[21st of December, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Talons of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
Ahnlikohnian soldiers packed each entrance to the Glora Grand Hall, which made it harder for Sorin to enter. He had a feeling that this would happen though there was little that he could do to get past the security. That was when he spotted Jelka standing by the fence, which was topped with barbed wire. Sorin ran over to Jelka, who had already begun to climb the fence.
“Jelka, wait,” Sorin said. “It’s dangerous!”
“You tell me to wait?” Jelka asked. “Are you concerned about the barbed wire? Just stand back and watch if you’re scared!”
With a single kick up the fence, Jelka moved her entire body up until she was handstanding on top of the fence. The barbed wire grazed her wrist as Jelka then launched off from the edge and over the barbed wire. Sorin looked on in awe as Jelka then drew her sword and sliced through the wire, cutting it apart and damaging it as she landed on her feet.
“It should be easier to cross, even for you,” Jelka said. “Well, Sorin? Are you not going to follow me?”
Sorin snapped out of his shock. “Oh, yeah, of course,” he replied. “I think I can clear this one…”
He grabbed the same part of the fence Jelka did and began to climb. Sorin made the way up the fence and over it, making sure not to cut himself on the remaining parts of barbed wire. He got over the fence and joined Jelka as the two hurried towards the inside of the Glora Grand Hall.
“Where’s Johan?” Sorin asked.
“He’s still around in the city,” Jelka answered. “I don’t want to say too much in case someone is listening.”
“Okay, I understand, then,” Sorin replied. “So I assume that you heard the shots as well.”
“I knew that there was a risk, yet I did not expect for the Blood Ravens to start shooting right as the queen began her speech,” Jelka said, “But the more that I think about it, it’s not at all a coincidence that they chose this time of the day to stage their attack.”
“It’s despicable,” Sorin said. “Everything that Isaac does is all just to protect himself.”
“We don’t have the time to talk about him,” Jelka said. “We need to hurry inside and make sure everyone is safe.”
Sorin knew that, which was why he was able to appreciate having Jelka on his side. The two entered the building where the inside was empty with nobody around and not a single person was in sight.
“They may have already secured themselves upstairs,” Jelka said. “Let’s go now, Sorin!”
He nodded and went with Jelka up the stairs. Once they were on the Wings of the Albatross, Sorin and Jelka looked around. There much more commotion in comparison to the first floor, though yet again not a single soul to be found. Sorin presumed that everyone was locked within the meeting rooms, but he had no way to tell for sure. As long as the place was secured, Sorin could not do anything in order to make sure that the others were okay.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Jelka said, “You’re thinking that you want to go find your friends.”
“I need to know if Rain and Mina are okay,” Sorin said. “I know that they’re capable of handling themselves quite well, but Isaac’s not the type of guy to play fair with anyone.”
“He’s not going after them,” Jelka replied. “If that was his plan all along, then he wouldn’t have gone and staged the attack near the park.”
Sorin had to consider that possibility. If Rain was not Isaac’s target, then who was it that Isaac was after? Sorin had no answer for that question, but as he and Jelka ran through the halls of the second floor, they ended up crossing paths with Bradley.
“It seems that the moths noticed the flame,” Bradley said. “Well, there is one I thought would show up. Guess Mr. Kuu’s too much a coward to show his face when the trouble comes to town.”
“If you’re talking about Johan, he’s already aware of the situation,” Jelka replied. “He’s certainly no coward, not like you or Isaac Kunigunde.”
“Funny you mention Mr. Kunigunde,” Bradley said, “Because I’ve just put the finishing touches on this little gift for the queen, and it’s all thanks to Isaac for making it possible.”
“What did you do, Bradley?” Sorin asked. “What the hell are you trying to prove here?”
Bradley grinned. “That’s for you to find out, isn’t it? Hopefully it will teach that woman that she doesn’t stand a chance against Foundation!”
His words cut deep for Sorin. He wanted to square up against Bradley, but was stopped as Jelka stepped forward.
“Please leave him to me,” Jelka said to Sorin. “If… If what he said is true, then I have to fight him. This isn’t just about Ahnlikohn or stopping Foundation; it’s about seeing things through.”
Sorin looked at Bradley and then to her. “I’ll go upstairs, then,” he said. “I know you’ll be able to handle this bastard, Jelka.”
“Thanks, but I don’t need your support to know that I will win,” she replied as she unsheathed her sword. “Now go!”
Jelka’s command got Sorin moving as, hurrying past Bradley and upstairs to the top floor of the Glora Grand Hall. As the number of people on the second floor dwindled down to two, Jelka gripped the handle of her sword and glared at Bradley. Sunlight poured in through the windows as Bradley stepped onto the floor as he reached into his pockets.
“Shame, I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself, but you’ve left me no choice,” Bradley said. “It doesn’t matter to me, though, since what’s done is already done.”
“You may attack Ahnlikohn all you want, but you will never be more than just a stain on the Thekohnian Region,” Jelka said. “Listen well, because I will not say this again: I will defeat you in less than a minute.”
Bradley pulled out a pair of gloves from his pockets and put them on. “Oh, so you guarantee that you’ll beat me, then? That’s so funny, I could laugh my ass off just by hearing you speak.”
“Do you intend to fight me with but your hands?” Jelka asked.
“I am confident in my abilities that I will not need to use more than these gloves,” Bradley answered. “You could consider them a gift from a talented man. A very special gift.”
Jelka wasted no time with her attack as Bradley adjusted his gloves. He popped his head up and moved out of the way but Jelka stopped and turned. She swung her sword sideways at Bradley, hoping to hit him. However, he leapt over the blade and landed on his hand before settling to his feet.
“It seems you are quick as I,” Jelka said.
But she would not give Bradley another chance to dodge again. Jelka swung down her sword at Bradley this time. He then reached up and used his hands to catch the blade above him.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Bradley said. “It’s impossible to catch such a sharp blade, isn’t it? That’s what these are for! They’re perfectly made to defend myself from such quick attacks!”
Jelka held onto the handle of her sword as Bradley then tried to redirect the blade to the right. She recognized what he was trying to do and pulled her sword back before he could begin to break it. Bradley chuckled as he stretched his hands.
“I told you they were special,” Bradley said. “Yes, perfect material good for handling steel. Jealous, aren’t you?”
“So what?” Jelka asked. “You’ve but one move that can stop my attack and there’s no way you’ll do it twice!”
“Maybe you’re right,” Bradley replied. “It would be foolish to think that I’d pull another miracle right out of my ass… Or maybe you’re just underestimating me!”
He lunged at Jelka and threw a punch at her. She dodged it, though Bradley began to follow up. Jelka started to back up as Bradley threw everything he had at her. She then attempted to strike back at him with her sword. With each attack, though, Jelka could not connect her sword with Bradley. She backed up once more as Bradley cracked his neck.
“You’ve got nothing!” Bradley exclaimed. “I’ve already won this fucking fight, Jelka!”
“Have you now, Ameci?” Jelka asked. “Then I command you to bring your worst!”
She stood firm with her sword still drawn as Bradley charged at her. It was then that Jelka knew she had won. She could tell that he exerted all of his energy into his final attack. But before Bradley could come into contact with her, Jelka jumped up. She leapt high, catching Bradley off guard as he realized what waited for him: the stairs leading down.
“You led me here on purpose!” Bradley exclaimed.
Jelka chose not to respond. The only thing she did was turn in the air and deliver a strong strike with her sword. Bradley attempted to catch it but soon lost his footing. He then slipped and fell down the stairs, hitting every step before landing on the ground floor with a loud thud. Jelka landed on her feet, still atop the stairs as she looked around.
“That should do it,” she said. “But now I have to find Sorin. I have to find him, before it’s too late!”
There was only one room open as Sorin looked around the Head of the Albatross. He came across the grisly scene in front of the open doors right in front of him, but that was nothing compared to what he found inside.
“That man… Is that the chancellor?” Sorin asked.
He walked over to the desk and looked over the hunched over corpse. It could only have been the Ahnlikohnian chancellor face down on the desk, bathed in his blood. Sorin had come across dead bodies before, but he was still not used to seeing death this close.
“There could only be one person behind this,” Sorin said. “Isaac killed him. He had to have done it.”
Before Sorin could inspect any further, he heard footsteps approaching. He had to be on his guard, just in case. However, it was Jelka who entered the room. She stopped to catch her breath as Sorin walked up to her.
“I took care of Bradley,” Jelka said. “It… was not that big of a deal.”
“It wasn’t a big deal?” Sorin asked. “Then why are you breathing so hard?”
“Because… Because we are in danger if we stay here,” Jelka replied. “The military will be here soon and they will find us with the chancellor’s body. We have to go now!”
She grabbed Sorin by the wrist and hurried out of the chancellor’s room. Sorin heard more footsteps coming forward, however, which caused him and Jelka to stop.
“No, this can’t be,” Jelka said. “We’re out of time!”
“What do you mean?”
“There isn’t enough time to explain,” Jelka replied. “We just need to find another way out!”
“But where?” Sorin asked. “I didn’t see any other way out of this place. It seems pretty secure.”
Jelka pulled Sorin to the left. “There is one way,” she said. “Just follow me; it’s the only chance we’ve got!”
[21st of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Indoor Lounge, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
Sorin made his way back to the hotel with Jelka, who decided to leave once they made it to the front. He wanted to thank her for her help, but Jelka had left before he could tell her. Still, it was worth it in order to escape through the secret elevator on the top floor. Jelka remembered the passage to the elevator due to her parents’ past as politicians, which she had learned from them. They were able to get out of the building undetected and left through the back path.
“I can’t imagine where I’d be without her help,” Sorin said. “But what about the others?”
He left Gavin and the others back at the marketplace, though he was not sure that they remained there. Sorin could only guess that they followed after him, but if that was the case, they had to have been turned away by the guards. Yet Sorin had to also make sure that Gale was safe as well as his father and Eva, though he was certain that they were in no danger. With all of the disarray, however, safety was the sole priority in Sorin’s mind as he went into the hotel. Inside, he found Eva waiting in the lobby by herself.
“Sorin, you’re safe,” Eva said. “Thank goodness.”
“Where’s Gale and my father?” Sorin asked.
“They’re waiting in the lounge,” Eva replied.
She explained to Sorin that she and Kirk were busy making sure everyone was calm in the wake of the attack in the marketplace. Considering there were no signs of damage around the hotel, it only served to prove Sorin’s thoughts that it was all set-up for a greater purpose.
“I heard about everything,” Eva continued. “I was worried that after your friend’s little message, Isaac would act. I don’t think any of us expected him to act so quickly.”
“None of us thought it would happen,” Sorin said, “But it’s happened and now the chancellor of Ahnlikohn is dead!”
“What did you say?” Eva asked.
“I… I don’t know why he was killed,” Sorin said. “I imagine he must have some sort of connection to Isaac, though.”
Eva turned her head to the left. “He’s trying to create a crisis,” she said. “It’s all to divide the Thekohnian Region apart. It has to be.”
Eva’s presumption made sense. Given Rain’s message to unite the region, that plan would end up working against Isaac’s goals. Sorin, however, wondered what could be done now. People died due to Korbin’s actions and many more had been injured, but the chancellor’s assassination was what truly topped off the terrible tragedy that struck Glora during what was supposed to be a peaceful week.
“We’ll have to meet together right away,” Sorin said.
“Speaking of which, weren’t you with Gavin?” Eva asked. “Where is he right now?”
Sorin tried to answer, but was stopped by the blaring speakers decorated around the corners of the lobby. Sorin thought that there would be no need for more speeches today, given the tragedy, but now the Queen of Ahnlikohn spoke as she gave an announcement. Queen Amelia summed up what had happened in the market, but turned her focus towards the chancellor’s assassination. To be more precise, the person that Queen Amelia named as the assassin.
“There was only one man responsible for such a heinous crime against our great land,” Amelia said. “One man and one man only could have assassinated Chancellor Harring during a time of crisis, and according to my associates, that man’s name is Sorin Wilk.”
To be continued…