Mindlessly I sat brushing my hair, staring in the mirror, but not really seeing anything. I’d been like this for hours after I found out the warriors name. Zakyrik Ruequal.
This is driving me crazy that I can’t shake him off my mind no matter how hard I try to push him out. What is it about him that I can’t let go? He’s more than likely going to die within a few days so why I am finding myself drawn to him?
Groaning in frustration, I toss my hair back over my shoulders and decide to just sleep on it. I pulled my satin sheets over me and closed my eyes. I shouldn’t have been surprised at all to see the handsome man there as well.
Zakyrik is bloodied, beaten and bruised standing in the winner circle. The crowd is screaming around him insults and cheers at the same time. Despite the pain he must be in, he pulls himself up to his full height when father addresses him.
My father stands with an angry, seething look on his face, “Well done, mongrel. You won. Now what is it that you want?”
Zakyrik grins widely, “You know what I want. Xori. She’s the reason I’ve fought and the reason I stand victorious.”
A collective gasp echoes across the stadium as Zakyrik thunders, “Vyron, you sniveling coward, I’m taking your daughter. We are leaving here, and you’ll never get the privilege of her gracing you with her radiant presence ever again.”
The knocking at my bedroom door pulled me from my sleep. I opened my eyes half expecting to see the warrior who now apparently shows up in my dreams, but instead it was Jyrixi’s smiling face I seen jump in the bed beside me, “Time to get up, buttercup. Let’s get you dressed and me looking fabulous for the competition.”
Sounds of screaming, laughing and cheering were heard coming from the stadium well before our coach reached its destination. Jyrixi got out when we reached the front gate. She had to go in to get the line up and information on each fight if she was indeed going to host the competition this year. She always does such a good job at it.
We took a left, riding up a ramp behind the stairs and stopped at our box seats. Father’s chair was the tallest in the middle, Xera’s chair was slightly smaller on the right, and mine was the smallest on the left.
Looking out across the arena, I seen a humongous picture of my grandfather hung up above the entrance. It seemed as if his grey eyes were boring into my soul from death, still hating me from his grave. It was obvious that I was not his favorite.
After the stands filled, my father smirked, “Time to greet our people, children.” Father walked to the podium in our box that had a red colored microphone in the center. Xera and I followed to stand on either side, looking down on the masses.
The crowd cheered as my father waved at them. He flashed the most sincere smile that he could fake as he called out, “People of Evanyl, welcome to The Stone Warrior Competition!”
Louder cheers rang out and father waited until they became silent, “Today is a bittersweet day as my father is not with us. This will be the first time that he cannot stand before you and open the tournament, but he has passed the proverbial torch onto me. In his honor I have provided us with a picture of him here, for all to see and I know he is looking down, smiling on this glorious day.”
He gestured out to the giant banner of Vyross and accepted another round of cheering before proceeding, “Without further ado, I would like to announce that there will be a few, slight changes in the way we run and judge things. Firstly, I know we each pick our champions from the lower classes from each town, but as I said yesterday, when I walk through town square everyday and I watch the youth, I can’t help, but notice that there are brawls spread throughout the town. I see the hunger in your eyes for the victory over your opponent and I thought why not you? Why not let the ones who want to enter on there own free will compete? So instead of waiting, I have decided that this year I will give the invitation to whoever wants to compete, right now.”
Forcing my jaw to not drop, I snapped my head in his direction. Clearly I misunderstood him. He can’t have seriously just offered these people an invitation to willingly come end their lives? I thought he was kidding about it yesterday. I focused back on the audience, and my stomach dropped at his next words.
“The rules would be the same, of course. No special treatment will be given and you will still be required to fight to the death. I would like a show of hands in who would be interested.”
A plethora of men raised their hands and cheered yet again. My mouth hung open from shock. Father covered the microphone with his hand and smiled menacingly at us, “This year’s tournament will be more interesting than I first imagined.”
Father counted and there were 35 men who wanted to compete. Then he rephrased his original question, “And how many would be willing to come down right now to fight in preliminary rounds?” The number of hands dwindled down to ten.
“Perfect! I was originally only going to let five enter, but why not? You ten come down to the center ring. The other champions, please walk to your spots.”
Feigning boredom, I looked down trying to not make it obvious that I was looking for someone. My heart did a tiny flutter when I spotted him, the warrior, Zakyrik. He looked down at his feet as he walked to the center ring.
This will be where the preliminary rounds take place. We have four fighting for Evanyl, and ten from the surrounding towns. Now we have ten more who are competing of their own free will.
Twenty-four fighters, with only twelve going through to tomorrow’s round. That means I’m getting ready to watch twelve men die in the most gruesome way possible.
My eyes kept going to Zakyrik. It was like he was the magnet and I was the steel. Finally, he looked up and his eyes locked onto mine. I tried to look away and I couldn’t.
We stood there trapped in each other’s gaze for what seemed like hours. Finally the trumpet that signaled the fighters get into position sounded and broke the trance.
Zakyrik moved to stand next to Cicatrix. The brute smirked and whispered something to him which Zakyrik seemed to ignore. Can’t blame him, I ignore Cicatrix any chance I get as well.
Xera came to stand next to me, “Cicatrix will tear every one of them apart with his bear hands, however, I am still holding onto hope that the warrior of Axrenorian will last. Like I said before, Cicatrix is getting a little boring in the love area if you know what I mean.”
Suppressing a shudder at the thought of her touching Zakyrik, I forced myself to nod. The thought of her being with Zakyrik makes me sick to my stomach and that image of me decking her in the face showed up in the forefront of my mind again.