Betrayal. That’s my first thought after reading the letter. Betrayed. That’s how I feel. I’m not in shock, nor am I angry or hurt. I just feel betrayed.
The anger follows immediately though. In less than ten minutes, I’m already out of my house and standing on Cato’s doorstep. I discover that none of the Odairs are home. The huge, massive building that they call a house is empty, so I head to their garden instead. There I find Cato Odair himself; he’s sitting on the white, marble bench, and doesn’t seem to notice my presence.
I’m about to yell at him, but then he meets my gaze, and his expression stops me. He looks like someone just died. My heart stops for one second as I realize that only one thing can have caused this pain in him. My worst fears are confirmed when he holds up the tiny, crumpled piece of paper. Cato has also received the letter.
My knees fail and I drop to the ground, my whole body trembling, my heart threatening to jump out of my chest. “How,” I whisper, mostly to myself.
He’s next to me instantly. “I’m sorry, Runa,” he cries as he tries to embrace me, but I push him away. I pull the letter out of his hands, and start to read it. Somehow, I still can’t believe that Cato Odair is now a contender to the Odium games.
You have been chosen for the honor of representing the great Ophella in this year’s Games. You will participate in the annual training sessions, and live with the other contestants the next month until the Games begin.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
Ophella, Demetrios and Grim
So it’s true then. Runa Avelynne and Cato Odair are officially representing Ophella in the Odium Games. I still can’t believe how this could happen. They say that the reaping is randomly, that everyone has a fair chance to be chosen as an Odium Games contender. But I know better; the contestants have never been selected randomly. There are three persons that chose which teenagers that will participate in the games each year; President Mara from Demetrios, President Juleigh from Grim… and President Odair from Ophella. President Odair, aka Cato’s father. Because Cato’s father is the president of our city, Cato has never had to worry about being chosen. And because I am Cato’s very best friend, I never had to either.
“How?” I repeat over and over again. I shoot a glance at Cato, and next thing I know, I’m standing there yelling at him: “You promised! You said we were safe, you said we had nothing to worry about! You promised me, Cato!”
He starts sobbing again, and he too falls to the ground. I have never seen him like this before, he seems so vulnerable and out of control.
“Shut up!” I scream. “Shut up, and tell me what the hell has happened right now!”
It takes nearly an hour to calm him down, but when he eventually does, he looks at me with bloodshot eyes. “They planned it,” he whispers to me.
“They planned it, Runa. The reaping this year. They planned that the children of the city’s presidents was going to be the contenders to the Games this year.” He looks at me fiercely, and grabs my arms while he shakes me violently. “They planned it all along,” he cries.
“Who?” I demand.
“My father,” says Cato with a pained expression. “And the other presidents. They have planned it all along, we were never safe, Runa!”