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The Beauty and the Beast

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“One day your antics are going to come back to bite you in the ass, Taehyung.”

From across the table, Taehyung raises a glass of wine, as if toasting his companion. With a smile so wide it turned his lips into the shape of a box. “You’re just jealous because you don’t have hordes of women throwing themselves at your feet!”

His friend shakes his head in disbelief. “You’re impossible. Ever since you and your family took ownership of the castle, you’ve been strutting around here like some prince.”

Taehyung grins, leaning across the wooden table. “Maybe I am.” He says, waggling his eyebrows.

With a roll of his eyes, his friend slaps a hand against his forehead. “You’re family may be wealthy, but you’re far from a prince.” He sighs, taking a sip of the dark amber liquid. “But for real Tae, you need to be more careful. You’re going to break the wrong heart and find yourself in more trouble than you can handle.”

“You worry too much, my friend.” Taehyung says with a nonchalant shrug. “What’s the worst that could happen? They run off and tell their fathers? Those idiots wouldn’t dare touch me, knowing the power my parents hold.”

“You’re a cocky bastard, I’ll give you that.” There was genuine concern in his friends voice, but still Taehyung lets his words of caution go in one ear and out of the other.

An hour later, both men go their separate ways. Taehyung finds it difficult to walk straight, his weak tolerance for alcohol quickly catching up  to him. The castle in which in parents bought and now reside within, is situated at the top of a hill; sitting on the edge of a cliff. During the day, it was a sight to behold. But in the middle of the night, with little light, the looming stone pillars and carefully sculpted statues, could be terrifying. Even after living there for the better part of 2 years, Taehyung still found it chilling.

Thankfully, due to his inebriated state, he found the ominous building, easy to ignore. It took enough concentration just to put one foot in front of the other.

“Excuse me, sir.” The softest voice he’s ever heard in his life comes from behind him.

Taehyung  doesn’t stop to turn around, in fact, he thinks the voice is nothing more than a hallucination brought on by his drunken state. Choosing to ignore it, he waves a dismissive hand, offers a low grunt, and continues on his way. Only to stop short as a thin, graying woman no taller than his shoulder, appears as if out of the air, before him; effectively blocking his path.

Taehyung squints his eyes, hoping to focus them on the newcomer. “Sorry, I’m not interested in whatever it is that you’re selling.” He says, giving up on trying to bring the two women into one single form. “It’s very late and I’ve spent all I have drinking tonight.” This was a lie, he had more money than he could ever spend in one lifetime, but she didn’t need to know that.

“I’m not here for your money.” She says, her voice soft and velvety. “I’ve come on behalf of my daughter. Though, I’d be surprised if you remembered her.”

Maybe he felt a tad bit guilty at the fact that there was truth to what she said. Taehyung rarely remembered any of the girls he became involved with. “Are you here to scold me? Tell me what a horrible man I am and that I should be more careful? That breaking young hearts is wrong?” He rolls his eyes at the woman and moves around her. “I’ve heard it all before, lady. I’m sorry I hurt your daughter,” He wasn’t, really. “And I’ll be a better person in the future.” Telling these parents what they wanted to hear usually did the trick, getting them off his back.

“No,” She says, suddenly appearing once more to stop him from going further. “I’m not here for any of that.” Before Taehyung has a chance to say anything in response, the woman has lifted her right hand and blows a cloud of foul smelling powder into his face. It stings his eyes and burns the hair in his nostrils. 

Sputtering and coughing, Taehyung stumbles backwards away from the woman, wiping fervently at his face, trying to dislodge the dust from his eyes. “What the hell!” He cries out, blinded by the powder, he could no longer see which direction he faced. “You’ll pay for this woman!”

“Oh, I don’t think so.” Her voice, much deeper and more gravelly speaks right against his ear, causing him to flinch away from the warmth of her breath against the shell of his earlobe. “I curse you, Kim Taehyung,” She says, the young man freezing as a static sensation goes through him. “I curse you to live as the beast you are. When the moon is full you will be forced to change into an animal, to think as the animal you portray yourself as. No woman will ever love a beast, and on the night of the total lunar eclipse, you will no longer turn back into a man.”

Chills make the hair along his body stand on end, fear grips him, but the woman wasn’t finished. “But,” She goes on to say, a lighter tone to her voice. “Should you actually manage to find the love of another, you can break this curse.” A terrifying laugh fills the air around the pair. “Too bad you’re incapable of something as fragile as love .”

“You’re talking nonsense.” Taehyung growls with annoyance. Though he was unable to focus on the woman, his head still turns towards the sound of her voice, so close to his ear. “I’ll make certain you’re severely punished for this.”

She begins laughing again, though now it sounds further away. “50 years from now, the total lunar eclipse will cast the earth into absolute darkness. Until then, you will remain young while those around you grow old and die. They will shun you and you will be utterly alone.”

The cackling of the woman fades into the darkness of the night, and as soon as she’s gone, Taehyung’s eyesight clears, allowing him to see once more. Blinking several times, Taehyung looks around, searching for the woman, but finds nothing. Crickets chirp all around him and somewhere in the distance an owl hoots. With no signs of his attacker, Taehyung turns towards the castle situated on top of the hill looming over the village below. 

3 weeks after Taehyung’s encounter with the strange woman, the full moon rises and the arrogant young man goes through his first change. The process unbearably painful, bones rearranging themselves to take on a more animalistic form; thick black fur burst from his skin to cover his entire body. Face distorts and elongates into the muzzle of a wolf. Every one of his senses are heightened beyond any mere humans.

The first time is the hardest. His human side completely overpowered by the predator. A hunger he’s never felt before grips him, driving his new instincts to hunt. He won’t remember much after the change, just the sounds of screaming and the excitement of chasing his prey. When he wakes up the next morning, it would feel like nothing more than a bad dream. Only, the coppery taste of blood on his tongue, and the stickiness covering his entire body, would say otherwise.

Later, he would find the bodies of his parents and their servants, spread throughout the castle grounds; torn to shreds. Horrified by what he’d done, Taehyung quickly destroyed the evidence of his savagery.

Refusing to allow this to happen again, Taehyung locks himself in the dungeon of the castle, caging the beast in order to keep the villagers safe. And for the next 50 years, he doesn’t leave the castle grounds, cutting off all contact with outsiders- even spreading rumors of a bloodthirsty monster living in the castle on the hill; hoping to ward off those who lived in its shadow.

Or so he thought…