Stone Warriors

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Chapter 17

“Ms. Tamminalin, will the plum dress with the rose colored cloak be to your liking for today?” My hand maid, Senna, asked. I nodded, still lost in thought.

After dinner last night I went straight to bed. Unsurprisingly I dreamed of Zakyrik yet again. This one felt so real though. I could still feel the sensation of his skin on my fingertips.

In this dream, we were back in that redwood forest lying in a hammock. My fingers were lazily caressing his chest while he held me tightly. I can still smell him on my night clothes. His scent is heavenly. It’s masculine and woodsy. I never thought I’d ever enjoy those smells. Frustration welled up in me as I failed another futile attempt to erase him from my head.

Putting on the attire Senna handpicked, I then traveled down the winding staircase to where father’s coach was parked. Today at least I will get a reprieve from watching Zakyrik risk his life. Cicatrix will be in the second battle and two voluntary fighters will be the first match.

The winner of the first match is named Korellan and he is escorted off the ring. Jyrixi jumps up and down excitedly, “Okay everyone, it’s time for the fan favorite! Give it up for Cicatrix!”

The bulking, scarred figure trudged to the center ring as the crowd went wild with screaming fans and roaring applause. If my stomach wasn’t already somewhat turned before, it definitely is now. He’s only famous in this town because he can take away someone’s life creatively, that’s it. He’s exceedingly powerful and has never lost a battle.

Jyrixi announces his opponent whose name started with a G, I think. I was not exactly paying close attention because this poor fellow was about to die in a painful way and I was trying to avert my gaze whenever I could. Cicatrix grinned so wide that his face looked like it was about to split open.

Well, I have to hand it to the G-named competitor. He wasn’t going down easily. It’s clear to see he has a dislocated shoulder, but he was giving Cicatrix everything he’s got. He’s small, quick and using that to his full advantage.

The only problem now is he’s only dodging Cicatrix’s attacks instead of dealing some back. The man sidesteps what seems to be like a left jab from Cicatrix, but halfway through Cicatrix pulled back and used his right hand to grab the man by his throat. I knew he wouldn’t be able to dodge forever.

Cicatrix pulls at his injured arm, making the man cry out. He then snaps his other shoulder out of its socket. The man falls to the ground and Cicatrix smiles while he rolls him over onto his back. The crowd goes wild because they all knew what was about to happen.

He maliciously starts stomping the man, first on his rib cage, then he worked his way up. Bones snapping and breaking could be heard all the way where we were sitting. As Cicatrix’s foot came down on the man’s throat, a gurgling sound happened followed by the guy vomiting blood, then he was still. That’s one of his signature moves, he loves crushing throats.

Jyrixi skipped over, grabbed Cicatrix’s hand and held it up in the air. “And with yet another brutal display from our favorite champion, winner by a crushed windpipe, Cicatrix! Now there are eight warriors advancing! See you all here tomorrow, same place and same time!”

After we returned home, I ate dinner with the family, then retired to bed only to find I couldn’t sleep. I knew who I would see when I entered the dream world and I had to somehow stop letting myself do that. Being with him, even in an unconscious state, is a dangerous temptation I just cannot keep giving into.

With there not being too many choices this late at night to do, I opted to go into the kitchen and ask the night chef to make me a late night snack. If I stay up until I’m too tired to dream, I won’t see Zakyrik. The thought of not getting to be with him, even in my sleep, gave me an ache in my chest.

After my sandwich, I walked up the back entrance staircase to burn off some calories. Unfortunately it took me closer to the restricted area, also known as where Zakyrik was. I had been staring in that direction when a voice on the staircase startled me, “You should look where you are walking, dear girl. That’s how accidents happen.”

It was slurred, sloppy and easy to hear the man was drunk. But what surprised me was who it was. “Axrenorian! I’m sorry I almost ran into you. What are you doing out here?”

He had a bottle of whiskey in his hand and was trying hard to sit up straight, “I had to go have a word with my warrior, though I’m not sure how conscious he was during it. I don’t know how he’s going to fair tomorrow, which may turn fatal for both of us.” He took another sip from his bottle and sighed.

That statement had me narrowing my eyes, “What do you mean by that? What’s going to happen to you?” He didn’t just say it would be fatal for Zakyrik, but himself also.

The rule here is if your warrior dies you cannot claim another one, but you can still bet on another sponsor’s warrior. Therefore even if Zakyrik​ dies, I felt ice grip my heart at the thought, it wouldn’t mean anything would happen to Axrenorian. He must be extremely drunk.

He waved his hand at me, which knocked him off balance and his back hit the steps, “Don’t listen to the inebriated ramblings of an old man, child. Go upstairs and get you some rest. You are a good girl, Xori and you have a kind heart. Don’t ever change that okay?”

He then closes his eyes and passed out. I hollered for the guards and two came around the corner, looking for whatever danger I called them for. When their eyes landed on him, they narrowed their brows in confusion.

“Axrenorian fell asleep on the stairs. Will you two carry him to a spare bedroom please?” They​ both looked at each other and chuckled, but gently grabbed Axrenorian and carted him off.

A feeling of dread crept in as I was lying on my stomach thinking about what Axrenorian said. He may have been wasted, but a drunk man’s ramblings are a sober man’s thoughts. I’ve learned that listening to father when he drinks.

Something about how he said tomorrow’s outcome may be deadly for both of them just didn’t set right with me. Unless he made some kind of deal with my father, which would not be wise of Axrenorian because he knows how he is, I can’t see what he meant by that. I finally decided to just push it out of my head and closed my eyes, welcoming the dreamless sleep.

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