Ophelia Criswell is the name that was given to me upon birth. A regular name, without any particular appeal, however, during my upbringing, I was always considered the cursed child. Inside Duke's Criswell mansion my life was somewhat similar to an affair, it existed even though everyone tried their hardest to deny it.
This rumor started due to my mother's death at birth which was foresighted by a sketchy street fortune teller. "You will die by your own blood within eight full moon's," he stated a week before my mother knew she was one month pregnant.
I grew up to be a quiet child, keeping my nose in the dusty library books and in the breathtaking flowery green garden inside the mansion. During those times, my family members ignored my presence and only a handful of maids helped me in my daily necessities while keeping me in check. Then, on my 16th birthday, my father, Duke Alvin Criswell, asked for my presence in his study room.
"You're getting married to Duke's Wharton eldest son" he ordered and, as the quiet bird that I am, I obeyed. Since we were officially engaged I moved to my fiancée's mansion and everything was different. The maids tried to help me and people would acknowledge my existence however it didn't take long for me to realize that this care they were providing me was born out of pity. Terrel Wharton, the first son of the Duke was a sick man, filled with perversion and obsession. Once he laid his eyes on me he fell in "love" and that was my demise.
One night he got drunk and sneaked into my room, abusing me through and through all night long. Afraid that I had become pregnant the wedding was moved up from Winter to Spring and soon we got married. News of my pregnancy rose but they lasted only for a couple of days since, after a week, I had a miscarriage.
Even though people were nice to me, Terrel Wharton wasn't. During the night he would beat me up while pleasuring himself, in fact, that was one of his fetiches and, when the sky was filled with light, he would pretend as if I was the most precious merchandise a businessman had to offer. A year after the wedding, Duke Wharton suddenly died and Terrel succeded in his stead after getting rid of his younger brothers.
I grew tired and ended up trying to run away on a calculated weekend. He had gone to the Palace to meet the King but he came back earlier than I expected. He caught me and chained me down in the cellar of the mansion. To be honest, I didn't remember what the sunlight felt like since in that cellar the only thing that embraced me was darkness and, sometimes, the kind fire of a scented candle.
On the night of my 18th birthday, I died. I don't know-how but a fire started and soon after, the whole mansion was consumed by the flames. As I burned alive I thought that I would finally be in peace, that I would finally be released from this unceasing pain but that didn't happen.
I woke up in the body of Ophelia Criswell, a small baby but with the mind of an 18-year-old girl. Somehow I was reborn and was reliving my life again.
In my second life, I was different, I tried my hardest to cleanse my image in the eyes of my family members but it was all in vain. They saw me as a pitiful cursed person that was trying to tie them down. Even if I managed to avoid the marriage with Terrel Wharton I still got engaged. Layton Verne was the middle son of Marquess Vern and, even though we got married, he ended up eloping with the daughter of a merchant. The Marquess blamed me for his escape and so, he locked me up in my room. Once again, on the night of my 18th birthday an assassin arrived to kill Marquess Verne and his mistress however he mistook the room and ended up wounding me instead. He panicked and to cover his tracks he poured oil on my body and lit me on fire, while I was still breathing.
In my 3rd life, I managed to avoid both marriages but due to a mishap, I let out some information regarding my resurrection to a man whose loyalty lies with my father. I ended up being burned in the middle of the city for being a "witch".
I would always die on the night of my 18th birthday, engulfed by flames. No matter how the story played out: if I ran away from home; if I didn't get married; if I tried to take my own life... I would always die being consumed by flames.
Weirdly enough, in my 9th life, a key factor changed: my mother survived. I thought this time things would be different but, one way or another, I ended up burned to a crisp.
Ophelia Criswell, one of the daughters of Duke Criswell is currently living her 10th life in this unstopping clock that kept on rewinding the time magically. If this was a book then I would definitely be the typical kind-hearted heroine except that I always die too early in the end.
During my past life, I realized something: even though I can change my path, I can't change my outcome. At the same time I don't know if I will ever be reborn again, or even if I will die the same way again, however, one thing I know for certain: I have the knowledge of a 177-year-old lady, harboring a lot of secrets and future insights.
I kept on clinging to my way of living on a tiny strand of hope that this life would be different, that if I was good enough I would be repaid however, right now, that blind faith that kept me going is gone. In this life I will stop being a pawn from the chessboard, I won't attempt to be the King either since, even though all mighty and powerful, he is still controlled by the chess player and that is the role I want to take for myself.
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A big mansion with an even bigger garden. Walls that have ears and flowers that have mouths, spitting poison to whoever gives the most profit. That is the harsh reality of living in the Duke's estate.
Some days ago I had my 15th birthday filled with loneliness and coldness, just like always. In this life, my mother died when I was born and people continue to view me as a cursed asset that needs to be removed as soon as possible.
Even then, not everything is bad. The past couple of years I lived without raising any flags so no one from my own blood recognizes me as their relative. It is almost as if I am a ghost that wanders throughout the estate however that is something extremely beneficial. The more people are forbidden to do something, the more they are curious to do so. If you are not supposed to acknowledge the existence of someone then what will you do? You will follow their moves and stalk them unconsciously.
A quiet little bird, that's what I've been in these past years, but now the coin is about to flip. It's time to have some fun on my mischievous bloodline.
"Oh my, Ophelia, aren't you too young to be in such a place?" Amanda says politely as I find her flirting with one of the butlers in the mansion's library. Her long crimson curly hair fell right on top of her pale and bare shoulders, as her deep blue eyes glared at me with disgust.
"Indeed, I thought I entered the library but I must've gotten the directions wrong since this is a brothel. Do you know how to solve this situation, my dear elder sister Amanda?" I sarcastically ask as I sit on one of the tables reading a book regarding war techniques. She frowns and pushes the young butler towards the cabinets filled with knowledge right before rushing towards me.
'Always so mature' I think to myself as I flip the pages of the old book.
"What did you say you little wench?!" her screams start to echo and, within the mess, the young butler manages to leave unscattered from her claws.
"Dear Amanda, aren't you afraid you will anger the cursed one?" a greeting with a cold glare is what she receives but, no matter how many opportunities this woman gets, her egoism is bigger than her brains.
"You? You can't do anything bitch. I'm father's favorite and guess what? You will be married soon! Congratulations dear sister" her obnoxious laugh gets louder and louder with each breath she takes.
I'm a patient person. I was always a patient person. I used to be a patient person.
"Shall we find it out then A~man~da~?" my hand quickly grabs her right arm and presses it strongly on the dark mahogany table. With the other hand, I grab the letter opener and prick her finger allowing some bright red blood to pour out. "You know how curses begin right? Shall we try to curse you too?" Amanda's face turns pale as she yells indiscriminately for help right after seeing my pleasured expression in providing her with pain.
I may be younger but I am still stronger than Amanda in terms of raw force. She is always at home and the only time she does any exercise is to chose what dress to wear to the next ball.
'Pathetic' I think as the guards open the door and I let her go while maintaining a grin on my pale lips.
"You're insane! I will tell father!" she dashes out the door at an abnormal speed and I sit back down.
'Let the games begin' I think to myself right before digging into the book once again.
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"Ophelia is it true? Did you really try to curse your older sister?" Duke asks me with his monotone tone. Even though he was old, he was still a man that held a lot of power inside the Kingdom. His dark blue eyes were absorbed by two heavy and dark eye bags while his weak dark brown hair fell to his shoulders.
"Duke, the library is a sacred place but it was tainted by my dear sister. Amanda mistook it for her chambers. I just reminded her of a lady's etiquette" I politely state as I grab a snack from his desk. His piercing eyes were glaring into mine as I bite the bright red apple in front of him. He grits his teeth in a poor attempt to conceal his rage.
"My dear sister, you are truly beloved by the Duke and by the young butlers. It is almost as if they are drawn to you, how come that always happens?" after getting closer to her I smile politely. "I wonder how Bradley will feel after knowing of such matters," I whisper soft threats onto her ear, and when I back away I see her complexion turn pale almost as if I had hit the nail on the head. "He is such a benevolent and generous fiancée, I'm sure he will accept you fully right, A~man~da~?" a rhetorical question with a sarcastic tone echoes in the room just to be ended by a loud sound.
"Enough! Ophelia Criswell leave this room immediately!" after beating his hand on the hard wooden table the Duke's loud voice is heard. He was standing from being enraged, just like Amanda was a couple of minutes ago.
'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree' I think as I let out a chuckle. The bright red apple that had several bites is placed on his desk and right before I leave the room I say "See you soon, Duke". The door is closed and, as I walked down the halls I could hear both of them arguing loudly.
Amanda is already at marriageable age, she just celebrated her 18th birthday last month however she has several big flaws. Duke Criswell always spoiled her and gave her anything she asked for when she was a child and now, because of her poor education, she thinks she owns the world and that she is the embodiment of perfection.
I also know that the Duke did not know about these little "escapes" that Amanda has with the young butlers and the fact that I know of this situation is a threat to her future stability.
Bradley Trace, the second son of Duke Trace, one of the richest and powerful Dukes in the Kingdom. Being only one year older than Amanda, he is a perfect match in every single aspect since he is a blessing to the eyes. My dear sweet sister fell right onto his charm and fell head over heels however, you can't erase ink from paper. My sister's habits are of a lowly prostitute, she needs constant attention since, in her head, the world rotates around her.
Everything they tried so hard to achieve by sneakily placing Amanda in Bradley's sight is about to disappear just because the ghost knows and no one knows who the ghost will haunt next. I don't care about her wedding in the slightest since her appearance in my other lives after my 16th birthday is pretty much inexistent however I need the Duke to try to get rid of me as fast as possible and the only option he has is selling me off to marry Terrel Wharton.
I reach the garden filled with blood roses and sit in the big marble fountain standing right in the middle. My torso leans in slightly and I can see my outstanding complexion.
'A perfect body for a cursed soul' I think as I see my long and straight black hair as my extremely light blue eyes blended in with the cold water. My pale complexion was enlightened by my pink lips that ended up contrasting my long and dark lashes. Defined jawline and nose with a slick neck that looked like it would easily be crushed. Pale breasts popped out due to the dark crimson dress and a soulless expression from all the years of pain and suffering.
My plan is simple: get rid of my fiancées as fast as possible so that I can leisurely spend the Duke's money on useless assets while enjoying every bit of suffering from my family as I can. For that, I needed to tease Amanda since I cannot talk to the Duke unless I am summoned by him myself and now I just have to wait.
'The bait is set' a small chuckle escapes from my lips with this thought. 'Now let's see what will you do, Duke'.