I wanted to post a sort of overview of my current project, a trilogy called Beauty and the Beast. I know a good number of people have written stories to this effect, but it is my hope that mine will stand out boldly from the rest. It features a nobleman with a beastly secret and a beautiful burdened servant girl, whose unions and partings are marked by the presence of a rose. However, I hardly consider the tale traditional. I must admit to more similarities in tone to the original in my rendition than to the Disney version, though it is still quite different from both, and it is certainly not a tale meant for children.
A notable theme throughout the story is the breaking of stereotypes. People who are adamantly against stereotypes may find my story difficult to read, but ironically those are the people who would likely get the most out of reading it.
The plot is relatively long, overly involved, and purposely intricate, remaining very detail-sensitive throughout. However, as I am still in the process of penning it, as it stands now the story shows at only ten chapters. Here is a brief summary with as few spoilers as possible (though, admittedly, there are still several), divided into the three volumes:
Rome, a son born to a nobleman and his ignoble wife, grows up in the countryside in his father’s mansion, reasonably far away from the laws of society. One night his parents are slaughtered, leaving him a traumatized orphan with an empty house and no known relatives. A young boy coming face-to-face with his parents’ coffins, he panics and flees into the nearby forest, where to his startled dismay he finds a creature willing to help him in a very unexpected manner. Labriella, a young orphan girl of unknown origin, works as a servant in the village temple. When sent on an errand one day, she gets lost in the forest and draws the attention of Rome, who has lost all sense of identity. The two overly-serious children grow up together, each becoming the other’s only friend, each naturally pulling the other out of their hardened shell. There are only two restrictions in their relationship: 1) Rome refuses to have anything to do with the village. 2) No one can know of Rome’s existence. When Labriella’s jealous enemy Pandora finally discovers her secret, Labriella and Rome are forced to part.
Several years pass, during which Rome degenerates and retreats to his father’s mansion. During this time Labriella undergoes standard temple servant training as she takes on more responsibilities, and at the behest of her watchful superior, learns some nobler skills in secret. She also discovers an unexpected new friend in Kitiora, an outspoken flirty teenage girl who serves in the local inn. Meanwhile, Pandora’s jealousy continues to mount as the townsmen begin to take notice of the growing beauty of her rival, Labriella, who is somewhat oblivious and annoyed by their advances. After Labriella turns down the advances of a mysterious merchant, Kitiora finally pries information about Rome out of Labriella, and tells her of the legend surrounding him. Unable to remove Rome from her mind, Labriella obtains permission to visit Rome and is shocked to find him drastically changed in both appearance and demeanor. Severely disheartened, she returns to the temple and, in her chronically depressed state, fails to avoid Pandora’s trap. Rome shocks everyone by coming to rescue Labriella, and as she follows him home, indebted to him, she recognizes that she will be declared a runaway slave. Assuming Rome’s cold demeanor is a sign of hatred, Labriella assumes the role of his household slave.
Labriella’s residence in Rome’s house proves stretching for both of them. Old feelings return with startling strength, and soon both find it difficult to follow the rules of propriety. After cornering a very bewildered Labriella, Rome seeks answers from strangers in the town. As Rome struggles to find his place in society, and Labriella struggles to find her place in Rome’s heart, everything is turned on its head: merchants call shots, prostitutes give advice, nobles butt heads, and all hell breaks loose. Through all this, Rome turns on his own kind in an attempt to draw out his parents’ murderer. Labriella begins to look more like a tool in a never-ending plot of vengeance and race against lust, and Rome begins to look like a psychotic sadistic murderer. Will the chaos ever unravel enough for Rome and Labriella to come to terms with who they are and what they are capable of? Or is it already too much just to try and stay together?
After finally declaring once and for all that no amount of violent tug-of-war will break them apart, Rome and Labriella have only a brief quiet spell before the real magic starts flying. Strange characters begin showing up one by one at Rome’s mansion, demanding a challenge, while others stalk the couple from the shadows. Just as Rome becomes annoyed with Labriella’s new attackers, he realizes that he may very well be the target. The bloody alliances and underhanded tricks of scornful and wounded nobility, now settled to lick their wounds, prove minuscule when compared with the cruel brutality of those borne into the exercising of true power, and Pandora shockingly emerges as their queen. The country shudders in terror as the supernatural violence escalates and the land is rocked to its core.
As the war rages on, and Rome and Labriella are the only ones on the opposing team, they are forced to acknowledge that they may be more imperative to one another’s survival than they care to admit. When the option of self-sacrifice is thrown out the window, the options are: 1) both survive, or 2) watch the world go up in flames.
When the dust finally settles—provided that Rome and Labriella even survive that long—will they have a place in the world? Is this war even worth surviving?
The royal court has been in a state of complete upheaval for at least one century—maybe more, since no one can remember a time where there was not strife. As families of high nobility continue to bloodthirstily kill one another off in fruitless attempts to seize sovereign power, the few sane nobles desperately try to discreetly gather the reins before the country pulls itself apart completely. Drawn by rumors of a man who single-handedly commanded the unconditional obedience of all the nobles of a particular vicinity, the small group of noblemen of the king’s court come to investigate. Equally intrigued and put-off by the increasing rumors of this legendary man as they grow closer to his presumed home, they are surprised to find a man of unusual appearance living quietly with his beautiful common bride some distance from the nearest city. After further investigations reveal the truth of the rumors, as well as the truth and unexpected relevance of other more outrageous-sounding rumors pertaining to magic and superhuman abilities, the men confer among themselves and present the man with a proposition: Become a temporary king. With his undeniable inherent ability to rule, command respect, and repel assassinations, as well as his more-than-evident disinterest in joining the struggle for ultimate power, the man is the perfect candidate. He will simply force the nobles to behave, thereby saving the country from peril within and without. He will hold the position until most of the aggression dies out and a new king can be peaceably elected and coronated.
Labriella encourages Rome to accept the temporary kingship, against his better judgment. She agrees with the high nobles’ assessment, knowing that Rome has the makings of a great king. She also sees this promotion-of-sorts as an opportunity for Rome to gain the formal recognition he has been denied for much of his life. But as Rome pays more and more heed to his new responsibilities, he begins to distance himself from Labriella, and as merely the king’s woman she is helpless to stop it. She is soon devastated to learn he has begun to toy with other women. With few friends among the royal court, and unable to turn to other men for fear of endangering their lives in the face of Rome’s jealous wrath as he becomes more and more unstable and unpredictable, Labriella takes to disguising herself as a commoner and sneaking off to the city or the wildlands—much to the chagrin of Rome’s personal captain. As Labriella struggles to put on a brave face over Rome’s possessiveness, violent tendencies, and bedroom conquests, and Rome struggles to keep face with the surrounding countries’ rulers and keep a tight rein on his power-hungry generals, while commanding his armies and fending off assassins, the two are slowly drawn toward insanity as they are drawn apart. Is one stressed-out captain enough to keep the hurting couple together, or will he too turn out to be a traitor in the end? And when the one traitorous creature with power to rival Rome’s own arrives on the scene, is there anything in the world strong enough to keep the entire planet from being ripped apart?