[20th of December, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Talons of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
“Ready to go, Rain?” Mina asked.
“Of course, my love,” Rain replied. “I’ve got much to do and much to see today, after all. So many people are waiting for me.”
Mina celebrated by pumping her fists into the air. “Yay! Let’s get out there and meet some people!”
Rain and Mina entered the Glora Grand Hall from the side, with Dustin and Gamal accompanying them. It was finally time for the summit began as Rain could not wait to meet with the other leaders. The first real step towards a more united world was now possible, Rain thought as she walked hand-in-hand with Mina. Despite all that had happened, Rain carried a confident face as she, Mina, and the advisers made their way into the main hall. When they did, Karim Khadir noticed the group and hurried over to them as several other Maeitakohnian officials went with him.
“Ah, Your Majesty, I’m very ecstatic to see you right now,” Khadir said. “It’s been one hell of a trip so far…”
“I can only imagine what you’re going through,” Rain said.
“Yeah, I had no clue you’d be moving up the ranks so quickly,” Dustin said. “Guess that’s changed a lot for you, hasn’t it?”
Khadir sighed. “If I must be honest with you, it’s a real pain in the ass,” he said. “I had a feeling that Mahrk had no chance once his own men rose up against him, but never did I expect it to happen so swiftly! It’s like watching a bunch of headless chickens out there.”
“That just means it’s important for all of us to work together,” Mina said. “As long as we can do that, we’ll be sure to deal with any villain!”
“You’re quite headstrong and valiant, Miss Rask,” Khadir replied, “But I’m only the acting president for the time being.”
“Yet you should have an idea of what happens next for Maeitakohn,” Gamal said.
“True, we should have left it to the people to decide Maeitakohn’s fate,” Khadir said. “In due time, I will do my best to set up the next election so that we have a real leader and not just a guy like me pretending to be one.”
“Does that mean you’ll go back to being a general once it’s all over?” Rain asked.
“Some of us lead best when we’re in the right environment, Your Majesty,” Khadir said. “Mine just happens to be the military, not the palace.”
“I see,” Rain said.
“Yes, which is why I want to move this talk of ours down a different track,” Khadir replied. “I’ve been seeing a lot of that Isaac Kunigunde fellow out here today. He’s been chatting up nearly everybody in a five mile radius, it seems like! You haven’t talked to him yet, have you?”
“I have not,” Rain answered, “Though I’m hoping to speak with him as well as the Ameci president and general before the talks officially begin.”
“But we should be careful,” Mina said. “We know what he’s capable of doing, Rain!”
“So you can feel it, too?” Khadir asked. “If I have to be honest, a guy like myself could never put my faith in a man like that. You see, my life was less than fortunate growing up and guys like him either treated the poor like dog crap at worst or ignored us altogether at best.”
“I know only a little about our friend Mr. Kunigunde, but from what I’ve heard, he sounds like a real jackass,” Dustin said.
“Well, he’s already been getting really friendly with the Iiayikohnian prime minister,” Khadir replied. “I can only wonder what’s going on in that man’s head right now, though perhaps it’s for the best that I don’t know.”
He took a couple of steps away and looked around before talking to his people. Rain knew the time was drawing near for everyone to meet in the main conference room and she had to be the one to lead the way. She could only hope the other leaders in the Thekohnian Region would be on the same as well as Khadir turned back to face her.
“Looks like these guys want to get moving,” Khadir said. “I will see you up on the stage soon, Your Majesty.”
“Then I will see you there,” Rain replied.
Khadir made his exit, leaving Rain with Mina and the advisers. She was all too familiar with the influence that Isaac Kunigunde had over people, her mother included. It only served to remind Rain about how important it was for her to complete the summit.
“I’m surprised that you didn’t bring up Mr. Kunigunde’s connections, Your Majesty,” Gamal said. “Surely it would serve us well to have the Maeita president completely on our side.”
“He’s completely on our side already!” Mina said as she clenched her fist. “Just like all of our friends, Khadir’s got nothing but for support for us!”
“I don’t doubt his support for one moment, Sir Gamal,” Rain said, “But we still have so much to depend on before we truly confront Isaac Kunigunde and Foundation.”
“Yeah, you got a point there,” Dustin said. “Can’t just go rushing in without having the proper plan in place, can we?”
“No we cannot,” Rain replied.
“And we know that Sorin and the others are working hard, too,” Mina said. “As long as we’re working together, we’ll be able to take down these villains in no time!”
“I really hope so,” Rain said. “Then, finally, we will be able to progress towards our goals.”
“Don’t look now, Your Majesty, but the man of the hour’s coming our way,” Gamal said. “I guess he heard us talking about him.”
Rain looked and saw Isaac Kunigunde walking towards her group. He was not alone, however, as President Bradley, his son, and Rohan Fercewend walked alongside him.
“Better brace ourselves,” Dustin said. “Who knows what he’s about to say to us?”
“He may subdue himself,” Rain said. “With a group like that, he won’t want to stir up too much trouble.”
Isaac approached the group with his arms crossed. “Guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to find you here,” he said to Rain. “The so-called shining star of the region herself is finally ready to make her grand appearance, it seems.”
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Rain said. “Do you mind? I wish to speak with the Ameci president.”
“Oh, do I mind?” Isaac asked. “Well, I mind quite a bit, you know. After all, I’m quite a busy man with more important things to do than speak to you.”
“Perhaps it’s best we entertain her request,” Casper said. “You’ve been doing a lot of talking on my behalf, Isaac… I think it’d be nice for you to rest that jaw of yours.”
“You sound so certain, sir,” Isaac said. “I wonder… Well, maybe I’ll just sit back a bit and let the two of you have a little chit-chat. Not like it will actually matter, but you two go on ahead.”
“Excuse me, pops,” Bradley said. “You mind if I go upstairs for a bit? This headache has been killing me for a while now.”
“And end up missing this exciting display of wits?” Isaac asked. “What do you think, sir?”
“It’s fine,” Casper replied. “You had quite a night last night. You deserve a little relaxation for all your hard work. How about it, general?”
Fercewend nodded. “Yes, I think it might be a good time for me, too,” he said. “Come, Bradley, we’ll go upstairs together.”
Bradley then left with Fercewend. There was no impact to be made, Rain thought, as now she had the Ameci President and Isaac to deal with. She knew that she had to remain strong against him in this confrontation.
“I think you ought to be careful, Mr. President,” Isaac said. “I think I may have heard a few unsavory things being spoken by one of the queen’s men right over there.”
“Don’t worry about my adviser,” Rain said, “Besides, this conversation is between the president and I.”
“Yeah, so you’d best keep your nose out of official business,” Dustin said. “That could do you some good, I imagine.”
“Then I’d suggest you do the same,” Isaac replied before muttering under his breath. “A poor excuse of a fool, clod.”
“Mind speaking up?” Dustin asked. “Come on, say it so that the rest of the class to hear, pal.”
Isaac scoffed. “If this is the kind of company that you keep, ‘Your Majesty,’ that says a lot about you.”
“She didn’t say a damn thing about you,” Dustin said. “Hell, you wanna blame me, then do so; doesn’t change the fact that what I said is true.”
“Casper, I think it’s about time for us to move along,” Isaac said. “I knew there was something up about this woman, and with her personal lowlife guards frothing at the mouth ready to bite, it looks like I was right. As I always am, of course.”
As Casper turned and began to walk away with Isaac out of the main hall, Rain took one step forward and spoke up.
“One question,” Rain said. “That is all I want.”
Isaac gazed back at Rain and walked towards her. “Listen to me, you insignificant wench,” he said, “You are but a small fish in an ocean here, so you would do well to know your place lest you end up meeting the same fate as your parents.”
Mina began to walk up with her fists balled up. “How dare you…”
“Mina, don’t,” Rain said.
“But Rain!” Mina exclaimed.
Isaac smirked and turned away. “Seems the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn has no end to their contempt for us, Casper.”
Rain felt the same way Mina did, true, but she had just been placed into a situation that she was worried about. It was important for her to get everyone to work together, but thanks to Isaac, that cast some doubt on Rain’s vision for the summit. Still, she had to keep her head up. Rain had to have hope. Someone had to, anyway. Even if she was upset by what Isaac said to her, Rain was not about to let him win. She still had many other ways to handle the summit, even without Ameci’s help.
“How could you just let him walk like that?” Mina asked. “We can’t just let a villain like him get away with what he’s done.”
“I’m not letting him get away, Mina,” Rain replied. “None of us are. As long as we know what we know, Isaac will not walk away.”
“I just wish I could have punched him,” Mina said. “Just one chance, I’d have knocked that evil smile of his off his stupid face!”
Dustin laughed. “That’s about how I feel right now, Miss Rask! God damn, he’s just one condescending quip after another.”
“Yet it does us little good to fight him directly,” Gamal said. “He is a man with many connections, no doubt those people would find it easy to strike back at us without a second thought.”
“Besides, he’s not the type of villain who can be fought head on,” Rain said. “He has stayed behind the scenes of the Neu Thekohnian Order for a reason, and that’s because he’s afraid of what we’re capable of doing—no, what we’re going to do here, rather.”
“People like him really hate it when they get told no,” Dustin replied. “Mr. Kunigunde is the type of guy that is just used to having people placing their lips right on his ass, that when someone decides not to do that, he just starts throwing a fit inside his head. Do you think I’m right on the nose there with that assertion, Your Majesty?”
“That seems about right,” Mina said. “I wonder if he’s just throwing a fit upstairs thinking about how you just messed with him, Rain!”
She began to laugh as Rain cracked a smile. However, Rain knew that she could not get too happy. Not yet. As long as there was still concern, Rain had to stay focused on the goal at hand.
“We still have a few minutes before things begin,” Rain said. “It would be a good idea if we got some refreshments, don’t you think?”
Mina nodded and hugged Rain. “That’d be a really good idea!”
“Then it’s settled,” Rain said as she hugged Mina back. She shared a brief kiss with Mina before moving ahead. “If I recall, the beverage counter isn’t too far away from here.”
“Well, looks like we’re all happy again,” Dustin said. “That’s gotta be good, don’t you think?”
Gamal proceeded to walk. “Let’s just go already,” he said. “The queen’s got a lot that she wants to do today and I intend on helping her in any way that I can, as should you.”
“Just asking you a question, sheesh,” Dustin replied. “Oh fine then, let’s just move along then.”
To be continued…