After training, I dragged myself up to District 12's suite at the top of the training building. I had stayed later than almost everypony else, with the exception of the siblings from 11 and Snowflake, the male from 2. I honestly didn't know why he spent all his time in the weight's section, he already had enough body to punch through one of the solid steel walls of the training arena.
I exited the elevator, and entered the room. It was nice, with a dining room in the middle, bathrooms to one side, and bedrooms to the other. It was deserted, save for a note on the table.
I picked up the note and read it.
Since you weren't here when we left, I thought I'd leave you a note. Down on the first floor, in the room where the door was locked before. Apparently, they have this banquet with all the high class Canterlot nobility, some of the victors, and even Discord himself!
I could tell this was not the drunken scrawl of Hayseed sr, so I felt bad that Hayseed jr. had gone to the trouble of doing this after our fight. I would have to make it up to him somehow.
Heading back down the elevator, the doors opened on the 7th floor, and the yellow mare got on. Nervously looking in, half her face hidden behind her pink mane, so looked about for a second, then got on, not looking at me. We rode down to the first floor in silence, then headed off to the banquet hall.
Everypony was already there, in the midst of eating, drinking, or talking. My quiet companion rushed off to where the rainbow pegasus was sitting with the orange filly and her fellow District 5 tribute. I looked over and saw Rarity waving me over. Glancing about the table, I saw the careers along with Hayseed all together, talking and laughing and drinking, just being normal. No pony would have ever guessed they were planning on killing everypony who got in their way in some horrific manner.
I sat down between Rarity and an empty spot, and looked over the table. So many foods... I settled for a very nice looking potato salad, who's aroma attracted me immediately. I was just about to dig into it when I heard a voice that made my spine shiver.
"Is this seat taken?" I looked up to see the ruler of Equestria himself grin down at me. He smelled of white roses so strongly it was almost overpowering. I shook my head as politely as I could, swallowed hard and said "No, Sir Discord, sir."
The draconequus laughed. It sounded like someone strangling a cat to death with broken glass gloves. "Oh please, no need for formalities. After all, we're all aware of my position... and power..."
Few things scared me, but Discord was absolutely terrifying. The leader of Equestria made a large pitcher of chocolate milk appear from thin air, and he poured himself a glass. The milk filled from the top down, disobeying gravity entirely. He proceeded to drink the glass itself, and then passed the chocolate, which hung suspended in midair, to a passing waiter.
"Do be careful with that, it's a bit... unstable." The unicron water began to sweat as he carefully levitated the beverage into the kitchen. I stared in awe like an idiot throughout the entire performance.
Discord took note of this. "Ah yes, being the God of Chaos has it's finer points... ever since I took over from that other one who cares how many years ago... that fool of a human was always obsessing over the correct way to create cotton candy clouds... I'm glad I was able to take him out so easily."
I didn't want to ask what a human was for fear of an answer. It sounded almost as terrifying as Discord himself.
The draconequus pulled up a bowl of what looked like pink fluff, and stuck a straw into it, slurping it down. I wanted to ask a million questions, but was too scared of the ruler to do so. He was surprisingly friendly... but there was something about him that was so off putting.
Maybe because he brutally murder Celestia and Luna, a part of my brain reminded me.
"Ah look! My lovely wife! Eris, get over here!" I was shocked by Discord's spouse. She looked exactly like him... except for the pink tale, and the fact she was more... feminine.
"You two look... similar. Do all draconequi look alike?"
Discord chuckled. "Oh no. I made Eris myself! Out of my own genetics and chaos magic!"
"You made yourself a wife?" I shuddered at how rude that sounded coming from my mouth.
"Rather pathetic, isn't it?" Eris said, smiling at me. He smile filled me with fear, just as Discord's did. I turned back to my salad, not wanting to go further into this conversation for fear of what might happen. I suspected Discord and Eris could do things far worse to me than death...
After a few moments of talking with Rarity, the two left to talk to the careers. The newly vacant seat was immediately replaced by a mare. When she spoke, my heart skipped a beat.
"Hello, Octavia." Vinyl Scratch smiled at me from behind giant sunglasses, tinted purple. Her soft white fur glistening from the lights above us. Her brash blue and cyan mane striking out at me.
My jaw dropped. "How did you know my name?"
The announcer giggled. "Your friend from 3 told me about you infatuation with my voice. What, you don't think I spend time with my kinsponies from my old District?" I looked over at Twilight, who was tinkering with some piece of technology with Time Turner. She caught by glance, then waved at me. I sighed.
"I hope you don't think I'm weird..."
Vinyl laughed. Her voice sounded less melodic than it did over the microphone, but it sounded beautiful nonetheless. "Hey, I think it's great! I always love to meet my fans. You into music?"
I swallowed nervously. "Yeah, but I um... play the cello. Not like your electronic music that Twilight told me you did back in 3 or anything..."
Vinyl looked thoughtful, well, as thoughtful as anypony can from behind glasses that covered most of their face that conveyed expressions. "Ah, yes... those beats I made when I was young... sometimes I wish I could go back to those days. Before..." Vinyl trailed off, and I waited a few seconds before speaking.
"So, um... I play the cello. Not really like anything you did, so I'm sure you aren't-"
I was taken aback by this. "What?"
Vinyl was adamant in her decision. "Show me. They have some cellos off in the ballroom to the side of here. This isn't always the tribute training area. They use other parts of this building during the rest of the year. I've hosted a few parties here myself. Come on!"
The unicorn dragged me off towards a door near the back of the room.
"Wait!" I told her. "Won't they notice if we're gone?"
Vinyl laughed at this. "Oh, they won't care! Come on, I want to hear you play!"
Entering the ballroom, I saw the instruments lined up on the stage. Vinyl sat down in one of the chair, and I picked up the cello. Slowly, I began to play a sad, mournful melody, similar to the one that I had played back before the Reaping, but with more emphasis on lower notes. At one point, I think Vinyl actually teared up. I could accurately tell because of her glasses.
I finished playing, and Vinyl clopped her hooves together. "That was great, Octavia!"
I blushed. "You really think so?"
Vinyl trotted up to the stage and got very close, practically whispering in my ear. "I know so. Trust me, you're a lot better than most of the ponies who play those instruments. Now come on, before they notice we were gone."
I watched as Vinyl left for the door, gazing at her plot as she exited. I blinked a few times, and blushed. I was not falling for her, no, there was no way... I had just met her! I couldn't base a relationship off a whimsy feeling and a voice, not to mention the little fact I was going to die in seven days...
Ah, but there is...
Shut up, brain.