[15th of May, 2741 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Hall]
“Happy birthday, Gavin!” Mina exclaimed.
Gavin chuckled. “You honestly didn’t need to do all this,” he said, shaking his head. “A simple gathering would have sufficed.”
“Oh, Gavvy, come on and be happy,” Kiku said. “We’ve all gathered here to celebrate not just your birthday, but because you became a chef, too!”
“Is it really necessary?” Gavin asked. “It’s not as if all of you will have the time to come and see the restaurant.”
“We’re all just happy for you, bro,” Law said. “After all, you went out and made something of yourself!”
Everyone gathered at the castle to celebrate Gavin’s success in addition to it being his birthday. Sorin and Gale had arrived the day prior in order to meet with everyone and catch up on what they were doing. The next day, everyone planned out a surprise party for Gavin in the main hall of Thedam Castle, even though it looked as if Gavin was fully aware of what was going on. The smile on his face as Dustin and Gamel brought out the celebratory banner made it difficult for Sorin not to laugh out loud.
However, despite the abundance of people in the castle, there were a couple of people that did not make it. Henry was not able to attend, which Sorin understood because he wanted to be with Tori in order to witness the birth of his daughter. The other person that did not come to the castle, however, was Johan. In fact, Sorin still had not heard from Johan ever since he went to see Dia in her home. By the time he and Gale arrived, Dia stated that Johan had already left Ameci the day before. All Sorin could do at that point was to tell Dia to let him know when Johan returned, but as time began to pass, no message of any sort came about.
“Wilkie, are you and Gigi just going to stand there?” Kiku asked.
Sorin snapped out of his thoughts. “Oh, what’s up?”
“We’re heading to the ballroom,” Kiku replied. “Come on and join us! It’s going to be a lot of fun if you do!”
“Let’s do that,” Gale said.
“Go on ahead,” Sorin said. “There’s something that I want to talk to Rain about.”
Kiku rushed up to Gale and grabbed her hand. “Seriously, Wilkie, there’s even going to be a band,” she said. “I think Gab’s going to make her big debut as a singer, too!”
“I don’t want to make you guys wait,” Sorin said.
“Let’s just go, Kiku,” Gale said. “We can save a seat for Sorin.”
“It seems you don’t mind if I take your girlfriend for a bit,” Kiku said. “Okay then, I’ll take care of her until you arrive.”
With that, Kiku whisked Gale away to the ballroom. Everyone else began to head towards there as well, leaving Sorin to seek out Rain. She had to be upstairs, so Sorin decided to go up and look for her. He found her standing on the balcony outside and greeted her, to which she waved back.
“Are you not interested in the party?” Rain asked.
“Of course I am,” Sorin replied. “But I thought that you were going to be there as well.”
“You wanted to talk to me,” Rain said.
“Just curious about everything regarding the summit,” Sorin said. “I heard that the talks are going well with Amos.”
“So far, we’ve set out some ideas,” Rain replied. “After all that’s happened, Amos understands what needs to be done. It hasn’t been completely easy, but our talks have been effective.”
“That’s good to hear,” Sorin said.
“In fact, I’ve even had some cooperation from President Hasker,” Rain said. “It came as quite a surprise to be honest.”
“Do you think it has to do with his relation to Foundation?” Sorin asked.
“He did express regret about what happened,” Rain said. “Hasker knew he was being used, but if he truly does feel sorry, then we shouldn’t have a problem in trying to reach an agreement.”
“I guess we’ll have to see, then,” Sorin said.
“I’d like to have faith in him,” Rain said. “The main problem has been taken care of, so all that’s left is what we can do to make sure something like that never happens again.”
Sorin agreed. “It’ll be a future to look forward to.”
“I truly can’t thank you enough,” Rain replied. “You’ve been an invaluable ally and friend, as has everybody else.”
“Shouldn’t I be the one thanking you?” Sorin asked. “You stood by my side even when the pressure mounted. If not for you and the kingdom, there would’ve been no place for me while Harold Mars conducted his business as usual.”
“What matters is that we came out of that with the chance to change our world for the better,” Rain said. “I already know that Gale’s going to contribute so much to help make people happy.”
“It’s surprising how much can change in a few months,” Sorin said. “I never would’ve guessed we’d be able to use that industry, much less use it for good.”
“I look forward to seeing what Gale will do with it,” Rain said.
“So am I,” Sorin replied.
“Since we’re on this topic, perhaps you can answer my question,” Rain said. “About you and Gale, I mean.”
“What is it?” Sorin asked.
“You and Gale are going on a long trip, right,” Rain said, “So what I want to know is—and this can just be between us—when is the wedding?”
“Oh, I don’t know exactly,” Sorin replied. “Neither of us do, really. We just had a certain goal in mind and based it off of that.”
“So it’ll be when you’re done traveling?” Rain asked.
“That’s basically it,” he said.
“Well, if you need a place to plan, you’ve always got here,” Rain said. “I know it just sounds like I’m just renting out the castle for all sorts of events, but you’re my friend and I want to make you feel welcome whenever you’re here. Just remember that.”
“I will,” Sorin said. “Whenever the time comes, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
Rain smiled. “That’s good.”
“Now I gotta ask you,” Sorin said. “It’s only fair, after all.”
“About Mina and I?” Rain asked. “Well, she and I have already picked out a date for that.”
“But I’ll let you and Gale know in due time,” Rain said. “That’s part of the deal, I’d say.”
“I guess that’s fair,” Sorin replied.
“I’m glad we agree,” Rain said. “Now let’s go and see what everyone’s up to. I don’t want to miss Gavin’s party, do you?”
“Let’s go,” Sorin said.
They went downstairs together and headed directly towards the ballroom. Inside, Sorin and Rainwatched the event unfold as everybody celebrated Gavin’s accomplishment. He sat at the table by the side with Law, Mina, Ayanna, and Gale as Sorin and Rain went over to join the group. At the table next to them sat Kiku and Noa, while Ayame and Igor were busy talking with Dustin and Gamal. Sorin took a seat next to Gale while Mina teased Gavin about his sunglasses.
“It’s not like I’m going to take them for too long,” Mina said. “I just want to know what I look like in them!”
“That’s not happening,” Gavin replied. “I don’t take these sunglasses off for anyone, not even you, Mina.”
“Aw come on,” Mina said.
“He’s pretty strict about his shades,” Law said. “Perhaps you shouldn’t be pressuring him.”
“So you’ve never taken them off?” Ayanna wondered. “Not even when you go to sleep?”
“What an asinine question,” Gavin said. “Of course I do!”
“Maybe you should just entertain Mina on her request,” Rain said. “It’s not as if it’ll be the end of the world if we saw you without your sunglasses.”
“Give me a break,” Gavin said. “I already told you I’m not going to.”
“It does seem a little silly to be so adamant about it,” Gale said. “There’s not that much sunlight in here, anyway.”
Gavin turned his head. “My answer remains the same,” he said. “I’m not taking them off.”
“It’s a shame,” Kiku said. “I bet you’d look really cool even without them.”
“What makes you think that?” Gavin asked.
Just as Gavin asked that question, Mina reached from behind and took off Gavin’s sunglasses. He turned around and found that she had already put them on and crossed her arms.
“Look at me, I’m Gavin!” Mina exclaimed, trying her best to imitate Gavin’s deep voice. “I never take my sunglasses off, not even when I shower!”
“Give them back!” Gavin said, covering his eyes.
Everyone had a small laugh as Mina took off the sunglasses and handed them back over to Gavin. Once he had his sunglasses back on, he breathed a sigh and looked over to Sorin.
“Stop smiling already,” Gavin said. “The ‘joke’ is already over, so why don’t we just move on?”
“I gotta admit it was pretty funny, though,” Law said. “This is your party, bro! Have a little fun!”
“You think I’m not?” Gavin asked.
“Well, sometimes, it’s hard to tell with you,” Gale said.
“Then I guess I’ll just have to show you how I have fun,” Gavin said. “Why don’t we get the band to play a tune, Rain?”
“That’s up to them,” Rain answered. “But I think Luna’s actually going to sing soon.”
“She is?” Law asked. “I guess Luna’s worked up the courage to take on the stage, after all.”
“It’ll be her first time in front of this many people,” Kiku said. “I talked with her just before the party started and she seemed so nervous, it was so cute!”
“God, having to do that in a place like this sounds awful,” Noa said. “I don’t envy her at all.”
“When you hear her sing, you might change your tune, Nona,” Kiku said. “Then again, I love you most when you’re so sweet and shy!”
She huddled together with Noa as the band stopped. Everyone watched as Luna made her way onto the stage in a purple dress. Sorin had heard her singing voice before, but did not know how her debut was going to go. Before she began singing, Pekka joined the group at the table and took a seat near Gavin.
“I can only assume she’s beyond terrified up there on stage,” Pekka said, “So let’s be supportive.”
“Got it,” Sorin said.
Luna stood behind the microphone and looked around. “Hello everybody… Um, my name’s Luna,” she said. “I… I wanted to greet you all because I wanted to sing for you…”
Everyone in the ballroom clapped as Luna smiled. Sorin watched as Luna waved back and set her sights on his group. She nodded her head and appeared to take a deep breath. Once she opened her eyes, Luna looked back at the band and then back to the rest of the room.
“But that’s not the only reason we’re here,” Luna said. “We’re here to help celebrate an important friend’s birthday. Gavin, am I doing okay?”
Gavin gave a thumbs up in response.
“And I don’t want to take any of this away from you, either, but there’s so many people I’ve gotta thank,” Luna said. “That can wait for later, though; you guys want to hear me, right?”
Everyone clapped again.
“Got ya,” Luna replied. “Well, Gavin, I hope you enjoy this one most of all. I don’t have a name for this song just yet as I wrote the lyrics just last night, but I hope you like it anyway because I really worked hard on it, so let’s begin!”
As the band broke into an upbeat, powerful tune, Sorin sat back with Gale as everyone else listened. Sorin was happy to see Luna get a handle on her nerves and sing with confidence as she captivated the entire ballroom with her singing. The party continued into the night with multiple celebrations and a reassurance that everything was good. Nothing could deter Sorin and his friends from the fun they had, temporary as it may be. It was a night no one wanted to see end.
To be continued…