[22nd of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle King’s Office]
Isla paced around the room from end to end when the phone rang. Lauren Ahga hurried over and picked up the receiver, understanding that this call had to be from Foundation. There was a lot that was riding on this call and Ahga did not want to jeopardize the deal between the Queen of Thekohn and Foundation. With a spouted sigh, Ahga placed the receiver to the side of his face.
“Hello, this is Sir Lauren Ahga,” he said. “Am I to understand that this call is coming from Foundation?”
“What sort of babble are you on, Mr. Ahga?” Isaac Kunigunde asked. “You should already know why I’m calling you!”
“Right, right, I’m sorry for questioning you, Mr. Kunigunde,” Ahga replied. “You already got the news, didn’t you?”
“You have a hard time of finishing the deal, it seems,” Isaac said. “I abhor such incompetence. Remember that I possess the ability to end this deal any time I want. You don’t want to walk away empty-handed, now do you?:
“I promise that the nuisances will be taken care of,” Ahga said. “I will bring the best of the best to stop them before they even get to Oelaans.”
“I doubt that you would be able to do so, given what you’ve already failed to do,” Isaac replied. “It is looking more and more like a mistake to even trust you to do the simplest of tasks. How hard is it to dispose of that woman, anyway?”
“It’s not like she’s traveling alone,” Ahga replied. “Her Highness has already attained strong allies in such a short amount of time!”
“And what about that backstabbing shrew?” Isaac asked. “You couldn’t even keep her under your control after all we’ve done for her, so what makes you think that the rest of your squad will even listen to you from now on?”
“I ask that you do not doubt me, Mr. Kunigunde,” Ahga said. “I still have the advantage, don’t forget that.”
“I wonder how long that will really last,” Isaac said. He then uttered a soft chuckle. “You would do well to let us handle things from here, Sir Lauren. It does not bode well for you that they’re already closing in on your mansion, you know. Time to let the big boys handle all the heavy lifting, wouldn’t you agree?”
“That’s my job, damn you,” Ahga said. “Besides, there’s no way that your men will ever make it there on time!”
“You fail to listen, Mr. Ahga,” Isaac said. “Or are you beginning to lose your hearing after these years? Oh, maybe I should speak slower so you’ll understand better, or maybe I should put it into a more simple language so a man like you can understand.”
“Don’t mock me,” Ahga replied. “I will get this job done, even if it means I have to kill her myself!”
“I’m not going to hold my breath on that,” Isaac said. “I’ve already won the game, anyway, regardless of what happens. Getting the Blood Ravens to kill the princess is merely just a cherry atop the summit of my sundae.”
“You… You wouldn’t dare go back on your word, now would you?” Ahga asked. “Answer me!”
But there was no response as Isaac had already hung up on the other end. Ahga slammed the receiver down on the phone as he stormed away from the table and towards Isla. She had stopped pacing and looked at him as he reached for her hands.
“Isla, dear, I’m sorry,” Ahga said.
“Don’t be sorry,” she replied. “Once we’re done with our problem, we’ll retaliate against these Ameci and Iiayi scoundrels and teach them not to mess with the Royal Family of Thekohn!”
Ahga nodded and smiled. “I wouldn’t have expected any less of you,” he said. “Your determination is a much needed morale booster, Your Majesty, and I only hope to see the full extent of it once we are together.”
“You’re spending too much time with your head in the clouds, Sir Lauren,” Isla said. “Now go, Sir Lauren! Go and eliminate that pathetic group off the face of this earth!”
“Very well,” he replied. “I promise that I will not disappoint you!”
Ahga then left the room and headed out. With him out, Isla turned to the window as a smirk began to form upon her face.
“That fool truly has no subtlety, does he,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what he does, anyway, since I’m going to be the one who wins in the end!”
[22nd of September, 2740 AD; Habicht Forest – Thekohn Side, outside of Oelaans, Thekohn]
After what felt like hours, Sorin and the others had made it out of the forest and were in the country of Thekohn. It had been a long walk, but everyone knew that the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn and Thedam Castle were not that far off from where they were. Sorin put a hand of his eyes as he tried to minimize the amount of sunlight glaring down on him the moment he left the forest. Rain took a step forward and looked over the large amount of land that stood before her before Mina decided to hug her.
“We made it out, Rain,” Mina said. “Oh, but now we have to head towards Mr. Ahga’s mansion, don’t we?”
“I’m afraid that it’s not going to be that easy,” Rain said.
“We don’t have to go there,” Pekka said. “It would be easier if we just skipped that place and booked it to Oelaans.”
“I don’t want to run from him,” Rain replied. “He may be an awful person, but he still cared for me and was my mentor. To run away from him would be like admitting defeat.”
She looked over the field again. Indeed, Ahga Manor was visible from the distance amidst the fields of grass and trees around. A light wind rusted through the land as Rain took another step forward.
“Mina, Sorin, Luna, Pekka, this will be our toughest endeavor yet,” Rain said. “We’re going to have to face off against him and stop him by any means necessary, even if that means taking the most extreme measure.”
“Is that okay with you, Rain?” Mina asked. “I know he’s a villain, but I know he means a lot to you as well. I can’t imagine that feeling…”
“He’s already made it clear,” Rain replied. “Sir Lauren intends to use the extreme with us, so we should not hesitate to do the same. Besides… I can’t forgive him or my mother for what they’ve done…”
She trailed off and lowered her head. Mina placed her hands on Rain’s face and looked right into her eyes while the other three watched.
“You can sound confident all you want, Rain, but I know this is difficult for you!” Mina exclaimed. “I can’t… No, I won’t allow someone I love to even begin to doubt herself! We are fighting together! All of us! And if you can’t do what it takes to face against these villains, then I’ll be there to help you!”
“That’s right,” Luna said. “We’re all going to be there when we confront this Mr. Ahga, so you don’t have to feel like your taking this burden all on your own. You can count on us to be your cheerleaders!”
Pekka laughed. “We will be much more than that,” he said. “This Sir Lauren Ahga wants us dead? He doesn’t even know how far we’re willing to go just to put a stop to him, that poor bastard!”
Rain felt an ease in her heart as the frown on her face turn to a smile. “I know that you guys are doing your best to cheer me up,” she said. “How would I be able to tell you otherwise at this point?”
“It was never going to be easy,” Sorin said, “But that’s why you set out on this journey in the first place. Now you’ve got an entire group of people doing their best to help and I’m sure that they would agree.”
“We aren’t going to give up,” Mina said. “I’m not going to doubt myself if things get too tough and neither will you!”
“Thank you,” Rain said. “I would never even begin to doubt myself, Mina. Not when I have you.”
Mina giggled. “You… You really do mean that,” she said. “But yes! Yes, it’s all because we’re here now that we have a chance to defeat this evil!”
“It’s nice to hear that,” Rain said. “Now let’s hurry over and pay Sir Lauren a visit, shall we?”
They moved on and went towards the Ahga Manor where Rain knew Lauren Ahga would be waiting. She could feel it, somehow, that inside that vast mansion, her mentor and guardian was waiting there for her to arrive. All Rain could do as she and the others walked was wonder if this was her destiny to face off against the one she had trusted for all her life. There was no doubt in Rain’s mind, however, that she would have to fight Ahga with everything that she had. Now was not the time to hold back, she thought. With Ahga Manor drawing closer, Rain could see that Luna was in awe.
“It’s so big,” Luna said. “Why the hell does this guy need such a big house?”
Finally, they had arrived. Ahga Manor stood before them in all of its glory behind the rusted metal fence. Vines covered the two-storied brick exterior as Rain noticed the rusty gate had already been unlocked, which she had predicted. There was no doubt that Ahga had arrived first.
“I think the more important thing is finding out where Mr. Ahga is,” Pekka said. “I can only imagine how many rooms this joint has, so we have to keep our guard up just in case.”
“There’s no one around,” Sorin said, “But the gate is open and there’s no doubt that he’s got Neu Thekohnians waiting with him on the inside.”
Mina punched the air before her. “Then we’ll have to find him before he finds us,” she said, “And once we do, we’ll kick his butt until he gives up!”
“I should hope that we only need to kick his butt and nothing else,” Rain replied. “Yet even I know that that may not be possible…”
“We will win,” Sorin said. “Not only will we beat Sir Lauren, we will stop the Neu Thekohnian Order and Queen Isla as well. All we have to do is believe that it will happen.”
“All we need to do is believe in ourselves?” Pekka asked. He grinned as he flexed his arm. “I don’t need to do that in order to know that the Neu Thekohnian Order will go down. They were doomed to fail from the very beginning!”
Rain pushed the gate open. “Don’t worry, Sir Lauren, we’ll make sure that this visit will not be one you’ll forget,” she said. “Let’s go!”
On the other side of the fence, Rain walked up to the front door but stopped as she noticed the doorknob turn. She reached for the handle of her blade as the door began to creak as did Sorin while Luna took out her knife.
“Stand back,” Rain said.
The door opened and revealed not Lauren Ahga, but instead Johan Kuu. Rain looked on at him with surprised as her hand drifted away from the handle of her sword. Everyone else slowly did the same as Johan opened the door all the way and walked out.
“Congratulations on making it to Ahga Manor,” Johan said. “If only I had a prize but alas I have nothing on me. Well, I do have some cookies if you want them. Anyone?”
“You can’t tempt us with food!” Mina exclaimed. “Even if I could go for a cookie right about now… No, now’s not the time!”
“Where’s Ahga, Johan?” Sorin asked.
“He’s waiting upstairs,” Johan replied. “I’ve already let him know that you’ve arrived, so it’d be best to come in before anyone notices.”
Sorin stared at Johan. “What do you mean?”
“Buddy, there’s something you and everyone here needs to know,” Johan said. “It’s crucial and we must hurry inside. Just trust me.”
“What makes you think we’ll trust you now?” Pekka asked. “You’ve already double-crossed us once before, you know.”
Johan sighed and shook his head. “Perhaps I expected too much out of you all,” he said. “If I can’t get you get you to listen, then I must walk away.”
He turned around and went back inside the mansion, closing the door behind him. Sorin banged on the door and tried to open it, but found it to be locked instead.
“Damn it, you can’t get away with this!” Sorin exclaimed. “Mina, help me break this door down!”
Mina pumped her fists. “I’d be glad to!”
Rain, Luna, and Pekka all backed up as Sorin and Mina lined up side by side and faced the front door. Together they charged at the door and used their combined strength to break the door open. Sorin rammed into the door shoulder first as did Mina. Their impact proved to be enough as the door broke open and revealed Ahga Manor’s interior. However, Sorin was distraught as Johan was nowhere to be seen.
“He got away,” Sorin said as he pounded the front door. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”
“The fact remains that he’s still inside,” Rain said. “Both him and Sir Lauren.”
“So how are we doing this?” Pekka asked. “Clearly we’ve got to deal with both of them, but we’ll be setting ourselves up for a trap if we chase one and not the other.”
“That is true,” Rain said. “But we have to find them both and we must stop Sir Lauren. That remains unchanged.”
“I’ve got it,” Sorin said. “I’ll go after Johan and you pursue Ahga. Mina, can I count on you for your help?”
“You need me?” Mina asked. “But I was looking forward to taking on Mr. Ahga with Rain!”
Rain placed her hand on Mina’s back. “I think that you would do well to aid Sorin,” she said. “Besides, once you two finish with Johan, you two can just join up with me later.”
“Then I’ll do it,” Mina replied. “Just you wait, Johan, me and Sorin are going to take you on, just you wait!”
Sorin smiled as he and Mina hurried into the mansion as Rain looked to Luna and Pekka. She had faith that those two would handle matters with Johan Kuu. Now all Rain needed to do was confront Lauren Ahga and defeat one of the heads of the Neu Thekohnian Order.
“You’re thinking about going for Ahga by yourself, aren’t you?” Pekka asked. “At the very least, allow me to assist you.”
“Thank you,” Rain said. “You are coming too, aren’t you, Luna?”
“Oh, of course I am,” Luna replied. “I can’t just forgive this guy at all for doing this stuff! The Neu Thekohnian Order made it personal with my family and I’m going to make sure that Mr. Ahga pays for it! I would be glad to help you take this foul man down!”
“Then I’ve got no choice,” Rain said. “Let’s go.”
Rain led the way inside with Luna and Pekka behind her. Their assistance was much needed, though Rain knew that she had to settle things with Lauren Ahga by herself. Everything came down to this moment, Rain thought, knowing full well that a great confrontation awaited her upstairs.
To be continued…