Yelen & Yelena
Little bit of a departure form my normal fare, but I’m writing a second-world dark fantasy novella(?) called Yelen & Yelena.
It’s the Beauty and the Beast story of my heart, with two aromantic central characters, a curse that can’t be broken, and monster sex. It started off just for fun, but I’m enjoying the worldbuilding so much and exploring the characters, and now it’s atr 37K words and growing. I thought it would be around 40-44K, but it may end up at ~50K, so a short, standalone novel.
I may play more with the concept of a Beast remaining a Beast, as I do have another idea with a character like that – my dark fantasy X-Files idea, which grew from a kernel of a plot into whole episodic character arcs, so I’m not sure what format would be best for it. Perhaps a series of short stories, organised into an episodic anthology. I don’t know though!
Back to Yelen & Yelena: this is a juicy little bite of magic and mayhem in a mercantile world, with feudalism vs capitalism (neither are great systems for my protagonist to live under, as she gets fucked by both in different ways), a 30-something independent laundress who does casual sex work for rent money, amoral dark sorcery, a pandemic of fungal rot, and a 200-year-old monster who can’t face the memory of himself as a man and mainly misses getting laid.
Yelena’s village is dying. A blight creeps over the fields, rents are high, and legends say the dark forest contains a cursed castle from a bygone age, where many travellers have gone missing.
Her grandmother, who claims to be the only girl to escape the castle, spins terrifying tales of the Beast who lives there to frighten the village children; but far from scaring young Yelena, they excite her.
Years later, Yelena is an unwed seamstress, taking her pleasure from passers-through and earning her rent in the process. When she falls foul of a pious merchant’s wife who accuses her of dark sorcery, Yelena flees to the forest to find shelter – and discovers not only the enchanted castle of her grandmother’s stories, but that its master, Yelen, is indeed the Beast of her deepest fantasies. Yelena immediately offers him company and mutual pleasure in return for shelter, but in exploring the castle, its master and the nature of the curse, she discovers something else: the source of the blight that plagues her village and the surrounding farms.
Caught in the epicentre of a curse that’s out of control, can Yelena find a way to give the immortal, abandoned Yelen something worth living for, and stop the rot oozing out of the castle? Or must it end the way all monster stories end, with fire, pitchforks, and heads on spikes?