Stone Warriors

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Chapter 8

Seeing how this place was immaculate and enormous, I assumed that my sleeping quarters would be too. Nope. I was taken downstairs to a room that had three rickety wooden beds with filthy mattresses on them. There was also an open room at the back with only a toilet and a sink in it.

“Please excuse the sleeping arrangements. You must understand, you only get to upgrade to single rooms when you earn your place in the tournament. For now, all peasant contestants must remain... Confined. This is to ensure you don’t make a foolish decision about escaping and such.”

He gave me a dismissive wave,. “It’s nothing personal, dear Zakyrik. Now, I want you to rest up for the preliminary rounds tomorrow morning. Vyron said he has new rules to enforce and a surprise invitation, whatever that means.”

Axrenorian rolled his eyes, “He is always so cryptic. Anyways, I expect great results, boy. I have a lot of money on you. Make my investment worthwhile and you’ll be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.”

Smirking, he strolled back through the doorway, which shut behind him with a telltale click of a locking mechanism. Great, I really do have to stay in this grimy quarter. How am I supposed to get some rest on a mattress that looks like it’s been left outside for a month?

Sighing, I looked around taking inventory of everything. There was a putrid odor coming from the bathroom that I was not about to go investigate. Too bad there wasn’t a door so I could shut the smell off from the rest of the room.

Walking over to the bed farthest from the bathroom, I pushed it all the way against the far wall. It didn’t smell as bad here so I sat down and surveyed the rest of the room. There wasn’t even a dresser or anything else significant here except mildew covered walls.

There were three of us lower-classed people who were picked so I wonder who the other two unlucky ones are? Normally the three of us would stand up on an auction podium in the morning and let the rich assholes bid on who they want to represent them, but Axrenorian already chose me. The whole time I’ve worked for him I’ve always thought he was a fair man, but now I see I was wrong.

He’s just like the rest of the wealthy evil creatures here. Axrenorian could care less that his decision, thanks to Jessuvi’s prompting for his own revenge, took the only family that Zytriana had left away from her. It’s pathetic that money drives them to condone murder.

At least my conscience can rest knowing I left her in the best hands I possibly could to raise her. My only wish is that she will find her way out of Evanyl. Maybe one day a nice young man will come visit and take a liking to her?

Hoping against hope, I pray she jumps at the opportunity to leave and never look back. When I’m dead they’ll be nothing to hold her here. Only death, deception and disease dwell in this cursed land.

After a while I heard a click and the door swung open. There were two guards that brought in two men who were dressed in clothing like mine, raggedy and worn. I am about ninety percent positive they are from where I live.

One was short and had a scraggly brown beard. He looked scared out of his mind, which I cannot blame him. The other was tall, skinny and had blonde hair that hung down his back.

The guards pushed them down and laughed as they shut the door. The clicking of the lock sounded again and then there was silence.

After a while the men pulled themselves off the floor and picked a bed to sprawl out on. The short man eyed me for a moment, “Hey, you are Zakyrik, aren’t you?” My eyes widened a little, “Yes I am. Have we met before?”

The man shook his head, “No I just know you by name. Everyone was talking about how you saved that boy from falling off the platform yesterday and I was hoping I got the chance to thank you. You see, my name is Detro. I’m the boy’s father.” He held out his hand as a greeting.

Smiling sadly, I shook his hand, “It’s nothing, really. I’m just glad I was there to catch him. Of course, that’s also the reason I’m here. Damn Jessuvi pointed me out and told Axrenorian’s associate my name, which got me this forced invitation to join this competition.”

Detro nods, “My name was also given to those men by Jessuvi, but it was because I owed him money. That’s why my son was working to begin with. We didn’t have enough money after Jessuvi raised our rent so my son insisted he come with me to the fields and help pay rent.”

Sniffing, his eyes misted, “I was so proud of him for stepping up like that. My boy came and found me after you caught him, that’s when Jessuvi pointed at me. I’m glad my boy is working now even though he is way too small to take on such a task, but he is man of the house now.” He hung his head and openly wept.

The skinny man stood and cursed, “Jessuvi is the reason I’m here as well. I don’t have children, but I just got married last year. Our anniversary is even coming up in three days.”

He kicked the bed, cursed again, and continued, “I argued with him over the price of my rent going up the day before, then this morning I have my front door kicked in while my wife and I are sleeping. Luckily my wife’s parents are still alive so I’m sure she’s there with them. She was supposed to start her job at the orchards today, too.”

The skinny man sat back on his bed sighing. We all stayed completely quiet the rest of the night. There was no use in stating the obvious. Thanks to Jessuvi and these wretched people we’ve all been torn from the people we love.

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