Gaston rode his horse up to the dark, forbidding castle. Around him, the villagers' torches glowed menacingly.

The heavy oaken door was locked and bolted. The villagers quickly chopped down a tree and used it as a battering ram. With an explosion of splintered wood, the door gave way.

"Take whatever booty you can find. But remember, the Beast is mine!" cried Gaston as he raced up the stairs.

The Beast was nowhere in sight. Gaston prowled the corridors, peering into every room, his bow at the ready.

As he searched, he thought of Belle. How dare she! The stubborn wench had actually turned him down - him! The handsomest, strongest man in the village! The greatest hunter! The lucky girl who married him would always have food on the table, would spend passionate nights in the arms of the most gorgeous man alive, and during the day, would bask in his reflected celebrity, knowing she was the most envied of women.

And the village girls knew it, too. How they followed him around, flirted with him, adored him, each hoping to be chosen.

But not Belle. Gaston's expression darkened. Out of all the girls in the village, he had chosen her to lift above the rest - and she had dared to reject him.

But that wasn't the worst of it. Gaston was no fool. He had seen the look in her eyes as she watched the image of the Beast in the mirror, heard the tenderness in her voice as she described him as "kind and gentle." That...thing was the one she loved.

It was more than Gaston could bear. She actually preferred a smelly, hairy, inhuman animal to him! Indeed, she had stated it in so many words: "He's no monster, Gaston - you are!"

Such an insult was simply intolerable. He would teach her a lesson. He would destroy the object of her affection. Killing the Beast would serve Gaston well in many ways: it would punish Belle for her insolence, exact revenge on the rival who had won her heart, and expand Gaston's already- impressive reputation. He was known far and wide as the best hunter anyone had ever seen; now he would become a legendary hero who had single-handedly saved the village from a rampaging monster.

Gaston smiled at the thought. He continued searching the castle's many rooms. The Beast had to be around here somewhere. Wherever he was, Gaston would find him.