[24th of December, 2740 AD; Ahnle Peak path, outside of Glora, Ahnlikohn]
There was no mistaking the pain that Kirk felt. Two separate stab wounds that went through his back and out just beneath his rib cage. Harold stabbed him. He stabbed him, using both the darkness and Rysol’s fears to attack him. Kirk had no idea what the weapons looked like, but he knew that they were sharp and long enough to go completely through his body. Right now, all Kirk could think about was what Harold had planned next.
“You’ve really done it this time, haven’t you,” Harold said. “Your life is now in my grasp and I don’t intend on letting you go; in fact, I’ll kill you right here and now, Kirk Wilk!”
Just then, Rysol stood up and pointed his sword at Kirk and Harold. Kirk wondered to himself what Rysol was going to do, but he knew that there was no chance that he would run away now.
“I’ve run for far too long,” Rysol said. “My weakness led you to this, father, and for that… I apologize.”
Kirk tried to talk, but found it difficult to breathe as he coughed up more blood. Nothing could stop him, however, as he looked at Rysol. He had to tell him somehow that he was supposed to run away, but knew no way to do so as the pain continued to surge throughout his body. Harold was about to kill him, but Kirk knew that this would not be the end for the madman. If anything, he was going to try to take out Harold before he could do the same to him, but first he had to direct Rysol out of harm’s way.
“If I had been stronger all those years ago… then perhaps… then perhaps mother would still be alive,” Rysol said. “But it’s too late to keep dwelling on what I couldn’t do back then. Now is the time that I have the opportunity to finally make everything right for you, father.”
“What stupidity,” Harold scoffed. “Do you really believe that you can save him? I’ve already pierced his lungs and have him at my mercy! You’re a goddamn fool if you think you can change what’s already been decided!”
Rysol stepped forward. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Once I save my father, I’ll make sure your death is a painful one.”
Harold laughed. “I’ll kill you before you even come near me.”
“We’ll see about that one, you piece of shit,” Rysol replied. “Harold Mars… prepare to die!”
At that moment, Rysol came charging at Harold. Kirk could feel both blades exit out of his back, which made him collapse to the ground. His vision began to blur, but he could see Rysol’s sword clash with Harold’s daggers. It was then that Kirk realized how Harold was able to survive after his encounter: arms made out of steel connected to his body, which connected to a steel band across his chest. Kirk had to assume that Harold’s missing leg was replaced as well, but could not tell at all looking at Harold’s outfit.
“Looks like I’m going to get a real treat,” Harold said. “Now I can see why that idiot wanted to fight you so badly. He’s just like a dumb animal, that one, but his bloodlust remains the same.”
Rysol gritted his teeth. His sword locked in between the blades of Harold’s daggers as he tried to push further. On the side, Kirk sat up and tried to tend to his wounds. They were deep, but there was still a chance he could come out of this with a chance of surviving. He just had to have faith in Rysol that their exit would come soon.
“You’re strong, I’ll give you that,” Harold said to Rysol.
Harold then backed off, which led Rysol to see a chance to strike. However, he hesitated with his attack as Harold grinned. Kirk could tell something was up, but in his current state, he was not able to discern what it was that bothered him. Rysol raised his sword once more while Harold did the same with his knives, the two ready for one more clash.
“I’m going to end this fight right here,” Rysol said. “Before you can even strike me, I’ll have my blade slash your throat.”
“I welcome it,” Harold replied. “Go ahead, Rysol… Go ahead and make your dear father proud.”
Rysol growled. “No more hesitation.”
He charged at Harold once more as the older man readied himself. Kirk could only watch as he still struggled to speak. The sound of the blades clashing rang through Kirk’s ears as he saw the sight before him unfold. He could not believe what had unfolded before him: Rysol sent reeling backward as his metal arm shattered into pieces while Harold twirled around the knife in his right hand. Rysol’s sword had also been broken, as half of the blade was sent flying past Kirk while the rest of the sword fell to the ground. The sheer impact made Rysol hit a nearby tree in a violent fashion, which was almost enough to render him unconscious. As Kirk lay on the ground, he saw Harold approach Rysol and grab his collar.
“If you thought you could deceive me, Rysol, then you’re as big a fool as that man you call your father,” Harold said, lifting Rysol up. “Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to kill you too. I’ll even do you a favor and make you suffer before I take your insignificant life!”
Only so much time existed before Harold could make due on his promise to Rysol. Kirk had to fight back, even as he bled and faced death. He had to fight or else everything he was working for would all be for naught. With his will to live strong, Kirk stood up and gripped the handle of his sword. He took one look at Harold, who was throttling Rysol by the tree, and slowly lifted his blade. Kirk’s chance stood before him.
“I’ll make you regret even thinking about betraying me!” Harold exclaimed as he threw a punch to Rysol’s face. “You’re going to die here as the weak willed insect that you are!”
Kirk took a step forward. Breathing became difficult as he coughed and fell to the ground, dropping his sword in the process. It was enough to draw Harold’s attention, however, as he let go of Rysol and walked over to Kirk.
“You don’t know when to die, do you?” Harold asked, placing his foot on Kirk’s back. “Your lungs have been punctured; your life should already be over by now, but I’d be glad to help you out!”
Everything began to grow dark as Kirk could not move due to the pressure placed on top of him. He had Harold pin him down and nowhere to go, as well as his sword being just out of reach. There was no way he would admit it, but Kirk had no way to fight back in his current state. All he had to hope for was some sort of chance, but even that did not come for him or Rysol. Kirk had no idea where Rysol was, but worrying about him was irrelevant now.
“I’m not done with you yet!” Rysol screamed.
As darkness enveloped Kirk’s sight, he could still hear Rysol fighting for his life. His fight with Harold continued as Kirk listened to the two fight. Their fight did not last long, though, as Rysol let out a remarkable, excruciating wail that no one could mistake.
“My arm… You bastard!” Rysol replied.
Harold laughed an unsettling laugh that shook Kirk. “I don’t know how, but you’ve managed to wound me,” he said. “Though it’s just a scratch, you’ve ruined one of my favorite suit pants. A truly terrible crime that I’ll make sure you’ll pay with your life!”
But before Harold made a move on Rysol, Kirk got up to his feet. He was in shock at how he was able to stand, given his condition, but it didn’t matter now. At the other end stood Rysol, who looked into Kirk’s eyes and understood in that instant what he was going to do next. As long as he took down Harold, it did not matter to Kirk if he lived or not. He had to protect Rysol and he did not need to breathe in order to do that. With his arm outstretched, Kirk searched all over the ground for his sword and found it close next to him. All he needed was one final opportunity to buy some time in order for Rysol to escape, and Kirk knew he had to make that happen.
“I see,” Harold said.
Kirk listened to Harold’s voice and figured out where he stood. Not too far away, Kirk thought. With everything riding on this final attack, Kirk trusted the sounds to guide him. Harold had already wounded him, so there was nothing to lose. Nothing could stop him anymore. At least, Kirk believed that he could not be stopped.
Harold grumbled. “What a shame,” he said. “Oh well, I’ll find him later. Right now, I’ve got to deal with you.”
Kirk rushed Harold with his sword held high. This would be the finishing blow that would kill Harold Mars once and for all. However, Harold began to laugh again as Kirk came to a halt.
“Do you not realize where you are?” Harold asked. “I’ll be glad to send you falling to your doom off of Ahnle Peak!”
Thunder boomed into Kirk’s eardrums. The ensuing impact struck Kirk in the stomach as his feet lifted off the ground. He soon realized what had happened as he went flying into the air: Harold had landed the final blow. There was little that Kirk could do now that he was descending at a rapid pace.
“You’ll go crashing to your death,” Harold said to him. “Your efforts meant nothing to me, Kirk!”
Kirk continued to hold onto his life in vain. Nothing could make him admit defeat, not even his imminent death. All he could think about at a time like this was the people closest to him. He had to wonder if Rysol had escaped or not, but Kirk knew that he had been wounded. Harold made sure of that. Knowing Rysol, however, Kirk surmised that Rysol did indeed escape. Above all else, someone had to look out for Sorin now.
Which brought him to Sorin. Kirk regretted not telling Sorin about Rysol sooner, but also knew that he did not want to put his youngest son in danger. Yet he was in danger now, but Kirk could not do anything about his son’s dilemma. He had faith that Sorin would be able to right the wrongs against him and clear his name, but with Harold’s son around, that task would be difficult to achieve. Most of all, Kirk wished he had been able to see Sorin one last time, but that wish would go unfulfilled now that he was dying.
Kirk could not forget about Eva, too. Though their relationship was filled with its share of highs and lows, the time he spent with her was the happiest he had been in years. He wanted to see Eva smile one last time, but that was not going to happen. Kirk would never see her face again and he could never tell her that she was not at fault for his death. But he knew that she was strong, stronger than he was, though she did not want to say it. She meant a lot to Sorin as well, which was why Kirk felt even more regret.
Kirk’s one final regret, however, was that he was not able to avenge April and let her rest in peace. Harold orchestrated her killing and he had bested Kirk. Only darkness awaited Kirk now as his body landed into the rapids below. With all that had been done, Kirk had no idea how he was going to face April in the afterlife. All he could do now was let the darkness take him as he could not fight back against his fate any longer. The freezing water only served to speed up the process as Kirk could no longer hold onto life.
To be continued…