Read The Beast Online

Authors: Lindsay Mead

Tags: #Fantasy, #Young Adult, #Romance, #Science Fiction

The Beast

BOOK: The Beast
3.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Table of Contents

Map of God’s Cup

Hunter’s Creed

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Epilogue

Author Notes

Acknowledgments

About the Author

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents, are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2015, Lindsay Mead

 

All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing, of any part of this book without the permission of the author is unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

 

Young Adult Fantasy Romance

Demon possession has swept through Glace’s neighboring kingdom, turning humans into hellhounds. These great, fanged wolves are wild, desperate, and hungry. Only the sworn Hunters have kept them back for five long, bloody years.

At the young age of fifteen, Belle LeClair became a Hunter. She no longer remembers how many hounds she’s killed, or how many friends she’s buried. Still, Belle leads the hunt till a tragedy forces her deep into the dark kingdom. Her heart will be turned, her loyalty tested— and fate will intervene.

Amid a backdrop of Steampunk inventions and a harsh winter landscape,
The Beast
is a re-imagining of the infamous love between a beauty and a beast.

 

Cover and Interior Artwork by Mooney Designs

Interior Design by
QA Productions

 

 

I dedicate this series to Trisha Wolfe.

I knew how to write (for the most part), but you taught me how to tell a story. You were the cheerleader in my corner and my toughest coach.

Thank you.

 

To everyone else—
go read her books.

 
 

The Hunter’s Creed

Oh Holy Angel, attendant of our wretched souls and afflicted life, forsake us not.

Give no place to the evil demon to subdue us with the oppression of these mortal bodies; but take us by our outstretched hands, and guide our weapons to smite the minions of hell who now walk the earth.

As warring angels of God, we give blood for the blood of the demon possessed, should He so choose it.

Pardon us for the evil we must do in thy name,

For we deliver to thee the souls of all the lost departed from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit.

In nomine Patris, et Filii,

et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.

 

It was a good night for a hunt. Delicate snowflakes flurried to the ground, adding to the already thick, white blanket that coated the forest floor of Vakre Fjell. Its hush was the only sound to disrupt the hum of burning gas lamps lining the dangerous paths.

Belle’s trusty Friesian horse, Charming, huffed and pawed impatiently. His steamy breath swirled up before being absorbed by the cold. Belle’s gaze waded through the darkness that lay beyond the trees. She listened, waiting for the devils to be drawn to her warm flesh.

Then she heard it; the thudding of swift moving, heavy paws. She tapped the reins against Charming’s neck. He spun on his heel as Belle drew one of her revolvers.

A hellhound raced toward her.

He was big, feral, and his lips curled back in anticipation. He came within range, a snarl ripping from his chest.

She exhaled, then squeezed the trigger. A silver bullet burst forth in a smoky explosion, destroying the forest’s peaceful silence. The hound plunged into the snow and skidded several feet. Blood trickled from its head wound; a stark contrast against the white snow. The twitching body claimed half the path. Belle pressed her boot into Charming’s side, cuing him toward it.

They walked casually, unafraid, up to the hellhound. It didn’t breathe, its eyes didn’t follow her. Snowflakes started to gather on the tips of its thick, brown fur. There was no doubt the devil was dead. She’d given it a far quicker death than it would have given her.

Satisfied, Belle urged Charming away from the carnage. The familiar ringing, like an angel’s voice, sang into the air. Lights jetted out before her, dancing over the trees and glittering snow. Without looking back, Belle knew that as the illumination faded, the hellhound’s corpse would be gone, replaced with a clothed, human body.

The belief was that, five years ago, the Devil took hold of Vakre Fjell for its sinful ways. He’d claimed the Vakrein people as his own and turned them into hellhounds. The proof of this was found when they transitioned in death—with rays of gold light—from hound to human. Death freed them.

That’s why the Hunters existed. To protect the village of Contefées and exterminate the demon spawn, the Catholic Church had formed a small army of defenders. Led by Belle’s father, Henri LeClair, the group of civilian men became protectors, and “Hunter” became their title.

Two soft pops drew Belle’s gaze from the forest. Over the trees, a scarlet flare soared brightly through the night sky. Tiny red sparks trickled in its wake like an ever-growing tail.

“A pack,” Belle whispered. Faint, distant shouts and gunshots followed. “Yah!” Charming sprang like a living bullet. He covered the ground at a gallop, his hooves thundering. She leaned into him, giving him enough rein to run unhindered.

They had to hurry. Hellhounds were hungry, ravenous demons. A single Hunter could handle a few on his own, but when they gathered in groups, they took on a terrifying pack mentality. Though it was rare, it could mean certain death if a Hunter was alone.

A second flare went up. Belle and Charming ran parallel with the ambush. She wanted to cut through the woods and get there quicker, but she couldn’t leave the trail. The forest of Vakre Fjell was vast and easily disorienting. Many Hunters died while creating the lit paths, and the first thing every new recruit learned was to never leave them.

Charming sped down the trail, eating up ground and scattering snow with each step. His long, black mane lashed her cheeks like tiny, stinging whips. The battling Hunters and hellhounds weren’t far off now.

A hellhound jumped from the woods at Charming’s head. The horse jolted to the side, evading its deadly paws. The devil crashed ungracefully into a snowbank. She raised her gun to aim, but an unseen set of claws sank into her shoulder.

There was no chance to cry out from pain as she was wrenched from the saddle, then slammed to the ground. The collision shook through her body, briefly dazing her. Belle forced her eyes open just in time to see sharp teeth descending. She jerked away and fired on instinct. The bullet shot clean through the hellhound’s skull. It fell limp to the ground, almost on top of her.

Two bullets down. Four left
, Belle noted as she pushed herself up from the blood-tinged snow.

Charming was rearing up and slamming his hooves down at the first hellhound. There was no fear in the horse, only the pure animal need to survive. The creature growled and snapped at him while trying to avoid those large hooves. Belle took aim, and when her Friesian reared again, creating an opening, she shot. The hound’s head whipped back with a snap and it tumbled over itself.

Belle couldn’t help but smile.
Three head shots in a row—not bad. Three bullets left.

Trotting over to her, Charming nickered from deep within his chest.

“Well done, boy,” Belle said, as she hoisted herself into the saddle.

Pain seared hot in her right shoulder. Warm blood seeped down her back. She ignored it; no time to tend the injury now.

The stallion rushed around the last curve. Cold air swept Belle’s fur cloak up off her back as they approached the battle. Her Hunters were all alive and fighting. Two were still mounted, but three fought from the ground with their well-trained Friesians helping to defend them. The quiet night was filled with noise; howling, growling, barking, and Hunters shouting to one another between gunshots.

BOOK: The Beast
3.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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