[24th of December, 2740 AD; Quiet Falcon Train Station, Helm, Ahnlikohn]
Kirk hopped off the train and onto the platform nearby. He had made it to Ahnlikohn without much delay and now had another hour long break before he had to head off to Iiayikohn. He looked around the train station as people quietly kept to themselves as he went to the lobby.
“Seems everyone here is still reeling,” he said.
He was certain about the fact that the impact left by Foundation was sure to be felt by the people of Ahnlikohn, but to see it up close was a different story. Kirk had come through Helm in the past before and each time he found the people to be friendly and inviting. Anywhere he went, Kirk was sure to bump into someone who was willing to greet him and tell him stories about the locale. Now, however, all appeared to be quiet as distrust loomed in the air. Kirk could see a few people give him strange looks as he picked up a map and opened it.
“I have to stop him,” Kirk said. “What he’s done is unforgivable.”
As Kirk took a seat, however, an old woman approached him up front. He looked up from his map and caught her staring at him, though her forest green earmuffs caught his attention as well.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” Kirk asked.
“You… You couldn’t be him,” the forest green old woman said. “Your hair matches his, but you look much older than the description.”
“Tell me,” Kirk said.
“That man they say killed the chancellor, what was his name? You wouldn’t happen to know, would you?”
Kirk shook his head. “I can’t help you there, ma’am,” he said. “I’m waiting for the next train, that’s all.”
The old woman adjusted her earmuffs. “You really don’t know, do you? Oh well.”
“I’m just going through here, that’s it,” Kirk said. “I don’t have any clues about this man you’re talking about.”
“Well, you must’ve heard the news, right?”
“That I did,” Kirk replied. “I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.”
“They say he was spotted up in Glora earlier,” the old woman said. “I don’t know it if it’s true, but maybe he feels guilty about what he’s done.”
“He was there?” Kirk asked. “Impossible…”
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” Kirk said. “You say he was in Glora today?”
“Yes, that’s what I’ve heard,” she replied. “The description matches him down to the last little bit: tall, long hair, and bearded! Couldn’t mistake him for anyone else! Well, I guess I did with you earlier, but you’d forgive me, wouldn’t you?”
As the old woman laughed, Kirk began to think. Was it Rysol? No, there was no way it could be him. Unless there was more to this story, Kirk had to dismiss it. He had no reason to believe what the old woman told him was true, but what if it was? As he thought about it more and more, Kirk wondered if he should head to Glora in order to investigate. But he had to make sure of his idea first.
“Where did you hear this from, anyway?” Kirk asked.
“Oh, I heard it from one of the officers,” she answered.
Kirk put down the map. “You are certain of that?”
“I may be old, but I’m not forgetful, dear,” the old woman said. “Nor would I lie to you. Heck, I don’t even know you!”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Kirk said.
“Why, you’re welcome,” she said. “I knew good people like you still existed in this world!”
Kirk thanked her once more and stood up. He put the map back where he found it and headed outside of the train station. There was no telling what waited for him in Glora, but now Kirk needed to see for himself. If he was going to get closer to finding Rysol and, in the process, Harold, then Kirk needed to act on his notion and take the next ride to the great city to the north.
“Even if it’s just a chance, I have to take it,” Kirk said. “If you’re out there up in Glora, Rysol, then wait for me! I’ll help both you and Sorin out!”
[24th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Castle Upper Balcony]
It did not take Sorin long for him to find Eva. She was looking out over the balcony when he entered. Sorin tried to enter without making much of a noise, but she was quick to notice his entrance.
“I thought I told you not to follow me,” Eva said. “Forget it. What’s the point if you don’t even listen?”
“Eva, please listen to me,” Sorin said.
“What are you going to say to me this time?” Eva asked. “Did Mina come with you, too?”
“No, I didn’t ask her to,” he replied. “I came here on my own because I care about you. You’re my friend.”
“You really think I’m your friend?”
“I’d like to think so, Eva,” Sorin said. “I don’t know exactly what it is that you’re going through, to be honest, but I can’t continue to sit by and let you beat yourself up.”
“Surely you can understand it when I say ‘leave me alone,’ don’t you,” Eva said, which she followed up with a sigh. “You really are just like him, I swear to god…”
“What is it?” Sorin asked.
“You want to help, but I’ve already told you that I don’t need it,” Eva said. “I don’t understand why the two of you are so god damned stubborn when it comes to listening to others.”
“Regardless, there’s no turning back,” Sorin said. “There is more at stake than just us. Rain is doing her best to lead, even with the weight of everything on her back, and she needs our support. I think that’s why my father decided to head out, because I know he wouldn’t leave us without a good reason.”
“I don’t doubt his intentions,” Eva replied. “I’m worried because I… I guess I’m worried because I fear the worst.”
It was then that Eva explained to Sorin about her fears. After the battle in Bel, Kirk had suffered a minor injury to his ankle. He had promised to Eva that he would not fight again, but she had a feeling deep in the back of her mind that that wish would wait for a while. Kirk was older than he was when Eva first met him, and she had been through loss as well. Even when they had returned to Ameci, the nightmares did not go away as Eva found it difficult to live peacefully with Kirk. Yet still, Eva found herself in a difficult position of not wanting to lose Kirk versus her desire of not wanting to be alone.
“You’re not alone,” Sorin said. “You have everyone here and I’m sure they’d all sing praises about you.”
“They all mean well, I’m sure, but I can’t accept it,” Eva said.
“Why not?” Sorin asked.
“Because I don’t deserve it,” she replied. “I don’t want them to worry about me; in fact, I think it’d be best if they didn’t think about me at all.”
“Please don’t say that,” Sorin said.
“Why? It’s true,” Eva said. “In my life, the people who’ve shown generosity toward me usually end up injured or dead. Especially the people I’ve cared for… Their deaths still haunt me, even now.”
“It’s not your fault,” Sorin replied. “You had nothing to do with their deaths, so please don’t blame yourself.”
“As much as I want to believe that, I… I don’t think I can,” Eva said. “I wish I could be done with this, but I know I can’t rest until this is over. Not as long as Isaac Kunigunde is still around. As long as that man continues to walk freely, I’ll have to keep fighting.”
“You don’t have to fight,” Sorin said.
“Do you doubt me?” Eva asked. “I will waste no time making sure that Isaac pays for his crimes. He and Dezine were behind Alan’s death and I want nothing more than to finish them off myself.”
“I don’t doubt you,” Sorin replied. “As your friend, I’m worried about you. I don’t want to see you get hurt, much like I don’t want my father to get hurt.”
“I won’t get hurt,” Eva said. “I’ve fought many battles over the years and have survived each one. Losing isn’t an option to me.”
“But if that’s the case, then maybe it’s better to sit this one out,” Sorin said. “Not once have I ever doubted you, but I know you must be going through a lot right now.”
“Thank you for being concerned, but I’m not going to quit,” Eva replied. “If there’s only one thing I’m good at, it’s swordfighting. I’m not going to put down my blade just because you feel worried about me.”
Sorin knew that he was not going to win the argument. “Okay, I got it,” he said. “I won’t press you on it anymore.”
“Good,” Eva said. “I do feel a lot better now.”
“I guess I just had some stuff I had to get off my chest,” Eva said. “I’m still worried about Kirk, but even he’s not stubborn enough to throw himself into a fight that he can’t win.”
“He’ll be back soon,” Sorin said. “He’s gone so many years on his own, that I’m sure this is a breeze to him.”
“And like a breeze, Mighty Mina enters spectacularly!” Mina exclaimed. “Here I am!”
Sorin and Eva looked out to the balcony entrance. Mina stood in between the open doors as she pumped her fist into the air and struck a pose.
“How long have you been there?” Eva asked Mina.
“Oh, I just got here,” Mina answered. “Why do you ask?”
Eva shook her head. “It’s nothing.”
“Were you looking for us?” Sorin asked.
“Of course I was,” Mina said. “I was looking for you for a few minutes, then I got an idea and looked in the upstairs hallway! It was then that I found you two out here!”
“Well, you found us,” Sorin said.
“Oh, that’s right,” Mina said. “There was something else I needed to tell you about. Actually, can you two keep a secret?”
“We can do that,” Eva replied.
“I guess I really don’t need to ask Sorin,” Mina said. “Well, it’s about Ayanna and Law. I was busy getting something to eat when I overheard them and I could have sworn I heard them talking about marriage!”
Eva sighed. “That’s just Law,” she said. “He probably said it out of nowhere just to get a reaction out of her.”
“Well, no, it was Ayanna who brought it up first,” Mina replied. “Law was the one who sounded shocked!”
“Law was the one who got caught off guard?” Sorin asked. “That’s news to me.”
“I kind of didn’t want to listen because it’s not nice to eavesdrop,” Mina said, “But I didn’t want to get up from where I was sitting, so I was listening either way.”
“It can’t be helped,” Eva said. “Anyway, we have time to ask them later once we’re done planning.”
“You’re right,” Mina said. “Let’s go downstairs and meet with the others! I’m sure Rain’s got something good planned that will help us win!”
There was a sense of relief from Sorin that they were about to head down, but he knew that there was something to Eva that he just could not shake. He had no clue how to tackle the problem directly, but Sorin had to keep it in mind. Until then, though, all Sorin could do was see what Rain had planned.
[24th of December, 2740 AD; Thekohnian Border, outside of Thekohn]
The base camp was set up several miles from Oelaans. Korbin looked to both Bradley and Erik as they were fully aware of what they were about to do. After the events in Glora, now was the time to strike once more, this time on the city of Oelaans. It was sure to attract the attention of the kingdom, which Korbin knew would draw out his target. As the three loaded up their weapons, Bradley chuckled as he looked at the sky above Oelaans through his binoculars.
“It’s a nice view, isn’t it?” Bradley asked.
“They got a view?” Korbin asked as he took the binoculars from Bradley and saw for himself. “What are you talking about? It’s the same boring shit we saw before!”
“Not after we’re done with it,” Bradley said. “We’re going to send a message to the queen on behalf of Isaac. Make her know the real meaning of fear and whatnot, you got it?”
“That’s a good idea to me,” Erik said. “Well, the rest of the guys look ready. Want to rally the boys, Korbin?”
Korbin put down the binoculars and turned to the mass of soldiers behind him. They had been given a generous amount of soldiers to join their side and Korbin knew that they could not waste their chance. He had to get them riled up and ready to go for the attack. That was when Korbin cracked a smile and began to laugh.
“You ready, motherfuckers?” Korbin asked the soldiers. “We’re gonna go all out and make our presence known!”
He was met with a roaring response. Korbin knew then he had his moment and had the soldiers at his will. This was going to satisfy him, Korbin thought to himself, as he raised his fist to the air with his thumb and pinky extended. Now Korbin was ready.
“Repeat after me,” Korbin said, “Long live the Blood Ravens!”
And like that, the soldiers repeated his words.
“You’re catching on fast, Korb,” Bradley said. “Anything else you want to say to them before we strike tonight?”
Korbin grinned. “We won’t stop until the entire city of Oelaans is in ash,” he said. “Hell, we won’t stop until the entire kingdom is burned to the ground! Who’s with me!?”
The raucous response was music to Korbin’s ears. He had the backing of not only the Ameci military, but Foundation as well. And with Iiayikohn now at their side, Korbin was sure to impress. He would face off again with Sorin in no time, that much he was certain of as he looked to his newly built arm. As the roars of the soldier’s continued on, Korbin looked to Oelaans once more.
To be continued…
Previous | Next Chapter