[22nd of September, 2740 AD; Ahga Manor – Backyard, just outside of Oelaans, Thekohn]
Sorin and Mina stepped outside through the back door of the mansion. They found the others waiting by the back gate and ran up to them. Rain was the first to see the two and greeted them. Mina, in return, jumped onto Rain and wrapped her arms around her while Luna and Pekka just smiled.
“I’m so glad you’re okay!” Mina exclaimed. “But I knew you would be, you know, because I believed that you would be!”
“Thank you,” Rain said. “I’m happy you’re happy, but maybe you should loosen your hold on me… maybe a little bit?”
Mina noticed and pulled back. “Oh, sorry,” she said. “We’re not exactly in the right place to celebrate, are we?”
“It’s fine,” Rain said, placing her hand on Mina’s chin. “We ought to be able to celebrate even the smallest of victories, shouldn’t we?”
“You’re right,” Mina said. “It only inspires us as heroes to celebrate our victories over the villains and stuff…”
Rain closed in on Mina and the two shared a brief moment together. After their kiss, Mina was about to return the favor but noticed Sorin looking back off towards the mansion.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Mina asked.
“I was just wondering about what Johan said,” Sorin replied. “Sorry about earlier, by the way.”
“Oh, no problem,” Mina said.
Sorin thought about the small conversation he and Johan had earlier. After chasing him down with Mina, Sorin was able to corner Johan in a closed off room and asked him what his plan was now. Johan explained to him and said to Sorin that in order to stop Queen Isla and have Rain succeed her as queen, there would have to be a lot of effort. Curious, Sorin asked Johan what he meant, but instead of answering his question, Johan brought up something else relevant to Sorin’s interests.
“I saw him,” Johan said. “Your brother, I mean. He’s not too far off from where we are right now.”
“Really?” Sorin asked. “Around here?”
“Not exactly,” Johan replied. “I mean that he’s headed towards the kingdom right now.”
Sorin could only look at Johan in disbelief. “Why are you telling me this? More importantly, why are you telling me about this?”
“Consider it a helpful clue towards stopping Isla,” Johan replied. “After all, he’s one of the most important players in this game.”
“You’ll see,” Johan said. “In chess, you need to stay at least two steps ahead of your opponent. You just need to know who your opponent is, Sorin.”
After that, Johan escaped through the back window. Sorin wanted to pursue him but there was no use doing that, especially after Mina had broken down the door. He explained to her in minor detail about what Johan told him, to which she deduced that he must be talking about the queen.
“Why do you think he’s helping us now?” Mina asked. “Isn’t he working with Rain’s mother?”
“I wonder about that as well,” Rain said. “Perhaps he’s changed his mind about supporting the Neu Thekohnian Order?”
“That seems too convenient,” Pekka replied.
“Who knows,” Sorin said, “But we’ve got to keep moving. Our goal isn’t Johan, it’s the Queen of Thekohn.”
“And what about Mr. Ahga?” Mina asked. “Have you already… taken care of him, Rain?”
“He’s inside the mansion right now,” Rain said. “Fortunately, he’s not able to run away, but it is taking him quite a bit of time to come back…”
“Do you think we should head in?” Luna asked.
But before anyone could respond, Sorin and the others heard a rumble from inside the mansion. Right after that, an explosion echoed from the inside, followed by several more. The blasts broke the windows and severed several structures of the mansion as there seemed to be no end to the explosions. Rain could only look onward, shocked at what was happening before her.
“What are you guys doing?” Pekka asked. “Get down now!”
Sorin and the others agreed and dropped the ground for cover. They were far enough from the location of the blasts, but Sorin knew that they wanted to make sure nothing else happened. Sorin kept his eyes closed until he heard no more explosions. Just to make sure that his ears were not playing tricks on him, Sorin stood up and indeed, that was the last of the explosions. It was also the last of Ahga Manor, as the once vintage mansion was now dilapidated due to the destruction delivered onto it.
Rain looked at the ruins. “Sir Lauren!”
“I doubt he would have made it out in time,” Pekka said. “There’s only a couple of people who could have done this… Johan…”
“There’s no way it was him,” Sorin replied. “Korbin must have done this with some help. That has to be it.”
“Him and that repugnant soldier, then,” Pekka said. “Seems like evil loves to keep good company.”
“Well, we know that they were trying to target you,” Luna said to Rain. “I guess they thought you were still inside.”
“Is that so?” Rain asked. “I wonder if they’ll come after us once they find out they killed the wrong person.”
“This must be so conflicting for you,” Luna said. “I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re thinking right now. It’s so horrible.”
Rain exhaled. “I don’t know,” she said. “But what I do know is that we’ve only one thing we should do now. Come on, we must not keep everyone waiting in Oelaans!”
“There’s no other choice,” Pekka said. “We can’t just wait here any longer, now can we?”
“Nope,” Luna said. “We just need to move on already and put an end to the afwul Neu Thekohnian Order!”
“Alright! We’re going to Oelaans now,” Mina said. “I can’t wait to finally see the others again!”
“Me neither,” Sorin replied.
However, Sorin wondered if everyone was trying to keep it together after what they witnessed. The fight was far from over and Sorin knew that Rysol was going to be there as well. It had been a while since he had seen his brother, but now Sorin was trying to figure out how his brother played into the matter of the Neu Thekohnian Order. Whatever it was, Sorin knew that he could not afford to hesitate now. Not when the future was at stake.
[22nd of September, 2740 AD; High Restaurant, Oelaans, Thekohn – Felis District]
With the nightfall approaching with each passing hour, Gavin began to wonder if Sorin’s group would arrive before the darkness. He had already went through question the three members of the Neu Thekohnian Order, to which little was actually learned. After questioning, two of the Maeitakohnian soldiers called the local officers and had the three men taken away.
Once that was done, Gavin went with Eva, Law, and Noa to a restaurant that Law had picked out. He soon learned why exactly his brother chose the place and it was due to the fact that the entire staff was made up of attractive women. Gavin sighed as he looked over the railing of the patio.
“So we didn’t learn anything new, did we?” Eva asked.
“Well, nothing we didn’t already know,” Law said, “But I did see that you enjoyed my impression of Kirk, did you not?”
“That… I was only thinking of something else,” she replied, “Though I can acknowledge that your impression of him was very close.”
Law laughed. “Thank you! At least someone understood what I was going for,” he said. “Bro, are you even listening?”
“What are you trying to do?” Gavin asked.
“I want to know if you’ve been paying attention,” Law said. “It’s been a bit of a slog trying to wait for them, hasn’t it?”
“They’ll be here soon enough,” Gavin said.
“So nothing about this place interests you?” Law asked. “You don’t even want to try the local dish?”
“I don’t even know what you’re trying to accomplish here,” Gavin replied. “You must be up to no good, given the fact that you chose this place.”
“Nothing wrong with hitting up the top spot in town,” Law said. “Wouldn’t you agree with me, Noa?”
“Why are you bringing me into this?” Noa asked.
“If I had to guess, it’s because of those girls over there,” Eva said as she looked at Law. “Sometimes he can think rather clearly, but other times, he just ends up thinking with what’s in his pants instead.”
“Whoa, hold up, that’s not at all what I’m trying to do,” Law replied. “I’m a man who’s in a happy relationship. I just want us to enjoy our time together before we have to head off to the kingdom.”
“Sure, say that,” Eva said. “I’ve heard it all, by the way.”
“So this is where the party’s happening, huh?”
Gavin directed his attention to the outside. On the other side of the railing was Kirk Wilk, as well as Lowell Page and Tre Hendricks. The three waved at the group and hurried over to meet them on the other side of the railing.
“Not who I expected,” Gavin said, “But it’s good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you guys, too,” Kirk replied. “Especially you, Eva.”
“So you really are going to fight,” Eva said. “I knew it.”
“Well, we’re not leading the front lines,” Lowell said. “My fighting spirit is no match for old age.”
“But we are ready to help in whatever way we can,” Tre said. “Even if that means we’re the ones who have to clean up all of the mess!”
“Just be careful,” Eva replied. “At least tell me you can do that,.”
“You know that I would never try to make you worry,” Kirk said. “Didn’t I tell you that?”
“No matter how many times you keep saying it, I know how stubborn you can be,” she said. “All I want is for you not to act recklessly.”
“Hey, I got my eye on him,” Tre said. “If there’s anyone you can count on to make sure Kirk doesn’t go all out on his own, it’s me.”
“So what are we doing?” Law asked. “Our lovely princess has yet to arrive and, to be honest, it is a little boring doing nothing around here.”
“Yet you use this time to look at women,” Gavin said. “Give me a break, Lawrence.”
“Then maybe you should suggest something, bro,” Law said. “I don’t see you seeking out something for us to do in the meantime.”
Gavin sighed. “It’s not important.”
“Well, if you come up with something, I’d love to hear it,” Law replied as he sat back in his chair. “Now should be the time for us to get the check, don’t you guys think?”
“So this is where you guys have been!” Mina exclaimed.
With no time to waste, Mina dashed over to where the group sat while Sorin and the others joined her side. Everyone was now together as Gavin stood up and greeted the group.
“It’s about time you made it here,” Gavin said, shaking Sorin’s hand.
“We were held up for a bit,” Sorin replied. “It’s a complicated, but I guess we can explain what happened.”
They took their time to explain what had happened in Ahga Manor as well as what Sorin had learned. Everyone listened with intent as Rain spoke about Ahga and his motivation in addition to his demise.
“So the right hand of the queen is dead,” Law said. “I wish I could say that that was a good thing, but if what you said is true, then the Ameci military is not too far off from where we are.”
“Sounds to me like we have to keep our eyes open,” Kirk said. “I think that something is in the air and it’s not good at all.”
“What do you mean?” Mina asked.
“I think we need to be aware of what forces are driving behind the scenes,” Kirk replied. “If the queen falls, that’s the end of the Neu Thekohnian Order, but if the Ameci military is working with them? It only spells trouble.”
“Seems like it,” Lowell said. “We can’t just turn a blind eye to the evil that’s happening in our own land.”
“That is something we have to pay attention to,” Kirk replied. “Anyway, Sorin, was there anything else you found out while at Ahga Manor?”
Sorin did not mention anything about Rysol, but he felt like there was a need to do so. But what could he say? They would end up running into him if what Johan had said to him was true. He did not want his father to worry about Rysol, not at a time like this, but there seemed to be no other choice. At least, Sorin would have to talk to his brother again.
“No, that was all we learned,” Sorin said.
“Is that so?” Kirk asked. “Well, at least we know what to watch out for moving forward.”
“That is true,” Law said, “But we’re not going to be able to do much while the sun is going down. Why don’t we just take the night to have some fun and live a little before the morning?”
There was some agreement amongst the crew, but all Sorin could not stop thinking about what might happen tomorrow. There was much he was uncertain of, but there was little he could really do before the morning came.
To be continued…