Dying isn't as painless as you think. No, for me it was a long excruciating drawn-out end, in which I was left convulsing on the floor in a pool of my own blood.
The method that they used to kill me was poison. A tree called Beirut, which is only found in the swamplands, has a very special bark, that once burned, omits a poisonous smoke. The smoke doesn't have a strong odour and the effects of the poison are not immediate. So for a month, my treacherous housekeepers used the Beirut wood to light my fires and cook my dinners with. So I unknowingly sat in front of the fire every night reading a book, enjoying the warmth in the middle of winter. And when I ate grilled meat cooked over the fire, I felt so lucky that I was able to enjoy such luxury. Little did I know that each bite I took of the smoked meat and every minute I sat happily reading, I was slowly being murdered.
When the end of the month came and I had inhaled enough of the smoke, I felt the full effects of the poisoning. Out of nowhere an unbelievable pain coursed through my lungs and airways, cutting off my air supply. I tried to scream, run, call for help, only to realize that my entire castle had been emptied out the night before, and all my staff were gone. As I desperately ran through the hollow hallways looking for help, I saw that my servants had vultured their way through my entire castle and taken anything of value. Cutlery from the kitchen, golden candlesticks, all my jewellery left to me by my mother, they had taken everything and absconded with it while I was sleeping.
All that was left was a note from my head housekeeper. In it, she wrote how my stepmother had bribed all of my staff to use the poisonous wood, and anyone who didn't comply had their lives threatened. In the end, everyone decided to go along with my murder.
My head maid, Mrs Rooks had always been a weak person. Although she was meant to oversee everyone else, the younger maids always talked over her and seemed to run this castle without her. It seemed she must have let them overrule her this time as well. The letter she had left me was probably her way of trying to ease her guilt from betraying me.
Although I had read the letter in full, the poison in my body was starting to have an adverse effect on my mind. All the years of pent up resentment and hatred for my family fatally mingled with the poison in my body, and I ran around the castle in a delirious state cursing and screaming in pain, not wanting to believe the words of her letter.
My dear Lady Rowena,
I pray that one day your soul will find peace and forget about all the hardships of the cruel life that has been dealt to you. I also pray that you will find it in your heart to forgive me.
"Never!" My blood splattered across the floor as I screamed my reply to her.
"I'll never forgive you, your traitor!" Knocking into tables and repeatedly tripping over my uneven steps.
A month ago, her majesty's personal maid, Constance, arrived at the back door with a month's worth of chopped wood. If I had been the only one to hear her, I would have sent her away immediately, but the younger maids overheard our conversation and expressed their enthusiasm once Constance mentioned the reward we would all be given for complying. Three gold pieces each for simply using the wood to light your fires and cook your food.
The words from the letter were ringing through my ears painfully as I stumbled through my castle. I was desperately and aimlessly forging forwards as blood began to lurch up from my chest and drip down my mouth and eyes.
"Is my life really only worth three pieces of gold!? Is that it !?" I screeched.
Dizziness, nausea, fatigue, weakness. I couldn't walk anymore. I felt my legs give way, and I fell forward onto a hard wooden door. My weight was enough to push it open, and I fell through into the castle's private chapel.
I had barely ever stepped foot into this chapel. I didn't think I owed the gods anything after they had given me such a crappy life. So I made it a point to never thank or pray to them, and I instructed the staff to never clean the chapel. I was spiteful and resentful and wanted to shame the gods for their orchestrating of my pitiful life.
As I squinted at the room with blurry bloodied eyes, I could see how filthy it was. Dust and cobwebs decorated the statue that represented the 'most high god' and the worshipped god of my kingdom, the god Elyon. His mighty carved figure was dulled by the thick layer of dust and grime. It seemed that rats had taken up residence in the chapel and were living leisurely within the nooks and crannies of the room. I heard them scuttle away as I struggled forward to the altar where the Elyon statue was placed.
I could not persuade them against it, my lady. They overpowered me, I know you'll understand since you were always so kind to me.
"I wish I hadn't been so kind to such a pathetic woman!" Did she really think I would forgive her for this? Had she always been insane? Why had I been so blind to such an immoral woman living right beside me?
My voice was gone now but I could still spurt out moans of hatred as well as the blood that was accumulating in my chest.
Violent shivers overtook my body and I began to convulse on the floor. At this point it was my sheer will alone that was dragging my hopeless body across the floor to the statue.
The statue was made of pure gold and was eight feet tall, I guessed that my servants either forgot about this statue while they were scavenging through my belongings, or this huge thing was too heavy to get out of the castle even with all of them working together. My vision was so blurry now, all I could see was the outlying shape of the statue and the golden hue that shone around it, even with years of dust clinging to it. The god Elyon, the highest god, who guarded over the entire Cawdor empire, was always depicted in magnificent draping robes with a sceptre in one hand and a water-filled goblet in the other. The sceptre to signify the magical powers the god granted humanity, and the goblet to signify the nourishment Elyon gave Cawdor and its empire.
What power or nourishment had this god ever given me? I who was born a princess of the empire should have had everything, but somehow through Elyon's grace, I have nothing. My mother the former Empress, died during childbirth, and only I remained. I was supposed to be the heir to the empire. However, my father the Emporer had an affair with a noblewoman at the same time he was with my mother. He elevated that woman's status and made her the new Empress after my mother's death. She bore him a total of eight children by the time I turned seventeen, the oldest among them being a boy, who was a year older than me, became the new heir of the empire.
Although my mother was the first queen, and I was legally the first child of the first empress, my father used the fact that my brother was older than me and a boy to dethrone me. To them, my stepmother and my half-siblings, I became an eyesore. A nuisance they didn't want to keep around. For years I was bullied and tormented by them, and had no one to turn to. Eventually, they sent me off to the borderland of Cawdor to a very poor region where life became even harder for me. Although I lived in a castle and was called a princess, I was more of a prisoner than anything else.
I could only try to deal with the corruption of the officials of my land while trying to curb the criminals who were illegally hunting beastmen in my forest territory while trying to stop the gangsters and loan sharks terrorizing my citizens.
Even though I was no threat to her, my stepmother Cordelia still felt the need to painfully end my life. The truth was that the 'most high god Elyon' had forsaken me years ago and had favoured my stepmother and half-siblings. Despite my grudge against the god, I was on the verge of death and had no one and nothing else to turn to.
I desperately reached forward until I felt my fingertips touch the cold golden toes of Elyon.
"Please..." I cringed at the pain that came with speaking. My throat felt like it had been scrubbed with sand and stones, making it excruciating to talk.
"Help me... "
Tears came to my eyes as I thought of my desperate situation and the people who had ruined me so completely.
"I know I have never prayed to you, or worshipped you..."
I hoped that Elyon would not be resentful at my utter lack of respect for him. I hoped who would hear my earnestness now and help me.
"... but I promise from now on to be your most loyal follower, if you would help me out just this once..."
"I swear on my dead mother's grave..."
A fresh tear slipped down my face at the thought of my mother. The one person in the world who truly loved me. The woman who died bringing me into this world. My heart broke a little bit thinking about the sacrifice she made to give me life, while the life she had died for was about to end.
The only times I ever lashed out at Cordelia and my half-siblings were when they brought up my mother. I would not stand to hear her name brought up in vain. So my swearing on her grave was me laying down my everything to Elyon. A last full-hearted attempt at appealing to God.
I looked up at the statue hopefully, waiting for something, anything. However, my words were met with a deafening silence. Absolutely Nothing.
No one was listening.
"No please!" I screeched, my face scrunched up in pain and humiliation.
I was suddenly filled with the fury and resentment I had felt towards this useless god my entire life.
"I can't die like this. Are you listening to me? I won't die like this! I'm going to live and I'm going to make them pay! I'm going to make you pay!"
I cursed this world. For as long and as loudly as I could, I screamed my hatred out to the hollow halls of the empty castle for only the rats and pigeons to hear. I damned my vulturous family, and I damned all those pretenders calling themselves my friends. I had struggled and forged forwards for so long on my own, and for what? To end up so pathetically grovelling at the feet of the worthless statue.
My rage had made me forget my fragility for a fatal moment. As soon as I finished my cries, blood spurted out of my mouth and splashed onto the statutes feet. This was the end for me. My life had amounted to nothing, I had been a nobody. The villains had beaten me. My god had forsaken me.
My dear lady, my Elyon smile upon your sole.
Mrs Rooks words rang bitterly in my ears,
'He didn't smile upon me in life, so why would he bother about me in death, stupid woman.' I thought, angry at both her and myself. I couldn't believe that I wasted my last breath begging to a God who never gave a damn about me in the first place.
My eyelids felt heavy, and they slowly began to close as my head dropped against the cold stone floor.
My eyes jolted open at the sound of a deep sultry voice in front of me.
"How hilarious you are, Rowena..."
Chills went down my spine at the unbelievable thing that was happening. With blurred eyes, I looked up to the face of the statue and stared in awe.
"Elyon...? Is that you?"
Tears of joy began to stream down my face and my eyes began to clear so I could see properly. My prayers had been answered, God had heard my calls and was going to save me...
"No, of course not. It's like you said, your god doesn't care about you in the slightest."
Shivers slithered down my body like a warning sign.