La Beauté et La BêteL'Aile d'ouest
Belle watched carefully as her intrepid tour guides marched round the corner, oblivious to her abrupt departure. Looking up the darkened stairs she spotted blackened marks on the red-carpeted marble steps, and as she looked closer, her heart gave an involuntary jump. Her eyes widened as she reached out to touch it. Dried blood splattered the carpet.
Belle closed her eyes, heart fluttering, and looked determinedly up the stairs. You aren't scared, she told herself fiercely.
Firmly, she pushed away the strand of hair that forever hung in her vision and took the first step. Her brown shoes shook and she forced them to be still. He can't imprison you twice. She told herself. What if it's the only way to get Papa back?
She couldn't deny herself this, and shakily, she pushed her stubborn feet on upward.
At the top, she looked down, and smiled, satisfied that she had not been followed, nor had the enchanted servants noticed her absence. The returned her attention to what lay ahead and found herself facing the tallest set of doors she had ever seen, save for the ones that gave entrance to the castle. They were rich, stained a dark red-brown, and huge, elaborate lion paws clenched together as door-handles, barring entrance and yet, daring her to open them. She stepped forward, boldly, and as she did, the light catching the shattered shards of a broken mirror distracted her attention briefly.
She looked on, and carefully touched the delicately woven willow-wood frame. A couple of glassy pieces fell to the floor at her touch, and she saw herself: large brown eyes apprehensive, lips parted, dark hair drawn into a marine coloured ribbon. She forced her expression to calm and returned her attention to the doors. She stepped up to them, boldly, her eyes large.
Gently, she took hold of the favourably decorated paws and pulled them apart. She was surprised by the way they yielded to her touch, and how easily the doors creaked open.
Taking a breath, she stepped beyond the door, and closed it behind her. A breeze met her skin, a cold that was sallow and feverish. Candles hung in brackets on the wall so the dull was not total, and as she squinted through the gloom, she found wrecked furniture, discarded portraits, and slashed material. The carpet had been wrenched up, and as the breeze blew past her again, it brought the musty smell of old and decay, and Belle coughed, feeling disgusted and all at once much less brave than she had felt before.
A glowing light came from further off, but the care was past her, and for a while she merely stared, horrified at the upturned room. Yet more smashed mirrors hung crooked on the wall, and Belle, who had never been superstitious, found herself cursing the Beast to of bad luck, which clearly he had already suffered. She stopped and found herself confronting a row of open windows, which glinted on pools of liquid on the floor, she stooped and stepped back, suddenly, horrified at the sight of yet more blood.
For a moment, she was very afraid, and terrible images of wretched victims flitted through her mind. He must come up her and torture them, she thought, tears in her eyes. Torture them and then eat them and then...
Her thoughts turned to her father, and she realised, with a sudden rush of a feeling she could not place, that The Beast had not murdered her father; he had let the man go. Her father was safe.
She breathed again and re-examined the blood. Surely it was not his own? The thought was new to her, and yet she could not dismiss it. A beast of his hideousness, surely he did not hurt himself?
Her question was answered for her, as she saw, amidst the blood, patched of hair, and skin. She felt sick, and, stumbling back, she almost fell into a dresser whose drawers had been ripped out, and whose structure was all but demolished.
She looked at it, and about the room once more, and her heart felt heavy with unsure emotion.
She gripped the dresser for support, and, as she drew in breaths, she noticed the portrait that hung, at a jaunted angle above it. It was slashed, like the rest of them, but cold, familiar eyes looked at her, and she lifted the tatters of the painting. The eyes were azure, like a rich ocean, and life brimmed within, alive and beautiful. Like an August sky. The face was handsome, square-jawed and Belle's heart jumped. His hair was light brown, falling past his shoulders, and Belle was enchanted by him. Her mind was just beginning to piece what was familiar about him, when a dim light, rose-pink and alien in this haunted room glittered at the corner of her vision. She turned, curious, and found the source of the light almost instantly.
It radiated from behind a screen, which she pulled back eagerly.
She gasped. Before her, encased in a globe, shining so beautifully was a rose. The stem glistened with dew, and each petal hung in a state of frozen beauty. Belle gasped, entranced. Carefully, she reached out to touch the glass that encased it, and hesitating, she pulled it away.
She put it down carefully, her breath coming sharply. She was intoxicated. Tentatively, she reached out with a pale hand.
Something growled from behind her, and, coming out of the trance, Belle turned.