Stone Warriors

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Chapter 33

Trying to wrap my head around what that guard told me in the cellar is giving me a severe headache beyond the conventional means. He was mistaken, obviously. Surely it was not mousy, little Xori? Although my body tightens at the thought of punishing her for it and fully making her mine, it’s just not feasible that she could pull this off.

Now Xera has the audacity, especially since I threw her out the other night. If it was her I could just ride over, apologize and she’d give me the girl back. I would just lie to her and promise I would include her in my plans from now on. Not hardly, but she only needs to be appeased right this second.

As a matter of fact, that idiot guard would have had to get it wrong. There’s no way Xori was there. It had to be Xera. I’m going to bring a bottle of strawberry wine to her room and smooth this over right now.

“What are you talking about, you inconsiderate prick?” Xera snarled at me. Apparently she’s still pissed about the other night.

“Now, now dear, there’s no need for name calling. It’s just a simple question, did you or did you not take a particular object belonging to me from the cellar? Just say yes or no.”

She reached over to grab the wine bottle I gave her from the dresser, but I realized where that was about to be aimed at before she could throw it at the appointed target. I lunged at her and knocked her off the bed as the bottle smashed against the wall where my head was a few seconds ago. I pinned her arms to the floor as she struggled against me, calling me every name under the sun.

Finally after a while she tired out and just glared at me with as much hatred as she could muster. “Are you through? Is everything out of your system?”

She was still angry looking, but gave a sharp nod. “Good. Now listen closely because I’m only going to ask you one more time, did you remove something of mine that I was keeping in the cellar? I have not had to remind you what disobeying me will get you, but by all means, throw another tantrum and I’ll be more than happy to refresh that memory.”

Huffing out a breath, she looked up at me with sheepish eyes, “You know I didn’t Trevalo. I would never steal from you especially when I know what you are capable of. I didn’t even know we had a cellar. Whatever is missing, I am not the reason it’s gone.”

It took me a second to realize what this meant, and when it sunk in, my whole body froze. Impossible. Xori Tamminalin could not have done this. She doesn’t fit the profile of a kidnapper.

My mind slowly put it together. Not an abductor maybe, but she does fit the description of a rescuer. Damn it!

Jumping up from Xera, I headed for the door when she called out to me, “Don’t I deserve a little something for this? You run in here and accuse me of thievery and find out I’m not the one who was guilty, then just walk out? Without even a kiss goodbye?”

Holding my temper in, I turned to her, “You smell of that scarred-up head case, Cicatrix. You are daft if you think I’m touching you after he’s left his skeevy scent all over your well used womb opening! You want a kiss, go back to his room.”

Screaming in frustration, she threw herself on the bed like a child throwing a temper tantrum. “Reason number two of why I could never make you mine permanently.” I smirked as I slammed her door. Your sister on the other hand...

I’m going to have to play my cards very carefully when I go see him. My reasoning for Zytriana being in the cellar is easy, I can say that she was a one night stand that tried to steal my money while I was sleeping. He won’t ask the girl’s name or if she’s related to any of the warriors after that.

Lord Vyron will want to talk to the guard. That’s fine because he only knew what he saw. He’ll be more help than harm. All her father needs to know is that she was there.

But how to broach the subject? I don’t want Xori hurt because I alone am the only one allowed to make her porcelain skin turn red while watching her submit herself before me. The familiar tightening happened when I pictured Xori on her knees begging for my forgiveness and asking what she needs to do to make it up to me.

It surprised me slightly to see I was already outside his study in no time. Best to just wing it and see what happens. An opportunity like this will not present itself to me again and I intend to take full advantage.

“Unfortunately I’m out of strawberry wine, but if you prefer something stronger I’ve got apricot brandy. I know you’re not a whiskey man.” Lord Vyron gestured to his liquor table and I gladly accept the brandy.

Vyron was in a serious looking conversation with Rox, his personal elite guard when the door was opened for me. Their discussion was put on hold to allow me to explain my plight. However, I withheld the part about the guard telling me it was Xori. I’ll let him bring up her name to Vyron.

Better the guard decapitated than me if Vyron reacts violently, which he is prone to doing, especially since we are about to name his youngest daughter as the offender. I’ll pretend I didn’t believe the guard and that’s why I didn’t mention this tidbit to Vyron, leaving me in the clear of ever knowing Xori’s involvement. It is his word over mine and Vyron will take my side.

After a few seconds of digesting all that I fed him, he sent Rox away immediately to fetch the guard in question. I sat back suppressing a smirk as I sipped from my glass. If all goes well I’ll be able to punish Xori my own way without repercussions on my part.

Lord Vyron gulped down his whiskey, then refilled his glass before he came to sit on the couch across from me. He took another sip and sighed, “Ah Trevalo, my only friend I have left it seems, it’s a sad day when one of your own flesh and blood gets spotted engaging in suspicious activity. Rox and I were just having a chat concerning what one of the estate guards were overheard gossiping about in their training sessions.”

He downed his glass and looked into my eyes, “You see, once a week I send Rox down to the training room to survey the sparring between them. Every now and then he finds one who is worthy of competing for a spot on my elite team. However, yesterday he discovered something a little more unsavory.”

Vyron’s midnight blue eyes turned the color of a stormy night suddenly, “While perusing through the random fights going on throughout the room, he caught wind of a conversation concerning one of the ladies of the house going down into the rooms we were containing the warriors in. This lady was particularly keen to visit your warrior’s domain, of course this was when your father owned Ruequal and your tightened security measures around him were not in place yet. Rox demanded the guard repeat himself just to make sure the big mouth was heard correctly and it seems Rox’s ears unfortunately were not deceived. One of my daughters have been seen visiting your warrior.”

With difficulty I forced a look of indifference upon my face, when all I wanted to do was scream with rage at the thought of Ruequal alone with Xori. “Well, my Lord, I’m sure it was only Miss Xera tormenting him as he is the only real competition Cicatrix has. She has always loved harassing the poor and helpless.”

Vyron nodded sadly, “Yes if it was Xera they were mentioning it would be different, but it wasn’t her. It was Xori. That’s what is troubling me as of now. It’s not escaped me that my youngest is not as fond of the competition as I’d like for her to be, but she’s still my daughter.”

Continuing my acting, I feigned a look of shock and unbelief, to which he nodded his head in agreement. “This is most disturbing because it makes me wonder what she could be up to. She’s never took an interest in the warriors before, so what has changed this time? I just cannot come up with a reason that’s not too far-fetched my dear Trevalo. None at all.”

He ran a hand down his face and I was shocked to see him looking haggard and older than he was. A few moments passed and neither of us broke the silence, only drank to our heart’s content. When Rox was granted permission to enter the study with the guard about to be questioned, the amiable atmosphere changed suddenly into a much more sinister one.

“Tell us once more what happened, and for your sake I hope this time your memory serves you better.” Rox demanded as he roughly jerked the guard’s head around by his hair to face Lord Vyron. The boy looked like he was going to be sick. It’s his own fault!

The halfwit originally skipped the part where he seen Xori. That was the most important puzzle piece missing to make my plan complete and he almost ruined it. If they don’t kill him, I will later.

When Vyron asked him to repeat himself, the guard forgot the original story he told and thus stated a much different tale than the first. In the beginning, he said he went to go relieve his bladder and only left Zakyrik in the cellar alone for a few seconds. The next story was one of fiction as well as he recited a moment when he heard a commotion outside the cellar and he gallantly ran onward to find the source of the noise. He thought it was a thief or whatnot and was going to apprehend them all by his lonesome.

The guard realized he messed up when Vyron wordlessly nodded to Rox, who punched the guard in the stomach and while he was bent forward, kneed him in the nose, spraying blood everywhere. The fool. He’s going to screw up everything!

The guard spat blood out of his mouth as he quickly apologized to Lord Vyron, “I’m sorry, my Lord, I didn’t want to tell you the truth because I was scared of what would happen to me! The only reason I left my post was because your daughter sir, Miss Xori, ordered me away while she delivered a message from you. I swear I never seen another girl and Miss Xori left by herself within a few minutes later. I promise that’s the full truth this time!”

Lord Vyron turned swiftly to me, “Trevalo, my friend, did he relay this part of the story to you?” I could see in his eyes that if he knew I kept this vital part out as well it would not end very pleasantly for me, so naturally, I lied, “My Lord, you know if this was the case I would have told you straight away. This is news to me, I assure you.”

The guard’s eyes widened as he stammered, “But, but.. Master Trevalo, I did tell you, don’t you remember? I told you as soon as you asked me where the girl was and I told you the only one I seen in the cellar was Miss Xori! Please, tell him! Please, sir!”

Miffed, I shook my head, feeling no remorse for whatever fate awaited him. After all, this invalid almost undone everything within the first moment he opened his mouth. “Enough!” Lord Vyron thundered.

He threw his glass of whiskey in the fire place. The flames blazed high and hot as they grew, almost scorching the ceiling. Vyron jerked his assassination sword off it’s rack and with one quick, clean swipe the guard’s head was severed from his body, then rolled around the couch, out of site.

He wiped the blood off of his sword and replaced it in it’s holder on the mantle. Lord Vyron poured himself another glass of whiskey and sat down on the same spot in front of me that he was before, acting like nothing ever happened. Rox stood in his position by the fireplace, headless corpse thrown in the corner, forgotten for the moment.

This is the power I crave. To have men under my command, thousands of subjects who worship me and countless women whenever I want, even though there is only one that has my attention at the moment. This is why I wish Vyron was my father and not worthless Axrenorian.

But, water under the bridge I guess. Slowly I’m attaining what I want, and soon I’ll be Vyron’s​ right hand man. As long as this keeps going like it has been.

After a few sips of his whiskey, he waves a hand, “Well now we have somewhat of an idea what happened to your little tramp you had caged up. That cellar is so dark that when the girl was actually loose, it would have been easy for her to slip by that lummox. I’m not sure how he passed the test to become a guard anyway. He wasn’t particularly bright, was he?”

Clasping his hands together, he lounged back against a couch cushion, “Oh well, I guess all we can do now is ask Xori her side, which I will do as soon as she gets back from visiting Jyrixi. I’m not sure what phase she is going through, what with being a vigilante to that girl, but I’m sure I can reverse it, one way or another. So Trevalo, has your inquiry of your missing whore been fulfilled to your satisfaction? I can also stick some of my best men on the task of finding the runaway, if you wish?”

Damn. I need to get my mission back on track. “Yes sir, you were outstanding, thank you so very much! However, I don’t want you to lose part of your guard looking for my stray while their talents can be used elsewhere. Surely this can wait until after the tournament.”

I’m getting good at the kissing ass game. “But if I could ask a favor, my lord, could I be present while you question her? I am most curious to why she would risk being punished for a lesser? She’s such a reserved and quiet young lady so I’m not sure if she was coerced or trying to get attention.”

Vyron shrugged, “I guess we will find out later. Now, it’s serendipitous you showed up tonight because I have some business to discuss. It could change things for the better on your account if you agree to the terms I’m about to present you.”

My heart leapt in my chest. Whatever he’s offering, it sounds like an upgrade on my part. Slowly my ascent to power is in motion. “Of course, sir. Whatever you need, I’m your man.”

He chuckled at this, “You don’t even know what I’m offering yet! Ah, so young and eager! You remind me of, well me, when I was your age. I expect great things from you, Trevalo!”

He reached over and clapped me on the shoulder, “I have a favor to ask, especially since it’s obvious you have much better control of Ruequal than your predecessor. Just hear me out. Zakyrik was the last male of his bloodline as you know, and was supposed to be from the start my key to the money I needed to expand Evanyl. My focus is the giant’s territory to the west of here. Imagine, next competition giants competing!

But like I said, we’ve discussed all this. You know my plans. I needed the warrior strong enough to make our outside sponsors bet against Cicatrix, leaving me millions after my champion wins. There has been a slight flaw as of late, though.

Zakyrik, as I have noticed, has gotten a lot stronger. Cicatrix has figured this out, too because the other night I caught him in the training room, something he hasn’t done since his first competition. He was such a scrawny thing then. I will tell you I was at a loss for words when he won because I had already assumed I had picked the wrong warrior.

Anyways, my point is, if Cicatrix is worried then I should be worried. You see, if by some miracle Zakyrik wins, all my plans will go down in smoke. But if I was to, ah, tweak the results a bit then I’ll have no anxiety about the final battle’s outcome.

I’m going to Jyrixi after our meeting and ask her to go along with the match being thrown. This is going to go against everything she’s ever stood for, but it’s necessary and I think she’ll come around to it. I need you to not give Zakyrik all of his healing vial the morning of the competition after his lessons that way Cicatrix is a sure thing.”

Opening my mouth to argue, Vyron held up a hand to stop me, “Now, before you get upset, I’m not asking you to do this for free of course. I’m offering you all the poor land of Evanyl, the orchards included. That eyesore Jessuvi has grossed me out just by living and breathing long enough. I’ll order his execution in the morning and the land outside of town will all be yours to do with as you please.

And to sweeten the deal, you will never have to pay me not a damn cent for it. Ever. So what do you say, throw the match to be the master of all the peasants, keeping all the money they earn or try your luck at your warrior defeating Cicatrix?”

My temper was held in check as I thought this over. He was pretty much asking me to let all my hard work with Ruequal go to pot, but owning all the lower half of Evanyl, and not having to pay a dime for it was too magnificent to pass up. I’ll have the peasants as my slaves and I’ll get my riches and power like I wanted. The option became easy for me.

No longer did I want to be known as the sponsor of the man who defeated Cicatrix, I now was looking forward to being Trevalo the task master of the poor. After the tournament, I’ll be wealthy enough to ask for Xori’s hand and she will not have a say in our union. I’ll finally be able to make her mine and play out my every fantasy I’ve ever had of her. We shook hands and the deal was sealed over another apricot brandy.

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