Beast Lord: (Beauty and the Beast) (Tangled Tales Book 3)

BOOK: Beast Lord: (Beauty and the Beast) (Tangled Tales Book 3)
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Beast Lord

(Beauty and the Beast)

Book 3

 

 

Tangled Tales Series

 

By

 

Elizabeth Rose

 

 

Copyright © 2016 by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual organizations or persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever without the author’s written permission.

 

Cover created by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik

 

Books by Elizabeth Rose:

 


(Legacy of the Blade Series)


Prequel
 


Lord of the Blade


Lady Renegade


Lord of Illusion


Lady of the Mist

 


(Daughters of the Dagger Series)


Prequel


Ruby


Sapphire


Amber


Amethyst

 


(Madman MacKeefe Series)


Onyx


Aidan


Ian

 


(Barons of the Cinque Ports Series)


The Baron’s Quest


The Baron’s Bounty


The Baron’s Destiny

 


(Elemental Series)


The Dragon and the Dreamwalker


The Duke and the Dryad


The Sword and the Sylph


The Sheik and the Siren

 

 


(Tarnished Saints Series)


Tarnished Saints’ Christmas (Prequel)


Doubting Thomas


Luring Levi


Judging Judas


Seducing Zeb


Saving Simon


Wrangling James


Praising Pete


Teaching Philip


Loving John


Playing Nate


Igniting Andrew


Taming Thad

 

 


(Greek Myth Fantasy Series)


The Pandora Curse


The Oracle of Delphi


Thief of Olympus


Kyros’ Secret

 


(Short stories)


One Red Rose


My Christmas Soldier

 


(Cowboys of the Old West Series)


The Outlaw


The Bounty Hunter


The Gambler


The Drifter


The Gunslinger

 

Wolfe of the West

 


(Tangled Tales Series)


Lady and the Wolf


Just A Kiss


Beast Lord

 


(Single Title)


The Caretaker of Showman’s Hill


Curse of the Condor


Familiar

 

(Gnarled Nursery Rhymes)


Mary, Mary


Muffet (coming soon)

 

Please visit Elizabeth’s amazon page

to see boxed sets, print, and audiobooks

 

Website:
elizabethrosenovels.com

Author’s Note:

 

One of my favorite fairy tales, like most people has always been Beauty and the Beast. While there have been several versions of it through the ages, this is a twisted, tangled version that is my own interpretation of the fairy tale weaved into the story line of the de Bar siblings who have all been – or are about to be - cursed by the old witch, Hecuba. So sit back and enjoy the fairy tale in a way you’ve never heard it before.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

The devil was on his heels and the gates of hell yawned open before him, luring Stefan de Bar closer to the gloomy, foreboding structure of Breckenridge Castle. It was a mistake to go in there, he felt it in his bones. Something evil lie in wait for him, but his sense of loyalty to his family moved him forward and turning back was not an option. The trail led here and he wasn’t about to stop searching now.

“She’s in there,” he said under his breath to his younger brother, MacKay, who’d accompanied him on his quest to find and bring back their sister, Rapunzel. Stefan was the eldest of the seven de Bar siblings, and also the least reckless of the bunch. As the eldest, he felt it was his responsibility to watch after his siblings and see to their safety.

Raising a hand in the air, the entourage of two-dozen soldiers that followed him in this pursuit fell back and waited for his next command. He felt as if time were of the essence and something bad was closing in on him. It was an unsettling, odd feeling that settled in the pit of his stomach and burned like a hot poker against his gut. It was as if his pursuit was not only to find his sister – but to also find something else. He was chasing, yet it felt as if he were being chased. He was running toward his sister – yet somehow felt as if he were also running away . . . from himself. He didn’t understand it, nor did he have time to ponder the thought. His mission was to find his sister and bring her home safely, and he needed to focus on his intent since he had a small group of his brother’s men under his command.

Rapunzel had at one time been protected in a nunnery – having been put there by their father for her own safekeeping. But recently the old witch, Hecuba, had abducted her. Could things possibly get any worse?

“Are you sure she’s in there?” MacKay asked, holding his sword at the ready. MacKay wasn’t as tall as Stefan’s height of well over six feet. Stefan also outweighed him. MacKay’s dark hair was more like that of their twin brothers, Arnon and Hugh, while Stefan’s hair was a tawny brown and down to his shoulders but not nearly as long as the twins’ hair that reached to their waists.

The night was dark and the chill of the air bit at their skin feeling like the sting of an adder foretelling of something awful to come. He’d followed the trail of the old witch to Breckenridge, and by the word of several witnesses had proof a young woman with a long golden braid of hair that hung well past her feet was traveling with her.

“I’m almost certain,” replied Stefan. “However, I’d feel better if we had Hugh here to help track the witch’s scent.” Hugh was their brother who had the little problem of shapeshifting into a wolf at night, thanks to their father’s ex-lover, Hecuba, cursing him. She’d also cursed their brother, Arnon, who not only shapeshifted into a wolf – but also a frog at one time.

“The gates are wide open, and I hear fighting,” said Stefan’s squire, Trumble. Trumble was nearing the age of knighthood, and was one of the bravest men Stefan knew. However, the boy was restless with bloodlust in his veins – a lot like MacKay. He liked to attack first and ask questions later, but Stefan didn’t operate that way at all. “I say we storm the castle now,” said Trumble eagerly, peering through the darkness. There was a field between them and the castle, and a slight fog rose up from the warm, swampy waters of the moat.

“I agree,” added MacKay, siding with the young squire. MacKay was five years younger than Stefan’s age of nine and twenty years. Only the twins, Arnon and Hugh, were married, but they also had castles and soldiers who were loyal to them. Stefan had served as his brother Hugh’s steward after King Edward III gave Hugh a castle. And Arnon had gained his castle through marriage after marrying a witch of the swamps. Stefan had no wife, nor did he have a castle or men who answered to him. And no matter how hard his father tried to urge him to storm a castle and take what he wanted, Stefan wasn’t sure that was the right thing to do. He fought loyally for his king as well as for his brother, but he’d only been following orders. Giving orders to plunder, kill, and pillage for no other reason than greed, was not something he could do with a clear conscious, no matter what the bounty was in the end.

“Nay! We don’t know who’s in there nor who they’re fighting or why. I don’t like it.” Stefan’s eyes moved back and forth as he scanned the grounds. “It could all be a trap set up by Hecuba. She could be making it seem like a battle when there isn’t one at all.”

“God’s eyes, Stefan, I can hear people screaming and swords clashing,” said MacKay. “Someone in there might need our help.”

“Or we could be walking into what brings about our own deaths,” rallied Stefan. “We need to find out more before we just going rushing inside the castle walls.”

Breckenridge Castle was old and worn, but still a possible strong fortress as it was constructed of stone and not wood. It had an iron portcullis that was open, and the heavy wooden drawbridge was down and ready for entry, stretching across the eerie green moat. The smell of the water was retched and the stench wafted through the air around them. An uneasiness and anxiousness hung heavy amongst the men, and he couldn’t blame them at all.

He didn’t want to lead his brother’s men into the midst of a battle and would never even consider it if he hadn’t had the feeling his sister was being held prisoner inside. She could be in trouble.

MacKay started to move his horse forward but Stefan’s hand shot out and grabbed him by the wrist to still him. MacKay looked down to his hand and then back up to him in confusion. The light from the half moon shone in his green eyes. “You’re serious? We’re not going in?”

“We need to be more cautious,” Stefan told him. “I get a bad feeling about this. We need more information first.”

“By the rood, Stefan,” growled MacKay. “You are being overly cautious again. Now stop it.”

“No one knows we’re here,” chimed in Trumble. “We can take them by surprise. Then we’ll find your sister and get out of here.” He brushed a long blond curl of hair away from his forehead as he spoke.

“Mayhap we can take the castle for ourselves,” added MacKay. “So what are we waiting for?”

“Nay. There’s no need to be reckless,” Stefan tried to convince them, but as always, it only made the others think he was weak. “If our sister is in there, we can’t do anything that might jeopardize her life.”

“You are always worrying, now stop it and act like a warrior,” said his brother. “Let us attack.”

“These are Wolf’s men who follow me,” he said, using the name that everyone called his brother, Hugh. “I am responsible for them and I’ll not make hasty decisions.”

“If you ever have your own castle and soldiers some day, I pity those in your service.” MacKay shook his head.

“I’m sorry I’m not as bloodthirsty as the rest of you, but I’m in command now and you’ll follow my lead.”

“Look up there in the tower window,” said Trumble pointing up into the night sky. “There’s somebody up there.”

Sure enough, in the high west tower there was a slight movement, and then the flicker of candlelight as well.

“It’s Rap,” said MacKay, using the name they called their sister, Rapunzel. “She’s with someone.”

“Hecuba,” spat Stefan, spying the witch holding a candle, illuminating the distraught face of their frightened sister. Rap’s long golden hair was braided and wrapped around her waist twice before it was flipped up and over one shoulder.

Hecuba loved to curse the children of her past lover, and having hair that kept growing at a tremendous rate was the curse the witch bestowed upon his sister, Rapunzel. If she tried to cut the hair, it only grew faster and got thicker in the process. It was long and heavy and very burdensome.

Hugh and Arnon’s curses were even worse – shapeshifting into wolves and a frog. Some of the de Bar siblings had yet to feel the wrath of the vengeful woman, and Stefan hoped he and his other siblings would never have to live through one of Hecuba’s curses.

“That should be enough motivation for you.” MacKay started forward again. “Let’s go get our sister.”

“Someone approaches,” shouted a soldier from just inside the gate as he spotted Stefan and the men. “Fast, regroup yourselves, men.”

“Let’s go,” said Stefan, against his better judgment, but having no choice now. They’d been spotted and now there was no chance for retreat. His sister was inside and he would do whatever it took to save her.

Stefan led the way on horseback with his sword raised high in the air. Being followed by his brother and squire on their own horses with the foot soldiers and knights following behind them, they charged over the drawbridge.

With weapons at the ready, they rode up to the open gate. In the dark it looked like the gaping mouth of a monster waiting to swallow them whole. Stefan was a strong warrior and had no qualms about taking an enemy’s life, but it was in his nature to be cautious. Too cautious, or so his brothers always told him. Wolf had even said that someday that would be his downfall. Hopefully that time wouldn’t be today.

The fog enshrouded them as they entered the bailey. Then as if someone had removed a veil with the swipe of a hand, the fog was gone and visible was a battle in progress. Swords clashed, men fell, and servants screamed and ran in fear. Stefan didn’t know what was going on, or which side to help.

“Defend yourselves,” he called to his men with no other choice. There were two sides fighting here and they were now standing in the middle. He wasn’t even sure which side occupied the castle. The courtyard of the inner ward was littered with dead, broken, and bloodied bodies. Fires burned in the back of hay wagons and chaos erupted all around them.

A blade came toward him and he raised his sword just in time to block the blow. As he and his men fought the others, he realized this was even worse than he thought. Soldiers with their heads cut off but their swords still in theirs hands littered the ground. Carts were overturned and chickens and goats scattered in fear as the battle continued.

“God’s eyes, it’s a massacre,” said his squire from atop his horse at Stefan’s side. “I’m not even sure who we’re fighting.”

“I’ll find the leader and put an end to this,” growled Stefan, scanning the courtyard from atop his horse until he saw a man on the ground dressed differently than the others. One side wore tunics with a crest of a castle upon them, mimicking the crest of the flags atop the castle. But the other side, he realized, were dressed simply with no identifying crests at all. This man, however, seemed to have richer clothes, and jewelry that identified him as the leader of the unidentified soldiers. He slit a soldier’s throat and threw him to the side, then proceeded to go through the man’s pockets before moving on.

“You bastard!” Stefan knew now which side were the attackers, and hopped off his horse, cutting down men on his way towards their bloodthirsty leader. “Call off your men,” he shouted to the man.

“Who are you?” asked their leader, not waiting for an answer before swiping at Stefan with his sword.

Stefan fought like a madman, his rage growing with the sight of so many of his brother’s soldiers falling to the ground. There were probably no less than a hundred of the enemy soldiers, and as Stefan’s sword clashed against the enemy’s, he realized there was a good chance he and all of his soldiers would die since they were outnumbered.

He heard a female voice call out his name, and turned toward the keep to see his sister, Rapunzel, being held tightly by the old witch. They struggled through the crowded courtyard and when Rap almost managed to pull out of the woman’s grip, there appeared a green puff of smoke and they both disappeared.

“Nay!” he cried out, knowing the witch had the power of transporting and taking someone with her. Once again he’d been so close to saving his sister, but now she was gone. That split second of taking his attention away from the fight also proved to be a mistake.

“Die, you fool!” growled a voice just before the enemy’s blade came toward his head. Stefan tried to block the blow, but it was too late. The sharp edge of the man’s sword came down across his face, sinking into his flesh. He cried out in pain as he felt the deep cut above and below his right eye. His vision blurred and blood ran down his face.
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He slashed out with his sword, stabbing for the bastard, but one of the men’s guards protected him. Stefan’s blade sank into the guard’s heart instead.

Stefan could only see out of one eye now, but he only needed one eye to see the face of his attacker. The man’s dark eyes and crooked sneer was something that would be embedded in his mind forever. And when he held his sword up high, Stefan focused on the man’s gold ring with the big square blue stone – a ring like none he’d ever seen before.

He lunged for his attacker again, but this time was headed off by two more enemy soldiers as their leader disappeared into the crowd. The sound of clanking swords, shouting men, and arrows splitting the air overwhelmed him and made him crazy. He fought like a berserker, taking down man after man with one powerful blow of his sword after another as he cleared his path. His focus was on the man he intended to kill.

In the process he received another gash. This time the wound ran across his left cheek, but he didn’t let it slow him down. With his path finally clear, his attacker stood before him and Stefan would have killed him hadn’t his brother shouted for his help. He turned to see MacKay on the ground with three warriors coming for him with their swords drawn. With no thought for his own safety, he spun on his heel and charged for the men.

BOOK: Beast Lord: (Beauty and the Beast) (Tangled Tales Book 3)
6.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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