The Wanderblood Princess and Sir Try Hard
Days passed by, with Caramello’s words proving true. Whether she was strolling through the castle or on some adventure slaying beasts, Caramello was right behind her, sword at the hip, prepared as ever to sweep her out of harm’s way. But Chiffon proved – she was strong enough to be her own protector. She wouldn’t give him the excuse he needed to worm his way closer.
Yet, every time she turned to glance at him, her gaze was reflected in his eyes. He was always at the ready, like a puppy waiting for a command from his master. And when she had no orders to give, he would then turn to his notebook, jotting down memos.
Chiffon wondered, Just what was so fascinating about her?
His devotion was like an obsession. From sunup to sundown, he tailed her like paparazzi looking for juicy tidbits to print to the masses. And taking advantage of such proximity to her constantly, he gave off an aura that implied that he was up to no good.
“How much longer are you going to probe me, Sir Try Hard?! It’s been nearly a week already! At this point, I have no more secrets to hide!”
“Perhaps, but one cannot be too thorough… a game of chess takes a while to learn, and even longer to read your opponent,” Caramello said, still engrossed in writing.
“So, you’re trying to predict my actions now, are you? Waiting for that one moment where you can sneak in and prove your worth to me? I’m not falling for it again. Now that I don’t have anything to hide, you won’t be seeing any more slip-ups any time soon.”
Certainly, the only reason that she had failed so badly on the first day had been her reservations toward him. Tact was not something that worked on a man such as Sir Caramello, as she quickly learned. It was better to bludgeon him with her intentions, stab him with her speculations, and put her foot down as needed. He was a man that required firmness.
The following week went by smoothly as a result, with Sir Caramello giving her no more lip than the occasional brushed-off jest. Her routine had returned to normal, and she was quite proud of herself for developing selective hearing when it came to verbal jabs aimed to rile her up.
“If one can find prolonged amusement in an opponent over a simple game, then just imagine how an entire livelihood would capture me so!”
Smooth talker, shameless and shallow.
Chiffon continued about her day, letting such words be dusted off by the wind. She was feeling rather swell at the moment, having finished off an entire horde of Wooly Bears that threatened the hives of Moldonia. Gifts of honey pies and preserved fruits in honey lingered in her mind, a little extra for the next visit that made the task all the more worth it.
But then, she recalled. It was a day of respite. The end of the week had crept up on her before she knew it. Her feet immediately pivoted and broke into a dash. Not bothering to tell the tailing Caramello her destination, she galloped through the streets of the capital, holding her long skirt up. Taking a moment to rip the bracelet restraining her powers off, her body suddenly became a blur.
When she wanted to be, she was swifter than any horse-drawn carriage, nimbler than fairies zipping through the forest, and with a leap, even the height of buildings were hopscotch.
Chiffon rode the wind freely, letting it flow around her dress. Chasing after desire, it was these moments of freedom that Chiffon didn’t want to let go. Having a knight in company merely slowed her down.
A normal man, a commoner, couldn’t fly like she could. She resisted the gravity of this world that wished to ground her, shackled and weighed down from expectations of courtesy.
It’s his fault anyway! Holding such attitude! I will leave him in the dust for that!
Excuses upon excuses piled up in her mind. She should have run off in the first place, but her sensibilities kept her from indulging on such a whim. Manners and conduct, by the book, ingrained upon her as the Princess. They served as a counterbalance to her voracious side.
But now, her stomach howled. The pangs of hunger reminded her of the weekly ritual. Already, her mouth was watering from a whetted appetite. Thoughts of gorging herself one day of the week pervaded her senses.
She could smell it. She could taste it.
Her feet stopped before a small building, the abruptness kicking up a wind that disturbed those standing around. Their eyes widened only momentarily before acknowledging the frequent visitor.
“Oh? I was wondering where you were going in such a rush. How childish of you to leave me behind.”
Chiffon flipped around in surprise, seeing Caramello right behind her. She was about to ask how he caught up, until she recalled his unique ability. It wasn’t a stretch to keep up if he moved with the speed of multiple men. At least, enough not to lose sight of her.
“Is it wrong to have favorites? Even a Royal enjoys the pleasures that this kingdom offers.”
“With all the treats and gifts that the common folk grace you with, I am surprised that you have room for more.”
“This is special! Nothing else can match it in the entire kingdom! The perfect indulgence for a weary week gone by!”
Caramello bent over and gazed into her eyes. Chiffon felt a blush creeping onto her face as his lips whispered lightly.
“I see… a heart mended by cake. How plain and girly. But suitable for the sugar-coated life that you live.”
Sugar-coated life? she wanted to retort, but Caramello grabbed her hand and led her inside before she could.
There were few places that held a glamor that completely blew Chiffon away. She cared not for fancy furnishings nor trinkets placed about a room. If they couldn’t accent her natural beauty or play upon the innocence of her heart, she had no eyes for it.
For that reason, she found herself attracted to the displays in this small shop, discovered one day when she started venturing outside to become stronger. She wished not to be strong like the brutes and sweaty men in armor, but rather, indomitably beautiful. A combination of two extremes, lovely and royal, emphasized by her actions and tastes.
“Would you like one?” a young girl at the counter asked her, nearly the same age as Chiffon. She wore an apron over simple clothing. Chiffon nodded bashfully.
Youthful eyes stared as the tanned foundation of cake was dolled up. Layers upon layers of trim and dressing, brushstrokes of color drawn with care, and a dashing of playful globules. Chiffon was amazed how much decoration could transform a simple treat to the likes of a treasure. By now, the girl before her had transformed into a Muse, handing the finished cake on a crystal plate that was outshined even if it had been made of diamond.
And then, it was time to sample it. At first, it seemed too delicate of a thing to disturb. For the moment that she cut into the miniature cake, its loveliness would be tarnished. But her lips trembled as a tongue swept across it. It was human instinct to devour. So she cut into the thick layer and watched as her fork sunk into the fluffy contents. Lifting the morsel up, crumbles spilled around messily, a sense of guilt forming at her wicked deed. But such fault escaped her mind the moment her mouth closed around the bite.
The dollops of rich cream, the colorful swirls of nonpareils, and syrupy trickles of sweetness – it was heaven in each bite. Her vision swam at its sharpness. So sweet that her teeth almost hurt. But she instantly knew that she wanted more.
Before she realized it, the plate was empty, save for a few remnants that couldn’t be picked up. Her head almost went forward, but then, she bit the naughty tongue that tried to escape its master. Even with a sugar high, a princess’s image she had to maintain.
However, that experience was enough to ensnare devotion from a girl of 14 that had just begun to step forward on her own. Call it an addiction for all she cared. The sweet indulgences paired perfectly with the lavish dresses and bright palettes that she buried herself in.
“Your cake, Princess.” The sweet voice of the Muse called out to Chiffon, setting a plate of cake on the table in front of her. Her looks had barely changed after two years, Chiffon’s memories fondly overlapping with their first encounter.
“I can’t wait, Margaret. If only I could keep you to myself.”
Bubbly, and with fork in hand, Chiffon never forgot to convey her gratitude to the young cake artisan that opened her eyes to a world of delicacy.
“Your compliments are enough for me, Your Highness!”
“No, really! As soon as I am ruler, Court Patisserie will be a title!”
Of course, Chiffon had proposed such to the King and Queen, but they simply disregarded it as a childish whim. They had no need for such specialties that purely catered to the desires of one person. But those were their values, not hers.
As to reward her restraint, she was only allowed for such an indulgence once a week, on the day of respite. That was why she dashed here, unwilling to miss such a ritual even once.
“And for you, Sir Knight.”
Margaret placed another plate with a round mini cake before Caramello, this one catching Chiffon’s gaze even more so than her own.
It was white, a purity that made her grimace. Red sprinkles floated upon that pearly sea, swept in the waves and curls of frosting. Chiffon had always shied away from such a bland tone, simple and devoid of color. She preferred more flair, more frill, and yet…
“Would you like a bite, Princess?” Caramello said, waving his fork in the air toward her. A rude gesture, but knowingly pointed at her with temptation.
Chiffon looked away from the brightness immediately, focusing on the softer hues of her own buttercream, shaped like petals that should be her heart bursting open with joy. But a flick of her fork accidentally flipped one closed.
Her eyes darted back to Caramello’s plate, where he had already cut a slice from it. Her jaw hung open in surprise as the white peeled back to reveal a deep crimson. The cake was bland no longer.
Suddenly, her tongue wished to partake in that forkful that Caramello drew a purposefully wide arc with.
“Red Velvet, a fascinating flavor in my eyes.”
Caramello’s gaze turned to her as he took the bite himself. And then, he dangled another one at her.
“So dark and inviting, like it could absorb all other colors into it. Perhaps, that is why it is paired with white, heavy and rich. To mask the dark undertones, in order to not scare others away. But Princess, don’t you find it enticing?”
Out of reflex, Chiffon bent forward to accept the teasing offer, her answer obvious. Her mouth closed around it, drowning in the rich notes of chocolate and heavy cream. Rather than heavenly, it tasted downright devilish, almost vulgar as the glob rolled down her throat like a weight.
It was unlike anything she had tasted.
If her normal cake caused her to sprout wings, then this one was a dark maze, keeping her confined to the depths.
“I certainly do not shy away from temptations. They are what make us human. A modest coating may escape others’ eyes, but not mine. I partake in its entirety.”
Caramello took a hefty bite, savoring his cake slowly. He leaned over, closer and closer to Chiffon’s face, until all she could see were his eyes. They carried the same inviting hue as the Red Velvet, so much so that she wanted to devour them as well.
And then, Caramello leaned back, his fork carrying a piece of her own cake, which he promptly stuffed into his cheeks before falling back into his chair, carrying himself the same as before.
A shiver ran down Chiffon’s spine and her cheeks were now heated. Realizing that she had been teased once again, she looked down to see a large chunk missing from her plate. Caramello, you thief!
“Hey! I didn’t give you permission to eat mine!”
Anger lifted the fog she was in, now that his betrayal was apparent. Caramello simply smiled, like a devious child that knew not the concept of fault.
And as Chiffon continued to be cross at her companion, Margaret merely sighed at the two, who appeared ideal for each other to be squabbling over such a thing.
But she felt proud nonetheless to have such important guests fighting over the cake that she crafted. That was why she offered such variation, because people’s tastes changed from the smallest of encounters.
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