Aurora – Chapter 3 (Part 1)

[3rd of December, 2740 AD; Admorse Shipyard – Lowell Page’s Office, Admorse, Ameci – Gardner District]

 

“Son of a bitch,” Lowell said. “You mean to tell me that the president is in critical condition? What the hell happened last night, general?”

Gale watched as Lowell spoke on the phone. He towered over his desk, grasping the receiver of the phone as he listened to Rohan speak. Hearing the sudden news coming in surprised Gale, but she had a terrible feeling in the back of her mind. Something was wrong, she thought.

“Poisoning?” Lowell asked. “That’s what you think, general? Well then, let me ask you this: who the hell could’ve pulled off this feat under such intense security?”

Yes, it was that same terrible feeling, Gale thought. A suspicion that reared itself out into the open as Lowell continued to listen. Only by listening could there be a chance to figure out what had happened over the past few hours.

Lowell sighed. “That’s a damn shame,” he said. “What about that summit you’ve been mentioning? Is that still going to happen?”

Gale was sure that this news would reach overseas soon enough. After all, the news traveled quickly once everyone found out that Alan Berry had been assassinated a few months ago. There were many questions, but the one that stood out in Gale’s mind was whether or not her father was directly involved in Hasker’s poisoning. There existed no doubt that he was involved, but proving it would be difficult. She knew that Isaac would not act without some way to cover his tracks. Not as long as Foundation and the fall of the Neu Thekohnian Order were still prominent in everyone’s minds.

“So that’s the deal, then,” Lowell said. “Guess the whole thing’s up in the air for now… Well, I’ll be sure to let her know that, general.”

Lowell thanked Rohan and said goodbye, hanging up the phone as he turned to Gale. She could only imagine what Lowell was going to say, but Gale was certain that it weighed on him.

“I’ve got good news and bad news,” Lowell said. “Well, maybe ‘good’ is a little bit too generous.”

“It’s fine, Mr. Page,” Gale replied. “I think I’ve got the general idea just from listening to you.”

“Well, then I guess you should know that the meeting’s been canceled,” Lowell said. “Can’t do much in the way of presenting new ideas when we’ve got a crisis on our hands.”

“I understand,” she said. “Is it really true? You know, the way that President Hasker was poisoned?”

Lowell shook his head and sat down in his seat. “I can’t say for certain,” he replied. “Looked to me like he was just fine the other day.”

“I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out for ourselves,” Gale said. “So what’s the ‘good’ news?”

“It’s a pain, but it looks like we may still be able to have our meeting yet,” Lowell answered. “Though I can’t really say I’m too excited about it, nor do I think you’ll be once I tell you.”

“You can tell me,” Gale replied. “I’m sure that it isn’t that bad.”

“Like I said, it’s a pain, but we can still meet with the investors, though if it does happen, then the whole meeting will be headed by your father,” Lowell said. “You’ve already said to me some bits and pieces about how you don’t really see eye-to-eye with him, so I’m telling this as a heads up.”

“That will be no problem for me,” Gale said without hesitation. “I’m not afraid of Isaac.”

Truth was, he still intimidated her, but she was not going to say that out loud. This would be the chance for Gale to confront her fears head on and perhaps even gain some sort of information that could end up being useful to taking down Foundation. Having this meeting would be the first step towards doing that, so Gale knew that she would have the chance to find something out for the sake of everybody else.

“Would you mind if I asked you something?” Gale asked.

Lowell scratched his ear. “I don’t see why not.”

“Do you have some sort of recording device? It would help me if I could record the meeting,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be right now but if you have anything that could be of use, that would be great to have.”

“I’ll see what I can find,” Lowell replied. “Those sorts of tools are pretty hard to find… Quite a kick in the ass money wise, too, if you’re looking for the highest quality.”

“Okay,” Gale said.

“I’ll let you know if I find anything,” Lowell said. “I can promise you that. Now that that’s settled, I guess you’re going to head out?”

Gale stood up. “Yes, I’ve got lunch with Kirk,” she said. “He said he wanted me to meet with Henry. It sounded important, so I don’t want to waste any time meeting him.”

“Gotcha,” Lowell replied. “Tell them that I said hello.”

“I’ll let them know,” Gale said. “Thank you.”

Gale left Lowell’s office and out of the shipyard as she went over to her car. Indeed, she had what could be considered an important lunch with Kirk and Henry, for more reasons than one.

 

*****

 

Over at the Admorse Casino, there was a restaurant on the other side of the street. That had to be the place, Gale thought. She parked her car and got out as the quiet ambiance of the winter morning made Gale feel alone, even though she had no reason to feel since she was going to meet both Kirk and Henry. She had to wonder if Sorin felt the same way back in Rezar.

“I can call him later,” she reminded herself. “He’s doing well back there. I know that, so I don’t need to worry.”

Gale wrapped the scarf around her neck and began walking towards the restaurant. Once she got closer, she saw the two men that were waiting for her standing outside the entrance.

“Hey, Gale! We’re right here!”

Kirk called out to her, waving his arm in the air while Henry cracked a smile. Gale rushed over to them and greeted them both.

“I can see you, Kirk,” Gale said. “It’s nice to meet you again.”

“And I can say the same to you,” Kirk replied. “So how did everything go with Lowell? I imagine he’s still the same as ever.”

“Well, he told me to say hi to you and Henry,” Gale said, “But really, he’s holding up well. I can’t exactly say the same for the meeting, however…”

“The meeting?” Kirk asked.

“We can talk about it inside,” Henry said. “It’s too cold to talk outside. At least let us get something before we can talk about what happened.”

Al three of them went inside, trading the frigid temperatures of the outside for the warm embrace of the restaurant’s interior. Henry led Gale and Kirk to an empty table as they did not need to wait to be seated. Henry took a seat across from Kirk while Gale sat on the side between them. After waiting for a few minutes, the three were greeted by a server, who took their orders and went off towards the kitchen.

“This place is pretty new,” Henry said, “But I’ve heard good things. I’m even friends with the manager here.”

“So you’re trying to gain support through here, are you,” Kirk said. “Guess that it can’t be helped…”

“So Henry, have you already heard about what happened?” Gale asked. “You know… about him?”

Kirk looked to Gale. “Him?”

“Being a part of this process means hearing the major news firsthand,” Henry replied.”So yes, I have indeed heard about it. Let’s try not to get too loud about it; only a select amount of people know right now and we want to avoid any potential crisis that might arise.”

Henry then informed Kirk about what happened with President Piere Hasker. Kirk nodded along and listened, closing his eyes as he took a breath. With an exhale, Kirk opened his eyes and laid his hand on the table.

“Well, it didn’t take them long, did it?” Kirk asked. “Looks like the sand has already begun to drain from the top, it seems.”

Henry rubbed his chin. “Do you suspect him?”

“There’s no doubt about it,” Kirk said, “Only one person stands to gain a tremendous amount from an incapacitated Hasker.”

“We already know what he’s capable of,” Gale said. “After all, he was involved with the Neu Thekohnian Order…”

“Yet as it stands, there’s no way to prove it,” Henry replied. “Short of Isaac confessing, there’s no way he could be taken down. Not without something to tie him to that group.”

“And I might be meeting with him, too,” Gale replied. “Well, at least I won’t have to meet him by myself.”

Kirk leaned back in his chair. “I wonder, Gale, if there would be a way for you to do me a favor.”

“What is it?” Gale asked.

“There’s someone that I want you to meet,” Kirk said. “I think that it would be great for both of us if you met them before you went to this meeting.”

“Interesting,” Gale said. “Who is it?”

“I’ve been speaking to them for a while,” Kirk replied. “You should know her, too, Henry.”

“I should?” Henry asked.

“Yes, and I know that she’s been dealing with quite a bit recently,” Kirk said. “I can’t blame her; she lost her only son, after all.”

Henry raised his eyebrows. “You don’t mean Dia, do you?”

“Indeed I do,” Kirk said. “It took a few conversations, but it seems like she’s willing to help out in any way she can.”

“Surely you’re not suggesting she’s fighting for the cause,” Henry said. “I can’t think that she’d throw down in any chance.”

“Oh, I don’t mean that,” Kirk replied. “She and I have a common goal, ergo I decided to help her out.”

“That’s all, then?” Henry asked. “Well, I guess I have no problem with that if that’s the case.”

“I’m glad you understand,” Kirk said. “So, Gale, would you be willing to meet with Dia?”

“I don’t see why not,” Gale said.

“Then it’s settled,” Kirk said. “You don’t mind going right after lunch, do you now?”

“You want to do it today?” Gale asked.

“It would be a good idea to have everyone aligned as soon as possible,” Kirk replied. “After all, I’ve got a plan.”

Henry chuckled. “Anything you say, Mr. Wilk,” he said. “I kid; this should be a good idea for all of us.”

Gale had to agree, at least. She trusted Kirk’s judgement and thus trusted Dia as well. As for what this meeting would mean for her, though, Gale had no clue about what to think of it. But what really loomed in the distance for her was meeting with her father later on. Her relationship with Isaac, if it could be called as such, was not one Gale like to speak about, though she had to remain strong and not let her fears get the best of her. That was all Gale had to do in order for her to make progress towards her goal.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Advertisements

Aurora – Chapter 2 (Part 2)

[3rd of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Main Hall]

 

The cloudless skies indicated a great day for Rain to go and visit the citizens of the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn, as they were all enthusiastic to greet the newly appointed queen. It was a welcome sight as Rain went around the city with her advisers Dustin and Gamal, as well as Mina, who had wanted to attend. It was a perfect moment, Rain thought, as she reached her hand to hold Mina’s as the two let the advisers lead the way on the sidewalk until they reached their destination back at the castle.

“You know, you’ve gotten quite used to spending time here,” Rain said. “Are you perhaps considering moving here?”

“Oh, well, I would love to!” Mina replied. “But… I don’t want to get in your way when you’re doing your job.”

“Mina, my dear, I would never suggest that you would get in my way,” Rain said. “You’re far too helpful and kind, as well as being vital support not only for me, but for everyone here.”

“Your upbeat energy keeps us all afloat,” Gamal said. “And I’ve never seen someone adapt so well with a sword like you have.”

“It’s a surprise, to be sure,” Dustin said. “Then again, she’s got a kind of raw talent that just begs refining, don’t you think, Your Majesty?”

“To be honest, it does cross my mind,” Rain replied. “But as much as I think about it, there’s only a few in the world that possess such skill that could help Mina realize how amazing she can be wielding a sword.”

“What about you?” Mina asked.

“I love you way too much to even think about going against you,” Rain said. “Even so, it wouldn’t be proper for me to train you. If only Eva were here, I am sure she would be delighted to put you up to the task and train you herself.”

Mina looked down at the ground. “Right, Eva’s not here,” she said. “I wonder if she’s doing good; she seemed so unhappy when she left here.”

“Unfortunately, I’m not sure how she’s doing,” Rain replied. “I’m used to seeing her act stoic and down-to-earth. Then again, what she’s going through may have gotten the best of her…”

“If it’s worth anything, my father did mention briefly about her when I got this job,” Gamal said. “Seems like Miss Bellamy doesn’t like to stay close to anyone for too long… Maybe she felt like she was getting too close to you two as a friend and decided to cut ties while she still could.”

“Sounds like it,” Dustin said.

“Whatever it may be, I do worry about Eva,” Rain said. “I would hate to think that Mina or I inadvertently set her off somehow.”

“If it concerns you that much, I’d be glad to go,” Gamal said. “Wherever she went, I can go looking for her.”

“No, I’d rather you not,” Rain replied. “We don’t know where she is right now, nor do any of us know if she’d even want to come back here. Besides, there is still much to do with the upcoming summit as well as negotiating with the Ameci Region.”

“Oh yeah, the summit,” Mina said. “Have you set a date for it yet?”

“I have, actually,” Rain answered. “There’s someone I need to inform first, though, before I make it official. Actually, maybe you could come along with me, Mina, since we know this person so well.”

“Cool, I’m definitely excited!” Mina exclaimed.

The two went over to Rain’s room and spotted the phone on the table. Rain reached for the receiver and began to dial while Mina waited right next to her. It was not certain that the other end would pick up, but Rain had a feeling that she would be speaking to them soon. After a few rings on the other end, Rain heard the other side pick up.

“You’ve reached the Rask residence,” Sorin said, who then introduced himself.

“Sorin, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Rain asked.

“Oh, Rain, I’m glad you called,” Sorin replied. “Have you got any said anything about the summit yet?”

“That’s what I was calling you about,” Rain said. “I’m planning on having the summit take place in Glora towards the end of the year; on the 20th, to be exact.”

“So it’ll be after the Winter Festival?” Sorin asked. “Good, that will work for us then.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Rain replied. “By the way, there’s a couple of things I wish to ask you about.”

“Really? What about?” Sorin wondered.

“Well, perhaps it would be for the best if Mina asked you, since it really concerns her more than anything,” Rain said. “Hold on one second, please… Here you go.”

Rain handed off the receiver to Mina, who put it to the side of her face.

“Mina? She’s there?”

“Hi Sorin!” Mina said. “Um, I guess I’m as surprised as you are about this whole thing! Who would have known?”

“It’s been quite different here without you around, that’s for sure,” Sorin replied. “I think that your mother was even thinking about taking a visit to see you since you’ve been gone for a while.”

“Oh no, I had no idea!” Mina replied.

“She’s been wanting to see for herself,” Sorin said. “But what was it that you wanted to ask me about?”

“What did I want to ask you about?” Mina asked.

“Tell him about what you’ve been doing,” Rain said. “The sword training and everything else.”

“Right! Sorin, listen, I’ve been training a lot recently,” Mina said, “Not just with my hands and feet, either! I’ve been taking up sword fighting like you’ve been doing!”

“Wow, really? That’s great,” Sorin said. “Who’s been training you?”

“Well, that’s the thing,” Mina replied. “I was wondering if you’ve seen Eva… You know, she left pretty abruptly from here.”

“I can’t say that I’ve seen her recently,” Sorin replied. “Sorry about that.”

“No, it’s fine, really!” Mina said. “I was just wondering because I wanted to get better at this sword stuff and she’s really good with using one, right?”

“I get it,” he said. “How about this: when the summit comes, I’ll help you with some of the basics. I’m not as experienced, but I can at least help you learn a few things. Is that good with you?”

“Of course,” Mina said, “I’d be glad to learn from you. After all, you’re part of the reason why I wanted to learn in the first place. Well, Rain, mostly, but you were a reason, too!”

“Okay, Mina, I think that’s enough,” Rain said.

“I guess Rain wants to speak to you again,” Mina said to Sorin. “I’ll give her back the phone now. I’ll see you at the summit!”

 

*****

 

[3rd of December, 2740 AD; Drake Rask’s house, Rezar, Iiayikohn]

 

“See you then,” Sorin said.

He waited a few seconds before Rain picked up the phone again. Now that there was a date set for the summit, Sorin knew that he had to contact Jelka soon. It was fortunate that Rain had called since Sorin had nothing else he could do. At least, as long as it did not concern Rysol. His brother was out there somewhere in the clutches of the Ameci military. Sorin had wonder if Korbin had anything to do with his abduction, but he had no time to think about it now.

“I’m glad that we’re able to talk,” Rain said. “I was getting worried that you wouldn’t be able to answer the phone.”

“Wel, it wasn’t like there was anything for me to do,” Sorin said. “Gavin and Law have been busy doing their own things, Eva’s somewhere else, and Luna and Pekka have been busy back in Ahnlikohn.”

“I know,” Rain replied. “It’s been quiet the past couple of months. Normally, that’s a good thing, but as long as that organization exists, we can’t really afford to relax.”

“Yet it feels like we are,” Sorin said.

“I understand how you feel, Sorin,” Rain said. “But we’ve got no clue what Mr. Kunigunde is up to, so all we really can do is wait and see for right now.”

“Guess that’s our only choice,” Sorin replied.

“Well, since we’ve got that out of the way, maybe you could do something for me now,” Rain said.

“What is it?” Sorin asked.

“There’s been something I’ve been meaning to ask Ayanna, but it seems like she’s been tied up with work,” Rain said. “I could have asked Law about this, too, but I figured you might be able to relay the message to either one of them when you get the chance.”

Sorin nodded, but then realized that he did not need to. “Uh, yeah, of course,” he said. “I’ll let Ayanna know, one way or another.”

“Good,” Rain said. “I suppose that’s that, then…”

“Sorin, are you talking to Mina?” Wilma asked.

Sorin looked to the back door and saw Mina’s mother standing in between the doorframe. It appeared that she had just been in the city recently, judging from the paper bag in her hand.

“I can get her on, if you want,” Sorin said to Wilma.

“You can? Well, that would be nice,” she said.

“Of course,” Sorin replied. “Rain, can you put Mina on one more time? Her mother just got here.”

“Absolutely,” Rain said. “I’ll talk with you later, then.”

“Speak with you soon,” Sorin said as he handed the receiver over to Wilma. “She’ll be on soon.”

“Thank you so much,” Wilma replied.

As Sorin left the house, he now knew what he had to do. He hoped that Jelka was still around the city somewhere, because now with a proper date set for the summit, Sorin knew there was no way that Isaac Kunigunde was not going to avoid tagging along with the president, Piere Hasker, and general of the Ameci military, Rohan Fercewend. With that known, Sorin knew that they were getting closer to taking down Foundation.

 

*****

 

[3rd of December, 2740 AD; Outside the Royal President’s House, Admorse, Ameci – Atlas District]

 

The morning thunder roared as the first few drops of rain began to fall to the ground. President Piere Hasker held his umbrella as  vice president Casper Bradley joined him along with Isaac Kunigunde. An important meeting was to take place soon between the president and Lowell Page, but before they had to meet with him, Hasker invited the two men out onto the deck for some small talk. Before he spoke, though, Hasker began to cough profusely. At first, it was only a single cough, but soon escalated into an unstoppable force that the president could not stop.

Casper patted him on the back. “Are you okay, my friend?”

“I’m… I’m okay,” Hasker replied. “I… it must have been something I had last night that’s not sitting well with me.”

“Well, it certainly seems to be problematic for you,” Isaac said, leaning in. “Perhaps you should get some rest and let us meet Mr. Page instead?”

Hasker groaned. “No, I can’t do that,” he said. “It’s my duty… as president… to serve Ameci’s people…”

Hasker fell to one knee and dropped his umbrella, letting it roll away from him. The downpour only increased as his coughing started up as he covered his mouth. As Casper knelt next to Hasker, Isaac looked down at the ailing president before him. He cracked a smirk before going to assist Casper in helping Hasker up to his feet.

“You’d do well to rest, sir,” Isaac said.

“This… my stomach… what is happening with me?” Hasker asked. “Egh… I can’t let Ameci down…”

With a gasping cough, Hasker fell flat to the ground. Casper knelt down next to him again and tried to help him up, but soon discovered that that was not possible.

“Piere? Are you okay, buddy?” Casper asked. He got up to his feet and looked around. “Someone! Someone call an ambulance! The president just collapsed!”

“I’ll take care of it,” Isaac said. “Just take good care of Piere, okay?”

Isaac turned around and headed for the president’s house. He had a call to make to the Ameci special forces, but first, a very important call had to be made. One call that Isaac had to make to an old friend to let know of what exactly just happened in Admorse.

“Harold… our plan is finally in motion,” Isaac said, “And I know that you’ll be happy to hear what I have to say.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 2 (Part 1)

[3rd of December, 2740 AD; North Gate Hotel, Mikahana, Kikuisha]

 

Eva sat up in her bed and sighed. “Oh, I’m awake… again,” she said. “Damn it all…”

After what felt like hours upon hours, Eva Bellamy woke up to be greeted by the morning sunlight coming in through the window of the hotel room. It had been an uneventful past few days for Eva, yet all the same, she felt like it had been a burden on her. She was on her own, so it would not have been that bad, but Eva missed Kirk. It was something that she hated to admit, but Eva missed him and his positive demeanor.

“I wonder if he feels the same way,” she said. “It really isn’t the same without you…”

Eva spent the past few days traveling the Thekohnian Region, all the while juggling so many thoughts in her mind. She had left Thedam Castle abruptly as both Rain and Mina watched, which only served to make Eva feel worse. Truly, Eva really did not want to leave the way that she did, but she did not want to be a burden to the new Queen of Thekohn.

“Someday, I’ll go back there,” Eva said. “I’ll go and see for myself exactly the woman you’ll become, Rain.”

She laid back down on the bed and looked to the lamp near her bed. It was on despite the fact that it was morning. Eva remembered why it was on: she had fallen asleep while thinking about Kirk. It had to be around then that Eva lost consciousness while seeking relief. Remembering that only served to make Eva wish that she was better and back in Ameci with Kirk, but for now, she could only make use with her fingers. She sighed again as she reached for her eyepatch and put it on over her right eye.

“Guess I shouldn’t sit in bed all day,” Eva said. “I’ll just get some clothes on and take a stroll for a bit, I guess.”

She got dressed and hurried out of her hotel room. There was not that much for Eva to do in the hotel, so she decided to head to the market and walk around. At least she might have been able to clear her mind, Eva thought. If there was something that she could do, Eva was sure to take that option. Perhaps she could go see the garden everyone spoke about.

 

*****

 

After a small breakfast, Eva went to the nearby garden and took in the sight of all the flowers and plants around her. The garden had a welcoming feel to it, which put Eva at some ease as she took a few steps forward. There did not seem to be that many people inside, either, which comforted Eva as she took a stroll through the garden. As she tried to get closer to a bunch of growing daisies, however, Eva ended up bumping into another person. She looked immediately and found a recognizable face belonging to a towering man.

“Sorry! I’m so sorry,” Noa said. “Wait, I know you! Oh no, please don’t hurt me, Eva!”

Noa cowered while Eva shook her head. At least she knew that Noa posed no threat to her, though she did wonder what he was doing here.

“Are you waiting for someone?” Eva asked.

“I’m… I’m not,” Noa said. “Actually, this is part of my job. I work with the city’s recreational offices now.”

“I had no idea you moved here,” Eva said. “Though I suppose in your case, I can’t exactly blame you.”

“Well, it took me everything to make this move,” Noa replied. “If it wasn’t for her, then I might still be in the military…”

Eva smiled. “So you’ve really fallen for her, haven’t you?”

“What makes you say that?” Noa asked. “I mean, why do you say that, Eva? I never said anything about my relationship with Kiku at all!”

“You just did,” she replied. “Trust me, I know.”

Noa laughed as he shifted his eyes from side to side. “I wonder where my boss is right now,” he said. “Maybe he’s on his break or something?”

“I suppose it was too much to ask,” Eva said. “How long have you been living here, anyway?”

“Since the end of that battle in Thekohn,” Noa said.

He explained what had happened between him and General Khadir, and the ensuing trip that he made down to Kikuisha. It had taken him a few days to find the port in Kun, but after that, Noa was able to make it to the main city proper and found Kiku waiting for him near the docks.

“So you told her ahead of time, then,” Eva said.

“Well, no, actually,” Noa said. “I guess she went to the docks every day and waited for about thirty minutes; guess I got lucky and ran into her.”

Eva watched as Noa was then greeted from a pair of hands covering his eyes. Noa froze as he heard a familiar giggle.

“I guess that makes me a good luck charm, doesn’t it, Nona?”

“I can’t see,” Noa replied. “I can’t see!”

Kiku gasped and removed her hands from Noa. “Oh, then maybe I should give you back your sight,” she said. “It would be such a tragedy if I was the one who ended up depriving you of your sight!”

“I would never suggest such a thing,” Noa said. “I’m just happy to see you here, Kiku.”

“I should be the one saying that, you know,” Kiku replied. “What do you think, Evie?”

“You want my opinion?” Eva asked.

“I want a lot from you, actually,” Kiku said. “Hehe, I wonder… Well, maybe it would be a bit too forward if I asked you to do that with me and Nona…”

“W-What? No, I couldn’t!” Noa exclaimed. “No… No offense to you, Eva, but I wouldn’t do anything that would make Kiku upset.”

Kiku shoved Noa in the arm. “You’re no fun,” she said. “You never once thought about that?”

“Well, nothing like what you’re implying,” Noa replied, “And I know how active your imagination gets!”

“Whatever it is, I’m flattered,” Eva said, “But that’s not why I’m here.”

“I know, you’re in love with Quirky, after all,” Kiku said. “Where is he, if I may ask?”

“Oh, he’s back home,” Eva replied.

“Home? As in Ameci?” Kiku asked. “Oh no, you two aren’t fighting with each other, are you?”

“It’s… nothing like that,” Eva said.

“Something tells me that there’s something on your mind, Evie,” Kiku said. “Pardon me if this sounds rude, but you seem a little stressed.”

Eva brushed back her hair with her hand. “What makes you say that?”

“I can tell,” Kiku replied. “Are you sleeping well?”

“I’ve been sleeping well enough,” Eva said. “It’s not sleep that’s bothering me, it’s… it’s nothing. Please don’t worry about me.”

Kiku reached out and grabbed Eva’s hand. “You’re my friend,” she said. “How can I not worry about you? If there is something wrong, then I want to do what I can to help.”

“I appreciate your concern, but please, I can’t,” Eva said.

“Well, if you say so,” Kiku said. “You know, I wonder about where you’re staying… Why not spend some time over at the castle; that is, if you feel like it, of course!”

“That could be okay,” Eva replied. “I suppose it gets a little lonely just going through the city by myself.”

“Then Nona and I could be your tour guides,” Kiku said. “There’s even a place we could go where you could relieve some of that stress!”

“Wait, really?” Noa asked. “What kind of place?”

“Hehe, it’s not a place around here, that’s for sure,” Kiku replied. “It’s a couple of hours away from here, but we can definitely go if you’re willing to do so, Evie!”

“I’ll be sure to consider it,” Eva said, “Though I wouldn’t mind you two accompanying me around Mikahana.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Kiku asked. “Let’s go already!”

 

*****

 

Inside the residential district, there was a place that Kiku wanted to show off to Eva. The open area had an inviting feel to it as Eva soon discovered the place to be a casino of sorts. Set up all through the area were various games and card tables, all for people to play. However, judging from the look on Kiku’s face, Eva knew that they were not here to gamble.

“Do you come here often?” Eva asked.

“Oh, whenever I can,” Kiku answered. “This is usually a good place to speak to women, just so you know.”

“Good to know,” Eva said as she turned to Noa. “Do you come here often as well?”

“Oh no, no, no,” Noa replied. “I’m still too nervous to do any of that… Not that I would do it, of course!”

“I meant as in gambling,” Eva said. “Never mind, I can tell that you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to gamble.”

The three walked further into the open casino as the wind began to pick up. There was some commotion at one of the tables, but nothing that would have proven to be a distraction for everybody else inside.

“Sometimes the place closes due to the weather,” Kiku said. “Other times, they just pull out the covers and go on as usual.”

“I see,” Eva replied.

“You don’t really play games, do you?” Kiku asked. “That’s okay, you know; I’ve already told you that I don’t come here for this place’s intended purpose.”

“I knew that we would find you here, madame!” Ayame said.

Eva looked to the left and discovered both of Kiku’s bodyguards standing by one of the roulette tables. Ayame and Igor had been waiting for Kiku to arrive, as the two approached Kiku.

“Well, I’ve been asking you to come with me, but you never do,” Kiku said. “You two are just jealous that I’m spending this time here with Nona and Evie, aren’t you?”

“That’s not why we’re here, madame,” Igor replied. “It’s not about wanting to press the luck with you, but because you’re choosing to shirk your duty as the future leader of this land.”

“Oh, I can do that anytime, Iggy,” Kiku replied. “Mother’s not going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m just trying to have some fun while I still can!”

Ayame sighed. “I know you think that, but do consider how we feel,” she said. “There is always time for leisure, but right now is the time to learn and take charge. After all, your friend in Thekohn has just become the queen rather recently, did she not?”

“I know,” Kiku said. “I really can’t wait to visit her again!”

“When the time comes, we will see her,” Ayame said. “In fact, there’s supposed to be a summit soon, from what I’ve been hearing.”

“Oh, really?” Kiku asked. “Well, perhaps training wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.”

“I’m glad you understand, Madame Izumi,” Ayame replied.

“And maybe tomorrow, we can go to the recreational center outside of the city,” Kiku said. “I’m sure you’d like to go and work off some of that stress for a bit, wouldn’t you, Aya?”

“It’s tempting, I must admit,” Ayame said.

“But what about the training?” Igor asked.

“She’s already agreed to today’s training,” Ayame responded. “What is the harm in taking a day off? Especially since I do need to relieve the tension in my shoulders and back…”

“Then it’s a deal,” Kiku said. “And Evie said she’d come, too!”

“Oh, she did?” Ayame asked. “Well, I’d be interested in getting to know you better, Miss Bellamy.”

“I see what’s going on,” Eva said. “I can’t refuse at this point, can I? Very well, I suppose I’ll go with you.”

“What does that leave us?” Noa wondered.

“You have your job, Nona,” Kiku said. “I don’t want to make your boss upset, now do I?”

“Oh, I guess so,” Noa said.

Eva watched as Kiku covered her mouth and tried to suppress a laugh. It seemed that Eva was able to connect with some acquaintances once more, even if she still missed those that were close to her. She mustered a sigh of relief as the group decided to head over to Kiku Castle and prepare for the afternoon and night time activities.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 1 (Part 2)

[3rd of December, 2740 AD; Drake Rask’s house, Rezar, Iiayikohn]

 

It was peaceful outside, Sorin thought. He sat outside on the porch as the daylight beamed in between the tall trees. There was a desire to keep training, but Sorin felt like he could not do it alone. So he decided to take a blank sketch pad and began to draw. All Sorin could really think about at this point was Gale, as she was back in Ameci meeting with Lowell Page.

“If only I could… but I can’t,” Sorin said. “I can’t just go and break my promise to Johan.”

He looked forward to the forest, but nothing came to him. All that was on his paper were a few lines, which meant nothing to Sorin. He began to wonder what he could do right now, given that Drake had already gone to work. Mina was spending more and more time in the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn with Rain, while Gavin and Law were out in the city. Perhaps it was time to go to the city and see what he could do there, Sorin thought.

 

*****

 

The city of Rezar usually felt welcoming, but on this particularly cold day, Sorin had no one to share this experience with. He figured that at least he could check up on Gavin to see how he was doing, so Sorin decided to take a trip to the marketplace in the Deca District. If there was one place Sorin knew where Gavin would be, it had to be there.

Inside the large market, Sorin looked around at the various shops opened up in the area. There were many places selling various goods, but one place in particular caught Sorin’s eye. A single, small building right in the middle of the marketplace was where Sorin needed to go, and so he headed that way. As he got closer, he noticed a familiar face standing outside the front doors. The tall man with black hair, a full beard, and sunglasses waited outside the building as Sorin approached him from the side.

Sorin waved to the man. “Hey Gavin.”

“What are you doing here?” Gavin asked.

“Um, just saying hi,” Sorin replied. “So this is where you’re going for your training?”

“Lawrence told you, didn’t he,” Gavin said. “Can’t ask him to keep any sort of a secret, can I?”

“Why are you trying to keep this a secret?” Sorin asked. “I think it’s great that you’re pursuing your passion.”

“This isn’t about pursuing a passion,” Gavin replied, “This is about trying to make a living here. Give me a fucking break…”

“If that’s the case, then I guess I won’t ask more,” Sorin said. “Have you heard anything new recently?”

Gavin shook his head. “I know what you know,” he said. “Until we learn more, there’s not much that we can do except to wait and hear from Rain.”

“Right, the summit,” Sorin said.

Rain had told Sorin about the summit she was trying to arrange and would tell him the moment she decided it. Sorin could only wait, as Gavin said. Still, he wondered where exactly the summit would be taking place. Would it be in Glora again, or did Rain want to hold it somewhere else because of all the recent events and scandals that had surrounded the Ahnle royal family and Ahnlikohn? That was also an important factor, given the news that nothing had happened to the chancellor and he still retained his position in their government. It was sure to be a point of contention, Sorin thought.

“I know you’re probably getting a little impatient,” Gavin said. “Either way, we’re just going to have to go on with our lives until we hear more.”

“I guess so,” Sorin said. “It sure has been quiet recently, hasn’t it?”

“It really has,” Gavin replied.

“Seems pretty dull without Mina around,” Sorin said. “You probably miss hearing her scream at the top of her lungs and tackling you, don’t you?”

Gavin crossed his arms. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.”

“And Law, I guess, is just spending more time on his own now,” Sorin added. “It’s funny, isn’t it?”

“How so?” Gavin asked.

“Well, I mean, I’ve seen you two together so much that seeing you without him here has thrown me off a bit,” Sorin answered. “He’d be busy trying to make fun of you or something like that. I don’t know, that’s just how I feel about it.”

“He’s been busy, too,” Gavin said. “Seems like he’s serious about this acting thing, so he went and joined the local theater.”

“So he really meant it,” Sorin replied. “Good for him, but I guess that means he has no intention of trying to clear his name, does he?”

“As far as I know, no,” Gavin said, “But we were never planning on going back, anyway.”

“I understand.”

Gavin looked at the front door. “Looks like it’s time, now,” he said. “I suppose I will see you later tonight.”

“Goodbye,” Sorin said.

Gavin went inside the building as Sorin turned the other way. Perhaps he could pay Law a visit, or maybe he could give Luna a call if she was home. It had been a while since he had seen her or Pekka, to be fair, so it would make sense to check up on how they were doing. But before Sorin could go anywhere, he was stopped by a voice that called for him from his left.

“Sorin Wilk…”

Sorin looked around. “Is someone calling for me?”

“Over here!”

With a look over to his left, Sorin could see off a few feet away a familiar face. He had to make sure, though, that his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him and followed after the person. Sorin left the marketplace and ended up at the empty park on the other side of the road. With no one else around, Sorin wondered if he lost track of the person, but soon discovered that they were there. Two people, in fact, were waiting for Sorin: Jelka Arne and the masked traveler.

“Looks like we’ve got some time,” Jelka said. “I was fortunate enough to find you, it seems.”

“What are you doing here?” Sorin asked. “Where’s Rysol?”

“Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Jelka replied. “You see, last night…”

Jelka explained what had happened the night before in Hurst and how she had found out that Rysol had been abducted. Just from what happened, she had deduced that it was the Ameci military that had taken him captive. Sorin listened as he tried to process what he was hearing from Jelka, but could not believe that his brother would be so easily captured.

“I don’t want to believe it,” Sorin said. “You’re certain that it was the Ameci military?”

“What would I gain from lying to you?” Jelka asked. “This doesn’t help us at all, now does it? You know as well as I do how important Rysol is in our group.”

“I know, I know,” Sorin replied. “Do you have any clue where they could be? Any sort of lead that could point us in the right direction?”

“Unfortunately, I don’t have any clues,” she said. “When I got back to where Rysol was, there was nothing. Whoever took him was quite meticulous in taking him away, that much I can assure you.”

“This has to be Isaac Kunigunde’s doing,” Sorin said. “We know he’s the one we’re after, but do you think he’s caught on to us somehow?”

“I don’t know,” Jelka replied.

Just then, the masked traveler leaned into Jelka, as if to whisper something into her ear. She listened and nodded, until the masked traveler pulled away from her and backed off.

“That’s not possible at all,” Jelka said. “At least, that’s what our friend here just said to me.”

“Our friend?” Sorin asked. “You mean, that guy in the mask? What exactly is his deal with us?”

“He’s a friend, that much I will say,” Jelka answered. “But he’s not at all important to this conversation. Right now, if we’re going to move forward, we’ll need to find a way to get Rysol back.”

Sorin knew that that was true. “So what do we need to do?”

“It’s hard to think that they’ll kill him,” Jelka said. “After all, he knows quite a bit about a lot of people, so I imagine that they’ll have him captive somewhere. For now, I think it will be best if you let me handle getting closer to the Ameci military.”

“And what will I have to do?” Sorin asked.

“You must not let any of this news get out,” Jelka said. “It’s already a risk being here; if I were found out with you here, that would spell trouble for all of us. That said, you mentioned to me something about a summit set to happen soon, did you not?”

“Well, I don’t know when,” Sorin said. “What does it concern you?”

“I was hoping you would be able to meet Rysol and I around that time,” Jelka replied, “But without knowing the date and location, it will be tough to meet, as well what we know about Rysol.”

Sorin sighed. “That’s true,” he said. “I should hear soon about when the summit is to take place. When that happens, I’ll seek you out.”

“Do you know where to find me?” Jelka asked. “Well, I was waiting in Hurst, but it looks like I may need to stay out of there for a while. Perhaps I should lie low here for a few days in case something happens.”

“I wish I could offer you help,” Sorin said.

“Please don’t worry about it,” Jelka said. “I think we have it taken care of. Don’t we?”

She looked over to the masked traveler, who showed no response.

“I suppose that that’s a good response,” she said. “Damn it, if only it weren’t for his selflessness…”

The masked traveler rested his hand on Jelka’s shoulder and nodded to her. Sorin tried to understand the masked man’s intention, but judging from Jelka’s smile, it seemed that she did not mind.

“I guess I shouldn’t worry for now,” she said. “We’ll just head off for now. Please, if you hear anything, let us know.”

“Got it,” Sorin said.

After that conversation, Jelka hurried off with the masked traveler as Sorin turned the other way. He had a lot to think about, most of which concerned Rysol and where he could be at this moment. If what Jelka said was true, then Sorin knew that that man had something to do with Rysol’s abduction. Only one man that could be involved with such a thing, and Sorin knew that he needed to be stopped. If not to take down Foundation, then at least for Rysol’s sake Sorin had to think of a plan.

“I promise you, Rysol,” Sorin said. “I promise that I’ll save you.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 1 (Part 1)

[2nd of December, 2740 AD; outside of Hurst, Iiayikohn]

 

The rustle of the trees alerted Rysol Wilk. He gritted his teeth and let out a quiet growl as he began to look around. Someone was following him and Rysol had no idea who it was, but regardless, he was ready for them.

He was on his way to meet with Jelka in the middle of the night to discuss their plans moving forward, but the sudden intrusion of the way to the meeting place stopped him in his tracks. Jelka would have to wait, Rysol thought, as he drew his sword and turned around. The wind blew again, rustling the trees once more, and with that came a figure obscured by shadows.

“Who dares follow me?” Rysol asked.

The figure stepped forward and revealed themselves. Rysol could not make out the person due to the fact that they were shrouded in a long, black cape while wearing a mask on their face, but Rysol knew that he could trust this person and withdrew his sword.

“So you’re the one Jelka told me about,” Rysol said. “I see… Very well, then we’ll go on and meet her.”

Earlier in the morning, Rysol stayed in a local hotel in disguise as he had spent the time speaking to Jelka over the phone. She had told him that he would meet with an ally to their cause, but Rysol did not expect this. The person in the cape and mask walked alongside Rysol as the two hurried down the pathway. The wind was beginning to pick up as the masked traveler tried their best to hold down their cape while Rysol did his best to make sure his hair was not getting in the way and let it flow behind him.

“You’re not letting that cape go… are you?” Rysol asked.

The masked traveler did not reply. Of course, Rysol knew that they were not going to speak at all, since Jelka had also told him that they preferred not to speak and instead let their hand-to-hand combat skills do the talking. As the de facto leader of Johan Kuu’s Moonlit Silence, Jelka was someone that Rysol held in high regard. He trusted her to lead in this moment as they sought out a lead into stopping Foundation.

“You must know Jelka well enough for her to trust you like this,” he said. “I won’t question your motives; as long as you hold that desire to defeat Foundation, then I, too, will trust you.”

They made it to the end of the forest path and came upon a campground. Rysol scanned from left to right and spotted a lit campfire with Jelka standing near it. He and the masked traveler rushed over to her and greeted her as she did the same.

“Glad to see that you made it in one piece, Rysol,” Jelka said, “And I see that you’ve met our ally over there.”

“Yes, it came as quite a surprise when you called me,” Rysol replied. “They seem very cooperative.”

Jelka walked past him and over the masked traveler. “That is good,” she said, placing her hand on the person’s shoulder. “You must’ve had quite a fight earlier, didn’t you?”

“You are certain of this person’s skill, Jelka?” Rysol asked.

“You’ll see,” Jelka said. “I’m surprised that you haven’t figured it out yet, to be honest.”

Rysol stepped forward. “Figured out what?”

Jelka looked past the masked traveler and towards the forest. The wind began to blow again as the flame from the campfire danced about.

“Were you followed?” Jelka asked.

“Followed? No, I don’t think so,” Rysol asked. “Why do you ask?”

Jelka stared at the forest again. “Step back!”

She and Rysol hurried back, as did the masked traveler, as a small object came hurtling their way. Rysol looked as the object landed on the ground and recognized the grenade in an instant.

“Son of a… we have to get further back!” Rysol exclaimed.

But as he said that, the masked traveler rushed forward and picked up the grenade. They threw it back in the direction that it came from and turned back as both Rysol and Jelka covered their ears. The ensuing explosion rang out as a few Ameci soldiers hurried out of the forest and towards the campground.

“Ameci soldiers?” Rysol asked. “How did they even find me here?”

A baritone voice echoed. “You were a fool for coming here, Rysol Wilk… A goddamn fool.”

“Show yourself!” Jelka demanded.

“No, Jelka, I want you and our ally to stay back,” Rysol said. “Take them far away from here… I… I will handle this.”

“You can’t be serious,” Jelka said. “We’re already outnumbered as it is!”

Rysol growled. “Please, go now,” he replied. “This man… this man is very dangerous… I don’t want our ally to get hurt.”

Jelka looked away. “But…”

The masked traveler place their hand on Jelka’s shoulder, as if to say that they should listen to Rysol. Jelka looked back at them and nodded.

“If that’s the case, then I leave it to you,” Jelka said to Rysol. “Promise me that you’ll return safely!”

“I will try,” Rysol said.

Jelka then turned to the masked traveler and hurried off with them. The Ameci soldiers aimed their guns as Rysol drew his sword in turn.

The baritone voice returned. “Lower your weapons… They aren’t that important…”

The Ameci soldiers did as they were told and lowered their guns. Rysol kept his sword out as the keeper of that baritone voice stepped forward. Upon seeing him, Rysol reacted as his eyes widened and gasped.

“So it is true, after all,” Rysol said. “You do live here… Harold Mars…”

“It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Harold asked. “By the way, it was very noble of you to protect those two… Quite unlike how you usually are, I must say.”

“Shove it,” Rysol replied. “What do you want me for?”

Harold scoffed. “Really? Are you too stupid to realize why I’m here? Who was it that gave you that replacement arm?”

Rysol did not answer.

“You talk big, and sometimes you even fight big, but right now, you’re nothing to me,” Harold said. “How disappointing.”

Harold proceeded as he came closer to Rysol. The wind picked up once more as the nearby campfire went out, leaving the two men in the darkness while the Ameci soldiers stood and watched.

“You see, there’s quite a bit of tension going on between these neighboring lands,” Harold continued. “The flames keep getting hotter, which only serves to make the water boil fervently. The new Queen of Thekohn wants to put a lid on that, but she has no idea what she’ll be in for once the water reaches its boiling point. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“What is the meaning of this?” Rysol asked.

“What, you ask, is the meaning behind what I’m saying?” Harold replied. “I only serve as a messenger for those who are passionate about their goals. Those who strive for glory and will look to win by any means necessary… those are the people I work for.”

“And what about you?” Rysol wondered. “What is in it… for you?”

Harold laughed. “I’m just an observer who only wishes to live without worry,” he answered. “To be honest, I had no intention of showing my face, but once I heard that you were here, I had to see for myself.”

Rysol tightened the grip on the handle of his sword. “Who… Who informed you? Who was it, damn it?”

“That’s irrelevant,” Harold said. “You’d do well to listen to me. My idiot son claims that you sliced off his arm… Normally, I would write off what he says, but I find it highly plausible.”

“What are you getting at?”

“Think about it,” Harold replied. “What is it that you’re doing here? Do you honestly believe that you’ll be able to create this ‘world without wars’ that you’ve been hearing so much about?”

Rysol clenched his fist.

“There are eyes all over the Thekohnian Region,” Harold said. “Once I’ve heard what I’ve needed to hear, I do my best to cover my tracks. Yet, people still give me the time of day when I request it. Do you wonder why?”

“You…”

“Truly you have more to say, don’t you?” Harold asked. “Then again, what can you say? Loyalty only goes so far, because we as a species are a selfish bunch and only care about ourselves. Those soldiers behind me? They are the ones who associate themselves with my son and Bradley, because they only desire to kill for the sake of killing. There’s no nobility in that, but then again, can you really blame them for going off the deep end?”

“Maybe in the past, I would have understood,” Rysol replied. “I swung my sword around and killed without much of a purpose… In that way, perhaps I am like that man…”

“Oh, then you do comprehend,” Harold said. “You truly do understand how altruism is nothing but a false ideal.”

Rysol sighed and pointed his blade at Harold. “But that is not who I am now,” he said. “I fight because I envision a better world! One where there is no need for wars! If… If you’re opposed to that, then you are my enemy… and if you’re my enemy, I must defeat you!”

A loud roar carried throughout the forest as Rysol thrust his blade into Harold’s abdomen. The Ameci soldiers reacted with audible gasps as they raised their guns and pointed them at Rysol. However, before they could do anything, laughter filled the air as Harold looked up at Rysol.

“Is this… how you treat the man that helped you?” Harold asked. “This is the thanks that I get? Then again, you’ve only proved me right… Rysol… you are nothing but an ignorant fool!”

Rysol looked at Harold, who blindsided him with a punch to the stomach. This sent Rysol to his knees as he let loose the grip on his sword, which was still stuck in Harold’s body. Harold kicked Rysol in the head, knocking him to the ground and placed his foot on the man’s head.

“To think that you would leave yourself so open… you truly have gotten weak,” Harold said. “I heard it was the same with your mother, actually. April never expected to be greeted with such a malevolent display, but that only goes to show you how weak she was.”

“Fuck… Fuck you,” Rysol snarled.

Harold pressed his foot into Rysol’s head. “Don’t talk back to me! Now, where was I? Oh, yes, what to do with you… I could just kill you right now, but that would leave evidence that something transpired here. Even if it’s unlikely, I can’t afford to be careless.”

Rysol had no way of getting back up to his feet. No way to get his sword back and finish off this heinous man. All he could hope for was that Jelka made it out of Hurst safe and sound with the masked traveler.

“I’ve just come up with an idea,” Harold said. “Looks like that idiot will be useful after all…”

 

To be continued…

 

Aurora | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 50 (BOOK TWO FINALE)

[18th of November, 2740 AD; Dia Kuu’s house, downtown Admorse, Ameci – Wyse District]

 

The wait at the front door made Kirk wonder if he was even in the right place. According to the map in his hand, Kirk entered the residential district and found Dia’s house in a matter of seconds. However, there was no way for him to see if Dia was home, so he decided to head for the front door and knock. A few moments passed. Kirk knocked again and waited once more, which only served to make him wonder even more if he was just wasting his time. He shrugged and turned to head back to his car, but that was when the door opened.

“What do you want?” Dia asked.

Kirk looked back. “Ah, you are here,” he said. “Sorry if I was interrupting anything important. Am I?”

“Don’t worry, you weren’t,” Dia said. “It’s just been a bit of an uneventful day here, save for that one guy that came here earlier.”

“Do you mean Henry Randolph?” Kirk asked.

“Why yes, I do,” Dia replied. “How do you know him? And how did you find me, for that matter?”

“Oh, well, he and I are friends,” Kirk said. “Actually I’m working with him on his campaign, if you can believe that.”

Dia shook her head. “You expect me to know that?”

“I wasn’t, honestly,” Kirk replied. “I know you’ve been quite busy… if what Henry said was any indication.”

“So you two are just going to do this, then?” Dia asked. “You’re just going to keep bothering me for what? What is it that’s so important about me that you just cannot stop yourself?”

“I wouldn’t come to you if I didn’t have a reason,” Kirk said. “My name is Kirk Wilk. I knew your husband for a bit, though I wouldn’t say that I knew him quite well.”

“You want to bring him up, then,” Dia said. “I think I’m going to go back inside.”

“Before you do, please hear me out,” Kirk replied. “I’ll leave here once I’ve said what I need to say.”

Dia sighed. “Fine then.”

“Thank you so much,” Kirk said. “It’s about your son, actually. He and my son knew each other quite well.”

“Yes, I think he mentioned to me quite a few times about this kid,” Dia said. “If I had to guess, he’s about the same age Johan would be.”

“Well, you’d be right,” Kirk said.

“Is that all you wanted to say to me?”

“No, not at all,” Kirk answered. “There’s something that your son wanted to do ever since he learned the news about Voitto. Something that he hoped that he would have been able to make happen. My son told me a bit about this dream before and I can’t help but find a way in which I can help.”

“It’s just like him to have had quite the ambition,” Dia said. “I guess that if you’re looking to help your son, it only makes sense to tell me about it.”

“That’s not all I’m here for,” Kirk said. “I need your help specifically. You’re the only person who can really help me with this plan.”

“What makes you think that?” Dia asked. “I’ve got no idea how I can even begin to think about helping you.”

“You can help by getting your voice out there,” Kirk replied. “Your son fought for what he believed in and I think you need to be able to fight for what you believe in as well.”

“I don’t have much to believe in,” Dia said. “I just lost my only son. How can I even do anything?”

“You can fight for others,” Kirk said. “That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what my son and his friends have been doing. Even if it scares you, you have to find a way to move forward and help create the world that Johan envisioned. That is what you can do for me.”

“And how do you suppose I go about doing that?” Dia asked. “I’m not really a fighter, nor do I wish to be one, and I don’t have the presence for a big stage like they have in politics.”

“You can help me friend, Henry,” Kirk said. “He’s looking for all the help he can get so he can help Ameci. I think having you would be a good idea.”

“I don’t suppose that he put you up to this, did he?”

“He knows not about this,” Kirk replied. “At least for now, anyway. So how about it? Will you do this for me? For Ameci? For the world?”

Dia closed her eyes and looked to be deep in thought. “There’s a lot that makes sense,” she said, opening her eyes. “I will give it some consideration. How can I reach Mr. Randolph?”

Kirk gave Dia the necessary information. “Though I will say that he’s currently out and about right now,” he said. “He and his wife are taking all the steps they need to take to get this campaign off the ground.”

“Very well,” Dia said. “I’ll hold onto this info and call him later, then.”

“Please do,” Kirk said. “He will appreciate it, that I’m sure.”

Dia chuckled. “It must be nice to have hope,” she said. “I suppose this won’t be the last time I see you, will it?”

“We’ll see,” he replied. “Until then, I’ll be keeping up with Henry. Goodbye.”

Kirk walked off the property and to his car as Dia turned back to her house. He had a good feeling that everything went well, judging from how Dia reacted. But this was not the last thing Kirk would do for Henry, because he was only getting started.

 

*****

 

[23rd of November, 2740 AD; Port of Iiayi, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Morning Shine]

 

(Sorin’s Soliloquy)

 

The ocean was a familiar, welcoming scene, yet it was also one in which I did not want to be a part of. Due to a sudden turn of events, Gale had to head back to Ameci to meet with Lowell Page. I had hoped that he would be able to come here instead but that was not a possibility, so Gale and I spent as much time as we could before she had to leave. We valued each passing day, yet I knew it was only a matter of time until the fated day came. We headed over to the port thanks to Gavin and spent some time before the ship was ready to board. There was a bench nearby, so I decided that we should take a seat for the time being. Gale agreed and we both sat down, with her rested her head against me while the ship prepared for boarding.

“I’ll miss you,” she said.

“I will, too,” I replied. “It’s not going to be that long, is it?”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “Maybe two weeks at most? Lowell’s pretty interested in my idea, to be fair…”

“Well, let’s hope it’s two weeks, then,” I said. “Hey, maybe it will go by fast and you’ll be back in Rezar before you know it!”

“Hopefully… You know, Sorin, it’s been over half a year since we first kissed here,” Gale said. “You remember it, don’t you?”

“Yes, I remember,” I replied. “I knew how you felt about me, but I had no idea how you’d react. Everything was just kind of rushing around in my head as I tried to figure out what would happen next.”

“I was just really shy,” Gale said. “If, for that entire time, you never once reciprocated my feelings, I probably would have just gone on with my life as usual. I would have probably went back to my old job in Admorse and this would have all been just one distant memory.”

I understood, because I knew also that I probably would have done much of the same had things not gone the way they did.

“To be honest with you, I don’t put too much of my faith into a higher being or beings,” Gale said, “But maybe meeting you was part of some destiny that helped me realize my dreams. What do you think?”

There was that word again. Dream. The same word that had been said over and over again over the past few months. Perhaps Johan was rubbing off on both Gale and I. Yet, I knew that this was not about him.

“I think that it might be true, Gale,” I said. “Then again, maybe it’s just a coincidence.”

“Is it?” Gale asked. “Are you saying we’re only together because of a little coincidence? Is that what you’re trying to say?”

“No… No, of course not! I wouldn’t suggest that,” I replied. “I was just kidding with you!”

Gale smiled. “I was kidding, too,” she said. “Not everything needs to be so serious all the time, you know?”

I eased myself and began to laugh. “I know, I know.”

“If it weren’t for these ships and the people, this would be quite a romantic view,” she said. “I bet if Kiku were here right now, she wouldn’t stop talking about how romantic it would be to gaze over the ocean like this with Noa…”

“It is a bit odd, isn’t it?” I asked.

“What is?”

“How Kiku and Noa got together,” I replied. “Not that it’s a bad thing, but just the fact that she seems so enamored with him.”

“I don’t think it’s that bizarre,” Gale said. “I actually think that they’re good together, if you ask me.”

“Suppose you’re right,” I said.

We spent more time watching the ships until the horn blared. There was no way for anyone to not hear it, which meant that it was time for us to get up. Gale and I stood up and walked towards the ramp, as people were already lining up to get on. I took one look at her as she did the same. Looking in her gorgeous eyes, I could tell that she did not want to go just yet, if at all.

“Well, I guess this is where we say goodbye,” she said. “I… I don’t know what else to say…”

“I don’t think we need to say anything,” I said.

“You don’t?”

Of course not. I pulled her closer and showed her what I meant. It was like the first time that Gale and I kissed, but now I knew that this would carry much more of an impact in comparison. It was a reminder that I would not forget about her and that I would be sure to be there for her as well. Judging from the look on her face, Gale understood as she held back her tears.

“Thank you,” she said. “I… I’ll be back as soon as I can!”

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll be here when you arrive.”

“I know,” she replied. “All of these people, are they staring at us? Well, I guess I don’t care if you don’t care.”

“It’s fine.”

“I suppose so,” Gale said. “I really should hurry before this line gets longer, though…”

She picked up her bag and headed for the line. I waved goodbye to her as she did the same while entering the back of the line. One by one, people climbed up the ramp of the ship as I watched Gale go along with them. I kept my eyes on her as she went up, making sure that she would get on safely until I could not see her from where I stood. I could have left, but I decided to stay until the ship left the port and sat back on the bench again. Soon enough, only a couple of people remained at the ramp’s entrance as the sailor led them on board.

“Okay, this looks to be the last of them! Gotta let the captain know that we are ready to set sail!”

And with that, the sailor hurried up the ramp as the ship’s horn blared once again. Now it was ready to set sail. I watched as it moved off, going on and on until it was completely separated from the dock. There was nothing for me to do but keep watching until the ship was but a small speck in the distance. Two weeks was not that long, but it would feel like it without Gale around. I knew that I had the others to go around with, but it was not the same.

However, there was still one more pressing matter that had to be resolved. It kept at me in an endless attempt for me to do something about it and I knew I had to play my part because of him. Because of what he said to me. Because of that word.

“Dreams… Johan, I think I’m ready now…”

Evil was not about to take a rest, which meant that I had to move. The one man behind everything was still out there and it was only a matter of time until he struck again. I had to be ready for what came next, as well as who was waiting for me: Rysol and Jelka. It seemed that finally, my brother had found his purpose and it looked like Jelka did, too. They were ready to fight in order to make Johan’s dream possible and I had the feeling that they were going to do whatever it took to create a world without wars. Most of all, I was ready because if anybody was going to make this happen, then it was us, Johan.

 

The End…

 

Previous | END

Sundown – Chapter 50 (Part 1)

[18th of November, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Outside Thedam Castle]

 

It did not take long for Rain and Mina to find Eva, who was standing near the front gate of the castle grounds. Eva faced the large tree by the gate as Rain and Mina came closer. Rain did not want to unsettle Eva, which was why she kept herself at a distance and called out to Eva.

“Are you okay?” Rain asked.

“I’m fine,” Eva replied. “You don’t need to worry yourself with me… I’m going to be just fine, okay? Please, go on about your day and forgot I ever said anything, Your Majesty…”

“Eva, please, I know you think you may be a burden, but I promise that you’re anything but,” Rain said. “You’ve been beyond helpful in training Dustin and Gamal, and I never made a big decision without first seeking your insight. You’re not useless at all.”

“I know you’re trying to be nice, Rain,” Eva said. “After all, that’s what you are. Being here clearly states that and has only reminded me of how lowly I am. I may as well not be here.”

“You aren’t lowly at all,” Mina said, “Because… Because that’s not who you are at all! You’re somebody who isn’t afraid to face her fears and doesn’t break at the first sign of danger; that’s not something that a ‘lowly’ person would do, is it, Eva?”

“Please just stop,” Eva replied. “I know that you two are trying your best, but please… please just leave me be.”

“At this point, I can’t turn away from you,” Rain said. “At least not until I know what’s troubling you.”

“I already told you,” Eva said, “It’s nothing. I’ll be okay.”

“I know that that’s not it,” Rain replied. “Mina and I can see from here that there’s something going on. If you truly don’t want us to know, then I won’t press any further and I’ll let you go.”

“You would do that?” Eva asked. “I… I don’t even know what I can say to that…”

Rain sighed. “I bet that if I ask everyone to describe you, they would say the same thing,” she said, “That you’re strong and they would be right. But what truly matters, though, is how you exhibit that strength.”

“I believe in you, Eva,” Mina said. “I know Sorin does, too, and so do Gavin and Law. Everybody does… even if you don’t!”

Eva looked down at the ground. “I appreciate your concern, but you two are just wasting your breaths,” she replied. “Someone like me doesn’t deserve to be called strong. In fact, it would probably be a lot better if I didn’t exist.”

“That’s wrong,” Mina replied, “Because I don’t think that that’s true!”

“Hold on, Mina,” Rain said. “Perhaps it’s better if we approached this a little differently.”

“If you think so, then I’ll let you go ahead,” Mina said.

“Very well,” Rain replied. “Eva… can I ask you something?”

“What is it?” Eva asked.

Rain took one step towards Eva. “Why do you believe that? Why do you that it would be better if you didn’t exist?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Eva said. “No matter what I do, nothing changes. Even when I try to sleep, the same thoughts repeat endlessly. I really don’t want you to keep worrying about me… because I’ll take care of it myself.”

“What does that mean?” Rain asked.

“It means that I’ll be fine,” Eva replied. “Goodbye.”

Eva did not speak another word as she headed out through the main gates. Mina attempted to follow after her, but Rain stopped her before she could. The two watched as Eva continued to hurry off into the city.

“Why aren’t we following after her?” Mina asked.

“I think she needs time alone,” Rain said. “I can imagine that the recent events have taken a toll on her and as much as I wish I could help, I don’t know what else I could really say?”

“But I’m afraid that Eva might do something,” Mina said. “I don’t know what, but it makes me worried.”

“I’m worried too, but I don’t think that she’s going to do anything drastic,” Rain said. “Just give her some time.”

“Okay,” Mina said. “If there’s nothing we can do, then I guess that you’re probably right.”

“I hope so,” Rain replied.

Nothing else could be said. Whatever was on Eva’s mind, it was clear that she did not want to talk about it and Rain acknowledged that. Rain hoped that in the future, Eva would be more willing to open up, but she had no clue if that would happen. All Rain could do now was go on with her life while everybody else went on with theirs. That was when she looked to Mina, who keep staring in the direction that Eva left, and held her hand.

“You know, it is getting close to lunch time,”Rain said. “Why don’t we just go back for now and eat? I could go for some food right now.”

Mina looked at Rain as a huge smile formed on her face. “Yeah, we can do that! I haven’t even eaten since breakfast!”

“I’m so glad to hear that you haven’t lost your appetite,” Rain said. “Well then, shall we go?”

 

*****

 

[18th of November, 2740 AD; Eva Bellamy’s house, Admorse, Ameci]

 

Kirk looked around the empty house. He knew it had been some time since Eva decided to stay longer in the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn, but even so, Kirk felt the loneliness growing. He wondered to himself if she was feeling the same way. No, Kirk was certain that Eva was also feeling lonely and he only wished that he was there for her. Yet, he also knew that the reason she had decided to stay was not because she did not like him, but because she was afraid of growing attached to him in only a few months.

“I’m sorry, Kirk,” Eva told him, “I love you, but I’m afraid I can’t do this… It feels all too sudden.”

“Take as much time as you need,” he said. “Whenever you’re ready to come home, just let me know.”

That was what he said to her and since then, it felt like years since Kirk last heard Eva’s voice. He could only wonder how she was coping by herself, but still, he could not bring himself to contact her. Kirk walked into the empty bedroom where he and Eva slept, which only served to remind him of the happy moments he had with her and the moments that were not as happy as well. Kirk sighed as he sat on the edge of the bed.

“It’s really been some time, hasn’t it?” Kirk asked.

But he was not able to delve deeper into that train of thought as the doorbell rang off in the distance. Kirk jumped up to his feet and gazed down the hallway and began walking towards the front door. He had no idea who was on the other side, but Kirk opened the door anyway. Henry Randolph stood on the other side of the door with Tori.

“Henry? Tori? What brings you two here?” Kirk asked.

“Well, we’re just wondering how you’re doing by yourself,” Henry said. “How are you, Kirk?”

“I’m doing quite well, thank you,” Kirk said. “I assume it’s about the same for you and Tori?”

“Pretty much,” Henry replied. “I just got back from visiting Dia Kuu and now we’re going to go to city.”

“Oh, do you two have a lunch date or something?” Kirk wondered.

“No, that’s not it,” Tori said. “It concerns Henry’s campaign for Admorse. We’re busy getting signatures.”

Kirk tilted his head to the side. “Signatures?”

“If I’m going to run, then I’ll need about five hundred signatures,” Henry explained. “We’ve already got one hundred and fifty, but that’s not going to be enough when we get to the deadline.”

“And the deadline falls on the first day of the new year,” Kirk said. “If I know you, you’ll get there before the beginning of next month.”

“You really think so?” Tori asked. “I should have expected you would say that, Kirk. Oh, here, why don’t you sign as well?”

Tori reached into her bag and produced a board with a few sheets of paper attached. Kirk took it from her and looked through each sheet, already with so many signatures written down. He took the pen and signed on one of the blank lines and handed the board back to Tori, who smiled and put it back into her bag. Henry reached out to Kirk and shook his hand.

“Thank you,” Henry said. “You know, perhaps we can work together on this campaign. That’s if you want to, of course.”

“It sounds interesting,” Kirk replied. “I suppose there’s a way for both of us to help Ameci and this would be a good way to do it.”

“So you’ll do it, then?” Tori asked.

“Give me a day or so,” Kirk said. “I will definitely call you once I’ve made my decision.”

“Well, I can’t wait to hear it,” Henry said.

“I think this will work out well for you, either way,” Kirk said. “Anyway, Tori, how are you coming along?”

“We’re doing well,” Tori replied.

“Yes, it’s been almost three months,” Henry said. “The boys are pretty excited about it, too.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Kirk said. “I hope that it all goes well for you.”

“Thank you,” Tori said.

“Yeah, thanks,” Henry said. “Well, I guess we shouldn’t hold you up for any longer and besides, we should be getting back on the road…”

“Go on, then,” Kirk said. “I don’t want to get in your way of becoming mayor, do I?”

“You’re not in the way at all,” Tori replied.

“I know,” Kirk said. “I’d wish you good luck but you don’t need it; you’re Henry Randolph, after all.”

Henry grinned. “Great to know you’re on my side,” he said. “Well, we’ll see you later, then! Don’t forget to let me know!”

Kirk nodded. “I won’t.”

He watched as Henry and Tori headed to their car and left for the city. For Kirk, however, he still felt as if he was not able to do much in his position. All Kirk could really do was support Henry from the sidelines and wait for Eva to come home soon. Kirk then got an idea. He remembered what Henry said and wondered if it was not too late to pay Dia a visit. Kirk had no clue if his idea would even work, but there was no way of knowing unless he tried.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 49 (Part 2)

[Various dates, 2728-2740 AD; downtown Admorse, Ameci – Wyse District]

 

(Unending Dream)

 

Johan Kuu was born into a decent middle-class family in Gardner’s Peak, Ameci. It was a quiet town that overlooked the beach and the Amthe Ocean and was about an hour drive from Admorse. That was where Johan’s father, Voitto, worked as a government official. He made decent money, being able to provide for both Johan and Dia, the latter of whom occupied herself with becoming a teacher.

Johan himself was an attentive student in school; he did not get the highest marks of the class, but did come close many times. However, what set Johan apart from his peers was that he was always the most outspoken and perceptive out of the entire school, even for a child of his age. Despite receiving praise for his rich intelligence, Johan grew bored of the usual routine that was his school life, until one day, he met someone who would end up creating a lasting impact on him.

“Hi, my name is Sorin… Sorin Wilk… What’s your name?”

“Johan Kuu,” he replied. “Nice meeting you, Sorin!”

He shook Sorin’s hand in the back of the classroom and from that day on, Johan had a friendship he was sure would last for many years to come. Sorin lived only a few minutes away from Johan, so the two were able to meet up after school and do whatever it is that they wanted to do, or at least what two young boys were able to do in a small ocean town.

Some things were not meant to last, however, as Sorin met up with Johan one day at Johan’s house. Right there, Sorin learned some devastating news that was sure to have an effect on him: Johan was leaving with his mother for the big city of Admorse. At the time, Sorin had no idea that Johan’s father had died, nor did he know anything else about the attack that took Voitto’s life. But still, in Johan’s young mind, he knew that this was something that neither boy wanted to hear. It had to be said, though.

“I’m sorry,” Johan said.

“No, it’s okay,” Sorin replied.

“I… I promise I’ll call you every day!” Johan exclaimed. “And if not that, I’ll write letters to you! I’m sure my mother will send them!”

And from that day, Johan and Sorin continued their talks via letter. It wasn’t always the most efficient, but the two were able to maintain their bond over a long distance. Johan enjoyed being able to read tales of Sorin’s adventure with his “uncle” Raymohnd Smith. However, as time passed, Johan was not able to write to Sorin as much.

With each passing year, Johan noticed his mother’s condition continue to decline. She was not getting sick physically, but rather, Dia began to withdraw from society. Each day that went by, Dia remained holed up in her house, unable to go outside or even communicate with other people save for her son. Johan was not sure what to do about it, which was why he began to seek out solutions to his mother’s evergrowing reclusiveness. That was when, at the age of sixteen, Johan had an idea: he was going to create a better world. A world where people did not need to fight. A world where no one had to die because of war. Johan was going to make that world happen because he did not want what happened to his mother to happen to anyone, but first, Johan had to plan. On one breezy day, Johan stood outside his house and looked up to the cloudy sky above.

“Mother, I feel your pain,” Johan said. “When I heard the news that father had died, I… I didn’t know what to say. All my life, I had grown up with this belief that you and father were invincible, like nothing could ever bring you two down. It was foolish of me to think that and for that, I’m sorry. I’m sorry… I’m sorry that I couldn’t do more. That ends now, though.”

He eyed the carrier bag by his side and held it close to him. Inside Johan’s bag were a few essential items: his identification card, some money, a small bag of cookies, a change of clothes, and the most important thing of all, a framed photograph of Johan and his father from when he was very young. Johan remembered that day well because it was when his father took him to the place where he worked. Johan did not remember the name of the place due to the fact that it had been a long time ago, but he knew now that it was of vast importance in passing Ameci laws. However, Johan’s destination was not there, but rather with the military. He approached the recruitment agency nearby stared at the glass doors.

“I don’t necessarily want to do this, but I have to if I want this dream of mine to come true,” Johan said. “The general’s name is Fercewend, right? I know that I’ve got this…”

And thus, Johan went into the Ameci military with a simple goal in mind. He had to use these means if it meant succeeding in creating his vision, but even so, Johan knew that he was not meant for such work. The thought of training for battle displeased him and he had nothing but contempt for the usage of violence to achieve one’s goals. That did not mean that Johan was willing to use means that would be considered questionable to some, and he was willing to close his eyes and fight if his life was on the ling. But what it did mean was that Johan did not want to take anyone’s life, even if they were the enemy. That was why he had opted to become a spy for Ameci instead.

“At least I won’t have to worry about fighting anybody,” he said to himself. “This seems like a good start. Don’t worry, mother…”

He had just made it into the military and was ready to go. Johan’s plan was set forth and now he just needed to take the proper steps. The problem, however, was that he was not sure where to start. There were many out there that were looking to create a world that was the antithesis to the one which Johan desired, and thus, Johan knew that they had to be eliminated. At that point, he knew that he had to lay low and out of sight until he saw the right opportunity to put his entire plan into motion.

Then, one day, it happened. After his mission to find Pekka Varjostaa in the town of Hurst, Johan knew then and there that it was the right time to move along with his plan. He had made a valuable ally at the time and was only getting started. Once that was done, Johan knew that there was a much larger enemy than the True Thekohnians. One that had aligned itself with Walton Lokke and were only getting started. To find this enemy, however, Johan knew that he had to draw them out. Fortunately, a chance meeting in Oelaans with Lauren Ahga was all that Johan needed for him to work his magic.

“Ah, do you mind watching where you’re going?” Ahga asked.

“Sorry about that,” Johan replied. “I can’t help but notice the sword at your waist. Are you, by chance, a member of the Royal Thekohnian Military?”

“Not at all,” Ahga said. “Though I wonder what caused you to come to that conclusion…”

“Just a guess,” Johan said. “But you are from the kingdom, aren’t you?”

“Let’s just say that I am,” Ahga said, “And we’ll leave it at that, okay? Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

Though it was a brief moment, Johan saw Ahga long enough to remember all of the important details about him, as well as his outfit. There was no mistake about it: Johan had the chance to make his plan happen and he was going to take that chance without hesitation.

 

*****

 

[18th of November, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Rio Grove]

 

“You’re leaving already?” Rain asked.

“I’m afraid so,” Sorin replied. “Gale and I have to hurry back over to Rezar. Looks like it’s really important.”

Rain met with Sorin and Gale at the Rio Grove two hours after she gave her speech to the residents of the kingdom. She had expected her friends to leave, but seeing Sorin and Gale be the first to go surprised her.

“If that’s the case, then I won’t stop you,” Rain said. “Just promise me that you two will come back and visit, okay?”

“Of course we will,” Gale said. “Once I’m done with my presentation, we’ll be sure to come back and tell you the good news, hopefully.”

“I can’t wait to hear all about it,” Rain said. “I truly hope that your vision is realized.”

“Well, if what Lowell said was true, then he wants this to come true just as much as I do,” Gale replied.

“I believe he said that he wanted to show off your success and stick it to Isaac Kunigunde,” Sorin said. “I, for one, can’t wait to see that happen.”

“Yeah, I can understand why,” Rain said. “Gale, I know you’re not on the best of terms with him, but still, it must be devastating to know what your father did to influence the Neu Thekohnian Order…”

“It’s not much of a surprise to me,” Gale said. “At least I know that I have Rohan to look up to, as well as Sorin… Oh, and I can’t forget you and everybody else, can I, Rain?”

Rain smiled. “You will always be appreciated here,” she said. “I’m sure that we will find a way to bring Isaac to justice.”

“I hope that you’re right,” Gale said.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sorin said. “If the Neu Thekohnian Order can be defeated, we deal with Isaac just fine.”

“And I’m sure we can do that without much of a problem,” Rain added. “Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t hold you two up any longer, should I?”

“Thank you for everything,” Gale replied.

“Yeah, thank you, Rain,” Sorin said.

“You are very welcome,” Rain said. “Thank you, too.”

Sorin and Gale then said goodbye to Rain and left the Rio Grove, leaving the queen by herself. Rain knew she would have to say goodbye to the others as well, but at least she knew that they would always be there. Mina, especially, would be there for Rain and would drop everything if Rain called for her. Rain had so much more to do, though, and headed back to the castle to see what awaited her next. Once she made it to the castle, she went and met with everybody else and sent them on their separate ways.

Kiku, Noa, Ayame, and Igor were the first to leave. Noa was able to meet with General Khadir and found out that he did not have any issues with Noa leaving the Maeitakohnian military. Rain could see that Kiku was pleased to meet the general as well, with her saying that Khadir praised both her and Noa. With both the party and ceremony over, Kiku said that they would head right back home and relax. She and Rain promised to meet again, as well as get together with the others and catch up.

After Kiku’s group left, Rain met with Luna and Pekka. They were going to head back to Ahnlikohn and to Luna’s family, where Pekka would stay for an indefinite amount of time. He was not sure where he would go next; there was no place for him in Iiayikohn, nor was there much else for him to do. Luna said that she would try to carry on her brother’s legacy in any way that she could, but said that if she were ever in the area, she would hurry over to see Rain.

Gavin, Law, and Ayanna were next, as Rain noticed them leaving through the side entrance. According to Gavin, he did not want to cause too much of a ruckus, but Rain wondered why they had to leave so quickly. Ayanna stated that she had to head back and meet with General Reiss and the prime minister in order to discuss future options with Ahnlikohn. It seemed that any possible option for war was averted, but they still had much to discuss with the country of Ahnlikohn. Rain reminded Ayanna of the summit and said if Ayanna was able to, to meet with her to discuss further. Ayanna promised and left with Gavin and Law as Rain waved goodbye to them.

Finally, there was Mina. Mina did not go with Gavin and the others and opted to stay in the kingdom for a little longer. Even if Rain was busy, Mina wanted to be there for her. Rain was delighted and promised to Mina that she would spend as much time as possible with her. Mina smiled as she hugged Rain, who returned the favor. They were about to share a moment together, however, Eva walked in.

“I’m sorry if I’m interrupting anything,” Eva said, “But I need to tell you something, Rain.”

“What is it?” Rain asked.

“I think… I think that I need to leave,” Eva replied. “I’ve just been such a burden on you that I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be useful… I’m very sorry, but I need to go.”

Rain tried to ask Eva what was wrong, but the swordswoman walked as fast as she could out of the castle. The sudden outburst caught Rain off guard, but she had no idea what to do. It was easy to let it go and write it off as an isolated incident, but Rain knew that Eva would not just act without reason. She looked to Mina, who nodded back in agreement as the two decided to follow after Eva.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 49 (Part 1)

[18th of November, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Flumen Field]

 

The cold air made Sorin reach for his scarf and wrap it around his neck as he visited the makeshift grave marker in Flumen Field. He visited Johan’s grave about a month earlier, but this was the first time he had visited during the day. Off in the distance, Sorin heard Rain’s speech echoing through the city as he knelt down next to the wooden plank with Johan’s name on it.

“When Meredith Rio Thedam first founded this kingdom, he had but one goal in mind: to unite a land divided,” Rain began. “Right now, we are entering a time in which uncertainty and distrust have begun to rise. We are entering a time in which greed and hatred influence decision making. We are entering a time where for those less off, the only thing they know is despair. But we cannot allow ourselves to sit back and let these forces of divisiveness drive us towards war. We need to work towards a world where we do not need to fight wars in order to solve our problems.”

Applause followed as Sorin looked down at the grave marker and smiled. He was sure that the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn was in good hands and that Rain would have no trouble carrying on Alan Berry’s ideals.

“I hope you heard that, wherever you are,” Sorin said. “We’re working towards that future and we will not stop until we’ve made that dream possible. Do you hear that, Johan?”

Of course, Sorin had no way of knowing. How could he? No, it did not truly matter if Johan had heard Rain’s speech. All Sorin really cared about was making sure that that dream could come true. At least, it would motivate him to move forward and continue to get stronger. He was sure that Isaac Kunigunde and the organization Foundation would do their best to prevent that from happening, but Sorin knew that he and the others would not back down. Sorin knew that Rain would not back down, either, as her speech continued.

“The Neu Thekohnian Order was formed because of one person’s hate and paranoia,” Rain said. “Though they are now but a scar on Thekohn’s history, the fact is that it will not take long for another group to pop up in their place. If that happens, then I hope that we will be able to notice them in time and stop them before they are able to accomplish their goals.”

She did mention it, but Sorin was certain that Rain spoke about Foundation and what they had planned. If Isaac Kunigunde was able to influence the Neu Thekohnian Order, then there was no room for doubt that he was in the middle of plotting something new.

Rain’s speech continued as she went on about the future of the kingdom and the steps that she would take to restore the people’s trust in the Thedam Royal Family. Though she had avoided mentioning Isla’s name for most of the speech, Rain did mention her towards the end of her speech.

“Finally, I would like to offer some final parting words to my mother,” Rain said, “Despite what you have done, I would not be here today if not for you. Deep down, I would like to believe that you thought that you were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, it did not appear as such, and unfortunately it costed you everything that you held dear. However, I will do my absolute best to restore the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn and I am hoping that we in the Thekohnian Region are all able to unite once more.”

A loud applause came afterwards. Sorin could not see it, but he assumed that Rain was ecstatic and hopeful as she held the floor.

“Thank you so much,” she said. “I have but one last thing to say: where there is evil, there is good, and where these is hate, there is love. I am hoping that we will all work towards a world in which we have good on our minds and love in our hearts. And with that, I thank you.”

The speech was over as Sorin stood up. He rubbed his eyes, even though he was not crying. If Johan were with him, Sorin was sure that he would do the same thing if not moved even more. In spite of all the trouble that he had gone through because of Johan, Sorin knew that it was because he was working towards this kind of world. He knew that such a world would not be possible without making a few moves that were unpopular. That was why Sorin knew that he needed to leave the kingdom.

“I really hope you can do this, Rain,” Sorin said. “Ah, what am I saying? I know that you can.”

 

*****

 

[18th of November, 2740 AD; Dia Kuu’s house, downtown Admorse, Ameci – Wyse District]

 

Henry went and visited the mother of Johan Kuu at her house in Admorse. She had personally requested him after she had heard about his relation to her son. It was in the afternoon when Henry decided to stop by and pay her some time, entering the front yard and walking up to the door. He was about to ring the doorbell, but the door soon opened and revealed a woman of average height and brown hair just like Johan’s.

“Henry Randolph?”

Henry nodded. “That would be me, ma’am,” he said. “You’re Dia Kuu, I take it? What was it that you wanted to speak to me about?”

Dia propped the door open all the way. “Come in,” she said. “I don’t feel comfortable talking with you outside.”

“As you wish,” Henry said.

He followed her inside the house. Inside was a stillness that Henry felt was unsettling. There was a radio nearby on the table in the main hallway, but it was not turned on. Henry continued to follow Dia until they were in the living room. A few steps later, Henry made it to the couch and sat down while Dia took a seat across from him.

“Do you want anything?” Dia asked.

“No thank you,” Henry replied. “I want to offer my condolences. If I had known about Johan sooner, I would have done something to prevent his death. I’m very sorry.”

“You don’t… You don’t have to do that,” Dia said. “I understand what has happened and I know that this world is cruel. I… I just wish I could have heard from him one last time…”

“I know,” Henry said. “This must be tough, what with losing both your husband and your son to war…”

Dia shook her head and looked down. “It has been twelve years since Voitto died,” she said. “You were one of the two survivors of that attack, weren’t you? I would hope that you understood the pain that Johan and I had felt.”

“Yeah, I think I do,” he replied. “It seemed as if Johan intended to carry out his own personal agenda… Not even for one second could I have believed that he would have ever worked with the likes of the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“Is that what you believe?” Dia asked. “Or did the general tell you to say that to me?”

“Well, you were the one who called me here,” Henry replied. “Besides, I no longer serve in the Ameci military.”

Dia looked up and at him. “Is that so?”

“This battle is over,” Henry said. “I’m not getting any younger and I need to move on to making this country a better place.”

“That must be nice,” Dia said.

“One day, I want to make it so that people like you won’t be left behind,” Henry told her. “I know the feeling all too well and it’s about time we started paying attention to those less fortunate.”

“Well, if that’s what you’re going to do, I can’t stop you, now can I,” Dia said. “Anyway, there was something that I needed to ask you about. Something of Johan’s that I hoped you brought with you.”

“Of course,” Henry said. “I didn’t forget it.”

He reached into his coat pocket and produced a framed photograph. Inside the frame was a picture of Johan when he was younger and his father, Voitto. He handed the frame over to Dia, who took one look at it and held it tightly against her chest.

“I’ll always have this,” she said. “Thank you, Mr. Randolph.”

“You’re welcome,” Henry replied. “I hope you will be okay…”

“I’ll be fine,” Dia said. “Please… if you will…”

“Oh, yeah, of course,” Henry said, standing up. “Thank you for inviting me over to your house, Mrs. Kuu.”

He made his way out of the living room and said goodbye to Dia. Henry then left the house knowing that he had made her life somewhat more bearable after the loss of her son. What this meant now was that Henry was even more motivated to move forward towards his new path. He would have to get started soon if he wanted to become the mayor of Admorse.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 48 (Part 2)

[17th of November, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Outside Thedam Castle]

 

Rain’s birthday party went on into the night as the festivities carried on inside the castle. For Sorin, however, he wanted to spend some time by himself outside. It was not because he did not want to be there, but rather because he was waiting for someone to show up. He had spoken with this person in the morning before the party even started and told them to meet him outside the castle. Sorin waited by the gates as he wondered where they could be, but he had the feeling that there was but a slim chance that they would meet him. But Sorin continued to wait until he saw a familiar face dressed in a green cloak.

Sorin approached the man. “Rysol?”

“Hello… Is everything going well?” Rysol asked as he flipped back his hood. “I’m actually not supposed to be here… There’s still the chance that someone may be watching…”

Sorin looked around. Despite the brightness of the street lights, darkness draped over the kingdom with plenty of spaces for someone to hide. He began to wonder if there was anywhere the two of them could have their conversation without anyone eavesdropping on them.

“Still… I figured that it was important to see you,” Rysol said. “There’s a lot that we’ve learned over the past month… It truly isn’t over.”

“I see,” Sorin replied. “Listen, maybe there is a place we can talk without anyone overhearing us.”

“Very well,” Rysol said.

Sorin and Rysol then went from the castle gates over to the garden. It was dim, but it appeared that no one else was around, nor were there any places for someone to hide. Sorin scanned the garden, just to make sure, and led his brother inside. Rysol undid his cloak and dropped to the ground as he took out a folded sheet of paper and handed it to Sorin.

“We’ve been doing our best to make sure that Johan’s dream comes true,” Rysol said, “But as long as Foundation exists, we face adversity at every turn. It may be quiet now… but Jelka and I know that they’re not going to stop. As long as Isaac Kunigunde desires money, we will not see an end to the fighting and wars… That is, unless we do something about it…”

“What are you planning to do?” Sorin asked. “I know that we know he’s the one that was behind a lot of what the Neu Thekohnian Order did, but is there any way that we can prove it?”

“Luckily, Jelka did some digging at the Lead Campground,” Rysol replied. “We’ve obtained a few letters between Lauren Ahga and Foundation… Though I can’t exactly say how useful those letters will be…”

“How many letters are there, exactly?”

“Enough to cause an uproar should they be made public,” Rysol said. “I know that Johan had told me that there was some merit in holding onto these letters…”

“We should show them now,” Sorin said.

“I was thinking the same thing, but no,” Rysol said. “Johan… If there is a way we can topple Foundation, we have to take all of them down.”

“All of them?” Sorin asked. “Is Isaac Kunigunde not the only one we have to worry about?”

Rysol shifted his eyes over to the garden entrance. “That man is much too cautious,” he said. “We have a mastermind lurking about that’s smart enough not to get himself involved if it doesn’t benefit him… Besides, there are others that we need to worry about before we can even think of taking on Kunigunde.”

“You know them?”

“Even now, they’re running around like they know they can get away with it,” Rysol said. “They’re the leaders of countries… of many people… yet, they only care about personal gain.”

Sorin could not come up with a response. What else was there to say, he thought. He wondered about Rain and if she would even be able to make some sort of breakthrough if the other players were only looking out for themselves. The thought of such people made Sorin clench his fist.

“I used to have a lot of anger, too,” Rysol said. “It’s something to this day that I still feel… but once Johan spoke to me, I understood. I understood that we have to play this game out of sight and out of mind, because those who fight with public ideals face hardships no matter how strong they are.”

“Are you saying there’s no way we can expose these people?” Sorin asked. “What Isaac has done–no, what Foundation has done is unforgivable. They all wanted bloodshed in Thekohn and yet they get to walk away without a single repercussion?”

“Don’t you remember?” Rysol asked. “This fight has only just begun. They will lay low for now because acting right after Isla’s ousting would prove to be a bad idea. We must lay low, too, to prepare for what comes next.”

“So we need to get stronger,” Sorin said.

“Stronger and smarter,” Rysol replied. “I have no doubt in my mind about it… They will want to act fast once they’re ready.”

Sorin knew that Rysol was right. Whatever Foundation had planned, it was sure to be devastating unless Sorin and the others acted. But with the rest of the group unknown, Sorin was not sure how Foundation could be tackled.

“Do you happen to know anyone else?” Sorin asked. “If we’re to take on Foundation and win, we have to know who it is we’re going up against. You know, besides Isaac Kunigunde.”

“That… I don’t know,” Rysol replied. “I’m sorry, brother, but I have to go. It was already a risk being here… I don’t want anyone to notice me here, so I have to make haste.”

Before Sorin could respond, Rysol picked up his cloak and swirled it in the air and put it on. Rysol then dashed out of the garden until Sorin could not see him anymore.

“Damn it, there’s no choice, is there?” Sorin asked. “Johan… I know how difficult this was, but what can we do now?”

The truth was that Sorin knew what he had to do. He could not forget what was said that day, nor could he forget about Johan and his dream. Sorin would have to keep fighting if he wanted to defeat Foundation. Yet, there remained doubt about how he was going to help take them down. For one, Sorin had no idea who else was involved, but if what Rysol said was true, they wielded a lot of power. It would be no easy task to take down such people, but if Isla and Rhodes could be ousted, then there Sorin knew that the Foundation members could be taken down as well.

 

*****

 

[18th of November, 2740 AD; location unknown, Hurst, Iiayikohn]

 

With each passing day, Korbin trained with his newfound right arm in the underground facility inside his father’s company. It was made with a steel similar to that of Rysol Wilk’s left arm, though it possessed a tougher design and could wield weapons. However, one late night, Korbin tired of the training and kicked the practice dummy to the ground.

“This fucking sucks!” Korbin exclaimed. “When the fuck am I going to get my goddamn revenge!?”

Harold walked into the training room. “Do you wish to lose your life like you almost did? Well, do you? I swear to god, if it were not for your skills on the battlefield, you would be nothing more than worm food, you dumb, idiotic shithead!”

“Sorry, I’m just so worked up,” Korbin said. “Thanks for the arm, by the way! It really feels like an actual one!”

Harold grumbled. “You’ve still got to get used to it,” he said. “Making that arm cost a lot of money, so I expect that you use it well. That means you shouldn’t go around fucking up the rest of your body.”

Korbin grinned. “That won’t happen again, I promise you,” he replied. “Just let me loose and the Blood Ravens will fly again! Me and Bradley will be sure to tear through whatever stands in our way!”

“Listen to me, moron,” Harold said, “Casper is going through a lot as we speak. You are not to do anything that will jeopardize his chances, you got it? Because if you don’t…”

“Sheesh, I understand,” Korbin said. “I know how important it is, but still I can’t rest until I know that Rysol Wilk is dead! Nobody attacks me and fucking gets away with it!”

“Exercise your patience,” Harold replied. “In due time, you’ll be able to take care of all those who resist us.”

Korbin laughed aloud. “Then there’s still so much to do,” he said. “So much more… Ahahaha! What an amazing day! What an amazing day!”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter