My horses were trotting along at an unhurried pace. Even though my heart was about to beat out of my chest, I had to keep up an unsuspicious facade or else I’d draw attention. I had to retain the appearance of returning to the estate to grab some items I’d forgotten before I return to the penthouse.
The stadium came within view and I pulled on the reins to stop my horses. I needed to be far enough away to not be spotted by anyone, but close enough to be able to run here with the girl and swiftly drive away unnoticed. It’s going to be tricky, but I feel confident this will work.
As I neared the cellar I was elated to not see Trevalo’s coach anywhere. This is a good sign. He must still be sulking in his penthouse about losing ten thousand gold pieces.
Covering my mouth, I almost laughed out loud at remembering his face when Zakyrik decapitated his opponent and he realized he lost the bet to Maesoli. Illyo threw down his hat and stomped on it before storming out of the box seat. Maesoli, however, was jumping for joy at the change in his luck. Serves Trevalo right for trying to take advantage of him.
He was certain Zakyrik was going to fight the way he commanded when the warrior has proven time and time again he will not obey any of them. This time proved no different. He does not bend to authority.
My heart sped up even faster when Zakyrik’s face popped into my head. My fleeting desire for him has surprisingly evolved into a longing of adrenaline-fueled need to find out how he kisses. My face blushed the crimson color of our family crest as I entered the cellar.
To my dismay, I heard the voices before I made it to them. It sounded like a guard had been sent to carry out Trevalo’s threat. Of course there has! I cursed under my breath.
Cowardly Trevalo sent a guard to do his dirty work. He considers himself above menial tasks like this. But upon arriving to the moonlit former stockroom, I seen my previous thought was wrong. The guard was leaning against the wall in front of Zakyrik, who was in a cage.
He wasn’t here to kill the girl, he was here to make sure Zakyrik didn’t get out in the process. I recognized the guard immediately and to my relief he was the newest member. Getting him to leave will be easy because he has not been here long enough to learn all of my father’s rules.
After I demanded for him to leave us so I could speak to Zakyrik alone, the guard scurried to the entrance of the cellar. Zakyrik was eyeing me with a look of both wonder and trepidation. I assured him I was here only to free his cousin and she would be perfectly safe from Trevalo with me. He glanced over at a cage covered with a tarp, showing me where she was so I immediately raced over and pulled it off.
There was a beautiful, young girl lying crumpled on the floor. She had Zakyrik’s facial features, but her hair was a brilliant blonde, just a shade or two darker than mine. She’s absolutely stunning. I gently picked her up, surprised that she weighed next to nothing, and laid her by Zakyrik’s cage, who instantly reached out to make sure she was alive.
This place used to be a full working storage chamber so there was a switch to lower a section of the wall around here on the floor somewhere. After kicking around some crates and hay I found it. Luckily the door lowered silently.
A new plan formed in my head as I picked her up. I would lay her on the hay bales outside the door and leave through the entrance, doubling back to pick her up afterwards. I’m hoping against hope that young guard is the only one around right now.
After making sure she was comfortable I returned to Zakyrik and raised the wall, winking at him in the process. Zakyrik looked so thankful he had tears forming in his eyes. I wanted to walk forward and wipe them away, assuring him there was no reason to cry, but before I could will my body to move, the guard’s footsteps were heard heading to us.
He entered the chamber looking scared and uncertain. He knew he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he defied Trevalo he would be punished and if he disobeyed a Tamminalin he would die. I took this opportunity as my chance to leave as I got one more quick look at Zakyrik, who was still looking at me like I was an archangel.
Zakyrik’s cousin was just where I left her, undisturbed and unnoticed. I picked up her lithe frame and carted her off around the stadium to the cellar entrance. Unfortunately I had to pass back by there again to get to my coach.
As I neared the entrance, however, I had to duck down with her in the shadows as I heard the galloping of hooves on the stone pathway. Someone was coming and I had a suspicion of who. The horses came to a stop just a few feet from where we were.
My heart had leapt into my throat as I tensed up, trying not to make a sound. I didn’t even dare breathe. I held her tightly to me as if I was shielding her from an attack.
A coach door slammed and a curse was muttered. As soon as I heard the voice I knew it was him. The door to the cellar opened and a second later it closed. I sat there frozen, biding my time until the moment I could run.
After a few minutes I decided it was now or never. Rising slowly from my hiding spot, I carefully adjusted her in my arms and crept along the side of his coach opposite from the cellar entrance, just in case the door opened again. After I made it past the end of Trevalo’s coach, I broke out into a sprint, the fastest one I could muster while wearing heels and carrying a small teenage girl.
Sweat was rolling off me as I reached my coach. The horses were still standing there, waiting patiently, like I had never left. I made a mental note to reward Lon for training our horses so properly as I didn’t even have to tie them up to make them stay.
Single-handedly, I opened the door to my coach and climbed up inside it, shutting it behind me. I laid her down as if she were an infant and covered her up with my lavender cloak. Brushing the hair off her face, I gasped when I felt her skin temperature.
Poor girl was freezing. I’m sure she’s sick, not to mention probably in shock. The sooner I get her to my room, the better.
Trevalo is a hideous beast, just like my father. I remembered the announcement he made at the end of the match today and my blood instantly started boiling.
Zakyrik was led off the platform as Jyrixi got everyone’s attention. “Your benevolent Lord Vyron has a special announcement for the final battle here in two days. Without further ado, let’s give our undivided attention to your leader of this beloved competition!”
The crowd clapped and cheered as father stood up and waved at everyone. I held my stomach to stop my breakfast from coming up. I knew he was about to tell them what the winner’s extra prize would be.
Cicatrix was standing in the VIP box looking smug. He glanced over at me, winked and looked back at my father. I almost lost it right there.
Father was in his natural element as he stood at his full height, “My good people of Evanyl, how did you enjoy the addition of the weapons in the match today?” A deafening roar shot across the stadium as father’s question was answered. Of course they loved it. Did he honestly expect any other reaction?
He smiled wide, like a crocodile about to bite, “Wonderful! I was hoping you would! Well I have another surprise to add, just one more thing if you please.”
The cheers tapered off as the stadium became silent, hanging on to father’s every word. “The winner of the competition has always gotten freedom and riches to their heart’s desire, but this time I’m throwing in something else to make the prize more sweet. The winner gets to pick one of my stunningly beautiful daughters to take on as their wife.”
There were gasps around the stands and at first I thought they were as appalled by the idea as I was, but I should have known better. Their love for my father surpasses any human decency they could have within their souls. The deafening roar came back tenfold.
Xera stood up waving and blew a kiss at Cicatrix. He forced a smile and nodded at her. I already knew Xera was going to snap when she realized that her days of warming his bed was in its final stretch. I would rather gouge both my eyes out with a blunt stick than take her place.
Zakyrik had already been taken in the direction of the cellar before this declaration was made. I vaguely wondered if Trevalo was telling him the exciting new prize up for grabs and more importantly what the warrior thought about it. Father stepped down from the podium and I bid him good day. He thought I was going to my penthouse with Jyrixi. This is exactly what I need him to keep thinking.
Shaking my head to clear the disturbing memory, I focused back on Zakyrik’s cousin. Knowing I didn’t need to stay here any longer with her, I turned around to go out of the coach when I heard a soft gasp, “Who are you? Where am I?”
Slowly I faced her, not wanting to alarm her any farther, “I’m a friend of Zakyrik and I’m going to take you somewhere safe. I know you are confused, scared and upset, but I need you to trust me, alright?” She nodded, but the look on her face told me she was lying.
Smiling, I assured her, “It’s easier said than done to trust a stranger, especially after what you’ve been through, but it’s going to be fine. I promise. Just sit tight, lock this door behind me and no matter what happens or what you hear, do not open this door for anyone except me.”
My adrenaline was still in full swing when I hopped down and shut the door. A second more and I heard the click from the lock. That was my cue to clamber up the driver’s seat and rush to my penthouse.
The penthouses came into view and my breath that I didn’t realize I was holding finally released itself from my lungs. We were going to make it. She was going to be safe.
As I parked I was contemplating if I could just walk her right in or if I need to pull the cloak down over her, but before I could come up with a good plan I heard a familiar voice calling me. “Girl, I’ve been waiting on you to come back since I left the stadium! We have two days, just me and you!” It was Jyrixi.