Sundown – Chapter 30 (Part 2)

[17th of September, 2740 AD; Copper Hotel, Oelaans, Thekohn – Felis District]

 

Inside the hotel, everyone met inside the lounge as Sorin began to explain to Gavin, Law, and Eva everything that had happened within the royal kingdom. Rain and Mina also added in details, as did Storm, with Gavin not once breaking his focus away from Sorin. Once Sorin finished going over the details, they were all ready to speak until Mina jumped in.

“You guys actually found my mom?” Mina asked.

“Seems like it,” Gavin replied. “Of course, there’s no way to confirm it until we head back to Rezar.”

“Well, thank you, Gavin,” Mina said. “I don’t know how I can repay you guys for what you’ve done.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Gavin said. “I’m just happy that we’re able to give you a chance to meet your mother.”

“I’d think Mina has a lot of questions she would probably like to ask her,” Eva said.

“Speaking of questions, I’ve got one,” Law said. “Who do you think I should congratulate: Her Highness or Mina? On one hand, Mina’s the kind of woman one would love to have a chance with, but on the other is the Princess of Thekohn.”

“Get serious, Lawrence,” Gavin said as he slapped Law on the back of his head. “We’re here to discuss our next move, though I guess I should say that I’m happy for the two of them.”

“Thank you for that, Gavin,” Rain said. “As for our next move, I think we should make our way back to Iiayikohn. We’re not in the kingdom, technically, but I don’t feel like we’ll be safe staying here in Oelaans for much longer.”

“They’ll be too focused on setting up their attack,” Law said. “It’s a damn shame it’s come to this. All of Ahnlikohn is going to be under duress when we should be trying to take down the real leader of the gang.”

“I still can’t believe that the queen would be behind the Neu Thekohnian Order,” Eva said. “It shouldn’t make sense.”

“It must be especially tough for both of you,” Law said to Rain and Storm. “Not exactly a candidate for mother of the year, is she?”

“She was always so nice before,” Storm said. “I remember when I had finished my preliminary studies, she and father congratulated me. To think that she would just turn on us…”

“Even if we don’t know why, we have to stop her,” Eva said. “Do the two of you understand?”

“I do,” Storm replied. “She might be my mother, but she and Sir Lauren cannot be allowed to get away with this.”

“Don’t worry, sister, we’ll take care of them,” Rain said. “I’m not going to waver even if it hurts in my heart, because I know what we must do to defeat the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“That’s good and all, but how will we do that?” Pariton asked. “It’ll be tough to gain access back into the kingdom as long as we know they’ll be there.”

“No doubt they’ve got their military ready as well,” Law said. “They’re not exactly something a small team like us would be able to overpower, no matter how skilled we are.”

“We can’t just give up!” Luna exclaimed. “You guys took down those True Thekohnians, didn’t you? Why couldn’t you just do it here?”

Law snickered. “Well, lovely Luna, I wasn’t there,” he said. “My bro would tell you that a lot had happened there, though.”

“By the time we came face to face with Victor Wihll, many of his men were already dead,” Gavin said. “All thanks to Sorin’s brother, of course. That’s a man that doesn’t know the meaning of the word fear.”

“I don’t think that that’s possible,” Sorin said. “I mean, we did see him in Jiaikohn and he was certainly surprised to see us there.”

“Who knows?” Gavin asked. “What matters is that things are different this time around. The True Thekohnians were not controlled by such a high ranking person, whereas the Neu Thekohnian Order is being led by the Queen of Thekohn. We’re going to need a real plan this time.”

“So we’re going to need to get back to Rezar in order to do that, then,” Sorin said. “We should hurry.”

“Then we’ll waste no time,” Gavin said. “I hope all of you are ready.”

“Yeah, and perhaps I should sit next to Luna on the train ride back,” Law said. “I’ve only just met her and I’d like to pick her brain on the way.”

“That sounds gross,” Luna replied. “Are you going to use some sort of hook to go in my ears and pull out my brain and look at it or something?”

“That’s not exactly what that means,” Pariton said.

“And I wouldn’t suggest sitting next to him, either,” Eva said.

“Really? I mean, I guess I should trust what you say,” Luna said, “Because there must be some reason you don’t want me sitting next to him besides the whole wanting to see inside my head thing.”

“Come on Lawrence, you’re sitting next to me,” Gavin said.

“Guilty as charged, I guess,” Law replied. “Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to learn about our young, new ally later.”

Everyone then decided to leave the hotel and head for the train station. As they arrived, however, there were several guards blocking off the entrance as a crowd of people started to form.

“What’s happening now?” Sorin asked.

“This can’t be good,” Rain said as she walked up to one of the guards. “I’m sorry, but we need to head to Iiayikohn immediately.”

“I can’t do that, Your Highness,” the guard replied. “As of today, we are to bar anyone from entering Ahnlikohn.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Rain said. “Damn it all, we can’t let this happen!”

Rain turned away from the guard and headed back to the group. A blaring horn sounded out as everyone turned towards the exit to the kingdom where the sound came from. Many people began heading towards the source of the sound as Rain and the others decided to go see what it was all about. At the right of the gate was a stage, set up for a presentation as members of the Royal Thekohnian Army made their way on stage.

“Is this some sort of show, perhaps?” Luna asked.

“It’s not that,” Rain answered. “No, this is far from some sort of show.”

“This hasn’t been done in years,” Storm said. “I can’t believe they would actually go through with this.”

“Must be to set an example,” Rain replied. “They found someone they could use as a scapegoat.”

“What are you two talking about?” Mina asked.

“Long ago, the kingdom used to hold public executions,” Rain said. “Mostly to make a statement against people who’d break the law. They ended up retiring the practice when my father took the throne but now that he’s gone, it looks like they’re bringing it back for this moment.”

“Public executions, huh,” Law said. “Sounds like Queen Isla’s ready to flex that ruling muscle all over the Thekohnian Region and what better way to show it than to perform an execution.”

“Not a lot we can do about it, is there?” Sorin asked.

“I… don’t think I can watch,” Luna said. “This all sounds so gruesome.”

Up on the stage, Lauren Ahga made his way to the center with Johan right behind him. Johan angled his head toward one of the soldiers at the steps, leading them to direct the person set to be executed onto the stage. The person’s face was obscured by a sack on his head and his arms tied behind his back as he was led to the center where Ahga stood.

“Very good, very good,” Ahga said. “Let’s get this show going, shall we?”

“If you must, Sir Lauren,” Johan replied. “Sit him down on his knees, now.”

The soldier forced the man to his knees and bound the restraint holding his hands together to another rope that then got tied to a latch on the floor. With no possible way to escape, the man struggled as Ahga removed the sack on his head. To most of the crowd’s surprise, Victor Wihll’s bruised, beaten face displayed for everyone to see.

“They turned on him?” Mina asked. “But they were working together!”

“Calm down, Mina,” Rain said. “I have a feeling that they were planning to turn on him from the start.”

“And Johan seems to be okay with this,” Pariton said.

Luna covered her eyes, but took a peek between her fingers. “He would do this, that traitor!”

Sorin sighed. “I still can’t understand…”

With no warning, Ahga pulled out a gun and pointed it at Wihll’s head. The Thekohnian soldiers then started to push the crowd back as everyone started to move away.

“Victor, I must say it’s truly a wonder you’ve been able to survive for this long,” Ahga said. “To think you were crushed beneath a chandelier, beaten to near death, and stabbed several times is quite a testament to your willpower. But no longer!”

Wihll started to cough, hacking up blood all over the floor. “When I see in you hell, I’m going to make your life ten times worse!”

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make a mess of this stage,” Ahga said, hitting Wihll with the barrel of his gun. “You have always been that insignificant little worm that always manages to find a way to keep on living. If you were born a better man, then perhaps that trait would be admirable. Alas, you are but a simple thug that turned to a life with the True Thekohnians.”

“I don’t need your false pity,” Wihll said. “If you’re going to kill me, then make it quick.”

“Ask and you shall receive,” Ahga said as he loaded his gun. “What’s really funny to me is that all you’ve ever fought for turned out to be a lie.”

Before Wihll could have any chance to answer, Ahga put the barrel of his gun to Wihll’s temple and pulled the trigger. A single shot rang out throughout the city of Oelaans. A single shot was all that it took to end Wihll’s life as his corpse leaned forward, only to be stopped by the restraint behind him.

“Oh god!” Luna dove her face into Pariton’s shoulder as he held her tight.

“That’s how it ends for Victor Wihll, I suppose,” Law said as he clenched his fist. “I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I’m angry.”

“Wihll was used,” Eva said. “He’s killed someone important to me, but I can understand why you’d feel so angry.”

“He and I weren’t that different,” Noa said. “If the circumstances were any different, then it might’ve been me on that stage with a bullet through his head.”

Gavin grumbled as he adjusted his sunglasses. “There’s no way any of us would ever forgive him for what he’s done, but I agree,” he said. “Especially when it’s Ahga who killed him.”

“We can keep talking about Wihll later,” Rain said. “We have to leave now, though, or else they’ll notice us.”

“Good point,” Eva replied.

“How are we going to leave, though?” Mina asked. “They blocked off the way to Ahnlikohn!”

“Don’t tell me you forgot how we got here, Mina,” Law replied. “Bro, we’re gonna make some room for the rest of them, right?”

“It’ll be crowded,” Gavin said, “Though I’m sure we’ll find a way.”

“There’s a better way,” Rain said. “There’s a bus that heads out towards Bel which will take us a bit longer to get to Rezar, but it’ll be worth it.”

“What are we waiting for, then?” Law asked. “Sorin, you still with us?”

“I am,” Sorin said. “I was just deep in thought. Let’s go.”

As Sorin and the others left the area, Johan was busy watching over the stage as he noticed his friend leaving. He decided to keep his mouth shut as Ahga and some of the Thekohnian soldiers wrapped up Wihll’s corpse in order to carry it off the stage. Johan continued to watch as Sorin left with his friends, though, as a smile formed on his face.

“This game is getting a lot more fun now, isn’t it, Sorin?”

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 28 (Part 1)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; base camp just outside of Bel Dale, Maeitakohn]

 

The sun shone bright as Gavin looked on towards the fields below the hill. Not too far off was the camp where the Neu Thekohnian Order was said to be, and with that, Mina’s mother. Gavin pulled out a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the camp that he, Law, and Eva would have to infiltrate. Henry and his troop appeared ready to move at any moment as Gavin scanned the area.

“See anything, bro?” Law asked.

“I’ve got a good look at General Khadir’s army,” Gavin replied. “Ready to move any moment now, right, Henry Randolph?”

Henry chuckled. “This is a good plan by Karim, I’ll have to admit” he said. “Arrington told me that you used to be the best eyes in the military, which looks like he was right about.”

“Good eyes are the number one trait for a marksman to have,” Gavin said. “It makes even the most improbable of targets a possibility for me. I’d bet you’d like to see, wouldn’t you?”

“I think I’ll pass,” Henry replied.

“Too bad, bro,” Law said. “Henry has no time to feed your ego, it seems.”

“Be quiet,” Gavin replied. “What the fuck is going now?”

He looked through the binoculars again and found a small group of Neu Thekohnians walking out of the building. The Maeitakohnian army got closer as the Neu Thekohnians put up their weapons and began to fight.

“I see them now!” Gavin said.

“Okay, you heard him,” Henry said, “Move out! Make sure there’s no escape for them whatsoever!”

Henry led his troop down the hill. They rushed down towards the camp as Gavin put away his binoculars and put on his sunglasses.

“That’s our cue,” Gavin said.

“Well done,” Eva said. “Now let’s hurry.”

As there was no time to hesitate, Gavin rushed down the hill with Law and Eva following him. Henry’s troop joined in on the attack, which was good enough to distract the guards at the front as Gavin led the other two to sneak past it. Now that they were inside, Gavin took a moment to look around for the entrance to the main building.

“Over there,” Law said.

He pointed to an open door that appeared to be unguarded. Gavin nodded to Law and then to Eva as they decided to dash inside. Only one straightforward path stood in front of them, so Gavin took out his gun and gripped it tightly as he stepped forth to the closed door before him.

“Don’t utter a single word,” Gavin said. “If something happens, cover me.”

With that said, Gavin twisted the doorknob and pushed the door open. The complete silence that followed did nothing at all to dispel Gavin’s suspicions as he peered inside. No one was there, save for one person that was locked in a cell in the corner of the room.

“Is that her?” Gavin asked.

“Do you see someone, bro?”

“Come on,” Gavin said. “Eva, I want you to keep watch out there in the meanwhile.”

“Okay,” Eva said.

Gavin walked inside, letting go of the doorknob as he lowered his gun. As he got closer to the cell, he saw the woman with short, black hair standing there staring at the wall. She turned the moment Gavin and Law walked in and nearly jumped back in shock as the two brothers stood at the other side of the bars.

“Who… who are you two?”

“We’re here to get you out of this place,” Gavin said. “The name’s Gavin Power, marksman extraordinaire.”

“And I’m Law Power, the dashing Power himself,” Law said. “You must be Wilma Brynjarr.”

“How do you know that?” Wilma asked. “You’re not with the Ahnlikohnian army, are you?”

“No, we’re Ameci,” Gavin replied. “Though we are dealing with those Neu Thekohnians out there.”

“So you’ve come to save me, then?”

“That’s what we’re doing,” Law said. “There’s actually a lot we want to talk to you about, but it wouldn’t feel right doing it in this old place.”

“You would know how to unlock this cell,” Wilma said, “That’s what you’re implying, aren’t you?”

Law grinned as he placed his hand on the lock. “There’s two ways to break a lock, my dear,” he said, “The tough way and the hard way. Fortunately for us, I’ve got just the remedy for this sort of thing.”

“What are you talking about?” Gavin asked.

“Put away your gun, bro,” Law replied. “I came prepared for this, because I knew we’d have to deal with a lock or two.”

He reached into the side pocket of his jacket and pulled out a lockpick. A few moments later, Law unlocked the lock with ease and opened the cell door.

“Thank you,” Wilma said.

“You actually came prepared for once?” Gavin asked. “What a total surprise, coming from you.”

“I like to surprise,” Law said. “Now, how are we getting out of here?”

“Good question,” Gavin said. “Well, I think I might have an idea…”

As he said that, a loud, rumbling noise echoed through the walls of the building. Gavin jerked his head toward the direction of the door out and saw Eva standing there.

“What the hell!?” Gavin asked. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me…”

“An explosion,” Eva said. “We’ve got to get her out of here right now!”

“You’ve got that right,” Gavin said. “Lawrence, it’s your time to shine again. Get Wilma Brynjarr out of here and we’ll secure your exit!”

“That sounds like a good plan to me,” Law replied. “You’ve got no problem with that, do you?”

“I don’t really have much of a choice,” Wilma said. “You seem trustworthy enough, so I’ll go with you.”

“Great,” Gavin said. “Now let’s get out of here already!”

Gavin lead the way with his gun out and pointed forward while Eva unsheathed her sword and walked to the left of Gavin. Another few steps to the exit, another explosion rang out.

“Where is that coming from?” Aron asked from the distance.

“Over there!” Henry exclaimed. “Take cover!”

“They’re close by,” Eva said. “It would be a good thing if we don’t run into them right now.”

Outside the building, all could be seen as more Neu Thekohnians showed up from atop the hill where Gavin and the others were. Gavin looked and saw Jelka leading the charge as she and the rest of the Neu Thekohnians ran down the hill to where the battle took place. Meanwhile, Henry and his troop entered the camp and took cover behind the gates.

“Damn it, there’s been an ambush!” Henry exclaimed as he reloaded his gun. “We’ll have to regroup!”

“What about the Maeitakohnian army?” Aron asked.

“I’m hoping that they’re thinking the same thing,” Henry replied. “General Khadir is a smart man; he’s going to want to pull back.”

Henry turned and noticed Gavin.

“Wait, you’re still here?” Henry asked.

“Well, we’re trying to get out of here, too,” Gavin said. “Looks like they intentionally undermanned this place so they could catch us off guard with the higher ground.”

“I should have seen this coming,” Henry said. “We haven’t lost any men so far, but they’re not going to let us get out of here alive.”

“Do you have a plan?” Eva asked.

“There’s an escape plan,” Henry replied. “Speaking of which…”

“That’s my cue,” Law said. “Wilma and I are going to try to get out of here, but with how it looks, the odds aren’t favorable.”

“Has that ever stopped you before?” Gavin asked.

Law laughed. “I never back down from a challenge if there’s even the slightest chance of winning,” he said. “Wilma, you can run, right?”

“Yes, I can do that,” she answered.

“Great,” Law said.

“The meeting point is over at the river,” Henry said. “Of course, that involves getting past the hill where they’re attacking from.”

“You don’t worry about that,” Law interrupted. “I already know that I can get there. You guys just have to create a diversion while I go and escort Madame Brynjarr to safety.”

“Did you two forget that I’m the commander here?” Henry asked. “Just kidding, I like your plan. Okay, let’s do this!”

Henry led his troop out onto the field while Gavin looked to Law.

“Her life is in your hands now,” Gavin said. “I don’t think I have to say this, but I trust that you can get to the meeting point unharmed.”

“As do I with you, bro,” Law replied. “See you there.”

With that, Gavin and Eva followed after Henry’s troop as Law lead Wilma away from the action. Gavin pulled out his gun while Eva took out her sword as they took care to keep their guards up. The Neu Thekohnian Order still had their position on the higher ground, but Gavin was determined to go through their attack in order to confront their leader.

“Eva, over there!” Gavin said.

Eva looked over toward Henry’s troop battling with several of the Neu Thekohnians. “They’re handling them quite well,” she said. “There’s still some more at the top of the hill, though.”

“Guarding the leader, I assume,” Gavin replied. “Time to fucking do this.”

He charged forth as the five men guarding the top of the hill had their swords drawn. Gavin fired his gun at one of the men, hitting him in the shoulder. He was about to react, but Gavin kicked the man on the chest, knocking him to the ground and his blade to the side. The other men tried to attack, but Eva was quick enough to cut through two of the men with her blade, dropping them to the ground with two precise, successive slashes. Gavin fired his gun at one of the two men remaining, striking him in the neck as he let go of his sword and fell down.

“You! Drop your weapon now!” Gavin commanded to the remaining man.

All the man could do was comply as he put down his blade. As he tried to run away, Jelka struck him hard in the back of his head with the hilt of her sword.

“You did well to get here,” Jelka said, “But I believe you’re well too late.”

“What are you talking about?” Gavin asked. “We’ve already rescued the hostage, Eva and I tore these fools some new assholes, and the Ameci and Maeita troops have the advantage as we speak!”

Jelka laughed as she sheathed her sword. “Oh, but don’t you see? Why was it so easy for you to rescue that woman? Why would we even set up this pathetic display for seemingly no reason?”

“Don’t mess around with us,” Eva said. “Just say what you’re going to say already.”

“You’ve noticed it, haven’t you?” Jelka asked. “This whole setup was so we could lead a bigger attack on the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn!”

Gavin pointed his gun at Jelka. “The fuck are you talking about?”

“How would you even do that?” Eva asked. “There’s no way you would have enough people to even lead two separate attacks in one day, much less in a week.”

“Maybe so, but we’ve got a new friend for that,” Jelka said. “A man that you may know quite well, I’ll add.”

“Tell us now, damn it!” Gavin said.

“If you want to know, you’ll have to head to the kingdom yourself,” Jelka said. “That said, I’m not going to give myself up so easily now…”

Before Gavin even had a chance to respond, Jelka charged at him with her blade drawn. She almost landed a hit on him, but Eva jumped in with her sword raised up to defend the attack.

“Not while I’m still here,” Eva said.

Jelka laughed again. “Well, it wasn’t like I was planning on killing you,” she said. “No, I was asked not to kill anyone while I’m here. Not while there’s still fun to be had.”

She delivered a sweeping kick to Eva, which knocked her off of her footing. Gavin tried to aim his gun at her, but Jelka used her free hand to punch him in the stomach. It was all that she needed to catch him off guard as she ran off in the opposite direction.

“God fucking damn it all, she got away,” Gavin said.

“She’s faster than I expected,” Eva said. “I should’ve finished her while I had the chance, damn it.”

“We need to meet up with Lawrence,” Gavin said. “As much as this sucks, it’s better to let her run for now. We’ve got bigger issues to deal with right now.”

Eva sighed. “I guess so.”

Gavin looked down the hill. “Seems they’ve wrapped things up down there, too,” he said. “We’ll have to report to them what we learned.”

 

*****

 

With the rescue a success, Gavin and Eva were able to reunite with Law back at the meeting point. He was able to lead Wilma Brynjarr back to the point as Henry and his troop arrived alongside the Maeitakohnian one. As all groups were now reunited, Henry turned to Gavin.

“So we’ve got another impending attack up north, then,” Henry said. “All of this to divert attention from what’s going to happen in Thekohn.”

“We’re certainly not in a good place right now,” Gavin said.

“What are you talking about?” Law asked. “We rescued her, didn’t we?”

“I know that, you fool,” Gavin replied, “But now we have a different problem that we’re not going to be able to handle.”

“Bradley’s troop should be around there right now,” Henry said.

“But is that going to be enough, Henry?” Aron asked. “We could still try to go there and see what we can do, right?”

“It’s not at my liberty to say,” Henry answered. “I’d have to speak with the general about it.”

“Screw that,” Law said. “If there are people in jeopardy, then we need to hurry already. Not just sit here doing nothing, junior lieutenant.”

“You really want to push it that way, don’t you, Law Power,” Henry said. “Shit, it looks like we have no choice.”

“How long will it take for us to go from here to the kingdom?” Gavin asked.

“If we’re lucky, we’d make it in just over two and a half hours,” Henry said. “Of course, I’d be rude if I didn’t go and thank General Khadir for helping us, so I’ll have to see him off first.”

“Then go do that,” Gavin said. “As for us, I think it’s time for us three to go on our way. You’ll be able to watch over Wilma Brynjarr, won’t you?”

Henry nodded. “I think we can arrange for her to go back to the embassy in Rezar,” he said. “I’m still a little surprised that she’d be all the way out here of places.”

“Well, we can talk about that on the way there,” Wilma said. “Thank you all for rescuing me, by the way.”

“You want someone to thank, thank them,” Henry said as he looked over to Gavin, Law, and Eva. “I just brought the firepower, that’s all.”

“I promise to you, Madame Brynjarr, that we’ll meet again,” Law said. “I’ll be sure to bring you a pleasant surprise when we get back.”

“Thank you,” Wilma replied.

“You want to stay around for much longer?” Gavin asked to Law. “We’re getting out of here now.”

“Right, right, bro, just don’t start the car without me,” Law said. “Looks like you’re really going to have to step on the gas if we’re gonna make to the kingdom quickly.”

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 27 (Part 1)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Castle Interior Hallway]

 

Morning came around and Sorin got up early to prepare for the day. He had spoken with Gale for a considerable amount of time last night, which helped set him at ease as he knew he had no reason to worry. Sorin asked about the progress in Maeitakohn, to which Gale responded that Gavin, Law, and Eva were now in Bel looking for Mina’s mother and helping Henry’s troop stop the attack from the Neu Thekohnian Order. After that, Sorin rested easily and knew that he had to keep going as well. Downstairs, he went to the courtyard and saw that Rain was awake and humming a tune to herself.

“You’re exceptionally happy this morning,” Sorin said. “Did you receive the good news you sought?”

“No, it’s nothing like that,” Rain answered. “It’s just a simple song I learned as a child.”

“Really?”

“Well, I had a good sleep last night and felt like humming it,” she said. “Do you ever just feel that way?”

“Last night was the first time in the past few days I’ve had a good night’s sleep,” Sorin replied. “So I guess I can see where you’re coming from.”

“Glad you’re able to understand,” Rain said.

Sorin chuckled and nodded his head. “Speaking of last night, do you mind if I ask you something?”

“Go right ahead.”

“What happened, anyway?” Sorin asked. “Is your father alright?”

“That was what I heard,” Rain said, “But I can’t help but shake the feeling that something is going on.”

“You can’t rest until you see him for yourself, can you?”

“That’s it,” Rain replied. “It’s been over a month since I saw him last. Mind you, he’s always been a busy man but he had taken the time out of his schedule to speak with me and my siblings.”

“And not a word since then, I assume,” Sorin said.

“I fear that all I can do is wait,” Rain said. “Whatever’s coming our way, I just have to wait. At least I know I have Mina at my side… as well as you and Noa, of course.”

“Have you seen Mina, by the way?”

“Not since I woke up,” Rain answered. “Perhaps she’s sleeping in after the dinner we had with my sister.”

“It’s a bit unlike her, but you might be right,” Sorin replied. “If you happen to see Mina, let her know that I want to speak with her.”

“I will do that,” Rain said. “Are you going to go look for Noa now?”

Sorin looked back at the castle. “That’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “It’d be best to gather everyone here so we can figure out what to do next.”

“That’s a good idea,” she said. “I’ll await for you for you to return with Noa, then.”

“It won’t take too long, I hope,” Sorin said.

He went back into the castle and proceeded to look for Noa. Sorin was able to find the Maeitakohnian sniper looking around the Thedam family armory room and told Noa to come with him to the courtyard. Despite Noa wanting to stay longer, he agreed and went with Sorin to reunite with Rain. Outside, they found the princess and Mina as well, who were already talking to each other.

“I really did get quite a good rest last night,” Mina said. “Your bed is really comfy, Rain!”

“I’m glad you that were able to get the rest you needed,” Rain replied. “It really is quite a big bed, isn’t it?”

“You must have had no problems being able to sleep, either,” Mina said. “After what you said to me, it felt good to finally lay down.”

“Hey, we’re back,” Sorin said.

“Ah, Sorin, you’re in luck,” Rain said. “Mina happened to pop up just when you went back inside!”

“I see that,” Sorin replied. “Did something happen between you two overnight?”

“Not really,” Rain answered. “She just wanted to see how comfortable my bed was, that’s all.”

“That’s it?” Sorin asked.

“Indeed, that’s all it was,” Rain said.

“Those pillows were especially fluffy, too!” Mina added. “I can only think that that’s what sleeping on a cloud would be like.”

“Well, if that’s all it was, then I’m not going to pry any further,” Sorin said. “Though I have the feeling that that isn’t all there is between you and her…”

“Did you say something?” Rain asked.

“Nothing at all,” Sorin said. “Let’s just go over what we should right now.”

Sorin proceeded to go over the past few days. As he did, a visitor showed up which caught Sorin off guard as he stopped talking. In the gates was a man that Rain knew all too well. She turned around and smiled once she saw him.

“Sir Lauren!” Rain waved over to him. “You’re back so soon.”

“Ah, nice to meet you again, Your Highness,” Lauren replied. “I see that you’ve made quite a few friends on your travels.”

“Yes, it has been quite a journey for me,” Rain said. “Where is mother? Was she not with you?”

“I needed to make a stop before I head back to Rezar,” Lauren said. “There are some things I must retrieve.”

“So you’re in a hurry,” Rain said. “Would you care to at least meet with my friends before you go?”

Lauren grinned. “I suppose I can humor you all for a spell,” he said. “There must be a lot to learn from all of you, that much I’m sure of.”

“It would be nice,” Sorin said.

“Well, let’s get going, shall we?” Lauren asked. “There’s plenty a tale I could learn about you, Sorin Wilk.”

Before Sorin could respond, Lauren headed of for the castle. Sorin had to wonder how exactly he knew his name, but did not raise any questions about it. Instead, he just decided to follow after him with Rain, Mina, and Noa as they decided to delay talking about their plans for now.

 

*****

 

[16th of September, 2740 AD; New Mahrk Plaza in the Callitris District, Bel, Maeitakohn]

 

Gavin was the first to arrive at the plaza, along with Law and Eva as they stood in wait for Henry and his troop. The bright sun was already out in full force in the cloudless sky as Gavin adjusted his sunglasses. Though it had only been a few months since the Battle of Bel, the plaza was much more lively with people walking around.

“It looks like they do have an embassy for Ameci after all,” Law said. “We’ve got quite a lot of catching up to do, bro.”

“It looks like it,” Gavin replied.

“To think that this was the location of a massacre only a few months ago,” Eva said. “Looks like life manages to go on for the Maeita citizens.”

“Well, with Rhodes going out the way he did and his successor stepping up, people seem inspired,” Law said. “Time will tell if that remains true, though rumor has it the Mahrk is just another face for a higher authority.”

“It always seems to be that way here,” Eva said. “This country’s president goes down and another is propped in his place until either he gets assassinated or ousted from power. Stability continues to be fleeting for the people here and I don’t blame them at all for their feelings on the matter.”

“Wonder how long this guy will last, then,” Law replied. “Bro, do you see Henry yet? It’s getting kind of boring just waiting outside the embassy.”

“If you’re that fucking bored, just go head to the nearest bar,” Gavin said. “You usually do that anyway, so why not now?”

Law laughed. “I’m not that thirsty.”

“Anyway, I think we’re still waiting for them to get here,” Gavin continued. “Henry is certainly doing his damnedest to get here late.”

“Am I now?”

Gavin turned to his right and saw Henry standing there with his troop behind him. “You really are an asshole.”

“Still at it with the salty language, I see,” Henry said. “So, shall we head in already? I don’t think it’s a wise idea to share plans out in the open like this.”

“Yes, I think that that’s for the best,” Eva replied. “Come now, boys.”

“Hah, first time I’ve been called a ‘boy’ like that,” Law said. “Since you said it, though, I’ll allow it.”

“Let’s just go, dumbass,” Gavin said.

“Fine, fine, I’ve got no problem with that,” Law replied. “I’ll carry my feet and make sure not to get in the way.”

 

Up on the second floor of the embassy, Henry directed his men to sit at the arranged chairs while Gavin, Law, and Eva continued to stand up. They were still waiting for the general of the Maeitakohnian army to arrive. A few minutes passed by and then finally General Khadir walked through the doors with a few of his men as well. His presence made everyone take notice: though he was not the muscular phenom that Fercewend was, Khadir still had an impressive frame that suited a general like him. The clean cut short hair and mustache with goatee combination helped to top off the grand impression that he made on everyone in the room.

“So this is the leader of Rohan’s trusted troop?” Khadir asked. “I would’ve thought this to be a more lively group.”

“Well, general, we were just waiting for you to arrive,” Henry replied. “I wanted my men to treat you with the respect that befits a man like you.”

Khadir erupted into laughter as he shook Henry’s hand. “I’m just pulling your leg, Henry Randolph! Just being here is the nicest gesture you can give me.”

Henry could only smile in return. “That’s a relief,” he said. “I’ve heard the stories myself, but to see the man in the flesh is another thing.”

“You are way too humble for your own good, Henry,” Khadir replied. “There’s not a single soldier in this army that doesn’t know about the legendary duo of Fercewend and Randolph. Puff out your chest and yell at the top of your lungs once in a while!”

“I will try to do that,” Henry said.

“And I see you’ve brought some friends as well,” Khadir added. “Of course, I can recognize those long locks of hair from a mile away. Miss Eva Bellamy, the swiftest blade of the Swords of Eight standing right before my eyes!”

“Hello,” Eva said.

“You would think to greet me as well, wouldn’t you?” Gavin asked. “I was the one that defeated Victor Wihll in the palace!”

“It’s nice to meet you as well, Mr. Gavin Power,” Khadir replied. “Looks like you’ve brought good company, Henry!”

“Are you seriously forgetting me?” Law asked. “And let’s be honest: it wouldn’t hurt to have a change of scenery, don’t you agree? Get out of here and find a place where we can take in the eye candy, right, general?”

Gavin elbowed Law in the side. “Don’t start.”

Khadir laughed. “I admire you, son,” he said. “You’ve got that look about you where you just don’t have a single care in the world. You remind me of a younger version of my before I met my wife, god bless her!”

“Well, now that’s a story I’d like to hear for another time,” Law replied, “But we’d be going way off the rails if we started shooting the shot right here and now.”

“Once we’re done with this mission, perhaps we can do that,” Khadir said. “Now then, what our objective is is to find and rescue your missing person while my men take care of the Neu Thekohnian Order presence around here.”

“About that,” Henry said, “We’re curious about where it is we need to go.”

“Fortunately, I’ve already mapped out a radius of where your woman from Bryn is already,” Khadir replied. “I’ve received word from my best scouts that just outside Bel Dale exists a camp where these notorious terrorists are hiding out.”

“And we’re the ones that have to sneak in while you guys do the dirty work,” Law said as he began to clap. “Bravo, General Khadir. Bravo.”

“It’s been his modus operandi ever since he became the general of the Maeitakohnian military,” Henry said. “It is admirably pragmatic.”

“The way you say it makes me sound like nothing more than a simple, two-bit scoundrel,” Khadir replied. “Hahaha, just kidding! You do yourself well, you know that?”

“Whatever that means,” Gavin said. “It’s good to know that not everyone in your army is as spineless as that Noa Mzade.”

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone call him that,” Khadir said. “Needless to say, he’s anything but spineless.”

“Really now?” Gavin asked. “That… I guess I’ll take your word for it, then.”

“Alright, let’s just get to the point,” Henry said. “General, you’ve already set forth that plan, haven’t you?”

“Not exactly,” Khadir answered. “Meet at the entrance to Bel Dale and we can discuss our strategy there.”

“Very well,” Henry replied. “Looks like we’ve got a place to be, everyone.”

General Khadir then left with his men as Gavin pushed up his sunglasses and moved to the open door. He was the next to leave, followed by Law and Eva. Henry then motioned to his troop that they would leave last as they all set out for Bel Dale where the rescue mission would take place.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

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…

 

Previous | Next Part

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 1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Torturous?” Sorin asked.

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

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

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

Sorin frowned. “Excuse me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?”

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

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

“What’s so funny now?” Sorin asked.

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

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

Sorin picked up his sword. “Damn it!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silvia kept herself quiet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ayanna exclaimed. “Silvia!”

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

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

“I’m sorry… Ayanna…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin gave a jovial smile. “So?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lawrence!” Ayanna yelled.

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

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

“Like hell we will!” Gavin exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’d still trust him?” Gavin asked.

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

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

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

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

“Don’t blame yourself,” Law said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We were too late,” Johan said.

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re imagining things,” Pariton said.

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

“You’re not wrong,” Johan answered.

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

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

“That is enough,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

Erik nodded. “Understood.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 2)

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

 

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

“Ah, Gale, you’re here,” Johan said.

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?” Gale asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Same to you, Gale,” he said.

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

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

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

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

Johan chuckled. “If you insist.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

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

“You saved me?” Jelka asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you speaking of the bird?”

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I had no idea,” Bradley replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin tilted his head. “Excuse me?”

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

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

“Sure thing,” Bradley replied.

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

“Silvia! Are you alright?” Ayanna asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin looked over at Erik and tilted his head upwards.

“Got it, Korbin,” Erik said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wait, like right now?” Law asked.

“You heard him,” Gavin said.

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

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

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

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

“Thank you, guys,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

Rain turned around. “Mina!”

“Take this!” Jelka exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is she okay?” Rain asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your family name?” Sorin asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There you go again,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

Rain waved over at Mina. “Over here!”

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

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

“Oh, uh, if you insist,” Mina said.

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

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

“Okay!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Perhaps we could ask around,” Eva said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are they?” Sorin asked Bradley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The hotel?” Eva asked.

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 19 (Part 2)

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

 

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

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

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

“What are you talking about?” Mina asked.

“Look out the window,” Gale said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That would be a good idea.”

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

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

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Got it,” Sorin said.

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

Sorin nodded. “Good with me.”

“Wait up, guys!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Here it comes!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You know her?” Mina asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

“What is going on?” Law asked.

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

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

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

“What’s happening?” Ayanna asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you sure?” Eva asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’ll see,” Law answered.

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

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

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

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

“Just go already,” Eva said.

“Fine,” Gavin replied.

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

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 19 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*****

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Take this!”

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

“Who are you!?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain withdrew her sword. “Where are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then I’ll do my best,” Noa said.

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’ve got that right,” Eva said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sure,” Ayanna said.

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

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

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

“You’re pushing it,” Ayanna said.

“What about you, bro?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Only one of the things?” Law asked.

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

“Glad to be reassured,” Law said.

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

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

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

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

“That’s true, I guess,” Eva replied.

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

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