It was another two days before Myra‘s funeral was held.
The event was held outdoors and, though I tried my best to hide my more distinguishable features to not stand out, I still took precautions by keeping a distance from those attending anyway.
I didn‘t want to face anyone, let alone speak to anyone on this day.
Something easier said than done with the large turnout.
So many people here had cared for and loved Myra; so many people that she had touched with her gentle nature. It ranged from family, teachers and even some of the older children who lived at the orphanage.
And whilst I couldn‘t see them from where I stood at the back, I knew Aleric and Cai were in attendance somewhere too.
So many people were grieving now just as I was… It was a difficult thing to come to terms with given I felt so responsible for taking her away from them. Was this how the families cried when I had killed innocents in my past life too?
As the sun began to set, the funeral began.
Werewolf ceremonies took place at night or as close to that as possible. This being so the Goddess, Selene, could witness. Not that she really cared or did anything to intervene anyway.
In terms of funerals though, the time of day usually was set for when the final light would soon die. This was both for symbolic reasons, but also for the practical side that would allow us to bury our dead. without the need for torches.
I went and took a seat in the back corner. However, in doing so, I made one mistake. As I spared a glance out towards the people around me, my eyes fell on a pair of golden ones staring right back. Eyes that I hadn‘t wanted to see. It had been just for a second, but that had been all that was needed.
In just that one moment, I felt overwhelmed over how such a small, insignificant glance could say so much between two people.
I quickly averted my eyes away in the hopes that it would be enough. Enough that he wouldn‘t want to come over and talk to me. Because I couldn‘t deal with that today.
I couldn‘t handle anything else. Whatever had happened with Cai had been a mistake and I definitely wouldn‘t be addressing that now.
Thankfully, it seemed as though Cai got the message as he didn‘t approach me.
I kept my head down after that, trying to listen to the nominated Elder conducting the funeral. It was hard to hear what they were saying though.
I knew I needed to be here but it was increasingly becoming more difficult. Every breath was feeling harder to take than the last as the anxiety and pain inside me festered.
Finally, once everything was over, I couldn‘t help but exhale sharply from relief. I stayed until almost everyone had left before I took the opportunity I needed, walking up to approach the coffin.
I was grateful it was a closed casket since I didn‘t know what I would do had I‘d been forced to look upon her face once more, reliving the memories of when I‘d found her in the park.
I placed a hand gently on the lid and closed my eyes.
“I‘m so sorry, Myra,” I said quietly.
Suddenly, I could feel the hand of someone touch my shoulder and I looked up quickly to see Myra‘s parents there.
*Thank you for coming,‘ her mother told me. ‘We know our daughter loved you very much. It would mean a lot to her knowing that you came today.”
I gulped, clenching my jaw for a second, and could feel a wave of nausea hit my stomach as I listened to them naively praise me.
*I‘m sorry…,” I said weakly.
They both smiled at me, clearly misunderstanding and thinking I was apologising for their loss in a general way.
“Thank you, dear,” her mother said, gently grabbing my hands in hers tenderly.
She hesitated for a second before looking to Myra‘s father and nodding; both silently agreeing on something
“We were wondering, if it‘s okay with you…,” she started slowly, unsure of herself. “Ah… Well, it would really mean a lot if you could bless her on behalf of the Goddess.”
They both looked at me with large, hopeful eyes, full of such sadness and belief that I could maybe give their daughter one last final gift to be at peace. It was a childish notion in believing the Goddess actually cared about any of us.
But this was what they thought to be true, what they had been raised to think, just as I had once stupidly believed myself in the past life. And I knew I had already robbed them of their only daughter, so was! about to rob them of their faith too?
I pushed down the queasiness that told me not to do this and gently placed my hand back on Myra‘s coffin. It was all bullshit, I knew that… but if the show made them think that maybe Myra was in a better place, then so be it.
| cleared my throat before proceeding.
“O‘ Great Mother, Selene, our Goddess who gave us life and strength. We ask you today to please guide your child, Myra, to eternal peace. Her pure soul has been… Wrongfully taken… ”
This was wrong. I shouldn‘t be doing this.
“Ariadne?” I heard her mother say.
I shook my head, frowning. “Ah… Um, whose soul was wrongfully… –.”
Her hand reached to my shoulder once more in comfort but I couldn‘t take it anymore.
“I‘m sorry, l–I can‘t,” I whispered. “I‘m sorry. I‘m so sorry.”
| shakily stepped back from the coffin and started to walk quickly away from everyone remaining at the funeral, feeling a sensation overwhelming me that I knew I‘d be helpless to stop soon.
I spotted somewhere private in the distance, a place obscured by some trees and bushes. It was perfect for what I was looking for.
Without stopping, I immediately beelined towards it, throwing myself over the public trash bin as I purged the little contents from my stomach into it.
But as I did so, I could feel I wasn‘t alone. The familiar presence of someone else was nearby as they leaned against a tree, spectating the scene occurring before them quietly. They must have followed me here from the proceedings.
“You look like shit, Aria,” they finally said bluntly, after I had appeared to calm down.
“Good to see you too, Aleric,” I replied feebly, turning my face towards him.
He walked over until he was standing next to me but I could tell he was leaving a distance between us
Perhaps he‘d noticed how his sudden show of affection the other day had only made me feel worse, not comforted.
You know what I mean,” he said. “You look like you haven‘t slept in days. And, to be honest, if I hadn‘t just seen you throw up for myself, I would have been severely doubting your eating habits too.”
I wiped at my mouth with the back of my hand before straightening up.
“Aria,” he said with a tone of disapproval. “I was there that night, don‘t lie. I heard what you said. It‘s obvious what‘s going on when you put two and two together.”
“If you understand that much then you should be focusing the search to find the girl, Thea, not a bunch of rogues.”
I‘m not talking about that,” he argued. “I’m talking about you blaming yourself for something you didn‘t do.
“You don‘t know what I did!” I yelled.
He took a step towards me, our conversation becoming more heated. “I know enough. I know that you‘re feeling responsible for leaving her alone with someone you‘re convinced killed her. But we don‘t have any evidence yet, Aria, so I don‘t know why you‘re acting like this.”
“Because I am responsible, Aleric!” I hissed.
We stared at each other, both of us with an intensity in our eyes from the argument.
Something that was only broken by the sound of someone clearing their throat, alerting us to another‘s presence.
“Ah, excuse me, Alpha heir, Beta heir,” they said awkwardly, probably having caught the last part of our argument. “I‘m sorry to bother you but I have come to report an urgent matter that is requiring your attention.”
We both turned our attention to the young warrior who stood before us. He looked terrified at having to be the one to interrupt us mid-argument.
“What is it?” Aleric asked, taking a deep breath to calm himself.
“Ahh, we‘ve found someone. A girl. She matches the description the Beta heir gave us. The girl Myra was last seen with.”
I felt my breath catch in my throat. “Thea? You‘ve found Thea?”
He turned to look at me. “I believe so. A patrol team spotted her at the edge of the woods.”
I walked right up to him and grabbed his jacket in my hands, my body moving on its own from disbelief.” Where? Where is she?!”
He became nervous, uncomfortable by my sudden grasp on him. “Oh.. um… South. She‘s south of town. Not far from the patrol tower there.”
I immediately let go of the warrior and started walking towards the car park without waiting.
She was here. We had her within our reach and I wouldn‘t let her get away this time.
The audacity she had to show up today of all days was making the blood pulse through my veins quickly. She had either royally messed up or perhaps just had a new death wish. Both of which were fine by me so long as she would pay for what she did.
I got into my car and was turning the ignition when Aleric got into the passenger side next to me. I barely paid him any mind though as I started to leave.
“I don‘t think you should go,” he finally said after a few minutes of driving. “Not today at least. There‘ll be plenty of time to question her over the next few days.”
But I just ignored him. He would have to tie me to a tree to stop me from being there. And even then, I wasn‘t sure that would be enough to keep me away for long with how driven I was at that moment.
It didn‘t take much longer to arrive and I instantly caught sight of the small group of warriors, crowding in a large circle around something. Or rather, around someone.
I pushed my way through the group, into the centre… and there she was.
Sitting on the ground, nursing what looked to be a badly injured foot… Was Thea.
To be completely honest, she looked to be in pretty bad shape all over. Several cuts and bruises covered her body from head to toe and she was even wearing the same clothes I‘d seen her in last time.
But it didn‘t matter though. I didn‘t care. I knew what I needed to do.
It was like the numbing ice inside of me was finally melting, being replaced with a fire all on my own. Because there was only one person I blamed for Myra‘s death more than me, and it was staring right up at me pathetically with her big caramel brown eyes.
‘Kill her,’ my old self whispered in my head. ‘Kill her now. Strangle her until the light dies from her eyes.‘
For once we were in perfect agreement and I didn‘t need to be told twice.
I strode right up to her without hesitation and was about to launch myself at her when Aleric then suddenly grabbed at me around my waist, hoisting me away from the crowd and back towards the car. He must have realised immediately what I‘d planned to do.
“Aleric! Let me go!” I screamed, thrashing in his arms. “I‘m going to f#cking kill her! I‘m going to kill her!”
“Stop!” he yelled, setting me down to grab my face in his hands. It was all he could do so I‘d finally tear m y eyes off of Thea long enough to look at him.
“Get a hold of yourself! You‘re a Beta heir, for f#cks sake. You can‘t just attack her like that. You don‘t have any evidence she‘s maliciously involved yet and she could have vital information.”
“No… no, no, no,” I said, pushing him away. “No, I‘m going to kill her. F#ck you. F#ck her. I should have done this a long, long time ago.”
I went to storm back over but he grabbed at my arm, pulling me towards him again. And he moved until h e was speaking directly into my ear in a low, quiet voice.
“If you can‘t control yourself then I‘ll have no choice but to completely remove you, Aria. You‘ll be banned from seeing her again until after the investigation is finalised.”
I stared up at him incredulously with wide eyes. “You can‘t do that. You can‘t.”
“Yes, I f#cking can,” he growled back.
It was a stare off as neither of us wanted to budge… but, finally, I exhaled in defeat, pulling my arm away from him aggressively.
I knew that being able to talk to her was at least better than nothing, even if it pained me to hold back.
“F#ck! Fine, okay. Whatever. We‘ll listen to what she has to say. But as soon as she starts lying, I‘m killing her.” …And so the interrogation began.