[24th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Queen’s Office]
Everybody moved around the room, shuffling to gather their papers as the announcement from the royal lieutenant general caused a stir. Rain received word that the part of the Ameci military had already begun to advance toward Oelaans and now she had to respond. Several soldiers had been dispatched to the city, but Rain worried that it would not be enough to hold the opposing forces back. As she placed both hands on the table and leaned forward, Rain looked to Rado, Ayanna, and Reiss for advice.
“What do you think we should do?” Rain asked Rado.
“We trust our soldiers,” Rado said. “They along with the Thekohnian forces will hold up Oelaans before the enemy has a chance.”
“I don’t doubt their ability,” Rain said, “But I know that our enemy will be fighting with everything they’ve got. They’ll use any trick in the book if they have to and I’m worried that our best may not be good enough.”
“We shouldn’t have to worry,” Ayanna said. “They may attack first, but we possess the advantage.”
Gavin glanced over at Johan. “You said that they’d attack us first,” he said, “So explain to me why they’re leading an assault on Oelaans as we speak!”
“It’s not a good idea to shoot your messenger,” Johan said. “As I’ve said to you, this is what I’ve learned from one of my crew. He’s the one who learned of Ameci’s intents and he wouldn’t lie to me.”
“Now you’re just trying to pass off the blame,” Gavin replied. “Quit fucking around already!”
“I did say they would lead an attack on Thekohn, didn’t I?” Johan asked. “I have only said the truth to you all. They’re attacking because they know I’m here and want to bring down the kingdom in the process.”
“Then do something about it, asshole,” Gavin said.
“I’ve done everything that I could,” Johan said. “I’ve already exposed Isaac Kunigunde and Foundation for the threats that they are. What happens now is all up to you.”
Gavin jumped up to his feet. “You’ve done jack shit for us! I ought to kick your ass right here, shithead!”
“Gavin, calm down,” Gale said. “It’s pointless to get mad at him when we have much more to worry about.”
“I didn’t say I was done,” Johan said. “I said ‘what happens now,’ not what happens in the future. If you want to keep listening to me, then I’d be happy to help you out.”
“You’ve already proven how valuable you are,” Rain said. “I can’t thank you any more for that, Johan.”
“Well, I’m happy you think so, Your Majesty,” Johan said. “I knew I wasn’t wrong about you.”
“Great, let’s just keep moving,” Gavin said. “I don’t really care anymore, so let’s think about what we’re going to do next.”
“It’d be best for us if we stayed with Rain,” Gale said. “We have to protect the kingdom, after all.”
“There’s a lot that needs to be done here,” Jelka said. “If you hold them off at Oelaans, then there’s little need to worry about here.”
“But we should prepare for the worst, in any case,” Ayanna replied. “As it stands right now, we’re defending ourselves. As long as we can do that, we will be able to start the counterattack.”
“Right, that’s our next objective,” Rain said.
Being in command of a strong military was a new concept for Rain, as was the fact that she was fighting against an enemy military. This was the one thing that she was trying to avoid but as it stood, Rain had no choice but to exercise the use of that military force. What she hoped for next is that the conflict would be resolved sooner rather than later.
“So we’re ready,” Rado said. “Oelaans is secured and they will hold the line until the next move.”
“If that’s the case, then we’ll head out,” Johan said. “Jelka and I must meet with one of our allies tonight; he may have even more valuable information that could be of use to you.”
“Just go already, then,” Gavin said.
“If you learn anything new, then please don’t hesitate to inform us,” Rain said. “I am surprised you want to leave so soon, however.”
“Well, it’s like I told Sorin, Your Majesty,” Johan replied. “Actually, I should just drop the formalities, shouldn’t I? You’re Sorin’s friend, and anyone who’s a friend of his is definitely someone I can trust.”
Rain cracked a smile. “That’s very nice of you.”
“Thank you, Rain,” Johan said. “Anyway, there’s no real point in me trying to stay in one place for too long, especially since the Ameci government is after me. Of course, I don’t intend to lose anytime soon, so they still have a long way to go before they can catch up to me.”
“Let’s just hope you’re right,” Gale said.
“As do I,” Johan said. “Well, Jelka and I are off. See ya.”
With that being said, Johan turned and left the room. Jelka then looked to Rain and bowed.
“I must thank you for taking the time to listen to us,” Jelka said. “I promise that we will return soon.”
“Please, I should be thanking you,” Rain said.
“You’re too humble,” Jelka replied. “But I suppose that that’s why you are so highly regarded in the kingdom.”
Jelka then said her goodbyes and followed Johan outside. There was little for Rain to do now that the plan was in place to defend Oelaans and Thekohn against the oncoming attack. Rain was fortunate to have people like Johan and Jelka on her side, even if they were seen as enemies by other people. As she began to think about what to do now, Sorin, Mina, and Eva entered the office once more.
“Ah, you’re done training with Dierk, I take it?” Rain asked Mina.
“Not exactly,” Mina replied. “Sorin and Eva came by and everything just kinda went in a different direction.”
“It’s not important,” Eva said. “What is important is that it looks like you made a lot of progress.”
“Indeed, we discussed a lot,” Rain said. “Now that we know what their next move is, we’re ready to lead a counterattack. That is, once we successfully defend Oelaans of course.”
“Oelaans?” Sorin asked. “I thought they were attacking here first.”
“There was a mixup,” Rain replied.
“Johan screwed up, apparently,” Gavin said. “It doesn’t matter, though. We know that they’re planning to strike tonight.”
“So they’re going to attack the city when it’s at its most vulnerable,” Mina said. “I should’ve expected them to go low, but to attack a sleeping city? It’s just unforgivable!”
“We’ve taken care of it,” Rado said. “Soldiers already wait at the city limits. They’ll do everything to hold strong and win.”
“And just in case the enemy forces try to pull another trick on us and come straight to here, we’re ready,” Ayanna said. “Reiss and I have organized a select group of former Iiayi soldiers who are ready to defend the kingdom.”
“And what about our other allies?” Eva asked. “Is Khadir going to be joining in as well?”
“I’ve spoken with him and he says he cannot at this time,” Rain answered. “That’s not to say he won’t support us in the future, however.”
“He seems to be busy with home,” Rado said. “There’s a lot he must do, I imagine.”
“It’s not a position he wanted to be in,” Rain said. “He’s adapting in his role as the temporary President of Maeitakohn but I know that, once he is able to do so, he’ll help us. Until then, we wait for tonight.”
“What do we do in the meantime?” Gale asked.
“Prepare,” Rado replied. “We shouldn’t be stupid. Small chance of failure is still a chance.”
“And that’s why I’ve got to kick some asses,” Gavin said, standing up. “First I’m going to find Lawrence. Second, I’m gonna go meet with these Iiayi soldiers. If there’s anything to teach them, it’s to focus on what’s ahead of them as well as behind them.”
“In that case, I’ll go with you,” Ayanna said.
“I was expecting you to say that,” Gavin said. He uttered a small chuckle and pointed at Sorin. “As for you, your ass is still on the line, so you should stay out of this one.”
“It wasn’t like I was going to go anywhere,” Sorin replied.
“I suppose I’ll stay here with Mr. Liffe,” Reiss said.
“What about you, Mina?” Sorin asked.
“I’d love to go, but I know I should stay here, too,” Mina said. “After all, I’ve got to show you some of my new moves!”
“Well, a lot of people would love to see them,” Rain said. “Eva… You’re not going to stay, are you?”
Eva brushed back part of her hair with her hand as she breathed a heavy sigh. “I’m staying here,” she said. “Rado is right: a small chance of failure is still a chance and I’m going to make sure that we don’t fail our task by staying here with all of you.”
“Then I welcome your support,” Rain said. “Everyone, thank you once again. I don’t know what I’d do without your help.”
Everyone responded with assurance as Rain knew she was happy to have friends like these. Without them, there was no telling what would have happened on her journey and eventual ascension to the throne. But now there was no time to reflect as nightfall approached with each passing minute. Rain and the others would have to get ready soon for the attack and there was no room for error on Rain’s part.
[24th of December, 2740 AD; Glora Bus Station, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Erithacus District]
It had taken over two hours to arrive by bus, but now Kirk was in Glora. He had to know for sure if what he heard was true. Kirk had to know whether or not Rysol was somewhere in the city. After a few minutes of asking the people around the local area, Kirk found no answers. He had to remain diligent, though, as Rysol was his reason for coming to Glora and in the mix was Harold Mars. Harold was the one who was responsible for Rysol’s disappearance and April’s death, and Kirk was certain that if Rysol was in Glora, then the chance of Harold trailing after him was high.
“Sir, have I seen you around?”
Kirk looked up and saw a young male Ahnlikohnian soldier standing in front of him. He had to wonder if the soldier recognized him, as Kirk guessed there was little chance of any ordinary person carrying a sword like the one he had at his side. Still, the soldier’s question had no authority behind it, nor were there any hints of malicious intent.
“Can I help you?” Kirk asked.
The soldier eyed the hilt of Kirk’s sword. “That blade you have there must be pretty good,” he said. “You’re not from here, I take it?”
Kirk chuckled and shrugged. “How did you know?”
“It was just a guess,” he replied. “I thought I had seen someone similar to you earlier today, or at least that long hair, which is why I asked you.”
“I see,” Kirk said. “Where was this, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I’m not sure I can tell you that,” the soldier said. “There’s a whole lot of things that are important and I don’t know if I should be telling a traveler some of this stuff—”
“You don’t have to tell me,” Kirk interrupted. “I can obviously tell that I’m not the guy you should be looking for.”
The soldier nodded. “That’s true,” he said. “I guess it wouldn’t make sense, seeing as this person was heading towards Ahnle Peak, whereas you’re here in the city talking to me!”
“And I suppose that he’s checking out the sights,” Kirk said. “There is a lot to do in this part of the country from what I’ve heard.”
“So you’ve been reading the papers, haven’t you?”
“I know that there’s been a lot going on in recent days,” Kirk replied. “In fact, some may say that there’s still a lot yet to happen.”
“You’re telling me,” the soldier said. “Things have been stressful ever since Prince Amile was arrested.”
“Well, it’s put a toll on the queen,” Kirk said. “But I’m sure that you’ve got much that you need to do besides talk with random strangers, so I’ll just go ahead and leave you be, okay?”
“Absolutely, sir,” the soldier replied. “I’m sorry for bothering you!”
“Don’t be, you did a good job,” Kirk said.
He walked away from the soldier and continued onward. Ahnle Peak. Kirk had to wonder why Rysol was headed there but if there was anything to go by, then Harold indeed loomed close. Even if he was hiding, Harold posed a threat and Kirk knew that he had to finish the job. It went against everything he stood for for the past eighteen years, all back to when he made a promise to April that he would never kill again, but this was an exception. No way would Kirk ever let Harold draw breath the next time they faced again, not as long as Kirk held his sword in his hand.
To be continued…