Aurora – Chapter 33 (Part 1)

[31st of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Main Hall]

 

Eva was a step too late as Sorin and the others had already left. She knew they were leaving in the morning, but Eva had slept in for a few minutes too late until she realized what was happening. Disappointed, she went downstairs to see Mina and Rain speaking with Sosimo. Eva could recognize that distinct grin from anywhere as she hurried over to the three.

“And look who’s here,” Sosimo said.

“You’ve got some nerve showing up here,” Eva said. “The last I saw of you, it was when the Swords of Eight disbanded.”

Sosimo laughed. “My bad,” he replied. “It’s been quite too long of a time, now hasn’t it?”

“It’s been too long, yes,” Eva said.

“Sorry about that,” Sosimo said. “Really, I mean that. I heard about Alan and Kirk’s passing, but I’d been so wrapped up in my work that I couldn’t just drop it.”

“The only thing that matters now is that you’re here,” Rain said. “Eva, I can understand your frustrations, but it’s good that we’ve received more help.”

“I’m not frustrated,” Eva replied. “I just want an explanation.”

“And you’ll get one, of course,” Sosimo said. “It’s my fault for not contacting any of you sooner and for that, I apologize. Had I had the foresight, I’d have taken my break a long time ago.”

“Just what do you do anyway, Mr. Hudde?” Mina wondered.

“Glad you asked, Miss Mina,” Sosimo replied. “See, I’ve been using the last few years in my ‘retirement’ to figure out what it was that I could do. You know, all that wandering the world and whatnot.”

“Gale did briefly mention that,” Rain said. “You were struggling for a few years before you found success as an inventor.”

“No, no, no, it’s not like that,” Sosimo said. “You make it sound like I’ve got this big brain when really I’m the guy that helps make people’s dreams happen. I don’t even bother asking for much money, but people in Kikuisha really liked the advancements my pals made to their homes.”

“So what exactly did you do?” Eva asked.

“Simple quality of life things, you know,” Sosimo answered. “Eva, if you’d been there, you would see one of the greatest wonders of the world: Mikahana Casino and Recreational Resort!”

“You’re in luck,” Eva said. “I’ve been there myself.”

“I totally understand,” Sosimo replied. “So then you saw for yourself those wonders that brought so many people joy.”

“Certainly the empress’ daughter felt that way,” Eva said.

“But that’s not all you’ve done, is it?” Rain asked.

“Guess you got me, Your Majesty,” Sosimo said. “It was only when Gale was able to reach out to me that I realized where we could go next in this world. The moment I heard her idea, I knew I had to help make Gale’s dream a reality.”

“So you came all this way,” Eva said. “I knew you had something to do, but I didn’t expect you’d actually show yourself.”

“Well, when it comes to making the world a better place, I couldn’t say no,” Sosimo replied. “If it all goes as Gale expects, then we’ll be entering a new era of prosperity like the ones written in all those old books.”

“That’s why you’re helping, then,” Eva said.

Sosimo sighed. “It was devastating to hear what happened to my brothers, but I know that Kirk’s boy is out there doing what’s right,” he said. “He certainly did choose a good bunch of people to travel with, that’s for sure. If it weren’t for my body’s age, I’d be happy to pick up a sword and fight along with them, but all I really can do is show my support like a fan at a baseball game.”

“It’s no game,” Eva said, “And I’m not going to sit this one out. As long as I am able to do so, then I will keep fighting.”

“You’re sure about this?” Rain asked.

“It is a tough battle, no doubt about that,” Sosimo said. “But Eva says she’s made her decision, so who am I to stop her?”

“And you shouldn’t just sit around doing nothing, either,” Eva replied. “This is just as much about you as it is anybody else.”

“That’s right!” Mina said. “We’re doing this for every person who lacks the power to defend themselves, those who have been hurt by injustice and villainy, and everybody else, not because we’re supposed to do it, but because we know that that’s just the right thing to do!”

“Sorin and the others may have gone on ahead already, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay at home waiting to hear back from them,” Eva said. “Mina’s right: we are helping people who have had to deal with the pain of losing a loved one, those who have been devastated by tragedy, because that’s what the Swords of Eight have always fought for.”

“Indeed, that’s something we did in the past,” Sosimo said.

“When I found out that Kirk had died, I felt like there was no way out,” Eva said. “But there was always that one bit of hope out there, even when I felt like it was the end. Even so, I felt despondent.”

Eva looked down at the floor and took a deep breath. It had repeated in her mind over and over how she would keep fighting for Kirk, but now she felt as if she had made it official. With an exhale, Eva looked up at everyone again.

“I won’t forget him,” Eva said. “Not that I even wanted to, but this pain is still here because of what happened. No matter what, there’s no changing what has already taken place, but I can be a part to help establish a better future, and I know that Kirk would have agreed.”

“Yeah, he would,” Sosimo said. “Of course, I never said I wouldn’t help you out. I’m ready to do what I can to make sure everything goes well.”

“That’s greatly appreciated,” Rain said.

“Now I can’t help you directly, Your Majesty, but I can offer a bit of info that will be useful to you,” Sosimo said. “When I was in Ahnlikohn, I overheard from a couple of people that there was to be an announcement from the prince. Can’t say what he’s going to talk about, but it must be quite important for the young man to open his mouth, don’t you think?”

“That does interest me,” Rain replied. “Perhaps it would be wise to find out what he’s going to talk about.”

“Lucky for you, I mentioned it to Gale and Sorin before they left,” Sosimo said. “I even suggested that they call you before they headed over to meet with the Ahnle family.”

“They’re heading to try and meet with the royal family?” Mina asked. “But isn’t that dangerous?”

“For Sorin, yes,” Rain answered. “However, this may be the work of Johan we’re talking about.”

“So they’re heading with Johan,” Eva said. “If we move, then we’ll be able to catch up with them.”

Mina looked to Eva. “When you say ‘we,’ are you referring to me and Rain as well?”

“Who else would I be talking about?” Eva asked. “Of course I mean the two of you. It would be better to go in a group than for us to go alone.”

“But Rain can’t really go with you because she’s got a lot to do right here!” Mina replied. “And… I don’t really think I can leave, either…”

“Mina, it’s fine,” Rain said. “You want to get out there and help our friends. I understand that and am absolutely fine with it. I don’t want you to think you can’t do anything because of me.”

“If that’s the case, then I guess it really can’t be helped,” Eva said. “I know that with you, Mina, I can trust that you’ll be able to fight with every bit of your being.”

“If you say so,” Mina said. She closed her eyes and nodded her head, then shot her eyes open and pumped her fists. “Okay! Now I’m ready to go! As long as it’s okay with you, then we can go any time!”

“Then it’s all set,” Rain said.

“I’m always happy when we’re able to make a little progress,” Sosimo said. “As for me, there are a couple of things I’d like to talk to you about if that’s okay with you, Your Majesty.”

“I’ve got some time,” Rain replied. “Of course, I did want to talk to Ayanna and Reiss before contacting the Kikuishan officials. You don’t mind walking with me along the way, do you, Mr. Hudde?”

Sosimo clapped his hands together. “I’m just glad you got the time,” he said. “Last time someone said they had the time, their time was not all that much. But I know you want to explore any and all peaceful options here, so I don’t mind it at all one bit.”

“Glad to see you understand,” Rain said. She then turned to Mina. “If you happen to need any help, Mina, please let me know.”

“Of course!” Mina replied.

“It would be helpful, but I think we still have the advantage regardless,” Eva said. “That said, we shouldn’t waste any more time. Let’s go.”

“You’re ready?” Mina asked. “I mean, yeah, you’re ready! I’m ready to go as well, so we’ll see you really soon once we’re done, Rain!”

“It’s okay,” Rain said. “I know what you want, so come here.”

Eva watched as Mina wasted no time and embraced Rain, with the queen reciprocating the favor as the two spent a few moments close to one another. As it came to an end, Mina looked at Rain and smiled before turning back to Eva and leaving out of the front door. With that out of the way, Eva and Mina were ready to catch up to Sorin’s group before it got too late.

 

*****

 

[31st of December, 2740 AD; on the road to Iiayikohn, entering Ahnlikohn on the way to Helm]

 

It had been nearly an hour as the car several distances behind Gavin, Law, and Henry continued to remain in sight. Gavin had originally paid it no mind, but was now concerned as he began to wonder what to do next.

“What say to you that we pull over to the side and see what the hell we’re dealing with here,” Gavin said to Henry. “It’s already been long enough for us to try and see if they’d just go away, but they’re following us for sure now.”

“I know that,” Henry said. “Something tells me they’re from Foundation but we have no way of knowing if that’s true or not.”

“I’d say it’s a pretty good hunch,” Law said. “How about turning on the road towards Helm over there and see if they’ll follow?”

“We have been on the straight road for a while now,” Gavin replied.

“I suppose we’ve got no other choice,” Henry said. “Okay, I’ll make a quick turn and if they’re still following us, we’ll do something about it.”

At the next split in the road, Henry turned the car to the right. As expected, the car behind them did the same and continued to keep a considerable distance away from the three.

“Looks like there’s a good chance that that hunch may be right,” Gavin said. “So what’s this ‘something’ that you want to do now, Henry?”

“One second,” Henry said as he eyed over to the right side of the road. “I’m going to make a stop here; I think we ought to find out for ourselves whether or not we’re dealing with the enemy here.”

Gavin watched as Henry took the car over to the side of the road, letting the car slow down in the process. Henry got the car to a complete stop and turned it off while the other car pulled over a few meters behind them and stopped. Once the three men got out of the car, Gavin eyed over in the distance a large building that appeared to be abandoned. However, that lost his interest as he looked back over to the other car as the doors opened. Gavin looked on in shock and watched as the people who stepped out of the car turned out to be current Ameci president Casper Bradley and two of his guards.

“President Bradley?” Henry asked. “What… What the hell are you doing out here?”

“I could ask you the exact same thing, Mr. Randolph,” Casper said. “Did you honestly think we wouldn’t have noticed the stunt you were trying to pull? It’s all because I’ve got good connections thanks to some valuable allies.”

“We know,” Law said. “Do you think you can skip past the gloating and get to why you’re here already?”

Casper scoffed. “Fine, I may as well,” he replied. “I’ve decided to follow you on my volition, but of course I’m not stupid. I made sure to bring along a little extra help in case I had to get my hands dirty.”

“I’m going to guess that Isaac tipped you off somehow,” Henry said. “And to do that, he had to have some sort of inside information.”

“You’re right that it was Isaac who told me about what you were going to do, but you truly underestimate the man’s genius,” Casper said. “Of course, the fact is that once all the impossible options were eliminated, the only option that remained was the one where you defected to help Rain Zano Thedam.”

“What’s it to you?” Gavin asked. “All Isaac Kunigunde is is a criminal in a suit and tie. If working for a government where Isaac thrives is impossible, then of course Henry Randolph would choose the other option!”

“You’re speaking like Her Majesty is the one who committed a sin,” Henry said to Casper. “I don’t need to see much to realize that anything Isaac says can’t be trusted.”

“So you’d rather throw your second chance away,” Casper replied. “All that Ameci has done to help you and this is how you repay us?”

“I’ve done my part,” Henry said. “You and Isaac, however, are not men who are worthy of honor. Anyone who would seek chaos in hopes of benefiting from said chaos deserves no respect.”

“Isaac’s a businessman,” Casper said. “Is it so wrong to desire more? Is it wrong to want power and wealth? You have dreams in politics, do you not?”

“That I do,” Henry answered, “But if you think for a second that I believe in working over the less fortunate in order to advance my own career, then you’re one hundred percent wrong, President Bradley.”

“That’s your response, then?” Casper asked.

“Do you honestly think that Henry would sell his soul?” Law asked. “Nah, it doesn’t get any easier to spot evil staring you right in the eyes.”

Casper chuckled as he reached to his waist. “I guess there’s no use holding back,” he said, looking back to his guards. “You two know what to do, don’t you? Take them out, right now.”

“Move, damn it!” Gavin exclaimed.

Gavin alerted both Henry and Law, leading the two men away from Casper and his cronies. Henry then made a subtle nod to Gavin as the three scattered out and headed for the abandoned building. But Casper did not give up the chase as he and the two guards made their way after them. It would prove to be a tough task, but Gavin knew that he, Law, and Henry had to deal with one of the main members of Foundation sooner or later.

 

To be continued…

 

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