[10th of September, 2740 AD; on the train to Helm, Ahnlikohn]
There was a comforting feeling in Sorin’s mind knowing that he and the others were on the way over to Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. His view out of the window gave him a fast paced glimpse of the ever-changing scenery, the miles upon miles of flatlands zooming past with the occasional group of trees as well. It was the first time that he or Gale ever rode such a luxurious machine before and Sorin had the feeling that it was the same for Mina, given her intense admiration and looking around of the grand interior.
“It’s so big!” Mina said in awe. “This must be one of the coolest things you ever get to do as a princess, huh, Rain?”
“Well, riding these trains is something that I never get tired of,” Rain said. “Sometimes I just like to sit back and relax while I’m waiting to get to my destination.”
“Is that all we can do for now?” Mina asked.
“You did mention a dining cart on the train,” Sorin said to Rain. “Perhaps we can take a look at it while we wait.”
Mina gasped. “That sounds amazing,” she said. “Let’s go right now!”
“That isn’t that surprising to hear from you, honestly,” Gale said. “That dining cart’s not that far from where we are, is it?”
“Oh, not at all,” Rain answered. “It’s only a stroll from this cart, so there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”
“Happy to hear that,” Sorin said. “Is Noa going with us?”
“Actually, there was something I did want to ask him,” Rain said. “Perhaps I should ask him myself.”
She got out of her seat and walked over to Noa, who was sitting by himself near one of the windows. Noa immediately reacted with his eyes wide and mouth open as he squirmed out of his seat and onto the floor.
Rain giggled. “We’re taking a little walk around the train,” she said. “You wouldn’t mind joining us, would you, Noa?”
“Of… of course not, Your Highness!” Noa replied. “You guys aren’t just doing this to call me out in private and make me look stupid, are you?”
“That’s not our intention at all,” Sorin said.
“Really?” Noa asked. “I guess I can trust you…”
“What are we waiting for, then?” Mina asked. “Come on, let’s go see what they’ve got in the dining hall!”
Mina grabbed Noa by the arm and dragged him along. Sorin did his best not to laugh as Gale and Rain followed after the two. The trek was not that long, as Rain said, and soon they found themselves within the dining cart of the train. There were tables lined up on either side of the cart as the five made their way to one of the tables.
“We’ve got some time before we arrive, so it wouldn’t hurt,” Rain said. “Excuse me, waiter!”
One of the waiters came up to the table and proceeded to take everybody’s order. He then went off and left them to themselves. While Mina anticipated the food, Rain, Sorin, and Gale turned to Noa.
“Is… is there something on my face?” Noa asked. He quickly felt his face, checking to see if something was indeed on his face.
“No, we just want to talk to you,” Sorin said. “If you’re travelling with us, then perhaps you’d like to tell us about yourself.”
Noa clasped his hands. “Why do you suddenly want to know about me? I’m not that interesting at all!”
“But everyone has a story of their own to tell!” Mina said. She pounded her fists on the table. “Come on, Noa! Noa! Noa!”
“There’s only one thing I want to know from you, Noa,” Rain said while Mina continued to chant. “Something had been bothering me for a while and I believe I’ve figured out why.”
“Oh?” Noa asked.
“When you came to Iiayikohn, it was because you thought that Sorin was Rysol,” Rain said. “I would assume that the reason you sought Rysol is because of his connection to Maeitakohn, am I correct?”
“That’s not something I would know,” Noa replied. “I was just told to do it and to take my time.”
“You never questioned the order your general gave you?” Gale asked.
“But if I did find the real Rysol Wilk, he’d probably try to attack me,” Noa muttered to himself. “What the hell am I supposed to do?”
Gale sighed. “He didn’t hear me, did he?”
“What do you know about Rysol?” Sorin asked to Noa, who was still talking to himself. “Noa! This is important, so please answer me!”
Noa broke out of his daze. “Ah! Why did you raise your voice all of a sudden?”
“I need you to answer my question,” Sorin said, “Do you know anything at all about Rysol?”
“From what I’ve heard, he’s quite possibly the scariest man in the Thekohnian Region,” Noa answered. “Even more so than the True Thekohnians and Neu Thekohnian Order put together!”
“You’ve never seen him before?” Sorin asked.
“Not a single sight of the man,” Noa said. “That day when President Rhodes died, I was not feeling well at all. If not for that, I might not even be sitting here with you today.”
“Was it food related?” Mina asked. “Because one time I ate a piece of meat that was undercooked and it left me going to the bathroom all night! It’s something I really wished I forgot…”
“I don’t think that that’s really important or necessary,” Sorin said as he looked back over to Noa. “Can I ask you about your opinion of Rhodes?”
“Well, he’s dead, so why should it matter?” Noa wondered.
“It must have affected you,” Mina said. “I mean I can understand now that Prime Minister Berry is gone… You weren’t sad?”
“The difference between the leadership of Berry and that of Rhodes is huge,” Noa replied. “In Maeitakohn, the only people that truly mattered to Rhodes were those in the north. Us south Maeita are merely an afterthought.”
“Even with the new leader, I’ve heard that it’s still turbulent,” Gale said.
“Rodik Mahrk,” Rain said. “I did meet him personally but still I know little about him.”
“He’s just a mask, I bet,” Noa said. “A mask for whoever the real leader is.”
“You sound so sure about that,” Rain replied.
“It’s a poorly kept secret, but every Maeita knows that the presidency in Maeitakohn is a farce,” Noa answered as he stared out the window. “Nobody will say it out loud, but I know that’s what everybody thinks.”
“Seems like there’s a lot of unfinished business in that country,” Sorin said.
“Well, it’s only a matter of time before the valve bursts,” Noa replied. “Perhaps it’s for the best that I don’t go back there…”
There was a long moment of silence after that as Noa continued to look outside. Sorin rapped his fingers on the table in a calm meter while Gale read through one of the brochures. On the other side of the table, Mina turned her head and tried to find the waiter. Rain, meanwhile, decided to move on from the previous topic and tried to start a new subject.
“If you still want to talk, Noa, then tell me what your goal is,” she said.
“My goal?” Noa asked. “I… Well, I don’t want to say. You’d probably think it’s ridiculous and mock me if I share it with you all.”
“We’re not going to judge you,” Gale said. “At least as long as this goal is within reasonability.”
Noa took a deep breath. “Guess I won’t say it, after all.”
With that, Noa lowered his head and gazed down at the floor below. As that happened, Sorin heard the creaking of wheels as the waiter quickly approached the group’s table with their food on a cart. The conversation would have to take place another time, Sorin thought to himself.
[10th of September, 2740 AD; New Prime Minister’s Office, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]
“Our first order of business is to gather information,” Law said. “That’s why we came to you, Ayanna.”
“I understand your concerns,” she said, “However, it’s going to be tough going forward considering Dezine’s statements.”
As Gavin, Law, and Eva entered Ayanna’s office, they could hear the vice prime minister’s voice coming out of the radio. Wilson Dezine was to assume a temporary role until a new prime minister was placed. He also expressed a strong desire to promote a sense of responsibility and said there would be further examples to be made. Finally, Dezine closed by saying that there were going to be drastic changes within the military and government, which would start as soon as possible
“Are you worried?” Law asked.
“I’m not worried about having to face Dezine later,” Ayanna replied. “I know that General Reiss will be there and we’ll both try to lower the amount of casualties within the military.”
“I’d like to speak to this Dezine for myself,” Eva said.
“Given what’s happened, I doubt any of us will get to speak with him,” Gavin said. “Everyone is on high alert and they’ll be looking for somebody to put the blame on if the assassin isn’t found soon.”
“Which is why I can’t help you right now,” Ayanna said. “Not with everybody running around.”
At that moment, the phone rang. Ayanna immediately picked it up and placed the receiver to her ear.
“Yes, hello?” Ayanna asked. There was a momentary break as Ayanna clutched onto the receiver. “Yes, send them in.” Another brief pause followed. “No, they’re here officially. I’ll handle them.”
With that, Ayanna thanked the other person and hung up the phone.
“Do you want us to go now?” Gavin asked.
“You’re free to step out,” Ayanna answered. “Looks like I’ve got a personal meeting with Prince Ahnle.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Gavin said.
“Can’t be sorry if it was worthwhile, bud,” Amile said.
Amos led Amile inside the room as Gavin and Law moved to the side. Eva turned and gazed at the two princes as she soon moved aside. As Amile sat down, Amos whispered his ear.
“I see,” Amile said. “Your group shrunk quite a bit, hasn’t it, Mr. Power?”
“You’re supposed to be speaking to the lieutenant general,” Gavin replied. “We were just about to step out.”
“Great to hear,” Amile replied. “After all, I’ve got serious business to attend to with someone much more important than you.”
“Pay him no attention, brother,” Amos said.
“If you do wish to talk with me further, Mr. Power, I’ll be at the Executive Hotel later today,” Amile continued. “Anyway, how are you doing now, lovely lieutenant general Ansa?”
“As you can probably tell, it is busy around here,” Ayanna replied. “I’ve only got a few minutes, so I would suggest that you make it quick.”
“Oh, it’s not much,” Amile said. “I cannot even begin to even imagine how stressful it must be for the second in command to have to deal with the loss of their leader.”
“Yes, well, we’re taking it one step at a time, Your Highness,” Ayanna said.
“Well, who am I to get in the way?” Amile asked. “Shooting a man in cold blood is no laughing matter and the fact that it happens to be the prime minister of your proud country only cuts the wound deeper, I’d say.”
At that point, Gavin looked over to Law. “Hey, let’s go.”
“Very well,” Law said. “I shall see you later, Ayanna. As for you, Prince Amile, perhaps me and my bro will take you up on your offer.”
He, Gavin, and Eva left Ayanna’s office as the the princes proceeded to have their discussion with Ayanna. Out in the hallway, things were finally starting to calm down as most of the people earlier had cleared out of the building. With the quiet hall to themselves, the three moved over to the other side.
“What a fucking pest,” Gavin said.
“Maybe, but I think we really should pay him a visit later,” Law said. “Call it a hunch, bro.”
“I’ve got to say I’m a bit out of the loop,” Eva said, “What exactly did that man do to earn your ire, Gavin?”
Gavin crossed his arms. “Don’t want to talk about it.”
“Eva, it’s not at all important to know why the prince pisses us off,” Law answered. “What is important is his opinion about the assassination.”
“Do you really think that this affects his sorry ass?” Gavin asked.
Law pointed a finger to his temple. “Trust this brain of mine,” he replied. “Who is to say that the prince isn’t the next target? For all we know, this assassin has it out for those at the top.”
“And you think he might be next,” Eva said. “If that’s true, then it would be worth our time to pursue Prince Amile and gain some information from him.”
“I refuse,” Gavin said.
“Come on, bro, it’s not every day we get to see a member of royalty,” Law said.
“That’s literally what we’ve been doing the past few days, dumbass!”
“Sure, Rain has been very nice to us,” Law said, “But maybe we owe Amile and Amos the chance to get things on the right foot.”
“Do you want me to punch you now or later?” Gavin asked.
“Stand down, Gavin,” Eva said. “I’ve no idea what Law’s presumptions are, but I’m willing to accept that there is merit to what he’s saying.”
“This must be a mistake,” Gavin said. “I want nothing at all to do with that shithead and you can’t change my mind about that!”
He turned around and started to walk away. Law shrugged as he looked over at Eva, who was staring intently at the door to Ayanna’s office. The faint voice of Prince Amile could be heard, which was followed by the sound of his laughter.
“Something up?” Law asked.
“It’s nothing,” Eva replied. “I was only wondering why this man still went through with his visit with Ayanna.”
“He’s representing his country, after all,” Law said. “Nobody saw Alan’s death coming at all, or at least that’s what I would like to think.”
“I see,” she said. “Are you going to check up on your brother?”
Law sighed. “That’s something I’m not going to do,” he replied. “Not right now, anyway. Best to let him collect his thoughts before I go speak with him.”
“Maybe I should go talk to him instead,” Eva said.
“Do what you want,” Law said.
“It’s just a thought I had,” she replied.
“Well, as long as we’re sharing thoughts, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of,” he said, “I’m thinking that we should share a hug right now. Don’t you agree?”
Eva jabbed Law in his side with the butt of her sword, which made him reel back. “And here I thought you’d matured,” she said.
“Damn, you didn’t have to stick me that hard,” Law replied, rubbing his side. “If that’s your reaction to a hug, I can’t imagine what your reaction would be to whatever that crown prince suggests.”
“Consider it a warning,” Eva said.
“I understand,” Law said. “Anyway, you only just got here, so you’ve no idea about the type of person Prince Amile is. Judging by your reaction to me, I would think he’d earn a quick reprimand at least.”
“Still, we might have to talk with him,” she replied.
“Not a matter of ‘might,’ Eva,” Law said. “I will talk with him and I will put on the biggest shit-eating grin as long as it means gaining information.”
It was then at that point when Gavin returned. He had been thinking over about what Law had said and decided to meet him face to face.
“So, is there something you’d like to say to me, bro?” Law asked. “Perhaps ‘sorry’ or something to that effect?”
“Don’t push it,” Gavin said.
“Then you’ll see this through, I take it,” Eva said. “What do you believe is the next course of action, then, Law?”
“We wait, obviously,” Law answered. “Fortunately for us, you are staying over at the hotel, so getting there is no problem.”
“Do you really think he’d want to talk with us?” Gavin asked. “Not that I’d want to speak to him, either, but I have trouble believing he’d give us the time.”
“As long as I do most of the talking, I think we’ll be fine,” Law said. “Guys like him like to poke just to get a reaction but as long as you shut up, he won’t go off as much.”
“Lawrence, I know you didn’t just tell me to shut up right now,” Gavin said, “Or maybe you’d like to repeat what you just said?”
“I’d rather not,” Law replied. “As for you, Eva, one thing I do know is that Amile can’t resist the soothing call of a woman’s voice. Perhaps you could spend some time sweet-talking him?”
Eva glared at Law. “That’s not going to happen.”
“Are you asking me to kick your ass right now?” Gavin asked.
“I’m asking for suggestions,” Law said. “Just consider what I said to be… my ideas for how we can proceed with the prince.”
Gavin shook his head. “You’re a terrible liar,” he said, “But seeing as we’ve got little to lose, I’m going to with you share my opinion.”
“Go ahead,” Law said.
“You’ll go ahead and lead the discussion,” Gavin replied, “However, if this encounter with the prince leads us to nowhere, then I’m going to take over.”
“Is that it?” Law asked. “You must really believe in me that much. Fine then, I’ve got no problems with that.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Gavin said.
“Looks like you two have got things sorted out,” Eva said. “So, are we going to head off now?”
Law looked around. “There’s not much we can do here, anyway,” he said. “Best to get a good head start on our prince, right?”
“True enough,” Eva replied.
Seeing as there was no other reason to stay in the offices, the three left for the Executive Hotel. Law was certain that this would be the lead into who killed Alan and he had a hunch that the prince would have a lot to say on the matter. That, however, would have to wait until the next time they met.
To be continued…