Welcome to the sequel to Tears of Blood! If you're reading this and you haven't read Tears of Blood then stop! Go back and read that because this contains lots of spoilers for it. (Also updates are consistently, barring internet malfunctions, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.)

We're really excited to bring this to you, and we hope that you love reading it as much as we're loving working on it! We've got some incredibly talented new authors, and a host of our old cast returning. Don't worry, we're not going anywhere!

I would like to address a few concerns though. In the past few days—since the article in WSJ has come out/the conclusion of Tears of Blood, we've received a LOT of PM's from people who are concerned about some other people stealing our ideas.

We are perfectly fine with their being other stories based on this concept, it's flattering! However, what we do have a problem with is people stealing our exact ideas—whether they be arena, tribute names/history/personality, story name/account name, or even one blatant pathetic excuse of a person that started putting Tears of Blood on wattpad, claiming it to be their own.

We've had all three things happen in the past and our goal is for them not to happen again. We encourage people to do their own stories based on the concept, but please use your own ideas. Give us something good and original to read! Yes, there will be some similarities, but there should not be any overwhelmingly so in any one 24 style story.

We'd like to know who else is doing these, so that we can touch base with people so that no one treads on anybodies toes (us on yours or you on ours). We are very reasonable and adult, and we don't want ANY problems with anybody.

So yes, we're not concerned with their being other 24 stories, we are supportive—but our support will end if your story becomes too similar in execution.

Thank you for all of your love! It's really hard and time-consuming to do this story, but it's very rewarding because of the love and kindness that each one of you show us.

Speaking of love and kindness…I suppose you should find out why there's a Quarter Quell from the loving, kind sisters Head Gamemaker Phoenix Aerona Snow and Gamemaker Belles Crowne.

…Yeah maybe not loving and kind…XD

Note on title: "Cradle to the Grave" is the concept of caring for someone all your life, birth to death.

"It was the coldest night of the year
Snow-covered street lamps and belvedere
The moon was just a sliver
Light was fading
The war was on its way
And we were waiting
You asked me, how long I'd stay by your side
And so I answered
With only just one reply
Til the casket drops
Til my dying day
Til my heartbeat stops
Til my legs just break
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
Til the casket drops"

—"Till the Casket Drops" by ZZ Ward

Belles Crowne, Assistant Gamemaker

By Isabugg

I want to inhale the stars and choke on all the lives they once held. I want to comb my fingers through a thick bed of grass, raise my face toward the sky and feel sheets of sunlight dance on my skin. I want to explore the dark, hidden nooks and crannies of the world, brush away the dust on what once was lost.

But that can only happen once the districts have been sufficiently punished, broken beyond repair with their streets littered with the tears and blood of their inhabitants.

It's only what they deserve after taking away Phoenix's birth father. How dare they, after all the Capitol had given them? They were so uncivilized and barbaric that when we reached out to feed them, they responded by simply chomping on our fingers.

A war. They started a war. A war that they lost, obviously, but a war nonetheless. It's despicable. They're lucky the Capitol was so merciful. Personally, I think we should have punished them with much more than the Hunger Games and the so-called 'destruction' of District 13.

Thank the heavens Phoenix—sister dearest, I don't know what I'd do without her—has finally worked her way up to the position of Head Gamemaker. Maybe we can at last give the districts what they deserve.

I think this while I mindlessly sweep my fingers across the smooth, cold surface of a computer screen. Its light makes my paper pale skin glow with a sort of blueish gleam, making me look less human than I already am.

The grinning faces of past and potential future tributes dart across the screen, beaming with strength and youth. It makes me sick. They should be crippled, quivering little crumples of wounds and broken bones. It's what they did to Phoenix's father during the war, after all.

My chest deflates as I let out a long, breathy exhale, skimming over the little blurbs of text under each tribute photograph for mistakes before quickly moving on to the next one. It's a dull job, yes, but a necessary one. I'm Assistant Head Gamemaker this year, and the last thing I'd want is a typo slipping through the system with Phoenix's head on the line, especially with her new son—Coriolanus Snow—finally in the world.

I remember gently placing my palm on Phoenix's rounded belly before looking up and seeing her cheeks flushed with the rosy tint of pregnancy. I remember racing to the Capitol hospital and reaching the door of her room just as her newborn child was placed in her hands, and I remember not being able to suppress the fits of giggles that had bursted out of my lips as I made my way over to her bedside and cupped her face in my palms. "Your son is almost as beautiful as you, Sister mine."

With crushing suddenness, my eyes catch a picture of a familiar face—one of District 4's with tumbling locks of dark sienna hair and a hard, locked jaw—and my finger freezes in its place before it can change the screen's contents. I swallow hard, leaning forward in my chair ever so slightly and squinting at the name flashing across the screen: Moss Dorian. Across his Training Center photo are bolded red letters reading DEATH BY [Jules Surket], and its so bright that I feel a muffled stinging in my eyes.

Without thinking, I let a small smile ghost its way across my lips. Ah, yes, Moss of District 4. One of the more...entertaining deaths from last year's games. One of the more...outspoken tributes. My smile grows, and I perch my pointed chin on the edge of my palm as I read through the information in his file.



NAME: Moss Dorian



My gaze dips down to the bottom of the page, skipping the rest of the basic information. It evolves from short, list-like facts to entire paragraphs retelling his journey through the arena, and soon enough, I found what I was looking for: the speech. It was recorded down to every last word, every pause and even every hitch in his breath.

"Everyone I cared about, [3.61 second pause, rapid pulse rate increase] everyone I loved in this damn arena is dead."

I tilt my head to the side, taking a strand of my scarlet hair and innocently twirling it between my fingers as I read on.

"...So I must have won, right? [increase in body temp 37.839° C to 38.294° C] Isn't that the point of these fucking Games?"

The corners of my mouth curl upwards into a sweet smile, like poison swirled with honey. Oh, Moss. You have no idea how much power you've given us with those words. You have no idea just how much suffering we can wreak upon the districts, using your pathetic little outcry as a justification. Phoenix and I really should thank you.

The tributes won't be prepared for what we're giving them. It'll be bloody, unforgiving, heart-wrenching. We've played with the name a bit, tried to make it seem less horrifying than it actually is.

I tap the pad of my finger on the corner of the screen, and it wipes away the tribute information before replacing it with a lengthy document Phoenix had been working on throughout her pregnancy.

Across the top of it are two words, bolded and menacing:


I only have time to reread a single line of the small print underneath it—"to be held every twenty-five years"—before the booming sound of double doors bursting open echoes behind me, making me clench my jaw as it reverberates in my skull. Quickly and viciously, I sweep my hand across the computer screen to cloak its contents, unable to hide the dark scowl wriggling on my lips as I do so.

I hear the strident click-clacking of high heels stepping toward me. "Assistant Gamemaker Belles! I have important information to share with y—"

I sharply swivel my computer chair around, tightly grasping on the edges of my armrests until my knuckles become even whiter than my already pale flesh. "How about knocking next time?" I hiss. It takes me a moment to register the woman who had just plowed into my office, her chestnut hair falling in waves across her shoulders and her features gradually twisting with a mixture of utter surprise and fright. I can't even remember her name, the useless hag, but I remember working across from her for last year's games. With a deep breath, I relax my death-grip and force a sweet grin to taper on my features. "I'm oh-so very sorry." No I'm not. "I'm a little jumpy after-hours." And when I'm in the company of incompetent idiots. "Please, have a seat. Make yourself at home." Please proceed to go die in a fire.

The nameless woman flashes me a fleeting smile before skittishly finding her way to one of the wooden chairs that lay askew to my desk, her back ramrod straight and her lipstick-coated mouth held firmly in a bloodless line. "No, really, it's my fault, Miss. Coming in here without an invitation, how rude of me."

My eyebrows twitch upward at her, but I make sure to maintain my polite air. "Oh, nonsense. No need to apologize. What did you need to tell me, anyway?" I say. Just spit it out, bitch, I think. My eyes crinkle as my smile broadens.

She lets out a slight breath of nervous laughter. "Not tell, Miss. Show." Her shoulders rise a bit as she sets a single piece of paper on my desk, a faint tremble in her willowy fingers.

I grip at the material of my dress as I lean forward, my cat-like eyes scanning the paper. It looks like it had just flown out of the printer, its ink slightly smudged at the edges, but I can still discern what it is in an instant. "The list of tributes for the 25th Hunger Games?"

"Oh, yes. The official list." The woman smiles. "Very important, Miss. That's why I came running."

Tentatively, I take the list away from where it lays on my desk to take a closer look. The paper is warm—freshly printed, just as I thought—and the names on it are all familiar. Of course, I had studied all the possible candidates like my life had depended on it, soaked in all their information until I knew them all like old friends.

"It's strange, though, isn't it?"

I dart my gaze upward, my eyes digging into the woman like daggers.

She swiftly leans backward, as if she felt the impact of my eyes. "W-Well, I mean, Miss...It's just that the reapings weren't even held yet. How can we...How can this list even—exist?"

The corner of my mouth quirks. A genuine smile, for once. "Oh, you see, this year's games are very...different," I chuckle, like a slight vibrato in my trilling voice.

I register the look of confusion on the woman's face, but I don't care to tend to it. Instead, I get up from my chair and begin walking out of my office. I must show this list to Phoenix as quickly as possible.

"A house made out of glass, will surely shatter
So we built a fortress, of red bricks and ladders
The ground, it started shaking
The bombs are falling
But we could've walked away
We had a warning
And you asked me, how long I'd stay by your side
And so I answered
With only just one reply
Til the casket drops
Til my dying day
Til my heartbeat stops
Til my legs just break
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
Til the casket drops
So lay your burden down baby
And lead me out the door
We can't escape this ricochet
I'm ready for this war"

The other half of the song, "The Casket Drops" by ZZ Ward.

Phoenix Aerona Snow, Head Gamemaker

By Phoenix Refrain

The crisp sheet of paper is placed on my desk. My eyes fall on it, and I push back a strand of hair before my fingers reach for it greedily. Months, no years, of planning have come to this—one, solitary piece of paper lined with twenty-four names.

My hand touches the screen of my computer, and opens a few files—already prepared and waiting for me, twenty-four neat files that contain absolutely everything I need to know about this year's tributes. I can feel the corners of my mouth pulling up into a smile as Belles enters the room, it isn't long before she's leaning her head against my shoulder to read with me.

There's the D1's, strong and experienced—Admire Blanchard was definitely willing to get her hands dirty. My eyes skim down the list, two good stand-outs from two as to be expected. District three had the illegitimate son of a Peacekeeper. My hand glides over the screen and brings up the Peacekeeper's file, just as I thought—he'd been training his son, attempting to hide him from the Capitol's eye. Foolish man, why the hell would we care who he screwed while he was in the Districts? The girl though…she was…interesting.

My fingers glide over the screen before I speak, "This one." Belles nods her head in agreement before we continue on. District four—typical. District five, boring. District six, same old story of drug addicts. Seven—the mayor's son! Too bad, I hadn't anticipated that one—we could have offered him a deal to save him but it's not a big loss really. Eight is unimpressive as is nine, but there it is—right there on the page the name I knew would be coming.

District 10: Sean Armani, brother of Aleah Armani of the 24th Games.

I lean back from the desk—barely skimming over the rest of the names. Boring, boring, and more boring. The notes on the bottom of the sheet are well researched. The names of the tributes whose family had bribed them in to winning, the boy who's name had been voted because of the issues he caused…How foolish, they were thinking that they we wouldn't know about their attempts. Luckily for them, I really don't care what they do. I couldn't care less for who most of the tributes are. By all means, bribe their way into the games if they want—I don't care which of them I kill really. They're all just from the districts.

I wonder what Aleah Armani is thinking now that she knows that her brother will likely be voted into the arena? Probably wishing she hadn't been so horrid or uncooperative to me when I'd paid her a visit. All she had to do was comply—then no matter what the votes were, her brother would have been safe.

Now, she'll do what we say or else her brother won't stand a chance in the arena. She'll beg, I'll see to it that whatever pride she has left is stripped away. Where once, I would have guaranteed her brother's safety—I will only guarantee that she will have help, a chance. Then of course, if she doesn't comply—well, she'll watch him die horrifically in the arena until there's nothing left to send home to her. There's nothing worse than a non-compliant victor—better they're dead or completely broken.

Alex Zervakos happens to be a model of a Victor—pretty much dead inside after the present I sent him on the estimated due date of his child—had it been born. A perfectly white porcelain doll with a green dress, and red haired curls cascading down its back. Perfect blue eyes looking at him, judging him for failing her and her mother. A tiny little note pinned to her dress,

It was a girl, Alex.

A cry tears me away from my thoughts, and I go over to Coriolanus' bassinet where he sits where he's pulled himself up. His hands reach for me and grab into the tangles of my hair as he smiles all the way to his dark black eyes—the eyes of my father…my eyes before I had their colour changed. They'd been too frightening for most people—like the eyes of a snake, they said.

Belles leaves me alone in my office, as I feed Coriolanus in the comfort of seclusion. His hands stay tangled in my hair as he suckles. His hair is dark, like his father's, but his features are fine, like mine. It's hard to believe now that there was a moment when I had thought of him as something to be taken care of, something I didn't want, and something I'd been tricked into. But as he grew inside of me against my will because of his father's meddling, I found that he was more like me than anyone but my sister.

However, that didn't change the fact that his traitor of a father had outlasted his usefulness. I was set up in a way that with him gone, I would inherit this position. My plans were all laid together—it was the perfect timing really since these games were almost all of my own conceptions. Why should I not take full credit for them? After all, I look good all in black.

I can't help but smile as I realize how easily really it has all come together. Meeting Vesperus Snow, meeting his parents…then their tragic demise and the Avox who took the blame—hacked them up into little pieces, they said. The perfect opportunity for me to step in and console him right into bed and the palm of my hand. It was easy after that.

Last year, he heard my idea—said it was his own—and started the planning. He never realized that it was just a starting point, just the first domino in a pattern that I was setting up. The thing about giving tributes a virus that makes you go crazy means there's bound be crazy things done and most importantly—said. Easy to let things flow, let the tributes descend into madness until someone said something against the Capitol. It was bound to happen—teenage hormones, crazy virus, and death everywhere. Someone would try to light a fuse that would let the next step of my plan come into action.

Moss Dorian was that tribute.

His crazy little tirade struck a note of anger in the President that I stoked into a fire. Moss' speech was more beautiful than I had imagined or even hoped for in my wildest dreams. President Finn was troubled by it…and he dealt with Moss' family accordingly. But in his office with my belly bulging with the last days of my pregnancy approaching, we had a little chat.

"His words were dangerous, President Finn," I cautioned.

"It's been taken care of," he folds his hands in front of him.

"But has it really?"

"What do you mean?" He furrows his brows at me.

I bite my full lip. "I'm not saying there are leaks, President Finn…but you know that some people talk. What if the news of Moss Dorian's outburst gets out? Shouldn't we stomp out the embers before we have a full-blown rebellion? We don't need to let them have any hope that their words can reach us or do anything." My voice is urgent, more urgent than I wanted it to be. "We need to teach them not to hope to overcome us. We need to crush that thought of their minds."

He looks at me as if he sees me for the very first time. "And what would you have me do, Mrs. Snow?"

"We should have a Quell." He raises an eyebrow at the word. "Quell has always meant to silence, to subdue. We need to quell any chances, any embers of rebellion or else there could be a flame we can't put out. I had this idea a few weeks ago," I lied easily.

"You're much more ambitious than your late husband, Phoenix. May I call you Phoenix?" He continues on, "Tell me more. I'm very interested."

I have been planning this for ten years, this whole idea of a Quell. The root of it all stems in my birth and the death of my father, but let him believe that I just come up with only because of Moss. It's better that way, it's better for him to not see me coming—better that he never sees the hand that will one day linger over his drink a fraction of a second too long. No one wants to see the Reaper.

"Every twenty-five years, there will be a Quell. It will serve as a reminder to every citizen in the districts that is only by our kindness that they be allowed to live at all. Each Quell will have a twist—every twenty-five years, something will happen that changes the game and makes it that more terrifying."

"And what would happen this first year, Phoenix?" He leans forward in interest.

"We make them choose amongst themselves who will go by popular vote. None shall be innocent of sending a child to slaughter, or at least trying to. And the arena will be spectacular. They will learn why they're incapable of ever overcoming us…"

He had agreed as I laid out the arena for him in painstaking detail—the interferences, the general lay-out, and even a special touch to show them we are in complete control. I propose there be no winner for this games, but President Finn insists there must be a winner so I'm forced to concede.

Coriolanus lets go of me. After, I burp him. I hold him out in front of me. "One day, Coriolanus, I'll tell you all about your grandfather—the man you share your name with. I'll tell you what happened to him and why." My voice falls to a whisper as I stroke the soft, downy hair. "One day, I'll see to it that you're President of Panem."

And perfectly on cue, Coriolanus Snow laughs while his dark eyes dance with mirth.