Stone Warriors

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Chapter 34

Zytriana had been sleeping soundly for the past four hours. In a few minutes the sun will come up over the horizon and everyone will be starting their days. I unfortunately must carry on like normal as well. I’ll go home under the pretense of wanting to eat breakfast with the family to get Zytriana some clothes. I’ll order her breakfast up before I leave and I’ll write her a note explaining where I’ve gone.

I’ll remind her not to answer the door, go near the windows or exit the room. The orange glow of the morning sun’s rays shone underneath a gap in the curtains that I didn’t lower far enough, so I remedied the situation and ordered her breakfast. It took about twenty minutes before the food arrived and that gave me plenty of time to check on Zytriana again plus jot down everything on a notepad for her to see. She may be so tired that she’s going to remain there until I get back.

During the ride through town, I noticed something rather odd. The town square’s execution stage was being set up and there were a huge group of people standing around talking excitedly. This was strange to me because my father prefers to kill in the privacy of his own study. He doesn’t do public deaths unless they benefit him somehow or one of the wealthy request it. Weird.

Gently I pulled on the horses’ reins to signal for them to keep going. I’m sure over breakfast father will not be able to keep this to himself and he’ll tell me what that’s about. I crossed the drawbridge, headed for the stables and seen Lon outside feeding two familiar looking horses. I parked in my normal spot and noticed Trevalo’s coach was next to Xera’s.

Great. I really hope I don’t see that jerk. He better not be joining us for breakfast!

Lon waved at me, “Hi Miss Xori! How are you on this fine morning?” That boyish joy made me smile despite everything happening.

“I am well, dear. How are you? I must thank you properly for how wonderful you have trained the horses. You’ve done an amazing job!”

He blushed slightly, “Oh, it was nothing my lady, just doing my job.” I patted him on the head, “Well you are spectacular at your occupation. Have a good day, Lon.” He beamed and continued feeding Trevalo’s horses.

Setting off across the field to the side entrance, I practiced keeping my face neutral. I tried to keep my heart rate even and my demeanor nonchalant. I kept reminding myself there was no reason to be uptight, this is my house so I’m allowed to be here. I was already halfway up the stairs and the dining room would be right across from where I’d emerge.

I’ll tell father Jyrixi passed out from drinking last night and so that’s why I’m not eating with her. Nothing suspicious about that because Jyrixi does drink quite often, but due to her unique blood, she gets drunk differently than others I’ve seen. She can drink gallons of liquor, sleep two hours or less and wake up perfectly refreshed, no hangover. The men here in Evanyl have said they would pay thousands just to have her ability.

Before I got to the top stair I heard whispered arguing in the hallway, “He was in your room last night, I saw him. Don’t you dare lie to me!” I’d recognize the menace in his voice anywhere, it was Cicatrix.

A frantic voice answered, “It wasn’t what you think, darling I swear. He wanted to know if I knew who stole some possession he had stored in the cellar. I told him I had no idea we even had a cellar and he left, that was all! Please, believe me, I want you and only you!”

That was definitely Xera. Is she talking about Trevalo? Why would he think she would steal from him? Unless he thinks she is the one who took Zytriana?

She wouldn’t do anything like that because it would be too much work firstly, and secondly because it wouldn’t benefit her in any way. Xera is one of the most selfish people I know. Trevalo knows this about her, so that doesn’t make any sense. Our family is not known for their acts of kindness.

Next, I heard a fist hit a wall and Xera whimpered. That’s when I decided to make my presence known. I backed up three steps and stomped up them loudly, so they could hear me without a doubt.

Both of them were staring at me as I came out of the stairwell door. I gave a tight smile, “Good morning, Xera. Cicatrix. Well, I expect father is waiting for us, we should probably hurry in, sister.”

She ducked under Cicatrix’s arm and quickly strolled into the dining room without another look at either of us. That’s how I really knew she was in trouble. If she wasn’t she would have called me a few names and told me to mind my own business.

Cicatrix just smirked, “How sweet. Little sister protecting big sister, but I don’t know why. She wouldn’t have protected you even if you paid her. She’s a sorry excuse for a woman and is only a half useful whore. She’s nothing.”

A heated gleam appeared suddenly appeared in his eyes. “You on the other hand,” he took a step towards me and I took a step back toward the dining room, “there is nothing I wouldn’t do to have you, and coincidentally​ by the end of tomorrow, I will. It won’t be pleasant at first, but over time you’ll learn to accept me as your husband and learn your place. I cannot wait to claim you as my prize.”

He gave me the most terrifying smile I have seen him do. He leaned in to sniff my hair and a sickening moan poured out of his mouth, “Freesias. I hate flowers, but I think I’ve just found a reason to like them. I can’t wait to see what you smell like everywhere else.”

My hands were brushing the wall while he was talking and I felt the door. He was still staring at me as I fled to the dining room. He’ll have me over my dead body, which will easily be arranged before he puts a finger on me.

Father was just sticking his fork in his eggs when I walked in. He beamed, “Ah, there’s my little girl! I wasn’t expecting you, lovely.”

He whipped his head to the maid standing in the corner, “You! Don’t you see my daughter has came to eat? Go in the damn kitchen and bring her plate! Now!”

She scurried off through the kitchen’s swinging doors,. Within seconds I had a plate full of eggs, bacon and toast. The maid then bowed and took her place back in the corner. She would stay there until we were finished or if we needed anything before we were through. I felt awful for being the reason she was yelled at.

Xera sat across from me, barely touching anything. There has been few and far between times that I have felt sorry for Xera. This happens to be one of them.

My attention was pulled away from her when I heard someone at the end of the table clear their throat. I looked down into the cold eyes of Trevalo. He had, as I feared, joined us for breakfast.

He winked at me while smirking. It put chills down my spine. With the next blink of an eye, his face smoothed out as he looked at my father. “So, as you were saying my Lord, this will happen before lunch. Correct?”

Father swallowed his food, “Yes dear boy. However, since my Xori has arrived, I think I shall inform her of today’s event before we continue. It’s rather rude to leave someone in the dark, especially when it comes to my darling girls.”

He took a sip of water and turned to me, “Well my love, it seems Jessuvi has once again screwed up and my patience with the blubbering fool has been exhausted. I’m sure you passed the town square on your way home and seen the stage being set up. I’m going to have him burned, I believe. We’ll see if that fat tub of lard pops and sizzles like when you fry chicken in a skillet.”

Trevalo and Xera roared with laughter. Father smiled and relished their reactions. He thoroughly enjoys the reactions he receives when he speaks.

“What did he do this time?” I inquired. I thought back to when father sent Xera and I to collect the rent payment he was three days late on.

Jessuvi was so scared that he pissed himself. I couldn’t imagine him possibly being so stupid as to get on father’s bad side again. I mean he’s not that stupid. Surely not.

Father’s​ eyes widened in amusement, “Yes, he does blunder quite a lot so I do need to specify. Apparently the warning we gave the fool last time he was late didn’t sink in because yesterday he greatly insulted our family by only sending half of what he owed, all while assuring the guards it was all there. I guess he thought I would take his duplicitous promise and not count it.”

Father shook his head, then a grin full of pride appeared as he turned to Trevalo, “One of Evanyl’s own will die today, but it’s actually a celebration. You see, Trevalo here is going to take over the orchards. He’ll run the lower half of Evanyl while his father...recovers.”

Xera clapped with exuberance while Trevalo bowed his head. I said my congratulations and quickly drank my water before the bile rising in my throat could come up any farther. I knew Axrenorian was dead, but the fact that they were still acting as if he were somewhere resting for his health was nauseating.

“It’s quite lucky you came for breakfast, Xori. I would have had to ride out to your penthouse to tell you the news, but now that you are here, we can all ride together to the execution. I always am happiest when we can arrive to these events as a family!” My father smiled fondly at me like he just gave a heart warming speech.

After breakfast I went to my room to quickly get ready and gather clothes for Zytriana. I was silently thanking all that’s holy I decided to come here this morning otherwise father would have showed up unannounced to fetch me for the execution and found out the real reason I stayed at my penthouse. Senna was already standing in front of my wardrobe when I arrived.

“Welcome home, Miss Xori. The scullery maid informed me you were here. Well, let’s get you looking beautiful for today. A dress the color of a peach will keep you nice and cool as the sun will be directly overhead while you are in the town square, plus the sleeves can be tapered if you would like.”

Senna is always right when it comes to dressing me. When I tried it on indeed it was light and airy. “This is perfect! You always know just what to pick out.”

She nodded, “My job is to make you happy. I’m glad I have done so. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Biting my lip, I contemplated that question. I hate to put this on her, but it will look a lot less suspicious if she put the clothes in the coach instead of me. “I’m staying at my penthouse so I can spend time with Jyrixi before she leaves. Can you grab a couple of outfits and put them in my coach please? I would much greatly appreciate it.”

She smiled, “Of course, anything you need, my lady.” She hurriedly gathered up a few of my dresses and a couple of night gowns then shuffled out the door. It’s nice to have someone I can trust other than Jyrixi.

Father was waiting for Xera and I at the bottom of the grand staircase looking handsome in his black suede suit and matching shoes. My father was begrudgingly good looking, on the exterior anyways. Internally he’s one of the ugliest men I’ve ever seen.

He held his arms out, “My beautiful girls! You both look exquisite! Let us go and see the exciting execution of a wasted life form.”

Xera took one arm and I took the other as he escorted us out to his coach. When we climbed inside I was given another shock, “Why, Trevalo! I didn’t know you were riding with us.”

He smirked, “Well I figured since we were going to the same place and I’m the guest of honor for the day that I would accompany the family to town square.” Guest of honor? Seriously?

My head turned to father and he was beaming, “Yes, just another one of my brilliant ideas, dearest. Everyone in Evanyl hates Jessuvi, and who can blame them, right? Before his demise I thought I would make a surprise announcement that we have a new owner of the peasants, our special guest, Trevalo.”

Only my father would turn an execution into an adoration party. Trevalo is very popular here and everyone will be pleased that he’s in charge now. All except me anyways.

Town was packed with men, women and children of all ages heading into the square to watch this grotesque event as if they couldn’t get enough blood shed in the competition. We neared the square and the crowd parted, recognizing father’s coach. They let us through to the eastern side where we could park.

When father opened the door, cheers erupted around us. He waved at them then turned to help Xera and I out. Trevalo came out behind us and the clamor of the surrounding crowd’s cries of joy echoed around us again. Trevalo held his hand up and ate up the attention.

A path was made through the throng of people that led to our seats in the very front of the execution stage. I haven’t seen this repulsive contraption since I was fourteen. A pyre was set up inside a dip in the stage creating a fire pit that would only burn the body, not the stage itself.

The difference between the competition and public deaths is that these were created for humiliation, thus a quick death, normally by beheading. Today though, Jessuvi will be burned alive because father took this gyp payment personal. Jessuvi will be made fun of, jeered and then lit on fire.

This will be a lesson for all those that dare defy the great Lord Vyron. I rolled my eyes at this thought and crossed my arms, hoping this doesn’t take too long so I can get back to Zytriana. Surely she’ll sleep in late.

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