“Now, just try to be brave when you see him,” Sadie said. “You'll get off to a better start than if you run screaming.”
“I'll keep that in mind,” Ceinwen said. She still had a hard time walking so she moved slowly across the room. The door opened at her approach. She walked through it and set off down the corridor. The stairs were a bit more of a challenge for her and she had to stop and rest for a moment at the bottom so her legs didn't give out under her.
A door to her right opened. It was, from what little she could see where she was standing, an elegantly appointed dining hall. Once she was sure she could make the walk without falling over, she moved slowly into the room. A chair was pulled out for her and she gratefully sat down. A moment later, she heard something like the brief susurration of sound and a large shadow seated itself at the end of the table. “Welcome, Ceinwen. I trust your journey was not too unpleasant.”
There was a hint of a hiss in that voice, and Ceinwen wondered what form this beast was forced into. “I have not been on many journeys, but this one was comfortable enough until the horse.”
“You do not like horses?” he asked.
“I can't ride,” Ceinwen said. “I've never been on a horse until today.”
“Why did he not bring you on foot. The climb is only a short one.”
“Something about not wanting to be anywhere near the village after sunset,” Ceinwen said.
“Ah yes. The curse on my village,” he said. “I do hope you find the food here to your liking. My cook is very good at what he does, even if he lacks imagination.”
Ceinwen looked down and her plate was full of food. While they were exchanging pleasantries the servants had served her. “My lord, I am used to a plate of the most simple foods, with only a rare sampling of the finer things my brothers and sisters ate regularly. This looks to me to be wonderful.”
“You need not address me as 'my lord', Ceinwen. Only my servants address me as such. To you I am simply Beast. It suits me better than my old name these days,” the Beast said.
“It seems rude to call you that,” Ceinwen said.
The Beast snorted. “My lady, I am a monster. I have no illusions about that.”
“If I am to call you Beast, please do not call me 'my lady',” Ceinwen said. “I am Ceinwen, and nothing else.”