As he enters Arcana Castle, Ecks hears some commotion in the main hall. He walks into the main hall to find Amanda and Willow in what appears to be an altercation with another Knight. Amanda’s voice tends to get high when she’s upset. Looking at the Knight, Ecks shakes his head and chuckles. He has seen this scene play out plenty of times before and to him it will never get old. He takes his time heading over to break up the monotony. “I’ll wait a minute,” he says and then leans against the archway.
“For the last time, Sir Captain, I have to take Miss Willow to draw her bath,” Amanda protests.
“Please, I merely just want to talk my lovely Willow. Aside wench,” the Knight says with a cocky grin as he gently pushes Amanda aside. The Arcana Knight Captain looks down at Willow who is still a bit wobbly. He wore the familiar white armor complete with gauntlets, greaves and chainmail worn underneath for added protection. The armor is intricate in design, exhibiting an almost heavenly appearance. The Knight’s dark hair flowed to his shoulders, framing a handsome face with a broad jaw line and a clef in his chin. “Ah, my dearest Willow, how about I draw your bath and then you and I,” the snobbish Knight says and then he leans in close, “can splash around. What do you say?”
Willow stares blankly at the dark haired Knight for a moment.
“Ahahaha, you’re silly,” she says bursting out with laughter.
The Knight laughs back. “Well that is me, I’m just simply entertaining,” he says with snobbish arrogance.
“You certainly are, Bultus. The ass end of a bad joke,” Ecks chimes in.
Bultus looks at Ecks as the young Knight walks over toward them. He scoffs at him and says with contempt, “Since when did we allow vagabonds into our ranks.”
“About the same time they allowed a rare species of pompous ass to join,” Ecks shot back.
“Don’t you have manure to shovel, stable boy?” Bultus says waving Ecks away as if he were a fly.
“Well if you keep talking, I just might need an entire barrel,” Ecks retorted with his usual banter.
Bultus glowers at Ecks in disgust. He then straightens himself up and says, “You better remember your place Lieutenant. I am your superior officer and you should address me accordingly.”
Ecks, ever quick-witted, shoots back with a charismatic grin, “In that case, you’re a prick.”
Bultus, in shock, spits and sputters before finally hollering back, “You insolent whelp! How dare you speak to me in that fashion!” Just as he is about to continue his rant, his attention is caught by an outburst of laughter from Willow with Amanda trying desperately to calm her down. Bultus changes his focus to Willow and her drunken state. Again, his pompous attitude and high standard upbringing shine through. “And how dare you bring back my sweet Willow in such a state of distress. Hmph, her sister’s idea of allowing you to stay partnered with Willow is foolish on her part.”
“You don’t say,” Ecks says rubbing his chin. He took note of the comment made about Beatrice. Bultus has a long standing dislike of Willow’s sister since she reached the status of High Captain while he remained a Captain. To him, the idea of a female captain, let alone be out ranked by one, is absurd. Bultus even went as far as to challenge Beatrice to a duel. Needless to say that he was outclassed. That loss only furthered his displeasure of a woman captain. Ecks knows this all too well, for he has witnessed Bultus exercise his protest of Beatrice openly and each time Beatrice shut him down the hard way. However, what made him fearful of Beatrice was the severe beating he got when Bultus made a pass at Willow. Bultus spent nearly two weeks recovering in the infirmary to which Ecks paid numerous visits. Ecks sees an opportunity to witness this again as he catches a glimpse of Beatrice stepping through the archway behind Bultus.
“So…you think Beatrice would approve of you being Willow’s partner?” he insisted.
“Ha! She’d be foolish not to. I would’ve been a much better recommendation for Willow’s partner than you. But that woman and her emotions,” Bultus says, shaking his head shamefully. By now, Beatrice is standing at Bultus’s back without his acknowledgement. She eavesdrops as the arrogant Knight Captain went on with his rant.
“That is why a woman is not suited for the status of Captain. They are much too delicate. Or in Beatrice’s case, delicate like a wild boar with a temperament to match. Take this fine young wench right here.” Bultus gestures toward Amanda, “This is a woman who knows her place, service to someone of higher authority. Obviously, that was a lesson Beatrice was never taught in her youth. This is probably why she is an emotional wreck and clearly not suited for her duty as High Captain. Hmm, makes me wonder how many beds she laid in in order to influence her rank.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. High Captain Ashcroft is doing a wonderful job in her position,” Ecks says, taking a momentary peek at a highly upset Beatrice ready to pummel the arrogant Captain.
Bultus laughs and shakes his head in pity. “Ecks, Ecks, Ecks, this is why you’ll be nothing more than a mere vagabond. Putting blind faith in an Amazonian bundle of emotion such as Beatrice is utterly ridiculous. I give her credit for being a fine warrior but inside she is just a scared little girl trying to prove herself,” he says being ever snobbish.
“I’ll give you that Bulty, Captain Ashcroft is an excellent warrior and an awesome captain,” says Ecks. Without tipping off Bultus, he signals to Amanda regarding Beatrice standing behind Captain Bultus. Once Amanda acknowledges her superior, Ecks says to Bultus, “And an awesome Captain has to be able to make the right decisions, especially when it comes to family.”
“Bwa-Ha! Surely you jest! Beatrice deciding that you are the best partner for Willow? How ludicrous. The woman is obviously daft,” Bultus says ostentatiously.
“But Captain Vangard, Lady Beatrice is only taking Miss Willow’s best interests into account,” said Amanda.
“How cute,” Bultus regarded snidely, “Beatrice treats sweet Willow as if she were still a child. And this young upstart doesn’t help the matter any. Now if she were paired with moi, I would treat dear Willow like the woman she has blossomed into. And who knows.” Bultus lays his eyes upon the young blonde, tracing her body over with a lustful look in his eyes.
Beatrice has heard enough. Her boiling anger has reached beyond its limit and right now it is taking every ounce of her strength to keep herself from ripping into the conceded, arrogant captain. Though she has heard Bultus’s protests plenty of times before, Beatrice will continue to reprimand him for his insubordination. “Who knows what exactly, Captain Vangard?” she says sternly emphasizing each word.
Hearing his commanding officer’s familiar sharp tongue sends a chill up Bultus’s spine. His blood turns cold as he slowly turns his head to look over his shoulder at the razor-blade stare of Beatrice slicing through him. Part of his mind wondered how long she was there and how much she heard while another part feared what punishment will be meted out. Or worse, how close to death will she bring him like last time. Bultus tries his best to defuse the situation. “W-Why Milady High Captain, what a…pleasant surprise. My, you’re looking quite lovely today. Is that new armor?” he says, mustering his best smile hoping his complements would deter him from receiving a severe beating.
“Stow it!” Beatrice commands sharply. “Now Captain, tell me you’re not making advances toward my sister again. Tell me you are not trying to undermine me about what I have already decided what is best for Willow.”
Bultus puts on his most charming smile. Perhaps he can charm Beatrice enough for her to issue a lighter punishment than the one he knows she will administer. “Milady, understand that what I said is not out of offense, but rather assurance of your firm leadership as High Captain.”
“Can the comedy, Bultus,” Beatrice ordered, stopping him from speaking any further. Bultus’s plan to swoon her has failed abruptly.
“I thought I made it perfectly clear the last time you made advances toward my sister. I guess breaking nearly every bone in your body was not enough. It seems I’ll just have to mete out something far worse. If humiliation didn’t work then perhaps degradation will.” Bultus stared at her with dread in eyes, for what could be far worse than being beaten so utterly in front of the other Knights and by a woman no less. When in the right mood, Beatrice can be very creative when it comes to punishing those who present themselves in a disorderly fashion. Her methods, often times, can be abnormal and unreasonable; however, they are effective. When Bultus first made advancements toward Willow, Beatrice thought to teach him a lesson by emasculating him in the presence of his peers. Clearly that has not taken well. Knowing his uptight and conceited demeanor, it wasn’t hard for her to come up with a suitable reprimand. Beatrice looks at Bultus intensely. “Amanda, when were the stables last attended to?” she asks her subordinate.
“It has been three days, Milady,” Amanda answered respectfully.
A devious grin stretches across Beatrice’s face. “Good. Bultus Vangard, you are assigned to stable duty. They are to be cleaned top to bottom.” If there is one thing that Bultus prides himself on more than his duties as Captain, it’s his appearance. He is known for constantly having his armor polished to perfection each day and is quick to reprimand anyone who ruins it. Just the other day he made a lower ranked Knight take his gauntlet into Syrus to be cleaned after the Knight accidently scuffed it while walking by him. Bultus gave him a quarter hour to complete the task. The trip to Syrus took ten minutes in itself. Unless it is in battle, there is no other reason for Bultus to sully his armor or his complexion. Beatrice is well aware of the Captain’s vanity, for ruining his good looks would be more painful than any beating she can administer. This is even more evident in the shocked expression slapped on his face.
“Th-The stables? Milady, please, anything else,” Bultus pleaded.
“I can’t think of a far better punishment for someone who prides themselves on vanity,” Beatrice says, and then she adds, “Oh, did I mention there will be no shovel or barrel available to you.”
“You can’t do that! Milady, please have mercy!” Bultus protested.
“I’ll make arrangements with Brutus, or,” Beatrice reaches over her left shoulder for the staff on her back. She takes hold of it but does not draw. “You can duel me again but this time it’ll be in front of the new recruits.”
Weighing his options, cleaning up any type of refuse is absurd to Bultus. Never would he sully his immaculate hands or armor in such filth when he can easily order a subordinate for the task. He doesn’t even bathe himself. Instead, he has his personal female servants cleanse him. In fact, he is the only Knight with personal servants. Bultus grew up in the High Class life. He had servants to answer to his every whim ensuring that he hardly had to lift a finger. That was until his father, a High Captain of Arcana at the time, made him join the ranks of the Knights of Arcana to teach him to more self-sufficient. Needless to say, this lesson didn’t last long as Bultus, soon after passing training, employed several servant women from nearby villages to be his personal servants. So there were objections, he employed women who, as he puts it, know their place. It is this lifestyle that fuels Bultus’s disapproval of Beatrice out ranking him as High Captain, a status once held by his father. He challenged Beatrice to a duel as an outright protest of her status. Losing in front his peers was embarrassing. Losing to Beatrice in front of recruits would be truly humiliating. And worse, Bultus’s orders to the recruits would not be taken seriously, especially when he needs a quick polish on his armor.
“When would you like me to complete your task, Milady?” says Bultus with reluctance. Cleaning the stables is less degrading than being beaten by a woman in front of new recruits who have yet to earn his respect.
“You have half the day,” Beatrice answers calmly.
“Half the day!? Milady, be reasonable!” Bultus protested. To clean the stables, it would take half a day with the use of a shovel. Without the use of one, Bultus is extremely concerned about how long it would take since he does not have the use of a shovel or a barrel.
“I am being reasonable. I could still implement my original sentence and allow you just a quarter of the days’ time,” Beatrice responded with a coy smile.
Knowing that this will be the only time Beatrice will be this kind, Bultus dutifully accepts the High Captain’s proposal. He puts on his best face and says, “Half the days’ time, Lady Beatrice. As you command.” Captain Vangard turns and leaves the Main Hall to fulfill his punishment for violating High Captain Ashcroft’s sister and her status. But mostly, he didn’t want anyone to see the tears draining from his eyes at the horror that awaits him in the stables.
(Have a look at my novel Defenders!! Volume 1 and Volume 2 are available for Kindle and E-book device!! Head to the J1 Bookstore and click the links!! Check my awesome fan fiction: Dante vs. Bayonetta and“Fury Rages On: Kratos vs. Asura!!”)
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