!!!***DISCLAIMER***!!! HEAVY GURO AND MODERATE VORE THROUGHOUT My name is Rachelle. Welcome to Marshe. Yes, yes. I was named for Queen Rachelle, but I am not her. No offense to Queen Rachelle, but keeping the universe clock wound does not exactly make my Top 10 List of favorite things to do. It has more to do with wanting someone who knows more about the universe than me. I feel Queen Rachelle is meant to keep the universe clock wound in the same way I am meant to burn at the beginning of this solstice festival. If you do not know what that is, then fore shame for reading my story before Rachel's. I will not go back and explain everything she did. This year's summer solstice is a high solstice. These only occur once ever 20 years. On the night of the high solstice, the things that usually happen during the solstice feast happen, but with one little addition: five young women are burned alive. Last year, I caused a little, well okay a lot, of trouble for Mother Carole when I decided I wanted to be burned alive instead of eaten alive. "Mother Carole, again forgive me for asking last year to be burned alive tonight." I start. "Do not worry about it anymore, Rachelle. It turned out that one of the young women chosen to burn tonight wanted to be eaten and was scared to say anything." Mother Carole says. "That is good." I reply. The young women chosen specifically for tonight are not the people I would normally choose to befriend, and I usually just avoid them when possible. I know I should have tried to make a connection, but I wanted to die *last* year with Princess Rose, her bride-to-be Chrissy, and Lora, daughter of Meaghan the sea goddess. However, only three young women from each town or city are allowed to be eaten each year. I hurry to purify myself again before 7:45. I have to be ready by 8:15. Normally, Mother Carole would pull me. I do not think she has the luxury, though. Maybe she does, but I do not know. I do know if I do not purify myself for the third time by 7:45, Mother Carole will purify me herself. I do not know why I let the time slip up on me like this. It is already 6:15! I need to hurry. I get cornered by a quadrille of the munchkins when I enter the water closet. "Thanks a lot for not choosing not to be eaten, Rachelle." The leader says. This how much I avoid them. I cannot remember their names. "Yeah, thanks a lot, you old hag!" The leader's second says. I do not know her name either. The four munchkins back me into a corner. "I spent a lot of time in the dungeon. "I know how to defend myself, but I do not want to hurt any of you this close to the feast tonight. Mother Carole does not have the luxury of pulling anyone." The leader pulls a knife and her second a bamboo pole. The other two look capable in hand-to-hand combat. The door swings open and slams into the wall. "Alexa, Lorraine! What the hell have I told you about threatening Rachelle?" A familiar voice chastises them. "Princess Rose! You came back for me." I cry jubilantly. "Of course I came back, Rachelle. You are a friend." Princess Rose says. "No need to be so formal, Rachel will suffice." Rachel turns back to regard the munchkins. "Leave now!" The four file out like whipped dogs. "I expect full penance." "Yes, Princess Rose." The four say sullenly. "Rachel, I had not intended to make this a habit." I say sheepishly. "Do not worry about it. I will see you tonight." Rachel smiles and disappears. "Where did the time go?! It is already seven!" I take the laxative and stomach irritant. Once they run their course, I climb in the tub of rosewater. "This feels nice." I say aloud, the freezing water soothing me after vomiting and having diarrhea uncontrollably. I climb out after fifteen minutes and start drying off. Mother Carole enters the water closet. "I see you have already purified yourself." "Yes, Mother." I reply. "What happened to Alexa, Lorraine, Ashleigh, and Sera?" Mother Carole asks. "Rachel happened again." I answer. "The princess was here?" Mother Carole asks surprised. "She was only hear for a minute to chase away those four." I reply. "Did they try force you into getting eaten again?" Mother Carole asks exasperated. "Yes, Mother." I answer. Mother Carole shakes her head. "Why am I not surprised." Mother Carole waves her hand dismissively. "Come on. It is almost 8." I follow Mother Carole to the dining room. "Mother, were Rachel, Chrissy, and Lora ever this excited about dying?" I ask on the way back. Mother Carole sighs. "Princess Rose was more excited that Chrissy and Lora, but they were both very excited. Why do you ask, Child?" I smile slightly. "Last night, I lay awake thinking about today and what it feel like to lay there burning on the pyre. Even when I slept, I dreamed of the pyre. One dream seemed very real. I could actually feel the heat from the fire, smell my skin burning, and hear the crackle of wood underneath me." "Rachelle, what you describe is only natural when one is this excited about something." Mother Carole smiles. "Enjoy your last moments on the pyre." "Thank you, Mother." I reply as Mother Carole opens the door for me. Once inside, Mother Carole moves to the front of the room. "Everyone fall into line, the oldest at the front." Mother Carole directs. I move to the back of the room and the line forms up behind me. "Rachelle, you may start walking." Mother Carole says. "Yes, Mother." I reply and walk slowly out the main door. We have rehearsed this many times. We file out to the festival grounds, then break off to where we are going. I turn to the left towards the pyres, along with the four munchkins. The other three 18-yr-olds head for the serving table. Mother Carole takes the stage. "Welcome to this year's solstice feast. May I present your dinner?" The three young women smile and wave flirtatiously. "You make take your platters. Look to the stage as I present your torches." I smile demurely while the munchkins smile and wave flirtatiously. Mother Carole walks over to me. "Last year, we broke with tradition and let a dish speak, granted she was Princess Rose, but I feel we should let Lady Rachelle ask Rachelle's blessing this year." Mother Carole hands me the microphone. I take a deep breath. "I am Lady Rachelle. I was named for Queen Rachelle. Most of you probably saw her last year and can attest that I am not her." I take another deep breath before continuing. "Queen Rachelle, come over us all, especially those who will walk away this evening wondering when their time will come to join you. May the young dinner ladies and my fellow pyre m-ladies find favor in your eyes. Forgive me for almost calling them my "little" nickname." I almost slip up and call them munchkins and say the word "little" with the proper inflection to imply what I think of them. I take a deeper, shakier breath before saying what I am about to say. "Forgive them as I forgive them for their sins against me. Queen Rachelle, as much as they need forgiveness, I need it more for even thinking of them in that regard." I hand the microphone back, adding with my thought, 'let us enter into eternity with no animosity'. Alexa leans over from her pyre and takes my hand. "I am sorry I started calling you an old hag." I wrap my fingers around Alexa's hand. "I am sorry I thought of you as a munchkin, you munchkin." I smile at her. Alexa smiles back. "Do not get all sentimental on me, you old hag. I want this wood to burn." I move my arm over as far I can reach without stretching. "Friends share their loads." All eyes are on us as our little drama unfolds. "Lady Rachelle, do you have any more words to say?" Mother Carole asks. "No, Mother, but Lady Alexa might." I reply. Mother Carole hands Alexa the microphone. "I know I speak for the five of us when I say light these pyres and start this party off right!" "You heard the lady!" Mother Carole loud shouts without using the microphone. "Light the pyres!" The priestess come around with paper and matches and light the pyres. I never let go of Alexa's hand. We remain connected as we burn. The wood is so tightly packed that fire moves slowly. It takes several hours to reach my backside. I feel my skin slowly peel as the tongues of flame lick me up and down my back. Through my physical connection with Alexa, I can feel the flames licking her backside. The first body part to ignite, for both of us, is our hair. The flames reach down to our scalps and boil our brains as we grill. Through her hand, I feel Alexa go first, her brain boiled in skull. The flames reach beyond the top layer of wood now, my heart and lungs about to burst from the heat. I feel first my spleen, then my gallbladder burst, stealing the breath from me. My blood boils away instantly in the heat from the fire. My hair is gone now, or I would have thrown it over my body to speed my death. Finally, it happens: first one lung, then the other. I can no longer breathe; my death is almost upon me. Then it happens! Instead of bursting, my heart ignites from the heat. It all ends in a few agonizing seconds that feel like a lifetime.