FGI 1: The Heir of the Beast - Book cover

FGI 1: The Heir of the Beast

F.R. Black

Chapter 2

The metal floors feel cold against my skin.

Slowly, I examine my surroundings.

When I feel a hand touch my arm, I whip around to stare at a tall, lovely redhead, her hair cut into an A-line at her shoulders. Her white summer dress is pretty, her smile even prettier. She looks like a Southern Belle.

I flatten my hair, trying to tame it after all the commotion.

“Are you alright?” she asks me.

“Where are we?” I say.

“I have no idea. I only just arrived a few minutes before you did. It must have been that letter.”

Before we can discuss our current situation any further, I hear someone clear their throat directly behind me.

While I had expected to find an alien species inspecting us like a science experiment, I did not expect to see a very handsome man dressed in a crisp white suit.

“You girls are late.” His voice is smooth and lovely. His blond hair is combed back perfectly, and his face is that of a prince.

I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.

My mind is flatlining.

“Please, follow me. The Fairy Godmother hates to be off schedule,” he says, like we were talking about the weather, like this was something completely normal.

“Where are we? Where are all my things?” I stammer frantically.

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about that. Everything will be explained in due time.”

He opens the door behind him.

It’s dark in there.

Are we going to a mental institution? Will men in white medical outfits seize us and place us in a padded room and shove pills down our throats?

Redhead shrugs and proceeds after him.

I stay behind for a moment, looking around the metal atrium. What choice do I have? I can’t stay here forever. I take a deep breath and follow them in.

The tunnel opens up into a room. It’s spacious and completely beautiful—jaw-dropping. I think I hear Redhead gasp, placing a hand over her mouth.

Everything is white and sky blue. The floors are glistening white marble with light blue glittering swirls throughout it.

The ceiling is vaulted with shimmering bits of glass, and the seating area is exquisite with blinding white couches and sapphire accents.

You can’t tell that we are in a spaceship hundreds of feet above ground. Who knows how far we have traveled by now.

The whole thing doesn’t look real. I take a shaky breath and try to count to ten in my mind.

“Welcome to Fairy Godmother Inc., ladies. I’m Pierce Charming. Please check in at the front desk,” Mr. Charming says in a sing-song voice. “Oh, and please make haste.”

He points to a large, U-shaped desk with a beautiful woman smiling at us.

She is wearing an all-white dress fit for a luncheon at a royal castle. Her golden hair bounces as she types, apparently doing her job with great enthusiasm. She has a creepy, Stepford-wife vibe.

She glances up at us with a stern look.

“Sign in here.” She points at a sparkling paper and pen.

Redhead signs her name first then passes me the paper.

I notice her name is Cherie. She dots the “i” with a heart.

I sign my name and notice five other names on the list.

I walk around a corner to see five lovely women sitting on white couches, looking just as nervous as I feel. Cherie nods at them and we take a seat.

“What is this place?” Cherie whispers.

I swallow and shrug, glancing around the beautiful sitting room. “This is getting weirder by the second,” I whisper back.

A snobby girl with perfect blond hair, a barbie body, and a pink sundress leans over, looking around at all of us.

“My name is Laura Rogers. I’m sure you heard of my brother. Luke Rogers? He’s the pitcher for the Red Sox,” the blonde barbie doll beams, looking way too smug.

Laura examines her manicure and walks around the room, listening to everyone’s praise.

“I don’t watch baseball, so boring,” I moan before my faulty filter kicks in. I feel Cherie shoot me a glance, then a grin, covering her smile with her hand.

Laura’s gaze pins me, and she takes her time to look me up and down. She raises a thin brow and walks over to me, lips pinched. She has very thin lips, I notice, that flatten out into a line.

“And who are you? A vampire? Madame Darkness?” she laughs lightly.

I resist an eye roll. “My name is Viola Spear, and I’m here out of pure curiosity,” I murmur. Not sure why I just gave her a bogus last name.

“Whatever,” she shoots back. “Aren’t we all?”

“Hi, I’m Destiny,” the girl sitting on the couch opposite me introduces herself. “This place gives me the creeps—too sterile.”

The girl next to Destiny, with short platinum hair, nods in agreement. She raises her hand.

“I’m April. I am a little nervous about this setup. I hope there is no audition or anything like that. I’m not good in front of crowds—like, I will have a panic attack.”

“We are in a documentary or movie set,” Laura chimes in, sounding annoyed by everyone’s incompetence.

A tall brunette laughs. “Let’s not forget how hot Mr. Charming is,” she whispers, loud enough for all of us to hear, and looks around the corner. “Oh, and I’m Ivy, a former Marine.”

We all murmur something about her exceptional service to our country.

The last girl, with caramel skin and a Cuban bun, is about to introduce herself when Mr. Charming comes in.

My heart pulses to life, like a drunken tap dancer who just pounded five Red Bulls.

He grins and places a hand in his white suit pants.

“Ladies, we are ready for you all to move into the arena, where all of your questions will be answered. We are a little bit behind schedule, so please, let’s not let the Fairy Godmother wait another second.”

I hear a muffled giggle to my left.

He glances at all of us. A severe look crosses his handsome features as he studies us.

“Please take this seriously. What you are about to see is real. You all were chosen for a reason by Fate’s hand.”

We all line up and follow Charming through a sliding glass door.

We walk into a large seating area, like a university lecture hall. I calm my pounding heart as I grab the back of a chair to steady myself.

The problem is…

The problem is that where a chalkboard and wall would be, right at the front of the room, behind the desk, is outer f-ing space.

I am looking at the big, black abyss that is our universe. Like someone cut the spaceship in half, and we are standing on the edge.

There are distant shooting stars, comets, and an enormous planet far off in the distance. You can see the atmosphere moving around it.

I slowly look up and see Charming walking down the pale marble stairs to the bottom level, where the large desk sits. Dear goodness, even a red shiny apple lays on top of it, like we are in grade school.

“Ladies!” Charming booms with his hands outstretched. “Please take a seat wherever you like.

“I know what you are seeing does not seem real, but you’ll find out soon enough that this room is the least of your worries. I say this from the deepest part of my heart. Welcome.”

We all shift in our seats uncomfortably. Blond Barbie has an overexcited smile plastered across her face.

“All right, I can see that all of you are ready to get started,” he says with a smile, and he holds out his arm toward the universe. “Ladies, may I present you to…the Fairy Godmother.”

Suddenly, a door opens, and a stunning woman walks through the archway.

Her midnight-blue gown glitters, and her silver hair is up in a bun on top of her head. She looks like a nineteen-fifties celebrity.

The dress flows out at the tight waist and stops under the knee like she is wearing petticoats. The off-the-shoulder neckline is elegant, probably the envy of every trophy wife.

She looks like a version of Meryl Streep in the movie Devil Wears Prada.

Her expression as she walks in is one of utter seriousness. I can’t believe I’m looking at the legendary Fairy Godmother.

Our reality is stranger than fiction.

There is still no smile, no happy greeting like Mr. Charming. She glances at Charming with an all-but-pleased look on her face.

We are about to find out why we are here.

She takes a breath and places a hand on the bridge of her nose. “I have been running Fairy Godmother Incorporated for two hundred years, always providing a happily-ever-after.”

She pauses again, as if she is having trouble saying what she wants.

Charming steps forward and places a hand on her shoulder, whispering something in her ear. She shakes her head and whispers something back, looking very upset.

“I assume you all read your letters. I do apologize for the method of transportation. We here at Fairy Godmother Inc. have always had a knack for theatrics.” She smiles.

“Each one of you has been chosen to partake in the Fairytale Challenges as one of our agents.”

She continues as we all hang on every word, “I’m afraid that this time, things are going to be a little different, due to unfortunate circumstances.”

I frown.

What’s going on?

“We are currently at the Fairy Godmother Inc. headquarters. If everyone here agrees to the terms, you will be transported to another world—a kingdom, if you will.”

We all stare back at her, perplexed, and she appears amused at our confusion.

“There are many different dimensions, having many different planets with functioning worlds just like Earth. Believe it, because it is very true.”

She waves her hand up in the air as 3-D images materialize out of thin air.

In one instant, the view of the universe changes.

I gasp.

Planets appear in front of us, each numbered from one on into the thousands.

“As you can see, these are the planets currently under contract with Fairy Godmother Inc.”

“We need help. Desperation is an understatement here. Fairy Godmother Inc. is on the verge of collapse. You’re the first group to hear this behind-the-scenes information.

“The entire purpose of this company is to maintain peace within the universe. I answer to a higher authority, who gave me the responsibility to keep a certain level of peace between worlds.”

She pauses as he gazes around. “All the planets are invisibly connected, and when one harbors evil, it affects the others, like a chain reaction of darkness.

“I believe that all wickedness can be healed by love; this has always been our slogan.”

She pauses at our still-confused expressions.

“We need to keep each planet above 50 percent—evil versus good. We can never eliminate evil altogether, but we need to maintain the perfect balance.

“We are talking about the people who inhabit them. Their souls combine for a total percentage. If we cannot do this over an allotted period of time, then a different power takes over.

“We are having a problem with one planet in particular. The one that is bright red, Delorith. As you can see, the other planets above it are being affected—they’re starting to turn red as well.

“It’s like an infection, spreading unless we cure it, fast.

“Should evil conquer all, I will be replaced with another. A fairy that I shall not name, but who does not believe in what I do. The woman is a vile creature and happens to be my very own sis…”

The Fairy Godmother dashes out of the room before finishing her sentence.

Charming looks over at the door, concerned.

“Any questions?” he asks us.

“Does our Fairy Godmother have a name?” Destiny asks.

Charming smiles. “Her name is Zora, but you didn’t hear it from me.” He sits at the desk. “Her bitch sister is Mildred.”

I can’t help but giggle. So we have a family feud filled with jealousy—how very human of them.

“She never said what we are all here for,” I blurt out.

“Ah yes, of course,” Charming starts. “Ladies, you’re here because we want you to make the leader of this infected kingdom fall in love with you. One of you… To cure his evil soul and, by extension, his kingdom.”

Charming waves his hand and the planets displayed in front of us are replaced with a hologram of a man.

He has blond hair and black eyes. You could almost see evil spreading through them.

He also has a perfectly chiseled body.

“Please meet King Apollo Augustus Garthorne. While he might look like a Greek god, do be warned, he can be dangerous,” Charming carries on, pacing at the front of the room. “We almost got him with the last group, but he slipped from our grasp. Or should I say theirs…”

Apollo Augustus Garthorn. He sounds hot and powerful.

So that’s our mission: we have to change this king’s corrupt heart.

“So, what do you mean you were close? He almost fell in love with a girl in the last mission?” asks Cherie.

For some reason, that doesn’t sit well with me.

He chuckles and rubs the back of his neck. “Not quite. Turns out our king is hard to please.” Charming looks up and exhales sharply.

“Think of this as a video game: certain things you do give you points. Having the main ruler fall in love for the right reasons is like a 40 percent boost. If you fix him, everything else falls into place. Like getting rid of the bad guy, solving hunger issues, slavery—the list goes on. We only have three months; that’s all the time Fate will allow us to intervene.”

Laura laughs and shakes her head. “This guy is picky. I like a challenge.”

Charming looks up and stares at her, probably trying to figure out if she is serious.

“I guess you can say that he is picky. I have a feeling he is onto us. So you must be careful.” He pushes off the desk and starts clapping his hands.

“This is the time to tell you the rules. We have very little time to do this because the council gave us only today to send out another team.”

I think I hear him use profanity under his breath. Pierce Charming is not happy about this.

“You each will be in the hands of Fate. That’s how this works—to keep the balance, we must follow what Fate dictates for us.” He holds out his hand, and the ground vibrates.

I sit up in my chair and watch as a stone…birdbath…rises out of the ground. In the bath is a metallic liquid. How very curious. What is this?

“You each will place your hands into the Bowl of Destiny, and Fate will determine what you will be in this challenge. A princess or a pauper… This is crucial, for you may not change your title once it has been given to you.”

I hear murmurs all around the room, some excited and some worried.

While I am concerned, I am mostly…excited.

“You will be able to change three things about yourself to help you ensnare the heart of Apollo Augustus Garthorn, our King,” Charming explains.

The Fairy Godmother walks in. She looks composed again.

Standing by Charming, she says, “Let’s not waste Fate’s time any longer.”

I suddenly feel very nervous—sick, even. This is real.

She claps her hands together and eight women in white coats burst through the door. Each carrying a tray, they make their way towards us. On each tray are two champagne flutes. One filled with a violet liquid, and the other an emerald green one.

“If you choose to drink the green potion,” the Fairy Godmother explains, “then you will go back to your world with no memory of today.”

She pauses, scanning our faces.

“But,” she continues, “should you choose to drink the violet potion, well then… Let the games begin!” She smiles deviously.

My eyes dart back and forth between the two glasses.

Which one would I choose?

The green? Or the purple?

I grab the stem of the glass. I look down into the purple liquid and gulp it down before I change my mind. The liquid is sweet, unexpectedly syrupy.

Now that it is done, there is only one thing left on my mind…

Would I be a princess, or a pauper?

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