Why did we have to see this? Our loved ones in the competition, either dying or close to it, winning just because they had the willpower and strength to hold on while others didn't.
Nepthys had fallen unconscious, but the rise and fall of her chest declared her the winner. A girl who looked no older than twelve lay dead beside her, flaxen blonde hair matted with blood from a gash in her forehead. She looked like Everlys.
The door flickered open and I walked out. I looked around. Everyone else had tears running down their face, some trying to hide the fact that they were crying, except for one of the Sinistrians. The male with dark hair, Therin. It was an emotion I couldn't name. He seemed...content, almost, as if he was satisfied with something, but also determined for reasons I didn't yet know.
I tried to get the horrid image of my best friend crushed under the dragon out of my mind. The girl beside her, too. I knew that she had been my age, sixteen. She looked more like my brother than she did, me. Sinistra wouldn't break the rules and send a young girl out to die- I knew that. Did I? I hope I did.
My eyes fell on Alaric. He seemed the most shaken out of all of us, though he was trying to hide it, and doing so well. I wonder who he saw. I wonder who could break that indifferent facade and cause the mask he always wore to crumble to nothing, as if it never existed.
Karila had been assigned the room next to me, and she offered a strained smile that I returned.
The officials are emotionless as they escort us out of the corridor, saying that we are permitted to do as we like with the time we have left. For once, I turn towards the training bay, as do almost all of the competitors. One or two break off from the group and go in the direction of the gardens. Perhaps they want to smell roses for the last time, to admire and take in the beauty that they will never see again.
When we entered the large room, I walk straight over to the weapons stand, brushing away the last few tears that dare fall as my fingers brush over the feathers on an arrow. I wrap my hand around the grip of the wooden recurve bow, tilting it slightly to catch the sunlight on the silver detailing.
While walking over to one of the training rooms, I notice Alaric staring. Not at me, however, but at the bow. He met my eyes and quickly turned away, pain radiating off of him. Not physical, mental. I blocked it out, choosing a scenario and nocking an arrow, holding up the bow and bringing my arm back as my three opponents appeared in a flicker of white.
One rushed forward as the other two surrounded me, blocking any way out of the fight. I fired the arrow, turning and grabbing another out of the quiver, thrusting it through a white body, turning to the remaining one as it flickered away. I ducked as the figure made an arc with it's sword, cutting through the air where my head would have been a moment prior. I fired an arrow and it grazed their shoulder, the white hologram flickering in and out before it lunged, sweeping their leg so that I fell back. I grabbed one of the arrows and plunging it into their stomach. The hologram faded and I slowly stood, collecting the arrows and trying to control my breathing. I had been legitimately terrified when my holographic opponent had almost delivered the final strike. If it had been real, I would be dead.
I don't mean to, or at least I think I don't, but my eyes traveled to where Alaric was training. He had been throwing knives, but stopped. He was staring at me. Right at me. Again, he turned away, but held my gaze for a moment too long.
Everyone stopped what they were doing as the doors to the training bay opened. Three people walked in. Front and center was Luke Castor. The other two I assumed to be his siblings, the boy's steps lighter and with more of a bounce. His sister met my eyes and didn't leave their mark. Her eyes were a bright, alarming silver. Almost as if demanding attention. After a moment, the other competitors resumed what they had been doing, Everlys and Anya locked in an intense duel. The blonde seemed to be fighting harder that she had before- perhaps showing off her abilities for the nobles. "Don't explode anything, Lex." Luke's sister mumbled sharply, looking knowingly at her youngest brother. With a roll of his eyes and a reluctant nod, he traipsed over to one of the wooden benches lining the training bay and sat down, the smallest of smiles playing on his face. He took out a small, blue pouch and dumped the marble- like contents into his hand and sorted through them, occasionally glancing up at the contestants and around the room.
Both Luke and his sister walked over to the weapons stand. She pointed to a set of double swords and he lifted them off of the rack as she picked up a set of daggers, turning each over in her hand.
"Make sure to remember what I told you last time." she said, glancing back at Luke, then at the knives. "Don't mess up your form. You're dead if you do." She laid them down on the table, taking a small, circular bottle out of her pocket and unsealing it, tilting it ever so slightly so that a drop of the contents fell on each knife. They hissed as the dark green liquid touched the metal. She lifted the poison daggers in her left hand, tugging down her fingerless glove with her right. She walked towards the long wall, throwing a knife even before she got there, the dark wood smoldering beneath the blade. She glanced to her left, and my gaze traveled to what- who- she was looking at. Therin, the dark- haired Sinistrian contestant walked towards her. He was...smiling. Smirking, really. It was a combination of both. I watched for another second as she handed him a dagger, watching as he threw it, hitting the wall right next to where her's had.
I looked back at Luke as he made his way towards me, stepping in to the training room, stopping once we were about five feet apart.
"Ok." He said with a knowing smirk. "I'm going to die if you fight me using your bow and arrows, so here." He handed me one of the swords after I put the bow and quiver to the side. I gripped the hilt firmly, raising it as he lunged forward.
The sound of our blades clashing rang through my ears as I stood my ground, thrusting my sword forward. He hissed in pain as it grazed his side, and I winced. That must have hurt. In my brief moment of hesitation, Luke plunged his sword forwards, twisting around and knocking my blade out of my hand, sweeping my leg so that I fell back. He pointed his sword at my throat. His eyes were a golden- amber, and they glittered with triumph, as if he had won.
No. I wouldn't let him win. Not that easily.
I reached out my right arm, my blade seeming to fly back into my hand after a moment, the wind whipping his dark hair into his eyes. I raised my sword, clenching my teeth as I pushed his weapon aside, quickly standing and lifting my sword as he advanced again, knocking the blade out of his hands, exactly what he had done to me just a few seconds prior. He took a step back as I extended my hand, wrapping my hand around the hilt of his blade as it flew into my grasp. I lifted one of them to his neck, stopping as he backed up against the wall.
"Telepath?" He guessed with a raised brow. They're known for Telekinesis. Reading people's thoughts. Mind and Matter Manipulation. I shook my head.
Luke nodded with understanding. What I had done was harnessed the air around the swords and bringing it towards me, weapons and all, directing it so that the hilt landed in my hand . It isn't unlike telekinesis, so I understand why he would assume that. I lowered the swords and took a few steps back, but he still stared intently at me. He glanced over at the rest of the training bay a second later.
"They aren't who you think they are." Luke said quietly, voice barely a whisper, eyes darkening. I was confused. Was he talking about multiple people, or just one? Who were "they?" Was it a contestant? And, furthermore, what was he even talking about? The pensive and grim expression vanished just as quickly as it had appeared, replaced with a smirk. "Anyway, good job." he said with a mock bow. "You were a worthy opponent, Eriene Pyrallis."
And I couldn't help but smile, returning it. "As were you, Luke Castor."
Who wasn't who I thought they were? He could just be making something up to throw off my game. After all, I'm from Forane, and he's nobility of Sinistra. It could easily all be a strategic act.
My eyes traveled to Alaric. Was it him? Next, I glanced over at Everlys. Then Anya. Emery. The other contestants who's names I didn't know. Then, Therin. Luke's older sister was laughing at something he had said. They seemed...close. As if they knew each other, and had for a long time. Was Luke working with Therin and Everlys to get me killed? Had everything at breakfast yesterday been misleading? Finally, I tore my gaze away from them and looked over at Karila, who was looking over the weapons, picking up a set of war fans, testing the small blades. She met my eyes and smiled.
What could he mean? Who?
((Hi, everyone! Thank you for reading! I know that this story doesn't directly fit any of the prompts, but I thought that this one suited it most. In a competition like the Dragon Races, it's known that allies are made, and alliances are then broken. It's the nature of things like it. So, in the sense that betrayal is bound to happen and that everyone knows it will to at least one person, it fits this prompt loosely. Again, thanks for reading!))