She’d heard the tales before coming here. Before entering the story.
Tales of a grand castle crumpling into ruin and bathed in shadow. Hidden by monstrous trees and piercing gates; a candle in the uppermost tower as the single sign of her chapter.
They whispered of dark, terrible magic. A curse placed on the castle, for no one who dared to enter ever came back out.
But the scariest tale of all was that of the beast. The fearsome creature that resided within the halls. With its black fur, spiked body, and bloodstained teeth.
She had been scared to enter, to go where so many had perished. She had trembled in the cold corridors, no fires—or mirrors—to illuminate the beast’s abode.
She had been shaken by its voice, its deep growl that demanded obedience.
"Why do you hide?" she’d asked.
She was alone in the tower. Kept quiet like a secret, a doted-upon mistress.
Flowers bloomed where she stepped, life breathed into their ashen petals, scarlet roses presented to her as a gift.
"Because you’re afraid."
She had been. By its claws and skull-filled dungeons.
But she had teeth as well.
And bravery wasn’t needed. Not when the wildness of the beast could only be found in her eyes and in her hair, both somber, both brilliant.
The thorns and armor of her dresses couldn’t hurt her once they were torn, thrown, discarded on the floor.
The red on her teeth wasn’t blood, but smeared paint. Smeared and licked and swallowed by her own sharp moans.
Her icy breath sent shivers, but warm and welcoming.
The claws weren’t lies, but she didn’t mind their bite when they claimed her thighs. She craved it.
She had dared to enter and she would never leave.
She didn’t want to.