Chapter Twenty-One

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**Celestia**

"It's Marco and Violet, isn't it?" Bryony says quietly. They are closer now, and we can see Marco's gorgeous face and Violet's pinched one. Which means they must be able to see us, as well.

I nod. "Bryony, get your weapons ready. We are going to have to fight." I lift my knife. I don't know what I would have done in these Games without it. At my side, Bryony takes a bow and some arrows.

"Should I try and shoot it? While they are still quite far away?" she asks uncertainly.

"Go ahead. It's worth a try."

She slips an arrow into the bow and pulled the string back. I see her brows furrow in concentration and then she releases it, and the arrow goes whistling through the air, landing right by the Careers' feet.

I breathe out through my teeth. If only Grace was still with us.

There is a moment of silence. The only sound is the horrendous downpour of acid rain, still going strong outside, and the clatter of Marco and Violet's feet pounding against the floor.

"Good luck Bryony," I tell her.

"May the odds be ever in your favour," she replies. I crack a weak smile, and reach out to hold her hand.

"Together?"

"Together."

~~Bryony~~

When they reach us, they waste no time talking. They sprint straight towards us headfirst. Marco holds a sword in one hand and the huge umbrella in the other, and Violet is holding a mace, cruel and deadly.

"You...are going...to pay," Violet pants. I can see the hatred in her eyes. This goes beyond me just stealing her supplies. This is something else, something deeper. She wants to kill me.

Celestia straightens next to me. "I'm not going to let that happen."

I look at her gratefully. She nods at me.

I aim again with the bow and arrow. In such close quarters, it is pointless. I drop it on the floor and pick up a knife, which has been scattered in our quick scramble to prepare for the fight.

I rush for Violet. She glances quickly at Marco and they exchange some sort of silent conversation, before Marco drops the umbrella to the floor with a loud clatter and runs towards Celestia. We leap into fight.

I know Violet has the upperhand in so many ways - skill, patience, accuracy - but I fight like I have never fought before, trying to push back her attacks and dodging her mace, my gymnastics and flexibility helping to some extent.

I try and jab with the knife, but she is as good at dodging as I am. We dance around each other, almost synchronised, like we had rehearsed it.

I glance over at Celestia, see how she is doing. Both her and Marco's faces are locked in concentration. In this brief lapse of concentration Violet pushes me to the floor.

I yell out. She brings the mace closer and drags it across my skin. Fire rips through my flesh, and I scream.

**Celestia**

I hear Bryony's scream, but I don't look over. I can't get distracted. I focus all of my being into overcoming Marco's attacks.

But Bryony's scream keeps going. I can't stand hearing her in such pain.

And then it cuts out. A cannon sounds. I see spots emerging in my vision. No.

No, no, she can't be dead. No.

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