Tuesday, April 23, 2013
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Thursday, April 18, 2013
By Stephen Reid Andrews
Copyright © 2013
All rights reserved,
including the right of reproduction
in whole or in part in any form.
This is a work of fiction. References to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any similarity to actual events, persons (living or dead), or places is coincidental.
Created/Printed in the
United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Copyright on all of the work in this book is held by the author.
Cover Illustration shirt design with raging bear vector: Vectorstock_867190: (commercial license purchased and held by the author)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data for Print Edition
Andrews, Stephen Reid
Remnant of the Beast / Stephen Reid Andrews
Summary: Forty years after Belle and sixty years after the curse, the return of the Beast means more than finding beauty and love among ugliness and hate. The Beast has real-life consequences that result in misery, confusion, and suffering, and, for Elise, the return of the Beast means she must choose who and what she cares about most and must discover whether, like her predecessors, she can tame the Beast
ISBN-13: 978-1483986760 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
BISAC: Fiction / Fairy tales, Folklore & Mythology
Nearly blinded by the dark night, Karlotta desperately ran through the thick wood as if she was being pursued by the devil. The horror from which she ran was the worst she had ever witnessed. The stain of blood on her clothes that originated from the wounds that stretched across her face, down her chest, and into her gut foretold that no matter how fast she ran and no matter her efforts, she was consigned to imminent death. Getting weaker with each struggling step, she doubted whether she could make it much farther and whether she had the strength, both physically and mentally, to fulfill the order she had been given.
She had wanted to stay behind to help her mistress, Queen Annallee, but, as the queen lay on the floor of her chambers unable to walk from her own injuries, Karlotta had been ordered to take the infant and destroy him.
The orders had come from her king’s seneschal, Lord Michel Bastian. “You must take this baby to the edge of the black forest and kill him.” Lord Bastian had barked the order as he grasped his stomach in agonizing pain. Lord Bastian had also received a severe but non-fatal wound across the entire width of his abdomen.
Looking down, Karlotta had restrained the urge to vomit as Bastian, his hands covered in his own blood and the blood of the king, put the baby in her arms. She could not disobey Lord Bastian. Receiving orders from him was like receiving orders from the king, and, as a result of the circumstances, her king would never utter another order.
Hesitantly, Karlotta had looked to the area in the royal chambers where her king lay motionless. She had not seen him move from his prostrate position since she entered the room. He was barely clothed in tattered rags, and blood was gathering in a pool beneath him as a result of the deep wound in his chest and the piercing of his heart.
The king’s captain, Monte Laurent, was also present in the chambers. His arm was severed just below the elbow, and he sat in shock with a cloth tightly wrapped around his upper arm in a make-shift tourniquet. His initial shock had come from his injury, but his present shock – the uncontrollable shock that begged to overwhelm him – came from what had happened. The king had fallen from by Monte’s sword, but, more importantly, his wife, Adelia, had fallen from the king’s uncontrollable emotion.
Monte’s original intent had only been to confront the king, but his accusation had enraged the king. Regardless of his intentions, it was Monte’s sword that taken the life from the king and that caused the chaos that resulted, and, now, Adelia lay only feet from the king as an unintended casualty of crossfire.
Hesitantly but obediently, Karlotta gingerly took the baby as her mistress screamed only feet away.
“No! Please…don’t kill….him!” the queen pled between gasps of air and excruciating pain. Lying on the ground, the queen used all of her remaining energy to reach towards the baby. “Killing…him…will do nothing!” she groaned as her head fell and her outstretched arm slumped to the ground. The queen had fainted with weakness.
In response to the queen’s plea, Karlotta looked through the flowing blood from the cut across her own face – a wound she had received while coming to the aid of the queen – stealing a final glance at the queen. The state of the queen caused her the slightest doubt in the orders she had been given. But, Karlotta had seen with her own eyes the evil that had been in the room and knew how all the stories ended.
Karlotta looked down at the queen, believing that the queen would also not survive the night. If this were so, Karlotta must be relied on to do what the queen might be more willing to do herself if the queen had the chance at a later time.
Looking down at her queen, Karlotta whispered. “I’m sorry.”
Lord Bastian sensed Karlotta’s reservation. Grabbing her shoulders as confidently as possible, he bored into Karlotta with his dark eyes. The task was crucial. “You must go now! Destroy the baby! That is an order!” screamed Lord Bastian like he was engulfed in terror. “Our lives depend on it! The queen’s life depends on it!” Despite his injury, Lord Bastian found the energy to step in front of Karlotta so she could no longer see the suffering queen. “If the queen were herself, she would order you to do the same. She understands that the kingdom must come first.”
Karlotta knew Lord Bastian was right. The only chance for the kingdom to avoid more bloodshed was for her to destroy the baby. She only could wish this task had not been placed upon her, but, Bastian knew some medicine and she knew none. Bastian must stay behind to do what he could for their mistress – if anything could be done.
Finding the will to overcome her doubt, Karlotta rose to her feet and stumbled towards the door, turning her back on the queen and the destruction in the room.
Her orders had been given nearly a half of an hour ago, and Karlotta had created enough of a distance between her and the castle that she could now dispose of the baby. She had to act quickly because she was becoming faint and knew that she would not live much longer.
As Karlotta fumbled to a stop, the baby began to cry – a terrible, piercing, and beautiful cry that broke the calm darkness of the night. Trying her best to ignore the crying child, Karlotta separated the baby from her torso, and, laying the babe on the ground in front of her, she took a small knife from a sheath underneath her robe.
This if for us all, she thought, trying to convince herself as she raised the knife high above her head.
But, before she could thrust the knife downward, Karlotta made a mistake that she believed might cost the kingdom dearly. Karlotta looked into the innocent eyes of the three-month old child. With the child’s soft expression, Karlotta’s collapsing heart was penetrated, and her will failed her. She could not kill the innocent child for what others thought he might become. This child should be given the opportunity to choose what he would become for himself.
Only a few breaths away from leaving mortality, Karlotta looked into the distance, her eyes darting around the dark forest in panic. If she left the baby here, the baby would die from neglect or from a wild animal. And, if she tried to take the babe to a neighboring kingdom, she could not complete the journey – she and the babe would surely die on the way. There was seemingly no way for Karlotta to change the fate of the infant. Karlotta cursed herself for being too weak to disobey Lord Bastian’s orders.
Picking up the baby, Karlotta struggled farther through the forest.
Not long into her trudging, pain seared through the wound across her chest, and she fell to the ground in exhaustion. There was no hope for her, and there was no hope for the baby – she would die.
Before Karlotta closed her eyes to death, hope returned as a flicker of light became visible in the distance. Could this be the miracle she was silently praying for? She did not have the luxury to find out if it was so, and would have to blindly believe that it was.
Leaving the baby in an open clearing, its cry audibly resonating through the canopy of trees, Karlotta exerted her last efforts to crawl as far as she could from the baby. Fifty meters away, she crawled behind a bush and took her last breath.