Sundown – Chapter 15 (Part 2)

[10th of September, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Wings of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


Johan arrived at the top of the stairs. He looked around through the sunlit hallway as he saw a pair of open doors at his left. That had to be it, Johan thought to himself, as he walked between the parted doors into the conference room and saw the man he had to speak with: one Sir Lauren Ahga, who was speaking with Brook Rio Thedam. Both men turned as Johan walked towards them.

“I hope I’m not interrupting something important,” Johan said as he waved his hand. “Lauren Ahga, would you mind if speaking with me?”

Ahga turned to Brook. “It looks like I’m needed, Your Highness.”

“So this is the man you were talking about,” Brook said. “That’s fine. I’ve got some business of my own, after all.”

“Can’t keep Her Majesty waiting, can we?” Ahga asked.

“When she demands your presence, it is hard to decline,” Brook replied. “Then I shall leave you two to yourselves.”

Brook walked by Johan and left the room. With just the two of them inside, Ahga reached out his hand and shook hands with Johan.

“I’ve taken quite a bit of time out of my schedule for you,” Ahga said. “For a simple soldier in Ameci military, you’ve got a good reason for requesting my audience, do you not?”

Johan chuckled. “I think you know why I’m here, Sir Lauren,” he replied. “After that lovely conversation I had with your friend yesterday, I began to wonder to myself who exactly she was working for. That’s why I decided to pay you a visit.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on, is this the same Sir Lauren I spoke to a week prior?” Johan asked. “I remember you saying to me that there was going to be a storm brewing in the future. Who knew that you would have a connection to the catalyst?”

“I advise that you be careful with your next words,” Ahga said. “If you don’t, then I cannot say what will happen to you but it will be most unfortunate.”

Johan’s eyes widened. “Are you trying to unnerve me?”

“Take it as you will,” Ahga replied. “If you are trying to elicit an answer out of me regarding the Neu Thekohnian Order, then you will be disappointed.”

“Funny, I made no mention of them at all,” Johan said. “Guess I got the answer I wanted, after all.”

Ahga clenched his fist. “No, I’m not going to do that,” he said as his hand loosened. “I’m sorry, I almost lost myself for a minute there.”

“Good for both of us that you didn’t,” Johan replied. “It wouldn’t be a good look if the royal advisor to the Thedam family were to be found with blood his hands, would it? Especially not here.”

“You really think I’d resort to such savagery?” Ahga asked.

“Not at all,” Johan said. “In fact, I applaud you for not taking the easiest route and resorting to violence.”

“I would rather have someone else do my dirty work,” he said. “And besides, you’ve got no place to call me out about violence considering the sins committed by the Ameci fifteen years ago.”

“Believe me, Sir Lauren, when I say that I’m aware of the atrocities that war brings,” Johan replied. “How many families were torn apart? How many children were left without a home?”

“Too many, that much I know,” Ahga said. “It’s disgusting that we continue to pay respect to all of those that were responsible for the despair caused by the War of the Lands.”


“Let’s get back on topic,” Ahga replied. “You called me out on the Neu Thekohnian Order, so I might as well share with you what I know.”

“That won’t be necessary, Sir Lauren,” Johan said, brushing aside his hair with his hand. “I’ve already made a few connections based on what’s already happened. For example: the assassination of prime minister Alan Berry.”

Ahga gritted his teeth as his eyebrows furrowed.

“Your reaction tells me all that I need to know,” Johan said. “He was a close friend of yours, was he not? I’m very sorry about what happened to him.”

“Oh, that,” Ahga replied as his face eased up. “Yes, when I received the news, it left me devastated. Whoever did this is beyond redemption.”

“A bit extreme, but I do share your sentiment that it is devastating,” Johan replied. “After all that had went down, I was certain that we would have been on the road to peace. Looks like our work isn’t done, after all.”

“And yet no one seems to bat an eye around here,” Ahga said. “I’ve had my suspicions, but perhaps the Ahnlikohnian government has something to do with Alan’s assassination.”

Johan raised his eyebrows as he put his hands behind his back. “A bold claim,” he said. “Of course, I’ve heard that Harring and Berry were not exactly on the best of terms after the battle of Bel, but then again that’s not exactly something that you can base a claim off of.”

“Your ignorance is showing, soldier,” Ahga replied. “The chancellor has only his own interests in mind. As for the royal family of Ahnlikohn, that’s a different story.”

“Go on.”

“The crown prince, despite all appearances, is said to be a major pushover,” Ahga said. “Queen Amelia herself has only him to succeed the throne, despite the other prince.”

“Why not the other prince?”

“Again, it’s all due to appearances,” Ahga answered. “But even he cannot save this country by himself. If the Neu Thekohnian Order continues to gain power, then it will only get worse for the chancellor and the royal family.”

“Sounds like a real problem,” Johan said. “I can only imagine what would happen if something were to happen to one of the princes.”

“You mean the crown prince,” Ahga corrected. “That younger one would not last one second as the next in line. It all falls squarely on Prince Amile to succeed the queen here.”

“And what of your country?” Johan asked. “Who’s the next in line to rule the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn?”

“That’s something I’m not at liberty to tell,” Ahga answered. “Fortunately, they’ve got a secure plan in place should we come to desperate times. That’s the one of the main differences between the two royal families.”

Johan sighed. “I get it,” he said. “Well, I think you’re enjoying yourself here, if I’m being honest. If only I could stay for a little longer, but you’ve got much more important things to do than to talk to me.”

“That much is true,” Ahga said, “Though I’ll admit that you managed to keep me interested. Not bad for an Ameci.”

“Well, should we meet again, I hope it will be under more flexible terms,” Johan replied. “For now, though, I’ve got a date with a cute girl at the Sparrow Hotel and I wouldn’t be much of a gentleman if I were to be late.”

“Head off, then,” Ahga said. “I can understand when it concerns gaining the affection of a woman.”

“You think too much, Sir Lauren,” Johan said. “I will see you later, however, that I can assure you.”

Johan said his goodbyes to Lauren Ahga and left the conference room. He had gained enough information from his conversation, but still was not sure of how Ahga played into all of it. That would be something to think about later, that much Johan knew.




[10th of September, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Outdoor Lounge, Glora, Ahnlikohn]


The now moonlit lounge was illuminated by the lamps outside as Kiku entered by herself. Both Ayame and Igor were already asleep by the time she had snuck out as she wanted to meet Johan again. Within the lounge were some tables and chairs, but where Kiku wanted to sit was on the bench by the large, grey fountain. She took a seat and waited for him to show up; after a few minutes passed by, Johan entered the outdoor lounge and spotted her.

“So you are here, after all,” Johan said.

“Oh, Cookie!” Kiku said as she placed her hand on the open space next to her. “Come sit over here, next to me!”

Johan walked up to the bench. “You make an offer that’s pretty hard to refuse,” he said. “Do you engage other men like this?”

“Not just men,” she replied. “It doesn’t matter who, if they catch my interest, I want to know more about them.”

“I see,” Johan said, taking a seat next to Kiku. “I was lucky enough to find the hotel after standing around in the Wings of the Albatross for long. You know, it’s quite a venture on foot.”

“You walked all the way here?”

“Well, I was able to catch a ride from a passing driver,” he replied.

“If only I could arrange a ride for you,” Kiku said. “I could have had one of my friends come and pick you up. Oh, but you told me not to tell anyone about you, didn’t you?”

“That I did,” Johan said. “I am on a mission and having people know about my presence only hinders my progress.”

“I think I’ve figured out who you are, Cookie,” she said.

“You have?”

“But I’m not going to say it,” Kiku said. “I wouldn’t want to put your ‘mission’ in jeopardy, would I?”

She scooted up to Johan and grabbed his arm. Johan had a look of surprise on his face, but instantly responded by putting his arm across her shoulders.

“I really don’t know what you’re trying to do here,” he said.

“Yet you do so anyway,” she replied. “It’s usually much easier for me to tease guys compared to girls. Maybe that’s why I’ve taken such an interest in you.”

“We’ve not even known each other for a day,” Johan said. “Does that not cross your mind?”

“It does indeed, but that’s exactly why I want to know more about you,” Kiku answered. “Especially since you’re Wilkie’s friend and all.”

“Wilkie?” Johan asked. “Oh, I think you’re talking about him. He did say he and his girlfriend were visiting Kikuisha the other day, so I suppose that’s how you would have seen him.”

“You’re very good at figuring things out,” she said. “Say, Cookie, do you mind telling me what your mission is? At least… a little bit?”

“I can only give you the basic details,” he replied, “And only on one condition: you answer one of my questions.”

“That’s all?” Kiku asked. “Hehe, you could’ve have asked me to do anything beyond your wildest dreams and that’s the condition you set. Okay, I’ll do it.”

“I’m a simple man, Kiku,” he said. “My dream is to see a world where people don’t have to fight. A world where no war exists.”

“That is a nice dream.”

“My mission is to help make that dream come true,” Johan said. “What about you? What’s your dream?”

“A good question,” Kiku replied. “I guess you could say that one of my dreams is meet with as many cute guys and girls as possible. Another would be to have the greatest garden in the world. Although I guess they’re not as interesting as yours, are they?”

“Not at all,” he replied. “It’s always good to have dreams. The only question is what will you do those dreams possible.”

“I’ve never thought about it,” she said. “This is my first time leaving my home country, so I don’t have as much experience as I would like to have.”

“Everyone’s gotta start somewhere,” Johan said. “It doesn’t matter if you start as a child or as an adult, as long as you can begin work towards that dream, you can get ever closer to it.”

“You really know what to say, don’t you?”

“It’s part of what I know,” he said. “Do whatever it takes to achieve those goals of yours, Kiku, because I believe that you can do it.”

“If it were only that easy,” Kiku replied. “I dread the inevitability that I’ll succeed my mother as the Empress and thus lose my freedom.”

“I don’t think it has to be like that,” he said. “Your mother cares for you, right?”

“She does, indeed,” Kiku said. “I only wish that she would be more lenient.”

“Well, she must have her reasons,” Johan replied. “I do think that you have that potential to gain the freedom you desire while still serving your role as the next in line.”

“The way you say that makes you sound so wise, yet I know it’s not true,” she said. “If only it were so easy, Cookie, then maybe I’d go with you.”

“Sorry, but I wouldn’t allow that,” he said. “There’s always the chance I’m throwing myself into the face of danger, and I wouldn’t want you to be subject to that danger because of me.”

“You really care about me, don’t you?”

“Of course I do,” he answered. “Any friend of Sorin’s is a friend that I can trust and care about.”

“Your friendship is really close with him,” Kiku said. “Are you sure you just think of him as just a friend?”

“He’s been my friend since childhood,” Johan said. “Of course I consider his opinion of things above all else.”

“But you didn’t answer my question,” she replied. “Oh well, I suppose you wouldn’t answer that no matter how much I asked.”

She rested her head on Johan’s shoulder and grabbed his hand. He responded by looking up into the sky where an almost-full moon stared him in the face.

“If only I could have more time with you,” she said, “Maybe we’d have the chance to get even closer.”

“I… That sounds interesting, but I don’t want to rush anything,” he replied. “Not that it would be a bad thing to do any of that stuff with you.”

Kiku lifted her head and looked at Johan with a smile on her face. “Wow, what a naughty line of thinking you have,” she said. “I guess it can’t be helped when you’ve got someone as cute as me this close to you, though.”

“It’s not that,” he said. “I run the line with fantasy from time to time, but I do my best to keep myself grounded in reality.”

“And I guess you won’t tell me what these fantasies of yours are,” Kiku replied. “I can probably guess what they would be, anyway.”

“You seem certain of that.”

“Only because I’ve had similar thoughts about my closest friends,” she said. “Obviously I wouldn’t do things of that nature with them unless they were completely okay with it, but the thought does cross my mind.”

“Maybe you should think about what that future of yours holds,” Johan said. “In my opinion, a bond that’s meant to be shared between two people is something that you should be completely sure of and I’m not sure if that would involve the two of us.”

“Are you saying you don’t want to do it?” Kiku asked. “Or are you trying to convince yourself of that?”

Johan took a deep breath and exhaled. “That I can’t answer.”

“I knew it! You really do wish to fulfill your desires with me,” she replied. “Unfortunately for you, I do think it’d be too early for us to have that moment. Better luck next time!”

Kiku laughed as she rested her head on Johan’s chest once again. He could tell that she was getting tired, her subsequently yawning only confirming that notion.

“You really like to tease, don’t you?”

“Only because I can see how nervous it makes you,” she said. “If you want, you can tell how nervous I am if you put your hand to my chest.”

“I think I’m going to have to pass on that,” he said.

“You really are one of the good ones, aren’t you?” Kiku asked. She yawned again and closed her eyes. “Getting this close with me… if I could, I would give you a medal…”

“Maybe you can come up with that award later, Kiku,” Johan said. “Don’t you think you should get some rest, though?”

Kiku smiled as she attempted to wrap her arms around Johan’s torso. “I think I could just sleep here, honestly…”

“I really have somewhere to be,” he replied. “If you want, I could help you to your room.”

There wasn’t a response from Kiku as Johan looked at her. She had already went to sleep as he thought about what to do next.

“If there’s one thing to admire about you, it’s that you don’t let go,” he said as he tried to remove Kiku from himself. He moved her arms off of him and lifted his arm from her as he laid her sleeping body on the bench. As Johan finished his task, he heard the door to the lounge open and turned around to see Igor enter.

“Madame Izumi, are you here?” Igor asked. That was when he saw Johan standing by her. “You! What are you doing–”

Johan walked up to Igor and placed his hand on Igor’s mouth. “She’s sleeping,” he said quietly. “It would be good for you and I if you respected that.”

“But… fine,” Igor said as Johan removed his hand. “Who are you?”

“Just a friend of a friend,” Johan replied. “You are the bodyguard for Miss Izumi, correct?”

“I am, but how do you know that?” Igor asked.

“That doesn’t matter,” Johan said. “Just make sure that Miss Izumi gets her rest and make sure that you tell no one about this encounter.”

“What makes you think I’m going to do that?”

“Do you really want to go through this with me?” Johan asked. “Just do what I say, please. It’s in her best interests, after all.”

Igor sighed. “Okay,” he said. “Only because Madame Izumi would be irate if she were to sleep on her own.”

“Glad we can agree,” Johan said.

Igor walked over to the sleeping Kiku and picked her up. “You do look rather peaceful like this, Madame Izumi,” he said. “Okay, now what about him?”

He turned around but Johan had already left the lounge. There was no reason to pursue him at this point, Igor thought to himself, as he decided to carry Kiku back to her hotel room. Still, though, he had to wonder what exactly happen between the two of them. At the entrance to the hotel, though, Johan was already on his way to his next destination as he caught the next cab to the city of Helm.


To be continued…


Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 15 (Part 1)

[Dates unknown, 2725 AD; Kals Dale, Maeitakohn – Oak District]


(Noa’s Loss)


I still remember that day vividly. It was like a ghost that refused to leave alone. The screams of the people around me as the houses burned to the ground still ring in my ears, as well as the sight of soldiers storming through and torturing people. I can even remember what I was doing: my family was trying to evacuate their house when a couple of soldiers showed up at the front door.

“Open up!”

“We know you’re in there!”

As the knocks got louder and more violent, my mother and father looked to me and my older sister.

“We want you both to leave out the back,” said mother.

“But what… what about you!?” I asked.

There was no time for either of them to respond, however, as the door broke down and in came the soldiers. Father shoved the two of us aside as my sister and I rushed through the back of the house and out the back door.

“Wait up!”

It was too late, however, as the next sound I heard was the sound of gunshots that I could fear had taken the lives of my parents. There was little for my sister and I to do as we ventured out into the chaotic scene that was playing out on the outside. Fire was burning all throughout the neighborhood as trucks rolled through.

“We… we can’t be here!” My sister looked around. “Sorry, mother… father…”

She led the way, holding tightly to my hand as we climbed over the fence and into the park. There were some places to hide, but unfortunately there were already soldiers strewing about for either of us to move forward. From the distance I could see another child, an older boy, surrounded by two of the men as they threw him to the ground and started kicking him.

“Hey, there’s gotta be more people here, right?”

“Aren’t we supposed to just capture the target?”

“The general gave us an order, didn’t he?”

“Yeah! By any means possible! Who cares if these people die?”

“That’s right!”

I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I just wanted to do something, but instead I was too scared to move. That must have been the signal for those soldiers to notice my sister and I standing as she snapped out of her daze and looked at me.

“Run! Now!”

There was no response from my lips as I just did what she said and began to run. I continued to run and run, but something did not feel right. Taking cover behind the nearest bush, I looked up and saw that they had already caught her. What was going to happen now, I wondered. Though I knew the answer why, I wondered to myself why I could not move as those soldiers did the unthinkable.


Those were the last words my sister uttered as the next bullet took her life right before my eyes. Here I was, the complete coward, too afraid to do anything as she lost her life in place of mine. I had little time to think though, as the reality of what had happened struck me as I still had to run. Only the heavens know how I was able to make an escape, but escape I did.


A week had passed since the day I lost my family and I was just getting by to survive. Sneaking around the next town, I managed to sustain myself, but it eventually began to take a toll on me. During one of my ventures, I lacked the strength to move and collapsed to the ground. The next thing I knew, I woke up in a twin-sized bed to the smell of hot soup boiling on the stove.

I rubbed my eyes. “Where… am I?”

“So you’re awake.”

I looked up and saw a man dressed in a brown jacket and jeans standing at a stove. Apparently, he had found me earlier and had decided to take me in.

“I normally don’t care for kids,” he said, “But I saw you just wandering about and I had to do something.”

“Who are you?”

“It doesn’t matter who I am,” the man replied. “Listen, kid, I heard there was an attack last week in Kals Dale. You wouldn’t happen to from there, would you?”

Next thing I knew, I was crying. The man had decided to bring up a still bleeding wound and I had no idea how I would cope.

“You… don’t have to cry, kid,” he said. “I understand.”

He walked up to the bed and sat next to me. There was something comforting about him, even though I knew nothing about him.

“If it makes you feel better, you can travel with me,” he said. “At least until I can find you some shelter.”


“Maybe you should tell me your name and I’ll tell you mine. At least it won’t feel like I’m a complete stranger to you.”

I struggled through the tears but I managed to tell him my name. Then he told me his. It was a name that I was not sure to forget, even to this day. I knew that he was going to make good on his promise and I was indeed able to walk alongside him travelling the Thekohnian Region. Days turned into weeks, which became months and then soon as I knew it, three years had passed.




“You must be tired,” he said.

It had been a particularly long day, a summer day during the war in which he and I were setting up shop in Oelaans. The two of us spent the time providing weaponry for the Thekohnian military. I had grown a lot over three years, which was noticeable to everyone around me.

“He seems to be getting used to this sort of thing.”

All the man in the brown jacket could do was laugh. “Kid’s got a strong desire to fit in,” he said. “Can’t believe there was a time I was gonna just ignore this kid.”

He looked over at me with a smile on his face, as if to say it was a comment all in good fun. This man was right, however, because I truly did want a place to belong. Who knew that it would be by working over in Thekohn?

“Hold on one second,” the man said, “Looks like they need me over for something. Just stay put over here, okay?”

I nodded and he went off with two Thekohnian soldiers as I continued to disassemble weapons and put them in the box. We were supposed to head out to Bel the next day and deliver goods to the soldiers there. As I was working, I suddenly heard yelling from the other side. That caused me to look up and see the man in the brown jacket run to me.

“I’ve got no time to explain, kid, but we have to go right now!”

“What’s going on?”

“Just go!”

He rushed me along as we tried to escape the city. Seems there was another attack from the opposing military and we were caught up in it. I again was caught up in a power struggle between two nations, but this time was supposed to be different. Or so I thought. We found ourselves caught up surrounded by the enemy troops, three of them to be exact, as they had our guns pointed at us.

“Shit, this isn’t good,” he said.

I was too scared to speak. This time really felt like it was going to be it. Here I was, certain that I was going to die.

“Should we shoot you first, or the kid?”

The man in the brown jacket growled as he suddenly leapt forward without second thought. It caught the gunners by surprise as they all tried to aim at him, but the man was much too quick for them to focus. For some reason, they all ignored me as he continued to fight. Bullets were fired, but even as the man got hit, that still did not stop him from knocking out two of the three soldiers.

“Why won’t you die!?”

The man gritted his teeth as he locked hands with the remaining soldier. “You chose the wrong guy to fuck with,” he said. “Hey kid, why’re you still standing there like a frightened fawn!? Go! I’ll meet up with you later!”

His words startled me, but I did do what he said under the impression that we would meet again. I ran as far as my feet could take me, stumbling over until I could not run any more. My legs felt like sticks that were close to breaking, but at least I could tell that I was far enough from the scene to the point where none of those soldiers would come after me.

“Where am I now?”

The field was vast and long, green grass growing everywhere as I crawled over to the nearest stone and rested on it. I remembered what the man in the brown jacket said to me, that this was the Rio Plains just outside of the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. I was not far away from the boundaries of the kingdom and I wondered to myself if they were going to discover me. I could see someone the distance coming towards me, however, someone very familiar to me.

“So you’re here after all…”

The man in the brown jacket hobbled over to where I was sitting and dropped to the ground. He was covering his arm as I quickly turned him over to discover a major wound in his stomach. Blood was soaked throughout that part of his jacket as I panicked.

“You’re… you’re bleeding!” I exclaimed.

“Oh, that… that’s pretty bad, isn’t it?”

“That’s really bad!” I said. “I should get you to the hospital!”

The man laughed, which caused him to cough up blood. “The nearest one’s in that kingdom, right? Sorry, kid, but that’s not gonna happen.”

“Why not!?” I asked. “I don’t want you to die!”

“Think they’re going to take in a guy like me?” The man looked up into the sky. “Besides, it’s too late for me… I did all I could so you could escape. That’s my final gift to you.”

“D-Don’t talk like that,”  I said as I tried my best not to cry. “It’s too early for you to die! What will I do if you die!?”

“There’s… a guy I know,” he replied. “Of course… it’s going to be a long haul from here to Bel, but he’ll take you in.”

“But how can I get there?”

“Just… trust your instincts,” he said. “You’ve done well on your own before… All you have to do is ask for Karim Khadir.”

He coughed again, hacking up blood as I held onto him.

“I’m surprised I made it this long myself,” he said. “Don’t worry about me… kid. Just make sure you don’t forget me… Noa Mzade…”

His eyes closed for the final time. I did not want it to be true, but the man in the brown jacket was gone to the next life. I cried and cried as once again I was left behind all alone and without much certainty for the future, but he did leave me one bit of hope. That one bit of hope that I assumed would help me. It was those three words, “trust your instincts,” that gave me the ability to keep myself moving forward to where I am now.




[10th of September, 2740 AD; Tranquil Cardinal Inn, Helm, Ahnlikohn]


Night time approached as Noa sat back in his hotel room. He had gone over his past earlier with the others and now he had the time to reflect upon that past. Over in the corner of the room was Victor Wihll as Noa was tasked with watching over him to make sure he would not escape. Wihll stared at Noa as he quickly looked away.

“You shouldn’t fret yourself,” Wihll said, “I’m not planning on going anywhere. Not yet, at least.”

“Can I ask you a question?” Noa asked.

“I see no harm in that.”

“What happened that day? Why did they decide to attack our town?”

Wihll laughed. “That’s all you had to ask, huh,” he said. “Surely you would have figured that out by now, wouldn’t you?”

“I know that they were looking for someone,” Noa replied. “An escaped man, they said. But why did they decide to take us with them?”

“Because they are hypocrites,” Wihll replied. “Every last one of these leaders say they want peace, but behind all that is a legacy soaked in the blood of innocents. Innocents like you and I.”

“Please don’t associate yourself with me,” Noa said.

“Or what?” Wihll asked. “You really believe the lot of them? The same people whose fathers would gladly use us without a second thought?”

“I know one thing,” Noa replied. “I know that you had caused a lot of grief and havoc for all of us in Maeitakohn. You don’t take too kindly to anyone that challenges your beliefs and carried out attack after attack in the name of my country. Because of that, I cannot forgive you.”

“What a disgrace,” Wihll said. “After all they did to you? Your family? The man that had taken you in?”

“I ask the same to you,” Noa said. “You continue to hold this warped mindset even though you yourself killed many people. How many people died in that explosion?”

“Be that way, then,” Wihll replied as he turned to face the wall.

“I just want to understand why,” Noa said. “Why decide to through all the trouble? Was there a reason for joining the True Thekohnians?”

Wihll did not respond.

“You could answer my question!”

“Fuck you.”

Noa glared at Wihll. “I demand an answer!”

“Be quiet, Noa!” Mina yelled through the wall.

“I’m sorry,” Noa replied. “Just… trying to do something…”

“That is pathetic,” Wihll said.

Noa could not come up with a response, nor could he get Wihll to answer his question. All Noa could do now was sit back on top of his bed as the others were left to themselves. He wondered what they were saying and if any of their conversations were centered around him. There was a nagging feeling in his mind that they were laughing at him behind his back, but Noa did not want that to be true. He really did not want Wihll to be validated in any way, nor did he want to feel like he was being left out. No, Wihll was wrong. Noa just had to trust in that belief.


On the other side of the wall, Mina and Rain shared a room. The princess was busy sitting in her bed, writing in a book while Mina took to some brief training. With little space and no additional equipment, Mina decided to work on keeping herself in top shape for what was to come and do at least one hundred sit-ups.

“Ninety-nine,” she said as she got closer. “One hundred! Hey, Rain, are you watching?”

Rain looked up from her book. “I’ve been paying attention, yes,” she said. “You really do continue to impress me, Mighty Mina.”

“Aw, thanks,” Mina replied as she stood up. “What kind of book is that?”

“It’s just a travel log I’ve been writing in,” Rain answered. “I’m keeping all the details of this trip until I get back home.”

“Can I see it?”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t,” she replied. “Hope you understand.”

“It’s okay,” Mina said. “Do you think I can ask you something?”

“Go ahead.”

“So what will you do once we get to the kingdom?” Mina asked. “If your father is still feeling sick, what will happen?”

“He’s still being treated, last I’ve checked,” Rain said. “What does need to be done is to make sure that he does not die during the treatment. I’m worried that someone might try to sabotage his recovery.”

“That’s really bad,” Mina said.

“What also worries me is that we might not have enough time,” Rain said.

Mina leaned forward. “What do you mean?”

“That man, Victor Wihll, we can’t go anywhere until the Iiayikohnian military comes to arrest him,” she replied. “Fortunately we have Noa to keep watch of him, but we cannot let him walk free.”

“I agree,” Mina said.

“Well, of course you would, after all,” Rain said. “Anyway, perhaps we can spend some time talking about other things. Something to get our minds off of what’s been going on.”

“Okay, I can do that,” Mina replied. “I really enjoy talking to you, Rain!”

Rain smiled. “As do I with you.”


To be continued…


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Chapter 15 – Solo

[2740 AD; Rhodes Grand Hall in the President’s Palace]


There was one clear goal in Gavin’s mind at this point: stop Victor Wihll. Now was the time to do it, as he had the man responsible for injuring his brother and killing countless others in front of him. If there was any time for Gavin to prove himself, it would have to be now. It did not matter that Sorin would not be there to witness it. What did matter, though, was that this gave Gavin a chance to not hold anything back.

“Are you done thinking to yourself?” Wihll asked.

Gavin smirked. “I’m just giving you the last few moments to reflect on your pathetic life,” he answered, “Because the only one walking out of this room is the one who fights for justice!”

“What a fool,” Wihll said. “I’m sure as hell not going to make this easy for you, not one bit!”

Wihll lifted up his arm, gun in his hand, and aimed at Gavin. He fired at Gavin, who noticed just in time to dodge the bullet and run for the nearest column.

“Damn,” Gavin said. “How does he even manage to do that?”

“You talk a lot about justice and fighting, but hide the moment the gun is pointed at you,” Wihll said. “Perhaps I should applaud your cowardice!”

“Fuck off!” Gavin said.

He peeked from behind the column and made a quick shot at Wihll. The bullet just grazed Wihll’s shoulder and hit the wall behind him.

“So close, Mr. Power,” Wihll replied, “But not close enough!”

Gavin looked to the wall to his immediate right and scanned it all the way back to the entrance. That would be his breakaway. He sprinted away from the column, his gun still pointed at Wihll, and headed for the next column. Wihll turned, but Gavin was quick enough to fire off another shot. This one landed successfully on Wihll, striking him in his right arm. Wihll screamed and grabbed his arm as Gavin made it to the other column.

“You… now you’ve done it!” Wihll said. “I will destroy you!”

He laughed again. Gavin looked at his gun and counted the bullets he had left. Four. That was it. He had to make each shot count since Wihll did not seem to be bothered by his wound. Not one bullet could afford to miss.

“How can you even stand!?” Gavin asked. “You had a sword run through your gut, yet you manage to walk!”

“You never should doubt man’s desire to live when the stakes are high,” Wihll replied. “That’s how I’ve lived my life, and that’s how I’m going to end yours!”

“If you think you’re going to do that, you’re sorely mistaken, Victor Wihll!”

Gavin reached from behind the column and shot. Wihll did not move. Not even an inch separated the bullet’s trajectory from the side of Wihll’s head. Now there were only three left.

“Go ahead,” Wihll said. “Keep shooting! I’m having fun with this little duel of ours, how about you?”

“You’re having fun?” Gavin asked. “Then allow me to put an end to that!”

Gavin emerged from behind the column and ran towards Wihll. He had his gun out and fired a direct shot at Wihll, hitting him in the leg. Two. Wihll dropped to his knee, but still had a gun in his hand as he tried to aim at Gavin.

“I’m not gonna let you do that!” Gavin said.

He lifted his leg up and delivered a kick to Wihll’s hand, kicking the gun out and sending it flying to the wall. It caused the gun to fire off, hitting the ceiling as it did. Wihll looked up at Gavin, who was pointing his gun at him.

“Do it,” Wihll said. “Do it if you dare. You feel comfortable taking another man’s life? Then pull the trigger and kill me!”

“Don’t give me that crap,” Gavin said. “Only I get to decide when I can end you!”

“Is that so?” Wihll asked. “Just try it!”

Wihll reached out for Gavin’s arm and pulled Gavin to the ground. As Gavin hit the floor, Wihll jumped up to his feet and tried to make a break for the entrance. Gavin was not about to let Wihll get away, however, and aimed once more. With his second to last shot, Gavin’s shot hit Wihll in his unwounded shoulder. One more. Wihll stumbled to the ground and writhed in pain as he found himself next to another dead body. As Gavin stood up, Wihll eyed the silver gun and grabbed it.

“It’s now or never, Victor Wihll,” Gavin said. “As in: surrender now or never live!”

Wihll did not respond. His hand was still on the gun, but he did not move an inch.

“Then that’s your answer,” Gavin said. “Good riddance.”

He turned to the doors that Wihll banged on earlier and checked them. Just as he thought, they were locked. It seemed like there was no way to open them from this side. Gavin shook his head and turned around. Wihll stood in the middle of the room, blood all over his clothes, and had a gun trained on Gavin.


Wihll fired, catching Gavin off guard. The shot hit him in the chest, causing him to reach for it. Gavin yelled out as Wihll began to laugh yet again.

“How do you like me now?” Wihll asked. “It seems you were right after all: one of us is going to walk out of this room, and that person happens to be me!”

Gavin, with his gun in his hand, raised his arm. Shaking, his focus started at Wihll, but soon moved upward. There it was. With his final shot, Gavin shot up at the chandelier above. The bullet struck the chain, causing it to break. Wihll, who was still looking at Gavin, smiled and continued to laugh.

“You missed me completely!” Wihll said. “You call yourself a marksman? How do you even manage to miss!?”

Gavin scoffed. “Here’s the thing,” he said, “I don’t miss.”

That was when it came crashing down. The large chandelier fell from its place. Wihll looked up to realize that he did not have any time to react as the chandelier landed on top of him. A ton of glass shattered all over the room as Gavin shielded himself from the shards, but almost all of it landed at his feet instead.

“Looks like I get the last laugh,” Gavin said. “Fuck!”

He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out the diary Law had given him. A single bullet was lodged within as most of the pages appeared to be ruined. Gavin began to laugh, but stopped as the pain was still apparent.

“Son of a bitch, that still hurts,” he said. “Your luck really helped, didn’t it, Lawrence?”
With no way to move forward, Gavin decided that he would leave the hall. Seeing as there was no possible way that Wihll could have survived, Gavin made his way out of the hall and out into the courtyard. The rain had stopped as the clouds began to clear. In the distance, he could spot some trucks driving towards the palace.

“The military is arriving,” he said. “I need to inform them.”

Gavin ran towards the gate out of the courtyard and to where the trucks were going to be. He’d have to meet with Ayanna soon, anyway, and give an update on Wihll. As for Sorin and the others, Gavin hoped that they would be okay. He was certain that with Eva there, they would manage just fine and find Kirk and Henry before it was too late.


[2740 AD; war room in the Ameci Embassy – Rezar, Iiayikohn]


Gale looked out of the window of the embassy. She wondered to herself about what was happening. Was everything going to be okay? Would Sorin be alright? What about Rohan? She had to know. Gale turned around and looked at Rohan, who was talking to her father.

“It’s just Isaac,” she said. “It’s just Isaac…”

She repeated those words in her head as she walked up to Rohan sitting at the table. Gale took a deep breath and began to speak.

“Rohan,” she said. “I need to talk with you.”

“What is it?” Fercewend asked. “Is there something worrying you?”

“General, please,” Isaac said, “Our conversation is too complex for someone like her to understand.”

“Hold your tongue,” Fercewend said. “I’m talking to Gale.”

Isaac turned away with his arms crossed. Fercewend looked back at Gale once more.

“You had something you want to say to me?” Fercewend asked.

“It’s just one thing,” Gale said. “I’m nervous about what is going to happen in Maeitakohn. Especially with Gavin’s group.”

“You’re worried, aren’t you?”

Gale nodded. “It hasn’t been that long,” she said, “But I’m worried about their safety. The armies have already arrived in Maeitakohn, haven’t they?”

“From what I’ve been getting,” Fercewend said. “I want you to tell you something important.”

“What’s that?”

“We’re in a delicate situation now,” Fercewend answered. “We may have the True Thekohnians cornered in Bel, but there’s no guarantee that they are all there. The time will tell if further action is needed, but know that we will stop them no matter what it takes.”

“You are confident about that?” Gale asked.

“I know it,” Fercewend replied. “We were able to bring the War of the Lands to an end, so this should be no problem.”

“It’s just that I was thinking about what Eva told us,” Gale said. “I’m only hoping that you’re right and we can put a stop to this.”

“Some woman with a sword means nothing to us,” Isaac said. “Do you really think that she would even make any sense?”

“Isaac, please,” Fercewend said, “This is not your conversation.”

“I don’t even care,” Isaac said, “The fact of the matter is that regardless of what happens, we have already won. Is that not true?”

“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves,” Fercewend said. “Once we have confirmation, then we can start thinking about victory.”

“You really are interesting, cousin,” Isaac said. “You know what, go ahead. Keep talking to her. She’s the least of my concerns.”

“I am the least of your concerns?” Gale asked. “Do you not even care about anyone but yourself?”

“Silence, Gabrielle!” Isaac said. “I won’t hear another peep out of you, so do your best to remain quiet!”

Fercewend shook his head. “Isaac…”

“You wanted nothing to do with me my entire life, Isaac,” Gale said, “So why should I even listen to you now?”

“Because I am your father!”

“That might be true, but you don’t act like it,” Gale said. “After all the time I’ve spent on this travel, I know that there is no way you should even call yourself my father.”

“And what of it?” Isaac asked. “What good have you done? All you’ve been this entire time was just extra weight!”

Gale had no response.

“Who are you? I can answer that for you: no one. If it weren’t for your last name, do you even think that Kirk Wilk would bring you along?”

“That’s enough,” Fercewend said.

“Are you actually defending her?” Isaac asked. “Go on. It only proves my point.”

“The only point you’ve proven is mine,” Gale said. “As far as I am concerned, I no longer am your daughter!”

She ran out of the room and into the hallway. Isaac relaxed in his seat and turned back to Fercewend.

“The nerve of her!” Isaac said. “If it was not for me, she wouldn’t even exist in this world!”

“Isaac, I have a request for you,” Fercewend said.

“What do you want from me, cousin?”

“I want you to get out,” Fercewend replied.

“Pardon me?”

“Do I need to repeat myself again?” Fercewend asked.

“You will not let this go, will you?”

“Get the hell out,” Fercewend said, “Or so help me god I will force you out myself.”

Isaac scowled. “Fine,” he said. “It seems that my point was made, regardless. I’ll see you later, Rohan.”

He got up from his chair and proceeded to leave the room. Fercewend was by himself now as he looked at the map. The phone rang as he did, which led him to pick up the receiver.

“General Fercewend speaking,” he said. “What are the current conditions?”

“This is Aron Arrington of troop 35,” the voice said. “We’re in Bel now, sir. It’s stopped raining here, but that’s the least of our concerns.”

“What has happened?”

“It seems that we came late,” Aron replied. “The True Thekohnians… they all seem to be dead.”


“Not just them,” Aron said, “But the Maeitakohnian forces have been decimated as well.”

“What the hell?” Fercewend asked. “Do you have any idea what happened?”

“If I could, I would tell you, sir,” Aron answered. “I’m getting a little nervous, to be honest.”

“Keep your wits about you, lieutenant,” Fercewend said. “There might be something worse out there.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Have you seen Power yet, lieutenant?”

“I thought I saw someone hobbling off in the distance,” Aron said. “Hey, you!”

Fercewend waited. He was not certain about whether or not Gavin had survived, but Aron’s response gave him some hope. He started to hear the familiar yells of a certain sunglasses wearing soldier fill the air.

“Hold on, will you?” Aron said to Gavin. “Looks like we’ve reunited, sir.”

“Give me that phone!” Gavin said.

Fercewend could hear the two men fight over the phone. He cleared his throat, which grabbed the attention of both Aron and Gavin.

“Don’t make me wait,” Fercewend said. “Put him on already.”

Aron sighed. “Okay.”

“General Fercewend!” Gavin said.

“I’m right here,” Fercewend replied. “What is the update, lieutenant?”

“It’s a massacre, sir,” Gavin answered. “As for the primary threat, I can safely say that you will not have to worry about him.”

“I take it you took care of him?” Fercewend asked.

“Who else?”

Fercewend laughed. “I will take your word for it,” he said. “Have you met with Major Ansa?”


[2740 AD; President’s Palace – Outer Courtyard West]


“Negative, sir,” Gavin replied. “I am waiting for her to arrive.”

He looked over at Aron, who had his arms crossed. Several other trucks had arrived by now, parked just outside of the gates. Soldiers got out of the trucks and headed towards the palace.

“The others should be okay,” Gavin said.

“Are they not with you?” Fercewend asked.

“I was busy taking care of the primary threat, sir,” Gavin replied. “The others went on ahead after the targets.”

“Give the phone back to Arrington,” Fercewend said.

“Are you sure, sir?” Gavin asked.

“I’m sure.”

Gavin sighed. “Here,” he said to Aron. “I thank you for your time, sir. I will see you again.”

He handed the phone to Aron and walked off. As the soldiers moved in, Gavin wondered if he should continue to wait for Ayanna or head back to the President’s Palace and reunite with Eva, Sorin, and Mina. The decision was made for him, though, when he spotted Ayanna from not too far off.

“Gavin!” Ayanna said.

She ran up to Gavin and caught her breath. The Iiayikohnian military had arrived and followed the Ameci forces toward the palace.

“Nice to see you again,” Gavin said. “How is he?”

“He’s as talkative as ever,” she replied.

“About the same, then.”

“Where are the others?” Ayanna asked. “Are they okay?”

“They should be fine,” Gavin answered. “I have a feeling that they’ve already reunited with who they were looking for.”

“So you don’t know if they’re okay, do you?”

Gavin shifted his eyes over to the palace. “All I can say is that Wihll is dead,” he said. “As long as that man and Lokke are out, the rest of the remaining True Thekohnians will fall.”

Ayanna looked at the bullet hole in Gavin’s coat. “No blood?”

“Unbelievable,” he replied as he pulled Law’s diary out. “If I told anyone else that it was because of this book that I survived a direct gunshot, they’d laugh in my face!”

“I doubt that even he’d expect that,” Ayanna said, “But he was thinking of you, after all.”

“Guess there’s no use debating it,” Gavin said. “I suppose I should head back to the palace and see what’s taking them so long.”

“I’ll go with you,” Ayanna said.

They headed off back to the palace, hoping that Sorin, Eva, and Mina had met up with Kirk and Henry. With most of the threats taken care of, it seemed that there was only one thing to worry about now: President Rhodes.


To be continued…


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