Sundown – Chapter 39 (Part 1)

[22nd of September, 2740 AD; Del Bosque household, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

Morning had come after what felt to be a long night and now Sorin and the others were off to the Habicht Forest. They took the time to have an early breakfast and afterwards went on their way, but not before Luna’s family said their goodbyes. Lino was especially bombastic as he had hugged Luna and patted her on the back before she joined up with the others on the way to the forest which was just north of her house.

“So this is the entrance,” Sorin said. “It’s a good thing we decided to come here in the morning instead of at night.”

He observed the immediate area of the forest before him. Even with the daylight pouring in, the inside was still full of shade from the branches of the tall trees that stood throughout. Fortunately, there was indeed a pathway for all of them to take so the chances of getting lost were low. The goal right now was clear and all they had to do was take those steps forward.

“It’s a little scary,” Mina said. “But going through these scary places is what us heroes have to do!”

“Don’t worry,” Rain said. “We’re all here and as long as we stick together, then we’re sure to make it to the other end.”

“Right, it’s not like it’s the first time we had to go through nature like this,” Sorin said. “It’ll pay off having the advantage of surprise, anyway.”

With no further delays, the group entered the Habicht Forest as they tried to stay close to one another. Sorin led the way and felt welcomed by the quiet, peaceful feeling that the forest provided. The small beams of sunlight that were pouring through gave the backdrop that Sorin was getting ever closer to the other side, though he knew that it would not be for a while. Meanwhile, in order to pass the time, Luna began to sing a song that was recognizable the moment that Rain heard it.

“A land of mights, a land of heights, a land by the sea, a land that’s vast as can be,” Luna began. “A land of lights, a sea by the night, a land of flowers, all these lands which are drawn. Yes, this is the region of Thekohn!”

“What are you singing?” Sorin asked.

“You’ve never heard of this song?” Mina said. “Even I know about this song, Sorin.”

“Well, it makes sense he wouldn’t have heard of it,” Rain replied. “It just happens to be an old folk song and I must give you credit, Luna. Your singing is really nice.”

“Oh, uh, thank you,” Luna replied. “I usually don’t sing out loud like this, like ever, but I felt it would be good to do while we walked.”

“I think that that’s a marvelous idea,” Rain said. “Mina, do you want to pick up where Luna left off?”

“Are you sure?” Mina asked.

“Yes, I think it would be nice to actually hear your singing voice,” Rain answered. “If it’s anything like your normal voice, then it should be just as lovely.”

Mina laughed nervously. “Okay, well, I guess if you say so,” she said. “Here goes nothing…”

She began to sing, to which Sorin looked over to Rain and soon realized that this was an absolute mistake. Despite her enthusiastic spirit, Mina lacked the ability to carry a tune, her discordant singing causing Pekka to cover his ears. Luna tried to console Pekka while Rain turned to Mina and smiled.

“Perhaps it would be best if we just let Luna sing, instead,” Rain said.

“Was it that bad?” Mina asked. “I know that whenever I bring it up to Gavin and Law, Gavin just turns away while Law just laughs at me.”

“No, that’s not what I mean,” Rain replied. “I think it would be better if you preserved your voice for intimidating villains instead.”

“Nice one,” Sorin said. “Just take her advice for now, Mina. We don’t want our best hero not to have her amazing voice when we face off against the Neu Thekohnian Order, do we?”

Mina then smiled and pumped her fist in the air. “Yeah, you’re absolutely right! I’ve got to focus my energy on fighting for justice and defeating villains, not waste my time hurting my throat! Thanks, you guys!”

“It’s no problem,” Sorin replied.

“Well, now that that’s over, I guess I’ll get back to it,” Luna said, clearing her throat. “A land of mights, a land of heights, a land by the sea, a land that’s vast as can be…”

Everyone continued to listen to Luna’s pleasant singing as they went deeper into the forest. There was a dip in the path as it began to go towards the right, to which everyone followed. With each step the group took, they were getting ever closer to the other end of the forest. However, it was still a long walk away and Sorin knew that they would have to stop for a break along the way before too long. After another half of an hour, Rain stopped and looked at the area around her as Sorin turned around.

“What’s wrong?” Sorin asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Rain said. “I think it’s about time that we take a break, don’t you agree?”

“Really? Are you sure?” Luna asked. “I mean, I’ve still got a lot more folk songs that I can sing if you want me to…”

“I think it’s about time for something else,” Pekka said. “So are we just going to sit around for a moment?”

“That sounds like a good idea to me,” Sorin said. “We’ve been walking for a while, so it’d be good to take a stop here.”

With an open space just to the side of them, the group opted to take rest under the trees. The only place to sit was on the ground, which Sorin did not mind as he sat up against a large tree. He watched as the leaves rustled slightly in the wind as birds began to take flight. At the other end, Luna reached for her bag and took out some neatly wrapped candy.

“I know it’s not much, but maybe you guys would like a have a little snack while we’re here?” Luna asked. “How about it, Pekka?”

“Thanks, but I’m not interested,” Pekka replied.

Luna sighed and turned away. “Oh, okay,” she said. “Mina, what about you? I’ve got a mint flavored one right here if you want.”

“That would be great,” Mina said. “I mean, thank you.”

Luna tossed the small candy over to Mina, who caught it with ease. Sorin was sure to be next, but the sudden snap of a branch not too far off interrupted his silence. Everyone else followed his motion as they wondered what caused the noise. Sorin got up on one knee and looked around and found another person passing through the path that they were going.

“You guys saw that, right?” Sorin asked.

Pekka nodded. “Someone must have followed us.”

Sorin hopped up to his feet and walked towards the path. “We’ve got to be on guard,” he said, reaching for the handle of his sword. “Whoever is there, well, it would be best if we exercised caution.”

“If it’s a bad guy, then I’m going to pummel him!” Mina said.

As he got closer to the path, Sorin shifted his eyes from either side in order to see if he could catch this mysterious person off guard. However, there was no one in front of him, nor was there anyone to his left or his right.

“What the hell?” Sorin asked.

“Did they already leave?” Luna wondered.

“That can’t be,” Rain said. “We all heard that noise, so it can’t just be a coincidence.”

A rustle of the nearby bushes caused everyone to turn around. Luna was in front this time and she jumped back at who she saw. Sorin looked as well and almost did the same before deciding to draw his blade instead. Before the group stood Johan, who emerged from the bushes and approached them.

“It’s been a while,” Johan said.

Luna yelled and punched Johan in the jaw. “You’ve got a lot of nerve sneaking up on us like that, you backstabber!”

“Luna, no, he might have back-up with him,” Rain said. “We have to attack when ready.”

Johan smirked and snapped his fingers. “That won’t be needed,” he said. “I came here alone. Besides, taking a large group with me would only weigh me down.”

“Weigh you down?” Luna asked. “Was that what me and Pekka were to you? Just extra weight?”

“Not to sound rude, but I guess you could say so,” Johan replied.

“You double-crosser!” Luna exclaimed as she punched Johan in the face again. “After what you said? It’s all been a pack of lies with you, hasn’t it?”

Johan rubbed his face. “You hit surprisingly hard,” he said. “Perhaps that’s why I was so attracted to you.”

“Excuse me?” Luna asked. “You… You can’t be serious, are you?”

“Of course,” Johan replied. “Come to think of it, we first met in a similar fashion, didn’t we? Do you remember that night, Pekka?”

“Why do you ask me?” Pekka asked.

“Never mind,” Johan said. “What I’m trying to say, Luna, is that perhaps it can’t all be too bad.”

“Yeah right, you jerk,” Luna replied. “Don’t think I’m going to forgive you just because you said some nice things about me!”

“That’s right,” Mina said. “We’re not forgiving you one bit for what you did to us, villain!”

“What a shame,” Johan said. “Looks like there’s no convincing you guys, after all.”

“Convince us of what?” Rain asked.

“I didn’t come here just to catch up on old times,” Johan replied. “No, I came because I wanted to warn you. I know you’re heading towards Ahga Manor, Your Highness, which is why I’m here to tell you that Lauren Ahga knows about this as well.”

“How the hell could he already know that?” Pekka asked.

“Please, Pekka, you can’t just tell me you know nothing about the Neu Thekohnian Order after all this time,” Johan said. “News happens to travel pretty fast, or have you guys not run into them yourself?”

“Damn,” Pekka said. “You’ve been keeping up, haven’t you?”

Johan chuckled. “Only the smallest details, my friend.”

“I just want to know why you did it, Johan,” Sorin said. “Why did you turn against us? What is worth all this bloodshed? It can’t be your goal, can it?”

“Did I not tell you back in the kingdom, buddy?” Johan asked. “I’m taking the measures necessary to achieve my goal, even if that means losing a few pieces in the process.”

“You can’t possibly believe any of that,” Sorin said. “There’s no way that you would ever say something like that! That’s not the Johan I grew up with, damn it!”

“Believe it or not, it’s the truth,” Johan said. “But if you want me to keep talking with you, then you’ll have to hurry to the kingdom.”

“You think we’ll just let off this easily?” Mina asked. “We should just kick your butt right here and now!”

“I’m so sorry, but that’s just not going to happen,” Johan replied.

However, Mina did not listen and charged at Johan. What she did not expect, though, was for Johan to do a backflip at that moment and land into the bushes behind him. Mina hurried over to the bushes but found Johan rolling away on the ground.

“Get back here!” Mina exclaimed.

“If it’s as he says, we’ve got no choice but to keep moving,” Rain said. “I knew that there was no way we wouldn’t run into Sir Lauren, but even so, it’s not something I’m looking forward to.”

“But what about him?” Mina asked.

“Going after him would be pointless,” Rain replied.

“He didn’t answer anything I asked him,” Sorin said. “Why can’t he at least explain why he’s doing this?”

“Again, it would be pointless to wonder about what he’s doing,” Rain said. “We have to get back on the path we were on, because Sir Lauren is most likely headed towards the mansion.”

Sorin gazed off into the distance. “This has to be a part of his big plan, somehow…”

“Sorin, it’s decided,” Rain said as she placed her hand on his arm, “We’re going now before it gets too late.”

“I got it,” Sorin said.

“Then let’s go,” Rain said. “Luna, would you mind doing the honors and grace us with your voice once more?”

“I’d be happy to,” Luna replied.

They commenced their trek into the forest with their destination obvious. Sorin had a lot of time to think about it, but still, he just could not comprehend Johan’s decision as it continued to plague his mind.

 

To be continued…

 

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