Kiri slid back into the dark and made her way across town. She had one more stop to make before returning home. She made her way to the one house in town where she knew she wouldn’t have any trouble entering. There was no activity near the house, so she slipped in through the unlocked door. The interior of the house was dark and quiet. Kiri moved slowly and tried to avoid the windows. She searched the house.
Kiri found a room that appeared to be Voler’s office. She was searching the desktop and the drawers for anything that may be of use to her, when she heard the door open and the light from a lantern blinded her. She could see a figure standing in the doorway, with a sword in one hand. The figure raised the lantern and Kiri could see the face.
“Lexa!” Kiri exclaimed, starting towards her.
Kiri stopped as Lexa raised the point of the sword towards her.
“What do you think you are doing?” Lexa asked.
“Lexa, it’s me, Kiri. What’s happened to you?” Kiri asked.
Lexa set the lantern on a stand and moved closer to Kiri. She just stared at Kiri, watching her. Kiri stopped looking through the desk and waited, unsure of what Lexa might do.
“I should’ve known it was you.” Lexa said. “I never did see any evidence that you had died in the fire. I should’ve known you were the one causing all of these annoying little problems.”
“At least I’ve been doing something. I tried looking for you. What did they do to you?” Kiri asked.
“You don’t really believe that I just showed up on your doorstep and decided to become your friend do you? I was ordered to go there. Voler sent me. He wanted me to get close to you so we could use your establishment as a headquarters and because a lot of information is passed in a place like your. You understand, the more people drink, the more they talk.
I overheard you talking with the mayor one day about needing help and I thought I found my opportunity. So I showed up and let you believe that I was sent by the mayor. My job was easy, get to know you and convince you to open the rooms for rent. Then when the time was right, I was to convince you to allow The Envahir use your place as their headquarters. If you had, things would’ve been much different for this town. Later I was also to try and convince you to join us.”
“So you’ve always been one of them?” Kiri asked.
“Yes but things changed, I started to like you and I thought I had found a way out.” Lexa said.
“A way out of what?” Kiri asked.
“Out of The Envahir and away from Voler. You see, he had me in his grasp. He had me under his control and I was scrambling for a way to get out. I thought if I could get far enough away from him, I’d be able to escape. But, then I realized that I couldn’t do it alone. I decided to try and get your help but I couldn’t give you any information. I was taking a chance, if you were connected with Voler, I would be found out and he would have me punished or killed. So I tried to convince you to do the things I needed help with and I attempted to do so without giving you any information. I was so close but, you needed to get back to your bar and that was when Voler and his group walked in.
He figured out soon enough what I was up too. Even that night, I was trying to defy him and he knew it. The last thing I remember is the fight at your bar and the next thing I new, I woke up in a jail cell with an enormous headache.
I was left there for sometime, practically outside. They didn’t give me much to eat and drink. Voler eventually came to see me. I begged him to let me go, he actually enjoyed the fact that I was begging, he laughed. He was angry about my decisions and what I was trying to do. He had me tortured.”
Kiri stared at her, not knowing what to say.
“He wanted to teach me a lesson and punish me. He has always wanted to keep me close at hand and to do whatever he asks. To make sure I always listened to him and did what he asked, he carried out most of the torture himself. I believe that he really enjoyed it. He would leave me chained up in a dark cold room where I couldn’t see or hear anything for what felt like days, they were long and slow, I lost track of time. He barely allowed me any food or water. He would only unchain me to whip me; I would look forward to those moments, just to know I was still alive for, in the dark I would beg to just die. I eventually broke. I gave in and agreed to his demands.” Lexa explained.
“Lexa, we can leave now! Come with me, he won’t be able to find you. You will be protected. You can be free of him forever.” Kiri said.
“I can’t do that. I can’t even think about it; I could never endure that torture again. I am committed to him. I can’t leave him.” Lexa said.
“If you won’t come with me then I will have to leave without you.” Kiri said.
“I can’t let you do that.” Lexa said, pointing the sword at Kiri.
“What are you talking about; I have to get out of here before he finds me.”
“Like I said, I can’t let you do that. If he discovers that you were here and he realizes that I let you leave, he would kill me. Besides, as I told you, I am committed to him. He would want you taken alive, knowing that you are the one who has been causing all of the problems in town. However, if I have to kill you to hand you over to him, so be it.” Lexa said as she raised her sword.
Kiri quickly reached for her sword and blocked as Lexa swung at her.
“What the hell!” Kiri thought.
Lexa began to advance on Kiri and drive her backwards until she began to remember the training Sallan had given her. Just as Lexa began to think she would be able to take Kiri with ease, Kiri started to fight back, defending herself. They were pretty evenly matched. Kiri looked for a way to gain the upper hand when she thought that she could use some of Leste’s training. Kiri started to move in ways which would throw Lexa off, causing her to take a double take and actually have to start looking for where Kiri was. Kiri realized that this very well could be a long fight.
“You’ve learned to fight well, in such a short period of time.” Lexa said.
They parried back and forth for a while until they heard someone coming through the front door.
“In here!” Lexa yelled.
Kiri took advantage of the distraction and kicked Lexa backwards, grabbing ahold of the large bookcase; she pulled it over on top of Lexa, knocking her unconscious. Kiri headed for the window when she looked up and saw Voler standing in the doorway.
“YOU!” Voler shouted.
Voler glanced at the lifeless body of Lexa. “So you’re the one causing issues in the town. I guess you’ve learned how to put up a good fight. It would have been much simpler had you just joined us. You would have still been able to have your bar and could’ve run it without incident and we wouldn’t have had such disruption within the town.”
Voler moved. Kiri braced for attack. Voler used his foot to pick a stool up off of the floor and sat on it, not taking his eyes off of Kiri.
Kiri said, “Your girlfriend lies on the floor unconscious and you want to make a deal?”
“Ppfft”, Voler said waving his hand towards Lexa, “I tire of her. But you show interest. Join with me and I will order that your inn is rebuilt by the morning if that is what you wish.”
“I’d never join with you or The Envahir. I’d rather die first.” Kiri said. Voler looked at her with the expression that it could be arranged.
“But I’d take you with me, or at least give you a matching scar on your other cheek.” Kiri said, pointing her sword at him. The metal of the sword glinted in the firelight.
Voler stared at the sword with a look of fear and shock.
“That, that sword where did you get it?” Voler asked.
Kiri stood upright and said with pride, “From my father! Who, if you remember, was the one who gave you the scar on your cheek.”
Voler’s look of shock turned into one of disbelief. “It can’t be! You died, you fell.”
“I hear that’s the story they had you believe.” Kiri said, “But the truth stands before you.”
“I assume that if you carry the sword that means you are the leader, like your father?” Voler asked.
Kiri did not answer.
“I know more about you than you realize Voler. I know the truth about you and how you came to your position with The Envahir.” Kiri said.
“LIES! All lies.” Voler said. “You think you know what happened but your stories have been poisoned over the years and the truth has been distorted. I can tell you the truth, the real story which your father was ashamed or feared to tell you.”
Voler paused for a bit, watching Kiri who didn’t move.
“This, all of this was your father’s idea.” Voler gestured around him. “This army of soldiers, The Envahir, everything was his idea. Your father was a bit older than the rest of us, we looked up to him. He wanted to create his own little dictatorship. He forced a few of us to join him; he wanted this little militia of his own that he threatened to kill us if we didn’t join with him. He started to recruit others to join and soon, it began to take on a life of its own, and he wouldn’t have to threaten them to belong, they wanted to be a part of it because everyone else was.
You look a little surprised by the truth.” Voler said seeing Kiri’s reaction.
“It’s just I never heard this version of the story, continue.” Kiri said encouraging Voler to finish his story, hoping to find information she could use.
“He wanted to build his own army and then take over The Network and turn it into a killing machine. But his greed and anger turned our own people against him and his ideas. They started to leave and it was best because if they had stayed, they would have most likely killed him.
I tried to reason with him, let him know that we could use our skills in a better way. He threatened me that if I ever said anything against him again, he would personally kill me and that I should never leave or he would hunt me down. I realized that I was trapped, feeling alone and threatened, I begged our friend, Epier to stay. Reluctantly he did.
By the time most of our group had left, he was already trying to work his way into The Envahir. To impress them, your father had already made plans to wipe out a shipping company and steal their boats. I tried to explain that we couldn’t accomplish it without having more manpower. He became very angry and violent. He forced us to carry out our attack just as he had planned.
The plan started to work well and we began to take the crew captive, we had them bound and had planned to release them safely. Then, your father just went crazy; he started swinging his sword, that sword, killing all of the crew, even though they were bound and not a threat. Your father had got a taste of blood and wanted more!
I tried to stop him and begged him to turn back to shore. I couldn’t let him kill more and do more damage; I started to turn the boat around and we started to fight, which is how I got this scar. When I started to win and it showed that he would either be killed or captured, he grabbed the weakling, Creance and jumped overboard.
During the fight, the tiller was damaged, having no way to steer the ship, we ran aground, shipwrecked and injured. It wasn’t long after that The Envahir found us and nursed us back to health. The stories we began to hear that your father had spread about us, made me realize that we could never go home. The Envahir took us in and gave us a home.”
Kiri just looked at him for a while, and then shook her head. “That’s a good story; forgive me if I don’t hold much faith in it. I just have a hard time believing it. For you see, I knew who my father was. While he may have had a sense of adventure, he was definitely not the person you described.”
“Of course you wouldn’t believe the truth once you have finally heard it. But that is your decision to make, just as your father had made his.” Voler said.
Seeing an opportunity, Kiri said, “Thanks for the story now I must leave.” as she backed towards the window.
“You will not get a step away from the house before all of my guards are upon you.” Voler said confidently.
“That is true but, you underestimate me and that I am my father’s daughter. This is for my father.” Kiri said as she sliced her sword across Volers’ left cheek sending blood spraying.
Voler screamed in pain, grabbing at his face. Kiri kicked him in the chest sending him falling backwards onto the toppled bookcase. Kiri started out the door and stopped. With the tip of her sword she knocked the lantern from the stand sending it crashing to the floor spraying oil and flames across the room. Kiri ran from the building and without worrying who saw her, she was sprinting across town, heading for the woods.
As she was near the other side of the town, a Sergeant Gamin stepped into view. Before he could yell for her to stop, Kiri had launched herself at her, kicking him straight in the stomach. Kiri rolled on the ground, quickly scrambled up and continued running. A quick glanced showed her that the soldier was still lying on the ground curled up in pain. Kiri was able to escape the town as the soldiers began rushing towards Voler’s house. She didn’t stop running until she was at the hut. She woke Creance immediately.