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 24 (Part 2)

[15th of September, 2740 AD; Odd Road Way, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

After spending the night over at the Luna’s home, Johan, Pariton, and Luna made their way to bus station. Johan had already gotten what he needed from the Neu Thekohnian Order’s camp, but now he had a new plan in place and needed the help of both Pariton and Luna along the way. The next bus sat idling by the curb as the three got on and took a couple of seats in the back.

“I’ve never actually left this country before,” Luna said. “You obviously have a lot of experience traveling this region, don’t you?”

“It’s part of my job,” Johan replied, “But I guess I’m probably going to be working independently from here on out. That is to say with you two by my side I will continue my work.”

“Well, as long as we’re working to stop the Neu Thekohnian Order, then I will follow you and Pekka to the ends of the earth,” she said. “After what you said last night, it inspired me.”

“I’m glad my words can evoke that reaction from you,” Johan said. “I’m sure that your brother would think you to be a noble young woman for joining my cause in helping to create a world without wars.”

“It’s something Lenne would have loved to hear,” Luna replied. “He was a member of the army that served under the Ahnle family, but died about a month ago when the Neu Thekohnian Order started popping up. What we heard was that it was an ambush during an occupation in Glora.”

“That was when you made your decision, right?” Johan asked.

Luna nodded. “It’s because of that I wanted to get revenge,” she said. “Their leader is the one I wanted, because once you kill the head, the body should drop, shouldn’t it? Anyway, I like you method of attack better, boss, so that’s why I want to come along with you and Pekka.”

“Then you’ve made a fine choice,” Johan said.

“So what’re we doing over in Oelaans anyway?” Luna asked. “If it has to do with taking down the Neu Thekohnian Order, do you already know about their next attack?”

“Let’s just say that it’s a hunch,” Johan replied.

He kept the fact that he had joined with the Neu Thekohnian Order to himself because he knew exactly how Pekka and Luna would react. For now, it was all about patience for Johan now that he had joined alongside the enemy. He also had a feeling that Korbin went and informed General Fercewend about what he had seen on the day of the attack on Helm. Despite Korbin’s reputation, Johan knew that there was no risking going back to the Ameci military any time soon because of that.

Luna leaned in towards Johan. “That’s towards the kingdom, isn’t it?”

“I’ll admit that it’ll be my first time heading there,” Johan said.

“As it will be mine,” Pariton said.

“I wonder if we’ll have to show any ID,” she said. “I’ve heard many stories about the royal family. Do you we’ll see them?”

“It’s not really something I’m sure of,” Johan answered. “Then again, I’m not exactly sure if we’ll be able to see them anyway.”

“Being a royal must be so demanding,” Luna said.

“You might be right,” Johan said

There was one question that continued to eat away at Johan and it involved the queen’s aide, Sir Lauren Ahga. Was he the true leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order? Johan considered it to be possible, but the next question was why would Jelka Arne be propped up as the leader. Did she know something about Ahga that could bring him down? Or was it the other way around? And what about the Queen of Thekohn herself? Johan did not want to assume the worst, but he still had to consider even that to be a possibility. After all, it affected not only the Thekohnian Region, but the entire world.

Luna snapped her fingers in front of Johan’s face. “Hey boss, are you just going to stare off into space like that? Or do you have anything else to say about Oelaans?”

“There’s one place I know we’ll have to go,” Johan said. “It’ll be hard to get into, but I’m certain we can find a way in.”

“Really?” Luna asked. “Then I trust you, since you’re a master spy and all.”

“You really like to deliver such high praise for my abilities,” Johan replied. “Perhaps I should deliver praise onto you in return: you were really good at sneaking up on us last night. I didn’t hear a single peep out of you until it was too late.”

“A surprise, all things considered,” Pariton said.

“Hey, I was actually really good at hide and seek as a kid,” Luna replied. “One one end I could find all my schoolmates no problem, while the other end I just was able to hide for a really long time. There was this one time I thought that no one could find me, and after a while, people started to get really concerned about where I went, so that was when I popped out of my hiding place and laughed, though I guess no one actually found it that funny, but I still think it was pretty hilarious.”

“Do you have any other skills?” Johan asked. “Anyone can be halfway decent with a knife, but do you have anything else?”

“I used to be a pretty good percussionist back in school,” she answered. “I used to clash a pair of cymbals for hours, or at least until one of the teachers told me to stop playing so hard.”

“With a story like that, I’m surprised you haven’t gone deaf yet,” Pariton said. “Then again, I used to work by a train station, which made me go partially deaf in my right ear.”

“Seriously?” Luna asked. “Like can you only hear about half of the things I’m saying to you?”

“That’s not it,” Pariton replied. “I’m still able to hear everything you say, after all.”

“I’ve seen you fire guns before,” Johan said. “That’s not a problem for you?”

“No doubt the ringing is bad, Mr. Johan,” Pariton said, “But in combat I’m able to focus all of my energy and ignore the pain.”

“Then it has to hurt after a fight, doesn’t it?” Luna asked.

“It’ll keep hurting and hurting until it doesn’t,” Pariton answered. “Who knows when that will happen, but it will happen.”

“You’ve never been to a doctor, then,” Johan said.

“If there’s a doctor that’ll treat an ex-True Thekohnian, I’d be all for it,” Pariton said. “Unfortunately, it’d probably involve me heading back to prison and don’t want that.”

“And that’s probably all you’ll say about that,” Johan said. “Anyway, we’ve got quite a bit of time until we hit Oelaans.”

“Oh, maybe we should sing a song,” Luna replied.

“Let’s try not to get kicked off the bus if we can help it,” Pariton said. “We don’t need to draw attention to ourselves, anyhow.”

Luna hung her head. “Then maybe we should think up what we ought to do to help our boss,” she said. “We’re sorta like his hands and feet when you think about it.”

“There’s one thing I want to ask of you,” Johan said, “Do you think you could just address me by my name? No formalities whatsoever, okay?”

“I guess I can try… Mr. Johan, sir,” Luna replied. “A-Anyway! There’s the fact that if the Neu Thekohnian Order is going to make their next strike where we’re going, we should look to undermine them!”

“How do you propose we go about doing that?” Pariton asked.

“It’s simple,” Luna said, “We can go and inform the local police about the impending attack and once they divert their attention to that, Johan can go and do what it is he needs to do. I can do all of that just for you.”

“That’s a great idea,” Johan said. “Pekka would be too suspicious if he were to go to the police, so you would be perfect in that role.”

“And if there’s any Neu Thekohnians that try to sneak past, I’ll just smash them over the head!” Luna exclaimed.

Pariton shushed her. “Are you trying to get everyone’s eyes and ears on us? Lower your voice.”

“Oh, um, I’m very sorry,” she said, “But like I said, my idea may sound a little simple, but sometimes the best executed plans are some of the simplest. It’ll be a three prong attack with me going towards the police, Pekka using his wits, and you going off to your destination.”

“What kind of idea is that?” Pariton asked. “What do you mean by me using my wits, Luna?”

“To be honest, I don’t know,” she said. “It sounded much better in my head and I guess my mouth just decided to plop out that thing I said.”

Johan laughed as he leaned back in his seat. “Don’t worry, I’ve got an idea for what Pekka can do out there.”

“Oh, well then that’s good,” Luna said. “I guess we really are a team after all, aren’t we? Maybe we should come up with a team name or something.”

“I don’t think we need any sort of team name,” Pariton said. “What good would it do for us?”

“Come on, I think we can have a little fun while we’re trying to change the world,” Johan replied. “Lay it on us, Luna.”

“Well, since we are kind of a revolution, perhaps something like ‘Future in the Darkness’ or something similar?”

“Sounds good, but I’d like to keep a little more simple,” Johan replied. He closed his eyes for a brief moment and had an idea. “Maybe, just maybe… From this day forth, we’re going to be known as the Moonlit Silence.”

“Wow, I really like that name after all,” Luna said. “You came up with that one on the fly and it still made my idea look like crap!”

“Don’t put yourself down too much,” Johan replied. “We’re still ahead of the Neu Thekohnian Order in a lot of ways and I’m going to need help from the both of you.”

“Name or no name, we’re going to put a stop to them,” Pariton said.

“That we will,” Johan said. “For now, let’s just enjoy the sights on our way to Oelaans.”

He sat back once more and rested his head against the top of the seat. Whatever came next, Johan was sure to be ready for as he had two competent allies on his side. The plan of his was going along well, despite the small bump in the road at the campgrounds. Johan hoped having Luna join his side would end up proving to be helpful, as she had skills that both he and Pariton lacked. Then there was the fact he would have to run into Sorin again along the way. He could only wonder what would happen once he met with his friend once again.

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 24 (Part 1)

[15th of September, 2740 AD; Executive Hotel, Rain’s Room – Deca District]

 

Rain took a look out the window of her hotel room. The morning overlook over the city and its people made Rain think about why she went on her trip. The people of Iiayikohn had looked up to Alan Berry and Rain wanted to help ensure that his legacy would not be forgotten. That was why she had to prevent the attack from being made on her father.

“As long as I have them, then I know that anything is possible,” she said.

She turned away from the window and headed off to the shower. Today would be the day that she would go back home, this time in order to prevent her father’s assassination. Rain knew that there were some diversions, but this time she had to stay focused. Nothing could divert her from the path she had to take.

“I can’t let anything get in my way,” Rain said. “Not even my feelings…”

As she finally finished up and got out of the shower, Rain wrapped a towel around herself and went back into the main room. A knock on the door entered her ears as she turned to the door.

“Hey, Rain, it’s me, Mina!”

Mina’s sudden voice startled Rain. “Oh, um, just a moment!”

Rain hurried up to get dressed, donning on a light red blouse and black slacks. She rushed over to the door and opened it to see Mina and Sorin on the outside.

“You’re both here,” Rain said. “What happened to Noa?”

“He’s downstairs,” Sorin replied. “We’re sure that we’re setting off today, right?”

“That’s correct,” Rain said, “We can’t afford to waste any more time. Today we’re going past Helm and right to Oelaans.”

“Sounds good to me,” he said.

“It’s what we’re set to do as heroes,” Mina said. “We have to stop evil’s grasp on this region, and it involves stopping the Neu Thekohnian Order and their plans! That, and stopping them from assassinating the king!”

“Mina, is there someone you fight for?” Rain asked. “I know for certain that Sorin fights for his brother and Gale, but is there someone that you hold dear?”

“Of course there is,” Mina answered. “I can never forget you and Sorin here, as well as Gavin and Law! I mean, all of you are very close to me when not even a year ago, I didn’t even have any friends!”

“That is such a nice thing to say,” Rain said. “I’m so glad that you can call me your friend.”

“It’s no problem,” Mina said.

“When this is done, I’d love to be able to see the kingdom for myself,” Sorin said. “I’ll even tell Gale about it as well.”

“Of course, of course, Sorin,” Rain replied. “I’ll take all of you there and show you where I grew up. That will be my promise to you.”

“Then it’s a plan,” Sorin said. “Come on, let’s not keep Noa waiting.”

Rain left her room and went with Sorin and Mina downstairs. In the main lobby, Noa was busy dealing with some familiar faces that Sorin knew. Noa dropped to his knees in front of Kiku, as both Ayame and Igor stood behind her. It appeared that Kiku was taking some delight in the situation as she had a small smile on her face.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you!” Noa exclaimed. “Please, just let me go; I’m just a stupid idiot who has no tact!”

“You crossed Madame Izumi,” Ayame said. “If it weren’t for me, she’d have to deal with a serious bruise upon herself, and that would not have been fun at all!”

“I don’t know, Aya, I think he’s kind of funny,” Kiku said.

“Is something the matter?” Rain asked.

Rain walked with Sorin and Mina over to Noa. Kiku noticed Sorin and greeted him with a prompt hug.

“Wilkie! It’s so good to see you again,” Kiku said. “Where’s Gigi?”

“Uh, she’s with the others,” Sorin replied. “What’s going on here?”

“Oh, well, I guess this guy’s your friend too, isn’t he?” Kiku asked as she separated herself from Sorin. “Maybe Aya was being a little too harsh to him, all things considered.”

“If he’s a friend of Sorin’s, then I suppose he means no harm,” Ayame said.

“And for the love of god, just watch where you’re going next time,” Igor said, “You almost made Madame Izumi fall amongst herself!”

“You’re sure?” Noa asked. “You… you don’t need me to do anything else?”

“I think you can stand up now,” Rain said. “I would like to say that I am completely sorry for this misunderstanding.”

“Don’t be,” Ayame replied. “It wasn’t your fault, Your Highness.”

“Anyway! You’ve got to introduce me to these friends of yours, Wilkie,” Kiku said. “Especially that lovely lady with the red shirt and striking boots!”

Mina looked around. “Are you talking about me?”

“Of course I’m talking about you, silly,” Kiku replied. “Who else could I be talking about? You look so strong!”

“I know, right?” Mina asked as she flexed her arm. “Do you want to feel it for yourself?”

“Funny enough, I was going to ask but thought it to be too rude,” Kiku said. She reached out and placed her hand on Mina’s upper arm. “Oh my, I bet that you probably can beat Wilkie in an arm wrestling match. Am I right?”

Mina laughed. “I’ve never faced him, but I bet I could!”

“Again, I’m glad we’re fighting on the same side,” Sorin said. “Anyway, I guess I should get you up to speed, Kiku.”

He introduced Rain, Mina, and Noa to Kiku, who was delighted with each introduction. Rain gave an enthusiastic handshake to Kiku, while Noa just hesitated as he slowly shook her hand.

“Are you scared of me?” Kiku asked Noa.

“N-Not of you,” he replied, “But those two bodyguards of yours might actually kill me if I breathe on you wrong…”

“Hehe, you ought to lower your guard a little, scaredy cat,” she said. “Aya and Iggy are really nice once you get to know them.”

Noa turned away. “That’s reassuring, I guess.”

“You’re probably overwhelmed,” Kiku replied. “Now Minnie here just knows how to shine like a supernova. If only you weren’t so busy, I’d ask for you to carry me in your arms!”

“Thanks!” Mina exclaimed.

“Likewise, we would love to stay and chat but indeed we must head off,” Rain said. “Perhaps if you are still around, we can have a nice little chat.”

“It would be a delight, Ray,” Kiku said. “This mission of yours must be important enough if you had to enlist the help of both Wilkie and Minnie.”

“They are both capable and also my friends,” Rain replied. “There’s no better people that I could have asked.”

Kiku grinned. “I’m sure they are,” she said. “Especially Minnie. You two just look so perfect together, do you know that?”

“Well, it’s certainly true that Mina and I work well together,” Rain said, “But we will be heading off now. No further delays must be taken! Come now, everyone!”

Rain hurried past Kiku, Ayame, and Igor and out the door as the others looked onward. Noa decided to follow her out, followed soon after by Mina. This left Sorin to himself as he turned to Kiku.

“It was nice to see you again,” he said. “I’ll see you later.”

“Likewise, Wilkie,” Kiku replied. “If I happen to see Gigi, I’ll let her know how you’re doing.”

Sorin smiled. “Thank you for that.”

“Don’t worry too much about madame,” Igor said. “We’re planning to stay around here for a week, so there’s a chance we can have a little Ron de Vows once you’re done with whatever it is you need to do.”

“Do… do you mean ‘rendezvous,’ Iggy?” Ayame asked.

“What do you mean?” Igor asked.

“Never mind,” Ayame said. “We wish you well, Sorin. Please be sure to stay safe out there.”

“I will,” Sorin replied.

He took no time in joining back up with Rain and the others as they made their move to the train station. The experience of being in a new country awaited Sorin at the end and he could not wait to get there.

 

*****

 

Onboard the train to Helm, Sorin sat next to Noa while Rain sat next to Mina. Despite being on a similar train, Sorin felt that the experience was just as new as it did the first time. Sorin wanted to know more, however, and turned to Rain.

“I never really got to ask you what Thekohn is like,” he said.

“What would you like to know?” Rain asked. “I can tell you about anything I know and what you want to know about.”

“Oh, oh! Tell us about the food,” Mina said, “I want to know all about how good the food tastes in Thekohn!”

“You always seem to talk about food and eating,” Noa said. “That or being strong… Is that all you think about?”

Mina pumped her fist. “Not all the time, Noa,” she said. “Besides, I need to keep eating if I want to compliment the energy I exert! You really should try it sometime!”

“I think I’ll pass,” Noa replied. “Overeating makes me sick.”

“Well, since you two are finished, I can tell you a bit about Thekohn’s food,” Rain said. “There’s a lot of teas we have, but the most popular is the tulip tea.”

“That’s the one that increases your intelligence, right?” Sorin asked.

“Well, that’s just a myth,” Rain answered, “But you have heard of it, it seems like.”

“Only because I had the opportunity to hear about it thanks to my friend from Kikuisha,” Sorin said.

“Oh, you mean that girl we ran into this morning?” Mina asked. “She was so nice! I bet she’d be really good to get to know!”

“There’s no denying that,” Sorin said.

“She was nice?” Noa asked. “I’m not so sure…”

“You’re only saying that because you’re scared of her,” Mina replied.

“Y-You’re not wrong,” Noa said. “She made me feel so small back there; I just didn’t know what to do until you guys showed up.”

“Yeah, Miss Kiku really made you look like that, didn’t she?” Mina asked. “It almost looked as if she was going to crush you underneath her shoe!”

Noa whimpered. “I’d like it if you didn’t create that mental image in my head, thank you very much.”

“Oddly enough, I would have thought you would be the kind of person to enjoy that sort of thing,” Sorin said. “I guess that that’s not the case.”

“I had no idea that anyone could enjoy that sort of thing,” Mina said. “Who are these pain enjoying kinda people?”

“You mustn’t worry yourself, Mina,” Rain replied. “Anyway, let’s continue with our little discussion about Thekohn, shall we?”

“So what are your parents like?” Sorin asked. “I saw your brother back in Jiaikohn, but I never really got the chance to speak to him personally. Do you have other family members, too?”

“Well, first things first, I will say I have two younger siblings: a brother and a sister,” she said. “That said, I have nothing but respect for my mother and my father. I love them all very much.”

“I don’t think any of us doubt that for a second,” Sorin said.

“That’s why it’s important that I do this,” Rain said. “I care deeply about my family, not only for their sake but for the people of Thekohn as well. The Thedam family is a representation of the entirety of the Thekohnian Region and I find great honor in being a part of that.”

“And that’s why we have no problem helping you,” Mina said. “All of us, even Noa, too!”

“Even me, huh,” Noa said. “That’s nice to know.”

“Maybe you’d be able to share with us your goal?” Sorin asked. “My friend always says that everyone has a goal or a dream that they’d like to make a reality. I’m sure it can’t be too ridiculous.”

“You would trust a man you barely know?” Noa asked.

Sorin shook his head. “We’ve journeyed together for a while now,” he said. “I think that we’re all well aware of who you are.”

Noa looked down at his feet. “That’s really funny.”

“Come on, just tell us already!” Mina said. “I want to be the greatest hero in the world! There, now you tell us yours!”

“My goal is to become a better artist,” Sorin added. “I’ve only just taken to the craft, but I’d like to improve it once this is done.”

“Those are your goals?” Noa asked. “Maybe it’s okay after all, then.”

“No matter what it is, I will promise to you that I will not make fun of you,” Rain said. “So go ahead.”

Noa sighed as he moved part of his hair past his ear. “My only dream is to find a place to call home,” he said. “I want to find a place where the people will accept me… and I guess also marry a beautiful woman whose love for me knows no bounds.”

“Is that really your dream?” Rain asked.

“Now that I’ve said it out loud, I’m not too sure,” Noa replied. “Just looking at your smile makes me think that you really do see it absurd.”

“That’s far from what I think, Noa,” Rain said. “I simply find it amusing and endearing to hear you speak because I can tell that despite your anxiety, you have aspirations to belong.”

“It just feels like a steep mountain to climb,” Noa said. “How can I be sure of where I’m going if there are so many dangers in my way?”

“I think you would know,” Sorin responded. “You’ve had to deal with a lot to get where you are now, that much you’ve told us.”

“You’re right about that,” Noa said.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 23 (Part 2)

[14th of September, 2740 AD; New Prime Minister’s Office, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

Ayanna arrived back at the prime minister’s office on the request of Wilson Dezine and found General Reiss waiting for her. The two of them were to be present before Dezine to talk about the recent events that had transpired over the past few days and what would happen going forward. What Ayanna knew for certain, though, was that she had to have her rank restored.

“I’d like to offer my condolences to you, Ayanna,” Reiss said. “I can tell that what happened to Silvia has affected you greatly.”

“Thank you, sir,” Ayanna replied. “I’ve decided that no matter what, I’m going to do what it takes to protect innocent people. I want to make sure no one else will have to suffer the pain that Silvia endured.”

“You’re going to ask for your suspension to be lifted, I take it?”

“That’s my goal,” Ayanna said. “While I was able to accomplish what I was able to accomplish, I belong here in Rezar.”

“A great thing to hear,” Reiss said. “Well, come on, let’s not leave the old man waiting.”

Ayanna followed Reiss upstairs and into Dezine’s office where the prime minister waited. With Dezine were General Fercewend and President Hasker as well as Isaac Kunigunde.

“It seems you two finally arrived,” Dezine said. “Sit down, both of you.”

“What is the occasion for this, prime minister?” Reiss asked.

“I was speaking with General Fercewend earlier and it seems a situation happened between you and an Ameci soldier, Ansa,” Dezine replied. “Care to go into detail, general?”

“A couple of days ago, I received a report from Junior Sergeant Crawford Bradley,” Fercewend said. “From this report, Private Korbin Mars states that you raised a gun at him in anger.”

“I have an explanation for that,” Ayanna replied.

“I’m all ears, lieutenant general,” Fercewend said. “I would like to believe that we can keep working together and move past this incident.”

“There was a major disagreement between Mars and I,” Ayanna said. She hesitated to say why due to the circumstances surrounding Silvia. “The reason why…”

“Ansa, you have to know why, right?” Reiss asked.

“I do know why,” she said. “It was all a miscommunication. I mistook Private Mars for a member of the Neu Thekohnian Order and that was why I drew a gun on him. Afterwards, I learned my mistake and I assure you that it won’t happen again.”

Fercewend nodded. “Understood,” he said. “Sometimes in the heat of the moment, you can confuse friend with foe. Fortunately we didn’t have to deal with any friendly fire this time.”

“Unfortunately, it seems as if we’ve been lead through yet another mishap,” Hasker said. “Trust has gone down with Chancellor Harring due to these recent events regarding Ahnlikohn’s royal family. Needless to say, it appears as if things do not look good at all towards future relations with their country.”

“Which is why we need to be more rigid with them moving forward,” Isaac said. “A lack of toughness is the reason why we’re in this mess and it would be a disservice to the previous prime minister if we didn’t do our best to uphold his wishes.”

“So I suppose this is where we discuss our plans,” Dezine said. “Let’s see if we can come up with any ideas.”

 

After a long and tedious meeting, Ayanna was the last to leave Dezine’s office and walked into the hallway by herself. From the meeting, Ayanna learned that she would return to her rank of lieutenant general immediately. That was only a minor detail, though, as the focus turned towards the rise of the Neu Thekohnian Order and their connection with the royal family of Ahnlikohn. She had suggested that there was something more than met the eye to it, though Dezine seemed to be focused on whatever Isaac Kunigunde had to say. He said that the royal family and government of Ahnlikohn were not to be trusted, to which Hasker did not respond. It seemed odd for Mr. Kunigunde to even be there in the first place, but apparently he was there as an advisor to Hasker. Still, Ayanna knew that this was only the beginning.

“Ah, Lieutenant General Ansa, it’s a pleasure to see you.”

Ayanna lifted her head and saw Henry Randolph arrive at the top of the stairs with Aron Arrington.

“Randolph, I’m surprised to see you here,” Ayanna said. “I thought that you were heading to the hotel.”

“I was here to see General Fercewend,” Henry replied. “He and I have a small personal matter to attend to and I didn’t want to run late.”

“So that’s why,” she said. “Well, I just got done meeting with the prime minister, which is why I feel so exhausted right now.”

“Rohan did mention that the meeting was little boring,” Henry said. “Oh, I do have something I wish to speak to about, however.”

Ayanna adjusted her hair. “What is it?”

“It’s about the incident involving Private Mars,” Henry replied. “I suppose you’ve already spoken with Rohan about it, though, so I only wish that we can try to move past this.”

“You’re free to do so as you please,” Ayanna said. “I, however, am still going to find it hard to move along so easily from this.”

“I feel as if I’m missing something,” Henry said.

“Suppose I can’t blame her, though,” Aron said.

“Well, he is a bit of a wild card, but it’s not much of a reason to get angry,” Henry said, “Though I guess you probably have your reasons, Ansa.”

“It’s not much to think about,” Ayanna replied. “We have disagreements here and there, which is why I don’t wish to burden myself with talking to that man.”

“Ah, so it’s true,” Korbin said, “I found you guys here after all!”

He walked up the stairs and joined with Henry and Aron. Ayanna glared at Korbin as he slapped Aron on the back.

“How’s my buddy Aron doing?” Korbin asked. “Did you miss me?”

“With a greeting like that, it’s pretty hard not to,” Aron said. “You really came at a bad time, though.”

“Oh, so now I’m the bearer of bad fortune, is it,” Korbin said. “I’m just seeing how you guys are doing, talking with such a well respected member of the Iiayikohnian army… How are you, Miss Ansa?”

“Just fine,” Ayanna replied.

Korbin laughed. “Great, great,” he said, “I for one am glad that we’re able to let go of the past and move on, right?”

“I suppose it’s simple for someone like you to say that given what has happened,” Ayanna said. “You’ve never had to deal with the loss of someone important to you before, I take it?”

“You really shouldn’t assume things about other people, you know,” Korbin said. “Besides, it’s not like you lost a friend of yours or something, have you?”

“That was incredibly uncalled for, Mars,” Henry said. “Alan Berry was a very important man in this country. It only makes sense that he would be very important to her.”

“Ah, how could I possibly forget,” Korbin said as he patted Aron on the back again.

“Just watch what you say the next time,” Henry said. “I’m sorry for his insensitivity, Lieutenant General Ansa.”

“You don’t need to apologize, Randolph,” Ayanna said. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take my leave. I have other business that I absolutely have to attend to right now.”

“Then I won’t keep you waiting,” Henry said.

“Thank you,” she replied. “If you’ll excuse me…”

Ayanna moved forward as Aron stepped aside. As she walked down the stairs, Ayanna could only think to herself about what she would do now. For now, though, she had to meet with Gavin and Law to see what they were going to do next.

“Miss Ansa, wait up!”

Ayanna reached the bottom of the stairs and headed for the door, but Korbin had followed her down. She took a look behind her and decided to keep walking instead.

“Talk to me,” Korbin said.

“Go away.”

“Hey, I don’t appreciate your rudeness,” he replied.

Ayanna grabbed the handle of the door and turned it. “Go away, now,” she said. “I’ve nothing to say to you.”

“You don’t have the guts to face me head on, do you?” Korbin asked. “A definite far cry from the woman who threatened to kill me only a few days ago. What’s happened?”

“A lot has happened,” Ayanna answered.

She pushed the door open and made her exit. There was no reason for her to interact with Korbin or even waste her breath talking to him. Not after what he had done. There were better problems to take care of instead of trying to enact her revenge on the man who had killed Silvia. No, Ayanna wanted to honor her name by making sure that no innocent person would ever have to go through what she had to ever again.

 

*****

 

[14th of September, 2740 AD; Lead Campground, north of Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

It was deep into the night as Johan exited the building alone. He had just been spared thanks to Lauren Ahga, and now Johan had built a new alliance with an unlikely ally. Pariton and Luna were waiting from behind the bushes as Johan noticed them hiding and walked up to them.

“We can go,” he said.

Luna popped up from the bushes. “Oh, we’re done already? I thought you were going to retrieve some secrets. You know, like real dirt?”

“I got what I needed,” Johan replied. “There’s somewhere we have to head to now.”

“Where’s that?” Pariton asked.

“It’s the town of Oelaans,” Johan said. “Our business is there within the kingdom, so says the letter I read.”

Pariton raised an eyebrow. “A letter? Do you have it?”

“Sadly, I couldn’t take it with me,” he replied. “There was a lot I could have taken, but there was no way that I was going to be able to snatch it all up with the security inside.”

“Not even one bit?” Luna asked. “Is this part of the job or something?”

“You could say that,” Johan said.

“What do you want to do about her?” Pariton asked. “If we’re going to Oelaans, then obviously we’d need to make that travel right now and I have no idea if she’d be willing to follow.”

“Are you serious, Pekka? I can’t believe you’d ask that,” Luna said. “I’d love to be an asset to the team, and it’s not because I’d get to follow around the boss either, so don’t get the wrong idea just because I said he was handsome, Pekka, and I know full well about your feelings regarding the boss, too–”

Pariton quickly placed his hand over her mouth, muffling her speech. “Okay, okay, if Mr. Johan doesn’t see a problem with it, then I don’t, either.”

“Looks like there’s nothing wrong, then,” Johan said. “Let’s hurry before they notice us.”

Luna lowered Pariton’s hand. “Great! Let’s get going and find a way to deal a blow to these scoundrels,” she said. “Oh, but maybe we should stop at my family’s house first, because perhaps you’d like to meet the people who helped raise me and also maybe have something to eat, too, because my mother’s a really good chef and you would like her food the instant it touched your lips!”

Johan chuckled as he walked with Luna and Pariton on their way out the campground. “Maybe we should take you up on your offer, then.”

The darkness had overtaken the campground as the three left the premises. Johan knew that survival was important, which was why he had taken the chance and joined Ahga and the Neu Thekohnian Order. He had decided not to tell either Pariton or Luna as he felt that there was an opportunity to be had for later, it all just had to come down to which piece moved first.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 23 (Part 1)

[14th of September, 2740 AD; Lead Campground, north of Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

Night fast approached as Johan and Pariton stumbled onto the broken down gates to the Lead Campground. Off in the distance was the sight of a burning fire near an old building, which Johan could only imagine was the hideout for the Neu Thekohnian Order. One thing was certain, Johan thought to himself: Jelka Arne had to be there. A large rock sat as Johan and Pariton jumped the gates and hid behind it as a member of the NTO passed by.

Pariton peered over the rock and found several more members closer to the old building. “A bit more secure than I thought.”

“Looks like it,” Johan said. “Not that they don’t have a good reason to, which is all the more reason to stay hidden.”

“Agreed.”

Johan looked over the rock again. No one was in the immediate area, which meant that he had to get closer. Leading Parition behind him, Johan crawled into the open area of the campground until the he and Pariton stopped behind one of the fences. The fire by the building began to die down as several more Neu Thekohnians headed inside until none remained on the outside. A few chairs sat on the outside by the dying fire, but Johan and Pariton moved quickly until the were at the entrance to the building.

“That window there,” Johan said. “Is that who I think it is?”

Johan crept towards the window, making sure not to be detected by anyone on the inside, and peered in. His suspicions were confirmed, at least that was what he thought when he saw the long, grey hair. Johan ducked under window and set his back against the wall as he sat on the ground with Pariton joining him.

“You know this person?” Pariton asked.

“Remember the man I told you about?”

Pariton nodded. “But what is he doing here, though? I thought he was opposed to the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“What made you think that, Pekka?” Johan asked. “This was the secret I was talking about. A secret so scandalous, that it would rock the entire Kingdom of Thekohn to its core, if not the region.”

“Shit, if that’s true, then there’d be no way that the queen doesn’t know about it,” Parition said. “Knowing what we know about the NTO, it can only get worse from here. What should we do?”

“There’s one thing I want to find,” Johan replied. “It’s going to tough going in there, but we’ll have to sneak in somehow. Hold on.”

Johan moved to the edge of the building and looked past it. There was no one around but the entrance to what looked to be a cellar. He lead Pariton to the side of the building and towards the cellar entrance. A fastened lock was the only thing that prevented the two from going in as Johan turned to Pariton.

“Can you break this lock?” Johan asked.

“It would be hard to do without the right tools, Mr. Johan,” Pariton replied as he knelt down and examined the lock. “Perhaps there’s another way?”

“That’s going to be a problem.”

As Johan and Pariton continued to examine the lock to the cellar, the woman from before snuck up from behind. She carried one of the wooden chairs from the front and approached Johan. No time was wasted as she then used the chair and smashed it over Johan’s head, which knocked him to the ground.

“Mr. Johan!”

Pariton sprung to his feet and turned around. He saw the woman try to escape, but he reached out and grabbed her wrist before she could escape. Johan sat up as he rubbed the back of his head. The woman stared Pariton in the eyes as he did the same back to her.

“Wait a minute,” Pariton said, “You’re not a member of the Neu Thekohnian Order, are you?”

“N-No, I thought you two were,” she replied. “I saw the both of you and thought you were the bad guys, so I took one of those chairs out by the fire and tried to deal with you myself, but I guess that didn’t work out because I guess you two aren’t part of the Neu Thekohnian Order, either, so I guess that makes me look like an idiot, doesn’t it?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Parition asked. “Do you think it’s okay to bash people over the head and not expect some sort of response?”

“Sorry, sorry, sorry!”

Johan stood up. “You came here because you have business with the Neu Thekohnian Order, don’t you?”

“You could say that,” she answered. “What they’ve done is unforgivable and I want to get my revenge for what they did to my family, so I when I walked by your window and heard what you were talking about, I decided to follow you, which I guess was a good idea because it happened to lead me here and it looks like my hunch was correct because this looks like the hideout for these bad guys and so in my lack of a better judgement I thought you were with them and that’s why I decided to smash you, but I want to say sorry because it was a bad thing to do since you guys aren’t the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“Excuse me,” Pariton said as he let the woman go. “You talk too fast.”

“That being said, I only have one question,” Johan said. “You mentioned revenge, which means you have a personal connection with these people. How are you going to exact this revenge?”

“I guess I don’t know,” she said. “I have a dagger of my own which I took from my father’s shelf and it was used in the War of the Lands.”

“I see,” Johan replied. “You should know that we’re here because we have business with them, too.”

“But ours is a stealth mission, not revenge,” Pariton said.

“Yet there’s a common ground we both share,” Johan said. “May I ask you your name, miss?”

“I suppose I can trust you,” she said. “The name’s Luna Del Bosque, third oldest of the Del Bosque family. Like I mentioned before, my father fought in the war and was quite a renowned soldier in his own right. I’m here because the Neu Thekohnian Order killed my oldest brother, Lenne.”

“Still, you could have used fewer words,” Pariton replied. “What do you think, Mr. Johan?”

“Luna, I think it would beneficial if we worked together,” Johan said. “I feel like we can find a way to get revenge on these guys without having to resort to violence, so I’d like to know what you think.”

“Well, I wanted to find their leader and kill them, but I guess that wouldn’t be such a good idea,” Luna said. “Also, I’ve never killed anyone, so I guess I’d probably get nervous if I tried to do it.”

“Believe me, killing when you’ve never done it can be pretty messy,” Pariton said. “It’s also… probably not a good idea.”

“Right, I got it,” Luna replied. “You guys are packing, right?”

“Excuse me?” Pariton asked.

“Like, you’d probably have one that’s at least eight inches,” she said. “And you, Mr. Johan, you probably have a long one too. Am I right?”

Johan closed his eyes as he placed his fingers on his forehead. “Just so we’re clear, you are talking about knives, right? Not anything else?”

“What else would I be talking about?” Luna asked. Her jaw dropped as she realized what Johan meant. “Oh my god, I had no idea! I was just talking about knives and you guys were thinking that I was talking about how endowed you two were, but that’s a real stretch to go to think that I was talking about what’s in your pants, so please don’t get the wrong idea because I’m not that kind of girl, even though I would say that Mr. Johan’s pretty attractive if I had to be honest, but just so you know, I’m not a weirdo or anything!”

“I’m not armed,” Johan replied. “That goes against my personal code.”

“I left my weapons at the motel,” Pariton said.

“Oh, well, maybe you’d like to use mine?” Luna asked. “I don’t believe you’ve introduced yourself, guy.”

Pariton turned to Johan. “Are you truly sure that we should be trusting this girl?”

“I can tell that she wants to do good,” Johan said. “Luna, I’d like to get you acquainted with my friend Pekka.”

Luna snickered as she shook Pariton’s hand. “Nice meeting you, Pekka.”

Pariton’s expression remained unchanged. “What’s so funny?”

“It just made me think about what your name sounds similar to,” she replied. “You know: what we were talking about earlier?”

“I’m afraid to even ask what you mean by that,” Pariton said.

Johan patted Pariton on the back. “Better not to think about it,” he said. “So, Luna, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to ask you about your dream. Although, I think it’s best we talk later, since we do have this whole matter to settle.”

“We really did get off track,” Pariton said. “That lock still remains fastened to the cellar door.”

“Excuse me, but I think I can help,” Luna said as she stretched her legs. “Just stand back, guys, because I’m going to bust that thing in!”

Johan did not move. “As much as I adore your enthusiasm, I can’t let you do that,” he said. “Did you already forget that this is a stealth mission?”

“Oh, sorry,” she replied.

“Actually, there might be a way in yet,” Johan said. “Follow me.”

Johan snuck back to the front of the building and towards the front door. Pariton and Luna trailed behind him as he reached for the doorknob and turned it to find that there was no lock. With a deep exhale, Johan creaked the door open and found a member of the Neu Thekohnian Order sleeping on the chair nearby.

“You two stay here,” Johan said.

“What should we do?” Pariton asked.

“If it comes to the worst, then don’t hesitate to barge in,” he replied. “Keep an eye out for any other members that might still be outside.”

“Got it,” Pariton said.

“And Luna, I do want to talk to you later, that much I assure you,” Johan said. “No matter what, we’re getting out of here alive.”

“I understand, boss,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind me calling you that, because I thought it sounded really cool in my head, like we’re all a group of good guys and we’re looking to you to be the leader and all that, so…”

Johan went inside and rushed to the edge of the wall and hid himself. He looked onward as he found no one in the hallway, so he decided to sneak further into the hall. As he went further inside, Johan could hear a faint noise coming from his right as he could only suspect that the meeting was already taking place. His other suspicion proven to be true, Johan had to find the document that Ahga possessed if he wanted to have a chance to stop him.

“A split end, huh,” Johan said.

Two paths stood at his left and right. Johan peeked past the corner to the left and saw no one, so he hurried down that path before anyone had the chance to spot him. At the end of the hall were two doors, one in front of Johan and one to his left. He tried opening the door to his left first but found it locked, so he decided to try the other door instead and found success as it opened for him. With nothing else standing between Johan and the room on the other side, he went inside.

“Okay, so let’s see what we have here…”

Johan saw two desks on both sides of the room, both with papers scattered all over their surfaces. He checked desk closest to him first and sped through as many papers as he could.

“A lot of these papers could prove to be useful,” he said. “Wait, what’s this?”

He gripped one paper in his hand. It was a letter addressed to the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order, but there was no return address. Johan read through it, making sure to take in every word written on the paper.

To the leader of the NTO, Jelka Arne: by the time you read this, I will have set off for Iiayikohn. Nobody will be able to suspect that someone like me would ever even attempt to assassinate the prime minister, not even  all of the Iiayikohnian government. I hope this will be able to satisfy you, so long as you hold up your end of the bargain. Please let this be the last thing that you ask of me.

Signed, A.A.

“Quite astounding, isn’t it, my friend?”

Johan heard the voice from behind him, the familiar and welcoming voice that belonged to Lauren Ahga. Ahga had just entered the room as Johan put the letter back down on the desk and turned around. The two were now face to face as Ahga approached Johan.

“Why did you blackmail Prince Ahnle?” Johan asked.

“Oh, you should ask Jelka that,” Ahga replied. “What I think you should be doing now is trying to tell me why I should let you leave here alive.”

“Don’t try to skirt the question, Sir Lauren,” Johan said. “You were the one who coerced the prince into assassination. Were you too afraid to do it yourself?”

Ahga adjusted his glasses. “You must not value your life if you’re asking meaningless questions like that…”

“I want you to answer me,” Johan replied.

“I’ve already told you I hate using violence as a means to an end,” Ahga said, “So I just decided to find the right kind of idiot that would do it for me. Turns out that that womanizer was the perfect choice.”

“He was arrested not too long after, you know,” Johan said.

“Ah yes, that is true, but everything worked out just as planned,” Ahga replied. “Besides, it’s not like Prince Ahnle is going to spend a single second in prison, anyway.”

“How so?”

“If he doesn’t get killed by some lunatic, he’ll probably go off into hiding,” Ahga answered. “Perhaps he’ll go as far as the islands, away from our society while the rest of the royal family will simply just go away as well.”

“You act as if you know that that’ll happen,” Johan replied.

“That’s because it’s precisely what will happen,” Ahga said. “Do you believe that Dezine will want to put up with the international headache? I know the man well and he’d rather pass off that burden to someone else, that someone being Chancellor Harring.”

Ahga reached down to his waist and to his holster. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at Johan.

“Either way, I’d have gotten the result I’d want,” he said, “Either the prince gets arrested or that woman would have taken the fall instead.”

“You hate using violence, though.”

“Do you think I’m letting you out of here alive?” Ahga asked. “I’ve told you all you needed to know. Besides, I may abhor violent methods, but for you, it’s a special cause.”

“I didn’t expect that I’d be getting such preferential treatment, Sir Lauren,” Johan said. “Before you kill me, though, I have one question.”

“Go ahead, shoot,” Ahga replied. “Pardon the pun, of course.”

“What do you expect to gain from this?” Johan asked. “Working with the Neu Thekohnian Order… They’re said to be worse than the True Thekohnians, yet the advisor to the Queen of Thekohn works with them. What’s your goal here?”

“Why does that matter to you?” Ahga asked. “You’ll be dead anyway, just like your two comrades outside.”

Johan smirked. “What if I told you I could help you?”

“You, help me? Are you trying to make me laugh?”

“I’m being completely serious,” Johan said. “I’d like to think that there’s a common ground we can reach.”

Ahga lowered his gun and inserted it back into the holster. “I’m listening,” he said, “Though I do feel as if you’re only doing this out of desperation.”

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” Johan replied. “However, I feel as if I don’t have much of a choice. If you don’t get me, I’m sure the Ameci military will.”

“What do you mean?” Ahga asked. “Never mind, I’d rather not hear about it. Just tell me what I need to hear.”

“Of course,” Johan said. “I’m glad that you decided to come to your sense. Anyway, where should I start?”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 22 (Part 2)

[14th of September, 2740 AD; location unknown, Hurst, Iiayikohn]

 

Two men entered the dim room as they took their seats at the table near them. One man had black hair with a touch of gray and wore a light blue button up shirt and pants while the other had light blond hair that was thinning on the top and wore a beige suit. Another man stood at the end of the table, though he faced the telephone on the wall as he spoke with someone on the other end. He had short, black hair and wore gloves that felt out of place with his brown suit.

“You know full well about what happens when you go on one of your self-indulgent trips,” the man in the brown suit said. “Pull a stunt like that in public again and I’ll be sure that it’ll be your last!”

Silence followed his words as the two men watched. They then looked at each other as the man kept talking.

“It really is true,” the graying man said. “Are you sure about this, Mr. Paul?”

“If we don’t speak with Harold Mars, then how are we going to get any support?” Paul asked. “Listen, Carsen, we need all the help we can get. Our business isn’t going anywhere.”

“I know that, but is this a good idea?”

“Just follow my lead,” Paul replied.

Harold gripped the phone in his hand as the other person kept talking. “Idiot, I didn’t ask about the girl,” he said. “I asked why you went and picked a fight with that man. What exactly did you hope to gain from dueling Mr. Wilk?”

A long pause followed.

“Should we say something?” Carsen asked.

“Let’s try not to get on his bad side,” Paul said. “Whoever he’s talking to, it must be extremely important.”

“Then if it comes down to it, you know what to do, don’t you?” Harold asked. “You know your role, so play it!”

Harold slammed the receiver back onto the phone and turned around. He came into eye contact with the two gentlemen and grinned.

“And how long have you two been waiting?”

“We… we just got here, Mr. Mars, sir,” Paul answered.

“Long enough to take a seat, it seems,” Harold replied. “I don’t appreciate liars, you should know.”

“I’m sorry!” Paul exclaimed as he bowed. “Please forgive us for our stupidity!”

Harold sighed. “And that pathetic individual with you,” he said, “He’s one of your employees, I take it?”

Carsen kept a wide stare as he nodded. “Oh yes, yes, sir!”

“We came to you today because we were looking for help,” Paul said. “He and I are in need of some money for our business.”

“What is this business?” Harold asked. “Based on your answer, I might think about lending you my assistance.”

“R-Right, sir,” Paul replied. “We’re an up-and-coming transportation company and we wanted to see–”

Harold slammed his fist on the table. “What is your name?”

“Me? Well… it’s Paul, sir.”

“Can you tell me why I should support you?” Harold asked. “There’s enough transportation going around; what makes you so special?”

“Our company–”

“I didn’t ask about your company,” Harold said. “I asked about you. Why do you think you’re so special?”

“I… I don’t think I’m that special, sir,” Paul replied. “Just a businessman trying to help his company.”

“That’s all you are, then,” Harold said, “But you’re not even good at that. You thought you could just roll into my establishment and pitch to me your wildest dream, but all you have is a tame hallucination!”

Paul tried to hold back the tears. “My apologies, sir.”

“Tell you what,” Harold replied, “I will give you something special that will help you in your journey. Hold out your hand.”

Paul did so, his hand open on the table, as Harold walked up to him. Just then, Harold reached into his pocket and pulled out a dagger. Without a second thought, Harold stabbed Paul’s hand into the table. Carsen backed up in his chair as Paul began to scream out loud.

“Will you calm down, you insolent ignoramus?” Harold asked. “If you want to deal with the crows, you’d best be prepared. That goes to you, too.”

“O-Okay!” Carsen replied.

“Consider yourselves lucky that you caught me in a good mood,” Harold said. “Now get out of here!”

Harold then pulled the knife out from Paul’s hand and wiped off the blood with a clean cloth. Carsen helped Paul up to his feet as the two men hurried out of the room. With the two men dealt with, Harold turned back to the phone on the table. There was another call he had to make and he was sure that the other person was going to be able to pick up on the other end. He wasted no time in dialing the number and waited until the other person picked up.

“Hello, it’s been quite a while, hasn’t it?” Harold asked. “How are things going, Isaac?”

 

*****

 

[14th of September, 2740 AD; Golding Motel, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

Just north of Helm, Johan and Pariton had reached the small town of Habicht after their encounter with Korbin. The motel was about the only thing notable in the town as Johan entered with Pariton close behind him. A small room awaited them with only a single bed and bathroom inside. Johan sat on the bed while Pariton leaned against the wall and looked out the window.

“You can sit here too if you want,” Johan said.

“I… As much as I’d like to, I think I’m fine here,” Pariton replied. “I’d like to talk to you about the mission, if that’s okay with you.”

“There’s no problem with talking to me about it,” Johan said, “We are partners, after all.”

Pariton chuckled. “I should never doubt you, Mr. Johan. Anyway, you were speaking about that woman earlier and I did some scoping out around Habicht. Seems like I’ve found out something interesting.”

“Your skills are developing into quite an asset,” Johan replied. “Then again, you always had that potential inside of you. What did you find out?”

“About five miles to the north is a campground,” Parition said. “It’s been abandoned for quite some time but from the conversation I had with the owner of the motel, it seems that someone has been going there and back lately.”

Johan rubbed his chin and closed his eyes. “A lead, then.”

“We have to check it out,” Pariton replied. “They would have to be there if someone is occupying the campground.”

“Why not go there now?” Johan asked. “Sun’s about to set soon, so we can go and sneak in.”

“A great idea,” Pariton said. “Let’s waste no time… Mr. Johan, behind you, outside the window.”

Johan turned around and caught a glimpse of a person, but they quickly ducked under and out of sight. A shrug followed as Johan turned back to Pariton.

“Suspicious,” Johan said. “Or maybe I’m just being a bit paranoid. Best not to think about it, Pekka.”

Pariton got off of the wall and stood up straight. “If anyone tries to attack, I’ll be sure to rough them up. I won’t allow you to get hurt.”

“That’s greatly appreciated, but it won’t be needed,” Johan replied. “This is a stealth mission, so we’re looking to avoid conflict.”

“Then I’ll follow your lead.”

Johan stood up. “We’ll be fine so long as we work together,” he said. “Now let’s go and find the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

They headed out of the room and out into the lot. Johan looked to both his left and right, but no one was there. Whoever was peeking through the window had already left by now, which made Johan think that they were just a passerby that happened to stumble on his conversation. He did not think much of it since he had other plans that involved infiltrating the campground at night.

“If we’re to find her, then that’s only place,” Johan said. “Shall we?”

Pariton followed after Johan as the two walked away from the motel and towards the town’s exit. They were headed to the campground by themselves, but another trailed behind them several yards away. A woman of average height hid behind the corner of the building as she watched the two walk out and decided to follow them. She had brown hair tied back in a ponytail and wore a light blue shirt and pants with a dark blue cloak. Johan and Pariton continued to walk out of town as the woman made sure to keep her distance.

“There’s no doubt about it,” she said. “If I follow them, I’ll be sure to find the person that killed my brother!”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

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…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 21 (Part 2)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She laughed as Igor turned away.

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing, madame,” Igor replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Perhaps we should greet them,” Igor said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Take care,” Brook replied.

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

“Madame, did you leave?” Ayame asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Damn it!” Igor said.

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aron lowered his head. “I’m sorry.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really now?” Korbin asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You found out something?” Henry asked.

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

“Explain,” Henry said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know what you did,” Korbin said.

“What do you mean?” Aron asked.

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

Aron shook his head.

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

“What… what are you talking about?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 21 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Torturous?” Sorin asked.

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

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

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

Sorin frowned. “Excuse me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?”

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

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

“What’s so funny now?” Sorin asked.

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

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

Sorin picked up his sword. “Damn it!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silvia kept herself quiet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ayanna exclaimed. “Silvia!”

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

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

“I’m sorry… Ayanna…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin gave a jovial smile. “So?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lawrence!” Ayanna yelled.

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

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

“Like hell we will!” Gavin exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’d still trust him?” Gavin asked.

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

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

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

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

“Don’t blame yourself,” Law said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We were too late,” Johan said.

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re imagining things,” Pariton said.

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

“You’re not wrong,” Johan answered.

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

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

“That is enough,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

Erik nodded. “Understood.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 2)

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

 

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

“Ah, Gale, you’re here,” Johan said.

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?” Gale asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Same to you, Gale,” he said.

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

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

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

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

Johan chuckled. “If you insist.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

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

“You saved me?” Jelka asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you speaking of the bird?”

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I had no idea,” Bradley replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin tilted his head. “Excuse me?”

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

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

“Sure thing,” Bradley replied.

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

“Silvia! Are you alright?” Ayanna asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin looked over at Erik and tilted his head upwards.

“Got it, Korbin,” Erik said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wait, like right now?” Law asked.

“You heard him,” Gavin said.

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

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

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

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

“Thank you, guys,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

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