[11th of September, 2740 AD; Abandoned Warehouse in the Winged Eagle District, Helm, Ahnlikohn]
Sorin deflected Jelka’s strike as he fought back. She managed to dodge his sword, but Rain was on the other side ready to attack next. Jelka quickly turned as she raised her blade and defended herself. With an opening created, Sorin thrusted his sword forward. Jelka dodged the attack, however, as she leapt back and lifted up her sword.
“It seems as if you’ve gotten better,” Jelka said, “But let me see you try to stop this!”
Once again, she rushed towards the two. But instead of attacking Sorin or Rain, Jelka leapt into the air. She rotated her body and landed behind the two, with Mina now in Jelka’s sights. Mina anticipated the next attack as Jelka charged at her.
Rain turned around. “Mina!”
“Take this!” Jelka exclaimed.
She sent her sword downwards, but Mina rolled out of the way. Jelka tried her next attack, a sideways slash, but Mina ducked under before the blade could hit her. In that instant, Mina surprised Jelka as she grasped the other woman’s right arm with her hands. As her dominant hand was in Mina’s captivity, Jelka could not attack.
Mina tightened her grip on Jelka. “Let’s see how far you’ll go!”
She spun Jelka around and threw her, which sent her flying all the way to the side of the building. Jelka made contact with the wall and instantly dropped to the floor, her sword falling by the wayside. Mina then took time to catch her breath as she stretched her arms out and jumped up and down.
“I don’t care if you are holding a sword or not,” she said, “Because you’ll never win either way!”
“Wow, Mina, that was pretty amazing,” Sorin said.
“Oh, thanks,” she replied. “I wanted to try that move out on Law so badly, but Gavin stopped me before I could do anything. I’m so glad it actually worked!”
“Is she okay?” Rain asked.
Sorin looked to the side and saw Jelka struggle to get to her feet. She reached down to pick up her sword and brushed away the hair in front of her face to her side. With a deep breath, Jelka stood tall as she pointed her blade at the three.
“You seem to be no mere fighter,” Jelka said. “Tell me, girl, who are you?”
“Well, I’ll just tell you,” Mina replied. “My name is Mighty Mina, and these two are Rain and Sorin! Together we’ll beat you!”
“It’s funny, isn’t it?” Jelka asked. “To think that some girl can try and best me in combat. Without a sword, no less!”
“You should just give up,” Rain said. “It’s no use to try and fight a battle you cannot win.”
Jelka swung her sword. “Do you really think you’ve beaten me? Do you really believe that I would just go down this easily? I have no intention of having my family name go tarnished because of this!”
“Your family name?” Sorin asked.
“It’s something you wouldn’t understand,” she said. “Something that none of you would understand!”
“Then there’s nothing left to say,” Sorin said. “You’ve only got two choices at this moment, Jelka: either you escape or you stay here. Either way, it will end with your arrest.”
“Damn you!” Jelka exclaimed. “Damn you and damn that princess! Damn the Royal Family of Thekohn! Damn all of you!”
She once again rushed at Sorin, who defended himself as fast as he could. With his blade shielding against hers, Sorin pushed back on Jelka. Rain joined in and helped Sorin in his counterattack. As Jelka spent her time blocking their slashes and slices, her back was left open. That was when Mina approached from behind and held Jelka in an armlock. With her arms held in place, Jelka tried to move, but Sorin’s next slash made contact with her sword and knocked it out of her hand.
“You! How can you do this?” Jelka asked.
“It’s because I’m so strong,” Mina said, “And now I’m going to do this!”
With Jelka still in her grasp, Mina tilted her body towards the left. The momentum carried Jelka off of her right foot as she started to fall to the ground. Mina then released Jelka from her hold and watched as the other woman dropped to the floor again.
“Damn it all,” Jelka said. “Why has no one showed up yet?”
“You can’t quite do it all by yourself, can you?” Sorin asked. “And when you do have help, you bolt the moment it gets tough and leave the rest behind.”
Jelka pounded her fist into the ground. “Shut up! You have no idea the kind of person I really am!”
“I think we can all see what kind of person you really are,” Sorin said.
“That’s right,” Mina said, “You’re nothing but a coward! Even Noa would say you’re pathetic!”
Noa stood at the doorway when he heard that. “Oh, thanks.”
“You are nothing without your group,” Mina continued. “A worthless villain that cannot win as long as there are heroes around!”
Jelka uttered a quiet laugh. “You think I’m worthless? I’ll show you what worthless truly is!”
She sprung up to her feet and threw her fist at Mina. Mina was quick enough to block, but Jelka continued with her attack. Sorin and Rain decided to just sheath their swords and help Mina out. They were able to restrain Jelka as she squirmed around in the hold of both Sorin and Rain.
“I cannot be worthless!” Jelka screamed. “I am not worthless! The Arne family is anything but worthless!”
“There you go again,” Sorin said.
“Now I’d like to know, too,” Rain said. “What happened to your family?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Jelka asked. “You should ask your father about what happened to the Arne family, princess!”
In that moment, Jelka shoved both Sorin and Rain back. With her body free, Jelka charged at Mina again. She picked up her sword off the ground and swung at Mina, who rolled out of the way as Jelka continued her pursuit. As Mina continued to avoid Jelka’s attack, Sorin interfered as he took out his sword in an instant and blocked the next attack.
Rain waved over at Mina. “Over here!”
Mina hurried over to Rain, who had her sword withdrawn. “She just doesn’t give up! What are we going to do?”
“Now Mina, it’s up to us heroes to deal with a villain as best we can,” Rain replied. “I have an idea. Take my hand.”
“Oh, uh, if you insist,” Mina said.
Mina put her hand on Rain’s as they both now had control of her sword. They then ran over to Jelka, who was busy dueling Sorin. As he deflected Jelka’s attack, Rain looked at Mina, who looked back and nodded.
“Raise the blade!” Mina exclaimed as she and Rain lifted the sword up in the air. “Now let’s bring it down, Rain!”
With their unified strength, Mina and Rain swung the sword down at Jelka. She could only attempt to block the attack with her steel, but the massive impact was strong enough to break Jelka’s sword.
Jelka looked on in disbelief. “You can’t!”
With half of the sword falling to the ground, the other half still remained in Jelka’s hand as Mina and Rain stopped their sword right above her head. Sorin then lowered his own sword as Noa entered the room. With her defeat realized, Jelka fell to her knees.
“Well? You may as well kill me now,” Jelka said. “I’m nothing but a failure. I’ve failed to restore my family’s honor. If you want to put an end to my life, then just do it now!”
Sorin shook his head. “No, we’re not going to kill you,” he said. “As vile as your actions have been today, it’s not my job to decide whether you live or die.”
“You really believe that?” Jelka asked. “You almost sound like that warrior who would spare his enemies after defeating them in a battle.”
“Well, I’m not him,” Sorin said. “I’m just a guy who decided to help.”
“How humble,” Jelka replied. “To think that I’ve been bested by you three… it’s truly impossible to believe.”
“It must be a real shock to you, right?”
Law walked into the empty warehouse, followed closely by Gavin, Eva, and Ayanna. They saw Jelka there on the ground as Sorin turned to greet them all.
“I didn’t expect to see you guys here,” Sorin said. “What happened?”
“It’s a long story,” Gavin replied. “Let’s just say we’ve been tipped off to a kidnapping, so to speak.”
“So this is the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order,” Ayanna said. “I would say I’m surprised, but then again, from what I know, it’s just tragic things had to turn out this way, Miss Arne.”
Jelka scoffed. “Are you mocking me? Because you know nothing about what I’ve been through.”
“Wait, how do you know about her?” Sorin asked.
“There’s some secrets that only the Iiayikohnian government knows about,” Ayanna replied, “But that’s besides the point. You’ve got nowhere to run, Jelka Arne, because the Ahnlikohnian military are fast approaching this area.”
“Now tell us what you’ve done with Miss Roeik,” Law said. “We know that she’s in this town and that you’ve been keeping her captive.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jelka said.
“How sad,” Law replied. “Even when you’re down on knees, you continue to lie. Just so you know, I’m not one who falls for such lies.”
“Believe me or not, what I say is true,” Jelka said. “I have no clue of who this ‘Miss Roeik’ is.”
“I don’t think she’s lying, Law,” Rain said.
“Then was the note that I received false?” Ayanna asked. “I have trouble believing that someone would go out of their way to pull something like this, all for it to be a lie.”
“Perhaps we could ask around,” Eva said.
“Oh, you don’t need to do that. I know where she is.”
At the other end of the warehouse, in the opening of the other entrance, stood Crawford Bradley. He had his arms crossed and his back against the door frame as everyone turned their attention towards him.
“Excuse me?” Gavin asked. “What the hell is an Ameci soldier doing here?”
“Wait a minute,” Mina said. “Are you with those other jerks?”
“Other jerks? You’re going to have to be more specific,” Bradley said. “Then again, I don’t think I care for that attitude.”
Mina frowned. “You have a lot of nerve!”
“Anyway, I believe you were wondering about where Silvia Roeik is,” Bradley continued. “You should be thanking me that I’m willing to divulge this information to you, because if that man wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have even bothered.”
He pointed at Sorin, who could only stare back at him. There was an air about Bradley that Sorin could feel. It was an air that felt intimidating, almost as if Bradley was threatening him.
“What do you mean by that?” Rain asked. “What does Sorin have to do with this?”
“My friend currently has Silvia with him, and he’s perfectly willing to hand her over back to the Iiayikohnian government,” Bradley replied. “The only condition is that he wants to face Mr. Wilk before doing so.”
“He wants to face me?” Sorin asked. “What for?”
“Let’s just say he really admires you,” Bradley said. “He wouldn’t have bothered doing any of this unless he knew for certain that there was a chance that he could cross paths with you.”
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Gavin said. “Why would Sorin even entertain such a stupid request?”
“Yeah, just give Silvia back, you jerk,” Mina said, “There’s no way Sorin would ever agree to do that!”
“Hold on, I don’t think I was speaking either of you,” Bradley said. “So why don’t the two of you shut the fuck up and let the man answer for himself?”
Gavin raised his fist. “Why don’t you just let me break your fucking face?”
“Don’t get too greedy, Gavin,” Mina said, “Because I want a piece of him, too!”
“Both of you need to calm down,” Law said. “Especially you, bro. Let’s just see what Sorin has to say first.”
“Finally someone gets it,” Bradley replied. “I knew that there were some sane voices in this group.”
“I believe that I said we should hear what he has to say, not you,” Law said. “It’d be best if you followed that, wouldn’t it?”
“You don’t waste a moment to snap back at me, do you?” Bradley asked.
As Ayanna apprehended Jelka, everyone else turned to Sorin. All eyes were on him now, because he had to make a choice. Should he accept the request? Would this person be able to keep their word? Was there another way? Those questions circled around in Sorin’s mind as he took a deep breath.
“Well, Sorin?” Eva asked. “Do you have an answer?”
“Whatever you choose, we’ll support it,” Rain said. “No matter what gets in our way, I know you’ll be there to help us overcome it!”
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Gavin said. “I’d rather take my time kicking this guy’s ass, but that would be a bad idea.”
“Anytime now,” Bradley said. “I think my friend’s quite bored waiting…”
“I’m still thinking,” Sorin replied. “How do I know you’re not just going to pull a fast one on us?”
“Come on, I’m an Ameci just like you,” he said. “Why would I have any reason to lie to my fellow countryman?”
“I don’t really trust him, Sorin,” Mina said, “But I trust you! Heroes constantly face tough decisions, but I know that you’ll do the right thing, no matter what that choice is!”
“If it helps us, then maybe you should do it,” Noa said. “I saw what you’re capable of, Sorin…”
“Where are they?” Sorin asked Bradley.
“So you’re going to do it?” Bradley asked. “I knew that you couldn’t resist the call of a good fight.”
“Just stop,” Sorin said. “Tell me where Silvia is and we’ll go and get her.”
“There’s an old church on the other end of the town,” Bradley said. “He’s waiting right there for you. Luckily for us, it’s closed right now so you should see him in the front with her.”
“Are you sure that we can trust him?” Mina asked.
“Looks likes there’s little choice in this,” Sorin replied. “If this happens to be a lie, I won’t hesitate to contact Henry Randolph.”
Bradley rolled his eyes. “Do what you want,” he said. “I’d suggest you make your move now; my friend gets quite impatient when he’s bored.”
“Okay, let’s get moving,” Sorin said. “Everyone, follow my lead.”
“I don’t think so,” Bradley replied. “A crowd this big is likely to attract attention. It’s only you he wants to see, after all.”
“The more I hear from you, the less I like what I’m hearing,” Ayanna said. “Why are you continuing to insist upon this duel? You’ve already found the escapee, why make a game of it?”
“Let’s just say that we want a little more than glory,” Bradley said. “You would know exactly why this woman is so important to your country, right? The last person to be seen with Alan Berry happened to be her, and we’re expecting quite a response.”
“If it’s money you’re after, I’m sure that we can arrange something,” Ayanna replied. “Still, I want to see for myself, so I’m going with Sorin whether you like it or not.”
“Fine, you can come along,” Bradley said. “I hate having to talk for too long, so let’s start wrapping it up so we can go.”
“If Ayanna’s going, then I’m going,” Gavin said.
Mina pounded her fist into her palm. “Count me in!”
“I trust you Sorin, but I also want to go with you,” Rain said. “I can’t exactly trust this man to hold his word, but as long as we’re together, we’ll be okay.”
“I don’t think he’s going to look kindly on us if we keep holding him up,” Law said. “Personally, I think it’s best if you guys go.”
“You’re coming, too,” Gavin said. “If this guy proves himself to be a liar, we both need to be on high alert.”
“Then I guess Eva’s going to take Jelka along,” Law replied. “That’s okay with you?”
Eva looked over to Jelka. “That won’t be a problem.”
“Looks like everything’s taken care of here, then,” Law said, “Which means that we’ll be heading off now.”
“Guess that’s just something I’m going to have to explain,” Bradley said. “Not like it’s something I’m worried about.”
“Then let’s go,” Sorin said. “Eva, once you and Noa are done dealing with her over there, head back over to the hotel.”
“The hotel?” Eva asked.
“I know where it is,” Noa said. “I suppose that it’s best that we head off soon before things get too messy around here… That goes for the rest of you, too!”
Noa and Eva then left with Jelka, who had already been handcuffed thanks to Ayanna. As there were no remaining obstacles, Sorin and the others followed Bradley to the old church. There they would find Silvia, as well as the man that wanted to challenge Sorin to a duel. Something was definitely off about this situation, that much Sorin knew, but he knew that there was not much he could do about it at this point.
To be continued…