Chapter Twelve: The Castle
What was once his dreaded prison had become his ultimate fortress. Every entrance and secret passage was secured by a servant. Hours would pass without any peculiar sound. However, such silence did not satisfy his suspicions. It all began with one attack on a cold night, two days ago. Monsters, marked by red heart-shaped symbols, had hunted for Belle, the woman who held his heart. They came close but met their demise. Their primitive plot was thwarted by the Beast.
After peering through every hallway, room, and tower inside his enormous castle, the Beast paced in the open foyer. He glared into the shadowy corners, as if seeking the unseen enemy. Belle had tried to console his paranoia but to no avail. The Beast pondered madly, hoping to uncover and fix a weakness in his castle defenses. He took one heavy step forward and basked in the colored moonlight. It was, of course, shining through the stained glass window, high above the entrance.
Red, green, and blue, the lights pacified the Beast. He drew back to the wonderful dance that he and Belle had shared long ago. She, spinning in a golden yellow dress, and the Beast, fitted into a royal blue suit, had their own private ball. Like a lullaby, the orchestral music from the memory gave him a much-needed moment of peace.
And without warning, that moment was literally shattered.
The stained glass window shot a flurry of rainbow-colored shards. The Beast covered his face and crouched. He watched the floor, shining like glitter from the broken window. His ferocious eyes caught the intruder, flying smoothly under the stone archways of the foyer.
It appeared slim, like a teenage boy. The moonlight revealed its grass-green color. The Beast was unsure of the tiny bit of scarlet atop its head. It landed at the forked stairway, in between the East and West Wing. Turning its head to the East, leading to Belle's room, the Beast panicked.
The voice of the Beast thundered inside his cavernous castle. His rage took the form of a lunge attack, towards the green menace. Instead of catching it, the Beast fell into the flat stone stairway. The intruder had sprung out of the way and floated in midair. The moonlight flashed its face. It was no creature but a human. A boy who could fly.
"Get out of my castle, NOW!" yelled the Beast, snarling through his large fangs.
"Not until you tell me where I can find Tinker Bell!" cried the boy in green. He reached out for his dagger and pointed it at the Beast.
"I don't know what you're talking about but if you're looking for a fight, then why don't you get a little...CLOSER?!?!"
The Beast leaped high towards the boy, drifting just inches away.
"Hehe! You're going to have to jump a little higher than that," taunted the boy. He darted into the East Wing stairway. The cramped corridors turned out to be much shorter than he expected.
The East Wing door swung fiercely against the wall. The Beast charged in with a vicious sneer.
"Uh oh," blurted the flying boy. He flew straight ahead and found a dead end. To his right was a cream-colored wardrobe, blocking a door.
"Is this where you're keeping her?" The boy floated over the door frame.
"Get AWAY!" shouted the Beast. The boy hid behind the wardrobe to take cover. He winced at the rising sound of the Beast's paws, slamming the carpet floor. The Beast came to an unsteady stop so he wouldn't touch the wardrobe. The boy sighed in relief. He then followed his gut and tried to pull the wardrobe aside. It suddenly came alive and head-butted him into the wall.
"HMPH! Haven't you any manners?" shrieked the wardrobe. The boy had fallen to the floor and rubbed his head. He gaped at the eyes and lips of the talking piece of furniture.
"What are you?" asked the boy. His curiosity distracted him long enough for the Beast to grab his entire body with one hand. He tightened his grip and brought the boy closer to his terrifying teeth.
"I'll be asking the questions now," asserted the Beast. "Who are you? And why have you come to my castle?"
"My name is Peter Pan. And believe me, I don't want to be here but you've kidnapped Tinker Bell and I've come to rescue her."
The Beast raised his lip and gave a skeptical look. Peter Pan leaned back, both out of fear of being eaten without warning and out of disgust from the Beast's foul breath.
"I don't know who this Tinker person is. But if you've come for Belle, you will go nowhere near her."
"You like to call her Belle, huh?" accused Peter Pan. "Well TINK isn't staying here any longer." He wiggled his hand and reached for his dagger.
"AAAARGH!" hollered the Beast. He released Peter Pan and held his hand, stinging in pain. With a clever plan in mind, the flying boy hurried back to the East Wing entrance and baited the Beast to catch him again. He snickered as the Beast ran foolishly towards him.
PWSH! Peter Pan bounced from the wall and bolted past the Beast. He slipped in between the door and the wardrobe. Disoriented, the Beast frantically shook his head and growled like a confused animal.
Peter Pan pushed his legs out to keep the wardrobe from squishing him. The moment he successfully picked the keyhole with his dagger, a clicking sound alerted the Beast. As the master of the castle, he charged onward, getting closer and closer. Peter Pan opened the door and entered the room. The living wardrobe hopped aside, making way for the Beast.
The Beast broke down the door. He huffed, worried that Belle would be gone. Instead, she stood on her bed and repeatedly smacked her pillow against Peter Pan.
"Hey! Quit it!" Peter Pan tried to fly up but Belle was frightened and batted him from getting too high.
"Belle!" cried the Beast.
"Huh?" muttered Peter Pan.
"Oh good. You're here!" said Belle to the Beast.
"Wait? That's not Tinker Bell," said Peter Pan. He nestled himself into a distant ceiling corner of the bedroom.
"Who are you? What do you want from me?!" asked Belle, fiercely.
"I...uh...look! I'm not leaving without my friend. If you won't tell me where she is, then I'll have to look in every part of this castle. And you can't stop me." Peter Pan flew over to the window and tried to lift its heavy wooden latch. His thin arms could not do the job. There was no time to keep trying with the Beast rushing from behind. Peter Pan leaped backwards and flipped in midair. He swooped out of the bedroom where the Beast rampaged after him. He growled in his pursuit. Belle poked her head outside, both confused and worried. The wardrobe advised for her to stay in her bedroom to be safe. But as far as she knew, that boy did not resemble anything like the monsters that came after her two days ago. Who was he?
Peter Pan came to a midair stop, back at the foyer. He looked to the large doors of the dividing level. He twisted the knob and entered the mysterious room. It was a dark and spacious place, casting ghostly echoes that haunted his ears. Behind the closed doors, the Beast lurked nearby, growling impatiently. Peter Pan flew further away, hoping the Beast would venture someplace else. He waited and listened to the sounds of his search trail off, possibly to the West Wing.
At the other side of the large room, lattice doors shined starlight, luring Peter Pan over the glossy tiles on the floor.
He opened the doors and discovered a marble balcony, overseeing a pitch black forest.
The soothing night air gave Peter Pan such comfort. His gaze rose to the stars, reminding him of his island home, Neverland. He had traveled far to rescue Tinker Bell after discovering a letter that was left behind in her tiny room. It gave no name but challenged Peter Pan to come to a faraway castle according to a roughly drawn map. With his experience with reading treasure maps, Peter Pan had little trouble with finding the right place.
The lights flashed brightly behind him. Peter Pan swung around and panicked. He was in deep awe as he realized where he had been the whole time.
It was a lavish, golden ballroom. The heavenly lights glimmered from a high chandelier. Returning inside for a closer look, Peter Pan had no idea that there was a ceiling mural of baby angels, frolicking in the clouds.
The foyer doors flew open. All Peter Pan needed to hear was restless breathing. The Beast had found him.
FWSH! The balcony doors closed and locked themselves. They blocked Peter Pan from any kind of escape. He slammed his fists on the glass panels, too thick to be broken.
"Did you think you could hide from me?" The Beast grunted through his hideous snout. "This is MY castle! Whatever moves here serves me! I-" The Beast stopped. He immediately regretted his choice of words. While it was true that he commanded the servants and other parts of the enchanted castle that did not speak, there was one person who followed her own heart without fear. Belle. She had brought hope and compassion into his life and inspired him to become a better person. A better man, one that could give Belle a reason to truly love him and break his beastly curse.
"If you would just let Tinker Bell go, I'll go too," bargained Peter Pan. He could not underestimate this humongous foe who was unlike his usual nemesis, Captain Hook.
"I told you! I know nothing of this Tinker person."
"Tinker BELL! She's a fairy that can give anyone with faith and trust the power to fly," revealed Peter Pan. He quivered when the Beast stomped his canine-like foot on the tiles of ballroom floor.
"Unless this TINKER Bell also tried to sneak inside my castle...uninvited, then she is not here!" reasoned the Beast whose patience wore thin.
"Then someone did and brought me here!" Peter Pan reached inside his green tunic and threw a crumpled letter over to the Beast. He caught it and carefully opened it with his large nails. Peter Pan kept his distance and flew above the chandelier, where his back bumped into the mural.
The Beast squinted and tried to read the scribbled writing. He grumbled to himself before giving up, tossing the letter aside.
"Hey!" shouted Peter Pan.
"I didn't write for anyone to come here. And I don't care about you or your Tinker Bell. What I do care about...is you getting OUT!!!" bellowed the Beast. His booming voice rattled the chandelier crystals. Peter Pan could feel his heart thumping hard against his chest.
"How...how do I know you're not trying to trick me? Is Tink locked up in your dungeon?" accused Peter Pan.
"Perhaps you're the one who's trying to trick me!" countered the Beast. "Did you make up this story just so you could come in here and try to take Belle's heart?"
"What? No! I'm not after anybody's heart. And I'm not in the mood for anyone's games."
"Good," said the Beast softly. "Because playtime is OVERRRRR!" He stormed into the ballroom and folded his legs.
FWSH! The Beast jumped much higher than before but still, Peter Pan was safe.
Or so he thought.
KRKK! KRKK! KRKK!
The Beast dug his claws into the walls and climbed upward. He left a trail of punctured holes below him. Peter Pan moved away but in doing so, he descended to the ballroom. The Beast lunged in a midair twist. He missed in his landing but immediately pounced back up and slammed Peter Pan into the wall. The flying boy was back in the Beast's clutches. His arms and wrists could not move, unable to use the same dagger trick to escape.
The castle walls rumbled, stirring the chandelier bulbs and beads. Both the Beast and Peter Pan felt the same fear. Something wicked was coming. The same rumble returned.
The lights flickered and dimmed. A wave of darkness shrouded the glimmering stars outside and crept through the lattice doors. Unlocked, the doors opened wide and delivered a chilly gust of wind.
Peter Pan shivered and rubbed his bare arms against the Beast's furry hands for warmth. The Beast snarled, threatened by his fidgety movement.
Bom-bom! Bom-bom! Bom-bom!
A squeaky, distorted melody filled the ballroom.
"What are you trying to do? Huh?" asked Peter Pan, confused.
"I'm not doing this!" snapped the Beast.
Four floating lights in different colors appeared in the center of the ballroom.
Red. Blue. Green. Yellow.
Like four little fairies, they danced in midair. Underneath, a boulder-sized clump of darkness arose. It sucked in the icy wind and formed a smooth sphere.
The sphere of darkness released two fat arms and two tiny shoes on the bottom. A puny head with two bright yellow eyes popped out and stared blankly at the Beast and Peter Pan.
The four lights began to take their own form. Tall pointed hats squished their faces, glaring with two beady eyes. Colored cloaks that matched their glow wrapped around the bottom half of their bodies. The Beast recognized their heart-shaped symbols, fashioned as a clasp. It was the same symbol that marked the terrible monsters that tried to attack Belle. He remembered how Belle was determined to learn more about them. In his marvelous library, she had found a tome with old illustrations of the monsters, most of which had the same symbol. He and Belle learned that these mindless monsters pursued the purest of hearts. There was so much overwhelming detail about their forms and behaviors. It was too much for the Beast to bare. However, he did recall the collective name of these creatures.
"Heartless," growled the Beast.
"Heartless?" repeated Peter Pan. "Here?" He and the Beast faced their five foes. Out of the four fairy-like creatures, the green moved back while the red, the blue, and the blue formed a triangle
AAASHSHSH! FWOOOSH! BZZZING!
Three blasts of elemental energy were launched.
One of fire.
One of ice.
One of electricity.
The Beast let go of Peter Pan. They both evaded the attacks which burned, froze, and electrocuted the foyer doors into pieces.
Peter Pan floated just overhead while the Beast assumed a cautious yet vicious stance.
"So just to make sure I got this right...these Heartless aren't working for you?" asked Peter Pan.
"Of course not!" refuted the Beast. The fat Heartless scratched its head, looking totally oblivious. Fuming with rage, the Beast tackled and slashed it with his claws. He had hoped to defeat it without any difficulty.
Much to his dismay, there was no sign of damage. Not a single scratch was visible on the Heartless.
"ERRRGH!" The Beast was knocked away by its thick belly. He fell beside Peter Pan and snarled in shame.
"Let's work together and take out these creeps. Try again with big guy and I'll go after the flying thingies," suggested Peter Pan.
The Beast gave no verbal response. Instead he snorted, followed by a reluctant nod.
"Alright! Thanks, pal!" Peter Pan soared back to the chandelier and distracted the three fairy-like Heartless.
"I'm NOT your pal!" barked the Beast. As faced his single opponent, the fat Heartless, the Beast had to accept the new reality. Perhaps Peter Pan was not his enemy. So long as he kept his mouth shut, the Beast believed he could restrain his urge to tear him apart. What was once his pesky intruder had become his unexpected partner.