Alea Ludo Chapter 7: The Letter!
The second round of the voting was about to begin. All the remaining players, excluding Darius for obvious reasons, were all gathered in the voting room. Caius stood in the middle of the room, his trademark smile annoyed me instantly. I swore that guy could never smile any other way than that one. Once everyone was there, he waved at us and spoke.
“Welcome back to the voting room everyone! I am happy to see that you all managed to make it here safely!” He looked around the room for a moment. His smile suddenly disappeared. “Well…all except for Darius that is. He shall be excluded from the voting this time.”
The first one to speak out of the group was Henrika. She raised her hand then asked, “Will him not being here affect the votes in a negative way?”
Caius shook his head. “No. The rules are the same. If anyone votes to continue playing, everyone remains here. If everyone votes to leave, then you all leave.”
“I see…” She lowered her hand. However, she still seemed skeptical about his answer.
“Ignoring the dumb ass for the time being. How are the rankings?” The obnoxious Melanie spoke up next. “I should be in the lead with the most points, right?”
“I am getting to that.” Caius pushed a few buttons on the tablet in his hand. He then turned it around to show everyone the rankings. “As of now, Melanie is in the lead. Tied for second place are Darius and Klara.”
The little bitch pumped her fist in the air, celebrating her triumphant position. “Hell yeah! That money’s mine! All mine!”
“Don’t be so sure of that, youngster,” Salomon said, flipping his coin in his hand. With a smirk, he showed it to Melanie. “Fate may have other plans in store.”
Melanie slowly lowered her arm down to her side. With a menacing expression, she turned to face the old man. Her Cheshire smile had vanished. “That supposed to be a threat, old man? You gonna vote to keep playing just to piss me off?”
“Who knows? Let’s just wait and see how this round of voting goes.”
“Fine by me. Regardless of how this plays out, I’ll still be in the lead.”
“If everyone is done stalling. I would like to get this over with already.” Wyatt rudely said.
“Yes, I agree with Wyatt. Let the second round of voting begin. Will you stay or will you go?” Caius announced for the voting to begin.
Everyone listened to the game moderator then dispersed into respective voting booths. There I was again, standing over the black screen that sealed everyone’s fate. It turned on once I held my bracelet over it. To my immediate disgust, Caius’ face appeared on it again. It soon shrank, and then the two familiar buttons appeared on the screen.
Continue or leave. Those were my options. They were such simple and yet complicated choices. If I were to press the continue option, everyone would be doomed to spend another day in the god-forsaken facility. And man, did that turn out well last time. Darius nearly lost his life because of me and four other people.
I don’t know about them, but I felt conflicted about my decision. I lacked the foresight and underestimated the games. There was no longer a doubt in my mind that they were dangerous and life threatening. It would be foolish to choose the continue option. Any normal person would’ve voted to leave on the second day.
But it was just like Melanie mentioned yesterday. Normal people weren’t chosen to participate in the games. Every single player had something about them that caught the interest of the shady organization. I didn’t know if it was their personality, their convictions, or even the situations that they were in. But what I did know was that I wasn’t a normal person.
I was far from it.
What happened to Darius was tragic, but I wasn’t going to be swayed so easily simply because he nearly lost his life.
Sure, I felt guilty and regretted my decision. But something that I would regret far worse would be abandoning my only shot at winning enough money to save Maynard’s bar. Some people would have to get hurt and possibly lose their lives just so that I could save a bar. My home. It was the lesser of two evils.
I pressed the continue button and sealed the fate of everyone once more. I truly was a scumbag. But, I didn’t care. I swore that I would do whatever it took to save my home. Once my screen turned off, I stepped outside the booth. Everyone else stepped out as well around the same time.
Our gazes moved on to Caius. He didn’t look at us, however. His attention was on the tablet in his hands. Once the votes were in, he graced us with his trademark smile once more.
“Congratulations players! Four out of the ten of you that voted have chosen to continue playing! It looks like you will remain here for another day!” He happily announced the results to everyone.
“Now why am I not surprised by this?” Wyatt complained, throwing his hands into the air while heaving a sigh.
“How unfortunate. It appears that Darius’ near death experience yesterday has done nothing to deter some of us.” Nicholas dejectedly spoke up next.
“It shouldn’t come to a shock to anybody that we’ll be here for another day. We still don’t know the identity of the four people voting to continue playing.” I mentioned to the group.
“But, I still can’t help but feel upset over this. One of us has already died, and another one of us nearly died yesterday.” Iris started listing the events off her fingers. “In less than two days, we almost lost two people. If we stay here any longer, more people are going to die.”
“Well, no point in complaining about it now. Might as well make ourselves comfortable for the next few days.” Melanie shrugged her shoulders then left the room.
Klara closed her book and left the room as well, obviously not saying a word to anyone.
“I know that those two are responsible for keeping us here. We just need to figure out who the other two are and deal with them.” Wyatt plotted.
Surprisingly, Henrika stepped forward and confronted the Doctor. “You’re still going on about Klara being one of the traitors behind this? What proof do you have that she voted to keep playing, Wyatt?”
Wyatt took a step backward and grimaced by Henrika’s sudden confrontation. He was as shocked as everyone else by her strange behavior. But, he didn’t back down. He stood his ground and spoke.
“On the very first day, she was placed in the lead after Frederick’s death. If everyone had voted to leave on the second day, she would have left with one million dollars. But now that we are on the third day, she is no longer in the lead. That should be more than enough proof. She is upset about having lost her position in first place.”
He was confident with his assumption. But to be honest, I wasn’t all that convinced. Neither was Henrika. Sure, anyone would be upset after losing a chance to win one million dollars. But I never pictured Klara to be someone like that. Then again, it wasn’t like she spoke with anyone of us. No one had any clue what went through that woman’s mind.
“That’s stupid! You’re stupid!” Henrika pointed at Wyatt. “I don’t know what you have against Klara, but you need to cut it out! She hasn’t done anything wrong! She doesn’t deserve your shit!”
“You have your opinion, and I have mine. Until I receive undeniable proof that she is innocent, I will not stop suspecting her.” Wyatt said. “It has been three days. She has never spoken a word to any of us. She is not trying to prove her innocence. That is suspicious to me.”
“So, you’re saying that if she came out and spoke to you now, you would immediately believe her? You would trust her instantaneously after everything that’s happened so far?”
Wyatt opened his mouth to answer, but then stopped.
“Henrika…” Iris softly called out to her.
“How do we know that you’re not one of the traitors, Wyatt? You said that you wanted to earn enough money to give your wife the heart transplant that she needs, right? You have yet to win any money so far.”
Wyatt scowled at the mention his situation. Henrika wandered into dangerous territory.
“If you truly loved your wife and wanted to help her, would you run away from this place with no money in hand? It seems like it would be a waste of time to me,” She shrugged her shoulders, “the way I see it, you’re putting on an act. You’re just waiting for your chance to win some money at the cost of everyone’s lives.”
“Shut up!” He suddenly shouted.
“What’s wrong? Did I strike a nerve?”
“You do not know what you are talking about! I love my wife! I would do anything to save her! But this…this is not something I should have agreed to! Killing people just to save a life is just…”
“You’re sounding hypocritical again. You were the first one to suggest killing someone yesterday. Now you’re against it? Which one is it, Wyatt?”
“That’s enough.” Leona broke up their argument. “Fighting among each other like this is what he wants. It’s all going according to his plan.” She indicated over to Caius.
Our attention was drawn over to Caius. He simply stood there, watching us all unravel with his dreadful smile and indifferent gaze.
“Plan? What plan? Whatever do you mean, Leona?” He feigned ignorance.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Caius. You mentioned it on the very first day that you’re the game moderator. It’s your job to manipulate the game as you see fit.”
“You are correct about that.”
“So, could it be possible that you’re manipulating the votes to keep us here for as long as you please?”
“Hey, you’re right!” Iris pointed accusingly at Caius. “You totally could be manipulating the votes! I bet we all voted to leave Serendipity yesterday and you just changed the votes to keep us here!”
“Is that true? Does that mean that there are no traitors in our group?” Elena asked.
“If that’s truly the case, then hurry up and send us home.” demanded Henrika.
“Calm down, calm down everyone. You are all giving me way too much credit,” Caius raised his hands up in a defensive manner, “despite being the game moderator, even I have rules that I must follow. I am not permitted to manipulate the votes. The results are truly genuine and unaltered.”
“Do you expect us to believe that?” Henrika glared at Caius.
“I can believe it. I doubt that Caius is directly manipulating the votes.” I stepped into the conversation.
Caius’ eyes appeared to sparkle as he looked at me. I grimaced in disgust. I didn’t want him to ever look at me with eyes like that ever again.
“Thank you so much for having confidence in me, Ambrose. I always knew that you were my favorite.”
“Anyway, he’s not directly manipulating the votes. He’s manipulating us. The temptation of money is all that he needs to keep us here.”
“You are correct! Money makes the world go round! That is how the saying goes, right?”
“Damn it! Had I known I would end up in a situation like this, I would not have bothered agreeing to play these games!” Wyatt cursed himself.
A sigh of exasperation left Iris’ mouth. She placed her hand on her hips and said, “So, now we’re back at square one. We have to find out who the four traitors are as soon as possible.”
“Who knows how long that will take,” Elena said.
“We will just have to watch our backs for the time being,” Nicholas said.
“Saying something like that will make me feel even more paranoid,” Elena complained.
“Don’t you worry, Elena. As long as I’m here, I’ll keep you safe.” Iris assured her then placed her hand on her shoulder.
“This is another part of Caius’ plan. He wants to create feelings of opposition, doubt, and distrust among us.” I stated.
“And needless to say it is working out wonderfully,” Caius announced.
He smiled at me before zipping his mouth closed.
“Anyway, if we suddenly start a witch hunt to find the traitors, we’re bound to make a mistake and do something that we’re going to regret.”
“Yeah. We should tread carefully.” Henrika agreed with my statement. She then looked over to Leona then smiled. “Leona, you’re a detective, right? If anyone can find out who the traitors, it’s you.”
“Hey, that’s a good idea! Let’s have Leona find the traitors!” Iris suggested.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Leona rejected the suggestion. Despite her refusal, the others didn’t give up. Elena, Iris, and Henrika surrounded the poor woman. They continued to bombard her with requests and pleas until she eventually submitted to their will. “Okay, okay, fine. I’ll do my best to find them. But don’t put too much faith in me. Even if I do find them, there’s nothing much I can do to change their minds.”
“Do not worry about that, Leona. I am sure that we will come up with something after we find them.” Nicholas spoke optimistically.
“All this talk about finding the traitors sounds really interesting. I cannot wait to see how things will unfold from now on. Please put on a spectacular show. I will be sure to watch everything.” Caius told us before he left the room.
“I seriously don’t like him,” said Leona after watching the man leave.
“Ignore him for the time being. He’s only meant to be a distraction from our main goal.” I mentioned.
“Well, he does a pretty damn good job of distracting us,” Henrika complained.
“Anyway, it looks like we’re going to be stuck here for a while. Might as well try and get comfortable.” Iris said.
With that said, everyone dispersed from the voting room. I tried to head back to my room to get some rest, but I was once again forced to accompany Elena and Iris to the infirmary room. The three of us caught Darius up on the situation. Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy about the results.
“What?! We have to stay here for another day?!” He exclaimed. “I don’t know if I can survive another day here!”
“It’s not like you have anything to worry about. You’ve already played one of the games.” I reminded him in an attempt to calm him down.
“And I’m grateful for that. But…”
“How can you be grateful for nearly losing your life?” Elena asked.
“I didn’t mean it like that. Sure, it sucked that I almost died. But, once I’m able to take these bandages off, I’m certain the cool scars across my body will attract all the ladies.” Darius looked over to Elena then winked at her.
Elena let out a small, strained laugh as she looked away from him.
Typical. All my feelings of guilt regarding to his near-death experience all vanished at that exact moment. I should’ve never felt bad for the kid. He was one of those types that hardly ever learned a lesson.
“Anyway, we just came to fill you in on everything that happened. Please try and get some rest.” Elena told him, clearly avoiding his advances.
Darius reclined in his bed, heaving a sigh. “I don’t know if I can. Although I’m excluded from the games, for the time being, I’m still worried about everyone else. What kind of game will you guys be playing today? How dangerous will it be? Will you guys make it out alive? Those are the questions racing through my mind right now.”
Perhaps the kid wasn’t so bad after all. Despite his annoying traits, he genuinely seemed to be a good-natured person. Some of the guilt returned and formed a knot in my stomach. I had to leave. Remaining in the room would only prove to be disastrous for me sooner or later. But as my luck would have it, other players entered the room to pay Darius a visit, preventing me from escaping at that moment. The ones that appeared were Leona, Nicholas, Salomon, and Wyatt.
“Oh. It looks like they have already beaten us here.” Nicholas was the first one to speak out of the group.
“What are you guys doing here?” Darius sat up from the bed, watching the others approach.
“We came here to check on you. But, it seems we’ve come at a bad time.” Salomon’s gaze directed towards Elena and Iris. He sent Darius a sideward glance, followed up with an unpleasant expression that irked me.
“No, no, you didn’t come at a bad time at all,” Elena told them. “We just finished explaining the situation to Darius.”
“Are you going to find the ones responsible for keeping us here, Leona?” Darius looked to Leona with pleading eyes of desperation.
“I’ll do what I can.” Leona vaguely responded.
“If anyone can find them, it’s you, Leona!” Iris enthusiastically said.
That girl’s level of optimism was something else. I wished some of that optimism would’ve rub off on me sometimes. But, I didn’t hold my breath.
“Do you have any guesses or clues as to who they could be?” Wyatt suddenly inquired.
“This isn’t the time or the place to discuss this.” Leona dodged the question. Her attention was solely on Darius. “How are you feeling, Darius?”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. You guys should focus on yourselves.” Darius said, looking to each and every last one of us in the room. “You’ll be forced to play another dangerous game today. Make sure that you’re all prepared for it. I don’t want to see any of you joining me in this room.”
“No need to worry about us. We’ll be fine.” Wyatt stepped forward. “By the way, if you ever need help with any medical procedures, do not hesitate to call me.”
“Thanks for the offer, Wyatt. But, Elena has been more than enough medicine for me.” Darius looked to Elena with another flirtatious glance.
His comment flustered her. Her cheeks flushed with a shade of red before she brought her hands up to her face. “Please don’t kid around like that, Darius. You really should accept Wyatt’s help. He’s a doctor after all.”
“Anything you say, Elena.” He cooed, his gaze never leaving the blonde-haired woman.
It was getting nauseating to watch his pathetic attempts at flirting. So, I left the room without saying a word to anyone. Unfortunately, I bumped into Melanie in the hallway. We stopped in our tracks, engaging in a staredown. Like usual, plastered on her face was her trademark Cheshire smile. Her eyes filled with defiance. I’m certain that my expression wasn’t too friendly, but she obviously didn’t seem to mind.
“Fancy running into you here,” She said mockingly. She tilted her head to the side then continued to speak, “how’d it go by the way? Explaining the situation to the dumb ass in there?”
I didn’t want to talk to her. It would’ve been in my best interest to walk past her then continue with my day simply. However, I had to confirm something. I couldn’t waste the opportunity.
“Why bother asking? Not like you care in the first place.” I responded.
“…True…” She shrugged her shoulders.
“So, what did you vote to do during the second round?” I suddenly asked, deciding to just get things over with.
She seemed surprised by my question. I couldn’t blame her. It was the first time I ever directly asked someone what they voted. Her momentary expression of surprise was soon replaced with her usual smile.
“Oh my, why the sudden interest?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Curiosity. I just wanted to confirm on whether you kept true to your word about voting to leave since you’re in the lead now.”
“I’m sure that answer would work on anyone else…but I’m a bit different.” She turned her head then gave me a suspicious glance. “You’re up to something.”
She wasn’t wrong about that. But, I doubted that I gave it away on my face. The little bitch was quite perceptive whenever she wanted to be. It was annoying.
“Isn’t everybody?” I asked. “Anyway, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. Like I said, it was pure curiosity.” I slipped my hands into my pockets then walked past her.
“Well since you’re so “curious,” I’ll indulge you.” I stopped in my tracks after Melanie spoke with a condescending tone of voice. “I voted to leave like I said I would. Now that I’m in the lead, I see no reason to stay here any longer. Although waiting here for the rest of you to die does interest me, I have better things to do. I’m a busy woman after all.”
And with that, we went our separate ways. I had nothing else to say to her. It was unexpected, but she answered my question. Now it was up to me to figure out if she was telling the truth or not. To be honest, I didn’t know. That girl was hard to read sometimes. Regardless if she kept her word or not, it didn’t matter in the end.
Everyone was trapped there for another day because of me and three other people. As to who those three people were, I had no idea. But someone among us had one.
The mysterious person that wrote the letter.
Not a lot of time had passed since I received the letter. But so far no one had mentioned receiving one. Was it possible that I was the only one? No, that wouldn’t make any sense. Out of all the participants to hand it out to, why would someone choose me?
What kind of sick game were they playing? Was this a setup by one of them? If so, then it was all just so frustrating. I was being played like a fiddle. Someone was enjoying watching me dance around to their little tune at my expense.
Unforgivable. I refused to be someone’s plaything. Not again. EVER again.