Deep in the Meadow

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Chapter 16

In an instant, Iโ€™m up. The first thing I think is of Thren. Why are there screams? Is it him? Is he dying? Then I remember Shine and Dean. Taking a moment to swing my pack over my shoulder and position my weapons, I run to the edge of the cave. I kick Dean and Shine awake.

โ€œGet UP! GET UP!โ€ I shout. I run to them as they jump up. โ€œYou were supposed to be on GUARD!โ€ I yell at Shine, noticing the fact she was asleep. โ€œWe could all be dead!โ€

โ€œSorry!โ€ She says back. Dean runs to the start of the cave and looks out.

โ€œWow,โ€ he says, staring out of the rocky opening. โ€œAm I glad weโ€™re in here.โ€

I run to his side and look out as well. Here and there I can see packs, weapons, supplies floating in the water. The Gamemakers have flooded the arena. They flooded the ice. Itโ€™s very lucky we came here when we did because the island we are on is the only piece of land I can see until the mountains. I havenโ€™t heard a cannon so the others must all be alive. Just as I think that, a cannon fires. It could have been anyone. Here and there are the tips of trees, just high enough to be out of reach. Just above the water. Water? It looks too thick to be water. Too dark. A thought comes to my mind. A very alarming thought. I run down to where the island is submerged and lean down to touch the liquid. I realise what it is as the tips of my fingers touch it. The arena is submerged in blood. Hot, steaming blood.

I quickly shake off my finger, getting rid of most of the hot red water, and sprint up to the cave. Now I know what the water is. Another thought comes to mind as I sprint faster to the cave. Years of hunting have taught me that my realization will not be false. I get there and realise that Shine has had the same realization as I did. Sheโ€™s got her bow strung and her pack up on her back. For once, we mutually agree on something. Grabbing my knives, I shout at Dean.

โ€œGet packed! Quickly!โ€

โ€œWhy?โ€ He asks, oblivious.

โ€œThis hill is the only piece of land for a long while.โ€ I explain. โ€œWhen the others see it they will head towards this island. And what is in plain view on the island?โ€ I ask with my eyebrows raised.

โ€œOur caveโ€ฆโ€ He replies in a hollow voice.

โ€œExactly,โ€ says Shine. She runs out the opening and cries out, โ€œI can see people coming!!! MOVE FAST!โ€

Dean and I sprint to her side, my knife ready. Sure enough there are small red figures swimming towards us in the water.

โ€œI donโ€™t think theyโ€™ve seen usโ€ฆ Yet,โ€ whispers Dean โ€œFollow me. Be quiet and quick.โ€ He looks around and sprints towards the forest behind the cave. I know he has made a mistake, he has no weapon. Nothing to defend himself with. I can hear shouts as the people make it to the island. Two start to chase the first one. The girl - I can see her long hair - starts running toward us. Closely pursued by the last two. Itโ€™s either Coral, Sara or Venia. I clutch my side as Dean, Shine and I reach a small clearing. Iโ€™ve got a stitch, a bad one. I canโ€™t run any further. But I have to. Iโ€™ve got to get away, far away. Even now I can hear feet thundering towards us. We wonโ€™t be fast enough. We canโ€™t get away.

My moment of distress is shared by my allies. Shine reaches up and kisses Dean very gently on the mouth.

โ€œIf one of us doesnโ€™t make it out.โ€ She says. What about me? I obviously want to survive?! In our distraction we only have about five seconds warning to dive away and draw our weapons as the first girl runs into the clearing. Sheโ€™s wielding a spear and at closer glance I see she is Venia. Whereโ€™s Abbot? Did they break their alliance? Or was it his death that triggered the cannon in the blood lake? I could kill her. She doesnโ€™t see any of us. Or does she?

We should be fine. Shine jumped up into a branch above my head. Dean is behind a wall of vine and I had just enough time to dive behind the roots of a Buttress tree. Theyโ€™re big things, sticking out of the ground, Iโ€™m crouching behind them when I see the diversion. Deanโ€™s foot falls in front of the vines for barely a second before he lifts it back but she sees it. Grinning widely she moves towards the vines and lifts her spear, ready to throw.

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