Another excerpt from my odd little Camp Nanowrimo story. “Beauty and the Beast but make it weird(er)” sums up a good amount of my ideas, I think. I feel like the draft is pretty chaotic but I’m pleased with the content I’m coming up with.
Please excuse the unedited state of this excerpt, haha. I’m thinking I might need to either take a pause from WIP Wednesdays or do a different variation of it during Nanowrimo 2022 proper since I’m a bit too busy to polish things.
She bends but does not break. She stares at him with glazed eyes, with a distant sort of interest, but never the hatred that he deserves.
Irony of ironies, he has more interest in how to conquer the Beneath than how to run his own kingdom in the Above. The world between worlds is regularly patrolled, now, with rangers stationed around the canyons that gape like wounds in the earth.
Sometimes the patrols stumble upon a creature that they think will be worthy of his attention.
More often than not he’s disappointed by the results: the creatures’ mind is so broken by the sudden appearance of intruders in its homeland, monsters in human form, that it has no hopes, let alone dreams, left.
They die in captivity and sometimes bleed out or die of despair before they ever reach the cage that would be their permanent home.
It’s very annoying.
Blaine gets grumpy when he’s hungry. Grunpier than usual. His physical form needs the dreams just as much as his spiritual self, and it reacts as if he’s starving it of true nutrients instead of wisps of thought. In more desperate times he will resort to eating the dreams of his subjects.
There are no true heavy sleepers in the Above. Not anymore. All of the children have been warned of his appetite like he’s a bogeyman made real. Still, he’ll creep among the common stink sometimes, fair hair darkened beyond recognition with soot and face cast in shadows beneath the hood of his cloak at night. He will stay in inns with little care for their patrons or volunteer to help a peasant in exchange for sleeping in their barn.
The latter always earns him skeptical looks thanks to his frailty, but he doesn’t care. He proves himself through sheer stubbornness if not brute strength. Then, when night falls, he’ll have the precious little jewels of dreams from all of their animals that he gathers like eggs.
Over the years, though, such espionage has proven more difficult. There isn’t a person in the village that doesn’t know not to be wary of someone fitting his description, though the details become exaggerated over time. His height, the length of his fingers, the sickliness of his skin. The latter particularly bothers him. He’s a dream eater, nocturnal by necessity. Why would he need the sun’s rays when the darkness of his castle or the soft kisses from the stars and moon suffice?
“Do I appear… unwell to you?” He asks the monstress.
Her forked tongue flicks out. “Why ask a question when you know the answer?”
“My skin has been called pale as death by the common folk and I’ve been compared to corpses since I was a child. Is it true?”
She folds her legs, spidery, inwards, tucking them beneath her chest. “I am a monster, king. I do not believe that I would be the best judge of such things.”
“Stop avoiding the question. I despise when you do this.”
“Do you? We’ve spoken this way so often and you never appear to tire of anything that I have to say.”
“You do appear sickly because you are sick. Curses like ours take a toll on the body. Every morning I wake up in excruciating pain.”
She looks away from him, then.
“Suppose that I broke your curse,” he says. “What then?”
“I don’t see why you would. You would have no use for me after making my wildest dream come true.”
“I need a project.”
He puts his hand through the bars. She rests her chin on top of his hand, pinning it between her leg and her head.
“Is running the kingdom not enough for you?” She asks, eyes glittering as she looks away.
“Nothing will ever be enough for me. Satisfaction is not in my nature.” He grins, more wolfish than her own wolf’s muzzle.