[3rd of December, 2740 AD; North Gate Hotel, Mikahana, Kikuisha]
Eva sat up in her bed and sighed. “Oh, I’m awake… again,” she said. “Damn it all…”
After what felt like hours upon hours, Eva Bellamy woke up to be greeted by the morning sunlight coming in through the window of the hotel room. It had been an uneventful past few days for Eva, yet all the same, she felt like it had been a burden on her. She was on her own, so it would not have been that bad, but Eva missed Kirk. It was something that she hated to admit, but Eva missed him and his positive demeanor.
“I wonder if he feels the same way,” she said. “It really isn’t the same without you…”
Eva spent the past few days traveling the Thekohnian Region, all the while juggling so many thoughts in her mind. She had left Thedam Castle abruptly as both Rain and Mina watched, which only served to make Eva feel worse. Truly, Eva really did not want to leave the way that she did, but she did not want to be a burden to the new Queen of Thekohn.
“Someday, I’ll go back there,” Eva said. “I’ll go and see for myself exactly the woman you’ll become, Rain.”
She laid back down on the bed and looked to the lamp near her bed. It was on despite the fact that it was morning. Eva remembered why it was on: she had fallen asleep while thinking about Kirk. It had to be around then that Eva lost consciousness while seeking relief. Remembering that only served to make Eva wish that she was better and back in Ameci with Kirk, but for now, she could only make use with her fingers. She sighed again as she reached for her eyepatch and put it on over her right eye.
“Guess I shouldn’t sit in bed all day,” Eva said. “I’ll just get some clothes on and take a stroll for a bit, I guess.”
She got dressed and hurried out of her hotel room. There was not that much for Eva to do in the hotel, so she decided to head to the market and walk around. At least she might have been able to clear her mind, Eva thought. If there was something that she could do, Eva was sure to take that option. Perhaps she could go see the garden everyone spoke about.
After a small breakfast, Eva went to the nearby garden and took in the sight of all the flowers and plants around her. The garden had a welcoming feel to it, which put Eva at some ease as she took a few steps forward. There did not seem to be that many people inside, either, which comforted Eva as she took a stroll through the garden. As she tried to get closer to a bunch of growing daisies, however, Eva ended up bumping into another person. She looked immediately and found a recognizable face belonging to a towering man.
“Sorry! I’m so sorry,” Noa said. “Wait, I know you! Oh no, please don’t hurt me, Eva!”
Noa cowered while Eva shook her head. At least she knew that Noa posed no threat to her, though she did wonder what he was doing here.
“Are you waiting for someone?” Eva asked.
“I’m… I’m not,” Noa said. “Actually, this is part of my job. I work with the city’s recreational offices now.”
“I had no idea you moved here,” Eva said. “Though I suppose in your case, I can’t exactly blame you.”
“Well, it took me everything to make this move,” Noa replied. “If it wasn’t for her, then I might still be in the military…”
Eva smiled. “So you’ve really fallen for her, haven’t you?”
“What makes you say that?” Noa asked. “I mean, why do you say that, Eva? I never said anything about my relationship with Kiku at all!”
“You just did,” she replied. “Trust me, I know.”
Noa laughed as he shifted his eyes from side to side. “I wonder where my boss is right now,” he said. “Maybe he’s on his break or something?”
“I suppose it was too much to ask,” Eva said. “How long have you been living here, anyway?”
“Since the end of that battle in Thekohn,” Noa said.
He explained what had happened between him and General Khadir, and the ensuing trip that he made down to Kikuisha. It had taken him a few days to find the port in Kun, but after that, Noa was able to make it to the main city proper and found Kiku waiting for him near the docks.
“So you told her ahead of time, then,” Eva said.
“Well, no, actually,” Noa said. “I guess she went to the docks every day and waited for about thirty minutes; guess I got lucky and ran into her.”
Eva watched as Noa was then greeted from a pair of hands covering his eyes. Noa froze as he heard a familiar giggle.
“I guess that makes me a good luck charm, doesn’t it, Nona?”
“I can’t see,” Noa replied. “I can’t see!”
Kiku gasped and removed her hands from Noa. “Oh, then maybe I should give you back your sight,” she said. “It would be such a tragedy if I was the one who ended up depriving you of your sight!”
“I would never suggest such a thing,” Noa said. “I’m just happy to see you here, Kiku.”
“I should be the one saying that, you know,” Kiku replied. “What do you think, Evie?”
“You want my opinion?” Eva asked.
“I want a lot from you, actually,” Kiku said. “Hehe, I wonder… Well, maybe it would be a bit too forward if I asked you to do that with me and Nona…”
“W-What? No, I couldn’t!” Noa exclaimed. “No… No offense to you, Eva, but I wouldn’t do anything that would make Kiku upset.”
Kiku shoved Noa in the arm. “You’re no fun,” she said. “You never once thought about that?”
“Well, nothing like what you’re implying,” Noa replied, “And I know how active your imagination gets!”
“Whatever it is, I’m flattered,” Eva said, “But that’s not why I’m here.”
“I know, you’re in love with Quirky, after all,” Kiku said. “Where is he, if I may ask?”
“Oh, he’s back home,” Eva replied.
“Home? As in Ameci?” Kiku asked. “Oh no, you two aren’t fighting with each other, are you?”
“It’s… nothing like that,” Eva said.
“Something tells me that there’s something on your mind, Evie,” Kiku said. “Pardon me if this sounds rude, but you seem a little stressed.”
Eva brushed back her hair with her hand. “What makes you say that?”
“I can tell,” Kiku replied. “Are you sleeping well?”
“I’ve been sleeping well enough,” Eva said. “It’s not sleep that’s bothering me, it’s… it’s nothing. Please don’t worry about me.”
Kiku reached out and grabbed Eva’s hand. “You’re my friend,” she said. “How can I not worry about you? If there is something wrong, then I want to do what I can to help.”
“I appreciate your concern, but please, I can’t,” Eva said.
“Well, if you say so,” Kiku said. “You know, I wonder about where you’re staying… Why not spend some time over at the castle; that is, if you feel like it, of course!”
“That could be okay,” Eva replied. “I suppose it gets a little lonely just going through the city by myself.”
“Then Nona and I could be your tour guides,” Kiku said. “There’s even a place we could go where you could relieve some of that stress!”
“Wait, really?” Noa asked. “What kind of place?”
“Hehe, it’s not a place around here, that’s for sure,” Kiku replied. “It’s a couple of hours away from here, but we can definitely go if you’re willing to do so, Evie!”
“I’ll be sure to consider it,” Eva said, “Though I wouldn’t mind you two accompanying me around Mikahana.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” Kiku asked. “Let’s go already!”
Inside the residential district, there was a place that Kiku wanted to show off to Eva. The open area had an inviting feel to it as Eva soon discovered the place to be a casino of sorts. Set up all through the area were various games and card tables, all for people to play. However, judging from the look on Kiku’s face, Eva knew that they were not here to gamble.
“Do you come here often?” Eva asked.
“Oh, whenever I can,” Kiku answered. “This is usually a good place to speak to women, just so you know.”
“Good to know,” Eva said as she turned to Noa. “Do you come here often as well?”
“Oh no, no, no,” Noa replied. “I’m still too nervous to do any of that… Not that I would do it, of course!”
“I meant as in gambling,” Eva said. “Never mind, I can tell that you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to gamble.”
The three walked further into the open casino as the wind began to pick up. There was some commotion at one of the tables, but nothing that would have proven to be a distraction for everybody else inside.
“Sometimes the place closes due to the weather,” Kiku said. “Other times, they just pull out the covers and go on as usual.”
“I see,” Eva replied.
“You don’t really play games, do you?” Kiku asked. “That’s okay, you know; I’ve already told you that I don’t come here for this place’s intended purpose.”
“I knew that we would find you here, madame!” Ayame said.
Eva looked to the left and discovered both of Kiku’s bodyguards standing by one of the roulette tables. Ayame and Igor had been waiting for Kiku to arrive, as the two approached Kiku.
“Well, I’ve been asking you to come with me, but you never do,” Kiku said. “You two are just jealous that I’m spending this time here with Nona and Evie, aren’t you?”
“That’s not why we’re here, madame,” Igor replied. “It’s not about wanting to press the luck with you, but because you’re choosing to shirk your duty as the future leader of this land.”
“Oh, I can do that anytime, Iggy,” Kiku replied. “Mother’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m just trying to have some fun while I still can!”
Ayame sighed. “I know you think that, but do consider how we feel,” she said. “There is always time for leisure, but right now is the time to learn and take charge. After all, your friend in Thekohn has just become the queen rather recently, did she not?”
“I know,” Kiku said. “I really can’t wait to visit her again!”
“When the time comes, we will see her,” Ayame said. “In fact, there’s supposed to be a summit soon, from what I’ve been hearing.”
“Oh, really?” Kiku asked. “Well, perhaps training wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.”
“I’m glad you understand, Madame Izumi,” Ayame replied.
“And maybe tomorrow, we can go to the recreational center outside of the city,” Kiku said. “I’m sure you’d like to go and work off some of that stress for a bit, wouldn’t you, Aya?”
“It’s tempting, I must admit,” Ayame said.
“But what about the training?” Igor asked.
“She’s already agreed to today’s training,” Ayame responded. “What is the harm in taking a day off? Especially since I do need to relieve the tension in my shoulders and back…”
“Then it’s a deal,” Kiku said. “And Evie said she’d come, too!”
“Oh, she did?” Ayame asked. “Well, I’d be interested in getting to know you better, Miss Bellamy.”
“I see what’s going on,” Eva said. “I can’t refuse at this point, can I? Very well, I suppose I’ll go with you.”
“What does that leave us?” Noa wondered.
“You have your job, Nona,” Kiku said. “I don’t want to make your boss upset, now do I?”
“Oh, I guess so,” Noa said.
Eva watched as Kiku covered her mouth and tried to suppress a laugh. It seemed that Eva was able to connect with some acquaintances once more, even if she still missed those that were close to her. She mustered a sigh of relief as the group decided to head over to Kiku Castle and prepare for the afternoon and night time activities.
To be continued…