Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 2)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Tranquil Cardinal Inn, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Johan walked into the hotel, with Pariton close behind him. The two had arrived in Helm only a few minutes ago and were looking for answers as to what had happened. Given from the activity, Johan guessed that there was some sort of attack on the town, but wanted to find answers. As he tried, he ended up coming across Gale Kunigunde in the hotel.

“Ah, Gale, you’re here,” Johan said.

“Hello Johan,” Gale said. “How did you get in?”

“What do you mean?”

“I thought the gates were on lockdown,” Gale replied. She looked past Johan and to Pariton. “Is it just me or does that guy look familiar?”

“It must be just you,” Johan replied. “Right, Pekka?”

Pariton crossed his arms. “You must be imagining things, miss.”

“Maybe I am,” Gale said. “Anyway, I was wondering if you saw Sorin out there somewhere, Johan.”

“Funny enough, I was going to ask you that,” Johan replied. “There was something I’ve been meaning to talk to him about.”

“What is it?” Gale asked.

Johan sighed. “I’m afraid I can’t share it with you,” he said. “It’s… kind of personal. I hope you understand.”

“No, I get it,” she replied. “Are you going to go now?”

“Well, I’m not going to run into him if I just do nothing,” Johan said. “He’d be back here, but I’m working with limited time.”

“It’s best if we take the back routes,” Pariton said. “We’re less likely to run into the Ahnlikohn military that way.”

Johan nodded. “Agreed,” he said. “Well, Gale, it’s nice to run into you again. I hope we can meet again under different circumstances, though.”

“Okay, well, I hope we can, too,” she replied.

“Next time, let me treat you guys,” Johan said. “At least I can make it up to you that way.”

“As long as you don’t get carried away, we’ll definitely do it,” Gale said. “Maybe he’d like to come along, too?”

“I’ll have to decline,” Pariton answered.

“He’s not really that much of a social person,” Johan said. “But for you, I will try my best to treat you and Sorin the next chance I get.”

He turned to leave the hotel with Pariton, but stopped in his tracks. Johan slapped his hand on his forehead as he laughed to himself.

“Ah, where are my manners?” Johan asked. “I haven’t even said goodbye to you, nor have I given you a hug. Let’s change that, shall we?”

He approached Gale with open arms, to which she responded by receiving his embrace. As he patted her on the back, Pariton opened the front door.

“If I don’t see Sorin, just tell him I said hello,” Johan said.

“I will let him know you said that,” she said. “I’ll see you later.”

“Same to you, Gale,” he said.

And with that, Johan separated himself from Gale and followed Pariton out of the hotel. Out on the street, Pariton looked around for a route to the other side of the city. There, he turned back to Johan and pointed out an entrance.

“Right there, Mr. Johan,” Pariton said.

“I really hate having to leave her behind, but I have a feeling that we’re needed elsewhere,” Johan said. “Well? Let’s not waste any more time here.”

“Anything you say,” Pariton replied. “Now, after you.”

Johan chuckled. “If you insist.”

They hurried into the alleyway and towards the back route that Johan knew would lead them into the plaza. Everything was going accordingly to his plan, but he still had to be there before things could get carried away. First, there was a certain someone he had to deal with, and Johan was not about to let her get away. Second, he had to know if Sorin was safe. Because of those things, Johan knew that he had no time to waste.

 

Upon making their way to the plaza, Johan and Pariton saw Jelka being taken away by a couple of Ahnlikohnian officers. Despite her animosity towards him, Johan still needed Jelka’s help and he was not about to let her get away.

“We shouldn’t let them arrest her,” Johan said.

“She kidnapped you,” Pariton replied. “Do you still want to save her?”

“You trust me, don’t you Pekka?” Johan asked.

Pariton breathed a sigh of relief. “For some reason, when you say it like that, I do trust you,” he said. “I’ll take care of them for you.”

“Thank you.”

Pariton hurried forward to the officers and engaged them. As they tried to reach for their weapons, Pariton disarmed them in swift fashion. With their guns knocked to the ground, the officers tried to pick them up but Pariton quickly kicked one of the officers in the head, knocking him out. The other officer tried to attack, to which Pariton responded by delivering a blow to the back of his head. Jelka stood back as Pariton took both men out.

“You saved me?” Jelka asked.

Johan shrugged as he walked up to Jelka. “It must be a shock to you, right?”

“Don’t think that because you saved me that I see you any differently,” Jelka replied. “If I still had my sword, I would cut you down in an instant!”

“Well, I guess I’m lucky you don’t have a sword,” Johan said. “Though, those guns on the ground should be a good substitute, wouldn’t they?”

Jelka looked to the ground but found that Pariton had already picked them up. “You… are you trying to mock me, Ameci!?”

“Like a shadow, Pekka’s rather quick,” Johan replied. “I would suggest you run right now, because once word gets out, they will be hot on your tracks.”

“You don’t need to tell me that,” Jelka said. “Just tell me why you decided to help me.”

“Well, consider our helping hand to be a sympathetic one,” Johan said. “I’m not just an average soldier.”

“Your actions have proved that you’re indeed anything but average,” Jelka replied. “What could you possibly sympathize with me about? You’re an Ameci; you don’t have much to complain about!”

“How I wish we could just sit down and talk,” Johan said, “Because I’d really like to just tell you why you’re wrong. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to do it another time.”

“What? No, I refuse that answer!” Jelka exclaimed. “I deny that answer! You will tell me now, or so help me god, I will crush you!”

“I won’t allow that to happen,” Pariton said.

“Fine, then just tell me what you want,” Jelka said.

“I don’t want anything from you,” Johan answered. “Well, maybe one thing. I want you to leave here now.”

“Why are you doing this, anyway?” Jelka asked. “I’m sure if the Ameci army found out, they’d punish you.”

“That’s why I’m always planning ahead,” Johan said. “Besides, no one is ever going to know that this happened. You want to tell them yourself? Go ahead; they’ll just capture you on the spot.”

Jelka scowled. “It must be nice,” she said. “Consider yourself lucky, Ameci.”

Jelka then sprinted as fast as she could, leaving Johan and Pariton to themselves. With that matter taken care of, Johan turned to Pariton.

“Well, we’ve got one more thing to do here,” Johan said.

“Where do you think he is?” Pariton asked.

“A good question,” Johan replied. “I wonder if he’s crossed paths with our other friend.”

“Are you speaking of the bird?”

“That I am,” Johan said. “If we’re going to find them, perhaps it’s best we scour the whole of this place.”

“Let us do just that, then,” Pariton replied.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Old Church Steps, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Outside the old church, Sorin and the others found Korbin sitting on the front step twirling his gun. Bradley waved over to Korbin, who noticed as he put his gun away and stood up.

“Ah, so you’ve finally come,” Korbin said. “Gotta admit, I was getting bored just waiting here.”

“Korbin? What are you doing here?” Sorin asked.

Korbin clapped his hands together. “And there’s the man I’ve been waiting for! How’s it going, Sorin Wilk?”

“Your ‘friend’ here told us you have someone we’ve been looking for,” Sorin said. “Can you just turn her over to us?”

“Is that how you want to settle this?” Korbin asked. “I think I’ve been counting the blades of grass here to pass the time. You really just want to do the so-called ‘diplomatic’ thing instead of proving your worth?”

“It’s a stupid idea,” Sorin replied. “There’s nothing to gain for either us if we fight each other.”

Korbin’s eyebrow twitched. “Nothing to gain? Hey, Bradley, what the hell did you bring him for if he doesn’t want to fight me?”

“I had no idea,” Bradley replied.

“No idea my ass!” Korbin said. “I’ve already had to beat some sense into Lance earlier, so don’t make me have to bloody my knuckle once more!”

“Korbin, is it?” Ayanna asked. “I’m the lieutenant general of the Iiayikohnian military. It’s imperative for us that this escaped convict return to us immediately, so if you have her, I request that you bring her out.”

“You think that because you’re high rank, you can boss me around?” Korbin asked. “I think not! How about you just back off and let Sorin and I settle this like men?”

“I see that reason fails you,” Ayanna said. “If General Fercewend got word of this…”

“That bald bastard ain’t worth shit!” Korbin exclaimed. “Sure, I serve Ameci fine and well, but above all else I’m a Blood Raven! I live for the thrill of the battle and nothing else!”

“You’re really nothing more than a thug in a uniform, aren’t you?” Gavin asked. “That badge on your coat means nothing to you?”

“Nope, sorry,” Korbin replied. “Although I don’t take too kindly to being called a mere ‘thug,’ former junior lieutenant Gavin Power. I heard you ran away because you wanted to stay with your traitorous brother. That must be him right beside you, if I had to guess.”

“You’re certainly not a slouch with names,” Law said. “I take you’re not going to give us back our escapee until Sorin fights you, am I right?”

Korbin laughed. “Ding! Ding! Ding! You should get a reward! I know… How about I kick your ass?”

“In terms of rewards, that’s a really shitty one,” Law replied. “Do you only think about ways to hurt people?”

“Isn’t that how we’ve always settled things?” Korbin asked. “We live, fight, bleed, and die every day. What’s another fight? A fight that doesn’t even have anything to gain, so says Sorin Wilk?”

“Can we be certain you have the woman in question?” Rain asked.

Korbin tilted his head. “Excuse me?”

“If she’s with you, then we would know that you aren’t lying to us,” Rain answered. “That way, Sorin might be able to fulfill your request.”

“Oh, I see,” Korbin said. “Perhaps I can prove to you that I’m not just fucking around with all of you. Bradley, go and get Erik!”

“Sure thing,” Bradley replied.

He walked past Korbin and into the church. As everyone waited, Sorin took a deep breath as he anticipated what would happen next. What waited beyond those doors? There was no time to think about that as the doors creaked open and Erik walked out with Silvia in tow.

“Silvia! Are you alright?” Ayanna asked.

“Oh don’t bother answering that,” Erik said as he placed his hand on Silvia’s mouth. “Perhaps Sorin needs a little more motivation. Here!”

With his free hand, Erik took out a sheathed sword and tossed it over to Korbin. Korbin caught it and instantly took the blade out, throwing the sheath to the side.

“Well, Sorin?” Korbin asked. “I got this custom made thanks to my dad! Maybe you’ve heard of him?”

“I don’t think I have,” Sorin replied.

“I guess it doesn’t matter,” Korbin said. “It’s not like you’ll have any chance of meeting him.”

“So are you going to let Silvia go or not?” Sorin asked. “I’d rather not waste any more time with you.”

“Aw man, I was just trying to be friendly,” Korbin replied. “I set up this duel and everything, but all you want is to spurn my desires. All I wanted was a duel against the son of Kirk Wilk. Oh well.”

Korbin looked over at Erik and tilted his head upwards.

“Got it, Korbin,” Erik said.

Erik pulled out a gun from his holster at pointed it at Silvia’s head. Sorin gritted his teeth as Ayanna stepped forward.

“What the hell are you doing!?” Ayanna asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Korbin asked. “Sorin doesn’t want to fight me. What else can I do but just put this poor woman out of her misery?”

“Besides, it’s not like she’s important to any of you,” Erik said.

“Not important? You’re dead wrong,” Ayanna replied. “She might be just a simple convict to you, but she happens to be my friend. A friend who made a terrible mistake, but a friend all the same.”

Korbin grinned. “Am I really hearing this? A lieutenant general expressing feelings for a terrorist? I feel like I have to laugh at how fucking stupid that sounds!”

He began to laugh as both Bradley and Erik joined him. As he did, Sorin quickly drew his sword and pointed it at Korbin.

“You want a fight?” Sorin asked. “I’ll give you a fight.”

“Sorin, are you sure of this?” Rain asked.

“I can’t really say I care for doing this, but he leaves me little choice,” Sorin replied. “Korbin! I’ll give you your ‘fight’ so long as you let Silvia go!”

Korbin stopped laughing. “That sounds lovely,” he said. “Oh, before we fight, I should let you know that I’m not just some amatuer. I’m as skilled with a sword as I am a gun.”

“Doesn’t matter to me,” Sorin said. “The rest of you… I want you to back up right now!”

“Wait, like right now?” Law asked.

“You heard him,” Gavin said.

“Please, Sorin, just don’t do anything reckless,” Ayanna said. “Just make sure that Silvia returns to us safe.”

“I’ll make sure that that happens,” Sorin replied.

“Kick his butt, Sorin,” Mina said, “Because I really don’t like how any of these guys are acting at all!”

“I know that you can do this,” Rain said.

“Thank you, guys,” Sorin said.

The others then just backed themselves up until they were behind the fence of the church. Sorin then faced Korbin, who smiled from side to side.

“Is that it, then?” Korbin asked. “You’ve been making me wait for quite a while, you know, but that doesn’t matter much to me now. Now things are getting exciting!”

Korbin cackled again, his laughter joined by Bradley and Erik once more. Then, out of nowhere, Korbin started to imitate the caw of a raven. The sheer, shrill sound caught Sorin off guard, but his grip on his sword remained strong as the other two of Korbin’s crew joined in the bird call. As Korbin stopped, he laughed again as he looked to Sorin.

“Bring your best to me, Sorin Wilk,” Korbin said. “I assure you that you’ll never beat me, the leader of the Blood Ravens!”

 

To be continued…

 

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