Even if he had fought his way out, there was still the outer city walls and the gate, which was defended by over fifty men.
Ten guards escorted him as he left the king's residence. They made sure of his return for the night's celebrations. General Cullen walked the streets with his hood up until he reached the outskirts of town. Sofia had found a small place to rent with the money he had been sending her for the past two years. He told the guards to wait for him while he stepped in. He wanted to surprise the woman and, therefore, did not tap on the door. She was in the small kitchen area, cooking away at the stove. Her gray hair was in a long braid and her clothes were ripped and dull.
"I thought you had forgotten me," her stern, motherly voice spoke.
Edward smiled behind the mask and remembered that it was impossible to hide from Sofia. "How could I? I was led directly to the palace."
She turned around. The woman's aquiline nose wrinkled, something it always did when she was displeased. Her raven eyes cut into his. "Have you prepared then, for our departure? I cannot tolerate another minute in this wretched city," she complained in a soft Spanish accent. Sofia was a Spanish gypsy, born and raised in the streets of Seville. Since her youth, she had traveled most of Europe, and later, the Orient with Edward. She was like a mother to him and had raised him as if he were her own.
"I cannot leave. I, apparently, have guards following me and they will not let me depart the city until I have attended the festivities the king has prepared for tonight," Edward muttered angrily, his hot temper escaping.
"Go, then!" she nearly yelled, flinging her arms in no specific direction. "And take care of that mood of yours. I dislike it when you use that tone with me; you have your soldiers for that," she fiercely stated, obviously not practicing what she preached.
"You can still leave. We can meet up in Cadiz and sail from there...together," Edward tried, hopeful.
Sofia shook her head. "No. If the king has put guards on you, I have a feeling you will be in Wessport for some time." She put down the wooden spoon and took Edward by the hand, leading him to the small wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. Her eyes wandered to his mask. "I know we came back here because you felt you had an obligation to protect your homeland from the invader with the knowledge you gained in the east. If that is how you feel, you can never leave this place. There will always be problems lurking on the horizon, waiting to threaten this country, especially during these times. That is how it works, Edward. That is how it has always worked," she said solemnly as she patted his gloved hands, staring straight into his enigmatic eyes.
Sofia was not afraid of what the mask hid, for she had seen his face before. It was she who had told him to put on a mask and hide his face. Urging him to do so saved Edward many troubles. At first, Edward had not understood why, but as he grew older, he came to know the reason. His face was a unique one and, for the sake of all, it was best left unseen. Until he could reach the seclusion that was offered in the east - in one of the old monasteries up in the mountains where he passed from his adolescence into his adult years - his face would stay this way.
"We don't know that, Sofia. I will go as the king has commanded and, tomorrow, we set sail to return to the Ming Kingdom."
Nothing more was discussed on the matter and soon Edward left for the palace again.
The day passed rapidly and night shortly fell.
The ballroom, once a grand hall, was filled to the brim with renovations. It had been remodeled with white marble, of which reflected the Renaissance influence. Painted ceilings and Roman busts of kings lined the walls. At the end of the vast room, draped an ensemble of large portraits. One of Magnus, another of King Philip I. While Magnus was Jasper's father, Philip had been King Jasper's uncle. Lord Athar, who had known the old king in his prime years, said the painting was a true resemblance of the man. Both brothers were not alike at all.
Philip's portrait showed his gray, steely eyes, midnight hair, and handsome features. The man in the painting possessed an arrogant smirk while standing on the battlefield; and, in his hand, was the loyal flag of Angloa, embodying the patriotic essence of the country. Often enough, Jasper would stare at that grand portrait and wonder if his uncle was peering down from heaven, guiding him in his own rule of the country. Magnus stood stiff, his lips pressed together. His hair was fairer, his features sharp. Yet he held the same handsome air of his older brother. Albeit, no arrogance was to be found within his severe eyes. Jasper's eyes would often dart past his father's portrait, yet its presence there still a comfort.
The grand ballroom, referred to as "The Blue Room" because of the blue drapes that decorated the pillars and walls, quickly filled up. Tables lined the edges of the room, leaving the middle exposed for jesters and dancing. The king's cousin, Victoria Fell, twenty years his senior, arrived with her timid, childish sister. Although in her autumn years, she was still a beauty. Victoria carried prominent Angloan traits such as dark red hair, striking golden eyes, a delicate, feminine face with full red lips, and a petite nose and defined jaw. She conducted herself with grace while making way to the main table. The aging woman took her place next to Queen Tabitha, the king's timid and frankly unnoticeable wife. A great nobleman who, before his death, married off his only daughter to Prince Jasper. The woman could not bear any children and her sterility caused a rift between the couple.
"Lady Victoria." The king nodded as his older cousin took her place next to his wife. She bowed as she sat.
"I see that Lady Renée and Lady Isabella Swan are here," the woman sneered. The reason being that Lady Renée and Lady Isabella were wife and daughter to the deceased count: Charles Swan, a half-Angloan and half-Spaniard. A year earlier he had been charged with treason and hanged. All his property had been claimed by the crown. His family was left in disgrace. The king took pity on them and gave the mother and daughter a portion of the land so they could live comfortably. But it was clear they held no place at court, so Lady Victoria found it surprising they showed up to such an event.
"I called on them. Tonight is a night for celebrating. All are to join in on the festivities," the king said sternly to his cousin, a woman he found too nosy at times.
"Do not forget that Charles Swan sold us out to the English, dear cousin," Victoria said. A frown brushed across her delicate features.
"Should I have killed them as well? That would only inspire fear from my nobles and people. We do not need fear in times such as these. They are here tonight because I have an announcement that concerns the Swan family."
Rosalie, another of the king's cousins, donned a smirk as her sister only scoffed. Personally, Rosalie could not tolerate Victoria at times. Her sister's gossip or the way she judged those around her was growing tiresome.
As the night descended, laughter and great discussions began. Nobles and highly decorated officers celebrated the end of the three-year war. Many wondered where the man of the hour was; General Cullen was nowhere to be seen. But as soon as they talked about him, the grand doors of the room opened and General Cullen was announced.
A general quiet fell on the room as a tall figure, backed by two other men, Jacob and Carlisle, stood in the immense round-arched doorway. The imposing figure marched into the hall and the music died down. For the first time, the nobles would see the savior of the country. The fact was that no one had ever truly seen the general. When he first appeared two years ago, only the king and his advisors talked with him. He never appeared at social events and was always away on war campaigns and battles in the north.
Yet they saw him now, towering and dignified, dressed in black trousers, dark brown boots, a dark blue doublet, and a navy blue cape with rich black and gold trimmings fastened diagonally across his back. Even so, all eyes were drawn to the black mask that hid his features and shadowed his eyes. Numerous ladies gasped so severely that they nearly fainted. Others choked on their drinks, with eyes bulging out of their sockets. A sword clung to his left hip. Many were worried that the man might use it against them. Amidst all the fear, several women experienced opposite reactions. They saw a beast, a wild mysterious man they wanted to test in their boudoir; someone to tame. The majority of the women hid their emotions and played along with the general horror that settled in over the room. His large, bulky frame ignited a spark of curiosity in them.
"General!" the king exclaimed as Edward Cullen arrived at the grand table. Lady Victoria eyed him with keen curiosity.
"Your Majesty, I thank you for your invitation. My greatly trusted officers and I are at your service," the dark booming voice sounded through the hall. The silence following was so tense that no one could even cut it with a butter knife. But the king, seated in the center, all attention removed from him, ignored the public and focused only on his trusted general.
"Why the solemn attitude, my dear general? One might think I have called you to attend your own execution," the king spoke merrily, making a gesture for the masked man to step forward.
"Then perhaps you might explain why the ten armed guards were following me around the whole day," said Edward sternly, not partaking in the king's merry tone.
"I knew you would leave Angloa as soon as the war was over. Don't you remember it was the first thing you told me when we initially met two years ago? And how is it you would leave before we had the chance to properly thank you?"
The king rose from his seat and looked around the room. "I have brought the general here to acknowledge his brilliant valor on the field and his keen mind for war and strategical planning. I hope he will stay with us longer. That is why I have offered him a place amongst us and to also give him a high title. A count, to be exact."
Gasps rose from the crowd. Several people were outraged due to that "beast" of a man being offered a title much higher than theirs. Others were intrigued to have such a man amongst them.
"I cannot accept such a generous offer, Your Majesty," the general flatly said. The king ignored him and continued with his monologue.
"I offer you the lands of Cadherra." Many glances were directed to Lady Renée and her daughter Isabella, for they had been wife and daughter to the late Count of Cadherra. General Cullen was not aware of this but kept insisting he not take such a charitable offer.
"Furthermore, as the late Count of Cadherra's wife and daughter still own a small plot of that land, I expect you to wed his daughter, Isabella Swan. It was not their fault that the late count turned out to be a traitor." The king continued urging for daughter and mother to stand.
Isabella Swan did all she could to hold back tears of sorrow and fright as the humiliating situation unfolded before her. She could not bear to look at the intimidating man she was being offered to. The king proposed a situation that would bring Lady Renée and Lady Isabella back into his good graces again. If Isabella Swan wedded Edward Cullen, their marriage would link the man to the country and he would protect it from future struggles. King Jasper thought it a brilliant idea, at the cost of Isabella's life and happiness. But she accepted it so her mother could live out a comfortable life.
Edward Cullen looked toward the two women. He felt something in his chest when his eyes caught the beautiful figure of the young woman. She had soft, chestnut locks wrapped up in a Romanesque hairdo. Her dress was the color of a blue summer sky and her eyes were pristine and clear. Unshed tears threatened to fall from her chocolate brown orbs but were held back through sheer willpower. Cullen knew a woman's touch, having been with many beauties in his life. But never had he witnessed such defiance and resilience in character as the stunning woman before him. Her entire being intrigued him.
When the general's silence spoke for itself, the king grinned. His plan worked to perfection. The young beauty would marry the beast that was General Cullen. As was expected, the general would settle and have a family in Angloa; therefore, he would not leave. With General Cullen amongst them, the future of Angloa was secure. No one would attack the country while the Lion of the North still lived in it.
"We need not speak further on this matter, general. We shall have a glorious wedding soon!" the king exclaimed, clapping. At first, most did not clap, and only stared at General Cullen and then at Isabella. Yet, slowly, evil smirks descended upon the faces of the masses and many whispered, "Thank the heavens it is not me," while they clapped and cheered.
Cullen said nothing and only reflected on Sofia's words earlier that day: "I have a feeling you will be in Wessport for some time."
UPDATE (09-01-2019): I have made a playlist of the music that inspired me while writing this fic. Feel free to listen to it as well! I cannot link it here so you will find it on my profile!
Author's Note: I hope you all enjoyed this first chapter! It is a very unconventional retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with other elements intertwined. I feel we always see the same fairy tale. I wanted a big twist in this one. I hope you liked it and let me know if you did. The second chapter will come up sometime later this month, as I am taking the final exams at Uni (unfortunately, that's how it works here in Europe). So, please, R n' R! Cheers!