[Various dates over the years across many places]
(The Impact of The Ruthless – Kirk’s account)
Quite honestly, I had never been the strongest growing up. I was tall, yes, but I lacked the strength that the Ameci military demanded. When I was younger, if you were of the age, then it was pretty much necessary to enlist if you wanted to support your family and yourself. Even to this day, there are those who enlist because they feel as if they are required to do so, but that is another topic for another time. As I was saying, I did not possess the strength needed to be a soldier in the Ameci military. I grew up the son of parents who were always too busy to do much at home, so I usually had to make my own meals and provide for myself. I do not hold any sort of grudge against my mother and father for not being there; after all, it was all they could do to make sure I grew up strong.
One day, however, all of that changed. I do not know the exact details, but my father was killed by a lowly man. He worked as a bus driver, so he came across many people, but for someone to kill him while he was just doing his job was unthinkable to me back then. Who would do such a thing? Sadly, I never got to find out who did kill him, but I still think about father to this day. The day my father died, my mother made sure to do what she could to provide even though she and I both knew the toll it would take on her, mentally and physically. It was sad to see her come home every night, which was when I made my decision. I had to bring peace of mind for my mother so that she would not need to overwork herself ever again.
That road would be a tough one to travel, as I found out from the Ameci general that there was no way I could enlist. It takes a special kind of person to join the military, and apparently I was not one of the lucky ones. Some got in through thanks to their strength, while others got in thanks to their brains. As for me, I had decent strength, but it was not good enough, nor were my smarts good enough to even be something like a spy. Dejected, I left the base and headed to the nearest bar I could find. Once there, a new opportunity opened up for me in the form of an older man with long hair sitting on the patio. He was in the middle of talking to another man when he noticed me. That was when I introduced myself to Alan Berry for the first time.
I did not know at the time what Alan had seen in me, but looking back I knew that it was because he saw that desire in my eyes. The desire for wanting to change the world for the better, which he himself proudly fought for. He told me all about his friends Lowell and Tre, who were also working towards the same goals he was, and said that I possessed plenty of potential. I asked him what it would do for me and Alan replied that he would see to it that he would help my mother and I personally. Alan was just a nice guy like that, as he was with the other members of the eventual Swords of Eight. And like a fool with nowhere else to go, I happily accepted Alan’s offer to join his crew.
Little did I know at the time, the man Alan had previously been speaking with would be the man who would go on to become the catalyst to all the pain me and my family would suffer for years to come. He had an ambitious mind at the time, but apparently all Alan needed to see was his reaction after I joined. Alan looked to the man and said simply that he would decline his offer. After that, he got up and walked away with a briefcase in his hand. Alan shook his head and remarked to me that I had the desire to bring good in the world while that man did not. I asked Alan who that man was and all he said was that he was a young businessman who came to offer Alan money. As I wondered why Alan declined the man’s offer, he said that it was not about money but community. That was why he did not take the offer from the man known as Harold Mars.
I learned a lot from Alan over those years, and eventually I was able to turn the opportunity he gave me into a chance to help others. Soon enough, I ran into the woman who I wound up marrying. April was everything to me, and I to her, as we ended up having our first child together. I knew in my heart that Rysol had the potential to grow up in a better world than the one I grew up in and for that I was happy. He was the happiest child as he was always curious and willing to learn what he could in order to grow. Rysol was a small river but I had a hope in my heart that he would go on to be even bigger than that. Six years later, Sorin would be born.
Of course, that was when I noticed it. That ever creeping evil that seemed to follow me around ever since April gave birth to Rysol. I thought little of it at the time, because I was able to fend off any assailants and was confident in my abilities as a sword fighter. My allies were always around to help as well when I needed them. I had thought it was because of what Walton Lokke did, but I was not able to directly implicate him. Not until later, anyway. I assumed that once the war was over, most of these attackers would run away with nowhere to go, but during one eventful day, I had to go with Alan to investigate an incident. If I had realized sooner, then I knew that I would have been able to save April and Rysol and none of this would have to happen.
But it was too late.
She was already dead and Rysol was nowhere to be found. The men who killed her tried to attack me, but I killed them before they could even scratch me. It was such a pain in my heart that I swore to that day I would never take the life of another ever again, because I knew full well the impact that it caused. As I went over to Sorin’s crib, I knew that it would not be safe for him to stay with me any longer. At least, not until he was old enough. Determined to find answers, I left Sorin to the care of my trusted friend, Raymohnd Smith. Everything changed that day, that much was certain.
I searched around the world for the next five years, making many friends and allies as the answers always seemed to evade me at each turn. Soon enough, I found the answer lying in wait for me back in Ameci. The man who Alan turned away was my lead thanks to someone willing to tell me what he knew about him. That is, after I made sure to subdue him first before he could try anything. I did not know at the time whether or not Harold played a part in Rysol’s abduction or April’s murder; after encountering him, however, I knew for a fact that he was the one who orchestrated everything.
My investigation led me to the great ship Ameci Wyse as I searched high and low for Harold Mars. The ship remained docked as I hurried down into the hull in hopes of finding him. The chances that Rysol would be with him were high enough to make me delve deeper into the ship, to which I ended up in the ship’s engine room. Harold was there, of course, though Rysol was not.
“So you finally figured it out, haven’t you?” Harold asked.
I readied my sword. “You admit it, then,” I said. “Before I take you out, tell me why you did it. What could possibly drive you to kill a fellow Ameci like this? Why did you target my wife?”
Harold hunched over the controls and began to laugh. “You really are so damn idiotic, aren’t you,” he replied. “The only thing I care about is making you suffer. Whether she died or you died, I would get my results all the same.”
My hands gripped the handle of my blade tightly. “Results? What the hell could you possibly mean? And where is Rysol!?”
“Rysol? I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about,” Harold said. His grin told me all I needed to know. “But what I do know is that I have a goal in mind for this world. A goal so grand that I cannot allow anyone to interfere with it, and that includes the likes of you and the other Swords.”
“You intend to kill me, then?” I asked.
“You must be insane to think I would do such a thing to you,” Harold replied. “There’s no way I would kill you myself. Not in Ameci, anyway…”
That was when I noticed that the ship had already begun moving. As the horn blared out, I was now stuck on the Wyse with my worst enemy. The ship had to have moved while Harold and I were talking, somehow. No way were we too far off from shore, however, and I could easily swim back. I just had to run first before Harold could do anything.
“Your fate has been sealed, Mr. Wilk,” Harold said. “I know full well how good you are as a swordsman, and that is why I came prepared.”
“Bring on your worst, Harold,” I said. “I’ll take down anyone you send at me before you can even blink!”
But that was not Harold’s intention. No, he thought different from me. The preparation he made was to kill me on the ship himself. Overseas, Harold could deal with me and be over with it. That was when I noticed the gun in his hand as he pointed it directly at me.
“Life has given me many, many obstacles,” Harold said. “Obstacles in the form of people like you and Alan, as well as the others I’ve already dealt with. After I’m done with you, I’ll be that much closer to reaching my goal.”
“You’ve mentioned your goal already once before,” I said. “Would part of this twisted goal involve killing the other Swords as well?”
Harold smirked. “I see no real reason to answer you,” he said. “I’m done talking with you, Mr. Wilk. Now die.”
He was trained on me and the hallway behind me was narrow. My odds of leaving uninjured were low. I had to find a way out. Luckily, I knew what I had to do and lunged forward at Harold. Though it was reckless, Harold was caught off guard. There was my chance. I swung my sword down at his right arm as all he could do was try to move out of the way. With his back turned to me, I found my opening and plunged my sword deep into his back.
“Son of a bitch… You son of a bitch… Kirk Wilk, you son of a bitch!” Harold screamed, which followed with some loud coughs.
“I made a promise to my wife that I would never kill again,” I said, “But in this one instance, I know she would understand.”
I had him pinned against the back wall now as my sword remained within him as he had nowhere to run. He had thought me trapped, but in all actuality, he was the one who was trapped.
At least, that was what I thought.
“Idiot… You think a simple wound like this will deter me from achieving my goals?” Harold asked. “You’re just as much an idiot as the woman who dared to call me insane! I’ll kill you, Kirk Wilk! I’ll kill you right here and now and send you to your watery demise!”
Harold proved to match his words and wriggled his way out. He used up all of the strength he had and elbowed me hard. As I was sent backwards, my sword went with me as Harold picked up his gun and ran away. I chased after him as I ran through the halls of the ship until I found him right up on the deck tending to his wound.
“Some swordsman you are,” Harold said. “I won’t make the same mistake twice, you hear me?”
I said nothing. He said nothing. The night had arrived as the two of us were face-to-face on the deck of the ship. Harold gave everything he got, but he was no match for my speed. With each slash and slice I made, Harold lost both his arms as well as his left leg. He then looked at me all scathed and bloody, still with the same confidence he had moments ago.
“Don’t… Don’t think that you’ve won… Kirk Wilk…”
With that, Harold fell over the ship’s guardrail. It must have been a long descent into the ocean, but there truly was no place for him to go now. After all, I severely wounded him. At least I knew that April could rest in peace, but Rysol remained my priority.
[23rd of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Rooftop, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
“Harold Mars… I knew I’ve heard of him before, but I never thought that he was that ghastly,” Henry said.
“If I’m being honest, that’s not even the worst thing he did,” Kirk replied. “A man like that has no heart in him whatsoever.”
Eva shook her head. “You saw him fall to his death,” she said. “Please don’t tell me that your memory is shaky now.”
“It isn’t, trust me,” Kirk said. “I’m not changing anything I’ve said, nor will I suggest that what happened isn’t true. No… Harold had some help. Someone that was willing enough to help him in the event that something went wrong for him, which was the case then.”
“And I guess you’re going to suggest that Lokke helped Harold in his time of need?” Eva asked.
“It wasn’t Walton Lokke,” Kirk said. “No, the answer isn’t as simple as that. Besides, he’s dead now.”
“Now I remember where I’ve heard that last name before,” Henry said. “It’s been a bit since leaving the Ameci military, but there is an up-and-coming soldier by the name of Korbin Mars. I can’t help but think that this is more than a mere coincidence, but what do the two of you think?”
“Yes, I knew you would ask about him eventually,” Kirk replied. “In fact, he has just as much a place in Harold’s plan as any of the other people involved. He’s reckless and has trouble holding his own in a fight according to my son, but that doesn’t mean Korbin isn’t dangerous.”
“So he’s related, then?” Henry asked.
“It was only recently I found out, but yes, Harold and Korbin are father and son,” Kirk said. “He’s the most useful person to Harold right now.”
“This is still confusing,” Henry said. “I think would’ve heard about this when I met Korbin, but maybe I’m forgetting something here.”
“It’ll do us no good to talk,” Kirk said. “We need action right now and that begins with tracking Harold down.”
“Even so, we don’t know where Harold is,” Eva replied. “Let’s not rush into a mindless chase until we meet with the others.”
“You have a point, I suppose,” Kirk said. “Very well, we should head out to the kingdom now, then we’ll be able to take on Harold.”
Henry was fortunate to have friends like Kirk and Eva. Though the trip to Glora ended on bad terms, Henry remained optimistic. He had to be for Tori and the kids. Fortunately, he was sure that it would be safer to be in Thekohn. Henry took one last look at the city, the beautiful city that it was, and closed his eyes as he breathed in and exhaled. Now he was ready.
To be continued…