Stone Warriors

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Chapter 16

With trembling hands, I poured myself a stout drink. My heart was pounding as I began pacing on unsteady legs around Vyron’s study. He said he needed to speak to me and I knew what that meant.

Damn you, Zakyrik! Why did I have to pick such a weak warrior? Why couldn’t you have just done what I told you to?

Vyron silently entered the study, as if he were a ninja. I didn’t even hear the door open. My eyes grew wide as I turned to see him already sitting in his chair, “Vyron, my old friend, you startled me!”

He grinned, obviously amused by my fear. The light from the fireplace flickered shadows across his face, making him look just as demented as he really was. I’ve known him too many years and I can vouch that he’s not quite right in the head.

“Come now, Axrenorian, you look as if someone has just walked over your grave.” He then laughed as if his joke was the funniest ever told.

A split second later, he abruptly stops, “Alright, let’s get down to business. Zakyrik was supposed to be a top warrior, the only one of the Ruequal bloodline left. His father and uncle were both powerful warriors who put on a show for the masses before they were mercilessly slaughtered by Cicatrix. Now, Zakyrik has been lucky these past couple of fights and it’s not entertaining at all.”

Attempting to defend myself, I tried to speak, but he held up a hand to stop me. “I’ve already explained to you that I need the extra money from the bets to expand Evanyl at the beginning of next year. The only way I can do that is if Zakyrik fights well enough for people to vote for him instead of Cicatrix.”

“You and I both know that thanks to my...Friends,” he points to the rug we are standing on, but I know he meant the secret chamber underneath, “There’s no way that can actually happen. Cicatrix is a sure thing. I knew when I first seen him all those years ago, but thanks to my companions we have made certain that he cannot lose...Ever.”

Vyron stood up and poured himself a drink. He took a sip, made a sigh of contentment, then continued, “But, of course, the people of Evanyl cannot know this. They have to actually think that this is the year that Cicatrix is dethroned. At the end, when Cicatrix kills Zakyrik, I’ll collect the profits, and give you your half for going along with this. My grand scheme to expand the territory will be at my grasp.”

He chugged his drink and chuckled darkly, “I’ll take over the giant’s kingdom and even have them compete! Could you imagine? I’ve left Evanyl, I’ve seen the creatures in the other lands! My tournament would be famous across all the realms and then I’ll be unstoppable.”

He had that maddening look in his eye, the one that made him extremely deadly. Vyron is a rumbling volcano ready to erupt at any given second, taking out his mental insanity on whoever he pleases. He kills without remorse.

Within seconds his mood changed and he glared at me, “But none of this can be possible unless Zakyrik straightens up!” He slowly stood from his seat and in a bout of nervousness, I dropped my glass, which shattered into millions of pieces on the floor. Vyron’s midnight blue eyes followed the glass down, smirked when it shattered, then shot his cold gaze back up to me.

My nerves betrayed me as I heard my voice rise up a few octaves, “Listen, Vyron, I’ll talk to him. He’ll be better. Tomorrow when he fights, it’s going to be exactly as you want it.”

Vyron frowned, “No, the line up tomorrow doesn’t have him in it. He can rest until the day after. He’s up first to fight Ranowen, the blacksmith’s oldest son.”

My heart sank even deeper. Ranowen is almost as big as Cicatrix. Zakyrik doesn’t stand a chance.

“Tell me, old friend, how can you convince me that Zakyrik will get better? He’s not holding up to his family name, you know? I need concrete proof from you that the warrior will improve, immediately.” Vyron’s eyes had an evil glint to them.

Vyron has been my business partner for a long time and I’ve learned things about him that I wished I could forget. I’ve also found out what that look in his eyes means. He wants to make a blood deal.

Quelling my nausea, I put on my most sincere look, “I promise you he will be the warrior you need him to be. You have my word.” My heart dropped as he raised his eyebrows. I knew he wasn’t going to go for that, but I had to try.

Vyron shook his head as he put his hands on my shoulders, “Axrenorian, we both know in this business promises don’t mean shit. I need a real reason to trust you.”

Gulping hard, I made the worst decision of my life, the one that he wanted me to make. “I swear on my life he’ll give you the most brutal, bloody battle you’ve ever seen in his next round.”

Vyron’s mouth slowly turned into a smirk, “Now that’s a business deal I can bank on! Come on, my old friend, let’s drink to your good health!”

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