It Begins

Light in my eyes. Bright, obscene, enraging. I preferred the shadows, the darkness, the total absence of light that I had been living in. But no, they had to drag me out. Kicking, screaming, begging to be let free. Now I am here. Stuck. Tied to a chair, the light shining on me, on my eyes, into my soul.

She will be free, she will be whole again, she will cease her unwanted behaviour. They want to make me who I was. Once, long ago, I was her. They loved her. But she was only a part of me. Slowly we became one, when they weren’t looking. We became me.

There were once several of us. The different faces for different situations, different people. Not separate personalities per se, more like separate masks. They miss the mask they knew. They don’t seem to realize that behind it was always me.

She was the first mask. The first one I created. The first one I had to be to fit in, to keep them unaware. It worked for so long that I forgot myself. I was her. I was hidden even from myself. For years I was other. Other masks over the one that was her. They hid even her from the outside world, from the ones that would hurt her.

And then he came. He stripped away all the other masks, washed away all the other paint. All that remained was her, and me. He did not know about me. He thought that she was all there was. He wanted someone that wasn’t her though. He wanted more of me. He didn’t know what he was asking for.

He thought that he was adding to her, he was stripping more and more away. He wanted a woman to do his bidding. He gained a woman that knew how to anticipate his needs, his wants, his every desire. He wanted a woman that would not question his orders, his requests, his decisions. He did not see that he gained a woman that saw everything, I had no need to question, I knew I was going to make him pay.

I tried to simply let him go. I grew tired of being hurt and so I gave it one last try to just let him walk away. It hurt so much to watch him walk away but I knew that all that remained between me and the rest of the world was the smallest part of my mask. I tried to rebuild her, I truly did. I needed her. She was all that kept me safe from the world. She was all that kept the world safe from me.

I did all I could to build her back up. But he kept trying to come back into my life. Every time he tried to strip more away. He kept taking what was rebuilt. And with every bit he took, he took a little more. My only way to survive was to take what was left of her and merge her in with myself. I didn’t know what would happen.

I blocked every access to me that I knew still remained. I ran. I hid. I tried to no longer exist as far as he would know. But still he found me. He used a path I forgot existed, one I could not close. He found me in the morning, and through the day he reminded me that I was his. He told me that I had no one else. He told me no one else would even notice if I was no longer around. He told me that I had no choice, that I was still, and would always be, his.

Did you know that when the only good remaining in you is under attack that the rest of you will defend it? I tried to bolster my light, I made my calls. Again I was without support. No one that would understand was there. The only one I could find I could not confide in, he would kill for me. I would die for him. And so I did the only thing I could.

I took the remainder of my light, I let my darkness engulf it, surround it, absorb it.  I saw her in my eyes, the new me, the fully integrated me. I watched as the light withdrew, hid. I watched as the crimson grew, became vibrant, filled my eyes, my heart. I would guard the light, save it for those that deserved it.

Within a few days I did as I was requested, I went to see him. I allowed him to touch me. I permitted his kiss. I welcomed his taste. When he was no longer watchful, when he allowed his walls to rest, when his cock was buried deep inside of me, I made him pay. I gently stroked his cheek, a move he was accustomed to from me. As my thumbs slid down I adjusted my course and pressed them deep into his eyes. As I did, I locked my legs around his thighs, he could not back away, he could not pull out, his cock was deep inside of me and I felt it harden with the pain before the rest of his body reacted.

Knife

When he could not see, as he opened his mouth to scream, I pulled my daggers from beneath the pillows. One was stabbed through his throat, blood sprayed over my hot, sweaty body. The other slid between our bodies and removed what connected us. I released my legs, he flew backwards, I felt his cock slip from my pussy, the blood pouring over my legs. I stepped over to him, I removed my dagger from his throat, more blood, I was coated in it. I stood and watched him as he died. The last words he heard was my nearly silent goodbye.

Bloody Woman

I suppose I would have gotten away with it had I thought before I left. A naked, blood coated woman tends to attract attention after all. They decided that his harassment of me had caused me to snap. So now I am here. Sitting in the light as they discuss what they think should be done. I know what I have to do to gain my freedom. I will build her back up. She will return, in a fashion. She will be simply a mask again though. The portions of her that they search for, that they believe count, the light is no longer. No one will see it again. But the mask, the mask will return.

Mask

I will remain. There are others out there, others that hurt, others that must pay. And I will be there.

Crimson Duchess

(With thanks to Emory & Crimson Princess for the pictures)

Choose Your Destiny #8

http://trueangelofgrue.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/choose-your-destiny-chosen-destiny-1-by-true-grue-angel/ (the beginning)

What the hell is this? I bolt around the corner and stop dead. There’s glass all over the floor.

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Kind of glad I found these shoes. Those damn slippers made the worst shuffling sound and the soles would have been too thin for this. I can’t go back, it leads back down to where that….thing was. I was lucky enough to get past it once, I won’t chance it again. But it was worth it to get the shoes, although I wonder why anyone would have left them behind. I supposed that creature might have been after them too.

There’s an open door part way down the hall, the sounds I’m hearing don’t exactly encourage me. I tried the other hall but there were those creepy doctors, and they’d already nearly caught me once. I also found a room with hooks hanging from the ceiling, that’s where they nearly caught me. But I bolted into the other room and into an open vent. There are times being little is good. I saw them look under the desk and in the closet. I almost gave myself away when I saw the dead woman.

Anyway now I’m here and procrastinating like mad. I can’t for long though. I can hear something and I can’t help but wonder which is deadlier, whatever is out here in the hall with me, or whatever is in that room making those squishy, tearing sounds. I’ll take the icky sounds. Either way I don’t think I’m getting out of here alive.

I walk carefully on the glass, trying to make as little noise as possible. I don’t want anything or anyone to hear me so…. Oh! It’s the man I saw earlier. The doctors dragged him out of the closet where that poor woman was. I look down, see the nurse things and look back up. He’s looking at me now, striding towards me. I back up quickly but he’s faster than I am and he has me against the wall, by the throat. He looks me over carefully; I’m trying not to squirm, or anything. If the situation were different this would be quite the turn on. Oh dear god how can I be thinking that at a time like this? Maybe I’m trying to ignore the dagger pressed against my breast. Ok, I give up, I’m going to die anyway. I slam my knee into his groin, and smash my elbow on his neck. I lift him partially off the glass, as much as I can, but I hear the thing in the hallway getting closer and I can’t just leave him here.

When he wakes he’s tied to a chair, and I have his pretty daggers.

Warenski-ruby-dagger-wCrimson Duchess

My Path

For days I felt anger, betrayal, pain. For days I wished to have never wandered this path. And yet I continued to walk it. This is not the path I love. This is not the path I choose. And yet, here I am. For days wandering a path not of my making, not of my choosing, not even of my own desires.

I look left, then right. I look back the way I came, but all that is behind me is darkness, anger. I look ahead and see nothing different. But should there not be an end to this at some point? The anger, betrayal, and pain are pounding at me, hounding me to continue on down this path, no other exists!

I love a good slaying, as much as the rest of my brethren. But there is no slaying ahead, only the false promise of such. There is a crimson trail in the centre of the path but I can see more clearly now. The crimson is syrup; this path takes me where I’ve been before. It was a bad place, a lonely place, a place without bleeding, or loving, or heart. A place that took what made me, that took my heart, my soul, that drained me of everything that made me live. If I continue I will survive, but live? I will not live.

As I hesitate, standing still on the path, I hear the sound of thunder, of anger, of anguish coming up behind me. Should I stand for long I will be…overwhelmed. I cannot go back, I cannot stay here, and I have absolutely no desire to go forward. I look to either side again, there is nothing there. Simple emptiness. Nothing to stand on. No choice. I step off the path.

I’m not falling? The snarling, snapping, growling fear, anger, hurt is on the path. Trying to get to me, failing. It won’t step off. I look down, oh bad idea. I see nothing but emptiness below me. I can’t stay here, standing still will get me nowhere. I turn my back on the path. I am afraid, and with that fear I see a path on the ground before me. It leads back to the other path though, so I step back off.

I close my eyes, centre myself. Remember what it was like before you hurt me. Before you stole my faith. Before you reminded me that trust, love, and devotion do not have the same meaning for others that they do for me. I remember what it was like to be me. I remember the feeling of being true to myself.

I feel a new path form beneath my feet, and I open my eyes. It seems to lead away from the one behind me. It is red, blood red, crimson. As I travel along it I realize that off to the side is a river. It is as red as this path, perhaps more so. The path touches the river, weaving along beside it in some places, nearly being devoured by it in others, but although they are one, they are also two. I continue on, and see poppies growing between the path and the river. A willow tree up ahead, the leaves weeping blood.

I stop and take a rest, my feet in the river, laying amoungst the poppies, I reach my hands back to the path and feel another hand take mine. Fear, shock, surprise! All spin through me as I turn to look! The path shudders as if taking a hit. Peace, strength, trust. All flow back into me as I see who it is that is on my path. All is well. I step back onto my path, keeping hold of my heart. Bloody footprints from the river left behind me as I continue forward.

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Crimson Duchess

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, the house is silent. There is no movement save my fingers on the keyboard. I sat in the living room for about an hour before coming upstairs. Sitting primarily in the dark, the Christmas tree the only light, a warm, soft, glow. A small pile of presents sit beneath the tree, only a few as I’ll be at my parent’s place for Christmas and some gifts are already there. I sat in peace, quiet, serenity. I know it won’t last, I’ll wake at 4 am and my day will begin. There are pine boughs on the mantle, a small string of lights weave through it, a small number of miniature ornaments draped throughout. More pine boughs weave through the stairwell, under the railing of course. (I am after all quite capable of stumbling on the stairs when a cat chooses to dart between my feet.) Another long string of lights would normally light my way up the stairs but I have chosen to turn off all but the tree tonight. I enjoyed the solitude, I am enjoying it still. But I came up to send off a couple of emails, check if my phone is charged, make absolutely certain that there is nothing left to wrap.

There are no signs of Christmas where I sit. My computer takes the desk space nearly completely. However, should I turn my head to the right and look out the window Christmas is everywhere. There is snow on the ground though the temperature today has been above freezing; the only clearing has been driveways and roads.

On the lawn across the street there is a small pine. Every year there is a small group of neighbourhood kids that decorate the tree. They come with garland, balls, empty boxes wrapped in paper, and a star for the top. The neighbour that owns the tree puts lights on at the beginning of December and leaves the rest for the kids. They came early this year with all but the “gifts”. The older kids have been sneaking up to the tree since just after dinner and putting their boxes underneath. My guess is that they’ve decided to preserve the Santa thing for the younger kids that are now a part of the decorating. The tree glows softly in the semi darkness. Most houses have left on their Christmas lights, the street lamps offer their glow, but the glow that shines the brightest is the little pine tree.

I know we all have our own Christmas traditions. We all have our own thoughts on this night. For some it is stockings, candy, and gifts. For some it is mistletoe, evergreens, a time of change. Others believe it to be a most of holy of nights, a birth of a child, the beginning of our renewal, our savior come at last. There are so many things that are thought of, believed. I won’t even try to list them all. I know my thoughts but they are mine. I think we can all agree that this is a time for family, whether by birth, blood, or heart.

So on this Christmas Eve as I gaze out my window know you are being thought of, held close, loved. May you wake to all that you need.

Merry Christmas my loves,

Crimson Duchess

Sisters

wp.me/s43Mak-duchess Part 1

My sister growls, low, softly under her breath. My monster prefers the tears, the begging, the moment when prey realizes that they have no chance of escape, of release. But, she does not mind the screaming. It is after all only the slightest of sounds in our song. Like the bass, the screaming must be there to make it worth dancing to. Time to bring in the melody.

My sister and I, we harmonize well together. Years of practice before I hid my Duchess away. Her Maiden has tried several times to bring her back to play, the song was lonely with only one voice. Her Scythe sounds lovely but seems to enjoy when my daggers join in.

We glance at each other and I turn back to our prey. Scythe dances along his spine, I knew there was a reason she wanted the open back chair. My daggers make snowflake patterns on his chest and down his arms. When I peek at his back I can see the bone, but she’s not severed anything yet. She smiles as the snowflakes fall from his skin. He’s stopped screaming, he seems to be in shock. I hear Keeper coming towards us, he bends down in front of prey and tilts his head. He looks up at the ceiling to the hook my sister placed there recently. We understand.

Our prey seems elated. We are unwrapping him from the chair. Does he think he is going free? Such a hopeful little toy he is. I hear the doorbell. Hmmm… I unwrap my skirt and grab a robe from the wall. I can feel my Keeper watching me. Whether it’s because I’m now half naked or he’s waiting to see what I do I’m not certain. Perhaps both. My sister continues to adjust our prey as I head up the stairs. I hear Keeper behind me, will he be help or hindrance? As I get to the door Keeper pulls me aside. He opens the door and speaks with the men on the step. Yes he’d seen prey, last night actually. I’d called him. I was afraid. There was someone in the tree outside of my room. I slip quietly away as he speaks with them. Upstairs, into the shower. It is only 6am or thereabouts so they won’t be surprised if I was still in bed when they arrived. I come down the stairs, drying my hair with a towel, calling out “Who was it hun?” Stopping short when I see the men in the doorway; I clutch my robe more tightly around me. “Oh!” I blush as the officers look at me. One looks longer than he should, Keeper sees. Perhaps my next toy? The officer in charge notices too, damn not my next toy. He sends him out to look at the tree, Keeper has made it sound as if I was terrified when the guy hung out at my door for twenty minutes before finally giving up and leaving. The officer in charge says he’d like to ask me a few questions, but he’ll wait until I get dressed.

I head around the corner and quietly down into the basement. I let my sister know that we have police upstairs and she smiles. As I go back up the stairs she takes him through the doorway. I’ll have to meet her there later. Once I am dressed I head back down to the living room. I apologize for the delay but the officer says it’s fine. He asks me some questions, I answer them truthfully. I’m nearly positive the man had been there before. No he’d never come to the door previously. I blush when I tell him that I was… playing over the phone with my guy. He asks me when did the guy leave? I tell him I’m not certain, I didn’t actually see him leave. The officer thanks me for my time and heads out. They see where he jumped out of the tree, but as the ground is dry there is no way to tell which way he went when he left.

After the police leave I change, and then Keeper and I head back downstairs. He looks surprised to see that my Maiden and prey are missing. Seriously, did he think we would take that chance? We may be a little crazy but we sure as hell aren’t stupid. He looks at my low growl, he realizes that Duchess is already back out and there is no prey in sight. I lick my lip as I watch him walk quickly to the door. He opens it and steps back, away from my monster.

I hear my sister’s Scythe singing as I stalk through the trees, my daggers pulling me in her direction. But I hear another sound as well, a low singing, not entirely pleasant to my ears. I enter the clearing, my prey is hung from a tree? I tilt my head to look at him as a machete suddenly swings towards my head. I block it with a dagger, my other at his throat in an instant. My Maiden growls a warning, I step back away from this masked invader. Oh, this must be her new playmate. He reaches towards me and she growls again. His hand drops, at least he learns quickly.

I see our brother over by the tree, he is watching our interactions with amusement. I wish to be annoyed but that smile… fuck. Keeper enters the clearing and Maiden growls another warning. This man introduces himself, Marcus. Keeper drops to his knees before brother; calls him Dark King. Curious.

I walk over and kiss my brother’s cheek, Keeper watching me. He watches as Maiden does as well. He seems uncertain as to why we take such liberties. He is more confused when our brother returns the gesture, and lets me hug him tight.

I hear a whimper, oh prey is still alive? I had thought my sister had taken care of him but it seems she waited for me. Oh how I love her. I circle him slowly, seeing what she and Marcus have done in my absence. There is not much flesh left but my sister seems to have left his… rod for my amusement. Or perhaps Marcus and brother did not wish to see. I slowly touch it, Keeper looks away. Does it bother him that I am touching it or does he not wish to see what I might do? *shrugs* Oh well, I refocus my attention and within moments, even with all the pain he is in, he is hard, sticking out from his body, begging for my continued touch. I take a step back and nod to my sister. Scythe falls. Prey screams. Before he dies I kiss him softly. His eyes barely focus but he sees me. I smile. He sees my daggers last as I collect my sister’s trophies.

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Crimson Duchess

Duchess

He creeps through the night like a leaf on the breeze. There is the odd sound but nothing that can be tracked. He peers through her window, he’s done this on many nights. Tonight her window is open, letting in the sounds of the night, allowing the breeze to caress her as she sleeps. She is nearly invisible in the pile of covers and pillows, he can barely see her shining hair splayed across her pillow.

As he strokes himself, quietly in the dark, watching her lying in bed, he hears a sound. He looks around carefully. He doesn’t want to be spotted but he doesn’t want to fall out of the tree either. He sees nothing, hears nothing further, but can’t help feeling as if he is being observed. He shrugs and looks back in her window. She’s gone! The blankets have been tossed back. He sighs softly. Oh well it’s not the first time she’s wandered off in the dark, had he not been looking around though he would have had a chance to see that body of hers. She wears next to nothing to bed, just underwear most nights. He loves to see her breasts as she sleeps, the moonlight caressing them as she breathes…he’s hard again. His hand moves rhythmically as he recalls the movement of her chest in the night. He’s watching for her return, he won’t cum until she is back, he likes to pretend she can see him. She walks back into the room, she’s on her phone. He doesn’t recall hearing it ring so she must have called someone herself. It’s quite alright though, he knows she can’t see him and she’s sitting there very much naked tonight.

What’s she doing? He watches as she digs through her side table. A moment later she pulls a dildo out of the drawer. Within moments she’s put her phone on speaker, he can barely make out a man’s voice as he talks to her. The bitch is cheating on him! She’s getting off in front of him, letting him watch her as she pleasures herself to another man’s instructions! Fucking bitch! How can she do this to him? He continues to stroke himself as her hands run over her body, as she plays with her nipples, as she begins to slowly move the dildo in and out of her pussy. He’s stroking himself faster now, keeping time with the movements of her dildo. He tunes out the man’s voice; he’s so fucking hard he feels like he’s going to explode. He can’t wait, he’s going to cum just as she looks up and locks eyes with him. They cum together, she keeps her eyes on his as she removes the dildo, says something he can’t hear and turns off the phone, stands up and walks to the window, opening it the rest of the way. She smiles at him, and then wags her finger at him. Bitch! She’s cheating on him and she’s got the nerve to scold him? I don’t fucking think so!

He drops down carefully out of the tree. She’s no longer in the window. He walks to the front door, she’ll open it, he knows she will. He hears that sound again and turns around quickly. Still nothing there. She’d better open the door soon. He stands with his back against the door, watching out into the darkness. Every other night it has been his friend, his co-conspirator, helped to hide him from her eyes. Tonight though, it feels as if the very darkness itself is breathing, growling, hungry. The shadows feel like living things as he stands there, reaching, clawing their way to him. The door opens behind him, he nearly falls inside. She smiles at him, amused. This annoys him tremendously. He opens his mouth to say so and she shakes her head, pointing at the stairs. There is someone asleep. She takes his hand and leads him into the living room, and asks very quietly “Would you like something to drink?” He nods a yes and she leaves the room. He hadn’t realized how thirsty he was until she asked. She hands him a glass of water, and as he drinks it the front door opens. What the fuck?! This new chick is carrying a Scythe! He tries to stand and falls over, he fights to stay awake. The last thing he hears is laughter.

“Let’s take him down to the basement, then you can go wash up. We have time.” We drag the creepy stalker dude down the stairs. It should take a couple of hours for the drugs to wear off. We tie him to the chair in the middle of the room, nearly naked. My sister uses barbed wire, she has an affection for it. She places her Scythe within plain view. It should be the first thing he sees when he awakens, should we not be back yet that is. We wander back upstairs, she goes into the kitchen to make us something to eat, I head up to have a quick shower. It’s going to be a long messy night but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t start off looking my best.

I’m back downstairs in a little over half an hour. We have a quick bite. There’s no desire to have to rush things simply because we are hungry after all. My sister is dressed all in black, her blue eyes her most distinct feature when she is attired this way. On the other hand, although the majority of my attire is also black I also like a little colour. My corset has two rivers of crimson, they continue their path down my skirt as well. Standing as I am you cannot tell but my skirt has a slit on either side, my movement mustn’t be impaired after all. Should I adjust my skirt you would see a dagger strapped on to each leg, but most people never see them, merely feel their bite.

My sister tilts her head, he must be waking. Her Scythe must be singing, my daggers are beginning their song and it would appear that they are in harmony tonight. Oh! Now my stalker has begun his song! I do wish he would try to carry a tune, one would almost think he was screaming. We rise slowly from our chairs and head down into the darkness.

I walk over to him, my fingers gently caress his cheek. He stops screaming. He is staring at me now. He tries to move toward me and realizes rather suddenly that he is not being held by rope. The screaming begins again. My sister is amused but then she has always enjoyed the screams of her prey. I prefer the sudden silence but to get mine, one must have hers. She glances at me, then at the door in the corner. She is offering to move this to her place. I know she is hoping I’ll agree, she has a new friend there that would love to be a part of this. But I can’t agree to move him; I made a promise to our Keeper. Speaking of which he should be here soon. He does love to watch. I don’t like to disappoint my sister though, perhaps her friend would choose to come and play here tonight. I make the suggestion and she walks through the door. She won’t take long I’m certain.

When Keeper arrives my little stalker begins to beg to be released. He says he didn’t know that I belonged to someone. Keeper glances at me, I hand him my cell and he begins to chuckle. It’s nice to know he approves. He asks me where my sister is, this gets the attention of my creeper as he suddenly looks around as well. He hadn’t noticed her absence. I point to the door, Keeper nods but lets me know that he is tight on time tonight. If she is not back soon, I will have to keep this one until the next night.

The door slams open as my sister strides through. Her new playmate is not with her. There is another though, just through the doorway. She tells me he is brother. “Yours or ours my sister? Do I have need to claim him as well?” She walks over to greet Keeper then turns to the door and beckons him. He shakes his head. I walk to the door, I won’t go through so I stop at the edge. He comes to me, kisses my cheek, and tells me that we will meet again. Those eyes! It is a few moments before I realize he has drifted away. We shall have to discuss him later my sister and I.

I glance at Keeper and he nods as he reclines in his chair. My sister has the jars ready, the fan is on as I cannot stomach the smell of those damn containers. My sister is nearly salivating, we are finally about to begin. As this one’s crime was lust and possession I shall begin there. I begin by gently peeling away what clothes remain to him. My eyes dart to my sister, she is fully Death Maiden now, her eyes practically glow. I am still being gentle, still being Siara, still being somewhat kind. My Maiden smiles at me, her words disappear when her monster is in control. “Eyes last my sister, I wish him to see everything.” She nods, and steps back. One swing from her Scythe and he has a delicate slice running along his arm, it is weeping crimson. I feel my monster fighting me, but I hold on. I am afraid to release her, it has been so long and my fear is that I will never put her back once she is free. My sister cuts my little creeper again, a leg this time, another surface cut. She is pulling at my monster, trying to help me set her free. Until tonight I have been bait, luring them in, leaving them to my sister. It is why Keeper is here. He knows my monster is meant to be unveiled tonight and wished to be present. He is watching me, I can sense his disappointment at my restraint.

Keeper summons me to him, I walk over, my head bowed. His hand reaches towards my head and I lean closer so he can reach me. His hand is suddenly in my hair, removing the clips holding it back out of my way. His wraps his fist in my hair and pulls my ear to his mouth. “Now.” I turn to face my creeper, my captive, my…..prey. My dagger is in my hand singing it’s joy at being unfettered, it’s sister blade begging to be released as well. They are both in my hands now, I stride towards my prey, his eyes open in renewed fear. I continue past him, he thinks he is safe, that I chose not to cut him, until he looks down and sees the crimson river pouring down his chest. My sister cheers. The first slice and my monster is free! My prey is missing a section of skin, my glorious daggers removed it without pain. The pain is however beginning to be felt. Prey gets loud. Keeper calls me Duchess and I blush, he looks at me again, Crimson Duchess.

And Duchess hungers.

 

Crimson Duchess

He/It/They

I can hear him/it/they,

the door is not thick enough

he/it/they will get through

there is nowhere left for me to run.

 

This is my last refuge from him/it/they,

I’ve been running for hours,

I barely made it through this door

before he/it/they slammed against it.

 

The door shudders as he/it/they

slam against it yet again.

My arms ache with the strain

of holding it against him/it/they.

 

He/it/they must be tiring as well

the door is not pushing against me so hard now

when he/it/they slam into it

it’s barely shifting me at all.

 

I hear him/it/they

breathing as if against the crack in the door.

It almost sounds as if he/it/they

Is chuckling.

 

I’ll accept the reprieve from he/it/they

My head rests against the door.

Wait why can I feel his/it/their breath?

Oh shit, there was another door.

 

Definitely they.

 

Crimson Duchess