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Reads: 36

“Someone in that room not related to the royal family would have survived and gingerly pointed their finger to the only person strong enough to wipe out that many people.”.

“Or us?”.

Paula shakes her head at the younger cousin next to me. “No, Uncle is right. She would have been drunk just a few buildings over...and have a history of slaughtering. I’m more curious about how they planned to handle her?”. Paula pauses, letting that subject echo through the room. It looks like they’re reliving something or trying to conjure up an answer..... She can’t be that hard to fucking kill. Annette is the only one smirking...and it’s directed at me...... “If anything, we would be guilty by association.”.

Kent notices the defined frown setting in on Annette. “You’re suspecting someone?”.

Leon’s name pops out of my mouth before I can stop it. I mean, he practically appeared right before the attack started. Kent, Anthony, and a few older family members start trembling. Their rage heats the entire room.

“That Snake is doing something again!”…… Kent looks like death, and the older ones mirror his expression.

Annette storms out of the room...I watch her go, remaining with the family. Alcohol will be her destination, so I’ll leave her be. I need answers, but she’s so damn tight-lipped, I can’t get anything out of her. My eyes roam around the raging family. Maybe they can help me. “Okay...can someone help me understand something?”. I’m given the room’s attention. “1st, why is there such a huge age difference between my parents?”.

The older ones study me, while the younger ones look curious about the answer, but Anthony is the 1st to speak up. “My Sister and King Vincent…married 26 years ago…when Annette was 13.... Our...Father had to send her to him...to appease the King.”.

Vincent would have been...nearly 40…what the hell……... Grumbles kick up around the room, and I gather non of them favored this decision.

“The Moon and Lux families have a long rocky history. Our strength instills fear in many, but our loyalty to our Country binds us to the Crown.”. Kent snarls. “We were caught up in a scandal orchestrated by that Snake, I bet.”. He pauses, doing something I’ve been noticing the others do. It’s some kind of breathing technique, and he looks calmer once he’s done. “Needless to say, our strongest protege, the head of the then family daughter, was forced to be Queen.”.

Anthony does the same exercise before speaking. “Even at that age, Annette was powerful. I...just didn’t want my Sister in that place. The reunion wasn’t favored by most of his family or the entire country.”.......

“It was dangerous!”.

I look over at the person who just snapped. The older man is doing that breathing thing...I want to ask about it, but that’ll be another avenue to explore later.

“King Vincent did promise he wouldn’t touch her until she was of age.”......

Is that supposed to make things easier? Shit, Annette had no freedom in her life. Vincent didn’t touch her, which answers the mystery of why I’m the youngest, but something...is off. The little side conversations surrounding me...it’s like these people think it was someone’s plan for Annette and Vincent to get married. What came from it other than this baby? “Then what about my birth?”. The only person willing to meet my gaze is Paula.

“I think...you should get that from Aunt Annette….. Twice 20 years ago, the castle was nearly burned to the ground.”...…

Why not just tell me! It bothers Annette just thinking about it, and she won’t fucking answer even if I ask. I tune the room out to think for a second. So Vincent passed over Evangelina and Victoria just to marry Annette, and the Moons believe this was a ploy...by Leon? What did he get? “What about the Lux family?”. Other than my siblings, none of them were present in the castle.

Kent catches my eye. “20 years ago, King Vincent slaughtered them, making him the only full remaining member.”......

I’m...stunned…well...shocked to be more accurate. Vincent never showed that side to me. He’s built like a soldier, sure, but I thought that was because he was the King..... Again, what is with this 20-years ago shit?! Paula said something about Annette killing...if Vincent did it too, it has to be connected to the baby I took over. If the 2 families were brought together for the baby, something went wrong. That baby died, but I don’t know if it was done on purpose. Could that be why Vincent kept me away…I need a drink. I sigh. Too much fucking thinking. The murmurs turn into yelling...I make my exit, heading back to the basement.

From the bar, I grab a bottle of something hard before settling onto the couch, thinking about the shit fest I’ve been thrown into as I absently drink. I’ll take my old life over this bullshit any day. There are too many people currently plotting against me. At least when I was younger, I had a crew to have my back. These people I just met...I can’t really trust...they’ll turn me over just like they did Annette. Damn, thinking of Annette’s past is depressing as hell...I’ll drink enough for her…I can see why she drinks so much. Those Concubines are at least 10 years older than her...why didn’t they look out for her?

Deeepressing...let’s return things back to me. Here I am, this enormous target and magic-less...fucking great!

“You might want to take it easy, Princess.”. I glance up. Paula is leading 3 others over to me, 1 of them being the boy who ran in earlier, and the 2 others don’t sport red hair. “This is Tony, your cousin. Next is Ren, Tony’s friend, and this is April, my best friend. They live at the Moon household, so don’t worry about being discreet.”. I’m not...I honestly don’t care about whatever order was just read. I’m so fucking down right now and don’t feel like being watched. “We’re just here to make sure you’re not as reckless as your parents. See us as a distraction.”. Paula must be the bright 1. I shrug, continuing my way through the bottle. “Princess…..”.

She doesn’t know my name. Strangely enough, only my parents do, and that...it...it kind of feels special. I reluctantly sit up, allowing them to settle around me on the couch. They start talking about something I don’t care about as I continue to drink. A little later, I notice Ren has his eyes set on me.

“You can drink a lot.”.

“I need to, to survive this goddamn world.”. A little giggle draws my eyes to April. She found that funny for some reason.

“Never thought I’d hear a Princess swear.”.

Tony...must be a prude. “Met a lot of Princesses, have we?”. He looks at me, confused like he can’t make out if that was a legit question. Paula, Ren, and April snicker at him. “This Princess was let out only a few days ago, so I think she deserves a pass.”.

Ren has found something I said...exciting. “It’s strange there’s a lot of stories written about you.”.

“Then tell me about my shit siblings. 1 of them killed my friend, and I want to return the favor.”.

“Princess, you can’t think like that.”.

Paula just doesn’t know. “Why the hell not? They tried to kill me. I don’t even know them. The first time I knew they existed was a few days ago.”.

Tony leans forward to make eye contact with me. “You really was secluded that much?”.

I can feel myself becoming emotional...dammit, I just want to drown this out. “Yes.”.

“I’m sorry, I just thought King Vincent kept you from the public.....”. The way Paula cut herself off...I move my eyes to her. “You do understand what’s resting on your shoulders?”. She’s obviously sizing me up, but I don’t want that fucking throne and will not play any role in it. Some other family or family members can have at it. “For another family to take the throne, the current family has to be wiped out.”. -_- Can she read minds? I stare at Paula. Suspect...she is very suspect. Paula burst out laughing. “No, I’m not reading your mind.”........

Fucking suspect, but I move the conversation along. I’ll have to be mindful of my future thoughts around her. “So...a Moon can’t sit on the throne?”.

“No, a Lux connection would be needed. Putting it simply, the entire royal family needs to be gone before a new family can take over.”.

I chuckle. Tony is definitely a prude, but that does answer a question. “So that’s why Annette needed to be absent during the assault.”.

“That and...I...don’t think there’s anything able to kill her.”.....

The three of them nod, agreeing with Ren. If that’s true...how would framing Annette have worked. I don’t think she’d cooperate regardless. How would they even try to arrest her?

“You get it. When you’re actually paying attention, not half bad, Princess.”. I drink more, ignoring Paula’s mind reading. Would all of Goranous simply believe the Moon family slaughtered the royal family? What kind of fucked up family is this, if that’s true? “I hope you 2 hang around.”.

Paula’s tone makes me feel like...a pet. I look at her...she’s giving me this plaything vibe..... Every fiber of my being tells me she is...dangerous. Behind her lovely smile, I can see all the torturous ways she wants to toy with me. Paula burst out laughing again...... She is reading my fucking mind! I don’t give a damn what she says! My eyes move to Ren, Tony, and April for some kind of explanation...they don’t seem bothered…fuck it. The bottle becomes a little too heavy to lift, perfect. My buzz is getting to where I want it.

“Finally done?”.

No, Paula, I want to blackout. April giggles when I slump in my seat to reach it. “Can I ask something.”. I don’t wait for a response. “What is...this nagging, aching in my chest? Does it…is it Bond-related?”.

“...Yes.”.

“If you’re feeling that, it means King Vincent is actually dead.”.

Nothing Tony nor Ren provided gave me an answer. I focus my vision on the mind reader.

Paula sighs. “It’s a Broken Bond. When...those we’re bonded have an...unexpected death...or just a death that isn’t from natural causes, the Bond...informs us. We’re given this grief mixed with an...elevated pain when the death is unnatural. If the death is natural, we’re given a sense of peace with a hint of mourning.”.

April chimes in, adding to it. “How long the pain or peace lingers varies.”.

Well...this is bullshit…and what would be considered a natural death?

“Princess, That’s a question for the universe.”...……

I don’t think I like Paula…she laughs. “Why...does...do I...have an extra ache when Annette hits me?”.

Tony and Paula...they’ve gotten excited, as Ren smirks at me. “That’s Bond-related too, Princess.”.

“Family members aren’t allowed to harm each other. That pain is a reminder of the line they’re crossing.”.

April hits Paula’s arm as they snicker. “That pain is something this family can uniquely deal with.”.

What the hell does that mean?! All 4 of them have this stupid smirk on their faces.

Paula then focuses her eyes on me. “We have to come up with a name for you.”.

I’m not sure if this is a way to get my name out of me or if she’s being genuine. I let the bottle fall to the floor when my body reaches its limit.

“Are you alright?”.

I’m not sure which 1 said that...it doesn’t matter. For some reason...my real parents plow into my mind. I don’t know how to feel having 2 sets of parents...my real parents I don’t want to forget, nor do I want to replace them. Annette and Vincent…because of this damn world, I’m bonded with them! I can feel tears of frustration building up. I’ve lost 2 fathers and a mother, and I’m ready to lose another.

“Princess, you’ll be fine, I promise.”.

That has to be Paula reading my mind. I think for the 1st time...I’m getting homesick. Everything felt like a dream, so I never had to think hard about back then and now. I guess on some level...I didn’t want to think about things. Vincent...dying, sparked the emotions I couldn’t handle from my life before...I have to blackout...at least for tonight. Dealing with anything right now is sending me emotionally spiraling. The alcohol does its job, knocking me out before I become unstable.


Submitted: September 12, 2022

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