Chapter 20:

Even in Death…

The Wanderblood Princess and Sir Try Hard

Chiffon awoke. The sound of metal shackles jingled from her movements. But then, she noticed the presence of another, kneeling before her. A hand touched her neck, warm against her skin but cold with intention.

“Sweet dreams?” a voice asked, straight and to the point.

Her mind screamed for him, and her hand went up to grab his. But it fell limply to her side as she realized that desire overrode her reason. She savored Caramello’s touch, even though she knew it would end in tragedy. Disgust at herself brewed.

He sat before her, examining her soul like those men once did. Caramello was waiting for it too, her will to weaken.

“Do you remember? The feeling of being imprisoned? All alone with no one to turn to, the unsettling darkness sullying your soul and snuffing out your desire to live? I watched you cry, lose your mind and beg for release, but hope still lingers in your heart.”

Time passed by, unmeasurable as to how long. But enough to make her go through several fits of delirium. She hated being alone. She hated the darkness. Enough so that she would even latch onto the very hand that brought her here.

And now, she remembered why. This was the very same as her imprisonment years ago. Caramello had recreated it all just for her.

Her body shot forward as Caramello moved closer, instinctively clutching onto him like she would drown if she didn’t. He removed his hand from her neck and reached down to grip her hand.

“Was it like this, how your hand was held that time? I can tell from the little movements that you make, even in the dark. Your body still wants me, after all this. Because you remember. You remember what it feels like to have nothing, and to reach out for the only thing that is there. I am here for you. The only one remaining, just like how you left me all those years ago.”

Chiffon couldn’t deny it. The shock of reliving such torture, swallowed by the darkness, had released the memories that had been blocked. The only response that she could offer was to nuzzle her cheek against his hand as tears streamed from her eyes.

“Tell me, do you love me?”

Chiffon drew a sharp breath at Caramello’s question but did not answer.

“Infatuated, possibly, but no, you cannot love me. For I do not even love myself. How can I? When the voices of my people clamor on and on about how I don’t bring about revenge swift enough.”

Caramello stroked her cheek gently, like he had done many times before. His eyes looked like they wanted to cry, even as they held a cruelty within them.

“Revenge must be sweet. It must bring joy upon my tongue like the cakes that you so love to devour. It must make me lick my lips afterwards like you do after a taste of my blood. The fact that you hold yourself back means that I am far from satisfied yet.

“Perhaps, some part of me is still holding out, waiting to see if you will give in to me. Or maybe, I simply want to know just how much you would miss me if I left you here all alone, like my clan members did.”

Tears flooded Chiffon’s eyes at the memory. She did not want to suffer such loneliness again. She did not want to be trapped in the darkness, waiting to wither away. Caramello’s care was not to bring comfort to her, but rather, to dangle hope and make sure that she didn’t bite her own tongue and bleed to death.

“Kill me then. And leave my family alone. I was the one that murdered your clan, right? I will give you my life.”

Chiffon could remember it now. The day that the Blessing of Bloodrile awakened within her. She snapped the Shackles of Sealing off like they were nothing. And with two blessings combined, she went on a rampage, murdering everyone in sight.

The crushed skull of the man who laughed at her gave a satisfying crunch. The screams of terror as she tore limbs from the remaining guards and dragged their mutalated bodies across the cobblestone gave her a sense of victory.

It was not until she believed that they were all dead that her tantrum ceased. Her body had bathed in so much blood that her existence was dyed in it. And that had changed her forever. Even if her parents had blocked the memories, the desire for blood remained. Even under layers of posh and prim, her true nature wasn’t quenched.

Caramello stood up, taking a moment to wonder if he should be merciful. And then, he smiled.

“I already have your life in my hands. Why would I give up toying with you so quickly?”

“Then, take my soul. That is what you’ve wanted, right? Leave the kingdom out of it.”

“You promise to be bound to me, letting me use your strength at my command? All to give up on the discrimination my clan faced… Hmm, a tempting offer indeed. I could buy into that.”

Chiffon had decided to face her fate, judged by the very man that stood closest to her. Caramello couldn’t be read at all, neither his desires nor what he planned to do with such power. But there was one thing she refused to let happen.

She did not want to cause another massacre.

Knowing how easily Caramello knew how to push her buttons, she could see that as an end result in his revenge. A naturally destructive princess, brainwashed with love and care – she would be a truly threatening weapon indeed.

But as a familiar, she would have a voice within him. She recalled murmurs of how it worked. The wielder and familiar were bonded in spirit.

Caramello brought out his knife, waving it before her head to see if she would chicken out, but her resolve remained firm. Her one and only love, as twisted as it had become, could claim her life. However, words spilled out of her mouth, a last request.

“Will you hold my hand as I die?”

Caramello reached for her hand, but she moved it away.

“No. Your bare hand. Just like in my memories. I wish to pass holding the hand of one who captured my heart. A consolation prize for never winning against you.”

Chiffon reached over and plucked the glove off Caramello’s hand, but as she clasped it, a familiar texture rubbed across her fingers. Her eyes widened, but before she could say anything, the knife plunged into her stomach. And soon, all she could focus on was the roughness of the back of his hand.

“Remember what I told you before, Princess. You must give no mercy to your enemy. Otherwise, he will stand before you to finish the job. So naïve, just like how you were back then.”

Chiffon prayed that the approaching darkness would be her last.

“Night night, and do not betray yourself next time…”

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