Sundown – Chapter 24 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey, Rain, it’s me, Mina!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Sounds good to me,” he said.

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

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

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

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

“It’s no problem,” Mina said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is something the matter?” Rain asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thanks!” Mina exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorin smiled. “Thank you for that.”

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

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

“What do you mean?” Igor asked.

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

“I will,” Sorin replied.

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

 

*****

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is that really your dream?” Rain asked.

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

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

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

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

“You’re right about that,” Noa said.

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 22 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I hope so too.”

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

 

*****

 

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

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

“She’ll be back,” Mina replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You think?” Noa asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorin waved his hand. “Hey.”

Gavin looked up. “Hi. What is it?”

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

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

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

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

Law eyed Sorin. “And you?”

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.

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

“You could just tell me,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

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

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

“Damn it, where could he be?”

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

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

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

Sorin was taken aback. “Did something happen?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You really need me?” Eva asked.

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 21 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Torturous?” Sorin asked.

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

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

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

Sorin frowned. “Excuse me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?”

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

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

“What’s so funny now?” Sorin asked.

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

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

Sorin picked up his sword. “Damn it!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silvia kept herself quiet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ayanna exclaimed. “Silvia!”

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

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

“I’m sorry… Ayanna…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin gave a jovial smile. “So?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lawrence!” Ayanna yelled.

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

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

“Like hell we will!” Gavin exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’d still trust him?” Gavin asked.

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

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

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

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

“Don’t blame yourself,” Law said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We were too late,” Johan said.

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re imagining things,” Pariton said.

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

“You’re not wrong,” Johan answered.

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

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

“That is enough,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

Erik nodded. “Understood.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 2)

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

 

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

“Ah, Gale, you’re here,” Johan said.

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it?” Gale asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Same to you, Gale,” he said.

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

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

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

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

Johan chuckled. “If you insist.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

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

“You saved me?” Jelka asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you speaking of the bird?”

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I had no idea,” Bradley replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin tilted his head. “Excuse me?”

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

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

“Sure thing,” Bradley replied.

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

“Silvia! Are you alright?” Ayanna asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Korbin looked over at Erik and tilted his head upwards.

“Got it, Korbin,” Erik said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wait, like right now?” Law asked.

“You heard him,” Gavin said.

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

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

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

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

“Thank you, guys,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 20 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

Rain turned around. “Mina!”

“Take this!” Jelka exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is she okay?” Rain asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your family name?” Sorin asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There you go again,” Sorin said.

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

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

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

Rain waved over at Mina. “Over here!”

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

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

“Oh, uh, if you insist,” Mina said.

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

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

“Okay!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Perhaps we could ask around,” Eva said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are they?” Sorin asked Bradley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The hotel?” Eva asked.

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 19 (Part 2)

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

 

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

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

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

“What are you talking about?” Mina asked.

“Look out the window,” Gale said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That would be a good idea.”

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

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

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Got it,” Sorin said.

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

Sorin nodded. “Good with me.”

“Wait up, guys!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Here it comes!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You know her?” Mina asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

“What is going on?” Law asked.

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

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

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

“What’s happening?” Ayanna asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you sure?” Eva asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’ll see,” Law answered.

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

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

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

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

“Just go already,” Eva said.

“Fine,” Gavin replied.

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 19 (Part 1)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*****

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Take this!”

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

“Who are you!?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain withdrew her sword. “Where are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then I’ll do my best,” Noa said.

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’ve got that right,” Eva said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sure,” Ayanna said.

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

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

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

“You’re pushing it,” Ayanna said.

“What about you, bro?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Only one of the things?” Law asked.

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

“Glad to be reassured,” Law said.

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

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

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

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

“That’s true, I guess,” Eva replied.

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

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

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

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 18 (Part 2)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Bradley chuckled. “You’re very humble.”

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

“Why?”

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

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

 

*****

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I had no idea,” Sorin said.

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

“Well, I understand now.”

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

“Go ahead.”

“About Gale… how did you two meet?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Sorry!”

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

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

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

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

Sorin sighed. “Let’s go.”

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

Gale turned around. “Oh, hey.”

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

“He does?” Gale asked.

Noa gasped. “I… I do?”

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

“But how?” Noa asked.

“I just told you,” Sorin said.

“Okay,” Noa said.

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

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

“I need them to see,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really?” Mina asked. “Okay then!”

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

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

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

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

“Because I had a feeling.”

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

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

“I guess so!”

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

“Did you say something?” Mina asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just don’t get reckless,” Rain said.

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

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

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

Sorin nodded. “We’ll see you later!”

“Alright then!” Mina replied.

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

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 18 (Part 1)

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

 

Early in the morning, Sorin and Gale woke up to the sound of someone knocking on the door to their hotel room. Sorin hopped out of bed and to the door while Gale tried to get ready. Opening the door, Sorin found himself face to face with one of the Iiayikohnian officers that had been tasked with coming to Helm.

“There you are,” the officer said, “Victor Wihll, you’re under arrest!”

“No, no, no, you’ve got that wrong!” Sorin replied. “Do I even look like Wihll to you?”

The officer took a look at his notes. “I was told that the escaped convict was staying here,” he said. “Am I to believe that we were misinformed?”

“No, not at all,” Sorin said. “We just had to make sure that he wouldn’t run off, so a Maeitakohnian soldier is watching over him in the room next door.”

“And you’re okay with trusting a soldier of the Maeitakohnian military?” The officer looked aside to the other room. “I suppose that I will have to see for myself.”

“Let me go with you,” Sorin said.

Sorin rushed over to Noa’s room with the officer and watched as the man knocked on the door. A few seconds later, Noa opened up and almost jumped in shock as he shrieked.

The officer pulled out his gun and pointed it at Noa. “So you’re the Victor Wihll that’s been on the run!”

“Please, you’ve got it all wrong!” Noa exclaimed as he put his hands up. “I’m just a simple soldier, not some wanted man!”

“Officer, if you would look behind him,” Sorin said.

Victor Wihll sat in the corner as if he had not moved at all the entire night. Noa moved aside as the officer walked inside with his gun trained on Wihll.

“If you’re going to shoot, do it now,” Wihll said.

“You’re coming with me,” the officer replied. “Stand up and put your hands behind your head.”

 

Downstairs, Sorin and Noa reunited with Gale, Rain, and Mina as they decided what they should do next. With Wihll out of the way, the path to Oelaans was made much easier. Still, Sorin had some concerns.

“I wonder if it’s really okay to go,” he said.

“What’s on your mind?” Gale asked.

“We haven’t heard at all from Ayanna,” Sorin said. “I’m wondering if they’ve gotten any closer to finding the assassin.”

“That was also on my mind as well,” Rain said.

“You guys don’t need to worry about that!” Mina replied. “I’m pretty sure they’ve already found the assassin and brought them to justice!”

“Still, it wouldn’t hurt to find out what’s been going on since we left,” Sorin said. “I feel like I should go make the call.”

“No, you don’t have to do that,” Rain said. “I have a hunch that Mina may be right about this.”

“But it’s… it’s not like there’s any reason why she might be right,” Noa said.

Rain smiled. “Well, when she says it with such conviction, it makes me believe as well,” she said. “I can’t say for certain, but it’s good to believe in your friends, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” Noa replied. “I guess it’s not worth it to argue with you, though…”

“Noa, tell me,” Sorin said, “Do you still want to go with us?”

Noa frowned. “Why do you ask?”

“If you want to go back, that’s fine,” Sorin replied. “None of us would stop you; however, I believe that you have something to prove.”

“I have something to prove?” Noa asked. “I’m kind of afraid to ask what you’re talking about.”

“We heard you out yesterday,” Sorin said. “I don’t even know what the right words to say are, but you did survive for your family’s sake.”

“It was only because of what I was told,” Noa said. “Running away and hiding from danger has gotten me this far. Why are you bringing this up now, all of a sudden?”

“Just genuine curiosity,” Sorin answered.

“I know it’s probably not much, coming from me, but I am deeply sorry for what happened to your family and the man that took care of you,” Rain said. “What Sorin’s trying to say is that you don’t have to embark on this journey with us, or at least the door is open if you so choose.”

Noa clenched his fists as he looked down. “I could do that,” he said, “But is that what you want me to do? Am I just useless overall?”

“No, that’s not what any of us are implying,” Sorin replied. “You’re a sniper, aren’t you? You’d probably be very useful.”

“Yeah, you might just be a hero yet!” Mina said.

“A hero? But even you called me pathetic,” Noa replied.

“Mina probably didn’t mean to call you that,” Gale said. “I think she was just trying to encourage you… in her own way, I think.”

“Look, I know what it’s like to lose a family member,” Sorin said. “Not being able to know what kind of person my mother was really hurts and I’m only now just getting to know my father better. I can understand your fears.”

“At least you still have a father,” Noa said. “I suppose I don’t have too much of a choice, though.”

“I’ve been saying you had a choice whether or not you want to keep going with us,” Sorin replied. “I don’t know, there’s just something I can see with the look in your eyes. Something that says you want to become better.”

Noa scratched the back of his head. “I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“He means you don’t want to be so pathetic anymore, right?” Mina asked. “Being around us must have awakened some special feelings in you!”

“Special feelings!?” Noa exclaimed. “I mean, I’m around some cute girls and all, but I can’t just spill out my guts all over the place!”

Noa muttered to himself while Gale just placed her palm on her forehead.

“You missed the point entirely,” she said.

“Don’t tell me you’re dating them all, are you!?” Noa asked to Sorin. “I’m not in any place to judge, but even I have limits to my fantasies!”

“You missed the point so hard, you’re up in the stars now,” Gale said.

“I’m sorry!” Noa said. “Sorry, sorry, sorry! Please forgive me for putting my foot in my mouth!”

“Besides, I’m only with Gale,” Sorin said. “Mina and Rain are our friends and allies in this journey.”

“That’s right,” Rain said. “Perhaps we should just get out of this boring inn and see what Helm has to offer?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Sorin said. “What do you think, Noa?”

Noa just nodded his head.

“I’ll take that as a yes, then,” Rain said. “Well, what are we waiting for?”

With nothing else to do at the inn, Sorin and the others left and went into the city. Unbeknownst to them, however, the calm, peaceful city of Helm was being fast approached by many outside parties looking to make a move.

 

*****

 

[11th of September, 2740 AD; Glora-Helm Direct Freeway, Ahnlikohn]

 

Johan gazed off into the clear sky as the bus made its second-to-last stop before Helm. Two people got off and only one got on the bus. The man with short hair noticed Johan and hurried in order to sit right next to him.

“Great timing, Pekka,” Johan said. “Funny how we just seem to meet on transport lately, isn’t it?”

“As long as I get to see you, Mr. Johan, I don’t care if we meet in a run-down hostel,” Pariton replied. “Anyway, I’ve brought some news for you.”

“So what have you got for me about our friend?” Johan asked.

Pariton smiled. “Seems Mr. Mars is coming to Helm,” he said. “Looks like he managed to catch his target.”

Johan placed his hand upon his chin. “Korbin actually managed to catch her, didn’t he?”

“You know who it is?” Pariton asked.

“Oh, pay no attention,” Johan said. “Just thinking to myself, that’s all.”

“Yeah, I’m surprised he’d actually go that far, to be honest,” Pariton said. “I mean I’ve done some things I’m not proud of, but still…”

“I don’t think he’s going to get away with it, though,” Johan said. “If things go according to plan, then Korbin’s plan will come to a halt in Helm.”

“Well, if you think so, then I believe you,” Pariton replied.

Johan chuckled as the bus started to move. “It’s not a matter of belief, Pekka,” he said. “Those Neu Thekohnian Order guys are there right now and are plotting their next attack, or so I’ve heard. Korbin and his crew are going to run either into them, or he might end up facing someone else.”

“Someone else?”

“You have to make a stop in Helm before you go to Oelaans,” Johan said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they managed to cross paths.”

“I see,” Pariton said. “Anyway, you’re coming in from Glora, right? Did you happen to run into Victor?”

“Unfortunately, I did not see him,” Johan answered. “I did meet Sir Ahga, however, and I got pretty close with the daughter of the Kikuishan Empress.”

Pariton’s eyes shot up. “How close, exactly?”

“Nothing beyond holding hands, I’d say,” Johan said. “As for Sir Ahga, I have a feeling that he’s got a secret that he doesn’t want anyone to know about, and if it got out, it would spell trouble not only for him, but the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn as well.”

“Is that something we’d like to avoid?”

“It’s complicated,” Johan replied. “I’ve personally met with one of the princesses and she was extremely nice to me–she happens a friend of a friend, actually–but I’m not sure how I feel about the queen knowing what Sir Ahga’s been up to.”

“So, you’re not sure at all,” Pariton said.

“I guess we’ll see what happens going forward,” Johan said.

“Guess we will,” Pariton replied.

As the bus drove down the road, Johan could only think to himself about what would happen next. He knew that there was a chance he would run into Sorin again, so he had to think about how he would explain what it was that he was doing in the city. Johan hated the fact that he would have to lie to his friend, but he also did not want to subject Sorin to danger because of him.

“Hey, Mr. Johan, I want to ask a question,” Pariton said.

“Go ahead.”

“You remember the first time we met, right?”

“I think so.”

“Well, I just wanted to thank you again for what you did,” Pariton said. “It couldn’t have been an easy choice for you to make.”

“You’re welcome, but why are you bringing this up now?” Johan asked.

“I just wanted to, you know?”

“Understood,” Johan said. “The reason why we’re friends is because of our similar circumstances, so I think that it’s always good to remind ourselves of the past so we can create a better future.”

“Well said,” Pariton replied.

It was indeed a moment in Johan’s past where he had considered the circumstances of Pariton’s life compared to his. That moment was also the time where Johan had decided to carry out his mission on creating a world without wars. He remembered to starry night very well and the look on Pekka’s face when they first met. Of all the missions he carried out for the Ameci military, this one was a success, at least in Johan’s eyes.

 

*****

 

[4th of May, 2740 AD; Burning Light Lane, Hurst, Iiayikohn]

 

Two weeks after the battle of Bel, the Ameci military had decided to stay in Rezar until things were completely clear. Johan had very little to do, however, until General Fercewend approached him. He tasked Johan with an easy mission: find and locate a stray member of the True Thekohnians. According to the general, the member’s name was Pekka Varjostaa and was considered to be a dangerous man. Numerous accounts were listed off by Fercewend as Johan nodded along.

“Capturing this man is essential for us,” Fercewend said. “It is imperative that you are able to find this man and inform us of his location. Do you understand, Kuu?”

“Affirmative, general.”

“Then do not let me down,” Fercewend replied. “Your father was a great soldier as well. If only he were still alive to see you now…”

Johan commenced his investigation into locating Varjostaa, only to come up short several times. That was when he came up upon a conversation in the quiet town of Hurst, a few miles away from Rezar. It was between two women who had mentioned a ghost that only appeared late at night. An odd talk, he had thought, but it was a conversation that he believed was worth pursuing. Later into the night, Johan strolled the alleys of the Burning Light Lane and came across this shadowy figure drinking from a brown bottle. He slouched against the wall as Johan stepped towards him.

“Are you the ghost the people have been talking about?” Johan asked.

“Interesting question to ask a stranger.”

“Then answer me a different question: Are you Pekka Varjostaa?”

Varjostaa tossed the now empty bottle to the side. “And what if I am? Are you one of those soldiers that’s been looking for me?”

“Well, you’ve pretty much confirmed to me that you are Pekka Varjostaa,” Johan replied. “Don’t worry, though, because I’m not going to take you in.”

“What is this, a joke?”

“It’s not a joke, Pekka,” Johan answered. “My job’s not to capture you. It’s only to locate you and I just happened to make an extremely lucky guess as to where you were.”

“You shouldn’t let them know,” Varjostaa said. “I… I can’t go back to prison. Not again.”

Johan was curious. “Not again?”

“It was only in self-defense,” he replied. “If I didn’t kill him, then…”

“It might not be my place to ask, but what happened?” Johan asked.

Varjostaa explained his self-defense against a man that had threatened his family. Though he had only been seventeen at the time, Varjostaa was determined to make sure that his family would not be killed. Then, one day, the man came to his home and attempted to attack, but this time, Varjostaa stopped him. With only a small knife in his hand, he successfully took the man’s life and ended the threat. At least that was what he thought, but as it turned out, the man happened to be part of a very powerful organization. An organization that would seek to put Varjostaa to death and subject his family to tragedy.

“But you broke out, didn’t you?” Johan asked.

“It wasn’t easy at all, but yes,” Varjostaa answered. “I snuck out of prison by sneaking into one of the large delivery crates that were supposed to go on the truck. It’s why I also ended up being recruited by them.”

“The True Thekohnians, you mean.”

“Lokke had offered me security,” Varjostaa said. “He made sure that once I got him out of prison, there would be no chance that my family would ever be threatened again.”

“You don’t know the kind of man he was, it seems,” Johan said.

“I was told about his crimes, but I had no real escape,” he said. “I couldn’t go out there alone because I would be dead!”

“But you’re kind of in that situation now,” Johan replied. “Do you really think that your family is still alive, Pekka?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then why keep fighting for the True Thekohnians?” Johan asked.

Varjostaa had no answer.

“If it means anything to you, I will let you go,” Johan said.

“Really? You’d do that?” Varjostaa asked.

“I would,” he answered. “As someone who has lost family of his own, I can relate to your pain. Even if it meant using violence, I understand why you had to deal with the man who had threatened you.”

“I… I don’t know what to say,” Varjostaa said. “Maybe I could go along with you, sir?”

“Call me Johan,” he replied. “Sadly, though, I don’t think the Ameci military would look too kindly upon me associating with a former member of the True Thekohnians.”

Varjostaa looked down at the ground. “Then… then what is your goal?”

“My goal?” Johan asked. “Well, it’s more like a dream, but I’ve always wanted to help create a world where no wars needed to be fought. A world where instead of bloodshed, growth is encouraged.”

“Then I will help you make that dream a reality, Mr. Johan!” Varjostaa said. “If it means that less children will have to suffer the same fate as us, then I’m on board!”

Johan smiled. “Thank you so much, Pekka,” he said. “I really wish I could have done more to help you, though.”

“It’s no problem,” Varjostaa replied. “As long as I can help you, that’s a reward enough for me. I’m glad to have met you, Mr. Johan.”

“I’m glad, too,” Johan said.

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 14 (Part 2)

[10th of September, 2740 AD; Executive Hotel, Alto Bar – Deca District]

 

Law waited and waited at the bar with Gavin and Eva as people walked in and out of the doors. He had a feeling that Amile would pass through eventually and it would be with his brother. There was little that Law could do right now, so he turned back over to Eva.

“So what’s your drink of choice?” Law asked.

“I usually sit back with a Welsblaek Choice,” Eva replied. “Of course, during the war, I barely touched the stuff.”

Law rested his arm on the side of the bar. “But now’s a different story?”

“It helps me sometimes,” she said. “That’s… all I’ll say to that.”

“Say no more,” Law said, turning his focus over to Gavin. “What’s say you that we get some beers here before the prince drops by?”

“I’ve no idea why you chose a bar of all places,” Gavin said.

“You don’t understand at all,” Law said, “Prince Ahnle is a man who loves only one thing: women who can stroke his ego, among other things. Fortunately, that’s something I can somewhat relate to.”

“No skirting around the bullshit this time, I see,” Gavin replied.

Law shook his head. “In any environment, gratification is the main motivator for many of our actions,” he said. “It just so happens that his is of a more sensual nature, though my desires are more passionate given the fact that I’m a hopeless romantic.”

“Just get to the point,” Eva said.

“Fine, fine, you two win this round,” he said. “We’re here because I know for a fact that Amile cannot resist the call of alcohol and the chance to engage young, alluring women in hopes to conduct whatever unspeakable acts he can think of to them.”

“All of this while blind, though?” Gavin asked. “Forget it, you probably already have an answer for that.”

Fifteen minutes passed and soon, like Law said, Amile and Amos arrived. Amos looked around and spotted the three and tried to turn Amile around, but the taller man in shades thrusted his way through.

“Come on, I’ve earned the right to stroll the bar,” Amile said. “Maybe I’ll even earn the favor of a right doll!”

“But those two… they’re here,” Amos replied.

“Those two?” Amile asked.

Law got up out of his seat and walked towards the princes. “Ah, Prince Ahnle, I’ve been waiting to meet you!”

“Oh, so that’s what you mean, Amos,” Amile said. “I figure that the boisterous one is here as well?”

“He’s here, all right,” Law said. “Why not join us?”

Amile laughed as Amos tugged at his sleeve. “Unfortunately for you, I’ve got other plans,” he said. “Plans that don’t involve you, bud.”

“Oh, but come on, prince,” Law replied, “I think if we really got to know each other better, you’d find that you and I have a lot more in common than you think.”

“I think I’ll pass,” Amile answered.

He and Amos turned away and began to walk off. Law just shrugged and shook his head.

“I guess you’re not worried, then,” Law said.

Amile stopped in his tracks. “Excuse me?”

“Brother, let’s go,” Amos said.

“Not now,” Amile said. “What are you talking about, bud?”

“Talk with us and we’ll tell you,” Law replied.

“You’re not going to let go of this, are you?” Amile asked. “It’s like you’re that little piece of tissue that sticks to the bottom of my shoe.”

“He’s just being an annoyance,” Amos said. “There’s nothing to gain here.”

“Silence, Amos!” Amile replied. “I guess I will entertain your little group, after all, bud.”

“Then let’s head up,” Law said.

He led the brothers up to the bar where Gavin and Eva were still sitting. Gavin had a scowl upon his face while Eva remained indifferent as she stared Amile down. The two princes sat down as Law took his seat.

“So Amos is telling me that you’ve got a lady with you,” Amile said as Amos whispered into his ear. “Maybe the doll would like to introduce herself?”

“What did you just call me?” Eva asked.

“I’m asking you what your name is, doll,” Amile said. “It’s always a good thing for a pretty lass like you to pay me the attention I deserve.”

Eva lowered her hand down to the sword at her hip. “Do you have a death wish?”

“Um, Eva, perhaps you should still your hand for now,” Law said. “We’re trying to make a good impression here…”

“If that’s how it is, I’ll put up with this charade,” she answered. “My name is Eva. I don’t want to shake your hand, however.”

Amile chuckled. “It’s fine with me,” he replied. “My right arm’s been aching all over for a while now. Wrist, shoulder, hand… you name it!”

“When did you hurt your arm?” Law asked. “It can’t have been before the tournament, because you were quite impressive or so I’ve heard.”

“That’s not a thing I’m just going to disclose to you,” Amile said. “Besides, I’ve a doctor’s papers that detail my injury.”

“I trust that you can produce this paper, then,” Law said.

“Trust that it exists, bud,” Amile replied. “Anyway, I want to know a little bit more about Eva doll here. What’s a young woman like you doing in a place like this, and with these two no less?”

Eva set her drink down. “To hear you call me young would almost be flattering if it was from anyone else,” she said. “Needless to say, I have my own reasons for being here.”

“It must be so difficult hanging around these two,” Amile said. “Is there any chance I could earn your attention for later?”

“That depends on whether or not you want a broken arm,” she answered.

“I see that you’re an ice cold one,” Amile replied.

“You’d do best not to provoke me,” Eva said. “I was once known as one of the most feared warriors in the land. ‘Eva the Killer,’ they called me.”

“Brother, I think it’s time to go now,” Amos said.

“Think again!” Amile exclaimed. “So you insist upon that moniker, doll?”

“If you really want to know, dumbass, then let her demonstrate,” Gavin said. “Now stop fucking around and engage us.”

Amile laughed as he put his hand on the counter. “Guess he doesn’t want me to find out, huh? It doesn’t matter to me, anyway,” he said. “What is it you really want from me?”

“Glad to see that you’re friendly to us,” Law said. “As for why I wished to talk with you, it’s about the news earlier.”

“The news earlier?” Amile asked. “Oh, you mean the assassination of the prime minister. Yes, what of it?”

“You must be nervous stepping into this country during such a trying time,” Law replied. “Seeing a high-ranking official taken down must give you a little caution, wouldn’t it?”

“Bud, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Amile said. “I’ve only just recently arrived, after all. What could any assassin want with me?”

“Perhaps they’re not done yet,” Law said. “The Neu Thekohnian Order has been rising up in various places lately and some of the rumors I’ve heard connect them with this assassination.”

“You believe they have something to do with this?” Amile asked.

“It’s a possibility,” Gavin said. “That’s… why we’re asking for your help.”

“My help, you say? I had no idea I was this needed,” Amile replied. “I don’t know how much help you expect me to be, seeing as I lack sight, but I can provide a little insight into the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

Law leaned forward. “Do tell.”

“Their leader is ruthless and a criminal,” Amile said. “Jelka Arne is someone who will not stop until the entire Thekohnian Region is toppled, and the Neu Thekohnian Order is merely an extension of Arne.”

“And is that all you know?” Law asked.

“That’s as much as I know,” he answered. “Those guys are no joke, I assure you. One wrong step and you’ll be on their bad side in an instant.”

“I take that your country has had prior knowledge of them?” Eva asked.

“Oh, yes indeed, doll,” Amile replied. “The Neu Thekohnian Order was founded in Ahnlikohn and they have been a problem for us for a while now. Even the queen’s men have been busy in dealing with these terrorists.”

“All the more reason for you to cooperate,” Law said. “After all, these aren’t simple ruffians going about.”

“I don’t think that’s necessary, Mr. Power,” Amos said. “We’ve got soldiers of our own protecting us.”

“Did I say a single word about protection?” Law asked. “I only want information about who did the prime minister in. Surely you would like to see the one responsible take responsibility for their misdeed, wouldn’t you agree, prince?”

Amile stood up. “That’s more of a thing for Iiayikohn to handle,” he said. “It’s a crime committed on Iiayi turf, which has no interest to us.”

“But didn’t you just say that your country was dealing with the Neu Thekohnian Order as well?” Eva asked.

“That’s not a job for me,” Amile replied. “My job is to kick back, have fun, and meet as many beautiful girls as possible.”

“Some use you are, asshole!” Gavin said.

“Don’t let it get you down, bud,” Amile said. “Even if I were to come in contact with this assassin, I certainly would put up a better fight than the prime minister did.”

Amos tapped on Amile’s shoulder. “It’s best we go now.”

“Before you do, let me say one thing,” Law said, “I believe I’ve gotten you all wrong, Prince Ahnle.”

“What do you mean?” Amile asked.

“I thought that you were merely a fool,” Law replied. “Honestly, though, I feel like we might have more in common than you think.”

“I’d like to hear this,” Amile said, “After all, I need a good laugh.”

“Laugh all you want, prince, but I’m serious,” Law said. “I’ll let you in on something: this isn’t the type of place that’s great for picking up women.”

“You’ve piqued my interest, Mr. Power,” Amile replied. “Where is this place exactly?”

Law pulled a napkin and pen aside and began writing. “I’ll pass this note onto Amos,” he said. “I trust you’ll be able to make it there around this same time tomorrow?”

“Don’t you think you’re being too friendly?” Amos asked.

“I’m not talking to you, though,” Law said as he handed the note to Amos. “You just do what the note says and meet me there.”

“Then I take that you have the best place,” Amile said. “Tomorrow it is then, bud. Now, dear Amos, let’s be off!”

Amile and Amos left the bar as Law chuckled to himself. He turned looked back over at Gavin and Eva who were still sitting down in their seats.

Law sat down next to Eva. “Were you not impressed?”

“I’m more impressed she didn’t eviscerate him on the spot,” Gavin said.

“The only reason I didn’t do it was because I didn’t want to start a fight here of all places,” she said.

“It certainly wouldn’t be good for the rest of these people to have a fight break out,” Law said. “Either way, my hunch is looking pretty strong right about now.”

Gavin picked up his drink. “It seemed unlikely,” he said as he took a sip.

“What’s the next course of action, Law?” Eva asked.

“I’m going to meet him, obviously,” Law answered. “I’m assuming that his little brother’s got no say in the matter and will lead him to the location.”

“If that’s the case, I’m going to go with you,” Gavin said. “Despite his behavior, I have a feeling that he’s not the type to fold immediately.”

“Bro, if this were a poker game, he’d lose quickly,” Law replied.

“This isn’t a game, though,” Eva said. “Not when lives are at stake, and especially not when it’s Alan’s.”

“And that’s why I need you to contact Ayanna,” Law said. “We’re going to attempt to corner Prince Ahnle, one way or another. We won’t let him get away with what he did.”

 

*****

 

[10th of September, 2740 AD; Tranquil Cardinal Inn, Helm, Ahnlikohn]

 

Several stares directed toward Victor Wihll, who sat at the edge of the lounge as Sorin and the others tried to decide on what to do next. There was no way that they could leave him alone and there was certainly no way they could move forward with their mission, either. Gale eyed the phone fastened on the wall and turned to Sorin.

“First things first, before we listen to him, we should inform Iiayikohn about this,” she said. “I wonder if we’ll be able to speak to Ayanna, though.”

“It wouldn’t hurt to try,” Sorin said.

“Then I’ll make the call,” Gale said as she got up.

Wihll looked over at Noa. “So tell me, Mr. Mzade,” he said, “The tragedy of Kals Dale impacted you greatly. Why, I ask, do you associate with these cretins?”

“To be honest, it’s because they’re the only ones who haven’t completely treated me like shit,” Noa replied.

“It seems like they’re just dragging you along,” Wihll said.

“Maybe they are,” Noa said as he viewed Rain out of the corner of his eye. “Maybe you guys are just setting me up to take the fall later…”

“We wouldn’t just drag you along, Noa,” Rain said. “That’s not my intention, nor is it anybody else’s.”

“Reassurance means nothing when it comes from the elite,” Wihll said. “Are you to say that you really care about any of these people? Can you say that to my face, even after all of what your family did alongside Ameci and Iiayi forces?”

“I know what has happened in the past, Victor, and I apologize on behalf of the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn for it,” Rain replied.

Wihll scoffed. “You truly are an ignorant princess,” he said. “Apologies won’t bring back my village nor will it bring back his family.”

He pointed over to Noa, who could only hang his head low.

“You might as well be spitting in my face,” Wihll continued. “To have the nerve to talk down to me like I’m some child is an insult to all of Maeitakohn!”

“What… can I do?” Rain asked.

“I’ve been wronged my whole life and still I live this joke,” Wihll said. “Yet you think by asking me you can attempt to absolve yourself of your crimes? Nonsense! It’s all complete nonsense with you!”

Rain had no response for him. There was nothing that she could say.

“No answer, huh,” Wihll said. “You leave people like me and Noa off as an afterthought and attempt to act as if you’ve got all the answers. What good comes out of the royal family when they continue to look us over?”

Mina sprung up to her feet. “Don’t let him get to you, Rain!”

“I don’t believe I was talk to you, was I?” Wihll asked.

“I’ve had with you, you villain!” Mina exclaimed. “You want to act like none of us care about what’s been going on, but it’s you who’s careless!”

“You’ve got some nerve sticking up for her,” Wihll replied. “I thought heroes were supposed to be against criminals?”

“The only criminal here is you!” Mina said. “You’re the one who’s destroyed and taken lives, not Rain!”

“If you’re going to call me a criminal, then you may as well call Noa one, too,” Wihll said.

“What? I’m not a criminal!” Noa replied.

“Noa is nothing like you!” Mina said. “Sure he’s not exactly heroic or exceptional, but he’s not as heinous as you!”

“And you really have no leg to stand on,” Sorin added. “The moment Gale is done with that call, we’re making sure that you won’t wreak havoc on anyone ever again.”

Wihll turned away and faced the wall. “Seems I’m as insignificant as ever.”

“You guys really don’t think I’m a bad guy at all, do you?” Noa asked.

“Not at all,” Sorin replied. “You just need to be more confident about yourself is all.”

“And even if you can’t be confident, we’ll be confident for you,” Mina said. “That’s one of our jobs as heroes!”

“Thanks,” Noa said.

“I’d like to thank you both as well,” Rain said. “I just had no idea what to say. I’m sorry about that.”

“You’re both welcome,” Sorin said.

Gale hung up the phone and looked back at the group. “I’m sorry to intervene on this moment, but I’ve got some news,” she said. “I called Ayanna, but it seems like she wasn’t at home.”

Sorin nodded. “Okay.”

“So I called the prime minister’s office instead and informed them,” Gale said. “Unfortunately, Ayanna wasn’t there, either.”

“But you did let them know, right?” Sorin asked.

“I did,” Gale replied. “There should be some soldiers heading over soon.”

“Then we’ve got nothing to worry about,” Sorin said. “Anyway, Noa, I was wondering if it was okay to hear your story.”

“My story?” Noa asked. “You mean… about what happened to my family?”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Sorin replied.

“No, it’s fine,” he answered. “If I want to be more confident like you said, then I have to conquer my past and not let it haunt me. I’ll talk.”

 

To be continued…

 

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