Book One: Knights' Festival

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There's Someone Stronger Than Her

Reaching Chemia was, save the least, a little more quiet.

Samantha gasped and panted, feeling the fatigue from travelling finally catch up to her. She was surprised at her own tenacity however; she didn’t expect to get far without proper nutrition and sleep. And the way she burned her mana, she was certain that she would have fainted – or even worse, died. But here she was, standing at the borders of the small yet bright village of Chemia on her own two feet.

Samantha’s body trembled from exhaustion. She winced at every step she took, making her way towards her knights. Despite Brandon’s mending, she could still feel the blood pouring from her gashes on the soles of her feet. The princess shuddered in disgust; every step she took seemed to be coated with blood as the bandages soaked up most of the blood.

“You alright, princess?” She heard Brandon ask.

Samantha looked up to see Beatriz and Daniel already starting ahead while he had stayed behind to wait for her. The princess saw the concerned look flash through his lavender eyes. It was the same look he had given his First Mate. She nodded weakly, wincing at every step.

“Y-yeah, I will be fine.” Samantha smiled, trying her best to hide the pain. “I’ve come so far but I can’t give up here.”

Brandon sighed and shook his head. Samantha could see the discomfort mar his features as he walked over to her. Much to her surprise, he let out a slight grunt before scooping her up. The princess yelped as Brandon slightly staggered before moving forward towards Chemia.

“Unfortunately, the repair I did was only temporary so it’s gonna start gushing out soon.” Brandon shook his head. “I’m not talented in magic so I couldn’t make the changes permanent.”

Samantha laughed wistfully. “At least you didn’t turn my foot into a toad?”

“Well, there’s always a silver lining in every cloud.”

The princess nodded before letting her weight sink into Brandon’s arms. She was surprised; his body structure was very deceiving. In battle, he relied on speed and finesse which always prioritized technique and accuracy. She didn’t expect him to have the upper body strength to carry her. Then again, she thought. He did use to live on a pirate ship before. He could have been rolling barrels, scrubbing floors, hoisting the sails, and a lot more manual labour before he became captain. She let her arms curl around his neck as the scent of the sea filled her nose. Despite being far away from the sea, the scent still clung onto the young pirate captain. A wave of relaxation filled her as she rested in his arms.

She couldn’t help but feel the warmth and security in his arms. It was something she never did experience from someone of another gender. Well, other than her father. She never did get to meet any prince. It was then she started to wonder; did the prince really have to be the one to save the princess? Brandon was definitely no prince; he looked like one but barely acted like one.

“You don’t really look like a knight,” Samantha suddenly said.

Brandon raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, physically - you dress more like a pirate than a knight.”

“Would you rather have me in clunky armour?”

The princess pondered for a moment, giggling softly. “Now that I think about it, maybe you’re better off without it.”

“To be honest, princess. I never did see myself as a knight.” Brandon admitted mildly. “But, I did see myself at least as a gentleman.”

“Really?”

“Gentlemen are formed not by the circumstances they were born in but from the ones that they learned and were formed from.”

Samantha nodded slowly before taking a look once again his mesmerizing lavender eyes. The colour in his eyes reminded her of the monkshood flowers blooming in the courtyard of Xychosia. A small, nostalgic smile curved up her lips as her hand slowly reached out for Brandon’s bronzed cheek. Warmth spread through her and her heart throbbed at the sudden contact. A shiver ran up her spine as she sighed loudly.

“Making ourselves comfortable, aren’t we?” Brandon chuckled with a raised eyebrow.

Samantha swooned at the sight of his eyes. “Yes...”

“Whelp, there goes the princess. Your penchant for purple’s bound to get you killed someday.”

“Purple’s pretty! Like your eyes...”

“... Lass, not sure if that was a flirt or if you hit your head too hard.”

Samantha giggled softly and looked forward. Her eyes widened when she saw shining rainbow lights through the misty skies. The princess stared in astonishment as a faint music reached her ears. The loud crashing of cymbals exploded with the blaring of the trumpets. She heard flutes and violin orchestra ring loudly amidst the crashing and the blaring. Soon, Samantha found herself stopping as Brandon lowered her to the ground. She stood next to Beatriz and Daniel as they looked on at the rainbow silhouette from the hills.

“Welcome to the village of Alchemy, Chemia.” Daniel smiled.

Samantha gasped in amazement. “It’s so beautiful...”

“Definitely. You’d be surprised what kind of lights and tricks they can come up with.”

“Really? What’s their main magic?”

“They don’t believe in magic, princess.”

Samantha stared at Daniel, bewildered. “Wh-what do you mean? You said ‘all sorts of lights and tricks’, don’t they need magic for that?”

“Nope,” Daniel shook his head. “They don’t believe in the four elements like magic wielders. They believe in the existence of hundreds of elements where no two elements are the same.”

Samantha gawked; there were that many elements!? “But that would take years to master!”

“On the contrary, they seem to learn it quickly due to some elements having some similarities. Like gold and silver.”

“They’re not the same!”

“They aren’t but they are similar.”

Samantha frowned. She never had that school of thought before. In magic, there were four elements and their respective sub-elements. But the existence of at least a hundred – that would take her years to master! Learning the fire element by itself took her two years! For some, they took at least a week. But she knew that each and every magician had their own attunement. It so happened that hers was more of the primordial elements – light. Although that meant she could master all elements, it didn’t mean that she would have an easy time.

“So, how does their system work then?”

“Unlike magicians and sorcerers, they have to mix the elements together. Then, they use transmutation – ”

“ – But transmutation is forbidden in magic!”

“Like I said, princess, they don’t use magic. Better yet,” Daniel slung his rifle onto his shoulder. “Why don’t you go talk to the locals? Who knows? You might even find a knight-worthy candidate there.”


Brandon frowned a bit at Daniel’s suggestion. It wasn’t the intent that irked him. However, he couldn’t help but wonder. How did Daniel know things about the Knights’ Festival? He was just a mercenary. Or so he thought. But he could see something else in Daniel’s eyes. He couldn’t tell but Daniel’s hazel brown eyes seemed to flicker slightly at the sight of the princess.

“Hey,” he heard Beatriz’s voice cut through his thoughts.

The pirate shook off the daze. “Yeah?”

“What are you so quiet about? You were more talkative when you were at Fool’s Pit.”

“It’s… It’s a little more complicated.”

“Ugh, stop over-thinking. It just makes you wuss out.”

Brandon shook his head. “It’s not that…”

“Then what is it?”

“It’s,” the pirate began. He then took a look at Daniel who had begun to lead Samantha down the hill towards Chemia village. “It’s the new guy.”

Beatriz smirked. “What? You jelly?”

“What!?”

“Jelly, you know – short for ‘jealous’.”

Brandon frowned. “I’m not jealous.”

“Then what is it? Feeling crappy that women aren’t flocking to you?”

“Thanks for the misogyny.”

“What? It’s how most men think. They think with their dicks, not with their brains.”

The pirate rolled his eyes. “The keyword being most. But my problem is how Daniel seemingly knows everything.”

Beatriz shrugged. “Or you just didn’t read the books.”

“How did he know that Samantha was looking for knights?”

“She kinda did say it on her birthday.”

Brandon nodded stiffly and remained silent after. As much as he wanted to believe Beatriz’s words, he couldn’t. There was an unsettling feeling in his stomach. His instincts were telling him not to trust him. He watched the interaction between Samantha and Daniel, hearing Samantha’s gasps of amazement. He shook his head with an amused chuckle. She had so much ways to go. But surprisingly, he didn’t find it cloying and irritating unlike most people. He actually found it endearing.

“Who am I kidding?” Brandon shook his head and pressed his thumb against his forehead. He let out a disgruntled snort and muttered. “Luke must’ve made me soft.”

It was only then he had realized that Luke’s making him soft was what got him through all sorts of adversities.

Had Luke not shown up on that day in the slave trade, he would have still been pillaging and raiding villages for their goods. Had Luke not constantly been his voice of reason, he would have taken more life-endangering jobs without caring for himself. The captain chuckled darkly before sauntering after Samantha with Beatriz following up next to him.

“I’m sorry about Luke,” Beatriz suddenly said.

In complete disbelief, Brandon snapped his head towards the petite girl. Did he hear that right? Did she just apologize? “What?”

“You heard me.”

“I know but I just wanted to check if I was being delusional.”

“Nope. I meant it.”

Brandon was stupefied. What could Beatriz possibly have to apologize for? The Dark Knight had not said anything about Luke ever since he had sacrificed his life back in the caverns.

“Okay, I accept. But, what the hell are you apologizing for?”

The dark knight sighed deeply and looked far past him. “I’ve known Death for years, Brandon. Everyone fears him. Everyone thinks it’s painful and sad. But, when I saw Luke fall on your sword – to be honest,” – she shook her head and admitted mildly. “I was a bit jealous.”

Brandon raised an eyebrow. “Jealous? Jealous of what?”

“He got to die. He only lived for five years. He didn’t have to sit his ass through this crappy world and deal with people. People are so sensitive nowadays.”

“Says the one who flies off the handle easily.”

“Yeah so fucking what? I got the power to back it up anyway.”

The pirate nodded silently. Yeah, we’ve seen that many times.

“But the truth is, I hate this place. I slaughtered and killed because it was the only thing that could get my blood moving. Everything else is stupid and ugly.”

“You never know. You might find something or even someone interesting.”

“Tch, the only person I actually found interesting’s six feet under. He at least died quickly.”

“That probably explains you don’t give a damn why people die.”

Beatriz shrugged. “What can I do? I’ve been seeing people die here and there for whatever shit reason they can come up with. It’s stupid.”

“Their reasons may be stupid to you. But, who are we to judge what those reasons are?”

“Trust me, pirate. When you live to be my age, you’d probably see more shit than a Ludona Porno.”

Brandon frowned. “You can’t be serious.”

“Their reasons are usually for their own childish ways. I hate children. Most of all, I hate brats.”

He could only nod at Beatriz’s explanation before following after Samantha and Daniel. As they made their way to Chemia Village, they saw then the source of the flashing lights. There was music but it was coming from their concert hall. There was no festival at all; the entire city was powered by multi-coloured lights that shone like a bright rainbow in the night. The houses of the villages didn’t tower like the usual buildings in empires. The village houses shone bright with newly polished cement walls with their houses shaped like perfect cubic prisms.

“They really shaped this place like certain elements.” Brandon shook his head. “Not a single cut or shape out of place…”

“That’s because they believe in an orderly way in which those elements bind to one another.” He heard someone say.

Brandon looked up to see Daniel standing in front of him. His instincts roiled again at the sight of the bespectacled boy. It was the gut-feeling that told him that something was wrong. He looked straight into the young man’s eyes as there was a slight flicker of light. Whether or not it was caused by the alchemic lights that surrounded the village or it was a faltering in the young man’s bespectacled eyes, he still couldn’t push himself to trust the young man.

“Oh?” Brandon nodded slightly, watching Daniel’s movements.

Daniel nodded and eyed Brandon. “I see you don’t trust me.

“Way to go, Captain Obvious.”

“I understand that everything seemed to be ’too good to be true’. But rest assured, I don’t intend to harm the princess.”

“You better not.”

“And what do you intend to do if I do?”

“It’s not my thing to kill people.” Brandon said. But a mischievous smirk then curved up his lips. “But it is hers.”

Daniel stared at him in bewilderment until he heard a soft hum and a cold air that tickled his skin. All the colour seemingly drained from his face as he saw a scythe inches away from his neck. He slowly turned around to see Beatriz with a sardonic grin on her sultry red lips. Brandon could have sworn he had seen genuine fear flash in his hazel brown eyes. He saw the agent trembling and his fingers gnarling.

“Yeah. Unlike Brandon over there, I don’t have qualms about taking both your heads.” Beatriz sneered with a dark, venomous gaze. “One false move and both your heads will be rolling off the floor.”

Daniel remained silent for a moment before exhaling loudly. “I assure you, I don’t intend to hurt the princess.”

“You better not.”

“Brandon said the same thing.”

“Well, I’m making sure I pound it in well enough.”

“You’re not a hammer,” Daniel chuckled dryly.

“There are more things I can use to pound through your skull.”

Brandon watched the fires burn behind Beatriz’s icy blue eyes. The winds chilled as her energy spilled out of her body. His hairs stood on end and the murderous intent sent shivers down his nape. He looked at Daniel who sighed and raised both his hands into the air. But before he did, he then removed his assault rifle and hung it by his thumb.

“Fine, take my weapon if it will ease your mind.” Daniel shrugged. “But even then, I don’t need a gun to beat someone.”

Brandon scowled and searched through Daniel’s stone expression. The only time he seemed to show a drastic change in emotion was when he saw Beatriz’s scythe aimed at his neck. But now that the threat seemingly lost momentum, Daniel was back to showing no emotion. Brandon mussed his jet black hair and raked his fingers through before stalking past Daniel, ignoring that he hit Daniel’s shoulder.

“Put your damn gun back. The princess doesn’t even know what the bloody hell a pistol is.”


Daniel sighed and grinned, slinging his assault rifle back onto his shoulder. He could understand the distrust. It wasn’t everyday that opportunities were just served to them on a platter. Especially since everyone is hunting Samantha down, his mind added. While Samantha was trusting, she needed people who would filter out the bad eggs.

Brandon at least seemed to listen to reason. But he was a bit surprised. Despite being a pirate, Brandon displayed a certain amount of loyalty to the princess. The moment he looked straight into Brandon’s lavender eyes, he could see daggers directed at him. It was a sharp, steely gaze that promised his funerals should he make a mistake. Although what he said about not needing his rifle was true, he knew he couldn’t face Brandon head-on in swordsmanship. He already knew about Brandon’s combat capacity.

Beatriz on the other hand was the more dangerous between the two. She wielded Blood Magic; a magic that had been extinct for years. Combined with her vast mana pools and her having Dark Magic attunement, Beatriz was a force to be reckoned with. The only flaw he could assume was that she never did think things through. ’Kill now, ask questions later’ was the old adage. An adage that she seemed to faithfully follow.

But that didn’t mean he couldn’t outsmart her.

Definitely, he knew that both knights could overpower him. They were truly masters of their craft – one in magic and the other one in swordsmanship. He was a marksman and if they closed the gap between him and them, the agent knew that he would be at a disadvantage. He shook his head; why did he even perceive them as enemies? They were fighting for the same cause!

That’s because you have your loyalties somewhere else.

Although that was true, it technically coincided with their goal: to restore order to Sofiene. Well, that was if he ignored the minor details. But he could see the cold fury dancing in both knights’ eyes. One wrong move and he was pretty sure that both knights wouldn't hesitate to shred him into ribbons. Brandon and Beatriz stalked past him as he stood still, waiting until their footsteps faded right behind him. He exhaled sharply; earning their trust was going to be one hurdle to climb.

He soon followed them into the village and towards what appeared to be the inn of the village. The inn was rustic in appearance with walls made of stone and wood. Colourful flames danced in the sconces hanging at each of the posts. A bench and armchairs, formed out of crystals, surrounded a crystal table with a clear glass pane that showed the storage drawer beneath it. At the corner of several doors, there was the receptionist desk where a woman and a man sat.

“So, shall we?” Daniel turned to Samantha.

The princess, puzzled, blinked several times and turned to the agent. “Wait, what?”

“We’re gonna sleep here.”

“We are!?”

“Princess, we won’t be sleeping on the floor.”

“How are we going to fit in here!? We don’t have sleeping bags!”

The female receptionist suddenly called. “Excuse me, may I help you?”

Daniel nodded and strode past her, making his way to the receptionist’s table. A sigh nearly broke out of his throat. How could Samantha not know how to reserve a room? At the sound of a question, Daniel dropped his face into his palm. Duh, he realized. Samantha always had everything taken care for her. And at this rate, she barely could get around unless Beatriz and Brandon did the talking. Daniel sighed. Time to get things done.

“Yes, I’m looking for two rooms.” Daniel said. He hiked a thumb over his shoulder. “One for the girls and one for the guys.”

The receptionist looked over Daniel’s shoulder for a moment before giving him an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry but we only have one room. We’re full for the night because of the Alchemy Festival tomorrow.”

Daniel clucked his tongue; of course, Chemia’s Alchemy festival was one of the village’s biggest source of income. He took a look at his watch only to hear more fireworks bursting behind him in the background. He could hear some of the village locals calling out to one another as they started rolling things and hauling cartons by the number. How could he have forgotten? The agent bit his lower lip in annoyance and exhaled sharply.

“We can easily set up four beds in that room though and make dividers,” the female receptionist offered cheerfully. “The other room was meant for a family of tourists so it should be able to accommodate all four of you.”

Daniel shook his head. “It’s not that, it’s more on –”

“– The need for privacy, yes,” the male receptionist cut him off. “But we are not animals and we should be able to control our urges, no?” He quipped.

Daniel resisted the urge to snap and roll his eyes. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply; how did this man infuriate him so quickly? While on most days he would have threatened with a gun, he was downright exhausted after dealing with Dreadnought. Running away from Militaris’ most deadly soldier didn’t exactly make him a happy camper. His fists clenched tightly as his patience ran thin but he instead shook it off and smiled at the female receptionist.

“I think we’ll take your offer. After all, because we’re not animals – we’re also expected not to be rude, yes?” Daniel quipped with a mean glint in his eyes.

The male receptionist swallowed hard as the female receptionist smiled, standing up from her desk. “Oh, please come this way.”

Daniel smiled and nodded before turning to the rest of the knights. “Looks like we have a room now.”

Brandon nodded with a smirk. “I saw that.”

“Saw what? You most certainly didn’t cut anything.”

“You know what I mean, you blithering idiot. You were about to punch it out.”

Daniel chuckled dryly. “Well,” he shrugged and admitted mildly. “Punching is rather messy. It doesn’t accomplish much other than a short burst of satisfaction and a few bruised knuckles.”

“So you chose wit.”

“Yes and at least this time, he appears a slight whit of sorry.”

Brandon nodded and turned to Beatriz. “Looks like we’re just gonna have to settle for that one room.”

Beatriz shrugged with a wistful grin. “Well hell I don’t care! I just want a place to sleep that doesn’t cramp up my back and leave bumps and frozen muscles in places I never knew.”

The pirate chuckled. “Point. It’s far better than sleeping on the ground.”

Samantha beamed. “And best part is: we finally get to take a shower!” She clapped her hands in delight before looking at them in disgust. “Oh my Deus, do you know how bad we all smell!?”

Brandon shrugged. “Well, I’ve honestly gotten used to the smell.”

Beatriz said nonchalantly. “I’ve smelled dead people.”

Daniel shook his head. “It can’t be as bad as the scent of a sulphur tear-gas bomb.”

Samantha gawked at all of them, shaking her head vehemently. “Still, don’t you all have a sense of hygiene!?”

The pirate shrugged. “On the seven seas, princess, stench is the last thing we think about.”

Daniel shook his head. “Can’t think about stench in the middle of a fight.”

“I’ve dug through piles of corpses and would have cared less.” Beatriz added. She folded her arms with a smirk. “Besides, I thought you got used to it by now.”

Samantha balked at the idea. “Are you kidding me!? No! You are all bathing! Go bath, now!”

Daniel chuckled with an amused smirk. It was the first time he heard Samantha issue a command for something so petty. Then again, he thought before sniffing his poncho only to snort from the stench. She was right. The smell of his sweat clung onto his poncho and dust clogged the pores of his skin. The agent shook his head; he was definitely due for a shower.

“Alright, princess.” Daniel chuckled and playfully bowed. “Your wish is my command.”

Samantha scoffed with a small smile quirking up her lips. “Go!”


The princess couldn’t believe what she was seeing. What appeared on the outside to be a small inn, was actually housing several rooms that could accommodate families of four. She passed through several hallways, noticing the many lights shining from above them. She gasped in amazement at the sight of the glowing stones placed in their metal housings. Unlike regular stones, they were smoothed out and shaped into bulb-like shapes.

“Amazing isn’t it?” She heard Daniel say.

Samantha turned to Daniel and nodded. “Yeah, I’ve always seen just magic flames light up an entire ballroom. Never magic crystals.”

Daniel shook his head. “Those aren’t magic crystals. They’re just using the natural luminescence in the stone.”

“Natural what?”

Brandon explained to the princess. “In English, the people use the natural light energy in the stones to create the light. They probably charge it here and there but that’s just about it.”

The princess’ mouth formed a small ‘o’ as she looked at the lights again. The concept about it was simply amazing. If she implemented that, people would no longer need to rely on magic to power their homes. They’d have to start mining though should they want to use the rocks. Samantha however couldn’t help but wonder; how long do the stones last before being unable to be recharged?

“How long do they last though?” Samantha turned to both Daniel and Brandon.

Brandon shrugged. “Don’t know. Some say it can last for more than fifty years if you keep it charged with natural energy.”

Beatriz smirked. “Back in my day, we just ran around in the dark with the moonlight and torches as our source of light.”

“You’re not that old, Bea.” Daniel pointed out.

“Yeah, sure I’m not. I probably screwed one of your ancestors at some point.”

Samantha gasped and shook her head. “Bea! Stop being so lewd!”

“It’s who I am and no person is gonna change that,” Beatriz scoffed. “Nobody! Not even Deus can stick a wrench up my ass and fix it. What the hell, this story isn’t for kids and tweens anyway.”

Samantha sighed and shook her head. If there was one thing she couldn’t change about Beatriz, it was the lewdness of her comments. But somehow, she found Beatriz’s apparent lewdness and blunt honesty rather comforting – even if some of her comments could be rather crude. The princess smiled and followed after the receptionist as the lady opened up the door leading to their room.

“This will be your room for the night. Should you want to stay longer, please approach the desk.” The receptionist beamed. “Also, don’t hesitate to ask any questions. Please use the intercom on the night table.”

Samantha gasped in amazement when she entered the room. It was glamorous!

The room was large enough to accommodate a four-member family. There were now four beds made with two mattresses lying at the foot of the two beds. The room was lit up with green and sky blue lights while the ceiling above them glimmered like the night sky with white lights twinkling like stars in the twilight. The furniture was made from wood and stone but carved ornately to fit the theme of the inn. The floors shimmered beneath her feet when she saw wood-like panels forming the floor. They had a certain gloss to them unlike the usual kind of wood.

“This… this isn’t even real wood!” Samantha exclaimed. She bent down and brushed her fingertips against the floor. A shiver travelled up her spine when she realized that what she touched was pure stone. The sheen and luster obviously displayed that it wasn’t wood. But the princess was still astonished at the intricate yet natural patterns imbedded in the earth.

“What kind of rock is this?” Samantha stared in amazement. “I’ve never seen rocks like this before.”

Brandon explained. “It’s Tiger’s Eye Rock. It’s known for many soothing properties.”

Samantha nodded before noticing the beds laid out before them. “So, who’s taking where?”

Brandon shrugged. “I like sleeping on the floor. Cold air drops anyway.”

“I don’t mind the floor either.” Daniel nodded and placed his things on a nearby armchair. “Meanwhile, I’m gonna go take a shower. As, per orders of the princess.”

Brandon scoffed and showed his shiny hair. “My hair’s been wet since awhile ago. I don’t need a shower.”

“I hope you mean that sarcastically because you stink as bad as hell.”

“No. I meant it. I don’t shower.”

Daniel gawked for a moment until the pirate rolled his eyes at him.

“Of course I meant that sarcastically, you dimwit. Of course I’m going to take a shower!”

Beatriz snickered and glanced around. “I wonder if they have communal bath house. I hear their hot baths do wonders for the skin!”

Samantha beamed. “Seriously?”

“Definitely, I’ve been wanting to try.”

The princess beamed in delight. The inn seemed to be equipped with everything! A hot spring bath, beds, lights made from crystals – it was amazing! She couldn’t believe that a town like that existed. And without any knowledge on magic either, Samantha added to herself. She glanced out the window where she saw a plant box stationed outside her window where white lilies were growing. She brushed her fingertips against their petals and let the soft, lush flesh soothe her skin. She sighed in delight and smiled at the sight of the flowers.

“Honestly, I want to bring these lilies home.” Samantha swooned at the sight of the petals gracefully dancing with the night breeze. “Should I?”

Beatriz shrugged as she threw off her armour. “Nobody’s looking.”

Samantha gawked, noticing that Beatriz had already flashed her topless body. “Bea!”

“What!?”

“There are boys here!”

Beatriz shrugged. “So?” She turned to Daniel and Brandon. “You guys aren’t that much of a prude, are you?”

Samantha gawked in admonishment at her lady-in-waiting, slack-jawed. How could Beatriz not care about flashing her boobs!? She turned to the two male knights as Daniel seemingly stood frozen and Brandon twitched for a few moments. She immediately scoured the area only to find some towels on the table. She bolted towards the towels and immediately threw it at Beatriz.

“Bea! How long are you going to expose your breasts like that!?” Samantha, flushing bright red, snapped. “I’m a girl and even I’m shocked!”

The lady-in-waiting let out a disgruntled snort. “Tch, you’re such a prude. You’ve already seen me stark naked.”

“At that time, I was younger!”

“So? We’re still the same people.”

“Bea! That was ten years ago!”

“Still, we’re still Beatriz Odissea and Samantha da Sofiene, right?”

Samantha pinched the bridge of her nose, shaking her head. She could feel a migraine coming on from Beatriz’s antics. The princess sighed; how could Beatriz be so shameless? It made no sense to her! But, there was something she noticed on the petite girl’s body. It was a tattoo of a black rose with all its dark thorny vines covering her entire left shoulder. She also had two belly button piercings that were desperately trying to cover a crude patchwork across her abdomen. Where did that wound come from, Samantha wondered. Come to think of it, Beatriz always had a scar there.

“Bea, I just realized,” Samantha said. She pointed to her scar. “Where did that wound come from?”

Beatriz looked down before coldly turning away. “From the only bitch whoever managed to wound me.”

“Who?”

“Someone you’re better off not knowing.”

Samantha nodded for a moment but couldn’t peel her eyes off the wound. For someone to actually wound Bea and leave a mark, that was quite an achievement. Beatriz’s curse usually rendered all incoming damage to her useless. But the idea that someone was stronger than Bea now not only shocked her but terrified her. So, the question now was...

Who was it?

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