Beauty and the Beast, Biblical-style: Toni V. Sweeney’s Bride of the Beast
A political marriage to stop a war…a king whose golden mask hides his face from his people…a princess who loves her husband though she never sees his face…and a curse placed on a royal family by God…
Once again, I’m doing my version of a legend. This time, it’s Beauty and the Beast and though it’s been done to death, I don’t think anyone’s come up with this particular twist. (At least, I hope not.)
Senset is a princess of AEgys, only a minor child, and the daughter of a lesser wife of King Aseti-Ra, but a royal princess nevertheless. Her people are descended from a group of exiles banished from their home far to the North, a beautiful land on the banks of a river whose waters flow northward where pyramids house their sovereigns’ bodies and palm trees shade oases.
Michael is king of the Habiru, the Beast Men. For generations, his people and the Aegysians have been at war. When his brother Aram returns home with tales of the woman who helped him escape death, he sees it as an opportunity for peace between the warring peoples. He sends Aram back to AEgys with an offer Aseti-Ra can’t refuse; peace and an alliance between the Beasts and the AEgysians with a marriage with Senset to seal the deal. He also believes Senset can lift the curse placed upon his family by God, but is she really the one who can help him…?
This was an enjoyable story to write, not only for the tale of love between Michael and
Senset, but for the information I learned during my research.
I’d never tried any kind of Biblical or ancient Egyptian story before, but I wanted it to be as authentic as possible within the boundaries I’d set for why an off-shoot of the Egyptians and the Hebrews were in this particular place at this particular time. I’ve always liked ancient history, so gathering facts was a treat. There was so much to delve into concerning the ancient Egyptians (from whom the AEgysians are descended) and the ancient Hebrews (from whom Michael and his people trace their ancestry).
I learned that Egypt had many names, such as Ta-Sheme’aw, “Land of the Rushes”, and Kemet, the “black land,” and the Nile flows northward toward the Mediterranean rather than south. Some sources called the Hebrew “Habiru”, others included them with the Hyksos, the “Shepherd Kings” who thundered into Egypt in their war chariots and ruled for several centuries.
Though the Egyptians had chariots, they never rode horseback. The idea repulsed them and that’s one reason they consider the Habiru “beasts”…because they rode horses. Think of any pictures or murals of pharaohs hunting or at war. They’re always shown in chariots. In warfare, it’s much easier to use a bow while standing in a chariot with someone else driving then riding a horse, trying to guide it, and aiming a bow so you don’t accidentally shoot your mount in the head.
Since this story wasn’t to be about ancient Egyptians and Hebrews, per se, but of an off-shoot, I did take some artistic license when using the information I found. Reasoning that a people separated from their main group for generations might justifiably change their ceremonies over the years, I make some of the rituals slightly different from the originals. The AEgysians rulers don’t marry their sisters but take their wives from the countries they conquer, thus making them allies. A ruler has wives and concubines, but has the choice of which woman he marries will become his Prime Wife and thus higher than all the rest.
For my delving into Jewish customs, I was fortunate to find a site called “Judaism 101” which became my primary source. From it, as well as other searches, I learned of marriage rituals, childbirth customs, and coming of age ceremonies, as well as funeral rites.
Writing Bride of the Beast was an enlightening experience, and I hope it will be both that and an entertainment for its readers also.
“…if you want to read a well written, well thought out love story, THIS IS IT…”—Paranormal Romance Guild review.
For a moment, Senset stood still, staring into the room.
It was very dark, the only light trickling dimly through an open square high in the wall, just a few inches above the outside ground-level. She could see motes of dust swirling thickly as the air from outside stirred them. Her eyes followed the pale beam of moonlight downward to where it widened slightly, illuminating a bulky object in the center of the room.
A cage…a large cage fashioned of iron slats woven together. On one side, she could see a smaller rectangle, a door with chains wrapped through the slats, a U-shaped padlock holding them together. The dust swirled faster and she felt the wind as it swooped into the cage and out again, bringing with it a thick smell of urine-soaked straw, blood, and sweat. The center of the cage was dark, but in one corner…
She thought she could see a huddled shape, thick, wiry fur standing upright, like the way Bubash’s hair spiked when she was angry or displeased. It wasn’t moving, however.
Is the beast sleeping? One of the soldiers had struck it with the flat of his sword. It was already wounded. Could it have died from the soldiers’ abuse?
She felt a brief disappointment. She’d expected the creature to be clawing at the walls of the cage, screaming its rage at being imprisoned. As it was, she could barely see anyth—
“Are you going to stay there in the shadows staring at me or are you coming out where I can see you?”
Senset jumped. For a fraction of a second, she just stood there; then, before she realized it, she was taking a step toward the cage. “Y-you can speak?”
“I’m talking to you, aren’t I?” The beast turned its head. She thought she saw the glow of eyes reflecting in the shifting light. “So apparently, I can speak, and more than just AEgyn, too.”
“But you’re a beast,”she protested. “Horem said you couldn’t talk, just make sounds and grunts.”
“Then he’s mistaken, isn’t he?” There was a rustle of straw as he rolled over so he was facing her. She became aware that he was much larger than she’d originally thought. He must have been curled up in the straw. His voice was rough and harsh, like a hound who’d bayed itself hoarse. With a groan, he rose to his knees. The movement sent the mix of smells toward her again.
He stepped into the little cone of sunlight and she saw that the fur on his arms and body, like that on his hands, wasn’t really his. He was wearing an animal skin, several of them, sewn together. They were laced over what appeared to be a leather tunic of some kind. Soft leather boots held in place by wrapped rawhide strips covered from toes to knees, with heavily-muscled thighs showing beneath the tail of the tunic. The garments and his legs were covered with dried mud and grass.
“He was right about one thing.” Senset raised a hand, flapping it in front of her to wave the odors away. “You are dirty, smelly, and hairy!”
He gave something that might have been a bark…or a grating laugh…and shook his head, a shaggy head with a beard hiding most of his face. It was difficult to read his expression what with the gloom, the dirt, and that beard. Senset had never seen a man with hair on his face before, except for that little stubble Horem and her father sported before the Royal barber shaved it off. It was oddly fascinating.
“Get past the smell and the hair, I imagine I’m as much a man as your beloved General.” His hand tightened on the slats as he hauled himself to his feet with a swallowed grunt. “Maybe more so.”
Bride of the Beast is available in paperback from Class Act Books, http://www.classactbooks.com/cat-romance/cat-fantasy/bride-of-the-beast-7-detail
And in eBook at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/236987
Youtube link: https://youtu.be/0PXhSqjGjOw
POSTED FOR TONI V. SWEENEY — Happy Friday All!