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    “Be quiet, I hear the Carriage” said William to Anthony, the second half of his thieving duo as they ducked down behind trees on opposite sides of the trail they had been surveilling. The plan was to ambush the coachman and relieve the horse drawn carriage of all its valuable properties. An act they had done together many times before.
    Right on que, Anthony makes his move and surprises the coachman with a harsh blow to his head barely making a sound, knocking him out immediately.
    He then pulls back on the reigns and slows the horses to a stop. In their coach robberies before it has always been a male occupant in the carriage who taken out just as easily as the coachman was, but not this time, not this carriage. Alarmed by the sudden silence of horses, a young, pretty yet naïve duchess opens the carriage door eager to satisfy her curiosity. William is waiting on this very action to subdue the passenger. He reaches out to grab the arm realizing that it is a young girl he hesitates long enough for her head to peak outside and see him. They are both equally startled, but nonetheless Williams treasure hungry instincts take over and just as he would have done a man, she is grabbed by her arm and thrown down on the ground. “Please don’t hurt me!”, cried the duchess, “Take anything you want!” she exclaimed. “Don’t worry little lassie, we will be doing just that”, replied William with a snicker under his voice. “Don’t you move one bit”, said Anthony to the Duchess as William makes his way into the carriage. “Well what will the rich be donating to us poor folk today”, Anthony asked as his eyes lost their attention to the loot and started focusing on the helpless young maid in his presence. “We will be eating good tonight!” shouted William. He steps out of the carriage and reaches back in to drag two large chests down on the ground, both full of gold shillings. “Now what in the world is a helpless little girl traveling with such means?” Asks Anthony to the Duchess. “I am to be married and that is an offer from my father to the King”. She replied. “I assure you; they will be looking for us both very soon” said the duchess, in a more confident voice. “I bet they will” laughed William. “They will have their work cut out for them” exclaimed Anthony as the men hovered over the duchess.
    It might be written different in the history books, but the world can be much more brutal than what is depicted in script. The poor duchess who had been sheltered and pampered all 19 years of her life, had no idea how painful it was going to be to have her innocence ripped from her. A nice treat for the hard days work put in by the lowest members of society.
    Darkness was quickly destroying daylight as the worried King dispatched a search party for his daughter to be. William and Anthony had already hidden the carriage and made off with their bounty leaving only one piece of evidence behind, the duchess. After the abusive violation, the two thieves’ drug her by her feet well off the carriage trail and left her to die. She lies face down underneath the aged oak trees of the forest, her head bleeding, eyes barely able to see. Her bruised ribs along with shame and humiliation, kept her voice at a whisper. In the distance she could hear the faint sounds of the search party but the half of her that assumed she pass away right now was quickly taking over the other half that wanted to be rescued. As she came in and out of consciousness, she could barely tell the difference between dream and reality.
    Her ears were all that could bare witness to sounds of the search party getting fainter, the party was headed in the wrong direction for whatever reason perhaps on the trial of the two thieves she thought to herself. Then a louder sound pierced through the creepy silence of a sleeping forest. And then another. Unlike the rambling of the search party in the distance, this sound was getting closer. “Am I dreaming, do my ears deceive me”, she asked? Barely able to move at all, she put all of energy into rolling over on her back. As she gazed upon the large oak trees being eaten with darkness, she felt a sharp pain in her leg. She looked down her beaten body and at her feet stood a large silhouette. She couldn’t make out who it was, she could only assume it was someone from the rescue party but as the relief of being rescued filled her traumatized soul it was quickly dissolved as the large shadow figure grabbed her left leg just above the ankle and begin dragging her through the dense forest. To much for her to bear she fell back into deep slumber hoping to be awoken by those that had her best interest at heart.
    Word had gotten back to the duchess’ father and he feared the worst for his beloved daughter. Her father was a very powerful nobleman and he posted a large reward for the safe return of his only daughter. In the back of his mind, he replayed all the rumors and superstitions of the evil that had been said to exist in the forest over and over. “God watch over my beautiful child, let no harm come to her”. This was the first of a hundred prayers uttered by the saddened Nobleman.
    Three days had passed before the duchess was able to open her eyes and make sense of her surroundings. “This must be some kind of cave”, she said to herself. It was cold and damp with very little light that was brighter in one direction and the only sound was that of water dripping onto stone. It had a very musty smell that was stronger at times but what the duchess feared the most was the unknown. What brought me here? Why is this where I have come? Suddenly, a sound of something very large entered the cave and blocked what little light shown through. At least one of her questions has been answered. She was overwhelmed with fear, so much so that she froze solid upon what she gazed. It was beastly creature taller than any man she knew and as the beast moved toward her, the faint rays of sunlight cast a glow on the beasts face and duchess let out a blood hurdling scream which was followed by a mighty roar from the beast that quickly cancelled the duchess’ noisy reaction. Still extremely soar the duchess could not move, not that she had anywhere to go, the creature took up most of the cave entrance. The beast moved forward a step or two and took something off its shoulder and threw it down toward the duchess, it took a second for her eyes to focus on it. “Is that a …. “and before she could say deer, she lost the contents of her stomach. This angered the beast, for the deer was a sort of peace offering in which it expected her to prepare for both of them. After her reaction, he grabbed the deer and began ripping off its blood-soaked coat. She watched in horror as the beast dismembered the small animal and stacked the parts on a rock slab next to a fire pit. The beast disappeared around the corner only to return quickly with a torch to light the fire. The duchess calmed herself if only for a moment as she put together the purpose of the beast’s actions. It wanted to feed her which meant it wanted her alive. The duchess was torn as fear and relief waged war against each other inside of her traumatized mind.
    The beast started a fire and as the flames rose, she could make out more features of this ungodly creature. Its skin was dark grey and aged into a look of rough leather. It had large pointy ears and solid black hair. And the beast’s eyes were the color of a full moon when its just above the horizon at dusk, a dark yellow glow came from them that could burn a hole right through your soul. Not wanting to provoke the giant creature, the duchess sat in silence observing its actions and beginning to become hungry as the deer meat cooked over the open fire.

    The beast threw a large portion of the deer towards the duchess and she began to eat the first meal she had in days, she noticed water puddling in a low point of the stone cave floor and she gently moved towards it to relieve her thirst. To her surprise, her movement did not alarm the beast as he devoured his large portion of the deer. For just a moment the duchess felt safe, but it would be short lived.
    Satisfied from the meal they shared, the beast and the duchess shared a peaceful moment of calmness. Then the beast’s ears stood up so it could focus in on a sound that startled the creature. It jumped up and moved cautiously around the corner out of the duchess’ view. Then the duchess heard something too, “That sounded like horses”, she said to herself. “They have found me, the search party has found me”, she exclaimed, trying to hold in the excitement. She knew to stay put but the anticipation was eating away at her and just when she got up the nerve to move toward the corner where she could see what was stirring outside, the beast let out a loud roar and rushed in and grabbed the young girl. It let another roar as it headed out of the cave, his large claw like hand grasping the back of her dress. As they exited the cave, she saw that a half a dozen men on horseback surrounded the cave entrance and the sight of the beast startled the horses so much so that they bucked up on their hind legs. “Drop the girl, you hideous creature”, demanded one of the men as they all drew their swords. The beast looked around at the men who were half as tall as it was and barely a third of its weight and he began to laugh this sinister laugh that sent fear running down the men’s spines, not to mention the duchess who was dangling from its claw, 3 feet off the ground. The beast lifted her up and towards the men, its jester somewhat mocking the men. The duchess took it to mean, “Is this what you want, you puny creatures. The men were becoming restless, waiting on the order from their superior to charge the beast when it lowered its head and looked towards the duchess, their eyes gazing into one another for what seemed like hours. The duchess said to the men, “DON’T FEAR FOR ME” she uttered in that frail voice, “FEAR FOR YOURSELVES”, Then a devious evil smile erupted on the beasts face as it looked up at the men and in one motion the beast grabbed the back of the duchess’s neck with its other claw like hand bearing long sharp finger nails and there in front of the entire search party, the beast ripped out the young girls spine and hurled it towards the men. Her lifeless body fell onto forest floor and was soon joined by all but two members of the search party whose cowardly retreat at the first glance of the duchess’ lifeless body, saved their lives. They spread the word of the duchess’ fate as well as the fate of the other members of the search party.
    Once the King heard of this, he organized his infantry and sent them into the forest. Over one thousand men searched for just over a week and never found a single trace of the cave, the duchess, the members of the search party or their horses. The two members of the search party who had escaped the wrath of the beast were charged with desertion and hung. Before the floor let out from under them, one of the men cried “DON’T FEAR FOR ME, AS I FEAR FOR YOU”!






    Todd Kobell
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