[1st of January, 2741 AD; nearby Ahnle River, outside North Glora, Ahnlikohn]
With Bradley after them, Luna and Pekka hurried through the forest. It had taken them several meters away from the castle, but Luna trusted Pekka’s instinct as they arrived at the sight of a river flowing in front of them. Though it looked to be crossable, Luna watched as Pekka stopped and turned around. She was left to do the same as she wondered what he had planned now.
“You want to stop here?” Luna asked.
“We’ve gone far enough,” Pekka said. “Any moment now, our pursuer will arrive and we’ll have to take him on. Prepare yourself to face the worst that this guy has to offer, Luna.”
Luna nodded. “I’m ready,” she said, taking out her knife. “I’m not scared to attack, nor should I be.”
“Our advantage remains the same,” Pekka said. “That coward’s coming at us right now, so let’s get ready.”
Luna saw Bradley running straight at them, even as he was still a distance away. She had to counter him with everything she had at her disposal, which also included Pekka’s help. But as they readied themselves upon Bradley’s entrance, he stopped a few feet before them and grinned.
“I see what you’re doing,” Bradley said. “You think I’m some sort of fool or something?”
“You’re outright dangerous,” Pekka replied. “That’s why we’re going to put a stop to you and your little friends.”
“Oh, don’t go on about that again,” Bradley said. “I couldn’t care less about what happens to that freak.”
“We already know how awful you are,” Luna said. “You’re no better than Korbin, you know that?”
“You only wish I was,” Bradley replied. “The fact is that he’s the way he is because of his father. Harold’s a smart man, but you wouldn’t want to get on his bad side, I’ll tell you that much.”
“I don’t give a damn about what you say,” Pekka said. “Right now, all I care about is dealing with you, which is why she and I picked out quite a good place to take you on.”
“Seems like you get it,” Bradley said. “We don’t need to talk about Korbin or Harold… You just want a chance to beat me, don’t you?”
“We’ve already done it before,” Luna said, “And we can definitely kick your butt again! I will make sure of it!”
“That confidence is amusing,” Bradley replied. “I’ll warn you firsthand that I didn’t forget about what you two did to me the last time. Yes, I think that bump on my head you gave me told me that I needed to get stronger.”
“Stronger or not, we’re ready for you,” Pekka said. “If you want to come at us, then I implore you to bring it! Just don’t be surprised when I hit back twice as hard.”
Bradley chuckled. “You ought to be careful about what you wish for,” he said. “Like I said, I’m not the same man you’ve fought before.”
He took a step forward and stretched out his arms. Luna looked over to Pekka, who looked back at her. The time for talk was over and they had to act now before Bradley could get himself ready.
“You know what’s next, don’t you?” Pekka whispered to her.
“I’ve got it,” Luna replied.
“Then let’s hurry,” Pekka said.
With that, Pekka launched himself at Bradley. There was no doubt that he was going to try and knock Bradley out before he got a hit in. Luna followed in after him, taking up the back as she watched Pekka charge Bradley. With his fist raised, Pekka threw a punch towards Bradley’s head. However, Bradley blocked the strike with his hand, catching Pekka off guard.
“Unbelievable,” Pekka said.
“You’re going to have to do better than that,” Bradley said. “If you believe even for a second that I’m about to let you hit me with that tired move, then you are absolutely foolish.”
Pekka withdrew his fist and back off. This time, he opted for a high kick at Bradley, who bent backwards so he could dodge. With his foot hanging in the air, Pekka brought his leg down as he moved forward. Bradley moved to the left and missed the connection, and took his time to strike back at Pekka. Pekka dodged the punch thrown at him as Bradley followed up with another one.
“Any time now,” Pekka said to Luna.
“Of… Of course,” Luna said, which snapped her out of her daze. “I’m going to help you right now!”
Luna joined in the attack as she tried to hit Bradley while avoiding Pekka at the same time. This fight proved different from the last time she had to face off against Bradley, as there was no high or low ground to utilize. She just had to rely on her skills as well as Pekka. She swung her knife and swiped at Bradley, making contact with his arm and cutting into his uniform. Her strike proved successful as Bradley viewed the cut that had formed on his arm.
“So you’re not all talk,” Bradley said. “You’ve got plenty of fight in you, you know that?”
“Why don’t you keep your compliments to yourself,” Pekka said.
“Yeah, I sure as heck don’t need your approval,” Luna said. “All I want to do is to see you suffer!”
“Fine then,” Bradley said. “It’s not like it’s a fatal wound, anyway. Besides, I already know what you’re going to throw at me…”
Pekka took the chance. He threw a punch at Bradley as he spoke. He broke through and made contact with Bradley’s face, which sent him reeling. Pekka did it again as his fist flew through the air, hoping to knock Bradley onto the ground. However, Bradley acted fast and kicked up some snow in Pekka’s direction. Pekka could not avoid the snow and put up his arms in defense. Bradley charged at him and attacked, but Pekka remained on the defense as he dodged each of Bradley’s punches. Luna hurried in and swung her knife at Bradley once more, cutting his shoulder in the process. Bradley tried to fend off Luna’s attack, leaving Pekka to lunge forth and grab the collar of his uniform.
“It’s as I said,” Pekka told Bradley, “You can’t beat us. You’ll never be able to beat us and you won’t be going anywhere once I’m finished with you.”
“You’re going to kill me?” Bradley asked. “I’d like to see you try!”
Bradley attempted to escape Pekka’s grasp, but found that Luna plunged her knife deep into the top of his right shoulder. Upon his realization, Bradley let out a terrifying scream.
“Impossible! When did you find the time to stab me?” Bradley asked. “How the hell did you do it?”
“Funny thing about that,” Pekka said, “You were so focused on me that you forgot about Luna’s ability to decide this battle.”
“I didn’t think that she would do it,” Bradley said. “Motherfucker!”
“Oh, and I’m not afraid to get a little blood on my hands if it means that we never have to deal with you again,” Pekka added. “Luna just made it all the more possible for me to finish you off, that’s all.”
“I still can’t believe it, either,” Luna said. “I’ve… I’ve never gone this far in my life before, but I knew he had to be stopped. He’s too much of a threat to leave alive, Pekka, so do what you have to and make it quick!”
But before Pekka could do anything, a loud, excruciating scream echoed. It was obvious who that scream belonged to as Luna looked around. Pekka paused as he wondered, too, what had happened.
“That’s got to be Jelka,” Luna said as she looked around. “There’s absolutely no way that that isn’t her, I can just tell by hearing it!”
“Idiots!” Bradley exclaimed.
It took no time for Bradley to wriggle his way out of Pekka’s grasp. He then shoved Pekka towards a nearby tree, pinning him against the trunk as Luna then turned back to see the scene. Unarmed, Luna chose to rush Bradley, who kicked her back while he remained trained on Pekka.
“That bitch stabbed me, you know,” Bradley said, “But even though it hurts beyond all hell, I still got a lot of strength in me to turn the tables around on you! Why don’t you try this, you piece of shit?”
Bradley then proceeded to punch Pekka in his chest several times, each one stronger than the last. Pekka tried to defend himself, but as he did, Bradley chose to headbutt him. The impact shocked Pekka as the onslaught continued, Bradley unrelenting as Luna got back up on her feet. Pekka found himself unable to keep his defenses up and dropped to the ground.
“Don’t think I’m done with you yet!” Bradley exclaimed.
Luna mustered everything she could and rushed at Bradley again. It was all she had against him as he turned and threw a punch at her. Luna moved out of the way, stumbling forth as she came close to bringing down Bradley. However, Bradley stopped her before she could do anything. It was clear to Luna that the advantage that she and Pekka had was no longer there.
“It’s a waste,” Bradley said. “The fact that you hesitated means I’m left with just killing you along with this weakling.”
“You’re just rotten,” Luna replied. “No amount of victory will ever change that fact.”
“Don’t make me laugh,” Bradley said. “I knew I was going to win because I know I’m much stronger.”
“It won’t last for long,” Luna said. “You know that the others are coming for you, right? Even if you kill Pekka… Even if you kill me… no matter what, it’s the beginning of the end for you! You and Foundation are going to lose!”
“That’s enough from you,” Bradley replied. “I’ve still got a worthless piece of scum to kill before you!”
Bradley used his free hand and punched Luna in the face, dropping her to the ground and focused his sights on Pekka once again. Luna was left to tend to her face as Bradley looked at her once again before setting his eyes on the knife sticking out of his shoulder.
“By the way, I really should return this to you!” Bradley told Luna.
He reached for the handle and pulled out the knife, wincing as he took hold of Luna’s knife. Bradley then threw the knife at Luna, just missing her as it settled in the snow next to her. Though she could still stand to fight, it was obvious that Bradley was much more trained in his skills. With Pekka out, Luna felt that the only option she had left was to run away. She could not do that, though, because she would never abandon Pekka.
“It won’t take long for me to finish you,” Bradley said to Pekka, kicking him in the chest. “I’ll do it nice and slow so you can feel all of your hope abandon you before you die!”
As Bradley kicked Peka over and over, Luna had no idea what to do. It was then that Luna heard a yell off in the distance once more. This one did not belong to Jelka, though, but rather to Mina. Her yell grew louder as Luna turned around and saw Mina rushing onto the scene.
“I’ve finally found you!” Mina exclaimed. “Stop right there!”
Bradley stopped his assault and looked over to Mina. Luna could see that Mina did not have her usual energetic smile, but rather the furious scowl that no one wanted to see. Luna stood up and picked up her knife as Mina came over to greet her.
“It looks like I came here just in time,” Mina said.
“How did you find us?” Luna asked.
“Oh, that was easy,” Mina replied. “I heard everything from where I was and started to run to where you were!”
“Thank you, Mina!” Luna said.
“It’s nothing,” Mina said. “This is just what I have to do, that’s all! I’m going to make sure that this villain won’t get away with what he’s done!”
“Is that so?” Bradley asked. “That’s some big talk coming from you. I’m not going to go easy on you, you know that?”
“Villains like you never fight fair,” Mina replied. “Kicking Pekka while he’s down is just what I expect someone like you to do! That’s why I’m here to put a stop to you!”
“Watch out, Mina,” Luna said.
“Don’t worry,” Mina said, “I’ll make sure he’ll get what he deserves!”
“Of… Of course,” Luna replied.
“Even if you did beat the other Blood Ravens, I’m still the one standing,” Bradley said. “I’ve heard a little about you from Korbin; someone like him could never beat you, while I’ll just win in seconds flat!”
“Luna, you should check in on Pekka,” Mina said. “Let me handle this guy one-on-one!”
“You’re really going through with it, aren’t you,” Bradley said. “Fine then, I won’t even bother with our friend here. Besides, it looks like he’s hurt enough by my attacks already.”
Bradley stepped away from Pekka and moved towards Mina’s direction. It took Luna no time to hurry over to check in on Pekka and see if he was okay. She checked for his pulse first and found that he was still alive. Luna was fortunate that Pekka held on, but he remained unconscious for injuries that Luna had no idea how to discern. For now, though, Luna had to believe in Mina. She had to believe that Mina would do as she said and defeat Bradley. Only then could they make their escape from Ahnle Mountain.
To be continued…