Stone Warriors

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Chapter 37

Well, it has finally happened, Xori has lost her ever-loving mind. I suppose I should be thankful that she’s held onto her sanity as long as she had, especially considering that nefarious house she has to live in. It’s a shame that a girl with such an unblemished soul was born to that evil family.

Though I must admit, I’m impressed. I watched her grow up and I knew there was a heart of a lion inside her somewhere. She discovered her roar when she saved that poor girl from Trevalo, then she brought her to the penthouse and is fiercely protecting her. But this, is an unquestionable display of her head first dive into full blown crazy!

My mouth gaped open when I glanced down from the living room window in my penthouse, which overlooks the stadium, and I see her tiny butt sneaking into the back half where the cellar is. By all that is golden, she’s going to see that boy! There could only be one explanation other than she’s mental, she’s in love!

The happiness I felt for her turned to terror within an instant. If her father finds out she has an interest in a lower class man, much less a warrior that is still competing, he’ll kill him with his own bare hands. Xori will never get to leave the estate ever again, not to mention how else he’ll punish her. What if he locks her away in the top floor like he did to her mother?

Vyron will be seething mad if he finds out his wild card has been distracted. I overheard Vyron’s plans the first day I came back. He’s a genius businessman, but he’s also a psychopath. That’s what makes him so deadly, he is good at being both.

The plan he made has worked, as the favorable vote goes to Zakyrik since the last fight. Most of the bets are swaying toward him defeating Cicatrix and if Zakyrik falls, Vyron will pull in enough profit to buy out the giant’s territory. He even has dreams of forcing them to compete in this blasphemy he calls a competition.

The giants are gentle creatures and detest violence. They steer clear of the borders around Evanyl just in case they are spotted, that’s how scared they are of Vyron finding them. I’ve became very good friends with them over the years and I’ll be damned if he thinks he can persecute any of their kind without dealing with me first.

Unbridled anger swept through me as I remembered the first day I came here. I inquired the position of the competition’s announcer, which I honestly had no interest whatsoever, but it was how I gained permanent access in and out of the borders. Vyross was more than pleased to have me, especially because that perverted man liked to rake his eyes all over my body anytime I was in the room, but they needed a hostess immediately.

A penthouse room with a view of the stadium, permission to enter the Tamminalin Estate when need be and unlimited border access were just a few of the perks that came with that simple job. The first day of the competition I acted excited by the copious amounts of blood spilled and called out what I seen, that was it. Apparently I did a stupendous job because I was given the position permanently. I accepted because it was imperative to my real objective that I be allowed into the estate at all hours.

Over thirty excruciating years have gone by and I’m no closer to finding them than the first day I started. I know they are here still and I know their whereabouts are somewhere in that estate. Frustration welled up at the realization that I’d been failing for this long of a time.

The one and only good thing about Evanyl, is Xori. I had watched her grow up with this light that would always shine within her no matter what mood she happened to be in. I found myself spending my free time here with her and we grew close. She’s been the closest thing to a sister a girl could ever ask for and my best friend, even though I’m fifty years older than her.

She tells me everything and I can only tell her half truths. It tears my heart up to not be able to tell her who my family really is, and they are definitely not competition enthusiasts like I originally informed her. If she ever knew who I was and what I was actually here for, it would put her in danger and I’ll never let that happen to that sweet girl. One day I’m going to rescue them though, and on that day I’ll tell Xori everything.

Speaking of the little head case, I watched her open the cellar door and disappear inside. Silently, I began praying no one else was seeing the same scene. I know love can make you do seriously stupid things, but damn Xori!

Shaking my head, I popped open a bottle of dark liquor, not bothering to read the label. At first I was going to pour some in a cup, but thought better of it and just sipped from the bottle, contemplating how in the world she fell for the warrior to begin with. I mean he is good looking, but what has got her going on a late night rescue mission and rendezvous?

She’s going to be devastated if he dies. She’s finally interested in boys and she picks the one that’s off limits. Typical. Then again, I guess there is something about the forbidden that creates an almost animalistic need to possess it.

My internal rambling was interrupted by a knock. I hope it’s not who I think it is. The door swings open on its hinges and Vyron graces me with his presence. Damn it with hellfire!

Silently I said a prayer to whoever is listening that Xori is still inside that cellar, out of the line of sight from the window behind me. I poured him a cup and he took it without a second thought. Whatever this ass wants I’m hoping he makes it quick and gets out right after.

“My dear Jyrixi, after tomorrow I’m afraid I’ll not be seeing you for another five years. Dreadful circumstances. So how’s you and Xori’s bonding time going? Is she here? I thought since you were spending time together she would be with you now?”

This was Vyron’s way of fishing for information without straight up asking for it. I knew that Xori had been telling him she had been with me this whole time and I have no problem covering for her. Like I told her before, I have her back no matter what.

“You actually just missed her. She left about fifteen minutes ago to her penthouse. She’s ordering food for us and I came by to get a drink plus bring a few more bottles with me for the night, but if you need her then she should be there by now.” Hopefully that will placate him and he won’t go actually check on her. Not sure what I’ll do to distract him if he does that, unless I knock him out, which there would be no greater pleasure in the world right now.

Vyron took another drink and smiled, “No that won’t be necessary. I came here to speak to you anyways. But just for the record, last night was Xori with you the whole time?”

Nope, she kind of left and went on a liberation mission. “Well yeah, I’m not going to see her for five whole years so I practically chained her to my side until I passed out, then I woke to a note telling me she went to join you for breakfast.” I checked on Zytriana this morning after Xori left and seen the note for her. “By the way, sorry I missed Jessuvi’s execution. I hated that guy.” That was no lie. I did despise that fat, greasy bastard.

On observation of his reaction, I was relieved that he seemed appeased. “Yes you’ll be even more sorry when you hear the details about the glorious view of seeing his face melt off! He popped and sizzled like bacon in a frying pan! It was the most refreshing sight I’ve lain my eyes on in quite a while!”

Pouring him another glass, “I’m jealous already. So why have you come to visit me, Vyron? I know a man such as yourself has no time for friendly visits, although I am happy you dropped by.” Not really. I’d be happier if he dropped dead.

He relaxed into his business pose now that the inquiry of Xori’s whereabouts was over, “Jyrixi, you have been a loyal friend of the family, and a superb referee for quite some time now, correct? So it’s safe to say we are friends, and friends do favors for one another, right?” For a second I thought we were still on the subject of Xori, until he continued after I nodded and narrowed my eyes warily.

“Because I want you to make sure that Zakyrik urchin gets disqualified, distracted or something to where his end result is death. Cause a commotion to where Cicatrix can rip his head off. Anything, I don’t care what.”

My eyes widened. I knew of the reason his death was important, for the monetary compensation he’ll get for the expansion project to the giant’s territory, but I couldn’t tell him I knew that because I’m a damn good eavesdropper. Could he know about Xori’s interest in Zakyrik? No, surely not or else the warrior wouldn’t be so easily accessible to her. He would be heavily guarded in the estate somewhere.

Carefully, I opted for another approach. “Why? What’s this warrior to you?”

Vyron drained his glass, grimacing, and went to go stand at my window. The banners with Cicatrix’s scarred form on one, and Zakyrik’s flawless form on the other, hung on either side of the entrance to the stadium. My heart stopped for a second, silently willing Xori to stay in the damn cellar or please already be far gone from anywhere near your father’s hawk eyes!

Vyron was glaring down menacingly at Zakyrik’s banner, “Never you mind that, just do it.” I bit back a ‘kiss my ass’ retort and took a big gulp of liquor, letting the burn kill those words. I have to proceed with extreme care here. After I composed myself, I went to stand next to him and delicately chose my response.

“Vyron I’m going to say this in the nicest way possible. I think you forget a lot of the time that I don’t actually work for you, but this tournament. I’m not one of your guard or subjects.”

He surprisingly didn’t say anything, just continued to snarl down at Zakyrik’s banner, so I kept going, “That being said, I’ve done plenty I’m not proud of and I know that a man doesn’t get this far in life,” I gestured out to the town, “by honesty and hard work. There is a big amount of dirty, low down cheating involved and I know that better than you think. However, whatever this boy has done to you, whatever reason you want him dead more than you’ve ever wanted any contestant to die, I’d rather not be a part of it.”

Eyes that should only exist in a nightmare rounded on me, but I stopped him, “I’m not going to help your cause, but I’m not going to hinder it either. Your secret is, as always, safe with me. That being said, if you were to stick me in the VIP box with you, I will only be announcing the match. So maybe find a referee that you can pay off to do what you want...Oh damn, that’s considering helping you isn’t it?” I choked down bile and faked a sly smile at Vyron, causing him to laugh.

He reached over and clapped me on my shoulder, “Thank you my friend. I always love how deviously clever you are. I’ll make arrangements immediately and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Vyron looks down at Zakyrik’s banner and all out growls before leaving.

Relieved, I took another swig and sighed as he shut the door. What did I just do? Putting the glass back up to my lips, I surveyed the banner Vyron was openly detesting and almost spit out my drink. There was Xori standing in front of Zakyrik’s banner looking forlorn and crying. Dammit! Now her father definitely knows!

After a few hours of Xori telling me the details of what happened in the cellar, and consoling her after I mentioned her father’s visit, she finally calmed down so she could form a coherent sentence. “I don’t understand. Is he the only one who’s figured it out?” My heart was physically breaking for her. It’s not fair that she was born a Tamminalin and exposed to this much pain.

“Quite possibly. Your sister will never notice because she’s too busy sleeping with anyone who has a wallet bigger than his IQ, but your father has most definitely figured it out. Heed my words, Xori. Your emotions for Zakyrik will be plainly written on your face tomorrow no matter how much you try to hide them. You’re in love, that’s the strongest feeling in the universe, and it can’t be faked or covered up with a weaker one of hate or indifference. Your father not only wants him dead now, but he will not rest until Cicatrix bleeds every drop of blood from Zakyrik, right in front of you to prove a point. He is going to show you that he’s in charge of your life, not you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Please, if by some miracle he does win, run off with him and don’t look back. If not, I fear that your father will retaliate by taking his frustrations out on the only person he can, you.”

She held her hand over her heart and cried even more, “You are right. What about Zytriana? What’s going to happen to her?”

Honestly I didn’t want to think about what was going to happen to Xori after Cicatrix wins, but it’s no secret that a person can only leave Evanyl when Vyron allows it. If you try to leave without permission you die. But when the tournament is over and I leave, the border will be open until the guests here pass through. I got an idea.

“Do you think you can sneak back into your room tonight and get a few more things? Just basic necessities like you would need for a long journey. In and out, no dawdling. You up for it?”

She looked confused, but nodded. Good. “I need you to go and gather everything you think Zytriana may need for a trip to my land. If all else fails, which I’m hoping against hope it won’t, then I’ll take her with me. If you weren’t tied to your bloodline I’d sneak you out, too. But I think it’s safe to say your father will have you glued to his side all tomorrow. After I secure Zytriana at my house, I’m going to come back for you. Some way, I’ll find out how to break you out of Evanyl.”

My heart ached. I didn’t want to leave Xori behind. I hugged her tightly and this time I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face. My fear for her life was intense. I may never get to see her again.

“Go, dear. Take care, use caution and I’ll stay here with Zytriana. Please, please be careful.”

Watching Xori race out the door, I silently cried knowing I have no choice, but to temporarily abandon my best friend to a life of pain if Zakyrik doesn’t win. I’ll be back as soon as I get Zytriana settled and I will bring Armageddon with me. But not just for Xori though, for them, too.

When I locate and release them, they will have the power to wipe Evanyl off this earth and will do it with pride.

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