Chapter 17: Snow
“Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it's set a rolling it must increase.” - Charles Caleb Colton
Dawn would be breaking soon, and a chill was in the air that hadn't been present before. Ezra took that as a foreboding sign, one that made him even more reluctant to leave Tiara behind. She'd be waking up soon. He swore her eyes opened the second the sun peaked across the horizon. Ezra couldn't be sure of the exact time of sunrise, but he estimated he had a little less than half an hour to get away.
If Tiara caught him, Ezra had no doubt that he'd be dead within minutes, so he crept away as quietly as possible. He took only a small amount of Tiara's supplies with him, as he wanted to have something without angrying Tiara much. After all, they would likely face each other in the future. He didn't want it to be with any more animosity than necessary. He had a strong feeling Tiara would be the one to end him. In fact, he'd bet money she'd win the games, but foolishly, that wasn't stopping Ezra from trying. There was still a glimmer of hope inside him as he disappeared into the forest.
Something cold and wet woke Tiara from her light slumber. Her eyes flew open only to be met with a haze of white. Even as she watched it, the snow began to fall quicker. All around her the ground was already covered in a light layer of white that had managed to make it through the trees above. It took several more seconds for Tiara to asses that Ezra was nowhere in sight. She sighed in slight frustration, but accepted the situation quickly.
Her clothes weren't suited for winter weather, and she knew that the gamemakers had done this purposefully. They expected a quick end to the games. The gamemakers would keep the tributes just cold enough to motivate them and not freeze them to death.
“Well, look who we have here.”
Tiara froze at the familiar sound of Troy's voice. She silently congratulated him for actually sneaking up on her this time, but she was still confident as she turned to meet his gaze.
“Troy,” she greeted.
He sneered back, "Tiara."
It was a bloody fight, and one well-matched. Tiara had no doubt that the Capitol enjoyed watching her kill Troy after the biggest struggle of the games so far. She regretted not being able to save him for last, but at least it would buy her some time. They wouldn't be expecting much out of her right away at this rate.
The newly dusted ground provided a disadvantage for Coale. He realized right away that he would have to go through a lot of trouble in order to disguise his footprints. The best thing to do as far as he could tell would be to stay in his hiding spot, but he doubted the gamemakers would allow that for long. Besides, he was running low on food, and he needed to keep his strength up. With the snow, it would be harder to find food, and he needed to take care of that now before the snow got even worse and the food even harder to find.
Jocelin's skin still felt raw from the scrubbing it had received hours ago. No matter how hard she scrubbed, she could still see traces of her victims' blood everywhere she looked. In fact, she'd rubbed so hard that her own blood had now tarnished her skin. She tried to pay it no mind, especially as she had bigger problems. She needed to find shelter and fast. The temperature had dropped quickly, and Jocelin's limbs were getting harder to move as frostbite set in. A fire would be risky, but she was running out of options. What did she have to lose now anyway?