Sundown – Chapter 36 (Part 1)

[21st of September, 2740 AD; Drake Rask’s house, Rezar, Iiayikohn]

 

It had only been a couple of hours since Mina left with her friends to Helm, but Drake found himself missing her once more. Despite what has happened with Mina meeting her mother for the first time, Drake knew that he would always be considered family to her. Perhaps that was why Arthur Dierk had brought Mina’s mother to Drake’s house at Mina’s request. Storm was happy to see the two arrive as both the officer and Wilma sat down at the table.

“It is nice to see that I trusted Mina’s care to such a good man,” Wilma said. “I had been worried over these nineteen years, but she has grown into such a capable young woman and I have only you to thank.”

“Ah, it’s nothing,” Drake replied. “She’s been hauling around and I’ve got little to do with that. Mina’s just got something that I never had.”

Wilma set down her cup of coffee. “You can say that, but I’m sure she’d say the same thing,” she replied.

“That she would,” Drake said. “She may be as lively as a bunch of lit firecrackers, but Mina has been pretty grateful.”

“She’s good friends with the lieutenant general,” Dierk said. “Perhaps being Ayanna has proven to be a good experience.”

“Mina hasn’t had really any friends until about a few months ago,” Drake said. “Come to think of it, it was that gentleman who kind of became Mina’s friend, although I guess he thought that he was in for more with her!”

Drake laughed as he put away a stack of plates. Wilma stood up and placed her empty cup in the sink as Drake looked over at Storm.

“Your Highness, I have to say that you and your sister have been nothing but good for me and Mina here,” he said. “Sure beats just sitting around by myself!”

“Well, it’s been great seeing how someone such as yourself lives,” Storm replied. “This is a surprisingly grand house for two people!”

“You did mention that Mina’s friends were staying here, right?” Dierk asked. “If I do the math, it’s about five people in total, not including Miss Rask herself.”

“She’s got Storm’s older sister to worry about,” Drake said. “Heh, maybe now that Mina and Her Highness have become involved together, perhaps you’d find me a good place in the kingdom once this is all over!”

“I’ll try to keep that in mind, Mr. Rask,” Storm said.

“Hey, all that really matters is that Mina’s happy,” Drake replied. “I’ve never seen her more enthusiastic than when she’s around Her Highness, and hoo boy, Mina’s a spark!”

“It’s a good morale booster,” Dierk said. “Nothing beats having good morale when it comes to accomplishing tasks.”

Storm walked up to the table and took a seat next to Dierk. “I know Rain very well,” she said. “She wouldn’t say it because she’s too modest, but I think meeting Mina has been the best thing to happen to her, even though we’ve already been through so much.”

“I don’t know the full details about everything, but it seems like a lot has already happened in the kingdom,” Dierk said. “Unfortunately, we’re supposed to receive an order to head to Ahnlikohn in the next few days, so there’s not much that I can do.”

“Hey, you did well enough, buddy,” Drake said. “You brought Mina’s mother over here and decided to stay for a cup of coffee for your trouble, so I truly appreciate that!”

“Guess I should thank you, then,” Dierk replied. “Perhaps I’ll come over here for my coffee instead of to the local cafe. It’d save me some money, that’s for sure.”

“You could start a cafe of your own, Mr. Rask,” Storm said. “I’m confident that you could even make a good amount of cash from the endeavor.”

“That’s really nice but I think I’ll stay where I’m at,” Drake replied. “People still need a locksmith and I’m the best in the city by far, or at least that’s what they all tell me!”

“Regardless, I admire your hospitality,” Dierk said. “You absolutely did not need to do this.”

“Ah, that’s nonsense,” Drake said. “You guys work pretty hard, so I figure you could use a little refreshment to keep your spirits up.”

Dierk nodded. “Thank you.”

“So where are you going now, officer?” Wilma asked.

“Well, I’ve got to head back,” Dierk answered. “I’m sure the lieutenant general is wondering what’s taking me so long.”

He got up to his feet and turned towards the door. Storm was quick to push Dierk’s seat in as the officer shook hands with Drake.

“So I’m going to go now,” Dierk said. “Thank you, once again.”

“If you ever want to come back, don’t hesitate to come on by,” Drake said. “That is if I’m home, you know!”

“I’ll take that into consideration,” Dierk replied.

“It was nice of you to drop off Mina’s mother for her,” Storm told him. “Mina would thank you, too, if she were here, I’m sure.”

“That’s much appreciated, Your Highness,” Dierk said. “Perhaps we’ll cross paths soon so I can tell her about what you said.”

Storm smiled. “That would be nice, thank you.”

“You’re very welcome,” Dierk said. “And Lady Brynjarr, I’m glad that I could be of some assistance.”

“I’m glad, too,” Wilma replied. “Now I think that you should go. You don’t want to keep your superior waiting, do you?”

“Thanks,” Dierk replied. “Anyway, I guess that this is goodbye.”

Dierk left through the kitchen door, leaving behind only his generosity as Drake turned to look at Storm and Wilma. He would have to head back to work soon, but there was one thing that was on his mind at the moment.

“So with that, I think I’m gonna go make my way back to work,” Drake said. “What are you two ladies going to do while I’m out?”

“Well, I was going to go read some of the books in the study,” Storm said. “Though I guess with Lady Brynjarr here, we can go out and explore the city by ourselves.”

“I see,” Drake said. “You got no problems, I assume, Wilma?”

“You don’t need to worry about me, Drake,” Wilma said. “Everything seems to be okay around Rezar the last time I checked, so there should be no problems with us.”

“Wasn’t worried about your safety,” Drake replied. “If Mina’s anything to go by, I don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Then it’s settled,” Wilma said. “Your Highness, you want to go right now?”

“I would love to,” Storm replied.

“Suppose I should do my part and give you two a ride to the city, then,” Drake said. “Boy, it’s been quite a day, hasn’t it?”

“It certainly has,” Storm said. “I wonder how my sister is doing right now…”

“Probably helping Sorin lead the charge, I guess,” Drake answered, “And I know that Mina’s there doing her part as well.”

The three left the house and headed toward Drake’s car as he continued to think about Mina and what she was doing at the current moment. He had faith in her, sure, but it would have been a lie to say he was not at all worried about what might happen. The group she traveled with was solid, for certain, but Drake just wanted to be assured that everything would work out. The opponent that she and the others was unlike any other they had faced up to this point and Drake could only wonder what Mina would do in that situation.

 

*****

 

[21st of September, 2740 AD; Quiet Falcon Train Station, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Tension filled the air as Sorin and the others entered the town of Helm. It was not the same lively platform that it was the previous time, but rather a much more reserved atmosphere as people were scarce and quiet. Of course, Sorin knew why this was the case all thanks to what Ayanna told him. The tragedy in Glora was on his mind as he stepped off the train, as he was sure it was one the others’ minds as well.

“People seem certainly on edge,” Pekka said.

“It’s horrible,” Luna said. “These people don’t deserve to be a part of this! We can’t just sit by and let everything go the Neu Thekohnian Order’s way! Isn’t there anything we can do, Rain?”

“It pains me to say it, but we can’t,” Rain answered. “At least, not where we are now. As long as my mother holds the power, there’s no doubt that Ahnlikohn will be headed towards war.”

“Time isn’t on our side,” Sorin said. “We should hurry up and see Luna’s family before we head off for the kingdom.”

“We really should,” Mina said. “It’s the least we could do…”

“You don’t seem as full of energy,” Pekka said. “I get why you’re feeling that way, though.”

“It’s just not like me at all to abandon people that are in need,” Mina said. “That’s something a hero doesn’t do, but I guess that we really don’t have much of a choice.”

“Don’t worry, Mina,” Rain said. “I’m sure that Ayanna is currently planning something with General Reiss on how to help the people here. They wouldn’t let innocent people become casualties, I’m sure.”

“We’re not going to get anywhere just standing here,” Sorin said. “Best that we just get going already.”

After walking out of the station and onto the street, Sorin saw that it was the same outside in the town as it was in the station. Much was to be said about how tense everything had become, which was not much of a surprise. Luna stepped out onto the walkway as a tall, skinny man bumped into her and passed her by.

“Hey! Excuse you, sir!” Luna exclaimed.

“Are you alright?” Sorin asked.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m okay, Sorin,” Luna replied. “Wait a minute… That jerk snatched my coin bag!”

“I’ll go get it!” Mina said.

She rushed after the young man as he looked back and tried to hurry away. Mina caught up to him almost instantly as she brought him down to the ground and pinned him down by sitting on his back.

“Hand back that bag,” Mina said, “It doesn’t belong to you at all!”

“Don’t… Don’t hit me! I’m sorry,” the skinny man said.

“You should be,” Luna said. “All that’s happened today and you just want to steal from unsuspecting people? You’re lucky I didn’t pull my knife on you!”

“Ah! I’m very sorry!”

Mina got off the man and stood up as he did the same. Luna took a look at the young man, her expression going from anger to surprise as she raised her eyebrows.

“Wait, I know you,” Luna said, “We went to the same school together!”

“Oh my god, I think I remember you, too,” the skinny man replied. “You’re ‘Long-Winded Luna,’ aren’t you?”

“Long-Winded Luna?” Mina asked.

“Oh yeah, she was totally the one who went on and on about absolutely nothing at all,” the skinny man answered. “Heck, I think it’s all coming back to me now! You were almost kicked out of music class, weren’t you?”

“Shut up,” Luna replied. “I recognize that stupid face anywhere, Alexis Losa! Are you really that desperate that you’d just steal from the next person you saw?”

“Well, you were the one in your group that looked the easiest to steal from,” Alexis replied. “But it wasn’t to hurt you or anything, I just needed the money really bad.”

“If it’s money, why not do something good?” Mina asked. “Instead of trying to be a lowly villain, you could use your efforts towards helping people!”

“If only it were that easy, miss,” Alexis said. “I mean, I don’t want you to hurt me, so I guess I’ll think about it…”

“Forget it, Mina, this guy’s no good,” Luna said.

“Why? Is it because he’s just a villain all along?” Mina asked.

“No, it’s because this guy is a troublemaker,” Luna replied. “Everyone might have called me ‘Long-Winded Luna’ back in school, but this guy was known as the worst of the worst. I can’t even begin to go down the list of names people gave you, because all of them were true!”

“So he was one of those people who was never up to any good, then,” Pekka said. “If that’s the case, then I’m not exactly surprised he would try and steal from you right in the open like this.”

“You got to believe me, though,” Alexis said. “I wouldn’t lie about trying to help my family in need, would I?”

“Would you, though?” Sorin asked. “Besides, it’s not like any of us are here just for fun. We’ve got important things to do right now.”

“It seems like I’m asking for too much, then,” Alexis said. “Here, here’s your money or whatever.”

He handed the bag of coins back to Luna, who put it back into her shirt pocket. Alexis shrugged as he put his hands into his pockets and began to walk away. As he did, Rain looked over to Luna.

“He may have been a troublemaker in the past, but what if there was a way that we could help him while also continuing our mission?” Rain asked.

“Forget about it, Rain, he’s got nothing to do with this,” Luna replied. “He’s just somebody that can’t be trusted.”

“Perhaps he could make it up to you, then,” Rain said. “Alexis, is it?”

“What do you mean by ‘make it up to her,’ miss?” Alexis asked. “I already gave her back her money, didn’t I? There’s no reason for me to stay here for much longer.”

“How about your parents?” Sorin asked Luna. “You said your father works as a chef and your mother’s a delivery manager. What about them?”

“Well, I don’t know,” Luna said.

“If it’s really possible, then I’d like to do it,” Alexis said. “I’ll work with one of them! That would be fine, wouldn’t it?”

“Is that okay with you, Luna?” Mina asked.

Luna closed her mouth and frowned as she thought to herself, though everyone could hear her muffled groan. “Okay, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to bring him along,” she said, “But I’m going to be watching you, mister! You better not do anything creepy or else I’m going to be really upset!”

“Don’t worry, if he does anything like that, I’ll take care of him,” Mina said, “He already knows what it’s like to be brought down by Mighty Mina, so I’m sure he’s not going to try anything villainous with us!”

“You won’t be sorry, I promise,” Alexis said.

“I sure hope not,” Luna replied. “I already feel like I’m beginning to regret my decision, though…”

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Sorin said.

Regardless, Sorin knew that having an unexpected person tagging along with the group would only prove to be a distraction. He hoped everything would work out well between Luna’s family and Alexis, because Sorin did not want this to go to waste. They had to be quick, Sorin thought, as they began making their way towards the northern border of Helm.

 

To be continued…

 

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