Chapter 9: Nicky

I headed toward the cornicopia. I was almost there when I heard a voice behind me-

"Thought you got rid of me, did you seven?" I turned and was horrified to see Khione. She pulled a vile of translucent green liquid out of her jacket, and poured half of it out. She held out her hand and the liquid froze, along with some of the humidity in the air, into a spike about the size of her palm. She raised her hand and it flew toward my arm. It stuck in my wrist, right on the vein.

At first I felt only a prick, but then the ice melted, and it all flooded into my vein. Not a drop went aury. I fell to my knees. My blood was flooded with an intense, burning cold. It was the most excruciating thing I'd ever felt. I heard Khione laugh. "Yes. After you and the Athena girl dropped the nest on us, my mentor sent me this. It is a poison unique to my district. We call itTorrens Coryza, which means, in a very old language, 'burning cold'. Fitting name, don't you think?" She laughed again. My response was something like-"ahhhh...ack" I couldn't speak coherently. My vision was red. Khione crouched next to me and lifted my chin so that I was looking into her eyes. "No one makes a fool of me, seven. No one. I could kill you now, but I'd rather let you suffer. The poison will work it's way to your heart in a few days. You'll spend the time until then engulfed in excruciating pain. You can't heal yourself with water, either, because the coryza is also a drying substance, it absorbs water. It would take godly medicine, the kind of stuff even I don't get to heal. You'll just suffer helplessly the next few days. The audience will love it!"

The sad thing was, I knew they would. "I'll leave you to your pain. But I do like to sign my work..." She pulled out a knife frosted with torrens coryza and grabbed my arm. She made a cut so deep I knew that not  even the strongest Capitol medicine would get rid of the scar. Then she shifted my position so that it looked like I was kneeling to her, which I didn't appreciate. She stood there for a minute, enjoying my screams with her cold, cruel eyes and her sweet, sadistic smile. Then she darted off into the cant pass out. I told myself. We have to my subconsious moaned. The last thing I saw before blacking out was what Khione had carved into my arm- A capital letter K

When I woke up, I looked up at the countdown the capitol had set on the artificial sky- it clocked out as I watched. It was officially midnight. Khione's poison had turned all of the veins on my arm a sickly shade of green, but the pain had lessened a little bit, and I had to get the cure for Annabeth. I staggered toward the cornucopia. When I  got to the clearing, I took in my surroundings. As I watched, the girl from 5, Reyna, darted out of the cornicopia and grabbed a bag labeled'5'. I cursed myself for not thinking of that. That made 4 bags left- one labeled '1', another labeled '2', another labeled '6', and lastly '7'. I saw no other tributes around, so I went for it. i was almost there when a beautiful voice behind me ordered, "Stop!" I froze (not literally). Then a strikingly beautiful girl walked into my veiw- Piper. She smiled in a way that made me think, oh no. "Spin around." I did. "Do jumping jacks. Do the Hokey Pokey." She began singing the song I vaguely remembered from nursery school. "Stop it!" I cried. She smiled and held up her hand. I stopped dancing. "You shouldn't have come, Perseus. I imagine my dreadful sister warned you."


"Yes, your stylist."

"Drew is your sister?"

"Half sister. Lots of girls from Faction 1 become Capitol stylists once they're too old for the games, especially daughters of Aphrodite."

I tried to draw my sword, but she noticed. "Oh, give me that." I handed her the pen, my hand shaking as I tried to resist. "Don't struggle, hon, it just makes it worse." She uncapped Anaklusmos. She then studied my arm distastefully. "Khione. She did that to the boys from 3,4, and 5 too. I mean the K, not the coryza. That girl's just a tad too sadistic for my taste. I mean sure, I enjoy the pain of my enemies, but she goes just a bit too far, don't you think?" I nodded against my will. "And she keeps people alive too long. First she froze you, and now she wants us to wait like 3 days to kill you while her poison works into your system. Me, I prefer to get it over with. And killing your enemy with there own weapon- the justice is just poetic, isn't it?" I didn't think that was justified at all, but I nodded. "I charmspeak them first, of course. So fun. It's a pity the archer got to your little friend before we did. What was her name? Some type of flower, or spice... Hazel. Yes, I think that was it. Now she would have been- aaahhhhhhh!!!!!!"  That last bit  was because she was attacked from behind by a bear. "Stop it! Get off of me!" she screamed. Her charmspeak washed over me, but had no effect on the bear. Maybe animals were ammune, or maybe Frank's grief and fury were to much for even her siren powers to overcome.

"Jason! Help me! Jason!" Piper cried desperatly. I felt the winds shift and caught a glint of gold rushing toward us from the treeline. But it was too slow. Frank swiped his claws across Piper's face, marring the daughter of Aphrodite's undyingly beautiful face and silencing her compelling voice forever. Then the bear turned to me.

Well this is it, I thought to myself. I was unarmed and completly out of weight range. I stood no chance.  But Frank was sort of friends with Annabeth. I could only hope he might help heal her. 

I noticed it had been like 3 minutes and he hadn't done anything yet. I wished he would get it over with. The suspense was killing me. Wait... sorry, bad pun.

But anyway, I looked up. Frank had shifted back to his human form, and he had an expression on his face like, I'm gonna regret this later. He picked up my sword and threw it at me. I caught it by the hilt in midair and gave him a confused look. "Just this one time, Percy. For Hazel." He grabbed the 1,2,and 6 bags, then ran off into the North woods.  Meanwhile, at the south end of the clearing, a blond boy broke through the trees. He was floating, which I hadn't known Jason could do. He took in the scene- Piper's corpse, me standing over her with my sword drawn, and I realized how bad this looked. I grabbed the backpack marked '7' and ran to the treeline. Jason rushed forward, but not to me, to Piper's side. At first he was frozen with anguish, and I probably could have got him then and there, but I wasn't gonna kill the guy right after he lost his girlfriend, regardless of how much I hated him. I didn't really get why he was so upset though. I  mean, they would have ended up killing eachother anyway. Then something occured to me- maybe he hadn't been in this for himself. Maybe Frank and I weren't the only ones who had found true love in the Arena. Then Jason let out a horrible cry and raised his golden sword to the sky. Clouds darkened the night, and a bolt of lightning crashed down on the clearing. I was thrown backward, and my ear hurt terribly, though still nothing compared to the poison working it's way up my arm and towards my heart. I raised my hand my ear- it was bleeding. The lightning had blasted a crater the size of a swimming pool into the clearing. I got the heck out of there before he could turn the maximum volts on me.

When I got to the cave, my Wise Girl was still asleep. I opened pack and found a few simple things - a pack of crackers, a bottle of water, other basic stuff. Then at the bottom- a small vile of blue liquid. it was labled 'Nefertum's Balm'. I took the little brush it came with and spread some onto Annabeth's wounds- they healed instantly with just a touch. But I had to use it all on her. If Khione was right, it would take serious healing- godly food- to heal the poison, and that was never aloud to leave the Capitol. I also had a week at most before it killed me. That meant I had until then to elimanate everyone but Annabeth, so she'd get an easy win. I lied down next to her, waiting for my only reason to live to awake.

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