[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Main Hall]
Sorin could only stare in disbelief at what he had heard: his friend Johan was now an ally of the Neu Thekohnian Order. He thought about it, but still Sorin could not process this information. None of it made sense whatsoever. What could he possibly do at a moment like this? Lauren Ahga continued to stand at the stairs with his head held high as Noa stepped forward.
“That’s it, my friend,” Ahga said. “Come forward and admit your sin to everyone right now!”
“I’m not your friend,” Noa replied.
“Really? After everything Mr. Mzade did for you?” Ahga asked. “Oh, that’s right, you haven’t told them that, have you?”
Sorin was the only one that knew Noa’s deep secret. It was a secret that he had sworn to never tell anyone but that was useless now, too. Ahga just shook his head as he looked over to Noa.
“It’s funny,” Ahga said. “The last fifteen years you assumed the identity of a dead man. Easy to do when the rest of your family is dead, isn’t it?”
“You can’t possibly mean what I think you’re saying, are you?” Rain asked. “Noa… Who are you?”
“Don’t you see?” Ahga asked. “That man you say you are? Noa Mzade, am I right? That man has been dead for fifteen years!”
“You… you were lying to us, Noa?” Mina asked. “That’s gotta be a joke, right? Because heroes don’t lie, not at all! Right?”
Noa stood in silence as Ahga laughed.
“How unfortunate that this man has been deceiving you this entire time,” Ahga said. “The real Noa Mzade, as far as I know, took care of young boy that hailed from Kals Dale: a pathetic, insignificant South Maeitakohnian by the name of Guda Rhostami!”
Rain clenched her fist as she looked over to Noa. “Noa… just please say something!”
“Looks like the past has come to bite me in the ass,” Noa said. “It’s exactly like you said, Lauren Ahga. I am Guda Rhostami, not Noa Mzade.”
“Perfect, perfect,” Ahga replied. “You see? Telling the truth does wonders.”
“You’re hardly one to talk!” Mina exclaimed. “So what if he has a different name? It doesn’t change the fact that you’re a villain!”
“Oh, it doesn’t, does it?” Ahga asked. “How naive. Young lady, do you have any idea who the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order is?”
“I’m not a fool, I know for a fact that it’s Jelka Arne,” Mina said, “She’s the one who orchestrated the attack on Helm and played a big part in Prime Minister Alan Berry’s assassination!”
“Oh how clueless you are,” Ahga said. “Johan, perhaps you could shed some light on the matter?”
“Well, I think it’s easy once you put the dots together,” Johan said. “I’m just surprised that Her Highness never figured it out.”
“You’re talking about my sister, aren’t you?” Storm asked.
“I’m as in the dark as you are, Storm,” Rain said. “I only wanted to prevent the assassination of my father, that was all.”
“How sad, Your Highness,” Ahga replied, “You went on your journey to help recruit people for your cause, but all you’ve done was waste time. Isla had taken care of the deed a mere few days after you left for Iiayikohn.”
“No, I don’t believe you!” Rain exclaimed. “Why in the world would mother want to do such a heinous act?”
“Sir Lauren, please, this must all be just one terrible joke,” Storm said. “You can’t possibly say what I think you’re implying, are you?”
“Believe it or not, Your Highness, but the king is dead,” Ahga said, “He was holding back our plans, so we had to take some extreme measures. Looks like it turned out to be the right move.”
Storm had no answer as she placed a hand upon her mouth as she tried not to scream. Meanwhile, Sorin still had questions.
“The right move?” Sorin asked. “What move could possibly justify murder? Not just murder of anyone, but the king of Thekohn! Why, damn it!?”
“Sorin, you know what happened in Bel better than most of the people in this room, including I,” Johan said. “People were close to a revolt had you and your friends not stepped in. What the Neu Thekohnian Order is doing is similar in method.”
“Don’t you even dare give me that crap, Johan!” Sorin exclaimed. “The Neu Thekohnian Order relies on intimidation and violence in order to achieve their goals. You can’t just tell me that the ends justify the means when it involves using people’s lives!”
“I just thought that you were on the side of good,” Luna said, “But you just wanted to play everyone while fulfilling your own selfish goals.”
“Am I the selfish one for wanting to end all wars?” Johan asked. “Perhaps, but sometimes to get to truth, you need a lie. A simple, yet effective lie that will one day result in the foundation of a world that is just and true. That’s the kind of goal that the Neu Thekohnian Order strives for in this world.”
“And it is by invading Ahnlikohn that we will create that world,” Ahga said. “Everything that we do works in order to make our dream a reality! It was by Her Majesty’s request that we deal with Alan Berry and it was Her Majesty’s request once more that we invade the ones responsible for assassinating him!”
“You’re the ones who assassinated him!” Mina exclaimed. “The ones who wanted the prime minister dead, that was you! No one else!”
“Ah, but Alan has had his fair share of enemies,” Ahga said. “He may have been a friend in the past, but he too was getting in our way.”
“So is that how you deal with those that oppose you?” Rain asked. “You just have them killed? Mother… she wanted father dead?”
“You should have paid attention, Your Highness,” Ahga replied. “He was already ill by the time I poisoned him, which only helped to speed up his eventual death. That said, Her Majesty is willing to make big sacrifices in order for us to succeed. I’d say ‘nothing personal,’ but it would indeed be very personal for you, Rain Zano Thedam.”
“Are you threatening me, Sir Lauren?” Rain asked.
“Well, let’s just say that I’m not going to be taking care of you,” Ahga said. “Rather, I’ve already got someone waiting for you in the wings. I believe you all know him well, right?”
At the top of the stairs the double doors opened. Out walked Victor Wihll, his presence enough to have everyone focused on him. He carried a knife on him, brandishing it as he walked down the stairs. Each step echoed throughout while Sorin could not turn away. No, Sorin continued to maintain his focus on Wihll and wondered what exactly Johan had gotten himself into.
“Let’s just make this quick,” Wihll said.
“Why would you work with him?” Pariton asked. “You hated the royal family, so why would you do this Victor?”
“This is what I consider a mutual benefit,” Ahga said. “Victor takes care of my problem and I will take care of his.”
Victor laughed as he angled his knife. “Yes, he made me a great offer and who am I to say no to something like that? I don’t really care what happens to any of you, nor do I care for Mr. Kuu over there, but a deal’s a deal and I’m going to enjoy slitting this woman’s throat.”
“Don’t you dare put your hands on Rain,” Mina exclaimed, “I’m going to pummel you and then we’re going to defeat you next, Ahga!”
“How cute that you think you’ll stop me,” Ahga said. “Not that it matters, since it’s all Isla’s plan anyway. She’s already won.”
“Stop it! Just stop it already,” Storm said. “All this betrayal, this deceit, the Neu Thekohnian Order. This isn’t the Sir Lauren that I know!”
“Oh will you shut up?” Wihll asked. “Perhaps I should kill you first in order to put the fear in your sister’s eyes!”
“Anyway, it’d be best if I made my exit,” Ahga said. “I’ve got to help Isla start a war and I can’t stand to see the sight of blood, if I am to be completely honest with you lot. Come now, Johan.”
Lauren Ahga walked towards the door and left while Johan turned to everyone.
“It’s looking like the curtain’s about to close on all of you,” he said. “How sad that none you still don’t get it.”
“You can’t get away with this, Johan!” Luna exclaimed as she ran up to Johan and grabbed him by the collar. “I swear to god, I’m not going to let you leave here!”
Johan chuckled as he placed his hand on Luna’s. “I’d advise you to run,” he said. “The Neu Thekohnian Order is already on their way here as we speak, so if you value your life, Luna, then you should heed my words.”
He pushed Luna off of him and followed after Ahga. She tried to run after him but was stopped by Pariton.
“Let him go,” Pariton said, “We’ve got a bigger problem now.”
Wihll looked at Storm, who stood in place unable to move. He charged at her with his knife at the ready, but Rain and Sorin both jumped in with their swords drawn and blocked his attack.
“Get out of here, sister!” Rain said as she looked back at Storm. “You know where to go, right?”
Storm broke out of her fearful stance. “Yes… yes! I’ll go right away!”
She ran off as fast as she could to the doors at the corner of the room. All Wihll could do was growl as he moved his focus to Rain. She and Sorin were locking their blades with his as he backed off of them and twirled his knife.
“This is fine,” he said. “I’ll just hunt her down and kill her later. I still have you to take care of, after all.”
“Not so fast, you brute!” Brook exclaimed.
“Who the hell are you?” Wihll asked.
“Sister, get out of here right now,” Brook said, “I’ll take care of him!”
With no time for Rain to respond, Brook charged forth towards Wihll and jumped him. Wihll swiveled around as he tossed Brook to the ground.
“No, I can’t just leave you behind!” Rain exclaimed.
“What a pathetic, ignorant whelp,” Wihll said. “Just sit right there while I run this knife through Her Highness’ neck!”
Wihll readied his next attack at Rain as she got ready to defend herself. He advanced on her but was stopped by Brook. Once again, he leapt up and grabbed onto Wihll’s arm.
“What are you standing there for?” Brook asked. “I’ve got him in my grasp! Now run!”
“I’m not going to do that,” Rain said, “But I do have a better idea!”
She then thrust her sword forward and stabbed Wihll in his abdomen while Brook continued to hold onto his arm. With the sudden stab, Wihll turned his head towards Brook.
Wihll growled. “Get off of me!”
Rain removed her sword from Wihll. “It’s over for you,” she said. “There’s no way you’ll get out of here on your own.”
With a bloodstain rapidly forming on his coat, Wihll laughed. He laughed as hard as he could, coughing along the way, as he threw Brook off of him. The young man tumbled backward and ended up rolling back onto his feet in a miraculous manner.
Mina pumped her fist. “Yeah, you better surrender now, villain!”
“Surrender?” Wihll asked. “What a ludicrous notion!”
“It’s all you’ve got,” Brook replied, “So it would be wise that you drop your weapon!”
“I’m getting really tired of hearing you speak,” Wihll said. “It’s time to silence you, right here and right now!”
He rushed Brook, who moved out of the way. However, Wihll spun around from behind him and thrust his knife deep into Brook’s back. The quick stab was enough to catch Brook off guard, dropping him to his knees.
Rain put her hand out open faced. “Brook!”
Brook coughed, blood spilling out of his mouth. “This… this isn’t good…”
“Seems I’ve hit your weak point,” Wihll said.
Rain gripped the handle of her sword as she pointed it at Wihll. “You… I won’t let you leave here alive!”
Rain attempted to rush Wihll with her sword pointed out, but Wihll dodged the attack and grabbed her by the throat. She tried to struggle out of his grasp, but Wihll lifted her up into the air.
“Time to finish the job,” Wihll said.
Sorin readied his blade. “Let her go!”
Mina, however, screamed as she charged at Wihll. She was determined to take him down and make him unleash Rain. When she made it to Wihll, though, he was fast enough to knock her to the side and onto the ground.
“I’ll deal with you next,” Wihll said, “But first, I’ve got business to attend to with your lovely princess.”
“You are just a spineless coward,” Rain said. “All you can do is negotiate with violence.”
Wihll grinned. “This is just what I’m good at,” he said. “You dare mock a man for wanting to achieve his goals? Then you must die!”
Before he could do anything, though, Sorin attacked him. Wihll defended himself from Sorin’s strikes, but that was when Mina joined in. She grabbed from behind his arm that was holding Rain until he could hold onto her no longer. Rain fell to the floor as Mina unleashed Wihll’s arm from her grip. With Sorin now engaged and fighting with Victor Wihll, Mina hurried over to Rain.
“Rain, are you okay?” Mina asked.
Rain groaned. “Is… Is my brother okay?”
“I don’t know,” Mina replied. “Sorry.”
Rain crawled over to where Brook lay and examined him. The wound in his back was producing blood at a rapid rate and spilling onto the floor beneath him. As she attempted to sit him up, Brook continued to cough.
“Forget… about me, sister,” Brook said. “You… need to escape…”
“I’m not going to leave without you,” Rain said. “I’m not the kind of person that will abandon her friends and family!”
Pariton ran over to Rain and knelt down. “I don’t know about you, but we’ve gotta get out of here,” he said. “I already see the Neu Thekohnian Order out by the front entrance from here.”
“You’re going to help us?” Rain asked.
“I’ve not much else to do right now,” Pariton replied. “Luna, we need to secure a route out of here!”
Luna hurried to him. “Got it, Pekka!”
“There’s a secret exit,” Rain said. “Only us in the royal family know about it, not even Sir Lauren is aware.”
“Got it, secret exit,” Luna said. “Pekka, what are we going to do about her brother, though?”
“We’ll have to carry him,” Pariton said. “What about that man?”
Luna looked to Noa. “Hey you!”
“Me?” Noa asked. “Yeah, I got the message.”
Noa moved forward, not wanting to be a part of Sorin and Wihll’s fight, and went over to Brook. He picked up the wounded prince and proceeded to carry him on his back.
“But what about Sorin?” Mina asked.
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Pariton said. “You guys just focus on getting out of here.”
Luna eyed Pariton. “You don’t mean you’re going stay here and fight him, are you?”
“That man is Johan’s friend,” Pariton said. “At the very least, I should try to help him by distracting Victor.”
Pariton stood up and took off his shirt, exposing his build and numerous scars upon his body. He walked over to the fight scene and whistled.
“That’s enough,” Pariton said. “Sorin, was it? You need to escape.”
“And what do you think you’re going to do?” Wihll asked.
“I’m going to help the best way I can,” Pariton replied, “By taking you out, even it costs me my life!”
“What!? But you can’t just throw your life out like that!” Sorin replied.
“You’re Johan’s friend, right?” Pariton asked. “If you were to die here, would that be acceptable?”
“Just shut up already, Varjostaa!” Wihll exclaimed.
“I recommend you go now,” Pariton said. “Hurry!”
Sorin nodded and sheathed his sword as he followed after Rain and the others. He had to meet Johan again, that much he knew. Not only that, but he needed to help Rain any way he could not. As he escaped with the rest of the group, Pariton turned to Wihll.
“Get out of my way!” Wihll said. “I don’t care if I have to kill you, I just need to kill the princess!”
“It’s funny,” Pariton said. “I spent that past few years a member of the True Thekohnians thinking I’d be making a change, but now I know that at least I’m helping to ensure the future of this great land by letting the princess of Thekohn escape with her life!”
“You’re just another pawn to her,” Wihll replied. “What could you possibly prove by doing this!?”
“Even if Johan betrayed me, I still believe in his dream,” Pariton answered. “I want to help create that world he speaks of and I’m going to do it by not letting you go anywhere!”
“Enough!” Wihll yelled. “I might as well kill you, since it looks like you’re only going to be another obstacle to me!”
“I’m no obstacle,” Pariton said. “I’m Pekka Varjostaa and I will not waver against you, Victor Wihll! Come at me, if you dare!”
Wihll wiped his mouth clean of blood and wielded his knife once more. Pariton was ready as he got into his fighting stance. It did not matter that he was unarmed because Pariton knew that he’d have to hold Wihll back as long as he could. No, Pariton had to win. He had to stop Wihll right here and he knew that he was capable enough. With all the others out of the room, Pariton stood his ground as Wihll charged at him.
To be continued…