Chapter 22:

A Taste for Blood

The Wanderblood Princess and Sir Try Hard

It was strange how much the mind could recall, even after years of absence and nature’s overgrowth.

Caramello Schichttorte had never been fond of his home. Gazing upon it only made the mark on his hand sting, even though it was a relic of another time, many years ago. But as he walked through the empty buildings, blanketed with weeds, a faint whisper sounded in his ears.

“Worthless… incompetent… unfit…”

Years of conditioning on a child left a grave impact, even when no person alive was left to utter such things. But even then, he would rather they be simply echoes. As he passed by some rundown kitchen that used to feed tens of people, his hands floated before him, as if he were carrying a tray. Quickly, he forced them down.

Thoughts of how unkempt his surroundings were invaded his mind. An open field where the grass became wild rested before him, but his feet stopped right before it, like a natural barrier existed. He had been told often enough not to bother those who practiced their gifts, that which he had none of.

Talent was everything to the Schichottorte Clan. Blessings that were bestowed upon people gave them a sense of purpose, and with that, superiority. Even if they possessed no title, there was always hope – success bred opportunity. And they had a trump card as well.

Until the Princess murdered everyone.

Perhaps, it was their own fault, for taking such drastic measures. The Gods punished them for their ambition. But a simple servant who possessed none of those same lofty goals could hardly understand what they were thinking.

Because he possessed no gifts, Caramello carried none of the same hopes.

Failures weren’t allowed to dream; they merely served those that could.

He approached a building, completely torn apart in the past. Only the stone foundation was left standing, a set of stairs leading down to a dark abyss. Caramello drew a deep breath and took a step downward, only to back away. A torn and battered body flashed before him. He had no business there. Not anymore.

Instead, he turned and walked towards the ruins of another building. One could tell at a glance that it used to be important, what remained of its marbled wall was masoned with great care. Unlike those purely built by hand, a sense of magic emitted from its fine features, difficult to imitate without special tools.

The inside would have been no less majestic, if a disaster had not befallen here. A house of worship to the gods warranted such lavishness. Even in ruin, Caramello could still feel a sense of piety return to him as he entered.

It was here where it all began – his long goal that spanned many years, the forced burden of his people as the last member of his clan, and the whispers of revenge that clouded his thoughts.

Only when no one else remained was he called upon. All the others who flaunted their abilities had been slain, so even a servant had to do. The eyes of his father, his mother, and his brother – they finally turned back towards him as the claws of death hovered over. He was finally needed. He was the only one left that could do it. And in a moment of despair, he was given the chance to.


He turned around, at the single voice that broke the silence of a dead village. Long, golden tresses tossed in the wind. Emerald eyes shone and brows furrowed. A pair of hands trembled as they held a giant mallet, its head pointed straight at him.

How her appearance seemed to move Caramello’s heart – he hated to admit it. Those gullible eyes and gentle demeanor belied the ferociousness that he had always suspected of her. The way her mouth hung in surprise at his antics made him want to capture her in a completely different way. Not as intended, not as planned. He was inclined to look away from such brilliance.

Princess Chiffon’s attention was fully on the one who kidnapped and nearly murdered her. Her stance spoke of revenge but tinged with hesitation. After spending so much time observing her, he knew. Embers of feelings toward him raged on, even now. Even with what he had done to her. He chuckled at such naivety unbefitting of a ruthless killer.

Crimson was truly a fitting color for her. The coating of blood on her that day was still vivid in his memories. He had never lied on that point. How her beauty burned brightly, especially when it consumed the lives of others. And now, she was decked out in red, diving into the paints of battle even before it started.

Once again, he found himself enchanted for an instant before speaking.

“Your memory has returned, I take it. Seeing as you found yourself here.”

“I can think of nowhere else you would be, Caramello. Not after you have done so much to make me remember this dreaded place. Do you plan to drive me further into madness? Is this another one of your schemes to confuse me? Why didn’t you kill me when you had the chance?

Caramello simply smirked. Among the backdrop of a ruined temple, where it was not the first time they had met, he truly looked like a villain revealed.

“I told you already, Princess. You interest me. From the very start, not in the castle courtyard as you listlessly gaze upon men vying for your attention. But within these very walls, this town that we stand upon. Do you remember me saying this to you?”

Caramello drew his sword and approached her. His normally sharp tone cut into her as if priming his next strike.

“Will you kill me too, Princess?”

The image of a bloody Chiffon, almost too young to understand what she had done, filled his gaze. Thin and weary, like the wind could knock her over at any moment. Yet, the girl raised a heavy iron bar above her head, possessing a will far beyond her fragile frame. In his eyes, she was a monster, possessing the discriminating power that made her different from the boy who had nothing.

And in her madness, eyes glowing red like the devil, she uttered a single response.

“Of course.”

The weapon came down upon the boy, the very same one that had cracked open dozens of heads, crushed bones, and extinguished the lives of all he knew. The one that promised to end his unfortunate life as well. He didn’t mind at all.

The image of the grown-up princess holding a mallet above her head felt nearly the same. The sense of nostalgia brought a chill down his spine. He was only standing here now because she had not followed through for some reason.

He awoke next to piles of bodies, all in a ditch. By then, the Princess was long gone. Caramello went around and searched for any signs of life, but he soon realized that only he had survived.

And ever since that day, Caramello knew. One of them had to die.

“Yes! I was the one who you spared that day! Your naïve mercy coming back to haunt you! What, did you think that sparing a single boy was justice? When you killed every other person in the entire town! I thought that I’d simply return the favor. Because I could see it in your eyes, Princess. You would chase after me. You would fight me. And here I am! On equal grounds at each other’s throats!”

When Chiffon offered her life to him, Caramello had a sudden revelation. Her surrender did not bring him any bit of joy. His revenge didn’t feel complete if she merely turned herself over to him.

No, I want to see that same fury as that day!

No matter how much the voices howled at him, regardless of the commands that he was trained to be obedient to, a feeling sprung from within. He had an utmost desire to see her again.

The girl bathed in red that captured his unending attention. All the effort he put into manipulating her, it was all so that he could see her true self. The masks of elegance and daintiness didn’t suit her one bit. But rather, the passion, the determination – her raw, untamed self was who his vengeance was aimed towards.

“Fight me, Chiffon!”

Caramello’s sword sliced upwards, meeting Chiffon’s hammer blow. The resulting clang shook the area around them.

“I will come at you with the power of my people!”

Another slash, so heavy that Chiffon instinctively knew to back away. She could see it in his eyes, the weight of several people overlapping his existence. They were the ones that she had slain, ones with a connection to Caramello.

While he had found no one among the living in the village, he did not come up empty handed. The souls of a few clung to him, dragging him down and keeping him from leaving the ditch. Their whispers spoke of the same thing.

“Get revenge.”

“Fight for us.”

“Our last champion.”

Three clones left Caramello’s body, all with their weapons aimed right for Chiffon. One shot forward, much faster than the rest. It smacked her left leg, knocking her off balance.

Mother – Blessing of Swift

As Chiffon bobbled her next swing, another Caramello twirled his blade elegantly and caught the backside of her mallet head. With a flick of the wrist, the weapon was disarmed from her grip, twirling in the air before landing to the ground.

Father – Blessing of Adeptness

The third clone went right for her throat, tracing an arc so forceful that Chiffon believed her head would come clean off. However, her status as a Royal saved her, blunting the attack to an impact that merely stung her eyes from the pain.

Brother – Blessing of Giants

It took her several seconds to recover as she gagged from being hit. In that time, the other clones doubled back, slicing at her, tearing her dress and drawing blood. As she looked up, Caramello, his real body, brought his sword down menacingly.

Chiffon rolled away, just in time for the blade to strike the ground and cause it to crack. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The weight of his combined familiars would have surely killed her if she had not moved.

This was the result of the Schichttorte forbidden technique. Many people’s abilities syphoned into one – their champion.

Caramello had no choice in the matter. He was the only one left. And as such, the souls of those closest to him forged a pact with his body, ignoring that he was a failure. For the next six years, these familiars became his overseers, tormenting him with their whispers, training him to be a champion in their place.

Day and night, he did what they all would have done in life, preparing for the day when revenge against their murderer was possible. And Caramello could not deny any of it. He was a servant, a reject of Schichttorte who lived out his life to serve others. The commands may have been different, but they were orders nonetheless.

All he could do was laugh, along with the other voices, as they finally had their moment to shine. His familiars pounced upon her, shaving away at her body, riddling her dress with cuts that barely hid drawn blood from skin underneath.

With four Caramellos moving differently all around her, Chiffon barely had any time to react to them. She only dodged when they all recombined into one focused strike.

Caramello put on a grin. Finally, all of his efforts had come down to this moment. His heart pounded as red splattered upon Chiffon’s body, this time her own blood. He reached out, wondering if this would make him satisfied. He would tear his own heart out, if only the pain would subside. But strangely, he found his hand trembling, the one that bore the mark.


Chiffon suddenly perked up. Swinging a fist brutishly at one familiar, the unexpected attack crushed it like a fly. The clone exploded into a bloody heap before melting into magic and dissipating into the air.

With eyes glowing red, she practically howled as fresh blood graced her. She slapped at the next familiar, wild and devoid of any elegance. It was like she finally snapped, giving her a second wind and breaking down all hesitation. With her bare hands, she finally grabbed ahold of the next, ripping him in half like drumsticks on a pheasant.

The last one moved away in a panic, but Chiffon was too fast. She caught him by the collar and pulled him back. Bringing up her knee, she slammed it into its unguarded back, snapping his spine clean. She bent down to sink her teeth into it, before looking up to realize who her real target was. The haunting image of Caramello’s clone folded unnaturally in half lingered for a moment before the magic holding its form burst and dissipated.

Like the devil that he saw all those years ago, Chiffon looked at him with her true self.

“Finally awake, it seems,” Caramello said, unshaken by his clones being slaughtered.

“Enough of fighting ghosts! I came for you, Caramello!’

Chiffon dove forward, like a beast. Her hand clawed the air, sending gusts of wind that made Caramello flinch, even as he dodged out of her reach. Quickly, he chopped downward, but Chiffon raised both arms to block. Sharp metal met with skin, leaving a light wound that dribbled blood as she held the weapon back. Her blessing didn’t allow it to penetrate flesh.

Caramello tried again and again, but he no longer carried the strength from before. She had done away with them. Without that, he was just another commoner with fancy sword skills. And just as his spirit waned and the thoughts of revenge shriveled the slightest bit, Chiffon let out an unearthly roar.

Her body lunged forward. A swing of her fist hit the flat of his blade and shattered it. In the next moment, Chiffon had him by the collar and slammed him to the ground. Now, she was mounted on top of him, ready to end it.

Still, the smile on Caramello’s face never left. In fact, it grew even wider.

“Promises must be kept. Duties fulfilled.”

He didn’t care the slightest if she had heard him. Regardless, she pinned him by the hands. Her grip nearly crushed his wrists. The red glare grew closer and closer as he could feel Chiffon’s ragged breath upon him. He would finally see the end after six long years.

An instant after her eyes slipped past his vision, a set of teeth tore into his neck.