Arcana X 1st Assignment: Gunslinger Swordsman Ch.4

Arcana X title

The morning sun bathes Dodgson Woods in its morning glow. At the large oak tree between Tulpaar and Tulpex Villages, there is no sign of the red haired woman, just tattered pieces of clothing on the ground and claw marks in the oak.

“Willow! We gotta go!” Ecks banged on the door to the Ashcroft sisters’ bedroom. He and Willow have been given an assignment early this morning by Brie when she reported to Ecks, waking him out of a sound sleep. Irritated that he was called out of bed just as the sun rises, now he has spent several minutes arousing Willow from bed. He bangs the door again. “What the hell are you doing?! C’mon, will ya?!”

“Is Miss Ashcroft always this tardy?” Brie asked.

“Don’t start Brie.” Ecks is already annoyed as it is. Brie’s austerity is the last thing he wanted right now. “We wouldn’t be having this problem if you didn’t come charging into my room at the crack of dawn. I was having a damn good dream too.”

“Well sorry to interrupt your fantasies but this assignment is more important than whatever ridiculous dream you were having,” Brie said. Then she proceeds to lecture Ecks. “A proper knight is always vigilant. He is alert and ready for any situation that arises…”

Ecks looks over his shoulder at her and sighs heavily. Not again, he thought. He has heard Brie’s text book speeches more times than he would’ve liked to. They usually end with him silently walking away leaving Brie to conduct her speech to an empty audience. However, he cannot leave this time. He needs Willow to hurry or be forced to endure Brie’s apposite torture. “Dammit Willow, come on!” he says raising his voice.

Ecks was about to bang again when he hears the lock click. Brie stops talking to see who is coming out of the room. “Well, it’s about t—” Ecks is plowed in the face before he could finish his sentence, sent tumbling past Brie and into the other side of the hallway.

Brie looks at Ecks to see if he is alright. She is shocked at Willow’s action. Even if she isn’t a knight, this is not the way for a proper lady to behave. She issues a harsh scolding. “Miss Willow, now you’ve gone too far! This is not how a proper lady acts! What would your sister think if she saw your behavior!?”

“Bad move, Brie,” said Ecks. Rubbing his cheek, he knows exactly who delivered that punch.

“Is that so, Miss Auburn? How about you tell me about my sister’s behavior?” Beatrice said, gazing sharply at Brie.

Brie is not surprised that it is Beatrice, not Willow, whom delivered that blow to Ecks. Unlike the other lower ranking Knights especially the females, she is not quick to be intimidated by the female High Captain. She adjusts her glasses, shooting a smug look at Beatrice. “I should’ve known that it was you who would take such brutish action,” she says.

“Remember your place Second Lieutenant Auburn,” said Beatrice. She leans in close and says, “Or do you wish me to teach you the lesson again.”

Brie does not back down. “I don’t think His Grace would like it.”

“Know. Your. Place.” Beatrice sternly emphasizes each word. Just because Brie serves under the White Sage directly doesn’t give her the right to disrespect her. She still out ranks Brie and will continue to remind her of her position.

Brie, knowing this is as far as she will be allowed to get with Beatrice, makes the wise decision of relenting. “Yes, Milady,” she says, wanting to choke on her own words.

“That’s better, Lieutenant Auburn,” said Beatrice with a contemptuous sneer. She then steps over toward Ecks. “You got some nerve disrupting us this early in the day,” she says, looking down at him.

“I told her you weren’t a morning person,” Ecks says rubbing his cheek which is still throbbing from Beatrice’s punch.

“Well, I won’t hold you completely responsible,” Beatrice tells him while shooting a look over her shoulder at Brie.

“Whatever. Anyway, is Willow ready yet? We gotta get going before Miss Congeniality here blows a gasket,” said Ecks, generating a look from Brie.

No sooner than as Ecks asked about Willow that she was being pushed through the door by Amanda. “Aww, but it’s too early,” she whines.

“Miss Willow, please,” Amanda said. “You have an assignment.” She gives one last hard shove forward when Willow pushed back. Willow stumbles forward and crashes into Brie. Both of them fall to the ground with Willow landing on top of Brie. Beatrice puts her face in her hand and shakes her head.

“There’s a side of Willow you don’t get to see every day,” Ecks said, looking at Willow’s exposed bottom. Her dress had flipped over when she fell. Beatrice hangs her head lower. Amanda pats her gently on the shoulder to comfort her.

Willow slowly lifts her head. “Ow, that kinda hurt,” she says rubbing her head. She gets ready to lift herself off the floor when she notices her hand pressing down on something soft. She squeezes whatever it is in her hand. It is squishy like a sponge. Her tired mind wondered what the object is. Still groggy from her early morning wake up call, she fails to recognize her hand on Brie’s right breast. Each time Willow squeezed the object she could swear she hears someone moaning, but their voice is muffled. “Hey, does anyone else hear that?” she asks, squeezing Brie’s bosom again.

Beatrice is too embarrassed to say anything. Ecks, however, is not. “You might wanna look down,” he said.

With hazy eyes, Willow stares at Ecks for a bit before looking towards the ground. She sees red hair just past her cleavage. Curious as to whom the hair belongs to, she lifts up until she is on her hands and knees. A gasp from the owner of the red hair has her look again. It’s a young girl with a round face and green eyes. Willow stares at her curiously, trying to remember who she is. She looks familiar yet she can’t think of her name. She sits up on the red headed girl and stares at her harder. Soon, a name comes to mind bit it’s vague. “Hey Leigh,” she says. “Why are you in my bed?”

“Again, my name is Brie, and also we’re not in your bed. You lying on top of me on the floor,” Brie said, stifling her annoyance at the fact that Willow can never remember her correct name. She knows exactly how Beatrice would react if she had shown how much Willow annoyed her.

“Oh, I thought you felt a little softer than usual,” Willow says innocently.

“Miss Willow, could you please get off of me so you and Ecks can begin you assignment,” said Brie.

Willow giggles. “Why, you’re so comfy.”

“Miss Willow,” Brie grated out, keeping a tight lid on her growing frustration.

Before the situation grows worse, Ecks decides to intervene. “Come on, Willow. Stop crushing the poor girl,” he says. He takes hold of her arm and gently lifts her to her feet. “Upsie daisy.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” said Brie. She gets to her feet and straightens out her uniform. “Now, if we can proceed, His Grace would like to see you.” She turns sharply and walks down the hall.

“What crawled up her ass?” Willow asked with a hint of contempt.

“I dunno, but you can bet it will definitely be a diamond that comes out,” Ecks quipped. Willow laughs with him. “Come on.” They both then follow Brie.

In the communications room, the Intel branch of the Knights of Arcana are busy keeping watch for any disturbance from the Spirit Realm as well as communications with ally kingdoms and villages. Xehtus Alpex, the White Sage of Arcana, is there to greet Ecks, Willow and Brie with Caleigh at his side. Ecks, Willow and Brie salute the Ruler of Arcana. The White Sage responds in kind with a nod.

“What is our assignment, Your Grace?” Ecks asks.

“Is there another Relic?” Willow adds.

“Not this time,” says White Sage Xehtus. “Someone is requesting our assistance. Third Lieutenant Ashford will explain.”

“Early this morning, we received a letter from Eshtar. There’s an incident of some sort that requests our attention,” said Caleigh.

“Eshtar, eh?” Ecks said with familiarity.

The mention of Eshtar also triggers a memory in Willow as well. She looks at Ecks and asks, “Isn’t that where we dealt with a basilisk not too long ago?”

“You are correct, Miss Willow,” said the White Sage. “That is why you and Ecks are being deployed to the area. But be wary.”

“Why is that?” asks Ecks.

“Because of the letter,” Caleigh folds the letter back to the state it was delivered in and shows Ecks the crest stamped on it. It is a hammer with a fire pit in the background. “This is the Forgers Crest, from the village of Tulpaar.”

“Tulpaar Village, the last I heard they didn’t like us very much,” Ecks said. “Change of heart?”

“Doubtful; Tulpaar has had animosity towards Arcana for some time. Whoever sent this letter is not a part of Tulpaar’s Regal Society. They had to get this letter out through other channels because the Regal Society is the one who cut ties with Arcana,” Brie said.

“There’s another village nearby, right?” Ecks says. He had remembered another village that is in the same vicinity as Tulpaar.

Caleigh remembers the same village. “That would be the answer. Tulpex has no ill feelings towards Arcana. In fact, their merchants still come here as I recall. So it’s likely this letter was sent from there.”

“Hmm, that would make sense,” White Sage Xehtus agreed. “Whoever sent this letter did it under the wire which means their situation must be extremely sensitive. First Lieutenant Ecks and Miss Willow, your assignment is to investigate this situation in Tulpaar Village. Be discreet and be careful.”

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