The guard now led us to the center of the Quike which was crowded with villagers standing to the left and right of me in queues waiting to enter from the two entrances that were present on either side of the same arc.
Now with a shock, I remembered seeing the violet curtains when I had seen the Quike for the first time. I did not know what it was for and had assumed it was a banner but now it was curled up and tied at the top of the with ropes unveiling a comfortably sized space in the wall of the arena where the contestants were trapped in before entering the arena with metal vertical bars.
I realized that this was the waiting cell and that the metal bars would have to move in order for someone to enter and hopefully exit the cell. This was also the main entrance as the metal bars were huge with two lone purple torches that shone on the wall indicating that was the entrance.
We all were now instructed to enter the holding cell and we did and just at that moment, Zeq joined us making the cell just a bit more uncomfortable to stand in.
Remembering Muite’s entrance I realized that I was going to enter the arena from where he did and so I naturally looked to the seat I had gotten during his match. I could not see my seat but so many others could see me.
Also now, I and everyone with me in this holding cell had a raw view of the arena with its trees, bushes, and of course the big Ceiba tree, that stood massively in the center of the arena.
Just looking at it gave a shiver down my spine and yelped when I heard the metal clunking as the exterior metal bars crashed into the ground now trapping us, only another set of metal bars separating us from the deadly Quike.
A second later the thick curtains came down and I realized why it was there. To provide us with the last minute of privacy before I went public.
Looking around I noticed two more guards had entered into the cell with me, including Gawk who now used a stick for balance, presumably to stop anyone else from entering into the arena when the battle started.
Sensing that this was the last speech before the fight my mom spoke. “Loutche Aiden, you must know we all love you.” she said almost instantly bursting into tears as she hugged me. "Yes, we do,” said Xaya who too started crying as she hugged me. As we hugged I heard Xaya say "Don't be a weeky ok?" and I nodded.
My dad however spoke something different as he hugged me. “Aiden you have practiced enough for this fight and there is nothing more I can teach you, so make sure you put whatever I taught you to good use, this alone I believe will let you come out of the mess alive.” I sensed that my father spoke nothing about winning the event which only made me think he wanted me to survive this challenge and not win it.
So I made it my goal to survive instead of win and like Xey had said ‘put on a show’ to impress the leader.
Speaking of Xey, he now came up as he put a hand on my shoulder, like an older brother.
“Cousin,” he said and that was the first time I had heard speak the word fully. “I may have not shown it to you but I do and truly love you.” he said and Zefe now joined her brother as she said. “All those pranks and gags we pulled on you...you must know we always loved you and nothing was to really hurt you.” she said and I sensed they were suddenly feeling guilty for pulling all those pranks on me when I was just a child.
I assured them it was nothing and now it was the turn for their parents to have an exchange of encouraging words to me, which they did.
As I now readied myself by checking on the straps of my armor and wearing the much heavier helmet, I heard a familiar low growl from one of the guards.
“Voule,” he said and instantly I felt my anger surge as I looked at Gawk. But my anger instantly changed to shock as I realized he had removed his helmet and was now currently removing his gold chain mail coif.