“The Beast of Truth and Beauty.” It wasn’t so much a statement as it was a sigh of longing, escaping as mist between the parted lips of the specter.

“A thing with a love for Keats, then,” I said.

“Hardly. The Beast is what Keats only glimpsed, dully, through the haze of mortal perception. When he wrote that beauty was truth and truth was beauty, he failed to capture the essential, intertwined, bestial nature of those things.”

“What do you mean?” I said. “It is beautiful and dangerous?”

“You speak of beauty and truth and dangerous beasts as if implying a distinction where one does not exist,” said the spirit. “They are one and the same, trunks from the same roots.”

“I don’t understand,” I muttered. “Can’t you speak plainly?

“What is truth but savagery? The truth is a harsh light that illuminates what you would leave dark. What is beauty but danger? Those that lack it are jealous and those that possess it are covetous. The Beast is those qualities of the wood made flesh.”

I looked at the spirit, its insubstantial form comely as it lingered in the darkness. “How will I know it when I find it?”

“That is why so many have failed. That is why so many have died.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!