Aurora – Chapter 26 (Part 1)

[25th of December, 2740 AD; Maein Yew Courtyard near the President’s Palace, Bel, Maeitakohn]

 

The cool morning air felt welcoming on Johan’s face as he and Jelka stood in front of one of Maeitakohn’s famous landmarks: the Maein Yew. They observed the tree in the middle of the garden as Johan waited for his contact to arrive. The fact that Johan came back to the very country he helped kick start a revolution in had made him hesitant at first. However, Johan knew that with events moving as fast as they are, he had no choice but to act quickly in response. He had to risk it and speak to his contact, otherwise, the chances of his plan succeeding would be put in jeopardy.

“Do you think he’ll be able to make time for us?” Jelka asked.

“I have no clue,” Johan replied.

Johan and Jelka had made it to Bel late last night, which was when Johan made his call. Though he was not able to speak with his contact, Johan secured a brief meeting in the courtyard. Of course, Johan relied on his bluffs in order to make the meeting possible, but he was confident he would be able to explain it once he met with his contact.

“And you’ve met him before,” Jelka said.

“You could say that,” Johan said. “I told him we’d be standing here by the Maein Yew at about 0900 hours. Let’s just hope he’s not a night person, because I don’t know him too well.”

“That makes two of us,” Jelka replied, “But if you say we can trust him, then I can believe you.”

Johan smiled. “I’m glad you’re with me.”

“And I the same, too,” Jelka said.

At that moment, Johan’s contact had arrived in the courtyard: the sitting president of Maeitakohn, Karim Khadir. Obtaining an audience with Khadir was not easy, but Johan managed to pull it off. Using his connection to Rain, all Johan had to do was mention what had happened up in Oelaans in order for Khadir to take notice. Now with Khadir approaching him, Johan prepared himself to go in and make the next move. Khadir walked with three soldiers: one at his left, one at his right, and one behind him.

“So you’re the one who called me over here,” Khadir said, taking a look at both Johan and Jelka. “Do I know you from somewhere, young man?”

Johan reached out his hand. “We’ve met before, yes,” he replied. “Do you happen to remember what happened when Rodik Mahrk stepped down? Well, I would like to thank you for directing me to the library.”

Khadir’s eyes lit up. “Ah, you’re that soldier I spoke with,” he said, “Though you’re not a soldier at all, and if I had to guess, you’re not even Maeitakohnian at all. Just who are you, anyway?”

“I’m surprised you’d be so casual with the man who fooled you and ousted your president,” Johan said. “Even more so that a man as smart as you would be so easily fooled by my disguise.”

Khadir uttered a deep laugh. “I see you’re trying to flatter me now,” he said as he shook Johan’s hand. “I would be angry, but given that Mahrk did himself no favors with the people, I won’t hold it against you.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Johan replied.

“That’s not to say the next president will be as forgiving as I,” Khadir said. “But I don’t think you really care, do you? No, you called me out because you had a good reason to, and that attack in Oelaans is the reason. Am I correct?”

“It’s part of the reason,” Johan said.

He explained to Khadir about how he obtained the information about the attacks and went to inform Rain. Once he and Jelka left Thedam Castle, Johan received another notice about potential attack in south Ahnlikohn.

“And that’s when I decided to come here,” Johan said. “Right now, I know that the prime minister of Iiayikohn is about to deliver his speech to the citizens of Rezar. He’s most likely going to use that speech as a base to get people to accept his desires for war.”

“Let me guess, your informants told about this as well?” Khadir asked.

“There’s a lot of intel I’ve gained over the past couple of weeks,” Johan said. “It’s just that they act much faster than I anticipate them to and they’re not afraid of throwing the occasional curveball to try and throw us off their trail.”

Khadir crossed his arms. “Who, may I ask, is ‘they,’ my friend?”

“Foundation,” Jelka replied. “More precisely, Isaac Kunigunde.”

“That bastard, then,” Khadir replied. “Now it’s starting to make a little more sense. You could’ve just said that man’s name in the first place, you know.”

“Then you realize why it’s paramount that Maeitakohn act fast,” Johan said. “If not, then our chances of stopping Foundation will become much worse.”

“Yes, I do believe that it’s about time that I acted like a leader,” Khadir said. “I’ve been so concerned about passing the torch to the next guy, that I should do some heavy lifting of my own before the time comes.”

“It would be encouraging,” Jelka said.

“Indeed it would,” Khadir replied. “The people here haven’t had faith in the leaders of this country for so long, they’re overdue for someone to fight for them. If that person is me, then I’m more than willing to take a stand.”

He turned to his soldiers and nodded.

“Listen me, men,” Khadir said, “This entire region, if not the entire world, needs all the help it can get. That’s why we’re going to go and help Queen Thedam right away!”

“So you won’t arrest me or anything?” Johan asked.

“I ought to be thanking you, my friend,” Khadir replied.

“Don’t thank me,” Johan said. “You’re the one who’s in control here. All I did was tell you some information.”

“Speaking of which, you said it was in south Ahnlikohn, right?” Khadir asked.

“That is true,” Johan said. “I believe it’s north of Habicht, if my intel is to be believed…”

“Well, I’ll do my work to get some people up there,” Khadir said. “Oh, and I suppose that I should get your name before I leave.”

“It’s Johan,” he replied.

“I’m Jelka,” she said.

Khadir gave Johan and Jelka a thumbs up. “Nice meeting you two, then,” he said. “If I don’t see you two up in Habicht, then I suppose I will see both of you some other time.”

“We’ll see,” Johan said.

With their goodbyes exchanged, Johan and Jelka watched Khadir leave with his soldiers the same way he entered. Now Maeitakohn’s alliance with the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn was complete and ready to counter whatever Isaac and Foundation had planned for them. However, Johan knew that he could not stay for too much longer in Maeitakohn, so he and Jelka had to leave as soon as they possibly could.

 

*****

 

[25th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Castle Training Grounds]

 

Sorin found it difficult to sleep last night. No matter what he tried to do, he could not forget what Harold Mars said to him. Everything that Harold demanded had Sorin telling himself over and over that it was all just a bluff. Harold only served to sow more confusion onto him and his friends, which made Sorin wish he could have said more to Harold before he abruptly ended the call. But even as he tried to take his mind off of last night by practicing in the training grounds with Gavin, Law, and Mina, Sorin knew that there had to be more to Harold’s sudden call.

“What do you think, bro?” Law asked.

“I think that we’re stuck in a difficult situation,” Gavin replied, “However, what I want to know is why the hell Harold Mars decided to call Sorin out of nowhere.”

“He thinks he can get away by taunting us,” Mina said. “All he’s really doing is making us more determined to stop him!”

“You two do make good points,” Law said, rubbing his chin. “Seems like the father’s not too different from the son, it seems.”

“He works with Foundation,” Gavin said. “That alone should tell us what he really thinks of us.”

“Yet he’s willing to set terms with us,” Law replied.

“It’s obvious that he’s setting up some sort of trap for you,” Mina said to Sorin. “You’re not really going to listen to him and go, are you? There’s no way that Harold Mars isn’t setting a trap right now!”

Law snickered. “The only way it’d be more obvious that it would be a trap would be for Harold to put up a lighted sign that says ‘TRAP’ in big, bold letters,” he said. “You want to know what I think? I think that we should try and set off his little trap and see what happens.”

“Come on, Law, I know you’re not that reckless,” Mina said.

“Hear me out,” Law said, “Harold’s most likely getting assistance from the Ameci and Iiayi militaries, which would make it easy to entrap Sorin. However, just because he’s setting up a condition doesn’t mean that we should follow it. No, there’s no point in that.”

“So you’re suggesting that to counter Harold’s supposed trap, we don’t play by his rules,” Gavin said. “Easy enough.”

“And Rain’s likely thinking the same thing,” Law added. “This little game Harold’s playing with us has its flaws and I can already tell what Sorin’s going to get himself into. Speaking of which… Sorin, you’ve been quiet this whole time. Get something you want to add, man?”

Sorin stopped and sighed. “I’m just not sure,” he replied. “It’s obvious that he picked out Habicht because I’m still a wanted man. For all I know, he set the location purely because he could just call the Ahnle military and alert them of my location.”

“So you’re worried about that?” Law asked. “Sheesh, what happened to the part of you that wanted to help your friend Johan out? Are you that afraid of this guy that you don’t even know?”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Sorin said.

“We only know so much about Harold,” Gavin said. “Naturally, it makes a lot of sense that you would be hesitant. I feel the same way, too.”

“Bro, come on,” Law said. “Harold is just another lackey of Isaac’s. We have the advantage, regardless of whether or not Harold knows that.”

“Let me say this,” Gavin said to Sorin, “We can’t just run away when things look tough. We’ve been defending ourselves for the past couple of days, so now it is time for us to bring it back to them.”

“Guess that means you agree,” Law said.

“And we are going to stop them,” Mina added. “Whether or not it’s Isaac Kunigunde or someone else with Foundation, we are going to beat them and save the Thekohnian Region!”

“What is our plan, then?” Sorin asked.

“For starters, we should have an idea about how strong the Ameci military is right now,” Gavin said. “It’s been some time, but if there’s one thing we can go off of, it’s that they’re still as strong as ever as long as General Fercewend is in charge.”

“Oh, and that should go for Iiayikohn, too!” Mina exclaimed. “Ayanna and General Reiss oughta know all about their military, too!”

“We couldn’t ask for better allies,” Law said, “Or friends. Well, in my case, it’s a bit more than that with Ayanna…”

“Yeah, yeah, we know,” Gavin replied. “That’s not important. What is really important is that we should begin planning ahead.”

“I’ll let Ayanna know, then,” Law said. “Mina, maybe you should come with me so we can get Rain on this idea.”

“Are you kidding?” Mina asked. “I’d love to help!”

“Just what I wanted to hear,” Law replied. “You’ve got both a strong desire to be the best and a strong mind.”

“Thanks,” Mina said.

“Of course, it should make sense since you’ve got a strong body as well,” Law said. “I bet Rain is happy to lie next to you each night.”

“And there you go again,” Gavin said as he reached out for Law but failed. “Stay the damn course already, Lawrence!”

“Sometimes I have to speak what’s on my mind,” Law said. “I just can’t help it, bro.”

“I’ll be sure to let Rain know what you said,” Mina said.

“Ah, no, don’t do that,” Law said.

Mina, however, decided to head off towards the queen’s office. Law could only follow after her while Gavin just shook his head and turned to Sorin. There was little Sorin could say to Gavin to distract him, but it appeared as if Gavin was ready to move on.

“Some things just don’t fucking change, do they,” Gavin said. “Anyway, it looks we’ve still got Ameci to deal with, so maybe we should tie up that loose end first.”

“Obviously,” Sorin replied. “What are we going to do now?”

That was when Sorin got an idea. It would be a long shot, but he did know someone that would be able to assist in dealing with the Ameci military. One such person that could provide some insight, and Sorin was sure that this man was still staying in the kingdom somewhere. With Johan on the move, Sorin knew that he could only turn to Henry Randolph in this moment. Sorin nodded in confirmation as he looked back to Gavin.

“Seems like you’ve got an idea,” Gavin said. “Well, go on and tell me about it already.”

“Sure,” Sorin replied.

Sorin explained to Gavin his idea and how they could get Henry to help. As Sorin finished explaining, Gavin appeared to be deep in thought as he placed a finger on the bar of his sunglasses.

“Certainly he would be a help,” Gavin said. “The question is ‘does he want to help us take on Ameci,’ though.”

“We’ve got to try, at least,” Sorin replied.

“I agree,” Gavin said.

“So then you’ll help me?” Sorin asked.

“You said it yourself,” Gavin said. “There’s no hurt in trying, so we may as well see what Henry thinks about helping us.”

“That’s great,” Sorin said. “Let’s head off.”

“Got a place in mind?” Gavin asked. “There’s quite a few places where he could be around here. Finding him won’t be easy.”

“I’m sure we’ll find him,” Sorin replied.

Sorin was sure Henry would help, but he just needed to convince him in the first place. The last time Sorin met with Henry, he looked ready to put his days in the Ameci military behind him. At the least, though, Sorin knew he could stand to gain a little insight as to what Ameci was planning, or at least an idea as to what Isaac and Foundation had planned next.

 

To be continued…

 

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