Keep Your Friends Close, But Your Enemies Closer

First things first, I killed her. The haunts of her face in my dreams are worth the throne. I know, I know. Cliché, but you might want to listen closer to this tale.

I knew her as a friend, until… you get the idea. Let me tell you the story of how she, as the lowest of the low, became the queen of a faraway land called Úttoá, and died with my strike.

Aura was born an Oceanbottom, the lowest of five classes. There were the Oceanbottoms, lowest, Sealevels, the next highest, Hilltips, the middle class, Mountaintops, the next to highest class, and Skyhighs, which only consisted of the royal family. 

To tell a bit about her, she was shy, but very energetic and hardworking for what she believed in. She wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, and worked hard on trying to improve herself. She had olive skin, hazel eyes, and long, wavy dark brown hair.

As she tells it, the royal family had ruined her life. The day it happened, she had woken up on a normal day in the south end of Úttoá, the specific region called Karo. During a small breakfast of what her family could afford, the windows suddenly shattered, and people dressed in all black with the seal of Úttoá on their costumes burst into the room. Aura’s father had run to get the self defense gun the family had been issued before the new king had taken over the country.

Everyone had known that Prince Colton was a bad egg as soon as his first interview on public television. He had voiced his disgust of the lower classes, mistreating his maids and butlers to the point that he had no longer been allowed to have them. As the only heir to the throne, he took the crown easily as soon as he became of age at 25 and married the unfortunate princess of a neighboring country called Haruá. She had had such potential, but the new king had hurt her beyond saying. He had cheated on her too many times to count, and she didn’t seem to care. Queen Yalana was the one barrier keeping King Colton from ruining the country his parents had worked so hard to create. Their son was named Trennan, and he was certainly his father’s boy. 

Yet, despite the Queen’s best efforts to prevent the draft, King Colton still had drafted Aura’s older brother, who had been her role model, as one of his soldiers. All boys 18 or older, including Kraye, had been forced to join the Royal Guard, who were used for nothing except “disciplining” the citizens, usually Oceanbottoms and Sealevels. They attacked houses, killing citizens to scare them into obeying the king. 

Which was what was happening now. Aura had heard of so many families like hers that had been killed off by the Royal Guard, but never expected it to happen to herself. She was the only one who made it out alive that night. She was 16, barely old enough to fend for herself. The only thing she could do was find work, and so she did. 

Aura spent many long days in the streets, eventually sealing a job at a small seamstress’s office, who offered food and board in exchange for work.

One day, a man, who was very well dressed, I might add, came into the room. The Head Seamstress, a short, skinny woman with shiny black hair named Jayne, a Sealevel, curtsied immediately. Aura didn’t recognize him, but curtsied as well. 

She realized who this was when Jayne said, “Your Majesty,”

Aura was very surprised, but followed, trying to keep a normal face. Of course she didn’t want the prince to know that she had no idea who he was. She had no idea why he even was in this small shop in the first place. He probably had people that the King and Queen paid to serve them specifically in the palace.

“What is the purpose of this visit?” Jayne asked.

“Can you alter these suits by tomorrow?” Prince Trennan asked, no one could doubt the disgust in his voice at having to converse with someone of such a low class. He dumped a huge pile of black and white suit coats on the counter. 


That was impossible, and Prince Trennan knew it, but his response was so unfeeling, Aura had the urge to kick him out of the shop, prince or no prince. “Aren’t you lower classes born to serve us? Don’t you have enough time to serve your royal family?”

Jayne had been trembling with fear, knowing that the Prince had no mercy, and would do anything it took to have these suits done immediately. They took the Prince’s measurements and sent him on his way.

Aura stayed working late with the other seamstress assistants, all Oceanbottoms, to work on the suits. They called ahead to the other people who had been expecting their work to be done by the next day, telling them that they may be a day late. They had all been extremely annoyed and probably wouldn’t contribute to the shop’s business anymore after this, but it was of the utmost importance for the Prince’s suits to be done immediately. Jayne didn’t want to risk the safety of her shop or its employees. 

Aura went to bed late before waking up early the next morning to catch up on the jobs that they had had to delay. The other helpers, Prinn and Willa, worked as well. The alterations should not have taken this long for a normal customer, but they had spent twice as long on these. They had to be perfect for the Prince.

The Prince came to pick up his suits and inspected them inch by inch, finally proving them fine, sounding disappointed. Of course, I know why the Prince had come. At the time, I had been one of his unfortunate maids. He had overworked us as well, and treated us so terribly we could no longer do the work asked of us, the Queen assigning us to other parts of the castle. He purposefully went out to purely annoy the lower classes, overworking them and intimidating them just for the fun of it.

The weeks went on for the ladies, but eventually the business had to close down because of another visit from the Prince. They had done the job perfectly, but he found one button that must have gotten caught on something, because it had been torn off. He immediately demanded funding to get a completely new suit and of course, Jayne was forced to give it to him, putting the small office out of business. 

Jayne had to make Aura leave the house, unable to afford to keep her anymore, not even for household jobs.

Aura left and had to live on the streets, begging for food once again. A few weeks later, she sees a job flier to be a maid at the palace. 

She works really hard, remembering all the things she had done in her lifetime (like playing piano, her schooling, and helping the neighbors babysit their young boys) and put them on her resume. But, the job she had just taken sewing with Jayne was the best thing on her resume by far.

But, by some miracle, she received a letter the next week telling her that she had been accepted to the job. She was overjoyed and made her way to the palace right away, where she was assigned to kitchen duty.

She came down to work in the kitchens, and this is the point where I come into the story, so introductions are in order.

Hi! I’m Lillia Gardener! I work as a kitchen hand in the palace. I help prepare the meals, and since the royal family has such specific tastes I work pretty much all day to make them happy and enjoy their meals. I am half Korean; my grandparents immigrated from Korea after getting married, and they had my mom, who married a man from Úttoá, my father, and they had me. I look mostly like my mother, with a round face, dark eyes, and straight black hair. My dream is to finally become the Queen! I don’t have a plan, yet, since Prince Colton looks to be in perfect health, but I’m trying to gain his interests… maybe become his queen? I’m prepared to sacrifice my happiness for power.

“Hi. I’m Lillia, you’re Aura right?”

“Yes…” Aura replied warily.

“I’m supposed to work with you today in the kitchen. We’re making pancakes for the royal family’s breakfast.”

“Oh” Aura looked much safer now, but still a little scared to come closer.

We started working on the pancakes, me grabbing materials and helping Aura figure out how to use the oven. Eventually, we were done. Our pancakes were AMAZING! Fluffy and just the right amount of sweet.

She was my partner for kitchen duty for the rest of her time as a kitchen maid, and soon we became best friends. She was also my roommate in the maid’s quarters. 

Days were fun with her as my partner! We did our work in the kitchens and played games during our breaks. Card games in our room and sometimes hide and seek in the palace. I would have never had the guts to do something like that before, but somehow having a friend makes it easier to do stuff that makes you scared. I guess it’s because you’ll be in trouble together rather than alone.

But, low and behold, she gets promoted to be a maid for one of the Queen’s advisors six months  later. I barely saw her anymore except for at night when we went to bed, since we were still roommates. Three weeks after that, she became the personal maid for the prince!!! She was climbing ranks so quickly, something that I had been trying to do for years. She was able to endure the prince’s mistreatment for about a month before she got the highest promotion of all: the Queen’s maid. I saw her from time to time, but now, she doesn’t even share a room with me. And she didn’t seem to care, either. 

Her rooms are closer to the Queen’s, and sometimes I visit her, but she never visits me. She says she’s sorry or doesn’t have time but I know the real story. She doesn’t want to be associated with a poor kitchen maid. I thought we were really friends! 

Two months later, I feel even worse. She became an advisor for the Queen. She must have made some impression as a maid to get that high. She wasn’t even an Oceanbottom anymore. She was a Mountaintop. Next highest besides the royal family. She lived in real rooms. She had a whole apartment, unlike the maids who had just one room. 

She actually helped make decisions about the country! I was so much lower than she was. I never could do anything that important. 

About a year later, I was in the kitchen around lunchtime, and suddenly a guard came running in. 

“Everyone, hide! Attack!” 

All the maids hide in the secret room in the back of the kitchen. I bet that Aura got to have a much safer place to hide since she was an advisor. Ugh! I couldn’t get her out of my mind! We crouched on the floor, sitting on our white aprons and leaving only our black uniforms showing. We covered our faces and hoped that if anyone had came in, they couldn’t see us against the black walls and floor of the room.

After a couple of hours, we heard some of the attackers come into the kitchen. Men yelling orders and heavy boots hitting the kitchen tiles. The door of the secret room was behind one of the kitchenettes, and they yanked open the door. There were five men, dressed in all black. I was in the back of the room along with a few other maids. They took most of the maids and dragged them from the entranceway of the room and closed the door. We all heard the gunshots and screamed. 

It was horrifying, and we were all cowering in the back of the room after each gunshot, signifying another maid’s death.

Later, when our door was unlocked, we screamed until we saw the guard uniforms. We learned that the King, Queen, and Prince had tragically died in the attack, which had been very serious. They hadn’t been able to get to a room on time, and the attackers found and shot them as they were running across the hall. They were holding an election for the new sovereign.

And guess who won?


I cried for a long time. I almost couldn’t see enough through the haze to make breakfast for the palace the next morning. Queen Aura heard and hired me as her personal maid, but I bet it was really only because of pity. She couldn’t do this much to me and expect me to still be her friend.

I have to admit, though, she was a great queen. She created a program that helped the lower classes, Oceanbottoms and Sealevels to get enough food, and she also did budget cuts to create a higher budget for the school system. But most importantly, she stopped attacks from the Royal Guard. She completely fired and had trials for each member of the Guard, and put some of them in jail. She started a volunteer Guard, in which men AND women over the age of 18 and under the age of 50 were eligible to volunteer for the army. This was a welcome change compared to the draft that the previous rulers had imposed. 

I was happy again when I met Daryl, but she took him from me too. He was one of the butlers that used to be the King’s. He was very handsome. He looked very regal, although he was only a butler. His honey colored hair and light brown eyes were perfect in the set of his face. I was his for a few months before she met him. Then he was hers. They got married about a year later.

It was the event of the season. Everyone from miles around squeezed into the Great Room, the biggest room in the palace. Queen Aura’s gown was white with intricate flowering on the bodice that dripped into the skirt. The skirt was several layers with lace on the end of each one. King Daryl’s tuxedo was perfectly fitted. 

They vowed to each other, and then to the country. Even I admit, it was beautiful. The new King fit perfectly with the country. He usually agreed with everything Queen Aura said. Although he was king, Aura still held the higher title and had first say on all decisions.

Queen Aura eventually had a son, which they named Henry. 

When he was two, I gave up trying to be happy for her. I was Henry’s nanny and I loved him so much it was hard to make the decision for what I was about to do.

I snuck into the Queen’s rooms, and because I was her maid, I had the key. I hid a knife under my pillow from the kitchen the night before, and I took it out now. I hesitated in the hallway, but when I saw a guard coming around the corner I quickly slipped into the room.

Once she was dead, I went and killed the King. It hurt, but definitely not as much as killing Henry. But I did. 

I was voted queen next. 

I had imagined this moment countless times. I never thought it could feel this good.

I was always meant to be queen.

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