[21st of September, 2740 AD; Del Bosque household, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]
Sorin was surprised to see where Luna lived as he took in the sight of the two-story house before him. Though perhaps it was not as surprising considering the kind of work that Luna’s parents did. All Sorin could do was watch as Luna walked closer to the front door while the others just stood and watched with him. It took some time for Luna to make it to the front door, but soon enough, she was right in front of the main door.
“It’s kind of strange, isn’t it?” Luna asked as she turned around.
“What do you mean?” Sorin asked.
“I don’t know, I guess it’s just that I never expected to be here with you all,” she replied. “You were ready to take me in as one of your own after what Johan and I honestly do not know how I can ever thank you for that. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that I’m thankful to have met you guys, especially you, Pekka. That’s what I wanted to say, I guess.”
“I should thank you,” Pekka said.
“No, no, this is my turn to thank you, Pekka,” Luna said. “You’ve been a great friend to me; Rain, you’ve been nothing but generous and beautiful; Mina, I adore your unwavering enthusiasm; Sorin, you’re one of the best out there. Really, thank you guys.”
“What about me?” Alexis asked.
“Anyway, I guess I should knock on the door now,” Luna said. “Here goes nothing…”
She turned around and attempted to knock on the front door, but before she did, it opened. Luna stopped as she discovered that the person on the other side stood with the door in his hand was her father. A man of average height and weight with dark brown hair and a beard wearing a large grin on his face greeted Luna.
“Ah, you’ve come home again,” he said. “Can you believe your mother has been worried sick about you? My god, she is going to flip once she sees you!”
“It hasn’t been that long, papa,” Luna said. “Besides, if she’s the one that’s been worried sick, why does it look like you’re trying to hold back tears? Don’t tell me you’ve been crying because I’ve been gone, have you?”
“Oh, no, no, no, no, my sweet little Luna, the great Lino Del Bosque only cries after a great victory,” he replied, “And right now, seeing you here is all the victory that I could ask for.”
The two hugged it out as everyone just watched. There was no need to interrupt this moment, Sorin thought, as it was indeed nice to see the two reunite with such emotion. A couple moments later, Luna and her father separated as she turned towards the group again.
“Guys, this is my father, Lino Del Bosque,” she said. “He’s the former junior lieutenant of the Ahnlikohnian military and a great chef, too!”
Mina’s eyes lit up. “You cook food?”
Lino guffawed. “Ah, I’m afraid that that’s just what I do for work, young lady,” he replied. “If you really want to see the best the Del Bosque family has to offer, you should see my wife! I guarantee that what she’s got cooking will knock those boots of yours right off of your feet!”
“Wow, I can’t wait!” Mina exclaimed.
“It does sound nice,” Rain said. “I suppose we have no choice but to stay for dinner, don’t you agree, Luna?”
Luna smiled as she nodded. “Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking too!”
“Is that really who I think it is, Luna?” Lino asked. “The real deal herself, right before my very eyes?”
“Of course, it would be impolite if we didn’t introduce ourselves,” Rain replied. “My name is Rain Zano Thedam, princess of the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Del Bosque.”
“Oh, I already know who you are, Your Highness,” Lino said. “Boy, it is getting a little tense around here, though, with all the jabbering about what’s going to happen. I heard that even a few people got injured and even killed during Queen Amelia’s speech earlier!”
“Excuse me?” Sorin asked.
“Guess it makes sense that you didn’t hear about it if you were traveling here,” Lino said, “But it’s the truth. And here I am thinking that we were done fighting ten years ago…”
“I was afraid of this,” Sorin said. “We’re losing time…”
“Is there any chance we could discuss this further inside?” Rain asked. “I want to hear all about what happened today.”
“Of course,” Lino replied. “There’s no way I’d turn away Luna’s friends. Let’s get inside and we can talk all to your heart’s content!”
Everyone hurried inside the house, with Sorin being the last to enter. Before he could, however, he had the feeling that something was not right. Sorin could not shake the feeling that someone was watching him from a distance. He looked out towards the front yard around for a moment, but there was no one that he could see. Perhaps he was just being too cautious, Sorin thought, as he went inside and joined the others.
[21st of September, 2740 AD; Golding Motel, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]
Johan reviewed the letter in his hands as he was still surprised at what he had just discovered. It was not as surprising as it was when he discovered its existence because Johan always had the feeling that something was amiss with Lauren Ahga and his role in the Neu Thekohnian Order. No, what the real surprise was that the letter was addressed from the group Foundation. The pieces were starting the come together and Johan knew that he had to keep moving. He had to work fast since he had the feeling that all of these groups would be making their way towards the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. There was little time for Johan to rest, although he did wish that there was some sort of a break in between the trips from each town.
Inside the letter, Ahga was to receive a generous payment from someone known merely as “Mr. K.” Johan smiled since he suspected that he already knew who this person was, but continued to read over once more. The letter continued on and explained that once the war against Ahnlikohn was over, both Ameci and Iiayikohn were to help the kingdom take over the Ahnlikohnian government and annex the nation into Thekohn.
“Once the fall is all but ensured, through thorough methods, the land of Ahnlikohnian will be handed to Thekohn and Queen Isla Zano Thedam. And you, Laurence, will be rewarded with a heaping sum for all you’ve done for us. Indeed, Isla was wise to choose you. As for that pawn of yours, I will see to it that she is taken care of once her usefulness is no longer needed.”
Now Johan knew why Jelka was able to trust him. He wondered to himself if there existed a way for him to tell her in full about what he had learned. If he was able to run into her alone, then he would have that chance, but since there were so many people counting on Jelka’s participation, Johan doubted he could find a way to do so.
“It’ll have to wait, I guess,” he said.
What Johan needed to do now, though, was find a way to turn it all around for his benefit. The game was changing before him and he had to find a way to keep moving amidst the action. He had been able to rely on other people based on how they would react, but now it was his turn to stand in the spotlight. It was now that Johan needed to ignite the fuse and blow up what stood against him and he had a feeling that he knew what he needed to do next.
“If there’s a way, then I think I know what I have to do,” Johan said. “I only wish I had a way of telling him, though.”
Before he could do into more detail, however, Johan began to hear muffled voices coming from the outside. He took a peek out the window and saw Jelka speaking with Erik Ellis. She was joined by several men and women dressed in Neu Thekohnian Order garb as Johan wondered what a member of Korbin’s group was doing down here. Johan opened the window to a small crack and began to listen with intent.
“Well, I did just get the order from Mr. Kunigunde,” Erik said. “Looks like there’s some people headed towards the kingdom and he wants someone to put a stop to them by any means necessary.”
“What does this have to do with my revenge?” Jelka asked.
“If they get their way, then the war against the Ahnlikohnian government will not happen,” Erik replied. “You don’t want that, do you? You want to see Chancellor Harring receive punishment, right?”
“That much is true,” Jelka replied. “You have any idea on who these people are, by any chance?”
“I was told that the group is being led by the royal princess herself,” he said. “I’m not exactly aware of why she’s doing it, but for Mr. Kunigunde to make this call, it’s not at all good.”
“The princess of Thekohn, then,” Jelka said. “I see. I will see to it that the deed is done.”
Erik snickered. “Good, then that means you finally see eye-to-eye with Mr. Kunigunde,” he said. “Honestly, he is not that bad of a guy once you get to know him.”
Jelka turned away. “I don’t care.”
“Yeah, I guess you would say that,” Erik said. “It doesn’t matter to me, though, since I’m just here for the fun.”
“You Ameci really are only in it for your own glory,” Jelka said. “Whatever, I’ve no choice but to play my part, so I’ll endure it for the time being.”
She began to walk away towards the motel where Johan was staying. He watched as she approached his window and hid himself before she got closer. Jelka stopped for a moment as she looked back at Erik and the other members of the Neu Thekohnian Order, only to resume as she walked off to the left of the window. Once she was gone, Johan looked out again and saw Erik still standing with the other members.
“I think I can play this guy pretty well,” Johan said. “Let’s see if I can’t get some information out of him before he decides to leave.”
Once he felt that the coast was clear from Jelka’s sights, Johan opened the door to his room and left. As he suspected, Jelka was nowhere to be found. Johan thought to himself that perhaps she had a space of her own, but now was not the time to think about that. He had some business with Erik, regardless of whether or not the Blood Raven member wanted to talk.
“Oh, I didn’t expect to find you here,” Johan said.
Erik turned and saw Johan. “J-Johan! I had no clue you’d be here,” he said. “How’s it going, dude?”
“I’m still surviving,” Johan replied. “I was just taking a nap in my room when I decided that I wanted to get some fresh air. Had no clue that you’d be here, though.”
“Could say the same to you,” Erik said. “How the hell did you get here by yourself, anyway?”
“Oh, I got a ride,” Johan said.
“Is that so,” Erik replied.
Johan nodded. “Indeed, that’s what happened,” he said. “Where’s Korbin, if I may ask?”
“He’s back in Rezar,” Erik answered. “He’s been getting himself ready for what’s going to happen here, so he’s just training.”
“Well, good luck to him,” Johan said.
“I don’t know if you should really be here, though,” Erik said.
“Why, does it have to do with those people?” Johan asked as he pointed to the Neu Thekohnian Order members.
“It was just a little thing we got into,” Erik replied. “Luckily, they seem to understand that I wasn’t causing any trouble.”
Johan chuckled. “If you say so,” he said. “So what is your deal here, then? Usually, I would see you follow Korbin around at his whim.”
“I was asked to come here,” Erik replied. “Actually, I shouldn’t even be here. There’s something that I have to do and if I don’t get it done, I’m sure he’ll be wondering why the hell I’ve been goofing off.”
Erik turned around and proceeded to run as far as he could away from the motel. There was little reason for Johan to pursue questioning him, so he watched as the other man began to disappear from his line of sight. Once Erik was gone, Johan looked over at the Neu Thekohnian Order members as they continued to wait for Jelka to come back.
“So I should thank all of you for not saying anything,” Johan said. “Do you guys know where Jelka went off to?”
The menacing man at the front raised his hand and pointed his finger at one of the rooms nearby. “She went into that room,” he said. “If you’re looking to talk to her, Mr. Kuu, then I suggest you do it now.”
Johan took a look and found that it was the room that was right next to his. “Well, I guess that answers my question,” he replied. “I should thank you. I’m sure that Sir Lauren would love to hear my praises of you.”
With no time to hear the response, Johan went over to Jelka’s room and attempted to open the door. As he suspected, the door was locked with no way of getting inside. That is, until Jelka approached from the other side via the window and saw Johan. After a few seconds passed, Johan heard the lock of the door turn as the door opened soon thereafter.
“You are here, after all,” Jelka said.
“That I am, Miss Arne,” Johan replied. “If you don’t mind, I would love to carry out our talk insider your room.”
“I see that that man has already left,” she said. “Did he say anything to you? Anything about why I’m here?”
“Nothing at all,” Johan said. “It seems he has no idea of my involvement with you guys.”
Jelka moved aside and held the door wide open. “Then I don’t see why I shouldn’t let you in,” she said. “You are still an Ameci, however, so it is best you remember where you and I stand.”
“I promise that I won’t stab you in the back, Jelka,” Johan replied. “I came here for my own reasons, not because I wanted to catch up with Mr. Ellis and see how he was doing.”
“So you do know him, then.”
“Only in passing,” Johan said. “He and I aren’t exactly acquainted save for the fact he’s friends with someone I know very well.”
“Is that so?” Jelka asked. “Then it truly doesn’t matter.”
“It really doesn’t,” he said. “You came here for your own reason too, did you not?”
Jelka sighed. “I don’t know why, but it feels as if I can confide in you of all people,” she said. “That Mr. Ellis… he was the one who brought me here. After what had happened when I went to Rezar, I was told by that mustached man that I would be working for him and Prime Minister Dezine.”
“I’m pretty sure I know who you mean,” Johan said. “I had a feeling that I knew who that ‘Mr. K’ was…”
“Do you have something that you want to say?” Jelka asked.
Johan was not sure if he should show that letter he found to Jelka, though he knew that there was more to her than she liked to show. Still, it remained true that Jelka was only being used as a pawn and Johan did not want her to become just another casualty of an impending war. How would she react, though? Johan was not sure if she would even react well, if she would accuse him of lying to her, or if she would disregard the entire thing completely. Johan took a deep breath. Above all else, he wanted to make his dream come true, but he did not want to do it if it meant that another person would be sacrificed.
“Actually, there is something I wish to tell you,” Johan replied. “I want you to answer me this: what would you do if you found out that Ahga and the queen had set you up to fail?”
“Set me up? What are you saying?”
Johan placed both his index and middle fingers to his forehead. “You say you came in from Rezar, right? Well, was it a coincidence that Isaac Kunigunde and Wilson Dezine appeared before you?”
“They told me that I was their ‘piece of the puzzle,’ so you have my interest,” Jelka replied. “There may be some truth in you, after all.”
“Right now, you should think about who it is you’re fighting,” Johan said. “Chancellor Harring has done various misdeeds in the past, that much is certain, but what do you think will happen when he falls?”
Jelka closed her eyes as she began to think.
“I believe you know the answer, do you not? After all you’ve been through and what you’ve done, is it any wonder you stand here today?” Johan asked.
“So what you’re saying is that you think Ahga is planning on betraying me,” Jelka said. “After what he’s done for me in the past, I do believe that he may be plotting my demise.”
“All I’m going to say is that you’re going to have to make a choice,” Johan said. “The reason I made my choice is because I want to fulfill my dream of creating a world without wars.”
“You are ever hopeful, it appears.”
“You say your reason is because you want to topple Harring,” Johan said, “But if you think about it deep down, is that truly a reason to keep fighting for a woman that you know in your heart will betray you?”
Jelka’s eyes drifted off to the side. “Queen Isla…”
“I know how ruthless she is,” he continued. “If there’s a perceived threat to her goal, she will seek to have it eliminated as fast as possible. Consider that when going forward, that’s all I’ll tell you.”
“If you decided to join with us, then why are you telling me this?” Jelka asked. “She could very well have you taken out, you know.”
“Did I not tell you my reason?”
“Your reason? You want to see a world without wars, but what does that have to do with what I asked you?”
“I’m someone who will do whatever it takes to see my dream become a reality,” Johan said. “I want you to figure out what your dream is and what you’re going to do to make that dream come true.”
He looked to the door and went over to it. As Johan opened the door, Jelka reached her hand out to him.
“But taking down the chancellor… that is my dream,” she said.
“I wonder,” he replied. “Well, I could stay and talk for a little longer, but once again, I’ve got places to be. See you later, Jelka.”
Johan closed the door behind him and walked back to his room. Now he had set things in motion for Jelka and all that needed to happen now was for her to take that action. This, perhaps, was the biggest risk that Johan took as he had no clue if Jelka would even respond the way he expected. Regardless, if all was going to go according to plan, Johan had to keep moving. There was another place he had to be and Johan was sure that once he made it to Thekohn, Lauren Ahga was going to be in for a nice little surprise.
To be continued…