Chapter Thirty Six: Ravens aren't built for Swimming
Word Count: 1997
Waking up inside the hollowed shell of a building where he'd spent the night Silas was quick to guage his surroundings. None of the wires around him had been tripped. No sounds from outside and he was still out of viewing sites of any would be snipers. Running into the Rat man had made him more paranoid than he should be, he'd thought he was alone in this space for at least another two days. He'd been wrong and it had nearly cost him his life. It wasn't going to be a mistake he made again. Sheathing one of his throwing knives, that he'd held in his hand since falling asleep, Silas's clumsily sleep addled body brushed against the black box that was his prize for First Blood. He'd been so determined to get out of the streets when he learnt Rory's direction that he'd never even opened it and by the time he'd reached the ghost city's edge he'd been so exhausted he just set his traps and went to sleep. Stroking the black box he wondered what could be contained within it. Only one way to find out.
Pressing the small button on its lid the box cracked open cleanly, opening it up he found only a scrap of paper...What...picking up the folded rectangle a golden locket was revealed beneath it. About the size of a birds egg with finely detailed tribal patterns across its surface it had a chain of brushed titanium wound around inside the box, across a piece of baby blue fabric Silas instantly realised was a part of Eliza's favourite (and only) dress. Confusion and worry ripping through his he unfolded the letter, it was just two lines in a fine elegant hand. 'I forgot what I fought for...don't you do the same. OS.' He read it over and over again until the realisation struck his slowly awakening brain. 'Odin Stronghammer...' picking up the locket Silas let the warmth of the gold seep into his skin, cracking it open two incredibly beautiful miniature portraits sat in the lockets windows. One of Rory, high cheekbones and smiling that wicked grin, and one of Eliza. Sweet and innocent with a gentle smile on her face. Smiling at both the pictures Silas must have stared at each of them for about ten minutes each, the detail was unnaturally real and the cost of something like this must have been immense.
'Thank you Old timer.' Silas said to thin air. Kissing both pictures he closed the locket and hung it around his neck and took the strap of cloth from Eliza's dress and tied it into his hair beneath Rory's piece. The day passed quickly after that. He jogged at a steady pace through the streets, skidding over car bonnets and ducking behind cover every time he thought he saw movement. But it was always nothing. With the sun at his back the jogging became harder and harder as the hours passed and he knew it was only going to get worse the higher the sun rose, he needed to find water. And quickly. Turning a corner Silas froze. That can't be what I think it is...yet, it was there. In front of him. Walking slowly out the buildings fell away behind him as he moved out onto a sandy beach that seemed to stretch on endlessly around the shore of the crumbling cityscape. And in front of him. An ocean. Flat. Still as a frozen lake. Deep blue. And seemingly endless. 'That's an ocean...' he said aloud to himself. 'I don't remember the ocean area being so close to the urban on that map they showed us...' Picturing it now Silas could see the urban sector at the top of the map...it should be the cavern sector next. Had he come the wrong way?
No he couldn't of done. He still had his makeshift compass, it still pointed in the same direction whenever he checked it...this Arena was a lot more dangerous than it first appeared. It didn't matter! He needed to get to Rory fast! I always hated swimming. Walking into the ocean Silas quickly realised it dropped away at a much greater degree than it should do, he was only a few feet out an already his feet couldn't touch the bottom. 'Swim or die Silas. It's that simple!' he said to himself between great mouthfuls of water that was so salty it was almost acidic. So he swam. Angling himself in the rough direction of Rory he front crawled through the waters of this fake ocean, occasionally stopping to look around at his surroundings for any spits of land or boats or floating equipment packs. Anything he could use. But there was nothing. Just the flat blue ocean. Glancing back Silas could just make out the dusty shapes of the runied skycrapers on the horizon, he'd come a far way. But still more was laid out before him. The further he went the more his shoulders and legs burned and although the water wasn't cold it was so salty that the particles almost rubbed against his skin. Making his face and hands almost red raw and the more he swam the more the salt seeped into his cuts and the more it stung.
And as paranoid as it sounded...he felt like something was following him. Sometimes he was sure he could see a grey shape move beneath the waves he created, but every time he dunked his head under and looked he saw nothing but a bottomless pit of blue. Looking up at the noonday sun beating down on him as a cannon fired his heart stopped, every blast had him on edge, but once again it wasn't Rory. A gingerhaired man had beat a tanned competitor from District Eleven to death with a club. Breathing a sigh of relief Silas remembered seeing the video of her shooting that girl, the way the crossbow bolt passed so cleanly through the air, and Rory's shaking hands. He'd seen that before.
A hand grabbed his ankle. Pulling him under.
With enough time to only take one strangled breath before being pulled under Silas kicked out, but whoever had grabbed him had vanished. Breaching the surface he just opened his mouth when it grabbed him again. Yanking him beneath the surface with a mouthful of saltwater. It was definitely a person. Their hands grabbed his legs and pulled him further under, the refracted sun on the surface becoming nothing but a marble sized ball of light by the time the hands let him go. Swinging out at his attempted murderer Silas stuck them in the side of the head, knocking their goggles from their face. And something else as well. A mouth piece. Aqua lung! he screamed to himself reaching out for the tiny breathing device as it sunk with worrying speed through the salty depths. Diving after it with his lungs trying to tear out of his chest to reach air Silas grabbed the device, ejected the water in his mouth and quickly plugged the tiny machine over his mouth and between his teeth. Air flooded his lungs as he gasped. Revelling in the feeling of air! Sweet life giving air! He swore to himself that he'd never take it for granted again.
Forgetting completely that another competitor was trying to kill him Silas took several breaths before the lithe body of his opponent attached itself around his body like an octopus strangling its prey. Thin arms wrapped around his neck into a choke hold and long legs slithered around his torso, locking against each other into a death hold. Silas barely had time to process the irony at the fact that he could now breath but was being suffocated instead of drowned. Struggling against the weight of the water and the cast iron grip his opponent had around his neck Silas tried to reach for his knives, but even if he grabbed one he couldn't stab whoever it was drowning him without hurting himself. With his hands going numb from lack of oxygen he did the only thing he could. Spitting out his aqua lung there was a brief break in the strangle hold as his opposition reached out for the only oxygen supply. It was all he needed. Breaking free he spun, sending the sharp point of his elbow into their ribs, breaking several which sent a muted scream from their mouth along with several huge bubbles. Ducking their arms Silas reached out and grabbed the aqua lung but the bottle broke off in his hand.
Bubbles of precious oxygen screeched out of its small opening. Slamming the tiny tank into his mouth he held it between his teeth and did his best to make an air tight seal around it with his lips. Gulping down the last of the bottles air he had just enough to remain conscious. Although his movements were incredibly sluggish in the water he was still fast enough to reach down to his belt and unclip a throwing knife from their sheath. Slashing the glinting blade down across the legs that were still locked around his waist it sliced through their rubber like clothing and flesh in a single clean stroke. Blood pouring from the wound into the water. Mixing together into a strange column of redness in a sea of blue. With another scream his oppenent released their hold, that was enough. Spinning quickly Silas grabbed them and thrust the blade into their stomach. He froze when he saw their face...it was a woman. No older than himself. Her face a blurry mixture of agony as she screamed silently, right when she was about to inhale a lungful of water Silas ripped the knife across her stomach. Killing her instantly. Her deep oily black eyes glazed over as she gazed at him.
He saw the light fade from them. He saw her soul leave its body. And as she exhaled her last breath Silas pulled his blade free and dropped her body. Leaving it in the embrace of the ocean.
He needed to breathe! Oxygen ran through his veins as much as carbon dioxide. Kicking towards the surface he followed the golden marble of the sun. Until it became a thrash ball. Then finally he broke the surface. Gasping sweet underestimated air Silas heard the cannon fire above his head. Then his image appeared on the screen, two bodies locked beneath the waves until he spun. Knife blade thrust up beneath her ribs. Looking around him Silas noticed his scenery had changed. He was in the middle of a lagoon. Rocky cliffs surrounded him in a massive arc with deep green trees sitting on their tops, a small waterfall rolling over the cliff into the lagoon. 'Where the hell am I now!' he rumbled swimming towards the shore. Pulling himself onto the pebbled beach Silas laid on the uneven rocks, panting, bruised, tired and half drowned. 'This Arena changes.' he realised. 'Nobody ever said all the areas stay in the same place...' looking around this one looked like the tropical sector. Great, he thought. Bugs, humid and jungles. Just what I need. Eyes crusted with salt particles Silas looked around the lagoon and saw in the shallows, beneath the waterfall, a black lump. Is that a bag?
Army crawling over towards it Silas drank from beneath the freshwater waterfall before grabbing the bag and opening it by the shore. Inside he saw a real compass, a foot long combat knife, a whip and a med kit containing two health shards and bandages. 'Thing's might just be looking up for you Silas.' he said to himself. By his logic he'd passed through three areas. Now he was about the third of the way to Rory...if she stayed in the same place. If she didn't...'She will.' he told himself. 'She will.'