<p>"Did you hear? King Jellal's holding the national holiday early this year!" one of the field girls squealed."Today's the last work day and we get three days to head to the capitol, and then a whole month off for them!"</p> <p>"He's starting them early? And such short notice? You sure you're telling the truth?" Another asked.</p> <p>A few girls muttered agreements. They didn't believe this little gossip.</p> <p>"Just ask one of the adults." She replied with a wink.</p> <p>The second girl called over one of the older women who was also working in the field.
The entire time, Lumina remained silent and stayed to her work. This would probably turn out to be one of the common field girl lies that this girl had overheard.</p> <p>"Is it true? About the games coming early this year?" the second girl asked when the woman was close enough, eyeing the first girl the entire time.</p> <p>"Why yes.
It's out of celebration about that dragon rider who came through here." the woman replied and went back to her work.</p> <p>"See, I told you!" the first girl cried out.</p> <p>"Weren't you suppose to be on that scouting group that first spotted the strangers, Lumina?" another girl who was listening like me whispered softly.</p> <p>"Yeah, but I'd been behind on my work. The field master would've gotten terribly angry with me if I hadn't stayed and worked over." I answered her back softly.</p> <p>"That's too bad.
Hey, wasn't that girl," the girl who was talking with me nodded her head off to the first."apart of that scout group?"</p> <p>"She was and even accompanied the strangers to the capitol, but was ordered to return home since she was only a girl." I told her as I did my field work.</p> <p>"That's how she would know about the festival." the girl murmered absent-mindedly to herself and returned her full attention to her work.</p> <p>"Hey Lumina!
Are you going to the capitol games?" the first girl asked me.</p> <p>I was forced to look up from my work and reply to her.</p> <p>"Yes, I plan to this year." I answered.</p> <p>Four years ago I hadn't because my grandfather, who even though I call him grandfather he only looks in his fourties, because he had insisted that I was still too young. I was thirteen then, but now I was seventeen and he couldn't refuse me.</p> <p>"Are you going to take part?" She asked, and I felt the gaze of everyone on me.</p> <p>"I might, but I'm not the greatest fighter and I'll probably be kicked out in the first round." I said.</p> <p>The games were for anyone eligible to participate in to test their skills against fellow contestants.
There were several categories you could enter yourself into. Each category held their own tournament on different weeks in the month. So in all there were four categories to enter in which were magic, close combat (using your fists only), swordplay (using any kind of sword you want), and archery.
You can only enter into two tournaments so that you don't wear yourself out too badly, because they are brutal.</p> <p>Since more than half the population always enter into the games, the first round is where everyone who entered is thrown into a huge arena to duel it out. The only rule is that you can't kill your opponet, you can only wear them out until they can no longer stand.
The fighting continues until there are only one hundred left standing. The first round is always completed in one day because it starts at the first light of dawn to the evening light of sunset.</p> <p>"Yeah, I probably won't last long either." The first girl said and laughed."So what are you planning on entering?"</p> <p>"Magic or maybe archery.
Possibly both." I say.</p> <p>The archery tournament is the only exception to the first round. Instead of fighting your opponets until they can no longer stand, the first round is a race to see whose mount is faster. You see, speed is important in the second round if you're to beat your opponets. You can enter on any animal that can carry you.
People have tames wild horses to use in the games and some have captured the wild birds with long necks and bald heads that live at the edge of the mountains to the South. They live in the tallest of the grass fields and are very hard to trap.</p> <p>"Archery?
So what are you planning on for your mount? You don't own one." The first girl states.</p> <p>"I want to keep it a mystery." I reply.</p> <p><br /> "So you'll be traveling seperate from the group?" She leads on, figuring that I'll have to take my mount from here to the capitol alone if I want to keep people guessing.</p> </div> <div class="textbody" id="storyText" style="-webkit-user-select: none; opacity: 1;"><p>"MmHm." I hum as I work with my hands to get a rather tough piece of cotton out of its shell.</p> <p>She doesn't press me with further questions and I'm glad.
I usually don't talk with people for that long or hardly at all. Only when I'm up to speaking to I share words with people. Today isn't one of those days. I want to work silently in these cotton fields and return home by myself to rest.</p> <p><br> Ever since the day a idiotic boy from our village thought it would be cool to check out the lava fields to the North by himself, I've been this way.
It was only when I was a child, so that boy would be a man by now probably. But he was the cause of my pain and suffering. One of the monsters from the desolate plains had seen him and given chase. The elders always tell us now that if we're as stupid as him and go up to the plains to have a beast chasing us, we're to lead it away from our cities.</p> <p><br> This boy hadn't had the common sense to do that. He lead the monster straight through one of our cities to the North, the closest to the plains.
The monster had set the entire town aflame. But the boy hadn'd stopped running. Once one of those monsters gets their pupiless eyes on you, they track you until the end of your days. It followed him South then, he had been attempting to return home to my city. Luckily, the monster had seemed afraid of the river that splits our forest in two and sets the capitol on the opposite side of us.
In fustration, it attempted to attack the capitol.</p> <p>With warriors from the capitol, men from the city to the far East on the coast, and my city from the South, we forced the beast West and into Mirior lake. The lake hadn't been so shallow back then. It was the heat that radiated off the monster's skin that had evaporate most of the water from the lake. The water did eventually kill it completely, leaving the lake in a sorrowful state.
Though the problem had been taken care of quickly, it was not without deaths.</p> <p>Two of which had been my parents.</p> <p>That had left my grandfather with the task of raising his grandaughter who was only five years old. Old enough to realize that mommy and daddy weren't coming back from their trip, but not old enough to understand why they couldn't. The events had been so distant from my city, and everything had been peaceful here.
I had only caught a glimpse of the burning forest when I had ran away from him. I hadn't been a strong flier then, so I couldn't cross the river but I had seen the flames that had consumed my parents with my own eyes.</p> <p>Someone, I forget who exactly, returned me to my grandfather where I lived in a trance-like state. The flames burning in the back of my mind. Eventually I slipped out of the daydream, when I was nine, but the damage had already been done.
Other girls considered me strange and wierd and wouldn't even come near me during my years of schooling. It wasn't until we were forced to work together on the fields that they begun to understand my position and accept me. Even now I barely speak to them and I'm hardly the first person anyone comes to when they have problems.</p> <p>The trance-like state had also taken another thing from me that could never be replaced---the memories of my parents.
They had been washed away from me to a point I couldn't even remember their faces. I had tried asking my grandfather to tell me what they were like, but he never answered me. Best to stay in the present, he would say. But my mind was always on the past about the parents I never remembered.</p> <p>When the sun began to approach the highest point in the sky, everyone saught shade under the trees on the outskirts of the cotton fields, and sat down to eat their lunch.
Mine comprised of a loaf of bread and a small bit of cheese that I had dared to bring with me. My grandfather would notice the chunk missing as he sat to eat his lunch back at our house on the edge of the city. I would be scolded for it, but most likely he would just give me another bit to take with me to the tournament.</p> <p>I resumed my work as the sun was passed its highest point with the other girls.
The same gossip went around again about the games and who was participating, which was most of the girls in the field. Only women who were trained in the arts of war, the warriors of our city, ever entered the close combat or swordfighting. So these girls were probably planning on doing the exact same thing I was. Many of them had been taught how to use magic by their parents, while I had self-taught myself.
My grandfather didn't like relying on words to live his life.</p></div> <div class="textbody" id="storyText" style="-webkit-user-select: none; opacity: 1;"><p>While the sun was half way between the end of the day, everyone brought their bags of cotten over to the main branch of the field. The fields were built on layers on a side of a hill, and only one large path had been cleared away in the middle for horses and their owners to take the cotton back to the city to be made into clothing.
At each layer, a horse stood waiting on the girls to drop off their bags and then return home. I put my cottom collecting bag in the large pouch that held countless other bags and headed downhill.</p> <p>Although I knew I was being nusance in traveling downhill than everyone else who was going uphill, but my layer was closer to the bottom and it would be easier to just walk this way than go all the way up to the top which would wear me out even more.
As soon as I hit flat ground away from the fields I took off in the air to my home. Listening and consintrating on how my wings fought against the wind occupied my mind as I flew.</p> <p>I was an expert at reading air flows and what the clouds felt like doing today, and was able to find the fastest air current home. This was a skill that I had taken time to develope on my own because I had always wanted to be the best flier.
Other girls my age just wanted to take off and get to their destination, they didn't care how they did it. I landed within a short walk to the old farmhouse on the ground. Houses were only built up in the trees within the city. Houses outside the city were built on the ground.</p> <p>My grandfather welcomed me home with the same grumpiness as usual.
He never seemed happy about anything.</p> <p>"Today was the last work day. The games are going to go on at the capitol early this year." I informed him, setting down my lunch bag and keeping my eyes on my hands.</p> <p>"So I heard." Came his reply.</p> <p>"I'm thinking about going this year." I told him.</p> <p><br> "I'd rather you not.
It's just a bunch of holigans rough housing." he grumbled, then after a moment of silence he spoke again."So what are you planning on entering?"</p> <p>"Archery." I replied.</p> <p>I wasn't going to tell him about magic or I'd throw him into an uproar.
He grunted in approval. My grandfather knew I practiced archery in my spare time and knew about my pet that I kept, even though he didn't like it very much.</p> <p>We ate dinner together in silence and then we both retired to our own beds at the same time. I laid quietly on my bed, still awake. I decided that I should at least inform my pet to stay close to the house tonight so that we could travel together in the morning.
With my mind, I reached out to her and thought in the ancient language, the only language we could communicate in.</p></div> <p>I woke up in the morning early so I could get a head start. Since I would have to travel by land with my pet dire wolf I would be behind everyone else.
I wore my best white cotton pants and long sleeve shirt, then pulled a dress with long sleeves like bells over top. The dress was seven inches from my hips and was the golden color wheat reflected in the sunlight. I put on leather shoes which were covered in the same colored fabric to match. A belt around my waist made sure the fabric clung to my sides and made me look slim.
I left my hair down instead of putting it up like I usually did.</p> <p>My blonde hair was lighter than the dress and my blue eyes were sure to provide contrast to draw everyone's eyes to this girl who appeared cloaked in gold. I wanted to at least look good upon arrival at the tournament. In my first bag I put the clothing I would be wearing to the tournament.
The main piece was the same color as my dress now, so I would be unmistakened in the ring as the girl in gold. I put the iron arm guards that would go ontop of my lower part of my arms in the bag as well. I added the other things I would dress myself in too, then swung the rucksack over my back.</p> <p>The next thing I attended to was the food I would need for the three days of travel it would take me to get to the capitol.
I also added money into the smaller pouch, enough to support me for the month and the supplies I would need while returning home afterwards. I slipped the smaller bag into my rucksack ontop of the clothing. My grandfather was still sleeping in his bed and wouldn't wake up until the first light came in the window.
I bid him a silent goodbye and walked out into the dimly litted sky.</p> <p>With the rucksack on my back, I couldn't fly to the meeting point I had set with my partner.
I called her a pet in front of my grandfather, but she was just as intelegent as me, maybe even smarter. We could hold conversations with each other in our minds for hours. I walked to the place just outside the reaches of the farm house that my grandfather owned. My direwolf appeared from the tall grass.
She had been the thing that had brought me out of my trance after my parents had died. My grandfather had agreed when I found her abandoned in the woods that I could keep her as long as she wasn't around the house or the city. He hadn't wanted anyone to make it a new city law to forbid pets.</p> <p>Canna, my direwolf, was a bit bigger than a horse and could carry two people on her back if she had to.
I'd raised her with care and in return she had grown larger than most direwolves ever get. My grandfather and I were the only ones who knew about her.
Canna has white fur instead of the regular brown or black that would allow her to blend into the forest more easier.
She was probably the runt of the litter of pups she came from, and being on top of that an albino. Her mother had abandoned her because she thought she had no chance of living, but I had thought differently. Out of all the direwolves that live around here, Canna is probably better fed than all of them because of me.</p> <p><em>Canna.</em>I say as she comes nearer to me.</p> <p>She lowers her head so that I can run the fur on her cheek through my hand and scratch her ear.<em>Hello Lumina</em>.
she greets me, her voice sounding like a very mature adult female.</p> <p>She calls me by my first name because technically I'm older than her and I'm not her real mom. It works out fine for the both of us.</p> <p><em>Where are we going this time?</em>She asks.</p> <p>I hadn't told her exactly everything last night since I had been tired.
The only thing I told her to do was meet me on the edge of the farm. The last time we went riding together had been on a break day and we had done it for fun.
She probably has noticed the rucksack on my back and realizes that we're not going on a simple run through the woods.</p> <p><em>The games that are held at the capitol this year are coming early this year.
We have three days to reach the city.</em>I tell her.</p> <p><em>That's more than enough time, I can make it in two days tops.</em>Canna boasts.</p> <p>I know that she can if she pushes herself, but I have no idea if the arching or the magic tournament will be first this year.
I don't want her tuckered out the day we arrive and only have a night to regain her full strength.</p> <p><em>No, we'll go in three. You won't have time to hunt for food for yourself. We have to travel during the night to keep up with everyone else who'll be flying.</em>I order her.</p> </div> <div class="textbody" id="storyText" style="-webkit-user-select: none; opacity: 1;"><p>Canna agrees with reluctance. She wants to all-out run, but she's understood the meaning behind my words.
There's hardly a thing that escapes my thoughts that she never hears, so we understand each other to the fullest. She's the only person I trust completely, even more than my grandfather.</p> <p>Canna lowers herself to the ground so I can climb on. I always ride bare-back on her.<em>Let's go then.</em>She says, wanting to get a head start on everyone else like I do.</p> <p><em>Alright.</em>I think and climb onto her back while checking my bag.</p> <p>It should hold for the ride, but I've never tested this rucksack before.
I always had lighter bags on me containing only food before.
Canna doesn't mention the few extra pounds the bag forces on her and takes off.</p> <p>We litterally fly through the forest as easily as I do through the sky. Canna's eyes can see farther than mine, and she can avoid fallen branches and tree trunks with a leap.
I hold onto her neck fur tightly at the front of her neck, leaning as close to her back as I can so that I stay on her. My legs press into her ribs in attempt to keep me on.</p> <p>By the time there's light in the sky, we're almost to the half point to the river that I've only been to once in my life.
Getting to the river is the short part of the trip, but going from the river to the capitol is what will take us the most time. As noon approaches, we've passed the point and I can see figures in the sky behind us. Canna pushes on to stay in front of them, but knows she can't when they're on us by the afternoon. She slows her pace when I go to eat some of the bread that I brought with me, so that I can remain on her back using one arm and my legs.
When I'm finished, she resumes her previous pace.</p> <p>At evening, the figures are far ahead of us in the sky.
I can feel Canna's fustration that she can't keep up with beings of my kind, but I reassure her that she's the fastest thing on land. The people who will be taking horses to the archery contest have probably just passed the half-way point while we're almost upon the river. I know that in order to cross the river, we'll have to wait for a boat that specializes in carrying mounts.
One will be stationed right at the point that's closest to the capitol.</p> <p>The river comes into sight as the sun has just began to descend behind the horizon. I'm about to tell Canna to slow down so we can approach the boat, but she continues to sprint.</p> <p><em>Hold on, I'll jump us across.</em>She warns me, and I hold fast to her fur as the river comes closer and closer to us.</p> <p>Canna leaps at the last possible moment that her back and front paws are on the ground together.
I'm stricken with fear that we won't make it, but the speed that Canna built up was enough and she just barely lands on the other side with her back feet on solid ground. I can imagine the faces of those who had been preparing the boat, suddenly seeing a flash of a golden girl on a white wolf fly across the river's width, and the shock on their faces afterwards.
It causes me to laugh out loud to myself, but I quickly refocus myself on the task ahead.</p> <p>We're only a mile or so from the river when night falls upons us. I can't see a thing, so I connect my mind with Canna's to see her night vision. She can see as clearly as day in the dark forest and although all the images flashing by us confuses my eyes, it doesn't bother her's a bit.
I stay connected to her vision, only seeing what she does as she races along the forest floor. I wonder if the boat people have given Canna and I away about one of the contendors riding a direwolf for the archery contest.</p> <p>The next morning, I'm fully awake and still planted on Canna's back.
Last night I had slept while riding her. Canna had slowed her pace drastically so that we could still move, but I would remain on her back.
Now that I'm awake though and had my breakfast of cheese and bread, she kicks off and begins sprinting to the capitol at her top pace once again.</p> <p>We don't see any more of my kind in the sky, because everyone who was going was with the main flock. They've probably camped up some distance ahead of us and have just started moving again at the first morning light. Canna's still determined to at least be a couple miles behind them now that she's learned what I have.</p></div> <div class="textbody" id="storyText" style="-webkit-user-select: none; opacity: 1;"><p>We don't exchange much words between us as we glide across the ground other than checking up how each other are doing.
Canna's muscles have just started to burn and she slows to a more reasonable pace, the one I had told her to take from the beginning. I hope her ignorance hasn't just cost me the archery tournament.
If push comes to shove, I'll give her some of my energy as I won't need as much on the first day as she'll need to carry me.</p> <p>Night falls upon us again as Canna is just about to the halfway point to the capitol.
Our goal is to make it to the capitol on the third day in the morning so Canna can rest at our room and I can go register myself in the tournaments. The other mounts won't reach the capitol until evening or midnight for some.
I guess that those on horses are only a fourth of the way to the capitol. We're making good time if my estimate is correct.</p> <p>I stay awake for part of the night, but then succum to sleep and Canna is forced to run even slower to keep me on her back.
When I awake again in the morning, she allows me my breakfast and then she sprints again. We're not three fourths of the way there, but at least we're more than half.
I can hear Canna panting heavily by the time light is in the sky and I know that she'll be utterly exhausted by the time we reach the capitol. I plan on getting off her back and walking with her the rest of the way once we're close enough, but for now she has to bear it.</p> <p>The hours tick by in the morning and the sun climbs higher and higher in the sky.
I'm afraid I won't make my scheduled time and Canna won't get her well deserved rest. When the ground begins to slope upward, I know I've reached the far outskirts of the capitol and I call Canna to a stop. Walking alongside her now, we travel together at a slow pace.
We can't waste all our energy on climbing this hill.</p> <p>When Canna knows we're at least in sight of the capitol wall's guards, she talks to me again.<em>Climb on my back, I'll carry you there.</em>she says.</p> <p><em>You need to save your strength.</em>I remind her.</p> <p><em>It'll make more of a flashy entrance if you're on my back and not walking beside me.</em>Canna explains.</p> <p>I don't argue with her anymore and she comes to a complete stop to lay down so I can climb on.
We continue on together.</p></div> <p>The Capitol's Games Begin</p> <p>ã€€</p> <p>I ride on top of the middle of Canna's back upright instead of clinging to her neck like when she was running.
I hold onto a fist full of neck fur at the base of her neck just above the shoulders for balance however. I don't want to fall off and embaress myself. There are still a line of people trying to file their way into the capitol, being checked through.
The games aren't all for sport, but for counting population, choosing generals or soldiers for the capitol army, and such. There's always some kind of political view to it, you just have to find out what.</p> <p>As Canna carries me to the front gates, I see that many people are impressed by her. She's probably the largest direwolf anyone's ever seen and they're probably wondering what the owner did to raise her.
Especially a small girl from the city that makes the clothing for the realm, which explains why she's dressed so elegantly. I can spot those from my own city among those from the others because of our trademark for our clothing that seperates us from the rest of our people.
It's usually some kind of design that only my people sew for our clothing only.</p> <p>The guards record my entrance on the paper and I'm allowed in. I'm given a section letter that will tell me what part of the capitol my temporary home will be and a number that will tell me the number of the house exactly.
I will have to return the key they give to me when I leave, that has the letter and number engraved on its surface. Canna leads me away once I take the key. We tower over everyone around us as her claws clack on the stone path.</p> <p>The key tells me I'll be on the outside of the capitol in a house that will be on the ground. They must have got me this seeing I would be in the archery tournament. Canna plows a path through the streets and people are eager to get out of her way.
She's not a tame direwolf after all. She only listens to me by choice and trusts me with her life.</p> <p>When we reach the house, I slip the key on the inside peg by the doorway to show this place is occupied already. There are no doors in any of our buildings in the capitol city. It's suppose to represent that all are welcome here.
Canna lays herself down right outside the doorway to guard my things that I lay down on the bed inside. I tell her that I'll be back after I register myself in the tournaments and that she should focus on getting her rest.</p> <p>The soldiers that line each block in the city tell me where the sign ups for each individual tournament are. Each section has their own sign up sheets and plenty of stations so there are no lines. I find one and find out that the archery tournament is the last week this time.
Plenty of time for Canna to rest up. However, the magic tournament is the second week, giving me only a week to recover. It should be enough, but I'm not sure. I sign up my name on both the archery and magic tournaments. I won't need to show up tomorrow and rest in, so I travel the Capitol.</p> <p>I can feel Canna in the back of my mind, satisfied that she'll have three weeks to rest and relax until the tournament.
Then her mind leaves me. She had been ease dropping for the news, too excited to wait for me to come back. I walked around the capitol. The arena where the games would take place would be the same area set up outside the city. It was on the far East side, away from my section at the West part of the city. They always filled in the farthest away spots first, then the rest of the city.
Only special guests got the rooms that were the closest to the tournament. Special guests were lords and their families, the king and members of his family, and any friends to the kings plus the people who won the tournaments the last time they were held.</p> <p>There were no single victors out of those who participated.
At the end of each tournament, there were always thirteen winners. Thirteen because 100 divided to 50 on the second day, then to 25 at the end of the third, and on the fourth there was always one tie or a tie declared by the King. A tie declared by the king was reserved for people who were both popular with the people, and for one to lose would cause outrage.
This had been invented to prevent fighting among the people watching. In all, each of the games all produced fifty two winners. The next time the games came, they could participate again and regain their title again, or they could refuse to participate and at the end of the games give their title to the new person who would be taking their spot in the stand by the King the next time the games were held.</p> </div> <div class="textbody" id="storyText" style="-webkit-user-select: none; opacity: 1;"><p>Just like I thought, no one was allowed a sneak peek at the arena.
The people who took care of it changed the landscape every game to make it fair for all. I returned to my home and ate the remaining bread and cheese from my pack, and Canna was provided meat from the capitol to feed her. All mounts were provided free feed during the times of the games.</p> <p>I went to bed early since I was tired from the entire day's events.
Canna remained outisde the doorway, guarding it as I fell asleep.</p> <p>The week that went by was a long one.
I had no intrest in going and watching other people's fights, so I remained at my home. A few others who planned on being in the archery tournament remained to make sure no one slipped poison to their mounts.
It wasn't common, but there was always a sore loser from the last games that had to try and ruin others chances.
Canna was too intelegent to fall for poisoned meat. She would turn her nose up at the stuff if anyone served it to her.</p> <p>Direwolves are curious creatures, being larger than a normal wolf. Some speculate that because they can manipulate magic, it effected them over the years. Making them smarter, faster, stronger, than other wolves and because they were intelegent, were able to trap prey in packs easier.
Food became plentiful to them and they grew in size until they were larger than a horse. Their claws and fangs are the size of small daggers and can easily tear through meat. It's no wonder those who feed Canna drop the meat at her paws and hurry on to the next animal.</p> <p>The final two days of the week are left for congradulating the winners and allowing the people to rest before the next tournament begins.
I knew it was my last day of relaxation when the streets were full of people discussing how the close combat tournament had gone. Seven of the old winners had won again, meaning that there were six new victors this year. That was unusual for six new champions to be crowned. It provided me some hope that maybe someone like me could win.</p> <p>I woke up the next morning and changed behind the cover of a wall into my combat outfit that I had brought along with me.
White stalkings that went up passed my knees, white shorts, and a the longsleeve white shirt that I had worn were the underclothing. The top piece was a dress that split on either side of my hips, with a low v, and short sleeves. The undershirt made up the difference that the low v revealed, that also had to be laced up. A belt around my waist made the fabric cling to my sides. I wore the same boots I had come in wearing on top of the stalkings.</p> <p>The iron arm guards I strapped to the lower part of my arm.
They weren't neccessary for combating sorcerers, but they would protect my arms when I would have to roll on the ground to dodge attacks.
I pulled my hair up into a ponytail set high on my head, but I left a few strands on the side of my face stay. At the top of the outfit, since the dress had a collar, there was a short chain of metal to fasten. I clasped it closed. The chain held the top part of my outfit together and was also ornately designed like my arm guards.</p> <p>It was rare for anyone to have a complete set of armor.
Most people threw whatever they had together and looked like a tangled mess of metal from the different ages. This outfit however, had been passed down through my family. The last one to have it was my mother, and it had come from my grandfather who had been saving it for when he had a daughter. Now I was the one to inherit the armor that reflected the color of golden wheat fields. Anyone from my city would imediately recognize that the person in it was from the Southern city, their city, where there was an abundance of cotton, oarchards, and wheat fields.</p> <p>As I walked out the door, leaving my empty rucksack behind and my first set of clothing on the bed, Canna eyed me.<em>Good luck</em>.
she said from her comforatble position on the ground, only raising her head to look at me.</p> <p>I nodded a silent thanks to her and walked towards the arena on the other side of the city. As I walked, it was easy to see who was going to watch and who was going to fight in the tournament.
Others, not wanting to wait until they were at the arena to change into their garments, had donned their armor or specifically magically enchanted clothes and were walking straight there.
Those who were watching stopped at friend's dwellings and stayed with them, or were walking nonchalantly. All who were competing were walking with an ergency in their step, as if someone could turn and attack them at any given moment.</p></div> <div class="textbody" id="storyText" style="-webkit-user-select: none; opacity: 1;"><p>The pre-game nerves were getting to me too. But I reminded myself to stay calm and breath slowly.
The one advantage I had over everyone else was that I didn't care what someone thought of me, unless it was by my choosing. My entrance was just to get people notice that I was here to win despite my small appearance and that I was a girl from the fields.
Of coarse, there would be those opponets who would think that I was an easy target, but they would soon learn that I had as much a bite as my direwolf.</p> <p>I turned my hurried paced into that one of a person who had utter confidence that they were going to win, taking long strides and seeming to have all the time in the world.
My expression was the most difficult, because I had to keep myself from evaluating my future opponets with frantic eyes. Eventually, I reached out to Canna's mind and she reached out as well. Her calmness soothed me and I was able to focus on the events ahead.</p> <p>First, I would have to appear at the arena and locate the letter of my first name where I would sign in.
Then I would enter the field and wait for the King to give his speech. Once he was done, he would raise his hand and then drop it.
This had all been talked about in the fields to those who young, but still intrested in the games they couldn't see or go to until they were older.
The games would start at the very moment he dropped his hand, not before. As soon as the signal is given, everyone would abandon their neat rows they were assembled into for the speech and imediately begin to battle until there are only one hundred of us left.</p> <p>My strategy would to let the bigger opponets take themselves out and focus on the smaller ones. If I could prove to myself that I could handle them, then I'd try someone harder. Mostly though, I would try to stay on the outside of the arena along the wall where no one could attack my back.
All this I'd taken in from the girls who had gone to the last time the games were held, discribing how some of the champions had won. Taking the battle slow and not trying to rush a strong opponet was the way to go.</p> <p>My legs began to shake as the arena appeared in my vision.
I tried to keep my muscles pumping at a steady rate, breathing big breaths, and focusing on the contures of Canna's mind. They were familiar to me, like repeating the same task over and over again it had become engraved in my mind until I could do the task without thinking of anything else, only my work, lost in a state of deep thinking.
The arena entrance with the rune L above the doorway came into my view and I steered towards it.</p> <p>The line for Ls wasn't very long, only twenty people, while the others were at least fifty long. When it was my turn, I stated my name. The woman told me where to generally be in the arena for when everyone would be put into neat lines for the King's speech.
Upon asking her how many people were fighting this year, her answer was three to four hundred. Three to four hundred was a large number. I wondered if they even had enough space for all of us in there. Since this was my first time going and fighting in the games, everything was new to my mind. All that I knew came from the girl's gossip that I had heard back home about their experiences.</p> <p>I walked into the blinding light from the arena's doorway and into a colluseum full of cheering people at the stands.</p></div>