Me: Okay, so I said last time that it would take a long time for me to update, but even I didn't expect that it would be SO long. And yeah, Audrey and Astrid both left. They were tired of waiting. Like everyone else. And I'm gonna skip the whole 'I was busy' because that's not even true. I just didn't write. Sorry. Thank you so much mockingjay15x, I'm so sorry for not updating. Anyways, that's enough of that. Here we go!
Chapter 20: The Finale
The sun's setting, although I'm not quite sure enough if it's late enough for it to be real. Maybe it's just the Gamemakers, wanting us to fight in the dark. It doesn't really matter though. The arena is my reality now.
I find two long spools of rope in the Cornucopia and hoist them onto my shoulder, switching back on the netting covering my supplies. I glance around, on constant lookout. The wall has moved even more, although I don't think it's in the caves, not that I can see. Maybe that's where the Gamemakers want us to go. Platinum will be happy, I bet she'll want to see whatever killed Bristol first hand. Besides, she's wanted to go in there since day one.
Weighing my options, I finally sigh, shoving the remote into my pocket, and start walking over to the caves. My eyes sweep the arena before I go in, but wherever Platinum is, she hasn't made an appearance yet. I turn a corner almost as soon as I enter the caves, blocking me from the view of the Cornucopia. I'm not quite sure if that's a good thing though. Platinum can't see me, but I can't see her either. And I'm not really that excited about being snuck up on.
But once I get inside it's pretty obvious what was making the caves glow red. Lava.
It's flowing through the caves, radiating heat, and I take an involuntary step back. Well, it's not secret how Bristol died then. She must have fallen in. I take a deep breath and move forward again, because by now it's pretty obvious the wall isn't in here. They must be trying to force us in. That's not exactly a happy thought.
I try to find a place that will work for my plan, although it's a bit hard, seeing as I don't exactly know what I'm looking for. Actually, to be quite honest, it's a bit hard because I don't know exactly what my plan is. All I know is that if I make myself look unprotected and off guard, Platinum's defences will fall. She's arrogant enough to think that she's sure to win. She may be right. But I'm not going down without a fight. I owe this to Astrid, to Ryker, and most of all, to Riley. After my realization with Ryker, I knew I was wrong coming into the arena, but I still have to win. For him. And for me.
I'm walking down the rocky path, thinking, when the ground suddenly drops off into red-hot lava. I stop so close to the edge I send tiny pebbles down over the edge. Skittering back, almost tripping over the uneven ground, I remind myself I can't get caught up in my thoughts in here. I have to always be on guard. Because there's never a safe moment in the arena.
As I calm down, I stare out into the lava in front of me. It seems like just a small river passing through the caves. I can see the path starting up again on the other side. To my left, the trail I was on turns and continues, and I'm about to keep walking when I have the vague feeling I'm missing something. I look back across the lava river, and then up. When I do, I'm surprised to see a strange formation coming down from the ceiling, like some sort of loop. It's not smooth, but irregular and jagged, but I can't help but feel it's not quite natural. I go back to studying the stream of lava. It's too long for any human to jump across, that's for sure. Even Platinum with her long legs and years of training wouldn't be able to make it.
It would be hard to cross, but if I did, then Platinum would have to try too. And idea strikes me as I look to the rope in my hand, and up to the loop on the roof of the cave. I smile, knowing inside that it was sheer luck that I thought to bring the two long coils that now might just be my saviour. I detach one from myself and carefully choose a knife out of my jacket, one with a small hole in the handle. I thread the rope through it and tie it off, pulling to test if the knot will hold. I'm not surprised it does. I've been knot tying back home at training since forever for just this purpose.
I unravel the rope so it's lying loose on the ground, and aim my knife at the hole in the loop. It's not too hard, more than two feet in diameter, so I let my blade fly with only a moment's hesitation. It soars through the ring, grazing one side, and stops as I grab onto the rope, swing backwards. It sways back and forth across the lava as I slowly lower it to head level, carefully grabbing the rope above the knife. I untie my weapon and slip it back into my jacket. Then, I proceed with leveling the two ends of the rope and tying them together.
When I'm done, I yank on it, hoping that nothing will break. The ring holds. I twist the rope, now tied in a circle, around my wrist, and hold onto it so hard my knuckles turn white. I make sure everything's secured onto my body and before I lose my nerve, take a few steps back and take a running start before flinging myself over the lava.
It's only a second that I'm over the deadly liquid, but it feels like an eternity. Time slows down, and I can feel the heat from the lava beneath me, and the friction from the rope on the rocks. As I near the other side, I expertly start unwinding the rope from my wrist, and at the last moment, I let go, sending myself sprawling onto the rocks on the other side.
Breathing hard, I look back the way I came. The rope is still swinging. Eerily, the way a noose might sway on a hanging post in the dead of night. The caves are dark, illuminated only by the soft glowing of the lava.
I know that here, I'm relatively safe from Platinum, but it won't last long. If there's no final battle, the Gamemakers will make one themselves. I reach out over the lava, grabbing at the still slightly moving rope. Luckily, the ring was closer to my side, or I never would have reached it. When I secure it in my hand, I use a knife to sever it above the knot, and pull, causing it to come down from the hoop on the ceiling and pool into a messy circle on the rocks beside me.
Gathering it into my arms and tossing some of it over my shoulder, I start carefully walking again, trying to think. I don't get far before I reach lava again though, and now instead of trying to cross it, I follow it, walking off the path. Constantly leaning right, I realize what's happened when I reach another path. I look up and I'm not quite surprised to see the loop hanging down over the lava. I'm on an island.
I stare back down the path to the entrance. Surely there's mutts in these caves. There has to be. But I can't really go back the way I came. With a start, I realize that this is where it'll all end. I'll die in here, or I'll be pronounced victor. Either way, I have a feeling it'll be soon.
Looking back up at the ceiling, I realize something else. Platinum doesn't have a remote to get into the Cornucopia supplies. There's no way she'll be able to get a rope from there. Unless, of course, she gets a sponsor. But she could have needed it for her head injury, I can't remember how deep the cut was. Either way, I need a plan.
If she knows she can't get to me from the other side, then maybe the Gamemakers will do something to insure a good finale. And that's never good for the tributes involved.
But if she didn't know she couldn't get to me... Then maybe she could fail trying... I look down at the rope in my hand.
Slowly, hands overlapping each other as I attempt to find the middle of the rope, beginning what must be my biggest risk since I went back to save Astrid from the dragon mutt. When I find it, I take a knife, and careful not to sever it completely, start cutting into it, making it as slim and fragile as I can. When I finish, the rope looks like it would tear apart at any form of contact. Satisfied, I tie my knife from before onto one of the ends before sending it flying back over the lava and through the ring of rocks. I even the sides of the rope out until they're both at the same height, but unlike last time, when the knife comes back to my side of the lava river, I push it back over until it drops down on the rocks on the other side. I lay down my side of the rope on the ground and cover it with the heaviest rock I can find. Stable enough, and if it's not, it's not really my problem.
I step back to admire my trap. It's practically undetectable. The weakened part of the rope is hidden by the loop, but if Platinum puts any weight on it to swing over the lava river, it should snap. And she should fall.
It should work, seeing as Platinum will probably realize the rope is how I got over the lava river. She probably won't, however, realize that I rigged it to fall on her. A memory stirs, a memory of a story before the time of our nation. About a secret land over a river, and a swinging rope across it. But the rope snapped, and a girl died. I know it's wrong, but I can't help but smile.
It has to work. It has to.
When everything's set up, a rush of fatigue overcomes me and I sit down against a boulder, looking out at my trap. I wait a while, but between everything that's happened today, I can barely keep my eyes open. Could it really have been just this morning that Astrid and Thorn were taken from the arena? It seems like forever ago.
With a knife gripped tightly in my hand, I sink slowly against the rocks and I feel myself slipping away. It's not smart, to sleep here, with enemies coming, and mutts sure to be scouring the caves, but I need rest. My grip on the knife slackens, and unconsciousness overcomes me.
When I wake, it's still dark. I'm starting to doubt if the Gamemakers will ever make it light again. Maybe they just want us fighting in some dim cave with only the light of deadly lava to help us see. Of course they do. The Capitol is all about the dramatics. I scramble around until I find my knife beside me, which I dropped while I slept. I'm not sure how long I was out, but in any case, I'm still alive.
Platinum still hasn't made an appearance, and I'm getting anxious. Maybe she found another way around. Maybe she's sneaking up on me at this very moment. Instinctively, I tense up and swivel around. But nothing happens. I take a few breaths to calm myself.
My heart rate is almost down to its normal level when I hear the sound again. The sound of the mystery wall coming closer and closer. It's quiet, and then louder, louder. And then it stops. I try to measure where it stopped from the volume of the sound. I estimate it was about at the cave entrance.
And then I hear the footsteps. I twist around, trying to locate them in the echoing cave. They're from the entrance too, where I came from. It must be Platinum.
Trying to think of how I should present myself, I finally lie back down, facing the lava river, with my hair covering my eyes. I can see through it, see her approaching, but maybe, if I'm lucky, she'll think I'm asleep. Maybe she'll let her guard down a little more. I'm not completely careless though. I position my foot carefully so I can jump to my feet on a seconds notice.
I can feel my heart hammering in my chest. My breathing quickens. This is it.
This is it.
An immeasurable amount of time later, the footsteps are close enough to hear clearly, and I can hear the sound of ragged breathing. I sneak a glance up through my hair. Platinum. Of course.
Her head is clear of blood, and I can't see an injury. She must have gotten a sponsor gift. I'm not really surprised.
I can tell she sees me because she stops dead. I hear her breath catch. I see her smile.
Without hesitation, she walks to the rope, watching me as she goes. She thinks I'm asleep. An easy kill. She has to. She would have said something before now otherwise.
She takes in the rope, and the rock securing it to my side of the river. She frowns and picks up the rope, yanking on it. I cringe, picturing it breaking, my plan failing. How did I not think of that? How did I not realize she'd test it? But somehow, amazingly, the rope holds. Platinum takes half a step back and grips the rope. Half a step forward.
I take a deep breath.
She's halfway across the river. Three-quarters. The rope's still holding. What if she makes it? What if she doesn't fall?
The rope snaps.
And screaming, whipping up her pale blonde head to see what happened, arms flailing to find a purchase, anything that could save her, Platinum falls. I sit up as it happens, and I meet her eyes before her body is engulfed by the lava, and she knows I tricked her. With a last horrible scream, she sinks into the lava, and a moment later, the cannon fires.
Trumpets blare. Applause sounds in my ears. A Gamemakers voice declares me victor of the 57th Annual Hunger Games.
I think of Ryker, Astrid, Genie, Bristol, and even that blonde haired boy I killed on the first day. And though I may be a victor, I feel anything but victorious.
But I'm alive. And that's really the best I could have ever hoped for.
I hope you liked it. Super long chapter cause of the super long wait. And I am never ditching this story. I feel like it would be a failure to you guys as well as my own personal failure. So, I probably have maybe 1-2 more chapters plus an epilogue, and then I'll be done, and there might be a few more long waits, but until then, bye!