It’s all your fault. It’s all your fault.
The words kept repeating in my head, and showed no signs of stopping anytime soon, nor would they. It was my fault. My brother was being sent away to become another king’s servant without pay because of me. I was the one who had broken the laws, not him. Of course, the king would have been a fool to have chosen me, a fourteen-year-old princess, over her taller, stronger, twin brother, who was also heir to the throne. Besides, the oracle had foretold her prophecy before we were born. A male heir to our country’s throne would perish under another king’s foot. Our mother just hoped it wasn’t my brother’s. I guess she was wrong. I was scared. How could I make it alone? How could he make it alone? It was always us against the world.
You will never see him again, say goodbye, don’t ever forget why he is leaving.
My breath hitched. “Not…now…anything….but this..” I barely wheezed. My subconsciousness was not in the mood to help me today.
I sighed, trying to hide my reaction to the thoughts. I saw my brother turn around, staring at me with a face full of concern. He is still worried about you, I thought. Stop worrying him. He needs to do this for you, for the kingdom. Whenever I would come close to a panic attack, he would always help me out of it. How do I stop one now?
“Thea?” he called. His eyes were glimmering, and I could not tell if it was from the sunlight shining in them or the tears that they likely held.
I tried to put on a brave face. I can’t have a panic attack, not now, he would never leave me if I had a panic attack now. I couldn’t stop it from coming.
My legs buckled and I crumpled to the ground in a heap. I saw him rush back to me, I saw him throw the future the oracle predicted out the window. He was defying fate, and no one ever had before. Maybe it wasn’t about him. I would have sighed if not for my struggle to breathe. I was being too optimistic, he was the only male heir our country has had in thirty years. Something bad was coming, it always has when someone chooses to defy fate.
I saw a messenger hiding in one of the trees jump out, but my brother didn’t. I tried to scream out, warn him, anything, but my voice did not work. His gaze was focused on me as I struggled to breathe.
He jumped onto the first rock, dashing towards me. Had he not jumped, the first arrow shot at him would have hit him between the ribs, right in his heart. Instead, it whizzed past him and knocked into the tree mere inches above my head. He turned around and raised his sword, advancing toward the enemy. You can shoot the messenger if you just get up and try to breathe.
Try I did. Breathe in, breathe out. Slowly take in big breaths. Slowly but surely, my panic attack was disappearing, by using the words my brother would to help me. I slowly got up, my head throbbing from the pain of hitting the tree behind me as I fell. I looked around for my bow and then picked the arrow from the tree bark beside me. Rowan was still facing off against the messenger and neither had noticed me. I raised my bow. My head throbbed.
Ready, Aim, Fire!
I shot an arrow at the messenger, and it barely hit his arm. The headache that was coming hit my head so suddenly I messed up my shot. I tried to look for another arrow but that was the only one I had. The arrow was enough to distract him, and I had shot his dominant arm, but he was still very hard to beat. Rowan however did not turn around and used his opponent’s distraction against him.
My head continued to throb. It was like they were beating at my skull with a mallet. My vision became blurry and my eyelids started to droop. I remembered when I fell during my panic attack I had hit the tree, the tree where Rowan and I would climb as children. We carved our names in that tree. I turned around and searched its bark, with my hands trying to find it. Trying to do something that will keep me from fainting. My vision was getting blurrier by the second, but my hand found the familiar groove.
With my hand on the carving, I turned around again. I could barely see the fight in front of me. I couldn’t make out which was my brother and which was his assailant.
I sat on the ground to steady myself and began to think. I hope Rowan is winning, and then, oh look, my sub-consciousness and I are agreeing on something for once.
My mind became a jumble, and only one thought rose to the surface.
It was always us against the world.
And then it all went black.