“We are placing this man under arrest,” Lector’s grip tightened on Michalis’s wrist. The boy attempted to pull himself free, but the large and imposing knight pulled him out of the villa.
“Wait, Lector, why are you doing this?!” Apollomon and I ran after the knight, and Apollomon grabbed his arm.
“I’m sorry, Apollomon, Thomas,” Lector said. “This…child is wanted for the murders of countless individuals throughout Valencia.”
“What?! That…that can’t be…” Apollomon let go of Lector’s arm. His own arm fell limply to his side.
“I have no such memory of doing so!” Michalis protested. Lector stared long and hard at the boy.
“…Be that as it may, I must do my job,” Lector said. “Your trial awaits. Now, please stop attempting to free yourself; it’ll make it easier on the both of us.”
“Wait, Lector! Please, don’t take him away!” I shouted.
“Please, I’ll take full responsibility for—”
“I’m afraid I cannot let you do that, my friend.” Lector turned away from Apollomon. “This boy needs to pay for his crimes, of which you are not guilty, Apollomon. If…you need to contact me, I will be at the prison in Yew; pay me a visit there if there’s anything you need.”
“There must be some mistake!” I said. “Surely, Michalis is not the person you are after!”
“I have been told he is a brown-haired individual, roughly your size, Thomas,” Lector said. “Furthermore…the individual was last seen accompanying you and your friends, Thomas, and I reasoned to the other knights that he was deceiving you so they wouldn’t think you would be harboring a wanted criminal. Now, if you will all excuse me…”
“Halt!” Victoria shouted.
“…Do you need something?” Lector asked.
“I cannot allow you to take him away!” Victoria brandished her sword and rested its blade over Lector’s shoulder, next to his neck. “Michalis has done nothing wrong! I will not let you ruin his life for something he has not even thought about doing!”
“…I’m sorry…” Lector began walking away, dragging the unwilling Michalis with him.
“Wait!” Victoria started to run after him.
“Victoria, enough,” Apollomon said after tightly grasping her arm. “I don’t like it any more than you, but that man…he would never harm anyone who was truly innocent. For him to take Michalis away like this…he must have done what Lector said he did.”
“No…he…he wouldn’t have,” Victoria began sobbing. “He couldn’t have…he…” Lector was soon out of sight, leaving the three of us alone on the villa’s porch. Apollomon’s grip loosened around Victoria’s arm, and the distraught woman fell weakly to her knees. Seeing the woman who had raised me in such a way made me feel a jumbled group of emotions. Rage, pity, desperation…all of the emotions I felt for Victoria left me feeling more confused than anything.
“Come on…let’s go back inside,” Apollomon said. Victoria didn’t budge. Apollomon sighed and walked into the villa. As I prepared to do the same, Victoria looked up at me, her face wet with tears.
“I’m going,” she whispered. I stared blankly at her for a moment until I realized what she meant. I opened my mouth to protest, but Victoria placed her finger over my lips. “Please…let me go. I know he has done nothing wrong…” As she spoke, I looked into her eyes; they look so determined, so…passionate…I, begrudgingly, nodded slowly, and Victoria smiled and pulled me into a warm, comforting hug. “I promise…I will be back…I will be back as soon as possible…” Victoria gently pressed her soft lips against my forehead before letting go of me to leave. As she left, her long, beautiful hair flew out behind her, and as it did, a disquieting thought entered my mind.
Her hair…it’s the exact same shade of brown that Michalis’s is…
Magnus’s Hideout (Unknown Location)
“That was an interesting story you fed to those knights,” Clive said. Once again, he sat perched atop a pile of empty crates. “Do you think they’ll believe it?”
“I hope so,” I said. “It’ll be easier to take the kid away from the knights than the mercenary guild.” I lay on my back on the cold, hard floor of my hideout, looking up at the plain, white ceiling. The lights were flickering, and in need of replacement.
“When should we go?” Clive asked.
“Hmm…knowing how eager-to-please-the-higher-ups those knights are…” I sat up and picked up my axe from the ground next to me. “They could have found him by now. Any minute now, they should be locking him up in that prison you were in before I found you.”
“That was a military prison; arrested civilians are taken to the one right next door,” Clive said.
“Well, whatever,” I said. “Either way, we shall leave within the hour.”
Apollomon and I had been sitting quietly in the living room ever since Victoria left, silently pondering what had just happened.
“I haven’t seen Victoria since Michalis was taken away. I do hope she’s all right,” Apollomon said, his sudden words breaking the disquieting and awkward silence. “She did seem quite fond of him…”
“She’ll be okay,” I said. I can’t imagine why she’d go so far out of her way to help this complete stranger…though, I suppose if she wasn’t that kind of person, I would never have met her…
“Do you happen to know where she is right now, Thomas?” Apollomon asked.
“Uh…last time I saw her, she was on the porch…” Damn it, he’s already getting suspicious?! Just what the hell goes on inside that head of his?! I could practically feel Apollomon’s intense gaze during the silence that followed my response.
“Thomas…what would you say if I were to say that I think you know where Victoria is?” Apollomon continued to stare at me.
“I…I’m not sure what you mean, sir,” I said. My eyes shifted around the large room nervously. Forget about suspicious, he already fucking knows! But…how?!
“What would you say if I said I thought, hypothetically, that Victoria chased after Lector to break Michalis out of prison?” Apollomon asked.
“…How did you find out?” I asked.
“Oh, I knew the entire time,” Apollomon smirked. “I could see how…affectionate she was for Michalis; almost in the same way a mother would be to her own children. I knew that once Lector told me that he was taking Michalis away, based on what I observed from her behavior toward the boy, that Victoria would immediately begin chasing after him.”
“Why did you wait until now to tell me?” I asked.
“I suppose I just assumed she would be back by now,” Apollomon shrugged. “Since she hasn’t returned yet, I can only gather that she had to follow Lector all the way to the prison to get him.”
“You thought she might be able to catch up to Lector before they got to Yew?”
“Always a possibility,” Apollomon said defensively. “Well, anyway, do you think—”
“I’ll go after her,” I said.
“Take Zelda and Statuedramon with you,” Apollomon said. “Now, no matter what happens, do not allow her to fight any Valencian Knights; if she does, she could end up endangering every last one of us.”
“Understood, sir,” I said. I knew well that if Victoria were to fight the knights, that she would emerge victorious. That wasn’t what had me worried. If anybody saw her coming back here with Michalis, the Valencian Knights would have us captured in no time, and even with Apollomon on our side, there’s no way we could last forever…
“Also…while you’re there…” Apollomon’s voice trailed away.
“If I find Irene or SlashAngemon, I promise I’ll bring them back with me,” I said. “It won’t be like with Adrian back when you sent us to Mandrake Town; I’ll make them come back with me, sir.”
“Thank you,” Apollomon said. “Make sure you all come back safely.” I nodded as I left the room to find Zelda and Statch.