"I have to thank you again, Thank You." Brutus said sarcastically. "You said you were going to save me, and here you are, saving me from The Inside!"
Secrat smiled dryly. The shackles around his hands and the cell encumbering him made it a little hard to see the humor in his predicament.
The brilliant tapestries woven with intermingling colors and an array of visuals, the fanciful decor, the enormous castle, and dirt less streets did not prelude to the Italina prisons.
The floors carpeted filth, a suffocating aroma of dust and soot. The lighting abysmal with nothing natural bleeding into its confines. Rather, candles were strewn about the outside of the cell walls. The candles seemed not to lead to the stairs on the left side, going up, but to a wooden platform, a step above the floor, where ropes fell from the ceiling. The Gallows.
It was a scare-tactic, Secrat knew. A theatric. A show meant to petrify the prisoners. Like the Aeonian. Copé inspected his thought. The Aeonian was more than that. He looked back over to Brutus, "Well, at least we'll keep you from dying alone."
Brutus snickered some, leaning his back against the wall of his adjacent cell, looking over to Lukas Lewis and Samuel Syi to his right. Secrat looked to his left. To his right. "Tell me again, if you would, how the Italina Knights would even know Samuel and Lukas existed?" He asked, his eyes over to Taison. Whose bloodshot and teary eyes told a story of utter defeat.
"After you and Brutus left, a knight arrived on horseback to where I," Taison stopped a second, a large sniffling snort followed, "To where I was, and then," Taison stopped again, breathing heavily.
Copé snapped his fingers and rattled the shackles around his wrists, "Blurt it out," he yelled; irritated.
"Secrat, be calm," Samuel said firmly.
Copé groaned, pacing around in his cramp, new home.
"The Knight noticed the Statue of Livius Reid. Said it belonged to a woman. I told him I was her friend and I was holding it for her. He believed me, or at least, I think he believed me. But then, the Woman must have come back through the gates, told them about you two trying to kill her! Because he arrested me thereafter."
"But that doesn't explain how they knew about Samuel," Secrat quipped fast, realizing their one true chance, or only hope at rescue was shackled beside him a few cells down. Copé let out a breath, he could hear his rattling chains, his hands were shaking. "What happened?" He said next, his voice swayed in such a way as to come off friendly and non-confrontational.
"The Knight had a blade to my throat and I," Taison sobbed like a small child, with hyperventilating and heavy-breathing at excess, "I was terrified. They told me they'd kill me if I didn't act normal, that I needed to wait until you and Brutus came back.”
"You sold us out," Secrat returned. "You could have called their bluff; they'd have locked you up."
"I didn't know it was a bluff!" Taison fired back. "I'm new to this. I don't see why I had to take the hardest job for!"
Secrat yanked loud at the chains. Scaring Taison. He ran over to the cage bars, glaring at him. "You were given the only job Samuel thought a fat piece of shit like you wouldn't mess up and look what went and happened!"
"Maybe if someone wasn't always ready to kill someone, it wouldn't have been a problem," a voice called out, accusative and fierce. Secrat looked over to Lukas Lewis.
"It wasn't me," Secrat replied, feeling his teeth on-edge. "I am the only reason Brutus didn't slash a knife into her flesh."
"And you're bragging about that?" Brutus interjected. "If I would have killed her, none of this would be happening!"
Lukas' eyes weakened their intense beam at The Thief, a concerned look or a surprised one, he looked over to Brutus. "You tried to kill her? Father Toucan Veras specifically said," Lewis began, but was quickly interrupted.
"I know what Toucan said. And I'll tell you what, let's see who he likes more, a traitor or an almost murderer." Brutus answered, now in a seated position, he motioned at Taison with his foot and gave a smile. Lukas didn't smile back, his face remained offended and angry.
Samuel shushed Brutus, and when Ess attempted a retort, Samuel shushed him again. An Italinian Knight came down the stairs, the look on his face was firm and serious, plain and authoritative. Again, this was the mustache-twirling knight that they had seem the entirety of their time at the Aer Festival.
The Knight didn't contact any of them, simply came down the stairs and stopped at a large writing desk in the middle of the room. He skimmed through varies pieces of parchment for several times, Copé noticed the key hanging from the belt at his side.
The Knight's silver armor had been dealt away with, and now wore an attire more resembling of hard-leather. He continued rifling through pages, nodding and talking to himself, until, finally, looking off over the table at his prisoners. "Feeding time!" He said, a large, holier than thou smile on him as he said it.
The man no longer wore a helm. He had short dirty blond hair and an average build. No weapon on his person.
If he neared close enough, and The Thief could get his hands on him, he could ... do what? Copé stopped and considered his options for a moment.
Killing him wasn't ideal, but he might not be given a choice.
Lukas Lewis would be upset, and he'd get an earful from Father when they returned to The Flux. That was fine with him. He accepted that. But his mind was also somewhere else. Before, it was summoned the very moment he took the life of an Italina Knight. Was it a coincidence? He wasn't for certain.
However, he knew Livius Reid would stop them with his presence.
Copé needed the key.
The Knight stepped off to a part of the room obscured by a wall and out of view for Secrat and them in their cells. His hand-gesture suggesting he'd return in a moment.
"Any cogs in motion in that head of yours?" Brutus asked. Secrat looked over to him, but Ess' eyes were on Samuel.
Samuel's eyes were squinted, looking around the room with keen observation. The Chosen Elite Thief by the side of Father Toucan Veras.
"Have you noticed the key hanging from his belt?" Copé whispered, his face pressed against the cell bars, looking at Samuel.
"Yes, I have," Samuel said, a small smile. "But I need an ample opportunity to grab it. If I grab it and he notices me doing it, he'll have the advantage. He'll ready a weapon or alert the other guards. It needs to be done discreetly and without him knowing. I'll throw each of you the key and once we're free we'll dispose of him." Samuel checked the pockets of his leggings. "I only wish they'd have left my," Samuel stopped for a minute, taking his hands from his pockets and looking at one hand; confused. There were burn marks circling his middle finger.
"What do you mean by dispose of?" Lukas Lewis asked, quietly, almost beneath his breath.
"Time you realized a real lesson about The Red Flux," Samuel said. "We're not murderers, but we will survive."
Lukas' mouth hung open like he was about to speak but was startled by the sound of The Knight wheeling in the cart behind him. The Knight continued wearing his large, ear-to-ear grin on his face as he did so. "You'll have to excuse our accommodations," he started, a loud chuckle.
The cart he pushed was wobbly and rickety with wooden shelves that appeared rotten. Glass plates rested on each shelf. "Our prisons may be more on the dingy side than you've come to expect, living in that high-esteemed Wilderness of yours."
Copé felt in his leggings. The Italina Knights armor had been plucked off of him, but as they disposed of that, The Thief did manage to smuggle a white phosphorous pine-stick and a piece of abrasive parchment in his flask. It was though they'd find them dangerous.
Italina was oblivious to such methods of creating fire, resorting to rubbing rocks together and things of the sort. He was fortunate enough that they left his flask. He removed the items from out of its confines.
"I can promise you, however," The Knight continued. "If nothing else, Italina lives to satisfy your palate. It might not be Ollie's Abil, but I can tell you, it's better than the grub you inbred cretin get back home." The Knight flashed a smile, removing the dome-lid off from the rusted silver-platter. Calling the food less than Ollie's Abil was an understatement. Sushi, burnt on the top, a charcoal tint, and what looked like spaghetti noodles, without the sauce, dry and bleakly colored.
The Knight wheeled the cart over to the other side of the room, the side closest to the stairs and closest to Taison. Secrat saw Samuel bracing himself in his cell at the opposite end.
"You really are ridiculous people, you know that?" He said, laughing some more. "Living out in holes and in tents but look at this wonderful paradise I have for myself!" He said, flailing his arms up, "And there you are, living in holes. These cells might as well be a blessing for you." The Knight brought the top-plate off from the cart and walked over toward Taison, who seemed more than reciprocating to The Knight's offering of food.
Copé sighed. The boy was a glutton at heart, but at a second glance, he saw something else on Taison's face. Scheming eyes and a lip that quivered at the knowledge its owner was about to do something foolish.
"You have to wonder how many diseases you've all encountered out there... how many infections." The Knight brought the plate over to Taison.
The Thief reacted quick to try and stop him from his act but wasn't fast enough.
Taison might have meant to be discreet, reaching for it when The Knight was leaned over, about to slide the plate beneath the cell door, but he failed. The Knight either heard the rattling shackles or felt his presence and reacted thus, leaping back and out of his reach. Both Taison's arms were fitted awkwardly between the cell-bars and The Knight yanked the chain between them and brought them out more, then rammed them with his knees. The first arm fell back, but the other was less willing, breaking as it unnaturally bent itself.
Taison cried out, a scream of agony, falling helplessly, supported by the bars of the cell. The shackles on his hands shook, his body convulsing like he was nearing his death. The Knight looked at the slobbering buffoon with disgust, brushing himself off like it was unpleasant to even be touched by the likes of a wanderer.
The Knight would be more protective over his keys from then on, and in that, Copé knew the opportunity was leaving them.
The Thief took a large gulp of alcohol, tasting the contaminates of his pine-stick and parchment. He arose back to his feet and spat the alcohol off into The Knight's face. His wearied state enabled the means for Secrat to snatch the keys off his belt and scrape the pine-stick over the sandpaper, lighting his stick. "How FUCKING dare you!?" The Knight yelled, his face red with rage, but before he could open his eyes to the perpetrator, Copé lit him ablaze.
The Knight let out a shrieking howl, cupping his hands over his face like it'd keep the flame from engulfing it. He twisted and spiraled, falling down onto the floor. Falling on his back. The fire raged on. No longer yelling from his anguish, but not dead either. The Knight's focus seemed drifted more on his left hand, which shook like it was trying to break itself off.
Copé noticed the ring on his finger, it seemed to be giving off steam. Brutus Ess, who was once laughing at the dismay of The Knight, laughed no longer.
The steam sprayed out fast. And while The Knight's hand reflected the symptoms of a seizure, the rest of his body was still. The fire died down.
"What the fuck is this?" Brutus blurted out in amazement of the whole spectacle.
The Red Flux & the Wunderkind THief
Chapter One (1 - 2 - 3)