Stone Warriors

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Chapter 23

After a grueling four straight hours of being kicked, punched, elbowed and thrown around by the Evanyl Guard, I was in no shape to stand up, much less fight. My ribs were cracked, my right leg was hanging at an odd angle and my pain was so severe that my body was going numb. I was picked up by two burly guards and hauled out of the training room with my feet dragging the floor the whole time.

Barely conscious, I vaguely remembered seeing the hallway we were passing through then I heard a cold, familiar voice, “Well?” The guard to my left, “Yes sir, we beat him within an inch of his life like you asked us to. Here he is.”

The voice laughed, “Perfect! At least now, hopefully, this lesson has honed his skills and next lesson he may actually fight back. He must survive the next few battles and face Cicatrix. Tomorrow is the semi-finals so he doesn’t have too much longer.”

Pain exploded in my chest as the guards shuffled me around and I hissed from between my gritted teeth. The cold voice chuckled at my discomfort, “Anyways, have him drink this. Vyron granted me permission to use this healing vile on him since he’s fighting in two hours. Pour it down his throat and dump him in my coach to sleep it off.”

A hand lightly patted my head and then I caught a faint whisper only meant for me to hear, “You will make me famous. I’ll be known as the man who owned the warrior that finally defeated Cicatrix.” The last thing I remember is feeling the warmth of the sun on my back before feeling my body fly through the air, landing with an agonizing thud on what felt like shag carpeting.

As I came to, I felt as if I were being rocked in a cradle. Another oddity was that it seemed like I was lying on feathers. I thought back to a nightmare I just had about being almost beaten to death by Vyron’s guards. So was it all just a dream?

Upon opening my eyes, however, I realized it was all too real. There sat Trevalo on his plush, silk seat smiling down at me, “Ah! I knew you would be awake soon because I watched your chest cavity pop back up in place. Your leg healed in the correct position about half an hour ago.”

The blue shag carpet beneath me felt so amazing that I almost didn’t want to get up, but I had questions I needed answered. Gingerly I sat up, but soon seen there was no need because miraculously, I was completely healed. But how?

Apparently prompted by the look on my face, Trevalo explained, “You are back to normal, including the eye injury you had before the guard lesson, because I had them pour a special drink down your throat while you were unconscious on my coach floor. I couldn’t have you end up like the last opponent you fought. That would be awfully ​embarrassing for me.”

Taking hold of the seat, I pulled myself up off the floor. Trevalo gave me a once over and nodded approvingly, “Don’t ask what the drink was because I’m not going to tell you. Anyways, I’m more organized than my father with my goals and you will fight at your max today or else there will be penalties. You will be fighting Tesorian, who is a nobody without a sponsor so I expect a cruel death for him or else I’ll show you what I’m really capable of and you will not like that. No quick battle, make it long, drawn out and bloody, am I clear?”

A deep loathing settled in the pit of my stomach and I would have liked nothing better than to break his nose, but thinking of Zytriana, I only nodded since I couldn’t trust myself to speak. I’m starting to think this competition isn’t what is making me violent, it’s the damned sponsors.

When we arrived at the arena I seen Detro standing beside the platform with a guard on either side. He looked pale and only slightly smiled when he seen me. The guards stepped forward to open the gate so we could walk through to the platform.

He whispered to me, “You remember when those guards laughed at me and I thought they were making fun of my name? They actually were telling the truth. They were laughing because I wasn’t going to need to train in that room, ever, because my fight today is with Cicatrix.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. I’ve come to like Detro, even think of him as the only friend I have in this place. To know he’s going up against that monster makes me anxious because there’s no way he can beat him.

Begrudgingly I tried to give him an encouraging smile, but it came out as a grimace. “Listen,” he whispered quickly, “You have to promise me something. If you get out of here, take my son and wife away with you. Get them far from this filthy, vile land and help them make a brand new start because I don’t want my son to ever have to go through this.”

He tried to say something else, but one of the guards grabbed him and jerked him up on the platform while I stood on the ground with my fists clenched. Detro is a better fighter than me, but he’s not advanced enough to go up against that beast. A thought echoed in my head that said ‘If Detro doesn’t stand a chance against him, then what do you?’

Averting my eyes from the platform, my gaze landed on that angelic beauty in the VIP box. She was searching for someone, but then her eyes met mine, and they softened. My heart soared to a height it’s never been before as I realized she was looking for me.

A goofy grin broke out on my face, which she mirrored, and it took my breath away. She absolutely glows when she smiles, which I’m going to guess is not as often as it should be. My smile widened as she looked around at the people surrounding us, I suppose to see if they noticed our little exchange. That was when I heard Detro scream in agony.

The fight was going just like I feared. Detro couldn’t block or avoid anything Cicatrix was pummeling him with. Detro was lifted into the air, then thrown hard against the floor. A sickening crunch resounded throughout the space I was standing at.

Fear gripped me as I knew Detro could no longer move because that crunch was his back bone snapping in half. Cicatrix lifted both hands in the air and brought his fists simultaneously down on Detro’s chest, repeatedly until blood started flowing out of the sides of his mouth and something white poked out of his chest. A rib.

At the grisly sight, I began shaking with anger, knowing there was nothing I could do about it. Cicatrix grabbed his rib and pulled until it ripped off. He used it to slash across his stomach, blood poured out of the opening along with intestines and what looked like his liver. I turned away and fought against my stomach as it attempted to expel the bile rising.

Tears were forming in my eyes as I grew more pissed by the moment. Screw the tournament, screw the rules, this bastard pays now! I took a step forward, but Jyrixi hopped into the ring, holding up the hand of Cicatrix, like he deserved the glory he was getting from the surrounding crowd. “Winner, Cicatrix, by disembowelment!”

Cicatrix smiled evilly and stepped down the stairs. Now’s my chance. I lunged for him as he stepped down on the dirt walkway before the guard could grab me. To my astonishment, Cicatrix picked me up as if I were just a ragdoll.

The monster chuckled, “Oh, I’m sorry Ruequal, was that your little friend? Didn’t put up much of a fight, did he?” He laughed harder as I struggled against him.

In vain I tried to kick him, but he was holding me out at arms length. He cannot be human. Only a monster can hold a grown man out as if I were a puppy someone was admiring. This should be impossible for a man to do this.

Finally he grew bored and threw me against the platform stairs. The guards descended upon me. As I was pulled to my feet, Cicatrix ordered them to hold me steady for a moment.

“Ruequal, you have to toughen up a lot more if you are to take me on. You are no weakling, but you are also not half as strong as you should be. So unless you want to end up like your friend,” the asshole gestures to the surface of the platform, “I suggest you find a way to build more strength. I want a challenge for my final round, not an easy kill.”

He strutted off, still laughing. I still fought against the guards even though my common sense kicked in and was screaming, Are you stupid? He’ll kill you!

Jyrixi acted as if none of this took place and announced, “Alright everyone! Are we ready for the next round? It’s Tesorian and Zakyrik!” The stadium roared with approval.

Jyrixi twirled in the spot she was standing in, “Who can forget the way Tesorian broke his opponent’s arm with just a flick of his wrist? Who can forget Zakyrik pelting his opponent off the stage to have him speared on the spikes protruding from the ground? Yes, this looks to be a promising match! Warriors, take your places now that the body is cleared off to the side.”

It sickened me how she referred to Detro as “the body” like didn’t have a name, or a life or a family that I’ve now been tasked with breaking the news of his departure to. I was seething as I climbed the stairs. I was angry and ready to hit something.

My vision turned red as I focused on Tesorian. He was swinging his arms back and forth as if he were only waiting in the bread line. For some reason that pissed me off further.

Now I have two reasons now to get out of here. I silently whispered a promise to Detro as I stepped in front of Tesorian. I swore I would deliver his message and get his family along with Zytriana off this cursed land.

Tesorian stepped forward and it’s like I was not in control of my own body. My rage took over and I found myself running to meet him halfway. He swung at me and my body automatically dodged. I grabbed his arm to throw him over my back. When he hit the platform he rolled over and got to his feet.

He landed a punch to my shoulder that I didn’t move quick enough to avoid, but I barely felt it. My left hand held his arm hostage and I threw a quick jab with my right to his elbow joint and felt it give way. A satisfying pop filled the air along with Tesorian screaming in pain.

While I had him distracted​, I drove a hard kick to his face. I heard his nasal bone crack and blood started flowing out of his eyes. As he fell, I knew this fight was over because I seen the outline where his nose bone had jutted into his brain.

Jyrixi called the fight, “Winner, Zakyrik, death by bone impalement to the brain! Now that’s a new one we haven’t seen yet! This battle was short, but man was it entertaining!”

All of a sudden my adrenaline from my hot temper melted as I realized that I just took another life. Dammit! I know there’s no way around it, but that doesn’t help how I feel about this.

The terrible scenes were showing up in my head as if I was receiving a play by play in slow motion. I cracked his elbow or maybe I broke it, not really sure. In the end, my kick made his nose bone drive into his skull.

To my horror, I came to the realization that I enjoyed it. I relished taking my anger from Cicatrix out on this man. My common sense reared its ugly head unbidden, yet again, if you wouldn’t have killed him, he would have killed you, then how would you get Zytriana out of here? Not to mention you made a promise to poor Detro!

With a heavy sigh I boxed these feelings up to deal with after I got to my room. In shaking my head, my eyes drifted to Xori. She had a look of shock and disgust on her face as she stared at me. Yeah, well you aren’t the only one who feels that way, princess, so get in line.

As I was being escorted off, I heard Jyrixi announce that tomorrow was the semi-finals, the last two matches before the final battle. This nightmare is almost over, I thought, until my heart dropped into my stomach when I remembered I had to take another life tomorrow. Even worse, if I survive that, Cicatrix will be waiting for me.

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