I hadn't the slightest of ideas as to what would be waiting outside the door, but I knew I had done the best I could to prepare for it. Whether it would be some unimaginable horror or a defenseless child, I was confident I had increased my survival chances to the maximum. However, that might have been my own pride talking. In truth, I knew I was horribly under supplied for facing anything the Anti-spiral could throw, should he want to. 

It brought to mind the question I had once more: Why was I alive?

I shook the question and focused on the calmly opening door, watching for anything that might pop out. I was trying not to be shaken by anything I might see, but it wasn't easy when the... hallway?.. became clear. I wasn't sure what exactly to call the corridor made of swirling purple and black energy. As the door came further opened, I looked for a presence - or anything aside from the energy that made up the area - but found none. There was, however, a door at the end of the hallway. 

"Another door?" Nia asked, though not to anyone in particular. "How peculiar."

I nodded in agreement. "I'm not sure if this... energy... is dangerous or not," I told Nia honestly as the door finished it's movement. "Stay back with Guame until I verify the safety, please." 

Nia nodded, sending her brown hair swinging back and forth ever so slightly. "Understood."

Cute. I shook my head of the thought and took a step forward tentatively. 

At first, there was a tingling sensation as my foot came to a stop on the 'floor' of the hallway, as if it hadn't been sure if it should have. I found it odd, but pulled my other foot forward to be even with the first. The same sensation passed over it, though I wasn't looking at that. No, I was observing the energy. It seemed to... stir where my feet were. It was slight, so slight that I might not have noticed if I wasn't observing it sharply, but definitely present. 

Could the Anti-spiral have made a kind of dense energy that defied the laws of physics? Either that or this was some sort of illusion. I wasn't sure, in all honesty, so I stored the information and theories in the back of my brain and turned to motion Nia and Guame into the hallway.

"It seems safe," I told her. 

Carefully, Nia took a step onto the floor - after I had moved a few steps down, of course - and then came into the hallway with me. I wasn't focused on that, though. Instead, I noted her Spiral power being... I wasn't sure if I was right, but I could have swore it was shying away from the floor. It even left her feet uncovered and retreated to her ankles. But, at the same time it fell back, it pushed forward. It reminded me of the feeling I had when the Anti-spiral had brought me to the room with his strange powers. 

But, I concluded, it was another thing I wasn't able to confirm without understanding more of this Spiral Energy and the strange purple and black energy that the Anti-spirals had created. So, with Nia behind me, I moved toward the other door.

This one held a man in a chair, who reminded me of a drunk that had been kicked out of a city. Except drunks didn't own a long coat made from what looked like silk, with equally nice pants and boots. But, like this man, they did hold a bottle of something even I was familiar with: Whiskey. 

I only glanced over these, however, as I focused on something far more familiar to me, being the massive hunting knife in the man's hands. 

"So you're the Tributes, huh?" he said, glancing at both of my hands and then to Nia, who stood behind me. "Nice to know I got some talent this year. Let's hope you actually stay alive for the first minute." 

As the man took a rather hefty drink from his bottle, I considered attacking him. But, I knew better than that. I knew all too well. He may have been somewhat affected by the alcohol, but his posture and the large knife screamed his readiness to kill any moment if given the chance. I also noted the faint Spiral Power surrounding the knife, making my mind explode with possibilities that I tucked away to focus on this man.

"Sir Thymilph!"

I glanced back at Nia. "You know him?"

The man - Thymilph - brushed his long hair from his face and belched. "So, I take it you're from a City, little girl?" 

Nia nodded to the man. "Yes, sir." She turned toward me before continuing. "This is the man I told you about. The victor from a few years ago. He is Haymitch Thymilph."

The drunk made a mocking half-bow from his chair, to which I returned, though not taking my eyes off of him. "I suppose you are the one who will 'prepare' us?"

The man nodded. "That's right." He stood and sheathed the knife in his belt. "Put away your knives, kid. I'm not who you have to worry about." Haymitch paused for a moment to stare at me. "And hide your Spiral Power, too. I can FEEL it from here. Trying to show off?"

I stared at the man in kind. What had he said? "You can see it?" I asked him.

He snorted and took a sip from his drink before replying. "Everyone and their mother can see it," he shot at me. "And, if you don't suppress it, everyone's gonna be looking at you during the Games."

I put my knives into the folds of my bandages, careful not to cut myself. "My apologies, but I didn't know what it WAS until a few hours ago."

"Shit. We got a lot of work, then..." Haymitch turned and placed his hand on the bare wall behind his chair. Immediately, the wall glowed and gave way to a large and empty white room. "Let's start with the basics: How not to die due to idiocy."

Nia and I followed the drinking man into the room, driven by curiosity and politeness.

The End

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