The day was bright with the sun hanging boldly in a cloudless sky. No wind corrupted the air, keeping its warmth pleasantly sitting in the village below. Yet none of the townsfolk gave any notice to the perfect weather. They were all too busy running about preparing for the tradition that had held them in terror for many years. Above the town was beautiful and magnificent castle. The legends about where it had come from and who still might dwell in it were numerous, but only one fact was known. Inside the lavish halls was a horrific monster who threatened to come down and destroy the village if the people did not offer up a maiden to him every spring. As always most of the town was preparing the celebration that rejoiced that the beast would not harm the rest of them, while town officials crowded around the home of the chosen maiden. She stood numbly in front of a mirror as women surrounded her. Some braided her hair, while others stitched her gown together. Distantly she could hear her father crying in the background. Everyone else would be enjoying the festivities tonight, except her family, except her. She slowly swallowed a lump in her throat as one of the women told her that she looked beautiful. Belle looked up her reflection and sighed softly. Her brunette hair was delicately twirled on the top of her head in an intricate bun. Her cheeks and lips were pink from some ground rose petals one of the women put on her. The gown could barely be called such. It was much more a slip of golden fabric. She really was an offering. The rest of the day followed in similar fashion until Belle found herself in a cart. Her father had given her a quick hug before she had been yanked away. Now he seemed so far away and distant. She would never see him or anyone from the village ever again. She would die tonight. Reaching the castle gates, Belle was helped off the cart and walked just inside the gates. Once there the men with her fastened rope around her arms and legs to keep her from running. “Good luck” one mumbled before she was left alone in the dark court yard.