Remaining in a state of grief wasn't going to help me find my brothers. I convinced myself of this mindset.
"Why yah fear?" Bulldog had once asked me during one of our Zen training sessions.
Back then I had no answer. Now I understood what he was trying to teach me. Fear pushed my determination to find my brothers. Hope gave me a belief that they were unharmed. These feelings balanced each other with a purpose. Right now, it was prudent learning as much of the place I had been thrown into. So far luck was on my side.
I noticed there was an inner wall partition near the night table, which masked the view of the attached bathing alcove. The alcove had enough space to fit a one-man square shaped tub and a strange U-shaped seat with a funnel hole. I learned that the seat was called a Washlet Basin.
"According to Master Trix's definition, 'it's a throne to relieve one's load.' I believe the proper term is human excretion device." Forneas had crudely answered my question in regard to it.
When the basin's iron side handle was cranked and released, spurts of water sprayed upwards to clean out the embarrassing body region. Crank the handle a second time, spurts of warm air and a lemon scent was released to dry down the area.
All good and well, but Forneas failed to mention what happened when the handle was cranked too much and released too fast.
"Forneeaas!" I screamed when a geyser of hot air threw me through the rice paper wall partition.
I landed on the other side of the room with my naked butt in the air and face squashed to the ground. A compromising position no decent human being should ever experience.
"Oh, yes, that tends to happen from time to time." Forneas had nonchalantly excused the incident.
"Ha!" I grumpily exhaled, blowing off annoying strands of fringe that had strayed into my eyes.
I stumbled to my feet and reclaimed my decency, feeling relieved that the only ones to witness my contorted body pose was a machine and a spider.
Either way, I was able to perform my ablution and say my prayers despite the conditions and my mixed feelings of anal violation.
Forneas never left the room. I didn't receive other visitors after Leinard's pop in. I figured that the care I received was subject to my level of threat.
I accepted the perks offered whilst I mulled over an escape plan and means to search for my brothers. The animachine brought in meals according to my preferences. Small Cap was given free rein of the room. Forneas offered him bugs and invertebrate suited his taste. Our happy bellies made it difficult to find the motivation to leave.
It was during one of my meal sittings that an odd bird of a man had dropped into the room from the ceiling and messed up my dinner.
"Gaah!" I cursed bitterly when my choice pieces of spring onion dumplings went flying all over the place and sauces were splayed across the ground.
I saw a pulchritude face of a man I haphazardly guessed to be around Death's age.
A bronze monocle patch was strapped over his natural right eye. As I peered closer, I noticed the lens refracted colours as a kaleidoscope would when moved about.
I yelped when his natural left eye flicked open, his blue eyeball moved up and down as if it was performing a scan on my face like Forneas's eye had done on Small Cap.
"Woah, a pretty angel!" The man piped up.
His large white-gloved hands cupped the sides of my head and forced my lips onto his.
I struggled in vain to free myself from our lip-lock, feeling weakened from the warmth and forcefulness his lips pressed to mine. I panicked when the tip of his tongue probed for an entry point into my mouth.
My eyes caught sight of the small body that had landed on his head.
I was released when the man's arms flailed about the air, struggling against Small Caps eight-legged assault that messed up tufts of his short brown hair.
I shuffled to a safer position behind Forneas, vigorously wiped at my mouth and threw every bit of remaining drink down my throat to cleanse away germs that man would have given me.
When I had sanitised enough, I saw that Small Cap had been shaken off to the ground and stretched out with exhaustion.
The man was also panting for breath against the busted partition.
"So that's the spider Leinard was muttering about," he chuckled when he had recovered his breath. "Pretty brutal attack for a small pest."
He pushed himself up off the floor and stood before me, picking off bits of my meal from his dark patchwork overcoat unfastened to reveal his white cotton shirt beneath a buttoned-up navy blue vest and matching blue tie with a gold star symbol at its center.
I saw the largeness of his hands when they dusted off the remaining food debris from his navy-blue pants tucked into calf-length black boots. His long legs carried shape and promise of sinew strength.
"Sturdy like a racehorse," I blurted and blushed when I had realised what came out of my mouth.
He picked up the coils of rope and a belt of finger-size tube metal shells from the floor, removed his overcoat and began fitting them over his chest, so they were crisscrossed against his vest.
My eyes wandered over the outline of his body, which hinted at athleticism. They loitered around the tanned purpose belt—with attached pouch—to his waist and the strangely shaped holster strapped around his right thigh.
"You can keep checking me out. I don't mind." He smirked, standing tall, so I saw him in full glory.
"I would never!" I averted his gaze.
Forneas surprised me when he welcomed the intruder warmly by name.
"Oh, Master Trix. I was expecting you to drop in later. I would have laid another plate." He skilfully cleared away the mess on the square meal mat that was in lieu of a table.
"Drop in? More like crashed in. Just look at the hole in the ceiling." I pointed upwards to draw everyone's attention to the gaping hole above us.
"If you were intending to hold me prisoner, you need to rethink your cell design," I complained and received laughter from the man Forneas had called Trix.
"An angel with an attitude, " Trix commented.
He fiddled with his monocle until he was satisfied it was on properly.
"Call me Trix, Ohime-sama. I'm at your disposal." He surprised me with a genuflection and tender kiss to the back of my hand.
I responded with a reflective backhanded slap to his face. It wasn't enough to shake off the creeps I felt running up my arm.
"Gaah! You're one of those perverts Death warned me of aren't you?"
"Master Trix is the Map of Hell's Labyrinth. It would be impossible for our knights to find their way around the place without him, " Forneas answered.
"Map?" I frowned, perplexed on how this perverted man before me could be a map.
Trix faced me with a sober expression. I noticed his uncanny likeness to the man called Leinard for the first time.
Mature Warning: the next chapter has scenes that may cause discomfort with the kissing scenes between Trix and Famine
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"I'll find a way to save my brother. Do whatever the hell you want. I'm stealing your guns." Famine is a man determined to save his three brothers after they were tragically separated when a magical fire destroyed their monastery home. He finds him...