The knocking on my door accompanied by some wailing woke me from my deep sleep. It did not surprise because I knew who it was, but I just wasn’t used to this until after the tournament was over and Cicatrix went back to his land. He must have called her a nasty name or something, I thought to myself as I opened the door before Xera woke everyone in the manor up, namely our father.
Teetering side to side, she was obviously inebriated. Make-up and eyeshadow were running down her face while she was sipping from one of father’s liquor bottles he keeps in the parlor downstairs. “He threw me out and had the nerve to call me a whore! Can you believe that? Me, a whore?”
Imagine that, I thought. She stumbled past me and almost sloshed the liquor on the bed, which would have made me angry. “Well, Cicatrix is an ass, but you run right to him every year. I’m sorry he hurt your feelings, but drowning your problems in alcohol is never the answer.”
Taking a deep breath, I tried to quell my irritation. I was getting short with her because I knew this tirade was going to go on all night and I would get no sleep. She sniffed and sat up, “Oh you are such a child, Xori! Shows what you know! I wasn’t talking about Cicatrix, I meant Trevalo!”
Biting my tongue before I told her that she had so many boyfriends that she needed to specify, and damn if it wasn’t the truth, instead I softly asked, “So why are you here tonight, Xera?” She closed her eyes and didn’t answer me for a good five minutes. I thought she passed out until her eyes shot open and a slurred harangue spilled from her mouth.
Everything was jumbled together so much that it took me a while to make sense of her ranting. She kept sniffling and mumbling about how all men are the same so she should just give up on them altogether, to which I had to stop a snide remark from coming out of my mouth, and continued to look sympathetic. Xera give up on men? I’ll believe that when father grants me permission to leave Evanyl and he becomes a priest.
Just when I was side stepping to my chair to get comfortable, she made my heart almost stop when she mumbled, “...threw me out all because of a kidnapping plan of his stupid warrior’s family member! Who cares? I’m deceitful, right? Yes, I am!”
She took another swig, then pointed the bottle at me, like it was her finger, “I’m resourceful, right? Yes, exactly! So it stands to reason that I could’ve helped hide her or something, but whatever, only the big boys can play! Well just wait until I’m in charge!” She then leaned back to drink her bottle again, but instead tumbled off the bed.
My heart went from almost stopped, to full on rapid palpitations, making it hard to keep my voice even, “Xera, why did he throw you out again?” She tried to stand up and fell back on her back side, “And he called me a whore, don’t forget that!” I steadied my temper, and continued through gritted teeth, “Yes, yes how could he? The nerve of some people, but really why did he make you leave and what did he not want you apart of?”
She mumbled incoherently for a minute while she propped herself against my nightstand by the bed, then I could finally understand her again, “Well I’m not supposed to tell anyone, but you know what,” she hiccupped, “I don’t care! I’ve even got half a mind to go tell Cicatrix all because he told me not to! It will serve him right!”
Xera ran a hand down her face, smearing her already ruined makeup even more, “He paid some jerk to kidnap the gorgeous warrior Zakyrik’s cousin for leverage to make him fight the way Trevalo commands him to. If Zakyrik doesn’t give him a brutal battle tomorrow during the semi-finals, then that little peasant girl dies. Ya know what’s even worse than him throwing me out? He said he would keep me if I wasn’t such a...such a...whore!” She wailed and the liquor bottle dropped to the floor spilling out the rest of it’s contents while she cried into her hands.
Well, at least it wasn’t on my sheets. “It’s okay, Xera, I’m here. Let’s get you on the bed so you don’t pass out in the floor, alright?” Surprisingly, she didn’t try to fight me and let me help her on the bed, then I waited about fifteen more minutes before her cries turned into soft snores before I left my room. If Trevalo really had Zakyrik’s cousin, then he needed to know.
As quiet as possible I crept down the stairs toward where his room was only to be stopped by two guards, “Miss Tamminalin, what are you doing up this late?” I was already annoyed, thanks to my sister, so it wasn’t hard to muster up the courage to talk to them the way father taught us, “Well seeing how this is my house I think I can sleep whenever I want and walk wherever I please!” I hated talking to them or anyone else like that, like I was above them, but father demanded it and we don’t go against him. I also didn’t want it to look obvious where I was going in case someone had noticed I’d frequently came this way lately.
They bowed, “Of course, Miss Tamminalin, but you see your father has made this a restricted section for anyone else other than himself and the sponsors.” I huffed, “Since when?” They bowed again, “Since a few days ago.”
When Trevalo took over. That jerk made it so I can’t warn Zakyrik. Now what?
“Fine, I have plenty of other areas I can take my nightly walks to.” I turned on my heels and stalked off to my room.
Xera was still snoring when I returned. I rung the bell as quietly as possible for my handmaid because I needed her help cleaning up Xera. Senna sleepily, but hastily strolled into my room, “Yes, Miss Xori?” I pointed at Xera and said, “I’m sorry to wake you at this late hour, but I need your help washing her face and getting her into night clothes.”
Senna smirked, “Ah, who called her a tramp this time?” I shushed her, but smiled, “Trevalo.” She giggled, then went to work wetting washcloths and went to Xera’s room to get a night gown.
It took us a great effort to get the pounds of make-up off her face because she caked on so much. Equally as frustrating, her dead weight due to her being passed out made it extremely hard to get her undressed. Finally, Xera was presentable and all she had to do tomorrow was get herself ready.
“Thank you so much! Please, sleep in tomorrow morning. I can get myself ready okay?”
But she shook her head, “You know as well as I do what will happen if Lord Vyron catches me in bed after sunrise.” She bowed and walked back to the small opening by my door that led to her room. My tyrannical father is way too hard on the staff. They are extremely overworked and vastly underpaid.
Walking out onto my balcony, I let the night chill sink through my bones. It was refreshing, erasing the sleepiness from my form and allowed my head to clear so I could think. Trevalo has Zakyrik’s cousin to hold over his head. I know I swore that I was going to stay away from the warrior, but I cannot let that evil creature kidnap an innocent girl. He will kill her just for spite.
My craziness or stupidity, maybe a mixture of both, must be deeper than I imagined because my next thought was to find the girl tomorrow and help her escape. If, and that’s an enormous IF, I succeed, where will I put her? I can’t let her go home, Trevalo will look there first.
Glancing out over the landscape, my eyes roved over the penthouse suites and came up with an idea. I have my own room over there that I haven’t used in years, and it’s only occupied when I want to spend time with Jyrixi. It’s perfect, because no one would expect to look for her there! She will be comfortable, warm and safe until after the competition is over.
Am I really going to do this? The consequences should I get caught would be too severe to think about, for me and for her. But I have to at least try to help her because no one else will. I can’t live with myself knowing I sat by and did nothing!
Determined to go through with my plan, I laid down next to Xera’s comatose form and rolled over on my side to face my window. The morning sun will wake me and I’ll be dressed by the time it comes up over the horizon. Tomorrow is going to be the day that I finally start taking a stand against this competition.