The van bumps along the gravel with a sickening finality.
We lost Castrum de Petra. It was completely over taken and it hardly took them more than twenty minutes from beginning to end. I failed my people.
"I was wrong." I mutter weakly into my knees that are pulled up in the seat with me. Dalton reaches up from the row behind me and puts a hand on my shoulder but I hardly feel it. I'm numb all over. "We should have warned them sooner. I should have listened to you all."
My dad leans in closer to me. "Rose, you did what you thought was the right thing at the time."
"But I was wrong!" I shout, a single tear falling down my cheek.
My dad sighs, looking down for a moment and then back up into my eyes while my mom grips my hand tightly. "You're not always going to be right, Rose. You're going to make mistakes."
"My mistake got who even knows how many of my own people killed and Pedro captured." I point out harshly.
"That's what it is to be a ruler." Dad says quickly. "You're responsible for making decisions for an entire kingdom and you do the best you can with what you've got but the stakes are always high. You did the best you could, and that is all any of us can really do. Sometimes we are wrong and that just means we have to work that much harder."
I want to agree. I want to nod and say he's right and move forward, but I just can't. "I can't believe I let Pedro down." I cry again.
Mom grabs my head and forces me to look into her clear blue eyes. "No." She says firmly. "Letting Pedro down would be wallowing when you need to be regrouping."
"Mom, I should have done something to save him. We just let them take him. I'll never forgive myself if he dies because of me."
"And he wouldn't have ever forgiven himself if something happened to you while you were trying to save him," She points out. "Now stop thinking of things that can't be changed and get your head where it needs to be. He wanted to freak out when you disappeared too, but instead he did whatever he needed to do to help plan to get you back. I expect you to do the same."
Her firm 'mom tone' that I usually can't stand snaps me right out of it, something she said making my heart lurch up into my throat. I whip around in my seat, my eyes searching for Nathaniel's.
"Can I go back?" I ask, my eyes bugging. "I've seen the past, can I astral back and change it? Make the call sooner, let Pedro take measures here and I make my announcement sooner?" I'm wishing and praying so hard but the look in his eyes tells me I won't like his answer and I want to go right back to hating myself.
"It doesn't work like that." He tells me solemnly. "I wish it could, trust me," He cuts his eyes back to Dalton, the son I bet he now wishes that he'd never given up since he ended up involved anyway. Of course if going back were possible he would have already done it. "The past is the past. There isn't anything any of us can do to change it. It is the one universal rule. What's done is done."
My shoulders fall in defeat. "Why do I even have to see it if I have zero power to change it?" I sigh.
"Rosie," Dad chides. "You know the answer to that. Why do we study history?"
I sigh deeply, not in the mood for another one of his little learning moments. "Because the past often repeats itself."
"So those who study the past..?"
"Know how to plan for the future."
He smiles, how I don't know because a smile is the last thing I could muster right now. "That's my girl."