“THE EX-GUARDIAN OF THE ISOLATED CASTLE AND THE CHARMING WARLOCK”

Should this tale begin with “once upon a time”, although not that long ago?

When it comes to romance, The Ex-Guardian of The Isolated Castle is mostly a skeptic instead of being the more hopeful one…deep down inside. If love or whatever it is those sick puppies refer to these days were a god, then she’d be an agnostic.

Then The Charming Warlock came into her life, treating her like a princess. The Ex-Guardian had no recollection on how to feel and act like a princess. She didn’t even have a memory of such things, back when she used to live in The Isolated Castle with The Other Residents.

“You are always so strange,” remarked The First Princess snobbishly, the only princess in the castle. The Mighty Queen has two daughters, but for some strange, unexplainable reason, only one can be the princess. “Only strange ones attract one another.”

The Ex-Guardian has always hated her condescending remark, but what if The First Princess has always been right?

Is this why creatures like The Charming Warlock are attracted to her, instead of some prince charming – like in other fairy tales? Is this because she is no princess, but more of a lone warrior?

Why was The Warlock so charming? Because he was acting like a prince to her…at first. He treated her over dines and they had a pleasant and interesting talk.

However, there were dark sides of him that The Ex-Guardian was aware of. Not only her, but her friends noticed things too.

The Charming Warlock was playful and flirtatious with The Ex-Guardian, but somewhat indifferent to her friends. There were many things about him that made her question and second-guess.

What was he up to, really? She didn’t know when to take him seriously. She couldn’t. He was rather tricky.

It was like playing chess, where you have to think at least three steps ahead. Appear cautious, but not terrified. Put on a poker face every time he tries to get inside your head.

It was like dealing with completely two different personalities in one man – and you could never really tell which was more dominant, which one was real.

The Ex-Guardian thankfully had her sharp instinct too. All the while they were interacting, she’d never really let her guard down. Despite being perceived as ‘overly cautious’ and ‘almost paranoid’, she didn’t care. In reality, she’s always been the only one who should really take care of herself – not other mortals.

The Charming Warlock had wanted to ‘change’ her from Day One. He said that was the only way that they could be together. No, she couldn’t do that. She wouldn’t, no matter how tempted she was and how intoxicatingly inviting his spells were.

The Ex-Guardian was aware of the risk. Once she ‘turned’, she could never go back. The Other Residents of The Isolated Castle might never welcome her again.

The Charming Warlock was disappointed. The Ex-Guardian thought he hadn’t been that serious. (All warlocks are tricky. They can be anything they want for you, say anything that you want to hear. Anything to get what they want before leaving you behind.)

Very well, then. The Ex-Guardian let The Warlock go.

For a while, she was okay. She lived her life as usual.

Then he came around again, still expecting the same thing. The Ex-Guardian thought the whole thing was just a dumb joke.

However, some of her friends had different ideas. Give him another chance. Maybe it’ll be different this time.

Who were they kidding? What was she thinking? What did she expect?

A warlock is still a warlock, no matter how charming. There have been ‘fallen maidens’ he’d left behind. Sometimes he returns to them, at least for the time being.

Sometimes he doesn’t.

When The Charming Warlock left her for the second time, her fury rose. It has grown much stronger, more fierce for the past year.

The Ex-Guardian may have made sure that The Charming Warlock had never gotten ‘too close’ with her. She made sure that he could never ‘have’ her the way he had other maidens, even if her whole life had depended on it.

She thought the same old storm was already over. She thought that was it.

When he returned again, The Ex-Guardian was ready. She’d learned her lesson the hard way.

This time, his spell didn’t work as strong. The Ex-Guardian had developed some serious resistance within.

This time, he failed. This time, she made sure that he’d really get the point and just stop trying. She’d even tried to break his heart in return, only to no avail. She kept forgetting one thing:

All warlocks are basically heartless. They’re only up to what benefits them most and nothing else.

Once again, The Ex-Guardian was free of him. Unfortunately, some of The Charming Warlock’s ‘old spells’ have corrupted her mind and tainted her soul.

She’ll never look at love the same way again.

The Mighty Queen had been informed little bits of this unfortunate tale. Sadly, she couldn’t do much to ease her daughter’s boiling rage and cold despair.

“Your Majesty,” The Ex-Guardian addressed her respectfully…and rather mournfully. “I have this unspeakable, inescapable dread. Next time, how will I know if he is a true prince instead of a warlock?”

“Unfortunately, you still have to find out anyway.”

It’ll take time for the poison to wear off. Right now, her heart is still as solid and cold as a stone and her mind is still in fragments – like shards of glass that cut through every thin layer of hope.

There are nights when The Ex-Guardian will look up at the dark sky, silently whispering to The Holiest One:

“No more warlocks. Please…”

R.

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