The Inazuma Games
Chapter Eight: Friends Forever
Aoi and I make our way through the forest, keeping our eyes and ears open for other tributes.
''Where could Tenma be?'' I ask.
''Tenma likes high places. Knowing him, he probably went up a high hill or mountain or something.''
''So, where could that be?''
''There's a high hill with a deep valley underneath it a few hours away from here. Let's check it out.''
I nod and follow Aoi through the green rain forest. On our way, we drink some water from a small river and wash our faces.
''Aoi, are you in love with Tenma?'' I ask.
Aoi looks at me and then starts to laugh.
''No, I'm not. But I DO care for him deeply. We've grown up together. Whatever we did, we did it together. We shared everything, from food to secrets. We're true soul mates. And we'll always be.''
''That's such a wonderful story.''
Aoi smiles too. We continue our stroll.
''Do you know how to walk?'' I ask.
''Yeah, I walked here before.''
In four hours, in the afternoon, we reach the high hill, covered with green grass and a couple of trees here and there.
''Tenma?'' Aoi calls out.
A few rustles are heard and then, a camouflaged Tenma pops up.
''Aoi?'' He asks happy.
Aoi smiles and runs towards him, giving him a tight hug.
''Thank goodness, you're okay!''
''I set up a few traps for tributes around this hill.''
My eyes widen.
''Then we're lucky we didn't step in anything.''
''That's because of me. Tenma always places three twigs next to each other to indicate that a trap is set three meters away from it. I just dodged those twigs.''
''Smart!'' I reply.
''So, I see you brought Akane with you.''
''I saved her just on time. The Careers almost got her.''
I quickly explain the events that had happened a while ago with the Careers.
''I'm glad you two made it here at last. But how did you know I would be here?'' Tenma asks.
''Silly. I know you like high places. Here's the highest hill in the entire arena.''
''How do you know that?''
''I love to climb. I've climbed a tree all the way to the top. It gave me an excellent view of the entire arena.''
Tenma grins too.
''Aoi loves climbing. She's just like a monkey.''
Aoi puffs up her cheeks.
''I hope you mean that in the positive way.''
Tenma laughs and pecks her on her cheeks.
''Come on, I was just joking.''
Aoi laughs too. I smile. Seeing the two of them having fun makes me happy. Then, the thoughts of losing them both makes me sad. Aoi sees my expression and guesses what I'm thinking about.
''Hey, Akane. Don't worry about what I've told you earlier.'' She says with a smile.
I sigh, but nod. Tenma smiles.
''Now, come on. I heard a few tributes were close. Let's see if somebody falls into one of my traps.''
I slowly nod. I can't help but to feel guilty for taking a life like that. It's unbearable to end someone's life. I wonder how Tenma could do it without flinching or something like that. He must be mentally stronger than I thought.
''How many tributes are left in the arena?'' Aoi wonders out loud.
I count them on my fingers.
''The Careers are still alive, minus Yuuka, the girl from District 1. Furthermore, the boys from District 3,4 and 5 are also still alive. Then there's Taiyou from District 10, you two, me and Shindou.'' I say.
''Eleven tributes left.'' Tenma adds.
''So many deaths already…'' I say with a sigh.
I can't help but think about all the sad family's, who cry about their lost son or daughter. A knot forms in my stomach and I try to swallow the unpleasant feeling away. At that point, we hear some familiar voices. My eyes widen.
''Where could that girl have ran to?'' I recognize the voice of Midori, the girl from District 2.
''She can't be far. She was injured.'' I also hear the voice of Yukimura, the boy from District 1.
''The Careers.'' I hiss towards Aoi and Tenma.
They visibly flinch and we try to hide in the bushes. They pass us and I see Tenma grinning widely.
''Six… five…'' He whispers softly.
I frown and Aoi looks confused, but Tenma ignores us and continues to count.
''Four… three… two…''
Just when I want to ask what Tenma's doing, he reaches zero and suddenly, I hear a scream.
''Yukimura!'' I hear the voice of Tsurugi, the boy from District 2.
''Get me out of here!'' I hear the angry groan from Yukimura.
Tenma jumps up.
''Now!'' He shouts.
Before I know it, Aoi and Tenma dash towards the Careers and start a fight. Yukimura is tied up in a net high up a tree. He dropped his spear on the ground and can't break free. Midori and Tsurugi are too busy fighting Aoi and Tenma, so they can't help him. This is the perfect moment to finish off Yukimura. I'm surprised about my own thoughts. I don't want to kill somebody. So instead of killing Yukimura, I shout to Tenma to finish the job, while I start a fight with Midori. She lashes to me with one of her axes and it makes a cut in my right cheek. I flinch and take three steps backwards. Midori lungs at me again and I can quickly grab my knife in my belt to cut her in her hand. She screams and drops one of her axes. I quickly kick it as hard as I can and it flies off the hill, into the deep valley.
''My axe!'' Midori shouts shocked.
She growls angry at me and lungs at me with the other one. I try to dodge her attacks, while I shout at Tenma that he must hurry up. From my eye corner, I see Aoi having a hard time with Tsurugi. She's covered in bloody cuts and I know that her wounds are severe.
''Aoi!'' I shout for her.
''Don't worry. Just continue!'' She shouts back at me.
I quickly dodge an attack from Midori. At that point, the canon goes off and I see blood seeping on the ground from the net. I know Yukimura is gone.
''Shit!'' Tsurugi growls angry.
At that point, Tenma lungs at him and catches him off-guard. They end up in a struggle and see them approaching the end of the high hill.
''Watch out!'' I shout.
But it's too late. Tsurugi overpowers Tenma and gives him a hard push. Before anyone could do something, I see Tenma giving me and Aoi one last glance before falling off the hill into the valley. I know nobody could survive a fall that high.
''TENMA!'' Aoi shouts, her voice full with tears.
''That's enough! Let's head back!'' I hear Tsurugi instruct Midori.
The two of them disappear in the forest. I could chase them, but I want to stay behind with Aoi. I see her cry loudly on the spot. Her tears mingle with the blood on her cheeks. Then she stands up and smiles at me. I can see a clear view of all her cuts. They are everywhere and blood drips are all around her. I know she won't survive this and Aoi knows it too. Slowly, she takes small passes towards the top of the hill, while still facing me. She smiles.
''Thank you for everything, Akane. You're such a sweet girl. Promise me to live your life to the fullest. I-I'll never forget you.''
I see tears streaming down her face. I feel my own tears burning too.
''No, Aoi…'' I say.
''There were so many things I would've loved to do. Get married with my true love, get children, find an own house to live in.''
My tears run over my cheeks.
''Aoi, please… DON'T!'' I shout, tears troubling my voice.
''Akane… please win this games. Stay true to yourself. And don't forget us. We'll see you on the other side one day.''
''AOI NO!'' I shout again.
She stops at the top and gives me one last smile.
Then, she leans backwards and falls of the hill.
''NOOO!'' I shout on top of my voice, while falling onto my knees. ''AOI!''
I keep sobbing and sobbing, feeling all the pain and fear I created over the last period of time coming out of me. I curl up into a ball on the ground, not minding anything anymore. Go ahead. Come for me. Finish me off. I'm done with these games. Take my life. I'm done with this. I keep laying on the ground for hours and hours, not caring that I'm a vulnerable target for the other remaining tributes. It gets dark and I finally stop crying. My eyes sting and feel swollen from all the tears that I had let go. Finally, I feel how tired I actually am and feel myself craving for sleep. I try not to give in, because my consciousness is telling me to find a safe place to sleep. I crawl towards Tenma's hideout and let myself curl up into a ball there. I don't wait to see Aoi and Tenma's faces in the air on the projector. In less than a minute, sleep develops me and everything gets dark.
The next morning when I wake up, I instantly feel sad.
''Now I'm all alone again.'' I whisper.
I stand up and brush the dirt off my clothes. I feel my stomach rumble and eat some of the meat of the baby lynxes I caught. After filling my stomach, I know my next goal is to find the remaining tributes and end these games. I have to get rid of everyone… including Shindou. When his name shots through my head, my stomach feels weird and warm, while at the same time I start to feel angry. But still, I can't keep his face out of my mind. His warm brown eyes and nice smell. The way he says my name. The way how he tried to warn me. And now, he's missing. He's not with the Careers anymore. Where are you, Shindou? At that moment, I hear some cracks and then, a voice emerges out of nowhere and fills the arena.
''Attention, please. I want to congratulate the eight remaining tributes in the arena. There has been made a change in the rules. From now on, there can be two victors, if they are from the same district. Happy hunting and may the odds be ever in your favor.''
It takes some time before the words make sense to me. Two victors… same district… Wait! If the remaining two people are from the same district, both can live. At that point, one single name shots through my mouth and I shout it out.
I've been walking and jogging for the last three hours now, desperately on the lookout for my district partner.
''Shindou!'' I keep shouting every ten seconds.
He has to be somewhere! Damn it, where are you?!
I approach a river and slow down a bit. I take the time to refill my water bottle and drink hastily from it. I'm about to lose hope on finding Shindou.
''The arena is so big. He could be anywhere. Shindou… please… Where are you?'' I whisper towards myself.
I feel tears burning and suddenly, I feel how much I'm actually yearning for Shindou. For his warm embrace, for his smile, for his beautiful hair. I want it all. Now.
''SHINDOU!'' I shout one last time on the top of my voice.
It keeps quiet and just when I'm about to give up and start crying, I hear a surprised voice.
With a jerk, I turn around and see him. The beautiful boy with the brown hair, brown eyes and muscled posture.
''Shin…dou.'' I whisper.
Before I can stop myself, I dash forward and lung towards him. Shindou wraps his arms tightly around me.
I burry my face in his shoulder and take in his scent.
''There you are.'' Shindou whispers.
''I-I thought I was never going to find you.''
''I thought the same thing. Until I heard you screaming my name. Thank god, Akane.''
He let go off me and examined you.
''You don't seem too injured.''
I nod slowly and then examine him. And that's when my smile fades. Shindou's right leg is covered in blood and I see him wince slightly with every step he takes.
''Shindou… your leg.''
''It's nothing,'' Shindou replies. ''Tsurugi cut me there short after you dropped that bomb.''
''Oh no… is it severe?''
''Nothing to worry about.''
Somehow, I doubt his words.
''Let me see.'' I demand.
''Akane, I told you it's fine. I-''
''LET ME SEE!''
Shindou falls silent and nods. He lifts up the bottom part of his pants and reveals his right leg till his knee. A giant, deep cut is visible in his leg and due to the red skin around it, I can immediately see that it's infected. I gasp.
''That's not good at all! Shindou, this is bad. Really bad.''
Shindou looks away.
''I'll be fine. Don't worry too much about me. I mean, come on, I'm obviously not going to make it. I must help you survive.''
I can't believe my ears. I walk towards him and smack his cheek with my hand.
''NEVER EVER say that again! You hear me?! We're in this together! I'll support you. Didn't you hear the rule change? We can win this thing together!''
''I heard. Nice to see that you found what's left of me.''
Again, I want to slap him.
''SHINDOU, cut it out!''
''No! I won't discuss this. I'll be taking care of you and that's final.''
''I don't want to drag you down. I could bring you into danger.''
''I'll choose for this myself. I can handle it. I won't leave you.''
Shindou's eyes soften.
Shindou and I sit in the cave we found, after two hours searching. It's mid afternoon and rain is pouring from the sky. Shindou and I are drenched till the bone. Since my jacket is drenched, I take it off and am left with my green pair of pants, shoes and black T-shirt. Shindou also takes off his jacket and T-shirt. I can't help but stare at his six-pack that becomes visible now that he's not wearing a shirt anymore. I take out my braid and squeeze the water out of my hair.
''Are you cold?'' He asks.
I shake my head.
''N-No, it's fine.''
''You're shivering like mad. It's obvious you're not fine.''
''I-It's okay, Shindou.''
Shindou sighs with a smile, rolls his eyes and before I know it, he sits behind me and wraps his arms from behind around my body.
''Better?'' He whispers.
I'm lucky he sits behind me, because now he can't see the enormous blush that appeared on my cheeks. I can feel his muscles moving.
''B-Better.'' I reply with a squeaky voice because of the nerves.
We stay like that for a long time, until we're both a bit warmer. I instantly feel cold when Shindou lets go off me.
''I'm going to find some dry to wood and see if I can make a fire.''
''Are you going out in that storm alone? With that leg of yours? No way!'' I firmly reply.
''Akane, you're shivering like mad. Besides, we need to dry our clothes.''
I open my mouth, but know that he's right.
''Be back soon, okay?'' I ask softly, while I stare at the ground and fiddle with my hands.
I can hear Shindou grin and before I know it, I feel something warm and soft on my forehead. I realize the source are Shindou's lips.
''Don't worry about me. I'll be back before you know it.''
And with those words, he disappears into the rain, leaving me behind, blushing like mad.
~ End of Chapter Eight ~
Hi guys! SORRY SORRY SORRY! I know I'm always late with the chapters, but please believe me when I tell you a lot is going on. Besides, I don't have a lot of access to the internet, so I can barely update. But here is chapter Eight! Writing Aoi and Tenma's death was so sad. They deserve a happy life in heaven! ~ And Akane found Shindou! Yay! ~ Please keep supporting this story! The next chapter will contain something special! ~ I love you, guys! Next up: Together. I'll see you then! Lots of love! xoxo Mamera-chan