The Burning Sensation Inside

Queen Isabelle is said to have killed her older sister so she could be queen. But she knows she didn't kill anyone. Her sister went missing. Queen Isabelle has always wanted to find her sister to prove everyone wrong, but cursed by Queen Christina, she can't travel very far before being attacked by a pain worse than being burned alive. Only a special tea can treat the pain. On the day of the annual Queen Meeting, Queen Isabelle has already had the pain three times, and that day will soon become a special day, all because of the burning sensation inside.

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1. The Queen Meeting


     I tried not to scream as the burning sensation tore through my body once again. It had been the third time today, two more than usual. But I couldn't stop it. I knew where it came from. It came from the curse. The pain reached my stomach, causing a little bit of puke to come up into my throat. I swallowed it back, the burning dying down. I let out a sigh of relief. Xavier came in with a glass of ice tea.
     "Thank you, honey," I said, taking the glass cup. I sipped it slowly, being careful not to get a brain freeze.
     "That's the third time today, Mother." I nodded.
     "Sometimes it comes once, but it's worse than the others. Remember the time I blacked out for three days?"
     "We all remember. By the end of the second day, we were about to organise a funeral." I gave Xavier the empty glass and leaned back in my throne. "I'll see you tonight for the annual Queen Meeting." He bowed and went into the kitchen.
     "Ah yes, the Queen Meeting." I was talking to no one in particular, just remembering the past years. I'd always dreaded the Queen Meeting, where all the queens of the land would meet together in a grand hall to have a royal banquet. It was lightened by music and dancing and singing, but we all were quiet, looking at each other suspiciously. Ever since I got cursed by Queen Christina's witch, I never trusted anyone. I turned... Well, I wouldn't call it evil. I just wanted revenge.
     I groaned as I got up from my seat. My legs were sore from sitting for so long, but King Arthur, my darling, came in. I walked towards him, my cream ball gown trailing behind me.

     "Isabella, you look astounding. Are you going for a lighter, friendlier look?" Arthur always had an interest in fashion. "Your crown looks wonderful against your dark hair, much better than the dark red look you went for last year."

     "Thank you. And I was going for the 'If you lift the curse, I'll be nicer' type of look," I said. Last year, I wore a black dress with burgundy feathers that was so long, it reached from one end of the table to the other during the meeting.
     "You always have the best dresses," Arthur said, grabbing my hands. "Come, let us get ready for the feast!"

     I entered the Queen Meeting and sat at the end of the table. Six out of twenty other Queens were there. They were chatting amongst themselves, and when I sat down, they stopped to look at me. I attempted a smile, but it didn't last long. It wasn't my fault I had a resting bitch face.
     "So, ladies, what have you been up to lately?" I asked. "You all look lovely."
     "Thank you," Queen Sapphire said. She was wearing a simple yet elegant royal blue dress with white gloves and a sapphire crown. "You look wonderful as well." The compliment earned a few nods from the group. I took a sip of my wine and looked out the large stained glass window, mumbling my thanks into the chalice, my words getting lost in the red liquid. It resembles blood, I thought. My mouth started watering. I took another sip, imagining drinking the blood of my enemies.
     Plink! Plink! Plink! Queen Elizabeth (not the queen of England) tapped her fork on the side of her wine glass. "We are called here to the annual Queen Meeting! First off: Queen Sapphire, ruler of the Rolling Waters!" We all clapped for her as she stood and curtsied. "Next, we have Queen Christina, ruler of the Platinum Skies!" I clapped softer this time, but when she made eye contact with me, I smiled. "Queen Isabelle, ruler of Order and Strength!" I stood up and looked sternly across the table, not smiling or curtsying. My resting bitch face cut through the crowd like a knife through warm butter. The clapping was forcibly loud for me. I looked at Queen Christina, who was clapping like the other queens, smiling and all. "Queen McKenna, ruler of the Fertile Earth!" This queen was the youngest of all, the newest. She curtsied, blushing madly. Her dark emerald green dress swirled around her seat. She sat down, smiling.
     As the ceremony went on, I kept my eyes on Queen Christina. She was just like the other queens, trying to blend in. Her bright orange gown rested behind her. The ends of the dress were tailored to curl up at the ends so that they could fasten in a specially made crown that nestled in the crook of her bun. Her long, ginger hair helped her pull off the colour no other girl could have worn as well as her. I hated it.
     My dark brown hair looked best with lighter colours. I despised bright colours and always wore dark colours. Most of the queens had blonde hair, which looked great with any colour, except for orange of course.
     At the end of the introduction, we all started to eat. I looked behind me, where Arthur and Xavier were standing, looking nervous. Arthur mouthed, "Talk!" I nodded and looked at the other queens.
     "I can't believe it's been one hundred years since the first Queen Meeting," I said, hoping to spark a conversation. Queen Elizabeth nodded and set down her fork and knife.
     "I can still remember that first meeting. We all wore our best gowns and ended up having a competition. Ah, it was wonderful. We all tied, our dresses were beautiful in their own unique way." Many queens smiled, recalling that day. Almost all of us were more than one hundred years old, like me and Queen Christina. But we stayed healthy and looked young from a potion that all future queens have to take at the age of forty.
     "Queen Isabelle," Christina said, "since this is a special meeting, care to forgive me for what I didn't do?" I stiffened. Queen Elizabeth gasped.
     "Queen Christina! You are a highly respected queen, and are expected to act nicely in front of other royalty!" I opened my mouth to say something, but closed it again. "Yes, Isabelle?" I shook my head.
     "It's nothing. Really, I promise. Anyone want a refill for wine?" I poured some wine into Queen Elizabeth's glass, and she drank it all in one go.
     "Another one, if you don't mind," she requested. I filled the chalice up to the brim.
     "I don't mind at all, Honourable Queen Elizabeth. It is an privilege to fill your glass with wine." The old queen gulped it down.
     "Ah, don't mind with that respect. I already know I've acquired all of your respect." She looked at Queen Christina. "Well... Almost all of you." The queen blushed and looked down.
     "I'm very sorry for my unacceptable behaviour, Queen Elizabeth." I sniggered quietly, thankfully not loud enough for anyone to hear. One queen, Queen Floss, put her hand up to her mouth, trying to stifle her laughs. Her short pigtails bobbed up and down, the light blue bows flopping in the air. She let out a laugh, and suddenly, everyone burst out laughing.
     I smiled a bit, relived that Queen Elizabeth had gone too drunk to notice. The queens' husbands and children were laughing too. The music became fast and lively, and we all danced around, our children singing along to the well-known folk songs.
     After the banquet, we all said our goodbyes. I looked at Queen Christina, who was smiling and talking to Queen Floss. At least she lightened up. I walked over to them.
     "I shall be heading back now," I said. Queen Christina walked away.
     "Oh, don't mind her!" Queen Floss exclaimed, hugging me. "I'll see you next year!" She bounded away towards her husband and twin boys. 
     "Great job today," Arthur said. "You really changed your attitude this year! Hopefully you'll keep it up?"
     "I'll try, but there's no promise." I glanced at Christina, who was saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth, drunk as hell. I reluctantly walked over to them, regretting it the instant they turned around. "Goodbye." I curtsied, bringing the sides of my dress as wide as they could go, showing much respect. Queen Elizabeth chortled, her blindingly white dress sparkling in the candle-lit room.
     "Next year will be amazing, ladies," she slurred, "as long as there's wine!" With another guffaw, she whisked away and left me with Queen Christina.
     "I will never forgive you-" I started, but the queen lifted her arms and a flock of crows came in. They grabbed my dress and lifted me up. I kicked a few away, but they came back. I screamed and thrashed, but to no avail. I was stuck.
     That was when the burning started again, for the fourth time today.
     "Queen Christina!" I shouted down, "Why do you torture me?!"
     "Because you won't forgive me! I didn't place the curse on you, but you STILL accuse me of it! I'm sick and tired of your stubbornness!" She flapped her arms like a bird and I felt some of the crows' talons let go. Some just took me higher. I looked down for anyone who could save me, but the room seemed dark and empty. No one was there, except me and Queen Christina.
     "Stop this evil," I pleaded, "and we can bring peace to the land!"
     "All you've ever wanted was power. You would never help a queen during the downfall of her kingdom, in fact, you would be the one causing it to happen. You think I'm doing evil? Well, think again! Think about what terrible things you did! Legend has it you tried to kill your older sister so that you could be queen." I gasped.
     "How would you know?" Queen Christina flapped once more and I started to fall. I clawed the air helplessly, hoping for Christina to save me. I screamed, but nothing came out. The ground was coming closer faster and faster, all I could do is let go. There was nothing I could've done to save myself.
     As I was about to hit the ground and die, I felt a pair of arms catch me. I looked up at Christina's face, tears rolling down her cheeks.
     "Because your sister just saved you from death."

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