You open your eyes to a room of luxury. The bed is soft, and comfy. You want to just lie there, and sleep forever. The blankets are just the right temperature, not too warm, yet not too cold, warm and fluffy like a cloud. The sweet smell of freshly baked desserts comes from the kitchen down the hallway. You pull yourself up and ring a silver bell. Immediately a maid comes in and brings you freshly made breakfast, a pie.


Whipped cream wraps the pie crust like lace on a dress. The smooth glaze is like glass, reflecting the light in your eyes. The crust is baked into the perfect light brown, and you don’t see a single burnt part. The lattice was done to perfection. The criss-cross of the evenly cooked crust looks like a drawing, a piece of art you could hang in a museum. You could see the creamy filling from the inside, a light beautiful brown; the brownish colour of an apple pie filling.


You put a bite-sized piece of the apple pie into your mouth, and you instantly sink into heaven. Forget everything, you can die happily now. You feel as if your life goal is achieved. The filling, which you expected to be hot, is quite warm on your tongue. As you bite down, you hear the crunch of the crust as the soft filling rolls around your tongue. It’s just sweet enough for you to taste it, but not sweet enough to cover all the other flavours in the pie. You chew slowly and savor the bite. The crust mixes in with the filling, and the pie in your mouth becomes smooth and creamy. After a while you swallow, and greedly look down at the whole pie in front of you.


Since when did life get so easy? You feel like you forgot something just now. But whatever it is, it couldn’t be that important. It’s probably just another one of those dreams. You get dressed, with the help of several maids, and decide to go outside to do some shopping.


You ride your lofty carriage down the street, to the grandest district for only those of high blood. You drive through the district, and no one dares to stop you. Who would stop Princess Roxana, the sole daughter of the Grand Duke, and the soon-to-be crown princess? No one.


The carriage arrives quickly, and you get off. You condescendingly place your hand on the knight escorting you out. Sir Richard, the knight that had been tasked to serve you for a year now. He used to be a handsome genius, fated for overwhelming success. All the young ladies wanted his heart. He had the perfect body for swordsmanship, and was a diligent man who charmed all his mentors with his talent and skills.


But now, a year later, who would’ve thought he’d become like this? His face is pale and gaunt. Dark circles etch deep around his eyes, like those of a panda. He was demoted again and again. He is only twenty, but with an aged air around him. His body looks no better than the condition of a walking dead. The only thing alive was the sharp malice in his eyes, glaring at you, who brought about his downfall.


How many talents have fallen this way? Once they’re at the top, they just keep falling. Maybe it was time to replace him, with someone newer, someone fresher, someone younger. Someone more talented.


You enter a store, and immediately a blue ribbon catches your eyes. It looks familiar, like you’ve seen it before. It doesn’t matter, events of deja vu happen regularly. You walk towards the store. However, before you get there, someone gets it right before you lay your hands on the ribbon. You recognize the man immediately, the second prince, Xavier. You had seen him in parties, always overshadowed by the crown prince. You snatch the ribbon out of his hand almost immediately. Who is he gonna buy it for anyways? A commoner girl from the streets?


Just thinking about that makes you angry, and you’ve lost your interest in the ribbon. Forget it, it’s just a lowly ribbon anyways, there’s probably many more. You drop the ribbon on the ground in disgust and walk away. You enter your carriage, running over the prince trying to retrieve the ribbon. You look out, and see the annoying prince causing the bump and continue to drive. You don’t feel regret driving over him, just mildly annoyed by the slight bump.


You don’t notice the hateful eyes Xavier gives you. Even if you did, you couldn’t care less. He bends down and picks up the ribbon with his numb hands. He fumbles trying to pull it out of the dirt, trying to tell his hands to quickly retrieve it. However, his whole body was still in shock after the carriage incident. Finally after some time, he pulls it out, somewhat clumsily. He brushes the dust with his clothes, and tries to wipe away the mud in vain. The bright blue ribbon is stained with brown. The prince drops down, looking ragged and pathetic. His black hair is messy, no longer smooth, and mixed in with dry leaves and dirt. His smooth handsome face is wet with blood, and he felt pain all over his body. The prince drew in deep broken breaths of fear and exhaustion, as he tried to stabilize himself again.


However, as almost by magic, a surge of willpower comes into him. His eyes are no longer dejected. Determination sweeps in, and the brilliant red eyes now glint with bloodthirst. He is mad now, very mad.


Two years later you sit by your bed. You wake up and stretch, going by the same routine. The morning pie no longer tastes amazing, and you could’ve sworn the bed became harder.


Everything was tiresome, the same old. Everything has been downhill since… since… that day you met the second prince. That day when you saw the somewhat familiar ribbon. You dismiss the thought from your mind. Thinking it was all just a coincidence, you dress up for the royal ball today.


Wearing a blue silk gown with soft white laces, you enter the ballroom grandly. Instantly everyone’s eyes turn on you, as always. However, they turn away almost immediately. You frown, and look at who else dared to steal your spotlight.


It’s Xavier, the second prince. You look at him curiously; he’s changed so much. Blood red eyes shining brightly, he looks like a lone wild beast. Suddenly, feeling your gaze, his eyes land on you. Immediately you feel a slight chill on your back.


His eyes instantly darken. However, his gaze returned back to normal instantly, and looked away. You bite your lip in anger. As for why you are angry, even you do not know the cause.


The crown prince walks in, and sits down at the throne. He isn’t the crown prince anymore, but the King, his Majesty Killian. You look at him, starry-eyed. He is your fiancé, and in a year, you will become queen.


Killian looks at you, smiles lovingly, and invites you for a dance. His graceful figure holds up a hand, and you gladly accept. The song plays slowly, a music you’ve danced to a thousand times. Killian looks at you, you look at him. HIs eloquent steps complement yours, and his handsome red eyes stare into your soul. The pace grows quicker for the second movement. You twirl, and your silk gown flows with the wind. The prince holds you tightly.


The rest of the nobles are just audiences now. They become only mere decorations on a cake. You two step around the ballroom, a match made for heaven. Everyone fades into the shadow, drowned by the light you and Killian give off. The music comes to a slow halt, and you part your ways.


The crowd gossips. Not one person doubts your role of future queen, and all look favourably at the couple. Prince Xavier had left some time ago, faded into the shadows. You forget about him, and dance a few more songs with Killian. The clock rolls around midnight, and guests start leaving. Killian sends you off, with the words “I’ll see you soon”.


The next day, you hear the news. The Killain was killed. Slaughtered in his sleep by the traitor, Xavier. You turn red with rage and anger. Killian was the king, how could he die? You sink into your bed, thinking about the words, “I’ll see you soon”.


However, tears don’t come rolling down. You don’t feel the pain of losing someone you lost. Just the position of the queen. What is happening? You wonder. You were so sure you were in love. You were in love, right?


A soft knock on the door snaps you back to reality.


“Mistress, the seco- his majesty has arrived,” a maid tells you. You smash a teacup on the ground. With Killian gone, who else would be king? The disgusting second prince of course. You can’t believe the fact that he would go see you, after all he has done. You bite your lip, and decide to down.


Prince Xavier, or rather King Xavier, was lying lazily on the couch. He looked at his home, sipping a cup of cold tea. His eyebrows didn’t raise the slightest as you came in. You look at him carefully. He looked quite like Killain, the same red eyes and black hair. Their height and body shape were almost identical. The main difference was that Killain was warm, but towards this new king, you can’t feel a shred of warmth.


You sit down, without permission, and ask a maid to pour you tea. The silence weighs heavily, like a blanket, in the sitting room. Suddenly, Xavier twitches, his eyes coming to meet yours. A flash of silver light, and you find a sword by your neck.  You retreat towards the back of your chair in shock.


“Are you-” you pause and look at his hands. On the wrist was a ribbon, a blue dirty ribbon, the same ribbon from two years ago. You hear a click, as if a gear turned, and you dive into a sea of memories.


Suddenly, you remember the deal with the devil. That cursed contract. You aren’t from this world. You were from Earth, then how did you end up being the villainess of a story? Not just any story, but a story that you wrote?


You were just a normal, impoverished author. Everyone left you, no one believed you could make a living writing books, even your boyfriend. When you fell, there was no one to catch you, except the devil. He let you be reincarnated into your own story, to taste a moment of luxury in exchange for being the villainess.


Xavier also paused, his eyes wide open.


“Rowan?” he asks uncertainly. He slowly moved closer, “Rowan is that really you? Rowan? He promised, he promised you would be here.”


You flinch. How could he know your name? How did he know your name, your name back on Earth? Impossible, utterly impossible. You are Roxana, the villainess in the story, dying a terrible death by the sword of Xavier along with Killain.


“Rowan, it’s Xavion, you know right?” he choked out, “it’s Xavion, please come back.”


You flinch. Xavion. There was not a soul who knew this name better than you did. Your boyfriend. Or rather, the boyfriend who gave up on you. You loved him dearly, and even modeled the male lead of this novel after his name. All you got was his disappointment and his discouragement.


“Come back with me, come back,” Xavion repeated. You look at him, confused.


“Don’t you want revenge?” you laugh, “kill me now, I’m always weighing you down aren’t I?”


“The ribbon,” he asks, “don’t you remember?”


“No,” you reply immediately, “nothing.”


“That day, the ribbon, the ribbon was a token of love. You forgot everything, do you really care about me? Why would you do this to me? You should’ve changed your job, you could’ve been my secretary. Why did you come here instead? Come back, we can change this. I know you miss your old life, we can come back, we really can,” he says, certain that you will accept. You look at him, annoyed. Did he really think that you would change your job after this? Did he really think you’d be thinking about him every second of your life?


“Our relationship has ended,” you say indifferently, “what do you want me to do now? Why follow me all the way here? To disrupt my peace? Are you a vengeful ghost?”


Xavion looks at you, at a loss for words. He stares you down and his eyes blaze from hatred. His memories flash by, that carriage incident, your condescension, and that indifference. Everything he suffered as Xavier was all for you, why didn’t you care?


HIs sword pushes deeper into your neck. But you don’t move this time. You laugh heartily.


“You want to use force?” you ask, laughing, “your king wants to kill someone in broad daylight? You-”


You choke on blood coming from your mouth. You come to a sudden realization, the maid had poisoned your tea.


Tilting your head back, you laugh like a true villainess. You didn’t end up dying by the hands of the male lead, but instead by a mere side character. Thinking back, isn’t the maid Sir Richard’s fiancée?

Illustration: Hannah Xu