Chapter Eighteen: Tainting the Tea with Blood
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"Lord Terrel, I'm so glad to see that you were able to attend" Ophelia states politely right before turning towards him. As usual, he was wearing his typical brown attire while carrying his cynical smile. Behind him stood Mace and Ralph with fearful expressions on their faces.
"I'm so happy to know my fiancée recognizes me by my voice, I am, indeed, one lucky man" he kisses the back of Ophelia's hand while glaring at her.
'Endure it... Endure it Ophelia...' her mind kept on jumping around, she despised this man and wanted him to be rotting underground but, even then, she needed to maintain her composure, ‘I can’t let it go to waste...’ she couldn’t let Terrel control her resolve.
"Brother we should go" Mace interrupts as he noticed Ophelia's dark stare.
"What did you say little shrimp? Who do you think you are talking to?" Terrel yells as he focused his attention on his little brother. Mace's body started to trembled slightly and Ralph just hid behind a tree close by.
'He's a complete beast...' Ophelia couldn't stop but to think that Terrel would look better with his head cut off.
"Are you going to abandon your fiancée? I'm afraid I'll be lonely..." she steps in and glances at Mace, letting him know this act had not been made by pure kindness.
"Of course not my dear, I would never do such a thing... Then, shall we go?" Ophelia places his hand around Terrel's arm as they head towards the inner garden.

As they arrive the nobles focus their attention on them as they finally were hit by the harsh reality: The Black Rose is the Wharton’s fiancée. All those eyes compelled by desire were nothing but dreams that once existed, just to be shattered with the sight of a simple man.
"Well Lord Terrel, I'm afraid I have to excuse myself, I will be back shortly" Ophelia states but, Terrel’s hand grabs her wrist and pulls her towards him, making her bump onto his chest. Without being able to suppress her hidden emotions, Ophelia glares at him and he grins.
‘Ophelia...’ he couldn’t help but to wish to subdue her will, he wanted her resolve to crumble into pieces. Those light blue eyes that showered him with despise just made him want to ruin her more, ‘I was indeed right when I chose you...’
“My dear, you may go but don’t forget...” Terrel then grabs Ophelia’s chin and lifts it. Her disgusted expression only turned him on more and then, suddenly, he kissed her light pink lips but, as if that wasn’t enough for his lust, Terrel bit them, opening them up, “You belong to me.”
‘Fear me more...’ Terrel didn’t know why Ophelia’s eyes were filled with horror whenever she saw him but he didn’t care, ‘She’ll be easier this way.’
‘I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him. I’ll kill him.’ were the thoughts that filled Ophelia’s dark mind as she tasted the blood from her ripped bottom lip.
“Of course, I am well aware of my place Lord Terrel...” Ophelia smiles coldly after being able to regain her composure.
Terrel looks at her, his mind filled with disappointment. He liked when she looked at him with fearful eyes, on the other hand, he hated these, the ones filled with determination, the ones who appeared untouchable.

‘She’s mine... How dare you taint what’s mine...’ as this scenery unfolded, Bradley was watching from the sidelines. He wanted to murder Terrel once he saw him kiss Ophelia and, as he noticed the blood on her bottom lip, his desire only grew. He already regarded her as his possession, as a fragile doll that he could use and abuse to his own pleasure.
“Do you like chess my lord?” Ophelia places her fingers on his cheek, caressing it softly while a lustful grin is portraited on her lips. Her eyes were pure greed and Terrel felt the insane need to take her way. He wanted to hide her somewhere, incarcerate her from the eyes of every single sinner in this garden.
“Of course” he didn’t understand the meaning behind her ideas and so, in the middle of the confusion in his mind, his grip lost its strength, allowing Ophelia to create some distance between them.
“Then I’m sure you are aware that the most important piece is the Queen... She is the one who protects the King after all...” Ophelia grins and Terrel comprehends he had been controlled by her, “I’m sure you don’t want to lose your Queen so soon... right?”
“Do you take me for a fool!?” Terrel was compelled by the anger as he yelled. The nobles started to gossip and soon the air was filled with whispers as the attention fell on them.
“Of course not my lord. How could I consider such a profane thing?” a sarcastic reply flows from Ophelia’s lips.
“Who do you think you are Ophelia!?” he knew she was mocking him and that only made his emotions rise.
“Lord Terrel, we are yet to be wed so please don’t forget your place” she smiles.
‘And now she's giving me orders!? Who does this slut think she is!?’ Terrel couldn’t help but feel enraged. Her eyes looked down on him as if he were a mere lump on the road, something that could easily be taken care of, something useless.
“You little...!” he swings his arm.
“Lord Terrel, it would be wise to restrain yourself, remember where we are... It wouldn’t be good to stain the Wharton’s image, would it?” as he heard Ophelia’s words, his hand stops and he clenches his fists in anger. He knew he couldn’t taint his family’s honor since it would be his eventually so, even filled with annoyance, he walked away followed by his younger brothers.

 

✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽

 

As I see Terrel walk away I feel my body strength starting to leave. Sweat drops were coming out of my pores and my arms started to tremble.
‘I need to leave,’ if I stayed here in this state everything would be in vain.
“My dear guests, I hope you are enjoying the party so far, I will be with you shortly” I declare right before heading towards the Hillgarden’s mansion.
As I look around I noticed that the majority of the house was empty since all the maids and butlers were all serving the guest in the garden. I reach one of the rooms and launch my body on the comfortable red couch with all my leftover strength.
‘I want to throw up’ I kept on remembering Terrel’s lips pressed on mine. His grip on my wrist. His voice. His glare. His grin.
“Slut. Whore. Disgraceful. Useless.” I kept on repeating everything single thing Terrel had told me during my past lives, all of the names he had called me, all of the things he had made me feel. I place my right arm on top of my eyes, covering them and hiding my runaway tears. My arms trembled and my mind felt like it had begun shattering, piece by piece.
‘Maybe the darkness will make it go away...’ I thought but I was wrong. It didn’t. I clench my fists in frustration. I could still remember it all, feel it all.

“Master, are you alright?” Jade appears and I instinctively sit up straight right before cleaning up my tears.
“Yes I am fine” I bluntly lie since that was the only thing I knew how to do.
“In my land, there’s a saying that mothers usually tell their children, “Men can’t move mountains however Gods can do anything”. At first, I thought it was stupid, there’s no way Gods exist right? But it is true, as years go by mountains move, they change and they adapt.” Jade sit beside me and smiled kindly.
“Mountains moving? That’s irrealistic” I let out a sigh.
“Haven’t you noticed master? The terrains will change over time and I’m sure that will happen with your pain too” in his own way, I understood that he was trying to comfort me.
‘My pain healing with time? That’s the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard,’ a chuckle filled with pain escapes my body.
“I already know how my fate will play out so I don’t expect anything to be healed since there is nothing to cure in the first place” I glare at him, creating a frustrated look on his face.
“Of course there is Master! The pain you feel, I can’t begin to understand it but I’m sure it can be healed!” even then, he hangs himself on the small strand that people call ‘hope’ as he said these wicked words.
“Jade, you can’t heal something already dead” I get up and head towards the entrance.
“But Master...!”
“Stop meddling and do what I bought you to do” his painful expression makes a slight pain affect my heart but, even then, I couldn’t lean on him.
I’m alone. I’m well aware of that fact. For 177 years, I’ve been alone. That’s a truth that even Gods can’t change and neither can a mere slave.
“I’m sorry milady!” a maid bumps into me as I was opening the front door towards the garden. Even with her head low, I recognize her: Milly, a maid at Duke Criswell’s mansion.
‘Well, well... What do we have here?’ I grin as I puzzle the pieces together. I was already aware that Duke Criswell would attempt something at this party, he wouldn’t attend it otherwise but, even then, I didn’t know he would be so bold as to entrust a mere maid to do his dirty work.
‘Gilbert’s silence won’t help his anxiety,’ I knew that hurting Gilbert would cause a situation that I couldn’t foresee but, at this point, I’ve made so many changes that nothing is a certainty anymore.
As the maid walked towards the kitchen in a rush I felt a sense of ecstasy run through my skin.
‘Little rabbit, let’s play hide and seek, shall we?’ I chuckle right before heading towards Amanda.

 

✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽

 

“Dear sister, I hope you are feeling better” Ophelia smiles politely as Amanda glares at her.
“Of course, it was nothing but a mere cold” she smiles while Duke Criswell ate a piece of pumpkin pie.
“How are you enjoying the party?” Ophelia asks and, of course, without thinking too much on the matter, Amanda spurs out her honest opinion.
“I would’ve done it a lot better, it is sorrowful, to say the least,” Amanda flips her crimson hair back right before sensing the Duke’s hand on her shoulder, “I mean, it is your first time organizing such a party, it is natural that it isn’t perfect but I’m sure the next one will be better.”
Amanda swiftly corrects herself while the Duke’s attention turns to Earl Hillgarden who was carefully drinking his tea. The Earl had heard it all but ignored the silly remark. At this point in time, they both needed something from each other so causing resentment towards either of the sides wasn’t beneficial.
“You’ve done well, my child” Duke Criswell tries to caress Ophelia’s right cheek but she swiftly backs away without any restraint.
“I understand... Thank you for your honest thoughts sister. Then I shall be back shortly, my other guests are waiting” as she turned around she is overwhelmed by the scent of lavender: Bradley Trace.
“Lady Ophelia, you look exceptional” he bows down and kisses the back of her hand while his eyes glare at her. Ophelia knew everything, she could see the lustful greed in his eyes but even then, one must play the role of a puppet properly.
“Thank you, Lord Bradley, that is very kind of you” she smiles politely, “How are you enjoying the party?”
“It is a wonderful event however it would be even better if I could have your presence to myself” he places his typical charming smile on his lips and, as Amanda hears these words, her expression turns pained. She had finally comprehended what Ophelia had told her before. Amanda could never have Bradley’s heart since it always belonged to her little sister.
‘Come out little rabbit... Let’s play...’ Ophelia was purposely provoking her sister even if she wasn’t aware of it herself. In Amanda’s eyes, this was just a display of everything that always happened between them, and that’s how Ophelia wanted it, ‘The master of illusions can only control the minds of the fools.’
“You flatter me, my lord...” Ophelia didn’t deny his approach and Bradley looked dumbfounded. He couldn’t understand this sudden change of behavior, she never talked to him in such a sweet tone of even with such tender words.
‘Ophelia this... Ophelia that... It’s always her!’ Amanda hated her sister. She always took everything from her, she murdered their mother, Lilith, she took the attention from her father, Alvin and she knew all the gossips and rumors that the maids created. It was always so painful.
‘It’s all her fault... If she would just... Disappear... That would be... Perfect...’ Amanda’s thoughts were in an extremely dark place. She wished that her sister would’ve never been born, she wanted her out of the picture. She had taken everything from her life and this time, Amanda wasn’t going to watch it happen. Bradley was hers and that was enough.
“Would you be so kind as to take a stroll with me around the garden?” Bradley smiles and, right before Ophelia was able to reply, Amanda’s sanity is shattered.

A knife was pointed at Ophelia’s neck while her left shoulder was being grabbed tightly. Amanda’s arms were shaking and sweat was dripping out her pores. As this scene unfolds, Bradley's eyes widen in shock, and the Wharton’s run towards them. The nobles in the garden all gasped, this was something that no one could predict.
‘You dared...’ Bradley’s expression soon turned into pure hatred. He knew he should’ve gotten rid of the rat before but he still clung to the hope that she would understand his message. As the knife grew closer to her neck his hatred turned into fear. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing Ophelia like this, and so his soul became tainted with his worries.
“Lady Amanda... Put down the knife...” Terrel and Mace try to meddle, appealing to Amanda’s sense of self but it was useless, she was too deep in the abyss.
“What do you think you are doing!? Have you no shame!?” Duke Criswell intervenes with all his sensitivity but is completely ignored.
“Amanda... Dear... Don’t do that... Let go...” Bradley tries his luck as his eyes were clouded with concern. He didn’t want Ophelia to die in front of his eyes, he wanted to protect her with all his might.
“Shut up!” Amanda’s arms tremble harder and that’s when Ophelia knew she didn’t have it within her, she wouldn’t be able to finish the job.
Bradley looked at Ophelia but, even with a knife pointed at her neck she didn’t flinch, her eyes showed no doubt or fear, instead, they looked delighted. Right now, her deep ocean eyes had a new unknown glimmer, turning his concern into desire. This psychotic side of Ophelia was something he had never seen, something new and dark. He found it addicting, like a drug that one could only hope to obtain, and so did all the members of the nobility in the garden.

“Why can’t I stop staring?” is the question in everyone’s minds as they would see Ophelia’s lustful expression.
“My dear sister...”
“Shut up! I’ll kill you!” Amanda’s voice started to crackle from the agglomeration of nerves. Her mind was starting to waver.
“Do you know what happens when you kill a cursed child?” Ophelia’s lips portrait an evil grin and Bradley gulps as he could swear that the being in front of him was not human, in fact, it was a demon, a horrid beast that had lost its sanity just to be ruled by bloodlust.
“I said shut up!” Amanda’s grip was starting to grow weaker.
“Do you know... A~man~da?” Ophelia’s hand grabs hers and forces the knife deeper into her skin, making small blood drops drip out. Amanda’s complexion turns pale as she sees the red fluid leave her sister’s body.
‘How is this a woman we’re supposed to use Patricia!?’ as the scenery unfolded before her eyes, Holly couldn’t help but feel a growing hesitation in her inner self. She had started to realize that maybe they were the ones being used.
“Stop! Ophelia! Let go!” Amanda was trying her best to remove her grip from the knife but it was useless since Ophelia gripped her hand even tighter.
“Wrong answer!” Ophelia turns around and pierces the knife onto her neck a little bit further, making a small river of blood pour out.
“Stop! I don’t know! Let go!” Amanda was panicking because no matter how much she struggled, her sister wasn’t letting her hand go of the knife.
“Then sister, shall we find out!?” Ophelia chuckles as if she was thrilled to feel the pain in her neck, to feel the blood leave her own fragile body. The psychotic grin on Ophelia’s lips only grew bigger.
“No... No!” Amanda yelled as her vision started to become extremely blurred by the overwhelming tears.
“Who is the real monster here Amanda... The cursed child? Or her murderer!?” at this remark Amanda’s mind breaks and she passes out.
“How unsightly” Ophelia states after letting go of her. She looked bored, almost as if she had lost her most precious toy. The knife tainted with blood falls on the dirt floor.
Everyone was quiet. No one was able to utter a word, since everyone thought that everything up until now was nothing more than a mirage, something between the real and imaginary.

“My dear guests, this event was organized for a reason...” Ophelia breaks the silence as a grin appears on her lips right before picking up her light blue teacup, “On Lady Catherine’s ball I was drugged and the culprit is right here”
‘Drugged you say?’ Lady Catherine was well aware that Ophelia was lying. She didn't drink anything that night and they both knew it, ‘Indeed, this girl is interesting’. Catherine couldn’t help but feel a growing desire in knowing more about such an intelligent girl, her charm, her seduction but, most importantly, her mind.
“How do you know?” Earl Hillgarden intervenes as his face hid his true intentions. He was already aware of how useful Ophelia would turn to be since he had seen her influence right before his own eyes.
‘Of course, you have to question me...’ Ophelia knew that it was only natural for the Earl to be suspicious since this was a serious accusation that could taint his name.
“Because my tea is filled with poison” she places the teacup against her lips and drinks its contents in one gulp.

Hello everyone! Hope you are all doing well and have enjoyed the story so far! I would like to tell you that me and a fellow author got together and created a discord where you can chat with us about the novel, among other things! If you'd like to join here follows the link: https://discord.gg/RrVe5cJ7Hs

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