"Inner Beauty" by Frank Propst

this is a story I wrote for my creative writing class. Our goal was to write an interesting story that had an obvious meaning behind it.

Chapter 1

(it's only a short story so it doesn't really have chapters)

The village was under attack and they were no match for the raw strength of the conquerors. The barbarians pillaged the small village, taking their food and things of value, enslaving their women and slaughtering the warriors and children. The leader of the group was a savage warrior dressed in the leathers and furs they had stolen and wore the strongest and most formidable armor out of all in his tribe; none dared contest against him. He looked around and the strong smell of the vanilla incense drew his attention to a certain area of the village where he saw a particular purple tent that peaked his interest. It was the hut of a mystical fortune teller and shaman. He stepped in through the slit in the curtains and saw a beautiful young woman putting things in an old wooden box. She saw the gruff man give her a sinister smile. His teeth were as yellow as the rat urine used in her potions. She panicked and tried to run but ended up tripping and knocking over a table with very gnarly substances. Rotten fish eyes and severed lizard tails fell to the floor.
The room now went from smelling like sweet vanilla to rancid, decaying meat. She fell to the floor with a thud, injuring her leg, frantically scrambling across the rug to escape. The barbarian had her by the ankle preventing her from getting away. She quickly grabbed an old broken chicken bone from off the floor and pierced the brute’s hand. “Filthy witch!” he yelled, “I would have let you live out your days as my slave but now you will experience pain like none you have ever imagined!” He snatched her by the arm and quickly pulled her up off the floor, dislocating her arm in the process. He threw her against a shelf like a rag doll, the force of her body knocked over many of her potions and ingredients onto the floor. He picked her up and bent her over a counter. Tears were rolling down her face while she heard the loud unclipping of his belt. He dropped his pants as she screamed in horror. The tears continued to rush down the side of her cheek.
“Oh hush now little girly there aint no need to cry now, we haven’t even gotten to the fun part yet. Let me wipe them tears from that pretty face” he took a dagger from his vest and placed it against her face and slid the blade across her cheek, carving out a thin layer of her skin as she screamed in pain. “There see, isn’t that better now? Look how much more beautiful you look without those tears” he said laughing as he yanked her head up by her hair and shoved her face into a nearby mirror. He pulled up his pants, knelt down and looked her in the eye “Maybe next time you should look into your crystal ball and find out what could happen before ya do somethin’ stupid.”
“You do all this because it makes you feel more powerful, knowing I can’t stop you gives you some sick sort of pleasure” she clenched her hands into fists, gripping some of the ingredients that spilled on the rug. She began screaming at the barbarian. “You fiend, your greed knows no bounds; you care only for yourself and your hunger for wealth and power is never satisfied. I would have them be your end” she said in a menacing voice as she grabbed some black powder and flung it into the man’s eyes.
The back powder turned gold as the words of her incantation began to echo and distort. The barbarian saw a hideous face with deformed bone structure, whose flesh was peeling off piece by piece. And the image shattered into bits and shards which reverted into the dust that engulfed him. His eyes were stinging and he had a foul taste in his mouth and as his words passed through the gaps in his teeth he could feel his stomach turning like the winds of hurricanes across the oceans. He began vomiting profusely, spewing chunks of crimson covered in a black oil like ooze from deep within him. “What have you done to me?” He asked wincing in pain.
“The world will know your evil and those who pass you can see your black heart uncloaked in the light of day.” He gasped for breath struggling to stay on his feet. “This cannot-” he began choking on his words. “I’ll be d_mned if I let you get away!” he managed to cough out. “Fool! You are d*mned! Your greatest pleasure will bring you a kind of suffering few men have ever known” replied the fortune teller willing to sacrifice the pain a smile would cause her exposed flesh. “I’ve had enough of you b_tch!” he staggered across the room to her and grabbed her by the throat stopping the foul air from reaching her lungs. He held her up with her feet dangling like the tassels on her dress as her wind pipe was slowly crushed. He threw her to the floor and lifted his boot and as he was about to step over her corpse he heard a raspy breath escape the body followed by “You’ll wish your fate would have been mine.” He raised his foot higher and slammed it down as hard as he could. He stepped away dragging his feet so he could scrape her brains off on the floor.
He fell to his knees outside and his comrades rushed to help their leader. One man stuck out his hand to pull him up but as their hands clasped the skin on his hand came off like a glove. The men were frightened by this occurrence but more frightened of what would happen to them if they refused to help. Pieces of skin were falling off of him, rumors began to circulate that he was a leper and he should be quarantined but they could not stop him he was too strong. He ended up killing some of the soldiers who had once respected and looked up to him. Yet it made him feel good about himself, even in his damaged state he was still far stronger than anyone. He demanded that if anyone dare attempt to turn on him again he would not be so lenient. He was only weak in his first few weeks of his condition, he went through tremendous pain but he was still as strong as ever. The rumors that he was a leper had subsided but not for good reasons.
As the years went by the changes occurred less frequently and were less severe but within a mere four years his bones had become misshapen, crooked as a tree hit by lightning. Certain areas of his skull had become concave; he had only six teeth left, a small number even for barbarians of his age. He could no longer fully open one of his eyes and his brow extended as far as his nose would have if it was still there. He was just as powerful and fearless as the day it all began, perhaps even stronger but no one looked up to him and he had lost all the respect of everyone who had ever revered him. It was horrible for him; he had lost his pride and became an abomination. As he lost the respect he lost his pride, the main thing that brought him joy and began to prey upon the weak more. He no longer had that high power over his comrades so he tried to get the same feeling of superiority by using violence but every time he would make contact with anything the exposed flesh made him experience a sting like a whip lashing him. Every time he inflicted pain on someone he felt just as much if not more.
Eventually he did become weak; after the curse had made him lose almost every slither of skin he had it affected his major muscles and even had trouble walking let alone fighting. The tips of his fingers slowly were worn to bone and much of the rest of his body. His organs would hang out on display like a fancy sculpture in front of a castle of bone. He attempted to die but the curse would not allow it, a blade through the heart and it was still beating, it defied nature, he was immortal for the time being but could do nothing with it, any able bodied man with such immortality would have unimaginable wealth and power but his constant pain and immobility made it impossible. Not even starvation could end his misery he lay there for years with nothing to eat but his body still functioned better than one in its condition could.
He lay there surrounded by piles of his own flesh that were attacked by many a creature who walked by but even the rats ran away after just a small taste of his toxic flesh. A decade after that day and he looked back on it and remembered the face he saw in the golden dust and a woman walked by him with an empty silver platter. His reflection was a mirror image of the face he had seen ten years earlier. Just then he started to cry, he had not been able to do so for years but this instant he knew they were rolling down his cheek bones. A soft female voice echoed in his head “Let me wipe them tears from that pretty face” he could feel something pushing the remaining flesh off of his face leaving nothing but clean bone. His eyes looked around frantically and saw nothing; they moved faster and faster until they just popped out of their sockets and his brain turned to mush and seeped out of his nose and mouth.

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