[21st of September, 2740 AD; Del Bosque household, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]
The stand-off between Sorin’s group and that of the Neu Thekohnian Order had grown more tense. As Jelka demanded to know what her purpose was, there was uncertainty in the air as some of the NTO members looks at each other. If there was a chance to his group to run, Sorin knew that it had to be now, but he knew that there was no way he nor anyone else was going to do that. He could not abandon Luna’s father, either, considering how much help he gave them. No, what Sorin needed to do now was make a stand.
“You’ve only fought as a detriment to us,” Sorin said. “We’ve fought before and you lost. Are you asking Rain for help now because you fear that you’re only going to lose again?”
“Simple-minded Ameci, you truly don’t get it,” Jelka replied. “Win or lose… Live or die… No matter what the circumstances are, I’ve always fought as if each battle were to be my last. You obviously have never been in such a situation that you never had to worry about whether or not you’d live to see tomorrow’s sunrise, haven’t you!?”
“I can’t say that I have,” Sorin said.
Jelka scoffed. “Then you know nothing.”
“That’s not to say I don’t understand what that feeling is like,” Sorin replied. “Among my friends, I know that some of them, they have had to live their lives on the edge. Yet even so, they knew that they had to keep going forward, even if the rest of the world was unjust to them.”
“Jelka, about Chancellor Harring, you have a grudge against him, correct?” Rain asked. “I can see why you would want to turn to serving this group, but as you’ve probably found out, it hasn’t given you any sort of satisfaction. If I’m wrong, you’re free to tell me so, but that’s exactly what you’re feeling right now, isn’t it?”
Jelka did not reply, only opting to turn away as Erik shook his head.
“You’re really putting me to sleep here, missy,” Erik said. “I guess if you want a job done, you ought to just do it yourself…”
He angled over to the other members of the Neu Thekohnian Order, and then back over to Sorin and his group. Erik smirked as he took out his gun and aimed it at Sorin.
“So, I’d be doing a real disservice to Korb, but a task is a task,” Erik said. “We don’t want there to be any interruptions our mission, now do we?”
“Answer me this,” Sorin said, “What is the point of all this? Why are you working with an enemy?”
“Business is a lot more complicated than you think,” Erik replied. “Besides, it’s not my doing, I’m just doing what I’m told. The fact that it’s so fun makes it a bonus!”
“So you’re joining alongside the Neu Thekohnian Order because it’s fun?” Luna asked. “You think murdering people is fun? Joining alongside those who only wish to create chaos and harm throughout this country… That’s fun? You’re nothing more than a coward who only does what he does because he has no sense of humanity left within him! That’s all you really are and all you ever will be, you psychopath!”
“Ah, shut up,” Erik said. “I should just shoot you first and get you out of the way now that you’ve gone and pissed me off!”
He trained his aim on her and pulled the trigger. Luna stood frozen in her tracks as the shot rang out, but as it did, she felt herself drop to the ground below. Total silence soon followed as the rest of the group looked at her to see if she was okay. Luna looked down at herself and found she was completely unscatched, but to her side, she saw Alexis lying with his face down in the dirt.
“Alexis?” Luna asked. “Are you okay? Answer me, Alexis!”
“He did it, didn’t he,” Pekka said.
Luna turned Alexis over onto his back and discovered the bullet wound in his chest. A small amount of blood was coming from his mouth as he began to cough up even more.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Luna said. “You didn’t have to do this! Alexis, you can’t just throw your life away!”
“I’m sorry,” Alexis replied. “It was my fault I got you guys into the mess, right? This is making it up to you…”
“No, don’t be so foolish,” Luna said, “You… you… but why?”
“Please… don’t be upset,” Alexis said. “You still gotta get to the kingdom… don’t you?”
“Yes, but, you couldn’t… you didn’t have to die for it!” Luna exclaimed. “My father, he was willing to give you work! You could have helped your family!”
“Sorry about that,” Alexis replied. “I guess I’m only good… at getting you into trouble, huh, Luna?”
Alexis closed his eyes. He did not open them again. There were no words as Luna could only try and check for Alexis’s pulse. No matter how much she tried, however, there was nothing that she could do to change what had already happened.
“Damn it, I’m too late,” Lino said as he stepped out of the house. “You’ve got a lot of nerve coming in on my land, you cowardly bastards!”
“Oh, am I supposed to be intimidated?” Erik asked. “The son of a bitch got what he deserved, I don’t know why that girl is just crying over him now. Now it’s time for the rest of us to close in!”
He took aim once more, this time at Lino’s head. As Erik readied himself to fire, however, Jelka jumped in front of him and plunged her sword deep into his abdomen. It caught him off guard, which caused him to drop his gun. A stray shot fired out, but it went off into the distance and ended up tagging no one.
“He got what he deserved, did he?” Jelka asked.
Erik gritted his teeth as he tried not to cough. “You… why are you doing this to me, Jelka? I thought you were going to kill them!”
“If anyone deserves to die here, it’s you,” Jelka said.
“You can’t get away with this!” Erik growled. He looked over at the other Neu Thekohnian Order members. “Don’t just stand there! Kill her now!”
Jelka grinned. “Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten,” she said. “I fight each battle as if it were my last! They can rush me all they want; I’m still going to drive my blade further into you until you can stand no more!”
“You traitorous bitch! Do you… Do you really believe you’re fighting for honor now?” Erik asked. “You won’t even last a second on your own! Mr. Kunigunde will make sure of it!”
Jelka pushed her sword in further as Erik began to cough up blood. “Your memory is getting worse, I fear,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ll put your pathetic life out of commission soon enough!”
Just then, before Jelka could do anything else, three members of the Neu Thekohnian Order charged at her with their swords drawn. Before any of them could strike, Pekka rushed in as fast as he could and proceeded to disarm all three of them one by one. One after the other, Pekka used Luna’s knife to stab each member’s wrist which made them drop their swords to the ground.
“You want to fight?” Pekka asked. “Very well, I’ll give you a fight! Sorin, Your Highness, help me out! Mina, you know what to do!”
Mina nodded. “Right,” she said, “We will strike down these villains as one! Don’t you worry, Luna, we’re going to make sure these villains will know not to mess with us!”
“I understand,” Luna said.
“Hey, I think you ought to let ol’ Alexis rest,” Lino said. “Come on, let’s join your friends and give them an even greater advantage!”
Lino helped Luna to her feet as she glanced down at Alexis one more time. Regardless of what happened, she knew he did not deserve this fate and she was going to do what she could to help drive away the Neu Thekohnian Order away from here. With Lino’s help, Luna was supplied with two knives of her own as he drew his own blade.
“You see this steel?” Lino asked. “I was one of the very best in the military! The great Lino Del Bosque has never lost a single battle and I’m not about to break that streak today!”
Jelka stared at Erik as she continued to hold her stance. “The winds have begun to blow in a different direction,” she said. “This ‘Eagle’ can feel it in her wings that the winds you’re flying into provide you no advantage!”
With that said, Jelka slid her sword swiftly out of Erik as his wound began to bleed out. He fell to his knees as Jelka took the moment to clean her blade and turned to the action close to her. Erik struggled to get to his feet as his wound continued to spill blood, but he managed to stand up.
“You wish to run?” Jelka asked. “Then run as fast as you can, raven, because there’s nowhere for you to hide once I’m done here!”
Erik’s eyes widened as he was speechless. The only thing he did now was turn the opposite way and begin to run away from Jelka. She could only laugh to herself as she readied her blade once again.
“I’m done playing the fool,” she said. “The royal family of Ahnlikohn… the Neu Thekohnian Order… there will be no sympathy from me!”
Mina was busy dealing with the disarmed soldiers as Pekka helped Sorin and Rain through the front attackers. Lino and Luna assisted from the side as Jelka helped to join in the cause. As Mina finished knocking out the three disarmed soldiers, Pekka disarmed two more and dropped them to the side. Soon enough, the group was able to outnumber the remaining members of the Neu Thekohnian Order and surrounded them.
“It’s over!” Sorin said. “We’ve already taken out half of your group! The numbers no longer favor you, so you should give up now while you still have the chance.”
The persistent Neu Thekohnian struggled to hold his sword. “Yeah right,” he said. “Jelka, isn’t it about time you come to your senses already?”
“Funny you should say that,” Jelka said.
“These people, this Ameci, is this really the path you’re going to go down? I must say… I’m disappointed,” the persistent man said. “You have always been one to present this image of a great leader and I’m saddened to see you fall victim to this trickery.”
“I’m saddened to see you fail to understand,” Jelka said. “But no matter, you’ve made your choice to keep fighting for a false goal. I’m done fighting for Mr. Ahga!”
She took her sword and rushed the man, striking his blade until it could take no more. His sword broke from the pressure as everybody else backed up. With his blade broken, the numbers of the Neu Thekohnian Order were now down to four against the now seven members of Sorin’s group. Sorin stood next to Jelka with his blade drawn as well and stared the rest of members down. The rest of the Neu Thekohnian Order members knew they were outnumbered and in that instant, they dropped their weapons and dropped to their knees.
“Please, Jelka, forgive me!”
“We can fight with you, just don’t do any harm to us.”
Jelka turned her head away. “You think you can fool me? Take your weapons and get out of my sights!”
“Get out of here?” Lino asked. “I’m not about to let these guys run away and fight again so easily.”
“They were after me,” Rain said. “I think it’s best if we call the local authorities and have them take in this group, don’t you agree?”
“You read me so well, Your Highness,” Lino replied. “We’ve already got the lot of them cornered, so it’ll be an easy task for them to round them all up. Ah, but what about that other bastard?”
Sorin shook his head. “Who knows? He was stabbed pretty badly, so I doubt he could have gotten far.”
“A villain like him isn’t going to go unpunished,” Mina said. “It’s all thanks to Miss Arne for what she did! I had no idea that you wanted to fight on the side of the heroes, Jelka!”
Jelka sheathed her sword and turned away from the rest of the group. “You should not take this as some sort of an allegiance,” she said. “I’m no longer associated with the Neu Thekohnian Order, that is all. As far I’m concerned, we’re still enemies.”
“Do you truly believe that, though?” Rain asked.
“To be honest, Your Highness, I’m not sure what to believe,” Jelka replied. “I’ve fought for most of my life believing in Mr. Ahga, but now it seems that what I’ve been fighting for was a lie.”
“I know what that’s like,” Rain said. “I believed in Sir Lauren, too, which is why I feel that part of this quest is so personal to me.”
“Then you should know why I must fight alone,” Jelka said. “Regardless of what past we may share, I can’t trust you.”
“But where are you going to go now?” Luna asked.
“That is something I’ll have to figure out,” Jelka answered.
“It might be none of my business, but I feel like I should drop my two coins in the jar,” Pekka said. “I can understand why you feel like you can’t trust us, believe me, I do. I had fallen into a bad place in my past and because of that, I couldn’t trust anyone.”
“And yet you fight with them,” Jelka said.
“It wasn’t until a few months ago when I met a man that inspired me to keep fighting for a noble cause,” Pekka continued. “Even though he ended up betraying me in the end, I did meet these people who are the real deal. I still fight because of that man, too, not only for his beliefs, but because perhaps one day… one day I could settle down with someone like him.”
“That thought must be nice and all, but I’ve got no one like that,” Jelka replied. “There’s no one to inspire me no matter how much you think otherwise. I’m just another disgraced soul left to walk this land until I die, which is why I fight the way that I do.”
“Then there’s not much else I can tell you,” Pekka said.
“If it means anything, I want to thank you,” Luna said. “It’s the least I could do after what you did for us.”
Jelka began to walk away. “You’re welcome.”
Everyone watched as Jelka continued to walk away, until she was no longer visible. Sorin knew they had to move on, but still, he wondered if there was anything else he could have said to convince Jelka to fight alongside him. There was no point thinking about that now, though, as he faced Lino and Luna.
“So I guess I gotta make a couple of calls now,” Lino said. “One to the police and one to Alexis’s parents. Never expected that I was going to have to be the bearer of bad news again…”
“We’ll help you keep a watch on these guys,” Mina said. “Some of them are still unconscious, but looks like the others are coming to.”
She pointed to the Neu Thekohnians writhing on the ground while the rest of the NTO members continued to sit. None of them bothered to stand up at this point as they knew there was no way out.
“Thank you all for your help,” Lino replied. “Let me ask all of you something: are you going to go now?”
“I’m afraid so,” Rain answered. “Though I suppose it is getting dark and it wouldn’t be advisable to go through the forest at night.”
“I see,” Lino said. “I’ll tell you what: you’re free to lodge at my house, no problem whatsoever. I think that’s the least I could do for you.”
“That would be great,” Sorin said.
It was decided at that point that Sorin and the others would head straight away to Oelaans in the morning. No one had any idea about what was in store for them onward, but at least they would face it with a full night of rest.
To be continued…