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ambulance : eilsey
story/set #3
The Tribute Train
for previous story and more information click here:

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It seemed like hours had crawled by since I had first been lead from the reaping stage into the bowels of the city hall building. I had never personally been inside the structure before, but I had always admired it as the prettiest building in the district. Though now under these circumstances the antique feel of the rooms, and dark glow of the halls gave off a sinister vibe. The peacekeepers had taken me to a large parlor room, where I was imprisoned alone. The seating was upholstered with fine silk adorned with thick floral patterns. The tables, and serving carts were made of rich dark wood, and accented with gold trinkets. There were two large mirrors that were encased in the arms of marble cupids, and olive vines. The entire atmosphere of the room was beginning to make me sick, and the long period of silence was allowing the dark thoughts of my mind to bore holes in my psyche. I tried my best to be brave, but all I could think of was Bernd, my family, and my imminent demise. 

Suddenly the silence and my thoughts were broken when I heard the large double doors creak open. A single peacekeeper entered.

“It is time for your final visitation, you have one hour.” The man stated, opening the door to reveal my parents. 

My mother ran to me, and as her arms wrapped around my frame we both sank to the floor.

“It will be alright will be alright.” She simply kept whispering this fruitless message over and over again as she stroked my hair. 

I felt warm, and I felt safe. That is until my father suddenly struck his hand hard against the oak table. 

“She is not a baby Amalthea.” He cringed, his voice stern. He took his hand and lifted my mother up by her right arm.

“But Astor, I...” My mother stammered.

“If she has any hope of survival she must begin preparing now.” My father stated.

He turned to me, eyes dark. His face was hard, but I could see behind his eyes he was struggling. I knew also he was not trying to be cruel, he was trying to save me.

“Come here.” My father sighed, taking a seat on the large sofa. 

My mother sat at the dining table, sobbing.

I walked over, and took a seat next to my father. Trying my best to wipe the tears from my face.

“Ariadne listen to me, and listen well. Cry now if you must because after this to do so would only harm you, you cannot afford to look weak. Remember who you are, the line you come from. You are strong, and so is the blood in your veins. For heaven's sake you have been guarding the herd, and fighting off predators on your own since your youth. I have seen the way you defend the sheep, you have such fire in your eyes and bravery in your heart. This is no different.” My father took my hand, his dark eyes searing my soul. 

“Father, this is not the same.” I breathed.

“Shush child.” My father interjected. “It is no different, and to prove it to you I brought this.”

My father reached into his satchel and pulled out a small tuft of fur. I recognized it immediately. It was my lucky charm, a piece of pelt from the first wolf I had killed. I had only been thirteen, and I was on my first herding shift alone. On the third day a small pack of wolves had surrounded the herd, with only my knife and staff I had taken on the alpha and won; causing the pack to disband. From that day on I took the small piece of pelt with me on ever herding trip, to remind my-self that no beast could defeat me. 

“Take this and wear it always. Let it remind you of your bravery against the beasts, and that these other tributes are no better than a pack of wolves. Your mother, Bernd, and I are the herd; to come back to us you must defeat your enemies.” My father placed the small pelt over my right shoulder, the thick hide instantly lifted my spirits. For the first time today I felt a sense of empowerment. 

For the rest of our half hour together my father and I consoled mother, and mostly sat in silence. When my parents were escorted out, Bernd was lead in. He immediately took me in his arms. 

“Promise me one thing now, you will come home to me; and when you do you will be my wife.” Bernd nestled his face deep in my dark hair. 

My hand clenched the thin fabric of his shirt. I loved him, but we had to be realistic.

“I promise, if by some miracle I win, I will walk down the aisle with you. However we need to talk realistically for a second. If I do die, which is very possible, I need to know you will show fortitude enough to move on with your life.” I looked up at him, his usually strong eyes were coated with tears struggling to break free. 

“Don't say such things, you are going to come home. You are the strongest person I know, and the bravest. You will have to.” He only held me tighter.

I realized talking sensibly was not going to happen. So we simple held each other until it was time to part. Bern struggled slightly as the peacekeepers lead him away, and I instructed him to watch out for my parents, and help them whenever he could. 

Once Bernd was gone, the Peacekeepers instructed me it was time to make our way to the tribute train. 

I followed slowly, and was soon joined by the familiar blonde haired boy from the ceremony. He still looked calm as ever. I knew little about him, only his name was Enid Brisby and that he was orphaned. Also that he did not attend school, and lived on his own in the eastern woods. He did odd jobs from time to time in town, making a few coins. Quiet, mysterious, and a loner – a deadly opponent. Who knows maybe he would be the one to kill me.

“How were your visitations?” He asked, quite abruptly. His question caught me off guard. 

“They were fine, thank you.” I stated, “What about yours?”

“Didn't have any.” He turned to me, smiling slightly.

A cart took us to the train station, only a few blocks down from the city hall building. A small group of people had gathered around the station, gawking in silence. I tried my best not to look at them. Enid and I were lead onto the train, it was my first time on one. 

The large carts were impressive. Twice as luxurious as the city hall chambers. Rich mahogany panels accented the floors, gold tables, scarlet chairs, velvet curtains, and fine trinkets adorned the interior. To think such luxury existed but could not be shared with all the districts. We were each lead to our rooms, which were as finely decorated as the rest of the train. An avox girl quickly finished cleaning, and exited leaving me alone. A single note on my bed instructed me to shower, dress nicely from the provided wardrobe, and be prompt for dinner at half past four, signed H. Laurel.

The shower was a unique experience, since we only had a tub in the house. A few of the nozzles containing scented oils threw me off, but overall it was a relaxing endeavor. Once clean, I sorted through the closet of fine clothing. All made from lush fabrics I did not even know existed. Once dressed I made my way down to the dining cart. 

It was empty except for a center table. Seated there were Enid, Hesperia, and the district 10 mentor Chiron White. I had never personally met him, but I had seen him around town, and at reapings. He was ruggedly handsome, and from what I had heard a charming man. 

“Oh lovely, you look even prettier than you did at the reaping.” Hesperia smiled as I took a seat next to Enid. 

“You must be Ariadne, my name is Chiron.” Chiron placed out his hand, and I took it. His palms were stiff from long days of hard work, and his grip felt strong. “I am sorry we must meet under such dire circumstances, but I will try my best to help you.”

“Oh Chiron, you are so charitable.” Hesperia played with her hair, giggling. However Chiron seemed oblivious to her flirtations. 

Over a luxurious dinner, Chiron got mine and Enid's full history. He seemed very encouraged by my skills from shepherding, especially combat abilities. Chiron was also enthused by Enid's strength, survival skills, and unique demeanor. 

“You guys are the most promising tributes I have had since becoming a mentor, and to think you were both drawn together. I know you guys have had a long day we will talk more tomorrow before we reach the capitol in the early evening.” Chiron instructed. 

“Yes so do not dawdle tonight, you need to be rested for your big day tomorrow.” Hesperia chimed.

With that we went our separate ways. I was on my way to my room, when I felt a presence behind me.

“Ariadne, I thought we should talk.” Enid had managed to creep on me, no one had ever been able to do that. Considering he was technically an enemy made it unsettling. 

“Um...alright.” I stumbled, as we headed into a secluded parlor cart. 

We took a seat on the plush sofas, the pre-dusk light glowing through the windows. 

“I know we don't really know one another, and we have been thrown together by fate under unfortunate circumstances. However I think it would be in our best interest to form some sort of alliance.” Enid stated, quite bluntly.

I was taken aback. He was frank, but did he think I was just some stupid little girl.

“Enid this is a fight to the death, alliances can only help for so long. Also how do I know you won't stab me in the back...literally.” I cocked my brow.

“I understand your hesitation but think about. The careers almost always make it to the end because they rally together. We are stronger together than apart. We each have skills the other does not. As for what happens in the end, we will cross that bridge when it comes.” Enid stood up, and stared out the window. 

I had grown accustomed to detecting the intent behind the eyes of a predator. As a herder you come face to face with them regularly. I searched Enid's face, and specifically his eyes. Searching for that primal deception. However his face was calm, relaxed, and I actually found the blue of his eyes quite beautiful; like the blue daisies my mother used to pick in spring. I suddenly shook these odd thoughts from my head, thoughts like these were dangerous. However Enid did have a good point, and even though I could not read any trace of malice I thought my-self able enough to safe guard in the scenario he did double cross me. 

“Very well.” I stated, standing up.

“Good, I will tell Chiron tomorrow at breakfast.” Enid smiled.

“Well, goodnight.” I nodded my head before heading back out to the hall.

My bedroom was a welcomed sight, I realized I had been awake for over twelve hours now. I needed to get as much rest as possible from here on out. I quickly undressed, the rich fabrics were beginning to feel heavy. I found a thin cotton night-gown and I eagerly threw it on. I turned off all the lights except for one single lantern by the window. I kept the curtains open, so I could watch the evening scenery whisk by, the rumble of the train and blur of the stars managed to temporarily numb my thoughts and lull me to sleep. However my fears and dark thoughts seem still to find me, haunting my dreams. 

I awoke late, having struggled with a restless sleep. The sun appeared to have been up at least a solid two hours. Thin rays crawled up my sheets, dancing over my face. For a few seconds I had forgotten where I was, and the events of the previous day. However it all soon came rushing back to me. 

I quickly shook off the groggy haze of slumber, and got ready for the big day ahead of me. After a quick shower, and wardrobe change I headed to the dining cart. At the same center table as yesterday sat Hesperia, Chiron, and Enid. It appeared as if they had finished breakfast an were waiting on me. Enid was sitting silently, sketching something in a small journal. Chiron sat sipping coffee as he read the newspaper, Hesperia prattling onto him as if he were listening. They all perked up as I joined them.

“Good you're here, so Enid brought me up to speed on the discussion you two had yesterday. So as of now we will train you together, if you wish to change that arrangement at any time let me know.” Chiron folded his arms.
“As for our arrival to the capitol, we will be hitting the station around half past five. I will have outfits sent to your rooms around four, and an avox to help you prepare. The capitol is unlike anything you have ever experienced, and I want you to start making an impression the minute you step off this train. Do not disappoint me.” Hesperia raised her brow as she sipped her tea.

“Speaking of, the capitol may seem beautiful and awe inspiring but remember what it represents. Do not let yourselves get lost in it, remember who you are. You are in as much danger losing your soul to its corruption as your lives to the games.” Chiron leaned forward, staring intently.

Hesperia seemed to ignore his comment, as she picked at a plate of brightly colored macaroons. 

I took Chiron's words to heart, and did my best to enjoy my breakfast. A serving of thick white bread, cinnamon butter, eggs, pork sausage, spice soup, and the richest coffee I had ever tasted was enough to sooth my nerves for now. 

After eating Hesperia left us, and Chiron explained the ins and outs of training, game rules, and what to expect once we reached the capitol.

“You will be treated like kings, but remember these same people who praise you will lead you to slaughter. You can enjoy the ride but do not lose your head.” Chiron warned.

“Point taken.” Enid smirked, playing with a steak knife on the table. 

Suddenly Chiron turned to me, “I know the reaping was emotional, and you have a lot at stake. I need it to motivate it you, not break you down.”

“Yes, you don't need to worry about me.” I smiled slightly.

“Good.” Chiron leaned back in his chair.

Afternoon was soon approaching, so Enid and I headed back to our rooms to get ready for our arrival into the capitol.

“I think one of us has a chance you know.” Enid stopped me just outside my door.

“That's rather optimistic of you.” I sighed.

“Maybe its my young heart.” Enid clasped his chest sarcastically.

For someone I had thought so mysterious he was a big smart-ass. However it made him somewhat appealing, and his presence enjoyable. 

I entered my room, anxious for the next chapter of our journey.

--- ◆ Ω ◆ ---

figured i would start tagging you whenever i post a new story ;3
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