I slowed to a complete stop as I neared Geroux.
"Do you know how to turn back?" he asked.
Instinctively, I went to say "no" but all that came out was a bark. It surprised me, although I wasn't sure what else to expect to come out of my wolf mouth.
"It only works if you are of sound mind... you need to disconnect from your beastly urges - do you think you can do that?"
I tried nodding and pawed at the ground in case he couldn't tell what I was doing inside all that black fur under the night sky.
"Think of being Belle, what you look like, how it feels to be standing on two legs, how it feels to be human..." he said, looking away. He held out my robe.
At first I thought he couldn't bear to look at me and then, once I had transformed back into human form I realised that the return to human form, renders one completely nude.
Quickly, I tied the robe around me and thanked Geroux.
Geroux faced me and took his hands in mine, examining them. "Who's is this?" he asked. I looked down and saw the blood mixed with dirt had made it through the transformation and was stuck to my fingers.
"Pierre's. Possibly Chantelle's as well," I said, knowing full well it was a mixture of the two - I could smell it like Sunday dinner.
Geroux brought my hands to his face and inhaled deeply. He sighed.
"They didn't deserve to die, Belle," he stated, firmly.
"Didn't they?" I asked. "After all that they did, do you think they deserve a happily ever after?"
"You don't get to make those decisions, Belle," Geroux said, concerned.
"Well, I did. And what's done is done and I can't change it now," I said, when suddenly I began sobbing.
The magnitude of what had taken place finally hit me.
"I need help, Geroux," I said through tears.
"Come, Belle," Geroux said, placing his arm around my shoulder and ushering me inside.
* * *
After some discussion over tea, we decided it was prudent that I should begin training the next morning.
I must say, I felt very disconnected from the murders. And I was incredibly grateful to Geroux, that he made no further mention and did not judge me for actions that were somewhat beyond my control.
* * *
That night, I slept more deeply than I had since my ordeal with Geroux first began.
I wasn't sure what kind of training Geroux had planned, but I can confidently say I was not expecting an egg to be involved.
Yes, a farm grown chicken's egg.
It was just sitting on the ground. Geroux was standing on the other side of the egg. He said my task was to pick up the egg and throw it back and forth between my hands, like juggling.
Ludicrous, I thought. What was the point of this?
That was until I smashed the egg just by picking it up between my forefinger and thumb.
He placed another egg on the ground and asked me to try again.
This time, I concentrated very hard on picking up the egg, gently. It took me an embarrassingly long time, but I did it. Then I passed it to my other hand and the moment it made contact it shattered. Yolk went everywhere. (Also yolk has a potent smell - who would have thought?)
"What are these eggs made of? Glass?" I asked, annoyed.
"These are regular eggs. It is you that is different. The world might as well be made of glass when you are stronger than almost anything or anyone. A human life is as fragile and delicate as this egg," he said, holding up another egg.
"Taking a human life, whether intentional or not, is as easy as breaking an egg, now that you are endowed with such enormous strength," he continued. And he was right, annoyingly.
"If you can keep the egg whole, undamaged, then you have taken your first step to controlling the beast within," Geroux said, placing another egg on the ground.
"Again and concentrate. Think of how delicate the egg is and really feel your hand connecting with it," he instructed. "See yourself as gentle. Feel you can protect it. Know you can keep it safe."
Several broken eggs later - I did keep one safe.
Then the tests became more difficult. Next, I held the egg in one hand while scaling a tree with the other. Another test involved Geroux creating small stands out of twigs, grass and dirt for me to balance multiple eggs, after first catching running and jumping with them (of course).
As the afternoon drew to a close, I thought we would retire for some dinner, but Geroux said there was one more test for that day.
"What is it?" I asked, hoping for no more egg-related skill tests.
He untucked his shirt and loosened his wrist buttons. Geroux looked up and me and gave one simple instruction.
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The Secret Diary of Belle (Grimmoire Series)Mystery / Thriller
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