Belle, part 3 of 3 - Kill the Beast

Hurriedly, Belle tied the rope around the banister and then a support beam. She found another from a moth-nibbled curtain and began tying it around the foot of a chair. The other end would go to a piano—it would be the last. The rest were strewn high and low across the room.

The Beast paced outside. She could tell it wanted to chase her but was too curious about what she was doing. It stalked back and forth outside the room, a thin beam of sunlight glinting off its big, blue eyes every time it passed the thin opening between the doors. She walked towards one wall and made sure the broken plank she’d found was secured properly. It was hard to get it to hang just right, pointing outwards like that. The pitchfork she’d discovered in a closet and a sharpened shaft of wood she’d carved from a broom handle was already positioned as well as she could make them. Belle stopped in front of a heavy brass candelabra on the mantle. It reminded her of herself: the candlesticks wilting, wax dripping down it like tears. Almost like it sympathized with her. Like a friend. Which meant she must be going mad.

She wanted to keep checking the room to make sure everything was just right. But her nerves were too frayed to do it properly and, besides, she probably wasn’t going to survive anyway.

Belle shook her head to clear it and took in a trembling breath from fear. Exhaustion?… hopelessness. Whatever happened, she wanted it to be over. She made her way to the center of the room and stood amidst all the hanging ropes like a spider in her web. Only she felt like the fly.

She raised the sword, “Lumiere,” over her head and looked at the door. The Beast stopped pacing. Its eyes locked on her and waited. Belle wrinkled her nose, just like the beast did with its muzzle when it was really angry—and screamed. She screamed with everything she’d been holding in over the past days out of desperation to stay quiet—to not be heard. To not be found. Her voice echoed across the chipped marble pillars and absorbed into the warped walls.

The beast tore open the door and lunged inside, eyes wide and fierce as Belle’s voice took on a feral rumble at the full sight of him. Her stomach clenched to squeeze out the last bits of air her lungs held. They stood in silence for a few moments, eyeing each other, her hand hurting from her grip on the sword as the Beast stared back. Gauging her. Then its muzzle curled up and it returned the roar. Rage. It wasn’t playing anymore. It knew this was a challenge, and it wasn’t going to back down.

The Beast launched forward. Belle bolted out of reach just as the Beast ran into the first set of ropes. They pushed against its face and chest, making its eyelids pull up in a crazed look. They were no more than strings to the creature though and gave way almost immediately. Belle ducked under the next set of ropes and scrambled ahead just as the Beast crashed into them as well. They were stronger, so it pushed harder, its jaw snapping toward her. Belle felt tears chill her cheeks as she changed directions. The Beast broke through the ropes and rushed forward, slamming into the wall… and the pitchfork that was propped up there. The monster let out a pathetic howl. She hadn’t expected that. A cry like a stray dog being kicked out of the way. She glanced back just as the monster recovered and saw that the pitchfork had gone deep. Only a few feet of the handle stuck out of its side. But the creature didn’t slow.

Belle wrapped an arm around a pillar as she hopped through another set of ropes. The Beast chased, trying to avoid the next obstacle and failing. It broke out and rolled forward, bracing itself against the wall with a great paw just above where the splintered wooden shaft lay. It didn’t even seem to notice it. The second trap failed.

Still, Belle ran. She didn’t have much chance of surviving, but that didn’t mean she was just going to give up. One more. Just one. She turned and crawled through the last tangle of ropes. Her scuffed boot caught on one of them, but it came loose and she stumbled forward. She heard the old piano make a discordant cry as it was suddenly dragged across the room when the Beast tripped into the ropes. A great claw caught her skirt and she fell, turning over as she slid to find the creature looming over her. She swung Lumiere hard into the creature's face. She drew blood, but it braced against it as if the attacks were an annoyance, but nothing more. But she slid to a stop just a few inches from the final trap. The Beast reared for an attack and she braced the sword against the floor, its blade shining even in the dim light.

Belle couldn’t breathe. The weight of the creature had collapased on top of her as warm blood made her already sweaty hands even slicker. Her head pounding with the pressure. She pushed to get out from under it. Luckily, he’d fallen mostly to one side, but it still wasn’t easy. She was able to force herself out enough to scrambled free. She crawled to a wall and fell against it, eyes darting back to the Beast and waited for it to move. Waited for it to get up. But its eyes stared lifelessly towards her. And for a moment, they looked familiar. Stoic. Hopeless. Dreamless of any future… She could just see the steel tip of Lumiere glinting among the coarse hairs on the monster's back, its light fading.

Soon her vision became blurred with tears and she sobbed. The tears were hot and painful and necessary. They poured out fast and but her heart slowed and her mind cleared, they stopped. Because they had to. She needed to move.

Belle stood, eyes still on the beast as she backed through the door. Then she ran for the front entrance. She kept feeling like it was still there, lurking in the shadows, ready to block her path at any moment. Until she pushed through the doors. The sunlight bit at her skin with warmth. The path ahead was clear. Despite her exhaustion, she kept running and didn’t slow until she was at the edge of the grounds. She stopped at the edge of the rose bushes, gasping for air. With each breath, she could smell them as if they were pressed up against her face. The smell was so rich and strong and welcome it almost masked the scent of the Beast on her. Almost unaware, she reached out and plucked one. It pricked her skin, making her bleed. She hardly felt it. She ignored her own blood mixing with the Beasts on her hand. She tucked the rose into her hair and continued away from the manor—the burning from the cut on her arm just one pain among many.

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