The Ruler and The Killer Part One.
Nothing okay, to the ruler and the killer baby.
Claustrophobia - The 115th Hunger Games.
Head Gamemaker Felidae Glass.
Nothing could ruin today. Absolutely nothing.
I breathe again in the mirror and straighten out my pant suit. I've been waiting for this day to come for ages now. Well, it feels like ages. It's always been hard doing things when the President is right underneath your nose, constantly checking your every move with a keen eye. Another shaky breath comes out. I wonder if she's arrived? No-one has told me anything, and in a sense, I'm glad for that. Right now, knowing she's here, that'd only make me more nervous.
But this is my day. Not hers, but mine. The woman is magnificent, but it can't always be about her.
I check the mirror once more - this time running a hand through my silver, spiky locks - before readjusting the rose on my lapel.
Today is my wedding.
But not just any wedding. Oh no. Today is the rest of my life with my wife, and together, we'll be the first ever lesbian couple to be wed underneath the eyes of our friends, family, colleagues and Panem-royalty.
The door opens a tad and my nephew, Leon, peeks in.
"She's arrived," he squeaks, voice rather high for his age and gender. I look at him with uncertainty. "And she isn't alone either, Aunt Felidae."
My heart hiccups in my chest and everything feels blurry.
"More white-haired people?" I choke out.
He nods, and that sends my mind spiralling. It's one thing to invite the President of Panem to your wedding - despite being her Head Gamemaker - but for her to bring out the unknown family members? That's almost legendary. It means she must expect a lot from this. A lot more than I anticipated. Leon slips out again and closes the door, but it doesn't go all the way. Curiosity gets the better of me and I walk over, peeking through the gap at the crowd.
Anyone whose someone is in this audience. I say audience like it's a show, but really, it is. Me and Rahne are the first lesbian couple to actually wed. Many gay couples have, sure, but lesbians are another thing - we're almost like a dying breed. But being the Head Gamemaker for the last five years - including this year - has meant that, no matter my sexuality, I've been accepted for my keen mind and clear conscious. I catch a glimpse of curly hair and know instantly that Hermes Abbatone has arrived - he's one of the anyone whose someone I was on about, but he almost happens to be the top talkshow host in the Capitol. His commentating partner, Gregor, is nearby too, china-white face and rosy cheeks.
My fellow Gamemakers are out there too. Sterling, my second-in-command, is on the front row, and I'm almost sick with the sight of him. I do not and will never like Sterling. He might be my second-in-command, but I make sure that his tasks are minimal, just so he has no chance of impressing someone for the righted promotion and my resignation. The Mutts expert, Liole, is next to him, followed by Lenore and her ability to create quick and simple traps to exterminate the tributes that cause trouble. My whole team is out there. I might not like them all - I don't like many people anyway - but as their boss, I have a duty to invite them all, just for looks, really.
A blur of white hair passes the crack in the door and I flinch. I study the figure carefully and deduce that it must be Esmeralda's husband, Keller. He is, so far, her fourth husband, the others having mysteriously died at an early age, as well as being ten years her junior. He not only dyed his hair to become white - to match the rest of the pristine family - but he also took her name, not the other way around. Each marriage has left Esmeralda and her husband with separate names. Then, they would die, and it wouldn't matter. Keller, however, is now officially Keller Snow, husband of Esmeralda Snow. I've never met him personally; but I hear he's like a shark, all calm until he snaps, but that smile and those eyes lie something else.
A smaller blur appears next to him and they stand together, chatting quietly.
Esmeralda's son, Theodore. He's young - around ten I believe - and is just as famous as his mother. Why? There are so many tales of him being egotistical, a meglomaniac, and many more. His small frame is home to a large ego that he, apparently, enjoys to force people to stroke. Nobody knows who his father is - it could have been any of the three husbands before Keller, because really, Esmeralda's pregnancy happened when husband number three died and before Keller arrived. I guess Theodore just presumes Keller is his father.
Together, the three of them make a blissful family. A family I've never met, and apparently, am about to get the chance too.
Right now, the pressure is on.
I breathe through my teeth again and try to fight the bubbling sickness and nerves. It's my wedding, and yet, an act of kindness and maybe some superiority has left me with an overwhelming sense of negativity on a day that is suppose to be positive. I back away from the door and close it gently, only for the wooden door to fly out again. Then, I'm face-to-face with her. Esmeralda Snow. Her mere sight can push anyone into a verbal coma, but me and Esmeralda have had a more... closer relationship than she did with her previous Head Gamemakers. Before me was Knightley Knox, who lasted until the One Hundred and Tenth Hunger Games before eventually quitting, that year being his last. I took over for the One Hundred and Eleventh.
She gently opens her arms and ushers me into them for a brief hug. She's pushing me away as quickly as she hugged me, hands on my shoulders. I look her in the eyes and, for once, I can see a glint of what must be genuine sadness.
"I'm happy for you Felidae, and I'm happy you invited me today."
I gulp harshly and smile. "And thank you for coming. It's a real honor that you chose to come, I uh, I didn't think you'd be free."
"For you, my dear, I'd clear the schedule. Can I ask whether you're taking Rahne's last name or whether her yours?"
"She's taking mine. Felidae and Rahne Glass." I reply with confidence.
I smile again and Esmeralda laughs - a little too brightly - as her hands dip into her breast pocket. She pulls forth a small piece of white paper and hands it to me.
"As you know, Felidae, the Games are coming up once more. I trust that you are ready for your theme this year?" I stare carefully at the words that spell out Claustrophobia, nodding when I see Esmeralda has moved towards the small couch, brushing her fingers along the top. "I want an arena designed around this theme. Take it as you wish, just like you've always done."
Last year's theme was Fire, and the year before that, it was Poison. Simple themes that allowed my mind to flood with creativity.
Fire's arena was an ice arena that, eventually, began to wear away as the heat from lava underneath melted everything. Snow went to water. Ice to water. The snowy mountain made of snow that peaked the entire arena melted and almost drowned everyone. Not to mention that the cold from the ice and snow on their feet and bodies boded well with the heated temperature; throwing their bodily systems off-balance.
Poison's arena was even more beautiful. They were trapped in a house where the air was tainted, giving them limited time. The shortest but most brutal Games I've ever seen done. Everyone was too busy panicking, attacking each other with their fingernails, crashing their heads against concrete walls... we had a Victor, Elesa Azel from District Five, but the poison permanently messed up her lungs. The Capitol fixed them like they always do - but her voice is now quiet and she can't strain it so much.
I've always thought outside of the box. I get the theme and take it to a complete other level, going the distance to not be... cliché.
She never done themes before - but when she promoted me to Head Gamemaker, she loved my creativity and went above challenging me to see how well I'd perform. For the last four years now - this being my fifth term - I've performed well. But this word doesn't bring any instant lightbulbs or sparks of ideas. It brings me... nothing.
That is what scares me the most.
"I hope that it isn't too hard for you, Felidae," Esmeralda says quietly, her voice becoming rather haunting. "I'd hate for you to mess up when you've only recently got married. It'd be such a shame to marr a great start to the year with such an appauling failure."
I beg for the creativity to come, but it doesn't. In the end, I'm left with a piece of paper, like a lifeline, shaking in my hands, a sense of uselessness washing over me. I look up finally and she glances briefly at me.
"Have a great wedding."
Before we start, a review for this chapter would still be appreciated!
Please look at the prologue for either 'Blood Thicker Than Water' or 'Wild One' to read up about the backstory and aftermath of why the Games continued and Katniss died. This verse is called the EsmeraldaVerse - following the Games - but I don't want to keep repeating the story. If you're unsure, it's there on either of those stories, first chapter! It'll explain everything and give you an understanding. That way, you aren't clueless about everything. As I say below, I'm trying to world-build here. As guessed, this is the third instalment in EsmeraldaVerse, and I would prefer if you knew the backstory and everything, so please go and look if you haven't.
We have jumped ten years from when Wild One is set. I did this because I wanted to introduce newer Victors, newer faces and so forth.
Plus, it won't interfere with Wild One then, since the Victor is never decided until last moment.
The arena will be kept a secret until the bloodbath.
The form is once again on my profile, and once again, I ask you PM the form with the title of the message being something along the lines of Claustrophobia, Tribute for SYOT, or something, something to tell me that it is indeed for my newest SYOT, just so I can still see the other forms and messages and such. Makes it easier to search for references, too. A tribute list is also on my profile. If the spot says: Collected, then you cannot submit for that tribute. If it's blank, it's open.
I don't have many positions left open. Only five, actually. Every next SYOT I complete, the reservations and form requests just seem to flood in... a lot of people do miss out, and I'm sorry for that. I try to rotate as much as possible so that people get a chance at some point. I never not do these. If you miss out this once, I can guarantee you there will be more times in the future. I have many arena ideas I want to use eventually!
I have some pickiness concerning tributes:
Names - names are important to me. Everyone has different tastes - and as long as it meets my taste - it'll be fine. It needs to represent themselves and, sometimes, their districts. Unusual names are great, too, but don't go and butcher an unusual name with an unusual spelling. I've had a tribute called 'Danyelle' before, and it's so bad I wanted to cry. Names like 'Jasmine' or 'Liam' will be ignored. Be original; but be thoughtful. (I've been dubbed a name whore... you know who you are -.-)
Ages - certain ages are expected. For all of you who have the Career positions, I don't like Careers younger than 16! 16, 17 or 18 only. I'm not too fond of 12 year olds in general - not guaranteed bloodbaths, but I struggle to portray them perfectly - but one might be okay. It all depends. I'm fussy on looks; so when I put all the tributes down with their ages, I want a balance of ages. You might be asked to age your tribute up or down if this is the case. People seem to create older tributes, which is fine, but at the same time, I need balance for realism.
Compromise - I want good tributes. Not perfect, but good. Sometimes I will need you to change things. People who are unwilling to change slight things will be ignored and rejected. People who get rude over me wanting to edit their tribute will also be ignored - I've had you people before -.-
Submitting then leaving - don't bother submitting if you know you have a busy life where you won't read/review/whatever for weeks on end. Everyone has lives, yes, but don't go and make a character and, on that, make a contract with me, knowing you can't live up to it. On that note: no recycled tributes. I do know if they are, I keep a track on many other SYOTs. If the SYOT, however, did fail at some point and your character was never used, then feel free to submit them, but please tell me that so I know.
No volunteers from an outer district without a decent, realistic reason given - tributes that volunteer for younger siblings or friends will be ignored, too.
All lookalikes must be reasonable; a twenty-five year old woman will not look like a fifteen year old tribute. Age appropriate, please. 17-18 tributes have more leeway.
Also, no making family or friends as Victors, please. I have created every single slot for this world and, actually, each one has been mentioned or heard from. I want it to be fluent. With this, please be careful about family/friends who have died in a previous year, since it might clash with other tales. I'm kinda pass it since BTTW...