Sundown – Chapter 21 (Part 2)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Indoor Pool and Exercise Facility, Glora, Ahnlikohn]

 

Kiku arrived with Ayame and Igor at the indoor pool, where they wanted to spend some time until her mother finished her meeting. As Kiku expected, there were several other people in the pool as well as around it. Both Kiku and Ayame wore swimsuits, a white one-piece swimsuit and a purple bikini respectively, but Igor remained in his military uniform. Despite wearing a swimsuit, however, Kiku opted to sit at one of the tables with both of her guards instead of going into the water.

“Do you not wish to swim, madame?” Igor asked.

“Iggy, swimming is much more fun when it’s with someone you love, at least in my opinion,” Kiku replied. “I’m surprised you didn’t pack a pair of swimming trunks, though.”

“I’m afraid to say I can’t swim, madame,” Igor said.

“Ah, that’s a shame,” Kiku said. “Then again, you wouldn’t want to go swimming anyway, since you can just look at Aya and I.”

“It’s my job to keep an eye on you,” Igor replied.

“But not on Aya?” Kiku asked. “Or are you so in awe of her beauty that you cannot even gaze the sight of her?”

“It’s not that,” Igor said. “I can look at Ayame just fine. It’s just that swimsuit, if it can be called that…”

“I see now,” Kiku said. “It’s because you’ll catch yourself staring at Aya’s breasts, won’t you?”

She laughed as Igor turned away.

“It’s just a normal swimsuit, Igor,” Ayame said. “Then again, this is the first time we’ve actually been in a place like this together. Oh my god.”

“I bet I can make you blush even more, Iggy,” Kiku said. “What if I told you that there is someone I love? You’ll never guess who it is!”

“I don’t think you have someone like that,” Ayame said. “Not that I know of, anyway.”

Igor grimaced and turned in his seat. “It’s nothing.”

Kiku leaned forward. “Oh, did you say something?”

“Nothing, madame,” Igor replied.

“Well, you two can keep talking,” Ayame said. “I’ve been wanting to take a dip in the pool for quite a while and I don’t want to wait any longer.”

She stood up and walked towards the pool. As Ayame went swimming, Kiku watched on while Igor turned his sight back to her.

“She’s even more graceful in the water,” Kiku said. “Are you sure you don’t want to swim, Iggy? You can use Aya as a floatation device!”

“Um, I’m surprised you didn’t say that I could use you, Madame Izumi,” Igor replied.

“Just take a look at me,” she said as she spread her arms wide. “I’ve not the same assets as some of the other women, but luckily the gods decided to bless me with an enchanting charm instead.”

“Are you envious?” Igor asked. “You don’t usually come off as envious, if I do say so myself.”

“True, there are some advantages to being larger, and I don’t just mean height,” Kiku said, “But being small has its perks, too.”

“I suppose, though I wouldn’t know myself,” Igor said.

“Hey, do you want to go for a walk?” Kiku asked.

“But Ayame’s still swimming,” Igor replied. “Is that really okay?”

“She will eventually notice when we’re gone,” Kiku said. “I kind of just want to get up and stretch my legs.”

Igor stood up. “Then let’s go,” he said. “I’m sure that Ayame won’t mind if we take a breath of fresh air.”

Kiku got up as well and followed Igor out of the indoor pool. Out into the hallway, the two walked for a bit as they decided what to do next. That was when they managed to see both the prince of Thekohn and Lauren Ahga in one of the lobbies of the hotel.

“Perhaps we should greet them,” Igor said.

“I was just going to do that, Iggy,” Kiku said. “Oh, Brooksy! Over here!”

Brook turned his head and grinned the moment he saw Kiku. Ahga noticed the two as well and smiled as the two men walked up to Kiku and Igor.

“It’s nice to see you again,” Brook said.

“Yes, it’s quite nice to finally meet the lovely daughter of the empress of Kikuisha,” Ahga said. “Just one look at you tells me that you are indeed Yamazaki’s offspring.”

“Excuse me, but I don’t believe that you’ve met with Sir Lauren before,” Brook said. “He is an advisor to the queen.”

“Ah, that’s why,” Kiku said. “Well, Sir Lauren, it is nice to meet you. Now I wish I was in much more formal wear…”

“Seeing where you probably came from, it can’t be helped,” Brook said. “Is it just me, or isn’t there another person you’re with?”

“Oh, you mean Aya, don’t you?” Kiku asked. “She’s probably still taking a swim right now, if I had to guess.”

Brook nodded. “That was easy,” he said. “Hey, if it’s not too much ask, perhaps you could attend a dinner with my mother and I?”

Kiku looked over at Ahga. “Will he be there?”

“Sadly, I will not,” Ahga replied. “It’s a bit of personal matter.”

“I see,” Kiku said. “How about it, Iggy? Do you want to go?”

“No matter what I say, it probably won’t mean much,” Igor said. “If Madame Yamazaki is okay with it, then I suppose there is no problem.”

“Hooray! Sounds like we’ve got a dinner date tonight, Brooksy,” Kiku replied. “I’ll be sure to tell mother of the good news!”

“I’ll be awaiting your arrival,” Brook said. “It’s actually a really nice place from what I’ve heard.”

“Well, if you say it, then I guess I’ll have to believe it,” Kiku said. “Anyway, it’s been nice seeing you, but I believe it’s due time for us to head back.”

“Take care,” Brook replied.

Kiku said her goodbye and headed off with Igor back the way they had come. She could not wait for the dinner tonight, but had to get ready first. That was when they arrived at the pool and found Ayame getting out of the pool.

“Madame, did you leave?” Ayame asked.

“Did you not notice? I would’ve thought that you would,” Kiku replied. “I merely wanted to take a little walk, that was all.”

“Well, as long as Iggy was with you, it’s okay,” Ayame said.

“That it was, Aya,” Kiku said. “Anyway, I’ve changed my mind; I want to take a little swim now.”

“Right now?” Igor asked. “D-Does that mean you’ve found your love here?”

“No, Iggy,” Kiku answered. “I’ve told you before, haven’t I? I love Aya, so it’s only logical that I get to swim with her.”

“And you said you can’t swim,” Ayame said. “Although I suppose I’m going to have to watch extra carefully to make sure you don’t do anything sneaky, madame.”

Kiku gasped. “Sneaky? Me? What kind of woman do you take me for, Aya? I’m the least sneaky person in the world!”

“I know that,” Ayame replied. “I was just teasing.”

“Teasing, is it?” Kiku asked. “I like being teased by you, Aya.”

“That’s a weird thing to say,” Igor said.

“Oh, you only say that because I tease you all the time,” Kiku said. “It’s too bad you can’t swim, Iggy, because I’d really like to splash you right now!”

“Please don’t,” Igor replied. “I’m not a fan of large bodies of water.”

“So does that mean you like small bodies?” Kiku asked. “I didn’t think you would have those feelings about me, Iggy…”

Igor stepped back. “No! That’s not at all what I meant, Madame Izumi! I don’t think about your body at all!”

“Just kidding,” Kiku said. “Come on, Aya, let’s jump in!”

Kiku went towards the pool and leapt in, causing a small splash as Ayame shook her head at Igor. Some of the water ended up splashing both Ayame and Igor, the latter’s clothes slightly soaked.

“Perhaps you ought to stand back,” Ayame said, “Because I’m going in, too!”

Ayame joined Kiku in the pool and jumped in, causing another splash. Igor tried to move, but ended up getting splashed again and slipped. He landed on his backside as the seat of his pants became soaked with water.

“Damn it!” Igor said.

Kiku and Ayame laughed as they floated in the pool. As Igor stood up, he could only wonder what kind of explanation he would give to the empress later.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Ameci Embassy, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

The night arrived as Henry entered the embassy after a long day of working with Fercewend. He waited for the arrival of Aron Arrington, the man Henry had tasked with keeping an eye on Korbin. Henry walked around for a few minutes, checking his watch until Aron entered through the front door.

“Arrington, you’re finally here,” Henry said.

Aron saluted Henry. “A couple of minutes late, sir,” he replied. “Sorry about that.”

“As long as you don’t make tardiness a habit, then I’ll forgive you,” Henry said. “How are things going?”

“Well, about that, sir, I have some news,” Aron replied, “I heard that Mr. Mars was headed towards Helm. Seems he’s got a little pack of his own along with him.”

“That’s not too surprising,” Henry said. “He’s always had that small group with him whenever he hangs around the base or around here. The rumor, though, does interest me. How did you find out?”

“I asked around,” Aron answered. “Most didn’t know or care, but I did run into Bradley of Troop 15. He told me he needed a truck to go to Helm.”

“Okay, then you heard it from Crawford Bradley himself,” Henry replied. “You could have just said that in the beginning.”

Aron lowered his head. “I’m sorry.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Henry said. “At least we know now where they are.”

“That’s true,” Aron replied. “I wish I had more to add, but that’s all I’ve got, Junior Lieutenant Randolph.”

The front doors to the embassy opened again and in walked Korbin. He had a new change of clothes and was carrying his sword at his side. Henry, with his arms crossed,  turned to Korbin and nodded.

“Where have you been, Mars?” Henry asked.

“I’ve been around,” Korbin replied. “Here, there… Does it matter where I go? Why so suddenly concerned about me?”

“You know why I asked you that,” Henry said. “I heard from Arrington here that you were headed towards Helm the last he checked.”

“Really now?” Korbin asked.

“And there was an attack earlier in that town,” Henry continued. “Would you happen know anything about that?”

Korbin shrugged. “Why the hell would I know?”

“Because I’m concerned,” Henry replied. “General Fercewend has been noting your absences and went to me directly in hopes that I would address you personally about it.”

“You really got to do that?” Korbin asked. “Tch, you want to ask for my shoe size, too?”

“It’s a serious matter, Korbin!” Aron exclaimed.

“Shut up,” Korbin replied. “Fine, you want to know so bad? Okay, I did go to Helm, but I had no idea about the attack whatsoever.”

Henry sighed. “Well, since I heard that the attackers were domestic, I’m inclined to believe you,” he said, “But I do want to know why you went there in the first place. Care to tell me?”

“There’s no real reason that you’d go, right?” Aron asked.

Korbin’s eyes darted around, but then stopped as a smile appeared on his face. “That’s right, I was going to tell you about what I found out,” he replied. “You will not believe what I discovered today! I bet it’ll shake you up real good!”

“You found out something?” Henry asked.

“Actually, I was hoping that it’d be better news, you know,” Korbin said, “But alas, it concerns our resident spy, Johan Kuu.”

“Explain,” Henry said.

“Well, it’s only what I’ve heard, but Johan is in cahoots with a former member of the True Thekohnians,” Korbin replied. “Now I know that you probably have your doubts, but with all his roaming around, it makes a lot of sense if you ask me!”

“But Johan’s been on our side this whole time,” Aron said. “What possible reason would he have to associate with the likes of them?”

“Hey, don’t go after me,” Korbin said. “I’m just a messenger.”

Henry rubbed his chin. “Where did you hear this from?”

“Look, it doesn’t matter what the source of the news is,” Korbin replied. “All that matters is that we look into this. Now that I think about it, perhaps he was compromised before we rescued him. Yeah, definitely.”

“It’s no good to jump conclusions,” Henry said. “I’ll have to hear it from Kuu himself before making any sort of judgement.”

Korbin chuckled. “I guess that’s why you hold the rank you have,” he said. “Please just consider it, though. It greatly worries me that we might have a traitor in our midst.”

“I’ll inform the general about what you said,” Henry replied. “Just be more considerate of his time from now on, okay?”

“Don’t worry, I will be sure to remember,” Korbin said.

“Very well,” Henry said. “If you two will excuse me, I’m off to get some rest.”

Henry then left the embassy, leaving Korbin and Aron alone. Aron breathed out a sigh of relief as Korbin looked at him. Aron stared back at Korbin, who then marched up to him. The two men’s faces were mere inches apart as Korbin drilled his stare directly into Aron’s eyes.

“I know what you did,” Korbin said.

“What do you mean?” Aron asked.

“You’re working to undermine me, aren’t you,” Korbin replied. “Nothing more than a meddling rat, aren’t you? Do you know what happens to rats when I find them?”

Aron shook his head.

“They say the best way to deal with a filthy rat is to crush the head,” Korbin said. “It’s fast and efficient, after all. Some also say that drowning works as well.”

“What… what are you talking about?”

Korbin grabbed Aron by the collar. “You found me out pretty quickly,” he said. “If you had any balls, you would’ve tried to interfere with my plans. But you didn’t even try, did you?”

“I was waiting for the right time,” Aron replied.

“Fuck, you’re too stupid and dull to realize your mistake,” Korbin said. “I could just deal with you now and make it look like an accident, but I’m feeling generous today.”

He unleashed Aron’s collar, who decided to back up away from Korbin. Korbin, however, continued to walk towards Aron until the latter hit the wall. Once again, they were separated by a few inches as Korbin furrowed his brow.

“The next time you try to fuck with me, though, I will fucking kill you,” Korbin said. “Make no mistake, Aron Arrington. Oh, and don’t even think about reporting me to General Fercewend unless you really don’t value your life.”

Korbin then grinned as he patted Aron on the shoulder and walked away. Aron, who had been scared stiff, finally released his breath as he clutched his shoulder. There was little that Aron could do now, so he decided to take Henry’s cue and get some rest for now.

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 21 (Part 1)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Old Church Steps, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Korbin flaunted his sword. “Bring it on, Sorin Wilk!”

The air felt warm on Sorin’s face as he gripped the handle of his sword. He had no idea how Korbin was going to attack but had to anticipate anything. Sorin knew that this was not just a random enemy, but an Ameci soldier that knew of Sorin’s father. Whatever Korbin had planned, Sorin had to stay on his toes.

“I can see the look upon your face,” Korbin said. “That’s the look of uncertainty. The look of a man that hesitates to kill when given the chance. Well, allow me to show you what I’m made of!”

In that moment, Korbin rushed Sorin, swinging his sword swiftly. Sorin stopped each successive strike with his sword. With each attack, Sorin struggled to find an opening for a counterattack. Korbin’s wild and almost unpredictable attacks continued to keep Sorin on guard.

“What’s the matter, Sorin?” Korbin asked. “I haven’t even begun to sweat and you look like you’re ready to drop to your knees!”

Sorin stood his ground, blade raised. “You certainly didn’t lie about being good with a sword,” he said. “Who did you learn from?”

“So you like my style, don’t you? Well, I guess I can share that bit with you,” Korbin said. “Well, it’s a bit off the style that my dad says is from Lauren Ahga, whoever the fuck that is.”

“Wait, you can’t possibly mean that you know Sir Lauren, do you?” Rain asked.

“Hey, it’s like I said: I don’t know who that is,” Korbin replied. “Dad just tells me and I learn it through strenuous and torturous training.”

“Torturous?” Sorin asked.

“Don’t tell me you haven’t experienced it,” Korbin said. “Everything I’ve done was the result of pain thanks to my old man. Hell, I can still remember the scars he gave me years ago.”

“I don’t even know what I can say about that,” Sorin said.

“Ah, but you really didn’t get the chance to spend a lot of time with your dad, did you?” Korbin asked. “They said that he was a warrior of compassion, always sparing those he fought. Hah, like that’s believable!”

Sorin frowned. “Excuse me?”

“You really believe that shit? Seriously, who would fucking do a thing like that,” Korbin said. “It’d be easier just to end those worthless lives just like that, you know?”

“Are you trying to making me mad?” Sorin asked.

“I’m trying to have a fight here,” Korbin replied, “So make with it and fight me already!”

Sorin felt his anger rising towards Korbin, who stood there as he awaited the next attack. Korbin relaxed his stance, which left himself wide open. It almost seemed too easy for Sorin to strike next, almost as if Korbin expected it to happen. Because he felt that such an attack would prove foolish, Sorin continued to stay where he was.

“You’re almost too calm there,” Sorin said. “Are you sure that you’re not trying to lure me into your next attack?”

Korbin rested the back of his sword on his shoulder. “Only one way to find out, right? Better do it now, or else…”

“I’ve got no choice, then,” Sorin replied.

Sorin charged forth at Korbin. The tip of Sorin’s blade edged closer and closer to Korbin, who turned his body at the last moment. As Korbin brought his sword down, Sorin spun around and raised his sword to block the attack. The sharp clash of the two blades pushed Sorin and Korbin against each other as they both tried to best the other.

“Looks like my intuition was correct,” Korbin said. “The son of Kirk Wilk is quite as good!”

“You forgot one thing, Korbin,” Sorin replied.

“What’s that?”

Sorin increased the grip on the handle. “I’m not him.”

Korbin felt the sudden pushback as Sorin kicked out his leg and tripped him. As Korbin dropped to his knee, Sorin held up his sword in a defensive pose. Korbin wasted no time getting back up on both feet as he started to laugh.

“What’s so funny now?” Sorin asked.

“I haven’t had a fight this exciting in a while,” Korbin replied. “Usually I just win in a matter of seconds, but you… you really can put up a fight!”

Sorin had no time to respond as Korbin rushed him again. With each swing of Korbin’s sword, Sorin matched it with a block of his own. There looked to be no end in sight to the Ameci soldier’s energy as Sorin continued to block each attack. Then, Korbin landed a strike upon Sorin’s blade, which proved strong enough to knock Sorin to the ground.

Sorin picked up his sword. “Damn it!”

Sorin rolled out of the way as Korbin swung his sword down. As he got up and standing again, Sorin found himself on the defensive once more. The two moved around the front yard of the church, their movements being tracked by the others watching.

“You think someone’s going to come save you?” Korbin asked.

Sorin kept defending each blow with his sword. “What?”

“That friend of yours, Johan Kuu, is it? He’s not going to save your ass,” Korbin replied. “If you really want to stop this, then you know what to do!”

Sorin did not respond. Instead, he charged forth towards Korbin again. Once again, the two men fought with their swords clashing against one another. Another slash, another defend. Now Sorin just wanted to prove a point. He wanted to prove that he was not going to back down. Sorin wanted to prove to Korbin that he was not about to let the Ameci soldier run amuck, doing as he pleased.

“You’re doing a lot better,” Korbin said, “There’s that fire I’ve been waiting for!”

“I’m not going to let you get away with this!” Sorin exclaimed.

With a swing of his sword, Sorin struck Korbin’s blade and caught Korbin off guard. As Korbin backed up, Sorin stood in place as he awaited for what would happen next. Korbin then decided to sheath his sword and laugh, which led to confusion on Sorin’s part.

“Any more like that and you might’ve actually hit me!” Korbin said. “That’s all for now, though.”

Sorin sheathed his sword as well. “You mean that?”

“I just wanted to test you, that was all,” Korbin replied. “Besides, I believe we both learned a little about each other, didn’t we?”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Sorin said.

“You’d be a fool to think I see you as a threat,” Korbin said. “What’s the point? We’re practically on the same side, you and I!”

“I doubt that,” Sorin replied. “You still have to hold up your end of the bargain, don’t you?”

Korbin’s mouth was agape as he laughed. “Well, you certainly are persistent,” he said, “But you’re right. I guess it’s up to me now, isn’t it?”

“You want to just hurry it the fuck up already?” Gavin asked. “Sorin’s already played your little game long enough, so just hand her over, asshole.”

“Certainly, certainly,” Korbin replied. “Erik! You heard the guy in the sunglasses! Let’s get this over with!”

“Alright, then,” Erik said, pulling Silvia along with him. “Come on, you.”

“Oh thank god,” Ayanna said. “You’re not hurt, are you, Silvia?”

Silvia kept herself quiet.

“We’ll have to ask you a few questions when you go back to prison, but at least I’m glad that you’re safe,” Ayanna continued.

“I guess she’s in such a glorious state of shock that she’s got no words,” Bradley said. “It’s a bit anticlimactic, but I guess you guys are going to get what you want, won’t you?”

“Hey, Sorin, you mind moving a little?” Korbin asked.

Sorin felt as if he were caught off guard by that question. “What for?”

“I want to help see the poor girl off,” Korbin replied. “After all she’s been through, I’m sure she deserves a little help to the end.”

He walked over to where Erik and Silvia were and extended his hand. Erik nodded as he handed Silvia over to Korbin. With the two men nodding to each other once more, Korbin led Silvia towards Ayanna and the others.

“Ah, but don’t you think that this is a little too boring, Silvia?” Korbin asked.

Silvia looked back at Korbin. “What do you mean?”

Korbin looked over at Ayanna. “She’s a friend of yours, ain’t she? What’s more touching than to have a moment the two of you will never forget?”

“Dare I ask what you’re talking about?” Ayanna asked.

Korbin cracked a devious smile. “I mean this!”

In that instant, Korbin pulled out the knife from the back of his belt and stabbed Silvia in the back. The sudden, painful shock brought Silvia’s eyes wide as she coughed up blood.

Ayanna exclaimed. “Silvia!”

Silvia was not able to move. “But… why?”

Korbin chose not to respond and instead pulled his knife from out of her back, only to stab her once more. With another stab in the back, Korbin dropped Silvia to the ground as Ayanna hurried over to her side.

“I’m sorry… Ayanna…”

Ayanna held Silvia in her arms. “Don’t be,” she said as tears formed in her eyes, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”

Gavin clenched his fist and directed his sights at Korbin. “You piece of shit! What the fuck is wrong with you!? You were supposed to hand her over unharmed!”

“Now where did you get that idea?” Korbin asked. “I was only going to hand her over; it doesn’t matter if she’s dead, right?”

“The fuck did you just say?” Gavin asked.

“Hey, you should be thanking me,” Korbin replied. “I basically did Iiayikohn a favor by disposing of her. That’s good enough to be called a hero, isn’t it?”

“You’re no hero!” Mina shouted. “You just killed a defenseless woman for no reason!”

“Of course I had a reason,” Korbin said. “She’s a True Thekohnian, so she had to be taken care of. Especially since she had a hand in killing that prime minister!”

“She wasn’t responsible for the prime minister’s death,” Law said. “That was a different party altogether.”

“You’d be surprised how fast the news travels,” Korbin replied. “On the way here, Bradley and I decided to listen to a little radio. News station said that the Iiayikohnian government found a couple of suspects in the assassination of Alan Berry.”

“That’s right,” Law said. “My bro and I caught the guys responsible.”

“Ah, good for you,” Korbin said, “But you see, that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that she was the last one seen with the prime minister. That’s all the evidence in the world to me and my boys.”

“Besides, you two could’ve just caught the wrong people,” Erik said. “Now her, here, she’s the real deal. A True Thekohnian, no less!”

“Like I said: doing a favor for you all,” Korbin said. “Now can I ask that lieutenant general  to stop her pathetic display of crocodile tears? It’s really getting on my nerves.”

Ayanna looked down at Silvia’s now lifeless body. “I’m the one who should be saying ‘sorry,’ Silvia,” she said. “The only thing I can do now is make sure that your death won’t be for naught.”

She rested Silvia over to the side and stood to her feet. As she wiped the tears out of her eyes, Ayanna pulled out her gun and aimed it at Korbin.

“You wretched, deplorable waste of a human,” she said. “Have you little regard for the lives of others? All you are is a heartless killer!”

Korbin gave a jovial smile. “So?”

“So? So you’ve killed my friend!” Ayanna exclaimed. “I should just kill you where you stand!”

“Then do it,” Korbin replied. “You know who my dad is, right? I’m sure he’d be delighted to deal with the likes of you.”

“His father’s quite a big deal,” Bradley said. “Has connections all over the place. I’m sure there’d be no time wasted in erasing you.”

Ayanna held her stance. “I’m not afraid of your empty threats.”

“Oh, they’re not empty,” Korbin said. “There’s a name they gave my old man. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? ‘The Ruthless Ameci of the Underworld,’ that’s what they call him.”

“Ayanna, you don’t have to fight him,” Law said. “Because I’m just as willing to do it for you!”

Law jumped forward and rushed Korbin, hoping to land a hit. However, Korbin could see it coming and grabbed Law. He wrapped his arm around Law’s neck and produced his knife once more.

“Lawrence!” Ayanna yelled.

Gavin whipped out his gun and aimed it at Korbin. “Let him go, asshole!”

“If you really want me to unhand him, then do as I say,” Korbin said. “Drop your weapons, leave here, and pretend none of this ever happened.”

“Like hell we will!” Gavin exclaimed.

“Yeah, we’re not going to waste any time taking care of you,” Mina said, “There’s more of us than there are of you!”

“Right,” Sorin said. “What you’ve done is unforgivable, Korbin!”

“Guys, stand down,” Law said. “It’s not worth the trouble to deal with these guys.”

“Don’t worry, Lawrence,” Gavin said, “I’ve got my gun trained on his fucking head!”

“No, bro, it’s seriously not worth it,” Law replied. “Take it from me: it’s better to run from a fight as long as everyone survives.”

Ayanna looked at Korbin, and then to Law. “As much as I would love to deal with this murderer, I have to agree,” she said as she put away her gun. “Revenge is not worth the cost of another, especially if it can be avoided.”

“You’d still trust him?” Gavin asked.

“I’ve got nothing to do with this guy,” Korbin said. “What would I gain from killing him? Nothing.”

Gavin continued to stare Korbin down, but withdrew his gun. Korbin then let Law go, shoving him forward. Ayanna welcomed Law with a hug as she held him close to her.

“I really wish I could’ve done more, love,” Law said.

“You’ve done enough,” Ayanna replied. “It’s me who should have done more. I couldn’t save Silvia…”

“Don’t blame yourself,” Law said.

“If there’s a person to blame, it’s that man,” Rain said as she pointed at Korbin. “Have you no honor?”

“What are you talking about?” Korbin asked. “Me and Sorin agreed to a fight and I honored my end of the deal.”

He laughed as Rain walked up to him until she was face to face with him.

“To carry out such a cruel act and laugh it off as if it’s nothing is beyond atrocious,” she said. “Up until now, I did not believe that there was a person as twisted as you are. Unfortunately, it looks as if I am wrong about that.”

Korbin laughed again. “Oh, you’re serious? That’s truly hilarious! I haven’t been this entertained in forever!”

“Come on, Korb,” Bradley said. “Let’s just get out of here. No reason to keep ourselves occupied with this bunch.”

“I guess you’re right,” Korbin replied. “Hey, Sorin, it’s been a fun time, but looks like these guys are getting bored. Maybe we should have a little fun again sometime in the future?”

Sorin wanted nothing more than to deal with Korbin himself, but instead used his self-restraint. “You’re going to sorely disappointed,” he said. “Just take your guys and get the hell out of here.”

“Oh, don’t be too sad, Sorin,” Korbin said. “This is only the beginning, after all. You really do excite me, you know that?”

At that moment, both Johan and Pariton arrived behind the group. Korbin caught sight of Johan and frowned in an instant.

“You’re too late,” Korbin said. “I got bored and decided to take care of our little problem myself.”

Johan’s eyes lit up. “Oh my god, don’t tell me…”

He hurried past Gavin and Mina and saw for himself. Silvia’s corpse lay on the grass as Ayanna wrapped her coat around the body. Johan lowered his head as Pariton walked up to his side.

“I’m very sorry things didn’t go as planned, Mr. Johan,” Pariton said as he patted Johan on the back.

“We were too late,” Johan said.

“Sad that you couldn’t get to her first?” Korbin asked. “Just goes to show that a meddler like you is only good when he’s out of the way.”

“That’s not what I’m upset about,” Johan replied. “It’s clear that that woman meant a lot to Miss Ansa over there. I had my doubts about you, but I didn’t think you’d take it this far!”

“Shit, all of you are on your high horses today,” Korbin said. “Not like I care, anyway. I got what I wanted out of this, so what good does it do for me to keep talking to you?”

“You owe an apology,” Johan said. “An apology to Lieutenant General Ayanna Ansa, if not the entire Iiayikohnian government.”

“What for? I’ve already taken care of the problem,” Korbin replied. “Say, that man at your side… Is it just me, or does he look familiar?”

“You’re imagining things,” Pariton said.

“Hold on a second,” Korbin said. “I heard there was a mission you took a while back, Johan Kuu. Find a stray True Thekohnian, was it?”

“You’re not wrong,” Johan answered.

Korbin gave an enthusiastic laugh. “Oh, if word of this managed to reach that general, this’d be a hell of a scandal,” he said. “Imagine that a spy would find sympathy for some lowly scum and associate with him, no less! That is, unless I manage to take care of you both…”

He pushed Rain aside and withdrew his sword. Korbin then charged at both Johan and Pariton, who stood frozen in their tracks. Before Korbin could land any attack, Sorin rushed to Johan and Pariton’s defenses. Sorin took out his sword swiftly and blocked the oncoming attack.

“That is enough,” Sorin said.

“Even you’d spare the life of a killer, Sorin?” Korbin asked. “Fine. I would rather have a little chase with Johan before I get him, anyway.”

“You’re going to have trouble with that,” Johan said.

“All the more fun for me,” Korbin replied. “Fuck it, let’s get out here, guys. Get Lance, too!”

Erik nodded. “Understood.”

Korbin and Erik then headed out to the back of the church, while Bradley stayed behind. He looked over at Sroin, who now had put his blade away.

“Consider yourself lucky,” Bradley said. “You’re on Korb’s good side right now, Sorin, which is why he decided to spare your friend there.”

With that, Bradley ran off to join the other two. Sorin then turned to Johan and Pariton, who were busy helping Ayanna with Silvia’s corpse.

“How did you know we were here?” Sorin asked.

“I can explain that later, buddy,” Johan replied. “We need to take care of things here right now.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 2)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Tranquil Cardinal Inn, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Johan walked into the hotel, with Pariton close behind him. The two had arrived in Helm only a few minutes ago and were looking for answers as to what had happened. Given from the activity, Johan guessed that there was some sort of attack on the town, but wanted to find answers. As he tried, he ended up coming across Gale Kunigunde in the hotel.

“Ah, Gale, you’re here,” Johan said.

“Hello Johan,” Gale said. “How did you get in?”

“What do you mean?”

“I thought the gates were on lockdown,” Gale replied. She looked past Johan and to Pariton. “Is it just me or does that guy look familiar?”

“It must be just you,” Johan replied. “Right, Pekka?”

Pariton crossed his arms. “You must be imagining things, miss.”

“Maybe I am,” Gale said. “Anyway, I was wondering if you saw Sorin out there somewhere, Johan.”

“Funny enough, I was going to ask you that,” Johan replied. “There was something I’ve been meaning to talk to him about.”

“What is it?” Gale asked.

Johan sighed. “I’m afraid I can’t share it with you,” he said. “It’s… kind of personal. I hope you understand.”

“No, I get it,” she replied. “Are you going to go now?”

“Well, I’m not going to run into him if I just do nothing,” Johan said. “He’d be back here, but I’m working with limited time.”

“It’s best if we take the back routes,” Pariton said. “We’re less likely to run into the Ahnlikohn military that way.”

Johan nodded. “Agreed,” he said. “Well, Gale, it’s nice to run into you again. I hope we can meet again under different circumstances, though.”

“Okay, well, I hope we can, too,” she replied.

“Next time, let me treat you guys,” Johan said. “At least I can make it up to you that way.”

“As long as you don’t get carried away, we’ll definitely do it,” Gale said. “Maybe he’d like to come along, too?”

“I’ll have to decline,” Pariton answered.

“He’s not really that much of a social person,” Johan said. “But for you, I will try my best to treat you and Sorin the next chance I get.”

He turned to leave the hotel with Pariton, but stopped in his tracks. Johan slapped his hand on his forehead as he laughed to himself.

“Ah, where are my manners?” Johan asked. “I haven’t even said goodbye to you, nor have I given you a hug. Let’s change that, shall we?”

He approached Gale with open arms, to which she responded by receiving his embrace. As he patted her on the back, Pariton opened the front door.

“If I don’t see Sorin, just tell him I said hello,” Johan said.

“I will let him know you said that,” she said. “I’ll see you later.”

“Same to you, Gale,” he said.

And with that, Johan separated himself from Gale and followed Pariton out of the hotel. Out on the street, Pariton looked around for a route to the other side of the city. There, he turned back to Johan and pointed out an entrance.

“Right there, Mr. Johan,” Pariton said.

“I really hate having to leave her behind, but I have a feeling that we’re needed elsewhere,” Johan said. “Well? Let’s not waste any more time here.”

“Anything you say,” Pariton replied. “Now, after you.”

Johan chuckled. “If you insist.”

They hurried into the alleyway and towards the back route that Johan knew would lead them into the plaza. Everything was going accordingly to his plan, but he still had to be there before things could get carried away. First, there was a certain someone he had to deal with, and Johan was not about to let her get away. Second, he had to know if Sorin was safe. Because of those things, Johan knew that he had no time to waste.

 

Upon making their way to the plaza, Johan and Pariton saw Jelka being taken away by a couple of Ahnlikohnian officers. Despite her animosity towards him, Johan still needed Jelka’s help and he was not about to let her get away.

“We shouldn’t let them arrest her,” Johan said.

“She kidnapped you,” Pariton replied. “Do you still want to save her?”

“You trust me, don’t you Pekka?” Johan asked.

Pariton breathed a sigh of relief. “For some reason, when you say it like that, I do trust you,” he said. “I’ll take care of them for you.”

“Thank you.”

Pariton hurried forward to the officers and engaged them. As they tried to reach for their weapons, Pariton disarmed them in swift fashion. With their guns knocked to the ground, the officers tried to pick them up but Pariton quickly kicked one of the officers in the head, knocking him out. The other officer tried to attack, to which Pariton responded by delivering a blow to the back of his head. Jelka stood back as Pariton took both men out.

“You saved me?” Jelka asked.

Johan shrugged as he walked up to Jelka. “It must be a shock to you, right?”

“Don’t think that because you saved me that I see you any differently,” Jelka replied. “If I still had my sword, I would cut you down in an instant!”

“Well, I guess I’m lucky you don’t have a sword,” Johan said. “Though, those guns on the ground should be a good substitute, wouldn’t they?”

Jelka looked to the ground but found that Pariton had already picked them up. “You… are you trying to mock me, Ameci!?”

“Like a shadow, Pekka’s rather quick,” Johan replied. “I would suggest you run right now, because once word gets out, they will be hot on your tracks.”

“You don’t need to tell me that,” Jelka said. “Just tell me why you decided to help me.”

“Well, consider our helping hand to be a sympathetic one,” Johan said. “I’m not just an average soldier.”

“Your actions have proved that you’re indeed anything but average,” Jelka replied. “What could you possibly sympathize with me about? You’re an Ameci; you don’t have much to complain about!”

“How I wish we could just sit down and talk,” Johan said, “Because I’d really like to just tell you why you’re wrong. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to do it another time.”

“What? No, I refuse that answer!” Jelka exclaimed. “I deny that answer! You will tell me now, or so help me god, I will crush you!”

“I won’t allow that to happen,” Pariton said.

“Fine, then just tell me what you want,” Jelka said.

“I don’t want anything from you,” Johan answered. “Well, maybe one thing. I want you to leave here now.”

“Why are you doing this, anyway?” Jelka asked. “I’m sure if the Ameci army found out, they’d punish you.”

“That’s why I’m always planning ahead,” Johan said. “Besides, no one is ever going to know that this happened. You want to tell them yourself? Go ahead; they’ll just capture you on the spot.”

Jelka scowled. “It must be nice,” she said. “Consider yourself lucky, Ameci.”

Jelka then sprinted as fast as she could, leaving Johan and Pariton to themselves. With that matter taken care of, Johan turned to Pariton.

“Well, we’ve got one more thing to do here,” Johan said.

“Where do you think he is?” Pariton asked.

“A good question,” Johan replied. “I wonder if he’s crossed paths with our other friend.”

“Are you speaking of the bird?”

“That I am,” Johan said. “If we’re going to find them, perhaps it’s best we scour the whole of this place.”

“Let us do just that, then,” Pariton replied.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Old Church Steps, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Outside the old church, Sorin and the others found Korbin sitting on the front step twirling his gun. Bradley waved over to Korbin, who noticed as he put his gun away and stood up.

“Ah, so you’ve finally come,” Korbin said. “Gotta admit, I was getting bored just waiting here.”

“Korbin? What are you doing here?” Sorin asked.

Korbin clapped his hands together. “And there’s the man I’ve been waiting for! How’s it going, Sorin Wilk?”

“Your ‘friend’ here told us you have someone we’ve been looking for,” Sorin said. “Can you just turn her over to us?”

“Is that how you want to settle this?” Korbin asked. “I think I’ve been counting the blades of grass here to pass the time. You really just want to do the so-called ‘diplomatic’ thing instead of proving your worth?”

“It’s a stupid idea,” Sorin replied. “There’s nothing to gain for either us if we fight each other.”

Korbin’s eyebrow twitched. “Nothing to gain? Hey, Bradley, what the hell did you bring him for if he doesn’t want to fight me?”

“I had no idea,” Bradley replied.

“No idea my ass!” Korbin said. “I’ve already had to beat some sense into Lance earlier, so don’t make me have to bloody my knuckle once more!”

“Korbin, is it?” Ayanna asked. “I’m the lieutenant general of the Iiayikohnian military. It’s imperative for us that this escaped convict return to us immediately, so if you have her, I request that you bring her out.”

“You think that because you’re high rank, you can boss me around?” Korbin asked. “I think not! How about you just back off and let Sorin and I settle this like men?”

“I see that reason fails you,” Ayanna said. “If General Fercewend got word of this…”

“That bald bastard ain’t worth shit!” Korbin exclaimed. “Sure, I serve Ameci fine and well, but above all else I’m a Blood Raven! I live for the thrill of the battle and nothing else!”

“You’re really nothing more than a thug in a uniform, aren’t you?” Gavin asked. “That badge on your coat means nothing to you?”

“Nope, sorry,” Korbin replied. “Although I don’t take too kindly to being called a mere ‘thug,’ former junior lieutenant Gavin Power. I heard you ran away because you wanted to stay with your traitorous brother. That must be him right beside you, if I had to guess.”

“You’re certainly not a slouch with names,” Law said. “I take you’re not going to give us back our escapee until Sorin fights you, am I right?”

Korbin laughed. “Ding! Ding! Ding! You should get a reward! I know… How about I kick your ass?”

“In terms of rewards, that’s a really shitty one,” Law replied. “Do you only think about ways to hurt people?”

“Isn’t that how we’ve always settled things?” Korbin asked. “We live, fight, bleed, and die every day. What’s another fight? A fight that doesn’t even have anything to gain, so says Sorin Wilk?”

“Can we be certain you have the woman in question?” Rain asked.

Korbin tilted his head. “Excuse me?”

“If she’s with you, then we would know that you aren’t lying to us,” Rain answered. “That way, Sorin might be able to fulfill your request.”

“Oh, I see,” Korbin said. “Perhaps I can prove to you that I’m not just fucking around with all of you. Bradley, go and get Erik!”

“Sure thing,” Bradley replied.

He walked past Korbin and into the church. As everyone waited, Sorin took a deep breath as he anticipated what would happen next. What waited beyond those doors? There was no time to think about that as the doors creaked open and Erik walked out with Silvia in tow.

“Silvia! Are you alright?” Ayanna asked.

“Oh don’t bother answering that,” Erik said as he placed his hand on Silvia’s mouth. “Perhaps Sorin needs a little more motivation. Here!”

With his free hand, Erik took out a sheathed sword and tossed it over to Korbin. Korbin caught it and instantly took the blade out, throwing the sheath to the side.

“Well, Sorin?” Korbin asked. “I got this custom made thanks to my dad! Maybe you’ve heard of him?”

“I don’t think I have,” Sorin replied.

“I guess it doesn’t matter,” Korbin said. “It’s not like you’ll have any chance of meeting him.”

“So are you going to let Silvia go or not?” Sorin asked. “I’d rather not waste any more time with you.”

“Aw man, I was just trying to be friendly,” Korbin replied. “I set up this duel and everything, but all you want is to spurn my desires. All I wanted was a duel against the son of Kirk Wilk. Oh well.”

Korbin looked over at Erik and tilted his head upwards.

“Got it, Korbin,” Erik said.

Erik pulled out a gun from his holster at pointed it at Silvia’s head. Sorin gritted his teeth as Ayanna stepped forward.

“What the hell are you doing!?” Ayanna asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Korbin asked. “Sorin doesn’t want to fight me. What else can I do but just put this poor woman out of her misery?”

“Besides, it’s not like she’s important to any of you,” Erik said.

“Not important? You’re dead wrong,” Ayanna replied. “She might be just a simple convict to you, but she happens to be my friend. A friend who made a terrible mistake, but a friend all the same.”

Korbin grinned. “Am I really hearing this? A lieutenant general expressing feelings for a terrorist? I feel like I have to laugh at how fucking stupid that sounds!”

He began to laugh as both Bradley and Erik joined him. As he did, Sorin quickly drew his sword and pointed it at Korbin.

“You want a fight?” Sorin asked. “I’ll give you a fight.”

“Sorin, are you sure of this?” Rain asked.

“I can’t really say I care for doing this, but he leaves me little choice,” Sorin replied. “Korbin! I’ll give you your ‘fight’ so long as you let Silvia go!”

Korbin stopped laughing. “That sounds lovely,” he said. “Oh, before we fight, I should let you know that I’m not just some amatuer. I’m as skilled with a sword as I am a gun.”

“Doesn’t matter to me,” Sorin said. “The rest of you… I want you to back up right now!”

“Wait, like right now?” Law asked.

“You heard him,” Gavin said.

“Please, Sorin, just don’t do anything reckless,” Ayanna said. “Just make sure that Silvia returns to us safe.”

“I’ll make sure that that happens,” Sorin replied.

“Kick his butt, Sorin,” Mina said, “Because I really don’t like how any of these guys are acting at all!”

“I know that you can do this,” Rain said.

“Thank you, guys,” Sorin said.

The others then just backed themselves up until they were behind the fence of the church. Sorin then faced Korbin, who smiled from side to side.

“Is that it, then?” Korbin asked. “You’ve been making me wait for quite a while, you know, but that doesn’t matter much to me now. Now things are getting exciting!”

Korbin cackled again, his laughter joined by Bradley and Erik once more. Then, out of nowhere, Korbin started to imitate the caw of a raven. The sheer, shrill sound caught Sorin off guard, but his grip on his sword remained strong as the other two of Korbin’s crew joined in the bird call. As Korbin stopped, he laughed again as he looked to Sorin.

“Bring your best to me, Sorin Wilk,” Korbin said. “I assure you that you’ll never beat me, the leader of the Blood Ravens!”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 1)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Abandoned Warehouse in the Winged Eagle District, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Sorin deflected Jelka’s strike as he fought back. She managed to dodge his sword, but Rain was on the other side ready to attack next. Jelka quickly turned as she raised her blade and defended herself. With an opening created, Sorin thrusted his sword forward. Jelka dodged the attack, however, as she leapt back and lifted up her sword.

“It seems as if you’ve gotten better,” Jelka said, “But let me see you try to stop this!”

Once again, she rushed towards the two. But instead of attacking Sorin or Rain, Jelka leapt into the air. She rotated her body and landed behind the two, with Mina now in Jelka’s sights. Mina anticipated the next attack as Jelka charged at her.

Rain turned around. “Mina!”

“Take this!” Jelka exclaimed.

She sent her sword downwards, but Mina rolled out of the way. Jelka tried her next attack, a sideways slash, but Mina ducked under before the blade could hit her. In that instant, Mina surprised Jelka as she grasped the other woman’s right arm with her hands. As her dominant hand was in Mina’s captivity, Jelka could not attack.

Mina tightened her grip on Jelka. “Let’s see how far you’ll go!”

She spun Jelka around and threw her, which sent her flying all the way to the side of the building. Jelka made contact with the wall and instantly dropped to the floor, her sword falling by the wayside. Mina then took time to catch her breath as she stretched her arms out and jumped up and down.

“I don’t care if you are holding a sword or not,” she said, “Because you’ll never win either way!”

“Wow, Mina, that was pretty amazing,” Sorin said.

“Oh, thanks,” she replied. “I wanted to try that move out on Law so badly, but Gavin stopped me before I could do anything. I’m so glad it actually worked!”

“Is she okay?” Rain asked.

Sorin looked to the side and saw Jelka struggle to get to her feet. She reached down to pick up her sword and brushed away the hair in front of her face to her side. With a deep breath, Jelka stood tall as she pointed her blade at the three.

“You seem to be no mere fighter,” Jelka said. “Tell me, girl, who are you?”

“Well, I’ll just tell you,” Mina replied. “My name is Mighty Mina, and these two are Rain and Sorin! Together we’ll beat you!”

“It’s funny, isn’t it?” Jelka asked. “To think that some girl can try and best me in combat. Without a sword, no less!”

“You should just give up,” Rain said. “It’s no use to try and fight a battle you cannot win.”

Jelka swung her sword. “Do you really think you’ve beaten me? Do you really believe that I would just go down this easily? I have no intention of having my family name go tarnished because of this!”

“Your family name?” Sorin asked.

“It’s something you wouldn’t understand,” she said. “Something that none of you would understand!”

“Then there’s nothing left to say,” Sorin said. “You’ve only got two choices at this moment, Jelka: either you escape or you stay here. Either way, it will end with your arrest.”

“Damn you!” Jelka exclaimed. “Damn you and damn that princess! Damn the Royal Family of Thekohn! Damn all of you!”

She once again rushed at Sorin, who defended himself as fast as he could. With his blade shielding against hers, Sorin pushed back on Jelka. Rain joined in and helped Sorin in his counterattack. As Jelka spent her time blocking their slashes and slices, her back was left open. That was when Mina approached from behind and held Jelka in an armlock. With her arms held in place, Jelka tried to move, but Sorin’s next slash made contact with her sword and knocked it out of her hand.

“You! How can you do this?” Jelka asked.

“It’s because I’m so strong,” Mina said, “And now I’m going to do this!”

With Jelka still in her grasp, Mina tilted her body towards the left. The momentum carried Jelka off of her right foot as she started to fall to the ground. Mina then released Jelka from her hold and watched as the other woman dropped to the floor again.

“Damn it all,” Jelka said. “Why has no one showed up yet?”

“You can’t quite do it all by yourself, can you?” Sorin asked. “And when you do have help, you bolt the moment it gets tough and leave the rest behind.”

Jelka pounded her fist into the ground. “Shut up! You have no idea the kind of person I really am!”

“I think we can all see what kind of person you really are,” Sorin said.

“That’s right,” Mina said, “You’re nothing but a coward! Even Noa would say you’re pathetic!”

Noa stood at the doorway when he heard that. “Oh, thanks.”

“You are nothing without your group,” Mina continued. “A worthless villain that cannot win as long as there are heroes around!”

Jelka uttered a quiet laugh. “You think I’m worthless? I’ll show you what worthless truly is!”

She sprung up to her feet and threw her fist at Mina. Mina was quick enough to block, but Jelka continued with her attack. Sorin and Rain decided to just sheath their swords and help Mina out. They were able to restrain Jelka as she squirmed around in the hold of both Sorin and Rain.

“I cannot be worthless!” Jelka screamed. “I am not worthless! The Arne family is anything but worthless!”

“There you go again,” Sorin said.

“Now I’d like to know, too,” Rain said. “What happened to your family?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Jelka asked. “You should ask your father about what happened to the Arne family, princess!”

In that moment, Jelka shoved both Sorin and Rain back. With her body free, Jelka charged at Mina again. She picked up her sword off the ground and swung at Mina, who rolled out of the way as Jelka continued her pursuit. As Mina continued to avoid Jelka’s attack, Sorin interfered as he took out his sword in an instant and blocked the next attack.

Rain waved over at Mina. “Over here!”

Mina hurried over to Rain, who had her sword withdrawn. “She just doesn’t give up! What are we going to do?”

“Now Mina, it’s up to us heroes to deal with a villain as best we can,” Rain replied. “I have an idea. Take my hand.”

“Oh, uh, if you insist,” Mina said.

Mina put her hand on Rain’s as they both now had control of her sword. They then ran over to Jelka, who was busy dueling Sorin. As he deflected Jelka’s attack, Rain looked at Mina, who looked back and nodded.

“Raise the blade!” Mina exclaimed as she and Rain lifted the sword up in the air. “Now let’s bring it down, Rain!”

“Okay!”

With their unified strength, Mina and Rain swung the sword down at Jelka. She could only attempt to block the attack with her steel, but the massive impact was strong enough to break Jelka’s sword.

Jelka looked on in disbelief. “You can’t!”

With half of the sword falling to the ground, the other half still remained in Jelka’s hand as Mina and Rain stopped their sword right above her head. Sorin then lowered his own sword as Noa entered the room. With her defeat realized, Jelka fell to her knees.

“Well? You may as well kill me now,” Jelka said. “I’m nothing but a failure. I’ve failed to restore my family’s honor. If you want to put an end to my life, then just do it now!”

Sorin shook his head. “No, we’re not going to kill you,” he said. “As vile as your actions have been today, it’s not my job to decide whether you live or die.”

“You really believe that?” Jelka asked. “You almost sound like that warrior who would spare his enemies after defeating them in a battle.”

“Well, I’m not him,” Sorin said. “I’m just a guy who decided to help.”

“How humble,” Jelka replied. “To think that I’ve been bested by you three… it’s truly impossible to believe.”

“It must be a real shock to you, right?”

Law walked into the empty warehouse, followed closely by Gavin, Eva, and Ayanna. They saw Jelka there on the ground as Sorin turned to greet them all.

“I didn’t expect to see you guys here,” Sorin said. “What happened?”

“It’s a long story,” Gavin replied. “Let’s just say we’ve been tipped off to a kidnapping, so to speak.”

“So this is the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order,” Ayanna said. “I would say I’m surprised, but then again, from what I know, it’s just tragic things had to turn out this way, Miss Arne.”

Jelka scoffed. “Are you mocking me? Because you know nothing about what I’ve been through.”

“Wait, how do you know about her?” Sorin asked.

“There’s some secrets that only the Iiayikohnian government knows about,” Ayanna replied, “But that’s besides the point. You’ve got nowhere to run, Jelka Arne, because the Ahnlikohnian military are fast approaching this area.”

“Now tell us what you’ve done with Miss Roeik,” Law said. “We know that she’s in this town and that you’ve been keeping her captive.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jelka said.

“How sad,” Law replied. “Even when you’re down on knees, you continue to lie. Just so you know, I’m not one who falls for such lies.”

“Believe me or not, what I say is true,” Jelka said. “I have no clue of who this ‘Miss Roeik’ is.”

“I don’t think she’s lying, Law,” Rain said.

“Then was the note that I received false?” Ayanna asked. “I have trouble believing that someone would go out of their way to pull something like this, all for it to be a lie.”

“Perhaps we could ask around,” Eva said.

“Oh, you don’t need to do that. I know where she is.”

At the other end of the warehouse, in the opening of the other entrance, stood Crawford Bradley. He had his arms crossed and his back against the door frame as everyone turned their attention towards him.

“Excuse me?” Gavin asked. “What the hell is an Ameci soldier doing here?”

“Wait a minute,” Mina said. “Are you with those other jerks?”

“Other jerks? You’re going to have to be more specific,” Bradley said. “Then again, I don’t think I care for that attitude.”

Mina frowned. “You have a lot of nerve!”

“Anyway, I believe you were wondering about where Silvia Roeik is,” Bradley continued. “You should be thanking me that I’m willing to divulge this information to you, because if that man wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have even bothered.”

He pointed at Sorin, who could only stare back at him. There was an air about Bradley that Sorin could feel. It was an air that felt intimidating, almost as if Bradley was threatening him.

“What do you mean by that?” Rain asked. “What does Sorin have to do with this?”

“My friend currently has Silvia with him, and he’s perfectly willing to hand her over back to the Iiayikohnian government,” Bradley replied. “The only condition is that he wants to face Mr. Wilk before doing so.”

“He wants to face me?” Sorin asked. “What for?”

“Let’s just say he really admires you,” Bradley said. “He wouldn’t have bothered doing any of this unless he knew for certain that there was a chance that he could cross paths with you.”

“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Gavin said. “Why would Sorin even entertain such a stupid request?”

“Yeah, just give Silvia back, you jerk,” Mina said, “There’s no way Sorin would ever agree to do that!”

“Hold on, I don’t think I was speaking either of you,” Bradley said. “So why don’t the two of you shut the fuck up and let the man answer for himself?”

Gavin raised his fist. “Why don’t you just let me break your fucking face?”

“Don’t get too greedy, Gavin,” Mina said, “Because I want a piece of him, too!”

“Both of you need to calm down,” Law said. “Especially you, bro. Let’s just see what Sorin has to say first.”

“Finally someone gets it,” Bradley replied. “I knew that there were some sane voices in this group.”

“I believe that I said we should hear what he has to say, not you,” Law said. “It’d be best if you followed that, wouldn’t it?”

“You don’t waste a moment to snap back at me, do you?” Bradley asked.

As Ayanna apprehended Jelka, everyone else turned to Sorin. All eyes were on him now, because he had to make a choice. Should he accept the request? Would this person be able to keep their word? Was there another way? Those questions circled around in Sorin’s mind as he took a deep breath.

“Well, Sorin?” Eva asked. “Do you have an answer?”

“Whatever you choose, we’ll support it,” Rain said. “No matter what gets in our way, I know you’ll be there to help us overcome it!”

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Gavin said. “I’d rather take my time kicking this guy’s ass, but that would be a bad idea.”

“Anytime now,” Bradley said. “I think my friend’s quite bored waiting…”

“I’m still thinking,” Sorin replied. “How do I know you’re not just going to pull a fast one on us?”

“Come on, I’m an Ameci just like you,” he said. “Why would I have any reason to lie to my fellow countryman?”

“I don’t really trust him, Sorin,” Mina said, “But I trust you! Heroes constantly face tough decisions, but I know that you’ll do the right thing, no matter what that choice is!”

“If it helps us, then maybe you should do it,” Noa said. “I saw what you’re capable of, Sorin…”

“Where are they?” Sorin asked Bradley.

“So you’re going to do it?” Bradley asked. “I knew that you couldn’t resist the call of a good fight.”

“Just stop,” Sorin said. “Tell me where Silvia is and we’ll go and get her.”

“There’s an old church on the other end of the town,” Bradley said. “He’s waiting right there for you. Luckily for us, it’s closed right now so you should see him in the front with her.”

“Are you sure that we can trust him?” Mina asked.

“Looks likes there’s little choice in this,” Sorin replied. “If this happens to be a lie, I won’t hesitate to contact Henry Randolph.”

Bradley rolled his eyes. “Do what you want,” he said. “I’d suggest you make your move now; my friend gets quite impatient when he’s bored.”

“Okay, let’s get moving,” Sorin said. “Everyone, follow my lead.”

“I don’t think so,” Bradley replied. “A crowd this big is likely to attract attention. It’s only you he wants to see, after all.”

“The more I hear from you, the less I like what I’m hearing,” Ayanna said. “Why are you continuing to insist upon this duel? You’ve already found the escapee, why make a game of it?”

“Let’s just say that we want a little more than glory,” Bradley said. “You would know exactly why this woman is so important to your country, right? The last person to be seen with Alan Berry happened to be her, and we’re expecting quite a response.”

“If it’s money you’re after, I’m sure that we can arrange something,” Ayanna replied. “Still, I want to see for myself, so I’m going with Sorin whether you like it or not.”

“Fine, you can come along,” Bradley said. “I hate having to talk for too long, so let’s start wrapping it up so we can go.”

“If Ayanna’s going, then I’m going,” Gavin said.

Mina pounded her fist into her palm. “Count me in!”

“I trust you Sorin, but I also want to go with you,” Rain said. “I can’t exactly trust this man to hold his word, but as long as we’re together, we’ll be okay.”

“I don’t think he’s going to look kindly on us if we keep holding him up,” Law said. “Personally, I think it’s best if you guys go.”

“You’re coming, too,” Gavin said. “If this guy proves himself to be a liar, we both need to be on high alert.”

“Then I guess Eva’s going to take Jelka along,” Law replied. “That’s okay with you?”

Eva looked over to Jelka. “That won’t be a problem.”

“Looks like everything’s taken care of here, then,” Law said, “Which means that we’ll be heading off now.”

“Guess that’s just something I’m going to have to explain,” Bradley said. “Not like it’s something I’m worried about.”

“Then let’s go,” Sorin said. “Eva, once you and Noa are done dealing with her over there, head back over to the hotel.”

“The hotel?” Eva asked.

“I know where it is,” Noa said. “I suppose that it’s best that we head off soon before things get too messy around here… That goes for the rest of you, too!”

Noa and Eva then left with Jelka, who had already been handcuffed thanks to Ayanna. As there were no remaining obstacles, Sorin and the others followed Bradley to the old church. There they would find Silvia, as well as the man that wanted to challenge Sorin to a duel. Something was definitely off about this situation, that much Sorin knew, but he knew that there was not much he could do about it at this point.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 19 (Part 2)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Tranquil Cardinal Inn, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Mina arrived with Gale to the hotel and hurried inside where it would be safe from the attackers. There was no telling what could happen next, so they decided to stay inside for the time being. However, Mina walked around the lobby of the hotel as Gale looked out the window.

“I can’t just sit around and do nothing,” Mina said, “Rain and Sorin need my help out there!”

“They’re going to come back soon, okay,” Gale replied. “I think we’ll be fine here, although it looks like there’s an altercation going on outside.”

“What are you talking about?” Mina asked.

“Look out the window,” Gale said.

Mina looked outside of the window with Gale and saw two men ganging up on a couple of civilians. They wore Ameci military uniforms, but looked to be unarmed as the two surrounded the small civilians.

“Why would they be here, though?” Gale asked. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

She turned to her side to see Mina’s reaction, but she was already out the door and confronting the two Ameci soldiers. Both Lance and Erik stepped back in shock as Mina made her grand entrance.

“Stop right there!” Mina exclaimed, her fist pointed at Lance and Erik. “I don’t know who you are, but I’m not going to stand around and watch innocent people get harassed!”

Erik laughed. “Oh, it’s nothing, really,” he said. “Just us two trying to keep the peace as we try and figure out what the hell is happening.”

“Right, right, we’re just making sure people aren’t going around causing trouble,” Lance said. “All in a day’s work, wouldn’t you agree, missie?”

“If that’s true, then why aren’t you trying to stop the terrorists?” Mina asked. “Anybody with a strong sense of justice wouldn’t just let that slide!”

“Oh, there was an attack here, wasn’t there,” Erik said. “Funny how that stuff happens here of all places, right?”

“It’s very suspicious,” Lance said. “Don’t worry, we’re going to handle everything from here.”

“I don’t believe you,” Mina said. “Nobody would go out of their way to bully people who don’t deserve it! Go on, both of you!”

The two civilians rushed off as Erik shrugged. He looked over to Lance, who stared at Mina with wide eyes.

“Okay, I didn’t want to do this, but you leave me no choice,” Lance said.

He lunged at Mina, who did not move an inch as she caught him by his arm. She bent his arm behind his back, which caused him to scream out in pain. Lance could not move from his spot as Mina then turned around and threw him to the ground.

“You idiot!” Erik exclaimed. “Get up!”

Lance tried to get back up to his feet. “I don’t know if I can take her…”

“Let me say this to you so you don’t forget it: my name is Mighty Mina, and I’m every villain’s worst nightmare,” Mina said, “And today you chose the wrong day to mess with this town!”

She rushed ahead and delivered a spinning kick to Lance. Her foot came in contact with his head and knocked him out cold as he dropped to the ground once more. Mina stood still, her focus turned to Erik as she entered her stance.

“Okay, okay, I get it,” Erik said as he knelt by Lance’s unconscious body. “My friend just happened to be fucking idiot, that’s all!”

“You’re just as bad as him,” Mina said.

“I’m not going to pick a fight with you,” Erik replied. “Not while I’m unarmed, anyway. That would be stupid.”

He picked Lance up and carried him away by the shoulder. Mina let down her fists and hurried back inside the hotel where Gale waited.

“That could have gone very badly, you know,” Gale said.

“They’re just a couple of jerks,” Mina replied. “Why would they even go out of their way to do that?”

Gale shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “It’s a good thing they didn’t have any guns on them.”

“Oh, I could’ve just taken care of them even if they were armed!” Mina said. “Law taught me how to do that a while ago.”

“He’s just really lucky,” Gale said. “Reckless, too.”

“Well, yeah, that’s why he’s Lucky Law,” Mina replied.

“But you can’t just assume you’d be able to take someone’s weapon away from them like that,” Gale said. “You’re just asking to get shot!”

“You don’t think I can do it?” Mina asked.

“I just want you to think practically,” Gale answered. “You’re the hero of Rezar, after all. It wouldn’t be good for its citizens if something were to happen to their hero, would it?”

“Maybe you’re right,” Mina said. “Oh, maybe I can ask Gavin for some advice! He’d probably be able to teach me a thing or two!”

“That would be a good idea.”

“Well, I’ll definitely try to remember that for when we meet the others again,” Mina said. “But now I’ve got to go help Rain and Sorin out! Just stay here until I get back with them, okay?”

Gale reached out her hand. “Mina, wait!”

Her protest was too late, however, as Mina burst out of the door again. Gale had no idea what was in store for Mina, although all she could do was hope that Mina would be safe. Gale decided to just sit and wait for the others to come back to the hotel, one way or another.

“Just stay safe,” she said. “Please, be safe.”

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Winged Eagle District, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Sorin went through the rest of the open district while Rain had his back. Noa still resided up on the rooftops as he struggled to keep up. There was no one around, at least not in Sorin’s immediate view. The faint sound of sirens echoed into Sorin’s ears as he kept his guard up.

“Noa, do you see anyone from up there?” Sorin asked.

“It’s been pretty quiet,” Noa replied. “You two really showed those other guys, though!”

Sorin and Rain had dealt with some more members of the Neu Thekohnian Order with swift and precise swordwork while Noa took care of taking down any other immediate threats. Noa, though, only had to deal with two men who had come through, which Sorin was thankful for. He had to think that Noa had to be fortunate that he did not have to do more shooting, given his scared reactions along the way.

“Well, it seems like the Ahnlikohnian officers are getting closer,” Sorin said. “If there’s no one else around, then I think it’s okay to head back to the hotel.”

“Then it’s settled,” Rain said as she withdrew her sword. “Let’s head back and reunite with Mina and Gale.”

Sorin withdrew his blade as well. “Alright, let’s go.”

Both Sorin and Rain were ready to make their back to the hotel, but were stopped thanks in part to Noa’s outburst.

“I see another!” Noa exclaimed. “Oh no, I think she noticed me! She’s running off now!”

“Is she part of the Neu Thekohnian Order?” Sorin asked.

“Y-Yes! She’s wearing dark red like the others,” Noa answered. “She went into an alley close by.”

Sorin had an idea of who it might be. “Just tell us where she went,” he said, “And make sure you back us up!”

“Okay, I’ll do that,” Noa said. “Just so you guys know, she had long, dark hair and was carrying a sword.”

“Got it,” Sorin said.

“Let us go and confront her, then,” Rain said. “If we can manage to catch up to her, then we can prevent her from escaping.”

Sorin nodded. “Good with me.”

“Wait up, guys!”

Before Sorin and Rain could proceed, they turned and saw Mina running towards them. She came to a complete stop in front of the two as she spent a moment to catch her breath. Sorin looked to Rain, then looked to Mina.

“What’s going on?” Sorin asked. “What happened to Gale?”

“Don’t worry,” Mina said, “She’s safe at the hotel. I beat up a guy who was causing trouble and decided to help you out!”

“Thank goodness she’s safe,” Sorin said. “Are you sure about helping us?”

Mina clenched her fists as she stomped her foot into the ground. “Of course I’m sure,” she replied. “I’ve never been more sure about anything in my entire life! What kind of hero… No, what kind of friend would I be if I just sat back and did nothing while you guys fought these villains all alone?”

Rain snickered. “The heroism that you wear on your sleeve does not go unnoticed,” she said. “There’s no use trying to contain it, so I see no problem with you tagging along.”

“Let’s do this, then,” Mina said. “Noa, do you hear me? I’m calling out for you right now! Where did this woman go?”

“Um, she just went inside what looks to be a large building,” Noa replied. “I’m just really glad we’re on the same side…”

Mina thrust her fist forward. “Then let’s not stand by any further!”

Sorin agreed and the three headed off in thanks to Noa’s directions. Down the empty alleyway they could see a closed wooden door framed with steel. Rain attempted to turn the knob, but found the door locked. Meanwhile, Sorin kept an eye to the entrance of the alley to make sure that he could catch any sort of ambush. A man then appeared in the entrance to the alley, which caused Sorin to reach for his sword.

“No, wait!” Noa lowered his rifle as Sorin relaxed his hand. “I just wanted to help from a closer range, so I’ll keep lookout from here.”

“It seems that we’ve reached a blockade, however,” Rain said. “Not much we can do here, if I’m being honest.”

“Allow me,” Mina said as she stepped forward. “I’ve come a long way from punching holes into doors; now’s the time where I break the whole thing down!”

“Careful, Mina,” Rain said. “Who knows what will be behind that door?”

“We won’t know until we find out,” Mina replied. “As I’ve said before: when one door closes, you just have to bust it right open! Step aside, Rain!”

Rain could only step to the side as Mina put her right foot forward and closed her eyes. As she took a deep breath, Mina’s eyes shot open and she charged at the door.

“Here it comes!”

Mina used all of her strength as she thrust her fist into the door. The impact was powerful enough to knock the door clean off its hinges and sent it flying forward. With the locked door no longer an obstacle, Rain and Sorin entered the building alongside Mina.

“I’m learning so much about you,” Rain said. “What else do you have packed away inside you?”

Mina giggled as she flexed her arm. “It’s just tons of training,” she said. “These muscles of mine are pretty strong! You can see for yourself if you want!”

“I would love to, but we’ve got another problem to worry about,” Rain replied. “She’s right over there, Sorin.”

At the other end of the large room stood Jelka, who already had her sword taken out. She then closed her eyes as she pointed her blade at the three. Sorin withdrew his sword, as did Rain, while Mina backed them up.

“I knew that you would come here,” Jelka said. “What a foolish belief you must have. Sorin, was it? I have not forgotten our last duel.”

“You know her?” Mina asked.

“It’s not what I’d call a friendly encounter,” he replied as he turned his sights to Jelka. “I can’t forgive you for what you’ve done here!”

Jelka smirked. “Are you that weak that you called for help? Well, it doesn’t matter to me, because I’m going to crush you all the same.”

“None of us are weak,” Mina said. “We’re all strong! Strong heroes that will take you and your villainous ways down!”

“Let me ask you something,” Rain said. “What was the purpose of attacking this town? Why go through all of the trouble?”

“Clearly you have no idea,” Jelka replied. “I expect as much from a member of the Royal Family of Thekohn. What a pathetic display of this so called ‘heroism’ you have.”

“You’ve spoken quite enough,” Sorin said. “Let’s just get this over with.”

“If it’s a fight you want, then it’s a fight you’ll get,” Jelka said. “I don’t want to waste any time, so I’ve got some of my team heading here as we speak. That doesn’t matter though, because I will defeat all of you, including that sniper back there!”

Sorin and Rain stood ready, swords out and in anticipation of the opening attack as Jelka charged at them. The battle had just begun, but unknownst to any of them, another opponent was fast approaching. Still, Sorin knew they had to deal with the mastermind of the attack, and she was right there, fighting against him, Mina and Rain.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; West Gate Entrance, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Ayanna and the others had just pulled up into the town of Helm and discovered for themselves what happened. Though most of the chaos was under control thanks to the Ahnlikohnian officers, there was still the presence that an attack had taken place earlier.

“What is going on?” Law asked.

“This can’t be good,” Ayanna said. “Hold on, I’m going to have to ask one of these officers.”

Ayanna parked the car to the side of the curb and got out. She found an officer close by and proceeded to ask him.

“I’m sorry, but the main plaza is on lockdown,” he said.

“What’s happening?” Ayanna asked.

“I can’t exactly reveal that information,” he replied. “Sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to head to the hotel.”

Law stepped out of the car and walked up to the officer. “Is there some sort of problem?”

“Sir, I can’t have you or her just wandering around while we’re dealing with the Neu Thekohnian Order,” the officer said.

“So it’s that kind of ordeal, is it?” Law asked. “Bro, come over here.”

Gavin sighed as he got out of the car. “What is it?”

“Seems like we’ve got an NTO problem on our hands,” Law said. “Just as I thought. So, officer, we’re here on behalf of the Iiayikohnian military; in fact, she happens to be a member.”

“I can’t let you through,” the officer replied. “It’s not my call, but it is something I will enforce.”

“Are you sure?” Eva asked.

“I don’t care who you are, so long as you’re not with the True Thekohnians, Neu Thekohnian Order, or whatever sort of terrorist organization,” the officer said. “All I’m telling you is to head to the hotel for now, as that is our designated safe zone.”

“What a disappointment,” Law said. “Oh well, it’s not like there’s anything we can do about it whatsoever. Let’s just go, everyone.”

As he walked away from the officer, Ayanna, Eva, and Gavin joined up with him as they headed towards the hotel.

“What are we supposed to do about finding Silvia?” Eva asked.

“I think I’ve got an idea of how we can get around the blockade,” Law said. “Just follow my lead.”

“What the fuck is your lead?” Gavin asked.

“You’ll see,” Law answered.

As they reached the hotel, Law looked around to see any officers around the area. There was one on the other side of the street, though he faced away from the entrance to the hotel. Law motioned over to the other three as he turned into the alleyway by the hotel and made a break for the plaza.

Gavin was bewildered. “What in the hell…?”

“Looks like we’ve got no other choice,” Ayanna said. “Might as well follow him; we might just stumble upon something after all.”

“You’re starting to sound like him,” Gavin said.

“Just go already,” Eva said.

“Fine,” Gavin replied.

They hurried after Law, who led the way to the plaza thanks to the route he took in the alleyways. He had that determination to find Silvia, wherever she may be, because he was not about to let Ayanna down. Law wanted to do his best to ensure that Ayanna would receive the recognition needed to help get her position in the military back. This would be the way to do it, he thought.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 19 (Part 1)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; West Gate Entrance, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

As Korbin and his gang pulled up to the entrance to the town, they could hear the explosions from afar. Bradley stopped the truck and turned over to Korbin, who was smiling as he reached for his gun.

“Looks like they’ve been hit,” he said. “Finally, some excitement!”

“Think it’s the Neu Thekohnian Order behind this?” Bradley asked.

Korbin loaded his gun. “If it means getting some target practice, I sure hope so,” he replied. “This is going to be so fucking cool!”

“I’ll tell them to get ready, then,” Bradley said.

“Oh, get the other thing, too,” Korbin said. “No telling if we’ll be running into them today, but if we do, then I want a piece of him. I want to see how strong he truly is.”

“Very well,” Bradley replied. “I’m sure Lance put a good amount of time into polishing it, so it should be fine.”

“Good, good,” Korbin said as he opened the truck door. “Let’s get ready to roll out! If you happen to see those crimson uniforms, shoot away!”

He hopped out of the truck and ran into the town as Bradley got out and headed to the back. Lance and Erik were busy watching over Silvia as Bradley opened the back door and set his sight on the one thing that Korbin was talking about. Bradley had heard from Korbin about his intentions and had a clue about what he wanted to gain from facing this man he spoke of, but was not sure that they would be able to meet here. Still, Bradley complied with his friend’s request and went into the back of the truck.

 

*****

 

Inside the shopping district, Sorin and Rain looked around to see where Noa ran off to, but they could not find any trace of him. That was when Sorin saw a couple of men in crimson uniforms, who belonged to a group that he was well familiar with, and turned to Rain.

“You’re okay with this?” Sorin asked. “I don’t want to end up having to deal with one of my friends getting hurt.”

“Please don’t worry yourself,” Rain said. “I’m capable of handling whatever may come our way, that much I will assure you.”

“Then let’s not waste any more time,” Sorin said.

With no time to spare, they headed into the plaza where many of the people had already cleared out. The two members of the Neu Thekohnian Order stood around as Sorin drew his sword.

“Tell me: have you seen a man in a Maeitakohnian military uniform pass by?” Sorin asked. “You’ve got ten seconds to answer.”

Rain waited to the side of Sorin, her sword still sheathed. “These must be the ones behind the attack,” she said.

The first man took out a short sword. “What’s it to you two?”

As he charged at Sorin, the other man drew his blade and decided to attack Rain. As Sorin anticipated the oncoming assault, he turned his sword sideways and thrusted forward to block the attack. Meanwhile, Rain watched as the other man sprinted towards her and kept her hand close to the hilt of her sword.

“Take this!”

The attacker thrust his sword forward, but Rain turned and dodged to the left as the second man passed her. In the next moment, Rain unsheathed her sword and swung at him and scored a successful hit on him, her blade making contact with his wrist. The sudden slice caused him to drop his sword and cover his wound. Rain lowered her sword as she stared the second man in the eyes.

“Who are you!?”

On the other end, Sorin deflected attack after attack until his assailant paused to catch his breath. His opponent’s guard lowered, Sorin struck swiftly and slashed the opposing man’s arm. Though his opponent did not drop his weapon, Sorin continued his attack as he ducked and dodged to the side. From there, Sorin caught the first man off guard and swung his sword again. Mere inches separated the blade of Sorin’s sword from the first man’s neck as it hung in the air above him.

“It seems you’ve made a big mistake,” Sorin said. “I’ll ask you again: have you seen a man in a Maeitakohnian military uniform?”

The first man looked to the second. “Shit, we need to run!”

The second man attempted to cover his wound. “They’re stronger than I thought,” he said. “The boss is going to be mad at us this time!”

They took their swords and proceeded to make their exit. However, a gunshot rang out as the first man was struck in the back of his neck by a bullet. The second man looked around as the next gunshot boomed and the following bullet hit him in the head. Both men fell to the ground as Sorin and Rain looked on in shock.

“You two!” Noa exclaimed. “Sorin! Your Highness! I’m sorry!”

“Noa, is that you?” Sorin asked. “You did that?”

“They were attacking you, so I decided to step in,” he replied. “Looks like I was useful after all!”

Rain withdrew her sword. “Where are you?”

“I’m up on the rooftop!” Noa said. “I could see some more of those guys up ahead. It’s probably a good idea to go now!”

“That’s true,” Sorin said. “We were only supposed to find you, after all.”

“No, we shouldn’t let this happen,” Rain replied. “I can’t stand to see this kind of misdeed acted out on innocent people. We have to help.”

Sorin understood as he took a deep breath and exhaled. “I know,” he said. “My father wouldn’t have just left all of these defenseless people to fend for themselves.”

“Then you know what we have to do,” Rain said. “Noa, can you hear us?”

“I can, but is this such a good idea?” Noa asked. “Surely the officers are doing their best to secure the area!”

“You have a good view of the area, do you not?” Rain asked. “Sorin and I trust that you can provide backup should we need it, right?”

“And we have reason to believe that the Neu Thekohnian Order is running around through the area, causing more trouble,” Sorin said. “As long as you’re up there, I’m sure you’ll be able to pick them off.”

“Then I’ll do my best,” Noa said.

“We’re counting you,” Sorin replied. “Let’s not waste any more time!”

And with that, the three of them set off. Noa took to the rooftops as Sorin and Rain ran through the plaza in pursuit of the Neu Thekohnian Order. They could not have gotten too far, Sorin thought, as he was certain that they’d be able to confront the leader of the group. They just had to find her, that was all.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; on the road to Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Ayanna informed the other three of what had happened on the way to the town of Helm. Just moments after they caught the two people responsible for Alan’s assassination, Gavin, Law, and Eva traveled with Ayanna in order to find Silvia Roeik, who was being held captive by the Neu Thekohnian Order. At least, that was the information that Ayanna was tipped off to for her to set up the drive to Ahnlikohn. As she drove the car, the other three rode alongside her, with Law in the passenger seat and Gavin and Eva in the back.

“I just don’t understand,” Gavin said. “What do the Neu Thekohnian Order look to gain from holding this woman hostage?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out, Gavin,” Ayanna replied. “Still, we’d rather not let them have any advantage. That’s why this is important for us.”

“But why Helm of all places?” Eva asked.

“Well, they did originate in in the nation of Ahnlikohn itself, so it would make sense for them to hide there,” Ayanna said.

“That does seem to be the obvious answer, doesn’t it,” Law said. “Just think: a terrorist group giving away their location all for one hostage. Why go through all the trouble?”

“You’ve got an idea,” Gavin said. “I see what you’re saying, then.”

“Right, we have to consider that this could all be a set-up,” Law replied. He looked over to Ayanna. “Surely you’d think the same thing, wouldn’t you?”

Ayanna sighed. “Let’s just see for ourselves,” she said. “There are very few leads we have, anyway.”

“You’ve got that right,” Eva said.

“I want to ask you three something,” Ayanna said, “How did you find out that the prince was the assassin? To think I had spoken with him earlier, not knowing what he did…”

“Something didn’t seem right to me,” Law replied. “He said some things to us that he should have had no idea about, and that was what led me to believe that he had some part in the prime minister’s death.”

“Though he was being blackmailed, it was still his doing,” Gavin added. “Can’t say I really have any sympathy for him, though.”

“In fact, Prince Ahnle mentioned the Neu Thekohnian Order specifically,” Law said. “Think it’s too late to turn back and ask him if he knows anything about Silvia’s disappearance?”

“Of course it’s too late,” Ayanna answered. “We’re less than an hour to Helm. What would you want to ask him about, anyway?”

“Wasn’t Silvia the one who was last seen with Alan?” Law asked. “He might have a clue as to how she got out, or maybe that was part of his plan, too.”

“The report I had received was that someone had broken into the prison by pretending to be a visitor,” Ayanna said. “As for Silvia’s escape, that’s an answer that I intend on getting from her directly.”

“I’d like to hear from her, too,” Law said. “Seems we’ve got a similar goal in mind, my dear.”

“Just don’t go getting your hopes up,” Ayanna replied.

“It’s nothing too extravagant,” Law replied.

“I’m sure,” Ayanna said.

“Say, what about a reward?” Law asked. “We found the assassins, don’t you think we should receive some sort of honors? Maybe a medal or something?”

“That can be discussed with the general and the prime minister,” she replied. “They’ll be sure to give you the highest of honors, I assume.”

Law grinned. “You think they’d throw a parade for us?”

“You’re pushing it,” Ayanna said.

“What about you, bro?”

Gavin crossed his arms and closed his eyes. “You really want to know what I think? I’m in,” he said. “I would expect no less than a hero’s welcome once we got back to Rezar.”

“You two think so highly of yourselves,” Eva said. “Though I will say it’s a lot better than the attitude that prince gave to me.”

“Don’t even fucking think about comparing me to that asshole,” Gavin replied. “I’m the one who exposed his crime and cornered his ass.”

“I meant that as a compliment,” Eva replied. “I’m certain that Alan would have appreciated what you and Law did.”

“Anyway, we should stay focused,” Ayanna said. “Fortunately I’m armed, as I’m sure that Gavin and Eva are, too. I can’t say the same about you, though.”

“Oh come on,” Law said, “You know I fare much better unarmed, so long as I have luck on my side.”

“You can’t just continue to rely on such a fickle thing,” Eva said. “It might have worked out earlier against the prince, but what will happen if you run into a much more capable opponent?”

“I guess we will have to see,” Law answered. “All I know is that I’ve relied heavily on my luck and it has yet to fail me.”

“That’s such a stubborn thing to say,” Ayanna said, “Though I suppose that’s one of the things I like about you.”

“Only one of the things?” Law asked.

“Just try to not to get distracted,” Ayanna replied. “There’s always time later after we’re done here.”

“Glad to be reassured,” Law said.

He leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes as Ayanna continued to drive. Time continued to pass as the silence started to become too overbearing, which caused Eva to speak up.

“I wonder if the others are doing okay,” Eva said.

“Don’t worry about them too much,” Law said. “I think Sorin’s capable enough to lead them through.”

“Wouldn’t doubt him, honestly,” Gavin said.

“That’s true, I guess,” Eva replied.

“We’ll meet with them again soon,” Ayanna said, “So we don’t need to worry about them.”

“Just wanted to know if they were doing okay,” Eva said. “I suppose I’ll just have to find out later, then.”

Little time passed as they continued towards their destination. One thing that Eva was certain of, though, was that the person who had ordered Alan’s assassination was still out there. That was the man who wanted Alan dead, for whatever reason, and Eva wanted to deal with them personally. She wanted to make things right for Alan for all the good he had done. That was why Eva could not give up, not at this point.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 18 (Part 2)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; on the road to Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Korbin rapped his fingers on the dashboard of the truck while Bradley drove the Blood Ravens to Helm. In the back of the truck, Erik and Lance kept a close eye on Silvia, who still could not move as she remained tied up and gagged. With little to interfere, Korbin could see the edge of town begin to appear in the distance.

“You have any plans once we’re in?” Bradley asked.

“Nah, just want to get this convict before they get too far from me,” Korbin replied. “Plus, we’ve got a catch of our own to use! Not a bad situation we’re in right now, don’t you think?”

“There’s no way I’m going to doubt that brilliant mind of yours,” Bradley said. “I’m just glad you got me as your second-in-command, Korb.”

“Don’t get too full of yourself,” Korbin said. “Our plan hasn’t come completely to fruition yet. We’ve got a little bit more to go until everything falls our way!”

Bradley chuckled. “You’re very humble.”

“That’s just the kind of person I really am,” Korbin said, “Humble with a brilliant mind. Even my father would say the same thing, and he’s most brilliant of all Ameci!”

“Your father and mine both,” Bradley said. “Say, how do you think they’re handling our little hostage back there?”

“Hopefully they’ve taken a few cues from me,” Korbin replied. “We’ve only got so little time before they send someone to pick her up, so they ought to just make it as fun as they possibly can!”

“Certainly can’t let these strays just roam around,” Bradley said. “Maybe we should just do the deed already and avoid the trouble.”

“You just don’t get it, do you?” Korbin asked. “It’s not whether or not she lives or dies, it’s the thrill of not knowing! Am I going to pull my gun or my knife?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at Lance,” Korbin said. “I could kill him right now if I felt like it, but I won’t. And do you want to know why?”

“Why?”

“Well, I don’t really know,” he answered. “Fuck, maybe I should just kill him before he gets the chance to screw up. Just kidding!”

He erupted into laughter while Bradley continued to drive. Helm was still off in the distance, so the time felt like it did not move. Yet, Korbin was sure that he was going to get his wish. He had the certainty that Helm would bring him that excitement that he desired.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Open Area Shopping District, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

It was a good day outside as Sorin checked out the shopping district with the others. He held Gale’s hand as the two looked inside one of the local antique shops while Rain and Mina had set off for the candy shop next door. Noa, meanwhile, had decided to just tag along with Sorin and Gale, though he did keep some distance from them as he looked around. Sorin watched as Noa eyed a silver-framed wooden box on the shelf and decided to pay him some attention.

“Hey, that box you’re looking at… What about it?” Sorin asked.

“Nothing!” Noa replied. “It’s nothing at all!”

“I was just curious,” Sorin said. “Not a real reason to be all defensive about it. Wait, what’s this?”

He reached for the box and picked it up. On the bottom of the box was an engraving, though due to its age it was hard to make out the name. Noa, in a rush, snatched the box out of Sorin’s hand and placed it back on the shelf.

“It’s just… my father had a similar box in his room,” Noa said. “It was always locked and he told me and my sister never to open it.”

“I had no idea,” Sorin said.

Noa shook his head. “Sorry, it’s still so hard to talk about them,” he replied. “I wasn’t expecting to have my past come back to me again. Not after I told you all my story.”

“Well, I understand now.”

“That’s good,” Noa said. “Say, mind if I ask you something?”

“Go ahead.”

“About Gale… how did you two meet?”

“My father introduced her to me,” Sorin answered. “We travelled together for a while and one thing led to another and now we’re as you see us.”

“Does that mean you’ve, er… you’ve seen each other in the nude?” Noa asked. “Like up close and all that stuff?”

“That’s an extremely personal question!” Sorin said.

“Damn it, I’m so sorry!” Noa exclaimed. “My idiot mind just went off in a perverted direction! Damn it, damn it, damn it!”

“You really need to have some restraint on what you say,” Sorin said.

“Sorry!”

“Why do you ask about Gale and I anyway?” Sorin asked.

“It’s just that I’ve never, you know, had much of an interaction with the opposite sex,” Noa replied. “I just sort of clam up and feel a massive amount of unease in my stomach. How do you do it?”

“Do it? It’s not that hard, Noa,” Sorin said. “Just try not to overthink things too much. I’m sure you’ll be okay if you do that.”

“That sounds so difficult, though,” Noa said. “I mean, if I were to go up and try to talk to Gale, I would be worried about trying to offend her and looking like an ass because of it.”

Sorin sighed. “Let’s go.”

He dragged Noa over to the part of the shop where Gale stood. She was looking at a pile of used parts and mechanisms as Sorin led Noa to her.

Gale turned around. “Oh, hey.”

Sorin smiled. “Hi,” he said. “Noa wanted to talk to you about something.”

“He does?” Gale asked.

Noa gasped. “I… I do?”

Sorin leaned in and whispered into Noa’s ear. “Just say something,” he said, “But not exactly whatever’s on your mind.”

“But how?” Noa asked.

“I just told you,” Sorin said.

“Okay,” Noa said.

“What do you want to say to me?” Gale asked.

“Well, you see, it’s about your glasses,” Noa said. “They’re… they’re really nice, aren’t they?”

“I need them to see,” she said.

“Of… of course!” Noa replied as he laughed nervously.

“Say, Noa, what were you talking about with me earlier?” Sorin asked. “I think you said something about wanting to know about Gale’s blueprints?”

“Did you tell him that?” Gale asked Sorin.

“I only mentioned it briefly,” Sorin replied. “He really found it interesting and wanted to talk with you about them.”

“Oh, well, I guess I could share a little bit with him,” she said.

As Gale explained her blueprints and ideas with Noa, Sorin wondered how Mina and Rain were doing next door. The two women looked around, with Mina eyeing the various candies that were on display while Rain spoke with the owner of the shop.

“These candies are so colorful!” Mina exclaimed. “Rain, look!”

“Hold on,” Rain said. “So you’re telling me that this is a new type of candy?”

The older owner laughed. “Well, not exactly,” he said. “It’s just a little twist on our trademark chocolate bars. Here, I can provide you a small sample, Your Highness.”

“No, it’s okay,” Rain said. “I was just going to tell my sister about this place later…”

She trailed off as the owner turned to the counter and reached for the wrapped piece of chocolate. The owner then held his hand out, candy in hand, as Rain accepted it. Though it was a free sample, Rain did not possess an affinity for sweets whatsoever. An idea then crossed Rain’s mind as she turned her focus over towards Mina and hurried over to her.

“Here, try this,” Rain said as she handed the candy over to Mina. “It’s supposed to be a twist on this shop’s trademark chocolate!”

“Really?” Mina asked. “Okay then!”

She proceeded to pop the small piece of chocolate into her mouth and eat it. Rain could only smile as she watched Mina’s expression make a change from skepticism to pure enjoyment of what she was eating. To see her friend enjoy such a thing really did bring Rain happiness as Mina finished eating.

“That was really good!” Mina said. “You sure you didn’t want it?”

“No, it’s fine,” Rain replied. “I just thought you would like it.”

“I did,” Mina said, “But how did you know I would like it?”

“Because I had a feeling.”

Mina grinned. “Are you a mind reader? Ooh, maybe you should give Sorin something you’d think he would want!”

“No, that’s all I had,” Rain said, “And besides, it’s only natural to share things with people you really like, right?”

“I guess so!”

Rain sighed. “Though I suppose we’re going to have to keep moving,” she said. “If only we had more time to ourselves, then maybe I’d get the chance.”

“Did you say something?” Mina asked.

“I’m just thinking out loud,” Rain answered. “Let’s just go see what the others are doing.”

“That’s good with me,” Mina said as they began to walk. “Say, Rain, can I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything,” she said, “I don’t mind answering your questions at all.”

“Do you have anyone you love? Like there’s someone you just can’t stop thinking about?”

“I, well… I guess you could say so,” Rain said.

“So do you get to see them often?” Mina asked.

“I’ve seen them many times already,” she replied. “I think you’d really like them if you met them.”

“Oh wow, then they must be really strong or something!” Mina exclaimed. “I really hope that you’re right!”

“Well, we’re here,” Rain said as they set foot into the antique shop. “Sorin, Gale! We’re back!”

Sorin and Gale were busy looking at an old radio as both Rain and Mina approached them. Noa was standing in the left-most corner of the shop as he gripped the bag on his back closer to himself.

“Hey Rain, Mina,” Sorin said. “We’re just taking one last look around.”

“I see that,” Rain said. “Did Noa do something? Why is he by himself?”

“He’s just off in his own world right now,” Gale said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want that to come off as mean, but he’s just kind of overwhelming right now.”

“Surely he hasn’t been getting too up close, has he?” Rain asked.

“He’s just too nervous,” Sorin said. “Better to just give him some space while he tries to recover.”

“So I shouldn’t try to surprise him with a grapple from behind?” Mina asked. “Maybe he just needs a jolt to his system!”

“That sounds like the last thing he needs now,” Gale replied.

At that moment, a loud explosion rang out from the distance. Everyone became silent as screams soon followed, with another explosion coming after. Sorin looked around as he decided what to do next.

“We need to get out of here,” Sorin said. “Noa, do you hear me?”

He could not find Noa, however, as he was nowhere to be found within the antique shop.

“I’m concerned that he’s going to end up in danger,” Rain said. “We have to find him!”

“Damn it,” Sorin said. “Okay, then our next course of action is to find Noa and get of here. Mina, I want you to take of Gale.”

“Sorin, are you sure about this?” Gale asked.

“That explosion cannot mean anything good,” he replied. “Both Rain and I are armed, while Mina is strong enough to guard you on the way to the hotel.”

“Are you sure the hotel is safe enough?” Rain asked. “Whoever’s attacking might go there next.”

“It’s not our shelter, it’s our rendezvous,” Sorin said. “Once we find Noa, we’ll meet back you two over there.”

“I understand,” Mina said. “If I see any villains try to attack, I’ll pummel them as hard as I can!”

“Just don’t get reckless,” Rain said.

“I’ll see you again, Gale,” Sorin said. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Gale replied. “Please don’t get hurt… either of you.”

“We’ll be okay,” Rain said. “Shall we, Sorin?”

Sorin nodded. “We’ll see you later!”

“Alright then!” Mina replied.

Mina took Gale along with her. With the group split, Sorin and Rain hurried to the middle of the shopping district as they attempted to find Noa. He could not have gotten too far from the shop, Sorin thought to himself. Whatever unknown attackers awaited them had to dealt with somehow, but Sorin had his suspicions about who caused the explosions and he had a bad feeling that he might be right.

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 18 (Part 1)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Tranquil Cardinal Inn, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Early in the morning, Sorin and Gale woke up to the sound of someone knocking on the door to their hotel room. Sorin hopped out of bed and to the door while Gale tried to get ready. Opening the door, Sorin found himself face to face with one of the Iiayikohnian officers that had been tasked with coming to Helm.

“There you are,” the officer said, “Victor Wihll, you’re under arrest!”

“No, no, no, you’ve got that wrong!” Sorin replied. “Do I even look like Wihll to you?”

The officer took a look at his notes. “I was told that the escaped convict was staying here,” he said. “Am I to believe that we were misinformed?”

“No, not at all,” Sorin said. “We just had to make sure that he wouldn’t run off, so a Maeitakohnian soldier is watching over him in the room next door.”

“And you’re okay with trusting a soldier of the Maeitakohnian military?” The officer looked aside to the other room. “I suppose that I will have to see for myself.”

“Let me go with you,” Sorin said.

Sorin rushed over to Noa’s room with the officer and watched as the man knocked on the door. A few seconds later, Noa opened up and almost jumped in shock as he shrieked.

The officer pulled out his gun and pointed it at Noa. “So you’re the Victor Wihll that’s been on the run!”

“Please, you’ve got it all wrong!” Noa exclaimed as he put his hands up. “I’m just a simple soldier, not some wanted man!”

“Officer, if you would look behind him,” Sorin said.

Victor Wihll sat in the corner as if he had not moved at all the entire night. Noa moved aside as the officer walked inside with his gun trained on Wihll.

“If you’re going to shoot, do it now,” Wihll said.

“You’re coming with me,” the officer replied. “Stand up and put your hands behind your head.”

 

Downstairs, Sorin and Noa reunited with Gale, Rain, and Mina as they decided what they should do next. With Wihll out of the way, the path to Oelaans was made much easier. Still, Sorin had some concerns.

“I wonder if it’s really okay to go,” he said.

“What’s on your mind?” Gale asked.

“We haven’t heard at all from Ayanna,” Sorin said. “I’m wondering if they’ve gotten any closer to finding the assassin.”

“That was also on my mind as well,” Rain said.

“You guys don’t need to worry about that!” Mina replied. “I’m pretty sure they’ve already found the assassin and brought them to justice!”

“Still, it wouldn’t hurt to find out what’s been going on since we left,” Sorin said. “I feel like I should go make the call.”

“No, you don’t have to do that,” Rain said. “I have a hunch that Mina may be right about this.”

“But it’s… it’s not like there’s any reason why she might be right,” Noa said.

Rain smiled. “Well, when she says it with such conviction, it makes me believe as well,” she said. “I can’t say for certain, but it’s good to believe in your friends, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” Noa replied. “I guess it’s not worth it to argue with you, though…”

“Noa, tell me,” Sorin said, “Do you still want to go with us?”

Noa frowned. “Why do you ask?”

“If you want to go back, that’s fine,” Sorin replied. “None of us would stop you; however, I believe that you have something to prove.”

“I have something to prove?” Noa asked. “I’m kind of afraid to ask what you’re talking about.”

“We heard you out yesterday,” Sorin said. “I don’t even know what the right words to say are, but you did survive for your family’s sake.”

“It was only because of what I was told,” Noa said. “Running away and hiding from danger has gotten me this far. Why are you bringing this up now, all of a sudden?”

“Just genuine curiosity,” Sorin answered.

“I know it’s probably not much, coming from me, but I am deeply sorry for what happened to your family and the man that took care of you,” Rain said. “What Sorin’s trying to say is that you don’t have to embark on this journey with us, or at least the door is open if you so choose.”

Noa clenched his fists as he looked down. “I could do that,” he said, “But is that what you want me to do? Am I just useless overall?”

“No, that’s not what any of us are implying,” Sorin replied. “You’re a sniper, aren’t you? You’d probably be very useful.”

“Yeah, you might just be a hero yet!” Mina said.

“A hero? But even you called me pathetic,” Noa replied.

“Mina probably didn’t mean to call you that,” Gale said. “I think she was just trying to encourage you… in her own way, I think.”

“Look, I know what it’s like to lose a family member,” Sorin said. “Not being able to know what kind of person my mother was really hurts and I’m only now just getting to know my father better. I can understand your fears.”

“At least you still have a father,” Noa said. “I suppose I don’t have too much of a choice, though.”

“I’ve been saying you had a choice whether or not you want to keep going with us,” Sorin replied. “I don’t know, there’s just something I can see with the look in your eyes. Something that says you want to become better.”

Noa scratched the back of his head. “I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“He means you don’t want to be so pathetic anymore, right?” Mina asked. “Being around us must have awakened some special feelings in you!”

“Special feelings!?” Noa exclaimed. “I mean, I’m around some cute girls and all, but I can’t just spill out my guts all over the place!”

Noa muttered to himself while Gale just placed her palm on her forehead.

“You missed the point entirely,” she said.

“Don’t tell me you’re dating them all, are you!?” Noa asked to Sorin. “I’m not in any place to judge, but even I have limits to my fantasies!”

“You missed the point so hard, you’re up in the stars now,” Gale said.

“I’m sorry!” Noa said. “Sorry, sorry, sorry! Please forgive me for putting my foot in my mouth!”

“Besides, I’m only with Gale,” Sorin said. “Mina and Rain are our friends and allies in this journey.”

“That’s right,” Rain said. “Perhaps we should just get out of this boring inn and see what Helm has to offer?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Sorin said. “What do you think, Noa?”

Noa just nodded his head.

“I’ll take that as a yes, then,” Rain said. “Well, what are we waiting for?”

With nothing else to do at the inn, Sorin and the others left and went into the city. Unbeknownst to them, however, the calm, peaceful city of Helm was being fast approached by many outside parties looking to make a move.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Glora-Helm Direct Freeway, Ahnlikohn]

 

Johan gazed off into the clear sky as the bus made its second-to-last stop before Helm. Two people got off and only one got on the bus. The man with short hair noticed Johan and hurried in order to sit right next to him.

“Great timing, Pekka,” Johan said. “Funny how we just seem to meet on transport lately, isn’t it?”

“As long as I get to see you, Mr. Johan, I don’t care if we meet in a run-down hostel,” Pariton replied. “Anyway, I’ve brought some news for you.”

“So what have you got for me about our friend?” Johan asked.

Pariton smiled. “Seems Mr. Mars is coming to Helm,” he said. “Looks like he managed to catch his target.”

Johan placed his hand upon his chin. “Korbin actually managed to catch her, didn’t he?”

“You know who it is?” Pariton asked.

“Oh, pay no attention,” Johan said. “Just thinking to myself, that’s all.”

“Yeah, I’m surprised he’d actually go that far, to be honest,” Pariton said. “I mean I’ve done some things I’m not proud of, but still…”

“I don’t think he’s going to get away with it, though,” Johan said. “If things go according to plan, then Korbin’s plan will come to a halt in Helm.”

“Well, if you think so, then I believe you,” Pariton replied.

Johan chuckled as the bus started to move. “It’s not a matter of belief, Pekka,” he said. “Those Neu Thekohnian Order guys are there right now and are plotting their next attack, or so I’ve heard. Korbin and his crew are going to run either into them, or he might end up facing someone else.”

“Someone else?”

“You have to make a stop in Helm before you go to Oelaans,” Johan said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they managed to cross paths.”

“I see,” Pariton said. “Anyway, you’re coming in from Glora, right? Did you happen to run into Victor?”

“Unfortunately, I did not see him,” Johan answered. “I did meet Sir Ahga, however, and I got pretty close with the daughter of the Kikuishan Empress.”

Pariton’s eyes shot up. “How close, exactly?”

“Nothing beyond holding hands, I’d say,” Johan said. “As for Sir Ahga, I have a feeling that he’s got a secret that he doesn’t want anyone to know about, and if it got out, it would spell trouble not only for him, but the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn as well.”

“Is that something we’d like to avoid?”

“It’s complicated,” Johan replied. “I’ve personally met with one of the princesses and she was extremely nice to me–she happens a friend of a friend, actually–but I’m not sure how I feel about the queen knowing what Sir Ahga’s been up to.”

“So, you’re not sure at all,” Pariton said.

“I guess we’ll see what happens going forward,” Johan said.

“Guess we will,” Pariton replied.

As the bus drove down the road, Johan could only think to himself about what would happen next. He knew that there was a chance he would run into Sorin again, so he had to think about how he would explain what it was that he was doing in the city. Johan hated the fact that he would have to lie to his friend, but he also did not want to subject Sorin to danger because of him.

“Hey, Mr. Johan, I want to ask a question,” Pariton said.

“Go ahead.”

“You remember the first time we met, right?”

“I think so.”

“Well, I just wanted to thank you again for what you did,” Pariton said. “It couldn’t have been an easy choice for you to make.”

“You’re welcome, but why are you bringing this up now?” Johan asked.

“I just wanted to, you know?”

“Understood,” Johan said. “The reason why we’re friends is because of our similar circumstances, so I think that it’s always good to remind ourselves of the past so we can create a better future.”

“Well said,” Pariton replied.

It was indeed a moment in Johan’s past where he had considered the circumstances of Pariton’s life compared to his. That moment was also the time where Johan had decided to carry out his mission on creating a world without wars. He remembered to starry night very well and the look on Pekka’s face when they first met. Of all the missions he carried out for the Ameci military, this one was a success, at least in Johan’s eyes.

 

*****

 

[4th of May, 2740 AD; Burning Light Lane, Hurst, Iiayikohn]

 

Two weeks after the battle of Bel, the Ameci military had decided to stay in Rezar until things were completely clear. Johan had very little to do, however, until General Fercewend approached him. He tasked Johan with an easy mission: find and locate a stray member of the True Thekohnians. According to the general, the member’s name was Pekka Varjostaa and was considered to be a dangerous man. Numerous accounts were listed off by Fercewend as Johan nodded along.

“Capturing this man is essential for us,” Fercewend said. “It is imperative that you are able to find this man and inform us of his location. Do you understand, Kuu?”

“Affirmative, general.”

“Then do not let me down,” Fercewend replied. “Your father was a great soldier as well. If only he were still alive to see you now…”

Johan commenced his investigation into locating Varjostaa, only to come up short several times. That was when he came up upon a conversation in the quiet town of Hurst, a few miles away from Rezar. It was between two women who had mentioned a ghost that only appeared late at night. An odd talk, he had thought, but it was a conversation that he believed was worth pursuing. Later into the night, Johan strolled the alleys of the Burning Light Lane and came across this shadowy figure drinking from a brown bottle. He slouched against the wall as Johan stepped towards him.

“Are you the ghost the people have been talking about?” Johan asked.

“Interesting question to ask a stranger.”

“Then answer me a different question: Are you Pekka Varjostaa?”

Varjostaa tossed the now empty bottle to the side. “And what if I am? Are you one of those soldiers that’s been looking for me?”

“Well, you’ve pretty much confirmed to me that you are Pekka Varjostaa,” Johan replied. “Don’t worry, though, because I’m not going to take you in.”

“What is this, a joke?”

“It’s not a joke, Pekka,” Johan answered. “My job’s not to capture you. It’s only to locate you and I just happened to make an extremely lucky guess as to where you were.”

“You shouldn’t let them know,” Varjostaa said. “I… I can’t go back to prison. Not again.”

Johan was curious. “Not again?”

“It was only in self-defense,” he replied. “If I didn’t kill him, then…”

“It might not be my place to ask, but what happened?” Johan asked.

Varjostaa explained his self-defense against a man that had threatened his family. Though he had only been seventeen at the time, Varjostaa was determined to make sure that his family would not be killed. Then, one day, the man came to his home and attempted to attack, but this time, Varjostaa stopped him. With only a small knife in his hand, he successfully took the man’s life and ended the threat. At least that was what he thought, but as it turned out, the man happened to be part of a very powerful organization. An organization that would seek to put Varjostaa to death and subject his family to tragedy.

“But you broke out, didn’t you?” Johan asked.

“It wasn’t easy at all, but yes,” Varjostaa answered. “I snuck out of prison by sneaking into one of the large delivery crates that were supposed to go on the truck. It’s why I also ended up being recruited by them.”

“The True Thekohnians, you mean.”

“Lokke had offered me security,” Varjostaa said. “He made sure that once I got him out of prison, there would be no chance that my family would ever be threatened again.”

“You don’t know the kind of man he was, it seems,” Johan said.

“I was told about his crimes, but I had no real escape,” he said. “I couldn’t go out there alone because I would be dead!”

“But you’re kind of in that situation now,” Johan replied. “Do you really think that your family is still alive, Pekka?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then why keep fighting for the True Thekohnians?” Johan asked.

Varjostaa had no answer.

“If it means anything to you, I will let you go,” Johan said.

“Really? You’d do that?” Varjostaa asked.

“I would,” he answered. “As someone who has lost family of his own, I can relate to your pain. Even if it meant using violence, I understand why you had to deal with the man who had threatened you.”

“I… I don’t know what to say,” Varjostaa said. “Maybe I could go along with you, sir?”

“Call me Johan,” he replied. “Sadly, though, I don’t think the Ameci military would look too kindly upon me associating with a former member of the True Thekohnians.”

Varjostaa looked down at the ground. “Then… then what is your goal?”

“My goal?” Johan asked. “Well, it’s more like a dream, but I’ve always wanted to help create a world where no wars needed to be fought. A world where instead of bloodshed, growth is encouraged.”

“Then I will help you make that dream a reality, Mr. Johan!” Varjostaa said. “If it means that less children will have to suffer the same fate as us, then I’m on board!”

Johan smiled. “Thank you so much, Pekka,” he said. “I really wish I could have done more to help you, though.”

“It’s no problem,” Varjostaa replied. “As long as I can help you, that’s a reward enough for me. I’m glad to have met you, Mr. Johan.”

“I’m glad, too,” Johan said.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 17 (Part 2)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Inside of Rieder Park, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Out of Town]

 

Gavin peered from behind the tree again, but could not see either prince out in the open. He had to hope that whatever plan that Law had come up with would work, otherwise they would be left to chase down both Amile and Amos Anhle. With a grumble, Gavin turned to Law who was already deep in thought.

“So what, are you going to share with me your great plan?” Gavin asked.

“I will, bro,” Law replied. “I’m thinking about how I can use you to distract them while I sneak up from behind.”

“That’s your great plan,” Gavin said, “Are you sure you know what the word ‘great’ means?”

“I’m still working on it, obviously,” Law said. “There’s no doubt that the chief is thinking about how he and Amos can escape. I just figured that you’d be good at closing off the that lane.”

Gavin looked down at his gun. “No doubt that they’ll be trying to flee,” he said. “Okay, let’s do this.”

“Are you two finished yet?” Amile asked from afar. “It’s been quite a moment since I’ve heard from either of you.”

“Fuck off, asshole!” Gavin replied.

Amile laughed. “Go ahead and try all you want, because you won’t get me for assassinating the prime minister!”

“Why don’t you come over here and fucking say that to face!?” Gavin exclaimed.

“Say, have either of you two seen my dear Amos?” Amile asked.

Gavin was taken aback. “The fuck are you asking us for?”

“Wait, we haven’t really heard from him, have we?” Law wondered. “Behind you, bro!”

Gavin turned around and found Amos standing in front of him. He tried to raise his gun, but Amos caught him by surprise and seized his arm.

“Are you an idiot!?” Gavin asked.

“I got this move from my former retainer,” Amos said. “Let’s see if it actually works!”

He spun around Gavin, whose arm was still in his grasp, and attempted to bend the arm. Gavin felt his grip loosen on his gun as he felt his arm start to go in the opposite direction. The immediate pain caused him to growl in pain as Amos did not let go.

“Lay off my bro, jack!” Law exclaimed.

He directed his punch to Amos’s face, who ended up releasing Gavin from his grasp. Amos turned and saw Law ready to attack again. Amos prepared himself and struck back. However, Law saw the attack coming and threw his second punch. This time his fist connected clearly with Amos’s face once again and sent him reeling.

Law set his eyes on Amos. “This is easier than I thought!”

Amos had no time to react as Law delivered a knockout punch that ended up dropping him to the ground. Gavin finished tending to his aching elbow when he finally set his eyes on the unconscious Ahnle prince before him.

“Thanks for that,” Gavin said.

“No problem,” Law replied. “Are you okay?”

Gavin attempted to flex his arm, leading him to grimace as he lowered it to his side. “It hurts like fuck, but I think I’ll manage,” he said.

“You better hand me your gun, then,” Law said.

“What are you talking about?”

“Look at you,” Law replied, “Firing a gun is the last thing you want to do with that kind of pain going on.”

“Give me more credit than that, Lawrence,” Gavin said. “I didn’t take up this skill just so I could be told I couldn’t do it.”

He moved his gun from his right to his left as a smile formed on his face.

“So you can just shut the fuck up about saying I can’t do it!”

“Guess there’s no convincing you, then,” Law said.

“Amos!” Amile called out. “Where are you? Did you get them?”

Gavin turned back to the direction where Amile was. “He’s taking a long nap,” he replied, “And when we’re done with you, you’ll be fucking wishing this was a dream!”

“What did you just say?” Amile responded. “W-What did you two do to my brother!? Amos!? Amos!”

Law looked down at Amos one last time. “Seems the crown prince’s got the gun on him,” he said. “Better be careful, then.”

“He doesn’t have his ‘good luck’ with him,” Gavin said, “How the hell is he going to find us?”

“Just keep your voice down,” Law replied. Then, he made a small gasp. “Bro, I have a great idea. Here, I’ll whisper it to you so there’ll be no chance that he happens to hear it.”

 

On the other side of the forest, Amile reloaded his gun as he could hear footsteps getting closer. He turned to his left, but no one was there. That was when he heard footsteps coming from behind him, which made turn around in response.

“Damn those two,” he said. “Will you show yourselves already!?”

“You should show yourself first, you fucking coward!” Gavin exclaimed.

“I get it,” Amile replied. “You’re coming in from the left, aren’t you? And that other man: he’s coming from my right, isn’t he?”

“That is very perceptive of you, prince,” Law said. “I had no doubts that your hearing was well beyond that of an average person, but you’re forgetting one thing.”

Amile turned around again. “And what would that be?”

“When it’s two against one, you stand no chance,” Law answered. “If you’re confident about where I am, I invite you to shoot me.”

“Quiet yourself with this balderdash!” Amile said.

He pointed his gun in the direction where he believed Law to be, but it ended up missing Law by several feet. Law took his chance and rushed Amile, who tried to fire again. This time it missed Law by a few inches as he rolled to the left of the prince and landed on his knees. As he looked up, Law saw the barrel of Amile’s gun pointing at him in the face.

“You missed,” Law said.

“What the hell are you looking to accomplish with whatever you just did?” Amile asked. “I could hear you just fine and you still haven’t taken my gun. What a waste of time!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Law said. “Care to tell him, bro?”

Gavin had been standing to the right of Amile. Law had distracted him long enough for Gavin to close in and have his gun ready. As he cocked his gun, Amile could only stand still.

“Drop your weapon,” Gavin said. “Otherwise, I can’t say this will end well for you.”

“You… I can’t believe you,” Amile replied.

Law hurried to his feet and snatched the gun out of Amile’s hand. “I think at this point, you have a lot to explain.”

“How can I explain?” Amile asked.

As Gavin and Law had Amile in their capture, Eva entered the park and rushed into the forest. She had her sword drawn and quickly went over to where the others were.

“Are you two okay?” Eva asked. “Where’s the other prince?”

“We’re doing fine,” Gavin said.

“And Amos is busy taking a nap on the ground over there,” Law said as he pointed to the other side. “But that’s enough of that.”

Eva turned her sights on Amile. “This man’s the assassin, right?”

“There’s no point in denying it,” Law said.

“Okay, it was me,” Amile replied. “I killed the prime minister… but you have to understand!”

“The only thing I understand is that you wanted him dead,” Eva said as she pointed her blade at Amile. “Any reason you have for wanting to kill a good man and friend of mine is deplorable!”

“It wasn’t up to me, I swear!” Amile said.

“You’re the one who killed Alan!” Eva said. “I should just kill you right now for all of the pain and suffering that you’ve caused!”

Amile got down to his knees. “Please, don’t kill me,” he pleaded, “Just have mercy and let me explain!”

Eva continued to have her sword trained on Amile as the blade got closer to his neck. Even though he could not see the sword, Amile gulped as he felt the edge of the blade against his neck.

“Eva, I think it’s best if we hear him out,” Law said.

“You’d rather let him walk away with his life?” Eva asked. “After what he’s done?”

“I’m not suggesting that,” Law replied. “You managed to call the authorities, right? There’s no way he’s going anywhere, so I think we should figure out what the hell he’s talking about.”

“And I have a feeling that this dumbass might have some information,” Gavin said. “Information that could prove useful.”

Eva took a look at Amile, and then to Law. “Very well,” she said as she withdrew her sword. “Start talking, and if I think you’re lying, I will change my mind.”

“O-Okay,” Amile said.

“Better do it now,” Law said. “I’ve got no doubt that those officers are coming here soon.”

“Well, I’m telling the truth that I did not carry out this plan on my own,” Amile replied. “I was asked to do it because I didn’t, Jelka Arne would my mother.”

“Was Jelka the one who demanded your cooperation?” Law asked.

“Yes, you’re right,” Amile answered. “He called me out a few days ago after sending a letter to me.”

Gavin put away his gun. “You’ve never met Jelka Arne in person before, have you?”

“No, not at all,” Amile said. “My brother hasn’t, either.”

“Then it’s not a surprise that you don’t know that Jelka Arne is a woman,” Gavin said. “That’s more than enough to tell me that you weren’t contacted by the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“But I happened to see a couple members on the way here,” Eva said.

“So can you explain that?” Gavin asked Amile.

“I’m not exactly sure, but this man did say that he was part of the NTO and he had people who would kill the queen at a moment’s notice,” Amile said. “I don’t know what to say, bud, but it’s like that.”

Law crossed his arms. “Why the prime minister, then?”

“I’ve already told you,” Amile replied, “He was going to have my mother killed if I didn’t cooperate!”

“That may be your reason, but what was this man’s reason for hiring you?” Gavin asked. “Why did he want Alan Berry dead?”

“If I had an answer for that, I’d tell you,” Amile replied.

“I have my doubts,” Eva said. “Are you certain that you were just being blackmailed and you have no idea whatsoever?”

“Please, just don’t get hasty!” Amile exclaimed.

“What about the Neu Thekohnian Order?” Law asked. “Those guys that Eva ran into… were they working with you?”

“He said that he’d lend some help should things come to the worst,” Amile replied. “I haven’t heard from them, though.”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Eva said. “I’ve already taken care of them myself.”

Amile whimpered. “J-Just don’t take care of me!”

“I’ve got one more question, prince,” Law said, “Why did you come here, even after all you’ve done?”

“I was asked to,” Amile said, “By that man, no less.”

“And you don’t know who it is?” Law asked.

“No, not at all,” Amile answered. “Just please, if you’re going to punish someone, then punish me! Leave Amos out of this; he was only following my orders!”

Gavin turned to Eva. “What do you think?”

“He was the one who ended up killing Alan, after all,” Eva replied, “Though it seems that he was just acting out on behalf of someone else. He’s just a pawn for whoever the real mastermind of this killing is.”

“You’ll spare me?” Amile asked.

“We will, but I can’t say you’ll be as lucky once you’re in captivity,” Law replied. “Start preparing your lines, because the Iiayikohnian government is going to be asking a lot more questions than we just did.”

“It seems like we’ve got this taken care of,” Gavin said. “I assume the officers will be arriving soon?”

“I called just before I made my way here,” Eva replied, “They should be here any time now.”

 

*****

 

After the Iiayi officers arrived, Gavin explained to them that Prince Amile confessed to his involvement in assassinating the prime minister. Once they had arrested the prince and his brother, the officers left the park and took the two princes down to the jail. With that out of the way, Law decided that the three of them should see what Ayanna had been up to so far. Of all the places he thought to look, Law decided that she might still be at her house. Gavin and Eva at his side, they made their way to her house and to the front door.

“Are you there?” Law asked as he knocked the door.

There was no response, so he decided to knock again. This time, Ayanna did respond and opened the door to Law’s mischievous smile.

“You’re back so soon,” she said. “I heard from the general about what happened.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s impressed,” Law replied.

“Honestly, I can’t even believe it,” Ayanna said. “This wasn’t a mistake, was it? You truly caught the ones responsible for Alan’s death?”

“He told us so himself,” Gavin said. “That bastard did the deed apparently because he was instructed to do it.”

“Since I’m still suspended, I’ll have to hear about it later,” Ayanna replied. “It seems that you did a good job, though, so I’m sure that you’ll want to talk with General Reiss when you get the chance.”

“Why? What’s he got to say to us?” Law asked.

“That’s just something you’ll have to ask him,” Ayanna said. “There’s another pressing concern, though.”

Gavin raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”

Ayanna took out a letter and opened it. “I received this just a few minutes before you got here,” she said. “You’ve managed to come at a good time.”

“Okay, now I want to know,” Eva said.

“A missing convict has been spotted in Helm,” Ayanna replied. “Her name is Silvia Roeik and apparently she has been taken hostage by the Neu Thekohnian Order. We have to act fast.”

“Hold on,” Law said. “When did you get this letter? Who sent it?”

“There’s no time to explain,” Ayanna said. “We need to hurry.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 17 (Part 1)

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Inside of Rieder Park, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Out of Town]

 

The inside of Rieder Park was empty with nearly no sign of life, save for both Gavin and Law Power hanging out around the entrance. They were to meet with both Ahnle princes in order to corner them and hopefully capture them as well. Despite Eva’s concern, she waited several meters away at the north exit to the city where one of the payphones stood nearby. After some wait, however, Amile and Amos Ahnle arrived at the park to which Law greeted them both.

“I’m so glad that you’ve decided to come,” Law said. “It wasn’t easy in the slightest getting some space here.”

Amos whispered something into Amile’s ear, to which the crown prince nodded and smiled.

“Do you both take me for a fool?” Amile asked. “It seems to me as if you’re hoping to lead me astray from what I really want to do hear, buds.”

“Let me be the first to reassure you, then,” Law replied. “This is a really nice place. I only wish that you could experience it for yourself, because it truly is something worth remembering.”

“Right, I guess all these people will say the same thing,” Amile said, “All zero of them, to be exact.”

Law laughed. “I guess nothing escapes that eagle-eyed brother of yours,” he said. “Maybe there isn’t anybody around, but nonetheless this is quite a scene.”

“Maybe you aren’t hearing me,” Amile replied, “I live for the pursuit of women and fame, and a run down park like this is far from that life.”

“Then let’s cut to the fucking chase,” Gavin said. “Just admit your crime here and we’ll skip all the bullshit.”

“My crime?” Amile asked. “I’m sorry, but I truly have no idea what you’re talking about at all.”

“Right, you say that,” Law said. “Would you mind telling me how you knew about the prime minister’s assassination? I remember what you said quite vividly and it’s fascinated me: ‘shooting a man in cold blood,’ was it not?”

Amile smirked. “That’s a wild assertion, Mr. Power,” he said. “Perhaps you can entertain me with some more of your preposterous balderdash while we’re here.”

“Brother, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Amos said.

“Please, Amos, this is quite entertaining after all, wouldn’t you agree?” Amile asked, his voice breaking slightly. “The nerve of this man, this commoner, this no name… To call me out as a killer!”

Gavin moved his hand toward his holster. “Enough fucking around,” he said. “Your arm’s also in some pretty bad shape, is it not?”

“Speaking of which, I don’t think that the prime minister would be one go down without a fight,” Law said. “He must’ve injured your arm pretty good if you say that the whole deal is hurt, right?”

“You… you know not what talking about,” Amile replied.

“You mentioned having a doctor’s papers about this injury, did you not?” Law asked. “There should be no trouble producing these papers if you had no involvement with the assassination.”

“And you better not say you don’t have it, asshole,” Gavin said. “Murder is already bad enough, but to carry out to act on the goddamn prime minister? You must think you have some big fucking balls, don’t you?”

Amile struggled to stifle his laughter. “What nonsense… I’m a killer? Me, the… the crown prince of Ahnlikohn, a killer?”

“What’s the matter?” Gavin asked. “If you’re going to confess, you’d best do it now.”

“I can’t confess, you buffoon!” Amile exclaimed. “I’m the fucking crown prince, not some animalistic killer! You want to call me an assassin!? Just tell me how! How could I do such a thing!?”

“That we don’t know,” Law said, “But all we’ve found out and all the evidence that we have points to you.”

“And you expect… you expect me to sing?” Amile asked. “Buffoons, the both of you! You’re both buffoons! Obtuse, near-sighted buffoons!”

He erupted into laughter as he dropped to the ground. Gavin pulled out his gun and aimed at Amile as he stepped forward.

“It’s no use now, you piece of shit,” he said. “There’s already some back-up coming for you, so you should go peacefully with us.”

“Gavin, look out!” Law said.

Law rushed towards Gavin and tackled him to the ground as a shot rang out. Amos had drawn a gun of his own and hurried over to Amile as Gavin sat up and viewed the two.

“That was a warning,” Amos said. “Come on, brother, let’s go!”

Without a second thought, Amos led Amile past both Gavin and Law and into the depths of the park. Gavin got up to his feet and dusted himself off while Law scoped the rest of the park to see where the two princes could have gone.

“You’d think they would leave the way they came,” Law said. “Sorry about that, bro. Didn’t expect him to pull on a gun on us, to be honest.”

“That’s it,” Gavin said. “I’m not about to let those assholes get away! Let’s go after them, Lawrence!”

“Certainly can’t let them get away, now can we?”

They went in the direction where Amile and Amos sped off to, hoping to find them both within the crowded forest that resided inside the park. Nothing could be done to break the silence that floated around both Gavin and Law as they tried to find the two responsible for the assassination of Alan Berry. Taking no chances, Law hid behind the closest tree he could find as Gavin did the same.

“You two are quite persistent, you know that?” Amile asked.

“Only because we know it was you and we’re going to stop you with whatever it takes!” Gavin exclaimed. “Now show yourself or else I’m going to come over there and drag you out myself!”

Amile had no response except to shoot at Gavin. The bullet managed to fly by the tree, missing him entirely as Gavin popped out from behind the tree and fired his gun at the prince. His bullet almost hit Amile if not for Amos shoving him to the side and just barely having the bullet graze his arm.

“Maybe your idea of justice is misguided,” Amile said. “This notion that you say I killed the prime minister: so what if I did? What would you be able to do to me anyway, bud?”

“Don’t even try me,” Gavin replied.

“So you mean to say that you think you’ll get away with it?” Law asked. “You’re not above the hammer of justice. Once the Iiayikohnian government finds out you did it, they’ll be looking to deal with you as quickly as possible.”

“I’m to take the word of a couple of buffoons?” Amile asked. “What a shame that you’re so ill-informed; I feel sorry for your tiny brains.”

“Excuse me!?” Gavin asked. “How about you go fuck yourself, you fucking piece of fucking shit! Better get your fucking ass ready, you fucking prick, because I’m about to fuck you up and shoot your fucking ass down!”

“You can’t let him get to you, bro,” Law said. “We’re just going to have to get them by force, even if it means it will be a rough one.”

“Try as you like, you’re not going to take me in!” Amile said. “I might be without my sight, but I can find out where you are based on sound alone!”

“I fucking dare you to do it,” Gavin replied. “The moment you leave yourself open is the moment I close in on your sorry ass!”

Gavin’s comment was met with the quick response of Amile’s gun firing. This time, it managed to hit the upper branch of the tree Gavin hid behind, which caused the branch to snap and fall to the ground.

“Let’s move,” Law said under his breath. “These guys are just gonna get us if we stay in one place.”

“Good idea,” Gavin said.

They hurried over to the next part of the forest, where another section of trees awaited them. From this point, Gavin was able to scope out Amos who was looking around while Law took his place behind one of the trees. Gavin took out his gun and fired at Amos, who ended up taking the bullet in his right arm. He screamed in pain as he fell to his knees as Gavin took to hiding once again.

“Amos! Are you okay!?” Amile asked.

“They got me, brother,” Amos replied. “It’s not a fatal shot, but… damn it… it really hurts!”

“I can’t believe you’d strike my dear Amos!” Amile shouted. “Just tell me where they ran off to and I’ll finish them myself!”

“No, I can still do this,” Amos said as he stood up. “It’s just a simple bullet wound!”

He tore off the right sleeve of his shirt and proceeded to wrap the unstained part around the wounded area. Then, Amos ran behind the nearest tree he could find as Gavin peeked momentarily only to find that he could not find either prince in plain sight.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” he said.

“It’s going to be tough as long as they’re cooperating like this,” Law said. “If we could just take one of them out, then the other brother will be easy to take out.”

“What a bunch of bullshit,” Gavin replied. “They’re just going to keep moving if we continue to just stand around and do nothing.”

Law shrugged. “It’s possible,” he said. “I have an idea, though.”

“And what bright idea is going on in your head?”

“Just hear me out,” Law replied. “If I’m right about this, then their capture is not too far off for us.”

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Northern Gate, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Tera District]

 

At the exit to the city, Eva Bellamy stood by and looked off into the distance where the park was. After a fair amount of time, she would have to make a call to the New Prime Minister’s office. That was when she heard the faint, first gunshot ring out in the distance.

“Just come out of this alive, okay,” Eva said. “I guess that’s as good a time as any, so I guess I’ll make the call now.”

As she turned to the payphone sitting by the building, Eva noticed two men dressed in dark red hanging by the entrance. She would have thought very little of it, until the fact that one of them approached her as she tried to use the phone.

“Excuse me, but who do you think you’re calling?”

“It’s none of your concern,” she replied.

“I know you’re lying,” he said. “You’re one of the Swords of Eight, aren’t you?”

Eva’s hand twitched as she tried to let it go. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”

As she eyed the phone, the man decided to strike first as he drew a long knife and attempted to attack her. Eva could anticipate the attack, however, as she moved out of the way as the man ended up running into the wall. The other man took out a knife as well, leading Eva to draw her sword.

“You must be foolish if you think you’re going to get me like that,” she said. “Who are you working for and why are you attacking me?”

There was no response as the two men dashed towards her, but Eva’s smaller size helped her to dodge their attacks. There was no scratch on her as one of the men stomped the ground while the other turned around and threw his knife at Eva in a fit of rage. It managed to miss her as she moved slightly to the left, but Eva still stood on guard as she anticipated their next attack.

“I’ll ask again: who do you work for?” Eva asked. “Depending on your answer, I might just let the two of you live.”

“It doesn’t matter, since we’re going to kill you anyway,” the knifeless man said. “We’re part of the Neu Thekohnian Order and we’ve been given a special task on behalf of our client.”

Eva tightened the grip on her sword. “Your client?”

“Too bad you won’t get to ask him yourself!”

As the man raised his arm to strike, he was met with a quick surprise as Eva swung her sword and slashed his throat. He dropped to the ground in an instant while the other man tried to catch Eva off guard, but he was just as unlucky as she thrusted the handle end of her sword into his chest. The subsequent impact cracked his rib and made him drop his knife as Eva turned and thrusted her sword into his chest.

“It really is true,” he said, “You… really are ‘Eva the Killer,’ aren’t you?”

With his last breath, the man collapsed as Eva took the cloth from his pocket and used it to clean her blade. With a deep sigh, she sheathed the sword once more as she turned to the payphone.

“I’m sorry, Kirk,” she said. “I didn’t have much of a choice.”

She picked up the receiver as she took out a coin and inserted it into the slot. If that gunshot was anything to go by, Eva would have to hurry. Not only that, but the two assailants that she had killed would also need to be taken care of. There was a growing concern that there was more to this Prince Amile than Eva had initially thought and she needed to help both Gavin and Law in any way she could.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part