Reign of Anger

The curtains swayed gently, as the chill of the night breeze filled the room. Guards and handmaidens stood lined at one end of the room near the door. Near the bed, were Princess Esther, and Raya; the daughter of the mid-wife Adana. On the bed, was a thin and pale figure, that could easily be missed by the unfocussed eye. The state of the queen was one from which she could not recover. She had been gravely injured in wars many times before, and each of her recoveries had been miraculous which had earned her the title of the Miracle Queen. However, this time was different, and the queen knew it in her bones that her time had come.
The queen dismissed everyone except the princess and Raya. As soon as everyone left, Esther broke down into a puddle of tears, crying terribly and fell to the bedside, next to her dying mother. Raya stood where she was, sobbing quietly and wiping her tears away violently. She tried her best to put on the bravest face she could. The queen beckoned her to the other side of the bed. Even through tears, one could see the flames of jealousy burning bright in the eyes of the princess at the gesture made.
As Raya settled down next to the queen’s bedside, the queen began, “Now I know you two don’t get along well, but you try your hardest to do so in my presence. I do not wish to die knowing that after my death, you stop trying. I have loved and raised the both of you equally. I’ve treated you as equals and I want you to continue doing exactly that. We all know, my word might not be worth even an ounce once I’m gone, so Raya I want to you to write the following on a piece of parchment.” Raya disappeared to the other corner of the room and returned with a quill and a piece of parchment as the queen had asked of her, in the blink of an eye. “I, the Miracle Queen, Queen Leila Remano, hereby declare that after my death, Princess Esther Remano must become the rightful ruler of this kingdom of Panofray. And, Raya Tartal, daughter of Adana Tartal, mid-wife and martyr, who died protecting the crown in the battle of Vorz, shall be the rightful high guard of Queen Esther.”
Esther wished to erupt like a volcano and spew out all her hatred and disown Raya completely but kept quiet for the sake of her dying mother. Once the Declaration had been signed by the queen, she said, “my time has come my dear ones, look out for each other. Build up on each other’s strengths and perfect each other’s weaknesses, there are difficult times ahead and you will need all the skills you might have. Come near darlings”, both Esther and Raya lay their heads on either of the queen’s shoulders as she spoke her final words, “I love you both so much”.
Too lost in grief, none of the girls moved for what seemed like an eternity. They were startled when they heard a soft knock on the door. Regaining their composure and realizing that the queen was dead they looked at each other for a moment. Raya with hopeful eyes, as always, wishing that at least now the princess would accept her. On the other hand, Esther looked at Raya with nothing but indifference and an emotion which almost resembled disdain, or was it betrayal? Surely, she blamed Raya for her mother’s death. Proved to be unlucky for her own mother and now for mine too. She is nothing but a curse which won’t rest till it devours me as well.
The door opened and the queen’s highest hand maiden stepped in with remorsefully red eyes and said, “We must move Her Highness to be cleaned before the funeral”, her voice choked into a whisper as she uttered the last word. Wiping their faces, the girls nodded in agreement and the hand maiden gave a slight nod, allowing other hand maidens to enter along with two guards and a stretcher.
In her chamber Esther boiled with hatred more than ever towards Raya. She was upset with her mother’s decision to make her the royal guard for Esther. It wasn’t for her to decide! The royal guard wasn’t a position simply given, it had to be earned. Though, Esther was well aware that Raya was completely capable of the position, she was too proud to admit it. Consumed by anger, her mind worked fast and she arrived at the conclusion, I must destroy the Declaration before anyone finds out about it.
Lost in her own sadness, Raya’s feet took her to the royal garden instead of her chamber. It had always been her escape; her happy place when she needed some time alone. She sat on a cool marble bench as a river of silent tears streamed down her face. This time she made no effort to wipe them away, for one of the many things she had learned from her mother was that ‘sadness won’t truly go away unless you embrace it’, and so she did. It had never mattered to her that the princess had thought of her as a curse upon the castle and its inhabitants, but now she began to question if it could be true.
Her mother had died shortly after her eighth birthday, and now the queen too. She thought maybe she didn’t deserve a mother’s love after all. Or at least, not for a long enough period. The only way she could ever be happy again, she thought, was if the princess would accept her in her life. She was well aware that it wouldn’t be easy, but she was a fighter like her mother, and she would die before she stopped trying. As royal guard of the princess-now-queen, she would ensure the safety of the crown at all costs. She was well aware that Esther would do anything to get rid of her, but she could never disobey the queen’s dying wish and hence, was bound by the Declaration.
Suddenly, hands pushed Raya on the ground causing her grip on the declaration to loosen. Instinct took over and before she knew it, Raya was fighting back the princess in a hand-to-hand combat. Esther snatched the Declaration and threw it out of Raya’s reach. She pinned her to the ground and sat on top of her. “You monster! How many more shall die for you to realize you’re a curse upon us?”, with this she began punching Raya in the face. Raya knew all her moves and when she saw her opening, she threw the princess off of her and kicked her in the gut to stand up and regain her senses. The princess crouched on the ground, a hand to her abdomen, breathed heavily. She spat blood and with an evil smile revealed the declaration from behind her. She brought it to the match she had lit, and the parchment lit up in flames. A shuddering shriek escaped Raya’s mouth as Esther smiled triumphantly. Raya screamed at Esther with such force that the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She yelled, “ESTHER! You reeking maddening fool! You, absolute fool, that was the only proof to help you claim the throne. It clearly stated that you will rule after the Queen’s death! In the absence of such a declaration, our enemies can easily wage a war against us!”
As the veil of anger lifted, the knowledge descended on Esther and Raya’s words made sense. The wicked smile transformed into a horrifying look as the words escaped the princess’s lips, “Oh Gods, what have I done?!”

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