Long ago, there lived a Count in a house of stone, weeping over lost love. The sound of crashing waves, whistling bluff winds, crackling of flame, only added to the Count's sorrow. His flower, the Lady Gloriana with midnight hair and voice of dusk, was stolen from him. The Duke, in his vanity, told the Count he could wed Gloriana, if he vanquished the Beast of the Swollen Downs, a beast so terrible that its stare turned men to ash.
Arrayed for battle, the Count marched to the wood, reading his fate on every twisted tree. He found the beast, a horrible thing composed of shadow and bone, and struck it with his spear. The sound of metal and bone resounded from town to town. The Count lost, and afterward as he lay in the clutches of the beast's maw, he only heard the sound of his own heart, and he fell into despair.
He heard a voice, like a birdcall, but the pain of his wounds assailed him, and he fainted. When he awoke, the dark Gloriana stood over him, whispering sweet things to him. She had ridden to save him, wounded the beast, and nursed him to the living. She had no desire to marry the Duke, and the two set a plan, to catch the Duke at his own game.
When the Duke heard that his to-be wife Gloriana had fallen to the bite of the Beast of the Swollen Downs, he marched straight to the beast, for it was his creature, his to command. Arriving, he saw the fallen beast, but he had no time to react as both Gloriana and the Count fell upon him, plunging a tooth of the dead beast into him. And so the Duke became a legend, the hero of the downs, the slayer of the shadow beast by his own life. And the Count married Gloriana, and lived a long, quiet, and fruitful life.
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