Sundown – Chapter 37 (Part 2)

[21st of September, 2740 AD; Green Fir Hotel – Outdoor Ballroom, Bel, Maeitakohn]

 

After a day of speaking with General Khadir, Gavin and the others decided to stay the night at the local hotel. There, they would have the chance to rest up before heading off to Oelaans where they hoped to meet up with Sorin and Rain’s group so they could plan their next move. Now that Khadir was able to cooperate, all thanks to Noa, Gavin knew that they would not be going it all by themselves and were able to receive help from a select group of Maeitakohnian soldiers. Gavin’s experience helped him work with the general to create a troop that would be suited for going into Thekohn unnoticed for the most part.

“If Noa trusts you, then I do, too,” Khadir said. “He’s not a man that will easily betray another for no reason, of course.”

“I don’t think he has the ability to,” Gavin replied.

“Loyalty is the greatest asset one can have,” Khadir told him. “That’s the reason why I feel like the Neu Thekohnian Order has been able to rise up rather quickly.”

“You think so?” Gavin asked. “I have my doubts.”

“Truly, we don’t know exactly how loyal they are to each other,” Khadir said. “If it’s as you say, however, then their loyalty to each other is strong, but keep in mind that loyalty only goes so far.”

“Like if they have a disagreement,” Gavin replied.

“That group is founded on the trust between Queen Isla and those in Ahnlikohn,” Khadir said, “However, if something were to happen where that trust were to break, then it’s obvious where the weakest link of the chain resides.”

The conversation he had earlier with the general gave Gavin something to think about as he leaned on the guardrail of the balcony. He watched the sun set slowly in the sky as he began to think about where that weakness resided. Gavin had no idea what that weakness might be; however, he was not going to give up just because he had no idea.

“Bro, are you okay?” Law asked.

“I’m fine,” Gavin said. “Listen, I don’t know whether or not we will succeed, but regardless of what happens, I want you to know that I really do care.”

“I can say the same to you,” Law said, “Though I’m wondering why you’re being so nice all of a sudden…”

“No reason,” Gavin replied. “I just wanted to say that.”

Law smiled. “I see,” he said. “So what about those soldiers? Are they coming here to stay the night, too?”

“No, they’ll be coming tomorrow,” Gavin said. “It seems that Noa also decided to go back with the general as well.”

“So it’s just you, me, and Eva, then.”

“What are you thinking about, Lawrence?” Gavin asked. “It better not be what I think it is…”

“No, no, of course not,” Law replied. “Though you did manage to get closer to her than I ever will. Good job!”

“That was… That was an accident!” Gavin exclaimed. “I had no intention of ever coming into contact with her there and you fucking know it!”

“Relax, bro, I was only making a joke.”

“Your joke needs work,” Gavin said. “Besides, I’m sure she’s just getting her rest after what she did at the tavern earlier.”

“I don’t blame her,” Law replied. “There’s quite a bit that I know about her, though I did promise to keep it a secret. You know how it is.”

Gavin looked away. “Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with our job,” he said. “If we want to talk about it, we can do it after this is over.”

“No, I’m sure she doesn’t want to speak about it again,” Law said. “It’s a sensitive topic for her, let’s just put it at that.”

Gavin sighed and began to walk away. “Then it’s none of my concern,” he replied. “Come on, we’re not going to get anything done just by standing around. Let’s just focus on getting ready for tomorrow.”

“Okay, I suppose we can do that,” Law said.

The two left the outdoor ballroom and went inside. There was little either brother could do at the moment, but Gavin knew that they would be able to get moving once they hit the road in the morning.

 

*****

 

[21st of September, 2740 AD; inside the Del Bosque household, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

After an extensive dinner, Sorin and the others found themselves with Lino in his study. There was much to speak about concerning what happened earlier in the day as Lino walked over to one of the bookshelves and took out a large book. Sorin watched as Lino walked over to the desk and laid the book open on the top.

“So you’re looking for the best path into Thekohn without using the train, right?” Lino asked. “Since I can’t offer you my vehicle, I’ll show you an old path I used to take back in the day.”

“An old path?” Sorin asked. “Does no one else know about this?”

“A couple of old buddies of mine, but that’s it,” Lino replied. “It’ll help you through and get you across the border unnoticed. Hey, Alexis, your dad’s never said anything about it to you, has he?”

“Nothing,” Alexis replied. “It’s funny how Luna and I share something in common; I thought that would never happen!”

“You better not,” Luna said.

“Aw, please, Luna, go easy on the guy,” Lino said. “I’ve already told him he’s free to come work with me whenever he wants. No need to worry about him snatching your gear, right?”

“I… I guess, but still he’s just a real buffoon!” Luna exclaimed. “He’s not going to get off easy just because his father is friends with you, papa!”

Lino shook his head as he picked up the book. “Guess I can’t change your mind, can I? Anyway, Your Highness, here’s the route drawn out exactly as I remember it.”

Rain took the book in her hands. “Thank you, Lino,” she said. “Ah, I see that we’ll be heading through the Habicht Forest… Oh, my…”

“What is it?” Sorin asked.

“I remember this place,” Rain replied as she placed her finger on the map. “This place is where Sir Lauren’s mansion is located.”

Rain directed everyone to look to where she was pointing at. The location went west of where they were at the moment and several miles away from the city of Oelaans. Sorin had never been through the route before, but if what Rain said was true, then he knew that they had an advantage all thanks to Rain’s memory.

“His mansion?” Mina asked. “But doesn’t he live with you guys in the castle? Why does he need a mansion?”

“It was where he used to live before he was picked out by my father to serve the royal family,” Rain answered. “Sir Lauren used to work in various trades and made a lot of money, which lead to what is now known as Ahga Manor.”

“But right now it’s unoccupied,” Pekka said. “This route is much more secure than the one I had planned in my head, it seems.”

“Don’t worry,” Lino said, “You’ll be able to travel once you make it out of the town. Shouldn’t take too long for you to make it to the forest once that happens.”

“Yes, and once we make it out, we’ll be right on the way to Ahga Manor,” Rain said. “That walk should take less than an hour if we’re quick enough, and after that, we can start making our way towards Oelaans.”

Sorin leaned against the wall. “Do you believe that we will be able to get there without delay?”

“You can trust me, Mr. Wilk,” Lino replied. “I guarantee that you’ll be in Oelaans within the next day or my name ain’t Lino Del Bosque!”

“Yeah, I doubt Luna’s dad would lie to us,” Mina said. “There’s absolutely no reason that he would give us the wrong directions!”

But as everybody was talking, a loud noise knocked through the air. It sounded like a small object hitting against a large surface or wall, which caused Sorin and the others to look around. None of them could find the source of the noise, but that’s when someone began to speak up.

“Attention, royal princess of Thekohn! This is the Neu Thekohnian Order and we have you cornered!”

“The Neu Thekohnian Order?” Lino asked.

Sorin eyed the entrance to the house as he recognized the owner of the voice. There was no mistaking it. “How could they have followed us here?”

“I have no idea,” Rain said.

“They must have found out where we were somehow,” Mina said. “There’s no way they could have figured any of this out on their own!”

The Neu Thekohnian Order member from outside spoke up again. “This is no warning! We will do whatever it takes to bring you out, even if it means burning this house down!”

“I’m not the only one who thinks that voice is familiar, am I?” Sorin asked to Rain and Mina.

Rain nodded. “There can be only one person,” she said. “She must have gotten some assistance from the outside.”

“We can’t just ignore her now,” Mina replied. “Don’t worry, Mr. Del Bosque, we’ll take care or these villains!”

Lino chortled. “You think I’m going to just sit here and do nothing while the bastards responsible for Lenne’s death threaten my friends and family? That’s a bunch of nonsense, Mina!”

“But you retired, right?” Luna asked.

“My sweet Luna, you shouldn’t worry,” Lino replied. “Just give me a minute and I’ll drive the Neu Thekohnian Order outta here myself!”

Lino hurried out of the study as the others were left to confront Jelka and the rest of her group outside. For Sorin, he knew that he was going to face her once more and once more she was going to fight against him. What he had no idea about, however, was what Jelka had in store for him and his friends. But there was no way to know until Sorin actually got out of the house with the others right by his side. When they finally left the house, they were greeted by not just Jelka and her small group, but by one Erik Ellis as well.

“What the hell?” Sorin asked. “Aren’t you one of Korbin’s guys? Why are you here?”

Erik rolled his eyes. “Do you really want to worry about me? I think you should worry about what you’re going to do now that you guys are surrounded with nowhere to go!”

“You know if they find out you’ve been working with the Neu Thekohnian Order, there will be serious consequences for you,” Sorin said. “Don’t you know what happens to someone like you?”

“Give me a break, guy,” Erik said. “I’m not going to get in trouble, and even if I did, it’s not like any of you are going to come running to President Hasker or General Fercewend about what I’m doing.”

“What are you talking about?” Pekka asked.

“Let’s just say I’m just doing my job,” Erik replied. “It’s not like I’m different from any of you, right? You do all the work that that princess asks of you without a second question, so we’re not all that different.”

“You chose to side with a group of villains that only serve to kill people,” Mina said, “There’s no way we’re similar!”

Erik yawned. “Jelka, you know what to do, right?”

“You want them eliminated,” Jelka said.

“How did you find us?” Luna asked. “If there’s one thing I want to know, it’s that. You aren’t just going to come here and try to do us in without any sort of explanation, nor are we going to just sit back and take it! Whatever you’re planning, we are going to put a stop to it, I’ll have you know!”

“I was only told that you’d be here,” Jelka replied.

“I might as well take it from here,” Erik said. “Actually, Mr. Losa, was it? Perhaps you should tell them for me and save me the time, because it’s so much more fun to see betrayal play out right before my very eyes.”

“Betrayal? What is he talking about?” Sorin asked.

“Alexis, did you sell us out?” Luna wondered. “You can’t… even you wouldn’t go this low, would you?”

Alexis clenched his fist and sighed. “Luna, I’m sorry,” he said. “They… They made me a good offer and I couldn’t turn it down…”

“You didn’t!” Mina exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, but Mr. Ahga, he reached out to me specifically,” Alexis replied. “I guess at the time, I didn’t think too much of it, but now I’m not so sure it was really worth it.”

“You… This is unbelievable,” Luna said. “I… I would have thought at least you of all people wouldn’t have fallen to joining the Neu Thekohnian Order, but I guess I was stupid to even believe in you in the first place…”

“Man, what a turn of events,” Erik said. “Now you know all about how it feels to be stabbed in the back by someone you thought you could trust!”

“So this is part of your plan,” Jelka said. “You really have no honor as a person, do you?”

“Hey, it’s all fair on the battlefield,” Erik replied. “All the greats know you have to play dirty in order to win!”

“If that’s the case, then maybe he had a point,” Jelka said. “This fight we’re about to have… Princess Rain Zano Thedam!”

Rain turned her head. “What is it?”

“What is it that you fight for?” Jelka asked. “Why do you continue to go on even when it looks like the odds may be against you?”

“You want to know why I fight,” Rain said, “I’m fighting because I want to prevent the war from happening.”

“I see,” Jelka replied. “Are you aware of Chancellor Harring’s crimes against his own people?”

“I’ve heard many things,” Rain answered.

“Why are you asking her these questions?” Sorin asked. “Why do Rain’s answers matter to you?”

Jelka paused as she tilted her head down. “Because I want to know if there’s a better way,” she said. “Something… anything… if there’s an answer that exists, then I need to know!”

Sorin could not see Jelka’s face based on her stance, but he thought for a moment he could see a single tear run down her face. He understood the reason why she was asking those questions and he had a feeling that she was not done asking questions yet.

“Please tell me, Your Highness,” Jelka said, “Just what exactly is my reason to keep fighting?”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter