The stadium was crashing around us. I lost sight of father and Xera when the first initial quake happened. An outbreak of madness occurred around the exit as the horde of panicking people were pushing, shoving and crawling over each other trying to get out before the stone walls bury them alive. It was a gruesome sight, but moreover I was having my own internal dilemma about how we were getting out of here.
My focus shifted as I looked to the mages who were circling above our heads and waving their arms in a mesmerizing dance. A ear-splitting crack made the three of us jump. The side of the stadium with the VIP box had been rent in two and both sides were falling at a rapid pace. Zakyrik scooped me up and ran as fast as he could just as the walls fell in a splintering concrete mass where we were just standing.
Jyrixi yelled over the roar of the chaos around us, “We’ll never get out of the exit in time. I think we should pick our way through the rubble and go through that opening. It’s our best chance right now. Zakyrik please hold on to her tight, okay?”
Zakyrik looked down at me and smiled, “You don’t have to tell me twice. I’ll never let her go again.” Despite the pandemonium around us, butterflies rushed to my stomach as I looked into his eyes.
Jyrixi and Zakyrik took turns climbing up the massive chunks of broken wall and helped me with my dress that kept getting snagged in all the debris. I was getting aggravated and contemplated just stripping down to my slip, but my modesty would never let me. If Jyrixi and Zakyrik were getting frustrated with me it never showed on their faces. They just kept on taking turns releasing my ensnared dress and helping me climb over obstacles.
It made it worse when I lost my balance with the frequent earthquakes. That’s when I had to stop and wait until they were over and slowed our escape drastically. It made me feel useless that they were scaling these gigantic concrete blocks like professionals and I can’t even walk for more than five minutes straight without my dress hindering our progress.
My cheeks burned as I realized my slow progression was probably going to get us all killed. Before I could voice this, Jyrixi shouted, “I see the outside. We’re almost there.”
Jyrixi’s horses were stomping and snorting in uncertainty when we arrived at her coach. She pulled the door open and out popped Zytriana, who instantly jumped into Zakyrik’s outstretched arms. “I’m so glad you are alright. I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s all my fault.”
Zytriana was crying, “No it’s not. None of this was your fault. I never thought I’d see you again. I want to get out of here, Zakyrik. What’s going on?”
He assured her we’d all get out just fine, but she needed to get back inside the coach until it was safe to come out. Zakyrik held the door open for me, but I moved his hand and shut Zytriana inside, “No. I’m sitting in the driver’s seat with you and Jyrixi. We’re not being separated again.”
He picked me up and kissed me with a force that took my breath away. He pulled back and said, “That’s right. We’re not going to be apart. Let me lift you up there.”
He raised me up until I could reach the bars to pull myself in the seat. Jyrixi was already there holding the reins and steadying the horses. “Ready?” She inquired as Zakyrik hopped in beside me. “Yeah, where to first?”
They both looked at me as I gasped, “The mages told me to get out everyone innocent. That’s the servants in the manor and the lower class of Evanyl. We have to go warn them!”
Jyrixi’s mouth dropped, “You want to go to the estate where your father probably is just to make sure a handful of helpers get away? Xori I’m sure they’ve heard the earthquakes and if those women said they were destroying everything then they mean everything. Buildings are crumbling and the ground is already uneven and caving in on itself. Are you absolutely sure this is what you want to do?”
Without a second thought, “They said all innocent people need to get out. The servants have no blame in any part of the evil that went on here.” Jyrixi shook her head, “Okay. Well here’s to running head first into mortal peril.”
We had almost reached the drawbridge, which as luck would have it was already down, when a thought occurred to me, “Jyrixi, you acted like you knew the mages. You said you knew they weren’t dead and were here. How do you know about them?”
She smiled at me as she urged the horses forward over the drawbridge, “I’ve been around a long time and come from a land where no one grows old dear. It shouldn’t surprise you that I know a couple of magic wielders. Those ladies, however, mean a great deal to me and my family. I’ll gladly explain to you everything once we’re out of this cursed land, okay girl?”
My curiosity wanted to push her further, but Zakyrik spoke up, “Look, there’s more horses and coaches by that stable. Jyrixi can put the servants in this one and we can take the other one to the fields to warn the workers. Zytriana will go with us.”
Jyrixi agreed, “That’s fine. I’ll run them to the borders just as fast as these horses will go. That is, if all goes well with getting these servants out unhindered.”
Lon ran out of the stable as we pulled to a stop. “Miss Xori, what’s happening? The earth is shaking, the manor is starting to crack and crumble? The horses are getting nervous and trying to break free from their paddock.”
Sure enough the sound of hooves hitting metal was clearly heard from inside the stable. I seen my coach was parked in it’s usual spot and got an idea. “Lon, listen to me, do you have a family here in Evanyl somewhere?”
Lon’s eyes misted as they widened, “Yes, a mother. She’s in the lower class portion. My father died in the competition a long time ago and I came here to work off a debt he owed to your father. I haven’t seen her in five years.”
My heart ached for this child, “Well today is the day you will be reunited with her. I need a favor. Can you hook my horses up to my coach and drive it down to the fields? Pick up your mother and whoever else you can and get across the border quickly. I’ll join you there shortly, but for now it’s imperative you do as I say without question.”
Lon looked dumbfounded, but bowed as he rushed back into the stable. He trained my horses beautifully so I know they will take them out of here safely. I prayed that his mother was still alive.
Zakyrik grabbed my hand as we ran into the back entrance of the manor, “There’s a total of ten servants on the first floor and three handmaids upstairs. My handmaid was caught trying to visit me while I was locked upstairs so I’m not sure where they’ll have her. I think they can all fit into Jyrixi’s coach and we can take Xera’s into the fields to grab more people. With a little bit of luck, we’ll get everyone out within the hour.”
We had made it to the stairs when another hard tremor shook the foundation. Zakyrik grabbed Jyrixi and I as we were knocked off balance. The quake passed and we advanced to the door.
Guards were running everywhere, shouting incoherent statements and fighting amongst themselves. “The bond that held them loyal to the Tamminalin bloodline broke when the mages were freed. They are out of their trance and don’t remember why they were ever here defending my father in the first place. A little while back they were ready to die for him and now they are just trying to get away from here like everyone else.”
Jyrixi gave me a quick hug, “Since they could care less what we are doing and running around crazy then we can use them as cover. Get the handmaids, I’ll run in the kitchen and get the others. Be safe. Stay together. I’ll see you across the border.”
She then ducked and dodged her way across the hall to the dining room while Zakyrik held onto my hand tightly, leading me to the grand staircase. Luck appeared once more at the sight of two of the handmaids huddled together in the corner, looking terrified. I explained quickly what was going on and that they needed to get to the stables. They didn’t hesitate in racing down the stairway together.
We continued forward, trying to locate Senna. We made it all the way to my bedroom and I thought we could try her quarter in the wall. I threw open my door and seen that the entrance to her room was barricaded with boards. “They nailed boards over the door to lock her in there!” I cried horrified.
Zakyrik held onto me as another quake shook throughout the manor. A crack appeared in the side of the wall and shot up to the ceiling. “Maybe this quaking loosened the boards or the wall has been weakened enough so that we can break through it. Stand back.”
He pulled at the top board and after a lot of straining, it flew off the doorway. A faint voice spoke through a crack in the door, “Miss Xori? Is that you?” She’s alive! “It’s me! Stand back from the door. We’re getting you out of there.”
We gave her a minute to back up and then Zakyrik started kicking the door. It splintered in and finally broke away after a few kicks. Zakyrik pulled the boards away so he could help her out.
Senna fell on the floor, too weak to stand up. Her head lifted to meet my eyes, “Miss Xori, I’m sorry. I tried to help you escape from your mother’s prison, but they caught me going up the stairs.”
Touched, I helped her to her feet and told her not to worry about it, “We have got to get out of here. This whole place is going to be gone within an hour.” She nods and Zakyrik puts an arm around her elderly frame to help her walk.
We almost made it to the door, when a figure stepped in and blocked our path, “I don’t know why you thought you were just going to waltz out of here unharmed after ruining my life, sister. Your selfishness has screwed us all and now you’re going to pay for it! I have never hated you more than I do now!”