Sundown – Chapter 30 (Part 2)

[17th of September, 2740 AD; Copper Hotel, Oelaans, Thekohn – Felis District]

 

Inside the hotel, everyone met inside the lounge as Sorin began to explain to Gavin, Law, and Eva everything that had happened within the royal kingdom. Rain and Mina also added in details, as did Storm, with Gavin not once breaking his focus away from Sorin. Once Sorin finished going over the details, they were all ready to speak until Mina jumped in.

“You guys actually found my mom?” Mina asked.

“Seems like it,” Gavin replied. “Of course, there’s no way to confirm it until we head back to Rezar.”

“Well, thank you, Gavin,” Mina said. “I don’t know how I can repay you guys for what you’ve done.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Gavin said. “I’m just happy that we’re able to give you a chance to meet your mother.”

“I’d think Mina has a lot of questions she would probably like to ask her,” Eva said.

“Speaking of questions, I’ve got one,” Law said. “Who do you think I should congratulate: Her Highness or Mina? On one hand, Mina’s the kind of woman one would love to have a chance with, but on the other is the Princess of Thekohn.”

“Get serious, Lawrence,” Gavin said as he slapped Law on the back of his head. “We’re here to discuss our next move, though I guess I should say that I’m happy for the two of them.”

“Thank you for that, Gavin,” Rain said. “As for our next move, I think we should make our way back to Iiayikohn. We’re not in the kingdom, technically, but I don’t feel like we’ll be safe staying here in Oelaans for much longer.”

“They’ll be too focused on setting up their attack,” Law said. “It’s a damn shame it’s come to this. All of Ahnlikohn is going to be under duress when we should be trying to take down the real leader of the gang.”

“I still can’t believe that the queen would be behind the Neu Thekohnian Order,” Eva said. “It shouldn’t make sense.”

“It must be especially tough for both of you,” Law said to Rain and Storm. “Not exactly a candidate for mother of the year, is she?”

“She was always so nice before,” Storm said. “I remember when I had finished my preliminary studies, she and father congratulated me. To think that she would just turn on us…”

“Even if we don’t know why, we have to stop her,” Eva said. “Do the two of you understand?”

“I do,” Storm replied. “She might be my mother, but she and Sir Lauren cannot be allowed to get away with this.”

“Don’t worry, sister, we’ll take care of them,” Rain said. “I’m not going to waver even if it hurts in my heart, because I know what we must do to defeat the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“That’s good and all, but how will we do that?” Pariton asked. “It’ll be tough to gain access back into the kingdom as long as we know they’ll be there.”

“No doubt they’ve got their military ready as well,” Law said. “They’re not exactly something a small team like us would be able to overpower, no matter how skilled we are.”

“We can’t just give up!” Luna exclaimed. “You guys took down those True Thekohnians, didn’t you? Why couldn’t you just do it here?”

Law snickered. “Well, lovely Luna, I wasn’t there,” he said. “My bro would tell you that a lot had happened there, though.”

“By the time we came face to face with Victor Wihll, many of his men were already dead,” Gavin said. “All thanks to Sorin’s brother, of course. That’s a man that doesn’t know the meaning of the word fear.”

“I don’t think that that’s possible,” Sorin said. “I mean, we did see him in Jiaikohn and he was certainly surprised to see us there.”

“Who knows?” Gavin asked. “What matters is that things are different this time around. The True Thekohnians were not controlled by such a high ranking person, whereas the Neu Thekohnian Order is being led by the Queen of Thekohn. We’re going to need a real plan this time.”

“So we’re going to need to get back to Rezar in order to do that, then,” Sorin said. “We should hurry.”

“Then we’ll waste no time,” Gavin said. “I hope all of you are ready.”

“Yeah, and perhaps I should sit next to Luna on the train ride back,” Law said. “I’ve only just met her and I’d like to pick her brain on the way.”

“That sounds gross,” Luna replied. “Are you going to use some sort of hook to go in my ears and pull out my brain and look at it or something?”

“That’s not exactly what that means,” Pariton said.

“And I wouldn’t suggest sitting next to him, either,” Eva said.

“Really? I mean, I guess I should trust what you say,” Luna said, “Because there must be some reason you don’t want me sitting next to him besides the whole wanting to see inside my head thing.”

“Come on Lawrence, you’re sitting next to me,” Gavin said.

“Guilty as charged, I guess,” Law replied. “Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to learn about our young, new ally later.”

Everyone then decided to leave the hotel and head for the train station. As they arrived, however, there were several guards blocking off the entrance as a crowd of people started to form.

“What’s happening now?” Sorin asked.

“This can’t be good,” Rain said as she walked up to one of the guards. “I’m sorry, but we need to head to Iiayikohn immediately.”

“I can’t do that, Your Highness,” the guard replied. “As of today, we are to bar anyone from entering Ahnlikohn.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Rain said. “Damn it all, we can’t let this happen!”

Rain turned away from the guard and headed back to the group. A blaring horn sounded out as everyone turned towards the exit to the kingdom where the sound came from. Many people began heading towards the source of the sound as Rain and the others decided to go see what it was all about. At the right of the gate was a stage, set up for a presentation as members of the Royal Thekohnian Army made their way on stage.

“Is this some sort of show, perhaps?” Luna asked.

“It’s not that,” Rain answered. “No, this is far from some sort of show.”

“This hasn’t been done in years,” Storm said. “I can’t believe they would actually go through with this.”

“Must be to set an example,” Rain replied. “They found someone they could use as a scapegoat.”

“What are you two talking about?” Mina asked.

“Long ago, the kingdom used to hold public executions,” Rain said. “Mostly to make a statement against people who’d break the law. They ended up retiring the practice when my father took the throne but now that he’s gone, it looks like they’re bringing it back for this moment.”

“Public executions, huh,” Law said. “Sounds like Queen Isla’s ready to flex that ruling muscle all over the Thekohnian Region and what better way to show it than to perform an execution.”

“Not a lot we can do about it, is there?” Sorin asked.

“I… don’t think I can watch,” Luna said. “This all sounds so gruesome.”

Up on the stage, Lauren Ahga made his way to the center with Johan right behind him. Johan angled his head toward one of the soldiers at the steps, leading them to direct the person set to be executed onto the stage. The person’s face was obscured by a sack on his head and his arms tied behind his back as he was led to the center where Ahga stood.

“Very good, very good,” Ahga said. “Let’s get this show going, shall we?”

“If you must, Sir Lauren,” Johan replied. “Sit him down on his knees, now.”

The soldier forced the man to his knees and bound the restraint holding his hands together to another rope that then got tied to a latch on the floor. With no possible way to escape, the man struggled as Ahga removed the sack on his head. To most of the crowd’s surprise, Victor Wihll’s bruised, beaten face displayed for everyone to see.

“They turned on him?” Mina asked. “But they were working together!”

“Calm down, Mina,” Rain said. “I have a feeling that they were planning to turn on him from the start.”

“And Johan seems to be okay with this,” Pariton said.

Luna covered her eyes, but took a peek between her fingers. “He would do this, that traitor!”

Sorin sighed. “I still can’t understand…”

With no warning, Ahga pulled out a gun and pointed it at Wihll’s head. The Thekohnian soldiers then started to push the crowd back as everyone started to move away.

“Victor, I must say it’s truly a wonder you’ve been able to survive for this long,” Ahga said. “To think you were crushed beneath a chandelier, beaten to near death, and stabbed several times is quite a testament to your willpower. But no longer!”

Wihll started to cough, hacking up blood all over the floor. “When I see in you hell, I’m going to make your life ten times worse!”

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make a mess of this stage,” Ahga said, hitting Wihll with the barrel of his gun. “You have always been that insignificant little worm that always manages to find a way to keep on living. If you were born a better man, then perhaps that trait would be admirable. Alas, you are but a simple thug that turned to a life with the True Thekohnians.”

“I don’t need your false pity,” Wihll said. “If you’re going to kill me, then make it quick.”

“Ask and you shall receive,” Ahga said as he loaded his gun. “What’s really funny to me is that all you’ve ever fought for turned out to be a lie.”

Before Wihll could have any chance to answer, Ahga put the barrel of his gun to Wihll’s temple and pulled the trigger. A single shot rang out throughout the city of Oelaans. A single shot was all that it took to end Wihll’s life as his corpse leaned forward, only to be stopped by the restraint behind him.

“Oh god!” Luna dove her face into Pariton’s shoulder as he held her tight.

“That’s how it ends for Victor Wihll, I suppose,” Law said as he clenched his fist. “I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I’m angry.”

“Wihll was used,” Eva said. “He’s killed someone important to me, but I can understand why you’d feel so angry.”

“He and I weren’t that different,” Noa said. “If the circumstances were any different, then it might’ve been me on that stage with a bullet through his head.”

Gavin grumbled as he adjusted his sunglasses. “There’s no way any of us would ever forgive him for what he’s done, but I agree,” he said. “Especially when it’s Ahga who killed him.”

“We can keep talking about Wihll later,” Rain said. “We have to leave now, though, or else they’ll notice us.”

“Good point,” Eva replied.

“How are we going to leave, though?” Mina asked. “They blocked off the way to Ahnlikohn!”

“Don’t tell me you forgot how we got here, Mina,” Law replied. “Bro, we’re gonna make some room for the rest of them, right?”

“It’ll be crowded,” Gavin said, “Though I’m sure we’ll find a way.”

“There’s a better way,” Rain said. “There’s a bus that heads out towards Bel which will take us a bit longer to get to Rezar, but it’ll be worth it.”

“What are we waiting for, then?” Law asked. “Sorin, you still with us?”

“I am,” Sorin said. “I was just deep in thought. Let’s go.”

As Sorin and the others left the area, Johan was busy watching over the stage as he noticed his friend leaving. He decided to keep his mouth shut as Ahga and some of the Thekohnian soldiers wrapped up Wihll’s corpse in order to carry it off the stage. Johan continued to watch as Sorin left with his friends, though, as a smile formed on his face.

“This game is getting a lot more fun now, isn’t it, Sorin?”

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 30 (Part 1)

[17th of September, 2740 AD; New Prime Minister’s Office, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

After a busy day in Bel Dale, Ayanna received word from Henry about the potential attack towards the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. However, there was little that she could do as General Reiss told her that the Thekohnian military had already taken care of the problem. With little else to do, Ayanna ordered her troops to pull out and head back to Rezar. Inside Ayanna’s office, she and Gale awaited for Henry to arrive.

“It’s strange, isn’t it?” Gale asked.

“What is it?” Ayanna asked.

“We got the news that the Neu Thekohnian Order was going to attack the kingdom yesterday but then heard that the Thekohnian military was already prepared,” Gale said. “This may sound paranoid, but it seems too convenient, don’t you think?”

“We’ve got no choice,” Ayanna replied. “It was a direct response from the queen, according to General Reiss.”

“I know that,” Gale replied, “But I can’t help but shake the feeling that there’s something wrong with all of this. The rescue mission went off without too much trouble, but we found out about the attack only to learn it had been taken care of. Surely there has to be an explanation.”

“Well, I’d try to ask Queen Isla, but she’s already left for her homeland,” Ayanna said. “Not a lot we can do there, I’m afraid.”

Henry opened the door and entered the office. “Hope I’m not barging on any personal conversation.”

“Oh no, no,” Ayanna said. “I assume you’ve already made the necessary moves going forward?”

“About that,” Henry said, “The Ameci military has already received word to set forth into Ahnlikohn starting next week. I do not know whether or not the Iiayikohnian forces have received a similar order, but I am informing you that I will be leaving today to help set up camp in Habicht.”

“I have not been informed on any advancement into Ahnlikohn, actually,” Ayanna replied. “That will be an interesting conversation with General Reiss, I’m sure, but thank you for letting me know what the Ameci military is going to do next.”

“We only have one option in times like these,” Henry said. “Keep moving forward, no matter the cost.”

“That is your motto, isn’t it,” Gale said.

“It is indeed,” Henry replied.

“But is it worth it if you don’t know what the goal is?” Gale asked. “Why exactly are you being placed in Ahnlikohn when we all know that the Neu Thekohnian Order has been wreaking havoc all over the region?”

Henry shook his head. “These are just the orders I’ve been given,” he said, “And while I am in good standing with my colleagues back in Ameci, I’d prefer not to rock the boat regarding the little things.”

“This hardly seems like a ‘little thing,’ though,” Gale said.

“Well, it’s not exactly something that’s within my control,” Henry replied. “Thus, I would say that to me that this is a little thing, but I suppose it’s all about the perspective.”

“Anyway, is that all you wanted to inform me about?” Ayanna asked.

“That’s about it,” Henry said. “I’m not sure if I’ll meet anyone from the Iiayi military over in Ahnlikohn, but I do hope that I’ll be able to meet with you again, Lieutenant General Ansa.”

“As do I, Junior Lieutenant Randolph,” Ayanna replied. “May we meet again.”

Henry saluted her and left the room, closing the door behind him. Ayanna set back to her documents when the phone on her desk rang. She reached for the receiver and picked up, placing to her ear.

“This is Lieutenant General Ayanna Ansa speaking,” she said. “Yes, she’s here. I’ll hand the phone over.”

Gale received the phone from Ayanna and began to speak. “Hello, who is this? Oh, Sorin! How are you?”

The door opened again and revealed General Reiss. He entered the office, leaving the door open behind him as he stood across from Ayanna.

“Ansa, I’ve come with important news,” he said. “It’s rather urgent, so I need you to come with me now.”

“Okay, I’ll wrap things up here,” Ayanna replied. “Gale, I’m afraid you’ll have to cut your call short because I’m going to lock my office.”

“Hold on,” Gale said. She listened intently to what Sorin had to say. “That can’t be possible… What should I do? … Okay, I’ll try to do that. Listen, I’ll try to call you back. Where are you? … Stay there and I will give you a call later. Tell Gavin that I’d want to speak with him, too. … I love you. Goodbye.”

She handed the phone back to Ayanna, who promptly placed it back on the hook. Ayanna stood up and moved her desk as Gale followed her.

“Gale, I have to meet with the prime minister now,” Ayanna said. “I don’t what he’s going to say but I want you to meet me back at my home. You know where to go, right?”

Gale nodded. “I do.”

“Then I will see you there, Miss Kunigunde,” Ayanna replied. “Let’s go, general.”

Ayanna left with General Reiss as Gale hurried out as well. With Ayanna locking the door to her office, Gale did not have much to do for now. She decided to leave the prime minister’s office and head outside into the city. As there was nowhere else to go to, Gale decided to head back towards Drake Rask’s house. That was then when she ended up bumping into Kirk Wilk, Lowell Page, and Tre Hendricks, who were standing outside of the cafe on the other side of the street.

“Oh, Kirk, you’re still here?” Gale asked.

“Yeah, just doing some catching up,” Kirk replied. “It’s been an interesting past few days, hasn’t it?”

“I know,” Gale said. “A lot has happened… Say, would you mind hearing me out? It’s pretty important.”

“Who are we to deny listening to a beautiful, young lady like you?” Tre asked. “We ain’t the kind the kind of guys to turn that sort of thing down, are we Lowell?”

“Sure, why not?” Lowell asked. “We’ve got some time before that Dezine fellow goes out to make his speech.”

This was the first time Gale had heard this. “There’s going to be a speech?”

“Just announced it, seems like,” Tre replied. “Something big is going to happen, I can feel it.”

Lowell scoffed. “They’re gonna say they’ll strike back,” he said, “But it’s all just a big show for Dezine’s chance to take the reigns.”

“That man has been waiting for a while to become the prime minister,” Kirk said. “Looks like he’s fully embraced his role now and he’s going to make sure that he doesn’t let go.”

“But we shouldn’t bore you with those details,” Tre said to Gale. “You’ve got other things on your mind, for sure.”

“Right, let’s go in and I’ll tell you everything,” Gale replied.

 

*****

 

Gale took her time to relay all of the information that Sorin had given her in the phone call. Kirk nodded and listened to every word with intent as Lowell and Tre also paid attention. Once Gale finished, she rested her hands on the table and awaited Kirk’s response.

“You’ve told no one else, correct?” Kirk asked.

“I was asked not to tell anyone in the Ameci or Iiayi militaries,” Gale said, “When I saw you, that’s when I decided that I should tell you guys.”

“Then you’ve made the right choice,” Kirk said. “I’d never thought I’d hear such a thing happening in the kingdom, but I don’t believe that my son would lie about this.”

“I just can’t process the fact that the queen is the mastermind behind the Neu Thekohnian Order,” Lowell said. “And the fact that she would have the gall to not only deceive the rest of us into attacking Ahnlikohn, but to have her own children killed? Goddamn psychopathic, if you ask me.”

“It’s all paranoia, I’d wager,” Tre said. “If you want to cover up your tracks, best to tie up all of the loose ends.”

“Fortunately, the hope of the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn is still alive,” Kirk said, “And she’s fortunate enough to travel with my son.”

“Isn’t supposed to be the other way around?” Tre asked. “You gotta think that with all this journeying, there might be a little more going on than them being allies?”

Gale glared at Tre. “Can you please stay on topic, Mr. Hendricks?”

“Ah sorry, Gale, where are my manners?” Tre laughed and took a drink of his coffee. “Well, there must be something we can do, right?”

“What do you mean?” Lowell asked.

“We’re not gonna just sit here in the mud and let what we’ve fought for go to waste,” Tre said. “I’ll be damned if we can’t find a way to help Sorin and his pals out! How about it, you two?”

“Alan’s our brother,” Lowell replied. “I guess I can’t just let his name be forgotten, can I? I’ll do it, especially if it means I’ll get to kick some ass.”

Kirk crossed his arms. “I’ve told Eva that I wouldn’t fight,” he said, “But this is a crisis and I’m sure that she would the same way.”

“You really think you can still fight?” Gale asked. “Not that I’m trying to sound insensitive or anything, but…”

“Gale, it doesn’t matter how old the three of us are,” Kirk replied. “What matters is that the heart of a warrior still beats within each one of us.”

“I like that,” Tre said. “It’s like a poem or a limerick of some sort.”

“Aren’t those the same thing?” Lowell asked.

“Nah, Lowell, a poem’s got rhyme and rhythm while a limerick’s just a humorous and raunchy lyric,” Tre replied. “Although now that I think about it, perhaps maybe they are one and the same.”

“We can talk about that later,” Kirk said. “It appears like Dezine’s set to make his speech now, though.”

He pointed outside, to which the others looked to see many people heading towards Iiayine Castle’s Macro Plaza. Kirk decided to stand up and head out as Lowell and Tre did the same. Gale hurried with them, too, so they could get a good look at Dezine when he will make his speech. As they went through the crowds that were now rapidly forming, Gale was able to secure a spot where she and the other three could get a good look.

“They’ve got this whole thing set up for him and everything,” Lowell said. “Definitely going to be a big speech here.”

On stage, eveything from the banners to the podium was decorated with flashy and sparkling ornaments. Gale assumed it was for Dezine to stand out and have his own look, but she felt the whole display to be gaudy. Several guards came out of the castle and onto the stage, with Wilson Dezine finally making his appearance to the sound of applause.

“It’s the man himself,” Tre said. “How’s he gonna start this one off, I wonder?”

Dezine waved to the crowd as they cheered him on and walked over to the podium. He grasped either side of the podium as the microphone feedback lightly rang throughout the speakers. With a smile on his face, Dezine adjusted the microphone and cleared his throat.

“People of Iiayikohn, I speak to you today because you are in a crisis,” he began. “After the events that had transpired over the past week, it has come to my attention that now more than ever this country needs to reclaim its glory.”

“Reclaim our glory?” Gale asked. “What is he talking about?”

“Let’s see,” Kirk said.

Dezine slammed his fist on the podium. “I must respond to these attacks on this country with a multitude of new measures,” he said. “With all due respect to the fallen prime minister, Alan Berry, this would not be the time for hesitation. No, now is the time for action!”

People began to clap as Dezine took in the applause.

“He’s leading up to the big one first,” Tre said. “No better way to start off a speech like this than to come out swinging hard.”

“I shall send a message to the nation of Ahnlikohn that these attacks will not be tolerated and that begins with retaliation!” Dezine exclaimed. “If they believe that they can get away with this, then they are sorely mistaken when they mess with me!”

More applause followed as Kirk looked to Lowell.

“You can tell, too, can’t you?” Kirk asked.

“It certainly looks like he’s having fun with his newfound privilege,” Lowell replied.

“They’re all cheering for war,” Gale said. “Do they really want bloodshed?”

“Nah, I doubt it,” Tre said. “This is a desperate time and Dezine’s just taking advantage of them while they’re vulnerable.”

“I guess, but it is a little disheartening to hear,” Gale replied.

“I know you feel,” Tre said. “We just gotta keep hoping and keep fighting, that’s all.”

Dezine continued. “In addition, I will introduce new measures to ensure that violent acts committed against me, the prime minister, will never happen again,” he said. “One of which is the ‘Prime Minister Protection Act,’ while the other is the ‘Iiayikohnian Security Act.’ Both these laws will be brought about in order to establish a new path forward in which I will lead you to a stronger and much more secure Iiayikohn than the one you’ve been living in!”

“Only he will do that?” Tre asked. “Man, when you stand him up against Alan, it’s like night and day!”

“It’s not going to matter right away,” Lowell said. “That’s how it’ll work.”

“What do you think will happen?” Gale asked.

“Optimistically, perhaps he’ll be the stepping stone for a brighter future,” Kirk answered. “Worst case scenario? Well, I can’t even begin to imagine.”

“Come on, Kirk,” Lowell said, “You’ve heard this kind of rhetoric before. You’d be a fool to think that Dezine’s anything more than a power hungry prick determined to do what he sees fit!”

“I agree,” Tre said, “Though maybe I wouldn’t call him a prick. That’d be an insult to needles.”

“You know where I was going with that,” Lowell replied.

“It seems like we’ve learned all we need to from this speech, anyway,” Kirk said. “No use hearing the rest out.”

“Are you sure?” Gale asked.

“If there’s anything we need to know, we’ll just read it in the paper or hear it on the radio,” Kirk replied.

“Okay,” Gale said. “Would you mind going with me to Lieutenant General Ansa’s house?”

“You got something in mind?” Tre asked.

“There’s something I want to talk to her about,” she replied. “I just think that you guys might want to be there as well.”

“Sure, why not,” Kirk said. “I think you’ve got an idea of what we should do now, so why don’t you lead the way Miss Kunigunde?”

Gale agreed and led the three men out of the crowd and towards Ayanna’s house located in the Tera District. Dezine continued to get a generous applause as he concluded his speech while Gale could only think about what was happening in Oelaans with Sorin and the others.

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 29 (Part 2)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Royal Hospital]

 

Night had come as Sorin leaned on the wall. He looked out of the window to the castle that was not that far from the hospital that he had made it into. Rain and Storm had stayed at Brook’s side the moment they had arrived, never once leaving him while Mina tried to offer her support. Noa, meanwhile, sat outside the treatment ward and sighed to himself.

“It’s rough, isn’t it?” Noa said.

“I know it is,” Sorin replied. “I hate to admit it, but it’s pretty bleak right about now.”

“What are you guys going to do now?” Noa asked.

“I’ll have to talk to Rain, I guess,” Sorin said. “This was her mission and I guess we never had the chance to succeed.”

“When the enemy is your friend, I guess it’s that much more difficult,” Noa said. “Sorry about what happened with that Johan guy, by the way.”

“You don’t need to apologize for that,” Sorin said. “No one could have seen that coming, not even me. To think he’d just turn on us like that…”

That was when Storm barged out of the room Brook was staying in with tears in her eyes. Mina hurried behind Storm and tried to console her. Storm just cried as Mina embraced her.

“What happened?” Sorin asked.

“It’s Brook,” Mina replied as she had her hand on Storm’s back. “He’s… they said that the wound to his vitals were very bad.”

Sorin was confused. “Very bad? Don’t tell me he’s already…”

“Dead,” Noa said. “They can’t treat him because the wounds he sustained did enough damage that it’d be too difficult to operate on.”

“No, this isn’t right,” Sorin said. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

A dreadful silence filled the room as Rain entered. She had her head down as she walked over to the wall nearby. Nothing could be said now that one of the most important people to her had now departed. With a pained sigh, Rain slammed the palm of her hand directly on the wall.

“Why?” Rain asked. “Why are we the ones to suffer? Was this all just one big lie? Was this journey all for naught?”

“Rain, I’m so sorry,” Sorin said.

“My mother and my most trusted ally, they were just planning to kill us all from the very beginning,” Rain said. “I thought that I would be able to prevent my father from meeting his end, but in the end I was a fool. A stupid fool to even believe that I could make even the slightest bit of difference.”

“We can’t give up now,” Mina said, “We have to stop them!”

“Can we, though?” Rain asked. “They’ve got the Neu Thekohnian Order plus the Thekohnian military on their side. There’s very little that we can do now, lest we just run away.”

“I wouldn’t mind doing that,” Noa said.

“Is that really what you believe?” Sorin asked. “That doesn’t sound like the Rain I know.”

“It’s no use,” Rain replied. “What can we really do?”

“I’ll tell you what you can do,” Mina said, “You keep fighting with us. Fight for Brook. Fight for Storm. Fight for all of the good people that live here in the Thekohnian Region, because that’s what heroes do!”

“Mina, thank you, but I don’t know,” Rain said. “How are we going to keep fighting against a force like the Neu Thekohnian Order and my mother?”

“I have no idea,” Mina said, “But we can’t just sit here and do nothing! We have to keep fighting!”

“Is that going to work, though?” Rain asked. “I don’t know if we can really do it. I’ve always believed that we’d be able to succeed, but now I don’t know if I can believe any more.”

“We believe in you,” Sorin said. “Every last one of us believes in you, so you should believe in us and in yourself. They may have the upper hand now, but that’s no reason to give into despair.”

“Yeah! We have to do this for all of the people who believe in us,” Mina said, “And I’m not just saying this because I believe in you, but because I love you! Nothing is going to stop us as long as we keep believing in each other!”

Rain rubbed her eye. “Thank you, Mina,” she said. “You, Sorin, and Noa… I really should thank you three for still believing in me, even when I could not.”

“Even me?” Noa asked. “I couldn’t do anything. I almost ran away; I could have left you to die!”

“But you didn’t,” Mina replied. “You stayed with us even if you were about to pee your pants in fear of Victor Wihll! That’s really heroic of you!”

“Well, thanks,” Noa said. “That means you still want my help, even if I still lied to you?”

“Of course,” Sorin said. “Though I wonder what you are going to call yourself now.”

“You can keep calling me Noa,” he replied. “That’s the man you know me as and that’s the man I’ll continue to fight as. It’s the least I can do to honor the man who took care of me all those years ago.”

Luna then entered the room with Pariton, who had part of his shirt torn off and wrapped around his shoulder. He moved away from her and approached Sorin as Luna tried to stop him.

“You’re still bleeding!” Luna exclaimed. “Just let me take you to one of these doctors and they’ll help you out because that’s their job and they’ll really make sure that you’re all patched up and ready to go!”

“It’s nothing but a scratch,” Pariton said.

“You’re okay?” Sorin asked.

“I was able to hold Victor off for long enough,” Pariton replied. “He just shrugged me off in the end and left as soon as he could. I guess Luna here was lucky enough to be standing outside, because that’s why she dragged me in here. Guess it was a good thing she did.”

“You’re right about that, Pekka,” Luna replied. “Any longer and you’d be lying on the ground getting an infection or something and you’d no longer be able to use that arm, which would have meant that you’d have to get it amputated!”

“I’ve been in worse fights,” Pariton said. “Anyway, if it’s not too much to ask of you, would you be so kind as to let us join you?”

“Wait, what?” Luna asked. “I mean, I’ve got nothing against them, but are you sure that we can trust them?”

“There’s no other choice,” Pariton replied. “Mr. Wilk, if it’s okay with you, we would like to help you in any way we can.”

Sorin looked over to Rain and Mina. “What do you think?”

“Right now, we need the help,” Rain said. “If they want to help us, then I see no problem in letting them join our cause.”

“We’d be happy to,” Mina said. “What you did back there really helped us out, you know!”

“Well, I’ve got to atone for my sins somehow,” Pariton said. “Victor and I were once colleagues, but Johan had shown me the way. Since you’re his friend, I assume you can feel the same sort of betrayal that I feel, and that’s why I want to help stop him and the rest of the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“You know, there is one thing I want to ask Johan before you do anything to him,” Sorin said. “That’s my main reason for helping Rain right now: so I can hear from him his answer.”

“I want to hear it, too!” Luna said. “Fine, then I’ll join you guys as well! I’m Luna Del Bosque, the third oldest of the Del Bosque family. Glad to make your acquaintance, everyone!”

She shook Sorin’s hand and then Mina’s, followed by Rain afterwards.

“Nice meeting you too, Miss Del Bosque,” Rain said.

“I still can’t believe that I’m actually shaking hands with the princess of Thekohn, though,” Luna said, “It’s like one of my dreams, except I’m actually living it and you and your sister are here! Wait, what about that Judy guy, though?”

“It’s not ‘Judy,’ it’s Guda,” Noa said, “And I prefer to be called Noa.”

“Don’t you worry about Noa,” Mina said. “He can aim a rifle pretty good, but talking to women isn’t exactly his strength!”

“Oh no, that won’t do,” Luna said. “You need to get out there and stop being so afraid of women!”

“I think not,” Noa replied. “Just let me be and let me do what I’m good at.”

Luna nudged onto Noa. “No, I’m serious.”

“Luna, drop it,” Pariton said. “Anyway, it looks like we’ll need to get out of here before they find out where we are.”

“What should we do?” Sorin wondered.

“A regroup is necessary,” Rain said. “I think having Gavin and the others with us would be imperative to helping stop this mess.”

“That would be a great idea,” Mina said. “Certainly with Ayanna, she could help and maybe even with the help of the Iiayi and Ameci militaries as well, we could begin our counterattack!”

“No, I don’t think it’d be wise to enlist the help from any of the militaries,” Rain replied. “All it would do would drive us deeper into a war we don’t want.”

“Then what do you suggest?” Pariton asked.

“Let’s head over to Oelaans and see if we can get in contact with them,” Rain said. “If they’re still in Bel, then we’ll know where to call.”

“What about me?” Storm asked. “I guess I can’t stay here, even if I wanted to be with brother one last time…”

“I’m sorry,” Rain replied. “I know it’s very painful to leave him behind like this but we have to keep moving forward, at least for his sake. He would have wanted us to do so.”

Storm sniffled. “Okay,” she said. “I suppose we can go now before the busses shut down for the night.”

“It’s settled, then,” Sorin said. “Let’s go now before it’s too late and find us!”

Sorin then led everyone out of the hospital as they made their way for the bus station. Back in Oelaans, they would have to find a way back to connect with the rest of the group and devise a plan to stop the Neu Thekohnian Order. That was not all, though, because Sorin did want an answer from Johan. He wanted to know exactly why his friend betrayed everyone; even if Sorin had to resort to fighting Johan, he would get his answer.

 

*****

 

[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Castle Royal Queen’s Room]

 

Victor Wihll entered the lighted room in the nighttime as Ahga and Johan both awaited him there. He had to shake off Pariton and escape before he could do any serious damage. Wihll felt that he was lucky enough to come back to the castle that was now under siege by the Neu Thekohnian Order, all of whom were now dressed up in Thekohnian military garb. Ahga sat down in the chair while Johan stood as Wihll approached them both.

“You made it back,” Ahga said. “Not a moment too soon.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t finish the job,” Wihll said. “I find her and I’ll kill her, as well her friends just to make sure!”

“No, no, you don’t need to do that, Victor,” Ahga replied. “Let them run away with their tails between their legs and tears in their eyes. You’ve done enough damage by eliminating the prince to send a message that we’re not to be messed with.”

Wihll grumbled. “Wasn’t my job to kill her? Why would you ask me to back off now?”

“Oh, I did tell you to kill her, but I came with a back-up plan because I had a feeling that you’d fail somehow,” Ahga said. “Why else would I end up bringing the Neu Thekohnian Order here to guard this castle?”

“I have to admit that I’m envious,” Johan said. “You prepared in case of the event that he’d let you down. If only I were capable of pulling off such a feat.”

“You have to watch and learn, Mr. Kuu,” Ahga replied. “That said, Victor has long outlived his usefulness by now.”

“What!?” Wihll asked.

“Don’t you see?” Ahga asked. “Whether or not you fulfilled your end of the bargain, I’m going to deal with you personally. It’ll send a message to the rest of the region that the leader of the True Thekohnians is dead and that Queen Isla is not a woman to messed with!”

“You traitorous bastard,” Wihll said. “You were planning to double-cross me this whole time, weren’t you!?”

Ahga laughed. “That’s rich that you thought that I would trust a scoundrel like you,” he replied. “Why would I trust a South Maeitakohnian to do anything right? No, it’s better to take out the trash.”

Ahga snapped his fingers as several members of the Neu Thekohnian Order entered. They surrounded Wihll in an instant as he clenched his fists. Though he tried to fight them off, Wihll was no match for the multitude of men that had piled on top of him. A few moments later, Wihll lay on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back as Ahga walked up to him.

“Just so you know, once we’re done with Ahnlikohn, we’ll be storming your country next,” Ahga said as he looked down at Wihll. “If we’re to truly restore this region’s glory, there must be no mistakes!”

“Piece of shit,” Wihll muttered.

Ahga placed his foot down on Wihll’s head. “Mind saying that louder for me? I couldn’t quite catch what you said to me. Something about a needed wit?”

“I said that you’re a piece of shit!” Wihll exclaimed. “Johan Kuu! You knew that this was going to happen, didn’t you!?”

Johan shook his head. “Ahga came up with the idea all his own,” he said. “I’m just a bit player in all of this.”

“That’s right,” Ahga said. “Oh, and I hope you’ve made your peace with god, because your execution is due morning. I’ve got a place prepared in Oelaans so that the rest of the region sees this glorious man put an end to one of its most notorious terrorists!”

“You’re no better,” Wihll said. “Neither of you!”

Ahga pressed his foot down a little harder on Wihll’s head, which caused him to scream out in pain. “Funny, I thought that I was better,” he said. “I’m the one standing with his foot on your head, right?”

“Fuck you,” Wihll replied. “You can go to hell.”

“Before I do, I’ll be sure to send you there first,” Ahga said, “But I’m tired of at your face for tonight, so if the rest of you will do me a favor…”

Wihll was helped up by some of the Neu Thekohnians as he was forced out of the room as Ahga turned away. With the doors now closed, Johan looked over to Ahga.

“You’d do best not to cross me anymore,” Ahga said. “After all, you wanted to join, did you not?”

“Of course I did,” Johan replied. “I trust your judgement as do I with Her Majesty.”

“Good,” Ahga said. “I’m going to make my way to my chambers now. Hopefully you can get a good night’s sleep so you’ll be able to see the execution firsthand.”

“I’ll be sure to do that,” Johan said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 29 (Part 1)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Main Hall]

 

Sorin could only stare in disbelief at what he had heard: his friend Johan was now an ally of the Neu Thekohnian Order. He thought about it, but still Sorin could not process this information. None of it made sense whatsoever. What could he possibly do at a moment like this? Lauren Ahga continued to stand at the stairs with his head held high as Noa stepped forward.

“That’s it, my friend,” Ahga said. “Come forward and admit your sin to everyone right now!”

“I’m not your friend,” Noa replied.

“Really? After everything Mr. Mzade did for you?” Ahga asked. “Oh, that’s right, you haven’t told them that, have you?”

Sorin was the only one that knew Noa’s deep secret. It was a secret that he had sworn to never tell anyone but that was useless now, too. Ahga just shook his head as he looked over to Noa.

“It’s funny,” Ahga said. “The last fifteen years you assumed the identity of a dead man. Easy to do when the rest of your family is dead, isn’t it?”

“You can’t possibly mean what I think you’re saying, are you?” Rain asked. “Noa… Who are you?”

“Don’t you see?” Ahga asked. “That man you say you are? Noa Mzade, am I right? That man has been dead for fifteen years!”

“You… you were lying to us, Noa?” Mina asked. “That’s gotta be a joke, right? Because heroes don’t lie, not at all! Right?”

Noa stood in silence as Ahga laughed.

“How unfortunate that this man has been deceiving you this entire time,” Ahga said. “The real Noa Mzade, as far as I know, took care of young boy that hailed from Kals Dale: a pathetic, insignificant South Maeitakohnian by the name of Guda Rhostami!”

Rain clenched her fist as she looked over to Noa. “Noa… just please say something!”

“Looks like the past has come to bite me in the ass,” Noa said. “It’s exactly like you said, Lauren Ahga. I am Guda Rhostami, not Noa Mzade.”

“Perfect, perfect,” Ahga replied. “You see? Telling the truth does wonders.”

“You’re hardly one to talk!” Mina exclaimed. “So what if he has a different name? It doesn’t change the fact that you’re a villain!”

“Oh, it doesn’t, does it?” Ahga asked. “How naive. Young lady, do you have any idea who the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order is?”

“I’m not a fool, I know for a fact that it’s Jelka Arne,” Mina said, “She’s the one who orchestrated the attack on Helm and played a big part in Prime Minister Alan Berry’s assassination!”

“Oh how clueless you are,” Ahga said. “Johan, perhaps you could shed some light on the matter?”

“Well, I think it’s easy once you put the dots together,” Johan said. “I’m just surprised that Her Highness never figured it out.”

“You’re talking about my sister, aren’t you?” Storm asked.

“I’m as in the dark as you are, Storm,” Rain said. “I only wanted to prevent the assassination of my father, that was all.”

“How sad, Your Highness,” Ahga replied, “You went on your journey to help recruit people for your cause, but all you’ve done was waste time. Isla had taken care of the deed a mere few days after you left for Iiayikohn.”

“No, I don’t believe you!” Rain exclaimed. “Why in the world would mother want to do such a heinous act?”

“Sir Lauren, please, this must all be just one terrible joke,” Storm said. “You can’t possibly say what I think you’re implying, are you?”

“Believe it or not, Your Highness, but the king is dead,” Ahga said, “He was holding back our plans, so we had to take some extreme measures. Looks like it turned out to be the right move.”

Storm had no answer as she placed a hand upon her mouth as she tried not to scream. Meanwhile, Sorin still had questions.

“The right move?” Sorin asked. “What move could possibly justify murder? Not just murder of anyone, but the king of Thekohn! Why, damn it!?”

“Sorin, you know what happened in Bel better than most of the people in this room, including I,” Johan said. “People were close to a revolt had you and your friends not stepped in. What the Neu Thekohnian Order is doing is similar in method.”

“Don’t you even dare give me that crap, Johan!” Sorin exclaimed. “The Neu Thekohnian Order relies on intimidation and violence in order to achieve their goals. You can’t just tell me that the ends justify the means when it involves using people’s lives!”

“I just thought that you were on the side of good,” Luna said, “But you just wanted to play everyone while fulfilling your own selfish goals.”

“Am I the selfish one for wanting to end all wars?” Johan asked. “Perhaps, but sometimes to get to truth, you need a lie. A simple, yet effective lie that will one day result in the foundation of a world that is just and true. That’s the kind of goal that the Neu Thekohnian Order strives for in this world.”

“And it is by invading Ahnlikohn that we will create that world,” Ahga said. “Everything that we do works in order to make our dream a reality! It was by Her Majesty’s request that we deal with Alan Berry and it was Her Majesty’s request once more that we invade the ones responsible for assassinating him!”

“You’re the ones who assassinated him!” Mina exclaimed. “The ones who wanted the prime minister dead, that was you! No one else!”

“Ah, but Alan has had his fair share of enemies,” Ahga said. “He may have been a friend in the past, but he too was getting in our way.”

“So is that how you deal with those that oppose you?” Rain asked. “You just have them killed? Mother… she wanted father dead?”

“You should have paid attention, Your Highness,” Ahga replied. “He was already ill by the time I poisoned him, which only helped to speed up his eventual death. That said, Her Majesty is willing to make big sacrifices in order for us to succeed. I’d say ‘nothing personal,’ but it would indeed be very personal for you, Rain Zano Thedam.”

“Are you threatening me, Sir Lauren?” Rain asked.

“Well, let’s just say that I’m not going to be taking care of you,” Ahga said. “Rather, I’ve already got someone waiting for you in the wings. I believe you all know him well, right?”

At the top of the stairs the double doors opened. Out walked Victor Wihll, his presence enough to have everyone focused on him. He carried a knife on him, brandishing it as he walked down the stairs. Each step echoed throughout while Sorin could not turn away. No, Sorin continued to maintain his focus on Wihll and wondered what exactly Johan had gotten himself into.

“Let’s just make this quick,” Wihll said.

“Why would you work with him?” Pariton asked. “You hated the royal family, so why would you do this Victor?”

“This is what I consider a mutual benefit,” Ahga said. “Victor takes care of my problem and I will take care of his.”

Victor laughed as he angled his knife. “Yes, he made me a great offer and who am I to say no to something like that? I don’t really care what happens to any of you, nor do I care for Mr. Kuu over there, but a deal’s a deal and I’m going to enjoy slitting this woman’s throat.”

“Don’t you dare put your hands on Rain,” Mina exclaimed, “I’m going to pummel you and then we’re going to defeat you next, Ahga!”

“How cute that you think you’ll stop me,” Ahga said. “Not that it matters, since it’s all Isla’s plan anyway. She’s already won.”

“Stop it! Just stop it already,” Storm said. “All this betrayal, this deceit, the Neu Thekohnian Order. This isn’t the Sir Lauren that I know!”

“Oh will you shut up?” Wihll asked. “Perhaps I should kill you first in order to put the fear in your sister’s eyes!”

“Anyway, it’d be best if I made my exit,” Ahga said. “I’ve got to help Isla start a war and I can’t stand to see the sight of blood, if I am to be completely honest with you lot. Come now, Johan.”

Lauren Ahga walked towards the door and left while Johan turned to everyone.

“It’s looking like the curtain’s about to close on all of you,” he said. “How sad that none you still don’t get it.”

“You can’t get away with this, Johan!” Luna exclaimed as she ran up to Johan and grabbed him by the collar. “I swear to god, I’m not going to let you leave here!”

Johan chuckled as he placed his hand on Luna’s. “I’d advise you to run,” he said. “The Neu Thekohnian Order is already on their way here as we speak, so if you value your life, Luna, then you should heed my words.”

He pushed Luna off of him and followed after Ahga. She tried to run after him but was stopped by Pariton.

“Let him go,” Pariton said, “We’ve got a bigger problem now.”

Wihll looked at Storm, who stood in place unable to move. He charged at her with his knife at the ready, but Rain and Sorin both jumped in with their swords drawn and blocked his attack.

“Get out of here, sister!” Rain said as she looked back at Storm. “You know where to go, right?”

Storm broke out of her fearful stance. “Yes… yes! I’ll go right away!”

She ran off as fast as she could to the doors at the corner of the room. All Wihll could do was growl as he moved his focus to Rain. She and Sorin were locking their blades with his as he backed off of them and twirled his knife.

“This is fine,” he said. “I’ll just hunt her down and kill her later. I still have you to take care of, after all.”

“Not so fast, you brute!” Brook exclaimed.

“Who the hell are you?” Wihll asked.

“Sister, get out of here right now,” Brook said, “I’ll take care of him!”

With no time for Rain to respond, Brook charged forth towards Wihll and jumped him. Wihll swiveled around as he tossed Brook to the ground.

“No, I can’t just leave you behind!” Rain exclaimed.

“What a pathetic, ignorant whelp,” Wihll said. “Just sit right there while I run this knife through Her Highness’ neck!”

Wihll readied his next attack at Rain as she got ready to defend herself. He advanced on her but was stopped by Brook. Once again, he leapt up and grabbed onto Wihll’s arm.

“What are you standing there for?” Brook asked. “I’ve got him in my grasp! Now run!”

“I’m not going to do that,” Rain said, “But I do have a better idea!”

She then thrust her sword forward and stabbed Wihll in his abdomen while Brook continued to hold onto his arm. With the sudden stab, Wihll turned his head towards Brook.

Wihll growled. “Get off of me!”

Rain removed her sword from Wihll. “It’s over for you,” she said. “There’s no way you’ll get out of here on your own.”

With a bloodstain rapidly forming on his coat, Wihll laughed. He laughed as hard as he could, coughing along the way, as he threw Brook off of him. The young man tumbled backward and ended up rolling back onto his feet in a miraculous manner.

Mina pumped her fist. “Yeah, you better surrender now, villain!”

“Surrender?” Wihll asked. “What a ludicrous notion!”

“It’s all you’ve got,” Brook replied, “So it would be wise that you drop your weapon!”

“I’m getting really tired of hearing you speak,” Wihll said. “It’s time to silence you, right here and right now!”

He rushed Brook, who moved out of the way. However, Wihll spun around from behind him and thrust his knife deep into Brook’s back. The quick stab was enough to catch Brook off guard, dropping him to his knees.

Rain put her hand out open faced. “Brook!”

Brook coughed, blood spilling out of his mouth. “This… this isn’t good…”

“Seems I’ve hit your weak point,” Wihll said.

Rain gripped the handle of her sword as she pointed it at Wihll. “You… I won’t let you leave here alive!”

Rain attempted to rush Wihll with her sword pointed out, but Wihll dodged the attack and grabbed her by the throat. She tried to struggle out of his grasp, but Wihll lifted her up into the air.

“Time to finish the job,” Wihll said.

Sorin readied his blade. “Let her go!”

Mina, however, screamed as she charged at Wihll. She was determined to take him down and make him unleash Rain. When she made it to Wihll, though, he was fast enough to knock her to the side and onto the ground.

“I’ll deal with you next,” Wihll said, “But first, I’ve got business to attend to with your lovely princess.”

“You are just a spineless coward,” Rain said. “All you can do is negotiate with violence.”

Wihll grinned. “This is just what I’m good at,” he said. “You dare mock a man for wanting to achieve his goals? Then you must die!”

Before he could do anything, though, Sorin attacked him. Wihll defended himself from Sorin’s strikes, but that was when Mina joined in. She grabbed from behind his arm that was holding Rain until he could hold onto her no longer. Rain fell to the floor as Mina unleashed Wihll’s arm from her grip. With Sorin now engaged and fighting with Victor Wihll, Mina hurried over to Rain.

“Rain, are you okay?” Mina asked.

Rain groaned. “Is… Is my brother okay?”

“I don’t know,” Mina replied. “Sorry.”

Rain crawled over to where Brook lay and examined him. The wound in his back was producing blood at a rapid rate and spilling onto the floor beneath him. As she attempted to sit him up, Brook continued to cough.

“Forget… about me, sister,” Brook said. “You… need to escape…”

“I’m not going to leave without you,” Rain said. “I’m not the kind of person that will abandon her friends and family!”

Pariton ran over to Rain and knelt down. “I don’t know about you, but we’ve gotta get out of here,” he said. “I already see the Neu Thekohnian Order out by the front entrance from here.”

“You’re going to help us?” Rain asked.

“I’ve not much else to do right now,” Pariton replied. “Luna, we need to secure a route out of here!”

Luna hurried to him. “Got it, Pekka!”

“There’s a secret exit,” Rain said. “Only us in the royal family know about it, not even Sir Lauren is aware.”

“Got it, secret exit,” Luna said. “Pekka, what are we going to do about her brother, though?”

“We’ll have to carry him,” Pariton said. “What about that man?”

Luna looked to Noa. “Hey you!”

“Me?” Noa asked. “Yeah, I got the message.”

Noa moved forward, not wanting to be a part of Sorin and Wihll’s fight, and went over to Brook. He picked up the wounded prince and proceeded to carry him on his back.

“But what about Sorin?” Mina asked.

“That shouldn’t be a problem,” Pariton said. “You guys just focus on getting out of here.”

Luna eyed Pariton. “You don’t mean you’re going stay here and fight him, are you?”

“That man is Johan’s friend,” Pariton said. “At the very least, I should try to help him by distracting Victor.”

Pariton stood up and took off his shirt, exposing his build and numerous scars upon his body. He walked over to the fight scene and whistled.

“That’s enough,” Pariton said. “Sorin, was it? You need to escape.”

“And what do you think you’re going to do?” Wihll asked.

“I’m going to help the best way I can,” Pariton replied, “By taking you out, even it costs me my life!”

“What!? But you can’t just throw your life out like that!” Sorin replied.

“You’re Johan’s friend, right?” Pariton asked. “If you were to die here, would that be acceptable?”

“Just shut up already, Varjostaa!” Wihll exclaimed.

“I recommend you go now,” Pariton said. “Hurry!”

Sorin nodded and sheathed his sword as he followed after Rain and the others. He had to meet Johan again, that much he knew. Not only that, but he needed to help Rain any way he could not. As he escaped with the rest of the group, Pariton turned to Wihll.

“Get out of my way!” Wihll said. “I don’t care if I have to kill you, I just need to kill the princess!”

“It’s funny,” Pariton said. “I spent that past few years a member of the True Thekohnians thinking I’d be making a change, but now I know that at least I’m helping to ensure the future of this great land by letting the princess of Thekohn escape with her life!”

“You’re just another pawn to her,” Wihll replied. “What could you possibly prove by doing this!?”

“Even if Johan betrayed me, I still believe in his dream,” Pariton answered. “I want to help create that world he speaks of and I’m going to do it by not letting you go anywhere!”

“Enough!” Wihll yelled. “I might as well kill you, since it looks like you’re only going to be another obstacle to me!”

“I’m no obstace,” Pariton said. “I’m Pekka Varjostaa and I will not waver against you, Victor Wihll! Come at me, if you dare!”

Wihll wiped his mouth clean of blood and wielded his knife once more. Pariton was ready as he got into his fighting stance. It did not matter that he was unarmed because Pariton knew that he’d have to hold Wihll back as long as he could. No, Pariton had to win. He had to stop Wihll right here and he knew that he was capable enough. With all the others out of the room, Pariton stood his ground as Wihll charged at him.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 28 (Part 2)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Rio Grove]

 

Sorin entered the park to see Noa pacing around back and forth. He had already seen Rain and Mina off as they spent their time treating Storm to a walk around the city. Meanwhile, Sorin had to know where Noa had gone off to and to find out if he was doing well. Noa was busy muttering something to himself as Sorin approached him.

“Are you okay?” Sorin asked.

“I’m fine,” Noa replied. “It’s nothing you should be concerned about, not when Her Highness has more to worry about.”

“Still, if something’s on your mind, it wouldn’t hurt to seek out some help,” Sorin said. “We’ve traveled long enough for us to be considered as acquaintances, if not friends.”

“Did Mina put you up to this?” Noa asked. “She always seems to target me for some reason.”

“I’m doing this for my own reasons,” Sorin replied. “At least tell me if you aren’t going to tell anyone else.”

“Why should I tell you?”

“Because if you don’t tell anyone, it’ll just get at you,” Sorin said. “It will continue to be a burden on your back and it really doesn’t have to be that way at all, Noa.”

“You don’t have to say my name like that,” Noa said. “Fine, if it will saitsify you, I guess I can say to you what’s on my mind.”

“Really?” Sorin asked.

“I could continue to refuse and you would keep pressing on,” Noa replied. “It’s a real pain in the ass, but maybe if I told you it would all be okay.”

“All that matters is that you take a step,” Sorin said. “Just one step forward does wonders.”

“Whatever it is, I’ll do it,” Noa said. “I just want to know if you knew the full truth, would you think of me any differently?”

“The full truth of what, exactly?” Sorin asked.

“What I told you all back in Helm, it was not the entire story,” Noa said. “Something that I couldn’t mention… No, I did not want to mention. Something that would change how you felt about me entirely.”

“I’m sure that it’s nothing that would change my opinion of you,” Sorin said. “If it’s too embarrassing to admit to everyone else, you can at least confide in me about it.”

“Then I guess it would be okay to tell you,” Noa replied. “Fine…”

 

*****

 

At the front gate of the castle, Johan led Luna and Pariton to the guarded area and hid behind the nearby bushes. He was going to have to pull off a difficult move, with or without their help, and needed his plan to go off without any problems. Of course, Johan knew that things would have to work out regardless of what happened next. He still owed Lauren Ahga another visit, after all. He eyed the two guards with intent while Pariton turned to him.

“Mr. Johan, you’re certain that Ahga is here?” Pariton asked.

“He’s going to want to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch,” Johan replied. “That’s why Victor is going to through these gates without a single question asked to him. Preferential treatment, obviously.”

“We’re so close to stopping them, I can tell,” Luna said. “This close to taking down the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when we thwart their plans and laugh in victory, don’t you, Johan?”

“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, yet,” Johan said. “If we fail, then we’re going to end up paying the price with our lives.”

“I do wonder why Victor is able to join up with the Neu Thekohnian Order so easily,” Pariton said. “You said it yourself that he was on the run from them when you saw him over in Helm.”

“The game has changed,” Johan replied. “Right now, their side has made a very powerful acquisition at a very low cost. They’re going to need Victor right now if they’re to get what they want without too much hassle.”

“What do you mean?” Luna asked.

“If what my deduction is correct, then they’re going to eliminate a major threat to their plan,” Johan said. “That obviously cannot be allowed to happen if we want to avoid seeing a potential war break out.”

Luna grabbed onto Pariton’s shoulder. “War!? But we’ve been at peace for years, haven’t we?”

“Hey, let go of me,” Pariton said.

“That is their goal,” Johan said. “They’ve been wanting to see the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn to go to war with Ahnlikohn for a while now. Now that they’ve got a reason and an ally in the cause, it’s that much easier to do.”

“They lucked out with that prince,” Pariton replied.

“War’s the logical conclusion to that whole mess,” Johan said. “They were going to get their war one way or another.”

“If that’s what they’re after, then they’re even worse than I thought,” Luna said. “Not only are they cowardly enough to get the crown prince of Ahnlikohn to do their dirty work, but they want a war, too? It’s absolutely horrible!”

“Hold on, I think I see him coming,” Johan said. “Duck down.”

They crouched down behind the bushes as Victor Wihll arrived at the gate by himself. The guards took one look at him and nodded, which appeared to be enough to let Wihll pass through. Johan turned to Luna and Pariton and then over to the guards.

“I have a feeling that something’s up,” Johan said. “Follow me.”

“What, really?” Luna asked.

Johan stood up and hurried for the gate. Pariton could only follow, as did Luna. At the gates, Johan eyed the guards that were appointed as he walked up to them with Luna and Pariton right behind him.

“Hello,” Johan said. “I believe I have business here at the castle today.”

The right guard raised his eyebrow. “Do you now?”

“My name is Johan Kuu,” he said. “You would be able to check, wouldn’t you?”

“Hold on,” the right guard replied.

He walked over to the left guard and whispered a few words into his ear. The left guard whispered back to him, to which the right guard nodded. It was only for a few seconds but to Johan, it felt like minutes. Not that he minded, though he knew that he’d have answer ready regardless.

“Sir Lauren has anticipated your arrival,” the right guard said. “Am I to assume that they are with you, Mr. Kuu?”

“Yes they are,” Johan replied. “Thank you for confirming.”

“You’re very welcome, Mr. Kuu,” the right guard said. “Please go on in, and make sure not to cause too much of a ruckus.”

“Very well,” Johan said. “Let’s go, guys.”

With his entry confirmed, Johan walked past the guards and towards the castle. Luna and Pariton hurried after him, with Luna walking by Johan’s side.

“Wait, you actually have business with him?” Luna asked.

“Let’s keep going,” Johan said as he kept walking.

“Hold on, she had a question for you, Mr. Johan,” Pariton said. “Are you just going to ignore her like that?”

“We can’t waste any time,” Johan replied.

He entered the castle as Pariton looked over at Luna. She could only look back at him while Johan disappeared into the castle. There was only one thing Johan needed to do now and he needed to confront Lauren Ahga in order to do it. He stood in the middle of the main hall, which was currently empty, as Luna rushed in after him with Pariton not too far behind her.

“Just tell us what the hell is going on,” Luna said. “Do you or do you not have business with Mr. Ahga?”

“He does indeed have business with me, miss,” Ahga said.

She looked up to the stairs where Ahga was. He slowly walked down the steps as he grabbed the railing on the side. Pariton gritted his teeth and clenched his fists, going into a fighting stance as Ahga made it to the bottom of the stairs.

“Victor Wihll, where is he?” Johan asked.

“Oh, he’s off to complete the hit,” Ahga replied, “But I thought you already knew that based on the eavesdropping you did back at the hotel.”

“How do you know that?” Luna asked.

“My dear, I’m not stupid,” Ahga said. “And I know as well that Johan isn’t that daft, either, which is why I wonder you why haven’t told them yet.”

Johan did not respond and only continued to stare at Ahga.

Ahga smirked. “Even your lovely friend is badgering you for answers,” he said. “Do you think that little of your friends that you would keep a secret from them, no matter what the cost?”

“Johan, just answer us,” Luna said.

“You bastard,” Pariton said. “What have you got on Mr. Johan?”

“Oh, I’ve got nothing on him,” Ahga replied. “No, the choice he made was all his own doing. It’s a smart choice, but still I’m curious as to why you couldn’t have told them sooner.”

At that moment, Sorin entered the main hall with Rain, Mina, Noa, and Storm with him. Johan noticed him in an instant as Ahga laughed out loud, the laughter echoing through the room.

“Good, good, almost everyone is here,” Ahga said. “Well, except for one, but I guess he’ll be here soon enough.”

“Johan, what are you doing here?” Sorin asked.

“You’re his friend, yes?” Ahga asked. “And Your Highness, I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed.”

Rain looked at him. “What do you mean?”

“You honestly don’t understand,” Ahga said. “Then again, where are my manners? When you’ve got a guest in the house, you should let them speak first. Tell them, Johan, about your newfound allegiance with the Neu Thekohnian Order!”

Almost everyone gasped while Johan chuckled. There was no holding back now that it was all out in the open. He had no other choice, but then again, it all went exactly as he planned it.

“You can’t be serious!” Luna exclaimed. “No, I refuse to believe you!”

“He’s wrong, Johan,” Pariton said. “He is… isn’t he?”

“Johan, what is he talking about?” Sorin asked. “You’re not actually working with them, are you?

“Go ahead, Johan, tell them,” Ahga said. “You and I are allies after all now, aren’t we?”

Johan laughed. “You really know how to put a man in a corner, don’t you? Not like it matters anymore. Fine then, I admit it.”

“There’s no way this is possible,” Sorin said. “What would compel you to join with the Neu Thekohnian Order of all people!?”

“They’re villains of the worst kind!” Mina said. “How could you?”

“I can’t forgive you,” Pariton said. “To use my trust just to turn against us all… You are a coward!”

Pariton charged at Johan with his fist raised high. Johan, though, countered Pariton’s attack by grabbing him and throwing him to the ground. With the now devastated man flat on his back, he could only gaze up at Johan, dumbfounded at his betrayal.

“Nice try, Pekka, but you seem to forget that I used to be soldier,” Johan said. “Anything you can throw at me, I’m capable of striking back in self-defense. As for you, Sorin, I thought you would be better than this.”

“Just tell me why, Johan,” Sorin said. “You can’t actually be serious about this, can you?”

“Sorin, I’ve been a man of my word,” Johan replied. “I mean exactly what I say when I want to create a world without wars. I’m just choosing the side that will make it so.”

“But you just told us that the Neu Thekohnian Order wants to start a war,” Luna said. “You’re just a liar, aren’t you?”

“Well, he’s not the only one,” Ahga said. “I notice that particularly pathetic looking man alongside Her Highness over there. Now I remember where I’ve seen him from. You’ve betrayed the princess too, haven’t you?”

Noa grumbled as he slouched his shoulders. Rain turned to him, which only made him turn away in response.

“Noa, what is Sir Lauren speaking of?” Rain asked.

“I haven’t told you the absolute truth, Your Highness,” Noa said. “I was certain that this secret would be taken to my grave, but I guess I have to admit that I’ve lied to you, too.”

Mina looked at Noa with disbelief in her eyes. “Really, Noa? You would betray us, too?”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 28 (Part 1)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; base camp just outside of Bel Dale, Maeitakohn]

 

The sun shone bright as Gavin looked on towards the fields below the hill. Not too far off was the camp where the Neu Thekohnian Order was said to be, and with that, Mina’s mother. Gavin pulled out a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the camp that he, Law, and Eva would have to infiltrate. Henry and his troop appeared ready to move at any moment as Gavin scanned the area.

“See anything, bro?” Law asked.

“I’ve got a good look at General Khadir’s army,” Gavin replied. “Ready to move any moment now, right, Henry Randolph?”

Henry chuckled. “This is a good plan by Karim, I’ll have to admit” he said. “Arrington told me that you used to be the best eyes in the military, which looks like he was right about.”

“Good eyes are the number one trait for a marksman to have,” Gavin said. “It makes even the most improbable of targets a possibility for me. I’d bet you’d like to see, wouldn’t you?”

“I think I’ll pass,” Henry replied.

“Too bad, bro,” Law said. “Henry has no time to feed your ego, it seems.”

“Be quiet,” Gavin replied. “What the fuck is going now?”

He looked through the binoculars again and found a small group of Neu Thekohnians walking out of the building. The Maeitakohnian army got closer as the Neu Thekohnians put up their weapons and began to fight.

“I see them now!” Gavin said.

“Okay, you heard him,” Henry said, “Move out! Make sure there’s no escape for them whatsoever!”

Henry led his troop down the hill. They rushed down towards the camp as Gavin put away his binoculars and put on his sunglasses.

“That’s our cue,” Gavin said.

“Well done,” Eva said. “Now let’s hurry.”

As there was no time to hesitate, Gavin rushed down the hill with Law and Eva following him. Henry’s troop joined in on the attack, which was good enough to distract the guards at the front as Gavin led the other two to sneak past it. Now that they were inside, Gavin took a moment to look around for the entrance to the main building.

“Over there,” Law said.

He pointed to an open door that appeared to be unguarded. Gavin nodded to Law and then to Eva as they decided to dash inside. Only one straightforward path stood in front of them, so Gavin took out his gun and gripped it tightly as he stepped forth to the closed door before him.

“Don’t utter a single word,” Gavin said. “If something happens, cover me.”

With that said, Gavin twisted the doorknob and pushed the door open. The complete silence that followed did nothing at all to dispel Gavin’s suspicions as he peered inside. No one was there, save for one person that was locked in a cell in the corner of the room.

“Is that her?” Gavin asked.

“Do you see someone, bro?”

“Come on,” Gavin said. “Eva, I want you to keep watch out there in the meanwhile.”

“Okay,” Eva said.

Gavin walked inside, letting go of the doorknob as he lowered his gun. As he got closer to the cell, he saw the woman with short, black hair standing there staring at the wall. She turned the moment Gavin and Law walked in and nearly jumped back in shock as the two brothers stood at the other side of the bars.

“Who… who are you two?”

“We’re here to get you out of this place,” Gavin said. “The name’s Gavin Power, marksman extraordinaire.”

“And I’m Law Power, the dashing Power himself,” Law said. “You must be Wilma Brynjarr.”

“How do you know that?” Wilma asked. “You’re not with the Ahnlikohnian army, are you?”

“No, we’re Ameci,” Gavin replied. “Though we are dealing with those Neu Thekohnians out there.”

“So you’ve come to save me, then?”

“That’s what we’re doing,” Law said. “There’s actually a lot we want to talk to you about, but it wouldn’t feel right doing it in this old place.”

“You would know how to unlock this cell,” Wilma said, “That’s what you’re implying, aren’t you?”

Law grinned as he placed his hand on the lock. “There’s two ways to break a lock, my dear,” he said, “The tough way and the hard way. Fortunately for us, I’ve got just the remedy for this sort of thing.”

“What are you talking about?” Gavin asked.

“Put away your gun, bro,” Law replied. “I came prepared for this, because I knew we’d have to deal with a lock or two.”

He reached into the side pocket of his jacket and pulled out a lockpick. A few moments later, Law unlocked the lock with ease and opened the cell door.

“Thank you,” Wilma said.

“You actually came prepared for once?” Gavin asked. “What a total surprise, coming from you.”

“I like to surprise,” Law said. “Now, how are we getting out of here?”

“Good question,” Gavin said. “Well, I think I might have an idea…”

As he said that, a loud, rumbling noise echoed through the walls of the building. Gavin jerked his head toward the direction of the door out and saw Eva standing there.

“What the hell!?” Gavin asked. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me…”

“An explosion,” Eva said. “We’ve got to get her out of here right now!”

“You’ve got that right,” Gavin said. “Lawrence, it’s your time to shine again. Get Wilma Brynjarr out of here and we’ll secure your exit!”

“That sounds like a good plan to me,” Law replied. “You’ve got no problem with that, do you?”

“I don’t really have much of a choice,” Wilma said. “You seem trustworthy enough, so I’ll go with you.”

“Great,” Gavin said. “Now let’s get out of here already!”

Gavin lead the way with his gun out and pointed forward while Eva unsheathed her sword and walked to the left of Gavin. Another few steps to the exit, another explosion rang out.

“Where is that coming from?” Aron asked from the distance.

“Over there!” Henry exclaimed. “Take cover!”

“They’re close by,” Eva said. “It would be a good thing if we don’t run into them right now.”

Outside the building, all could be seen as more Neu Thekohnians showed up from atop the hill where Gavin and the others were. Gavin looked and saw Jelka leading the charge as she and the rest of the Neu Thekohnians ran down the hill to where the battle took place. Meanwhile, Henry and his troop entered the camp and took cover behind the gates.

“Damn it, there’s been an ambush!” Henry exclaimed as he reloaded his gun. “We’ll have to regroup!”

“What about the Maeitakohnian army?” Aron asked.

“I’m hoping that they’re thinking the same thing,” Henry replied. “General Khadir is a smart man; he’s going to want to pull back.”

Henry turned and noticed Gavin.

“Wait, you’re still here?” Henry asked.

“Well, we’re trying to get out of here, too,” Gavin said. “Looks like they intentionally undermanned this place so they could catch us off guard with the higher ground.”

“I should have seen this coming,” Henry said. “We haven’t lost any men so far, but they’re not going to let us get out of here alive.”

“Do you have a plan?” Eva asked.

“There’s an escape plan,” Henry replied. “Speaking of which…”

“That’s my cue,” Law said. “Wilma and I are going to try to get out of here, but with how it looks, the odds aren’t favorable.”

“Has that ever stopped you before?” Gavin asked.

Law laughed. “I never back down from a challenge if there’s even the slightest chance of winning,” he said. “Wilma, you can run, right?”

“Yes, I can do that,” she answered.

“Great,” Law said.

“The meeting point is over at the river,” Henry said. “Of course, that involves getting past the hill where they’re attacking from.”

“You don’t worry about that,” Law interrupted. “I already know that I can get there. You guys just have to create a diversion while I go and escort Madame Brynjarr to safety.”

“Did you two forget that I’m the commander here?” Henry asked. “Just kidding, I like your plan. Okay, let’s do this!”

Henry led his troop out onto the field while Gavin looked to Law.

“Her life is in your hands now,” Gavin said. “I don’t think I have to say this, but I trust that you can get to the meeting point unharmed.”

“As do I with you, bro,” Law replied. “See you there.”

With that, Gavin and Eva followed after Henry’s troop as Law lead Wilma away from the action. Gavin pulled out his gun while Eva took out her sword as they took care to keep their guards up. The Neu Thekohnian Order still had their position on the higher ground, but Gavin was determined to go through their attack in order to confront their leader.

“Eva, over there!” Gavin said.

Eva looked over toward Henry’s troop battling with several of the Neu Thekohnians. “They’re handling them quite well,” she said. “There’s still some more at the top of the hill, though.”

“Guarding the leader, I assume,” Gavin replied. “Time to fucking do this.”

He charged forth as the five men guarding the top of the hill had their swords drawn. Gavin fired his gun at one of the men, hitting him in the shoulder. He was about to react, but Gavin kicked the man on the chest, knocking him to the ground and his blade to the side. The other men tried to attack, but Eva was quick enough to cut through two of the men with her blade, dropping them to the ground with two precise, successive slashes. Gavin fired his gun at one of the two men remaining, striking him in the neck as he let go of his sword and fell down.

“You! Drop your weapon now!” Gavin commanded to the remaining man.

All the man could do was comply as he put down his blade. As he tried to run away, Jelka struck him hard in the back of his head with the hilt of her sword.

“You did well to get here,” Jelka said, “But I believe you’re well too late.”

“What are you talking about?” Gavin asked. “We’ve already rescued the hostage, Eva and I tore these fools some new assholes, and the Ameci and Maeita troops have the advantage as we speak!”

Jelka laughed as she sheathed her sword. “Oh, but don’t you see? Why was it so easy for you to rescue that woman? Why would we even set up this pathetic display for seemingly no reason?”

“Don’t mess around with us,” Eva said. “Just say what you’re going to say already.”

“You’ve noticed it, haven’t you?” Jelka asked. “This whole setup was so we could lead a bigger attack on the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn!”

Gavin pointed his gun at Jelka. “The fuck are you talking about?”

“How would you even do that?” Eva asked. “There’s no way you would have enough people to even lead two separate attacks in one day, much less in a week.”

“Maybe so, but we’ve got a new friend for that,” Jelka said. “A man that you may know quite well, I’ll add.”

“Tell us now, damn it!” Gavin said.

“If you want to know, you’ll have to head to the kingdom yourself,” Jelka said. “That said, I’m not going to give myself up so easily now…”

Before Gavin even had a chance to respond, Jelka charged at him with her blade drawn. She almost landed a hit on him, but Eva jumped in with her sword raised up to defend the attack.

“Not while I’m still here,” Eva said.

Jelka laughed again. “Well, it wasn’t like I was planning on killing you,” she said. “No, I was asked not to kill anyone while I’m here. Not while there’s still fun to be had.”

She delivered a sweeping kick to Eva, which knocked her off of her footing. Gavin tried to aim his gun at her, but Jelka used her free hand to punch him in the stomach. It was all that she needed to catch him off guard as she ran off in the opposite direction.

“God fucking damn it all, she got away,” Gavin said.

“She’s faster than I expected,” Eva said. “I should’ve finished her while I had the chance, damn it.”

“We need to meet up with Lawrence,” Gavin said. “As much as this sucks, it’s better to let her run for now. We’ve got bigger issues to deal with right now.”

Eva sighed. “I guess so.”

Gavin looked down the hill. “Seems they’ve wrapped things up down there, too,” he said. “We’ll have to report to them what we learned.”

 

*****

 

With the rescue a success, Gavin and Eva were able to reunite with Law back at the meeting point. He was able to lead Wilma Brynjarr back to the point as Henry and his troop arrived alongside the Maeitakohnian one. As all groups were now reunited, Henry turned to Gavin.

“So we’ve got another impending attack up north, then,” Henry said. “All of this to divert attention from what’s going to happen in Thekohn.”

“We’re certainly not in a good place right now,” Gavin said.

“What are you talking about?” Law asked. “We rescued her, didn’t we?”

“I know that, you fool,” Gavin replied, “But now we have a different problem that we’re not going to be able to handle.”

“Bradley’s troop should be around there right now,” Henry said.

“But is that going to be enough, Henry?” Aron asked. “We could still try to go there and see what we can do, right?”

“It’s not at my liberty to say,” Henry answered. “I’d have to speak with the general about it.”

“Screw that,” Law said. “If there are people in jeopardy, then we need to hurry already. Not just sit here doing nothing, junior lieutenant.”

“You really want to push it that way, don’t you, Law Power,” Henry said. “Shit, it looks like we have no choice.”

“How long will it take for us to go from here to the kingdom?” Gavin asked.

“If we’re lucky, we’d make it in just over two and a half hours,” Henry said. “Of course, I’d be rude if I didn’t go and thank General Khadir for helping us, so I’ll have to see him off first.”

“Then go do that,” Gavin said. “As for us, I think it’s time for us three to go on our way. You’ll be able to watch over Wilma Brynjarr, won’t you?”

Henry nodded. “I think we can arrange for her to go back to the embassy in Rezar,” he said. “I’m still a little surprised that she’d be all the way out here of places.”

“Well, we can talk about that on the way there,” Wilma said. “Thank you all for rescuing me, by the way.”

“You want someone to thank, thank them,” Henry said as he looked over to Gavin, Law, and Eva. “I just brought the firepower, that’s all.”

“I promise to you, Madame Brynjarr, that we’ll meet again,” Law said. “I’ll be sure to bring you a pleasant surprise when we get back.”

“Thank you,” Wilma replied.

“You want to stay around for much longer?” Gavin asked to Law. “We’re getting out of here now.”

“Right, right, bro, just don’t start the car without me,” Law said. “Looks like you’re really going to have to step on the gas if we’re gonna make to the kingdom quickly.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 27 (Part 2)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thekohn Tavern]

 

Inside the quiet tavern, Johan took a seat at the table across from Pariton and Luna. He had just made it into the kingdom as he planned out his next move. There was little going on as one of servers approached the table. After the three took their orders, the server left as Johan looked over to Pariton.

“It’s easier than I thought,” Johan said. “Anyway, Luna, I’m surprised you insisted upon this place. Are you old enough to drink?”

“Oh come on, Johan, you never ever wanted to go into the depths of a seedy bar?” Luna asked. “This is the kind of place where all sorts of types just come in and discuss their diabolical plans! We’re kind of like that, aren’t we?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it ‘diabolical,’ per se, but I can see where you’re coming from,” Johan replied. “What we’re doing is helping change the world, and I guess a few people would find that problematic.”

“They’re worried,” Pariton said.

“And it’s nothing we should worry about,” Johan said.

“You should know that I am an adult,” Luna said. “I can drink all I want… if I wanted to, of course, but I don’t actually like beer or liquor or anything like that because one time I had a couple of drinks at a family party and made a complete fool of myself. I can still remember what my mother said to me, you know?”

“But it’s the atmosphere here that you like, right?” Johan asked.

“That’s true,” Luna replied. “Boy, it’d be nice to actually eavesdrop in on a conversation or two. Too bad it looks like we’re the only ones here.”

The door at the front opened as a man walked in. Johan gazed at him as he instantly recognized who it was as the man approached the table behind Luna. She turned around and upon looking up, she almost fell out of her chair as she tried not to scream.

“It’s… It’s… It’s that guy!” Luna exclaimed. “That guy from those True Thekohnians! Victor Wihll!”

“Get out of the way,” Wihll said as he took the empty seat next to Luna. “Looks like I’ve finally run into you again, Johan Kuu. You’ve been ever so elusive, haven’t you?”

“I take it you’ve found your purpose now,” Johan replied.

“Why are you here?” Pariton asked. “We’ve got no business with you now.”

“Guess I have you to thank, too, Mr. Varjostaa,” Wihll said. “If not for you, I would be dead by now and that would have been very bad for my new friends.”

“Your new friends?” Johan asked. “I thought you didn’t want to have anything to with the Neu Thekohnian Order.”

“Very perceptive,” Wihll replied. “They made me an amazing offer that I just couldn’t turn down, so I took it and went all this way here for a business matter on the request of the leader.”

Johan raised his eyebrow. “And you’re telling me this because why, exactly?”

“Come on, do you think you can fool me?” Wihll asked. “Just because I look like a brute doesn’t mean I play the part to a ‘T.’ No, I feel like you have to know this, because if you don’t, then there’s no point to meeting you.”

“I see,” Johan said. “Do you mind sharing me this plan of yours?”

“Let’s just say I’ve been asked to take care of a little nuisance,” Wihll said. “If the Neu Thekohnian Order’s plan is to go off without a hitch, then it is up to me to wipe out the threats that stand in their way.”

“If there’s one thing I’d admire about you, it’s your confidence,” Johan replied. “The way that you’re acting tells me you believe that there’s no way in hell that I’m going to try to stop you.”

Wihll smirked. “What nonsense,” he said. “Aha, now I get it. You’re playing your cards close to your chest right now, aren’t you?”

Johan raised his hands up open palmed. “Good job.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t bother you, then,” Wihll said. “The way things are, I know that you’re going to be in my face again. I will guarantee that next time, however, I will deal with you and your friends personally.”

Wihll stood up and left the table as Johan shook his hand. He relaxed his arms as the server brought everybody’s beverages. Luna, though, had a whimper that turned into a frustrated groan as she pounded the table three times, which caught the server off guard as he walked away.

“Are you okay?” Pariton asked.

“Of course not!” Luna replied. “That man could’ve killed me if I looked at him the wrong way! What could I possibly do in that situation?”

“Victor’s not much of a pleasant man, I’ll give you that,” Pariton said. “It was Mr. Johan’s request, however, to break him out of prison and I do trust his judgement.”

“There really is nothing we can do about him, is there?” Luna asked.

“Well, he did give us a hint,” Johan said. “He owes a great debt to the Neu Thekohnian Order, which means that they had a hand in helping him somehow.”

“Which means they’re not that far from here,” Pariton said. “Do you think that Lauren Ahga is here now?”

“That’s the only explanation,” Johan said.

He knew that Ahga was already in the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn, though. It was why Johan had to come to the kingdom, because he had a reason to help Ahga out. All he needed to do now was find a way to distance himself from both Pariton and Luna so he could meet with the man himself once again before the rest of the Neu Thekohnian Order arrived in the kingdom.

“What could they possibly want here?” Luna asked.

“They want to enact chaos,” Johan answered. “What more chaos could they bring to the Thekohnian Region than to take out the king?”

“And they already assassinated Iiayikohn’s prime minister,” Luna said. “We’re going to stop them, right? The Moonlit Silence doesn’t go quietly in the night, right?”

“We do work well in the shadows,” Johan said. “Come on, I think we’re done here. Let me just pay the tabe and we’ll head towards the castle and see if we can’t enter.”

“So we’re really going to see the castle,” Luna said. “That’s great! If we’re lucky, we might even see a royal or two along the way!”

 

Outside the tavern, Johan could see a couple of cars pass by on the street. There was nothing particular about them, but in that same direction Johan could see Wihll heading towards the nearby hotel.

“That’s our next stop,” Johan said.

“I thought you said we were going to the castle,” Luna said. “We were going to see the princess, perhaps, or maybe the prince if not the other princess. Maybe even the queen if she’s there!”

“Not everything is some grand story,” Pariton said.

“I know that, Pekka, but wouldn’t it be great if we saw something cool like that?” Luna asked. “That one princess, Rain, I heard was down in Helm a few days ago. If only I could’ve been there I would have seen her in person and maybe even meet her!”

Johan sighed. “Anyway, there’s a reason why Victor Wihll went into that hotel,” he said. “We might be able to get a closer eye on him talking with Ahga and see what we can learn from the both of them.”

“And we’ve got the chance to see the castle should we need the reason to,” Pariton said. “Okay, Mr. Johan, let’s get to it.”

They walked across the street and entered the hotel that Wihll had gone into, making sure not to cause much attention to themselves. Johan reminded both Pariton and Luna to keep quiet as he watched Wihll open a door close by and enter the room, closing the door behind him.

“We can’t follow him in there, can we?” Luna asked.

“Just wait,” Johan said.

He crept up to the wooden door and proceeded to place his hand on it. A light push on the front was all he needed to know as he looked back at Luna.

“It’s hollow,” he said. “We’ll probably be able to hear, but I want you two to be on the lookout while I try to listen in.”

“Got it,” Pariton said.

He turned around as Luna did the same. Johan closed in, placing his ear on the door as he heard Wihll talking.

“I’ve finally made it,” Wihll said. “Now what exactly do you intend to have me do? Who do I kill?”

“Now, now, Victor, I want you to think before you go off on this mission,” Ahga said. “There’s no telling what will happen if you happen to botch this one up.”

“I was a high ranking member of the True Thekohnians,” Wihll replied. “I couldn’t have gotten that far without stepping on a few insects. No, it was practically a requirement!”

“Quiet down,” Ahga said. “I don’t want you to draw out any unneeded attention to ourselves.”

“Very well,” Wihll said. “You would do me well to tell me the name of my target, however.”

“Here.”

Silence followed as Johan wondered who Ahga wanted dead. There was a growing concern now that he was at the behest of Ahga and the Neu Thekohnian Order, but Johan had a suspicion that this person was much closer than he thought.

“You really want me to go after this person, Lauren Ahga?” Wihll asked. “I’m surprised.”

“As you should be,” Ahga replied. “Still, it would be terrible if any sort of interference were to be left unchecked, no matter who they may be.”

“You’re a much more ruthless man than I gave you credit for,” Wihll said.

“Sacrifices must be made in order for our plans to work,” Ahga said. “There was a nice little breakfast I had earlier, which muddied my decision, but that’s I’m asking you for help.”

“What’s in it for me?” Wihll asked.

“It will come in due time, Victor,” Ahga answered. “In due time.”

“How do I know you’re not just going to stab me in the back later?”

“After what she told you, you’re still not convinced?” Ahga asked.

“Let’s just say I want to read the fine print before I sell my soul away to you,” Wihll said.

“Read the note again,” Ahga said. “Don’t you wish you could have taken action earlier? But of course, things might have ended poorly for you.”

“Explain.”

“Consider this a mutual benefit,” Ahga said. “You take care of my problem, and the leader will take care of yours. She’s a nice woman once you get to know her, Victor.”

“You’ve been praising her for a while now,” Wihll said.

“It’s an admiration I have for her,” Ahga replied.

“I see how it is,” Wihll said. “Fine, consider the task done.”

“Thank you,” Ahga said. “By the way, have you heard about what’s happened in Bel?”

“Can’t say that I have,” Wihll answered.

“Well, you’re probably going to thank me later,” Ahga said. “Now go on and go forth!”

Johan separated himself from the door as he motioned over to Pariton.

“Let’s go,” Johan said.

“What happened?” Pariton asked.

“No time to talk about it now,” Johan replied. “Just get out of here.”

“Okay!” Luna said. “Where are we going?”

“To the castle,” Johan said. “We’ll find a way in, one way or another.”

 

*****

 

Brook stepped off the bus as he was now in the kingdom. There was little time for him to waste as he had to hurry to the castle. Rain had to be notified about what Brook learned back in Rezar.

“Damn it all, why now?” Brook asked.

He sprinted as fast as he could towards the castle, unaware of what was waiting for him. Still, if he was correct, then Rain was already there.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Sundown – Chapter 27 (Part 1)

[16th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Castle Interior Hallway]

 

Morning came around and Sorin got up early to prepare for the day. He had spoken with Gale for a considerable amount of time last night, which helped set him at ease as he knew he had no reason to worry. Sorin asked about the progress in Maeitakohn, to which Gale responded that Gavin, Law, and Eva were now in Bel looking for Mina’s mother and helping Henry’s troop stop the attack from the Neu Thekohnian Order. After that, Sorin rested easily and knew that he had to keep going as well. Downstairs, he went to the courtyard and saw that Rain was awake and humming a tune to herself.

“You’re exceptionally happy this morning,” Sorin said. “Did you receive the good news you sought?”

“No, it’s nothing like that,” Rain answered. “It’s just a simple song I learned as a child.”

“Really?”

“Well, I had a good sleep last night and felt like humming it,” she said. “Do you ever just feel that way?”

“Last night was the first time in the past few days I’ve had a good night’s sleep,” Sorin replied. “So I guess I can see where you’re coming from.”

“Glad you’re able to understand,” Rain said.

Sorin chuckled and nodded his head. “Speaking of last night, do you mind if I ask you something?”

“Go right ahead.”

“What happened, anyway?” Sorin asked. “Is your father alright?”

“That was what I heard,” Rain said, “But I can’t help but shake the feeling that something is going on.”

“You can’t rest until you see him for yourself, can you?”

“That’s it,” Rain replied. “It’s been over a month since I saw him last. Mind you, he’s always been a busy man but he had taken the time out of his schedule to speak with me and my siblings.”

“And not a word since then, I assume,” Sorin said.

“I fear that all I can do is wait,” Rain said. “Whatever’s coming our way, I just have to wait. At least I know I have Mina at my side… as well as you and Noa, of course.”

“Have you seen Mina, by the way?”

“Not since I woke up,” Rain answered. “Perhaps she’s sleeping in after the dinner we had with my sister.”

“It’s a bit unlike her, but you might be right,” Sorin replied. “If you happen to see Mina, let her know that I want to speak with her.”

“I will do that,” Rain said. “Are you going to go look for Noa now?”

Sorin looked back at the castle. “That’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “It’d be best to gather everyone here so we can figure out what to do next.”

“That’s a good idea,” she said. “I’ll await for you for you to return with Noa, then.”

“It won’t take too long, I hope,” Sorin said.

He went back into the castle and proceeded to look for Noa. Sorin was able to find the Maeitakohnian sniper looking around the Thedam family armory room and told Noa to come with him to the courtyard. Despite Noa wanting to stay longer, he agreed and went with Sorin to reunite with Rain. Outside, they found the princess and Mina as well, who were already talking to each other.

“I really did get quite a good rest last night,” Mina said. “Your bed is really comfy, Rain!”

“I’m glad you that were able to get the rest you needed,” Rain replied. “It really is quite a big bed, isn’t it?”

“You must have had no problems being able to sleep, either,” Mina said. “After what you said to me, it felt good to finally lay down.”

“Hey, we’re back,” Sorin said.

“Ah, Sorin, you’re in luck,” Rain said. “Mina happened to pop up just when you went back inside!”

“I see that,” Sorin replied. “Did something happen between you two overnight?”

“Not really,” Rain answered. “She just wanted to see how comfortable my bed was, that’s all.”

“That’s it?” Sorin asked.

“Indeed, that’s all it was,” Rain said.

“Those pillows were especially fluffy, too!” Mina added. “I can only think that that’s what sleeping on a cloud would be like.”

“Well, if that’s all it was, then I’m not going to pry any further,” Sorin said. “Though I have the feeling that that isn’t all there is between you and her…”

“Did you say something?” Rain asked.

“Nothing at all,” Sorin said. “Let’s just go over what we should right now.”

Sorin proceeded to go over the past few days. As he did, a visitor showed up which caught Sorin off guard as he stopped talking. In the gates was a man that Rain knew all too well. She turned around and smiled once she saw him.

“Sir Lauren!” Rain waved over to him. “You’re back so soon.”

“Ah, nice to meet you again, Your Highness,” Lauren replied. “I see that you’ve made quite a few friends on your travels.”

“Yes, it has been quite a journey for me,” Rain said. “Where is mother? Was she not with you?”

“I needed to make a stop before I head back to Rezar,” Lauren said. “There are some things I must retrieve.”

“So you’re in a hurry,” Rain said. “Would you care to at least meet with my friends before you go?”

Lauren grinned. “I suppose I can humor you all for a spell,” he said. “There must be a lot to learn from all of you, that much I’m sure of.”

“It would be nice,” Sorin said.

“Well, let’s get going, shall we?” Lauren asked. “There’s plenty a tale I could learn about you, Sorin Wilk.”

Before Sorin could respond, Lauren headed of for the castle. Sorin had to wonder how exactly he knew his name, but did not raise any questions about it. Instead, he just decided to follow after him with Rain, Mina, and Noa as they decided to delay talking about their plans for now.

 

*****

 

[16th of September, 2740 AD; New Mahrk Plaza in the Callitris District, Bel, Maeitakohn]

 

Gavin was the first to arrive at the plaza, along with Law and Eva as they stood in wait for Henry and his troop. The bright sun was already out in full force in the cloudless sky as Gavin adjusted his sunglasses. Though it had only been a few months since the Battle of Bel, the plaza was much more lively with people walking around.

“It looks like they do have an embassy for Ameci after all,” Law said. “We’ve got quite a lot of catching up to do, bro.”

“It looks like it,” Gavin replied.

“To think that this was the location of a massacre only a few months ago,” Eva said. “Looks like life manages to go on for the Maeita citizens.”

“Well, with Rhodes going out the way he did and his successor stepping up, people seem inspired,” Law said. “Time will tell if that remains true, though rumor has it the Mahrk is just another face for a higher authority.”

“It always seems to be that way here,” Eva said. “This country’s president goes down and another is propped in his place until either he gets assassinated or ousted from power. Stability continues to be fleeting for the people here and I don’t blame them at all for their feelings on the matter.”

“Wonder how long this guy will last, then,” Law replied. “Bro, do you see Henry yet? It’s getting kind of boring just waiting outside the embassy.”

“If you’re that fucking bored, just go head to the nearest bar,” Gavin said. “You usually do that anyway, so why not now?”

Law laughed. “I’m not that thirsty.”

“Anyway, I think we’re still waiting for them to get here,” Gavin continued. “Henry is certainly doing his damnedest to get here late.”

“Am I now?”

Gavin turned to his right and saw Henry standing there with his troop behind him. “You really are an asshole.”

“Still at it with the salty language, I see,” Henry said. “So, shall we head in already? I don’t think it’s a wise idea to share plans out in the open like this.”

“Yes, I think that that’s for the best,” Eva replied. “Come now, boys.”

“Hah, first time I’ve been called a ‘boy’ like that,” Law said. “Since you said it, though, I’ll allow it.”

“Let’s just go, dumbass,” Gavin said.

“Fine, fine, I’ve got no problem with that,” Law replied. “I’ll carry my feet and make sure not to get in the way.”

 

Up on the second floor of the embassy, Henry directed his men to sit at the arranged chairs while Gavin, Law, and Eva continued to stand up. They were still waiting for the general of the Maeitakohnian army to arrive. A few minutes passed by and then finally General Khadir walked through the doors with a few of his men as well. His presence made everyone take notice: though he was not the muscular phenom that Fercewend was, Khadir still had an impressive frame that suited a general like him. The clean cut short hair and mustache with goatee combination helped to top off the grand impression that he made on everyone in the room.

“So this is the leader of Rohan’s trusted troop?” Khadir asked. “I would’ve thought this to be a more lively group.”

“Well, general, we were just waiting for you to arrive,” Henry replied. “I wanted my men to treat you with the respect that befits a man like you.”

Khadir erupted into laughter as he shook Henry’s hand. “I’m just pulling your leg, Henry Randolph! Just being here is the nicest gesture you can give me.”

Henry could only smile in return. “That’s a relief,” he said. “I’ve heard the stories myself, but to see the man in the flesh is another thing.”

“You are way too humble for your own good, Henry,” Khadir replied. “There’s not a single soldier in this army that doesn’t know about the legendary duo of Fercewend and Randolph. Puff out your chest and yell at the top of your lungs once in a while!”

“I will try to do that,” Henry said.

“And I see you’ve brought some friends as well,” Khadir added. “Of course, I can recognize those long locks of hair from a mile away. Miss Eva Bellamy, the swiftest blade of the Swords of Eight standing right before my eyes!”

“Hello,” Eva said.

“You would think to greet me as well, wouldn’t you?” Gavin asked. “I was the one that defeated Victor Wihll in the palace!”

“It’s nice to meet you as well, Mr. Gavin Power,” Khadir replied. “Looks like you’ve brought good company, Henry!”

“Are you seriously forgetting me?” Law asked. “And let’s be honest: it wouldn’t hurt to have a change of scenery, don’t you agree? Get out of here and find a place where we can take in the eye candy, right, general?”

Gavin elbowed Law in the side. “Don’t start.”

Khadir laughed. “I admire you, son,” he said. “You’ve got that look about you where you just don’t have a single care in the world. You remind me of a younger version of my before I met my wife, god bless her!”

“Well, now that’s a story I’d like to hear for another time,” Law replied, “But we’d be going way off the rails if we started shooting the shot right here and now.”

“Once we’re done with this mission, perhaps we can do that,” Khadir said. “Now then, what our objective is is to find and rescue your missing person while my men take care of the Neu Thekohnian Order presence around here.”

“About that,” Henry said, “We’re curious about where it is we need to go.”

“Fortunately, I’ve already mapped out a radius of where your woman from Bryn is already,” Khadir replied. “I’ve received word from my best scouts that just outside Bel Dale exists a camp where these notorious terrorists are hiding out.”

“And we’re the ones that have to sneak in while you guys do the dirty work,” Law said as he began to clap. “Bravo, General Khadir. Bravo.”

“It’s been his modus operandi ever since he became the general of the Maeitakohnian military,” Henry said. “It is admirably pragmatic.”

“The way you say it makes me sound like nothing more than a simple, two-bit scoundrel,” Khadir replied. “Hahaha, just kidding! You do yourself well, you know that?”

“Whatever that means,” Gavin said. “It’s good to know that not everyone in your army is as spineless as that Noa Mzade.”

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone call him that,” Khadir said. “Needless to say, he’s anything but spineless.”

“Really now?” Gavin asked. “That… I guess I’ll take your word for it, then.”

“Alright, let’s just get to the point,” Henry said. “General, you’ve already set forth that plan, haven’t you?”

“Not exactly,” Khadir answered. “Meet at the entrance to Bel Dale and we can discuss our strategy there.”

“Very well,” Henry replied. “Looks like we’ve got a place to be, everyone.”

General Khadir then left with his men as Gavin pushed up his sunglasses and moved to the open door. He was the next to leave, followed by Law and Eva. Henry then motioned to his troop that they would leave last as they all set out for Bel Dale where the rescue mission would take place.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Sundown – Chapter 26 (Part 2)

[15th of September, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Rio Grove]

 

The scent of tulips was a warm welcome for Rain. She and the rest of her friends had finally made it into the kingdom that she called home. It was here that Rain could finally get to the bottom of the the potential assassination of her father. Before she could return home, though, she had to make it through the Rio Grove first, a place where many a tourist had nothing but high praise for.

“I bet you come here a lot, don’t you?” Sorin asked.

Rain nodded. “Whenever I feel tired or I just want to blow off some steam, I always come here,” she replied. “Though it’s been a while, to be honest. It’s almost nostalgic being here.”

“Wow, so this is where you grew up,” Mina said. “Just looking at that big tree over there almost makes me want to take a nap!”

“Hehe, don’t get tired yet,” Rain said. “I still want to make it home before we rest. I must ensure my father’s safety first and foremost.”

“It really is a nice place, though,” Noa said, as he soon muttered to himself. “If only I didn’t listen to him that day, then maybe…”

“Are you okay?” Rain asked.

“It’s nothing,” Noa answered. “I was just going over some thoughts in my head. Should we move on?”

“We can do that,” Rain said. “I know for a fact that my sister should be in the castle, so perhaps we can see what she has to say.”

“If nothing is holding us back, then let’s go,” Sorin said. “It’ll be my first time actually seeing your home up close.”

It took little time for the four of them to make it over to Thedam Castle, making it past the grove and towards the gates where two guards stood tall as if nothing could budge them. Upon seeing Rain, however, their faces turned from stoicness to delight.

“Your Highness, welcome back!”

“Same to you, Wess,” Rain replied. “And how are you, Thom?”

“We’re doing really good out here,” Thom replied. “There’s been no problems whatsoever to speak of, Your Highness!”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Rain said.

“Are we to assume these people are with you?” Wess asked.

“Yes, these are my friends,” Rain replied. “I’m sorry, but we’re in a bit of a hurry.”

“No need to apologize,” Wess said. “I understand it gets pretty hectic in the castles sometimes, so go right on ahead. As for you three, any friend of Her Highness is a friend that Thom and I can trust.”

“That so?” Noa asked. “Even someone like me?”

“You haven’t done anything wrong, have you?” Thom asked back to Noa. “Take a load off and enjoy the honor of visiting Thedam Castle, sir.”

Noa exhaled of sigh of relief. “Thank you,” he said. “I’ll try not to get in the way too much.”

“I’ll make sure you don’t,” Mina said, “After all, this is Rain’s home and we shouldn’t make too much of a mess while we’re here!”

“That’s quite enough for now,” Rain said. “Wess, Thom, have you seen my sister around?”

“Oh yes, she should be inside,” Thom answered. “She was actually wondering where you’ve been the past few days now. I’m sure it’ll put a smile on her face to see you return.”

“I’m sure it will,” Rain said. “She’ll get along with these three, I think.”

“Well, Princess Storm likes to learn,” Wess said. “No doubt she’s gonna ask them plenty of questions about who they are and what they do.”

“It would be surprising if she didn’t,” Rain said. “Anyway, I’ve held you two up for too long. Take care for now.”

“Same to you, Your Highness,” Thom replied.

“See you around,” Wess said. “Come see us again sometime!”

Rain laughed. “I’ll be sure to do that,” she said. She turned to Mina and the rest. “Shall we?”

Rain led the others past the gate and into the castle. Sorin took a look around the inside and it was as astonishing as he imagined it in his mind. The royal blue walls lined with sparkling gold stood out amongst all else as Mina and Noa walked up to the desk nearby. On the desk was a small, well sculpted statue of the first King of Thekohn, Meredith Rio Thedam.

“Woah, who’s this guy?” Mina asked.

“Ah, well, that happens to be my great, great, great, great grandfather,” Rain answered. “I take it you know how this region was founded, don’t you?”

“Sort of,” Mina said. “So he was the one who founded it?”

“Not by himself, no,” Rain said, “But he was part of a legendary group that helped to establish this land.”

“Thedam, Iiayine, Ahnle, Maein, and Ji. Though they were commonly referred to the founders of the ‘Thekohnian Region,’ there were multiple others that had settled into their own lands as well.”

Rain turned in the direction of the familiar voice. Her sister was atop the stairs and started to walk down.

“Sister, it’s so good to see you again,” Rain said as she rushed over to greet Storm. “How have you been?”

Storm embraced Rain. “I’ve been well,” she replied. “These are the friends you have traveled with?”

“Yes they are,” Rain said. “If you don’t mind.”

“Of course, of course, sister,” Storm said. She moved over to Mina and greeted herself. “Amazing, your handshake is quite strong.”

“Thanks,” Mina said. She then proceeded to give her introduction to Storm. “I’m every villain’s worst nightmare and I’ve been helping your sister along the way to help stop evil wherever it may be!”

“Well, you are indeed as flamboyant as you are powerful,” Storm said. “It looks as if my sister has made a very good friend in that regard.”

Sorin then introduced himself. “It’s an honor to meet you, Your Highness.”

“You don’t need to act so distant with me,” Storm said. “You are my sister’s friend, aren’t you? And the son of Kirk Wilk, at that.”

“The legend travels far,” Rain said. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting his father and he was as nice as they say.”

“Oh, if only I went with you,” Storm replied, “But I’m sure you wouldn’t have wanted me to get in your way, would you?”

“I know that you jest, but you wouldn’t have been burden to me on my trip,” Rain answered.

“If not for my studies, I’d have gone with you,” Storm said. “It’s not all the time one of us gets to see the rest of the world, so I’m glad you got to experience it firsthand, sister.”

“We’ve learned a lot from her,” Mina said. “Your home is really beautiful, by the way!”

Storm bowed. “Thank you, Miss Mina,” she replied. “I see your other friend here hasn’t spoken up yet.”

“Oh, Noa probably feels overwhelmed by your presence,” Mina said. “It’s just who he is, that’s all.”

“It’s not that,” Noa said. “I’m just not good at introductions… Or talking to people… Or much else besides what I’m good at…”

“You don’t need to put yourself down just because you’re in my sister’s presence,” Rain said. “Please make just make yourself comfortable.”

“Indeed,” Storm said. “If you will, perhaps you guys can join me for dinner tonight? I’ll let the chefs knew there are guests coming to dine.”

“That would be nice,” Sorin replied.

“Ooh, I wonder what they’ve got cooking tonight,” Mina said. “I can’t wait!”

Rain smiled. “I think you should tell the chefs to make some extra food, my dear sister.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen to your request, Rain,” Storm said. “If you’ll excuse me.”

Storm headed off in the direction towards the kitchen as Rain and the others were left to themselves. They received quite a treat at dinner later tonight, as Mina struggled to figure out what to eat first. Noa ate his meal slowly, making sure to enjoy the time he spent inside the grand castle, while Sorin answered every one of Storm’s questions about his father.

“I heard he helped lead the Ameci army to a victory in Bel Dale twelve years ago,” Storm said. “You must be very proud of his accomplishments.”

“I guess you could say so,” Sorin replied.

“Is it true he’s never taken a life?” Storm asked. “All the texts and news I’ve heard say that he was known as the ‘Forgiving Warrior,’ though many did say he would not hesitate to use force when necessary.”

Sorin hesitated for a few seconds. “He’s as kind as they say, I guess,” he said. “I’ve not had much the chance to ask him about his tales myself, however.”

“That’s odd,” Storm said. “You are his son, yet you’ve barely expressed any enthusiasm whenever you speak about him. Is something the matter?”

Sorin did not answer.

“I think that might be a bit too personal,” Rain said.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Storm exclaimed. “Please forgive me, Mr. Wilk.”

“It’s fine,” Sorin said.

“Well, I hope you can resolve whatever it is between you and your father,” Storm replied.

“Anyway, Noa, what do you think of the meal?” Rain asked.

“It’s exquisite,” Noa said. “I mean… it’s really delicious.”

“I’ll be sure to let the chefs know you said that,” Storm said. “They would appreciate the high praise coming from Mr. Noa Mzade.”

“You don’t need to do that,” Noa replied.

“Come on, I don’t think it would hurt,” Rain said.

“I just don’t want to bring a lot of attention to myself,” Noa said. “Please, let’s just drop it already.”

“How humble of you, Mr. Mzade,” Storm said. “I suppose that I can learn a lot from you.”

“Are you sure?” Noa asked. “If you learned what I’ve learned… Well, actually, never mind…”

He went back into eating his food as Rain turned to face Sorin.

“I’m going to take an early leave,” Rain said. “I have to go check up on how my father is doing.”

“I understand,” Sorin said.

“Thank you for treating us tonight, sister,” Rain said. “I’ve got to go take an early leave, though, so I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not,” Storm replied. “Just seeing you is enough of a treat.”

“Thanks again,” Rain said.

She stood up and headed out of the dining room as Sorin finished off his meal. With that done, all he could think about was what he was going to do once Rain finished up checking on her father. As he relaxed in his seat, though, Storm still had more questions.

“That girl over there,” Storm said as she looked at Mina from the corner of her eye, “Does she truly have bottomless stomach?”

“I don’t think that’s the case,” Sorin said. “Mina just trains a lot and she needs the sustenance to match that training.”

“Ah, I see now,” Storm replied. “Being a hero must be some rigorous work for you three.”

“It hasn’t been the easiest of rides, that much I can say,” Sorin replied.

Storm leaned in. “Do tell.”

“Maybe for another time,” Sorin said. “I think I’m going to go take a walk. Noa, Mina, would you guys like to come with me?”

“Sorry, I can’t,” Noa replied.

Mina took a break from eating. “Me neither!”

Sorin stood up. “I had a feeling,” he said. “Anyway, I’d like to thank you for your hospitality, Storm. You’re every bit as nice as your sister.”

Storm beamed. “Thank you!”

“Not a problem,” Sorin replied.

With that, Sorin exited the dining room and headed outside for a stroll. The sun was nearly gone now as night fast approached. Sorin knew that there was an uncertainty hanging in the air as he could only imagine what Gale was up to right now. Of course she would be safe, that much Sorin knew because Ayanna was every bit as strong and capable of handling a crisis. Still, he had to think what was going through Gale’s mind at the moment. Sorin had to know, which was why he went back inside and made it for the nearest telephone. Just hearing her voice would be reassuring as Sorin heard the phone ring once, twice, three times until the other side picked up.

“Hello?” Sorin asked. “Oh, I’m so glad to hear you!”

 

*****

 

Later into the night after all was said and done, Mina awoke from her rest and sat up in her bed. After she had finished eating, Mina went outside to train with the limited resources she had in the courtyard. She had wanted to continue into the night, but Rain had stopped her before it got too dark. There would be plenty more times for her to get better, Mina knew, but now she was awake late at night and needed to go.

“Where did Rain say the bathroom was again?”

Mina stepped out of the guest bedroom and out into the hallway. There was a dim light coming from the end of the hall as Mina followed it. What awaited her at the end was two different paths as Mina remembered that the bathroom was to the right. Once she was finished with her business, Mina started to head back to her room but noticed Rain looking at a framed picture.

“Rain, is that you?”

“Oh, Mina, you’re up,” Rain said as she turned around.

“Yeah, I got up because I had to pee,” Mina replied. “What are you doing?”

“I’m just thinking to myself,” Rain answered. “I tried to see how my father was doing earlier, but his retainers were quite insistent that he still needed his rest and denied me access.”

“Oh.”

“I’m honestly a little worried,” Rain said. “What will happen if, heaven forbid, he’s gone?”

“There’s still the queen, right?” Mina asked.

“I know, Mina,” Rain replied. “I just… I just worry about what the future holds and if I’ll be able to handle it. After what happened to the prime minister of your country, there’s no telling what direction Iiayikohn will take. I’m sure it’ll be the same difficulty for here should the worst happen.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Rain said. “Even if it gets bad, I’m going to tell myself not to cry. I have to keep a brave face for my family’s sake. No, not just them, but for the sake of my kingdom.”

“It doesn’t hurt to let a few tears out,” Mina said. “If… if you feel sad, you can rest your head on my shoulder!”

“Thank you, Mina,” Rain said. “I should be okay, though. I have to be if I want to stop this from happening.”

She came closer to Mina and looked her in the eyes.

“Besides, I have you at my side, don’t I?” Rain asked.

“You do?”

“I… I guess that was a little too close for comfort, wasn’t it,” Rain said. She sighed as she turned away. “To be honest, there’s something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for a while now but haven’t had the courage to say it.”

“You shouldn’t be afraid to say anything that’s on your mind,” Mina replied, “Just tell me what it is and I promise I won’t laugh or anything like that!”

“Always so simple with your words, aren’t you?” Rain asked. As she faced Mina once again, Rain let out a sigh of relief. “The thing is, I’m very glad to have met you. No other person has made me feel happier the way you have.”

“Really? Thanks,” Mina replied.

“It’s because of that happiness that I’ve come to develop strong feelings for you,” Rain said. “Feelings that no man has ever made me feel in my life.”

“You mean…?”

“If you don’t feel the same way, then I will understand,” Rain replied, “But if I don’t say it now, then when will I get the chance to say it? I love you, Mina. I have ever since the day I met you.”

“Are you serious?” Mina asked. “This… this isn’t a joke, is it?”

Rain shook her head and smiled. “I’d never lie to you about something like this,” she said as she grabbed Mina’s hands. “I can tell by the look in your eyes that you have something to say, too.”

“I do, I do,” Mina replied. “Oh gosh, I thought I could only feel this rush fighting villains, but I guess there’s a first for everything, isn’t there?”

“Of course,” Rain said.

“Well, I guess I want to say I love you too,” Mina said. “I wanted to know why I’d do so much for you, even more than all of my other friends, and I guess it’s because I love you so much!”

“I’m so happy to hear that coming from you,” Rain replied. “You know, up close I can see how cute your smile really is.”

“I… thanks,” Mina said. “Your smile’s really cute, too…”

“You just know what to say, don’t you?” Rain asked. “Oh, I just can’t hold back any longer… Mina, would you?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

Mina then shared the moment with Rain, though quiet as it may be, and enjoyed the feeling of love. Her lips up against Rain’s, Mina felt it to be true and wanted nothing more than to have this moment last forever. It was a newfound feeling and Mina did not want to let it get away from her.

 

To be continued…

 

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Sundown – Chapter 26 (Part 1)

[15th of September, 2740 AD; Tulip Lane Station, Oelaans, Thekohn – Felis District]

 

At long last, Rain had made it back to Oelaans. With Sorin, Mina, and Noa in tow, she had come back all this way in order to enter the kingdom she called home. With her mission still incomplete, Rain hoped that her newfound friends would be able to help. If she was to stop the assassination of her father, Rain needed to stay strong.

“So, Rain, what’s going on around here?” Sorin asked.

As they got off the train, they watched as a group of soldiers blocked off the nearby road. A lot of people tried to get by, but ended up being turned away or shoved to the ground. Rain knew that they had to get moving, so she decided to take charge and walk up to the soldiers at the blockade.

“Excuse me,” Rain said. “May I ask what is happening?”

The leading soldier turned his head and almost jumped when he saw Rain. “Your Highness! We had no idea you would come this way,” he said. “It’s nothing, really! Just a request from the queen!”

“Mind you share that request with me?” Rain asked.

“I’m really sorry,” the soldier replied, “But I was told not to share that information with anyone besides Her Majesty and Sir Lauren. I hope you understand.”

“I still don’t get it,” Rain said. “At least let us through so we can get into the kingdom.”

The soldier shook his head. “I’m afraid we’re not allowed to do that,” he said. “At this moment, we’re not to allot anyone access into the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn except for Her Majesty and Sir Lauren.”

“What does that mean for me?” Rain asked. “For us? For the people of this great land? Please answer me!”

“I’m must say I’m sorry once more, Your Highness, but that’s not for me to answer,” he replied. “If you have questions, you’ll have to ask Her Majesty for yourself. She’s currently in Rezar last I heard.”

“Rain, I think we should do what he says for now,” Sorin said as he helped Rain away from the blockade. “We’ll find a way to get in, I know it.”

“Yeah, we’re going to get into the kingdom no matter what!” Mina said. “Let’s just go, Rain.”

“I suppose your right,” Rain replied. “I almost let my anger get the best of me.”

“If that what you’re like when you’re angry, then I really don’t want to piss you off,” Noa said.

“You shouldn’t worry about that,” Rain said. “We’re just going to have to think of a different approach.”

“That’s the right idea,” Mina said. “Nothing’s going to stop us! Not even the queen herself!”

Rain covered her mouth as she tried not to laugh. “Well, I would hope it doesn’t come to that,” she said. “I’m sure that it’s just a misunderstanding of some sort. I honestly do not believe that there’s any way that my mother would act without a purpose.”

“So what can we do now?” Sorin asked.

“I suppose we’ll have to look around until I speak with my mother,” Rain said. “Perhaps we should head to the Oelaans Gardens first.”

“I used to go there a lot, actually,” Noa said. “It… makes me feel something, that much I know.”

“Oh, that was with that man, was it not?” Rain asked.

“Well, yes,” Noa replied.

“Then I guess it would be okay to go, if that’s fine with you,” Rain said. “There should be a phone in there, plus you’ll get to see all the displays.”

“Wow, what kinds of displays?” Mina asked.

Rain smiled. “You’ll see,” she said. “Let’s go there now.”

They took no time in heading for the Oelaans Gardens. For the the four of them, though, they were not alone. Off in the distance was a man clenching his fist dressed in an Iiayikohnian soldier’s uniform with a hat and sunglasses. He stood atop the steps leading to the courthouse as he continued to watch Sorin’s group head towards the gardens.

“They actually thought that they were rid of me,” he said. “Looks like I’m going to have to pay them a visit, after all.”

 

*****

 

Inside the Oelaans Gardens, Sorin viewed in on a small, but colorful, plant in the left area of the greenhouse. He admired the long leaves that lead up to the stem of the plant, but also liked the mixture of yellow and green on the petals. If only he were able to share the moment with Gale, he would have, but for now it would just be a tale until the she could see it for herself once the two come back to Oelaans on their own terms. He had to admit, though, that it was somewhat lonely not being by her side and he assumed that it was the same for her back in Rezar. Sorin knew he had to stay focused, but wished he could talk to Gale right now.

“You look so lost in thought,” Mina said.

“Is it that obvious?” Sorin asked. “I guess that I’m just thinking about the things that have happened so far.”

Mina slapped her hand on Sorin’s back. “I knew it! Anyone could see it a mile away! So, what are you thinking about?”

“It’s Gale,” he answered. “I must admit that I miss seeing her. We’ve been together for the past few months, almost inseparable I might add, and this is the first time I’ve gone on without her by my side.”

“Well, it must be tough,” Mina said, “But that’s what being a warrior is about, isn’t it?”

“Maybe it is,” Sorin said.

“Warriors like ourselves have to take whatever challenges come our way,” she said, “And when we win, we get even better! You’ll get through this in no time, I’m sure of it!”

“I hate to break it to you, Mina, but you really can’t relate to how I’m feeling,” Sorin replied. “At least, not yet.”

“What do you mean?” Mina asked.

“When you have someone you care about as more than just a friend, things change,” Sorin said. “What I feel when I talk to Gale is much different than when I talk to you or Rain.”

“I guess so,” Mina said. “Do you mind if I ask you what that feeling is?”

“Not at all,” Sorin answered, “Though it’s difficult to describe.”

“You can’t say that!” Mina said. “Remember, we’re warriors; nothing should be too hard to overcome!”

Sorin chuckled. “Thanks for that,” he said. “So, I guess you could say that I want to do everything possible for Gale, especially now. If you had somebody like that, you would do the same, wouldn’t you?”

“Of course I would,” Mina replied. “That kind of person you speak of, well, I’d feel exactly the same as you do.”

“It’s not just that, either,” he said. “Actually, maybe I shouldn’t go into it, after all.”

“Why not?” Mina asked.

“It’s… something personal I’d rather not say out loud,” Sorin answered. “Say, have you seen Noa around here?”

“No, I don’t think I’ve seen him ever since we entered,” Mina said. “I know Rain wanted to talk to her mother, but I haven’t seen her either.”

“That’s odd,” Sorin said. “What’s taking her so long?”

“You know, she might miss her,” Mina replied. “She’s been traveling with us for so long, she probably just wants to see how her mother’s doing!”

“Maybe, but I had the feeling that it wasn’t going to be such a personal call,” Sorin said. “I think we should go and see for ourselves what’s taking Rain so long.”

Sorin then headed off to the front with Mina following behind him. They walked past one of the displays, which was a large orb that was covered in silver, and towards the entrance to the garden. What awaited them there was a shock for sure as Noa cowered behind Rain as she confronted the man that was dressed in an Iiayikohnian soldier’s outfit. He stood in the entrance, his intimidating physique helping block off several people from going in.

“Just who are you, anyway?” Rain asked.

The man pulled on his gloves. “It doesn’t matter, now does it? No, what I’ve really come for is him.”

He pointed over to Noa, who could only stand and look at him in fear. Sorin and Mina joined Rain as they noticed the “soldier” as well.

“Come on, we don’t want to have to resort to violence, do we?” The man adjusted his sunglasses as he walked up to Rain. “Now, let me interrogate him like I’m supposed to…”

“I’m not going to let you do that, sir,” Rain said. “No matter what your reason is, whatever it is you’re looking for, I’m sure that Noa has nothing to do with it!”

“Who is this man?” Sorin asked.

“Just a soldier who happened to be in town,” the mysterious man replied. “I happened upon you lot the moment I saw you leave the train station.”

“If you’re a soldier in the Iiayikohnian military, then you’d have no trouble telling us what your name and rank are,” Sorin said. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you during my time in Rezar, if I’m being honest.”

The man laughed. “That’s… that’s because I’m a special agent,” he said. “Only the best in the world would keep his identity hidden.”

“I have trouble believing you,” Sorin replied. “Perhaps you should just admit that you’re just an imposter.”

“Show us your face, you liar!” Mina exclaimed.

“Are you sure that you want me to show you? Maybe you won’t like what you’ll see,” the mysterious man said. “Fine, it wasn’t like I was going to stay in town for long, anyway.”

He unraveled his gloves and tossed them to the ground. Next was the hat upon his head, dropping right next to his gloves as he revealed his blond hair for all to see. Last were the sunglasses, which instead of being thrown to the ground, the man gently removed them from his face, folded them, and tucked them into his breast pocket. Sorin, Rain, Mina, and Noa were all too busy looking in shock as they realized who stood in front of them. The familiar, sinister smile could only belong to the man they thought had been escorted back to the cell that he escaped from back in Aesker.

Mina pointed at Wihll. “You! I thought we took care of you back in Helm!”

“You really think a single, simple soldier would be enough to apprehend me?” Wihll asked. “No, I’m no fool. Not anymore, at least.”

Sorin moved his hand to the handle of his sheathed sword. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t bother withdrawing your sword,” Wihll said. “Besides, I’m only here for that man cowering behind Her Highness.”

“You’ve got business with Noa?” Sorin asked. “How were you able to attain that outfit, anyway?”

“I bid my time during my capture back in Helm,” Wihll replied. “The dumb bastard never saw it coming and I took his clothes as a reward. After that, I made my way here and found out a very interesting fact regarding your friend along the way.”

“I honestly don’t know what to make of this,” Sorin said.

“What is this fact you speak of?” Rain asked.

“I thought that you would have known, Your Highness,” Wihll said. “Anyway, perhaps I shouldn’t divulge that information so easily. What would that spy think?”

“That spy?” Sorin asked. “You don’t mean…”

“You sound interested,” Wihll replied. “Too bad, I’ve got places I need to be right now, but I’ve given you a little something to gnaw on in the meantime.”

Victor Wihll turned around and made a dash out of the garden and onto the street. Mina tried to hurry after him, but was stopped by Rain at the entrance.

“No, don’t go after him,” Rain said.

“But Rain, I can’t just let him get away with it,” Mina replied, “He’s the villain and we have no clue what he’ll do next!”

“It’s not that,” Rain said.

At that moment, a truck sped down the street. It looked as if the driver was aiming for Wihll, who saw the vehicle coming as he dove out of the way at the last possible moment. The truck went and crashed into the nearby lamppost as Wihll then ran off.

“I can’t believe it!” Mina exclaimed. “Are they okay?”

“Let’s go check them out before we do anything else,” Sorin said.

Sorin exited the garden and walked towards the truck that now had smoke coming out from underneath its hood. As he got closer, however, he heard the most recognizable voice that he did not want to hear.

“For the love of fuck, Erik!”

Korbin thrust open the door and hopped out onto the street. Erik and the rest of the other Ameci soldiers soon made their way out of the truck as Korbin grabbed Erik by the arm.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Erik replied. “That asshole just leapt out of the way at the last second!”

“You goddamn dumbass, that was Victor Wihll!” Korbin yelled as he punched Erik in the face. “You think that general’s gonna like it when he hears you let an escaped man get away?”

“I’m sorry, Korb,” Erik said, “I’m not going to let it happen again!”

Korbin panted as he let out his frustration on Erik once more. “You let him get away, shithead,” he said, “As in you weren’t able to splatter his guts all over the fucking road!”

“How can say that?” Sorin asked.

Korbin stopped his assault and let Erik go as he turned around. “Ah, hey, Sorin! How’s life treating ya?”

“Just fine, thanks,” Sorin replied as he looked away.

“Oh, don’t be like that, man,” Korbin said.

“Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but our guy’s getting away,” Bradley said. “You can catch up with your buddy later.”

“Whatever you say,” Korbin replied. “Looks like we’ve got a job to do. I’ll happen upon you later, okay, Sorin?”

Korbin and the rest of his troop grouped together and hurried after Wihll in the direction he had ran off in while Sorin looked on dumbfounded at what had just happened. Rain and Mina were quick to join up with Sorin soon after as Noa slowly trailed them both.

“Dare I ask what that was about?” Rain asked.

Sorin shook his head. “I have no clue,” he said. “The past few minutes feel like a distraction.”

“It’s been like that since we’ve arrived,” Rain said. “Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of damage here.”

People gathered around as they were all focused on the truck that sat there, the front of the car dented thanks to the lampost. Sorin turned away from the wreck as he regrouped with the other three.

“You were really quick to notice that truck speeding in,” Mina said to Rain. “I don’t know what I can say except thank you!”

“It’s nothing, really,” Rain replied as Mina hugged her. “Oh, well, I guess that’s fine… Fine, indeed…”

Mina pulled herself off of Rain and laughed nervously. “Sorry, I guess I got carried away,” she said. “Wait! What about the blockade? Maybe now with what’s happened, we can get into the kingdom!”

“Well, this is certainly the way we can get in,” Noa said. “I have to admit I’m a little enthusiastic about seeing it for myself.”

“We can be happy once we get there,” Rain said. “There should be a bus that heads out to the kingdom in the Rio Plains, so let’s not hesitate any further.”

 

*****

 

Johan entered Oelaans and watched from the window to see the chaos slowly unfold as Luna and Pariton watched with him. He had come at the worst possible time as he knew that there was a chance that the Ameci military was already in town. A couple of soldiers stood around the entrance while the bus made its final stop. He would have to hurry to the next bus, Johan thought to himself as he got up from the back seat.

“It seems like we’ve been beat,” Johan said.

“That’s bad, right?” Luna asked. “Can we still make it to Oelaans?”

“This might actually be the break we need,” Johan replied. “With the Ameci military running around, there’s probably a diversion that’s got the task force here scattered.”

“Oh, so I guess we don’t need to do much,” Luna said as she looked down at the floor.

“You sound disappointed,” Pariton said.

“Well, I wanted to try out my skills,” Luna replied. “Those guys would have probably wanted to hear the call of a cute girl like myself, but I guess we’ll never get to see what would really happen.”

“I bet they would’ve fallen for it,” Johan said. “With your gift, I’d bet they’d listen to whatever you had to say.”

“You really mean that?” Luna asked. “Hearing you say that really lifts my spirits now! I can totally do this!”

“Let’s go now,” Johan replied. “Hopefully we don’t get caught out there…”

Johan hurried off of the bus and onto the streets as he watched the Oelaans officers run down the street nearby. With all the commotion, Johan knew that he would have an easy time getting onto the bus to the kingdom. Pariton and Luna came to his side as they moved past the crowd and towards the other side of the town. With nothing left to hold them back, Johan, Pariton, and Luna eventually arrived at the station and hopped onto the bus. What none of them knew, however, was that there was another passenger onboard. As the bus began to move, the blond haired man sat a few seats away from the three.

“So we meet again,” Wihll said. “What a nice surprise, Johan Kuu.”

 

To be continued…

 

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