Beauty and the Builder - Mawaharin (2024)

Chapter Text

Among the mountains of Moonbrooke, there lay a kingdom as vast and shining as the western sea. Its castle was magnificent to behold, with stones that shone as white as the snowy fields that covered the land. Large hemlocks decorated the hills with deep, evergreen branches and red roses climbed the walls of the majestic castle. Tales of Moonbrooke’s hospitality were known through Alefgard and the people that lived there were happy and prosperous.

The kingdom was ruled by a fair queen who had a young son, of whom she was devoutly fond. The boy was handsome and sturdily built and displayed a talent for combat at a young age. As the lad grew, so did his power, and through him many victories in the name of his kingdom were made.

Now, there came a time when a great famine struck the land and the queen, desperate to provide for her people, struck a deal with the King of Malhalla. Malhalla’s throne was seated with a fierce and merciless tyrant known as Hargon. King Hargon had heard of the young boy’s heroic deeds and was eager to make use of his talents for his own wicked ambitions. The boy traveled to Malhalla at his mother’s behest and was quickly taken under the king’s careful guidance . Hargon used the boy to complete iniquitous tasks, and as the young prince grew, his immense strength and towering height earned him the moniker ‘Black Dragon’.

The destruction of innocent people during his time in Malhalla corrupted the young prince’s heart and he blindly followed Hargon’s demands. The King Hargon was pleased by the boy’s transformation and plotted to change him into a powerful demon. As the King expanded his reach, the Queen was increasingly troubled by the change in her son. She besought him to return to Moonbrooke, breaking the trade line. This angered Hargon, who responded with a merciless attack on the peaceful kingdom. The betrayal hardened the prince’s heart, and he fought valiantly against Hargon. As the residents of Moonbrooke fell, the prince’s grief had no bounds and he fought until he lay dying on the battlefields. The King descended upon the prince, using his tainted sorcery on the boy to replace his heart with one of a demon. The queen, out of desperation, grasped a vine of roses and cut her skin with the thorns, offering her blood to the Gods. She begged that her son might be spared from death and might regain the heart of a man and rebuild their lost kingdom. The Goddess of Creation, Rubiss, took pity on the woman as she lay on her deathbed and promised to grant her wish. The Queen gave her son the very rose she made her blood oath with and begged him to remember her, to keep the token lest he forget to rebuild the Kingdom of Moonbrooke.

To reverse the wicked deed of Hargon, the Goddess cast a spell on the land and its survivors. If the prince could learn to love and receive love despite his demon heart, the spell would be broken and the kingdom, no longer bound to Hargon, could be reborn. She sealed King Hargon and his evil forces of Malhalla away, and the prince and his remaining people lived miserably, bound to their eternal curse. Rubiss watched over the people of Moonbrooke, who became isolated, praying to the Goddess as the hope faded from the young prince. His heart turned fierce and full of hate and he soon forgot the memories of his past life. The fate of Moonbrooke sank into a state of despair , no light of hope visible until…



Elizabeth’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of her name. She groaned and rolled over as the bright sunshine splashed across her face.


She stuffed the pillow over her ears as the shrieks drew closer. Just what that banshee wanted so early in the morning, she was sure she didn’t know.

“GET UP!” Lulu screamed. Elizabeth peaked through the pillow at the dark eyes that bore into her before the security object was snatched away.

“Morning, Lou.” Elizabeth grinned as the pillow left her fingers and her sister’s face came into view. Lulu rolled her eyes and shook her pink curls.

“Don’t ‘morning’ me!” She spat. “Don’t you remember what today is?”

“Friday.” Britney chimed in, beaming in the doorway. She winked at Elizabeth.

“I don’t need you encouraging HER.” Lulu jabbed a threatening finger at Britney before turning back to Elizabeth. She planted her hands squarely on her hips and frowned at her sister. “Am I the only responsible daughter in this family? Father must have his completed entry at the Cantlin Palace in one week! We ALL have to pitch in and you’re the most talented builder this family has and we’re all dependent on this—“

Elizabeth was no longer listening. She suppressed a giggle as Britney did her very best impression of the squawking girl by widely flapping her lips and wagging her fingers. Elizabeth stood up and planted a kiss on Lulu’s face before heading out of the room and down the stairs.

“ELIZABETH!” The girl turned her head upward to find Lulu glaring at her over the banister. “DON’T PUT ANY IDEAS IN HIS HEAD TODAY OR SO HELP ME!”

“I’d love to help her,” Britney muttered as she followed Elizabeth into the earthen kitchen. “Right out that door and into the bloody lake.”

Elizabeth bit back a laugh and cracked a few eggs into the pan.

“What’s Pops working on now?” Britney asked, tucking a flaxen strand of hair behind her ear. Elizabeth considered her older sister for a moment. Both of her sisters were very pretty but Britney had their father’s soft brown eyes. Lulu’s were a darker shade, nearly black, and there was a chilly air in the depths; a cold hue that appeared shortly after their mother died.

“He’s trying to invent a new type of trap for the king.” Elizabeth sighed, flipping over a sizzling egg. “I looked through the blueprints and made a few adjustments. I think we finally—“


“Oh, damnation!” Elizabeth groaned.

“We made it further into the morning than we thought, eh, Lizzie?” Britney snorted with laughter and took the frying pan from her sister’s hands.

“ELIZABETH! WHAT ON EARTH DID YOU PUT HIM UP TO?!” Lulu thundered down the stairs.

Elizabeth exchanged a glance with her sister before the three of them tore out of the house. Smoke was fuming from the small woodshed and spiraling into the glorious sky. A squat man burst through the knobby door, black vapors curling behind him, his gray mustache singed. A ring of smog escaped his mouth as he coughed.

“Father!” Elizabeth cried, running forward.

“Girls!” The man attempted to grin but was quickly taken by a rapid fit of coughs. “I’ve almost done it, my girl!” He said, looking over at Elizabeth with pride. Elizabeth’s face turned sheepish as Lulu shot a reproachful look at her. Britney placed her arm around his heaving shoulders.

“Father, not the zap traps again.” The blonde groaned, patting him gently. Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut, recalling how the elderly man nearly scorched off his underpants during the last set of trials.

“They will be a success!” The man straightened himself, a fierce look in his eye. “Mark my words, Lizzie, this blasted contraption will be ready for entry within the week.” He smacked his hands clean of soot and looked up at his youngest daughter, a gleam in his eye.

“Of course, they could be ready by today.” He continued slyly. “If my loving and talented daughter would give me a hand.”

“Father! This is really unorthodox behavior!” Lulu scoffed, stamping a foot into the earth. “Have you even considered the dangers? WELL!”

“What on earth?” The old man muttered, ignoring his daughter’s outburst. He pointed a thick finger to the thatched room of the house as a spire of dark fumes poured through the open window.

“Oh, bullocks.” Britney blushed. “Left the pan on.” Lily shrieked and dashed to the house after Britney. Elizabeth and her father watched a few moments more before the old man leaned over and whispered to his youngest daughter, “What do you say my girl? Take a look at this thing?”

“Father, Lulu will kill me if I get involved.”

“Oh, blast her!” The little man tottered away back into the workshop. Ignoring the yells and crackling sounds the house behind her made, Elizabeth chased after him, pinching her nose in disgust at the rancid smell from the explosion. He began rummaging around in various boxes, shaking his head.

“She doesn’t understand the life of a builder, Elizabeth.” He grumbled, hefting a large box aside. “ Hand me that stone there, my girl.” Elizabeth obliged, watching the man skitter about the room. “This is our work, Lizzie. You’ve inherited this wonderful gift from your mother, Goddess rest her soul…perhaps even a few talents from me—CONFOUND IT!” The man yipped as a piece of still smoking wood seared his palm.

Elizabeth felt a wave of affection for the man as she watched his excitement. Her father, Jerome, was a very talented builder and inventor, an increasingly sparse profession in Cantlin. This was due to an old legend that those that possessed an aptitude for building were coveted by a dark, wicked figure. This shadowy being would possess you in the night and cart you off to some hellish place where you would eternally serve the mysterious creature for all time. It was an old tale used to control and stifle revolutionaries in the kingdom, in Elizabeth’s opinion, but the people were fixed upon the lore. Building was reserved for necessities only. Because of this, the King found himself in desperate need of updated defenses to the castle, but no one eager to do the work. He had even gone as far as to hold a competition, the winner of which would be awarded a prestigious position as the King’s personal builder. Jerome dreamt of providing a life of luxury and promise to his young daughters, not least of all Elizabeth, of whom he had a particularly soft spot for. The girl reminded him of his late wife, with her rich brunette hair and soft blue eyes, he especially loved the fiery passion that blazed in them when she was determined. He so admired the spirited girl.

Jerome’s daughters were known to be among the loveliest creatures in the country, but Elizabeth was exceedingly beautiful. It was not uncommon for men to wander into Furrowfield’s countryside just to get a glimpse of the girl, who seemed oblivious to the extra attention. Jerome wanted nothing more than to see his daughters happily married. The man was a romantic at heart and looked back on his time with his wife with great fondness. This drove him to be over enthusiastic when a well intended gentleman displayed interest in one of his daughters, and overly frustrated when Elizabeth ignored any advance upon her hand.

“Father, I think you need a specific source of power to motorize the lasers.” Elizabeth began, consulting his large book of experiments. She flipped through the pages and landed on an assortment of power units. Her eyes scanned the text before settling on a glittering mineral.

“It says here that Zapphires are the ultimate power source and can fuel magical contraptions.” Elizabeth mused.

“Zapphires, eh?” Her father stroked his mustache thoughtfully. “Yes…of course…”

“Zapphires are found in the Northern regions of Alefgard,” she continued, studying the stone closely. “I doubt there are any readily available in Furrowfield. The only stone like it in the region is in the King’s own crown.”

“Don’t you worry, my girl.” Her father said confidently, unrolling a thick map. His stubby finger traced the terrain before landing on the northernmost continent. “Moonbrooke has them.”

Elizabeth stilled, her heart slowing to a halt. Dread welled up in the depths of her soul. Moonbrooke, the dreaded kingdom of ice. For as long as Elizabeth had drawn breath, the kingdom had been isolated, said to be ruled by a mysterious and cruel figure with glowing red eyes. Tales of his ferocity were known throughout the kingdom and it was said he took no pleasure in unwelcome guests and showed them less than generous mercy. Elizabeth shakily recalled a tavern story that the ferocious king was a huge, beastly man as large and thick as an oak tree and that at night, he changed into a black dragon and ate the souls of his prisoners. These, of course, were ridiculous rumors, but Elizabeth felt apprehension all the same. She also knew her father: fiercely stubborn and determined to see any idea through, no matter how ridiculous or, in this case, dangerous. Elizabeth closed her eyes tightly as the squat man rushed about, stuffing a bag full of traveling essentials, the embers from the recent explosion still smoking.

“It’s settled!” He said enthusiastically. “I’ll speak to Brownbeard right away.”

“Father,” Elizabeth began shakily. “There is another resource in here that’s readily accessible. We just need to tweak the design and—“

“Nonsense!” The old man snorted, cutting her off. “The Zapphire will provide the most effective safe guard. We’ve been working on this for years, Lizzie! Don’t you want to see what this is capable of?”

Elizabeth bit her lip. There was truth to what her father said. She longed to see their inventions in action, but at what price?

“Of course, but—“

“Lizzie.” Her father looked at her with his large, brown eyes. “My girl, trust your old man a little?”

Elizabeth hung her head in defeat. She couldn’t deny the old man of his dreams or passions.

“Good girl!” He said, clapping a meaty hand on her small shoulders. “I’ll go talk to that old sea slug and make preparations to leave tomorrow.”

Elizabeth exited the woodshed and made slow steps toward the house. While it was no longer burning, evidence of destruction was there. The air was rank with the smell of burnt hay, and a swollen gap in the roof was ever widening as bits of unstable mud and straw tumbled through it. Britney stuck her head out of one of the open windows and grinned at Elizabeth.

“I think we got it under contro—oh, Rubiss be damned, what is that face for?”

“Father is going to—“ Elizabeth started and stopped as the gnarled door swung open. Lulu stood, a handkerchief over her nose and mouth. She pointed her broom threateningly at Elizabeth.

“Spill it.” She demanded. Britney withdrew her head and appeared through the doorway moments later. Elizabeth looked into her sisters’ faces and sighed.

“Father is going to Moonbrooke.”

Britney and Lulu exchanged glances.

“Sorry?” Britney blinked. “Didn’t catch the end of that.” She twisted her finger in her ear.

“Moon…Moonbrooke. MOON. BROOKE.” Lulu dropped her broom. “Is he absolutely MAD? Why on earth?”

“Zapphires, my girl!” The old man said cheerily from behind Elizabeth. “Lizzie here had the answer for my Builder’s block, of course.” He slapped Elizabeth roughly on the back. The girl tumbled forward into Lulu, who tightly gripped her shoulders, her dark eyes practically demonic.

“What—what did you do?” She demanded. Elizabeth mustered a guilty grin.

“See you in a bit, girls!” Jerome called from over his shoulder. “Gotta meet Brownbeard for a consultation.” He whistled merrily and practically hopped down the hill toward the village.

“It isn’t what you think, Lou.” Elizabeth began nervously. She winced as Lulu’s nails dug into her shoulders.

“Please explain what it is, then, Elizabeth!” Lulu fumed with her building rage. “Because it sounds like you encouraged him to go!”

“Lou. Nails.” Britney intervened, gently pulling Elizabeth away from the enraged girl. Lulu’s head fell into her hands.

“Sorry—just—why did you have to encourage this?” Frustrated tears were welling into her eyes.

“Lou, I swear—I just LOOKED at the stone and he decided it was the only way.” Elizabeth let out a shaky sigh and stroked her sister’s arm.

“We all know how he can be.” Britney exhaled. She placed an arm around each of her sisters’ shoulders. “Let’s get this mess cleaned up.”

Elizabeth nodded and started toward the house.

“No.” Lulu said quietly. She opened her eyes and looked directly at Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, please—try to convince him that this idea is horrifying. Britney and I can handle the repairs here. Please,” a large tear rolled down her cheek and Elizabeth felt her heart squeeze at the sight. “Please, change his mind.”

Elizabeth nodded and turned toward the dirt hill. Britney gave her an encouraging thumbs up, but her eyes were dull and reflected exactly what they all knew: there would be no changing the old man’s mind.


The high, cold walls of Moonbrooke’s castle were filled with sounds of clashing swords and smashing objects. Babs heaved a sigh before heading down the dark corridor before her. The sky was gray and icy, but the temperature in this wing of the fortress seemed to plummet further still, and Babs hugged her shaking shoulders as she approached the iron doors. She reached upward, prepared to knock, when the heavy door suddenly flung open. Babs stood frozen, blinking her gray eyes into the dark, when a sword came hurtling through the air and pierced the ruined banister above her head. A moment later, two burly looking lads wearing frilly aprons burst from the dark.

“THINK TWICE BEFORE APPROACHING ME AGAIN IN SUCH A MANNER!” A voice boomed from the room. The two muscle bound men swallowed loudly and looked at each other.

“My God! The Master is in a mood today!” Digby said, his legs shaking slightly as he gripped the hem of his apron.

“All I did was ask ‘em if he wanted a mushroom steak!” Dougie gulped, visibly shaken. “Cor blimey!”

“Wot ‘ave you lads done now?” Babs moaned, lifting an accusatory eyebrow at the men. They were barrel chested and sturdily built, but the sight of the burly kitchen hands shaking in their aprons was amusing to her. She felt the corners of her mouth twitch as they exchanged nervous glances.

“Oy! Babs! Didn’ see yeh there.” Dougie began. He attempted to stand stoutly but his limbs were still trembling.

“‘Onest, Babs, we weren’ doin’ a blasted thing! Jus’ tryin’ to get the man summin to eat!” Digby explained. Babs patted the man on the shoulders and watched his terrified expression change into delight. He puffed himself up again.

“I’ll see if the Master will be takin’ supper tonight, gents.” Babs continued, giving them a dazzling smile. “You two better get yerselves back to the kitchens then. Let Den know I’ll be there soon.”

The men nodded, slightly flushed from their encounter with the beautiful woman. She chuckled before bracing herself to enter the dark chamber. As soon as she stepped foot over the threshold, the temperature plummeted, the freezing air stung her eyes and bludgeoned her skin with icy daggers. In the far corner of the room, a dark figure, massive and shadowed by the bleak evening light, stood in front of an open window. The room was like a black abyss, and every step further in felt like it was swallowing Babs in total darkness. The only guide was the faint light outlining the giant figure, which Babs dutifully stepped toward.

“My lady.” The voice growled. The pitch was dark, lower than anything she’d ever heard, and resembled thunder. Even the floor beneath Babs seemed to quake as the words of the shrouded figure filled the air.

“Ma-master.” Babs said, almost breathlessly. She searched the room for his face but only a pair of glowing eyes greeted her.

“You have reason to fear me?” The voice practically spat. Babs squeezed her eyes shut. She had only been in the room for a few moments and had already displeased him.

“Of course not, my Lord.” Babs said, trying to find confidence. She was closer to him now. She could see the gray light woven between the deep muscles across his chest.

“Did you bring the item?” He growled.

“Yes.” She swallowed, stretching out a shaky hand to offer the object to him. He crossed the distance of the abysmal room in a matter of strides and stopped in front of her. His hot breath fogged the air around them as he snatched the object from her with incredible force. He tore off the cover and revealed a mirror. It was round and adorned with beautiful blue stones.

“Ra’s Mirror…” he said quietly, smoothing a large hand over the glass. “Shall we reveal the truth?” He flashed a pair of canines at Babs as he passed the mirror back to her. “Look into the mirror.” He demanded. Babs tentatively accepted the mirror. She felt powerful hands on her shoulders as he turned her slowly until her back was facing him. He looked over her shoulder and spoke into her ear. “Describe what you see.”

Babs’ eyes fluttered open and she peered into her reflection. Her almond shaped eyes were storm colored; her mouth was pink and plump, her features attractive. A slender neck sloped down into a curvaceous figure. She breathed, fogging the glass.

“I—I see my own face, my Lord.” A cold laugh rumbled in her ear.

“Shall I describe what I see?” His voice was a low whisper and caused the hairs on the back of her neck to stand. She could feel him circle her with long, heavy steps. “Long fangs…the size of your forearms.” He ran a single finger over her tricep. She shuddered. “Green scales…claws in place of hands...” He lightly touched her shoulders and she instantly jumped. “Massive, leathery wings,” he moved in front of her and stood, tilting her head upwards. She felt her eyes widen as she gazed into burning red orbs. Babs attempted to regulate her breathing as his eyes locked into hers.

“Master,” she said, lightly touching his forearm. She felt as though she was touching a stone wall. “You—you mustn’ give up ‘ope!” A cold laugh reverberated around his chamber. The chandelier shook slightly and a trail of dust poured from the ceiling.

“Hope.” He repeated, staring out the window and into the snowy depths. “Hope is for fools.”

“My Lord Malroth—“

“IT IS FOR FOOLS!” He roared, eyes flashing. Babs was trembling again and he sighed with agitation. “Leave.” He ordered. Babs scampered away, practically running from the room. Malroth turned and let the cold breeze pierce his skin. He looked over the snow that covered his kingdom, a blue cast blanketed the land as evening fell. He felt as though he was stranded in the middle of a vast, white sea.

Hope, he thought. What hope was there? He was no fool. The idea that some creature capable of seeing him as a man, suddenly arising from this accursed wasteland, was comical to him. A falsity. The hope someone, anyone, could ever love him. He knew what he was. He was a monster. Hope was for fools.


Elizabeth hurried down the pebbled path in search of her father. With any luck, she may catch the old man before he paid Captain Brownbeard the handsome sum intended to make the dangerous journey. She ran past the farms, approaching the village when she crashed into something large, something solid.

“Oof!” She started to fall backwards but something caught her.

“Elizabeth!” A shocked voice cried. Elizabeth looked into the golden eyes that held hers and quickly pulled away.

“Oh, Warwick!” Elizabeth curtseyed. “Please forgive me, I am looking for my father.”

The man was tall and muscular without being overly bulky. He flashed a perfectly white smile at her and his golden eyes glittered in the sunlight. His broad shoulders were draped in a long cloak that hung over one arm and a pair of tight breeches covered his long, muscular legs. Knee high boots shone in the light, their buckles reflecting the glint from the quiver of arrows fastened to his back. Thick, blue hair gently moved in the light breeze and his smooth, perfect skin danced in the sunlight. He was reminiscent of King Erdrick, the hero of old.

Several ladies fanned themselves and leaned their heaving bosoms forward in an attempt to get the man’s attention, but his eyes were fixed on Elizabeth.

Elizabeth looked up at him. Warwick was very handsome and was indeed a powerful figure in the kingdom; he hunted privately with the king himself! Though his stare was full of ardor, and his face was that of a god, something about him did not sit quite right with Elizabeth. She found him arrogant and entitled, and did not care for the way the man seemed to loom over her. His reputation of bedding many a country girl was well know. Elizabeth was no fool. She understood Warwick’s charming smiles toward her could only mean one thing. She felt his footsteps fall upon her everywhere she turned.

“Your father? Allow me to accompany you.” He offered.

“No!” Elizabeth said faster than she meant to. He co*cked a heavy eyebrow at her and the fawning girls in the background shook their heads in disgust. “Erm, no thank you, Warwick. I can manage on my own.” She stepped backward to create some distance between the two of them. Warwick stepped forward. Elizabeth was a petite girl and this man was tall, his shadow practically engulfed her.

“Nonsense,” he said, giving her a charming smile. He took another step toward her. “It would be my pleas—“

“WARWICK!” A booming voice cried. A burly, bearded man tore around the corner of a stone building and hurtled toward Warwick. He was waving something in his hands. Elizabeth focused her eyes on the objects, which appeared to be a pair of dead quails. He reached Warwick and excitedly banged the unfortunate creatures down at Warwick’s feet. The image of a fat hunting dog returning to its master flashed across Elizabeth’s mind.

“Bonanzo.” Warwick said through gritted teeth. “Can you please not behave in such a disgusting manner in the presence of a lady?” Bonanzo’s wide grin faded as his eyes snapped toward Elizabeth. He scratched his head before collecting the birds again.

“Erm, sorry, Elizabeth!” He said. The man glanced from Elizabeth to Warwick and paled slightly. “Just got a bit excited is all.”

“Good day, gentlemen.” Elizabeth curtseyed, taking the opportunity to slip away from Warwick.

He watched the beautiful girl stride away from him and rounded on Bonanzo, lifting him off the ground by his shirt collar.

“You ignorant pig!” Warwick hissed into the frightened face. Bonanzo kicked his stumpy legs in a desperate attempt to reach the ground but failed miserably.

“I don’t know why you get so worked up about that one!” Bonanzo grumbled. Warwick’s glare turned murderous.

“She’s the most beautiful girl in this country!” Warwick spat.

“Yea, I know but—“

“That makes her the best!” He growled.

“Sure but—“

“DON’T I DESERVE THE BEST?” Warwick practically roared, tossing the flailing man to the ground.

“OF COURSE!” Bonanzo hollered, rubbing his offended backside. “But, lad, you could have ANY girl in this city. Hell, any girl in the damned COUNTRY if you wanted!”

“I want THAT girl.” Warwick heaved, jamming a long finger into the place Elizabeth’s figure had retreated from.

“Lad,” Bonanzo hoisted himself up with great effort and stepped over to the seething man. “She’s a beautiful girl, but she’s just that: a girl. Ain’t nothing to worry about.” He smartened the man’s disheveled cloak and stepped back. “There hasn’t been a single lass you haven’t missed the chance to conquer, eh?” The beefy man elbowed Warwick and nodded his head toward a troupe of giggling maidens that passed by. Warwick composed himself and gave them a dazzling smile. One of the girls’ knees gave out at his gesture and she stumbled heavily on her friend for support.

“See, lad?” Bonanzo chuckled. “This one’s just taking a bit longer. Probably something to do with her loon for a father.” Warwick smirked, inwardly agreeing. The sight of the collapsing girl had bolstered his confidence and he proceeded, barrel chested, toward the village. He would bed this girl, just like he did all the others. Soon she would be splayed for him, eager and willing. No sane woman could resist the temptation of him.


Beauty and the Builder - Mawaharin (2024)


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