[24th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – outside Douglas Junction]
Ayanna awaited the inevitable. With the Ameci military and Korbin Mars getting away from the Thekohnian soldiers in Oelaans, there was the realization that everything depended on defending the junction. There were numerous roads which led into the kingdom, but Ayanna had been informed that Douglas Junction would be the most likely path that Ameci would enter. Being the main road which led to Thedam Castle, Ayanna knew that she and the other ex-Iiayikohian soldiers could not afford to lose the battle here. It had been some time since Ayanna last fought in a battle, but she believed that her skills remained as sharp as they were in the past.
“It feels like an age and then some since we last served on the field,” Dierk said. “How long has it been?”
“The Battle of Bel,” Ayanna replied. “I trust that you’ll fight with everything you’ve got, Dierk.”
“We know what they’re going to do,” Dierk said. “If I don’t fight with all I’ve got, then how can I even look at myself in the mirror the next morning?”
“I think you would do more than look in a mirror,” Ayanna said. “If we fail here, then it’s the queen’s life that is at stake.”
“They’d go that far?” Dierk asked.
“Make no mistake about it, Dierk,” Ayanna said. “Rain is a threat to Dezine and the rest of Foundation. They wouldn’t attack us without a goal in mind, and in this case, their goal is to assassinate her.”
“So we have to stop them,” Dierk replied.
Ayanna nodded. “As of now, our focus is on the Ameci military,” she said. “It brings me no joy when I say that they’re our enemy, but with Foundation in control and Dezine willing to work with Isaac, there’s no other choice. We cannot allow for them to gain any more ground.”
“I still can’t believe it,” Dierk said. “There are still so many people, so many friends, that still serve within the Iiayikohnian military.”
“You don’t want to go up against them is what you’re saying,” Ayanna said. “I hope that it doesn’t come to fighting our fellow soldiers, but they chose to stay in Iiayikohn and serve Dezine. Whether that’s out of fear or not, they’re going to fight us all the same.”
“It seems like you’re not bothered by that, Ansa,” Dierk said.
“Reiss and I spoke with as many people as we could,” Ayanna replied. “Of course, we were able to convince quite a few to come with us, but others chose to remain of their own volition. These are uncertain times, Dierk, and most of them made their choice because of that fact.”
“And the others?” Dierk asked.
Ayanna sighed. “Loyalty to the prime minister.”
“I wonder what they’ll do should Dezine be ousted,” Dierk said.
“That will be something to worry about once we’re finished here,” Ayanna said. “I intend to lead the charge into Rezar and I will do my damnedest to make sure that Dezine will pay for his crimes.”
“It’s daunting, but knowing you, we will make it through somehow,” Dierk said. “Is it just me or does it seem too quiet?”
“No, it’s not just you,” Ayanna replied.
There was a prolonged silence at the junction with no sign of any Ameci soldiers anywhere. Ayanna was not sure what to make of it, but continued to keep her guard up just in case. She knew that it would be easy to spot incoming troops, which made the silence all the more peculiar. There was no sign of an ambush, either, as Ayanna tried to key in on any stray sounds that may reveal a potential threat.
“Whatever they have planned, we have to watch out,” Ayanna told Dierk. “I want you to watch the other end of the road; there could be a chance that they’ve slipped through one of the other roads.”
Dierk turned around and looked. “I’ll do that,” he said, “But so far, I’m not seeing anyone suspicious in particular.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Ayanna said. “Just keep an eye out, because we may be dealing with a smaller force than we previously thought.”
“You think so?” Dierk asked.
“I’ve been thinking that from what Gavin said, we would have to deal with a battalion,” Ayanna said. “If that’s the case, then it’s possible that it was all set up on purpose in order to draw us out. I’m not entirely familiar with the area of this kingdom myself, but I do know that there are several areas that can be used as a way to sneak in, including the Thekohnian Wastelands.”
“But that would be inconvenient for them, right?”
“We have to consider the options,” Ayanna said. “I’m sure Rain and Rado have already thought about it, too.”
“Well, I still don’t see anyone that looks like an Ameci soldier,” Dierk said. “Should we remain here?”
“That’s the order, yes,” Ayanna answered.
“I wonder how the others are doing,” Dierk said. “I’m sure that Reiss is also worried, too…”
“We’ll call Reiss if nothing of note happens within the next forty minutes,” Ayanna said. She looked at the rest of the ex-soldiers in her group. “But we won’t be leaving this post until the next order. Do you understand?”
The ex-soldiers agreed as Ayanna continued to focus on the main road. She had no idea if someone had gotten through yet, but hoped that no one had made it through yet. The lack of an entrance made Ayanna cautious as she wondered if Rain, Sorin, and the others were cognizant of the possibility. There was only one way to check, however, but Ayanna had to hold off on that in case the enemy came through.
After enough waiting, Ayanna spotted a car off in the distance. It began to approach the main street as Ayanna signaled to Dierk and the ex-soldiers. With their weapons ready, Ayanna knew she had to remain cautious. Soon, the car stopped several feet away from the group as Ayanna proceeded to take a few steps towards the car with her gun at pointed in front of her. She came to a halt as the front doors of the car opened and out came Gavin and Law. Ayanna sighed as she put away her gun and greeted the two brothers.
“I didn’t expect to be greeted like this,” Law said, “But I guess I’ve got some explaining to do, don’t I?”
“You’re back already?” Ayanna asked. “What has happened?”
“That’s a good question, you know,” Law replied. “So nobody came crossing through here?”
“Negative,” Dierk said. “Weren’t you two going to lookout in Oelaans?”
“Everything’s already under control there,” Gavin said. “Dealing with these assholes is a real pain in the ass, I’ll say.”
“But seriously, you haven’t seen one trace of our raven-haired ruffian and his cohorts run about yet?” Law asked. “That’s truly strange.”
“That may be on purpose,” Ayanna said.
“What will you do?” Gavin asked.
“With the situation as it is right now, I think that it may be best to inform Reiss right away,” Ayanna replied. “Dierk, I want you and Kinsley to go and open up communications.”
“Got it,” Dierk said.
“Then we’ll be heading towards the castle,” Gavin said. “I hope you don’t mind us going through.”
“Of course not,” Ayanna said. “Everyone, move to the sides!”
The ex-soldiers moved out of the way and onto the sidewalk. Ayanna watched Gavin and Law get into the car and drive off towards Thedam Castle. She wanted to go as well but knew that she was not about to abandon the post she helped set up. Then, Ayanna saw Dierk and Kinsley come back with a radio communicator and helped them place it on top of the brick fence next to them. With the communicator in hand, Ayanna flipped the switch.
“Let’s just hope he picks up,” Ayanna said.
[24th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Hall]
Sorin felt a strange unease as he paced around the main floor. It was not the fact that the Ameci military headed for the kingdom, but rather the fact that he had no idea where his father was at the moment. There was no way to tell by calling him because Sorin did not even have any sort of clue as to where his father stayed for the night. He could only hope to hear word from Kirk soon, but Sorin had a feeling he would be waiting a while longer before that happened. He glanced aside and watched Eva and Mina talk with other. Sighing, Sorin decided to join in.
“And if they come, I’m going to bash in their faces!” Mina exclaimed as she pounded her fist into her palm. “I’m going to make sure Korbin and his villainous crew pay for what they’ve done to the people of the Thekohnian Region!”
“I’ll be watching,” Eva said. “There’s no doubt that all of us want a piece of the action and the opportunity to make these assholes pay for their crimes. Isn’t that right, Sorin?”
“I agree,” Sorin said, looking away from the two.
“What’s wrong?” Mina asked. “Are you tired? If you’re tired, I can slap you in the face to help you wake up!”
“No, it’s okay,” Sorin replied. “I’m well awake, thank you.”
“It’s no use trying to hide it, especially from me,” Eva said. “I know what’s bugging you.”
“I know I told you that there was no need to worry about my father, but I can’t help but feel like something is wrong,” Sorin said. “I know it’s just me and my thoughts running wild, so I shouldn’t worry about it.”
“There’s not much we can do,” Eva replied. “We just have to wait for Kirk. You certainly cannot go until your name is cleared of suspicion, can you?”
Sorin shook his head. “I wouldn’t want to risk it.”
“If that’s the case, then our choice has already been made for us,” Eva said. “Even if I wanted to leave and look for Kirk myself, it wouldn’t be right for me to abandon you. Not now.”
“Yeah, don’t worry about it, Sorin,” Mina said. “I don’t think there’s any way at all that we don’t see Kirk again.”
“You’re probably right,” Sorin said.
However, Sorin could not help but feel as if he had failed with his promise to Kirk. He had made sure that he would find Rysol and bring him back to Ameci, but all his efforts were rewarded with Rysol getting abducted. Sorin was nowhere near close to reuniting with him, nor did he have any idea of the whereabouts of Rysol’s abductor. It felt even more like a failure that Kirk left on his own once more, because that was the only reason why he would go off in the first place. Sorin wished that he could have helped, but with everything as it was, he knew that there was no chance until some progress was made with Ahnlikohn.
“Where do you think they might try coming in?” Mina asked. “Do you think it’s the side entrance or the front?”
“Wherever they’re coming from, we have the advantage of overseeing both ends,” Eva replied. “No matter what, there are soldiers ready in case we have to battle against the enemy.”
Sorin exhaled. Then, a sudden creaking sound got his attention. A distinct sound which Sorin could not mistake for any other: the sound of a door opening and then closing followed.
“Do you guys hear that?” Sorin asked.
“Yes, I certainly heard that,” Eva said. “It came from inside. Mina!”
“Did they already come in?” Mina asked. “How in the world did they get past us? I’ll pummel them myself!”
“Mina, I think it’s pretty easy to understand how they got in,” Sorin said. “Do you remember the secret passage that we took with Rain?”
“But there’s no way they would ever know about that,” Mina said. “That’s just plain impossible!”
“It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s possible,” Eva replied. “What matters now is that we move! Mina, let Rain know that the plan has changed! Sorin and I will get a head start and secure the hallway!”
Mina did as Eva said and ran towards the queen’s office. Now Sorin had to keep his guard up that much more as he and Eva booked it to the back hallway. Sorin had to wonder how anyone outside of Thedam Castle would know about the secret passage, but he knew that there would be time for questions later after they took care of the threat. As he and Eva reached the back hall, they spotted the single intruder standing at the other end. Sorin recognized the man as Erik Ellis, the third of Korbin’s Blood Ravens. Erik turned and drew a sword the moment he saw Sorin and Eva staring him down.
“There’s no use fighting me!” Erik exclaimed. “I already know where I have to go and neither of you can do anything to stop me!”
Sorin saw Eva glance at him. “I’ll stand back and hold back the exit.”
“I only need one strike,” Eva said, “But it won’t hurt at all to have you back me up.”
“I believe in you,” Sorin said.
Eva nodded. If anyone had the best chance to incapacitate Erik, then it was Eva. Sorin had faith in Eva’s ability. He knew that all she needed was one swing of her blade in order to do damage to Erik before he could do anything to them. Eva rushed Erik with her sword drawn and swung at him. Erik, though he did not appear to be as good with a sword, defended himself from the potential attack. It became obvious to Sorin that Erik was nowhere near as experienced as Korbin, as Erik continued to hold up his blade in defense. Sorin knew Eva had the upper hand, but then he noticed the smile upon Erik’s face.
“I don’t have any time to fight you two,” Erik said. “So instead, I’m gonna go and leave you two in the dust!”
Not even a second later, Erik reached for his pocket. He then pulled out his hand and threw something to the ground. Smoke began to appear as both Eva and Erik were caught in the growing cloud.
Sorin hurried towards the cloud of smoke. “Eva!”
Another smoke bomb was thrown to the floor and Sorin found himself in the smoke as well. He covered his mouth as he tried to find Eva and Erik, but he could only find Eva after searching through the smoke.
“Eva, are you okay?” Sorin asked.
“He’s getting away,” Eva said. “Don’t let him get away!”
Sorin tried to find out where Erik went. He could not have gotten that far, Sorin thought, given that they were in the back hallway. Erik had made it more difficult, however, with the smoke throughout the hall. Then Sorin proceeded to hear footsteps going away from him and Eva. It could only be Erik going away into the castle proper, so Sorin decided to follow in that direction with Eva right behind him.
“Damn, I shouldn’t have been so reckless,” Sorin said.
“Just focus on our enemy,” Eva replied. “He won’t get far, I promise.”
But then, as they turned to the side, Sorin and Eva watched as Erik got away from them once more. However, that soon followed by the sound of two swords clashing against one another. What ensued next was the sound of one sword breaking and dropping to the floor, followed by the distinct sound of Erik getting hit as he grunted out in pain. Sorin hurried and saw for himself the sight before his eyes: Mina facing down Erik.
“You’re not going anywhere!” Mina exclaimed.
Mina then threw another punch and struck Erik in the side of his face. He fell to the ground and did not get up. Eva then caught up with Sorin and Mina as she saw Erik lying on the floor unconscious.
“I thought you were going to tell Rain,” Sorin said.
“I did,” Mina replied. “And I know I couldn’t let this bad guy get away from us. Not at all!”
“Well, it appears like he’s the only one who came in,” Sorin said. “What are we going to do with him?”
“First, we have to let Rain know what happened,” Eva said. “Then we’ll see what we can do from there.”
To be continued…