Status: once upon a time, there was a co-write...

Broken Illusion


"I don't understand why we have to travel through this," Belle complained as she almost lost her footing on the slippery mud that made up their path.

Aladdin slowed his pace so that he was walking beside her. "Soon there will be certain shapes to be found in the mud that will lead us to where we have to go. If we walked along the bank, we would not be able to see them," he explained, pointing to the small star shape that appeared in front of them.

Belle shook her head in exasperation. It had now been three days since she'd been released from the dungeon by Aladdin, but two out of those three days had been spent traipsing through mud in search of something that she didn't even think existed. Everything that Aladdin had told her she didn't believe and had he not bound her with a magical potion that prevented her from roaming too far from him, she would have gone back to her father.

When he had revealed the potion, Belle knew that no matter what happened she would have to face some consequences for being with someone who had an outlawed product. Although the King might have shown some leniency for her, she would have been sentenced to death regardless just in case she had been conspiring with those who used magic.

"I understand how difficult this might be to understand, and I do apologise for having to use magic on you, but you have to realise that you cannot fail." When Belle refused to acknowledge that he had spoken, he stopped and placed a hand on her arm to still her. "The future of this kingdom is relying on you, Belle. If you fail, many will die."

She wrenched her arm from his grip. "That is not my problem. No one spoke up when my mother was accused of witchcraft."

"That's because your mother participated in witchcraft."

Before a second had passed, Belle's hand collided with Aladdin's cheek. "Do not dare talk about my mother like that," she hissed.

Oddly enough, Aladdin just smiled despite the slap. Ahead of them the Beast was growing increasingly more fed up with Belle and her reluctance to fulfil her destiny, and although she knew of his annoyance, she did not care. A growl gained their attention as the Beast stepped forward. "Accept your fate, woman, and be done with it," he snapped. It was clear that Prince Adam's short temper was intensifying in the Beast's form and Belle knew that the conditions of his change back to human included controlling his lack of restraint and short temper. If he failed to change then Aladdin would not be obliged to change him back.

However, Belle was not going to just accept her fate any time soon and was about to tell the Beast just that when there was some rustling of branches and laboured breathing from on top of the hill to their left, making the three of them turn their attention to the man that came in view as he stepped between two trees. The moment she saw his face she felt relief. "Gaston," she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

Gaston looked towards Belle and frowned in surprise. "I heard about you being missing and could not believe it," he said, stepping away from the trees and towards the edge of the hill. "What happened? Are you hurt?"

"I am fine but how is my papa? Is he well?"

"He is worried for you. I was worried for you." He glanced between Aladdin and the Beast before looking back at her. "What is going on?"

Belle motioned towards the Beast. "This is Prince Adam," she said before motioning towards Aladdin, "and this is Aladdin, the man who is certain I have to come with him and protect me from the danger he says I am in."

"Danger?" he questioned, confused. She was one of the girls who stayed out of danger as she was aware of what had happened to her mother and sought to take care of her father as best she could.

Instead of Belle answering, Aladdin was the one who took control of the conversation. "Belle is in grave danger. You can't tell anyone about seeing her. She must remain missing, taken by outlaws along with Prince Adam. It is vital that she stays with us, hidden."

Belle let out a clipped laugh. "Oui, and save the kingdom otherwise many will die," she said sardonically. "I am surrounded by madmen but I must stay with them, just in case what they say is true."

"It's for the good of the kingdom." Aladdin elaborated when Gaston still looked wary, before turning to Belle. "We must get moving. We have to get there by sundown, and should we remain exposed like this for too long we might be detected."

Gaston surprised them all as he cautiously made his way down the hill and towards the muddy path they were on. "If you cannot leave, I will not leave," he proclaimed as he stepped onto the mud and stood next to her, looking at Aladdin. "Wherever you are taking her, I shall come with you."

This made the Beast let out an annoyed growl. "We do not need the likes of you," he snapped. "Go back to where you belong, peasant."

"Adam, need I remind you the terms of becoming human?" Aladdin warned, making the Beast shut up and look annoyed. He remained silent for the remainder of the journey, not willing to jeopardise his chances of becoming human again. The others also remained quiet, allowing Aladdin to concentrate on the shapes that appeared in the mud. It was important that they ended up in the right place because if they followed the wrong shapes and ended up not where they were expected, bad things could happen. He had been tasked with keeping Belle safe and he was going to do that, no matter what it took.

The sky was dark by the time they approached a tunnel and stopped. "We have to travel through here to the other side," he said, gesturing for Belle to go first.

However, she just raised an eyebrow at him. "We have to crawl through this mud to get to the other side and you want me to go first? No, you can go before me." She wasn't too keen on travelling through mud in the first place so she was less than thrilled to discover that she had to crawl through it in order to get to wherever it was that Aladdin was taking them - that is, if he was actually taking them somewhere.

Aladdin got on his knees and crawled through the tunnel first, with Belle following after him when a few seconds had passed and Gaston close behind her. Beast was the one to take up the rear and because of his physical build being bigger as a beast, he had to hunch down even further to be able to pass through the tunnel without getting stuck. Luckily they weren't in there for a long time and before they knew it, the tunnel was opening up to reveal a hidden underground room that appeared to be overrun with vegetation. There was a man stood just before the exit, dressed in nothing but a loincloth which made Belle cough into her hand in shock when she saw him. He looked like he did not belong in the kingdom, or maybe even this world. Belle thought Aladdin was uneducated but this new man was worse.

"You're late," he mumbled when Aladdin climbed to his feet.

"But we're here now." The man nodded and walked through the leaves that were behind him, revealing that they covered an opening into what appeared to be a room that made up a home. There was a woman sat on one of the cushions in the room who rose when they entered. She was dressed better than the man but still in clothing that was not the norm for women in the kingdom.

The woman smiled at Aladdin. "We thought you might have gotten lost," she said, surprising Belle with how she spoke better than the man did. "But come, Belle, I must prepare you." She grabbed Belle's wrist and led her away from the men and towards another leaf curtain that separated their current room with the other.

"Prepare me for what?" she questioned as they stepped through the leaves and into what was revealed to be a bedroom. The woman went through a box that was sat against one of the walls and produced a black piece of cloth that Belle realised was a pair of trousers.

"Did he not tell you?" Belle shook her head which made the woman gesture for her to sit on one of the other boxes that lined the wall. "He told you that you are in danger, yes?"

Belle frowned. "But I do not believe that I am."

"That is normal," she was reassured as the women pulled out a black top from the same box before putting the lid down and sitting on it, facing her. "But your King is the one that you are in danger from."

For a moment Belle was in shock, unable to believe that the King who did not know her and she only knew as the ruler of their kingdom was the one who Aladdin was trying to protect her from. Then she remembered what her father had told her before. "He is not the rightful ruler of Larue?"

The woman smiled. "You catch on quickly. Not many people know that, and those that do find themselves forgetting about it because there is nothing that they can do in order to change that. The King makes certain of that and even if many people decide to uprise, there will be deadly consequences for them. The King cannot be beaten by just anyone - only one person can defeat him. You."

"Me?" she exclaimed.

"You are not ready quite yet, and there is a lot of information that you must know, but yes, you are the prophesied one who will restore Larue to its rightful ruler."

Belle laughed, unable to believe what this strange woman was saying. If this was what Aladdin believed as well then he must be crazy too. There was no way she could go up against the King and really, why would she? "Prophesied one?"

"Among a small amount of people, like Aladdin and me, we knew of a prophecy spoken about long ago. It was said long before the King came into rule by a seer that no one believed at the time."

"What makes you so certain that this 'prophesied one' is really me? What if it is another girl that was proclaimed a traitor for participating in witchcraft?" she protested, feeling like she was in one of the books that belonged to her mother. However, none of the characters in those books were made to suffer through people like the Beast.

The woman tapped her eyes. "Because Aladdin was given a vision of you. That is why we must prepare you as best as we can, because you shall be the one that kills the King in order to bring peace to Larue."