Once they were in the dining hall, they were lead to a long table with mountains of food. Serval masked staff members lined the table waiting for them to pick out what they wanted. Jasper grabbed a sandwich and some chips.
“How do they expect us to eat after that?” Jasper thought as he watched Ema and Lance pile food on their plates. “I don’t understand how you guys can eat right now,” Jasper said as they approached the table.
“Whadda mean?” Lance asked, eating a breadstick. His plate was mostly pasta and garlic sticks.
“People died. That doesn’t bother you?” Jasper asked, poking at his sandwich.
“People die all the time.” Lance shrugged. “Okay, sure, it sucks, but we’re still here, right? I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t plan on dying anytime soon.”
“They didn’t either. No one said we could die,” Ema said, eating a piece of steak.
“And if they did? What would change?” Lance asked. “People would still be here. I doubt people would take it seriously.” Lance put his fork down and thought for a moment. “Why are you here, Jasper?”
“Me? Um, I want to propose to my girlfriend in Zone 10. But that’s not the only reason. Zone 2 sucks. It always smells like hot garbage, and I barely make enough money to get by. It may not be the noblest reason to become King, but it’s mine.”Lance just stared at him. NOt saying anything while he searched Jasper’s face. “Well, say something.”
“What? Oh, you’re done. Sorry, I was thinking about something. Not a bad reason, I guess. So you have a girlfriend?” Lance smirked.
“Yeah,” Jasper smiled. All his anxiety melted whenever he talked about Ronda. “Her name’s Ronda. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I love her with everything I have. Which ain’t much.”
“Wow, I wish I had someone like that. I mean, I’ve only had one partner before, but it didn’t work out,” Ema said. “We’re still friends, though.”
“Partner?” Jasper asked. “Like a girl?”
“Yeah, that a problem?” Ema asked, slightly annoyed.
“N-No, it’s good. You don’t need my opinion, though, but…” Jasper stopped when he heard her snickering. “*********, I got to stop falling for that.”
“No ****,” Ema laughed. “How about you, Lance?”
“Nah, love, and I don’t mix. Maybe one day I’ll find something. Who knows?” Lance said. “So, Jas, do you have an answer yet?”
“About the game tomorrow?” Jasper asked.
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that for a second. I was thinking about asking 35. He seems cool,” Ema said. She looked past Lance and saw the other participants walk into the room. She smiled and waved him over. Thirty-five saw her and returned the smile. “Hey, so, I got to ask. Why the white hair? Did you dye it?”
Lance laughed. “No, I didn’t. Believe it or not, it turned that way on its own.”
“You’re so lying. How old are you?” Ema asked.
“26, and I’m not. It was originally brown. Now that I think about it, it’s more of an ashen grey.”
“The hell happened then?” Jasper asked. “I mean, it’s cool, but how? I’ve seen people with bright red hair before.”
“It was dyed; mine wasn’t. I’ll tell you about it some other time,” Lance said, picking up his tray. “Well, I’m gonna head out. If you guys want to hang out or whatever, my floor is on the tenth level. Thrid room to the right. Come say hi.”
“Oh, come on. We just got here,” Jasper said.
“I don’t do well in crowds. No rush. I’ll be in my room all day,” Lance says, leaving the room. As he turns to leave, Jasper sees what looks like a tattoo on the back of Lance’s arm. It looks like a string of numbers.
“Huh,” Jasper says.
“What?” Ema asks.
“I thought I saw… never mind. Anyway, what are you going to do for the rest of the day?”
“Probably read. I saw a library on my floor. I’m not good with people either. More of the loner type. Unless it’s around people that I like. Which is rare.”
“Do I make the cut?” Jasper grinned.
“You did save my life. I’ll think about it.”
“What’s up, guys?” Thirty-five said, putting his tray on the table.
“35! Hey,” Ema said.
“Heh, it’s Dominic. Call me Dom.”
“I’m Ema, and this is Jasper.”
“Sup,” Jasper said.
“Ema and Jasper. Alright, got it. I saw that white-haired guy with you guys. What’s his deal?”
“I have no idea. He’s a weird one, that’s for sure. But I think he’s okay,” Jasper said.
“Hey, so… I wanna talk about 56’s death. Bro was shredded in seconds. He was pleading for his life, and they didn’t care. Is that what the rest of this competition’s gonna be like? Do you guys know what that means? Only five people can win. One gets to be King, and the others get to be their knights. What about the others?”
None of them wanted to say the answer. They had no proof, but it was clear what was going to happen. The King pretty much confirmed it. They would be unworthy, and they would die.
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