Sundown – Chapter 25 (Part 1)

[15th of September, 2740 AD; Ameci Embassy – War Room, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

Henry arrived early into the war room carrying a few sheets of paper held to a clipboard. Rohan stood inside as he had summoned Henry to see him along with the other soldiers in his troop. Earlier in the day, Rohan had told Henry of a request concerning a potential strike in Oelaans from the Neu Thekohnian Order. Along with Henry was Aron, who had quickly risen to the top of Henry’s list.

Fercewend turned around and faced Henry. “It looks like you’ve brought the documents,” he said. “Well done.”

“You know I always do my best to fulfill your requests, Rohan,” Henry replied. “Also, I’ve brought Private Arrington along with me. He’s been quite a reliable scout these past few days.”

Aron laughed nervously. “At the risk of being threatened, no less…”

“Did you say something, private?” Fercewend asked.

“It was nothing, nothing at all, general,” Aron answered. “It looks like we’re the first ones to arrive, it seems.”

“About that,” Fercewend said, “I would like it if you two would wait here for a bit while I step out.”

“Where are you going?” Henry asked.

“I won’t be gone for too long,” Fercewend replied. “I just have to take an important call, if you will excuse me.”

Rohan stepped out of the room and left Henry and Aron to themselves.

“So, sir, what do we think about this potential strike?” Aron asked.

“Well, I hope it doesn’t happen, if that’s what you’re asking,” Henry replied. “I’m certain they’re planning their next move as we speak, so it’d be best if we acted as swiftly as possible before they do any more harm.”

“I agree with you there, sir,” Aron said. “There’s no telling what’ll happen if we continue to let the Neu Thekohnian Order run rampant across the region. Who knows if they’ll decide to take their attacks over the ocean?”

“Best not to let those thoughts cloud your mind,” Henry said. “Just move forward and work together to take this problem head on. That’s how General Fercewend and I do things around here, as do the others.”

“Right, right,” Aron replied. “Do you believe those rumors about Johan are true?”

Henry raised an eyebrow. “Why do you ask that?”

“Well, I know it was Korbin who said it, but Johan has been acting odd recently, hasn’t he?” Aron asked. “You don’t think that he’d turn his back on us, do you?”

“Arrington, I know you’re concerned, but we have to see it for ourselves instead of making rash judgements,” Henry said.

“I know that, sir,” Aron replied. “I know we don’t want to do that; after all, you were subject to such a thing yourself, weren’t you?”

“That I was.”

“Who even accused you, anyway?”

“It was a long time ago, so I don’t really remember,” Henry answered. “It’s not something I honestly wish to remember, either way.”

“I completely understand,” Aron said. “The only thing that I want to know is what Johan is up to.”

“Last I heard, he was headed towards Ahnlikohn in pursuit,” Henry said. “Considering the connection between the Ahnle family and the Neu Thekohnian Order, it would make sense for him to go that way.”

“So we’ll expect to hear back from him on that,” Aron said.

“Looks like it.”

Rohan returned with the rest of Henry’s troop, but Henry noticed that Korbin was not with them.

“You’re probably asking yourself where Private Mars is right about now,” Fercewend said. “Well, he has been transferred over to Junior Sergeant Bradley’s troop, which leads me into why I called you here.”

He went into detail about a new mission for Henry’s troop. According to Rohan, he had received an order from President Hasker to head towards Bel in Maeitakohn.

“What about Oelaans?” Henry asked.

“I’ve already sent Bradley’s troop there,” Fercewend replied. “They are making their way to Oelaans as we speak, so I would suggest you not to worry about them.”

Henry nodded. “Okay, so what are we doing down in Bel?”

“I’ve received an alarming report from the president about a missing person,” Fercewend said. “There’s not much we that know about this person, but the report details that they may have been taken hostage by the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“Damn it, is there no end to their actions?” Aron asked. “We’re going to go after them, right?”

“Pardon me if this sounds insensitive, but why does this concern us?” Henry asked. “Is there a connection between this person and President Hasker?”

“He did not specify that to me, but I can only imagine that they are beyond important,” Fercewend answered.

“Then we must waste no time and make our way to Bel,” Henry said.

“I know you want to rescue this person, but I request that you take your time and head for the Executive Hotel,” Fercewend said. “There’s someone I need for you to meet.”

“And who might that be?” Henry asked.

“I believe you and her know each other well, Henry,” Fercewend replied. “Lieutenant General Ansa has been informed on the missing person and wants to offer the help of the Iiayikohnian army for this mission.”

Henry tilted his head. “For a rescue mission?”

“You’ll have to talk to her about that,” Fercewend said. “I trust that you will be able to handle this mission given your previous success.”

“Don’t worry about that, general,” Henry said. “If there’s one thing I know that I’m capable of, it’s leading these men to victory. Am I right?”

The rest of the troop cheered as Fercewend laughed.

“Then my trust in you was never in doubt,” he said. “You are proving yourself well and could possibly be moving up the ranks fairly soon if you keep this up, Henry.”

Henry grinned. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Then I expect the best,” Fercewend replied. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another call I must attend to at once.”

Everyone said goodbye to Rohan as he left the room. With several of the soldiers celebrating and congratulating Henry, he could only chuckle.

“I haven’t been promoted yet, guys,” he said. “Let’s just calm down and head over to the hotel.”

“You really know how to handle good news, sir,” Aron said. “If it were me, I wouldn’t know whether to pump my fists in the air or start crying.”

“It comes down to an old saying,” Henry said, “Act like you’ve been there before. If good news comes your way, then accept it with humility.”

“When you say it like that, sir, it makes you sound like a wise old man,” Aron replied.

“Surely I’m not that old, am I?” Henry asked.

“Well, you are senior to the rest of us,” one soldier said.

“Guess that bodes well for my future, then,” Henry said. “Now then, let’s go. We mustn’t keep our friend waiting at the Executive Hotel.”

With that said, Henry led the others out of the war room. He had purpose for this mission, as it would be the first time he would be going back to Bel since that fated day. He could only wonder what had changed in the months since as he went with the other soldiers over to the Executive Hotel.

 

*****

 

[15th of September, 2740 AD; Executive Hotel, Entrance Lobby – Deca District]

 

With the call made, Ayanna waited in the lobby with Gavin and Law. On the side, Gale and Eva began drawing up a route from Rezar to Bel, making sure to include as many details as possible about the missing person as well. Henry and his troop were set to arrive soon, but all Gavin and the others could do for now was wait and continue to plan.

“The last time you went into Bel, it was a pretty straightforward route, was it not?” Gale asked.

“I would say that it was, yes,” Eva replied. “Nothing should have changed between then and now, I think.”

Gale wrote down on the map. “Okay, so we have an entrance point.”

“I’m rather amazed that Gavin was able to come up with this idea,” Eva said. “Usually he’s not the one spouting off ideas.”

“You should thank Mina,” Gavin said. “If it weren’t for her, then there wouldn’t be any lead.”

“Wonder what this means,” Law said.

Gavin had spoken with Mina the day they had returned from Helm. She had mentioned her mother to him and wondered if there was anything that he could do to help. The day after, Gavin proceeded to do a little investigating on his own as he searched the Iiayikohnian Archives for information. Though he was not able to find any record of anyone living in Iiayikohn with the last name “Brynjarr,” Gavin was able to find old newspapers about a group of visitors from a land called Bryn.

“So how were you able to make a connection?” Ayanna asked.

“And exactly how many years ago was this?” Law asked.

“It was about eighteen years ago,” Gavin answered. “There was a meeting with this group and the Iiayikohnian prime minister at the time, Reed Baldwin. From there, the group then traveled to Maeitakohn and that’s where the document ends.”

Gavin went on to explain further about what he did from there. He made a call to the Iiayikohnian embassy in Bel, where the person there gave him information about the documents within their archives. Another call made, Gavin located records about the last known person from Bryn.

“The last known person?” Gale asked. “I have to wonder why we’ve never heard anything about this ‘Bryn’ before. What about you, Eva?”

“It’s not exactly a tale I care to bring up,” Eva said. “I was in Ameci during the time, but it was a topic discussed at the hospital I used to work at.”

“You worked at a hospital?” Law asked. “It’s a hard image to process, personally. Maybe you’d like to model a nurse’s outfit for me?”

“I think you should be quiet and let me finish,” Eva replied. “Anyway, this land, Bryn, was a once a neighbor of Ahnlikohn.”

She continued on, revealing that when Harring became their chancellor, the land of Bryn became no more and was immediately absorbed into Ahnlikohn afterwards. Many were said to have scattered throughout the region, though Eva mentioned that it would be impossible to verify their whereabouts.

“At least, until now,” Eva said.

“So I guess that brings it back to me, then,” Gavin said. “I used the name Mina had given me and asked the people at the archives in Bel.”

“And did you find Mina’s mother?” Ayanna asked.

“I did not,” Gavin answered.

Law tried not to laugh. “Well, I admire your investigative skills regardless.”

“I’m not fucking done yet,” Gavin said. “What I was able to find, though, is that there is a woman who might know about the the Brynjarr family.”

“You still haven’t figured it out yet?” Eva asked.

Gavin adjusted his sunglasses. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about Mina’s mother,” Eva said, “And not what she looks like, Law. I mean who she really is.”

“This question is interesting,” Law said. “Wilma Brynjarr… She wouldn’t happen to be some sort of infamous criminal, would she?”

“No, that’s not it at all,” Eva replied. “I’m surprised you can’t figure it out.”

“Actually, I have figured it out,” Law said, “But can you explain it for my bro here? He’s still yet to cross the finish line like the rest of us have already done.”

“I’m going to cross that finish line, alright,” Gavin said, “And after I’m done kicking your ass, I’ll tell you what I think!”

“Without the unnecessary violence, please,” Ayanna said. “Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Mina’s mother is someone important and not just because of the family relation.”

Before Eva could respond, however, Henry and the rest of his squad had entered the hotel. He noticed Ayanna in an instant and greeted her as well as the others in waiting. Gavin stood up and greeted Henry with a handshake.

“We meet again,” Gavin said.

“It’s nice to meet you, too, Mr. Power,” Henry said. “So this is the team that is working with you, Ansa?”

“You have that man to thank,” Ayanna replied. “If it weren’t for his tip, we would have no lead on this person.”

“Well, then, I thank you for your help,” Henry said to Gavin.

“Don’t mention it,” Gavin replied.

“We’ve already set out a route towards the general area,” Gale said. “If you could look on this map here, Henry, you’ll see for yourself.”

Henry picked up the map and thoroughly scanned it. “The residential district, huh?”

“That was where this person was last seen,” Ayanna said. “I’ve already spoken with General Khadir of Maeitakohn and he says that there has been an uptick of Neu Thekohnian Order presence. He’s going to send out some troops to combat them while you’re going to help us in the search and rescue portion.”

“It’s a bit complicated, but I follow you,” Henry said, “But I want to know who it is we’re going to rescue. Not even General Fercewend told us that.”

“That is indeed important,” Ayanna replied. “I can’t give too many details out in the open, but they happen to hail from Bryn.”

Henry could only gasp. “You’re not serious, are you?”

“It’s what Gavin told me,” she answered. “You could talk to him about it if you want.”

“No, it’s fine,” Henry said. “I just have trouble believing that someone from Bryn still exists today.”

“Believe me when I say I was in disbelief, too,” Ayanna said.

“Their last name wouldn’t happen to be what I think it is, is it?” Henry asked. “Actually, no, you don’t have to answer that. I think that the answer is pretty obvious.”

“So I take it you have no more questions, then,” Ayanna replied. “Very well, let’s proceed with the next step. I take it that you and your troop are ready?”

“That we are,” Henry said.

“Good, then we’re both ready,” she said.

“Are they going to go with us?” Henry said, looking to Gavin and Law and then to Gale and Eva.

“It’s best not to concern yourself with what they’ll be doing,” Ayanna replied. “Once we’ve set out, we’ll officially be working as allies.”

“And I’m glad I get to work with you, Ansa,” Henry said. “What are we doing here, then? Let’s hit the road already!”

With the cheering from the Ameci soldiers, Henry led them outside as Ayanna watched on.

“So I guess that this is goodbye for now,” Ayanna said as she turned to Law. “As for you, all I can hope for is for you to be safe.”

“Don’t worry about me or my bro here,” Law said. “I’ve got a good idea of what we’re going to do after we find Mina’s mother.”

“You haven’t forgotten me, have you?” Eva asked. “I admit, it’s almost funny how well we work together as a trio.”

Law shook his head as he smiled. “I don’t think I would ever forget about you, especially not now,” he said. “If I were Kirk, I’d be kicking myself right now.”

“I trust that you won’t try anything funny,” Eva said. “If not, I’d be glad to show you how sharp this sword of mine is.”

“I’m a taken man, Eva,” Law said. “Besides, even I wanted to, Ayanna would kick my ass.”

“She wouldn’t be the only one,” Gale said.

“Are we quite done?” Ayanna asked.

“If this idiot isn’t, I’ll make him,” Gavin said. “It’s about time that we get off our asses and head out.”

“I don’t disagree with you there, bro,” Law said.

The two brothers headed for the exit, but not without Law saying goodbye to Ayanna by giving her a tight hug. After that, he and Gavin walked out with Eva following behind them. Now down to just her and Gale, Ayanna turned to the younger woman.

“And now it’s just us,” Gale said. “You’re heading to meet with the general, right?”

“I am,” Ayanna replied.

“You don’t mind me joining you, do you?”

“I have no problem with it,” she said.

“Thanks,” Gale said. “I just want to help in any way I can. Whatever it is, I want to be sure that my contributions will go towards helping them.”

“That’s completely understandable,” Ayanna said. “You shouldn’t have to worry, though, because your help today has been a much needed arrow in the right direction.”

“You mean that?” Gale asked.

“Of course I do,” Ayanna replied. “Now let’s go, because I don’t want to keep General Reiss waiting any longer.”

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 22 (Part 1)

[14th of September, 2740 AD; Iiayine Castle Graveyard, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

A few days had passed since the attack on Helm. In that time, Kirk, Lowell, and Tre had arrived in Rezar in time for the funeral of Alan Berry. The others had decided to head back to Iiayikohn as well, because Rain felt that it would not be right if Eva did not get the chance to say goodbye one last time. After the initial service, Eva stood with Kirk and Rain, who held a bouquet of flowers, in the graveyard at Alan’s grave.

“You didn’t have to come, Your Highness,” Eva said. “I only wanted to see Alan one more time.”

“No, it’s fine,” Rain replied. “I want to see him as well.”

Eva brushed back her hair. “There’s no problem with that,” she said. “You know, that speech you gave earlier… I have to say it truly moved me.”

“I’m glad to see that in this darkness, there’s still hope,” Kirk said. “I can see it all around, what with Her Highness and my son getting along so well. My only hope for you that you stay strong during these times.”

“Thank you, Mr. Wilk,” Rain said. “Miss Bellamy, do you want to start now?”

Eva knelt down near Alan’s grave. “I just want to thank you for what you did for me,” she said. “There’s nothing that I can do that will be good enough to repay you. My only wish is that you didn’t have to go so soon… I swear on my life that I’m going to find the one responsible and kill them myself!”

Tears formed in Eva’s eye as she placed a hand on her forehead. Kirk helped her up to her feet and hugged her as Rain looked at Alan’s grave. Rain then decided to lay the bouquet in front of the grave as she clasped her hands together and closed her eyes.

“Though I’ve only known you for a small amount of time, I know that you were a great man,” Rain said. “I will pray for your family in this time and for you up in heaven, prime minister.”

As Rain continued to pray, Kirk consoled Eva as he place his hand on the back of her head.

“My heart hurts,” Eva said as she sobbed into Kirk’s shirt. “Why aren’t we doing more, Kirk?”

“We have to have faith in the others,” Kirk replied. “I gave up my sword five months ago and entrusted my job to Sorin. There’s not much I really can do, especially not on a bad ankle.”

“Then I’ll do it,” Eva said. “I can’t sit here and do nothing… There’s no telling what the Neu Thekohnian Order will do if we don’t do anything.”

“I know,” Kirk said, “But I’d hate to think that something would happen to you and I know you’d feel the same about me.”

Eva looked up at Kirk. “What do you mean?”

“I want you to consider putting aside your sword,” he replied. “Not just because of what may lie in wait, but… but also because of your health.”

“Don’t do this,” Eva said. “Not here, not now.”

“No one else is here except her and she’s still praying,” Kirk said. “I only bring it up because I love you. I care about you. I’d just hate to think that something could happen to you.”

“You really are stubborn, aren’t you?” Eva asked. “I’m not like you, you know. I can still wield a blade without trouble.”

“It’s not your proficiency with sword that I’m worried about,” Kirk replied. “I’m the only one you’ve shared your deepest feelings with, and the fear that I have is that you might end up falling victim to that demon.”

Eva pushed herself off of Kirk. “I knew it,” she said, “You really are a stubborn idiot.”

“Stubborn because I care,” he said. “If caring about you makes me an idiot, then I have no problem with that.”

Eva shook her head. “I can’t take this right now,” she said. “I need some time to think by myself.”

Kirk watched as Eva stormed off towards the building. He sighed as he thought about how he could have handled that better. Rain finished as she then turned to Kirk.

“Should I go talk to her?” Rain asked.

“It’s not your problem, Your Highness,” he said. “Besides, I don’t want to have you worry about her because of what I said.”

Rain took a look past Kirk. “Are you sure? I can try and cheer her up.”

“She’ll be fine,” Kirk replied. “Anyway, I should see what Lowell and Tre are doing right now. It was nice to meet you.”

Rain reached out her hand to Kirk and shook it. “I’ll say the same to you,” she said. “Hopefully we can meet again next time under better circumstances.”

“I hope so too.”

With nothing to say, Kirk left Rain by herself. He had business to attend to with both Lowell and Tre, who were probably still talking with Gamil over in the audience hall. Kirk wanted to catch them both before they left and had no time to waste.

 

*****

 

Inside the castle, Sorin sat with Gale, Mina, and Noa in the parlor where many of the other people were sitting. A lot of people attended the funeral for Alan, though one man did not go to the service: Wilson Dezine. His absence made many people wonder where he could have been, especially Ayanna and General Reiss. Still, Sorin felt that it was a nice service even though he barely knew the prime minister.

“Our job isn’t done,” Sorin said. “I wonder if Rain is still out there…”

“She’ll be back,” Mina replied.

“I’m surprised you didn’t go with her,” Gale said.

“I wanted to, too, but it didn’t feel right,” Mina said. “Do you think that was the right thing to do?”

“Rain would’ve liked it if you were there,” Gale replied. “She probably feels sad that you didn’t go with her.”

“Oh no, I don’t want her to be sad!” Mina exclaimed. “Maybe I should go to there now before it’s too late!”

“It probably doesn’t matter,” Noa said. “All these people, though… they really cared about this man, didn’t they?”

“Of course they did,” Gale said. “Every person here either knew the prime minister or was helped by him in some way. I can’t imagine there would be anyone who would think bad of him, at least that’s what I would like to think.”

“You think?” Noa asked.

“Forget I said that,” Gale replied. “Sorin, should we go see what Gavin and Law are up to?”

Sorin stood up. “Don’t see why we shouldn’t.”

“Wait, what are you guys going to do?” Mina asked. “Can I come along?”

“It’s more something I want to ask the both of them personally,” Sorin said. “If you want to come along, that’s fine, but I think that Rain might want to see you first.”

“Guess you’re right,” Mina said, “I need to go cheer Rain up!”

Mina jumped to her feet and ran out of the room. Sorin then thought to himself about the events that led up to this day. After Korbin and his gang had left, Johan helped Ayanna in ensuring Silvia receive a proper burial. There were plenty of questions that Sorin had wanted to ask his friend, but Johan seemed to have other plans as he left with Pariton as soon as the burial was finished.

“It’s time to go,” Johan had said. “See ya, buddy.”

After that brief exchange, Sorin had left with the others and headed back to Rezar. He and Mina had wanted to push forward onto Thekohn and Oelaans, but Sorin decided that it would be better to head back and rethink their strategy. He also was not sure what Gavin and Law were going to do, but above all else, Sorin wanted to make sure that Gale would be safe. There was no telling what awaited him going onward, but he felt that Gale would fare better and be safer with the two brothers.

“Where did they say they were going to be?” Sorin asked.

“Law told me it wasn’t far from here,” Gale said. “Let’s go.”

Gale and Sorin then headed out of the parlor room and towards the front door. They pushed the door open and found Gavin and Law hanging outside. Gavin was busy reclining against the wall while Law spent his time observing the city.

Sorin waved his hand. “Hey.”

Gavin looked up. “Hi. What is it?”

“It’s about earlier,” Sorin replied. “Have you made your decision?”

“Yeah, I think we have,” Gavin said. “Are you sure that you two are okay with this?”

“I think Sorin might not feel too confident in his own abilities,” Law said. “That’s why you’re asking us, right? Gale, what do you think?”

“There’s no problem here,” Gale answered.

Law eyed Sorin. “And you?”

“I believe in myself, as do I Gale,” Sorin said. “That’s why we came to you, because I know she’ll be a great help to you.”

“How so?” Gavin asked. “I’m not trying to be an asshole, but I’d really like to know.”

“You’re going to find the one responsible behind Alan’s assassination, aren’t you?” Gale asked. “If there’s anything I can do, I’d be glad to help you out and draw out a plan with the two of you.”

“It doesn’t hurt to have an extra brain in this operation,” Law said. “Besides, I not so sure if Eva’s planning on staying here for much longer.”

“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.

“Oh, so you haven’t spoken to him yet,” Law replied. “Seems like you should hear it from Kirk himself, then. Go on, don’t just stand there!”

“You could just tell me,” Sorin said.

“Why would I want to ruin the surprise?” Law asked.

“Fine,” Sorin replied. “I’ll see you later, Gale.”

Sorin exchanged his goodbyes with Gale and headed off to find his father. He bumped into Noa, who stood in the hall as more people started to leave.

“Have you seen my father pass by?” Sorin asked.

“Your father? I can’t say that I have,” Noa answered.

“Damn it, where could he be?”

As Sorin wondered where Kirk was, he saw Eva exiting from one of the nearby rooms with Ayanna. Thinking that she might have information on where his father could be, Sorin walked up to Eva.

“You two wouldn’t happen to have seen my father, have you?”

“I don’t really know where he is,” Eva replied, “And I don’t if I care to find out.”

Sorin was taken aback. “Did something happen?”

“Nothing you should be concerned about,” Eva said.

“So I guess it’s like that, then,” Sorin said.

“It’s best that we leave some things unsaid,” Ayanna said. “My schedule is busy after this; I’m supposed to meet with Dezine later to discuss the recent turn of events.”

“Speaking of which, what became of the two princes?” Sorin wondered.

“Currently, they’re set for a hearing a week from now,” Ayanna answered. “It seems that the news really caught Queen Amelia off guard, so she’s yet to make a speech about what happened. Dezine’s been communicating with the chancellor, however, so we might find out soon.”

“So the only answer is which country they’ll be tried in,” Eva said. “I would think they’d want to do it in Ahnlikohn, all things considered.”

“If there’s anything I know, though, it’s that Reiss wants to take care of this case as swiftly as possible,” Ayanna said. “He looked up to the prime minister, almost like an older brother of sorts, and he’ll want to make sure that the hammer is brought down on these two.”

“That makes sense,” Sorin said. “What will become of that family, I wonder? Do you have any idea?”

“Not exactly my place to say,” Ayanna replied. “I think that Chancellor Harring is looking for a lighter sentence for the younger prince, considering it was the crown prince that confessed to assassination.”

“I can’t help but feel, though, like we’re still in the dark about what really happened,” Eva said. “Even that prince was being used for someone else’s means. It’s unforgivable is what it is.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not a concern for Dezine and Reiss,” Ayanna said. “All that mattered to them was finding the assassin.”

“Sorin, you don’t think that way, do you?” Eva asked. “Whoever’s out there is still pulling the strings. They might even have their next target in place! I… I can’t allow for that to happen!”

Sorin nodded. “I think she needs to know, too,” he said. “If I know Mina, they’ll still be outside. Shall we?”

“You really need me?” Eva asked.

“There’s not much else we can do right now,” Sorin replied. “I still want to see my father, too, so hopefully he’s out there, too.”

Eva ran a hand through her hair. “Oh, if that’s the case, then I don’t want to go with you. Not if he’s there.”

Sorin wanted to respond, but did not. He saw no reason to convince Eva of going with him, at least not for now. If he wanted to get going back on the journey to Thekohn, he would have to talk to Rain. With nothing else to do inside, Sorin headed towards the graveyard in hopes of finding Mina and Rain there.

 

To be continued…

 

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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 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

Sundown – Chapter 14 (Part 2)

[10th of September, 2740 AD; Executive Hotel, Alto Bar – Deca District]

 

Law waited and waited at the bar with Gavin and Eva as people walked in and out of the doors. He had a feeling that Amile would pass through eventually and it would be with his brother. There was little that Law could do right now, so he turned back over to Eva.

“So what’s your drink of choice?” Law asked.

“I usually sit back with a Welsblaek Choice,” Eva replied. “Of course, during the war, I barely touched the stuff.”

Law rested his arm on the side of the bar. “But now’s a different story?”

“It helps me sometimes,” she said. “That’s… all I’ll say to that.”

“Say no more,” Law said, turning his focus over to Gavin. “What’s say you that we get some beers here before the prince drops by?”

“I’ve no idea why you chose a bar of all places,” Gavin said.

“You don’t understand at all,” Law said, “Prince Ahnle is a man who loves only one thing: women who can stroke his ego, among other things. Fortunately, that’s something I can somewhat relate to.”

“No skirting around the bullshit this time, I see,” Gavin replied.

Law shook his head. “In any environment, gratification is the main motivator for many of our actions,” he said. “It just so happens that his is of a more sensual nature, though my desires are more passionate given the fact that I’m a hopeless romantic.”

“Just get to the point,” Eva said.

“Fine, fine, you two win this round,” he said. “We’re here because I know for a fact that Amile cannot resist the call of alcohol and the chance to engage young, alluring women in hopes to conduct whatever unspeakable acts he can think of to them.”

“All of this while blind, though?” Gavin asked. “Forget it, you probably already have an answer for that.”

Fifteen minutes passed and soon, like Law said, Amile and Amos arrived. Amos looked around and spotted the three and tried to turn Amile around, but the taller man in shades thrusted his way through.

“Come on, I’ve earned the right to stroll the bar,” Amile said. “Maybe I’ll even earn the favor of a right doll!”

“But those two… they’re here,” Amos replied.

“Those two?” Amile asked.

Law got up out of his seat and walked towards the princes. “Ah, Prince Ahnle, I’ve been waiting to meet you!”

“Oh, so that’s what you mean, Amos,” Amile said. “I figure that the boisterous one is here as well?”

“He’s here, all right,” Law said. “Why not join us?”

Amile laughed as Amos tugged at his sleeve. “Unfortunately for you, I’ve got other plans,” he said. “Plans that don’t involve you, bud.”

“Oh, but come on, prince,” Law replied, “I think if we really got to know each other better, you’d find that you and I have a lot more in common than you think.”

“I think I’ll pass,” Amile answered.

He and Amos turned away and began to walk off. Law just shrugged and shook his head.

“I guess you’re not worried, then,” Law said.

Amile stopped in his tracks. “Excuse me?”

“Brother, let’s go,” Amos said.

“Not now,” Amile said. “What are you talking about, bud?”

“Talk with us and we’ll tell you,” Law replied.

“You’re not going to let go of this, are you?” Amile asked. “It’s like you’re that little piece of tissue that sticks to the bottom of my shoe.”

“He’s just being an annoyance,” Amos said. “There’s nothing to gain here.”

“Silence, Amos!” Amile replied. “I guess I will entertain your little group, after all, bud.”

“Then let’s head up,” Law said.

He led the brothers up to the bar where Gavin and Eva were still sitting. Gavin had a scowl upon his face while Eva remained indifferent as she stared Amile down. The two princes sat down as Law took his seat.

“So Amos is telling me that you’ve got a lady with you,” Amile said as Amos whispered into his ear. “Maybe the doll would like to introduce herself?”

“What did you just call me?” Eva asked.

“I’m asking you what your name is, doll,” Amile said. “It’s always a good thing for a pretty lass like you to pay me the attention I deserve.”

Eva lowered her hand down to the sword at her hip. “Do you have a death wish?”

“Um, Eva, perhaps you should still your hand for now,” Law said. “We’re trying to make a good impression here…”

“If that’s how it is, I’ll put up with this charade,” she answered. “My name is Eva. I don’t want to shake your hand, however.”

Amile chuckled. “It’s fine with me,” he replied. “My right arm’s been aching all over for a while now. Wrist, shoulder, hand… you name it!”

“When did you hurt your arm?” Law asked. “It can’t have been before the tournament, because you were quite impressive or so I’ve heard.”

“That’s not a thing I’m just going to disclose to you,” Amile said. “Besides, I’ve a doctor’s papers that detail my injury.”

“I trust that you can produce this paper, then,” Law said.

“Trust that it exists, bud,” Amile replied. “Anyway, I want to know a little bit more about Eva doll here. What’s a young woman like you doing in a place like this, and with these two no less?”

Eva set her drink down. “To hear you call me young would almost be flattering if it was from anyone else,” she said. “Needless to say, I have my own reasons for being here.”

“It must be so difficult hanging around these two,” Amile said. “Is there any chance I could earn your attention for later?”

“That depends on whether or not you want a broken arm,” she answered.

“I see that you’re an ice cold one,” Amile replied.

“You’d do best not to provoke me,” Eva said. “I was once known as one of the most feared warriors in the land. ‘Eva the Killer,’ they called me.”

“Brother, I think it’s time to go now,” Amos said.

“Think again!” Amile exclaimed. “So you insist upon that moniker, doll?”

“If you really want to know, dumbass, then let her demonstrate,” Gavin said. “Now stop fucking around and engage us.”

Amile laughed as he put his hand on the counter. “Guess he doesn’t want me to find out, huh? It doesn’t matter to me, anyway,” he said. “What is it you really want from me?”

“Glad to see that you’re friendly to us,” Law said. “As for why I wished to talk with you, it’s about the news earlier.”

“The news earlier?” Amile asked. “Oh, you mean the assassination of the prime minister. Yes, what of it?”

“You must be nervous stepping into this country during such a trying time,” Law replied. “Seeing a high-ranking official taken down must give you a little caution, wouldn’t it?”

“Bud, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Amile said. “I’ve only just recently arrived, after all. What could any assassin want with me?”

“Perhaps they’re not done yet,” Law said. “The Neu Thekohnian Order has been rising up in various places lately and some of the rumors I’ve heard connect them with this assassination.”

“You believe they have something to do with this?” Amile asked.

“It’s a possibility,” Gavin said. “That’s… why we’re asking for your help.”

“My help, you say? I had no idea I was this needed,” Amile replied. “I don’t know how much help you expect me to be, seeing as I lack sight, but I can provide a little insight into the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

Law leaned forward. “Do tell.”

“Their leader is ruthless and a criminal,” Amile said. “Jelka Arne is someone who will not stop until the entire Thekohnian Region is toppled, and the Neu Thekohnian Order is merely an extension of Arne.”

“And is that all you know?” Law asked.

“That’s as much as I know,” he answered. “Those guys are no joke, I assure you. One wrong step and you’ll be on their bad side in an instant.”

“I take that your country has had prior knowledge of them?” Eva asked.

“Oh, yes indeed, doll,” Amile replied. “The Neu Thekohnian Order was founded in Ahnlikohn and they have been a problem for us for a while now. Even the queen’s men have been busy in dealing with these terrorists.”

“All the more reason for you to cooperate,” Law said. “After all, these aren’t simple ruffians going about.”

“I don’t think that’s necessary, Mr. Power,” Amos said. “We’ve got soldiers of our own protecting us.”

“Did I say a single word about protection?” Law asked. “I only want information about who did the prime minister in. Surely you would like to see the one responsible take responsibility for their misdeed, wouldn’t you agree, prince?”

Amile stood up. “That’s more of a thing for Iiayikohn to handle,” he said. “It’s a crime committed on Iiayi turf, which has no interest to us.”

“But didn’t you just say that your country was dealing with the Neu Thekohnian Order as well?” Eva asked.

“That’s not a job for me,” Amile replied. “My job is to kick back, have fun, and meet as many beautiful girls as possible.”

“Some use you are, asshole!” Gavin said.

“Don’t let it get you down, bud,” Amile said. “Even if I were to come in contact with this assassin, I certainly would put up a better fight than the prime minister did.”

Amos tapped on Amile’s shoulder. “It’s best we go now.”

“Before you do, let me say one thing,” Law said, “I believe I’ve gotten you all wrong, Prince Ahnle.”

“What do you mean?” Amile asked.

“I thought that you were merely a fool,” Law replied. “Honestly, though, I feel like we might have more in common than you think.”

“I’d like to hear this,” Amile said, “After all, I need a good laugh.”

“Laugh all you want, prince, but I’m serious,” Law said. “I’ll let you in on something: this isn’t the type of place that’s great for picking up women.”

“You’ve piqued my interest, Mr. Power,” Amile replied. “Where is this place exactly?”

Law pulled a napkin and pen aside and began writing. “I’ll pass this note onto Amos,” he said. “I trust you’ll be able to make it there around this same time tomorrow?”

“Don’t you think you’re being too friendly?” Amos asked.

“I’m not talking to you, though,” Law said as he handed the note to Amos. “You just do what the note says and meet me there.”

“Then I take that you have the best place,” Amile said. “Tomorrow it is then, bud. Now, dear Amos, let’s be off!”

Amile and Amos left the bar as Law chuckled to himself. He turned looked back over at Gavin and Eva who were still sitting down in their seats.

Law sat down next to Eva. “Were you not impressed?”

“I’m more impressed she didn’t eviscerate him on the spot,” Gavin said.

“The only reason I didn’t do it was because I didn’t want to start a fight here of all places,” she said.

“It certainly wouldn’t be good for the rest of these people to have a fight break out,” Law said. “Either way, my hunch is looking pretty strong right about now.”

Gavin picked up his drink. “It seemed unlikely,” he said as he took a sip.

“What’s the next course of action, Law?” Eva asked.

“I’m going to meet him, obviously,” Law answered. “I’m assuming that his little brother’s got no say in the matter and will lead him to the location.”

“If that’s the case, I’m going to go with you,” Gavin said. “Despite his behavior, I have a feeling that he’s not the type to fold immediately.”

“Bro, if this were a poker game, he’d lose quickly,” Law replied.

“This isn’t a game, though,” Eva said. “Not when lives are at stake, and especially not when it’s Alan’s.”

“And that’s why I need you to contact Ayanna,” Law said. “We’re going to attempt to corner Prince Ahnle, one way or another. We won’t let him get away with what he did.”

 

*****

 

[10th of September, 2740 AD; Tranquil Cardinal Inn, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Several stares directed toward Victor Wihll, who sat at the edge of the lounge as Sorin and the others tried to decide on what to do next. There was no way that they could leave him alone and there was certainly no way they could move forward with their mission, either. Gale eyed the phone fastened on the wall and turned to Sorin.

“First things first, before we listen to him, we should inform Iiayikohn about this,” she said. “I wonder if we’ll be able to speak to Ayanna, though.”

“It wouldn’t hurt to try,” Sorin said.

“Then I’ll make the call,” Gale said as she got up.

Wihll looked over at Noa. “So tell me, Mr. Mzade,” he said, “The tragedy of Kals Dale impacted you greatly. Why, I ask, do you associate with these cretins?”

“To be honest, it’s because they’re the only ones who haven’t completely treated me like shit,” Noa replied.

“It seems like they’re just dragging you along,” Wihll said.

“Maybe they are,” Noa said as he viewed Rain out of the corner of his eye. “Maybe you guys are just setting me up to take the fall later…”

“We wouldn’t just drag you along, Noa,” Rain said. “That’s not my intention, nor is it anybody else’s.”

“Reassurance means nothing when it comes from the elite,” Wihll said. “Are you to say that you really care about any of these people? Can you say that to my face, even after all of what your family did alongside Ameci and Iiayi forces?”

“I know what has happened in the past, Victor, and I apologize on behalf of the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn for it,” Rain replied.

Wihll scoffed. “You truly are an ignorant princess,” he said. “Apologies won’t bring back my village nor will it bring back his family.”

He pointed over to Noa, who could only hang his head low.

“You might as well be spitting in my face,” Wihll continued. “To have the nerve to talk down to me like I’m some child is an insult to all of Maeitakohn!”

“What… can I do?” Rain asked.

“I’ve been wronged my whole life and still I live this joke,” Wihll said. “Yet you think by asking me you can attempt to absolve yourself of your crimes? Nonsense! It’s all complete nonsense with you!”

Rain had no response for him. There was nothing that she could say.

“No answer, huh,” Wihll said. “You leave people like me and Noa off as an afterthought and attempt to act as if you’ve got all the answers. What good comes out of the royal family when they continue to look us over?”

Mina sprung up to her feet. “Don’t let him get to you, Rain!”

“I don’t believe I was talk to you, was I?” Wihll asked.

“I’ve had with you, you villain!” Mina exclaimed. “You want to act like none of us care about what’s been going on, but it’s you who’s careless!”

“You’ve got some nerve sticking up for her,” Wihll replied. “I thought heroes were supposed to be against criminals?”

“The only criminal here is you!” Mina said. “You’re the one who’s destroyed and taken lives, not Rain!”

“If you’re going to call me a criminal, then you may as well call Noa one, too,” Wihll said.

“What? I’m not a criminal!” Noa replied.

“Noa is nothing like you!” Mina said. “Sure he’s not exactly heroic or exceptional, but he’s not as heinous as you!”

“And you really have no leg to stand on,” Sorin added. “The moment Gale is done with that call, we’re making sure that you won’t wreak havoc on anyone ever again.”

Wihll turned away and faced the wall. “Seems I’m as insignificant as ever.”

“You guys really don’t think I’m a bad guy at all, do you?” Noa asked.

“Not at all,” Sorin replied. “You just need to be more confident about yourself is all.”

“And even if you can’t be confident, we’ll be confident for you,” Mina said. “That’s one of our jobs as heroes!”

“Thanks,” Noa said.

“I’d like to thank you both as well,” Rain said. “I just had no idea what to say. I’m sorry about that.”

“You’re both welcome,” Sorin said.

Gale hung up the phone and looked back at the group. “I’m sorry to intervene on this moment, but I’ve got some news,” she said. “I called Ayanna, but it seems like she wasn’t at home.”

Sorin nodded. “Okay.”

“So I called the prime minister’s office instead and informed them,” Gale said. “Unfortunately, Ayanna wasn’t there, either.”

“But you did let them know, right?” Sorin asked.

“I did,” Gale replied. “There should be some soldiers heading over soon.”

“Then we’ve got nothing to worry about,” Sorin said. “Anyway, Noa, I was wondering if it was okay to hear your story.”

“My story?” Noa asked. “You mean… about what happened to my family?”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Sorin replied.

“No, it’s fine,” he answered. “If I want to be more confident like you said, then I have to conquer my past and not let it haunt me. I’ll talk.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 13 (Part 1)

[10th of September, 2740 AD; on the train to Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

There was a comforting feeling in Sorin’s mind knowing that he and the others were on the way over to Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. His view out of the window gave him a fast paced glimpse of the ever-changing scenery, the miles upon miles of flatlands zooming past with the occasional group of trees as well. It was the first time that he or Gale ever rode such a luxurious machine before and Sorin had the feeling that it was the same for Mina, given her intense admiration and looking around of the grand interior.

“It’s so big!” Mina said in awe. “This must be one of the coolest things you ever get to do as a princess, huh, Rain?”

“Well, riding these trains is something that I never get tired of,” Rain said. “Sometimes I just like to sit back and relax while I’m waiting to get to my destination.”

“Is that all we can do for now?” Mina asked.

“You did mention a dining cart on the train,” Sorin said to Rain. “Perhaps we can take a look at it while we wait.”

Mina gasped. “That sounds amazing,” she said. “Let’s go right now!”

“That isn’t that surprising to hear from you, honestly,” Gale said. “That dining cart’s not that far from where we are, is it?”

“Oh, not at all,” Rain answered. “It’s only a stroll from this cart, so there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”

“Happy to hear that,” Sorin said. “Is Noa going with us?”

“Actually, there was something I did want to ask him,” Rain said. “Perhaps I should ask him myself.”

She got out of her seat and walked over to Noa, who was sitting by himself near one of the windows. Noa immediately reacted with his eyes wide and mouth open as he squirmed out of his seat and onto the floor.

Rain giggled. “We’re taking a little walk around the train,” she said. “You wouldn’t mind joining us, would you, Noa?”

“Of… of course not, Your Highness!” Noa replied. “You guys aren’t just doing this to call me out in private and make me look stupid, are you?”

“That’s not our intention at all,” Sorin said.

“Really?” Noa asked. “I guess I can trust you…”

“What are we waiting for, then?” Mina asked. “Come on, let’s go see what they’ve got in the dining hall!”

Mina grabbed Noa by the arm and dragged him along. Sorin did his best not to laugh as Gale and Rain followed after the two. The trek was not that long, as Rain said, and soon they found themselves within the dining cart of the train. There were tables lined up on either side of the cart as the five made their way to one of the tables.

“We’ve got some time before we arrive, so it wouldn’t hurt,” Rain said. “Excuse me, waiter!”

One of the waiters came up to the table and proceeded to take everybody’s order. He then went off and left them to themselves. While Mina anticipated the food, Rain, Sorin, and Gale turned to Noa.

“Is… is there something on my face?” Noa asked. He quickly felt his face, checking to see if something was indeed on his face.

“No, we just want to talk to you,” Sorin said. “If you’re travelling with us, then perhaps you’d like to tell us about yourself.”

Noa clasped his hands. “Why do you suddenly want to know about me? I’m not that interesting at all!”

“But everyone has a story of their own to tell!” Mina said. She pounded her fists on the table. “Come on, Noa! Noa! Noa!”

“There’s only one thing I want to know from you, Noa,” Rain said while Mina continued to chant. “Something had been bothering me for a while and I believe I’ve figured out why.”

“Oh?” Noa asked.

“When you came to Iiayikohn, it was because you thought that Sorin was Rysol,” Rain said. “I would assume that the reason you sought Rysol is because of his connection to Maeitakohn, am I correct?”

“That’s not something I would know,” Noa replied. “I was just told to do it and to take my time.”

“You never questioned the order your general gave you?” Gale asked.

“But if I did find the real Rysol Wilk, he’d probably try to attack me,” Noa muttered to himself. “What the hell am I supposed to do?”

Gale sighed. “He didn’t hear me, did he?”

“What do you know about Rysol?” Sorin asked to Noa, who was still talking to himself. “Noa! This is important, so please answer me!”

Noa broke out of his daze. “Ah! Why did you raise your voice all of a sudden?”

“I need you to answer my question,” Sorin said, “Do you know anything at all about Rysol?”

“From what I’ve heard, he’s quite possibly the scariest man in the Thekohnian Region,” Noa answered. “Even more so than the True Thekohnians and Neu Thekohnian Order put together!”

“You’ve never seen him before?” Sorin asked.

“Not a single sight of the man,” Noa said. “That day when President Rhodes died, I was not feeling well at all. If not for that, I might not even be sitting here with you today.”

“Was it food related?” Mina asked. “Because one time I ate a piece of meat that was undercooked and it left me going to the bathroom all night! It’s something I really wished I forgot…”

“I don’t think that that’s really important or necessary,” Sorin said as he looked back over to Noa. “Can I ask you about your opinion of Rhodes?”

“Well, he’s dead, so why should it matter?” Noa wondered.

“It must have affected you,” Mina said. “I mean I can understand now that Prime Minister Berry is gone… You weren’t sad?”

“The difference between the leadership of Berry and that of Rhodes is huge,” Noa replied. “In Maeitakohn, the only people that truly mattered to Rhodes were those in the north. Us south Maeita are merely an afterthought.”

“Even with the new leader, I’ve heard that it’s still turbulent,” Gale said.

“Rodik Mahrk,” Rain said. “I did meet him personally but still I know little about him.”

“He’s just a mask, I bet,” Noa said. “A mask for whoever the real leader is.”

“You sound so sure about that,” Rain replied.

“It’s a poorly kept secret, but every Maeita knows that the presidency in Maeitakohn is a farce,” Noa answered as he stared out the window. “Nobody will say it out loud, but I know that’s what everybody thinks.”

“Seems like there’s a lot of unfinished business in that country,” Sorin said.

“Well, it’s only a matter of time before the valve bursts,” Noa replied. “Perhaps it’s for the best that I don’t go back there…”

There was a long moment of silence after that as Noa continued to look outside. Sorin rapped his fingers on the table in a calm meter while Gale read through one of the brochures. On the other side of the table, Mina turned her head and tried to find the waiter. Rain, meanwhile, decided to move on from the previous topic and tried to start a new subject.

“If you still want to talk, Noa, then tell me what your goal is,” she said.

“My goal?” Noa asked. “I… Well, I don’t want to say. You’d probably think it’s ridiculous and mock me if I share it with you all.”

“We’re not going to judge you,” Gale said. “At least as long as this goal is within reasonability.”

Noa took a deep breath. “Guess I won’t say it, after all.”

With that, Noa lowered his head and gazed down at the floor below. As that happened, Sorin heard the creaking of wheels as the waiter quickly approached the group’s table with their food on a cart. The conversation would have to take place another time, Sorin thought to himself.

 

*****

 

[10th of September, 2740 AD; New Prime Minister’s Office, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

“Our first order of business is to gather information,” Law said. “That’s why we came to you, Ayanna.”

“I understand your concerns,” she said, “However, it’s going to be tough going forward considering Dezine’s statements.”

As Gavin, Law, and Eva entered Ayanna’s office, they could hear the vice prime minister’s voice coming out of the radio. Wilson Dezine was to assume a temporary role until a new prime minister was placed. He also expressed a strong desire to promote a sense of responsibility and said there would be further examples to be made. Finally, Dezine closed by saying that there were going to be drastic changes within the military and government, which would start as soon as possible

“Are you worried?” Law asked.

“I’m not worried about having to face Dezine later,” Ayanna replied. “I know that General Reiss will be there and we’ll both try to lower the amount of casualties within the military.”

“I’d like to speak to this Dezine for myself,” Eva said.

“Given what’s happened, I doubt any of us will get to speak with him,” Gavin said. “Everyone is on high alert and they’ll be looking for somebody to put the blame on if the assassin isn’t found soon.”

“Which is why I can’t help you right now,” Ayanna said. “Not with everybody running around.”

At that moment, the phone rang. Ayanna immediately picked it up and placed the receiver to her ear.

“Yes, hello?” Ayanna asked. There was a momentary break as Ayanna clutched onto the receiver. “Yes, send them in.” Another brief pause followed. “No, they’re here officially. I’ll handle them.”

With that, Ayanna thanked the other person and hung up the phone.

“Do you want us to go now?” Gavin asked.

“You’re free to step out,” Ayanna answered. “Looks like I’ve got a personal meeting with Prince Ahnle.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Gavin said.

“Can’t be sorry if it was worthwhile, bud,” Amile said.

Amos led Amile inside the room as Gavin and Law moved to the side. Eva turned and gazed at the two princes as she soon moved aside. As Amile sat down, Amos whispered his ear.

“I see,” Amile said. “Your group shrunk quite a bit, hasn’t it, Mr. Power?”

“You’re supposed to be speaking to the lieutenant general,” Gavin replied. “We were just about to step out.”

“Great to hear,” Amile replied. “After all, I’ve got serious business to attend to with someone much more important than you.”

“Pay him no attention, brother,” Amos said.

“If you do wish to talk with me further, Mr. Power, I’ll be at the Executive Hotel later today,” Amile continued. “Anyway, how are you doing now, lovely lieutenant general Ansa?”

“As you can probably tell, it is busy around here,” Ayanna replied. “I’ve only got a few minutes, so I would suggest that you make it quick.”

“Oh, it’s not much,” Amile said. “I cannot even begin to even imagine how stressful it must be for the second in command to have to deal with the loss of their leader.”

“Yes, well, we’re taking it one step at a time, Your Highness,” Ayanna said.

“Well, who am I to get in the way?” Amile asked. “Shooting a man in cold blood is no laughing matter and the fact that it happens to be the prime minister of your proud country only cuts the wound deeper, I’d say.”

At that point, Gavin looked over to Law. “Hey, let’s go.”

“Very well,” Law said. “I shall see you later, Ayanna. As for you, Prince Amile, perhaps me and my bro will take you up on your offer.”

He, Gavin, and Eva left Ayanna’s office as the the princes proceeded to have their discussion with Ayanna. Out in the hallway, things were finally starting to calm down as most of the people earlier had cleared out of the building. With the quiet hall to themselves, the three moved over to the other side.

“What a fucking pest,” Gavin said.

“Maybe, but I think we really should pay him a visit later,” Law said. “Call it a hunch, bro.”

“I’ve got to say I’m a bit out of the loop,” Eva said, “What exactly did that man do to earn your ire, Gavin?”

Gavin crossed his arms. “Don’t want to talk about it.”

“Eva, it’s not at all important to know why the prince pisses us off,” Law answered. “What is important is his opinion about the assassination.”

“Do you really think that this affects his sorry ass?” Gavin asked.

Law pointed a finger to his temple. “Trust this brain of mine,” he replied. “Who is to say that the prince isn’t the next target? For all we know, this assassin has it out for those at the top.”

“And you think he might be next,” Eva said. “If that’s true, then it would be worth our time to pursue Prince Amile and gain some information from him.”

“I refuse,” Gavin said.

“Come on, bro, it’s not every day we get to see a member of royalty,” Law said.

“That’s literally what we’ve been doing the past few days, dumbass!”

“Sure, Rain has been very nice to us,” Law said, “But maybe we owe Amile and Amos the chance to get things on the right foot.”

“Do you want me to punch you now or later?” Gavin asked.

“Stand down, Gavin,” Eva said. “I’ve no idea what Law’s presumptions are, but I’m willing to accept that there is merit to what he’s saying.”

“This must be a mistake,” Gavin said. “I want nothing at all to do with that shithead and you can’t change my mind about that!”

He turned around and started to walk away. Law shrugged as he looked over at Eva, who was staring intently at the door to Ayanna’s office. The faint voice of Prince Amile could be heard, which was followed by the sound of his laughter.

“Something up?” Law asked.

“It’s nothing,” Eva replied. “I was only wondering why this man still went through with his visit with Ayanna.”

“He’s representing his country, after all,” Law said. “Nobody saw Alan’s death coming at all, or at least that’s what I would like to think.”

“I see,” she said. “Are you going to check up on your brother?”

Law sighed. “That’s something I’m not going to do,” he replied. “Not right now, anyway. Best to let him collect his thoughts before I go speak with him.”

“Maybe I should go talk to him instead,” Eva said.

“Do what you want,” Law said.

“It’s just a thought I had,” she replied.

“Well, as long as we’re sharing thoughts, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of,” he said, “I’m thinking that we should share a hug right now. Don’t you agree?”

Eva jabbed Law in his side with the butt of her sword, which made him reel back. “And here I thought you’d matured,” she said.

“Damn, you didn’t have to stick me that hard,” Law replied, rubbing his side. “If that’s your reaction to a hug, I can’t imagine what your reaction would be to whatever that crown prince suggests.”

“Consider it a warning,” Eva said.

“I understand,” Law said. “Anyway, you only just got here, so you’ve no idea about the type of person Prince Amile is. Judging by your reaction to me, I would think he’d earn a quick reprimand at least.”

“Still, we might have to talk with him,” she replied.

“Not a matter of ‘might,’ Eva,” Law said. “I will talk with him and I will put on the biggest shit-eating grin as long as it means gaining information.”

It was then at that point when Gavin returned. He had been thinking over about what Law had said and decided to meet him face to face.

“So, is there something you’d like to say to me, bro?” Law asked. “Perhaps ‘sorry’ or something to that effect?”

“Don’t push it,” Gavin said.

“Then you’ll see this through, I take it,” Eva said. “What do you believe is the next course of action, then, Law?”

“We wait, obviously,” Law answered. “Fortunately for us, you are staying over at the hotel, so getting there is no problem.”

“Do you really think he’d want to talk with us?” Gavin asked. “Not that I’d want to speak to him, either, but I have trouble believing he’d give us the time.”

“As long as I do most of the talking, I think we’ll be fine,” Law said. “Guys like him like to poke just to get a reaction but as long as you shut up, he won’t go off as much.”

“Lawrence, I know you didn’t just tell me to shut up right now,” Gavin said, “Or maybe you’d like to repeat what you just said?”

“I’d rather not,” Law replied. “As for you, Eva, one thing I do know is that Amile can’t resist the soothing call of a woman’s voice. Perhaps you could spend some time sweet-talking him?”

Eva glared at Law. “That’s not going to happen.”

“Are you asking me to kick your ass right now?” Gavin asked.

“I’m asking for suggestions,” Law said. “Just consider what I said to be… my ideas for how we can proceed with the prince.”

Gavin shook his head. “You’re a terrible liar,” he said, “But seeing as we’ve got little to lose, I’m going to with you share my opinion.”

“Go ahead,” Law said.

“You’ll go ahead and lead the discussion,” Gavin replied, “However, if this encounter with the prince leads us to nowhere, then I’m going to take over.”

“Is that it?” Law asked. “You must really believe in me that much. Fine then, I’ve got no problems with that.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Gavin said.

“Looks like you two have got things sorted out,” Eva said. “So, are we going to head off now?”

Law looked around. “There’s not much we can do here, anyway,” he said. “Best to get a good head start on our prince, right?”

“True enough,” Eva replied.

Seeing as there was no other reason to stay in the offices, the three left for the Executive Hotel. Law was certain that this would be the lead into who killed Alan and he had a hunch that the prince would have a lot to say on the matter. That, however, would have to wait until the next time they met.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 12 (Part 1)

[10th of September, 2740 AD; New Prime Minister’s Office, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

Eva rushed through to the inside of the office past the crowd of soldiers at the door and through the hallway. She had to find her answer even if it proved to be one that Eva did not want to hear. As she hurried through, Eva bumped into Ayanna at the base of the stairs.

“Hello, Eva,” Ayanna said. “I’m sorry but I can’t stop to speak with you.”

“Just tell me what’s going on,” Eva replied. “What happened to Alan? Tell me!”

Ayanna turned away. “I’m very sorry,” she said. “I know how much he meant to you, but…”

“No… you can’t be serious,” Eva said.

“We’re planning to break the news in an hour,” Ayanna said. “It’s been hell trying to hold this off because even I don’t want to believe it, but it’s the truth.”

Eva knelt as she focused on the floor. “This is all a dream, isn’t it? A terrible, awful dream that I just need to wake up from.”

“I can only give you my deepest sympathies,” Ayanna replied, “But you can’t just stay there on the floor forever. Would Alan have wanted to see you like this?”

“Just tell me who did it,” Eva said. “Tell me so I can find the asshole who decided to take Alan’s life and kill them myself.”

“We’re still trying to figure that out.”

“Then work harder, lieutenant general!” Eva exclaimed. “Right now, someone is walking around free and you can’t just let them get away with it!”

She stood up and gripped the handle of her sword while her free hand clenched into a fist.

“Because… because if you let them get away, then Alan’s death will never be avenged!”

“Eva, wait!”

Ayanna’s words came too late, however, as Eva decided to leave the building and head off. There had to be a way she could bring Alan some peace, Eva thought, as she tried to find out who killed him. To Eva, Alan was more than just a prime minister. He was more than just the leader of the Swords of Eight. For her, Alan was very meaningful friend who believed in her when no one else did and gave her the chance to prove herself.

“I will make this right, Alan, I swear,” Eva said. “Whoever did this, I’m going to make sure that they’ll never breathe another breath!”

“There you are!” Gavin shouted.

He sprinted to Eva, who turned around and stood up. Law was right behind Gavin as the two brothers joined up with Eva.

“Glad we were both right, bro,” Law said. “Eva, I’m sorry you had to learn about what happened this way.”

“Are you done?” Eva asked. “Because I really don’t want any pity.”

“We’re not here to pity you,” Gavin replied. “I know how you feel, but whatever it is you’re planning to do is probably foolish.”

Eva grumbled. “You’re okay with letting a murderer walk?”

“No, not at all,” Gavin said. “Believe me when I say I want whoever’s responsible behind bars.”

“Prison is too good for Alan’s killer,” Eva said. “The only good would be for me to find them and kill them myself.”

“You can’t just do that,” Gavin said.

“Of course I can,” Eva replied as she eyed the sword at her hip. “I’m not afraid to kill, especially when they’ve already killed those I hold dear to me.”

“Well, I don’t blame ya,” Law said. “I’d love to just meet this person myself and give them the one-two but without any lead, we’re stuck.”

“Especially when we have no idea who carried this out,” Gavin added. “It could’ve been anyone out there.”

“No, it couldn’t have been,” Eva said. “What happened here, whoever killed Alan had a reason to want him dead. It had to be somebody important.”

Gavin sighed. “I understand that. I do.”

“Then you’d understand why I want to do this,” she replied.

“Look, we’re getting nowhere,” Law said. “Let’s pay Ayanna a quick visit while we’re still here and try to move things forward.”

Gavin adjusted his sunglasses. “I’m going to tell you one thing, Eva,” he said, “We’ll find out who killed Alan. No one assassinates the prime minister and gets away with it as long as I’m around.”

 

*****

 

[10th of September, 2740 AD; Executive Hotel, Entrance Lobby – Deca District]

 

Noa stood frozen in place as he stared Sorin down. Nobody said a single word, which allowed for the ambient sounds of cars passing by and people walking to be heard.

“Excuse me, but how do you know about Rysol?” Sorin asked

“Are you lying to my face?” Noa asked. “Who else could mistake the long hair and sword by your side? It’s… it’s so painfully obvious!”

Sorin raised an eyebrow. “You have long hair, too, you know.”

“Hey, don’t call me out on that!” Noa exclaimed as he placed his hands on either side of his head. “All I know is that I received a request to target Rysol Wilk and I know you look similar to him, so there!”

“Just because we have similar traits doesn’t mean we’re the same person,” Sorin replied.

“Besides, you’ve got the wrong person,” Gale said. “Sorin is Rysol’s younger brother.”

Rain took a step forward. “May I ask something?”

“I… I know who you are, too!” Noa said. “You’re the princess of Thekohn!”

“Indeed, it is I,” Rain said. “I can see that you hail from the Maeitakohn military. Exactly what brought you here today, besides the obvious reason?”

“You asked me a question,” Noa replied. “Oh god, I’ve never had a girl ask me a question before, much less talk to me… What do I do?”

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” Gale said.

“Even I didn’t expect that the princess would be speaking to me as if it were nothing,” Noa continued. “Dear lord, she’s even more pretty than I imagined!”

“He’s still talking to himself,” Sorin said.

Gale shook her head. “Hopeless.”

“I’m sorry,” Noa said. “N-No I’m not! What am I saying!? It was because of you that I came here, Rysol Wilk!”

“You’re sorely mistaken,” Sorin said.

“Sorin’s got nothing to do with you, you weirdo!” Mina said. “If you don’t stop harassing him, I’ll clobber you!”

Noa dropped to his knees and raised his arms above his head. “Please don’t hurt me!”

“I think you should just answer my question,” Rain said. “It’s not at all that difficult.”

“Can’t say,” Noa replied. “Can I just go now?”

Mina walked up to Noa and grabbed him by his shirt. “Explain yourself!”

“It’s not at my liberty to disclose that!” Noa shrieked. “I really don’t want to get hurt right now, so please just let me go…”

“I think it’s best if we let him go,” Rain said. “It’s obvious that he’s clearly wrapped up in his own misapprehensions.”

“Yeah, I’m just a nobody,” Noa responded. “I’m just a dummy whose got no business being here!”

“Fine, then,” Mina said as she let go. “You wanna know what I think? I think that even a villain would say you’re pathetic.”

“You’re not holding back on him, are you?” Sorin asked.

“I was being nice,” Mina replied.

“I’m just going to go… now,” Noa said.

Noa jumped up to his feet and dashed off. No one had any desire to stop him, at least not until Sorin noticed that Noa left his bag behind. Sorin walked up to the bag and tried to pick it up, to which he found that it weighed more than he expected it to weigh.

“What the hell is in this thing?” Sorin asked.

“Let’s find out!” Mina said.

“I don’t think it’d be right to look,” Sorin replied. “Who knows what secrets are in here.”

He set the bag back down and looked at it again. If it was similar to the bag that Noa had in Glora, perhaps there would be a reason to look. Sorin decided against it, however, and turned to Rain and Gale.

“So do you think we should wait for him?” Rain asked. “It would be rather unfortunate should that bag go missing.”

“No, let’s just head over to the prime minister’s office,” Mina said as she lifted the bag up over her shoulder. “I’ll take care of this thing no problem!”

“That’s what I expected you to do,” Rain said. “Though I do have some difficulty believing that that man will react with delight should he see you holding his possessions.”

“We can worry about that when we find him,” Sorin said. “Or if he happens to find us.”

Mina led the way to the prime minister’s office as Rain, Gale, and Sorin followed after her. Despite everyone looking out for Noa, there was no sign of him anywhere as the four closed in on their destination. Outside, Eva was already speaking with Gavin and Law as the others decided to join in.

“What’s going on?” Mina asked.

“Just waiting to get in,” Law replied. “We’ve settled things down so Sorin doesn’t have to worry about Eva.”

“I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you,” Sorin said.

“You had a reason not to,” Eva said. “My only wish is that we didn’t have to meet under these circumstances.”

“I agree with you,” Sorin replied.

“Anyway, we’ve got no idea where we can go from here,” Gavin said. “Right now, Eva’s pretty much set on finding whoever’s responsible and dealing with them herself. I’ve got to admit it’s also something I want to do, too.”

“Because of the bounty?” Gale asked.

Gavin sighed. “You must think that low of me to believe that I’m only in for the pounds,” he said. “It’s hardly about any of that when there are much bigger things are at stake.”

“It’s up to us three, then,” Law said. “Eva, you will not believe how amazing I’ve gotten during the past few months.”

“Is that so?” Eva asked. “Well, I hope you’re ready to show it.”

Law reached to his hair and flicked it. “Don’t worry, I’m always ready to impress when given the chance.”

“Anyway, I was wondering why Mina’s lugging that around,” Eva said.

Mina placed the bag down on the ground. “Oh, this? It’s just something some guy dropped and we’re hoping to get it back to him soon.”

“Speaking of which, isn’t that him over there?” Rain asked.

She pointed over to Noa, who stood across the street surrounded by a couple of Iiayikohnian officers.

“I don’t know anything,” Noa said. “Please just let me be!”

“Hey, you!” Mina exclaimed.

Noa turned his head and yelped as soon as he saw Mina. “Oh no, no, no, no, no! Not you again!”

As she picked the bag up, Mina ran towards Noa and the two officers. Both of the officers moved towards her as Mina set the bag down again.

“Excuse me, miss, but we’re busy here,” the clean shaven officer said.

“Yeah, we’d appreciate it if you’d go along,” the other officer said. “This isn’t exactly a place for civilians to be right now.”

“No, I’m here because he dropped this bag,” Mina said. “You forgot this over at the hotel; my friend Sorin couldn’t even lift it!”

The other officer raised his eyebrow. “Do you have any idea what’s in there, miss?”

“Not a clue!” Mina replied.

“That’s… that’s mine!” Noa said. “You really chose a bad time to give this back to me!”

Noa ran over to the bag and picked it up. However, the clean shaven officer grabbed Noa by the arm and pulled him back.

“What do ya got in that bag?”

Noa pulled his arm away. “It’s just clothes,” he said, “Simply heavy clothes, that’s all!”

“You must have really packed it hard, then,” Mina said, “Because I didn’t expect to be carrying that all over the city.”

“Yes, yes, I thank you,” Noa said, “Now can you just let me go?”

“Not so fast,” the other officer said, “Not until you show us what’s in the bag. If it’s really just clothing, you’ll have no problem, right?”

“Urgh, I’m not comfortable with that,” Noa replied. “You see… it’s, er, women’s clothing! Yes, my… my mother asked me to purchase clothing for all of my sisters! That’s why the bag is so heavy.”

The clean shaven officer let Noa go. “I find that hard to believe, but I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

“Seems like you got lucky,” the other officer added. “If it were up to me, you’d be sitting in a cold, dark cell like the rat that you are.”

Noa whimpered. “I’m sorry I caused you guys trouble!”

The two officers laughed as they walked off. Noa breathed a sigh of relief as the others crossed the street and approached him.

“You know, I really feel bad for you,” Mina said.

“Do you?” Noa asked.

“I wouldn’t lie,” Mina replied. “In fact, I’ve never met someone as pathetic as you before.”

“Wow, Mina, you wasted no time and got right to it,” Law said. “This guy, huh? It would be rude not to ask him his name.”

Noa gripped the strap of his bag. “Why’s that any of your business!?”

“Look, it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that you’re not from around here,” Law answered, “And given that you were just in that scuffle, you are no ordinary person.”

“Are you calling me weird?” Noa asked. “I’m not weird!”

“I don’t think anyone was calling you weird,” Rain said. “You mentioned earlier that you had to take a request. I assume you are a mercenary of sorts?”

“Not at all… not at all,” Noa replied. “I still can’t believe I’m talking to you, it feels so surreal…”

Noa tilted his head and looked off into the sky, lost in thought. Gavin grumbled as he walked up to Noa.

“Stand up straight and look her in the eyes, you fucking fool!” Gavin yelled. “I wasn’t going to say anything to you, but seeing this ridiculous behavior really pisses me off!”

“O-Okay!” Noa replied. “My name’s Noa Mzade, and I’m just a normal guy in the Maeitakohnian military!”

“You’re Noa Mzade?” Eva asked.

“Yes, it’s… who I am,” Noa said. “Please don’t glare at me like that…”

“Do you know him, Eva?” Mina asked.

“No, I was just wondering,” she replied. “Please, carry on.”

Mina turned back to Noa. “So is that bag really full of clothing?”

“Er, that’s what I said,” Noa answered. “Just a bunch of clothing, and…”

“Tell me!” Mina said as she tried to look into Noa’s eyes, which made him away from her in response.

“Gah, I can’t!” Noa said. “It’s a lie!”

“I had a feeling,” Sorin said.

“With the way she looks at me, how could I?” Noa asked. “God, I’ve never received this much attention from a woman before!”

Gavin clenched his fist and punched Noa in the face. “Stop acting like a fucking idiot!”

“You didn’t have to punch me!” Noa exclaimed as he rubbed his face. “Fine, if you must know, I’m enlisted as a sniper, but recently I’ve been taking on these tasks the general gives me. He always sends me off to some far locations.”

“Seems like he’s just finding ways to get you out of his hair,” Law said. “Well, if he’s anything like Rohan Fercewend, then there’s no hair to speak of.”

“Now that I think about it, General Khadir did mention that he’d find a way make me useful,” Noa said. “Was it all just a lie?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Law replied. “Maybe it’s a sign that you should experience new things. Perhaps you should head to Ahnlikohn and climb some mountains; I hear it’s a good time of the year to climb.”

“No thanks,” Noa replied.

“Okay, I tried,” Law said. “Gale, you want to try talking to him?”

“I’m not interested,” she said.

Law chuckled. “Never mind, then,” he said. “Bro, do you have any ideas?”

“We should just talk to Ayanna,” Gavin replied. “This dumbass has no use to us whatsoever and all the time spent here is time we could be using to devise.”

“You and me both,” Law said. “Eva, maybe now’s the time we can get things going.”

“Sounds good to me,” Eva answered.

Law gave a thumbs up. “Alright then, shall we?”

“Wait, you’re just going to go?” Mina asked.

“You’re say that as if we’re never see each other again, Mina,” Law said. “That’s not the Mina I know, not at all. No, she’d eagerly pump her fist in the air and wish me, my bro, and the lovely Eva Bellamy good luck!”

“How could I forget?” Mina said. She hoisted her fist upwards and gave Law a determined look. “Of course you guys will be okay! Wherever you go, Law, I know that you’ve got Gavin and Eva on your side to protect you!”

“So let’s get the hell out of here,” Gavin said. “Later.”

That led Gavin, Law, and Eva to leave and head for the prime minister’s office as Sorin and the others were left to themselves. Noa still stood there, however, with a dumbfounded look upon his face.

“You’re still here?” Gale asked.

“I just realized something,” Noa said, “I’ve got nowhere to go. I’ve failed my mission. How can I show my face to the general after this?”

“What do you mean by that?” Rain wondered.

“I may not look like it, but I’m not exactly the most well liked soldier in the military,” Noa said. “Most people just ignore me at best and treat me like dirt at worst.”

“I’m not surprised,” Gale said.

“Now Gale, perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to remark on Mr. Mzade’s misfortunes,” Rain replied. She turned back over to Noa. “It must be extremely tough having to endure what you went through. Are you sure there’s nowhere else you could head off to?”

Noa shook his head. “That’s a negative, Your Highness,” he said. “The only reason I joined the military was because it offered me shelter when nobody else could.”

“Perhaps, if none of you mind, you could travel with us for the time being?” Rain asked. “That is, if you want to, of course.”

“You mean that seriously?” Noa asked. “I’m… this isn’t one of those pranks you’re just going to play on me and make me look like a fool later, is it?”

“Heaven forbid the thought!” Rain said. “After listening to your story, how could I ignore someone like you?”

“It’s just something that we want to do,” Mina said. “We want to help people, even if they’re pathetic like you.”

“Wow, thanks,” Noa replied.

“Then it looks like that’s settled,” Sorin said. “Rain, if you still want to head over to the prime minister’s office…”

“No, we don’t need to go there anymore,” Rain said. “It looks like they have things under control. What we need to do now is go towards Oelaans and make it past the border to Thekohn.”

“So what’s the fastest way to get there?” Sorin asked.

“There are a few ways, but the quickest would be to head to Helm via train,” Rain answered. “I do feel guilt, though, as tickets for the fastest trains aren’t reserved for commoners.”

“It seems to be that way,” Gale said. “How else could those princes get in so quickly?”

“Can we not talk about them?” Sorin asked.

“There was quite a bit of commotion earlier,” Rain said. “I suppose that explains why, then.”

“Let’s just say that while they may be royalty, the princes of Ahnlikohn are anything but,” Gale replied.

“Yes, I can understand that,” Rain said. “We’ve had meetings with the Ahnle family in the past, so I’m aware of what kind of person Prince Amile is.”

“There’s no use talking, though,” Sorin replied. “You’d be able to get us some tickets on short notice, wouldn’t you?”

Rain nodded. “That I can do with ease,” she answered. “It’s only a small trek away from where we are now.”

“Let’s go!” Mina exclaimed. “It’s the five of us hitting the road with one clear objective in mind!”

Sorin laughed. “Let’s head out,” he said. “Ready or not, here comes the Brave Fighting Sun!”

With that, they set off for the train station as Mina led the group. Though Noa lagged behind as he carried the large bag over his back, he still kept up with the other four. This time, their mission was clear.

 

To be continued…

 

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