[4th of December, 2740 AD; Market of the Flowers, Mikahana, Kikuisha]
Later in the evening, Eva returned to the city with Ayame and Kiku. At the market square were Noa and Igor, both of whom awaited their return. To Eva, she felt that today was both a long and short day at the same time. Still, she was glad to be back and meet with the two men that had been busy during the day. Everyone decided to go to the hotel where Eva was staying and sat at the restaurant where Noa began to talk. Igor had his hands clasped together and leaned forward while Ayame took a seat next to him.
“He was surprisingly quiet,” Noa said. “Does he usually get like that when you’re not around?”
“Iggy’s just shy,” Kiku replied.
“N-No, that’s not it,” Igor said. “I just had nothing else to do… You know, there is your training we have to attend to tomorrow.”
“I know that,” Kiku said. “You just don’t want to talk about how much Nona intimidates you, do you?”
“I intimidate him?” Noa asked. “I’m not intimidating at all! If anything… If anything, he intimidates me!”
“Oh my, you seem to be in denial,” Kiku replied. “You don’t have to sell yourself short to me. In fact, I quite like it when you’re intimidating…”
Noa shifted in his seat. “What… What are you talking about?”
“She says a lot of things,” Ayame said. “It seems that she’s just trying to rib you, that is all.”
Kiku placed her hand on top of Noa’s. “I’m not, Aya,” she said. “Nona’s got a look of determination in his eyes, almost as if he’s a tiger ready to pounce on his prey.”
“If he’s a tiger, then what does that make me?” Igor asked. “I’m scared to hear what you’ve got to say…”
“If that’s the case, why did you ask?” Eva said.
“Tell me,” Kiku said to Noa, “If you do anything in the world right now, what would it be?”
“Anything at all?” Noa asked.
“Surely there’s some deep desire in your heart,” Kiku replied. “Something you wish to do, but haven’t yet.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Noa said. “I’ve never thought about something like that… I mean, I have you, so there’s not much else I could ask for…”
“You really are sweet,” Kiku said, “But that’s not what I’m asking you.”
Eva sighed and stood up. She went around the table and walked up to Noa, who turned and realized what had just happened.
“Eva! What’s going on?” Noa asked.
Eva leaned in. “She’s asking what you want to do to her,” she whispered. “I won’t offer any more hints.”
Noa’s eyes widened. “I… Oh god,” he said. “Does that mean what I think it means, Eva?”
With nothing more to say, Eva turned to the rest of the group. “I’m getting tired,” she said. “I’m going to go to sleep.”
“You are?” Kiku asked. “Oh, but we were just about to hear what Nona had to say!”
“It sounds fun, but I’m leaving in the morning,” Eva replied. “There’s something that I need to do.”
Not another word was said by Eva as she left the restaurant and headed back towards her hotel room. Before she could enter, however, Ayame followed after her and stopped her before she could open the door.
“Please wait, Eva,” Ayame said.
“What is it?” Eva asked.
“I know that you don’t wish to stay for much longer,” Ayame said. “I get that. Saying goodbye is difficult, especially for Madame Izumi, but are you certain that you’re going to leave in the morning?”
“I am,” Eva said.
“Then at least let us see you off,” Ayame replied. “That’s the least we can do for you.”
Eva sighed. “Go ahead.”
“Thank you,” Ayame said. “I’ll let you go on your way, then.”
She said her goodbye to Eva, who returned the farewell as she headed inside her room. The only thing that Eva wanted to do was lay on her bed as she tried to push away the memories of her past. Eva let herself fall face first onto the bed as she attempted to forget about what she had said to Ayame earlier in the day.
Dying was something that Eva feared, with only the fear of losing those closest to her being stronger. These fears were realized almost twenty years ago, when Eva was a nurse for one of the top hospitals in Admorse. She was engaged to a fellow doctor and was set to marry him, but during one unfortunate night, she lost him to a rampaging killer. A killer that had eventually cornered Eva, forcing her to defend herself. That night was the first time she had ever taken another person’s life. She could still remember how horrified she was when she saw her fiance lying lifeless on the ground and the blood that had splattered all over her uniform once she had done the deed.
She thought that she would not have to remember that night again, but it was inevitable. It always was, Eva thought. Despite her attempts to avoid tragedy, she felt that tragedy hover over her like a dark cloud. Such was the same only five years after when she lost her second lover during the War of the Lands. At least during that time, however, she had Belkley Ghillard to care for, even if the pain of loss once again affected her. Eva, if anything, at least had someone she could be a guardian for, though that would prove not to last. It all happened not too long ago when she had lost the young man she treated like a son and to this day, Eva felt powerless. Despite her skill, despite her experience, she felt incapable of ever protecting people she cared about.
“That’s why I have to do it,” Eva said. “I have to leave soon.”
Sleep soon came as Eva drifted off, still lying flat on top of the bed as the sun started to set. Where she would go, however, was still unknown to her. She knew, however, that she had to leave her friends behind once again, even if it did hurt for her.
[4th of December, 2740 AD; Copper Hotel, Oelaans, Thekohn – Felis District]
It was a calm night in Oelaans as Johan and Jelka made it to the land of Thekohn. As far as Johan knew, the Ameci military was not stationed here, so it was easier for the two to plan their next move. The summit was still far off, so in the meantime, other measures had to be taken. Johan entered the large hotel room with Jelka, who was surprised by the size of the room in comparison to the one they had in Hurst.
“Well, your parents used to be politicians, right?” Johan asked. “I would think you’d be used to large rooms.”
“Yes, but it’s been years since I was in such a nice place,” Jelka replied. “Even more so seeing that large bed.”
She pointed over to the bed at the end of the room. The royal blue blanket covered the bed with several large pillows lined up against the headboard. Johan took a step further and ran his hand across the fabric while Jelka watched.
“It appears that we have been blessed by a bountiful bed,” Johan said. “You’re free to feel for yourself if you want.”
“Oh, no… No, I mustn’t,” Jelka replied.
“Guess you’re just about the business, then,” he said. “Of course, that’s why we’re here. I’ll start… that is, if you don’t have anything to say first.”
Jelka chose not to respond.
“I’ll take that as a no, then,” Johan said. “So if we want to find a way into defeating Foundation, we have to start somewhere. It would be easy and logical to take down Isaac Kunigunde, but he’s back in Ameci for now.”
“You’re not suggesting we make way to Ameci, are you?” Jelka asked. “If they find out that you’re still alive…”
“I’m not saying that we go after Mr. Kunigunde,” Johan replied. “What I am suggesting is that we remove a loyal supporter to the group. A man who, until somewhat recently, was underneath everyone’s radar. The True Thekohnians and the Neu Thekohnian Order paid Rodik Mahrk no attention, but that was only because he’s just a figurehead who was placed only to divert from Foundation’s fuck-up.”
“Then you’re saying our mission is in Bel,” Jelka said. “The past few days, we’ve been running around, but it looks like we’re finally set on a destination. How are we going to deal with President Mahrk?”
Johan chuckled. “That’s for me to figure out.”
“Jelka, as much as I appreciate your devotion, I’m afraid that I’ll have to go this one alone,” Johan said. “There’s a certain risk that this task entails and having more than one person on the job would jeopardize the mission.”
“But if that’s the case, then it would be better to go together,” Jelka replied. “There’s no telling what could be in store for you if someone were to spot you, especially if they’re an Ameci!”
Johan turned to Jelka, placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. “There’s a more important job for you,” he said. “We still have to worry about Rysol, do we not?”
“He still needs to be rescued,” she said. “We still have no clue as to where he’s being held captive and following after Korbin would be unwise.”
“Yet I think that that may be a clue itself,” Johan replied. “The Ameci Embassy is in Rezar, not Hurst, so it seems strange for a soldier like Korbin to stay in that town. Jelka, I know you and I believe that you might have an idea as to how you can get closer without Korbin spotting you.”
“You do?” Jelka asked.
“Of course I do,” Johan said. “There’s no one I know that’s like you, and I mean that as a compliment. You won’t give up, which is a truly admirable trait and one of the reasons why I came to you.”
He then removed his hands from her shoulders and sat upon the bed. As he did, Jelka looked away.
“So am I to assume that that’s all you wish to tell me?” Jelka asked.
“There’s nothing else I can talk about,” Johan replied. “Our goals are clear and it would be a good idea if we both got some sleep.”
“I guess so,” Jelka said. “Although, I have to say that having only one bed brings up… an interesting situation…”
Johan looked at her, then down at the bed. “Oh, how could I forget,” he said. “It’d be rude of me to take this bed from you. You should take it instead; here, I’ll let you have it.”
With no warning, he jumped up from the bed to his feet and presented the bed to Jelka. She gazed at him for a moment, but then decided to just take his offer and sit on the bed.
“I should have realized sooner,” Johan said. “There’s a perfectly fine bathtub in the bathroom, so I’ll just go sleep in that for the night. Besides, you probably want to change out of those clothes, don’t you?”
“It’s not like I mind…”
“Well, I guess it’s time for me to head off,” Johan said as he picked up a nearby cushion. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
As Johan left the main room, Jelka tried to forget about it and focus on the task she had been given. She had no time to think about any of her unnecessary thoughts. Saving Rysol was the only priority for her at the moment and Johan’s priority at the moment was in Maeitakohn. Anything else would have to be discussed after they had taken down Foundation. At least, that was what Jelka believed.
To be continued…