Chapter 5:

A Sour Awakening

The Wanderblood Princess and Sir Try Hard

Eyes fluttered open, long lashes like the wings of a butterfly unfurling. A gentle brightness streamed into the room, its soft glow blanketing the sheets with its warmth. The morning was welcoming. A new day began, leaving all traces of the night before like dewdrops dissolving into the air.

Chiffon couldn’t wait to step out and greet it. She tossed the covers aside and bounced to her feet, bounding immediately to the window to kiss the sun. The noise of town activity filtered into her ears as she opened the latch. Rhythmic clamor stirred up a heart full of anticipation, of adventure, and of freedom.

She spun on her heels, almost leaping toward her wardrobe, ready to tear off her garments for something that fluttered in the wind. That was her mood at the present, ready to dance upon clouds as her mallet swirled around at her foes.

The wooden door opened with a creak before she flipped through a rack of clothing, pulling out a pink ensemble that was heavy on the frills. And as Chiffon excitedly drew an arc in the air with it, the pink was interrupted by something black in the background.

She blinked twice and tilted her head at that moment. Black didn’t belong in a room full of pastels and shimmers. She forbade its presence-


The clothes hanger and dress fell from her grip as her eyes no longer were obstructed. A man, dressed black and blue, was leaning against the far wall of her room.


A tremendous explosion tore through the castle, followed by a shockwave that could be felt throughout. It seemed like the day was already off to an exciting start.

A group of servants and guards rushed to the scene, their synchronized steps tapping in rhythm all the way to the Princess’s room. Even in haste, their crisp movements spoke volumes of their level of training. Certainly, they would not have let an uninvited guest approach on their watch.

Crowding around the doorway, they were met with a normally composed girl now delirious, as well as the scent of dew drifting past them along a gentle breeze.

“Why, why, why are you in my room?!”

“As your protector. A protector protects, does he not?” The voice replying seemed to have stolen all the calm normally held by the girl.

“Yes, I mean, no! I mean, why were you standing there, spying on me changing? You creep!”

“You hadn’t said anything of the sort. And I would have at least done the courtesy of going ahem­ to grab your attention had you started to. Even a person selected as your watch should not be privy to a maiden’s supple bare skin without permission.”

The servants and guards looked back and forth as the two quarreled. Apparently, Princess Chiffon had completely forgotten about Sir Caramello’s acceptance as her knight-in-training. Or rather, she bid adieu to the annoyance of such a man for the rest of the day, leaving the ceremonies to the King and Queen. Meanwhile, she submerged herself in warm bath water and cleansed her mind of the embarrassment.

After the rage settled from her body, Chiffon would often fall into a vacant state, letting whatever fancies that suited her mood placate her wounded soul. That had become so much of a routine that she couldn’t be bothered to remember the little details of what went on during the madness. Or rather, her mind defaulted to wiping the smears clean like the polishing of fine china. It wouldn’t do to let any remnants stain the perfection that her practiced poses gave off in public.

But in this case, she had brushed off any directives for Sir Caramello to begin shadowing the Princess. Such orders were approved by her parents and were set to begin the next day.

“And how does sneaking into my room and invading my privacy count as a duty of my protector?!”

Chiffon was visibly upset, enough so that a giant hole in her room now decorated it. Her bracelet had been ripped off in a panic. Her unrestrained fist had collided with the wall where Caramello stood before. The man himself was unharmed, nonchalantly shrugging off the Princess’s accusations, much to her chagrin.

Caramello’s current attire had been one reason that Chiffon thought that he was an intruder, as he had discarded the garments of a servant for a proper uniform. With a form-fitting white shirt and black vest, and black slacks to match, Caramello looked like a new person. The dark blue overcoat that hung loosely around his body would be stylish if she weren’t too angry to notice. If Chiffon had focused on his boyish face, rather than the colors that clashed with her décor, she would have recognized him quick enough to prevent the commotion.

“I believe I knocked before I entered. But seeing as you were deep amidst your slumbering, cuddling sweetly against soft pillows like an adorable kitten, I settled for merely standing guard until Your Highness stirred.”

Caramello shot a cheeky grin, obviously guilty of his own wrongdoing, but with a childish innocence of meaning no harm. Such an expression gave off a certain charm, a dandyish bravado that was rare amongst commoners. Combined with his good looks, a few of the maids of the castle felt flushed at the sight.

Chiffon, on the hand, was not amused. But having the sense to reequip her magic bracelet first, she settled for a healthier and more economical method of taking out her frustrations on him – something cute and dainty, as her title allowed.


A stuffed animal bounced off the raven hair of Caramello, poofing the locks on one side. While the playful fury of a normal princess scorned was not done purposefully on account of him, he found it nonetheless darling. Somehow, he had completely forgiven the explosive power of cannon fire directed at him not long ago, or perhaps, he simply expected such surprises after the Princess had revealed her true self. Regardless, a teasing smile never left his face.

That punch thrown in haste had been a mistake. She wasn’t normally violent with people that she disliked, keeping such barbarism chained to her thoughts. But she had been caught by surprise. And while Sir Try Hard got on her nerves even worse after this stunt, it was unbecoming of her to use force to get him to leave. A person of her upbringing was expected to use words.

“As you can clearly see, I am awake now! State your business and be on your way! I would like to get the day started, if you don’t mind!”

Chiffon’s words were sharp and abrasive, but her anger was slowly being dialed back. She had to remind herself that he wasn’t some servant already trained and filled to the brim with expectations thrust upon him. The man had just barely taken up residence here. So, like a child being reprimanded, she pointed her finger out the door, bidding him to do his business and leave.

“Very well. I can see that I’m not needed at the time.” Caramello nodded. “However, I have been told to perform to the best of my abilities, and I simply cannot think of any way to do so unless I stay within view. Granted, I will gladly turn the corner to respect your privacy when asked.”

“I-, j-just go! Outside, now! I’m changing. Get a clue!”


Caramello snapped his fingers and pointed at her with a grin, heading for the exit with measured steps. The servants and guards parted to let him pass, all the while staring at the scene before them. They snapped out of their stupor when the Princess shot them similar looks of annoyance, quickly shuffling out to continue their business. The only one that remained behind was Catherine, who simply had a smug grin of amusement on her face as she shut the door.

Catherine was rather close to Chiffon, having raised her since she was born. She was one of the few people that Chiffon knew teased with good intentions. And the face before her spoke volumes that this was one of those times.

“Quite the character, isn’t he?”

“Do you have to ask, Catherine?”

“Of course, I do. Since I’ll be seeing him regularly from now on.”

“Ugh, aren’t personal knights supposed to be… more chivalric and tending to my needs? I simply do not understand why Mother and Father approved of such a person.”

Chiffon tore her dress from the hanger with a bit of spite. She needed to brush off her anger on something, and that was currently in her hands. Certainly, she had to get it out of her system before her mallet was in hand. A few wrinkles were easier ironed than cracked floors.

“Well… all I can say is to maybe give the lad a chance. From what I heard, he didn’t even sleep in his quarters last night, spending the entire time conversing with everyone he could find to learn more about our lovely Princess.

Chiffon paused while checking her hair in the mirror, tilting her head back toward Catherine.

“He… didn’t sleep?”

That man couldn’t have been that excited to be her knight, could he? But then again, he was becoming more and more like the very nickname that she gave him, Sir Try Hard.

“Why, he even had a little notebook to jot down every minute detail that caught his fancy.”

“Please tell me that you didn’t say anything embarrassing. The last thing I need is for a man with no sense of tact to partake in such secrets. They would soon become drunken slanders among the taverns.”

“My lips are sealed for the moment, but I cannot speak for the others.” Catherine brought a finger to her lips, the impish gesture warning Chiffon to be wary of her surroundings. “At the very least, the only sounds that came from your room when I passed by earlier was a twin set of snoring.”

“Snoring!? I don’t-” Chiffon’s eyes flew open wide. Caramello was also asleep?

Standing against the wall off to one side, could exhaustion have overtaken tension upon entering the room? Perhaps, he hadn’t been merely standing there to spy on her. He could have slumbered upright and not noticed her stirrings until the very moment she noticed him.

Chiffon fiddled with a piece of her hair, the curly and unbrushed locks bouncing lightly with each stroke. She hardly noticed when Catherine stood behind her with a hairbrush to smooth out the tangles. Her touch was calming, like what she believed a gentle mother’s would feel like. Chiffon didn’t know much aside from the books she read. Her care was completely through the servants, while Mother took on the role of an instructor instead.

“Any man would fall head over heels for the chance to become your knight. Enough to forget his bearings and completely overdo things. From what I heard, the first impression that you gave him wasn’t exactly your shining best either.”

Chiffon nodded. He had experienced the ugly side of her from the very start. Her inner tendencies of rage were normally kept secret and in check. Plenty of rumors were spread through the kingdom; they normally depicted her as the very image of a sheltered princess that playfully whacked at monsters. Only, those cheery strikes from dainty arms shook the countryside and obliterated beasts. Citizens of the kingdom forgave such displays of violence, as style and grace were fitting illusions to misdirect. Such effortless strength was like a source of pride in their own kingdom.

But Caramello was met with raw ferocity, wishing for nothing but to split his head open. A normal man would have been scared off when faced with that. But he had shown an even deeper interest instead, going so far as to kiss the filthy hand that craved for his blood.

“What a weird man.”

“To complement a similarly weird princess, no?”

“Fine… I’ll give him a chance. I just don’t want his death to be hanging over me.”

Chiffon didn’t like dwelling on morbid things. Her head was reserved for the cute and delicious things in life, balancing out the necessities of elegance and moderation as required of her. Her stomach seemed to agree on that point, choosing that time to grumble shamelessly.

“Then, go on. Let the man step inside your comfort zone. It will be far easier than shooing him off every time he appears.”

Chiffon hated when Catherine was right, which she often was. It was a lemon slice hidden in her tea. The first sip caused her to pucker her lips in discontent. But the sharp jab to her senses was an awakening to clear the fog in her mind at times. She chalked it up as a lapse in judgment, leaving the room briskly to get over it.

Catherine was left behind. She eyed the hole in the wall and sighed.

“I suppose that isn’t the worst thing she’s done. Time to fetch the masonry workers…”

She was glad to live in a world where such inconveniences could be covered up with a little bit of effort and magic.