They say the devil’s pride brought about his fall. That’s only one thing he and I have in common.
I spend my days fighting for a lost cause: my kingdom. Each day, I slip further and further away from my goal. After I fled, many of my loyal subjects followed me, and now I rule over them in a poor, desolate village just outside my kingdom. My palace is a shack, and my kingdom: a wasteland.
“Princess Opal, we have received word from the Dark Kingdom.” My loyal knight Garret rushed through the door.
“Please, don’t call it that,” I said. The Dark Kingdom: my kingdom had once been full of light, joy and prosperity. “Never mind, I’d rather you call it that than by its true name.” I couldn’t speak it. “What news have you heard?”
“Your sister Avery has escaped. She is on her way to find you. She’ll be here any moment.”
I spun around to face him, my hair catching on my moist lips. I couldn’t dare believe what he had just said, and I was too afraid to ask him to repeat it. My elder sister Avery was more beautiful and regal in every way, but that didn’t make her fit to rule, according to our father, who despised what she truly was: a sorceress. I was supposed to become queen, and I relished it. Luckily, Avery cared little for ruling. Unfortunately, the sorcerer she chose to marry did not see things her way, and he seized my country, turning it into the Dark Kingdom.
I saw it coming before it happened, and I could have stopped it had I only gone to Avery and told her what I suspected, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t ask for her help. I chose to handle it on my own and was cast out of my home.
“Do you think she’ll be willing to fight him?” Garret asked.
I struggled to find the words to speak. “Even if she will, does it matter? Yes, she was stronger than him once, but surely he’s grown in power. If she was able and willing to defeat him, wouldn’t she have already?”
“Perhaps she wants to come to you and give you her support,” Garret said. “Princess, we need this. Your people lose hope in this battle. They need something to rally around. Would your sister not make the best choice?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I fight for them every day.”
“Yet we make no progress.” He said with a bow, cowering like a rat. “With all due respect.”
I knew he was right. I saw the look in the eyes of those who had managed to escape the Dark Kingdom. They were hopeless and ready for death to take them: weak. If they needed something to rally around, I would provide it to them.
“How long before she arrives?”
Before Garret had a chance to respond, the door flung open, and a knight I did not recognize entered. He bowed to me and then turned to Garret. “Sir Garret, Queen Avery is here.”
“Queen?” I asked, expecting no reply. None came. “Where is she?”
“She is just outside, with my men. I thought it prudent to hide her since most of your citizens believe her a traitor.”
“Good thinking,” Garret said. “They would surely wish her dead if they saw her. It is natural for them to see her as an enemy instead of a prisoner of Lord Sharmon.”
I looked passed them as they spoke, as if I could see beyond the door to my sister. I had not seen her in nearly two years, and surely, the time as Lord Sharmon’s prisoner had destroyed her. Perhaps that flame that burned inside of her had finally been smothered.
“Bring her in here,” I said. “I wish to see my dear sister.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” the knight said. He scurried outside like a rodent running from the trap. Within an instant, he had returned. “Princess, here she is.”
As she entered the shack, I felt it brighten just by her mere presence. The love she gave off was a beacon, and in that instant, I knew it would unite my people. It would unite us and allow me to regain my kingdom. However, I knew something else too: I hated her. I hated her for being everything I couldn’t be. If only that light had vanished.
“You’ve been helping Lord Sharmon?” I asked and motioned the knight I didn’t know to leave.
“Of course not.” Avery’s voice was as musical as ever. “I was his prisoner, Sister. I’ve returned to do what I can to assist you. You were always meant to wear the crown.”
That love for me was the thing I couldn’t stand the most, and that was when I made the choice. Yes, she would unite my people, but I would never accept help from her. She would be my scapegoat. Without a word of warning, I unsheathed my sword and sliced a gaping wound across her milky, soft neck. She clutched and gasped at her neck in a grotesque way before falling to the floor.
I stared down at her lifeless body, feeling nothing but more jealousy. Red suited her well.
“What have you done?” Lord Garret asked.
“I’ve saved our cause. Tell them I have killed Lord Sharmon’s queen. Knowing I have vanquished the evil queen will fill them with hope, which will unite us once more.”
I said pride was the first thing the devil and I have in common. The other thing the devil and I have in common: a jealousy that blinds us and turns us into the demons we are.
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