VIII: Retribution

Content warning: violence, mention of murder and abuse, ableism

The Governor tilted his head in confusion. “You said your mother was a doctor.”

“She is. But my birth mother was murdered by you.”

“You survived?” He said, his brows rising beneath the untidy salt-and-pepper of his curls.

“A woman this town called a Witch found me and raised me as her own, feeding me scraps of scavenged meat and bread bought with the little money she made providing medical care to those who needed it more than they feared her.”

“Hattie?” he said, “She died.”

“No. You sent men to kill her. They hacked off her arm in front of me and then I killed them and took her far away.”

“Impossible,” he said, shaking his head and sneering at her, “She’d have bled to death.”

“She was well-trained. And a good teacher.”

“You would have still been a child… you couldn’t.” He stood now, his eyes narrowing as he inspected her.

“Are you waiting for something, Monsieur?” Genevieve asked, taking another bite of the food.

He said nothing, but continued watching her eat in confusion and anger. His hand trembled and his foot began to tap against the floor.

Genevieve lifted the fork, a piece of darkly seared meat speared on its tines. She inspected it as she spoke, “You know, we almost starved many times. Maman fed me whatever she could find… only eating scraps of bread and roots herself. I needed the nutrients, she told me later. I was growing, after all. Children need nourishment, and meat was hardest of all to come by. Sometimes she caught squirrels. Or stole scraps from the market. She even killed our beloved pet. But one day… one lucky day she came across an entire carcass in the woods behind our shack. Your woods. It was thrown over a massive fire. No one was around. So she pulled what she could from the flames and cut some of the flesh with her herb knife, filling her skirts with wild, greasy meat.”

“You…” the Governor began, but his mouth didn’t seem to want to move the way he commanded.

“I didn’t change right away, like many do. I think I was too starved, too weak. But there were… signs… that something was happening inside of me. I grew stronger. Much stronger. And hungrier. And my body… once injured… was healed.”

“You found the Hunter in the woods that day, didn’t you?” she asked, and the tense silence was answer enough, “You took him away, for trespassing or some petty thing at first, and left his kill unattended. Then, once you realized who he was and he told you his secrets, you had your men cook the body. The precious meat.”

She popped the morsel into her mouth and watched him as she chewed. This would be the moment of truth for them both.

“You hoped I’d be injured and stupid enough to take your offer of a dinner today so you could turn me, manipulate me through my disorientation and fear,” she told him, feeling the phantom ache of her legs but none of the trembling or restlessness that once followed it, “I would be useful: a subordinate in the College. But I’m afraid you’re much too late for that. It seems I partook of the same meal you did more than twenty years ago. In fact, it was likely I was turned even before you were.”

Her provocation was working; Governor L’Amie seethed with injured pride and a frightened hatred for this weak creature – his own bastard – besting his stratagem. If the Beast within her were older, then it was possible that he might be the subordinate. If he survived.

Genevieve watched him closely, frowning at the way his foot tapped faster and faster, and the way he shifted his neck as if it ailed him. She took another bite of food to distract his attention from her left hand, already gripping a revolver. She hoped she could still fire it with her injuries.

“So then…” he mumbled, staring down to his feet, “This has all been a game.”

In one breathless moment, Genevieve found herself flying across the room, her chair crashing in a useless heap while she continued on to collide with the far wall. Governor L’Amie stood where she had recently been seated, fully transformed with the tips of his dark, twisted horns touching the ceiling. Unlike other Beasts Genevieve had seen, he had three sets of horns – the largest curling like a rams, while another set sprouted like jagged teeth just behind them. The final pair sat furthest forward on his head – two velvety nubs not unlike those of a juvenile deer.

She had been correct when she had said his age made him unpredictable; his speed, his size, his entire appearance were unlike anything Genevieve had ever seen aside from in the oldest texts in the College’s archives.

“STAND UP!” he roared at her, “No more of these petty games!”

Genevieve fished her hand into her silk pockets and retrieved a revolver– she didn’t even spare a thought to which she held – and fired off all six shots as fast as she could manage. He didn’t move, hardly reacted to the impact, and when her seventh shot was nothing more than an empty click, he laughed so hard that Genevieve cringed, her skull bursting with pain.

The bullets emerged from his chest and fell to the threadbare rug in six muted thuds. She couldn’t see the wounds knitting themselves shut from where she lay, but Genevieve could tell he was already healing from the lack of blood matting his silver-grey fur.

Not sparing a thought to this or how her legs lay at impossible angles before her, she discarded the first gun and shuffled for her second – the smaller one, she noticed this time – and emptied both remaining rounds into him.

When the capsules fell to the floor they were shattered into pieces, their contents deposited but seemingly ineffective against such an aged Beast. And here she had worried about giving him an overdose and accidentally killing him. Not that real bullets had fared any better.

She saw his leg twitch and then she felt herself hurtling through the air once more, landing with a bone-shattering crash onto the solid wood table. Her shoulder exploded with pain and she screamed out.

I’m going to die here, she realized. Maman will be so sad… after I promised. After I refused to take more Hunters. And I was going to retire like she wanted…

She clenched her eyes shut against the tears, but forced them open once more to stare her death in the face. The monster who would kill her. The creature who murdered her birth mother without even knowing her name.

He approached her from across the room, stepping onto the table. He stumbled, a little, his leg not quite reaching as high as he’d expected. He growled and continued his approach, hunched under the ceiling.

“Why won’t you fight me?” he snarled, “No Beast has so much control. Not even your pet experiment.”

His voice had lost its unearthly timbre, and one of his eyes had gone dark – refusing to reflect the flickering light of the single candle that had not been extinguished during his attack. Genevieve needed to buy more time.

“I’ve been cured,” she told him, hoping his curiosity would prevent him from simply biting her head off.

“Cured?” he asked, tilting his head to the side. Genevieve wondered that he couldn’t feel the way his smaller horns wiggled like loose teeth, threatening to fall out with the slightest tug.

“It was a College doctor that saved my mother’s life, and when they threatened to kill me for what I was, she exchanged her medical knowledge for my protection. Their researchers were developing a serum that, once consumed or injected, would reverse the disease and prevent any future contamination.”

“Disease,” he snarled, leaning his toothy face down so that his breath burned in her nostrils, “It is a gift.”

That’s what makes you a monster, she thought, but didn’t dare say aloud. What she did say was: “We had many volunteers to test the efficacy of the serum. Myself included.”

He lifted his head and laughed, some of his fur shedding from his body in the process. “You!? Why? Why choose this useless, broken body over near-immortality?”

“Your lackeys were hardly immortal,” she pointed out.

“Because they were young. And stupid,” he growled, “If they’d been stronger and smarter they could have lived forever.”

“Like your son?” she asked, regretting the question the moment it escaped her lips. His face was over hers again and his mouth open so large she thought for sure it was the end.

Instead of biting her head off he shouted:

“If he’d only been loyal…”

“Then he would have been weak like the rest,” Genevieve pressed, trying to distract him from the way his horns toppled to the table.

His eyes – tiny dull grey orbs in his massive head – stared down at her intently. “And you? You have a cure, and yet you still slaughter Beasts. What right have you to criticize me?”

“By the time we’re done I will have freed at least five innocents of your crimes. From what I’ve heard, there are more, though they’ve flown and it will take us time to find them. Those we killed were Beasts long before you ever offered them meat from the bodies of those that disappointed and frightened you.”

“So a bastard like you is the arbiter of justice for the College? The great divider of Beast and man?” he laughed and swatted her to the floor like a cat might play with the corpse of a mouse.

It stung. Not only the landing, but her own doubts. She made her judgements based on the words of the outcasts, the men and women abandoned and abused, beaten and raped for not being more like their betters – the same people driving them into the dirt. The Maman Tees of the world. But surely she’d made mistakes. Only Beasts never doubted their actions.

He smiled to see the conflict and pain in her face, but then grimaced at a great crack that exploded from nearby. He looked around for its source but then howled in pain as his bones continued to snap and break, collapsing down to their usual size. “What have you done!?” he screamed at her, trying to drag his uncooperative body toward her.

His hand, still partially claw and fur, almost reached her face before she felt herself being dragged backwards, strong hands gripping her waist. Genevieve tilted her head just enough to recognize Darnell’s concerned face behind her.

“You missed the party,” she scolded him.

“I’m sorry. There were far more captives down there than I anticipated. It took some time to get them all safe.”

Genevieve nodded her approval, though to Darnell it may have just appeared that her head was bouncing off her chest as he carried her toward the door and then set her gently on the ground.

Governor L’Amie was still flailing and howling on the other side of the room, his body mostly pink and naked now, the floor littered with teeth and horns.

“I told you it would work,” she told Darnell as he checked over her wounds. “Sit me up.”

“Your ankle is severely twisted and your right leg is broken. Your ribs are bruised, possibly broken, and…”

Sit me up,” she commanded once more, and this time Darnell acquiesced, though not without a deliberate sigh. He leaned her carefully against the wall by the door and very gently removed his hand from her back so that he could see to her injuries

By the time he finished, Governor L’Amie was a diminished heap on the floor and for a moment Genevieve wondered if he might be dead. Finally, he lifted his head and said in a voice that grated from his raw throat, “You cured me. Why? Why not kill me?”

“I don’t think anyone could ever cure a monster like you, Monsieur,” Genevieve told him, noting the footsteps hurrying through the hallway behind her, “But I have taken away your teeth, yes.”

“Why didn’t you kill me?” he repeated, dropping his forehead to rest against the carpet.

“A man who eats a Beast to become a Beast, knowing what will happen and what he will become; a man who kills and lies to maintain an illusion of pride and control; a man who slaughters his own children for power, does not fear death. He only fears the loss of that power,” Genevieve said as several men and women burst into the room, along with the Mayor, “That is the only punishment to fit such a Beast.”

Some of the men in the room said something about arrest, while others screamed and cried and fell upon the Governor with wailing fists. Others pulled the most violent away while the Mayor led them all out again,  Governor L’Amie dragged behind them by his arms. He gave no resistance, his head lolling toward the floor as he passed through the doorway.


“Retiring?” Darnell asked, pushing her along the bumpy road toward Annette’s shack. She hated relying on him to get around, but her left arm would be out of commission for a number of weeks yet, according to the local surgeon. She was determined to get a second opinion from the College doctors as soon as she was home.

“Yes, I’m afraid. It’s not so young, for a Hunter, and Maman’s health isn’t getting any better. Besides, I’d like to help her with her research. An inoculation would prove much more effective than a bunch of idiots running around with whips and guns.” She winced as they went over a rather large stone protruding from the ground. At least she was in her own chair and not that experimental piece of garbage.

“You’re not an idiot,” Darnell said without a hint of humour.

“I know that, you fool. I just mean that brawn is never a long term solution,” she wished she could comfortably turn around to see his expression, instead she resorted to asking, “What will you do? Find another Hunter?”

“I suppose that would be the most prudent course of action, given my condition.”

“Oh prudent my behind, Darnell — you can do whatever you want. If you want to continue the Hunt then I’m sure I can attach you to someone else, but if there’s something else… well, the College doesn’t expect eternal servitude for a bit of medicine every now and then. You’ve more than served us by participating in the experiment in the first place.”

He was silent for so long that she forced her neck around as far as she could but could only make out his broad chest and his rough hands on the chair behind her.

“Stop that,” he told her, and she was so surprised by his commanding tone that she actually listened. That and her neck ached like hell. “I haven’t thought about it. You only just told me today, after all.”

It was true, perhaps she was being unreasonable, expecting him to have an answer so quickly.

“Fine,” she told him, “But I want you to consult with me first. Sometimes you’re just so stubborn…”

“But you won’t be my direct supervisor any longer, so I’ll have every right to disagree.” he pointed out, and Genevieve had the strangest inclination that he was smiling.

“No, but I sure as hell make better decisions. Look at the plan with the Governor… and you didn’t think it would work.”

There was a breath of chuckle behind her, and Genevieve grinned until they went over another large bump that she wasn’t entirely sure was an accident.

Annette was waiting for them at her door when they arrived.

“I’m here to report that your mission has been completed as requested and that we will be departing tomorrow at sunrise. A contingent of College agents will be here to treat any remaining injuries and see that everything is in order.”

Annette squinted, “Shouldn’t you be telling the Mayor that?”

“We did already,” Genevieve said, “But from what I’ve been told, you made the request?”

Annette smirked, “Then why did you see the Mayor first?”

Genevieve grinned, “Thank you, for all of your help. I’m sure my mother will be pleased to hear you’re well.”

She signalled for Darnell to take her back to the inn – with all her injuries she wasn’t supposed to be in her chair for more than an hour at a time – and the day had been a long one of letter writing and information gathering.

“Wait,” Annette said, making them pause in their departure, “The matter of payment?”

“The Mayor has already provided us with a hefty dividend, despite his reluctance to send for us. You’re off the hook,” Genevieve told her. Annette shook her head, smiling.

“I told you the pay wasn’t money.”

Genevieve frowned, unsure of what other agreement her mother might have come to with this woman.

“Someone like me hears a lot of things… meets a lot of people,” Annette said, taking a step toward her, “It pays to remember everyone.”

“What are you…” Genevieve began, but she interrupted.

“Angelica Giroux.”

Genevieve’s heart stuttered, and she swallowed a lump in her throat that made her eyes water. She nodded her thanks, not trusting herself to speak.

Annette smiled. “Thank you, Hunters.”


Once the inn was in sight, Genevieve told Darnell, hoping he wouldn’t notice the catch in her voice: “Get the carriage ready. We’re leaving tonight.”

“Are you sure?” Darnell asked, and Genevieve rolled her eyes.

“Do you always question everything I say?”

“Only when it’s against the College’s orders, and the doctor’s as well,” he answered.

“I want to go home, Darnell,” she whispered, “The Hunt is over.”

He came around the chair and bent down, their eyes meeting and an unspoken understanding passing between them.

“I’ll get the bags, Mademoiselle,” he told her, his hand resting for a moment on hers before he stood to take his place behind her once more.

***Author’s Note***
Thank you so much for reading The Beast of Ste Ygrette! I hope you enjoyed the story, and don’t forget to leave a like or comment below or share with your friends. I will be catching up on audio over the next few weeks (unfortunately I’ve had some delays due to noisy apartment and children. Working on that.) If you like this story, you can check out my other work by exploring the menu above… or follow me on Instagram for poetry and writing news. Thanks again for reading, and have a happy Halloween!


<— Back to VII: Confessions

Return to The Beast of Ste Ygrette

IV: An Unlikely Client

Content warning: mentions of violence and murder

The old woman’s house was little more than a hut cobbled together from broken boards with a rusty tin chimney peeking out from the roof. A haze of cheap perfume, so thick Genevieve was certain she could almost see it, enveloped the entire premises; she pressed her face into her sleeve, breathing deeply of her own familiar scent, as she reached forward to knock on the door.

There was a clattering of footsteps and a hesitant pause before the door swung open. Standing behind it was a woman of only forty or fifty years, hardly the hag evoked by the Mayor’s tirade. Her hair was greying but still had thick streaks of chestnut throughout, and though her cheek and breast were puckered with burn scars and her forehead was lined with care, her eyes were as clear and bright as a summer’s afternoon.

 “I was told I could find a woman named Annette here?” Genevieve inquired. The woman nodded her head but did not relinquish her silence. “I am Hunter Gregoire, and this is my assistant Hunter Furst. The Mayor sent to the College for us. Might we have a word?”

The woman snorted and choked; it took Genevieve a moment to realize that this was the way that Annette laughed.

“Mayor Valis send for you?” Her voice whined and rasped all at once, like steel against stone, “He would never send for a Hunter.”

“And yet we are here,” Genevieve pointed out.

Another burst of sickening laughter. “Only because I sent for you.”

“You?” Genevieve asked, grasping for the confidence that had suddenly abandoned her, “Surely you couldn’t afford… the College answers to local government… why would you…”

“Because no one else was doing anything,” Annette replied, as if the answer were obvious even to a child. “And I happened to know someone in the College.”

Genevieve closed her eyes and inhaled, doing her best not to choke on the perfume-ladened air.

“Of course,” she said through a forced smile. The Mayor had welcomed them and acknowledged their presence as if he had invited them himself, but once they had arrived what other option was open to him? Any other response would have only drawn their suspicion. It irked Genevieve that she hadn’t realized this on her own.

“As for payment,” Annette continued, leaning against the bent door frame and crossing her arms, “I have something much more valuable than Francs.”

This drew Genevieve out of her self-absorbed reverie, curiosity hard at the reins. It wasn’t that the College was greedy, but they valued the coin to pursue their research and expand their reach. This woman either had very lofty connections, or a very valuable payment. Or both. Genevieve had an inkling as to Annette’s mysterious connection, but what this poor lady had to offer she hadn’t the faintest. “What is the payment?”

“To be delivered on completion of your mission,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Speaking of which,” Genevieve said, wrenching the conversation back into familiar territory, “We could use your insight.”


Genevieve held her face taut, forcing herself not to cringe at the laugh.

“Never had anyone want to use me for that before,” Annette said, “Welcome change. I’d invite you in for tea but I don’t think you’d fit.”

It was true, the girth of Genevieve’s chair was much too wide for the narrow doorway. Rather than dwell on the matter, Annette plumped herself onto the floor and stretched her legs out into the chilly Autumn air.

“What do you need?”

“Names,” Genevieve said, “Suspicions even. We’d rather not miss anyone.”

“And what if I’m wrong? Got enough on my conscience without innocent lives weighing it down too.”

“We’ll know.” It was Darnell who spoke, and Annette’s attention snapped to him as if she were only now aware of his presence. Her gaze slid from his carefully combed hair down to the sharp angles of his jaw, down to his narrow shoulders, down, down, until she reached his well-polished shoes. She raised an eyebrow before continuing to ignore him once more.

“There’s usually a system of power,” Genevieve explained, as she had countless times before to men and women not so different from Annette. Outsiders – overlooked and ostracized – tended to see the workings of society that everyone else had blinded themselves to. She continued, “A hierarchy, with someone calling the shots and choosing who gets to join the ranks of the Beasts. Membership is often seen as a reward, but it can also be used as extortion. Anything you have to tell us about corruption, crime, abuse… it all helps.”

“Yeah,” Annette said, kicking at a loose rock with her shabby boot, “Still humans after all, aren’t they?”

“Some,” Genevieve said, causing Annette to look at her with something akin to contemplation, or even respect.

“Yes. I know them all, or close at least. They don’t worry about me; half the town thinks I’m one of them, or something worse… they can’t kill me or they won’t have anyone to pester anymore and then someone might find out who’s really been killing their children,” she sighed, “Old whore like me, I know everything that happens. That’s why they hate me. Single woman at my age, no children, to them I’m less natural than the Beasts.”

“Well, I suppose we have that in common,” Genevieve smiled, leaning down to meet the woman’s eyes, staring at the cracked end of her boot.

Annette smiled too. “It’s the Governor that’s leading them. Though that should come as no surprise to you.”

“No,” Genevieve answered, her smile fading with the last of the sunlight, “But I had to be sure.”

“Couple followers – I can give you their names. Mostly he just lets them run wild, unless some other young lad or lass catches his fancy, then he kills one to turn them. They’re afraid of him you see. Ever since his wife left and he killed his son for trying to usurp him… he’s gotten reckless. People turn a blind eye in case their children go missing, or worse, end up like Mayor Valis’ daughter.”

Genevieve nodded.

“So, you know about her already?” The older woman seemed mildly impressed.

“Like Darnell said, we have ways.” Genevieve thought back to what the Mayor had said once his daughter had been taken care of, “According to Mayor Valis, Governor L’Amie changed his daughter when he suspected that the town might turn against him. He would let her live, teach her to control her changes, only if the Mayor behaved accordingly.”

“Bastard,” Annette spit, “She’s not the only one either.”

“Names,” Genevieve said, “As many as you can give.”

Annette recited a list, providing any detail she thought might aid them in their endeavour.

Darnell recorded them while Genevieve considered the best way to approach the situation. If Annette’s information was accurate, the Governor’s underlings would be young and easily handled; since his son’s betrayal it was rare for him to trust anyone for too long. It was Governor L’Amie himself she worried about; he had undergone the change over two decades ago. Rumour suggested he had grown reckless, but even with Darnell at her side she feared he would be a considerable opponent.

It would be best to isolate him, if possible. And, as much as it betrayed her own sensibilities, it would be wisest to avoid having to fight him at all. Was that even possible, with a Beast of his age?

“Annette?” Genevieve asked suddenly, “Have you ever seen him?”

“Who? Marcus Dupont?” The woman answered, crinkling her already well-lined forehead in confusion.


“The grocer. L’Amie brought him over some time last month, far as I can tell. Guaranteeing his food supply I suppose, given that no one wants to stay and cook…”

Genevieve realized that the conversation in her head did not align with the names and gossip her companions had been reviewing.

“No, no — Governor L’Amie. Have you ever seen him when he’s a Beast?”

Annette’s lips quivered, her eyes distant, as if reliving some blood-tinged memory. She shook her head. “No. No not him. I’ve seen others, though not up close. The woods are just behind my house and at night sometimes… well sometimes I see the silhouettes in the distance. Glimpses of fur and claws and horns through the trees.”

She wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing them as though just finally recalling the lateness of the season.

“Have to guess at the amount then,” Genevieve muttered.

“You have a plan,” Darnell stated.

Genevieve nodded. “It’s a risk though. If he’s smaller than I’m expecting, it’s possible I could kill him.”

“Isn’t that the point?” Annette asked.

Genevieve smiled at her, then looked to Darnell for his opinion.

“A few extra dead bodies might convince the College to approve that sabbatical you keep talking about,” he mused.

“Maybe I should up the dosage on purpose then,” she said, enjoying the rare smile with which she was rewarded. She hoped Darnell would not take it too hard when she resigned after the mission.

The sun was hardly over the horizon now, its light dancing through the scant foliage of the trees stretching away in the distance behind Annette’s shack. They should prepare, Genevieve thought. It wouldn’t be long before they were attacked, and the last thing she wanted was to drag Annette into the fray.

“Thank you for all of your assistance,” she said to Annette, whose mouth was still twisted in confusion over their brief exchange. “Stay indoors tonight, and don’t open to anyone.”

“As if I would,” the woman scoffed, pushing herself back to her feet. As she leaned over, Genevieve accidentally glimpsed an expanse of skin previously concealed beneath her bodice – a deep purple stain leaking out from the wrinkled scars above it.

“Would it be completely inappropriate of me to inquire about your scars?” She asked so suddenly that even Darnell looked at her in surprise.

To her relief, Annette smiled kindly, though the resignation in her voice weighed heavily on Genevieve’s conscience. “Used to be that the people of Ste Ygrette had a local Witch.”

“A Witch?” Darnell asked with incredulity. Like any good College member, he knew the difference between science and folklore.

“Just an outsider woman. Her father was a doctor and he taught her his trade when the schools wouldn’t have her. She travelled about, teaching other girls like herself and helping women have their babies. Settled here by herself,” Annette squinted at Genevieve, “You know this story.”

Genevieve nodded; she knew it by heart, and countless others like it.

“When she settled here, people were happy at first. Until there came a sickness. People grew ill and then they died, and of course who else was there to blame? Clearly she was a Witch – see the way she lives alone with no want of a husband? See how she spreads lies to the women and tries to corrupt them? See how her skin is of a different shade? Her very existence condemned her.”

“What happened?” Darnell asked, and Genevieve watched the curious twinkle in his eye with a wave of nostalgia.

“They hurt her. Burned her house. Ostracized her. Starved her. She lived out here, in this hut, scarred, hungry, and alone.” Annette stroked the warped doorframe, smiling faintly as if to an old friend. “Eventually people started going missing. Beggars and prostitutes at first. Easy to turn a blind eye to. Then others. Victims torn to shreds — poor and wealthy alike. The people looked to the Mayor at that time for help, and he looked to Governor L’Amie. The Governor sent two men to deal with the obvious source of the bloodshed…”

There was a pause, and Genevieve watched Darnell’s face – the deepening furrow of his brow, the click of his jaw as he bit down in frustration or perhaps despair.

“All anyone found afterward was a shack dripping with blood, the poor woman’s arm, and scraps of flesh and cloth. No one knew what had happened, but they did learn one thing: the killings didn’t stop. There’d be days, weeks, even months where it seemed as though the terror had ceased, but it would always continue again. Word started to come from other towns and villages about the Beasts and the College that Hunted them. But help never came for Sainte Ygrette.”

“They called it a curse,” she continued, “The Witch had cursed them for falsely accusing her, and so the most logical thing was to do it all over again. They found a woman, an old prostitute with no family and an ugly birthmark and said it was her. Here, see the mark of blood upon her chest, they cried, and they burned it from her flesh.”

“And yet the killings continue.” Genevieve shook her head.

Annette smirked, “It seems we are cursed.”

“So’s the whole damned world,” Genevieve said, turning to leave.

“Good luck, Hunter,” Annette called out, her laugh grating against Genevieve’s bones as it chased her over the uneven path back to the main thoroughfare.

<— III: The Inconvenience of Hunger

V: Transformations —>

Return to The Beast of Ste Ygrette

***Author’s Note***

Audio will be up in a day or two. There’s been a few… toddler-sized bumps in the road with regards to my recording schedule. Episodes will release as usual, but audio may occasionally lag a little behind. Thanks for checking out the series, and I hope you’re enjoying it so far! Don’t forget to leave a like or comment to let me know what you think. ❤

II: An Ill-Timed Meeting

“Not many people stay at the inn anymore, given the circumstances,” Mayor Valis told her in the comfort of his first floor parlour room. He was an older man – thin and dark with eyes so bloodshot Genevieve wondered if he ever took the time to blink.

“Well, it will make things easier for me,” she said, smiling politely over a cup of tea. She grimaced at the strength of the brew and added a fifth lump of sugar before hazarding another sip. The Mayor paced, oblivious to this breach of propriety. Just as well.

“Yes. Yes, I imagine it will… but…” he paused, forcing his attention down to her seated form, “Your methods Mademoiselle Gregoire…”

“Yes?” she encouraged, with a raised brow and an inviting tilt of the head.

“I’ve heard stories but… but I’d prefer if you could be more…?”

“Transparent?” Genevieve offered.

His narrow shoulders rose and fell, and he took off his glasses to rub his eyes. “There are rumours Mademoiselle, and my first concern must be for the people.”

“Indeed?” Genevieve set her tea down on the table beside her and folded her hands together over her lap. “Am I so frightful that you’d rather leave them to the ravenous appetites of monsters?”

“N-no, Mademoiselle. But I’ve heard…”

“That I murder indiscriminately?” she finished for him, never relinquishing her smile or the amicability of her voice, “Innocent and guilty alike until hardly a soul is left in my wake?”

The Mayor’s nod was so stiff as to be almost imperceptible.

Darnell stepped forward from his place behind his mistress, his mouth opening but closing again at the sound of Genevieve’s laugh, as delicate as fine china.

“Well, it cannot be said that I’m not thorough…”

“Mademoiselle, I see no humour in what you are proposing,” the Mayor lifted his head boldly, but Genevieve took a silent pride in the trembling of his bony knees.

“Lord Mayor,” she chided, “What you speak of are rumours. Frightening ones, which are the most dangerous and often the most ill-used. Though I find your confidence in my abilities… refreshing.

“So they are untrue?” he pressed, patting at his bushy brow with a threadbare handkerchief.

Darnell snorted.

“Utterly ridiculous,” Genevieve said, “I am a woman of science, Monsieur. My methods are evidence-based and precise. I will not proceed unless I am convinced of an individual’s guilt.”

“So your methods…”

“Private, of course. I may hunt Beasts, Monsieur, but you know as well as I that they have the minds of men. It would be strategically imbecilic of me to reveal the means of my success before I have even begun the Hunt.”

“Not even to the mayor of this city?” Perhaps he had meant to leverage his position, bear down on her with a sense of intimidation, but the fiddling of his fingers and the quiver in his voice resulted in quite the opposite.

“Monsieur Mayor,” she cooed, as to a frightened animal, “I can assure you that, unless you have something to hide, you have nothing to fear from my methods. As I said before, I hunt only Beasts.”

“Of course,” he conceded, dropping into a plush armchair opposite Genevieve. “Forgive me for my skepticism, Mademoiselle, the past few days have been trying. Not that life has been easy in Ste. Ygrette’s for quite some time.”

“Ah yes,” Genevieve said, forcing another sip of tea to give her a moment to collect her thoughts, “I imagine the fire this morning must have been quite a trial.”

“This morning,” he said, followed by a humourless laugh, “What you saw were merely the death throes of a blaze that began yesterday morning.”

“That must have been quite a fire. I’m rather surprised the building is still standing. I assume it was no accident?” She watched his face closely, but he seemed too exhausted to deceive her as many mayors of many other cities had often done. Even in the face of desperation, she was an outsider, and many would take familiar beasts over something as strange as an authoritative female in a wheelchair.

Overall, she decided she liked this mayor, even if she didn’t quite trust him.

He sighed, shaking his head in defeat as he answered: “No. No, I’m certain it was quite intentional. Governor L’Amie has lost much in recent years, and there are those that blame him for every disaster, whether caused by Beast, or disease, or simply by fate.”

“Cursed?” she asked, echoing the mother she’d spoken to earlier that morning.

“That’s what they say.” He didn’t elaborate, though Genevieve waited in uncomfortable silence.

“So they believe him to be the Beast? Or at least one of them?”

At first the Mayor seemed too distracted to acknowledge that she had spoken, but as the words slowly unfolded within his sluggish brain his eyes widened in terror.

“No,” he snapped, sitting up much straighter in his chair, “No, of course not. He is a great benefactor of this town and of unquestionable character. No, the curse is one of misfortune – or so I’ve heard – and therefore drew the Beasts to the town. A mistake made in his youth that angered a Witch and forced all those around him to suffer. I don’t know the details of the story – nonsense if you ask me.”

“So the fire wasn’t an accusation, then?”

“Of course not,” he scoffed, “Just a superstitious mind trying to drive him off. Annette probably got the ear of grief-stricken parent and convinced them it was the right thing to do.”


The Mayor fumbled his words for a moment, and rolled his eyes as if to dismiss the topic as beneath his attention, “One of the older women. You know the type – dirty old spinster that stirs up trouble out of boredom. Tries to corrupt the youth and then cries foul when the town takes it into their heads that she’s a Witch. Better off hiding in that old shack of hers until she does us all a favour and dies.”

Genevieve regretted the amicability she’d felt for this man. He may have read this in the stern line of her mouth because he quickly raised his hands in defence and continued.

“Yes, yes I know. I suppose I’m being unfair – she’s harmless really. But she does cause such a fuss.”

Interesting, Genevieve thought, making a note to meet the old woman that caused Ste. Ygrette’s mayor as much a hassle as the Beasts consuming it.

She opened her mouth to ask after the Mayor’s personal theories and suspicions when Darnell’s hand fell firmly on her shoulder. Raising her head, she met his eyes and he nodded. At that same moment a cacophony erupted from the front hall just beyond the parlour – a door crashing open and the sound of nails skittering against the stone tile. The parlour door then swung open and a large brindle dog burst through, running first to the Mayor and then to Genevieve and Darnell, its tail a blur of overwhelming excitement.

“Jacques!” A feminine voice cried, “Jacques, no! Come back, boy!”

The Mayor’s mouth gaped like a caught fish, and he jumped to his feet, falling over again as the dog pounced on him, licking his face.

A girl appeared in the doorway then, well dressed in high-collared silk and layered skirts, but with mud clinging to the hem and the soles of her otherwise stylish boots. Genevieve aged her at perhaps fifteen or sixteen years.

Noticing that her father had company she quickly clutched her hands together and dipped her head in a polite bow so that her auburn curls bounced down over her face.

“Please excuse me Mademoiselle, Monsieur,” she addressed each in turn before pointing firmly towards her feet, “Jacques, here!”

The boisterous animal flew from where it was sniffing Genevieve’s wheels to its place by its mistress’ feet.

“Good boy,” she said, patting him playfully on the head.

The Mayor still watched, sprawled over the chair as he was, in abject terror.

“Juliette,” he squeaked, “You should not be here. Please take Jacques and leave at once.”

The girl’s cheeks ignited like the morning’s flames, brighter even than her hair, and she dropped her head in apology once more. “I am so sorry for the disturbance.”

“Not at all,” Genevieve smiled, patting Darnell’s hand still resting heavily on her shoulder. He grudgingly removed it. “Might I beg an introduction before you depart?”

She looked to the Mayor, already shaking his head, but Juliette seemed not to notice.

“My name is Juliette Valis,” she responded with a curtsy.

“Your daughter, Monsieur Mayor?”

The Mayor nodded, then quickly turned to his child, “Thank you Juliette, now if you would please…”

“Ah, but I have not introduced myself,” Genevieve interrupted, reaching into one of the pockets hidden in the deep folds of her dress, “I am Hunter Gregoire, and this is my assistant: Hunter Furst.”

The change didn’t begin immediately, but Genevieve recognized the familiar chill that seemed to ripple through the air.

“Now you must go,” the Mayor said to Juliette, pushing himself to his feet and taking a step back rather than toward his daughter whom was staring at Genevieve with an expression not unlike that of her father’s.

“Juliette,” he said firmly, and she looked at him then as though waking from a dream.

“Y-yes, Father. I need to see to Jacques. Come on boy,” she called.

The dog was missing, no longer at her side but across the room and backing away still.

“Actually, I’d like a word with your daughter,” Genevieve said, drawing their attention back to her.

“Mademoiselle Gregoire, please,” the Mayor begged, “she is my only child.”

Still he did not move an inch towards Juliette.

Already Juliette’s nostrils were flaring, panic coursing through her veins and freezing her in place as the transformation began. Her eyes seemed to slide down her face, narrowing the distance between them as her jaw extended outward. Coarse red hair was sprouting from under her collar and creeping up while her ringlets parted ways with her scalp, tumbling in a muffled heap upon the floor.

Juliette screamed. Genevieve knew what kind of agony she must be suffering, and she withdrew the five-barrel pepperbox from her skirts. The Mayor’s eyes widened, reflecting the glint of the carefully polished revolver.

“No!” he shouted, suddenly animate and moving towards the Beast that was only moments ago his child.

Sharp canines were already sprouting from the girl’s face, displacing the duller, human ones which clattered down beside the hair.

In two long strides Darnell reached the Mayor, lifting the smaller man up and away from Genevieve’s line of sight. She made to squeeze the trigger but snarling from another direction made her hesitate, and she watched as Jacques shot across the room at Darnell, aiming to protect his master.

Juliette stretched out a lanky, clawed foot and took a step forward. There wasn’t time.

Genevieve fired.

<— Part I: An Ominous Welcome

Part III: The Inconvenience of Hunger —>

Return to The Beast of Ste Ygrette

Weekly Update – 21/10/2016

So what happened this week?

A new story came out yesterday, and with it an entire new option up there on the menu bar. In my last post I described the Iyashikei genre, mentioning that my husband had challenged me to write something with similar qualities. While writing this story I realized that it would not be complete in one installment. And so, I’ve accidentally started a new web serial.

The name of the series is 53 Ganymede. It follows Claire Brown — a young woman who finds herself moving to a big city and renting an apartment in a beautiful, if eccentric,Victorian house. Unlike Secrets and Skin, 53 Ganymede is episodic and not a serialized novel (think discrete tales instead of chapters). Like its inspiration, these stories are intended to be calming and immersive — a safe haven for those just looking to relax, meditate, or heal. The also have a touch of magic, mystery, and mischief… just to keep things interesting.

You can find the first episode below:


Aside from this, Secrets and Skin Chapters 24 and 25 released Wednesday and today respectively. You can read them below:


Or read it on Wattpad


Or read it on Wattpad

Lastly, my short story Host is still up for an award on Wattpad and could use your votes! You can find it by clicking HERE.

If you don’t have Wattpad but would still like to read it, check out the link below:


Thanks for all of your support!