The Wanderblood Princess and Sir Try Hard
It was a certainty that guards would surround them upon setting foot back into the capital. The calm, casual expressions of Chiffon and Caramello contrasted the dire struggle that their appearances suggested. The fact that several hundred armored guards formed a semi-circle outside the entrance demonstrated how grave of an offense attempted murder on a Royal was.
“Stand aside, please,” the Princess spoke gently, like a flower trying to stare down an army.
“We cannot, Your Highness. On orders of the King, we are to apprehend Caramello of the Schichttorte Clan! Danger exists as long as that man is by your side. Any words he has ensnared you with are mere lies!”
Chiffon chuckled against the back of her hand. How amusing it was for them to think that she was a frail girl to be protected, even after all that she had demonstrated. But of course, her mannerisms had been partly to blame.
This was a society where strength and elegance clashed, forcing her to hide one in favor of the other. That was something she wished to change.
A hand grasped her arm, trying to pull her to the safer side, but Chiffon glared at him venomously. In a low howl that made the guard’s hairs stand up, she declared.
“Danger? Him? No, I am the ‘danger’ to look out for.”
In one swift motion, the armored guard was sent flying, shocking all those who saw it. Chiffon’s mallet was raised high and proud. Her eyes glowed red. Anyone could see that she was challenging the king’s authority. Even Caramello’s jaw dropped at that.
“I, Chiffon Baumkuchen, am a Royal. I will stand my ground for what I believe in!”
Slamming her mallet upon the ground, a tremor shook the entire area. The ground underneath their feet cracked and a good portion of the guards were swept into the newly-formed gaps. Unsure of what to do, some of the foolhardy drew their swords and charged to stop her.
But before they could even reach Chiffon, two Caramellos danced on either side of her, knocking down the headstrong foes. The soul of Fragolo joined his friend to protect the girl that opened their hearts. Their raw, vigorous strikes spoke volumes of difference compared to the calculated strokes orchestrated by his family.
Chiffon could see it in their backs – passion, earnestness, and excitement. They were not movements, elegant and refined, to impress. Simply, they both tried hard to do what their hearts asked of them, following the lead of their princess.
In perfect tandem, the two Caramellos weaved around their enemies. If one was blocked, the other would strike. If the other was repelled, the first would counter. There was always an opening no matter which opponent they faced. And for the stronger ones, a combined strike bowled them over.
The guardsmen were flabbergasted. Never did they imagine that the Princess and her kidnapper would work together. Any hopes of swarming the two were cut off by a fierce shockwave that rippled along the ground. The princess merely had to walk forward with her wielded mallet to take control of the field.
Seeing that the guards now hesitated in their given task, Chiffon decided to try again.
“Clear the way! I will decide what to do with Sir Caramello! He is my knight to judge, and I will not allow anyone else to interfere!”
This time, half of the remaining guards bowed. Seeing that so many had chickened out, the remaining were pressured to follow. Eventually, there was no longer any left to oppose her.
“Good, take those that fell to the infirmary. They should be fine since I went easy on them.”
Marching past them, Chiffon and Caramello headed for the castle to directly appeal to her father of Caramello’s fate.
“I forbid it. He can no longer be your knight.”
An audience with King Vaniglia and Queen Genoise was prepared immediately. Chiffon pleaded her case to her parents, bringing forth her full memory and Caramello’s entire history. Even with all that was explained, her father stood his ground.
“A member of the Schichttorte Clan cannot be your protector. Even if he is the last one remaining, even if their grudge ended right here and now, this kingdom cannot tolerate it.”
“But why?! I have forgiven Sir Caramello for his misdeeds. They were done in error, guided by souls that sought vengeance,” Chiffon spat in response.
Their argument was becoming so heated that a red glow shone from both their eyes. Caramello shivered. Both King and Princess possessed the Blessing of Bloodrile. If those two were to fight, then it was anyone’s guess how extensive the damage would reach. Not even the Queen could come between them, despite being a Royal herself. Her strength paled in comparison to Royals forged by combat.
“Even if all of us in this room have forgiven him, what of the people outside? What of the kingdom that has clearly heard of his betrayal? What reassurances will they have, knowing that a man with a stained history stands within striking distance of the crown?”
Chiffon was at a loss. She knew exactly what her father meant. One’s public image was a difficult thing to recover. All those years spent, posing as an elegant princess while indulging in brutality in secret – she was guilty of fooling the kingdom. And now that she decided to cast off that mask, here she was, asking for another one to conveniently turn away the truth people held.
She wasn’t being fair. But all the same, this was the one thing that she refused to part with.
“I care for him… for Caramello… for Fragolo… I am still here because of them.”
“And we acknowledge that.” Queen Genoise came down from her throne and embraced Chiffon. “You wouldn’t have resisted as much as you have if it was something to be let go. But we ask you this – what of Caramello’s feelings?”
Chiffon’s eyes widened. She turned to her knight with a look of puzzlement. After a moment, his face lit up in realization as to what the Queen meant.
“Ah, I don’t think I would be able to devote myself to you, not 100%. Not as long as these other voices reside within me. Or perhaps, you find it thrilling to have a knife against your throat. My, my, Princess, finding pleasure in parlaying with your life.”
Chiffon had nearly forgotten about them, and so had Caramello. The vengeful cries of his clan still wished to do her harm. They had merely been silenced temporarily after Chiffon slayed the familiars.
“How long will they stay silent? Can I not just… kill them again each time they reappear?”
Chiffon’s suggestion gave Caramello a chuckle. As much as he wouldn’t be bothered by his family being slaughtered before him time and time again, the very act was cruelty toward the dead. He had more respect than that.
“I would imagine being killed and silenced every eight hours would make their spirits ever so bitter. So much so that I may find myself sleepwalking to your bedside with a sword drawn, limbs held like puppet strings pulled by ghosts. As such, I can see no way to continue. You are better off choosing a different knight instead.”
Caramello would end the hatred here. If he were exiled to some foreign land, never to return, then Chiffon would no longer be in any danger. Fragolo and he would deal with the urges somehow. Perhaps someday, the grudge would fade. Until then, distance between them was best.
“There is truly no other way for you to hold back the clan’s fury against the royal family? Nothing that I can offer to bury the hatchet?”
Chiffon’s innocent words stung Caramello, but he knew better than to indulge in such sweetness. Generations of scorn could not be eased in a heartbeat, no matter how fiercely it throbbed.
“Hatred cannot be healed by love. It must be chipped away gradually with time, forgotten and replaced by better things. The only way to be rid of it is for me to disappear.”
Chiffon’s teary face pulled back, as if the truth stung her.
But then, her jaw went slack, and she turned toward the king.
Chiffon started to say something, but she cut herself off. But the realization on her face tipped off the king and queen to her intentions.
“Yes, that is one way of handling this situation. But only if you can handle the consequences.”
King Vaniglia returned to his throne and sat down, placing a hand over his face. He was the picture of a man stalling for time before a tough decision. After what seemed like a long silence that brought chills to Caramello’s spine, the king spoke.
“Sir Caramello Schichttorte, how far would you go for my daughter?”
“I would try my very hardest, as I have always done. The heart that is mine, as well as Fragolo’s, is committed to protecting her.”
“Then, are you willing to die for Princess Chiffon? To be her protector no matter what conditions we place upon you?”
Caramello saw where this was going. They would likely make him a slave, placing some magic shackle upon him to convince the public that he was under control. Like how the Schichttorte Clan had tried to ensnare Chiffon’s soul as a familiar for its champion, they were likely asking for a similar arrangement.
“Yes, Your Majesty. I have long been a slave to others from the beginning. Servant to my own clan due to my lack of abilities. Imprisoned with their souls in a quest for revenge. My very life has never been mine to begin with. And so, I would rather offer it up to someone I care for instead.”
He shot a glance towards Chiffon, who blushed at the prospect of owning his life. He sighed at the outcome. It was better than any suggestion that he could offer. His family were the tricksters that held far greater intelligence than Fragolo and him, but he would be damned before turning to them for help. They could suffer in helplessness, along with him.
“Very well. Princess Chiffon, he is in your hands now. Do with him as you see fit.”
The two of them bowed before the rulers of the kingdom, the verdict of his fate sealed.
Caramello lifted his head up and turned to the Princess, anticipating the first order from his master.
What would she possibly do with me? Parade me around town in chains? Force me to be her dress up mannequin? Maybe order me to fetch her sweets whenever it suits her fancy?
Whatever the case, he just had to suck it up and do it. He had been asked to do far worse.
But to his surprise, Chiffon purred as she approached him, reaching up to cup his face in her hands. She stood on her tiptoes, bridging the height difference to capture his lips with hers.
Stunned, Caramello simply enjoyed the gesture that she offered, a contrast to what she said before – about only loving Fragolo.
After the kiss, she whispered gently.
“Is there no one else but you and Fragolo at the moment?”
“Yes, the others are all dormant. Their souls can’t touch me for another two hours, so rest easy until then.”
“I see… then I’ll be quick.”
Before Caramello could even form a question asking her why, a dull crack echoed in the throne room. His body fell limply to the ground, the taste of her lips still lingering on his tongue.
His neck had been broken, an instant death caused by the monstrous strength of a Royal.
“Well, that’s done.”
Chiffion said with a sigh. She looked up to her parents with a casual air. They showed not a bit of surprise either. It was all part of the plan.
“Father, let’s make our preparations to welcome a new knight. I pray that he will not be as troublesome as the last.”
Chiffon turned and picked up the corpse of her former knight, looking down at his serene final moments and smiling as she carried him away.
“Thank you, Caramello and Fragolo. I no longer fear the darkness, nor the Bloodrile. They are part of me. And they became the strength to be who I am today. I offer you this peace of mind.”
She was the Wanderblood Princess, unbound by destination, ever seeking thrills. It was time for her to embody that, forged by the will of the men in her arms.
She licked her lips at that.
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