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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