Massive thanks to @allforchaerin for doing up such a lovely poster for FSOP 💗
I’m feeling better the next day after a good night’s sleep. Or rather, a tumble in bed followed by sleep. Ms Pink had wined and dined me before spending half the night in the pink room having her way with me. I took a few liberties too, which Ms Pink had the grace to allow, and I learnt a few things about Ms Pink as I explored and experimented.
And now, in the light of a new day, waking up with Ms Pink staring at me with soft pink eyes, I find a strange emotion knocking on the door of my heart. It pulls and tugs like a baby who wants attention. It’s a new feeling and quite frankly, it scares me a little. I mean, I’m not as stupid a human as Ms Pink says I am. I may be new to this sleeping-with-someone thing but I know what the next development usually is. Unfortunately, things aren’t as straightforward when Ms Pink is in the picture.
For starters, being with Ms Pink takes the meaning of ‘complicated’ to a whole new level. A dark new level. Vampire. Complication level one. Princess. Complication level two. Dominant (or supremely spoilt brat, however you choose to see it). Complication level three. Revenge. Complication level to the power of infinity.
“Good morning,” I say, unnerved by Ms Pink’s silent appraisal.
“Good night,” she says and closes her eyes.
More confusion. Am I allowed to get up from bed? Hold on. Why am I even asking for permission to get up from bed? Has being Ms Pink’s claim for a couple of weeks turned me into an obedient human who needs her claimer’s approval for everything she does? Of course not. I am my own woman.
Moving to the bathroom, I catch myself in the full length mirror in there. Thoroughly kissed lips. Mussed up hair. Red marks down the neck. Marks disappearing into the line of the chemise. A bite mark on the inside of one thigh. I take in the sight as a shiver rips through me. I look—grown up. It’s not the evident marks of sex that give me that aura however. It’s the look in my eyes. I’ve never been able to look at myself this openly before. Something has changed. Someone has changed me.
I turn away from the mirror towards the sink. A new set of toiletries has been laid out for me, which is thoughtful of Ms Pink to provide. Ms Pink. What an enigma. Her actions confuse me. I stare at myself in the mirror after washing my face. This is the face of a clueless human who doesn’t know what she’s doing. The face of a human who is spending inordinate amounts of time with a princess vampire who seems to care, yet not care for her. A human who has no idea how to use the power she possesses. No idea who Praeson is. No idea why Praeson would betray Ms Pink’s father. No idea why Ms Pink’s father was dealing with a vampire in the first place.
The sound of the door crashing open shocks me into dropping my toothbrush. I whip around just in time to see a mini-version of Gerant stomping into the room. With a ferocious growl, it leaps and I stare in horror as Ms Pink is about to gored by its horns. A second mini-Gerant comes crashing in as I dash out of the bathroom and it turns for me. A shrill scream rings out. It takes me a second to realize that it was me. But I don’t have time to do anything else other than dodge and scramble away.
I hear Ms Pink’s enraged holler and a whine as the mini-Gerant pins me to the floor with its horns threatening to pierce my throat. “M-Ms Pink,” I gasp, trying to push the beast away from me. My weakness is evident as the beast doesn’t budge a single inch no matter how much strength I use. A fist flies past my eyes and meets the horns with a crushing sound. Another whine.
Then, a deep voice says, “Pan Ni, Pan Ni. It’s unbecoming of a princess to use your fists on a poor, innocent yenew.”
Yenew? Poor and innocent? Is he mad. That yenew almost killed me!
Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a tall man with grey hair by the door. Dressed in a dark grey Victorian-styled tailcoat tuxedo with his gelled hair swept from front to back, he reminds me of a gentleman at a ball. However, his blazing red eyes make it clear that waltzing and socializing is the last thing on his mind. Ms Pink sits me up and stands, shielding me.
“It is also unbecoming of a gentleman to intrude on a lady’s private quarters especially when the ladies are in their chemises,” she says, her tone haughty like the princess that she is.
The man laughs as more yenews appear behind him. I have to suppress a gasp as they rise on their hind feet and morph into big, beefy hairy men with dark brown tousled hair. “As much as I would like for this to be a pleasure call, I’m afraid it’s not. Business first, as usual.”
“Did you harm my guards.” Ms Pink’s tone is hard and unforgiving.
The man shakes his head. “Tsk, tsk. Tranquilized. It is insulting that you would even ask this question. You, of all supernatural, should know that we do not believe in excessive bloodshed.”
“The Sovereign will know about this.”
A sickening smile breaks out across the man’s face. “How will they know?”
“I will report your actions.”
The man chuckles as eight yenew men sweep in and surround us. “We’ll see, Pan Ni. We’ll see.” He steps toward us, drawing out grey straps from his tailcoat.
Him too? Why do all supernatural people have access to straps on-demand coats?
Because they copied my design, being the uncreative, blockheaded immoral mutts they are. Don’t resist or you’ll be hurt.
I look from Ms Pink to the man and a cold cloud of fear sinks into the pits of my stomach.
“Now, now. Don’t be afraid, little human claim. We won’t hurt you. Not for now.” The man stands before Ms Pink with the grey straps and his eyebrows sink into a deep frown. “Turn around, Princess. Or my well-trained yenews will pull your claim apart, limb by limb, bite by bite.”
I can’t believe it. Ms Pink is turning around as he instructed. Be quiet, Taeyeon.
“Arms behind you.” The man steps closer with the straps and wraps them around her elbows and wrists, effectively immobilizing her arms. “Who would have thought it’d be this easy to do this,” he says with a chuckle. “Take her too.”
The yenew men pull me up by my arms and hold me an iron grip, giving me no chance to escape.
Follow them. Don’t fight.
“I sense some mind speak going on.” The man stops and turns around, looking at the two of us. “Don’t get any funny ideas, dear Pan Ni.”
“I was only telling my claim to obey your orders, Praneos.”
“Is that so.” The man that Ms Pink calls Praneos narrows his eyes and looks long and hard at her. I hold my breath. Finally, he seems satisfied that Ms Pink was telling the truth and continues walking down the corridor. A gasp escapes my lips when I see the mess of bodies slumped against walls and the floor. But true to what Praneos said, there are darts sticking out from their necks.
Those must be tranquilizer darts. It’s okay. They’re not dead. But Ms Pink never told me she had so many guards in her castle!
I am Tiffany Pink. These chains will not bind me. I am Tiffany Pink. These chains will not bind me. I am Tiffany Pink. These chains will not bind me.
Ms Pink, are you alright?
Stop listening. Focus on walking.
I try to switch off her thoughts but fail to, so I am left to listen to her reciting those two statements like a mantra over and over again as we leave the castle. Stepping out into the open, I blink in the light of the early day. Whatever this man is, he isn’t deterred by the morning light. Then again, Ms Pink has never been overly concerned about the time of day either. I make a mental note to ask her about it once we escape. If we escape.
We are locked in two separate compartments in the trailer at the back of the shiny grey jeep waiting on the path leading out of the castle’s compounds. It is pitch black inside once the iron doors are shut. And cold. I wrap my arms around my body and huddle, feeling miserable, confused and scared. Who is Praneos and what does he want with us?
Ms Pink? Are you there?
I am Tiffany Pink. These chains will not bind me.
Yes, these chains won’t bind you. You can get out of them if you want, right?
I can’t. I can’t.
You can, Ms Pink.
The straps are too tight. Too strong.
You’re stronger, Ms Pink.
Nooo . . .
I don’t get an answer. The silence consumes my calm and replaces it with increasing worry. Something is wrong with Ms Pink. Something is very wrong.
Tiredness threatens to knock me out but I huddle tighter and hold on to my consciousness. I have to be here for Ms Pink. I have to stay alert for us. The trail comes to a rumbling stop and I sit up straight, preparing myself for light again. But a strange sensation that resembles a rapid elevator ride hits me and I realize that we are ascending somewhere.
Ms Pink, are you okay?
Still no answer. What has happened to Ms Pink? I need to see her. I need to know she’s okay. A metallic clanking sound tells me they’re letting Ms Pink out first. Then, the door on my side opens. I brace myself for the influx of light but there is little of it even when the door is fully opened. Two yenew men pull me out and hold me between them. As I grow accustomed to the dim light, I can make out Ms Pink, standing like her usual imposing self. Gone are her terrified thoughts and fearfulness. But the slightest tremble of her lips gives her away to me. I can only hope nobody else is privy to the hidden state of Ms Pink.
Slimy stones make up the walls that surround us. And our only source of light is in the hands of a yenew man who is leading the way. The passage is narrow but it soon expands into a wider space that ends at a tall, metallic grey door. I train my eyes on Praneos’ fingers as he presses two of them on a pad in the wall. The door slides open, revealing a large, stone cold room, the size of a lecture theatre.
This is the fourth supernatural building I’ve been in and I have one word to describe all of them: Distinct. From Ms Pink’s pink overkill and Helene’s black obsession to Melior castle’s rainbow grandeur, the supernatural have proven to have extremely singular tastes. Extreme being the operative word. And this place is no different. It is clear that the colour theme of this place is grey. Everything is grey. Grey stone walls. Grey granite floor. Grey drapes that sweep dramatically from left to right of the ceiling. A dark grey carpet demarcating the path down the middle of the room. This is basically akin to Ms Pink’s singular taste for pink, only it’s grey instead.
And I never thought I’d ever say this, but I actually prefer Ms Pink’s pink castle to this drab, gloomy grey interior. Maybe it’s the situation we’re in. Maybe it’s the cold that is beginning to make me shiver. But right here, right now, I’d pick pink overkill over grey overkill.
From nowhere, a thick, rough voice rumbles through the hall. “Welcome, Princess Pan Ni. It’s been a long time.”
In the coldest tone I’ve ever heard, Ms Pink replies, “Not long enough.”
“Now, now, let’s not get off to a wrong start, shall we?” A chuckle. “You may want to find out what I have in hand before deciding on your attitude towards me.”
Several yenews appear from the darkness and a row of lights on the ceiling light up from behind us, over our heads, to the other end of the hall. And from the shadows steps a man who looks remarkably like Praneos. I swear, if it weren’t for the difference in their clothing, I would’ve thought they were the same person—whatever they are. This man is as tall as Praneos. In fact, when I think of the name Praneos . . .
Ms Pink’s icy cold tone blasts through my train of thought, derailing it when she says, “Praeson, we meet again.”