[8th of October, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Platinum Plaza]
The street lights lit up as people began to shuffle into the plaza. Meanwhile, Rain looked from above as she and Storm met everyone. Sorin and Gale were the first to greet her, followed by Gavin, Law, and Ayanna. Luna was there as well as Pekka. Finally, Mina was there as well. Everyone was dressed in formal clothing, even Mina herself.
“You all finally came,” Rain said.
“Of course we did,” Law replied. “I can’t miss this sort of thing, now can I? Seeing you and Mina together like this just brings a tear to my eye; it’s as if I’m watching my younger sister grow up right before my eyes…”
“That’s because Mina is grown up, you dumbass,” Gavin said.
“Law, I think I understand what you’re trying to say,” Ayanna said, “But perhaps it would be best if you showed your appreciation without being so overly dramatic.”
“Sorry about that,” Law said. “Guess the romantic in me just can’t help but say something, you know?”
“But Law, you like to talk a lot,” Mina said. “You talk a lot, even when it’s not romantic!”
Law dug his hands into his pockets. “Mina, please, I’m just trying to be a gentleman here,” he said. “Besides, don’t you have someone you should say hello to? You know, the beautiful young queen who’s standing right there with stars in her eyes?”
“Am I to take that things are going well for you, Law?” Rain asked.
“Well, the bounty hunting business has been booming recently,” Law said, “But to be honest with you, it’s not what I really want to do. No, there’s something else that’s been calling out to me… The stage, it seems, has revealed itself as an unseen destiny to me. You would certainly come and see me if I became an actor, wouldn’t you, Rain?”
“I would love to see it,” Rain said. “Surely you would be one of the best if you put your mind to it.”
Mina patted Law on the back. “You see, Law? Even Rain thinks that you’re kind of lazy!”
“How is that the takeaway from what she said?” Law asked. “Nobody else here thinks that about me, do you?”
“Well, you do work hard when you care about it,” Ayanna replied. “Though I can’t say for sure that your effort is completely consistent.”
“You kind of seem like the guy who likes to sit back and wait for things to come to him,” Luna said.
“That’s because Lawrence is,” Gavin said. “But there’s no doubt about his genius, that much is certain.”
“So, acting, then?” Pekka asked Law. “You are sure that you have what it takes to do it?”
“Of course I do,” Law said as he pointed a finger to his temple. “By the way, it looks as if you didn’t get enough sleep last night, or is that how you look all of the time?”
Pekka crossed his arms. “What do you think?”
Law chuckled and turned to Rain. “What I think is that I’m just going to keep speaking with our queen-to-be over here,” he replied. “So, what’s it like to be in command of so much power? Surely it makes you feel a little giddy to sit in that throne.”
“I don’t feel that different,” Rain answered. “At least, not physically…”
“We’ve only just gotten our feet back on the ground,” Storm said. “Brook’s funeral was only a week ago and I’m still a little melancholy about it.”
“Yeah, I can understand,” Law said. “You know, an old woman once told me after she lost someone important to her that it was important to keep living for that person. Do it for Brook, just like that old woman.”
“I don’t think Eva would like it too much if she heard you calling her old,” Sorin said.
“Hey man, I didn’t mention Eva at all, did I?” Law asked. “It seems to me like you’re the one who’s trying to call her an old woman.”
Sorin sighed. “You know what I meant, Law.”
“Are you okay?” Gale asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Sorin replied.
“It seems like I haven’t heard from you since two weeks ago,” Rain said. “Is it because of Johan?”
“It’s… well, I guess you could say that it’s because of him,” Sorin said.
“He’s been like this since he got back to Rezar,” Gale said. “If Johan’s death is still bothering you, we can head back to the castle.”
“No, I think I’ll manage,” Sorin said. “This kind of peace is what Johan was working towards. I know that he would want me enjoy this.”
“It’s just like what that old woman said,” Law said. “You know, come to think of it, I haven’t seen Eva at all since we got here. Is she still helping you out with the whole restoration?”
“We’re almost done,” Rain said. “Almost every position has been filled, though we’re still going to need a general down the road.”
“All the positions?” Law asked. “I would think that you’d at least find a position for Mina, or at least make up something.”
“Yeah, I’d love to help you out,” Mina said, “I can train recruits or even be that general you need!”
Rain smiled and placed her hand on the side of Mina’s face. “No, I don’t want you as a general, a trainer, or anything like that,” she said. “I just want you by my side, Mina.”
“I do like that,” Mina replied. “I… I don’t know if I say this enough, but I do love you a lot, Rain!”
“And I love you, too,” Rain said. “I wonder… well, maybe this isn’t the right place…”
“What are you talking about?” Mina asked.
Rain grabbed Mina’s hand. “Come with me,” she said. “Storm, you’d be comfortable keeping our friends company by yourself, wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah, I think she can handle it,” Law said.
“Of course I can,” Storm said. “I’ll be sure to keep them all entertained as the royal parade goes on.”
“Besides, I’m sure you want Mina to do something else,” Law continued. “You know what I mean?”
Rain looked to Storm. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome, sister,” Storm replied. “I won’t let you down!”
With that, Rain hurried off with Mina, holding her hand all the way. As she led Mina downstairs, Rain could hear Law’s distant lament but thought little of it. All that Rain cared about at this point was Mina. However, as she searched for a place for her and Mina to spend some time by themselves, the two ended up bumping into Kiku, Noa, Ayame, and Igor by the shop.
“Oh, so I finally get to see you in all of your gorgeous glory, Ray!” Kiku exclaimed, clapping her hands together. “And Minnie, too! I just knew that two of you would look perfect together!”
“Thank… Thank you, Kiku,” Rain said. “I’m surprised you managed to come here. I thought that you were going back to Kikuisha?”
“Well, I wasn’t about to turn down your offer, now was I?” Kiku asked. “Aya and Iggy had to do a heck of a job to bring me here!”
“Believe us, Your Majesty, it was actually rather easy to convince Madame Yamazaki to have us bring her daughter here,” Ayame said. “I would’ve thought that she would raise an objection, honestly.”
“I was absolutely ready to bump over backwards for her,” Igor said. “That’s how surprising it was when Madame Yamazaki said yes.”
Kiku giggled as she wrapped her arm around Noa’s. “But she doesn’t know about Nona! It isn’t fun without a little mystery, now is it?”
“It’s… well, I think that I should’ve went with you,” Noa replied. “Oh, and Igor, I think ‘bend over backwards’ is what you wanted to say. Not that it means much or anything like that…”
“Whatever it is, I’m just glad you decided to visit,” Rain said.
“It’s nice seeing you again, Noa!” Mina said. “I can’t believe you were able to get with Kiku, though!”
“It’s not like that at all!” Noa replied. “Kiku and I are just… she and I are just trying each other out… No, what I mean is that it’s a courtship! Er, I mean… I don’t know!”
“You can say whatever you want, Nona, but I can tell in your heart that you have deep, dark desires for me,” Kiku replied. “I could say what they are, but I’m sure that you wouldn’t want a cute girl like me to say such provocative things, now would you?”
“I’m not sure what to think,” Noa said.
“So what are you going to do now?” Rain asked. “Is there anywhere you’re planning on going to soon?”
“That I’m not sure of,” Noa replied. “I guess… I guess that maybe I could spend some time down south and see the flowers in Kikuisha… I suppose I can thank god that I’m not allergic…”
“Hm, what was that, Nona?” Kiku asked. “You said something there but I don’t know if anyone heard you.”
“It’s nothing,” Noa said.
“Really? I was certain you mentioned something about going to Kikuisha,” Kiku said. “Hehehe, you really do want to see me, don’t you?”
Noa did not answer.
“It’s okay,” Kiku said. “Sometimes silence is a stronger response than words themselves. I bet that your heart is beating pretty fast, isn’t it?”
“Mr. Mzade, would you like to sit down?” Igor asked. “Perhaps it’s best you do so, because Madame Izumi can be quite hands up with people she likes.”
“It’s fine,” Noa replied.
“Anyway, it’s nice to see you all again,” Rain said. “If you have the time, maybe you can drop by next month for my birthday.”
Kiku’s eyes lit up. “Ooh, I could do that,” she said. “I can even bring some presents for you!”
“You don’t really have to, but the gesture would be appreciated,” Rain said. “It’s the seventeenth.”
“And I’ll be sure to make a note of it,” Kiku replied. “After all, I wouldn’t forget the birthdays of my friends and family!”
“Yes, I remember the grand gesture you did for me back when we were in Iiayikohn,” Ayame said. “I did enjoy the gift you gave me, even if it did leave little to the imagination…”
Kiku covered her mouth, trying not to laugh. “Oh Aya, it’s just one of those little gifts between us, you know?”
“I don’t know what that means,” Noa said.
“And you shouldn’t,” Ayame said. “It’s not for your ears, Mr. Mzade.”
“Nona doesn’t need to know,” Kiku said. “Besides, he might get to see for himself one day when he’s with me…”
“Oh dear,” Rain said.
“Is that all?” Mina asked. “Me and Rain were going to go and head off somewhere. She had something she wanted to tell me!”
“I know what that means, Minnie,” Kiku said. “Very well, I won’t hold you two up any further from your moment.”
“Thank you, Kiku,” Rain replied. “And you too, Noa. Your help was much appreciated.”
“You’re… You’re welcome, Rain,” Noa said.
“Yes, we want to say the same, too,” Igor said. “Your Majesty, it’s been an honor to be in your presence.”
“Iggy, you don’t need to act so uptight!” Kiku said. “Now let’s let them go; I’m sure that Ray and Minnie want to spend some time alone without us watching over them. Or is that something that you and Nona would be into?”
“N-No, madame, that’s not what I was thinking!” Igor exclaimed.
“Oh well,” Kiku said. “Anyway, I hope that we can see you later, Ray and Minnie.”
“Oh yeah, I’d like to do that, too,” Mina said.
“Definitely,” Rain said. “I hope to see you soon!”
Rain and Mina then said their goodbyes to Kiku and her group. There did not seem to be anybody else that either woman knew on their way back to the castle. With the night coming in fast, Rain led Mina to the Rio Grove to a bench that was right by the fence. The bench overlooked the city as Rain sat with Mina and watched the festival.
“I know it happens every year, but this time I really don’t want this night to end,” Rain said. “Even now, I’m happy to be here with you.”
“I’m happy, too,” Mina replied as she held Rain’s hand tight. “This kind of moment… I just want to share it with you as long as I can!”
Mina rested her head against Rain’s as the two women continued to enjoy the festival. Rain and Mina kept watching until the first night of the festivities began to wind down. With everyone heading back, Rain decided to go with Mina back to Thedam Castle and spend more time with her there. At least, Rain knew that she would be able to spend a few more days with Mina by her side while the Thekohnian Festival went on.
[9th of October, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Rio Grove]
Sorin found himself awake in the early morning, way before the dawn. He was unable to sleep all night, not because he had stayed up late, but because of what had been on his mind. He felt a burden that he had to carry for the sake of his friend, all because of what had happened that fateful day. Words escaped Sorin as he strolled through the Rio Grove in search of the right course of action to take. Rysol and Jelka were still out there in the Thekohnian Region, somewhere in pursuit to help make Johan’s dream come true.
But Sorin could not tell the others, not even Gale, about what he wanted to do next. No, it was about what he had to do next. If he had a way to make it up to his friend, Sorin had to keep fighting for the world that Johan envisioned. Sorin had made his decision that day after Korbin’s assault, because Sorin did not want anyone to end up the same way that Johan did. He did not want anyone to end up the same way that Brook, Silvia, Belkley, or Alan did. Sorin was just tired of all of the tragedy and wanted to stop it. That way, Sorin live his life well knowing that he had helped his friend one last time.
“I’ll make it happen, my friend,” Sorin said. “That way, you and I can finally see the sun rise again.”
To be continued…