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     “You are simply a masterpiece.” A black haired woman spoke, sitting down with both arms on the table.

        “Delora, please. You and I both know she deserves it.” A blonde-orange haired woman replied, sipping her wine from a small glass, seemingly enjoying every drop of it.

        “I wouldn’t know that, unless you tell me why she does.” Delora rested her head on her left hand, looking at the blonde with doubt. “Nina, the girl came running here as soon as she caught Parfait doing magic, and refused to tell us what actually happened”

        “Interesting~” Nina mused, circling her finger on top of the wine glass. “Guess the curse really took a toll on her. Which of course is a good thing, but it has been half a year, and my guess is: she hasn’t done anything to actually try and break it.” She said, maintaining her neutral smile.

        “No—Well, at least I wouldn’t know.” Delora said, closing her eyes, recalling bits of her memories. “She’s no freeloader, she does what she’s told, and she doesn’t complain no matter the given workload.” She straightened her back, crossing her arms. “So I’m actually quite interested to know how a diligent girl like her got stuck with a curse. 

        “Hmmm…” Nina looked at her empty wine glass. “Get this travelling witch another bottle and I’ll start talking~” She raised her glass slightly, smiling at the black haired witch.

        “Self-proclaimed travelling witch.” Delora sighed, swaying her hand. Particles of light slowly collected on the table and with a small burst of lavender light, a wine bottle appeared before them. “Alright, start talking.” She leaned, resting her chin on both her hands, listening closely.

        Nina opened the bottle excitedly, immediately taking a large gulp of alcohol. “Haahh..” She exhaled, relaxing her back and placing one arm on the table as she held the entire bottle. “Alright then, let’s talk about little miss Pinocchio.”

        Delora’s eyebrows raised, her interest clearly taken. “A liar to the boot I see.” She made a small smirk, her curiosity growing by the second.

        “Liar?” Nina looked at Delora with an eyebrow raised in doubt. She held her chin, looking at Marchen’s wooden ceiling. “No… What she did was beyond that.”

        Lying was just her hobby.

        “Ahahaha!” A scene from the past plays out, a young lady with blue swirled hair, laughed. She had a soft, yet sharp smile and silver eyes that feigned interest. “I’m quite sorry, but engagement is completely out of the question.” She held her chin, looking around. “However…”

    She was fierce, intelligent and cunning.

    She placed both her hands in front of her, smiling. “Business is always open to those in need.” She closed her eyes, seemingly happy. “Your family is financially struggling, yes?” She spoke, looking at the man before her.

    He trembled, terrified of what’s to come. “Y-Yes…” He stuttered, unable to keep a straight face.

    “Then the least I could do is help, let’s go over a contract shall we?” She smiled, placing a pen and a paper on the table.

        She was beautiful, yes, but…

    She looked outside the windows, watching a carriage disappear into the forest, never to return again. As soon as the carriage disappeared from her sight, she turned her attention towards a table, on them was a compilation of signed papers and contracts.

    Her deceitful nature, however…

    She walked towards them, her long dress dragging behind her, picking up one of the papers and her smile remaining constant and unchanging. “Business as usual.” She whispered under her breath, looking at her part of the contract.

    Was an even bigger force to be reckoned with.

    She ripped the papers apart, tearing them into tiny pieces, scattering what was once a formal agreement between two parties on the floor, leaving them there as she walked away. The tapping of her heels echoed rhythmically within the large, empty room; slowly making her way towards the door.

    She opened the doors and stopped. She turned her head slightly, her eyes looking carefully at a portrait of a man with navy blue hair, showing off a big smile, filled with joy and content as he held a young girl with short blue hair closely, her silver eyes looking at the man in childlike confusion.

    The girl then turned back, her smile fading, leaving the room and closing the doors shut, only leaving echoes throughout the hallways.

    “A con artist?” Delora asked a question, interrupting Nina.

    “No.. Not quite. She was a noblewoman, but with how things were, you can count her as one.” Nina replied, shaking her bottle in a slow and circular path. “Initially her little hobby was just a means of protection, but when she realized how much she can play with people’s emotions…”

    “It grew into something else.” Delora sighed. “And what’s this about protecting herself? No, actually, how did you know about these things in the first place?” Delora crossed her arms, looking at the blonde, irritated.

    “Ehe.” Nina let out a short and small chuckle.

    “You did not-” Delora stood up from her chair immediately, angered.

    “Against the rules or not-” Nina answered quickly, before she could get scolded. “A kind young girl driven to such a horrible loss of morality, made me wonder what could have possibly happened for such a drastic change to occur.”

    “So you knew her before?” Delora tried to calm down, going back to her seat.

    “For a very short time, yes.” The blonde smiled softly. “If anything, this is just my way of returning kindness.”

    “What did... her memories feel like?” Delora asked slowly, concerned yet curious.

    Absolutely horrible.

    “Excuse me, mistress.” A woman spoke, filling in the emptiness of the hallway.

    The blue-haired girl’s shoulders stiffened, turning her back immediately. Behind her was a woman dressed in a maid’s uniform. Her blonde-orange hair tied up into a low, messy bun, bowing at the young lady.

    The girl’s facade broke, her eyes wide open. “Who are you?” Her voice cracked. “I know all my maids and servants and you’re not-!”

    Slam! A palm was placed directly on her forehead, fingers slowly enveloping her head, time slowing down, and a single voice echoed through her head. “Delilah Genevieve Victoria Van-Allas, I hereby curse you.” A sudden burst of bright green light illuminated the hallways as her mind slowly blanked out.

    Fate isn’t so kind to even let a young child live peacefully.

    “Such a disgusting child…” A young woman whispered quietly, fanning herself. “Perhaps a maid? No- a commoner? Or maybe even a witch!" She closed her fan, looking at a man walking beside her. “Are witches capable of such a thing?”

    “Regardless, seeing as how the child’s mother remains unknown, she’ll probably be thrown out eventually. Although… ” The man laughed, holding up a rolled paper. “Business is business. That child shouldn’t matter to us!”

    The two walked away, unbeknownst to them of a child paying close attention to their conversation.

    Day in and day out, she heard the exact same thing from just about everyone, and just when you thought things couldn’t get any more worse...

    A young girl sat on a chair, her back bent towards a bed, holding the sheets tightly, covering her face completely, trying to stop her tears from flowing. Within the large, yet empty room was only her, and a man’s frail and weak hands stroking her head, slowing down until there was no more movement.

    “Her final touch with her humanity left and just like that...” Nina was solemn, looking at her empty bottle. “Delilah—at the tender age of thirteen—lost her father to an unknown illness.”

    Delora’s eyes softened looking at Nina. “So... How exactly is her curse like?”

    “If she keeps lying any longer, she might just turn into a puppet herself.” Nina answered, Delora’s eyes widening. “Cruel, I know, but I could have been crueler. Simple acts done and words said in honesty, no matter how little, could reverse it bit by bit.”

    Delora looked away. “Her mother was in no way a witch.”

    “Yes, I know that, otherwise I could have sensed it myself.” Nina placed the bottle on the table. “Just like your little princess.” She quietly chuckled. “How is she by the way?” She tilted her head, smiling at the other witch.

    “Nina.” Delora said with a sharp and menacing tone, looking at her with anger, but sighed. “That… Would be a story for another day.” She said irritatedly, admitting defeat.

    “Another day, indeed.” Nina smiled, waving her hand, whisking the bottle away.

Word Count: 1,423

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