Stone Warriors

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Chapter 13

Xori Tamminalin was not what I thought she would be. Her porcelain skin didn’t have scales and there were no horns upon her sun kissed hair. I’ve believed the whole family to be monsters, reptilian creatures of the lowest kind, but then her violet eyes showed me I was wrong, about her anyways. If that girl is evil, then I am the devil himself.

There was an unsure, wavering tone when she tried to act superior. There was a glow in her radiant presence that didn’t air as malevolent, it felt... Compassionate. She has some sort of sweet innocence about her that drew me in more than I’m comfortable with. Her skin felt like the softest, most delicate satin.

It surprised me that I had to fight the urge to pull her in close to me. Freesias and honey still lingered in the air, the most delicious thing I’ve ever smelled in my whole life. She’s got me vexed that’s for sure.

Running my fingers through my hair, I sighed. I don’t know why I’m thinking these things when it doesn’t matter. She’s a Tamminalin and I’m a poor warrior who’s going to die soon.

I’m in way over my head here and there’s nothing I can do about it. I didn’t ask for any of this. Life hasn’t been easy for me, but I never thought it could get any worse. I guess that’s what I get for thinking.

The queen sized bed in this room was an upgrade from what I slept in last night, but I would still rather be back in my own. Back to the smell of the fields drifting through my window, back to hearing Zytriana laughing as she skipped through the front walk, back to waking with the dawn knowing a hard day’s work is ahead of me, versus what’s waiting on me now when I open my eyes.

“Zakyrik, boy! We can’t put more money in my pockets if you sleep all day.” I vaguely heard Axrenorian’s voice while I struggled to wake up.

The over head light was turned on above me and the windows looked dark. It took me a few minutes to realize that the sun was not up yet thus the reason for the light. “What time is it?” I groggily shook my head trying to clear it.

Unsurprisingly I was dreaming of Xori before this jerk woke me from my slumber. Maybe it was a good thing. I need to shake this girl from my mind before it forms into something else for her other than a passing interest.

“I couldn’t sleep and I assumed you haven’t been to the training room yet so that’s why I’m here. We are spending a few hours in it until time for the competition today. You will go out there and not make me look like a fool this time.” He looked as if he had just solved the world’s most difficult riddle.

The training room was empty of people, thankfully. I didn’t need anyone seeing just how inexperienced I actually am. That would make Axrenorian put me through more hell than he’s already trying to or finally just kill me and put me out of my misery.

The room was spacious with a high, vaulted ceiling and no windows. There were punching bags adhered to the ceiling that hung down low enough for someone half my height to take their aggression out on. A round cage was in the middle of the floor that extended halfway to the ceiling with a makeshift door right in front of us.

“That is the cage where the guards spar with each other to get stronger. Unfortunately, I’m not pairing you with anyone right now thanks to your lack of fighting skills and my reputation is on the line as you know. So instead we are going to practice with the punching bags and there are dummies hung on the far wall for you to practice on as well. You have three hours before the tournament begins so you should start right now.”

Axrenorian then folded his arms and leaned against the wall to spectate. Arguing about this seemed to be out of the question so I might as well get started.

Three hours full of belittling, berating and badgering later, we set out to the stadium. Axrenorian was not pleased with me, but at least he thinks I have some basic skills this time to not get myself killed, which he only cares about because it will make him look stupid for choosing a warrior that cannot fight to literally save his own life. I’m sick of fighting, sick of being held against my own will and sick of being used as a pawn to make money off of.

Honestly I don’t care how much I learn in that training room it will never be enough to defeat Cicatrix. How do I stand a chance against someone who can snap a man’s neck with a flick of his wrist?

That bouncing announcer was back in the ring when I arrived there with the other warriors. She had a cheery smile and waved us forward. We formed two lines and awaited her instructions.

“Okay everyone I know you are excited to let the blood shed begin, but first we need to decide the order of the matches. There are 12 warriors left and today there will be two matches. The surviving ten will be back tomorrow for another two matches, and it will continue each day until the edge of your seat finale. Will Cicatrix have to give up his crown as reigning champ or will he still be undefeated? Without further ado, everyone look up at the board to see who the first two fighters are.”

Please not me, please not me, please not me... I continued my mantra until the screen stopped with two names clearly visible. “Alright,” Jyrixi announced, “The first two fighters are Zakyrik, sponsored by Axrenorian Ranswits and Andivor sponsored by no one since he was one of the invited contestants to compete. Fighters take your places.”

Dammit! Can my luck get any worse?

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