A young man finds adventure in the most unlikely place.
1985 Word Count
A young man walks through a village. He has his nose in a book and a smile on his face. He is so enthralled in the book that he doesn't acknowledge a solitary soul that he encounters. He stops in the town square as the book becomes more intriguing to him and takes a seat beside a tavern. There sitting by his side is an older man holding a piece of clay fastened into a sturdy cup.
"Young man, can you spare a little change?" asks the old vagabond, holding his cup in the direction of the young man. The young man doesn't acknowledge him so immersed in his fairytale, that the older man hits him on the side to get his attention.
"Yes, Sir, I apologize. How can I help you?" the attractive younger man asks pushing his jet-black curly hair from his milk chocolate complexed porcelain smooth face.
"Can you spare some change for an old vagabond?" asks the older man.
"Well I was going to use this change to get me a new book from the library, but I am sure it can wait a week until I save up again. Here you go," the young man replies, placing three copper coins and a silver coin into the cup.
"If you have time maybe I can repay you by telling you a fairytale. I've lived in this here small village for quite some time, and you know that we have quite a magical history," says the vagabond removing the hood.
The young man looks at the older man shocked by the severity of the scars that liter his face. He turns as the older man moves closer.
"Can I repay your kind act by telling you a story, my dear?" asks the older man again as he places his hand on the young man's leg.
"Sure, if you tell me your name?" asks the younger man.
"My name is Ivan... Ivan West," replies the older man as he smiles, revealing his discolored smile.
"Ivan West, nice to meet you. My name is Beau, Beau VanCamp," replies the younger man looking at, the older man.
"Have you heard the story about that Castle upon the Hill?" asks Ivan looking into Beau's eyes. He points at a dark figure amidst fog upon the mountain sitting above the village.
"No, all I know is that many say that the forest that separates the village from the castle may be haunted," Beau says as he looks at the vagabond.
"Then let me tell you the story if you have a little time dear sweet boy," Ivan replies as Beau nods.
Once upon a time, there was a handsome Baron, the son of the striking Duke who ruled over this fair village. Many women wanted this beautiful man, but he desired none. He longed to be loved, but the love that he genuinely wanted he could never possess without being disowned by his father. In his unhappiness, like his father, the Baron was said to have treated his subjects with no heart, and an iron fist. One spring day, his father came upon owning an African enslaved male. He made this young man a stable hand. One day the young African man was making dinner, and the Duke enjoyed it so that he gave the young man the task of being the house cook. One night the Baron was up late, he couldn't sleep, and the young man made him a hot meal and a warm cup of milk. As the young man was leaving the Baron stopped him and requested his presence while he ate. The young man did as he was told. The Baron had never seen someone so exotic looking in his 29 years. As he ate, he made the young stable hand uncomfortable. The young man was notorious like you for pushing his jet-black shoulder-length curly hair from his face. In that very instance, the Baron smiled, something he hadn't done in years. On that night, the Baron fell in love with the young man. From that day forward, they shared many nights and days. The Baron became nicer and gave of himself to his subjects. He even assisted his lover with his choirs so he could accompany him around town.
One day while in town the Duke watched his son from the Castle bringing so much happiness to his subjects. His actions frustrated the Duke, but more so than anything, it feared the Duke. He was afraid that this newfound pleasantness would cause the people to rise against him, putting his son to reign over the village. With this delusion of grandeur, he called upon a witch, the witch Decora from the Grecian Isles. When the witch got to the Castle, she made a deal with the Duke. In return for telling the Duke where this newfound spice for life and his subjects had come from, she would need the heart of a ruler. The Duke had many an enemy so he agreed, and was assured he would send his best Knight to retrieve a heart. As the Duke and Decora stand beyond a mirror peering at their reflections, she spells it, causing their reflections to fade. There before the Duke was the reason for his son's happiness. He watches his son kiss the young man in sheer anger.
When his son returns home, they get into a horrible fight, and the Duke asks were the stable hand is. Unbeknownst to the Duke, the young stable hand heard the fighting and took off into the forest. The Duke tells Decora to spell the woods, and she calls for the trees to take up life. They begin to uproot themselves and walk like soldiers. She is also told to lock the Baron in the home, and if he dares leaves, he will suffer gravely. The Baron leaves the Castle and instantly becomes ill, but not before he sees, his young love slain, hanging from a tree with his heart ripped out. For you see the young stable hand was a prince of an African nation sold into slavery by his subjects. As the Baron pulls his slain love from the tree, he sobs over his lifeless body. As he looks into the pooling blood below his feet, he notices his reflection and is appalled. The Baron no longer has a human face. He has the appearance of a bull and the body of a man. They turned him into a Minotaur. As the Baron picks up his lovers body and carries it back to the house, he notices his father watching from the tower. Decora feasts on the heart of the young man, sword raised above his head the Baron walks up behind her, lopping her head from her body. He then takes the bloody sword to the tower where his father waits for his inevitable demise. The young Baron states to his father.
"For your sins against this innocent you shall die," he picks up the sword and chops off his fathers head with one fail swoop silencing his father's piercing cry.
Later that night as the town slept. The New Duke's first order was to take his fathers head and body into the town center and place it there for all to see. No one ever saw the Duke again. It is said that he died from a broken heart. It is also said that he still wonders around the house holding the bones of his one true love. However, no one knows. His last act of kindness toward the village, he put a parliament in place to rule over us all so that he no longer had too, and secluded himself from the world. Some say you can still hear his waling at night if you listen carefully.
"That was a gruesome tale, Sir, but I am sure it was all made up," Beau says as he looks to his side and notices that no one is sitting there. Filled with a bit of terror, he takes off running, not paying attention to his surroundings. As he stops himself, he realizes that he is now in the haunted woods.
When he realizes where he is, he turns around, only to be confronted by a large oak which is standing uprooted, swinging one of its branches like a hammer. "My God!" screams Beau as he attempts to run. Unsuccessful, he is knocked into another uprooted tree. As Beau lays on the ground, a hooded figure chops off the branch of the oak moments for it's able to slam it down on Beau. The figure picks Beau from the ground and runs through a lively anger army of trees. As Beau's head throbs in pain, he can't make out any discernible characteristics of his savior, everything soon fades to black.
Beau rocks from side to side, in a huge king size bed, head still stinging from the blow.
"Where am I?" he asks himself as he looks down and notices that his clothes have been changed. He pulls the covers around his neck as he looks around the room for a moment.
The room is dark and cold, Beau slowly slides out of bed and walks across the cold floor toward a window. As he looks out the window, he notices that he is in the Castle atop the hill.
"You are here, in my castle?" says a voice from the darkest part of the room, frightened Beau hits his shoulder.
"Who is that?" asks Beau, sitting on the bed in the moonlight looking into the darkness.
"If I show features, you have to promise you will not scream," says the voice as it continues to lurk in the darkness.
"I promise," replies Beau.
From the darkness walks the creature from the old vagabond's story, the half-man, half-bull. Beau's eyes widen, yet he keeps his promise not to scream.
"You're the young Baron, turned Duke," replies Beau.
"Yes, My name is Christian," he replies.
Beau stands, as Christian moves closer to him. Beau doesn't move; as he stands face to face with the creature, he can feel the warm breath coming from his nostrils. The creature takes his hands and wipes a single tear from Beau's cheeks.
Beau raises his hand to Christian's face, "May I?"
Christian takes his head and places his face within the palm of Beau's hand. Christian breathes heavily from his snout.
"Do you have food?" Beau asks, placing his fingertips under Christian's chin.
"Yes, a kitchen stocked full. I don't know how to cook, I've been making the same thing over and over again," says Christian.
"That's got to be boring. Why don't you show me? I will make you dinner," said Beau holding Christian's hand.
"You mean us?" asks Christian stopping in his tracks.
"Yes. I will make dinner for us both. It's the least I can do. I owe you my life." replies Beau as he walks up to Christian, placing his head upon his chest, which is partially covered in bull hide, and the other in human flesh.
Beau can hear the faint calling of his name in the distance.
"Do you hear that?" asks Beau as he looks around.
"No, what do you hear?" Christian asks, looking around also.
"Beau!" they both hear it then. Beau realizes that he is in a dream and someone is trying to wake him
"Don't worry; you can wake up. We will see each other again. Very soon," Christian says as Beau's body jerks up out of its sleep. There standing before him is an older Caucasian male.
"Beau, you were talking in your sleep. Who is Christian son?"
Beau gets up running to the window looking up at the Castle up on the hill; a smile runs across his face.