The night before my fifteenth birthday, I sit calmly in my bed. I twist and turn, but I just cannot bring myself to sleep. In the traditions of Rosania, my kingdom, the princess is to make a ceremonial sacrifice on the night of her fifteenth birthday. It is said to bring peace to the people of the kingdom, and it supposedly shows that Royalty and townspeople go hand in hand; that we are all equal, and we all have to make devastating decisions. This worries me; I cannot sleep because I do not know what I will do tomorrow night. How I will sacrifice, and what I will sacrifice for my people. As the Princess Amelia, of the Royal kingdom of Rosania, I know my life cannot be the same as everyone else. I must make hard decisions. This is what I have been taught since I was a little kid. Stand straighter, Amelia, my mother would say, you must show everyone that you are stronger than a mountain of rock, smarter than the most clever magician, poiser than an elegant empress.
My mother insists on teaching me the life of a princess, rather than having the hundred other workers do it. She is a stubborn one, that lady. But even so, I can never be as graceful as her, never rule the way she does. Most of all, I can never make as big of a sacrifice as she had. My mother, Queen Dahlia, sacrificed her beloved golden retriever when she was fifteen. The pet she had held so dearly to her heart, as it was gifted to her by her mother just before she passed away. Through it all, my mother stayed strong. She sacrificed him for a good cause, to show the world she deserves to become queen. And show the world she did, for the people of Rosania love her. What a kind-hearted soul, they would say, sacrificed her dog just so she could prove her worthiness to us. Well she certainly did. Most princesses would sacrifice their jewellery, or their clothes, or something equally as pathetic. Royalty is selfish, after all. But my mother took it to a whole new level. I think she hopes I do the same. The only problem is that I don't have anything of equal value. I don't have a pet, nor do I have sentimental gifts, I have nothing. The only thing that matters to me is my brother. And I cannot sacrifice him, for he is set to be the heir to the throne.
As I continue to wonder, a knock at my door startles me. "Your Highness, I have your midnight feast for you." Ah, my feast. I am supposed to have a big meal at exactly midnight, in preparation for what is to come.
"Yes, Lucille, come in." My personal maid, Lucille, carefully enters the room with a rolling cart of food: chicken, poultry, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, roasted fish. I even spot dessert: strawberry cheesecake (my favourite), banana muffins, chocolate streusels, and crème brulée. How I will eat all that, I do not know.
"Er, Princess...I mean, I don't mean to pry, but...are you ready for this?" She stammers quickly.
"Y-yes," I start nervously, "I mean, yes. Yes I am."
She pauses for a second, then asks, "Have you chosen your ceremonial item to sacrifice?"
"Well, not exactly..." I stammer, "I'm still a little bit indecisive about what I shall choose. It is a hard decision, you know."
"Oh no, of course it is." She corrects quickly, "But...I'm just worried about you is all. I don't want you to be hurt, or to regret what you choose later on."
"I understand, Lucille, and I appreciate your concern. You've always cared for me so much." At that, she blushes fiercely. "It is both my honour and duty to help you, your Highness. I couldn't bear to see you unhappy."
I smile sweetly at her, grateful to have such a wonderful person to assist me. When I was eight years old, I was told I would be assigned a personal maid to help me with all my needs. I remember being very nervous, wondering how I should act around the maid, how I should treat her. What if she is mean? I wondered, What if she hates me and never wants to help me? Thankfully, it turned out to be Lucille. Ever since then, we have been the best of friends.
"Here," Lucille picks up two trays of food from the cart and places them on my bed, "I will leave you to your eating. I shall see you tomorrow, Princess." She grins.
"Yes, thank you." I smile back, "Hopefully I will be able to sleep after all this food." She laughs. "Oh, don't worry," She waves dismissively, "You will sleep just fine, I'm sure of it." I nod. What I don't tell her is that I know I will not be able to sleep. And not because of the food, but because I have absolutely no idea what I will do tomorrow.
The next morning, I wake up to a huge commotion outside my door. People are chattering and walking about, perhaps to get everything ready for my ceremony tonight. I sit upright on my headboard, staring straight ahead. My chambers consist of a bathroom, with a shower and hot tub, and a servery to store all my daytime (and late-night) snacks. Both situated to the left of my bed. I have my closet to the right, filled with simple dresses, boleros, shoes of different heel length, nightwear, and my ball gowns for special occasions. I will have to wear one for the ceremony tonight. Finally, I have my room: high ceiling, crystal chandelier cascading down the centre, elegant queen-sized bed at the back, and a flower shaped rug in the middle of the room.
That rug is filled with so many memories, mostly with my brother: running around and knocking things over, playing charades, blowing bubbles (even when we weren't supposed to), spilling wine on the rug (the stain is still there), and most of all just laying on the rug and talking about our lives. We loved imagining our lives as king and queen, talking about what we would do with our title, how we would change the world and what we would to to help our people.
"I want to grow a garden in the middle of town-square." He'd say, "I mean, what's the point of calling our kingdom Rosania if we don't even even have any roses?" I chuckle happily, "You are the only smart one here, it seems." He smiles smugly and winks, "I guess I am, huh," He relaxes his arms behind his head, "Someday, I want to be able to do what Mother and Father did. I want to make my people love me, I want them to truly believe in me."
He was always a joker, but this time, I could tell he was being serious. "You will be, Daniel, I promise." He sighs at that. "I just hope things will be as simple as you make them out to be, kiddo." He ruffles my hair. I laugh excitedly.
Even to this day, he still calls me kiddo. Though we are only three years apart, he is my big brother and I look up to him everyday. He is a lot like our mother: kind, caring, and passionately determined. He also shares our late father's humour, making us laugh even in the darkest times. My father passed away when I was six years old, so I don't remember much, but my brother tells me stories about him. How he was such an honourable king, sacrificing everything for his people. That is what attracted him to our mother, he tells me, that is what made them a perfect match: so loyal and devoted. They were a roaring favourite to the villagers. Life had been such a happy and safe place. Ever since our father died, my mother has been working twice as hard. She thinks she is not doing enough to help the people, that she can never be as well-loved as him. What she doesn't realize is that the people love her just as much, maybe even more. And I am positive they will love my brother the most, for he is the best person I have ever known in my entire life, and anyone who knows him would agree with me.
Suddenly, I hear a stern knock at my door. "Who is it?" I call out.
"Lucille, Princess, I'm here with his Highness your brother. He would like to speak to you." I can hear the worry in her voice. Confused, I say, "Yes, sure, he can come in."
After a bit of shuffling, the door opens. My brother smiles cautiously. "Hey, kiddo, how are you doing?"
"What's going on, Daniel?" I cut off.
I hear him take a deep breath, then say, "Amelia, uh...something happened while you were sleeping," He rubs the back of his neck nervously. "But first, how are you feeling? Did you have a good sleep after the feast?"
I can tell he is stalling, but I go with it anyways. "Yes, I did," I lie, "Best sleep I've had in years. The food was very tasty, too."
"That's great." He is still holding something back.
"Dan, if you have something to say to me, tell me now."
"Wait, Amelia, I don't want to spoil your big day."
"It's fine, just tell me."
"I don't think it's best for you to hear-"
"Just tell me!" I start to lose my patience.
Taking a big sigh, he leans over to my bed. "Kiddo, there's been an issue going on for the past few months. Remember how I told you everyone adores our mother? Well, not everyone. A group of people have been plotting to take over our throne, and their big move was made last night."
"What big move? And who are they?'
"We don't know yet, but we're trying to find out."
"And what was the big move?"
"Oh, yes. I'm sorry. You see...they thought that by taking over the throne, the'd have to get rid of the anchor."
"What do you mean?"
"They needed to take away the source, to replace it with one of their own. They needed to...eliminate the source."
A glance at his worry-stricken face proved to me what he was about to say next.
"Amelia, they killed our mother. They killed the queen."
And that's when I realized I didn't need to worry about my sacrifice after all. It was already made. My mother, Queen Dahlia, turned out to be the sacrifice.