Take a step back and see through
The eyes of someone else.
I can feel pressure on my chest, and I have that feeling that I’m being watched. Almost as if a cat was sitting on me, waiting for me to move. Maybe if I sit here for long enough the cat will go away. A voice whispers into the still air. “Who are you?” Since when can cats speak? I open my eyes, only to meet not the face of a harmless cat, but the blades of two long swords. I scuttle backwards towards the wall, the blades following me. The one wielding the swords tilts his head to the side and grins. “Who, are you?” I begin to stand but the duel swordsman glares at me intensely. “You didn’t answer me.” He over annunciates his question. “Who are you?” his serious resolve lasts for another five seconds before he drops both blades and grins again. He spins around and stares out the door, wide-eyed. He gasps “A butterfly!” Sprinting outside he begins to grasp at the fluttering insect, never quite making the catch. Who the hell was he and what the hell is wrong with him? I continue to watch him. He’s a fox spirit. That much I can tell. Now he’s crouching on the ground, swords discarded, tail wagging, ears back. “You’d think he was fighting a giant monster…” I mumble to myself.
“He probably is in his vision.” Zasha has awoken and is sitting up, hugging the quilt. “His name is Xzenox. He got a pretty bad case of schizophrenia. You know, when ya see things…and he’s rather…how do I put it…not…sane?” I turn to the red, spikey haired fox spirit who is now laughing and rolling around on the grass. “Xzenox hah…” his ears twitch and he shoots up onto his feet, running to the doorway of the shack. “Someone say my name?” he twitches and grins at me, laughing. “I still, have absolutely no idea who you are. I just show up here, after a lovely morning walk chasing squirrels and monsters, and there you are, in my house-“
“Our house, Xzenox.” Zasha corrects him.
“…Right…” His attention seems to wander off again. “Any one hear that noise?” his eyes are watching the ceiling and his ears twitch. Collecting his swords he sprints outside. We both watch as he slices at thin air, shouting battle cries. “Like I said. He aint very sane.” Xzenox continues this act for a good hour. It seems a group of bandits are invading. “Haha! That’ll teach you to mess with me you pack of…pansies!” he spits. Triumphant, he finally struts back, his footing uneven. “So! What have you two been up to?” Zasha and I remain silent; we had started breakfast without him. Considering whenever we tried to call him in he just shouted to us “Cant now, I have bandits to fight!” Xzenox looks from me to Zasha. “Zasha?”
She sighs “Yes, Xzenox? What is it?”
“Who is this?” Xzenox is crouching behind me, poking my broken stump of a horn. “This is Damien. He’s a demon.”
“A demon!?” he pulls his hand away as if electrocuted. He laughs and puts his hand on his face. “Wait a second. We’re all demons! How could I forget? I’m so dull sometimes.” Shaking his head, he sits next to me. “What’s your story anyway? Were you a bandit?” Xzenox leans closer “Or maybe you were…a cold blooded killer?” I stare at him blankly. “I mean you got the eyes for it…you have…nice eyes…” Ok. Xzenox is definitely not sane. “I was a servant.” Xzenox’s eyes widen.
“A servant?!” he picks up a piece of bread. “Well that’s boring.” Biting off a bit of the bread he mumbles “I thought you’d have a cool story. I mean you got a really weird eye, a broken horn thingy...” He glances at my clothes. “And a strange fashion sense.”
“Hey, you’re not the most normal person I’ve ever met either. Also… if you live here as well where were you last night?” Xzenox pauses, mid-way through taking another bite of bread. “I was….I was…” Take your time. “Oh yeah! I was on the roof of the village bakery, eating cake which I stole from the lady there…the lady that was there.” He grinned. “She’s not there now though!” Zasha narrows her eyes and Xzenox’s ears fold back. “I didn’t do what I did last time… I swear…”
“Xzenox. What happened to the bakery lady?” Xzenox’s eyes darted from corner to corner, never stopping on Zasha. “Xzenox?” he closed his eyes.
“I did what I did last time…”
“Just as I thought.” Zasha sighed. I was so lost. What did Xzenox do to her? “Xzenox, where did you put her? And who’s in the bakery now?”
“The bakery lady is in the basement of the armoury… and the normal people who run the bakery are still there!” He grins, content with his information giving skills. Zasha looks confused “So you’re saying the person you moved was a customer?” Xzenox twitches his tail and flicks his ears. “I….think so.” Now I’m even more confused.
“Anyone mind telling me what the hell Xzenox has done with the lady?” I ask. Zasha stands, walking over to Xzenox. She ruffles his hair and pulls his ears. “He ‘moved’ her. As he likes to say. In other words he took her from one place and put her in another. Just for the fun of it.” She glares at him. “He does this all the time. I have no idea why, or for what reason apart from fun.” Xzenox is trying to fix his now even spikier
hair. “I only move suspicious people. If I move them, they can’t be bandits and attack people!” I don’t think anyone will ever understand what goes on inside this weird fox spirit’s head. Ever. Though one thing is for sure; he doesn’t like bandits. “How did you even get her in the armoury? Don’t they have guards in that building?” Xzenox shrugs and I can see his focus is slipping. “We need to go an get her out. For all I know Xzenox could have locked her in a cupboard in the basement. Seriously Xzenox sometimes I have no idea what to do with ya. One moment your chasin butterflies, the next your taking random people and placing them in random buildings.” Zasha walks to the back of the room, pulling a small dagger from between the floorboards. “We’ll all go tonight. And Xzenox.” He looks up at her happily, wagging his oversize black tip tail. “No more movin people. Ever.” He frowns and strokes his swords.
“Well if a bandit comes here, I bet it’ll be one of the suspicious people…”
The dark fingers of night began to spread over the sky, pulling down the setting sun. The three of us crouched upon a small hill behind the village. Not many people were out but I could make out a few watchmen patrolling the cobblestone streets. “Damien, just lettin ya know; you can’t be seen when we get in there. People in this village don’t like demons. They’ve been taught that demons are evil beasts but they dun know any better. They believe anythin the church tells em.” I nod. To think we are risking our lives just because Xzenox had to stop one of his imaginary bandits.He really did have serious problems. I could feel the slight breeze he was making with his tail. The excitement of breaking into the armoury yet again making him unable to stay still. “Xzenox, I need you to go in first. Pretend it’s a game of bandits.”
“Bandits?! I hate bandits…” he growls angrily. Zasha giggles. “Yes, I know. That’s why we need you to knock em all out for us. Don’t kill em, just knock em out. The more bandits you knock out, the more points you get. Okay?” Xzenox stares blankly at the village.
“Knock out the bandits… but don’t kill them…I think….I can do that.” He whispers a little too evilly. Remind me not to get on this phsyco’s bad side. Xzenox darts forward into the village. My mouth hangs open as I watch him take out guard after guard after guard. Zasha nudges me “Come on big bro, let’s follow him.”
We manage to catch up with Xzenox. A watchman is being held between him…and one of his swords. Zasha and I hang back. If we go out there now and we are spotted by somebody else, people will be out for all of us. “How has your day been so far, bandit?” Xzenox is grinning like a cat, twitching every few seconds. “Was it pleasant?” the watchman doesn’t respond. He slowly drags his sword across the watchman’s throat and lets him fall to the ground. Xzenox stands over the lifeless body for a while, letting out a quiet snicker as he turns around to the two of us. “Bandits are never good to keep around.” He whispers, twitching again. “So I got rid of them.” My jaw remains open. Does this fox not understand English? We told him not to kill anyone… although it was impressive how easily he cut them down. Xzenox grins at the both of us, wagging his tail. “Well what are you two gaping at? We’ve got bandits to get rid of.” Dragging his swords against the stone, he turns and continues towards the armoury. “And I’m not waiting for you both to catch up!” he adds, disappearing down a dark, narrow street. Not saying a word, we run after him. Knowing his current mental state, it’s likely he will take down anyone in his murderous path. The armoury was located in the centre of the small village, where most of the watchmen patrolled. I could hear Zasha’s ragged breath as she ran behind me. She was obviously in no state to be running. I slow down to let her pass me. “What are you doin big bro? We gotta catch up to Xzenox or he’ll-“ I pick her up and onto my shoulders. “There is no way you should be running with those wounds.” Blood is dripping from her bandaged feet, forming puddles where she had walked. “Uh...thanks…big brother.”
“No problem. Now let’s get going, who knows what Xzenox is doing.” We pass through several more streets, following trails of bloodied watchman. A stone building surrounded by black iron fences towers before us. The gate has been opened, with the bars bet out of place and snapped in two. Several guards lay face down, motionless. I notice several bullet shells on the ground and scratches on the walls. “This is the place.” Murmurs Zasha. I walk past the battered gates into the main courtyard. Again, guards are motionless, and the door to the armoury hangs open, several indents in its wooden, splintered surface. I follow the sound of metal against metal. It becomes louder until I see before me Xzenox fighting several guards at once. He swirls his blades left and right, back and forth, slicing into skin and bone. A guard sneaks behind Xzenox, about to draw a sword through his heart. Xzenox twitches. He sends one of his blades backwards, going through the chainmail and cutting off the man’s head. The head tumbles down, along with the body, splattering on impact with the splintered floor boards. Xzenox tilts his head to the side and asks happily “Who else would like to be like that guy? Hah?” the men back away. “No one?!” Xzenox asks shocked. “Well that’s a shame…” by this point all of the guards have long gone from the room. “How rude, they just left me! No goodbye, no nothing. I can’t believe the nerve of some people!”
“What the hell Xzenox?! How many people did you kill?!” I yell. He pauses, as if thinking. “About twelve…no…fourteen… somewhere around there.” I stare at him, awestruck. Fourteen? This guy is insane! Well… more than insane. Zasha interrupts my thoughts. “Okay, I dun know if you guys remember but we have a person to free? A person who we will not be killing.”