[1st of January, 2741 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Indoor Lounge, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
Escaping Ahnle Mountain was easy. Escaping the reality of what took place stood difficult, however. Sorin knew that. He could only imagine what Johan had to have been feeling while he was by himself, and if he would even come back this night. It proved to be a long day with little to show for it, but at least Sorin was able to get one thing out of it. One piece of proof that would provide a vital step forward in the fight against Foundation.
“That’s right,” Sorin said. “I almost forgot.”
“What is it?” Gale asked.
Sorin reached into his pocket and took out the two documents that he got from Harring’s study. He unfolded both and went through them one more time as he made sure to read over both papers in a thorough manner.
“You received those from the mansion, didn’t you?” Pekka asked.
“Of course,” Sorin replied. “It seems like Foundation made sure to assist the chancellor the best way that they could. That mansion was paid for by Isaac in exchange for Harring’s cooperation.”
“Yet he killed him in the end,” Luna said. “At least that’s what Bradley said to us.”
“How can you be so sure that what he said was the truth?” Eva asked. “For all we know, he lied in order to shift the blame away from him. Not that it matters any longer, but still…”
“Either way, Isaac is responsible,” Gale said. “Whether he killed Harring by his own hand or he had someone else do it, Isaac is culpable.”
“That’s completely true,” Mina said. “He’s the one who’s responsible for all that’s happened, even what happened today! All of it happened because of Isaac Kunigunde and we have to make sure he faces justice!”
“With Bradley out of the way, that may be true,” Sorin said. “However, we still have to deal with the entirety of the Ameci government against us, as well as Iiayikohn’s.”
“Yes, and the fact that Gavin, Law, and Henry are headed that way,” Eva said. “I’m not sure what they’re hoping to find, but I would hope that they keep their heads up.”
“I think Gavin would be able to keep things in check,” Sorin replied. “He’s been nothing but reliable and Law’s no slouch, either. And Henry, too, is going to be a great help.”
“I don’t doubt any of what you said,” Eva said, “But we’re getting closer. It’s only a matter of time that Isaac and Foundation will strengthen their side.”
“Well, we just gotta keep on moving ahead, right?” Dustin asked.
“That’s the only thing we can do now,” Sorin answered. “But we’re still just waiting for Johan, whenever he comes.”
“We may be waiting for a while, then,” Eva said. “He may not have shown it to us, but it’s obvious that Joahn is hurting.”
“We’ll see,” Sorin said.
But he could not deny what Eva said. It was possible that even Johan had a limit and Jelka’s death was that. Johan had to keep the bravest face of everyone in the group, but there was little that Sorin could do to say otherwise. That was until the doors to the lounge opened, which everyone turned to look and see that Amos Ahnle entered the lounge with Johan beside him.
“It looks as if what you said was correct, Mr. Kuu,” Amos said. “Thank you for your help.”
“Not a problem,” Johan replied. “Our talk proved to be very useful, and for that I should be the one to thank you, Your Highness.”
Sorin stood up. “Johan, what’s going on?”
“Just let the prince here explain everything,” Johan replied. “You’ll find him to be very helpful to our cause.”
“Today has been filled with many revelations,” Amos said. “When that man stood there and dared to threaten the royal family, it was then that I realized that there was no use holding back any longer.”
“You’ve got something that you want to say, then,” Eva said.
“Indeed, that’s why I came here,” Amos replied. “Actually, it was because of Mr. Kuu here that I made this decision. He truly has been a real help.”
“Guess I should add in a bit myself,” Johan said. “While you were busy with Bradley, I went over to the castle and met with the Ahnle family. Fortunately, they had just finished taking care of the remaining Blood Ravens.”
“Don’t doubt our royal military, not even for a second,” Amos said. “It was only due to the efforts of the soldiers that we managed to keep the damage at a minimum.”
“So the Blood Ravens must have been placed under arrest, then,” Gale said. “After what Bradley admitted regarding the chancellor, I’m certain that Queen Amelia must have been thinking it over for quite a while.”
“We were at a loss, I’ll admit,” Amos said. “I had no idea what to think, if we’re being honest. All this time I thought Sorin Wilk was the assassin, but after the incident, I can’t say that he was the one responsible any longer and neither can my mother.”
“Which is why that accusation no longer holds up,” Johan said. “Safe to say that you’re in the clear, buddy.”
“That’s pretty nice of you guys!” Dustin exclaimed. “Hell, that’s a hell of an accomplishment if I’ve ever heard one!”
“Let’s try not to get carried away,” Eva said. “We’ve got a ways to go before we can claim victory.”
“Then let me give you a reason to celebrate,” Amos said. “Of course, we will have to answer and atone for our compliance towards Foundation, but for now, it would be best for us to ally with Queen Thedam. Mother is speaking with her at this moment, in fact.”
“Really?” Mina asked. “That’s great!”
“You’re very willing to accept that as fact,” Eva said, turning her sights over to Amos. “But I’m just as willing to give you a chance.”
“Well, there is also another thing that Mr. Kuu asked of us,” Amos said. “But we can discuss that later.”
“It will be worth it, that much I’m sure of,” Johan said. His words began to trail off as he looked aside. “I know she would have, at least…”
“So what happens next?” Luna asked. “If we’re getting the Ahnle family on our side, that means that Foundation won’t have an advantage anymore! What’s going to be the next step?”
“We’re on to Iiayikohn, obviously,” Pekka said. “This is the break that we needed. It would be wise not to waste an opportunity like this.”
“One by one, each member of Foundation will fall,” Johan said. “Bradley’s demise means they lack an enforcer with enough notoriety. It’s a blow that none of them can afford, not even Isaac.”
“And our next move?” Pekka asked. “Korbin is still out there and is possibly even more dangerous now that he’s on his own.”
“He’ll move up the ranks,” Johan replied. “It’s not because he’ll have earned it, but because Isaac needs to have someone doing his dirty work.”
“And all this is happening while Rohan just sits by,” Gale said.
“We’ll worry about him once we get to him,” Sorin said. “What we should be doing is informing Rain, Ayanna, and Reiss about what happened.”
“You do that, then,” Johan said. “In fact, tell them that we’re moving on to Iiayikohn and to bring some help. If we’re going to take down Dezine, then we’ll need as much help as we can get.”
“Got it,” Sorin replied.
“Looks like this was a productive chat after all,” Amos said. “As for you, Mr. Kuu, I did want to tell you one more thing, but don’t you think it would be best if they heard about this as well?”
“I’ll tell them soon enough,” Johan replied.
“What do you have now?” Eva asked. “If it’s important, then there’s no reason to keep it a secret from us.”
“I’m not keeping it a secret,” Johan said. “Rather, I think it would be better if you saw it for yourself once it’s finished. Or rather, once we’re finished taking care of our mission.”
Without waiting to hear a response from Eva, Johan turned towards the door and left the lounge. Sorin felt that whatever Johan was talking about, it had to do with Jelka. At least that was what he thought when he heard Johan talking to the crown prince. But for now, Sorin had to reach out towards the Kingdom of Thekohn and let Rain know about what had taken place. He also needed to speak with both Ayanna and Reiss about moving forward onto Iiayikohn. Whatever was in store for him and the others, Sorin had to be ready.
[1st of January, 2741 AD; Drake Rask’s House, Rezar, Iiayikohn]
“Long time, no see!” Drake exclaimed.
After a few hours, Gavin made it to Rezar with Law and Henry. Their first stop brought them to Drake’s house, a familiar place where Gavin could call his home. However, with Casper Bradley on the run, Gavin could not afford to relax. He was sure that something was being planned and he wanted to make sure that there was no room for error. Still, it did not hurt to make a brief stop to see both Drake and Wilma, as well as Dia. Everyone gathered in the living room as Drake set down a tray of coffee.
“Thanks for that,” Gavin said, grabbing a cup as he poured himself some coffee. “Then again, this was kind of our home for a while, wasn’t it?”
“You know it, bro,” Law said. “Although I don’t know why you’d need to drink coffee at a time like this…”
“Is there something wrong with wanting coffee in the evening?” Gavin asked. “Well, is there?”
Law chuckled. “Of course there isn’t,” he replied. “Forget I even asked. I should’ve known how much you care about your coffee.”
“Iiayikohnian coffee isn’t something that you can get just anywhere, you know that,” Gavin said. “At least, not the kind that Drake brews.”
“The coffee really is flavorful, isn’t it?” Wilma asked. “I ask him all the time, but Drake never gives me a straight answer.”
“Perhaps he got it imported?” Henry asked. “The islands down south tend to be known for their wares.”
“It’s not an import,” Drake replied.
“Don’t bother asking,” Dia said. “Drake just brews the coffee and that’s it. If you really want an answer, you’ll have to ask the delivery person.”
“You just want to ruin the fun, don’t ya?” Drake asked. “Well, that doesn’t matter to me. How’s everyone doing? How’s Mina?”
“They’re fine,” Gavin replied. “There’s a lot more pressing matters to worry about, so we’re all working towards the same thing.”
“You just like to keep it right to the point, don’t you, Gavin,” Drake said. “I guess that’s a fine enough answer.”
“We can only stay for so long,” Gavin said. “I have to thank you once again for housing us, Drake.”
“At this point, you’re like family,” Drake replied. “No matter what, I’ve got enough room for both you and Law.”
“I always did wonder why someone like you had such a big house like this,” Henry said. “Before, it was just you and Mina, correct?”
“That it was,” Drake said. “It’s been that way ever since the day she came into my life.”
“And you’ve never even thought about kids of your own until that point?” Henry asked. “Sorry if I’m being intrusive with my questions.”
“No need to apologize, Henry,” Drake said. “It’s just something that’s never crossed my mind. I’m just a guy who likes to sit back and relax after a nice day of work, but Mina went and gave me a bit of new perspective on life.”
“She does that effect on people,” Law said. “It does make me wonder about the others, though… Do you think we’d be able to reach them right now?”
“There’s a few likely places where they’d be right now,” Gavin said. “But they know that we’ll be here, so we should expect to hear from them soon.”
“That’s a good point,” Henry said. “It is a little past sundown, so I imagine that whatever happened with them, they’ll be calling us soon.”
“Well, if you’re busy, I can take a note for you,” Drake said.
“I don’t think that we’ll need that,” Gavin replied. “If they’re on the move, then they’ll most likely stop here. It’s that easy.”
“Then why did you think they would call?” Dia asked.
“It’s either one,” Gavin said. “That’s the two outcomes in this situation, but we’ll be fine with either one.”
“If that’s the case, there is one thing I’m wondering about,” Dia said.
“And what would that be, if you mind me asking?” Law asked.
“It has to do with Johan, doesn’t it,” Henry said. “Well, I assume that he’s on his way here as well.”
A couple of loud knocks on the front door then broke the conversation. It made Gavin look over to the door as he wondered who it was that knocked. He got up from his seat and headed towards the door, though he did not expect any of the other group to arrive so soon. Gavin reached out to the doorknob, but as he did, he took a look out the window. Outside stood a group of Iiayikohnian soldiers with their weapons ready. Gavin gritted his teeth as he looked back over to the group in the living room. This had to be the work of Prime Minister Dezine and Foundation, Gavin thought.
“We have a problem,” Gavin said.
“What’s wrong?” Drake asked.
“It looks like we’ve got company,” Gavin said. “Damn it, looks like they’ve got an entire squad at our door.”
“Open this door at once,” the lead soldier said. “Drake Rask, you and your cohorts are under arrest!”
“They got something on me I don’t know about?” Drake asked. “What the hell do these people think they’re doing? Is this some sort of joke?”
Henry stood up and hurried over to the door. “I’ll see for myself,” he said, taking a look outside. “Judging by the looks of things, it’s serious.”
“Why would they come here?” Wilma asked.
“I can think of a few reasons why,” Law said. “Bro, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Yes, it’s all too obvious,” Gavin replied. “Shit, I guess we don’t have too much of a choice here, do we…”
Gavin braced himself. Whatever happened next, Gavin had to be on top of it before things got out of hand. That’s what he told himself, at least. He could not admit to the others that he was as worried about the outcome as they were. There was only one reason as to why the Iiayikohnian military was here, and Gavin was going to find out.
To be continued…