It took a very long time for the maintenance crew to clean up my mess. They had to flatten the ground first and then burn Muta’s body. With all the foliage sprouting out of her, it was easy to burn her quickly. After a while, they quickly made the arena ready for the next battle.
Once the new contestants made it to the lines, I notice it was Hera and Sylo. I knew that this battle would be a quick one. Hera didn’t seem to have a whole lot of hand to hand combat skills.
While I was in my own self wallowing thoughts, I watched as Sylo destroyed Hera. Without her air ability, Hera was basically useless. He had a big build and a strong arm, he restrained her quickly and then proceeded to beat to poor girl to the ground. I could barely watch since I had my fill of gory deaths today. Once Sylo confirmed her death, he walked away without looking back.
After witnessing such a sight, it was more of a reason why I didn’t want to face him in the next round. For the second round of the Game of Life, only two battles would happen per day until all contestants have been in the arena twice.
Now that two of my opponents are gone, I need to evaluate my next strategy. From what I could see, the elders are pairing the Gifted against people they are weakest against. They are rigging the games to get the most well rounded and strongest finalists.
The elders watched us train all of our lives and know our strengths and weaknesses. They don’t tell the trainers all the Gifted’s abilities. So they don’t know what will be thrown our way until the first week of battles is done with.
I had a feeling the Elders knew that Hera only relied on her ability, which was clear. So, they paired her with Sylo, who took those abilities away. She had nothing once she stepped in that arena, Hera was doomed from the start.
Of course, it was up in the air who would win my battle. Between Muta and I, we were fierce warriors. Even though I only ever seen her shift into different animals, she could have easily killed me as the Elders wanted. Except the Elders didn’t realize all my power and didn’t warn Muta not to eat sunflower seeds before the fight. It doesn’t take a genius to know that the Elders want me to be dead as soon as possible. They will rig the Game of Life to make sure I don’t win.
I was pulled from my troublesome thoughts to the sound of the door opening. My guards dragged me back to my bedroom. I had a few scrapes from the jagged rocks I created while running around but not worse for wear.
Once my door opened, I was greeted once again by the Elders, with Kakios standing the middle with an expression on his face I couldn’t decipher. “Congratulations again, Gaia. You managed to make it through the second round. I hope you can do it again in the next one. It is coming up soon.”
I stood there with my arms crossed and an unamused face. I did not want to deal with them today.
“When did you learn how to do that? Make flowers grow out of people.” One elder asked timidly. I stared her down and realized that she didn’t seem to be like to other elders that stared at me with contempt.
I uncrossed my arms and answered her question, trying to hide my distaste for them. “I can make plants grow, even in the most inhabitable places. I didn’t know that included people until I tried it.”
I didn’t want to give them much of an explanation. I needed the Elders to leave and quickly. Elder Kakios only grunted in response and motioned for the rest to take their leave. They could not leave my room fast enough.
Once the door was shut, I immediately began to strip to lay down on my floor like I usually do. I wanted the comfort of the earth around me, but I won’t get that luxury after another day. I could break the warding in my room since I know I can do it, but the guards might run in and try to stop me. Of course, there is a chance that they wouldn’t.
I stumble over to my bed and crawl under it. After living in this room all my life, I know where the invisible signs are in the walls. Luckily the walls are made of rock and stone, so it makes things easier. I placed my hand on the wall that my bed was up against. Focusing on this small portion and forced it to break. The room didn’t shake, neither did the walls, but I could hear the cracking sounds in the wall. The warding was breaking.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, a crack in the wall appeared. Instantly I could feel more of the earth. I could break more, but it would be very noticeable for the magistrate. To not push my luck, I stopped with the one symbol.
I crawled out from the bed and laid down on my back, staring at the ceiling. Placing my palms flat on the ground, gingerly spreading my ability around me, surrounding myself in the warmth of the life hidden in the rock. It is calming, so I let my thoughts run.
This could have been a bad thing, but Alec told me once that if something is bothering you, it will consume your mind and heart until you go mad. He taught me how to go through my feelings and thoughts so that I can function better. It also helps in controlling my ability. If my emotions were all over the place, then this entire magistrate would have fallen a long time ago.
I let all my memories come flooding back about Alec, only the good ones. I have properly mourned him, and I needed to move on to survive the next round. Being sad all the time won’t get me anywhere. I have learned that the amount of time you mourn does not equal how much you love them. Alec told me that. Maybe he was preparing me for his untimely demise.
Alec lost all his family, his kids, everything in a war, and the elders even said he was a great warrior. He said that if he didn’t pick himself up after their death, he would have died in battle.
Then I let my mind drift to the two women I killed in the arena. Aura’s face and her mangled body haunt my dreams sometimes. Now I will be graced by Muta’s face in my nightmares. How her body looked with the bouquet of flowers that exploded out of her stomach.
A stray tear dripped from my eyelid and rolled down the side of my face. I wish life didn’t have to be like this. After what seemed like hours reflecting, my mind wandered to the voice that spoke to me. I haven’t heard them again, and I didn’t know if I wanted to. The sound terrified me in a way that made it seem evil but also caring. If I wanted to know who it was, then I needed to figure out who knows of my plans after I win. I only ever kept it to myself.
Alec knew what I wanted to do, but he never believed me, and he certainly wouldn’t tell anyone else. There is only one person that could read minds, who could have possibly known, and that is Metis. He knows what people are thinking, maybe when I broke the warding, it gave him room to speak in my mind, that’s if he has that kind of extent to his ability. None of it made any sense.
“You overthink.” The voice drifted in.
It was quieter this time, but it was enough to make me jump out of my skin, making me sit up. I didn’t want to be messed with tonight. “Not now. I am not in the mood.” I replied. I laid back down on my back and felt myself melt into the floor, feeling the comfort of the earth surrounding me. I felt at peace until he decided to speak again.
“I’m sorry for making you continue the games and kill Muta, but she was the fiercest follower of the magistrate. Having her gone makes the plan easier to execute.” The mystery man continued. I didn’t want to hear his apologies; I wanted him to answer questions. I knew he wouldn’t since he liked to be cryptic, but I had to try. “Are you going to tell me who you are, or are you going to dodge the question?” I asked.
I heard a small chuckle, and it was enough to make my skin crawl. “What fun would that be? I will just say this. In the next battle, I will need you to break the warding in your viewing room so that we can talk while I am in the arena. You will know who I am then. Good luck, Gaia.” Then the deep dark voice officially disappeared—much to my relief.
After a long while, I finally willed myself off the floor to go to bed in my naked form. Oh, how I wish I could be like this all the time. Tomorrow is a new day and my day off, which means I get to be in my room, alone with no one to talk to. I can strategize what I need to do in the next round. I had no idea what would happen in the upcoming battle or who would win, but I needed to be prepared. All the competitors will be tough to beat.