The Blood Rose Assassin – Part 8
Ambrosial blood seemed the only thing in the world that gave Isolde any desire to continue living. Funny thing about living, too; she was no longer alive to begin with. So what was this? Existing? A shell of her former self, ridden with a desire for blood as sustenance? What was she to do with her life now? Did everyone think her dead, along with her parents?
What was the point of existing when her baby and love of her life were gone?
It was oh so kind of Marianne to fetch her an enchanted ring to allow Isolde out into the sun without being burnt into a crisp, but Isolde didn’t go outside. She didn’t leave her room at all, too plagued with the loss and the guilt of what she’d caused.
“My Lady?” Marianne’s voice called as she stepped into the room. Isolde was curled up on the bed again, covered from head to toe in the sheets. She heard Marianne sigh, and the sheets were ripped off her.
“Please stop trying to make me come out,” Isolde told her in a quiet, monotonous tone. She felt even too tired to open her eyes entirely, as if she’d been asleep for days. Although, the funny thing about being one of the living dead was that she no longer had to sleep.
Marianne set a goblet of blood on Isolde’s nightstand and put her hands on her hips. “You think staying in bed all day and night is better?”
“I see no point in living. I wish you’d have let me bleed to death. I wouldn’t be feeling as empty.”
“Look at me!” Marianne snapped. Isolde’s eyes glanced from the ceiling to Marianne’s. “Did you make Lord Umber bring his men here to massacre everyone here?”
Isolde let out a soft sob. “Yes, Mari, it was a butterfly effect!”
“Right, I understand why he did what he did, but there was the choice he could have made to just not do what he did,” Marianne said. Isolde knit her brows together, blinking in confusion. With a sigh, Marianne sat at the edge of her bed. “You didn’t physically make the man storm in here and start killing everyone. There was no sword pointed to his neck, threatening his death if he didn’t. He could’ve swallowed his pride and understood what he did was wrong instead of plan such a sinister thing just because he was slapped in public! And it served him right!”
“Don’t you see how fucked up that is? A woman can’t say ‘no’ in fear of the man getting back at her in some way.” Isolde’s eyes watered. So much crying. She’d thought the crying would stop after a while. “I’m sure he feels like such a man now. What I wouldn’t give to…”
The intrusive thoughts interrupted her mourning every now and then with visions of a more capable version of herself using her sword in a manner that left no mistake. There was no hesitance. She aimed to kill. She beheaded him, stabbed him, sliced him in half. There were so many images that popped into her head, along with the now stunning color of the deep blood as red as a thorned rose.
Isolde blinked and looked at Marianne. “Sorry. I was… lost in thought.”
The look on Marianne’s face resembled pitying concern. If Isolde had any dignity left, she’d snap at Marianne and tell her not to give her that look. Unfortunately, Isolde had been in this room for far too many days. The days blended together, often mirroring one another with no important change.
“You be careful, Isolde,” Marianne said. “You’re still a newborn. You will be for a few… decades at best. Even if you force yourself to stay inside, you have a new instinct, one that is animalistic. If you don’t come outside and hunt with me, I’m afraid that instinct may explode and you’ll do something you regret.”
Isolde smiled bitterly and shrugged. “I don’t have anything else left to lose other than you, and we all know I’m not losing you. Why don’t you use your sire voice to make me go outside?”
“Don’t think I haven’t been thinking of it. I will have to eventually if you keep staying here.”
Direct commands from Marianne made Isolde do exactly what she wanted in the most literal sense. Marianne didn’t abuse it. She never told her to do anything. It was as if Isolde were still an authoritative figure to her, considering she was still addressed as “My Lady” more often than not.
“I’ll come outside, don’t fret,” Isolde muttered, getting up. She downed the rest of the contents in her goblet and licked her lips. “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with myself.”
“Well, luckily, you’re not alone.” Marianne held her arm and guided her out of her room for the first time since the siege.
Isolde looked around wildly in surprise. The floors were spotless. Any debris or wreckage of decorations in the halls were cleaned up and fixed. It looked as if there never was a siege here, although it was eerily quiet.
“How did everything get so clean? How long have I been in that room?” Isolde asked.
“Not that long. I’m not human, remember? This took very little time.” Marianne said with a proud smile.
“Are we the only ones here?”
She smiled sadly and nodded. “I’m afraid so, My Lady.”
They passed the dining hall where she’d seen her parents last. Isolde didn’t even know what exactly happened to them. All she knew was they were killed when their guards had gone down. If their deaths were anything like Niklaus’s, it wasn’t hard to imagine.
Should she be concerned that she’d been mourning Niklaus and her unborn child far more than her parents?
With a sobering sigh, she walked outside through the front doors. The sun was bright, and for a moment, Isolde closed her eyes in preparation for the burn, but it never came. Even after Marianne got the ring made for her, Isolde never pulled away the curtains to test if it truly protected her from the sun.
“I know we don’t have to breathe but… in moments like this, you should probably do so.”
“Fresh air will do my dead body some good, will it?” Isolde mumbled, but she took in a deep breath, and though it didn’t feel like much was happening, the placebo effect of breathing in seemed to ease the unbearable truth of her death.
The birds tweeted as they flew about. A butterfly flew towards the flowers. Images of her crushing Lord Umber’s head with her bare hands popped into her head. She’d never had such violent thoughts. Trying to feel peaceful and find catharsis wasn’t easing her desire for revenge.
“I’m going to kill him,” Isolde said, staring ahead blankly.
Marianne looked at her seriously. “I understand your desire for vengeance, for some punishment for all you’ve lost, but trust me when I say this won’t make you feel better.”
Isolde’s hands shook with anger, and her fingers balled into fists. Her jaw clenched. “I don’t care,” she said. “I can’t let him boast in his home thinking he killed us all. As long as I’m still here, House Rydell is still alive. I just don’t think I need bannermen to help me.”
“Now, Isolde, wait—”
She smiled to herself and looked at Marianne. “I’m gonna kill them, Mari. Every. Last. One.”
“Well, you’re not going alone,” Marianne said after a few moments of silence. “I’m with you.”
Three Nights Later
Isolde refused to hunt. She intended to intensify her urge to kill when they trekked to Lord Umber’s estate. Marianne hunted for her, but at the very least, helped Isolde understand her powers. With Isolde’s newfound goal, her motivation crystal clear, she was more than willing to see what new abilities she had that she could use when she killed all of Lord Umber’s men and especially Lord Umber himself.
Marianne also helped her wield her sword to see how much easier it was to fight with it. With a matched opponent, the battleground was even, but amongst humans, she and Marianne would have the upper hand without any doubt.
“I’ve been using swords and arrows and spears since I was alive in the thirteenth century,” Marianne told her. She looked wildly different now that Isolde didn’t demand she wear her uniform skirts or have any specific appearance requirements. Marianne tied her hair back in a rather messy bun and wore trousers just like Isolde did when she practiced sword fighting.
“There’s really so much I don’t know about you,” Isolde said in awe.
“You have no idea.” Marianne unsheathed her sword in a flash of speed and lunged at her. It was so quick, so fast, but Isolde’s reflexes matched the movements. She blocked easily. Marianne’s eyes flashed with excitement and Isolde smirked.
“It’s even, right?”
“Don’t be so cocky. You’ve got way more power than I do just because you’re a newborn. But I’m still way older than you.” Their swords clashed, and before she knew it, Marianne was gone. Blinking, Isolde paused, her sword out at the ready for defense.
There was a barely noticeable sound behind her, almost entirely silent. Isolde spun around and swung, but Marianne grabbed Isolde’s blade with her hand mid-swing. The other hand lifted her sword and aimed the tip to Isolde’s neck.
All in less than a second.
Isolde stood stock still, but Marianne smiled. “You might bleed a bit if you do this.” She let go of Isolde’s sword to show her that her palm was bleeding from holding the blade too hard. “But it really doesn’t hurt much and…”
The blood seeped back into the wound and it sealed itself up. Isolde smiled with a surprised scoff. “We’re practically invincible.”
“Just don’t get beheaded or stabbed with a wooden stake or doused in holy water or get bitten by a werewolf or go hungry from blood, and you should be completely fine!” Marianne said happily. “Now, I think it’s time we get the revenge you desire so much.”
Isolde held her hand out. “Together.”
Marianne held Isolde’s hand, and with a certain nod, she smiled. “Until the end.”
To be continued.
Featured photo taken by Mathilda Khoo from Unsplash. Altered by Valeria Silva in Adobe Spark.