Waking up to your door being kicked in is not the best way to start the day. I was sleeping on the chair in the living room when thankfully the sound alerted me to open my eyes and move my body before the splinters of wood mixed with shards of glass could do any damage. What was left of the door landed on the chair I had just occupied and four burly guards came rushing in my house. Two of them gripped me by my upper arms and hoisted me outside into the blinding sun.
There was an obsidian colored coach outside with two more guards standing beside it. The door to the coach swung open revealing a tall, slender man in an
expensive looking silk suit. I recognized him immediately. It was Axrenorian Ranswits. My damn boss.
He stepped down from the coach and greeted me with a hand shake, “Hello there, my boy. I hope you do well in this competition because I have all my money on you. My colleague picked you out yesterday, but I bought you off of him because if you fight like you work then this will be the best business decision I’ve ever made! I wanted to come personally and escort you, but I see Vyron’s guards got here first. However, I insist you ride with me and these barbarians can follow behind. After all, you are MY champion, after all!” He snaps at the guards who broke my front door.
One steps forward and bows, “I’m sorry, Mr. Ranswits, but you must understand our instructions were quite clear and come from someone above your head. We must insist, on the order of Lord Tamminalin, that he ride in our transport.”
Axrenorian scowls, “Fine, but when we arrive at the estate Zakyrik better not have a mark on him or a hair out of place on his head. I need him in top shape for the morning!” He then whirls around and storms inside his coach, which pulls away in the direction of town.
A dark red coach pulls up in the spot Mr. Ranswits was just at. “Get in there, worthless excuse for a warrior. Mr. Ranswits wants you unharmed, like you are a newborn baby. Too bad he’s wasted his money. You won’t last five minutes in the preliminary match.”
The guards were taunting and teasing, but I was only half listening. I was too busy trying to quell my nausea and stop myself from shaking where I stood.
At least I got to sit by the window. The passing scenery helped calm my nerves, even though I’m never going to see this part of Evanyl ever again. We left the trees and dirt roads behind as the landscape changed into cobblestone driveways connected to massive houses.
I’ve only been to town a handful of times. There had never been a reason to venture up here since it only drudged up painful memories of my father and uncle’s violent deaths. Soon, I’m sure, I’ll go out the same way. These bloodthirsty devils here thrive on pain and suffering. How they can be classified as humans I’ll never know.
There were hoards of people gathered around the sidewalks as we passed. Children would run up and excitedly point to the coach, women waved as they gossiped and men stood with their arms crossed smiling savagely in our direction. The people became fewer and fewer with each mile we rode into the heart of the town.
The houses all disappeared as we turned onto a ruby red stone drive. All I could see on either side was trees for a time, but when the trees cleared, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The Tamminalin Estate, though castle would have been a better word for it. I had always heard what it looked like through rumors from other peasants. I’d always thought they were exaggerating until now.
It was at least four stories high. There were stone walls erected around the manor as far as the eye could see. Two turrets stood on either side with guards placed on the balconies.
My eyes flew down to a drawbridge with a booth to the left. A guard came out, saluting our coach as he ran to a switch mounted on the bridge. He pulled the lever down and then a cranking sound was heard as the bridge was lowered where we could cross.
After we traversed the narrow bridge I seen the Estate was also surrounded by the River of Evanyl, which ran beside the stone walls. The coach came to a stop outside a massive door with six guards standing on either side of it. I was none too gently escorted out of the transport and pushed forward until we reached the door. Two of the guards pushed it open and we stepped inside.
The smell of an expensive perfume hit me in the face as we crossed over the entry way. All along the walls were blood red banners that stretched from floor to ceiling. This family is obsessed with the color red. I guess it makes sense because of how they relish in bloodshed.
All of them are filthy mongrels in my book. I hate this whole town.
We came to a stop in front of a magnificent grand staircase case that took up over half the entry way. Is every inch of this place glamorous? “Lord Tamminalin, the first of the chosen contestants have arrived.”
The first, huh? I wonder what other poor souls were forced into this. I hope it’s no one I know. I wouldn’t be able to fight against a face that’s familiar to me. I am not much of a fighter as it is.
“Wonderful! Let’s go down and greet the warrior, my beauties. Remember, Xera, be nice to him.” I heard the huff of an irritated woman and then they descended down the stairs.
First came Vyron Tamminalin, who was every bit as intimidating in his walk, posture and build as I’ve heard. His midnight blue eyes looked as if they could cut right through you and his mouth was curled up into a self-righteous smirk that I wanted to knock off his face.
Behind him came another psychopath, Xera Tamminalin, his oldest daughter. She wore a honey colored dress with a porcelain white sash that hung to her feet. Her Arctic blue eyes were as icy as her heart probably was. They surveyed every inch of me then she purred, “He looks stronger than the ones last tournament. Axrenorian chose well.”
She came to stand in front of me and her cherry red lips twisted into a cruel smile. I wasn’t paying attention to her though. I was staring at the younger sister standing to my right beside her father.
Xori Tamminalin was no doubt the better looking one of the two. Her platinum blonde hair danced around her heart shaped face, highlighting her indigo colored eyes. Her facial expression was almost as cold as her father’s, but didn’t come off evil like his did. Those beautiful eyes were sheepish and unsure as she struggled to meet my gaze.
As much as I hated this woman I couldn’t help, but be mesmerized by her at the same time. Her blush pink lips were pursed and she looked like she wanted to be anywhere, but here. She was pulling nervously at her pewter grey dress when someone clearing their throat broke my stare. It was Mr. Ranswits.
He strolled down the stairs and looked very proud of himself, “So Vyron, how about your men show my warrior to his room? He needs his rest if he is to knock your champion off his throne.”
Vyron chuckled darkly, “Oh Axrenorian, you are quite the jester. I believe mine will reign victorious yet again.”
The guards led me down a corridor toward what I assume was where I’m to sleep when a dark figure stepped in my path. If Vyron was tall, then this man was a giant. He had cropped black hair, a black scar down his left eye and stood shirtless, showing off his bulging muscles and the rest of the scars that covered his body. Cicatrix.
He gave a sarcastic laugh, which sounded like concrete grating against gravel, as we passed. When I rounded the corner I heard him mumble, “Dead man walking.”