My training went well. I noticed that Alec trained me harder than before. I had already planned that, but I think he went overboard. Alec was worried about my safety and wanted to be sure that he did everything in his power to help me win.
Today was the third day of the Games. Another four people are to fight and after today the second part of the Games will commence next week. Just a day after day of battle, no breaks in between.
I was prepared for that, as long as I wasn’t severely injured. If I were then, my last battle would be fierce. I might be the first to go into the arena again since I had the longest to prep and practice.
I was being guided by my usual guards when instead of heading for my viewing room, they made a different turn that led to the magistrate council room. I stopped suddenly, feeling very nervous. I never trusted my guards and now was proving to be a good reason. “Where are you taking me?” I asked with authority.
The guards only turned slightly before answering a question for the first time since I’ve known them. “The elders want to speak with you before the Games begin.”
I scrunch up my nose in disgust. That is the last thing I wanted to do. “Whatever for.”
Of course, they didn’t answer just began walking, only pausing to make sure I was following. I didn’t want to embarrass my guards by knocking them out, nor did I want to get into any trouble, so I just followed behind. It didn’t take long before we reached a massive wooden door with beautiful carvings on it.
I wanted to inspect the artwork further, but my guards threw the door open and pushed me inside. I stumbled slightly and glared at them for being so rude. I have never done anything to them and shouldn’t treat me in such a way.
I first noted quickly that the chamber was warded. It wasn’t heavy like my wing of the magistrate, but I still couldn’t use my powers in this room. The second thing I noticed was Alec on his knees, beaten and bloody. He was looking at the ground instead of at me, angry and forlorn.
Anger filled my body. They beat him for no reason, and I couldn’t think of one that would justify such a punishment. I quickly glanced around, taking note of the room and saw five guards all around me with busted lips or the beginnings of bruises forming on cheeks.
I fought the urge to smile. Alec took them all on and hurt them pretty good. Then my glances trailed to the large table at the back of the room, sitting five Elders in white robes. They never did the dirty work.
My anger held fast as I looked at the Elders individually. I showed no emotion since I walked in, not even when I saw Alec in his condition. I didn’t want them to know what I was thinking or feeling. No matter how difficult it was. I hoped to show that I didn’t care about Alec might save us from whatever was going to happen next. I criticized myself when I noticed the creepy smirk on the leader of the Elder’s face. Elder Kakios. I must have shown some emotion when I saw Alec’s condition.
I hated Kakios the most.
“Glad you could join us, Gaia. We have some questions for you.” Elder Kakios said as he gestured towards all the elders sitting beside him. I stepped forward, being sure not to look at Alec. It would only infuriate me more, and I won’t be able to control my mouth if I saw how damaged he was.
I didn’t respond; just stood at attention, waiting for the questions. Eventually, Kakios figured he wouldn’t get anything from me, so he stood to walk towards me as he spoke.
“There have been rumors over the years that your relationship with your trainer is more than you being just his charge. Are the rumors true?” The elder asked as he walked around me. My eyes never diverted in front of me, and I know all of them are watching, waiting for me to make a move. A sign that I’m lying or that care about Alec’s safety, which I do, but they don’t need to know that.
“No, rumors are just that. Rumors. Speculation of something someone wants to be true. My trainer is only my trainer, Elder.” I said, my voice sounding strong, still standing with my eyes straight and hands behind my back. It was the only way I could keep my hands from shaking.
The elder eventually made his way in front of me. My eyes were never meeting his, only staring at his chest. “Very well, so if that is the case, then he didn’t end up in your room after the games. Is that correct?”
My heart stopped for a moment. The magistrate knows he was in my room, and they want me to lie. I didn’t flinch at his words. I could say yes, but that would lead to Alec’ s death. I could lie, and if they know, then Alec is dead anyway. Neither option is beneficial for him or me.
Without much hesitation, I said, “My trainer visited me to tell me about our training schedule. He wanted to change it slightly to accommodate the new winners. He only wanted to make sure I prepared myself for the next battle. Whoever that may be. We all know how I can sometimes be.” I added the last bit to make it believable. Using my past and personality as a ruse often worked, considering I am a handful. It wasn’t the entire truth, but I am good at lying.
I only received a grunt in response. Elder Kakios walked back to the table with the other elders. He didn’t seem to take the bait as I hoped.
“Gaia, you want us to believe that you don’t harbor feelings for your trainer or he for you. You expect us to believe that you do not care about what happens to him? As a child, you nearly destroyed part of the magistrate in a tantrum just to keep him near you.” Elder Tristis said with bitterness.
I recognized him from my younger years after my so-called tantrum as he most elegantly put it. I believe they pulled his brother out of the rubble. I almost felt bad about it. Almost.
I never had a family or a normal life, so why should I care about his losses. He never treated me with respect or kindness, so I will not pay it back to him.
“I was a mere child at that time. Not in control of my affinity for the earth. I am sorry for the outcome, but my trainer was all I knew in a terrifying, scary world.” I simply said, not wanting to give too much away. I never moved my eyes from the wall or moved a muscle.
No signs of weakness, then maybe Alec will survive. He relies on me to keep with my training and trick these elders. “Please let this work.” I prayed to whatever Gods that were listening.
“We do not believe you. You know, lying leads to punishment, so why are you trying to convince us otherwise. We have proof that you two are more than just a trainer and their charge. You two have an inappropriate relationship that ends here.” Elder Tristis said as he rose from his chair.
My eyes flickered to him and saw an evil, villainy smirk on his face. The next thing I felt was fear. It was pure and undoubtedly petrifying. My eyes flicked back quickly before they saw my movement. “I don’t know what you are referring to, or what kind of proof you may have,” I said, trying to keep the emotion out of my voice, but they didn’t listen. I wanted to bring this room to the ground, but I couldn’t. I have no power even though I was gifted. Even though I had more aptitude and strength than everyone here, I could do nothing.
The guards quickly grabbed Alec, who still didn’t move since I walked in. I wanted to save him. “We have eye witness accounts over the years. That’s all the proof we need.” Elder Kakios said, who was walking behind me.
Alec fought valiantly against the five guards. Of course, he was tired and couldn’t fight for long. Eventually, the guards placed Alec on his knees in front of me. He was breathing heavily as two guards held him steady, and one gripped his hair forcibly, pulling his head up. To look up at me.
I refused to look down at him or to watch him fight. I couldn’t watch him die. “Alec, trainer of Gaia, greatest warrior and decorated hero. You are now charged with treason and interfering with the Games. Any last words?”
I felt tears build up in my eyes as I tried not to cry here. That will not happen. Suddenly I felt hands grip the back of my neck. “I want you to see this.” elder Kakios whispered in my ear.
I felt my head point down at Alec, forcibly. Kakios grabbed my hands that were still behind my back so that I couldn’t fight. For the first time in this room, we made eye contact. “You see, Gaia, your trainer, loves you more than he ever should. You are like a daughter to him, and he a father to you. We have rules against this for a reason. You are here to entertain, and we cannot have our trainers interfering with that. So, you must watch the life drain for him. The Gifted needs to learn their place in the games.”
I could move, his hold did not keep me in place, but at the same time, I couldn’t. I was afraid. The room was warded, granted, not as much as my bedroom. I could use my affinity, but it would be harrowing and exhausting for me. Also, it wouldn’t be much against all these guards, and I would be in more trouble. They might just kill me. Forget the games; I wouldn’t be worth it anymore if I destroyed their precious room. Even if I could, it would not save Alec. Only push off the inevitable.
A guard came by with a dagger, which was a silver blade with a brass hilt. He placed the knife against Alec’s neck, pressing hard enough to draw blood. “Last words Alec.” An elder said in the corner. I couldn’t see them; my head pushed down to look at Alec.
I know he can see my sadness in my eyes if not on my face. “Gaia, win,” is all he said before shutting his eyes, accepting his fate. He was trying to tell me that he was okay with this, but I am not.
“Please don’t leave me.” I thought as the dagger drugged across his throat.