Arcana X 1st Assignment: Gunslinger Swordsman Ch.1 Pt.4

Arcana X title

Hearing the name of the well-spoken about Knight of Arcana spurred murmuring amongst the patrons of Boar’s Head. They traded their own incarnations of Ecks’s exploits, heard from the mouths of others. One man claimed an army of Ogres to fell by Ecks. Another reported from a relative in a faraway land to have witnessed Ecks take down the fearsome hound–the Bandersnatch, where many others have met their fate in the great dog’s maw. Defeating Banshees, fighting gremlins, busting ghosts—the various stories and tales move on whispers of Boar’s Head patrons. But the descriptions remained the same—an Arcana Knight who uses his guns likes swords which are crossed on his back to signify his name. The monikers vary from location to location. In the Western Region, he is called the “Yellow Flash.” Those in the Northern Region identify him as the “Grey Gauntlet.” But the “Gunslinger Swordsman” suits him best as agreed upon by so many.

However, to Cleetus it didn’t matter what Ecks is called, for only the last thing he wants to hear Ecks be called is dead. With his time watching from the sidelines up, the large man steps forward. Ecks just smiles as the mountain of human bulk strolled and stop just before him. Cleetus towered over Ecks; he stared down at him with his lips stretched into a wide grin. “The Gunslinger Swordsman Arcana X,” Cleetus said.

“It’s been awhile, Cleet,” Ecks said. “Haven’t seen you since that time in Westhook.”

“Yeah, you put me in a real bind back there. Left me with a humungous repair bill.”

“You’re still whining about that? C’mon, it wasn’t that bad.”

Cleetus frowns. “You put me in some serious debt; left me broke. And I’m gonna take it out on your ass.” He then looks across Mangus and his gang whom he hired to deal with Ecks. Needless to say that he was none too happy with their efforts. Unfortunately for Mangus, Cleetus’s pride outshines him. “You useless sacks stand back.” Cleetus drew his Claymore and aimed it at Ecks. “I show you how a real man handles business since you bums aren’t up to it,” he said, drawing reactions from the men he hired.

“What?! You told us we would be dealing with some punk kid!” the man in the leather vest said.

“Hey, you never said anything about going up against an Arcana Knight, let alone the Gunslinger Swordsman,” Mangus shot at him angrily.

“What’s your deal, man?!” said the red bandanna man.

“Fine, ya bunch of pansies! Just stay outta my way and watch the real men fight,” Cleetus retaliated.

“What real men?” Cleetus looked towards the bar where Willow is perched daintily on the counter. She had just finished pouring herself another pint of ale before swinging her legs back over. After gulping down some of her fresh mug, she says, “Who said you were a real man? The only real man I see is Ecks.”

Slowly scanning Willow over, Cleetus grins like a hungry dog in a butcher shop. “Hey girlie, how about after I finish with this wimp I show you what it’s like to be with a real he-man,” he said. Willow, gulping more ale, responds with a delicate belch. Cleetus, chuckling, says, “I like a girl with class.” He looks back at Ecks, pointing his sword again at the young Knight. Cleetus used to have his own gang up until a year ago. It was while he was extorting shop owners and inn keepers for protection money in a town in the Southern Region that he first ran into Ecks who had learned about him and his Red Ruby gang terrorizing towns across the Southern and Northern Regions. He thought nothing of the young Knight. Thinking him to be inexperienced, Cleetus attacked fiercely with his Claymore he named Bella. To his surprised, Ecks was more skillful than anticipated had easily beaten Cleetus, which resulted in him being kicked out of the Red Ruby gang.

This defeat would lead to several confrontations with Ecks. Cleetus feels defeating the Arcana Knight would restore his status as leader of the Red Ruby gang. Misfortune has plagued him since then. He has had several encounters with Ecks, each one resulting in an embarrassing and often times humiliating defeat. Cleetus has ended severely in debt due to the damages he caused and the meals Ecks swindled him into paying for. This latest encounter is no different from any of the priors. Cleetus’s last meeting ended with Bella getting broke along with his wallet. With Bella reforged, he stands confident that this will be his time.

He holds the massive sword out with a gleaming grin. In his mind, this is it; this time he’ll beat Ecks and win back his leadership of the Red Ruby gang. “Yeah, this is it Ecks. You’re mine this time. As you can see, my dear Bella is back and stronger than ever. You ain’t breakin’ her this time. I’ll take you out and then that wench of yours will know what it’s like to be with a real man, not some hot-shot punk. I’ll even take those fancy guns of yours. Whaddya say to that, eh?” Cleetus said with his lips stretched into a wide grin, radiating with self-assurance that this will be the day that he defeats Ecks.

“How many of those have you had?” Ecks asks. The grin on Cleetus’s face drops as he looks at Ecks with bewilderment.

“Only five,” answered Willow, pouring herself another pint.

“Five counting this one or five before this one?” asks Ecks nonchalantly.

“Geez, just five,” Willow shot back and then chugs down some of her renewed mug. “You’re starting to sound like Betty.”

Crossing his arms and sighing, Ecks says, “Speaking of which, could you make that your last one? The last I need is your sister chewing my ass out because you got drunk again. We don’t need another incident like what happened in Boyer Village.”

“Aw, come on, it wasn’t that bad,” said Willow light-heartedly. “Everyone was having fun.”

“You took your top off and tried to kiss everybody especially the waitresses,” Ecks shot back.

Willow says, “You know you liked it.” She takes another swig.

“Whatever.” Ecks scoffed.

“HEY! Are you even listening to me, you ignorant bastard!?” Cleetus yelled, having been ignored during his premature victory speech.

Ecks tilts his head to Cleetus. “Oh, were you sayin’ something? Didn’t even notice,” he says calmly, scratching his ear with his pinky.

“What the–you little punk!” snapped Cleetus angrily. He grinded his teeth as his inferiority mounted. For the past year, he has been humiliated time and again by Ecks. That will not happen this time. Feed up with the young Knight’s cockiness, Cleetus rushes at him with Bella raised high. “This is it, you brat!!” Swinging the claymore down with all his fury, his only thought was putting an end to any further encounters.

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