Aurora – Chapter 27 (Part 1)

[25th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Queen’s Office]

 

“And that’s the news, Your Majesty,” Dustin said. “Looks like Dezine’s really trying to start a nasty war with us, huh?”

“Thank you,” Rain replied. “I’ll make sure to discuss this with both Ansa and Reiss later.”

“Don’t mention it,” Dustin said.

Rain watched as Dustin left the room. Rain’s morning had been busy as she spoke with Mina and Law about what to do regarding Iiayikohn. Dustin entered in at the right time as he had news to share of Dezine’s speech, so Rain decided to listen to what Dustin had to say once she finished discussing plans with Mina and Law. After that, Rain took the time to listen to Dustin’s recount of Dezine’s speech. She was already aware of Dezine’s power hungry tendencies thanks to Ayanna’s and Law’s accounts, yet still Rain was amazed at how far Dezine was willing to go in order to win. Law, meanwhile, shrugged as he took a seat in the chair near him while Mina went over to Rain’s side.

“Dezine’s not even half a year into his term and he’s already acting like he’s been there forever,” Law said. “Guess he’s trying to make the most of it in his old age, though we all know that he’s yet another useful tool for Isaac to use. So long as Dezine is willing to get on his knees, Isaac is happy to help.”

“Yet he’s only a small part of the picture,” Rain said. “Still, his speech will make it much more difficult to establish long term peace in the region. We have to stop him, there’s no other way.”

“I agree with you there,” Law replied. “That’s why we came here, after all. Isn’t that right, Mina?”

“Yeah, we’re going to make sure that Dezine will pay for his crimes,” Mina said. “We’ve got Ayanna on our side; she’ll know exactly what we can do about him and the rest of Foundation!”

“I know,” Rain said, “But it won’t do us any good to go in recklessly. If we’re to deal with Dezine, we must find a sound strategy in order for him to step down from his position.”

Law leaned in his chair with his arms behind his head. “If it’s getting old Dezine to step down, that’ll be a tough task,” he said. “I imagine that he’s got way too much pride to even think about giving in.”

“There’s gotta be something, Law!” Mina said.

“Of course there is,” Law replied. “If there’s one thing that I’ve gathered about our silver-haired adversary, it’s that he operates with his cards completely close to his chest. He trusts very few people, with Isaac Kunigunde being one of those select few.”

“So the best way to get Dezine to step down is to have him believe that Isaac no longer trusts him,” Rain said. “That would be difficult, but I doubt that it is impossible. The only I question I have is how will we go about pulling off this task in a way that neither Dezine nor Isaac will suspect.”

“Well, you’re talking to a former spy right here,” Law said.

“But you haven’t done any spying in a while, have you?” Mina asked. “You must be really rusty!”

“Sure, I may not have done my job in a quick minute, but I’m still pretty confident in my abilities,” Law said. “As long as there aren’t any attacks from Ameci, I think that it’s safe to say that we have a shot.”

“I’d be glad to talk about it,” Rain replied.

“Of course, of course,” Law said. “It’s rather easy if we think about it: the key starts with Ahnlikohn.”

“You’re suggesting that we earn back Amelia’s trust, am I correct?” Rain asked. “Because while it’s not impossible, it will be hard to pull off, especially with the situation as it is now.”

“True, it’s pretty much like we’re trying to push a boulder up a mountain,” Law said. “One wrong move and that boulder runs us over and rolls all the way back down the hill.”

“I don’t blame her,” Rain said. “Even if we were prepared for an attack, we still failed to stop Korbin and his ilk from carrying out an attack. We’re lucky that it was only a small scale attack, but it did enough to damage our overall relations with Ahnlikohn.”

“None of it’s your fault,” Mina said. “They just played dirty like the bunch of villains they are!”

“While it’s true that we weren’t careful enough, I’d say that we managed to expose a flaw in Isaac’s plan,” Law said, “Or rather, Korbin exposed the flaw for us to exploit.”

“And what would that be?” Gavin asked. “You’ve got another scheme going on in your head there, Lawrence?”

Law turned his head to the entrance as Rain and Mina followed. Standing in the doorway were Gavin, Sorin, and Henry. Henry walked into the queen’s office and greeted Rain, shaking her hand as he bowed his head before her. Sorin and Gavin entered, too, as they watched the exchange take place. Rain was happy to meet with Henry, though she had barely met with him before now. Seeing as he came in with Sorin and Gavin, Rain had to figure there was something that Henry would like to say to her.

“It’s nice meeting with you, Mr. Randolph,” Rain said. “What happens to be the occasion for today?”

Henry nodded. “You have to thank these two here,” he said as he motioned to Sorin and Gavin. “They told me quite a bit about what’s happening, which is why I’ve decided that I want to help.”

“I’m interested in hearing how you wish to help,” Rain said.

“Your Majesty, I didn’t come in without some sort of idea,” Henry replied. “I may just be one man, but I’m still quite knowledged about the inner workings of the Ameci military.”

“And that’s why you guys brought him here,” Law said to Sorin and Gavin. “I guess that was what you two were doing while Mina and I were having a talk with Rain here. Gotta give you credit.”

“It wasn’t that arduous,” Gavin replied, “And I know that Henry’s got his reasons for wanting to help us.”

“It’s funny, isn’t it?” Henry asked. “You and I used to be on different sides, yet now we’re united together against the one enemy that we should have been fighting a long time ago.”

“That’s the past,” Gavin said. “Things have changed now and I’m not going back to the way things used to be.”

“I’m glad to see that that makes two of us, Gavin,” Henry said. “We’ve got a long road ahead of us if we’re going to take down Isaac Kunigunde and his little group, which is why I’m willing to tell Her Majesty as much as I know about the Ameci military.”

Law sat up in his chair. “Looks like you came ready to play,” he said. “It’s interesting to hear that you’re so ready to tell us what you know, though I wonder what that will mean for your relationship with General Fercewend. Do you think it’s too late to try and see if he’d be willing to tell Isaac to back off?”

“Unfortunately, Rohan has no desire to do so,” Henry replied.

“It must be tough for you right now,” Rain said. “I heard that you two had fought alongside one another during the war, and now you two are on opposite sides.”

“It’s got to be Isaac Kunigunde’s fault!” Mina said, clenching her fist. “Don’t worry, Henry, I’m sure we’ll find a way to help save Fercewend!”

“You’re very optimistic,” Henry said, “But the funny thing is that I continue to believe in Rohan, even though it doesn’t seem like he’s shown any sign of going against Isaac and President Bradley any time soon.”

“We know that Isaac’s influence has increased a lot,” Gavin said. “It’s not a long shot to think that once we take care of him, we’ll see those people who relied on him start to abandon him.”

“If we’re going to do that, then we’ll have to start small,” Henry said. “It’d be dumb to try and aim headfirst at Isaac.”

“What do you suggest?” Sorin asked.

“Let me think for a moment,” Henry replied. “Of all the years I’ve known Rohan, there’s one thing he values most: honor. However, that may not be the case as I’ve already seen him bend to the will of both Isaac and Bradley.”

“Well, that didn’t help,” Law said.

Henry scratched his ear. “As long as Hasker is out of commision, Bradley is the president,” he said, “And that is Isaac’s key into the Ameci government, which he can use as a key to the military… I’ve got it!”

“You do?” Mina asked.

“It’s pretty simple now that I think about it,” Henry said. “In Ameci, the line of succession falls in this order: president, vice president, and leading general of the military. I believe that it’s the same for Maeitakohn as well. Anyway, as long as Isaac has a direct connection to the government via Bradley, he has leverage over Rohan.”

“You’re suggesting that we try to remove Bradley out of power?” Rain asked. “That would be pretty impossible for us to do.”

“If we’re thinking about using force, then yes,” Henry said. “However, were it to be known of a rift between Isaac Kunigunde and Casper Bradley, then there’s a chance that Isaac will no longer need the use of him.”

“So it’s like what Law was saying about Dezine earlier,” Mina said.

“Turning these men against each other is not an easy task,” Henry said, “Yet if there exists the slightest bit of weakness between them, then it’s all the more reason to pursue it.”

“You really are starting to speak to my interests here, aren’t you,” Law said. “Then again, that one guy down in the cellar might be an important key.”

“I don’t know if Erik would be willing to tell us much now,” Sorin replied. “It seems pretty useless to ask him anything at this point.”

“Well, perhaps I should try with him,” Henry said. “I don’t know whether or not he’d talk with me, but it wouldn’t hurt asking.”

“Of course,” Rain said. “Just let Sir Gamal know that you want to visit the holding cell and he’ll lead you there.”

Henry smiled. “I’ll go and let him know,” he said. “By the way, this isn’t the end of our talk, Your Majesty. I will be back.”

“Then I’ll be waiting here,” Rain replied.

“I suppose I can go with you,” Law said as he stood up. He waltzed over to Henry and shook his hand. “Damn, your handshake is almost as strong as my bro here!”

“Yeah, right,” Gavin said. He looked at Henry and raised an eyebrow. “It’s been a couple months since you retired from the military. I bet I could take you on in a one-on-one fight!”

“I truly have no idea where this is coming from,” Henry replied.

“We may be on the same side, but that doesn’t mean that you should think you’re better than me,” Gavin said. “As far as it goes, I’m sure that I’d be able to come up victorious should you ever decide to take me on.”

“I’ll be sure to remember that, Gavin,” Henry said. “Sorin, are you coming with me, too?”

“Sure,” Sorin replied.

“Gavin, what’s the deal?” Mina asked. “Are you just jealous of Henry?”

“No, don’t be absurd,” Gavin answered. “It’s just that I want him to know the score. That way, we’ll be able to work together more effectively!”

“Well, it sure sounds like you’re jealous,” Mina said.

“Mina, I’m going to go now,” Gavin replied. “Let’s go, Henry Randolph! And no snickering!”

Henry tried not to laugh as he followed Gavin. Sorin and Law joined them as well in hopes of obtaining anything new out of Erik down in the basement. In the queen’s office, however, Rain had a call that she had to make. She wondered if there would even be a response, but Rain had to try. She needed to talk with Amelia again. Rain had to have one more try in order to organize unity. There had to be some hope if Rain was ever going to bring peace to the Thekohnian Region.

 

*****

 

Downstairs in the basement, Sorin, Gavin, and Henry followed Gamal, who led them to the holding cell Erik was in. Upon reaching the cell, Sorin watched as Erik stood up and approached the bars. There did not appear to be any hostility in Erik’s eyes, only an expressionless star as Henry walked up to him.

“You’re back again,” Erik said. “What’s this? Am I supposed to be scared now that you brought him over?”

“We know your tricks,” Gavin replied. “If you think you can avoid telling us everything you know, then you’re mistaken. Henry, maybe you ought to tell him exactly what’s going on.”

“Very well,” Henry said.

“No matter how hard you try, I’m not telling you a goddamn thing,” Erik said, “So you can forget about trying to shake me!”

Henry sighed. “Listen to me, Erik,” he said. “Last night, Sorin received a call from a very important person. You may have heard of him.”

Erik turned away from Henry. “I’ve told you I don’t want to talk!”

“Harold Mars,” Henry said. “He’s Korbin’s father. I assume that you’ve met with him, though you can tell me if I’m wrong.”

Erik kept silent. All Sorin could do was continue to hope that Henry had some sort of idea to get Erik to speak.

“You could tell me you know nothing about him and I would accept that,” Henry said. “After all, what do you gain from working with him?”

“It doesn’t seem like he cares about what you’re saying,” Gamal said. “I’m not sure if he’s even listening.”

“He’s listening,” Henry replied. “Erik’s not Harold’s son, nor is he the son of the President of Ameci. However, I know he must have his reasons for wanting to work for such a group of people like Foundation.”

“The only reason that I’ve got is that he’s a shithead with no remorse for his actions,” Gavin said as he grabbed ahold of one of the bars. “We can waste all the breath we want, but he’s not going to start squealing on his buddies. Not when he still thinks he’s got an edge over us.”

“Does he have the edge, though?” Henry asked. “Let me ask you something, Erik: do you believe that Korbin and the Ameci military are coming to rescue you from here?”

“Do you take me for a dumbass fool?” Erik asked.

“I don’t think they care much about you, to be honest,” Henry said. “Maybe I’m wrong here and this is all just a bunch of baseless conjecture, but I never had the impression that Korbin and Crawford held you in high regard. Even the other one with you, Lance, they never said much about him when he died.”

“That’s because Korbin killed him,” Erik said. “He was getting on Korbin’s nerves, so he paid the price.”

“I see,” Henry replied. “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

“Korbin is insane, which is why I’d never think about crossing him,” Erik said. “The only one who can really rein him in is Bradley, and even he has trouble doing that sometimes. Well, that’s not completely true. There is one person who Korbin really fears above all else.”

“You mean his father,” Sorin said.

Erik laughed. “I should’ve expected you to piece things together.”

Sorin felt hesitant to tell Erik about the call, but remembered the demand that Harold made.

“But you’re just a ‘lowly lackey’ of the Blood Ravens,” Sorin said. “You told Gavin and I that you were only following orders, that you had no idea about what Foundation had planned.”

“No… That’s not what I said!” Erik exclaimed. “That’s… That’s just a bunch of fucking lies you made up on the spot! You’re lying!”

“We heard you say it,” Gamal said. “Changing your story only makes your guilt more apparent, and your association more likely.”

Erik growled. “Fuck you! I didn’t do shit!”

“You’re going to start telling us everything that you know,” Henry said. “It will do you good in the long run to cooperate with us.”

“Besides, do you truly think Harold will show you mercy?” Sorin asked. “I honestly doubt it.”

Erik’s eyes shifted right to left and back before he dropped to his knees and punched the floor as hard as he could. “Fine, you got me,” he said. “I’m gonna tell you everything I know about Korbin’s father, as well as everything that I know about Foundation.”

 

To be continued…

 

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