“Unseen eyes burned into her back. She realized then the beast had been watching her for some time and with a sigh, lowered her head in defeat. A sudden wind broke through the stuffy heat causing beads of sweat to fall down her neck. With an equal sweep of terror, the candles that had lined either side of the hearth were quenched. The draft blew into the hearth, dashing embers to pieces and tossing ashes up in a cloud that burst and then scattered through the room. She cringed from a terror that was due more to the sparks singing her cloak than the monster hunting her. She scrambled back on her hands and knees to avoid the black cloud billowing towards her.
It was her fear of fire that was her undoing, her knowledge of what it could and already had done to her. She stumbled over unfamiliar stone steps, until her fingers eventually found something hard, sharp and ringed by thick fur. Her scream died in her throat as she stood and twisted to meet a high-set pair of luminous golden eyes.
Those intelligent, animalistic orbs were too similar to those belonging to the creatures that had haunted her on her journey through the endless forest. She could still see their glowing green eyes when she shut her lids and hear their cries as they had stalked her long into the night and desired her flesh. Now she was faced by a terror far worse than a pack of hungry wolves.
With no other alternative, she raced back into the dissipating ashen cloud until her hands were braced against the shoulder-high hearth. The beast’s golden eyes, the only part of it she could see, pursued her with growing fury. But she had not come all this way for nothing and was not about to be eaten for dinner by a wyld animal. After taking in several deep breaths, she reached into the edge of the dying fire and gathered a fistful of hot ashes. Had her hand not already been damaged by injuries inflicted on her a lifetime past, she would have screamed from the pain. Instead the golden eyes disappeared and the massive shadow outlining the beast’s form let out a strangled and deafening roar when she threw the ashes into its face.
Without thought she ran into the dark unknown of the strange castle. Her legs were weak after so many endless days spent traveling the wilderness, with little nourishment remaining in her aching belly. She was so weary and wondered why the cold hadn’t simply taken her when it had the chance.
She heard the pounding of the creature’s heavy limbs tearing upon the floor with every scrape of its claws. Unbroken roars echoed her flight over the crimson carpet. The hall was black as pitch without the light of the fire and candles now. It wasn’t long before she felt the creature’s hot breath high above her neck, keeping pace with her every step. Her heart pounded as she pushed harder and barely missed colliding with a thin, stoned column. She pivoted to avoid one agony, only to feel the rip of sharp clawed hands sinking desperately about her waist and then she knew no more…
-excerpt from “Vynasha: A Wylder Tale”
“Tale as old as time,” is a phrase most people will recognize from Disney’s animated musical, Beauty and the Beast. In truth, it is one of the few fairy tales that we can trace down the ages. It is also one of the few we can still read its first written publication. To learn more about the history behind the lore, take a peek at this website: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/beautybeast/history.html
I think just about any literary gal wanted to be the Belle from Disney’s version at one point or another. I still remember going to see the movie in theaters when I was a little girl. It was one of my first cinematic experiences, and the Beast scared me so badly at one point my mother had to take me out of the theater for a few minutes. I was just as traumatized as Belle when she ran away from the castle and into the jaws of a hungry wolf pack. Naturally I came around to see Beast’s good side as she did. And over the years, I still find myself drawn to the rich story with its charming details and heartfelt message.
As a teenager I read Robin McKinley’s classic retelling, titled “Beauty.” I’ve read it countless times since then, drawn to the twists in Beauty’s history and McKinley’s nods to the original telling. I did not set out to make my own retelling, but the idea for a darker fantasy began formulating in my brain several years ago. I wanted to take the story down a different road, bringing heavier high fantasy elements into the tale than I had read of before. Like most retellings, there are many familiar elements. I’m not exactly re-inventing the story. I just want to offer my own rendition and perhaps give you something you’ve not quite seen the like of before.
I finished up my revisions my editor had suggested for me. At the moment she is fine tuning the final draft and you can look for publication this coming month. A few things you can expect are plenty of magic, mystery and beasts in a big scary castle. To learn more about “Vynasha,” visit the webpage here: http://jennifersilverwood.com/wylder-tales/
Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment telling us what fairy tale inspired you the most as a child or an adult. Don’t feel embarrassed if you still watch them from time to time. I know I do! And besides, we all need a reason to dream, a reason to keep hope that those dreams can one day come true.