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Chapter Four

The Assassin stared at the cup. The triangular chip in the rim gaped back at him.

“She cared,” it whispered to him. “She cared enough to be curious.”

Curious about the man? Or the beast’s weaknesses? the Assassin asked it. If I were the beast I’d hide my weaknesses in a locked up room.

“Then it’s a good thing Beauty didn’t choose the wrong locked up room,” growled the beast.

Otherwise there would be no Beauty, agreed the Assassin.

“Only blood,” the beast murmured, fangs digging into the Assassin’s mind with each word.

The Assassin set the cup back down on the shelf, slowly exchanging it for the ring of keys. He stepped out of the room and shut the door.

But when he passed Adalina in a corridor moments later, the chipped cup was nestled in his gloved hand.

“You don’t have to go through my things to keep from being bored, you know,” said the Assassin.

“Kindness?” sneered the beast. “Throw her back into the cell for her insolence. You don’t have to bribe her away from your secrets.”

“But she cared,” whispered the tea cup.

“What else is there for me to do?” she asked with a laugh that had a tinge of incredulity. Laughter. Laughter was so different to him now. So strange. So... beautiful.

“How can she be happy here?” demanded the beast. “She knows something.”

“Yes,” answered the cup. “She knows there is a beast under that hood.”

“You said you were once very fond of reading,” said the Assassin.

“Those were my words exactly,” she said, looking up at him with some suspicion.

“I have a very good memory,” I responded.

“No,” said the beast with a grin. “I do.”

“And I also recall,” said the Assassin, ignoring the voice. “That this key will open the door next to the tapestry depicting the tale of Rapunzel.” The Assassin slid a skeleton key off of the ring.

“And what will that door lead to?” asked Adalina.

“Beauty, Beauty, Beauty,” said the Assassin, shaking his head. “What of our hope for your brains? We were, if I recall, which I do, discussing books.”

“You have a library.”

A smirk grew beneath the hood.

“You’re... letting me into the library?”

The Assassin set the key on the table. “Only if you trust me to do so,” he said mockingly. But for all his quips and teasing, the Assassin was screaming.

“TRUST ME,” cried the cup.

“KILL HER,” yelled the beast.

“Save me...” wept the man.

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