Stone Warriors

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Chapter 4

Father walked proudly into the entryway of our manor, “I call that a success, wouldn’t you say girls?” Xera squealed with delight, “You were wonderful! They admired your bold idea and are still chanting your name! They love you father!”

Faking a smile, I nodded in agreement, though inside I felt sick to my stomach.

He smiled warmly at us, “Well my beauties, I could care less if they love me. The only ones I love are you two. Everything outside that door is money to me and the thing about money is it’s always replaceable.”

A scowl formed suddenly on his face, “Speaking of money, will you ladies do me a favor and go down to that worthless sack of skin, Jessuvi, and see if he has everything he owes me. He’s three days late. Also remind him I’m not normally this generous of a person, but he’s granted pardon this time since I’ve been distracted lately. Next time I’ll not hold back on his punishment.”

Father ran a hand down his face and sighed, “Be careful. Take two of the guards with you to drive the coach just in case he decides to be stupid. I’m going upstairs to plan your grandfather’s funeral and tomorrow after his burial we must prepare to welcome our competitors. My top betting partners have already chosen three worthy looking peasants. Our reigning champ will be here later tonight. I’ll see you both soon. I love you dearly.”

He hugged us both and walked up the grand staircase.

Xera and I went down to the stables followed by two of father’s top guards. We chose Xera’s sleek, alabaster colored coach. It matched the four white, beautiful stallions picked to pull it.

My carriage was dark blue with a red interior, but I hardly ever took it anywhere because I never left usually without Xera and she preferred to ride inside hers. The guards held out their hands to help us step inside. Once seated on her plush, periwinkle interior, the guards climbed in the driver’s seat and sent the horses running forward.

“It’s a shame grandfather is dead, but to see father’s face light up like that makes it hard to be sad, don’t you agree?” I forced myself to not roll my eyes as I answered, “Yes he did seem a lot happier than he has been lately.” I was hoping to avoid a conversation on the short trip to the poor lands about the damned competition, but I should have known better.

“So did you hear him say our reigning champion would be here tonight? It seems like ages since we have last seen Cicatrix. I cannot wait! Aren’t you excited sister? The tournament starts in two days!”

Truthfully, I would rather stick a sword through both my eyes than watch that competition, but in my family it’s a sin to mention this out loud. There’s no telling what father would do out of anger if I told him how I really feel. Instead, years of faking excitement has paid off and I can normally smile through the agony of sitting there for hours seeing chaos and gore without anyone thinking I actually would rather just shoot myself.

After passing the Ranswits fields, we spotted the orchard that scum was trying to buy off my father in weekly payments. He gets the money by scavenging off these people that are already struggling to survive as it is.

After a few minutes we arrived at Jessuvi’s dilapidated house at the beginning of the peasants living quarters. As expected, he heard Xera’s horses and came running out of his hovel tucking in his shirt. While trying to bow the moron tripped and fell on his knees. His fingers and mouth were greasy which means he was stuffing his face before we pulled up. That’s not surprising seeing as that’s what he’s good at doing.

“Ms. Xera and Xori, what a pleasant surprise. Please forgive my state of appearance as I was not expecting you.”

My sister snarled, making Jessuvi cower in fear, “And why should we announce ourselves? We can show up wherever we please seeing how our family owns the land you piss on! You should have been expecting us because you are three days late on your payment! Surely you know what a patient and gracious man my father is, so why would you insult him by thinking he forgot what was due to him?”

Jessuvi was visibly shaking now, “Please, your most beautiful highnesses, I have everything in full I swear. I was just waiting on the collection I had to get from a young maggot this morning.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bag, “It’s all there, I promise.”

He tossed it to our feet as Xera snatched it up, counted it and stuck it inside her cloak, “The next time you are more than a day late, Jessuvi, the punishment will be a public death in the town square as a message that my father is to not be taken lightly!”

Xera spun on her heels and marched back to the carriage. I took a fleeting glance at the scumbag and seen he was quivering with fear plus he pissed himself. There was a damp spot in the crotch of his pants. I couldn’t help, but snicker, wishing the poor residents here who have to put up with his tyranny could see this.

On the way back I stared out the window while Xera hummed to herself and brushed her hair. She was probably picturing whatever her and Cicatrix were going to do when he arrived tonight. She had a lot of... Boyfriends, let’s just say, and our reigning champion just happens to be one of them.

However, I don’t know how. Cicatrix is not exactly easy on the eyes. His scars extend from his face to his feet, and they are all self-inflicted except for one. He put black tattoo ink on the scar that extends down his left eye because it was the only scar someone else gave to him.

Breaking me from the disgusting picture in my head was a man walking towards the housing quarters, with a red shirt thrown over his shoulder. He looks as if he just got done working in the Ranswits fields. The Ranswits were family friends and agreed to help the peasants out by paying them a small fee for doing farming work in their enormous overgrown fields they owned.

The man looked up at us as we passed with nothing, but pure blatant disdain in his eyes. His black as coal hair was swept into his face by the wind, the strands framing the outright fury in his glare. He knew who we were and he hated us.

Other peasants stop and smile, some even bow, but this one shows how he really feels about our family on his face. It is a shame that such an ugly look had to be plastered on such handsome features.

Nonetheless, I’m intrigued, but it doesn’t matter because I’ll never see him again. I wish I could tell him I feel the same way about my family sometimes. I wish I could have been born into someone else’s family, or not at all.

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