Passion. Lust. Jealousy. Greed. Hunger.
          They were all interlaced in his embrace, his kisses, and his touches. I was there to satiate his needs, to enclose that missing puzzle piece. I thought I could tolerate everything, but when he had tied my hands and legs apart like a sacrifice and reached for a sword hanging from the wall, I gulped.
          Tracing the blade against my neck, he snickered. “You know, you remind me too much of her.” I gulped again, to which he cackled. “Don’t worry . . . I might bite, but I won’t kill.”
          “Wh-what would you like?” I croaked.
          He swiped the knife against my arm, causing me to wince. “Did I say you could talk?” I shook my head. “Good, you can only talk when I say so. Now, where was I?” He was grazing the cold blade on the surface of my skin again, but this time, I could feel a heavier pressure coming from the sword. “Ah, I remember.” He cut my leg this time. Now smiling ever so boldly, he uttered, “Do you know why I requested you?” I bobbed my head left and right. “Because you look and act like her.” Then, he started to lick my wounds before biting on them. “Uh huh, you’re not allowed to make any noises unless I say so,” he reminded me. “Renelle.”

          “I’m not her,” I mumbled, “I’m Lady Ren.”
          The sword cut my other arm, tainting the white sheets with more blood. “You’re just as disobedient as her.” He grinned.
          Disobedient? When was she disobedient? Hadn’t she been faithful to him all along?
          His tongue now deviously trailed along my neck.  “Are you sure you aren’t her?”
          I hollered, “I’m not her!”
          “But, I think I can call you whatever I please.” I thought he would slice my ankle this time. Instead, he gazed at me before emphasizing, “Renelle.”
          I tried to break free from the cloth that restrained me. Upon witnessing my reaction, he kept repeating that name. I wanted him to cease talking, but my arms were not powerful enough.
          He just laughed. “Now, who’s the victim?”
          “What are you talking about?” I asked.
          “Don’t act innocent with me, Renelle. You know very well what you did before.” His face was only inches away from me and I could only turn my head to avoid his glare.
          “I don’t know,” I muttered.
          “You don’t know?” he scoffed. “Maybe, I can help you remember.”
          I felt a sudden burst of pain erupting from my hips. Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I begged, “Stop Thayne! Stop!”
          “Can we?” He towered over me, wearing nothing but his boxers.
          Though I was hesitant, I nodded. “Okay . . . I trust you.” He started with a kiss that trailed down my neck and then to my abdomen. When I felt his hand touch my pelvic region, I rolled to my side. “I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m not ready,” I whispered.
          “But I thought—“
          “I can’t, Thayne. I’m scared.”
          “Scared of what? Don’t you trust me? Don’t you love me?”
          “I do love you, but . . .”
          “But what?”
          “I just can’t. I’m so sor—“
          “How many times do you have to do this to me? Every time . . .”
          “I’m sorry, Thayne. I am. I really want to, but my body just automatically reacts this way.”
          “So, you finally admit you’re her!” He now snickered while buttoning his dress shirt. He had finally finished his business and had already untied me. I felt so disgusted, even more than the first time. “Look at what you’ve become, a whore! Ha!” Shifting my eyes to his malicious ones, I bit my lips and just glared. “What are you looking at?” he persisted to taunt.
          “Looking at you,” I stated, “looking at how I should kill you.”
          I stood up, despite my numerous bruises and cuts, and I marched towards where he stood.
          At first, he merely laughed along with me, but once he saw my approaching figure, he hollered, “You’re crazy, Renelle!”
          I glanced at the ribbon that had been removed from my elaborate gown and I knew what to do. I giggled as I snatched the piece, stretching it out in front of him. “Maybe I am a little crazy now, but does it matter?”
          He at once tried to bolt for the door, but he was too slow. I tugged at his wrist with all of my strength, dragging his body down. Slipping on one of the bed sheets, he fell sideways to the ground. I quickly squatted on top of his chest and slide the ribbon around his neck. I pulled and pulled with all my might; my knees restrained his arms by crushing them downwards.
          Not enough. Not enough to kill.
          He managed to grasp the end of my hair. Diverted by pain, I lost control, allowing him to seize control. His hands clutched my head and bashed it against the ground over and over again. I could feel the blood oozing from my forehead. I was beginning to lose grasp of reality and I knew that I had to do something.
          The ribbon was only a few inches away from me. If I just elbowed him at the right time, I might have been able to retrieve it. Much to my luck, I escaped from his hands and ran towards it. He teased disgustingly, “So, what are you gonna do with a ribbon?”
          Heading towards the door, I noticed another sword hanging on one of the walls. If I could just have that sword, I could kill him. If I moved now, he was bound to realize my intentions. I had my back towards the sword and planted my feet there. I wanted him to know that I was scared. I wanted him to think that I had given up. My eyes quivered back and forth and I breathed more often.
          He believed me and I knew due to his smirk, his arrogant smirk. He steadily walked towards me and when he was only around ten steps away from me, I was prepared to do what it took to live. Now only a few centimeters away, he cocked his head to a side and ridiculed, “Like you can kill me. Just wait until I tell your boss about this. Now, who’ll be the one that’s killed?”
          After his question, I turned around and unsheathed the sword behind. I charged forward and in went the sword deep into his abdominal region. Blood splattered everywhere from his mouth to my body. I could almost hear him utter a word. So, I rammed the sword further in until I saw him tumble backwards onto the ground before hearing a crash to his skull.
          By then, I was panting, completely exhausted. The vigor in me had vanished, and the sudden sense of relief was too enchanting for the sword was dropped to the ground. Before I could even think, I felt the ache of the sword plunging in my stomach. He was still alive, but only for a moment. He had delayed his death for mine.
          As I fell forward onto his corpse, I saw through the reflection of his pupils, my naked self, and my disgusting persona. Was this who I was? I could not even list my qualities anymore for I could only see the flaws, the withered parts of my soul. I had become numb and essentially immune to sadness, pain, anger, and happiness.
          So this was the life of a doll, a breathing doll. I spoke for you. I listened to your sorrows. I asked for nothing in return, except for the basic provisions. I forgot what it was like to want and to have goals and dreams. I stared endlessly, focusing on a spot on the wall. Most of all, I felt nothing, except the coldness encompassing my body to thoroughly bring aches to my muscles and the blood dripping like raindrops from my forehead to the tips of my fingers. Struggling to even blink, I merely stared at the faded, rose-patterned wallpaper, thinking that I too was fading. My eyes had become weary, too drawn to sleep. I knew I couldn't sleep. Sleep was a fatality, and so I curled my fist to always remember the texture of the ribbon in my palm. My eyes, however, disobeyed my mind. They were shutting now to eternal darkness.
          It was that dream again, the same one that I had experienced year after year.
          I was running past the bamboo forest. I was running from my pursuers, men armed with swords and sharp shurikens. My breaths were becoming shorter and shorter as one hand clung onto the fabric on my chest and the other at the hem of my kimono.
          If I could just run towards the town, then . . .
          “Ah!” I tripped and quickly touched the back of my thigh. Blood stained my fingertips and as I stood to run again, I felt sharpness plunging into my back. “Argh!”
          “We’ve got her now.” One of the men laughed. “Our Lord would be proud. Once she’s dead, it’s all over for him.”
          Another blade struck me, and this time, I heard a young lady’s voice. “You deserve this. You know very well you do.”
          “Why?” I gasped and again, I felt a piercing stab, but this time, to my thigh. “I trusted you.”
          I was so cold, so frigid, but I felt a warm embrace and heard a desolate cry.
          “Wake up! Wake up! Don’t close your eyes! Please, just wake up! Don’t leave me again. Just stay. I don’t care. Just stay.”
          My eyes were closing then. I couldn’t triumph over my exhaustion. I couldn’t see him again. A blurred figure.
          I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for everything.
          No matter how much my body craved to hold onto him, I felt a force pulling me away. I couldn’t move at all. My feet were rooted to the ground, and there was his thunderous glare.
          “Are you happy now? This was what you wanted all along right?” he roared.
          The one time that he looked directly in my eyes, he had to slash my heart. Why? Why couldn’t he love me? Why did he love her?
          I was choked my own guilt to the point where I could not breathe anymore. Once I opened my eyes again, I saw that crying woman again. Her hand had extended towards me, lulling me to another place.
          This was a room fully covered in gashes from the finest blade. A man clothed in regal attire tightly gripped onto the shaft of a long sword. Beads of sweat were rolling down his temple.
          “Argh! Argh! Argh!” he bellowed.
          He kept swiping his weapon everywhere, ruining all of the decorations until he tripped and sunk to his knees. He was panting hard as he planted his sword firmly into the tatami floor. Slowly, his eyes watered, and streaks of tears plummeted to the ground.
          Then, he exploded into laughter, “Hahaha! If you had listened, if you had been with me, none of this would have happened! Ha! Finally! You are ruined and he too will die! Ha!”
          I could sense the pangs in his voice. This was a broken man, a heartbroken soul. I had the desire to rush to his side and wrap my arms around him. I wanted to tell him that it would be fine. I would be there for him.
          Instead, it was the woman, who placed her arms around him. She was fading though. I could see through her body, and I was sure she knew too. Weakly, she grinned at me, almost as if beckoning me to come.
          I would have moved towards her, but . . . I heard his voice again.
          Don’t go. I need you.
          Are you happy now? You must be enjoying this scene, right? This is what you’ve always wanted, right?
          I’ll find you, and this time, I won’t let anyone harm you.
Chapter 6                                                                             Chapter 8