Aurora – Chapter 44 (Part 1)

[2nd of January, 2741 AD; outside of the Ameci Embassy, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

Sorin and Gale arrived outside the Ameci Embassy and caught a glimpse of the commotion inside. It had taken them several minutes to get there from where they started at, but still Sorin did not expect it to be any different. He had many questions that only Isaac Kunigunde could answer for and only so little time for him to answer. So when he and Gale entered the main hall, Sorin was met with a great surprise as several soldiers and General Fercewend crowded together in a huddle. Fercewend was barking orders at the soldiers as they then began running around the embassy with haste.

“Call an ambulance,” Fercewend said, “We’re not going to have a casualty in this embassy. Not here, not now!”

He then knelt down as Sorin proceeded to get a better look. He could not believe what he saw as Isaac Kunigunde lay on the ground in what appeared to be a puddle of his own blood. Gale hurried towards Fercewend as he looked over at her and reacted with great surprise.

“Gale?” Fercewend asked. “What in the world are you doing here?”

“We’re here because we wanted to confront Isaac,” Gale said. “But I can see that that’s not important right now. Is he doing well?”

“He’s still conscious,” Fercewend replied. “It’s a miracle, really.”

Sorin walked up to Isaac and looked down at him. “Who did this?”

“I… I’m not going to answer you,” Isaac said. “I’d rather die than surrender to you…”

“We’re not going to allow you the satisfaction of escaping with your crimes, Isaac,” Gale said. “Once we’re at the hospital, you’re going to confess to all of what you’ve done from the True Thekohnians to the Neu Thekohnian Order, as well as Foundation itself.”

“You… You would stab me?” Isaac asked. “After what I’ve done, you’d still stab me in the back?”

“It’s always been about you, hasn’t it,” Gale said. “Even now, you’re lying on the floor because your selfish ways caught up to you and yet you still think about no one but yourself.”

“Gale, please,” Fercewend said. “Isaac… he’s the victim of an unfortunate encounter with a rogue soldier. I’ll make sure the one responsible is caught and punished severely for his crime.”

“He’s not a victim at all,” Gale replied. “Can’t you see that, Rohan? Isaac is only using you. He’s been using you all this time!”

Fercewend sighed. “I can’t afford to go back now,” he said. “If I must face the consequences, then I will do so, but I’m not going to allow any disruption to the order. Not as long as I’m general.”

“That’s absurd,” Sorin said. “After all that’s happened, you still want to side with him?”

“It’s not as if I’ve got a choice,” Fercewend said. “If you want to say Isaac is guilty, then so be it. But it would also mean that I, too, am complicit.”

“That’s… That’s right,” Isaac said. “No matter what happens next, Rohan will remain loyal to me…”

“So you intend on dragging him down with you to the very end,” Gale said. “Even if that means you’ll go to jail for the rest of your life, you don’t want to be the one to suffer alone.”

“I… I’m not going to suffer,” Isaac replied. “I… My body… I will remain… on top…”

Isaac lifted up his arm, which dropped to the floor the next second. Gale held back a gasp as Fercewend checked his pulse. The sound of sirens began to grow louder as Sorin glanced out the window.

“He’s alive,” Fercewend said, “Though we’re going to need a lot of hope now.”

“Please tell me, Rohan,” Gale said. “If Isaac won’t admit it, then you’ll have to do it instead. You saw what happened to him, right?”

Fercewend stood up with his fist clenched. “That I did,” he replied. “If only I weren’t so hesitant, then maybe Isaac wouldn’t be so wounded right now. Damn my foolishness!”

Gale looked over at Isaac once again. “Who was it that shot him? You did say it was a soldier, after all.”

Before Fercewend could respond, Sorin spoke up.

“I think we already know,” Sorin said. “There’s only one person with a deep connection to Isaac, and he has the exact method to do it.”

“I know,” Gale said. “But Rohan doesn’t want to admit it.”

“It isn’t that I can’t admit it,” Fercewend said. “I don’t want to believe what I saw earlier, but that man with Private Mars… He truly walks again?”

“There’s more to Isaac’s relationship with Harold,” Gale said. “A lot that I believe he never let you in on.”

“I can’t believe it,” Fercewend said. “After all that happened to his family, I could not even begin to imagine that Private Mars would be working alongside his father all this time.”

“Korbin was never in it for Ameci, or anyone, for that matter,” Sorin said. “He only has his own desires to fulfill and I’m sure that some of them relate to what Harold wants as well.”

“And Isaac, I assume, never suspected a thing,” Gale said.

“None of us could,” Fercewend said. “Though it does make me wonder…”

“What is it?” Gale asked.

“It’s nothing,” Fercewend replied. “It appears as if the ambulance is here. Let’s go.”

“Go ahead,” Gale said. “We’ll catch up with you later.”

Fercewend nodded. “Very well.”

Sorin left with Gale as they wondered what to do next. As they stepped onto the sidewalk, they were met with Gavin, Henry, and Law who made it all the way from the new prime minister’s office. As the three looked over towards the ambulance, Sorin and Gale went over to greet them.

“There’s a lot to explain,” Sorin said.

“You’re telling me,” Gavin said. “We’ve got news for you, too.”

“Yeah, some pretty good news, in fact,” Law said. “Gale, are you ready to be wowed by what I’ve got to say?”

“Just say it already,” Gale replied.

“Geez, fine,” Law said. “I was really going to talk up Mina, but I suppose we can only really account everything after the fact.”

Law explained to Sorin and Gale about Dezine’s ousting and what Mina did to insure his removal. With Wilson Dezine gone, another member of Foundation was defeated and Isaac’s power diminished because of it. Still, Sorin felt as if that was not the only news Law had.

“What about Reiss?” Sorin asked.

“What of him?” Law asked. “He’ll be here soon enough, don’t worry.”

“I guess,” Sorin replied.

“You don’t really seem that enthusiastic,” Law said. “Man, we really came at a bad time, didn’t we?”

Everyone turned as the doors to the nearby ambulance opened up. Two paramedics rushed into the embassy with a stretcher as Sorin looked back over to the other three. Gavin, Law, and Henry remained focused as they caught sight of who was being carried out of the embassy, with Fercewend following after the paramedics as he went into the ambulance with them and Isaac.

“He isn’t actually dead, is he?” Henry asked.

Sorin shook his head. “Still stable,” he replied. “Though we’ve still got a lot we want to talk to him about.”

“As well as a lot he has to answer to,” Gale said. “And I’m sure that Queen Amelia wants to let the people know exactly what happened between her and Foundation.”

“I can’t help but feel it’d be better if he actually did die,” Gavin said. “I’m sorry, I’m still pissed off after what happened.”

“This should be good news,” Henry said. “As long as Isaac’s still alive, we’ll be able to hold him accountable for what he’s done.”

“I wonder about that,” Sorin said.

He then explained to the others about how Korbin, directed by Harold, shot Isaac. Sorin surmised that Isaac was supposed to die but Korbin messed up the shot and left with Harold in an instant before they could confirm whether or not Isaac died.

“If I had to guess, it was pressure,” Henry said. “Having that man breathing down your neck can’t be good for you, even for someone like Korbin.”

“He has been acting a lot more paranoid,” Sorin said. “It’s pretty difficult to believe that Korbin could even act that way, but it makes sense.”

“Harold’s ramping up the pressure, that’s why,” Law said. “Whatever that guy wants, no one was offering enough to him. That’s why he saw it fit to have his son attack Isaac.”

“Either way, we’d have to hurry to the hospital,” Henry said. “As long as both Rohan and Isaac are together, Isaac will continue to use him. I’m not about to let him keep doing that.”

“Rohan is set on falling with Isaac no matter what,” Gale said. “Even if he knows that Isaac’s a criminal, I can’t convince Rohan to stop what he’s doing and denounce Isaac.”

“It doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying,” Henry replied. “I’m going to keep believing in my friend even if he can no longer do so, because I know he has done the same for me. Because I know how it feels when everything seems lost.”

“Looks like we should move on, then,” Law said. “I’ll be sure to let Ayanna know where we are.”

Everyone agreed and headed in the direction of Helmut Hospital. Still, the fact that Harold and Korbin were roaming around the city remained prevalent in Sorin’s mind while he walked with his friends. The rule of Foundation seemed to be all but over, but still the lurking terror in the darkness worried Sorin. He had to wonder if Johan was getting any closer to the truth, and if it would be enough to take down the last remaining leg of Foundation.

 

*****

 

[2nd of January, 2741 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Hall]

 

“Wilson Dezine’s reign is finally over,” Rain said. “I am beyond glad to hear that from you, Mina.”

It had been a long day in the castle as Rain spent most of her time speaking to the other leaders about what to do in Iiayikohn. With the news of Dezine’s fall, however, Rain was ready to turn that discussion towards one of productivity. It all began when Amelia called her earlier in the day. Ahnlikohn’s queen wanted to come forward with everything she knew about Foundation, even if it came at the cost of her own status. Rain agreed, the two settling on the next day for Amelia to inform the citizens of her country about all that had happened and what she had to do next. Still, Rain knew that this was only the first step of many and could not call it a day, not when there was much to resolve with Ameci.

“So I guess we’re just waiting for Reiss, aren’t we?” Mina asked.

“Has he not arrived? I was hoping to speak with him,” Rain said. “Tell him this when he gets to your location: it’s up to him whether or not he wants the task of leading Iiayikohn. Other than that, tell him ‘thank you’ for everything.”

“I’ll be sure to let him know,” Mina replied. “Hope to see you soon!”

“Me too, Mina, me too,” Rain said. “I’ll see you soon.”

She said her goodbyes to Mina and hung up the phone. The empty room was an odd, but welcome, sight. Everyone had gone to take a break from all of the talks, but Rain still remained inside because she was awaiting the call from Rezar. Now that the call was over, however, Rain saw little need to stay in the war room and headed out into the main hall. There, she found Kiku and Noa talking with Khadir, who started to laugh aloud. Gamal was also there, as was Rado, the two speaking with each other as Rain approached them.

“Good news, isn’t it?” Rado asked.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Rain said. “It’s all going well, but still we’ve got one last matter of business to take care of before we can truly move forward and bring peace across the region.”

“Indeed, we’ve got Mr. Kunigunde to worry about,” Gamal said. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now with one of his closest allies ousted from power. To be honest with you, I don’t believe he sees it as much of a scratch.”

“He’d drop Dezine in an instant,” Rado said. “Then he’d claim that Dezine was never strong at all. Not worthy.”

“So, Your Majesty, what will be the next course of action?” Gamal asked. “I would think that our priority now is to go forth and confront Ameci’s officials on their actions regarding Mr. Kunigunde, but it’s all up to you.”

“We don’t have much of a clue about Casper Bradley’s whereabouts,” Rain said. “Hasker will also be difficult to reach as he’s still crossing the sea. I believe it would be best if we let the others take care of Mr. Kunigunde right now, because if we don’t, he’ll find a way to escape.”

“She is right,” Rado said.

“Then I hope we’ll find out soon,” Gamal said. “For now, I’ll keep waiting until we hear more from Rezar. I will inform you if anything interesting comes up, Your Majesty.”

“Very well,” Rain said.

“Your Majesty, are you going to just stand there and not pay some mind to our guests of the hour?” Khadir asked.

Rain looked over as Khadir cracked a smile. Kiku and Noa noticed, too, as Kiku motioned to Rain to come over. Rain decided that it was a good time to see for herself what was going on and went over to the three who were still deep in conversation.

“I was just saying to Noa here that he should really think about coming back to Maeitakohn,” Khadir said. “Not forever, obviously, but at least to see all of the sights he’s probably missing.”

“And I was saying to Khaddy that it would be a wonderful idea,” Kiku said. “But I don’t want it to be just us, you know, right Ray?”

“I suppose I do,” Rain replied.

“When this is all over, you and Minnie could join us,” Kiku said. “It’ll be just like a whole trip and everything. We’ll see all the sights in Maeitakohn and have a lot of fun! You could really use it, too!”

“I’ll certainly think about it,” Rain said.

“It would be fun,” Noa said. “Then again, what’s this whole region going to look like after this is all over? I really don’t know…”

“That’s for all of us to figure out,” Rain replied. “We’re here because we’re trying to put an end to the problems at hand. We’re closer now, but questions do remain in regards to what we’re going to do once this is all over.”

“True,” Khadir said. “This is merely the starting point once again. I’m sure with Kunigunde and Foundation both taken down, though, we’ll be able to work together towards peace once more”

“I know that we will,” Rain said. “As long as we have hope, then none of this is impossible.”

Just then, Rado approached the group and interrupted the conversation. Gamal followed behind him as Rain turned towards the two as she wondered to herself what happened now.

“You have a moment, Your Majesty,” Rado said.

“What’s going on now?” Rain asked. “Has something happened in Rezar?”

“Could say that,” Rado replied.

“We just got a call from Ayanna Ansa,” Gamal said. “She wanted to tell you that Mr. Kunigunde is in the hospital right now.”

“Does Ayanna know why he’s in there?” Rain asked.

“That I don’t know yet,” Gamal replied. “According to Miss Ansa, she heard it from Law. Seems like whatever happened to Mr. Kunigunde may turn out to be serious, though.”

“So we don’t know for sure,” Rain said.

“Isaac is a coward,” Rado said. “Whatever is the reason, he must be trying to draw sympathy.”

“Perhaps, but we should gather all the details we can first,” Rain said. “I’ll see if I can reach the hospital.”

“That’d be a good idea,” Gamal said. “Mr. Power should be there as should his brother, according to Miss Ansa.”

“If that’s the case, then I want to know, too,” Khadir said. “Hell, we might even learn a thing or two about what this son of a gun’s going to do now.”

“I feel like I ought to know as well,” Kiku said. “Since I’m next in line to lead Kikuisha, it’d be important to learn this sort of stuff so we can never have to deal with problems like this ever again. Wouldn’t you agree, Nona?”

“If it means no more wars, then I’m all for it,” Noa said.

“Come along, then,” Rain said.

Rain knew that there was much that she wanted to ask but getting answers out of Isaac himself would be a difficult task, even in his fragile state. Still, Rain could not give up. Not when Foundation’s end was nigh. The kingdom depended on Rain and her leadership, and she was not about to let an opportunity like this slip away from her. This was her chance and she had to take it.

 

To be continued…

 

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Aurora – Chapter 40 (Part 1)

[1st of January, 2741 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Hall]

 

Rain expected a visit from the government of Kikuisha, but she did not expect to see Kiku Izumi and her bodyguards to arrive out of nowhere. Noa also attended, which led to a brief confrontation between him and Gamal. All Rain could do was watch as the two men talked it out.

“I promise I’m not that suspicious!” Noa said. “You’ve seen me before, haven’t you?”

“Of course, we’ve met before,” Gamal replied. “I just wanted to greet you, that is all. That’s the polite way of doing things, isn’t that right?”

“But… But I heard that President Khadir would be here,” Noa said. “How am I supposed to remain calm when he’s here?”

“Nona, we’ve been through this before,” Kiku said. “It’s no different than what happened last time. You don’t need to worry because you have me at your side!”

“I know, I know, I may just be overthinking it,” Noa said. “The last time, it wasn’t even that bad… but what if he was just putting on an act just to make me feel secure so he could let me have it the next time we meet?”

“I doubt that will happen,” Ayame said. “That man doesn’t seem the type to hold a grudge, especially not against you.”

“You think so?” Noa asked. “Wait, what exactly do you mean when you say that he especially wouldn’t hold a grudge against me?”

“It means you shouldn’t worry about it,” Ayame replied. “We can keep on talking about this or we can talk to Her Majesty. Thank you for letting us in, Sir Gamal.”

“Yes, thank you,” Igor said. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

Gamal shook Ayame and Igor’s hands. “You’re very welcome,” he said. “Of course, President Khadir won’t be here until tomorrow morning.”

“Wait, really?” Noa asked. “I thought that he’d be here today! Then what in the world was I getting worried about?”

“See, I told you not to worry,” Kiku said as she grabbed Noa by his arm. “We don’t need to worry about the little things.”

“Yes, there are greater problems to worry about,” Rain said. “I was under the impression that Yamazaki would make her way here, though. Is something the matter?”

“There isn’t,” Ayame replied. “She will also be arriving tomorrow. Madame Izumi just insisted on coming a day early because she wanted to see you, Your Majesty.”

“Let’s not be so formal around our friends, Aya,” Kiku said. “I know how serious this is, but we can afford ourselves a little break in the work, can’t we? I certainly would like to think that we could spend a little time with Ray here; she must be so bored without Minnie around to comfort her… Speaking of which, is Minnie a jealous type?”

“Why do you ask that?” Rain asked.

“Oh, forget about it, Ray,” Kiku said. “Please forgive me for asking a trivial question.”

“I don’t think now is the time for trivial questions, madame,” Ayame said. “We’re here because Her Majesty believes we need to set out a course of action before we go about tackling this organization.”

“That’s exactly why we’re here and why we’re having Khadir as well,” Rain said. “But that isn’t all I’ve got to say. There is some good news.”

“Well, I like hearing good news,” Kiku said.

“It’s fortunate that you arrived when you did,” Gamal said. “Her Majesty’s made a breakthrough with the Ahnle royal family.”

“You did?” Kiku asked. “That’s great, Ray!”

“None of it would have happened without the help of others,” Rain said. “I must thank them for their efforts, though I can’t say that they escaped completely unscathed.”

After she spoke with Amelia, Rain received another call from Sorin. As she found out from him, Rain knew that she could not do much in the moment to go and support them after Jelka’s demise. She knew there was no reason for her to blame herself, but Rain felt like she owed it to Jelka for what she had done. That was the least Rain could do for her. But for now, Rain had to remain focused on what was ahead of her now that she had that connection with the Ahnle family once again.

“I’m so sorry,” Kiku said.

“Life is pretty unforgiving sometimes,” Noa said. “Even when something goes right, the cost can be pretty high.”

“We won’t let her death be in vain, that much I can guarantee,” Rain said. “She wanted to take down Foundation as much as the rest of us, so I’m sure she’d be encouraging us no matter what.”

The room turned silent as no one had another word to say. Rain was not sure if she should add to it or move on to the next topic at hand. Soon enough, though, Kiku had something to say.

“I know that I never knew her, but I believe so, too,” Kiku said. “I want to help in any way possible, Ray, so if there’s anything that we can do, then please let me know!”

“Madame, are you sure about this?” Igor asked. “The empress hasn’t even arrived yet, so I’m not sure we should act so outlandishly before she arrives to give her statement.”

“Oh come on, Iggy, this is important,” Kiku replied. “Mother would say the same thing too if she were here, but she isn’t, which is why I’m saying it! We need to act now before things get out of hand! Kikuisha must unite with the Kingdom of Thekohn and put a stop to Foundation!”

“How long has it been since you were this passionate, I wonder,” Ayame said. “Normally, I would agree with Igor, but sometimes we can’t just stay on the sidelines while injustice is abound.”

“Then you agree, Aya?” Kiku asked.

“I think you’re right, madame,” Ayame replied. “No, I know you’re right. I don’t want things to escalate any further than they already have. That is why we have to unite with Rain here.”

“Well, I don’t know if I can call this official, given that Yamazaki isn’t here yet,” Rain said. “Until I talk with her, I can’t exactly move forward.”

“You can,” Kiku said. “Just let me handle things with my mother. I know I will be able to convince her because she will understand the plight!”

“Consider it official, Your Majesty,” Ayame said. “She may not wield all the power, but Madame Izumi is still an important figure. After all, she is the next in line and this is a good example of the leadership that she is capable of showing in trying times like these.”

“Then all I need now is President Khadir’s help,” Rain said. “That should be easy, I believe. Thank you, Ayame. Actually, thank all of you.”

“You’re thanking me?” Noa asked. “What did I do?”

“It’s obvious, you know,” Kiku said. “You were such a help to Ray back then, she just wanted to give you a proper thanking.”

“I figure that since we have some past together, we can cooperate together and see how we can take on Foundation,” Rain said. “You wouldn’t mind lending us your insights, would you Noa?”

“You… You really think my insights are valuable?” Noa asked.

“We’ve got some good allies helping the kingdom,” Rain said. “It wouldn’t hurt to add another, especially since you’re trained in a field that none of the others have that much expertise in.”

“See, Nona?” Kiku asked. “You’re already valuable!”

“Just my luck, I guess,” Noa said. “I mean, you’re really sure about this? I’m not that much of an expert, but I suppose that I can help you out.”

“I’m asking you this because I trust you,” Rain replied. “Maybe you don’t think so, but I like to think that we can operate on that trust.”

“I understand,” Noa said. “If you believe in me, then I’ll do it. I will lend my hand to this cause, because I know you’re fighting for what’s right. Foundation is no different from the True Thekohnians and the Neu Thekohnian Order, and I’ll do what I can to help you stop them.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Noa,” Rain said.

“It’s because the way you speak your message is real,” Noa replied. “I can believe in you because of that… and I can consider you a friend because of it, as well. You, Sorin, Mina, and all the rest.”

“As do I,” Ayame said.

“Then I’ll be looking forward to working with you,” Rain said. “Right now, however, the sun has already begun to set. You’re welcome to lodge here at the castle if you want.”

“That wouldn’t be a problem, would it?” Kiku asked Ayame.

“I don’t see why not,” Ayame said.

“You could ask me too, madame,” Igor said. “Though I don’t have a problem staying here as long as you want to stay here.”

“Is it me or have you gotten better at speaking the local language, Igor?” Rain asked. “That is, if you don’t mind me asking you that question.”

Igor chuckled. “Ayame’s been on my neck about learning advanced Theias,” he replied. “So I’ve been reading and reading and reading and I feel like I’m at the point where I can grasp some of the regional phrases, though I guess I’m not at the final point yet.”

“It certainly shows,” Rain said, not bothering to correct Igor’s mistake. “Keep it up.”

“I will,” Igor replied.

“Iggy really has come a long way, hasn’t he?” Kiku asked. She then went up to Rain and whispered in her ear. “Maybe he’ll finally be able to ask Aya out after this is all over…”

“Oh my,” Rain said.

“Madame, what did you just say to her?” Igor asked.

“You don’t need to worry,” Kiku replied. “It’s just a little exchange between a queen and the empress’ daughter. Pay no mind.”

“Whatever it was, it sure managed to leave an impression on Rain,” Noa said. “Well, maybe I shouldn’t ask…”

“I wonder what she said,” Ayame said. “Though I would guess that it most likely doesn’t matter at this point.”

Rain felt no need to comment any further. She had already attained full support from Kikuisha thanks to Kiku. She thanked the four, as did Gamal, with them accepting the thanks as they then went upstairs. Everything was beginning to move in the right direction, Rain thought. However, as she wondered what to do now,  Rain noticed Ayanna walking towards her with a concerned look on her face. Something had to have happened.

“Rain, I have some urgent news,” Ayanna said.

“What is it?” Rain asked.

“I just received a call from Gavin,” Ayanna replied. “Looks like Dezine just placed Drake Rask under arrest. Foundation is acting quickly.”

“They’re moving fast,” Rain said.

“What’s our plan, Your Majesty?” Gamal asked.

“Well, I’m wondering about Mina first,” Rain replied. “I think it’s important that she knows what’s happening right now.”

“They’re staying at that hotel,” Gamal said. “Do you want to call them right away?”

“Before you do so, Rain, I’ve got more news,” Ayanna said. “Gavin said that he heard from one of the officers that Dezine’s has begun lockdown in Iiayikohn. No one can enter or leave the country, even if they are of Iiayi descent.”

“So to protect Isaac Kunigunde, he’ll take drastic measures,” Gamal said. “I have to say that this Wilson Dezine has some dedication to his cause, twisted as it may be.”

“Measures that are against Thekohnian conventions,” Rain said. “There is no way he can get away with closing off Iiayikohn to the rest of the region. We’ll make sure of that.”

“It will be a matter of time before people realize,” Ayanna said. “Travelling between Iiayikohn and Ahnlikohn is popular, and for those stuck in between, the change will be noticed. Absolutely no one will stand for it.”

“No, of course not,” Rain said. “We established this after the War of the Lands ended. Dezine’s sudden actions will be felt immediately.”

“If you ask me, I have my doubts that this is to protect Isaac Kunigunde,” Ayanna said. “Regardless, we must act now.”

“Then let’s go,” Rain said.

Ayanna had a point. Why would Dezine do something against Thekohnian convention in order to protect Isaac? Rain had to think about it, but for now, she needed to reach out to Mina and the others in Ahnlikohn.

 

To be continued…

 

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Aurora – Chapter 31 (Part 1)

[30th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Hall]

 

As the sun went down outside the castle walls, Rain waited in the main hall with Mina and the others. It had been some time since Sorin had left the castle to look for Eva and Rain began to wonder what sort of news she would hear next. But even as she pondered about the endless possibilities, the west doors opened. Gavin and Law looked as Sorin entered the castle with Eva next to him. Everyone rushed over to greet the two, with Mina giving Eva the warmest welcome of all as she fully embraced the swordswoman and held her head near her chest.

“I’m so glad to see you, Eva,” Mina said.

“I’m… I’m glad to see you, too, Mina,” Eva replied. “You don’t have to hug me so hard.”

“Oh, sorry about that,” Mina said as she lifted her arms off of Eva. “I guess I was getting a little too excited to see you, you know…”

“It’s fine,” Eva said. She then looked to Sorin. “Did you say anything to them about what happened?”

Sorin shook his head. “I didn’t tell them anything,” he replied. “They were just worried about you, that’s all.”

“It’s good to have you here with us,” Rain said to Eva.

“Come on, Rain, don’t you see she’s tired?” Law said. “Clearly, Eva’s been through a lot and needs time to rest up.”

“Thank you for your concern, everyone,” Eva replied. “However, I’m not that tired right now, though I could use some relaxation.”

“Of course,” Rain said. “You have everything you could need here and I’m sure that someone would be glad to help you out.”

“So what are you thinking?” Law asked. “Maybe a long bath or something in that nature?”

“Give me a break, Lawrence,” Gavin said. “You’re really going to try and make some quip like that at a time like this?”

“Sheesh, give more credit than that,” Law said. “Who doesn’t enjoy a little relaxation and the chance to wash off the day’s endeavors? Eva, please, feel free to take as long as you want up there.”

“I suppose I can do that,” Eva said.

“I can go with you,” Mina said. “You know, just in case you don’t remember where the bath is.”

“I think I’ll be fine,” Eva replied. “I go upstairs, down the hall and to the left and enter the second door. Am I correct?”

“That’s right,” Rain said. “Please don’t hesitate if something’s the matter, Eva. We’re always here for you.”

“Okay,” Eva said. “Thank you, Rain.”

Nothing more needed to be said as Eva went upstairs. Everybody chose to remain in the main hall as Rain decided on what to do now. She had spoken with Khadir a few minutes before Sorin and Eva returned, guaranteeing a meeting with the Maeitakohnian president in two days. There were still many calls that Rain knew she needed to make, but she was one step closer to her plan. The next step would be to reach out to the other leaders, Rain thought. Still, Eva remained on everyone’s minds as Gavin looked over at Rain.

“So what do you think?” Gavin asked.

“I’d say it’s up to her,” Rain answered. “No reason for any of us to pressure her into rushing forth.”

“Well, it would make sense to leave it up to Eva,” Law said, “But she’s got a lot of unfinished business.”

“As do the rest of us,” Gavin said. “If she says she’s ready, then so be it, but I can’t say for certain that it’d be a completely good thing for Eva to fight if she isn’t up to it.”

“You can’t say for certain?” Law asked. “Come on, bro, we both know that that kind of uncertainty just isn’t your style.”

“I just don’t want anything bad to happen,” Gavin replied. “We all know exactly what she was trying to do not even two hours ago, and it’s only because Sorin arrived at the right time that she didn’t go through with it.”

“Actually, that’s not exactly what happened,” Sorin said.

Mina looked at Gavin. “Why are you wondering if Eva can still hold herself up? She’s been at this longer than any of us have! If she wants to keep fighting on, then let her!”

Gavin sighed. “I guess I’m the only one in this room that thinks this, aren’t I? Well, fine then, I won’t fight it.”

“There’s nothing to fight here,” Sorin said. “We’re all looking out for each other, that’s all.”

“You’re not wrong to have some concerns,” Rain said to Gavin. “We’re all trying to move forward in the best way.”

“Thanks for that, but I think I’m going to go and see what’s happening with Henry Randolph,” Gavin said. “He says that he’s supposed to have something vital for us. Let’s go, Lawrence!”

Law shrugged as Gavin motioned to him to move along. “There’s no choice here, it seems,” he said. “Well, I guess I can leave you three to take care of Eva for the time being.”

Law ran after Gavin as Rain could only have faith in their abilities, as well as have faith in Henry’s information. The scene in the main hall was much more quiet than before, though Mina was already headed towards the stairs while Rain watched her go up.

“I’m going to go check up on Eva,” Mina said. “I mean, she says she’s okay, but I wanna see how she’s doing anyway!”

“Very well,” Rain said. “Sorin, what are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know,” Sorin said. “What’s your plan right now?”

“That’s something I’m still working on,” Rain answered. “I’ve already set up the necessary meeting, but I have to reach out to the other leaders. Plus, there’s the fact that we have to deal with Dezine, and I don’t know if the other leaders besides Khadir are willing to go up against him.”

“What about Kiku?” Sorin asked. “Didn’t she say she would try to convince her mother into allying with you?”

“She did mention that, but I’ve heard nothing from Yamazaki herself,” Rain said. “I am planning on reaching out to her, though Kikuisha has historically been a country that prefers to stay out of conflicts.”

“Is that so,” Sorin said.

“Regardless, there’s no reason for me not to try,” Rain said.

It was then that Rain noticed Gamal running towards her. She turned as Gamal stopped before her and bowed his head.

“Is something wrong?” Rain asked

“Excuse me, Your Majesty,” Gamal said. “It appears that we have a visitor from Ameci. A very important visitor, to be precise.”

Rain could only think of a couple of people that fit that description. No way could it have been Isaac, nor could it have been President Bradley. She could see no reason for either man to enter the kingdom, not during this time.

“You’re sure about this, Sir Gamal?” Rain asked.

“Yes, there’s no mistaking it,” Gamal replied. “General Fercewend himself is headed towards the castle as we speak.”

“Thank you,” Rain said.

“So you are comfortable with meeting him, Your Majesty?” Gamal asked.

“I was wondering if I would meet an Ameci official, which makes it all the more important that we welcome General Fercewend,” Rain replied. “If he is willing to speak with us, then I will meet with him.”

“Understood,” Gamal said. “I’ll be sure to let the guards know.”

Gamal hurried off to the front doors as Rain looked to Sorin. With a sudden turn of events, she knew that she had one chance to speak with the general. That meant Rain had to make this meeting count. If there was any chance of changing everything for the better, then Rain had to hear what General Fercewend had to say and move from there. Then again, she needed to know why the general would make this visit in the first place. Finding that out was important.

“Sorin, it may be good for you to join me here,” Rain said. “You don’t mind attending this discussion, do you?”

“Is it just the general himself that’s visiting?” Sorin asked.

“We’ll have to find out,” Rain said. “But I don’t think he’ll do anything that will cause an incident. Not as long as he’s the face of the Ameci military.”

“We should call on Henry as well,” Sorin said. “Maybe he’d want to see the general.”

“There’s no time to do that,” Rain answered. “We could ask Henry to join us if this meeting were planned in advance, but as it is, he’s busy right now.”

“Oh, right,” Sorin replied. “I guess I forgot about that.”

“I’m sure Henry would like to say a lot to the general if he were here,” Rain said. “However, there’s much I’d like to talk to him about and I don’t know how much time I’m going to get with him in order to do that.”

“Still, it’s surprising he’d make his way over here,” Sorin said. “I don’t get it at all.”

“That’s what we’re going to find out,” Rain said. “We’ll see if this is General Fercewend wanting to speak with us or if this is just another set-up by Isaac and Foundation.”

“We can never be too careful,” Sorin said.

“Indeed, we’ll have to see for ourselves,” Rain replied. “Of course, we’ll be able to see for certain once he arrives.”

 

*****

 

After a few minutes had passed, Rain and Sorin watched the front doors open up. Gamal entered the main hall and led General Fercewend inside. The general himself was accompanied by two high-ranking Ameci soldiers as they made their way up to Rain. She reached out her hand to Fercewend, who did the same as the two shared a handshake.

“I’m glad that you’re able to meet with me after sundown,” Fercewend said. “I’ve got much to discuss with you in only a small amount of time, so I’m afraid that there’s no need for us to hold any sort of extensive meeting.”

“I understand,” Rain replied. “You’ve arrived for an important reason, so I will let you go ahead and let you speak your piece, general.”

“Well, first, I do have a question for him,” Fercewend said as he looked at Sorin. “Right now, Ahnlikohn is in quite a precarious position as we continue to speak. I would like to know for myself the answer as to why Chancellor Harring had to be killed.”

“I didn’t kill him,” Sorin replied, “And honestly, I don’t care whether or not you think I’m telling the truth.”

“Don’t you believe that there’s much more to the chancellor’s assassination than what you may have heard?” Rain asked Fercewend. “Why do you think that Sorin here had a hand in his death? What do you think that he stands to gain out of this?”

Fercewend shook his head. “I’ve heard a lot, Your Majesty,” he answered. “I have every reason to believe that Sorin Wilk assassinated Chancellor Harring, yet all the same doubt lingers in my mind that he would carry out such an act. That is, unless, there was another connection that you yourself may be unaware of at this time. Tell me, Your Majesty, are you familiar with the Moonlit Silence and its people?”

“I’ve heard a lot about them, sure,” Rain said.

“Then you realize what they are trying to do in the Thekohnian Region,” Fercewend said. “I understand the desire to bring about peace throughout the lands, but you must also be careful as to not inspire chaos. Otherwise, we will have many more incidents like the one in Glora.”

“You’re wrong,” Sorin said. “That was due to the Ameci military that Glora suffered a devastating attack. Rain did nothing to suggest that.”

“I want you to keep in mind the position that you’re in as well, Sorin Wilk,” Fercewend said. “While it is out of my reach to do so, I am able to file the papers necessary for your arrest if I so choose. So I would request you to kindly consider the value of silence in this discussion.”

“General, what is it that you wish to speak to me about?” Rain asked. “We don’t want to waste any more time here.”

“I’ve come with a compromise,” Fercewend said. “It is a simple one, but all the same it is a compromise for you to mull over for the next few days.”

“Tell me,” Rain said.

Fercewend peered at his pocket watch. “Call off the summit entirely,” he said. “We’ve already seen what has happened during the first few days, as it has done nothing but disrupted the order that we’ve worked hard to maintain in the Thekohnian Region over the years.”

“I’m afraid that’s not an option, general,” Rain replied. “I’m not about to give up on bringing everyone together and I’m quite surprised to hear that you would rather accept doing nothing over trying to make this world better.”

“Please, Your Majesty, it would be for the best,” Fercewend said. “President Bradley has stated to me multiple times that these meetings have done little to quell the ongoing unrest and terrorism that plagues this region.”

“And I’m sure he and Dezine have better solutions?” Rain asked. “I’m sorry, but I find it difficult to believe in these circumstances that they would have some sort of solution.”

“Well, if you want their opinions, then you can ask them” Fercewend said. “Right now, it appears that Hasker is on the mend and should be well enough to travel within the next week. You can ask him, too, once this is all said and done and we don’t have to worry about summits or meetings or trying to change the order that has already been set in place for us.”

“With all due respect, General Fercewend, it seems to me that you fail to understand why these summits are necessary,” Rain replied. “I’m not going to stop in my pursuit to make this world better, nor will anybody else that is on the kingdom’s side. I’d kindly suggest that you speak to whoever it was that told you to come over and tell them that we won’t be backing down.”

Fercewend turned towards the door. “If that’s the case, then it can’t be helped,” he said. “You truly intend to drive this entire region down a path of uncertainty, aren’t you?”

“What about you?” Rain asked. “Will you answer for the crimes of your soldiers or are you going to continue to look the other way?”

“I believe we’re finished here, Your Majesty,” Fercewend said. “I wish you nothing but good luck moving forward, because you are going to need a lot of it in the coming days. Unless you’re to change your mind and compromise, you should consider this the last meeting between Ameci and the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn. Farewell.”

Rain let Fercewend walk away with his soldiers as she knew there was no changing his mind now. Not as long as Isaac continued to remain involved with the Ameci government. All Rain could do now was to continue reaching out to the other leaders and move forward without the help of Ameci’s officials. But first, Rain wanted to see if Eva was doing well and if Mina was still checking in on her. However, Sorin had one more question for Rain.

“So that’s it, then?” Sorin asked. “What was the point of Fercewend’s visit if that was all he was going to say to you?”

“He’s being put to task by Foundation,” Rain said. “As long as Isaac has his foot on the pedal, he’ll drive Ameci towards his own wicked goals.”

“I know,” Sorin said. “The fact that he just ignores the actions of Korbin and his group seriously frustrates me.”

“I know it does, but we have plenty more work to do,” Rain said. “However, there’s something I need to do right now. You don’t mind waiting for a bit longer, do you Sorin?”

“I don’t mind at all,” Sorin replied. “In fact, I really should check up and see if Johan’s still around…”

“You do that, then,” Rain said. “I will be back soon.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 29 (Part 2)

[26th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Queen’s Office]

 

Anticipation. All Rain had right now was anticipation for the safe return of Sorin and the others. She had wanted to go with them but could not do so because of her other obligations. Rain was still waiting to hear from Queen Amelia about setting up another meeting, but with each passing minute into the night, Rain had no idea if Amelia or her cabinet would call tonight.

“She would have to call soon, wouldn’t she?” Luna asked. “I don’t see why she would make you a promise and then not fulfill it.”

“I know,” Rain said. “I’m starting to worry about what’s happening with the others in Habicht, though, and if that’s affecting anything here.”

“Speaking of which, Your Majesty, when do you suppose that we will hear back from them?” Gamal asked.

“A good question,” Rain replied. “I can only hope that Sorin and the others were able to see this through safely.”

“I wish we could have went with them,” Mina said. “Just sitting here makes me so anxious because we’re just doing nothing right now!”

Rain gazed outside the window. “As it does for us all,” she said. “It will do us no good to keep worrying, however.”

“You say that, but I feel like you must be the most nervous out of all of us,” Luna said. “Do you feel nervous? I can make some tea if you want me to… Or maybe I can rub your shoulders… Or I can sing a relaxing song!”

“No, but I appreciate the thought,” Rain replied. “I say we shouldn’t keep worrying because it will only lower our morale if we continue to ponder about what has and hasn’t happened yet. Once we get word back from Sorin’s group, we will know where we stand and what actions we will need to take.”

“It’s complicated,” Pekka said. “I’m sure that Foundation is depending on us being in disarray in order for them to succeed. It’s no wonder why they were able to get the results they wanted in Maeitakohn before Johan did his job.”

“And yet again that young man is at work,” Dustin said. “Mr. Kuu isn’t too afraid of getting his hands dirty, but as for his heart, I can say it’s squeaky clean to a point!”

“You say that, but it isn’t like he’s completely pure,” Luna said. “I guess it’s a good thing he’s on our side… Well, for the most part, I guess.”

“He has similar interests as us,” Rain said. “That’s why he is so willing to lend the kingdom his hand, as well as the fact that I wish to see peace throughout the Thekohnian Region also.”

“I wonder what he’ll do when it’s all over,” Dustin said.

“Yeah, I think I’m wondering that as well,” Luna said. “He’s really left all of us in the dark. I thought I knew him, but now I’m not entirely sure what he wants to do after all this.”

“That’s something you can talk to him about,” Rain said.

“Then it’s up to him,” Luna replied.

No one else said a word as the phone soon rang. Rain looked away from the window and to the phone that now had the attention of everyone in the room. It only took two more rings until Rain picked up the receiver. The others in the room gathered around and listened in closely as Rain began to speak.

“Who, may I ask, is calling?” Rain asked.

“I think you know well who this is by now… Your Majesty,” Isaac said. “It looks as if your little plot won’t be able to go through after tonight. How sad for you that despite—or rather, because of your best efforts, you’ll go down in history as the queen that divided the Thekohnian Region!”

“You and Harold Mars are working together,” Rain said. “He told Sorin as much himself. What do you serve to gain from working with such a dangerous and evil man?”

“Harold and I share a similar drive,” Isaac replied. “I am able to help him with what he wants and he is able to help me with what I want.”

“So you say,” Rain said. “So you know what’s happening in Habicht, right down to the very last detail…”

“I know a lot,” Isaac said. “After what Harold did to Kirk, I just had to find out about what he’d do to his son. Of course, I’m still waiting for the results, but I know that Harold doesn’t leave a job unfinished.”

“What did he do to Kirk!?” Mina asked as she took the receiver out of Rain’s hand. “Tell us now or you’re going to regret it!”

“He’ll tell us, don’t worry,” Rain said, taking back the receiver. “After all, he does like to gloat when he thinks he’s won.”

“What a loathsome person,” Pekka said.

“It doesn’t matter what you think of me, Your Majesty,” Isaac replied. “I’ve indeed won already and there’s little for you or anyone else to do about it. The deed is done and Ahnlikohn will burn bright in the moonlight before the turn of the new year!”

“Just what do you have planned?” Rain asked. “Hasn’t Ahnlikohn suffered enough thanks to you?”

“That’s funny, I don’t remember saying I’d be the one to light the match,” Isaac replied. “But I suppose your hatred for me blinds you to the reality of the situation you’ll find yourself in once it’s all over.”

“There’s no way I or the other leaders in the Thekohnian Region will ever let you get away with this,” Rain said. “The crimes that you’ve partaken in with Harold Mars and the Ameci military will not go unaccounted for!”

“How many times will you say such baffling nonsense before you realize what’s done is done?” Isaac asked. “By the way, I would be much more concerned about whether or not your allies make it out of Habicht alive. I would hope that you’d agree with me on that, at least.”

“Your empty threats are just that,” Rain replied. “Unless your intention is to confess to your crimes, never contact this line again!”

She placed the receiver back on the hook and turned away from the phone. It was a night that carried much uncertainty, but Isaac’s remarks raised that level as Rain walked out of the office. The others were quick to follow her as Rain went to the main hall of Thedam Castle and looked around the interior. She had much to prove now that the stakes rose once more and only so little time until the next time. If what Isaac said was true, then Ahnlikohn was at risk for what Foundation had planned and Rain knew that the Ameci military would be the participants in the impending actions that Isaac would orchestrate. However, that did not matter as much as what Sorin, Eva, and everyone else in Habicht were going through, as even though Rain had no way of finding out until later, she knew that there was much to what Isaac said that she could not disregard.

“Sir Dustin, Sir Gamal, I have an important task for you both,” Rain said. “It will take some time, but I am hoping that you two will be able to do this not only for me, but for the Thekohnian Region as well.”

“Of course,” Dustin said.

“Just tell us what it is, Your Majesty, and we will do it,” Gamal said.

“I want you both to do some reaching out towards the other countries in the region,” Rain told them. “With Isaac’s remarks, we have gone past the point of no return when it comes to dealing with Foundation. Now is the time for us to go and organize a strategy in which we deal with them head on.”

“What about Iiayikohn?” Gamal asked. “Are they not a part of this?”

“Unfortunately, that is the case,” Rain answered. “Dezine has aligned with Foundation for the time being and because of that, he is a potential threat to the region. As for Ahnlikohn, the fact that they are once again in the crosshairs of Foundation means that we must do our part to convince Queen Amelia.”

“Hey, I’d be happy to try and convince her people,” Dustin said. “It may take a good while, but I’m sure we can work something out.”

“Just one question, Your Majesty,” Gamal said.

“Go ahead,” Rain said.

“What will you be doing in the meantime?” Gamal asked.

“There is something I must do with regards to our current situation,” Rain replied. “I will meet with Rado, as well as both Ayanna and Roderick, in order to organize a defense against the current Ameci threat.”

“Very well,” Gamal said. “Then Sir Dustin and I will start making some calls as you requested.”

“Thank you,” Rain said. “Mina, Luna, Pekka, we mustn’t waste time. Let’s go and see what’s happening.”

 

*****

 

[26th of December, 2740 AD; Lead Campground Park Trail, north of Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

With Harold, Korbin, Bradley, and the rest of the Ameci military chasing after them, Sorin knew that he could not waste any time with the escape. Jelka and Johan led the way as Sorin kept up his pace, though he was slightly exhausted due to the fighting earlier. However, he could not worry about that as the three ended up at a fork in the path: one way went straight ahead while the other path went towards the left. It was a decision that required no hesitation at all as Johan looked to Sorin.

“Let’s keep going,” Johan said. “We’ll be stuck if we take the left path. Let’s just keep going forward, Sorin.”

“Sure,” Sorin replied.

The three continued on the trail while the wind started to pick up. The light breeze rustled the branches of the trees and caused several leaves to fly off while Sorin could only think about where his father was right now. Henry had given him some hope to hold on to, but Sorin knew it was not enough. He needed to know for himself if his father was safe, and only after exiting the campground could he do that.

“Listen, there’s something I have to say to you,” Johan said. “It may be hard to hear, especially now, but Harold Mars isn’t one to pull his punches.”

“I know,” Sorin said.

“That’s why it may be difficult,” Johan said. “This morning, before Jelka and I came to Habicht, we received a call from Rysol.”

“You did?” Sorin asked. “What did he say to you?”

“That’s what I’m getting to, buddy,” Johan replied. “He escaped from Harold but judging from his tone, it seems that Rysol went through hell. Make no mistake about it, Sorin: we cannot overlook Harold Mars.”

“Indeed, he is a great threat to our goal,” Jelka said, “Perhaps even greater than Isaac Kunigunde is. You and Eva are lucky to escape after running into him, given what he has done over the years.”

“That’s why this next part is tough for me,” Johan said. “Sorin… I’m very sorry about what I’m about to say next.”

However, as the three made it up the higher path, they ended up coming across a wooden bridge being held up by rope. Sorin took one look at the bridge and saw the drop below. While not a deep drop like in Bel Forest, it was still a considerable fall into the river below.

“We don’t need to overthink this one,” Jelka said. “Cross the bridge and cut the ropes. We’re almost out of here.”

Sorin nodded and looked to Johan. “Tell me once we cross the bridge,” he said. “Our pursuers are still after us… I don’t even know how the others are, especially Eva.”

“I understand completely,” Johan said.

After they crossed the bridge, Jelka cut the ropes with her sword and let the bridge fall to the other side. With the Ameci military’s pursuit hindered, nothing stood in the way between Sorin and escape.

“We better hope that’s enough to hold them back,” Johan said.

“What was it you were going to say?” Sorin asked.

But Sorin knew that there was little point to asking that question. The only news Johan could have at this point was bad news. News that would confirm the suspicions and fears that Sorin had regarding his father. Despite all his attempts to disbelieve the truth, there was no running away from it once Johan opened his mouth. Nothing held Johan back from speaking as the three continued to walk down the path.

“Rysol did not escape from Harold unscathed,” Johan said. “In addition to his prosthetic arm, he also lost his right arm as well. It’ll be tough for him to fight on considering it was Harold who gifted him that arm. But that isn’t all, is it? I wish Rysol was lying, but I know that there’s no reason why he’d lie to Jelka or I about Kirk Wilk.”

“Johan, please, it’s not necessary,” Sorin replied. “No one knows where he is right now, but that doesn’t mean a thing. Rysol could just be mistaken.”

“There’s a powerful current sitting at the other end of Ahnle Peak,” Jelka said. “If what Rysol said is true, well—”

“No, we don’t know for sure,” Sorin said. “We’ve only got his account, that’s all. That’s all we have so far.”

“Just listen to me,” Jelka said. “What Rysol said lines up with the geography of Ahnle Peak. If one drops into that current, there is little for them to fight back against it… To be blunt, it is impossible for someone to survive.”

“That can’t be it,” Sorin replied. “I can’t believe it.”

“No one person is invulnerable, Sorin,” Jelka said. “Even someone like your father isn’t safe from death.”

“Perhaps it’s best we continue this later,” Johan said. “Looks like we’ve reached the end of the line.”

Johan pointed ahead as Sorin and Jelka looked to what he was pointing at. At the end of the path lay a large, barren tree that was in the way between the exit and Sorin, Johan, and Jelka. The three looked to one another as Sorin knew what they had to do next.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Johan said to Sorin. “What’s the big deal, right? We just climb over this tree and we’d be home free, so to speak. So why are we still waiting, then?”

“You don’t think they’re still after us, do you?” Sorin asked.

“You tell me,” Johan replied.

Jelka looked back. “It seems like the noise has died down,” she said. “If you want my opinion, I believe that the Ameci have already called off their pursuit. It should be safe to keep moving onward.”

“That seems likely and logical,” Johan said. “They’re not going to go for the other group, either. It’s you they’re after, Sorin, so they must have retreated long after we took out that bridge.”

“You’re right,” Sorin said.

“Then let’s not waste any more time here,” Johan said. “We’ve got a group to reunite with, after all. Let’s not keep them waiting any longer.”

Johan hurried and leapt over the fallen tree, with Sorin following after. He watched Jelka go over as well, the three joining up once more as Johan proceeded to go on ahead. Meanwhile, Sorin continued after him, but stopped to see Jelka on one knee clutching her upper leg.

“Jelka, are you okay?” Sorin asked.

Jelka winced as she pulled her coat inward. “It’s nothing,” she said. “Don’t go worrying about me.”

“Really? What happened?”

“I told you it’s nothing,” Jelka replied, standing up. “Just a minor sprain, that’s all you need to know.”

“You two are coming, aren’t you?” Johan asked. “What’s going on?”

“We’ll be right there,” Jelka said. “There’s nothing to worry about. Let’s go and leave already.”

Sorin was not sure what to make of Jelka covering up an apparent injury, but he could not question it. Not at this time. He had to complete his escape and reunite with the others waiting for him outside the campground. Only after that could Sorin figure out what to do next, as well as find out what really happened to his father. However, as Sorin left the forest to find Henry waving to him, one thing has remained true: Foundation was continuing to get tougher as Harold now became yet another threat to the Thekohnian Region.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 27 (Part 1)

[25th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Queen’s Office]

 

“And that’s the news, Your Majesty,” Dustin said. “Looks like Dezine’s really trying to start a nasty war with us, huh?”

“Thank you,” Rain replied. “I’ll make sure to discuss this with both Ansa and Reiss later.”

“Don’t mention it,” Dustin said.

Rain watched as Dustin left the room. Rain’s morning had been busy as she spoke with Mina and Law about what to do regarding Iiayikohn. Dustin entered in at the right time as he had news to share of Dezine’s speech, so Rain decided to listen to what Dustin had to say once she finished discussing plans with Mina and Law. After that, Rain took the time to listen to Dustin’s recount of Dezine’s speech. She was already aware of Dezine’s power hungry tendencies thanks to Ayanna’s and Law’s accounts, yet still Rain was amazed at how far Dezine was willing to go in order to win. Law, meanwhile, shrugged as he took a seat in the chair near him while Mina went over to Rain’s side.

“Dezine’s not even half a year into his term and he’s already acting like he’s been there forever,” Law said. “Guess he’s trying to make the most of it in his old age, though we all know that he’s yet another useful tool for Isaac to use. So long as Dezine is willing to get on his knees, Isaac is happy to help.”

“Yet he’s only a small part of the picture,” Rain said. “Still, his speech will make it much more difficult to establish long term peace in the region. We have to stop him, there’s no other way.”

“I agree with you there,” Law replied. “That’s why we came here, after all. Isn’t that right, Mina?”

“Yeah, we’re going to make sure that Dezine will pay for his crimes,” Mina said. “We’ve got Ayanna on our side; she’ll know exactly what we can do about him and the rest of Foundation!”

“I know,” Rain said, “But it won’t do us any good to go in recklessly. If we’re to deal with Dezine, we must find a sound strategy in order for him to step down from his position.”

Law leaned in his chair with his arms behind his head. “If it’s getting old Dezine to step down, that’ll be a tough task,” he said. “I imagine that he’s got way too much pride to even think about giving in.”

“There’s gotta be something, Law!” Mina said.

“Of course there is,” Law replied. “If there’s one thing that I’ve gathered about our silver-haired adversary, it’s that he operates with his cards completely close to his chest. He trusts very few people, with Isaac Kunigunde being one of those select few.”

“So the best way to get Dezine to step down is to have him believe that Isaac no longer trusts him,” Rain said. “That would be difficult, but I doubt that it is impossible. The only I question I have is how will we go about pulling off this task in a way that neither Dezine nor Isaac will suspect.”

“Well, you’re talking to a former spy right here,” Law said.

“But you haven’t done any spying in a while, have you?” Mina asked. “You must be really rusty!”

“Sure, I may not have done my job in a quick minute, but I’m still pretty confident in my abilities,” Law said. “As long as there aren’t any attacks from Ameci, I think that it’s safe to say that we have a shot.”

“I’d be glad to talk about it,” Rain replied.

“Of course, of course,” Law said. “It’s rather easy if we think about it: the key starts with Ahnlikohn.”

“You’re suggesting that we earn back Amelia’s trust, am I correct?” Rain asked. “Because while it’s not impossible, it will be hard to pull off, especially with the situation as it is now.”

“True, it’s pretty much like we’re trying to push a boulder up a mountain,” Law said. “One wrong move and that boulder runs us over and rolls all the way back down the hill.”

“I don’t blame her,” Rain said. “Even if we were prepared for an attack, we still failed to stop Korbin and his ilk from carrying out an attack. We’re lucky that it was only a small scale attack, but it did enough to damage our overall relations with Ahnlikohn.”

“None of it’s your fault,” Mina said. “They just played dirty like the bunch of villains they are!”

“While it’s true that we weren’t careful enough, I’d say that we managed to expose a flaw in Isaac’s plan,” Law said, “Or rather, Korbin exposed the flaw for us to exploit.”

“And what would that be?” Gavin asked. “You’ve got another scheme going on in your head there, Lawrence?”

Law turned his head to the entrance as Rain and Mina followed. Standing in the doorway were Gavin, Sorin, and Henry. Henry walked into the queen’s office and greeted Rain, shaking her hand as he bowed his head before her. Sorin and Gavin entered, too, as they watched the exchange take place. Rain was happy to meet with Henry, though she had barely met with him before now. Seeing as he came in with Sorin and Gavin, Rain had to figure there was something that Henry would like to say to her.

“It’s nice meeting with you, Mr. Randolph,” Rain said. “What happens to be the occasion for today?”

Henry nodded. “You have to thank these two here,” he said as he motioned to Sorin and Gavin. “They told me quite a bit about what’s happening, which is why I’ve decided that I want to help.”

“I’m interested in hearing how you wish to help,” Rain said.

“Your Majesty, I didn’t come in without some sort of idea,” Henry replied. “I may just be one man, but I’m still quite knowledged about the inner workings of the Ameci military.”

“And that’s why you guys brought him here,” Law said to Sorin and Gavin. “I guess that was what you two were doing while Mina and I were having a talk with Rain here. Gotta give you credit.”

“It wasn’t that arduous,” Gavin replied, “And I know that Henry’s got his reasons for wanting to help us.”

“It’s funny, isn’t it?” Henry asked. “You and I used to be on different sides, yet now we’re united together against the one enemy that we should have been fighting a long time ago.”

“That’s the past,” Gavin said. “Things have changed now and I’m not going back to the way things used to be.”

“I’m glad to see that that makes two of us, Gavin,” Henry said. “We’ve got a long road ahead of us if we’re going to take down Isaac Kunigunde and his little group, which is why I’m willing to tell Her Majesty as much as I know about the Ameci military.”

Law sat up in his chair. “Looks like you came ready to play,” he said. “It’s interesting to hear that you’re so ready to tell us what you know, though I wonder what that will mean for your relationship with General Fercewend. Do you think it’s too late to try and see if he’d be willing to tell Isaac to back off?”

“Unfortunately, Rohan has no desire to do so,” Henry replied.

“It must be tough for you right now,” Rain said. “I heard that you two had fought alongside one another during the war, and now you two are on opposite sides.”

“It’s got to be Isaac Kunigunde’s fault!” Mina said, clenching her fist. “Don’t worry, Henry, I’m sure we’ll find a way to help save Fercewend!”

“You’re very optimistic,” Henry said, “But the funny thing is that I continue to believe in Rohan, even though it doesn’t seem like he’s shown any sign of going against Isaac and President Bradley any time soon.”

“We know that Isaac’s influence has increased a lot,” Gavin said. “It’s not a long shot to think that once we take care of him, we’ll see those people who relied on him start to abandon him.”

“If we’re going to do that, then we’ll have to start small,” Henry said. “It’d be dumb to try and aim headfirst at Isaac.”

“What do you suggest?” Sorin asked.

“Let me think for a moment,” Henry replied. “Of all the years I’ve known Rohan, there’s one thing he values most: honor. However, that may not be the case as I’ve already seen him bend to the will of both Isaac and Bradley.”

“Well, that didn’t help,” Law said.

Henry scratched his ear. “As long as Hasker is out of commision, Bradley is the president,” he said, “And that is Isaac’s key into the Ameci government, which he can use as a key to the military… I’ve got it!”

“You do?” Mina asked.

“It’s pretty simple now that I think about it,” Henry said. “In Ameci, the line of succession falls in this order: president, vice president, and leading general of the military. I believe that it’s the same for Maeitakohn as well. Anyway, as long as Isaac has a direct connection to the government via Bradley, he has leverage over Rohan.”

“You’re suggesting that we try to remove Bradley out of power?” Rain asked. “That would be pretty impossible for us to do.”

“If we’re thinking about using force, then yes,” Henry said. “However, were it to be known of a rift between Isaac Kunigunde and Casper Bradley, then there’s a chance that Isaac will no longer need the use of him.”

“So it’s like what Law was saying about Dezine earlier,” Mina said.

“Turning these men against each other is not an easy task,” Henry said, “Yet if there exists the slightest bit of weakness between them, then it’s all the more reason to pursue it.”

“You really are starting to speak to my interests here, aren’t you,” Law said. “Then again, that one guy down in the cellar might be an important key.”

“I don’t know if Erik would be willing to tell us much now,” Sorin replied. “It seems pretty useless to ask him anything at this point.”

“Well, perhaps I should try with him,” Henry said. “I don’t know whether or not he’d talk with me, but it wouldn’t hurt asking.”

“Of course,” Rain said. “Just let Sir Gamal know that you want to visit the holding cell and he’ll lead you there.”

Henry smiled. “I’ll go and let him know,” he said. “By the way, this isn’t the end of our talk, Your Majesty. I will be back.”

“Then I’ll be waiting here,” Rain replied.

“I suppose I can go with you,” Law said as he stood up. He waltzed over to Henry and shook his hand. “Damn, your handshake is almost as strong as my bro here!”

“Yeah, right,” Gavin said. He looked at Henry and raised an eyebrow. “It’s been a couple months since you retired from the military. I bet I could take you on in a one-on-one fight!”

“I truly have no idea where this is coming from,” Henry replied.

“We may be on the same side, but that doesn’t mean that you should think you’re better than me,” Gavin said. “As far as it goes, I’m sure that I’d be able to come up victorious should you ever decide to take me on.”

“I’ll be sure to remember that, Gavin,” Henry said. “Sorin, are you coming with me, too?”

“Sure,” Sorin replied.

“Gavin, what’s the deal?” Mina asked. “Are you just jealous of Henry?”

“No, don’t be absurd,” Gavin answered. “It’s just that I want him to know the score. That way, we’ll be able to work together more effectively!”

“Well, it sure sounds like you’re jealous,” Mina said.

“Mina, I’m going to go now,” Gavin replied. “Let’s go, Henry Randolph! And no snickering!”

Henry tried not to laugh as he followed Gavin. Sorin and Law joined them as well in hopes of obtaining anything new out of Erik down in the basement. In the queen’s office, however, Rain had a call that she had to make. She wondered if there would even be a response, but Rain had to try. She needed to talk with Amelia again. Rain had to have one more try in order to organize unity. There had to be some hope if Rain was ever going to bring peace to the Thekohnian Region.

 

*****

 

Downstairs in the basement, Sorin, Gavin, and Henry followed Gamal, who led them to the holding cell Erik was in. Upon reaching the cell, Sorin watched as Erik stood up and approached the bars. There did not appear to be any hostility in Erik’s eyes, only an expressionless star as Henry walked up to him.

“You’re back again,” Erik said. “What’s this? Am I supposed to be scared now that you brought him over?”

“We know your tricks,” Gavin replied. “If you think you can avoid telling us everything you know, then you’re mistaken. Henry, maybe you ought to tell him exactly what’s going on.”

“Very well,” Henry said.

“No matter how hard you try, I’m not telling you a goddamn thing,” Erik said, “So you can forget about trying to shake me!”

Henry sighed. “Listen to me, Erik,” he said. “Last night, Sorin received a call from a very important person. You may have heard of him.”

Erik turned away from Henry. “I’ve told you I don’t want to talk!”

“Harold Mars,” Henry said. “He’s Korbin’s father. I assume that you’ve met with him, though you can tell me if I’m wrong.”

Erik kept silent. All Sorin could do was continue to hope that Henry had some sort of idea to get Erik to speak.

“You could tell me you know nothing about him and I would accept that,” Henry said. “After all, what do you gain from working with him?”

“It doesn’t seem like he cares about what you’re saying,” Gamal said. “I’m not sure if he’s even listening.”

“He’s listening,” Henry replied. “Erik’s not Harold’s son, nor is he the son of the President of Ameci. However, I know he must have his reasons for wanting to work for such a group of people like Foundation.”

“The only reason that I’ve got is that he’s a shithead with no remorse for his actions,” Gavin said as he grabbed ahold of one of the bars. “We can waste all the breath we want, but he’s not going to start squealing on his buddies. Not when he still thinks he’s got an edge over us.”

“Does he have the edge, though?” Henry asked. “Let me ask you something, Erik: do you believe that Korbin and the Ameci military are coming to rescue you from here?”

“Do you take me for a dumbass fool?” Erik asked.

“I don’t think they care much about you, to be honest,” Henry said. “Maybe I’m wrong here and this is all just a bunch of baseless conjecture, but I never had the impression that Korbin and Crawford held you in high regard. Even the other one with you, Lance, they never said much about him when he died.”

“That’s because Korbin killed him,” Erik said. “He was getting on Korbin’s nerves, so he paid the price.”

“I see,” Henry replied. “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

“Korbin is insane, which is why I’d never think about crossing him,” Erik said. “The only one who can really rein him in is Bradley, and even he has trouble doing that sometimes. Well, that’s not completely true. There is one person who Korbin really fears above all else.”

“You mean his father,” Sorin said.

Erik laughed. “I should’ve expected you to piece things together.”

Sorin felt hesitant to tell Erik about the call, but remembered the demand that Harold made.

“But you’re just a ‘lowly lackey’ of the Blood Ravens,” Sorin said. “You told Gavin and I that you were only following orders, that you had no idea about what Foundation had planned.”

“No… That’s not what I said!” Erik exclaimed. “That’s… That’s just a bunch of fucking lies you made up on the spot! You’re lying!”

“We heard you say it,” Gamal said. “Changing your story only makes your guilt more apparent, and your association more likely.”

Erik growled. “Fuck you! I didn’t do shit!”

“You’re going to start telling us everything that you know,” Henry said. “It will do you good in the long run to cooperate with us.”

“Besides, do you truly think Harold will show you mercy?” Sorin asked. “I honestly doubt it.”

Erik’s eyes shifted right to left and back before he dropped to his knees and punched the floor as hard as he could. “Fine, you got me,” he said. “I’m gonna tell you everything I know about Korbin’s father, as well as everything that I know about Foundation.”

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 25 (Part 2)

[24th of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Thedam Castle Basement Cell]

 

Sorin was not sure what to expect when he went downstairs with Gavin to the holding cell, but he knew that Erik would be there under Gamal’s watch. Rain had also decided to join with them as well as Eva and Mina. At the other end of the room they saw Erik lying on the floor behind the bars. Once the four made it over to the cell, Erik stood up and gazed at them with a curious stare.

“So you’re finally awake,” Gavin said.

“Where am I?” Erik asked. “Where the hell’s my sword?”

“You’re still in the castle,” Rain answered. “As for your sword, it’s currently in our hands.”

“So you’re going to keep me here, aren’t you,” Erik said.

“Trust me, I did not want it to come to this, but these two here insisted that it would be for the best,” Rain said as she motioned over to Gavin and Eva. “You came here by yourself for a reason and the only way we’re going to figure that out is by asking you a few questions.”

“There’s no need to be nice with this asshole,” Gavin said. “He works with the Blood Ravens and Foundation, so he’s not going to tell us anything if we just play nice with him.”

“I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Power, Your Majesty,” Gamal said.

“Then there’s no other choice,” Rain said. “Gavin, I will trust you to handle the interrogation with Mr. Ellis.”

Gavin approached the bars. “I’ll find out what he’s planning.”

“If anything goes wrong, we’re all here,” Rain said.

“Yeah, like if he somehow tricks you and gets out, I’ll just punch him again,” Mina said. “But I know you can do it, Gavin!”

“It’d be hard for Erik to escape, anyway,” Sorin said.

“You really think you can break me down?” Erik asked. “I’d love to see you try, dumbass!”

Gavin slammed his hands on the bars and glared at Erik. “There’s only one dumbass here,” he said. “And that dumbass is you! Quit fucking around with us already and tell us what Isaac Kunigunde has planned.”

“Oh no, it looks like there’s no way out for me,” Erik replied. “Are you going to torture me? Beat me up? Or will you do nothing at all?”

“I’m not going to torture you,” Gavin said. “What I will do, however, is that I will make sure that you don’t cause any trouble as long as we are fighting this battle against Foundation and Ameci. Hell, Rain can just let you sit here and let you think about how good you had it until you decided to fuck with us. So what are you going to do, dumbass?”

“You really can’t be serious,” Erik said. “I’ve got a reputation to keep! I can’t spend the rest of my life here in this tiny-ass cell!”

“Then tell us everything you know,” Rain said. “I can’t say for certain what will happen to you if you confess, but if you do, then perhaps there’s a way you’ll be able to spend your life carefree in exile.”

“Because there’s no chance that you’ll be able to live peacefully after all you’ve done,” Gamal said. “I’m sure that there are plenty of people who will want nothing more than to see you dead; if you agree to tell us everything, then there is a chance in which you can live freely. I can’t guarantee your soul will feel much better, though.”

Sorin had no idea if Erik would agree to that condition. He had seen it once before when they had dealt with Isla, but now they were dealing with a different threat and Erik was just one soldier in the Ameci military and the third in the Blood Ravens. Korbin and Bradley would still be able to operate even without the help of Erik, which frustrated Sorin. However, if Erik was able to unveil any kind of useful information, then Sorin was welcome to hear it.

“Please,” Sorin said to Erik. “Just tell us everything that you know. We both know what kind of person Korbin is, so I don’t know if you would even want to head back when you’ve already failed your mission.”

“You think you can talk down to me?” Erik asked. “You’re the one that’s gone and killed the Chancellor of Ahnlikohn, aren’t you? Or at least that’s what I was told… You know, I don’t really care what you say!”

“What do you think?” Sorin asked.

“I think you’re just a bunch of liars,” Erik said. “Do you really think you can convince me of anything, you hypocrite?”

“If that’s what you think, then there’s no reason I should keep talking to you,” Sorin replied. “You’re just as bad as Korbin. Maybe you should handle the rest, Gavin.”

“I’d be happy to come in there and advance my interrogation,” Gavin said. “Gamal, you’ve got the keys, don’t you?”

Gamal nodded. “I’ll be happy to open the door.”

“Good, I’d really like to teach this shithead a few things,” Gavin replied. “You hear that? I’m going to get the answers out of you, one way or another, and I’m not going to show you any mercy!”

At that moment, Erik proceeded to burst into tears. Everyone reacted with surprise, as even Gavin was taken aback by the sudden change of personality. The man clad in Ameci military gear dropped to his knees as he motioned up to Gavin and began to beg.

“Don’t hurt me… please!” Erik exclaimed as he clasped his hands together. “I’m just a lowly lackey in the Blood Ravens… Not even Foundation thinks much about me!”

Gavin groaned as he placed his hand on his forehead. “Give me a fucking break, jackass,” he said. “Do you really think we’re going to be swayed so easily with this pathetic excuse of a plea?”

“But… But! I’m not lying! I really am just a useless fool to those guys,” Erik replied. “I don’t know anything at all!”

“That’s a lie and you know it!” Gavin said as he pounded the bar. “You can’t fool me one bit!”

“He’s really going to try and do this, isn’t he?” Eva asked.

“This must be desperation setting in,” Rain said. “He’s surrounded with no way to escape. It’s not surprising that he’d try to rely on his instincts.”

“It’s just sad,” Sorin said.

“Erik’s scared,” Mina replied. “If none of us were going to beat him up, then it was going to be Gavin!”

“I’m t-telling you the truth, though,” Erik said. “I’m just doing my job here… that’s all it is. You… You can’t punish a guy just for following orders… can you!? I’m just one guy… one guy who’s caught up in all this crazy mess! Please! Please don’t hurt me!”

Gavin pushed up his sunglasses. “You’re pathetic if you think I’m going to get fooled by that,” he said. “Hell, you’re not even worth my trouble, that’s how pitiful you are right now. Gamal!”

“So we’ll just leave you here for the time being, then,” Gamal said to Erik. “To think you would reduce yourself all to protect one man… That’s truly low, my friend.”

“It is a shame,” Rain said. “I had hoped you would change your mind and do what was right, but it seems like you intend on fighting us every step of the way. We’ll return in the morning and see if things will finally progress. Until then, I implore you to get some rest, Mr. Ellis.”

With Erik lying on the ground, still in tears, Sorin took one look at him before going with the rest of the group back upstairs. There was no way any of what Erik said was true; he was heavily involved with all of Korbin’s activities, after all. Sorin just wondered if they would be able to do enough to get him to confess, or if the entire interrogation was all a waste of time. But until the next morning, Sorin had to keep an eye and an ear out for any more potential threats to the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn.

 

*****

 

An hour passed before everyone reunited in the queen’s office. Sorin sat at the table next to Gale, while Gavin and Law sat on the other side. Everybody else sat at the table as well except for Rain and her advisers. Rain was busy taking notes in her book when the phone began to ring once more. As the entire room fell silent, Rain turned her attention to the phone. 

“That must be the junior lieutenant,” Gavin said. “I guess she’s wondering what to do now.”

Rain grabbed the receiver and put it to her ear while everyone in the room listened in. With the attack in Oelaans dissipated, Sorin had no idea what would be said, but he had a feeling that he too had to listen to the ensuing phone call as Rain began to speak.

“Hello? Can you tell me what the situation is in Oelaans now?” Rain asked. A brief silence followed after. “Who are you? How do you know Sorin?”

Now Sorin was concerned. His feeling was right and he hated that he had that feeling about the phone call. Whoever was on that line wanted to speak to him and Sorin felt like he had no way to avoid the call. But the silence broke once again when Rain responded.

“Whoever you are, I do not appreciate what you said right now,” Rain said. “And there is no way I’d ever honor such a request from someone like you. I will be sure of that.”

Sorin stood up. “Rain, perhaps I should hear this person out.”

“There’s no need to,” Rain replied, placing the receiver back on top of the phone. “It will do us no good to speak to a man who offers nothing but ill will toward us.”

“Besides, there’s much more important matters to discuss,” Gamal said. “I suppose that you’ll be contacting the president of Maeitakohn tomorrow, Your Majesty?”

“That’s the plan,” Rain answered.

The phone rang again. No one was sure who it could be this time, as the last person to call was someone nobody expected. Rain looked at the phone and then to both Dustin and Gamal. Sorin, however, had to find out for himself. He had to know why the person on the other end of the line wanted to speak with him, which was why Sorin was sure that that man called again.

“Please, Rain, I think it might be for the best if I answer this,” Sorin said as he hurried over and reached for the phone.

“Sorin, just wait,” Gale said.

It was too late. Sorin picked up the phone and grabbed the receiver in his free hand. Rain stood and watched as Sorin answered the phone. The nagging feeling Sorin had soon turned to worry as the man on the other end answered, his voice hostile enough to make Sorin tense up.

“Is this that woman again? Come now, answer me!”

Sorin took a deep breath and let out his doubts. “No, this is Sorin Wilk,” he said. “Who are you and what do you want with me?”

“Very good, Sorin. My name is Harold Mars.”

There was no trace of doubt in Sorin’s mind as he knew that this man was Korbin’s father. However, he still had no idea why Harold contacted him or how he even found out where he was. What he did know, though, was that he could not hesitate now with Harold on the other end. Sorin had to remain calm as he dealt this hostile man.

“I bet you’re wondering why I’m calling you,” Harold said. “You want to desperately know why I would bother with you, but I will answer those questions in due time.”

“So you’re Korbin’s father,” Sorin said. “Just what the hell do you want with me, damn it?”

“Yes, you’ve managed to best that cretinous son of mine a couple of times already, haven’t you,” Harold said. “Indeed, it would appear that you are much better than he is by a mile and then some. I’m not here just sing praises of you, though. I’m calling because I want to fulfill a promise that I made to a friend of mine.”

“A friend of yours?” Sorin asked.

“It’s no use to play games with you,” Harold said. “You’ve got a capable ally on your side that my maggots-for-brains son hates with such ferverance. The moron keeps speaking about him, crowing on and on like he’ll kill him. Oh, but this guy is too smart. Much smarter than my son.”

“Answer me!” Sorin exclaimed. “Who is this friend of yours?”

“Oh, I was getting to that,” Harold replied. “I’ll say it right now so you’ll quit asking me: I’m helping Isaac Kunigunde.”

It was both surprising and unsurprising to Sorin when he heard that. And yet, Sorin felt more enraged than he ever was before. Was Harold trying to taunt him? Sorin could not grasp a read off of Harold, yet all he could exhibit was anger towards him.

“So you’re our enemy,” Sorin said. “Then answer me this question: why do you support a man like Isaac Kunigunde, who only wants to create wars for the sake of his own gain?”

“Know your place, Sorin Wilk,” Harold replied. “Besides, there is a reason as to why I decided to call you.”

“Tell me already,” Sorin said.

“I’m willing to bet that you’re wondering where your father is, aren’t you?” Harold asked. He then followed up with a short laugh. “Go ahead and get angry if you want, but I know where he is.”

“How dare you!” Sorin said.

“Just as I thought,” Harold replied. “Well, if you really want to know where your father is, then come and meet me in at the Lead Campground in Habicht two nights from now.”

“Do you think I’m going to do as you say?” Sorin asked. “What makes you think that I wouldn’t see this as a trap?”

“That’s entirely up to you, Sorin Wilk,” Harold said. “Of course, I know the location of your brother as well, so perhaps you would see it best to listen to what I say unless you don’t care about him.”

Sorin stared down at the phone. “What’s the catch?”

“There’s no catch, no tricks, and in fact, I can assure you that the attacks on Thekohn and the kingdom will cease,” Harold answered. “Tell the queen that there will be a cease fire for the time being, just as long as you follow my orders. Oh, and be sure to come alone as well. I won’t say what happens if you choose not to honor my request, but it will be a price to pay nonetheless.”

“What makes you think that I’d believe you?” Sorin asked.

Harold chuckled. “Right now, one of Korbin’s friends is in the castle, am I correct? Well, I want you to bring him along,” he replied. “There was a reason as to why he decided to invade the castle, after all.”

“What reason?” Sorin asked.

Sorin was not able to get an answer, however, as Harold hung up without a response. Harold’s call served only to increase both Sorin’s doubt and anger, yet there was no doubt that Harold was keeping an eye on him somehow. Sorin also knew that there was some business between his father and Harold, which made it impossible to shake the bad feeling that plagued him. Yet still, Sorin knew that this man was also a threat, especially so considering the fact that he was Korbin’s father. In a room with everyone watching him, Sorin knew now that he was the one now standing as the center of attention with a lot to answer.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Chapter

Aurora – Chapter 20 (Part 1)

[23rd of December, 2740 AD; The Robin’s Nest, Glora, Ahnlikohn – Erithacus District]

 

Rain looked across the long table. It was only five minutes since Khadir had left, going out the same bombastic way in which he had entered through. Still, the only thing that had not changed was the accusation of assassination against Sorin and the trouble that Foundation had caused to influence Amelia’s decision. Rain knew that Amelia was being led away from the truth thanks to Isaac, but even with Khadir’s assistance, there was only so much they could have done yesterday. Now with several of the other leaders, including Wilson Dezine, bowing out of the summit, Rain had no choice but to postpone it indefinitely.

“Don’t be upset at yourself, Your Majesty,” Gamal said. “It’s that damned Isaac Kunigunde’s fault for creating this mess.”

“There’s no point in remaining upset,” Rain replied. “We just need to head back to the kingdom and think up some strategies. I have no doubt in my mind that this isn’t the last we hear from Isaac, so it’ll do us good to move as soon as we can.”

“And we can even check on Sorin, too,” Mina said. “I’m sure him and Gale are just waiting to see us again!”

“Are you forgetting someone?” Gavin asked.

Gavin entered the room with Luna and Pekka behind him. Rain and Mina got up to greet the three and welcomed them to the lounge room. Along with the three were Kiku, Noa, Igor, and Ayame, who Rain also greeted as well.

“How did you know we were here?” Mina asked.

“Let’s just say I had a feeling you’d be here,” Gavin replied.

“I told Gavvy that you might be here,” Kiku said to Rain. “It was quite a bit of a walk from the hotel, but luckily Nona was willing to carry me up the steep hills all by himself!”

“They were pretty steep,” Noa said. “We could’ve taken a bus or something, you know…”

“Give me a break, it wasn’t that far of a walk,” Gavin said. “Anyway, Rain, I think we need to talk about what we’ve got to do next.”

“I was thinking the same thing, actually,” Rain replied, “But it’s not going to do us any good to stay here. We have to head to the kingdom.”

“Yeah, that Queen Amelia’s been busy lending her ear to Isaac,” Dustin said. “Really makes us feel unwelcome in this land, you know?”

“He’s just been a terrible nuisance!” Luna said. “And shame on Her Majesty for even entertaining Isaac in the first place!”

“I know how you feel, Luna, but keep your voice down,” Gavin replied. “Get too loud about that and it’ll attract a lot of unwanted attention towards ourselves. Got it?”

Pekka crossed his arms. “Our lanes are closing one by one,” he said. “Isaac Kunigunde is making sure of that. Slowly the canvas will be painted blood red as he looks to turn all of the Thekohnian Region against Rain.”

“That was pretty poetic, PK,” Kiku said. “Even if it is a little scary to think about.”

“It’s what has happened before,” Pekka replied. “Isla came under similar fire and yielded the throne because of it. The only difference now is that we’re the ones being labeled the villains.”

“If Isaac Kunigunde thinks he can label us the villains, then I’d be glad to remind him just who the villain really is here!” Mina exclaimed. “He’s nothing but a coward that hides when things don’t go his way!”

“Seriously, do I have to say it again?” Gavin asked. “This isn’t a private place, even if we’re in a different room.”

“Oh, sorry,” Mina said. “It’s just that I’m just so worked up about thinking about this. I’m just tired of sitting around doing nothing!”

“That’s why we’re thinking of something, Mina,” Gavin replied. “We can’t just be reckless, because that’s what Isaac wants us to do. What we need to do is weaken Foundation, and the only way we can have a chance at doing that is if we plan accordingly.”

“Then we don’t have any more time to waste,” Rain said. “Tonight, just after sundown, we will be heading back to the kingdom. I hope that you will all be able to come on time.”

Gavin grinned. “If there’s anything I hate, it’s not being on time,” he said. “I will be at the station whenever you are ready, and I’m sure that these two will be ready as well.”

“Well, we’ll have to if we want to see Ahnlikohn at peace again,” Luna said. “I don’t want to sit idly by either, Mina, which is why I’m ready to help you beat the crap out of Isaac!”

“I doubt Isaac would put up much of a fight,” Pekka said. “I’d say it would be unfair, but he’s screwed people over long enough that it doesn’t really matter anymore.”

“That’s great,” Mina said. She looked over to Kiku. “What about you guys?”

“We’re happy to be of assistance,” Ayame said. “But it is unlikely we will be able to join you, at least for the time being.”

“Yes, it seems as if my mother has her own idea about how to move things forward,” Kiku said. “I don’t doubt her one bit, but still I worry about what might happen. Hopefully I can convince her to arrange a trip to the kingdom so she can meet with you, Ray!”

“Please, let her know,” Rain said. “Even if the summit itself is over, I’m very willing to meet with her.”

“We’ll let Madame Yamazaki know as soon as possible,” Ayame said.

“And we’ll be sure to let you know once we let her know that you wanted to let her know that you wanted to meet her,” Igor said.

“That’s a lot to know,” Luna said.

“And a lot we already know,” Gavin said. “But we shouldn’t waste much more time while we’re here. There’s still somebody I want to meet.”

“Of course,” Rain said. “I will see you later, then, Gavin.”

“Same to you,” Gavin replied. “Kiku, are you guys coming or do you want to stay here?”

Kiku looked to Rain. “I think I might stay a little longer,” she said. “I could always do with more Ray in my life, as well as Minnie!”

“Okay, fine,” Gavin said as he glared over at Luna and Pekka. “Come on you two, let’s go.”

Gavin knew, however, that he still had not met with Kirk and Eva and was determined to find them before he had to leave. There were many places within the city where he could find them, but Gavin could not find a reason as to why they would leave the hotel. Thus, Gavin’s best bet was to head back with Luna and Pekka to the Sparrow Hotel and look for Kirk and Eva.

 

*****

 

[23rd of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Rooftop, Glora, Ahnlikohn]

 

“So you’re all set?” Eva asked Henry.

“It’s as set as we’ll ever be,” Henry replied. “It is a bit disappointing to think that we’ll be cutting the stay in Glora short, but it must be done.”

Henry had finished packing up with Tori their belongings, as well as the kids. They were going to leave Ahnlikohn and head towards Thekohn, with a trip to the kingdom as well. Henry came to this decision after speaking with Eva and Kirk earlier, knowing now that Glora was no longer safe for his family. Now, with everything set and ready to go, Henry took some time to reflect upon his stay in Glora. Both Eva and Kirk decided to join him up on the rooftop, as they were tired from trying to find Gavin with no avail.

“So you’ve told me about what happened two days ago, but I’m still trying to understand what Isaac’s goal is,” Henry said. “He had Harring assassinated so he could pin the blame on Sorin? I can get trying to place the blame on somebody else, but why the chancellor? Last I heard about him, he was quite unpopular with Ahnlikohn’s citizens.”

“It’s not about whether or not Harring was popular,” Kirk said. “Harring had been protected for Isaac’s sake, which was why he remained chancellor even after what had happened.”

“Then why kill him?” Henry asked. “If he was useful, then why couldn’t Isaac have somebody target the royal family instead? Both the queen and the prince were shaken up over Prince Amile’s actions and I’m sure that there are many who would’ve liked to see them pay.”

“He was useful to Isaac, that much is true,” Kirk replied. “That’s why Isaac disposed of him. Harring was just a tool for Foundation do they could stage their attack and create panic within the borders. Ahnlikohn’s already taken hits before, which is why it was easy for Isaac to do what he did.”

“I understand that,” Henry said. “Though I have to wonder about Sorin and why the queen blamed him for the assassination. Was that part of Isaac’s doing, too?”

“I’m pretty sure of it,” Kirk said.

Henry placed his hand on his chin. “It truly does baffle me,” he said. “Why did Isaac target Sorin, then? They don’t have any connections to each other, do they?”

“If I had to suspect, it’s because of me,” Kirk replied. “No… was this also the reason for Rysol’s abduction as well?”

“Rysol?” Henry asked. “Are you saying that Rysol was kidnapped by Isaac? Was he trying to draw you out?”

Kirk cradled his forehead in his hand. “That can’t be it,” he said. “No, Isaac was in Ameci when that happened…”

“You’re not talking about what happened earlier this month, are you?” Eva asked. “We would have seen him by now if Isaac had taken him.”

“Damn it, this is confusing me,” Kirk said. “Sorin was blamed, but Rysol was kidnapped. Isaac… he isn’t working alone in this.”

“We know that,” Eva said. “He’s got the president and General Fercewend at his command!”

“I still can’t believe what Rohan did,” Henry said.

“No, I’m not talking about either of them,” Kirk replied. “They’re just tools for Isaac to use. Who I’m talking about is not involved at all with Ameci, nor are this man a part of the Thekohnian Region. Damn it, I really should have seen this a lot sooner…”

“Who are you talking about?” Henry asked. “Would I happen to know this man?”

“You’ve probably heard about his name, but nothing more than that,” Kirk replied. “He’s… Well, let’s just say he’s a unique case.”

Eva sighed. “Please tell me you’re not talking about him,” she said. “Kirk, it’s been many years… There’s no way that he could possibly be alive, especially not after what he did and what happened to him!”

“Eva, it’s hard to believe it myself, but it makes way too much sense,” Kirk said. “I had wondered why all of this was happening now, but considering what we’re dealing with right now, it only stands to reason that he’s still alive and kicking.”

“Don’t be an idiot, Kirk,” Eva replied. “You ought to know what happened to him! He’s dead and there’s nothing more to it than that.”

“I want to believe that, I really do,” Kirk said, “But that man is resilient. He doesn’t know how to give up, even when it looks like the odds are stacked against him. Such a strong will would be admirable if weren’t for his crimes.”

“Okay, I think I get the idea,” Henry said. “At least, I get the fact that we’re dealing with a lot more than just Isaac digging his claws into Ameci affairs. What I don’t understand is why you’re just coming to this conclusion all of a sudden, Kirk. How does this man you’re talking about factor into this?”

Kirk took a few steps away from Henry and Eva and turned around. “When April was killed trying to save Sorin and Rysol, I wanted to know desperately who would do such a thing,” he replied. “Was it a terrorist? Was it the workings of the Thekohnian military? Or was it just a sick fuck looking for a cheap thrill? That day, when it felt like nearly everything had been taken away, I knew that there was more to it than that.”

“Was Isaac behind it?” Henry asked.

“The thought crossed my mind, but no, he had nothing to do with it,” Kirk said. “Isaac had only just inherited Kunigunde Industries from his father; with that as well as the birth of his daughter, Isaac was too busy with paperwork back then to even think about plotting against me.”

“Yet he does hold contempt for you,” Henry said. “I guess it’s not surprising, given Isaac seems to think less about a lot of people…”

“When you fight to change the world for the better, it attracts attention,” Eva said. “A lot of attention, both good and bad. Isaac would prefer to stay with the status quo for his sake, though there are others who genuinely believe in following that path because that’s all they’ve ever known.”

“There’s a lot of people who want to see me meet my end,” Kirk said. “One such man existed in Ameci, though I could never guess why he had such hatred for me. Now, though, it makes more sense why he’d carry out such an attack against my family.”

“Kirk, please, there’s no way he’d be alive,” Eva said.

“I think it’d be easier for me to understand if you just told me who you guys are talking about,” Henry said.

“I’m sorry,” Eva said. “It’s just that this idiot is too stubborn to realize that we’ve already been through this once before and there’s no need to dwell on it any longer.”

“Perhaps it’s okay to tell you, Henry,” Kirk said. “Although, I’ve said you may have heard of his name, just telling you his name wouldn’t do you any good. No, there’s more to it than that.”

“That much I can tell, apparently,” Henry replied. “Please just say it and quit stalling.”

Kirk nodded. “Understood. I’ll tell you all that I know,” he said. “There’s a reason why I avoid mentioning this man’s name. Not only has he caused a great deal of ire towards many people thanks to his ideas, but he had earned a moniker befitting of his mannerisms and the pain he caused.”

Henry listened as Kirk revealed this title: The Ruthless. A simple name, yet one that carried ample amounts of dread that made Henry’s stomach twist. The name brought up memories of the past that Henry thought he and several other Ameci had forgotten, but now it had came back to the forefront. There was no doubt about what The Ruthless had done for so many years during the War of the Lands that countries were still trying to recover from his evil. That was when Henry realized where Kirk was going when he brought up the name, and he soon would not forget about it any time soon.

“Now where should I begin?” Kirk asked.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 18 (Part 1)

[22nd of December, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Wings of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]

 

There was a somber mood all throughout the Glora Grand Hall the next morning as Rain went upstairs in order to meet with Amelia. Rain had worked hard over the past few weeks in order to bring everyone together, but the summit was left up in the air due to yesterday’s attack. Rain worried about whether or not they would continue, climbing up the stairs with her advisors while Mina tried her best to keep everyone’s spirits up.

“We can’t let them get away with this,” Mina said. “You’re going to go talk with the queen of this country and make everything right, I just know it!”

“Thank you,” Rain said. “I want to share your optimism, so let’s all hope that we’ll be able to work everything out.”

“If anything, we gotta hope that Queen Amelia is ready to make sense of all that’s happened,” Dustin said. “I can’t blame her for wanting to find the guy who’s responsible for the chancellor’s death, but I’m sure you two can get a good start in clearing Sorin’s name.”

“That is the most important thing, Sir Dustin,” Rain said. She stopped and set her sights ahead. “It appears we don’t have to walk any further.”

Gamal looked over and spotted Amelia talking to General Fercewend. “And it looks like she’s already deep in conversation with our colleague.”

“Let’s go,” Rain said.

Rain led the three forward and met with both Queen Amelia and General Fercewend, the two turning to greet them. Though the two of them were kind to her, Rain felt the lack of effort that was given in Fercewend’s handshake. On the other side, Amelia did not bother to shake hands and only focused on the general. Regardless, Rain decided to start the conversation.

“Are you doing well?” Rain asked Amelia. “I can’t even begin to imagine the pain you and your son must be going through.”

“Yes, she has been going through a lot,” Fercewend said. “Though I wonder to myself if it is necessary for you to try and talk to her right now.”

“I only wish to help,” Rain replied. “You must feel the same way, General Fercewend, because why else would you come here?”

“It really seems to be a bad time, general,” Amelia said. “After all that’s been said and done, I want nothing to do with this entire charade.”

“Trust me, I am doing my best to find the ones responsible,” Fercewend said. “Even if there’s a possibility that they may be in this building, I will promise that if we work together, our military and yours can work together to put a stop to this malevolent organization.”

“You’ve been saying this, yet was it not your men who shot and killed so many yesterday?” Amelia asked.

Fercewend sighed. “It is a regret that I have, but I promise their intentions were for the greater good,” he replied. “They were supposed to find a defector in the midst but they were unsuccessful in doing so and for that, I apologize deeply for what happened.”

“I would like to think that they did not start the attack just because they were upset they didn’t find who they were looking for,” Amelia said.

“According to the commander of that troop, they were attacked by a couple of assailants sympathetic to the traitor,” Fercewend said. “It appeared to be quite a scuffle that got out of hand.”

Dustin shrugged and laughed. “Come on, General Fercewend, you can’t call yourself a proper general if you’re not on top of everything,” he said. “You gotta hold those fellows responsible for what they’ve done, accident or no.”

“Dustin, please,” Gamal said.

“No, he is allowed to have his opinion,” Fercewend said. “Even if I may not care too much for his tone, he’s allowed to air his grievances against the Ameci military.”

“Ah, I’m not airing any grievances at anyone but you, general,” Dustin said. “As a former sailor, we all made our share of mistakes, but the captain’s the one who speaks for them when a big fuckup happens. You, sir, have got a big fuckup that you need to speak for and I’m not that sure that Queen Amelia has enough patience to stand here for much longer.”

“Tell me, you are an Ameci, aren’t you?” Fercewend asked.

“Well yeah, sure,” Dustin replied.

“Then you would know that the general bears a lot of responsibilities in guarding the country and its order,” Fercewend said. “I do my absolute best to fulfill that duty by making sure that that order is maintained, as well as making sure that Ameci works alongside its allies.”

“Good for you,” Dustin said. “I would give you a gold star, but it appears I’m all out of stars.”

“Sir Dustin, I really don’t think that now’s the time,” Rain said. “After all, we came here for a different reason, didn’t we?”

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but that’s one order I’m going to have to ignore,” Dustin said. “So, general, you’re concerned more about order than you are doing the right thing, aren’t you?”

“I did not say that,” Fercewend replied. “All I said was that I had a duty to fulfill and I will fulfill it regardless of what you or anyone else may say. A general doesn’t worry himself about what’s right, he just does his job.”

“It seems like you’re deep in conversation with this individual,” Amelia said. “I suppose it’s time for me to head off and meet with my advisors, so I’ll see you and President Bradley soon.”

“You’re leaving already?” Rain asked.

“Again, it is a stressful time,” Amelia said. “I had a bad feeling about the timing of this summit before it started and it seems that my suspicions were correct. If I am to be honest with you, Queen Rain, then I blame you for leading forth with such negligence not only against Ahnlikohn, but the entire region of Thekohn. It is times like now in which I am left wondering if you have some sort of ulterior motive in mind.”

“I don’t understand why you would believe that,” Rain said. “Through the process, you and I have been complementary towards one another and I’ve even offered to help you restore trust with the people of this country. Why now, in a time of need, do you decide to reject that offer?”

“I’ve already told you,” Amelia replied. “Bringing forth so many people here to this city invited trouble, yet you had tricked me into believing that it would all be okay.”

“It was a great misstep on all our parts,” Fercewend said. “Though even if it was disastrous, the Ameci government and I are willing to work with you to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

“You are treading on the thinnest of ice here, general,” Amelia said. “It was an Ameci that assassinated the chancellor, so indeed it was a great misstep by you in letting him run wild.”

“Believe me, I had trouble believing it at first,” Fercewend said, “But after sleeping it over, I am certain that without a doubt that that man was the one who put an end to Gerhardt Harring’s life.”

“Are you certain, General Fercewend?” Rain asked. “Are you able to make that claim with no doubts in your mind?”

“With all that’s been provided to me, I have no doubts,” Fercewend replied. “That’s why I find it important to work with Queen Amelia here and capture this man before he has a chance to strike again.”

“If you are certain, then let us see the evidence,” Rain said. “There may be a possibility that this assassination was all set up.”

“I don’t think so,” Fercewend said.

“Why not?” Mina asked. “She’s offering to help you guys out!”

Fercewend looked at Amelia. “This is starting to become a rather difficult situation,” he said. “If you are willing to later, then I can talk with you further about everything, even Mr. Wilk’s organization.”

“I’ll give you ten minutes at maximum,” Amelia replied.

“Then let us go up to your office,” Fercewend said.

Neither Fercewend nor Amelia said goodbye to Rain or the others as they made their way upstairs. Other groups arrived, but they ignored Rain and headed for their meeting rooms. She turned to Mina and sighed.

“I suppose it was too early,” Rain said. “Maybe I was impulsive in trying to speak with her so soon.”

“No, Rain, you’re not the one who’s impulsive,” Mina replied. “It’s Amelia! Why did she change so suddenly? I thought she wanted your help!”

“I’ve got no idea,” Rain said.

“Aha, too bad, ‘Your Majesty,’ but it looks like Queen Amelia sees through your pathetic ruse!”

Rain turned around and saw Isaac. He glared right at her with an ecstatic smile as he began to walk towards her. Mina clenched her fists, though Rain put a hand on her shoulder. Dustin and Gamal walked forward to Rain’s side.

“I don’t think Her Majesty asked for your input,” Gamal said. “You would do best to turn around and walk the other way.”

“You’re Gamil’s son, aren’t you?” Isaac asked. “A former baseball player, am I correct?”

“That has nothing to do with what I said,” Gamal replied. “If you are here just to gloat, then you should turn the other way and walk.”

“Listen to me when I’m talking,” Isaac said. “You’re nothing more than a mere minor leaguer in my eyes, as is that woman there. It is only a matter of time until others begin to see how incompetently dangerous you truly are, Rain Zano Thedam, so I would suggest you that you learn your place.”

“Who has asked you?” Rain asked. “I think if anyone is dangerous, then you should look at your reflection.”

Isaac laughed and looked away. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said. “Was it I who decided to hold a summit in a place already reeling from tragedy and was at its tipping point? Was it I who worked alongside one of the sympathizers of Ameci’s most dangerous traitor? Or was it I that knowingly did so regardless? You are but a foolish person to think that I could ever be caught doing anything like that.”

“You must not have listened, then,” Rain said. “Because I heard everything from the leader of the Neu Thekohnian Order herself. You may act as if you have nothing to lose, but deep down, I can tell that you are scared.”

“Don’t even bother, Your Majesty,” Dustin said. “I know a guy like him isn’t going to care. Even if he is scared, he’s not about to show it to us.”

“Yeah, he’s just a coward, that’s all,” Mina said.

“I guess we’ll have to see for ourselves, won’t we?” Isaac asked. “I will tell you this, though: all that you hold dear… well, I would suggest that you value their importance greatly.”

“You can’t threaten Her Majesty,” Gamal said. “I would sooner have you on the ground before you even try anything.”

Isaac smirked. “I dare you to try, Mr. Gomel,” he said. “Or do you not value Her Majesty’s sister? I hear she misses her brother greatly… Perhaps a reunion is in order for her?”

“That’s enough,” Rain said. “You’ve already done enough to bring harm to everyone and I will not allow you to bring forth any more.”

“Looks as if I’ve hit that nerve of yours,” Isaac replied. “But I am just a nice fellow that only wants what’s best for Ameci and the Thekohnian Region.”

“Go away,” Rain said.

“Well, it seems to me that I know when I’m not wanted,” Isaac said. “I can only hope you know when you’re not wanted, because it certainly does seem that Queen Amelia doesn’t want you here.”

Rain watched as Isaac turned around and left down the stairs to the first floor. She had remained calm all throughout her conversation with him, but after what had happened, she did not want anything more to do with him. Isaac only served to bring displeasure to her and her friends, and it was only amplified by the fact that he was the one behind all of the madness that had plagued the Thekohnian Region for the past few months.

“That villain!” Mina exclaimed. “I really wish I’d punched him! That way, he’d know what true justice looked like!”

“True, Isaac’s displayed a complete lack of remorse regarding the attack,” Gamal said. “If he’s trying to look innocent, then he’s not doing a very good job of showing it.”

“It’s because he wants to see me break,” Rain said. “All throughout our talk, Isaac sought to antagonize us by using death threats and cheap slights whenever he feels like it. I do have to admit that he got to me, if only for a moment, with what he said regarding Storm.”

Dustin stretched his arms upward. “Pardon my Theias, Your Majesty, but I must say that Isaac Kunigunde is a goddamned prick,” he said. “I swear to you I’ll help you and your pal Sorin find a way to take down this asshole, even if I have to do it alone.”

“You can’t be serious, Dustin,” Gamal said. “There’s too much risk if you go it alone! Where would you even start?”

“Besides, it’s not like we’ll get to see the top floor where the assassination took place,” Rain said. “Considering how Amelia feels about me, it may take some time before we begin to see some progress.”

“Then what about Sorin?” Mina asked. “We all know he didn’t assassinate the chancellor and we know it had to be Isaac somehow! There’s no way I’ll ever be content with letting a villain like him walk away like this!”

“We’ll just have to report back to him when we get the chance,” Rain said. “As for Sorin, he should be on the way to the kingdom as we speak.”

“So what’s next, Your Majesty?” Gamal asked. “I know you wanted to speak with Queen Amelia, but as you said, that doesn’t seem like a possibility now.”

“There is one other person I want to talk to,” Rain replied. “If I recall, he should be at the hotel.”

And so, Rain left downstairs with Mina and her advisors. With how hectic everything had become, Rain did have one person that she could confide in. She just needed to get there before Karim Khadir left.

 

To be continued…

 

Previous | Next Part

Aurora – Chapter 14 (Part 1)

[20th of December, 2740 AD; Glora Grand Hall – The Talons of the Albatross, Glora, Ahnlikohn]

 

“Ready to go, Rain?” Mina asked.

“Of course, my love,” Rain replied. “I’ve got much to do and much to see today, after all. So many people are waiting for me.”

Mina celebrated by pumping her fists into the air. “Yay! Let’s get out there and meet some people!”

Rain and Mina entered the Glora Grand Hall from the side, with Dustin and Gamal accompanying them. It was finally time for the summit began as Rain could not wait to meet with the other leaders. The first real step towards a more united world was now possible, Rain thought as she walked hand-in-hand with Mina. Despite all that had happened, Rain carried a confident face as she, Mina, and the advisers made their way into the main hall. When they did, Karim Khadir noticed the group and hurried over to them as several other Maeitakohnian officials went with him.

“Ah, Your Majesty, I’m very ecstatic to see you right now,” Khadir said. “It’s been one hell of a trip so far…”

“I can only imagine what you’re going through,” Rain said.

“Yeah, I had no clue you’d be moving up the ranks so quickly,” Dustin said. “Guess that’s changed a lot for you, hasn’t it?”

Khadir sighed. “If I must be honest with you, it’s a real pain in the ass,” he said. “I had a feeling that Mahrk had no chance once his own men rose up against him, but never did I expect it to happen so swiftly! It’s like watching a bunch of headless chickens out there.”

“That just means it’s important for all of us to work together,” Mina said. “As long as we can do that, we’ll be sure to deal with any villain!”

“You’re quite headstrong and valiant, Miss Rask,” Khadir replied, “But I’m only the acting president for the time being.”

“Yet you should have an idea of what happens next for Maeitakohn,” Gamal said.

“True, we should have left it to the people to decide Maeitakohn’s fate,” Khadir said. “In due time, I will do my best to set up the next election so that we have a real leader and not just a guy like me pretending to be one.”

“Does that mean you’ll go back to being a general once it’s all over?” Rain asked.

“Some of us lead best when we’re in the right environment, Your Majesty,” Khadir said. “Mine just happens to be the military, not the palace.”

“I see,” Rain said.

“Yes, which is why I want to move this talk of ours down a different track,” Khadir replied. “I’ve been seeing a lot of that Isaac Kunigunde fellow out here today. He’s been chatting up nearly everybody in a five mile radius, it seems like! You haven’t talked to him yet, have you?”

“I have not,” Rain answered, “Though I’m hoping to speak with him as well as the Ameci president and general before the talks officially begin.”

“But we should be careful,” Mina said. “We know what he’s capable of doing, Rain!”

“So you can feel it, too?” Khadir asked. “If I have to be honest, a guy like myself could never put my faith in a man like that. You see, my life was less than fortunate growing up and guys like him either treated the poor like dog crap at worst or ignored us altogether at best.”

“I know only a little about our friend Mr. Kunigunde, but from what I’ve heard, he sounds like a real jackass,” Dustin said.

“Well, he’s already been getting really friendly with the Iiayikohnian prime minister,” Khadir replied. “I can only wonder what’s going on in that man’s head right now, though perhaps it’s for the best that I don’t know.”

He took a couple of steps away and looked around before talking to his people. Rain knew the time was drawing near for everyone to meet in the main conference room and she had to be the one to lead the way. She could only hope the other leaders in the Thekohnian Region would be on the same as well as Khadir turned back to face her.

“Looks like these guys want to get moving,” Khadir said. “I will see you up on the stage soon, Your Majesty.”

“Then I will see you there,” Rain replied.

Khadir made his exit, leaving Rain with Mina and the advisers. She was all too familiar with the influence that Isaac Kunigunde had over people, her mother included. It only served to remind Rain about how important it was for her to complete the summit.

“I’m surprised that you didn’t bring up Mr. Kunigunde’s connections, Your Majesty,” Gamal said. “Surely it would serve us well to have the Maeita president completely on our side.”

“He’s completely on our side already!” Mina said as she clenched her fist. “Just like all of our friends, Khadir’s got nothing but for support for us!”

“I don’t doubt his support for one moment, Sir Gamal,” Rain said, “But we still have so much to depend on before we truly confront Isaac Kunigunde and Foundation.”

“Yeah, you got a point there,” Dustin said. “Can’t just go rushing in without having the proper plan in place, can we?”

“No we cannot,” Rain replied.

“And we know that Sorin and the others are working hard, too,” Mina said. “As long as we’re working together, we’ll be able to take down these villains in no time!”

“I really hope so,” Rain said. “Then, finally, we will be able to progress towards our goals.”

“Don’t look now, Your Majesty, but the man of the hour’s coming our way,” Gamal said. “I guess he heard us talking about him.”

Rain looked and saw Isaac Kunigunde walking towards her group. He was not alone, however, as President Bradley, his son, and Rohan Fercewend walked alongside him.

“Better brace ourselves,” Dustin said. “Who knows what he’s about to say to us?”

“He may subdue himself,” Rain said. “With a group like that, he won’t want to stir up too much trouble.”

Isaac approached the group with his arms crossed. “Guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to find you here,” he said to Rain. “The so-called shining star of the region herself is finally ready to make her grand appearance, it seems.”

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Rain said. “Do you mind? I wish to speak with the Ameci president.”

“Oh, do I mind?” Isaac asked. “Well, I mind quite a bit, you know. After all, I’m quite a busy man with more important things to do than speak to you.”

“Perhaps it’s best we entertain her request,” Casper said. “You’ve been doing a lot of talking on my behalf, Isaac… I think it’d be nice for you to rest that jaw of yours.”

“You sound so certain, sir,” Isaac said. “I wonder… Well, maybe I’ll just sit back a bit and let the two of you have a little chit-chat. Not like it will actually matter, but you two go on ahead.”

“Excuse me, pops,” Bradley said. “You mind if I go upstairs for a bit? This headache has been killing me for a while now.”

“And end up missing this exciting display of wits?” Isaac asked. “What do you think, sir?”

“It’s fine,” Casper replied. “You had quite a night last night. You deserve a little relaxation for all your hard work. How about it, general?”

Fercewend nodded. “Yes, I think it might be a good time for me, too,” he said. “Come, Bradley, we’ll go upstairs together.”

Bradley then left with Fercewend. There was no impact to be made, Rain thought, as now she had the Ameci President and Isaac to deal with. She knew that she had to remain strong against him in this confrontation.

“I think you ought to be careful, Mr. President,” Isaac said. “I think I may have heard a few unsavory things being spoken by one of the queen’s men right over there.”

“Don’t worry about my adviser,” Rain said, “Besides, this conversation is between the president and I.”

“Yeah, so you’d best keep your nose out of official business,” Dustin said. “That could do you some good, I imagine.”

“Then I’d suggest you do the same,” Isaac replied before muttering under his breath. “A poor excuse of a fool, clod.”

“Mind speaking up?” Dustin asked. “Come on, say it so that the rest of the class to hear, pal.”

Isaac scoffed. “If this is the kind of company that you keep, ‘Your Majesty,’ that says a lot about you.”

“She didn’t say a damn thing about you,” Dustin said. “Hell, you wanna blame me, then do so; doesn’t change the fact that what I said is true.”

“Casper, I think it’s about time for us to move along,” Isaac said. “I knew there was something up about this woman, and with her personal lowlife guards frothing at the mouth ready to bite, it looks like I was right. As I always am, of course.”

As Casper turned and began to walk away with Isaac out of the main hall, Rain took one step forward and spoke up.

“One question,” Rain said. “That is all I want.”

Isaac gazed back at Rain and walked towards her. “Listen to me, you insignificant wench,” he said, “You are but a small fish in an ocean here, so you would do well to know your place lest you end up meeting the same fate as your parents.”

Mina began to walk up with her fists balled up. “How dare you…”

“Mina, don’t,” Rain said.

“But Rain!” Mina exclaimed.

Isaac smirked and turned away. “Seems the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn has no end to their contempt for us, Casper.”

Rain felt the same way Mina did, true, but she had just been placed into a situation that she was worried about. It was important for her to get everyone to work together, but thanks to Isaac, that cast some doubt on Rain’s vision for the summit. Still, she had to keep her head up. Rain had to have hope. Someone had to, anyway. Even if she was upset by what Isaac said to her, Rain was not about to let him win. She still had many other ways to handle the summit, even without Ameci’s help.

“How could you just let him walk like that?” Mina asked. “We can’t just let a villain like him get away with what he’s done.”

“I’m not letting him get away, Mina,” Rain replied. “None of us are. As long as we know what we know, Isaac will not walk away.”

“I just wish I could have punched him,” Mina said. “Just one chance, I’d have knocked that evil smile of his off his stupid face!”

Dustin laughed. “That’s about how I feel right now, Miss Rask! God damn, he’s just one condescending quip after another.”

“Yet it does us little good to fight him directly,” Gamal said. “He is a man with many connections, no doubt those people would find it easy to strike back at us without a second thought.”

“Besides, he’s not the type of villain who can be fought head on,” Rain said. “He has stayed behind the scenes of the Neu Thekohnian Order for a reason, and that’s because he’s afraid of what we’re capable of doing—no, what we’re going to do here, rather.”

“People like him really hate it when they get told no,” Dustin replied. “Mr. Kunigunde is the type of guy that is just used to having people placing their lips right on his ass, that when someone decides not to do that, he just starts throwing a fit inside his head. Do you think I’m right on the nose there with that assertion, Your Majesty?”

“That seems about right,” Mina said. “I wonder if he’s just throwing a fit upstairs thinking about how you just messed with him, Rain!”

She began to laugh as Rain cracked a smile. However, Rain knew that she could not get too happy. Not yet. As long as there was still concern, Rain had to stay focused on the goal at hand.

“We still have a few minutes before things begin,” Rain said. “It would be a good idea if we got some refreshments, don’t you think?”

Mina nodded and hugged Rain. “That’d be a really good idea!”

“Then it’s settled,” Rain said as she hugged Mina back. She shared a brief kiss with Mina before moving ahead. “If I recall, the beverage counter isn’t too far away from here.”

“Well, looks like we’re all happy again,” Dustin said. “That’s gotta be good, don’t you think?”

Gamal proceeded to walk. “Let’s just go already,” he said. “The queen’s got a lot that she wants to do today and I intend on helping her in any way that I can, as should you.”

“Just asking you a question, sheesh,” Dustin replied. “Oh fine then, let’s just move along then.”

 

To be continued…

 

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Aurora – Chapter 10 (Part 2)

[6th of December, 2740 AD; New Prime Minister’s Office, Rezar, Iiayikohn – Deca District]

 

A silent tension filled the air as Rain walked out of the prime minister’s office. She had been accompanied by her advisers, as well as General Reiss and Ayanna Ansa. The meeting was brief but all throughout Rain could notice the look on Dezine’s face as she mentioned the summit. She could not quite place what it was about Dezine that bothered her, but remained calm and informed him of all that he needed to know going forward. Then, there was a brief moment between Dezine and Reiss that involved the events that had transpired the night before. Rain found it odd for Dezine to bring it up during the meeting, but his insistence had prompted Reiss to respond.

“Never in my life have I ever been questioned like that,” Reiss said. “No offense to him, but the prime minister’s got some nerve telling me that we can’t do anything about those hooligans.”

“I’m sorry,” Rain said.

“No, you don’t need to tell me that, Your Majesty,” Reiss replied. “I’ve got no problem with Dezine usually, but he really had to go and make an arse of himself during your time. If I wasn’t such a nice fellow, I’d pull him by the collar and give him a straight lashing, my god!”

“Could have waited until after the meeting for him to give you the what for, I guess,” Dustin said. “Also, I’m not the only one who got a little too fixated on the prime minister’s chompers, am I?”

“Why would you ask that?” Gamal asked.

“You know why,” Dustin replied. “Guy’s a foot closer to the grave than he is the river; you’ve got to think that those dentures are a little too big for his mouth, don’t you think?”

“Regardless, there’s little we can do about what Dezine said now,” Ayanna said. “As for you, Your Majesty, now that you’ve finished up here, I assume that you’ll be heading off down to Maeitakohn?”

“Soon enough,” Rain answered. “It’s been a while since I’ve got to see some friends, so I want to spend more quality time with them before I head off.”

“I understand,” Ayanna said. “Then I shall see you later.”

Ayanna and Reiss walked off while Rain went in the other direction with her advisers. As for what Sorin asked her, Rain was able to arrange something with Ayanna to make sure that Jelka was transported out of Iiayikohn safely by the end of the day. Rain knew that Sorin would be relieved by the news once he heard it. All that remained now was to hurry back to Drake’s house and meet with everyone once again, but first, Rain had to make a call to a couple of important people.

 

*****

 

[6th of December, 2740 AD; Del Bosque household, Habicht, Ahnlikohn]

 

“I’m home!” Luna exclaimed.

Luna Del Bosque kicked the front door open and entered the house. She ran inside as Pekka Varjostaa lumbered behind her, holding several bags in his arms. The two had just arrived after a trip to the market, which had started to become a weekly endeavor between the two. She had not been able to say it to him, but Luna believed Pekka to be somewhat of a significant family member in the Del Bosque household as he tried to live a simple life. That’s why Luna was surprised when she saw her father, Lino, standing by the entrance to the kitchen with the phone in his hand.

“Ah, she just came in, Your Majesty,” Lino said. “Here, I’ll give the phone right to her. No, I should be the one thanking you!”

He laughed as Luna walked up to him. Judging by what he just said, it was obvious that he was speaking to Rain. It had been some time since she saw the queen, given that it was around the time of her birthday, but Luna was happy to speak with her friend regardless. She snatched the phone receiver out of Lino’s hand and put it to her ear.

“Hi Rain,” Luna said. “How are you?”

“I’m good, thank you,” Rain replied. “Thank god that you answered; I had no clue how long I was going to have to wait until you were there.”

“Well, it’s been a busy day for me, you know,” Luna said. “Me and Pekka have been out all day doing all sorts of stuff! Oh, but nothing like what you might think could happen, because Pekka isn’t into that.”

“What are you saying to her?” Pekka asked, now with all of the bags out of his hands. “What sort of conversation is this?”

“Oh, nothing, Pekka,” Luna replied. “See, Rain? We’re like brother and sister now!”

Rain laughed. “I can tell,” she said. “Anyway, I wanted to call you because there’s something I need you two to do before the summit happens.”

“Oh, really?” Luna asked. “Are we going to spy on that Kunigunde guy? Is it secret documents that you’re after?”

“No, nothing like that,” Rain answered. “I need you two to go down to the train station in Helm. There’s somebody that you have to meet.”

Luna tightened her grip on the phone. “Somebody we have to meet?”

“Hold on,” Pekka said as he grabbed the phone away from Luna, who leaned into him in response. “Who are we supposed to meet?”

“It’s Jelka Arne,” Rain replied. “I’ve arranged for her to arrive in Helm about a few hours from now.”

“She’s been moving along, hasn’t she?” Pekka asked. “That’s no surprise, I guess.”

“It would be easier if I explained it to you,” Rain said.

Luna continued to listen in as Rain relayed all of what she knew to Pekka. Upon the news of Johan’s reemergence, Pekka clenched his fist while Luna leapt up. She took back the phone from Pekka and began to speak.

“What do you mean that Johan’s still alive?” Luna asked.

“It’s as I said,” Rain replied.

“You mean to tell me that Sorin lied to us?” Luna asked. “All those tears I cried were for nothing? I can’t believe it!”

“Luna, please listen,” Rain said, “Sorin said that he had no choice but to tell us that.”

Rain continued on with what she learned from Sorin, while Pekka took back the receiver. Luna was back to listening in again as fury began to build up inside her. What Korbin and his men had done was unforgivable, that much Luna knew. She looked at Pekka and could tell that he agreed. After Rain finished her explanation, Pekka was ready to speak.

“I’m not sure what you want us to do with Jelka, but we’ll do it,” Pekka said. “Surely there’s a good explanation that she can give us.”

“If Sorin’s right, then Jelka will tell you everything you need to know,” Rain replied. “Tensions are rising ever higher and I don’t want this summit to become the backdrop to something else.”

“Which is why we’re handling business over here, it seems,” Pekka said.

“I can trust you two,” Rain told him. “If it wasn’t for your help, who knows what would have happened with the Neu Thekohnian Order?”

“Don’t think that either Luna or I doubted that,” Pekka replied.

“That’s good to hear,” Rain said. “Hopefully we will get to meet again soon once everything’s set.”

“I’m sure that we will,” Pekka said. “Thank you.”

After exchanging goodbyes, Pekka placed the phone back down. He exhaled as Luna continued to lean on him, looking back as she tried not to laugh out loud.

“What’s so funny?” Pekka asked.

“You can act as tough as you’d like, but I can hear it in your voice,” Luna said. “That feeling of relief is because of Johan, isn’t it?”

“Come on, Luna… Don’t be so ridiculous,” Pekka replied. “I’m just happy that he’s still alive, that’s all. Now get off of me!”

“Okay, okay, I’ll leave it alone,” Luna said as she backed off. “So when are we heading out, you think?”

“To think that he’s still out there, just playing us all,” Pekka said.

“Hello? Are you still there, Pekka?” Luna asked. “We can worry about that guy later! Let’s hurry and put this stuff away so we can go meet Jelka!”

“I heard you the first time,” he replied.

Luna hurried up into the main hallway and picked up some of the bags, with Pekka following after her. They knew that they could not miss Jelka’s arrival nor did either of them want to be late. It was even more important for Luna, who could finally confront Jelka over what had happened to her brother in the past. She had that chance and was not going to miss out on it.

 

*****

 

Driving to Helm proved to be effortless, as Luna took the wheel and Pekka sat in the passenger’s seat. She could tell that he had his concerns, but she managed to prove to him that everything would be okay. At least, that was what she believed. As the two got out of the car and moved towards the train station, Pekka eyed over at Luna.

“I will admit that the trip down here wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” he said. “Still, I’m surprised that we made it in time.”

Luna giggled. “It’s my specialty,” she said. “I can get us here faster than a cat goes after a dangling thread!”

“I’m not sure that you should be bragging about how fast you can drive,” Pekka replied. “But we’re already here, so it’s best if we put that behind us.”

Luna took a couple of steps forward and scoured the entrance to the train station. People moved in and out through the doors as the loud blare of the train’s whistle echoed throughout.

“There’s so many people,” she said. “Do you think we’ll really find Jelka out here?”

“I’m sure we will,” Pekka said.

“So, do you think she’s really on our side now?” Luna asked.

Pekka crossed his arms. “Do you think she is?”

“Well, that’s what I’m asking you,” Luna replied. “I can get that she was a part of the Neu Thekohnian Order only because of Ahga’s influence, but still, that group was responsible for killing my brother. I don’t know if I’m completely on board with forgiving Jelka, you know?”

“That’s if she asks you to forgive her,” Pekka said.

“I’m sure she would once I talked to her,” Luna said.

“And what makes you believe that?”

“To be honest with you, I don’t know,” Luna answered. “I guess I just expect her to because it’s the sort of thing someone does.”

“And yet you can easily accept me,” Pekka said.

“I do,” Luna said.

“To be fair, there’s a bit I want to say to Jelka as well,” Pekka said. “Mainly, I want to know what Johan said to her to get her to join him.”

“It always comes back to Johan, doesn’t it?” Luna asked.

“You know what I mean,” Pekka replied.

“Of course I do,” she said. “Don’t you remember what he said to you when you two first met?”

“There’s no way I’d ever forget what he said to me,” Pekka said. “Wait, don’t try and change the subject on me, Luna!”

“Was it really that obvious?” Luna asked.

Pekka shook his head. “So, what I wanted to say about Jelka is that she, like me, came into that organization because of hopelessness,” he said. “I got out of the True Thekohnians because of hope, and I’m certain that Jelka joined up with Johan because of hope, too.”

“Maybe,” Luna said. “I guess I learned something from you, huh?”

“If anything, you taught me something,” Pekka said.

“What’s that?”

“That you are willing to forgive Jelka, whether you realize it or not,” Pekka replied. “Why else would you bring this up?”

Luna turned away as she fiddled with her ponytail. “I guess you’re right.”

“It’s not that I’m right, it’s that you believe in people,” he said. “Say, do you think that someone is watching us?”

“W-Why so sudden?” Luna asked as she looked around.

“Forgive me, I thought that I saw someone,” Pekka replied.

Luna grinned. “Oh, was it Johan?”

“I know what you’re trying to do,” he said. “Hold on, I think I see Jelka coming out. Let’s go!”

“Wait, that’s really her!” Luna exclaimed.

Luna and Pekka rushed over to where Jelka stood and greeted her by the front door. However, as they greeted her, it appeared that Pekka’s perception had been correct. Over in the building on the other side of the street was a pair of binoculars poking out of an open window. Somebody stood on the other side while Luna and Pekka helped escort Jelka to the car.

 

To be continued…

 

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