Chapter 5

When Dove reached consciousness again, she felt as if she'd been dead for years. Her body was stiff. It wasn't accustomed to moving.

She was cold. She was laying on something hard, flat, and grainy. On closer reflection, she realized it was a stone table of some sort. Her nightgown was still in place, though shredded around her neck and legs. The sleeves were completely torn off, and her thin wrists were shackled loosely to the table. Her beautiful cloak was gone, and she couldn't see. It was pitch black, pure darkness. Her eyes, though they ached, strained for any small sight, yet found none.

Her head ached, her ears were ringing, and she felt a thousand small cuts and bruises all over her body. What had happened? What monstrous creature had left her in this state?

She shuddered. How long had she been asleep? What had He done to her?

"I've done nothing to you, my little bird." The Beast answered her unasked question. She felt sick.

Somehow, she could feel him, even in the darkness. "Where are you? Why is it so dark?" She cried out, her voice hoarse and trembling.

"I did it as a courtesy to you. So that you wouldn't have to gaze upon me. It is…. unsettling." He purred, almost thoughtfully.

"Turn on the lights! PLEASE!" She screamed, beginning to cry in fear and desperation.

"Hush, my pretty bird, hush now. Don't cry, there's no need to cry." He purred. She heard the sound of something moving, and a torch was lit.

The flame illuminated a rather spacious room. It looked like a dungeon. It was all cold, dark, damp stone. She struggled to hold in a whimper. "Why am I chained? What have you done to me?" She choked out.

"Maidens of the Beast can be… Frightened, at first. I didn't want you to do anything you may regret. And I told you, I've done nothing to you."

"My nightgown…" Dove struggled to say, fighting panic. "The cuts and bruises…"

There was a moment of silence. "While I was carrying you, my claws scratched you. I hadn't realized you were so fragile. I tried to pick you up gently, but no matter how hard I tried, you kept getting injured." There was a brief note of… Frustration, in His voice.

"Your sleeves tore when I tried to shackle you as gently as I could. It was too dangerous; I could've slit your wrists! So I rid you of them, to lower the risk."

Dove breathed in, trying to stop her shaking. "Why am I here?" She asked softly.

The Beast's voice hardened. "You are here because you belong here. You are MINE." He growled.

A black shape darted through her line of vision, quiet as a bird, smooth and agile. Hot breath that steamed from an unseen pair of jaws warmed her bruised face.

Dove took in a shaking breath, and looked behind her at the Beast. She couldn't see anything, except his breath, and a pair of glowing, glinting amber eyes.

"Are you going to kill me?" She asked, dreading the answer she already knew.

"No." The Beast purred, something furry (his paw?) so gently stroking her cheek.

She choked in a scream. She'd feared he'd say that.