In The Garden of the Beast: prologue
The only things she could ever remember of
her mother were roses. But it wasn't really a memory, more of
an association of the smell of roses, with her mother. Her brother
always told of her beautiful golden hair, that was long and like
silk, or her pale skin and bright blue eyes. He almost made it
seem as if she was an angel. Perhaps she was now.
Her mother had died only a few years after
she was born. Leaving broken wisps of warm embraces and rose perfumes
on her mind. Her father had sunk into a deep depression after,
and soon, he too joined her mother as an angel in the clouds.
At the time, a great cultural revolution was happening in the
country, and their parents had held much power. But, changes happen
quickly, and without notice.
They had been taken in by a band of gypsies,
and raised for some years. Then, when her brother came of age,
they left their extensive foster family, and made a life for their
Coming to a small cottage uninhabited by anyone
for years, they took it as their own after confirming with the
locals that such was alright, and wouldn't cause trouble to anyone.
So in a cottage called Rose Petite Maison,
on the outskirts of the town of Douilletette Petite Ville, they
lived in peace.
"There you go my roses," the young
girl with honey blond hair smiled at the bushes of flowers in
"Talking to the flowers again Relena?"
"Yes, Milliardo. It helps them grow, thank
you." She caught a glance of her brother in the corner of
her eye. He leant against the wall of the cottage, long pale hair
flowing in the light breeze. He grinned at her.
"Whatever you say dear soeur. I'm
going into town. Do you need anything?"
She tapped her chin in thought for a moment.
Ah yes. "Thread. To tie the vines together, so they don't
eat the whole of our house. Oh yes, and some vegetable seeds if
possible. Whatever you find is alright." She knelt down to
examine the roots of the bushes.
"Of course my soeur. I should return
"Take care frere."
"I shall dear soeur."
No flour anywhere in the house. How did anyone
expect her to bake a cake for Market Day, with there being no
flour? And when did she use all of it up? She didn't remember
using it. Ah yes. Milliardo had lent some to that lady-friend
of his. What was her name...Lucrezia. Yes, that's it. The daughter
of the Italian merchant. Her brother had come to take quite a
shine to her. In her opinion, they looked as different as night
and day. But, she seemed nice enough.
"Oh, where did Milliardo put the eggs?"
She mumbled to herself in a perturbed tone. She knelt down to
the lowest part of the pantry, and still found nothing. "I
guess I'll have to go see if either of the hens have some they
could lend me." She puffed, and stood up.
Outside, the air was a brisk chill, and she
gave a slight shiver, before wrapping her arms around herself.
The sky was beginning to darken, and her brother hadn't returned
home as of yet. Perhaps, he had stayed to talk to Miss Noin. Going
to the side of the cottage, beside the garden, she stepped into
the small area for the chickens, and goat. Her brother had made
it out of a dead tree trunk near the cottage. The dark wood gave
suspicion it had been hit by lightening during a storm. She bent
down to inspect the chickens, certainly violating their personal
space in the fashion of which she did it.
"Ah, there we go." She smiled at
the two white ovals she held in her palms. "And thank you
very much hens."
Back inside, she set the eggs next o the other
ingredients, but didn't proceed to begin mixing the batter. Instead,
she went about making a fire, and letting the cats in. They yawned
at her with their usual air of indifference, and laid down on
the chair and scattered pillows. The fluffy white dog looked up
from the rug near the hearth, and went back to sleep.
"Lazy pets." She scoffed disapprovingly,
and set her attention to the cake.
Shouldn't have stopped to talk to Lucrezia.
Milliardo chastised himself. It was already becoming dark, and
he was thoroughly lost. I've walked this trail dozens of times,
why have I gotten lost now. Makes no sense. The dense forest
gave him no help either. It looked the same from all sides, and
only the small path he steered the pony on was his only point
of reference in the place. It was becoming cold too.
T hey bounded along for some time after that,
when curiously, the trees and vegetation began to thin, and soon,
he came to the edge of the forest, and the beginning of something
He dismounted the pony, and stepped onto the
gray gravel that outlined the sections between fountains, steps,
and concrete pathways that led to a large gray palace on a terrace.
It gave an ominous feeling around it, and dark clouds hovered
above it's tall steeples. If Milliardo had been any other man,
he would have walked along, away from the palace. But Milliardo
was not just any man. That's right, he was a brave man. A very
brave, yet extremely dense young man.
But most peculiar of this place, it was quiet.
Oddly quiet. In fact, back in the forest, a good few thirty paces
before the edge, he hadn't heard a sound, except that of himself
and the pony, or seen an animal, save his horse companion.
Coming to the door, even Milliardo felt a bit
intimidated. They seemed more for just one man to open by himself.
And the carvings were beautiful. A lovely lady holding a rose,
of bronze, was imbedded into the wooden doors, carvings of roses,
vines, and fairies around the sides, farming the extraordinary
centerpiece. Two knockers, also of bronze, were centered in each
of the doors, ghastly monsters holding the rings in their mouths.
Gripping in the cold metal, Milliardo knocked
twice, before letting the ring fall to it's place.
The door creaked open...
"Allo? Anyone here?" Milliardo yelled
into the empty space of the grand hall. It was dark, but still
light enough for him to discern shapes, and some values.
His pony whinnied, and nuzzled his shoulder,
giving away her nervousness of this place, but obedient enough
to stay with her master, instead of bending to her instincts and
running strait for the forest, and never coming back.
He rubbed the bridge of her long nose, and
continued, pacing forward a bit at a time. "I'm terribly
sorry for imposing into your house like this, but, well, the door
just opened." The door creaked shut behind him, with a loud
bang that unnerved him in just the slightest bit. "We're
lost, and wondering if you had any directions for us, or perhaps
a warm bed, to sleep the night, and a stable for my pony. If it
isn't too much trouble, of course." He coughed nervously.
A low rumble alerted him to a figure at the
top of the grand stairs. Only the silhouette was visible, but
his jostled Milliardo's courage even more.
"You may do as you like. But keep in mind,
monsieur, this is my house." He gruffed in a monotonous
voice, and stalked off, leaving a very scared Milliardo.
"Now, monsieur, this way if you
would please." That, made him jump, a voice out of
no where. Spooky
"W-who was that?" He struggled to
not let fear sound apparent in his voice. Even the pony was unnerved.
"Servants, monsieur, servants.
We're are invisible to the average, human eye. You may call me
Duo, if you would like. Come along, I'll lead you to the den."
And a small tug at his sleeve, directed him towards the left,
and a small room.
The reigns to his pony were carefully taken
from his hands, and she was led outside, most likely to the stables.
"Now monsieur. Have as much food
as you like. If you need anything, just ask for it, and it shall
appear for you. Take care monsieur." And he felt suddenly,
Milliardo ate his dinner alone in the silence
of the den. Fire crackled in the fireplace, and created dancing
shadows across the walls, playing on Milliardo's imagination,
and deepest fears.
He slept soundly, and comfortably in a small
bed in the corner of the room, warm under the wool and cotton.
He awoke rested the next morning, refreshed, and great alacrity
to leave as soon as possible. But, in the corner of his eye,something
crimson flashed brightly, drawing his attention. He had not noticed
the night before, but on the mantle piece, a single rose, of the
most brilliant red, was held in a plain, white vase.
Rele loves rosesHe thought wistfully.
And she would especially love one of this caliber. He could just
imagine the smile on her face, and how her eyes would light up
if he brought her home this rose. And it wouldn't hurt that she
might forget about him not returning home last night.
The petals were smooth he noted as he lifted
the rose carefully out of the vase, trying to protect its delicate
A loud roar filled the palace that rattled Milliardo down to his
bone. The large figure from the night before bounded into the
room, furious, and puffing it's breaths furiously.
"You dare to take my rose?" The Beast
roared. "After I have given you shelter, food, and warmth,
you repay me with stealing my rose!"
"I- I'm sorry. It was for my sister. She
loves roses a- and, her's haven't been blooming well lately-"
"No excuse," the Beast cut him off
sharply, his tone quiet, but conveying the disgust.
"I'm sorry truly. B-but, Relena hasn't
been herself lately, a-and, I thought it would make her very happy."
Milliardo finished, and looked at the Beast. He seemed to be contemplating
something. He stood there for many moments silent, and it grated
Milliardo's nerves more than he could handle, and more than once
thought he would faint. Except, of course, he's an extremely brave,
but extremely dense young man.
"Your sister" He said finally. "Very
well. In payment for your crime, your sister shall come and live
"My sister? No, monsieur! You shall
not have my sister!" Milliardo found his anger. He looked
back at his earlier fear with shame, and was disgusted at himself
for such weakness.
"You shouldn't have tried to steal my
rose. And now you pay the price. Your sister."
His anger flared with more intensity. "No
"May I say something to the monsieur,
maitre?" The voice of Duo resounded through the tension.
"Speak Duo." He eyed him warily.
"Monsieur, the mademoiselle
would be well taken care of, and no harm would come to her. I
would urge you to reconsider, for it would be a shame to see one
of the only visitors we've had in many years die at my master's
Milliardo considered this for a moment. It was absurd, but Relena
didn't have anything for herself in the town. No potential suitors,
and no craft to follow. He sighed in defeat. "Give your word
she shall come of no harm, and be well taken care of." He
met the Beast's eyes, and for the first time, he noticed how extraordinary
they were. Of striking prussian blue, they gave a hardness to
With one last glance, Milliardo averted his
eyes, and stood straight. "She'll come soon." And he
walked past, shoulder's slumped, and deepening with each step.
"Milliardo! Where have you been! I was
about ready to gather a search party for you! But I should've
known better. You're careless." Relena chastised her brother,
while fussing over him as he stepped through the door. "Why,
you're freezing! Come sit down by the fire frere."
She led him to the wooden chair covered by a bearskin they bought
a few years back on market day.
Sounds of banging near the hearth, and bubbling
stew made him almost think he was hungry. But his stomach churned
with nausea by what his deed had done. He would no longer have
his dear seour. He was thoroughly disgusted with himself.
"I've done wrong."
"Relena" He sighed, and told the
whole story of his prolonged return, the palace, and the Beast.
Afterwards, she only gave a little gasp, and
was quiet contemplating this new development.
"Well, I suppose I should pack and leave
"You're not going seour."
He looked her straight in the eye, willful and strong.
"But I must frere. He gave his
word. I must."
"But you can't."
"But I must."
"Rele" He whispered
"Milli" She returned, giving a half-sob,
which she hastily tried to mask
A single tear slid down her cheek, which he
tenderly wiped away with his index finger.
"Moi amour tu, frere." She
sobbed, and wrapped her arms around her brother's neck.
"Moi amour tu, seour." She
wept also, clutching her back, and stroking her hair for the last
time her ever would.
"Au revoir Milli."
"Au revoir Rele."
She clutched the reigns of the pony, and steered
ahead onto the path. Looking back at her brother, cats, and puppy,
her heart sank. But it broke when she gazed at Rose Petite Maison.
One of the only homes she ever knew, and she was leaving it; just
like every other home she had ever known.
Wiping away the rebellious tears on her cheeks,
she walked on, and off the path through the forest, on search
for the palace of a Beast.