Chapter 9: Games with Yuri

Conor arrived home later again, to find the lights off in their small apartment. 

He sighed. 

Four years, and he and Jessica were no closer to having a real relationship. These new hours were not going to make that any easier either, not that she’d care. 

He drifted into an uneasy sleep. Dreams of wings beating the air as he drifts through warm air currents and floated through the clouds captivated his imagination.

The next morning, he awoke to Jessica again wrenching the covers over his bed. “Up! Family meeting today.” She declared while looking at Conor with a disapproving frown.

“What does that have to do with me? I thought most of the Cochan family preferred I never show my face around them.” Conor complained, desperately searching for any scrap of warm cloth he could find.

“Isn’t the twenty-fifth birthday of the faithful followers of Celia supposed to be symbolic? We are expecting a representative from the temple to deliver any inheritance to you.” Jess scorned.

“What does that have to do with your family? The blessing of Celia is sacred, not some trifle event.” Conor was surprised that they have finally realized that he is already twenty-five years old.

 “You should feel honored that my family is taking the time to be present. After all, you don’t have any living family to join you.” Jess replied in an unmistakable sneering tone.

“Why? Are they hoping I’ll just hand over anything my mother left me?” Conor sneered, subconsciously clutching the pendant under his shirt.

He hasn’t forgotten his mother saying in the letter that he shouldn’t give it to anyone who seeks it.

“Oh, don’t look at me like that. We clothed and fed you the last few years, it’s only natural for you to compensate us.”

“And what of us? Our marriage? Has our marriage been nothing more than some long con to take any money I might get? And I stress MIGHT!”

“HA, your mother was the priestess of Celia. The Dragon god has one of the wealthiest hoards in the land. Celia would not see one of her children go hungry. As for our marriage, if you can still call it that after what you have put me through, is supposed to be an even sharing of work and wealth. So anything you get is just back pay for the lack of income you have had over the last few years.” Jess laughed wryly, ignoring the painful look on Conor’s face.

Conor chuckled bitterly. 

He had gone into a deep depression after the temple was sacked, and even lost his business to betrayal. With the so-called ‘assistance’ of the Cochan family, life had been even more miserable than expected. 

So much for the blessing of Celia. 

Then a wicked thought crossed his mind. “you just want me there because someone invited Kelan!”

“You shut up!” hissed Jessica, spinning and raising a fist at Conor. “you will not mention that name in my house, not now, not ever!” 

Her blonde hair was askew in her fury, her brown eyes turning almost black in hate at the mention of Kelan Benedict.

So I am still the tool that shields you against Kelan, right? Conor held his tongue but glared back at her, feeling deeply hurt and betrayed. 

He knew full well how she regarded him these days. He had hoped that as the years went on, something more might have formed between them, but he could clearly see Jessica and her family were solely after whatever the temple might gift him for his inheritance. 

He honestly doubted the temple would give anything more than his own mother had managed to send him through Mr. Nuri. After all, while he had been raised there among the monks, he had never been inducted into their ranks. The Dovari Order was very secretive and even their name was not widely known by those outside the walls of the temple.

“I will be ready shortly.” he breathed out.

“Good. We are meeting at father’s board room at noon. Don’t be late.”

“Noon! It’s seven am! Why did you wake me like this?!” Conor protested.

Jessica just smirked and left.

An hour later, Conor found himself sipping on a steaming mug of spiced tea outside the apartment. 

As he leaned against the walkway railing and looked out over the crowded mass of concrete that made up this section of the city, he sighed. 

He couldn’t bring himself to be in the tiny apartment while Jessica was in there, at least, not now when she was being so toxic, yet being out here didn’t provide the relief he was hoping for either. 

His soul ached for the open sky and green forest. 

He chuckled to himself. What did he know of such things? He had not seen a forest since his younger days when he lived at the temple. Even then, his wanderings were limited to the small crop of trees behind the sanctuary. 

He had rarely been allowed to wander to the real forest or mountains. The door to his right opened and a shaggy brown head of hair popped out. “Conner, is that you?”

“Yea Yuri, it’s me. What are you doing awake? Figured you would have been up all night working on that game of yours.”

“It’s almost done! you have to come see it!”

“I have to go in a bit Yuri.”

“Oh, come on! I promise it won’t take long.”

Just then, the tug or vision that had appeared twice before came again, and Conor frowned. 

What did he have to lose? NOTHING! So why not follow this instinct again? It had worked out well enough so far.

He turned and followed Yuri into his dark apartment. The windows were all covered with thick curtains and there was a huge screen along the back wall with a massive chair before it.

“Sit here!” Yuri exclaimed, pulling a swivel chair over for Conor. From what Conor could tell in the few times he’d visited, Yuri was indeed a genius. 

It was a shame none of the major tech companies had picked him up due to his age. At just fifteen, Yuri was rather young but that didn’t hold his brain back.

Yuri shoved a controller into Conor’s hand and started explaining the modifications he had made.

Conor was impressed. This system was ready to launch! “Yuri, what do you need to get this game released?”

Yuri slumped at the question. “Playbox would be perfect for it but right now no one will buy it. I would need 10,000 copper dragons to have a complete system to present at this year’s gaming convention. The software is all here, but without the marketing and my own system…” 

Yuri chuckled and then shrugged. “Just think, a single gold dragon could get enough marketing to let it compete with the big games. But that’s a whole year’s wage. My mom has a hard enough time earning enough for food and housing, let alone extra for me to have.” 

Yuri bit his lips before continuing, “Those corporate pricks just laugh me out the doors when I try to pitch it. They tell me to come back when I get my tech degree. If I could present at the convention, everyone would see how amazing the game really is!”

Conor felt the wheels of his mind turning. The need to take action built as he saw the possibilities of an investment in a game. Here was a creator, young as he was, that had already created a brilliant game, that Conor himself had seen, played and even helped beta test with Yuri. 

He had been playing this game with Yuri for over a year through its various development stages and Conor knew just how well designed it was. The graphics were impressive, and the whole story was extremely immersive. 

Now that Mr. Liam Nuri was holding his inheritance money, possibilities began to unfold.  

“Yuri…. I am going to give you a number. Call it later today. I believe you will get the funding you need.” He handed Yuri one of Mr. Nuri’s cards.

“Seriously? This man would invest in my game? Is he a game owner?”

“No, but he is a lawyer who represents investors. He represents Dreadnaught Investment firm. Give me a chance to chat with him so he knows to expect your call, but I think he will be a good match for you.”

Conor looked at Yuri for a long moment before saying, “You will have to present your full pitch, the whole idea you have for the game, and detail for him what you need to get it launched, but you said you have already done that before in front of others, yes?”

“I mean, yea. I approached several gaming companies and even the bank but they wouldn’t even let me put the game on the screen. They just assumed that I was too young to have a complete game ready to go! If someone will actually let me show them the whole thing like you, it stands a chance! That is why I need to go to the convention!” Yuri explained.

Conor nodded. “I will give Mr. Nuri a call. I believe if I ask, he will give you the meeting you need. After that, it’s going to be up to you to convince him.”

A loud banging on the door drew their attention.

“Conor, If you’re in there playing video games again, So help me! You’re just asking for divorce you lazy ass lout!” came Jessica’s shrill voice.

Yuri looked over at him sympathetically. “She is hot,” the lewd teen gesturing as if holding two melons, “I’ll grant you that.  But is she worth the abuse, mate?”

Who knows?

Conor just shrugged and headed for the door. He opened it to find Jessica’s furious brown eyes glaring at him. “I knew it! You are going to make us late as usual! Let’s go, NOW!”

Conor slumped and followed Jessica, dejected.

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