"Down to brass tacks. Forneas." Trix clicked his fingers to stir Forneas into action.
The animachine rummaged around the insides of the night table drawer and returned with a big box that he placed before me. He opened the box to reveal clothes. I gawked at the pile.
"Dumping your laundry on me?" I looked to Trix.
"Call it a welcome gift," Trix declared. "Who knows how long that tunic you're wearing will last before it drops off. Although I wouldn't find it a displeasure, to see you running around in your birthday suit."
I cringed at his tacky words and gingerly touched the cloth.
The white butterfly collar blouse felt smooth and fluid. The gentleman's navy-blue vest was unexpectedly light even with the middle row of pure brass buttons joining the flaps together.
I unboxed a pair of crease-free tanned cotton pants, suspenders, a dark double-belt pouch, gray flat cap and open finger gloves.
The red bow tie next to the cap had intrigued me the most. I had only seen great scholars wear these in Bulldog's newspaper books.
"I'm sure I'll be smarter if I wore this." I blurted with glee, holding out the bow tie before me.
"Unlikely," Forneas flatly answered.
"Mean!" I pouted, figuring out on how I should dress in the outfit.
"How long you're going to sit there?" Trix suggestively smirked. "Hurry up and undress."
An unpleasant vibe ran down my spine.
Small Cap scrambled up my arm to stand guard on my shoulder.
_"Not worry Freend. I bite big two-leg's face if he causes trouble."_ He reassured me.
I peered at Trix's face, wondering what he was thinking.
He was, as Death would describe such a man, handsome. His unseemly behavior was a major turn off. Who the hell kisses a stranger upon first sight?
"You're not implying I undress before you?" I frowned.
"Embarrassed? No need to be. We're both men." His form of reassurance achieved the opposite result.
"I think not!" I nervously snapped.
My heart thumped wildly against my chest when Trix approached the box of clothes.
The potent scent of vanilla and citrus from his body made me feel off balanced.
He pulled out the shirt and laid it against my back. I was too petrified to move away.
Small Cap raised his legs and swiped at the pervert's face.
I yelped when his small body flew across the room from the back-hand hit Trix had given in retaliation. He landed to the ground unconscious.
"Small Cap! You bastard!" I spat at Trix.
It didn't faze him. He held my arms down and pulled me to his body.
"Now that the critter is dealt with, I'll help you undress." His hot breath heated the back of my ears.
My cheeks became flushed by his presence.
"Please stop." I whimpered.
Obscured images flooded my mind. I felt my will slip away.
"Master Trix!" Forneas knocked Trix off me.
My senses recovered along with the will to move. I shuffled away from the man who was shaking his head out of a daze.
"H-Hey! Whada Sol? B-Back off you p-pervert!" I stammered my threat and shuffled to where Small Cap was.
My mind scrambled for an escape but failed. I couldn't think straight in this dangerous situation. The ground quaked beneath us, adding to my escalating discomfort.
Running boots and curt yelling approached the room.
Two boys about my age, wearing glasses and donning the same uniform as Trix, minus the ropes, stormed into view.
"Report." Trix ordered the intruders.
"We have a problem," stated the boy wearing thick framed glasses.
He stared at me for some time before speaking again. "Strange prisoner."
"Unexpected intruder, carry on." Trix corrected the boy.
The other boy pushed his round framed glasses up the flat bridge of his button nose.
"The skrit in the West Wing have gone berserk. They're attacking any knight and prisoner they come across." He soberly reported.
I was surprised by the serious frown creasing Trix's forehead. His mannerisms to the other boys contrasted the treatment he gave me. Was his perverseness a way of testing character?
"How many knights are stationed?" he coolly asked.
"Four squads. Colonel had Colin's team come in from the field to help. I don't know how much longer they can hold out," said the round-glasses boy.
He noticed me for the first time.
"Captain, you don't think..." His voice trailed off.
Fierce tremors shook the walls.
A gust of icy wind chilled my face. A group of hairless and eyeless tree-men in black suits barged into the room.
It was them. The ones responsible for my misery. The rage I felt for revenge replaced every other emotion in my heart.
"Bastards!" I lurched for them with fists raised, ignoring the warnings from the other men.
A tree-man grabbed my arms, raised me to the air then slammed me to the ground with brute force.
"Ugh!" I cried out from the jarring pain I felt to my back.
High pitch shrieking attacked my eardrums. It was silenced by a wave of blue light.
"Stay down!" The round-glasses boy shouted at me.
He pulled out an iron marble from his coat pocket and threw it at the tree-man.
I shuddered at the shrilling noise the ball made in the air before it pierced the tree-man's chest like tissue paper.
The demon burned with white light; its body was sucked inwards. A light shower of glitter replaced the creature.
"What?!" I gasped.
The room became an overwhelming din of shrills and high-pitched shrieks. My rage changed to fear as I was unable to move a muscle from the deafening noise jabbing at my eardrums.
"Eguzkiaren argia, sua deitzen dut!" Trix bellowed.
Fire balls formed in the air to hit the tree-men. The ones before us shrieked and writhed with pain before transforming into free-falling ash or glitter
Tree-men reinforcements entered and faced the same drastic fate. Where one skrit fell, another entered to take its place.
The noise intensified, air crackled and became hot.
"Aargh!" I cursed as I struggled to free my ankle from the clutches of a tree-man.
Swooping sounds blew across my ears. I was momentarily disoriented by a series of white flashes. My vision cleared to the sight of the tree-man's hands crumbling to ash.
I relished the short-lived relief to my ears.
A couple more knights entered the room to aid the fight.
"Get him out of here!" I heard Leinard shout out his order from behind them.
He skillfully hacked his way inside with a pair of daggers.
Small Cap was still unconscious near Leinard's boots. I scooped him up and into my pocket before he could be stomped on.
My countenance paled at the sight of three tiers of jagged teeth bared before me.
"Buddha protect me." I panted.
The tree-man shrieked before it imploded into a glitter shower.
The atmosphere became unbearable; it was hard to breathe, see anything. I was too fatigued to move.
"Goddamn useless weakling," I mumbled my self-loathing. My eyes drooped heavily.
Hands pulled me up. I groaned in Trix's arms as he carried me out of the lantern room.
A thumping pain to my temples forced my mind into unconsciousness.
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