He's not coming back. The sentence runs through my mind in circles.
With every throw, I try and push it back. The knives form a perfect line across the wooden board, each of them exactly a foot apart. But it's not good enough. Nothing I do is ever up to my mother's standards. I glace out one of the windows, and out at the sky. I wonder if the sky Therin sees is the same.
"You're pushing yourself too hard." Kate said softly, lowering her bow, not bothering to shoot her arrow. I stared at the just visible silver tip from her last one.
"It's off center." I ignored her statement, snatching her bow and adjusting my stance. I pulled my arm back, digging my feet into the ground, releasing the string a moment later. It embedded in the wood right next to hers, in the center of the red dot. I reached out for another, and she grabbed my arm.
I glared, looking away as tears threatened to pool in my eyes. "What." I hissed, yanking my arm away.
She looked at me for a second before pulling me into a hug. I froze before hugging her back, tears spilling down my face and staining the fabric of her violet shirt. For once, I don't care about my title as Lady Castor. I just want to be Raya.
"He's gone." I whispered, trembling even though it isn't cold. I drift back to that first meeting where I met him, and the pair of ice-blue eyes that wouldn't eave my mind.
"Therin can fight. He-"
"He isn't good enough." I said sharply, pulling away and staring at her through tear-filled eyes. My voice cracks at the end of the sentence, words another affirmation that Therin's as good as dead "Just like how I'm not good enough."
I'm not the heir my parents wanted. I'm not the person I could be. It's angering that I don't want to change. "Just like how mother says it isn't good enough if I love someone who isn't royalty." I cut off, meeting her eyes. "He's gone, Kate." The flow of tears doesn't stop, and I give up trying to hold them back. "He's gone."
"You think you know what's going on." Karila whispered, her eyes glowing brightly as a pitiful smile tugs at the corners of her lips. "But you don't." Black tendrils drifted from her fingertips into the air, coiling around my arms. I try and pull back, but can't. She's constricting my movement, and making it so I can't do anything to fight against her.
My dragon snarls, and Karila's takes a step forward, pushing it's face toward Alasdaire. He cowers in fear of the huge creature, and I understand why. Just like with Karila now, that beast looks like they could kill someone instantly, and without a second thought.
"You think Raya loves you." My gaze snaps to hers.
"How dare you-"
"But she doesn't." Karila shakes her head. The callous glisten in her eyes is quickly replaced with contempt. I open my mouth to fire back a retort, to tell her that she's wrong. But nothing comes out. When I try, I can't say anything. Why can't I contradict her? Why do I find myself believing those obviously false words?
Every memory of Raya is replaced with the one of her talking to the woman in white, then she and her mother watching someone scream. Her expression is blank.
Raya isn't saying anything because it's dangerous to. She isn't saying anything because she doesn't care. She didn't say anything because wants to eventually be able to fight against them. She didn't say anything because she agrees with what they're doing. It benefits her. Raya is nobility, after all. It helps her, even though it hurts me.
"She doesn't love you."
I look back at Karila, trying to blink away the tears that dare to form in my eyes. "Stop-" I choke out, but am soon overwhelmed by images of her. Karila's words cut deep. It feels like I'm being stabbed over and over as that sentence pulses in my mind. I don't want to beg like I'm some animal at the mercy of their master's whip. But I can't watch everything I thought I knew turn inside out. I'd rather be oblivious to whatever Karila's trying to make me see. "Please."
She doesn't love you.
"You're blind." She spat out. Her eyes stare into mine. She's reaching into the depths of my mind, forcing open the doors that hide everything that needs to be hidden. My insecurities, fears, everything.
I see my younger brother staring at the floor, weakly holding his sword as our father tells him that he's doing everything wrong. My mother just stands in the corner, not doing anything to defend her youngest son.
Raya with tears pouring down her face. The moments before I have the chance to comfort her, where she looks helpless and broken.
"You did this to her, Therin." Karila says softly as I look up. My gaze is blurred, but I could easily make out the satisfied smirk painted on her face. "It was only after she met you that she became like this. Weak."
"She isn't..." I can't finish my sentence. I know that it's true. It's because of me that she's been...weakened. How could she possibly love me after what I've done?
The black coils tighten around my limbs, strengthening their hold as I struggle against them. I let out a sharp cry as it leaves burn marks on my skin. The veins around her eyes become dark, and as do the whites of her eyes. My vision swims in front of me, as if I was staring at something submerged in water while the space around me spins. When I try and take in a breath, I can't. It gets caught in my throat, like I'm drowning. It burns terribly, like a mix of fire and water. Black spots swarm my vision, and I see Alasdaire suffering the same fate. He didn't do anything besides be a dragon. He doesn't deserve whatever this is. For myself, I couldn't say the same.
I'm yanked back up, and gasp for air as it fills my lungs once again. As I stare at Karila and she stares back, her figure is replaced with Raya.
I don't know if I love or hate her. Karila's words seem so true and believable. They makes sense, furthermore. Why would Raya love me? Why would I love her?
If only I hadn't approached and asked what a noble like her was doing at a meeting for people against the Dragon Races. If only she hadn't answered with a snarky yet still genuine remark, turning back to Kate with something between a smile and a smirk.
If only I hadn't fallen in love her, none of this would have happened.
None of this would be happening.